22nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question on a matter of urgency affecting large numbers of persons who are small investors in government loans. I presume the Treasurer has noticed that there has been a sharp fall in the prices for Commonwealth bonds on the Sydney and Melbourne stock exchanges. Was the primary cause of that fall a sudden withdrawal from the market by regular government buying agencies? Will the right honorable gentleman tell the House and the nation whether that withdrawal took place at the direction, or with the knowledge, of the Government? Is it not a fact that, as a result of the sharp fall in those prices, many small investors have found that the capital value of their securities has declined further? Is it not true, also, that the profits from that sudden fall must have been obtained, for the most part, by large financial institutions or interests? Will the Treasurer explain the situation on that point to the House, and state what steps he is prepared to take to protect the small investors who have found the capital value of their bonds declining and, as a result, cannot find finance even for housing?
– I take the opportunity to inform the Leader of the Opposition and the House that every bondholder, by reason of the very nature of the transaction when he or she buys a bond, enters into a contract with the Commonwealth Government. That is a contract under which the Government, as the agent for the Australian Loan Council, undertakes to pay a certain fixed and stipulated rate of interest and to repay the capital, if necessary, on a definite date of maturity. Many people who have taken up bonds with all the long-term advantages as to interest and other benefits, including tax concessions, have overlooked the fact that this Government has provided an opportunity in every loan for investors to take up short-term bonds, which will meet the conditions to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred.
In other words, the investors who desire to dispose of their bonds before the date of maturity and who, as a consequence, effect the transaction at a capital disadvantage, have had the opportunity to take up short-term bonds in every loan. The shortest term was twelve months. Shortterm loans were introduced by this Government to protect the small investors who might find themselves unable to hold their bonds for a long term to maturity. As the right honorable gentleman knows, the Commonwealth Bank has supported the loan market for quite a long time. It has not withdrawn its support. The people who want to get rid of their bonds have the opportunity to meet the market or, as I have said, wait until the date of maturity, which is a definite condition of the loans to which they have subscribed.
– Is the Minister for Health able to state whether it is true that the pseudo health organization previously known as the Commonwealth Hospital and Medical Benefit Fund and now known as the Commercial Hospital and Medical Benefit Fund, which is registered in Canberra, has not sufficient funds with which to meet claims by its members, some of which have been outstanding for five months? Will the Minister consult with his colleagues, the Minister for the Interior and the Attorney-General, with a view to having the organization’s finances investigated and, if they are found to be unsatisfactory - as I think they will be - to closing the organization down in order to put an end to its contemptible practice of implying that it is a Commonwealth body? Can the Minister say whether it is true that reputable government-approved health organizations are prepared to accept members of the organization, who have had their eyes opened, without imposing the usual waiting period applicable to new members?
– I have no personal knowledge of the financial affairs of the organization to which the honorable member has referred. In reply to the second part of the question, it is a fact that in the past, when some organizations have become unfinancial, other sound organizations have taken over their members without imposing the waiting period condition. Whether it would be possible for that to be done in this instance, I could not say, but I shall ascertain the position and let the honorable gentleman know.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Health by reminding him that many sick people in country districts have to visit capital cities for specialist treatment. Will the Minister give consideration to making provision, either under the National Health scheme or by way of social services, for the payment of expenses incurred by such people in travelling to and from their homes and the capital cities, and also of a living allowance whilst they are awaiting specialist treatment, if not admitted to hospital ?
– There are no provisions under the National Health Act whereby that could be done, but I understand that in several States- I think New South Wales is one of them - the State Government makes arrangements for people in such circumstances to be transported to the capital city for treatment. I suggest that the honorable member might, perhaps, take this matter up with the State Government concerned.
– Will the Minister for the Army inform the House whether it is a fact that Australian servicemen serving in Malaya are granted an extra allowance of 5s. 9d. a day to compensate them for the higher cost of living there? If that is a fact, has his attention been drawn to complaints that have been made by certain Australian servicemen serving in Malaya, who have been confined to hospital suffering from wounds or illnesses, that they have been deprived of this allowance? Is he aware, also, that, a senior officer in Malaya complained, and contended that, although the stopping of the allowance while a man was in hospital might be justified by the Treasury on theoretical grounds, it was, morally, a mean and paltry thing to do to soldiers who have been engaged in jungle warfare and, as a result, had been compelled to enter hospital? In view of the discontent among servicemen at the Government’s action in refusing to pay the extra allowance to men in hospital, will the Minister immediately investigate the complaints with a view to having them satisfactorily adjusted?
– I have already publicly announced that I would investigate this matter. I regret that certain newspapers published a criticism of the action referred to, because it conformed with the conditions that apply to United Kingdom troops in Malaya. The facts are that a special allowance, additional to service pay and allowances for the troops serving in Malaya, is paid to ranks up to and including corporal at the rate of os. 9d. a day, and to higher ranks up to and including colonel at the rate of 8s. 9d. a day. This special allowance is paid on account of the higher cost of certain amenities, on which, of course, servicemen in hospital do not incur expenditure, because all services are provided free in hospital. However, certain conditions in relation to this matter need investigation. I shall make investigations, and shall let the honorable member know the result when my inquiries have been completed.
– I desire to address a question to the Minister for Health. Is he aware that, at a meeting of the Eastern suburbs branch of the New South Wales branch of the British Medical Association, resentment was expressed regarding a circular from the association in relation to the pensioner medical scheme? This circular, which was recently forwarded to more than 4,000 doctors in New South Wales, requested them to resort, in their treatment of pensioners, to practices which would not be in the best interests of pensioners and which would involve matters of professional ethics. Will the Minister confer with members of the British Medical Association in order to ensure that the treatment of pensioners under the scheme shall not be prejudiced and that the rights of doctors shall be safeguarded ?
– I do not think it is within my province to comment upon anything that may have taken place within the British Medical Association; but 1 can assure the honorable member that I know of no reason why the interests of pensioners should be compromised under the Government’s health scheme.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether he can give the House any further information about the probable effect on Australia’s immigration programme of the forthcoming increases of oversea shipping fares. Is the Minister able to inform the House of the extent of the increases and when they will be made?
– As I intimated last week, I have sought some information about this development from my officers, but I am not in possession of the facts that would enable me to give the further answers that the honorable gentleman has now requested. I assure him that I shall let him have the information as soon as I am able to do so.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. Let me say, by way of explanation, that I make an appeal on behalf of sufferers from the form of paralysis known as paraplegia. I remind the Treasurer that this form of paralysis affects most sufferers from the hips down. The right honorable gentleman is aware that paraplegic exservicemen were given certain concessions to enable them to purchase motor cars. A number of other paraplegics would derive great benefit from the purchase of a motor car, if they were given certain concessions for the purpose. Will the Minister consider eliminating the sales tax on motor cars bought by sufferers from paraplegia?
-The Treasurer, on a matter of policy.
– The honorable member did bring this matter under my notice some time ago. It has been investigated and will be taken into consideration in conjunction with the next budget.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the restraint exercised by hire-purchase companies, prior to the recent announcement of their intention to reinstitute lower deposits, achieved the target reduction in this form of investment. Could he inform the House of the general trend in the number of agreements completed and the value of new business written during the period of restraint ?
Mi-. MENZIES.- I have no precise information on that point, though I am trying to get some. All I know about any changes that may be contemplated is what I have read in the press. I have not been communicated with. I think that the point is an interesting one and I am endeavouring to get some figures on it.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether it is his intention to restore the Sydney Post Office clock to its former position. If so, will he inform the House of the date on which the work will commence if
– At the moment I am not aware of the position regarding the post office clock in Sydney, but I shall be in Sydney discussing certain matters with the local Director of Posts and Telegraphs within about ten days or a fortnight, and I shall then have a talk to him about the matter raised by the honorable gentleman.
– ls the Minister for Labour and National Service in possession of any evidence or information to suggest that a series of rolling strikes upon the Australian waterfront is imminent ?
– I gave the House some information on this subject in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House on the 1st March. I have knowledge of a dispute at the moment in the port of Hobart where, I understand, a board of reference is to sit this afternoon on the particular issues, and information has come to me, unofficially at this stage, of action which the Waterside Workers Federation of
Australia is said to be contemplating in the early part of next week. I am trying to secure confirmation of that information, but so far I have been unable to do so. In addition to what 1 have already put to the House, all that I can tell the honorable gentleman is that the Government is watching this position very closely and will take such action to meet any developments as seems appropriate in the circumstances.
– Has the Minister for the Army any report to give to the House on the recent tragedy near the Barrington Tops, when three national service trainees lost their lives in attempting, with others, to cross a flooded creek in an army truck? Was the journey of an urgent nature, and had it to he made when the roads were bad and the creeks were flooded? Who authorized the journey and what was its purpose ? Did those in command of the trainees have knowledge of local conditions? Was local advice sought before the journey was commenced ? Finally, have the other trainees involved been sworn to silence, as were those involved in the Stockton Bight tragedy, and, if so, for what reason?
– I think every one in Australia was shocked to hear of the dreadful tragedy concerning these three young trainees. The subject-matter is, at the moment, being investigated by an; official court of inquiry, and in those circumstances, of course, the honorable member will not expect me to make a comment in the House. I assure him that I shall examine carefully the results of that inquiry, and I shall let him know the outcome at an early date.
– Will the results be published ?
– I am sure that the matters raised by the honorable member will be inquired into by the court of inquiry.
– I ask the Treasurer whether, in order to facilitate parliamentary control of the purse, to promote administrative efficiency and economy, and to meet the exigencies of the changing financial situation, he will give effect to the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee, in its eighteenth report, that the budget should be brought down before the beginning of the next financial year.
– The aspect of the report of the Public Accounts Committee referred to by the honorable member is at present being considered. I shall see what can be done in connexion with this matter. As it is one of Government iolicy it, of course, requires very careful consideration. The presentation of a budget immediately after the 30th June is not a very easy undertaking.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and refers again to the disposal of the Australian Whaling Commission’s undertaking at Carnarvon, and the statement made by the Minister that all interested parties had been advised. Can the Minister inform the House why the Nor’- West Whaling Company Limited was advised of the proposed sale but the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company Proprietary Limited at Albany was not advised? Can the Minister also say why tenders were not called for .the disposal of the undertaking? Is he aware that the sale of the government whaling station to the Nor’West Whaling Company Limited means, on the statement of the manager of that company, that Point Cloates will be closed down, and that some employees will be dismissed?
– I am sure that the honorable gentleman is wrong in stating that I advised the Nor’-West Whaling Company Limited but not the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company Proprietary Limited, because it is my clear memory that when I wrote to one whaling operative I wrote to all that were then operating in Australia.
– The Minister did not advise that company. Will he check on this?
– I shall check on it, and I shall advise the honorable member of the result of the check. If I am right, will he apologize to me?
– I will.
– We shall see what to-morrow brings forth. The position i3 that the Government took pains to acquaint all interested parties, and nothing could do that better than a public statement by the Minister concerned. A public statement was made, and to the best of my knowledge the Western Australian Government has not yet reacted to the offer I made to send officials across there. I have had no advice of anything about that. As I said in the House before, if, after this very lengthy period of general public knowledge of the willingness of the Government to sell on suitable terms, no offer which is regarded as acceptable or adequate is forthcoming, the Government either will retain the whaling operation or, alternatively, as I have said in the House, it will consider inviting open tenders.
– I direct a question to you, Mr. Speaker. During last week, two ladies had the misfortune to fall in King’s Hall. I witnessed one of those incidents, and I consider that the lady concerned was very fortunate to escape serious injury. Could not something be done to eliminate this danger, which is caused bv the slippery surface of the floor?
– Tens of thousands of people use King’s Hall every year, and I can assure the honorable member that they are much safer there than they are on any of the roads in Australia. Apart from that, politics is a rather slippery occupation, and we have certain casualties in various parts of the building. I assure the honorable gentleman that every precaution is taken to see that no undue degree of polishing is done to the woodwork in King’s Hall. When the honorable gentleman has had a little more experience of that floor, I think he will agree with me that it is one of the safest places in Australia.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that in his 1949 policy speech he promised to seek an amendment of the Commonwealth Constitution, the effect of which would be to ensure that the approval of the people must be obtained by way of the holding of a referendum before the government of the day could engage in any commercial undertaking. If so, will the Prime Minister agree that it should logically follow that no existing government undertaking should be disposed of without the prior approval of the people? As the Prime Minister did not, in any speech during the last federal election campaign, declare it to bc the intention of the Government, to dispose of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission, will he give an assurance that, in accordance with his earlier undertaking, the question will be submitted to the people,for decision by referendum?
– The honorable member for East Sydney and I seldom succeed in agreeing about anything, and apparently, judging by the terras of his question, least of all about logic. I see nothing logical in his suggestion at all.
– Will the Minister for Primary Industry say whether it is a fact that a meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council was scheduled to be held about the middle of last month and whether it was necessary, in view of pending State elections, for that meeting to be postponed? Has the Minister anything in mind with relation to calling a. meeting of that council urgently, in view of the fact that State elections are to continue until almost the middle of this year? As you know, Mr. Speaker, the problems associated with agriculture are such that they do not wait on this or any’ other government or Minister. Some of the problems are seasonal in character. They are quite pressing and require to be resolved by man before a solution becomes impossible. Will the Minister endeavour to arrange a meeting of such Ministers as the States are prepared to send to discuss urgent problems which aredemanding attention?
– Because of the fact that two of the most important Ministers for Agriculture could not attend the meeting of the Australian Agricultural
Council, it was found necessary to cancel the proposed meeting. I think the honorable gentleman will agree that this was a proper course to adopt in the circumstances. I am not able to say at present when a meeting will be held, but as soon as I can make arrangements, I shall let him know. In the meantime, I have had the minutes of the various meetings of the Standing Committee printed, because I thought that they contained subjectmatter for subsequent discussion, related to matters which required attention by the State governments concerned. The minutes have been circulated so that the Ministers will be brought up to date fairly quickly with the matters discussed by the Standing Committee. I hope that when the Australian Agricultural Council meets those present will be able to discuss these matters with a full knowledge of the facts and in a highly intelligent manner.
– In view of the mounting public concern in the suburbs of Adelaide at the inordinate delays occasioned in securing telephone facilities owing to lack of materials, will the Postmaster-General assist the local administration in Adelaide by making available the urgently needed supplies so that this problem may be relieved? The position has all too long been endured by the people concerned, and is causing much public agitation and grievous complaint. The local administration is doing its best, but the essential materials are not available.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman is getting outside the scope of a question.
– “Will the PostmasterGeneral help to make those materials available so that this position can be relieved ?
– The honorable member for Bonython refers to the lag in the supply of telephone facilities in his electorate. This problem exists, not only in the area referred to by the honorable member, but is also fairly widespread, in spite of the fact that for several years past the department has succeeded, each year, in installing a record number of new telephone services. But, each year also, another record is established in the num ber of applications for new telephone services. The department is doing its utmost to deal with this situation. It is generally agreed that, in the circumstances, the department is doing a very good job, but it must be remembered that the question is one not only of materials available - and as far as materials are concerned, regard must be had to the demands of other instrumentalities on available materials - but also of the availability of finance. Within the general government scheme of finance available in these times, the department is proceeding to do its utmost to provide essential services, and will continue to do so.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister, supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for .Swan. Is it a fact that hire-purchase companies which, last year, gave an undertaking to the Prime Minister that they would restrict hire-purchase activities, have now recommended to the right honorable gentleman that they be allowed to repudiate this promise? If this is a fact, what action does the Government contemplate taking to ensure that its policy is enforced ?
– The literal answer to the honorable member’s question is that it is not a fact. I have seen in the newspapers, as the honorable member has, references to this matter, but I have received no communication suggesting that these companies, or any of them, desire to alter the responsibilities which they entered into voluntarily, in discussion with me.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a further question on the subject of hire purchase. Has the right honorable gentleman noticed that, according to the official figures for this year, there has been an increase in the amount of money let out for hire-purchase transactions? If this is so, will the Prime Minister take action to see whether it is possible to reduce the amount of interest being charged for hire-purchase purposes, so that investors will not put into such a lucrative proposition money that otherwise would go into government loans or be used for other purposes ?
– I wish that I could discover some ways and means of doing exactly what the honorable member refers t” but, as he knows, under the Constitution, the powers of the Commonwealth are doubtful. They may be sketchy, but they are not clear, and the Government is giving a good deal of consideration to them. There are two ways in which the general position of the economy is affected. One w as referred to by the honorable member. Quite remarkable rates of interest are being offered on relatively short-term deposits, and, in consequence of that, less money is available for investment in what 1 may call the public programme. That is a matter which is exercising the mind of the Government a great deal. It does not happen to be one of those things which have been quite plainly placed in the hands of the Commonwealth to deal with. At the other end, there is something which, perhaps, many people do not yet fully appreciate - that persons who buy goods on hire purchase discover, if they work it out, that the interest which they are required to pay right up to the time of the final instalment reaches an extraordinary level. It is because of that fact that these companies can offer high rates of interest on deposits. It is one thing to have a view of these matters - and I imagine my view is the same as that of the honorable member - but it is quite another matter to discover how, in a federal system, these things can be dealt with. That is why an experiment has been made with a voluntary arrangement which will tend not to cancel expansion but to limit the rate of expansion in this field of industry. As I stated to the previous questioner, I have read statements about the matter, but T have not received any communication which would indicate that there has been any breach of undertaking.
– Can the Prime Minister give the House any information, additional to what has appeared in the press concerning the deterioration of the situation in the Middle East following the dismissal of Glubb Pasha from Jordan? Is the Australian Government being consulted by the British Government on the course of events that could possibly ensue, and any future action that it may be expedient for Britain and America to take?
– 1 shall be very happy to ask my colleague, the AttorneyGeneral, who is acting for the Minister for External Affairs during his absence overseas, to give me some information on this matter. I cannot answer by the book at this moment.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the national importance that is at present attaching itself to the arbitration system, will the Minister at once make available to all honorable members copies of the papers that were discussed in Melbourne yesterday at a conference which was stated to have been chaired by the Minister himself? I strongly submit to the right honorable gentleman that members of this House are more entitled to all available information on this important problem than is any outside body or committee.
– I shall examine the practicability of meeting the request of the honorable member. I point out to him that the body before which I placed the papers yesterday is a council that advises me. It has been the practice to deal on a confidential basis with information that has been placed before the council, and to assure members of it that nothing said in the course of discussion will be quoted against them. We invite frank discussion so that the Government may be enabled to decide what course it should subsequently adopt. The first paper on the subject of conciliation and arbitration that was presented yesterday was designed to cover the historical development of the system and to deal with some questions that have been raised, not in the sense of furnishing answers in that paper to them, but for the purpose of inviting comment upon them. The second paper consisted of an analysis of the recent judgment of the High Court of Australia in the boilermakers’ case, and posed some questions which that judgment appears to have created. If a more detailed statement can be given, I shall provide it for the benefit of the House. I point out that the members of the council include representatives of the major employer organizations and the six senior members of the Australian Council of Trades Unions.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation state whether TransAustralia Airlines has made any moves to replace the DC3 passenger aircraft, which are regarded as the T model Fords of the skyways? Is that organization interested in the Fokker Friendship twinengined turbo-jet aircraft, which has a speed of 2S0 miles an hour, as a possible replacement for the “ old faithfuls “ of the present air fleet?
– I suggest that the DC3 aircraft is not quite in the category of the T model Ford. Trans-Australia Airlines, together with most other airlines, is vitally interested in obtaining a replacement for that particular aircraft, which is obsolescent but not obsolete, and which will still be very useful on country runs. Trans-Australia Airlines is interested in the F-27 or Fokker Friendship aircraft, but so far the flying trials of the prototype are not conclusive, and no company could say at the present time that it would buy the aircraft.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether, under the bill passed by the Parliament some months ago simplifying the procedure, any noticeable reduction has been effected in the time involved between the date on which an immigrant applies for naturalization and the date on which he is actually naturalized.
– I have no doubt in my own mind that that has been the case. What was done by my department at that time was not merely to simplify the procedure, but also to reduce the time that had been necessary for certain inquiries to be made in the past in overseas countries. I shall ask the department to furnish me with a statement setting out the average length of time taken before the current procedures were adopted and the time taken at present.
– Supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Blaxland, it seems clear, from what the Minister for Labour and National Service said, that a great deal of the papers he mentioned are in the nature of study papers, in which my colleagues, as well as all other honorable members, are closely interested. Great constitutional questions are involved, and also the future of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I suggest to the Minister that he should endeavour to obtain the necessary consents to let us have that information.
– I think that is a useful suggestion. I see no reason why something along the lines proposed by the right honorable gentleman should not be possible, and I shall look into the matter.
