22nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. CLAREY presented a petition from 9,220 electors of Australia praying that the House take immediate action to ensure that sufficient funds are made available to each State of the Commonwealth to provide adequate public education facilities for its children and people.
Petition received and read.
Petitions in similar terms were presented as follows: -
By Mr. L. R. JOHNSON from 11,120 electors of the Commonwealth.
By Mr. GALVIN from 10,106 electors of the Commonwealth.
– I desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question of importance in relation to Indonesia. Some time ago, the Government rejected any idea of mediation in connexion with the rebellion in Indonesia. I suggest that the right honorable gentleman should look at the matter again in the light of recent developments, which seem to have included the destruction of British vessels, either by the rebels alone or perhaps by the rebels with assistance from some other country outside Indonesia - which would immediately attract the jurisdiction of the United Nations. Will the Minister tell the House the position as far as he knows it? Does he not think that the Government should intervene in a more definite way by bringing the dispute before the United Nations itself?
– In the nature of things, it is extremely difficult for Australia or any other country to get precise and completely reliable information about what is happening in the ranks of the dissidents, or allegedly at their instance, but it is credibly reported - I put it no more strongly than that - that the dissidents in the northern
Celebes have a number of aircraft of their own, and it can only be assumed that the bombings that have been popularly reported have occurred at the instance of the dissidents who have been using their own aircraft. I do not think that it is possible for anybody to be more precise than that about the things that are alleged to have happened, particularly in the last 48 hours.
As to the right honorable gentleman’s proposal for mediation of some sort, presumably at the instance of Australia, I am afraid that I see now no more clearly than I saw a week or ten days ago how the proposal could be made effective, although I appreciate the spirit in which the suggestion has been offered. I think it can be said with complete truth that mediation of the sort that I believe the Leader of the Opposition has in mind would not be acceptable to either the government at Djakarta or the dissidents. In these circumstances, I do not see how it is possible for mediation in any form to be forced on those two parties; nor do I see how the United Nations can be brought into it.
– If another power is helping the rebels, that is reason enough for United Nations intervention.
– I do not think it can even be reasonably assumed that any other power has had a hand in the happenings in Indonesia in recent times. That suggestion is entirely unproven and entirely improbable. In these circumstances, although, as I have said, I recognize the right honorable gentleman’s good intent in this matter, I do not see any way in which that good intent can be translated into action.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the Minister any information indicating that the Central Committee of the Australian Communist party has formulated plans to promote widespread industrial unrest during this year, particularly in the transport industries?
– I am not in a position to give to the House more detail than I have already given in previous answers to questions. There is no doubt in my mind - and my feeling was confirmed by the article in the “Communist
Review “ for, I think, September, which I have previously mentioned, and by subsequent events - that a determined effort is being made by Communist influences both inside and outside the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia to use the waterfront industry as its principal instrument for industrial trouble.
As to the general immediate issue, one aspect of that matter is before the Commonwealth Industrial Court at the present time, and I do not propose to refer to any aspect of the matter that is before the court. A public statement has been made by the general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, Mr. Healy, to the effect that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority is now seeking to disturb arrangements which have operated in the ports of Sydney and Melbourne since 1942 and 1943. What he conveniently omitted to state was that the order which the authority has now made is of the same character, and to the same effect, as an order which has operated in the ports of Adelaide, Townsville and Cairns throughout this time, and indeed during the period in which Mr. Healy was a member of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, which controls waterfront conditions. So, it can hardly be claimed that some fundamental aspect of industrial policy is being violated as a result of the order which the authority has made.
I repeat that what is happening is a defiance of an order by an authority established by this .Parliament, and there can be only one end to that process. The immediate effect would be loss of wages and loss to Australia generally through the interruption to industry. In the long run, if orders of the authority are not observed, further action by this Parliament will be needed to see that our authority in the matter is strengthened.
– My question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, concerns proposals for political reform in the Northern Territory. I refrain from asking the Prime Minister the nature of the submissions to Cabinet in this respect, because that would obviously involve matters of policy. However, I do ask the Prime Minister when the submissions are likely to be considered, and whether they will be treated as urgent.
– A statement made yesterday by my colleague, the Minister for Territories, indicated that he had some proposals ready for consideration by Cabinet. They will be given close and quick consideration.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. In view of the great strategic importance of Aden, not only to Great Britain, but also to Australia, will the Minister furnish the House with the latest official information concerning the attack by Yemen forces? Is there any confirmation of a report that Russian weapons and technical help are being supplied to the rebel tribesmen?
– The latest information that we have on this subject appears to establish that Yemen forces have invaded the Aden protectorate and that currently a fort considerably inside the protectorate border - I think it is 15 or 18 miles from the border with Yemen - is being invested by Yemen forces. The United Kingdom has sent troops to Aden as a precautionary measure. It is well known that over recent months, in particular, quite considerable quantities of arms and munitions from Russia and other iron curtain countries have been made available to Yemen. What the honorable gentleman says is entirely true: Aden is of considerable importance to Australia. As we all know, it is administered by the United Kingdom Government, which is well aware of the menace to Aden. The Yemen authorities have made no secret for a long time of their determination to get Aden. Should that happen, the honorable gentleman’s fears would prove to be well founded. One can only hope and believe that the United Kingdom will be able to withstand this assault on the Aden protectorate and to re-impose stability in the area.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that recently on television he stated that to win the next elections he would work like a horse. If so, does the right honorable gentleman intend to get a flying start from the barrier and, in his efforts to emulate the horse, Tulloch, immediately order that 100,000 homes be built, unfreeze the basic wage, and introduce legislation to supply the necessary money for increased educational facilities, thereby earning the plaudits of the crowd; or does the Prime Minister intend to continue producing the form of that famous old nag, Drongo, which always plodded along at the rear of the field?
– On the occasion referred to I spoke about horses. I might with advantage have spoken about other animals.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question which, in some respects, is related to a previous question. As the Minister is aware that the general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation has stated that there would be no stoppage on the waterfront if employers ceased interfering with the gang system, can he say whether that is a correct assessment of the reasons for the continuous waterfront disputes that are having disastrous effects on Australian industry? Is the Minister aware that since bulk handling installations were established at Mackay, workers at that port, who are not necessarily members of the Waterside Workers Federation, have not participated in any stoppage of work whatsoever, and that such peaceful operations have given mutual satisfaction to employees and employers?
– Dealing with the first part of the question, I do not have in my possession the full text of what Mr. Healy is alleged to have said. I should be very surprised if he gave any undertaking that, provided there was a satisfactory decision from his point of view on this particular question of gang sizes, there would be no further trouble. I have no doubt in my own mind that while the present leadership of the Waterside Workers Federation continues, whatever the outcome on one particular issue, there will be trouble on others in the days ahead.
When answering the earlier- question I might have said that although a particular method of handling cargo has operated since 1942 or 1943 in a particular port it does not necessarily follow that that method is satisfactory or efficient in the light of the present circumstances. Indeed, many things that were done to meet the emergency situ ation of war would not be applicable in the same way in peace-time. In the meantime, changes have taken place in the techniques of handling cargo on wharfs. The honorable member has referred to one quite spectacular development, which will be extended through various sugar ports of Queensland to cater for the bulk handling of sugar. This development has been an obvious improvement, lt has given great satisfaction because of the reduction of industrial trouble, as the honorable member mentioned, and because it has led to a marked reduction in the cost of loading sugar, which directly benefits the sugar industry, and through it the country as a whole. I have had occasion previously to point out to members of the Waterside Workers Federation that their course of conduct is leading to a dwindling of the opportunities that they otherwise might have for the working of cargoes. In the northern Queensland port of Port Douglas we had an illustration of this. Sugar was brought from the mill to this port where it was loaded on to ships, but because of a series of industrial hold-ups there, it was decided to take the sugar from the mill to Cairns, a much greater distance. But in the result it was found that what was costing them about £5 5s. a ton to handle by the former method can now be handled at £2 10s. a ton. In that process a number of waterside workers at Port Douglas have lost their livelihood. That is the inevitable end result of the course of conduct which so many members of thefederation are thoughtlessly pursuing in the ports of this country at the present time.
– My question, addressed to the acting Minister for Supply, refers to a ministerial statement made on 3rd May, 1957, that a Radiation Advisory Committee had been set up to advise the Government on the threat of radiation to the Australian population. Can the Minister say whether any reports have been made by this body and, if so, what was their nature? Secondly, has he sought and received any information concerning the deadly radiation substance, Carbon 14, found in so-called “ clean “ bombs, which Dr. Linus Pauling states will be responsible for millions of children, being born mutilated? Thirdly, was this aspect raised with the United Kingdom representative in regard to the recent explosion of one of these so-called “ clean “ bombs in the Southern Pacific?
– During the few days I have been acting on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Supply, I have not, myself, sought any information of the sort to which the honorable member has referred, nor have I, during that short period, received any reports from the committee to which he refers. I will find out whether any information is available, and if there is I will pass it on to him.
– My question is directed to you, Mr. Speaker, in your capacity as chairman of the Joint House Committee. Will you inform honorable members whether it is proposed to spend £70,000 immediately on the repair of the roof of this building in order to prevent water from entering it? How does the committee propose to spend this money? Is it correct that it intends to make alterations which will block out further light and air from certain rooms? Will the committee supply honorable members with an estimate of the money spent during the last five years on the maintenance of the roof and other parts of Parliament House? Are all the alterations subject to the same inspection and approval by the health authorities as is the case with private buildings outside the Parliament?
– A great deal of research will be necessary in order to answer the honorable member’s Question. This research will be undertaken and the honorable member, and any other honorable member who wishes to have them, will be supplied with the facts.
– My question, directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, relates to the subject which he dealt with earlier this afternoon. I refer particularly to the problem of gang numbers and the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority order relating thereto. I ask the Minister whether he has studied this order, which is now causing industrial discontent on the waterfront, particularly in Melbourne. I ask him, when considering this matter, to strip his mind of any thoughts about communism. Does he agree with the principle that the employers should have the sole right of deciding how many men shall work on a particular task from day to day or, actually, from hour to hour? Will he disagree with the thought that the principle instanced touches upon the very kernel of complete casualisation of all work on the waterfront? Will the Minister intervene at the appropriate level with the object of at least suggesting that the right of deciding how many men shall work on a particular task from day to day or from hour to hour should be shared between the union and the employers on a port committee basis or by some other similar authority in order to try to reach a satisfactory solution of the trouble which now exists?
– The honorable member advances a very novel concept of the relations which normally apply between employer and employee. I do not know of any other industry in which the employer is not able to determine for himself the people whom he wishes to employ and the number required for a particular purpose. In an important respect, the waterside worker is given greater protection than applies to other sections of industry. Other sections of industry have award conditions which are prescribed and the employer must, of course, engage his labour in accordance with the terms of the award. This industry has a protection which goes beyond that, in that the Stevedoring Industry Authority acts, as it were, as a buffer between the employer and the labour that he engages.
– The authority is an ally of the employer.
– I think that that is a grossly offensive statement to make concerning, in the first place, the former chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Board, who either was appointed by the Leader of the Opposition when he was Attorney-General or was one of the trusted officers of the right honorable gentleman. I know that it is fashionable among some sections of the industrial movement to attack Mr. Shortell, a former president of the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council, but there are very many other staunch Labour men who uphold Mr. Shortell and regard him as a worthy member of the Labour movement.
As for Mr. Gibson, the representative drawn from the employers’ side, I have never known of any charge to be levelled from any quarter against his impartiality in the matters with which he has had to deal, either in his new capacity or his previous one. But I point out this to the House as an example of the attitude of the federation on this issue: It has insisted, through its representatives, when they have addressed the authority on this matter, that whether the work to be done on a particular vessel calls for eleven, twelve, thirteen or fourteen men, a minimum of fifteen men must be provided or else there will be industrial trouble. There is a phrase, “ featherbedding “, which is well known through the industrial world for this kind of practice. The level of costs of Australian transport, particularly on the waterfront, is so high at the present time that we cannot afford to have a continuance of “ feather-bedding “ of that kind.
– Can the
Minister for Primary Industry give an estimate of dairying production at the beginning of the 1958-59 season? How will it compare with production at the beginning of the season just closing, 1957-58? How is the state of production likely to affect the interim price received by dairy farmers, assuming that subsidy and prices here and in the United Kingdom remain the same? If butter production rises to 200,000 tons for 1958-59, as it has in the past, by how much will the interim price to producers be reduced, again assuming that the present United Kingdom price for butter remains the same, that the Australian price remains the same, and that the subsidy remains the same?
– The honorable gentleman will know that this is a technical and a complicated question. Production at the beginning of the next season will depend too much on seasonal conditions to permit me to give anywhere near accurate figures or even to hazard a guess. I think that the honorable member will know that some forecasts have been made that if there are good autumn rains there could be an increase in production of between 2,000 and 3,000 tons. Concerning the second point raised by the honorable member, in answer to a question asked in the House last week I stated that equalization was a matter for the equalization committee which always acted cautiously and that if present prices were maintained and if all other factors remained much the same as at present it could be expected that the interim price next year would not fall by more than Id. per lb.
– Is the Minister for Trade aware that almond-growers are suffering severe hardship because of the large quantity of almonds which is now imported into Australia, and which is flooding the local market? Will the Minister have inquiries made into this matter and, if necessary, take steps to protect our almondgrowers?
– I am aware that there is a problem of the kind mentioned by the honorable member. The honorable member for Barker has been active in asking questions on this matter and indeed, I think, in stimulating a request by the almond industry to have its problems considered by the Tariff Board. The circumstances of the Australian almond industry are at present the subject of a reference to the Tariff Board, which authority, I believe, is to take public evidence on the matter in the very near future.
– Has the attention of the Minister for External Affairs been directed to the flat refusal of Soviet bloc delegates to attend a Yugoslav Communist conference because of slight differences of opinion between the representatives of the two countries? Does this uncompromising attitude towards fellow Communists who hold different opinions militate against the prospects of success of a summit meeting? Has the Minister any information with regard to the growing doubt in the minds of Western leaders of the genuineness of Soviet Russia’s original proposal for a summit conference?
– It is well known, and commonly reported, that there are grave differences of opinion on policy between Soviet Russia and Yugoslavia. I think, if I may say so with respect, that there is something in what the honorable gentleman has said. I think we all realize that more is achieved by people who get on well together than by people who are at odds with each other.
– What a profound statement!
– We have evidence of the truth of my statement not very far away from us in this chamber. Certainly one would feel very much more optimistic of positive and useful results from a summit conference if there were better relations between the East and the West. But even in spite of known differences, known frictions and known lack of confidence between the iron curtain countries generally and the West, I still believe that it should not be impossible to achieve at least something of consequence by a summit conference. After all, it is not supposed that 100 per cent, of the matters at issue would be settled, but if only some part of them were settled it would be helpful and would constitute a start towards better things. As to the attitude of mind of the Soviet authorities towards a summit conference, anybody’s guess is as good as any one else’s, hut I cannot believe that any .man in his senses would not seek to reduce the tension that exists globally to-day.
– Does the Prime Minister agree with the recent .public statement by Mr. Reg Ansett that the imposition of a special tax on aviation kerosene used by Trans-Australia Airlines Viscounts was the only help his company had received from the Government in its endeavour to destroy the competition that Trans-Australia Airlines offers private enterprise in the field of civil aviation?
– 1 -am delighted to hear a question by my friend in the role of apostle of private enterprise in the airline industry. I am not aware of the statement made by Mr. Ansett, because I did not hear it, -but I am aware of -some of his views because I have received them through my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation. They are under consideration. It is, however, untrue to say - and I doubt, therefore, whether he said it - -that the tax mentioned represents the only assistance he has received.
– Ha, ha!
– Ha, ha! One would almost think the honorable member had received a free issue of prawns. Any one who is seriously interested in this matter - unlike our hilarious friend from somewhere or other - will -know that certain financial relations exist between the Commonwealth and Ansett-A.N.A. Every one knows that. Those financial relations have been mentioned publicly many times. They are well known. The honorable member, therefore, hardly needed to ask about them.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been directed to a recent decision in the United States of America to amalgamate the Federal -Civil -Defence Administration and the Office of Defence Mobilization there in order to increase the efficiency of the civil defence service? Some expansion of the already very considerable civil defence organization in the United States is now envisaged as a result of that move. Will the Minister inform the House when honorable members are likely to hear something of the nature of Australia’s preparations and plans in this vital defence field?
– I know that there has been a general review of the defence structure in the United States of America, including civil defence. From what I have .heard, it is rather interesting that the decisions that have been reached there are very similar to those that we have made in .this country. Honorable members opposite may laugh, but the plans are very similar. Our civil defence programme and plans have always been based on the strategic appreciation by the military authorities of the threats to Australia that may exist. Our planning will continue on that basis, and I can assure the honorable gentleman that those plans are being very carefully studied at present.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Some time ago, the right honorable , gentleman indicated that the Government .proposed to set up a committee of Cabinet to inquire into .the Public Service. Will the Prime Minister inform the House what progress has been made by the committee? Should the inquiry subsequently widen into a full-scale one with personnel other than members of the Cabinet and the Public Service Board, will the right honorable gentleman ensure that public service unions are fully represented?
– The Cabinet committee on this matter is dealing primarily with the functions to be performed by each department. A great deal of work has been done, and it is going on. I propose later this afternoon to make an announcement about some of the consequences of one action that has been taken, partly as a result of that committee’s work and partly as a result of the work of the committee presided over by Sir Leslie Morshead.
– Will the Minister for Primary Industry inform the House whether there are any butter and cheese manufacturers who, to the detriment of the industry as a whole, do not participate in equalization? If that is the position, can the Minister take any steps to bring all manufacturers within the compass of the Australian Dairy Produce Equalization Committee?
– This problem has been examined on numerous occasions and I think there are only two manufacturers who do not participate in the equalization scheme. The honorable gentleman will know that the Commonwealth Government has no constitutional power to ensure compliance with the equalization plan, but a subsidy is paid only to those producers who are, in fact, members of the equalization scheme. I think it can be stated, therefore, that for all practical purposes most producers are in the scheme. I think it can also be said that it is not substantially detrimental to the industry that the two producers I have mentioned are not members of the scheme.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Some weeks ago I put on the notice-paper a question seeking, through the Bureau of Census and Statistics, particulars, in certain categories, of the aboriginal population of Australia. The right honorable gentleman has informed me that the latest published figures of aboriginal population are -those that were published -on 30th June, 1946, eleven years ago. Will the Treasurer take action to ensure that aborigines are treated with the same respect, in the matter of counting and enumeration, as is accorded to the Australian Country party’s sheep and the Prime Minister’s horses?
– I shall bring the subject-matter of the honorable member’s question to the notice of the Commonwealth Statistician.
– I direct a question to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Is it a fact that the process for permanent pleating of woollen fabrics developed by the C.S.I.R.O. and known, 1 believe, as Si-Ro-Set, is not being as rapidly used by the woollen trade as it could or should be? What steps are being taken by the C.S.I.R.-O. to get this process rapidly into operation, so as to put wool on a competitive basis with rayon and other synthetic fabrics? In order to advertise permanent pleating throughout Australia, will the Minister consider the issue of a pair of Si-Ro-Set trousers to every member of the Federal Parliament?
– It is true that the SiRoSet process is a very considerable advance in respect of woollen fabrics, particularly against the competition of the synthetics. Steps are in train now to give increasingly great publicity to the merits of this new, simple and cheap system of durably pleating men’s and women’s garments. I shall certainly collaborate with the Prime Minister on the positive and constructive proposal that the honorable gentleman has made. I might even go beyond the honorable members of this House in the distribution of the sort of bounty of which he speaks.
– Can the Minister for Air say whether the Royal Australian Air Force had an opportunity to observe the atomic tests recently held at Christmas Island?
– Yes. The Royal Air Force, in this instance as in other instances, gave the Royal Australian Air Force opportunities to observe the aerial aspects of these tests, and the Royal Australian Air
Force was represented by one of its senior officers at the test which was announced to have taken place yesterday.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Has any portion of the money released by the central bank from special accounts been earmarked for home building purposes, or have any conditions been laid down by the Commonwealth Government? If not, in relation to any future release, will the Treasurer exercise the powers vested in him and the central bank to ensure that a reasonable proportion is so earmarked?
– I have previously explained the working of special accounts and releases. Consistent with the Government’s policy, it is a matter entirely for the banking system how it disposes of other people’s funds. The funds are not the banks’ own; they are the funds of their depositors.
– by leave - The House will recall that, when I made my statement on defence organization recently, I said that arrangements were in progress to amalgamate the Departments of Supply and of Defence Production into a single Department of Supply. By Executive Council action taken last week, that amalgamation is now complete. Henceforth, the Department of Supply will, in addition to its own existing functions, carry out the functions of what was formerly the Department of Defence Production, that department having been abolished.
My colleague, Mr. Townley, will continue to be Minister for Supply. There will be no major change in his administrative responsibilities, although he will relinquish responsibility for the Australian Aluminium Production Commission to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). Mr. Townley will continue his present ministerial duties under the single title of Minister for Supply instead of under his former dual title of Minister for Supply and Minister for Defence Production.
For the present, as I have announced, the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) will continue to act as Minister for Supply until Mr. Townley’s return from abroad.
The amalgamation of the two departments has resulted in a reduction of 64 positions, which means savings of £80,000 a year. These are chiefly administrative. The special “ Commonwealth Gazette “ recording the abolition of the Department of Defence Production lists the abolished positions. These savings are real, and, indeed, the reduction has already occurred, because, in anticipation of the amalgamation, the departments and the Public Service Board over the last few months have co-operated to avoid filling jobs as they fell vacant.
The savings to be gained in the administrative field from amalgamation are not extensive immediately, because a substantial degree of common service has always operated between the two departments, which were, as honorable members remember, one department some years ago. However, in other fields there will be other and larger savings. For instance, savings of the order of £100,000 a year should eventuate from the operation of combining the stores function, which is already under way.
Also, as I said in my earlier statement in this House, Cabinet has decided that the work of the Aircraft Maintenance Branch, formerly in the Department of Defence Production, should be limited to the allocation and planning of essential production and resources, leaving the Royal Australian Air Force to order directly from suppliers of services and spare parts. By this and other means, and by reducing the substantial store holdings, a saving of the order of £250,000 a year is expected.
Other economies can be expected to arise from unified control as the new organization shakes down and duplicated services are eliminated. We shall pursue these possibilities energetically.
These arrangements have coincided with the conclusion of a thorough-going reexamination of the functions of departments as expressed in the Administrative Arrangements Order. The Administrative Arrangements Order is a formal document of State. The Public Accounts Committee, which has devoted some useful attention to the order, understood this and expressed the view that the primary legal purpose of the order is to identify the Minister in whom a power is vested, and that the secondary legal purpose is to provide evidence, where necessary, in legal proceedings that the power has been exercised by the appropriate Minister.
The order has a history running back to the early days of federation. It was first issued in 1906, and the last general revision was made in 1951. The Constitution provides that the Governor-General may appoint Ministers to administer such departments of the Commonwealth as he may establish.
The statements which now appear in the second column of the order are simple in form, and are intended to indicate the general functions of each department, without being so specific as to appear to give authority to departments to carry out any functions without reference to higher authority.
Authorizations to carry out any part of these functions must be found elsewhere, as in specific legislation of this Parliament, or in government decisions supported by Appropriation Acts, or by the approval of funds by the Treasurer. This, also, the Public Accounts Committee recognizes in its report of 1953.
The third column of the order sets out, by departments, the administrative responsibility for Acts of Parliament. It will be kept up to date by regular amendments to indicate the administrative responsibility for new acts. Honorable members will note that in its new form the order adheres more closely to constitutional terms.
Furthermore, with a form of words so general, it will be necessary from time to time to make interpretations or to establish demarcation lines between the functions of departments. This is a function of the Prime Minister, and I shall carry it out by letter to Ministers as necessary.
His Excellency the Governor-General has approved the new Administrative Arrangements Order, which includes the enlargement of the functions of the Department of Supply. Copies are available for honorable members.
