House of Representatives
26 March 1958

22nd Parliament · 3rd Session

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

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Election of Leaders


– I wish to inform honorable members that I have today resigned as Leader of the Australian Country party. The party has unanimously elected the right honorable member for Murray (Mr. McEwen) as its leader.

Minister for Trade · MURRAY, VICTORIA · CP

– I wish to inform the House that the Australian Country party has unanimously elected the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Davidson) as deputy leader of the party.

Prime Minister · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– My right honorable colleague, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), notwithstanding the previous announcements, will continue to be Treasurer in the Cabinet. 1 am very happy to say that, as indeed, we all are. As he will continue to be a very senior and significant member of the Government, 1 do not propose at this stage to occupy time by saying all those things that all of us have in our hearts and minds about him. I will take an opportunity before the end of the year to give honorable members an opportunity of expressing to him what I know to be their deep personal affection and goodwill. On the political side, one cannot expect unanimity, but so far as I am concerned I have had a rich and deep experience of association with him as Leader of the Australian Country party and as Deputy Prime Minister. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), as the Leader of the Australian Country party, will become the Deputy Prime Minister.


– Leaving party politics out of it, 1 want to say that I believe that all honorable members on the Opposition side wish the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) all happiness on his retirement from the position of Leader of the Australian Country party. We know the work that the right honorable gentleman has done for his party. I remember especially the work that he did during the great crisis of World War II. I shall never forget what he did then for the country. I wish to extend congratulations to his successor.

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– I preface a question to the Minister for Immigration by stating that I understand it to be the policy of the Department of Immigration to refuse naturalization to persons who are known to be supporters of the Communist party. In order to ascertain the facts, security reports are obtained and acted upon to decide whether or not a person will be naturalized. I want to know from the Minister whether the refusal to naturalize known Communists is for any other purpose than to prevent them, from recording a vote at parliamentary elections for the Communist party - the party of their choice. I should like to know whether the Minister intends to continue this policy. If so, will he state how he reconciles such a policy with the law of the land which gives Australian-born citizens the right to vote for Communist party candidates?


– Order! I think the honorable member ought to come to the question. What is the question?


– Also, will the Minister state whether in future the Government proposes to use this method of determining whether or not a person should be naturalized and whether he will, in such cases, give to the person concerned the opportunity of defending himself against allegations made against his character or against his personal political views by the security service?

Minister for Immigration · ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– So far as I am aware, there is not now, nor has there been, any discrimination against applicants for naturalization merely on political grounds, But, Sir, as the honorable member for Hindmarsh has raised the subject of possible European-born Communist citizens of Australia in the future, I welcome this opportunity, at the beginning of my administration of this department, to say that, so far as I am concerned, no man who is a Communist will get any sympathy or support.

Mr Ward:

– What about if he is a Fascist or a Nazi?


– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney will cease interjecting.


– I am not interested in extremism of any kind. The honorable member should know that. So far as the Communist party is concerned, I feel that we have too many Communists in Australia already and, for myself, I do not propose to take any action whatsoever which will add to them.

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– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been directed to a proposal-


– Order! There is too much audible conversation in the chamber.


– I ask the right honorable gentleman whether his attention has been directed to a proposal-


– Order! The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith and the honorable member for West Sydney will remain silent.


– I shall start the question again. Has the attention of the right honorable gentleman been directed to a proposal, or apparent proposal, that the Commonwealth Government should cooperate with the States in securing the fingerprints of all persons, even including infants, in Australia? If this matter comes under the right honorable gentleman’s notice, will be consider also whether it would be necessary to have the usual photographs taken - presumably after the hair had been cropped? Finally, would it not then be necessary to appoint an expert committee with powerful microscopes to find what vestige of human dignity and individual right had been left to Australians in this Commonwealth?


– The honorable member asks me whether my attention has been directed to this matter. It has, only in the sense that I read some report in the newspapers about it. No such proposal has come before the Government and I would have great doubts as to whether this Government had any jurisdiction in such a matter, anyhow. If it does come before us, of course, we will give it proper consideration. At the moment, I have no very clear views on it, because I do not know exactly the nature of the proposal, but of course I appreciate the point made by the honorable member. It might turn out to be a new form of stamp collecting.

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– I ask the Prime Minister a question without notice. In view of the absence of any reference to civil defence in the Governor-General’s Speech, or in the Prime Minister’s statement on defence organization, together with the answer given by the Minister for Defence to the honorable member for Mackellar last week, are honorable members to assume that the Government has abandoned, for the time being, any real plans for civil defence? If so, is such abandonment based on the advice of the defence chiefs, and what is the nature of that advice? Does not the right honorable gentleman consider that, apart from any national emergency that may arise, civil defence training for the community generally could be of great value for peace-time purposes in building national morale and coping with various disasters, such as floods, fires, and accidents? Will the right honorable gentleman also agree that the building of arterial roads would serve a dual purpose?


– Some weeks ago, a discussion arose about civil defence. The matter is now under the particular examination of the Government, and at this stage I cannot say anything further about it.

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– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that very strong feeling exists about the tyrannical attitude of certain trade union leaders regarding the political affiliation of their members? Is the right honorable gentleman aware that such interference engenders in most men the same profound resentment as would compulsion with regard to their religious beliefs? In these circumstances, does the Minister intend to recommend to the Government legislation designed to prevent such gross violation of the essential rights and liberties of free men, or can he say whether such legislation is feasible?


– As I previously indicated to the House, aspects of the particular and difficult problem to which the honorable member has referred have been actively under consideration within my department. I have reached the stage now where I am considering a draft submission, and I hope that before long I shall be in a position to put some facts and recommendations before Cabinet dealing with this general problem.

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– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question relating to Indonesia. What is the position in Indonesia regarding the treatment and safety of Australian citizens? Has the right honorable gentleman’s attention been directed to broadcasts from Radio Australia, which reach Indonesia, to the effect that there is much agitation in Indonesia against Australians on the ground, as reported by Radio Australia, that Australians are taking an active part in fomenting rebellion? I assume, of course, that these allegations are entirely without foundation. Will the right honorable gentleman inquire into my second question, and state what he can regarding my first question?

Minister for External Affairs · LP

– With respect to the safety of Australians in Indonesia, when the troubles began in Central Sumatra the Australian Ambassador in Djakarta, under instructions, approached the Indonesian Government formally and asked it to accept full responsibility for the lives and property of all Australians in Indonesia. The obligation to protect Australians was readily and unequivocally accepted by the Indonesian Government.

In addition, our Ambassador in Djakarta has full discretion to take any action that he chooses for the protection of Australians and Australian interests in Indonesia. There are not many Australians in Indonesia. Speaking from memory, I should say that there are only about 280 or 290. The greater number of them are on the island of Java, and of them the greater number are in Djakarta itself. I think, from memory, that there are about seventeen Australians in Central Sumatra, the scene of the present trouble, and smaller numbers in the northern and southern Celebes, and other parts of Indonesia. I may say that there has been no action of any sort against any Australian citizen or Australian property since these troubles began.

We do not forget that Australia is in friendly diplomatic relations with the

Government of Indonesia, and we hope that things will remain that way. That is reflected in the fact that in respect of the Colombo plan we had entered into obligations towards the Government of Indonesia before these troubles began, and those obligations, so far as it is possible to carry them out, will, of course, be met. In respect of one or two matters, which are concerned with Central Sumatra, they clearly cannot be carried out under present circumstances but, for myself, I regard these matters regarding which we are committed to the” Indonesian Government as being in suspense until the country is entirely in a state of peace again.

With regard to the scribbling of rude words on the pavement outside the Australian Embassy in Djakarta lately, I like to believe that such actions are just pranks of some irresponsible Indonesian youths. At any rate, we have no indication that they are anything else. Any attempt to connect Seato in any way with the present occurrences in Indonesia is entirely foolish. We have not bothered to approach the Indonesian Government to ask for any dementi of the rude words scribbled on the pavement outside our embassy.

Dr Evatt:

– What about the Radio Australia broadcasts?


– I am not aware of that particular phase, but I will look into the matter.

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– Can the

Minister for Labour and National Service give the House any information concerning the ships “ Iron Master “ and “ Pattiwilya “, which have been held up around the Australian coast recently? Is it because the owners refused to make indemnity payments demanded by certain unions? Have the maritime unions ignored the instruction of the Australian Council of Trade Unions to cease demanding indemnity payments? If this instruction has been ignored by the maritime unions, does the Government intend taking any further action?


– The two ships mentioned by the honorable member are in the course of being manned and moved. I am not able to say whether there is any authoritative information that an indemnity payment was sought in relation to “ Iron Master “. The other ship, “ Pattiwilya “, was under a ban because it had been brought to Australia by other than an Australian crew. As to “ Iron Master “, following the failure to supply a crew for a tug to move this ship, the difficulty has now been overcome as a result of a direction from the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I understand that the tug moved the ship to a coaling berth, and it is now being loaded. As to “Pattiwilya”, which recently arrived from the United Kingdom, manned by a United Kingdom crew, a ban was imposed by certain maritime unions on the working of that ship. However, an order was made by the Commonwealth Industrial Court within the last few days, and I have been advised that this ship is now being manned. Painters and dockers have begun work on the ship, cooks have arrived to work on her, and the crew is being engaged. Judging by these developments, I imagine that there will be full compliance with the direction of the Commonwealth Industrial Court.

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– I. ask the PostmasterGeneral whether it is a fact that the practice of having all telephone equipment that is connected to the Postmaster-General’s departmental system installed by employees of the Postmaster-General’s Department is being abandoned. Does the Minister know that the external work is performed by members of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union and that the internal work is done by members of the Postal Telecommunications Technicians Association? These unions point out that, because of a Government direction, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is not catering for business subscribers who desire the installation of a private automatic exchange and is advising applicants to purchase these exchanges from, and have them installed by. private companies. Is the Minister aware that, because private enterprise is not overenthusiastic about this type of business, and because his department is vacating this public service field, industry, both private and public, is unable to procure this modern desirable communication service? Is the Minister aware that the unions, the members of which number 20,000, resent the handing over to private enterprise, for profit, of a public service which has been fully and efficiently rendered by the Postmaster-General’s technicians since federation? They also-


– Order! What is the question? The honorable member is giving information.


– Is the Minister aware that the unions also fear for their employment security? Will the Minister leave this essential service in the hands of the technicians of his department where it has been for a long time?

Postmaster-General · DAWSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

– I shall try to reply to the lengthy question of the honorable member for Banks in general terms, rather than apply myself to each of the details that he has mentioned. It is obvious that he was referring to a system which I announced in the House and in the press some considerable time ago - I think at least twelve months ago - when it was pointed out that the department proposed allowing the installation of the P.A.B.X. system in large business houses to be effected by manufacturers of this equipment.

It was pointed out that there was a very good reason for this decision, the reason being that, because of the very rapid expansion of industrial activity in Australia and the development of a great number of business firms which required large P.A.B.X. installations, the demand for these installations was so great that they could not all be carried out by the Postal Department without adversely affecting, to a very considerable degree, the installation of telephone and other similar services for ordinary subscribers and applicants throughout Australia.

Therefore, an arrangement has been made whereby certain accredited manufacturing organizations producing this equipment may negotiate with those firms which desire the equipment and so enable the equipment to be available to the firms without this having any adverse effect on the general body of telephone subscribers throughout the country. This does not mean, as the honorable member for Banks suggested, that there will be any loss of employment in the Postal Department for its technicians and similar grades of workers. If the honorable member looks at our employment figures he will find that the employment offering in the Postal Department is steadily increasing as a result of the very great extension of its business which has been due to the policy of this Government in supplying more and more capital funds to enable the proper demands of development throughout Australia to be met.

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– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Will the Minister, who was previously Minister for Civil Aviation, confer with the present holder of that portfolio with a view to giving the House further information on the installation of rearwardfacing seats in passenger aircraft used on Australian air routes, for purposes of safety? I remind the Minister that this subject has previously been raised in the House by me and by other honorable members. Perhaps the Minister may wish to anticipate the conference that I suggest and tell the House when this matter will be discussed by the International Civil Aviation Organization and steps taken to provide for this safety measure. Can the Minister also tell us why Australian airline operators are so rigidly opposed to the suggested practice, when the Department of Civil Aviation strongly favours it and, indeed, has supported a suggestion for its adoption at a meeting of the I.C.A.O.?

Minister for Supply · DENISON, TASMANIA · LP

– I shall be pleased to discuss with my colleague in another place the points raised by the honorable member, and obtain for him a detailed answer.

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– I direct a question to the Treasurer concerning the £15,000,000 that will be released to the trading banks from the Commonwealth Bank special account. As the Government will take no action to give directions concerning the use of these funds, will the Treasurer agree that it is necessary to obtain information as to the total amount lent as a result of the release of this £15,000,000 - which amount will be much greater than £15,000,000 - and also the amounts lent for housing and other classifiable purposes? Will the Treasurer take steps to see that this information is obtained and given to honorable members?


– I shall be pleased to examine the question and see to what extent I can comply with the honorable member’s request.

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– I ask the Minister for Defence whether it is a fact that service personnel have been used in carrying out a survey in the north-west of Western Australia. Has this survey been carried out in conjunction with the Surveys Branch of the Lands Department of Western Australia? Will lithographs be prepared by the survey party for use by the Western Australian Government? Will the Minister ascertain, if possible, the cost of the survey, and what benefits will ultimately accrue from it in the development of that part of the continent?

Minister for Defence · WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– I do not know the full details surrounding the matter referred to by the honorable member. I understand that a survey was made ki this area in connexion with oil search. I shall ascertain the facts and give the honorable member as much information as is available.

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– Is the Minister for Social Services aware that in many cases delays of up to three months occur between the dates of application and granting of age and invalid pensions at the Sydney office of the Department of Social Services? In view of the great hardship and suffering caused to many applicants by these delays, will the Minister take appropriate action, by appointing additional staff or by some other means, to ensure that all applications are handled with the minimum of delay?

Minister for Social Services · RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The Sydney directorate of the Department of Social Services is, of course, the largest directorate in the Commonwealth. There is a greater concentration of population in that city, which means that the Sydney directorate does more business than any other in Australia. I have tried to improve the situation, so far as I am able, by a process of decentralization, not only in New South Wales but also in the other States. Unfortunately and unhappily, the problem of decentralization is not easy to solve. So long as applications for social service benefits - no matter what they may be - have to be examined and measured against the strict letter and spirit of the Social Services Act, delays of this kind are unavoidable. No Commonwealth department is stronger than its weakest link, and the weakest link is its ability to discharge the physical task of performing the routine jobs of receiving and sorting letters, supplying the requested information, and posting the consequential replies.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service, who will recall a question that I asked last session seeking to have the Department of Labour and National Service sponsor an overseas visit by a group, or groups, of people drawn from those actively engaged in industry, for the purpose of promoting better relations and improved productivity. The Minister then, said that the matter would be considered. I remind him that, currently, a delegation led by the honorable member for Darling Downs is overseas for a similar purpose in trade matters. Has this matter been further considered, and, if so, can the Minister give the result of the further consideration?


– A proposal for an overseas visit by a delegation combining management and trade union representation for joint inspection and consultation, and the like - I am not sure whether it is of the precise kind that the honorable gentleman has in mind - has been discussed by the Standing Committee on Productivity, which functions under the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council. As a result of recent developments, which have led to the withdrawal of representatives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions from the advisory council, some uncertainty about the future of the standing committee has arisen. I hope that it will be found possible to continue the committee and to further these discussions that have been proceeding on the particular matter that, I think, the honorable gentleman has in mind. I will see whether I can give him any further information after I examine what has happened since I last looked into the situation concerning the standing committee.

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– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is still a fact that the Commonwealth Government does not oppose the principle of equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value. The right honorable gentleman will recall that phrase from the statement tabled in the House on 15th October, 1953, concerning the ratification of the convention and recommendation on equal pay adopted by the 1951 International Labour Conference. Will he confirm that the Australian Government delegates at that conference neither supported nor opposed the convention, but did support the recommendation? Does he know that the convention has already been approved by 24 countries, including every country on the continent of Europe except the Iberian and Scandinavian countries? Does he recall that, at the time of his statement to the House, Victoria had agreed to the Commonwealth’s ratifying the convention, and that only South Australia and Western Australia had refused to agree? Will the right honorable gentleman now approach the governments of the remaining States to ascertain their attitude, and will he make another approach to South Australia and Western Australia, in order to see whether Australia can now fulfil its international obligations in this regard?


– The long question asked by the honorable gentleman confirms the comment that I made yesterday to the effect that this is a highly complex matter. In fact, the honorable member has touched only on the fringes of it, as I am sure he is very well aware. This Government is not unsympathetic to the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. What we have pointed out is that the principle adopted by the main industrial tribunals in Australian wage-fixing over very many years has been to incorporate a social needs concept in the wage determined. I do not know that Opposition members, or, for that matter, the representatives of the trade unions, wish to get to a point at which a unitary wage is fixed lower than that which at present includes the social concept of family needs, and from there, work out a wage structure that would have regard to family responsibilities. Certainly, on the last four occasions when a basic wage application has been before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, as it was, or the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, as it is now, no application for equal pay has been lodged by the representatives of the trade unions seeking an increase in the basic wage. That, I suggest, is not without significance.

I also refer the honorable gentleman, whose interest in this matter is appreciated, to the quite forthright statements made by the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Cahill, in May, 1957 when he received a deputation from the trade union movement on this very subject. Mr. Cahill then gave powerful reasons to show why it was not desirable, or indeed practicable, for his Government to deal directly with this matter. In addition, we have the comments of Mr. Justice Foster to which I referred honorable gentlemen yesterday. Those comments would indicate that the strict application of this principle might very well result either in a reduction of the present male wage or, at least, a deferment or refusal at some future point of time of a wage increase which otherwise might have been within the power of the tribunal to award to the male bread-winner.

The principle has been applied, up to a point, by the Commonwealth Government in relation to its own employees. Although the base rate does differentiate, because it includes this social concept, when the margin which is added to the base rate is brought into consideration, equal margins are awarded to Commonwealth public servants, whether they be male or female employees.

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– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade a question. A few weeks ago, I made representations to the right honorable gentleman on behalf of the Vegetable Growers Association, which is protesting against the importation into Australia of deep frozen vegetables. I believe that an application on behalf of this association has also been lodged with the Tariff Board. Will the Minister inform me whether action will be taken in response to these representations?


– The honorable member has constantly interested himself in this matter. It is firm Government policy that protection for Australian industry should be afforded by way of customs tariff after a public investigation by the Tariff Board and not as a regular or normal action through import licensing. The vegetable industry has requested that its case be heard by the Tariff Board, and the Tariff Board has, I understand, recently held public inquiries into this matter. I hope - and, to the extent that I am able to influence the matter, I will see to it - that there is no avoidable delay whatever in bringing the finding of the Tariff Board before the Government for consideration.

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– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I desire to know whether the cost of construction of a new oil tanker at Whyalla, South Australia, for Ampol Petroleum Limited will be heavily subsidized by the Commonwealth. Is it a fact that, when completed, this tanker is to be registered overseas, thus enabling the engagement of a low-paid foreign crew? Will the Prime Minister take action to ensure that a condition of Commonwealth assistance in meeting the construction costs of such vessels from the proceeds of taxation levied on Australian citizens shall be the employment of Australian crews working under Australian award conditions?


– Part of the question put by the honorable member for East Sydney does not come within the province of my department. However, he is quite right in saying that there will be a substantial Commonwealth subsidy. I thought it was well known that, for the encouragement of shipbuilding in Australia, which is not confined to Whyalla, we do make substantial subsidies, and I thought that that was a policy which enjoyed the support of honorable members on both sides of the House. It is, indeed, particularly fortunate that very large vessels of this kind should be built at Whyalla, not only because of the impact ot these shipbuilding activities on the overall economy of South Australia, but also because the shipbuilding venture at Whyalla will be so large that it is bound to lead to the encouragement of shipbuilding elsewhere, particularly in Queensland and New South Wales. So I would have thought that we would have had the unanimous support of the Opposition on that matter. As to the rest of the honorable member’s question, I must consult my colleague.

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– I ask the

Minister for Primary Industry: Is it a fact that, just prior to the opening of the current wool selling season, a statement was made in England to the effect that continental buyers, including British buyers, had arranged, or were arranging, to act more in concert and not to bid against each other so fiercely, as a result of which many wool-growers have doubts about the non-existence of a wool-buyers’ ring operating in Australia? Has the Minister made investigations with a view to ascertaining whether such a buyers’ ring is operating at wool sales in Australia? If such a buyers’ ring is operating, are there any means by which it can be combated through Government action?

Minister for Primary Industry · LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I was not aware that overseas interests had made a statement that it was intended to operate a buyers’ ring in Australia during the current wool selling season; but, subsequent to a question being asked by the member for Lalor two weeks ago, I had comprehensive inquiries made by the Department of Primary Industry about the matter, and I am informed that there is no evidence to support the conclusion that a buyers’ cartel is operating in this country. Indeed, I think the evidence shows that it would be impracticable for a buyers’ cartel to operate on any substantial scale. The honorable gentleman, and particularly many members of the Australian Country party in this House, will remember that in 1948 a detailed inquiry was held into the possibility of cartels of buyers operating at wool auctions. The finding was that, due to the fact that so much wool was purchased by overseas interests, it was improbable that any cartel could operate satisfactorily, and certainly could not significantly affect the price of wool sold at auction in Australia.

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– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade whether it is a fact-


– Order! There is too much audible conversation. The honorable member cannot be heard above some of the conversation going on, and I direct the attention of honorable members to that fact.

Mr Ward:

– Hear, hear!


– The honorable member for East Sydney is one of the worst offenders.


– Will the Minister for Trade say whether it is a fact that over the first seven months of the current financial year Australia’s trade surplus dropped to £53,700,000 compared to a surplus of £122,600,000 for the same period in the preceding year? Will the Minister confirm the report that the January trade deficit of £10,700,000 was the first monthly deficit incurred since last August, compared to a surplus of £26,000,000 for January of the preceding year? Will the Minister inform the House whether the Government has any plans to arrest those alarming trends and the unemployment produced by them?


– A large part of the honorable member’s question relates to statistics. I shall secure the information for him on that aspect of his question and advise him accordingly. I should have thought that the honorable member would have known that the Government has taken the most vigorous measures, which have been operating for some considerable time, to stimulate the export earnings of this country. If the honorable member does not know this, the rest of the world knows it very well. There is scarcely an important actual or potential market anywhere in the whole world in which the Government has not a trade commissioner service operating. It is also spending very considerable sums on trade publicity. There are organizations, some governmental, some private and some a combination of both, operating within Australia and overseas to increase our trade. Trade missions are constantly proceeding from this country overseas. My friend, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Trade, will lead one of the latest missions to South-East Asia in the next few weeks.

There is a constant flow of congratulatory communications from businessmen in Australia expressing appreciation of the services that are being accorded by the representatives of the Government in Australia and throughout the rest of the world. The Export Payments Insurance Corporation set up by the Government to assist Australian exporters about seven or eight months ago has already underwritten £8,500,000 of export trade, a good deal of which perhaps would not have been obtained had that instrumentality not been established. I am sorry that the honorable gentleman does not pay enough attention to know some of these things.

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Reference to Public Works Committee

Minister tor the Interior and Minister for Works · Paterson · LP

– I move -

That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1953, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report, namely: - Erection of automatic telephone exchange and post office building at Pott’s Point, Sydney.

The proposal provides for the erection of a building at Pott’s Point on a Commonwealth owned site bounded by Macleaystreet on the west and Greenknowe and Crick avenues on the south and north. The building is required to provide additional equipment area for extensions to the automatic telephone facilities serving the metropolitan area of Sydney. Space is also required to establish a new post office for the area which will replace the present post office operated in rented premises. The proposed building, which will consist of a lower ground floor, ground floor and first floor, will be a structural steel-framed unit with monolithic floors and face brick exterior. The estimated cost of the proposal is £400,000. I table the plans of the proposed building.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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Second Reading

Debate resumed from 20th March (vide page 515), on motion by Sir Philip McBride -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Leader of the Opposition · Barton

– The Opposition supports the bill that is before the House.


– Order! There is too much audible conversation, particularly among members of the Australian Country party.


– The bill extends to representatives in Australia of Ghana and the Federation of Malaya such diplomatic privileges and amenities as other nations enjoy in Australia.


– Order! I must ask honorable members again to remain silent. Some honorable members are unable to hear the Leader of the Opposition. Audible conversations are contrary to the Standing Orders, and I do not want to be forced to direct the attention of honorable members to this matter again.


– The two new nations whose representatives are to become entitled to enjoy diplomatic rights and immunities are both members of the Commonwealth which used to be called the British Commonwealth of Nations. This must be one of the first pieces of legislation in which the term “ British “ does not appear and is replaced by the new name. The change came about quite incidentally with the recognition of new members of the British Commonwealth. The word “ colony “ has disappeared in those cases, and Pakistan, India and Ceylon have attained a new status. Two of them - India and Pakistan - are republics.

At the same time, things are getting so complicated in the world to-day, and there are so many Commonwealths, that it would have been more advisable in my opinion to retain the term British Commonwealth to identify the particular Commonwealth to which reference is being made. Some of the amendments have been inserted to ensure that there is no ambiguity when reference is made to Australia and not the Commonwealth. In Australia, the term “ Commonwealth “ is generally applied to Australia itself. There are at least four

Commonwealths in the States of the United States of America. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Commonwealth of Virginia are two of them. The use of the term in documents and statutes of the Commonwealth, therefore, creates some trouble and ambiguity. However, that is a minor point.

The Opposition supports the bill. We welcome Ghana and the Federation of Malaya into the association of nations. It is almost miraculous to see a nation like Ghana, which was until recently the Gold Coast Colony, becoming a full member first of the Commonwealth - which I call the British Commonwealth for the purpose of identification - and, almost simultaneously, a member of the United Nations. Similarly, the Federation of Malaya is a nation which was overwhelmed for a long period during World War II. and has gone through great internal difficulties. It has now been admitted into our group. I do not think that process will stop there but that it will develop. I believe that we shall see the West Indies in the group eventually, as well as many African colonies, and the number will be great. That is all to the good not only for other members of the Commonwealth but also for the peace of the world.

If these rights are given to foreign nations they must be given also to the representatives of the countries within the Commonwealth. They reciprocate by recognizing our representatives. On those matters there is no disagreement at all, but I still believe that honorable members on the Opposition side who pointed out in 1952 some of the complications and anomalies which spring from diplomatic immunities were right. It is becoming anomalous to the situation in Australia to-day that persons who belong to the staffs of diplomats and who are diplomats themselves should be immune from process. In Australia, both the States and the Commonwealth have subjected themselves voluntarily, by act of Parliament, to the absolute rule that they are bound by the law just as is a private person. Therefore, if a Commonwealth vehicle is driven negligently, the citizen can recover damages against the Commonwealth Government just as he could if he were suing another citizen. That is absolutely just. It has been the law of most nf the States nt Anc tralia for some 60 or 70 years. It is very unsatisfactory when a person is injured or killed as the result of negligent driving of a diplomatic vehicle and sometimes - I do not say often - recovery is hindered by the application of this rule of diplomatic immunity. It applies also to the relationships between employer and employee, if the diplomatic posts employ Australians in any capacity at all.

These rights are not fully dealt with in the bill, of course. They flow from general international law but they are summed up in clause 4 by the references to immunity from suit and legal process, inviolability of the residences, official premises and official archives and so on. I think that some time ago the Minister had this matter brought to his attention. Apart from the main amendment, we on this side of the House would like to see some modification so that the system works smoothly. We in this country expect our representatives to be bound by the law, because they are only representing the Commonwealth, just as these other nations are being represented. We expect to have the law applied generally so that the injured person, or the person who complains and seeks redress, will not be met, as he sometimes is, by the plea of diplomatic privilege or immunity.

I need not elaborate on what I have said. The bill is a necessary measure. It is historic in the sense that it is the recognition by statute of the place to which these new nations have come. In one sense, they have come slowly because they were colonies over so long a period, but in another sense they have come quickly. It is due to the great charters that came into existence as a result of the war that these nations have made this rapid development. First, there was the Atlantic Charter, then the Charter of the United Nations itself, and all the other international arrangements that were made. The promise made to these people was made on behalf of Australia, as well as on behalf of the British Commonwealth generally. The promise was of complete self-government. There was no qualification to it, and in the long run one tends to see the truth of the famous saying of Campbell-Bannerman, the great British statesman who was responsible for the pacification of South Africa after the great war there, that self-government is better than good government. He meant that there never would be good government unless the people had self-government. But there are many more countries to be added to the list. I say: Let that development go on. I am sure that the Minister favours it, and I can assure him that all of us on this side favour it. Therefore, we support the bill.

