22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The House met at. 3 p.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral.
The Clerk read the proclamation,
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair, and read prayers.
Return to Writ - Mr. Leslie Harry Ernest Bury sworn.
– I have received a return to the writ which I issued on 7th November last for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Wentworth, in the State of New South Wales, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of the Right Honorable Sir Eric Harrison. By the endorsement on the writ, it is certified that Leslie Harry Ernest Bury has been elected.
Mr. Bury made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
– I desire to inform the House that Dr. Reid, the Serjeant-at-Arms, having completed a course of study overseas, has resumed duty. Mr. Blake, who has acted as the Serjeant-at-Arms, will now be Deputy Serjeant-at-Arms.
The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that His Excellency the Governor-General desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith.
Mr. SPEAKER and honorable members attended accordingly, and having returned,
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Evidence Act 1905-1956. ‘
Bill presented, and read a first time. .
– I have to report that the House this day attended His Excellency the Governor-General in the Senate chamber, where His Excellency was pleased to make a Speech to both Houses of the Parliament, of which I have received a copy. As honorable members have copies of the Speech, I shall not formally read it to the House. It will be included in “ Hansard “ for record purposes.
The Speech read as follows: -
You have been called together to deal with matters of national moment. The first session of the Twenty-second Parliament having ended by prorogation, I am now opening the second session of that Parliament.
The recent visit to Australia by His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, gave great pleasure to all of us and was greatly enjoyed by him. While in Australia His Royal Highness opened the Olympic Games at Melbourne and took the opportunity to pay informal visits to the Territories and to our major developmental projects. More recently we have rejoiced in His Royal Highness’ elevation to the rank of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
When I last addressed you I referred to the important constitutional problem of the relationship between the two Houses, and to the intention of my advisers to set up a committee to examine this and other constitutional problems. That committee was set up and has made substantia] progress in the work of reviewing the constitution. Much still remains to be done. You will therefore be asked to reconstitute this committee immediately in order that its work may suffer as little interruption as possible.
On the international plane, events are complicated and uneasy.
In July, 1956, Egypt by her act of nationalization of the Suez Canal disturbed a pattern of guaranteed international interest which had existed since the Constantinople Convention of 1888. My Government, with other users of the Canal, participated in a conference in London wherein the hope rested for a formula which would protect the interests of all parties and isolate the operation of the Canal from the politics of any one country. The Parliament will recall that my Prime Minister was closely associated with those efforts to seek a peaceful solution.
In October, 1956, hostilities broke out between Egypt and Israel, and the United Kingdom and French Governments intervened. The subsequent history of events is well known.
My Government will continue actively to pursue an overall settlement of the basic problems of the Middle East which have so often threatened the peace of the post-war world. It is essential that the questions between Israel and Egypt should be disposed of, and the future of the Canal assured. We welcome the declaration by the President of the United States of America of his intention to exercise the influence of and discharge the responsibilities which his great country has recently accepted in the troubled affairs of the Middle East.
Concurrently with the crisis in the Middle East, events in Eastern Europe have indicated the strains and stresses to which the satellite states are subject. The people of Australia - and indeed of the whole free world - were deeply shocked at the calculated and ruthless armed intervention by the Soviet Union to suppress the national aspirations of the Hungarian people in October-November, 1956. This intervention was a flagrant breach of the Peace Treaty of 1947 which had guaranteed democratic freedoms to the Hungarian people, and to which the Soviet Union was a signatory. The Australian people showed their practical sympathy by organizing on a large scale voluntary relief, whilst my Government made grants amounting to £130,000 and also immediate measures to arrange facilities for 10,000 refugees from Hungary to find permanent sanctuary in Australia.
In its approach to international problems my Government has continued its policy of strengthening the Commonwealth relationship. In JuneJuly, 1956, a meeting of Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth took place in London. As members of this Parliament know, the United Kingdom Prime Minister, Mr. Macmillan, has expressed the hope that following a conference between President Eisenhower and himself a further meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers will be convened to discuss matters of mutual interest.
Meanwhile, Australia welcomes the emergence of the independent African State of Ghana as a full member of the Commonwealth and looks forward with warm fraternal interest to the impending achievement of independence, within the Commonwealth, by the Federation of Malaya.
At the invitation of my Government the SEATO Council of Foreign Ministers recently met in Canberra from 11th to 13th March, 1957. This high-level meeting approved plans which will further strengthen the organization which provides a shield against aggression in an area of vital interest to Australia. Already the SEATO Council has been able to record rapid progress by member nations in their common problems of defence and of economic and social development. That Council has noted incessant efforts by international communism to subvert the free institutions of the nations of the area. Special attention has, therefore, been given to the threat to the internal security of nations within the region.
Australia also continues its undiminished support for the Colombo Plan and the Australian contribution will continue to emphasize technical and training assistance.
My Government has directed special efforts towards the development of the most efficient defence system that our resources can sustain. Military appreciations have been prepared and studied. Plans have been worked out which put emphasis upon mobility, hitting power and modern equipment. A full statement will be made to Parliament at an early date in the present session. Adequate facilities for debate will be provided.
In the past year all armed services contributed components to serve in Malaya as part of the
Commonwealth Strategic Reserve. In so doing, these units have played a useful part in reducing the incidence of communist terrorism, and in assisting .to promote that stability which is so essential to the orderly development of the Federation of Malaya.
In collaboration with the Government of the United Kingdom, considerable progress has been made in the fields of defence science. My advisers expect the notable work performed at Woomera and Maralinga to continue.
When I last addressed the Parliament, the condition of the Australian economy was causing concern. There was internal inflation, and our balance of payments with other countries was unfavorable. Our overseas reserves had been falling rapidly. My Government took action to rectify these weaknesses.
My advisers report that the economy is now in a more balanced state; our trade position has improved; and our overseas reserves are growing. A high rate of productive activity has been maintained. Many important projects which should bring even greater prosperity are being undertaken.
To keep the economy on a stable and progressive course requires constant watch and appropriate action. My Government accordingly has the facts of the situation and its economic policies under close and continuous review. It has recently had assistance in this vital task from the Economic Advisory Committee, the members of which included representatives of private industry and commerce. A comprehensive economic statement will soon be laid before Parliament.
The improvement in the balance of payments, while it brings satisfaction, does not admit complacency. Although my Government has recently been able to ease the severity of controls on imports, much ground has yet to be won in expanding export production, in securing export markets, in improving the efficiency and competitive strength of our industries and in developing our latent resources before controls on imports can be entirely removed. My Government is working towards that goal. Its attainment will depend largely upon our success in avoiding further inflation. Reference is made to inflation, because it cannot be said too frequently that inflation is the enemy of progress and national development. A steady fall in the value of money increases costs of construction, causes expensive delays, and, by reducing the incentive to save, renders more and more difficult and burdensome the tasks of public finance.
The drive for increased exports has been meeting with considerable success. In the manufacturing industries there is a new consciousness of the importance of and opportunities for export markets. Following the negotiation and conclusion of the vastly significant Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom, a programme of trade negotiations with overseas countries is being undertaken in order to enlarge our export opportunities in the face of some overseas trends towards selfsufficiency. These negotiations will benefit wheat and other rural export industries.
Increased funds have been made available for Australian trade publicity in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and other overseas markets. Publicity campaigns have been closely related to the avail ability of Australian goods, delivery schedules and local conditions in particular markets. The Trade Commissioner service has been expanded and strengthened.
During this session legislation will be introduced to give effect to certain reductions in tariffs made possible by the negotiation of the new trade agreement with the United Kingdom. The items affected will be mainly those covering goods which are not produced in Australia and the effective tariff protection afforded Australian industry will not be diminished by these reductions. The new agreement represents a major advance in two directions. Lower import duties on goods from foreign countries will provide a very important cost-saving to Australian industry. Secondly, the constraints of the old agreement, so far as the scope for wider development of trading opportunities is concerned, have been broken and we now have room to move in our trade negotiations with other countries.
Over the past year new trade and payments arrangements have been under discussion in Europe. The six countries of the European coal and steel community have carried forward their plans for the formation of a customs and economic union.
The United Kingdom has entered upon negotiations for a free trade area which would bring her, and perhaps other countries of Europe, into association with the common market of the six. Such far-reaching changes could have important implications for the Australian economy and these developments are being kept under close review.
My Government will continue to assist primary producers to increase output and improve efficiency. It has offered to increase its financial contribution towards wool research and is negotiating for a matching contribution from the industry. To assist the export of semi-processed wools, my Government has agreed to co-operate in the establishment of wool-testing houses in Australia.
The question of wheat quality is receiving increased attention and the Government has agreed with the wheat-growers on a plan for increased research activity. The necessary legislation will be introduced during the session.
The current Commonwealth five-year plan for the stabilization of the dairying industry will terminate on the 30th June next. My Government is negotiating with the dairy industry for a new fiveyear plan and if these negotiations are concluded in time, legislation will be introduced during the session.
