22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. HAYLEN presented a petition from certain electors of the State of New South Wales praying that the Government will, at the earliest practicable date, take legislative action to effect two amendments of the Australian Constitution for the purpose of remedying political, social, and economic disabilities of aborigines.
Petition received and read.
– Can the Treasurer inform the House, either now or after some inquiry, whether the importation into Australia of tea, either ex-Formosa or via Formosa, involves any payment of dollars from this country? Secondly - and perhaps this is the same question in another form - what is the actual source of the product that either is coming in or is to come in?
– I shall treat the right honorable gentleman’s question as being on the notice-paper and give him an expeditious reply.
– My question is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister. I refer to the announcement that the United Kingdom Government has decided to withdraw its request to United Kingdom shipping to avoid using the Suez Canal. Has the Australian Government been kept informed by the United Kingdom Government of developments in this matter, and will the right honorable gentleman state the attitude of the Government to the question?
– I had intended to seek leave of the House to make a statement in connexion with this matter. If the House will grant me permission to do so at this juncture, I shall treat the matter as a reply to the honorable gentleman’s question.
– Leave will be given at the end of question time.
– In view of the decision to terminate the current sessional period early in the forthcoming week, thereby affording no opportunity for a discussion of two matters of great importance to the State of Western Australia, will the Treasurer indicate the intention of the Government regarding urgently needed support to the gold-mining industry, and will he also indicate the decision, if any, that has been reached in connexion with the development plan for the north-west Kimberley district? If the right honorable gentleman is unable, at the moment, to make a decision, will he prepare a statement for submission to the Parliament before the present sittings end?
– I desire, first of all, to take this opportunity to express my pleasure at seeing the honorable gentleman restored to health and back in the Parliament. The question that he has raised, of course, concerns a matter of policy which will be considered in conjunction with the forthcoming budget.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Supply. Recently, I made representations to the Minister on behalf of the Mayor and citizens of Ballarat concerning the establishment of a Timken roller bearing factory in that city. Can the Minister now tell the House what progress has been made in the negotiations?
– The honorable member has shown a great deal of interest in this matter and has, if I may say so, been very persistent and assiduous in support of Ballarat as the site of this factory. This is not primarily a matter for the Commonwealth Government, although we have been glad to give it what support we could. I now understand that the Timken company has decided to go to Ballarat and establish its works there. In the initial stages it will be manufacturing roller-type bearings, for which there is a big demand in Australia that is not satisfied from local sources.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer a question without notice. I would like to know from the right honorable gentleman whether he is able to say whether or not it is a fact that the Gair Government bad cash balances exceeding £12,000,000 at the end of June, 1954. Is it true that of this amount £6,000,000 was invested in Commonwealth securities which matured last month? Is it, further, a fact that when those Commonwealth securities matured and could have been cashed the Gair Government exchanged them for securities that do not mature until next May?
– I shall treat the honorable gentleman’s question as being on the notice-paper and see to what extent I can reply to it, having regard to the confidential basis of information concerning financial relationships as between governments. I shall ascertain the extent to which the information that the honorable gentleman has requested is available publicly, and I shall furnish a reply accordingly.
– My question to the Minister for Social Services relates to certain replies that he gave in answer to a question I asked on notice recently, in which he supplied information dealing with the number of handicapped persons receiving treatment at the Melville Rehabilitation Centre in Western Australia, and the cost of that treatment. Does the Minister agree with me that mere statistics are not the most important element in a service dealing with human welfare and human values? If so, will he say whether any information, other than that contained in the official reports of departmental officers, is available to him which would indicate whether the operation of the centre is satisfactory to those who, through unfortunate circumstances, become eligible and receive treatment and training at the centre? As he will be visiting Western Australia during the week will he make inquiries along these lines?
– I know the deep personal interest of the honorable member for Moore in the rehabilitation of the physically handicapped, and I agree with him that the value of the rehabilitation centres established by the Commonwealth Government is not to be measured in cold statistics, iia spite of the fact that from month to month and from year to year hundreds, and indeed, thousands of men, women and children have been rehabilitated. It is my privilege, Mr. Speaker, to remind honorable members that it is only a few months since our rehabilitation centres were visited by that eminent authority on physical medicine and rehabilitation, Professor Howard Rusk. Strangely enough, the honorable member for Moore could have no possible knowledge that within the last few hours the report made by Professor Howard Rusk was handed to me. It has not been possible for me to refer the report to the Prime Minister, but I crave the indulgence of the House to read from a covering letter written to me by Professor Rusk. He says, in part -
As you will see from this report, I was deeply impressed with the quality and scope of rehabilitation services now being provided in the Commonwealth of Australia. Outstanding to me, however, was the sincerity and spirit of dedication of those who are responsible for the development and administration of these services.
That, if I may say so, could be a reply to the general question addressed to me by the honorable member for Moore.
Within the last few hours I have received a communication from the Western Australian Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners Industrial Union of Workers, which was addressed to me by Mr. R. W. Clohessy. It says, among other things -
The writer has been acting for Mr. Denisenko following an injury which he sustained at work in March, 1955. As a result of overtures to the Rehabilitation Department in Perth, Mr. Denisenko has been accommodated for nearly two years at the Melville Rehabilitation Centre. I am now advised that the doctors have completed their treatment, and Mr. Denisenko will leave the Centre this coming Friday.
On Mr. Denisenko’s behalf and on behalf ot the Union, I would be grateful if you would place on record our sincere appreciation for the treatment afforded to him during his period at the Centre. In particular your Mr. Kaiser, Mr. Jenkinson and Mr. Jensen have been most helpful-
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Is this an answer to a question without notice?
– The Minister is in order.
– With very great respect, Mr. Speaker, I cannot imagine a more appropriate or more explicit answer to any question addressed to me. I refer again to the paragraph that I was reading when the point of order was raised. It continued - whilst the writer has received every assistance and co-operation from Drs. Anderson and Tomlinson, not forgetting the untiring efforts rendered by the Sister at Melville for whom I regret I have no record of her name.
Would you be kind enough to relay the spirit of this communication to those concerned?
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Can he say what stage has been reached in negotiations or discussions between the Government and the Goodwin Centre Development Association regarding the construction of homes for the aged in Canberra on a proposal that the Goodwin Centre Development Association will be responsible for the building of individual living units and that the Government will provide, I understand, the central block of the buildings? Does the Minister recall that in May of last year he advised me that the matter had been referred to a ministerial committee and that early in February of this year he advised me that he had asked for the review to be hurried?
– I am glad to be able to tell the honorable member that a reservation has at last been made for developing the aged persons’ homes project proposed by the Goodwin Centre Development Association, and that section 36, Ainslie, has been reserved. It provides about six acres of land, a part of which will be available for the Goodwin Centre and another part for an aged persons’ home which will ultimately be built by the Government. This is a service that will be required in Canberra as time goes on and the population increases. There is no proposal immediately for the construction of the Government section, but I have asked the Goodwin Centre Development Association to keep in close touch with the Department of the Interior on the over-all programme. The whole area of section 36, Ainslie, is at present in reserve, although there are seven house blocks facing Sherbrooke-street which have not yet been allocated for this particular purpose. However, as the work proceeds it may be possible, if expansion is needed, to include those seven blocks in the scheme.
– I ask the Treasurer whether his attention has been directed to the fact that the premises and contents of the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia at 267 Marrickville-road, Marrickville, were damaged by fire on 6th May last. Is it a fact that such buildings and contents were insured with the Government Insurance Office of New South Wales? Is it the policy of the Commonwealth Savings Bank to insure all its property in New South Wales with the Government Insurance Office of New South Wales.
– I was informed that the premises to which the honorable member has referred were destroyed by fire, but I was not told with what insurance company or by what means the insurance of the premises was effected. I will look into the matter and see whether I can give the honorable member a satisfactory reply to his question. With regard to savings banks in New South Wales, it must be remembered that they were taken over from the New South Wales Government by virtue of an agreement entered into, and there may be a condition in that agreement that necessitated the method of insurance mentioned by the honorable member in his question.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he has given consideration to the fact that there is a great surplus of unemployed workers on the waterfront. Has he considered approaching the Stevedoring Industry Authority to ascertain whether a more equitable quota of workers could be made in the various ports?
– Yes, the officers of the Department of Labour have given a good deal of consideration to the matter raised by the honorable member. Before this session concludes, legislation will be introduced which will bear on this situation in the sense that it deals with the raising of funds to enable the current benefits and rates of attendance money to be paid. There have been adjustments of the quotas at a number of ports, but I am sure that the honorable member will appreciate that too considerable an adjustment of quotas would work hardship in particular cases, which the branches of the Waterside Workers Federation in those ports would not be anxious to see. There is, of course, a general wastage, which continues and this, together with some reduction in quotas, will have the effect of reducing the numbers regularly offering for work. In addition, it must be borne in mind that the value of imports for the current year will be about £700,000,000, compared with last year’s figure of £823,000,000. This will, of itself, involve a substantial drop in import tonnage. Conversely, the easing of restrictions to permit imports totalling £775,000,000 will add considerably to the anticipated tonnage for the next year, and will afford some alleviation of the present position.
However, as I have already pointed out, to a degree it is, in the hands of the men themselves and, for that matter, of management, to come to their own assistance. A contributing factor to unemployment on the waterfront has been the decline in general - not bulk - cargoes handled around the Australian coast. Undoubtedly the reason has been the competition which has been offered by road and rail transport - a competition made the more effective because shippers of goods cannot rely upon regularity of sea transport. If the waterside workers could guarantee regular turnround of ships and reasonable efficiency in the handling of goods, I am certain that there would be an increase in the tonnage offering and, consequently, an increase of employment.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Supply been directed to a statement, attributed to an American senator, to the effect that the United States of America lags behind Russia in the development of guided missiles? Can the Minister give any indication of the truth or otherwise of this statement and, in view of the Commonwealth’s activities at Woomera, can he say what the position is in regard to Great Britain and Australia?
– I saw a statement which was attributed to an American senator. I do not know whether he made it, and I do not know whether it is true. So far as Great Britain is concerned, it would not be proper to make any comment about developments, except to say that, substantially as a result of our joint research and developmental activities at Woomera, Great Britain at present has several guided missiles which are either in service or about to go into service. That is directly attributable to the Commonwealth’s partnership with Great Britain in the joint guided missile project. The partnership is, in addition, now developing at Woomera some longer-range, deterrent missiles of the kind which I think the senator in question might have been referring to. They are in the course of development, and it it is true that Russia is ahead of the free world in those developments, that is all the more reason why we should press on with our work at Woomera, in partnership with Great Britain.
– I ask the Minister for Trade whether it is a fact that the frozen fish import trade has been placed in the hands of a few monopolists in the capital cities, and other racketeers, and that the movement of imported fish supplies to other major cities, such as Newcastle, is practically nil. Does the Minister know that firms which have been in business for many years outside the capital cities are now unable to obtain regular supplies of imported fish at the proper prices because of the rackets that are being worked by the holders of import licences? Is the Minister aware that such limited supplies of fish as are available cost the distributors up to 15 per cent, more than they would if they had been imported direct, and that the increased cost is passed on to the consumer? If the Minister thinks that nothing is wrong with, the issue of import licences in the frozen-food trade, will he examine the bona fides of Air Flow Newcastle Proprietary Limited and inform the Parliament of the extent and value of the licences that the company holds, and the qualification of the person holding an import licence for which a quota was granted for the quarter commencing about 30th October. 1956, invoice No. U 4570? Will the Minister also examine the claims of Newcastle Frozen Foods Distributors-
– Order! What is the honorable member’s question?
– I am asking the Minister-
– The honorable member is giving information and mentioning names. His question will be out of order unless he brings it to a head.
– I am not naming any one. I am pointing out to the Minister-
– Order! The honorable member will ask his question or resume his seat.
– Will the Minister also examine the claims of Newcastle Frozen Foods Distributors Limited, who have been refused import licences, to ascertain whether an alteration of the existing import licensing practice is desirable so far as frozen foods are concerned?
– I have to confess that I have no personal knowledge of the particular licence to which the honorable member has referred. If I may make a general observation in which, I think, I shall not be out of line with the thinking in the House, I expect that there should be some limit to the extent to which one should reveal particulars of private business transactions. That is not to say that, in respect of allegations of improper administration, I should not be prepared to stand up and discuss what is being done. The details of the question which the honorable member has submitted will be studied, and I shall endeavour to supply him with as much information as I can procure. But could I suggest, as a better device, in this very difficult business of import licensing, with its rough justice-
– Everybody knows it is rough.
– At best, it cannot be divorced from some element of rough justice, and I would not wish to pretend that it could be so divorced by any administration. But I think it would be better, inthe interests of the people whom the honorable gentleman has in mind, if they themselves were to join with him, if they desire, and state their problem to me. I will engage to have it studied quite carefully within the limits of the financial policy authorized by the Government,, and to see what can be done to meet their position.
– Will the Minister for Trade inform the House whether export trade surveys have indicated that Japanese buyers prefer hard wheat, such as is grown in Queensland and the northern districts of New South Wales, to f.a.q. wheat? If this is so, can the Minister say whether this demand is being met or whether sales of hard wheat to Japan could be substantially increased?
– I think it would be correct to say that it is easier to sell hard, highprotein wheat than soft wheat or f.a.q. wheat. There are problems of segregation of the wheat. I understand that sales of hard wheat are made from those areas where most of the hard wheat of Australia is produced, which is in the honorable member’s own electorate, and other areas of northern New South Wales and Queensland. Broadly, the answer is that it is easier to sell hard wheat to Japan, the United Kingdom or other buyer countries than what is broadly described as soft wheat. But it is also a fact that most of the wheat produced in Australia is not, technically, hard, wheat.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade been directed to the statement attributed to the assistant secretary of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures in which, he stated that Australia’s tariff-fixing system was too slow and cumbersome, and did not effectively protect those industries against competition from Japan and other low-cost countries? If the Minister has seen this important statement by a very competent authority on tariff policy, will he arrange for a review of that policy with the object of giving adequate and speedy protection to Australian industries?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member refers. I, personally, and the officers of the Department of Trade are in constant - I think it would not be an exaggeration to say daily - touch with the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, through the central office in Canberra and the various State chambers. I do not think that the Australian Tariff Board process of determining levels- of tariffs is generally under challenge; but it would be correct to say that the Associated Chambers of Manufactures has displayed some concern as to the adequacy of our conventional tariff-fixing devices to meet unrestrained Japanese exports to this country. To the extent that that is a matter concerning chambers of manufactures or groups of industries, I assure the honorable member that I am in close and constant personal contact with the Associated Chambers of Manufactures and with various industry groups on what they describe as a specialized problem, and I readily admit that it is a particular problem.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. In view of the large number of men leaving the armed services because of housing shortages and for other reasons, has the Minister yet had an opportunity to consider the suggestion I made in this House about a week ago that an all-party parliamentary committee be formed to examine how this drift can be arrested and how men can be encouraged to make a career in the services? Has the Minister examined the United States Career Incentives Act 1955, which was passed on the recommendations of a United States all-party committee which investigated at that time a similar national problem, which has since been corrected through that legislation?
– I am giving consideration to the suggestion made by the honorable member that an all-party parliamentary committee be formed to examine this problem. I assure him that attention to it is being given by the services, which are examining ways and means of encouraging recruitment and particularly of encouraging re-engagement in the services. As soon as I have made a decision on the matter, I shall communicate with the honorable member.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Territories. It has been reported that 24 New Guinea natives have been sentenced to death at one trial. As capital punishment has been abolished in most Australian States, and generally Australian sentiment is opposed to it, and also as different laws appear to apply in different Commonwealth Territories in regard to the enforcement of capital punishment, will the
Minister introduce legislation to remove capital punishment from the statutes of the Territories under his control?
– The question raised by the honorable member is, of course, one of policy and it is for the Government to decide what it should do in respect of that matter. I take advantage of this occasion to explain to the honorable member and to those other members of the House who may be unaware of it, the nature and the objective of the process of justice applied in this case. When we go into comparatively new areas in New Guinea, one of the first things that we have to do on behalf of the Australian nation is to establish law and order and put an end to the inter-tribal fighting and brutal killing when these people live in their untrammelled primitive state. As a commencement, we make a rather soft beginning and, if we can patch up the differences between two people who have been accustomed to fight each other, we are satisfied to do so. At a later period, when we have been able to indicate to those people that killing each other is not in accordance with our general standards of civilization, then in the case of a killing we do have to take some action and the natives who are concerned in a killing are brought to trial. If they are natives who are still very considerably under the influence of their own tribal practices, although they may be brought to trial and although a sentence of death may be passed upon them it has been the almost invariable rule that that sentence of death is commuted to a term of imprisonment and that the term of imprisonment is used for the education and general advancement in civilization of the prisoners. Although I cannot anticipate what the Executive Council, presided over by His Excellency, will do in this case, it would be in keeping with what has been done in other cases that when these death sentences are brought before the Executive Council they will be commuted to an appropriate term of imprisonment.
– I direct a question without notice to the Minister for Trade. Did the Minister note the warning given by Professor Karmel, Professor of Economics at the Adelaide University, that under the present conditions there will be a trend to a renewal of inflationary pressures towards the end of this year, and his further statement that a relaxation of import controls would have an anti-inflationary effect? In view of the need to prevent a recurrence of inflation, will the Minister consider further relaxation of import controls?
– -I have not seen the report to which the honorable member refers, but I am aware of the economic fact that in an inflationary situation a free inflow of imports is an anti-inflationary element. The Government is quite aware of that, and that knowledge is present in its thinking and its decisions. Indeed, it was one of the factors, although not the determining factor, in the Government’s mind when it relaxed import controls by £75,000,000 a year. On the other hand, if one is discussing general national economics, it is not to be overlooked that one cannot set out on a course of relaxing import controls irrespective of the effect that that may have on the country’s overseas balances and reserves and its capacity to maintain solvency in international exchange. So, the decision taken on the scale of expenditure on imports is not taken by the Department of Trade but is a top-level decision of the Government itself, and all the relevant factors are taken into account.
– I direct a question to the Deputy Prime Minister. Last week the right honorable gentleman said in answer to a question by the honorable member for East Sydney that the statement by the Prime Minister advocating “ a fully rearmed Japan “ had been made on behalf of the Government. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether the Government considers that to be “ fully rearmed “ Japan would need nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. In view of discussions in the Japanese Diet a few days ago on the question whether it would be constitutional for Japan to acquire nuclear weapons, does the Australian Government favour the acquisition by Japan of such weapons?
– I could have amplified my answer to the honorable member for East Sydney the other day by saying, as I have learned and confirmed since, that the report upon which the honorable mem ber relied was a complete fabrication. The truth is that, when asked a question in Japan, the Prime Minister said expressly that this was a matter for the Japanese Government, and so, too, is the subjectmatter of the question raised by the honorable member for Yarra.
– You did not say that the other day.
– Because I foolishly relied on your telling the truth.
– I direct to the Minister for Trade a question concerning the control of the export of scrap steel. Although Western Australia is far removed from the large industries of the eastern coast, and the scrap requirements of its own heavy industries are infinitesimal, the State is subject to the same control and quota system as are other States with the exception of Tasmania. As there is an acceptable export market for the many large dumps of steel scrap throughout Western Australia, and their disposal would promote employment for wharf labourers, crane drivers, and transport workers, I ask the Minister whether he will urgently review the situation, and substantially increase the export quotas for Western Australia. Will he also give consideration to the complete exemption of that State from the control system?
– The control of the export of scrap iron and steel from Western Australia operates in accordance with the same principles that apply in the other States, but I think that it is correct to say that the same proportions are not applied. In short, the policy is designed to ensure no more than that the needs of the local foundries shall be satisfied, and any surplus over the needs of local industries ought to be freely available for export. That is the basic policy approach. The interpretation of that policy as it shall apply to individual transactions is difficult, of course, and, even with the best of faith and judgment, it may lead to differences of opinion. In order to prevent difficulties arising, the Department of Trade has established consultative committees in all the States. There is in Western Australia a committee representative of all the elements of private enterprise that are interested as users or exporters of scrap iron and steel. Until this question was asked, it had not been brought to my notice that it was alleged that the policy was not working as fairly as it might. On the basis of the question, I shall have a look at the matter immediately.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Territories a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Wills a few minutes ago. Will the Minister confirm or deny reports that 24 New Guinea natives who were sentenced to death by the Supreme Court at Wewak yesterday were defended by a patrol officer who had participated in the apprehension of the accused? Are patrol officers generally regarded as legally qualified and as being sufficiently competent to defend persons accused of murder, and was the defence counsel in this case so qualified to appear for 25 natives on a murder charge? Will the Minister say whether it is usual for sentence of death to be carried out, and will he consider tabling the transcript of the com i proceedings for the information of the House?
– I shall have inquiries made to see whether there is any foundation of fact in the implications of the honorable member’s question.
– I address to the Minister for Air a question concerning applications made, probably by almost every member of this House, on behalf of organizations working to raise money for charitable purposes, for Air Force participation in air pageants. Does the Air Force co-operate, as far as possible, by acceding to the many requests that it receives? Does it, like the Navy, have an aerobatic team which gives air displays? Is there any reason why the commanding officers of local stations should not arrange flights at air pageants if such flights can be used in training in, for example, formation flying, navigation exercises, low flying, and the like?
– I shall try to answer the honorable member’s questions in .the sequence in which he put them to me. The Air Force does wish to co-operate with national patriotic movements which organize air pageants and to participate in such pageants, but, as the honorable member indicated by the way in which he put the question, k has been found that the requests are so numerous that the capacity of the Air Force would be stretched beyond its limits if it were to attempt to comply with them all. The service has an aerobatic team. Part of one of the fighter squadrons at Williamtown undertakes special aerobatic training, but it is quite obvious that, since the team is the only one in existence at Williamtown, it would spend its whole time engaged, not in proper operational training, but in giving air displays, if it participated in many pageants. We know that the public has a wide interest in the Air Force, and we should like to gratify that interest by allowing elements of the service to be seen by the public on every possible occasion. But the fact is that they must spend most of their time on operational training, which cannot be satisfactorily combined with displays at air pageants. Therefore, the policy has been adopted - and is being adhered to - of the Air Force participating only in displays arranged for the benefit of patriotic and similar funds of very wide national importance.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Defence Production. Following representations made by me, I now ask the Minister whether he has yet decided where the factory for the manufacture of ammunition for the FN rifle is to be located. My question is prompted by a statement made on Friday last by the Mayor of Lithgow to the effect “ that the decision as to where the factory is to be built was made by the Federal Government some months ago “. Owing to the interest of the public and myself in this matter, I should be pleased if the Minister would give me a forthright reply.
– I can give a forthright answer by saying that the Government has made no such decision. I do not know what the Mayor of Lithgow was talking about.
– The Government never makes decisions.
– There is one decision that we should very much like to make, and it concerns the honorable member for East
Sydney. Indeed, no recommendation on this matter has been made to the Government or to me by the Department of Defence Production. The matter is under consideration, but there has been no recommendation yet as to whether another factory should be established. I suggest that the honorable member tell the Mayor of Lithgow to stop worrying and reduce his blood pressure.
– by leave - I desire to make a statement about the use of the Suez Canal, about which the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth) asked a question. As honorable members will have, heard from radio reports, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom last night announced that the United Kingdom Government has decided to withdraw its request to United Kingdom shipping to avoid using the Suez Canal. The Australian Government has had official confirmation of this decision, and has been kept informed by the United Kingdom of its deliberations on the question. In all the circumstances, including evidence of the intention of the shipping of most other countries to recommence using the canal, the Australian Government supports the United Kingdom’s decision, which will have the practical effect of relieving a substantial amount of world trade of the cost of using alternative routes.
The establishment of a satisfactory permanent regime for administering and operating the Suez Canal is another matter. The arrangements which Egypt offers still fall short of satisfying the interests of the world in this public utility. Specifically, the arrangements, while now somewhat better than those originally offered by Egypt, continue to fall short of the six basic principles which the Security Council of the United Nations unanimously laid down for the operation of the canal. Therefore, users of the canal are making it clear that they regard themselves as participating in a de facto arrangement. The Australian view, shared by a great many other governments, is that continued efforts must be made, inside and outside the United Nations, to obtain Egyptian agreement to an effective international’ instrument governing both the method of operation of the canal and assurance of the right of passage for world ship ping and trade. What originated as a dispute between Egypt and Britain and France now directly concerns the United Nations. The question of Egypt’s conformity to the principles approved by the Security Council remains on the agenda of that body, and it may be expected that this subject will be pursued.