– by leave - I present the following paper: -
Inter-Parliamentary Union - 46th Conference held at London, September, 1957 - Report of Australian Delegation - and move - that the paper be printed. 1 ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
I have received a letter from the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) proposing that a definite matter of urgent public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -
The cessation, for reasons in some cases unstated and in most cases specious, of the live concerts which have been given, to the great pleasure of patients and staff and at negligible cost to the Commonwealth, at the Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, ever since the hospital opened early in World War II.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
.- Next Sunday will be the first Sunday for 40 years on which a live concert show for the patients and staff of the Repatriation General Hospital, Sydney, will not be presented. Forty years ago, such concerts were commenced at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, and when the new Repatriation General Hospital was opened at Concord early in the last war the concerts were continued there. On Sunday, 30th March, the amenities officer at the hospital announced that the last of these concerts would take place on Sunday, 27th April - two days after Anzac Day. On the following day, I sent a telegram to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) acquainting him of the announcement made by the amenities officer and asking him whether this decision was made with his authority and whether he was prepared to reveal the reason for it. On the following day he informed me by telegram that he would make inquiries and advise me fully by letter. On 15th April, he sent me an interim letter telling me that the decision was made by the Deputy Commissioner of the New South Wales branch of the Repatriation Department in the course of his administration, following consultations with his medical advisers. The Minister’s letter said -
I am having the question of the advisability of such entertainments examined, as a number of considerations are involved, including medical administration.
Last Monday, the Minister sent a long letter to me and to other members of the Parliament who had written him on this subject, setting out as his reasons excerpts from the report of the medical superintendent at the hospital, and the comments on that report by the senior departmental medical officer for New South Wales.
It is well to get this matter in its correct perspective. Many people think that it is an unusual thing that entertainments, such as live concerts, should be staged in a hospital. It should be sufficient to say that entertainment has been provided as part of the Repatriation Commission’s treatment in all its hospitals and sanatoriums as long as there have been such institutions. In New South Wales, admittedly alone among the States, there have been these live concerts every Sunday.
In case anybody is contemplating comparing these hospitals with other hospitals, Mr. Speaker, it is important to remember that the Concord repatriation hospital is by far the largest hospital in Australia. Also, it deals with a greater variety of patients and of medical problems, and has to have a greater variety of staff and techniques than any other hospital in Australia. Now we find that it is contrary to medical practice to continue for any further time these concerts which have always taken place, and that there are administrative problems attached to the continuance of them.
Let me say, firstly, what reasons were given by the medical superintendent of the hospital and relied on by the Minister for Repatriation. First of all, the medical superintendent says that most patients in the hospital are short-term ones, who are there for an average of three weeks, and those short-term ones, he says, do not need entertainment. The long-term ones, he says, come into various categories. Firstly, there are the tubercular patients. They are the most numerous, and they cannot watch these entertainments in a confined space. Then there are the non-tubercular patients, those who are dying, those who are senile, and maybe a dozen who are paraplegic. He says that only the dozen in the last group require or benefit from this form of amenity.
Then the medical superintendent goes on to say, Sir, that the hospital provides plenty of amenities, anyhow - that films are shown between 5.30 and 8.15 p.m., or occasionally 9 p.m.,. on Mondays and Fridays, in the entertainment hall where these live concerts take place, and that, on the other week days, 16-millimetre documentary films are shown in a theatrette. The first thing which one notes is that the only days on which the theatre and the theatrette are are not used for these amenities are at the week-ends.
In that connexion, one ought to consider both the patients and the staff. This hospital, like all repatriation hospitals, deals with the medical problems of ex-servicemen, war widows, and men serving in the forces,, over the whole of the State, and there are in the hospital a great number of patients from the remotest parts of New SouthWales. Their relatives cannot visit them at the week-ends, and they themselves cannot very well travel home on a leave pass. The week-ends are the most monotonous and the most trying times for them, and yet there is no entertainment whatever for them at those times.
Then I might refer to the position of the staff. One must remember that this hospital is further from transport and from the centre of the city than any of the public hospitals. It is not only the biggest hospital but also the most remote hospital in Sydney, or, in fact, in any of the State capitals. There are 150 or 200 trainee nurses. They have to be in bed by 10.30 every night except one night a week. There is an inspection to see that they are tucked in every night, and they have no prospect of going into town and seeing a live show or a film. Are they to be disregarded?
Then, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, the medical superintendent refers to the other entertainments which are provided. Three times a month, there is a band recital in the afternoon, and there are bowls, tennis, and mid-week visits by members of bowling clubs - -mid-week, but none at the week-end, it will be noticed. There are personal calls on hospital sessions over the radio, and patients can have wireless headphones in bed. Sporting gear and games sets are issued to patients. And there are two television sets - two television sets, Sir, to cater for more than 50 wards. One might well wonder what amusement, or entertainment, or education, is provided for patients in the 50 wards in the hospital by two television sets. After the announcement by Group Captain Waddy, who is a distinguished exserviceman, the head of the Air Force Association, and a former civilian member of the Air Board, that he had offered six television sets so that patients in the hospital could watch the Anzac Day march - and had been rebuffed - we now find that seven additional television sets are to be provided. There will now be nine television sets, as soon as they can be acquired, to use the Minister’s phrase, to cater for the patients in the 50 wards.
Now let me refer to this sporting gear - the bowls and cricket sets. If patients who are in the hospital on an average for three weeks do not need films or live concerts, they do not need bowls or cricket. They do not need any entertainment. By a parity of reasoning, we could do away with all amenities in the hospital. It is clear that the paraplegics cannot benefit from bowls and cricket, even if only they can benefit from films and live concerts. Paraplegics are the worst situated patients in the community; they should be denied no alleviation or amenity in their condition. After all, the Commonwealth has the responsibility for ex-service patients. It undertook that responsibility, and it has hospitals where they can be catered for. For forty years, they have been catered for in this way, and now we find that there is no medical advantage whatever in this treatment.
Then, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, the Minister relies on the comments made by the Senior Medical Officer of the Repatriation Commission in New South Wales - Dr. Saxby, who was formerly the medical superintendent of the Concord repatriation hospital. The quotations that the Minister makes from Dr. Saxby’s report do not refer to the medical problems so much as to the press and to protests made by ex-service organizations. It is well to get this in perspective also. Dr. Saxby is, as he is entitled to be, of course, a man of puritanical views. His attitude towards the theatre, as is well known, is that exemplified by Jeremy Collier. Not only when shows are put on at all, but especially when they are staged on Sundays, he is outraged. He may be entitled to take that attitude, but he is only too willing, as ex-service organizations and former patients of the hospital know, to implement restrictions. Since Dr. Taylor took over the hospital - I speak from a well-known fact - he has done his best to restrict the number of patients who can participate in the Anzac Day march, and people who take an interest in ex-service bodies in New South Wales know that those organizations have protested for some time at the restrictions he has instituted.
The Minister relies, finally, on his own observation. He went along to the final concert last Sunday - two days after Anzac Day. He said that of the people attending the concert 140 were patients and 60 were members of the hospital staff. It is well 10 point out, Sir, that no patient can attend a concert unless he gets a ticket - that is. unless he gets permission to go - and the patients who want to go, and who are eligible to go, have priority for the available tickets. The tickets that are left, if any, are available for the staff or for visitors to the patients. Every Sunday in every year, these concerts have been packed. There is no question that the patients and the staff have very much appreciated them, and it is to the honour of members of the theatrical profession that they have always visited this hospital whenever they have been on tour in Sydney. One cannot recall any theatrical visitor to these shores who has not made at least one visit to the Repatriation Hospital at Concord. It is a continuation of the patriotic services that those in the theatre have always rendered to servicemen on service and to servicemen suffering the effects of their service.
These are not just scratch shows being given a run in the provinces; they are performances by top artists, both Australian and foreign, who put on their established successes. They put them on without any charge. All it costs the Commonwealth is a cup of tea and, in1 the case of a large party, a bus to the nearest railway station. They have been good enough for 40 years and they ought to be continued.
I was minded earlier to raise this matter in the House, but I have not mentioned it in public at all. This is the first time that I have made any statement on it since I sent the initial telegram to the Minister on 31st March. He took his time about answering it. I suggest that his reasons are specious ones and in many cases they are unstated. He quotes Dr. Taylor’s phrase that the discontinuance of these shows is justified on three grounds. The first is that no real need exists for them. The second is that they interfere with the welfare of sick patients. I must say that I have never heard of any complaint by any sick patient about these concerts, but I have heard of very many complaints and have received many since the concerts have been discontinued. The third ground is that they aggravate certain administrative problems. What are these administrative problems? Are they the bus trips and the cups of tea on Sunday night? Is it some false sense of economy?
Protests on this subject have been made throughout New South Wales, and they have not been restricted to New South Wales. Two days ago, the federal executive of the Returned Servicemen’s League, meeting in Canberra, unanimously passed a motion proposed by the New South Wales president and seconded by the Queensland president in these terms -
That in view of the established practice of over 40 years standing of allowing live artist concerts at repatriation institutions in New South Wales, this executive protests against the recent cancellation of the concerts and asks the Minister to remove the embargo immediately.
The terms of that protest were communicated this morning by the New South Wales president and secretary to the Minister, who remained adamant - or stubborn. There is still time to resume these concerts before next Sunday. The bookings had been made for months ahead. They can be resumed without any dislocation whatever. The sudden cessation in this way shows no appreciation of the efforts of the theatrical profession over four decades and no consideration for the feelings of the staff and patients who are heartened and encouraged by this fine tradition.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– We are well accustomed in this House to matters, perhaps of some importance in their place, being exaggerated beyond all reason in the effect of their implication to the nation. We are well accustomed to one view-point being stated in the House, and sometimes in the press, and to the other side of the question not being properly stated. Those are matters to which we are accustomed and about which we do not complain.
I suggest to the House that we have not previously had raised as a matter of urgent public importance, a matter so circumscribed in its scope and so limited in its national importance as is this subject. I do not suggest for a moment that the wellbeing of the patients in the Repatriation General Hospital at Concord should not be considered. I know the hospital very well; it is very close to the electorate that I have the honour to represent in the Parliament. Like many other members of the Parliament, I have visited friends in the hospital, and I know a good deal about it. I do not suggest that I know the technical details, but I have a layman’s knowledge of the hospital and of the sick people - some extremely sick - who are patients in it. 1 am not at all unsympathetic to their needs or to their welfare, nor indeed can the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) be charged with a lack of sympathy for the needs of ex-servicemen. I remind the House that he has carried for many years the mark and the consequences of his service to the nation. Who in this Parliament is better qualified than is Senator Cooper to understand the needs, the disabilities and the misfortunes of those who suffered physically or mentally in war? No charge of lack of sympathy can lie against him, as this House well knows.
This question, I remind the House, has been brought forward by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) as a matter of grave national importance. Anybody listening to question time to-day would have heard of a matter of grave national importance that exists at the moment. I refer to the growing discontent that has been beaten up by extremists on the waterfront. A very grave danger to the economy has been created by Communist activities on the waterfront. The honorable member for Werriwa, by his education and his experience, is well qualified to take an interest in that matter, but does he do so? No! He takes up the time of the House for the greater part of an hour on a matter which he says is of grave national importance.
If 1 understand him correctly, he complains, amongst other things, of an affront to the theatrical profession. That is one of his reasons for bringing this subject forward as a matter of grave national importance. I do not think that calls for any more comment on my part. The honorable member has attempted to beat up a heart-rending case. But does it fit the facts? The answer is that it does not. This is a case of domestic administration of the affairs of the Repatriation Commission in New South Wales, and it relates only to the domestic administration of the Repatriation General Hospital at Concord. The decision to discontinue these concerts was made by the Deputy Commissioner of Repatriation for New South Wales as a result of view-points put to him by the medical superintendent of the Concord hospital through the senior medical officer of the Repatriation Commission in New South Wales. I believe that I can give a complete and satisfactory answer to the representations of the honorable member for Werriwa, but I need only repeat the complete and satisfactory answer that was given in the Senate yesterday by the Minister who is responsible for this matter. Although that complete answer was given yesterday, this matter is now raised as a matter of grave national importance, and it must be gone through again in this House.
I shall now give the reasons for the decision, and I shall quote what was said in the Senate yesterday. The medical superintendent of the hospital reported to the Minister that he considered the discontinuance of live artist shows was fully justified on various grounds. Those were, first, that no real need existed for them because this was a hospital for sick people, the vast majority of whom were unable to attend the live artist shows on Sunday nights. The second ground was that they interfered with the welfare of sick patients and caused unnecessary inconvenience to the nursing staff. What is the hospital for? Perhaps there would be some justification in the complaint of the honorable member for Werriwa if this were a home for permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen. But it is nothing of the sort. Such institutions exist in the community, and there would be strong grounds for providing weekly entertainment for the ex-servicemen living in those homes. But this is a hospital for the sick, and the medical superintendent says that these shows interfere with the welfare of sick patients and cause unnecessary inconvenience to the nursing staff. Does it need very much imagination to see how that might occur? I made inquiries to-day as to the commencing and finishing times of these shows. I am told that they begin shortly after 7 o’clock at night - either 7.15 or 7.30 - and that they end between 9 o’clock and 10 o’clock. Honorable members who have been patients in a hospital will know that silence is enforced in the wards early in the evening, and that rest is one of the prime considerations for patients. The medical superintendent of this hospital has held the view for a long time that these shows should stop for the reasons he has given.
I ask honorable members to bear in mind the difference between a hospital for sick people and a home for permanently incapacitated people. The whole of the argument on this matter has proceeded on the assumption that many patients in the hospital are able to get up and move about, attend shows in the hospital, and then return to bed. It is estimated that the 140 patients who attended last Sunday night’s performance came from 25 or 30 different wards. So it will be seen that the welfare of patients in 25 or 30 wards could be interfered with if they were disturbed by other patients returning from a show. That is one of the reasons advanced by the medical superintendent for the discontinuance of these shows.
The superintendent also said that the shows aggravated certain administrative problems. I shall indicate to the House one of those problems. This hospital has an amenities staff of four persons. A careful examination was made of their activities, to see what proportion of their time was devoted to various activities. A report was submitted to the Minister stating that 70 per cent, of their time was devoted to the preparation and conduct of these Sunday night live shows. So, in a hospital with more than 1,000 patients - many of them seriously ill, being patients who come, in the vast majority of cases, for treatment for short periods only - the amenities staff of four, charged with the duty of looking after 1.050 patients, spent 70 per cent, of their time in the preparation of a show the hold-, ing of which is, in the opinion of the medical superintendent, an interference with the proper conduct of the hospital in the interests of the sick people. That leaves them 30 per cent, of their time in which to attend to other duties for all the other patients who have no opportunity to go to the live shows. If that does not amount to an administrative problem, I should like to know what the honorable member for Werriwa thinks an administrative problem is.
– That is the poorest excuse you can make. The nursing staff is able to look after the patients.
– I was under the impression that the function of the medical and nursing staff of a hospital was to care for the sick, not to provide light entertainment. I have told the House the reason for the objection to the continued regular conduct of these Sunday night shows. They interfere with the welfare of the sick patients who cannot attend them, and they are in the interests of a very small percentage of patients. Another significant fact is that most of the protests about the discontinuance of these shows originate from the entertainers, not the entertained.
– Perhaps it is a Communist plot.
– No, I do not think it is. The Minister for Repatriation has pointed out that an analysis was made of the audience at last Sunday night’s show. As the honorable member for Werriwa pointed out, and I repeat this because I place a different emphasis on the figures, 250 people attended the show “ Brigadoon “ last Sunday night. Of that number only 140 were patients in the hospital. Nine of them were wheel-chair patients. The remaining 131 were walking cases. Some of them were about to be discharged and were waiting to leave the hospital this week. In addition to the 140 patients, the show was viewed by 60 members of the hospital staff.
– Do you object to that?
– No, I do not, but 1 do suggest that an interruption in the care of the sick is not justifiable by providing a show for the entertainment of the hospital staff when that hospital is situated in a great city, and when the people who work in the hospital are governed by the same industrial awards that apply to other hospitals. Why do honorable members on the other side of the House object to the discontinuance of these shows? Is it because entertainment is being denied to the hospital staff, or to patients in the hospital? For whom is the Opposition objecting?
– Both the patients and the staff.
– Does the Opposition suggest that the interests of the sick patients should be placed second to the interests of the staff? I hope not. In addition to the 140 patients and 60 members of the hospital staff who viewed the show last Sunday night, 50 visitors attended. Thus, out of a total of 1,050 patients in the hospital at the time, 140 had the benefit of this entertainment last Sunday night. Fifty visitors had the benefit of it, and the sick people in 25 to 30 wards had their rest interrupted by patients returning to the wards after the show. To my mind, these facts fully justify the action taken by the Repatriation Commission in this instance.
What did the Minister do? First of all, it was a domestic matter in the hands of the hospital administration itself and, over it, the Deputy Commissioner of Repatriation in New South Wales. Action was taken by the hospital administration on its own initiative. The Minister became aware of the situation when protests were raised, and he called for reports from the Deputy Commissioner of Repatriation in New South Wales, the senior medical officer for New South Wales, and the superintendent of the hospital. Having read those reports, he asked the advice of the Repatriation Commission itself. All three members of the commission unanimously decided that the action taken was correct. The commission consists of General Sir George Wootten as chairman, Mr. H. G. Roy as deputy chairman, and Mr. J. C. Neagle. Mr. Neagle owed his appointment to the fact that he was one of a panel of three names submitted by the federal body of exservicemen’s organizations in Australia. He is one of the three commissioners who have unanimously advised the Minister that the action taken by the hospital was correct.
Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- It is most interesting to note that possibly 75 per cent, of members on the Government side of the house are ex-servicemen. At this stage of the debate there is a mere handful of Government supporters in the House. Many of the ex-servicemen on the Government side of the House have distinguished war records. Most of them, fortunately, like myself, came through the war unscathed, but they show no interest at all in the welfare of ex-servicemen. Continually they raise the cry that they are ex-servicemen, that they fought and bled for this country and that they were brave and true soldiers. But time and again we find that when a matter is raised dealing with the welfare of ex-service men and women these ex-servicemen on the Government side are silent in their places. The honorable member in whose electorate the Concord ‘Repatriation General Hospital is situated is the ‘Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon), but not once has he raised his voice in protest .against this decision of the Repatriation Commission. This decision was mean, ;petty and paltry. It means nothing to the Repatriation Commission from an economic point of view.
The patients in the Yaralla hospital, as it .is also known, are in a different category from patients in other hospitals. They are men and women who were loyal and brave and prepared to go overseas to fight for Australia. To-day, they are suffering because of .their loyalty and bravery but this Government, which consists of 75 per cent, ex-servicemen, .is now standing idly by while the Repatriation Commission takes away from them an amenity which has been enjoyed by patients in this hospital for 40 years. It is beside the point to say, as the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) has said, ‘that only 140 patients attended the concert last Sunday. Many of these people are suffering severe disabilities. Many of them are from country towns and have mo friends or relatives ‘in Sydney to visit them. Unless they have something to occupy them, time lies heavily on their hands. Public feeling about -this matter, particu larly in ex-servicemen’s organizations, has been reflected in comments which have appeared in the newspapers during the last two or three weeks. Various representatives of ex-servicemen’s organizations have raised their voices in protest against the decision of the Repatriation Commission.
In the speech delivered by the Minister for Air a few moments ago, and also in the speech delivered in the Senate yesterday by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper), three reasons were given for this decision. The first was that no real need exists for these concerts; the second was that they interfere with the welfare of sick patients and cause unnecessary inconvenience to the nursing staff; and the third was that they aggravate certain administrative problems. Let us examine these reasons one by one. The first is .that no real need exists for these concerts. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) pointed .out that these concerts have been taking place at Yaralla each Sunday night for more than 40 years. It has taken the Repatriation Commission 40 years to decide that no real need exists for them. There were 250 people at the concert held last Sunday night, a large proportion of whom - I think the correct figure is 131 - were walking .patients whilst nine were in wheel chairs and were able to propel themselves to .the concert hall. Therefore, there was no need for any staff to look after these patients while they were at :the concert. The remainder of the audience at the concert comprised members of the staff of the hospital. Surely, those members of the staff are entitled to entertainment on Sunday night and to have continued similar entertainment such as has been provided weekly for the last 40 years. It is all very well for the Minister to say that only 250 people were present at that concert. He has stated that many of them were due to be discharged this week.
– There was not a vacant seat in the hall.
– The .honorable .member points out that there was not one vacant seat at that concert. That means that the 250 persons present represented the maximum number which could be seated in the concert hall. Those walking patients who had possibly spent ‘three weeks in hospital and were due to be discharged some time this week most likely had had no opportunity, during that period in hospital, to see any entertainment at all. As I said earlier, many of them were from the country and had no friends or relatives in Sydney to visit them.
Members of concert parties go to this hospital to give their services free for the entertainment of ex-service men and women patients there. But those artists are now to be prevented from giving further concerts. This Government and its supporters, who hold themselves up as being the saviours of the ex-servicemen, and when in Opposition said that nothing was too good for exservicemen and that the Government ought to do everything in its power to see that they were well looked after, now have completely changed their attitude. Government members who have repeatedly said that the Australian ex-service men and women deserve every consideration and sympathy now sit silently while the Repatriation Commission takes away an amenity which has been provided at this repatriation hospital for 40 years. No other form of entertainment is provided at the hospital on Saturdays and Sundays. The Minister outlined the entertainment that is provided, but it must be remembered that on Saturdays and Sundays no films are shown, and it now appears that no concerts will be provided on Sunday nights.
The second reason given by the Minister, quoting the superintendent of the hospital, was that the concerts interfere with the welfare of sick patients and cause unnecessary inconvenience to the nursing staff. Surely, it would be quite sufficient for an appeal to be made to those attending these concerts to remember the presence of sick patients and to show some consideration for them by not making a noise when they return to their wards. But even now we find, as the Minister for Repatriation has indicated, that these concerts will be held from time to time. If they interfere with the welfare of patients at this stage, surely they will interfere with the welfare of patients when they are held even on one or two Sunday nights a month. It will not matter one iota about the noise which is made on those occasions.
There must be some other reason for this decision. The Minister stresses the fact that soon, nine television sets will be in stalled in the hospital. I ask honorable members to consider the extent of the entertainment which nine television sets will provide in a hospital of more than SO wards in which there are 1,050 patients. A simple calculation shows that on the average there will be one television set for 118 patients. Many of the wards will not have a television set in them. Some of the patients in these wards will be walking cases, and if they want to see a television programme they will have to go to a ward where a set has been installed.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKEROrder! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Like the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne), I regret the fact that the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) has occupied the time of the House this afternoon in this debate. That is not because the matter is entirely unimportant, but because it has been dealt with, as I think all fair-minded people would agree, quite adequately in another place. I think that the explanation which has been given would satisfy any person with a reasonable mind.
Why, then, should we occupy the time of this House in debating what has already been sufficiently laid bare? No other repatriation hospital in Australia has live shows. They are not held at Greenslopes, or Heidelberg. Concord is the only place at which there are live shows. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) has made it perfectly clear that this ban is not a total one. He has made it clear that on occasion, in future, should a proposed entertainment be fitting, full consideration will be given to its being staged at Concord. So we are dealing with a matter that is by no means concluded - with a ban that is by no means complete.
I should like to deal with another misconception which has arisen from the offer of Group Captain Waddy - an offer to which I think reference has been made in this debate by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) and in the press. Let us be clear about this. Group Captain Waddy was acting as an intermediary for a commercial firm handling the distribution of television sets when he made his offer to the hospital to install six television sets.
The offer was not accepted as it was felt that, as the department intended to purchase further sets for the hospital and this was probably known by the firm concerned, it would be unwise to be under an obligation to a possible tenderer for the supply of sets. Therefore, the department hired sets at its own expense to enable the inpatients to view the parade. Honorable members will realize that patients were not deprived of the amenity that was offered and they will also realize that the department acted very correctly in not placing itself under an obligation to any firm.
Now I pass on to the matters that have been raised on the Opposition side of the House. First of all, it has been said that as this form of live entertainment has gone on for 40 years, why should it be altered now? My reply is that there are institutions that have gone on for 40 years and for hundreds of years that have, nevertheless, been altered. The party opposite has been in the forefront in altering things that have gone on for a very long time. If a thing is bad it should be altered whether it has gone on for 40 years or 400 years. I should have thought that I would have some support from the radical members of the Opposition in this matter.
But I argue the case on more concrete grounds than that. We live in a different day and age to that of 40 years ago. We have at our command forms of entertainment that did not exist 40 years ago. In particular, we have television. The Minister for Repatriation has made it quite clear that a great deal more will be done along those lines. We have at our command other forms of entertainment than existed 40 years ago and which may be more to the advantage and less to the detriment of patients in this hospital.
