22nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. C. F. Adermann) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister for Trade aware that the Associated Steamship Owners Association has announced a further increase of 4 per cent, in interstate shipping freights? Will the Minister say whether the proposed increase ha3 the approval of the Australian Shipping Board ‘( Will he further state whether, in view of the profits accumulated in the last financial year hy the Commonwealth line of steamers, action will be taken to ensure that the increase will not he applied to ships of that line? Finally, will the Minister have a report prepared by the Australian Shipping Board on the proposed increase, so that members of the Parliament may have an opportunity to discuss the matter with the background of a full knowledge of the facts ?
– Whatever concern the Government has with the matter raised by the honorable member fall3 within the administrative jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, and I suggest that the honorable gentleman address his question to him.
– I address to the Minister for Health a question further to my previous representations regarding the provision of a thoracic block at St. Vincent’s Hospital, in Sydney, in order to assist in the national campaign for the treatment and eradication of tuberculosis. Will the Minister advise me whether provision of this block is contemplated, and, if so, what stage has been reached in the negotiations with the New South Wales Government, under the tuberculosis agreement, to establish this thoracic block?
– The provision of this thoracic block is part of the arrangements made with New South
Wales under the tuberculosis agreement. The New South Wales Minister for Health has now been advised that tenders should be called for the erection of this hospital unit. As this matter comes within the provisions of the tuberculosis agreement, the cost of both the construction and the maintenance of the block will be borne by the Commonwealth.
– The question that I direct to the Minister for Labour has relation to the . proposed legislation to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Following my suggestion recently, has the Minister taken any steps to discuss the proposed alterations to the legislation with the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Ccuciliation and Arbitration, any of the judges of the court, the Chief Conciliation Commissioner, or any of the conciliation commissioners? If he has not yet done so, is he prepared to do so, because, after all, these are gentlemen expert in the administration of a difficult and complicated act? Secondly, is it not a fact that although the proposed amending legislation arises from the High Court’s decision that it is not competent for the Arbitration Court to impose penalties, the Government proposes to appeal to the Privy Council against that decision? Thirdly, when considering these matters with the judges or the other persons whom I have mentioned, will the Minister try to ascertain whether they agree that the industrial disruption and interruption of services in Australia have been due not so much to the magnitude of the penalties that have been imposed as to the fact that they have been imposed under an act in which penalties should be reduced to the very minimum?
– The Leader of the Opposition has asked three questions, and I shall answer them as best I can. In relation to the question about whether I personally have had any consultation with the Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court or with the Chief Conciliation Commissioner, the answer is that I have not. Apart from departmental discussions, my discussions have been with various representatives of the trade union movement and of industry and, in particular, with the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council. My colleague, the Attorney-General, who actually administers arrangements with arbitration judges, has been a party to Cabinet discussions and to supplementary discussions that I have had with the Prime Minister. I shall confer with the Attorney-General to ascertain to what degree he has found it desirable to have discussions with the judges of the court or with the conciliation commissioners. The second question relates to the proposed appeal to the Privy Council. It is a fact that the Government contemplates appealing to the Privy Council against the decision of the High Court of Australia in the Boilermakers’ case, but it is not doing so with a view to reverting to the situation that existed before the High Court delivered its judgment. In any event, during this session the Government would have been introducing legislation in relation to the arbitration system. Indeed, it will be recalled that the Prime Minister, in his last policy speech, gave an undertaking that the Government would make a comprehensive review of the system. The decision of the High Court in the Boilermakers’ case will affect, to some degree, the content of the legislation that the Government pronoses to introduce, but the main purpose of the appeal is to clarify the powers of the Parliament and of the Government in relation, not only to arbitration matters but also, as the Leader of the Opposition will be well aware, in view of his legal knowledge and experience, important matters that arise in other fields of Commonwealth administration. The right honorable gentleman has also raised the question whether the real objection to penalties and sanctions is not in relation to which tribunal shall administer them, but to the fact that penalties and sanctions are provided to more than a minimum degree. As far as 1. am aware, no other government in Australia, irrespective of its political colour, administers a system of conciliation and arbitration without accompanying enforcement powers to back up the decisions of the tribunals. What repre sents a desirable minimum in this respect is a subject for argument, and no doubt the matter can be ventilated when the legislation is before the Parliament. The Leader of the Opposition, when he was Attorney-General, found it necessary, when introducing similar legislation, to make provision for enforcement powers to support the authority of the tribunal in question.
– My question, which i3 addressed to the Minister for Social Services, concerns the proposed extensions to the Mount Wilga rehabilitation centre near Hornsby, New South Wales. By’ way of explanation, I should like to say that, with the Minister’s .predecessor, I had an opportunity to inspect the site of the proposed extensions and see the plans. I know that, owing to the purchase in recent years of a residence at Wahroonga, female in-patients are being taken already by that establishment. When will the proposed extensions at Mount Wilga be completed? When they have been completed, will all the activities at present being carried on at Jervis Bay be transferred to Mount Wilga? Can the honorable gentleman give me any information about any extra training that will be carried out at Mount Wilga as a result of the new extensions ? In future, will the Department of Social Services be able to accept male inpatients at Mount Wilga, instead of only out-patients, as at present?
– I regret that I cannot give the honorable member for Robertson - with the adjectival “ s “ included - a detailed answer to his questions, but I am very happy to be in a position to say that no fewer than 1,200 people are receiving rehabilitation treatment under the Commonwealth scheme and that, to date, no fewer than 8,200 people have been returned to industry under the scheme. Currently, 100 incapacitated people are restored to the work force each month. At the moment, there are two chief rehabilitation centres in New South Wales - one at Jervis Bay, which is residental and temporary, and another at Mount Wilga, which is used for the treatment of out-patients. I am happy to be able to inform the honorable member for
Robertson that contracts have been let for the construction of a rehabilitation centre at Mount Wilga for residential purposes. Speaking from memory, I think that the value of the contracts approximates £200,000. It is anticipated that construction will commence immediately and will be completed in the course of the next few months. The centre will be completely staffed and the rehabilitation services will bc extended to include the usual medical services, educational services and tradetraining covering the entire field of industrial endeavour.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Social Services a question regarding money paid to religious institutions and charitable bodies as a subsidy «ri buildings erected for the care of aged and infirm people. It has been the practice of the various Ministers for Social Services in this Government to nominate a member of this House or a senator of the Liberal, party or the Australian Country party to hand over such public money nr. appropriate functions. As far as I know, never has a member of the Opposition been requested, even when the function has been held in his own electorate, to represent the Minister when the money has been handed over, although it is public money. Will the Minister, instead of making these events party-political affairs, give to members of the Opposition the same consideration as is given to members of the Government parties when public moneys are handed over to religious and charitable bodies?
– The honorable member’s question is based on a false premise. The position is that when an application is made for a grant under the Homes for the Aged Act, if the applicant qualifies for a grant and a grant is agreed to, the responsibility rests with the Minister for Social Services, whoever he may be from time to time, to make the presentation of the cheque covering the grant. Since it is physically impossible for the Minister for Social Services, whoever he may be, to attend all such functions that are held throughout the Commonwealth from time to time, he must appoint some one to represent him at those functions. That was done by my predecessor, and it has been done by me. Frequently, the cheques are posted in the usual way, but sometimes the organizations involved wish to hold functions on these important occasions, and it is necessary for the Minister, when he cannot attend personally, to send some competent personto represent him.
– Has the Minister for Supply seen a statement concerning the accident that occurred recently at Woomera, which suggested that one of those injured was an officer of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories and that he might have been at Woomera in connexion with the assembly of bacterial weapons? Is there any truth in this report, and can the Minister explain why this officer was at Woomera when the accident occurred?
– I saw some such report in the Tribune, a Communist newspaper. It is quite a lying and disreputable report, needless to say. Its disreputability can be gauged by the fact that it was written by a man named Chiplin. The facts are that one of the men who was injured in the accident at Woomera was a Dr. Graydon, of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. The innuendo in the disgraceful article in the Tribune was that he was or may have been there in connexion with bacterial weapons. Of course he was there for no such purpose at all. In any event, Australia does not deal in bacterial weapons. Dr. Graydon v’a.3 sent to Woomera by the Public Service Board as a member of an interdepartmental committee investigating the working conditions of scientific workers. That was the only reason for his being at Woomera. He has some experience of the working conditions of scientific workers in his own field, and he was chosen by the Public Service Board because of that experience. By chance he happened to be in the place where the accident occurred, and he was, unfortunately, injured. I am glad to say that he is recovering.
– Will the Treasurer consider granting exemption from the increased taxes provided for in the little budget recently introduced by the Prime Minister to all those people in areas north of the 26th parallel who at present are subject to these imposts? I refer particularly to the increased taxes on petrol, beer and tobacco.
– I am sorry to have to reply to the honorable member in the negative.
– I direct *a question to the Minister for Primary Industry relating to a statement that the Minister made some time ago, to the effect that the Government had approved of the manufacture of an air-blast sprayer machine for use in combating pests and diseases in vineyards. Finance for the manufacture of the prototype appliance was to be provided by the Australian Government. Is the Minister able to tell us what progress has been made in the manufacture of this prototype machine? When does he expect it to be completed, and has he any plans as to where it should first be demonstrated ?
– The Commonwealth has approved of funds being allocated for the construction of an airblast sprayer, I think for spraying orchards and for other field work. If my memory holds good, I think the chassis and the container have already been completed and, in the next week or so, the air-blast sprayer itself will be fitted. It will probably be completed and ready for field tests by the end of May. It is intended that comprehensive field tests will then be made. I am not quite certain where they will be made, but I shall find out and shall let the honorable gentleman know. It is expected that some months will then elapse before the results of the field .tests can be properly assessed and before it can be decided whether it would be wise to put the sprayer into large-scale production. I am aware of the honorable member’s great interest in this matter, and of the interest of fruit-growers particularly. I shall ascertain the facts specifically, and shall give the honorable gentleman a more comprehensive written reply.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Customs and Excise a question. In a communication dated the 5th April last, the Minister undertook tomake a statement in the House the following week regarding allegations concerning trafficking in liquor obtained through diplomatic sources. I now ask the Minister when he proposes to honourthat undertaking.
– The honorable member for East Sydney is wrong when hesays that I undertook to make a statement in the House. I told him that I would be prepared to give him an answer in the House shortly after the 5th April, and I have been prepared to give him an answer since then. In a debate on the motion for the adjournment of theHouse some time in February, the- honorable member repeated allegations that liquor imported duty-free for a foreign embassy had been sold in Sydney by an individual for his own gain. As thoseallegations could possibly have concerned the administration of my department, 1 said that I would look into the matter, and I have done so. I find that thecharges are old stuff which has been very fully dealt with before.
– No, they have not. They have never been answered.
– The honorable member had a long correspondence with my predecessor, Senator O’Sullivan. Incidentally, Senator O’Sullivan, in oneletter, invited the honorable member to submit to him any information he had concerning these charges.
– I did so in this House.
– That offer waa completely ignored.
– That is not true.
– On the 8th June of last year, in a debate on the same subjectmatter in this House, the Prime Minister informed the House that he had had thehonorable member’s allegations completely investigated by the Commonwealth law authorities.
– That is not true.
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney has asked a question, and, if he wishes to receive an answer, he must remain silent.
– The Prime Minister told the honorable member, in the course of the debate on the 8th June, that he had had the matter fully investigated by the Commonwealth law authorities, who had reported that the investigation did not disclose any offence under the law. The constant attempts of the honorable member for East Sydney to undermine the Australian security service are very well known in this House. These allegations are part and parcel of another such attempt on his part.
– Just another smear.
– Order !
– I do not regard it as any part of my duty or my functions to assist the honorable member to undermine the status of an important and reputable Australian body.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that representatives of certain Queensland unions and of graziers’ associations are now meeting in Queensland to discuss the shearers’ strike? If so, can the Minister say whether the Government is represented at the conference in order to urge upon all parties the need for an early settlement within the framework of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration?
– I do not claim to be fully informed on the matter to which the honorable gentleman refers, or on that aspect of the conference which lie mentions, although I have some information which I shall convey to him. My understanding is that these talks were initiated by the Queensland Trades and Labour Council. In reply to the honorable member’s question whether the Australian Government is represented at the conference, I should point out to him that the dispute in Queensland arose out of a decision of the Industrial Court of that State which reduced the rates paid to shearers. The Commonwealth Government, therefore, is not directly concerned in the Queensland .dispute, although we would be concerned in relation to the award of our own Conciliation Commissioner, Mr. Donovan, which relates to areas outside Queensland. But my understanding is that, on Thursday, a meeting will take place under an independent chairman, Mr. Hanson, I believe, the secretary of the Operative Painters and Decorators Union and an executive member of the Queensland Trades and Labour Council. That meeting will be attended by representatives of the Australian Workers Union and of the graziers’ association. As to the comment made hy the honorable gentleman about our encouraging a settlement, I can assure him that we have been keeping in close touch with this dispute because we recognize the tremendous importance to the Australian economy as a whole of the satisfactory conduct of shearing operations, not only in Queensland, but throughout the rest of the Commonwealth. I certainly hope, with him, that it will be found possible to come to a solution of this matter within the framework of the arbitration system.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is correct that all ordinary shares in .General Motors-Holden’s Limited are held outside of Australia, in fact, by people in the United States of America. Does the Government regard the profit earned by this company over the last two years as excessive? Is it not correct that the payment of such a large sum of money adversely affects Australia’s overseas balances, particularly dollar payments? Does the Treasurer consider it a good thing that such an amount of money as was earned by this company in its last twelve months of trading should leave this country? Finally, is it not correct that, due to profits that were earned hy this company in the United States last year, the American Congress has set up a committee of inquiry in order to ascertain whether its profits, as revealed, were excessive ?
– I anticipated such a question, obviously. The honorable member asked whether the Government considered, or whether I, as the responsible Minister of the
Government, considered the recently disclosed profits of General MotorsHolden’s Limited to be exorbitant. I draw his attention to the policy speech of his leader, in which the promise was made to reinstitute the 40 per cent, initial depreciation allowance, in which circumstances General Motors-Holden’s Limited would have received last year an additional £1,900,000 by way of increased profit and tax advantage. Consequently, nobody on the other side of the chamber, surely, under these circumstances, can complain because this company, by virtue of the Government’s policy, is receiving £1,900,000 less profit than it would have received had the party opposite been on the treasury bench of this Parliament. In regard to the general profit-earning structure of the company, this Government believes in private enterprise, and in the encouragement of private enterprise, provided, of course, that private enterprise complies with all the laws of the country - with the industrial laws, the fiscal policy, the monetary policy and the general taxation policy. We have yet to learn that General Motors-Holden’s Limited has violated any of these conditions. Profitable companies are very desirable to Australia, particularly those that foster the influx into or the investment of foreign capital in Australia. The next matter, about which some people are misinformed, is the alleged effect on the balance of payments position, of the remittance of dividends earned by this company to shareholders in the United States of America. I remind the House of this fact. There has been criticism that the dollar remittances have been of such a magnitude as to be disadvantageous to our balance of payments position, and our dollar position particularly. I direct attention to the fact that while the remittance of dollars, in the form of dividends, was approximately 10,000,000 dollars in respect of last year’s profits, this company has saved Australia from importing at least 62,000 vehicles to meet the demand of the Australian motor industry, which imports would have necessitated a very large drain indeed on available dollars and so worsened our balance of payments position. So it is therefore reasonable to set off the disadvantage that has accrued from the transfer of 10,000,000 dollars to the
United States against the drain on dollars which would has resulted from the import of 62,000 motor vehicles which, I. repeat, were necessary to the motor industry. Obviously the balance of payments position of Australia has been very beneficially effected as a result of this company’s activities.. I should like to point out also that the company is already earning appreciable amounts of oversea exchange for Australia by the export of vehicles to New Zealand, and hopes to expand its export market. Prom a balance of payments viewpoint, the value of these export earnings must be offset against the outflow on dividend payments.
– The Minister reads his reply very well.
– 1 can at least read it better than the honorable member would have been able to read it. Australia’s economy has benefited greatly from investment in Australia by largo, oversea organizations. The Government welcomes overseas investment that contributes in such a large degree to the development of the country’s resources, and hopes that this investment will still continue to flow to Australia. One sure way of discouraging such investment would be to place restrictions on the remittance of profits to the overseas corporations concerned, and the Government therefore believes that action of this kind could be contemplated only in circumstances of the direst emergency. The present Government does not stand alone in the adoption of this attitude. Ever since the introduction of exchange control in the early years of the war, it has been the policy of successive Australian governments, including the Government with which honorable members opposite were associated, to allow the free remittance of current net earnings, after payment of taxation, on oversea investment. This policy has reaped, and is continuing to reap, tremendous benefits in the development of the Australian economy.
– In view of the considerable contribution to food produc-tion that is being made in Europe and the United States of America, and could be made here, by what is known as “ fish farming “, will the Minister for Primary
Industry consider some assistance to the States which would enable them to expand hatcheries, so that those persons who desired to purchase fish for stocking dams and rivers would be able to do so?
– My colleague, the Minister for Trade, introduced a bill into this House a few days ago to establish a trust fund to enable the conduct, of research in fisheries. I have not previously heard of the proposal made by the honorable member, but it does seem a very sensible one, and I shall ask the Director of Fisheries to investigate the matter quickly and let me have a reply so that I may pass it on to the honorable member.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer, but preface it by saying that on the 22nd February last I directed a question to him in respect of the delay in the paying of Commonwealth compensation to two employees who were injured while employed by the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool in Brisbane. The Treasurer, in his reply, pointed out that the employees mentioned came under the control of the Department of Shipping and Transport, and he therefore referred my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, from whom I received a reply stating that the delay in the payment of compensation claims could be substantially reduced if a local delegate of the Treasurer were stationed in Brisbane, and that he and the department had made the necessary recommendation to the Treasury for such appointment. I therefore ask the Treasurer whether any representations or recommendations have been made to his department respecting the appointment of a local delegate in Brisbane. If so, has the appointment been made? I ask this question in view of the long delays incurred in submitting all claims for employees’ compensation to Melbourne for determination by a delegate of the Commissioner for Employees’ Compensation.
– I will have the matter inquired into to see whether these matters can be dealt with expeditiously and the ground for complaint removed.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether the butter production of King Island for the nine months ended the 31st March exceeded the output for the previous twelve months. If so, what steps, if any, have been taken to expand the butter factory there in order to take care of this increase and protect the interests of war service settler suppliers ?
– The honorable member will be glad to know that this Government spent more than £2,000,000 on war service land settlement in the area to which he refers. About 80 farms are already in production and another 80 will come into production in the near future. It was realized that it would be useless to bring more dairy farms into production unless there were adequate facilities for the manufacture of butter, and as this matter came within the jurisdiction of the State Government, representations were made with a view to ensuring that sufficient funds would be made available to enable the factory at King Island to expand its activities. I am sure that the honorable member will be very glad to hear that in the last few days the Tasmanian Government has informed the Prime Minister that funds have been made available through one of the banks for the extension of butter factory facilities at King Island. I am not quite certain of the extent to which the capacity of the factory will be increased but it is hoped that it will be able to cater for the full output of the 80-odd dairy farms which are now in production, and also the output of those which will shortly come into production.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister for External Affairs concerning an application for extradition which concluded in a Sydney court the day after the House last sat. Does the right honorable gentleman now know and, if so, will he now admit, that in connexion with this application, his department sent to the Consul-General for Yugoslavia, between 1954 and this year, a’ series of two letters signed by senior officers, and three notes authenticated by its seal ? Does he know and will he admit that in these communications the department, successively, informed the Consul-General that Australia regarded itself as bound by the extradition treaty with Serbia, advised him what steps he should take in the present case, reassured him that the law officers of the Crown considered it a proper matter for extradition proceedings, and asked him to help the Commonwealth in finding the address of the man whose extradition was sought ? Does the Minister now share the Prime Minister’s doubt whether the application was made in good faith, and his belief that it might have been a pretext to obtain custody of an individual for political purposes? If so, will the Minister take steps to end the extradition treaty which at present binds us? In the meantime, will he personally deal with all applications for extradition and attempt in the future to avoid the waste of time, the abuse of court processes, the piling up of legal costs, the disquiet among new Australians and the injury to diplomatic relations which have occurred in this instance ?
– The honorable member may be entirely correct, for all I know, in recounting the correspondence that he alleges between the Department of External Affairs and the Yugoslavian ConsulateGeneral in Sydney, and I do not combat what he said. That may be perfectly true, but there is nothing at all sinister in that fact. When the department in the first place - I think, speaking from memory, about two years ago - received this application for extradition, it had no reason to assume at that stage that this was not just one of the very many applications for extradition that reach this country from one or other of the countries of the world with which we have extradition treaties. In other words, I think the department was quite within its rights in believing that this was extradition for a legitimate purpose, that this man was an alleged criminal, or whatever was stated in the application for extradition. It was only quite late in the day, in fact in the last month or two, that the Government became aware not only of the possibilities but of the extreme probability that this was not just an ordinary application for extradition but that it had a political motive behind it.
