22nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon.. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to anounce to the House that during the absence of -the Treasurer -I will take ‘over his -duties and act as Treasurer.
– -ls the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs .able to give the House any information regarding the situation described by President Eisenhower as affecting the islands of Matsu and Quemoy, off .the :coast of .continental China? .-Is any (policy :or view of the Australian Government .available? If 4he Minister lis -unable to state such policy -or view now, will he appoint .a day on which he can .make a statement?
– In order to make a comprehensive statement on this subject it would be necessary ito have .one prepared. In reply to the .right honorable gentleman, let me say that the Australian position is identical with that of the .United States in the sense that -the Australian ‘Government fully supports the United .States in its .efforts to .ensure that there is -no resort to force in any territorial dispute over the Formosa Strait. The Australian Government is hopeful that the resumed ambassadorial .talks between representatives of the United States and Communist China will result in a relaxation of tension .and, eventually, a negotiated settlement.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question relating to the request by the Premier of Western Australia for a licence to -export iron ore in order to establish a charcoal iron industry from the proceeds. Will the right .honorable gentleman Jay on the table of -the House the correspondence between himself and the Premier of Western Australia on this subject? I make this .request because there seems to.be some doubt why an officer from the Treasury has .not yet gone to Western Australia .to examine the .details of Mr. Hawke’s proposals.
– This matter :has been raised in the -House before, and I have observed some rather astonishing statements about -it in ‘a -section of the press “in Western Australia. 411 those circumstances, I:have. come to the conclusion that it would be wise ito .-make available .to honorable members, particularly for the ‘benefit of honorable members from Western Australia who are vastly interested in this matter, the whole of the correspondence up to date. -I -therefore propose to table the correspondence, and to make it available, ^particularly to Western .Australian members, so that they may fully understand the position. ‘Copies are available immediately for .those honorable members who are interested.
– I desire to ask -the Minister -for Labour and National Service a question. Has his attention been directed to ‘the fact that the ‘former manager of the Commonwealth ‘Handling Equipment Pool has received a position as employment officer at the Valley branch of his department? Was the -appointment to this position -made by the Minister? If not, by whom was it made? Is the Minister aware ‘that there is a waiting list -of applicants for -positions in ‘the ‘Public Service, many of them highly qualified for such a position, including -ex-servicemen clerks?
– I do not call to mind the appointment , to which the honorable gentleman has referred. I shall have immediate inquiries -made and see what information I can supply.
– Has the Minister for Air any information for the benefit of .the House related to the visit of United States naval aircraft to New South Wales?
– I am .glad to ‘tell the honorable member .that -at ,present two United States naval - aircraft are -operating from Richmond. They are based at Honolulu and .have come here on what is becoming a regular visit ..every six months. The aircraft are of the type that we call
Neptune maritime reconnaissance aircraft. Some of our Neptune aircraft of No. 11 Squadron visit Honolulu twice a year for similar training with the United States Navy. The American aircraft are engaging at present in exercises with our own aircraft and with ships of the Royal Australian Navy. They are providing, I think, an interesting example of the close cooperation that has been developed between Australian and American forces in these matters.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he will inquire into the policy being adopted by TCN, channel 9, in regard to the selection of the panel for the session “ Meet the Press “. Will the Minister ascertain how often the panel is changed, what are the qualifications of its members, and for what reasons certain members are left off the panel from time to time? Will he ascertain also why certain well-known, skilled and penetrating questioners on political events conveniently appear to be missing from the panel at times when they might well be expected to be on hand, such as on Sunday night last, 14th September? Will the Minister ascertain whether these questioners are deliberately excluded from the panel, and inexperienced questioners substituted in order to suit the convenience of the personality being interviewed ot to ensure that only the right questions are asked and the right answers may be given according to the attitude of the newspaper interests in control of the station; in other words, to ensure that the personality will “.stay in line with channel 9 “?
– It is no part of my job, or of the job of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, to attempt to determine exactly what persons will be used by the commercial television stations in presenting their programmes. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board carries out what might be termed a general supervision of the quality of the programmes and the standards of the commercial stations. However, the policy of this Government is to ensure that there is no undue governmental interference with private enterprise, and we do not interfere in such matters as the honorable member has mentioned in his question.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of his deep interest in the bulk handling of sugar at Queensland ports, and particularly in the employment locally of former wharf labourers at congenial work, can he say whether satisfactory arrangements were made at Lucinda Point for former port workers to enter other avenues of employment in the sugar industry in their own locality?
Would it be correct for me to assume that of 87 former port workers at Lucinda Point, 71 have been satisfactorily employed in areas near their homes and that the other sixteen have gone to other parts of Australia? In view of the national value of installing modern bulk handling methods at other Queensland ports, will he arrange to be represented at, or attend personally, a screening of the Mackay bulk handling installations at work, to be held in Senate Room 17 to-night at 7 o’clock, to which all honorable members have been invited?
– Answering the latter part of the honorable member’s question first, I very much regret that another official engagement will prevent me from witnessing what, I am sure, will be a very interesting exposition of the Mackay installations at work. I hope that there will be another opportunity to see it.
The Department of Labour and National Service has taken an active part in arranging for the re-engagement of waterside workers who have been displaced both in Mackay and at Lucinda Point as a result of the installation of bulk sugar loading facilities there. I am glad to report to the honorable member and to others who may be interested, that these arrangements have worked out very well indeed. There has been remarkably little dislocation. I think that, almost without exception, those who were eager to obtain alternative work have been placed in the neighbouring district or transferred to another branch of the federation. Failing that, they have found work in some other occupation.
The honorable member has mentioned certain figures. My recollection is that those figures accurately represent the position at Lucinda Point, and I have every confidence that with the co-operation of the sugar industry, the union and all other interests concerned, we shall have similar success in placing people from other ports in which bulk handling equipment will be installed.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to the statement made recently by the Victorian Liberal Minister for Housing, Mr. Petty, to the effect that the Federal Treasury should be realistic in its approach to the housing problem and that it should release immediately special funds to be restricted to housebuilding, especially for the benefit of persons in the lower income groups? Does the .right honorable gentleman agree with the submissions of Mr. Petty, and if so, is he prepared to give serious consideration to their implementation?
– I have not seen the statement referred to. I am bound to say that I think the Commonwealth’s treatment of these financial problems as they concern the States has been extremely liberal. As I have pointed out more than once, and as the Treasurer pointed out in the course of his Budget Speech, we have in fact found a great deal more money for the States this year by way of tax reimbursements, although our own tax receipts are estimated to fall quite sharply.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that last week the Commonwealth Director of Health and the Deputy Director of Lighthouses and Navigation in Tasmania were called upon to make a most hazardous excursion to pick up a badly injured member of the lighthouse staff on Tasman Island which involved a very considerable risk to themselves and the patient in the circumstances of terrain and weather? Will the Minister, as a matter of urgency, consider empowering a Commonwealth doctor to charter immediately any available helicopter in similar dangerous circumstances where such an action is obviously warranted? I would stress that similar incidents have previously occurred and that it is only by good fortune that fatalities have not resulted.
– I do not know that it would be possible to have a standing order, as it were, for a helicopter to be available on such occasions as the honorable member has mentioned. However, I will have a look at the suggestion and give the honorable gentleman a considered reply.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. What percentage of viewing time on television channels is devoted to Australian artists? Is it a fact that station TCN, channel 9, presents only three live shows each week, between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.? Is it also a fact that all three shows are likely to be cancelled in the near future in order to present tenthrate film programmes? Is the practice of presenting imported film programmes instead of live shows due to the fact that it takes at least 25 people to produce a small and unambitious live show, compared with only three people to present a film programme? Will the Minister investigate these matters and take action to ensure that Australian artists are engaged on the basis of what they can do rather than of what they cost?
– From time to time I am supplied by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board with a summary showing the time devoted by commercial television stations to the various forms of programme that they present. My recollection of the last report, which is now some weeks old, is that the percentage of time given to programmes with Australian content varies from about 35 per cent, to just under 50 per cent. It varies with the different stations. The honorable member asked whether a survey would be carried out to ascertain the time that is being devoted to programmes using Australian artists. I can assure him that this is being done continuously. As I have told this House previously, I am satisfied that the licensees are doing their best to increase the use of Australian talent. But this is not something than can be achieved overnight. It is something which, if attempted in too great a hurry, could result in the provision of programmes for Australians which would not be of any great benefit to Australia, and would not redound to our credit or enhance the reputation of our programmes throughout the world.
– Will the Minister for Air indicate the position regarding the future operation of No. 7 Stores Depot, Royal Australian Air Force, in Queensland? Is it a fact that this depot was principally con,cerned with- stores required for the maintenance and servicing of Lincoln aircraft? In View of the change-over to Canberra aircraft; will stores for the servicing of this type of aircraft in the future be handled by No. 7 Stores Depot?
– It is true that No. 7 Stores Depot at Toowoomba has been principally occupied with handling spares for Lincoln aircraft,, which are now largely going out of service. Since the return of No. 1 Squadron from Malaya, which squadron, is now being re-equipped with Canberra aircraft, the requirement for Lincoln aircraft spares is limited to- one maritime reconnaissance squadron, No. 10 Squadron. Consequently, less storage capacity will be required for Lincoln spares, but the honorable member need have no fear that the depot will be closed. It is also used for holding heavy motor equipment, and other uses for the available storage space are being considered by the Air Staff. There is no-intention to close the depot.
– My question is directed to the’ Minister for the Interior. This is the first- time in 35 years that I have not had some personal interest in the subject of my question. Will the Minister see that the furniture and books in the Cairns electoral office are transferred to the new office? The new office has been completed for some time, and the old office is without ventilation and is a very poor place to work in. When I was in Cairns recently I found that the furniture and the material had not been removed to the new office.
– I am afraid that I can only promise the honorable gentleman that I shall look into the subject of his complaint and see what can be. done, about it.
– By way of explanation of a question which I address> to the Minister for Labour and - National Service. I state that serious allegations have” been made to me concerning the treatment of unemployed persons on the track at one of the principal towns of my electorate in the north. Although this matter lies: within, the province of the States, I shall direct a question to the Minister concerning the federal aspect of the matter. Is it a fact that persons who become unemployed cannot obtain unemployment relief for a fortnight? Is it also a fact that if a person leaves his locality and1 goes on the track, looking for work, before that fortnight is over, he has no documentary evidence that he Has been registered as unemployed?’ fs it also a- fact that if the person goes to another locality, looking for work, he cannot register for a fortnight and therefore becomes subject to action by the police, Who might be inclined to be harsh on the ground’ that he is infringing the vagrancy laws? If these are facts, would it not be possible to have a person registered as unemployed and a document issued to him to that effect so that when he arrives in a new locality he might be able to obtain, unemployment relief SInCe, apparently, it is impossible for such people to remain for a fortnight in a locality without being subject to the action that I have described and concerning which, although I have no proof, allegations have been made to- me by a number of responsible persons?
– -The facts are not as represented to the honorable gentleman. The position, shortly, is this: A person who applies to one of the offices of my department for work is issued, at that time, with an income statement. A week after the income statement has been issued, if the person concerned has not secured work in the intervening period and he is able to qualify subject to the means test arrangements which apply, the unemployment benefit, is paid. If the person decides to seek work outside the district from which the income statement has been issued, he takes that with him. It can be lodged at any office of the department in any other part of Australia. If, over the intervening period, his income has not exceeded in that week £2. which would affect his qualification for benefit - it starts to abate after income of £2 has been received - he can secure his unemployment benefit there. So he does not have to~ wait a fortnight” before he’ qualifies. Also, he does- have some documentary’ evidence, of ‘ application which can be. taken with him wherever he goes. So the: problem of. being charged as’ a vagrant- I gather from the honorable, gentleman’s questions because he has not: proper, means of. support - will not arise if he has registered and he has his income statement with him. ;
De.. EVATT.-I .should, like to ask- the Minister a question supplementary to. that asked by the. honorable member for New England. Supposing, the facts were as stated by the honorable member, what would, be- the earliest time at- which unemployment benefit- would be payable in the town , where the- applicant was? Would he npt be entitled; to- some payment of unemployment benefit within the fortnight as suggested, if he were without means?
– An applicant qualifies for benefit after a week of unemployment has run, provided, as I have said, that his income statement does not show that he is disqualified by virtue of income earned, or family circumstances, which would affect the issue. I cannot answer offhand- as to the time within which payment, would actually be made, .because payments are made, or at least processed, through the machinery- of- the Department of Social Services. However, I will get that information’ for the right honorable gentleman* -
– That may be the weakn’ess
– But it does not affect the point of substance raised by the honorable member for New England, as I understood, it. I gathered from his question that .people had been embarrassed by action taken . against them on the ground that they were vagrant and without lawful means of support. A person has a- clear answer to such a’ charge ifr he: has. registered, and’ has the document, indicating that he ‘has done so. : ‘ ‘
– My question is addressed to’ the Minister for Labour and National Service in his capacity as Minister acting in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Is the’ right honorable gentleman aware that hospital. ‘ authorities in ‘ the , United Kingdom recently stated” that’ woollen blanket’s are more subject fo bacterial infection than are cotton blankets, and that those authori ties advised hospitals, to change to cotton blankets? I understand that, because of the importance of this .claim to the Australian woOl .industry, the C.S.I.R.O. immediately conducted an investigation to determine its accuracy. Can the Minister say what conclusions were reached?
– I have been advised. to-day by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization that; later ‘ to-day, it will issue a detailed statement covering this matter. The problem of. cross-infection in hospitals has worried hospital authorities for- a considerable time, and it .has been felt that particles of cloth, fibre, or other material in the air could carry infection from one patient to another. The C.S.I.R.6. has conducted extensive research into this problem, and this has.. revealed, that only , a very small percentage, of the fibre present in the air in hospitals -.comes from woollen material. I think, that,-, in point of fact, it amounts to only- about 3 per cent.. Cotton material - principally cotton fibre - or other cellulose material comprises 96 per cent, of the fibre present in .-the air .of hospitals.
– Is this a “ Dorothy-Dixer “?
– No, not exactly. The honorable member for Barker indicated last week that- he was* inquiring into: this matter. The C.S.I.R.O. has been working on it for. some time. I suggest to the honorable, member for East Sydney that it is a matter of considerable importance, not only to hospital authorities, but also to the wool industry of - this country. As I have said, the research undertaken by the C.S.I.R.O. indicates,, first, that woollen fibre constitutes a. very small proportion indeed of the total fibre material in the air, and secondly, that woollen blankets, provided that they have been treated, by the shrink-proof process, can be laundered in such a way as to prevent any danger of bacterial infection being transmitted by them. So wool would appear to be just as- satisfactory a material’ for ‘hospital’ blankets as are other materials!. Also it has the other virtues of- wool - warmth and- so forth - with, which we ali:, are familiar, :and which, I:suggest, make it very much more desirable It; can- at. least hold its own, from the stand-point of infection, if his , properly treated, and I think it ,has obvious advantages from the stand-point qf the comfort of the patient.
– I ask the
Minister for Labour and National Service whether he has been reliably quoted as stating, in connexion with the unemployment figures issued for August, that the number of workers employed in the larger private factories regularly surveyed by the Department of Labour and National Service fell by another 1,614 during that month, If the right honorable gentleman has been faithfully quoted, will he indicate whether he has established, within the department, any machinery to determine the impact of automation on employment in such factories in order that we may have an informed approach to the impact of automation on Australian industry?
– The figure quoted by the honorable gentleman is accurately stated as that which was released by my department. It can be seen that, in proportion to the total of factory employment, it represents a decline of .3 per cent. Some of the decline was of a seasonal character. I myself do not think that it can be said with substantial justification that it is a direct consequence of automation. In odd instances, there may have been some displacement of labour as a result of the introduction of mechanical equipment and so forth, but I think it is a reflection, in what is normally not a very busy time of the year, of the decline in export prices, and other factors which would tend to have some steadying or even depressing effect upon the economy. It is a relatively small movement in terms of the percentage that I have given, and it may well be that as we move on towards the end of the year that position will be reversed.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been directed to a statement on television by the honorable member for East Sydney that it was Labour’s policy to nationalize farms, industry and banks? Did the Australian Labour party make this policy clear on the occasion of the last four elections, or is it a new venture?