East Sydney

.- I rise to support the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). I should have thought that long before this, the Government would have sought some international conference at which the question of the immunity of foreign representatives could be reviewed. It is prefectly true, as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, that the average Australian citizen does not question the right of these people to protection so that their work of representing their various countries and putting their viewpoints will be unhindered by any vindictive action that might be taken against them by the government in charge of a country at a particular time. But no reasonable citizen, either here or in any other country, believes that all the immunities now enjoyed by these representatives ought to be continued. If they are to be continued, Australian citizens should be protected. If our citizens cannot be protected while the immunities remain as they are, the government of the day ought to accept some responsibility in cases of workers’ compensation, and injury in accidents in which diplomatic cars are involved. There should be some guarantee by the Government that any unfortunate Australian citizens involved in such cases will be cared for and protected by the Government, even if the persons responsible are not legally, under present arrangements, subject to ordinary processes of the courts.

We are concerned about the abuse of these privileges. There is no doubt in the world that in the past they have been abused, but whenever questions have been raised in this Parliament the Government’s attitude has been, “ You must not even discuss it; you must not raise the matter; it is not done “. Everybody in this chamber, and many people outside it, know that these rights are abused. Let me give one or two illustrations: There are on record in Government departments a number of cases - I would not care to state the number offhand, without checking the records - of cars being imported into this country ostensibly for diplomatic service and sold on the Australian market at a quite handsome profit. No duty is payable on these cars, so they come in quite cheaply. Surely no member of this Parliament believes that that sort of immunity ought to continue. Here in Canberra, not so long ago, a lady who had been brought to this country by a representative of another country was injured in the course of her work. Because of this immunity, she was denied the ordinary protection afforded to workers by the Australian law. It is my opinion, as one representative at least in this Parliament, that immunity should not extend to that point.

Honorable members will recollect, also, that excessive supplies of duty-free liquor were purchased by one legation. Diplomatic missions are, of course, allowed to import whatever supplies they require without the payment of duty, but if the Government cares to face up to the matter, it will find that there are records to prove that in one instance at least - I do not say there was only one, because there may be others - excessive quantities of liquor were purchased by a legation and then sold on the black market during a period when liquor was in great demand and short supply. Surely the Government does not suggest that we ought to allow that to continue.

This question has been raised in the Parliament time and time again. I have been here now for quite a number of years and I have heard it raised on a number of occasions. But it appears that any protest is regarded as just a speech, and there the matter ends. Nothing happens about it. I am not suggesting that the Government can take action immediately, because obviously in a question of diplomatic immunity action must be taken on an international level, after consultation with other countries. But 1 want the Government to initiate a discussion on this matter at the next opportunity. It ought to be raised and discussed at an international conference. It is not a question in respect of which there is complaint merely from Australia. I would venture the opinion that, if the facts were known, it would be found that, in every country there have been protests from the ordinary citizens against this abuse of privilege. These representatives of other countries appear to be just a select and protected class in world affairs. They are not subject to the laws to which the ordinary citizen is subject.

I want the Government to consider this matter. In the meantime, until some agreement on an international level can be obtained, I should like the Government to undertake the responsibility of meeting any claim which is supported, substantiated 01 determined by some authority, such as one of our courts, against an overseas representative or his servant. Where the responsibility lies on one of these representatives but cannot be legally sheeted home to him, the government of the day ought to accept the responsibility of meeting any claim for damages as a result of accident. We have to remember that this immunity does not apply only to the direct representative of another country. It applies to everybody whom he brings to this country or who is employed on his staff. Any officer attached to one of these foreign legations may disregard our traffic laws, drive on the wrong side of the road or under the influence of lit,uor, or be involved in an accident resulting in serious injury or death to an Australian citizen, but nothing can be done about it. Persons injured are left to lament and suffer. 1 think that that state of affairs ought to end. I hope that the Government will not regard this protest as merely another speech in the records of the Parliament, but will recognize that the time has now arrived to consider this matter seriously from the basis that I have mentioned.


– Diplomatic immunity is a subject about which I have had something to say in the House on several occasions. Diplomatic immunity is recognized by the Australian people as being necessary for the protection of overseas representatives in this country.

Mr Casey:

– Will the honorable member please speak a little louder. I cannot hear him very clearly.


– I shall try to do so, but if I do not get a better reply from the Minister than the one I received on 20th November last year, speaking louder will avail me nothing.

The aspects of diplomatic immunity that most affect the people of this country are those that relate to traffic laws and offences, employment and compensation. I understand that, due to representations that have been made in this House over the years, the Commonwealth authorities now insist that when a D.C. plate is issued for a motor vehicle an undertaking must be given that the vehicle will be covered by third party insurance. That is a step in the right direction, but it does not of itself increase the protection given to any person who may be injured in an accident involving that vehicle. Diplomatic immunity is not something that must be claimed, lt is something that exists until such time as it is waived. Although a third party insurance policy may be taken out in respect of a vehicle bearing D.C. plates, the injured third party cannot sue to recover damages unless immunity is waived. I understand that to be the position. Perhaps some of the qualified legal members of this House could explain the position more clearly than I can. It may be that by undertaking to take out third party insurance the diplomatic mission has accepted a responsibility to meet some payments; but since immunity protects against legal suit and process, it seems to me that the protection is not complete unless it is followed by a waiving of immunity so that the injured party may sue the representative of the overseas government and recover from the insurance company.

Another vital matter was referred to by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) when they spoke of the need for some provision to give protection to Australians or other people employed either in the offices of diplomatic missions or in the homes of employees of diplomatic missions. It is true, as the honorable member for East Sydney said, that diplomatic immunity may extend to all employees of a foreign embassy or mission. It can extend only, I understand, if the head of the mission issues a certificate of immunity in respect of each employee, so that only if the diplomatic car is being driven by an employee not covered by a certificate of immunity can the injured party seek to recover damages. Similarly, diplomatic immunity under the certificate of immunity can extend, as 1 understand it, to the homes in which employees of the diplomatic missions are domiciled. 1 referred to a case of this kind in the House on 20th November last year. The case concerned a woman who had come to this country to be employed as a nurse or “ nanny “ in the home of a member of the United Kingdom High Commission staff, and who suffered an injury in the course of her employment. The injury occurred in June, 1956. As a result of that injury the woman spent a very considerable time in hospital. She incurred very considerable expense, and during the course of her treatment she recovered sufficiently to resume her employment. She was still encased in a plaster cast when she returned to her employment. After her return to her employment, she jumped up hastily one night to attend to the child of the house and suffered a further injury.

While she was in hospital in Sydney as a result of this further injury she received a note from her employer saying that he was invoking the “ break “ clause in the contract, and that her services would be terminated.- Because no policy under the Workers’ Compensation Ordinance had been taken out by the employer, and because diplomatic immunity existed, this woman could not recover any of the expenses that she had incurred, nor recover any damages for the injury that she had sustained. Although the initial injury occurred in June, 1956, this woman is still encased in a plaster cast from her neck to her thighs and has had the whole of her future life blighted because of the accident that occurred during the course of her employment in the home of a member of the staff of the United Kingdom High Commissioner, and because diplomatic immunity applied. She was unable to sue, and she was not covered by workers’ compensation.

I know that this case has been mentioned in the House previously. I have mentioned it myself. It is the case of Miss St. Claire Paterson, and it received some publicity iff the Sydney press. The matter has been referred, I understand, to the Commonwealth Relations Office of the United Kingdom. I have personally referred it to the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Canberra, but so far this woman has received no damages for the injury she sus tained, and no payment towards the heavy expenses she has had to bear, solely because of the injury she sustained in the course of her employment, and in respect of which, had she been an Australian employed in an Australian home or in an Australian place of business, she would have been fully protected. I mentioned the matter in the House on 20th November, 1957, and on that occasion the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) undertook to have inquiries made and to advise me further on the matter. The Minister said - l rise in respect of the matter raised by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser). I have heard of the case referred to by the honorable member but I am by no means aware of all the facts. However, I shall go into the matter and so far as it affects my departmental responsibility, that is in respect of diplomatic privilege, I shall advise the honorable member as soon as I become aware of the facts surrounding this case.

I take this opportunity to remind the Minister, who, in the meantime, has been exceptionally busy, that I have, as yet, received no further word from him. This woman is in dire straits. She is suffering heavy financial loss, and her whole future life has been blighted because of the injury she sustained, and for which she has received no compensation whatever. As this woman is now an Australian citizen, and is enrolled as an elector, I think we should do all in our power to help her, even if it means, as suggested by the honorable member for East Sydney, acceptance of some responsibility in the matter by the Government itself.


.- I associated myself with the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), and welcome the extension of diplomatic privileges to the two new nations mentioned by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). I have had some dealings with diplomatic immunity, and I think that at times it extends beyond reasonable limits. I think it is proper that those who are officially associated with an embassy should be afforded this consideration, but it often happens that people who are identified with the life of an embassy are nationals of the country in which the embassy is located. It is a peculiar circumstance that a person who is a national of a country should be exempted from that country’s laws because he is employed in an embassy.

When I was Australian Ambassador in Washington, a member of the embassy staff committed a breach of the United States laws. If he had been proceeded against, no doubt he would have claimed immunity; I think quite wrongly. Yet, there was no means by which one could say that such a person was not enjoying the rights and privileges of immunity, but the reflection of his misdemeanour would have come upon the embassy itself, by reason of that immunity.

Those who are officially associated with an embassy are entitled to consideration, but have obligations to the community, as mentioned by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) and other honorable members. They enjoy the rights of the civil community and the community should be safeguarded against any act by them which would create difficulty or danger for any member of the community. We should retain to the individual citizen of a country the right to make some claim against those who have offended or have created a difficulty or hurt to them. I feel that in extending the rights of immunity to any one engaged in embassy work, there are certain anomalies, and I earnestly suggest to the Minister that he carefully review the situation and see whether it is possible for better arrangements to be made.

Minister for External Affairs · La Trobe · LP

.- In brief reply, particularly to the observations which have fallen from honorable members of the Opposition, I may say, first of all in response to a remark by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), that I understand there are certain amendments to the Diplomatic Immunities Act on the stocks, which do not appear in this amending measure. They were not ready for incorporation in it. There is also the fact that the International Law Commission has been considering, for some little time now, the general subject of diplomatic immunities; and I understand that at the forthcoming United Nations Assembly their observations will be available to all countries. I have not seen them myself, yet, but I should expect that at least some of them would bear consideration of their incorporation in the domestic law of a number, if not all, of the countries which are members of the United Nations organization.

The honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) and I have occupied the same diplomatic post and I expect that recollection is in the mind of each of us. We had the responsibility of having our own staffs enjoy diplomatic immunity with us. I know that the honorable member exercised the privilege that fell to him, in the way that I, myself, tried to do, to imbue the members of the staff with the fact that there was an obligation upon them to observe the laws and regulations of the country to which we were accredited. I hope that obligation will be observed generally in this and in every other country. Now and again allegations are made, particularly by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), to the effect that greater quantities of liquor and other things are brought into this country by members of certain diplomatic missions than is necessary for their needs. At least once, and I think on more than one occasion in the past, this matter was looked into at the instance of the Government and it was found, in fact, that there was no such abuse of diplomatic privilege.

I, myself, believe that the vast majority of diplomats and their staffs in this country observe meticulously the laws, practices and regulations of this country. The host country - in this case Australia - has always the ability, if it is convinced a gross breach of privilege of diplomatic immunity has occurred, of declaring an offender persona non grata. That action has been taken only rarely. In fact, I do not remember in my time or even before it the need arising to apply this rather drastic sanction. As I have already said, I believe that the vast majority of diplomats and their staffs decently observe the laws and conventions of the country in which they are placed.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

The bill.


.- I wish to take up the time of the committee for a few minutes to refer, in particular, to clause 3 of the bill which provides -

The title of the principal act is amended by omitting the words “ parts of the Queen’s dominions “ and inserting in their stead the words “ Countries within the Commonwealth of Nations “.

I wish to say at once that, in the absence of any explanation, this is rather an offensive clause to me. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) adverted to the fact that the word “ British “ had been omitted from the description of the Commonwealth of Nations. He mentioned that it was a pity that this word had been left out, if only for purposes of identification. He pointed out that there were now so many commonwealths that it would be a good idea to know precisely what commonwealth one was dealing with at any given time.

That is one side of the coin. The other side of the coin, to me, is that I regret the deletion of the word “ British “, primarily on the ground of sentiment.

Mr Casey:

– On what ground?


– Sentiment. I think we have come a long way and it is a great pity to see the stage now reached where, apparently, the term “ British “ is offensive to many people who, for many years, have enjoyed the privileges and advantages of being within the British Commonwealth of Nations. I do not know what the explanation for it is, but I hope that the Minister will give an explanation.


– The second-reading speech makes it perfectly clear.


– That is a matter of opinion; I am not convinced on the reasons given there. 1 have always felt that the abandonment of the term “ British Empire “ was bad enough and that the embracing of the term “ British Commonwealth “ was to be regretted. But to me and to those people who regard British things as being good and respectable, it is the height of folly to see the word “ British “ omitted from a bill of this character. I appeal to the Minister to explain precisely why the word “ British “ has been left out of the bill. I should like him to know that as far as I am concerned - and I am pretty sure that I express the view of many people in this country - the fact that some people within the British Commonwealth of Nations object to the word “ British “ is no valid or sound reason for abandoning that term.

Minister for External Affairs · La Trobe · LP

– I know very well, and respect what I may call - I hope without offence - the nostalgic attitude of mind of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr.

Killen) on this question. I would venture to suggest, however, that this is not a matter in which sentiment need become involved. The fact is that the old British Empire, as we know, evolved into what became the British Commonwealth of Nations and that, in turn, has evolved into the Commonwealth of Nations.

The reason for that evolution or, at any rate, for the last stage of it, is that the word “ British “ - at least, in my interpretation of it - has racial significance. The present Commonwealth of Nations is made up, apart from the countries that recognize the Queen as their sovereign, of two republics, India and Pakistan, and, now, a kingdom, Malaya. That introduces a new pattern of Commonwealth which it is not possible, technically, to connect with the word “ British “, by reason of the racial significance of the word “ British I do not think that any one with common sense will complain if any one of us makes use - as I do - of the word “ British “ in connexion with the word “ Commonwealth “. But, on formal occasions - and the wording of a bill is a formal occasion - I think we have to stick to the technical realities of the case. So the wording in clause 3 to which the honorable gentleman has drawn attention has had to be used.

I should like to assure him that I do not yield to any one in my regard for the achievements of the British race in the past, for the British Empire or for the British Commonwealth, but one has to face the realities of present day facts inside the Commonwealth which- embraces two republics and a kingdom. It may be said that that is an anomalous situation. Well, there it is. The Governments of India, Pakistan and Malaya recognize the Queen as the head of the Commonwealth but they do not recognize her as Queen of India or Pakistan or Malaya. These are hard facts. There may be those amongst us who have some regrets and some nostalgic yearning for the things of the past. The honorable member for Moreton is clearly one of those. But there it is.


.- I join with the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) in protesting against the practice of dropping the word “ British “ from the term “ British Commonwealth of Nations “. lt is the British way of life of which we are all very proud. In all our naturalization ceremonies, when we admit new citizens as citizens of Australia, we also admit them as British subjects. Why is it that certain people seem to be ashamed of something of which we have been proud for so many years - the British way of life? I cannot see why the omission of the word “ British “ is necessary simply because certain parts of the Commonwealth, such as India and Ceylon, desire to be independent while, at the same time, gaining all the great advantages given as a result of British history and British tradition.

Just recently, when Her Majesty the Queen Mother returned to Great Britain, she made a very memorable address - a superb address - in which she laid emphasis on the tremendous advantages that we gained from the British way of life, arid she chose to refer to the “ British Commonwealth “. I feel that there is a tendency to compromise too much with people who want all the advantages of British freedom and the British way of life but who want none of the responsibilities. Australia and New Zealand are noted for their pride in the British way of life and their loyalty to the British Empire or, as people choose to call it, the British Commonwealth of Nations. Why, now, go one step further, and call ourselves simply the

Commonwealth “? What does that mean to anybody? The “ British Commonwealth “ means something; but the “ Commonwealth “ means nothing. Therefore, I think it is not simply something that can be brushed aside. If .we lose our sentiment, our love for the British way of life, we lose the very thing that has made the British Commonwealth great.


– I congratulate the Minister foi External Affairs (Mr. Casey) upon the very lucid explanation that he gave for dropping the term “ British “. The right honorable gentleman is to be commended, I think, not only for that lucid explanation but also for the courage that he has shown in being willing to grasp the nettle, face up to realities and, as he very aptly put it. remember that we cannot live on this “ nostalgic yearning “ for something that no longer has the same meaning or force that it had many years ago.

The fact that the Minister may stop using the word “ British “ in this context does not mean, as has been suggested, that he no longer loves the British way of life. No suggestion could be more absurd. The Minister is just as good a Briton, in the sense that he believes in the British way of life, as anybody in this House. It is utterly absurd for the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) to rise in his place and make the silly suggestion that the Minister, with his background, would gain any pleasure at all out of doing anything that was likely, deliberately, to hurt the British Empire or to discredit the term “ British “.

There is nobody more British in looks, in appearance, and in behaviour, than the Minister himself. I know of no one who, judging from appearance and behaviour and general standing, has demonstrated a greater love for the British way of life than has the right honorable gentleman himself. I disagree with him on many things but he, to my idea, is the perfect personification of “ British “ and of the British way of life. For the honorable member for Moreton to suggest that this gentleman, of all people in this Parliament, would get any pleasure out of doing anything to destroy the conception of the British way of life is too silly to be considered. 1 think the Minister, probably with a great deal of pain, has accepted this changed designation because he realizes that there has been a vast change inside the British Empire, as it was at one time known, and that we now have, as he correctly stated, a “ Commonwealth of Nations “ and not a “ British Empire “. I should hope that nobody in this chamber would want to see a return to the old conception of the British Empire under which great peoples such as the Indians, the Pakistanis, the Burmese and the Ceylonese were told that they had npt the right to govern themselves. One of the great things about the British Empire, as it was once called, was that it was ultimately prepared to hand over control of the internal affairs of those one-time subject countries to the people themselves to exercise for their own good. How absurd it would be, then, to continue to use the old hackneyed terms, “ British Empire “ and “ British Commonwealth “. It is not a “ British Commonwealth “, as the Minister rightly pointed out. If honorable members were to call an Indian, a Burmese, or a

Ceylonese a Britisher he would laugh. He would have a right to laugh because he would properly regard himself as an Indian, a Pakistani, or a Burmese, as the case might be.

I believe the Minister has shown great courage in coming into this place, knowing the kind of criticism that he would have to face, and which has already been levelled at him this afternoon. Let me remind the House that the Minister is not a fool. He has not been in this business for only five minutes. He knows more about politics than most of the honorable members who have been offering criticism are ever likely to know, even if they live for another 25 years. Knowing the kind of criticism that would be forthcoming from ill-informed persons like some of those who have already spoken in this debate, he nevertheless had the courage to come here and explain lucidly just how silly and stupid it is to retain this nostalgic old idea of a British Empire and a British Commonwealth, when in fact the Commonwealth is not British at all. It is a Commonwealth of Nations, made up of people who are not British but who like to feel that they are bound together by a common bond, or a common wealth - call it what you like.

I believe that if we are to prevent the Commonwealth of Nations from breaking up - and it is terribly important that we succeed in preventing that - we must at least respect the feelings and views of other peoples on such an important matter as the description of the Commonwealth. We must be realistic enough to drop, once and for all, the word “ British “ when describing a Commonwealth that is not British, but is predominantly un-British.

Let us consider the position in Australia. Of course, we here are all proud to believe tHat we come from British stock, but let us never forget that, leaving aside the broader field of the Commonwealth with which I have just dealt, we have brought into this country during the last eight years 1,000.000 persons who are not British, and who resent being called British.

Mr Joske:

– A big proportion of them are British.


– I am asserting” that we have brought into this country some hundreds of thousands of persons who are not British.

Mr Hulme:

– The honorable member said 1,000,000.


– I said approximately 1,000,000, and that is near enough to being the correct figure.

Mr Hulme:

– It is not.


– Very well, perhaps it is not quite 1,000,000. Let us agree, putting the figure conservatively for the sake of my argument, that it is at least half a million. I put it to the Parliament that these 500,000 persons who have been brought into Australia under the immigration scheme are not British, that they do not regard themselves as British, and that they never will regard themselves as British.

Mr Haworth:

– The honorable member is wrong. He has only to go to a naturalization ceremony and see how pleased they are.


– How unreal can some people get! Does the honorable member suggest that an Italian, or a Greek, or a Pole, or a person of any other nationality can go to a naturalization ceremony and walk out of the room a proud British citizen?

Mr Wilson:

– Of course he can! He takes an oath to that effect.


– Of course he takes an oath to that effect. If he did not take the oath he could not be naturalized. But it is utterly impossible for a person really to change his nationality and to feel he is British when in fact he is not. If I ever went to a foreign country and found that it was necessary for me to become naturalized, and I was compelled to take the kind of oath that immigrants in this country are compelled to take, nothing would stop me from continuing to be proud of the fact that I was an Australian. No one would ever take from me the great pride that I have in the country of my birth. And let me say that I do not regard myself primarily as a Britisher; I regard myself as an Australian, and T am proud of the fact that I am an Australian. I get far greater pleasure watching the Australian flag flying over a building than in watching the Union Jack.

Mr Hulme:

– You should be ashamed of yourself.


– I should be ashamed of the Australian flag?

Mr Killen:

– That was a dreadful thing to say.


– Is it suggested that any member of this Parliament should be ashamed of the Australian flag?

Mr Killen:

– That is not the argument you used.


– I said that I am more proud of the Australian flag than of any other flag in the world, and I repeat it. I am more proud of the Australian flag than any other flag, including the Union Jack. The Australian flag is, to me, the greatest flag in the world, and nothing that honorable members opposite can do will ever change my views in that regard.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Adermann:

Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- I join with honorable members on this side of the House who have expressed regret at the cessation of the use of the name “ British Commonwealth of Nations “, but I do think that the explanation given by the Minister shows that the change is completely justifiable. It was foreshadowed many years ago by one of the greatest Britishers of all time, Sir Winston Churchill, who, in 1940, suggested a union of the United Kingdom and France. It would have been ridiculous to suggest that if that plan - which was put forward in all seriousness - had been proceeded with, the term “ British “ would have been used from that time forward when describing the French nation. No one could accuse Sir Winston Churchill of being un-British, or of being disloyal in any way, because he was prepared to forgo the use of the term “ British “ in the interests of a greater common good. I believe that that is what is happening now.

The nations that at present make up the Commonwealth of Nations - the only commonwealth of nations in the world to-day - have achieved self-determination, but there is no point in trying to hide the fact that they still feel, in many cases, very great resentment. After all, I suppose one cannot blame the Indians for feeling resentful - whether the feeling is justifiable or not - when for so many years a Western nation,. Ireland, bore considerably greater resentment, which manifested itself most illogically at times.


– Only a part of Ireland; befair about it.


– Very well, let me say Eire instead of Ireland. The important point is that these feelings do exist, and if we can give something to these nations that are fellow members of the Commonwealth of Nations, does it matter that they are getting something without giving anything in return? It is important that we continue to give them the good things that they undoubtedly got when they were part and parcel of the British Empire. There is no doubt that many resentmentswere caused by some things that were done in the name of the British Empire, but there can also be no doubt that much good resulted from the work of the people who were responsible for administering the affairs of the Empire. Generations of those people lived and died to serve countries which, in many cases, were the countries of their adoption, and I believe that India and Pakistan can be proud of the long periods of loyal service given to them by the people who served in that way. Many intelligent thinking persons in these countries to-day realize the good that resulted from an imperial system which was. certainly, in many respects, open to criticism, and which, let me remind honorable members, was very roundly criticized by Winston Churchill at the time of the Boer War.

What the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) has said about being proud to be an Australian is something with which nobody can disagree. But I believe he was wrong when he implied that no new Australian comes away from the naturalization ceremony proud of being Australian or of being British. Many of them are proud of their country of adoption, although they will never, in their hearts, lose their love of the country in which they were born, and from which, in many cases, they were forced to flee. But the important point for Australia is that the children of those people will be very proud of being Australians. Sir, I commend the Minister’s explanation, and I support it.

Bill agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.

Bill - by leave - read a third time.

page 685


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 25th March (vide page 616), on motion by Mr. Townley -

That the bill be now read a second time.


.- The Opposition does not oppose the bill, which provides for a re-organization of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, and an increase from three to five in the number of the members of the commission. In his second-reading speech, the Minister for Supply (Mr. Townley) said -

Australia has . . . emerged as an important producer of uranium, and, at present, has four production plants in operation or under construction, representing a capital outlay of some £26,000,000.

I propose to address my remarks to the production of uranium. It is true that this Government, in the Atomic Energy Act of 1953, offered to the finder of a uranium field a reward of £25,000 if certain conditions were complied with. I see, from the fifth report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, that Walton, McConachy and partners, the finders of the Mary Kathleen field, in Queensland, have received only £24,500. Why £500 has been taken out -of the maximum reward in that instance, I do not know. The report indicates, also, that Sheil, Robinson and Robinson, of the Milo lease, from which a parcel of ore has already been sent 1,000 miles to Rum Jungle for treatment, have received only £400. There is no explanation in the report why Walton, McConachy. and the others who found the Mary Kathleen field have not received the full award provided for in the act. After the field had been found by them, there was a rush to the Cloncurry-Mount Isa area to take up uranium leases, and the country was pegged right through to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Leases were taken up everywhere. The Government says that it is anxious to develop uranium fields, and the Minister repeated that claim in his second-reading speech. It is true that much has been done to develop uranium production in the Northern Territory, but this Government has not done much to develop and exploit the uranium fields in Queensland.

The Minister said that four production plants are in operation or under construction. The private company that has taken up the lease of the Mary Kathleen field is constructing a treatment plant there. If the Government is anxious to promote the production of uranium - and, apparently, it is, if it has decided to increase the size of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission from three to five members, one of whom is now to be a full-time member - it should encourage leaseholders in the CloncurryMount Isa area, apart from the holders of the Mary Kathleen lease, to begin working their leases. At present, it holds out no incentive to them to work their leases, for the simple reason that they cannot sell any ore that they may produce. I have mentioned the fact that a parcel of ore was sent 1,000 miles from the Milo lease by motor transport for treatment at Rum Jungle . That is a long distance to send uranium ore, from which uranium oxide is produced, and the cost of transport is tremendous. If the Government had done what the people on the field urged in 1954 and in 1955, it would have established an orebuying centre there. If this had been done, Australia, instead of being fourth in the list of uranium producers, would have been higher in the list. But all that we can get from this Government is, “ Let private enterprise do it”.

On behalf of many of the leaseholders and prospectors on the Mount Isa-Cloncurry field, I suggested that an ore-buying centre should be established at Cloncurry, and that the ore should be stockpiled, just as the Mary Kathleen company is stockpiling its ore while its treatment plant is under construction. I suggested, also, that the ore be purchased on assay, as other ores are purchased, and that a stockpile be built up, in order that continuity of treatment would be assured when the treatment plant was built, whether it was built by the Government or by private enterprise. But the Government was not interested.

We have heard much in this House from Government supporters about what we ought to do. They say that we ought to “ tune in “ to Great Britain and that we ought to do as has been done in other parts of the world. In the United States of America, immediately a uranium field shows promise of being a worth-while producer of uranium ore, the United States Government establishes an ore-buying centre on the field to encourage production of the kind about which the Minister talks. In addition, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, the United States Government pays to the producer on the field a subsidy on transport. I have not seen the latest figure, but, about three years ago, it was 6 cents a ton-mile. That subsidy contributes to a levelling up in the net price received by the producer on the field. These are important factors in the production of uranium, on which we depend for this new power that will usher in the atomic era on the threshold of which we now stand. Yet the Minister and the Government only talk about the £26,000,000 that is being invested in four treatment plants for the production of uranium oxide. If the Government were really interested in increasing the production of uranium, it should tune in to the United States and take action similar to that taken there. It is, of course, always ready to tune in to other countries when it comes to increasing interest rates and imposing embargoes on imports.