I see nothing wrong in what my department has done. The department could not necessarily assume the worst in the first place, but when it became aware of the political potential in this, then, as the honorable member, the House and the public know, we took action at once about it. I made statements in this House, my friend and colleague the Minister for Immigration also made statements, and the Prime Minister himself a day or so later made a generalized statement about the policy of the Government on the application of extradition treaties with iron curtain countries. So far as those treaties are concerned in general, a close investiga– tion - an analysis - is being made at this moment as between the Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of External Affairs. When that is completed, the Government will make up its mind as to what it should do in respect of these treaties in the future. The honorable member in the course of his questions asked me “ did I admit “. T not only admit but affirm that my department acted completely rightly in this case right from the beginning of this Rancic incident something like two years ago. There was confusion about the man’s name, because his name as stated in the “Yugoslavian application for extradition conflicted in some major way with the name by which this man is known in Australia. He goes under what I might call an Aus.tralianized version of his original Yugoslav name. There is nothing sinister in this at all. My department, the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, the Minister for Immigration and the Government as a whole have acted in a perfectly straightforward way in advancing Australia’s interests and particularly by reason of the statements that have been made in this House, in abolishing any fears or doubts that might legitimately find themselves in the minds of foreigners in this country, either naturalized or unnaturalized.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question without notice. In view of its importance at the present time, can the Minister say whether the assistance of experts of his department has been sought or given in the development of a shearing table known as the Borthwick shearing table that has been developed in Queensland at the present time and is said to enable an unskilled man to shear more than 100 sheep a day?
– The suggestion made by the honorable member that this would be a very valuable contribution to primary industries would be well recognized by me, but I think he will know that many applications for assistance under the Commonwealth extension grants come to the department and take some time to process. In other words, it is some time before they move through the department up to the Minister. To the best of my knowledge, the department has not referred to me any problem associated with the Borthwick table. As soon as I leave the House, I will ask whether any representations have been made, and advise the honorable member as soon as I can.
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether, in view of the disastrous effects that an increase of shipping freights would have on developmental activities in the Northern Territory, he will confer with his colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, with the object of preventing an announcement by the Australian Shipping Board of freight increases on its vessels operating to northern ports and other parts of Australia, similar to increases announced hy the owners of private shipping lines engaged in the Australian interstate shipping trade.
– As the honorable member indicates in his question, this is a matter primarily for my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, and, as suggested hy the honorable mem ber I shall discuss the matter with that Minister.
– I direct a question without notice to the Minister for Social Services. In view of the high cost of living, and the expense of bringing up children, will the Minister consider making a special monetary grant, over and above child endowment entitlements, to parents of large families? By way of explanation, I have in my constituency a man and his wife who have produced eighteen children in 24 years of pleasant married life. As a reward for such practical manifestations of good citizenship, will the Minister establish a procreative prize to be awarded to mothers of ten children and upwards, so that other Australians - including, I hope, members of this House - may be induced to emulate this worthy, patriotic, oldfashioned, happy example?
– From my personal observations there are great advantages in a large family, and from my personal experiences there are great advantages in being the member of a large family; but, whether or not those great advantages outweigh the economic disadvantages of the large family I am not in a position to say, nor do I believe that a reasonable calculation in that respect can be made. It is to be admitted that a case can be made out for additional social services benefits for the parents and children of large families ; but an equally strong case can be made out for additional social services benefits for people who have to suffer the desolation of childlessness. For example, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the honorable member for Angas himself is singularly fortunate in his family life; but the Minister for Primary Industry remains a bachelor. If good fortune should favour the honorable member for Angas and he, in the fullness of time, should sire eighteen children, and if it be reasonable that he should be then compensated for his good fortune, surely the Minister for Primary Industry also ought to be compensated for his desperate loneliness.
– Is the Treasurer in a position to give to the House any information about the Commonwealth Bank’s plans to restore public- confidence in the £5 note, which has been affected recently by the discovery that relatively large numbers of forged £5 notes are in circulation? In view of the mounting public concern, particularly in Victoria, over this matter, which is reflected in the refusal of traders and employees to accept £5 notes, will the Treasurer assure the public that everything possible is being done to correct the position?
– I have to report to the House, through the honorable gentleman, that the Criminal Investigation Branch of the Victorian Police Department, and the Commonwealth Investigation Service, are pursuing their inquiries into the forged £5 notes which recently appeared in Victoria, and that the Commonwealth Bank is actively co-operating with them, as are all the trading banks. A proposal that the Commonwealth Bank should reimburse innocent holders of forged £5 notes has been fully examined by all the authorities concerned, but it is considered that such action would be unwise; indeed, it would be likely to encourage and make easier the operations of present and future forgers. It is always a major problem for the forger to distribute his counterfeit notes, and if they were readily encashable this problem would be largely solved for him. Clearly, the beat v,?.y of overcoming present difficulties is to detect the forger, and any person who has information that might be helpful in this respect is urged to make that information available to the police authorities. I have to announce also that the Commonwealth Bank this afternoon decided to offer a reward of £1,000 for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons making or uttering the forgeries.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. As the next meeting of the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalization Committee Limited is to be held early this month, can the Minister make any pronouncement as yet in connexion with plans for the future handling of subsidy payments made by the industry at the meeting with himself and the Minister for Trade on the 16th March?
– I think the short answer to the question asked by the honorable gentleman is that I do not think so.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether, having regard to the deep-seated trouble and the unsatisfactory conditions which exist in the Preston migrant hostel, and which culminated in a demonstration against, the management last night, he will initiate an open inquiry first, to investigate the overcrowding and the bad conditions of meals which I have seen myself on inspection; and, secondly, whether he will likewise investigate the present administration and the management of the hostel so as to ensure that somedegree of value will be given to the immigrants for the money that they pay for the alleged services provided.
– Other than a press reference to this matter, which I have seen, the complaint now put forward by the honorable member is the first that has come to me in relation to it. I shall, however, as he requests, give my immediate attention to it, and investigate just what is involved. Whether I could then adopt the further suggestion he has made regarding an open inquiry is a. matter for consideration; but I shall investigate the circumstances and see what should be done.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral : What is the value in dollars allowed to each television operator in Australia for the purchase of films and similar material overseas, and what is the value of films and similar material already imported by television operators from the United States of America?
– I have to advise the honorable member I have not the exact figures in my mind to enable me to give him an answer off the cuff, but I shall obtain them and let him have them.
– Is the Minister for Defence Production in a position to assure me, and the House, that the most vigorous action is being taken to manufacture the new service rifle, -the F.N. -30”, at the Commonwealth Small Arms Factory at Lithgow? Will the
Minister make a statement giving details of the number and price of the new rifles being imported ? Further, will he give a definite assurance that private annexes working on cost-plus will not be given the work, which rightly belongs to the Commonwealth factory ? Finally, will the Minister make an early visit to Lithgow, have a thorough inspection of the Commonwealth Small Arms Factory, and discuss with those engaged in that defence establishment details in respect of the manufacture of the weapon?
– The Government is pushing ahead with all speed the manufacture of the F.N. -30” rifle. However, it has been confronted by certain problems, one of which relates to timing. So far, the sealed plans have not come to hand. The receipt of certain hand fabricated parts has given us an opportunity to assemble certain tools that will be used ultimately in the production of the rifle. As soon as we have obtained the sealed plans and are in a position to tool up fully, the honorable member can be assured that we will continue to push ahead with all possible speed. In relation to annexes, it is generally conceded that the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow will carry out all work that it is capable of doing. Although it may be faced with competition from outside annexes, it will remain in production as long as materials and labour are available. I shall certainly take advantage of the first opportunity after the end of this session to go to Lithgow. I have been there on a number of occasions, and I hope on this occasion to have the opportunity of meeting the honorable member for Macquarie.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service why certain employees of Commonwealth Hostels Limited are paid under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act when they receive an injury during the course of their employment and others are paid under the various State compensation acts. Will he consider recognizing all employees of Commonwealth Hostels Limited as being employees of the Commonwealth for the purpose of compensation?
– 1 can only hazard a guess in explaining this matter. The honorable member is probably aware that, formerly, employees of Commonwealth Hostels Limited were drawn from the Commonwealth Public Service, and I imagine that others transferred from the various State public services. It may be that former State public servants carried their State rights with them. I can only hazard that as a possible explanation. I shall examine the honorable member’s suggestion to ascertain whether it is practicable.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether he has under consideration at the present time any proposal for an increase of the annual allowance that is paid to elected members of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council. In considering such a proposal, will he bear in mind the several facts that active members of that body incur expenditure in carrying out their duties, that the present allowance of £100 has remained unchanged for many years, and that money values have changed considerably in that time?
– No such proposal is before the Department of the Interior at the present time. I should be delighted to hear from the other side of the House a proposal affecting the Department of the Interior which did not call for increased expenditure. However, knowing the interest of the honorable member in this matter and the splendid work that has been done by the Advisory Council, I shall have the suggestion examined.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harbison) agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be given to the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) owing to his absence from Australia.
– I have received from the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) an intimation that he desires to submit a definite matter of urgent public importance to the House for discussion, namely -
The serious wastage by the Queensland Government of public funds provided by the Commonwealth Parliament which results from the loss of materials connected with the importation of SSB French pre-fabricated homes, the increased rentals .payable toy tenants of Queensland Housing Commission homes resulting from this loss, and the failure of the Queensland Government to adequately explain the loss.
Is the proposal supported?
Eight honorable members having risen in support of the proposal,
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the following three very important matters are involved in the letter that you have read : - First, the serious wastage by the Queensland Government of public funds provided by the Commonwealth Parliament which results from the loss of materials connected with the importation of 886 French prefabricated homes; secondly, the increased rentals that are payable by tenants of Queensland Housing Commission homes as a result of this loss; and, thirdly, the failure of the Queensland Government adequately to explain the loss. This matter has been mentioned in the House on several occasions, particularly by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. “Wight) both in speeches during various debates and in questions that he has directed to the Minister representing ‘ the Minister for National Development. At the last redistribution of electoral divisions, a considerable number of the homes in question were placed in the Division of Petrie. Therefore, I believe that I now have a responsibility to bring this matter before the House.
I intend merely to attempt to draw the facts together and to give honorable members an opportunity to judge for themselves whether my opening statements are reasonably correct. I rely on three sources of information - a statutory declaration by a person who was very closely connected with this project, statements by the Queensland Minister for Housing, Mr. Hilton, and statements by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner).
Before I present some of the facts relating to these statements, I shall remind the House of two things. First, this was a contract related to the importation and erection of 886 French prefabricated or precut homes; and secondly, the Commonwealth was under an obligation to pay £300 towards the cost of each home erected. I want to deal with the statutory declaration and the information contained in it. I shall indicate some of the deficiencies in relation to these homes that are mentioned in the declaration.
There was a shortage of 56 house frames. They were supposedly shipped from France, but they never arrived at Zillmere or in the area where the homes were to be erected. Weatherboards for 12S homes did not arrive. Flooring for 186 homes did not arrive. Ridge capping for 286 homes did not arrive. Laundriesand porches for 136 homes did not arrive. Down-pipes, guttering and general zinc materials for no fewer than 636 homes did not arrive at the place where the homes were to he erected. There wen also substantial shortages of cement and paint. Further, much of the timber that was sent from France was affected by dry rot. To a very large degree, I am quoting from the statutory declaration. On the third and fourth boats - I think there were six boats that brought the material - more than a half of the house frames were affected in that way. At least 50 per cent, of the framing for the houses in section 2 of the contract - that is between Church-road and Muller-road - was affected. In relation to some of the timber so affected, Housing Commission inspectors asked for replacement, but in a fair number of houses the external and internal sheeting was covering the defective timber before further inspection.
I want to give a brief explanation of what happened in relation to ridge capping. Because insufficient ridge capping arrived, the contractor decided to make an experiment. He got some waste flat fibro, six inches to eight inches wide, and laid it at the top of the roof, near the ridge. Then he cut from waste corrugated fibro - which was the usual roofing material - one corrugation, and that corrugation became the ridge capping material for the flat fibro sheets. I am still referring to statements made in the statutory declaration. A Housing Commission inspector said that he would recommend that the Housing Commissioner, Mr. Galvin, should reject that method of capping. However, a week or so later, in a letter from Mr. Galvin, it was authorized officially for use in 80 homes. But instead of being used in SO homes, it was used in no fewer than 130. In April, 1952, about six months later, the Housing Commission discovered that it had made a mistake and asked for the removal of this material and its. replacement by proper ridge capping. The contractor, of course, produced the letter of authorization and refused to do so. Since then, the Housing Commission, with its own repair gang, has had to replace the whole of that ridge capping. I cannot give all the details in relation to paint, but it is sufficient for me to say that in 60 per cent, of the houses the interior walls were covered with two coats of emulsion water paint, instead of flat oil paint.
Let me turn from this statutory declaration, which I believe in itself condemns, the Queensland Government, to statements made by the Queensland Minister, Mr. Hilton. He has been challenged with some of these facts, but he has not answered many of the allegations. He has stated that the Auditor-General has given a certificate that 886 homes were shipped from France, but he has not presented to the Commonwealth a certificate by the Auditor-General that the 886 homes were actually erected. In point of fact, we know that the AuditorGeneral could not give such a certificate, because Mr. Hilton himself has made the further statement that 812 of the French homes at Zillmere were built of imported materials and that “ some local material “ was used for 74 homes. Therefore, we see why we have not got the AuditorGeneral’s certificate.
Mr. Hilton has said, further, that the Commonwealth authorized substitutions in relation to certain of the materials. I have given details of the materials which were lacking. If honorable members care to read an answer given by the Minister for National Development to a question Asked by the honorable member for Lilley, they will see that the substitutions approved by the Commonwealth were considerably less than were required to complete this project.
If we look at the statements made by the Minister for National Development, we shall find the meaning of the words “ some local material “. The Minister has said that the observation of Commonwealth officers who inspected a sample of these houses was that the quantity of local materials used in a number of them was substantial. On the 12 th April, in answer to a question by the honorable member for Lilley, the Minister stated -
In a letter dated the 27th February, 1050, from the Queensland Housing Commission, the f.o.b. price of the houses with freight and insurance had been paid by the Commission. Mr. Hilton, the Queensland Minister, endorsed this in a letter dated the 1.2th March, 1956.
That establishes that the total payment for 886 houses was made to the suppliers in France.
Perhaps I can apply these statements to the proposition that I put before the House in the first place. . I believe that every honorable member will agree with me that there has been substantial and serious wastage in relation to this contract. The wastage could amount to no less than £250,000. If we apply a figure of, say, £2,500 to the 56 homes in respect of which the frames did not arrive on the job, we get a total of £140,000. If we think in terms of replacing the ridge capping, flooring boards and weatherboards, as well as the laundries and porches that did not arrive on the job, I think most honorable members will agree with me that the total involved could be easily £250,000. Proof of the wastage comes, not only from the statements that I have made, but also from the mouth of the Minister himself.
Then I come to the second proposition. It may be said by the Queensland Government or by members of the Opposition here that the money involved was simply lent by the Commonwealth to the Queensland Government, and that if the Commonwealth gets it back again, we shall have nothing to squeal about. But is it the Queensland Government that really pays? Does not the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States provide that the value of each home, on which an economic rent is assessed, shall be calculated by dividing the total cost of the homes by the number of homes? In view of this wastage, at least £250,000 has been added to the figure on which the rent is determined. I suggest that the rent of each home is at least 8 per cent, to 12 per cent, higher than it should have been. Something in the vicinity of 6s. to 10s. a week extra rent is being charged to every person resident in these homes.
Sir -Arthur Fadden. - They do not repay the subsidy.
– As the Treasurer points out, they do not repay the subsidy. Now I come to my final point, the failure of the Queensland Government adequately to explain the loss. There has been no real or full explanation by the Queensland Government of the facts that I have presented to the House, and I cannot give the House all the facts in the quarter of an hour at ray disposal. However, all the facts are known by the Queensland Housing Commission. They are known by Mr. Galvin, and if they are not known by the Minister it is his own. fault, and his own responsibility. No inquiry of any kind has been held in relation to this matter. It is a public scandal. I believe that one is entitled to ask, for instance, what has happened to the 56 house frames. Were they thrown overboard from the ships that brought these materials to Australia? Were they stolen? Did some persons obtain these house frames in order to use them for the building of seaside homes? I believe that the public is entitled to make such a suggestion as that, when these materials ha ve disappeared and no inquiry into the matter has been held by the Government that is responsible for these homes. The circumstances strongly suggest the existence of the. elements of fraud against the Australian people, and J am quite certain that, in relation to the matter of the subsidy, a fraud has been perpetrated by the Queensland Government against the Australian Government. The act provides that the subsidy of £300 will be paid in relation to every home that is erected. The Queensland Government is claiming £300 for each house for which it made a payment to the French suppliers, the total number of houses being 886. Therefore, I say that it is quite definitely the intention of the Queensland Housing Commission, in making a claim of this nature, to perpetrate a fraud against the Australian Government.
We know that these houses were, in many cases, jerry-built. That is seen from the improvisation that has been necessary in connexion with the ridgecapping, and from the fact that some material was used that was affected with dry rot. We know that there has been considerable incompetence and inefficiency on the part of the Queensland Housing Commission and its inspectors in regard to these homes. If ever I have seen, during the six years that I have been in this Parliament, a matter that justified the appointment of a royal commission, then this is such a matter. A complete investigation of the allegations contained in the statutory declaration should be carried out. If a royal commission is appointed, this statutory declaration will be presented to it, as will all the other statements and other evidence that, are available through the Minister for National Development. All that material will be made available to the royal commission, if the Queensland Government has the courage to appoint one.
.- I am grateful to the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) for mentioning the matter of a royal commission. Unfortunately, I have only fifteen minutes in which to speak, and I should like to refer to the subject of royal commissions. Although this charge has been made by the honorable member for Petrie, it was originally voiced by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight), and it is strange that this matter was not submitted by him. It is amazing that the honorable member for Lilley, who was able to delve into these matters, and who initiated debate on them in this House on several occasions, did not take the opportunity to submit this matter for discussion as one of urgent public importance. Although the Zillmere area is in the electorate of the honorable member for Petrie, I submit that he knew nothing about this matter until he was told of it, either by the honorable member for Lilley or by Mr. Ken Morris, the leader of the Liberal party in Queensland.
– What does that matter i
Government supporters interjecting,
– When honorable members opposite have finished squealing I shall continue.
– Order !
– I have only fifteen minutes in which to speak, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I hope that I shall be granted protection by you, because some most vicious, vile and extraordinary charges have been made. Nothing that the honorable member for Petrie or the honorable member for Lilley or anybody else can say will ever convince me that Mr. Hilton, the Minister for Housing in Queensland, is anything but an honest, sincere and genuine man. I challenge any member of this Government to prove otherwise.
– Then let him find the houses.
– We shall reply to our friend, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver), in clue course. The culmination of the speech of the honorable member for Petrie was his repeated claim that a royal commission was justified, if, as he said, the Queensland Government has the courage to appoint one.
– Well, has it?
– Do not be badmannered. I thought the honorable member was one of the good-mannered members of this Parliament. Another gentleman, in another place, asked for the appointment of a royal commission quite recently. I refer to Senator Wood, who made most atrocious charges-
– Order ! That has nothing to do with this debate.
– It has, because Government supporters have been talking about royal commissions.
– Order ! The Chair rules otherwise.
– What chance have I to answer these vile charges that have been made?
– The honorable member can answer the charges in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– I do not know where we start and where we finish. If that is your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I must obey it. I shall put my proposition in this way: Suppose that a royal commission was appointed, and the honorable member for Petrie or the honorable member for Lilley was subpoenaed to appear before it in order to justify the statements they have made in this debate. Would either of those gentlemen appear before the royal commission and say, “ I made my speech under privilege “, as ha; been done in the past?
– I should not do so.
– The honorable member would not do that?
– There is a statutory declaration available.
– If the honorable member did not say that, at least it would be a change of tactics.
– It would be if it came from the honorable member’s side of the House.
– In view of your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I suggest. i:o both honorable members that if they were successful in having a royal commission appointed, as they are asking here under privilege, when they came before that commission, if they were questioned about the statements they have made in this House to-day, they would say, “ I made my speech in the Parliament, and I am not obliged to repeat before a royal commission what I said in the Parliament under privilege”. On the other hand, they might say to thi; royal commission, “ I have no first-hand information. There is no real evidence that I can give before this commission, because the allegations that I made in Parliament were based not on direct evidence given to me, or even on secondhand evidence, but on third-hand information that was given to me “. That i.= what happens when tories appear before royal commissions.
A State election is to be held in Queensland next month. As I walked into the chamber a short while ago, when the honorable member for Petrie was on his feet, somebody said to me, “ Surely there is not another State election to be held in Queensland “, knowing full well that when a State election is approaching, whether in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, or any other State, the election issues , are fought in this House. I sincerely hope that I shall not be accused of reflecting on the Chair when I say that campaigning for State elections is always allowed to he carried out in this chamber. Nobody ever seems , to consider whether the Standing Orders would prevent a person from putting forth State election propaganda in this House. Perhaps I am out of order again in making this remark, but I shall continue until I am stopped by Mr. Deputy Speaker. Some time ago accusations were made against Mr. Hanlon in connexion with the Golden Casket. As a result, a royal commission was appointed.