– I have heard about this spirited utterance. I did not hear it, but I heard about it. I have also heard about one or two other spirited utterances, one by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and one, I think, by Dr. Burton. It is very hard to reconcile them all, but no doubt they are the birth pangs of a new policy.
– I desire to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I desire to ask you whether this would be an appropriate time for me to make a personal explanation, in view of the fact that there has been a gross distortion of what I actually said.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity to do so at the end of question time.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Has the Government been negotiating to dispose of its interests in the aluminium industry at Bell Bay? Will the right honorable gentleman say how long the negotiations have been proceeding, and will he also inform the House of the name or names of the firm or firms which are interested in acquiring this property? Does the Government regard the Bell Bay industry as being a necessary defence project in this country? If it does, why has it consistently refused to accept the responsibility for doubling the production and expanding the industry generally as a Commonwealth obligation?
– I cannot answer the first part of the honorable member’s question, about people. I shall refer that matter to my colleague, the Minister for National Development. I myself have heard of various vague proposals about bringing in fresh capital in the course of the last eight or nine years, some of them proceeding from the Premier of Tasmania, and some of them from other sources. As to the attitude of the Commonwealth towards Bell Bay, I say two things: First, over the course of the years, I have never heard any discussion about bringing in new capital except for the purpose of extending or improving the operation. Secondly, to represent the
Commonwealth as having adopted a parsimonious attitude on this matter is fantastic. When this enterprise began originally, it began on the footing that Tasmania and the Commonwealth would each find ?1,500,000 for the capital. Since that day, the Tasmanian Government has never found an additional ?1, but the Commonwealth has found the better part of ?9,000,000 in total. If the honorable member is implying that that represents a parsimonious or destructive attitude on our part, and if that is the best propaganda the honorable member can find in his electorate, I wish him joy of it. The fact is that Bell Bay would have disappeared long since but for the attitude of this Government.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Immigration by stating that, during a recent journey through the United States of America, I received on a number of occasions queries from citizens of the United States concerning conditions of immigration from that country to Australia. In view of the suitability of many of those persons as future citizens of Australia, could the Minister inform the House what sources of information are available in the United States of America for wouldbe migrants, particularly in the many provincial cities remote from centres of Australian official representation?
– Australians generally, of course, will welcome any interest by the United States of America in migration to Australia. So far, our information is disseminated through three channels - from our embassy in Washington, from the Consul-General in New York and the Consul-General in San Francisco. I do not know whether my honorable friend is aware that we have in operation - and have had for the past two years or so - a general assisted passage scheme by which the Australian Government provides, in round figures, approximately ?47 towards the cost of passages for citizens of the United States of America desiring to emigrate to Australia. Since World War II., approximately 14,000 immigrants have come to Australia from the United States of America and, again in round figures, about 4,000 have come here under the general assisted passage scheme.
I ask the honorable member to remember, however, that the United States of America, as .with ourselves, is still a country of immigration. The American quota is probably still the largest in the world every year. Therefore, although we are very desirous of attracting highly skilled and suitable types of immigrants from the United States of America to come to these shores, I think we would be fanciful if we imagined that, considering the American scene, the high standard of living there, the high wages and generally prosperous conditions, we could get any considerable number of Americans to come to Australia.
Sir, the honorable member has asked me whether we could extend our sources of recruitment. Bearing in mind what I have said, and also the fact that we have already three offices in the United States of America, I think it would be expensive and, perhaps, not altogether profitable, to establish new missions, even in large American provincial cities. As things are, we are most anxious to encourage American skilled workers and other suitable people to come to Australia, as I have said, but at this stage, it could best be left to employers and employers’ organizations, who can offer them jobs when they get here, and accommodation. None the less, I wish to assure the honorable member that the Government is very well aware of these possibilities, is keeping a close watch not only on the United States, but on the North American situation generally, and will lose no opportunity to get those people to come here once sufficient opportunity demonstrates itself.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Will the right honorable gentleman give consideration to a suggestion that, at the forthcoming federal elections, ballot-papers have printed alongside the name of each candidate the name of the political party to which he or she belongs or, where the candidate belongs to no particular party, the fact that in those instances the candidate is standing as an independent? Will the Prime Minister agree that such a system would be in accordance with democratic principles and, if adopted, would eliminate much confusion and ensure that, as near as possible, every vote was recorded for the party of whose policy the elector approved?
– I agree that the proposal contains a good deal of substance, and it has been considered, together with other matters, by the Government. The Government came to the conclusion, however, that at this stage, with an election imminent, itwouldbe a mistake to endeavour to introduce a change of the type suggested by the honorable member. One very good reason for the Government’s attitude is that precautions would need to be taken to prevent candidates falsely representing themselves to the electors. For example, a man might say that he was supporting Labour; when, in fact, he was not. He might sayhewas a supporter of the Liberal partywhen, in fact,he was not.In order to avoid such fraudulent use of the. names of . political parties it would be necessary toestablish some kind, of register of names, and to providefor examinationby some competent authority of the bona fides or otherwise of candidates claims to represent certain political parties. To carry out such investigations, it wouldbe necessary to evolve a scheme which would be regarded as fair by both sides.Any change in the electoral lawshould befair toboth sides and to all parties. In those circumstances, the Government thought that it was not desirable at this stage to introduce any experimental legislation of the typeref erred to by the honorable member.
-Is that something that has beenrecently considered?
-Yes, in the last two months.
– I ask the Minister for Territories a question. Is it afact that a recent survey was carried out in Papua and New Guinea to obtain information relating to the potential for beef cattle raising? If so, whatwere the results of that work, with particularreference to the areas, types of pastures, and breeds of cattle that were considered?
– Earlier thisyear, I appointed Mr. A. L.Rose, a former Director of Animal Industry in the Northern Territory, to carry out an investigation into the live-stock industriesof Papua and New Guinea. Mr. Rose recently spent about two months in Papua and New Guinea, and he has submitted an interim report, but I think it wouldbe better to awaithis final report before making an announcement.
Mr.J.R.FRASER.-I ask the Minister acting for the Ministerfor External Affairs: DoestheDepartmentofExternalAffairs approvewithoutreservationthedecision that the new head-quarters of the department are to be established in Canberra in the Russell Hill area in juxtaposition to the officesof the Department of Defence and of the otherServices, and remote from other government departments inthis city? Has consideration been given to the possibility that the siting of the department in close proximity to the defence and Services departments could give rise, erroneously perhaps, to the impression that the external policy of thisGovernment was concerned primarily withmatters military and matters of defence?
– I am not quite sure of the attitude of theDepartment of External Affairs, but I assume that it was expressedby the Ministerwhen he was here.He quite categorically said that he was perfectly happy with the proposed site for the offices of the department.
Mr. ANTHONY.I aska question of the Minister for Primary Industry. As a preface to my question I point out that the Tweed-Richmond area, which I represent, is the most intensive dairying area of the Commonwealth. There are exactly 4,851 dairyfarms in that area. Will the Minister request the Division of Agricultural Economies to conduct a survey of gross farm income of dairy-farmers in the TweedRichmond area, similar to the survey carried out recentlyin the Clarence and Macleay districts? Such a survey would give a better definition of the complex problemsfacing the industry, so that some constructive approachmay be taken towards their solution. .
– Some time ago a survey of gross farm incomes ofa sample of dairy-farmers was carried out in the Clarence and Macleay areas of New South Wales. That survey was carried out for the special purpose of providing the New
England University - with? data- to- assist if in, -a-, conference concerned with the problems of the dairying industry on the northcoast of. New South Wales. Survey work will cover the whole of the north coast of New South. Wales and other dairying areas. I .am certain that the Tweed-Richmond area will be included in the survey, but I shall obtain details for the honorable mem?ber and let him know the number of farms to. be surveyed and their, exact location.
– I ask for leave to make a personal explanation concerning, misrepresentation by the daily .press. “Mr. SPEAKER. - Does the honorable1 member claim that he: has been misrepresented?’’ > ‘ “ : ‘- ‘/
– Yes. First “of all’; I thank’ the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) for having afforded- me this’ opportunity to answer, so quickly after the event, this false, anti-Labour propaganda that is being engaged in by the daily press. However, I think that the honorable member’s motives are different from those which move me to make this personal explanation.
I was questioned on’ a television session’ regarding a number of features of Labour’s policy. In my opinion, my answers have been distorted by the press in order to’ create a false impression’ as to what Labour’s policy is. I am sure that those who heard” and saw the television session are under no misapprehension as to where Labour stands, and where I stand; with regard to this important matter of Labour’s rural policy. It is interesting to note that this is, I think, the first occasion on which the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, which controls the station concerned in this matter, channel 7, has devoted so little space to this Sunday afternoon session. What the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ has stated is–
– Order! The honorable member has leave to make a personal explanation; I ask him to confine his remarks to his personal explanation and not to enter into a. debate.
– The misrepresentation of which I- complain is that the statement that has been attributed to me, and published in the daily press, is. opposed to. Labour policy. There is one thing that I am proud of-‘in my association with the Labour-party, and that is that I stick’ strictly to the official view of the Labour party and never depart from it. Naturally, I ‘ have to rely on my, memory for the questions that were asked of me and me .answers that I- gave on this programme. I do -not claim that- L anr able to recall word for word what was said, but I think I can convey to the House” [
– Order! The honorable member is getting wide of the authority given to him by the. House. I must ask him to confine .himself to. a personal explanation in relation to the press. ,’ Matters’ of Labour policy are a little wide of the mark.
– An article- in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 15th September, under, the heading, “ Ward on Labour Policies “, said -
Mr. E. J. Ward, M.P., said yesterday- the Labour Party eventually would nationalize farms “with’ the approval of the people”!
It would also nationalize industry and. banks, but not private possessions, such as ‘cars and homes.
The “article goes on to say where the statemerit was made. If that is the construction that was placed on what I said in the television interview, it is. a- completely false, arid’ erroneous construction. If honorable members ‘will remain patient for a moment I shall indicate exactly, what my views are.
-Order! .The honorable member cannot go that far.
– Not just merely what my personal views are, but the views that I expressed in this interview and which have been distorted by the press. In order to show that there has been distortion and ari attempt to mislead the public, I must give my recollection of what took place at the interview and of the replies that I gave to questions. An interesting point to note, although I do not propose to debate it, is that’ if I had said or attempted to convey to the Australian public the impression which the anti-Labour press now says was the result of this interview, obviously every anti-Labour newspaper in this country would have seized upon it.
-Order! The honorable member is again wide of the mark. I- must ask him to come- back to the personal’ ex-i plana’tion-, or resume his seat-. ….
Df. Evatt;- I rise on a point’ of order.’ The misrepresentation of which the honor-able member complains is that what he said was not correctly reported. Therefore, he must be entitled to say what he said.
-The honorable member must confine himself to what he said.
– I submit he is doing so, but you are not allowing him to support it.
-Order! The right honorable gentleman will withdraw that challenge.
– I said, Mr. Speaker, that you were not allowing him. At any rate, I withdraw that and say that in making such an explanation he must have the right to compare what he said with what was reported, which he says is a misrepresentation.
-I have asked the honorable member to do that, but he has departed from it. If he departs again, I shall have to take action.
– Very well, Mr. Speaker. My recollection of the questions directed to me about the objectives of the Labour party is that I was asked by Mr. Baker, who was the interrogator, what Labour meant by democratic socialism. I replied that, as far as I knew, no definite or decisive declaration had been made by any member of the Labour party in a form that I would regard as satisfactory. I said that, in general terms, what the Labour party meant by democratic socialism was that a Labour government would not introduce any of its great socialist economic reforms in this country unless it had the prior approval of the Australian community. I was then asked by Mr. Baker what particular industries I had in mind that a Labour government might nationalize. I said that I was not prepared to enumerate them but that in general terms I would say that any industry which had fallen under monopolistic control, and the ownership and control of which should be transferred in the interests of the community, was the type of industry to which the Labour party would give some attention.
He then pressed me to say what particular type of property would be excluded. I said, “Well, contrary to what our opponents have frequently said, the Labour party is not opposed to what is known as personal property, so that people in the community who own a home or a car or have other personal belongings will know that they will not be in danger “. He said, “ Would the heavy industries be included in this category? “ I said, “ Well, it could be that the heavy industries would be considered in that category”. Then he said, “ What about land? “ He said it in such a way, grinning all over his face as any one who watched the session would know, that I naturally assumed it was the type of ridiculous question that he was throwing in. My recollection of what I said is that, if a similar condition developed - that is, monopolistic control - then the Labour party eventually, some time in the future, may have to pay some attention to it. However, I said that I could not see any such eventuality arising at least in the time that I would be serving in this Parliament. That is my recollection of it.
In actual fact, although honorable members on the Government side would not admit it, I never intended at any time to convey the idea that people who are now settled on the land would be affected in regard to the possession of their properties by any legislation that a Labour government would introduce. But I do visualize the possibility that some positive action may have to be taken by a future Labour government in respect of large estates and the tying up of land by monopolistic land companies to ensure an equitable distribution of the land among the land-hungry people of this country. However, as far as any interference with the rights of people to occupy and continue to occupy their own properties-
– Order! I think the honorable gentleman must come to an end. I ask him to resume his seat.
- Mr. Speaker-
– The honorable gentleman will resume his seat.
– I move-
That the honorable member for East Sydney be heard.
– Resume your seat first.
– I have done so, Mr. Speaker, and I move -
That the honorable member for East Sydney be heard.
– Order! The honorable member is out of order. Are there any ministerial statements?
– Under what standing order am I out of order?
– The honorable member is out of order. I ask him to resume his seat.
– Will you quote the standing order?
-The honorable member will resume his seat.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That Standing Order 104-11 o’clock rule- be suspended for the remainder of the session.
– I moye -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to extend the period within which residents of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands may exercise their option of acquiring Australian citizenship.
The Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act 1955 contains a provision that the islands’ inhabitants who were British subjects and normally resident in the islands on the date of hand-over, which was 23rd November, 1955, could “ in the prescribed manner and within the prescribed time “ make a declaration that they wished to become Australian citizens. Upon registration of such a declaration the declarant was deemed to have become an Australian citizen upon the date of transfer of the Territory to Australian control, namely, 23rd November, 1955.
For reasons arising from the peculiar domestic situation in the islands, certain Cocos Malay residents, who later expressed a wish to do so, did not avail themselves, within the time limit originally provided under the principal act, of the opportunity to become Australian citizens. Some of these have actually submitted declarations since the original date, 22nd November. 1957, expired, and it is known that some more wish to do so. In order to allow those declarations already submitted and likely to be submitted, to be processed, it is necessary to extend the initial period by amendment of the 1955 act. lt is proposed in this bill that the extended date should be three and a half years from the date of transfer, instead of two years. This means that Cocos Malays resident in the islands at 23rd November, 1955, will have until March, 1959, in which to exercise the option to become Australian citizens. That is the main provision of the bill.
As it was necessary to introduce the bill for this purpose, opportunity has been taken also to include in the bill three amendments of a machinery nature. Clause 4 amends section 11 of the principal act by omitting reference to the Post and Telegraph Rates (Defence Forces) Act which is repealed by the Post and Telegraph Act 1958. The same clause brings up to date the citations of the references to the Post and Telegraph Act and the Post and Telegraph Rates Act. In other words, this Parliament, having amended certain Commonwealth legislation relating to posts and telegraphs, is now asked to amend the references in the Cocos Islands legislation so that the citations in that legislation will be correct.
Similarly, clause 6 has been found necessary because the extension of the Public Service Act by its 1957 amendment to the external territories of the Commonwealth makes it doubtful whether persons can be employed for the purposes of the government of the Territory except under the Public Service Act. Honorable members will realize that, particularly in some of the more remote Territories, it may be necessary, on occasions, to employ persons otherwise than under the terms of the Public Service Act. Clause 6 removes this doubt and, at the same time, provides for the preservation of rights enjoyed as a member of the Commonwealth Public Service by any member of that Service appointed to employment in the territory.