– by leave - This, 1 suppose, is the inevitable result of the Government’svacillation and lack of action. After all, the Security Council decided this matter about four and a half months ago. Then came the disastrous invasion of Egypt, which caused great injury to the people of both Britain and Australia. This Government has been kept informed by Britain, but it has never shown the slightest sign of activity. The obvious thing to do, and ] press this on the Government, is to continue to bring the matter to the Security Council. The- six principles have, been laid down by the Security Council; nevertheless, we have this ignominious- retreat from a decision of the United Nations..
With great respect tq. the right honorable gentleman, who,, of course, has; merely read a prepared statement, I point out that the statement overlooks entirely the fact tha,t the Security Council unanimously had declared those six principles. Then came the unlawful aggression against Egypt, causing loss and damage, supported b.y all honorable gentlemen opposite, to the detriment of so many people and the ruin of’ others. Obviously, what should have been done then was to refer the matter again to the United Nations.
– It is still there!
– It is there, but nothing is being done. It is of no use honorable members opposite screaming about it. The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie), who is interjecting, and his colleagues, are responsible for this result.
I again ask the Government not just to wait and see, hoping that all will be forgotten. This matter should be with the Security Council now. Conditions should be drawn up and made binding on all members. I think that the present position is a monument to the Government’s vacillation and complete incapacity.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).I have received a letter from the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) proposing that a definite matter of urgent public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -
The Government’s consistent opposition to the incorporation in federal awards of automatic wage adjustments resulting in denial of wage justice, reduction in living standards and serious industrial unrest. 1 call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
.- The Opposition feels that the attitude of the Government in consistently opposing the reintroduction of automatic adjustment of wages might well be considered by this House in view of the serious effect that it is having upon the workers in the community. The Government has expressed this attitude on three occasions during the last few years. It did so, first, in the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in 1953; it next did so in 1956; and it again did so during the recent proceedings before the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission. On that occasion the Government expressed not only its opposition to the re-insertion in federal awards of clauses providing for adjustment, but also its opposition to any form of wage adjustment. I desire to place before the House some reasons to support my contention that this attitude of the Government should be abandoned and that a different policy should be adopted.
I point out to honorable members that automatic adjustment of wages first began to operate under federal awards granted by the late Mr. Justice Powers in 1922, for certain specific reasons. There had been a period of inflation from 1917 to 1921, which had forced prices very high. Wages had not kept pace with prices, with the result that the standard of living of the workers had declined seriously. In 1922, the principle of automatic adjustment of wages by means of quarterly variations of awards, in accordance with the rise or fall of prices during the preceding quarter, was adopted. The court considered that it was desirable, in the interests of industrial peace, that the wage fixed by it should, as nearly as possible, be a static wage and have an unvarying purchasing power. The adoption of this system came about very largely as the result of a wave of industrial unrest which had seriously shaken the Australian economy between 1918 and 1921. Almost every industry in the Commonwealth had been the subject of such unrest because of the falling value of wages. An earnest attempt, therefore, was made by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to prevent such unrest, by the adoption of a system of automatic adjustments. That system operated from 1922 to 1953, a period of 31 years which included good years, bad years, war years, years of depression and years of expansion, so that one could say that, in those 31 years, the whole system of wage adjustment had had a trial under varying circumstances, all of which had had some effect upon the economic life of Australia.
So far, the only reason given by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who speaks for the Government in this matter, for the abandonment of quarterly adjustments, has been that wage adjustment is not a satisfactory way of dealing with wages. To use his expression, as far as I can remember it, he said that when the court fixes an economic wage there is no guarantee that the wage so fixed can be adjusted, with safety to the economy, as prices rise.
– The honorable gentleman is not purporting to quote me. is he?
– Apparently, it could be adjusted if prices fell, because wages would then come down.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Bendigo is purporting to quote the Minister for Labour and National Service. I should like to make it quite clear, Mr. Speaker, that it is improper, under the Standing Orders, to quote a person incorrectly, or to purport to do so.
– The honorable member for Bendigo may proceed.
– All that I desire to say in this respect is that, since 1931, the wage that has been fixed by the court has been an economic, not a needs wage. Since 1 931, when the 10 per cent, reduction case was heard by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, the court has fixed a wage which, in its opinion, has been the highest that the community could afford to pay. Therefore, from 1931 until the present moment, the wage operating throughout the Commonwealth has been one based upon the power of the economy to pay for it. To suggest that it is not within the power of the Australian economy to continue to adjust wages is to fly in the face of all experience. I point out that, since 1931, or, going even further back should any one want to do so, since 1922, not only have wages been adjusted in accordance with the fluctuations of prices in both good times and bad times, but, in addition, the economy, as well as paying whatever wages might be necessary as a consequence of increased prices, has been able to make substantial improvements in the working conditions of employees covered by federal awards.
What do we find happened during that period? We find that between 1922 and 1953, in addition to paying adjusted wages, the economy has been able to reduce the standard hours of labour, first from 48 to 44 and later from 44 to 40. Also, on two occasions the economy has made special, as apart from regular, adjustments of wages - one of 6s. in 1946 and one of £1 in 1950 or 1951. On top of that, the economy has been able to permit the granting of long service leave, annual leave and sick leave, and has increased the margins paid to skilled workers. It has generally reclassified and increased the wages of skilled and semiskilled workers.
So, a study of either period - from 1922 to the present moment, or from 1931 to the present moment - shows that, in the circumstances operating, the economy was able to pay adjusted wages and, in addition, to permit substantial improvements in working conditions. It is simply a case of refusing to recognize facts and of failing to face up to the economic realism of the position for any government to adopt the attitude that, with Australian production increasing at a tremendous rate, with our industries, both secondary and primary, expanding in every direction, the economy has now reached a stage of weakness which renders it unable to pay any increase of wages that may be justified by increased prices.
I point out that we have now reached a stage, as a consequence of the Government’s policy, where we are dividing the Australian workers into two classes, first, those covered by State awards, and those who in some cases are receiving adjustments every quarter or who are having their wages adjusted periodically as a result of court decisions and who receive a much fairer deal in regard to the impact of prices on their standard of living; and secondly, those working under federal awards whose wages have remained static from 1953 to June, 1956, despite the increases of prices during that period. There was a small increase of the wages of the latter in 1953, and there will be another, dating from to-morrow, as a result of the recent increase by the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission of the federal basic wage by 10s. a week. The result of the existence of these two different classes of workers is that «.n the same industry, in the same factory, in the same State, one finds persons who receive wage adjustments working alongside persons not receiving adjustments, with the consequence that discontent is growing daily in industry and is bound, sooner or later, to break out in grave industrial unrest.
To look at the matter from another aspect, we can point to the actual loss that the workers have suffered as a result of the non-adjustment of wages. I shall give the figures for the six capital cities and for each capital city individually. The amounts lost by the individual adult worker in the quarter ended 30th April, 1957, because wage adjustments ceased, were as follows: - Sydney, £67 7s.; Melbourne, £79 7s.; Brisbane, £75 6s.; Adelaide, £78 Us.; Perth, £194 5s.; and Hobart, £120 3s. The weighted average for the six capitals was £85 14s. The figures which make allowance for the recent increase of 10s. a week in the federal basic wage show that to 30th July next in every State, with the exception of South Australia, the individual loss will be greater than is the case for the quarter ended 30th April.
These figures, I submit, give a clear indication of the loss that is being experienced by individual workers covered by federal awards as a result of the misguided policy being pursued by the Government. It must not be assumed that the regimen used by the Commonwealth court for the adjustment of wages is weighted in favour of the workers.
On the contrary, it is weighted against the workers, and the Statistician himself realizes that fact at the present moment, when he is investigating the whole question of the rent unit in connexion with the adjustment of wages. His figures show that from 1936 to the present the increase in rent is about 40 per cent. - that is, by from 18s. to 26s. We know that the rents paid by workers in all the capital cities prove that that figure underestimates the actual increase. Further, it takes no account of the fact that in the 21 years since the figures were placed on their present basis there has been an entire change in the position regarding rents. ‘ Whereas in 1936 65 per cent, of houses were rented houses, to-day the proportion is 35 per cent. I think that in this matter of opposition to wage adjustment the Government has been guilty of double dealing. I have heard members of the Government say on more than one occasion in this House—
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) has sought to give his interpretation of the policy of the Government in respect of basic wage adjustments. He has given an interpretation of what I have put to the House and have said in other places from time to time. I should now like to give my own interpretation, because it differs very materially from the version we have heard from the honorable member for Bendigo.
The first thing I want to make clear is that the Commonwealth Government has never resisted the notion of an adjustment in the wage level according to economic capacity. The Commonwealth Government has never resisted the idea of a periodic review of this question of the highest basic wage that the economy can carry. That is the first point. What we have argued against is the weakness of a system of quarterly adjustments which was brought into being under circumstances entirely different from those that obtain to-day, as against a regular annual review which, we believe, is not only far better based from the point of view of industry and economic progress, but also far more likely to render justice to all concerned, and far more likely to preserve a situation of full employment to which this
Government has declared itself bound. In considering this question we must, of course, keep in our minds the necessity to do justice to the wage-earning section of the community, but what the honorable member has overlooked in his approach is that justice does not begin and end there. There are other sections of the Australian community who also have rights which have to be guarded. Normally, justice for the wage-earner and the welfare of the community go hand in hand.
It could be argued that in some instances, an increase in price levels and wage levels might benefit one section of the community, but only at the cost of another section of the community. We all have a vested interest in price stability in Australia. .If cost levels rise unduly sharply, then, firstly, the impact which is felt by those on fixed incomes is serious. We have heard honorable members opposite, often enough, plead in this place the case of the pensioner. But pensions are subject to an annual review, not to quarterly adjustments. If, in the meantime, there were a sharp rise of prices because of quarterly adjustments of the basic wage, every person in this country on a fixed income, including the pensioner, would be affected. Many Australian wageearners to-day have their own insurance policies, or superannuation funds which operate in the industries in which they are employed. They have a vested interest in price stability. So we view this as an endeavour to do justice to the wage-earner and at the same time to maintain, if possible, a price stability which will enable a continuation of Australian prosperity that will avoid dislocation, so far as people on fixed incomes are .concerned.
Away back in the days of Mr. Justice Powers, to which the honorable member has referred, the basis of fixing the wage was one of needs. The judge set out to decide what was the need of the average Australian family in terms of a man, wife and two or three children. As the years went by, the conception to which the court addressed itself was a very different one. The court said that it was not sufficient to look at the matter purely on the basis of need. If justice is to be done and the economy is neither to be over-strained nor to provide too big a share of the cake to the management section as against the employee section, the real issue to be determined is the economic capacity of .the community as a whole to carry a particular wage.
– This Government briefed senior counsel to persuade the court to that conviction.
– The court has been moving in that direction for many years, as the honorable member will be aware, if he has studied the judgments. The Government accepts the logic and good sense of that reasoning. Does any honorable member opposite contest the principle that the basic wage should be the highest that it is within the capacity of the economy to pay? If honorable members opposite want it to go any higher than the capacity of industry or the economy to pay, then, of course, they are driving the nation into bankruptcy. If they want it to he any lower than the capacity of the economy to pay, then they are not seeking social justice for the wage-earner.
We have had conferences on this matter with the Premiers of the States, and I have put that principle to them. Not one State Premier, whatever his politics, challenged the principle I have just been enunciating, and I do not think that one honorable member opposite would dare to challenge it. If we accept the principle that what the tribunal has to decide is the highest wage it is within the economic capacity of the community to pay, how does that measure up with the system of quarterly adjustments in accordance with the C series index, which have nothing whatever to do with the capacity of industry to pay? Movements can take place within the C series index which are not related to the capacity of industry to pay, and in some instances they may suggest a weakened capacity of industry to pay. If State governments raise their rail freight charges or their charges for electric light or gas, these costs come into the C series index, but instead of improving the capacity of industry to pay a higher wage, they weaken the capacity of industry to do so. If, as happened last year, a freak season in potato production occurs, does that increase the capacity of industry to pay a higher wage? It is fantastic to suggest that it does. No government in Australia, to my knowledge, is unwilling to accept the principle of the capacity of industry to .pay. The system .of quarterly adjustments is quite inconsistent with that principle, because the adjustments are based on a retail price index which reflects price movements in certain commodities. The first test of the system is its wisdom. I think that few responsible people, apart from honorable members opposite and the officials of some trades unions, for whom they claim to speak, would contest the wisdom of the course we have now adopted. The best-informed and highest industrial tribunal of this country has accepted the wisdom of this system. I do not know of any industrial tribunal in the world which is better informed in point of detail than the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission of Australia at the time it comes to give a decision on a wage question. Having ceased quarterly adjustments in 1953 and reviewed the matter on more than one occasion since then, the Commonwealth commission has reaffirmed its view in its most recent judgment.
I think that the honorable member for Bendigo will accept the “ Age “ newspaper as a calm and reasonable journal in these matters. It is very interested in industrial affairs. Its view was expressed in the issue of 25th October, 1956. In the leading article, headed “Wage Confusion Increases “, that view was summed up in this paragraph -
The system of adjusting wages to the “ C “ series index already stands condemned. The last quarter has shown clearly the absurdity of accepting an index which can be heavily weighted by the ruling prices of a single commodity. In Melbourne, seven-eighths of last quarter’s rise was attributable to the price of potatoes and onions.
Of course, that was not related directly to the cost of living, because when housewives found that potatoes were scarce and, therefore, the price went sky high, they went about buying rice or spaghetti, or gave their families more bread to substitute for the quantity of potatoes that they might otherwise have eaten. Similarly, in relation to -other -commodities, as their prices tend to get out of line with the general level, people look for substitutes, and the cost of living, accordingly, does not move in the same proportion.
The other test which can be reasonably applied to the Government’s policy in this matter is whether it has worked substantially favorably to the wage-earner of this country. We have had a process of completely twisted reasoning in the fantastic allegations by the honorable member for Bendigo. He said that as a result of the suspension of quarterly adjustments, workers in various States have lost a certain amount of money. I ask honorable members to measure that statement against the facts. What better illustration of the real facts of the situation can be found than in the statistics of the average weekly earnings recorded in Australia? If we take the movement of average weekly earnings in Australia, we find that not only have they kept pace with increases in the cost of living, but they have also gone well beyond it. In the December quarter of 1953 - that was shortly after these adjustments were suspended - the average weekly earnings recorded for the whole of Australia amounted to £16 6s. 7d. By December, 1956, they had risen to £19 2s. 7d. That was an increase of 17 per cent, in that period. During the same period, the movement in the C series index, including onions and potatoes, was 11 per cent. So the average weekly earnings throughout Australia rose by 17 per cent, and there was a movement in the C series index of the order of 11 per cent.
It has been said that industrial unrest has been occasioned because of the Government’s refusal to continue quarterly adjustments. Industrial unrest has not arisen because of the wage level. As I have shown, that has risen higher, proportionately, than have prices as shown by the C series index. The industrial unrest over wages has been due to the fact that there is disparity between the State wage, fixed on the quarterly adjustment basis in some of the States, and the Commonwealth wage. As the commission has pointed out, it has fixed the wage awarded by it on the basis of the capacity of the community to pay and has been compelled to fix a slightly lower wage for those under federal awards because a higher wage than the community could carry has been fixed under State awards by those tribunals still functioning on a quarterly adjustment basis. Therefore, if we want social justice in this country we will first work towards the highest wage that it is within the capacity of industry to pay, and then see that that principle is applied by all the wage-fixing tribunals in Australia.
It is the habit of honorable gentlemen opposite to try to present this Government as unsympathetic to the wage-earner. We are proud of the fact that, throughout our term of office, there has been substantially full employment, and that Australia has continued to enjoy a period of unparalleled prosperity. Under full employment the movement in the wage itself is not the only thing of consequence to the family. More bread-winners are contributing to the family income and the family standards rise accordingly. That has been the Australian experience, as any one with eyes in his head to see can confirm. Therefore, we say that our policy is working justly both towards persons on. fixed incomes without quarterly adjustments to help them meet costs, and towards wage-earners, because average earnings have moved more rapidly than has the C series index. As well, there has been full employment and continued prosperity, and we have built up an export trade, thus ensuring a continuance of that full employment and prosperity. If our wage levels were to get as far out of control as the irresponsible economic policy of honorable gentlemen opposite would place them, the economy as a whole would receive a severe shaking and our prospects of expanded export markets and continued full employment would be placed in jeopardy.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- Any one who heard the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) speak this afternoon would imagine that he really believed in social justice. He has made a similar speech several times before when this subject has been raised. Let me say right at the outset, that it is useless to compare wages to-day with those of a few years ago unless they are also honestly related to changes in the value of money. To fail to do that is to present a completely false impression of the situation of the worker. There is no doubt in the world that the worker of this country is not receiving wage justice. Neither is he enjoying the improved standard of living that the Minister suggests. The best, and the only effective way of examining this question of living standards is to examine not what the worker receives in terms of money, but what he is able to purchase with the money that he receives.
If the Australian worker was receiving a sufficient wage there would not be such a marked contraction in the consumption of various types of basic foods. The Commonwealth Statistician’s figures reveal that the per capita consumption of eggs - a basic Australian food - has fallen since pre-war days by three dozen annually. Butter is down by 3.2 lb. a head of population, and meat by about 24 lb. a head. One can go right through the regimen and find that less of everything is being consumed. Obviously, wages have not been so adjusted as to keep pace with the increase in the cost of living.
One hears Government supporters talking about the ability of industry to pay. The Minister said that neither he nor his Government had ever opposed the adjustment of wages. That is completely at variance with what the Government’s advocate had to say to the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission in the recent basic wage case. At page 6 of the judgment the following appears -
The Attorney-General of the Commonwealth intervened in the public interest, but the only issue on which bis counsel made a positive submission was on the application for the restoration of the automatic adjustment system. The Commonwealth opposed such a system, whatever index were used.
Therefore, the Government does not believe in the adequate and proper adjustment of wages. The Minister asked: “ Does the Opposition oppose the principle that an industry ought to pay the highest wage that it has the ability to pay? “ We say that we are not opposed to that principle, but we believe that the wage of the worker in industry ought to be based, first, upon his needs and the needs of those who depend upon him for support. That should be the minimum wage. Then, if industry can afford to pay more that ought to be added. Obviously, the wage should never fall below what is necessary to provide for the needs of the worker and his family.
Undoubtedly, wages are depressed to-day. The quarterly increases in the basic wage to which Government supporters refer are not really increases at all. The so-called adjustment merely brings the worker up to the position that he was in, relatively speaking, three months before. Who is to determine what an industry can afford to pay? Does the Government suggest that each industry should be taken individually and the wage determined upon its ability to pay? Or should industry be taken collectively? Moreover, what evidence would the commission have before it that would enable it to determine the capacity of industry to pay? Would it have the financial statements and accounts of particular companies? Would the witnesses for an industry be subject to cross-examination? Would the commission take into account invested capital and watered capital? I suggest not. In the past, the court has based its decisions upon what the employers’ representatives have told it, without evidence being submitted or cross-examination of witnesses taking place.
The Government says that it is against the imposition of controls. Remarkably enough, the only thing that it believes in controlling is the wage of the worker. I invite Government supporters to tell me why, if it is so important to keep this balance between what management, the investor and the employee take out of industry, profits are not regulated just as wages are, after a proper examination by an arbitration tribunal? Why does the commission not ensure that the profit, or dividend, declared from time to time, is within the capacity of the particular industry? The Minister tried to play upon the emotions of the people by suggesting that because pensions were reviewed annually, wages should also be reviewed annually. But surely it is rubbish to talk about an annual review of pensions! That suggests that there is an annual adjustment of pensions, but nothing of the kind occurs. If it did, the pensioners of this country would have received an increase in the last budget, but they did not.
I would like now to say a word or two about the regimen, the basis upon which the C series index is calculated. It is unfair to the worker and is in need of review. It excludes from consideration a number of the important items in the regimen of foodstuffs consumed by the Australian worker. Of the vegetables that he eats, only potatoes and onions are considered. No allowance is made for fruit, which is an important item in the daily diet of Australians. It is important for the future welfare of this nation. To-day, workers are unable to get sufficient of these things for their kiddies, and those who are dependent upon them. The workers and the trade unions will not accept the decision of the Government or the court that quarterly adjustments should go by the board. The Minister for Labour and National Service has claimed that the workers have received wage justice and social justice, but they have only obtained a measure of justice. 1 use the word “ measure “ because they have never obtained full justice at any time in the history of this country. They have obtained a measure of justice because of their ability industrially to demand it from the Government and the various tribunals that have been established. I believe that the members of the Opposition are completely justified in their attitude to this question.
It is perfectly true, as the honorable member for Bendigo who initiated this debate said, that the workers have suffered a considerable loss in the various States as a result of these deductions from their wages. The Minister for Labour and National Service talked about what the Government had done to achieve full employment and prosperity, and said that family incomes had been increased because there were more breadwinners. Let us examine this position. Wages have been depressed so much by anti-Labour governments that in many cases the housewife, who ought to be in the home attending to the rearing of her family, has been obliged to go into industry to supplement the family income because the husband’s income has not been sufficient to meet the needs of the family. That is a new state of affairs which has been introduced into Australia under the regime of an anti-Labour Government. The workers of this country will not obtain wage justice from this Government or from the courts which the Government influences through the representatives which it sends to the court to argue its case. Naturally, the court takes cognizance of the Government’s statements. If the workers are to get wage justice they will get it by two means only: One is their own industrial strength supported by the action of the Australian Labour party; the other is the return of a Labour government. The sooner that happens the sooner the workers will obtain wage justice.
– We have heard one of the typical inflammatory speeches of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). The honorable member has not tried to make a contribution to the industrial growth and strength of this country. He has not tried to ensure wage justice for the working people of this country. He has set out only to foment political strife. He has set out to cause trouble if, by his worst efforts, trouble can be caused: It is nothing new to have him coming to the House, not to try to make a contribution to the debate, but to try to confuse the issue and make a complete nuisance of himself.
What is the Government’s approach to this problem? I think that by this time most honorable members will have realized that, by means of our arbitration practice and methods of wage fixation, the Government hopes, and every sensible member of the community hopes, that every working man may receive wage justice. In other words, the Government hopes that working men may receive the maximum that Australian industry and services can afford to pay. I start from there: What more can we do to help the worker? At many Cabinet meetings there is some discussion on this subject, and it is directed towards giving wage justice and satisfaction to the working man. It is hoped to effect this through the Arbitration Court, a judicial tribunal that can look at the facts, weigh the evidence and, on the basis of that evidence, decide what it thinks can be done.
The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) spoke of the enormous benefits of arbitration, such as the reduction of hours of work and the increases in wages and margins. It was a delight to me to hear him, and to know that this process is still going on. But it is extraordinary that the honorable member now wants the findings of the court to be reversed. The court itself has made the decision that payments shall be made to working men on the basis of the highest amount that industry can pay. It has also decided that a review shall be made each year in order to find out by how much productivity has been increased in order that some amount may be passed on to the working man. Therefore: T find enormous difficulty in following the logic of the honorable member, and I wonder whether he has given this subject the consideration that it deserves, conceding that he is probably one of the best informed men in this House on wage problems.
I come back to the real question that is involved here; that is, the logic and the common sense of the argument that the Opposition has put forward. We all know the basis of the Harvester award. I need not repeat the facts other than to say that the judgment was based upon the needs of the family group. As prices changed, it became necessary to make adjustments in order to make good the loss of purchasing power that the rise of prices had brought about. But as the wealth of the community increased, the Arbitration Court itself decided that it would adopt a different method. It decided that instead of basing wage increases on mere needs it would base them on the highest amount that industry could afford to pay. This basis had no relationship to price variations. The logical association between needs and changes in prices did not exist between the highest amount that industry could afford to pay and changes in prices which might subsequently occur. The honorable member for Bendigo and all other honorable members know that there is no logical association between the new method of assessing the basic wage and the old method of assessing the basic wage, which was associated with quarterly cost of living adjustments.
In addition, the Opposition has not bothered to quote the judgments of the court. The Opposition has not cared to say, if an award is based on the highest amount that industry can afford to pay, on what basis any adjustment to that amount should be made. During the course of the relevant judgment the judges said -
The contention that total prices and total incomes were two sides of the same thing could not apply to any economy dependent on exports and imports.