– Order! The honorable member may not discuss matters that are outside the scope of the motion.
-If I may not, that is all right. The things that I mentioned are the basis of the motion. No one knows better than you do, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the motion is designed to assist the anti-Labour forces in the Queensland general elections. The people in Queensland who are facing the election have no opportunity to answer what the honorable member for Petrie has said or what the honorable member for Lilley may say a little later. Therefore, it falls to honorable members on the Opposition side of the House to try to ensure that justice is done to people who are being maligned and attacked without any opportunity for them to reply and to repudiate the things that are said about them. The honorable member for Petrie stated that certain wastages are taking place. I shall not go into details about the spouting, the porches, the bedrooms, the dining rooms and the other things that are missing. If all the things that the honorable member said are true - I put it to the House with complete and utter sincerity that they are not true–
– How does the honorable member know that?
– Ido not know it.
-Howcan the honorable member say that those thingsare not true?
– I suggest that those things are untrue. If they all were true, the situation is tantamount to the Queensland Government having obtained money from the Australian Government under false pretences.
– That is what I said.
– With one voice, all Government supporters say,” That is correct”. If that is so, whatin the name of goodness is the Australian Government doing that it has not taken action against the Queensland Government ? Is it merely waiting in order to keep this matter alive until after the Queensland general elections are heldon the 19th May? Myvery limited knowledge of the Standing Orders convincesme that it is not out of order for me to say that, if the Australian Government hasproof that any person, organization, government, association or institution is fraudulently obtainingfrom the Commonwealth money to which that person or that body is not entitled, or as the honorable member for Petrie explained–
– Order ! The honorable member’s timehas expired.
– If that is so, this Government is not doing the right thing by the people whom its supporters represent in this Parliament.
– Order !
– I rise to order. I rose to address the House at 3.48 p.m., and I am therefore entitled to continue until 4.3 p.m. I submit that I am entitled to take fifteen minutes.
-Order! That is not so. The Standing Orders provide that the honorable member initiating the debate may take fifteen minutes,the Minister first speaking, fifteen minutes, and other speakers ten minutes.
.- At the outset, I should like to express my sympathy to the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) because he was obliged to follow the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) in this debate. The honorable member for Herbert labouredvery heavily, for the simple reason that he does not know verymuch about this matter. The honorable member made passing reference to royal commissions. I should imagine that reference by him to royal commissions in the presence of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) could cause some bristling in the ranks of the Opposition. I should imagine that it would have been Far more fitting had the honorable member for East Sydney followed the honorable member for Petrie in this debate, because I understand that the honorable member for East Sydney at least has some knowledge of timber.
– Why does not the honorable member get out of the sewer?
– Order ! The matter to which the honorable member for Moreton has referred has no relation to the motion.
– The honorable member for Herbert, unhappily, did not deal with the facts. I propose to deal with them, T hope to his benefit.
– -It is nearly time the honorable member started to discuss the facts.
– Order ! The honorable member for Herbert is out of order.
– The Zillmere housing project has a long history. Fortunately, the facts have come to the surface during the last twelve months. May I break into the history of the project-
Conversation being audible,
– Oder ‘. There if too much conversation in the House.
-We must show the honorable member for East Sydney some tolerance, because he has just come back to the House after his brilliant exploits before the New South Wales State executive of the Australian Labour party. On the 25th September, 1952. the Prime Minister, referring to the Zillmere housing project during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House, said -
Officers of the Department of .National Development , . have reported - (!) That the standard of workmanship in many of the houses and, especially, the earlier ones, >s very poor; (2) that there has been inadequate supervision of the contracts by the Queensland Housing Commission; and (3) that many of the criticizms covering a wide range of items were substantiated. These items included the method of fixing roofs; quality of timber and ceiling construction; cracking of asbestos cement ceiling lining; walls, ceiling and floors being out of level; rooms out of square; sub-standard joinery; defective painting . . .
– There is nothing about fraud in that.
– I do not suggest that fraud is mentioned in that passage, but I do say that the House must bear in mind, when it considers the Zillmere project, that sub-standard workmanship went into these houses, for which this Parliament approved a subsidy of £300 each. That is my first ground of complaint. The Queensland Housing Minister himself has indicated that there is something very wrong. In the first instance, he has applied for subsidy payments for 886 pre-cut imported houses for the Zillmere project. Yet, he was reported in the Brisbane Courier-Mail of the 10th March of this year as having declared that there were only 812 French houses at Zillmere. The first fact to be deduced from this is that 74 houses are missing. The honorable member for Petrie inquired where they were. I believe that the Queensland Government clearly has a responsibility to try to establish the whereabouts of those dwellings. The second fact that I ask the honorable member for Herbert to observe is that it has been clearly established that many of the allegedly imported 812 houses at Zillmere have been constructed of Australian materials. The position is worse than it appears at first. Seventy-four dwellings are missing. Of the S12 there, many have been constructed of Australian materials.
– Has the Commonwealth paid the subsidy on the lot?
– -No. I shall come later to the point raised by the honorable member. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), on the 27th February of this year, wrote to the Queensland Housing Minister, and asked him to make a full investigation into the whole matter, but, as yet. the Minister has not received a reply from the commissioner. I want to make it perfectly clear that T do not
Impute anything against the integrity of the Queensland Housing Minister. But I consider that I am obliged to question the whereabouts of the 74 houses that - let us be generous about it - have strayed. In addition, I feel obliged to ask -why it is that subsidies were paid on allegedly imported houses many of which had been built of Australian materials. I believe that there is an established case of neglect and a prima facie case of fraud.
– The honorable member’s colleague said it was fraud. He did not say it was neglect.
– I do not see why the honorable member for Herbert should complain if I happen to be in a little more generous mood at the moment than the honorable member for Petrie was. All told, the Queensland Government has claimed a subsidy on 2,382 houses. As far as Zillmere is concerned, there is, in my judgment at any rate, an established case of neglect and a prima facie case of fraud. I put the point of view to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and to the House, that if neglect has occurred in respect of S86 homes in one area, it is not unreasonable to assume that neglect has also occurred in the areas where the other houses have been constructed. There was a Swedish contract in respect of two suburbs of Brisbane and the City of Ipswich. That contract covered 244 .houses at Archerfield, 172 houses at Inala and SO houses at Ipswich. There was an Italian contract in respect of 353 houses at Carina, 282 houses at Mount Gravatt, 276 houses at Inala and 87 houses at Toowoomba. A perusal of the statutory declaration referred to by the honorable member for Petrie will show that there was an interchange of material between the Italian contract in respect of the suburbs of Carina, Mount Gravatt and Inala, on the one hand, and the Zillmere project, on the other hand. So, I put the view that if neglect has occurred at Zillmere it has also occurred in respect of the whole of the imported houses in Queensland.
The next point that I want to put to the House is this. The neglect which has occurred in the construction of these houses has had a very real effect on rents, and the people who live in these imported houses are in the invidious position that they have to pay higher rentals because of the neglect of the Queensland Government.
– How much extra do they have to pay?
– Between 7s. 6d. and 12s. 6d.
– But what is the total amount they have to pay?
– The amount varies, but it is about £3 4s. a week. If the statutory declaration that the honorable member for Petrie cited this afternoon is true in respect of only 5 per cent, of the houses mentioned in it, there exists grounds for the gravest anxiety. The honorable member for Petrie has referred to the need for a royal commission. I support him in that respect. I believe that only a royal commission with wide and generous terms of reference will relieve Queensland people of the anxiety that attends them at the moment on the score of the imported houses; and I believe that the people living in the imported houses in Queensland are entitled to the appointment of a royal commission.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. GEORGE LAWSON (Brisbane) “4.8]. - I am very pleased to have the opportunity of speaking on the subject before the Chair. I am not at all surprised that this matter has been brought forward here to-day, but I am surprised that it has been brought forward by the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme). As honorable members who have been in this House for any length of time know, this has been the catchcry of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight). As a matter of fact, this subject has been discussed, from time to time, over four or five years.
During this session of the Parliament, in another debate, the honorable member for Lilley made a lengthy statement giving certain alleged information that he had in his possession regarding these particular houses that were built by the Queensland Housing Commission on behalf of the people of that particular area. I well remember the honorable member for Lilley stating in this House that he had certain statutory declarations, and he stated straight out that the attitude of tb, Queensland Housing Commission and the Queensland Minister himself amounted to nothing more nor less than the condonation of corruption and bribery. Th’ honorable member for Petrie and tho honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) have gone just as far to-day in making the same charges, not only against the Queensland Government and the Housing Commission, but also again.n the Minister.
– Not according to the Minister himself, in his own statement of the 5th August, 1955.
– The Minister can look after himself. I say that this question has been brought before the House to-day as a purely political matter. Honorable members know tha!: the Queensland Government is facing an election which will be held on the 19th May, and they are hoping that some useful political propaganda will be made for use by the Liberal party against the Queensland Labour party. As I said, I have visited this housing settlement. I have discussed the housing question with many people and I have never found any of those people complaining about the condition of the houses or the rent that they are paying. They have not made any complaint at all against the Queensland Housing Commission.
– That is not right.
– I am telling the truth. If anything is wrong, due to certain material being missing, let us ask ourselves this question: How could anybody expect to have every item of 886 houses delivered without some breakages and without some portion of the material being missing? However, the proportion of materials that was missing was infinitesimal. Honorable members on the Government side have blamed the Queensland Government and the Queensland housing Minister, but I want to ask them what happened to the Commonwealth inspectors who were there.
– They were not there.
– If they were not there they should have been there for the purpose of inspecting the buildings because the Commonwealth had some interest in them.
Mi’. Wight. - They were not allowed to inspect the buildings.
– That is untrue. They were allowed to inspect them. Nothing was said or done to prevent them from making an inspection. They had free access to every building that went up because the Commonwealth was paying a subsidy for every imported prefabricated house that was erected. lOn one occasion, I complained on the floor of this House that the Governmentwas neglecting its duty because its inspector was not there to inspect these houses. Inspectors of the Queensland Housing Commission had gone along to inspect other projects. I think that the honorable member for Lilley will bear me out when I say that I was told that there were no Commonwealth inspectors there at that time. It was the duty of this Government to have inspectors there, because the Commonwealth was subsidizing each of these prefabricated homes to the extent of £300. I said earlier that I was not a bit surprised at this matter being brought before the House at this juncture, because the Queensland State elections will soon be held. To me it seems peculiar that the honorable member for Lilley and the honorable member for Petrie have not spoken of this matter outside the House. They have sheltered under the privilege of this House, the same as other persons have done in the past. Where is the State leader of the Liberal party, Mr. Morris? He has opened his election campaign and spoken at quite a number of meetings, but he has not mentioned the Zillmere homes because he dare not. The honorable member for Lilley, the honorable member for Petrie, and the honorable member for Moreton will not make outside the House the statements which they are making here. Why has Mr. Morris not mentioned this matter? Lord knows he is throwing -enough dirt and muck. This would be something else for him to throw, but the Queensland Minister for Housing has issued a writ against him. If there is anything wrong with the Queensland Government’s conduct in relation to these houses, why has this Government not taken action instead of its supporters, under privilege, making all sorts of charges and saying that the Queensland Government should appoint a royal commission? That is what this Government should do if it has a case, but it has not a case. Half of the statements made here are absolutely untrue. They are all made for political purposes. I have the greatest of faith in the Queensland Minister for Housing. He is one of the most honest Ministers in Australia and he would never be a party to the conduct alleged in the charges made by honorable members opposite.
.- I shall certainly take advantage of the opportunity to quote the statement made by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson), as spokesman for the Australian Labour party, that the tenants of the Queensland Housing Commission at Zillmere have no objection to the high rates of rental that they are paying. The facts are that the rentals being charged in the housing commission area at Zillmere are higher than those charged in any other housing commission area throughout the length and breadth of Queensland, and this has been a constant source of complaint by every tenant in the Zillmere area. In future, I shall quote the statement of the honorable member for Brisbane, as spokesman for the Labour party, that the workers who are the tenants of the Queensland Housing Commission homes are not paying too high a rental. That is the statement he made during his contribution to this debate. I desire to refer now to his suggestion that the Commonwealth should have had inspectors on the job while these houses were being constructed. The honorable gentleman’s memory is very short. Otherwise he would recall that the Commonwealth sent inspectors to Zillmere because of the complaints that were made, and the same Queensland Minister for Housing refused to allow any further inspection by the Commonwealth until such time as the Zillmere contract had been completed. Not until then was the Commonwealth able to send anybody to make a further inspection. That inspection was made at the end of last year, when inspectors, acting on behalf of the Commonwealth, discovered that many houses had apparently been built of Australian material and not of French material as had been claimed by the Queensland Government. This claim that the houses were of French origin and thereby entitled to subsidy was first made by the Queensland Housing Commissioner, Mr. Galvin, and it was subsequently confirmed in a letter written by the Queensland Housing Minister.
The Commonwealth, acting in complete decency, through its Minister in charge of housing, the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), wrote, on the 27th February. 1956, to the Queensland Minister for Housing, pointing out that a large number of houses appeared to be of Australian and not French origin and asking that the Commonwealth be granted the privilege of making a complete inspection of the project because its inspectors had noticed that there seemed to be a serious discrepancy in the number of French houses. Since the 27th February, the Queensland Minister for Housing has failed to reply to that letter, and until we are able to make an inspection, it would be impossible for this Government, I submit, to issue a writ on the Queensland Government for the recovery of money which had been fraudulently obtained by medium of a certificate that these houses had in good faith been sent to Australia. Since this matter was first raised in the Parliament, the Queensland Minister for Housing, it appears, has completely changed his tune, and there is now no argument about the fact that there is a shortage of French houses at Zillmere. Indeed, he has admitted that, there is a shortage of 74 houses, but wc suggest that the shortage is in excess of that number. That is only the figure given by the Queensland Minister for Housing. There is also a shortage of a great deal of other material. That is borne out by the contents of the statutory declaration which would be available if the Queensland Government had the courage to appoint a royal commission.
– If a royal commission were appointed, would the honorable member give evidence before it, or would lie claim privilege?
– I should be only too pleased to give evidence.
– He would claim privilege. That is what he would do.
– I should be pleased to produce these maps which are in my possession, and which show the entire ^Zillmere project. If the honorable member would examine them, he would see that the red crosses mark the places where the missing French houses were to have been erected. The houses erected in their stead are built entirely of Australian material. The houses that arc marked with a red and green cross consist of 80 per cent, to 90 per cent. Australian material. This substitution has involved increased costs which are being recovered from the poor workers at Zillmere by a government which claims to represent, them. Their rentals have been increased to recover the money that was lost by the Queensland Government - whether honestly or dishonestly, I do not know. The maps show in detail every house in the project. The houses substituted for the missing houses are identified by crosses. I shall be only too pleased to enter the witness box and produce this evidence, if a royal commission is -appointed. The leader of the Liberal party in Queensland would welcome the opportunity to produce the statutory declaration. At the moment I am most vitally concerned about the matter of rentals. These tenants pay the highest rents paid in any housing commission :area in Queensland.
– The honorable member said “in Australia” a moment ago.
– I said “ throughout the length and breadth of Queensland “. The honorable gentleman may check my statement in the Hansard report. The rentals have been increased not only because of the loss of 74 houses and the £250,000 worth of material that is missing, but also because of the increased capital cost of the houses.
From the contents of the statutory declaration it would appear that the Queensland Government has paid far in excess of the amount which should have been paid for these houses. The declaration is signed by an executive member of the French firm which built the Zillmere houses, who says at page 8 -
I have to add that the French Minister foi the Public Works had fixed these dwellings to last ten years maximum before being replaced by definitive bricks or concrete construction. I have to add that in France the bare type 11– which is one of the types of house involved - ready for habitation is sold for £A1,025.
That is the statement of an executivmember of the firm. He says that in France the houses cost £1,025 in Australian currency. The Queensland Government paid approximately £2,600 each for those houses. The rentals have been fixed, according to the economic rental formula contained in the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, on the capital cost of the ‘entire project, which has been increased, first, because of the loss of subsidy amounting to £22,200,. secondly, the difference of about £1,500,000 between the correct price of these houses, if the statutory declaration is correct, and the price which the Queensland Government paid, plus £250,000, the value of the material that has been lost. All this money has to be repaid to those who lent it to the Australian Government. The only way in which the Queensland Government has attempted to recover it is to increase the rentals paid by the people of Zillmere. It has been admitted that the loss has been incurred by the Queensland Minister for Housing but no attempt has been made to explain how the loss took place. The people of Queensland are entitled to know whether it was incurred honestly or dishonestly. The fact remains that some person, or group of persons, is at least £250,000 wealthier to-day than would have been the case if these houses had not been lost. Moreover, if all the 886 French houses had been built, at Zillmere, the rental paid by tenants there would, as the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) “suggests, have been at least 63. a week less than it is now. That is the result of the loss of materials alone, but if we take into con.sideration the statement in this statutory declaration concerning the capital cost of the houses the true rental would be - if the correct price had been paid by the Queensland Government - not £2 17s. 6d. to £8 4s. a week but between fi 10s. and £1 14’s. a week. Therefore, the people of Zillmere are quite right when they say that the rentals which they are being charged are exorbitant. This is a clear illustration of the way in which the Labour party has betrayed the trust placed in it by the very people in the Australian community whom it claims to represent. It is time that these things were brought out so that the people of Queensland can appreciate that they have a State government that cannot be crusted.
– Never have I seen such a blatant attempt to use the forms of the House of Representatives in order to carry on an election campaign in a State far removed from this capital city. It ls despicable that a State election campaign should be brought into this honorable House, and that the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) should be the first to rise in his place to support the postponement of Government business in order that a campaign may be carried on against the Labour Government of Queensland - simply because an election is to be held there in a fortnight. 1 want to have something to say in reply to those honorable members who have spoken on this matter. Incidentally, it is interesting to record that of all the Queensland Liberal party and Country party members in this House only five bothered to stay here while the debate proceeded.
– You hunted a fellow Queenslander out of the House.
– Of the five who remained, one was the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) who surely has some interest in the matter because he is responsible for paying. the amounts concerned. However, even he has not bothered to take part in the debate. He almost went to sleep - except to join in the “ chuckles of his colleagues whenever comments were made about this matter being used for election purposes. It is interesting to record also that before this House met this afternoon a Queensland member of the Liberal party was in the King’s Hall talking to the reporter from the Brisbane Courier-M.ail, and no doubt giving him a full account of what was going to be said in this debate. I wish to refer now to the report of the Queensland Housing Commissioner for the year 1955. lt has been certified by the Auditor-General in Queensland, so if what I say is disputed, the AuditorGeneral must be a crook also. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) says that the commissioner is guilty, prima facie, of fraud. Consider the duplicity of that statement! He says he does not question the honesty of the commissioner, but that there is a prima facie case of fraud to answer. In other words, he is saying, “ 1 do not question his honesty, but on the face of it he is guilty of fraud “. Evidently everybody m Queensland, including the AuditorGeneral, is guilty of fraud because the report of the Queensland Housing Commission, which has been audited and certified correct by the Auditor-General, says that during 1954-55 the Commission’s day labour employees completed the balance of 58 houses at Zillmere under the French contract, which had been abandoned by the contractors on the 11th July, 1953. There is no doubt at all that if there have been any fraudulent practices in connexion with the French project the guilty people are the great advocates of private enterprise - the private contractors who engaged in the business of erecting the houses before the project was abandoned. The report indicates, further, that S86 houses were completed under the French contract, construction work having been carried on by day labour following abandonment of the contract by the contractors on the 11th July, 1953. There is no doubt at all that part of -the reason why this matter has been brought into this House is that the contractors are at this moment facing charges of fraudulent conversion of government property to their own use. There is no doubt whatever that had it not been for the Queensland Government’s activity in erecting houses of the type which we are now discussing, that State would not now be able to boast of the fact that its housing position is the best in the Commonwealth. That is indicated by the figures, not of the Queensland Labour Government, but of the Commonwealth Statistician.I shall quote an extract from the report for the information of every one. It states -
The comparative position of the housing shortage in each of the States as indicated by the Commonwealth in December, 1954, is:
Queensland . . . 6 shortage per 100 families
Tasmania is the next best because it is another Labour-controlled State. The figure there is 2.5 shortage per 100 families. Worse than Queensland by nearly 900 per cent, is South Australia with 7.0 shortage per 100 families. Compare that shortage in South Australia, where a Liberal government has been in continuous control for 23 years, with the shortage of . 6 - not even 1 per cent. - per 100 families in Queensland, where a. Labour government has been in control.
There is no doubt that this matter has been brought forward in a miserable attempt to drag State politics into the House of Representatives because an election is pending in Queensland. The honorable member for Moreton openly admits that he knew of this matter on the 25th September, 1952, nearly four years ago. He and his colleagues admit that they knew of these things. Why have they said nothing until now, when a State election is about to take place? What utter rubbish they speak when they invite the Queensland Government to appointa royal commission. Why, a member of this Government in another place made a similar request, and when the Government obliged him by appointing a royal commission, he refused to give evidence before the royal commission concerned. I say that these people, especially in view of the fact that Mr. Ernie Evans, a Country party colleague of theirs–
– Order ! The honorable member will not deal with a matter that is before the court.