The recent discovery of large quantities of bauxite in Cape York Peninsula and new developments in existing metal mines have added very significantly to Australia’s known mineral resources. New large deposits of copper and additional reserves of lead and zinc at Mount Isa could add a new chapter to the development of Australia. They have led to the decision of Mount Isa Mines Limited to establish a large copper refinery at Townsville. A major undertaking associated with this development is the rehabilitation of the railway linking Mount Isa to the coast; this question is being examined jointly and urgently by my Government and the Queensland Government.
It is my Government’s intention to continue to push ahead with the Snowy Mountains scheme and so provide much-needed power for industry and water for irrigation.
The civil application of atomic energy is now developing swiftly. Uranium production formed the initial stage of my Government’s programme; it is now well established, and yielding useful exports. To provide the necessary basis of technical knowledge and advice for the application to civil purposes of nuclear energy in Australia a research organization has been created and facilities are being established at Lucas Heights near Sydney. Agreements for the exchange of information have been or are being worked out with the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada, and Australia has supported the setting up of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
My Government is conscious of the increasing importance of civil air transport to national development and international relations. Its intention is to strengthen Australia’s air links with both the United Kingdom and the United States of America. To this end endeavours will be made to establish an Australian air service through the North American continent. My Government’s intention to keep in line with current aviation developments is illustrated by the recent decision under which Qantas Empire Airways will purchase a fleet of modern international jet airliners.
My Government continues to assist the development of an efficient coastal shipping service. The recently established Australian Coastal Shipping Commission is now functioning. My Government has recognized the need for further assistance to the important domestic shipbuilding industry by increasing the subsidy on ships built in Australia. It has taken special note of the importance of an adequate shipping service to Tasmania by placing an order for the construction in Australia of a special passenger vehicle ferry for the Bass Strait service.
My Government proposes during the session to introduce a bill providing for a general revision of the Navigation Act to bring it up to date.
My Government will continue an active and balanced immigration programme appropriate to our capacity. Emphasis will be placed on an increase in the proportion of British migrants and proposals to widen opportunities for British settlers are being developed. Following the passage of a new Commonwealth Settlement Act by Her Majesty’s United Kingdom Government, my Government will negotiate for a renewal of the United Kingdom Assisted Passage Agreement.
In the field of industrial relations we continue to enjoy comparative industrial peace. Last year in manufacturing industries workers lost on the average only about one-seventh of a working day as a result of industrial disputes. A valuable contribution to an improved industrial atmosphere and to efforts directed towards greater productivity is being made by the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council. The council and its Standing Committee on Productivity have succeeded in arousing a greater community consciousness of the vital importance of increased productivity in Australia.
My Government has a lively sense of the needs of the social services, and particularly of the difficulties of pensioners of all types who have no other source of income. It will continue to review its legislation. Meanwhile it records its pleasure at the growing success of the aged persons homes scheme and the effectiveness of the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service. A fruitful part of my Government’s work is the development of the national health services, which have done, so much to prevent disease and further the health of the people. My advisers report that more than a million children have already been immunized against poliomyelitis with Salk vaccine, produced at our Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. Supplies of the vaccine will continue to be made available for this great campaign. The Government has just renewed with State governments the Hospitals Benefit Agreement which, since 1952, has done a great deal to support hospitals in every State.
The Commonwealth has now, pursuant to its announced policy, executed a new housing agreement with the six States. This will provide their governments with loan money to continue building houses for rental and also for re-lending to societies which will help people to build their own homes. There has been a remarkable achievement in housing in recent years by public authorities and private citizens. My Government’s policy has contributed notably to this achievement. There are nevertheless still some arrears in home building. The practical need for some resources to be. diverted to public and commercial building has its inevitable effect on current programmes but my Government regards the problem of home building with sympathetic and active mind and as far as it is concerned will do what it can to ensure that the arrears are overtaken as rapidly as possible. The matter will be treated as of outstanding importance, proper attention being paid to material supplies, labour availability and costs of construction.
The Government has recently made a further special distribution to ex-prisoners of war of the Japanese from moneys realized from the sale of Japanese assets and from reparations payments: appropriate legislation will be introduced.
Parliament will be asked to give some increased financial support to universities over the next two years. In addition, recognizing that the universities are facing almost a new world in which decisions of critical importance concerning their organization, fields of teaching and finance will be required, the Government has appointed a most authoritative committee of inquiry to make recommendations for future university development.
In the Antarctic we have a new permanent station at Davis and we are setting up another new station as Vestfold Hills, 400 miles east of our original base at Mawson. This year, which sees the beginning of the International Geophysical Year, we are increasing our Antarctic scientific and exploration activities, both on our own account and in collaboration with other nations.
Research results of extreme importance to Australia are continuing to come forth from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Of particular interest is the research affecting the water supply of this, the world’s driest continent. Already primary producers are beginning to make wide use of the process developed in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization for reducing evaporation from reservoirs and dams. The organization’s wool textile research has also prospered, and recent research results on scouring and carbonizing wool will help wool to maintain its position as the leading textile fibre.
In the earnest hope that Divine Providence may guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth, I now leave you to the discharge of your high and important duties.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That a committee, consisting of Mr. Forbes,
Mr. Bury and the mover, be appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of the Parliament, and that the committee do report this day.
– I desire to inform the House that His Excellency, Dr. H. von Brentano, Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, is within the precincts. With the concurrence of honorable members, 1 propose to provide him with a seat on the floor of the House.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
His Excellency Dr. H. von Brentano thereupon entered the chamber, and was seated accordingly.
– I desire to announce to the House that, during the absence abroad of the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne), the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley) will act as Minister for Air, and that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) will represent, in this chamber, the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty).
– Mr. Speaker, honorable members will, unhappily, be aware of the fact that, in the last few hours as it seems, certainly in the last few days, the President of the Philippines has lost his life under the most tragic circumstances. It was only the other day that we had here, in Canberra, attending the South-East Asia Treaty Organization Conference, as the distinguished representative of the Philippines, Senor Garcia, then Vice-President, and now, as the result of the death in office of Senor Magsaysay, President of that country.
I think, sir, that it would be agreeable to the feeling of the entire Parliament if I were to say that we should like you, on behalf of all of us, to convey to the new President of the Philippines the unfeigned sorrow that we feel about the death of the famous Ramon Magsaysay. He was a famous man. He had been a great soldier for his country. He became President of the Philippines in 1953. His difficulties were not small. He encountered movements of a difficult and subversive kind. He met them. He defeated them. His door was open to his people for almost 24 hours a day. He became perhaps the first great democratic statesman of his own country. All round the world, lovers of freedom felt that they owed a great deal to him. I know that so far as the Government is concerned, and I am sure that so far as the Opposition in this Parliament is concerned, we sympathize profoundly with the people of the Philippines, so recently come to self-government, so much desiring a man of this great character and quality, and losing him so untimely.
We place on record our thanks for his work. We would convey to all his people our profound sorrow, and to his successor, who could have wished it otherwise, we convey our deep good wishes for his continuance of a work so nobly begun.
– I support the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I only desire to recall one thing, emphasized to us on this side of the House by our colleague, the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), after he made a special visit to the Philippines notso long ago. During that visit the President, whose death we lament, explained how the great internal struggle in the Philippines with the body of men responsible for the Huk rebellion was ultimately handled. It was handled by generous conciliation in an exemplary way which will make this President’s name remembered not only in his own country but also, I believe, throughout the world.
– I assume, Mr. Speaker, as I think my right honorable friend also has assumed, that you will, as Speaker, convey to the distinguished Ambassador of the Philippines, for transmission to the President, the remarks that have been made here to-day.
– I shall carry out that task.
– 1 desire to ask a question of the Minister for External Affairs, in relation to the situation in the Middle East which, according to all accounts, is becoming increasingly dangerous. I draw the attention of the Minister to certain suggestions I made some two months ago to the effect that the Australian Government should endeavour to see to it that consideration of the dispute betwen Egypt, on the one hand, and, broadly speaking, the user nations, including Australia, on the other - one of two series of disputes - was resumed at the point at which it was left when the United Nations’ decision was given in respect of the military operations in con- * nexion with the Suez Canal. As I pointed out to the right honorable gentleman, there has been informal talk about the matter but it has not been brought officially to the attention of the United Nations through the Security Council. That body adopted certain principles concerning which nothing has been done. Secondly - and this is equally important and in some respects more urgent - there is the dispute between Israel and Egypt in connexion with the free use by the ships of all nations of the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba. This dispute is affected by the question of whether there is a state of war among these nations, and it also relates to the use of the Suez Canal. There are two series of disputes. I hear a Government supporter interject that my question is too long. I am sorry that it is so long, but it may become more understandable to the honorable gentleman if he listens. I am asking the Minister whether he will examine that matter, and see whether the Australian Government can do something to bring these nations together and, if that fails, bring’ the subject again to the attention of the United Nations, which has jurisdiction in the matter.