Under the Queensland mining laws, a man who takes up a mining lease must comply with certain conditions governing employment and the working of the lease. For reasons beyond his control, he may not be able to comply with those conditions. If this Government refuses to establish an ore-buying centre - never mind about a treatment plant, for the moment - the leaseholder has to apply to the Queensland Mines Department, which, under the previous government there, was very sympathetic, for exemption from the labour and working conditions of the lease. However, the new anti-Labour Government in Queensland may not be so sympathetically disposed towards the leaseholders in the future. If an unsympathetic government refuses to grant exemptions from the conditions of the lease, a prospector hampered by lack of capital will be forced to give up his lease. When this sort of thing happens, the large companies come in and obtain for nothing leases for which they would have had to pay thousands of pounds had the original producer been able to retain the lease. In addition, if an ore buying centre were established on the fields, the large com panies which desire to enter into the uranium production field would have some indication of the worth of the lease, thepercentage of uranium in the ore and so on. This is all bound up with the fact that this Government should have established ore buying centres on the uranium fields, as the United States Government did. The Australian Atomic Energy Commission, in its fifth report, said -

The number of reported discoveries of uraniumore was less than in previous years because of the decline in interest in the search by companies and prospectors.

What inducement is given to companies or prospectors to search for uranium? Walton, McConachy and other members of that party were prospectors. Walton was a taxi driver, but the others were wage-earners. In the main, the companies do not find the fields; it is the prospectors who find them. Is it any wonder that the commission in its report, complained about the decline in production? It said -

Australia’s immediate requirements are adequately provided for, but with an increasing domestic power programme, and over the long term an increasing world demand, a steady flow of new discoveries is desirable. Too slow a rate of exploration at this stage could prove a serious handicap to development later.

If the Government is satisfied with the efforts of the commission, then it should heed the commission’s warning and do something to increase the production of uranium oxide. The immediate requirement is to establish ore buying centres on the uranium fields. Such a centre at Cloncurry or Mount Isa would create a tremendous revival of interest by leaseholders in those areas. The Mary Kathleen and Milo leases - they are some distance apart - give some indication of the prospects of, perhaps, another Mary Kathleen being found. By the end of this year, the company operating the Mary Kathleen lease w,ill have spent about £10,000,000. Its treatment plant is expected to be operating before the end of this year. All this time stockpiling has been carried out by the company. From time to time, we see photographs in the press which show the progress that is being made. Stockpiling was necessary so that continuity of production would be obtained when the treatment plant was finished.

We hear the Government talk about the need to maintain overseas balances and to increase exports because of the fall in the price of primary products. There is a world demand for uranium. Uranium costs between £10,000 and £12,000 a ton in Canada, but, when we try to find out what price is being paid for uranium oxide exported from Australia, we are told that this matter is “ hush hush “. Talk about an iron curtain! This Government certainly has a uranium curtain! When we read in the report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission the prices that are received by producers in other parts of the world, we wonder why it is necessary to be so quiet about the price paid in Australia. Mr. Beale, who was formerly Minister for Supply, said to me on one occasion, “ We do not want to let anybody outside Australia know the uranium content of the ore “. Have you ever heard anything so silly! There is no rhyme or reason in withholding the information, because the commission’s report reveals that in Canada production was at the rate of 7,000 short tons of uranium oxide a year and that by the end of 1957 production should reach a rate of 12,000 tons. The estimated cost of production in Canada was 1A dollars to 5 dollars per lb. Production of uranium oxide in South Africa in 1956 was 4,400 tons, which realized £40,000.000 sterling. That is equivalent to £5 Australian per lb. The report said -

Little information is available on Russian production, but what information is available, suggests that annual production of oxide is 6,000 tons, and that it may rise to 10,000 tons in a few years.

The report also reveals that world production of uranium oxide is about 30,000 tons, ft is estimated that by 1975 world requirements will be 75,000 tons, of which the United States of America will require 30,000 tons. The United States of America produced 8,000 tons of uranium oxide from 4,000,000 tons of ore. In other words, 1 ton of uranium oxide was produced from 500 tons of ore.

When Mary Kathleen comes into production, we will be the fourth largest producer of uranium oxide. We will then be producing 1,000 tons a year. This Government talks about building up overseas balances and about developing the country. In the days when mining was booming in north Queensland, Charters Towers was known to the world, when it had a population of about 35,000. Mining has meant a revival for some areas in the Northern

Territory. The Government says it is concerned about increasing overseas balances, developing the country and bringing immigrants here. Of course, under its present policy, the immigrants are placed in hostels and put on the dole. If the Government is interested in furthering its policy, it should encourage those who own uranium leases to develop them. Mining played a tremendous part in developing north Australia early this century. I was born on a mining field in the north, and I know something of what mining development means in the settlement and development of northern Australia. So, if the Government is really concerned about assisting development and increasing our overseas trade balances, why does it not take some positive action? But instead of doing something, the Government claims that nothing can be done.

When the Mary Kathleen mine is in production by the end of this year we shall have four units producing uranium. Has the Government gone cold on the expansion of uranium production because it fears that uranium will cease to be the power source of the future? Is the Government afraid that heavy hydrogen will supersede uranium as a source of power? Experiments have been going on in the production of power from heavy hydrogen but, so far, they are only experiments which still have to meet with success. Power from uranium is an actual fact, and we have the uranium to produce that power. Not long ago, we had an exhibition in King’s Hall, in this building, of the work of the British Atomic Energy Commission, in which we saw models and pictures of Calder Hall, where electricity is produced from an atomic pile. Such production is an accomplished fact, but it seems that the Government is afraid of the possible production of power from heavy hydrogen. I shall quote from the Australian Atomic Energy Commission’s fifth annual report in regard to the production of electric power from nuclear sources. The report reads -

Estimates of probable future costs of nuclear power have been made by Sir Christopher Hinton, managing director of the Authority’s Industrial Group, and are as follows: -

The cost of power from conventional stations is expected to rise from 0.60d. in 1960, to 0.67d. in 1970 and 0.84d. in 1990.

It is true that, in the not very distant future, if these forecasts are correct, uranium plants will be able to produce electric power at a cost below that of the production of electric power by a conventional unit. Then why all this hesitancy and holding back on the part of the Government? Here we have a world demand for 75,000 tons of uranium annually, and an opportunity for the Government to develop Australia and at the same time increase our overseas balances, the rapid decline of which the Government frequently deplores.

Recently, the Mount Isa mining interests investigated the possibility of the installation of an atomic plant. As early as 1956, an officer of the company was sent overseas for that purpose. The company has kept itself well-informed on the latest developments, because it has to bring coal a distance of 800 miles by rail for its furnaces. The establishment of a uranium power plant would enable the company to produce electric power at below the cost of power produced by a conventional coalburning plant, and as soon as such a plant can be purchased it will be installed.

One of the largest bauxite deposits in the world has been found at Weipa River. Great quantities of water and a tremendous volume of electric power are required in the production of aluminium, and it is quite feasible that an atomic plant will be installed in the Weipa River area because of the distance between Weipa River and the nearest coal deposits.

The Government must realize how bound up with development is the production of uranium oxide, but it sits pat and says, “ Let private enterprise do it “. Does the Government mean to suggest that when the Mary Kathleen mine starts production it will treat customs ore? Certainly it will have an acid treatment plant, but that will be treating its own ore. There will be no possibility of the Mary Kathleen’s treating customs ore unless the treatment plant outruns the production of ore, which I do not think is possible. Honorable members can discount all talk about private enterprise building a treatment plant. The Mount Isa interests did offer at one stage to put in a treatment plant, but so far as I know the company did not receive much encouragement from the Government. If it did, not much has been said about the fact. What the men on that field want to know is: When is the Government going to play its part in the production of uranium oxide and the development of uranium fields?

My final remark is: Let us always remember that it is the prospectors who find the fields and the companies that find the money.


Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, to some extent I find myself in agreement with the remarks of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) on this matter. [Quorum formed.] 1 want to indicate the extent of that agreement. In my view, we would have had greater uranium production in Australia now had the Government earlier set up buying stations particularly in the Mount Isa-Cloncurry area and perhaps in the Alligator Creek area, which are the most promising in Australia for uranium production. I also believe that a more sympathetic handling of the ore received at Rum Jungle and elsewhere would have given encouragement particularly to the important Adelaide River mine, which is a mine worth keeping open to provide ore for the treatment worksat Rum Jungle, but which is now closed.

I am, of course, well aware of the particular circumstances to which the honorable member for Kennedy has directed attention. I recall visiting, in company with other members of the Government members’ mining committee, the Milo field two or three years ago, and I also recall visiting it by myself about eighteen months ago. It is not certain whether that mine is or is not a valuable mine but, by reason of the fact that the ore it produces is amenable to concentration by water wash, the mine may be more important than it looks at first sight. That depends on the amount of ore available. It may be trivial, or it may be worth while - I simply do not know which. But I am in agreement with the honorable member for Kennedy that more might have been done in the past to encourage uranium production. I can remember bringing these matters up myself in the House four or five years ago, and I see no reason to believe that the views I expressed then were not correct.

I do feel - and not for the reasons that the honorable member has given - that the immediate future of uranium might not be exceedingly bright. The reason for that lies, not in the possible supercession of uranium by hydrogen power which, I agree with the honorable member, may well be a good way ahead, but lies rather in the fact that the present supplies of uranium look more than sufficient to cover the world’s demands for power in the next decade or two and that thorium may well, to some extent, get into the province now occupied by uranium. So I believe that these matters are things of the past. They are things that should be regretted but, the bus having been missed, there is not much advantage in chasing it. Let us rather think of what is the proper future development in this important - indeed, I would say this vital - field. 1 think it is obvious that nuclear power in one form or another is going to be of extreme economic importance before very long. I have in my hand details of the estimates made by Sir Christopher Hinton, to which the honorable member has referred, as quoted in the report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. I have also, of course, the commission’s own statement on power costs in its issue dated December. They have calculated them at 93d. Australian currency in round figures. I think that is the cost for a kilowatt hour. That, perhaps, could be an over-statement or an under-statement. There are still a certain number of unknowns in this question, but it would be safe to say that under present conditions with, shall we say, an 80 per cent, load factor, it should be possible to produce nuclear power in Australia at something to the order of one penny Australian a kilowatt hour. That is a figure which I think is conservative, and which I confidently expect would be bettered in practice in two or three years’ time.

If we look at the cost of conventional power as compared with that, we have the figures in the last available report of the Electricity Commission of New South Wales at page 16. We find that, without capital charges, the cost of electric power is round about .8d. or .9d. a kilowatt hour. If one adds in capital charges, the current figure is probably of the order of 1.2d. a kilowatt hour; that is if one compares the two on the same basis, because let me emphasize to honorable members that the figure that has been given for the cost of nuclear power includes interest on capital, and full depreciation. In fact, it includes, all relevant charges. It is a comprehensive figure.


– What is the difference in the original capital cost?


– I will go intothat question in a moment. Let me mention to the honorable member, however, that the whole of the difference in the original capital cost is absorbed in the interest: and depreciation figures which I have just given; these cost figures take into account all capital charges including capital cost. The comparison might not be entirely fair because, let it be said at the outset, theload factor over New South Wales might, not be as high as 80 per cent. In fact, I am positive it is not. Let me say further that this is the cost of electricity production from existing plant and not necessarily the cost of electricity production from newplant which may now be installed and which may be of higher efficiency. But the cost of nuclear power will fall while the cost of conventional power, according to the estimates of Sir Christopher Hinton, with which I am myself in substantial agreement, is likely to rise with the increasing cost of coal and the higher standard of living throughout the community for which we all hope and work.

For those reasons I should think that any nation looking forward, as Australia, is looking, to a period of great growth, should be sensitive about the development of an integrated atomic industry. Let uslook at the kinds of things which are needed for this integrated atomic industry. First, there is research. In that connexion, I donot think anybody would cavil at what the Government has done. The reactor at Lucas Heights is well designed for its purpose. It is a valuable, well chosen, experimental unit. It will fit in with the research programmes conducted at Harwell in ‘ England, and elsewhere. It will giveAustralia standing in the international market of atomic ideas. To run that plant we require some scientists who are first class by any world standard. I would not like to criticize in any way the concept of the reactor at Lucas Heights. I believe it is a good concept, a well-chosen step and’ the proper first step. I would urge that not only it but also its ancillary engineering works and things of that character should be completed and brought into operation with the least possible delay.

Let us put aside, then, this question of atomic research and go to the other four points. For an integrated atomic industry, you need four legs at the present moment. First, you need a plant to produce uranium metal from uranium oxide which Australia already produces from its mines at Rum Jungle, the Alligator and Radium Hill and will shortly be producing at Mary Kathleen. First, then, we need a plant to produce metal from oxide. Secondly, we must have a plant to produce rods from metal, which is not so simple a matter as it may seem at first sight because the metal has not only to be machined to small tolerance but it has also to be clad in aluminium or berylium or some other material.


– The honorable member is referring to uranium rods?


– Yes. In the first place, one must have a reactor; not a reactor such as that at Lucas Heights. I am not going to criticize it as it is correct to put it in first; but it is an experimental reactor. I am referring to a producing reactor which works at power. That reactor would produce tv o things, both of great value. It would produce electric power, which is saleable as is ordinary electric power produced by conventional steam plant. Secondly, it would give us a source of fissile material, probably plutonium. That material is important as the basis of any further development in the industry.


– What does the honorable member mean by “ fissile “ material?


– I shall explain. Naturally, uranium, which is the kind of uranium we take out of the ground, has in it only one part in 140 of fissile isotope uranium 235. The remainder is mainly uranium 238, a different isotope. Those two substances cannot be separated by any chemical means. They can be separated by physical means but only at immense cost which I do not think lies within the compass of the Australian economy. But instead, if we put this natural uranium into a reactor of the type that is at present built at Calder Hall, in England; or which is being built for the electricity authorities at various places in England at present; or which has been sold by the British authorities to Japan and, I understand, will shortly be sold to Italy; or which is in operation in Sweden, we will get from these rods a new element, a man-made element called plutonium, which will be a substitute for uranium 235 and which, being different chemically from the matrix in which it is born, can be separated from it by cheap chemical means.

So this reactor will produce both power and plutonium as a by-product. The importance of this is that, looking to the future - not to the distant future which the honorable member for Kennedy was talking about, but to the future which is reasonably round the corner - the new, more efficient reactors in the next five or ten years will use an enriched fuel, that is, a fuel which, besides its normal quota of uranium 235, contains as a make-up either additional uranium 235 or plutonium.

It can be seen, therefore, that the provision of a reactor is important - vital, in point of fact - if we are to have an integrated atomic industry here at all, because it will make us independent of outside sources of the fuel which will definitely be needed for the more advanced type of atomic reactor in the very near future.


– What would :t cost?


– I shall come to that. I am sorry that the honorable member for Hindmarsh interrupts me, because I shall endeavour, if time permits, to treat all these details. Now we have four requirements: First, we need a plant to get metal from uranium oxide; secondly, a plant to fabricate that metal into rods for a reactor; thirdly, a reactor; and fourthly, a plant to process the spent fuel from the reactor to recover from it the plutonium and certain other values inherent in the uranium, as well as any other by-products.

Let us look at these four plants. First there is the plant for producing uranium from uranium oxide. Abroad I have seen such plants. The process is not a complicated one. I have seen the plants in operation and I know what the process is. There is nothing in any way secret about it. Th : plants are operating in a number of countries. The one that I saw was operating in Great Britain. Such a plant, to process 1,000 tons of uranium oxide a year, which will be the Australian production when the Mary Kathleen mine comes into operation very shortly, would cost about £3,000,000. It is not a big plant, lt consumes a certain number of chemicals, but I believe that nearly all, if not all, of those chemicals are freely available in Australia to-day and there is no reason why, given a firm order, they could not be economically produced from local sources.

Secondly, we require a plant to produce the uranium rods. A reactor of, shall we say, 100 megawatts, will need in its initial stock about 200 tons of natural uranium rods, and it will require 40 or 50 tons a year as a make-up. Se ;t can be seen that the metal plant I have described will produce sufficient metal. I feel that the plant to produce the rods might be of considerable magnitude, and perhaps even a little more expensive, but the point is that these two plants could be operated profitably to-day. The price for uranium oxide on the world market is about £10.000 a ton. The price for rods on the market is about £25,000 a ton. Those who are familiar with the processes of manufacture say that the difference between what we would pay for imports and what it would cost us to produce from our own material is sufficient to allow these plants to operate profitably, even making allowances for depreciation and other considerations.

These two plants together would require a capital investment of an amount certainly under £10,000,000 and probably considerably under that sum. That capital investment would give profitable operation, even allowing for interest and depreciation, so there would be no real burden on the Australian economy in constructing and putting into operation the plants to process the uranium oxide which we produce at present. I feel that this is one of the things to which this Government, looking at the matter constructively, might well put its hand.

Let me come to the next point, the reactor. I have a number of detailed figures in regard to this reactor with which I do not intend to weary the House, but I think it can be said that we could construct it at about £A.160 or £A.170 per kilowatt of capacity, which is just about twice the cost of the equivalent steam station. Nov although the cost is higher initially, the operating costs are lower. A moment ago I endeavoured to make a comparison - inadequately, perhaps, because in these comparisons we have to look at load factors and a number of other considerations. (Extension of time granted.)

I thank the House for the extension ot time. I shall not take long. As I have said, this reactor would cost £A.160 or £A.170 per kilowatt of capacity, which is about twice the cost of an equivalent steam plant. The cost then of a 100 megawatts plant would be about £16,000,000 or £17,000,000. That investment would be giving electricity at a cost not far removed from, and perhaps a little below, the average price of electricity generated from existing plants in New South Wales to-day. It is therefore a scheme which, just like the Snowy scheme, the Government might well take in hand because of the subsequent benefits from it.

Those benefits are of two kinds. First there is the training of Australians in this new art. While training can be helped by our research establishment at Lucas Heights, it cannot be complete unless we have our own power reactor. The sooner we get into the field the better. These reactors are available for purchase at present in Great Britain. As I have said, one has been bought recently by Japan from Great Britain. The time of delivery is about four years. It may be said, and said justly, that if we wait two or three years we shall get a better reactor. That is true. It is always true. If we buy a steam plant to-day, it will not be as good as the steam plant we will be able to buy in 1962. Technical advances are occurring all the time. Having regard to all the facts - and T have had the benefit of advice from the best-informed in Australia, and from some people abroad - I feel that we have now reached something like a little plateau on the course of nuclear efficiency. A reactor ordered two or three years from now will not be very much better than one ordered to-day. It will be better, but not very much better. If we are thinking of ten years ahead, when the present type of reactor will be superseded by a new type using enriched fuel, it is a different matter, because there will be big improvements in the meantime. But a delay of ten years is not justifiable. The time to act is now, and without delay.

The other advantage that I want to mention is that a reactor would give this country the capacity to produce fissile material, which will be essential in nine or ten years’ time for the fuelling of the new and advanced type of reactors that are now in prospect. If we are to have a vast neutron reactor using enriched fuel we must have a source of plutonium and fortified uranium 233 and 235. The provision of uranium 235 is at present too expensive for this country to contemplate. So if this country wants cheap and efficient power in the future, it must build its reactors now.

Lastly, we would require a plant to process the spent fuel. The spent rods are hard to transport overseas. They are expensive to carry because they are radioactive, and there are other disabilities associated with them. So if we are to process them economically, which is necessary in order to reduce the cost of power below the figure I have given, in regard to which no account was taken of any value inherent in the spent rods, we need a processing plant in this country. A plant to service four or five reactors of the type I have mentioned will cost about £6,000,000 or £7,000,000. But that plant will be a profitable plant, even writing off interest on capital and all depreciation. In these circumstances, I can see no justification whatever for further delay. The Government should have this matter fairly and squarely on its plate now, and it should do something about it without any further delay or without waiting for something else to happen. I am not saying for one moment that the facts I have put before the House are complete. If I had more time, perhaps I could go into the matter in more detail, but I do feel that there is a prima facie case for immediate action, and I suggest that the Government might well give this matter the most serious of consideration.


.- The analytical, studied, and comparatively progressive approach of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) is in sharp contrast to the despondent and lethargic attitude of the Government towards atomic energy. The honorable member mentioned the Lucas Heights reactor. I understand that that project will be opened in the not far distant future, but I hope that when it is opened the occasion will not be marred by some irresponsible member of the community rushing forward and depriving the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) of the opportunity to cut the opening ribbon. Honorable members will recall that an attempt of that kind almost succeeded a day or two ago in Sydney.

The purpose of the legislation is neither sensational nor controversial. The legislation is designed to increase the membership of the Atomic Energy Commission from three to five, one of whom will be the fulltime executive head of the commission. Honorable members will recall that Sir Jack Stevens was previously a full-time executive head of the commission. Whilst I do not intend to canvass the reasons for his sudden dismissal, or whatever caused him to leave the commission, honorable members will recall that he left it at a time when the reactor suddenly ground to a standstill, and men were thrown out of work, and nothing was done for a considerable period of time. There is everything to indicate that Sir Jack Stevens was made a scapegoat on that occasion to cover up for ministerial bungling.

The other issues involved in the legislation are mainly consequential on the increase in the personnel of the commission. They involve a change in the quorum; and a trust account, which was previously considered necessary to cater for the peculiarities of the Rum Jungle project, is now in the process of being eliminated.

The Opposition welcomes the opportunity to discuss this subject which is of great importance not only to this country, but to all countries. The legislation is not opposed. The Opposition holds high hopes that the observations and constructive criticism of honorable members on this side of the House will inspire the Government to stimulate the effort at present directed to this field. We stand with profound interest and speculation on the threshold of a great atomic age. As the scientific entanglements are unravelled, and as the great secrets of the universe are prized open by the constant probing of inquisitive minds and the application of rapidly accumulating knowledge, living standards can rise to a new level. It should be the clear aim of governments to stimulate and maintain high levels of experimentation and research in this field.

The Opposition recalls with pride that it was under a Labour government, in 1946-47, when Senator Ashley was Minister for Supply, that the basis was laid of incentives for the discovery of uranium. That was probably the first time that atomic energy was lifted from the atom bomb level, and high hopes were held out to the people that atomic energy would be used for peaceful purposes rather than for the destruction of mankind. All credit is due to the Labour government of 1946-47 for first starting Australia on the way to the peaceful use of atomic energy. It should be the determination of the Government to see that the people emerge as the principal beneficiaries of the wonders of this great scientific era. Sectional exploitation and commercial domination of any phase of the development of atomic energy should be avoided like the plague. Legislation should be enacted to discourage this tendency wherever it emerges. The Atomic Energy Commission has an enormous responsibility. Except for the statutory administrative superiority of the Minister, the commission is completely responsible for the great variety of considerations associated with its sphere of activity. They are too numerous to mention, but it is apparent that a managerial board of three is insufficient, and that there is some need to increase the membership of the commission.

The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) recently referred to the control of radio active substances and X-ray apparatus. The information which he was able to extract from the Minister concerned was very revealing and very disturbing to many honorable members. What has the Government done about the obvious need to control radio-active substances? No system of control is yet in operation in Australia. In the United States of America a different system prevails. It is in operation throughout the Union, and effective control has resulted. Indeed, the Australian Constitution causes great difficulty so far as this matter is concerned, but the problem has to be faced; and if the Government considers it needs additional powers of control it should say so and be entirely frank about it.

In March 1953, the National Health and Medical Research Council, through its Industrial Hygiene Committee, prepared a model radio-active substances bill and presented it to the various State governments, asking them to pass it into legislation in order to safeguard the health of the Australian community. Tasmania and Western Australia went ahead and passed the legislation in 1954, South Australia in 1956 and New South Wales last year. But none of these acts has been put into operation. In Victoria and Queensland, where Liberal governments are in office at the present time, nothing has been done about this matter. The federal system in this respect is showing some appalling limitations. I hope that the Constitution Review Committee will deal with this matter; and I consider that the Australian Atomic Energy Commission also has a great responsibility to deal with it. It should be constantly probing federal parliamentarians on one hand and State governments on the other to ensure that, in the long run, adequate powers shall be available to provide for proper control of atomic energy in Australia.

I was very pleased to note that there is to be a full-time executive member, once again, on the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. No doubt, there is sufficient work to be done to justify the full-time attention of the commission rather than just that of one member. To be effective in this highly specialized field, a great deal of research work and wide experience are absolutely essential. Each member of the commission should have the opportunity to see what is being accomplished in other parts of the world. Accordingly, they should be encouraged by the Government to travel as much as possible. They should most certainly go to Calder Hall, to the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and wherever a great deal of work has been done in this field. The question arises, who should be appointed? This work is far too important to be relegated to political appointees, who are usually stooges of the government which appoints them, or to persons such as retired business men who are looking for a casual interest with an accompanying retainer, or to people who want something to tide them over until they can find something better around the corner. The work is so important that it demands the best technical and administrative ability available in the country. The question of salary is tied up with this matter. Remuneration should be commensurate with the qualifications of the persons appointed. I was disturbed to notice that section 11 of the principal act provides that -

Members of the Commission and deputies shall be paid remuneration and allowances as the Governor-General determines.

That is not good enough. I look forward to receiving a reply to my question on this subject, now on the notice-paper. It will be interesting to know whether the salary to be paid is to be a sort of hand-out or allowance to keep somebody in a part-time job. The salary issue will have a great deal to do with the calibre of the administration.

The bill deals with the question ot a quorum at the meetings of the commission. It provides for an increase in the number. Section 15 of the principal act provides -

At a meeting of the Commission, two members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum.

There could be no controversy in those circumstances, because the two members would have to be in agreement if the ordinary rules of debate were followed; that is to say, a mover and seconder must agree on a motion before it can be listed for consideration. The provision in the principal act is absolutely futile, and it is high time that it was corrected. The fact that the chairman has a casting vote makes the whole situation ridiculous, as the chairman could also exercise a deliberative vote. If only two members of the commission were present at a meeting, or even three, the power vested in the chairman would place him in a dominating position to the point of being completely unreasonable.

In regard to meetings of the commission, section 15 of the principal act provides -

The Commission shall hold meetings at such times and places as the Commission determines.

This arrangement may or may not be satisfactory. I do not know how often the commission meets, and I do not know whether any other honorable member knows; but I put to the Minister that the bill should provide that the commission shall meet at certain statutory times. That may be twelve times a year. The Minister might consider that that is not often enough, and that it should meet once a week. But at any rate the i Parliament should ensure that the commission meets frequently enough to do justice to the great issues involved. It is not good enough to surmise that the commission will meet or that it does meet. We should know that it meets at definite intervals and sufficiently often to enable its members to have adequate time to deal with the problems that arise. They need to have enterprise and be able to conduct research into problems that arise not only in Australia but also in other parts of the world.

Preceding speakers have referred to the report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. I think that most honorable members are happy to obtain a copy of its annual report, which is very well produced. At one time it was felt that the report of the commission was deficient in subject-matter, but the report for the year 1956-57 is a 68-page document, well produced and containing numerous pictorial illustrations, graphs and illustrations. However, there does not seem to be enough for the commission to write about in Australia. Some effort should be made to prepare a report similar to that produced by the United States of America Atomic Energy Commission. I have a copy of that report in my hand. It is entitled “ Major Activities in the Atomic Energy Programs, JanuaryJune 1957 “. It is a 257-page document containing concise, comprehensive and statistical information. It surveys the United States atomic energy programme for a six months’ reporting period rather than a twelve months’ reporting period. It is important that this Parliament should know what the Australian Atomic Energy Commission will be doing in the following six months. The next year will be a very critical period. The sheer fact of the matter is that in Australia very little is being done in this regard.

To contrast the activities of Australia with those in the United States of America I should like to refer to several matters. The first relates to radio isotopes, to which several speakers have already referred. I think it is known that Australia is not producing radio isotopes at present. I have obtained some information to the effect that we have imported a few isotopes; but that is not a satisfactory arrangement. It would be far better to have a factory of our own to produce them. The United States of America Atomic Energy Commission’s report to which I have referred has this to say -

Radio isotopes continued to maintain their role as one of the most important civilian applications of atomic energy. The number of organizations, public and private, using radio isotopes, increased by 12 per cent, during the last six months and totalled 4,109 at June 30th. New uses of radio isotopes in industry, medicine, and agriculture were constantly being reported.

To what use are they being put? I want to survey that position briefly. Let us first remember that the record of the United States of America is that 4,109 licences were in existence at the end of last June. On the other hand, isotopes are not being produced in Australia at all. In the modern world the use of radio isotopes is of tremendous value. The saving to industry is enormous. They contribute to the ability of a nation’s industry to compete with overseas countries. Surely, that is an important consideration for Australia, especially when our overseas markets are contracting. This is what the United States report says -

The contribution of radio isotopes to the national economy, as evidenced by cost savings benefits reported in a recent canvass of industry, indicated a total yearly savings of the order of 400 million dollars. Atomic energy by-products are one of the most important peaceful applications of atomic energy.