Finally, clause 7 brings the legislation in relation to Cocos Islands into line with other Territories in respect of the GovernorGeneral’s powers to pardon an accomplice who gives evidence that leads to the conviction of the principal offender. It also brings it into line affecting other purposes regarding the Governor-General’s power to act on the advice of the Minister in remitting penalties and granting pardons
As I have .pointed out, there is one principal clause .extending -.the time in which applications for citizenship can be .processed, and there are three clauses of a purely machinery nature. I commend the bill.
Debate (on motion -by Mr. Ward) adjourned. . ,
.- 1 move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The .purpose of this bill is .to give effect to the proposal announced by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) in his Budget Speech .to provide Commonwealth assistance to enable medical and hospital benefits to be paid to persons who cannot be insured .at normal rates because of age, pre-existing illness or .chronic illness. I am sure that it will assist honorable members to appreciate the value and importance of this measure if I spend some little -time in the first instance in explaining the problem which -‘this :>bill is intended 6 meet.
The development of scientific medicine, which has taken -place within -recent ‘years, has made ‘the provision of medical Services not only a very complex, :but also anextremely ‘expensive process. It demands long raining -of’ practitioners, great’ hospital construction and maintenance, an extensive system of -‘laboratories “and of X-ray facilities ‘for-diagnosis-and treatment, and a great apparatus of research, -not only ‘for the use of clinical medicine, tut also for the production o’f the costly drugs ‘‘which’ ‘it uses, and the investigation of the sciences on which ‘it is based. The result has been, riot only a ‘great ‘improvement in medical efficiency, “but also “a great and inevitable rise in cost. In consequence, no modern state is without some type of national health service designed to ensure the availability of modern medical resources and benefits to its -citizens.
It is important .to realize, iri this connexion, .that there is .no. “ best “ national health scheme which can be applied universally, but that what each country requires is one. suited to its own particular circumstances :and its own national character.. It, is, of .course, possible to learn. from the experiences of others, but .an attempt to transpose the national health scheme of one country ‘to another will -be just as fruitless as an attempt to transpose, without change, the system pf government, from one country to another^ ignoring the ..differences of character and circumstances which exist.
In (Australia. , we,nav.e adopted a system of government-assisted voluntary health insurance, which, .1 believe, -is particularly suited to our conditions, which are those of a growing and expanding nation making immense .demands .on its resources, both financial and .physical, .as it does so - a system, moreover, which is suited to the enterprising individuality of our national character. . » ..
Medical and” hospital insurance is necessarily -conducted, not only in Australia, but also “in other parts of the world, on an actuarial basis. This means that insurance funds insure their members only against what may be termed normal risks. No medical or insurance fund could survive for long if its business was conducted on any other footing. The premium for the .normal risk df hospital or medical attention can be determined with reasonable accuracy and is “ Within the means of most people in the community. There are, “however, a number of risks -associated with health ‘for which’ a normal weekly payment cannot provide. The older -members of -the - community are specially subject to ‘ these .extra risks, -which take the .form of -chronic ‘ ‘and -long-term illnesses and ailments in existence prior to the -date, of joining -an insurance fund.
For the individual, these .risks are extremely serious, an’d ‘h is. generally agreed that a fully-developed national scheme ought to provide adequately for them. The special problem that exists is that health insurance organizations cannot give ,an insurance cover for abnormally long “illnesses, or for ailments which a member contracted before he joined the fund. If they were to attempt to do so, the premiums they charge to their normal risk contributors would -have to be increased to an unreasonably high level. However, it is recognized by the insurance’ organizations,’ by the Government and, I ‘believe, by all responsible ^people, that benefits ought ‘to -be paid in these cases. The Government’s task has been to find a mechanism which would enable benefits to be paid .whilst at the same time preserving the principles of the voluntary scheme, which has been such an outstanding success.
The solution which the Government proposes for this problem is contained in this bill. Briefly, the bill provides that medical and hospital insurance organizations will be invited to establish special accounts for the payment of benefits to the aged, to persons with pre-existing ailments and to the chronically ill. These accounts will .be operated and maintained by the organizations themselves, but they will be guaranteed by the Commonwealth. Upon establishment of a special account an organization will credit to the special account the contributions of all members who attain the age of 65 years. These members will become entitled to benefits ‘from the special account, regardless of the nature of the illness, the length of the illness or whether it was a condition from which they were suffering at the time they joined the fund. I need hardly emphasize what a tremendous boon this will be to members.
As a general rule, the .organizations will retain, in -their ordinary accounts, the contributions of .persons who are under the age of 65 years, and these persons will continue to receive benefits from -the organizations’ ordinary account as they have always done. However, when a claim is made on a .hospital or medical fund, .and the claim is disallowed ,under the .ordinary rules of the fund relating to pre-existing .ailments, chronic .illness or maximum benefits payable within a year, the organization will then transfer the contributor to the special Commonwealth-guaranteed account.
– Irrespective of age?
– This refers to persons transferred from the ordinary account, but those of 65 years and over will be transferred in any case to the special account. I am now dealing with persons .under .65 -who would normally be debarred by the rules of the particular organization. The organization will transfer such a contributor to the special Commonwealthguaranteed account. When this transfer has been made the claim in question, and future claims from that contributor, will be paid from the special account. Thus, contributors to medical and hospital insurance organizations will become -entitled to payment of ‘benefits, regardless of the nature of the illness, the length of the illness, or whether the medical condition was one which the contributor had at -the time of joining the fund.
That, in broad terms, is the solution to this long-standing and difficult problem which the Government proposes in this bill. Its implementation will be in the hands of the medical and hospital insurance funds who are already providing a first-class health service to more than 6,000,000 insured persons and -their dependants throughout Australia. For some time I, and a number of my .-senior officers, have been engaged in conducting detailed negotiations with -the hospital and medical insurance funds about the implementation of this plan. The ‘funds are in complete agreement with the principles of our proposals. The funds are no less anxious than the Government to arrange for the aged arid chronically ill people in the community to be paid adequate benefits, and they may be relied on to co-operate with my department in the work , of introducing this plan so that it operates smoothly, economically and in a manner that will give no cause for complaints from contributors.
As to the details of this bill, I think it will suffice here if I explain in general terms what the detailed provisions are, and later, in the committee stage, I will provide any further information that honorable members may desire.
Clause 15 of the bill provides that a registered organization .may establish a special account. The organization will be required to .pay into that account the contributions .of all contributors who are <65 years of agenor over. Thereafter these contributors will receive their benefits from the special .account. .As .regards contributors under .65 years .of age, the organization will continue to .follow its present practice until it receives a claim which could be. excluded from .benefit .by its rules relating to chronic illness, pre-existing ailments or .maximum benefits. ‘Upon .receipt of such a claim . the organization will have an option. It may forgo .its right to disallow the claim, -and pay the contributor his benefit. On the other hand, it may elect to transfer the contributor to the special account, in which case the claim will be paid from that account.
This means that whichever course the organization takes, the benefit will be paid to the contributor.
The contributor himself will not have to do anything different from what he already does now. He will not have to apply for transfer to the special account, nor will he have to take any action to secure entitlement to the new benefits provided for by this bill. All his new entitlements will be provided for him by his organization under the arrangement made with the Government.
The rate of contributions payable to an organization will not be changed by the operation of this bill. A contributor who is put into the special account will continue to pay the same rate of contribution that is payable by an ordinary contributor. In short, his entitlement to benefits will be substantially increased, but his rate of contribution will not be changed.
The benefits to be paid to persons whose claims are within the scope of pre-existing ailment, chronic illness or maximum benefit rules will be standard rate benefits. In the case of hospital- fund benefit, standard rate benefit is defined in this bill to be the rate of 16s. a day. In view of the fact that Commonwealth benefits of 20s. a day are payable under existing legislation, payment of the new standard rate benefit will result in the payment by the organization to the contributor of total benefits equal to the normal public ward charge of 36s. a day. In the case of medical fund benefit, the standard rate will be equal to the amount specified in the schedules to the National Health Act. Under existing legislation, contributors receive Commonwealth benefits of amounts specified in the schedules, and the new proposals will thus result in payment of double the amounts in the schedules in all cases.
The other provisions in the bill may be described as machinery provisions, which are substantially in line with existing medical and hospital insurance fund practice. The objective of these provisions is to provide that, so far as practicable, a special account contributor will be on exactly the same footing in his organization as if he were an ordinary contributor.
It will be necessary to require some measure of uniformity as between special accounts regarding certain minor matters where the organizations themselves have not a uniform practice. For example, special account contributors will not be permitted to show a “ profit “ on their claims over and above the amount of the hospital charge. I think all will agree that this is reasonable, remembering that deficits on the special accounts will be met by the Commonwealth. In other words, the contributor cannot show a profit at the expense of his fellow taxpayers.
The new benefits provided for by this bill will not be payable for accommodation provided at a benevolent home, convalescent home, home for aged persons, rest home or similar institution. The benefits provided under existing legislation are in most cases adequate to meet the cost of treatment provided at these homes. Existing benefits will, of course, be continued. That is to say, these benefits are not to be regarded as fees for board and lodging in special institutions. They are hospital benefits.
There will be a minimum waiting period of eight weeks from the time a new contributor joins an organization during which benefits will not be payable for hospital treatment or medical services, except in exceptional cases such as injuries resulting from accidents. This is a new condition in relation to Commonwealth medical benefits, but it is in line with the existing legislation in regard to Commonwealth additional hospital benefits, and it also conforms with the practice of insurance organizations in regard to payment of fund benefits. It would obviously be quite out of keeping with the insurance principle if people were permitted to collect benefits immediately, if they had neglected to insure until the actual onset of an illness. Along with the other provisions of the special account plan, this condition will come into effect on 1st January next. It will not affect any contributor who insures before that date.
The benefits payable under the insurance plan provided for in the act are intended to assist individual persons to pay their hospital and medical accounts if they themselves have paid contributions to an insurance fund or if contributions have been paid on their behalf to an insurance fund by their employers. The benefits are not intended to be available to State government institutions, except insofar as bona fide charges made by the institution to its patients are wholly or partly met from benefits payable as a result of bona fide insurance membership undertaken by the individual patients of the institution. Clause 6 of the bill is designed to put this intention into effect. Any person already insured will continue to be regarded as a contributor.
The plan generally will apply to hospital treatment or medical services rendered after 1st January next. The plan has been arrived at after a most intensive study of all aspects of the problem. It is a good plan, and it provides generous new benefits to a large number of people who need them.
The Australian National Health Service, Mr. Speaker, is a fine example of cooperation between different elements of the community; between the Government, benefit organizations which operate on a voluntary basis, and include the great friendly societies, which have played such a prominent part in our national life for so many years, the pharmaceutical profession, the medical profession and individual members of the community. It is a social service of the best type in that, by this partnership, it assists individuals to help themselves. It recognizes that all have a responsibility in the State, individuals as well as Government, and affords them opportunities to discharge this responsibility. Moreover, it preserves, better than any other system, the independence of the individual requiring medical attention and of the profession which provides it, both priceless national assets.
These amendments will provide a great advance in social service legislation by assisting those who, by reason of certain disabilities, are at a disadvantage in securing the full benefits of the scheme and they are, I believe, a very notable addition to the extremely fine record of this Government in the provision of social services in our country.
– What is the estimated total cost to the Commonwealth per year?
– The estimated total cost is not an exact figure. It will depend largely on the numbers.
– Will the contribution of the special fund contributors be paid into the special fund?
Debate (on motion by Mr. Allan Fraser) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
During the last nine years the MenziesFadden Administration has demonstrated a legislative determination to reveal that the four fundamental freedoms, which arose from the great Atlantic Charter and serve to distinguish the free world from the enslaved world, are not to be accepted as faint expressions of hope, but as vital and practical realities in this most blessed country where we all are privileged to live and work, and which we all are privileged to serve. All the legislation of the present Government, which now must be described as the Menzies-McEwen Administration, is designed to that end, and this bill is no exception.
The third of the four fundamental freedoms is the freedom from want and, year by year and Budget by Budget, this Government has brought down legislation to improve the circumstances of those who, for any reason, have been unable to make adequate provision for old age, invalidity, bereavement, unemployment, sickness or any of the hazards that are inseparable from life and living.
Rates of pensions, benefits, and allowances have been increased consistent with the increasing capacity of the community to pay for them. The means tests, both with respect to income and property, have been liberalized to include an increasing number of people. Existing social services have been extended and expanded, and new social services have been introduced to meet the needs of our people. The total cost of providing social services has mounted progressively from £81,000,000 in 1949, the last and - I speak prophetically - the most generous full year of the previous socialist government, to a sum that will exceed £27.3,000,000. in 1959; op more than onefifth of the national Budget. If social service progress can be measured in- terms of pounds, shillings and pence- and I do not believe for a moment that it can - that is the measure of our progress during the last ten years. But time and experience have revealed that there are both people and families entirely dependent on a single pension and, when they are required to pay rent, their circumstances are. not comparable with those, of people and families not entirely dependent on a single pension and who. are not required, to pay rent. Up to this point in our social service history, aucce.ss.ive. governments have given serious consideration to this, particular problem, hut no practical solution could be found, inside, the. provisions of the Social Services Act…
This; Government- has decided to amend the act by introducing another new feature to. the spectacular programme of social services, most of which has been written up in. the last few years. This bill gives effect to that decision, and widens the scope of’ the act. Supplementary assistance, at the rate of 10s. a week, will be paid to single age and. invalid pensioners, to widows, and to married age and invalid pensioners when one only is in receipt of a pension or (allowance, who pay rent for their accommodation, and who are deemed to be entirely, dependent on their pensions.
The importance of the bill lies chiefly in that fact that, for. the first time in our history,, a Government recognizes that, even within the general scheme of social services, there are groups of pensioners with special needs. In this connexion, the Government acknowledges the representations which have been made by the Government members’ social services committee, by churches of all denominations, by charitable organizations qf every kind, and by the social workers who carry out investigations of great value to the- community. I shall, return to the question of supplementary assistance and its vast implications in the- field of social welfare after I have outlined to honorable members the other important provisions of the bill.
The property limit - that is, the value of property a person may own and still be eligible^ for a proportion -of- the full pension* will” be raised by- £500. This is the second increase of £500 to be made by the present Government, and- the fourth substantial! increase- since it was elected to office in 1949i The new property limit will lift the value of property- beyond which no pension is payable from- £1,750 to £2;25.0 for et single person, or £4,500 for a married’ couple; This new limit is three times more liberal, appropriately enough, than the- limit of £7-50 imposed’ by- the socialist, party, during that unhappy period prior to 1949-. The effect, of this fourth increase, is that persons with property valued in excess of £1,750, who have previously been excluded,, will- now become eligible to. receive/ age or invalid pensions ranging, from £72. los. to £22. 10s: a year until the value, of their- property exceeds £2,250. The, valuer of the home, together with furniture and personal effects, is disregarded for pension, purposes.
A wi’dow in Class A - that is, a widow with one or more dependent children - win continue to receive the full rate of pension until the value of her property reaches the new upper- limit of- £2,250. Widows in other classes who become eligible as a result of this increase will receive pensions ranging from £66 to £16 a year.
I remind the. House that,, in 19.54, this Government exempted, from the. means test income derived front property and, as a consequence, thereby increased the permissible income, by the amount- of any income received from property. The raising of the property limit in the same bill that introduces supplementary assistance illustrates once again the Government’s, two-fold, approach to social services at all times. The supplementary assistance is designed to relieve hardship and improve the circumstances of those who are entirely dependent on their pensions, and the lifting of the property limit is designed to assist those who, by their industry, thrift, good health, or good fortune, have been able to make some provision to meet the contingencies of life and living.
