22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization lay on the table of the House, or make available to honorable members, the papers dealing wilh the sale, or the proposed sale, of an industrial process, of which the right honorable gentleman knows, to an American corporation? Could that be done as soon as possible?
– I cannot undertake to lay any papers on the subject on the table, but f shall certainly undertake to tell the House and the right honorable gentleman the full particulars of the transaction and defend it to the death, if necessary.
– It might come to that.
– I shall most certainly do that. The Government has nothing to apologize for in respect of this matter. I think it is a splendid piece of business. I would be perfectly willing and, indeed, eager to tell the House the full details of this arrangement. As the Minister responsible for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, it has my entire approval and I should be very glad to seek the earliest opportunity that the forms of the House allow to tell honorable members about it.
– I wish to address a question to the Minister for Social Services concerning the extensive additions being made to the Garden Settlement for aged people at Chermside, Brisbane, which is conducted by the Methodist Church. Can the Minister inform the House what amount will be contributed by the Commonwealth Government to the cost of the additions? How much has already been paid and will an additional payment be made in the future?
– I know the great personal interest which the honorable member for Petrie and, indeed, other members representing the State of Queensland, have in the Chermside Garden Settlement. I am sure he will pardon me if 1 speak from memory and state that there have been two applications to the department for a grant under the Aged Persons Homes Act. The firs., application was made, and a grant of £10,000 was approved. It has been paid, the construction has been completed, and the people are happily in occupation. A second application was made, and 1 am pleased to say that a further grant of some £24.000 has been approved. A first instalment of £10,000 of the second grant has been paid, and a further instalment of £12,000 is about to be paid. 1 shall be very pleased if the honorable member for Petrie will agree to represent me at the handing over of the second instalment.
– I desire to address a question to the Minister representing, in this chamber, the Minister for Labour and National Service, who is in another place.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service is in this chamber.
– Oh! 1 thought he was a senator. 1 desire to ask the right honorable gentleman this question: Has consideration been given to the request that I made in this House, both last week and the week before, that coal-miners who have been cavilled out of the mines by a reduction of the number of hands employed be provided with housing in the places to which they have been sent? They have willingly gone far from their homes to the Illawarra district to obtain employment and, having no homes there for their wives and children, have left their families in their homes on the northern coal-field. Can efforts be made to house these coal-miners in the district to which they have gone so that they and their families may live together in happiness?
– It is quite obvious that we age here rather more rapidly that we realize. I do not know whether it is that fact or my dignified bearing that has caused the honorable gentleman’s mistake. I think he knows that the Department of Labour and National Service has been doing all that it can do to promote the smooth transfer of miners, who, owing to the reorganization of the coal industry, have lost their opportunities for work on the northern coal-field of New South Wale* have been trying to fill vacancies tha; are available on the southern field. 1 do not know which district the honorable member refers to, unless it is the Port Kembla area, in respect of which the department has had discussions with the Australian Iron and Steel Company about the absorption of miners from the north. If that company has no hostel accommodation available, we have offered to provide accommodation in the hostels operated by Commonwealth Hostels Limited. 1 suggest that the honorable member give mc particular instances of what he has in mind.
– Move their homes.
– I understand that that is what the honorable member wants. If he will give me the names of the people concerned and information about their particular problems, I shall arrange for consideration to be given as to how we can help.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry made arrangements for the testing of a drying plant in the Kingaroy district in an endeavour to assist the peanut industry particularly? Has the testing begun, and what other commodities does the Minister suggest would benefit from the process, if it is successful?
– I well remember a very pleasing trip to Kingaroy with the honorable gentleman. I was impressed at the time by the great interest that he has taken in the development of the peanut industry. I am glad to be able to advise the honorable member that, since my return, I have looked for some means by which the peanut industry could be helped, particularly in the drying of peanuts during wet seasons. Sir, I am sure the honorable member will be glad to know that recently the Commonwealth agreed to establish a pilot plant in that area for the drying of peanuts when they cannot be dried by normal means. It is also thought that research processes should be carried a stage further and therefore the department would like it to be known that the pilot plant can be used for drying maize, navy beans, and similar produce. If the honorable member could help by making this well known, it would be appreciated. 1 am certain that the honorable member, when he sees the pilot plan in operation, will be very phased.
– I direct a question without notice to the right honorable the Prime Minister. I desire to know whether it is a fact, as reported, that the right honorable gentleman has received the Lions International Order of Merit for his alleged world leadership and interest in peace. Will the Prime Minister say whether the granting of this award arises from his intervention in the Suez dispute, or has the President of the Lions International, who I understand made the order, a colossal sense of humour?
– Sir, the answer to the first part of the question is “ Yes “. The answer to the second part does not lie within my bounds; but I strongly suspect that one of the purposes of this gift was to enable me to be attacked by the honorable member for East Sydney.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs say whether it is possible to prevent a recurrence of the case that occurred recently in which an American citizen was able to obtain duplicate passports from the United States Consulate and take his children away to America from their mother, who had the original passports in her possession?
– I think I recognize the case that the honorable member refers to and, although I do not pretend for a moment to have the full story in my mind, as I understand it, the man in question was an American citizen and under American law his children are, at birth, American citizens. So he had the full right, as I understand it, to make application to the American Consul, or Consulate-General, for a passport in respect of his children. That is a right that the Australian Government could not take away from an American citizen, nor would it wish to take such a right from an American citizen in respect of his own children, who are. presumably, themselves
American citizens. That is the case as 1 know it. i do not know of any hardship that may have been caused.
If the honorable member wishes, I will have the matter gone into fully so far as it concerns my department and advise the honorable member further; but those seem to me to be the basic facts of the case.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether the Government has decided to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act, and if so, whether he has kept the Treasurer fully informed of the Government’s decision in this regard?
– No decision on that matter will be taken without the full knowledge and participation of my colleague, the Treasurer.
– I direct a question without notice to the Minister for External Affairs concerning Addu Atoll, in the Maldive Islands. Could the Minister state the terms of the lease that has been agreed upon by the United Kingdom Government with the present administration of those islands? Is an airfield and/or a naval base in the course of construction there? If so, when will the work be completed, and is it not true that this agreement could be of great assistance and significance to Australia?
– I have not seen the terms of the agreement, but I think I know the main facts of the proposal, namely the decision of the United Kingdom Government to create a transit air field on Addu Atoll, in the Maldive Islands. The Maldive Islands is an independent sultanate which has been under the protection of Great Britain so far as its external affairs are concerned, whilst having full control of its own domestic affairs. The Sultan of the Maldive Islands, in his capacity as Head of State, made a voluntary arrangement with the British Government in the latter part of 1956. That arrangement was consummated, I believe, in January of this year. Under it, the United Kingdom Government and the Maldive Islands Government agreed to the creation of, I understand, a large air force transit airfield on the Addu Atoll, which is one of a very large number of islands making up the Maldive group. As I say, I do not know the details of the arrangement, nor have I heard that there is any proposal for the creation of a naval base; 1 have heard only of the transit airfield. The arrangement was voluntarily entered into by the Government and Sultan of the Maldive Islands, as was their full right, and the proposal is going ahead. The history of the Maldive Islands, so far as it is relevant to the honorable gentleman’s question, is that the Maldives is a very large group of islands roughly 400 miles south-west of Ceylon, lt has been under the protection, so far as its external affairs are concerned, of the United Kingdom since some time in the 1880’s. The means of communication between the United Kingdom Government and the Maldives was, before Ceylon became independent under the Crown, through the Governor of Ceylon. That gave it a degree of link, but it was only a personal link through the Governor and has not been challenged even by the present Prime Minister of Ceylon. The Maldives have full right to enter into an arrangement with the United Kingdom Government. There were interpolations, I believe, in the Ceylon Parliament to another effect, but I do not think they were taken seriously. I shall attempt to get further relevant details for the honorable gentleman about the airfield, but the broad facts are as I have stated.
– I address a question to the Minister for Health. Can the Minister give me any information about the treatment of leukemia and cancer by chemical means? In particular, has he any information about the statements recently made in Sydney by Dr. Merrill Sosman?
Sosman is a distinguished American professor who is now visiting this country on behalf of the Australian Post-graduate Committee in Medicine. He is reported to have spoken in Sydney about the chemical treatment of cancer and leukemia. He was referring to the use of substances which are known as anti-folic and anti-purine substances and which have the property of inhibiting the growth of living cells. This property is being examined in Australia. Quite a lot of work is being done at the Australian National University into the chemical nature of these substances, and, in both Sydney and Melbourne, into their therapeutic use. The honorable gentleman will be interested to know that some synthesis of chemico-therapeutic substances for use in cancer is being done at the University of Technology in Sydney. The present position is that the only effect produced in the living subject in leukemia in which these substances have been used, has been one of pecans some palliation of the disease. As far as I know, no real effect has been produced clinically on other forms of cancer. lt would be quite wrong for me to give the impression that we are on the verge of acquiring some wonderful new weapon in the treatment of this disease. Although this is a very interesting field of research, and may perhaps become a very valuable one, so far it has contributed a great deal of knowledge but very little to the actual cure of the disease.
– My question, which is directed to the Treasurer, has relation to the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act, which provides, amongst other things, that 40 per cent, of the money allocated to the States under that act must be spent on rural roads other than main roads, and that the States must submit an audited report for each financial year showing how the money has been spent. I ask the Treasurer whether the States have complied with this latter requirement for the last financial year, and, if so, whether the money has been spent in the way intended by the legislation.
– This matter really comes under the jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport. However, in my capacity as Treasurer I have inquired whether the financial provisions of the act have been faithfully complied with by the States, and whether the Auditors-General of the States have given the necessary confirmation that 40 per cent, of the allocations have been spent on rural roads. I am informed that all States have complied with the requirements of the act.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Treasurer, by stating that officers of the Australian Government and the Queensland Government, together with representatives of the International Bank for Reconstruction and
Development, have investigated the request of the Queensland Government for financial assistance to recondition or standardize the railway from Mount isa to Townsville, because of the tremendous mineral development taking place in the Mount IsaCloncurry area. Will the Treasurer arrange for honorable members from both sides of this House to visit the area in question during the winter recess, so that the Parliament may become better informed on the potentialities of this vulnerable area, and the desirability of the proposed standardization for defence and developmental reasons? As one Queenslander to another, I hope the Treasurer will not let Queensland down.
– In reply to the concluding remark of my fellow Queenslander, the Queenslanders know that I have never let them down. As to the request contained in the earlier remarks of the honorable member, 1 may say that when we get the money that we are seeking for this work we will not merely visit the area concerned, we will have a party there.
– In view of the recent decision of the Australian Labour party conference in Brisbane to call for a repeal of the secret ballot legislation initiated by this Government, will the Minister for Labour and National Service make a statement to the House showing the results of the legislation since it was passed in 1951?
– I think it would be very useful for the House to have an up-to-date statement along the lines proposed by the honorable member. I suggest that he put a question in suitable form on the notice-paper, so that I may give him a detailed reply. I can, however, indicate to him and to the House at this stage not only that the legislation has operated very successfully for several years since it was introduced, but also that it has been encouraging to find that some 130 applications have been made, from a wide variety of unions, to use the provisions of the legislation, which we felt would enable democratic control by rank and file unionists of the affairs inside their own unions. The Australian Communist party has conducted a consistent and bitter campaign against the legislation ever since it was introduced. That, Mr. Speaker, is understandable, because our experience has shown that no weapon has operated more effectively inside the industrial movement to rid it of the influence of communism than has the secret ballot which has permitted this demo: rata supervision by the members of the unions. It is clear, from the reaction of certain unions to the decision of the Brisbane conference, that they resent this attempt to cast aside legislation that they have found so beneficial in ridding their ranks of the Communists who were in control before. I say, sir, that it is understandable why the Communist party should do this. It is not so readily understandable why a party which claims as it did in its Brisbane conference discussions to be fighting communism, should line up, as it did, on the unity ticket basis with the Communist party in order to destroy legislation which has limited the influence of the Communist party in the industrial field.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories, and with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall remind the House that, recently, I brought to the notice of the Parliament an unfortunate incident concerning an exserviceman named Bowden who was imprisoned in Samarai as a prohibited immigrant. I have received from the gentleman concerned a message which states that, late in February, he booked and paid for certain equipment of the ship “ Alfa “, which is his own property and which is almost unique in the trochus fishing industry. Consequently, he considers it to be very valuable. That property was to have left Samarai in the “ Bulolo “, the Burns Philp agency ship, but has not been received by him. Will the Minister ascertain whether the delivery of those goods has been delayed as the result of activities of officers of the Department of Territories, and will he try to find out what has occurred to them?
– I shall, of course, make inquiries, as requested by the honorable member, but T should like to point out to him that, as a result of the way in which the gentleman on whose behalf he speaks conducted his own affairs, the ship, and T assume all that is in it. was being detained, and I think is still being detained, because it is the subject of a number of claims against it.
– This stuff is not on the ship.
– This gentleman went to Samarai, and on arrival there he was liable to prosecution on three separate charges. He was not prosecuted but was allowed to leave the port, having given an explicit assurance and having been issued with ship’s papers for a direct return to Townsville. He left behind a debt of £120 owing to a local shipyard, which had put his ship into a seaworthy condition. So far as I know, that claim has not yet been satisfied, and the local shipwright has put it in the hands of his solicitors to make a claim against the vessel. Then, over three weeks later, it was found that he was still fishing around the islands, having broken his explicit promise to the officers of the Administration and having acted contrary to the papers which had been issued to him for his voyage. He was then liable - and I am fully satisfied on this point from examination of all the papers - to prosecution for having unlawfully employed natives, in contravention of the native employment ordinance. He was also liable for prosecution for having infringed the immigration ordinance of the Territory by having made landings at various places where he was not authorized to land; and he was also liable to prosecution, as he had been previously liable, for fishing in those waters without a licence. He was not prosecuted on those three counts; he was prosecuted on only one, and I think that if any blame is attachable to any officers of the Administration it is only on the grounds of their excessive leniency towards this gentleman. Then, I understand that the owner of this vessel approached the Administration and asked it to take some action to protect the interests of the owner, for this man Bowden did not own the vessel; he was operating it under some sort of agreement with the owner. So I imagine that any things relating to the vessel itself and the contents of the vessel are subject to legal claims which have been made by people in the Territory, by the Administration and by the owner of the vessel. I assure the honorable member that, just as I have made very detailed and very careful inquiries, at his request, into the whole history of the incident and have now had an opportunity to place those details before the House, so I shall make, at his request, further inquiries. I hope that the results or those inquiries will not be any less creditable to the gentleman concerned than the results of the previous inquiries.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. As the work of the existing repatriation tribunals appears to be so considerable as to result in some delay in the hearing of appeals, will the Minister consult with his colleague, the Minister for Repatriation, whom he represents in this House, to see whether the time is opportune to appoint a further tribunal to assist in this work?
– 1 shall consult with my colleague and supply the honorable gentleman with an answer to his question.
– 1 address a question to the Prime Minister. The Commonwealth and State Hospitals Agreement expires in June of this year. Have representations been received from all States for an increase of the Commonwealth grant of 8s. a day? Has the Prime Minister given consideration to that request? If so, is he now in a position to advise the Parliament of the Government’s decision? I understand that the right honorable gentleman stated that the Commonwealth was examining other proposals in connexion with this matter. Is he now in a position to make the details of those proposals available to honorable members?
– The Minister for Health will answer the question.
– The position is that formal notification will be required before the Commonwealth and State Hospitals Agreement actually terminates, which will not be until August of this year. If formal notification were not given, there would be a hiatus between the termination of the present agreement and the negotiation of a new one. Steps have been taken to ensure that there will be no hiatus. The details of any proposals by this Government will be announced in the House at the appropriate time.
– Can the
Minister for Primary Industry inform me of the action that has been taken on the recommendations by the Australian Meat Board that certain changes be made in the regulations applicable to the grading of export beef?
– The Australian Meat Board recently submitted recommendations to me that certain changes in the grading of export meat be undertaken. The purpose was to ensure that over-fat meat and heavy quarters would be cut out and thai, as far as was practicable, the size and weight of beef shipped overseas would be reduced. The reason for the recommendations was twofold. First, it is difficult to sell fatty beef overseas, and secondly, it is desired to introduce effective and efficient methods of animal husbandry in Australia. The Government has agreed to the proposals of the board, which have the wholehearted approval of the majority of meat producers, particularly those in the vital areas of Queensland, lt is the hope of the Government that such a measure will lead, not only to an increase of prices for the producers, but also to long-term help for the industry.
– In answer to a question recently, the Treasurer stated that £2,100,000 had been collected by the Commonwealth in the past three years, under the Commonwealth aid roads legislation, for expenditure on strategic roads and roads of access to Commonwealth property, but that only £1,400,000 had been expended, leaving a balance of £700,000. I ask the Treasurer: What has been done with that £700,000? Will he take action to see that it will be expended on roads, especially in view of the very bad condition of the roads throughout Australia?
– Money expended on defence roads is allocated according to the recommendations of the Defence Committee, and that procedure will apply, and will be complied with.
– In directing a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer the honorable gentleman to his announced intention to introduce legislation to enable the Australian Meat Board to undertake sales promotion in I:le home market. Will the Minister also take steps to help the dairying industry embark on a similar sales promotion scheme through the Australian Dairy Produce Board, in order to offset the fall in consumption of butter last year by 1 lb. a head?
– 1 am very glad to be able to inform the honorable gentleman, who has shown a continued interest in this problem, that the Victorian Dairymen’s Association, the Primary Producers Union of New South Wales and, very shortly, the Queensland dairymen’s organization, will all be participating, voluntarily, in an advertising campaign to sell more milk and milk products. There has been considerable cooperation among the three organizations, particularly through the agency of the Australian Dairy Produce Board. I do not think it is necessary for the Government, or me, to intervene, because these three organizations are getting on with the job, and I hope that they will do it most efficiently. Nonetheless, I shall keep my eye on the matter, and if I think there is any contribution that the Government can make, I will see that the department takes the necessary action.
– ls the PostmasterGeneral able to announce a firm date for the opening of the new Australian Broadcasting Commission studios in Canberra, referred to in the annual report of the commission as coming into service early in 1957? Can the Minister say whether the technical facilities being provided are considered adequate to the needs of the national capital from which are originated many programmes, talks and interviews broadcast by the national networks? Will the Minister discuss this question with senior engineers of his department in order to ensure that the facilities yet to be provided will be adequate in every respect?
– I understand that the new facilities to be provided for the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Canberra are considered adequate to the requirements of service to this area. However, in view of the honorable gentleman’s request, I shall check to make sure that that is the case. I am sorry that 1 cannot give the honorable member a firm date as yet tor the commencement of operations in thi. new studio, but 1 shall rind out and let aim know that also.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry received a memorandum from the Associated Poultry Farmer of Australia giving details of a proposed stabilisation plan for their industry? Is he able to say what type of action the Government may be able to take in regard to such a proposal?
– i have not received recommendations or proposals from the poultry industry for a stabilization plan for the producers, but several honorable members, particularly the honorable member for Deakin, have discussed the problem with me, and I have read in the press statements that it is the intention of the poultry industry to submit a plan. As soon as that is done, 1 shall advise the honorable member and, at a later stage, I shall acquaint the honorable member with the Government’s intentions.
– Will the Minister for Defence say whether it is a fact that the British Minister for Defence offered the use of the Woomera rocket range for the testing of American guided missiles and other weapons? If so, was this offer made with the authority of the Australian Government? Will the Minister give an assurance that no such use of Woomera rocket range will be agreed to without the authority of the Australian Parliament?
– I think that the honorable member knows that the Wommera rocket range is a joint enterprise operated by the Australian and British Governments. No arrangements have been made for the use of that range without the agreement of the Australian Government. I certainly know of no such suggestion as the honorable member has mentioned having been made by the Minister for Defence of the United Kingdom.
– Has the Minister for Supply any information on recent reports that it is now considered possible to explode atomic or hydrogen bombs without detection? If he has, will he make it available to this House for the benefit of the democratic socialist members?
– 1 have no direct knowledge of the matter. This morning I chanced to be speaking to Professor Titterton, who discussed some - to me rather esoteric - aspects of the matter. My underStanding of the subject is not sufficient to justify my seeking to convey the information even to Opposition members.
– Will the Treasurer agree to take action which will result in the Commissioner of Taxation granting, as a lax rebate, the full amount provided for tool and clothing allowances under the terms of all Federal and State industrial awards?
– The question raised by the honorable member is obviously one of policy and it will be considered in due course.
– Does the Minister for Health consider that sufficient support is being given to those engaged in cancer research in this country? Further, will he have prepared, in language understandable to the lay mind, a survey showing the full ramifications of cancer research in Australia?
– It is rather difficult to say just what is “ sufficient support “ for any particular line of research. If the research discovers the cause and cure of cancer, whatever support it has been receiving will have been adequate; but research may continue for a very long time before either of those things is discovered. A great deal of the research into both the cause and the cure of cancer is being done in Australia, but we should bear in mind that it is not all being done in the laboratory. A great deal is clinical work done at hospitals by surgeons operating, or by post-graduate lectures and teaching, and it would be very difficult to say how adequately all of this is supported. I will endeavour to produce for the honorable gentleman a more or less comprehensive statement about it, but I am afraid that the adequacy of the support given to cancer research will still be largely a matter of opinion.
– My question to the Minister for the Interior relates to an earlier question about a proposal to print a booklet on first aid for distribution throughout the Civil Defence Organization. On the 27th March, the Minister stated that he had now ascertained that a draft of the proposed publication had been submitted to the Publications Committee some time ago. Also, that the committee had decided that the printing of the booklet should be deferred pending determination of some aspects of Government policy in relation to civil defence. He added that the matter was still under consideration. As the money to defray the cost of this booklet was, I understand, allocated in the last budget, will he be a little more explicit and elucidate the committee’s reason for the hold-up? Will he also say if, and when, the committee referred it to him for his decision?
– I think that the honorable gentleman will appreciate that a booklet on first aid, such as that to which he refers, is only one aspect of the publicity which would have to be given to all branches of a civil defence effort, and until there is agreement on wider matters I consider it hardly worth while to issue one particular book. However, the draft is available and when certain matters of policy have been clarified its publication will be given consideration.
– 1 ask the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization whether, in view of the great importance of the wool industry, as illustrated in our economy this year, special attention has been given to two particular troubles which have afflicted a large number of flocks, especially in the northern part of New South Wales and southern Queensland. The first is known as itch mite. It lives in the skin of the animal, making life a misery to it, and it destroys the wool. The other is foot rot. I ask the Minister whether the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has directed special attention to these two matters and whether consideration has been given to the transmittable and infectious nature of the troubles, which require special sterilization and disinfection of all vehicles that are regularly used for transporting animals from one part of a State to another and from one State to another. What information can the Minister give the House upon that subject?
– I am not anything like as well acquainted with itch mite as I should like to be. Politically speaking, I understand what the honorable gentleman means, but, from the physical point of view, I will certainly take immediate steps to become very much better acquainted with itch mite than I am at this moment. I will inform the honorable gentleman, not only what the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is doing, but also what the State Departments of Agriculture and other appropriate bodies are doing. Foot rot is known only too well. It has been a continuing problem over the years and over the generations. Work is currently being done on foot rot. I should not like to set out precisely to answer the honorable gentleman’s question, but I shall get myself up to date on it and advise him.
Forty-sixth Annual Report.
– I lay on the table the following papers: -
Postmaster-General’s Department - Forty-sixth Annual Report, for year 1955-56.
Financial and Statistical Bulletin, for year 1955-56.
I ask for leave to make a short statement on the bulletin.
– In previous years it has been the practice to append to the annual report of the Postmaster-General a number of statistical tables and financial statements. The value of this information to honorable members is undoubted, but it has been found that its preparation has tended to delay the presentation of the report to Parliament. I have therefore decided that, commencing with this year, the annual report will be confined to matters descriptive of the work and progress of the department, major developments in the postal and telecommunications fields and a brief financial summary.
The former statistical and financial appendices to the report have been published as a separate document under the title of the “ Financial and Statistical Bulletin “. In addition, they have been expanded to give a more detailed statistical picture of the department’s activities. Thispractice will continue in future. On thisoccasion, the bulletin is presented to theParliament at the same time as the report. In future years, it is intended that the report will be presented earlier in the financial year and the bulletin as soon as it can be prepared, but at a subsequent date. This will avoid any delay in presenting the report.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be given to the honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Jack) owing to his absence from Australia.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) proposed -
That leave of absence for two months be given to the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. H. V. Johnson) on the ground of ill health,
– I think that it would be agreeable to the House if the Leader of the Opposition informed his colleagues that we regret, the occasion of their absence. We, of course, approve entirely of leave of absence being given to them. I should also add, although it is a little irregular, that I have heard that the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) had been advised that he could not properly or comfortably attend this session. I wish also to convey to him the wishes of the House for a very speedy recovery.