The honorable member for Werriwa also said that a number of members of the hospital staff enjoyed the live entertainment. No doubt they did. Nobody has any objection to their enjoying it except for this: Where their enjoyment cuts across the welfare of the very sick patients in the hospital the staff does not matter a tuppeny dump.
– What a shocking thing to say.
– Where the welfare of the staff interferes with the welfare of sick patients, the welfare of the staff is of no concern whatever to me. I am quite clear and emphatic about that.
– It has taken 40 years to find that out.
– If you had been listening earlier instead of talking you might have heard my argument on that point. Again, the honorable member for Werriwa said that there is no other entertainment in the hospital at the week-end and that these people will be left without entertainment unless they are provided with a live show. Of course, that need not be so. If the live shows are eliminated, other forms of entertainment which do not interfere with the health of the patients might well be considered.
Reference has been made to a resolution of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. I suggest that, when it passed that resolution the league did not have under its notice the report of the medical superintendent of the hospital, the report of the senior medical officer in New South Wales, and the opinion of the Repatriation Commission, including that of Mr. J. C. Neagle, a member of that commission. The league did not have the basis upon which to come to any conclusion that was of any great importance.
Again, it has been pointed out - and here I have some sympathy - that a number of patriotic citizens, either amateurs or professionals in the theatrical world, have been willing to give their services for what they believed to be the benefit of the patients of the hospital. That is a very laudable motive and I have nothing but praise for it. But I suggest that when people who desire to help somebody find out that that help is not advantageous, they should moderate their enthusiasm to be helpful because they may, in fact, be nothing but a hindrance.
As I have said, this matter has been considered by the superintendent of the hospital, the senior medical officer of the Repatriation Department in Sydney, the deputy commissioner in Sydney, the Repatriation Commission itself, and by the Minister for Repatriation, who visited the hospital last Sunday night and attended one of the performances. Therefore, it is rather unfair to refer to the Minister’s attitude as being that of an adamant and unsympathetic man. He has had reports on this case which I will not weary the House by quoting because they have already been quoted in another place and appear in “ Hansard “. It is perfectly obvious that, in the interests of the really sick patients at this hospital, these entertainments should not go on.
The Minister pointed out that the patients returned to 25 or 30 wards after the entertainments. Any ex-serviceman who was in a robust state of health during the war and who recalls the late return of people into his hut or tent will know what such a disturbance means. I ask honorable gentlemen to imagine what it must mean to have people coming in late at night when a really sick person has to sleep. Rest is of enormous importance to those persons and they should not be awakened by somebody coming in. Those are the grounds upon which this action has been taken. It is perfectly clear from the medical reports that that is so. The Minister has made a right decision. The Minister has given the utmost consideration to this case and he himself, from his own personal experience, has every reason to know the suffering and the hardships of those who have been maimed by war.
In conclusion, let me point out another fact that has not yet emerged in the debate. This theatre has seating accommodation for 500 people. During the last three weeks, I am informed, the attendances have been 177, 210 and 250 respectively. The Minister visited the theatre on the occasion on which 250 were present. Of that number, only 140 were patients. Of those patients, nine were orthopaedic cases, and 131 were walking cases; and of the 131 walking cases a number, probably the majority, were patients who were ready for discharge. The live shows cater for a very small number of people. That would not conclude the matter but for the fact that the entertainment of that small number of people means grievous disadvantage to a very large number of people. Therefore, the few must accommodate themselves to the needs of the many.
.- Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Osborne) put -
That the business of the day be called on.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker - Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 29th April (vide page 1260).
Clause 5 (Appointment of Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Acting Chairman).
.- The most significant aspect of clause 5 is that it provides for the appointment of a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board. In introducing the bill the Minister said that among amendments designed to speed up the board’s inquiries is the proposal in clause 5 of the bill that one of the members of the board be appointed deputy chairman. He went on to say that honorable members know that the board normally divides up into two committees, and that this proposal would allow the chairman of the board to be chairman of one committee, and the deputy chairman of the board to be chairman of the other committee. He also said that the deputy chairman could act in the chairman’s place in the case of absence on leave or illness of the chairman.
On the face of it, there appears to be some advantage in the appointment of a deputy chairman, but the Minister said nothing about the practice that has been followed by the board up to the present time, whereby the chairman appoints one of the board members to act as chairman of the second committee. I understand that this procedure has proved very successful, and that it has given various members of the board experience in acting as chairman. It has also given them a somewhat improved status. In short, it appears to be a successful procedure, and it has met with the approval of board members.
I have already pointed out that it does not appear that the Minister had any consultation with the board before introducing this legislation. He has not told us whether members of the board approve of the old procedure or whether they prefer the proposed system. I think the Parliament is entitled to some further explanation as to why the existing procedure, under which a member of the board is appointed to act as chairman of a committee, is to be departed from.
One possible reason for this proposed appointment - and one to which the Minister has made no reference - is that it may be thought desirable to create a new office to be occupied by one of the board members. We know that there are some fairly senior members of the board, and that the position of deputy chairman may be considered somewhat of a consolation prize for the member who is appointed to it. I raised this aspect of the matter yesterday and asked the Minister whether it was likely that an increased salary would be provided for the deputy chairman. So far the Minister has given us no information on that point. I would like to know, therefore, whether the Minister considers the present system, under which members of the board alternate as committee chairmen, an unsatisfactory one, and, if so, why he considers it unsatisfactory. I would also like to know whether the appointment of a deputy chairman involves the creation of a new office with an increased salary and an improved status. Although I mentioned these matters yesterday, the Minister has, so far, given us no information regarding them, and I ask him whether he can give the information to the committee now.
– In my second-reading speech and again last night, I explained the point that has been raised by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). If I can make it more lucid, the explanation is this: Under the present arrangements and those contemplated by the Parliament, the Tariff Board meets in two committees. It is not two boards. There is only one chairman of the board. While the board can sit, having a quorum, in two separate committees, it cannot reach a final conclusion except in the presence of the chairman. Evidence can be heard and progress made, but the chairman must be present to bring the matter to finality. Therefore, the Government and the Parliament has done two rather contradictory things - they have enabled the board to work twice as fast as a board, but have preserved the bottle-neck of the chairman through which both sections of the board must act.
Experience has shown that with the necessity to expedite the conclusion of Tariff Board hearings, it is desirable to enable the two committees of the board to operate to conclusion by establishing, through this measure, a state of affairs in which a committee of the board can act, having a quorum, as a board under the chairmanship of the chairman, and another committee of the board can act quite separately to finality under the chairmanship of a deputy chairman.
– That could not be done before?
– No. There was not an office of deputy chairman. There was a de facto chairman of the committee of the board, but he had no statutory position; and there was no statutory right to bring the matter to conclusion in the absence of a chairman and without appointing an acting chairman who clearly could not be appointed if the chairman were in Australia and available and not ill. That is the total explanation.
As to whether the deputy chairman, having full responsibility, may get some additional emolument, as the honorable member has suggested, naturally I am not in a position to give an answer. If a reasonable case were made for such a provision, it would go through the ordinary procedures for consideration by the Public Service Board and the Treasury as well as the Department of Trade, and if it were thought appropriate and did not establish a precedent, no doubt something would be done; but I am not pre-judging that proposition now.
.- On behalf of the Australian Labour party, I have the gratification of being able to say to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), “ We told you so when these matters were being debated previously “. On that occasion, provision was made by way of amendment to shear the board into two parts, but they were still to operate under one chairman. We indicated then that, while an attempt was being made to overcome the back-log of work, the arrangement would break down because there was a bottleneck in that everything would have to be sifted through one chairman. It would seem that the Opposition’s prophecy has been borne out in practice.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 (Duties of the Chairman).
.- The Opposition proposes to vote against clause 6, not necessarily against every provision of it but as a token of objection to what is basically involved; that is, that an attempt is to be made to make the chairman specifically responsible for the administration and general working of the Tariff Board. We believe that that would be wrong in principle. The proper orderly conduct and efficiency of the business of the board ought to be a matter for the board as a whole and should not be regarded as s duty of the chairman. I suggest that honorable members should read this clause in the negative sense that might be implicit in it; that is that, apart from the responsibility of the chairman as set down in this clause, the implication is that the board otherwise would be inefficient and disorderly in its conduct were it not for this machinery amendment. It is obvious that this provision places the remaining members of the Tariff Board in a very invidious position. I do not want to labour the point because the Opposition raised it in some detail last night during the second-reading debate, but it would appear that this is the principal amendment now being made. Other matters are ancillary to it. But this appears to be an attempt to establish, as it were, a sort of hierarchical set-up in the functioning of the Tariff Board.
As was pointed out last night, the board is essentially an administrative device or technique for doing something that we believe is better done this way than through normal departmental channels; but it would seem that in some respects the chairman of this board is to be regarded as a sort of permanent head of the board itself with functions distinct from those of the other members of the board. We have accepted the practical position that in certain situations, it is perhaps just as well that the chairman should have the initiative in calling meetings. To my mind, that is just a mechanical side of the operation and, in fact, that provision is already in the principal act. But when we consider other sides of the proposition, we find that it is to be a duty of the chairman - to ensure the efficient and orderly conduct of the business of the board.
This provision is also included in clause 6 as part of the duties of the chairman - to determine the form of the records of meetings of the Board to be kept in accordance with this Act and the procedure to be adopted at such meetings.
I suggest that it is presumptuous to thrust such a duty upon the chairman. That is a matter for the board sitting as a board, and presided over by the chairman, to determine for itself. Again, there may be some administrative difficulties involved in this further proposition in clause 6 relating to the duties of the chairman - to determine which members shall take part in a particular inquiry by the Board;
That, of course, gets down to the question of two boards or committees. Apparently, the chairman is to be charged with seeing which members out of the seven or eight who will be on the board shall deliberate upon subject A, and which shall deliberate on subject B. Again, I suggest that this might be better left flexible so that the board members as a whole can determine among themselves who will sit on particular inquiries. The implication here is that you are more likely to get trouble from members of the board than from the chairman. That might have been the experience in the past, but there is no guarantee that it will be the experience in the future. I know that the past chairmen of the board have been very capable men, and I have every confidence in the gentleman who was appointed recently as chairman of the board; but I still think the Government is fracturing, as it were, the assumptions on which the board is established when it attempts to give to the chairman these superior powers in relation to the functioning of the board, as distinct from its day-to-day executive acts. He will have greater authority in this direction than any other member of the board. I prefer the existing provision, which is to be found in section 11 of the existing act. It is as follows: -
Subject to the regulations, the Board may hold sittings in any part of the Commonwealth in such place or places as it may deem most convenient for the transaction of its business or proceedings, and shall keep minutes of its proceedings in the prescribed form.
That places the responsibility centrally upon the board as a whole and not upon the chairman alone. For those reasons, upon which other members of my party may elaborate, we propose to vote against clause 6.
.- This is undoubtedly the most important clause in the bill. The Opposition, in deciding to oppose the clause, has given very careful consideration to its effect, which will be to strengthen immeasurably the power of the chairman of the Tariff Board. We believe that some addition to the law is most necessary to produce conditions in contrast to those which have existed up to the present time, but that the most desirable course to adopt is to put into the law a system which will give the real power to the members of the board and not to the chairman. In saying this, I speak for the Opposition, I think, as well as for myself. We have confidence that the board has an excellent chairman at the present time. I have no reason, and I have never heard of any reason, for believing that the chairman would misuse any of the powers proposed in clause 6, but, speaking for myself, I believe that the former chairman of the board was inclined to misuse such powers. I believe that he was a man who recognized his own ability, as apparently did other people, and that over many years in the Public Service he had a record of liking to get his own way. I believe that wherever we create a situation, such as the Government proposes to create in this instance, a man of that type can improperly use the powers that are vested in him.
The proposed powers are quite extensive. I shall deal in a moment or so with the qualifications stated in proposed section 8 (2.). The chairman is empowered in paragraph (a) to convene meetings of the board at times and places deemed most convenient. I do not think that any one could find much fault with that. Meetings of the board must be convened by some one person and it could not be any one other than the chairman. But paragraph (b) contains power to determine the form of the records of meetings and the procedure to be adopted. Such a power should not rest in the chairman, I believe, but in the board. Paragraph (c) is akin to (a). The power referred to there should, no doubt, be in the hands of the chairman.
Paragraph (d) refers to power to direct and control travel by members in connexion with their duties. That is a most extensive power. Here we have a board consisting of members who are appointed by this Parliament and who can be removed only by the Governor-General in Council. Their travel in the course of their inquiries is to be controlled by one of their members, the chairman of the board. I do not think that common sense or anything else suggests that that kind of practice should be adopted. I believe that the Minister and others on the Government side who have spoken have recognized the powers proposed to be placed in the hands of the chairman by the paragraphs to which I have referred. Their answer is that proposed section 8 (2.) provides that the power of the chairman under certain of these paragraphs shall be exercised, as far as practicable, only after consultation with the members.
We are faced with this position: We either give the powers to the members of the board, or we give them to the chairman. The Government has chosen to give the powers to the chairman. If the Government wants to achieve the situation which proposed section 8 (2.) seems to indicate, and to give some say in affairs to members of the board, why does it not give that say in the first place, and leave to the chairman the kind of powers he needs to exercise his office, which, broadly speaking, he has had up to date? But no; the Government has put it the other way round, giving power to the chairman, and then saying that as far as practicable he shall consult with members of the board.
In practice, what does “as far as practicable “ mean? My belief is that in respect of the differences of opinion in the board over the last two years, in not one instance would it have been found practicable for the chairman to consult with members of the board beforehand. This provision gives the chairman power, on any matter on which he does not consult with members, to say that it is not practicable to consult. Who will settle the issue if the chairman takes that position and the other members disagree? The Minister has refused, time and time again over the last two years, for reasons that seemed sound to him, to intervene in these matters. There have been approaches to the Solicitor-General for opinions on issues of this sort, but they have not been obtained. If in the future an issue arises as to the meaning of “ as far as practicable “, who will settle it? Will there be that endless exchange of correspondence, the overlooking of a signature to a letter for two months, and a further two months’ delay when eventually the letter is signed? I suggest that if the experiences of the last two years are looked at in the context of this section, it is clear that this is a bad section. I should like to hear what some of the constitutional experts on the other side have to say, but they have remained extremely silent throughout this debate. I refer to those honorable members who speak in terms of the principle of liberty and the proper conduct of democratic meetings. Throughout this debate there has been an amazing silence upon this matter.
There are one or two other disturbing features of this clause, which I think justify the action of the Opposition in opposing it.
I should like some enlightenment from the Minister on the provision in the proposed section 9a (2.) that -
A member other than an acting, member shall not engage in paid employment outside the duties of his office.
What is this provision supposed to achieve? Is is supposed to achieve a degree o£ independence? Is it expected that if a member of the board is an employee, in some way he will be less independent, or less unbiased? Does “ employment “ extend to being a grazier or to running a business, or is the provision to apply only to a person who is in the position of an employee? What does “ paid employment “ mean? If the provision is intended to apply only to an employee, why should an employee be discriminated against, in contrast with a man who may have extensive financial, commercial, or industrial interests which may influence his behaviour on the Tariff Board? I should like the Minister to give me some enlightenment upon that point.
Another provision that I find disturbing is that which states -
A member shall be paid such allowances (if any) as are determined by the Minister after consultation with the Public Service Board.
Section 8 (1.) of the act provides -
A member shall be paid salary and travelling allowance at such rates (if any) as the GovernorGeneral determines . . .
The proposed change is designed to take away that power from the GovernorGeneral - in effect, the Executive Council - and to vest it in the Minister. What is the reason for this? I might say that it is an embarrassment for me to find a responsible member of the board taking a position which is in direct conflict with the answers given to me in the House by the Minister. Last night, just before the adjournment, I raised the question of the dissimilarity of the treatment with regard to travelling expenses accorded to the chairman of the board and that accorded to Mr. Albert Date. The Minister answered that by saying that there was no difference in treatment. I have been assured by the member of the board concerned that he has communicated with the Minister during the course of the day and has told the Minister that the Minister’s statement last night was incorrect - that there is a difference in treatment between himself and the chairman of the board in regard to travelling expenses.
This goes back, I know, to the circumstances of the appointment, in 1954, of the member of the board concerned. There has been a considerable exchange of correspondence in relation to this, I am assured by the Minister. When that member of the board was appointed in 1954 he was residing in Sydney, and there was nothing implicit, or explicit, in relation to his appointment, to provide or suggest that he reside anywhere else.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I support, in their entirety, the remarks made by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). Perhaps I may elaborate on them slightly. Clause 6 of the bill reads, in part, as follows: -
It is the duty of the Chairman . . .
to convene meetings of the Board at the times and places which he deems most convenient for the conduct of the business of the Board;
I remind the committee that I suggested last night, in the House, that that is entirely practical and sensible in relation to the convening of an initial meeting; but the invariable practice of committees and of all sorts of boards is that after the initial meeting, or after a meeting which is the first held following a long period when there has been a break in the work of the body concerned, the times and places of ordinary meetings are not necessarily determined by the chairman, but by the board or other body itself. If that procedure were not followed the body concerned would become a mere cipher insofar as power to decide the times and places of its own meetings were concerned. The power to make the decision would reside only in the chairman. In the present case, if this provision becomes law, that power will reside in the chairman of the Tariff Board. It will, of course, be subject to the provision contained in proposed new section 8 (2.) that the power of the chairman to convene meetings of the board - shall be exercised, as far as practicable, only after consolation with the members.
Now, the right or responsibility to interpret the words “ as far as practicable “ also resides entirely in the chairman who, in certain circumstances, may become entirely unreasonable. In such a case the board would be robbed of the benefit of the general common sense of its members other than the chairman. Surely that is a strange state of affairs. The hypothetical situation I have mentioned is perhaps a remote possibility, but it is a possibility. Let us look at it in relation to the present case.
Here we have practically a new set-up. Only recently a new chairman has been appointed to the Tariff Board. The chairman necessarily convenes the first meeting of the board following his appointment. He may convene it at Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane or such other place as he deems most convenient or as he wishes. I should think that, as a matter of courtesy, the procedure in relation to subsequent meetings would be that the board, having before it proposals for certain inquiries and having cogitated for half an hour or twenty minutes on the question of the most convenient place for the next meeting, would decide where the meeting was to be held. Such a procedure would be pretty well in accordance with the provision in proposed new section 8 (2.) that, as far as practicable, the chairman shall determine the times and places of meetings only after consultation with the members. But let us assume that the opinion of the chairman differed from the collective opinion of a majority of the members as to the time and place of a meeting. The majority might decide that the next meeting should be in Perth the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) last night mentioned the desirability of the board’s meeting in Western Australia but the chairman might not think it desirable to meet in Perth, and could veto the proposal of the majority of the members that the meeting be held there. He might say, “ I have carried out the legal provision regarding consultation with the members of the board, as far as practicable. I have consulted with you, and you suggest that Perth is the most suitable place for our next meeting. I have decided that we shall meet in Sydney, or Canberra “.
Such a situation could very easily arise, and it would put the members of the board in the position of being mere ciphers. It would set the chairman up as a petty dictator, although he might be the last man in the world to want to be in such a position.
It is of no use for the Minister or any other honorable member of this House to tell me that petty dictators do not arise from time to time. Sometimes they arise as a result of some inherent quality in a man’s nature; sometimes because, unknown to many people, he is the victim of a developing illness. I remember an occasion in Victoria, during the economic depression of the 1930’s, when a certain high official, who was the responsible authority whose signature was necessary to enable the payment of salaries to Victorian public servants, suddenly had a brain storm. He was mentally ill. He decided that he would not sign the necessary document, and it took a great deal of persuasion by some very influential people in Victoria to get him to sign it so that on the following day Victorian public servants could be paid. After that, the Victorian Government, realizing the danger in the procedure that then had to be followed, altered the act that permitted that dangerous situation to occur.
I admit that as dangerous a position as that could not arise under the legislation now before us, but over a period of time the power which the bill proposes to vest in the chairman could lead to a rather undesirable state of affairs, as a result of which the other members would be placed in a very invidious position relative to the chairman. The ideal underlying the Tariff Board is that its members shall work in the greatest harmony.
Sub-section (b) of proposed new section 8 (1.) provides that the chairman is to have the power - to determine the form of the records of meetings of the Board . . .
Again, the chairman is to be the dictator, if he so wishes, in that respect. Normally, at a meeting of such a body, the chairman would suggest that certain records be kept, that the names of those present be recorded in the minutes, as well as the periods for which they individually attended the meeting. In addition, he would suggest the recording of the nature of the business transacted, and ask whether the members desired the records to be in a condensed :form or an extended form. The chairman of this board should not have the power to decide finally the form that the records of its meetings shall take. He may have his own opinion, quite sincerely and quite properly, regarding what the nature of the records to be kept should be; but his opinion may be quite wrong. No doubt he would submit to his colleagues his proposal regarding the nature of the records to be kept. The people who will be appointed to this board will be men of high quality, and any of them might be much more competent than the chairman himself to decide what the nature of the records to be kept should be. In such circumstances there might arise, in the mind of the chairman, resentment that some member of his board knew more about the keeping of records than he did and had a much clearer idea of what form the records should take. One would not expect such a feeling of resentment to arise, but it could. The chairman might then say, “ Your suggestion is all right, but I have another proposal, which will be the one to be adopted “. That would be a most unhealthy state of affairs, and would be conducive to the creation of disharmony.
It is quite apparent that in recent months there has been disharmony on the Tariff Board. I do not know who is to blame; but, for goodness sake, do not let this Parliament adopt a proposal that could be at the root of further disharmony in an instrumentality which, above all, should be so situated in regard to its charter that it would be almost impossible for a state of affairs such as that ever to develop again. That is the way I look at it, Mr. Chairman, as a matter of party politics. It does not matter very much to one political party, or to another, how the Tariff Board is constituted. Everybody in this Parliament is anxious that it should work for the good of the country. It has worked for the good of the country in the past, and we do not want to make any fatal mistakes now. Unless the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) indicates that proposed section 8 is to be amended, the Opposition will reluctantly be forced to vote against it.
I turn now to the point that was so well made by the honorable member for Yarra. Sub-section (2.) of proposed section 9a provides -
A member other than an acting member shall not engage in paid employment outside the duties of his office.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– As no other honorable member has risen, I shall take my second period now. If I interpret that provision correctly, a member of the Tariff Board other than a member of the Public Service will be completely debarred from obtaining an income except from his emolument as a member of the board. A member of the board who was formerly a public servant, of course, has his Public Service job in reserve, but a person appointed to the board from the ranks of wage-earners in industry will no longer be allowed to engage in paid employment.
– Appointments to the board are made for a period of only five years.
– As my friend and colleague has pointed out, appointments are made only for the very short period of five years. The point made by the honorable member for Yarra was that a member of the board who was a wage-earner cannot earn any wages while he remains a member of the board, but a member who was a large shareholder in a great industrial concern could still obtain an income from his shareholding.
Under the authority of this Parliament, there have been constituted certain authorities the members of which are required to divest themselves of their interests in a Darticular industry, as T am sure the Minister will agree. If a man who. prior to his appointment to the Tariff Board, was an employee earning wages or salary is prevented from engaging in paid employment in his former occupation, surely it would be fair to debar other people from retaining a pecuniary interest in industry, or the like. I think that this House has recently considered measures providing - I forget the exact terms - that no person who holds a financial interest of more than a certain sum total in any financial or industrial organization shall be a member of an authority constituted under such measures. Unless something of the kind is done with respect to the Tariff Board, it will be unfair to debar a person from taking paid employment outside the duties of his office as a member of the board. I do not think that a member of the board should have outside paid employment, but whatever restriction is applied should apply to every one.
– But a public servant should be allowed to have shares in a company.
– I did not say that he should not. A public servant may, perhaps by virtue of a fortunate inheritance, have a very large shareholding in some company engaged in an industry with which the Tariff Board may be required to deal. In that case, provision such as I have mentioned should be in existence with application equally to board members who came from the ranks of workers in industry and to board members who were directors of businesses. The Minister should clarify this matter and inform the committee whether any discrimination or differentiation is to be allowed.