I believe that this position casts a great reflection on the situation in Australia. Similar figures are available in respect of the United Kingdom and Russia and many smaller countries where there is participation in a spirited way in connexion with atomic energy. Isotopes are being used extensively in medicine. We are now using them to a limited extent, but we draw our supplies from overseas. They must be made available to the Australian people because they are part of a superior medical technique. Physicians are now using them in diagnosing and in treating a number of ailments. In the United States of America an estimated number of 1,000,000 patients a year are benefiting by the use of radio isotopes. Some of the medical uses - they are used, especially, for diagnostic purposes - are analysis of thyroid functions, blood volume control determination, tumor location and liver function. The use of isotopes is also important in connexion with thyroid cancer, certain rare blood diseases such as leukemia, certain heart disorders, prostate cancer, certain eye lesions, and many other critical disorders. A human consideration is involved in this issue. The people of this country are entitled to the great benefits to be gained by the application of atomic energy to the fields of medicine and surgery.

In the industrial sphere, the issue is just as important. Radio-active gauges of various types are used extensively in industry in the United States of America and elsewhere. But what are we doing in Australia? Where are we using radio isotopes in this country since we have noi yet got to the stage of producing them and, in the main, they are produced as a by-product of the atomic reactor technique? The tobacco industry in the United States of America uses radio isotopes very extensively. They are used to determine the feed of tobacco, and the tobacco density is regulated by this effective and economic method. Great economy results in the tobacco industry. In the steel industry, radio isotope thickness gauges are used for the automatic control of mill rolls. The thickness of the steel is determined in this way and dimensions can be held to 1 per cent, of specifications. Production line rejects are now almost a thing of the past as a result of this new method. In Australia, our great steel industry could benefit by the use of isotopes, but it is being deprived of the opportunity.

The rubber industry is another good example of the use of isotopes to great advantage in the United States of America. In that industry, the isotope is pressed into service to regulate the application of rubber to the tyre cord. The over-use of rubber is prevented in this way. Production time is greatly reduced and man-power is used far more effectively as a result. There are many other industrial uses for isotopes. The plastics industry is using them. A great variety of engineering processes involve their use. Oil production, petroleum refining and machine tool wear studies are other examples. The paper industry can also benefit to a tremendous extent from the use of isotopes.

Can Australia suffer this disadvantage any longer? It is time that the Government got on with the job because the people are feeling the effects of the absence of these new techniques. The fact that we have not produced isotopes indicates that we have underestimated their importance to the fields of industry, medicine and, indeed, agriculture, an important beneficiary sphere of activity with which time will not permit me to deal this afternoon.

We have only one atomic reactor under construction in Australia. It has been grinding laboriously to completion over a long period. It was to have been completed last June. That cannot be denied. The completion date was referred to in the annual report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Why has the Government failed to achieve its target? Is the Government proud that this one and only Australian atomic reactor project is not yet completed and indeed is far behind schedule? The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) in another place, who is responsible for this project, has said that it was bad luck that I should have criticized the Lucas Heights establishment so stringently because a new venture like this one needed friends rather than enemies. Who are the enemies of such a project? Are they those who hamper and delay its early completion, by the failure to make adequate funds available? Or are they those who press for its early completion through the elimination of unnecessary delay? Surely they are the friends of the project!

The delay has been caused by the inadequacy of the budget allocations and by bad planning on the part of the Government. Our only reactor project languishes for want of funds, but other countries are surging ahead. In the first six months of last year, eleven nuclear reactors built in the United States of America achieved criticality for the first time. Eleven! We are still trying to get one completed, and it is miles behind. Can we be proud of our effort in the face of the record of other countries? In the same period, 22 additional atomic reactors were commenced in the United States of America. Simultaneously, great expansion took place in the category of new reactors planned. The intention to build 35 additional atomic reactors was announced in the same period, bringing the number of planned reactors, at 30th June, 1957, to a total of 93. The second-reading speech of the Minister for Supply (Mr. Townley) indicated to the House that he was proud of the efforts of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. But can we be proud of those efforts in view of the fact that the number of planned reactors in the United States has reached the astonishing figure of 93? Some are for power-producing purposes, and others are for research and experimentation.

This afternoon, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) referred to the great importance of research and experimentation. Surely we have to play our part in this field. We have not played it to a very large degree. No only have we failed to do the job for ourselves, but we have not participated in a spirited fashion, from the international point of view. The United States of America has* made agreements with a large number of countries, but we have completed miserable petty agreements with a mere handful of countries. We have not been prepared to give generous assistance, nor to enter into the spirit of beneficial reciprocal exchange of information with other countries. The Government has only made arrangements with a handful of countries. So, we can hold our heads up high to a limited extent only.

Let us compare the reactor position in the United States of America as at 30th June, 1957, with the position in Australia. In the United States of America, at that date, the number of reactors operated and later dismantled was 24. This reminds one of something that the honorable member for Mackellar stressed. If one buys a motor car to-day, it may be out of date next year, but one does not fail to buy it for that reason. At 30th June, 1957, there were 84 reactors operating or licensed to operate in the United States of America. Yet here in Australia we are trying to get one atomic reactor project completed. At the present time in the U.S.A. 66 such projects are under construction, while, in addition, another 93 are planned. Can we be proud of our efforts? I think the Government can well hang its head in shame when it considers the development that has taken place in the U.S.A. and other countries, even in some of the smaller countries. Some of the countries that have been beneficiaries under the Colombo Plan have atomic reactors operating and, indeed, are carrying out much more extensive experimentation than we in Australia are doing.

It is true that the principal contractor, Hutcherson Brothers Proprietary Limited, an Australian firm, has. completed its contract at Lucas Heights. Indeed, it has done so each year for the last three years. Let the Government remember that an Australian firm can fulfil its contract on time, and let us hope that the Government will give Australian firms an opportunity to display their ability in the future. The firm of Hutcherson- Brothers Proprietary Limited has done a remarkable job, but the fact is that when it has completed its contract within- the specified period the work has ceased. The result has been that for three or four months in each of the last three years the project has been at a complete and utter standstill, and 300; 400 or 500 men have been retrenched-. The Prime Minister cannot justify the position by saying that the contracts were completed. The Prime Minister said that I had made the novel suggestion that when a contract is completed the labour force should not be reduced. That is not the point. Adequate funds should be made available to ensure that- this job is carried forward with the greatest possible speed, because the production of atomic power is a vital new undertaking of vast importance to Australia. It is inexcusable that work has ceased on the project for three or four months in each of the last three years. Hutcherson Brothers Proprietary Limited, of course, has had no alternative but to retrench, but it is regrettable that the job has not been proceeded with when it could have been finished last June, as was required by the schedule, if the Government had been realistic.

I have led deputations to the previous Minister for Supply, who is now languishing in Washington. I have endeavoured to arrange for a deputation to the present Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), composed of employees and citizens of the district, but the Minister will not receive it. I believe that if he talked to the workmen on the job they would impress him’ with the importance of the project, but he is apparently not impressed with it at the moment. It is a strong reflection on the Government that this project has been so neglected.

I was extremely disappointed to hear the Minister for National Development dealing with- certain contentions that I put forward- during the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I made the allegation that the emergency control centre at Lucas Heights would not be completed when the- atomic reactor was put into operation. The Minister said’ -

An emergency control centre is completely unnecessary at- present, and’ when the time comes at which the. centre^ is: needed, it will then- be installed and made available for use..

When will it become, necessary? I consider that the emergency control centre is necessary at any time when the. reactor is in operation. I believe that the Government is trying to cover up its mistakes, and is proposing to press the reactor into operation long before the necessary safety devices are provided. I also referred to the fact that a number of buildings have not been completed. The Minister did not deal with my contentions. He said -

A large part of the chemical engineering block, concerning- which Mr. Johnson complains, has, in truth, been occupied’ for nearly a year and’ the research programme- is already under way.

That is no answer to my contention that a large number of buildings have not been completed. The building to which the Minister referred is partially in use, but only partially. I hope: the members of the Government will not be hoodwinked by the Minister and that they will examine this matter carefully, because I hold a firm conviction that the development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes will bring great benefits to the Australian people. I hope that Government supporters will not approach this matter in the lethargic manner adopted by the Minister. I hope they will face up to the job of getting this reactor under way, so that industry, the medical profession and the Australian people generally will benefit from it.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay:

Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- I am surprised that on such an important subject there are evidently no further contributions to come from honorable members opposite. That very fact gives support to the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson). The honorable member for

Hughes made some remarks concerning the safety factor at the Lucas Heights reactor project. One of the most important requirements in connexion with research of this kind is that public confidence should be built up. The honorable member for Hughes has played an active part in local government in his district, and he has reported that the Sutherland Shire Council is very worried because of the fact that the nuclear reactor will be in operation before the emergency control centre is completed. This is a very important matter. It is not a simple question whether the control centre is scientifically essential; it is rather a matter of public confidence. The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority has established a record second to none. The British people have evolved many of the accepted techniques and have taken the lead in nuclear development generally. But the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority has paid very high regard to public safety. I have before me an extract from an article that appeared in a special addition of the “ Financial Times “ which was issued last year, and which was available to honorable members at the atomic energy exhibition that was held some time ago in King’s Hall in this building. The article reads, in part -

The present pace of atomic energy development has drawn much of its impetus from public confidence in the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority’s regard for health and safety factors. Measures to safeguard the safety of the Authority’s staff and the general public have been and are expensive. By cutting corners they could have saved money. It is because they have not done so that we have been able in this country, before all others, to obtain “a green light “ to go ahead on an ambitious nuclear power programme.

The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) cannot disregard the fears and anxieties of the people living in the Lucas Heights area. It is not, as I said before, a question whether the emergency control centre is scientifically essential. The point is that we cannot proceed with this kind of nuclear development unless we have absolute public confidence.

The point to which I wish to address some remarks concerns the inordinate and extraordinary delay on the part of the Government in introducing this bill. The last report of the Atomic Energy Commission says, at page 55 -

In September, 1956, Sir Jack Stevens resigned from the chairmanship of the Commission in order to take up an important post in industry. Professor J. P. Baxter was appointed part-time chairman as from the 29th September. In March Dr. Raggatt was appointed deputy chairman in succession to Professor Baxter. Dr. Raggatt is secretary of the Department of National Development and has been a member of the Commission’s Advisory Committee on uranium mining since its inception. As there is no longer a fulltime Commissioner, an Executive Officer is to be appointed to assist the chairman and to look after the day-to-day administration of the commission.

The report is dated 3rd October, 1957, six months ago. The resignation of Sir Jack Stevens took place in September, 1956, eighteen months ago. The report itself was for the year ended 30th June, 1957, which was nine months ago. Now we find that in this vital field of nuclear energy development, with all that it offers for the community generally, under the control of an important public authority such as the Atomic Eneregy Commission, the Government has seen fit to let eighteen months elapse after the resignation of the man who was in charge. This constitutes a very serious indictment of the Government’s lack of interest in the whole project. It is no wonder that many things have happened such as have been mentioned this afternoon by honorable members on both sides of the House. Those things are not the fault of any person in the commission, but rather of the members of this Government. The initiative lies with the Government and the Parliament. We cannot place the responsibility on some organization and then forget all about it. Unfortunately that is what has been done in this case.

For some time, I have been asking questions about the companies that control the development of our uranium resources, but I have never received a satisfactory answer. The matter has been treated in an off-handed fashion by the Minister for National Development, who has other matters to attend to in the other chamber, lt lias been treated as a sideline by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Townley) and has been altogether ignored by the Government. I think that every Australian should take to heart the words of the honorable member for Mackellar, who said, this afternoon, that this country and this Government have unfortunately missed the bus in relation to this matter. It ought to be mentioned in every election pamphlet distributed for the next general elections that, in relation to one of the great advances of the age - atomic energy and its development, with all that it could mean to Australia generally - this Government has missed the bus. I believe that it has missed the bus because of its failure to accept the Australian Atomic Energy Commission as a going concern and a vital public utility, and to give the commission its wholehearted support.

Why is it that the difficulties about which the honorable member for Hughes has complained to us have arisen? He has complained about the failure to complete various sections of the Lucas Heights project. Why is it that it will be completed twelve months behind schedule? Why have these things occurred? I believe that they are due to the Government’s off-handed neglect of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, to its failure to appoint a fulltime executive head, and to its reluctance to get on with the job generally. The basis of the success of public utilities is the kind of man appointed to administer them, the authority they are given, and the ministerial initiative and dynamic energy applied to support them and make them efficient going concerns. We have only to consider TransAustralia Airlines to understand this. The Government’s treatment of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission is a classicexample of neglect of a body that calls for the application of all those principles according to which government enterprise must be developed. It is no wonder that public enterprises in this country have failed to win the confidence of the people or to show the initiative that we expect of them, when, for many years, both Commonwealth and State Governments have been controlled by people with the wrong attitude towards public utilities.

The Government’s failure to appoint a full-time chairman to the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, in September, 1956, L» a very serious matter. The former Minister for Supply, Mr. Beale, in his second-reading speech on the Atomic Energy Bill 1953, indicated how important the Government at that time considered the commission would be, and everybody in Australia to-day realizes how important it is. Mr. Beale said -

The bill is made necessary by the important discoveries of uranium-bearing ores . . . and by the Government’s determination that those deposits shall be vigorously and promptly exploited for the defence of Australia and its allies, and also ultimately for industrial and other purposes . . we must now go forward to great developments in the future.

Those words sounded wonderful five years ago. Mr. Beale said, further -

In atomic research and development the Government has also been active.

That was what a Minister said five years ago, but one has only to consider the speeches made this afternoon by honorable members on both sides of the House to see that, if there is any field in which the Government has been inactive, it is the field of atomic energy. Its failure to give proper authority, proper chairmanship, dynamic direction and adequate funds to the commission, and to proceed with satisfactory development at the Lucas Heights establishment is a prime example of the Government’s inactivity. When the Government proposed to appoint Sir Jack Stevens, who was then Mr. Stevens, to the position of chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Mr. Beale said - . . the commission will consist of Mr. J. E. S. Stevens, formerly Secretary of the Department of Supply, who will be a full-time chairman, devoting the whole of his very great abilities to this task; and Professor Baxter and Mr. H. M. Murray, who will be part-time members.

When the commission was formed, at no stage was it envisaged that it would function under the direction of part-time officials. The fact that it has been under the direction of part-time officers is a very serious reflection on the Government.

If there is anything wrong with the development of atomic energy in this country, it is the fault of the Government, and, I suppose, also of all of us who did not realize what was happening in 1953. In his second-reading speech yesterday, the Minister for Supply said -

As it is now constituted under the principal act, the commission consists of a chairman, a deputy chairman, and a third member, all of whom hold office on a part-time basis.

I assumed from that statement - I was not a member of this House in 1953 - that the act made a stipulation to that effect, but it does not. The only reason for the chairman’s holding office on a part-time basis is the neglect of the Government to appoint a full-time chairman to succeed Sir Jack Stevens. If there is any indictment that can be levelled at this Government, it can be levelled in this field. That is the first stricture that 1 place upon it.

There is no doubt that atomic energy is a field that offers great opportunities for national development for the benefit of the country as a whole. The Government’s failure to give the Australian Atomic Energy Commission proper authority under full-time direction, and to give it the status and .authority afforded by proper recognition as a public utility, has detrimentally affected the development of our uranium deposits. The honorable member for Mackellar has pointed out that our uranium deposits may be adequate and that uranium may well become old fashioned as a source of atomic power, but that cannot be said of the commission and its members. At page 24 of its fifth annual report, the commission stated -

When the Mary Kathleen undertaking comes into production in 1959, the total Australian output will be about 1.000 .tons of uranium oxide a year.

This is a satisfactory outcome of the scale of past prospecting and development, but the Commission is concerned that the present scale of activity is not greater. Large areas of Australia are geologically favorable to the occurrence of uranium, but only a fraction of these have been investigated with any thoroughness.

Australia’s immediate requirements are adequately provided for, but with an increasing domestic power programme, and over the long term an increasing world demand, a steady flow of new discoveries is desirable. Too slow a rate of exploration at this stage could prove a serious handicap to development later.

I think that an important point of political philosophy stems from those statements.

Any one who examines the matter will find that our uranium deposits have been developed toy private companies. The principal ones are the North Australian Uranium Corporation No Liability, the Rio Tinto Mining Company of Australia Limited, Mount Isa Mines Limited, and the Consolidated Zinc Corporation Limited. Who owns these companies, and where are they controlled from? The North Australian Uranium Corporation, which is operating in the South Alligator River area, has a shareholding of which 50 per cent, is owned by the Atlas Corporation of the United States of America, and it also has a working arrangement with the Mitsubishi Metal Mining Company of Japan. Australia has very little control over that company - and apparently, to judge from the administration of this Government, very little interest in it. Mount Isa Mines Limited has a shareholding of which 50.4 per cent, is owned by the American Smelting and Refining Company. The Consolidated Zinc Corporation has its head office in London, and holds the whole of the issued capital in the Enterprise Exploration Company Proprietary Limited, the developing agency for the Rum Jungle field. The Consolidated Zinc Corporation is one of the industrial and mining giants of the world. It owns Titanium and Zirconium Industries Proprietary Limited, which operates at Stradbroke Island, Queensland. It owns, also, the Commonwealth Aluminium Corporation which is developing the Weipa bauxite deposits, and with which the present Queensland Government has signed an agreement with supreme and complete disregard for the welfare of the native inhabitants of the area.

Mr Curtin:

– An agreement for ISO years.


– That is so. The Rio

Tinto Mining Company of Australia Limited has a shareholding of which 50 per cent, is owned by the Rio Tinto Company Limited, which is another of the great giants. One of its directors is Baron Rothschild, the well-known democrat, and it has investment interests in the United Stales of America, Spain, Rhodesia, Canada and Central Africa. I can find no names of the directors of Mary Kathleen Uranium Limited in the listings in the mining report?.

This is a serious matter. Australia’s uranium deposits should be vested in the people of Australia, and should not be passed over to private enterprise, and particularly overseas companies. The Government’s search for overseas capital is producing a situation in which this country’s future will depend upon people who live outside Australia and, in a political sense, have no responsibility to us for any of their actions. This is a very important factor that ought to be considered. If the Government had shown proper concern and interest, this situation would never have arisen.

I return again to the reports and shall take the North Australian Uranium Corporation. We depend on these people to prospect for our uranium. The report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission reveals that it is worried about the failure to develop uranium fields. How can they be developed by private enterprise?

The North Australian Uranium Corporation is faced with serious losses; it has lost some, hundreds of thousands of pounds on its exploration and prospecting operations. In the report of the Sydney Stock Exchange Bureau, we find the following comments: - 30th June, 1957 - Shareholders at the annual general meeting will be given the opportunity of expressing an opinion as to whether they desire the company to be wound up and the remaining funds distributed to the shareholders or to continue the company on a broader and less speculative basis.

What a way to control the development ot uranium! The report continues - 29th January, 1958 - An extraordinary meeting of the North Australian Uranium Corporation has been called for February 21st to consider a resolution that the company be wound up voluntarily. Directors asked shareholders to vote against the resolution.

A complete hiatus is left in this field. The company cannot be expected to continue prospecting with these decisions still to- be made by the shareholders. We cannot expect any development in the areas over which it holds the rights, and the maps in the report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission show that, this company has rights over a considerable piece of country. The report of the Stock Exchange Bureau continues - 24th February, 1958 - At an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders of North Australian Uranium Corporation, the directors’ unanimous recommendation that the company should carry on was accepted and the resolution calling for the company to be wound up was not carried.

The moral of that story is that we cannot hand over to companies which must consider their shareholders first, the development of uranium fields, which must be carried on continuously and thoroughly, and on which the proper and full development of the community in the years to come will depend. The prime consideration in these matters is the national interest. This failure to prospect and develop has sprung completely from the failure of the Government to give proper dynamic leadership and to take the initiative in the development and control, of uranium production. They are some of the problems that face us. This slow strangulation, which is affecting every public utility for which this Government is responsible, is also preventing development in many other spheres. The country will not develop if the Government continues its present policy.

One interesting activity of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission is its training of scientists. It is playing a very important role; at least, it has- an opportunity to play a very important role. In this field, there is nothing but need. Professor Baxter said that our schools are deplorable and our universities are almost bankrupt, and we have a shortage of scientists everywhere. For the higher degrees, such as doctor of philosophy, post-graduate research is undertaken. We can expect those who undertake this research and study to be the leaders of the future. The comparative figures are interesting. They are -

The figures for science graduates as a whole are per million of population -

This is one aspect of the activities of the commission which could be considerably expanded.

Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.


– I referred earlier to the very serious position that had arisen regarding the functions of the Atomic Energy Commission through the failure of the Government to appoint a full-time chairman to take the place of Sir Jack Stevens, who resigned in September, 1957. Here we have a public utility charged with the responsibility of developing our atomic energy and all its resources, a utility which controls prospecting and mining for uranium, which has instituted an educational programme on its own account, which has been responsible for the progress of nuclear research, also for the expenditure of many millions of pounds of public money, but which has been left without permanent direction. It was so completely neglected by the Government that, in the words of an honorable member on the Government side of the House, Australia has “ missed the bus “ in this field.

Part of the responsibility for rectifying the serious shortage of trained scientific personnel in Australia, which I mentioned earlier, has been accepted by .the commission which, I think, will expand its education programme, since there is no doubt that development in the field of nuclear energy depends on the degree of technical training available to workers in that field. Here is what the Australian Academy of Science said in its report on “ Scientific and Manpower Supply “ -

Australia produces as a percentage of her population only about half as many scientists and engineers as Great Britain and Canada, between one third and one quarter as many as the United States, and only one quarter as many as the U.S.S.R.

The trouble begins at the secondary school level where there is insufficient encouragement for the student to take up a scientific career.

There is a grave shortage of competent teachers of science and mathematics.

I should like to remind honorable members on both sides of the House that it is in the field of secondary education that the greatest shortage applies, lt is also in the secondary field that we have to make up the existing serious deficiencies.

I congratulate the commission for the part, small though it is at present, that it is playing in this field. According to the commission’s report, 39 studentships are at present distributed among Australian universities and there are 28 other scholarships available in other research projects. This field may be extended, but it can be extended only if the people employed in doing this work are given a full-time job at it. It is not a job which can be done by part-time members of the commission. Consequently, it is to the direct interest of the nation that the Government undertake its responsibilities in respect of every section of the activities of the commission. Those activities are vital to the community, and it is only by receiving consistent help from the Government that such a public utility can make a success of its undertakings. We cannot ignore the responsibility to develop nuclear power, because it is this field which offers us the greatest possibility of the expansion of industrial output and the rising standards of living that go with it, by making available more resources of power, not only to industry but also to domestic users.

There is a very close relationship between the amount of energy consumed by a country, and its living standards. The figures I am about to give were true a year ago, and I have no doubt they are still true relative to each other. The national income of the United States, expressed in sterling, was £640 a head of population, and the energy consumption in terms of coal was 8.6 tons a head. Canada’s average income a head of population was £475 and the energy consumption was 8.1 tons of coal a head of population. The other figures that I have here are as follows: - New Zealand, £405 - 3.2 tons; Sweden, £385 - 4.5 tons; Switzerland, £380 - 3.1 tons; Australia, £360-4.3 tons.

So our consumption of energy is about half that of the consumption in the United States whilst our national income is practically half that of the United States a head of population. A study of the figures shows the very close relationship between the development of energy resources and living standards. This is part of the challenge which faces this Parliament, the people and, in particular, the Government. We must develop the power resources available to us. There is no doubt that the nuclear field is that which will offer the greatest scope to us in this direction.

I understand that the American atomic submarine “ Nautilus “ cruised for over 60,000 miles for a consumption of only about 8 lb. of uranium. That cruise, if done by an oil-burning submarine, would have required the consumption of 10,000 tons, which is 3,000,000 gallons, of oil. So honorable members will realize the great resources of power that lie open to us. The commission says in its report -

Within the next decade it seems probable that the gas-cooled, graphite reactor will be able to produce power at a cost per kilowatt hour which will compare with all but the most favorably situated Australian coal-burning stations.

So there is our future set out, because in places like Mount Isa and in the Weipa River district we will need great development of electric power. It is nuclear energy which, in our remote areas, will solve the problem of power supply. Yet over the last eighteen months the people responsible for activities in this field, responsible for the very basis of nuclear development in this country, responsible for the setting up of the nuclear reactor and its subsidiary research works, have been completely neglected by the Government, with the result that progress is now about twelve months in arrears.

One point I should like to mention concerns section 51 of the act governing the Atomic Energy Commission, which reads as follows: -

The Commission shall, before appointing a person to be an officer or an employee of the Commission or the member of an Advisory Committee require him to furnish to the Commission in writing, verified by a statutory declaration, information on such matters as the Minister directs, being information which the Minister is satisfied it is desirable to obtain for the purposes of ensuring the security, safety or secrecy of the operations of the Commission.

I have here one of the forms which prospective employees of the commission are asked to fill in. Question 17 on the form reads -

Do you belong, or have you ever belonged, to any body associated with, or which you supposed to be connected with or in sympathy with, the Communist Party? (Answer “ Yes “ or “ No “. and if “ Yes “, name the body of which you are or have been a member, giving dates.)

N.B. - In answering Question 17, you should take into account not merely your own belief, but also the sort of opinion which is generally held of the body in question, even if you do not endorse that opinion. An explanation on a separate sheet may be attached . . .

I would call that the 64-dollar question. Can any one imagine, for instance, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) or the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) being asked to judge a question of that kind? This is a grave power which is handed to the commission, but the Government has neglected to give the commission permanent officials to wield this power.

Finally, I say to all members of the House and the community generally, that we shall have to show a good deal more interest in the workings of this commission, and give a great deal more active study to the possibilities that are open to us. Let nobody forget the serious neglect of the national welfare by the Government in not bringing this bill before us eighteen months ago.

Northern Territory

– I wish to make a few comments on the activities of the Atomic Energy Commission which, I hope, will be of some use to the commission when it reviews its activities in the general field of atomic research and development. I should like, first, to endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), and also the remarks of the honorable member fa.* Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who made a very strong point in his plea for the exploitation to the fullest possible degree of the atomic resources of Australia. By that I mean that the whole of the atomic energy reserves, both the raw material and finished product, should be developed and processed in Australia and not sent overseas for processing or exploitation by interests outside Australia. I also endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) who criticized the Government for its failure to step up the activities of the Lucas Heights reactor for the development of atomic research. He repeatedly pointed out that unless this work was proceeded with and completed, basic research regarding nuclear facilities would be hampered.

The points upon which I wish to comment regarding the Australian Atomic Energy Commission arise from the publication of the commission’s report recently. I wish to deal with some important matters which affect Australia generally and my electorate in particular, as the bulk of our uranium, which is the basic requirement of atomic energy, is obtained in the Northern Territory. Honorable members know that the first commercial find of uranium was discovered on the mining fields of Rum Jungle and the first uranium treatment plant in Australia was established there. I am proud to say that the whole enterprise was handled by the Commonwealth Government and it is a credit to the organization concerned; but there are a few points I should like to mention not only in connexion with the exploitation of the resources of the Rum Jungle field as we know it now, but also with regard to the commission’s approach to prospecting and the development of other deposits which are known to exist in the Northern Territory. At page 20 of the . Atomic Energy Commission’s report, the commission takes great pains to stress the decline in development and prospecting in

Australia to-day compared with such activities a few years ago. The commission’s comments are -couched in these terms -

There was a substantial reduction in the activities of prospecting .and mining companies, and individual prospectors searching for .uranium.

It outlines the chief areas of .prospecting and development in Australia to-day. The Northern Territory offers :one of the .great fields for development. Queensland offers another prospective field and there .is another in South Australia, but .the blame for the decline in prospecting from the previous level can be laid .at the door of the commission itself. I -make that statement because the commission allowed vast areas of country to be tied up for prospecting by the big companies. Those areas covered thousands of miles of possible uraniumbearing country. They were shut off from individual prospectors and reserved for the big prospectors with mechanized transport and other modern facilities. Those areas were locked up, and individual prospectors have failed to develop many of the worthwhile deposits. Such prospectors have adopted the attitude that .as they have been precluded from big areas it is not worth their while to continue prospecting. They have ceased searching for uranium.