– in reply - I shall gladly do so, as representing the feeling of the House. I have already informed the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) about the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) and I will communicate the messages to the honorable members concerned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreedto -
That it is expedientthat an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for ana to make provisionfor the grant of financial assistance to States in connexion with universities.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Menzies and Mr. Town leydo prepare andbring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Menzies. and read a first time.
. -I move -
That the bill be now read a secondtime.
The bill is in a form which is now, 1 think, familiar to all honorable members. They will recall that since 1950 the Commonwealth has made grants to the States for university purposes under legislation similar to that now before the House. The present bill seeks to make provision for continued Commonwealth assistance in this field, not for one year, but for the years 1957 and 1958. Prior to 1950. the Commonwealth made grants to universities for research and paid substantial subsidies to meet the cost of training ex-servicemen under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. In 1950 a committee of inquiry into various aspects of university training and finance recommended certain principles for Commonwealth assistance to universities, and those principles have been the basis of the annual grants and annual legislation ever since.
This bill introduces no new principle. It follows the same form and model followed by the 1951 act and the other acts up to and including that of 1956. But, as I have said, it does provide for grants for two years. The reason for this is that, as honorable members know, we recently announced the appointment of a committee of inquiry to investigate the future structure, organization, and functions of the universities in Australia. It is a very strong committee, under the chairmanship of Sir Keith Murray, who is chairman of the University Grants Committee in the United Kingdom. Whatever investigations the committee undertakes will be conducted with great skill and knowledge, and whatever recommendations it makes will deserve the serious consideration of the Government and of the Parliament. The investigations made by the committee, which will be conducted over a period of about three months will undoubtedly touch upon many aspects of university problems. In the meantime, it seems to the Government that, over the next two years the universities should be able to count upon definite provision by the Commonwealth at least, in additionto their other revenues. That is why we have adopted a measure to cover a period of two years.
I may say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that although the mechanism obviously is the same - the basic grant principle and the secondary grant principle are the same - an important change will be made in the amounts of the grants. The total grant paid under the 1951 measure, whichI introduced in this House, was £1,103.000. Under the 1956 act, the total grant for the financial year nearly ended will be a little more than £2,000,000. Under this bill, the calculation of the amounts, so far as one can judge them at this stage, would have led to the conclusion that they would be £2,250,000 in the first year and £2.285,000 in the second year. We have provided for an appropriation of £2,300,000 in each year; so that the total over the next two years will be £4,600,000. Without wishing to encourage any undue hopes, [ say that that will in fact be a minimum. The universities will be guaranteed that amount. If other rules have to be applied and other amounts worked out as a result of investigations and recommendations that seem to the Government and the Parliament to be good that can be done. But under this bill the universities including the residential colleges, which will receive about £50,000 a year under this measure, will know at any rate what they can safely expect to receive from the Commonwealth over the next two years.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill, which was initiated in the Senate, makes provision for some minor amendments to the Lighthouses Act 1911-1955. There have been few amendments to this act since it was proclaimed to come into operation in 1915, but small amending acts were passed in 1919, 1942, and 1949. The 1949 measure provided for the extension of the Lighthouses Act to the Territories of Papua and New Guinea, and the main purpose of the present bill is to extend the act to the new Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. This extension will transfer to the Department of Shipping and Transport the responsibility for the maintenance and improvement of existing aids to marine navigation, and the provision of any additional aids that may become necessary in the new territory.
The opportunity is being taken also to amend certain provisions of the act so that they will express more clearly the original intentions. There are in certain sections of the act references to lighthouses and marine marks, but it is not clearly indicated that the references are to lighthouses or marine marks which are the property of the Commonwealth, although this was obviously the original intention. Sections 7, 19 and 19a of the act contain such references, and the respective provisions are being amended where necessary to indicate that they apply only to Commonwealth lighthouses and marine marks.
The act at present provides that notice must be given of damage to a lighthouse or marine mark in a State or in the Territories of Papua and New Guinea. With the extension of the act to the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, a similar requirement in respect of that territory is necessary, and provision is made in the bill accordingly. At present, there is no provision for notice to be given of damage to a lighthouse or marine mark in the Northern Territory or the Jervis Bay area of the Australian Capital Territory. This omission is being rectified in the bill.
The proposals are recommended for the favorable consideration of all honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Ward) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The main purposes of this bill are to effect several administrative changes in the control exercised by the Department of Customs and Excise in relation to the protection of the revenue on beer. One of the clauses of the bill will eliminate what is considered to be an unnecessary form of control over beer transferred from one brewery to another prior to the final payment of duty. Present legislation obliges brewers to affix printed “ permit “ forms to each vessel so transferred. It is proposed to dispense with “ permits “ and rely on cart-notes, which are prescribed as basic documents so far as all deliveries of beer are concerned. Effective control will in no way be diminished, and the department and brewers will be relieved of unnecessary paper work.
This bill provides also for an amendmenof the principal act which will make it mandatory for a licensed publican to cut the beer duty stamp affixed to any vessel which he sells to a person not licensed to sell beer by retail. Practical and legal difficulties have been experienced under the present law which gives the publican an option to cut the stamp at the time of sale or when the vessel is opened. The bill also introduces provision similar to that incorporated in the Excise Act and the Distillation Act, in 1952, whereby collectors of customs were given the legal means of claiming the duty due on excisable goods and spirits not satisfactorily brought to account by the person responsible for their control or custody. The amendment proposed extends the same principle to beer, and is necessary, as this commodity is dealt with by an act of Parliament separate from those dealing with spirits and other excisable goods.
A further amendment proposed by the bill is on parallel lines with legislation contained in the Distillation Bill of 1956 dealing with spirits. This amendment relates to circumstances in which a brewer’s licence is cancelled or expires and is not renewed. The Department of Customs and Excise will be given the power in these cases to deal with beer, subject to duty, which remains on brewery premises. However, collectors of customs may, if necessary, dispose of such beer only under the conditions specified in the proposed amendment.
The bill also contains several drafting amendments and provides for the omission of certain references to amounts of licencefees and securities which have since been prescribed in regulations. I present the bill for the favorable consideration of honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The main purposes of this bill are firstly to amend the Excise Act 1901-1952 to give the Department of Customs and Excise certain powers to deal with excisable goods remaining at factories after cancellation or expiry of a licence, and secondly, to exempt from excise duties stores used within Australia on certain aircraft operating overseas. With regard to the first amendment which I have mentioned the House may recall that a similar amendment relating to spirits was contained in the Distillation Bill of 1956, which was considered and passed by honorable members during the last sitting.
It is general practice for manufacturers who cease production’ to dispose of remaining stocks of excisable goods prior to thenlicences expiring. On at least one occasion, however, goods liable to excise duty remained at premises after cancellation of a manufacturer’s licence by the Minister consequent upon departmental action against the licensee. The law as it now stands does not provide any authority to deal with such goods in these circumstances. It is undesirable therefore that a situation can arise where the department has no direct control over goods on which an excise is imposed, and the amendment proposed by this bill will give collectors of customs the necessary powers in this regard.
In regard to the amendment relating to aircraft stores, it is proposed by this bill to exempt from duty excisable stores used within Australia by aircraft passengers and crew, or for the services of Australian aircraft engaged on an international air service and of foreign aircraft registered in countries which offer similar duty exemptions on stores used by Australian aircraft in those countries. The granting of reciprocal duty exemptions is bound by air transport agreements between the countries concerned, and the Customs Act already embodies legislation on these lines.
The opportunity has been taken also by this bill to remove from the act scales of licence-fees and securities, the amounts of which have since been prescribed in regulations. Further, the forms in which securities may be taken by the department have been widened in line with a proposed amendment of the Customs Act. The bill is submitted for favorable consideration of honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 20tb March (vide page 46), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, this bill is in keeping with this Government’s policy of chasing around the world trying to get a few pounds here and there to help this country to keep going, although Australia is being advertised everywhere as being remarkably prosperous. We have been told by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on numerous occasions that this nation never knew such prosperity as it is enjoying to-day. If that be true, strangely enough, at the same time, the Government is seeking to raise whatever loans it can wherever it can possibly raise them.
The Opposition is in a difficulty with regard to this legislation. It does not know how justified is the expenditure involved in the purchase of seven Boeing jet aircraft. The Opposition wants to see the Australian air fleets, whether they be Qantas or other airlines operating inside Australia, equipped with the latest and most efficient aircraft. True it is that the responsibility of a government is to see that our aircraft are as good as those of any other country, if only for reasons of competition. Moreover, the primary reason of safety demands that we should equip our airlines with the best aircraft available.
The Opposition does not oppose the second reading of this legislation, although it is not happy with the principle of overseas borrowing, or with the terms upon which the Government has borrowed under this legislation. The bill has two purposes: It authorizes the raising of money, and it validates an agreement long since made, under which some of the money has already been expended. Parliament is being asked in a nonchalant sort of way to give its approval to what the Government has done. We were provided with no effective opportunity of protesting, if we so desired, against the raising of the money. Our signatures are on the agreements and to throw out or repudiate this legislation, particularly as it affects an important instrumentality like flying machines, would lead the country into very great difficulties.
This is a peculiar piece of legislation in that it proposes to authorize the borrowing of money from two sources for one purpose. The purpose is the purchase of seven Boeing jet aircraft, four propeller-driven Super Constellations, and other ancillary equipment and spare parts. We are borrowing 27,000,000 dollars from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and from what is so nicely described as a group of institutional lenders.
– “ Institutional “ is a good word.
– Yes, it is. The phrase is entirely euphemistic. When we look at the second schedule to the bill we find that these institutional lenders consist of J. P. Morgan and Company (Incorporated) and a number of their friends. Why did not the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) say in the first place that the Government had gone to the company of J. P. Morgan, that extraordinarily generous philanthropist in American history, whose firm helped to create so much misery - if it did also help some development - in the United States in the final decades of the nineteenth century? We are borrowing 17,000,000 dollars from this small group of institutional lenders and we are borrowing 9,230.000 dollars from the bank. The Government says-I think rightly, and that is another reason why the Opposition does not desire to test the measure by a vote - that an agreement has been effected between the Commonwealth and Qantas whereby Qantas will assume full responsibility for meeting payments of principal, interest and all other costs of the borrowing. The Treasurer rightly says that, in these circumstances, there will be no call on Commonwealth cash resources in the long run because of this borrowing. At the moment, the Commonwealth has raised the money and, as the Treasurer’s speech indicates, some of it has been spent. But when Qantas begins to earn money from the operation of the aircraft, it will be in a position to pay back its indebtedness.
I hope - and I think every honorable member hopes - that the Director-General of Civil Aviation and the chief executive officers of Qantas on their trip to America will be able to make agreements with the United States for a trans-America crossing of Qantas planes. That would certainly save a good deal of dollar expenditure by travellers, would ease the strain on the Australian economy and, if the carriage of passengers were permitted in America, could win additional dollars for us.
As I have said, we on this side of the House do not know enough about the technicalities of the problem. We do not know, for instance, whether Qantas, in buying these jet-engined aircraft from the United States, is making the best possible purchase in all the circumstances. We do not know whether comparable British jet machines, which would give us as good service as the American machines, could have been bought. If such machines are available, it seems to us that the strain upon our dollar reserves would have been relieved by the purchase of aircraft in Great Britain instead of in the United States. The state of the British economy at the present time is such that we would naturally desire to help it rather than spend our money in a country where there are buoyant conditions generally and where they have no need to look to us to help them maintain economic stability.
– England has just bought American machines.
– And America has bought British machines. America bought a number of Viscount airliners, which are turbo-prop machines. America may be buying British machines, but I should have imagined that, after all the investigations that have been made into the safety of the British machine called the Comet, that aircraft would have been equally as suitable on our long-distance flights as are American machines.
– The Comet is not comparable.
– The Minister informs me that the Comet is not comparable, and 1 accept his judgment because I know he has a knowledge of aircraft which we do not pretend to have. It seems to us, on ihe face of it anyhow, that there must be some British machines that would be as nearly comparable or would not be far away in standards from those of the American machines.
I notice the Treasurer said that, after a most intensive study of all types of machines available. Qantas has chosen the Boeing 707/138 as being most suited to its needs. Presumably it was because Qantas itself asked for these machines, rather than that the Government was convinced that they were the best machines, that Qantas has been provided with the money to purchase them and, as a consequence, this agreement has been made.
The other argument advanced by the Government in support of the purchase of the Boeing jets and the Super Constellations covered by this agreement is that the scheduled delivery date in 1959 fits in particularly well with the inevitable replacement of the present fleet of Super Constellations. If other machines could have been obtained from Britain by the same date, I suppose - I do not know - that the Government would have considered the purchase of the British machines. However, the Government does not say that British machines would not be available at that time, but seems to indicate by implication that the British machines could not bc obtained until a later date.
The Government says that the proposed terms and conditions of the borrowing were submitted to members of the Australian Loan Council and that they concurred fully in this purchase. I should like to know, and I am sure that other honorable members are equally inquisitive, whether the Government told the members of the Australian Loan Council any more than it is telling the Parliament about this particular purchase, or whether the members of the Australian Loan Council - that is the Treasurers of the various States - were so uninterested in all these matters that they gave a prompt approval without knowing anything more about this proposal than the message contained in the Treasurer’s correspondence with them. Perhaps the Government would table that correspondence before the measure passes through committee, so that we may know whether we are being told any more or any less than the State Treasurers were told.
The Treasurer has said that this is the first loan received by Australia from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for purposes other than general development. When the fourth loan raised from the International Bank in 1955 was considered by the Parliament, the Treasurer said that 27,000,000 dollars of the moneys raised by previous loans had been used for both overseas and domestic air routes. We have borrowed money on previous occasions and lent it to airline companies, and. as the Treasurer said, som, of that money was used for overseas airlines. The Parliament, therefore, has been misled to that extent by the Treasurer in his speech.
We are continuing to borrow from America, as 1 have said, because this bill is ancillary to a later bill dealing with the fifth loan that has been negotiated with this particular bank. The bank treats us not generously but just as harshly as it treats any other country that might default or has defaulted. We are required to pay the usual commission charge of 1 per cent, under the articles of agreement of the bank, and that 1 per cent., I understand, goes to a fund which covers losses that may be incurred because some other borrower countries may default. We are good borrowers from this bank - too good from the Opposition’s point of view. Indeed, I think we have borrowed more money than any other country from this bank. When the next measure comes before us, I shall have more to say about the matter.
Included in the interest rate of 4i per cent, is the usual commission charge of 1 per cent, that I have mentioned. The loan is repayable over nine years, and another provision has been introduced.
We are to pay back the group of institutional lenders first. They are to get their money back before the bank is repaid. Messrs. J. P. Morgan and Company and their associates will begin to receive their repayments in December, 1960. A final payment will be made to these private lenders about June, 1964, after which repayments to the International Bank itself will commence, and the repayments to the bank will be payable over the period between June. 1964, and December, 1966. There is a commitment charge with the bank. I am not able to read the figure correctly from the roneoed copy of the Treasurer’s speech that has been given to me, but it appears to be something like three-quarters of I per cent, of the principal amount of the loan remaining to be withdrawn. When I compare that figure with the commitment charge for the accommodation received from the private bankers. I find that the latter charge is only one-half of 1 per cent. There could be a reason for the difference, [f so, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley), who is sitting at the table and who has knowledge of aircraft and aircraft operations, may explain why there is a difference.
I have explained, as briefly as I can, just what our position is with regard to this measure. Let me summarize it. We do not like borrowing overseas. We are opposed to it. We want to get our country out of the hands of the money lenders of New York and London as quickly as we can, because we remember past history, and we remember when the Australian people suffered heavily in bad times because financial accommodation was withdrawn. With those qualifications, we do not oppose this measure, because we believe thai Qantas must be equipped as well as any other airline company with the best aircraft that are available. We do not like these repayment terms, because we have reached the stage in this country when we have to borrow as many dollars a year as we can to pay to the United States of America the interest on money that we borrowed previously. If we continue on those lines, it will not be long before we are properly broke, despite the fact that we are living in what is allegedly the most prosperous period of the nation’s existence.
.- The bill before the House asks the Parliament to sanction the borrowing of 27,000,000 dollars. This amount is, of course, less than the amount that will be required, because the seven Boeing aircraft alone will cost just over 30,000,000 dollars, and we have also to finance the purchase of four Super-Constellations. Although 1 am guessing at the figure, I suppose that they will cost about 10,000,000 or 12,000,000 dollars. Admittedly a re-purchase agreement has been negotiated, so that those aircraft that become obsolescent, by i.n modern standards, will be re-purchased later.
This amount of approximately 40,000,000 dollars is by no means inconsiderable, and we in this House must ask ourselves whether the loan is justified. We must ask. first, whether dollars are readily available and, secondly, whether comparable aircraft were available from the sterling area. Let me take the first question: Are dollars readily available? I know that if I occasionally ask for a few hundred dollars for a constituent of mine who wishes to go to the United States of America on a business trip, a howl of rage goes up from the Treasury officials, lt may be much easier to get a million dollars from them. If. however, one looks at the trade balances between Australia aDd the United States of America for last year and the year before, one sees that v/e have been constantly in debt. In other words, we have been buying far more from the United States than that country has bought from us. In the last financial year we had a deficit of £A.50,000,000 on our trading with the United States. One of the facts of life that I have learned is that it is very much easier to raise a loan than to pay it back afterwards. We must think about the repayment of these loans. In the current financial year, although we seem to be doing a little better, we will probably finish up down the drain to the tune of about £A.20,000,000. 1 fail to see how we are going to repay 40,000.000 dollars, in addition to all our other commitments, while America continues its policy of trading with us to only a limited extent, and of dumping subsidized products in various markets of the world in which, in the past, we have been able to sell many of our own products. as vs the present trade set-up exists between Australia and the United States, “i fail in see ):->w we can repay ibis Uri ti. As the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has said, we are getting ourselves into a position in which we must borrow money to pay the interest on money that we have previously borrowed. That is not a happy situation, particularly in prosperous times. I shall say no more about that aspect of the matter.
The second question that I think the House must consider is whether comparable aircraft were available in the sterling area. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley) has said that they were not. I beg to differ. I do not know who will be thought to be right. I know that this is a question on which the most expert authorities differ. After all, we have only to consider the two airline companies that are running the Kangaroo route, the British Overseas Airways Corporation and Qantas. The experts of the former organization are, 1 suppose, reasonably well-informed, and they selected British aircraft, the Britannia and the Comet, for that route. The expels of Qantas have selected the Boeing 707 for the same route. Admittedly Qantas intends to use these aircraft on the Pacific route also, on which there is nothing like the same volume of traffic.
Let mc reply to an interjection that the Minister for Immigration made during the speech of the honorable member for Melbourne. The Minister said that the British Overseas Airways Corporation has ordered these Boeing aircraft.
– No, I said American aircraft.
– The Minister will be the first to admit that these American aircraft that have been ordered for the British Overseas Airways Corporation are fitted with British engines, the Rolls-Royce Conway bypass engine - a very specific type of jet for use entirely on one route, the longrange trans-Atlantic route. These aircraft are, at the present moment, the only jet aircraft which will be available in the reasonably near future that will be able to fly non-stop across the north Atlantic from, say, Paris to New York. They will never be used in this country, at least in the foreseeable future. To begin with, they require an extraordinary length of runway to take off. In a recent survey of 58 major aerodromes in the world, only one was discovered that would be able to cope with this American-designed jet aircraft.
We cannot, therefore, expect to see them operating in Australia or on the Kangaroo route for a long time to come.
I believe that two types of British aircraft that are operating to-day would be suitable for the purposes of Qantas, either singly or in combination. One of these aircraft is the Bristol Britannia, which is in service to-day with the British Overseas Airways Corporation. It is the largest and fastest transport aircraft in the world, and it has the longest range. The one that is in service at present is, of course, not modern when compared with the later designs, with larger engines, which are on the drawing boards and which will be available later. The second type of aircraft that would be suitable for Qantas is the De Haviland Comet, which is now in service with the Royal Air Force Transport Command, and which will be in production and in service with the British Overseas Airways Corporation before any of the American jets are available.
Let us compare the three types of aircraft, the Boeing, the Britannia and the Comet, because I believe the House should consider this question carefully. As the honorable member for Melbourne has said, we have not been given any information as to why Qantas made the decision that Boeings should be obtained. We just had a bill brought down which said, in effect, “We want 27,000,000 dollars”, with no reason being given why British aircraft were not available. As I have said, some experts have decided they want the Boeing, and others have decided that we should manage with the British aircraft. Let us compare these aircraft. It is. of course, most difficult to compare them. For one thing, the two British aircraft are already flying, whilst the American aircraft, which we have on order for 1959 delivery, is not flying. Only the prototype is flying. The figures I am about to give, therefore, amount to what is commonly known in the aircraft trade as “ guesstimation “. They are reasonably accurate without being really accurate. For instance, the weight figure usually tends to go up as the time approaches when an aircraft will be in service. This is because many items are added. Therefore, all the figures I am about to give are subject to error one way or the other.
The American Boeing jet will have a speed of approximately 550 miles an hour, the Comet approximately 500 miles an hour, and the Bristol Britannia, which will be in service at the same time as the Boeing, approximately 445 miles an hour. So, there is a slight speed advantage in favour of the American aircraft, but when that is considered in relation to flying time, it is really infinitesimal. I do not think that even Qantas would say that it was necessary to have the fastest machine. For example, on a hop of 1,700 miles, such as from Fiji to Sydney, the Comet would be approximately 18 minutes slower, and the Britannia 24 minutes slower, than the American aircraft. As an hour or two can be lost in circling before landing, obtaining baggage from the aircraft, and certainly in getting baggage through the customs, I cannot see the sense in speeding up the service at great expense. I do not think that any one would quibble about a difference of sixteen or seventeen minutes in the time taken on a long flight.
Now we come to range. The Qantas people have said that the range of the Comet is unsatisfactory. It is an interesting point that the original Comet I. was ordered by Canadian Pacific Airlines to be flown on the Canadian Pacific route, but unfortunately it crashed at Karachi while being flown out here. The Comet IV. has a range considerably greater than that of the Comet I., and if the Comet I. was to be used by Canadian Pacific Airlines, the Comet IV. should be suitable for us. The Comet IV. has a range of just over 3,000 miles, into a head wind of 50 miles an hour, still allowing time for circling. There is no route anywhere on the Pacific run, and certainly not on the Kangaroo run, which would require a range as great as that. The Britannia, of course, has an incredibly long range. The 312, about which I am speaking, and which will be in service at about the same time as the American jet, will have a range of approximately 6,900 miles, which means that it will be able to fly direct from Sydney to San Francisco, still allowing sufficient reserve for circling. Its range is far greater than that of the American jet, which has a range of approximately 3,500 miles. So that in respect of range, there is nothing in favour of the American jet.
Now we come to ability to use existing aerodromes. The aircraft on order for the British Overseas Airways Corporation will need 10,000 feet of runway. Mascot has a runway of less than 8,000 feet. Even though the aircraft ordered by Qantas are smaller, they still will not be able to take off from Mascot fully laden. They will, no doubt, be able to use the existing runway, but not with a full load. At Fiji, which has a runway 1,500 feet less than that of Mascot, they will have to take off with considerably less load, which means that they will either have to reduce their fuel or reduce the number of passengers. On the other hand, both the British aircraft are designed especially to operate from all existing aerodromes and will have no difficulty in taking off from any reasonably sized aerodrome on both the Kangaroo route and the Pacific route.
While I am speaking about the use of existing aerodromes, I might mention that we do not have to look only at the length of runway or the weight of the aircraft. In some cases, aerodromes will have to be strengthened to enable them to take these large American jets. Certainly, the Fiji aerodrome will have to be strengthened, and I understand that the San Francisco aerodrome also will have to be strengthened. In addition, we must consider the noise aspect. At present, as honorable members know, jet aircraft are not allowed to use any of the New York aerodromes, and it is reasonably certain that once jet aircraft commence operating here, unless there is a considerable degree of success in reducing the noise, they will not be allowed to operate at the main aerodromes. I know that a great deal of work is being done in this respect, and we are all hopeful that, by the time jet aircraft come into operation, the noise level will have been reduced considerably. At the present time, measured by decibels, the noise level of jet aircraft is about half as much again as is that of the ordinary piston engine aircraft. I suggest, therefore, that it is of no use to speed up the hop from, say, Fiji to Sydney, if the aircraft have to be sent to Newcastle to land, and the passengers transported from there to Sydney by train.
– There is always the problem of diversion of aircraft.