– The right honorable gentleman’s question embraces a wide field. If I may attempt, in the most economic form of words that I can find, to answer it, I might mention, first, that the situation in Gaza has been ventilated very fully in the newspapers. The Israeli Government evacuated both Gaza and its establishments at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, on, I think, the 6th or 7 th of this month. I understand that the technicalities or legalities of the situation regarding Gaza are that Egypt has the technical or legal right to administer the Gaza strip, a right which flows from the armistice agreement of 1949; but since 1949, as we all know very well, a great many other things have happened which, I would think, expressing my own non-legal view, have diluted the legalities of the situation. I think it may be said that Israel evacuated its establishments, politically and militarily, a fortnight ago in the belief, which it had some very good reason to hold, that Israeli troops would be succeeded by United Nations’ troops. Now we have had, quite recently, a situation in which Egypt is apparently installing an administrative governor, an act which appears to flout a United Nations’ decision. I only hope that the Egyptian assumption of administrative responsibility in the Gaza strip is no more than a technicality to preserve Egypt’s presumed rights under the armistice agreement of 1949, because if it is otherwise, I can see, as I am sure the right honorable gentleman can see, a situation arising that would imperil the whole situation in the Middle East. I believe that in complying with the instructions of the General Assembly of the United Nations to evacuate Egypt and Sinai, the Israelis have done so as an act of faith, but not as an act of unfounded faith. There has been a good deal to lead them to assume that they would be protected in future from a resumption of the incursions into their .territory that happened before last October. Anything that ran counter to that, I believe, would gravely imperil, as the right honorable gentleman assumes, the peace of the Middle East once again. So far as the Gulf of Aqaba is concerned, a majority, or at least a great many members of the United Nations, including the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia, believe that the Gulf of Aqaba and the straits of Tiran are international waters and that Egypt’s denial of the Gulf of Aqaba and the Tiran Straits to Israeli shipping since 1951 was an illegal act. I believe that any future attempts to re-impose the Egyptian blockade on shipping in the Gulf of Aqaba might lead to very serious consequences. So far as one can deal with the Suez Canal in a very few words, the ball has now been in Egypt’s court for at least a month, because, in October of last year, the United Nations Security Council passed the well-known six resolutions, one of which supported complete freedom of passage through the canal for all nations, including Israel, of course. Mr. Hammarskjoeld followed that up with Egypt, but obtained no response. I share with the Leader of the Opposition the belief that these things should be brought to finality.
Or. Evatt. - In the United Nations.
– In the United Nations or elsewhere, but brought to finality at the earliest possible date, by whatever means are practicable. Any influence that Australia has in this connexion has already been exercised, and will continue to be exercised.
– -I desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question about the desecration of war monuments and cemeteries in Egypt. Am I correct in saying that the Australian Government has lodged with the Egyptian Government a protest about the desecration of the Australian and New Zealand War Memorial beside the Suez Canal, as well as about, damage to headstones in the Suez and Port Said war cemeteries? Has the Government received any reply to its protest? It has been alleged that some of the carvings on the Australian and New Zealand War Memorial were dismantled and not blown up. If this is so, is it the intention of the Government to ask the Egyptian Government to return these carvings and other relics of this fine monument to the Australian and New Zealand people so that this historic monument may be restored on another suitable site?
– When the desecration of the Australian and New Zealand War Memorial in Port Said and of war cemeteries in other places in Egypt was first announced in the press, we had first of all to assure ourselves that this was a fact. Inquiries were made through appropriate channels and it was established to be a fact. We have since made formal protests - again through appropriate channels - and also there have been public protests, which I expect honorable members have seen in the press. Those protests were made in mid February, but we have received no reply, either publicly or privately, from the Egyptian Government.
– Is the Minister for Defence Production aware of a report circulating at Bendigo that up to 400 men are to be dismissed immediately from the Bendigo Ordnance Factory and that, in future, the plant will be operated on a maintenance basis only? Will the Minister state whether or not this report is correct?
– Yes, I was telephoned and received telegrams about this matter this morning. I understand that the Bendigo press this morning gave banner headlines to a story to that effect. It is a peculiarly cruel and wanton story, Mr. Speaker. There is no truth in it. lt is not proposed to discharge a large number of men at th? present time, and I do not know of any proposal to discharge any large number in the future.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. By way of explanation, I refer to a widespread belief among many usually well-informed people that, during the Anglo-French action against Egypt, last November, the American Government threatened Britain and France with reprisals by the United States Mediterranean fleet unless they desisted from their plans. Can the right honorable gentleman say whether this is true, and, if so, does he think it was a proper action on the part of an ally and supposedly friendly power?
– I have heard these rumours - and the honorable member also has heard them - in a number of places, and in anticipation of a question on this subject I have armed myself with the answer to a similar question given in the House of Lords on 28th November last. I am glad to say, Mr. Speaker, that the broad answer to the question is that the rumour has no truth in it. Perhaps I may supplement that statement by reference to relevant short extracts from the House of Lords “ Hansard “ which can be quoted without distorting the general context of the reply. Viscount Hailsham, the First Lord of the Admiralty, replying to a similar question, said -
My Lords, the United States 6th Fleet was in the Eastern Mediterranean during the period of operations. According to a courteous message received from Vice-Admiral Brown by our CommanderinChief, Mediterranean, its orders were to protect United States nationals and to evacuate them from the combat area. There were no contacts between the United States 6th Fleet and our landing force . . there was a friendly exchange of personal signals between the two Admirals, as a result of which each force offered the maximum co-operation consistent with the discharge of their respective missions.
The First Lord of the Admiralty concluded -
I wish to emphasize that they-
That is, the messages - were couched in the most courteous terms and in my opinion reflect credit on the good sense and judgment of both Commanders.
I will make the full reply available to the honorable gentleman later. I repeat that there is no truth in the suggestion that the United States Sixth Fleet acted in any way improperly in the Mediterranean.
– 1 ask the
Minister for Immigration whether, as reported, the Government has relaxed the immigration laws or regulations so as to permit the naturalization of aliens. Is it true that, as a result of such relaxation, a Chinese national residing in Sydney was recently naturalized? If so, can the Minister say how long this Chinese had resided in Australia? Have the immigration laws or regulations been relaxed so as to give permanent residency status to Chinese citizens who have resided in Australia for fifteen years or more?
– There have been no changes for quite a long period in the requirements for the naturalization of Asians or other aliens. In August or September last the previous Minister for Immigration made a statement to the House on the class of person that the honorable member has just mentioned. Persons in this class resident in Australia for fifteen or twenty years may, if they are of good character and can submit references from citizens of good’ repute, be naturalized.
– I wish to address a question without notice to the Treasurer. Is it not a fact that at the last meeting of the Australian Loan Council the Queensland Government asked that £2,750,000 be made available for housing purposes? Is it not a fact, also, that that sum of money was £250,000 less than the Australian Loan Council’s allocation for housing in the previous year? Does not the Treasurer consider that this request for a lower sum for housing would indicate the Queensland Government’s determination to discredit the new Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement? Further, does the Treasurer not consider that every circumstance and sign would indicate that Government’s intention to disguise from the Commonwealth Government its record of monumental stupidity in the housing field?
– My answer to all the questions put by the honorable member is “ Yes “.
– Did the Minister for Immigration receive a telegram from me, dated 23rd January, complaining of very unsatisfactory living conditions at the Williamstown immigrant hostel, and suggesting that his personal inspection and action were necessary? If so, has the Minister made such a personal inspection? If not, why not?
– The reason for my not going to Williamstown is simple and easily stated: It is not my business. Primarily, it is the business of the Minister for Labour and National Service. I have been to several immigrant hostels because I feel that I have some responsibility to know what goes on. I have had meals in some of the hostels. I assure the honorable member that the meals I have had there are better than those we get in Parliament House.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. As the pension payable to a blinded person ceases when he leaves Australia, will the Minister give consideration to the payment of that pension when the blinded person is proceeding overseas to study a course not available in Australia and has given a guarantee that he will return to Australia on the completion of the course?
– I shall be very pleased to give favorable .consideration, if I can, to the request of the honorable member for Perth. I appreciate the difficulties of the blind in all circumstances. Normally, it is possible for those who are in receipt df social services benefit to be temporarily absent from Australia without prejudice to their pension, and I will see whether the same consideration can be given to the blind.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether, as recommended in the Statute of the International Court of Justice, he sought to consult the Chief Justice of Australia, the Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General and the Dean of the Faculty of Law within the University of Sydney upon the qualifications of candidates for Australia’s nomination to the vacancy on the court? Did the Chief Justice decline to confer and, as the SolicitorGeneral himself was a candidate, did the Deputy Solicitor-General also decline? Did the Attorney-General and the Dean confer on the subject and have they made a report to the right honorable gentleman?
– I will look at the records and give the honorable member a reply to his question.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. As the dictator of Egypt has confiscated the property of many Europeans who have been in Egypt for many years and ordered them to leave Egypt by the end of March, will the Australian Government give immediate consideration to granting to a quota of these unfortunate people permits to enter Australia?