.- Proposed section 8 of the principal act deals with the duties of the chairman of the Tariff Board in connexion with the administration of the board, and I have not the slightest doubt that the draftsman considered that, in drafting the proposed section as it stands, he was providing a method by which the board could function reasonably. I have not the slightest doubt that this provision will operate reasonably if the chairman is able to work well with his fellow members, but that all depends upon the constitution of the board, upon the chairman himself, and upon his disposition and that of the other members. The fact is, as has been clearly and cogently pointed out in the debate on this measure, that dictatorial powers are in fact being conferred upon the chairman. Although he may consult with his fellow members - and, if it is practicable, he should do so, but, as to that, he shall decide - he is not bound in any way to accept their views.
I have no doubt that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), in putting this bill before (he Parliament, has had in mind that the Tariff Board should function satisfactorily. Whether or not he has contemplated that the chairman is being given dictatorial powers, I do not know. I should like to hear from the Minister whether heis prepared to give the chairman such dictatorial powers. If, with that well in mind, he considers that this is a proper provision, I should be prepared to support him, because his experience in this field is much greater than mine. I should certainly like- to know whether the chairman is intended to have those dictatorial powers, because, if he is not, proposed section 8 should be recast.
.- I think it is right to say that proposed section 8, which will enable the chairman of the Tariff Board to manage the arrangement of the affairs of the board - I do not say that it will enable him to manage the activities of the board - is not unrelated to the circumstances of the last year or two, and I do not mind saying that openly. The Tariff Board exists for the purpose of advising the Government and the Parliament on what protection ought to be accorded to individual Australian industries. That is its entire raison d’etre. It has no other purpose. It is not constituted for the purpose of deciding what is to be done in, for example, the tractor, textile, or peanut industries. It is not a debating society. If the board overoccupied its time in procedural debates, that would be a clear negation of the purposes for which it exists, and it would very seriously subtract from its efficiency.
The membership of the board comprises seven - and it is proposed, temporarily, eight - persons. The whole concept is that the board should have the very maximum degree of independence, and should not be subject to day-to-day influence, let alone direction, by the Minister, the Department of Trade, the Treasury, or any one else. It must have the maximum degree of independence. So, once the basis of the board’s existence and its functioning is determined, it is, in my mind, highly important that there should not be reserved any idea that, if it does not work in a manner satisfactory to the Minister, the Minister will intervene and pull it into gear. That would be the very last thing that I would wish anybody to have in mind.
– The Minister would prefer the chairman to do that.
– Not at all. I want the board to be completely free. There is no doubt that, with the present composition of the board, there would be an unending procedural debate on forms of record, the time and place of meetings, travel, and so on.
When I last answered a question in this House with respect to Mr. Date, I was accused of engaging in a personal attack on him. I have no intention of doing that, but I think it is right to say that this whole thing is not unrelated to the matter concerning Mr. Date. The fact that his independence as a member of the board is so well protected that he cannot be removed from office - nor can any other member of the board - except upon a resolution of both Houses of the Parliament, establishes the permanency and the serious intention of his appointment.
– Until the end of this year.
– For the period of his appointment. “ Cannot be removed “ were my words; his appointment will expire in due course. He has addressed correspondence to me as the Minister, to the permanent head of the department, to the Prime Minister, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to the Solicitor-General, to the GovernorGeneral and to goodness only knows who else. The correspondence that has come before me, I should think, now covers no fewer than 170 communications. Not one of them has been about a matter of substance before the Tariff Board, but every one of them has been about an issue in which he has felt that his rights were impaired or were not properly recognized, that his allowances were not adequate and so on.
Translate that preoccupation of mind to a debate on these matters in the Tariff Board on an occasion when procedures were being arranged and I think any reasonable man would believe that a completely disproportionate amount of the time of the Tariff Board would in those circumstances be directed to matters of individual concern to a member of the board as distinct from the direction of. the board’s activities, as desired and intended by the Parliament, towards the question posed to it, which is the question of protection for a particular Australian industry. It is to avoid that in a fair, reasonable and commonsense manner that I recommended to the Government and now, with the authority of the Government, recommend to the Parliament the proposal that the chairman should be charged with the responsibility to make the appropriate arrangements on procedural matters.
The suggestion has been made that the chairman should make the arrangements mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (b) of proposed new section 8(1.) only after consultation with the members of the board. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), a very experienced member, has said that he thinks that the matter mentioned in paragraph (c) might properly be left to the chairman. I shall read the words of paragraph (d). They are -
To direct and control travel by members in connexion with their duties.
– He has full power in paragraph (c). We were concerned with paragraphs (a) and (b).
– I know, but I am saying - I hope that I am not misquoting the honorable member for Lalor - that the honorable member said he thought it was proper. The provision in paragraph (d) that the chairman has power to direct and control the travel of members is not an indication that the chairman shall treat these dignified and important people as school children or juveniles in directing their travel. What it means is that, if a member feels that he would like to go to Perth or Maryborough to inform his mind on a particular point, he shall not be completely free to do so. The Parliament almost every day evidences to me a desire that some particular issue of protection should be treated with urgency. The possibility of treating an issue with urgency could be destroyed if members were to travel indiscriminately to distant States to inform their minds. I am sure that this arrangement is acceptable to the board members. Instead of a formal board meeting being held to decide whether Mr. Jones ought to go to Sydney this week, the chairman, as a sensible and reasonable man, will arrange it. That is all that is intended.
I shall now inform the Parliament of one thing that I have not previously mentioned. Before the challenge to this arrangement was made in the Parliament, I informed the new chairman of the Tariff Board, of course, of the character of the intended legislation. I told him, as the Minister speaking to him formally in the presence of the permanent head of the Department of Trade, that if, in the course of his exercise of the authority given in the proposed new section now under discussion, he should fall into disagreement with members of the board, then he would be expected to inform the Minister of the day that there was a disagreement on those issues between the chairman and the members. I said that we had no desire to go further than that. We are anxious that the autonomy of the board should be preserved untrammelled, but, if a disagreement of substance occurred on these issues, then I am sure that the basis of it would be brought back here for correction. In the meantime, I am convinced - I say this seriously - that this is the best commonsense approach and I think it will work.
There is ample historic precedent for allowing a certain informality, even in the highest councils of government. As a layman, I remind the House that, in the judicial atmosphere of the Arbitration Court, which deals with matters of great importance, the court is not required by statute to make its decisions on the basis of law or necessarily of evidence; the court is to inform its mind and reach its conclusion. I think that the legal members of the House will support me in that statement. Nothing could be more informal than that, nothing could be wider and, if honorable members like, nothing could give greater scope for abuse, if we import into our imaginings the terrible things that could conceivably happen. But they do not happen in groups of responsible people. The whole history of administration shows that it is smoother, more effective and more efficient if it is left untrammelled and free from constricting and precise regulations and arrangements. History also shows that, if there is any abuse or inefficiency, it is corrected pretty quickly. I hope that the House will agree, on those assurances, to accept the clause as it stands.
I turn now to other issues that have been raised. I shall deal with the question of paid employment. The words “ paid employment” are not altered by this bill.
– We do not question that. We merely ask whether it is a fair provision.
– I quite understand. I must try here to guess what was in the minds of previous parliaments which approved of this provision. All I can say is that it would be impossible to say to members of the Tariff Board, “ You must not have any investment of your own, be it farm, shop, shares, Commonwealth bonds or other investments; you must have no investments whatever “. However, there is a difference between the person who has an investment or is self-employed and the person who is an employee. The very word “ employee “ implies that he is subject to direction. I think it would be improper for a member of the Tariff Board to be an employee of a company whose affairs were being considered by the board and, therefore, in his capacity as an employee, theoretically subject to direction. I am only guessing at the thoughts of the previous parliament, but that seems to me to be a rational approach.
– A shareholder of a company is in the same position; he has a personal interest.
– That is not exactly the same. The honorable member brings me to the fringe of thinking that I recognize myself. There is a self-interest in a shareholder, but it is a self-interest that is within the decision of that person. With an employee, it is more than a self-interests He is to some extent subject to direction. That is the only explanation I can give, and it seems to me to be fairly adequate.
I do not want to return to a subject that I have tried to avoid. I merely say to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) that what I told the House last night was correct. Dr. Westerman, being an employee of the Government, and being requested by the Government to depart from his domicile in Canberra and to work in Melbourne, has been allowed to return to Canberra periodically. Partly, his duties fit in with visits to Canberra. I have also said that Mr. Date received similar treatment - I think “ similar consideration “ would be a more appropriate phrase. Mr. Date accepted appointment to a board whose head-quarters are in Melbourne and whose functions must clearly be performed in Melbourne. At the time, he resided in Sydney; and after his appointment he raised the question of domicile. His allowance was £4 4s. a day for a period. Over a period about fi, 300 accrued to him as a result of this daily allowance of £4 4s. Subsequently, he received an allowance of £10 10s. a week for a further period. That is what I had in mind when I said last night that Mr. Date had received consideration at least comparable with that being accorded to Dr. Westerman. I want this debate to be about the Tariff Board, not Mr. Date, but I hope that in view of the explanations I have given, the committee will feel able to support this clause.
.- The debate has reached an important stage. Over the last two years I have observed fairly closely the way the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has handled tariff board problems, and in my opinion he has handled them fairly and reasonably. I am pleased that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) has spoken on this clause. What he said is having a greater effect on the Minister than anything that could have been said from this side of the chamber. The honorable member put his argument very well. He said that what occurs within the Tariff Board is a matter of the disposition of the members and the chairman. He also said, as Opposition members were alleging yesterday, that this clause gives dictatorial powers to the chairman and it follows if the chairman has a dictatorial disposition he will be able to exercise them. The honorable member said that if the Minister was prepared to say that he intended to introduce those powers, then the honorable member would support him. I am not sure whether the Minister said it was his intention or not. At least, he did not say so explicitly. But there are powers in this clause that can be used by a chairman who has the disposition to be a dictator.
Is this legislation necessary? The Minister has stated that at least part of the reasons for this clause are the differences and difficulties about which we on this side of the chamber have been talking in relation to Mr. Date. That subject was avoided yesterday, and the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) was able to say that he thought it was extremely unlikely that one member of the Tariff Board would have been the cause of this legislation, or even partly so. Now, the Minister says that he is. If this member of the board is at fault-
– The Minister did not say anything of the sort.
– I said that part of the explanation for this arrangement was not unrelated to the experience.
– That is what I said but a little more clearly. The extent to which the position of Mr. Date is responsible for the Government giving dictatorial powers to the chairman of the board has to be examined. If Mr. Date is responsible, he is at fault; and he should not have his appointment renewed at the end of this year. If Mr. Date is in part responsible, he should be removed from the board at the end of the year; and the chairman should not be given dictatorial powers. Instead, the Government, because of an isolated incident, or partly because of it, intends to put into the act a permanent fixture, something that will give the chairman of the board, on the admission of the honorable member for Balaclava, dictatorial powers to deal with the situation. If Mr. Date is at fault to that extent, the situation could be rectified at the end of this year. To-day, we have a picture totally different from the one that was presented to us yesterday, when the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) was able to interject, “ It is a common-sense arrangement”. Can he say that to-day?
– I hope that all honorable members will say that it is a commonsense approach.
– The honorable member for Wentworth has had ample opportunity to do so, both by speech and interjection, but he is silent. It is completely wrong to place in the Tariff Board Act a section that gives the chairman, if he is so disposed, power to act as a dictator when dealing with a situation that could be eliminated at the end of this year.
I do not intend to traverse any further any of the ground with relation to Mr. Date’s travelling expenses, or any of the problems associated with that matter, but I wish to say that the position as outlined a moment ago by the Minister is, as I find it, substantially correct. There is some difference of opinion as to the facts concerning the appointment of Mr. Date, and the details of later events. Whether or not his appointment occurred at a particular time has bearing upon them. There appears to be a claim that he was appointed prior to the approval of the Executive Council being given to the appointment. If that is so, a letter written by him on 9th February is not a relevant part of appointment. There is plenty of room for differences of opinion, and there is room for the opinion held by Mr. Date as well as that held by the Minister.
.- I suppose that many honorable members are just as concerned as are the honorable members for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and Balaclava (Mr. Joske) about whether this proposed change gives the chairman dictatorial powers. The position should be looked at in the contemporary atmosphere of 1958 in order to see whether the chairman is being given unreasonable or dictatorial powers. The only way that we can do that is to look at the provision itself, which says that the chairman shall have power to convene meetings, determine the form of records, and generally be responsible for the procedure and orderly conduct of business. I take it that that does not refer to decisions of the board.
– It has nothing to do with them.
– I suppose the secretary to the Cabinet has the job of arranging for meetings of the Cabinet and preparing the business to be placed before it. When I say that we should look at the situation as it exists to-day, I do not want honorable members to think that I am satisfied with that situation. The head of a Commonwealth department is charged with the responsibility of administering it. I invite honorable members to examine the functions of the chairmen of other boards. I have in mind one of a number of boards which were created by the honorable member for Lalor when he was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. I think that during the second-reading stage of this bill, honorable members were impressed by the honorable member’s speech. It was a pretty good speech, but one result of it was to make me fear socialism. The honorable member said that this terrific power, as he described it, to be conferred on the chairman of the Tariff Board could be used dictatorially, particularly if the occupant of the position became mentally ill and suffered aberrations. My point is that a similar possibility could arise when a socialist government appoints a lot of bureaucrats to positions of this kind. The admission made by the honorable member for Lalor was so enlightening as to make his speech one of the best I have heard against socialism. I shall keep a record of it.
However, it would have been a really effective speech if it had not fallen from the lips of the honorable member for Lalor. When a speech is made in this chamber, the first important factor to be considered in analysing it is whether the honorable member who makes it is sincere and believes what he says. A further consideration is whether his record discloses a devotion to the principles which he enunciates. In 1947, when the honorable member for Lalor was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, he set up the Egg Export Control Board. Honorable members may be interested to note the powers that were conferred on the chairman of that board. They are set out in sub-section (8.) of section 9 of the Egg Export Control Act which reads -
If the Chairman or other person presiding at any meeting of the Board dissents from any decision of the Board at that meeting and signifies at that meeting to the other members present in person his intention to bring his dissent to the notice of the Minister and, within twenty-four hours after the close of the meeting, transmits to the Minister notice of his dissent together with full particulars of the decision, the decision shall have no effect . . .
I think that in respect of all the commodity boards set up by the honorable member for Lalor when he was a Minister, the relevant act contained a similar provision. If ever there was a dictator set-up, then the honorable member for Lalor was the gentleman responsible for it. He set up boards all over the place, and if the chairman of any of them disagreed with a decision of his fellow members he could take action to nullify it completely. Such a power was completely dictatorial. This clause, which lays down the duties of the chairman of the Tariff Board, contains no provision of that kind. Honorable members and the country generally know that the honorable member for Lalor set up many boards and conferred completely dictatorial powers upon the chairman of each of them, not merely in regard to procedural matters but also in respect of decisions affecting the livelihood of all classes of primary producers. In the light of that fact I say that the speech made by the honorable member on this bill was not sincere. I was tremendously impressed when he made it until I began to recall what he did when he was a Minister. Therefore, I say that his speech was insincere.
– I rise to order. I object to the honorable member’s remark that my speech was insincere, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw the remark that the honorable member for Lalor was insincere.
– I withdraw it. I am sorry that the honorable member for Lalor prolongs the agony. To suggest that the honorable member was insincere is to use a very mild form of language to describe his remarks. The honorable member has attacked the provision in this bill to confer power on the chairman of the Tariff Board solely to ensure the efficient and orderly conduct of the business of the board. No .power whatever will be given to the chairman to alter decisions of the board. The board itself will have paramount authority. In a judicial manner it will deal with matters of tremendous importance to many constituents of the honorable member for Lalor who work in factories and are affected by tariff decisions. But the chairman of this board, unlike the chairmen of boards set up by the honorable member, will not be able to override decisions of his fellow members.
I have withdrawn the term “ insincere “. There is a much stronger term, well-known in this community, which could be more aptly applied to the honorable member’s speech; but I will not use it because you, Mr. Chairman, would make me withdraw it. Honorable members are well aware of the term which I imply. This clause deals with the normal day-to-day procedure of the board. If the Parliament were to give the chairman of any board dictatorial authority, such as the honorable member for Lalor has defended so eloquently-
– This Government has wiped all that out.
– That is so. The committee will be wise, after scrutinizing this clause, to agree to it. Remembering the power given to chairmen of boards set up by the honorable member for Lalor, when he was a Minister, the power to be given to the chairman of the Tariff Board under this measure is very mild indeed.
.- The Opposition is still not impressed by the arguments of either the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) or the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate). It has been interesting to hear an admission by the Minister that the measure we are now considering is not unrelated to recent experiences. I hope that I am using the Minister’s words accurately- In some respects, this measure might be described as a sledge hammer to crack a date.
I wish to bring home to the committee what this clause involves. I hope that honorable members do not regard the Tariff Board as a body of six weak characters in search of a strong chairman. That is not what the Tariff Board is supposed to be. It is supposed to be a board; and it is wrong to suggest that it is the duty of the chairman only to ensure that certain things should be done. It is the duty of every member of the board, with the chairman, to ensure the efficient and orderly conduct of the business of the board. The members of this board must be men of knowledge, intelligence and integrity, and there is no need to qualify in this way the convening and conduct of meetings, the form in which the board’s records should be made, and the payment of reasonable expenses.
Last night I asked the Minister, and now I ask any member of this committee, to point to any other statutory board or commission the chairman of which is given powers over other members of the board similar to those now being conferred on the chairman of the Tariff Board. Surely nobody will suggest that there will not be friction in the future. If the Minister feels that, by a sudden inspiration, he has achieved the ideal pattern for all future boards, I think that he is flying in the face of circumstance. If, as has been said, Mr. Date is the reason for the amendment in this form, what will happen if a chairman is appointed who wants to express some of the same kind of individuality that, apparently, has been exhibited by Mr. Date in the past? Under this legislation he will be armed, statutorily, with powers that Mr. Date only had in the past because the board, through its chairman, was unable to control that one member. Any intelligent person may, from time to time, disagree with other members of a board and he is entitled to do so. Whether he should take the steps that have been taken here is, of course, open to question. Each man will try to work out his own remedy.
I ask the House to read the proposed new section 8, sub-section (1.) a little more carefully than did the honorable member for Macarthur and to mark every word of it. It reads -
It is the duty of the Chairman to ensure the efficient and orderly conduct of the business of the Board.
That is a clause on its own and the matters that are mentioned after are only particular things. I say that it is presumptuous to suggest that the chairman, any more than any other member of the board, will be more efficient or will want the board to be more efficient or orderly than will any other member. If there has been inefficiency or disorderly conduct in the past has it been the fault of only one member of the board, or of the chairman any more than anybody else?
We have a board system in which we believe. It is provided for in the statutes of the Commonwealth and of every State of the Commonwealth. It is an admitted administrative device but can the Minister produce for us another model such as this? Only the chairman is charged with the responsibility for the efficient and orderly conduct of the business of the board. This will not be found in any other legislation. The Opposition wants a better reason for this change than that which has been given by the Minister for Trade to the effect that the need for it arises out of recent experience.
.- I come into this debate only because of the comments of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). I wonder what the honorable gentleman wishes the Tariff Board to become! Does he want it to become some sort of rabble? Surely the chairman of any board should have power to ensure that the business of the board is carried out in an efficient and orderly manner.
– You do not need to write it down. It can be taken for granted.
– It may be necessary to write it down for some people who think as some honorable members opposite do. The bill specifies the power of the chairman to convene meetings of the board and to determine the form of records. But that is safeguarded in sub-section (2.) of proposed new section 8, which states -
A power of the Chairman under paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) of the last preceding sub-section shall be exercised, as far as practicable, only after consultation with the members.
– The word “shall” is used.
– Of course it is. Apparently, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, supported by those who at present sit behind him, would like to see the Tariff Board acting as a rabble - as a leaderless legion. If the chairman or secretary of an organization to which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports belonged were to ring him and say, “We are going to have a meeting in five minutes”, the honorable member would be the first to object. He would say, “We should have notice in writing “. Similarly, if the chairman of the Tariff Board were to be in any way lackadaisical and run meetings in a haphazard fashion the same honorable gentleman would be the first to complain about it.
The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) dealt with the Opposition’s claim that this measure was dictatorial, and he instanced Labour’s dairy exports legislation. There was also meat export legislation in which the same principle was involved. The theme in all that legislation was ministerial power to override any decision made by the relevant authority. The Labour government also passed legislation to appoint conciliation commissioners. If my memory serves me correctly - and it usually does - it was laid down that the Chief Conciliation Commissioner could appoint a certain conciliation commissioner to hear certain matters and that another would be appointed to hear certain other matters, and so forth. The same principle applies in this bill, so there is a precedent for it.
It seems to me that the Opposition’s attack on the bill is only a skirmish. It is not even a sham fight. Opposition members are disregarding, particularly, the fact that the chairman will exercise the power given in paragraphs (a) and (b) of new section 8(1.) only “as far as practicable, after consultation with the members”. What could be fairer than that? Could any system give greater harmony throughout the whole of the business activities of the board? Everything is to be done only after consultation with the members, as far as practicable. I think that every organization with a job such as that of the Tariff Board adopts a similar procedure. If somebody is not given authority to say to one member of the board, “ You look after this case “, and to another member, “ You do that case “, the board will be a rabble and no serious consideration will be given to any matter.
The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) has now provided me with a copy of the legislation that I mentioned a few moments ago. It is the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Section 16 of this Act states -
Subject to the last preceding section, lt shall be the duty of the Chief Conciliation Commissioner to organize and allocate the work of all the Conciliation Commissioners.
That provision is exactly the same as that which is laid down in this bill, with the exception that the chairman of the Tariff Board will consult, as far as practicable, with the members.
– The conciliation commissioners do not sit together.
– Do all the members of the Tariff Board sit together? A subsequent provision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, reads -
Each Conciliation Commissioner shall comply with any direction given for the purposes of the last preceding sub-section which is applicable to him.
When the Chief Conciliation Commissioner says to one of the commissioners, “ This is to be done “, the commissioner shall do it. There is no suggestion of agreement on the part of the commissioner. There is no provision in the legislation such as the requirement in this bill that certain powers of the chairman shall be exercised only after consultation with members of the board.
I came into this debate only because I remembered the provision of the arbitration legislation to which I have referred, and its relevance to the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). The opposition to this measure shown by honorable members opposite constitutes not even a sham fight. It is not even a reconnaissance. Opposition supporters are merely wasting the time of the committee.
Question put -
That the clause be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 24
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Remainder of bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.53 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 23 rd April (vide page 1 145), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This measure is designed to apply income tax between Canada and Australia in the same way as an earlier agreement affected the United States of America and Australia. It will place Canadian investors in Australia and Australian investors in Canada on the same footing with respect to income tax as citizens of the United States of America and Australia. The agreement with the United States of America was passed by this Parliament in December, 1953. It has been in operation now for nearly five years, and the principles that are contained in that agreement are now to be extended to Canada. No indication has been given of the extent of Canadian investment in Australia or, alternatively, of Australian investment in Canada. Undoubtedly, there is not nearly the degree of Canadian investment in Australia that there is of United States investment. When the earlier measure was introduced, one of the reasons given by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) for it, apart from attempting to do justice between the citizens of the two countries, was that the measure would encourage dollar investment in Australia. Basically, one cannot separate the question of investment from the technicalities of the tax agreement itself, but first I wish to deal with some of the technical aspects of this bill.
As usual, there are two conflicting elements that can arise with respect to taxing income derived by individuals and corporations. Tax can be imposed according to the source of income or according to the domicile of the citizen who derives the income. Generally, the questions of source and domicile are identical. Most people living in a country have no income apart from what they earn in the country itself.
Source of income and domicile of the taxpayer usually coincide. But from time to time, people or companies derive income from one country but are resident or domiciled in another.
Then one gets conflict between two points of view. First, there is the sort of equitable concept that the country in which a taxpayer lives takes the view that an individual or a company ought to be taxed in that country in full on all income, whether it be derived in the country or from outside. But sometimes there is conflict if some of the income is derived from outside the country and that income is, in fact, taxed in the country where it originated. Then, there is the other equitable concept that an entity or individual may derive income from a country in which he does not live, but the origin of his income owes something to the country in which it is derived. His property is protected because there are laws in the country of origin. He depends on the normal law of that country to protect both his property and the source of his income, and that country ought not to be deprived entirely of the fruits of the investment. The difficulty arises of trying to reconcile the two concepts - the concept of source of income as against the concept of the domicile of the taxpayer. It is to meet that sort of situation that these reciprocal agreements are entered into.