– Yes, there is the problem of diversion. The cost of the American jet aircraft is, of course, far greater than that of any of the British aircraft. The carrying capacity of the American jet is 120, whilst that of the Bristol Britannia is 110, so that there is not very much between the two in that respect. The Comet, however, is considerably smaller and, depending on the seating arrangement, takes between 60 and 75 passengers. The cost of the American aircraft is- approximately £2,100,000, whereas both the English aircraft can be bought for a mere EA. 1, 250,000. Once again, therefore, the advantage is in favour of the British aircraft. So, too, is the advantage in respect of delivery date. I understand that, even now, and certainly at the time Qantas made its inquiries and placed its order, delivery from England could be had far earlier than from America. Cost of operation would, of course, be similar for the two jets, but it would be considerably less for the Bristol Britannia, because a turbo-prop aircraft is much more economical and has a very much greater range. Fuel consumption is not so great, with corresponding lower operating cost.
Summarizing the advantages of the British aircraft, there is the lower purchase cost; there is lower operating cost; they could use the available aerodromes; they are of British manufacture; they could be delivered earlier than could the American aircraft; spares and servicing could be shared with the British Overseas Airways Corporation, because the corporation would be using the same type of aircraft on some of the routes, including the Kangaroo route; and the British aircraft are flying now.
There is absolutely nothing in favour of the Super Constellation, which is being purchased now. It is an obsolescent aircraft, and it beats me why any modern airline would purchase more of this type. To do so is analogous to a railway operator purchasing a steam train when he could get a diesel. There is a slight advantage in favour of the Boeing 707, over the Comet, in respect of range, and also some slight advantage in respect of speed. The Boeing is just on 100 miles an hour faster than the Britannia, but against that, it has only half the range of the Britannia.
Taking all in all, it seems to me that the British aircraft would be the best bet. Surely, however, there is something intangible to support all these tangibles in favour of purchasing British aircraft. Surely we should assist the- British aircraft industry! The American aircraft industry has a tremendous home market and does not really have to worry so much about orders from abroad, but the British industry is fighting hard. It is doing well. Last year it exported £100,000,000 worth of aircraft. If Australia, as a British country, does not support the British aircraft industry, can we expect any other country to do so? The British aircraft must be good. Otherwise, they would not have been ordered by American and Canadian airlines, which could have ordered any other types of aircraft available. I believe that American and Canadian airlines have placed orders for 67 Britannias and 45 Comets. We want to see more such orders placed. My view is that we in this Parliament should insist that, if the balance were reasonably even, we should purchase British aircraft rather than American aircraft, f consider that, if anything, the balance is slightly in favour of the British aircraft.
– Are you going to vote against the bill?
– I shall do so if it comes to a vote. Is it necessary for Qantas always to have the fastest aircraft? I do not think it is. There is a Viscount service now between Melbourne and Sydney. If every one wanted to travel by Viscounts, the smaller airlines, such as the Ansett organization, would not get any customers, but we know that the Ansett Convairs are always packed. If an airline provides a good, comfortable and reliable service, it does not matter whether its aircraft take a few minutes longer for the journey than the aircraft of other companies, because people will use that service just as much as the other, faster services. Similar remarks apply to shipping services across the North Atlantic. It is well known that “ Queen Mary “ is not the fastest ship on that route, but it is always full. I do not think that we are bound to buy the fastest jet aircraft available, merely because some company suddenly produces a new machine. Unfortunately, the world is suffering from jet hysteria and airline operators are rushing in madly to buy bigger and faster jet aircraft.
I think that 1 have put the case, as I see it, clearly. I believe that Qantas has looked at this matter only from the selfish viewpoint of the operation of its services. Its advisers have said, “ Possibly we should do belter with the Boeings “, but that is a debatable point. I do not agree with them. Qantas has looked at this matter only from the viewpoint of the operation of its services, but we in the National Parliament ought to look at it from the national viewpoint. My first point is that we must ask ourselves, Are dollars available for this purpose “? I have tried to show that, although we may be able to borrow the dollars, we may not be able to repay them. The second point that I have tried to make is that we have a duty to support the British aircraft industry, and 1 think we should direct Qantas what to do. My third point is that if we bought British aircraft the problem of spare parts would not be so acute, because, on some routes, Qantas operates in conjunction with the British Overseas Airways Corporation. For all of those reasons, I oppose this purchase by Qantas and I oppose the bill.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) indicated that the Opposition did not intend to oppose the bill, for two kinds of reason - one of which might be called a technical reason and the other of which might be called a financial reason. I do not pretend to have the expert knowledge of aircraft that is possessed by the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn). I know the difference between a Viscount and a DC3 when I get in one of them, but, other than that, I know very little about the technicalities of aircraft.
The Opposition has relied upon the word of the Government on this occasion, although it does not always do so. In this case, we have been assured that, for technical reasons and after a thorough examination of the facts, the advisers of Qantas came to the conclusion that the Boeing aircraft was the most suitable aircraft for the company’s purposes. They claim, I understand, that this type of aircraft has been used in the United States of America for military transport purposes for a number of years and, therefore, that it has undergone thorough tests, the results of which indicate that it would be suitable for the purpose envisaged by Qantas. In the absence of an opposing view, the Opposition accepted that decision, but I hope that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley), who is at the table now, will urge the Government to consider the arguments presented by the honorable member for Farrer.
I do not know whether he has produced any facts of which the Government and its advisers were not aware previously, but if there is anything new in his approach to the matter, I suggest that the Government, in all fairness, ought to consider it. There seemed to me to be great merit in his analysis of the situation. If the British aircraft were superior, there would be a technical reason and a financial reason in favour of choosing it. It would be a better aircraft and, as it would come from a sterling area, no dollar payments would be involved.
Basically, this is a financial problem. We of the Opposition have decided not to oppose this loan, although, traditionally, we are opposed to loans from the International Bank, because we say that the Government has made but little effort to deal with the serious dollar problem with which the country is faced. We are not earning enough dollars with our exports to pay for the things that we are required to import from America. In this case, however, we have an undertaking that Qantas will earn dollars with these American aircraft and that the profits that it makes will be used to repay the loan. Therefore, this loan is different from the other dollar loans that have been raised by the Government, because it provides, as it were, for its own liquidation in a comparatively short time from dollar earnings.
There is a matter on which I should like some information from the Government. We know that 17,700,000 dollars of the total sum will be borrowed, not from the International Bank, but from private investors in the United States. Appended to the bill are extensive schedules, in which there is set out, amongst other things, the agreement that has been concluded between the Commonwealth of Australia and the American company, Morgan Stanley and Company, which has been engaged to float the loan of 17,700,000 dollars. Article II of the agreement reads as follows: -
Morgan Stanley and Co. is acting as the Commonwealth’s agent in this transaction and will be compensated by the Commonwealth. Morgan Stanley and Co. out of such compensation will pay expenses and fees and disbursements of Davis Polk Wardwell Sunderland & Kiendl and Blake & Riggall for their services to you with reference to the subject matter of this Agreement.
The Government ought to give the House some indication of the costs that will be involved in the services that will be rendered. directly, by Morgan Stanley and Company, in underwriting and generally looking after the loan, and indirectly, by the two other firms in legal matters. Recently, the Government floated a loan in Canada, which, we were told, was filled almost as soon as it was opened, but for, apparently, a very small amount of work, the underwriters received a fee which amounted to 500,000 dollars. I merely ask the Government to indicate, on this occasion, the amount of the compensation to be paid to Morgan Stanley and Company for its services, which, of course, will be paid in dollars, and deducted from the total amount of the bonds. I suggest that it is incumbent on the Government to divulge, as soon as it can, what the services have cost, because I think the bonds have been floated and that all we are asked to do now is to give legislative approval to a transaction that has already taken place. If the Minister for Immigration, who is at the table, has not the information now, I suggest that he obtain it and let us have it, so that this side of the House will at least know what these services have cost or are to cost.
.- First, I think I, and the House, are very lucky that I speak after, instead of before, the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn), because I had intended to speak along the lines on which that honorable member has spoken, but without touching on the technical detail that he gave in his speech. So, rather than weary the House by going over the ground covered by the honorable member for Farrer I shall content myself with saying that I agree with all that the honorable member has said regarding the purchase of American aircraft rather than British aircraft.
The House will probably recall that I asked the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) a question regarding the purchase of American aircraft, at the time it was first announced that Qantas Empire Airways Limited had changed over from the Britannia, known as the “Whispering Giant “, to American aircraft. After having said that I support the remarks of the honorable member for Farrer, and the reasons he put forward for the views he expressed, there is one thing I want to say in support of the loan itself, forgetting, for the moment, the respective merits of American and British aircraft. Qantas Empire Airways Limited has contributed largely to Australia’s name being known favorably throughout the world. We know that the service given by Qantas on its various routes is certainly of the highest class, and I feel that it is well that in this National Parliament we should make mention of the services given by the members of the staff of Qantas on the trade routes on which its aircraft travel. No only has Qantas established our name throughout the world as a result of the splendid services it gives but, as has already been pointed out on both sides of the House, it has bee[ earning dollars for Australia. So, actually, the borrowing of the dollars on this occasion is merely a business proposition to enable Qantas to earn more dollars for Australia. If Qantas gains permission to conduct an air service across the United States it will be enabled to earn even more dollars, and so will be able to repay this loan which has been borrowed for the purchase of aircraft.
A question that has been asked in the House is how the loan will be repaid. The responsibility of the Commonwealth Government in this connexion is more or less the responsibility of guarantor of the loan to this firm for its business operations. 1 should imagine that the people in charge of Qantas, being businessmen, would have an appreciation of their ability to repay the loan before they discussed with the Commonwealth Government the borrowing of the money. In those circumstances, I would say that, as Qantas has made a contribution to Australia we, as the Commonwealth Parliament, should assist in making it possible for the company to make an even greater contribution.
I feel that, because of the services thai Qantas has already given, this loan will result in an even greater opportunity for an extension of those services, and in further favorable publicity abroad for Australia. So I support this measure, leaving aside the question of the purchase of American rather than British aircraft.
.- One must concede to the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) a very wide and deep knowledge of aeronautical matters, and I think that we in this Parliament should offer congratulations to him for a most informative speech, in which he dealt with the relative merits of various aircraft. However, I feel that that, perhaps, is not the business of the Parliament to-day. 1 think the business of the Parliament to-day is to decide whether or not it is wise and prudent for it to approve the borrowing of the money needed to enable Qantas Empire Airways Limited to proceed along the lines it believes are the best lines for the development of an airline that has served this nation faithfully and well. One might say that the suggestion that this House might interfere with the attitude of Qantas in this matter would be bordering on what we often hear anti-Labour parliamentarians throughout Australia term “ political interference “.
Usually we give a charter to an organization to do a job, and if the organization successfully discharges its duties, if it is capable of rendering the services expected of it and of balancing its accounts, then we leave control generally to the organization itself, and express either our pleasure or our displeasure with the results.
I should like to-night to offer congratulations to Qantas on the very fine services given by it to the people of Australia. 1 should like also to say that it has kept Australia’s name before the peoples of the world. It should be remembered, too, that Qantas Empire Airways Limited, in seeking to borrow money for the purchase of what it believes to be the speediest, best and most commodious aircraft for its services, must act so as to enable it to meet competition from the airlines of other nations. So if Qantas thinks the Boeing 707 the right type of aircraft to put it in a position to meet the competition of Pan American Airways, K.L.M., Air France, Air India and all the other lines, then I do not think that this House should quibble over the financial aspects. I should think that honorable members would be prone to be more indulgent on this score on this occasion, because on other occasions when the Parliament is called upon to consider the borrowing of money abroad for “ blanket “ purposes the specific purpose is not made known to the Parliament. Instead, we are given some vague generalization to the effect that the money will be required for plant, development or something else. In such cases we are without the specific information we should have, but in this case we are being asked to approve of the borrowing of money : for Qantas Empire Airways Limited for the specific purpose of purchasing Boeing aircraft to enable the company to compete with other airlines. I think that is a reasonable proposition. Qantas has made the position clear and has promised to repay this money. That is not the case with other borrowings, in connexion with which there is no promise that the money borrowed wil! be repaid, lt may well be that sometimes we are borrowing money from abroad merely to repatriate loans made by other American companies. I think that if we failed to approve this legislation we would be unjust, unreasonable and unfair. In any event, I believe that Qantas is entitled to be in a position to give the service it gave in the past and to improve that service, and to continue to earn for Australia not only dollars but also a good reputation for air transport overseas.
Perhaps the rate of interest is not as favourable as it might be. and that is a point that we might consider. Another point worthy of criticism is the fact that Qantas has been obliged to dredge the bottom of the barrel in order to borrow money from private sources.
I think this country would have made very substantial strides in the way of progress if we were able to say in this House this afternoon that we were borrowing money to give Australia a shipping line run like our national airlines. I think the possession of such a line by the Australian Government is fundamental. However, we have an overseas airline. Let us develop it and please, under no circumstances, interfere in the wise leadership and generalship which is being directed to keeping it in the forefront of the airlines of the world.
Mr. WENTWORTH (Mackellar) [4.351. - Like the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) I do not wish to traverse the ground covered by the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn), but I do want to support his contention that this House is not being given sufficient information. What he said must have aroused disquiet in the minds of a number of honorable members. There may be answers to these points. As the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) said a moment ago. Qantas is a very efficient airline, which enjoys a very high and deserved reputation not only here but beyond Australia also.
There may be good reasons for the decision i hat has been made, but if so, this House is not acquainted with them. 1 put it to the Government that when a matter of this character is before the House the Government does owe to honorable members a greater amount of technical information. This need not be given in the form of a second-reading speech. Very often we do not have a chance to assimilate the figures as they are given in the course of a second-reading speech and have to look at them in “ Hansard “ the next day. Perhaps, when the Government brings forward a matter which involves the expenditure of large amounts of money and has technical implications, a paper showing the salient facts should be presented also.
The arguments put forward by the honorable member for Farrer seem, on the face of them, to be convincing. There may be another side. If so, 1 have not heard it. Nor do I think that other honorable members of this House have heard it, and it is not reasonable to ask us to vote large amounts of money unless we know a little more of the technical background. It might not be unwise for the Government to postpone further consideration of the matter until honorable members have had a chance to look at the relevant papers, which it might feel inclined to table in the Library, if not in this House. These could set out the reasons which have impelled Qantas to make this decision.
The House should direct special attention to one aspect. The honorable member for Farrer referred to the necessity for enlarged airports, including Mascot. What is likely to happen is this: We will be committed to these jets and then we will be told that because we are so committed, we are also committed to the expenditure of many millions of pounds to bring Mascot up to standard. So, the House is being asked to vote a great deal more money than would appear on the surface. This expenditure on aircraft may entail further expenditure. I do not feel that government departments should do this kind of thing to the House, or that a government should acquiesce in their doing so.
I do not share the view of the honorable member for Macquarie that it is not the business of this House to question these things. I do not think that it is in the least unfair or improper to expect to be satisfied on these technical details before voting large sums of money that may lead to further commitments. It may be that the Minister can tell us that Mascot, with perhaps a little, or no, expenditure can be made suitable for these Boeing aeroplanes. If that is so, his opinion is diametrically the opposite to that expressed in the authoritative journal “ Flight “ as late as 4th May last. It may be that the journal is wrong. If so, I would like to hear the details from the Minister. I feel that more consideration is due to this bill on the technical aspects which the honorable member for Farrer has raised.
.- It seems to me that so far the debate has revealed that the outstanding feature of the presentation of this bill has been the lack of relevant information from the Government and that the suggestion made opposite, and supported to some extent from this side of the House, that further consideration of this matter should be delayed until that information can be provided, should be taken up. At the same time, a good deal more information has been provided in this bill than has been provided in other similar bills. We have been told here that a particular type of aircraft will be purchased. The technical characteristics of that aircraft are fairly generally known. We are able to make, as did the honorable member for Farrer, a satisfactory comparison of the characteristics of this aircraft with those of other possible types, and if in the end we receive the more adequate information that we have a right to expect, we will, no doubt, find that there is nothing more than a difference of opinion among experts. Quite obviously. Qantas experts have taken into account the characteristic features of these aircraft. Quite obviously, they have just as adequate a knowledge of them as the honorable member for Farrer has. They know the requirements of their own particular service. They know that they have to compete in a field where speed is a most important factor. Perhaps we are wrong in thinking of this great association between the jet and speed, but it is certainly important in the part of the world where these aircraft are going, and no doubt nas a great appeal for the travelling public lt seems to me that, at best, the,e wm be a conflict of opinion among experts.
T.ie second point raised by the honorable member tor Mackellar .(Mr. Wentworth) has a particular validity. If the aircraft to be purchased are of such a type that certain airfields in Australia will have to be altered and we are to be faced later with a fait accompli - “ We have these aircraft, therefore we shall have to expend a few hundred thousand pounds on aerodrome alterations “ - that is certainly a mat’er of a different kind. When ail these technical considerations have been taken in.o account, there does remain the fact that the company concerned has a first-class record of service and of judgment in the type of aircraft that it needs. The company has discharged its duties so far with considerable honours and though I support statements, notably from the other side, that the Government should have provided us with more information before asking us to vote on such an important bill, I do bear in mind the evidence, which has accumulated for many years now. of the efficiency and excellent judgement that has been displayed in the operations of Qantas.
– I do not wish to delay ihe House or project myself unnecessarily into this debate, but I could perhaps say a few words in reply to questions that have been raised. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) said that no doubt Qantas has gone into this matter and, of course, it has. As the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) knows, wherever aviation people get together there is always a great argument about the relative merits of the turbo-prop and the pure jet. Whereever aircraft managements get together - for instance, at International Civil Aviation Organization meetings - it is just the same. The simple truth is that, until the pure jet has been flying on actual operations for some time, no one will know. By the same token, of course, nobody will know for sure how the very big turbo-prop aircraft will go as time goes on. We have seen them come into operation in the last couple of months. We know that B.O.A.C. introduced them on the Kangaroo route last August. We know what happened on the first flight. They were withdrawn for some months. Recently, they came out here again. They were grounded in Darwin, in Singapore and in Johannesburg. So nothing is quite conclusive yet.
– The American military transport section uses this Boeing aircraft.
– I was coming to thai point. The Boeing 707/138 has been flying in military use and as a prototype for some years. The engine of the type with which the Qantas aircraft will be fitted has done some 4,000,000 hours of flying, and has proved pretty satisfactory. I suggest that it is known how this engine will perform, that is, as well as it can be known how any engine will perform. 1 point out to the House that the Qantas people themselves did not make up their own minds without first having consulted almost every aircraft expert in the world. Qantas, 1 believe, is one of the best, if not the best, international airline. Its safety record is unsurpassed. Its punctuality and service compare more than favorably with those of any international airline I have seen. It is due to a variety of causes. First. I believe, it is due to the people in the company. Air crew, engineers, ground staff and maintenance people are beyond all praise. They are superlative, professionally. The management, under the inspired guidance of one of the great pioneers. Sir Hudson Fysh, is also a contributing feature. But one of the main reasons why Qantas has been so good is that in the past it has invariably picked the right aircraft.
– Like Trans-Australia Airlines.
– There are other airlines that can point to their success for the same reason. After 21 years’ operation. Qantas got in touch with every aviation authority in the world and sent its own men - hard-headed men like Scotty Allen - round the world for talks in every country. They had nothing to gain or lose by buying any particular aircraft. They have to gel the best for their purposes and we have to take notice of them. Speaking from memory, I think the company is earning about 1 1,000,000 dollars a year with its present aircraft. That is a lot of money.
The representatives of the company have said that in the years from 1959 to 1965 they will be faced with competition from every airline in the world with jet aircraft and that unless they have jets they will have to fold up. The honorable member for Farrer rightly pointed out the performance of the Britannia, a turbo-prop aircraft, but the Britannia is a 1953 model, which was built for the 1953-59 period, and no matter how good that aircraft may be, it will be virtually out of date in the years 1959 to 1965, when Qantas will be faced with intense competition from PanAmerican Airways, K.L.M., Canadian Pacific Airlines and a variety of other major international operators.
I have the greatest confidence in the people in Qantas. Having gone into this thing, they are risking their whole future on their choice of this aircraft. I was with them for months, and I know that they thought of nothing else. They worked morning, noon and night, seven days a week, sifting every little bit of evidence they could get. But they did not work by themselves. They had officers from the Department of Civil Aviation such as Dr. Shaw and dozens of others who are in world class. These officers have been overseas to- all sorts of conferences and they have far more than held their own with the technical experts of every country on earth. They were called into the discussions, out of which came this proposition.
I know that the honorable member for Farrer knows a tremendous- amount about all the details of aircraft and their operation. He has been a professional flier in his time. He was good enough to say that I knew a lot about it. I have picked up a little knowledge from time to time. But I suggest that as all this expert opinion has been working over this matter for months, it is hardly likely that we shall develop anything in this House which will contradict the findings. We may disagree, but in doing so we would express an opinion which I say, with great respect, would not be a very valid opinion in the company in which we find ourselves. We would be up against the weight of world opinion on the choice of an aircraft which has been accepted by one of the greatest airlines in the world. It is an airline which is staffed by people whose reputations are world-wide and who have been backed up by the opinion of the
Department of Civil Aviation, which is just an honest broker in this instance. It has nothing to gain or lose; the safety of the passengers and crew is its concern.
I suggest that this debate is not exactly a waste of time, lt is very valuable. But 1 do not think that a debate of this sort, when it gets on to technical arguments to which the honorable member referred, will solve any of our problems. They have been thrashed out again and again by the most eminent people in the aviation industry in Australia and they have chosen this aircraft. Some of the figures which the honorable member for Farrer gave were surprisingly accurate. His statistics were all right - except for a little bit - and sometimes a little bit makes a difference. For instance, he mentioned that the Comet IV. had a range of 3,000 miles. On the stage routes of the Pacific, it is 2,600 against 3,500 for the Boeing 707. His information about the relative speeds was right - the Boeing al 550 miles an hour and the Comet IV. at 490 miles an hour. But the payload of the Comet IV. is 17,000 lb. as against 28,000 lb. for the Boeing 707; and when all is said and done, it is the payload that pays all the wages.
In summarizing all this, I say to the honorable member that intense study has gone into this matter. I assure him and I assure the House regarding the intensity of the work of the men who were engaged in finding the aircraft that would meet the competition which will come to this country’s international air carrier in 1959. Everybody who was occupied on the work with the company or who was drawn into the discussions favoured the Boeing 707.
But that is not the whole story. There had to be a Treasury consideration of the matter, and there are plenty of people here who know that the Treasury regards every bit of expenditure with modified rapture. The Treasury really examines this sort of expenditure in minute detail. The Treasury, too. was convinced. After that, there would have been, I should think, at least three meetings at Cabinet level when the Qantas people and the Treasury people were
Drought here. Additional technical advice was also sought and again the decision was given for the purchase of this aircraft. So I think that, at this stage, while it may be quite an interesting academic study, we will not produce in this House, despite all the technical knowledge that we may have, any weight of opinion sufficient to upset the advice that was given to the Government by Qantas and the Department of Civil Aviation.
– Would other companies use this aircraft at Mascot, even if Qantas did not?
– I think that that is a point that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) raised. Irrespective of whether Qantas has jets or not, Pan-American Airlines will have them, K..L.M. will have them, and Air France will have them if its aircraft ever come through Mascot. Canadian Pacific Airlines will have them and the British Overseas Airways Corporation will have them. British Overseas Airways Corporation will have a very much heavier jet aircraft than the type that Qantas Empire Airways Limited will be using, but the heavier aircraft will probably be able to use the aerodrome safely if its loading is proportionately reduced.
Many other matters were raised. But I think I have said enough to indicate that the decision was not taken lightly. That is what I want to say particularly. The decision was taken on the advice of a company that is good by any standards and is staffed by people who are good by any standards. Therefore, I suggest that we should accept the advice that it has given.
– Did the Government not question the advice or check upon it? y.r. TOWNLEY. - I was saying before the honorable member entered the chamber that the officials of Qantas Empire Airways Limited and the Department of Civil Aviation went into the matter very carefully, right down to the most minute details. They did not rely on their own engineers alone, but discussed the matter with engineers from all over the world and with aeronautical consultants in three or four countries. All that having been done, I say that we can accept with equanimity the technical advice that the company gave to the Government.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) asked me to say what amount had been paid or was to be paid to Morgan Stanley and Company. The exact amount of the compensation is not stated in the agreement, but I can tell the honorable member that it will amount to about one-tenth of 1 per cent. That will cover all expenses and fees due to Morgan Stanley and Company in New York and Melbourne.
– That will be about £170,000?
– lt will be about that amount over-all.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 20th March (vide page 44), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition opposes this bill, which authorizes the borrowing of another 50,000,000 dollars from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. This is the fifth of a long, sad series of measures of this kind in the “ borrow or bust “ policy of the Menzies Government. This bill, like all the preceding measures in the series, seeks to validate something that has already been done. Expenditure out of the proceeds of the loan has already been incurred since the agreement with the bank was signed on 3rd December last. The passage of this measure will bring to 308,500,000 dollars the total amount borrowed from the International Bank on the credit of this nation for purposes similar to those set out in the schedules to this bill. The Loan (Qantas Empire Airways Limited) Bill 1957, which the House passed a few minutes ago, authorized the borrowing of 9,230,000 dollars from the bank for the purchase of seven Boeing jet aircraft and of other aircraft from the United States of America under a loan agreement signed in New York on 15th November last. The addition of that borrowing will bring Australia’s total borrowings from the International Bank under measures of this kind to 317.730.000 dollars. Australia is the biggest borrower from the bank, which was established to help under-developed countries. We are paying heavily for the accommodation that wc have received. We are paying, among other things, a 1 per cent, commission charge, which is intended to cover default by borrowing governments that, in Australian parlance, take the knock on the bank.