– The grievous position of these people in Egypt has been the subject of intense consideration by the Department of Immigration. It is singularly difficult for us to get very far in the matter. As the honorable member for Isaacs said in his question to-day, Egyptians have desecrated Australian graves and have torn down our war memorial. One of Australia’s most distinguished men, Mr. Cutler, V.C., and his staff were turned out of Egypt. Honorable members will no doubt realize how difficult it is to get anywhere under those conditions. We have been doing what we can through the Canadian Government, which has a small legation in Cairo, and we have already been able to bring out quite a number of British people. We have followed various avenues to see what we could do for other people who could get, say, to Italy or to Malta. We are doing whatever we can. But 1 should like to make clear to the House how difficult the position is. The United Kingdom Government also is acutely aware of the position. It has formed a committee and is doing everything in its power to get as many of its nationals as possible out of Egypt.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, whose vessels carry a large proportion of Australia’s exports, declared a dividend equivalent to 48 per cent, on the company’s 1949 capital, before watering? If he is aware of that, has the Government done anything to divert the coastal steamers controlled by it to the overseas trade, in order to limit the opportunities for piracy by this company? If the Government has done nothing along these lines, will it now arrange to employ suitable vessels that are controlled by the Government, and are now being used in the coastal trade, in competition with vessels owned by these overseas pirates?
– I am not familiar with the balance-sheet of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, but I can feil the honorable member that freight rates between Australia and the United Kingdom are negotiated between Australian export interests and what is known as the conference line of steamships, comprising the United Kingdom lines and, I think, the majority of European lines. The freight rates that are fixed are an outcome of negotiations conducted between two groups of people, whose statutory right to negotiate was established by an act passed during the term of office of the Scullin Government.
– Can the Minister for Trade inform the House whether it will be necessary for this Parliament to ratify the reportedly highly successful trade agreement which was the result of recently concluded negotiations with the United Kingdom, before trading under the terms of that agreement can commence? Will the agreement which provides for the United Kingdom to take a certain quantity of Australian wheat apply to wheat from the current harvest in Australia which is now in store?
– Consequential actions which the Parliament may take in relation to the trade relationship between the two countries, and the actual trading arrangements in respect of wheat, do not depend on parliamentary ratification of the agreement. It is the intention of the Government to present certain tariff modifications to the Parliament during this sessional period, and, I think, early in that period. The negotiations between the Australian Wheat Board and British importers of wheat, which are consequent upon certain provisions of the negotiated agreement, in fact commenced almost before the agreement was signed, or as soon as the preliminary stage of the agreement had been completed. Those negotiations are now in train.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether it is a fact that a crisis exists in this country due to the lack of housing to accommodate the people of the Australian community? Is it a fact that thousands of Australian families are compelled to occupy garages, huts, fowl houses and various kinds of sub-standard dwellings? Is it a fact that a great number of these families have been existing in these conditions for very many years, in some instances for more than ten years? Is it a fact that many of the menfolk of these families are ex-servicemen, in many instances suffering from war-caused disabilities? Is it a fact that thousands of potential home owners have capital of £1,000 to £1,500, but find it impossible to raise the remainder of the finance necessary to build or purchase a home? Is it a fact that the lack of housing has destroyed many marriages which would otherwise have been successful, and has forced large numbers of young Australian couples to restrict the size of their families? Is it a fact that while this situation exists timber mills and brickyards have been forced to close, industries producing building accessories have had to reduce production, and considerable numbers of building workers are at present unemployed or have been forced to seek work in other industries? Is it a fact that the number of homes now under construction is lower than at any other time during the past seven years? Is it a fact that the .Prime Minister specifically undertook, during the 1949 federal election campaign, to solve the housing problem, promising to build more homes and reduce their cost?
– Order! What is the question? I think the honorable member is asking a series of questions.
– I am just concluding now.
– The honorable member should come to the question.
– Is it a fact that the only requirement necessary to achieve a considerable step-up in the construction of dwellings is the availability of finance on reasonable terms, which is not at present available because of the Government’s credit restriction policy and its failure to take action to regulate interest rates, which have now reached record heights; and finally-
– Order! The honorable member is out of order. He must either put his question now or resume his seat.
– I am putting it. I said “ finally “. Finally, does the Prime Minister regard housing as a national problem requiring action on a nation-wide basis and if so, when does he propose to take steps to correct the present tragic situation?
– I venture to say that that alleged question is the greatest abuse of the procedure of this House I have ever listened to and I regret that you, Mr. Speaker, permitted it. The honorable member for East Sydney has, of course, as we all know, been sitting in a committee and this is a foretaste of the speech he will no doubt deliver to-morrow evening. If so, I will wait and answer it with the greatest pleasure in the world, but at the moment all I do is permit myself to say that if the state of affairs in Australia is as terrible as he now represents it to be, what must it have been like just before he went out of office, because the simple fact is that in these seven years, more than 500,000 houses have been constructed in Australia? On a population basis, the rate of construction of houses in Australia in the last seven years has been greater, I think, than in any other free country in the world, but of course, now the Labour party, driven almost daft by its troubles, casting around, has seized hold of some false claim that there is a crisis - because it is a false claim - and is now seeking to make itself the friend of the people whom, on his showing, the honorable member for East Sydney must have deserted for the whole of the eight years that Labour was in office. Well, sir, I look forward with unqualified pleasure to dealing with this matter to-morrow night.
– I address a question to the Minister for Immigration. I have heard it suggested in public that those who desire to come to Australia from the United Kingdom under the immigration scheme must secure an Australian nominator if a very long delay is to be averted to some extent at least, but that immigrants from many European countries are being brought to Australia without nomination or delay. What is the real present position?
– To give an adequate answer to this question would take a very long time - perhaps not as long as an earlier question by the honorable member for East Sydney took, but a reasonable time. Briefly, since the immigration scheme has been in operation we have brought in 83 per cent, of northern Europeans and people from the United Kingdom. Out of the one million and a few hundred thousand immigrants already in Australia, about 560,000 have come from the United Kingdom. If people from the United Kingdom are nominated and the nominators can guarantee them accommodation and occupation, there is very little delay, but I am sure that the honorable member will see that it would be rather stupid for us to recruit immigrants in Great Britain and bring them 10,000 miles if we did not have a home to put them in; and that is one of the qualifications. The second thing is that there is a limit to the amount of shipping which is available from the United Kingdom. Putting that briefly also, we take every berth that is available in ships from the United Kingdom. In addition, we have our own ships, such as “ New Australia “, and we have others under charter. I do not know of a berth that could have been used to accommodate a British immigrant that we have not taken in a ship bound for Australia. At the present time, we are negotiating with the British Government to charter two more ships to help to increase the flow of British immigrants to this country. During the last six months, for a part of which my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, was responsible for immigration, there have been most encouraging signs. The intake of British immigrants is increasing quite rapidly. In the first six months of this financial year, we received well over 30,000 British immigrants, which was the best tha’ we had been able to do for some time. I am reminded that if a person in England wants to come to Australia and is prepared, as many people are, to pay his or her own fare, there are no restrictions whatever. As many such people as like to come here can come. But I was referring to assisted passages, and I think that that is what the honorable member for Mallee had in mind. We are bringing here, through the Intergovernmental Committee on European Migration, people from practically every race in Europe, but, up to now, 83 per cent, of our immigrants have come from northern Europe or from Great Britain.
Mr. Bryant having asked a question.
– I rise to order. I understand that the Standing Orders of the House relating to questions provide, first, that names of persons shall not be mentioned in questions, and, secondly, that notice must be given of questions regarding the conduct of persons other than Ministers or members of the House. 1 suggest that, under the circumstances, the proper course would be for the honorable member for Wills to place his question on the noticepaper.
– Order! The position is that a name can be used in a question only for the purposes of clarification. The honorable member has concluded his question. I am satisfied that that was not the purpose for which he introduced a name. Therefore, the question is out of order.
– For the purposes of clarification, I address to the Minister for External Affairs a question supplementary to that asked earlier by the Leader of the Opposition. Can the Minister say what stage has been reached by the United Nations in clearing the Suez Canal?
– The authority set up by the United Nations to deal with the clearance of the Suez Canal announced a relatively short time ago that the canal would be cleared for ships up to 10,000 tons by the 10th of this month, but we are now told that, owing to deliberate obstruction by the Egyptian Government, the canal will not be cleared for such ships until at least the 26th of this month. The complete clearance of the canal will be similarly deferred until some time in the future.
– In asking the Prime Minister to take immediate steps to stabilize the coal-mining industry and thus protect the employment of those engaged in that industry, I direct the attention of the right honorable gentleman to the continuing closure of mines, despite the splendid record of production that has been achieved. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that the sackings that are taking place constitute a violation of a promise given to the mine-workers, who were assured that they would be given continuity of employment if they built up stocks of coal to meet a then-existing situation? I point out to the right honorable gentleman the urgency of this matter because of the closure of mines throughout New South
Wales. I remind him that in Lithgow, in the Macquarie electorate, one colliery with more than 200 employees-
– Order! The honorable member is giving information. That is entirely out of order. Many questions are far too long, and from them flow replies that are equally long. I ask the honorable member to complete his question.