There is nothing wrong with a reciprocal agreement if, in fact, there is true reciprocity. In other words, if there were as much income being earned by the citizens of one country from investment in another as was the case in reverse, there would not be imbalance; but at the moment, as everybody knows, there is very much more dollar investment in this country, whether it be from the United States of America or, to a lesser extent, from Canada, than there is investment by Australians either in the United States or in Canada. Some remarks which are very apposite to this question are contained in an article in the 1954 issue of the journal, “Australian Accountancy Progress “. The article was contributed by a well-known Australian authority on taxation, Mr. J. A. L. Gunn. He is known to most people who are interested in the technicalities of income tax. His article entitled “ Income Tax Con vention Between U.S.A. and Australia “ highlights the problems involved. He stated -
The plain question emerges. Australia has the primary right to tax income derived within its boundaries. Why should it forego any of that tax to non-residents, and thus differentiate between those non-residents and its own citizens? The concessions granted by Australia under the U.S. Convention will cost the Australian Government (that is, you and me) about £1,000,000 a year. The inducement is, of course, that the tax concession granted by Australia will result in greater investment by the U.S. in Australia. Will this happen? That, as Hamlet says, is the question, and I have not the temerity to attempt an answer.
Apart from the vexed question of dividends, Australia must always be on the paying end of a lax convention. As previously stated, this country does not tax ex-Australian income, except dividends, where that income is taxed in the country of origin. If, therefore, Australia gives anything more away, it must be by way of elimination or reduction of tax on income derived from sources in Australia. It has done so under reciprocal provisions which seek to tax certain income on a residence basis instead of a source basis.
Once taxation is removed from a source basis, logic must give way to “ horse-trading “. Do not, therefore, seek for equity in a tax convention. The best we can hope for is a measure of simplification, and for that alone we must be grateful.
That applies with equal force here. We cannot expect logic from this agreement. We can only approach it as one approaches horse trading. We cannot seek equity in these conventions. All that we can hope for is a measure of simplification. The Treasurer gave no indication of the extent of Canadian investment in Australia up to date. There are, of course, one or two large Canadian firms already in this country. I think the textile undertaking of Bruck Mills (Australia) Limited is a Canadian firm and I understand that there is also a Canadian tractor company with very substantial assets in Australia.
– And the Ford organization.
– There is also the Ford organization, to some degree. American investment in Australia is now, I understand, well over 600,000,000 dollars. I do not know the extent of Canadian investment, or whether the Treasury has such information at its disposal. I suggest that the immediate net effects of this agreement on Australian revenue will not be very great. Like any other company, a Canadian company operating in Australia will, in the first place, pay the full amount of company tax. If it is a public company, as most of these will be under taxation law, it must pay taxation at 7s. 6d. in the £1 on its profits, as does any Australian company. But when we consider the question of dividends, the benefit of this tax agreement emerges. The practice nowadays in company finance seems to be that, after tax has been paid, approximately one-half of what remains of profits is set aside to build up reserves, and approximately onehalf is distributed in dividends. The percentage varies according to circumstances. So we get a picture of this kind: Of an original £100 of profit in Australia, company tax accounts for 7s. 6d. in the £1 or £37 10s. Of the remaining amount of, in round figures, £60, £30 may be devoted to reserves and the remainder distributed as dividends. In the case of an Australian company, if £30 of every £100 were distributed to shareholders, it would bear tax after distribution to the individuals, the rate being determined by the level of their incomes. Prior to this agreement, Australian and Canadian shareholders were assessed on an arbitrary basis at 7s. 6d. in the £1, which is equivalent to the rate of company tax. There being no other means of collecting the tax, it was collected at the source from the company itself. As a result of this agreement, instead of 7s. 6d. in every £1 of dividend distributed, the maximum amount permitted to be collected is 15 per cent., or 3s. in the £1. In other words, the Australian Government will forego in potential revenue 4s. 6d. in every £1 distributed in dividends. That is the potential benefit of this agreement to the Canadian shareholder.
As I said earlier, it is impossible to sever from a consideration of an agreement of this kind the whole question of dollar investments and their effect on the Australian community- In yesterday’s issue of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ under the heading “ Capital Inflow Not So Brilliant? “ the following comment by the financial editor appeared: -
Meanwhile, it is to be noted that our dividend commitments on dollar capital are steadily rising. In the first half of this year, they cost £10,100,000 worth of dollars compared with £7,700,000 worth in the same six months a year previously.
On both counts, the dollar investments picture is disappointing. The inflow is falling away, the cost of financing it is rising.
That is a problem that no Australian government can ultimately escape. On the one hand, some people welcome dollar investment in Australia, which has been considerable in the past. On the other hand, if the investment is successful - and for reasons which I shall explain in a moment most of these investments are successful - we face the problem of remittance of dividends. If Australia’s balance of payments position is examined, it is seen that every year a greater and greater proportion of Australia’s adverse balance of trade is due to the dollar account, although in the aggregate Australia’s dollar transactions are still rather insignificant compared with our sterling transactions. In the overall imbalance of our trade, the dollar imbalance preponderates. Each year a greater and greater part of the dollar imbalance is due to remittances to America of dividends from investment in this country. In terms of international trade, these are described as invisible items. That problem seems to be growing year by year- Inevitably the situation must be faced that a greater and greater proportion of the dollars earned from exports to America is needed simply to account for the remittances of dividends on undertakings established in this country.
I suggest that we must face up to this question. Most people are ready to invest, but they expect dividends- American investors are not any different from others in that respect, and they tend to handpick or select very carefully the types of investment in this country. They pick those that are likely to yield the most substantial returns in the shortest possible time. The motor car industry is a good example. Perhaps the time has come for this country to be a little more careful in allocating the fields to which future dollar investments may go. It should not just allow investment irrespective of the social needs of the community. It should endeavour to induce investment in fields where pioneering work is required but where the immediate return may not be very large. Equally, the time has come for the Australian Government to begin to demand, as other countries have demanded, that there shall be a greater and greater share of Australian ownership and executive control.
– Every other country.
– It is done by India, for instance, which demands about 51 per cent, of executive positions and 51 per cent, of the shares in undertakings established. 1 think that the Australian Government - let us hope it is a Labour government very soon - should demand controls of that kind. We should be much more selective than we have been and should not allow the eyes to be picked out of our investment opportunity. If we continue to allow this, we will soon find that we are groping in the dark economically.
That is one problem that cannot be severed from the whole question of a reciprocal tax agreement such as this, the ultimate aim of which is to encourage, in this instance, Canadian investment in Australia and to attempt to deal equitably with the shareholders in each country. We should not just grab dollars irrespective of how those dollars are to be invested. We should attempt to channel the investment into the directions that are most socially profitable, which are not necessarily the directions most economically profitable to the investor. Of course, the investments have to be economically profitable also, or we would not attract capital; but Australia should begin to take a much more active interest both in the direction of capital and in the control of investments when they have been made.
When the previous taxation agreement, which was with America, was before the Parliament in 1953, the Labour party offered no objection to the passage of the enabling bill, because it realized that the agreement represented an attempt to do justice to the individual, having regard to those two difficult and sometimes conflicting factors - source of income, and domicile of the taxpayer. On that occasion, as Mr. Gunn pointed out, the stakes were large. It was estimated that that agreement would give a benefit of £1,000,000 a year to American investors in the way of reduced taxation. So. even more on this occasion, when the stakes are not as large as on the previous occasion, should we offer no objection. The investment of Canadian capital in this country is not nearly so extensive as that of the United States. Moreover. Canada is a member of the Commonwealth, so that there are cultural, traditional and social bond’s between us apart from any economic bond. For those reasons we offer no objection to passage of the measure.
.- This bill is designed to complete a very useful trilogy of agreements on double taxation. The first two agreements were with the United States and the United Kingdom, and this one is to be with Canada. The nationals of those countries are the main overseas investors in Australia.
The formulation of the agreement took a long time and a great deal of hard work on the part of the Taxation Branch. Such agreements become most horribly complicated as soon as the tax experts gather together. I think that, in principle, the Australian system of income taxation, and other taxation also, is one of the simplest in the world. In practice, it is one of the most complicated in the world.
The most important thing about the agreement is that it is a further measure designed to encourage overseas investment in Australia. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) supports the measure on behalf of the Opposition. In his speech, however, he gave some indication of the policy that a Labour government would follow. He said enough on that score to indicate that if his party were in office and applied its policy the volume of foreign investment in Australia would soon shrink to very small dimensions, indeed.
This is a highly important subject, for without foreign investment our industrial structure, in which we take considerable pride, would become a puny and negligible thing. If we relied on native capital and native know-how, and did not import capital and personnel, and the know-how that comes with them, our life here would be a very primitive one indeed. It would be quite a mistake to think that, having got as far as we have along the evolutionary path, we can now cut off the flow of capital and pursue the policies followed by India, for instance. If we want to scare foreign capital away from Australia, then let us by all means follow India’s lead. The bureaucratic tangle which India has set up in the last few years has, in fact, cut off a vast stream of capital which used to flow there before the war, and which is not likely to go there again until the Indian Government’s policies are changed. The nationalization of life assurance - I believe that that is also the policy of some honorable members opposite - implemented by India is the kind of action to take if you wish to dry up supplies of foreign capital.
Of course, from the revenue point of view, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports rightly pointed out, we shall lose on this agreement. Of course we shall lose, because we are the country that wants foreign investment to a much greater extent now than our own people are likely, for many, many years, to be able to invest, in their turn, in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. But the very fact that we lose on the tax side is the counterpart of the fact that, from the overall economic viewpoint, we shall be the major net gainers from the proceeds of the overseas capital invested. If honorable members opposite imagine fondly that our technical processes and our industry, based on a market of 10,000,000 people, will ever keep abreast of modern developments without the closest co-operation with the American, British and Canadian economies they are indeed very sadly deluded.
For a long time, it will be necessary for us to have foreign investment here in order to develop our industrial structure, and to bring here the big firms from overseas which, because of the magnitude of the markets they supply, have knowledge and technical ability which are not available to a country whose local market is of fewer than 10,000,000 people. America’s home market is between 150,000,000 and 160,000,000 people. The Canadian market is really part of the north American economic structure, making the total north American market 190,000,000 people. We need to co-operate with the economies of those countries.
If foreign investment is desirable at all times, particularly in the industrial sphere, and also directly in the financial sphere, it is of special importance now. Although Canadian investment represents a small part of the total the agreement is indicative of the importance of the trend towards concluding double taxation agreements and doing the things which give investors confidence. Over the next year or two we shall probably need every penny we can scrounge overseas. The country as a whole is still almost unaware of the really serious overseas exchange crisis which is going to hit us unless there is a reversal of present trends in the world’s commodity markets to a far greater extent than we now have reason to hope for. Unless that reversal occurs we shall be in a position where the maintenance of anything like the present flow of imports over the next twelve months or two years will become extremely difficult. We are going to be very lucky if we do not suffer from both a reduction of imports and a consequent cut in our standard of living. So anything that the Government or the people generally can do to encourage foreign investment, which is important at all times, is doubly important in the present conditions.
– Will foreign investors accept their dividends in sterling?
– That depends on where they live. Another point, Mr. Speaker, is that, apart from the general scheme for increasing the import of capital into Australia, we must consider our relations with Canada itself. Canada is one of the biggest trading nations of the world. Its economy is about twice the size of our own; so that it is considerably bigger than Australia is. It has many problems in common with us, but, because it is another Commonwealth country, we tend to take our relations with it far too much for granted. In fact, there is in Canada a great fund of goodwill towards Australia, which we have not yet fully exploited by any means. I speak of it in the broad sense, and not necessarily in the financial sense, although that also is important.
This agreement is one of the things that should form part of a pattern of increasing intimacy with Canada. At the present time, Canadian investments in Australia are largely in big industrial concerns such as the Ford Motor Company of Australia Proprietary Limited and H. V. McKay Massey Harris Proprietary Limited, but there is no reason why we could not, in the future, attract an increasing volume of Canadian investment of a purely financial character. At the end of 1955, we managed to raise on the Canadian market the first loan raised in that market by any outside government. The interest shown at the time, particularly in Ontario, which is the part of Canada that is closest to us from a philosophical stand-point, was very gratifying. The enthusiasm for that loan went much further than the mere cash involved.
We have with Canada a potentially very valuable relationship which, so far, we have done all too little to exploit. We have, of course, occasional exchanges of visits by Ministers, which are highly successful. The visit of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was an example. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has made two very successful visits to Canada, which engendered an extremely pleasant reaction. But the fact is that we, as a country, do not recognize the world importance of Canada to anything like the degree to which we should recognize it. This applies particularly to Canada’s potential as a trading partner of, and investor in, Australia. In a few months’ time, our representatives will visit Canada for the proposed Commonwealth trade conference, and it is to be hoped that that conference will be made the occasion for following up on a broader basis the good potential trading contacts that exist in Canada. For instance, we have not a trade commissioner in Toronto now, although we were represented there once. We have one in Montreal, and one on the west coast. We have a fund of potential relationships with Canada that we are not fully exploiting.
Mr. Diefenbaker, the new Canadian Prime Minister, has shown great interest in developing Commonwealth trade, and I hope that, after the proposed trade conference, when he has overcome some of his immediate very serious problems, he will be invited to Australia. A visit by him would stimulate Canadian interest in Australia, and, perhaps, further investment. We do not at present concentrate sufficiently, in either an economic or a political sense, on the real, hard core of the Commonwealth. I refer particularly to Canada and New Zealand, rather than to the United Kingdom, with which we have direct relations. Canada and New Zealand are two Commonwealth countries in which there is a great and valuable fund of goodwill towards us, but we do far too little to exploit it.
In conclusion, in supporting this bill, which ratifies an agreement that will bring us so much closer to Canada, and is more important symbolically than in the actual amount of taxation involved, I express the hope that, before long, Mr. Diefenbaker will be invited to visit Australia.
– I propose to preface my remarks on this measure by reading an extract from a recent newspaper report, which appeared under the dateline, “ San Francisco, April 27.” It states -
In an address to the Executives’ Club in Chicago yesterday, Mr. Randolph Sevier, president of the Matson Navigation Company, said a principal attraction to American investors had been the growth of the Australian market itself.
Australia’s proximity to growing Pacific markets had enabled investors to earn an average of 30 per cent, on capital.
After all, a return of 30 per cent, on capital makes an investment highly attractive. That is what the Americans estimate they are making on the capital that they have invested in this country.
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) said that we must attract foreign capital to Australia. In 1950, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) pointed out that foreign capital was coming to this country in a continuous flood to help productive development. In that year, taxation was levied upon dividends on American capital invested in Australia. Prior to the remission of double taxation on American investments here, General Motors-Holden’s Limited was already established in this country. Most of the capital of that company was provided by the General Motors Company of the United States of America. Of course, there is a difficulty in transferring to the United States dividends payable on American capital invested in Australia, and, as a result, much of those dividends is ploughed back into the industries in which it is earned. This has enabled General Motors-Holden’s Limited, which began in 1947 with a capital of £1,700,000, to build up assets worth more than £50,000,000 to-day.
Are the dividends ploughed back into an industry in that way free of taxation in this country? If they are, does anybody think that is desirable? Everybody knows that if income of any kind earned on foreign investments in this country does not attract taxation at the rate that would be paid if that income were received by Australians, the Australian taxpayers in general must pay considerably more than they would otherwise have to pay towards defence, and towards the provision of all the governmental services that make it possible for industries to earn fabulous dividends of 30 per cent on capital for American investors in this country. That, of course, must be obvious to every one. The warning that I desire to give to the Government is illustrated by the present position in America. The capitalists of the United States of America invested their money in Canada because of the attractions that were offered to them, and to-day they dominate the economy of that country. A similar position could arise in Australia. An increasing amount of capital is coming from America to this country. Dividends on that money cannot be transferred to America because America will not take Australian goods, and that is the only way the dividends could be paid. American investors are building a vast economic empire in this country because they are given advantages that the Australian industrialists do not enjoy.
– Is not the honorable member proud of General Motors-Holden’s Limited?
– Am I proud of General Motors-Holden’s Limited? Not me!
– What about the employment given by that company?
– That is right, it gives employment. As I pointed out, General Motors-Holden’s Limited was established in this country prior to the reduction of taxation on American investment. If those conditions were good enough for the company when it was established, why are they not good enough to be continued? If the conditions were good enough to attract American investors, who put their money into General Motors-Holden’s Limited before the remission of taxation was allowed, then why should those investors now get the remission of taxation that is so advantageous to the big capitalists? I know that a kind of veil is always drawn over these big monopolistic institutions, whose operations are world-wide.
– What party was in government at that time?
– When General MotorsHolden’s Limited came to this country, I am pleased to say that we had a Labour government. I saw the other day that the Premier of Victoria, on behalf of the Liberal party, took the credit for the establishment of that vast corporation. It was established under equitable conditions; it was not established under the conditions that are supported by honorable members on the other side of the House’.
– Now that company is successful in giving employment, you want to knock it.
– The company was growing and expanding without this added attraction; it is not a question of knocking at all. The return is apparently 30 per cent. As I said, the president of the Matson Navigation Company is not likely to say that if it is not correct. If that is the toll that the people of this country must pay to attract industries, then it is too high. But they need not pay it. Industries come because they realize that they can make better profits here than they can overseas. They were coming before legislation of this description was introduced. That brings me to the point mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). He said that this is allegedly a reciprocal agreement; it is 50/50 - one horse and one rabbit. The Americans have the horse and we have the rabbit. That is all that reciprocity means when no Australian capital is invested in the United States. No Australian receives the advantage of freedom from taxation in America, but we give that advantage to the big American industrial corporations. That is anti-Australianism of the worst possible type. As I said, the United States investment in Canada has resulted in a financial and an economic domination of Canada by United States capitalists.
– You have said that.
– Yes, I said that before. I repeat it because most of my remarks are worth repeating and I intend to continue repeating a few of them. I have not the slightest doubt that some honorable members will use my arguments as though they were their own. That is what is called the episcopal method of conversion. If a proposition is repeated often enough, then people, even though they be as dull as members of the Australian Country party, will realize the truth of the proposition and will adopt it as their own. Of course, I hope that will happen.
To-day £1,000,000,000 is invested annually by Australians in Australia. The overseas capital invested is approximately £100,000,000. The Australian investors must pay taxes on the dividends that they receive, but American and other overseas investors do not. They have a vast advantage when compared with the Australian investor. If I were a big investor, which God forbid I will ever become, then logically I would invest money here, go to America and become naturalized in order to escape the burden of taxation imposed by the country which provides the conditions and the wherewithal for me to make my fortune.
– A higher rate of tax is paid but it is not double as it was before.
– The honorable member is perfectly correct, but the Australian taxpayer is not paying exactly the same as the American taxpayer. The American taxpayer receives vast advantages. If Australians invested the same amount in America as Americans invest in Australia, and if each country did exactly the same with taxation, then there would be no objection. That would be reciprocity on the basis of equality. But there is no reciprocity in the proposition that is put forward for the relief of overseas bondholders. If it was necessary to attract overseas capital to this country by special means, I would be willing to make attractive propositions to overseas capital. But making attractive propositions to overseas capital does not mean that an increasingly heavy toll should be levied on the people of this country. I would provide sites for overseas industries, but 1 would lay down conditions so that I knew exactly what I was giving to overseas investors. But the Government does not know what it is giving away by this proposed remission of taxes. As the amount of foreign capital invested in Australia increases, so the proportionate contribution from such investments to the revenue will decrease, and the tax on the money earned in Australia by Australians will increase.
So the effect is a toll on the Australian taxpayer, deliberately imposed in the interests of overseas investors. There is no need to provide this special attraction, because the biggest of these overseas industries came to this country before any attraction of this kind existed. I have pointed out before that General Motors-Holden’s Limited came here before United States investors were given this remission of taxes. In his Budget speech in 1950 the Trea surer (Sir Arthur Fadden) stated that money was pouring into this country from overseas to aid in our development and to provide employment for Australians. There were no special attractions then,
What is at the root of these attractions? Is it a kind of chivalrous desire on the part of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and other members of the Government parties to give special considerations to people overseas, for which Australia gets nothing in return? There is no particular advantage to Australia in providing special attractions, because the capital would have come here in any event. I shall tell honorable members why these attractions are offered. Honorable members on the Government side of the House, and their friends, are interested in these industrial organizations that are financed largely by foreign capital, although not totally financed by foreign capital - a large amount of Australian capital is invested in General Motors-Holden’s Limited, for example. Also, Australian capital is invested in quite a number of other such undertakings. Investors in the industries set up in this country by overseas capital receive a rake-off to the detriment of the Australian taxpayer, and this practice is not in any way conducive to the development and progress of this country. I conclude by saying-
Government Supporters. - Hear, hear!
– Would honorable members opposite have been more pleased if I had not spoken at all? While I welcome a limited amount of overseas investment in this country, I do not want to see Australia dominated by financial interests in other countries. I am not alone in holding this view, because India has introduced legislation along those lines. Norway, Sweden, Denmark and half the other countries of Europe are taking good care that economic control of their industries is not taken out of the hands of their own people. If the economy of this country were dominated by overseas industrial concerns, the Government would become the jumpingjack of those financial interests. If I had control of the industrial machinery of this country, such would be my power over the government that I would be able to make a creditable job of governing Australia, even with the existing personnel who sit on the treasury bench.
.- The bill before the House is designed to attract capital to this country and to give a certain amount of justice to investors who have previously been burdened with double taxation. After listening to the joyful remarks of the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), I do not think that very much capital will flow into this country as a result of his observations. The need for more capital in this country is very urgent, indeed. Our population is growing rapidly, and if we do not have the capital to match its growth we shall be in serious difficulties. I think that an investment of about £2,000 in plant, &c, is required to employ one man in industry in Australia to-day. A great deal more would be required to place a man on the land. Australia must place more and more people in industry and on the land, but our capital is limited. Therefore, we must attract capital. There is a world-wide shortage of capital to-day. There is not one country that does not need capital.
What is the capital that comes to this country? It is savings! The honorable member for Scullin cannot understand that the capitalists about whom they speak are millions of thrifty, small people who save, who deny themselves some goods, some enjoyment. Whether it is a new suit or a yacht depends entirely on their particular circumstances. Savings are the result of self-denial and thrift. Australia is trying to attract those savings. To the socialist a capitalist is a big man, but the great bulk of capital is supplied by the small man. Australia is endeavouring to attract that capital and if it is frightened away from this country, we shall be the losers. If we are to maintain full employment for our increasing population we must have more capital. At the present time, about 25 per cent, of savings in this country are ploughed back into industry, but this is not enough, and we must turn to overseas countries for more capital. That is the purpose of the measure before the House.
The socialists will continue to show contempt for the capitalist, the man who works for profit, but let us just consider for a moment the risks that the capitalist takes. He is the man who, by investing his savings, is raising the standards of living of millions of people in backward countries. I ask honorable members to consider the risk of the capitalists who have money invested in Sumatra to-day. Millions of pounds have been sunk in Indonesia in either the search for oil or the actual production of it. I ask honorable members to remember the capital that was sunk in .the Suez Canal. Countless millions of pounds of British capital have been sunk in China. Who repays these capitalists? It is quite easy for these socialists who, to my mind, are objects of contempt, to deride the people who provide capital to establish industries which in turn provide work and raise the standard of living. It is impossible to raise the standard of living without capital, but the socialists are always trying to heap contempt on the man who saves. The risk which people take all over the world in investing their capital must constantly be in the minds of those who realize the benefit that comes to so many from that investment. Millions of pounds have been sunk in Saudi Arabia- Is that capital safe? What risk has been attached to that investment?
The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) is always talking about the ugly side of profit-making, but he does not talk about the courage and initiative of people who risk their savings in out of the way places in order to promote production. The honorable member and his colleagues seem to have only contempt for people who save; I have a vast contempt for persons who do not try to save. A rather curious thing is happening at the moment. Although the socialists continually condemn capitalism, Mr. Cahill, the socialist Premier of New South Wales, is now in the United States of America trying to attract beastly, dirty capita] to New South Wales. That is an example of the double-faced, two-way policy of the Labour party. Mr- Cahill leads a government supported by a party whose objective is the nationalization of production, distribution and exchange. That is the socialist policy, the concept of Karl Marx. That is the objective of the Australian Labour party. Mr. Cahill is now in capitalist America to attract capital for New South Wales. Is Mr. Cahill going to nationalize that capital when it is invested over here? Is that his purpose? The Labour party cannot have it both ways, but that is apparently what it wants- It cannot deny that it stands for profit.