– My question ls directed to the Minister for Trade. Has his attention been drawn to the spectacular results which have been achieved by broadcasting from the air superphosphate and improved pasture seed on land inaccessible by other means? Has hi* attention been directed to the fact that a well-known firm in the north of New South Wales, in particular, which handles these operations, has made application for the purpose of securing an aircraft capable of picking up 10 tons of superphosphate at a time, and distributing it during a single flight? Has his attention been directed to the fact that it is impossible for men on small or medium holdings to have air strips constructed for small aircraft, and consequently, the proposal has been put forward on behalf of graziers and settlers of the northern tablelands that a permit be granted to enable them to pick up at rail siding* the required material and distribute it over a large area, in a co-operative way with the company to which I have referred ? If this matter has been brought to the Minister’s notice will he give the earliest and most favorable consideration to the granting of this import licence, as the season is well advanced ? Secondly, if it has not been brought to his notice, will he have the matter looked into by his department with a view to eliciting the essential information?
– In the first place I am aware of the tremendous advances that have been made in recent years in top dressing with fertilizers and improved pasture seed from the air in this and other countries. The Government will keep abreast of developments in that regard through the agency of my colleague the Minister for Primary Industry, whose department will be the specialist department which will keep abreast of such activities, [n regard to the import licensing side, my colleague the Minister for Customs and Excise informs me that he has recently approved licences for the import of two helicopters for this purpose and that, within the administration of the import licensing branch, there is a very healthy understanding of the importance of the work and the possibilities of this activity. As I have told the House before, I shall be taking over the responsibility for import licensing administration after the end of this month. I can assure the honorable member that these issues have had sympathetic and effective consideration from the Minister for Customs and Excise, and I hope that they will have not less sympathetic and effective consideration from me.
– As vast numbers of aged persons who are unable to care for themselves and who have no one to care for them are literally dying because they have been refused admission to institutions, will the Minister for Social Services, through his department, secure from those institutions that care for the aged and infirm details of the number of persons to whom they have refused admission and who are now upon their waiting lists, with the object of making provision in the next budget for moneys to extend those institutions so that accommodation can be provided for all those who desire to enter them ?
– I think that the honorable member’s question should rightly be directed to the State parlia ments, since most of the matters to which he refers are exclusive to the State parliaments. To the best of my knowledge and belief, the Commonwealth Government has never refused admittance to any deserving person to institutions under the control of the Commonwealth Parliament. As long as . I am Minister for Social Services that happy situation will be maintained.
– Since the High Court has ruled, in effect, that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court must confine itself to its duties of conciliation and arbitration and since, moreover, the court is not up to date with its work in that field, will the Minister for Labour and National Service now take steps to increase the present depleted numbers of conciliation commissioners? I point out to the right honorable gentleman that when he became Minister, six or more years ago, there were fifteen conciliation commissioners, but that now, consequent on death, resignations and promotions, there are but eight. Can he, therefore, say whether he will restore those depleted numbers; that is, will he double the present number ?
– The Government has already indicated publicly that it will make a comprehensive review of the operation and working of the arbitration system and, of course, this review has been made the more urgent by the important development in the High Court in the boilermakers’ case. I have been told, on inquiry, that there is no evidence that the conciliation commissioners whom we have at present engaged are in any way overworked or unable to cope with such matters as have been referred to them. But it is a fact, as the honorable gentleman mentioned, that the number of commissioners is not as great as it was earlier. In any review that we will be making, the future of the conciliation commissioners and the numbers required for the duties then to be entrusted to them will be very much in our minds.
– As no Minister can have the necessary knowledge of the destructive power of the various atomic bombs, will the Prime Minister appoint a scientist or a panel of scientists with a knowledge of atomic bombs in order to prevent the possibility of the people of Australia being used as guinea pigs for the United Nations? Will he find out where the Minister for Supply received the information that these bomb explosions are innocuous? Are they being used in populated areas in the United States of America or the United Kingdom?
– As to the last part of the honorable member’s question, atomic bombs are not being used in populated areas in Australia. But the position is that, for some time, the Government has had a panel of scientists of the highest order in these matters, to which it refers as the Safety Committee. They are the people who advise whether any risk to life or limb is involved in any of these tests. We have not consented to any tests being conducted except under the strictest conditions of safety, and we do not propose to do so. But we certainly do not propose, if we are advised by the most competent people that these, tests can be conducted in ‘ir near Australia, to say that they ought to be conducted in countries much less favorably placed for them. This is one of the contributions that Australia can make to a line of research which, however deplorable we may all regard it as being, is at this moment in the world’s history, directly relevant, to the safety of free men.
– Will the Minister for Health include cortisone in the list of free life-saving drugs to be made available to the people of Australia ? I further ask the honorable gentleman whether he is aware that many people are suffering grievously because of the inadequacy of the present formulary? I ask this question because of representations that I have made to the Minister respecting the urgency of the provision of cortisone, particularly for sufferers with rare blood diseases, arthritis and other similar complaints.
– The position with regard to the provision of drugs under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme is that all drugs provided are only provided on the advice of an expert committee.
– Of doctors ?
– They would not be horse-trainers.
– The committee consists of doctors and pharmacists. I am sure that the honorable member for Macquarie would agree that it would be most inadvisable for the Minister himself to be in a position to decide whether drugs should be put on or taken off this list. The Minister acts on the advice of this committee. With regard to cortisone, there are special circumstances under which this drug may be obtained and these, again, are circumstances which are governed by the highest medical advice.
– In view of the oftexpressed dissatisfaction at the way in which some import licences are being utilized, particularly those in category B, will the Minister for Customs and Excise present to the House at an early date a comprehensive statement setting out the principles which determine the allocation of various goods into the several categories, and indicating the methods that are applied to ensure that licensing arrangements achieve priority for essential materials and equipment, and the greatest economy in overseas spending, both sterling and dollar?
– The problems that the honorable member has raised go to the very essence of the import licensing system. I am well aware of some of them. I shall be glad to consider his suggestion that a comprehensive statement should be made on the matter.
– Has the Minister for the Army seen a report that the badly decomposed body of a man has been found on a beach near Newcastle, and that police believe it to be the body of a national service trainee, lost in the Stockton Bight disaster some eighteen months ago? Can the Minister inform me whether the officers of the Department of the Army have interested themselves in the report in order to ascertain whether or not the corpse is that of the lost soldier Is it the intention of the Department of the Army to carry out a military burial and to meet its cost should the corpse be that of the lost trainee?
– I have not heard of this report, but I shall certainly have inquiries made and let the honorable member know the result.
– In view of the important influence that the special 20 per cent, depreciation allowance has had on primary production, and in view of the necessity for the farmers of Australia to plan their future activities in relation to the possibility of this allowance being continued, will the Treasurer consider making some authoritative statement on this subject?
– I replied recently to a question along these lines asked by the honorable member for Mallee. The matter is at present being considered by the Government.
– Will the Minister for Health outline the principles of adjudication applied by departmental officers when inquiring into allegations of overvisiting by doctors under the pensioner medical scheme? Are these inquiries the result of economy measures, and what action will be taken against any doctors found guilty of over-visiting?
– There are special provisions of the National Health Act under which are appointed -committees of inquiry into questions of abuse of the pensioner medical scheme. These provisions have been applied in certain circumstances, and they will continue to be applied where appropriate.
– My question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, is supplementary to that recently asked by the honorable member for Port Adelaide. The Prime Minister referred to the constitutional problem involved in achieving a balance between private and public lending. I ask the Prime Minister whether he has considered the possibility of increasing taxation on excess profits from lending for hire purchase and similar purposes, so as to bring into balance the return from private lending at excessive rates and the return from public investment in government loans and loans to public utilities.
– I venture to believe that it would be surprising to find anything that had not received some consideration in relation to this problem; but, rather than endeavour to deal with separate subjects separately, I think I should tell the House that I hope to be in a position next week to make a pretty comprehensive statement on these matters, including quite a variety of them, and embracing the one referred to by the honorable member.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Full Court of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, in its decision in respect of the determination of the Public Service Arbitrator relating to certain public servants, reduced the amount ordered by the Public Service Arbitrator for third division telegraphists and postal clerks, in spite of the fact that those classifications had not received the full benefit of the Arbitrator’s two.andahalftimes formula? Is the Prime Minister also aware that the Public Service Board has, since then, refused to negotiate with the union concerned, despite the fact that the Full Court of the Arbitration Court made it clear in its judgment that it considered that the rates fixed by it - the court - were or could possibly be inadequate? Indeed, does the Prime Minister know that the rate fixed by the court in respect of one classification was £5 a year less than the rate fixed by the Public Service Board itself in December, 1954? Does he also know that the Public Service Board is refusing to carry out an undertaking given to this union in August of last year, to the effect that if the Overseas Telecommunications Commission granted increases to its telegraphists, the Public Service Board
Mi’. MENZIES- The honorable member rightly described his question as one giving me information; because I am sure that he did not suppose for one moment that I had been devoting the long summer evenings to studying the details of this award. However, I followed the points that he was making, and I shall have them considered. I cannot possibly give him an answer now, but I shall certainly have these matters investigated and se’e whether an answer can be given to the honorable member.
Debate resumed from the 1st March (vide page 475), on motion by Mr. Chaney -
That the, following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General lie agreed to: -
May tT please Your Excellency :
We. the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express mir loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, mid to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Upon which Mr. Pollard had moved, by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to the Address: - “ and we desire to add that, in the opinion of this House, the Government should nt once terminate all negotiations for the sale or disposal of any of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission located at Carnarvon. Western Australia “.
Mr. BUCHANAN (McMillan) [3.32 J. - In rising to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in -Reply lo the
Of the new members, some have come here as a result of movements df population that have necessitated the creation of new seats. Most of them have, however, replaced members who have lost their seats because of a swing of current public opinion against them. Again, we see in this an endorsement of the fact that the vast majority of Australians prefer the Liberal philosophy to all others. There can be no doubt, from a consideration of the results of the election, that the people believe that the prospects of retaining our manifold prosperity are much safer under the careful and intelligent management of this Menzies-Fadden Administration than ‘they could be under any other form of government.
I have come to this Parliament following the untimely loss suffered by the electors of McMillan, and by this House, in the passing of my late friend and associate, Geoffrey William Brown, M.B.E. One of the things that has most impressed me in the short time that I have been here has been the spontaneous expression of sorrow at his passing that I have heard from people in all walks of life. This has impressed me with the great esteem in which he ‘was held b’y honorable members on both side of this
House, and I am most conscious of the very high standard that he has set me to follow in my parliamentary career, and of the honour done to me by the people of McMillan in choosing me to follow him as their representative here.
I congratulate the Government upon the policy revealed in His Excellency’s Speech. It will undoubtedly maintain the conditions that we now enjoy and continue to give that flexibility of adjustment that is so necessary if we are to meet changing economic conditions from day to day and from year to year. Some honorable members opposite have suggested that His Excellency’s Speech was couched in rather vague terms - that it did not tell them anything new. One would hardly expect His Excellency to go into any great detail, but any one who read his Speech with care and diligence could have no doubt at all as to the legislation that will be introduced during this session. Nor could he fail to see that it is the Government’s firm intention to guard against any weakening of our economic position and to take whatever action is necessary to protect, and raise, our standard of living.
There are one or twO’ aspects of His Excellency’s Speech on which I should like to express what are, after all, my own views. The Government has announced the appointment of an economic advisory committee. Its purpose is to prepare data on conditions and changes in our economy and to make suggestions for the meeting of downward tendencies, such as the decline of our overseas balances. I am particularly pleased to see that the committee includes not only specialists in economics, who can be relied upon to formulate the theories upon which the Government will base its decisions, but also businessmen with the experience necessary to guarantee that those theories will De translated into practical terms. Too often economic experts model their opinions on socialistic theory. I am quite confident that in many spheres of government planning more use could, with very great benefit, be made of the practical advice of successful businessmen and primary producers. For example, some weeks ago the whole of Australia was startled to read a statement, prepared by eight economists, which called for increased taxation. They said that it would curb what they termed, “ a coming acute economic crisis “. No doubt these learned gentlemen gave a great deal of time to a consideration of the conditions through which we have passed in the last few years, and I submit that their findings were based on what has been done in the past.
The inflationary period through which all nations are passing is closely related to the growth and expansion that is going on everywhere. In Australia, our very prosperity has brought about a freedom of spending that has forced up prices. The high purchasing power in the hands of the population has created a demand for goods that can only be matched by increased importation or production on a. non-economic level, founded on higherthanaward wages and costly overtime rates, to make up the loss in volume that has been caused by the adoption of a 40-hour week. These things have created certain difficulties. No doubt they requireadjustment, but only a theorizing professor could read “ crisis “ into that particular set of conditions. Certainly, no onebut a theorizing professor could advocate increased taxation. After all, taxation, whether on goods or services, is a cost against production. For too long governments have been prone to take notice of these theorists, and to heed their advice. It is high time that practical businessmen with experience in conducting successful and profitable enterprises, which require one to view the future, were asked for their advice. They are much more capable of assessing the future than are some of our economists.
Consideration of what has been done in other parts of the world brings us very quickly to the conclusion that the closing of the gap between export and import income, which is our particular problem at the moment, can be brought about only by increased production. There are other considerations but the only action that can give us the degree of lift that we need is increased production on a bold scale. Any one with a knowledge of mass production will agree that it brings in its train a reduction in costs. This must lead to a reduction of prices and, in turn,, a higher standard of living. The viciouscircle which honorable members opposite- have described as “ wages trying to chase rising prices” can only be broken by increased production. The bold answer of a government with Australia’s welfare at heart must be to reduce taxation, particularly sales tax, pay-roll tax and the like. The operation of sales tax creates many anomalies. The preparation of returns relating to the thousands of small items which are subject to sales tax involve firms in great expense. Let me quote just one example: If I squeeze oranges and put. the juice in a bottle labelled “ Orange Cordial “ no sales tax is payable, but if I add water to the bottle and call it “Orange Drink” sales tax must be paid. The poor manufacturer has to go through all his invoices and sort out the taxable and non-taxable items. He must prepare his return in triplicate and send it off to the Taxation Branch. The amount of tax involved in cases like that is small compared with what it costs firms to prepare the returns. I have no doubt that it is necessary for the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) to impose a certain amount of sales tax, but it should be on the larger items so that the business community will not be put to great labour in providing a small amount of revenue. The larger items, which can be quite easily picked out, return a correspondingly higher amount of revenue to the Treasury. A reduction on this basis should be accompanied by increased depreciation allowances on machinery, plant, and modern equipment, and in relation to improved techniques. A question was asked to-day about the continuance of the present provision for an initial depreciation allowance of 20 per cent., which is enjoyed by primary producers. Continuance of that provision seems to be essential. I shall go so far as to say that we should take a bold step and encourage manufacturers to go out after the greatest volume of plant that can be brought to Australia. The application of a 30 per cent, or 40 per cent, depreciation allowance to new machinery, and in relation to the introduction of modern techniques, would not be out of place. This should apply especially to the introduction of new industries to Australia. In that respect, even talk of increased taxation cannot help but result in a certain amount of hesitation on the part of people who may be thinking of establishing industries here, because they may be given the impression that our economy is unsteady, and they will have no assurance about the risks they might be taking by establishing themselves here. Every thought should be given to incentive and not to restriction. We should be trying to reduce taxes instead of talking of increasing rates. We should also bp encouraging manufacturers to turn out. better goods at lower prices, and farmers to strive for higher quality and lower costs.
I am glad, indeed, to be able to recognize, in the creation of the new Ministry of Trade, a realization by the Government of the importance of trading and selling. Australia has grown to its present stature as a result of its primary products. It has been a common saying, for many years, that we ride on the sheep’s hack, although, latterly, our other primary products, such as dairy products, meat and wheat, have also been contributing largely to our income. Last week we were given the information that the nation also derives a certain amount of income from the sale of whale oil. However, we have now come to the stage where we must, sell more, not only of our primary products, but also of the output of our secondary industries. The expansion which lies before us could be likened to that which lay before America about a century ago, and I feel that on the new Department of Trade there rests the very heavy responsibility of exploiting this future which looms so prominently before us. Much of the future activities of the Department of Trade will, no doubt, be concerned with the drive in Great Britain where we are spending some £250,000 on promoting the sale of Australian products on a quality basis. I suggest that this service could very well be extended to cover a similar promotion campaign in the markets represented by our neighbours in our near north. I know that some such steps have been taken, that trade delegations have gone to examine potential markets, and have done well in relation to South Africa, New Zealand and Indonesia. I am referring now, however, more specifically to the lands which fringe the Indian and Pacific oceans, where I can see room for very great expansion of our overseas sales. The trade commissioner service, in that area particularly, is being extended, and I am very pleased to see that trained businessmen with a knowledge of human relations are being given the opportunity to occupy the posts of trade commissioners. Backed up by advertising on a national level, and if we can adopt, in order to win markets to our north, some such promotion scheme as we are using in England, we could build up goodwill for ourselves there and popularize the brand “ Australian production “ or “ Made in Australia “. I feel that some such scheme could be worked out, and that as a result of its adoption we could increase our export income. At the sams time, by making it necessary for manufacturers who enter those markets to increase production, we could achieve a reduction of overall manufacturing costs, because of increased output, which would be reflected in a decrease of prices on the home market. It might be necessary for manufacturers going out after this business to be content to produce for much lower profits, or even for no profits, but I think that there we can learn a great deal from the experience of British manufacturers, who long ago established the fact that home-consumption prices and export prices based on the suitability and possibilities of the market, and what the market will stand, can be so integrated that even though they may have to sell their exports cheaply they end each year with a satisfactory profit from the home market and the overseas market combined. The manufacturers in Germany after World War I. gave us a remarkable lesson in this particular aspect of business practice, although they were helped considerably by their government. I do not think we should go so far as the German Government did, because I think Australian manufacturers are quite capable of doing the job on their own. They will be very much helped by the export insurance scheme which the Governor-General mentioned in his Speech. That scheme should do much to encourage manufacturers to go out after increased export trade. But the point I wish to stress is that these new markets to our near north must be very aggressively pioneered.
Any discussion on the subject of reduction of costs would be incomplete without some mention of transport, the cost of which is very often the highest single component in the price to the consumer. Something needs to be done about transport costs. Although the Commonwealth actually has no power in respect of this vital problem, the problem has become so serious that the cost of providing adequate transport facilities all over this continent should be regarded as a national investment, and should be a charge on the national purse. In fact, . the provision of an efficient economical and comfortable road system is to-day more pressing than even the standardization of rail gauges throughout the Commonwealth. I realize that this would imply some reconsideration of our relations with the States, but the necessary change could be set on foot with some prospects of success, because the States have such a vital interest in the solution of this problem.
One aspect of our economy which needs attention and which several speakers have mentioned, is the need for saving by the community. I am sure that a contributory scheme for savings towards retiring allowances, on similar lines to our hospital and medical benefits scheme, would appeal to a very large number of people in the lower income groups. We have instituted the finest national health scheme in the world, which has been gratefully accepted by vast numbers of our population. I am confident that similar success would attend a scheme under which a person could contribute a small weekly sum to give him or her a tax-free and means test-free retiring allowance. At the same time, the scheme would impose a rigid means test in relation to receipt of the age pension by those people who were entitled to receive it. Contributions to such a scheme as I suggest need not be on a fixed basis, but could be at some rate like 6d. in the fi, or whatever appropriate figure was worked out. The contribution should be related to income. If it is possible for us to encourage the people to make some provision along the lines that I have suggested for their old age, there would be a considerable saving to the Treasury, and we should be saved from a great deal of talk, particularly at election times, about what should be done for the age pensioners. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, and I welcome this opportunity of joining with other honorable members in re-affirming our loyalty to our gracious Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth the Second.
– I desire to address my remarks to that part of His Excellency’s Speech in which it is indicated that the Government proposes to adopt certain methods to meet the economic crisis that it fears may he facing us. I also fear that an economic crisis is coming to this country, because I have lived long enough to remember the economic crisis that we suffered in what is known as the hungry 30’s. Because present conditions are similar to the conditions that preceded the economic crisis of 1929 and the 1930’s, I am of the opinion that another economic crisis is likely to overtake us. In 1929-30 there were certain arbitration tribunals under the Industrial Peace Act of 1920, which was introduced by the then Prime Minister, the late Mr. W, M. Hughes. Under that legislation the late Charles Hibble, who was a coroner at Newcastle, was appointed to a tribunal which was set up in respect of the coalmining industry. Because Mr. Hibble had been associated all his life with the coal-mining industry and the conditions on the coal-fields, he did a great job in that position. He had a good knowledge of the industry and was accepted by everybody as an excellent choice. His tribunal eventually became known as the Hibble tribunal, and it made certain awards for the coal-mining industry.
In 1929-30 the coal-owners attempted to get the men to cease work by adopting tactics of irritation, but the men did not fall for those tactics as long as the owners did not break the awards. However, to cut a long story short, the trouble finally culminated in the miners being locked out by the owners for fifteen solid months. That was done despite the award covering the industry. When the lock-out started in 1928-29 the Bruce-Page Government was in office. I only wish that the then Prime Minister, Lord Bruce, was in this House now. However, that Government sat idly by and watched the coal-owners starve the mine workers into submission. I travelled throughout Australia and New Zealand seeking funds to maintain the men and their families and to prevent them from starving, but other workers got levy-sick and the miners finally found themselves left high and dry, not only by the Government which was supposed to ensure that the arbitration laws were carried out, but also by others. That Government also refused to enforce the law which had been introduced by a previous government led by the late Mr. W. M. .Hughes. We on this side of the House believe in arbitration, and we do not want to go back to the law of the jungle and the survival of the fittest. In all such contests the owners have the wherewithal to continue to live while the mines are closed down, but the workers have nothing at all except hungry wives and children crying for food.