– In view of those circumstances, of which I trust the right honorable gentleman is aware, will he say what steps he proposes to take to meet the present situation and ensure to this nation the supplies of coal that are essential to it in peace and war?
– This matter is within , the administration of my colleague, the Minister for National Development, who is in another place. He has, I know, been directing a good deal of attention to it. I shall discuss with him the points raised by the honorable member.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. As a further development of the Government’s plans to encourage home ownership as provided for in the scheme for advances to building societies under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, will the Government investigate the merits of mortgage insurance, which, in the United States of America, has been the greatest factor in the building of 1,000,000 homes a year there for the last ten years? If reports have been obtained already, can the House be advised of their contents? If they have not been obtained, will the right honorable gentleman discuss the matter with his colleague, the Minister for National Development?
– I shall be happy to bring to the notice of the Minister for National Development the observations made by the honorable member.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for the Navy, relates to the proposed transfer of the Royal Australian Naval College from Flinders to Jervis Bay. Will the transfer mean that 57
Families now occupying cottages at Jervis Bay will be required to vacate those cottages, without being given alternative accommodation? Will seventeen businesses be forced to close? Will 200 people at present employed in Jervis Bay be thrown out of employment? In fact, will the whole community of 450 people be destroyed? Will the Minister say whether he has yet received an accurate assessment of the cost of renovating the buildings to be used by the college at Jervis Bay? If he has received such an accurate assessment, will he say whether, in fact, the cost will be four times as great as that quoted by his predecessor when the announcement of the transfer was made twelve months ago?
– The question raised by the honorable member, as he knows, is one to which I have been giving a good deal of attention since the House last met. In accordance with an undertaking which I gave to him, I have made in the interval a close inspection of the conditions prevailing both at the Flinders Naval Depot and at Jervis Bay. As I advised him some time ago at Jervis Bay, my investigations have revealed nothing which suggests to me that there is cause to vary in any way, or to recommend the variation of in any way, the decision which had already been taken by the Government when I took over my present portfolio. Therefore, the proposal to transfer the Royal Australian Naval College to Jervis Bay is being proceeded with. The honorable member has asked whether I am aware of certain results which will flow from that transfer. I assure him that I am aware of those results and that they have been fully considered. I point out to the House that the proposal to transfer the college back to its original home at Jervis Bay has been under consideration for a number of years. Most of the people living in houses there or running businesses there have been under notice, in some cases for two or three years, that they will be required eventually to leave the area. Therefore, I suggest that ample warning has been given of this move and that the residents concerned have had ample opportunity to make other arrangements. I might also say, Mr. Speaker, that I know, from discussions with him, that my colleague, the Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works, who is also associated with the move, has done everything possible to give reasonable attention to the needs of the people at present at Jervis Bay, and has met them as far as is practicable.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. Would it be possible for ships belonging to the Australian Shipping Commission, whose crews enjoy Australian award rates of pay and conditions, to compete profitably against ships of the conference line in overseas trade?
– All I can offer on this matter is an opinion. I should be very surprised indeed, judging from experience of costs in the Australian export trade, if it were possible for Australian ships, manned under Australian conditions, to compete with the scale of costs of the conference line. There is a certain amount of trade carried on outside the conference line. Certain cargoes, notably wheat, are carried on a charter basis, and there are violent fluctuations in charter rates in accordance with world demands on shipping. In quite recent times there have been extraordinarily high costs or high values placed on cargo of that nature, and I should think that there have been occasions when even the costs of the Australian coastal trade would have competed with the scale of charges encountered in respect of that kind of charter; but, historically, it has been shown that these very high freights have lasted for only a very short period.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that the important underwater telephone cable between Victoria and Tasmania, via King Island, has been broken? As this cable was laid down in 1921, will the Postmaster-General have a thorough investigation of the cable made in order to ascertain whether its replacement, or extensive repair to it, is now necessary? What temporary arrangements are in hand to maintain reasonable telephonic and telegraphic communication between the Island State and the mainland?
– I regret that I have not in my mind at the moment the detail concerning the present situation of the cable between Victoria and Tasmania, but I do know that the question of efficient communication between the mainland and Tasmania has received the attention of the Postmaster-General’s Department in recent times, and that there have been a number of new communications channels established between Tasmania and Victoria. So that, whilst I shall certainly have a look at the particular matter to which the honorable member for Wilmot has made reference, I can assure the honorable member that the department is constantly watching the provision of proper communications right throughout Australia, and that Tasmania has received, and will continue to receive, its fair share of the department’s attention in that respect.
– I desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs whether it is a fact that, since, 1948, Israel has been laying before the United Nations complaints of breaches against international peace by Egypt. Is it also a fact that those complaints included a complaint that the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba have been closed to Israeli shipping, and that another complaint dealt with continued murderous raids by the Egyptians upon Israeli territory? Is it further a fact that Israel secured no satisfaction as a result of these complaints? Is it a fact, too, that considerable pressure is now being exerted upon Israel with a view to preventing that country from exercising the elementary right of self defence? Is it also a fact that Soviet Russia crushed Hungary with unparalleled brutality, and that apparently no effective action in respect of the Russian assault on Hungary was taken by the United Nations? Is it to be assumed, therefore, that there is one law for the weak in the United Nations court, and a complete disregard of the requirements of international justice when action is needed against the strong?
– Replying in general to the various matters inherent in the honorable member’s question: Yes, I believe that the honorable member’s assumptions are generally correct. Israel has been denied passage for her ships through the Suez Canal by Egypt for a number of years - six, seven or eight years. This is, in the first place, in contravention of the Israeli-Egyptian armistice agreement. Secondly, it is in contravention of the Constantinople Convention of 1888. If rights of passage are still denied to Israel by Egypt in the future, that denial will also be in contravention of a more recent instrument - the resolution of the United Nations Security Council last October, which was accepted unanimously, and which laid down the so-called “ six principles “, including the freedom, and the right, of any country, and all countries, to passage through the Suez Canal. There was also the fact that, as the honorable gentleman has said, the question of the Egyptian-Israeli relationship was before the United Nations Security Council in, I think, 1951, and that Egypt was directed to cease her attitude of belligerency towards Israel. That resolution of the Security Council was adopted unanimously. That was before Russia had espoused the cause of the Arab nations in the Middle East. Egypt took no notice whatsoever of that instruction, so I think that, generally, it can be said that Egypt has been flouting not one, but a number of authorities and international engagements over a period of recent years. The reaction of Israel in recent times is, as I ventured to express publicly, in my opinion entirely understandable.
Mr. Speaker having called for ministerial statements, and Mr. Harold Holt having risen in his place,
– Is the Minister asking for leave to make a statement?
– I do not know that I require leave in this instance. I wish to make a statement to the House touching on the conduct of the business of the House. If leave is required I shall ask for it.
– I think leave of the House is required. It is for Mr. Speaker, not for the Minister, to decide whether leave is required.
– Is leave granted?
– Then I shall propose a motion.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Minister for Labour and National Service from making a ministerial statement.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . 28
Question so resolved in the affirmative by an absolute majority.
– I believe that it would be useful for the
House to have some details of the arrangements proposed for the parliamentary year and the conduct of the Parliament, particularly the House of Representatives. I also propose to inform honorable members about some of the principal measures to be dealt with in the current sessional period of the Parliament. On any aspect where 1 have felt it to be appropriate and desirable, I have had discussions with the presiding officers, my colleagues in the Cabinet, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and members of the Government parties. While I do not claim that there has always been agreement on points of detail, particularly in the discussions I have had with my opposite number, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, consideration has been given to anything put forward where changes were proposed in past procedures or practices.
Certain changes are to be made in the procedures of the House of Representatives and of the Parliament, and perhaps I should deal with those first. It is intended that, commencing with this year, there shall be a regular session of the Parliament each year with a formal opening in the autumn, and it will conclude at the end of the budget sessional period towards the close of the year. Normally, there will be two sessional periods. The first will be so timed as to permit four or five weeks of parliamentary discussion before an Easter recess. It will continue until the end of May or sometime in June, according to the amount of business to be transacted. The relevant dates for the current first sessional period are these: The parliamentary session has been opened to-day, and the House will rise for the Easter recess on 11th April. It will resume on 30th April. This year, Anzac Day falls in the week of Easter Monday. Consequently, the arrangement I have announced will enable honorable members to attend Anzac Day celebrations in their electorates, as most of them usually wish to do. The budget session will probably begin about the end of August, and I should be in a position to indicate a definite date before the current sessional period concludes.
The Government is trying to bring a better balance into the division of the business of the parliamentary year by arranging for legislation, generally speaking of a non-financial character, including amending and consolidating legislation, to’ be brought forward in the autumn session. If we do that, there should be more time available for consideration of the Estimates and of the financial measures arising out of the budget when we come to the budget session. Exceptions will be made, of course, according to the needs of the day. There may be occasions when the Government will wish to introduce fiscal measures in the autumn session and, undoubtedly, matters win arise about budget time calling for amending legislation which cannot conveniently be deferred until the next autumn session. However, by adhering generally to what I have suggested, we should be able to deal much more satisfactorily with the business coming forward in the parliamentary year.