A further important amendment that applies to. both pensioners and those who receive unemployment and sickness benefits, Mr. Speaker, is in keeping with the policy - of the Government to assist and encourage people to promote and- protect thenown economic security. Up to the- time of the introduction of this bill, amounts received from organizations registered- under the National Health Acts have been exempt as income only to the extent that, they are required to meet the cost of hospital, medical or dental treatment actually incurred. Under- this bill they will, in- future, be wholly exempt and, as a- consequence, amounts received from such organizations will, not affect the rate of pension or benefit in any way.
Just- as we believe that personal thrift and providence should be encouraged at all times, Mr. Speaker, so do we believe that members of a family - the basic unit in any free and democratic society - should be encouraged- to do whatever lies within their power to assist one another. We believe that- the obligation to give assistance of this kind’ is innate, and that- it exists irrespective of any statutory assistance that may be available to the less fortunate members of the family; Periodical payments or- benefits by way of gifts or allowances from a father, mother, son or daughter are already exempt for pension purposes. This bil! proposes to exempt gifts or allowances to pensioners from brothers and sisters who will thus be able to fulfil’ their family obligations in the knowledge that it will not affect the statutory entitlement of their own kith and kin.
When there were no social services or statutory entitlements anywhere> we inherited’ -the friendly* society movement from the Mother Country and from the older parts of- the world. Through this great movement-, and by small contributions made during- periods of employment, people have been able to make some provision to meet sickness, infirmity and; incapacity. The meritorious services of friendly societies have been recognized in part by the fact that, for a sickness benefit under the Social Services Act, £2 a week sick pay received from these organizations is disregarded in the application, of the means test. The amount of income ordinarily exempt under the act also is £2 a week; so that where, a sick pay benefit from a friendly society exceeded £4 a. week the social service or statutory sickness benefit was reduced by the amount of excess in the normal way. I’ am happy to say that these restrictions will be- swept away by this bill, and all sick pay received from- friendly societies will be excluded from.i the means test applied to sickness benefits under the act. The purpose is not only to remove a palpable injustice but also- to encourage friendly societies to increase the protection they give to their members, and to’ strengthen the co-operation, that ought to exist between the Government and. the great friendly society movement and other voluntary agencies.
I turn now, Mr. Speaker, to the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service- - perhaps the least known, but unquestionably the most humane of all our activities in the field of social services. Through the efforts of this particularly fine branch of the Department of Social Services, more than 11,000 men and women have been restored to a useful and productive life. There was a time when those who were born with serious physical imperfections, and those who were injured or afflicted in a way that reduced their faculties, to a degree that, denied them the opportunity for economic independence, were deprived of hope and condemned to comparative idleness. All that has been changed for a great many physically handicapped, people by the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service. To-day, an increasing number of disabled, injured and limbless people can be taught to conquer their disabilities, and can be trained for suitable occupations and restored to gainful employment. This, if I may say so, Sir, is a. very great achievement-.
The work of the Rehabilitation Service has been hampered by the fact that persons could not be accepted for treatment and training until the disability from which they were suffering had existed for thirteen weeks prior to acceptance. It is now apparent that, to be most effective, rehabilitation should begin as soon as the treatment of the acute phase is over. This bill abolishes the thirteen weeks waiting period and enables the medical staff, the physiotherapists, and the training and education officers to admit patients and commence treatment as soon as practicable- within the limits of the accommodation that is available. It is not- intended to accept short-term cases in which the disability is expected to continue for less than 26 weeks, but’ the new procedure: will’ enable the service to get off the mark more quickly where earlier treatment is likely to have beneficial results.
Furthermore, Sir, the bill provides for the scope of the service to be extended and expanded to include widow pensioners, special beneficiaries, or claimants for special benefits, including migrants awaiting naturalization, who are ineligible for invalid pensions. In future, subject only to suitability for treatment and training, rehabilitation may be provided by the Commonwealth Government without charge to the following classes of people: -
The world is moving forward, Mr. Speaker, to a fuller appreciation of the value and, indeed, of the profit of adequate rehabilitation services, and I am proud to say that Australia is keeping pace with the more advanced countries in the world.
Now let me return to the main purpose of this bill. Supplementary assistance is designed, as I have said, to relieve hardship and improve the circumstances of the most needy section of the community - people who receive a single pension, meaning one pension only, who pay rent, and who are deemed to be entirely dependent on their pensions. This is a departure from the traditional pattern of social services in our country, Mr. Speaker, but it is consistent with the experience of every country where attempts have been made to provide statutory benefits without prejudice to any section of the community.
Our Commonwealth social service history began in the traditional way - by providing exclusive benefits for the old who were deemed to be in indigent circumstances. That was 50 years ago. Sir. Then came invalid pensions exclusive to those who were totally and- permanently incapacitated and who were without means. That was the original pattern - a concentration of available resources to provide relief from acute distress.
In 1912, maternity allowances were introduced free of any means test. That was our first attempt to pay a social service benefit without restriction, and the maternity allowance survived, proudly enough, for nearly twenty years, but the financial emergency of 1931 compelled the Scullin Government to reduce the allowance - together with a reduction in the age and invalid pensions - and impose a means test for the first time. That means tests remained for twelve years, and was abolished by the Curtin Government as recently as 1943.
When the constitutional competence of the Commonwealth Government to deal with social service questions was finally resolved by referendum, benefits were extended, but the means tests, both with respect to income and property, were generally retained, except in the case of maternity allowances, child endowment, and pensions for the blind. In the meantime, rates of payments had been increased to, and beyond the point where exclusion became a penalty on thrift. The situation - and the injustice - was met by progressive easements of the means test to include an increasing number of people who had been previously excluded by the application of these tests. It always has to be remembered that, in addition to an income of £3 10s. a week and property up to £200 - these amounts are doubled in the case of a married couple - a pensioner can own a home, furniture, personal effects and a car, whatever their value, without affecting his eligibility for a full rate pension, and there are other types of property also disregarded for pension purposes.
It was inevitable that the increasing number of people qualified to receive a pension would reach the point where every ls. increase in the weekly rate - although I emphasize that no ls. rises have ever been contemplated by this Government - involved the people of our country in additional expenditure exceeding £1,600,000 a year, and it was inevitable, too, that the increasing rates of pensions would reach the point where a married couple, both in receipt of the pension, could, with permissible income, exceed the basic wage and, with exempted property, far exceed the circumstances of the great majority of the working people of our country. That was the position when it became obvious to the Government that there were married, unmarried, and widowed people alike with domestic and family responsibilities who were entirely dependent on a single pension. To attempt to improve their circumstances through a general and an appreciable increase in the pension rate this year would have aggravated a set of circumstances that would have compelled every wage and salary earner to pay taxes to provide dual pensions which, when added to permissible income, would far exceed the basic wage.
The need for special assistance has been acknowledged by honorable members on both sides of the House, and I am grateful to those who have made generous references to the proposal. The suggestion was made - and it has been carefully examined - that committees should be set up to examine claims for special assistance, approve of them or reject them, and make payments according to need and within the limits of the funds likely to be available. The Government is aWare of voluntary agencies functioning in all States of the Commonwealth along these very lines and doing exceptionally fine work, but it would be a serious departure from precedent for the Commonwealth Government to enter this particular field.
I remind honorable members that the Commonwealth has no “ poor law “ tradition in the administration of social services, and this Government does not propose to introduce one. We have established the principle, that subject to the appropriate qualifications, our people are entitled to social service benefits as a right, and that it is competent for any person at any time to test eligibility for any social service payment. This Government does not propose to depart from these fundamental principles.
Supplementary assistance will be paid at the rate of 10s. a week to single age and invalid pensioners who pay rent and who are deemed to be entirely dependent on their pensions. Similarly, supplementary assistance will be granted at the same rate to widow pensioners under the same conditions. Supplementary assistance at the same rate will be paid to married pensioners where the wife only, or the husband only, as the case may be, is in receipt of a social service payment. The discretionary powers are vested in the Director-General of Social Services, and I have no doubt that he will exercise them consistent with the spirit that pervades all our social service legislation.
Honorable members have inquired about the rent qualification, and I can only repeat what I said in the House a fortnight ago. The payment of rent is a primary qualification and, where rent is paid, it must be an actual and real rent, otherwise the need of supplementary assistance does not arise. Where payment is made for board and lodging, the same principle will apply, and the payment will be accepted as having a rent component. If honorable members and the general public will be good enough to remember that this commendable innovation is introduced to relieve hardship and to improve the circumstances of the lowly who are required to live on a single pension and pay rent, no difficulties should arise that will impede the passage of this most humane piece of legislation. It would be most unfortunate and most regrettable if political advantage were taken of the opportunity to draw odious comparisons between the people who, by their grievous circumstances, qualify to receive this supplementary assistance and those who, by their more favorable circumstances, are excluded from it. It is possible, I regret to say, that the temptation to draw comparisons of the kind will be too great for some honorable members to resist, but I would be failing in my duty if I did not emphasize that the sole test for this particular social service benefit is a degree of hardship that the entire community would like to see eased from those who are called upon by grim misfortune to bear it, and this supplementary assistance has no other purpose.
I have outlined the measures before the House. They are milestones along the road of social progress - a road that can only be travelled by a free and resolute people fully aware of the -social responsibilities inseparable from democratic society and anxious to discharge them.
In spite of the interjections from honorable members opposite, .particularly from the .honorable member who is allegedly leading for the Opposition on this .occasion, which I have ignored, : it is my proud pleasure to commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion : by Mr. Allan Fraser) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 27th August (vide page 781), on motion ‘by Mr. Osborne -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose the. bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. -‘Osborne) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
,- I take the unusual -course of speaking. on the third .reading of -the bill to point out .the extraordinary delay .there .has been in implementing a reform of this .act .and .of .the Commonwealth’s other Jaws concerning industrial property. A reform of the law was promised in the Governor-General’s Speech at the opening of the Parliament on 4th August, 1954. On that occasion the Governor-General said that the .Government proposed to review the law concerning trade marks, designs, copyright and bankruptcy. The first fruits of that review is in the Trade Marks Act ;1955 which was gazetted to come into operation only on the 1st August, i 958. Already, * it is being amended. In !80 answer which :I received from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), representing the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan), on 12th August, 1-958, it appeared that no step’s had yet been ‘finalized and few had yet been -taken to carry out the review of the ‘other three branches of’the laws relating to industrial property. The committee reviewing bankruptcy law has been sitting under the -chairmanship of the federal judge in : bankruptcy, but the committee has not yet reached a stage when it can ‘say when its. report will be presented to the AttorneyGeneral. A committee is only now about to,be appointed, I was told by the AttorneyGeneral, to review copyright law and; advise the Government on what amendment should be :made. I was .told that the law relating to. designs would be reviewed -after :the.copyright law has been reviewed.
In the four years which “have elapsed, only one review has ‘ been completed. I would appreciate information as to why it took so long for the 1955 Trade Marks Act to be gazetted, why it came into operation only last month and why it has taken and is taking so long to have the cognate acts reviewed. If we are ever to become an important industrial country, we must encourage the inventiveness of our citizens and safeguard the rights of those -who have devoted time and resources .to the development of new ideas. -I would think it is a serious reflection on this Government that it -has taken so long to bring Australian laws relating to industrial property up -to world standard even in such small matters as that with which this bill is concerned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Billhead a third time.
Debate resumed from 21st August (vide page 617), on motion “by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This is a short bill to amend the Commonwealth Superannuation Act 1922-1957. ,It extends benefits to children of deceased .contributors to the Superannuation Fund. It increases the allowance for those children under sixteen years from £1 10s. a week to £3. This provision will not cost the Government much money, because only 28 children are affected. Over a full year, it will cost £1,344. The Australian Labour party does not oppose this improvement of the benefits provided for children of deceased officers, but I would make this comment
While the measure is before us: There seems to be a great ‘delay in the presentation -of ‘the annual report of the Superannuation1 Board. ‘ The last’ report we had from the board was dated June, ‘1956. There may be some -physical - difficulties -in relation to ‘furnishing this information. Nevertheless, I believe we should have more recent information than -that when we are debating -proposals arising from the Budget.
During such a stocktaking, all the relevant papers .should he before honorable members, but this one is -long in arrears. If possible, the .information .should .be brought up to date. I have before me the report of the Auditor-General on the Superannuation .Fund, and I would comment that the .fund ..is .in .a ,very healthy condition . At the.,end ..of . June, .1957, .accumulated ,funds had reached £50,000,000. Of that sum, £49,000,000 is invested and has an earning capacity. But I notice that the interest that accrued from investments in that particular year was a’little more than £556,000. That is a return of less than 2 per cent, and I think that the money could be better invested. “The -latest report of the AuditorGeneral -shows that the balance carried over from the financial year ended 30th June, 1957, was £49;901,174. The -receipts for the financial year ended 30th June, 1958, were more than £12,500,000, made up of officers’ contributions, £6,061,364; payments from .Consolidated Revenue, £4,276,079,; and interest, .£2,240,000. The last item conflicts with the statement relating to .interest in the balance-sheet, as ,at 30th June, 1957, and that is why I .should like to -see. a more up-to-date -report.
The fund paid out i£4#68;827 in pensions, -£743;382 in ‘lump - sum .payments -to retiring -officers, and l£652-,422 as refunds, the total payments -for the -year .being £6;”3”64;631. .This ‘indicates -that the fund is in a -very -sound position. Of ‘has an income of more than £12,000,000 and:itS payments amount, to about £6., 000,000; .It ,is .good ito see the, fund in such a. .healthy state.
I-do n’ot ‘wish to discuss the fund generally, but ‘because it “is in .such’ a “healthy state ‘I think that the (“Government should hive ‘been -aisle to do ‘more ‘for those who contribute” to the “fund, “fissure the House that when the Labour party becomes the government’ after the next elections, it will review this splendid’ ‘fund to ; see’ ‘Whether it can in any way increase and improve the benefits to contributors. The bill is a short one, arid does give benefits to the orphan children. ‘It is not likely that there will ever be many orphans who will depend on this ‘fund, because’ the fund applies only to children under the age of sixteen. Payments in- respect of orphan children are never likely to be a big draw on the fund, but because the bill does give these benefits to the orphan children of superannuated contributors, the Opposition .fully supports it.
.- In presenting this bill the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) said that inquiries into the circumstances of the orphan children of superannuated officers ..showed that a pension of 30s. a week was not .adequate. He also pointed out that fewer than 40 children were involved. This raises in my mind the query: Is this a death-bed repentance on the part of the Government in an effort .to do (something realistic for these children? The honorable -member for Banks .(Mr. Costa) has pointed out .that only 28 children are, involved.
Sections’ 31, 32 and 33 .of the Superannuation Act were amended only last year. If a’ section of the community is suffering hardship it should npt be necessary to bring down :two separate measures within twelve months in order to give them justice. Whatever -the position -is at this stage, it must have applied with equal force in December last when consideration was being given by the -Government to this section of -the community. The Government’s action highlights its-failure during its term of -office to -consider ‘those ‘things mentioned by ‘the Treasurer, .namely, the Inadequacy of the amounts paid to certain sections of the community. When one finds the :Govern.ment ‘considering a particular section of the community twice -within twelve -months, it makes one wonder just what -has -to be done before .-the Government ‘realizes -its obligations and gives effect to the representations “that are ‘made. The 1957 legislation increased the benefits ‘paid to these orphans, who are undoubtedly a -.very ‘deservingsection of the community, from £13 to ‘£26 in the »case of those covered by sections 31 and 32. That was in December “last, and at ‘that time the Government thought .:i–I £26 ;per annum was sufficient for an orphan child. One might be excused for thinking that this sort of legislation brought in at the close of a parliament indicates one of two things. It either indicates the failure of the Government during its past three years of office to recognize the seriousness of the position that was underlined by the Treasurer and the inadequacy of the amount that was legislated for by this Parliament, or else - I hate to think this is the position - the Government is so miserly in its approach that it is only increasing the benefit because fewer than 40 children are involved. I am forced to the conclusion that the Government has introduced this legislation to correct an anomaly because of the small number involved rather than because of the hardships involved. It is a fact that in round figures the increase is 400 per cent.