– I see. Now I want to deal with the rent that is charged. The honorable member for Moreton admitted, and the Housing Commission’s report proved that his figures are correct - he generally is correct - that the rent charged for these homes is £3 4s. a week. Let me remind the honorable member now that the quality of housing commission dwellings in South Australia is not nearly so good as the quality of these houses. I have seen the homes at Zillmere, and they are a Credit to the Queensland Labour Government. In South Australia, where there is a Liberal government, the houses are, of nowhere near as high a standard. They are prefabricated houses and a rent of £3 10s. a week is being charged. Not only that, but the Queensland Government can boast of having decent roads and footpaths in the housing settlements that they provide. In South Australiathe roads are not made. Indeed, so bad are the roads in South Australian settlements that doctors refuse to attend patients in them, taxi drivers refuse to drive over the roads, and women with children in prams get bogged in the footpaths as they try to get out of the dumps that are called housing settlements in the Liberalcontrolled State of South Australia.
It cannot be said that I am using this for political purposes because the election has been held in South Australia. Mr. Playford got the tip from the Prime Minister that the supplementary budget was to be introduced, and that he should get the election over before any one knew anything about it. I want to remind the people, and the people of Queensland in particular, that in Queensland the rents for these houses, based on the average of their costs, are only £2 17s. 6d. a week for a two-bedroom home, £3 2s. 6d. for a three-bedroom home, and £3 4s. a week for a four-bedroom home. There is not another State in the Commonwealth where a four-bedroom home is provided for £3 4s. a week. It is to the everlasting credit of the people of Queensland that they have had the good common sense to keep in power the Government that has given them the best housing scheme that Australia can boast of to-day, a housing scheme that gives them the cheapest rent, the only housing scheme where, judging by South Australian standards, new homes are provided and at the same time brand now footpaths, electric light, sewerage and good roads and every other facility. Never in my life have I seen such splendid housing conditions as are provided by the Queensland Labour Government. I have travelled over the whole of Australia and the houses in Queensland are certainly better than those provided by the Liberal Government in South Australia.
– Order 1 The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harbison) agreed to -
That the business of the day be called on.
Debate resumed from the 19th April (vide page 14S7), on motion by Mr. McE wen -
That the bill be now read a second tune.
.- The measure before the House is, on the face of it, one which the Parliament and the people generally, I am sure, would expect Her Majesty’s Opposition to support enthusiastically; that is, if we could take our cue from the title to the bill, which is -
An Act to establish a fisheries development trust account and for purposes connected therewith.
When we take into consideration all the facts and factors dealt with in the second-reading speech of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) on this bill, we almost immediately become conscious of the fact that a gigantic political fraud is being practised on the people of Australia. When I say a gigantic political fraud, I refer to the fact that the real purpose behind the establishment of this so-called fisheries development trust account is to hide, or cover up as much as possible, the fact that this Government is about to sell the Australian Whaling Commission’s assets at Carnarvon, in Western Australia. The Government apparently believes that, if it can instil in the minds of the people the idea that, by selling this asset at Carnarvon, it can put into a trust account a sum of money to be specifically hypothecated for the development of the fisheries industries of Australia, the sale of the asset will be quite justified.
But on the face of it, the whole situation is absurd. Surely it is not essential for the Government with all the resources of the great Commonwealth of Australia behind, it, to sell one profitable asset in. order to be able to develop what can be a much more profitable asset than it is to-day, and that is the fishing industry.. When I refer to the fishing industry, 1 am not referring to an industry that at. the moment, in the terms of the bill,, includes whales, which are mammals. But that is the fraud which is being put over the people. Already this Government is aware that the people of Australiaare perturbed by its decision to sell a very valuable asset indeed. The Governmentthinks that if it can put up this trust fund story, and say that from the profitsof the sale of the whaling commission’sassets - a sum estimated to be anything: from £750,000 to £1,000,000- money will be devoted to the development of other types of wealth from the waters surrounding Australia, its action will be entirelyjustified.
But let us have a look at the position. What are the facts? It is proposed ip, the terms of the bill to put approximately £750,000 in a developmental account. It is believed, and I suppose it is believed by the Minister in his innocence - and I am not too sure that he is so innocent - that the Labor Opposition may swallow a bill ostensibly having for its purpose the further development of the fisheries of the Commonwealth of Australia. I want tostate at this stage that he is quite wrong. We propose to oppose vigorously this particular measure, but not because we as a party, or as a government, are opposed to every possible form of assistance to the further development of the fishery resource0 in the waters surrounding I2,00f> miles of the Australian coast line.
Asa matter of fact, the Chifley Government, in the difficult post-war period from 1945 to 1949, despite its preoccupation with the problems of war rehabilitation, gave very substantial assistance to the development of Australian fishing resources. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization was encouraged to intensify its research work. The Australian Fisheries Journal, issued by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, was first published when T held the portfolio of Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. It is an excellent little journal but, unfortunately, this Government has not seen fit to make any substantial improvements to it, notwithstanding the fact that time has been passing by and our resources are infinitely greater to-day than they were in the period from 1945 to 1949. In addition, through our technical officers, we gave every possible assistance to the development of the crayfishing industry. The export of crayfish tails to the United States of America was becoming a very valuable business, and it was through the inspectional services of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture that a very tight and rigorous system of inspection was imposed on all those who were exporting crayfish tails to America. 1 am quite sure, and I frankly admit it. that my successor, the Minister for Trade, has continued that inspectional system, -and probably has improved on it. If he has not, he should have done so. He has had a greater opportunity than I had to do so.
What goes for crayfishing also goes for the tuna industry. The Chifley Government, at the time it left office, was endeavouring to find to what extent, and in what way, the fishing for tuna could be developed in Australian waters. It is true that we were preoccupied with other work, but at least we were taking an interest in the matter. Let me say here that I am glad the Minister has announced that it is the intention of the Government to assist in the further development of our very valuable tuna resources. There is no question whatever that those resources are very great. The -Japanese send fleets, with mother ships, to catch tuna, freeze them and take them back to their homeland. I know from’ personal experience, and I think the Minister has probably had a similar experience, that there is no finer eating in canned fish anywhere in the world than Australian first-quality tuna. I do mot know any Canadian salmon - and I do not want to be derogatory - or any Japanese or Russian salmon that is equal in quality and flavour to Australian canned tuna. It is an excellent product not only for export, but also for home consumption. Great quantities of tuna taken in Australian waters have already been exported to America and elsewhere, and it has always been my regret that the companies engaged in tuna-fishing had not considered it possible to make a greater quantity of canned tuna available, at more reasonable prices than at present, on the Australian market, thereby assisting us in rectifying our balance of trade problems.
All those are problems which should be dealt with in a constructive way. There is a case for participation by the Government in the continuation of research, and for reasonable assistance to companies which desire to develop this particular industry. But this Government comes along at a time when it is confronted with a political crisis regarding the sale of a great national asset and, as a cover-up one might say, it tells us that it proposes to sell the whaling enterprise and from the proceeds, which will be roughly £880,000, from the sale of the material assets of the Australian Whaling Commission, including the present whaling station at Carnarvon, and the commission’s cash resources, to establish a fund of almost £1,000,000. The Government says it will put that amount into a particular account to be used to assist the Australian fishing industry. That is a wrong approach. In effect, it is a cowardly, fraudulent approach. It is a fraud on the Australian people. If research on Australia’s fisheries should be developed - and in my opinion it should be, and nobody doubts it - then it should be developed with capital from some other source than the sale of a most profitable government asset. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Lawrence) smiles. Let me put this to him, or to any other smiling honorable member opposite who is complacent about this particular matter: The honorable member for Wimmera and the honorable member for Mallee are both men who pride themselves on their business instincts. Let them make a quick calculation. Here is an industry in Western Australia which is being sold for just under £1,000,000. Let us say the total realization will be approximately £1,000,000. The whole of that amount is to go into the Australian fisheries developmental account. The whaling industry, which it is now proposed to sell for about £1,000,000, is an industry which, on the Minister’s own figures, given in his second-reading speech, has returned to the Australian taxpayer a net profit of £200,000 per annum in the last five years. , After paying interest, and after allowing for depreciation, in five years the industry has yielded the taxpayers no less a sum of money than £1,0Q0,000. May I suggest, as a business proposition, how much more profitable it, would be for the Government to invest the continuing income of £200,000 per annum from that whaling enterprise. The indications are that that profit will continue to flow from that instrumentality, or private enterprise would not be running round in circles endeavouring to buy it, and the Government would not be trying to cover up the fact that it did not call for tenders for its purchase. I pointout to the honorable member for Mallee that, in order to derive an annual income of £200,000. it would be necessary to invest a capital of £4,000,000 at a rate of interest of 5 per cent. To derive a return of £200,000 per annum the Government could set aside a fund amounting to £4.000,000, and obtain interest of 5 per cent, from it, utilizing the proceeds as a revolving fund for financing the develop- £1,000,000 sufficient to devote to the assistance of the development of our fisheries, it could put £1,000,000 into a ment of the Australian fishing industry, or, alternatively, if it considered trust fund and still have at its disposal a sum of £3,000,000 for investment in some other manner at an interest rate of 5 per cent. Let the Minister for Trade, who is now at the table, answer that proposition. If any business enterprise in Australia were asked whether it would prefer to have £1,000,000 as a present now, or to receive £200,000 a year for five years, or as’ long as it liked, on a capital investment of £4,000,000, the answer would be, “ Give us £200,000 per annum on an investment of £4,000,000 “.
– Plus socialism ?
– The honorable member can call it what he likes.
– But will that be pins socialism ?
– Our friend asks, “Will that be plus socialism?” The strange” fact is that, according to the Minister’s second-reading speech, it is proposed to establish a revolving fund toencourage the development of Australian fisheries; and behind that statement is- the fact that it is proposed that variousfishing companies various people who put themselves forward as skilled enough toengage in tuna fishing, or prawn fishing, or to exploit the resources of Australia’s coastal waters, have come to the Minister and said, “ We have a proposition. We have floated a company with a capital of £.100,000. We propose to exploit tuna grounds, but we cannot, on our own resources, raise sufficient money. We want £500,000, but we cannot raise it “. They have no hesitation in coming to the people’s Government and asking it for £400,000 to develop their fisheries. There is a risk involved in the development of fisheries, and private enterprise is not prepared to take that risk. When risks are involved private entenprise always comes to the- people’s Government, and has no hesitation in asking the people to pay money over to private enterprise pending the time when the particular industry concerned will become profitable. I suggest to the honorable member for Mallee that that is a form of socialism which appeals to him very much as a member of the Australian Country partyMembers of the Australian Country party and their supporters claim to be great individualists, but when they are in trouble they want the people’s money to help them out. When export prices are not all they desire they want subsidies. When they start to produce something new they want bounties. They do not go to private interests to raise the money, because they know that they would get nothing. They come to the people’s Government and ask it to provide the money. So it is proposed to make available to private enterprise, out of the sale of this project, money for the financing of propositions which private enterprise itself cannot raise. It is proposed to make the money gained from the sale of a socialist enterprise, which is to be sold for a mere shadow of its actual value, available to companies which, after borrowing it, maygo bankrupt. Disaster may overcome them, and then what happens to the people’s money? The money will have disappeared. It will be irrecoverable. Is that socialism? It is the sort of socialism which appeals to the honorable member for Mallee and the honorable member for Wimmera, but when it comes to the type of socialism-
Mr. Anderson interjecting,
– I shall not permit the honorable member for Hume to howl me down. He is not worthy of consideration. The honorable member should make his words audible instead of mumbling them through his beard. When we are dealing with the said of this whaling enterprise we are dealing with a project in which the people’s money has been invested, and which is making a substantial profit. According to the Minister himself the profit in five years has been £1,000,000. Yet the member.; of the Government have no hesitation in saying, “Let us get rid of it and invest the money in some rickety proposition, such as the establishment of a revolving fund to be left to a private company or a series of private companies that cannot raise through the banking system or from some other private source a brass razoo with which to commence operations”. That is what this Government proposes to to do following the sale of the people’s assets at Carnarvon in Western Australia.
We wish the Government well in the establishment of any developmental trust account into which it may pay money that is raised from taxation, and in giving assistance to any justifiable project that may come to its notice, but we do not support its use of the proposed trust account as a screen and an apology for the sale of a most profitable enterprise that has yielded, almost without variation, £200,000 a year for five years. The profit for last year was £230,000 and. for an earlier year £278,000. The figures for this year are not yet available, but the profit is likely to be anything from £200,000 to £250,000. With the exception of the two initial years, the whaling station, throughout its active operating life of six or seven years, has proved to he a very profitable project. It has been stated that the annual revenue of £200,000 from this project is equivalent to interest at 5 per cent, on a capital investment of £4,000,000.
– What about the payment of company tax?
– The honorable gentleman asks, “ What about the payment of company tax ? “ We have no idea whether the purchasing company will be in a position to pay tax. It will pay a deposit of £350,000, but it could become insolvent in twelve months. The balance of the money will not be received until five years have expired.
Mr. Chaney and Mr. Cleaver interjecting, ii -<n
– Will the honorable gentlemen from Western Australia just wait a moment? They are full of interjections; they try to howl me down. I have stated that the company will pay a deposit of £350,000, and that the balance will be paid over a number of succeeding years. By way of illustration, let me refer to the sale of Commonwealth ships to a company of world-wide fame which paid an initial deposit, but from which no government was able to recover the balance. As a matter of fact, the chairman of directors of that company eventually served a term of imprisonment. I am not suggesting that the Nor’ West Whaling Company will fail to meet its obligations if it buys the station, but that could happen. It could happen to a company that is built on straw; a company, the sole assets of which consist of the rickety old station at Point Cloates; a company that has been hogging to get its hands on this project ever since it’ was established and which has been helped by every Liberal party member of the Parliament by agitation and by bringing pressure to bear on the Government to sell the station.
– The honorable member says the company might fail and then he says it will fail.
– I did not say that it will fail.
– The honorable member said it might fail.
– So it might. Let the1 honorable member make his own apology and his own speech. I am indicting him with being a supporter of a proposal which means that this project, which is earning an annual profit of £200,000 or the equivalent of 5. per cent, interest on a capital outlay of £4,000,000 will, to all intents and purposes, be given away. The next thing t.o happen will be that the Government will want to sell the trans-Australian railway because it is profitable.
– It has been profitable only since this Government commenced to operate it.
– Oh, indeed! The Government did not dare to sell it when it was unprofitable, because the Government knew that the line was a great developmental project that opened up an arid part of the continent for pastoralists and other wealth producers. The whaling station was established on the northwest coast of Western Australia, not so much so that profits could be derived from it, but so that it would be a factor in the further development of that part of Australia where the population is too sparse.
– It has not developed that part of Australia one bit.
– The honorable member may have a say later. Let him then defend, the action of the Government in selling a first-class undertaking that has been managed by, I suppose, as competent a board of directors as has ever managed an instrumentality in the history of government enterprise in Aus- tralia. The chairman of directors, Mr. Bowes, was selected by the Chifley Government because of his proven ability in other forms of government service. It was not long after Mr. Bowes assumed control of the activities of the Australian Whaling Commission that the station proved to be successful. Honorable members from Western Australia who have been so busily interjecting should not forget that, although a valuation has been placed on this station by the government valuer, vast quantities of disposal materials were used in the building of it. The framework came from a Royal Australian Air Force workshop in some part of Western Australia; a very large section of the plant came from a former power alcohol plant on the outskirts, I think, of Perth; and other sections were obtained as a result of the business ability of the chairman of directors. The use of those materials has been no mean factor in the success of the station. However, we shall refer tothose facts more fully at another stage,
I have already referred to what could be done for the development of ourfisheries if, instead of selling the station, the Government were to pay the annual profits into a developmental trust account. The Australian Labour party opposes the/ bill, but not because it objects to the further development of the Australian, fishing industry. We realize that there i* room for a tuning up of the research activities of the Commonwealth , Scientificand Industrial Research Organization, which is engaged in limited work to-day probably because it has insufficient resources with which to conduct wider research. A former government of which) I was a member furnished this organization with resources, and no doubt thepresent Government has done likewise. The Chifley Government was responsiblefor the publication of the fisheriesjournal. I know that, because I wasMinister for Commerce and Agriculture when it was first published. That journal is still being published, and it could be substantially improved. I have no doubt that a lot more research work could he undertaken. We know also what has been done in the past by government enterprise. The older members of theHouse will remember the ship Endeavour, which was not very successful and which suffered a tragic fate. The commissioning of that ship was rather a different proposition from the establishment of a whaling station, but, if we read the records of its activities, we learn that, nevertheless, in its day it did notable work.
We must give attention not only to> research, but also to the conservation of -our fisheries resources, which are not inexhaustible. After World War II., when trawlers that had been used for minesweeping returned to fishing in New South Wales waters, and were joined by additional trawlers, the harvest decreased. Certain authorities drew attention to thefact that we would have to deal with, the problem of conserving our resources. Unfortunately, Australia is not as well placed in regard to fisheries as is the United Kingdom. I understand that Australia has no continental shelf, but the
United Kingdom has the shallow waters of the Dogger Bank and the -fishing grounds of the North Sea where fish are very plentiful. The quantities around the Australian coast, apparently, are limited. The more harvesters, so to speak, or the more trawlers that we use, the more our crop falls. Great work is being done in relation to the very valuable prawning industry. New methods are being discovered and new finds are being made. But, personally, I look, and I have no doubt that the Minister for Trade looks also, to the tuna fishing industry. In recent times we have had brought to our notice the huge catches of tuna that are being made by the Japanese. I believe that something more can be done to develop an Australian tuna fishing industry. “When I go into an Australian shop, I regret that I do not see the shelves lined with cans bearing the stamp, “ Australian tuna, the chicken of the sea “. There should be more advertising of tuna locally. Tuna is pricy but, to my mind, there is no canned fish to be found anywhere in the world that is the equal of Australian canned tuna. I speak of the best quality tuna. It is not available in great quantities to the Australian people, but that is quite understandable. The catches are limited and there is a good market for tuna overseas. Naturally, the people who catch tuna prefer to send it to the United States and other countries, where it brings high prices, rather than sell it on the local market at lower prices. 1 leave the matter there. For the reasons that I have given, we shall oppose the bill.
.- We are dealing with a bill, the purpose of which is to enable us to take advantage of the wealth that is to be found in the waters around Australia. One would think that such a bill would receive the support of all honorable members, but the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who opened the debate for the Labour party, has said that his party is opposed to the development of fishing industries round the Australian coast.
– I did not say that at all.
– The honorable member, in his speech opposing the bill, dealt almost entirely with another bill - a bill tor the sale of a government enterprise.
One can understand his reasons for saying that he will vote against that bill, because he is a socialist and he believes in State enterprises or government enterprises.. But, for the life of me, I cannot understand why any member of this Parliament should say that he proposes to vote against this bill, the purpose of which is to enable the Commonwealth to assist in the development of industries to gather in thegreat marine wealth that exists round the coasts of Australia.
The honorable member for Lalor spoke about the fish known as the tuna. It is quite obvious that he knows very littleabout the marine wealth around Australia. Otherwise, he would have dealt with something of real value to the great band of workers in the fishing industry,, who, possibly, work harder than any other section of the Australian people. We should be devoting our attention to those things that will be of assistance to the workers in our fishing industry, not to things that will not provide them with the living standards that we believeeverybody in this Australia of ours should enjoy. I agree with the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) who, in his second-reading speech, dealt with things more precious than tuna.
– The honorable gentleman knows all about them.
– The Prime Minister loves them !
– The Minister dealt with an industry concerned with real prawns, about which the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) does not know anything. From the southern coastal waters of Queensland right up to the northern shoals of the Great Barrier Reef there are fish in abundance. All that is preventing the establishment of a great fishing industry there is the lack of assistance such as this bill would enable the Commonwealth to provide. In the early 1920’s, a socialist government in Queensland bought a trawler and tried to establish a State trawling industry. The industry cost the State something like £200,000,. without catching any fish. This Government believes in assisting any primary industry that is reasonably capable of development. The Minister has said that he is aware that in the coastal waters of Queensland great quantities of ocean prawns have been discovered in recent times.
– Tiger prawns!
– Not tiger prawns. The honorable member for KingsfordSmith does not know anything about prawns, except how to sell them. These are the best prawns that can be found anywhere in the world. They have already attracted orders from America for 300,000 lb. every three months. That would bring into Australia 175,000 . dollars every three months. Firm orders have been placed. There is a market for these prawns in America, as well as in Monaco, or Monte Carlo, which recently sent to Bundaberg in Queensland for 10,000 lb. of the best quality prawns in the world, for consumption during certain celebrations there.
As the Minister has said, there is a great opportunity for the development of a new industry in these waters. Already 40 trawling boats are operating off the coast near Bundaberg for a company engaged in the gathering of prawns and in the discovery and development of new fisheries. The company has surveyed an area 80 miles by 40 miles and has found some of the finest quality scallops. Those fisheries have been discovered, but they have not yet been developed. This bill will enable the Commonwealth to assist in their development. By developing them, we shall be doing something which will bring real wealth to Australia and which also will help a great body of workers to earn good money, which they would not be able :to earn by tuna-fishing in competition with Japanese, whose wages are very low. This Government is eager to develop industries based on our marine wealth - industries that will provide the people engaged in them with the living standards that we believe Australian people should enjoy. I commend the Government for its action in introducing a bill for. ‘the development of fisheries around the Australian coast.