No, we see the same tactics being adopted again. At Pelaw Main, the colliery that I left in 1928 to take my place in this House, the owners are now endeavouring to force the workers to accept working conditions of a lower standard. But those conditions are, in effect, wages to the workers, and have been given to them by the arbitration tribunals. In spite of the owners’ tactics at that mine the miners refused to stop work, but now the owners have locked out 560 miners at the Bellbird colliery. At Stockrington colliery, which is another of the collieries owned by the John Brown company, the owners have locked out an additional 200 men. In the western mining district around Lithgow, still more miners have been dismissed. In all, approximately 1,500 coal-miners are out of work to-day, and they have been put out by the tactics adopted by the coal mine owners in order to force them to accept lower working conditions. However, the men will not accept such conditions.
I again point put to honorable members that in 1929-30 the coal mine owners adopted similar tactics towards the men, and an economic depression followed. I do not believe that any sane government would abandon the system of industrial arbitration, because otherwise “we should all return to the law of the jungle and the principle of the survival of the fittest. There were rebels among the Bruce-Page Government’s supporters, and they were led by the late Mr. W. M. Hughes. Maxwell, the blind barrister, at that time the member for Fawkner, was one, and “Walter Marks was another. Marks was defeated as a result of lying tactics by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison). A lying attack was made on him by associating him with a film artist in America. Through the influence of those rebels - although they supported the then Government - and as a result of a censure motion the Bruce-Page Government decided to prosecute John Brown. Later, however, that Government withdrew the prosecution. That action was taken because John Brown was a supporter of that Government - he was one of their own. It adopted the attitude: Let the timber workers be prosecuted, let Jack Holloway be prosecuted, but don’t let any government supporters be prosecuted. The same Jack ‘Holloway later defeated the then Prime Minister, Lord Bruce, and became the honorable member for Flinders. Later, he became the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, but he was given twelve months gaol by the Bruce-Page Government. Subsequently, an inquiry was instituted by a Labour government, and all those gaoled under similar circumstances by the Bruce-Page Government were released. How differently nonLabour governments treat their supporters and the workers! That was the greatest tragedy that ever happened in Australia. As I have said, the government of the day decided to prosecute John Brown, and went so far as to serve a summons on him, only to withdraw it later when Ministers realized that he belonged to them. Their treatment of John Brown was different from that accorded to workers in industry, and those who were not their friends. I wish that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) were present to hear what I have to say by way of warning, when I remind him of the only time in Australia’s history when -a Prime Minister in office was defeated. He was defeated because he supported the coal-owners in 1929-30, as to-day the Prime Minister is supporting the coalowners in their attempt to repeat the lock-out of that period. It is no wonder that in the Governor-General’s Speech, His Excellency referred to economic difficulties. There certainly will be economic difficulties if the miners are again locked out as they were .in 1929, in the days of the Bruce-Page Government.
In answer to a question which I asked a few days ago, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) said that the control of the coal industry was a matter for the State Government, not for this Government. He suggested that I should direct my question to the appropriate Minister in the New South Wales Parliament. For what reason was the Joint Coal Board established, if not to control the coal industry? Every one knows that it was established for that purpose. So when the Minister says that this is a matter for the State Government of New South Wales, not for the Commonwealth Government, he is incorrect. The coalowners are adopting their present tactics because they know that they have the support of a sympathetic government. The Government sits idle and does nothing, except say that I should bring the matter before the State Government.
I wish to make it clear that this Parliament has the authority to take over a mine. As honorable members know, that action was taken on one occasion when the Coalcliff mine, on the south coast of New South Wales, was taken over by a Labour government. Honorable members may not, however, remember that when that colliery was taken over by the Federal and State government it was run at a profit through the Joint Coal Board. In this morning’s Newcastle Morning Herald there is a report of a conference between the coal-owners, the coal-miners and the Joint Coal Board. I do not want to mislead the House, but as I read between the lines, I have come to the conclusion that all they are waiting for is for the Government to resume the Bellbird colliery. I remember well the time, in 1920, when there was an explosion in that mine and 21 miners lost their lives. They were blown to eternity. Notwithstanding the danger, their mates rushed down into the bowels of the earth in an attempt to rescue any of their comrades who might have survived the explosion. The heroism of the miners was lauded throughout the world. It is always the same. Coalminers are courageous men, and whenever their comrades are in danger, they rush to their aid. Many of them have lost their own lives trying to save their mates. There are some people who describe coal-miners as a lot of heathens, but I know them to be God-fearing men. Moreover, they are most patriotic, and whenever this country has been in trouble they have enlisted in thousands to fight for it. Indeed, in World War II., their patriotism threatened to stop work in the mines, because so many of them offered to enlist. The result was that miners were prevented from enlisting, because it was recognized that in supplying coal for factories, transport and other needs oi the community, they were rendering better service in the war effort. I am proud to have been a miner myself, and to have descended from miners, and I am certainly proud to have represented a mining district in this Parliament for 28 years. No one will ever criticize coal.miners in my presence and find me silent.
Let ns try to act in a humane way. The Government should do so in all arbitration matters. I recall that when the parties now forming the Government were in opposition, they pleaded for humane treatment, and for the Arbitration Court to be allowed to function. Now is an opportunity for them to do that, and so prevent those in charge of the Bellbird colliery from locking out 560 men. and ako prevent the same thing happening at Stockrington No. 1 mine. If those in authority will act humanely they may be able to maintain peace in this industry, and prevent an economic crisis. Unless something is done, a general stoppage of mine workers will take place on Thursday of this week in support of the Bellbird miners who are likely to be locked out. If n stoppage occurs, it may lead to a great crisis. That is something that I do not wish to happen, for I have seen enough crises in the coal industry. My brother was killed in a coal mine, and mv father sustained injuries which crippled him for life. The memory of these and other happenings in the coalmining industry strengthens my determination always to support the industry. Coal-mining is a dangerous calling, as I think all honorable members will admit. I have mentioned the loss of 21 lives because of an explosion in the Bellbird mine, and I recall explosions at the Dudley mine and other mines in which men were killed. Honorable members who enjoy the comfort of their fireside on winter nights would do well to reflect that the warmth they enjoy, whether it be from a coal fire or from, electricity generated by coal, is the result of the work of men who labour in the bowels of the earth. That is true also of those who travel and enjoy other facilities of which coal is the basis. Those who enjoy a well-cooked meal would do well to reflect that the coal that supplies the gas stoves and the electric ranges is stained with blood. It is not right that the Government should allow the coal-owner* to repeat the 1929-30 lock-out of coal-miners. I, therefore, plead with the Government to do something along the lines that I have suggested, when I instanced the example of a previous government taking over the Coalcliff colliery and working it at a profit.
In the Old Country, the mines are nationalized. I was present in the House of Commons when the debate on their nationalization took place. One result of nationalization has been that, whereas previously the coal industry was run at a loss, under government control it ha.’ shown a profit. I have spoken to miners associated with the Bellbird mine, and they have told me that if the mine is kept open and run by the Joint Coal Board, all profits will go back to the board. The men are prepared to do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s .pay: and that is all that should be asked of any man. The present proposal of the coal-owners to reduce working conditions and destroy established principles mean= a reduction of the earning capacity of the miners. I shall not deal with thi? matter further, but in view of the trouble that I foresee, I make this plea. I ask this Government: has it or any other Australian government ever given a subsidy for coal production or for the export of coal ? When I was in Africa recently, I found that the South African Government gave a subsidy of 5s. a ton on exported coal. I notice that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) can extract money from the Government to subsidize wool, wheat, beef, mutton, lamb and products of that sort. Why? The Government knows that it would not have the support of the Australian Country party if the Treasurer did not get those concessions for the supporters of his party. Good luck to Australian Country party members if they can get away with it ! If I could get benefits for the coal industry in a similar way, I would do so, but I would be fair about it.
The previous Labour Government appointed me the Commonwealth coal liaison officer during World War II. and my task was to keep the miners at work and persuade them to produce more coal. Coal was one of the principal sinews of war. This Government also asked for coal. The miners produced so much coal for this Government that there are now millions of tons of coal at grass, and the Government is doing nothing to obtain export markets for it. Now that the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who is also Minister for Defence Production, has returned to the chamber, I am reminded that he was at one time hostile to the Australian Country party. He has never seen this Government, or any other government that he has supported, assist the coal-mining industry with subsidies, although they have assisted many branches of primary production in that way.
During the course of this debate, there has been criticism of the accommodation that is provided in Parliament House for private members of the Parliament. When I was first elected to the Parliament in 1928, not one Minister had a room in Parliament House. The late Mr. E. G. Theodore, who subsequently became Treasurer, had his office in the No. 2 Secretariat. The Prime Minister of the day occupied an office in No. 1 Secretariat. Parliament House was for members of Parliament. To-day it is used primarily for Ministers and their staffs. Privileges are given to many persons, including the parliamen tary under-secretaries. So far as this Government is concerned, we are nothing. We virtually do not exist. It has been suggested that Ministers should use the new administrative building. Why should we not return to the old system? Some years ago, there was not one public servant working in Parliament House. I know the situation changed because Ministers wanted to move into this building. They did not want to travel between Parliament House and another office, and they brought their secretaries here.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) closed his speech with a complaint about accommodation for private members in this House. His complaint has considerable merit. I have just come into the chamber from a party room where six private members have to work, thus debarring other honorable members of the same party from having the full use of the room to which it might reasonably be put.
– The honorable member deserves something better.
– I agree with the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths). If he has a private room, he will not appreciate fully the difficulties that some honorable members have in dealing with correspondence, preparing speeches and carrying out their duties while they are to share a room with others. The time has come when something must be done about this matter. I believe that Mr. Speaker has the allocation of rooms in Parliament House within his province and, in that regard, he has a difficult task. As years pass and parliaments change, the allocation of rooms becomes more difficult because, with the present allocation of rooms and owing to the large number that are taken by members of the Cabinet, there are not enough rooms to go round.
I suggest that a writing room should be provided, if possible, for each party, with proper provision for silence. Members could use such a room to work on their correspondence or prepare their speeches without interruption. At present, it is impossible to give proper attention to the. tasks in hand. Some honorable, members want, to talk and discuss matters, generally, among themselves while others are trying to work in the same room.
At this point, I wish to offer my congratulations to the newly elected members who have delivered their maiden speeches. I regret that I have not been in the chamber to hear all of them, but I have heard a number,, and I am very impressed with the high quality of debate that they have introduced into this Parliament. If they have not already been allotted private rooms, they will find that they will suffer the same difficulties as some of us older members.
The Opposition has put forward an amendment to the Address-in-Reply which has a bearing on the proposal of the Government to dispose of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission. Apparently, the Opposition supports the Address-in-Reply generally, and is concerned only with adding to it a provision that negotiations for the disposal of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission should be terminated. So the old socialist spectre rises again. The Opposition is suggesting that the Government should run things which might well be run by private enterprise. The Opposition overlooks the fact that this is a privateenterprise government. It has always intended, and will continue, to give every encouragement to private enterprise to run. those concerns which are logically within the province of private enterprise. If it is logical for the Government to operate a whaling undertaking, it is equally logical for the Government to run chain stores, to nationalize medicine or to enter the professions and, ultimately, develop a socialist State. That policy is abhorrent to the present Government. I do not believe that the Opposition is sincere in its amendment. I believe that the amendment was put forward for party political reasons. Possibly it has some hearing on a State election which is shortly to take place in Western Australia. T do not propose to speak further on this matter, but will turn my attention to matters which have a bearing on the present economic position. One. of the reasons for the position that is developing is the decline of export income, due either to a decrease of exports or to the fact that we axe not obtaining sufficiently high prices for them. This could becounterbalanced by the manufacture inAustralia of articles which we import at present.
The responsibility to maintain our export trade has. been thrown on to theprimary producers of Australia for very many years. There is nothing new in the assertion that Australia rides on the sheep’s hack. But we must remember that during recent years we have had a, remarkable run of good seasons. Wehave had ten fertile seasons - in some districts, possibly more - when everythinghas been produced in abundance. The present position has been aggravated by the fact that the price of wool now is lower than it has been during the lasttwo or three years. The situation that would arise if there were a continued recession in the prices of wool and wheat could become terrifying if a severe drought occurred - and it- is quite on the cards that that will happen. It was customary, during my early days of farming, to expect a drought after a couple of good seasons. All the time we prepared for the drought that might be just round the corner, and inevitably it came. During the- last few years, we have not had a drought, but, fortunately, due to the assistance that has been given to them by this Government, the farmers have been conserving water and placing fodder in reserve for the drought that they expect will occur.
I notice that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) is in the House. I hope that he will soon announce an extension of the special depreciation provisions in the income tax legislation which at present apply to sheds and machinery for the conservation of fodder. I am sure that he would, be gratified, travelling round the country districts to-day, to notice the great advantage that has been taken of these special provisions. Nobody could travel through the back country to-day without noticing the silos which have been constructed on many properties, as well as the soil and water conservation schemes which have been implemented, largely due to the encouragement which has been given to the farmers by this Government. But the farmers- are now, so to speak, on a hand-to-mouth basis in this regard. These concessions have been granted to the end of June. I trust that the right honorable gentleman will soon make an announcement to the effect that the Government will extend Allowances for depreciation in respect of the items that I have mentioned for a further twelve months, in order to encourage landlords to proceed with these jobs. I am sure that the relatively small loss of revenue involved would be compensated for manyfold by the big advantages that would accrue to Australia as a whole. It is hard to say just where the advantages would stop. Indeed, I doubt whether they would stop, because in the years to come the Treasury would more than recoup its loss by an increase of revenue from increased production.
By far the greater proportion of our export income is derived from primary production. If there is one thing that country people require, it is encouragement to remain on the land. This applies, not only to people who are on the land and to those who have established businesses in country districts, but also to those who are associated with them. In that regard, the provision of good transport facilities is of prime importance. Hand in hand with that goes the provision of other amenities, which are provided in the cities and should be provided in country districts. Transport in New South Wales is by rail, road and air. Unfortunately, the railway system of that State is run down. Even the fences alongside some of the railway lines are not maintained. The rolling-stock generally is in a deplorable condition. In many instances the permanent way, whilst not actually unsafe, greatly restricts the speed at which trains can travel. We have been told that the introduction of dieselelectric locomotives will speed up a lot of the country trains and enable fast stock trains to be hauled to the Sydney markets. However, investigation has shown that the present railway lines are not capable of carrying those heavy locomotives, and that the rolling-stock is not suitable to travel at speeds that have been suggested. Therefore, it is obvious that the people in the country districts of New South Wales cannot depend on the railways to provide them with the stand ard of transport to which, in this age, they are entitled. Although there has been a gradual improvement of the roads, due largely to the federal aid roads grants made to the States by this Government, our roads system is still below the standard that might be expected in this modern age.
So we come to the air. Although great strides have been made in air transport, the people still are not getting the services to which they are entitled. I was sorry to hear the Minister for Air (Mr. Townley) say during question-time to-day that. D03 aircraft belong to the model T Ford stage of aviation. He went on to say that they were suitable for country services. Perhaps one of the reasons why country people depend on DC3 aircraft at present is that our country air strips are not suitable for larger aircraft. This aspect of the matter is causing considerable concern in my electorate and I crave the indulgence of the House to relate briefly the part that the Department of Civil Aviation has played in relation to country aerodromes. Prior to the war, a’ number of aerodromes were established adjacent to the capital cities. During the war, many more were built in country centres. In my electorate alone, two - those at Narromine and Dubbo - were built during the war period. After the war, many local governing bodies decided that air services to their districts should be provided, and they asked the Department of Civil Aviation to construct aerodromes. Invariably, the department informed the local governing bodies that if they themselves constructed the aerodromes, established air services and proved that those services were on a continuing basis, the department would consider taking over the aerodromes. The department has always been careful to avoid saying that it would take them over. If it had done so, it might have been faced with a tremendous burden that it could not bear. Therefore, the department adopted the logical approach of asking local governing bodies to establish aerodromes with their own funds, or with funds raised by public subscription, to obtain the services of airline operators and to keep the air services in operation for a period sufficient to establish that government assistance was warranted. On the face of it, that arrangement sounded very good. But there are some catches in it. The first catch is that the airlines are licensed by State authorities, which do not, apparently, require that a service of a certain standard shall be provided. When an airline has received permission to operate a service, say, from Sydney to a country town only once or twice a week, nothing much can be done. The local authority, having constructed the aerodrome, is dependent on the use made of it by some person or organization, and it might happen that an air service is too infrequent for the Department of Civil Aviation to feel justified in taking over the aerodrome. In this event, an impasse is reached. This has occurred at several towns in my electorate where considerable sums of money - in one instance more than £5,000, and in another more than £10,000 - have been spent by the local shire or municipal councils on the establishment of aerodromes, which have been paid for out of council funds or public subscriptions. Having undertaken the work and made the expenditure, they find that the Department of Civil Aviation considers the air service operating to and from the aerodrome too infrequent to warrant it taking over the aerodrome. The principle seems altogether wrong. The Department of Civil Aviation controls aerodromes, aircraft, safety regulations and all things pertaining to flying, and, logically, it should control also the licensing of airline companies that operate intra-state services.
There is another problem, too. When the Department of Civil Aviation decides to take over an aerodrome that has been constructed by a local organization, the local body immediately ceases to have any obligation, and is probably recompensed for its original expenditure. From that point on, the Department of Civil Aviation bears all the costs in relation to the aerodrome. A very valuable contribution to airmindedness in Australia and to air services for country people, who need them so much, would be made if this scheme were varied by gradually tapering off expenditure by the local authority until eventually the Department of Civil Aviation bore the whole burden. At the present time, there is a sudden switch when the local organization ceases to meet any further expenditure on the aerodrome and the Department of Civil Aviation accepts the entire burden. In the case of aerodromes such as those at Narromine and Dubbo, which I have mentioned, it would be logical for local authorities, which require the aerodromes to be improved, to expect to pay part of the cost. It is obvious that,, if the Department of Civil Aviation must pay the entire cost, very little will be done. I have no doubt that, if local authorities were required to spend someof their own money on aerodromes under the control of the Department of Civil Aviation, big economies would rapidly be made. At present we have anomalies such as those that exist in relation to the aerodromes at Narromine and Dubbo. The aerodrome at Narromine is probably second to none in Australia. It is equipped to such a standard to allow it to be an alternative aerodrome to Kingsford-Smith airport, at Mascot, but no airline company uses it at the present time. Only 25 miles away is the Dubboaerodrome, which was constructed during World War II. It is equipped according to war-time .standards, and local authorities have spent nothing on it. Yet it is rapidly becoming one of the air centres of the west. It needs considerable improvement. I suggest that this matter should he given very much more consideration than it has had in the past.
I am delighted to find that the vote for the Department of Civil Aviation for the current financial year is greater than was its vote last financial year. I am pleased to know also that the grants to aero clubs and gliding clubs have been increased. However, even the present grants are not commensurate with the amount of good work done by those clubs. Recent floods and bush fires have shown us something of the tremendous amount of rescue work that is performed by members of these clubs, which receiveonly a mere pittance in comparison with the public service they render - unfortunately, often at very great cost to the club members. Civil aviation is one of the main forms of personal transport that we can use to encourage people to remain in the country and increase production of the primary products that are- so necessary to the well being of Australia’s economy, which at present is in a critical position. I make a plea for more consideration not only for civil aviation but also for aero clubs and gliding clubs, which serve many purposes far too numerous for me to mention at this time.
Unfortunately, the short time available forces me to make my reference to another matter very brief. I refer to the need for greater consideration to be given to businessmen in country towns. Certain financial restrictions at present in existence have placed these businessmen at a very serious disadvantage, particularly at harvest and shearing times, when they require large stocks of, say, binder twine and duplicate parts. In the past, they have been able to obtain almost unlimited, temporary accommodation, which would be required probably for only a fewweeks, or perhaps a month or two. 1 am told that certain financial restrictions have eliminated this temporary accommodation and have forced a lot of small businessmen in country towns out of business. This has had disastrous effects on country towns, because the places of these businessmen are being taken, one might almost say, by day-to-day employees of large retail houses, chain stores and the like, who have no particular interest in the town as do men who are engaged there in their own private enterprises. T raise this matter while we are discussing economic matters, because I consider that we should encourage .small businessmen to remain in business in country towns.