The Opposition opposes this bill, as it opposed the Loan (Qantas Empire Airways Limited) Bill 1957, and for precisely the same reasons.
– Does the Opposition oppose the programme for which the money is being borrowed?
– I shall deal with the programme afterwards. I think 1 shall be able to convince the honorable member that much of the material and equipment listed in the schedules to this measure need not be imported from the dollar area, because it could be manufactured in Australia.
– Will the honorable member tell us where in Australia it could be manufactured?
– I shall certainly do so. For a beginning, I could refer the honorable member to the tractor factory of Chamberlain Industries Limited, in Western Australia, which could produce a lot of the equipment on which the Government intends to spend dollars.
– Chamberlain Industries Limited makes good tractors, but could it produce all the other equipment required?
– There are other factories that make good tractors also. Honorable members who suggest that the necessary equipment cannot be made in Australia must accept the onus of proving that it cannot be made here when we come to consider the schedules to the bill. A lot of excellent equipment used in Australia to-day is Australian made. I feel that the listing in the schedules of tractors, trucks, and other machinery does not tell the full story.
With the exception of a loan of 20,000,000 dollars obtained from the International Monetary Fund by the Chifley Government after the conclusion of World War II the Australian Labour party has neither condoned nor supported measures such as this one. Labour members object to international money lenders. During theconsideration of the Loan (Qantas Empire Airways Limited) Bill 1957, 1 said something about J. P. Morgan and Company Incorporated financing part of the loan, and much more could be said about that firm and others like it. Because Labour does not like this form of borrowing, and because Australia has suffered a good deal in the past at the hands of international money lenders and other social drones, the Opposition is not prepared to give its blessing to this measure any more than to the one that authorized the borrowing by Qantas Empire Airways Limited.
The Government has repaid 8,020,000 dollars of the 317,730,000 dollars that it has borrowed from the International Bank. The Menzies Government, which might very well be described as the overseas borrowing government, has mismanaged Australia’s affairs so gravely that every year the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) or his agents have to take the hat round the world in an attempt to cadge funds from this country or that country in order that Australia may fulfil its loan obligations to the States in the terms of agreements made at meetings of the Australian Loan Council. T use the word “ agreements “, but the State Premiers would dispute that claim. They must accept what the Treasurer of the day gives them, and he gives them what he thinks the loan market will yield. The difference between what the loan market yields and the cost of the programme upon which he decides is financed by the imposition of additional taxes, by the raising of loans overseas, or by a combination of both methods.
We now borrow Swiss francs, Canadian dollars, and United States dollars. The only countries that seem to be fairly prosperous at the moment and which we have not yet tapped are Germany, Russia and China. I have not the slightest doubt that one of these days the Prime Minister, if he remains in office long enough, will make another trip to Egypt; but he will not be going there to settle the Middle East crisis. He will be going to borrow dollars from President Nasser. They will be Canadian dollars and American dollars and all the other moneys that Nasser will have collected from tolls levied on ships passing through the Suez Canal. I would not be surprised to find in the not too distant future that we will be trying to borrow roubles from Russia. We might even be borrowing from China.
– lt will be twenty years before you will be getting those roubles.
– We will not be looking for roubles from Russia because we do not believe in overseas borrowing.
– The honorable member must admit that we have an enhanced reputation as a nation.
– 1 do not know that we have. 1 do not think our reputation was enhanced when the Prime Minister met President Nasser at midnight by moonlight on the Nile. Nor do I think our reputation is being enhanced by overseas borrowing.
So 1 come back to the bill, sir. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) is prepared to borrow anywhere. He borrows from poor little Switzerland, and when I said that once before he said that Switzerland is little but not poor. However, there is money to be loaned in Switzerland. It is no use reiterating what we have said on previous occasions. If this country is as prosperous as the Government claims it to be, we should be able to fill our loans. We should be able to fill a loan programme of something like £190,000,000 a year. Our national income is about £4,000,000,000 a year; but somehow this Government cannot persuade the Australian people to take money out of their savings bank accounts and put it into Government loans. Accordingly, we have to resort to this particular form of finance to supplement internal loans so that the States can carry on and do the things they have to do.
There are five reasons why the Opposition opposes this legislation. The first reason is that, as I have said before, the Opposition does not believe in borrowing overesas. That is an article of faith with us. In the days of the Curtin and Chifley Governments we demonstrated our faith in our principles.
– There was no development then.
– There was a lot of development, even while the war was on.
– The Labour Government co iiI -‘ not even get enough petrol.
– Let me tell the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) just what did happen in the days of uV Curtin and Chifley Governments. We not only refrained from pledging the credit of this nation in the money-lending establishments of London and New York, but. although the nation was struggling for it? very existence, with a labour force of more than 1,000,000 service men and women withdrawn from production, and a labour force of 100,000 or more civilians diverted to the making of munitions and equipmenand the production of food for the services, we were able to reduce our indebtedness overseas by more than £80,000,000 sterling in London and 14,000,000 dollars in New York. We were able to do this while we raised and spent £1,500,000,000 for wai purposes alone.
– Tell us what developmental projects were undertaken between J 946 and 1949.
– I will. Part of that £1,500,000,000 was raised between 1945 and 1949, and to the credit of the Chifley Government, every loan it floated was filled, and filled at 3 per cent, or 3£ per centinterest! lt did not have to jack up the interest rate in order to persuade the people to invest. Because we could raise the money internally and at the same time reduce our overseas indebtedness or repatriate some of the loans overseas, we were able to finance our repatriation and our rehabilitation schemes, to start the Snowy River project, to establish TransAustralia Airlines, to lay a firm foundation for the Australian National University, to establish the whaling industry, and to do a number of other things which this Government has to some extent carried on. Of course, this Government sold its whaling station and got rid of Commonwealth Oil Refineries, which was established long before the war, but it has maintained much of the work that we started.
– It abolished petrol rationing.
– The Labour Government refused to abolish petrol rationing because by saving dollars we were trying to help the British people to buy food. Government supporters sacrificed the interests of the British people in order to get petrol.
The Opposition’s second point is that if this country was properly governed, the stability of its economy maintained, and its overseas funds built up, there would not be any necessity to go begging for loans anywhere overseas. The people would have enough confidence in their government and in their country to invest in Commonwealth loans.
Thirdly, the Opposition believes that if overseas money is invested in this country it should come in the form of investment in new industries established here by companies or individuals from the United States, Great Britain, or anywhere else, rather than through the negotiation of loans from the International Bank or any other similar body. When money comes to this country by way of investment and not by way of loan there flows with it that indefinable quality which is so valuable - the quality of knowhow. When overseas people bring into this country their money, their equipment and their technicians, they help to teach Australians the latest methods, and that is an invaluable contribution to the well-being of the nation. But the moneylender does not do anything except finance the importation of goods made overseas. No good flows in the train of borrowing from overseas lenders. We have had too many sad experiences in this country of how overseas lenders behave when a drought or an economic blast strikes the nation. In 1889 and again in 1929 Australians had their wages and living standards reduced. People were forced into unemployment and an existence on the dole because the holders of our loans in other countries demanded payment as the loans fell due and refused to agree to a moratorium until things got better.
– They were in the same boat themselves.
– Were they?
– Of course, they were.
– I am not so sure that any lender country was in exactly the same position as a debtor country. The honorable member might say so, but those who took their money out of this country in those two great periods of depression certainly harmed our economy and set us back for a long, long time. Of course, it may be that people who lend their money, as money was lent in previous days, might do some harm to their own country as well. It would be very much better for us as a nation if a good deal of investment came from Great Britain in the form of decentralization of industries and population. Probably both countries would be better able to meet any economic troubles that might arise later on.
My fourth submission is that the Government has not provided in this legislation, or on any previous similar occasion, sufficient information to enable members of both Houses of the Parliament to judge whether the money being borrowed is really needed or will be spent efficiently. The schedules to past bills have told us about as much as the schedule to the present bill tells us about the expenditure which is to be incurred and which may even have been incurred since the agreement was signed, on hay balers and tractors and machinery of all kinds, much of which, as I have said previously, could have been manufactured in this country. While honorable members are told how the money will be spent, we are never given a report after a period of time following the passage of the bill on how the money has been spent. I doubt whether the Public Accounts Committee has ever been able to discover the facts. I do not know whether it has ever tried to discover the facts. I do not know whether it has been allowed to examine the Department of the Treasury yet. But I do know that the Public Accounts Committee has never made a report to the Parliament on the manner in which these international loans have been spent.
When I look at the schedule to the bill, which indicates the alleged purposes for which the loan is being raised, I find that we have four programmes. They are an agriculture and forestry programme, a road transport programme, a railway programme and an industrial development programme. Under the first programme, the imported equipment to be financed out of the proceeds of the loan includes tractors and spare parts, components for the manufacture of tractors, agricultural machinery and implements and spare parts therefor, components for manufacture of agricultural machinery in Australia and forestry equipment and spare parts. I think that the Australian manufacturers of all these pieces of equipment and spare parts would readily say that they could manufacture everything that is being imported, with the exception of some highly specialized items. The only item in this programme the importation of which could be justified - and if it is justified, it should be purchased out of dollar earnings and not out of loan funds - is helicopters and light aircraft and spare parts therefor. That is the only portion of this programme which, on the face of it, can be regarded as a justifiable item to be covered by loan expenditure.
Under the road transport programme, we are told that the imported equipment to be financed out of the proceeds of the loan includes tractors and spare parts. Any number of firms around the more settled districts of Australia are making tractors and spare parts. Quite a number of firms are making trucks and components and quite a number are making road trains and transporters, earth-moving equipment and spare parts therefor and the equipment for the construction and maintenance of roads.
– Do they make the big earth-moving tractors?
– Not the big earthmoving equipment, but some earth-moving equipment.
– What is the horsepower?
– I do not know. 1 would know if the Government gave us the information. We are asked to vote for something about which we are told nothing. If the Government desires to secure the approval of the Parliament for the importation of equipment of the kind mentioned, the very question which the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) has asked me should have been answered in anticipation by the Government providing a schedule showing how it is all to be done.
– But the honorable member said it could be made here!
– I said that some of it could be made here.
– I do not think the honorable member knows what he is talking about.
– T do not think the honorable member for Maranoa ever knows what he is talking about. I may fail sometimes, but I am not in perpetual ignorance of everything. I should like the honorable gentleman to join me in asking die Government to shed a little light on the question. 1 know many places around Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide where quite a number of the items covered in this legislation are being made.
Under the railway programme, I rind that the imported equipment to be financed nin of the proceeds of the loan include? components for diesel-electric locomotives, components for rail car assembly, control equipment and equipment for track maintenance. I know that the Clyde Engineering Company Proprietary Limited in New South Wales is manufacturing diesel-electric locomotives, but may need to bring in certain parts. But the extent to which these importations are necessary should be stated by the Government, and the House should not be treated in the contemptuous way in which it is always treated by the Government on measures of this kind.
I have not a general knowledge of the matters covered by the industrial development programme, but, prima facie, the matters included in the other three programmes could, in my view, be manufactured largely in this country, if not entirely so. In any event, the Government should give the House all the information it has in its possession, because I do not like this country to be put into pawn any more than is necessary.
We should be trying to reduce our loan indebtedness. When the Labour party was in power, as I have pointed out. we certainly reduced our debt abroad and interest rates on the money still owing abroad was also reduced. The conversion loans we negotiated were always floated at a lower rate of interest than was then being paid. Our overseas debt has increased in total to-day, compared with the time when we were the government. It is possible for honorable members opposite to say that our loans in London have fallen by £14.000.000 sterling since the present Government came into office. They have been reduced from £48.300.000 to £34.000,000. Loans in New York have fallen from 24.600.000 dollars to 16,500.000. But our indebtedness to the International Bank for loans of this kind has increased by 27.500.000 dollars, our indebtedness to Canada is 1.700.000 dollars and we owe Switzerland 12,600,000 francs.
– That is Farouk’s nest egg.
– I have no doubt that King Farouk has a little money there and it may be that King Farouk is lending to the Swiss bankers and the Swiss bankers are lending to us. That is quite possible.
The average rate of interest being paid by this Government in London is .1 per cent, more than it was in our day. It is lower in the dollar area in New York, where it has dropped from 3.9 per cent, to 3.7 per cent. But our International Bank loans have been floated at 4.53 per cent., our Swiss debt is raised at 3.9 per cent, and our Canadian indebtedness carries the interest rate of 4 per cent. The Treasury has supplied me with figures which are most interesting. They show the total public debt per head in Australia to-day, as against the total public debt per head when we were the government. As the end of the last financial year in the period of office of the Chifley Government, the total public debt was £2,923,000,000. At 31st December last, the total public debt had risen to £4,246,000,000. Of course, State loans were included in that amount. The population at 30th June, 1949, was 8,000,000 and at 31st December, 1956, was 9,500,000. But the debt per head of population has risen since this Government took office from £365 to £447.
– There has been a lot of development in that period.
– I do not know that there has been development which would justify the increase of the public debt by 33i per cent.
– The honorable gentleman has told us that money has lost its value by more than that percentage.
– And is not that true?
– The honorable gentleman cannot have it both ways.
– Order! I suggest that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition keep to his speech and disregard interjections.
– I shall ignore them, sir. I was trying to throw some light upon the question, because obviously honorable members opposite know nothing about the legislation for which they are being asked to vote. They have given no consideration to the matter at all. They are not concerned really with the merits or demerits of the proposal. They do not want to try to improve the legislation. Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to come in and vote, be satisfied and perhaps earn a just reward at a later period, either in this life or hereafter.
The fifth reason why we oppose the Government’s practice of raising money overseas is (his: If the Government claims that it is necessary to raise money in the dollar area to finance the purchase of goods that cannot be manufactured in Australia or imported from England, then a case should be presented to the Parliament for its approval before agreements are signed. That, surely, is a reason that should commend itself to everybody. There are other reasons, too, but I think that what I have said suffices to indicate the feeling of the Opposition, its disapproval of the principle of overseas borrowing and its protest against the manner in which this strange and odd Government always treats the National Parliament in matters of such major importance as the present measure. The Government thinks that a measure of this kind should be passed through the Parliament without any real discussion or debate. The Government thinks it has done a wonderful thing in raising money overseas. Well, it has a pretty hard struggle in every case to obtain that money, which indicates just how poor is our financial standing overseas. It indicates, too. that the time will come when the Government may not be able to borrow any more money overseas. As I said in relation to the previous measure, we are now borrowing overseas only sufficient money to pay the interest that we have incurred, and the amortization charges that we owe, in respect of money that we have borrowed previously.
– That is what the Government calls progress.
– Yes, that is what Government supporters call progress. If we continue with a policy that requires us to borrow money overseas to pay interest on the loans that we have previously raised, we will soon be broke, and that will happen no matter how often the Prime Minister fir. Menzies) and those who support him k about Australia enjoying the greatest r-n of prosperity that it has known in its 1 ““> years of existence.
.- I rise to support this bill. There is one justification, and one only, for the Government’s borrowing abroad, lt is that the capital which is injected into the Australian economy in the process expands the economy to that extent, and enables it to carry a larger load of debt. The debt thai has been incurred by the total borrowings from the International Bank is, in fact, well within the capacity of the Australian economy to carry, because that capacity has increased more than proportionately since those borrowings were commenced. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) gave as his first reason why the Opposition opposes this bill the fact that such opposition is an article of faith. In so far as anything is an article of faith beyond reason and not to be subjected to reason, it is, of course, unanswerable in the opinion of its proponents. I suggest, however, that there is a vast difference between Australia in 1957 and the Australia of the early 1930’s. It would be impossible to borrow from the International Bank for any prodigal purpose. One could sympathize with the reaction of those who said, in the early 1930’s, that in the immediately preceding years debt had been incurred too lightly, and insufficient attention had been devoted to making sure that the investment which resulted from it was well placed. But these things change, and we have to be careful that articles of faith do not become just parts of archaic folk lore.
I shall deal now with the cost of this money, which is i per cent, less than the rate at which the Government could borrow in the Australian market, even after allowing for the special commission to which the honorable member referred. This commission is, in fact, the kind of arrangement that any prudent bank would make. It provides for bad debts, and bad debts arise not just because countries misuse funds, but also because they may be overtaken by world economic conditions in which they are no longer able so easily to service their debts.
The honorable member for Melbourne spoke of our credit standing overseas, and I can say that in the New York market, which I know well, it is second only to that of Canada, without excepting any
European country. The honorable member said that the goods that would be imported with money obtained by this loan could be made in Australia. Even if this were true, it would not touch the real significance of the loan. In fact the proceeds of the loan, as has been the case with the other loans, will be sold to individual importers in Australia in order that they may buy American goods. The proceeds collected thereby in Australian currency are invested in the loan programmes of the Australian Loan Council.
I shall now turn my attention to the goods in the hands of the private importers, which have to be imported for the purposes set out in the programmes attached to the loan agreement. The conditions precedent to an import licence being granted for this or any other import from the dollar area are, first, that such goods are not available in Australia, or are not available in sufficient quantity, and, secondly, that they cannot be purchased at a comparable price in countries outside the dollar area. All of the goods imported as the result of this loan have to run the gauntlet of that test.
Those who oppose this loan must face what must immediately be the consequences of discontinuing our borrowing programme in the United States of America. First, that programme supports between oneeighth and one-ninth of the Australian Loan Council’s borrowing programme. If this source of capital disappeared it would be essential either to raise the money by other means - presumably by taxation, because as much as possible is already being raised by way of borrowing - or to cut down the Australian Loan Council’s programme accordingly. The other side of the picture would reveal that Australia’s imports, which have already been cut back to a far greater degree than is healthy for the economy, even when one considers the recent import licensing relaxation, would have to be further cut back, and we should in fact be able to import about £22,000,000 worth of goods per annum less than we are importing to-day.
The honorable member for Melbourne dealt with other ways of filling the loan. Any honorable member surely would agree that if we possibly could raise within Australia all the capital which could profitably be applied to investment in this country, we should not look outside it. But this is certainly not the case at present, nor was it in the recent past when a number of Commonwealth loans were filled by very undesirable methods. One has been the direct and indirect underwriting of loans by the Commonwealth Bank, to a very large degree to make up for lack of support in the bond market, the most inflationary action of which both this Government and the previous Labour government have been guilty and for which the rest of the community has had to pay.
Another argument of the honorable member for Melbourne was that we are now borrowing just to repay interest on previous loans. These things are, in fact, distinctly severable. Our previous loans are now represented by capital investment within Australia. Our economy is larger and stronger to that extent. We are better able to pay interest, and if we now did not continue to borrow we should have to invest less. It is true that the fact that we are borrowing and continuing to borrow means that, in a sense, these funds are being off-set against interest payments, but those interest payments already represent past investments which we should be able to carry. New loans, if well placed, represent future investment; and when they, in their turn, begin to mature, we shall be able to repay them. In fact, the load of overseas debt which Australia carries to-day is negligible compared with that of the early 1930’s.
If we are to progress as fast as we might, we need all the capital we can possibly muster, both from here and from overseas. It is the natural counterpart of our immigration programme. In fact, if we could borrow £100,000,000 a year from overseas now, we might be able - in fact, we probably would be able - to manage our current level of immigration without inflation. But if this Government scraped the markets of the world and did everything possible, it would have no chance to raise more than a small proportion of the funds which could be applied in Australia to profitable investment outlets at the present time. The cost of the loans, particularly from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, is certainly lower than is the cost of successful private investment in Australia. Not that we should not encourage both; but, in fact, the 4i per cent, which we shall pay on this loan is very much less than are the annual charges in respect of a successful American concern operating in Australia. The rate of profit, for instance, of General Motors-Holden’s Limited, whatever may be done with the proceeds ultimately, is certainly very much more expensive than is this form of borrowing.
During this debate a suggestion has crept in - it has not been said specifically - that there is some vast difference between borrowing dollars and borrowing any other currency. In this respect, our thinking needs to be brought up to date. If we take the three years immediately before the Suez crisis burst on the world, we shall see that the rest of the world, far from having a dollar deficit, had a dollar surplus. It is the countries which have not been able to restrain inflation which find themselves short of foreign currencies, dollars as well as other currencies; but those countries which have been strong enough and determined enough to arrest the process of inflation have, in fact, gained very large dollar reserves, particularly the stronger countries of Western Europe, lt is well to remember, too, that outside the sterling area the dollar is almost convertible currency, not always at the official rate, but at rates differing only slightly from it. Countries outside the sterling area can buy dollars with sterling, and I suggest that when we are thinking of borrowing dollars we should bring our thinking up to date and match it with borrowing elsewhere. In any case, Australia normally, year by year, has a surplus of foreign exchange earnings with the countries of the non-sterling area, and our surplus with these other countries, but for our support of the sterling area, would otherwise have to be cleared by the United Kingdom in gold or dollars. Our surplus in this other direction normally greatly exceeds our deficit with the dollar area, which we incur bilaterally. Therefore, sir, we should not be deterred from supporting this loan merely because it involves borrowing dollars. The final effect would be very much the same if we borrowed any other foreign currency.
There was another phrase used by the honorable member for Melbourne which struck me somewhat queerly. He said that we were treated as harshly as is any one else. Let us remember that the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development is an international, not an
American, institution. Indeed, I have been at the board when the United Stales has been outvoted, lt is an international institution, and an international institution necessarily must treat every one alike, so far as the terms and conditions of its loans are concerned. But, in fact, we are by far the largest borrower. We have been more generously treated than has any one else, and that is a reflection also of our almost uniquely good credit record.
There is one matter which has not been raised and to which 1 should like to refer. It is the question of these general loans as distinct from project loans, lt is probable that the board of the International Bank, which is looking increasingly askance at loans for general purposes, rather than specific loans for definite, set purposes, will limit our capacity in the future to borrow along general lines. This brings me to the point that, in future, we shall have to face the fact that if we want to borrow from the Internationa] Bank, we may well have to produce projects in detail, carefully surveyed, for the bank to finance.
– Such as the standardization of railway gauges, and works of that kind?
– That is an excellent example of the kind of thing which could be financed in this way. That would lead, of course, to serious State and Commonwealth problems. Any one who has had experience of the Loan Council and has had the job of trying to reconcile the jealousies of the States and their claims for projects to be carried out in one State rather than another realizes that that would be no easy task to face. We should prepare ourselves mentally to give some leadership in this respect, because if we want to produce projects on a scale big enough to warrant the raising of worthwhile amounts of capital from the International Bank in the future, there is no time to lose. We need the close co-operation of the State governments.
There is one field to which our thoughts and efforts should be turned immediately - that is transport. Most of the loans made to us so far by the International Bank have been for power or transport. Power is reasonably well provided for relative to transport, but we need large numbers of suitable projects, well engineered and capable of standing up to critical examination, in order to borrow money in the future.
I have no doubt that this loan will increase the capacity of Australia to bear overseas debt to a greater extent than the sum involved. Therefore, I support the bill.
Sitting suspended from 5.47 to 8 p.m.
.- In addressing myself to this measure, which is to provide for a loan of 50,000,000 dollars from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 1 remind the House that, as the Deputy Leader of the Labour party, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has indicated, the Labour party opposes the bill.
Before the suspension of the sitting the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), who has had some practical experience in this field, indicated that in his view Australia should borrow all the money it can, and whether it be from sterling sources or dollar sources seems, to him, immaterial. As I see it, this problem of borrowing from the International Bank cannot be severed from the whole question of Australia’s dollar problem - and there is a dollar problem, as this bill evidences. We should ask ourselves why we should borrow these dollars from the International Bank. Why is the loan necessary? Ostensibly the loan is necessary because it is to be used to purchase certain goods, the identity of which is set out in the schedule, and which, it is stated, are to further the economic development of Australia. Nobody cavils at the statement that we need as much economic development as possible in this country. However, I suggest that we must, at least, be prudent in the way in which we go about these things.
As I see it, we cannot sever the borrowing of this loan from the whole dollar position as it faces the Australian economy. I should like to cite a few figures to indicate the kind of perspective in which, I suggest, this proposal has to be evaluated. The real crux of the matter is that Australia does not earn sufficient dollars on current account - that is. by the sale of goods to the dollar area - to pay for the goods that we are purchasing from the dollar area. Initially there is considerable imbalance between Australia’s exports to the dollar area and its imports from the dollar area. That position can be seen in detail in a published statement emanating from the Commonwealth Statistician which gives the figures for trade for the year ended June, 1956. This statement shows that in that year, in round figures, we imported from America goods to the value of £A. 127,000,000, but exported to the dol.ar area goods worth, only £A. 73, 000,0 JO. So there was a difference, in round figures, of £A.54,000,000.