The honorable member for Lalor waxed very eloquent about the proposed sale of a whaling station in Western Australia. One would think, having listened to him, that the whaling station that is proposed to be sold would be lost to Australia. How fallacious it is to argue in that way! When the station has been sold to a private company, it will continue to process the same number of whales as previously and will continue to provide employment for the workers there. It will continue to earn for Australia the amount of wealth that it is earning now. The objection of the honorable member for Lalor is that in future the station will be operated by a private company. The honorable gentleman is opposed to private industry in any shape or form, because he believes in socialism and State enterprises. Our experience is that, sooner or later, a government enterprise begins to lose money. In the long run, the people of Australia lose a lot of money as a result of its operations. If this organization that it is proposed to dispose of is sold to a private firm, it will not be lost to Australia. I believe that the measures proposed in the bill before the House will assist in the development of very big industries along the coast of Queensland, as well as of other States. They will result in the establishment of large industries wherever fish are plentiful. Difficulty is always found in developing fishing industries in Queensland, because of the activities of the Queensland Government. In that State there is an organization known as the Queensland Fish Board, and the products of the fishing industry in that State cannot be sold in Queensland except through that board, which makes a charge for its service of 15 per cent. No fishing industry in this country can afford to pay a charge as large as that. The result is that the people of Queensland are unable to buy ‘any of the first-quality prawns, or the Queensland scallops, which are the best that have been found in this country. Those products of the Queensland industry are sold in other States. The people of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth are buying first-quality Queensland prawns, which are well prepared, having the heads and shells removed, and being snap-frozen in parcels of 5 or 6 lb. Those prawns bring excellent prices in the southern cities. There is an opportunity to develop, with some assistance from the Government, an industry which would be worth £1,000,000 a year. The bill now before the House will make for the extension of fishing activities around the Australian coast, and will encourage the fishing industry to expand until it is worth millions of pounds to the people of Australia.
The bill is a worth-while measure, and I. wish it success. I intend to support it. This Government has done a great deal for other primary industries in Australia and, by this bill, I believe that it will help to build up an industry such as the Labour party could not even think of supporting.
Mr. CAIRNS (Yarra) [5.1d.-L oppose this measure. In doing so I point out that it shows the basically different points of view of the Government and the Opposition in relation to matters of this kind. The policy of the Government is designed to serve private profit, and the Government does so, as its record in this matter and in many others shows, without very much regard to the public interest. The Labour Opposition, on the other hand, stands primarily for public interest, and it will endeavour to ensurethat private profit-making activity is kept within reasonable bounds, and it will sincerely endeavour to provide, when necessary and appropriate, public services for the benefit of the community.
The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Brand), who has just resumed his seat, has said that in his opinion this bill is designed to develop the fishing industry. That, of course, is his opinion. Upon what that opinion is based I was unable to find by listening to his speech. I have also been unable to discover on what that opinion could be based by glancing through the speech of the Minister, which he made when this bill was introduced into the House on the 1.8th April. As with so many other matters that the Government has brought bf fore this House, it is evident that in relation to this bill the Government does not propose to give the House much information. On previous occasions it has treated the House as a rubber stamp, and when it has been made evident in the course of debate that the Opposition does not propose to accept the role of rubber stamp, and demands information, that information is provided, I think, unwillingly. I hope the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) will take the opportunity to respond on this occasion, as he has done on a number of others, lt is certainly desirable to encourage the development of the fishing industry, and a worth-while partnership in that industry can be established between governments and private enterprise. The whole point at issue in this measure is the nature of that partnership, and it is impossible to take for granted that the partnership will be a satisfactory one, either from a study of the bill itself or from what has been said by Government members in support of the bill.
The bill contains two main provisions. It deals with the provision of finance in Clause 5, and the development of a number of activities in Clause 6. As I have said, the Minister has given us no information about either of those matters, except, in the general terms of the bill itself. If effect is given to these measures, there will be established a number of organizations for purposes of research, training and publication. It appears that the research and training will be carried out mainly for the benefit of private profit-making concerns. These facts raise several important supplementary questions. The first arises from the fact that we know that the Government stands for private profit-making activities, and against public operation of many industries. It adopts this policy, I suggest, with very little regard to the objective circumstances involved. It says, in substance, as the Minister has said in this House, “ We are anti-socialist. We stand for private enterprise. Therefore, the rest follows “. If one considers the record of the Government in matters comparable to this, if one considers the way in which it has permitted extortionate and fantastic profits to be made, as has occurred in recent years, and if one considers, on the other hand, the way in which the Government has treated pensioners and others, it is evident that its attitude is one-sided, and that it pays very little regard to” objective circumstances. Those objective circumstances, in relation to this bill, include the operation of the organizations that will be set up for the purposes of research, training and publication. They also include the method of financing those operations. I direct attention, first, to the operation of these organizations. Are they going to service only existing profitmaking organizations? Are they going to be used to encourage competition in, and development of, the fishing industry, or are they to be used to establish a monopoly in that industry? This is an extremely relevant question, because when the sale of the assets of the whaling commission was being negotiated, the Government adopted the policy of offering those assets for sale to existing operators in the industry. It is all very well to justify this on the ground that existing operators can afford to pay more for the enterprise. But the point is that other people who were anxious to enter into the whaling industry were not given the opportunity. I refer in particular to a group of businessmen in Melbourne, who were not previously associated with the industry, and who made an offer, which, I think, was refused substantially because they had not previously been in the industry. This occurrence raises a very relevant question: “Will the fund that is to be created be used primarily to serve the existing operators in the industry, or will it be used to increase competition in the industry, something to which the Government, on other occasions, has seemed to be very strongly disposed? I suggest that, if the policy of the Government in other matters is any guide to what will be done in this instance, the fund will be used to reinforce the status quo and to assist the kind of private enterprises upon which the Government seems to depend so much for its goodwill at least, and not to encourage the development of the industry at all. Will this be the outcome of the bill? I should like some assurance from the Minister for Trade on this point.
I turn now to the financing of these operations. The Opposition opposes the method of financing them by the sale of a public asset which has demonstrated its efficiency. This is of considerable importance, because there are in Australia many essential public services that must and should be conducted by public instrumentalities. In the Australian Whaling Commission, we have a public instrumentality which, on every one’s admission, has been conducted efficiently, profitably and for the benefit of Australia. But it obviously would serve the interests of a government that is so opposed to this kind of activity as is the present Government to dispose immediately of this enterprise so that it could no longer demonstrate to the Australian community that public enterprises can be conducted efficiently and successfully. For this reason, the Opposition opposes, in principle, the method of financing the Fisheries Development Trust Account.
But there are other matters of detail about which we are concerned. We must ask ourselves : How much of the finance needed to establish the fund is likely to be obtained by the means provided for in sub-clause (3.) of clause 5? How much is likely to he left over after the liabilities of the Australian Whaling Commission have been offset against the proceeds of the sale of its assets? How much will be forthcoming for payment into the Fisheries Development Trust Account? In this, as in every other matter involved in this proposal, the House has been given no opportunity to share the information which one might assume the Minister and the Government would have in their possession. As far as we in this House know, the Government may be as much in the dark on this matter as the House is. In this circumstance, how can Government supporters reasonably expect Opposition members to support a bill of such importance about which they have been given no information? It is provided, in sub-clause (2.) of clause 5, that moneys appropriated by law at some time in the future for the purposes of the trust account shall be paid into it. How will they be appropriated by law? What are the Government’s intentions in this matter? Will moneys be appropriated from taxation or from central bank credit? Will the fishing industry, which will benefit so much from the services to be provided out of these funds, be asked specially to contribute? What will be done? Again, as in every other matter relating to the bill, when one attempts to go into details. one finds that the Government has provided no information upon which the House might decide its attitude to this measure. The question involved is: To what extent will the industry to bc served by these facilities for research, training and publication be asked to pay, and to what extent will the burden of paying the cost be imposed upon the general public? These all are matters about which the House has a right to know when it is asked to vote and to form an opinion upon a measure of this kind.
I suggest that the bill is completely vague and general in its nature. For example, clause 7 reads -
Thu Minister may, on behalf of the Commonwealth, enter into such agreements as hu thinks fit for the purposes of, or in connexion with, any matter or thing to be clone or performed with moneys to be provided in whole or in part out of the Account.
I emphasize the words “ as he thinks fit “. We are asked to vote upon this clause without any information about the Minister’s intentions. What has the Government in mind when it, proposes to empower the Minister to make agreements with such persons or organizations as he thinks fit? What is the purpose of the clause? Why is it included in the bill? These all are matters upon which tha House is entitled to have information.
The provision for research, training and publication facilities for the fishing industry is well worth while. We know very well that the fishing industry generally in Australia is in a backward condition and that its development would be assisted by research and training. I tiling some competition from a public instrumentality in this field also would be very useful in promoting the development of the Australian fishing industry. However, in this matter again, we have not been given much information. What will be done under the lengthy provisions of clause 6? What will be the attitude of the Government, at a later stage, to any organizations that are built up as a result of these provisions ? The honorable member for Wide Bay mentioned prawns. I thought he might have been referring to those who need assistance in their opposition to the Labour Government in the coming Queensland genera] elections, although I imagine that was not the case.
If the Government establishes, perhaps under paragraph (c) of sub-clause (1.) of clause 6, some kind of pilot plant to develop the prawning industry, for example, and if the plant successfully demonstrates methods that private enterprise might follow, and makes a valuable contribution by promoting competition in the industry, what might be the Government’s attitude to it in the future? Will it, as it has done with the Australian Whaling Commission, choose to sell it to the highest bidder - it is probably being charitable to assume that the Australian Whaling Commission’s assets are being sold to the highest bidder - or will it act in the public interest?
– What does the honorable member mean by his remark about “the highest bidder “ ?
– I mean that the Government did not fully explore the field in order to obtain offers for the purchase of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission.
– Nonsense !
– The honorable member for Hume, no doubt, is an expert in non sense. The question is most relevant, for there is nothing in the bill to show how any organizations that may come into existence as a. result of the provisions of clause 6 shall be managed or controlled. We have, in the past, heard a great deal about the problems of the management of enterprises similar to those that are envisaged under the provisions of clause 6, but, nowhere in the bill or in any statements made on behalf of the Government in support of it, are we told how such organizations will be controlled. The activities envisaged under the provisions of clause 6 are the promotion of research and investigation, the provision of financial assistance, by way of loan or otherwise, for the establishment and development of fishing enterprises, the training of persons in connexion with the industry, the dissemination of information and advice, and the publication of scientific and other material. How will the organizations that, presumably, will be established for these purposes be controlled? It is only an assumption that such organizations will be established, but we have been assured by the Government that they will be. Will they be in the form of government departments under the control of a Minister? Will they be in some way independent in their operations? What will be their relationship to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization? Has the experience of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization been taken into account in connexion with this matter? Has the Government yet reached the stage of knowing whether the experience of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is at all relevant in this matter ? What stage has the Government reached in relation to clause 6 of the bill?
In clause 4 we are told that a fisheries development trust account will be set up as a receptacle for funds. On the face of it, that would appear to be the main concern of the Government. The research, training and publications organizations to which I have referred under clause ti have not even been given a name. The Government has not even chosen to make specific reference to these things in the bill. It is a bill to establish the fisheries development trust account and for purposes connected therewith. I think that the important clause in this bill is clause 1. but the significance of clause 6 has no particular relevance to the title of the bill. The Government has not, even chosen to dignify by a name the organization which may come into existence under this clause. Therefore, whichever way we turn, we find that this bill is of a vague nature. We find that its general terms have not .been explained in any way to the House. Clause 6 (l.)(e) is a perfectly good example of this. It reads -
Subject to this Act, moneys standing to the credit of the Account may be applied for any of the following purposes: - The establishment or development of the fishing industry in a particular place or for a particular purpose :
Presumably, it is envisaged that this fund will be used in order to assist private people who will develop the industry in a particular place or for a particular purpose. But neither the bill itself nor anything that the Government has said about it gives the House any information about how this will be done. Will it be u private or public operation? At whose cost, private or public, will the operation be carried out, and how will these matters be handled? Whilst the purpose of the bill, that of encouraging the development of the fishing industry, is a very desirable purpose, I suggest that neither the Opposition nor those supporters of the Government who, now and again, happen to be critical of a measure although they vote for it, can accept this bill at its face value. Of course, it is desirable to encourage the development of the fishing industry. But how is this bill going to do it? Will this bill do it? These are questions to which the Government has not yet chosen to give the House answers.
I think that the objections to the bill can be briefly summarized. Firstly, the bill is vague. It is particularly vague about the method of financing operations, and about how the moneys raised will be controlled and administered. It is very vague about the nature of the organizations which might be set up under Clause G and it is vague about the purposes they will serve. Secondly, we have been given no information about the research, training and publication organizations, which may be already in existence. The Government may propose to use the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization or some other existing organization. However, we have been given no information about how such organizations might b” controlled or, in fact, whether they will operate at all. As I mentioned before, the organizations have not even been given a name. Thirdly, the bill shows the close partnership which, I suggest, exists between the Government and private profit-making concerns. The Government is a class government. It is a government that serves the class of willtodo people in this community and this bill further illustrates the closeness of that partnership. The Government does support private profit-making concerns. In these circumstances, private corporations and monopolies come to dominate the economic life of any country in which they exist.
The honorable member for Wide Bay has raised the subject of socialism. I remind the House that if it does not, now and in the future, give serious consideration to the economic power of these monopolies and corporations it will be quite useless to rely on democracy in the political sphere. The whole assumption of the theory of political democracy from the time it was first initiated by the philosophers beginning with John Locke or earlier has rested upon the existence of power only in small pieces. The theories of the nineteenth century, and even of the eighteenth century, upon which the present-day economic position of the Government is based, assumed that in every industry each unit would be so small that none of thom could influence the prices charged in the industry or the allocation of resources. I am referring to the theory of perfect or pure competition. Now monopolies have been allowed to develop in many fields. A monopoly is already in existence in the fishing industry and its development will be facilitated by the Government’s disposal of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission. Already in this industry, as in so many others, enormous monopolies and corporations have developed and have come to dominate the economic life of this country. It is no longer possible truthfully to say that only a socialist must be concerned with the future of these monopolies and corporations. A democrat must also be concerned with these things because democracy cannot survive where these monopolies and corporations grow in power.
I am quite pleased to hear from their interjections that certain supporters of the Government presumably have given up support for democracy just as they have given up support for progressive measures generally. I suggest that the attitude of the Government is not only revealed in a bill of this sort. Every bill that the Government chooses to introduce into the House has the overt purpose of aiding and assisting private business. The Government even denies the House the honour and decency of explaining to it how this is to be done. Government supporters want us to take this measure upon trust as, presumably, they themselves take these measures upon trust. This position obtains, not only in relation to this measure, but in relation to the Government’s taxation policy which we have had revealed so clearly in recent weeks in debates in this House. In its taxation measures, the Government has implemented a class policy - a policy which endeavours to impose on the community the costs of inflation in inverse proportion to the ability of people to carry those costs. In its intervention in the Arbitration Court on the side of the the Arbitration Court on the side of the unions - the Government has again revealed the significant nature of its c’as: bias.
This bill provides, again, a means ot assisting private enterprise . without any proper regard for the public responsibilities of those organizations which will be set up under this bill or of the Government itself. When one takes into account the way in which this measure was presented to the House, without a proper explanation of its contents and without reference to any of those details which my restricted time has made it impossible to mention ; when one takes into account the Government’s unqualified support for private profit-making - and the bigger the employer the more the Government will support him ; and when one takes into account the general vague nature of the legislation, it seems to me that no member of the House can honestly be expected to support the bill.
I feel that there is no alternative left to a member except to exercise the time at his disposal to tell the Government that it has a duty and responsibility to give to the House an explanation of the significance of this measure, an explanation with which we are not yet familiar. That explanation would have to cover a great many gaps in order to justify any support for this measure in its present form. I find it impossible to come to any conclusion but that, in the event of the failure of the Government to meet its responsibilities in this matter, the bill must be opposed.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
.- Prior to the suspension of the sitting we heard the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) deal with the bill which is now before the House, and which has for its purpose the establishment of a fisheries development trust account to encourage the development of the fishing industry. The honorable member for Yarra, I understand, belongs to a professional section of the community which dabbles in what it calls the inexact science of economics. T have never previously had very much faith in our economists, and to-day the inexactness of the knowledge of one of the economists, in the person of the honorable member for Yarra, has been proved exactly by his lack of knowledge of anything to do with the fishing industry. He concentrated his attention very largely on so-called monopolies, and sought competition in the fishing field. He criticized the Government for introducing this measure, which he presumes is in order to stifle competition and set up monopolies. The purpose of this bill is precisely the opposite to that which the honorable member for Yarra has suggested. I am happy to be able to say at this stage that only four short weeks ago, speaking from my place in this House, I made what I hoped at that time was a strong appeal to the Government to do something to encourage the development of the fishing industry. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, can imagine my very great pleasure at finding my appeal so early answered in the introduction of the measure which is now before the House.
When speaking at that time, I made some reference to a royal commission of which I was chairman, which had inquired into the fishing industry in Western Australia. I shall describe some of the circumstances of those persons engaged in the industry, as reported by that commission, which comprised members of all parties. The members acted in an honorary capacity and the commission’s report was unanimous. From it the honorable member for Yarra may acquire some knowledge of fishing as an industry. The report which was submitted to the Parliament of Western Australia on the 27th October, .1949, reads, at page 5 -
Because of the hazards attaching to the full time fishing, as a. complete livelihood, combined with the lack of organisation and the consequent economic insecurity, the industry, in the past, has not been an attractive one in which to engage. This has meant that the majority of those who were so employed entered the industry because of circumstances of birth which gave them a connection with or particular interest in it. or those, who were compelled to do so because of limited or denied! opportunity, for engaging themselves in otherdirections. It must be remembered that the hazards attached to off shore fishing arephysically and economically greater than almost any other industry, because the fisherman is completely at the mercy of the weather. Hu must of necessity take risks which involvedanger to life and his equipment. The element of chance also .plays a big part in his operations, particularly in Western Australian, waters on which very little information is available regarding fishing potentialities and much time and labour is spent, and risks taken,, for a very negligible result. In addition to this, the fisherman faces the uncertainty ot marketing and obtaining a reasonable financial reward for his labour. . . . All the fishermen witnesses examined emphasised the need for economic security and it is our opinion that in spite of the hazards and discomforts associated with commercial fishing, the industry will retain and attract good operatives if there is an assurance of a reasonable reward for their labour and their capital outlay.
At page 8 the report continues -
The uncertainty of the nature of the operations was stressed by fishermen. Unlike soil produced foods, fish cannot be harvested at will. Fish must be gathered in, when and wherethey are known to be present. Because of their constant movement, fish not caught at the opportune moment might well not afford another chance. If, therefore, greater supplies of local fish are to be made available to thepublic, every encouragement must be given tothe continuance of fishing operations to themaximum extent while conditions are favourable, and facilities provided to cope with theresultant catches. Under the existing marketing, storage and distribution system, thisencouragement is not possible, and the industry suffers much economic loss whilst the public- finds the supply of fish, at most times, inadequate.
– What was the net result of the inquiry?
– For the information of my friend, the net result was that some of” the recommendations of that report which referred to the activities of the fishermen themselves, were adopted by the fishermen,, and as a result they formed themselvesinto an active co-operative body, but only in part.
– That was a good’ catch !
– It was an excellent catch. It is most unfortunate that honorable members on the Labour side of the House, who are supposed to be the fighters, the stalwarts, the battlers for a class’ cif” people as badly circumstanced as are these fishermen, say that they will reject this bill, which is designed for the sole purpose of assisting the fishermen, the industry, and the nation. I stress that there is no industry anywhere in the world in which those engaged have a greater difficulty in doing their work, face greater hazards, greater danger, and greater risk, with less encouragement than do those men engaged in the fishing industry. They are persons for whom I would expect members of the Australian Labour party to be battling constantly. If one section of the Australian community is suffering from economic conditions and exploitation by every other section of the community, it is the section comprised by fishermen. They are persons whose cause can and must be taken up by some one. Let us look at what the bill proposes to do.
– It is about time the honorable member came to that.
– The honorable member for Yarra spoke to the bill. He ought to have expressed his views then.