Another point concerns the rewards for the discovery of uranium that were offered by the commission, lt could foe said that the rewards were .generous but in ‘some cases - and I shall refer to one in particular - there has been doubt about the methods employed toy the commission in granting or withholding rewards that were claimed in respect of deposits which were located and tested. One of them is at Coronation Hill on the way to the Alligator River. A dispute has arisen between ;a prospector and the Bureau of Mineral Resources as to who was the actual finder of the deposits. This claim should have been settled by some independent party years ago. As a result of that dispute, prospectors throughout the Northern Territory are dissatisfied about their prospects of collecting a reward if they find uranium. The prospectors have adopted the attitude that it is of no use to prospect for uranium because they do not know whether they will get the reward anyway.

A mining committee set up by the Government itself investigated the case to which 1 have referred and was favorably impressed by .the evidence given by .the prospector concerned. I believe that the majority of the committee accepted his assurance that he was the actual finder of the deposit. The prospector originally took a geologist of the Bureau of Mineral Resources to the area and is said to have thus established his claim to it. That is as may be. I was not there, and there is no means of ascertaining the truth of such statements until there has been an independent investigation. If one were held I believe it would be settled in the prospector’s favour. That would be of material benefit as it would stimulate prospectors in that area to go out and search for new deposits.

I wish to direct my attention now to the Rum jungle leases themselves and the exploitation in that area. The report of the Atomic Energy Commission gives some idea of the richness of the deposits at Rum Jungle and the development that has taken place .there. At , page 18 of the report, under the heading of “ Mining Operations “, we learn that reserves of uranium-copper ore at the end of the period covered by the report totalled 138,000 tons. The uranium content was 6.71b. per ton and the copper content was 3.9 per cent. Copper ore reserves at the end of the period totalled 286,000 tons and the copper content was 2.8 per cent, per ton. Taking copper alone, the proved reserves of 286,000 tons averaging 2.8 per cent, are valued in the vicinity of £1,000,000. That is significant when I point out that there is no mining exclusively to raise copper ores at Rum Jungle. The copper ore is obtained in the mining for uranium, and is put aside for treatment later. The commission should declare itself on its policy regarding the treatment of copper ore. From that area alone, its value could be far in excess of the wealth produced in uranium. We know that uranium ores do not persist indefinitely in depth and extent and that the time will come when the deposits will be worked out, and the mine, as a uranium producer, will be exhausted. But this vast quantity of copper ore is available on the leases and in many cases it has not been touched at all. In the year 1956-57 1,500 tons of copper concentrates were processed in the recovery of uranium. If the commission were to erect a treatment plant capable of treating base metals such as copper ore, the value of the mine would be increased many-fold. The life of a mine now estimated at five or ten years could be extended for an indefinite period, and the resultant development in the area, together with the employment opportunities provided, would be considerable.

We know that there exists on the leases an ore body some 30 feet in width and of considerable extent. That copper lode is not being worked or developed at the present time. The Atomic Energy Commission, of course, has concentrated on the mining of uranium ore, and the treatment of copper ore has been only incidental to the recovery of uranium oxide. We feel that some move should be made at this stage for the erection of a copper treatment plant so that the value of the mine may be increased and its life extended considerably.

I proceed now to refer to some of the other deposits that exist there and to the mine that is at present being worked in the Alligator River area. Last year this mine sold £400,000 worth of uranium to the Combined Development Agency, but it is at present having great difficulty in concluding with that agency an agreement for the sale of its products when it starts treatment of uranium ores in the very near future. The commission complained in its report of the lack of development in this industry. Here is a uranium ore deposit, in respect of which the commission is apparently not endeavouring to conclude an agreement between this mine, on the one hand, and the agency on the other hand, for the purchase of that metal. Certainty must exist about what we are to do with this metal when production starts.

The mine has bought a treatment plant at some considerable expense. A road of reasonable standard is badly needed for the carriage of the ore from the mine to the treatment plant. The Government indicated that it would grant a sum of money to allow such a road to be provided, but as yet it has not advanced the money, and the construction of the road has not commenced. These are things that tend to discourage production of uranium in places where, in any case, the difficulties are considerable and, in this instance, virtually insurmountable. Until the commission really gets moving and provides facilities in the way of roads, treatment plants, and contracts for these people, it cannot look for any substantial increase in the production of uranium ore. We in that area have the experience. We know the possibilities that exist and we know that with the right sort of encouragement the industry can flourish, and that as a result of the flourishing of the industry considerable development can take place in mining and agriculture and otherwise in these areas.

I should like to raise the further question of the commission’s attitude to the erection of atomic power plants, which I feel are warranted for the treatment of our resources of bauxite, the raw material for aluminium, in the Gulf country, extending from the Northern Territory to the Weipa deposits at the tip of Cape York. We know that in that area we have the greatest known deposits of bauxite in the world. For a considerable time we could probably supply the world’s requirements of this commodity. 1 feel that if we have in Australia both the deposits and the means of treating them, we should treat them in Australia, and that where the deposits occur in an undeveloped area, every effort should be made to treat them there because of the development tha! would result. The erection of an atomic power plant on the Gulf of Carpentaria would lead to the treatment there of the entire production of the Weipa area, and the Northern Territory deposits which extend around the coast from Gove to Wessel Island and some other areas, which have millions of tons of this raw material waiting to be exploited.

We know, of course, that the age of atomic energy is not quite here. Some risks have to be taken in the establishment of these plants, because they may become obsolete quickly. We know that these risks are being taken in England, and we read with considerable interest that in that country a process which will reduce by some 30 per cent, the cost of generation of power has been evolved. Australia should be taking the lead in the establishment here of power plants. We have the raw material, and instead of exporting uranium oxide for users in other parts of the world, we should be using it here to develop our own resources. We have the deposits and we have the technical know-how to develop and refine the product. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) outlined the position very clearly to-day. The possibilities that exist for exploitation and development are unlimited. The aluminium industry could be of considerable value to Australia. It could be developed to the point where it would have the same value as wool to Australia. We have a monopoly. The deposits are right on the waterfront, with deep water alongside. They are easily mined, and if we had atomic energy available they could be treated on the spot.

I know that some investigation is taking place in New Guinea into the development of hydro-electric power there for the treatment of this bauxite, but I remind honorable members that the hydro-electric power resources available in New Guinea are on the northern coastline, and that considerable haulage of the bauxite for treatment would be entailed. In northern Australia we have the basis of the power itself, we have the raw material on the spot, and there is an ideal set-up for mining and treatment.

Not very long ago the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) in a debate in this House referred to the serious position with regard to the defence of Australia. He commented on the Indonesian position, saying that as far as Australia was concerned Indonesia could be another Korea. Our northern coastline is virtually uninhabited, unprotected and undeveloped. By the exploitation of our atomic energy resources and our known deposits of the raw material of aluminium, we could go a considerable way towards establishing industries and large centres of population along the coastline of northern Australia. Ultimately then we could have the best of all known defences for a country, a vigorous and thriving population.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.

Bill - by leave - read a third time.

page 706



Debate resumed from 25th March (vide page 657), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-

That the following paper: -

Defence Organization - Ministerial Statement, be printed.


.- The Morshead report, as indicated by the Prime

Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his statement to the House last week, recommended that the four departments that are directly concerned with defence should be amalgamated to form a single Ministry of Defence with one Minister for Defence in charge of the Department of Defence, as it exists to-day, and the three service departments. As this recommendation of the Morshead committee accords with my own views, which I have several times expressed both inside the House and in other places over the last few years, I cannot feel anything but disappointment that the Government has not found it possible to accept this plan. Such a plan, I believe for reasons that must be obvious to anybody who thinks about defence organization - and I like to assume that all honorable members think about it - would provide a much more efficient and effective higher political and administrative control of our defence forces than we are able to achieve with four departments, each having its own Minister, all of whom have opinions to express to the Government, which finally determines Australia’s defence policy. I have no doubt whatever that the Morshead report canvassed these advantages, and that they are well known to the Government.

The Prime Minister gave reasons why the Government was unable to accept this important and major reorganization of the higher defence machinery of this country. I should like to comment on those reasons. In the first place, honorable members are given to understand that such a new department, consisting of the Department of Defence and three existing ministries of the three services, would be so complicated and so unwieldy that no single Minister could adequately control it. The Morshead report pointed out - and I too have pointed this out in the past - that that difficulty could be solved by appointing some type of assistant Ministers. All the argument that we have heard to date in this debate seems to assume that assistant ministers of some kind are an essential factor in producing a single amalgamated Department of Defence. I do not believe that to be so. If one thinks of the ramifications and responsibilities associated with the departments of some other Ministers in this Parliament, one begins to wonder whether an amalgamated Department of Defence would be such an unwieldy organization after all.

For example, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), 1 suggest, has a very wide field to cover, a highly technical and very complicated field. He has made an excellent fist of controlling the Treasury. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) controls a very large organization, with wide flung ramifications, and with a great many complicated and intricate side issues involved, yet he is doing an excellent job. Particularly is that true when it is remembered that, from time to time, the Government recognizes the necessity to introduce such things as import restrictions, which are an added burden to the Minister’s office. When that happens, 1 imagine that there are hundreds of thousands of applications to be dealt with each week or each month - the figures must be astronomical - and they must be dealt with effectively and efficiently by the department. All this responsibility is accepted by a single Minister. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) is responsible for a highly scientific and technical department. His department has very wide ramifications throughout the Commonwealth. He is responsible for a large number of employees - at a guess I would say possibly half the number of the combined defence forces. He is confronted with technical problems similar to those dealt with by the Minister for Trade, yet his department is not so unwieldy that the Government cannot add to his duties the handling of one of these very service departments as a side issue - the Department of the Navy.

If we turn our attention beyond this country, we find that in the United Kingdom the single Minister administering the army has a very much larger department to deal with than his counterpart in this country. He has more scientific equipment in his department, and has wide flung responsibilities all over the world. Yet he is able successfully, I assume, as 2 single Minister, to control the army in the United Kingdom. His administration involves much more scientific machinery than would our amalgamated four departments.

For those reasons, I submit that throwing aside what has been admitted by the Prime Minister to be a streamlined and effective organization on the grounds that it is unworkable without the help of assistant Ministers will not bear the light of unbiassed analysis.

I am particularly disappointed that the Government has been unable to accept the Morshead proposal because it makes it impossible to take the next logical step of amalgamating our present three autonomous services into a single defence force. If we do not have a single Department of Defence I would be the first te admit that an amalgamation into an integrated defence force is not only impracticable, but undesirable. This decision of the Government renders impossible what I believe, for reasons that I have expressed on a number of occasions, is necessary - the formation of an efficient and economic defence force in this country. I am proud to say that I am not alone in this idea of an integrated defence force as the modern requirement of any nation. I am supported by no less a personality than Field-Marshal Montgomery, extracts from whose speech were quoted by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) and the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). This is a severe disappointment to me. In place of this, the Government is proposing to take a step which, I agree, is a step in the right direction. The Government recognizes that with three autonomous fighting services and three Chiefs of Staff, each responsible for his own service, there is inevitable friction when it comes to cutting up the cake with regard to the resources available to the fighting forces. As one who has had some experience, over a number of years of the sort of things that go on. both in peace and war, I believe that to overcome this quite natural friction would be a very big step forward.

To meet this situation, the Government has decided to appoint an independent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff. That, as I said, is a step forward. It will help to abolish or at least mitigate this friction between the Chiefs of Staff. I am not blaming the Chiefs of Staff. They could not bc chiefs of their services without some friction occurring. The fact is that it does occur. The chairman will mitigate this friction which, I believe, an integrated defence force would abolish. I suggest, however, that this chairman of the Chiefs of Staff idea can be improved. I say that for these reasons: The machinery is that the Chiefs of Staff are concerned with the pure military problem of the defence et Australia. That military problem is often married, as it were, to political and administrative considerations of finance, the economic situation of the country, external relations, production capacity and other things. The military appreciation and planning which will come out of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, under the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff, must go to some organization which must formulate a final recommendation which takes cognizance of all these complementary considerations of finance, resources and so forth.

The organization which does this coordinating is the Defence Committee. Among the members of that committee are the three Chiefs of Staff; and, in future, the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff will be there also, lt is not very difficult to visualize that situation which will inevitably arise. The chairman of the Chiefs of Staff, having oiled the wheels of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, then goes to the Defence Committee where the Chiefs of Staff are each on an equal basis, with the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff. If the pure military plan is to be whittled down because of all these complementary considerations, as inevitably it must be, the wrangle will be on again.

So, whilst the Government by this plan has smoothed out this vested interest in the Chiefs of Staff, it does nothing whatever to smooth out the recurrence of the wrangle when the problem goes to the Defence Committee. Although this is only a first step, I think it could be improved if the Government saw its way clear to make the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff also chairman of the Defence Committee. It may be said that a better solution would be to make the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff committee the sole Services representative on the Defence Committee. On the face of it, one would think that that would be a better idea but, in fact, it would be unworkable for the reason that the Chiefs of Staff, at the Chiefs of Staff committee level under his chairmanship, are responsible for purely military appreciation and plans, whereas the Defence Committee is responsible for all the complementary organization and administration of the services. The Chiefs of Staff, in the Defence Committee, deal with things which are not touched on In the Chiefs of Staff committee. Therefore *i** would be impracticable to exclude the Chiefs of Staff from the Defence Committee.

That being so, very little indeed is gained if the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff is merely made an equal member with the Chiefs of Staff on the Defence Committee. The only way to solve this difficulty is to make the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee chairman of the Defence Committee, where he can exercise the same placating influence as he does - or we hope he will in future - over the Chiefs of Staff committee.

If that were done some real good might come out of this government plan - halfway house as it is; this substitution of a half-way measure for a really effective and useful amalgamation not only of the political and higher administrative organization of our defence forces but also of the fighting forces themselves. I believe that whatever we do in this Parliament to-day and whatever happens in the near future, the time is not far distant when the force of circumstances, irrespective of our wishes, will make it impossible to avoid the implication of this integrated forces idea.

I have nothing but commendation - if I may presume to use that word - for the Government’s adoption of the Morshead committee’s suggestion that the Department of Supply and the Department of Defence Production should be amalgamated. I think that is a good step and and that it will lead to more efficiency. I have some doubt as to whether it is desirable that the new Department of Supply should be subordinate to the Minister for Defence. I am not sure that that is right. However, I thing that this plan is worth trying. The Department of Supply, in its new status, incorporating the Department of Defence Production, will have a much wider field of operation than purely production for the defence services. I should feel happier if the Minister for Supply who will be in charge of the new department were on an equal status with the Minister for Defence. The Minister for Defence would then be required merely to put his operational requirements in the lap of the Minister for Supply, who would be responsible for implementing the request of the Minister for Defence. Further down the line the liaison between the manufacturer and the producer of defence requirements would be meshed in with the echelons of the Services to ensure that the defence requirements were met.

I have no more to say on this matter. I can only express the hope that this intermediate measure is only an intermediate measure. I hope that it will produce a more satisfactory defence force. I do not place a great deal of reliance on the idea that the Department of Defence shall be proclaimed as the superior department. I think that might be more an expression of hope than what will happen in practice. However, I think that if the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff is made also the chairman of the Defence Committee, that move could produce very useful results.


.- The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) is, as honorable members know, a distinguished serviceman who served in a very high capacity in the last war. It is significant that the Government, which lacks ability in many directions, but particularly in relation to defence, should see fit to continue to leave him on a back bench from which his advice is so constantly given and, just as constantly, disregarded. I listened with interest to his comments and to those of other honorable members in this debate. I would particularly have liked the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and other distinguished exservicemen on the Government side to place their views before the Parliament on this subject which has been so incompetently handled by the Administration.

There have been almost as many changes in the Government’s defence policy since 1950 as there have been changes in the weather. It is not new for us to hear the Prime Minister announce, every so often, that there will be a full review of service requirements, the defence needs of this nation, and the general defence administration. Investigations are constantly being made but very seldom, if ever, has any decision been given effect.

To-night, I wish to exclude from any criticism that I may make of the defence forces and the Government’s policy those members who are serving in the forces and endeavouring to carry out their responsibilities in this field. I realize, as all other honorable members must realize, the terrific task of those men in serving under an administration that has been condemned, even by such strong Government supporters as those who run the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ and other journals.

It is significant, also, that the Government has refused to table the Morshead report. The Government has announced to this Parliament its receipt of a secret document produced by men who, in the Prime Minister’s own words, were above reproach, and who were led by Lieutenant-General Sir Leslie Morshead, one of our most eminent Australian servicemen. But the Morshead report has not been tabled in this Parliament. I wonder why. I believe it has not been tabled because it contained a scathing indictment of this Government’s defence policy. I think the Government was afraid to table the report because it might have told this Parliament that all that this Government had in the way of defence was another Brisbane line. The Government has refused to table the report. In other words, the Morshead report has gone into the same category as those books that were banned at one time - “ The Catcher in the Rye”, “Love Me Sailor”, and “The Keys of St. Peter”. The Government did not want those books circulated because it considered that they might poison the minds of the people. It probably realizes that the presentation of the Morshead report would enlighten the people on the incompetence of the Administration. This report was compiled at public expense. Now, the Government is keeping the report hidden. The Government is ashamed because the report reveals its incompetence and its inability to face the great problems of defence.

The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) told the nation that we were ready to go to war against Colonel Nasser, forthwith or earlier, but everybody knew that it would have taken five years to prepare for war with the men who were being trained at that time. We know that the Government wants these facts to be hidden and is ashamed of what is contained in the Morshead report. That must be the major reason why it is not prepared to present the report to the Parliament.

I am not very concerned with what the Government intends to do in future with regard to defence because, like most people, I have given up any hope of seeing any practical return for the expenditure that the Government has allowed itself for defence. Let us look at what we have to-day. After eight or nine years of this Government’s administration, over £1,300,000,000 has been spent on defence and there have been practically no results. We are as defenceless, in the words of Sir Frederick Shedden, as we were in 1939. That position was so obvious to the people of this country that poor old “ Shoot ‘em down “ Thorby, a member of the Australian Country party, came out of retirement and wrote articles, free of charge, I understand, for a Sydney newspaper in order to awaken the people to the need to toss this Government out. As honorable members know, he would probably be the first Australian Country party member who was able to write an article and absolutely the first to have given anything away.

Quite recently, the Government was criticized strongly by the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. I do not like to praise the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. I begrudge every word that I say in its favour because I know of no more bitter opponent of the Labour party among the newspapers than the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. But I feel I should say that, for once, the sentiments expressed in this newspaper adequately expressed the opinion of the Australian people, and even of some of the Government back-benchers, concerning the Government’s defence policy. Dealing with the policy speech made by the present Prime Minister in 1949, the “Sydney Morning Herald “ article stated not very long ago: -

Menzies has given us words but not soldiers.

If words were battalions and promises were warplanes, Australia would have a formidable defence force - instead of virtually no defence force at all. The Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, has been building wordy defences, and conjuring up verbal regiments and squadrons ever since he declared in his 1949 policy speech: - “We stand for adequate national preparedness for defence.”

Government supporters should applaud that statement because when the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ is on their side they tell us what a very independent thinking journal it is. They say that it is an organ that tells the truth. The article also stated -

More than f 1,200,000,000 of the Australian taxpayers’ money has been poured out on defence. For all the results that have been achieved, some two-thirds of this amount might seemingly have just as well been poured down the drain.

I think that that is magnificent journalism. It tells, in the language of the man in the street, what has happened in regard to the defence policy of the Government. It goes on to say, referring to the Prime Minister -

His characteristic weakness for believing that eloquence is a substitute for action, that a policy announced is a policy carried out, that a committee formed is a plan achieved, was once again to be given full play in the field of defence.

These criticisms emphasize the laxity of the Government in relation to defence. They appeared in what may be regarded as the Government’s own official organ. The second article stated -

Government’s Defence Show-Piece is a Military Sham.

On April 4, 1957, the long-awaited - and some three years overdue - “ comprehensive review “ of the Australian defence program was announced to Parliament by the Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies. lt was an excellent statement, clear, well reasoned and beautifully phrased. The Prime Minister stood, as he stood in 1949, for “ adequate national preparedness fer defence “.

The article went on to refer to the Minister for the Army who, I am sure, if he read it, would have a sleepless night. The next article was headed -

Muddled thinking and weak administration.

I am sorry that time does not permit me to read every word of the articles. They should be put on record and I ask the Government to agree to having them incorporated in “ Hansard “.


– Is leave granted?

Government members. - No.


– Leave is not granted.


– No wonder the Government will not agree to have these articles incorporated in “ Hansard “. The next one was headed -

Sorry Story of R.A.A.F. Fighter Programme.

In case honorable members think that I was not sincere in wanting to have the articles incoroporated in “ Hansard “ I shall quote from the fifth article which was headed as follows: -

The Menzies-McBride partnership must be broken.

Never was the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ more correct and never were articles a more damning indictment of any government’s defence policy than those which appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. The fact that honorable members opposite are afraid of them is signified by the fact that they have refused to agree to have them incorporated in “ Hansard “. They are not secret like the Morshead report but government supporters are ashamed to have them printed in “ Hansard “ because they know that they would be read by many more people. The people would realize that these articles are definite condemnation of the Government’s policy.

What can one expect of a government that has a lot of misfits in charge of its service departments? The Navy these days has become merely an appendage of the Postmaster-General’s Department, because the Postmaster-General also holds the portfolio of Minister for the Navy. This particular Minister had a distinguished career in the Army, so he has been put in charge of the Navy. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who is now at the table, is a man of great prominence in the field of business. He has, therefore, been made Minister for the Army. In charge of the Department of Air we have another misfit, the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne), who, 1 understand, was a distinguished member of the Navy. There we see the complete pattern - a collection of misfits. Now we have another statement brought forward by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) telling us that the Government intends to re-organize its defence administration.

Consider the amounts ot money that this Government has wasted on defence. Take, first, the national service training scheme. The Government has spent over £100,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money on a scheme that is in course of abandonment. Under this scheme men are to-day being called up on the basis of a ballot system, and we are not even sure that the ballots are being run fairly. Honorable members opposite know as well as I do that men in country districts are exempted from service under this scheme, while those in the city are called up because they happen to live within five miles of some drill hall. Despite the fact that the Government has wasted over £100,000,000 on this scheme, it still contends that it is spending defence money wisely.

I invite attention also to the St. Marys project, which has been condemned by experts. Again, the report on that project has been hidden, as was the Morshead report. The Government is ashamed to produce it. While £30,000,000 is being spent on that project, one of the Government’s own senators in another place tells us that we might as well use any guns that the Army has to shoot rabbits and kangaroos, because they will not be needed in any future war, which will be fought with modern weapons. These matters all indicate the way in which the Government has wasted money. It now proposes to restore the naval establishment at Jervis Bay, at a cost of millions of pounds. Government supporters know as well as I do that the few ships that are in service are by no means sufficient to justify the maintenance or training facilities that will be provided at Jervis Bay.

Let me give another example of the Government’s incompetence. Provision has been made for about 100 Centurion tanks for the Army. These tanks weigh 50 tons each, and it has been found impossible to carry them on our railways or over road bridges. Their range of travel is about 30 miles, and they use about 4 gallons of petrol for every mile. They cost £50,000 each, and they are quite unsuitable for use in this country, because our transport services are not geared to handle them. A lighter armoured vehicle would be far better suited to our requirements.

We find also that the Air Force is to acquire twelve Lockheed transports at a cost of £16,000,000. These aircraft will cost the country £1,250,000 each. Their pay-load will be 13 tons. When one of my colleagues asked the Minister for Air why they were being obtained, the Minister replied, “ They will be very useful; they will be able to fly bulldozers to Townsville “. But who wants to fly bulldozers to Townsville? The bulldozers should be there. If, when an army lands, we have to wait for bulldozers to be flown to Townsville, all I can say is that the bulldozers, as well as the planes, might just as well be left here. These aircraft can carry only 13 tons, so that any bulldozers they were called upon to carry would have to be cut into four parts.

The Government is spending unlimited money on a programme that has been condemned by our own Public Accounts Committee and by other authorities. Let us not forget that £1,300,000,00 has been spent by this Government on defence, and what have we to show for it? The Air Force has one helicopter. I asked the Minister in this House how many helicopter crews the Air Force had, and I was told that only one at a time is trained. At one time no crew could be found for a helicopter to rescue a man from drowning, because the crew were on leave.

Throughout the service departments we find wasteful expenditure of this nature, while the Prime Minister is constantly making statements about review. The Department of the Army is in the course of spending £1,250,000 on the camp at Watsonia in Victoria, and every one wants to know why. We all know that a limited number of men is being called up under the national service training scheme, and 1 believe the money is being expended on this camp merely to bolster the ego of the Minister for the Army, who wants something to look after. Consider the position of the Navy. Our aircraft carriers are 10 knots slower than those in the navies of the United States of America and Britain, and only 2 knots faster than modern submarines. Despite the huge expenditure of £1,300,000,000, the Government has navy, army and air force personnel who are dissatisfied because of the conditions under which they are serving, and which are causing men to leave the services.

I mention these matters only briefly in the time at my disposal, but they are very important matters. Honorable members on the opposite side of the House who have criticized, in season and out, the defence policy of this Government when it did not matter, sit idly by and refuse to take part in the debate. We want to see the honorable member for Chisholm and other honorable members on their feet. I hope that those who are seeking to interject are enjoying themselves, because interjections are about the only contributions they make to the debates in this House. I repeat that the results that the Government can show, after an expenditure of £1,300,000,000, are a damning indictment of its own incompetence. The equipment available to all three services is such that, in the words of Sir Frederick Shedden, we are still defenceless. The statement of the Prime Minister, so far from giving any hope of improvement in the position, merely foreshadows a continuation of the kind of policy that has shown no results after eight or nine years, and offers little prospect for the future. I hope, in the interests of this country, that some good may come out of the changes that are mooted, but I have no confidence in a government that supports a policy which has not given us an adequate defence force in the past, despite a pledge solemnly made in 1949, and repeated frequently by the Prime Minister and those behind him. The trouble is that the Government is too busy preparing for war and that it seldom thinks of peace. I remind the Government, however, that it has a responsibility to provide an adequate defence system for Australia, while at the same time it must play its part in endeavouring to achieve world peace. It has failed in both tasks, and for that failure it deserves to be condemned.

St. George

.- I find it difficult to believe that the speech just delivered by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) could be considered by him a serious contribution to the debate, particularly when we remember that it was preceded by the very fine and solemn speech of a former distinguished commanderinchief of the Australian forces. It is difficult to believe that in the Australian Parliament one may hear a speech so extremely Gilbertian, delivered by a member of the Opposition who, at one stage of his career was a party Whip, and who at one stage had hopes of becoming a member of the Ministry if his party should ever be returned to power.

Mr Ward:

– The honorable member for St. George has not made the grade himself yet.


– The honorable member for East Sydney might in all fairness recall that I am some years junior to the honorable member for Grayndler not only in age but also in experience in this Parliament. I might also say, in fairness, to the honorable member for East Sydney, that there is still time. Be that as it may, let us now return to a serious consideration of the matter before us. I am quite sure that the former Minister who is sitting at the table and representing the Opposition applies himself seriously to a consideration of this matter. We are all very conscious of the fact that Australia’s defence organization is of vital importance.

I believe that one or two comments must be made about some of the rather absurd statements that were made by my friend, the honorable member for Grayndler, in reference to Sir Frederick

Shedden, the former secretary of the Department of Defence. The honorable member alleged that Sir Frederick Shedden had said, at some stage or other, that Australia was defenceless. I must point out, Mr. Speaker, that that is a gross misrepresentation. Indeed, it is entirely false. The fact of the matter is that Sir Frederick Shedden was asked a particular question about mobilization which implied complete mobilization, and he made an obviously short and abrupt reply that was misunderstood by most people at the time. The mobilization to which he referred is a process that begins at the commencement of hostilities. This mobilization process, which is a gathering together of all the resources available in the community, goes on throughout the period of hostilities, as any one who applies himself to a serious consideration of these matters will understand. I point that out because I think that it is most unfortunate for the honorable member for Grayndler to have referred to a distinguished Australian like Sir Frederick Shedden in such a disrespectful and, if I may say so, improper manner.