Now, that deficit has been bridged in two ways. It has been bridged by means of loans such as this, and it has been bridged also by investments by American concerns in Australian industry. 1 submit that this whole position needs to be looked at carefully before we can get it in its true light. One question we might ask ourselves is why, in the financial year 1955-56, when rigid import controls were supposed to be in operation, imports from dollar areas totalled £A. 127,000,000, which was the same figure as for the previous year, whereas on the sterling account, in respect of which also import controls were operating, the figure was £A.476.000,000 as against £A.520,000,000 in the previous year. There was a drop, on sterling account, of something of the order of £A.44,000,000 whereas the value of imports from the dollar area was unchanged from the previous year. It seems that import controls against sterling goods have been imposed more rigorously, as it were, than against dollar goods. At least that seems to be borne out by the figures that I have given. I think those figures also justify the feeling that we on this side of the House have that, so long as this Government can get dollars in any way at all. it does not very much matter to it how it does so if, overall, including both temporary and permanent things, our borrowings from and earnings in the dollar area are roughly balanced.
How has this balance been achieved in the last financial year? Again, the figures are published by the Commonwealth Statistician in a statement entitled, “The Australian Balance of Payments. 1951-52 to 1955-56 “, in which the imbalance that I have indicated is shown to be of the order of £-.50.000.000. Added to that shortage on current account - and I suggest that this, too. is a significant problem - is another £A. 50.000.000 made up of what are known as invisible items, which include freight on imports from America amounting to £A. 18.300.000: profits and dividends remitte 1 to America, £A.l 1.410.0 0; and undistributed income accruing to companies incorporated in the dollar area, £A.17,000,000. I have selected only the most significant of those items. The three that 1 have given total £A.46,700,000. They are items that absorb additional dollars and bring the overall deficit at this stage to round about £A. 100,000,000. Now, that deficit of £A. 100,000,000 has been balanced by the £A.17,000,000 that I mentioned, left in this country as undistributed profits, by new capital inflows in 1955-56 amounting to £A. 19,600,000, by drawings during that year from the International Bank of £A. 17,900,000 in dollars, and by drawings from the sterling area dollar pool of £A.40,000,000 in dollars. These sums add up roughly to £A. 100,000,000 so, as far as the Government is concerned, the dollar problem is solved for that year. But solved at what cost? I submit that we are storing up for ourselves in this country a great many problems for the future. As has been indicated, basically we get dollars in this country from three sources. We get them from the sale of goods, we get them from loans from the International Bank of the kind we are discussing, and we get them from the investment of dollars by private firms in the Australian economy. At the moment the United States of America is the principal creditor nation of the world. I shall now quote some statistics for the year 1955 which appear in the August, 1956, issue of an American publication, “ Survey of American Business published by the United States Department of Commerce. This particular issue contains an article which offers some rather interesting information about our own country. It is entitled “Growth of Foreign Investments in the United States and Abroad “, and begins -
United States private investments abroad continued to grow at a rapid rate in 19SS, increasing by 2.4 billion dollars to a year-end total of 29 billion dollars.
A billion dollars is, of course, a very large sum. When we match it with Australia’s comparatively insignificant dollar shortage we tend to lose perspective. To America 50,000,000 dollars is not a very significant sum, but it is very significant indeed in terms of Australia’s dollar requirements. The article gives some figures which show the very rapid growth of American private investment in Australia. In 1950 the aggregate amount of direct investment was 201.000.000 dollars. By 1951 it hail risen io 256,000.000 dollars; by 1952 to 310,000,000 dollars; by 1953 to 326,000.000 dollars; by 1954 to 393,000,000 dollars, and by 1955, the latest year for which figures are available, to 494,000,000 dollars.
The most significant movement has occurred in the last two years. Between 1953 and 1954 there was an increase of 67,000,000 dollars, and between 1954 and 1955 an increase of 101.000.000 dollars. These increases were made up of new investment, on the one part, and undistributed profits on the other. Of the increase of 67.000.000 dollars which occurred between 1953 and 1954, new capital accounted for 32,000,000 dollars and undistributed profits for 35,000.000 dollars. Of the undistributed profits 24.000.000 dollars was found in the Australian manufacturing field. Of the increase of 101.000.000 dollars which occurred between 1954 and 1955. new capital accounted for 62,000,000 dollars and undistributed profits for 39.000.000 dollars, of which 29.000.000 dollars reached the manufacturing field.
Details are also given, by categories, of where this American investment has gone in the Australian economy, lt seems to me that these figures also are very significant. Total investment had, by the end of 1955, reached 494.000,000 dollars. Of this, 237.000.000 dollars - or slightly less than half - was found in the manufacturing industries. Trade accounted for 26.000.000 dollars, other industries for 21.000.000 dollars, and mining and smelting for 25.000.000 dollars. The remaining 185.000.000 dollars was very largely devoted to I he petroleum industry.
A table of the earnings from this American investment is also given. These figures also seem to be significant. For 1955, the earnings on the American investment of 494 000.000 dollars totalled 64.000.000 dollars. That is a fairly g001 rate of return and of it, 48,000,000 dollars - even though the manufacturing investment was less than half of the total - came from the manufacturing field. 1 repeat, the earnings from ;i total investment in r, manufacturing of 237 00r> 000 dollars were 48.000 000 dollars. That would seem to indicate that the prices thu’ ‘ ‘‘fin” charged fo- products- - and I do not refer merely to those of
General-Motors Holden’s Limited - are a little higher than one would think necessary for a fair return upon capital investment. Moreover, it is setting up a very critical dollar-shortage problem. A large part of these earnings is remitted to America in the form of dividends. It is quite true that a part is retained, or “ ploughed back “ into the Austraiian undertaking, but even this can at some time or other, subject to Treasury regulation, be remitted abroad.
The total is building up year after year. The figures continue to be significant, and can perhaps be matched one against the other. The earnings of American investment from 1950 to 1955 have run as follows: - In 1950, they were 27,000,000 dollars; in 1951, 36,000,000 dollars; in 1952, 33,000,000 dollars; in 1953, 51,000,000 dollars; in 1954, 60,000,000 dollars; and in 1955, 64,000,000 dollars, i repeat, 48.000.000 dollars of the 1955 figure came from the manufacturing field. We have reached a stage where undistributed, and remitted, profits are the two most significant items among the invisible - £28,000.000 last year of the total of £50,000,000. These sums, which are going out of the Australian economy, nullify a very high proportion of Australia’s export earnings. Honorable members should keep in mind that Australia’s exports to America are worth about £70,000,000 a year. The invisible items totalled £50,000,000 last year, and, as 1 have said, of this undistributed and remitted profits accounted foi £28.000.000.
I suggest that this is the kind of problem that is being ignored by this Government. It should face the matter squarely and ask, “ Need we borrow these dollars in order to provide certain necessary things?” We challenge the Government’s claim that a large part of these goods which at the moment are imported with the assistance of dollar loans - tractors have been given as an example - cannot be obtained from sterling or Australian sources. I know of Australian-made tractor equipment which cannot be sold. In my own electorate the firm of Malcolm Moore makes large earth-moving equipment. I went down there less than a month ago and found that they had hundreds of thousands of pounds’ wo-th of it stacked in the yards. They say that they cannot sell it. Admittedly, as mentioned by the honorable member for Wentworth 1 Mr. Bury), one or me reasons is that the Australian product is, perhaps, C!00 or £200 dearer than lbs imported product. But there are a number of other things in Australia at the moment which are protected by tariffs and at which that charge could bc levelled. I suggest thai we must face up to the reality of the situation. Should we protect some of these industries rather than get involved in the morans of the dollar problem? It seems to me that the Government is not facing up to the implications that are involved.
I was interested, recently, to read in the April, 1956, issue of that very informative government publication. “ The Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics “, which, I think, is published under the aegis of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Canberra, an article headed “ Direct Foreign Investment - Influence on Australian Balance of Payments “, by C. Dawson. Mr. Dawson came to this conclusion at the end of the article -
Far from reducing Australia’s dependence on the rural and other established, export industries in paying for imports . . . direct foreign investment, unselectively welcomed, may well increase that burden.
The consequences of direct foreign investment on the balance of payments vary, of course, from industry to industry and from one undertaking to another. In the light of these considerations, Mr. Dawson stated -
Australia’s present and prospective balance of payments position would appear to call for a policy of critical selectivity in the admission of and in the granting of assistance to direct investment from overseas.
– Who said that?
– This is in a government publication. I suppose that, at the beginning of it, there may be some proviso to the effect that it does not necessarily reflect the views of the Government. I do not know. I simply quote this. I suggest that honorable members may read the article afterwards with some profit to themselves. But at least the suggestion is that a large part of private investment from the United States of America has really picked the eyes out of investment opportunities in Australia. It has not come here on a philanthropic basis. It has come here as private enterprise to earn as much on its capital as. is possible. But Australia will pay the price in the next few years. I have already cued an example of large profits from manufacturing where, from an aggregate investment of 237,000,000 dollars last year, there was a net return of 48,000,000 dollars. It seems (o me that that is too high a price to pay for some of this investment which should have been more carefully chosen oi on which more restrictions should have been placed when it sought to come here.
This problem is causing concern not only in Australia. Apparently, it is also causing concern in Canada, a country which was cited with approval from the other side of the House before the sitting was suspended. As the result of certain criticisms of the inroads of direct private investment in Canada, an extensive inquiry was undertaken in that country. The result has been published in the form of a booklet. “ Canadian International Investment Position from 1926 to 1954”. I think the point is well made that the largest part of investment in Canada, taking all sources ranging from schools, hospitals and houses up to manufacturing industries, has come from resources in Canada. That is also true of Australia. Basically, the major pan of our aggregate investment has been found within this country and the amount that has come from overseas has tended only to be marginal. Because it is unselectively made and is more than unusually welcome to this Government, very little attempt is made to see that overseas investors are not picking the eyes out of investment opportunities here.
Basically, the majority control of a large part of Canadian industry no longer resides in Canada. I shall quote from a very radical publication. “ The First National City Bank Monthly Letter - Business and Economic Conditions “, which is dated August. 1956. lt contains a digest or summary of the Canadian experience. It quotes a passage from the “ Financial Post “, a Canadian journal, as follows: -
Most people have known that American participation in Canadian industry has been soaring since the war. hut few have realized the extern of foreign domination. … In 1926 Canada controlled 65 per cent, of its manufacturing; in 1953 it was 53 per cent.; to-day it may be no more than half. In 1926 Canada controlled 62 per cent, of its mining: in 1953 it was 43 per cent.: to-day ir is probably lower still. Taking altogether petroleum (in all its phases), all mining and smelting and all other manufacturing, Canada in 1953 was just keeping ahead ot the United Stales in its ownership of those aspects of Canadian business. 1 suggest that the time has come when this Government should face up to this sort of problem and conduct just as system:.:1: on inquiry into the extent of control of certain phases of Australian manufacturing industry as has been conducted in Canada. The Government should inquire, particularly, into the petroleum industries. It is generally recognized by those people who adhere to what is called the Keynesian analysis of things that investment policy is very important indeed in regulating the whole economic tempo of a community and in preserving full employment.
The Australian Labour party stands fundamentally upon the continuance of full employment, but realizes thai the continuance of full employment is dependent on overall control. That is achieved through monetary, taxation and other methods. There must be overall control of investment policy. But we do not know how significant a sector of our potential investment field in this country is ours to control any longer. I submit that there is very good ground for setting up an expert committee of inquiry to examine the Australian international investment position, just as was done in the sister dominion of Canada.
– I feel that in discussing this bill, which will authorize further borrowing of 50.000.000 dollars from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, we naturally associate the debate with the views that have traditionally been expressed by Labour members. My friend the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), who. I believe, by virtue of his specialized knowledge and experience as a former officer of the bank, contributed much of value to the debate, pointed fairly - and squarely to the weakness of the Opposition’s argument when he stated that, if the views of Opposition members were a matter of faith, they were hardly realistic in the world of international finance. I think we all agree with Polonius. that well-known character in Shakespeare’s “ Hamlet “, who said -
Neither a borrower, nor a lender be.
If one is a borrower, one must pay back what he has borrowed. If one is a lender, ene finds that the person who has borrowed often becomes a little incensed at the necessity to repay what he has borrowed. I suggest that it would be best for us to explore our own internal financial resources to see whether we can promote Australia’s progress and development within the limits of our cwn resources. But as every one knows, at the stage of dynamic development that Australia has reached and must pass through if it is to fulfil its destiny, we cannot find the necessary finance from within our own resources.
In this debate, the normal sources of finance available in the past have hardly been mentioned. Prior to World War II., we were able to rely on British capital to meet the requirements of necessary capital works. As we know, owing to the tremendous pressure on Great Britain’s internal financial resources and international financial reserves, the Mother Country is no longer in a position to extend to the various members of the British Commonwealth of Nations the financial assistance that they require for their development. We in Australia, in particular, as a result of the altered emphasis of world strategy, have a far more urgent need for rapid development than ever before, even at the risk of imposing almost intolerable pressure on our own economy. However, I shall not deal further with that aspect of the matter. I think every honorable member knows the facts in relation to it. If we admit the difficulty - indeed, the virtual impossibility - of adding to our capital resources through the old, traditional channels that were formerly available on the London money market, it is obvious that we must turn to other methods. 1 agree entirely with my friend the honorable member for Wentworth that it is absolutely essential for Australia’s progress that we should not only introduce into Australia as much new capital as we can obtain, but also accept the opportunities afforded by dollar loans. There is another aspect of the matter which, perhaps, may be said to have been ignored in this debate so far. Through the use of dollar loans, we can add to the general effort in Australia certain resources that would otherwise be denied to us. This measure will authorize borrowing that will not only introduce additional capital into Australia but also - and possibly of more importance - provide dollar resources that would be unavailable to us if we were not able to borrow from the International Bank. The first schedule to the bill lists the programmes to which the proceeds of the loan may be devoted. Again .1 am inclined to agree with my colleague, the honorable member for Wentworth, who said that in the future we may not be able to borrow on a general basis as envisaged in this measure and that we shall have to present to the bank a more specialized programme of expenditure, which the honorable member termed a project programme. So far as it goes, the list of programmes on which the proceeds of the loan may be expended, as set out in the first schedule to the bill, covers a number of activities that are very important to Australia. Each is of tremendous significance to Australia’s development, although no specific amount is stated in respect of any of them.
An agriculture and forestry programme is the first of the programmes listed in the schedule. Any one who travels through Australia’s countryside to-day would have to be blind not to realize the extraordinary importance to agriculture and forestry of the machinery and equipment that this dollar loan will enable us to obtain. I have some personal knowledge of the land and of subjects such as fodder conservation. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition, made a passing reference to the possibility of manufacturing in Australia the kind of machinery that we propose to import from the dollar area. Although, in the long term, his view may be correct, it is completely without foundation at the present time. A road transport programme also is listed in the first schedule to the bill. Of all the subjects debated in this House from time to time, the subject of roads probably receives more attention than any other, because we all realize that an efficient and reliable roads system is absolutely essential to Australia’s economy. When one sees at work the plant and machinery used bv the various roads authorities, such as main roads boards and the Victorian Country Roads Board, and realizes its origin, one cannot help but understand how greatly the work of constructing and maintaining Australia’s roads is promoted by the dollar funds provided by loans such as this.
The first schedule to the bill lists a railway programme also. The railways are a very important part of our transport system. I think that every honorable member will agree that one of the greatest uplifts that the Australian rail system has had recently was the introduction of diesel-electric locomotives. They have reduced costs and resulted in far more efficient and speed) rail services. The programme for the greater use of diesel-electric traction could not proceed without considerable dollar expenditure. In this field alone, loans such as this make a vast contribution to Australia’s development and to the stability of our economy, as I know my colleague, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), would be the first to agree.
I suggest that those Opposition critics who reject the idea of overseas borrowing would realize, if they moved about the countryside a little more than they do. and used their powers of perception adequately, the extraordinary value to Aus tralia’s economy of these dollar loans and the great benefit derived from the dollar imports made possible by them. I recognize that Labour is traditionally opposed to overseas borrowing. Opposition members have built up in their own minds » fiction that overseas lenders, like Shakespeare’s Shylock, are bent on obtaining their last pound of flesh. Perhaps the memories of Opposition members are still a little coloured by recollections of the unfortunate incidents that occurred in 1931 when a State Premier of Labour persuasion subjected Australia to the indignity of the first repudiation that had ever occurred in the field of public finance. I should like to remind Opposition members, and also the people of Australia, that the Lyons Government, which was not a Labour administration, was responsible for restoring overseas confidence in Australia’s credit. Possibly the nasty thought that it had fallen down on the job is one of the basic reasons why the Opposition opposes borrowing overseas. However, that is in passing.
The honorable member for Melbourne, in the course of his speech on this bill, drew attention to the extraordinary capacity of Labour for raising money during the war period and the immediate post-war period. On the facts of the case, ignoring every other consideration. Labour did fairly well. Labour restrain”-1 interest rates and «ot the money it wan’e but the Australian people will always remember that certain other concomitants of raising money made it almost impossible for the general public 10 invest in anything but government loans, in other words, the government of the day had a strangle-hold on the money market, which it carried on after the war. it had control of mortgage rates; it had control of interest rates; and it had control over capital issue. Prices of stocks and shares were pegged on die stock exchange. The price of land was pegged, and the average ordinary investor had only one channel in which to put his money - government loans. I agree that, during war-time, that was good, it had to he done, and any government of the future would probably do the same; but it is idle for the Opposition, in the face of the restrictions that it imposed on the investing public, to try to tell the people of Australia that it was due to its policies that it could fill its loans in time of peace. While the people of Australia, with their natural patriotism, will subscribe to a policy which means lending to the utmost for war purposes, when the war is over they have another thought about it. That is where I believe the arguments of the honorable member for Melbourne were completely away from the real considerations of the money market to-day.
During the course of the debate to-night, and in previous debates on this similar subject, various references have been made to the rather hard terms which, it is claimed, the International Bank imposes on Australia. I think my colleague, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) dealt with that effectively, but I would like to refer, particularly in relation to interest rates, to the last report issued by the bank. lt is the eleventh annual report, covering activities for 1955-56. On page 12, in reference to interest rates - the matter in respect of which it is alleged that Australia has been dealt with harshly - the report states -
Because of a general rise in money rates in the world’s major capital markets, the Bank’s interest charges, which are based upon the estimated cost of borrowing bv the Bank at the time a loan is made, were raised toward the end of the year, Including the I ner cent, commission, the rat? on loans of more than fifteen years was raise ‘ from 4i to 5 ner cent. The new rate for shorter periods was set at 4) ner cent., compare 1 with the two previous rates of 4i per cen, m- tei years and 4t ner cent, from eleven In fifteen years.
As we understand it. under this MI we are borrowing at 4J per cent., including the commission rate, and I say that far from dealing harshly wi,h Australia the International Bank is giving us fair average treatment as a borrowing country.
The next question 1 wish to discuss concerns the attitude of the Opposition towards the servicing of this loan overseas, and also, in general, its attitude towards the servicing of dividends from American investments within Australia. This is a very large subject and while Mr. Dawson, who was quoted by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), is quite entitle.1 to his own opinion about this matter, I believe that the whole background of that opinion is based on a theory that Australia must always be a borrower country and there must always be a dollar difficulty. May I remind honorable members opposite that the total dollar debt - not merely the one we are now debating, but the total debt of some 317,000,000 dollars - is only the equivalent of approximately one-third of the present Australian wool clip. To say that it is beyond our capacity and our capability to repay that sum seems to me to deny any hope of success in this country in the future. I say that the arguments of Mr. Dawson, quoted by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, pointing out the grave danger of the servicing difficulties that might arise in relation to these overseas loans, are based on a complete fear of, or distrust in, the future of Australia. If I believed that Australia was, in racing parlance, a “ nohoper “ country, I would agree with the honorable member, but I believe that this country is going on to greater fulfilment than we have seen in other parts of the world, particularly in the southern hemisphere. That is why I say that people such as Mr. Dawson and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports are renouncing their faith in Australia’s future. Their attitude is consistent with saying that Australia must always be a borrower and that this money cannot produce the type of equipment that we require to carry out the development of this great country. Ii also suggests a belief that the United States of America will always be a creditor and that there will always be a dollar shortage.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports gave some very detailed figures about Australia’s dollar imbalance. There is one point which I feel should be brought to the notice of the House: To a great extent that imbalance, as it appears on the figures, is brought about by the fact that America has nol been an immediate or direct buyer in the Australian wool market. Over a number of years America’s direct wool purchases have been supplemented by purchases of Australian wool, delivered to European ports, and carried on to Boston and other American wool-selling centres. In fact, a great proportion of the Australian wool clip which one might expect to be bought directly by the United States, has been purchased indirectly through continental countries which have, through that means, been able to avail themselves of dollar currency. While it would be impossible to estimate the exact amount of wool that is being sold through indirect methods into the American market, I can assure the House of my own knowledge that the American wool buyers have always said that it is cheaper for them to buy Australian wool in Boston than to buy it in Australia. As 1 said earlier, continental buyers have been buying Australian wool, re-shipping it from continental ports to the United States, and getting dollar currency for the general benefit of their own country. So this imbalance, particularly in relation to wool, might be more apparent than real.
Another remark made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports concerned undistributed profits, and he particularly referred to manufacturing profits.
Taking the strategic angle on the general question of Australia’s economic future, I hold the view that the more investment interests we can get in Australia the stronger our general defence position will be. I believe that the fact that America is prepared to invest money in Australia is an expression of its confidence in us as an investment risk. The honorable member for Wentworth has referred to the standing of Australia as a borrower in the view of the International Bank. But I feel that any basis of confidence that may exist under those conditions must also exist on the standards of defence capability and the stability of government in Australia. That, I think, is an expression that we can take to heart in this debate, and particularly in the future when deciding these questions of international loans. If we can encourage and develop American investment within
Australia, I feel we can look with some sense of confidence to the immediate and spontaneous support of Australia should we ever get into some difficulty on the international level.
The Labour party has presented what they call its faith doctrine, because Labour traditionally rejects the idea of overseas loans. If 1 believed that this idea was really genuine and not rubbish, as it really is, and if we could not service these loans. I should be inclined to agree with members of that party. But their present attitude is reminiscent of the remarks of a distinguished American businessman who came to Australia some years ago. In his parting shot to the press, he said, “ While Australia is a great country, it seems to me » country that may be suffering from hardened arteries “. In other words, it had a condition of premature old age. I believe that is a possibility that should not bc ignored in any discussion on Australia’s policy on foreign loans.
Apparently, the Labour party has no confidence in our future. Perhaps with its intimate knowledge of the harm it is doing in the industrial movement, it may be quite justified in suggesting that there is a tendency politically for it to slow down general activity and the general development of Australia. If, as I say, the background of Opposition members’ views is based on the fact that they think politically they can control the industrial movement in Australia, that they can slow down development, and that they can impose their will on the unions to try to evolve some political advantage to them through industrial action, they may be right.
I am quite satisfied that, despite the political aspirations of honorable gentlemen opposite and despite the fact that they have, perhaps, a rather jaundiced view of the future of this country, the average workman does not believe them. He believes that, given a chance and given every opportunity with good machinery, good management and good encouragement, Australian industry, both primary and secondary, can carry this country to a great future.
.- The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) has. I think, come down from great heights of superiority to-night-
– From Oxford.
– He has come down from great heights of superiority to-night to deal in a very condescending manner with the rather “ puerile arguments “ that come from this side of the House and has ended by an interjection reflecting upon Oxford. It comes rather strangely to my ear from one of those on the other side of the House who seem to admire these things. 1 should like, first of all, to deal with the point raised by the honorable member when he referred to the position we take as a matter of faith. 1 noticed that he was very careful to avoid dealing with the mass of figures presented by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) as evidence that our balance of payments was endangered to some extent by the policy in relation to foreign loans. He was very moderate in his statement of the extent to which it is endangered. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports went on to show the growth of foreign investment in Australia and he connected that to investment policy which, he felt, might have fallen into hands which were not primarily concerned with the Australian level of employment. It seemed to me that the argument presented by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was an argument factually presented, that his conclusions were reasonably drawn and that these conclusions were logically connected to his facts. Yet the honorable member for Corangamite, with his superior attitude, dismissed it as a matter of faith!