– The requirement in the industry is to assist the fishermen themselves. One of the greatest difficulties faced by the average fisherman on our shores is that he is generally obliged to seek financial assistance from the distributor, the wholesaler, or some one else, who imposes conditions which permit him only a pretty miserable living:
– Quite so. Yet my friend, the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser), who says, “Sharks!”, will ally himself with those sharks in denying to the fishermen the assistance which this Government is determined to give. The bill defines the fishing industry which the Government aims to assist. Clause 3 reads-
Inthis Act - “ the fishing industry “ means any industry in connexion with the culture, taking, storing, processing or marketing of -
The bill deals with the encouragement of fishing from its taking, storing and processing, to its marketing. The whole pro,cess involved in the fishing industry is covered. The trust account will be used to assist the industry, one might say, right from the nose of the fish to the tail. Clause 6, which the honorable member for Yarra condemned, provides specifically - (1.) Subject to this Act, moneys standing to the credit of the Accountmay be applied for any of the following purposes : -
I point out that “ the fishing industry “ is defined in the bill, and that the clause from which I have quoted applies to every avenue of activity in the industry. Moreover, the money may be applied, in accordance with paragraph (b), as follows : -
That is the most important aspect of the bill. One of the great weaknesses of the fishing industry is the way in which fishermen depend for financial assistance upon people who rarely see the sea, but take the best part of the catch and leave the fisherman little more than the scales. As the report points out, the fisherman operates under peculiar hazards. He must take the fish when they are in season. I remind honorable members that in our waters fish are not found in abundance all the year round. “When they are available the fisherman goes out to get them and, as might be expected, there is a glutStorage facilities are inadequate and wholesalers store the fish, paying the fisherman very little for them. They hold the fish in store for a comparatively short time, until the season is over, and then release them on the market at exorbitant prices.
Mr.CURTIN. - That is private enterprise for you.
– Of course it is, and the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) will attempt to perpetuate that sort of thing by voting against the bill. It is difficult enough to understand the reason of honorable members opposite at any time, but at the moment it is more difficult than ever. If ever there was an opportunity for the Labour party to do some good for this industry, members of which endure greater hardships than does any other section of the community, this is it. Instead, we find honorable members opposite sitting back and saying, “ We will not have a bar of this and we will vote against it “.
What is needed in the industry? First, something must be done to assist those who are engaged in it. Because of neglect in earlier years inshore fishing is no longer possible and the fisherman must accept the danger of offshore fishing. Instead of tackling the problem at its base all that has been dope is to make a trifling investigation into the quantity of fish in our waters with a view to applying restrictions. Here is an avenue for that research which has been so roundly condemned and sneered at by the honorable member for Yarra. At page 21 of its report, the royal commission stated -
Your Commission is satisfied, however, that whilst estuarine and inshore fishing may be capable of development to a greater degree the scope in this direction is limited. We are therefore convinced that a major expansion of the industry - sufficient to meet adequately the local consumption .potential as well as an export trade - is only possible through the development of off-shore fishing and the introduction of suitable methods of trawling. Evidence given by fishermen of long experience confirms this.
In recent years some investigation has been carried out in this direction by the Fisheries Department and the C.S.I.R. Interesting information, based upon his observations and investigations, has been published by Mr. Fowler-
A private individual - . . and from this it is clear that suitable types of fish and in ample quantity abound in the waters off our coast. Because of the nature of the sca bed off the coast special problems arise in regard to most suitable type of equipment and method for successful trawling. This avenue should continue to be explored and because of the promising nature of the results of investigations so far conducted, the C.S.I.B. should be urged to recommence and intensify their activities in this direction. From a study of the information made available to us, we believe that the waters of the Bight offer much promise in this connexion. Although a trawling venture sponsored by Seafoods Limited, of Albany, proved unsuccessful, we believe this was due largely to lack of knowledge of the special methods and equipment required for operating in these waters. We are given to understand that this company - Seafoods Limited - which is experiencing very great difficulty in obtaining supplies of fish from local sources, has proposals in hand for trawling. Their endeavours will be watched with interest.
– Who said that?
– The chairman of the commission, Mr. H. A. Leslie, the present member for Moore. We spent several months in making an exhaustive inquiry into the industry and our recommendations have been generally accepted as the best basis for giving assistance to the industry. The proposals in the bill are precisely those that we put forward in the report in 1949. I remind honorable members opposite that the report was signed by every member of the committee, including the present Western Australian Minister for Fisheries, who is a member of the Australian Labour party.
– He was a very good member, too.
– He was. I am speaking in the past tense. Marketing problems were also investigated by the commission, and the proposed trust will help to overcome them. Figures published recently by the Commonwealth .Statistician show that Australia’s consumption of fish per head of population is lower than that of any other country in the world. It has been suggested that, because of the cheapness of meat, we are not a fish-eating people. The royal commission had something to say in connexion with the availability of fish. At page 6 of its report it stated - lt has been suggested that we are comparatively not a fish-eating people because of the abundance of meat foods. This suggestion is not tenable for a number of reasons, of which only the most important need he quoted, and that is that fsh in adequate quantity and attractive quality has never been available to the public because of haphazard distribution. For instance, the entire absence of anything in the way of distribution service to country districts has denied country people the opportunity for country people to satisfy an appetite for fish even if only as a change in diet.
Nobody will deny that, apart from that, fish is also a necessary item in the diet in cases of illness. The position is absurd. Australian waters contain a bountiful supply of fish, yet we are a fish-starved people, because this great industry has been utterly and completely neglected in the past. Little sporadic darts and dives have been made in investigations into it, but at no time has anything of a major nature been achieved. First of all, the fishermen have not been assisted and encouraged, and no attempt has been made to advance the fishing industry. No exhaustive investigation has been made into the tremendous damage done to fish breeding grounds in our estuary waters by the establishment of industrial works and the consequent pollution of the waters of those estuaries. Australia is cutting its own fish throat, as it were - and I say that quite sincerely - by allowing industries, for some temporary economic advantage, to be established on sites where nature has provided an abundant, easily obtained food supply. It is because of the non-availability of adequate feeding grounds as a result of the pollution of water, that fish have gone from our shores and that fishermen are required now to develop the industry on an off-shore and deep-sea basis.
Nothing has been done to help the fishing industry. Henceforth, it must be assisted. Fishing grounds must be investigated, and means adopted to encourage fishermen to stay in the industry willingly instead of remaining, as so many of them do to-day, reluctantly. They cannot get out of it because of the millstone around their neck. They are tied hand and food financially to that industry, and have become a struggling mass of people who have to be helped out of that position. Ways and means must be found of storing the fish when it is there in abundance so as to have it available in times of scarcity. It does not matter how greatly we expand our fishing industry; we will not be able to meet for very many years the demand for fish. Yet there is a tremendous export market to be exploited. There is no industry that offers such great opportunities to-day as the fishing industry does.
This bill provides one of the most progressive steps that this Government and this Parliament, except for the Labour party, has taken in the last two decades to assist the economy of the country, to assist the fisherman, to assist the industry and to assist the people in this country. The retail distribution of fish is a haphazard arrangement. Our country districts are starved for fish, yet the distri bution of fish from the coast to country districts throughout the twelve months of the year is not an impossible feat with modern freezing methods. It could be done and it should be done, but it cannot be done while this industry is utterly and completely neglected, and while some people are quite content to see these fishermen relying, as they arc to-day, entirely on their own resources. The fishermen are condemned to continue in that way because of the greed of people such as we see in the Labour party. With their self-centred interest, they refuse to see not an opportunity but an absolute and urgent necessity in connexion with this industry. I am certain that there are people throughout the length and breadth of this country who, if they condemn the Labour party for nothing else, will condemn it for refusing to support this Government in this tremendously forward step that it ia taking in the interests of the industry and in the interests of the people themselves. People in the country districts in particular are fish hungry. Nothing has been done to assist them.
– What about the whaling industry ‘(
– This Government is turning the whaling industry to good account. Let me assure the honorable member that as this action moves forward, instead of a paltry £200,000 a year profit coming into the pockets of this Government, by the use of this money in this trust fund, which I hope, will be a revolving fund, industries worth millions of pounds to this country will be established. There is quibbling over a paltry £200,000 when we are considering something that contains the elements of dire human need, the need of those engaged in the industry.
The human aspect as well as the economic aspect and the national development of this country must be considered. I fail to understand how any honorable member can see anything but good in this proposal. I cannot understand why anybody can quibble over this proposal. The whaling industry certainly has brought a bit of money into somebody’s pocket, and it will carry on in future. Is it of greater interest than the proposals contained in the measure now before the House1? Those who cannot understand the tremendous importance of this measure and fail to appreciate its tremendous significance are certainly not worthy of a place in this House, because of their limited outlook and their Jack of common human interest.
– Stinking fish !
-Order ! The honorable member for KingsfordSmith will obey the Chair when he is called to order.
– As the Holy Writ says, one must forgive them for they know not what they do.
This bill is lacking in one respect, and I ask my friends on the Opposition benches to support me in this. One thing I should like to see it contain is a provision for the creation of a statutory body to carry out the aims of the bill. There is nothing wrong with the bill. At the present time, everything has to go to the Minister, and I have no objection to that. But I want the responsibility for implementing the proposals in this bill to rest on some specific body or organization, and I should like to see the establishment of a statutory body which will implement the very great and human step that this Government is taking.
Before resuming my seat, I want to make reference to clause 8, which reads as follows: -
The Minister shall, at least once in each year, prepare and lay before each House of the Parliament a report as to the operation of this Act during the preceding year.
Speaking as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, I do not entirely favour the creation of trust funds, but I am satisfied to a large degree with the provision of this trust account because the control of Parliament over this purse is preserved in that clause. I commend the Minister and the Government for recognizing their responsibility to the Parliament by including a clause of that kind in this bill. It is one of the very few trust accounts contained in the financial structure of this country that will enable the Parliament to know what is happening with the money in it. This provision will enable Parliament to call to account those who are responsible for administering the fund and the Minister himself, who has the ultimate responsibility.
I support the bill on humane and economic grounds. It will be of great benefit to the individual and the nation. Local consumption and the export trade will be stimulated. The humble fisherman holds his hands up in appeal. I ask every member of this House to support the bill and give it a speedy passage.
Mr. WHITLAM (Werriwa) [8.30J.- 1 listened with great interest to the copious extracts which the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) read from the report of the royal commission in Western Australia over which he presided in 1949. I agree with him about the great contribution which the development of the fisheries of Australia and its - adjacent waters can make to our economy, not only by reducing our expenditure on imports of fish products, which stands at present at £5,600,000 a year, but also by increasing the income we will receive from the sale overseas of the products of our fisheries. I agree with him also that, in the six or more years that have elapsed since the report of that royal commission was brought down, this Government, which has a primary responsibility in such matters, has, in fact, done nothing to develop the fisheries of Australia. It has the sole constitutional responsibility beyond the three-mile limit which is the area in which most of our fish are found and in which our best prospects lie for the future. The Commonwealth has sole responsibility right up to the shoreline in the Northern Territory, and yet in all that time nothing has been done to develop our fisheries in that area. The only thing that any Commonwealth government has ever done directly to develop our sea resources was done by the Chifley Government in 1949, when it established the Australian Whaling Commission.
Before passing from the remarks of th« honorable member for Moore I wish to refer to two of the suggestions he made at the end of his speech, regarding the statutory body to implement this legislation, and the provision for the presentation by it to the Parliament of an’ annual report on its operations. The honorable member has highlighted - perhaps I. should say he has discerned - the great weakness of this legislation, in that it enables the doing of many things. There is nothing which can be done at sea, or in the air above, or in the waters under the sea, which cannot be done under this legislation; but the legislation does not. ensure that any of those things will be done. The creation of some statutory body, such as the splendid Australian Whaling Commission, over whose demise we are being asked to preside, would ensure that something positive, practical and profitable was achieved under the legislation. The honorable member’s other suggestion for the presentation of the statutory authority’s annual report to the Parliament, was salutary. 1 shall have something further to say on that, but at this stage I shall content myself by saying that it is futile to have legislation which requires the presentation of an annual report to the Parliament, unless the report is to be brought down each year before the budget session, or at least, before the debate on the Estimates of the department concerned takes place. As I shall shortly show, in regard to fisheries, this has notoriously not been the case under this Government.
The bill has a certain superficial charm. It provides for the establishment of a fisheries development trust account, and one might think there was nothing wrong with that. In fact, one might think there was much to commend it. But the Opposition will oppose the bill, because the bill is connected with, and conditioned upon, the sale of the Australian Whaling Commission’s enterprise and its assets. That is plain from a reading of the bill itself. It was also made quite plain by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) in his second-reading speech, at the point at which he said -
Should unforeseen circumstances prevent a satisfactory sale being finalized, the legislation will remain on the statute-book until such time as a satisfactory sale of. the enterprise is made.
In other words, the act will remain a dead letter until, and unless, the Whaling Commission’s assets are sold. The Opposition is not going to encourage sinners because they say that at some time in the future they may devote some of their ill-gotten gains to charitable purposes. This bill is merely the bait to make us swallow the next bill listed on the notice-paper, which is to provide for the dissolution of the Australian Whaling Commission.
There are, I suppose, some features of the bill about which it would he churlish to cavil. But there was no indication of this bill given in the Speech delivered by the Governor-General when he was opening the Parliament. In fact, this bill, I venture to say, would never have been presented to the Parliament but for the Opposition’;-! proposed addendum to the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech, lt was because of the Opposition’s stand on that occasion that the Government decided to quiet public cricitism to a certain extent by proposing that the money derived from the sale of the whaling enterprise should be appropriated to some specific and. praiseworthy purpose. Again, one may bo thankful that in this regard the Government has improved on file technique it has shown in connexion with its disposal of other comparable enterprises. As you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will remember, in 1951, the Commonwealth’s interest in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) “Limited was disposed of, although in the preceding year of the company’s operation the government of the day had made a profit of £150,000 on an investment of only £709,000. You will remember also that in the following year the Commonwealth’s interests in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited was disposed of, although it had made a profit of £257,000 in its last financial year of operation. The investment by the Government in that company was £850,000. On this occasion the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission are being disposed of for £880,000.
– How much did they cost us?
– The Commonwealth invested, in the commission’s fixed assets a sum of £1,080,000. That means that the Commonwealth is to receive 880,000 Menzies pounds for something that cost 1,080,000 Chifley pounds. That would appear sufficiently remarkable in connexion with a business which was barely breaking even;, but this- business in the last five years has made net profits of about £1,000,000. I give these figures from the Minister’s second-reading speech. An enterprise which in five years made a net profit of about £1,000,000 is being sold for £8S0,000.
– Are those figures which the honorable member is quoting authentic?
– I trust they are authentic. I am quoting them from the Minister’s second-reading speech. Of course, the last report of the Australian Whaling Commission for its financial year ended the 31st March last is not available. In four years or slightly more, the successful tenderer can expect to recoup fully its capital outlay. That is, before it has completed making the payments under a contract which has not been tabled and which, I suppose, will not be tabled for us to inspect its details, it will, in fact, have recouped in profits the full amount of its capital expenditure.
– Is it paying cash, or buying the enterprise on terms?
– It is buying the enterprise on terms, and is getting it at less than the average bank overdraft rate of interest. It is investing in a complete certainty. Because the quota of whales to be caught by operators in this country is fixed by the Commonwealth, it is most unlikely that the commission, whose assets are being acquired by a Western Australian company, will be deprived of its quota. The company which is acquiring the assets has an equal quota of its own and it will, after its acquisition of the commission’s assets, have easily the largest quota in Australia. Indeed, it will have twice the quota enjoyed by any other company.
It will have what the commission described, in its 1954 report, as the most modern establishment of its type in the world, and it will have the certainty, therefore, of an assured stake in an industry which was established by public enterprise, and which is insured by public quotas. It will, therefore, have an assured profit which, in a little over four years, will completely reimburse it for its capital expenditure.
– It will have to reckon with a future government for its license rights.
– The Australian. Constitution provides that, when the Commonwealth acquires property, it will pay just terms for it. Unfortunately, the Constitution makes no provision thar, when the Commonwealth disposes of property it shall secure just terms for it. The courts have laid down a general rule that “ just terms “ means that a person whose property is being acquired shall receive the amount which a willing, but not anxious, vendor would receive on the open market. That test, of course, does not apply in the present case, because the vendor whose asset is being acquired is not a “ willing but not anxious “ vendor - but is a willing and most anxious vendor. The Government is anxious, and has been for some years, to dispose of this asset. If a provision for just terms were in the Constitution, the Government could be called to account, as it would have been in regard to the sale of its interests in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, those two other great public enterprises through which the Commonwealth, 30 or 40 years ago, pioneered the radio and refining industries in this country, and from which it withdrew on the threshold of new expansion in television and refining.
– It looks like a swindle.
– I would not blink at that term. The bill ensures that the embarrassment which the Government has suffered on this occasion will not occur again, because never again will there be the necessity for a government to present to the Parliament a bill to wind up one of these public corporations.
– Is the honorable member referring to the Fishing Industry Bill or the Whaling Industry Act Repeal Bill?
– I am referring to the matter that is referred to in both bills, as did the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who introduced both bills and who dealt with both matters in his second-reading speeches. It is impossible to differentiate between the two bills. The Minister was unable to do so, and nobody took the point against him.
Mr. Pollard interjecting,
– Order ! The honorable member for Lalor must remain quiet.
– Why do you not keep your colleague quiet?
– Order ! The honorable member for Lalor is persistently interjecting.
– Well, keep your own colleague quiet.
– Order ! The honorable member for Lalor will apologize for disobedience to the Chair.
– If you keep your colleague quiet-
– Order ! The honorable member will apologize unconditionally for disobedience to the Chair, or I will name him.
– I apologize.
– The bill does not provide for the setting up of a separate statutory body to supervise the expenditure of any of these moneys. It does not provide, therefore, for a report to be made to the Parliament on the dissolution of any such body. The Parliament will not be able to discuss the matter, because it need not be consulted on the formation and liquidation of such bodies in the future. By that means, the Government will avoid the embarrassment that it has experienced on this occasion. The Australian Whaling Commission could be got rid of only by passing an act, and therefore, the Parliament had to be given an opportunity to discuss the matter. In the future, the scrutiny of the Parliament will be avoided.
The Government probably still would have done nothing about the fisheries if it were not for the fact that the Japanese have shown an interest in the tuna fisheries in the Coral Sea and the South Pacific Ocean. The Government took action in regard to the pearl fisheries, too, only when the Japanese re-appeared in that field a few years ago following their retreat from it during World War II. I daresay that some useful contributions on that subject will be made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who will, follow me to-night. I believe that during the adjournment he was briefed by an eminent maritime authority in the person of the Japanese Ambassador to Australia just as the honorable member for Moore, who preceded me in this debate - I saw this incident myself, but I did not see the former one - was briefed during the adjournment by another maritime authority, the Minister for Trade.
There has been, and there still is, no reason why the Government should defer the development of fisheries until it has disposed of the Whaling Commission. It has always had at its disposal for investigating fisheries an excellent instrument in the form of the Fisheries Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. It has also always had the opportunity, at least beyond the 3-mile limit, to engage in fishing and to set up such authorities as the Australian Whaling Commission. To judge the Government’s bona’ fides in this respect, one has only to read the annual reports of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and in particular the references to the Fisheries Division, which has its head-quarters at Cronulla on Port Hacking. I believe that before the Chifley Government went out of office, Mr. Chifley, who was then Treasurer, had approved the expenditure of £200,000 for the provision of a new oceanographic vessel for the Fisheries Division. I shall trace through the annual reports of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization just what happened to that project. The annual report for 1950-51 stated -
It is planned to extend the oceanographic^! work of the Division and for this purpose preliminary plans were prepared ; for an approximately 175-ft. oceanographical research vessel to be constructed in Great Britain.
In the report for the following year appeared this passage : -
Pending the commissioning of the trawler.oceanographical vessel at present under design there has been some decrease in the deep sea research of the Division.
We could make no comment on that statement, because that report was presented on the 5th November, 1952, after the conclusion of the debate on the budget and the Estimates. The report for 1952-53 contained the following passage -
Oceanographical studies were again limited to coastal waters, and this must continue until the projected new ISO-ft. trawleroceanographic vessel goes into commission.
Once again, there was nothing that we could say, because the report was not presented until the 18th November, 1953. Then, in the report for 1953-54 the following statement appeared -
During the year the studies have again been restricted to coastal waters because the Division has only two small research vessels. Consideration is being given to the provision of a trawler-type oceanographic vessel to extend the work seawards.
Nothing could be done on that occasion, either, because the report was not presented to the Parliament until the 4th November, 1954. The next report was presented to the Parliament on the 20th October last, but it has not been printed and is not available to honorable members. One can infer, however - and I speak from personal knowledge - that the whole matter was shelved. The former director of the Fisheries Division became ill and retired. The Commonwealth took more than a year to appoint his successor, who assumed duty only about a month ago. In the meantime, because of inflation, the vessel which Mr. Chifley expected to cost £200,000 in 1949 was expected to cost £350,000 in 1953. The lowest tender received was £400,000. Consequently, the Treasury rejected the tender. Many of the good features of the proposed vessel were drastically pruned, and it was believed that it could then be constructed for £250,000. The modified project was submitted in 1953 to the Minister who was in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
– Who was the Minister in :.1953?
– The present Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). He was abroad for much of that year, and when he was in Australia he was more interested in external affairs. The other Minister concerned, the present Minister for Trade, who was then Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, was also away for much of that time, and had not then developed his interest in the sea. Accordingly, nothing was done.
– He had not developed his interest in the deep sea.
– No, not in the deep sea. We have waited for six and a half years and have been furnished with report after report which have shown that the research activities of the Fisheries Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization have been restricted because it has not had the wherewithal to conduct them.