They went on to say -
The assumption could not be made that either the “ C “ series index or the interim price index measured with reasonable accuracy the general price level or the cost of living.
Therefore, if the Opposition wishes to sustain a logical argument it must adopt a way of making adjustments other than the regimen or the C series index. The court itself has made that fact perfectly clear.
There are two other sections of this problem with which I should like to deal. The first concerns the question of whether the working man has, in fact, lost anything by reason of the change. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has said that in comparing changes in average weekly earnings with the C series index we find that from December, 1953, to December, 1956, average wages have increased by 17 per cent. and that the C series index figure has increased by only 11 per cent. Therefore, we are entitled to say that, insofar as wage justice is concerned, the action of the Arbitration Court was right, because the worker has received an increased percentage of production. The corollary is that the argument of the Opposition that the wage-earner is not joining in the general prosperity is not true.
What have the New South Wales Premier and various trade union leaders said about quarterly cost of living adjustments? I mention the attitude of the Labour party to indicate one fact - that party will blow both hot and cold on any problem. When it suits it, it will take one approach; when it suits it to take another approach, it will do so. The morality and logic of such an attitude is not sound. When quarterly cost of living adjustments were abolished, Mr. Cahill, the Premier of New South Wales, said -
Every time the wage goes up, prices race to a new peak. In the final check, it is always found that wage and salary earners are proportionately so much worse off.
Mr. E. James Harrison interjecting,
– Nevertheless, we get this humbug from the honorable member who has just interjected and from other honorable members opposite. When it suits the Labour party’s argument to applaud the fact that quarterly cost of living adjustments have been abolished, it does so; but now when, because of political motives, honorable members opposite think they can gain some advantage, they are prepared to adopt a different line. I repeat what my colleague and friend, the Minister for Labour and National Service hassaid: We have a high degree of prosperity and full employment. The court is regularly examining wage adjustments and, when it thinks that industry can pay more, it makes an adjustment. The last adjustment was the substantial increase of 10s. a week. I want to make my position and the position of the Government quite clear. We believe in arbitration, as does the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey). We think the court has the working man’s interests at heart and we think that, if it is left free from criticism by political adventurers, it will try to make certain that the working man receives his due and enjoys his benefits as the prosperity of this country rises.
Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– First, I want to make one thing clear. My very good friend, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), did not at any stage level any criticism against the court. His criticism was, and my criticism will be, levelled against this Government. When the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) refers to the Harvester judgment and something that might have been done by Mr. Justice Powers, he underlines why honorable members on this side of the House, who know the industrial requirements of the workers, are speaking to-day. It was because of the principles of the Harvester judgment and the difficulties that were found to exist by Mr. Justice Powers that the 1917 strike occurred. Following the great unrest after World War I., which arose from the principles in the Harvester judgment, the principle of adjusting wages on a quarterly basis was worked out. When that safety valve is destroyed - and the Government is destroying it - the workers are being invited to return to the lawlessness of 1917. It is not a question of what the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) said or of what I will say; it is a question of what is being said in the factories to-day and what this Government told the court.
– Does the honorable member agree with what the honorable member for East Sydney said?
– I disagree entirely with the submissions made to the court on behalf of this Government. Any honorable member who knows anything, and my friend in the auctioneering business should have some knowledge of the workers’ requirements, would know that, if the workers have no money in their pockets, it is no good trying to sell them anything.
– I was an auctioneer seventeen years ago.
– This Government is putting the honorable member back more than seventeen years. I turn now to the submissions made to the court on behalf of the Government. On page 238 of the transcript of 10th December, 1956, Mr. Sheldon said -
I turn now, if the Commission pleases, to make a brief submission on the question as to how the basic wage should be determined. It is om submission-
And he is speaking for this Government - on this occasion, as it was on the last, that the basic wage should be determined in the light of the community’s capacity to pay.
Government Supporters. - Hear, hear!
– Honorable members opposite should not be so ready with their “ Hear, hears!”. Mr. Sheldon continued -
We emphasize again that, when one speaks of the community’s capacity to pay, the conception is that of the community as a whole and not some sector of it.
Mr. Sheldon overlooked, of course, very conveniently that if the basic wage is increased by a flat rate of 10s. throughout Australia, a different purchasing power is given to those in South Australia from the purchasing power given to those in Victoria. The purchasing power in South Australia is different from that in Western Australia and the purchasing power in Victoria is different from that in Tasmania. Industrial unrest between the States is created in that way. Speaking for this Government, Mr. Sheldon, again at page 238 of the transcript, said -
In particular, we would oppose the adjustment of the basic wage based on movements in a price index, whether it be the “ C “ series index or some other or whether it be done quarterly or otherwise.
I emphasize “ or otherwise “. Mr. Sheldon, speaking for the Government, said it opposed any adjustment on any basis. What did the court say? In addition to what was mentioned by the honorable member for East Sydney, the court, at page 39 of the judgment, said -
For reasons stated elsewhere in this judgment the Commission does not regard the 1953 basic wage as a proper starting point.
Every supporter of the Government said that the 1953 decision was a good one. The Premier of New South Wales, in the remark cited by the Minister for Primary Industry, was referring to the 1953 decision. The 1953 decision was found by the Premier of
New South Wales to be wrong, and to-day he is supported by the court. The court said -
For reasons stated elsewhere in this judgment the Commission does not regard the 19S3 basic wage as a proper starting point, and for reasons stated elsewhere in relation to retail price indexes it would, in any event, be unable to calculate with any confidence what rate of wage would to-day be the equivalent in purchasing power of the 1953 wage.
The court formed that opinion on evidence presented by the Government. The judgment continues - and I ask Government
Supporters to listen to this carefully, because this is the opinion of the court and not the opinion of the honorable member for East Sydney, the honorable member for Bendigo, or myself -
Unless and until some more satisfactory method of estimating national product is established the Commission feels that it has no alternative to doing what the Court did in the past, namely, making an assessment to the best of its ability of the state of the economy at the present and in the near future from the indicators which are customarily examined and to estimate therefrom what in its opinion is the highest rate of basic wage which can be sustained without economic damage.
The court condemned this Government for the type of information it provided. Confirmation of that opinion is given by an examination of some of the exhibits presented by the Government. As an instance, I mention exhibit S.21. Referring to this exhibit, Mr. Sheldon said -
Those price movements, of course, have occurred during a period of international tension and that makes the future prospects as to wool prices even more uncertain than usual.
Those are the factors on which the court, in dealing with the basic wage, is expected to base a decision. That is the type of evidence presented by the Government, and the court rejected it. Mr. Justice Ashburner asked -
Did they not start to go up before there was any international tension?
The court rejected one of the main exhibits presented by the Government in support of its case for wage pegging. This Government is turning the courts of Australia into political footballs. The Opposition is not doing it; the Government is doing it.
The next exhibit presented by Mr. Sheldon on behalf of the Government was exhibit No. S.22, a statement by the Treasurer on the balance of payments. One can go right through the exhibits presented by the Government and find that each one had a political flavour. Each one was intended to convince the commission that this Government’s policy should be sustained. Mr. Sheldon said that although the court had done certain things before, the Government believed that on this occasion its views should be upheld. At the opening on 10th December, Mr. Sheldon said -
While the Court indicated in its last judgment that it must reach its own independent decision- and I emphasize the words “ its own independent decision “ -
. based on the material before it, we would submit that it is important that in reaching that decision the Commission should have before it for its consideration the economic state of the country as the Government sees it.
In other words, the Government was demanding from the commission that in addition to giving its own unbiased view, it should be guided by the Government’s submission.
The point I make is that if this Government wants to make a political football of arbitration in Australia it should not blame the Labour party for taking up the challenge. The Labour party is fighting for the restoration to the worker of a decent living standard. It will continue to demand from industry a payment for the worker that is in keeping with the cost of living. We will resist any attempt to enforce in this country the conditions that apply in China and other Asiatic countries. We are determined to provide for the workers of Australia all the things that are necessary to them in 1957.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The fact that only five members of the Opposition are present in the House at the moment is an indication of the fraud and humbug of this urgency motion. The Opposition claims to represent the worker, yet this is all the interest it can take in an important motion such as this! On this side of the House nobody questions the integrity of the motives of the ‘ honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) or the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), but once the Labour party introduced the other speaker, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), into the debate, the true bearing of its case became clear.
Every speaker from the Opposition side of the House has said that he wants to have the quarterly wage adjustments restored. We are told, too, that the regimen is unjust; yet it is proposed that that regimen should be used in determining the restored quarterly adjustments! The case made by the Opposition is based purely on emotional grounds. It has popular appeal in what the Opposition claims to be its fight for higher wages and social justice. Honorable members opposite are told to come into the House and say these things. They do not really believe them. If they based their case on logical grounds, the Government might have some difficulty in answering it, but their case is always based on emotional grounds.
The last speaker did not come along with some simple fact and say, “ Look, there is no social justice in this “. He dealt only with legal quibbles before the Arbitration Commission. That was his strongest point. But the working man does not want legal quibbles or theories. He wants cold hard facts, and he does not get them from the Labour party. The worker does not understand obscure economic theories. He gets in his hand, say, £12 10s. cash; he says he is entitled to more and he wants to know why he cannot get more. On our side of the House we try to do the maximum for the worker. The Commonwealth Arbitration Commission has gone back to the principle of the capacity of industry to pay, which is the fairest principle of all, besides “being supported by logic. We have to get down to logic; not down to emotion.
While the honorable member for Bendigo was discussing the merits and demerits of industry’s capacity to pay, he did not mention the tremendous improvement in the conditions of labour that have taken place during the last six years. I refer to the introduction of long service leave, the provision of annual leave, and numerous other improvements that have been effected by the arbitration courts. A comparison is made between the awards of the State courts and those of the Commonwealth courts. I was interested to hear an interjection by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) in which he said that the basic wage had been frozen under this Government. I remind the House that, at that time, there were five Labour governments in the States and that all their courts immediately followed the lead of the Commonwealth court and froze the basic wage. So, it was not a question of the colour of the government which caused the Arbitration Court to change its policy. It was purely economic laws coming into operation.
Consider what has happened in New South Wales. It is common knowledge that the Parliamentary Labour party overrode the State industrial commission and reintroduced quarterly adjustments. The result is that through the economy of New South Wales that evil thing has been reflected. Education has suffered, hospitals have suffered, and industry has .been set back. Not a single industry in New South Wales has not suffered grievously from that ill-judged action of the Cahill Government. The price of potatoes has controlled the economy of New South Wales. The price of potatoes caused wages to rise, but the workers still could not buy potatoes. If they had been able to buy potatoes perhaps it would not have been so bad, but they did not buy potatoes. Nevertheless, the whole of the economy was governed by the price of potatoes.
Houses are unprocurable in New South Wales because of the prohibitive cost of building, due to the change of wage policy. It has affected every branch of industry. The honorable member for Blaxland spoke about the purchasing power of wages in the different States. Surely that depends upon whether a State government is good or bad. The honorable member for East Sydney sought to mislead the public by talking about the decline in the consumption of butter and other foodstuffs. But our population has changed entirely in the last six years. There are 2,000,000 new people in this country, and they have different tastes. The honorable member did not mention that. He said that the only thing that was controlled in Australia was wages, and he asked why prices were not controlled. I say that there is no control of wages. The Arbitration Commission fixes the minimum wage, but nobody in Australia, as far as I know, is on the minimum wage. Therefore, the question of price control does not enter into the picture.
Can industry pay more? I have here an analysis of Australian industry showing how each £1 received for goods sold is divided -
Paid out for materials - 10s. 4d.
Wages and salaries - 5s. 4½d.
Set aside for depreciation and plant - 4¼d.
Spent in selling product,1s. 9½d.
Paid out in taxation -1s.0½d.
Set aside in reserves for improvements - 5½d.
Paid out to shareholders in dividends - 7¾d.
Honorable members opposite want to increase the wages component, which already is nearly 16s., because the cost of materials consists largely of wages. Any such increase would have to come, of course, out of the 7½d. that is paid out of dividends. It is nonsense. This side of the House wishes to get the maximum it can for the wage-earner, for many reasons, one being that it helps the Government. The more prosperous the people are, the easier is the Government’s task. The more we can raise the standard of living in Australia, the better we can make conditions for people, such as pensioners, who are on fixed incomes. But our efforts must be based on cold, logical facts. The only way for the workers to obtain higher wages is for them to increase production. An appeal to the emotions, and to the avaricious side of men’s nature, is not the way to obtain improved conditions for the wage-earners. Every Government supporter in this chamber would welcome an increase of the people’s wealth. Are not Government supporters supposed to represent the rich? They are supposed also to be interested in company investment and company profits, but where do company profits come from? It is the purchasing power of the people that earns them. The more the wage-earners get, the greater will be Australia’s prosperity. That is a hard-and-fast economic law.
How are awards to be determined? This is a field for impartial tribunals such as the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, in the federal sphere, and the State industrial tribunals in the State spheres. They examine the case put to them, and they award the maximum wage that industry can afford. As the honorable member for Bendigo has said, over the last six years, the conditions of the workers have improved tremendously. This improvement will continue, and will even be accelerated, if the workers come to understand that if they produce more, not by greater effort, but by greater application, they will be entitled to more for themselves, and will receive it. History has shown that this is so. But we must remember that we have to compete on the markets of the world. Despite this, Mr. Cahill, the New South Wales Premier, increased wages for the sole purpose of obtaining some miserable political advantage.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER.Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, I should like-
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put -
That the business of the day be called on.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker - Mr. W. R. Lawrence.)
Majority . ….. 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 9th May (vide page 1293).
Clauses 1 and 2 - by leave - taken together and agreed to.
Clause 3 (Registration).
– Clause 3 provides as follows: -
Section ten of the Principal Act is amended by inserting in sub-section (1.), after the word “ persons “ (first occurring), the words, “ not being persons registered under this Act,”.
Section 10(1.) of the Principal Act provides that -
The Minister may, from time to time, by notice published in the “ Gazette “, require all male persons who -
upon the date specified in the notice -
are British subjects and are ordi narily resident in Australia; or
not being British subjects but being persons ordinarily resident in Australia, are included in a prescribed class of persons; and
have attained the age of seventeen years and have attained, or will attain, the age of eighteen years during such period as is specified in the notice, to register under this Act.
I cannot understand why it is necessary to refer to “ all male persons not being persons registered under this Act “, because if such persons were between the ages of seventeen and eighteen years during the specified time, surely they would have been registered before. I am not opposing the amendment; my question is prompted only because I do not know why the amendment is being made.
– The practice is to register aliens twelve months after British subjects of the same age group have been registered. The reason is to establish beyond doubt residence of the aliens in Australia. We also register with the aliens those who were aliens at the time of the registration of the British subjects twelve months earlier but have become naturalized in the intervening period. If we did not do this, those aliens who were naturalized would avoid having to register. There has always been some doubt whether, under section 10 of the existing act, we could legally require such naturalized British subjects to register. The amendment will put beyond doubt the right to require British subjects who have become naturalized in the intervening twelve months to register with aliens in the same age group. Incidentally, we still have not called up aliens, but we are now at an advanced stage of our negotiations with the foreign governments concerned.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 and 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Preference for naval, military or air force service).
.- Section 14 of the Principal Act provides that-
The prescribed form of registration shall be in such form as will enable a person to indicate (if he so desires) a preference for service with the Naval Forces, the Military Forces or the Air Force and, if a preference is so indicated, the Registrar shall record it.
That section gives a prospective trainee the option to elect to serve in a particular service. I contend that trainees who are called up to undergo a period of training should be given the opportunity to serve continuously, if they elect to do so, or overseas, in the same way as they have been given the opportunity to join the Air Force or the Navy, thus exempting themselves from training with the Citizen Military Forces for the three years following, unless they volunteered to undertake it. The idea behind that provision arises from a defect in the original scheme, from a defence point of view, in that none of the trainees volunteered for service overseas, with the result that mobilization time was increased to six months or eight months, instead of it being from six weeks to eight weeks. The provision was intended to allow for the creation of a special reserve of trained personnel who could serve overseas.
I believe that this suggestion is not unreasonable, and that it could be covered by the present scheme. I suggest that clause 6 is the proper place to incorporate provision for trainees to volunteer for overseas service, or to elect to serve continuously. If trainees were permitted to do that, they would be available as a special overseas reserve force to augment the permanent mixed brigade group. I do not think that the matter should be left in the air in the hope that everything will work out for the best. That is not good enough. Instead of the whole section of the original act being repealed, I think that provision along the lines that I have indicated should be incorporated.
– There is really no need to retain this section in the National Service Act, because under the Defence Act, it is possible for all members of the Citizen Military Forces, having completed their national service training, to enlist for overseas service. They are asked whether they wish to do so.
– I was referring to a time prior to that.
– Before they register?
– When they register.
– There is no real need for that. The reason that this section is being repealed is that the Army will, in future, be the only service to which trainees may go. It has been decided that they will not go into the Navy or the Air Force. On the matter of the six months’ continuous training with the Regular Army, to which the honorable member has referred, it is physically possible, of course, for that to be done, but at this pointI cannot say that it will be done. However, the matter is being very closely examined. If it should be decided that there would be a sufficient number of recruits to warrant the adoption of that system, there is nothing in the act, as it stands, to prevent trainees from enlisting for overseas service and serving with the Regular Army. That is not inconsistent with the proposal to repeal this section. It is being repealed simply because the provision does not now apply to the Navy and the Air Force, which will not in future take recruits from the national service training scheme. Provided that there was a sufficient number of volunteers, the suggestion of the honorable gentleman would be very valuable. AsI have said, the matter is under the close examination of the Military Board at the present time.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 (Changes of address to be notified).
– This clause proposes to amend section 17 of the principal act by adding a new sub-section (3.), to provide that persons who are deemed to have been enlisted for service under the act in the Citizen Naval Forces, the Citizen Military Forces or the Citizen Air Force, shall notify changes of address so that such changes may be recorded and an accurate record kept. I cannot see why the original provision, that is, section 17, of which this new sub-section (3.) will become a part, is left as it is.
– Is left, or is not left?
– Is left. Section 17 reads - (1.) A person who has registered under this Act, not being a person -
Under the proposed new scheme only 12,000 are to be called up to render service under the act. By 1960, 73,000 persons will be in the eligibleclass but only 12,000 of them are to be called up for service. I take it that provision means that a record of changes of address of between 48,000 and 60,000 registered persons, who will not be called up except in the case of emergency, is to be kept. Should there be an emergency I take it that the partly trained reservists would be called up first, and’ there would be plenty of time, therefore, to register and’ call up other persons. It seems to me that the keeping of changes of address of between 48,000 and 60,000 persons who are not required for service will necessitate the employment of a tremendous army of clerks and the use of a huge filing system. I consider that the expense involved would not be justified. Perhaps, I have interpreted the provision wrongly; but, as I read it, it seems to me that the position is as I have stated, and that the registrar, in. spite of. the fact that a person is not likely to be called up, shall issue a new certificate of registration to that person. The cost involved in the employment of staff and the compilation of a filing system for something that is unlikely to be used for any purpose seems to me to be unjustified.
– There is something in the point raised by the honorable gentleman, but 1 can assure him that it is not anticipated in the department that any increase in staff will be necessary. Up to the present it has been the practice to keep records in respect of persons exempted for geographical reasons, and I understand that this can be met within the resources currently available to the department.
– I thank the Minister for his explanation, but I still can see no reason why we should retain a staff just because it is already in existence. Previously, the department had to deal with the registration of from 33,000 to 43,000 trainees a year. The number was then reduced to 25,000, and now it is to be reduced to 12,000, and I can see no good reason for keeping a big registration staff at work. I ask the Minister to have another look at the matter with a view to avoiding unnecessary expense.
– This particular amendment goes further than that. It is designed to enable prosecution at any time, whereas at present a prosecution cannot be brought later than one year after the offence has been committed, and often a year has passed before the offence is discovered. I shall confer with my officers to see whether something on the lines suggested by the honorable gentleman can be done.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 8 and 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 (Remuneration and allowances).
– Section 24 of the principal act which is to be repealed by this clause reads -
Members of Medical Boards, and other persons conducting medical examinations under this Part, shall be paid such fees and allowances as are prescribed.
This provision merely alters the section to provide for such fees and allowances as the Minister determines. I do not know what the difference is.
– Section 24 provides that fees and allowances paid to medical practitioners and others making medical examinations shall be as are prescribed. Previously, no provision existed to authorize payment for radiographic examinations. The amendment remedies that defect. Since it would be most difficult to prescribe by regulation to meet all the different charges made by public hospitals for X-rays, &c, it had been thought advisable to provide that the fees and allowances shall be as determined by the Minister. In practice, we will continue to fix fees in consulation with the Treasury in order to maintain proper consistency with other schemes involving the use of medical practitioners.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 (Call up for service).
– This clause seeks to repeal section 26 of the principal act, which deals with the call up for service. I presume that this is the right place for me to discuss certain things in that respect which were stated in the Minister’s speech, in which he indicated to the House that the method of call up would be by ballot, that the number to be called up would be 12,000, and that those who were not called up, or whose names were not drawn out of the ballot, would have an opportunity to volunteer for service. I understand that the Minister is circulating amendments with regard to one or two of those points. All of those are important principles which should be in the bill because, as the call up for service now stands, the Minister would have the complete say in respect of it. I am not suggesting that I have no confidence in the present Minister but, in politics, the weather changes very rapidly on certain occasions.
– You are telling us!
– Yes, it might change to a new form of Liberal government. Ministers come and go, after all. However, I do not see it changing to a Labour government at the moment. Nevertheless, whatever happens, I do not think it is right, in a bill of this nature, for the House to leave important general principles, »such as the question of the numbers to be called up, the method by which they are selected, namely by ballot, or the question of whether they may or may not volunteer, to the - I was going to say “ whim “ - of the Minister. I understand that the numbers are to be prescribed by regulation, but there is nothing to say that the Minister must do this or that. Any Minister - it might be myself or anybody else, and I do not want to accuse any individual Minister - could, acting under this legislation, handpick 12,000 men to serve. He could decide to call up 6,000 from Melbourne and 6,000 from Sydney, if you want to go to the reductio ad absurdum.
As far as I can gather, any Minister could select the 12,000, or any number required, since the legislation does not provide for a limit of 12,000, by any method that he desired. He could do so by issue of regulation. 1 would respectfully suggest to the Minister that important principles of this nature should be included in the bill, not in detail, but generally, so that if any future Minister, or even the present Minister, wants to make a radical alteration which, in respect of legislation of this nature, affects most families in Australia, it would have to be done by an amending bill and not merely by regulation. I know that when I was Minister for the Interior there was a great old row one afternoon because I suggested that I should have the power, under the Lands Acquisition Act, to delegate some of my authority to the leading officials of the Department of the Interior. Objection was taken that such delegation should not be allowed. I notice that in this measure similar delegation is to be allowed. I am all in favour of delegation, because a Minister cannot administer an act of this nature, or of the nature of the Lands Acquisition Act, unless he can delegate authority. But the delegation of powers under principles embodied in an act is very different from leaving those principles to be carried out by regulation. I would like to express my gratitude to the Minister for discussions that I had with him previously in this connexion, and I hope that in his reply he will be able to assure the committee that on these very major points of principle - namely, the question of volunteering by those not selected, the maximum number to be selected, and the method by which they will be selected - will be embodied in the measure.
– The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes), as he has indicated, was good enough to raise with me, some days ago, the desirability, if practicable, of covering important points in legislative terms in this bill. I can well appreciate the reasons which have moved him to put his suggestions forward. The problem of the relations between the Executive and the Parliament always arises when we are considering how far an attempt should be made to cover, both in point of detail and point of form, issues which arise from time to time. There is a responsibility, I believe, on governments to go as far as they can in expressing their intentions in the form of legislation, but, as a Minister of long experience himself, my colleague knows that there are some practical limits to the extent to which legislation can go in that direction, and he has given one or two illustrations of those limitations.
I think, however, that there is a safeguard in that any considerable change in a scheme of this kind normally calls for alteration, in one aspect or another, of the legislation. I can illustrate that by pointing out to the honorable member for Chisholm that although this legislation was enacted as recently as 1951, this is the fourth occasion, I think, that it has been before the Parliament. Almost every year or every eighteen months it has come back to us for examination or amendment, and there has been opportunity for comment on it by members of the Parliament. I did examine, quite sympathetically, the suggestion that we should try to cover each of these three points by a legislative provision. When the committee reaches clause 15 I shall propose an amendment which will set out explicitly this opportunity to volunteer. Consequently, one of the points raised by the honorable member will be met specifically in the form that he would wish.