The second point of the honorable member for Corangamite was that the bill must go through. He asked: Where shall we obtain the necessary finance if the bill does not go through? The first thing I say on that point is that, despite the strenuous efforts made by this Government to cultivate the favour of the United States, relatively little has been obtained. Not more than 10 per cent., or 12 per cent, at the outside, of our normal investment requirements has been directly or indirectly financed in this way. Though I am quite prepared to agree with and support that part which has been productive and beneficial, very little of this investment has been in essential sectors of the economy, despite this Government’s policy and despite its sedulous attempt to cultivate the United
States. I suggest that the main reason for this - and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) put his finger on it - is the almost impossible economic policy followed by the Government, a policy that is very favorable for investment in the essential fields. The honorable member for Wentworth pointed out that the currencies of countries where inflation has been dealt with are relatively as strong as the dollar, but the currencies of countries like Australia where inflation has not been dealt with are weak in relation to the dollar. However much the Government and its supporters may fawn upon the United States in an endeavour to get money in this way, its fawning is not enough because the United States of America represents firstclass businessmen who look primarily to what they can earn.
The honorable member for Corangamite went on to say that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and Mr. Dawson, whom he quoted, have an obsession which is based upon a complete fear for the future. Honorable members opposite feel that we on this side of the House have no confidence in the future of Australia, presumably because we will not support a “ let-her-rip policy “ which has characterized the Government. When he says that our attitude is based upon a belief that Australia must always be a borrower and that there will always be a dollar deficit, I suggest that these are the facts: The alternative to Australia always being a borrower, or the alternative to us always having to control our imports very strictly is a considerable fall in our national income, the level of employment and the distribution of income within that total. That is the alternative; that is the classical remedy for a shortage of overseas funds; and I suggest that still remains the case.
If Australia does not adopt this classical remedy because of the apparent impossibility of governments retaining office if they do, then I suggest we have to look carefully and reasonably at the future. We must not be over-confident about the future, as some Government supporters seem to be, and we should not believe that any kind of immigration programme, any kind of import programme or any kind of borrowing is acceptable if we can find it. On the other hand. I suggest that we should be reasonable and moderate in this matter.
The fourth point raised by the honorable member for Corangamite, and with which 1 hope to have time to deal, contained a little bit of economic determination. He said - and 1 agree with him - that the more investment lite United States of America makes in Australia the stronger will be our defence position, because in the event of conflict the United States will come to the defence of its own investments. Of course it will; the honorable member is quite right. But, Mr. speaker, do you remember an earlier debate when it was suggested thai economic motives might have something 10 uo Wl. what was happening with regard to egypt and the Middle East? Oh, no, the United States would nol go lo the defence of its investments in the Middle East! li is a purely racial problem there, between Israel and Egypt However, according to the honorable member for Corangamite, the United States will come to me defence of. its investments in Australia. Of course it willi And it goes to ihe defence of its investments elsewhere, too.
– Would not the honorable member want it to do so?
– Yes. Do not shift ground completely; be logical, if you can, and examine the argument, just for once. I suggest that we might examine this bill at some length, and look a little more closely at the matter raised by the Opposition, to see whether it is a matter of faith, or whether there are any facts in support of our case. The argument raised is that overseas currency is scarce, and that dollar currency in particular is scarce, and that we should seek to obtain overseas currency wherever and whenever we can. We must turn, first of all, to exports and services, but we find that we cannot get enough in this direction. We must turn, therefore, to loans. We must do this because we want the most rapid kind of economic development possible. This is a perfectly logical argument, and to it the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) added the statement that the one justification for borrowmg overseas is that the capital that we obtain relatively increases our capacity to carry a greater burden of debt. I think that this was merely an assertion by the honorable member. One would have expected that a person of his experience and background would have taken a look »t the statistics that are available in Australia to see whether his assertion was correct. Rather did he do the opposite. He f, m -1 v made an assertion and made no attempt to test it. It can be tested, and I propose to do so. 1 suggest that we have experienced in Australia in recent years an increasing dependence upon borrowing. Before 1 go into the figures in this regard, let me say that I am perfectly prepared to concede) - and I think it could be called a concession - that to-day we are not nearly as dependent on borrowing as we were before i.1k war. The impact of borrowing upon our balance of payments, in addition to w national income and capacity to produce, i« probably not so great, as it was before thi war. But, I want to direct attention to the nature of the problem and the trends ii> that problem that the figures reveal. 1 shah not pjt mis necessarily upon a political level, but one has to start the comparison somewhere. Between 1941-42 and 1948- 49 oar overseas indebtedness showed a net decrease of £143,000,000. This is a complex figure, taken from the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure, but it is a figure that can be used for purposes of comparison, because 1 shall use similar figures in a few moments. As 1 say, our overseas indebtedness decreased by £143,000,000 in that period. During this, time we financed a war effort, in the period between 1941 and 1945, which was very significant, upon any test. We received a considerable amount of investment, both directly in the war sector of the economy and in the other sector of it. About SO0.0O0 people were taken from productive activities and placed in the services. We financed a considerable amount of activity at the same time as we reduced our net overseas indebtedness by £143,000,000 But since 1949-50 the trend has been quite the reverse. Since then our overseas, indebtedness has increased by £821,000,000 I concede that this still does not pui us relatively, in as difficult a position as thai which obtained before the war, but that trend and that comparison cannot, I suggest, be overlooked.
This increase in our indebtedness is not completely the result of borrowing. It it also the result of some other factors, and when we turn to the amount of oversea* borrowing to try to find out the significance of borrowing, again we have a rather complex figure which is given in the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure, which not only includes borrowing, but such items as undistributed company profits. changes in foreign bank balances in Australia, deferred import payments and a few other matters of that kind. But the amount borrowed is still the most significant part of this figure. During the first period, from 1941-42 until 1948-49, a considerable amount of borrowing took place, at, on the whole, much more favorable rates of interest and terms of repayment than in the second period, with which I will deal in a moment. The increase in borrowing amounted to £259,000,000. In the second period, from 1949-50 to 1955-56, the increase amounted to £716,000,000. This increase in our indebtedness and our borrowing is a very significant trend that has developed during the term of office of this Government, which has turned increasingly towards overseas investment of this kind. [ suggest that the reason for it is indicated by the remark of the honorable member for Wentworth, that inflation makes an internal condition which is not favorable to domestic investment in many fields, is not favorable to domestic savings because of the effect of inflation on the value of savings, and is not favorable to the direction of investment into essential places.
Not only has this occurred, but there has been a very erratic behaviour in the inflow of loans. If we are dependent significantly upon loans, that dependence is not so critical if we can see a fairly uniform and steady pattern of available loan funds, a rising pattern or at least a steady one. But that has not been so. Overseas investment in Australia since World War II. has followed a most erratic course, and I suggest that this is one of the dangers that Australia is facing. I should like to run through the figures from 1941-42 to show the erratic nature of this investment. These figures include both public and private investment, and they are as follows: -
The figures follow a most erratic course.
– There was a war on in 1951.
– So I believe. 1 think the situation must be related to the general condition of the economy. Normally we might have relied a little more upon export earnings and services to finance the amount of overseas payments that we were required to make. We were not able to do that, so the gap has been filled from the proceeds of overseas loans. The really significant thing about this is that in almost every year since the war the gap has had to be filled by the proceeds of overseas loans. This is just where the overseas loans impact relatively more on the economy now,I. should think, than before the war. We were never, as far as one can see, in a similar position before the war, although the figures necessary to test the accuracy of this statement are not available readily or perhaps at all. Despite this situation, we have had a condition which is not really new, of controlled imports. By controlling imports, we have been able to create something of an economic playground in this country. By means of import controls, the present Government has been able to permit inflationary pressures to continue, and it has been able to see, as the Treasurer was able to see in 1950, the distortions of the economy that these inflationary pressures have produced. The effects of this, generally speaking, are fairly well known, but I suggest that the main effect in relation to borrowing and lending has been to make domestic investment a less significant factor in the long-run development of our own economy, and we have not been able, therefore, to earn sufficient funds to pay even for controlled imports, and for freights, services and other invisibles. We have become dependent, for our balance in most years, upon borrowing of the type I have already discussed. Where inflation has been dealt with, funds are more readily available from domestic sources. The alternative to going overseas for increasing amounts of funds is to deal with inflation and the distortions of inflation in our own economy. The Government is forced, to some extent, to go overseas and to do the things it it doing because it will not come to grips with the inflationary situation at home.
The next matter thatI should like to deal with concerns a significant point raised by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury). I suggested earlier that he raised this point in terms of a pure assertion which one would hardly have expected from a man of his knowledge and access to sources. One would hardly have expected the simple assertion that Australia is able to carry the burden of loans more easily. There are some figures by which we can test this. The test, necessarily, is somewhat arbitrary, but we can take the cost of servicing overseas loans in various ways, and we can compare that cost with our export earnings, or with our gross national product. If we had a measure of our total capital investment we also could compare it with that. If we had a measure of our productive capacity we could compare it with that, too, but as we have no measures of our gross capital structure, and our productive capacity that make sense, we cannot test it in that way. But we have a measure of exports and we have a measure of gross national product.
If we look at the cost of servicing our loans, the net dividends and interest paid overseas, and if we include undistributed profits, although that may not be completely accurate, we shall see that there has been an improvement in the post-war period compared with the pre-war period. I made that concession earlier, and it is also borne out by these figures. In 1941-42, the total cost of net interest, dividends paid overseas and undistributed profits - we have to take them in these years together because the White Paper on National Income does not separate them until, I think, 1948-49 - was £28.000,000, or 18 per cent, or 19 per cent, of the value of our exports at that time. Between 1941 and 1949. there was a decline from that 18 per cent, or 19 per cent, to 3.5 per cent, or 4 per cent, of the value of our exports. There was some fluctuation, mainly in respect of exports, but in the post- 1949 period, I suggest there has been no increased capacity of the Australian economy to carry the cost of servicing overseas loans, because in 1949-50 the amount of net interest, dividends paid and undistributed profits - £3 1 ,000,000- represented 5.1 per cent, of the value of exports. In the last year, at £60.000.000, the figure for net interest, dividends paid and undistributed profits represented 7.7 per cent, of our exports.
If one takes net interest, as it can be taken now from 1949, it will be found that the net interest of £15.000.000 in 1949-50 has more than doubled, to £31.000.000 in 1955-56. If we take the cost of servicing loans - net interest, dividends paid and undistributed profits - we find that the increase from £31.000,000 in 1949-50 to £60,000,000 in 1 955-56 is just a little more than 90 per cent, lt so happens that our gross national product also has increased by approximately 90 per cent., so that there is not much difference there. In both these cases, there is no allowance for price increases, but if we allow for price increases we find that the comparison is a little less favorable to the argument that the economy is now more capable of carrying the cost of servicing overseas loans than it was before. So I suggest that, had the honorable member for Wentworth taken the time to check the figures, he would have found that his proposition that the economy is now more capable of carrying overseas loans was not borne out. I am not going to say that, even on that comparison, the economy is less capable of doing so, but I say that the statistics which are available are inclined to that view. They certainly do not support the view put forward by the honorable member.
Departing for a moment from these general considerations, before I conclude 1 should like to look at a few particular considerations in relation to this bill. On several occasions I have endeavoured, by way of questions on notice and other forms of question, to discover from the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) whether there is any tie between money obtained from loans from the International Bank and the spending ot that money in dollar areas. From my own point of view, I think that a loan of this kind from the International Bank is, in many ways, preferable to a loan on the market in the ordinary way. In this case, we can certainly see the kind of goods that will be imported, and we can make some test of whether or not they are essential in relation to other things. In respect of most of our loans from overseas, we can make no such test. In regard to the questions that I have directed to the Treasurer, I have been unable to find evidence one way or the other, on the statements that have been made, that there is no such tie or that these funds may be spent in any part of the world. Theoretically, perhaps, they may be spent anywhere, but evidence accumulates from a good many importers who are concerned, for example, with the importation of tractors, that it is relatively much easier to obtain tractors from American sources than it is from European sources. When one turns to the agreement there is a suggestion, I think, that this might be the case. In Article III. of the second schedule to the bill we find a section which deals with currencies in which the proceeds of loans are to be withdrawn. The section states -
The Borrower shall use reasonable efforts to assure that payment for goods financed out of -he proceeds of the Loan ls made in the currencies of the countries from which such goods are acquired The proceeds of the Loan shall, to the extent that the Bank shall so elect, be withdrawn from the Loan Account in the several currencies in which goods are paid for. rh is is the sentence I want to stress -
The Bank shall be under no obligation to permit ;he proceeds of the Loan to be withdrawn in any currency except the currency in which the Loan is denominated nd, of course, the loan is denominated in dollars. It seems to me that it may be possible - I do not know whether it happens, and I am raising this question in an effort to find out whether it does - in terms of this proposition contained in Article III. of the second schedule of the bill, that the bank may influence the spending of loans in countries in the dollar area. When we look on a little further, we find, in Article VI., that a bond is to be entered into by the borrower. The relevant section states -
The Borrower shall execute and deliver Bonds representing the principal amount of the Loan, is hereinafter in this Article provided.
When we look to see the kind of bond that the borrower shall execute - and this may be simply an accident - we find that the form of the bond is covered by Schedule I and is headed, “ Form of Registered Bond without Coupons Payable in Dollars”. The dollar sign and the dollar condition, as it were, appear throughout the bond. I have raised this matter with the object of trying to discover whether, in fact, there will be a tendency - perhaps not as the result of a deliberate decision - for the proceeds of the loan, in practice, to be spent upon dollar goods. I relate this to the proposition put forward by the honorable member for Melbourne, who showed that relatively there was a greater pressure upon the sterling area currency than upon the dollar area currency in the operation of import controls. There appears to be a suggestion that the proceeds of the loan are tied in some way to dollar goods.
I should like to conclude by summarizing my propositions. Although we are now not quite so dependent upon borrowing as we were before the war, we are becoming increasingly dependent upon borrowing, and, what is more, upon a kind of borrowing which is erratic and which fluctuates in a marked way. This increasing dependence can be demonstrated. For the five-year period 1951-52 to 1955-56, our average annual receipts from overseas loans have been £86.000,000. That is what we have gained, on the average, in each of those years. But if we examine the cost of servicing our overseas loans, we find that the cost of dividends and remitted profits alone for each of those years has been, on the average, £28.000,000. or 32 per cent, of all that we have obtained in each year by borrowing from overseas, ft is easy to say. as did the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury). that the money obtained by those new borrowings takes the shape of a capital structure and increases the capacity of the country to bear the cost of the loans: but I suggest that when one looks at the figures, one sees that our capacity to do so has not been increased. During the last five years we have obtained, on the average. £86.000.000 each year from overseas loans, but the average annual cost of dividends and remitted profits, plus undistributed profits, has been £53,000.000, or 61 per cent, of the money that we have obtained, on the average, in each of those years. Perhaps undistributed profits are not a current and continuing charge upon the balance of payments, but about £119.000.000 of undistributed profits has accumulated during that period of five years. Much of that money has been reinvested. Unless those assets are sold, the money could not readily become a charge upon our balance of payments, but the fact must not be overlooked that a considerable portion of the money represented by those undistributed profits is available to be withdrawn in the event of some sort of crisis.
If we take into account the interest charges on public authority loans, which are at the rate of £26.000.000 a year for this period, we find that the cost of dividends, remitted profits, undistributed profits and interest on public authority loans amounts to 92 per cent, of the money that we have obtained in new loans in the last five years. It seems to me that this shows high, and increasing dependence upon loans.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lucock). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. DRUMMOND (New England) 19.24]. - I should like to begin my speech to-night by referring to the fact that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), who moved the motion for the second reading of the bill, has to-day, I believe, set a new record in that he has now held the office of Treasurer of the Commonwealth for longer than any of his predecessors. It is the privilege and the duty of the Opposition to differ from the Government, on matters of policy, but despite our differences on such matters I am sure that we all pay tribute to the rugged, uncompromising honesty and the ability of the tuan who now occupies the office of Treasurer. He has qualities which commend him to honorable members on hoth sides of the House. Agreement with mc on that does not commit the members of the Opposition to acceptance of the right honorable gentleman’s policies. I felt that what I have said should be said on this occasion by some one, and T have taken the liberty of saying it.
I have listened to this debate with more than ordinary attention. 1 was impressed by the address given by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), who spoke with, authority. It is always a great privilege to occupy a post where, as it were, one can sit on the top of a mountain and look upon the land beneath. I listened with great interest to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), and also to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). They gave us a mass of figures. Speaking as a member of a committee established by this Parliament, I am sure that if somebody came before that committee and presented to us such a mass of figures we should say, if we wanted to comment upon them intelligently, “ Send us a submission. We shall study it and then we shall be prepared to hear you give evidence on it”. There is an old saw to the effect that you can do anything with figures. One of the most brilliant men ever to be a member of this House once said to me, when Latin was under discussion, “ You can do what you like with figures, but you cannot do what you like with Latin, because that is something that does not permit of liberties “. In saying that, 1 do not intend to reflect upon the members of the Opposition who have produced different sets of figures. Speaking as one who has some knowledge of business in a small way, I. know that sometimes two men can put forward, perfectly honestly, different sets of figures. What we have to decide, as the people who are running this country, is what we shall do with the figures, or in the face of the figures.
Statesmanship is an act of faith. In courts of law, cases are decided on the balance of the evidence presented. In business, accountants prepare figures for the consideration of boards of directors, but, in the final analysis, the decision given is an act of judgment and an act of faith. When the members of a government say, “We believe that if we pursue this policy, ultimately it will prove itself to be sound and for the good of the country they are staking their reputations for managing the affairs of the country on their judgments, sometimes in the face of most unpromising factors. Events alone determine whether their judgment was sound. Let. me say again that statesmanship is, in the fina) analysis, an act of faith, an act of judgment. Again and again we have seen, ai different times, men who have been betrayed by thir own countrymen. I recollect a man in Western Australia who was driven to suicide because he stood by his faith that he could give the dry areas of Western Australia a certain benefit which others said was impossible. He was found dead on the morning that the scheme was to open, and it was proved that the nervous strain had overcome him and led him to take his own life; but history adjudges that he was right in his belief. We meet such instances in the greater affairs of life.
I am not going to enter into the battle of figures with the giants on either side of the House. I shall deal with the purpose of the measure, which is to bring about the greater development of Australia. Yet I may have a passing glance at some of the figures which have been submitted by honorable members. I notice that my friend, the honorable member for Yarra, said something to the effect that between 1949 and 1956 our indebtedness rose by an amount in the vicinity of £750.000.000. [ do not want to quote him wrongly, but I think that that figure is somewhere near the mark. If I recollect aright, n was in that very period, or substantially in that period, that our immigration programme was in full operation. It was between 1949 and 1956 that we brought in about 1,000,000 migrants. It has been estimated that it costs Australia £1,000 to bring in every migrant. That is tha expenditure involved in getting a migrant to this country, from the point at which he is first interviewed until he actually arrives here and takes his place in the Australian economy. One thousand pounds multiplied by 1,000.000 gives a product of £1,000,000,000. It seems to me that we have not come out at all badly.
There is another aspect to this matter. A further point which is raised by the honorable member for Yarra is, I think, worthy of consideration. He said that so far not more than about 10 per cent, or 12 per cent, of the sinews of war have come from the United States. I am not quite sure whether he was referring to direct assistance only or, alternatively, to both direct and indirect assistance; but 1 think I am right in stating that the very origin of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the very purpose for which it was founded, was to remove from debtors, such as ourselves, the necessity to go on to the 0-)en market for finance, because the necessity to do so would probably have meant that we faced such competition for money that w; would not have been able to obtain it on the favorable terms on which we now obtain it. J may be right, or I may be wrong. I admit that 1 have not the knowledge of the honorable gentleman on the right, the honorable member for Wentworth, or of the honorable gentleman on the left, the honorable member for Yarra, on such things; but I have a notion that if you borrow in dollars directly then you have to repay in dollars. The provision of finance through the International Bank is an endeavour to -et over that by enabling us to achieve a muilateral approach to the problem of currency.
The honorable member for Wentworth 1 think it was, raised the point that Australia’s position, if we were no! dealing in sterling, would be rather stronger than it is when we are dealing in sterling. That may be so at present. 1 shall not canvass that matter 10 atn great extent, however, I know that at various times since the end of the war Australian currency has been very much stronger in certain countries than sterling has been. But if we are in a cooperative arrangement with other nations we do not want to be like the small poultry farmer who, because somebody offers him 6d. a dozen more for his eggs at a given time, breaks away from the co-operative body of which he is a member, and sells independently. We have to look at the overall value of Great Britain, and to the fact that we owe our very existence to what Great Britain did for us, and to the free institutions that Great Britain conferred on us. 1 was rather struck by a reference made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), when he was dealing with the measure. He made certain points in what 1 think was intended to be a five-point programme. First he said, “ I do not believe in borrowing overseas “. Well, the proposition resolves itself into this: If you are a young man with a nice property which is aImost completely undeveloped, and which you want to develop to the full, you have to take your courage in both, hands and go to somebody who will lend you money, on that security, for the purpose of developing it.
– Cannot wc do it through the Commonwealth Bank?
– I am sorry, but 1 never hear interjections. The process that I have described is an ordinary process of business. You may have a bright idea anil want to start a factory. You have certain assets which you want to develop, and you seek the assistance of a financial institution for that reason. If. instead of being a person, you are a country with great undeveloped assets, and great and pressing reasons for developing them which have nothing to do with personal glorification or pelf, you seek those who are able to lend you the means to develop your assets. We know perfectly well that today, whatever might have happened in the days far distant, when you borrow you borrow not money but the things that money buys in the country that makes the loan. This legislation states specifically what this particular loan is to be expended on. 1 would say to my honorable friend opposite, the honorable member for Yarra, that if he looks back into history - a subject on which, no doubt, he is far better informed than I am - he will find that the United States, right up to the end of World War I., and, I think, for some time afterwards, was a debtor nation. America, with its tremendous assets, being a country far more richly endowed than Australia is, liquidated its burden of debt by the speedy development of its assets over a long period of years. How, in the name of goodness, can we develop this asset of Australia if we do not seek from those who have then the wherewithal and the means of development? We have done that.
The honorable member for Corangamite or the honorable member for Wannon dealt with the question of the uses to which we could put the finance obtained. I do not want to traverse that matter, but 1 wish to say that if we. are going to develop this country we have to use the same means as America used. If we have a friendly lender we must use the services of that lender to help us with our development. I think it was the honorable member for Melbourne Ports who referred to the Canadian position. I am not as well informed on the subject as he is, but I know that the conclusion that was arrived at by the various sections of the Canadian people who went into this matter was that, on balance, Canada had benefited from the tremendous inflow of capital from the United States, and that they shrank away from any proposal to put a clamp on that which was developing Canada’s assets. I remind the House, in all seriousness, that in Europe even countries which have been hereditary enemies, hitherto bent on destroying one another, have come together to pool their assets and strengthen their economies. I mention that because I think that in this age one must have a wide vision. We have shown it ourselves in the Colombo plan. One must look beyond the mere boundaries between, say. the United States and Canada and, certainly, between the United States and Australia. The resources of the world should be marshalled, not as a means by which the United States can squeeze, say, Australia or Canada; but for the common use and benefit of humanity. Any contrary idea is as out-dated and outrageous as the robber baron approach of simply killing a neighbour and taking away his gold ducats - though such a course of action might have had more validity then than now.
The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) referred to the way in which our war-time economy was conducted. The government of the day, quite rightly, clamped down on the investment of money and thereby not only prevented inflation but also made it extremely easy to get, without excessive interest commitments, the money that it needed for its war loans. I think that such action serves no very good purpose in peace-time, and an economist such as the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), although he may not agree with my philosophy, will know that what I am saying is plain fact. We are living through a period in which we are trying to ensure a reasonable amount of personal freedom of action. One of the prices of that freedom is that we cannot close down on the money market without creating distortions that may outweigh by far the benefit obtained. Even conservative governments in Great Britain have used the weapon of closing the money market to outside investment in order to fill government loans on suitable terms. Indeed, all governments use this device in time of crisis, but I do not think we would be justified in using it at present.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), enumerated several points which he described as vital. He said that external borrowing could be avoided if overseas firms came into the country, bringing their assets with them, and developed factories. A great deal has been done in that regard, but we cannot expect private capital to come in unless we can offer constitutional security, which is available only in the Commonwealth sphere at the present time. The Commonwealth Constitution lays down thai if a property is acquired for the purposes of the Commonwealth, such acquisition must take place on just terms. Unfortunately, the States are not so bound. I do not intend to discuss whether the Commonwealth or a State is justified in acquiring, nationalizing or anything of that kind. In the final analysis that is a matter for the people, through a responsible government. I merely suggest that any one who is invited or encouraged to come here should be assured that if it is necessary in the public interest to take over his property it shall be done on what reasonable men understand as “ just terms “.