The division has only one operational ship, Derwent Hunter, which is 75 feet long and which can cruise for only 1,800 miles. It has also sails, which sufficiently indicate its vintage, which permit it to embark on a cruise extending over 2,000 miles. Even if it is stated that they are nautical miles, the fact remains that it is still unable to remain at sea for very long. It can store only 400 gallons of water, has a crew of eight men, and is too small to have a laboratory aboard. Accordingly, any specimen fish that are caught must be analysed and processed ashore. It is too small to carry the trawling gear. One can see therefore that the utility value of this vessel for deep-sea fishing or for research is severely limited, and that for both the fish and the crew it is most unsuitable.
I shall compare the overseas position. The United States Navy has ten larger ships than ours engaged on fishing research, and the Fish and Wild Life Services of the American Department of the Interior, which corresponds to the Fisheries Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, has nine such vessels of larger size. The United States coastline is considerably shorter than ours. The Minister made some reference to South Africa. South Africa has a larger ship than we have planned and sought for the last six years, and it has had it since 1950. One has only to read the reports of the South African Fisheries Development Corporation to learn what a great contribution it has made to the wealth of the country. I need not deal with all the countries bordering on the North Sea, the great fishing area of the world. They have studiously pursued research and have seen the need to have the ships and equipment to do it.
Therefore, I say there is no need for the Government to bring in this bill or to devote money from the sale of the Whaling Commission in order to secure a research vessel. The amount of money required would only be a fraction of the annual appropriation for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The lack of bona fides of the Government is well shown by its delay in carrying out the research which is covered by clause 6 of the bill. There is nothing mentioned in that clause which could not already have been carried out by the Government, through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which should not have been carried out by the Government during its six years of office and which might not have been carried out if the annual reports of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization had been made available to us in time for us to discuss them.
The remaining point I wish to make is that the Commonwealth always has had the constitutional power to operate ships and engage in fishing development - whether in relation to pearls, whales or any other kind of fish - beyond the threemile limit. The Commonwealth is the first body which has engaged in that development. Private enterprise has not been interested in it. Private enterprise has been so little interested in developing Australian fisheries that we have not had a new trawler on the Australian coast since the 1920’s, as the Minister himself has pointed out. There are no trawlers being constructed in any Australian shipyard, and there are no trawlers being built overseas to the order of any Australian shipping company or shipping operator. Accordingly, it is up to the Commonwealth to do this work. The Commonwealth did it successfully with the Australian Whaling Commission, and it can do it equally successfully with any other form of maritime exploitation. Apparently the attitude of the Government is that the Commonwealth should take the risks and then, when a venture has been established and shown to be profitable, private persons should reap the profits. The argument for the large profits made by private enterprise used to be that they were necessary to compensate private enterprise for the risks that it took. But after this bill has been passed, it will never again be necessary for Australians to risk their capital in fishing development, because they will bn investing in a certainty. The Commonwealth will do all the research and exploitation, and take all the risks. Then, when the thing has been established, it will bc quickly disposed of to private enterprise. Surely that is doctrinaire desocialization run berserk.
To sum up, the Labour party cannot support this bill. It is inextricably tied up with the disposal of the Australian Whaling Commission, which, as the Minister himself had to concede, was a new departure in Australia. It has been a splendidly successful public enterprise which, in the five years during which it has been allowed to operate, has practically repaid its capital cost. Now it is being sold for less than the profits made in those five years, and for less than the money expended in building up its assets. Furthermore, it is not necessary to have this bill in order to develop Australia’s fisheries, to study them and to exploit them. That could have been done by the Commonwealth. It could have been done by private enterprise at any time since the Commonwealth was established. It could have been done by private enterprise before the Commonwealth was ever dreamed of. In addition, the Commonwealth itself, by its studied neglect of the Fisheries Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, has shown that its heart is not really in the investigation and development of these resources. This bill is mere bait, and we are not going to fall for it.
– When the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) commenced his speech, I thought that he was going to have the grace to be a little reluctant and to be a little ashamed of his party’s opposition to the bill. I was wrong. As he developed his argument, I saw that he was relishing his part, in the same way as the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), who preceded him in the socialist interest and, with dry and passionless pleasure, went about preaching the gospel of Marxism to the fishes in the sea. Apparently the honorable member for Werriwa did not see the lack of coherence in his remarks and the contra- dictions inherent in them. He castigated previous governments, including Labour governments, for not having done more to develop our fisheries, and at the same time he castigated this Government for taking steps to get the financial resources necessary to go on with that development. He cannot have it both ways.
Let us look first at the question of the disposal of this whaling venture. It was set up by a Labour government. Let me say that I think that it was well set up and that it has served its purpose. It has shown that whaling can still be conducted profitably on the Australian coasts, i say still, because whaling was one of our earliest industries. From the developmental point of view, there i3 nothing t.o be gained by keeping on with this venture, because the output is limited by the number of whales that can be taken in a season. No further development is possible because at present an artificial ceiling - perhaps a very proper artificial ceiling - is imposed on production. There is nothing further to be done developmentally along those lines. Therefore, is not it reasonable to take out this money, which has served its purpose very well, and put it into new departments of the fishing industry where there is a chance of further forward development?
This venture is being sold- at a value which is in line with independent valuations and with the book value. It is being sold for the sum of £880,000. It is not being sold by an anxious seller. It is being sold to the highest bidder after negotiations which, in one form or another, have gone on for some years. The Western Australian Government, a Labour government, valued the enterprise at, £620.000. That was what that Government though it was worth. We are getting £880,000 for it, or £260.000 more. The, price is reasonable. It is higher than the price which the Labour Government of Western Australia was prepared to pay for a venture in that State. The station is being sold to the highest bidder after long negotiations in which anybody could have taken part. When we look at the matter, we see that this Government has done, a good stroke of business by getting rid, at a fair price, of a venture which has no further developmental significance, so that the money can be put into new ventures which could have great developmental significance. The House should realize how great are our potentialities. Honorable members on both sides, during the course of this debate, have drawn attention to those potentialities. .Government supporters have done so without reservation, while speakers on the Labour side have failed to realize that what they have been saying runs counter to the whole of their opposition to this bill. They did not realize that they were spoiling the case that they were trying to make.
Where do the opportunities lie? We must realize that we have exploited our marine wealth to a very limited extent. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Brand) earlier in this debate mentioned the great harvest of prawns that is being taken along the east coast of Australia. I think that he may have been wrong in claiming that the best of the prawns came from Queensland. I think it is probable that the best of them come from New South Wales. But that is a matter of opinion. What is not a matter of opinion is that those prawns have been available ever since the white man has been in Australia, but we have not known about them. They represent a resource that has been untapped and unused, and they are not a sole resource. There are other products of a like nature that lie at hand, ready to bring wealth to us, both by providing substitutes for the expensive fish that we import for our present consumption, and also by making possible exports of seafoods. What do honorable members say, for example, of the export of lobster tails from Western Australia? That, is a most commendable development, hut why did it not take place many years ago? The reason is that, although the resources were there, we did not know about them.
Those of us who have had an opportunity to talk with the technical officers of the Fisheries Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Orga.uiza.tion know that nobody has very much information about the resources that lie off the Australian coast. I think it is true to say that our inshore fisheries are of only very limited extent, and, in point of fact, they may even have been over-fished. But Our inshore fisheries are only a small part of our potential wealth. Prawns and crayfish have assumed greater importance, but what about the onshore fishes, and those that come in in schools, and which have not yet been properly exploited? Consider, for instance,’ our salmon. An excellent smoked salmon can be prepared from the fish that may be taken off the east coast of Australia. It is a reproach to private enterprise that this has not been done to a greater extent than it has in the past. The Government should enter the field, in order to develop our national wealth so as to raise the standard of living of everybody on the east coast of Australia. With government assistance the smoked salmon industry could be given a firm foundation. Pilchards and other school fishes are present in their millions. There are schools of them that cover acres, anil even square miles, but we do not know very much about their habits. We do nor, know enough about those habits to make secure and profitable a large-scale industry based upon those fishes. If we are to develop these large-scale industries, which will give employment to large numbers of fishermen and make available cheap and good food for the people who live, as most Australians do, on our east const, then we must make an intensive investigation in order to understand the potentialities of our fishing industry, to obtain knowledge of the fluctuations that occur, seasonal and otherwise, and to provide a secure foundation upon which to establish a permanent industry. This is the kind of thing that governments can and should do, in order to help private industry. I do not necessarily mean large private organizations, because they can afford to carry out their own investigations, the results of which are not necessarily available to the small individual fisherman or the small group of fishermen. Surely this is a field which the Government can enter in order to help the small producers particularly. A large company fan undertake its own long-term research, but the small individual fisherman, who works from Wollongong or Ulladulla or Broken Bay, cannot afford to carry ou*. those investigations, from which he would derive only a small proportion of the profit, because the knowledge obtained in such investigations must be made available to a very large number of producers. By taking action along these lines the Government will, to a considerable extent, help to overcome our economic difficulties and to improve the balance of trade position, besides raising real living standards for all Australians.
I shall now refer to what appears to me to be the main opportunity available to us in the development of our fishing industry. 1 refer to tuna fishing. We know very little about the potentialities of Australian tuna, because we have neve carried out any investigation at a distance from the coast. We know that there are three dominant species, the northern blue fin, the southern blue fin, which appears somewhat similar to the former fish but is really quite different, and the albacore. The latter, which is the prime fish according to American tastes, ha: been caught in only small numbers in Australia, but we have never tried to take albacore far from shore. In point of fact, nobody knows whether this type of fish is present in commercial quantities, although it is reasonable to suppose that this is the case. The southern blue fin is an excellent fish. It is nearly as good as the albacore. In fact some experts consider it superior, although it has not the? same prestige on the overseas market a? the albacore. It can be caught, as we now know, off the coast of New South Wales, and off the south coast of Australia, from Port Lincoln into the Great Australian Bight. I have talked on this subject with the American experts who were brough’ to Australia by Mr. Playford, the Premier of South Australia, to investigate these matters. I understand that the southern blue fin may be easier to catch than any tuna which is commercially fished in other parts of the world. Only a couple of weeks ago I visited PorLincoln, and I talked with the Jangaards who were expert American fishermen brought out by Mr. Playford to te?t the South Australian ground. Although they did not come into contact with any really large schools of tuna, they did say that the biting qualities of the southern blue fin were better than those of any tuna they had ever fished previously. These were people who were as experienced in tuna fishing as any one in the world is.
The fish were easier to catch in South Australia, and, therefore, it should be cheaper to catch them. But we do not know how regularly they come, and we do not know exactly where they are. Nor do we know how big the schools are. We hear tales - I think they are well authenticated in regard to South Australia at least - that big schools come in every year. The experts believe that to be true, and I do also, but we are not certain of it. We do not know as yet. The southern blue fin is caught also off the east coast of New South Wales. The catching conditions there are, in some ways, not so good as they are in South Australia. The weather is perhaps a little rougher, and the harbours are not so good. The fish are a little smaller, but, on the other hand, from our knowledge and records, we can rely on them more on the east coast of New South Wales than, we can off the south coast of South Australia. This probably - I emphasize the word ‘”’ probably “ - is because we do not yet knowenough about them. I think there is already working, out from the port of Eden in southern New South Wales, a Fisheries Division vessel that is going to try to unravel the tale of tuna. We do not know where they come from. We do not know what their movements are. We do not know what are the controlling factors that determine their various courses in the sea. In South Australia, work would have to he done at some future time to obtain this knowledge. Therefore, although I do not think the prospects in .South Australia are as well established as are the prospects on the oast coast of New South Wales, there is some reason to think that, when we know more about the South Australia tuna, they will prove to be even better than are the tuna off the east coast of New South Wales. All we can say is that we do not know. That brings me to the point I wish to make : How vast is our ignorance of these things ! It is only a few years, relatively, since the first tuna were recorded in these waters. Yet they have, no doubt, been here -in shoals ever since the white man first came to Australia.
I wish now to make one or two practical suggestions about the ways in which we should quickly extend our knowledge. First. T believe, that Ave must have aerial co-operation with the exploring boats. I do not say for one moment that the whole job can be done from the air. But, from the air, one can see the schools working and can see where the fish are. Aerial observation needs to be verified by work from .boats. The aeroplane and the boat must work as a team. By using aerial observation, we can divide by a large factor the number of years that it will take us to ascertain for certain the whereabouts and the habits of the tuna. I believe that, if we spend our money wisely, we shall undertake aerial observation on a far greater scale than we have done in the past. I think that, sometime before World War II., Mr. Fowler made an aerial survey on behalf of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. It was a short survey, and the facilities available to him were not very great. His work should be extended and put on a permanent basis. We should make greater use of our Air Force in this regard. We have coastal air bases from which training flights are made. Surely it is not beyond the ingenuity of our administrators to co-ordinate the two activities so that Air Force training can be made com piemen tary to observations of the characteristics and distribution of Australian fish. That applies particularly to the cast coast of New South Wales, where the naval air station at Nowra would be ideal for the work. This technique should bo used and extended without delay also in South Australia, particularly in the Great Australian Bight.
– The services were used for this work about thirteen years ago in Western Australia.
– Exactly. Perhaps we could use the Navy, also. We have, been told this evening that £250,000 or £400,000 is to be allocated for the construction of a fisheries vessel. Perhaps a Naval vessel could do some of the work required. This applies particularly to hydrographic work. Biological work may be a little outside the naval sphere, but surely hydrographic work is within the compass of an ordinary naval vessel. It is very important work. During the last few weeks, the Fisheries Division has set itself the task of trying to unravel the mysteries of the currents and the movements of the water masses about the east coast of Australia. I have not sufficient technical qualifications to be able to say whether the programme it has set itself is the correct one. However, I do know that, in all these off-shore fishery questions, the movement of water masses in of prime importance, since it would seem that, in most cases, the fish tend to congregate at what is called the interfaces, that is, the line of junction of two water masses of similar characteristics of temperature or salinity. Therefore, 1 suggest that we should use aerial observation very much more than we have been using it. We should try to integrate the Air Force and the Navy into the survey work. I hope, also, that, in the expenditure of the money allocated to the Fisheries Development Trust Account, the Government will see fit to undertake a limited number of major projects rather than to fritter all the money away on » number of very small projects. Each one of these very small projects may be excellent, .’ind I know it is very hard to resist sectional pressures, but we have scon from the example of our whaling venture that, if we can concentrate on one thing, we can successfully develop a permanent industry. That having been done, the revolving fund can then be applied to the next valuable project. 1 am sorry to have detained the House so long.
.- In making a few observations on this measure, I wish to indicate, in the first instance, that, in my view, all the special pleadings that Government supporters have made in support of this measure have failed to justify the Government’s actions in relation to this proposal. The bill, of course, is closely allied with the Whaling Industry Act Repeal Bill 1956. All of the special pleading that has been made regarding the small fishermen along the coastline of Australia can bring no help to those who are in some extremity and who should have assistance. The suggestions of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) are not likely to advantage the smaller people in the industry which is. we acknowledge, an extremely important one. not only to this country. but also to territories adjacent to our continent.
This legislation will not advantage those who were mentioned by the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) when he sought to reprove the Opposition for its unwillingness to be caught with this kind of bait. Something more substantial is required to convince members of the Opposition of the good faith of the Government. As I have said, those who are engaged in the fishing industry in a small way are not likely to be advantaged by this legislation. The second-reading speech that was delivered by the Minister contains the following statement, which is, in itself, very eloquent and very convincing : -
Sufficient is already known of our fish resources to indicate the development opportunities which exist, although there is still a definite need for further exploratory work. However, the main requirements for an extension of the industry into new types of fishing are large-scale investment and the application of new techniques of fishing.
Ah yes ! This is all going to give an advantage to those who can bring large investment into the industry, and it will not specially advantage those who are ito a smaller way of business. This action is consistent with the action that the Government has already taken in regard to certain public utilities which have been making handsome profits for this country but which have been sacrified by this Government to the advantage of private interests and, particularly, of private monopolies. The organizations that are mentioned in this bill on which public money will be expended will ultimately meet the same fate as other public utilities to which I have referred and which have become a source of advantage to a few wealthy interests that exercise great influence and power in regard to certain monopolistic operations.
This is quite a remarkable technique that has been introduced into the affairs of our Commonwealth. I refer to the technique by which the moneys of the Commonwealth have been used to provide a proving ground so that private interests may exploit for their own purposes the facilities that have been made available at the expense of the people. If it be said that this country has been advantaged by the sale of an undertaking that is correlated with this legislation, my reply is that the sale for £880,000 of an undertaking that is worth over £1,000,000 is too absurd for any sensible person to give a moment’s consideration to it. This undertaking was making a profit which amounted to between 20 per cent, and 25 per cent, of the money that had been expended upon it. That profit benefitted the revenues of this country after allowance had been made for interest and depreciation. It is not possible for the Government to explain in convincing words the reasons why it has sacrificed the public interests by the sale of this undertaking. Here is a venture on which the Government has spent over £1,000,000. Yet the Government has sacrificed that venture for £8S0,000. It is an undertaking which, after allowance is made for depreciation and interest payments, has made a profit of £200,000 a year. Yet the Government has found it convenient to afford a monopoly an opportunity of fastening its tentacles upon this undertaking in order to exploit it at the expense of the people. This action demands some public examination. lt is peculiar that the Government has utilized a principle that has been constantly derided and condemned by its supporters, the principle of establishing public undertakings. It has used this principle as the means whereby it could ascertain whether an industry could be successful and whether private industry would be justified in taking it over. The statements that have been made by honorable gentlemen opposite who have tried to justify this legislation have actually constituted a condemnation of the measure which is only a cover-up for the curious nature of the sacrifice of a public enterprise by the Government. The money that will be secured from the sale of the whaling undertaking is to be placed in a fund which is to be used in order to finance the exploration of the fishing possibilities around, the coast of this country. It is remarkable that this discovery is so belated. These possibilities, which have existed from the commencement of life in this country prove, at this late hour, to be of such tremendous importance as to require the sacrifice of an important industry to make moneys available to develop the fishing industry. If condemnation were needed of the Government’s lack of appreciation of its responsibilities, surely it is to be found in the declarations and special pleadings of its supporters in regard to this matter at this time. The House should realize that there is something very unreal in the attitude of Government supporters in attempting to justify the disposal of the whaling industry to facilitate further investigation into another phase of the fishing industry. They say that it will be possible for smaller operatives in the industry to obtain some very essential help so that their way of life may be made more attractive and desirable than it is at present. I am afraid that honorable members opposite, their policies and their methods, are too well known for the House to be reassured. Therefore, we need some further expressions by the responsible Minister on the principal purpose behind the Government’s action.
When this money has been expended to prove the possibilities of fishing areas in the seas surrounding this country, the point will be reached where the Government will say, “ This has served its purpose. We will sell out this facility, station, or other equipment, which we have been able to establish, so that some private individual, or group of individuals, may gain an advantage at the expense of the wider Australian community “. Such a course has the effect merely of sacrificing the well-being of those people to protect whom we are sent here. I have no doubt that after the Government has disposed of another such industry which might be proved by public enterprise to be successful, the money so acquired will be applied towards providing further proof of the existence of another field that may be exploited. The Government’s attitude is so unreal and lacking in appreciation of important aspects that I cannot believe that, honorable members opposite are seised of the real purpose of the bill in their readiness to give support to a measure which is so unfortunate in its effect upon public well-being and public assets. Public moneys are to be expended to the advantage or otherwise of certain industries, not in a wider sense, but in such a way that possibly a favoured few are to be given the opportunity of exploring further and developing industries which have already been proved basically to be very profitable. The Australian people are to be denied the profits which should rightly accrue to them, and no doubt an excessive price will be charged to the Australian people for the product which they will have to purchase.
Honorable members opposite are surely lacking in their public duty if they are prepared to accept legislation of this kind. Commonwealth powers in relation to fishing apply only beyond the limit of miles from our coastline. The waters within, that limit, where there is an abundance of fish, will not be the subject of the provisions of this legislation. The various State Governments have fishery departments. The Minister has made no mention of any consultation with State fishery departments. There is no indication that any support will be afforded to State Governments in furthering the fishing industry in their States. Who should know the possibilities of fishing in the waters adjacent to the States better than the local administrators, who have had the responsibility and duty over the years to develop the various fishery departments? Apart from the Northern Territory and the islands adjacent to Australia, responsibility in the main will lie with State Governments and not the Australian Government. The Commonwealth’s jurisdiction is restricted to waters beyond the 3-mile limit, and therefore it has not the completeness of right or of legal sanction to undertake the purposes for which this legislation is designed. Those aims, therefore, are not capable of being brought to fruition. The Commonwealth cannot fulfil the purpose of developing industries which are essential if the potentialities of fishing are to be fully exploited. That being so, I ask honorable members opposite to reconsider their attitude to this legislation.