As to putting some specific figure as an upper limit to the call-up, I think, having regard to the frequency with which this legislation has been before the Parliament, that any substantial change in the numbers to be called up would be an important matter of government policy which would be stated by any responsible government to the people - as this Government has done on this occasion - before the legislation itself was introduced. Problems can arise, as a result of which some quite drastic reorganization of the National Service Training Scheme is decided upon. There have been two substantial modifications since 1951 in the numbers handled under this scheme. 1 feel that there are reasonable safeguards of the kind that the honorable member would wish which make it unnecessary to include in the bill what might be an embarrassing and restrictive limitation, so I ask the honorable member, on this occasion, not to press that point. I give him an assurance, on behalf of the Government, that if any change in the numbers to be called up is contemplated at any time, full publicity will be given to that proposal. I certainly expect that if any government* of a different persuasion were to succeed the present Government, it would exercise the same responsibility to the public.
As I have already announced, the Government has decided to select by ballot a certain number of young men to be trained under this scheme. It is the reference to the certain number which gives rise to one of the practical problems. If it were merely a case of taking the total number of young men available and saying that of those in that particular age group, a certain percentage would be called up in a year, then the reference to a ballot process for that purpose would not be so very difficult. But the matter is complicated by the fact that the Government intends to take in defaulters without reference to a ballot. It is intended that there shall be some carry-over of persons already within the scope of the scheme. Our best efforts to work out a provision which would indicate our intention to use the ballot in certain instances still leave so wide a discretion necessary to the Minister of the day that we cannot hope to meet all the objections which the honorable member would raise.
I do not think that I can usefully do more at this stage than to repeat to the honorable member that the Government proposes at the outset to employ a method of ballot which will be dependent upon birth dates, but it may transpire that our experience of that method will reveal it to be less satisfactory than we hoped and a more preferable method may be disclosed as time goes on. Therefore, the Government wishes to have a fair degree of flexibility in this matter.
When the committee reaches clause 15, I shall propose a provision which will add to the bill a reference to the opportunity to volunteer for those persons who have not been selected in the ballot and who wish to render this form of service.
.- I made some comment in an earlier debate on the principle of the lottery that is to be instituted for the selection of those who are to be called upon for national training. I then indicated the unsatisfactory character of this method of recruiting. I feel that it is an unscientific approach and gives no guarantee of obtaining the best material available. Furthermore, those called up might not be so interested in training for national defence as others would be, and they would not be so ready to equip themselves with the knowledge of their duties. I say again that the Government is not making the practical approach to this problem that might be expected of it. Possibly this is the first occasion on which this principle has been proposed for the selection of trainees for defence purposes.
– It is the first time that it has been proposed in this country.
– It may have been adopted in other countries, but the authorities in
Australia have no experience of such a plan to enable them to deal with pitfalls that might be encountered. We need a more positive assurance from the Minister regarding the efficiency of the scheme that is proposed. Surely the best material would be provided by voluntary enlistment. Only in that way could we have in the services young men who were vitally interested in becoming efficient units in a defence scheme adequate to the needs of this country. I would earnestly ask that this question be weighed a little more seriously by the Government, and that reasons be given as to why the proposed method should be adopted in preference to the more direct selection of men on the basis of fitness for national training.
– I suggest that clause 15 would be a more appropriate place to discuss this aspect. I might have misled the committee by answering my colleague at this stage.
.- I most emphatically disagree with the remarks of the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin). I do not see how one can judge whether a man is going to be a good or bad soldier by his appearance, or by any other kind of test. The proposed ballot is quite impersonal, and no one knows which birth dates will be drawn. However, I shall be surprised if the astrologers are not faced with some difficulty in foretelling the fate of the young people.
– It is, of course, proposed to have more than one date.
– I know of no practical method whereby one can assess the capacity of a young man to become a soldier. Some good soldiers are small fellows, others are big fellows. The proposed method is somewhat novel, but is nevertheless impersonal.
– While I agree that section 31 deals with deferments, it deals only with classes of deferments and not with the individuals within those classes. When the Minister has decided the classes, he will still come up against the problem of the selection of individuals within those classes. Although I am grateful to the Minister for having gone into this question thoroughly with the staff, I must confess that I consider the bill to be most shockingly drafted-
All sorts of principles which should be in the bill are omitted. It lays down that certain classes shall be exempt and then, later, says that the Minister may exempt such classes as he determines. I have had a fairly long experience of bills and have rarely raised objection in committee to the way in which they have been drafted, but this measure does not appeal to me from any point of view. In view of my criticism of draftsmanship, it may be a matter of the pot calling the kettle black, I cannot see why it would not be possible to put in something like this -
The number of persons to be called up from time to time shall be as determined by the Minister. Unless the call-up for service is within 20 per cent, of universality- or whatever percentage might be agreed upon - the method of call-up shall be by ballot.
– How are defaulters to be dealt with under that arrangement?
– A special clause deals with defaulters.
– They will not be included.
There is a special clause to the effect that defaulters shall be called up irrespective of the ballot. It is simple enough to put a new sub-section into that clause. I am not certain that I agree that defaulters should go in, but I do not see any other way of getting around it at the moment. I hope every honorable member realizes that there is nothing in the bill as it stands, or in the principal act to prevent a Minister from using any method of selection that he may consider desirable. To go to the point of reductio ad absurdum, there is nothing to prevent him from saying, “ I will select them all from one area “. That is not the proper way to frame bills of this nature, affecting as they do a large number of people. We might just as well bring in an act stating that every one between certain ages shall register and be liable for national service training, and that the Minister shall have power to make regulations to carry this into effect. What is an act of Parliament for, if not to state major principles? I do not think that it is fair either to the Minister or to the community to leave such an important decision to the Minister of the day.
– As to the draftsmanship1, the bill has been prepared by the draftsmen who regularly prepare the legislation which comes before this Parliament. I do not claim to be a draftsman. Neither would any of my parliamentary colleagues. The very able officers who translate our policy decisions into legislative form have employed themselves as assiduously upon this bill as upon any other. I do not think it is any better, or any worse, from the drafting point of view, than we could ordinarily hope for. Certainly, the drafting officers had no instructions from me that they are not to translate into legislative form anything that can reasonably and practicably be so translated.
As to the suggestion that selection may be left to the prejudice or caprice of a particular Minister, I point out that this legislation contains rather more safeguard against the ill effects of an individual Minister’s decisions than most measures. At least three other Ministers are directly concerned even after the Navy and the Air elements of the services have been removed from the picture. My department has a purely machinery function in this matter. It tries to organize the registration of the trainees so as to provide the requisite number for the particular service. The policy aspect is the particular concern of my colleague, the Minister for Defence, and, in this case, of the Minister for the Army also. Therefore, I would think that if the Minister for Labour and National Service embarked upon some frolic of his own as to categories, or anything of the sort, he would soon find himself in trouble with the Ministers for whom he merely acts as agent. While there may be some doctrinal force in what the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes) is submitting, there are some very practical safeguards against that kind of thing happening.
.- Honorable members on this side of the House have listened with great interest to what the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes) has said regarding the machinery of this bill. He has obviously examined the clause before us very carefully and has checked it against the original bill. He has the benefit of a substantial background in these matters, and was formerly himself a Minister. When he saysthat the draftsmanship is sloppy we must pay attention to what he says, and when we realize that the measure is setting up a unique and extraordinary system, we are all the more interested. Perhaps he will put his thoughts in the form of an amendment that we may consider later. I do not want to say anything further about it at this stage except to point out a very real difficulty. I think that the Minister himself will agree that the word “ ballot “ is quite an alien word so far as service for one’s country is concerned. The definition is not clear, and a whimsical Minister might place his own construction on it. We have had whimsical Ministers in the past, and we might have them in the future. The Minister has said that no person would be pulled into line, but I have seen the occasion when that has occurred, and even a ballot could not have prevented it. So this may be the time to consider what the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes) has said. If a definitive amendment is to be moved the Opposition will consider it and, if necessary, support it.
.- I take it that this section will prevent the naval and air forces from increasing their numbers by drawing on people who will be called up. I would like the Government to explain why it has chosen this method of differentiating between the services. I should like to know why it will not be used to fill the gaps in the ranks of the naval and air forces with national service trainees after those people have provided the small number required to fill the Army. I believe it is bad to differentiate in this way. It is bad to create any feeling that any one service is desirable and that others are not. Therefore, I raise a formal objection on behalf of the forces that the Government should differentiate between one service and another. It is bad for the Government to create an impression that any one service is more desirable and more of an elite than another.
– I rise to order. I suggest that the honorable member is out of order. The committee has already dealt with clause 6, which concerned the Navy and the Air Force.
– I uphold the point of order. This matter was referred to in dealing with clause 6.
Clause agreed to.
Section twenty-seven of the Principal Act is amended by omitting the words “The part of the Citizen Forces specified in the notice “ and inserting in their stead the words “ the Citizen Military Forces “.
– 1 am sorry to detain the committee, but I have very definite feelings on this bill, and I do not want to incur the risk of being called to order by raising a matter when the committee has passed it. The amendment proposed is merely consequential, but will now read -
A person on whom a notice has been served under the last preceding section-
That refers to the call-up - shall, as from the time at which he presents himself for service, be deemed to have been enlisted for service in the Citizen Military Forces.
The one thing that worries me very much in the whole of this modified national service training scheme is that universality is no longer even an ideal. We are calling up only about one-fifth of those who might be called up for service. I, myself, have had experience of the position that existed in relation to volunteers and conscripts in the old days. Somebody will say, “Why pick on me? Why should I have to serve for six months while other people do not have to give that service, and therefore get an advantage over me in ordinary civilian life ? “
As I said, in speaking on the second reading of the bill, all those who returned from service overseas know what it means to start off in competition with those who, for one reason or another - and it may have been a good reason - were not overseas. Although the term of service is only six months, I feel that the Government should try to devise a method of giving some compensating allowance or rehabilitation benefit in order to make up for that definite disability. I ask the Government to consider that request. One person has to give six months’ service and another does not. Probably, there is a variety of ways of compensating the former person. I bring this matter up under this clause because it provides that, after a person has been called up “ under the preceding sub-section “, he is then enlisted for service in the Citizen Military Forces.
Whether or not a suggestion of the nature that I have made could be embodied in a new clause I do not know, but I presume that when a man is enlisted for service in the C.M.F. he comes under all the sections of the Defence Act that apply to the C.M.F., including those relating to pay and allowances. For some time past, discontent has been caused by the fact that volunteers in the C.M.F. have had to pay income tax on their military pay and allowances. Of course, volunteers will not be affected by this bill, but all the national service trainees who will be enlisted under this bill will become members of the C.M.F. I ask the Government to consider whether an amendment could not be inserted in the bill, either as a new clause or as part of clause 12, which would provide that a person -
Shall be deemed to have enlisted for service in the Citizen Military Forces and be entitled to such pay and allowances as are prescribed in the Defence Act but shall not be liable for assessment for such pay and allowances under the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Act 1936-56.
I put that suggestion forward very strongly for consideration by the Government. I think that every member in this House will agree that if one eligible person in five compulsorily has to serve for six months in the defence services of this country, a compensating allowance of some kind should be made to him to compensate for the fact that he serves while four-fifths of the number eligible do not. I suggest that one way of meeting that disability would be by providing that the military pay and allowances of these men should not be subject to assessment under the income tax legislation. If that is done, in fairness, the House should also proceed to amend the Defence Act so that the same provision may apply to volunteers in the C.M.F. In other words, it should apply to all members of the C.M.F., but, under this bil], we cannot deal with anybody but those who are enlisted in the C.M.F. as national service trainees.
As one who has been through it myself, I strongly suggest to the Minister that now we are abandoning the ideal of universality for various reasons which it would be improper for me to mention at this stage of the debate since they were discussed in the second-reading debate, we should provide in some way such as I have suggested for a compensating benefit for those who will be called up for service.
– I am glad that the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes) has raised this question, but 1 think that he will be one of the first to agree that it has been the custom in the past, when exemptions from the PaY. ment of income tax and social services contributions have been granted, to provide for those exemptions in the income tax legislation itself. I think that that is the more appropriate place to embody such an amendment as he has suggested.
This bill relates to National Service trainees. I think that the honorable gentleman will also know that unless this matter is given the most careful consideration we might be in danger, perhaps, of creating anomalies, not only insofar as national service trainees are concerned, but also insofar as volunteers are concerned. I remind the honorable gentleman that in certain cases volunteers overseas receive not income tax exemptions but other allowances. The Government is glad the honorable gentleman has raised this question and has pointed out the circumstances associated with it. I assure him that, if appropriate representations are made, they will be fully considered by the Government.
.- I have always felt that the full amount paid to those who render voluntary service in the Citizen Military Forces should be free of income tax. Now that we are destroying the universal basis of national service and selecting those who are to serve by ballot, it is all the more important that we recognize voluntary service. In recognizing it, we should say to those who are willing to train so that they will be able to defend their country, “ If you are prepared to train and to serve, we will not tax the emoluments that you receive for that service “.
I was very glad to hear the Minister say that he is prepared to suggest to the Government that consideration be given to this important matter. It was important before this bill was introduced; it is 100 times more important now, because our manpower now will largely depend upon voluntary service. If we are to have only 12,000 national service trainees out of 60,000 eligible each year, our defence forces must largely come from volunteers. In its turn, that means that there must be some inducement to people to volunteer. They must feel that the country recognizes and appreciates their service, and does not tax them on the emoluments they receive for what is virtually service out of normal working hours.
.- Honorable members on the Government side of the House show some concern about taxation and suggest that the service pay of those who are called up should be exempt from taxation. I plead with them to consider the question of compensation for men who are called up for service. Some glaring anomalies exist in the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act and some shockingly unjust decisions have been given. It is particularly appropriate to point to those decisions in connexion with the service of national service trainees. I have had many discussions on this matter with the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) and this seems to be the appropriate moment to bring it, at least briefly, before the committee.
– I do not think it would be in order to develop it at any length.
– Does the Minister think the subject is too important?
– This is a very wide subject.
– It is a very touchy one. I shall raise it now or on the adjournment, whichever is preferred, but I feel that we should be able to discuss it at this juncture.
– I shall not exclude discussion on this matter, but I point out that a later clause deals with a related matter. This subject could be discussed then.
– The compensation offered after three trainees were drowned at Muswellbrook or Singleton has been shown to be shockingly inadequate. The parents of one of the unfortunate boys live in the electorate of the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin). The parents of another of the boys live in my electorate, and a Liberal member, the name of whose electorate escapes me for the moment is dealing with the case of the third boy. Because of a storm, the creek was swollen, but the order was given to get the jeeps across the creek. As a result, three boys were drowned. I have no need to harrow the feelings of honorable members by giving details, but I shall discuss the question of compensation. When we approached the Minister, who was very helpful, we ran into trouble arising from the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. We unearthed a shocking state of affairs. Though legally the accidents fitted within the pattern of the act and though these hazards of universal training touched the conscience of the people, when it came to the question of compensation the act was so narrow and the interpretation of it so mean-spirited that I made representations to the Minister for the Army, and in due course he made representations to the Treasury.
If those boys had received injuries which resulted in their death outside the Army - for instance, arising from work in a factory - the awards made by compensation courts show that the amount paid would have been very high. Under the Commonwealth Compensation Act, the amount is limited. In the case of the late Private Jones, his parents have been asked to accept £250. In the case of the boy who lived in the electorate of the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith, the amount is considerably higher. The lady in my electorate received a questionnaire framed in most aggressive, legalistic jargon, which she could not understand. My complaint on her behalf is that the amount was completely inadequate. This boy, like other youngsters of eighteen years of age, gave some sort of general support to the household, but it could not be said that he was the sole support of his mother. He had an ailing father and a sister who worked. When I made the plea that the question should be looked at from the humanistic rather than the bureaucratic side, I received a broadside of two pages from the legal authority. The lady received a questionnaire which she considered offensive, and I agree with her view. It asked questions such as, “ If your son paid you £5 a week board and it is now estimated that it costs £5 a week to feed a boarder, what have you lost? “. The questions were not quite so crude as that, but that is how they appear when they are translated. The Minister was shocked by the language and wrote accordingly. He received a letter from the head of his department which only confused the issue, because the officer was stooging for the compensation authority.
If we are to have even a short-circuited system of call up and if 12,000 trainees are to be under our care, I suggest to the Government and to the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes) that we examine not only the question of income tax exemptions or remissions but also the question of compensation. I ask honorable members to consider how grievous this subject must be to the parents concerned. It does not matter whether the boys are lost in manoeuvres or in action; to the parents concerned, they have lost their children who served in universal training. The parents then run into a sort of blank wall and a great deal of discourtesy arising from the way in which the act has been framed. They have to go wherever they can to get an explanation of their rights. They are told by the military authorities that their sons have done a great job and it is highly regrettable that they should have lost their lives while serving. But nothing is done to give the parents something solid and practical by way of useful compensation.
If this is not a matter for an amendment at this stage, surely we should all look at the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. The Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act contains some shocking anomalies. Some of its provisions are the acme of meanness. If this is the basis of compensation it is very bad for the ordinary public servant, but in the special case of accidents to servicemen serving under a compulsory training system, something should be done in other legislation. There are ex gratia payment provisions under almost every act.
We should try to correct the anomaly that has been revealed because other similar cases might arise. We do not feel very happy - and I am sure Government members do not either - to think that we have a rigid, iron-clad compensation act, administered with a terrorist approach by the Treasury, which is determined to give the minimum of compensation to the parents of these three servicemen concerned. If the Minister is considering the question of taxation, I would like him to give me a reply to questions I have asked relating to compensation for members of the Military Forces.
– The clause under discussion has nothing to do with either of the subjects raised by honorable members opposite. Actually the amendment is necessary only because the Navy and the Air Force are no longer to have national service trainees and only the Army caters for the Citizen Military Forces. Dealing with the unfortunate cases mentioned by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act applies, as we know, to national service trainees. The basis of compensation payable is calculated, after inquiry, on the extent to which a deceased trainee’s parents or relatives were dependent upon him. That basis prevails in all other compensation cases. So, it is simply a matter of proving the extent to which the relatives or the near relatives have suffered financial loss as the result of his death. In the particular cases to which the honorable member referred, there was a differentiation inasmuch as the parents of two of the unfortunate lads were compensated at a higher rate than the parents of the other.
– Nobody has accepted the money yet.
– That is so. The Commissioner decided that £250 was the amount which should be allowed in accordance with the information available to him. That amount was contested by the honorable member in correspondence to me. I took the matter up and discussed it very fully with him, and a questionnaire was sent out. Whilst one may say that, looking coldly at the questions, they did not appear to be very human, it is very difficult to frame questions on a matter in which a very precise answer is to be given. Therefore, the questions had to be extremely precisely stated. Up to this date those questions have not been answered. If they are answered, the case will be re-opened in the light cf the answers.
– I am answering the questions on behalf of the constituent, and they will be fairly strong answers.
– I do not mind. 1 will be the happiest man in the world if the questions are very fully answered, and the
Commissioner will go into the matter in the light of those answers. I am sure it is the desire of the Government to see that proper compensation, in accordance with the act as it now stands, is given and that there is no cheese-paring. After all it is a great tragedy in the lives of these people and it is very difficult to assess in pounds, shillings and pence the loss that has been sustained. However, if the questionnaire is returned 1 am sure the Commissioner will re-examine the case in which the honorable member for Parkes is particularly interested, because in one of the other cases I think the amount of compensation awarded was £600.
– Little enough, too.
– That may be so. I am not arguing that. There would appear to be some room for a re-examination of the case in which £250 was awarded. I assure the honorable member that that will be done. However, I point out that these matters should be discussed on some amendment to the compensation act rather than on this clause.
.- I propose to have something to say in regard to this aspect of the matter. It seems quite appropriate that only to-day, in reply to a series of questions which I had put on notice, I have received some very illuminating information regarding this question of compensation to members of the services who die in peace-time.
– I will only allow discussion of a matter which is somewhat relevant. I shall not allow a long debate on the merits and demerits of the compensation act. I can only allow discussion of the conditions of enlistment. That is all that this clause deals with.
– This is a most important aspect of the conditions of enlistment, particularly to parents of trainees. If I were going to enlist in the services, one of the things I would want to know would be how the Government would treat my dependants in the event of my suffering death or injury whilst a serving member of the forces. Because of that, I think that the payment of compensation is most important.
The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) tried to get around the issue by putting all the responsibility on to the Commissioner. If the Commissioner is tied down by the terms of the act, then it is the
Government that must accept the responsibility and not the Commissioner. It was the Labour government which first extended the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act to cover such cases. Previously they were given nothing at all. Labour did not remain long enough in office after the passage of the legislation to determine, as a result of experience, how it was functioning. But I have no hesitation in saying that the next Labour government will certainly look at this and materially amend the provisions to see that a greater measure of justice is done to the people affected.
Let me show to members of the House the parsimonious attitude of the Government on this question of payment of compensation. The number of members of the services who have died in peace-time is not inconsiderable. Between 1948 and 1956, 1,068 members of the forces died in peacetime. Yet all that the Government has paid in compensation in this period of nine years is £246,000. That works out at an average of £230 a person.
As I have said, I do not blame the Commissioner for Employees’ Compensation for these things, because he must function within the confines of his powers under the act. One of the things that is not taken into account in determining compensation is the future assistance that the deceased person might have given to those dependent upon him. I raised in this House the case of an Air Force man who died in the Lithgow hospital from injuries received when a shell exploded during the destruction of some surplus equipment. His aged parents, to whose maintenance he had materially contributed, were unable to complete the questionnaire sent out by the commissioner. There was a considerable amount of correspondence between them and the authorities. Among other things, the parents were asked how much their son had actually contributed each week, and what was the total for each year; how it had been expended; how much of it had been spent on maintaining the boy; and how much had gone to the maintenance of the parents. Many questions of that kind were asked. When the mother said that the boy had been a very good son, and had helped his parents to purchase furnishings and other requirements for the home, the authorities asked for receipts, and for other evidence that the son had actually paid for the goods purchased. That is the sort of humiliation to which this aged couple, and others, no doubt, have been subjected by these questionnaires. It is most important that the whole procedure should be overhauled. The aged couple in question did not originally seek compensation. Eventually, they received £200.
– I rise to order. What relation has this discussion to the clause now before the committee? I submit that the honorable member should not be allowed to continue further with this line of discussion.
– Order! I have already ruled that discussion concerning conditions of enlistment is allowable, but the honorable member for East Sydney is now discussing conditions of compensation - a vastly different matter - and he may not continue on that line. I rule him out of order.
– With all due respect-
– Order! I have ruled that the honorable member may not continue the same line of discussion.
– I wish only to ask you one question, Mr. Chairman: Why did you not rule previous speakers out of order? Why have you waited patiently in order to restrict your ruling to me?
– Order! I gave the honorable member for Parkes ample opportunity to state his case, and I afforded the Minister for the Army opportunity to reply to him. I said that their remarks were somewhat irrelevant, but that I would allow the case to be stated, and the Minister to reply to it. But we must now get back to the clause. I think that I have given a fair ruling.
– I think that you have ruled me out of order merely because I was embarrassing the Government.
– Order! The honorable member may not canvass my ruling. He may not proceed with his remarks if he is not going to discuss conditions of enlistment.
– I regard the matters that I was discussing as conditions of enlistment.
– Order! The Chair rules otherwise.
– I wish to discuss only the limited matter of the arguments that have been advanced during the consideration of this clause, principally by Government supporters, in support of the suggestion that pay received for voluntary part-time military service should not be subject to income tax. I know that the view that such pay should not be taxable is very widely held among men serving in the Citizen Military Forces and in the reserves of the three services. I consider that opinion to be erroneously held, and I believe that it would be useful for me to state the arguments against exempting such pay from income tax.
– Does the Minister refer to pay for service in the Citizen Military Forces?
– Yes. I think that many thoughtful people have heard only the arguments in favour of exemption, and have not considered the reasons why this pay is not exempted from income tax. The basis of the whole argument for exempting C.M.F. pay from income tax is that men serving in the C.M.F. are engaging in a voluntary activity which is of very great value to the community. There is no doubt about that. For years after World War II., until I was given responsibilities which no longer allowed me time to serve in the citizen forces regularly, I annually trained in the Naval Reserve. For that training, I received pay which was by no means an inconsiderable addition to my income. I have mentioned that merely to indicate that I personally am well aware of the claims for the exemption of this pay from income tax.