In the great socialist country of Russia there is a certain rate of pay for the artisan and the technician, but there is a much higher rate of pay for the scientist. There is a tremendous difference between those levels of income. Why is the scientist paid more? He is encouraged by the profit motive. That is the driving force of the capitalist system, lt applies also in the socialist countries. But here, in a capitalist country, the socialist attacks ‘the profit motive in order to break the capitalist system and bring in the socialist sysem which introduces the profit motive again. It is a double-barreled policy, and that is illustrated by the purpose of Mr. Cahill’s visit to America. The Labour party wants the best of two worlds.
The honorable member for Scullin says that New South Wales wants more money. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) says that if it comes, the Labour party will regulate and control the spending of it. Do these honorable members think that money will be invested in Australia if no allowance is made for a fair profit and opportunity given to the investors to gain some of the benefits that flow from the capitalist system of development, thrift, saving and improvement? The only system in the world that has ever been devised by man - that is, in countries where man is free - is the capitalist system, but the socialists forget that fact. They want to kill the initiative to save.
What about planning for to-morrow? I ask honorable members opposite to remember our geographical position. Australia is a white nation surrounded by countless millions of people on a lower standard of living. We are increasing and expanding our population, and if we are to maintain our standard of living we must trade in Asian markets. How are we going to compete in Asian markets where goods are produced by workers on lower wages and where the standard of living is lower than ours, unless w? develop a higher standard of technical skill and production? How can we approach the tremendous problems of competition in the Asian markets unless our production is improved bv modern methods? T remind honorable members opposite that the standard of living of the workers, whom they are supposed to represent, is a matter of the utmost importance. The planning of to-day will determine how our children will survive in an Asian world ten, twenty or 100 years hence. This calls for serious consideration, and this Government is deeply conscious of that fact.
The Government realizes that if we are to survive, our only hope is to develop our industries and establish a higher standard of living. This can be done only by using capital and more capital coupled with initiative, enterprise and courage. This measure is designed to attract more capital to this country. I wish to refer to one point in the speech of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) which counters the suggestion of the honorable member for Scullin. He said that under this bill certain incomes will not be taxable in this country, such as incomes from shipping and transport. It is not possible to tax them; but other income, which constitutes the great bulk of the incomes flowing between Canada and Australia, is liable to taxation in both countries. In these cases the country of origin - in our case, it would be Australia - collects its full tax. If the country in which the taxpayer resides imposes tax also, then this agreement places upon that country an obligation to allow credit against this tax. That is to say, it prevents double taxation.
The amendment lays down very clearly how the taxes are to be applied. I qualify my expression “ very clearly “ because all taxation laws are extremely complicated and one requires expert knowledge to understand them. However, we understand the principles, and the principle of this measure is to avoid double taxation so that people who are prepared to take the risk of investing their money in a country 6,000 or 8,000 miles away will know that they are entitled to the concession of not having to pay double tax. I think that this bill will encourage greater trade between Australia and Canada and that Australia will ultimately benefit enormously from the increased inflow of Canadian capital.
.- T think it is necessary to endeavour to clarify, for the benefit of the preceding speaker, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) and perhaps some others, the position taken bv the Opposition in relation to this bill. A picture has been painted by the honorable member for Hume of the alternative presented by the Labour party, which, according to him is a constant attack upon capital and a policy that has no room for investment of capital. The honorable member suggests that the Labour party is antagonistic to capital in every form.
– That is true, too.
– The intellect of the honorable member for Phillip, apparently, is of the same order as that of the honorable member for Hume. I wondered if that could be said of another member in this House, and now I am satisfied that it can. However, I continue with my proposition. One has only to think of the point, made clearly enough by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), He reminded honorable members that it was during the period of the Chifley Government that the firm of General Motors-Holden’s Limited was established in Australia. That surely illustrates the fact that the Labour party welcomes capital in this country. But the policy of the Labour party is that capital shall earn a reasonable but not an excessive profit. The alternative which really should be placed before honorable members, in making an analysis of a measure of this kind, fs the Labour party’s policy of fair and reasonable profit for external capital invested in contrast to the Government’s policy of excessive profits, for which it has always stood. The Government has followed, throughout its term of office, an economic policy which has not only allowed excess profits but which made excess profits possible in the first place. That is the clear alternative that is present in a measure of this sort. The honorable member for Scullin made that clear enough.
Two good reasons have been put forward by Opposition speakers as to why we should be careful about external investment and as to why we should be careful about this question of whether profits and returns on external investment are reasonable and fair. The first, I think, was mentioned by the honorable member for Scullin. It concerns the external influence exercised on the Australian economy by those outside organizations that have invested their capital in Australia.
We need to cast our minds back to the 1930’s in order to see an example of that. At the end of 1929 and the beginning of 1930 the Australian balance of payments was in such a situation that we owed £5,000,000 in interest payments on invested capital from overseas, and we did not have £5,000,000 to make that payment. Sir Otto Niemeyer came here from England as a representative of the investors, leading a committee to impose, if it could, an economic policy on Australia. The details of this incident can be read in books by Professor Copland, “The Battle of the Plans “, and “ The Economic Crisis “, in which it is shown clearly by one of the leading writers on the Australian economy that that was the aim of that committee from the United Kingdom. It wanted to impose a cut on Australian economic activities. It wanted to cut wages and all incomes by 50 per cent.
There was resistance to this course in Australia, even from conservative business people in the community. The committee’s endeavour to impose such a severe cut on the Australian economy was resisted. In the end, a cut of about 20 per cent, was imposed. The Premier’s plan was imposed as a result of a compromise between the pressure of Australian interests and the pressure of overseas interests. The depression in Australia was an outcome of that situation and is a clear example of the kind of external influence that can be exercised on the Australian economy by representatives of overseas investors. That was the kind of thing that the honorable member for Scullin had in mind.
Recently, we have had two other examples of that. In Canada, the present conservative Government, first of all, won an election, and then, as a result of another election within twelve months, came into office with an overwhelming majority, purely on a policy of resisting the encroachment on the Canadian economy of American capital. Mr. Diefenbaker saw in his own country the amount of unemployment caused in the Canadian motor car industry as a result of the policy of retrenchment applied in the United States. American concerns in Canada, following the policy of their parent bodies in the United States of America, had also retrenched. This is the kind of thing that is behind the overwhelming majority that the Diefenbaker Government has obtained in Canada. So the honorable member for Scullin and other members of the Opposition are doing their duty by pointing out to the Australian people that, inherent in the investment of American capital, is a danger of this sort. although such investment can be good under certain conditions. The irresponsible remarks of the honorable member for Hume show how unreal a member of the Australian Country party can be when he is involved in a discussion such as this.
One other thing can occur in relation to external influences brought to bear on the Australian economy by overseas capital investors. Some twelve months ago I put a question on the notice-paper asking the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) whether he was aware of any franchises or agreements made by overseas companies which had invested in Australia, particularly in the motor car industry, the chemical industry, the glass industry and the paper industry, which prevented the export of their products from Australia to certain markets to which they could otherwise have gone. The Treasurer said that there were such franchises and agreements but that he was not aware of their nature.
I have recently placed another question on the notice-paper asking him whether he has taken any steps during the last twelve months to find out the nature of these agreements. I should think that, consistent with the attitude of this Government to big business, no such steps have been taken. I say, without any qualification, that there are agreements and franchises between overseas companies and their subsidiary bodies in Australia which restrict the export of a considerable quantity of Australian secondary products. This is the third way in which there can be influence by external investors on the Australian economy.
– Mention a few of the companies concerned.
– -Yes. Australian secondary products affected in this way include Holden motor cars, the chemical products of Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, the glass products of the Australian Glass Manufacturers Company Limited, and the paper products of Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd.
T suggest that we ought to examine, for a minute or two, the reasons why we find it necessary to encourage foreign 1 investment in this country at excess rates of profit - I am not referring to investment at reasonable and fair rates of profit. The honorable member for Scullin mentioned the president of an American concern who had spoken of 30 per cent, as a rate of return on investment. That figure is borne out by the Australian figures relating to profits remitted overseas and undistributed profits. The figure of 30 per cent, is consistent with what is happening in Australia.
From an economic point of view, there is no reason why we need overseas capital for economic development. From the point of view of internal conditions, there is no reason why we need overseas capital for economic development. The reason arises in another way. It arises from and is limited by the condition of our balance of payments. There is no earthly reason why a country, if it uses its economic machinery intelligently, cannot obtain sufficient capital - which is only money in another form - to put into full operation the resources within its own boundaries.
– Do you mean that we should issue money?
– If necessary, yes. We are issuing money every day in precisely that way to the extent of about £110,000,000 or £120,000,000 a year. It is quite a normal practice of public finance. I am not surprised that the Australian Country party has to be brought up to date on this. The honorable member for Hume is pre-Ricardo, who wrote 140 years ago.
We need capital from overseas because of our balance of payments situation. I should like to refer honorable members who are interested enough to read the authorities on this matter, to a recent article by the well-known Swedish economist, Eric Lundberg, which is called, “ Stability Problems in the Australian Economy. Some Comparisons with Sweden.” It is in “ Economic Essays (1956) “ which is readily available in the Library, where one hardly ever sees a member of the Country party. Mr. Lundberg points out that Australian balance of payment difficulties are the product, broadly, of two conditions. First, they are the product of the fact that inflation has been allowed to proceed much further in the Australian economy than in the Swedish economy. He points out clearly enough that a country’s balance of pavments is influenced bv the volume of goods that it buys from overseas; that the level of that buying will be determined bv the level of internal purchasing power; and that if internal purchasing power is allowed to expand rapidy as the result of inflationary conditions, as it has been allowed to do by this Government, naturally the economy as a whole will purchase more from overseas than it would otherwise have purchased. So the tendency to try to over-import into Australia is certainly influenced, Mr. Lundberg points out, by the excessive level of inflationary expenditure that has been permitted by this Government to occur in Australia.
That is his first point. Mr. Lundberg’s second point is a more fundamental and difficult one. The first problem is one that any government which rightly understands the situation and is not pandering to those making excess profits out of inflation could readily overcome in twelve months. But the second problem is a long-standing one and more difficult to deal with. In referring to it, Mr. Lundberg says that in Australia there is a long-run stability in import propensity related to the national income. It rises and falls with the national income, but in real terms it is a fairly constant figure. He gives figures that show that in the period from 1910 to 1915 it was 20 per cent, of the national product, in real terms; in the period from 1925 to 1930 it was 18 per cent., and from 1950 to 1955 it was 21 per cent. In other words, the propensity to buy imported goods is fairly constant in Australia in relation to the national product. It tends to rise and fall with it, but it is stable in the long run. But export propensity, Mr. Lundberg points out, shows a declining trend. It stood at 21 per cent, before 1914, 16 per cent, for the period from 1925 to 1930, 15 per cent, from 1935 to 1940 and 14* per cent, in 1955-56. In other words, it has fallen from 21 per cent, before World War I. to 14i per cent, for the most recent period.
This is a long-term and difficult problem, but it is the second problem underlying our balance of payments problem. Mr. Lundberg points out the significance of our turning to overseas capital investment. It is for this reason that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and the Treasurer, but also the Premier of Victoria and the Premier of New South Wales, irrespective of what political parties they belong to, make frequent trips to overseas countries in an endeavour to obtain overseas capital to help us out by supplementing our export earnings, which have fallen by up to one-third of their real value. If honorable members of the Country party want to contribute something towards the solution of our national problems, they might tell us how they can help to increase Australia’s export earnings by sending more of our primary products overseas. I do not pretend to know how the honorable members of the Country party will solve that problem, but instead of wrestling with Karl Marx and communism, let me suggest that they might do a little wrestling with the problem I have mentioned, and then try to contribute something to the debate.
I suggested previously that we have been turning to overseas capital not so much because of some internal requirement for economic development, but almost exclusively, in our Australian situation, as a result of our balance of payments difficulties. We do not need overseas capital for internal economic expansion if we follow the correct economic policy internally, but we do need it, under existing circumstances, because we are suffering from a balance of payments deficiency, which we hope to cure with overseas capital. The Labour party says that in this situation, which we recognize just as Government supporters recognize it - and a good deal more clearly than most of them - we should turn to overseas capital only under reasonable conditions and not under conditions of excess profits; not under conditions in which the interests of external investors, which are not necessarily the same as those of our own people, can be fostered in Australia to the disadvantage of our people; not in circumstances in which franchises and agreements can exist between overseas companies and their subsidiaries in Australia so as to limit or cut off altogether exports of secondary products from Australia.
It seems to me that the contrast in this respect can be summed up in this fashion: If we had a purely Australian company producing a motor car like the Holden - and I am not concerned at the moment with the question whether we could have, although if some persons concerned were a little more Australian-minded and less American-minded we would have a company of that kind much more quickly than we otherwise would - that company would be free to export its cars to any country in which it could sell them.
– What is to prevent that being done now?
– These franchises and agreements with parent corporations, about which I am endeavouring to make the position clear. The company would be able to export Australian motor cars if these franchises and agreements did not exist. The honorable member for Scullin suggested that it would be advisable for Australian capitalists to go to America and become naturalized, so that they would be able to earn more profits in this country, but it seems to me that there are some people here who do not need to go to America in order to become Americans. They can achieve that result while remaining in Australia.
I want to make one final point in conclusion, concerning the matter of turning to overseas capital investment to fill the gap in our balance of payments. This is a question that the Swedish economist, Mr. Lundberg, particularly examined. I should like to acquaint honorable members of the conclusions arrived at by this Swedish economist, who had no affinity with Karl Marx, who is not a socialist but who is one of the dozen or so top economists in the academic world. Mr. Lundberg’s conclusion is that in order to supplement export earnings - capital imports may prove to be a very expensive and risky way of trying to meet the balance of payments problem.
I have already said that there are three reasons why we should be suspicious of too much overseas capital under too favorable conditions. The first reason is that we can have overseas investment influencing our economic conditions in the way it did during the depression in 1930-31, in circumstances which are well known to every one. Secondly, we can have the kind of influence that has been exercised in Canada, and to resist which the Diefenbaker Government was elected. Thirdly, we can have the kind of franchises and agreements, made by overseas companies with their subsidiaries here, which restrict the export by those subsidiaries of their Australian products to the markets of the world so that these markets can be supplied by the parent companies. In addition to those three factors which have to be taken into account when we are crossing the Pacific, cap in hand, trying to get American capital, we should bear in mind the fourth factor mentioned by Mr. Lundberg, who says that capital imports may prove to be a very expensive and risky way of trying to meet the balance of payments problem.
Why does he say this? Why may it be an expensive and risky way? He assumes an investment of £30,000,000 a year from overseas, on top of the present investment, and I have just received an answer to a question on notice which says that the investment last year was £25,000,000, which is a little less than Mr. Lundberg was assuming when he wrote his article 12 months ago. He also assumes a yield of 10 per cent., which is a small yield on overseas investment, because capitalists will not go 5,000 miles to invest their money if they can get the same return at home, and in fact, if they had dealings with the honorable member for Hume they would want three or four times the return that they could get at home. Assuming these things, Mr. Lundberg goes on to say that if half of it is re-invested in Australia - and that may not be an over-estimate of the amount that is ploughed back - annual profit would grow in the next decade from £60,000,000 to £140,000,000, and remittances and undistributed profits would grow from £30,000,000 to £70,000,000. This means that if we have overseas investment to the extent he mentioned, and at the rate of profit that he mentioned, we are going to impose an added potential burden in our balance of payments which will grow from £60,000,000 to £140,000,000 in the space of ten years, while actual undistributed profits will increase from £30,000,000 to £70,000,000.
We have reached a situation - and again I take this information from the reply to my question on notice - in which more than half of the capital that we are obtaining is either going back again or is capable of being withdrawn in undistributed profits each year. That is the reason why Lundberg has said that capital may prove to be a very risky way of trying to meet the balance of payments problem. I suggest that the Government, in this as in everything else, is taking the easy way out. Instead of endeavouring to attack the basic problems in the Australian economy which are militating against rapid development, the
Government is allowing them to continue. It is taking the easy, facile way of turning to capital imports to try to solve the balance of payments problem. This is indeed attractive because not only does it mean that the Government does not have to come to grips with the difficult problems of economic adjustment, but also provides an opportunity for leaders of the Government to go overseas and travel the world. This business of selling Australia is more a matter of selling Premiers and Prime Ministers than doing anything for the lasting benefit of the country.
– What about Joe Cahill?
– I suggest that that applies to everybody who acts in that way. The only difference between State Premiers and the Prime Minister is that the Premiers are the prisoners of the economic policy of the Commonwealth Government and have no broad initiative in forming or making economic policy. The State Premiers have little choice. They must accept the broad decisions on economic policy laid down by this Government. The responsibility lies primarily with this Government. We find the same story when we analyse the economic conditions of Australia generally.
I suggest, therefore, that it is time we had a second look at the over-eagerness of this Government to seek capital from overseas. Capital investment under reasonable conditions, with safeguards to meet the situation I have just described, can be a good thing; but when no attempt is made to govern the conditions of investment or the results that flow from it - which is the policy of this Government - such investment can prove to be a tragedy for Australia in the years to come.
.- I rise, if for no other reason, to reply to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), but I shall be brief because I am not in the best voice to-night. It is noteworthy that every time the honorable member for Yarra rises, he insults the two preceding speakers on the Government side. That is an old way of trying to get across to the people ideas that perhaps are not in the best interests of the country. One honorable member who was insulted to-night by the honorable member for Yarra was the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson). Everybody knows that the honorable member for Hume is a most intelligent man and one of the most gallant gentlemen, not only in this House but also in the whole of Australia. It is beyond comprehension that the honorable member for Yarra should rise in this House to insult a man of the calibre of the honorable member for Hume. I know that those who heard the insult will treat it as it deserves to be treated.
– The honorable member cannot take it.
– I certainly cannot take it when such an honorable member is insulted in that manner without rising to point out how wrong it is for any honorable member to offer such an insult.
Section 3 of the principal act is to be amended by inserting the following definition: - the Canadian agreement ‘ means the Agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Government of Canada for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income, being the agreement a copy of which is set out in the Third Schedule to this Act;
The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) was off the mark when he spoke about the taxes that would be imposed on Australian investors in Canada compared with those imposed on Canadian investors in Australia. However, I want to refer primarily to the statements of the honorable member for Yarra. His main attack was on the Australian Country party. Probably, that is the party he fears most.
– We only have to look at its members.
– There is the cheap insult again from the honorable member for Yarra. What is the reason for his tirade against the United States of America? That country has been our great ally in defence and in extensive trading. What is the reason for the honorable member’s attack upon it? With what country would he like us to co-operate? That is the question. If we cannot co-operate with the United States of America, with whom should we co-operate? I notice that the honorable member for Yarra did not mention an alternative; he did not suggest some other country with which we could cooperate. He knows which are the great powers of the world. He knows that we co-operate with our kinsfolk in the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth countries, and if we do not include America, the next greatest English-speaking country in the world, with whom does he want us to co-operate?
– The honorable member for Yarra did not object to anything of the sort. The honorable member for Mallee should not lie about it.
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor must remain silent.
– I have asked the honorable member for Yarra a simple question and I should like him to answer it, even by interjection.
– Everything the honorable member says is simple.
– There is another insult from the honorable member for Yarra. I suppose that I shall now be able to say that I have been insulted by an expert. The honorable member has proved himself to be an expert in insults. He referred to Sir Otto Niemeyer, who came to Australia in 1929 and demanded that certain things be done. The honorable member said that Sir Otto Niemeyer brought about the depression. How does he account for the great depression at that time in America? It was a world-wide depression. Does the honorable member suggest that some financiers came from England and we just had a depression here because of their actions? Of course, that is not correct at all. It was a worldwide depression but the honorable member has tried to centre it in Australia, without logic but for a certain purpose.
The honorable member said that if American or Canadian investors invested money in Australia, we would not be allowed to export certain goods derived from those investments because of some agreement. Supporters of the Australian Labour party say that investors are always grasping for money. Does he suggest that foreign investors would put money into Australia and sell their goods on the home market but would not permit the goods to be sold in another country? If they did that, they may bring about the failure of their investment. Of course, they would not do it. If it is true that people who invest capital want to make money, they will sell where they can. It is illogical to suggest that an overseas investor would enter into an agreement to prevent the export of goods manufactured as a result of his investment. Imagine the honorable member who made that statement having the nerve to say that the honorable member for Hume is illogical. The whole thing is fantastic. The honorable member for Yarra is a most illogical thinker if we are to judge him by his statements. Of course, he is trying to air his book-learning. He reminds me of the line we all know -
He still had hopes his book-learned skill to show.
In the Australian Country party we have men of experience who know what has been happening. They have had experience of the world. The honorable member said that he would like the Country party to show how the primary products of this country could be increased so as to bring our overseas balances to a satisfactory state. Foreign capital, combined, of course, with good seasons, has done much to build up our primary products to the record-breaking heights reached during the last ten years. However, even with good seasons, without machinery provided by foreign capital we would have been in what is called Queer-street. Every member of the Parliament knows that when this Government came into office, correspondence received consisted mainly of inquiries as to how tractors and other farming equipment could be obtained. Electors wrote, asking, “ Can you do something for me? “ Supporters of mine wrote, perhaps from Ouyen in the Mallee, that it was impossible to get harvesters.
– And they could not get petrol.
– As the honorable member for Canning says, we could not get petrol. That was when Labour was in office. Petrol rationing was in force and black marketing was rife. When the government was changed, investment in this country was encouraged, simply because a non-socialist government had been elected, and investors therefore felt that their investment was safe. Overseas loans did not come in the form of money but in the form of great earth-moving equipment, tractors, harvesters, and all those other things necessary to a young country that wants to build itself up. If a man starts a farm he has to get money from somewhere to clear it and get it into working condition so that it will pay. After all, the great primary-producing areas of Australia are made up only of a combination of farms and stations. A primary-producing industry consists only of a lot of farms and individuals - a lot of good Australians. The Labour party speaks about the great Snowy Mountains scheme.
– That is right. We started it.
– I give Labour full credit for that; but this Government has spent millions of pounds on the Snowy Mountains scheme which could not have been undertaken without the heavy earthmoving equipment that foreign capital has enabled us to bring to this country. That is the way in which we believe we can further expand our great primary industries. A young, growing country needs capital, for great water schemes, including irrigation. This is a country which has varying seasons. In my electorate one can see hundreds of square miles of dry land which needs rain. Further north, at Mildura, there has been an excellent dried fruit crop. The countryside there is a paradise. There is a book, the title of which, “Water Into Gold”, expresses the position well.
We often hear the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) say that we need more waterways and irrigation. Of course we do. I do not agree with him on everything. After all, if we gave him everything he wanted the country would be bankrupt in about six months. He always wants to reduce taxation but to increase payments to the people for all manner of things. However, I agree with him that we need more irrigation schemes to make this country safer. That is the answer to the honorable member for Yarra. Let us get in more money and more equipment. We have vast acreages. We have land which, with water, will grow anything, and every man, woman and child with the exception, apparently, of the honorable member for Yarra, knows it.
Once upon a time the Labour party was well known as an isolationist party, but I hope that it has outgrown that policy. It wanted Australia to be in isolation. The
Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is looking at me, but I am pleased to see that he is smiling, because he knows that what I am saying is true. Labour was an isolationist party, and it still has at least one isolationist member. The honorable member for Yarra says that we should not get foreign capital, that we should create our own capital, and that if we cannot get it in any other way, the printing presses will provide it. Are we not suffering sufficiently from inflation in this country? What would happen if we were to issue millions of pounds worth of bank notes, as has been suggested? Inflation would run riot, and in no time the country would be bankrupt. Fancy a man who has been acclaimed by certain members of the Opposition, although not by Government supporters, as a financial wizard saying things like that!
– You are doing the very thing that you accused the honorable member for Yarra of doing to the gentleman behind you. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
Order! The honorable member will cease interjecting.