When the Government was considering the Superannuation Act it should have given attention to some of the other anomalies contained in the act. Many contributors who retired a decade or so ago, and who are now in the evening of their lives, are suffering great hardships. I think the Government, by not providing for the relief of other sections of superannuated pensioners, has laid itself open to the criticism that it is only prepared to give relief on this occasion because of the small number of children involved. Those who have been retired for many years are suffering hardships because their- superannuation payments have not been increased. During the time that this Government has been in office, living standards have improved and the basic wage has been increased by more than 100 per cent. Yet those who retired before this Government came into office have received only a 20 per cent, increase in 1951 and a 16* per cent, increase in 1954, and nothing since. Employees who retired in the year that this Government came into office and who are paid under this Government’s legislation do not receive an adequate amount to meet their requirements. Although, as the honorable member for Banks said, we do not oppose this legislation because it removes an inadequacy that existed under previous legislation, we say that superannuated employees who are suffering great hardship to-day should have received similar consideration; they should have been granted increases since 1954.
The Treasurer, when introducing this bill, delivered a short speech in which he mentioned the inadequacies in the standards of one section of the community. We should not feel happy about the legislative programme of the Government, because it ignores the needs of those who have suffered hardship since it came into office in 1949. Hundreds of thousands of children, other than those affected by this bill, would have received some benefit if the Government had been sincere in its consideration of representations that have been made and of petitions that have been presented to the Parliament. Other legislation of considerable benefit to the people could have been introduced, either now or at an earlier stage, if the humane approach that is made in this bill to one section of the community had been adopted in relation to other sections.
– in reply - I am glad that the Opposition supports this bill, the purpose of which is to increase the pension payable to orphan children. I have noted the complaint of the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) that the report of the Superannuation Board is not available at this time when legislation arising from the Budget is being debated. I will see that his remarkes are passed to the appropriate quarter.
I found the complaints of the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) somewhat difficult to follow. I do not suppose that there is any reform in any sphere of legislation about which one cannot say that, if it is needed now, it should have been introduced earlier. The important thing is that an increase is being granted now. The charge that an attempt has been made to obtain some political capital from this legislation is hardly sustainable in view of the information furnished by the honorable member for Banks that only 28 people are affected by it.
The honorable member for Blaxland complained also that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) made a very short speech when introducing the bill. If I understood the burden of his complaint, it is that no social reform should be introduced without a long and careful explanation. I remind the honorable member that this is part of the whole Budget arrangements and if, for every single piece of legislation required by the Budget, there has to be a long explanation, the House would be here very much longer than it need be.
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 21st August (vide page 617), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That the bil] be now read a second time.
.- This bill amends the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. It is similar to the Superannuation Bill that has just been passed and extends the same benefits to orphans of former members of the defence forces. Twelve orphans are concerned, and the increases will cost less than £1,000. Naturally, we support the bill as we supported the amendment to the Superannuation Act. I should say that the criticism offered by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) in respect of the Superannuation Bill could well apply to this bill. However, as the bill extends benefits to these orphan children, the Opposition wholeheartedly supports it.
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 5th August (vide page 66), on motion by Mr. Downer -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker!
– We have the call. Did not the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) obtain the adjournment of the debate?
– Order! The practice of this House is that an honorable member who moves the adjournment of a debate has the the right to speak when the debate is resumed. As the honorable member for Hume moved the adjournment of the debate, I have given him the call.
– I was about to say that this bill relates to immigration, deportation and emigration. It was introduced by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) during the last sessional period. I was quite impressed by the speech of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who dealt with the history of migration to Australia. He covered the ground so comprehensively that I have also read his speech. He paid a tribute to the secretary and other officials of the Department of Immigration. It is not often in this House that we hear compliments paid to permanent officials of departments, but I think that this department is one which deserves commendation. The Department of Immigration deals with human values. It is very significant that the Ministers who have been in charge of this portfolio since the Labour government went out of office - the honorable member for Higgins (Mr. Harold Holt) and the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Townley), and the present Minister - have all shown a keen interest in an organization which deals with human values and the human welfare.
The ordinary resident of Australia, in his humdrum life, does not realize what immigration entails. But to the migrant it is all-important. It is a romantic period in his life. He breaks with his old associations; he makes a fateful decision to come here to a new country, a new life, a new world and a new language. The whole history of migration to Australia since the war has shown a careful planning and smoothness of achievement, and this is very commendable. Some recent visitors to Australia, who are engaged in administering immigration laws in other countries, have been most impressed with the Australian system. Great credit is due to the department, but equally great credit must be given to the migrants themselves. It is not easy for a newcomer to fit himself into a foreign nation. Nothing is perfect in life, and naturally there are some failures. Some migrants fail to become’ assimilated and make good in this country, but they- are a negligible proportion-of the grand total.
Great credit is due also, to the officers who ideal with the selection of migrants in overseas countries. These selections have been well made. It is not only necessary to choose skilled men and useful people but also to find migrants of a mind to come to a new. country and- help , build’ a nation. The assimilation of migrants is Australia has been going on- very satisfactorily, and. Ithink that a great deal of the credit for this can be- attributed to the naturalization ceremonies which take place in the capital cities and in country towns. I believe that alii members of the Parliament, including members, of the Senate, should make every effort to> attend these ceremonies. I do so in my electorate, but I am sorry to note that many Labour senators do not attend. I. think that is,, wrong. Senators of the Opposition panties should.be detailed to go to the country, and be present at. these ceremonies.
I ‘Was pleased that the second-reading speech of the ‘ Minister forecast an amendment to the Nationality and Citizenship Act. The : Minister ‘ brought down that bill on 2’6th August’ last’. ft will glace naturalized Australians “on exactly the same footing as’ the natural-born citizen. That is a very good measure, because there has been quite a lot’ of heart-burning over the thought that otherwise a migrant may be considered to be a second-class- Australian. The amendment will change that. Probably, that measure will be passed this week.
I mentioned earlier that the success in screening migrants has been reflected in the success in assimilation and the results flowing from our migration programme generally. Members of the Opposition have made charges that migrants have been screened politically. That is complete rubbish,, as will be readily recognized whenone pays regard to the mechanics of such a procedure-. Before, officials, overseas could screen, politically, families or individuals for migration, the Government would have’ to- instruct those officials- that -they must choose people who are not socialists’ orsome thing similar. Can- any one: imagine* any: sensible* government’ placing: its honour in the hands; of hundreds of officials* who: themselves- might be of any political’ ‘faith?;
It- is- absolute nonsense to suggest’ that migrants’ are’ screened so that’ only those’ who think the same politically’ as the Gb.vernment are. allowed to come to Australia.
I do not propose to traverse all the changes that this bill .will bring about, but I should like to comment, on itshuman^tarian aspects.. :. The Minister, said- that , in this measure Australia would be given one of the- finest pieces of immigration legislation in the world. That is. very true. This bill will remove many ugly provisions that were in the old migration laws, some of which have caused consternation. I refer to- such provisions as the dictation test and arrest or search without warrant. These matters are dealt with adequately in this bill, I should like to stress, particularly, the special entry system which covers humanitarian needs very well. In some: cases; the father– or mother of a1 migrant is ineligible for entry to this country. In such instances, the Minister will be empowered, at his discretion, to- grant a special entry permit.
From time to time, extraordinary propaganda is levelled against our migration policy. T refer particularly to statements that’ have ‘been made by a Mr. Clapperton and which have appeared extensively in the press in my electorate. Senator Henty dealt very fully with this matter in reply to a question in the Senate. The British Australian Society issued a statement to the press which stated, in part -
This Society dissociates itself from the irresponsible, damaging, inflammatory and unjust statements issued by another association bearing a closely allied title, which claims that the “Bring Out a Briton” scheme is a sham. Such accusations do the greatest possible disservice to a scheme which this Society, is satisfied is genuine and which merits Australia-wide support;
A great deal of publicity has been given to Mr. Clapperton’s statements in the Australian press, and it has done a great deal of harm to our migration programme. I do- not know what is the object behind it; but it is something sinister. At all timesthe department has been most open and willing in supplying information which any one, may require, and there is no- possible excuse- fon- any ‘one being- under any misapprehension’as to “the policy! followed by’ the Government.
This year provision is made in the Budget for an intake of’ 1.15,000 .people. It .is extraordinary to me -that people do not realize that this Budget proposal is of an inflationary character. When migrants are brought -here, until they become producers they have an inflationary effect on the economy. To bring a migrant here involves, first, ‘the -cost of his passage or an assisted passage. But that is not the final cost. These people have to be provided for until they can obtain employment. So long as the .Government maintains a high inflow of migrants it is deliberately taking a calculated;risk -which, .at first, has , an inflationary effect. Migrants , also reduce the amount of, capital available for various forms of investment. I do not know exactly what it costs to place a worker in industry, but I think about £2;00.0. is required for plant and . equipment in order to employ one worker.
When one appreciates fully the important step that this ^Government has taken in deciding “to continue to bring out to this country 115;000 migrants a year, one realizes that .the Government is prepared to take a risk because this is’ the time for us to get our migrants. If we are to hold Australia and build a great nation, we cannot rely entirely on our natural increase. We must bring more and more people to Australia.
– Where do we find homes for them?
– It always seems strange to me when people express such a lack of confidence in our country. The migrants who have come out here have made a tremendous contribution to industry and to home-building. The honorable member asks where we will find homes. A time will ‘ come when we will have caught 6* with the backlag of homes that are required. How will we then employ the tens of thousands of persons who are now engaged in the building industry? We must look to the future with confidence. We cannot build a great nation by sitting back arid worrying about this or that possibility. Having confidence in our ‘ country, and having seen how about 1,500,000 immigrants have been assimilated since the war, why should we fear the future?
On the subject of assimiliation, I believe that the balanced, quota policy is a wise one.
W:e- are .getting, a proportion of northern Europeans, who. may be assimilated very easily.-; In Europe there are three different types, the Nordics, the Mediterraneans and the .-Alpines. I think we should concentrate on the northern Europeans because I believe they can be assimilated more easily than southern Europeans. In America one finds great numbers of persons with German or -Scandinavian names who are true Americans, but in that country one frequently find a “ Little Italy “ or a selfcontained community consisting of nationals of some other European country, the members of which have not become assimilated. This does not mean, however, that we should not bring out a certain number of southern Europeans. The northern Italians, for instance, can be assimilated very easily. I have & great respect for the northern Italians; I believe they ate very attractive people, highly skilled and with a fine cultural: history.
Australia is- succeeding ‘in building up a fine, balanced population. ‘ Courage is “required in continuing ‘an extensive immigration programme. I believe that those who are -planning how to build Australia into a great nation within ‘our 1 lifetime will ‘be proud of’the fact that during our parliamentary careers we had much to do with making Australia a great nation. I commend the ‘Minister on ^bringing down this bill and’ on the splendid manner hi which he ha’s’ eliminated some df the less satisfactory features’ df ‘ the old’ immigration legislation.
Mr. (BRUCE (Leichhardt) [5.5]. - I wish to.: congratulate -the Minister for Immigration (Mr.. Downer) on his practical and common-sense administration of -.the department of which he has control. There appears to be a current misconception that the< immigration policy now being pursued is something -novel. - -I should like to refer, however, to some earlier immigrants to this country . who- exercised a tremendous influencein building :up a fine race of Australians, -who did much to develop this country, who played a notable part in World War I., and ‘whose descendants played an /equally- notable part in World War II.
I was brought up in a community the members of which included immigrants of English, Irish, Scotch and . Welsh stock.
These people had great foresight, because each of their houses had its own orchard. We lived in a mining village which consisted mainly of one long street. For some time the members of the four sections of the community kept to themselves, but as time went on they intermarried. At that time the average family had about eight children. The younger members of the various sections grew up, intermarried, carried on normal family lives and left their children behind them. They helped to build the real foundations of Australia.
These were thrifty people. They were also very charitable. No family in trouble was refused assistance by the others. They helped each other in every possible way, and their children were brought up to be honest, thrifty and straightforward. They enjoyed very few of the amenities that people to-day take for granted. All the youngsters attended the church picnics. They also had their dances. The young people could be seen walking out together, as the custom was called in those days, and in due time they would marry and raise families. In this way some of the foundations of our nation were laid by a group of immigrants who are now practically forgotten. The young people did not hesitate to join up when World War I. came along, and, I am sorry to say, great numbers of them never came back. The descendants of those early immigrants played an important role in World War II.
We should never look at the subject of immigration from a narrow point of view. Building a population is like breeding thoroughbred horses. We must have an infusion of new blood from time to time. I believe the Minister has realized this fact, as I shall demonstrate later. The early immigrants to whom I have referred can, I think, best be described in the way in which Thomas Gray referred, in his “ Elegy “, to the village people buried in the country churchyard. They lived their lives, reared their children and passed on in the normal way. They left their mark. They left people behind them whose character was high and whose quality was sterling.
After World War I. we had quite a number of Italian immigrants. They were a very fine class of people. They either brought their wives with them or arranged a proxy marriage and brought their wives out subsequently. They had their children. The children went to the various State schools and convents and were brought up with Australian children so that the two races came to understand one another. Later on, they inter-married and did a very fine thing in building up Australia. We have had a very large infusion of Latin blood, and I think it is necessary to have Nordic blood.
When I spoke on this question on a previous occasion, the present Minister for Immigration was good enough to put me in touch with the secretary to the Department of Immigration, Mr. Heyes. He is an excellent man. He went into the whole question and asked me for my opinion on it. I said that we should be able to get people from Finland, from Germany, and from the Nordic countries. At that time, it was generally said that we could not get people from Germany because there was plenty of employment in Germany. I also mentioned people from Britain. I was at an immigration conference at which a professor got up and proved, apparently to his own satisfaction, that not one British person was available for immigration. In our general conference, later on, four other gentlemen who had recently been in Great Britain said that thousands of British people wanted to come to Australia and would ‘do so if they had an opportunity. I discussed that question with Mr. Heyes.
Quite recently, I was very pleased to see approximately 1,000 German people come to Australia. Whatever may have been our past differences with Germany, once Germans have immigrated to Australia they have become some of our finest settlers. I am very pleased to see that the whole question has been loosened up so far as British immigrants are concerned and that we are getting a very large influx of them, although the professor said that they were not available.
A group of Danish people and a group of Finns are also coming out. Finland is a small country. When I was Minister for Public Works in Queensland, I was in control of ‘main roads for a long period during which many Finnish immigrants were working on the main roads; they were the finest workmen to be found anywhere. They were readily assimilated into the Australian population by inter-marriage with the Australian people. Later, some of them formed companies. I let many contracts to those Finnish companies, and they always carried out their work satisfactorily, lt is regrettable that the Finns are such a small race. It will be remembered that they put up quite a fight, in their own way, against Russia, despite the relative smallness of their country. The Finnish people are excellent immigrants.
Apparently, the Minister for Immigration took notice of the opinions that I expressed to Mr. Heyes, because he sent him overseas and, as a result, Mr. Heyes has introduced immigrants from the Nordic countries to Australia. I think that that will be very much to the benefit of Australia. In dealing with the question of immigration, I am a bit parochial in that I think that Australians should first be supplied with houses. But we also have an obligation to supply housing and reasonable comforts for immigrants who have decided to make Australia their homeland.
I have found the early Italians to be very fine people. From my early experience in the north, I found that the Italian people did not carry knives, but the Sicilians did, and they knew no Australian law. The Italians got a very bad name because of the attitude and outlook of the Sicilian people. I remember an occasion on which I was driving with others along a main road, not in a motor car, but on a buckboard with a couple of horses. We came across a five-wire barbed fence across the main road, with solid posts. There was a dwelling nearby, and we went in and found living there Sicilian people who said that they had erected the fence because the chap next door to them had pulled up their tramline to the cane-fields. I told them that if they did not shift the fence that afternoon the police would come out and attend to them.