As I have said, the argument advanced is that the service for which the pay is received is of very great national importance, and that it should be encouraged. It is argued that one way to encourage it is to exempt from income tax the pay received for such service. The first answer to that argument is that exemption from income tax is not a proper reward for important and valuable service to the community. If exemption begins there, where will it stop? One might ask whether a similar exemption should be extended to church workers, to social workers, and to people who engage in scientific work for the benefit of mankind.
One can think of a wide range of voluntary activities which are of great value to the community. Service in the C.M.F. is one of them. The second argument against exemption is that it is hardly appropriate to choose a means of rewarding voluntary service, which considerably benefits the well-to-do and gives no benefit to the man of very small means. Let us consider the position of an apprentice, who receives a very small weekly income. His service is no less valuable to the community than that of a business or professional man with a large income, or that of a land-holder who receives a large income from property. The service of all is of equal value to the community. Exemption from income tax would be of considerable value to a man with a large income, but would be of virtually no value to an apprentice with a small income.
The argument in support of the exemption of C.M.F. pay from income tax is supported, in the minds of many members of the C.M.F., by the idea that the military pay puts them into a higher income tax bracket where the rate of tax on their whole income is higher. That is a completely fallacious argument, because the income tax laws are so drafted that no one can be worse off because he earns more. I do not want to weary the committee, most members of which are already well aware of the position, with a detailed explanation. I shall say only that a man with a taxable income of £500 a year pays a certain rate of tax. A man with a taxable income of £5,000 a year pays exactly the same rate of income tax on the first £500 of his income, and the rate is progressively increased on a graduated scale. Therefore, it is not possible, under our taxation law, for a man to become worse off because his C.M.F. pay increases his income and he pays a higher rate of tax on his total income than he would have paid on his income without the addition of military pay.
Let me return now to where I began. I fully recognize, as I am sure do members of the Government generally, the great national importance of voluntary service in the C.M.F. We recognize the need to encourage it, but the suggestion that C.M.F. pay should be exempted from income tax has no logical foundation, as I have explained. Some members of the C.M.F. have told me that they are out-of-pocket because they have to meet the expenses of travel, of unit mess subscriptions, and the like. I think that they would be on very much better ground if they were to examine the idea of relieving themselves of undue income tax liability by having those expenses allowed as deductions instead of claiming total exemption of C.M.F. pay from income tax, because such a claim, as I have stated, has no logical foundation.
Bill returned from the Senate, without amendment.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to establish a Wheat Research Trust Account, and for purposes connected therewith.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to set out the details of plans which will result in new research into the scientific and economic problems of the wheat industry. The growers are providing their share of the money and the Commonwealth will add its share. The total amount will then be used for additional research.
This is the third industry whose representatives have agreed to a plan to finance research into industry problems. Similar arrangements, differing in detail to meet special circumstances in each case, exist for wool and tobacco. The introduction of this legislation is a landmark in the history of the Australian wheat industry, because it opens the way to a concerted attack on industry problems by drawing on the skill and experience of research workers who specialize in different fields associated with wheat production and marketing.
It is hardly necessary to mention the very great importance of the wheat industry in Australia. Second only to wool, it has provided the basis for Australia’s development. The Australian standard of living is founded in no small part on the economic health of this great industry. About onefifth of Australia’s farms grow wheat, and the value of the Australian crop in the last three years has ranged from £92,000,000 to £130,000,000. Much of this wheat has been consumed at home, but earnings from sales overseas continue to be a major source of export income. In recent years exports of wheat have been valued at between £66,000,000 and £78,000,000, an appreciable contribution to our export income. Furthermore, the wheat industry provides employment for large numbers of Australians, not only on farms, but also in associated industries. For example, the value of superphosphate sales to the wheat industry was about £4,500,000 in 1955-56, and it is an important end user of machinery and chemicals of many kinds.
In recent years, while maintaining its position as a major source of overseas income and of employment for Australians, the wheat industry has undergone significant changes in techniques of production. A whole range of scientific advances have found their application in the wheat industry, some based on the results of painstaking research under Australian conditions, and others founded on advances in overseas countries which have had a role here in Australia. The work of Australian wheatbreeders has not been surpassed anywhere in the world.
Sixty-one years ago William Farrer started his wheat breeding work at Lambrigg, not far from where we are now sitting. He pioneered new ideas in plant breeding and in 1901 released his famous wheat called “ Federation “. Let me recall Professor Robert D. Watt’s comment: “ It is not often given to many men to alter the appearance of the whole landscape, as Farrer did with this variety, the dark brown heads of Federation replacing the pale golden colour of most of the varieties which it supplanted “.
Perhaps even more significant is the fact that, good as they were, few Farrer varieties are grown to-day because they have been replaced by even better varieties also bred in Australia. Men like Professor W. L. Waterhouse, who retired a few years ago from his work at Sydney University, have laid a foundation of new wheat varieties and of trained personnel. Given adequate money for the purpose, wheat breeding can be expanded to produce new varieties suited to the special environments of our wheatgrowing areas, suited to requirements of our markets and to meet new challenges from new diseases. The need to improve the quality of our wheat crop is being more widely recognized, and the spur to analysis of the problems involved in doing this can be provided by making more money available for research.
The basis of any successful research programme in the wheat industry must be the analysis of soil fertility problems and their relation to rotational and cultivation systems of various kinds. Associated with this are the studies of cereal chemistry designed to relate quality variations in the wheat grain to environmental factors and to different aspects of soil fertility. A good example of this is work in progress at the Wagga Agricultural Research Institute in New South Wales, where new aspects regarding the quality of wheat starch are being investigated. Decentralized work of this kind, drawing on the special skill of different scientists, is the kind of work to which the funds from the proposed trust account can be devoted.
Recent experience in overseas markets indicates clearly that we have prospects of selling more wheat if we can produce a quality higher than our present f.a.q. There is little doubt that our market outlook would be greatly improved if we were producing more hard or medium hard high quality wheat. There are some regions in Australia where these classes of wheat can readily be grown. There are other regions where more research is necessary into conditions under which quality improvement can be achieved without lowering yield. This will need field experiments and studies of rotational systems including the economic aspects, fertilising techniques and varietal trials, and also fundamental plant breeding activities. There is the additional need to increase our knowledge of quality in wheat, as related to millers’ requirements, in an age in which baking techniques have changed and are still changing. Research into practical commercial techniques of testing wheat quality is also necessary.
Another phase of research of great importance in Australia is the problem of mechanization in the industry. We have a long history of pioneering and invention in this field. Ridley’s stripper and McKay’s combined harvester were early and remarkable examples of this work. An aspect of this research is the development of machines better suited to cultivation operations under the wide range of soil types used for wheatgrowing. The expansion of the bulkhandling method of harvesting and transporting wheat has done much to reduce costs and remove some of the arduous manual labour involved in wheat production.
Many changes influencing production methods and the distribution of the wheat industry are under way in Australia. It is only by the establishment of a broadly based research programme that we can maintain our position in this fiercely competitive industry, and provide Australia’s wheat-growers with the “ know how “ to protect their competitive position against producers in overseas countries. We need to keep these changes under constant review, to assess their importance, and to be ready to use our research resources in a way designed to help the Australian wheat-growers.
While the emphasis has been on research into agronomic production problems, I would not want to leave the impression that this alone would constitute a wellrounded research programme for the industry. There is also a need for economic research into production and marketing problems, to provide more detailed information on the cost structure of the industry, the effects of changes in costs and prices on the incomes of wheat-growers, and the way in which new techniques of production founded on scientific research can be introduced and their acceptance encouraged. Analysis of the factors slowing up the adoption of technological change also come within the scope of economic research of this kind.
This bill is the outcome of negotiations that have been going on for some time. The wheat-growers’ organizations, the States and the Commonwealth, have all been concerned; and the proposals that have received the approval of all parties are now presented.
I should like to record my appreciation of the work done by the Australian Wheat
Growers Federation which, as the representative of Australian wheat-growers, has endorsed the proposals submitted to introduce a tax on the wheat produced. The tax will be administered by collections from the Australian Wheat Board, and the effect will be that the growers will receive the first advance, less the tax of one farthing a bushel. This represents about £1 for every 1,000 bushels, and, I am sure, represents a very good investment for Australian wheat-growers. Total proceeds will be well over £100,000 each year. For the 1956-57 crop, it would be £125,000 approximately, and on a crop of 160,000,000 bushels total tax proceeds would be about £170,000.
It is proposed to impose the tax on the 1956-57 crop, so that the plan can get under way without delays which would result from waiting for the 1957-58 crop now about to be sown. This aspect of the proposal has the support of the Australian Agricultural Council, as well as the Australian Wheat Growers Federation. The growers wish to have the disposal of the money they supply, and there is to be a committee in each mainland State nominated by the State Minister for Agriculture. There will be a majority of grower members from the Australian Wheat Growers Federation on each of these committees, together with other members according to the varying needs of the different States. The State committees will allocate the tax funds to research. Wheat crops vary in size from State to State, and the effect of this provision is that each State committee will allocate the tax paid by growers in its own State. So the States with the most wheat will have the most tax to allocate. That is the system that the growers want, and it is quite reasonable that they should control the funds that they supply.
There will also be a Wheat Industry Research Council, lt will consist of: - One representative of the Department of Primary Industry; two representatives of wheat-growers; five representatives, being one from each of the Departments of Agriculture of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia; one representative of the universities of Australia; one representative of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The council will be a co-ordinating body, co-operating with the State committees, and avoiding duplication.
One of its important duties will be to recommend the appropriate expenditure of the funds supplied by the Commonwealth. It will be seen that the additional work is to fit into the research scheme. Over the years valuable work has been done by research workers in the universities, the State Departments of Agriculture, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. In the expanded programme that is made possible by this scheme the existing research bodies will naturally find scope for additional work, and the money to carry it out.
The State committees can be expected to spend most of the money in research carried out by the institutions in their own State; but at times a State may benefit most by bearing part of the cost of research carried out in another State. Reciprocity of that kind will be possible under the act. It is obvious, too, that the Commonwealth Council can do valuable work because it will know what programmes are being carried out all over Australia. In consultation with the State committees it will be possible to improve the efficiency of the scheme by passing on information about desirable lines of research in different places. The Commonwealth Council will recommend the expenditure of the money supplied by the Commonwealth. Here there are obvious means of getting good results from the scheme. The Comonwealth funds can be used as additional funds in a State where some project needs more money; they can be used to fill in gaps in State programmes; and they can be used for desirable research that for some reason is not being carried on elsewhere.
It will be noted that the ways in which research is to be carried out are not stated; they are left completely open for selection when the money is allocated for definite lines of research. In fact, there are research institutions in all States, and the amount already being spent year by year is much greater than the amount to be brought in by this plan. Nevertheless, the tax on growers, plus the Commonwealth appropriation, will add a substantial amount to the sum that is at present being spent for research into wheat problems. The point is that the money now provided will be spent on additional research that otherwise would not be carried out; but obviously the research bodies that have proved themselves over the years will not be supplanted. They will be given funds so that they can carry on the additional research.
The bill is the outcome of negotiations in the Australian Agricultural Council and with the organized wheat-growers. It gives expression to the wishes of the growers that research in their industry should continue and should increase; it gives expression to their conviction that the industry itself should suply funds for its own future benefit. It is one way in which growers express their appreciation of what wheat research has done for them in the past. They know that in wheat production they must keep fully in line with scientific developments here and overseas. Perhaps, most of all, this plan expresses the determination of Australian wheat-growers to keep on producing wheat successfully in face of all the competition that the world can bring.
May I mention, Mr. Speaker, that I have agreed with my friend, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) that this bill and the Wheat Tax Bill 1957, which is a cognate measure, be debated concurrently on the motion for the second reading, and that, subsequently, the normal procedure be followed in respect of each of these measures.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
– I move -
Imposition of tax on wheat.
That a tax be imposed, and be levied and paid, upon wheat -
Rate of tax.
Tax payable by the Board.
Reduction of tax.
That where, before the commencement of the Act passed to give effect to this Resolution -
Deduction of tax.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. McMahon and Mr. Hasluck do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. McMahon, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
It is not often that a section of the community asks the Government to tax it; but that rare event is the reason for the bill now being considered. The Wheat Tax Bill is a bill to place a tax of a farthing a bushel on wheat delivered by growers to the Australian Wheat Board. With it goes the Wheat Research Bill, and that bill will provide that the tax receipts are to be used for research; and specifically for research that will benefit the wheat industry. As the general purpose of the proposals is dealt with in the complementary bill, I will, at this stage, simply describe the purpose of the Wheat Tax Bill.
The wheat-growers, through their organization, the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, have endorsed proposals for a tax on the wheat they produce. Growers throughout Australia deliver their wheat to the Australian Wheat Board for marketing, and they are paid for it through the board. It is convenient therefore to tax the Wheat Board; and so to collect the total amount due in one sum, without troubling some 60,000 wheat-growers for individual payments of small amounts. The board will make an adjustment when it pays to growers the amounts received by the wheat pool concerned from the sale of the growers’ wheat. The growers then will get the normal pool return, less this tax. In practice, from the growers’ viewpoint, there will be a deduction of a farthing from the first advance in each pool.
The tax is to be a farthing a bushel. The grower who delivers 3,000 bushels of wheat is often taken as a representative grower. On 3,000 bushels the tax will be £3 2s. 6d. Reckoning from crop deliveries we have just under 120,000,000 bushels delivered in the present season. From that 1956-57 crop in the No. 20 wheat pool the receipts will be nearly £125,000. In a normal season with deliveries of 160,000,000 bushels or a little more the tax will bring in about £170,000. This is roughly £1,000 income from every 1,000,000 bushels of wheat. Our wheat crops vary so much that the amounts received must be expected to fluctuate greatly from year to year; but the figures given show that the wheatgrowers will be making a notable addition to the funds for wheat research.
The tax is made retrospective so that it will include the 1956-57 wheat crop; and deliveries of that crop have been completed before this. Nobody likes retrospective legislation, especially retrospective taxation, but the alternative is to postpone the operation of the scheme for a year. The growers’ organizations, and the Australian Agricultural Council, endorse the scheme. They want it to be brought into operation as soon as is practicable so that the funds for more research will be assured. In this case retrospective action is meeting the expressed wishes of the growers who will meet the tax.
One notable feature of the bill requires explanation. Voluntary contributions, made through the Wheat Board for the purpose of wheat research are offset against the tax now imposed. The provision applies to donations made this season before the operation of the tax. This provision is to meet the position in Western Australia. That State has led the way with many notable innovations so far as wheat is concerned; and it has led the way with research. In the west 80 per cent, of the wheat-growers are making voluntary contributions of a farthing a bushel for research, and the money is deducted by the Wheat Board, which pays it to the research institute. The contributions in Western Australia this year were £23,000. Naturally, no one wants to penalize these growers by making them pay double; and as that would be the effect of adding the tax to the voluntary payment it has been agreed that the voluntary payment will, in effect, be treated as tax paid in advance.
A point worth mentioning is that the Western Australian figures show how much wheat-growers appreciate the need for wheat research. There 80 per cent, of them are voluntary contributors of funds, and I think that the figure shows how much the wheat-growers there and in other States support the proposals; and the proposals come as much from the wheat-growers as they do from all the Australian governments represented on the Australian Agricultural Council. This is a bill with a worthy object, and as such I commend it.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed (vide page 1335).
Clause 12 agreed to.
Clause 13 (Service outside Australia).
.- I oppose this clause because I feel that it has been drafted under a misconception. It proposes the deletion of certain words from section 28 of the principal act, which reads -as follows: -
A person is not liable to render service under this Ac: beyond the limits of Australia unless he has volunteered as prescribed for service beyond those limits.
The clause proposes that the words “ unless he has volunteered as prescribed for service beyond those limits “ shall be deleted. The obvious intention was to make amendments consequential to the decision that national service trainees shall not now go into either the Navy or the Air Force, but in my opinion the fact has been overlooked that national service trainees, when joining the Citizen Military Forces, volunteer, in many instances, for service overseas. Consequently, I consider that the words “ unless he has volunteered as prescribed for service beyond those limits “ must remain in the principal act. It is obvious that a person cannot volunteer for service in a force in respect of which he is compulsorily made to serve. Therefore, if members of the C.M.F. wish to serve overseas, provision must be made for them, as persons who have been compelled by the National Service Act to undertake national service training and, later, training in the C.M.F., to volunteer for service overseas.
I feel that this clause has been drafted in error. I do not think that the Government ever intended to alter the existing system, under which it is quite common for trainees, after completing their 98 days’ national service training and joining a C.M.F. unit, to volunteer for service overseas in order to bring them into line with other members of the unit who, in their original enlistment, so volunteered.
I have discussed this matter with the Minister and I understand that he will not press the committee to agree to the clause. Tn that case, the procedure will be simple, in that the committee will vote against the clause and the result will be that section 28 will remain unaltered.
– Th3 honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) did discuss this matter with me and I have taken the opportunity to consult the Parliamentary Draftsman about it in order to make quite sure that the result envisaged by the honorable member and by the Government will follow if the course he proposes is adopted. So far as I can see at the moment, that would be so if we did not agree to the clause. I am willing, therefore, to have the committee negative the proposed amendment of the act as it is presented in the clause.
However, I intend to give my colleague, the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) an opportunity to examine what we are doing here, so that if there is any over-riding reason, which does not occur to either the draftsman or myself at the present time, why the bill should stand as now drafted, we shall be able to rectify the matter in another place. It would then come back to us in that amended form. I am, therefore, prepared to accept the suggestion of the honorable member.
.- I support what the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) has said. My suggestion is that the words “ as prescribed “ be deleted from section 28. I feel that that would serve the purpose that we seek. If it can be done merely by voting against this clause, that is all right, but I think it will be found that the words “ as prescribed “ were included originally because the Navy and the Air Force were affected. The words are now redundant and should be deleted.
– I thank the Minister for the way in which he has studied the effect of this clause. I agree with the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes), but I am not quite certain whether we will achieve what we desire by deleting the clause. I cannot find anything here which will allow a national service trainee to volunteer for overseas service. If the amendment as originally suggested were accepted and the words “ unless he has volunteered as prescribed for service beyond those limits “ were deleted, section 28 would read, “ A person is not liable to render service under this act beyond the limits of Australia.” If we eliminate the clause altogether there seems to be nothing left which will allow any national service trainee to volunteer for overseas service. As the honorable member for Sturt has just pointed out very clearly, a man cannot very well volunteer for the Citizen Military Forces if he is compulsorily enlisted in them. If he cannot do so - it is liable to have a detrimental effect upon his chances of promotion, even if he is a member of the C.M.F. for four years. Almost all, if not all, of the officers and senior non-commissioned officers of the C.M.F. have volunteered for longer service, and overseas service - and rightly so. Therefore, I rather agree with the honorable member for Maribyrnong that the section should read -
A person is not liable to render service under this Act beyond the limits of Australia unless he has volunteered for service beyond those limits.
It could probably be done by regulation, but it would be better to insert another clause in the proper place, stating that if any national service trainee, after being enlisted in the C.M.F., wished to volunteer for overseas service, he could do so. I cannot see how, at present, that would be possible.
– There is no disagreement between honorable members who have spoken and the Government as to the result desired. I suggest that we follow the course indicated by the honorable member for Sturt and negative the clause.
– Have you made a mess of it?
– If I had I would at least be honest enough to admit it. That is something that I have not yet known the honorable member to do.
– Who did make a mess of it?
– Whether any one has is yet to be resolved. To avoid delaying the committee, I will adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for Sturt and undertake to have the draftsman and the Department of Defence confer upon it. If anything needs to be done, we will make suitable arrangements.
– I am quite prepared to accept the Minister’s proposal. I would point out, with due humility, that this does prove what I said earlier - that the bill appears to have been rather hurriedly drafted. One is left uncertain as to what some of the clauses mean.
Clause 13 omitted.
Clause 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 -
Section thirty-one of the Principal Act is amended by inserting after sub-section (6.) the following sub-section: - “(6a.)……
– Earlier I indicated to the committee that I had examined some of the suggestions put forward by the honorable member for Chisholm and explained why we had not been able to find a practical way of including one or two of them. I said, however, that we had been able to devise a provision under which persons who were excluded from service by reason of the ballot would have an opportunity to volunteer for training if they wished. I therefore move -
That, in clause15, after proposed sub-section (6a.), the following sub-section be inserted: - “ (6b.) A person whose liability to render service under this Act has been deferred under this section may volunteer, in the prescribed manner, to render that service and, if the person is accepted for service under this Act, the deferment granted in respect of the person shall be deemed to have been cancelled.’.”.
This amendment, if adopted, will give effect to the recommendation of the honorable member.
. -I thank the Minister for having given this matter consideration, and for having submitted an amendment repairing an omission in the original bill; butI cannot yet say that I feel very happy with the drafting of section 31 as a whole. The section deals with deferment of service for certain classes of persons determined by the Minister - whereas section 29 defines other classes by legislation, such as persons suffering from physical disability, theological students, insane persons and persons having a conscientious belief.I see that a consicentious belief is regarded as a conscientious belief whether the ground of the belief is or is not ground of a religious character, I do not know what that means, but persons in the classes in section 29 are exempt.
The section, as a whole, gives the Minister the right to determine what classes of people will be exempt. Here again we come up against the question of how the individuals in these classes are to be selected. I would like to have seen provision for the ballot made in the bill. These classes would, 1 presume, be regarded in war-time as reserved occupations. I do not know whether it is provided for in the Acts Interpretation Act, but I feel that if new classes are decided upon, the relevant regulations should be posted to every honorable member within fourteen days of gazettal. A very important principle is involved. Many regulations are not received by honorable members at all unless they are asked for. For that reason, I suggest that regulations setting up new classes should be circulated to honorable members within fourteen days. I have not had time to check on the Acts Interpretation Act, but I do not think that regulations are posted, necessarily, to every member of Parliament within fourteen days. Perhaps they should not be posted in minor cases, but in dealing with cases of this nature I think that the posting of regulations should be established as a principle.
.- I take it that under this clause country deferments will be effected.
– That is so.
– I want to raise an objection to the general principle of the deferment of people from national service because of the distance that they live from a training camp. The fact that one lives more than 5 miles or 50 miles from a training centre, in this day and age, should be irrelevant to the question of whether one goes into a training camp for a period of 14, or 40 or 96 days. The bill provides that deferments may be made where the Minister considers it desirable or necessary to do so in the public interest. I suggest that it is in the public interest to include all eligible people in the ballot. I consider that people should not be exempted from service because they live in the country. To do so would be grossly unfair to people who live in the cities. The following statement has been made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) concerning the number of deferments from training that were granted last year: -
However, it can be said that at the end of the period referred to 26,053 deferments were current. Of these, 1,054 were in respect of rural workers engaged full time in the production of food or raw materials, 22,194 were registrants residing too far from training centres to be trained.
That is nonsense. Nobody is too far from a training centre to be trained. No place in Australia is too far from Puckapunyal or wherever the people concerned would be trained. This proposal is grossly unfair, and I believe that the provision should not be allowed to remain in the bill.
– I would not have risen had not the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) been so certain that possible trainees in country districts ought not to be placed in any special position in relation to the call-up. The honorable member referred to Puckapunyal camp, and I can quite understand that those members who come from the intensely developed smaller States, such as Tasmania and Victoria, could labour under the impression that they know all that is to be known about the disabilities under which trainees are called up. I do not reside in the most extensive State of Australia, but I imagine that what I am going to say applies with very much greater force to Queensland, which is about four and a half times as big as Victoria and about twenty times as big as Tasmania. In Western Australia, of course, the difficulties must be accentuated.
Again and again, it has come to my notice that the only male upon the farm or property who is capable of looking after that property is the son of a deceased soldier, or of a soldier who is completely disabled. Very often the son is the support of a widowed mother or there are other comparable circumstances. One of the things that I was glad to see in this bill was a recognition of the fact that the call-up of a man from an urban area, who had others to take his place in the factory or office, is entirely different from the call-up of the mainstay of the family in a country area, because in the latter case it could prevent effective production on the property. There are many sons of farmers, and particularly sons of returned soldiers, who would willingly volunteer for national service training but for the circumstances in which they are situated. I hope that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) will stand firmly upon this principle, which recognizes the difference in the conditions of those who live in urban areas and those who live in the country and who, too often, are endeavouring to carry on with insufficient labour.