– I think it is very good to give the honorable member for Yarra some of his own medicine. The honorable member who interjects would be one of the first to do the same. The honorable member for Yarra spoke about the old ideas of the honorable member for Hume who, he said, was back to the horseandbuggy days. But then the honorable member for Yarra went back immediately to the days of 1929. Every one knows that the progress made since 1929 is greater than the progress made in the 100 years prior to 1929. Great changes have taken place since 1929 in finance and methods of farming. No comparison can be made between the two eras.
I do not think the honorable member for Yarra really understood the position when he spoke about the need to expand our primary industry. I have already said that one way to do this is to get in more money and more earth-moving equipment and to establish more irrigation schemes. There is also another way of achieving this objective. When I made this suggestion recently in the House, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition jumped to his feet and said that he hoped the Minister would not take any notice of me. The subject comes within the ambit of this debate and my answer to the honorable member for Yarra. We must do something very quickly about our electoral boundaries- If we are to attract money by such agreements as this, we must have our country in a condition to use the money to the best advantage. The only way that we can make the best use of the money is to spend it in rural areas. We must attract people from the cities to the country. We cannot do that wholly and solely through the expenditure of money. We must provide in the country the amenities that are possible only if the country is given greater representation.
This debate has brought forth many ideas. I compliment the honorable member for Hume on the great speech he made. He never rises in this House without saying something that is sensible, commendable, and in the best interests of Australia.
– It has been really interesting to listen to the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). He told us about the years of the economic depression in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, and of how Sir Otto Niemeyer was blamed for his actions when he visited Australia at that time. Then the honorable member asked what brought about the depression in America at the same time. When things go wrong the honorable member blames the Labour party, but when an anti-Labour government, or a person like Sir Otto Niemeyer is the object of any blame for the economic depression, the honorable member asks how it came about that America had a depression at the same time as Australia. I have a kindly feeling for the honorable member for Mallee, and I did not take copious notes of his remarks so as to be able to reply to him in detail, because I want to refer to the bill before us and not to deal with a lot of extraneous matters such as those dealt with by some honorable members opposite during this debate.
I should like to compliment the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) on hi* speech. He quoted a statement by a Professor Lundberg, which was on the same lines as a statement that I, without having read Professor Lundberg’s remarks, intended to make in my speech. This is another occasion on which the fundamental policies of the Labour party and the Government parties differ.
– Thank goodness for that!
– For the benefit of the honorable member for Mallee I shall show exactly how the policies differ. The honorable member talked about the desirability of attracting overseas capital to Australia. I am not much concerned over the temporary investment of overseas capital in Australia when the principal is paid back within a relatively short period. I am concerned over the desire expressed by honorable members opposite to encourage the long-term investment of overseas capital in Australian industry. That is the subject dealt with in the quotation that the honorable member for Yarra read to us from Professor Lundberg’s book.
We have had the experience of investment in Australian industry by such firms as General Motors of America. Years ago, the Holden company was making motor bodies in South Australia. Then there arose a desire to have an Australian-made car. Mr. Chifley, when Prime Minister and Treasurer, took this matter up with the Holden interests. As a result, General Motors of America and the Holden interests in Australia combined to produce the Australian-made Holden car. I think that Mr. Chifley made one mistake in that matter. He allowed provision to be made for General Motors-Holden’s Limited to plough back into the industry, and also to remit to America, far too large a proportion of the profits of the company. The result of the ploughing back of profits is that the capital of the company has risen from £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 to about £40,000,000 or £50,000,000. This huge capital has been built up from the profits of work done in this country. Also, a large part of the profits is remitted to shareholders in America, who hold the bulk of the shares in the company, although the original American investment in the company was by no means comparable in extent to the capital that the company has since built up from Australian sources. We know that General Motors-Holden’s Limited is to all intents an American company, and that the greater part of its distributed profits are remitted to America.
If we are to continue to invite firms to come here, as the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Cahill, is doing in America this week, we have to consider the effect on our economy. If overseas firms, in effect, lend us money at an interest rate of 5 per cent, per annum we shall pay back only the interest and the capital; but if we invite firms to make long-term investments in Australia, as General Motors was invited to do, and they are allowed to plough back a large part of their profits into the industry and to remit another large part overseas, we shall, in effect, be paying interest at much more than 5 per cent, on the original investment. The ploughing back of the profits will increase the value of the investment in Australia and will increase, similarly, the amount of money that the firm will remit to its parent body overseas. If Australia now wanted to buy out the General Motors interest in General Motors-Holden’s Limited it would probably cost ten times as much to do so as the amount of American capital originally invested in that firm.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) said, on behalf of the Opposition, that we would not oppose the bill. I say that if we encourage a company in America or anywhere else to establish itself in Australia, we should be prepared to treat it in a proper manner in return for its capital investment. An American firm that establishes itself in Australia formerly had to pay Australian company tax at the rate of 7s. 6d. in the £1 on its profits. That amounted to £37 10s. out of every £100 profit. It also had to pay 3s. in the £1 on dividends, amounting to another £9 7s. 6d. out of each £100. That £9 7s. 6d. is now all we keep out of each £100 of profit. I agree that double taxation of such a company is not reasonable. A company whose investment in Australia we invite should not have to pay tax here on profits on which it will be taxed in its own country. After all, we would have invited it to come here in order to help to develop Australia industrially.
Personally, I have no great objection to the purpose of this measure, but I warn the Government and its supporters of the position that will arise eventually. As Professor Lundburg pointed out, in ten years the profits from an annual investment of £30,000,000 by overseas companies in
Australia could increase from £60,000,000 to £140,000,000. How could we repay the capital in the future, when it would have assumed tremendous proportions?
Honorable members generally, and members of the Australian Country party in particular, appreciate that the only way in which we can meet the great bulk of our overseas commitments is to sell enough primary products overseas. Some of our minerals are producing a large overseas income for us at the moment. If we proceeded along the lines advocated by the honorable member for Mallee, and attracted all the foreign investment we could get, our interest bill in respect of foreign investments would rise to a tremendous amount. The interest commitment on capital would increase as profits were ploughed back, and the time would come when practically all the return from the sale of our primary products overseas would be required to pay interest on foreign capital invested. The result would be that we could not afford to buy the goods that we needed to import.
The honorable member for Mallee spoke of the Snowy Mountains scheme and of the heavy earth-moving machinery that has come to Australia in connexion with it. Does he mean that no company in Australia owns that earth-moving machinery? Does not that machinery belong to this country? Have we not paid for it from loans borrowed at certain rates of interest? Do we not know definitely what the machinery has cost us?
– We have made some dollar exports from this country.
– That is so. South Australia, for instance, has exported crayfish tails - a big item in our dollar trade. There are quite a lot of other exports that earn us dollars, but not enough to meet all our commitments.
I am opposed to overseas borrowing altogether, but, if we must import capital from overseas, let us get it by borrowing the money we need, and not by allowing overseas investors to invest in companies in Australia, and then bleed us white before many years have pased. I think that honorable members should appreciate the writings of Professor Lundberg. I did not know his book, and I am thankful to the honorable member for Yarra for quoting from it. I had in my own mind something similar to the honorable member’s presentation of the problem, but I had not worked it out in detail as he presented it to us this evening. He has put before the Government and its supporters material about which they should think very studiously.
I do not intend to bandy insults back and forth with Government supporters. I do not agree with the honorable member for Mallee, who said that he was giving us back a little of our own medicine. That sort of statement means nothing. In giving us back some of our own medicine, as they term it, Government supporters have, at times, violently insulted, not only back-benchers in the Opposition ranks, but also our leader - a man whom we honour and respect.
– All the members of the party to which the honorable gentlemen belongs do not agree with that statement.
– Perhaps the honorable member thinks that he knows more than I do about what Opposition members think. We of the Opposition have as our leader a gentleman who will receive from the Australian people more support than the right honorable gentleman who leads Government supporters will receive when the people’s vote is taken.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKEROrder! I do not know what this has to do with the bill.
– You are quite right Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker. I know when I am out of order. It is all very well for other people to be hurling insults at Opposition members, but when we want to give Government supporters a little of their own medicine back, as they term it, we are out of order. No matter what Government supporters may say, and no matter what insults they may hurl at us in this House, they should know that we give our duly elected leader our full support.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER.Order! I have already asked the honorable member once to confine his remarks to the bill. If he continues his present line of discussion, I will ask him to resume his seat.
– I am coming right to the bill. I do not want to be sat down, and prevented from discussing the bill, but I should like to tell Government supporters that, if the honorable member for Melbourne Ports had not been assigned the task of leading for the Opposition in this debate, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) would have undertaken the task. Members of the Australian Labour party realize, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, just as do members of the party to which you belong, that the leader of a party cannot lead for his party in every debate. We do not expect our leader to do so. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports spoke in the terms that the Leader of the Opposition would have used if he had led for the Opposition, and it was in order to point that out that I referred to our leader.
We have been asked what the Labour party would do about Australia’s- financial problems, and the honorable member for Mallee had much to say about what the Labour party thinks and what it would do if it had the opportunity. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) had much to say about what he thinks of members of the Labour party, whom he terms socialists. If it is socialism to believe that a government should administer the laws and make the country’s financial arrangements in such a manner as to benefit the whole of the people, I am glad to be a socialist. If Government supporters regard as anti-socialism a system under which some people can get a return of 30 per cent, on their investments and others cannot even get decent amenities in their homes, I am glad that I am not an anti-socialist.
– Being a socialist-
Order! I ask the honorable member for Bruce to remain silent.
– Toss him out!
– No. I should not like to see anybody tossed out. I sometimes express myself a little forcibly, and I sometimes bubble over, and I can quite understand Government supporters bubbling over in the expression of their own opinions. I have no objection to that. I do not mind if they say that they want anti-socialism of the kind that I have just described, because I believe that I also have the right to stick up for what I believe in. What we of the Australian Labour party believe in is the welfare of the country and the people.
Government supporters believe in inducing foreign firms to invest in this country in enterprises to produce the goods that we are importing - and I want to see those goods produced in Australia - but they do not believe in limiting the profits that foreign investors may make in this country. If the Government would limit those profits, it would not be so bad. The honorable member for Hume spoke of hundreds of millions of pounds invested in Indonesia, and of British investments in other countries. He asked where those investments were to-day. He said that the British investors cannot recover the capital that they have put into those investments. Does anybody think that American investors would invest in businesses in Australia if they thought that they could not get their money back? They certainly would not. They know very well that this country is sound.
This country is sound, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, but if the Government continues, by artificial means, to try to maintain the flow of investment from overseas, ultimately, we shall have to pay back to overseas investors more than we can afford. We shall be in the same position as a person who commits himself heavily under hirepurchase agreements thinking that he will get an income of £30 a week all his life, only to find, suddenly, that his income is reduced to £15 a week. The hire-purchase firm will have to re-possess the goods, or he will not be able to stay solvent. I have a simple philosophy, and I do not mind if Government supporters think that I am simple to believe in it. My simple philosophy is this: A country needs the same solid financial outlook and standing that a family or a business needs, and it is wrong to adopt, in national affairs, a financial outlook that would not do for one’s own family or business, or to neglect to adopt a policy that would be sound for one’s own family or business. Any one who borrows money wants to know, at the outset, what he will have to pay back, and how the repayments will affect the family purse. We must adopt the same approach to the country’s financial affairs.
I fully realize the need for capital to maintain the immigration programme. When I hear members of the Australian Country party saying repeatedly that we must bring in capital from overseas, and, at the same time, maintaining that they believe in free trade, 1 wonder how Australia will fare in the future. No matter what gibes Government supporters may make, I say that Labour’s fundamental policy is solid and good. That policy, which 1 have supported over very many years, favours the cessation of borrowing as it is understood to-day, except for reproductive works which we know will pay their way and bring in money to repay, not only the interest but also the principal, before the project reaches the end of its economic life. That is the policy in which we of the Australian Labour party believe. The Government’s policy of incurring indebtedness to overseas countries by making borrowings which can be repaid only by exports in commodities that, sometimes, the lending country will not take, exposes Australia to the danger of finding itself with insufficient exports to meet its indebtedness. Under such a policy, the time will surely come when the living standards of the Australian people will be lowered. That is the thing about which I am most concerned, not only for the man at the top, but also for the man at the bottom. Let us build up for the Australian people standards that they can depend on being maintained, and let us not put this country in a position similar to that of the man who commits himself heavily on an income, as I have said, of £30 a week, only to find, in a few years, that his income is severely reduced, and that he cannot meet his commitments.
I do not wish to take the matter any further. I can understand why Government supporters raise cries of “ Hear, hear! “ at that remark. I notice that the ones that cry the loudest are usually those with little experience. They have not gone very far through the mill, and they do not know what these problems that we are discussing really involve. I have never been a wealthy man, and I have never wanted to be a wealthy man. However, I know very well the difficulties and problems that wealth brings in its train. I know that a person who accumulates a measure of wealth does not like to lose it and will try for all he is worth to hold on to it. He will do all he can to increase it. I do not blame him, because that is human nature. I am thankful that I have not had that inclination. All I have wanted was enough to enable me to get along fairly well, and so far I have been able to do that. I know what it is to be a “ cocky “ on the land, and to carry water at 10 o’clock at night. 1 know how it feels not to be able to pay the storekeeper for goods. I know what it is like when one of the kiddies needs a pair of socks and we do not know how to get them. I know those things, but I also know many of the methods of businessmen.
What I am about to say may not be popular, even with my own colleagues, but I feel that what is mostly needed to-day is a little action such as we saw in the film shown in this building to-night. That film showed how the share market started in the United States of America 300 years ago. Railways were being built. We were shown how a nurse went to a sharebroker to buy shares in a railway. We in Australia must realize that that sort of investment is needed. We cannot get people to lend enough money to fill the Commonwealth loans, but the point that strikes me most is that those who have large sums of money, which could well be invested in a loan, spend it. A yacht squadron has a fleet of boats in the outer harbour in my district. Some of those boats cost thousands of pounds. I live on the road that leads to the outer harbour and on Saturday or Sunday morning I see people in motor cars, with a little trailer carrying a small dinghy, going down to the outer harbour. They use the dinghy to go out to a beautiful boat. I do not envy them their money or their possessions, but I do say that those people should invest their money so that this country will advance. If they do not, overseas industries will come here, dividends will be paid to people in other countries and our standards will be reduced. If we are going to build up this country, we must all invest in it - you and me and every one else! Last night, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) opened a cash and a conversion loan. People with money already invested in a loan at 4 per cent., which could now be. converted to 5 per cent., may see advertisements offering 7 per cent, or 8 per cent. They may ask, “ What am I going to do? “
– You are going to take it.
– I am going to take it? T have a couple of hundred pounds in a loan that matures in the next fortnight, and that amount is going into this loan. I am not going to take the 7 per cent, or go to the unit trusts. 1 am not going to the hire-purchase companies, that offer 9 per cent, or 10 per cent, if the money is invested with them for a term not nearly as long as the term of the 5 per cent. Commonwealth loan.
– That is only £200. What about the thousands you have?
– I remind the honorable member that I was only “ cockying “; I was not selling the stock. I did not get much for what I did, but the honorable member may have been able to accumulate some money because he was sure of getting his percentage. When I sold wheat at 2s. lOd. a bushel, I still had to pay the full fee to the agent. He got his money every time without question, but the “ cocky “ was glad to get what he could for his wheat.
– You did not answer the question. What about the thousands?
– If I had that much money, I would go grey worrying about how to keep it. I will grow old gracefully because I will not have to worry about losing a lot of money; I will not have it to lose. However, putting these jokes aside, I remind the House that the man on the basic wage will not have even £200 coming due next month. The people with the big amounts, who always look for the best investment and asks the broker to buy the best shares, are the people who are responsible for the future of this country. I must apologize to honorable members if I appear to have got away from the bill.
– I said “appear to have got away from the bill “. I have done so because of statements made by Government supporters that the bill is designed to entice investments here. I rose to-night to answer those statements. I asked our Whip whether he had any further speakers. When he told me that he did not, I said “ I will have a go, if you like “. I was pleased to speak because this matter is very close to my heart. In the past, people have been asked by bankers to repay their overdrafts. When they have said that they could not, the banker has told them that he is not a money lender. That makes one think a bit and realize just what some of these places are.
This country must be sound financially. I believe that the only way to achieve that objective is to keep the ownership of property within this country. I do not make any suggestion that capital should be kept out of the country. Any overseas capital invested here should be invested at a certain rate of interest and for a definite period, at the end of which the amount should be repaid. We should not allow money to be invested in companies such as General MotorsHolden’s Limited, where profits are ploughed back so that a vast concern, owned by people overseas, is established. We support this bill so that people in Canada who have money invested here will receive justice. We do not support it because it will entice more money in the form of capital invested in foreignowned businesses.
I conclude by asking: Can we do something to ensure that overseas companies will never provide more than 49 per cent, of the capital invested in any industry in this country? I include profits that are ploughed back in the form of capital. Can we ensure that overseas companies will never own more than 49 per cent, of the assets of any Australian industry? If we can do that, we can ensure that all our industries will be controlled by Australians.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER.Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 15th April (vide page 893), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the following paper: -
International Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 15th April, 1958- be printed.
– It is natural enough that hitherto in this debate the ambit has been rather circumscribed. We have been looking at the area to the north of Australia, the area that is nearest to us. This is natural enough, because this area is now in some degree of ferment. It is also natural because we feel with some justice that this is the area that might affect us most. We also feel that it is the area that we ourselves might most be able to influence and affect. It is natural, therefore, that this debate on international affairs, instead of ranging more widely, has tended to concentrate upon this SouthEast Asian area.
I wonder whether the occasion should be allowed to pass without some reference to the wider overall picture. I say this because the wider overall picture is the only thing that can make events on this more circumscribed scene intelligible. We cannot understand what is happening even in SouthEast Asia without reference to the major currents now running in the world. Even in this circumscribed area events will be guided and controlled by what is happening on the wider scene. That wider scene is not altogether a pleasant one, either for us in Australia or for the countries of the free world, or, indeed, for any one, whether he be of the free world or on the other side of the iron curtain. One has only to read the newspapers of the last few days to be aware of the constant and inevitable threat that is facing us, and that we cannot put aside because it is necessary for us to maintain ourselves in a posture of defence lest we be overwhelmed.
While we have no mutual plan to prevent surprise attack, while Russia refuses the offers of the western world to establish an inspection zone that would be an extending one, we know that Russia is only waiting for an opportunity to attack us successfully. In these circumstances, we must take precautions to defend ourselves, because if we dropped our guard we would be for it. This is not a pleasant position for us, nor for those on the other side of the iron curtain. There has been failure on both sides, and there is the threat of failure for all humanity. We stand now in imminent danger of the worst kind of war, a war in which there would be no survivors. It is not a case of victory for Russia or victory for us. That no longer enters into it. The Russian plan has failed and our plan has failed.
Let us look at these plans and see what stage we have reached. The Russian plan was a very simple one. When atomic armaments were first invented in 1945 Russia determined, within a few months, on a ruthless and unprincipled plan, namely, that she would refuse to disarm, and would do everything to stall disarmament. She would pretend to be in favour of disarmament, but would refuse every practical measure that would lead to it. At the same time she would, while avoiding a major war, proceed with the manufacture of atomic armaments. Russia during these years was willing to face minor wars, as in Korea, because she regarded them as escape valves, things that from her point of view prevented a major war. All the time she was preparing her own atomic armaments, believing that if parity were reached she would have the opportunity of attacking us and, because of various geographical and organizational factors, she might be able to impose communism throughout the world as the outcome.
The Russian plan failed, and it failed for a reason that nobody can have foreseen. It failed because the bomb became too bad. When the Russian plan was laid down in 1946 and 1947 nobody thought that the hydrogen bomb would develop as it has. Nobody could possibly have forecast that these powers of devastation would become so great. The Russian plan, which was a plan to obtain atomic armaments and attack us, has failed because atomic armaments have become more powerful than anybody can have foreseen. So Russia is faced with a failure. But so, equally, are we, because we did not follow up the natural consequences of the situation as it developed. We refused to face the future. Our plans from 1946 onwards have been consistently short-sighted. We espoused what was known as the containment policy, but the containment policy was bound to fail. It might be argued whether it would fail in this year or that year, but it was quite inevitable that Russia would obtain atomic armaments, and from that point the containment policy would become untenable. What we did, in point of fact, was screw down the safety valve without drawing the fires from under the boiler. Naturally, we reached a position where our policy, which was well intentioned but shortsighted, failed. With the failure of the Russian policy and our policy, the policy of humanity as a whole comes perilously close to failure. At this moment humanity stands not very far from the brink of ultimate disaster, the kind of disaster that no previous generation could possibly have envisaged.
It is perfectly true that, at the present moment, we have a stalemate, because the bomb and other weapons have become so much more monstrously powerful than anybody can possibly have foreseen. But it is not a stalemate that anybody can envisage with any degree of relish, because it is a stalemate fraught with infinite peril, and we have no way of contracting out of it. It is of no use our surrendering - there is no safety in surrender. This question must be resolved if humanity is to survive, but the instruments by which it may be resolved are fragile, weak and chancy. One says this of the past, not in any spirit of recrimination, but in order to try to put the facts and to endeavour to face up to the situation as it now exists. We do ourselves a disservice if we lay our plans, whether they be plans of defence or foreign policy, on the basis of an old situation which has now vanished. For the present, our armament is necessary as a defensive screen. Drop that screen and we die. Russian propaganda is directed to our people to make us drop that screen. If we do, we are finished. So, armament is necessary in the present circumstances; but there can be no solution through a major clash of arms. If such a clash should come there would be nothing left worth salving.
Our foreign policy, therefore, must be based on quite new concepts. First, on our side, there must be a firm and integrated alliance which is capable of showing a front to Russia so as not to give her the deceptive illusion that she can cut us down one by one. The bonds that bind us together on our side are not firm enough for our safety and, at the same time, if they raise a suspicion of weakness, it may endanger humanity, including Russia.
The next thing is that there must be some equality of ideological approach for both sides, and this is fundamental tactics in the new contest to which we have to turn our minds, but which we have not yet started to think about. The scales are all weighted the one way at the moment because Russia is given powers of infiltration into our organization whilst we have no corresponding approach to the Russian people. The only outcome which can be an outcome of success or survival, is that there should be an approach from both sides which will reconcile the points of view. We cannot, ourselves, give every concession. If we do, we simply firm the Russians in their present attitude of giving us no concession and no means of approaching their people. We have given everything; they have given nothing. It is time that this situation was redressed and that some firmness was shown.
But beyond that, we have to envisage, whether we like it or not, disarmament under international control. I know that this means the abandonment of some of our conceptions of national sovereignty. Unfortunately, disarmament is no good without inspection, and unless there is an international body there can be no reasonable inspection. Furthermore, there must be some sanction and this is in the nature of a logical necessity; it is not something which can be argued against. However much we may dislike it, it is necessary that there should be some kind of international sanction against any violation of an atomic pact. I do not say, and nobody would think, that we can get to this point immediately. We must approach it by stages. But if we deny that this is the ultimate goal, then our future policy will continue to make nonsense - as our past policy has made nonsense - because we do not quite face up to the facts, which we may not like but which are inherent in the situation that has arisen.
Inside this framework, while we are working for this disarmament which we all desire - while we are working behind an armed guard which we must keep up to ensure our survival, pending disarmament under international control - the contest must be waged in terms of living standards, both material and moral. Living standards are not merely material; they include the real values of freedom which we can offer from our side and which could be attractive even to the Russian people if the Russian people were allowed to know about them. That is where equality of approach is necessary - to enable us to get to the people behind the iron curtain the knowledge of what is happening here. By such methods we can avoid the danger of the present Russian monolithic structure.
But let us remember also that a propaganda war is now the sharpest of the weapons which are being used on both sides. Do not let us continue to make the kind of mistake we are making to-day. In this respect, I instance the summit conference. I believe that Russia has no firm or genuine intention to go into a summit conference. I believe that she is going in for propaganda purposes. But if we refuse to go in, then we give to Russia the benefit of propaganda on the very greatest and most impressive scale. After all, our people do not remember the truth. They do not remember that it was Russia which walked out of the world assembly on disarmament. They do not remember, because we have not told them and do not remind them often enough, that it is Russia which is now imposing terms and refusing to have things discussed; it is Russia which is refusing to meet either in a small or large assembly, and is always bringing up some new difficulty. There is only one thing for us to do in these circumstances, that is to say to. Russia, “ We are ready to meet you at any time, on one condition only, namely, that the meeting will be free of conditions and. anything may be discussed at it. We are ready “. That should be our answer to the Russian propaganda, because right is on our side.