I want to refer briefly to the purposes for which this loan is being raised. We have already discussed the raising of money for the purposes of the aviation industry of this country, and I do not propose to traverse that subject further. A year or two ago a well-known Australian arranged for a certain Canadian firm to come here and develop one of our greatest national assets on certain terms. First, the firm would prepare the plan and accept the recognized fee. Secondly, if desired, it would supervise the work, again for a fee. Thirdly, it could carry out the work, bringing with it the whole of the machinery, equipment, employees and houses required. The only call upon the economy of the country would have been for food, services and clothes. Whilst a project handled in this manner would not be as inflationary as would perhaps action in other directions, there would be a call upon our resources for education, health, food and clothing, and to the extent that these might be in short supply there would be a certain inflationary effect. I leave it to my friends, the economists, to correct me if that is not a fair assessment of the position. 1 thoroughly agree that it would have been the right thing to do, but, unfortunately, because of the different view of the State concerned, it was not carried into effect. I think that it would be one of the important things which could be done materially to assist us in handling our own immigration policy and to enable us to absorb more and more people without affecting, in any serious way, our standard of living.
T want to correct one statement that has been made. I am sorry that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) is not here because I would prefer to say this in his presence. He referred to the fact that a certain amount of money was being allocated for the purposes of the railways and for the purchase of diesel-electric locomotives. He said, quite rightly, that they are being constructed in this country. But he overlooked the fact that over £20.000,000 has been allocated for the modernization of railways up to the present time. A large proportion of that money has been used to pay for components for dieselelectric locomotives, not for the locomotives themselves. In other words, as in many other fields, we have to import a substantial quantity of material, partly raw, partly manufactured, and sometimes wholly manufactured, in order to enable us to operate our secondary industries effectively.
In time to come, we shall more and more overcome that disability; but the fact remains that even when we achieve a high state of industrial development, we shall still find that it will pay us to get certain specialized components or specialized machines from outside Australia. That is a very good thing from the world point of view, lt makes for multi-lateral trade between countries. We need to trade with other countries and as long as we have substantially the basis for the development of our own economy, we shall be able to meet a crisis of the kind which we could not meet in the 1930’s because our secondary industries had not developed to the point at which we could cope with many of the troubles which arose. Our position is much better to-day. Subject to what 1 have said, I think that we would not be well advised uneconomically to develop the production of things which are not used in great quantities in Australia.
I want to congratulate the Government in general, and the Treasurer in particular, on the fact that a certain amount of imports, including goods purchased with the sum of 75,000,000 dollars, comprises those things which can develop the industries of the land. We have learned anew, in a dramatic fashion, just what the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has done for the wool industry. The rise in the price of wool has assisted Australia out of what could have been an extremely dangerous position. 1 think the Government is to be commended on its statesmanlike approach to the matter of primary industry, and on its taxing policy and borrowing policy which enables the Government to provide the means to increase production and to get it back by way of increased. receipts from taxation. Therefore. I have much pleasure in supporting the bill and commending it to the House.
.- I am struck by the almost limitless enthusiasm of the Government members who have spoken to-night in support of this measure. I cannot help but contrast their attitude with that which they adopted a few weeks ago when this House was considering the provision of more money for housing. On that occasion, every conceivable argument was brought forward by Government members in an attempt to show that any money that was made available for housing, other than that which had been allocated, would tend to aggravate a condition of inflation. If Government members consider that the injection of additional money into the economy for the purpose of building homes will aggravate inflation, how do they justify increasing our overseas indebtedness by 50,000,000 dollars?
One cannot help but contrast the speech delivered by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) when he introduced this bill with his attitude when he attends a meeting of the Australian Loan Council. When the representatives of the States are attempting to get from the Treasurer additional money to enable them to carry out capita) works, they are told that their works must be financed from Consolidated Revenue and that, as a consequence, the Treasurer will not make any loans available to them for their capital works. Yet he has attempted to justify this additional loan of 50.000,000 dollars. If it was the first dollar loan that this Government had secured, the attempt that has been made to justify the Treasurer’s policy might have been convincing. But this represents the fifth approach that has been made to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Including 9,000,000 dollars that has been secured for Qantas, our overseas debt has been increased by no less than 317,000,000 dollars during this Government’s regime. No Government supporter has yet put before the House a positive statement as to how we are going to earn dollars to repay or reduce our overseas indebtedness.
The only way in which we are paying our way in the dollar area is, as has been proved by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), by borrowing additional dollars to pay back debts that we have already incurred. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) was very optimistic when he said that if the United States of America would only purchase more of our wool our dollar problem would be solved. The problem is not so easy of solution as that prospect would indicate. America itself is in no need of our wool. It was only a few years ago that the Congress itself raised the tariff against the entry of Australian wool into America, and if the increase had become operative our wool would have been excluded from the American market. The tariff imposed by Congress was only reduced as a result of a veto by President Truman.
Knowing the pressure that is exercised in politics in America in relation to wool and knowing that the tariff imposed by Congress on one occasion was reduced only by presidential action, I fail to see how we can increase our dollar earnings from wooL When it is recognized that 70 per cent, of our earnings are derived from the sale of wool and wheat, it will be seen that we have a very limited and narrow field in which to earn dollars. But this Government has gone extensively into the dollar area and committed us to a debt which, 1 believe, we will not be able to pay. It has adopted the principle of borrowing further dollars te repay those that it borrowed previously. If that is sound finance, we have no worthwhile prospects.
I should like to contrast the present Government’s approach to our sterling indebtedness with that of the Labour Government. It is perfectly true that, during World War II., we were able to reduce our overseas indebtedness. We should have reduced it even further if Australia’s labour leaders at the time had not heeded the pleas of the United Kingdom authorises. I think the Chifley Government made available to the United Kingdom in grants no less than £50,000,000. It was suggested, during the term of the Chifley Government, that, since our overseas balances were so favorable, we might reduce our sterling indebtedness, but the United Kingdom Government asked Australia instead to make straight-out grants to it, and the Chifley Government agreed. That is in sharp contrast to the present Government’s attitude. I cannot recall that, in its seven years in office, it has once done anything comparable to the acts of the Chifley Government between 1946 and 1949 in response to the requests made by the United Kingdom Government. I do noi think that the United Kingdom’s financial problems have eased greatly since 1949. Indeed, the Mother Country now faces a number of problems with which it was no confronted then. It is faced with the problem of disappear^ markets and the loss of overseas investments. If the Chil1e Government could assist the United Kin- om just after we had emerged from a war, why has this Government not been able to afford help in the favorable years that it has experienced?
The introduction of overseas capital into A ustralia has brought considerable problems, notwithstanding the enthusiastic support of this Government and its adherents. lt appears to me that the Government’s policy is “ Boom or bust “. The capital being obtained from overseas is not being employed selectively, but is being allowed to gravitate where it will. In fact, one-third of the capital that has entered this country from Canada, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom has found its way into the manufacturing field. This Government, like any other, could easily face a recession. If one occurs, the policy of the present Government will accentuate its severity. We shall most certainly not escape it, but shall have to face it as best we can. Our troubes in 1930 were aggravated by our overseas indebtedness. We could not escape the impact of the depression, because it was world-wide, and our internal difficulties were intensified by the necessity to meet interest and other payments on our overseas capital indebtedness. The policy of the present Government is developing for Australia a problem that must be faced sooner or later. lt is not sufficient merely to introduce fresh overseas capital into the country. Indeed, one of the greatest difficulties that we have at present is the result of the uncontrolled influx of capital in the early days of development. A case in point is the capital indebtedness of the New South Wales railways, which pay interest charges alone amounting to £6,000,000 a year. The transport system of New South Wales is incurring a total annual loss of approximately that amount. The heavy financial burden represented by the interest paid by the New South Wales railways is a direct result of the influx of overseas capital that took place many years ago. It is frequently argued that the introduction of overseas capital will, of necessity, promote development and secure Australia’s future, but the history of the developmental activities of the States does not bear out this assertion.
During the period from 1947 to 1954, private overseas investment in commercial enterprises in Australia increased by approximately 156 per cent., from about £244,000,000 to about £627,000,000. An increasing proportion of foreign investment in the private field has come from the United States and Canada. In 1 947, investment attributable to these two countries represented 16.2 per cent, of company investment in Australia. In 1954, it represented 21.4 per cent, of the total, in the same period, United Kingdom investment in Australian companies increased from £178,000,000 to £437,000,000, but the United Kingdom share of the total declined from 73 per cent, to 69 per cent, lt is interesting to note that, in the period between 1947 and 1954, £381,000,000 of private investment, as distinct from government loans, came from overseas - £259,000,000, or 68 per cent, from the United Kingdom; £94,000,000, or 25 pel cent., from Canada and the United States: and £28,000,000, or 7 per cent., from other countries. Dollar investment in Australia has increased considerably in recent years. This increase is due, in some measure, to the practice of ploughing back into industries the profits that they have earned. It is interesting to note how the profits of American-owned companies in Australia have increased. During the period between 1948 and 1951, the average annual profits of such companies increased from approximately £4,000.000 to approximately £13,000,000.
Overseas investment in Australia has created a number of difficulties, particularly by intensifying the problem of repayments. Although, temporarily, we have gained some benefit from dollar investment in this country, we are sometimes reminded that the policy of ploughing back profits into industry means that if ever the American investors wanted to take their profits out of Australia, our entire dollar earnings would be absorbed in paying interest and dividends. This bill will increase our dollar indebtedness and our general overseas indebtedness. Under the administration of this Government, the national debt for each head of the population has increased by one-third. Regardless of what Government supporters say, this injection of additional capital into the economy will have inflationary effects. I referred, earlier, to the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that the provision of additional money for housing would increase inflationary pressures, and to his refusal to increase housing funds. It is interesting to note that he announced in the press the very next day that the Government proposed to spend an additional £50.000,000 in purchasing more modern aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force. Nobody opposes the modernizing of our armed forces, but it is very unconvincing when having listened to the Prime Minister say in this House one night that no more money could be made available for housing one picks up the newspapers on the following morning and reads that an additional £50,000,000 has been made available for some other purpose.
I submit that this bill is of its very character inflationary. This country is being committed to something which it will never be able to repay. The bill does not secure the future development of this country. The truth is that at the present time we are borrowing to repay past loans. 1 have already referred to the loans that were secured at the beginning of this century, including those obtained by the States for their own development. In those days, the railways were just as important as any other form of transport is to-day. As a result of capital indebtedness the State railways are being run at a loss.
This Government must not only justify its proposed expenditure of dollars; it must also put forward some convincing argument about how we can earn dollars to repay the loan. I have already pointed out that wool and wheat account for 70 per cent. of our earnings overseas and that the Americans need not buy our wool. The only chance we have of getting dollars at the moment is for the Americans to purchase our wool in quantity. The tendency in America is against purchases of Australian wool because the Americans have a problem of their own and they will not permit Australian wool to enter the American market to the detriment of the local product. Therefore, I submit that something more is required than the limitless enthusiasm that Government members have displayed in supporting this bill. One cannot help but contrast their attitude on this occasion with their attitude a few weeks ago when they supported the Prime Minister’s statement that no more money could be made available for housing.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Joske) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
-I desire to take this opportunity to correct a misstatement by the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) recently in this House which, in my opinion, I consider was intended as a reflection upon myself. For the sake of the accuracy of the record I shall quote the section of the honorable member’s speech in which 1 claim an attempt was made to reflect upon me. The honorable member was talking about the preparedness for which the present Government parties had been responsible, or for which he claimed they had been responsible at the outbreak of the last war, andI interjected, according to the record, and said -
Rubbish. The honorable member does not know what he is talking about.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! I think the honorable member is reviving a debate.
– No, I am merely on the point where I was misrepresented; no more.
– You are referring to “ Hansard “.
– And other members in this House have referred to it for the sake of the accuracy of the record. I have heard it done repeatedly.
– The position is that the honorable member is reviving a debate and he cannot continue on that line.
– I am not reviving a debate.
– I rule that you are.
– Very well, I will not use “ Hansard “. I will say what I remember the honorable member saying.
– Order! The honorable member will be courteous to the Chair. Any reference to the debate will be out of order.
– If I cannot refer to the debate, I will refer to what the honorable member said reflecting on myself. When I questioned his statement about the state of preparedness - if it could be called such - when the Labour government took over in October, 1941, the honorable member for Lyne said -
I suppose the honorable member for East Sydney has only flown around in an aeroplane in Australia.
Then he said that he had participated in the Empire air training scheme, which had been commenced some years before the Labour government took office, and he went on to say further that he was overseas training under the Empire air training scheme when the Labour government came into office. In actual fact the honorable member was not overseas at all when the Labour government came to office. I would expect an honorable member who is a clergyman, to be much more accurate in his detail. It may be that he was only mistaken in regard to the period, but one would expect that, before making such a statement to this House the honorable member would have made sure of his facts. Here is what is says about the honorable member in the “ Parliamentary Handbook “. showing that he was actually in Australia when the Labour government came to office in October, 1941 -
Enlisted in Royal Australian Air Force, 19th July, 1941, as Air Crew, Empire Air Training Scheme. Trained in Rhodesia. Embarked 2nd November. 1941.
The Labour government came to office in October, 1941. So it was a month after Labour came to office that the honorable member left this country. He embarked, as I repeat, on the 2nd November, 1941. The handbook continues -
Disembarked, Melbourne, 18th April, 1942. Leading Aircraftsman. Trained as pilot. Discharged, medically unfit, 25th August, 1942.
I am not reflecting on the honorable member’s war service or activities. It has never been my practice to do so, but I certainly believe that an honorable member should be more accurate in his information before reflecting upon any other honorable member in this chamber. I have nothing more to say on this matter because I think I have made it perfectly clear that he was completely at fault in the statement he made. It was not in accordance with fact.
There is another matter to which I desire to refer, because I want to relieve the anxiety of this Government, which is always proclaiming its work on behalf of exservicemen. Honorable members will recollect that on a number of occasions 1 have raised in this House the case of a Mr. Laurence Atkins, who was an inmate of the Royal Ryde Home. Both his legs were crippled and his hands had become calcified. He was totally blind. Both eyes had been removed as they had been affected by his condition of osteo-arthritis This Government, which is always talking about the percentage of ex-servicemen amongst its supporters was paying him a 25 per cent, pension, namely, £1 3s. 9d. a week. 1 raised this matter continually in the House, hoping that the Government would do something to relieve the lot of this unfortunate man. 1 well recollect one honorable member saying that 1 had rather exaggerated the position. Well. I am now able to tell the Government that it need not worry any further about this unfortunate ex-serviceman because shortly after I last spoke about him he passed away. I think honorable members opposite will remember my submission that because of this man’s condition, he could not possibly live much longer and that the Government should display some generosity towards him and give him a decent pension so that at least he could return home and end his days with his aged parents.
Following his death I received a letter from his mother forwarding a letter left bv her son. I replied to Mrs. Atkins, as 1 felt very keenly about this matter which 1 had raised in the House on a number of occasions. I shall not read the whole of the letter that 1 received from the deceased ex-serviceman, but shall outline how he felt about the way in which the Government had handled his case. He said, in the letter I received after his death -
He went on to say. referring to one occasion when he was before the tribunal -
I replied to the mother as follows: -
Dear Mrs. Atkins,
Many thanks for forwarding to me a letter found among the papers of your late son. Laurence, and which as you state he obviously intended sending to me had death not intervened.
I was not aware that his Dad had also passed away and I was indeed sorry to receive this news. lt had not been my privilege to know your son for such a long time, but from the opinion I formed of his sterling qualities, I was not surprised to receive your description of him as wing a good son.
I know it will be some consolation to you o know that he was greatly respected by all who knew him for his great courage in maintaining his fight for justice particularly when he was <o seriously handicapped.
As you say, it is now too late to do anythting <o assist Laurie on this earth for his sufferings nave mercifully ended, but his example and great struggle for what he knew to be right, I feel sure will materially assist others who may be confronted with a somewhat similar problem.
That correctly sums up the situation because it is true that this unfortunate exserviceman cannot benefit as the result of any action that this Government may now take, unless it feels disposed to give some financial assistance to his aged and ailing mother. But judging by past experience of its handling of these cases, we could dot expect that to happen. Therefore, I say that Labour members should continue to apply pressure to this Government to get it to administer the Repatriation Act in the spirit in which the Labour government intended it to be administered when we inserted in the act a few years ago a provision that the onus of proof must be upon the department and the Government before an application is dismissed.
What were the actual facts in this matter? Honorable members will recall that it was argued that some osteoarthritis had been in existence prior to the man’s enlistment. But he was accepted. Although some military doctors had recommended his discharge, the authorities at the time would not discharge him from the Army. They permitted him to continue to serve and he Was in hospital after hospital. As a result of his service in the Pacific area under very adverse conditions, it is quite obvious that his condition of osteoarthritis, if it existed in any form prior to his enlistment, had been seriously aggravated by his service.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I do not propose to canvass the subjects covered by the honorable member for East Sydney. (Mr. Ward) this evening, save to express my astonishment at this rather engaging characteristic that he has now revealed - sensitivity. I should have thought that he would make his charges against the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) in that honorable member’s presence. It is a great pity that he did not at least have the courtesy to inform the honorable member for Lyne that he proposed to imply and, indeed, make the charge this evening that the honorable member for Lyne had reflected upon him.
The matter that I want to refer to this evening is something which, happily, has commanded the generous support of all members in this House - the Commonwealth scholarship scheme. Since the introduction of the scheme some years ago, many thousands of young people throughout Australia have benefited considerably from it, and many thousands of families have been grateful for its existence. But this evening I want to bare the fact that the continuation of the scheme in Queensland is in serious jeopardy. Last year, some 436 students were awarded a Commonwealth scholarship in Queensland, making a total of some 1.252 current at the moment.
Honorable gentlemen may ask why the scheme in Queensland faces jeopardy. Recently, the Queensland Government introduced legislation radically altering the structure of administration within the Queensland University. In a recent bill, it has provided for the establishment of an appeals board covering promotions and applications for employment on the staff of the university. The appeals board works in a curious fashion, but a fashion that is by no means curious to people familiar with the legislation of Queensland. Assuming that an individual applies for a job with the Queensland University, either on a professorial level or on a lecturer level, and he is unsuccessful, as the disgruntled appellant he has the right to nominate an individual to an appeals board. The Senate of the university also nominates a person to that board, and the Government nominates a person. Quite plainly, the votes of the representative of the appellant and the representative of the Senate will cancel one another, and the Government will be put in a position where it will vitually say who will be appointed to various positions and who will receive promotion. The proposal is unique. No other university in the western wo-ld has quite S ‘ch a cu-ious organization and such an odd mechanism within its control.
– It was practised by the Nazis.
– Precisely. As my honorable friend reminds me, in various iron curtain countries there is direct government control of the administrative affairs of the universities. The Queensland proposal, I believe, must be a challenge to every right-thinking person in this House. It is reducing the university Senate to a degree of complete servility, lt is taking -out of the hands of the university the control of its own domestic affairs. As a further example of the mischievousness of the legislation, I point out to the House that the Senate appoints a vice-chancellor but the appointment is subject to ratification bv the Minister. That is further evidence thai the Queensland Government apparently is quae determined to control all the affairs within the Queensland University.
I submit that the continuation of the Commonwealth scholarship scheme under such conditions is virtually impossible. 1 believe that the scheme was designed to give to students scholarships tenable at a university, not scholarships tenable at what is virtually a government department. The sad truth of the matter, of course, is that the great majority of the members of the Queensland Government appear to be quite dl. They seem to be in a state of advanced megalomania. They are consumed with the idea that they must have total power over every aspect of community life. I believe that that condition as it relates to the Commonwealth scholarship scheme unveils a very serious, a very dangerous and a very challenging situation. It is high time that some sunny was restored to the members of the Queensland Government, and I believe that they are in need of shock treatment.
I urge the Government to consider seriously the effect of the Queensland legislation on the Commonwealth scholarship scheme. I also suggest that the Govern- men. give every possible consideration to securing throughout the Commonwealth a unilateral agreement to prevent government control of the domestic affairs of a university.
M”. HAMILTON (Canning) [10.30]. - I should like to take up the cudgels for a few moments on behalf of my colleague, the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), and answer the attack that was made upon him to-night by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward).
– Why has he left th<; chamber again?
– I am not worried about why he has left the chamber. 1 remember that last evening he referred to the Empire air training scheme, with which 1 had some association. I had the job of training quite a number of aircrew boys and teaching them how to carry out their jobs overseas. Because the honorable member for Lyne made a statement last evening to the effect that he was overseas when the Labour government came to power, the honorable member for East Sydney has seen fit io come here to-night and try to besmirch him.
– Nothing of the sort!
– I want to tell the honorable member for East Sydney, and any of his colleagues, through you, Mr. Speaker, that to my knowledge the honorable member for Lyne offered his services in 1940. but because of the demands on the training staff of the Empire air training scheme he was not called up until June of 1941.
– When was the honorable member for East Sydney called up?
– I shall come to that. Because th? call-up was rather sudden. the honorable member for Lyne was not ready to finalize his business affairs and go into camp, and he therefore did not not go in until July of 1941.
– Who told the honorable member that?
– I know the facts. He went overseas in October of the same year, He was sent to South Africa, where some of our trainees had to go because’ we did no. have full training fac liies in this country at the time. He was invalided home fro-n there in 1942. If it had been any other honorable member of this Parliament than the honorable member for East Sydney who made this attack on a man who offered his service to his country 1 may not have replied to it, b A, as everybody knows, from the very day that war was declared, the honorable member for East Sydney decried every move made by this country to defend itself. He has continued ever since then to criticize Australia’s defence measures. Any person who comes into this Parliament and criticizes a man who offered his services to his country is not, in my opinion, fit to be here. Those of us who had the opportunity to serve our country are never critical of any one who did not serve, because we are always a little doubtful as to the cause of such a man not entering or being accepted into the services. But, in view of the well-known record of the honorable member for East Sydney, I believe it is disgraceful that he should attack the honorable member for Lyne in the way that he has done to-night.
.- -I wish to refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton). The facts are these: The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) believed, rightly or wrongly, that the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) last night was seeking to create the impression, if not directly saying so, that he was a hero who had served his country overseas, and that the honorable member for East Sydney was not of the same courageous calibre, lt is quite true that the honorable member for East Sydney did not serve as a soldier in the war. Unfortunately, through no fault of his own, the honorable member for Lyne did not serve in the war either. Nor was it the fault of the honorable member for East Sydney that he did not serve in the war. If I liked to stir this matter up sufficiently I could point some bones at a lot of people on both sides of this chamber who were as eligible for active service as was the honorable member for East Sydney.
The honorable member for East Sydney has never, to my knowledge, cast aspersions on, or made disparaging remarks about, any man who served his country in World War II. - and I have been in this House as long as most honorable members. The honorable member for East Sydney rendered very distinguished service to this country during the war as a member of the Cabinet that administered the war-time affairs of Australia. If it is considered that the honorable member for East Sydney has cast aspersions on the honorable member for Lyne, why does not the honorable member for Lyne come in here and defend himself? It is well known that almost immediately after the honorable member for East Sydney had resumed his seat the honorable member for Lyne was hiding behind the curtain at the door of this chamber. Why did he not come in and himself attack the honorable member for East Sydney, or, alternatively, if he had wronged the honorable member for East Sydney by implying that he was much more courageous than the honorable member for East Sydney, why did he not come in and either confirm or deny that he intended to create such an impression? That is where we see the indicator of courage.
.- I wish to join with my friend, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) in expressing alarm and concern at the nature of the clause that he referred to in a bill that was passed by the Queensland Parliament a few days ago. The clause is known as the appeals board clause of the Universities Act Management Bill. I share my colleague’s alarm at the threat in this clause to the Commonwealth scholarship scheme. As he pointed out, there are some 1,250 students affected by this legislation under the Commonwealth scholarship scheme. This is a matter that far transcends State boundaries, and one which must give us cause for concern on a national basis. I believe that we as a government, and, I trust, as a parliament, hope that the Commonwealth scholarship scheme will flourish and expand. We do not want to see it wither away and die, but that is what I say is likely to happen if this bill receives the Royal assent and becomes law.
The present arrangement is working perfectly satisfactorily from the point of view of those most concerned with the Conmonwealth scholarship scheme. We are completely satisfied with the present system under which appointments to the university staff are made by a body of 27 university senators, after very careful investigation of each of the applicants. As my colleague, the honorable member for Moreton, has pointed out, the appeals board which it is proposed will deal with questions of appointments, punishments and dismissals, will consist of three persons, one representing the university senate, one representing the appellant and the third being a government nominee. As the honorable member rightly pointed out, the votes of the first two representatives will almost certainly cancel one another, leaving the final decision in the hands of the government nominee. There may or may not be a danger in this. 1 believe that there is. I believe that the new arrangement contains possible political implications, and that it will possibly result in Government interference in university matters, necessarily affecting adversely those students under the Commonwealth scholarship scheme about whom we are concerned. I see in this clause a threat not only to the maintenance of the standards of the university and of our students and the work that they are going to do when they pass through the university, but also to the standards of the professions that these students will embrace. I see also a threat even to freedom of expression by these students while they are at the university. I see also a threat to freedom of expression by members of the staff of the university - and this must necessarily affect the students too. If the junior members of the university staff are afraid to express their views because of possible political implications, then undoubtedly they are not going to be the type of lecturers or professors which the complete removal from government control would help them to be.