.- It is quite obvious, from the speech of the honorable member for New England (Mr.
Drummond), that the Labour party was fully justified in opposing the whole scheme for the continuance of national service training. The Opposition believes that the Government could get sufficient volunteers to meet the requirements of the services if it paid them better. I think that those people who support the conscription system do so merely because it means getting defence on the cheap. The men who are conscripted are compelled to serve under conditions laid down by the Government, irrespective of whether they are attracted to them or otherwise.
The Government itself is not very enthusiastic about the continuance of the national service training scheme. The Government told us originally that it proposed to reduce the intake from 33,000 to 12,000 a year because that was the maximum number that could be handled efficiently. What will happen if the Government obtains from the ballot the 12,000 men that it requires? Will all those other people who have secured deferments and who then volunteer to serve be taken into the forces in addition to the 12,000? Will certain persons be selected from their number or will they all be accepted? If they are all accepted, the Government could find that it had 33,000 trainees, the number which it has declared that it is incapable of handling. It is obvious that the Government does not really know what it is going to do.
Apparently, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) does not mind conscription if it is for the boys of workers in industrial areas, but he begins to find all sorts of objections if it is going to apply to the sons of farmers. No doubt what the honorable member said about the sons of ex-servicemen in the country is true in many instances, but do not ex-servicemen live in the industrial areas, and have they not sons who will be called up to serve under this scheme? It is quite obvious that there will be a great deal of discrimination. The average worker’s son will have to run the risk of the ballot, and if his name is drawn he will have to undergo training. But if the name of somebody in a country district happens to be drawn in the ballot he need not worry, because he will easily be able to get out of the training by approaching his Australian Country party member, who has great influence with the
Government and the Minister concerned. Then out comes the country lad and in goes the worker’s son. If the Government is going to have discrimination of that kind it cannot expect the support of the Opposition.
We do not believe in conscripted service. We have always been of the opinion that if the Government were to make conditions in this country what they ought to be there would be no difficulty in getting enough volunteers to defend it. The Government should give trainees decent conditions. It should ensure that those who are dependent on them are adequately compensated should they lose their lives, either during peacetime or in war. That is the way to ensure that we have an effective defence scheme. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) knows that the Government is not serious about this national service training scheme, but it cannot completely retreat from the original position that it took up in 1951 when it said that this scheme was essential to the defence of Australia. Everybody knows that the defence of this or any other country will noi depend, as it did in the Boer War, upon men marching in squares and fighting with rifles. It will be fought with nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons. Therefore, the importance of ground troops will become less as time goes on. The Government is always talking about defence preparations, but it may be said that the Government is always prepared for the last war, but is never prepared for the next.
– Order! The honorable member should discuss the provisions now before the committee.
– That is exactly what I shall do. We are not satisfied that the ballots will be properly conducted.- We have heard a great deal about ballots in this Parliament during recent months, and I want to know whether this will be a court-controlled ballot. The Minister said that the Government would get some reputable citizen to draw the ballot. I may not always be available. However, a person who may be accepted by the Government as a reputable member of the community may be regarded by me and members of the Labour party very differently. If there is to be a ballot and some reputable citizen, according to the Government’s assessment of him, is to conduct the ballot, will there be any scrutineers to watch the reputable citizen who conducts the ballot? Unless these provisions are made, a great number of people will not be satisfied that the ballots are properly conducted.
I have never heard of such a ridiculous system of balloting. The Government will draw a birthday from the ballot. If a man happens to be unlucky enough to be born on that date, he will be for it, unless he happens to live in a country district and knows the local member, who can approach the Minister. I have never heard of a government proposing to select 12,000 young Australians to serve in the forces by such a method. If that is the best the Government can produce, the sooner it gives way to a government that has a more realistic approach to these problems, the better. I hope that the Minister will answer the queries that I have directed to him. We want to know more about birthday ballots and we want to know who the reputable person will be. No doubt, he would be a prominent member of the Liberal party. If he were, in my eyes he would be immediately suspect, because, to be quite frank, I do not trust any members of the Liberal party. If a prominent Liberal in the community is to conduct the ballot, as a Labour man I insist that we have scrutineers to watch him.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) can, of course, invariably be relied upon to make a purely partisan speech and, if possible, completely misrepresent what his political opponents are seeking to do.
– Why not answer him?
– I shall be glad to answer him, if you will give me the opportunity. I shall start with the last point raised by the honorable member. I should be delighted if the Opposition - and I gather it would be willing to do so from what he said - would co-operate with us in the conduct of the ballots. I shall certainly make available an opportunity for a nominated member of the Opposition to attend every ballot as it is held. If honorable gentlemen opposite are prepared to co-operate, I extend the invitation to my friend, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), to conduct the first ballot, if he is willing to do so. I am sure that he would be regarded by honorable members on both sides of the chamber as a responsible and respected person. As far as I am concerned, I should be delighted to see him draw the first ballot. That is an indication of fair play, if the honorable member wants it.
I suggest that this is hardly the place to debate the merits of the scheme. That has been done very fully at the secondreading stage. Let me make this clear: The continuance of a scheme of training of 12,000 people was not decided by chance or from a desire to have a few fellows in national service training. It is carefully integrated with the Government’s military establishment in other directions. The 12,000 trainees coming forward under this scheme are necessary to enable us to maintain our Citizen Military Forces in the establishment that our defence advisers have recommended. The 12,000 is not a figure plucked out of the air; it is a necessary number in order to enable those arrangements to be made.
The second point I wish to make is that the decision about lads from the country has no element of political or industrial preferment in it whatsoever. It is a hard, practical matter which had to be faced. When we were bringing in a limited number out of the total that could be brought into the scheme and when the scheme involved week-end and mid-week training at specified centres, then, quite apart from the occupational aspect, the geographical factor had a very material bearing on the practicability of doing the job that was desired. Those circumstances combined to influence the Government to defer - not exempt - people who were beyond a certain distance from centres where they could be trained.
My colleague, the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes), has criticized the possibilities contained in this clause. I point out that the particular provision to which he referred has been there from the outset - I think since 1951 - and its implementation has not, so far as I am aware, given rise to dissatisfaction because of the manner in which the Minister’s powers have been exercised. The further point was raised by, I think, the honorable member for East Sydney, that sufficient volunteers would come forward, if desired, in order to avoid the compulsory aspect of the scheme. I gave honorable members some details at the second-reading stage which showed that, though we had included in the legislation an opportunity to volunteer, and that has operated since 1955, the number of volunteers who have been found acceptable under the scheme totals only 74. It is pretty difficult to imagine us bridging the gap between what we desire and the numbers that so far have come forward. I suggest, therefore, that the clause with the amendment proposed in the first instance by the honorable member for Chisholm should now receive the approval of the committee.
.- 1 join with honorable members on this side of the chamber who have expressed grave concern about the clause under discussion. I was particularly impressed by the comments of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) earlier in the debate when he cited figures of the call-ups and exemptions in country areas as compared with the city. Those figures certainly showed that the dice was loaded against people in industry under the legislation introduced by the Government, lt is significant that the Australian Country party has sprung to the support of the Government on this issue. Well it might, Mr. Chairman, if you, as a member of the Australian Country party, will allow me to criticize it, because undoubtedly this exemplifies the pressure applied on the Government by the small number of Australian Country party members in the Parliament in order to have this clause inserted.
The clause is unjust and unfair, lt means that men from industrial areas, simply because they live in the city, will be called up in numbers many times greater than those in country areas. As the honorable member for Wills said earlier, why should a person, who resides a few miles from a training centre in the country, at this stage when we have jet-propelled aeroplanes, atomic bombs, nuclear research and other things, be exempt, whilst a city man living in, say, Newtown, East Sydney or some other place will be called up to fulfil his responsibilities? A few moments ago the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) gave flimsy excuses for this provision. Many persons in one-man businesses in the city area are equally as important as men on farms in country districts. This measure is loaded against people in the city areas. The Minister said that there are no facilities for training in country areas. The Government has had £1,250,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money which it could use to establish training centres in country areas. If the Government can afford to provide training facilities in congested city areas, surely it is not too much to expect that some money will be spent in rural centres in order that country dwellers will not receive exemptions that do not apply to people in the industrial areas. The Government deserves to be condemned on this issue. If anything is needed to show the power wielded by a small section of the Government - the Australian Country party - it is this provision. The Country party has forced upon the Government a concession which will give pleasure to the “ squattocracy “ of this country which dominates honorable members who sit in the corner of this Parliament known as “ possum paddock “. Undoubtedly, Mr. Chairman, this shows the power of the Country party. The Minister’s explanation is not satisfactory and should be looked upon with suspicion by members on this side of the House. 1 was very interested in the comments made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) about the conducting of the ballots. Who will be there to see that every name goes into the hat? We have all been in country hotels and heard of the old game of “ crow “. The fellow who draws “ crow “ is the one who shouts, but, of course, his is the only name that goes into the hat. How do we know that this will not happen in these ballots? How do we know that all the names will go into the ballot? How do we know that the Country party members will not use their influence to have only the names of Labour party sympathizers put in to the ballot? These things require investigation, lt is all very well to say that they will not happen. This is an atomic age; anything can happen. The Opposition is not convinced that every name will go into the hat. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) smiles. He will not be in the ballot, because his birthday was far too soon. The fact remains that there is a case to be made against the conduct of ballots.
I heard an honorable member from South Australia say, last week, that this was a national service training scheme and that success at a ballot would afford a man an opportunity not only to serve his country, but also to become fit and well. But what about the man who is not successful in a ballot? Is he just to fade away?
These ballots require investigation. 1 know that the Minister’s offer to permit a member of the Opposition to be present at the ballots is genuine, but that does not mean that his successor in office will agree to that. Unless it is in the act in black and white, there will be no guarantee that the spirit implied by the Minister will be put into effect.
This ballot legislation seems a fantastic way of administering a great defence scheme. It proves that the Government is barren of ideas in its endeavour to obtain 12,000 men. I believe that a complete investigation should be made of this system before giving effect to it. Along with other members of the Opposition I am not convinced that it will be administered in the interests of the people. There is no assurance that all names will go into the hat, or that the persons whose names are drawn out of the hat will be those who will serve. It is all right for the Australian Country party to pooh-pooh the idea. Australian Country party members will all be satisfied with the system, because only one in every 50,000 of their constituents will ever have to handle a rifle - that is, if this Government ever gives them one. Therefore, I think the House should look very carefully at this measure.
In the clause under discussion there are a number of loopholes. As the honorable member for East Sydney pointed out, in the view of the Government, courtcontrolled ballots and secret ballots are necessary in trade unions in order to see that irregularities do not occur. If the Government wants those safeguards in other spheres of activity, we on this side of tha House are only being consistent in asking the Government to apply the same principles to this legislation.
I conclude these few constructive comments by saying to the Government that it should review this measure. There is general dissatisfaction, even amongst Government supporters, with these clauses.
That is apparent from the speeches that have been made. It is clear that Government supporters were not given an opportunity to discuss these provisions, because, if they had, ineffective clauses such as the one now before us would not have been included. The measure cannot bear the light of day. It should be fully investigated.
I hope that the Government will review this clause and that it will not persist in deferring to members of the Australian Country party, dependent though it is upon them at the present time. Privileges which are not available to other members of the community should not be given to country dwellers. This type of legislation causes general dissatisfaction because it places the full responsibility for the defence of this country on people who live in industrial areas such as that which I represent. I hope that the Government will review completely this portion of the legislation, because it reflects little credit on the Government. It is sectional legislation of a kind that should not be introduced into this Parliament.
.- It is rather flattering for the Australian Country party to have attributed to it this great power over the Government that has been referred to by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). Only recently members of the Labour party were saying that the Australian Country party counted for nothing and that the Liberal party, with its great numbers and its major representation in the Cabinet, just swept the Australian Country party to one side on any contentious matter. However, when it suits Labour, the Australian Country party is given great kudos as being a great power in the Government and able to override the Liberal party. The whole suggestion is ridiculous. The two parties work together in a way that is not understood by the Labour party. As Labour cannot understand the working of the two parties, it looks for ulterior motives when certain legislation is before the House. It must be rather disconcerting to those few thinking members of the Labour party to find the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the honorable member for Grayndler referring all the time to exemptions. Every one should know that every youth who reaches a certain age - just before eighteen years - has to register and that when he registers he is never exempted; he is only deferred. If necessary, all those men, no matter where they live, can be called up as trainees.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) said that boys working in the cities and towns should not be called up while country lads had the chance of exemption. But it is not altogether a matter of distance. Foodstuffs are vital. Every one knows, of course, that when the farmer is doing his job, the rest of the country is all right. As has been pointed out by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), it is very necessary that the farm worker should pursue his occupation of producing food so that if war does come this country will have sufficient supplies to meet its needs. Another point that will not please Opposition members who represent vast metropolitan areas is that a boy working in the country in the wide open spaces and attending to machines such as tractors is much easier to train for military purposes than a city-bred boy. He is harder. He is used to the weather and to an outside life. He is not used to the 40-hour week. He is used to working as a soldier would have to work when fighting an enemy.
If one sums up this measure one must agree that, under the circumstances, the Government has done the best that could possibly be done. The system of ballots is not new. The Labour party must be completely isolated from world affairs if it thinks so. Large nations of the free world have used this system for years and it has been working admirably. The honorable member for East Sydney has a peculiar way of changing his ideas to suit a debate. Now he is asking for something akin to court-controlled ballots, whereas, on all previous occasions in this House, he has been opposed to such ballots. I cannot understand it. He is like a man on a flying trapeze. He somersaults and changes his attitude with every debate that takes place. We know that the honorable member’s opinions should not be taken very seriously, because he is opposed to court-controlled ballots. The honorable member for Grayndler is afraid that the ballot may be like the old bar-room game of Crow that he knows so well, and that the correct names may not go into the hat. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) could not have been more fair. He has said that he would invite a responsible member of the Australian Labour party - if he could get one - to attend each ballot. He has publicly invited the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) to make the draw in the first ballot. When all these things are summed up, it appears that Labour members have shown up poorly in this debate. They should consider matters more carefully before they debate them in this chamber. If they cannot do that, they should let men who know the facts and can understand this bill, and who know something of military training, and especially of national service training, debate this measure.
.- Listening to members of the Australian Country party in this chamber, one would imagine that they were the only representatives of country electorates in the Parliament.
– That is right, too.
– It is a very good thing that all the country electorates are not represented by Australian Country party members. I represent a large country electorate.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order! There are too many interjections.
– I was beginning to wonder, Mr. Chairman, who was making this speech. Section 31 of the principal act makes no reference to exemption from training for youths who live more than 5 miles from a training centre. That exemption, which was introduced by a regulation promulgated since the principal act was passed in 1951, is a mixed blessing. It is a blanket deferment, in effect. Whether or not it is an exemption is not the point. It provides a blanket deferment for every young man of national service training age who lives more than 5 miles from a training centre. That means that practically all farmers’ sons are exempted.
– It does not exempt any one.
– Let him hop into the old Jag and find a drill hall!
– Order! I ask honorable members to cease their interjections so that the committee may proceed with the business before it.
– City youths, all of whom live within 5 miles of a training centre, are at a definite disadvantage, compared with young men in the country, who are exempted because it is claimed that food production is the Commonwealth’s primary concern. It may be, but food could not be produced without the help of the agricultural machinery that is manufactured in the cities. As a farmer’s son who spent many years on a wheat farm in Victoria, I know how much the farmers depend on the machinery produced by city industries. Yet, in the promulgation a year or two ago of the regulation providing for blanket deferment of the training of young men resident more than 5 miles from a training centre, that fact was not taken into consideration. There are perhaps hundreds of young men in the cities and country towns who, as only sons, are responsible for the upkeep of families bereft of their fathers. Yet they are called up for training merely because they live within 5 miles of training centres!
I agree with the principle of deferring the training of young men employed on farms, but I think that the same consideration should be extended also to city youths. I am thinking particularly of apprentices, and especially of sons who are family breadwinners. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) referred to one-man businesses, of which there are many in cities and towns throughout Australia. The blanket deferment is unfair to city youths as compared with their counterparts in the country, and it causes them unnecessary hardship. That is, and has been, my criticism of this regulation all along. My electorate has an area of 13,500 square miles, and it comprises approximately half of Tasmania. Perhaps there may be some honorable members who are surprised to hear that there are even 13,500 square miles of land in Tasmania. I readily admit that the deferment principle has been of tremendous help to hundreds of young men in my electorate who, perhaps through the sudden illness of their father, have been left to run farms of all kinds, such as dairy farms, property devoted to the growing of peas, potatoes, oats and barley, sheep properties, or farms devoted to any of the eighteen different kinds of agriculture in the Wilmot electorate.
I consider that the blanket exemption regulation discriminates very much against youths in the towns and cities. Although I hail from the State in which Tattersalls consultations originated, and in which they flourished until they were transferred to Victoria, I think that the system of ballotting proposed for the selection of national service trainees will cheapen national service training in principle. If one wants to cheapen anything, the best way is to make a lottery of it. That is my firm opinion of lotteries. The Government’s proposal will cheapen national service training quick and lively. The whole idea of a birthday lottery to select national service trainees is an insult to those who believe in the principle of service training for defence or war.
– I propose, first, to answer some of the remarks made by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who spoke about the hardships caused by the calling up of youths in industrial areas who are breadwinners. Deferments of training are granted, as I am sure the honorable member is aware, to persons whose families are dependent upon them in some measure, and would suffer hardship if they were called up. The honorable member failed to take account of the fact - to which the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) referred - that, frequently, the calling up of a country youth means that the production of a farm ceases entirely. The position is different in industry, where somebody else can take over and keep the wheels turning. Any one who has any understanding of country conditions appreciates that, once a farm has gone out of production, for even a short period, it is extremely difficult to bring it back to full production.
It is said that, sometimes, the Commonwealth Employment Service will provide labour for three months to work a farm where a youth has been called up. I recall one case in which, when a young man was called up for training, no labour was available to take his place and even at times when labour is available, it is not always suitable. The young man’s father, unfortunately, had been taken seriously ill only a few months before the son received his call up, and it was not expected that he would ever be able to work again. In the circumstances of that case, the only sensible and logical thing to do was to defer the young man’s training. I know of another case in which the parents of a young man who was keen to train sold the family property so that he could serve in his country’s forces. I can think of only half a dozen applications for deferment with which I have been concerned during the whole time that I have represented the Lyne electorate in this chamber. As I have said, there was the case in which the young man concerned was the only one who could continue the work of the farm, and there were some other cases in which, due to seasonal conditions, or floods and other difficulties, young men asked for deferment.
The remarks of certain members of the Opposition were so facetious that no notice should be taken of them. I would not have risen to my feet had it not been for the fact that this is the second occasion on which the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) has suggested, by insinuation, that the young men in the country are not prepared to defend Australia as are the young men in the metropolitan areas. In my opinion, it is absolutely disgraceful for a member of this Parliament to make such an insinuation. If the honorable member will look at the record of servicemen who have given their services and, in many cases, their lives to this country, he will find that the number, in proportion to the population, is equal to the number of servicemen from the metropolitan areas. I had the privilege of having a Victoria Cross winner in my electorate until redistribution of electoral boundaries took place, p.nd that, I think, is sufficient evidence that the people in the country have not been lacking when they have been called upon to serve Australia. I repeat that, for a member of the Labour Opposition to make an insinuation like that in this place, is disgraceful.
I can appreciate the worry and the fears of honorable members opposite, including the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), about ballots. Having regard to the history of the Labour party, in both State and Federal spheres, in recent years, it is natural that they should have fears regarding ballots, particularly, perhaps, in the case of the honorable member for Grayndler. However, I say to the honorable member, and other honorable members opposite, that these ballots will be conducted under the auspices of this Government and that, therefore, contrary to the views of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), they need have no fear regarding them.
The honorable member for Grayndler said that we were denying the people of the country areas the opportunity to undergo training and, through it, to become physically fit. As was pointed out by my colleague, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), the young men of the country areas already have this opportunity without having to go into the armed services for it. However, the honorable member for Grayndler is arguing against himself, because, in fact, we are giving the young men of the industrial areas the opportunity to take advantage of this training to improve their physical standard.
The honorable member for East Sydney spoke about responsibility for service being thrust back on to the workers. I regret the constant reiteration in this chamber of statements concerning alleged distinctions between the workers and other people in the community. We all are Australians and we all, I hope, are workers. I suggest to the honorable member for East Sydney that he return to my electorate - he was last there, I think, in 1952. He should come back, have a look round and see for himself that all the workers are not in the metropolitan areas.
– Mr. Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member feel that he has been misrepresented?
– I do not only feel it; I am certain of it. Not by implication, insinuation, inference, or any other of the words used by the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), did I suggest that people were not ready to serve. I was merely trying to point out that the regulations which will be promulgated under this legislation will place the onus of service on one lot of people and not on another. What the motives are, I do not know, and they have no relevance to this case.
– It is evident that the Government is making very heavy weather of this most obnoxious bill, particularly in relation to the clause which the committee is now considering and which, in essence, is crucial. We have had a succession of speakers from the Government side who have attempted to malign the Opposition and to suggest that we on this side of the chamber are imputing all sorts of motives to the country people. Nobody could convince me that this system which will operate in the future has any relevance to an adequate defence system. On the admission of honorable members opposite, the most positive contribution it will make will be to inculcate in the minds of young men a sense of discipline and improve their physical well-being. But there is no relation between that and a modern defence system. That is the point that the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) was making. He did not suggest that the country boys were not patriotic. He suggested that, in a scheme that makes no tangible contribution to defence, it is unfair to discriminate between country boys and city boys.
Despite what has been said, the supporters of the Australian Country party have not explained why such discrimination should take place, when exactly the same circumstances operate in relation to city businesses as those that operate in relation to country businesses. I know of a number of instances in my electorate of young fellows starting out in a particular line of business and doing relatively well. Then they received a call-up. They asked for deferment, which was not granted. Apparently, that treatment has not been extended to people in the country, because on the admission of Australian Country party members, the people in the country get deferment. To judge by the manner in which the scheme has been working, deferment means, in essence, exemption, because after all there is machinery to train only 12,000 men a year, instead of 33,000, as was the case previously. If it is proposed to train only 12,000 men, it stands to reason that, in the present circumstances, anybody who receives deferment may well say, “ They will not bother me in the future “. That is what the scheme means.
The Labour party says that this was supposed to be a universal training scheme. One of the virtues of it that was paraded in 1951, when the scheme was debated in this Parliament, was that it was universal in its application and that everybody, irrespective of class, avocation, denomination or any other consideration, would be thrown in the one pool, as it were, to serve a common purpose, which was to learn to defend this country in time of adversity. But it was not very long before this universality principle went by the board and we saw the institution, by regulation, as the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) has said, of provision for deferments. When that happened, the tangible basis of the original scheme disappeared, so how on earth can anybody say that the scheme at present is making any notable contribution to our defence?
The anomalies in the proposed scheme are so numerous that they have been admitted even by members of the Australian Country party. Since they are so numerous surely, in ordinary common decency, the whole scheme should be scrapped? It will serve no useful purpose in the community. All that it will do will be to arouse in the minds of many people feelings of resentment because they are the unfortunate winners of ballots. It is not very often that the winner of a ballot can be referred to as “ unfortunate “, but in these circumstances that word certainly will be applicable. Therefore, I suggest that instead of introducing a scheme to weld together for a common purpose and ideal - the defence of the community - all that the Government is doing is disintegrating the community into sections consisting of the lucky and unlucky participants in ballots. Surely, the Government is capable of putting to the Parliament for its consideration a much more unified scheme and a scheme much fairer in its incidence than the proposed scheme.
Not one word has been said to-night, or during the debate on this measure, to claim that the scheme is fair. All that is said is that it is the best that can be devised in present circumstances. I think that if the Government is really concerned about having an adequate defence system for this country it should put on its thinking cap and devise a scheme that will produce positive results. This scheme will only arouse sullen resentment on the part of those who are called up for training and give preferential treatment to those whose names or birthdays are not pulled out of the ballot barrel. The scheme has so many defects and anomalies that the Government should scrap it at once. As a matter of fact, I think
Che Government would like to scrap it, but has produced this poor, paltry compromise in order to satisfy men like the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes) and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes), who have expressed dissatisfaction with the bill and all it entails. The bill attempts to allay their suspicions and get them on side, as it were.