I believe that the defence of Australia must be seen in relation to the practical facts of international politics. It is inherent in the Government’s policy that Australia’s defence plans must not be considered in respect to Australia on its own, so to speak. The Australian defence concept is entirely dependent upon the functioning of the hemisphere defence scheme that we call the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. If one denies that, one is immediately out of step with the entire thinking of the Cabinet in arriving at the plans that it has formulated at the present time. If one envisaged a situation in which Australia could be attacked without the South-East Asia Treaty Organization coming to our support, and in which Australia would be engaged in a war of any magnitude in which the United Kingdom and the United States of America were not engaged, one would presuppose a situation that the Government obviously does not believe is possible. We must recognize the salient factors that are recognized by the Government, and move with it through the processes and channels of thought that it has followed. The Government believes that Australia’s defence concept must be stated in these terms: It will be Australia’s duty to provide forces to fight in a limited war side by side with the forces of those nations associated with us in the hemisphere defence scheme that I have mentioned. The Government believes, therefore, that we ought to apply ourselves to what has been called the concept of balanced forces. One of the main reasons why it is difficult for us to fulfil a policy of providing balanced forces is the enormous cost of such forces. Mr. Duncan Sandys, the United Kingdom Minister of Defence, has made it particularly clear that the United Kingdom has no intention of undertaking the heavy financial commitments necessary for balanced forces.

The Government is conscious of the fact that a change in defence policy was needed, because, after all, the international situation has altered. New weapons are being adopted, and all sorts of events that will have an impact upon the likely trend of events in the future are taking place, and the Government needs to have a flexible defence policy that will be readily adaptable to changing conditions. We know that it has intelligence committees and planning committees for the specific purpose of keeping it au fait, from year to year, with likely trends, and that it has available to it information obtained from Washington, London, and all the great centres of government in the countries of our allies and friends. The Australian Government takes the view that, in 1958, it can make some re-organization designed to improve our capacity to provide balanced forces to be associated with those of the other Seato nations, and not to provide forces intended to fight on their own against some mythical enemy that could be conceived as attacking Australia alone, because the Government believes that such an event is not likely to occur.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that the Morshead committee was appointed “ to review the organization of the Defence group of departments “. Here is the emergence of a phrase to which I desire to direct particular attention, because I believe, with the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock), that the integration process will go on, even if it is opposed - and, for human reasons, it will be opposed, as such a process always has been opposed, by members of the Services, and by members of the Public Service who will not benefit particularly from some co-ordinated scheme that will result in a reduction of the opportunities for promotion available to members of the Public Service. However, as I have said, I believe that the process of integration will go on. The two steps taken by the Government indicate the path ahead, and I believe that they will bring us ultimately to a point at which we will have integrated forces - integrated in the administrative sense, thinking of the Public Service, and in the service sense, thinking of the armed Services. The Prime Minister said also -

The authority of the Department of Defence, which should be clear and commanding, has come to be regarded as uncertain in various particulars. lt is because of that uncertainty that these statements have been made and the authority of the Department of Defence is being clarified. I should like to see, as would other honorable members who have already spoken in this debate, a situation in which the Minister for Defence was in fact the Minister for the Defence group of departments. I can see no reason why. it should not be recognized that the Ministers for the Navy, for the Army, for Air, and for Supply and Defence Production, should in truth be Ministers junior to the Minister for Defence, but not necessarily junior Ministers by definition. They should be Ministers junior to the Minister for Defence because their appointments would be junior by nature compared to that of the Minister in charge of the Defence group of departments. Not so very long ago, Sir Eric Harrison, as Leader of the House, Minister for Defence Production, and Deputy Leader of the Liberal party of Australia, was in fact senior to the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) in the Cabinet hierarchy.

I believe that the arguments against the division of control by the appointment of associate Ministers, as they are termed in the Morshead report, are arguments of convenience. It is convenient to advance those arguments and say, “This is the reason why we cannot accept the recommendation of the committee in this matter “. In my view, the real reasons are human, and perfectly understandable. The recommendation is not acceptable because particular people do not want it to be adopted. Until those people are convinced that the integration process will benefit Australia, its ultimate fulfilment will not be achieved, and it will remain uncompleted.

We have heard sufficient reference already to inter-service rivalries. I think it is understood that it is inevitable, as the honorable member for Indi has said, that a chief of staff will tend to battle for his own service rather than admit that another service may, for national reasons, have a greater claim on the limited funds available. I am prepared to say that I can understand that, as the Prime Minister has said, the civilian control should be very clear. I can understand the difficulties associated with the concept that one particular military officer should be given greater authority than has ever before been held by an Australian. However, 1 believe that in the interests of efficiency we must grow up to the stage where we can delegate authority to a person who is capable of accepting the responsibilities associated with the position of a commander-in-chief. 1 turn now to the position of chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. Again, this position will be similar to that of the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, lt is obvious that the integration process will continue and that the Government feels that there should be someone who will tend to bring the services towards integration in due course. Whatever happens, the military plan will inevitably be more expensive than a Cabinet would be prepared to meet. Most military authorities tend to think in terms of possibilities rather than of probabilities and to ask for, say, 30 or 40 aircraft where twenty aircraft might do. They believe that the natural tendency is for the political authorities to endeavour to cut them down. In this community, and in this day and age, it seems to me that the costing problem in defence is so great that one is unable to cope with the problems of balanced forces.

What did the Prime Minister say about the Chiefs of Staff? He said-

We have, therefore, decided that there should be a chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee who is not himself currently one of the Chiefs of Staff. He must, of course, be a military man of eminence and therefore drawn from one of the services.

It is quite obvious that this is a particular jit an. 1 would be prepared to name half a dozen Australians, who, if appointed to this position, would aim by force of their own personality to create a situation in which they would become in fact the dominating authority in the defence organization of Australia, and really begin to function like a commander-in-chief. That is the inevitable trend of events, but, for human reasons, it cannot be acceptable. We, as a Parliament, must recognize that the heads of great public departments do not like to see them amalgamated because that would mean only one senior position instead of three. The tendency, therefore, is to do all that one can to delay the integration process.

It is important for Australia that we should do all that we can to develop our capacity for defence production. I hope that in due course the Minister for Defence Production (Mr. Townley) will be able to tell the Parliament that the United States of America and the United Kingdom realize the significance of building up our potential for the manufacture of weapons for Seato. That would be very much in Australia’s interests and eminently desirable, because Australia will be the main base in any defensive operations waged by Seato. It will be the rear base as it was in World War II., and, as Australia is, geographically, an extremity of Asia, it is to everybody’s advantage to have a concentration of the building up of its manufacturing potential.

Although the Government has put forward arguments quite reasonably, it cannot go all the way along the road of integration at this stage, but in due course integration will come about. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), who spoke last night, advanced an almost unanswerable case for the general concept of the integrated force. The degree to which it should apply to Australia, which at this time has a tiny Navy, a tiny Army and a tiny Air Force, may be a matter for further analysis. However, I believe that the argument that integration leads to greater efficiency is unanswerable and that the plan for an integrated force, by virtue of its ultimate efficiency, will come to fruition in Australia. I support the statement made by the Prime Minister. I believe that it is a step in the right direction. I look forward to further discussions on these matters and hope that when they take place we will be further along the road to integration than we are at present.


.- We are now discusing the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the organization of defence in Australia. I am sure that members of the public, as well as honorable members in this House, feel that the statement was somewhat inadequate. It certainly left honorable members with a great deal of concern, because the Government appears to be bewildered on this question of defence organization. Although we have been discussing this matter substantially for two days, and I presume that the debate is in its last stages, we have not yet heard from the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride). He is the man principally concerned with the administration of defence, but we have not heard a word from him. Furthermore, we have not heard from any of the three service Ministers.

Mr Forbes:

– You will.


– For the time being, I have heard quite sufficient from the honorable gentleman who interjected. I have no wish to be helped by him at this stage. The people feel that something is gravely amiss when those who are responsible for the administration of these matters are either not willing or not competent to justify their administration of the defence departments. The fact that they have not done so calls for some explanation.

This debate would not have taken place if Opposition members had not been persistent in their inquiries about the expenditure of money on defence projects. The Government’s handling of defence expenditure has given rise to a great deal of comment, because we do not seem to have obtained the results that could have been obtained for the money that has been expended. As honorable members on this side of the House have already said, a total sum of between £1,200,000,000 and £1,300,000,000 has been spent on defence since the advent of the present Government. After the expenditure of that tremendous sum one would expect some tangible evidence that would give the community confidence that we were receiving value for the money; but the fact is that, insofar as we are able to check on what the country has received in return for all that money, we are forced to question the ability of the Government to give us an effective defence system that will afford the adequate protection that the people have a right to expect.

I happen to be one of those members of this Parliament who had some experience during the last war as Ministers in a war cabinet, and I know something of the provision, or lack of provision, for defence that characterized the predecessors of the Curtin Labour Government. 1 had the opportunity to see the inadequacies that marked every phase of our essential defence requirements. That was a feature of the record of the anti-Labour government which was in office at the beginning of World War II. - a government of the same political complexion as the present Government. Members on the Government side of the House towards the end of that government’s regime were so disturbed by the defence position that they transferred their allegiance from the Government to Mr. Curtin and the Labour party. Labour, although it was in a minority in both Houses of the Parliament was required to accept the responsibility of carrying on the war and organizing a full, all-out effort for Australia’s defence, so as to preserve our way of life. The anti-Labour government had shown itself totally incapable of meeting the responsibilities of a war-time government, and it crumbled as a result of its own ineptitude. The anti-Labour parties in office were so bewildered about defence that some of their members indicated their grave concern over the position by transferring their allegiance to the Labour government which came into office and worked for the preservation of Australia from its enemies.

So I say that the Labour party has no reason to apologize to anybody for the part it has played in the defence of Australia and in providing the basic defence organization necessary to preserve our way of life.

We, as the National Parliament, have a right to an accounting by the Government for the expenditure on defence of the huge sums I have mentioned. In budget session after budget session we have asked for some concrete evidence that the country has had value for its money, but we have received nothing in the nature of an adequate reply. We are also given no information as to how far this country has gone with the introduction of new methods into the general organization of the defence departments, consequent upon the adoption of more modern weapons and the application o£ science to war. No responsible Minister has told us anything about the latest developments in guided missiles and other forms of scientific warfare which loom solarge in the world military picture to-day. We are entitled to hear something of those matters. There is more to defence nowadays than conventionally-armed military, naval and air forces.

As a matter of Government defence policy, our armed forces are to use a newrifle of American pattern instead of the former British-pattern rifle. It is remarkable that while we are tooling up to produce this new rifle in order to comply, so it is said, with the standards used on the other side of the Pacific, the American army has on the drawing boards a rifle of a later model which is to be used by the American forces. So the rifle that we are tooling up to produce will most likely be, by the time it is in production, different from the rifle in use by the American forces. I understand that it will use the same kind of ammunition.

Mr Bowden:

– Well, that is an important consideration.


– It is an important consideration, but it is not all that has to be considered. If the American technical and defence experts, and the American Government, deem it essential to modernize the rifle used by the American armed forces, there must be some advantage in that modernization. Why should the men who will be called upon to defend the country not have the very best equipment available? I make no excuse for directing the attention of the Government and of the the country to this kind of deficiency in Australia’s present defence policy, to this kind of strange procedure which the Government is unable to explain satisfactorily. We are, in effect, to equip our forces with a weapon that is outdated compared with that which will be used by the troops of our allies, beside whom Australian soldiers may have to fight. I do not want to see Australian servicemen in a position, as regards equipment, inferior to that of the servicemen of any of our allies alongside whom they may have to fight in defence of the free world and its way of life.

I suggest that the Government should make a much more adequate statement on defence. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) stated in a very thoughtful speech that this was a half-way house measure. It is a remarkable fact that this Government has been in office for almost nine years and cannot produce anything more effective than a half-statement. It should have been able to present to the House a firm defence policy. Its record has been such that the nation cannot feel confident in the competence of the Government to undertake its responsibilities. When Mr. John Curtin took up the leadership of the Labour government early in World War II., he indicated clearly the condition in which he found our defences. He was extremely critical of the unfortunate situation in which our defences were placed. North of Brisbane, there was practically no defence at all. Practically no preparations had been made north of Newcastle; and Brisbane was wide open. The most important strategic area in Australia was that between Newcastle and Port Kembla, because many heavy industries were situated there. If they had been denied to us, supplies of vital materials would have been unobtainable.

I express my deep concern at the failure of the Government to give the House a more adequate explanation of its defence plans. I am disappointed that the Government cannot show more for the expenditure of between £1,200,000,000 and £1,300,000,000 on defence in the eight or nine years it has been in office. Defence is essential to the security of the nation, and members of the Opposition make no excuse for having repeatedly demanded a statement on defence more adequate than any that has been presented to us by this Government. The Government has failed to provide the nation with defences which would enable us to meet any threat of war.


.- The House is debating a statement which was presented to it by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). In my opinion, it was not intended to be a complete statement of defence policy but rather an explanation of a re-arrangement of administration within various departments associated with defence. The honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin), who has just concluded his speech, told the House that he wanted to ascertain the Government’s defence policy. He criticized the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) and service Ministers for not having taken part so far in this debate. Every honorable member knows, as does the honorable member for Bonython, that when the debate draws towards a close to-morrow or next week, the Minister for Defence will be in his place and quite capable of looking after himself.

The honorable member for Bonython referred to the administration of the Labour government during the early days of World War II. He was a member of the Government of the day led by Mr. John Curtin, but to-night he denied his leader of that time. Mr. Curtin eulogized the Menzies Government which had preceded him in office for the foundations of the war effort that had been laid by it. The Labour government, which the honorable member for Bonython supported, took office about 18th October, 1941. I recall that I was wearing a uniform at the time, and I heard the honorable member put over a very pathetic speech in Collins-street, Melbourne. The point is that the Labour government took office in 1941. Before it had time to look around, the United States of America was in the war. That is where our supplies came from, and thank God they did. Everybody who has approached this matter in a sane and reasonable way will declare quite honestly that the Government which was in office in early 1941 laid solid foundations for our defence programme upon which an edifice was built later. That edifice was built with the assistance of a great nation on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. In the face of history, the honorable member for Bonython has made many wild statements to-night, and in doing so he denied his leader of that day.

The same honorable member discussed military equipment. He talked about a rifle that has been manufactured. Through you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, I ask the honorable member what he knows about the FN rifle. When I tried to elicit some information from him, by way of interjection, about the name of some of this equipment, he dodged the issue. It is very obvious that he knows very little about the manufacture and use of rifles. The main thing is to get a good one, and the rifle that is already being manufactured in Australia will take the same ammunition as the rifle with which the American forces are armed. The difference in the ammunition that was used by the Allies was one of the tragedies of World War II. If the ammunition that is used is interchangeable and supplies can be drawn from any source, the type of rifle does not matter quite so much.

I am astonished that the honorable member should rise in this House and ridicule the possibility, if I may put it that way, of Australian craftsmen manufacturing a good weapon. They did so during World War II. Through their own ingenuity and craftsmanship they brought into production the Owen gun which proved a most efficient weapon. Yet, the honorable member for Bonython would decry the ability of our workmen to produce a good rifle.

The honorable member knows very well that the Prime Minister in his statement on defence last year said definitely that while it may be undesirable and may seem improper to draw away from the United Kingdom in respect of the co-ordination of our services, it was advisable that we should work with the American forces. I do not want to quote all that he said but he recommended that we should standardize, as far as possible, with the Americans. In his statement of April last year he said -

II is for this reason that, as I will point out, we have decided both in aircraft, in artillery, and in small arms, to fit ourselves for close cooperation with the United States in the South-East Asian area.

Any honorable gentleman who takes an interest in this matter, or any country that takes an interest in it, knows full well that governments are continually reviewing their defence programmes. Because the Prime Minister made a statement to this Parliament the other day, as a result of the Morshead inquiry into the functioning of the Service departments, the Opposition has taken the opportunity to criticize what has been done by the Government in respect of defence, and a very sad job the Opposition has made of that criticism so far.

Before I deal with that aspect I want to say through you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, to honorable members opposite that they ought to get together sometime in order to put up a co-ordinated policy. We all recall the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) saying the other day that this Government should follow along the lines taken by the United Kingdom. He went so far as to read a report published by the United Kingdom Minister for Defence, Mr. Duncan Sandys. Any one would have thought that that was to be the policy of the Australian Labour party, but, bless my heart and soul, last night the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) had this to say -

Our problems are completely dissimilar from, those of the United Kingdom and the United States of America. It is obvious that a country such as the United Kingdom, with constant commitments overseas of great bodies of troops and the naval and air force personnel that go with them, faces different problems from ours.

Yet the honorable member’s Leader, replying to the Prime Minister the other day, said that we should follow the policy of the United Kingdom! He quoted, as every one will recall, from the White Paper issued by Mr. Duncan Sandys, and told us that the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) should look after this, that and something else.

That proves that the gentlemen of the Opposition have not yet made up their minds on defence. They never have made up their minds, and they never will make up their minds. When they were in government during the war, their minds were made up for them by the American forces, not by the ministers who held office at that time. From 1939 to 1945 I had some association with the use of armaments and so forth. During the course of this debate we have heard questions from the Leader of the Opposition and some of those who sit behind him. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) asked what this Government had done with the £1.500,000,000 it had spent on defence. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) to-night said the figure was £1.300.000,000. and I think somebody else said it was £1,200.000,000. So, they have not even got the figure straight. It would appear from the words uttered by the gentlemen of the Opposition that despite what we have done they are not prepared to admit that anything has been done.

Do they realize what has been achieved by the national service training scheme, the inauguration of which they delayed for nine months until early 1951, in spite of the fact that the Prime Ministers of all the Western democracies were having their people prepare their defences within three years or risk an attack from the Soviet? At that time, when we really had a job to do - and thank goodness we were able to do it - the members of the Opposition held up for nine months the institution of national service training. Then they were told by their outside junta that they had to support the scheme, and they came in here like a lot of whipped dogs and let the measure go through. Despite that delay, since the inception of national service training, 172,000 boys have been trained for the Army, 22,000 for the Air Force, and 6,959 for the Navy.


– Why did you cut it back?


– Despite the cutting back referred to by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, a total of 201,000 boys are at least partially trained, so that in the event of an emergency they can take up arms and defend themselves and others too.

From the way that members of the Opposition talk, it would appear possible to train these youths without the expenditure of money. Did honorable members opposite want these boys to do national service training without receiving any wages? And what do they think the instructors would do? Did the trainees not need equipment, quartering, food and clothes? These are invisible expenditures, the results of which are not discernible to the ordinary individual. A tremendous amount of equipment is necessary- In the Air Force, aircraft are required, and in the Navy ships are required. The honorable member for Grayndler said that the whole of our Navy was in moth-balls. We still have thirteen vessels in commission and when a vessel is in commission it is fully manned, in operational order, and usually is somewhere out on the high seas, using up all sorts of stores. Apart from those vessels, we have sea-air rescue craft, tugs, lighters, floating docks, and so forth. Yet these gentlemen say that we have nothing! At times throughout their discourses one can discern a slighting reference to some of the people who are doing this job. Let them have a look at the

Woomera establishment. Who invented the Jindivik?

Mr Russell:

– Why do you not go to



– I went there with you.


– Who started it?


– I will not take away from the Australian Labour party one atom of credit for starting the establishment; but who carried it on and made a job of it? When the Labour party was in office, its members were undecided, and only the efforts of their Prime Minister persuaded them to go ahead. They used to sit on these seats, wondering what would happen to a few blacks. They were in a state of jitters until the Prime Minister put them through the drill. Whilst I will not take away from them one bit of credit for starting the establishment at Woomera, they have vo give us credit for the job we have done since. The rest of the world is prepared to give credit to the inventors of the Jindivik pilotless aircraft. Apart from the Jindivik, there are now two-engined and even four-engined pilotless aircraft. lt would pay some of the critics opposite to take the advice given to me by the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Russell) and see what is being done at Woomera.

At times we are asked why we are not being modern and developing strength in nuclear warfare. Let these critics have a look at what has been done at Maralinga. Do they think that because the United Kingdom Government sends scientists and other experts out here to test nuclear bombs, this Government and our people have not made some contribution? Of course, they have made a contribution. We have a staff at Maralinga. But these are things that are not easily seen. The honorable member for Grayndler, the funny man from “ Victoria and her Hussar “. the rubber man - “ dilly-dally “. as he has been called - reads from the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. I often wonder whether the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ writers really knew what they were writing about or whether they were getting rid of some hatred against this Government that was engendered in their make-up because they may have slipped up on something in about 1950.

This Government can be proud of what it has done. I am nut saying that it has done everything that could have been done. Circumstances alter cases. This Government has at least kept its defence policy under review, and the Prime Minister’s statement the other night was an indication of a further move to increase the efficiency of the service departments.

The success of the policy announced by the Prime Minister will rest on the choice of the man to be chairman of the ChiefsofStaff Committee. I sincerely hope that the Government will not pick a man because he has, in addition to a good war record, some social advantage. For this job we want a forthright individual who is not afraid to speak his mind and convey his opinions to the Minister for Defence. Unfortunately - and I have seen it happen in the services - a man who is forthright and prepared to speak his mind no matter what happens, is sometimes kept out of the picture because he has not the proper social atmosphere or background. We must get rid of that idea. We want somebody who can produce the goods and it matters not whether he has graduated from ploughman to successful military man. He is the man we want, somebody who has the intestinal fortitude not only to tell the Chiefs oi Staff what is in his mind, but also to convey his decisions to the Minister for Defence with the greatest emphasis. The policy announced by the Prime Minister is a move in the right direction. Honorable members on this side of the House support it, but Opposition members are making a poor job of their criticism of the policy. They are harping on 1938 and 1941 with the same old story of what the Labour Government did for Australia. I give the Labour party all the credit that is due to it for the job it did when it was in office, but it must always remember that its leader of that day, Mr. Curtin, eulogized the preceding government for the foundations it had laid. Honorable members opposite must also remember that they had the backing of the great United States of America in putting the buildings on the foundations that had been laid.

Melbourne Ports

– Although this debate is primarily concerned with defence organization, it is not possible in my view to sever the question of organization from the vast expenditures that are associated with defence. The organization required to conduct a corner store is different from that needed to organize Australia’s defence. I should like to put on record for the benefit of the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) just what the actual expenditure by this Government has been. I am quoting the defence statistics that were tabled in October last by the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) when the Estimates were being considered. These statistics show that from 1950-51 to 1956-57 the present Government spent the vast sum of £1,200,000,000, and that it plans to spend during 1957-58, nearly nine months of which have gone, another £190,000,000. So, I would suggest that if the Government’s programme is proceeding according to plan, by now its total expenditure on defence during its term of office will be about £1,300,000,000. To indicate that there is not much of this sum left in tangible defences, I quote again the statement of the Minister for Defence during the debate on the Estimates. He said -

The direct cost of maintaining these forces-

That is, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force - including pay and other maintenance items has absorbed over £745,000,000 or 62 per cent, of the total defence expenditure of £1,200,000,000 since 1950-51. Another £232,000,000 or 19 per cent, of the total expenditure has been expended on ships, aircraft, weapons and other equipment.

So, as a matter of reality, at the present moment all that remains of this vast expenditure of £1,200,000,000, measured in terms of the sort of things that are supposed to deter an enemy - aircraft, and other military and naval equipment - is £232,000.000. Honorable members on this side of the House have, for the last four years, during the debate on the Estimates, indicated that too much of the defence expenditure has been allocated to things that could be called expendable, compared with the more realistic things that make up our defence That point, after having been made year after year, was belatedly recognized by the Government. In one of his many statements since October, 1956, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) told the House that never in the history of Australia had our defences been better. The next day he told us that there was to be a top-to-toe revision, and on 4th April, 1957 - not quite twelve months ago - he made another statement, during the course of which he said -

We have for some time been greatly disturbed by the fact that an undue proportion of our annual expenditure has been laid out upon the maintenance of existing forces, the bulk of whom are only partially trained, while too small a proportion oi our expenditure has been available for equipment.

That is what the Prime Minister said on 4th April, 1957 - a belated recognition after years of criticism in this Parliament by the Opposition, and subsequently outside the Parliament by the press, because the pres*. only got on to this about twelve months after the Labour party had already been critical of it. Of course, the press now claims the credit for the panic that has been caused with regard to defence organization. If anything called for a reorganization of our defence, it was that belated recognition in this Parliament of maldistribution between the various heads of defence expenditure, involving over a period of six years this vast sum of £1,200,000,000, and this year a further £190,000,000.

What does the statement of the Prime Minister bring forth so far as defence reorganization is concerned? I have read this statement several times, and although I am trying to be fair about the position as it exists, it seems to me that all that is being done is to add to the three Chiefs of Staff another gentleman who is to be the chief ot the Chiefs of Staff. I would suggest that something more fundamental than that is required. I doubt whether the three gentlemen who are to remain as the Chiefs of Staff will be very enamoured of someone who is either brought out of retirement or promoted from the lower ranks to oversee them. I doubt whether that will make for better relations in our defence organization. The purpose presumably is to give the Minister for Defence a better link with the Chiefs of Staff. The few words of the Prime Minister with which I can agree are those he borrowed from the President of the United States of America, a country which, after all, has a constitutional system different from ours. The Prime Minister quoted the President’s words, and I echo them with approval -

One requirement of military organization is a clear subordination of the military services to duly constituted civilian authority. This control must be real, not merely on the surface.

I agree with that, and the Labour party agrees that ultimately it is Parliament that is responsible for defence organization, through a Minister or a series of Ministers, who are answerable for the conduct of the various channels of defence organization. Ours, after all, is a parliamentary system of government and we must have someone who can be blamed for anything that goes wrong. Under our system it is not possible to segregate policy for which the Government is responsible, from mistakes. The Government must be responsible for mistakes. It cannot lay them on the shoulders of the Chiefs of Staff and say that they are not matters of policy but matters of daytoday administration. Our system does not work that way. It is a system of responsible government. Apparently, mistakes have been made in the present set-up, and for once the Prime Minister has been candid, although it is only an overtone so far as he is concerned. On page 6 of his statement this appears -

We are, like the committee, and greatly assisted by it-

Of course, the Opposition has not been given the opportunity of perusing the report of the Morshead committee, I suggest for the very reason that it contains very deep criticism of the defence organization as it exists in Australia at the moment. The Prime Minister went on - convinced that the present administrative structure in Defence needs candid examination and, in important respects material improvement.

I repeat those last few words -

It needs candid examination and, in important respects material improvement.

What “ candid examination “ and what “ material improvement “ are involved in the statement which is now before us? If we strip it down to a matter of organization and administration - which it is - all that is to be inserted into the present structure is a new person to be called a chairman or, as I prefer to call him, a chief of the Chiefs of Staff. Will this lead to “ candid examination “ and “ material improvement “ in the defence organization of Australia? I very much doubt it. I suggest that a much more fundamental examination has to be made by the Government of this vast matter, particularly because of its implications on the whole economic life of the Australian community. If, over the past, we have not had value for our money - in other words, more money has- been devoted to defence than ought to have been in terms of performance, or performance should have been greater and the amount should have gone further - this Government is answerable because the people of Australia have suffered in other directions as a consequence. Industry has been wasting its activity and those who yearn for social improvement have been denied it for no good reason at all.

This Government is answerable, and 1 say again that it cannot sever policy from mistakes. If mistakes are made - and unfortunately it is not only in the field of defence that they have been made - this Government is answerable to the people of Australia. The sooner the people of Australia are given an opportunity to say whether they are satisfied that all that is wrong with our defence organization is that a chief of the Chiefs of Staff is needed, the better it will be for the Australian community.


.- I sincerely believe that two of the most important subjects which this Parliament can debate are defence and external affairs. I believe that, in the final analysis, they are more important than even financial policy because if, in times of emergency, our defence and external affairs policies fail us, then really nothing else matters. I say this because I believe that we ought to debate external affairs and defence on a non-party basis. Although that may be a pious hope, I am certain that it should be the case. We should at least try in these major matters of defence and external affairs to see what we can contribute to the Parliament and, through it, to the country. A number of speeches, some on the Opposition side and some on this side, have been made with that aim in view. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) on the Opposition side and the honorable members for Barker (Mr. Forbes), Indi (Mr. Bostock) and St. George (Mr. Graham) and others on this side have all endeavoured to put their thoughts before this House on that plane.

I am sick and tired of this eternal business of harking back to what happened before World War I. and then traversing events since that time. That sort of thing does not contribute one single iota to the deliberations of this Parliament. What we ought to be concerned about is the defence of to-day and, as far as we can assess them, what will be the needs for defence in the future. What has happened in preceding years does not have any particular relevance if we are prepared to approach this problem on that basis.