Then I went on to see the gentlemen who had shifted the tramline. They were young men, and they were very nasty and threatening. Of course, I was a good deal younger then and their threats did not worry me very much. I told them that if they did not restore the tramline I would have to get the police out to them. They were people who knew no law except their own. Had any motor cars been driven along that road in the evening the occupants would probably have been killed because those Sicilians had decided the matter in their own way and erected a fence across the road. The Sicilians are a small group of people who have been brought up in a certain way. Anybody who has studied the history of Sicily knows that these people have had no law but that of the tooth and the knife. They have adopted the policy: “ An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth “. But now that a stream of Nordic people has started coming to this country, I believe that the immigration position will rapidly become very satisfactory.
I think that the manner in which the present Minister for Immigration has handled his portfolio has very much improved the immigration position. Previously, it seemed to be the Government’s policy to drop thousands of people on our coast, irrespective of their suitability, character, or anything else. Italian friends of mine who are engaged in the sugar industry have told me that they have sought migrants from rural areas in Italy, but they have not been able to get any. They naturally sought migrants from rural areas because they thought they would best fit into the sugar industry. A young Italian who came out to Australia on his own to settle here told me that workers in hotels and cafes in the bigger towns in Italy can readily get nomination. We are not getting a good, average cross-section of people among our Italian migrants. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), who preceded me, seemed to be worried about the political situation in Italy. Anybody who noted the voting returns at the last Italian election will have noticed that 33 per cent, of the electors voted Communist. We are bound to get a mixed crowd of Italian migrants. Probably we shall get some Communists, and probably we shall get some anti-Communists. That is by the way, but I thought it worthy of mention in view of the remarks made by the honorable member for Hume.
Immigration is a very serious matter indeed for Australia. We must increase our population. In this connexion, I should like to mention an aspect of the problem on which I touched in several questions that I have asked recently - the effect upon the population of the ‘ number ‘ of deaths in industrial and. motor . accidents. These accidents cause.. the deaths of many thousands of people each year,, and greatly hamper the work of building up our population.. .
We in.. Australia, should, always try to maintain the British way. of life and the British outlook. . People who come here from other countries to make Australia their home - as many thousands are anxious to do- should adopt our way of life. I should hate to- see the day when> the major part pf Australia’s people was- not derived from British stock - the stock that originally- developed this’ country. We have developed this country in accordance- with the English way of life. The English, the Welsh, the Scots and the Irish brought their own traditions here and, as I have said, remained somewhat isolated from one another for. a time, but. ultimately, mixed with the rest of’the population. They gave us a very rich heritage in the British outlook. I know that immigration, is necessary to us, but we should adopt wise methods of introducing new strains into the population, and should see that the great traditions of the British people remain paramount at all times.
I suppose that World War I. was one of the greatest tragedies that this country has eyer suffered. In that war, we lost thousands of our own young men. killed, and many- others were maimed. That war was responsible also for the killing and maiming of many thousands of young men of British stock who- would probably have come to this country. Had it not been for World War I.., Australia would perhaps have had by now a population of no fewer than 20,000,000. people, 98 per. cent, of them of British descent. Before the first world war, young . Englishmen were coming to Australia, where jobs- were waiting for them, and this country was developing rapidly. The war denied- us many thousands of young Englishmen of marriageable age. Many- of them would doubtless have brought their parents or other members of their families with, them,- and the. natural increase of. the population represented, by the children of such migrants would have helped greatly to increase our population to the! 20,000,000 mark.
As I- have said* World War I. was an enormous tragedy’ for Australia; I Had always- looked forward - to the possibility of a great. Australia which one day. would be the. centre of- the British Empire - a country with an’ abundance of land and plenty of freedom, offering opportunities for an outdoor life, and knowing no such thing as poverty. What finer country could there be as the centre of the British Commonwealth? England built- her greatness on her maritime power. If we are to believe the atomic weapons experts, the Mother Country is now a sitting shot for- an attacker armed with atomic weapons. Australia, as the centre of the British Commonwealth, would be free from such danger and would have her- own greatness increased. We have all the natural assets to make us a great nation. We; need only the population of British- stock that we would have had if World War. I. had. not occurred. The. influx of- British- people that we should’ have had but for that war would have made-‘ us the equal of any nation in the world. L deeply regret that .the . first -world war prevented us from gaining those people.’ It does not look now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as if the- things that I looked forward to will ever come about.
Finally,-. I should like to- say that the present. Minister for Immigration, is doing the right thing- in his administration of the immigration programme.. . I. congratulate him on his work and. J hope that: he will hold, his present portfolio- for,.- many year,s to come.
.- Mr. Deputy; Speaker,’ I ca’n begin by’’ endorsing the concluding remarks’ made by the honorable’ member for Leichhardt (MK Bruce). It is quite, refreshing, to Opposition member’s ‘to find1 that we have, at long last’, a Minister for Immigration who believes iri Labour’s policy of giving’ preference to people of British stock- in keeping Australia British. ‘ Th’e’ Australian Labour party ‘ believes that Australia needs, more British migrants. The Minister’ for Immigration. (Mr: Downer) is bringing out more British migrants than we have had for many years. I’ am sure that his efforts will be maintained by the new” government that will take office’ after the election, because this policy is strictly iri: accordance with the declarations that have. been made by the Labour party ‘from* time to time1.: The Australian Labour* party’ does- nor feel: that k has to- apologize to anybody ‘for wanting to keep Australia British, , any more than, we would: expect the: Poles- tor apologize for wanting; to- keep Poland Polish, or Italians for. wanting; fo keep: Italy Italian. We- do not say- that, the; British are; a superior, race of people. We never do- say that. As: a Labour party, we pay great, tribute to- Australians’! of. non-British.- stock for. the great achievements! that, they have, been- able, to make in: this country. We are greatly indebted to- them: I mention that, to: emphasize once again that in. saying we want to keep our country British we are. not saying at- all that the British- are a’ superior: race.
In fact,: the Australian Labour party will not tolerate any discrimination between new and old -Australians. Once a person is admitted to this country, we say that he is and must be regarded as an equal to everybody else who is already here. One. may ask: What does the Labour, party mean when it emphasizes” that it wants to keep Australia British? We mean- that we want to maintain the British tradition of freedom and equality under the law, which our forebears acquired’ after a- long and very* very bitter struggle, an achievement which we are determined to maintain and not to allow to slip through our fingers.
It is- our duty to hand down to our children that great tradition which we have inherited from, our parents, and we can only do it by bringing into the country sufficient people who respect and cherish the British tradition of justice and equality within the law, or what is known as the British way of life. I- am sure that; upon reflection, immigrants of non-British stock themselves will agree that it is the maintenance of this very tradition that is their guarantee, and the guarantee of their children; that there will be no violent upheavals in this country, and that they and their children will be able to live and work in peace and freedom, so long as this country retains that British respect for the rule Of law.
The reason why not sufficient people of British stock are coming into this country is that the British people do not consider that the conditions here are adequate. The Labour party, therefore, will improve- the conditions of all immigrants* so as to make migration to Australia attractive, not only to- people, of non-British stock but- also to people df British stock-.- The Minister has- to make certain that he supplements the good-, start he has already made in regaining, the interest df British people in coming to Australia’, by ensuring, adequate housing for: those, who- are already here and for those new settlers’ whom he is attracting, to this country. Unfortunately, that is not his prerogative. 1 think that a government that: wants to deal with immigration as it ought to’, be dealt with;, should clothe: the Minister for Immigration i with some control, or with- the: full: control, so far as.it is: possible to exercise, if. on a Common* wealth level, over housing as well, because housing and immigration, are, of necessity, and must, be, tied together if immigration is- to be a success. It is quite unfair for any government to say to the Minister, “ We want you to be responsible for attracting the- best- immigrants- that we- can get,” and then to deny to that Minister the opportunity of ensuring that the immigrants, upon their arrival, have the things that, are needed to. ensure- minimum standards, of comfort and convenience.
Of course, intending, immigrants have naturally to be screened- before they come to Australia to ensure that no criminals come here, but the Labour party maintains that once an immigrant has been admitted he should be judged solely on his behaviour, in. this country. Secret dossiers , on activities, true or imaginary,. in the country, from which he came, should not be levelled against him. The Labour party will accelerate the procedure of naturalization. On this point, let me say something about the present system, with which I find myself in disagreement. Before a person is naturalized, it is the practice to have him screened, politically by the security service. I say that, that is entirely wrong. The. screening. that is done, after he comes here should, properly have been carried out before he was ever allowed to come, and once a person is screened in another country and permitted to enter. Australia, what he thinks politically should never be allowed to come into question at all:
I know of- cases in South Australia which, I have, had to bring to. the notice, possibly, not of the- Minister personally, but of. the department. One related to a> person who! was, and had; been foi- years, a member of. the Australian Labour party. I- had been* responsible for his- joining- the party; only-, because 1 was- completely satisfied that he- was a good Labour man and worthy of membership of the party. When he sought naturalization, it was refused because a security report stated that he was a Communist. That was a complete and utter fabrication by the security people, who rely on information supplied by people of the same nationality as the applicant. Everybody knows that among certain groups of immigrants there are great bitternesses and strong feuds which go so deeply that in order to injure a person to whom they are opposed, they do not hesitate to say that he is a security risk.
If this Government knows of any person who should not be naturalized, because of his activities as disclosed by the security organization, it should deport him on the ground that it is not safe to leave him here. If the Government cannot level against any person, and prove, the charge that he is a danger to the security of the country, the Government has no right to refuse naturalization for security reasons.
Here is the example of a member of the Labour party, who would have voted for Labour party candidates at the forthcoming general election but for the action of this Government in refusing to give him naturalization and, consequently, the right to vote. It is appropriate that I should deal with this matter immediately after dealing with the British way of life. If we believe in the British way of life, we should surely give to everybody the right to disagree on political grounds, if he wants to do so, with the government of the day. Mr. Justice Douglas and Mr. Justice Black, of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, only recently handed down a magnificent judgment in which they upheld the right of American citizens to hold even Communist points of view, stating that it was the right of every free man to hold any views he wished to hold.
– Do you claim the same freedom?
– Of course I do! Everybody has a perfect right to hold whatever political views he wishes to hold. Nobody who adheres to the concept of the British way of life should deny a person the right to disagree with the Government or to hold any political view, no matter how obnoxious, so long as it was not a view that represented a danger to the security of the
State. I think it is a monstrous thing that we should deny Australian citizenship to people who have lived here for ten or eleven years, without a single conviction against them, without damage to their character by way of the commission of a criminal offence, just because some security sleuth, whose record is never properly checked, puts in a secret report that they are Communists. If the Government must insist on checking people’s political views, and if that is its idea of British justice, all I ask is that it should implement the British way of life in its entirety. For goodness sake, let the person who is accused of holding dangerous political views face his accuser in open court. Let the accuser face him and produce evidence against him.
These star chamber methods of the security service of submitting a secret report against a person who never has the right even to know the identity of the person who has levelled the charge against him are far wide of my idea of the British way of life. It is a fact that a person whose application for naturalization is rejected is never even told the reason. That is not the kind of thing that the Minister’s father or the Minister himself has believed in or fought for throughout their lives. It might be objectionable - and it would not be nice for me - to allow persons with Communist, fascist or nazi tendencies to have a vote in Australia, but much as I dislike the idea, I would always give them the right to exercise their vote politically in whatever way they chose. The Minister for Immigration is not like some honorable members on the Government side, who have been interjecting, who are ignorant of what comprises the British way of life, and I ask him to examine once again his conception of what is the British way of dealing with these matters and to make his judgment accordingly.
The Australian Labour party does something more than that, Mr. Deputy Speaker; it upholds the rights of immigrants to retain their own language and customs. I do not think we have any right to expect a person from another country to forget completely his own land and to cut himself off from the place of his birth. We should have enough confidence in the British way of life to be certain that ultimately, even if those who come from other countries do not voluntarily accept the Australian way of life, their children will do so. We should be satisfied so long as the immigrants respect and carry out our laws. They have a perfect right to retain their own language if they want to do so and to use their own customs provided they obey our laws. They have to learn to speak English for their own benefit, and most of them do so. They know that unless they learn our language they cannot get work, and have to pay the penalty in many other ways.
I shall not repeat what I said concerning the Minister for Immigration at the opening of my speech. I have found a refreshing change in the administration of the Department of Immigration on a ministerial level. The previous occupant of the post was, unfortunately, one who seemed to take about as much interest in the Department of Immigration as I take in Russian ballet.
– Does not the honorable member take any interest in it?
– None at all; and that is how much the former Minister for Immigration took in the department. The Minister previous to him took a little more interest in it, but usually it was an interest which would have been better left aside because the more interest he took in the department, the worse the decisions that were made. Provided a member of this Parliament puts forward a reasonably good case, and is prepared to back his recommendations to the Minister for Immigration with his own personal guarantee, his representations should be successful unless there are very good reasons for rejecting them. That is how it ought to be. If a member of this House is prepared to stake his reputation on a request or a recommendation concerning an immigrant who has approached him, the Minister should have enough confidence in the member to support him, just as the member should have confidence in the Minister if the final decision is against him. If a member is prepared to support his request, the Minister should have enough confidence in the member to say, “ Although there is a doubt, I will resolve it in favour of the member’s representations because I do not think there is any member of this Parliament who would abuse such a trust “. I know that I would never do so.
It is true that many times an honorable member has to write to the Minister for Immigration when he is not absolutely certain of the details of the case, but in such a letter the member indicates that he is not absolutely certain. He makes the request and asks the Minister to examine it and, at the same time, indicates that he is prepared to accept the Minister’s decision. But where a member has personally examined a case and is absolutely certain of it and gives the Minister his assurance accordingly, the Minister for Immigration is correct - as is the case with the present Minister - in supporting the representations that are made to him.
I know that recently the Minister made a very courageous decision in the case of two runaway seamen. Very few Ministers in his position like to allow seamen to come into the country illegally and remain here upon anybody’s representations. In this case, the Minister knew that the men were of excellent type. It would not be possible to find two better immigrants than those to whom I am referring. Because the Minister for Immigration was satisfied on that point, he was big enough and courageous enough to allow them to remain in Australia. He said, in effect, “ Although they have broken the law to get here, I am satisfied that they are immigrants of ideal type of whom Australia can be proud in the future “.
However, 1 do not want to give all the credit to the Minister for the administration of the Department of Immigration. I agree entirely with the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Bruce) in all that he has said about the Secretary of the Department of Immigration, Mr. T. Heyes. I say without fear of contradiction that there is no better run department in the Commonwealth to-day than the Department of Immigration. I am glad that honorable members on both sides of the House have indicated their approval of that statement almost unanimously. Any honorable member who has known Mr. Heyes personally or has had the good fortune to have personal dealings with him will support thai statement wholeheartedly.
What I like about the Department of Immigration is this: In cases where the department is unable to accept or agree to representations -that are put. -forward by a member of ‘Parliament, the officers .always produce reasons that are sufficiently strong to ..convince .any reasonable member of Parliament .that the rejection is correct. When a member of Parliament can say .that, he is saying all that anybody could say in favour of. a departmental head. I can sa,y this of the Secretary of the Department of Immigration: When a member makes representations and there is a shadow of doubt, Mr. Heyes will ‘always be wholeheartedly in favour of the representat ions made ‘by the member -when ‘he is ‘satisfied (“hat the member -lias personally examined the >case and is -sure ;in :his own mind that the case justifies special ‘attention, -.lilt -would- ,-not :be right, however, ‘to place all the -credit ion the shoulders of the head of 4he department. - He -is -doing -such .a -good job -probably /because -he is - .aided by an excellent.. staff. lot. officers, who wonk under his control. “J -do not wish to take .kudos for anybody, hut .whichever :government was able./0 gather, together .such a fine body, of senior. officers as those , in .the Department pf, Immigration .is, entitled, to the very highest, commendation. .It is most unusual to see in one single department such a .large number of senior officers, who are able to do such .magnificent, work for Australia. I was pleased to note that, as a result of this legislation, there will ‘be no more Imler cases in the future. I do not know whether the -measure will succeed as the Minister hopes. I was sorry to note in his Secondreading speech that he ;is .not certain .even now that the course that lias .been taken will .be entirely successful.