– Order! The honorable gentleman should get back to the clause.
– If the Government did the right thing it would say, in effect, “ In the interests of the real defence potential of this country we will withdraw the bill “.
– Order! The honorable gentleman cannot go on discussing the bill. He must get back to the clause.
– The clause should be withdrawn because it means exemption, and exemption is obnoxious in any form of conscription.
– There is no exemption provided for under the clause.
– Of course there is! Deferment means ultimate exemption, because the scheme is not capable of training more than 12,000 men a year. In those circumstances, how on earth can men who have been deferred be trained? For that reason, this clause, in the interests of unity in this country, should be withdrawn immediately.
– I can assure the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) that the bill has not been drawn up to suit my feelings. There are questions on two points that I should like to ask the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer). One concerns sub-section (5.) of section 31 of the act, which provides that any deferment granted for exceptional hardship to parents or dependants may be for a period not exceeding twelve months, subject to such conditions as the court determines. Under the original conditions, when universality applied, that provision for a maximum period of deferment of twelve months is understandable; but, surely, under the proposed scheme, when a person has to go to a court of summary jurisdiction to obtain deferment on the grounds of hardship his deferment should not be limited when only one in five people registered for service will actually be called up. If the case is a real case of exceptional hardship, and exemption has been awarded by a court of summary jurisdiction, the period of exemption should be indefinite.
The other matter I wish to raise seems to point to the fact that the act is being very hastily amended in view of the new conditions existing. Sub-section (7.) of section 31 provides that deferment of liability to serve does not affect the liability of a person to comply with other requirements. That means that he has to notify every change of address in accordance with a previous provision. I ask the Minister for the Army whether it is economic or worth while to keep a change-of-address file for at least 48,000 people who will not be called up in the first instance, and who are not likely to be called up except in a case of emergency - and in case of an emergency the Government would probably scrap the scheme and rely on volunteers, as has happened on other occasions.
So, I ask the Minister whether it would not be better to eliminate in sub-section (5.) the words “ for a period not exceeding twelve months “; and whether it would not be better also to avoid keeping a huge army of public servants at work recording changes of addresses of at least 48,000 people who will not be called up. I think it would be ridiculous to keep a large staff working on the maintenance of such an unnecessary file.
– I should like to say that if the Government feels that compulsory training is necessary, then compulsory training should be universal. I remind the House that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has indicated that the Government does consider a compulsory form of military training necessary. I support the arguments advanced on this side of the House in relation to the deferment or exemption of men registered for training. I say “ exemption “, because it does amount to exemption of some country youths from this form of training. Naturally, I oppose the whole scheme of training as it stands. I am opposed to compulsory training as such, and I oppose the proposed scheme because it falls to the ground as it does not apply evenly to all people in the community.
I think that members of the Australian Country party who have spoken in this debate have shown how far they have left farming behind them when they come into this chamber and try to sell us the old, old picture of the farmer following the plough, or following the cow, or working among the sheep from daylight to dark seven days a week. It is utter rot for any honorable member to talk that way. Australian Country party members know full well that that is not the true picture of activities on farms and stations in this country; because one can go to any country town, at any hour of the day, walk down the main street, and see the farmers there, with the landrovers parked against the kerb and their Jaguars parked outside the hotel or the club.
– Why do you hate them?
– I do not hate them, I love them. They do have periods of intense activity whether they are growing a root crop, a fodder crop, or raising cattle or sheep; but they are not working seven days a week, every hour of the day from sun-up to sun-down. That stale picture should not be put before this Parliament. I believe that the men of the country areas are just as eager to serve as anybody else in this nation, and that if the Government believes in a compulsory form of military training it is falling down in not providing, or seeking to provide, training centres to which the country youth can come forward and give the service that is required of them under this scheme. I object to the provision in the clause. I object, of course, to the system of compulsory training. As I have said before, I believe that if the Government were to go to the people and give them its confidence, tell them honestly what the threat against this country is, and tell the youth of the country what dangers this nation may face in the event of atomic warfare, there would be no lack of recruits coming forward in a voluntary scheme, because the youth of this country has always come forward in our hour of need. I suggest again that you cannot build a volunteer expeditionary force on a compulsory training scheme.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. As I was the only member who referred to the subject of the work of the man on the land as mentioned by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, I wish to say-
– How has the honorable member been misrepresented?
– Order! Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes; I did not say that the man on the land worked seven days a week every hour of the day. I said that he did not have the advantage of a 40-hour week, as the metropolitan worker does; I said that he works much longer hours.
.- I shall not delay the committee, but I should like to raise one or two points. I honestly think that the Labour party does not understand what goes on in the country areas or has any knowledge of conditions in the country. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) said that in this atomic and jet age there is no problem of getting a young man who lives 25 miles out in the country to attend a drill hall. Obviously, he does not understand the real position.
I wish to deal with one point in the speech of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). He said that this scheme was unnecessary because the next war would not be fought by troops, but would be an atomic war or a nuclear war in which hydrogen bombs would be used. If that is so, the Labour party should explain why it is moving heaven and earth to prevent us from learning as much as we can about the hydrogen bomb. If our defence is to be based on nuclear weapons, why is the Labour party trying to prevent us from having tests of such weapons?
Most members of the Australian Country party, so far as I know, believe that it is the duty of every young man of the country to undergo basic military training. His life will depend upon it at some time. The only reason why members of the Government parties do not like the bill is that it does not go far enough. We should like to see all young men of eligible age trained, but we have not the necessary man-power. We support this clause, and the bill, because it will enable 12,000 men to be trained, and that will be a very valuable start towards a defence force.
I should like to know how the members of the Labour party explain their opposition to the atomic tests, in the light of the speech of the honorable member for East Sydney, if he is their spokesman.
– Order! That is not relevant to this clause.
– I only wish to add a piece of advice to the Minister - that is. that he should approach the speech of the honorable member for East Sydney from the rear end. That is the only possible way to approach any of his speeches.
.- Not one honorable member on the Government side has supported entirely the clause now under consideration. I have waited to hear even one Government supporter extol any virtue that he believes it possesses, but not one has risen in his place to speak favorably of it. Each honorable member on the Government side who has spoken has set out to excuse his particular section of the community. I consider that that is quite unnecessary and quite wrong. There is no need to make this a country-city contest in any way.
I believe that the committee should consider, firstly, whether this provision is necessary; secondly, if it is necessary to select 1 2,000 young Australians by ballot, whether that is adequate; and, thirdly, if it is adequate, what it is proposed to do with these 12,000 young men? I want to dismiss from our consideration, to some extent, the question of whether a ballot is necessary. I do not think that that is the all-important question. The important question is: Will the ballot be conducted properly? If it is conducted properly, will it produce 12,000 young men to be trained? I then ask whether it is necessary to have 12,000 semitrained young men, who will have no knowledge of modern weapons? Those 12,000 young men will go into camp. Will they be equipped with or trained in the use of the latest weapons of war? At the moment, it is certain that they will not be issued with FN rifles.
– Order! That is not an issue in this clause. The honorable member must keep to the subject-matter of the clause.
– The clause makes it clear that 12,000 men are to be called up. lt is proposed that they shall be called up by means of a ballot. In passing, I wish to mention a matter referred to by other speakers - that is, what is to happen to these young men when they have been called up. I dispute the necessity for this. Obviously, it will not be an adequate number, because 12,000 semi-trained men could not serve this country in any worthwhile way. Consequently, I believe, with other honorable members of the Opposition, that the clause ought to be withdrawn, the bill thrown out and the whole matter reconsidered in a realistic manner.
I believe that this proposal is unworkable. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) asks about what will happen to a person whose birthday falls on the last day of February in a leap year. That is a most important point. There are many difficulties involved in this matter. The question of the owner of a one-man business arises. Quite recently, representations were made to me by a person in Katoomba who runs a motor lorry, which he is buying on time-payment. He has a personal contract. If he is unable to continue with his work, he will lose his contract and his lorry. What does the Government propose to do in a case like that?
The case of the seasonal worker also arises. Is his period of training to be deferred or is he to be exempted from training? I believe that consideration should be given to the circumstances of seasonal workers. A person engaged in tourist activities is in a similar category. I know that this Government has compelled men in the tourist trade to go into camp at the height of the tourist season. They would have been willing to undergo their periods of training and give their services at times of year when the tourist trade was not at its peak. Obviously the Government has overlooked realities. No consideration is being shown by the Minister or the Government to men in such circumstances.
The difficulty of training centres for trainees from country districts arises. Training centres did exist in the country districts, where such men could be trained. The army camp at Bathurst is an example. That place served the people very well during the war and some thousands of Australian servicemen were adequately trained there. After the war, that camp was closed down by this Government, the buildings were sold and the land has reverted to private ownership. That would have been an ideal place for decentralized training. It would have provided an opportunity for young men from country districts to receive their training without having to come to camps near the city. There are great difficulties in the way of bringing country boys from their farms to the big centres of population and to places where they can be trained. As a result of the Government’s failure to provide good roads in the country, in many cases helicopters would be required to bring boys from distant country areas to training centres.
This clause proves beyond a shadow of doubt that the scheme is unworkable, that it is unrealistic and that it cannot usefully serve the nation. It ought to be withdrawn and the Government should reconsider it in an effort to evolve a workable and an acceptable scheme - one that will serve the nation and give our young men a proper understanding of what is required for defence. This scheme will not do that, because, as I said at the outset, it will not work. Although 12,000 young men may be selected by ballot or by any other means, it will not be possible to train them in the use of modern weapons of war and, as a consequence, their time will be wasted.
– This debate has ranged widely over subjects that have nothing to do with the clause under discussion. However, since certain statements have been made, I think it is right and proper that I should get on my feet to challenge some of them. Many honorable members opposite have suggested that the calling up of 12,000 national service trainees will serve no useful purpose in our defence scheme. I should not like any member of the public or any prospective trainee to get that impression. I have said before, and honorable members on the Government side have supported my view, that these 12,000 national service trainees will be doing an essential job in the defence structure of this country. Would any member of the Opposition or any one in Australia challenge the effectiveness of the Citizen Military Forces? Honorable members opposite are virtually saying that the C.M.F. has no value in Australian defence. I challenge every member of the Opposition who makes such a suggestion, because, as I said the other night, the C.M.F. is the very core of Australia’s defence system. The scheme under which 12,000 national service trainees will be called up is essential to the C.M.F. structure. The C.M.F. is divided into three divisions. If we are to have those formations at two-thirds strength, we must have 12,000 national service trainees going through each year. That will maintain the number at 50,700 in accordance with the defence policy that was discussed in this chamber last week.
– Order! 1 have ruled as irrelevant the statements which the Minister is answering. I cannot permit him to debate the whole subject of national service. He should direct his attention once more to the clause before the committee.
– I want to make perfectly clear just what is being done. The principle of deferment has been applied, without the need for amendment, ever since the principal act was brought down. Considerable discretion has always been given to the Minister and every one will agree that it has been exercised fairly and equitably. There is no need for any one to quibble about it now in any way. The amendment before us merely clarifies the position in relation to an application to the court, and the further amendment introduced by the Minister deals with the right of a national service trainee who is not in the ballot to volunteer for service. I think that that very desirable end could have been achieved without this amendment, but the position will now be clear beyond doubt. The Government wants every one to feel that there is a place for any young man who wishes to undertake national service training or to serve elsewhere in the armed forces. No doors will be shut to such young men. I regret very much some of the things that have been said to-day. This is a very serious matter and it is important to the defence of Australia. I am sure that the people are in agreement with what the Government is doing. We want every young man who is not so fortunate as to be included in the ballot - undoubtedly there is a great deal of benefit to be derived from national service training - to feel that he will have an opportunity to serve his country if he wishes.
– The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) has set up an aunt sally for the purpose of knocking it down again. He has not properly answered the case that has been presented by my colleagues to-night. I rise to voice the strongest possible protest against the proposed ballot system, which 1 believe to be both inequitable and ineffective for the defence of this country. The Minister’s accusation that my colleagues do not wish to see a system of military training in operation in Australia is totally false, as the Minister well knows. We merely object to the selection of men by a form of lottery. As I have already said, I do not consider this to be a scientific method of selection. Many young men who would be willing to serve may not have been born on the dates that are drawn in the ballot.
– They can still serve.
– I realize that, but they may not be able to undertake service at the time when the ballot is taken. A young man may represent a substantial part of the breadwinning capacity in his family, and it may be hard for lads from working-class areas to give up their employment immediately in return for the inadequate recompense that the Army provides. The lottery system is quite new to our traditional conception of universal service, and is out of keeping with the general spirit of the Australian community. The people feel that in peace-time voluntary service should meet the needs of our defence system, and that the form of compulsion envisaged in the bill will not provide a satisfactory basis for training. The system contains inequities, and I strongly object to Australia’s manhood being subjected to national service by lottery.
.- I oppose the clause for reasons which have not so far been advanced. Section 31 of the principal act is to be amended by the insertion of the following new sub-section: - (6A.) A decision, whether given before or after the commencement of this sub-section, of a court of summary jurisdiction upon an application under sub-section (4.) of this section is final and conclusive.
I disagree entirely with the principle embodied in this clause. Apparently an appeal seeking deferment is to be treated in an entirely different way from an appeal under industrial law, against the decision of a conciliation commission. I believe that the clause which prevents the right of appeal against the decision of a court of summary jurisdiction is wrong in principle and in practice, and will work out unfairly so far as the trainee is concerned
Most of the applications made for deferment during the last couple of years have been made on economic grounds. Such applications are usually made by persons who feel that if they are called upon to undergo training in camp their business interests will be seriously prejudiced and, in some cases, will be lost entirely. If a deferment were refused by a court of summary jurisdiction which, in Victoria, would be a stipendiary magistrate’s court, it would mean that the person concerned would be compelled to go into camp and his business interests would be sacrificed. In addition to giving service as a trainee, he would lose an economic asset.
Cases have been brought to my notice in which young men have started as hairdressers or have been running another kind of one-man business. If the court refuses deferment in such circumstances, the business has to be closed down. The result is that the man loses everything he has put into it, because unless he is present to attend to the business he loses his custom. The principle is wrong. In matters of this description I feel that we should observe the old injunction that not only should justice be done but also it should appear to be done. Because, I believe that the principle involved here is wrong and will deny certain fundamental rights to a person who may be seriously affected, I submit that the proposed amendment should be rejected. I shall vote against it.
.- The whole problem of the defence of this country revolves round the proposed amendment Long ago I formed the conclusion that if this country was to have armed forces the Government was confronted with two alternatives. Either it must have universal training or a voluntary training scheme. It is quite obvious that the Government has decided that universal training is unnecessary, that it is too extensive. I believe that it is unsuitable to our requirements, and I think that that belief is also at the back of the Government’s mind. I believe that within twelve or eighteen months, probably immediately preceding an election, the Government will come forth with a statement that it has sufficient volunteers in the forces to enable it to abandon universal military training.
The need for this amendment would not have arisen if the Government had firmly grasped the situation with which it is confronted. As it considers that the number of persons who would be available under a universal training scheme would be unnecessary, and that the problem of deferment is unpalatable, it should have undertaken a purely voluntary scheme. I cannot imagine such a scheme failing. After all, hundreds of thousands of men from World War I. and World War II. in this country, from choice and psychological outlook, are as keen as their fathers and grandfathers were to serve their country and train for eventualities. At this juncture, when the Government has decided, and rightly so, that it does not need the numbers that it has been calling up, the alternative stands clear and plain to the people of Australia. The Government should issue an appeal for voluntary enlistments.
I am satisfied that under a voluntary scheme the terms of service could be made sufficiently attractive to attract the very best type of men in this country. Under the piebald scheme that will obtain under the bill men will be exempt because they obtain deferment and they will be looked upon, in some cases, as avoiding their responsibility. In the Army there will be universal trainees on the one hand, and mingling with them, or in separate compartments - I do not know the Government’s intention - there will be a piebald platoon of volunteers. Surely, that is a most undesirable state of affairs. It would be better to have a force entirely composed of either compulsory trainees or volunteers.
I am sure that the deferment problem could be avoided entirely and that the Government could obtain the 12,000 men it wants per medium of the ballot system. If an enthusiastic volunteer feels compelled to enlist he is more likely to be the most satisfactory type of soldier because he goes into the Army full of enthusiasm and with a belief in the cause in which he is to serve. He will probably be more suitable for technical training than a compulsory trainee. In any war of offence or defence the men with technical knowledge will be the key men. Is it imagined that men who will be ballotted into the Army through the raffle box will be as suitable, as amenable or as receptive to highly skilled technical training as men who go in voluntarily? It is said that we are a democracy and that we believe in freedom. I know that freedom has its limitations to the extent that one must not trample on other people’s freedom. But in this case the Government would not be trampling on anybody else’s freedom by having an army entirely composed of men who psychologically, physically, mentally and in every other way are fit to become highly efficiently trained soldiers. Imagine the mental outlook of the man who is dragged in by means of a raffle.
– The bill covers voluntary enlistment.
– Of course. Apparently, what I say is unpalatable to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer). If everybody were dragged in, the situation would be different. But will men who are dragged in because their birthdays fall on certain dates become as efficient, psychologically or physically, as men who are required to serve this country should be? I do not think that the proposal is sensible; it is outrageous and foolish. I would like the Minister for the Army to inform the House whether the Government has any intention, first of all, of appealing to the sons and grandsons of the men who served in the last two wars.
– Labour tried that in 1947.
– I am asking the Minister what the Government is prepared to do.
– An opportunity is being provided for volunteers to come forward.
– I know that certain clauses provide for voluntary enlistment. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has just come into the chamber, and he does not know what I have been saying. The combining of voluntary enlistment with universal training will produce a piebald army. Serving in the same camp we shall have volunteers and men who have been called up under this scheme - through the Tattersall’s barrel or birthday hazard idea. A battalion could include two companies of universal trainees and two companies of conscripts; and separate altogether from them could be men who run the gauntlet of a deferment application to the court. The men could be subdivided into separate compartments as a result of this measure. Because of the development of nuclear, atomic and other weapons, the Government requires a smaller force than the Labour Government was required to find. That confronts the Government with a situation which did not confront us. In the circumstances, the Government should have given some consideration to the matter, and its final decision should have fallen on the side of trying a voluntary enlistment system.
– You are only trying to destroy the whole scheme.
– And you have been trying to ram this scheme willy-nilly down the throats of the people. The Minister will not succeed, because the people will not stand for a system which puts a thousand men in a camp as volunteers and another thousand men in a camp as universal trainees or as conscripts. Such an arrangement will not work satisfactorily for the Army authorities; they will not appreciate it, either. If constructive thought had been given to this matter or if the psychological and other factors such as the question of deferments and the question of volunteering had been considered, the problem of two sections in the armed forces could not possibly have arisen. In the circumstances, I am completely opposed to the amendment; and I am, of course, opposed to the bill as a whole.
.- Mr. Chairman-
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Harold Holt’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . … 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the clause, as amended, be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . ….. 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 16 (Period of service).
– Clause 16 is an entirely new clause which repeals section 33 of the principal act. The clause deals with a period of service in the Citizen Military Forces. I would like to ask the Minister something which to me at the moment is by no means clear. I can understand a certain number of men being called up by ballot and proceeding to do a camp of 77 days. They might, as a result of the ballot, be called up from Brisbane or some other centre further north. They might do their training in Brisbane, at Puckapunyal, or anywhere else if necessary, but the remaining term of the service is done over a period of four years with units of the C.M.F. How can the Government determine by ballot the selection of men who will have to be near enough to a C.M.F. unit in order to carry out the rest of their training after the original 77 days in camp?
Sub-section (3.) of section 33 lays down -
Where the Military Board determines that a unit, or portion of a unit, of the Citizen Military Forces cannot continue to be efficiently maintained, a person who, but for this sub-section, would be liable to render service under this Act with that unit or portion of a unit, is not liable to render further service . . .
That is all right when he is doing his service with the unit which is disbanded, but what I want to ask the Minister to explain is how it is proposed to work out the different units of the C.M.F. which are to be disbanded before it is known from what areas the national service trainees are coming. I cannot for the life of me see how this scheme is going to work when men are selected from all over Australia by ballot and then have to be fitted into C.M.F. units, which may be at great distances from the place from which they come.
It comes down again to the fact that only those youths who live in thickly populated centres will be selected for service and Citizen Military Forces units, apparently, will be maintained only in the same thickly populated centres. Even so, very few men may be selected from a centre such as, say, Newcastle, in a ballot, and the number obtained may be insufficient to maintain the C.M.F. unit. Therefore, I ask the Minister for the Army to explain to the committee how the scheme will work. Perhaps I am dense, but I cannot see how it will work if C.M.F. units are to be maintained in areas other than those that are densely populated.
– The Army is now engaged in determining the units to be retained. The matter is complex, because consideration must be given, not only to the retention of the units that will serve the needs of national service trainees, but also to the retention of units that have a very long history. It is desired to retain, wherever possible, units that have lengthy historical associations and traditions.
– The units will have to depend on trainees selected by ballot from among men who live within 5 miles of training centres.
– That is so, but the
Army does not foresee any great difficulty arising to hinder the solution of the problem. The units that are to be retained having been decided on, the Department of Labour and National Service will be advised. It is believed that the requisite number of national service trainees for those units will be readily available.
– Within 5 miles of training centres?
– Yes. There are many difficulties to be overcome, but I am informed by my advisers that they can be overcome. Teams of experts are now engaged in a very close examination of the problem in all commands, and all units are being examined, right down to the individual members. The committee may be assured that the scheme will be worked out equitably and fairly. I assure the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes) that the objective can be achieved. A great deal of work will be entailed, and teams of experts are already investigating this complex matter.
.- The training time for national service trainees is to be reduced from 176 days to 140 days, and I should like the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) to explain how the trainees will spend that training time. The training of 12,000 men for 140 days involves a great deal of man-power and a great number of man-days. It is of no use for the Government to deny that there has been a great deal of uneasiness in the community because it is felt that national service trainees are not receiving profitable military training during the time that they are in camp. Why was the period fixed at 140 days? How is it to be apportioned over the five years of training? Will the Minister assure the committee that the Citizen Military Forces units to which trainees will be sent for the completion of their training will be adequately equipped, and that the conditions of service will encourage the trainees to soldier on? I referred last year to military establishments in Victoria, and particularly to one at Scrub Hill, where conditions discouraged men from serving. These are important matters. On what basis have the Minister’s advisers selected the period of 140 days for the partial training of soldiers to the standard that the Government claims they will reach?
.- The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) made rather a remarkable statement, in reply to the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes), when he said that a great many problems associated with the operation of the new national service training scheme had not yet been worked out. I should have imagined that the Minister and his experts would have worked out all the details before they presented this measure to the Parliament for the consideration of members. How does the Minister expect honorable members to discuss it logically when he himself has to admit that he and his experts have not yet been able to work out certain details? Are we expected to vote for the bill in its present form? The Minister admits that it is full of complexities. I read it carefully, but I could not understand exactly what will happen to the men associated with Citizen Military Forces units that are disbanded. If trainees have not completed their five-year training period when their C.M.F. unit is disbanded, they will continue as members of the C.M.F. Will they be drafted to other units, or will new units be formed? Is it proposed merely that the existing number of units will be reduced? It is obvious that the Minister does not know the answers to these questions, although he is doing his best. I suggest that he adjourn the consideration of the bill so that he may consult his experts and then return to this chamber briefed to answer the questions asked by honorable members.
.- Like the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes) I find the greatest difficulty in understanding the machinery of this bill. I made my attitude towards it perfectly clear at the second-reading stage, when I indicated that I would not support it. If, in the first ballot, 50 men from Port Pirie, more than 100 miles north of Adelaide, and 50 men from Mount Gambier, some 200 miles south-east of Adelaide, are selected for a unit based on Adelaide, it will be comparatively simple for them to do their camp training, but difficulties may arise when they join Citizen Military Forces units. Will they have to travel hundreds of miles to attend parades in the evenings and at week-ends? If, at the second ballot, men are selected from different areas, how can the scheme possibly work when it comes to their service in C.M.F. units?