.- Having already spoken on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech, I rise now to support the amendment to the motion moved by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). It is a great pity that I cannot take up the thread of the remarks of the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes), because I should like to support him whole-heartedly in his observations about one matter. However^ I am not entitled to do so now, and T shall not endeavour to do so. The honorable member for Lawson expressed the view that the Opposition had done something terrible in moving an amendment to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the’ GovernorGeneral’s Speech. He stated also that members of the Opposition had overlooked the fact that the present Administration was a private enterprise government. I assure the honorable member that Opposition members did nothing of the sort. We did not overlook it. We did expect, of course, that members of the Government would be honest and straightforward. That is the basis of the Opposition’s complaint to-day. We appreciate that this is a private enterprise government, but we accuse it of beinginconsistent. If it is to be completely consistent and pursue its private enterprise policy to a logical conclusion, why does it not sell the Postal Department? Why doe3 it not muster up enough courage to dispose of Trans- Australia Airlines? It does not do those things. It is true that the Government resorted to some quite nefarious and subtle practice in association with Trans-Australia Airlines in giving a subsidy to Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited in order to enable it to compete with the Government’s own airline, but the Government has not disposed of Trans-Australia Airlines, nor has it suggested disposing of the Postal Department, so I suggest that it is not a completely private enterprise government at all.
Without informing the Parliament, and without any communication to anybody except those persons who had a run on the rails, the Government was negotiating the sale of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission at Carnarvon, in Western Australia. First, the Opposition wants to do what it can to prevent the Government from disposing of this magnificent asset of the people. If the Opposition is not able to do that, it aims to have the sale effected in a manner about which nobody can complain. If the Government has such a deep love for private enterprise and such a bitter hatred for socialism - I do not hesitate to state at once that I am a socialist, and I make no apologies for it to anybody-
– Which interpretation does the honorable member give to socialism - the Blackburn, Beazley, or Chifley interpretation?
– Not. the interpretation of the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison),.
– Order! The honorable gentleman will take my interpretation.
– I thought that would happen eventually. The last time I spoke I assured the Vice-President of the Executive Council that he would never bellow me down again, and. I am determined about that. If the Government’3 love for private enterprise and its hatred for socialism are such that it must dispose of this, asset, I suppose, that, having, been returned to this House with colossal numbers, it is entitled to go ahead. If, as the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) pointed out in this chamber,, the Government believes that a. socialist project should be disposed of because of the doctrinaire policy adopted by the Go,vernment, irrespective of whether., so far as the community is concerned, the disposal is good or bad, I suppose that the Opposition cannot have any complaints about it.
M.v: Osborne. - Then why is the honorable member complaining?
– I shall tell the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr. Osborne) why I am complaining. Neither he, who is always so eager to interject, nor his leader, nor anybody else made any mention during the recent election campaign of any intention on the part of the Government to dispose of the asset’s of the Australian Whaling Commission at Carnarvon. They say, “We indicated this, and we indicated that “. I challenge the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), or any other responsible member of the Government, to state in this House where and when the Government indicated to the Australian people that it intended to dispose of the Australian Whaling Commission’s establishment at Carnarvon.
– The Government did so in 1952.
– The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) says’ that, in 1952, the Government indicated it would dispose of this asset. There was an election campaign in December, 1955. I want to know when any responsible mouthpiece of the Government said during the election campaign that the Government intended to take this action.
– The Labour party never said it intended to nationalize the banks, but it tried to do so.
– It is public knowledge that this is our policy.
– It is a. pity that I have only twenty minutes in which to speak. If I have to listen to speeches by way of interjection from Government supporters it is certain that I shall not be able to say what I wish to say. Even after the election and after the Parliament assembled, there was no indication of the Government’s intention. Nobody, except the people to whom the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) had written, would have known even now,, had not. the matter been raised from this side of the House. I suggest, that the Minister, having decided to write to certain persons, did not write to all of those to whom he should have written. We would have known nothing of this1 proposal had the honorable member for Lalor not asked a question, in which he was later supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and other honorable members on this side of the House. Right from the outset one could see that the Minister for Trade was desperately endeavouring to avoid this vital question. We are not. discussing the disposal of a pie-cart or a little corner shop, but something in which £1,375,000 of public funds are invested. If members of the Government have become so blatant, so arrogant, and so contemptuous that they think they can, without reference to Parliament, dispose of an undertaking created by the Parliament and involving an amount of £1,375,000, I am satisfied that it is time the Australian people had another look to see whom they have elected. The honorable member for Lalor asked a courteous and civil question of the Minister for Trade about whether it. was correct that negotiations were in hand for the disposal or sale of the Australian Whaling
Commission’s establishment at Carnarvon. The only answer given on that occasion to the honorable member for Lalor was that the Minister always held the view that, all that the Government was expected to do was to prove beyond doubt that the industry was a good one, and that having been established, the Government should retire. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) at a slightly later stage in the debate, cited some figures, which nobody has attempted to challenge, and he asked the Minister,, or anybody accepting responsibility on behalf of the Government, to tell him the approximate price that the Government hoped to obtain. He stated the amount of money that, had been put into the undertaking,, and his figures have not been contradicted. At a later stage he was supported by the honorable member for Yarra. The figures showed that this undertaking was returning a profit of about £200,000- a year. I am sure that I can. speak for the whole of the Opposition when I say, first, that this Government- has no right at all to dispose of that asset. Secondly, in the Government’s hatred for public-owned enterprise, in its love for. the people who send it here to represent them - it represents them very well and I give it full marks for that - why should it adopt these methods ? I heard, an honorable member in this chamber make charges of dishonesty against somebody in connexion with a matter in Queensland. Whether he will be able to substantiate those charges time alone,, of course, will show. If he is able to do so, he will have nothing to fear, but if he cannot do so he will be in a jam.
I know nothing about- these matters but I cannot see the difference between somebody selling property, such as houses owned, by the Government, and the Government handing over to private enterprise an asset such as this, when it means that the handing over will be made to a supporter of the Liberal party or the Australian Country party, and when the Government will not receive the full value- of the- asset. The Minister for Trade, in. the first place, said, in effect, “ Well, I do not know anything about it, except that T agree that we should, dispose of it, because all that we as a. government should do is establish it. Having done so, we should do no more about it except dispose of it “. If that is the Minister’s view - and of course the Government is entitled to do as it pleases - what was wrong with calling open tenders for the purchase of this project in the first place? When the Minister found himself with his back getting harder and harder against the wall, as the days went on and the questions kept looming up, he- said, “ It is true that I wrote to certain people “. When all is said and done, this is the National Parliament and it contains representatives of every inch of Australia. What is wrong with the Minister telling the elected representatives of. the people of the methods which the Government proposes to adopt in. connexion with the. sale of this important asset,, an asset, which, is owned not by Liberals or supporters of the Australian Country party, but by the Australian, people generally ?
My chief ‘ complaint in this matter concerns the dishonest approach of the Government towards the disposal of the undertaking. Only to-day, the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) asked the Minister if it were true that one whaling company had been written to in connexion with the sale of the venture, and that another whaling company had not been written to. The honorable member for Stirling did’ not say categorically that one company had been written to and that the other company had not been written, to, but the Minister for Trade rushed in and said, in effect, “ If my memory serves me aright, they were both- written to “. He did not say definitely that both had been written to, but he called upon the honorable member for Stirling to apologize if. that were found to be so. When the Minister himself was challenged to apologize should his memory be proved inaccurate, he did not commit himself. Whether the Minister wrote to only one company or to both, of course I am not in a position to say, but knowing this Government, and having had experience of the methods so far adopted by the Minister and the Government in this connexion, I am prepared to hazard the guess that the Minister wrote to one and not to the other.
In answer to the suggestion that the Western Australian Government should be given an opportunity to take over this important project, the Minister said, in effect, “I did not write to the Western Australian Government. I wrote to certain companies and to certain individuals. I took up the matter with all kinds of people, but I did not write to the Western Australian Government, because it must be assumed that that Government, as a responsible body, would know that this undertaking was on the market, and it should have got in touch with us”. Whether he has made good the offer that he made to the Western Australian Government, I have my doubts. I am concerned, with other members of the Opposition, to voice my disapproval of the methods adopted by the Government in this matter. It is true that it adopted a similar course in connexion with Amalgamated Wireless ( Australasia) Limited, although it was a little more subtle then. It merely sold its shares in that company. Similar methods were adopted in connexion with Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. The only reason why the Government has not sold the Commonwealth line of ships is that it has not been able to find anybody sufficiently stupid to buy it. The reason it has not disposed of Trans-Australia Airlines is that it has not the courage to face the Australian people and say, “ We are so favorably disposed to private enterprise that we shall not have any truck with Trans-Australia Airlines either, and we shall sell it “.
Surely the honest, correct and logical thing to have done in connexion with this whaling venture would have been to call tenders for its disposal. If anybody can tell me what is wrong with such a course, I should like to hear about it. It has been said that there was a suggestion that the undertaking should be disposed of in 1952, but the Government wrote to a few of the more fortunate people late in 1955 or early in 1956. That is an entirely different proposition. I resent the methods adopted by the Government, and I express gratitude to the honorable member for Lalor for having had the courage and the tenacity to follow this matter through. It will be remembered that the honorable member en- deavoured to move for the adjournment of the House in order to discuss this subject, but in doing so, he became entangled with the Standing Orders. I do not query at all the ruling in that regard. I consider it was quite correct. However, the honorable member for Lalor was not going to be outdone, and he took the opportunity to move an amendment of the Address-in-Reply. I am grateful to him for introducing this subject and for exposing the Government once again for what it actually is. This Government has no more concern for the interests of the community than has the man in the moon. Although it claims to be a private enterprise government, I suggest that it is only half a private enterprise government, and that it has proved that contention beyond doubt. Whilst I know that the action of the Opposition in this matter will not succeed in preventing this blatant and arrogant Government from disposing of the whaling venture, I sincerely trust, that, at least, it will have the effect of exposing the Government before the Australian people and of showing the people what the Government is doing with public property.
– I should like, first, to thank the electors of Fawkner for the honour they have conferred on me in electing me as their representative to this House. I hope that, with God’s help, I shall be able to carry out the duties that they have entrusted to me for the next three years. I want to speak to-day on the subject of trade within the British Commonwealth, but before doing so I feel that, as a former pilot in the Naval Air Arm, I cannot allow to go unanswered certain views on our defence policy which were expressed in this House last Thursday evening. Referring to the role of our defence forces in any possible future conflict, it was stated that a matter of prime importance would be the conduct of anti-submarine warfare. With this view I agree wholeheartedly, but I disagree with the view that was expressed that this task could be carried out more than adequately by the Royal Australian Air Force, and that the Air Force could do it even more efficiently than could the Naval Air Arm. Possibly, the Air Force could do a reasonable job of convoy protection within 500 miles of our shores. Indeed, it might do nearly as good a job as could the Naval Air Arm, but when it comes to protecting convoys in the middle of the ocean, there can be no better arm of the service for that task than the Naval Air Arm. lt is absolutely certain than, in any future war, convoys will be required to transport large masses of men and materials across both the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. If these men and materials are to be convoyed across the oceans, it must be the task of the Navy to protect them. I should like, at this stage, to read an extract from a speech by no less a person than Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, delivered to the RoYal United Service Institution, on the 12th October, 1955. He said- 1 cannot suggest for a moment that we can move everything by air, or that air transport could replace our sea lifeline in any forseeable future. Until we have great nuclearpowered air freighters, or something of that sort, we shall always need our ships and navies to protect them. Indeed, as things stand to-day, if the navies lose control of the seas, the Western Alliance would have to go out of business.
A little later on in his speech, he said -
If . . . war is forced upon us, then it will be vital to have control of the seas. This will be necessary not only for the transport of men and materials, but also to give increased flexibility to our operations generally.
If, therefore, we prove the case for convoys, we must have a case also for naval protection, because the Navy’s job n to protect the convoys. Again, I quote Field Marshal Montgomery -
Today, navies are responsible for control of the seas and for maintaining sea communications. Adequate naval forces must be available to meet this threat. In the conditions of today those naval forces must have their own air forces, since it is no longer possible to allocate either to ships alone, or to aircraft n lone, tasks which call for the closest cooperation of both these arms.
Finally, I should like to quote the following passage from the Field Marshal’s statement : -
Navies require aircraft for locating and destroying submarines and for the defence of fleets at sea. So far as we can see at present, aircraft cannot be operated economically or efficiently in mid -ocean against submarines, or indeed against raiding cruisers, unless some form of floating airfield can be provided there. For these reasons there, may always be a need for vessels from which to operate aircraft.
I, therefore, suggest that the case for a naval air arm has been fully established during the past two years. The aircraft carrier will be of prime importance to the defence of Australia and to the whole of our defence programme. For that reason, I sincerely hope that the Government’s defence policy and programme will be maintained, and that the aircraft carrier will be maintained as an essential part of our defence programme during the period of this Government.
I turn from the importance of the sea in times of war to the importance of the sea in times of peace. I was glad to see that His Excellency the Governor-General made reference in his Speech to the need for promoting i:nd increasing the volume of trade between Australia and the rest of the world, because I feel certain that there is no more important problem facing this nation during the coming year. I have just returned from a visit to many parts of Africa, and I am convinced that there are splendid opportunities for a rapidly increasing volume of trade between our nation and that great continent. In Africa at the moment, there are many millions of people whose standard of living is rising steadily. It is certain that their standards of living will continue to rise even more rapidly during the next ten years. This is a part of the world which is much closer to us geographically than many of us realize, and Australia must take note of the tremendous developments that are taking place not only in the Union of South Africa but also in Nigeria and the Gold Coast in West Africa, as well as in Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda in East Africa. Already, other nations are endeavouring to open up this market.
While I was in Dar-es-Salaam, a Japanese trade mission was making a concerted drive there, and a week later, in Nairobi, there was a trade delegation from Pakistan working very actively to promote trade between that country and Kenya and Uganda. Therefore, other nations are already realizing the importance of the large markets in Africa, and I believe that it is time we in Australia make a concerted drive in those areas. Already, I was able to ascertain, Australianmanufactured goods that have been imported into Africa have a very good reputation for quality. But there are a number of factors which are limiting an increase in trade with “that part of the world.
Undoubtedly, the first factor is shipping - at present, a vicious circle. Unfortunately, at the .moment, only three ships ply regularly between Australia and South and East African ports. These ships supply such an irregular service that wholesalers are reluctant to place large orders for fear of uncertain delivery dates. Consequently, with orders falling off, the shipping interests are becoming worried about maintaining cargoes in their ships, and there is a danger that those ships now plying between Australia and East Africa will be taken off the run. I suggest that we as a government must become convinced that trade between our country and those parts of the world is going to increase, and that a very wide market is available for us there at the present moment if only we can provide a regular and rapid shipping service, and. maintain it. If, at the moment, the shipping service and the volume of cargoes do not induce shipping companies to maintain this run, we should consider the possibilities of ‘providing shipping on a charter basis for, say, the next two years. The Australian Government may find it necessary to charter ships in order to provide this regular shipping service.
I shall refer now to another minor problem connected with shipping, particularly in the port of Mombasa. At present, there is a scheme in the harbour known as phasing, whereby each nation is allowed to have ships in the harbour only at certain periods of the year, and countries which have been trading regularly with Mombasa have a greater chance of maintaining their positions in that market than other nations which are trying to get in and exploit the position. Private enterprise has tried to improve our position with regard to phasing in Mombasa, but has got nowhere, and I feel that the time has come when strong pressure must be directed by the Australian Government to the international committee that -meets at Nairobi in order that we may have a -better -chance of getting a greater volume of shipping into that port than we enjoy at present. I am certain that if regular shipping services could be made available also to West Africa, there would be an immediate and increasing market for Australian wheat in Nigeria. At present, in Nigeria, a large African native population is enjoying a rising standard of living and whereas in the past the people were content with certain native-produced foods, to-day they require an increased standard of living and they desire wheat products in one form or another. The Nigerian Government is unable to get wheat except from dollar sources, a factor which, as a member of the sterling area, it cannot view with pleasure. Therefore, if we could provide Nigeria with wheat, we should be doing a service to that country and to ourselves. In addition to that, by providing regular services on this run, we should possibly start to get more of our manufactured goods on *o the Nigerian market.
Similarly, representations were made to me in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, suggesting that we should buy more coffee from the Uganda Government. At present, Uganda produces a medium-grade of coffee known as the Robusta variety. I understand that Australia now buys this variety of coffee from Indonesia, but the Government of Uganda has suggested that we should obtain supplies from them and so maintain the trade within the sterling area.
The work of the trade commissioners overseas is of tremendous importance. They are doing an extraordinarily good job, but at present, in Africa, the whole of the area south of the Sahara is the province of one trade commissioner and one assistant. Although I agree that the cost of a trade commissioner and his staff might not be warranted in other parts of this great continent, it is possible that Australia could start a scheme of trade agents recruited from the ranks of local businessmen. The need for such an agent now exists in Lagos and also in Nairobi. These men would be able to maintain a correspondence service between the trade commissioner in Johannesburg and local businessmen in those areas, so that inquiries could: be answered rapidly and so that people in, say, Kenya would not have to wait for a visit by the trade commissioner, which may not occur for another year, or even for two years. If this scheme did nothing else, it would ensure that the name of Australia could be found in the local telephone directory and that the would-be inquirer could be directed where to address his correspondence. So many people in Nairobi approached me on this subject that I am convinced that, for little cost, a great deal could be done to promote better relationships between businessmen in Australia and those in East Africa. But at the same time that government action is being taken to improve trade relations overseas there is tremendous scope for improvement on the part of the Australian manufacturer. The first glaring example, which became obvious to me while I was in London, is the way in which Australian products are labelled. The Australian Government is spending an increasing volume of money overseas to promote its policy of “Buy Australian Goods “. But when a British housewife goes to market, determined to buy Australian, products, she cannot find a tin with the word “ Australia “ on it. If one might coin a slogan for Australian manufacturers, it could be, “ Get Australia on the front of the can “.
The Government is doing a great deal to publicize Australian goods, but it could do a. great deal more with sales promotion, by helping to export samples and demonstration products to countries overseas, by organizing trade fairs, and so on. It could do much good by preparing, immediately, a leaflet on the basis of hints for exporters. I saw several examples in Africa of the indifference of Australian manufacturers, and even of gross bad manners, such as failure to answer correspondence or, after taking an order, not following it with a note to the effect that it was not possible to complete it. In Laurenco Marques a year and a half ago, a member of the Australian trade mission going overseas went to great trouble to obtain an order, and was very pleased at the time to get it, but after he left Africa not another word was heard as to why the order was not delivered in Laurenco Marques,, and so far nothing has been heard about it. The harm that that did to Australian trade generally cannot be over-emphasized.
We are faced with a tremendous task in trying to attract the African market, because we are competing against British firms that have been entrenched in Africa for many years. It is certain that the initial period will be one of intense competition. It may be necessary to cut our export prices in the first place in order to obtain orders, and it is obvious that those firms which are encouraged to go into the export market will have to take certain risks. Probably they will have to incur losses as a result of the expense of advertising and of sending agents to these new markets. They will not be able to recoup those losses during the first years o£ trading. Consequently it is important that the Government should be able to give an assurance that a stable trade policy will be maintained for a five-year period, so that exporters will be able to. view their exporting problem as a whole, not only over a period of one or two years.
Bound up with the need for a stable export policy is the need for a stable import policy. The Government of South Africa already has realized this and has based its import policy on national needs for the coming years. It has granted priority, first, to imports of goods required for national development and then to ensuring adequate supplies of raw materials. Finally, on a very low priority, is an allowance for luxury items or consumer goods. Australia was considerably criticized overseas because it appeared that our import policy was related to a situation which occurred, rather fortuitously, nearly six years ago. Our import policy is still related to a base year, and to quotas of that time which might have no relation to subsequent developments in trade and local manufacture. The whole of Australia’s import policy should be reviewed at once and based on future needs, rather than on a quota related to one particular year.
The suggestions I have made relate to a particular set of conditions in a certain area, but I am convinced that, if the problems I have mentioned can he overcome, our markets in the great continent of Africa are capable of tremendous expansion. Many foreign countries are now exploiting this situation. Australia should take advantage of the situation and do everything possible to increase trade with this area. My suggestions could be applied also to other parts of the world in varying degrees. If these opportunities can be seized now, not only will Australia be helped, but also the whole of the sterling area. What is more important, such a policy will serve to strengthen those bonds which already unite Australia with the countries of the African continent that are fellow members of the great British Commonwealth of Nations.
.- I rise to support the amendment that has been moved by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. You will remember, Mr. Speaker, that only by submitting this amendment was the honorable member for Lalor able to have a. very vital matter discussed by the House. First of all, he sought to submit a matter of urgent public importance for discussion by the House, but you very rightly ruled that that course was out of order while the debate on the Address-in-Reply was in progress. He then moved the suspension of Standing Orders to enable the very same matter to be discussed, but the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) moved, “ That the question be now put “, so that the matter could not be discussed. You, Mr. Speaker, again very rightly, ruled that such a motion could not be moved during the debate on the Address-in-Reply. That was something that the Vice-President of the Executive Council, after a period of long and distinguished service in this chamber, should have known. Then the honorable member for Lalor was effectively silenced when the right honorable gentleman moved that he be no longer heard. Every step, legitimate and otherwise, was taken to curb discussion on this vital matter - the sale of yet further assets of the Australian people and the disposal of yet another profitable publicly owned enterprise.