– It will be a very big advance.
– I agree, and I commend the Minister for the action he has taken in this regard. It is a terrible thing that when one parent can take the children of the marriage out of the country and then say to the other parent, “ If you want to see the children again, you must follow me .to the country in which I have chosen to live; otherwise you will never see the children again “. That sort of thing has happened twice already, and I hope that it will not be allowed to happen again.
I want to refer now to Cypriots. This Government, for some reason - and I am sorry to say, after the nice things that I have said ,about him,- that the Minister seems to endorse the attitude - has taken the attitude that Cypriots are -some low form of life not .fit to be immigrants. The Minister .seems to overlook the fact that -of all the ,people seeking entry ‘to ‘this country, the Cypriots are, after -all, /British subjects, and as British .subjects 4hey .are excellent types and should be given special consideration. A case .recently brought to my notice was that of a Cypriot girl living in Adelaide. She had no relatives in this country and she sought permission for her mother to come to Australia, not only to provide company for ‘her while she awaited the birth of . her second child, but also to help her with her .family. This girl was an excellent type, married to a naturalized Greek, and she asked for no more. than to have her mother come to this country. Her mother was a widow and could have been cared for by her daughter, whom she would have assisted in the management of the family. But the Government, it seems, is so hostile to, and so prejudiced against -Cypriots, for some reason : best -known to itself-
– That is not so.
– It is the truth I -have had the experience -of seeking .permission for Cypriots to come here. This girl said that if -the Government - would not allow .her -mother ‘to .corn e to Australia, it , should permit her sister, who -has been living in.. London for four years -with her husband, to .come here.
Mc , Freeth.-Be Government may have good reasons for its actions.
– The Government acted as it did ‘because it is not allowing any more -Cypriots to come “to this country at ‘present. It would not allow ‘this girl’s -sister to .come here, ‘despite -the ‘fact that she had been -living ‘in London with her husband for -four -years. That -indicates clearly the -bitter prejudice -against Cypriots, probably because the .’Cypriots are ‘seeking self-government^ ‘the British -way of life, the right to govern themselves, and the right to have !the freedoms of -which we British people are so proud. I am sure that if it were not for (the great struggle going -on in Cyprus -to-day for self-determination, there would be .no prejudice against Cypriots. They would not be barred from entry to this country.
– Did you say that the Government was opposed to the entry of all Cypriots?
– Yes. Another matter that I should like to raise with the Minister is the subject of deportation. I do not know all the facts concerning recent deportations. I wrote to the Minister about certain immigrants who were to be deported, and the Minister told me that he could not allow them to remain in the country. He did not give reasons. I do not want to set the Minister against his secretary, but I think his secretary would have given me reasons - he usually does. They are given confidentially and they are kept confidential. I think that, where the Minister feels that he cannot accede to an honorable member’s request, he should at least trust the honorable member with the confidential reasons why the request cannot be met.
– I send many confidential letters to honorable members.
– 1 know, but the Minister did not send one to me in this case. Judging from the private conversations that I had with, the Minister, if he had been able to write to me in line with what he told me privately, I would have been completely satisfied that the action taken was justified. The Minister should follow a policy and never depart from it. He should allow an honorable member to know exactly the reasons for his action. Then honorable members will always know where they stand, and whether they should pursue the matter.
I should like to know whether henceforth all immigrants who are- convicted of a crime punishable by one year’s imprisonment or longer will be deported, or whether their conviction and sentence will only form the basis for inquiry and, if the immigrant is found to be a particularly bad character, then and only then will he be deported. I should not like every person to be deported who is found guilty of a crime punishable by one year’s imprisonment or more. I do not think that would be right, because in many cases, although the offence is punishable by one year’s imprisonment or more, the offender is only sentenced to three months’ imprisonment and, in fact, may only serve eight weeks. It would be unjust in those circumstances to deport the offender.
– That is not the policy. Each case is examined on its merits.
– An Italian, who was convicted of stealing a motor car, is awaiting deportation. I know of a Ukrainian who will soon be released from prison in New South Wales. He has been serving a term of three years’ imprisonment. I hope that he will not be sent back to the Russian Ukraine because of that prison term. If he is deported, the Minister will be virtually bringing about his execution. I ask the Minister to consider that aspect carefully.
That is all I wish to say. I am pleased that at long last I am able to praise the work of a Minister. The Minister for Immigration is the only member of the Government about whom I feel that I can say a word of praise. I do not say it grudgingly. Now that he has tasted the power to deport people, I hope that the Minister will not allow that power to gO to his head. I hope that he will not derive pleasure from deporting people. I hope that he will only exercise his power hu special circumstances. If he continues in< the future to control his department as he has controlled it in the past, and if his. department is administered by men like Mr. Heyes and the executives immediately under him, as it has been since I have had anything to do with it, there will be no cause for complaint.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m..
.- At the time that the sitting of the House was suspended for dinner, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) had just spoken. In the course of his speech he said some sensible things, mainly in paying a tribute to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), but for the rest of the time he made some most remarkable statements. He made the principal error in his address of saying that the screening of migrants should be properly done overseas and that once a migrant arrived here, what he thought politically should have no bearing. This is a demonstrably wrong impression. We could, because of the kindness of the nation-, find ourselves the victims of some infiltration. I speak, for example, of the Hungarian refugees who’ came to this country in great numbers after the conflagration of their country. It would have been an extremely simple matter for some foreign power whose ideas are alien and bitter towards us to infiltrate an agent amongst those refugees, and inevitably a great deal of time would elapse before the truth of the matter would be ferreted out. To suggest that, because a person with such ill-intent had arrived in Australia he should be free from deportation or other action is a quite wrong and unjustifiable opinion.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh went on to say that this Government had adopted the attitude that it will take no Cypriots at all. I need do no more than to suggest to the honorable member that he refer to the statistical bulletins of the Department of Immigration or, indeed, to the figures of the Commonwealth Statistician. There he will find that this is not so at all. He spoke of cherished freedoms. I could not help but wonder whether the cherished freedoms of which the honorable member spoke would be accorded to an immigrant upon joining the union to which the honorable member for Hindmarsh referred in a speech to this House during the last sessional period.
– He would be more likely to get them into a union than into the Liberal party.
– We wonder whether an immigrant would have the cherished freedoms of which the honorable member spoke in a union that had czars, “ yes “-men and the politbureau development of policy.
I join with previous speakers in this debate in paying a great personal tribute to the Minister for Immigration. The job he has done since being appointed to the portfolio has been magnificent. I feel that he has approached the matter with humanity and with courage. There have been occasions when, apparently, the Minister has seemed to act hastily. On these occasions, subsequent events have proved that he not only acted properly but, indeed, that he acted speedily and with courage. Without diminishing in any way the praise that is due to the Minister, I feel that a great measure of praise is due to his departmental officers. I have had some experience of the way in which they perform their duties, and I have found that universally they are particularly fitted to their work and very ably led by the departmental head.
The question of immigration is one which is peculiar to every country in its own relationships with its population, with its industrial development and with the countries to which it looks as possible sources of immigrants. Australia is in a completely separate position. Its geographical location bears no relation whatever to any of the other major receiving countries. Only three other countries are at all comparable with Australia. They are the United States of America, Canada and Brazil. The United States and Canada, of course, are entirely different in that they are in another hemisphere. Brazil is different from Australia in that its historical evolution, its social structure, and its entire history and manners are completely different from those of Australia. The United States has taken some 40,000,000 immigrants since records were first kept in 1821. That again is quite a different consideration from those applying to Australia.
Perhaps the most significant difference between Australia and all other receiving countries is the greater need Australia has to attract immigrants. Canada is in the same hemisphere and relatively close - a mere five days’ voyage - from western Europe. This makes it easy to reach and easy for people to return to their homelands if they experience any disappointment. Australia, notwithstanding the extraordinary development of aviation, is still a long way from western Europe, to which it looks for the greater part of its migrant intake. We therefore must seek to attract migrants and to make Australia a better country in their eyes than the other countries that receive migrants.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I feel that this bill is a truly great improvement on the conglomeration of acts which had built up since 1901 and to which a person had to look to know what the migration law of the country was. It is significant, however, that this is the first consolidation of the Migration Act since its first passage through the Parliament in 1901, some 57 years ago. For that reason, I am impelled to say that I do not believe this bill goes as far as it should go. As a consolidation, it is excellent; as a statement of the law on migration, it falls short. I should have liked to see placed before the Parliament what might be more properly described as a bill for a code on migration. Such a code should be as near as possible to a comprehensive statement of the rights and obligations of migrants. This would have a two-fold effect. It is important to the people in Australia who may wish to nominate migrants, and it also has a vital role in being important to people overseas who may wish to migrate to Australia.
As to the first consideration, it is important for a resident of Australia who may wish to nominate a person overseas to know whom he may nominate. It is important for him to know who in Australia can register the nomination. It is, of course, obvious that there will be changing policy. There will be a time when we are seeking to take in a greater flow of immigrants than we would at other times. So I say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that a code should be as comprehensible as possible, bearing in mind that policy changes of the day may make it absolutely impossible for a nominator to bring in a person of whom he knows nothing or whom he has never met. However, I believe that we should include in our legislation the inviolable right of family re-union. Such an accepted principle should be incorporated in legislation, preferably in a code. Such a code should clearly enunciate also the exclusions that will prevent a person wishing to nominate another from having a nomination considered.
The principal ‘ requirement in a code is the need to make perfectly clear to . any prospective immigrant, who may consider Australia as a country of residence, just what he may do. He wants to know who may apply directly to the Australian officers stationed overseas or to the Australian Department of Immigration by letter. Once again, provision must be made for changing policy on the type of person who can come in. I refer especially to assisted migrants. Such a code must state clearly the exclusions. It must state the persons who in no circumstances can come here and those who, other things being equal, can come. I think such a code, for the benefit of prospective migrants, should state very clearly what will be their political rights in Australia. It is most necessary for such a code to state clearly what will be their rights of naturalization, what time must necessarily elapse before they can apply for it and what the exclusions are to their receiving it upon application. I think it should include also a very definite statement, in legislative form, of what their social benefits will be upon arrival in Australia. Most people in Australia know, in fact, to what social benefits migrants are entitled upon arrival in Australia, but the migrant himself may not know and he may not take the opportunity of finding out.
Certain pensions are available to migrants upon arrival, and also child endowment and unemployment benefit. These matters should all find their way into a statement in legislative form. And, perhaps more important than anything, a definite statement in legislative form should be provided to the migrant showing that he is free from any discrimination and shall enjoy social equality. A matter with which honorable members on the opposite side would agree is that the migrant should be guaranteed absolute rights in his industrial activities, in his work-a-day world.
I feel that such a bold statement in codified form would be very good in that it would be attractive to residence in Australia and migrants would know precisely what their powers and limitations would be. It would be most important for potential migrants to Australia to know these things. Such a statement would, to a great extent, free some of the immigration law from administrative alteration and, therefore, would be welcome. It would be of great assistance also to the immigration officers stationed overseas in their duties of screening and interviewing and carrying out all those duties which are necessary pre-requisites for the admission of migrants to Australia.
It is necessary to recognize, at this time of the world’s history, that there must be very great redistributions of the world’s population. This is a country with a population of about three persons to the square mile. Another great receiving country, Brazil, has seventeen persons to the square mile and Canada about four. But in western Europe the situation exists where the small country of Holland, about half the size of Tasmania, has a population of 10,000,000. The need for a truly great redistribution of the world’s population is upon us and must be recognized. Australia must play its part in it, and I believe that such a code would assist that process.
Another matter in this bill on which I wish to speak is the question of ministerial discretion. I know that ministerial discretion is inevitable in any piece of legislation of this kind. In the main, it is properly exercised; and certainly that has been the case .over the last decade. But this bill appears to greatly reduce the amount of ministerial discretion that can :be exercised under its terms. For example, there is the proposed abolition of the dictation test. I do not believe that this is, in fact, a liberalization. I believe that the alternative which is now to be brought in, a simple statement by the Minister of “ Yes “ or “No”, is, if anything, a contraction. In the case of the dictation test, it was necessary actually to administer the test, and if the applicant failed it was then necessary to convict the person at a public hearing in court with all the paraphernalia of the press present. That will not now be required, and, therefore, I do not believe that such a provision is in any way a liberalization.
An important provision in the bill is contained .in clause 14. Under this clause, before the Minister can deport a person he can be required by the person to refer his case to a commissioner. Sub-clause (8.) reads -
When a notice has been served on a person under sub-section (3.) of this section the Minister shall not order the deportation of that person under this section unless -
a Commisioner reports under this section in relation to that person that he considers that the ground specified in the notice has been established.
Subclause (1.) of this clause provides that an alien may be deported by the Minister, subject to the qualifications appearing later in the clause. An alien may be deported at any time. Sub-clause (2.) provides that an immigrant may be deported if, not more than five years previously, his conduct has been such that he should not be allowed to remain in Australia. A very great difference between an alien and a migrant is obvious. An alien can be deported at any time, and for virtually any reason; but an immigrant has the benefit of the limitation of five years. Paragraph (b) of sub-clause (2.) provides that an immigrant may be deported if -
I think that it would not be an exaggeration to say that a very great percentage of immigrants to Australia from certain of the European countries would fall within the category covered by that provision. The question of ministerial discretion is preserved, in that the Minister will initiate the question of whether or not deportation should be considered.
But a more important matter which arises is the lack of definitive statement of what is an alien and what is an immigrant. I feel that this part of the bill should be more directly defined. According to clause 5 (1.), which is the interpretation clause - “ Alien “ means a person who is not -
That is, an alien is somebody who is not one of those three persons and an immigrant, by definition, includes a person who has entered Australia for a temporary stage, who would be an immigrant if he intended to enter Australia for the purpose of staying here permanently. In other words, he is brought within a large group which itself is not defined. The importance of the difference between the terms “ alien “ and “ immigrant “ is that the alien can be deported at any time but the immigrant only within five years. It is very important to know whether a person is an immigrant or an alien. I believe that many people who are non-British subjects are probably both aliens and immigrants at one and the same time and therefore subject to either or both sub-clauses 1 and 2 of clause 14 with different consequences.
Subclause (3.) of clause 14 provides that the Minister -
Shall not order the deportation of a person under this section unless he has first served on that person a notice
The migrant can then refer the matter to a commissioner. Sub-clause (6.) provides -
The Commissioner shall, after investigation in accordance with the next succeeding sub-section report to the Minister whether he considers that the ground specified in the notice under sub-section (3.) of this section has been established.
The immediate question to be asked there is whether or not this is, in fact, an appeal; because the commissioner can inquire into a simple single question or he can inquire into two questions. He can, first of all, ask, “ Is the allegation of the Minister established? “ and answer it “Yes”. In that case he is not deciding, as an appeal, whether or not the Minister’s discretion was properly exercised on the proved facts but merely whether what is alleged is established. It may be, and I think it would be, the intention of the commissioner to establish first of all whether or not the facts as alleged were proved; and, secondly, if such facts were proved, whether or not the Minister properly exercised his discretion on the proved facts when deciding to order deportation. I believe that in this regard the bill needs some clarification.
I now come to another matter with which the policy of this country has been concerned since federation. I refer specifically to Asian migrants to Australia. I find, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the matter of immigration of Asians still comes within what is generally defined as ministerial discretion. The current policy in Australia has been accepted for half a century. Whether it is time for that policy to be changed, or whether it is not, the fact remains that whether individual Asians should be admitted to this country has always been, and continues to be, a matter of ministerial discretion. In other words, the policy followed for half a century can be reversed overnight by administrative action.