I have been giving much consideration to the attendance by Ministers and members in the House of Representatives chamber while business is before it. Most members of the public are unaware of the calls made upon the time of Ministers and honorable members either in electorates, the precincts of Parliament House or at official gatherings in the Australian Capital Territory, even while sittings of the House are in progress. The fact that a member is not at his place in the chamber by no means signifies that he is not usefully engaged on public duties. It has been my own feeling for some time, however, and I believe it is shared by many honorable members, that the quality of debate, the significance of the private member and the institution of Parliament are all impaired if attendances are scanty during the sittings of the House.
I am convinced that by suitably spacing the sittings of the House, and with cooperation from my fellow Ministers and the Presiding Officers, we shall be able to produce more satisfactory attendances and, at the same time, provide reasonable opportunities for attention to those other duties which have a tendency to eat into the time available for the sittings of the Parliament. It is unavoidable. I believe, that there should be some meetings of Cabinet and subcommittees of Cabinet while the House is actually in session, but the Prime Minister has indicated to me that he will so arrange, as far as practicable, the business of the Cabinet and of the sub-committees of Cabinet as to enable Ministers to be in more regular attendance at the sittings of the House.
So far as the members of the Government parties are involved, they have agreed that we will avoid the holding of meetings of party committees - again, as far as practicable - while the House is actually sitting. I have asked for the co-operation of Mr. Speaker and his officers to reduce to a minimum the meetings of committees of the Parliament while the business of the Parliament is in progress. The fact that Parliament normally sits on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday leaves some opportunity for the holding of committee meetings and attention to constituency matters in the remaining part of the week. These opportunities will be supplemented during the current sessional period by the break which will occur over the Easter period.
Almost all, if not all, the committees of the Parliament which have expired by reason of prorogation will be reconstituted this week, so that there will be as little break as possible in the continuity of their work. The Government parties have already decided that, although certain committees are formally constituted only for the duration of a sessional period, members will be chosen by those parties, normally after an election has taken place, to serve on them for the life of a parliament. This, of course, is subject to the right of the parties concerned to make any changes they wish, as circumstances appear to require, and 1 understand from the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that a similar arrangement has been adopted by the Opposition in relation to the membership from its side of the House of these various committees.
I have already indicated publicly the change which is being made in the official hospitality which has been associated with the formal opening of the Parliament in past years. In recent years, it has been the practice for the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to dispense afternoon tea in the members’ dining-room following the ceremony of the formal opening. The Prime Minister has been host at an official reception, held also in the members’ dining room, in the late afternoon of the second day of the session. It seemed to me that an improvement would be effected if these two functions were combined and held on the evening of the opening day. In the past, the proceedings of the House of Representatives have, at least from my own experience of them, fallen rather flat when we have returned to this chamber after the formal ceremony in the Senate chamber. The presence of so many official visitors, :and of wives and close relatives, has made lit difficult for members to concentrate on ;the business before the House, and the mover and seconder of the Addressin.; Reply usually have had to contend with a scanty attendance and distracted interest.
There has been some criticism of this change, and controversy about the form of reception proposed, most of it expressed before the details could be made known, but I am sure that the change will produce -some welcome improvement, and I am happy to say that it has the warm endorsement of the President and also of Mr. Speaker, with both of whom I have consulted closely on all the details of the -guest list and the function itself.
I have thought it appropriate, Mr. Speaker, at a time when changes are being made, to review the procedure of the. House of Representatives when formally recognizing the unhappy event of the death of a sitting member. In the past, we have adopted a motion of condolence, and it has been our practice to adjourn the House for the remainder of the day. This seems hardly appropriate to the conduct of a modern Parliament and a very much enlarged Parliament which, to-day, has a membership of 184, as against 110 in former years. Indeed, when it occurs on the first day following a long recess, the long adjournment produces some resentment, I believe, from a public not unappre«ciative of the respect we wish to pay to a deceased colleague. It is, of course, fitting that we should make a proper indication of our respect and regard for the former member. Despite our political differences, we become a fairly closely knit community in this place, with feelings of friendship and respect that are not confined to particular areas of the House. We on the Government side of the House believe, however, that fitting tributes could be paid, and the requirement of our attention to parliamentary business reasonably observed, if we adopted the general practice of an adjournment of proceedings for an hour in such cases. I am careful to state this as a general rule, because there are likely to be occasions on which the House- Will feel disposed to vary it, having regard to the circumstances of some particular case; but it is better to indicate a general rule now when, fortunately, the occasion for its application has not arisen, than to make a change, if it is desired, at some time when its application might suggest to a sorrowing family that some invidious distinction had been made in their case.
Now, sir, I should like to make a reference to the sitting hours proposed. No change is intended in the standard hours of commencement of the sitting as we have had them apply during recent years, but a change is proposed so far as the night sittings are concerned. I have been convinced that proceedings at night sometimes have dragged on to a point at which they have interfered with the satisfactory performance of the next day’s business and that we could adjust our sitting times not only with more convenience to honorable members but also with advantage to the proceedings of the House.
It will be recalled that we have adopted the practice - certainly during the past year, and perhaps before that - of carrying the motion for the adjournment, without debate, on the first day on which the House meets in the week. I, for one, fully appreciate the importance of providing adequate opportunities for private members to exercise their right to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House. It is a valuable right of the private member and I certainly do not wish to truncate it, but I think it would meet the needs of our circumstances if we adopted the practice of adjourning at approximately half-past ten on the first night of the week’s sittings, and on the second night, if we adjourned the business before the House at half-past ten and then allowed approximately an hour for debate on the motion for the adjournment.
– The Minister wants to gag the Opposition!
– No. If the honorable member will listen to what I am putting he will appreciate that my proposal will provide rather more opportunity than has existed in the last year for debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House.
On the final night, the Thursday night - and here I invite honorable members who wish to speak to the motion for the adjournment to co-operate by making their wishes known to the Whip of their party - if we find that there is likely to be a number of speakers we shall try to arrange a rather earlier adjournment of the other business before the House in order to enable them to be heard, and still to bring the proceedings of the House to an end at about 11 p.m. I think that most honorable members who have had some experience of the sittings during past years will feel that this is a reasonable distribution of the sitting times at night and that, at least, it merits a full trial.
As to the principal business which will be before the Parliament in this sessional period, we shall be moving immediately to the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply after I have concluded my remarks, and debate on that will be adjourned after the mover and seconder have spoken. As I have already indicated in the notice of speeches will be made by appropriate Ministers on a number of bills, interrupting the debate on the Address-in-Reply. This course, I feel, is justified in our present circumstances because it will enable honorable members to have before them for at least a week and possibly longer the contents of the second-reading speeches on those bills before they are asked to proceed with the debate on that legislation.
Consequently, to-morrow afternoon, after we have dealt with resolutions constituting committees of the Parliament, we will introduce to the second-reading stage - I understand that the Opposition is prepared to give the necessary leave for this purpose - a number of bills, and adjourn the debate on each of them so that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) will be in a position to resume the debate on the AddressinReply at 8 o’clock to-morrow night. The debate on the Address-in-Reply will be continued for the remainder of this week and until towards the end of next week. Precise details of that are yet to be worked out between the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and myself.
We intend to follow thereafter with a statement which will be presented by my colleague-
– Have we to get the right honorable gentleman’s permission to come here at all?
– If the honorable member had to obtain my permission he would not be here at all, having watched him over the last twenty-odd years. He will have all the opportunity he wishes to make known his personality and policies, which are all too familiar to the people of this country.
There will be an opportunity, which, I am sure from the number of questions directed on this matter this afternoon, will be welcomed by honorable members from all parts of the House, to debate a statement on external affairs. For the remainder of the session prior to Easter we will be disposing, as far as we are able, of the legislation which will have been put before the House. After Easter a paper will be presented representing a survey of the economy, upon which a debate will develop; and apart from other legislation to be introduced a Supply Bill will come before the House before the session concludes.
I think it is convenient for honorable members to have a knowledge of these details in their minds so that they can order their own arrangements accordingly. The objectives which I have had in my own mind - and I believe they are objectives which will be warmly endorsed from all parts of the House - are to improve the attendance of honorable members in the House, to improve the quality of the House as a forum of debate, and to strengthen the prestige and authority of the Parliament. It is my own conviction that if these arrangements are given the co-operation of honorable members and a fair trial they will go a long way towards meeting the objectives I have stated.
– by leave - I wish to make only one or two comments on the statement made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt). I suggest the statement should be distributed to honorable members. I gather that the right honorable gentleman has already discussed these matters with his party, and the Opposition should also like to have an opportunity of discussing them. The statement contains some suggestions of value, some of less value, and some, I think, of no value at all. I hope the Minster will consider the position and give the Opposition an opportunity to put its views before the House in an orderly way.
– Perhaps, the Leader of the Opposition might move that the statement be printed.
– I will do that.
– Order! That procedure would be out of order. The statement has not yet been tabled.