– It has become a habit. Mr. WHITLAM.- True enough, it is a habit. It is a habit about which the Government still feels a certain decent, shame, because it tries to do these things by stealth. The sell-out of the assets of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited and Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, two enterprises which for a generation had been conducted profitably by the Australian. Government on behalf and in the interests of the Australian people, is still fresh in our memories. It will be remembered that in 1951 the Government sold its shares in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited at the conclusion of a financial year in which that company had made a profit of £150,000, and that in September, 1952, it sold its shares in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited at the conclusion of a financial year in which that company made a profit of £257,000.
One is familiar with the argument that governments cannot operate enterprises at a profit and that therefore they should sell those enterprisesto private persons who would either run them at a profit or let them go out of business. Public transport is frequently cited as an example. One knows quite well that in Australia private enterprise is not interested in basic developmental activities; that it will not conduct anything in the nature of public transport activities ; and that, where it has conducted something in the nature of a public transport utility which has become unprofitable, it has gone out of business rather than continue to conduct the enterprise. I refer particularly to Sydney Ferries Limited, which would have ceased operations four years ago had not the Labour Government of New South Wales stepped in and continued to run the service. As further examples of inefficient private conduct of public activities, let me refer to the Adelaide electricity supply and the Melbourne gas supply.
– And Hobart transport.
– Yes, and the Hobart trams. In each case, public enterprise in the form of State governments had to come in to preserve the asset and continue the service. If public enterprise had not entered the field, those activities would have ceased and the public would have suffered. So much for the sense of public responsibility of private enterprise. We have, on the other hand, examples of undertakings that have been run by the Commonwealth, and nin profitably, for very many years. I refer to Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, because, first, they were enterprises that had been run for a generation; secondly, they were enterprises that had always been run at a profit; and, thirdly, they were enterprises that the Commonwealh had disposed of surreptitiously. Although those enterprises were established by legislative fiat, that is, by the decision of the people’s representatives in this Parliament, they were disposed of by administrative fiat, that is, without any reference to the ‘ Parliament or even to members of the Government parties who, of course, play no part in making the decision but must bear their share of the criticism. The Government treats its private members with the same contempt it shows for private citizens.
In regard to the Australian Whaling Commission, you, Mr. Speaker, have been told about the very large profits that were earned last year, in the year before that and again in the year before that. In every year in which this enterprise has been conducted, it has returned a handsome profit, and already two-thirds of the original capital has been paid back. The reason advanced for selling the undertaking is not that it is not making a profit, but that it is making a profit. The attitude of the present Government is not that public enterprises should be disposed of if they do not make, a profit, but that they should be disposed of if they do make a profit. Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited made its profit of ?150,000 in 1951, the last year of public ownership, on an investment of only ?709,494. Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited made its profit of ?257,000 in its last year of public ownership on a capital investment of merely ?850,000. They brought in just as large a percentage of their capital in annual profit as has the whaling enterprise. The pattern of selling such undertakings is being followed consistently.
The more profitable a concern is, the more prompt is the Government in disposing of it.
I shall refer briefly to other enterprises which have been conducted by the Commonwealth at a great profit and which, therefore, it is often suggested the Government will sell. One is the Australian shipping line, which last year made a profit of ?370,000; another is TransAustralia Airlines, which is conducted by the Australian National Airlines Commission, and which last year made a profit of ?221,000; and a third is the Commonwealth railways, which last year made a profit of ?139,000; a fourth is Commonwealth Engineering Company Limited with a profit of ?153,000; and a fifth is the Commonwealth Bank, with a profit of ?.1,105,000. In each case, 1 have quoted figures supplied by the Treasury and the Auditor-General. Allowance has been made for depreciation, overhead and all other charges that any private enterprise would have to debit against its earnings.
– Tell us about the New South Wales tile works.
– In every case, the profit that I quoted was the net profit assessed by the Auditor-General, applying ordinary actuarial principles. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) has referred, by way of interjection, to some State enterprise in New South Wales. I should have thought that, as one of the guilty Ministers who disposed of the State brickworks, he would not have spouted on whales. He was a partner to that skulduggery -
Honorable members interjecting,
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - Order !
– Which was revealed by the New South Wales AuditorGeneral and which brought down the Stevens Government. The amount for which the brickworks was sold was credited to State accounts as part of the annual revenue. That was a completely improper practice, which was too much even for the late Eric Spooner, a former member for the division of Robertson in this House. It prompted him to bring clown the Government led by Mr. Stevens, a member of the Liberal party of New South “Wales. That action of the Stevens Government was abetted by the honorable member for New England who, at that time, was a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. I should have thought that nobody would have sought to justify the sale of any of the Commonwealth’s assets and undertakings, because all of them employ a very small amount of capital, earn very large profits, and are vital to Australia’s economy. Let me refer to them again. Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited was disposed of on the verge of the introduction of television into this country, that is just when the profits of persons engaged in that mass medium and the profits accruing to people who would be manufacturing the equipment needed for the new industry, would most likely be greatest. Just at that time the Government showed the greatest expedition in disposing of its asset.
In the case of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, just when petrol rationing had been lifted and when not only motor cars but also railways and airlines were using petrol and oil fuels to an unprecedented extent, the Commonwealth Government decided that it would dispose of its shares in that enterprise. And just at the time when Caltex (Australia) Proprietary Limited, the Vacuum Oil Company Proprietary Limited and the Shell Company of Australia Limited were building oil refineries the Commonwealth Government decided to dispose of its oil refinery and not to engage in the construction of any further such oil refineries. But the company to which it disposed of its share, its partner in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, the Anglo-Iranian company, bought up the shares and thereupon erected the largest oil refinery in Australia. Tha Australian Government now finds itself in this position: There is no publicly owned or privately owned Australian company which owns one ‘tanker or conducts one oil refinery. All the assets in that vital transport industry have been disposed of to an outside company, a company, it is true, owned by the British Government, but nevertheless a foreign company.
I come now to the whaling industry. If it had not been for the foresight of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), this industry would never have been established. We remember the pitiful history of whaling in Australia. A century ago whaling was one of the big Australian enterprises. In whaling the Australian people were in fact realizing the wealth which teems in the waters round Australia and in the waters between this country and the Antarctic, when because of inefficiency on the part of private enterprise, we faded out of the picture. Until five years ago, whaling was not being carried on by Australians or in Australian waters. The whole of the southern waters and the whole of the Antarctic waters were exploited, and drastically exploited in some cases, by the Japanese, the Norwegians, the British, and other nations from the other hemisphere. It was not until the honorable member for Lalor set up this enterprise that Australians started to engage once again in an activity from which they had withdrawn a century before.
One of the appalling things about the management of Australia in recent years is that our natural resources have been so greatly neglected. We are catching no more fish and no different varieties of fish from those we were catching half a century ago. We worry only about the fish lal the seas near to our coast. In the deep waters of Australia, the pelagic areas, there are, for instance, masses of tuna, which, as we realize with whaling, would bring very great wealth to us. We have the longest navigable coastline in the world and yet we catch and harpoon less than any other maritime country. It was certainly time that we engaged in this enterprise which the honorable member for Lalor initiated. It is said that guarantees will be exacted, that the enterprise will be continued. One can only judge by looking at the position before the whaling undertaking was established. There was no whaling industry in Australia before. Does any one believe that it will be continued in the same measure if the Commonwealth disposes of its assets? At all events, it is a shining example of public enterprise in an important new field.
It has been suggested that the Western Australian Government should purchase the undertaking. So it should if the Commonwealth will not continue it. I grow very tired of this compartmentation in Australia. Whales know no State boundaries; they do not even know of the three-mile limit. One would think it would be more appropriate for the Commonwealth Government to engage in the harpooning or the treatment of whales than it would be for any State government. There are probably just as many whales going up the east coast as there are going up the Western Australian coast. Are we to have the absurd position of six separate State whaling commissions, as we already have the absurd position of six separate systems of transport in the one continent? We have long accepted the fact that public enterprise should remain in certain unprofitable fields, that is in fields that are unprofitable for private people. We say the Commonwealth should not be in them; let the States do it. Then we can blame them for their inefficiency. But, surely, in whaling, which has been efficient in its record and which must remain national in its character, we should retain a Commonwealth instrumentality. And if we believe that a State government should go into it, it should not then compete with certain private people to whom secret overtures have been made, and who have been primed up by some of the honorable members on the Government side who represent Western Australian ports. We should give the State Government the first option and only if it refuses to purchase the undertaking on satisfactory terms should we then give it to private people. Here we have the absurd position of one section of the public, the section represented by the Western Australian Government, competing with certain private persons who are not responsible to any Parliament in Australia, for the purchase of an asset owned by the Commonwealth Government, that is by the people of Western Australia and the other States.
Because this is the only manner in which this vital matter can be discussed by the House, because we are discussing in the only way open to us the disposal of this great national enterprise, I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lalor who initiated the enterprise and who saw it surely launched on its profitable and inspiring career.
.- I support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I was engaged in other business and. did not hear all the remarks of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) ; but the latter part of his talk indicated that he was mainly sponsoring what his party really stands for, the spirit of socialism and s.f.te control cf industry. The amendment moved by the Labour party really supports his contention of socialism. In other words the Labour party has put up nothing constructive in its amendment but just something by way of a token of the principles for which it stands, namely Government control of industry. I say unhesitatingly that I do not support that contention. I do not believe that the Government should continue to engage in trading or should expand its trading activities. Now that we have got back to a time of peace, I submit that we should rather restrict our trading activities. I do not subscribe to the idea that governments can spend more economically than can private individuals. I think the most costly production is that by government spending.
– By a Liberal government.
– It does not matter what government it is. We add to our economic troubles when we collect all our money by taxation and other means and continue to pass more and more to governments and less and less to the various industries which give us the necessary expanded production.
I want to deal with an aspect of our economy for a few minutes. It has been admitted that we have problems, economic and otherwise, at the present time, and when we look at those problems we should consider what approach the Government ought to make to them. In recent years, the Government has received an annual income by way of taxation and collections from other sources amounting to about £1,000,000,000. Of course, it was not all spent by this Government for, under our present system of money distribution, the
States get their proportion, not according to a quota agreed upon hy the States and the Chifley Government, but very much in excess of that quota. In other words, present circumstances are taken into consideration. A further great increase has been made in the amount of money allocated to the States, and the States have benefited as a result. When we look at the amount of money expended on public works, we cannot rightly say that money spent on government works is immediately reproductive, or of assistance to our economy. I do not want to attack public works out of hand, or to suggest that they are not helping the nation; but I do say that money spent by governments should be spent in accordance with a long-term policy and that the Government should have regard to circumstances, from time to time, when considering the amount which should be available for State spending.
No one can suggest that money has been well spent when it has been used, as the New South Wales Government has used it, to build half a dozen dams which were started eight or nine years ago. The further they go, the more money they spend. Money goes into the dams, but not water. One can see how damaging that procedure is to the economy. In other words, no one can say that it is immediately reproductive. So, whilst we must have national works for purposes of water conservation and irrigation and other good purposes as a long-term policy, in considering a short-term policy we must examine financial problems in order to ascertain how we should spend. Suggestions which have been put to us by some economists have not impressed me at all as a means of helping our economy. I think that we have a lop-sided economy. We have inflation in city industries, and deflation in rural industries. If honorable members will look at the White Paper that was presented with the last budget, they will see that national income relating to primary industries has fallen. The quantity of goods sold has increased, but the average income of primary producers has decreased. Yet, in secondary industry, costs are soaring. So the deflated industries have to pay the higher price for anything that they want in the way of machinery. The deflated indus tries have to pay increased freights and increased charges of all kinds to those inflated industries. I think that there has to be a “ balancing up “, and the Government should look at the problem from that point of view.
Another suggestion that was made by the economists would have the effect of placing another tax upon that section of industry that is really producing the income which helps our national economy the most. Recently, in this debate, the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) informed the House that 88 per cent, of our overseas credits came from the sale of our primary products. The economists have suggested increases of interest rates and increase of taxes. I have not the faintest idea what the Government has in mind, nor do I believe that Cabinet has considered those proposals directly, as yet. But an increase of interest rates on the overdrafts of primary producers represents nothing more or less than a direct tax; and it is not the only additional tax that is imposed on primary producers. If interest rates charged to secondary industry are increased, then the costs of secondary industry will go up, and those increased costs, including higher wages, will be passed back to the primary producer as an additional tax. So the primary producer will receive the added burden without being able to pass it on. The country cannot stand that. If the Government wants to reduce the volume of our exports and our overseas credits, let it put this extra tax on primary producers. This short-term policy, if applied to interest rates and taxes, would have that detrimental effect. Far from earning greater credits, such a policy would cause the reduction of our overseas credits.
The position should be examined objectively. The price of wool has fallen somewhat in recent years, compared with earlier prices. Wheat has a marketing problem at present. The price of butter is up and down on the free market. The price is better than it was some months ago but now it has dropped slightly in England of late, and we do not know what the average price for the year will be. Th«> Queensland prices for grain sorghum and maize are 33^ per cent. below the prices of two years ago. I am referring to the world market price. The result was shown in the White Paper which was distributed with the budget papers last August and which, as I have said, revealed that the net income received from primary products was much lower than it had been in the previous year. As a consequence, Australia is struggling to maintain its overseas credits in order to pay for its imports.
If the interest rate is increased, there will be other problems to consider. The bond market will be upset, because the value of those bonds which have been taken out, over the years, at Z per cent, and 3^ per cent, will depreciate. How.ever. that is another problem and, at this stage, I do not want to develop that argument.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was dealing with some aspects of the economic position, and ia particular with the suggestions of the economists who advocated increased taxation and increased rates of interest. 1 gave my view that either would be detrimental and depressing to industry, and particularly in the field of primary production, which is that section of industry that gives most help to our economy, by providing 88 per cent, of our overseas credits. Frankly, I cannot understand any suggestion to tax or depress production, and particularly that production which is of such assistance to our overseas credits. Then there is the general claim for the enforcement of credit restraint, and I believe that that is, to a degree, warranted. But credit restraint, in the field where expansion of production is required in order that we may be able to export more, is the restraint of economic requirements.
I have had numerous protests against any suggestion of increased bank interest. T attended a very representative meeting of farmers, who dealt with the important subject of credit restraint. At that meeting there were complaints of the failure of banks to make advances. The complaints were of the same nature, and those who complained had had like experiences. I personally cannot vouch for each man’s claim that the banks were at fault in every instance, but so widespread were the complaints that I say it is detrimental to have banks restricting advances in that way. This was particularly noticeable in the north coast section of my electorate, where a cyclone destroyed one crop, and in the next year heavy frosts destroyed others, particularly the pineapple crop. Any one who knows something about pineapples will realize that, after a setback of that kind, more than two years elapse before pineapples bear another crop. I have also had experience of a primary industry seeking financial assistance to provide storage accommodation in order to handle the crops pertaining to that industry, and being unable to obtain even a penny. I know the circumstances very well, and I know that the amount that was sought to be advanced would have been saved thrice over. In other words, the losses incurred through lack of storage would be thrice the amount sought to be advanced.
I now turn to the suggestion by the economists to increase bank interest. Let me say that an increase of bank interest would constitute an extra tax, and a direct one, on primary producers, because they could not pass on the extra burden. It would constitute an indirect tax by” increasing the prices of the goods they buy. It would retard production because there would be less incentive to produce, and also because finance would not be available to carry out necessary expansion. Such a move would penalize the industries that produce our overseas balances. I also submit that it would not necessarily result in reducing credits, because the money that is available for investment will be lent somewhere, somehow. It would merely result in the transference of investment money to other channels, which, I submit, might be less productive in our economy.
– Such as hire purchase.
– To governments, for instance - and hire purchase, as the honorable member says. Let ns not judge our economy solely on our ability fe; secure funds for government expenditure, so that governments can fulfil their political requirements by carrying out thi* job or that job. There is more to our economy than the ability of governments to get all the money they want. I say, too, that credit restraint is negative in approach where development is required. It is necessary to restrain in those directions from which inflation flows, but we must assist expansion in suitable industries.
There are two other urgent matters that the Government should consider. They both involve Commonwealth and State co-operation. The first is the coordination of the various arbitration systems, especially in view of the recent judgment of the High Court of Australia. “We know that judgments of State and Commonwealth arbitration courts are at variance, and there is often much conflict. I submit that there must be a recognition that arbitration, if retained - and I see no better method - must be accepted by all sections. There should be a reconciling of judgments with our economic position. By that I mean that the judgments that are given should not necessarily have regard only to the ability of a particular industry to pay, but should have regard to the whole economic position. One industry may be well able to pay the rates prescribed in a particular award, and even beyond them, whereas another industry, if subjected to a similar award, would be put out of existence. Therefore, the courts should consider tha overall economic position when making their judgments.
The second thing that requires consideration concerns hire-purchase finance. On this aspect my remarks will cover the interjection of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). I do not condemn the whole system of hire-purchase finance. I think there is a necessity to retain the hire-purchase system, because it enables people with limited incomes to obtain necessary amenities. But hirepurchase business at present is upsetting our whole economy, mainly because of the excessive interest rates offered for money for hire-purchase finance. “We know that it is affecting subscriptions to Commonwealth loans. Money lenders are refraining from lending money in productive channels because they can get more profitable results in the hire-purchase field, where the public is paying exorbitant rates nf interest. This matter requires attention not only from the Commonwealth. In fact, as I understand the position, the Commonwealth has least to do with it. The States have more power to deal with the position than has tho Commonwealth. I do not however, absolve the Commonwealth from responsibility in this sphere. I think that action should be taken conjointly by the Commonwealth and the State governments to deal with the position.
In conclusion, I submit that these matters should be investigated, and if my speech has done nothing more than provoke constructive consideration I shall have achieved some purpose. The first point I submit is that the Department of Trade has a responsible task to extend our markets. I support the proposal to introduce legislation to provide an export insurance scheme. Such a scheme will give greater encouragement to exporters to send their products abroad, and even to take a risk in new markets. There should be mutual acceptance of obligations by industries that are helped in this way, and by the Government. In other words, I believe that there are industries that could make a real contribution to the better welfare of all by expanding the markets for their products. Secondly, there is a need for a reasonable restriction of imports, having regard to our greatest needs and the ability of Australian industry to continue to produce. The third need is for selective development or expansion for production. Development that is retarded cannot, at the mere whim or decision of a Cabinet, be set again into its productive stride. A temporary restriction may put it back for years. In other words, in our short-term policy we must, while correcting economic weaknesses, be careful not to retard desirable development. Fourthly, we ought to reconcile our arbitration system. This involves the acceptance of their obligations by all sections of industry. Fifthly, we ought to correct hirepurchase anomalies. Let us go forward and do our best in these matters.
.- 1 shall address my remarks this evening to that portion of the Governor-General’s Speech which deals with industrial relations. One finds that this very important problem, which affects productivity, industry and the economic life of the community has been dealt with, during this very lengthy Speech, in only 35 lines. One must express regret that the statements on this important matter and the functioning of our arbitration system generally gave a false impression of the whole position, were ambiguous and vague as to the intention of the Government to correct certain things that need correction, and certainly gave no hope for effective legislation m the future.
Stress is laid on the fact that there is a conflict between the Federal and State industrial jurisdictions. Having mentioned that, and then indicated briefly that something needs to be done about it and that, as times goes by, a policy will be evolved, the whole question is dismissed and the speech glides on to the question of the housing agreement. I feel that a stage has been reached in industrial relations in Australia when it is necessary for statements to be made in this House that will enable the people to gain a clear appreciation of existing trends. At the present moment the outlook is far from, good. Although the Governor-General’s Speech was delivered when the recent waterside dispute was in full swing, that dispute was dismissed in about four words. When we realize that, in addition, there is trouble in the coal industry, there has been trouble in the electrical industry in Queensland, there have been disputes in the building industry, and the pastoral industry is threatened with a hold-up over shearing rates, we can appreciate that, whether we like it or not, industrial relations will, more and more, dominate the economic scene in Australia.
I have heard several honorable members refer, in the course of this debate, to the need for greater production. Every one will agree that this is necessary if the living standards of all sections are to be improved, but both increased production, and continuing increased production, involve human relations, and in any question of human relations the matter of industrial relations comes to the forefront. Therefore, it is necessary to say certain things about our system of arbitration if we are to understand the situation that is developing.