We have made a genuine effort at disarmament. Perhaps, we have been foolish in that we have allowed Russia to stall and to get the credit of endeavouring to disarm while, at the same time, she obstructed and sabotaged every positive effort which wasbeing made towards world disarmament. Our intentions have been good, but our propaganda has not been good. Our presentation of it has been bad, and I fear that, it still is. We are losing because we are allowing the Russians to put into our mouths the policy which Russia herself wants to espouse. We are allowing a position to arise where we seem to be the people who are refusing offers of negotiation whereas the real fact of the matter is. that it is Russia which pretends to. want negotiations and a summit conference but whenever a move is made towards it, it is Russia which sabotages that move.
It is Russia which makes conditions. It is Russia which says, “You cannot discussthis. We will not discuss that. We will not go to the conference unless Mr. A or Mr. B or that nation or this nation is present “. To that there can be only one effective answer and that is to say, “ We are ready to meet you at any time on the sole condition that there be no conditions “.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Makin) adjourned.
Taxation - Waterfront Employment - Hungary - Social Services - Sales Tax on Recordings - Security Service - Member for Parramatta.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to bring to the notice of the House, to-night, two matters. One is a suggestion to the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) in connexion with the preparation of the new budget. The second concerns some thought on the waterfront problem. 1 should like the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall), who is at the table, to place before the Treasurer, since he is not in the House, a suggestion that income tax deductions be allowed to parents whose children are being taught to play a musical instrument. There is a section of our taxation law under which education expenses are deductible from taxable income. That is a very vital concession, especially for a big family the parents of which are trying to train their children in this competitive age in which we live. I should very much like this other concession to be added to those already allowable under the general heading of education. I believe that fees paid for musical instruction, whether for piano, violin, or any other instrument, should be a deductible item from taxable income.
I shall give a specific reason why it has become more and more a necessity to encourage among Australian parents a desire to spend money on their children’s musical education. We have had television in our country for eighteen months now. Already, reports have come to us of children failing in their examinations this year, although last year some of them were at the top of their class. There is only one reason for that. They have become television mad. They rush home from school and sit before a television set until the parents tell them to go to bed.
I feel that we should do all that we can, as a parliament, to encourage creative talent among our young people, rather than permit this deadening passivity which will come as a result of television. Our people are becoming sitters in the half gloom. Some parents are growing apart from each other because one likes television and the other does not. Children must be weaned away from television sets. We have to try to restore a liking for creative music which, as far as I know, has had no government encouragement in the history of the Commonwealth. I make this appeal in an endeavour to encourage our parents to give their children a musical education.
I hope that the Treasurer will give serious consideration to including this expenditure as a deduction in the income tax assessment. I am now spending money in order to have my eldest daughter taught the piano. To do that I have had to buy a piano on hire purchase. I could not get one in any other way. I make no bones about it. We sometimes have to get things on hire purchase when we cannot get them in other ways. I needed a piano and it will take me five years to pay for it. I have three daughters and I want to spend money in training them to play the piano. Hundreds of other parents want to do the same thing. Many of them cannot afford it but if they knew that the £10, £12 or £20 a year that they spent on musical education for their child would be a deductible item for taxation purposes many more would be prepared to do what I am trying to do.
I am one of thousands of parents who want their children to play some musical instrument instead of becoming addicted to the stuff that is now heard on the air and seen on television and which is an insult to the intelligence of the people. It seems as though we are going to become a nation of sitters and viewers. When we want young people to take part in a musical evening not one of them can play a musical instrument.
– You are insulting the intelligence of Australians.
– I am not insulting the intelligence of any one. How many instruments can the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) play? I shall leave it at that, at present, and shall talk to the Treasurer about it, personally, as well.
To-day, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) put on a great act in this Parliament when answering a question about the waterfront. I have been trying to get out of him the reasons why the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority is interfering with the fifteen-man gang system that has been in operation for fifteen years in some ports, longer in other ports, and not so long in others. I have been trying to get the Minister to reveal the real motive behind the move to end the gang system. The Minister tried to make out that the move was intended to get more efficiency and a quicker turn-round of shipping. I should like to quote from an article that appeared on the centre page of to-day’s “ Daily Telegraph “ with a beautiful picture of Sydney Harbour - one of the finest harbours and ports of Australia. I ask the Minister and the Government to deny, if they can, the following factual statement which accompanied this splendid picture: -
The turn-around of shipping in Sydney last year was the fastest for any year since the war.
Yet, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority wishes to interfere with a system that has worked happily and smoothly over fifteen years because it wants to get a faster turn-round of shipping!
Here are some figures concerning the loading of apples into overseas ships in the port of Hobart. In 1954, between 26th February and 9th June, 2,769,190 cases were loaded. In 1955, between 27th February and 3rd June, 2,437,244 cases were loaded. In 1956, between 3rd March and 1st June, 2,442,244 cases were loaded. In each case, every bushel packed and delivered was shipped, and in each year the loading was completed ahead of the schedule allowed. That proves that the men in Hobart have done the job expected of them at quicker than the scheduled rate. The waterside workers’ branch in Hobart has given an undertaking, this year, to the State Fruit Board that the fruit will be handled as per schedule, and that the men who will load it will be members of the federation and no one else.
I am convinced that, behind this move, the real motive is to cut costs in loading and unloading of ships and not to get a quicker turn-round of shipping. In fact there will be no quicker turn-round, as the proposal is to reduce gang sizes. If honorable members opposite believe that we will achieve quicker loading of ships by reducing the size of gangs, they know very little about waterfront activity. I believe that the reduction in gang sizes will increase loading time and not decrease it.
I believe also that this proposal represents an act of calculated intimidation of watersiders. It will cause unemployment, because the proposal is to reduce the gangs to ten men when the jobs that they will have to do require fifteen men. Who is to say how many men are needed on a particular job? It might be said that ten men are needed, when no less than twelve or thirteen men are required to do an efficient job in a particular instance. Of course, there will always be less men on the job than are really needed, and the smaller gangs will be exploited by unscrupulous stevedores. I have waterside workers in my electorate. I have often been on the waterfront and have seen the operations there, and I know what I am talking about.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- On 22nd April the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) claimed to have been misrepresented in the House on the previous Thursday. When given leave to make a personal explanation, the honorable member said -
On Thursday last, 17th April, the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) said in this House that I had made certain statements about the Hungarian revolt. His quotation of the alleged statements appears on page 985 of “ Hansard “, I was absent from the House at the time and I saw the statements for the first time this morning. The statements are completely incorrect and I desire to say that at no time have I ever made the statements which appear on that page of “ Hansard “.
I stated at the time that I would take further steps to verify again the statements that I made when speaking to my motion on 17th April. I have done so, and I find that the statements I made on that occasion were correct. They have been verified in more than one quarter. They have been verified also by Senator John Gorton, who was present at the meeting to which T referred, which was held on. 11th December, 1956, and which was attended by the honorable member for Yarra. If the honorable member for Yarra recalls the occasion, he will remember that, with regard to the honorable member’s statement that Hungarians were excitable people, and that Hungarians were killing Hungarians and therefore not very much notice should be taken of the matter, Senator Gorton reminded him that in the case under discussion it was a matter of Russians killing Hungarians. Apart from the other verifications that I have mentioned, it seems clear that Senator Gorton would not have said anything about Russians killing Hungarians, when he was speaking to the honorable member for Yarra, if it were not for the fact that the previous statement had been made by the honorable member.
I do not wish to enter into a controversy with the honorable member for Yarra on this matter, but I do feel that in order to put the record straight I should make this statement, because I have been accused of misrepresenting the honorable member, and I believe that accusation to be unfounded.
.- I would not even rise to answer this allegation except that I feel impelled to point to a few aspects of the matter. The first point is that when a damaging statement is made about any person in the community, the motive or bias on the part of the person making the statement must be taken into account. Let me say, first of all, that I adhere to the statement that I made correcting the allegation of the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), reported at page 985 of “Hansard”. The allegation that the honorable member made is incorrect. I never at any time made the statements that he attributed to me, and I repeat my denial now.
The honorable member for Lyne made a very short speech, in which he said that my personal explanation was not correct - as though his statement in itself was worth something. Then he said that his original allegation had been verified in more than one quarter. He has mentioned one quarter; what about the others? He mentioned Senator Gorton. Let me say that Senator Gorton is quite a bitter political opponent of mine, and I believe that that fact must be taken into account when judging the statements that have been made. Let me say now that never at any time during the discussion at the university, of which Senator Gorton got much the worst, did Senator Gorton make any statement about Russians killing Hungarians. I deny that he made such a statement, and if it were possible to deny it on oath I would do so.
I wish to bring to your notice, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, an illustration of the way in which, in the heat of political controversy, one may lose one’s reason. A perfectly good example of this can be seen in the statements made by the honorable member for Lyne on 17th April, as reported at page 985 of “ Hansard I suggest that what happened in the case of the honorable member for Lyne then has happened also in the case of Senator Gorton in some conversation that he has had in the precincts of the House in recent times. Never at any time has Senator Gorton, either before or after he discussed it with the honorable member for Lyne, said to me personally that I made these alleged statements. Instead, he talks in some corner with the honorable member for Lyne, who then comes into this chamber and uses that conversation as evidence against me. Let him bring Senator Gorton to face me and make the allegation.
Let me point out the way in which one can get a little out of control in these discussions. According to the report at page 985 of “ Hansard “, the honorable member for Lyne said - but worse than that- by which he meant worse than the statement he attributed to a Mr. Lockwood - is the fact that when addressing students at the Melbourne University on 11th November, 1956, the honorable member for Yarra-
I ask honorable members to take note of the date mentioned there - 11th November, 1956. The honorable member for Lyne went on - the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) parroted Lockwood’s spate of lies . . .
The suggestion is that what I said was based simply on my reading of the statements of a Communist called Lockwood, and that I parroted his spate of lies. In the previous column of the “ Hansard “ report the honorable member for Lyne said that Lockwood’s statement appeared on 22nd
November, which was eleven days after 1 -was supposed to have parroted it. I suggest that in presenting a deliberate distortion of this kind, or a distortion arising from the heat of the moment - let me give the honorable member for Lyne that much benefit - the honorable member exposes himself as a man who is not to be trusted to report accurately to this Parliament anything that occurs.
I think I need do no more than point out these things to the House in reply to the charges again made by the honorable member for Lyne, after my personal denial of them in this House. He has made his allegations afresh, but having pointed out these facts from the record I do not think I need say any more in answer to the honorable member.
– I am pleased to see that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) is in the chamber, because I want to bring to his notice some very serious anomalies in the social services legislation, which I hope he will rectify by the time the Budget is presented. I hope he will not use the usual excuse that is put forward at Budget time, to the effect that it is then too late to make any alteration. This warning or request - call it what you like, for it is both - gives him ample time to give effect to the propositions that I am about to put forward, if he really feels inclined to do so. I have discovered, while working amongst pensioners, that many glaring anomalies exist. A pensioner can own a motor car worth £1250 and it is not taken into account in connexion with his pension, but if he buys a caravan for £300 and attaches it to a motor car, or has a caravan without a car, the value of the caravan is taken into account in the property test and his pension is reduced accordingly. Surely, that is stupid. 1 ask the Minister for Social Services to have the law amended or, if it can be done, to alter departmental instructions to provide that a caravan will no longer be regarded as anything different from a motor car, and will not be taken into account in a property test in allotting the pension.
I direct attention now to Commonwealth bonds owned by pensioners. It would be a wonderful thing for the loan market if the Government would announce that from now on pensioners who have money in Commonwealth loans will not have the value of their bonds used against them in the application of the means test. Since the majority of persons now of pensionable age own 3i, 3i and 3£ per cent, bonds which, if put on the market, would sell at a pretty heavy discount, that would be one way of restoring to something near their face value bonds owned by pensioners. What I suggest is that in the case of pensioners, ownership of Commonwealth bonds should not be taken into account in the property test.
Will the Minister also consider allowing the pension cheques to be paid directly into the bank account of pensioners instead of being forwarded to them through the post? It would be much more convenient for a pensioner if his money could be paid directly into a bank. He could then draw the money at the time most convenient to him.
Another matter that requires attention is the position of deserted wives in relation to pensions. Many women of pensionable age, without means of support because they have not lived with their husbands for periods, in some cases, up to 14 years, are denied the pension because they are still legally married. The Government takes the view that if a woman is married, it is her husband’s duty to maintain her in spite of the fact that the wife cannot possibly live with her husband any longer and has left him, as I have said, in some cases for as long as 14 years. In cases in which it is proved beyond doubt that the wife has been deserted, the Government should regard her as being eligible for the pension if she has no other means. At present, the Department of Social Services rules that if a deserted wife wants a pension, she must obtain a divorce from her husband or get a separation. Often the woman concerned cannot get a divorce from her husband even if she wanted to as many of them have left their husbands because they have been illtreated or cruelly treated. Legally, they are not entitled to claim a divorce.
– I do not think that is correct. If they apply for maintenance and their application is refused they can get the pension.
– No, they cannot. The husband can say, “ No, I will not maintain you unless you live with me. This is where you live. If you want me to maintain you, you can come home “. It is useless to suggest that all a woman has to do is to apply for maintenance. The husband has only to reply, “ You come and live with me and I will maintain you “. I ask the Minister for Social Services to stop reading the book he has in his hand and listen to me and give consideration to the plight of the unfortunate people to whom I am referring.
– The Minister is a zombie.
– I do not think he is a zombie.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– Do you wish me to withdraw, Mr. Speaker?
– I withdraw what I said.
– And the honorable member for Stirling will follow suit.
– I withdraw.
– And the honorable member will remain silent, particularly when he is sitting at the table.
– I hope that the Minister for Social Services will stop reading his book when I refer to the aborigines. If they live on a reservation, they are not entitled to the age pension, the invalid pension, the maternity allowance and other social service benefits which are granted to ordinary Australians. The strange thing about the act is that they are granted the full benefit of child endowment but are not entitled to unemployment, sickness, invalid, maternity and other benefits.
I shall address my remarks now to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) and request officers who are listening for him to ask him to consider extending to pensioners the privileges that are now applied to service personnel for the despatch of telegrams. A member of the services can send a telegram of sixteen words anywhere in Australia for 7d. That privilege should be extended to pensioners. It seems to me to be very hard on a pensioner to compel him to pay 4s. for a telegram which a member of the armed services can send for 7d. It is only proper that members of the services should have this privilege, but it is equally proper that old people who are too old to fight and too old to work as they did at one time, should get a similar privilege.
Finally, I ask the Postmaster-General, when reviewing the laws governing the issue of wireless licences, to allow a pensioner to have a broadcast listener’s licence at the reduced rate of 10s., irrespective of the fact that some other person may live in the same house and may listen to the wireless. I submitted a case to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in Adelaide some time ago, and was told that a pensioner could not get the reduced rate because her daughter lived in the same house and might listen to the wireless too. Surely, it is carrying the thing to an absurdity when a mother is compelled to keep her daughter at home to look after her, and although the mother is a pensioner she cannot get the wireless licence at the reduced rate because her daughter too might listen to the wireless.
.- I direct the attention of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall), who is at the table, to a matter which comes within the province of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden). I refer to representations that I made last year concerning a reduction of sales tax. A number of firms in Australia - and one in particular in the electorate I represent - produce long-playing records. In the case of the firm to which I refer in particular, a production known as the “ Spotlight Production “, is recorded by Australian artists. The company concerned is also wholly Australian; and the record is processed and manufactured wholly in Australia. It is sold in an attractive cover which is also printed in Australia. Since the Government introduced the current sales tax of 25 per cent, on these records, a number of the local companies which employed all-Australian talent have had to close down simply because they could not compete with records processed overseas.
American companies in Australia naturally do not set up dramatic presentations here. They import a key record processed overseas and take imprints of it in Australia. This operation requires very little capital and each copy can be produced much more cheaply, as these products are not subject to sales tax in the country of origin. They therefore have a large sale, both in America and here. The effect is that American artists are employed in priority to Australian artists. I think that any one who has heard these records will appreciate that the employment of our own artists is much more advantageous to the cultural development of this country than is the importation of the American product. Any one who likes American dramatic presentation may have a different opinion.
The Treasurer, in reply to my representations, said that he would place the matter before Cabinet in relation to the next Budget. I therefore ask him to give further consideration to this request. The reduction that we seek will, if granted, apply only to the manufacture, processing, musical reproduction, and artistic presentation of the recordings in this country. We ask that the sales tax be reduced in favour of the Australian product, in relation to which Australian and not American artists are employed. This product is wholly produced in Australia. I ask the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), who is at the table, to place these representations again before the Treasurer, so that this small meed may be given to a very deserving cause.
The second matter with which I want to deal briefly is in relation to representations which I think have been made by my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), on the importation of artificial lambswool from Japan. In Victoria a number of tanneries are producing lambskins for lining boots, slippers, and other articles. Already, even before the full impact of the Japanese Trade Agreement has been felt, at least 25 per cent, of the industry has been adversely affected. Those engaged in the industry believe that the effect of the full impact of that agreement will be a reduction in the remaining 75 per cent, of the industry. The artificial lambswool imported from Japan sells at about 18s. per square yard in Australia. It does not last one-quarter as long as does the local product, which sells at about 29s. a square yard. Already, three Australian mills have closed down. The managements of the remaining three mills believe that unless some protective action is taken in the immediate future those mills will likewise be faced with extinction. They ask the
Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) to review immediately the importation of artificial lambswool. They ask that, if action along these lines is not forthcoming, the Australian product be labelled, “Genuine lambswool. A product of Australia “, or in some similar fashion. The people will then know that they are buying genuine lambswool instead of a synthetic lining which is run off by the yard and used in cheap footwear.
I ask the Minister at the table to refer this matter to his colleague, the Minister for Trade, in order that the whole matter may be reviewed. The industry in Australia is very small, and the number of men employed is relatively few, but that is no reason why these men should be thrown to the wolves and the industry destroyed. If people are being induced to purchase a synthetic product of Japan, believing that they are purchasing genuine lambswool, the only remedies are to stop the importations or to label the imported article so that people who appreciate the difference will buy the genuine lambswool. I ask that the first course be taken. Failing that, I ask either that appropriate legislation be introduced or that this Government use its good offices with the States to induce them to label their products effectively.
– There is a matter which I have been requested by some residents in the Parramatta electorate to raise in this Parliament. They are worried because they are unable to ascertain the whereabouts of their federal member. The honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Garfield Barwick) was elected on 8th March last. He made an appearance in this House, and spoke a few words, but now he has disappeared. Some of his constituents have advertised in the local paper, seeking information as to his whereabouts, but as they have received no response to their advertisement, they have asked me to raise this matter in the Parliament in the hope that the Government will enlist the good offices of the security service in an effort to locate him. It is a rather serious matter for a member to disappear so suddenly and mysteriously, particularly as, during the by-election campaign in which I participated, assisting the Labour candidate, I read and heard speeches made by Government supporters - the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in particular - assuring the electors of Parramatta that in the honorable member they would have an able representative in the Commonwealth Parliament who would devote his whole time to their requirements. Now, within a few weeks of his election, some of his constituents are looking for him and cannot find him. If the Government does know his whereabouts, will it arrange for me to be supplied with his forwarding address so that I can pass it on to the electors of Parramatta?
The other matter which I want to raise concerns an inquiry which I made of the Prime Minister regarding his own security guard. Honorable members will recollect that some time ago the Prime Minister was supplied with a security guard. I always regarded it as a sort of political stunt with the idea of creating public hysteria and a belief that there was some internal enemy who was likely to assasinate the Prime Minister. When I asked the Prime Minister the other day about the full-time security guard, he said he had never had a fulltime guard. If the danger was as grave as the Prime Minister tried to make out at the time, why did he not have a full-time guard? Evidently, the guard worked eight hours a day and went home, when apparently the danger ceased to exist, if we can take any notice of what the Prime Minister told us.
There is no doubt in the world that the Prime Minister did have a security guard because this used to be one of the sights of Canberra. One could stand out on the steps and watch the Prime Minister depart, with the security guard in pursuit. He was a very big chap and he had a very small car. It was one of the delights of the local residents to watch the security guard try to get into his car and take off rapidly so that the Prime Minister’s limousine would not leave him too far behind. I naturally believed that he was a full-time guard. That is why I directed the question to the Prime Minister.
I suppose it is too much to expect the Prime Minister to be in the chamber for more than ten minutes each day, but I should have liked him to tell me and other honorable members who are interested in this matter at what particular point the danger ceased to exist and when the guard was dispensed with.
Here is the Prime Minister of Australia exposed to terrific risks! He went to the Sydney show and actually allowed one of the axemen to shave him with an axe. Moreover, he went into some outback public house and shouted for the bar after he had counted very carefully and made sure only five people were present. Here is the Prime Minister on his “ meet the people “ campaign. Having listened to the speeches of the honorable member tor Lyne (Mr. Lucock), the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), one would imagine that there were many enemies of the Prime Minister abroad in this country. Yet he goes out on this campaign and, according to his own statement, he now has not a security guard. I am worried about it. Therefore, I ask the Government to convey my remarks to the Prime Minister in the hope that on one of his infrequent visits to the chamber he may be in a genial enough mood to give me the information that I am seeking. I asked a question and have not received an answer, but I am hoping it will be forthcoming at an early date.
– I feel that, as Government Whip, I should reply to some of the statements made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) to-night. However, I shall not endeavour to reply in the same satirical vein as was adopted by the honorable member. He treated us to a considerable amount of entertainment which was doubtless the reason why we did not see him for a considerable part of the day - evidently he was preparing for his speech to-night.
I direct attention in particular to his remarks about certain constituents in the Parramatta area. If those constituents exist in reality, and not merely in the very fertile imagination of the honorable member for East Sydney, evidently they are more interested in the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Garfield Barwick) to-day than they were during the by-election campaign. During that campaign it was made quite plain that, because of the high position that he occupied in the community, he Honorable member for Parramatta had commitments that he would have to discharge even if he were elected. No secret was made of that fact. So I can clear up the obvious concern perhaps I should say the synthetic concern of the honorable member for East Sydney about the absence of the honorable member for Parramatta. At the present time, the honorable member for Parramatta is overseas discharging commitments which, in fairness to the people with whom they were entered into, he could not break.
– What about his commitments to the electors?
– Order! The honorable member for Yarra will remain silent.
– Earlier this evening, the honorable member for Yarra asked honorable members to listen to him while he set forth what he considered to be the truth. He should show the same consideration when some one else is speaking the truth. In the brief time that the honorable member for Parramatta was in the chamber, I think we all formed a certain impression of his character and felt that he would not willingly break commitments into which he had entered. It was with the greatest reluctance that he went overseas. In entering Parliament he has forgone quite a number of things that would have been beneficial to him personally, but in this instance it was necessary for him to go abroad. I am certain that many honorable members who claim to be concerned about his absence will be very sorry when he returns and participates in debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.26 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
m asked the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
When did his department receive instructions from the Department of Health to prepare Statutory Rules 1958, No. 23, notified in the “ Commonwealth Gazette “ on 31st March, 1958?
– My colleague, the AttorneyGeneral, has advised me that instructions for the preparation of the statutory rule referred to were received by the Parliamentary Draftsman on 18th February, 1958. The draftstatutoryrulewas despatched by the Parliamentary Draftsman on 21st March, 1958.
Laying of Wreaths on War Memorials.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice: -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
September to 15th October, inclusive in these proclaimed waters; (c) amend the Fisheries Act to enable a closed season for female crayfish, corresponding to that in Victoria and Tasmania to be imposed, and (d) introduce a pot limit for crayfish boats.
d asked the acting Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has replied as follows: -
t asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The information is as attached.
” SPOILT BALLOT-PAPERS.
If by mistake or accident you spoil a ballotpaper you may, on giving it up to the Presiding Officer, receive a new one.”
These posters are exhibited in a conspicuous position in each voting compartment of the polling booth and also outside the booth.
Statement showing -
y asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: A. COMMONWEALTH OWNED PREMISES.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 April 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1958/19580430_reps_22_hor19/>.