– I am not very happy about the answer given by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) to the question thai I raised, because it is perfectly obvious that the scheme has not been fully worked out. I should very much like to have the opinion of the commanding officers of Citizen Military Forces units as to whether the proposed scheme is even workable, in addition to the advice of staff officers trained at the Royal Military College at Duntroon. According to what the Minister has told us, it appears that the scheme will work only if the ballots are restricted to men who live within 5 miles of C.M.F. training establishments which Army headquarters has decided will not be disbanded. The C.M.F. units that will be retained have first to be determined, and then the trainees have to be selected from areas within 5 miles of the centres at which those units are stationed. Otherwise, as the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) has said, the trainees will not be able to attend parades in the evenings or at week-ends. It seems to me that these are the conditions on which the success of the scheme depends. Indeed, if I wished to be really frivolous, I might suggest to the Minister for the Army that his theme song is “ Happy Birthday to You “, and that the marching song of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) is “ Roll out the Barrel “.
– I shall deal with the points raised by the honorable members for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes) and Sturt (Mr. Wilson) together. What the honorable member for Chisholm has said is perfectly true. The present position is that a decision will be made, after close examination, concerning the units that should remain. That examination should be just about completed now. When the decision is made, the places at which training will be available after the trainees have done their initial service training of 77 days will be known. The numbers called will be in accordance with those places. I am sure there will be no serious objection to that system.
– Why register in any other areas?
– Registration is universal.
– Order! We are now dealing with the period of service.
– We are exhaustively examining the suitability of the places at which units will be retained. The scheme will be built up around those units. In the first place, of course, men who are to undergo their 77 days’ training will go to certain settled places, such as Puckapunyal, Sydney, Walcol, and so on, where such training will be carried out.
In answer to the point raised by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), I point out that the 140 days is divided into 77 days’ initial training - that is basic training - and then 21 days in each of three years. At the present time, the training is carried out over 98 days, with two subsequent annual periods of 21 days. In future, trainees will do 21 days’ training in each of three years, after the initial period of 77 days, which will equal the previous 140 days. I might add that it is thought that the additional year of service with a unit of the Citizen Military Forces will be beneficial to these young men and will get them into the spirit of the C.M.F. We believe, too, that it will help should they later volunteer to serve with the permanent forces.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 17 and 18 agreed to.
Clause 19 (Discharge of certain persons).
– I am sorry, but I should again like a little clarification. Clause 19 provides that -
Section thirty-five B of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - “ 35b. - (1.) A person who is deemed to have been enlisted for service under this Act and -
in accordance with conditions determined by the Military Board, is found to be medically unfit for further service in the Citizen Military Forces; or
in the opinion of the Military Board, is unsuitable for further service, may, notwithstanding the provisions of sections thirty-three and fifty-one of this Act, be discharged from the Citizen Military Forces. “ (2.) A person so discharged is not liable to render further service under this Act.
Those two proposed sub-sections are clear enough, but what does proposed sub-section (3.), which follows, mean? It provides that - “ (3.) Where the Military Board is satisfied that a person who, by virtue of sub-section (2.) or (3.) of section thirty-three of this Act, is a member of the Citizen Military Forces but is not liable to render further service under this Act -
What I cannot understand is this: Does he serve the remainder of the period with anything other than the Citizen Military Forces? If he is not liable to render further service, how is it that he can be enlisted in the permanent forces? Here again, if we had explanations of the clauses, I should not be in the difficulty that I find myself at the present time. As I say, I cannot understand why, if a person is not liable to render any further service under the act, he can be enlisted in the permanent forces.
– If I have understood the point made by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes), the position is that those who have completed their 140 days of service, but who are still technically liable to be called up, may wish to transfer to some other service. There have been cases of servicemen transferring to the United Kingdom militia, I understand. They will be enabled to do that under this provision. I do not know whether that expresses the idea clearly, but that is the position as I understand it.
– Since I cannot see any clause in the bill which deals with the matter to which I want to refer, perhaps I may discuss it now. I refer to the position of servicemen who have been permanently injured during their service, but have been discharged from the Citizen Military Forces and are bed-ridden in civilian hospitals. The present position is that a lad who is permanently injured and is bed-ridden receives compensation and is handed over to the civil authorities for treatment. Although he was compulsorily called up, the Army ceases to accept responsibility for his treatment. I contend that that is not fair. These lads who are permanently injured should remain the responsibility of the Army. It seems that, when they receive their cheque for compensation, that is the last that the Army has to do with them. They are simply cast off.
I know that no provision is made under the Repatriation Act for cases of this kind to be treated in repatriation hospitals. Nevertheless, I think that provision should be made to enable them to receive treatment in military hospitals. The Army, of course, has no hospitals of its own, but some of the other services have, and I should like the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) to consider this matter further. There are not many of these cases, and if they were admitted to military hospitals they would be able to receive better treatment than they receive at present. I know of a couple of such cases in civilian hospitals, and I know that the treatment that the men are receiving is not half as good as that given in repatriation hospitals, although these men served overseas in the permanent forces. I urge the Government to have a look at this matter with a view to seeing whether something cannot be done to provide decent treatment in such cases, instead of casting servicemen off when they have been permanently injured.
.- I move-
That the clause be postponed.
It is clear, from the answer- given by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) to the honorable members for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes) and Sturt (Mr. Wilson), and the attempt by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr.
Harold Holt) to explain the clause, that neither of them has very much more idea of its meaning than have the honorable members to whom I have referred. Those honorable members have frankly admitted that they cannot understand its full purport, and the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) has just indicated that he is not satisfied. I doubt very much whether there is anybody in the Parliament at this moment - and I include the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for the Army, who are at the table - who understands precisely what this clause really means. It seems to me entirely wrong that the Parliament should be asked to vote on something about which it is not perfectly clear. It also seems to me that it is impossible to be perfectly clear on the meaning of the clause when the Ministers in charge of the bill themselves are not clear. This is such an important matter that before we pass it and give it legal effect, it should be thoroughly reconsidered by the Ministers concerned, so that they will be able to come into this Parliament and give us a better explanation of its meaning than we have had to date. It is for those reasons that I have moved that consideration of the clause be postponed.
– I do not agree with the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). Apparently the explanation that was given by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) means that anybody who, under proposed section 33, sub-sections (2.) and (3.), has not completed his 140 days’ service-
– He has completed his 140 days’ service but is still technically liable to call-up.
– If that person has completed his service and is still technically liable to call-up, or if he has not completed his service because the Citizen Military Forces unit has been disbanded and still has a period to serve, he can enlist in the permanent forces and be discharged from the C.M.F. upon enlistment in the permanent forces. If he has not completed his service, under proposed section 35b (3.) (b), I take it, he still has to serve the number of days that he would have had to serve if the C.M.F. unit had not been disbanded. That is almost as complicated as is the way in which the bill is drafted. I direct attention to the fact that the clause could have been drafted in a much simpler form, but I do not think that the proposal of the honorable member for Hindmarsh will solve the difficulty.
Question put -
That the clause be postponed (Mr. Clyde Cameron’s amendment).
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 20 (Contracts of Apprenticeship).
– I should like some information about clause 20. For a period of six or seven years, I was endeavouring to impress on the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) the injustice occasioned under the act to apprentices. The Minister was deaf to my pleas for consideration for apprentices in respect of national service. I am now pleased to see that this clause proposes to extend complete exemption to apprentices, who will no longer be called up for national service. The fact remains, however, that many apprentices called up in the past are still suffering as a result of the provisions of the principal act in that their technical training has been interrupted. The operation of the act caused confusion and chaos in the metal trades, the heavy industries and other industries, apprentices in which, in view of the international situation, should have been given every encouragement by the Government. These boys are the technicians of the future, but they were heavily penalized under the act which affected apprentices in the building trades, the metal trades, the food industries, the electrical trades, the timber industries, the leather and hides industries, the motor industry, the transport industry and the printing industry - all essential industries in which many apprentices are employed.
Parents who apprentice their sons to a trade have to make great sacrifices in order that their boys may gain the training necessary to fit them for their lives and their careers. But, although the Government gave every consideration to people employed in the professions, it gave scant consideration to the ordinary Jimmy Higginses in the metal trades and other trades. However, I am pleased to see that the bill alters that position, and that the Government has decided that there will be no call up of apprentices in these trades.
I should like the Minister to give me an assurance in respect of sub-clause (2.) of clause 20 which reads -
Where a person was serving under a contract of apprenticeship at the date of commencement of this section, section forty-six of the Principal Act as amended by this Act applies to and in relation to that contract of apprenticeship and to and in relation to every period during which that contract of apprenticeship was before that date, or is on or after that date, suspended under subsection (1.) of section forty-six of the Principal Act, or of that Act as amended.
I should like from the Minister an assurance regarding the retroactive effect of the measure. Four years ago, a boy who was an apprentice-
– We cannot understand the honorable member.
– The atomic Minister opposite does not wish to listen to reason. I was referring to a boy who, four years ago, started to serve a five-year apprenticeship. He was called up on his eighteenth birthday and lost three months of his apprenticeship in that year. In his nineteenth year he had to make up the three months that he had lost in the preceding year before he was paid the increment due to him in his nineteenth year. That disability, as a result of having been called up for service in his eighteenth year, carries right through to the end of his apprenticeship, so that on his twenty-first birthday, when otherwise he would be paid as a journeyman, he will still have three months of his apprenticeship to serve. This matter vitally concerns trade unions, and I should like an assurance from the Minister that the provisions of clause 20 will cover boys such as the one I have mentioned.
– Does the honorable member want the provision to be made retroactive?
– Well, that boy was called up four years ago for military service, and it is only reasonable to ask that he should not suffer a disadvantage as a result. A boy starting his apprenticeship now would not suffer such a disadvantage, because of the amendment to the principal act proposed under this clause. I should like the Minister to make clear whether the bill will cover boys such as I have mentioned. Quite a lot of damage has been done in the past to apprentices in all the industries covered by the principal act. Some large industries have been irreparably damaged, as have the careers of boys in them, by the operation of the act. Some apprentices who were called up for military training have found that they could not return to their apprenticeships.
In the centre of my electorate there is a huge industry - the racing industry. Boys apprenticed to that industry are not physically fitted to follow any other calling. The racing industry, by the way, is a source of much tax revenue which finds its way into this Government’s coffers. It is a government gold mine. As I informed the Minister in 1951, there are more apprentices in the racing industry than in any other industry in Australia. Many boys come in and go out twelve months later. There is almost a roster for entry into the industry. Honorable members opposite should have some consideration for parents who wish to encourage their boys to take up careers which they would like to follow. The Minister, being a keen follower of the turf, knows the sacrifice that these boys make. Some of them, because their apprenticeships were interrupted by military training, are now in more or less dead-end occupations. As a result of their military training they grew muscular, gained weight and could not return to the racing game. They are around the towns looking for jobs, but they cannot get them because they are not fitted for work in any industry other than the racing industry. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) would make a good jockey. I am just giving an illustration of the physical capacity of some people in the community. The Minister may agree that the physical capacity of the honorable member for Moreton would fit him only for work in a racing stable.
– Order! The honorable member will relate his remarks to the clause.
– I have mentioned those few facts only because those boys have been done an injustice by the Government in the past. There is no way of remedying the injustice done to them.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The point raised by the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) with regard to apprenticeship may be covered by clause 20 (2). It might just as well be covered by that as anything else. This is the last time that I shall refer to it. Once again, I say that I do feel that we are entitled to an explanation, or clearer drafting of sub-clause (2.), which reads -
Where a person was serving under a contract of apprenticeship at the date of commencement of this section, section forty-six of the Principal Act as amended by this Act applies to and in relation to that contract of apprenticeship and to and in relation to every period during which that contract of apprenticeship was before that date, or is on or after that date, suspended under sub-section (1.) of section forty-six of the Principal Act, or of that Act as amended.
Quite frankly, I do not understand it.
– You have explained its effect. You must have had an idea.
– It might just as well mean that as anything else, because I am hanged if I can understand it.
– That is the answer to the point raised by the honorable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin) who suggests that those persons who have already performed some of their training should have that period counted as part of their period of apprenticeship. It does apply if their apprenticeship has not concluded. Quite clearly, it cannot apply if their apprenticeship has concluded.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 21 (Failure to register).
.- I am rather concerned about clause 21, in view of the remarks made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) in his second-reading speech. Clause 21 proposes the alteration of section 48 of the Principal Act by omitting the words “ Penalty: Fifty pounds “, and inserting in their stead the words “ Penalty: Not less than Ten pounds or more than Fifty pounds “. In addition, the clause proposes bae making of certain provisions for a defence on a prosecution for failure to register.
The Minister, in giving reasons for the making of this amendment, pointed out that in certain courts of summary jurisdiction, apparently, the magistrate, after hearing the case put forward by a trainee prosecuted for failure to register, imposed only a small fine, and that in order to ensure that bigger fines were imposed it was proposed to make the penalty not less than £10. I disagree with the making of any amendment to increase the penalty merely because in some cases the magistrate has not imposed a fine which either the Minister or his officers feel should be imposed.
A person who is charged with failure to register has to place his case before a court, and in doing so he gives reasons why he did not register on the due date. The magistrate, after hearing those reasons, decides that a certain fine will meet the case. It may be that the reason why the trainee did not register is, in the belief of the magistrate, a reasonable one and because of that he is not prepared to impose a stiff penalty.
I think that magistrates, in discharging their duties under the National Service Act, have been, in the main, reasonable and fair, and I cannot see any just reason in the fact that some small fines have been imposed for making the minimum penalty £10. The provision which already exists in the act is a reasonable one. The penalty provided is £50, which means that the magistrate may impose that penalty, or a penalty less than that. The Minister should not say that the penalty should be increased because the fines have been too small. To me that is not a valid reason for the proposed amendment.
Clause 21 (2.) provides three reasons as a defence to a prosecution for failure to register. Some of these include provisions which, in normal circumstances, would never be complied with by a national service trainee. For instance, paragraph (c) provides a defence if he proves that, within 35 days after the date of delivering the registration form, he notifies, by writing under his hand posted by registered post to the registrar at the National Service Registration Office, that he had not received a certificate of registration. A trainee could very easily notify the National Service Registration Office by post that he had not received the call-up notice which he expected, but it is not a defence unless the letter is registered. That will be imposing upon the trainee a technical condition that, in my opinion, is not fair. I see no reason for this proposed amendment. I think that the magistrates have imposed penalties which they believe suited the particular cases. It may well be that a person has sent along a notification of registration which has been mislaid, lt may not have been received at the registration office.
– I do not wish to interrupt, but are you aware that in the notice that goes out there is reference to the fact that if the youths have not heard from the office within a certain date they are to communicate with it. There is a safeguard if a man genuinely has attempted to send in his notice and feels it has gone astray.
– Even so, there are instances where persons who have not received a notice have been prosecuted. Upon the circumstances being explained, the magistrate has said, “ In these circumstances I do not think the trainee is to blame, but there has been a breach of the law, and I will fine him a nominal amount “. It is now suggested that even when a reasonable case is presented a person will not get away with a light fine, as the minimum fine is to be £10. I think that it is unnecessary. I suggest that the existing penalty of £50 meets all cases and allows a magistrate to exercise the discretion which he is entitled to exercise in such a case.
– This amendment is the result of several years’ experience of the working of this particular aspect of the act. If, in point of fact, we had found that magistrates were behaving in the manner which the honorable gentleman has indicated, there may have been no necessity to move along these lines. But it has been quite clear from our examination of the various cases which have arisen and the way they have been dealt with, that the general approach of different magistrates, not to cases of the same type but to the problem of penalty, varies very considerably. Although some magistrates consider cases in which the same set of circumstances, broadly speaking, are involved, the penalties that they impose are very different. Surely, then, it is very much fairer for this Parliament to give some indication of what it regards as the minimum penalty which should apply. We believe that that is the more justified because there is ample opportunity in the procedures which we adopt for any man to cover himself against accident or misadventure. Following the passage of this amendment, that provision will be given even greater prominence on the document that goes out and he will be told that if he has not heard from the department within a certain time after he has posted his registration form, he has to contact the department again.
With those safeguards we say that in every case of which we can conceive, it will the man who is defaulting in his obligation who will be coming before the magistrate or will at least have a charge preferred against him and the charge will still have to be proved. If the honorable member were aware of the problem of tracing defaulters and the necessity for having people measure up to their obligations, I think he would concede the fairness of this provision.
.- I do not think that the Minister has satisfactorily answered the argument advanced by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey). Why limit the discretion that is now in the hands of the presiding officer in the court? If it is decided that the court is the correct place to determine the nature of the offence and impose a penalty, why limit the presiding officer’s discretion? As the honorable member for Bendigo has pointed out, it all depends on the nature of the case presented by the accused person as to what penalty is imposed upon him. In this Parliament honorable members agree that the court, as a judicial body, is the right authority to determine a penalty. Therefore, why should there be any difference made in this case?
Can the Minister give any example to illustrate the argument he has advanced? He said that magistrates adopt different attitudes in dealing with these offences and impose varying penalties. But does not that apply in every type of case? The result depends largely on the attitude of the presiding officer of the court. That applies whether the presiding officer is a judge or a magistrate. All honorable members have heard of varying penalties imposed for what might be regarded as similar offences. This seems to be an unnecessary amendment of the act. If these matters have to be determined by a court, then the discretion of the magistrate should not be limited in the manner suggested in the amendment proposed by the Minister.
Question put -
That the clause be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. G.J. Bowden.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 22 agreed to.
Clause 23 (Failure to render service).
.- This clause lays down the penalty which may be imposed on persons who fail to render service. The penalty is that such a person may be taken into the custody of a prescribed authority specified by the court and in addition be liable to a fine of £50. Once the principle of universality is abandoned the right to take people into custody or to fine them or to force them into national service training or any other service, is abandoned also. I believe that this clause is indefensible and ought to be thrown out. Under its provisions, it will be possible for some people to take trainees into custody and deliver them into the custody of a prescribed authority. They can be then taken into what is now called a corrective training establishment. They will be made to hate the Army and so will their families, and that attitude will spread to the whole of the training scheme.
I repeat that once the principle of universality is abandoned, the right to impose penalties of this nature is abandoned also. The only hope of building up the defence service is to adopt a voluntary basis. If it is necessary to provide punitive clauses in order to build up an army to strength, that fact alone demonstrates the complete failure of this system. This clause should be rejected root and branch. It should be thrown out, lock, stock and barrel.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 24 (Persons to furnish information).
– Clause 24 seeks to insert in the principal act a new section to follow section 52 which relates to persons who may be required to answer questions. The clause reads -
After section fifty-two of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - “ 52a. - (1.) The Secretary may, by notice in writing served on a person whose liability to render service has been deferred under section thirty-one of this Act, require the person, by writing under his hand, to notify the Registrar specified in the notice of the occurrence of an event specified in the notice, being an event which relates to the liability of the person to render service under this Act, and that person shall, within fourteen days after the occurrence of the event specified in the notice, notify the Registrar accordingly.”
When there was something approaching universal service under the act, I suppose there may have been some justification for this provision although I do not know why it was necessary to force persons who were registered under the act to give information about other persons who apparently had not registered. I believe that this provision could have been met much better through the local police or somebody of that sort.
Under this measure, however, provision is made for deferred service. In the terms of the amendment, persons will be required to register for service, but they will have no other liability. Their service will be deferred. Nevertheless, as a result of registering, they will continue to have this liability to give evidence when required against other persons who apparently have not registered. In those circumstances, this clause becomes indefensible, and I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) to examine it again from that point of view.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 25 and 26 agreed to.
Clause 27 (Postage of forms, &c).
– Clause 27 deals with the postage of forms and other matter. Apparently all forms are posted, but there is to be a conclave of heads of departments about the postage because the clause seeks to amend section 58 of the principal act -
Surely, in this day and age, instead of highly paid public servants conferring to ascertain the amount that should be paid, it would be very much simpler to use franking machines. In these days of postal franking machines, it is not necessary to buy stamps and lick them. The forms could be franked for postage before they are despatched. If the forms and other matter covered by this proposed amendment are not to be posted free, andif the Postal Department is to be reimbursed after somebody has estimated the number of forms that have been posted, I cannot understand why the officials cannot use franking machines and save all this unnecessary bother.
– I assume that the Department of Labour and National Service will go about the procedure that has been mentioned by the honorable member in the most efficient and cheapest way it can, but I will have the honorable member’s suggestion considered if such an arrangement has not already been considered.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 28 to 30 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
House adjourned at 1136 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Commonwealth Investigation Service.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Unemployment at Wollongong.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
t asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The estimated strength of Israel, Egypt, Syria and Jordan in terms of forces and equipment is summarized below. The particulars given have been derived from published material of recent origin.
Israel has a regular army of approximately 50,000. In addition the militia, in which all ablebodied adults are enlisted, is kept in a state of readiness. Israel has several hundred tanks most of them dating from the period of World War II. and of American or French origin, although some captured from Egypt in November may be Russian or British. The Israeli air force has over 100 first line aircraft including some jet fighters of British and French design. The Israeli navy has two destroyers and about twenty patrol vessels from Western sources. In addition there is a frigate captured from the Egyptians.
Egypt has a regular army of approximately 100,000 organized in three divisions and an armoured formation. It has several hundred tanks, mostly of Western (British and American) or Russian World War II. types, including some Russian machines of Josef Stalin III. type. There are also some armoured troop carriers of Soviet bloc manufacture. The Egyptian air force lost a number of aircraft on the ground in November last, but as a result of further Russian deliveries may still have well over 100 front line aircraft, including some British but now mostly Russian jet fighters. The Egyptian navy has four destroyers, about 30 patrol vessels and fifteen to twenty motor torpedo boats. These vessels are from both Western and Russian sources.
Syria has a regular army of approximately 30,000. It has a substantial number of Russian medium tanks as well as armoured troop carriers and self propelled guns. The air force has some fighters (both British and Russian in origin) as well as transport and communication aircraft. There is no naval force of any consequence.
Jordan has a regular army of about 20,000 (the former Arab Legion) including an armoured formation, with tanks and armoured cars of British origin. The air force is relatively small, consisting of a dozen fighters and a few general purpose aircraft
t asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Australian Department of Native Welfare and report directly to such departments on aboriginal matters. In addition, the senior range reconnaissance officer is an accredited native welfare officer of both South and Western Australian departments, and reports regularly to those departments. The question of compensation does not arise as there has been no interference with the aboriginal way of living.
b asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
February, 1957, £225,521.
b asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
What was the cost to his department in the last financial year of advertising in each of the daily newspapers published in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Newcastle, Townsville and Launceston?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Sydney.- “ Morning Herald”, £4,617; “Daily Telegraph “, £2,029; “ Mirror “, £94; “ Sun “, £94.
Brisbane.-“ Courier-Mail “, £4,566; “ Daily Telegraph “, £3,798.
Perth- “ Westralian “, £2,4.39; “Daily News”, £590.
Newcastle.-“ Herald “, £220.
Launceston. - “ Examiner “, £694.
Melbourne.- “ Age “, £4,801; “Argus”, £5,255; “Sun”, £2,636-, “Herald”, £2,830.
Adelaide.-“ Advertiser “, £4,262; “ News “ £1,271; “Mail”, £525; “Chronicle”, £105.
Hobart.- “ Mercury “, £815.
Townsville.- “Bulletin”, £84; “Register”, £25.
d asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Defence Production, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2, 3 and 4. Further dismissals of employees in the aircraft maintenance branch at Northcote, Botany and Northfield are not contemplated in the immediate future. There could be minor staff adjustments at any one or more of those locations resulting from the review of administrative and accounting procedures which is currently in hand under Public Service Board’ direction. The level of employment generally at those locations in the longer term will depend on the scale of orders from the service departments when their programmes for 1957-58 have been decided.
on asked the Minister for Defence Production, upon notice - 1.. Has any firm decision been arrived at regarding future aircraft production in Australia?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Royal Australian Air Force Hangar at Richmond.
m asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) Yes. (b) No. (c) Yes, but without the limitation referred to. (d) Yes. 2. (a) 6th July, 1956. (c) 1st March, 1957. (d) 2nd November, 1956. 3. (a) 21st August, 1956. (c) 11th April, 1957. (d) 9th March, 1957. 4. (a) 1st November, 1956. (c) and (d) 1st July, 1957.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following replies: -
Statistics are not available to show the number or amount of new advances made by the trading banks during the eighteen months period in question, whether to purchase a house already built or to build a house. 3 and 4. The honorable member is referred to statements by the Prime Minister to the House in the course of his speech on 20th March, 1957, recorded in “ Hansard “ of that day.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 May 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1957/19570514_reps_22_hor15/>.