Though the powers of the Common.wealth to make laws in respect of conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes apply only to those disputes which extend beyond the limits of one State, we must ask whether we are using those limited powers for the best advantage of both industry and those who are engaged in it. When one begins to consider that question the first thing that becomes apparent is that although we have had an arbitration act on the statute-book since 1904, it has, in the 52 years of its administration, been in a constant state of flux both as regards the personnel and the powers and functions of the court itself. It is not my intention to review its history at length, but I would point out that in the early stages the court consisted of a president who was a member of the High Court Bench. Subsequently, he had as an assistant, another High Court judge. Then the system of appointing High Court judges was abandoned and judges were appointed for life. An attempt was then made - with no great success - to introduce conciliation commissioners. Ultimately, in 1947, an effort was made to streamline arbitration by the appointment of conciliation commissioners. As a result of the amending legislation that this Government has introduced during the last few years, we have to-day an arbitration court of seven judges and ten conciliation commissioners.
When one looks at the Conciliation and Arbitration Act one finds that it has been the policy of varying governments to amend it extensively. On most occasions these amendments have resulted in strained industrial relations. .To-day employers and employees alike are unsure of exactly where they stand in the settlement of disputes. I shall give a simple illustration. Away back in the ‘twenties the Bruce-Page Government incorporated in the act very harsh penalties relating to strikes and disputes. The same Government, two years later, endeavoured to abolish the Commonwealth Arbitration Court except in regard to maritime matters. In 1930 or 1931 because of the very matter that was mentioned by my good friend the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) this afternoon - the inability of the Arbitration Court to penalize those responsible for lockouts, although unions and union leaders had been fined for striking - amending legislation abolished those penalties altogether. In recent years, instead of having a simple, speedy and inexpensive system of arbitration -which both sides could use readily, there has been a tendency to make the court more legalistic than ever and thus frustrate the settlement of disputes. Finally, in the legislation of 1951 and 1952, there was a reversion to the harsh penal clauses that had been abolished in the early ‘thirties, having been inserted by the Bruce-Page Government in 1927. Therefore, it looks as if, over the last 52 years, various governments have been groping and struggling to find a method by which disputants in industry may be able to finally settle their disputes with advantage to the community as a whole. So I think that, at this stage, one might point out two of the very great difficulties in regard to arbitration, one of which was mentioned briefly by the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann). The first concerns the provisions in the act that make it difficult for both sides to understand one another.
I think I am safe in saying that there is not one member of this House who does not desire to see good industrial relations; yet the very operation of the act itself makes it necessary - in fact makes it compulsory - for the employees to have an actual existing dispute with an employer, or, on the other hand, for an employer who, perhaps, desires a change in the working conditions of his employees, to have an actual dispute with his employees, before either party has access to the court. Until that condition exists access to the court is simply not available. So, on this very vexed question of industrial relations, we start off with an industrial dispute between the parties being a prerequisite to settlement of their differences. The requirements in the State jurisdiction are quite different because, there, no existing dispute is necessary in order to bring differences between parties before a court. All one has to do to approach either a wages board or an ordinary industrial court is to make one’s requests, and the matter can be settled without any active dispute having occurred.
The second difficulty to which I wish to direct the attention of honorable members, is the one mentioned by the honorable member for Fisher. It is the limitations of the arbitration system within the framework of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Most people think that arbitration means that, when two parties have a dispute, each disputant places his evidence before an arbitrator who then makes a decision. But that is not the case in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. May I mention, incidentally, that many trade unions in America have followed a system of voluntary arbitration for some time now. The arbitrator hears the cases of both the employers and the trade unions and, on the facts placed before him, gives his decision. In the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, however, the very factor mentioned by the honorable member for Fisher impedes the giving of a decision, with the result that the arbitration here is not arbitration between two parties, but arbitration between two parties and the community as a whole ; because, after both sides have submitted their cases the court, whether it be a conciliation commissioner or a judge has to take into consideration the effect on the community as- a whole of any decision he may make. So that another factor enters into the question, which is quite apart from normal arbitration as we understand it. In addition to that, there is still another factor, very hard to define, which is termed “ public interest “. The consequence is that, no matter what the evidence in a case may have been, those two other factors, the public interest and the effect of a decision on the community as a whole, have their impact, with results that destroy good industrial relations. I wish to give two illustrations to indicate how salary-earners and wage-earners resent the restrictions that are placed on the settlement of industrial disputes in which they are concerned, but which, however, do not extend to, and affect, all the other factors that have some influence, whether slight or severe, on the economy. I shall take the first typical illustration that comes to mind - that is, the decision made by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in September, 1953. There was a dispute between the employers as a whole, and the trade union movement in general. The employers asked for an increase in working hours and a reduction in wages; the trade unions asked for an increase in wages and an increase in margins. The court determined the issue bv freezing the basic wage throughout Australia as respects all federal awards. That meant that, no matter what the economic conditions were - and I believe i hat the court was pursuing this policy as part of a grand policy which it considered necessary to achieve economic stability - the responsibility for achieving economic stability had to be undertaken by wage and salary earners, who number between 2.000,000 and 3,000,000. At the same time as the court handed down its decision to freeze the basic wage of all workers under federal awards we had the spectacle of State legislatures passing legislation which ended the pegging of rents, with the result, particularly in Western Australia and Tasmania, that very substantial rent increases occurred at the same time as the basic wage was pegged. The inference to be drawn from what is taking place is simply this, that although the court is called the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, it is, in effect, giving effect to a wages policy which may, or may not, constitute a just settlement of the individual disputes which it is called upon to settle.
The second illustration is the margins ease. The refusal of the court to grant an increase of margins has been responsible for the cessation of work on the waterfront, and is the primary cause of the unrest that, at present, is showing itself only too clearly on the waterfront all round Australia. Before the margins case was heard the Government, through the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), expressed its views on the question of margins. Honorable members will no doubt recollect the speeches made by the Minister in which he said, that it would be fair, and, indeed, desirable, that skilled tradesmen and skilled craftsmen should have their margins substantially increased, but that semi-skilled workers should not have an increase in margins. When the case came up for hearing that was substantially the proposition that was placed before the court by counsel for the Commonwealth. The decision was that the margins in operation in 1937, under federal awards, were to be increased two and a half times. As one who has had a good deal of experience in arbitration matters, I ‘can say that I could forecast, along with other trade union leaders, that a whole crop of industrial disputes would stem from that decision, which would effect Australia from one end to the other; because there was history behind the whole question of the 1937 margins, which I shall recount to the House. In 1937, the court reviewed the wages of skilled engineers and others, and fixed a certain rate. As a consequence of that, gradually the whole apparatus began to deal with minor and subsidiary margins. In those days the court consisted of four judges. The result was that progress in hearing cases was very slow indeed. The war broke out and caused further delay in the hearing of cases. More delay was caused by the basic wage case in 1939 and 1940. Then, at the beginning of 1942, as a result of the entry of Japan into the war, regulations freezing all wages for the duration of the war came into operation. So at this stage the metal trades margins had been increased, and some other organizations had been able to get the margins of their members increased, but the great bulk of workers in industry were unable to have their claims finalized. .
– The men at the bottom.
– Yes, the men at the bottom. As a consequence, until 1946, when wage-pegging regulations ceased to operate, no further advance could be made by the huge army of semi-skilled workers, and, in some cases, by skilled workers, to have their margins adjusted. Then, from 1946, the whole process of endeavouring to adjust margins to the 1937 standard went on in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. So, in 1948 the waterside workers secured an increase of their margins, but that was eleven years after the margins decision in 1937. The decision of Mr. Justice Ashburner that according to the judgment of the Full Bench of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in the margins case - under which two and a half times the 1937 margin was given to certain workers - he could not give any relief to the waterside workers, was strictly in accordance with the judgment of the Full Bench. However, the waterside workers now say, “ Why should we be put into the position that before we can get an increase of pay the economic effects of such an increase on the community have to be determined, and they are generally determined in such a way as to keep our wages down, whereas the effects of other economic conditions on the community such as prices, profits and so on are not subject to any regulation at all “.
As my time in this debate is limited, I shall devote the few- minutes left to me to making suggestions about what I think should be done in regard to this matter. I shall suggest three remedies. The first is that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act should be amended to remove unnecessary legalisms, to prevent appeals which are proving of no use to employees or employers, and to simplify the whole arbitration machinery with a slant towards collective bargaining. One recalls with a great deal of regret that in the last budget the total amount made available for compulsory conferences, a procedure most necessary to settle disputes, was only £100.
My second suggestion is that the principle embodied in the Labour Advisory Council, which has been established by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), should be extended to enable frequent consultations to take place between organized employers and the organized trade union movement about matters which intimately affect them. There is not only the matter of a review of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which I noticed has been set down for consideration, but also the matter of considering what is hindering industry at present. Is it a shortage of raw materials? Are import restrictions causing trouble? What are the reasons for our diminishing export markets ? How can the -cost of production be reduced? These and many other matters could be discussed, and both em ployers and employees would then be able to understand and appreciate the difficulties which face each party. Through constant applications to the Arbitration Court both sides are kept apart,* and when a case has been completed and the court has given its decision, instead of better relations being in operation the parties are more than ever at each other’s throats. If we can bring into being a system of conferences, employees and employers can meet and discuss many problems - such as automation in industry - and the result will be better understanding and a better chance to bring about a good understanding between all parties in industry. I suggest that such a state of affairs is essential in order to obtain an increased production of better goods and also to reduce costs.
The third suggestion that I make is that steps should be taken to increase the powers of the Commonwealth in respect of employment and industrial matters. The Commonwealth has attempted to obtain such powers four times between 1913 and 1946. Labour governments have tried three times, and a Liberal government has tried once; but until we have greater powers over the vexed matters of employment and industrial affairs so that national matters may be determined on national standards in the national interests, we shall be continually vexed with problems like those that we have before us to-day. The three suggestions that 1 have put forward are all capable of being put into operation. If they were introduced they would be capable of breaking down the hostility that is rapidly being engendered in the community. They would enable us to understand each other better, improve our industrial relations and would be of value to Australia itself. I believe that they are simple suggestions which are capable of being put into operation, and if the Government acts along those lines at least it will be taking constructive steps to solve a most difficult problem in, what I believe would be, a statesmanlike manner.
.- As I rise on this first occasion to address the House, I am not insensible of the honour and privilege of so doing, and it is with grateful respect that I express mv appreciation in being associated with the affirmation of allegiance to Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second. I should also like to thank the peo’ple of my electorate of Maribyrnong by whose good graces I have attained to this high office. In his Speech on the occasion of the opening of this, the Twenty-second Parliament, His Excellency the Governor-General said, . inter alia -
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.
His Excellency further stated that the Government sought to make a contribution to international peace by building up friendship and mutual understanding with other nations. My colleagues on both sides of the House have most ably directed their remarks in reply mainly to the second group of matters, the economic problem but I intend to confine my remarks to the first mentioned and, in particular, with respect to building up mutual understanding with other nations. I believe that this understanding cannot be achieved without true knowledge of the other nations concerned, and my task to-night is an endeavour to tell honorable members and the people of Australia something about one of our closest neighbours, Dutch New Guinea.
During the latter part of World War II. I was fortunate to be posted to a command in southern Dutch New Guinea. This command afforded me the opportunity to travel through portion of this little-known area, and, by the acquisition of a limited vocabulary of the Malay language, the ability to converse with and study the native people, to realize the enormous difficulties confronting those responsible for the development of the territory. I shall first give a general idea of the topography of the country, its peoples and their customs and religion. The main feature of the territory, which comprises about 160,000 square miles, is the central mountain range which varies in height from about 6,000 feet to 16,000 feet. To the north there is a sharp descent to the sea with only a few rivers, which, in the main, are innavigable to any great extent. The western extremity, the
Vogelkop Peninsula, is mountainous and is the general area to which mineral exploration and development is confined.
Hollandia, the capital of Dutch New Guinea, is situated on the northern coastline near the territorial boundary. The southern slopes are more gradual, and drain enormous quantities of water from the highlands through a network of rivers and extensive swamp areas. The rivers are tidal, and ebb and flow at approximately six to eight knots, carrying silt far out into Torres Strait. The tide rises and falls on the southern coastline to a maximum of eighteen feet. Most of these rivers, particularly the Merauke,, Koembe. Bian and Digoel, are navigable to ships up to six feet draught for considerable distances - the Merauke as far as Boepoel, 120 miles approximately, and the Digoel to Tanahmerah, about 200 miles. These rivers and the surrounding swamp areas are infested with crocodiles and abound with duck and other wild life. The Merauke area itself is a type of savanna, and is slightly higher than the level of the surrounding country. The main towns, if they can be called towns, are Hollandia, Biak, Sorong, Enorotali Fak-Fak and Merauke. The main airfields are situated at Biak and Merauke, with others near Sorong, Mano-Kwari and Kaimana, and there is a flying boat service covering the Sentani and WisseLakes in the north-west.
The native population, estimated at approximately 750,000, are Papuans of practically stone-age vintage. There are two main types - the pygmoid, which inhabits the mountainous area, and the more squarely built, to be found on the coastal and inner lowlands. These are divided into numerous clans and tribes, mostly with separate languages. A few languages may be spoken by as many as 2,000 people, whilst others are spoken by only a few hundred.
The isolation of each main group, due to the inaccessibility of the region, nas largely precluded tribal intercourse, so that no common or widespread tongue has been possible. This has militated greatly against educating and ministering to these people, hut the missionary schools have adopted Malay as a common language, and it is now used extensively, although the present tendency is towards the use of the Dutch language. “ Pidgin “ is not used in Dutch New Guinea.
The social organization is based almost entirely on the village, although in some cases several villages of the same clan have a more or less common society. The normal practice among native peoplesof rule through tribal chiefs does not exist except to a restricted degree in the coastal areas. Each village has its elders, and perhaps the oldest of these bears the chief authority. The people rather dislike any one person having absolute power over them. In those villages where mission schools have been established, a trained native teacher, or Goeroe, usually adopts the role of, say, a prime minister. The customs of these people vary only a little from place to place, and are based mainly on their religious or superstitious beliefs. As they have no prior conception of a Divine creator, their own religion is mainly animistic or totemistic. The custom of head-hunting, which has been greatly diminished by the untiring efforts of government officials, particularly in the northern areas, is still, however, carried out, and is prevalent in greater degree in the southern and southwestern areas. The natives say that, unless they indulge in this practice then* children will not have any first names, and that is a disgrace in their eyes. The reason is that the last word uttered by a. victim, who, if captured alive, is usually asked his name, is remembered, and the name is conferred on the next offspring of the head taker. Similarly, cannibalism still exists to-day, although strong action is taken by the government when news of any such event is brought to its notice. Again, even apart from the scarcity of meat as such in the diet of the average native, there is the underlying belief that the qualities of the enemy so despatched are transmitted to the partakers. I had occasion to question two natives from the Digoel River area who had been brought to Merauke on charges of cannibalism, which had been proven, and awaited transport to the prison settlement at Tanahmerah. They explained to me the beliefs underlying head-hunting and cannibalism, and finally volunteered the information that white men were not good to eat, as they were very salty. I have attended both manhood and funeral ceremonies and have had the native wedding ceremonies fully explained to me. The last-named, by western standards, are loathsome and disgusting.
Women have a low place in the Papuan society and normally do all the work, even through the whole period of pregnancy. This fact, and the high incidence of malaria, which affects the young to a much higher degree than the adults, are the main causes of abnormally large infant mortality. The rate is about 60 per cent. Another cause of infant mortality is the preference often given to a suckling pig by the nursing mother. The children of six villages some 100 miles apart were examined by a senior army medical officer who accompanied me on this occasion, and he found that nearly 70 per cent, of the children in each village had enlarged spleens.
I have endeavoured to portray to the House a picture of the ruggedness of the high terrain, and the extensive swamps. About 80 per cent, of the whole area is covered by tropical jungle. The remainder consists of kunai grass and waterways. I have tried also to give some idea of the enormous difficulties surrounding the Dutch efforts to bring these people into a better way of life in accordance with Western standards of modern civilization. The first contact with the natives was effected by the missionaries. In 1855, the Protestant church established a mission in the north near Manokwari and in 1905, the Roman Catholic mission was established in the south at Merauke. So well has their work been done in the establishment of village schools that to-day, of 400,000 natives with whom there has been direct association, no fewer than 200,000 have become converts to Christianity.
Over 500 of these schools have been established. Naturally, the main approach has been through the village schools. Children between the ages of five and twelve years are generally given a threeyear course under the tutelage of a J Javanese or native teacher, who is supervised by regular visits from the priest or missioner. There are at present about 35,000 children receiving such education, and there is no problem of juvenile delinquency.
The immense difference between the old generation and the new must be seen to be appreciated. The adult men are naked except for a gourd worn in front. This is tied with woven grass around the waist, and there is a tuft of grass like a switch behind. Plumes of cassowary and other birds adorn their heads, and they clasp in their hands black palm or bamboo bows and arrows. Some of the women wear grass skirts, but the older ones merely have a woven grass “ decency belt “. Their eyes reflect the darkness of the superstitious fears which surround them.
On the other hand, the school children are clean, happy and smiling. They are clothed in smocks or shifts, and are courteous to a degree, with high moral standards of right and wrong. I well remember several occasions when I handed out sweets or fish-hooks to large numbers of children as they filed past. Then I turned to others standing by and proffered my gift, to be met with a shy smile and the words, “ Ada Tuan “, meaning that they had already received a gift. I am afraid that many of our own youngsters would have “ doubled up “ for more. Their sense of humour is evident. At one time, when I tried my skill with a bow and arrow, the missile lodged in the schoolroom door. They shouted in Malay, “ Kepala Merah has killed the school “, and I had to request that the next day be a school holiday so that the school house could recover. Their musical education has not been neglected. They sing delightful songs, either of Dutch origin or their own folk songs, usually centred around important events in the village. They are sung in Malay to the accompaniment of bamboo flutes made by the Goeroe
Technical schools at Hollandia and Merauke are maintained by the missionaries, who teach woodwork and metal turning. The most advanced pupils are taught the handling of motorized tractors, &c, and later they will also handle roadmaking and heavy earth-moving equipment. This is necessary as the work force must come from local sources, but skilled trained labour is very limited at, present.
The main difficulty in the development of the country is the lack of communications. Except for minor earth road sys tems around the six main towns and the navigable rivers in the south, there are only hazardous jungle trails. Air transport has become a necessity, and the government has further developed the wartime airfields at Biak and Merauke. Recently, it has also established several satellite fields. Wharfs have been built or improved, and the first part of an ocean landing stage project has been completed at Merauke. There is no doubt that development is greater in Australian New Guinea than it is in the Netherlands part of the territory, but the Netherlands Government is planning to make up the leeway as quickly as possible. However, it is not easy to attract private capital under present conditions.
Since 1950, the Dutch Government lias spent £63,000,000 in Australian currency on development. Half of that has been expended on oil and mineral exploration in the Vogelkop Peninsula and the remainder on consumption goods and agrarian projects.
Near Merauke, an experimental rice field of 1,000 acres has been planted and will be cropped in June. If it is successful, 3,000 acres more will be planted in an endeavour to produce more rice for local consumption. It is proposed to rotate with ground crops and fallow and, after the fifth year, to establish 500 head of cattle on artificial pasture. Then the herds are to be built gradually to 6,000 head. The Merauke savanna is the only main area suitable for live-stock. This scheme should occupy ten years before fruition. It is then expected to yield 8,000 tons of rice and 400 tons of meat annually. The first ten of some 50 medium farms are being established on the Ransiki plains to the north to grow cocoa, maize, soya and similar crops. There are now two sawmills. One of medium capacity has been established at Manokwari for export purposes, and one of smaller scale at Merauke for timber for local use.
Hospitals are established at Hollandia and Merauke with 100 beds. Advanced natives are trained as village nurses and medical assistants, mainly to combat infantile mortality. The task of developing this country is immense, and there is little apparent hope of more than a meagre reward because, apart from about 4,000 tops of copra a year, a small quantity of crude oil, crocodile skins, a little timber, nutmeg and mace, little else of exportable value is available, unless some outstanding mineral discoveries are made in the future.
In conclusion, I wish to emphasize to this Parliament, and to the Australian people, the utter lack at present of any national aspirations among the primitive inhabitants of Dutch New Guinea, nor is there any likelihood of such a spirit in the foreseeable future. I wish to direct attention to the great work of emancipation that has been undertaken by the Dutch Government against tremendous difficulties and with little hope of material reward. Finally, and above all, I wish to emphasize the proximity of this land to our own shores - a distance of only 150 miles.
.- The delivery of a Speech by the GovernorGeneral and a debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply form traditional procedure at the opening of a new parliament. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech is delivered to make known to the Parliament what it may anticipate in the way of legislation. It is also a record of the Government’s administrative service. The debate on the Address-in-Reply affords an opportunity for a general review of those matters, and newly elected members of the Parliament are given an opportunity to deliver their maiden speeches. This debate is a means of introducing those honorable members to the House. I should like to offer my congratulations to the newly elected members upon the high standard of their contributions to the debate. I should like to say particularly to honorable members who have joined the Opposition how delighted we are with their presence in this chamber, and how warmly we appreciate the splendid contributions they have made to the debate. We appreciate the objectiveness of their thinking and the ability with which they have expressed their thoughts. We believe that the Parliament has benefited greatly as a result, and that it will be an advantage to the nation to have men of their standing in the Parliament.