– I ask the Minister whether he would mind tabling the statement.
– I was speaking from rough notes only, which have now been given to “ Hansard “. Under the circumstances, I can arrange to have a typewritten version prepared which I shall table to-morrow afternoon. The motion which the Leader of the Opposition has in mind can then be moved.
– I should like the Minister to follow that course.
Mr. Forbes, for the committee appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech presented the proposed address, which was read by the Clerk.
.- I move-
That the following Address-in-Reply to the
Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to -
May it Please Your Excellency -
We, the* House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I should like, before addressing myself to the motion, to say something of my feelings on this occasion of my maiden speech to this House. They are three-fold. The first is a feeling of inadequacy and humility in face of the responsibilities which devolve upon a member of this Parliament; and the second is a feeling of grateful thanks to the electors of Barker, or rather to the act of faith of the electors of Barker, who put me here. It was an act of faith because very few of them knew me. My predecessor, Mr. Archie Cameron, was revered and respected by them over a long period of years. I can only say that I will do my best to live up to the Parliamentary and electoral standards which he set. Thirdly, I am deeply conscious of the honour which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has done me in asking me to move the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech. Of course, I am aware that the mover and seconder are normally chosen from the ranks of new members of this House which, on this occasion, narrows the field somewhat. While J thank the Prime Minister for the honour he has done me, 1 cannot help feeling that I would have preferred a less conspicuous occasion on which to make my initial plunge.
I am sure that all honorable members will join with me in expressing deep pleasure at the visit to Australia of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh on the occasion of the Olympic Games. Those who were present on the opening day will realize how much his presence meant on that occasion. Honorable members will also have noted with satisfaction his progress through many outlying portions of the Commonwealth since he left our shores. I am sure that these visits are of very great practical importance. They bring home, as nothing else could, to the peoples who are growing towards self-government, as well as to those who have reached it, that when we say, as we now do, that the Queen is the head of the Commonwealth, we mean just that. She is no less the living symbol of the association because the form of words happens to have been changed.
I congratulate the Government on the contents of His Excellency’s speech. I had the feeling, as I was listening to His Excellency, that this sounded more like the speech of a government coming fresh to the fray after a long period in Opposition than one which has continuously held the responsibility of government for more than seven years. Nothing could do more to disprove the old dictum that a government in office for a number of years becomes moribund and barren of ideas. On the contrary, His Excellency’s speech is a constructive survey of the problems which this country faces, both in the national sphere and in its international relations. It is a clear statement of the legislative and administrative policy which the Government proposes to follow in the immediate future. It has those undertones of idealism and faith in the future which, 1 feel, are so essentia] to constructive and effective performance in Government.
We may well ask ourselves why this Government has not suffered from the malaise of inaction which eventually brings most governments down and which brought clown this Government’s predecessor. I do not think one has to go far to find the answer. It has been stated many times. The Menzies Government started with the conviction that if Australia is to be made great, if living standards are to be raised, and if a framework is to be created in which all Australians can live a happier, freer and more prosperous life, one must, if the country is to be soundly based, develop its productive resources. Development has been the mainstream of policy which, because of its obvious benefits to all sections of the community, does not look like drying up. That is why the Government has been able to come before honorable members to-day constructive in policy and fertile of ideas. I am quite sure that this concept of development has captured the imagination of the Australian people, particularly the youth of this country, amongst whom I number myself.
Not long after the Menzies Government came to power, I went to the United Kingdom where I had the privilege and good fortune to spend three years at Oxford. It is, perhaps, worth noting in passing that two other members of this House were there at the same time - the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) and the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser). We were then preoccupied with other things and I do not think any of us imagined in our wildest dreams that in a few short years we would be members of this House. Indeed, I do not think I even knew on which side of the political fence they stood, though I had my doubts about the honorable member for Yarra.
I mention my stay overseas to make the point that there is nothing like spending a long time away from it to make a person really appreciate his own country, even if that stay is in a magnificent country like Great Britain. From 12,000 miles away one sees one’s own country in perspective. One sees all its aspects - its virtues and its faults - more clearly, perhaps, than one does on the spot. The effect on me was immeasurably to increase my appreciation of all things Australian. In particular, I had the feeling that at that time I was missing something. It seemed to me that Australia was like a young giant awakening from its lethargy, and flexing its muscles and eager to get on the move. One could almost physically sense that an era of unparalleled development was under way. I felt that it was no time for a young man. to be absent and I longed to return. Nor was I disappointed when I did return. I have found in the electorate of Barker a living example of my aspirations and hopesfor Australia. The development there has been quite remarkable since the present Government created the conditions which touched it off. The energy, enthusiasm and limitless faith in the future that exist over the whole area so exactly match my own mood that I am sure that honorable members will bear with me if I say something about them.
Barker covers the whole of the southeast of South Australia, most of the hills and the coastal plains south of Adelaide and the enchanting Kangaroo Island. It is an area, as honorable members will know, entirely devoted to primary production and the industries based directly on primary production. It produces many of the finer wines in South Australia and contains the whole of the State’s forestry industry, the growth of which has been quite remarkable. From an output of 54,000,000 super, feet ten years ago, production has increased three times to 156,000,000 super, feet and, of course, related industries have increased proportionately. Taking- another example, I point out that the crayfish tails industry has grown in a few years from nothing to the position where it earned this country nearly a half a million badly needed dollars last year. Yet the most spectacular developments have been in the pastoral industry. Ten years ago there were 6,500,000 sheep in the electorate of Barker. Last year there were 13,500,000 - over twice as many. Ten years ago the area produced 63,000,000 lb. of wool. Now production has risen by two and a half times to 158,000,000 lb. These increases are even more remarkable when it is considered that in the same period the cattle population has doubled and the output of all crops has increased - in the case of barley by three and a half times.
The potential development can be gauged by noting that the area of top-dressed (pasture has increased in the period by nearly eight times. In other words, the sheep population will probably double itself in the next few years when young pastures become older and increase their carrying capacity. This result has been achieved ;partly by the process of clearing new land -and bringing it into production, much of it made possible by the use of trace elements. The Australian Mutual Provident Society’s magnificent scheme in the so-called Ninetymile desert is well known. It is not, perhaps, as well known that private individuals have developed in the same area an equal area of land, and that trace elements have been widely used to bring new land into production over the whole of the south-east of South Australia.
The other, and probably the more important factor in this development has been in the scientific improvement of existing pastures - the process by which three or four sheep graze where one grazed before. It is a development which has been brought about by marrying the hard work and practical knowledge of the farmer to the researches of the scientists. This is the modern pioneering technique. The frontiers of settlement in Australia have been pushed back nearly as far as they will go. It would be fair to say, I think, that if there is to be a further increase in agricultural production in this country, relatively little of this increase will come from the development of new land. The new pioneers are those who, in their practical work on farms and their researches in institutions and universities, are pushing back, not the frontiers of settlement, but the frontiers of knowledge. This work is so vital to the future development of the country that they deserve every ounce of support and encouragement that we can give them. I am very glad to note the many proposals in His Excellency’s Speech which deal with this aspect of our development.
I believe that the Government can well be proud of the action it has taken since it came to power to stimulate the output of our rural industries. Our capacity to import the capital goods we require for development depends upon the export income with which we pay for them, and that income is the most important single factor in our progress. Those who believe that, and who recognize that for a very long time to come, and probably for all time, we shall depend for the bulk of our export income on our rural industries, will admit that the present situation must give some cause for disquiet. For example, although the current volume of agricultural production is about 23 per cent, above pre-war levels, it is less than the percentage increase in population. It can be estimated, roughly, that on present rates of population increase, only 24 years will elapse before we become importers of butter, and an even shorter period will elapse before we shall have to import certain other commodities that we now export. For all dairy produce it will be nineteen years, for beef and veal seven years, for mutton four years, and so on. These figures are only approximate, and are worked out on the basis of present percentage increases in production and present per capita consumption levels, but they are, nevertheless, most disturbing.
The principal cause of increased output in our rural industries is the investment of capital, both public and private. A clear recognition of this fact has motivated the Government’s policy since 1949, and a large increase of production has been achieved by measures designed to make investment in our rural industries just as profitable as other avenues of investment. At present, due to a number of factors which I have not time to discuss now, there seems to be no doubt that our rural industries have fallen behind again as an avenue of profitable investment. There appears to be no more crucial problem in Australia to-day than the proper distribution of our capital resources as between the rural industries on the one hand, and the manufacturing industries on the other. I am aware that it is a complex problem, but in my opinion it strikes at the very heart of our future development and greatness. For that reason the balance should and must be redressed. I thank honorable members for the courtesy and tolerance they have extended to me on this occasion.
.- I rise to second the motion. 1 feel that it is a great honour to be associated with this expression of loyalty to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, and I congratulate His Excellency upon his Speech. I take advantage of this opportunity to express my gratitude and sense of duty towards the electors of Wentworth, who were responsible for enabling me to join the ranks of the prime profession. I might venture the thought that whatever may be said about this profession from time to time, it is parliamentary government which is the greatest gift of our forebears to the civilized arts of living, and I am proud to join the ranks. What is more, it will be a sad and sorry day for English-speaking peoples if this profession ever ceases to be the prime profession.