I believe, sir, that we in this National Parliament must concern ourselves with maintaining the highest possible standards in our universities, because we are directly concerned under this Commonwealth scholarship scheme. 1 believe that it is right that we should have something to say about this matter in the National Parliament. It has been pointed out by one of the professors concerned, and I think that the point was mentioned by my colleague, that the proposed board of appeal has no counterpart in any other part of the freethinking world. In no other free-thinking university is there such an appeal board, and I feel, as the honorable member for Moreton does, that this constitutes a grave threat not only to the standards of our university, but, as I say, to the development of this great democratic institution, and through that, it may possibly harmfully affect the Commonwealth scholarship scheme and the students who are being trained under it.
.- The only thing I want to say, at the moment, Mr. Speaker, is that some little while ago I was informed that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) was addressing the House. 1 was not in the chamber to hear what the honorable member said, and therefore, as I do not know what he said, I feel that it would be unwise for me to make any remarks at this stage. I shall read the “ Hansard “ report of his remarks and, at the appropriate lime to-morrow, I shall make my reply.
.- The remarks that I propose to make, Mr. Speaker, directly concern you as chairman of a committee of the Parliament, over which you preside, and in your capacity as controller of the operations of the House, and 1 think they also concern every honorable member. This matter is not in any sense of a party political nature. I understand, sir, that you, as chairman of the committee to which I have referred, with your colleagues in another place, intend to expend certain sums of money to remedy a leak in this building.
– A leak to the press?
– A leak in the roof of the building. Naturally, I do not refer to leaks from Labour caucus meetings, because it seems to be “ open house “ so far as they are concerned now, and it is possible for outsiders to know everything that happens there.
I admit that it is necessary to repair the defects in the roof of this building which result in leaks every time that rain falls, but I understand that a large sum is to be expended, although I do not know the exact figure. I have found from experience when temporarily occupying your position, sir. that every time there is an important debate in this House, scores of visitors are unable to be accommodated. My point is that 1 think you should take into consideration the urgent necessity to extend the galleries of this chamber so that visitors from other States, and even from the National Capital, who come here to hear the debates may find accommodation. 1 have found that those who are acquainted with the procedures of the Parliament, such as secretaries and others who do their work in this building, get priority of place because they know the run of things. They seem to be able to get their friends in. I am not objecting to that, but I do not think it is right that those who come from far and near and who do not know the procedures have not the semblance of a chance of getting into this place. I think that the galleries should be extended io make more accommodation for folk who visit the National Capital and the Parliament and who have a perfect right, as citizens of Australia, to hear the debates.
– 1 do not speak to-night in any contentious sense, because 1 feel that the matter that has been raised by the honorable members for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and Ryan (Mr. Drury) is of such importance to education and to the future of Australia that we should say something about it here. 1 should attack any government which brought down a proposal to interfere with the old-established freedoms of universities, and I should counsel the exercise of much greater wisdom and reflection before that as done. If I understand the position aright, what is proposed, sir, is very closely akin to what 1 found in Germany in 1936 under the Nazi regime, where the professors had to bow to the dictates of the ruling junta or lose their jobs, where the students who were loyal to the traditions of the universities were hounded out, and where the free and liberal sections of the universities were crushed, just as I understand they are trampled and crushed behind the >o-called iron curtain to-day.
We are Australians and we have a tradition, in respect of universities and their freedoms, which reaches far back into the past. I know that governments, sometimes from my own side of the House, have been rather annoyed with stands taken by university men. In some instances, perhaps, such a stand may not have been wise, and sometimes it may not have been within the professional limits of objectivity of approach to a particular subject, but that is one of the things inherent in a selfgoverning institution. Universities have a peculiar function to discharge in every community. That function is for their professors and students, as far as it is humanly possible, to approach every question from an objective point of view and to try, without bias, to arrive at the truth. If we have made any progress in this Western world, it has been because men have had courage to apply that principle. I hope that, so far as it is possible, every member of this Parliament will counsel those who appear to breach this tradition, and to breach the foundations of it, to think once again before they move finally.
.- I wish to support the remarks that have been made by the honorable members for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and Ryan (Mr. Drury) in relation to this recent amendment of Queensland legislation to provide for the appointment of an appeals board in respect of appointments to the University of Queensland. I think the House should be told why that has been done. It appears that a person who had the ear of some members of the Labour party and who had some influence with the Queensland Labour Government applied unsuccessfully for a position in the Queensland University. Then, because the man had influence, the State Government brought down this legislation.
It is very similar to the legislation that was brought down by that government to regulate the licensing of club premises in Queensland. It so happened that one person was nominated by the Premier of Queensland for membership of one club and that another person, very prominent in the Queensland Labour party, was nominated for membership of another club, but each was rejected by the members of the club concerned as a person whom the members generally, or a percentage of them, regarded as being unsuitable for membership. As a result, the Queensland Labour Government brought down legislation which contained almost prohibitive provisions concerning the number of members necessary for a club to obtain a liquor licence. Those are two illustrations of the kind of influence that some individuals have with a government that has been in power for so long and that has abused its power so much. I believe that the establishment of an appeals board for the Queensland University is nothing but an act of extreme vindictiveness on the part of the Queensland Government.
The Commonwealth has an interest in the universities of this country in that it provides them with financial assistance. Assistance is given under the Commonwealth scholarships scheme and through tax reimbursements. We must also have regard to the fact that only a short time n<*o the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) stated that he had appointed a commission to investigate the present and future financial circumstances of the universities. So I think it is open to this Parliament to consider the kind of legislation that was passed so recently by the Queensland Parliament.
The House has been told already of the composition of the appeals board, but T think it justifies repetition. There are to be three members, one to represent the Senate of the University and another to represent the appellant - that is, an applicant who has not been successful in obtaining an appointment. It can be assumed that in many cases the votes of those two members will cancel out. The third member, the chairman, will be a senior public servant appointed by the Queensland Government. What an invidious position for a public servant! He may be called upon to arbitrate on the appointment of a person to a professorship, a lectureship or another position in the university. He will have no idea of the requirements of the position, or qualifications of the person who has lodged the appeal to fill it, yet he will be called upon to adjudicate on the decision of the Senate of the university, on the one hand, and on the person who is aggrieved, on the other hand.
In those circumstances, what attitude will be adopted by people overseas and by people in this country who are qualified for appointment to positions in the Queensland University? I say quite definitely that no such person will resign from the position which he now occupies to take up a position in the Queensland University when an unsuccessful applicant can lodge an objection and. if the objection succeeds, the person originally appointed will be removed from his post and, having resigned the post which he occupied previously at another university or institution, he will be compelled to look for another.
What I am saying is not something drawn frommyimagination. Let me quote the wordsused by Dr. John Tyrer. the Pro- fessor of Medicine at the Queensland Uni- versity. in a letter which he wrote to the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “ and which was publishedon 2nd April - only vesterday. Inhisletter, he said -
Hadtheuniveristy Appeals Board clause been lawwhen applications for the ChairofMedicine inQueensland were called, I would not have applied.
I think that is the attitude of many people in the university. I believe that many people who might otherwise have applied for positions in the university will not. in fact apply. As the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) points out to me, persons with high qualifications certainly would not willingly place themselves in the position that could arise under this kind of legislation.
The Queensland Minister for Public Instruction, endeavouring to justify the action of the State Government, said in a broadcast made last week-end that there should always be provision for appeals. No statement by a member of the Queensland Government could have been more ludicrous than that. At this moment, probably the Queensland Parliament is debating a bill which will do away with one-brand petrol stations in that State.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– That is the view of the members of the Opposition. I point out that that bill makes no provision for a right of appeal. I point out also that there is no right of appeal from the decisions of the authority set up by the Queensland Government which gave rise to the petrol dispute of recent times. I refer, of course, to the price-fixing authority in that State. One man has the power to determine prices, and there is no right of appeal from his decisions. Yet we had that nonsense last weekend from the Queensland Minister for Public Instruction about a right of appeal for a person whose application for appointment to a university post is rejected.
The Premier of Queensland has said that his government is entitled to do this because it provides 54 per cent. of the finance of the Queensland University. Does he realize that the Commonwealth Government provides 55 per cent. or 60 per cent. of the finances of the Queensland Government? If we applied that process of reasoning, we should have control of what is done administratively or legislatively by the Queensland Government. I believe that this legislation is nothing more than democratic socialism at work. However, from one point of view, it is a good thing.
– I rise to order. I think that honorable members on this side of the House have been very patient. You are well aware, Mr. Speaker, first, that the actions of a sovereign State cannot be discussed in this House with any effectiveness, anu secondly, that there is an item on the notice-paper concerning university grunts. The honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) dealt with university grants and then digressed to discuss petrol stations. I base my point of order on those two grounds.
– Order! The honorable member for Petrie must confine his remarks to the question of scholarships. He was off the beam when he dealt with petrol stations, but he dropped that subject before I could call him to order. He will be in order provided he confines his remarks to (scholarships and does not anticipate the debate on any other item on the noticepaper.
– I am nearly at the end of my remarks. When 1 was interrupted by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) I was saying that, from one point of view, it is not a bad thing that the Labour government of one of the States bad shown the people of that State what democratic socialism really means when it comes to legislation. In conclusion, I say that I believe that the Commonwealth Government will be entitled to take this kind of action into consideration when it is determining its own actions for the future.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- There was. of course, a time in the history of this country when there were no such things as rights of appeal in our public services and in our departments of education. Rights of appeal were brought into being in ‘he various public services, and in the education sphere outside the universities, in relation to appointments to positions, and everybody agreed that it was quite right that such rights of appeal should exist. I do not know much about the Queensland legislation.
– Then why are you talking about it.
– That is all right. I know enough of the general principle to point out that the view being enunciated by honorable members opposite is contrary to every ethic of democracy, and contrary to the best interests of education in this country.
– “ Nonsense “, the honorable member says. Why should there he a university senate whose decisions are not subject to appeal?
– Why should there be a university al all?
– Our friend, the Minister for Social Services, asks why there should be a university. 1 agree that there should be a university, but I believe that the prejudices that are inherent in honorable gentlemen opposite also exist in members oi a university senate. I believe that the possession by members of a university senate of certain academic degrees does not render their verdicts unchallengable. I believe that education in universities, because of the power of some particular individual to invite this or that person to occupy a position in the university, has not been conducive to democratic education in this country. Of course, the object of this debate is merely to attack the Queensland Government, when that Government, which has at its disposal all the facts in connexion with the issue, is not in a position to answer.
– The honorable member ls not talking about the Public Service.
– I am certainly not talking about the Public Service.
– Order! I ask honorable gentlemen on my right to cease interjecting, and 1 ask the honorable member for Scullin to direct his remarks to the Chair.
– As I pointed out before, the position in the Public Service at one time was that there was no right of appeal. The introduction of the right of appeal destroyed nepotism and favoritism in the Public Service, which were to the detriment of the people, of good government and the effective and efficient administration of government in this country. Who is there to-day who says that there are some people whose edict shall not be subject to appeal? 1 say that, after all. the Queensland Government has had reason for the introduction of the legislation referred to. and it is ali eyewash for anybody to propound, as a general principle, as has been propounded here, that a practice which is applicable in the departments of education of every State, and in the Commonwealth Public Service and the Public Service of every State should not be applicable to a university.
In reality, of course, the arguments advanced to-night against appeals from the decision of the Senate of the University of Queensland are the arguments that were advanced in every department of education throughout Australia against appeals from the decisions of directors of education in relation to appointments. One argument was, “ It is impossible to have the best educational system in this country if our verdicts as to who is to occupy A, B, C, D and E positions in the educational establishments of this State are to be challenged “. They have been challenged. In many cases they have been upset, often to the advantage of education throughout this country. Because of that, the application of the same principle to a university, despite the fact that universities and those who control them wish to segregate themselves behind some kind of iron curtain, is sound.
Mr. Cleaver interjecting,
– Order! The honorable member for Swan will remain silent.
– I submit that I have completely destroyed the arguments advanced by the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) on this subject.
.- I feel, after Us ten ing to the speech of the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) that there are a few things I ought to say in this debate, because a great many people must be appalled at the legislation recently passed by the Queensland Parliament with regard to the University of Queensland. Appointments to the staff of a university are not, I think, in the same category as many other appointments. After all, the dominant factor in the selection of persons for appointment to a university staff is the need to secure people of the highest qualifications, and in most universities a very careful process of selection is carried out, chiefly, 1 think, by the professorial board of the university, and the appointments are finally made by the Senate, lt is not merely a question of casually calling for applications. Quite often, if the position to be filled is an important one, efforts will be made to secure the appointment of some very prominent person from another institution, either overseas or within this country. Highly confidential reports on the applicants, or those sought for the position, are secured from all sorts of people in prominent positions, and the net result of this is to secure for a university a staff of high quality. If this whole process, which has been built up as a tradition and a highly effective method of appointing skilled and qualified people to university staffs all over the British world, is disturbed, the only result on an Australian university which has given every promise of being one of the foremost universities in the Commonwealth must inevitably be to destroy the level of efficiency of the stall and to destroy the confidence of the Australian people in the qualifications and standing of that university. It is a most melancholy thing to think that, for the sake of some doctrinaire principle, this normal process, whereby highly qualified people can be attracted to the staff of the University of Queensland for the benefit of learning and education in that State, is to be overthrown. I say, quite plainly, that if this kind of thing is to persist, there will not be applications from men of quality and standing for appointments to the staff of the University of Queensland. This is borne out by the violent reaction which this legislation has caused in Queensland.
The Senate of the University of Queensland is largely, I may say, a governmentappointed senate, but 1 understand that not only the senate, but also the staff and the student body are virtually unanimous in their opposition to the legislation. More than that, may I say in conclusion that it is quite apparent that the Labour party in Queensland is itself bitterly divided over this matter, and that there have been quite violent attacks on the State Labour Government by prominent members of the Labour movement in Queensland for pursuing this course of action, which can only result in the destruction of the standards of a fine university.
.- The position of the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) in respect of this controversy is understandable because, after all, he belongs to a profession which, not so many years ago, denied the people of Australia any right of appeal. His own profession has, after all, gone as far as to defy to the last ditch the will of the people of Australia, as expressed in the referendum on social services. I think that what the people of Queensland and Liberal members who sit behind this Government ought to turn their minds to is the defiance of the Queensland Government by monopoly capitalists. Too many people in Queensland and the Liberal members of this Parliament failed in their duty to stand off these people.
It is not so long ago that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) came into this House and introduced legislation to force workers to stay on work that was in the public interest; but when the capitalist oil monopolies use the power of their resources against the people of Queensland, when they refuse to distribute standard petrol in Queensland at the price fixed by the Queensland Government, apparently that is a different story. It is all very well for the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) to try to be subtle, and to come here talking of principles. His Government is falling down on its job when it fails to offer the people justice. On this occasion the petrol companies-
– Order! Any reference to that matter is out of order.
– Can I not speak on the adjournment about the petrol position in Queensland? We have seen the mobilization of the great capitalist combines against the government. We have seen them meet in Sydney to examine what they can do. We see before us a government composed of members, allegedly Liberal in persuasion, who are doing nothing about the matter. The people of Australia are being held to ransom by these combines, from whose decision there is no appeal. They are not in the public eye. No one knows who makes their decisions and while honorable members opposite stand idly by, it is folly and hypocrisy for them to talk about the actions of any other government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
t asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The Attorney-General has supplied the following answer to the honorable member’s questions: -
No part of the question asked by the honorable member can be answered without going into questions of law. It is not the practice to deal with matters of law in reply to questions.
t asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
What facilities are available to assist a person of limited means to take legal action against War Service Homes Division where the person considers that a breach of contract has occurred?
– The Attorney-General has supplied the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
There is no specific provision in any Commonwealth law for legal aid for a person merely because that person wishes to sue the Director of War Service Homes in respect of a matter arising out of a contract between him and the Director. If a person contemplating litigation is an exserviceman or dependant of an ex-serviceman he may obtain advice from the Commonwealth Legal Service Bureau and the bureau will, if he so wishes, present his case to the Director. However, the bureau will not ordinarily, in such a case, conduct litigation as his solicitor. Under the High Court Rules a person suing in the original jurisdiction of the High Court may apply under Order 16, Part III. of the Rules for leave to sue as a poor person if he can otherwise satisfy the requirements of that part. Where the intending litigant elects to sue the Director in the Supreme Court of a State he will be entitled to the legal assistance provided by that State on the same condition as any other litigant in that court. The circumstance that he is suing the Commonwealth or an instrumentality of the Commonwealt h will not affect whatever entitlement he has as a person of a particular class under the State law.
Deputation on Housing.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Mental Illness in Immigrants.
d asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The State authorities concerned are primarily responsible for maintaining records of the incidence of mental illness in the Australian community, whether native-born or of migrant origin. The Commonwealth authorities have an interest in the question however, not only from the viewpoint of national health but also, in the case of migrants, from the aspect of the requirements of the Immigration Act. There is, therefore, a working arrangement whereby the Commonwealth Department of Health receives certain statistics from the States relating to admission of migrants to mental hospitals. These returns, however, are not properly comparable since there are significant variations in the method of recording in the various States. For example, some States - (a) do not distinguish between persons “admitted” and persons “ committed “; (b) provide figures only for persons admitted within five years of their arrival in Australia; (c) do not take transfers into account, and therefore the figures returned often include double counting. Because of the lack of uniformity between the States, in the method of recording these statistics, they would not provide a suitable basis for use in answer to the questions posed by the honorable member. My department, however, is at present cooperating with the Commonwealth Department of Health with a view to obtaining a more reliable basis for recording the incidence of mental illness in the migrant population. Late last year Sir Harry Wunderly, the distinguished Australian authority on tuberculosis, visited Europe to survey the procedures and methods used for the medical screening of British and foreign assisted migrants before their departure for Australia. He paid particular attention to the screening to detect tuberculosis and mental disabilities. In his report, which was recently presented to the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, Sir Harry Wunderlv stated -
The conclusion to be drawn from this overseas survey is that the selection of prospective migrants by Australian medical officers is satisfactory and, as the result of increased experience, is of an appreciably higher standard than in 1950. The present methods and prnce lures provide an adequate degree of protection against the embarkation for Australia of medically undesirable migrants fromthose countries where they are examined bvAustralian medical officers. This medical screening compares very favorably with that of the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Sweden, which have the same problems as we have.
The more reliable figures available from State sources indicate that migrants compare favorably with the Australian-born population in regard to the incidence of mental illness. In particular, the NewSouth Wales State authorities on the 30th July, 1 954, stated, inter alia, in furnishing information to my department -
These figures (for admissions) would indicate that the existence of mental diseases amongst immigrants is appreciably lower than its existence amongst the natural-born population.
t asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
I am informed by my department, which has examined the report of the Western Australian Parliamentary Select Committee on Native Welfare, that the suggestion referred to by the honorable member relates to the establishment originally of a small herd of cattle to provide fresh meat for the natives in the Warburton area. The matter is a State responsibility and the Western Australian authorities are well informed on the prospects of running cattle in the area concerned.
d asked the Minister for Primary Production, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
5 and 6. Stocks from all sources held in the United Kingdom -
7 and 8. In the case of butter the heavy stock position has had a depressing effect on the market and has been causing concern for some time. A delegation from the Australian Dairy Produce Board will shortly be visiting the United Kingdom to conduct an on-the-spot investigation of the market and to discuss mailers of common policy with representatives from the other principal suppliers, namely, New Zealand and Denmark. With regard to meat, the Fifteen Year Meal Agreement, which was negotiated by the present Government with the United Kingdom Government, in 1951, continues as a valuable asset to the export sector of the Australian meat industry. The amount received from the United Kingdom Government by way of deficiency payments on beef sold below the minimum prices fixed under the agreement amounted to £3,250,000 in respect of 1956 sales. Receipt of these moneys made it possible for substantial bounties to be paid to meat exporters during the major part of 1956 and for even higher payments to be programmed for 1957. These payments add considerable strength to the market and are reflected in prices received by producers for their stock. Last season, the shell egg market in the United Kingdom was very unsatisfactory, and on present indications the Australian trade in shell eggs with the United Kingdom seems prejudiced. This is the result of the enormous increase in United Kingdom domestic production of eggs under her price guarantee scheme. The egg industry is investigating the possibility of marketing increased quantities of egg pulp to the United Kingdom and the Continent. Large-scale trade publicity campaigns are now being conducted in the United Kingdom by the Australian Overseas Trade Publicity Committee, in which the Commonwealth Government participates with the Commonwealth marketing boards.
t asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice-
Under what conditions are Australian aborigines deemed eligible for social services, anil for which services are they eligible?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The Commonwealth Government has no constitutional power to make laws with respect to aboriginal natives, except those in its own territories. Notwithstanding this, the Commonwealth has provided social service benefits for Australian aboriginals who are able to comply with certain conditions. The various benefits and the conditions applicable to each are set out hereunder: -
Child Endowment. - Child endowment may be granted to an aboriginal mother in all cases except where she is nomadic or where the children are wholly or mainly maintained by the Common - wealth or a State.
Maternity Allowances. - A maternity allowance may be granted to an aboriginal mother who has been granted exemption from the provisions of the law of the State or Territory in which she resides relating to the control of aboriginal natives. Provision for the granting of certificates of exemption exists in New South Wales, Queensland. South Australia and Western Australia. In Victoria where there is no such provision an aboriginal mother may receive a maternity allowance if the Director-General of Social Services is satisfied that, by reason of her character, standard at intelligence and social development it is desirable that a maternity allowance be granted to her. In practice, a maternity allowance is granted if the mother’s standard of living is such that she would he likely to be granted a certificate of exemption if she were residing in a State which provides for exemption. These provisions apply only to natives in whom aboriginal blood predominates. They do not apply to half-caste and lesser caste aboriginal mothers, who are eligible for maternity allowances under the same conditions as white persons.
Age, Invalid and Widows’ Pensions. - The conditions of eligibility for age, invalid and widows’ pensions are the same as for maternity allowances. Pensions are not, however, granted to half-castes or lesser castes who live on aboriginal reserves or settlements. This is in accordance with the policy followed by successive governments for many years past.
Unemployment Benefits. - An aboriginal native may be paid an unemployment benefit if by reason of his character, standard of intelligence and social development, he is considered a suitable person to receive payment. Compliance with the normal conditions of entitlement is, in itself, to a large extent indicative of the fact that the native is a suitable person to receive an unemployment benefit; e.g., he must be capable of, and willing to undertake, suitable employment.
Sickness Benefits. - The position is the same as for unemployment benefits. Where an aboriginal native has suffered a loss of wages or other income by reason of his incapacity and complies with the other conditions of entitlement, he is generally regarded as a suitable person to receive sickness benefit.
t asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, Information regarding the number of aboriginal natives in Australia receiving the various social service benefits is not readily available and could nui be obtained without an unreasonable amount of work.
Child Endowment. - Child endowment may be granted to an aboriginal mother in all cases except where she is nomadic or where the children are wholly or mainly maintained by the Commonwealth or a Slate.
Maternity Allowances. - A maternity allowance may be granted to an aboriginal mother who has been granted exemption from the provisions of the law of the State or Territory in which she resides relating lo ihe control of aboriginal natives. Provision for the granting of certificates of exemption exists in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. In Victoria where there is no such provision, an aboriginal mother may receive a maternity allowance if the DirectorGeneral of Social Services is satisfied that, by reason of her character, standard of intelligence and social development it is desirable that a maternity allowance should be granted to her. Id practice, a maternity allowance is granted if the mo. her ‘s standard of living is such that she would be likely to be granted a certificate of exemption if she were residing in a State which provides for exemption. These provisions apply only to natives in whom aboriginal blood predominates. They do not apply to half-caste and lesser caste aboriginal mothers, who are eligible for maternity allowances under the same conditions as while persons.
Age, Invalid and Widows’ Pensions. - The conditions of eligibility for age, invalid and widows’ pensions are the same as for maternity allowances. Pensions are not, however, granted to half-castes or lesser castes who live on aboriginal reserves or settlements. This is in accordance with the policy followed by successive governments for many years past.
Unemployment Benefits. - An aboriginal native may be paid an unemployment benefit if by reason of his character, standard of intelligence and social development, he is considered a suitable person to receive payment. Compliance with the normal conditions of entitlement is, in itself, to a large extent indicative of the fact that the native is a suitable person to receive an unemployment benefit: e.g., he must be capable of,’ and willing to undertake, suitable employment.
Sickness Benefits. - The position is the same as for unemployment benefits. Where an aboriginal native has suffered a loss of wages or other income by reason of his incapacity and complies with the other conditions of entitlement, he is generally regarded as a suitable person to receive sickness benefit.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 April 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1957/19570403_reps_22_hor14/>.