I hope that time will permit me to review the economic circumstances that prevail in Australia; but first I feel impelled to make some observations regarding the intention of the Government to dispose of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission. This body operates a whaling station at Carnarvon, in Western Australia. I warmly commend the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) for having brought to public notice the action of the Government in this connexion. It is truly remarkable that a matter of such importance was not mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) showed reluctance, in the first place, to give a straightforward answer to questions that were addressed to him upon this matter. Then came the admission of the Government, through the Minister for Trade, that our worst fears were to be realized. The Opposition must express the strongest condemnation of this retrograde step. The furtive manner of the Minister and of the Government in this connexion seems to indicate that they were aware of the public protest that would be provoked by a knowledge of the proposals.
The first principle of this Government is to serve private and individual interests. The Government regards them as being paramount to public interest and rights. The whaling station is to be sold. Interested persons and parties have been specially notified by the Government of its intentions. The whaling station is a public utility, and should be dealt with as such in the light of a public declaration, and full understanding by the public of the proposal. This is an extraordinary way for a government to negotiate for the disposal of a public undertaking. Why, if this disposal is an order of the day - and we have been given to understand in this House that it is - was it not. openly advertised and tenders invited for it? Private interests are to be served, even at the expense of public rights, in the disposal of public property. How can the Government be sure that the persons who have been communicated with in connexion with the matter are the only persons who might be interested in it? If there is to be a disposal, let it. le open for all to bid, with no close preserve for interested parties. I should like to be supplied with a list of the people with whom the Government has communicated. Indeed, I believe that the House is entitled to that information. It is also entitled to know who are the persons who hold shares in the ventures which are regarded as the interested parties and with which the Government has communicated.
Here is an important industry, efficiently set up, and possessing one of the best and most modern treatment plants. It was established at a cost to the people of this country of approximately £1,250,000. To-day, its actual value is at least £4,000,000. Its profits have grown steadily since it was established. The profit last year amounted to only £2,000 less than £250,000. That considerable profit shows how efficiently the undertaking has been managed and how valuable it is to the community.
The Australian Whaling Commission is performing a useful national service. Tt is publicly owned, but, of course, that is what the Government does not approve of. Successful public undertakings are to be offered to interested parties, but the taxpayers are to be required to accept liability in relation to unprofitable public undertakings. This Government’s policy is to sell profitable projects to interested parties. Evidently it is of advantage to be an interested party because one cannot help but succeed with a successful government undertaking. The policy of the Government parties is to confer an advantage on certain individuals at the expense of the community. It is in this connexion that the fundamental difference lies between the Government parties and Labour. We on this side of the House have no private or interested parties to serve. We do not have to satisfy the charges or claims of individual interests. Labour has but the claims and interests of the people to serve and safeguard. Although this may be regarded as a socialistic approach, it spells public interest and public wellbeing. It is anathema to the Liberal and Country parties for a business or utility to be publicly owned. That is contrary to their philosophy.
If I may digress from the subject of whaling for a moment, I should like to emphasize how woefully contradictory and inconsistent is the attitude of people who make private profit the excelsis of political belief. The people who decry public undertakings as applied socialism are the very people who, in the emergency of war, shelter in the protection of a nation under absolute and complete control, mobilized to provide the maximum strength with which to resist any enemy that might attempt to assail it. Socialism is good enough then to protect the nation. By that means, the lives of individual citizens are protected. All assets and treasure, all material supplies and all industry - in fact, the whole of the resources of the country - are given a protective covering from aggressors by invoking the cardinal principles of a philosophy which these people, in times of peace, reject in order that selfish, greedy, grasping, interested parties can get their hands on the property of the community and make personal gain and profit at the expense of the people.
Speaking specifically to the amendment that has been moved by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), I say that it is time a halt was called to the sacrifice of public assets. The result of recent gallup polls shows that the people are of this opinion. In addition to the industry that has been set up in Western Australia, we must consider the licence that attaches to it under an international convention, which gives a monopoly to whoever operates in signified areas. That is important from the point of view of international obligations. It is important to the people that this whaling undertaking should continue to -be owned and controlled by the nation. I support the amendment, because I believe that it was fully justified. By moving it, the honorable member for Lalor has provided the House with an opportunity to express opinions in relation to this important matter. It cannot be denied that this country has been caught up in a spiral of inflation. Constantly rising costs are denying to many people a proper standard of living. Both public and private assets are depreciating. Our financial balances are awry and our overseas credits are at an extremely low level.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has deemed it expedient to appoint an advisory panel of financial and business men as well as leading public servants to investigate the position and submit a report to him. I note that no representatives of the consumers or the industrial workers of this country have been included in the body. As fa i as the Government is concerned, it is purely a big business enterprise. That being so, it is right that it should be challenged by those who represent the greater body of public opinion. The Australian Labour party has the right to speak for the majority of the people of Australia. At the recent general elections, 1,900,000 people voted for the Labour candidates, and 1,700,000 for the candidates of the Government parties. Therefore, 200,000 more people support Labour than support the Government. The Australian Labour party, with which it is my gr eai pleasure to he associated, undoubtedly has the right to speak in the name of the. majority of the Australian people.
The Government’s methods have allowed the position of Australia’s economy to go from bad to worse. There are many factors by which this can be proved. The value of money is a token of relative values. Since 1949, the year of the advent of the present Liberal party and Australian Country party Government, the purchasing power of the £1 has declined by 8s. These figures are not mine. They are the official figures of the Commonwealth Statistician. This decline of the value of money means that salaries, wages, pensions, superannuation payments and savings all nave been reduced in value. Many wage-earners, in an attempt to meet this situation, have had to seek overtime or week-end work. Certainly, living standards, on the basis of the hard-won right to the 40-hour working week, have, been increasingly threatened by the present trend of our economy. An even more positive proof of the decline of standards is to be found in the Statistician’s figures which prove that the individual food consumption in Australia has been reduced. The only remedy that seems to commend itself to Government supporters is either compulsory saving or taxation to drain off the community’s spending capacity. What a paradox! The nation is alleged to be enjoying prosperity, but those who govern say, in effect, “ Of course you have prosperity, but you must hand over any such advantage because the Government cannot afford to allow you to make the purchases you desire”.
As I have already indicated, values have declined since the present Government took office. The Chifley Labour Government left a high level of national stability. The economy at home was prosperous, and overseas balances were at an all-time high. It is evident that this Government’s policies are pathetically unimaginative. It has not attempted to control profits and prices. When the basic wage was pegged, it should have taken action to stabilize prices, but it did not do so. The Chifley Government largely maintained stability by a system of subsidies, by means of which it kept the prices of many items in the C series index under rigid control. The present Government lias withdrawn the subsidies and removed all controls over prices and profits, which have been allowed unbridled rein to injure the community. In this way, wealthy eople are relieved of their share of the burden of equating wages and prices and of contributing adequately to the national well-being. There is need for a review of these matters by the House and the country, and I hope that we shall be afforded a full opportunity to consider all the facts so that we shall be able to decide upon remedies. The policy of the Australian Labour party is that if wages are to be controlled, profits and prices also must be controlled.
– Upon a national plan.
– As the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has stated, these controls must be based upon a national plan. This plan must be comprehensive and capable of solving fully and effectively the present problems which are a serious threat to our economy and to the wellbeing of every man, woman and child in Australia.
.- Mr. Speaker, when I listened to His Excellency the Governor-General at the opening of the Twenty-second Commonwealth Parliament, I felt, as did all honorable members on this side of the House, a glow of pride at being a member of a party which has such a realistic grip on the affairs of the country, and I was honoured to be associated with His Excellency’s expression of loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen. Reference has been made to the importance of primary production and the need for still greater production in our secondary industries to help balance our ever-growing volume of imports. These are factors of great urgency. The answer to the problem lies not so much in legislation as in the responsibility of the individual. No one will deny that we Australians are a strong, virile race, but it gives cause for concern that we fail to exert ourselves even more to attain higher production, for on this depends our country’s financial stability. Both employer and employee must share the responsibility, and both will reap the reward. We have set a higher standard of education and, in doing so, we have given men and women a greater desire to achieve something in life. All we can offer them in this machine age is repetition and drudgery. Any person who has a brain to think with, and a will to make progress, becomes bored and discontented. When the worker finds self-fulfilment in his work, instead of a sense of drudgery, lie will want to work with renewed enthusiasm. We shall then have greater efficiency and a higher degree of co-operation between employer and employee. With self-fulfilment, each person will stand as an individual and an Australian, important to himself and to Australia, and he will not feel that he is just a minute part in a mighty machine.
I was pleased to hear, in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, reference to the Government’s interest in housing agreements with the States. A country’s courage and development depend largely upon the home. Let us be generous in helping our people to acquire their own homes. On this point, I am sure, all honorable members will agree. I trust that expenditure on public works will not be curtailed. This is a young country and we build for posterity. Let us build well. Even though I advocate a generous expenditure on defence, I would rather be a healthy, ft-pe man than a wealthy prisoner. Our successful immigration policy offends none and pleases many. The number seeking naturalization papers grows each week. My wish is that we could get more immigrants from the Mother Country, from the whole of the British Isles, for they assimilate so easily, intermarrying and quickly becoming part of the community. Let us bear in mind that to the north there are 1,000,000,000 Asians, and as Australia is the outpost of Western civilization in the Pacific, let us not waver for one moment in our plans for immigration. Australia is the great nation of the future. We must think now as Australians and stand as individuals - not as weaklings, with the one thought, “ Oh well, there is always England and America “. If we are to enjoy the faith and trust of these great allies, we must be prepared to shoulder our share of responsibilities. The desire to build and retain international friendship has been, and I know will be, this Government policy through the years. The Government is aware of Communist propaganda, and its infiltration has always been acknowledged. It would be stupid to think that the Communist usurpers of freedom died with the Petrov affair. The people may be assured that active watch is kept on the movement of this undesirable party.
I trust that in the not-too-distant future the Commonwealth Arbitration Court procedure will be streamlined so as to expedite the hearing of appeals, and that the doctrine of hate that has grown up between some union leaders and the employers will be overcome. Might I advocate, as a representative of the most progressive and prosperous State in the Commonwealth, a closer liaison between Federal and State governments. This is no new thought, but I wish to take it further. We are responsible for helping local governing bodies, which carry out their work in an honorary capacity. It is common knowledge that all are short of money. I advocate a more sympathetic treatment of these worthy councils. I know that their grants, such as they are, come through the States, so some may disclaim federal responsibility, but I direct attention to the fact that allocations of money to the States may be marlwith a rider that specific allotments bf made for towns, boroughs and shires. I remind all honorable members of the great pioneering work that has been done by our local governing , bodies. The people who compose them have shown an example of individuality and selfsacrifice, and given in their .own sphere a leadership which is an example of the principle of voluntary service for community benefit. These great bodies, which represent the third most important form of government in Australia to-day - I might say the forgotten government - deserve all the assistance and cooperation that can be given.
In the Governor-General’s Speech, reference was made to the improvement of telephone and general post office services. Within my own electorate much can be done to extend these essential services to many who have waited patiently through the years. I trust that the Minister will persist with a programme that will satisfy the wants of all. Social services have made great strides during the regime of the Menzies Government. Those who desire to see evidence of the good that can be achieved by helping persons in the twilight of their lives should visit the Queen Elizabeth Home at Ballarat. We are proud of it. It is rightly called a home. All the occupants enjoy the best of care and amenities, and a feeling of peace and comfort pervades this wonderful dwelling. The former Minister for Social Services, who is now the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon), showed the Government’s appreciation of the work being done. I hope that the new Minister also will be kind in his treatment of any application under the Aged Homes Act.
I wish to reiterate the theme of my address, which has been the development and encouragement of the individual. We must protect his rights and freedom. We have progressed as a nation because of the pioneering spirit of the individual. From this Parliament let us encourage this individualism. The man in the street, the small farmer and producer, the family man who has a great stake in the nation’s future, must be taken into the Government’s confidence if a balance between availability of resources and production is to be achieved. This is essential to our economy, and I believe that if these persons can be made to feel important members of a team, by their own individual efforts as team members, they will collectively make a marked contribution to their own future, their children’s future and that of generations to come. 1 urge the Government to take these people into its confidence, for this spirit of co-operation and teamwork will build for us the great nation that we are planning.
.- First, I desire to congratulate the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Erwin) on his maiden speech in this House, though I am afraid that after he has been here for some time he will be a little disappointed, should he look back on the speech he has made to-night, with such high hopes of improved telephone installations and adequate housing, and his very good suggestion of better liaison between State and Federal governments. Those of us who have been here for some time realize that telephone installation in all parts of Australia, instead of improving in relation to outstanding applications, is actually getting further behind. In respect of greater co-operation with the States, we all know that since thic Government first took office the States have ceased to be treated as equals at Australian Loan Council meetings, and the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) stands over them, adopting a “ take it or leave it” attitude. They have to leave it, because there is not much “ take “ about it. I hope that the honorable member’s plea will lead to better relations between the National Government and the State governments, and that all governments will work together in order to give the people a share in the better things of life. The honorable member referred to the Government’s interest in housing. Some believe that that is all the Government does about housing - takes an interest in it.
I wish to refer, at this stage, to the housing problem, not only as we know it in the various States, but also as it exists right here in Canberra. I do not wish to outdo- the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser), who is incessantly requesting more homes and better housing for the people of the Australian Capital Territory, but to point out how the lack of housing here is reacting on the Commonwealth Public Service outside the National Capital. In each Gazette that is printed, various vacant positions are publicized, and applications are invited from public servants in the States who wish to come to Canberra and fill those vacancies. In all States of the Commonwealth there are officers who are eager to apply and willing to come to Canberra, in many instances, officers who have been trained as cadets by the Government and taught to be efficient public servants, but they are unable to apply because they, know that if they were appointed they would have “Buckley’s” chance of obtaining accommodation in Canberra. I think that the housing position in Canberra to-day is worse than it has ever been. A married officer with children is denied his right to promotion to a position in Canberra because the Australian Government - no State government can be blamed for the shortage of homes in the Australian Capital Territory - has failed to provide accommodation even for its own officers, although such accommodation is urgently needed.
As honorable members know, the new administrative building in Canberra is nearing completion, and we hear about departments being moved to Canberra from Melbourne and other cities. I do not object to that being done. Indeed, I believe that it is proper that the various departments ultimately should come to Canberra, but I think it is utter folly to build office blocks and to arrange to move the departments to Canberra without, at the same time, providing accommodation for the officers of the departments. I suggest that if the programme of moving personnel to Canberra is carried out in the future at the pace at which it is proceeding at the present time, it will not be very long before the Commonwealth Public Service is faced with wholesale resignations of officers. That is bound to happen if the Government says to officers in Melbourne, Adelaide or Sydney, “ We want you to take up positions with your departments in Canberra “.
The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Erwin) spoke of the interest of the
Government in housing. I sincerely hope that the Government will take more than an interest in this matter; I hope that it will get right on the job of providing accommodation here in Canberra for Commonwealth public servants. Of course, we cannot blame only the Australian Government for the inadequacy of housing throughout the nation. I know that, in South Australia, the housing shortage is more acute than it has ever been. Of course, there are houses for sale in that State, and there are people who want to buy houses, but it is impossible for them to obtain the necessary finance. The average price of houses in South Australia is £4,000, although the person who is sufficiently lucky to be able to purchase a house from the State Housing Trust may get his home for £3,500. A person who wishes to buy a home, and who has insufficient money to pay cash for it, may go to the Commonwealth Bank, the State Savings Bank or some other lending institution, but the most he can borrow is £1,750. He has to find the balance. I heard of a case only recently - and it was a land agent who told me about it - concerning a ‘ young man who wanted to purchase a house in the £3,500 range. He had £1,300 and needed an additional few hundred pounds. He had done a good job in saving the £1,300 ;. he was a steady young man, and he thought that he should grasp the opportunity to own a home. The land agent tried desperately to obtain money on second mortgage. Ultimately, he rang a person in South Australia who repeatedly inserts advertisements in the daily newspapers advising would-be home purchasers that money can be made available to them. This person told the land agent that he could supply the £400-odd, and that the interest rate would be 15 per cent. Not satisfied with that, however, in addition, he would make a charge for finding the accommodation for the borrower. Of course, that rate of interest would be a flat rate.
In conditions such as those, what chance is there for young people to purchase homes? The housing position is desperate. The Australian Government could assist greatly to relieve that position if it were to make more money available, through the Commonwealth Bank, to home purchasers. Again, I say that I hope the Government shows more than an interest in housing. I want to see action from the Government, so that homes may be made available promptly to people who deserve them.
I am sorry that I have discussed these matters to which the honorable member for Ballarat referred, because while I have been doing so, the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) has left the chamber, and I want to make a few remarks about a matter which comes under his control. I refer to national fitness. I have before me a copy of the National Fitness Act passed by this Parliament. The act states that a Commonwealth Council for National Fitness shall be established and that -
The Council shall advise the Minister with respect to the promotion of national fitness, mid in particular in relation to (o) the measures to be adopted to develop appreciation of the need for physical fitness; (6) the provision of facilities for instruction in the principles of physical education; (c) the organization of movements, and the provision of facilities, for attaining or maintaining personal physical fitness: and (<Z) the training of teachers of classes, and of loaders of movements or groups, formed for the purpose of promoting physical fitness.
That is a very good act, and it has enabled much to be done in the way of promoting national fitness. For instance, it has, in a small way, enabled the National Fitness Councils in the various States to come to grips with the very- grave problem of juvenile delinquency which the nation has faced in recent times. The battle against the cult of bodgies and widgies has presented serious problems for Australia. Leaders are needed to go into organizations, such as youth clubs, in order to show these young people how foolish they are, and to encourage them to break away from the associations that they have formed. Recreation for the young people of the community is a matter of great importance. To-day, we are meeting problems which have grown up with the children who were born during and immediately after the war years, and who have now reached adolescence.
The National Fitness Council receives an annual grant of £72,500 from the Australian Government. At first glance, that would appear to be a fairly large sum, but when it is divided up amongst the various
States, each State’s portion is not very great. If I refer again to South Australia in this connexion, I do so only because I know conditions in that State best. The sum allotted to South Australia, of that annual grant, is £5,742. With this money, the council has to pay staff, supply office accommodation and equipment, develop its camps and youth hostels, pay wardens’ wages, supply financial assistance to local national fitness committees, youth organizations and sporting bodies, and extend its services into youth and sports groups with such things as leadership courses, library, films and the loan of equipment. It will be seen, therefore, that, £5,742 does not go very far when the council is faced with the task of providing all these things, lt is true that the State Government contributes a certain amount, but even then the funds fall far short of the amount needed if a real national fitness movement is to function properly.
The voluntary organizations that have taken up this battle of giving the youth of this country the means of developing themselves are faced with great problems. They realize that if we enable youths to attain n high physical standard, we may not, have any serious worries at a later date on the score of national health. To promote a healthy people the first essential is to pay greater attention to the fitness of the young.
Youth clubs in the various States are finding the cost of this great work completely beyond their financial resources. Recently, in my own electorate, two sub-branches of the returned servicemen’s league formed youth bodies in their districts, but in purchasing gymnasium equipment, boxing gloves and so on, they have just about reached the end of their financial tether. They have sought my advice about approaching the National Fitness Council for assistance. I appreciate the problems of the council. It simply has not got any more money to distribute. One of the reasons why it has not get sufficient money is that although the grant made to it nine years ago was £5,500 a year, the amount has been increased to only £5,742 per annum. Again, I emphasize that I am speaking of South Australia. With the money that has been, provided by the South Australian Government, the National Fitness Council has been able to maintain national fitness services only at their 1946 levels. The council simply has not the financial resources to extend them. 1 am confident that if the new Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) would summon the members of the Commonwealth council to Canberra yearly, so that the various directors and their delegates might explain to him their needs and the great good that the movement is doing in the community, he could not neglect this vital problem. The former Minister called meetings irregularly, to say the least of it. He did not seem to be very much concerned whether full value was being obtained for the money spent. There can be no doubt that full value certainly was obtained for the money expended, but these national fitness councils are entitled to a far greater contribution than they are receiving now. I leave that subject, expressing the wish that the new Minister will take speedy action in this matter, and will concentrate on building up the youth of this nation so that in later years there will not be such a drain on our health resources.
En the few moments left to me, I should like to pass a few remarks in support of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) to the Address-in-Reply. The transactions relating to the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited are history now. Our present protest is against the underhand method that has been adopted for the snide disposal of another asset of the country. I am told that Trans-Australia Airlines is now in such a good financial position, through having bought the Vickers Viscount aircraft, that it is eager to reduce fares and freight charges, but because of pressure from this Government and from Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, this utility is compelled to maintain its prices at levels similar to those charged by its privately-owned competitor. The Vickers Viscount machines have proved to be a great success, and with them Trans- Austral! a Airlines could give the people of Australia cheap flying ser vices. Apparently, it is denied this right. Trans-Australia Airlines ha3 been subject to sabotage by this Government consistently. The Government has not torpedoed the enterprise, but has attempted to deal a death blow to the Australian Whaling Commission before the Parliament had any knowledge of it. We are indebted to the honorable member for Lalor for his revelations. I sincerely hope that even if we cannot prevent this Government from selling the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission, at least we shall be able to ensure that we obtain a fair price for the people of Australia, anc] that the Government’s snide attempt to make the enterprise a giveaway present to people who have supported the Liberal party and the Australian Country party is defeated.