The Governor-General’s Speech dealt with many issues. The speech of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) filled me with a certain amount of selfconsciousness. In the whole of my electorate I have never seen a sheep or a ewe or a ram. His Excellency’s Speech covered a great deal of ground and, in fact, there are many matters upon which the older hands could, and will, no doubt, speak for many hours. However, there is one matter here 1 should like to deal with in the first place. It is contained in these two sentences tucked away in the section dealing with trade -
The United Kingdom has entered upon negotiations for a Free Trade Area which would bring her, and perhaps other countries of Europe, into association with the Common Market of the six. Such far-reaching changes could have important implications for the Australian economy and these developments are being kept under close review.
These developments, I beg to suggest, have implications very much wider than the field of trade. When they were first broached officially at the last meeting of Commonwealth Finance Ministers by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer and now Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Macmillan, and also by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Peter Thorneycroft, their enthusiasm for the proposals was extremely impressive and avowedly political. The present Prime Minister of Great Britain has a long history of association with movements for closer integration in Europe. This meeting took place before the Suez dispute and before the governments of western Europe were so forcibly reminded by the events which followed that without a large degree of unity between them they were of small account in the world of power politics. The forces making for unity will, I believe, receive further impetus in the future, and I should like to suggest that this particular issue is one to which the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) and the Minister for Trade (Mr.
McEwen) will, in the near future, be obliged to give their close attention. If Australia, as such, is to make its views effective as to very important future developments, the sooner those views are formed the more effective they will be.
I should like to turn to that part of the Speech which deals with the economy as a whole. The Governor-General reports that the economy is now on a much more stable basis. He indicates, also, that the views of the Government on the economy, and on future economic policy, are flexible. Hesaid -
My Government accordingly has the facts of the situation and its economic policies under close and continuous review.
He added -
A comprehensive economic statement will soonbe laid before Parliament.
It is in relation to this flexibility of mind on the part of the Government that I should like to make one or two comments, particularly in relation to economic development, which was touched upon by the honorable member for Barker. Economic development, broadly, implies two things. Firstly, it implies the expansion and duplication of existing facilities by the mere expansion of our present population and resources. But it also has a very definite and sometimes conflicting secondary implication of increased productivity, improved standards of living, and increased general wherewithal for production of the existing apparatus.
Ever since World War II., Mr. Speaker, it has been the policy of both the Labour Government and the present Government, which succeeded it, to concentrate upon the gross expansion of the economy, and rightly so, particularly in regard to immigration and the building up of our population. In fact, we took advantage - and are still taking advantage - of a situation in which large numbers of high-class people, who perhaps will not be available later, are prepared to emigrate from other countries. But it would be idle to suggest that this huge immigration programme which has brought so many long-term potential benefits to Australia has not cost us a very high price. We have paid that price with our eyes open, of course. Both governments knew of the immigration programme’s inflationary implications before they ventured to embark upon it. It would be idle for me now to remind the House of the evils of inflation of which it is only too well aware. In fact, the GovernorGeneral mentioned that it cannot be said too frequently that inflation is the enemy of progress and national development. There is in the Governor-General’s speech a long list of the rotten fruits of inflation.
There is mention also of another matter which is perhaps not given so much emphasis - the very harsh imports control which has been the lot of this country ever since the war owing to the payments difficulties which began during the war and have never ceased since, though subject to certain easements from time to time when the price of wool has risen or other rather adventitious circumstances have occurred. After each relaxation we have been obliged, as an alternative to depreciation, to tighten up once more to prop up the value of our currency. On each occasion the measures that we have been obliged to take have been more harsh. Indeed, we have now reached the stage at which old-established businesses, which do not come within the definition of essential businesses, and which have taken many years - in some instances, generations - to build up are being slowly suffocated, not by act of Parliament but by the actions of officials from which, in their very nature, there can be no appeal. In practice, the most effective economic planning in Australia has been undertaken, not as a result of debates in this chamber, or of legislation written into the statute-book, but in the ordinary every-day acts of officials who, by the nature of the system, are accountable to no one. This is one of the severe penalties of inflation. It is inevitable so long as we live with inflation. The only alternative would be a disastrous exchange devaluation of our currency, which, in all probability, would make inflation worse and retard progress in almost every aspect of our economic life.
The only final solution, sir, is to tackle inflation. In saying this, I do not attack in any way the immigration policy which has been one of the main causes of inflation, nor do I indicate that our huge immigration programme has been by any means the only cause of inflation. But it is true to say that an immigration programme providing for the intake of upwards of 100,000 souls a year, and economic stability and the suppression of inflation are incompatible objectives. I believe that both the governments concerned have pursued the right course in suffering this inflation. However, we should recognize the price that we are paying, and from time to time re-think our views on these basic issues. For that reason, I welcome the assurance that all these matters will be kept constantly under review. The Governor-general stated -
My Government will continue an active and balanced immigration programme appropriate in our capacity.
That is entirely unexceptionable. Neither would I wish to advocate, in making these remarks, that we scrap our immigration programme. That is by no means what J would suggest. I do suggest that our future aim should be to pay much more attention to those aspects of development concerned with increasing productivity and developing to the full the schemes that we already have under way, and to pay less attention to our gross immigration intake, because the resources which we apply to one cannot be applied to the other. Whereas both processes must proceed along parallel lines, excessive concentration on one at the expense of the other will lead to a very illbalanced result. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that it is more important to us that two or fewer Australians should be able to do to-morrow what three Australians can do to-day than that we should have a population of 15,000,000 or 18,000,000 by a certain date. .
It is not enough merely to say that we should concentrate on increasing productivity. The Government has already taken action to do so. His Excellency mentioned in his Speech that the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council has this problem under close review, and I welcome the activities of that committee. But the fundamental and greatest contribution to increased productivity can come only from the investment of great amounts of capital. At the moment, we are extremely short of capital. Our transport systems are run down and large numbers of industries and businesses throughout Australia are short of capital, not through any fault of any policy-making body but just because the demands, relative to the supply, are so huge; and what we should concentrate on in the forthcoming years is increasing the supply of capital available to not only private and public industry but almost every fundamental activity in the country. This task is by no means easy. There are only two major sources of supply. One is foreign savings and foreign capital, and the other is domestic savings. The limitations of foreign capital are well known to most honorable members. In fact, if large supplies of foreign capital were now available as they have been in past generations, our immigration programme and our programme to increase productivity and raise the standard of living within Australia could probably both proceed at a much higher level. But these limitations are very severe. We have, in fact, enjoyed a large flow from private sources, but the London market has virtually closed up since the war, except for very minor amounts. The Swiss market is small, and so is the Canadian, which we managed to tap recently. The United States market also is of almost negligible proportions. It is only from the International “ Bank for Reconstruction and Development that we have been able to obtain any regular trickle of capital at all, and even this has been on a very small scale relative to our requirements and our development programme.
If we could enjoy the facilities which are available to Canada it would be of tremendous help. Canada is a classic example of a country which is said to have leapt forward because of vast investments of United States capital; but if we examine the Canadian position carefully, it emerges that 90 per cent, of capital investment in that country since the war has been financed from domestic sources. It is only by expanding our domestic sources of savings that we can hope to indulge in the development which has become the ambition of all respectable Australians. This is a difficult and complex task. It requires, firstly, a confidence that savings will not be eroded by inflation or stolen away by an overgrasping Government. It requires, secondly, that there will be proper rewards, stage by stage, for such saving as is made. I believe that we shall not get enough saving for our Government bond market while it remains true that at the end of a year the sum invested, plus the return of its interest, is less valuable than the total investment made at the beginning of ‘he vear. It is no easy task to retrace our steps in this field. It demands measures which would be unpalatable to every sector of this House.
I believe that we should, in our longterm interests, endeavour to move along this path, but outside government we need a campaign of some sort, probably not governmental, which will interest the vast numbers in this country in investing in our industries. It is only when we have as much interest on the stock market and in our big industrial’ ventures as we now have on the races that, we shall attain a healthy, balanced economy. It is no good expecting the industry of the future to be financed by the few. The next stage in our development should be industry owned, and in which an interest is taken and voted upon by vastly increasingnumbers.
What my plea adds up to in the end isthat for the next few years we should concentrate not so much upon numbers of Australians but upon the individual quality of the Australian.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
In doing so, I take this, the first opportunity,, to congratulate the mover and seconder of the Address-in-Reply upon the speeches that have been delivered to us. We have beer* listening to two thoughtful, earnest and ably presented speeches which indicate to this House that our future discussions will benefit greatly from the contributions of those twohonorable members who have made their maiden speeches to-day. In congratulating them, I am sure I do so on behalf of allhonorable members of this House.
– I join in congratulating the two honorable members who have just delivered two able speeches. I intended todo so when the debate on the AddressinReply is resumed, but I do it now gladly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 5.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 March 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1957/19570319_reps_22_hor14/>.