A most excellent speech was delivered to-night by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), who gave some telling facts regarding the effect of this legislation and the industry generally, reviewed in the light of reports made by persons who had been appointed to examine the subject. The House would be very well served, the country protected against the sacrifice of a most important industry, and public funds conserved to the continued advantage of Consolidated Revenue, by a continuation of operations in an industry that can become one of the most important in this country. We have available along our coastline all the facilities that we need, but unfortunately this Government, as a result of lack of interest and initiative, has failed to appreciate the opportunities that lie at hand. It took a Labour government such as we had under Mr. Chifley to seize that opportunity. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who is sitting at the table this evening, was then the responsible Minister and he gave this country the great whaling industry that it has to-day. That industry has proved so successful that its future is now at issue in this Parliament. The time has come to challenge the intentions of this Government with all the might at our command.
I wish to tell the honorable member for Lalor how much I appreciated his splendid speech in justification of the legislation that he formerly introduced, and also his contribution as an administrator to the success of this industry, of which he was virtually the founder. I hope that the House will appreciate the salient points made by the Opposition and vote this legislation out. It does not serve the public interest or reveal any way in which those who should legitimately be helped will derive advantage from the moneys that will be provided to expand the fishing industry.
.- 1 seldom interject but I sometimes marvel at my restraint in the face of ignorant and narrow-minded remarks such as we have heard from the last speaker. Labour supporters say that they believe in the Australian way of life - the life of free enterprise - but it is frightening to contemplate their illogical arguments in support of that contention. The last speaker described, as evil the use of public funds to establish an industry for the sake of a few individuals. Does he not realize that if those individuals make a success of the. industry the public purse will benefit through taxation, and that exports of fish will improve our balance of- payments ? Is lie trying to destroy our economy ? *[Quorum formed. *
Honorable members opposite Iia ve conducted a very insidious attack upon the system of free enterprise. Honorable members will have noticed that all my colleagues have assailed the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). They have done so because he is the chief exponent of the subtle method of trying to destroy free enterprise. Honorable members opposite, by attacking free enterprise, constantly put us on the defensive. It has been proved in many countries that free enterprise brings the greatest good to the greatest number, but honorable members opposite cannot tell us where socialism has been successfully practised. In supporting that creed they are obviously out to destroy our existing way of life. Their method is to attempt to put us in the wrong so that we must defend ourselves. I challenge them to show me one country in which, since man has been civilized, the socialist, or collective, system has proved better for the common man than the private enterprise system. All the collective systems stem from the same socialist stalk. We have fascism, nazism, communism and socialism. Why do honorable members opposite not adopt a more positive approach and say, “You have done the wrong thing. This is how we would do it under socialism”.. The truth is that under socialism every trade is in the hands of the Government, the bureaucrat is supreme, and man is a serf. Has history ever shown that socialism has been practised with success and that free people have survived? That is the approach we should make to every proposition that comes before this House. The Australian way of life is being attacked, but it is high time people woke up and defended it. If others think that there is a better way of life they should prove it before attempting to ruin our existing system.
The honorable member for Yarra and the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) spoke about monopolies. Unfortunately, the great anti-monopoly king, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) is not here. What are these great monopolies? The great majority are made up of small investors and I have yet to be shown that they hurt anybody. Australia’s greatest monopoly is the trade union movement. The worker must give up his political freedom in order to survive in the economic field. What freedom is there in Australian trade unions? One of the reasons why the Labour party opposes this bill is that those who are engaged in the fishing industry are considered to be small capitalists who are free, and not dominated by trade union bosses. The whole of our daily life revolves around the trade unions, which everlastingly seek greater power so that they may mount on the backs of the people and keep them in subjection. That is the true story behind Labour’s opposition to this bill.
This bill is a good bill. The honorable member for Yarra has spoken about it. Honorable members will recall how he discussed it. He examined each line. He complained that he was not told this, he was not told that. Why is that ? Because he is a man who is a complete socialist at heart. That is why honorable members on this side of the House, as soon as he speaks, feel their hackles rise. They see in him an enemy to our way of life. He wants a centralized blueprint where every single thing is planned. We know that the present system of private enterprise and marketing is the most efficient in the world. He wants to alter it.
We have also heard the honorablemember for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who has been complimented by the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin). He wants to support the socialist system, too. He quietly makes little false statements so easily. He says, “Look, the Australian Whaling Commission has made a profit of £200,000 a year. Its assets are to be sold for £880,000, equivalent to four and a half years’ profit It is so easy ; we all accept it. People on the air think that the price seems very cheap. But does that statement allow for the taxes that the private companies pay to the Government? No! That would make his story false. What does the company pay in tax? If it makes £200,000 a year, it must pay company tax. When Labour members talk in such a way, they are definitely misleading the public.
The same applies to the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam). Did not the honorable member for Werriwa say that in four years the company would recover, by way of profits, the amount that it paid for the undertaking? That is false, because it has to pay company tax. The purchase money will not be recovered in four years. It is so easy to make these statements. The socialists always make simple statements like that, and we have to refute them. Why cannot they stick to the truth ? Why cannot they come out on election day and say that they want a system that is similar to the Russian system, where the Government does all the trading and everybody is a serf. All they say is, in effect, “ We will try to gain office, using the ordinary system of the Australian way of life, and then quietly destroy that way of life. We therefore are opposed to the sale of the whaling industry because the more there is under government control, the quicker it is to get socialism “.
– Does the honorable member believe that?
– Of course I do! What is the Labour party’s objective? Its objective is the socialization of industry, production, distribution and exchange - a little paragraph taken out of Karl “Marx’s Communist manifesto.
I now come back to the bill. This measure is designed to improve new industries by research, by assistance with capital and by every possible endeavour so that the people who cannot afford to do the research - mostly small fishermen - will have the work done for them. There are exactly comparable conditions existing in government institutions to-day in the States. In the farming industry, there are experimental farms, where new ways and new methods to improve farming are sought. The honorable member for Yarra forgot that. His idea is that if the Government spends any money at all so that individuals will benefit, as they do in agricultural research, then the people’s money is being exploited by the individual. On the same reasoning, universities can be condemned. There, at government expense, youths are trained to be doctors, and then when they are doctors they are let loose to exploit the public. That is the reasoning of honorable members opposite. It is high time they saw the bill in the proper perspective.
There is nothing wrong with the bill. There is nothing wrong with the sale of the whaling undertaking. It has served its purpose.
The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Brand) spoke very lucidly and eloquently to-day on the possibilities of fishing on the Queensland coast. The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) dealt with the Western Australian coast. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) 3poke in an extraordinarily constructive manner about ways in which this money can bc used to develop our country.
We can increase our exports. To mc, it is a severe indictment that we are importing fish to the value of £5,600,000. and exporting fish to the value of £1,800,000. That is a shocking indictment and, in fact, the honorable member for Werriwa challenged it. He asked what we were doing. What has he been doing in Opposition? Why have not his colleagues raised this matter in the last five years? What are they paid for? They have no difficulties of government., as we have. They are sitting there comfortably, and are not using their brains. The honorable member cited America asan example. He said that America was able to produce spendid ships, and give assistance to the fishing industry. Of course America can! They have no Labour party in America. That is why. He also cited South Africa. They artable to do so much more in South Africa for people engaged in shipping. Why? Because South Africa has no Labour party. It is only we in this country who are cursed with people who cannot understand the true job of an opposition, though their rightful place is in opposition. They are not doing their true job. Why did they not raise in the last five years the question of fishing?
There is also to be considered the position of the fishing industry in the States. Five of the six States have been under Labour control since this Government has been in office. What have they done for the fishing industry? They have actually destroyed some fishing, because they have permitted waters to be over-fished. Opposition members are always attacking the Liberal-Australian Country party Government, and asking what we are doing, but State Labour Governments cannot do anything in their respective spheres. This bill is a constructive bill, and the fruits of it will appear in the next three or four years. New industries will spring up, and we shall gain by them. We shall gain as individuals, and the nation will gain by the efforts of the individual. lt is a perfectly correct method of spending money on research and improving the possibilities of useful trade to the nation. 1 strongly commend this bill to the House.
.- 1 just want to say very briefly one or two things about this bill because I think it is only right, as with other bills, that :-very honorable member should, if he can, say what he thinks and how he will vote. First of all, I shall very definitely vote for the bill. I think, if I were to coin a slogan for the bill, it would be, “ There are better fish in the sea than ever were caught “. I believe that this bill will improve methods of catching fish because the research and investigation into the fishing industry that will spring from this legislation will have a remarkable effect.
I have been surprised at some < f the speakers in the debate - in fact, all the speakers on both sides of the House. They have all jumped to the conclusion that this bill is exclusively for sea fishing, but I have read it very carefully and there is nothing that confines it to the sea. I believe that through the States, it can have relation to the great lakes and rivers of this country, and that by having hatcheries at a high standard so that many fish are available to stock our inland waters, much productivity can be brought to fishermen other than sea fishermen. My electorate includes a very long stretch of the Murray River. It is a fact that fish from the Murray are sold in Melbourne and elsewhere in large quantities, but there is a danger of that river being fished out altogether. Therefore, I believe that this bill can conserve as well as exploit fish in certain areas in Australia. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who only thinks of the wide open sea, is not very pleased with me for drawing attention to the fact that the bill is not confined to the sea.
– I am delighted.
Mr. TURNBULL__ I think the honorable member and every other honorable member should be delighted at my drawing the attention of the House to this salient fact. Otherwise the one-track mind of honorable members would lead them to think that the sea was the only area of water that would be covered by the legislation. Let me say one or two other things about the bill. First, Opposition members, especially the honorable member for Lalor, have said that this is a good bill, but - so and so. They have dealt with different aspects of it with which they disagree, but their main point is that the money that is to be put into an account to finance fisheries research and development is coming from the sale of the Australian Whaling Commission’s station in Western Australia. They say that they do not agree that the station should be sold and, therefore, they do not agree that the money should be used in the manner provided for in the bill. But the point is that the whaling station is to be sold anyway. There are two quite distinct bills which deal with two propositions that are wide apart. There is not the slightest doubt that, the legislation providing for the sale of the station will be passed. Why should the members of the Labour party try to link up the two bills? As far as they are concerned, it should not matter where the money comes from once it goes into a fund which is divorced altogether from the whaling industry. They say that this is a good bill, but they will not support it because the money that is to be placed in the fund which is to be established - the fisheries development trust account - is to come from the sale of the station, a sale to which they object. That is a narrow way in which to look at a matter like this. It is a case of holding a grudge against a proposition and seeking to prevent the fishing industry from obtaining the benefit of more than £750,000, which is intended to foster a great productive industry.
I also listened with some interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). Other honorable members on this side of the House have referred to his remarks. I take a different view of his speech from those expressed by them because the main thing in his speech that amazed me was his complaint that honorable members had not been given information concerning the objects of the legislation. Surely the honorable member could not have read the bill before he made that statement, because the objects of the legislation are set out in Clause 6, which states that the moneys standing to the credit of the account may be applied for any of the following purposes : -
All of those objects of the bill have merit. To which one ofthem does the Labour party object?
– To that set out in paragraph (c).
– If we could take the honorable member for East Sydney seriously, which we cannot on most occasions, and accept his statement that the Opposition objects to paragraph (c) of the clause, then let us see what it has to say. It reads - the establishment or development of the fishing industry in a particular place or for a particular purpose;
I think the honorable member for East Sydney is joking about this matter, because surely the Labour party cannot find fault with the object set out in that paragraph. Does it not support the object set out in paragraph (d) ? That paragraph reads - the training of persons in connexion with the fishing industry;
Surely that is a laudable object! Surely we want the people who undertake fishing, which will be of assistance to our economy, to be experts ! The Labour party is always saying that we want more trained men. The whole crux of the situation, of course, was referred to by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), when he said that fishing, as a rule, is an occupation of individualists. He hit the nail right on the head with that description. But the Labour party has no time for individualists. It has no time for men who, by their integrity, honesty, industry and tenacity are able to build up an industry as a result of their own enterprise, probably starting from the bottom when they were in some workaday job. While such men are kept working with pick and shovel, as Labour would like to have them, in some ordinary job, Labour regards them as great men, honest as the day is long. But as soon as a man shows some initiative to improve the position of himself and his family, Labour says there is something dishonest about the money he earns by the use of his brain and his hands, a combination which lifts him above his fellow men. When that happens Labour members rise in Parliament and say that the man has some illgotten gains. Because he has built up a business and employs other men, as a rule in a very satisfactory way, such a man is immediately subjected by the Labour party to abuse - or perhaps a better word would be criticism.
– What has this to do with the bill ?
– It has everything to do with the bill. The honorable member for Hume said that the Labour party does not speak often of socialism. J would correct him by saying that during election campaigns the Labour party does not speak about socialism. I should say that the honorable member for Lalor, the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) and the honorable member for Yarra, as well as the honorable member for East Sydney, would be pleased to say that they are socialists, but at election times the speeches of Labour party supporters, many of which I have heard are notable for the absence of references in them to socialism. That applies to their leader, the right honorable member for
Barton (Dr. Evatt). I have never heard one quivering remark about the socialization objective of the Labour party from the Leader of the Opposition at election times. I have never heard him say anything about Labour’s socialization objective, which is the main plank of the Labour party’s platform - the socialization of industry, production, distribution and exchange.
A study of the bill, and of the speeches made on both sides of the House on it, would convince any fair-minded person that this is a good bill. The Labour party favours an investigation into Australia’s fisheries, and favours the fostering of scientific investigation and other means of developing our fishing industry. But it takes the view that, as the money to be used for these purposes is to be derived from the sale of one of the Labour party’s pet social enterprises, there is something wrong with the bill. To judge from the remarks honorable members opposite have made in their speeches on the bill, the legislation just does not comply with the Labour party’s policy. I wish to compliment the honorable member for Yarra because to-night he said something that I have said myself on some occasions in this chamber. The statement to which I refer may be the only political connexion between us. He said that this bill illustrates the diversity of opinion between the Government and the Opposition on subjects such as this. I should say that that statement means that Labour believes that socialist enterprises like the whaling station should be retained, hut that the Government believes in private enterprise. Surely members of the Labour party are not so shortsighted that, as they have moved around this great Commonwealth, they have not realized afresh, and realized fully, that the great enterprises of this country, whether they be factories in the cities, or farms or fisheries, have been built up by private enterprise - by the efforts of men who had the courage, determination and initiative to go out into the market place, to stoke the furnaces, to sow and harvest the crops, and hew for themselves and this country a great heritage - a heritage that has been spread one hundred fold through the population of this great Commonwealth.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and committed pro forma: progress reported.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker–
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the question he now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr.c. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.25 p.m.
The following answersto questions were circulated: -
Australian National Flag.
asked the Prime Minis ter, upon notice -
District allowances are paid to all officers stationed in graded localities, and to temporary employees other than those covered by Federal or State Awards providing locality compensation in another way.
7, Camping allowance rates are -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has Miss Rathausky sought an explanation for the action in terminating her appointment, so far without success?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s. - On the 17th April, the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) asked the following question : -
Can the Prime Minister inform the House whether it is a part of the duties and functions of the armed services to assist the community in time of civil calamity, such as floods? If so, why are charges made by the Government for assistance rendered to communities and individuals? Will the Prime Minister consider immediately arranging for free rendition of such services? I point out that £60 an hour flying time is charged by the Royal Australian Air Force for the services of a Douglas aircraft, and I understand that other arms of the services charge on a similar basis for services rendered with duck and other equipment, to the financial embarrassment of many who arc affected by the disastrous floods presently occurring in western New South Wales.
The terms of the honorable member’s question would suggest that a charge is made for the use of the armed services in flood relief and other emergencies. This is not so. Whilst it is not a part of their normal duties and functions, the armed services are always willing to give whatever assistance they can during a period of emergency when human life is in danger. In these circumstances no charges are made either by the armed services or by any other Commonwealth authority. The particular case of the use of Royal Australian Air Force aircraft to which the honorable member has referred is in a different category. At the request of the New South Wales Government and in the absence of suitable commercial aircraft, the Royal Australian Air Force agreed recently to provide aircraft for the dropping of fodder to stranded stock. The aircraft was made available on the basis of an agreed charge and was intended to be employed for some 200 flying hours only.
e asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1and 2. As I have already intimated, Mr. and Mrs. Petrov are engaged in supplying information which is most valuable, not only to Australia, but also to the whole of the free world. No decision has yet been made on how long this will continue.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The honorable member’s questions are as follows : - l to 4. The vacancies were advertised in the press and in the Commonwealth Gazette. Neither appointment was made until the Secretary to the Treasury and the Public Service Board were satisfied that there were no officers available in the Commonwealth Service as capable of filling the positions as those who were appointed. The very considerable demands now made upon the Government Printing Office in Canberra require that the occupants of these positions, functioning immediately under the Government Printer himself, shall possess up-to-date and extensive knowledge of printing, an art in which there have been notable technical developments, in recent years. Capacity for management and supervision are also of considerable importance and the selection of the appointees was made with these requirements in mind and after full consideration of the claims of the existing staff. I can assure the honorable member that I share the disappointment that the promotions could not be made from within the Service. Nothing is known of an appointment of an assistant government printer in charge of the composing section.
t asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 to 3. The manner in which statistics are kept does not permit of information being supplied for the periods nominated. The available period nearest to those nominated in the question is from the 22nd July, 1954, to the 27th January, 1956, the latest date for which figures are at present available. Within this period, the total number of exemptions applied for was 1,183 and the total number granted was 1,138 comprising conscientious objectors (exempt from all duties), 155; conscientious objectors (exempt from combatant duties only), 214; ministers of religion, theological students and members of holy orders, 385; and prescribed disabilities, 384. These categories relate to persons for whom exemption is provided by the National Service Act. The act makes no provision for exemption for the categories of registrations referred to by the honorable member. In respect of deferments, the honorable member will be aware that the National Service Act provides for deferment on the ground of exceptional hardship to the registrant, his parents or dependants. During the period under reference 500 such deferments were applied for and 369 were granted. In relation to other deferments, statistics are not kept of the numbers applied (or and granted during a particular period. However, it can be said that at the end of the period referred to 26,053 deferments were current. Of these, 1,054 were in respect of rural workers engaged full time in the production of food or raw materials, 22,194 were of registrants residing too far from training centres to be trained, and 2,805 were in respect of students and apprentices. Occupational deferment is not granted to persons in the other categories referred to by the honorable member.
z asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
In addition, 20 European doctors are practising in the Territory of Papua-New Guinea.
New South Wales. - Since 1945 the New South Wales Medical Board has granted permission to 153 persons to attend the university to complete the last three, years of the medical course. As stated above, 95 have so far qualified and become registered. The remainder either did not start, or are still engaged in the course, or have abandoned the course. Under recent legislation 32 doctors presented themselves for the first examinations held, a total of twelve passed and of these eight have been appointed and registered as statedunder 1.
Victoria. - No recordhas been kept of applications rejected because applicants did not possess the qualifications demanded by the Medical Act.
Queensland.- Under recent legislation special examinations may be provided for applicants holding European qualifications, but so far no examinations have been held.
South Australia. - Between 1945 and 1965 (inclusive) three or four European doctors were rejected who had applied for permission to complete a shortened medical course at the University of Adelaide.
Western Australia. - Three applicants were rejected outright for consideration for the “ regional “ scheme and another two failed during their three months’ probationary period.
Tasmania. - One candidate for the State Health Department’s Employment Scheme was found unsuitable.
New South Wales. - No reason stated.
Victoria. - No reason stated other than that candidates did not possess the qualifications listed in the Medical Act.
Queensland. -No reason stated.
South Australia. - Candidates who tailed were not sufficiently familiar with technical terms in English and with Australian teaching and examination standards generally. After several years of practice overseas they also lacked knowledge in the subjects of anatomy and physiology of examination standard.
Western Australia - In three cases lack of knowledge of English and/or inability to satisfy the Registration Board with regard to basic university training; in two cases failure to meet requirements during the three months’ probationary period.
Tasmania. - Inadequate standard of candidates.
h asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Dr. DONALD CAMERON. - The Minister for Repatriation advises me that the Repatriaition Act 1920-1955 provides that the chairman of a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal shall be a person who has been admitted to practise as a barrister or solicitor of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State. Sub-section (4.) of section 55 of the act provides that the members other than the chairman shall be returned soldiers, and one shall be selected for appointment from a list, containing the names of not less than three returned soldiers, submitted to the Minister by any organization representing returned soldiers throughout the Commonwealth. The act provides that the chairman of an Assessment Appeal Tribunal shallbe selected for appointment from a list of returned soldiers who have been admitted to practise as barristers or solicitors of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State, submitted in the manner provided by sub-section (4.) of section 55 of the act. Section 60 of the act provides that the members of an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal shall be appointed for a term not exceeding five years and shall be eligible for re-appointment. Subsection (5.) of section 65 provides that the chairman of an Assessment Appeal Tribunal shall he appointed for a term not exceeding five years and shall be eligible for re-appointment. Most of the members of Entitlement Appeal Tribunals and chairmen of Assessment Appeal Tribunals have been re-appointed from time to time, consequently the occupations given in this reply relate to the occupations at the time of first appointment. The replies to the specific questions asked by the honorable member are -
Chairmen of Assessment Appeal Tribunals -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Rice-growing in Northern Territory.
z asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
No. Ex-servicemen would be eligible to take part in the subsequent subdivision when the company transfers developed rice farms to settlers.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 May 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1956/19560501_reps_22_hor10/>.