.- First, I should like, in this, my first speech in this Twenty-second Parliament, to congratulate Mr. Speaker, through you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, on his re-election to that high office. I should like also to congratulate all those who have made their maiden speeches in this House. It is not so long ago since I made my maiden speech here, and I still realize and fully appreciate the ordeal and the difficulties that confront an honorable member when making his maiden speech in this honorable House. The maiden speeches delivered so far have contributed much to the high standard of debate that, we have witnessed during this AddressinReply debate.
There are one or two things that 1 desire to mention briefly when speaking in this debate. First, I should like to refer to a matter that has been causing us a great deal of concern over the last few years. It relates to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. I emphasize that, when speaking of this department, I am not unmindful of the difficulties confronting it at the moment. I am not unmindful of such difficulties as those relating to labour and materials as well as to the increasing number of people in the Commonwealth who are applying for telephones. Some time ago I made the suggestion in this chamber that we might get an expert from, the United States of America to come here and give advice to the Postmaster General’s Department in connexion with the telephone situation in this country. I still feel that something along those lines will have to he done, because it appears to me that the position with relation to telephones in Australia is deteriorating. Personally, 1 have not been satisfied with some of the replies I have received from the department relating to the installation of telephones in parts of my electorate. For iii stance, at a place called Pampoolah, the people have been waiting for eighteen months for a decision from the department with relation to telephones, and I think everyone will admit that eighteen months is a little bit over the odds when people are concerned who live in an area subject to such hazards as floods.
In those circumstances, I feel that there is need for an overhaul within this department and I suggest to the Minister who has recently taken over that portfolio, that he should give serious consideration to making a thorough examination of the department and its future works programme. Another subject is defence, and certainly Australia needs to be prepared for any emergency. I have been disturbed by some remarks recently made by people who should be in a position to know what they are talking about when they refer to the defence preparations of Australia. Some time ago, in this House, I suggested - and I notice that publicity has been given to suggestions along the same lines by other people - that a certain proportion of the money set aside for defence should be spent on road maintenance. In this age of air transport, troops and supplies will be carried mainly by air, but the need still remains for good roads and for those roads to be maintained as a vital factor in defence.
Reference is made in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to the Constitution. During the four years that I have had the privilege of being a member of this House, I have heard the suggestion made that a committee be appointed to study the Consitution. Although that suggestion has been made on a number of occasions, no action appears to have been taken. The time has come when something definite should be done. This Par liament has been faced with various problems arising from the Constitution, particularly in regard to the relations of thisHouse with the Senate, and the sooner these matters can be dealt with the better it will be.
During this debate it has been refreshing to hear criticism from the Government side of the House. This has shown that the Commonwealth Parliament isalive. Honorable members come into thisHouse with a loyalty to their party, but they have a loyalty also to their electorate and a further loyalty to themselves. If his loyalty to himself over-rides hisloyalty to his party, an honorable member should have the courage to place first things first. I have been pleased to hear remarks from honorable members on theGovernment side concerning the rights of private members and the degree to which they should exercise their right to express their convictions.
The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) made some remarks of considerable weight about the arbitration system. He pointed out the need for a streamlining of the arbitration system in Australia, and no one would deny that that is necessary. As nearly as I can recall, the honorable member said, “ Here
Ave have a national problem which should be solved in the national interest, at the national level “. Those words are certainly true, and I suggest to the honorable member for Bendigo that he try to instil the same thought into his colleagues, who, over a considerable period, have not tried to place the problem of arbitration on a national level. They have tried, I am afraid, to gain every possible political advantage from the situation. In many cases, they have stirred up troubles which certainly are opposed to the national interest.
Reverting to the subject of defence, His Excellency said -
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 national 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.
Further on, His Excellency said -
The truth is that the decline in our overseas balances is primarily the result of inflation at home. Private incomes and total purchasing power are at 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.
My colleague, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) in the course of his speech, said -
We must be very careful not to adopt too many short-term policies.
The honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) said -
As I said at the outset, defence is related to economic stability. The strength of our economy is the measure of our security.
As the representative of a mainly primary producing electorate, I am convinced that there is need for a national outlook on primary production. Honorable members possibly will recall that on many occasions I have said that the economic stability of Australia is dependent upon the primary producer. The truth of that statement has been made apparent during the last few years - indeed, during the last few months - by the fact that Australia has an adverse trade balance because our export income is not as high as it should be. It has been said many times that the Australian Country party is a sectional party, but that is one of the greatest falsehoods that has ever been uttered. Members of the Australian Country party realize that the future stability of the economy of this country depends mainly on the primary producer. Australia has made remarkable advances in secondary industries, but the fact remains that, if primary production drops, the economic stability of the country suffers. This problem will have to be faced from a national viewpoint.
Earlier I said that roads must be maintained in a better condition than they are now. I believe, as I think I said three years ago, that transport throughout Australia will have to come under the control of the Commonwealth Parliament. It is ridiculous, in a country of this size, that there should be six different systems of transport, each subject to its own rules and regulations. We saw the dangers and difficulties that that state of affairs presented during the last war. In my electorate, within the past ten days, three floods have occurred.
– There have been four in Maranoa.
– My colleague’s constituency has fared worse than mine. We certainly do not want to break that record. These floods have caused great losses of production. When government help has been sought, an argument has arisen between the States and the Commonwealth because the States - I say this advisedly - have tried to shirk their responsibility to the unfortunate people in the country by leaving them to work out their own salvation. These people have, literally, by the sweat of their brows, and in the face of floods, droughts, and other difficulties, made their contribution towards Australia’s economic stability. Unless we adopt an Australian viewpoint - the Labour Government of New South Wales, in particular, must accept its share of the responsibility - towards such matters as irrigation and flood mitigation, and not try to make political capital out of the situation, primary production will continue to suffer.
We have heard of the possibility of an increase of interest rates. That would be one of the worst things that have ever happened in the history of this country. The man who really needs money and who is trying to make some contribution to the economy will be penalized. The man on the land, and young people who are building their homes will have to suffer but big business will not. Let us be honest and admit that big business has not made the contribution that it should have made towards stabilizing the economy. In 1951 when the “ horror “ budget, as it was called, was introduced - you will remember, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, that I was not in the Parliament at that time - the severest critic of the Government was big business. In this House, T have critized members of the Australian Labour party and the Labour unions for not playing their part. It must be admitted that in many eases they have notplayed their part in helping to stabilize the economy. But let us also be honest and say that big business has not played its part either. When we are asking Labour men and the unions to do their part, let us also ask the big man to play his part. The big man will not suffer if the interest rate is increased, because he will add the increase to the cost of the goods that he produces. As I have already stated, the man on the land will bc hit once more. He will have to pay, not only a higher interest rate on his overdraft for the development of his farm, but also a greater price for the various implements that he must purchase. One of the main reasons - we might say the only reason - why we are experiencing difficulty on overseas markets is not that the quality of our products is down but that the cost of production is up. I say quite candidly that the Government should not consider an increase of the interest rates.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is to be congratulated for having conferred with representatives of various groups and industries in an effort to solve our economic problems, but I think we can go too far in that direction, and that to seek the advice of this, that and the other man will only confuse the issue. Every such person is linked with a particular group, and possibly he would give advice to the best advantage of the group that he represents. Surely in the Cabinet there are men with sufficient brains to give a lead in overcoming these difficulties. The Minister for Primary Production (Mr. McMahon) has a great knowledge of economics. Surely with such men in the Cabinet, the Parliament should be able to find a solution of our economic problems and difficulties. We have been elected to the Parliament to govern. Let us govern, and let us show that we have great faith in this country. If we show the people that we believe in the future, of this country, surely, if I know anything about Australian manhood and womanhood, the people will follow us and we shall overcome our difficulties, which are only temporary.
One matter about which 1 feel very strongly, and which is linked with the stability of the economy, is the handing back to the States of taxing powers. T am becoming tired of going around the country and hearing people say, “ Well, you do not give the States sufficient money”. Any one with any knowledge at all knows that, if a person has no responsibility for the raising of finance, he does not exercise any care in spending it. My colleague, the honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) cited the case of a young man trying to raise and provide for a family. We know that, when children are given pocket money, they have no appreciation of its value because they have not to earn it. We ha ‘n almost reached that position with the States. Every time the Australian Government has lifted a particular tax, the States have stepped in and increased that tax. I advocate giving back to the States their taxing powers, and making them responsible for the money that they spend. If they were to have that responsibility, I would entertain the hope - and one must have hope, even if he dies in despair - that there would be greater cooperation between the Commonwealth and the States in relation to those matters that are necessary for the development of this country.
– The income taxing power has been offered to the States, but they will not accept it.
– As my colleague, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) has stated, it has been offer-jd to them. But we should not only offer it to them, we should give it back to them. T now refer to a matter that has been mentioned by the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm). He stated that we should admit a restricted quota of Asians. There are many matters on which I agree with my colleague, but I am afraid I cannot agree with him on this matter. We fully appreciate that there is a rising feeling of nationalism in Asia, but Australia, because of its geographical position and its status in the international field, must remain - and this may sound hard - true to the immigration policy that it has always followed. If that policy is reversed, we will be making a grave mistake. That policy has been adopted, not because we feel that we are better than the Asian people, and not because we feel that we have greater intellectual or physical attributes, but because we believe that such a policy is necessary for the safety and security of Australia. It ha3 been stated in this House that at the present time we are engaged in a struggle for the minds of men. If that is so, 1 have no doubt about the future of this country. If we remain true to those things that have been handed down to us from past generations, and if we show faith in the future and confidence in thu development of Australia, I believe that we will go forward to the great future that lies ahead of us. But we, as legislators, must display to the people such confidence in the future that they will be encouraged to follow the lead that we give.
– The Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral which was delivered to the Parliament a few weeks ago, and which is set out in a three-leaf document, gave an account of the stewardship of the Government and set forth what is in store for the people of Australia. Every member of the Opposition is disappointed with the contents of His Excellency’s Speech. Strange to say, even a tory member of this House has expressed similar disappointment. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), whose Government has just been returned with a majority of twenty, i3 going round the country trying to get a panel of business people to tell him what to do in this Parliament, it makes one think at least that the people of Australia made a very bad blunder in re-electing the Government. Surely, the Prime Minister and his Government should be able to deal with these matters. He has, in effect, chosen two cabinets. Surely, they can work out the destiny of Australia for the next three years. If John Curtin, when he was Prime Minister, had run round the country trying to get half a dozen businessmen to tell his Government how to win the war, what would the people of Australia have thought? If Ben Chifley had done the same thing at a later stage, what would the people have thought? Until such time as the Labour party controls the destiny of Australia the people of this country will be sadly dinappointed.
In West Sydney we may not grow any wheat, wool, lamb or anything of that nature; but it would be useless for the country squatters to be growing wheat or wool, or producing butter if there were not people in the cities to consume such commodities. Therefore, I make no apology for speaking on behalf of th<> 60,000 or 70.000 people in West Sydney whose interests have been sadly neglected in the programme outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech. The Speech deals with immigration, social services, the building of homes for the aged and with many other things. But I should like to deal with the housing position, the neglect of which is the greatest farce of all time so far as the national government of the country is concerned. We have » War Service Homes Division. Men who were asked to go to war to defend our homes were promised that on their return they would at least be given the chance to own a home, or at least the opportunity to obtain a home even on a rental basis. They were promised a home in which to rear their families. But what do we find’; During the last six years this country ha> experienced unprecedented prosperity. We have been wondering what the wool barons have been doing with the money they have been making. The wheatgrowers and other producers have been prospering. Yet we are now told that during the next few years we shall experience one of the worst periods of our history.
I have received dozens of letters from ex-servicemen who have applied for advances to build their homes. They were told by the Government to go ahead and acquire their land, and that if they paid a deposit on a home they would be entitled to £2,750. However, nine months ago, the waiting period was six months. The new Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) is a Scotsman. Probably, for that reason he was selected for the job to tell ex-servicemen that they would not get very much during the next couple of years. They are being told now that they must wait eighteen months or two years before the advances promised to them will be made available. My grievance against the Government is that, at the same time, ex-servicemen have been told that, if they go to an insurance company, or a private bank, and borrow the money they require, the Government, in eighteen months’ time, will redeem such loans. Is that all that the Federal Government can do to carry out the promises which it made to these Australians when they left our shores to fight for this country? Surely, it should provide more money to build homes for ex-servicemen. A total amount of only £30,000,000 has been allocated to provide war service homes for the men and women who fought for this country and also for those who, in many cases, were not allowed to go to the war but were man-powered in industry. During the last two or three years the Federal Government has provided only the sum of something like £12,000,000 for the provision of housing in New South Wales. At the same time, it is spending £200,000,000 a year on defence preparations. Although we are at peace, nobody ‘will say that Australia should not spend, that amount on defence. However, at a time like this, when immigration is at its peak, the men and women who fought for this country are at least entitled to a home’ in which to live. I am disappointed, after six years in this House, to think that this is the end of the road so far as housing is concerned; and that the Government cannot carry on without the advice of outsiders. Those outsiders are business people only; there is no workers’ representative, or consumers’ representative on the Government’s advisory panel.
I turn now to the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. Irrespective of the wording of the proposed revised agreement, it will be very similar to the existing agreement. In the past, £12,000,000 has been allocated to the State of New South Wales. The honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) said that the New South Wales Government was responsible for the housing position in that State, but when we consider the amount of taxation that is collected by the Commonwealth Government in New South Wales and also the fact that this Government levies income tax at the rate of 15s. in the £1, we cannot condemn the New South Wales Government for not having sufficient money for housing pro grammes. The following extract from a recent press report reveals the housing position in New South Wales to-day : -
While thousands of Sydney families areawaiting emergency shelter, the Housing Commission building programme has been practically at a standstill for months because of lack of finance. By February the Commission has spent £12 million allocated by the Loan Council for 1954-5, and had stopped entering new contracts.
Meanwhile the home State’s homeless or inadequately housed families have continuedtheir pathetic trek to the Commission’s enquiry office, Macquarie Street, at the rate of hundreds each week. Because the emergency centres at Hargrave Park, Bradfield Park and Herne Bay are filled there is little chance of the Commission helping most of them for months.
There are 3,000 applicants for emergencyhousing and 30,000 awaiting Housing Commission homes. The Commission’s secretary (Mr. Bourke) to-day described the situation a* “ tragic “. “ We cannot hope to keep pace with the flood of applicants unless more money is made available “, he said.
The Minister for Housing (Mr. McGrath said to-day that housing remained the most vital internal problem confronting the nation. Inability to raise finance was one of the aggravating factors, particularly among people who were capable of helping themselves build homes. Lack of finance was also stopping1 those who wished to purchase homes already built. Ma-. McGrath said the Housing Commission had done its utmost within the limits of finance available. Future planning by the Commission was curtailed because it was not known how much money would be available next year.
That is the position in New South Wales. A total of 30,000 people are waiting for homes. In relation to immigration, the Australian Labour party, the Liberal party and the Australian Country party are unanimous. Immigration has been carried on by this Government as it was carried on by Labour. Whilst I am not against immigration, I am against bringing immigrants into this country while people are denied the right to have a home here before they come.
– Why did the honorable member come here?
– It is a pity that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) did not stay out of this House. The people would have been better off if he had not come here. The Government, six years ago, promised that when immigrants were brought to this country, homes would he imported to accommodate them. A. few hundred houses were imported, but that was stopped. Why should not that promise be kept? The immigrants are still coming, but the homes are not coming.
Another matter that I should like to bring before the House is the building of homes for aged people. The former Minister for Social Services, Mr. McMahon, provided for the current financial year £1,500,000 for the provision of accommodation for these people but the Government has put a tag on that amount, in orphanage or church organization, before it can obtain, say, £10,000, in order to build a home for aged persons, has to collect £10,000. That is wrong. If the Government intends to do something for organizations that wish to help the pioneers who made it possible for honorable members opposite to sit back in comfort, it should give this money to approved bodies. The policy of holding back funds until an organization is able to match the Commonwealth’s contribution on a £1 for £1 basis is entirely wrong. These aged people have no earthly chance of getting into a home.
There is no mention in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech of the pensioners in receipt of £4 a week towards whom the Government will act in the next three years as it has acted during the last three years. In one year, the pensioners received a rise of 2s. 6d. a week. In the next year, the pension was not altered. In the following year, which was an election year, the pension was increased by 10s. a week. That is the way in which this Government has acted in regard to pensions. I predict that over the next two years until the election year arrives, the Government will give little thought to these people.
I now direct attention to a transport anomaly affecting Lord Howe Island. This island, which is in my electorate, has a population of 200 residents, and is visited by 200 or 300 people every month. T took up the matter of shipping with the previous administration. It was stated that the shipping service did not pay, although freight rates were increased by 10 per cent. Lord Howe Island is seven miles long, and is situated about 380 miles from Sydney. In the Christmas period the shipping service to and from Lord Howe Island was suspended. At present, a flying-boat which I understand was used in the first world war goes there. Many people have refused to travel in it. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Townley) stated the other day that although the flying-boat was very old, parts could still be found for it. In order to travel to Lord Howe Island, it is necessary for passengers to leave at two o’clock in the morning from Double Bay, and they arrive at Lord Howe Island about three hours later. This schedule is necessary because there is no other means of transport. I have appealed to the Government to construct a landing strip for aeroplanes. There is plenty of landing room, but the Government has not seen its way clear to do this work. The Government has a beacon light and a radar station on the island, and some twelve or fifteen employees are stationed there all the time. Why does not the Government arrange for better transport to this island? I have pressed the matter, and the State Government would be willing to assist in this project if the Commonwealth authorities would do something about it. Shipping has been cut off from the island, and the residents have been refused an air strip. The Government has left them to their own resources. For the last six years the Government has tried to sell every asset of the Australian people. Are the residents of the island to be left to starve ?
These people used to vote for the Liberal party, but at the last general election they changed their minds and voted Labour. I hope and trust that something will be done for them in the very near future.
I come now to the telephone system. About 6 acres of my electorate have been taken for a television station, which, I believe, is to cost about £2,500,000. One man in my electorate applied for a telephone eleven years ago. The PostmasterGenerals’ Department writes to him every year, and asks him whether he still wants the service, and he writes back and tells it that he does. He came to me the other day, and I said, “ This writing has got out of hand. It has not produced much result. I think I had better ring the department “. When I rang the department, I was given the excuse that there was no service near the place. In point of fact, it is in the midst of factories and two-up schools. Yet this man had no chance of getting a telephone. His application has been outstanding for eleven years. But it is not that particular man that I am so concerned about. Approximately 600 other people in my electorate are waiting for telephones. I make it a point to write to the department every twelve months, and renew the applications on their behalf. I have hundreds of constituents who have no hope of getting a telephone. Many of them are exservicemen and people with important businesses in the city.
The Government is a blister on the people. I am sorry that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has not taken a man’s part, stood up to his obligations, and got on with the business. I ask again a question that I have asked before: If the Prime Minister and his Government, with such a large majority, cannot govern this country in time of peace, what would happen if that Government were charged with the responsibility of conducting a war? Many matters urgently require attention, yet there is no chance of getting anything done. The people who are living on the sheep’s back complain if the price of wool falls a little. There are more complaints if the price of wheat falls a little. But it is the people in electorates such as that of West Sydney who are suffering at the hands of this Government. Thanks to the good judgment of the people of New South Wales, the Cahill Government was re-elected last Saturday with a majority of four or five seats. The newspapers are still telling us that the contest will result in a dead heat, but I can tell the House to-night that the Labour Government will be returned in New South Wales with a majority of four or five seats, and that that Government will not surrender, as the Menzies Government has surrendered, to big business and private interests.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haworth) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.31 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated : -
Australian Prisoners of War.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
son asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Has a decision been arrived at yet concerning the request from the State Government of Western Australia for a fl-for-fl subsidy to enable the Wittenoom Gorge blue asbestos industry to continue in production?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
A request that the Commonwealth Government join with the Western Australian Governnent, in subsidizing the blue asbestos industry at Wittenoom Gorge was received from the Premier of Western Australia last October. For various reasons it has not yet been possible to roach a decision on the matter. It is hoped tha t finality will be received shortly whereupon the Commonwealth’s decision will be conveyed to the Premier.
Royal AUSTRALIAN Navy.
D asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The following answers have been supplied by the Minister for the Navy: -
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has furnished the following replies : -
z asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
r asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following replies: -
e asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
z asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Is it anticipated that eventually all Australian requirements will bo fulfilled by locally manufactured units?
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 March 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1956/19560306_reps_22_hor9/>.