I want to turn directly to the Morshead report, because that is exactly what we are supposed to be debating. At the outset I want to say that 1 am not impressed with some of the arguments advanced in the case put forward by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). One of these in particular, is that some of the recommendations of the committee are not acceptable because they do not conform to the practice in either the United Kingdom or the United States of America. Why I do not accept that as necessarily being a criterion on which to base an assessment of what the Morshead committee put forward is that Australia’s problems are essentially different from those of the United States of America or the United Kingdom. Our forces are quite small. We have a very large country, and our forces when compared with the American or United Kingdom forces are literally quite insignificant. We must admit that, if we want to be honest and frank about the matter. We are also geographically isolated and, as a result, are remote from our allies. The argument about practice in the United Kingdom and the United States of America being different from that suggested in the report does not appeal to me very much. What we must seek to do is obvious, that is to find how to get the maximum effectiveness out of the limited forces and resources we have.

I believe that under the existing set-up we are not getting that. Other honorable members have referred to the fact - and everybody knows that it is an open secret - that, for example, when the Chiefs of Staff meet each year to decide what they will ask as their respective allocations from the defence vote, something of a kind of bargain sale goes on. I am not saying that in a derogatory way, but it does come to that because concessions are made between one and another in order that each of them may get for his particular service what he wants. As has been said, they would not be proper Chiefs of Staff if they did not take that attitude.


– Shocking!


– It is shocking, but that sort of practice has gone on under all governments including this one, and this is the first time an attempt has been made to change that practice.

Dr Evatt:

– Do not spoil what you have said so far by making such a remark.


– I think it is a reasonable statement to make. That sort of thing has happened over the years because each of the services has been kept in a watertight compartment. What some of us envisage - the honorable member for Indi has been the greatest protagonist of this proposal, and many of us are of the same mind - is that there should be some kind of overall commander in chief with aides - such as the Chiefs of Staff, in the capacity of advisory officers to him, representing the land, sea and air arms of the forces.

Although the Government has not seen fit to go as far as that, it proposes to appoint a chairman of the Chiefs of Staff and for that I commend the Government, because that is an important step in that particular direction. Let me refer to what the Prime Minister outlined as the functions of the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff, so that there will be no further misunderstanding, as there appears to have been in the minds of some who have previously spoken. The Prime Minister said that the duties of the chairman will be -

  1. to convene meetings of the Chiefs of Staff;
  2. arrange the agenda in consultation;
  3. aim at securing comprehensive decisions and appreciations;
  4. give advice to the Minister and Department and, with the Chiefs of Staff, attend and take part in meetings of the Defence Committee; and
  5. act as our military liaison officer on Seato, Anzus and Anzam.

There has been considerable discussion on the question of integration as a whole. I think we should get a little more clearly in our minds what is meant by “ integration “. I think that what most of us have been aiming at in this House and in discussions among ourselves is integration at the top level. It is not a question of going down through the whole gamut of command, from the top flight to the lowliest person. It is a question of getting integration at the top level. Anybody who knows anything about the services knows that each unit, whether it be a squadron, a wing or a group, is self-contained and quite capable of looking after its own allotted tasks.

The important factor is integration at the top in order to ensure that there is no form of wastage. I submit that that is the main proposition we are endeavouring to have put forward. A classic illustration of the lack of integration is provided by the American satellite programme in which there has been the greatest confusion possible. The programme was cut up amongst various departments between which there was no cohesion. The net result was that the United States of America was many yards behind the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. That was purely because there was no integration on the top level. Services and departments were working in parallel instead of dovetailing together in an integrated fashion.

An argument has been put forward that integration is not acceptable in the general sense because if we integrated our forces at the top level it would not be easy for us to comply with our obligations to Seato. The argument is that an integrated force would make it difficult to work out what we would have to commit ourselves to when we were asked to do it. I submit that that is utter nonsense. It would only be necessary to detach from the integrated force the requirement that we were asked to provide. The remainder of the force would carry on in the normal fashion with the integration at the top.

I should like to repeat the statement of Field-Marshal Montgomery which was quoted by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). It does bear repetition. In 1955 Field-Marshal Montgomery said: -

Obviously, we cannot go over to one service, but we might well introduce such a close integration between the three services that the final step could be taken without confusion if it was ever decided it was necessary. An essential step would be gradually to produce a new type of senior officer who was trained to be completely interservice from his earliest days. This could not be done unless we combine the service cadet colleges, the staff colleges, and so on. I consider that this might well be done now.

As a very humble admirer of that gentleman, I entirely agree with him.

There are many other fields in which integration has tremendous possibilities. In the overall field of transport, for instance, integration would save a considerable amount of money. Integration could also be applied to the medical system which was referred to, I think, by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes). A policy of integration, therefore, would, I believe, offer a most important charter to any .government more effectively to use its forces and save money.


– Have you seen the Morshead report?


– Opposition members have asked why we have not seen the Morshead report. I am prepared to accept, reluctantly, that as this report was asked for by Cabinet and was furnished to the Cabinet, it is for the Cabinet to decide whether or not it should be presented to the Parliament. 1 do not accept the idea that we should necessarily abandon any idea of having associate Ministers, or assistant Ministers or whatever honorable members like to call them. The Prime Minister has said that, in his view, the appointment of such a Minister would be unconstitutional. The Leader of the Opposition has taken a different viewpoint. I am not qualified to say who is right, but we should remember that the Constitution can be altered. A Constitution Review Committee is in existence and could deal with this very problem. Indeed, I suspect that it might already be dealing with it.

Therefore, I do not think that it is a valid argument to say that because we believe the appointment of associate Ministers to be unconstitutional, we must abandon the idea entirely. I do see some difficulties as clearly outlined by the Prime Minister when he referred to the “ horizontal” and “vertical” planes, but here again I do not believe them to be insuperable. I believe that such difficulties could be overcome if we wished to overcome them. I believe that one appointment that might be made is that of an assistant Minister for civil defence. Civil defence is sufficiently important to warrant such an appointment.

I now want to return to one or two small matters. The major field has already been covered adequately. I agree that the decision to amalgamate the departments of Supply and Defence Production was a sound one, and an obvious one that should have been taken before. Mildly disagreeing with my colleague, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock), I believe that the fact that the paramount authority of the Minister for Defence has been put beyond doubt is a welcome step. It is a very sound move. Finally, the creation of the position of Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee is a significant step forward, but I am not satisfied that that step goes far enough. Hints have been given by Ministers that the door is still open for further progress. I sincerely hope that this will be the case.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Thompson) adjourned.

page 725


Hire Purchase - Australian Publicity Over seas - World Fair at Brussels- Tariff Board - Shipbuilding - Films - Government Publications - Empire Games - Repatriation - Department of Customs and Excise.

Motion (by Mr. Downer) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.


– I want to draw attention once again to the position that is operating in this country in connexion with hire purchase. I do not know how much longer we on this side of the Parliament will have to raise this matter without getting some statement from the responsible Minister as to what the Government intends to do about the matter. I do not think there is any doubt about the constitutional position - that the Commonwealth has no power to deal with the matter in this Parliament. But, surely to goodness the Government could convene a conference of State Premiers for the purpose of obtaining some uniform action by the various State parliaments.

Mr Osborne:

– Was this not discussed at the Premiers’ conference once?


– It may have been. But I am concerned that nothing has been done.

Mr Osborne:

– Whose fault is that?


– It is the fault of this Government and of the Premiers, jointly. This Government is the only government that can initiate a conference of this kind. No one Premier can call on the others to attend such a conference. I think the Government ought to get on to the job of calling the Premiers together in order to see whether the Premiers will delegate their powers to the Commonwealth or, alternatively, agree to pass some legislation of a uniform character so that hire-purchase companies will not be able to move out of one State that does attempt to legislate in this field and go into States in which the field remains open for them to charge whatever they wish.

Mr Bury:

– The States have been asked to confer.


– They have been asked, but they have done nothing about it. The Government seems to do no more than make a casual request so that it will be able to say that the request has been made. Beyond making the casual request, and then, seemingly, forgetting all about the matter, the Government does nothing, although, in an important matter such as this, it should give a lead.

Let me give another example. If enough of these cases are drummed into the skulls of Ministers of this Government, ultimately they must surely recognize the importance of tackling the problem. I shall cite a case the particulars of which I am prepared to give to any honorable member who is sufficiently interested, or who doubts the accuracy of my statements. This case cropped up in Adelaide during the present week. Listen to the particulars. An exserviceman desired to buy a wood and iron house at Glanville for £1,050. He wanted to borrow £650 from the National Bank of Australasia, and was told that the bank did not have money available for this kind of borrowing. He was told, however, that he should go to the Custom Credit Corporation, which company, incidentally, is 40 per cent. controlled by the National Bank. He approached the Custom Credit Corporation and was told that he could borrow £650 on certain conditions. First, there was to be a procuration fee of £38. The company made this charge merely for saying whether or not it would agree to the proposition. In this case, it charged £38 to say “ Yes “. The £38 was then added to the loan of £650, making a total of £688. The company then told this man, who wanted the money to buy a house to live in, that he would be required to pay interest at the flat rate of 8 per cent. on £688 for five years. This amount of interest was calculated at £275, making a total amount of £963, repayable on a loan of £650.

The repayments had to be made at the rate of £16 a month, or nearly £4 a week, with no adjustment of interest whatsoever. Until the very last of the 60 months of the five-year term this man would still be required to pay interest at a flat rate of 8 per cent. on the original £688, although by that time the debt would have been reduced to £16.

But this is not the worst feature of the case. These companies are getting worse. Until recently they were prepared to accept these exorbitant rates of interest and let it go at that. Now they go one step further. This is a new racket. These hirepurchase companies now provide that the borrower must take out insurance with insurance companies with which they are connected. The man involved in the case I have mentioned was told that he would have to pay premiums of £8 a year to the National and General Insurance Company, to insure his monthly payments against death, accident or illness, and that, in the case of accident and illness the insurance would commence fourteen days after the issue of a doctor’s certificate and would continue only for so long as he was unable to work as a result of the disablement.

Mr Curtin:

– Who owns the insurance company?


– The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith, taking his usual keen interest in debates, asks who owns the insurance company. The reply is rather interesting. The insurance company is controlled by the Custom Credit Corporation, which means that it is indirectly controlled by the National Bank of Australasia.

How much longer does this Government intend to continue with this nonsense and pretence about the private banks doing the right thing by the people of this Commonwealth? How many more of these sordid cases - and that is the word for them, because the interest rates being charged make these cases completely disgusting - must we bring to the notice of the Parliament before we can succeed in stirring the Government into action and persuading it to make some genuine effort to obtain the co-operation of the State governments in curbing the terrible racket that is being carried on by finance companies?

Mr Osborne:

– Has the honorable member spoken to Mr. Cahill about this matter?


– I have spoken to him, and I find that he is the only State Premier who has taken any steps to try to exercise effective controls over hire-purchase charges. But Mr. Cahill informed me that Mr. Playford had refused point blank to join with him, and that Mr. Bolte had also refused to join with him. He said that he had since discovered that the Liberal-Country party Government of Queensland also refuses to co-operate in bringing down uniform legislation to fix maximum charges. Consequently, Mr. Cahill said that he had been compelled to fix a maximum rate that was of very little advantage to anybody, and was in some cases even higher than the maximum charges already being made. This was due entirely to the fact that the various Liberal Premiers had refused to pass legislation complementary to that passed in New South Wales.


.- I should like to take this opportunity to say a few words on the matter of Australian publicity overseas. It would appear that insufficient attention is being given to this matter and that valuable opportunities of publicizing our country to the full are being lost. It is difficult to say what department is responsible for this, but I think that honorable members generally will agree when I say that governments all over the world to-day are reaching across state boundaries with appeals directed to peoples of other nations. Call it propaganda, call it public relations, call it information service, call it what you will, but the plain fact is that dozens of countries are, in some way or another, making direct appeals to the Australian people. We are not making the same kind of appeals overseas. Where .an appeal is being made, it lacks the strength, the skill and the conviction that I believe are needed. I think you will agree, Mr. Speaker, that these qualities are imperative if we are to bring Australia before the eyes of the world.

Two examples of our short-comings in this direction have been reported within the last few days. Possibly honorable members have heard of the first of them. In London, in circumstances which are far from clear, a film entitled “This Land was Theirs” is currently being shown. It is reported that the film was made in co-operation with Federal and State governments. To speak bluntly, it appears to me, from what I have read, to be a real shocker. It is reported that the subjects covered in the film include drought-killed stock, desert wastes, floods, bush-fires and all the other cheap dramatic aspects of death and destruction. These things are shown, apparently, without any attempt to give the reverse side of the coin - the constant devoted work by thousands of people to overcome natural obstacles, to build and not destroy, to prevent bush-fires - with conspicuous success - and to control floods.

Just what are the circumstances in which this strange blunder - and I believe it is a blunder - was allowed to be perpetrated I do not know, but whatever they were, the effect is very clear. Australia is branded once again as a land of desert wastes - hopeless, cruel and overwhelming. It is obvious that a film of this kind will find its way around the counties of England, because the producers apparently are very proud of it. It is a fine piece of photographic work. I do not think one needs any imagination to realize the effect it will have on intending British immigrants.

There is another matter to which I also wish to make reference. I refer to the World Fair at Brussels. Those who have attended a World Fair will appreciate the publicity value that such events can have. As we can imagine, and as we have read in the press, vast sums of money have been lavished on wonderful and ingenious buildings constructed at the site of the fair. I understand that it is expected that about 35,000,000 people will attend at some time or other. Some of the smallest countries will be represented, as well as all the major countries. Even Cambodia, in South-East Asia, is to be represented at this world event, but Australia is not. It is a question of whether, in these days, we can afford not to be represented. Once again, the reason for the blunder is not clear. But I think that the result will be very clear: Australia will go by default if it is not represented at international fairs of this kind.

We must not expect the world to take us at the old value of the days when we were represented largely by illustrations of an emu or a kangaroo, or something of the sort, and by films such as “ The Overlanders “. The plain fact of the matter is that Australia is losing in this war of ideas that is going on all over the world. Under the rules of the game that have been worked out overseas, the Government must give a lead if we are to regain the ground that we have lost. We must match the excellence of our diplomatic representation with better trade information, publicity, and advertising, that will have real power to penetrate overseas markets. For Heaven’s sake, let us not be sweet-talked into believing that we are already doing well. The release of the disastrous film that I have mentioned, and the absence of the Australian flag from the World Fair at Brussels, prove that we are not doing well in all these matters, although we are sometimes inclined to think that we are doing well.


.- I desire to raise again the matter that I raised on 19th March - the delays and disagreements that have taken place in the functioning of the Tariff Board. On 13th March, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) attacked Mr. Albert Date, a member of the Tariff Board:

Mr Cleaver:

– Not without justification.


– That remains to be seen. The Minister made his attack under privilege, and it was broadcast throughout Australia and fully reported by the press. He has now received from Mr. Date a telegram which states, among other things, that the Minister’s attack had serious consequences for Mr. Date and his family. The Minister’s attitude in making that attack contrasts strangely with the attitude taken, apparently in all sincerity, by certain Government supporters who recently have questioned attacks upon the character and reputation of members of this House. This is an even worse case, because it involves an attack upon a citizen outside this House who has no capacity to defend himself here.

On the same date - 13th March - the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) attacked Mr. Date in the Senate in relation to this matter. On 19th March, I defended the position that Mr. Date had taken up, and put in his defence a number of relevant matters which were not reported in the press, and have not been publicly mentioned. I submit that the Minister has made no adequate reply to that defence. All he did was to ask me to point out one instance in which relevant material had been excluded from a Tariff Board Report. I had already done so, and I do no more now than refer him to my remarks during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House on 19th March, in which I pointed out that there had been excluded from a report of the Tariff Board references to the public transcript of the proceedings at the hearing concerning Euclid earth scrapers, and, in particular, references to the right of a member of the Tariff Board to have officers of the Department of Trade called to give evidence.

The question that I ask now is: Why did the Minister make this long and dramatic statement on 13th March in relation to a situation that had developed over twelve or eighteen months? In particular, the Minister gave colour to his statement by dealing with a letter that Mr. Date had written in relation to personal expenses of £1,000. On 13 th March, the Minister said, in reference to that letter -

As late as yesterday I received a letter from Mr. Date-

The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that the letter was received by the Department of Trade, not as late as 12th March, but a month before. The letter was sent after a discussion between Mr. Date and Dr. Westerman, the present chairman of the Tariff Board, who agreed to its being sent, and, so far as I can see, with its contents. The expression “ as late as yesterday “ was intended to justify the Minister’s sudden change of face. He said himself - and I agree with him - that his attitude had been sympathetic up to that point. There is still no answer to the question: Why did the Minister take no action in this matter over a period of between twelve and eighteen months, and then, on 13th March, come out with a personal attack upon Mr. Date made under privilege? I suggest that the reason was that he could not very well disturb the state of affairs in the Tariff Board before, and it may be that he was not prepared to take on the previous chairman of the board in the settlement of the issues that have arisen.

I suggest that two propositions may be stated in relation to Mr. Date’s position, which is nothing more than a symptom of a situation which the Minister, for reasons that he may very well have had - reasons that he may have considered justified his attitude - was not prepared to disturb. The two propositions to which I desire to direct the attention of the House, and in particular, of the Minister, are: First, the matter of the £1,000 special allowance, which the Minister particularly raised, had been discussed between Mr. Date and Dr. Westerman, the present chairman of the Tariff Board, and could have been resolved by the ordinary departmental routine, just as similar matters are frequently resolved. There was no need for the Minister to try to resolve it by making, in this House, a personal attack upon the person who had submitted the claim for an allowance - an attack that was broadcast throughout Australia to the damage of that gentleman himself and his family. The second proposition that I want to put to the House and the Minister is that Mr. Date had sought certain alterations of Tariff Board procedures in relation to the keeping of minutes, the giving of notice of meetings, and the rights of members to submit minority reports. All these matters have been examined by the House from time to time. The position taken up by Mr. Date was consistent with the correct procedure at public meetings, as set out by such authorities on the subject as the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske), and discussed in this House by him and by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland), particularly when a measure amending the Tariff Board Act was last before the Parliament.

These matters were not taken up when they were raised. They were allowed to fester and develop for twelve months or more. However, I am given to understand that, in the last week or two, these procedures have been brought into line in all respects with the requirements of Mr. Date. So, with respect to the second matter - the question of procedure - the position taken up by Mr. Date has been justified. This is the situation in which Mr. Date now finds himself: First, he has submitted certain claims for expenses, which have not been properly dealt with by the Minister for Trade. Secondly, he has submitted various proposals in relation to the procedure of the Tariff Board, the soundness of which has been confirmed by the fact that the procedures of the board have now been brought into line with them. I suggest, therefore, that the methods adopted by the Minister for Trade are out of all proportion to the present situation. I suggest that he was quite wrong and that he should take into account the wrongness of his action in the future.

I refer in conclusion to the Minister’s own statements on 13th March, when he said that examinations of Tariff Board procedures would take place. These examinations are long overdue; they should have taken place two years ago. We can hope at this stage that, now that the examinations have been decided upon, they will be concluded quickly, as will the review of the Tariff Board Act promised by the Minister. He said that this review could lead to a recommendation to the Government that it should introduce some amendments into this House. We are entitled to know how long we will have to wait for that review and for the suggested amendments to be submitted. I suggest that, when they are submitted, the position which has led to the conflict within the Tariff Board to which I am referring should be clarified so that it will not occur again. In view of what has occurred, and in fairness to the member of the Tariff Board concerned, the Minister should endeavour to state whether the two propositions that I have put are a correct statement of the position or not. If they are correct, I suggest that the press, which has given wide publicity to this matter already, should endeavour to correct the situation by putting the position of this member of the Tariff Board in proper perspective.

Minister for Trade · Murray · CP

– I have listened to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) on this subject. I was not present in the House when he commenced to speak on the adjournment a week or so ago, and I did not hear his opening remarks. I find that he then said that I had made an attack on Mr. Date, using the national broadcasting service. To-night he said that that attack was made under privilege. Let me deal with the latter suggestion first. I am not unfamiliar with the use made by some honorable members of the opportunities presented by the privileges of Parliament and the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings to make attacks on private individuals. I have been a member of the Parliament for 24 years, and no one will be able to find in the records any occasion on which I have made an attack under privilege on any citizen. Nor have I made such an attack on Mr. Date.

I think it is necessary and desirable to clean up this point of privilege. Why was Mr. Date’s name mentioned in the Parliament? I did not mention it in the first place. Mr. Date is a member of a statutory board, which is required to report direct to the Parliament through the Minister for Trade. The Minister is obliged to send its reports to the Parliament. Therefore, Mr. Date is a servant of the Parliament, not a servant of the Government. That is clear. Mr. Date took it upon himself - and I have never challenged this - to send a circular letter to all members of the Parliament. That is unusual, but I have not complained about it. I did not refer to it; the Opposition raised this matter in the House.

In reply to a question asked by an Opposition member, I gave some of the facts. I stated what I regarded to be the relevant facts. However, my action, when replying to an issue quite properly raised by an honorable member of the Opposition, in proceeding to state some of the facts in respect of this gentleman, a servant of the Parliament who had circulated all honorable members, was described as a personal attack made under privilege. What was I to do? Was I to go out on to the streets and make a speech about Mr. Date? If that is the proposition, it is nonsense! I should have thought that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who is interminably chattering and interjecting while I am speaking now, and the honorable member for Yarra would have had enough respect for the Parliament and the privileges of the Parliament not to challenge the procedure that I have followed of answering in the Parliament an issue raised in the Parliament. If that is to be described as taking advantage of the national broadcasting service and if the statements of fact that I made - they are on the record and can be scrutinized - are to be described as an attack on a citizen, the inevitable logic is that a Minister should not speak. If that is so, what is the use of the Parliament?

This allegation of an attack made under privilege is just a lot of nonsense. I regret to say that a great and reputable journal, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, said -

Mr. McEwen’s only real effort last week was to make a personal (and privileged) attack on a member of the Tariff Board.

My speech is on record and can be referred to. I have not bothered to re-read it; I know what I said. I say now that, if I made an attack on Mr. Date, I will express my regret. But I did not; I stated the facts in reply to a question asked of me, and I will do so again.

I turn now to the issue itself. It would not be possible for me to canvass in the Parliament the whole list of Mr. Date’s grievances. He is entitled to have grievances. They are lengthy and involved. As far as I am concerned, they are contained in no fewer than 150 communications and do not lend themselves to analysis and discussion in the House. I have said that, insofar as these grievances have been based upon legal points,. I have arranged for them to be sent to the Government’s legal advisers. Nothing has been done except in conformity with the legal advice given to us by the Crown Law authorities, nor have we abstained from doing anything that should be done to comply with the Government’s legal relationship to Mr. Date. He is a member of the Tariff Board. The Tariff Board, under the present chairman, Dr. Westerman, has quite properly been considering the procedures for convening, the recording of minutes and so on. I understand from Mr. Date that he is satisfied. I understand from the honorable member for Yarra that he is satisfied. Prior to this, every one on the Tariff Board except Mr. Date was satisfied, and I am not prepared to accept that, on the ordinary procedures, every one on the Tariff Board except Mr. Date was wrong. The grievance to-day in respect of procedures can be no more than a request by Mr. Date that some procedural records, now months or years old, should be altered at his request or demand. It is not within my competence to tell the Tariff Board what it should do, and I see no point in endeavouring to press the matter with the Tariff Board.

I shall deal now with Mr. Date’s claims for allowances. Thousands of public servants have their own views on their entitlements and allowances. If Mr. Date writes that he has a claim for £1,000, am I not allowed to mention that as a fact? It is a fact. He said that the fact that I mentioned that he has made this claim has done him and his family irreparable damage. He cannot make a claim of that kind in secrecy. What I did in respect of that and every other matter was immediately to refer it to the Department of Trade and the Public Service Board. They are the departments, or the combination of departments, which always make decisions or tender advice to the Government or the Minister. That procedure has always been followed and was followed in this instance. I have used one word incorrectly, and I wish to correct it now. On re-reading my words now, I find that when I spoke previously I said that I had that day received a letter from Mr. Date. I shall now put the record right in relation to this matter. The truth is that that letter had been received several weeks earlier. It had been in the course of being processed by the department, as is the correct state of affairs. I had received that day from the department the draft of the reply to Mr. Date and, indeed, had signed the reply to Mr. Date on that day. So if I have done Mr. Date an injustice by saying that I had received the letter “ to-day “, when, in fact, the department had received it three weeks earlier, I regret that mistake, although it seems to me a pretty unimportant point.

There is really no grievance of any substance at all extant with Mr. Date. I have never sought to do him harm. I have met Mr. Date on two occasions. He has sent me telegrams as recently as to-day and a few days ago in which he expresses goodwill to me. In fact, in those telegrams he expresses some confidence in my personal integrity, and that is evidence of his estimate of my bona fides in dealing with him over a long period. To say that nothing has been done over eighteen months, as the honorable member for Yarra said, is just untrue. Every time Mr. Date has raised a matter over the last eighteen months or two years it has been dealt with in the proper manner.


.- Last session the Opposition submitted to the House a proposal for a discussion on the Australian shipbuilding industry. During the course of the debate on that matter I referred to the fact that shipbuilding companies throughout Australia were not able to obtain from the Australian Shipbuilding Board the price, in each case, that a successful tenderer quoted for the building of a ship. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who was in charge of the House at the time, informed me that he thought that that information should be made available, and promised to look into the matter. Apparently he forgot to do so, and a few weeks ago I put on the notice-paper the following question addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport: -

Will the Minister take steps to ensure that in the future the Australian Shipbuilding Board will make public the price submitted by the successful tenderer for contracts offered by the Board, particularly contracts that are let to overseas companies?

Yesterday I received the following answer from the Minister for Shipping and Transport: -

When calling tenders for the construction of new vessels in Australian yards the Australian Shipbuilding Board acts as an intermediary between shipowners and shipbuilders. In this capacity it receives information which is regarded as confidential between the parties concerned. It would be a breach of confidence for the board to disclose information of this nature.

The Shipbuilding Board does not let contracts for the building of vessels in overseas yards.

When I brought this matter before the House originally I did so on the advice of the managing director of Poole and Steel Limited, a shipbuilding firm in Sydney, who told me that he had often asked the board for this information but that it had been withheld. Now we find the Minister supporting the board in its attitude.

How does the Government justify the attitude of the board in this matter, when the expenditure of public money is involved? A subsidy of 33i per cent, of cost is granted by the Government to firms building ships. So how is it a breach of confidence for the Government to reveal to the public how much money is being spent in the shipbuilding industry and, particularly, how much each firm receives in subsidy? The concluding part of the Minister’s answer, to the effect that the board does not let contracts for the building of vessels in overseas yards, is not, in my opinion, correct. My reading of the act leads me to believe that it is possible, with the authority of the board, to have ships built overseas. So I assume that shipbuilding for Australian companies that is being done in overseas yards is done with the prior permission of the board. If that is so, I also take it that the payment of subsidy is involved.

What is the explanation of the Government’s reluctance to reveal the information desired? It is argued that to reveal it would be a breach of confidence. I ask again, how can it be a breach of confidence when money supplied by the taxpayers is being paid out in subsidy to companies building ships? After companies interested in shipbuilding have submitted tenders that are called from time to time, all the information they can get from the board is that their tenders were unsuccessful. They are never told the price submitted by the successful tenderer. I submit that this is not only an unsatisfactory position; it is also an unjustifiable position, because public money in the form of subsidy is being paid to those companies.

The Minister for Labour and National Service told me months ago that he would look into this matter. He was impressed with the fairness of the suggestion made, particularly as it came from Poole and Steel Limited. I ask the Minister now whether he will again take this matter before Cabinet, because the request made is a reasonable request. These companies are entitled to know just what they lost by tendering unsuccessfully. The Government cannot go on withholding this information, because the public money is involved.

Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works · Paterson · LP

– I would not rise to take part in this debate except to put at rest the mind of the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) in reference to the film “ This Land Was Theirs “. I can assure the honorable gentleman and the House that this film was not produced with the knowledge or assistance of the News and Information Bureau. The House will be pleased to know that the films produced by the bureau are produced in the closest possible collaboration with the departments most concerned with their effects - the Department of Immigration, the Department of Trade and the Department of External Affairs. The schedule is carefully vetted by the National Films Board, and some evidence of the excellence of the films produced by the News and Information Bureau is given by the fact that repeatedly films made by the bureau appear as prize winners at the various Continental film festivals. The latest example was the Cortina award for sporting films, which was won by a film, entered by the News and Information Bureau, on swimming training methods in Australia. I. have just had a few words from the Australian High Commissioner in London - words of congratulation for the bureau in relation to the quickness of construction, completion and presentation in colour of the film of the recent visit of the Queen Mother to Australia. The film was completed and printed for distribution in something under seven days from the time of the departure of the Queen Mother from Perth.

There have also been very eulogistic references to films dealing with the work of the Department of Territories in New Guinea, produced by the bureau. These have been most favorably reported on overseas, and this is the class of film being presented overseas to sell Australia. It is quite inconceivable that a film of the kind referred to by the honorable member for Isaacs could have been produced by the News and Information Bureau.

East Sydney

.- 1 desire to make some reference to the subject-matter raised by the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth), national advertising. I have not had the opportunity to see the film of which the honorable member spoke - “ This Land of Theirs “ - but I have no doubt, from his description of it, that it set Australia out in a very unfavorable light. But it was no more inaccurate than the Government propaganda used to induce people to come to this country. Does not the Government engage in propaganda which declares that full employment still exists in this country, and that there is any amount of housing available for occupation in Australia? Is that any more misleading or dishonest than to produce a film setting out what happens in the case of a great drought in Australia? Of course not.

I have one or two suggestions to make to the Government because I always believe in applying my mind in a practical way to these problems. We get a great many government publications from time to time, and when one turns practically every page he is met with the horrifying spectacle of a photograph of one of the Ministers. Honorable members now have the opportunity of seeing these Ministers in person, and my colleagues will agree with me that if photographs of Ministers are to be included in these publications - it may be a little dishonest but it might be justifiable in the circumstances - the Government should adopt the practice it adopted in respect of the portrait of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) which hangs in the King’s Hall. That is that whilst the observer can recognize the subject in the portrait as the Prime Minister, the painter of the portrait has miraculously removed all those double chins. That practice should be followed when the propagandists handle the photographs of Ministers. 1 suggest that the Government should get the same expert on the job to touch up the photographs a little so as to make them look less horrifying.

I should like to make another suggestion. I have read in the press that a selection has been made of swimmers and athletes to represent Australia at the forthcoming

Empire Games at Cardiff, in Wales, but that the organizations concerned have not sufficient money to send all whom they want to send overseas. If the Government wants really good advertising for Australia, it should send Australian record-holders in athletics and swimming to take part in sporting events overseas, and it should make a substantial donation towards the cost ot doing so. That need not involve the Government in any additional expense, as I shall indicate. All the Government need do is to get one or two Ministers to volunteer to drop off the roster for trips overseas. The money thus saved could be donated towards the expenses of the Australian team to the Empire Games. Surely, one or two of these patriotic gentlemen on the Government side would be prepared to forgo their turn on the roster for a trip overseas at public expense so that these fine examples of Australian womanhood and manhood could travel to the other side of the world. That would be a much better way of advertising Australia than the methods which at present are being employed by the Government.

There are one or two other matters to which I shall refer. When the Government is giving out propaganda, it should state the facts. Unless that is done, disappointment is caused among those who arrive in Australia and find that conditions are vastly different from those described in Government propaganda. A case recently came to my notice which illustrates what can happen. This case should be publicized overseas. An Australian ex-serviceman, who was suffering from tuberculosis and a number of other disabilities, was admitted to a repatriation hospital for treatment, but the hospital authorities, or somebody who examined the unfortunate chap, decided that his condition did not warrant any further treatment in a repatriation hospital and discharged him. However, he still required hospital treatment and had to enter a convalescent home at his own expense. The Repatriation Department did not deny that he still required hospital treatment, but the authorities said that as he had been deemed no longer eligible for further treatment in a repatriation hospital, he had to go to another hospital at his own expense. Such cases should be publicized for the benefit of intending residents in Australia.

In the few minutes remaining to me, let me turn to another matter. We have always regarded this Government as a big businessman’s government, a financiers’ government, a monopolists’ government.

Mr Calwell:

– A boodleiers’ government.


– And a boodleiers’ government. Let me examine the Government’s latest scheme; it is always thinking out schemes. If it does not, its bosses outside tell it what to do. Its new scheme is one for the benefit of the oil companies; it has not actually been put into operation, but it is under consideration at the moment and no doubt in due course we shall hear more of it. A department - I do not know which one, but I should imagine it is the Department of Customs and Excise - employs a number of men called lockers. They check the oil that is imported and produced in Australia to assess the liability of the oil companies for the payment of customs duty and excise. That system has operated in Australia for a number of years and has been deemed necessary so that the Government shall not be defrauded of tax payments to which it was entitled. Now it is to be ended. Do honorable members know what the new system is to be? All the lockers are to be dismisssed, or if not dismissed, they are to be removed from this particular class of work and are to be absorbed elsewhere, and the oil companies are to be placed on an honour system. Those companies are to assess themselves for tax; they are to advise the Government as to their liability, and they are to have only what is called a spot check - whatever that means. That is exactly what the oil companies want.

One of the proposals is this: The oil companies have been allowed a percentage foi evaporation, but the allowable percentage is to be doubled under the new scheme. You can imagine what the companies will do. The allowance for evaporation has been given for many years, but now the Government proposes to introduce this wonderful scheme under which the oil companies will work on an honour system and are to assess themselves for tax. I should like the Minister at the table to explain what the Government intends to do. What are the exact details of the scheme?

I turn my attention now to another matter. This morning I asked the Prime

Minister a question regarding the construction of a ship at Whyalla which is to be subsidized by the Australian Government. In his reply, the right honorable gentleman made it appear that the Opposition was raising some objection to this practice. Not at all. A Labour government actually inaugurated the development of the shipbuilding industry in Australia; but the Prime Minister dodged the point in my question. The tanker which is to be built at Whyalla is to be registered overseas and because of that, a cheap labour, foreign crew will be engaged to man it. The Prime Minister did not reply to the point of my question. It is this: If the Australian taxpayers are to be heavily taxed to provide a subsidy to build a ship, the ship should be manned by Australian seamen working under Australian award conditions. Everybody knows that our tankers are not registered in Australia. They are registered in Panama and Liberia and in ports in other parts of the world. That enables their owners to employ cheap labour. Is not that what the Government wants? Can it deny that that is what it intends to do? The Australian Labour party welcomes opportunities for the building of ships in Australia, but when they are built in Australia, they should be operated under Australian conditions of employment.


.- Unfortunately, this House has been treated to an exhibition of what I can only describe as very great meanness on the part of a Minister of the Crown. I refer to the matter that was raised by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) at a previous sitting of this House when he brought to the notice of the Parliament some grievances that emanated from Mr. Date, a member of the Tariff Board. On that occasion, in reply to the honorable member for Yarra, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) indulged in a diatribe of Mr. Date. In my opinion, and apparently in the opinion of the press, the Minister conveyed the impression that Mr. Date was in fact a public nuisance; such a public nuisance, indeed, that he had written a large number of letters to the Minister for Trade, departmental officers, the chairman of the Tariff Board and, I suppose, to other people. The Minister not only went so far as to convey that impression - there can be no doubt about that - but he also went even further and referred to a matter which was quite outside the subject of the complaint of the honorable member for Yarra .and of Mr. Date. He referred to some claim by Mr. Date who, he said, even went so far as to want to live in Sydney when he became a member of the Tariff Board and even claimed £1,000 for allowances, telephone accounts, and so forth. That had nothing whatever to do with the subject-matter of the complaint of the honorable member for Yarra, which was confined entirely to the matter of procedure adopted by the Tariff Board. But the right honorable member had to bring this external matter into the discussion, in his endeavour to discredit Mr. Date’s effort to have the right thing done.

I know that the right honorable member himself has not been behind the door when it comes to seeking privileges and allowances. In fact, on one occasion when he was given a trip abroad to the United Nations, he then went so far as to suggest that the Commonwealth Government - quite legitimately, of course - should be so generous, even in war-time, as to stand the expense of an extension of the trip as far as the United Kingdom and the Continent. So he was very mean when he indicted Mr. Date for wanting to change his place of living and perhaps cost the Government a little more. The Minister, I will admit, is in a little more chastened mood to-night, but he did not make the amende honorable. It now transpires, and it is perfectly clear to the people of Australia, that hitherto the Tariff Board, one of the most important instruments of Government in this country, has not kept minutes of its meetings. I ask the Minister: Is that correct or is it not correct?

Mr McEwen:

– No, it is not correct.


– It does keep minutes of its meetings?

Mr McEwen:

– Yes.


– Have you copies of them that you can present to the House, because I would not accept your word? Have you got copies of them?

Mr McEwen:

– What nonsense are you talking?


– Why would you not? It is the duty of a Minister occasionally to have a look at the minutes of a public instrumentality.

Mr McEwen:

– This is a socialist, wanting to see the minutes of a public instrumentality!


– The Minister says, “ This is a socialist, wanting to see the minutes of a public instrumentality “. Let me tell this Minister now - this has never been revealed publicly - that by virtue of my perusal of the minutes of the Australian Wheat Board I recovered from the United Kingdom Government £250,000, of which the Australian Wheat Board was prepared to allow the wheat-growers of Australia to go short. I challenge you to prove otherwise. That is a concrete illustration. Because I perused the minutes of that authority, I found what it had done and what it had committed the wheat-growers to.

Now, let us return to the subject-matter of dispute. It now transpires, as the Minister for Trade tells us to-night - though he says minutes have been kept - that the new chairman of the board, Dr. Westerman, is conducting an investigation in regard to the minutes, procedures and so forth. So it is quite apparent that as a result of Mr. Date’s persistent attention to these problems some reforms are under way and some new procedures are to be adopted. It is quite apparent that by virtue of Mr. Date’s persistence - I am not saying that he is right in everything that he has done - and by virtue of the revelations of the honorable member for Yarra, even this stubborn Minister has been pushed into the position where he has put in a topranking man of his department to examine matters of procedure and the adoption of some more satisfactory methods of recording decisions and so on. That is undeniable. In those circumstances, I think this behaviour on the part of this Minister is exceptionally mean. He misrepresented Mr. Date in regard to the date of a letter received only yesterday. That is an old joke. He tried that on me once, when he complained in this House that he had made a request to me but had not been given the courtesy of a reply. Within ten minutes I produced a copy of my reply. I know these jokes. I leave it at that. Mr. Date and the honorable member for Yarra are to be commended for having been the medium by which some reform and some new procedure are to be adopted by the Tariff Board.

Mr McEwen:

– I wish to make a personal explanation.


– Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr McEwen:

– Yes, on a small point but a quite significant one. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said that when I was a representative - with him as it turned out - at a conference of the United Nations, to which I was invited to go by the late Prime Minister Curtin, I asked the Government to meet my expenses to go beyond America to England and Europe. That is utterly false.

Mr Pollard:

– You had an approach made to the present Leader of the Opposition, who was Minister for External Affairs, to see if you could be allowed to go across.

Mr McEwen:

– That is 100 per cent, a lis.


– Order! I must ask the right honorable gentleman to withdraw that remark.

Mr McEwen:

– I withdraw it and say that the statement is 100 per cent. untrue. When I was invited by Prime Minister Curtin to go to the United Nations conference, Mr. Curtin, quite unprompted by me, said, “ I would like you, John, to go to the eastern States of America and to Canada while you are there. You are a public man, and I think it would be useful for you to do it “. He might have said the same thing to the honorable member for Lalor - I do not know. He said that, and on that basis I went to the eastern States of America. From there I went privately to the United Kingdom. I paid my own fare, and never at any time did I suggest, directly or indirectly, or through any third party, that I wanted my fare, or one penny of it, to be paid, and I invite the Leader of the Opposition, whose name has been mentioned by the honorable member for Lalor, to say whether he can suggest anything contrary to what I have just said.

Mr Pollard:

– I wish to make a personal explanation.


– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr Pollard:

– In the circumstances, if the right honorable gentleman persists in that story - which he apparently does - I unreservedly accept it and apologize for having said something that apparently was untrue; but I hope he will do the same in regard to Mr. Date.

Mr McEwen:

– I take exception to the words of the honorable member for Lalor. I have, before the Parliament, made a statement of fact. The honorable member says, “ If I persist in that story . . . “, I take objection to that.

Mr Pollard:

– I will go one better. I will tell you a story that is true.


– Order!

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 11.29 p.m.

page 735


The following answers to questions were circulated: -


Mr O’Connor:

r asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. What has been the value of gold sold annually by the Commonwealth Government to (a) the sterling area and (b) the dollar area in the years 1950 to 1957, inclusive?
  2. What is the present value of the Commonwealth’s gold-holding reserves and what was the figure at 31st December, 1950?
Sir Arthur Fadden:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. Australia’s gold reserves are held by the Commonwealth Bank. The only sales of gold by the Commonwealth Bank to other countries over the period from 1950 to 1957 have been sales to the Bank of England. The amounts are set out below -
  1. Gold held by the Commonwealth Bank at the end of December, 1950, was valued at £A.39.4 million. Holdings at the end of December, 1957, were valued at £A.56.1 million.

Taxation Branch, Sydney


n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. What was the cost of the (a) purchase and (b) installation of time-recording machines in the Sydney Taxation Office?
  2. What is the estimated annual cost of maintenance of the machines and the purchase of recording cards?
  3. What was the annual cost of the time book procedure previously in operation?
  4. Were tenders called for the supply of the time-recording machines?
  5. If so, was the lowest accepted?
  6. If tenders were not invited, what was the reason for departing from the usual practice?
Sir Arthur Fadden:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) The cost of purchase of time-recording machines and the cost of all equipment required because of the installation of those machines in both the Income Tax Office and the Sales Tax Office in Sydney was £3,814. (b) The cost of their installation, including all electric wiring and preparation of initial records, was £1,113.

  1. The estimated annual cost of maintenance of the machines and the purchase of recording cards for both offices is £398.
  2. It is not possible to say precisely what the cost of the time-book procedure previously in operation was, because of the impracticability of measuring the time spent thereon by numerous supervisors, but allowing for the cost of normal supervision only it is calculated to have been not less than £2,615 per annum. If the fair annual cost of the mechanical equipment is taken at 5 per cent. of its capital cost and installation charges, plus maintenance and operating costs, a cash saving of notless than £510 per annum is revealed. There is, in addition, a large saving incapable of precise calculation derived from the fact that the mechanical equipment is much faster in operation.
  3. No.
  4. See answer to question number 4.
  5. Treasury Regulation 52 refers to the public invitation of tenders and to purchases for which tenders have not been invited. The purchase of these machines was approved by the Commonwealth Stores Supply and Tender Board as provided in Treasury Regulation 52 (2)(c). The type of machine had been tested in operation in the Victorian and Tasmanian offices.


Mr Clark:

k asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -

  1. What is the estimated number of (a) new persons offering for employment each year as a result of (i) natural increase and (ii) immigration and (b) persons leaving the employment field each year?
  2. What was the total number of persons employed at 31st December in each year of the years 1955, 1956 and 1957?

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 (a) (i). The intake into work force from local sources comes predominantly from boys and girls leaving school, though a proportion of those leaving school each year continue full-time studies at universities, technical, agricultural and teaching colleges and other educational institutions while others, particularly girls, do not seek employment. There are no statistics available of the actual number of boys and girls leaving school in any year or of the numbers entering employment for the first time. The estimated total number of boys and girls aged fifteen in the Australian population was 124,400 in 1954. It is estimated that the corresponding figure for 1958 would be about 141,000. 1 (a) (ii). The only available indication of the number of new persons offering for employment as a result of migration is provided by the published statistics of “ permanent new arrivals “, i.e., the number of persons arriving in Australia who intend to reside in Australia for one year or longer. The numbers of “ permanent new arrivals “ who classified themselves as being in gainful occupation are shown below for each year since 1954 -

These statistics do not show the number of migrant workers arriving in Australia for the first time, as they include Australian residents returning after an absence of one year or more. The “ permanent arrivals “ are offset partly by “ permanent departures “ from Australia. 1 (b). No statistics are available of the numbers leaving the employment field each year. Withdrawals from the employment field result from a variety of causes, the principal of which are death, retirement due to age or ill health or marriages (in the case of women) and “permanent “ departure from Australia. Information is not available from which reliable estimates of the numbers retiring from employment on account of age, ill health or marriage can be prepared for particular years. The numbers of Australian residents departing “ permanently “ from Australia who described themselves as being in gainful occupations are shown below for each year since 1954 -

Although statistics are published of the number of deaths occurring each year, they do not provide a reliable measure of the withdrawals from the work force due to death.

  1. No figures are available of the total numbers in the work force except at census dates.

War Service Homes Division, Queensland

Mr McColm:

m asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice: -

  1. Is it a fact that the War Service Homes Division in Queensland possessed and recently disposed of lands located in the Bulimba or Balmoral suburbs of Brisbane in the vicinity of the newly erected State high school?
  2. If so-

    1. What was the (i) date and (ii) reason for the acquisition of these lands?
    2. What were the (i) areas acquired and (ii) amounts paid in compensation?
    3. Was acquisition obtained by agreement or compulsory process?
    4. Who arranged and approved of the disposal of the land?
    5. What was the (i) date of, (ii) reason for and (iii) method of disposal?
    6. Was the land disposed of in one parcel or in a number of parcels; if so, who arranged and paid for the cost of subdivision, surveys, &c?
    7. Were public tenders called?
    8. Were previous owners offered any opportunity of re-purchase?
    9. What were the conditions of sale and what was the total purchase price obtained?
    10. Were the proceeds paid into Consolidated Revenue or credited to the account of the War Service Homes Division in Queensland for use by the division on commitments in that State?
    11. Was any of the land disposed of to an officer of the War Service Homes Division; if so, (i) who was the officer, (ii) who authorized the sale, (iii) what were the conditions of sale and purchase price, (iv) why was the land disposed of in this manner and (v) were public tenders called or was the land auctioned?
    1. Were the lands considered suitable for residential sub-divisional development for War Service Homes Division purposes?

    2. What was the (i) estimated cost of development of the lands, (ii) estimated average cost per block after development and (iii) estimated number of blocks in the proposed sub-division?
    3. What was the estimated market value per block in the proposed sub-division at the date of disposal?
    4. Is it known for what purpose the purchasers bought this land?
Mr Roberton:

n. - The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: -

  1. The War Service Homes Division has recently disposed of an area of land at Bulimba. 2. (a) The purchase of this land was approved by the Minister on 28th June, 1949, in accordance with Government policy, to meet the possible future requirements of war service homes applicants. The purchase money was paid on 19th October, 1949, and the documents covering the transaction were completed on 23rd March, 1950.

    1. The area purchased was 23 acres 3 roods 39.5 perches. The purchase price was £6,500.
    2. The land was purchased from the Commonwealth.
    3. The disposal of the land was approved by the Director of War Service Homes on 27th May, 1957, in accordance with the provisions of section 48 of the War Service Homes Act, and within the Government policy that land which is surplus to requirements should not be retained.
    4. The highest offer was accepted by the division following the closing of tenders on 6th December, 1957. Numerous factors contributed to the decision to sell this land. The chief reason was that the demand for land in this locality by eligible applicants was very small. In addition, the land offered serious problems in restora tion and development It had been disfigured while being used as a military camp and with subsequent erosion. The division had ample suitable land to meet the present requirements and those expected in the future in the Brisbane metropolitan area. The land was offered for sale by circular to all Brisbane members of the Queensland Real Estate Institute. By further circular agents were advised of the closing date for offers, viz., 6th December, 1957. After offers closed it was found that three were within £500 of each other. The matter was then discussed with the chairman of the Real Estate Institute, who was not involved in any of the offers. A round-table discussion then took place with the three highest bidders, and as a result further competitive offers were obtained from each and the highest offer was accepted. (0 Four allotments facing a made road were retained for allocation to eligible applicants. The balance was sold in one parcel.
    5. Public tenders were not called. The procedure followed to obtain competitive tenders has been explained in reply to (e).
    6. The land was purchased from the Commonwealth, which was not interested in repurchasing it.
    7. The conditions of sale provided for 50 per cent. deposit on signing the contract and release of one-third of the allotments, the balance of the purchase price to be paid with interest at 5 per cent, in four equal quarterly instalments. If land other than one-third of the allotments is required to be released before the final payment, a premium payment of £100 per allotment, in addition to the normal quarterly instalments, is to be made. The total purchase price obtained was £35,605.
    8. The proceeds when received will be credited to the War Service Homes Trust Fund and in accordance with the Treasury procedure they are available as an additional amount to be used on the provision of war service homes. The proceeds from the sale of land in a particular State are not ear-marked for that State, but are used to ensure that applicants for the different types of assistance are given equal treatment throughout the Commonwealth. Queensland applicants have benefited considerably from sales of land in other States over the past three years.
    9. One of the four allotments mentioned in 2 (f) was made available to an officer of the War Service Homes Division, who is an eligible applicant. The officer was Mr. Rankin. The allocation was authorized by the delegate of the Director in Queensland. The allocation was made as part of the loan to build a home and the price charged was £80 9s. 7d. The other three blocks were allotted to other eligible applicants for £73 3s. 6d., £85 17s. 9d., and £65 16s. lod., respectively. All four allotments were made available at cost price in the usual way. The allotment purchased by Mr. Rankin was offered to and refused by nine other applicants before Mr. Rankin accepted it. It was offered to and accepted by Mr. Rankin in the ordinary order of priority. If Mr. Rankin does not proceed with his application to build a home, the allotment reverts to the division.
    1. The land could have been developed to be suitable for the building of homes, but the costs would have been considerable and the result would have been uneconomical in comparison with other estates held by the division. The reply to (e) indicates the reasons for disposal of this land.

    2. Detailed estimates were not prepared as it is not a function of the division to develop land which is surplus, for sale in individual allotments on the open market. The general review showed that it would be preferable to sell the land in one parcel except for the four allotments retained for eligible applicants.
    3. This could not be determined without a detailed investigation, which was not warranted in the circumstances.
    4. It is not known for what purpose the purchasers bought this land.


Mr O’Connor:

r asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -

  1. Has there been a serious decline in the shipbuilding industry, including repair and maintenance, particularly in the eastern States?
  2. If so, will the Minister take action to ensure that this alarming drift is halted by the acceleration of the shipbuilding programme?
Mr Townley:

– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following reply: -

I and 2. There is no decline in new ship construction in Australia although some important changes in its character have taken place. Since 1949 annual expenditure on shipbuilding has risen from about £2,250,000 to £5,500,000 in 1957-58. In the same period the tonnage under construction has risen from 80,000 to 160,000 tons. At the present time eleven merchant ships are being built in Australia, the Australian National Line has decided to build a roll-on roll-off vessel for the Bass Strait cargo trade to supplement the passenger cargo ferry already under construction, and Ampol Petroleum Proprietary Limited has announced its intention of constructing a 32,000 tons tanker at Whyalla. Apart from vessels already under construction and the proposed new roll-on, roll-off vessel for the Bass Strait cargo trade, the Australian National Line has no firm plans at present for further new buildings but it keens its possible needs for new tonnage under regular review and will no doubt place further orders through the Australian Shipbuilding Board when they are required. Any plans the private companies may have for new vessels are not known but no doubt the Shipbuilding Board will be consulted by any company deciding to order new tonnage in Australia. As far as ship repair work is concerned all work of this nature for the Australian National Line and the private companies is carried out in Australia. Shipowners will only make repairs to their ships when it is necessary and it is difficult to see what action the Government could take to increase the work available to this section of the industry.

Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool

Mr O’Connor:

r asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -

  1. Who was the successful tenderer for the assets of the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool?
  2. What was the price tendered?
  3. When does the successful tenderer take over?
  4. What is the position of employees in regard to long service leave and future employment?
  5. ls it the intention of the purchaser to supply to the shipping industry along lines similar to those used by the pool?
  6. Have adequate provisions been made in the contract of purchase to protect the future employment of the present employees and supply to the shipping industry?
Mr Townley:

– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has replied as follows: -

  1. Dealing with agency holdings firstly - With the exception of Townsville and Mackay, where the Harbour Boards concerned were not interested in purchase, the assets of C.H.E.P. at Cairns, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Burnie, Devonport, Launceston and King Island were sold to the respective port authorities. The assets of the Sydney and Brisbane branches, including the equipment at Townsville and Mackay, were sold to a syndicate of New South Wales companies comprising Dickson Primer (Consolidated) Limited, W. E. Bramble and Sons (Transport) Company Limited, Breckett Proprietary Limited and Development Finance Corporation Proprietary Limited. The assets of the Melbourne branch were sold to Liberty Motors (Australia) Proprietary Limited.
  2. The sale prices obtained were -
  1. The agency holdings have all been taken over by the authorities who purchased them. Liberty Motors are in process of taking over Melbourne branch and will assume full control on 10th April, 1958. It is proposed that Dickson Primer and associated companies will take over Sydney, Brisbane and Townsville on 24th April 1958.
  2. AH employees who have completed eight years’ continuous service with the Commonwealth are entitled to long service leave and will receive Hi appropriate payment on termination of Commonwealth employment. The purchasers of the ^ranches have undertaken to employ as many of the employees of the pool as is economically possible.
  3. It is the intention of the purchasers of Sydney , Brisbane and Townsville to continue to provide equipment to the shipping industry as in the pas: Melbourne branch of the pool has not supplied equipment to the shipping industry as this field has been the province of the Melbourne Harbour Trust.
  4. As indicated in the reply to Question 4, the purchasers have undertaken to employ as ma”of the employees of the pool as is economically possible. They have also given undertakings to continue to operate the equipment on a hiring basis. The equipment in the Sydney, Brisbane branches, and also Townsville will thus continue to be available to the shipping industry. 1 was not practicable to make either of these matters a firm condition of the contract for sale, because obviously the purchaser must preserve his freedom to make such adjustments in the management of his business as changes in trading conditions may make necessary.

Commonwealth Immigration Councils

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -

  1. What are the terms of reference of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council and the Commonwealth Immigration Planning Council?
  2. Who are the present members of the councils, when were they appointed and whom did they succeed?
  3. On what occasions and subjects have the councils made reports to the Government in the last five years?
  4. Which of these reports have been tabled or published and why have not the other reports been published?
Mr Downer:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

In view of the fact that the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council and the Commonwealth Immigration Planning Council are separately constituted bodies, charged with specific responsibilities, I propose to answer the honorable member by dealing with each council separately.

page 739


This council was established in February, 1947, with terms of reference, briefly, to advise the Minister on legislative, sociological and administrative matters relating to immigration.

The council comprises members who represent, at the federal level, a broad cross-section of the Australian community and includes representatives of the ex-service organizations, trade unions, ^employers organizations, chambers of commerce, chambers of manufactures, rural industries, local government and women’s organizations.

The following list gives details of the present members of the council, their date of appointment and whom they succeed: -

The records of council contain to date 946 minutes, a limited number of which would refer to purely formal and administrative matters but of which by far the majority would relate to matters on which the views of the council have been obtained. Examples of specific matters upon which council has made recommendations are the following: -

The report of the committee of the Immigra tion Advisory Council, appointed by the Minister to investigate the grounds for withholding of tariff payments by British migrants in Commonwealth Hostels was published on 5th December, 1952.

The committee, under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Dovey, which was established to investigate the social conduct of migrants has made three reports, two of which (November, 1955, and April, 1957) have been published and the third (January, 1952) is available in roneoed form.

The pamphlet, “Australia Needs All These People”, issued by the council was published in January, 1958.

No reports of the council or of its committees have been tabled as it is specifically an advisory body to the Minister.

page 740


This council was established in October, 1949, to advise the Minister on economic and industrial aspects of immigration. In establishing the council, the then Prime Minister announced that it would have the following terms of reference -

This council, unlike the Advisory Council, is not constituted on a representative basis but comprises members of the community who are recognized leaders in the field of industry (both trades unions and employers), economics, science and public administration, and who have been selected on the basis of their ability to contribute to this vital work.

As members are appointed on a personal basis, the question as to whom they might replace does not arise. The present members and the dates of their appointment are -

The records of the council contain to date 554 minutes of which by far the greater proportion represent matters on which the specific advice of the council has been sought. The following are illustrations of the matters on which the council has made recommendations to the Minister: -

The council does not publish specific reports. Its recommendations to the Minister have, however, been taken into account by the Government in its continuing review of the immigration programme.

Standardization of Rail Gauges

Mr Webb:

b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -

  1. Have the Western Australian Government Railways supplied full information in regard to the standardization of the Kalgoorlie-Fremantle railway?
  2. If so, when will the Minister take steps to finalize this urgent matter with the Western Australian Government?
Mr Townley:

– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following replies: -

  1. The information which has been sought in respect of the standardization of the Kalgoorlie.Fremantle railway has been received.
  2. The matter of rail standardization policy has already received the attention of the Cabinet Committee on transport and the Government has decided that the Melbourne-Albury project will be the first major standardization work to bc undertaken with available resources. The experience gained in undertaking this work is expected to be of valuable assistance in the consideration and undertaking of future standardization projects.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 March 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.