Leaving aside completely any arguments for or against the policy, I believe that this position should not be allowed to continue. I do not believe that a specific provision in legislation, especially the kind of code that I outlined earlier, would give any greater offence than the fact. I therefore feel that the matter should be removed from the category of ministerial discretion and be included in the legislation. I believe that no great offence is being given at the moment. The great influx of students into this country, under the Colombo plan and like schemes, has helped greatly to give other nations an understanding of our viewpoint and our attitude. The present policy Of allowing family reunions, interpreted in the way that it has been, has, I feel, proved to any person who cares to study the matter, that the policy of Australia in this regard is fair and reasonable.
I wish to refer to only one final point. It concerns clause 27.- (4.) of the bm which deals with offences in relation to entry. It provides that, on proof of certain offences, a person shall be convicted. It then provides a penalty and also a right of appeal. Sub-clause (4.) is in these terms -
Where a person is convicted of an offence under this section and appeals against his conviction, he shall not be released on bail unless he ‘finds two sureties, each in the sum of Five hundred pounds and each approved by an authorized officer, for his appearand”: at the hearing of the appeal.
Only one person in a million could raise two sureties of £500 after being convicted of an offence in relation to entry. There is, therefore, no provision for bail. I believe the intention was to provide for bail, but to ensure that a person so bailed would turn up for the hearing of the appeal, and would not just drift off into the populace and so set a problem for the department, which would have to find him. However, the provision as it now stands must inevitably favour the wealthy offender as against the not-so-wealthy offender.
The purposes of appeal, of course, are twofold - to preserve our long-established British custom that a person is not guilty until so proved, and to give such a person a right to exhaust his avenues of appeal, and, secondly, to allow a convicted person out on bail so that he may properly and adequately prepare his appeal. I feel that the present provision virtually excludes bail, and that the matter should be in the hands of the judicial officer who gives leave to appeal or who would normally be called upon to grant bail.
.- The bill before the House is one which, obviously, will serve an excellent purpose in helping to straighten out many of the tangles that have impeded the officers of the Department of Immigration in carrying out the policy that not only this, but also previous governments, have desired should be applied with regard to our immigration activities.
On all sides of the House the Minister has been complimented on bringing down this measure. I wish to commend the Minister on having given honorable members an opportunity to study the provisions of the proposed legislation. Because of the length of the bill and the many subjects that it deals with, the debate on the measure, which was introduced early in the year, was adjourned to allow honorable members time to study it very carefully and, if they wished, to make inquiries in appropriate quarters and ascertain how the bill would operate and whether it would be satisfactory. During the months that have elapsed I have taken the opportunity to do this. I have discussed the bill with officers of the department who are charged with the responsibility of directing our immigration activities. I have discussed it with persons who have come to Australia as immigrants, and I have discussed it with other persons who have been concerned with the welfare of our new Australian population. Tn every case the bill has been highly commended, although here and there there have been suggestions as to how the bill might be improved slightly.
I wish first to deal with the question of immigration on a broad basis. Australia is generally conceded to be still a young country, but I believe it is unfortunate that at this period in our history we have to resort to such an extensive immigration programme as has been pursued during the post-war years. The blame for this lies entirely at the door of the Australian people of earlier days. I am going to suggest that the Minister for Immigration should also be Minister for Population.
– I have made my own personal contribution.
– Although it is not an original remark, let me say that the best immigrant we can have is a baby born in our own country of our own people. No one will deny the truth of this statement. Let me emphasize that it is necessary for us to encourage, in every way we can, our own people to populate our country.
– May I remind the honorable member that, whilst agreeing with him up to a point, I have the honour to be the father of four children.
– I commend the Minister for it, but may I suggest in all humility and respect that he still falls short of my record of six children - but there is still time for the Minister to make up the deficit. I do, in all seriousness, however, suggest that encouragement of natural population increase should receive just as much attention by this Government as should the immigration programme. I also suggest that the department most fitted to carry out these duties is the Department of Immigration. The departmental officers should undertake to inquire into the reasons why there is a short fall in the natural increase in population.
It is true that if we wish to increase our population and to maintain a young population we have to have an average family of five. Continuing surveys in this country and in other countries have confirmed that, in order to maintain a population young enough to look after people as they get older and to make sure that we will not have on our hands, first, an aged population, and then a diminution of population, an average of five per family has to be maintained. I do not see any reason why we cannot preach that as a gospel to our people. The standard of living in this country and the opportunities available in this country are so good that there is no reasonable excuse for any one to escape their responsibilities. That is a fundamental necessity. If people kept that idea in mind the problems associated with a shortage of labour would disappear.
One aspect of the bill which, I think, will provide satisfaction is the abolition of the dictation test in connexion with our immigration policy. Those who have read the history of this test will recall that it was a dishonest subterfuge which was endorsed by the National Parliament out of respect for the dictates of the good people at Westminster. The subterfuge was adopted in an attempt to be selective in our immigration policy and to make sure that, in laying down the standards we would apply, we would not offend anybody outside. I believe that the dictation test and the constant use of the words “White Australia” have done more harm to this country than we can calculate.
The irresponsible attitude indicated by the remark of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who is interjecting, has also done a great deal of harm to Australia. Every country is selective in its admission of immigrants and, in controlling the admission of people to this country, wherever they come from, we exercise the same right as that which is exercised in their native land. We should be honest about this matter; I believe that will pay us in the long run. The dictation test was a dishonest subterfuge for which this country has had to suffer the consequences since it was introduced. I am glad that the Minister has had the courage to remove it and to replace it with provisions which will enable us honestly to be as selective as we were under the old provision. The new provisions will enable us to deal with undesirables who may be admitted to this country through an error of judgment and who require to be sent away. We shall be able to deal with them honestly, fairly, and with justice.
Another very welcome addition to this bill is a new system of special permits for people who are coming to this country or for people who are already here and who want to bring in those who, in the ordinary way, would be excluded from receiving an entry permit. The new provision will remove some of the limitations which attach to the system of certificates of exemption. The Minister for Immigration, in his second-reading speech, referred in particular to the human aspect of the problem of aged persons overseas whom their family may wish to bring to Australia and whom it will be possible to bring out under the special permit arrangement. This is a very laudable objective and it will be greatly welcomed. I hope that this policy will be applied to cases which have come before my notice during the past few years.
Young people have been admitted to this country under a certificate of exemption for a specified period and then have been obliged to go back to their own country. I refer to people who have come to us from the islands to the north. Some of these people have suffered unfortunate incidents. Some families have been permitted to bring children here - adopted children in some cases - for educational purposes under a certificate of exemption. The parents were eligible to remain in Australia, being British-born. The children, however, could only come here under a certificate of exemption. When their period of education had expired, the Government was obliged to tell the children that they had to go back to the country in which they were born.
That was very unfortunate. I am hoping that the special permit system will overcomethe inhumanity which attaches to theseparation of aged persons overseas from the young people here, and which forces members of a family here to leave the parents or to compel the parents to go back to a country to which they do not want to return. I should be glad to hear whether the special permit system will overcome that difficulty.
I do not propose to discuss the sections of the old legislation which will be removed by the passage of this bill. The whole idea of the bill is that, by their removal or amendment, justice will be provided for every person who seeks to come to this country. The object of the bill is that they may be certain that the fundamental rules that apply to British people throughout the world will apply here and that, regardless of their country of birth, they will receive justice no less than that which would be handed out to any British-born or naturalized subject.
I ask the Minister to look at the problems associated with proxy marriages. Some good workers who have come here as immigrants may have been engaged to girls overseas for many years. After they have arrived here they have gone through a form of proxy marriage. Then, the proxy wife has made application for an entry permit to Australia and, for health or other reasons, has been found unsuitable to come to this country. That situation presents heart-rending problems, Sir. We face’ the prospect of losing a very desirable Australian citizen, because the young man already here may have to return to> his own country if the couple are unfortunately unable to dissolve the marriage. If the marriage stands, the man has to leave his proxy wife overseas and keep her there while he remains here - I suppose as what we could call a grass widower - or else he has to return to his wife in the land of his birth.
I do not know whether any publicity is being given to these problems at present, but they should be publicized much more than at present in order that any one who is thinking of entering into a proxy marriage will realize that he must first make sure that the proxy wife - or proxy husband, if that is the case - can comply with the conditions for an entry permit to Australia. I think it is merely a question of disseminating information to the people concerned. It might be sufficient if the churches in the countries concerned were informed that we have had unfortunate instances in which we have not been able to bring the two people together, and that it is up to the churches to make certain, before they permit a proxy marriage, that the woman will be able to enter Australia, so that the partner already here will not be compelled to return to Europe in order that the couple may be together. We do not want him to leave, and he may not want to return to his own country.
The only other matter that I want to discuss in connexion with this bill concerns immigration agents. I understand from the second-reading speech made by the Minister that the Department of Immigration proposes now to cease the registration of immigration agents. But it will continue to recognize such agents, Sir. I should prefer to see a clause in the’ bill forbidding anybody to- act as- a paid immigration agent. Too many so-called immigration agents have not acted with humane intentions, and have been mere moneygrubbers. I suggest that many honorable members could tell of! instances in which migrants have approached members of the Parliament, who have made representations to the department; with a successful outcome, in respect of a minor matter that was not handled in the right way by an immigration agent, the agent then having the colossal cheek to collect from the migrant a substantial fee for services that he did not render.
– - Most of those were members of the Australian Country party.
– The honorable member is unable to take any speech seriously. I think we should still see a grin on his face no matter what tragic circumstances were being related. This is a serious matter. It concerns the human problems of people and of their kin overseas. Migrants pay substantial sums to immigration agents, for which they sometimes get results and sometime do not. The migrant very often gets no satisfaction, although he has been compelled to pay a substantial sum to the agent.
I suggest that members of this House have done far more for migrants, in a purely honorary capacity - and have been very happy to do it - and with far better results than have been achieved by immigration agents.
In my opinion, the proper place for a migrant to go for help is the office of the Department of Immigration in a capitalcity, or the immigration office nearest to the district in which he happens to be. I have found the officers of the department courteous, patient, and helpful to all migrants who seek their help. If there is no office of the department available, the migrant can go to the police, who, in most instances, are courteous and helpful. He can be sure of getting assistance from either of these sources.
– Free of charge!
– Free of charge, as the. honorable member reminds me. Service is given readily and kindly by these officers. Migrants can go also to members, of the Parliament. Let me say now, for the benefit of those who may hear or read my remarks, that when a migrant seeks the help of a member of the Parliament there is no question of a fee or even a vote, because most- migrants do not yet have a vote. The services of members of the Parliament are available to migrants at any time and are willingly given. Likewise, the services of officers of the Department of Immigration, are readily available. The officers of the department have given in the past, and I am certain will continue to give, whatever help it is in their power to give in order to meet the needs of a migrant. From my contacts, with them, I am of the opinion that they treat a new Australian as one of their babies, almost literally, in the sense that he is regarded as some one for whose welfare they are responsible, and I have known them to go out of their way to help new Australians to get what they are entitled to have in this country. For the reasons that I have given, I believe that, by continuing even to recognize immigration agents, we shall permit an unremitting injustice to be done to migrants, who, of course, do not know any better.
I am happy to support the bill, and I submit the matters that I have raised to the Minister for his usual generous and sympathetic consideration.
.- Mr. Speaker, you know from the remarks of previous Opposition speakers that members of the Australian Labour party do not oppose this measure. This debate affords honorable members a good opportunity to voice their opinions on immigration generally. I subscribe wholeheartedly to, and loyally support, the policy of the Australian Labour party on immigration.
I am pleased to say that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) was the architect of the grand scheme that has been in operation in this country since 1945. So well was it designed, and so well has it worked, that none of the Ministers in this Government who followed him has been prepared to alter it in any way. It is to the credit of the honorable member that he initiated this scheme in 1945 with the full approval of the Australian Labour party and of Mr. Chifley, the Prime Minister of the day, and that the scheme has worked so well. The work of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this connexion has been to the advantage of the nation. Tt is primarily because of his work, which has been supported by his successors, that we have received more than 1,000,000 migrants since 1945. More than one-tenth of the Australian population to-day is composed of migrants who have come here since the cessation of hostilities.
They have been brought here for various reasons. First, displaced persons were brought here with the idea that we should apply to them the principles of Christian charity and provide a home for them. Secondly, we brought here from the United Kingdom people who were desirous of getting away from the threat and fear of war in the future. These people have come here primarily from Europe, and it is our boast that our Australian population comprises mainly people of British and European stock. These people have played a great role in the development of this nation. In the early days they were directed to various places of employment. They came -to a land which was strange to them in every respect and they shouldered their responsibilities very well. I know that they went to the centre of Western Australia and the far western plains of Queensland. They worked under extreme difficulties but they discharged their obligations to the Com monwealth in designated labour for two years. After having done that, they were permitted to be absorbed into the normal population of Australia.
I speak with knowledge when I say that J know that the citizens of Brisbane who are to-day enjoying some of the modern amenities of life, such as a water supply and, to some extent - I am sorry to say only a minor extent - sewerage extensions, are indebted to the new Australians who were brought here under the scheme designed by the honorable member for Melbourne, who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to-day. These new Australians were handed over to the local authority and instructed to do certain work for two years under the direction of that authority. The citizens of Brisbane are indebted to these people for the grand work they have done.
The Labour party believes that we need more and more people in this country. We are an outpost of European civilization on the outskirts of Asia. Whilst honorable members might dispute this matter, I still claim as a fact that Australia is, geographically speaking, an Asiatic nation, but we are an Asiatic nation with a European civilization and a European culture. We have a great role to play in this peculiar position in which we find ourselves. We can do this best by increasing our population and bringing more and more of European culture and civilization to this country.
– What do you believe the average family should be?
– I would say that I am very optimistically hopeful of being able to do as well as the honorable member for Moore. Admittedly, the opportunity must present itself. We need the population. Figures prepared by the former Minister for Immigration completely refute the figures of the honorable member for Moore. They show that migrants brought into this country at the adult stage effect an enormous saving in money to the nation. They have been educated, and education, as we all know is costly to the nation. I should like to see more and more of the population of Australian birth, but let us not sneer at those who come to this country completely educated and prepared to play their part in its construction and development. In a monetary sense, anyway, they have saved the various governments of this country a . considerable expenditure. When I speak of the various governments being saved money, naturally I mean that this Commonwealth Parliament has been saved considerable expenditure, because in the expenditure of money all things come back to this Parliament. There is only one thing on which the Premiers of the various States are united. That is, in asking the Commonwealth Parliament for more money.
We want more and more immigrants, but there is a responsibility devolving on the Parliament. The Australian Labour party believes that every immigrant should be sure of a job when he arrives. No man in his senses would say that this country cannot ensure that every immigrant can be placed in useful work.
– If the right government is in office.
– Of course, there is that obstacle that the people are inflicting upon the nation. We have the wrong kind of government, which is apparently agreed that some section of the community must be unemployed. It is our party’s policy that immigrants who come here should be provided with employment. We should not bring immigrants here only to put them into migrant hostels, or see that they have a job merely for a while and then become competitors on the employment market with those Australian-born people who are out of work.
– Do they?
– Yes. We must see that those people who come here are, in their own interests, and in the interests of the rest of the Australian population, assured of employment. If that state of affairs is brought into being, I shall most wholeheartedly support a policy of continued immigration from European countries.
Whilst the Australian Labour party supports a policy of bringing more and more Britons to Australia, I should like to say a word in favour of those who come here from southern Europe. I represent an area which has in its population a very considerable number of persons who come from Greece. They are a very worthy and lawabiding section of the community, and they have played their role very well in the development of Australia. So far as Brisbane is concerned, these southern Euro peans certainly tend to congregate in the city, but nobody can point a finger at them. I refer particularly to those who come from Greece. Those who come from Italy have an outstanding monument to their credit in northern Queensland. They have played a commendable part in the development of what is possibly Australia’s second most important primary industry, namely the sugar industry, and they have been assimilated very well into the Australian community. I do not think that we should be critical of these people who have behind them very proud traditions of art, culture, and European civilization, and who are being absorbed into this nation to the great advantage of its development.
I wish to make some reference to that part of the bill that deals with the very controversial issue of the dictation test. I am very pleased that the Minister has proposed that this be eliminated. He is very concerned with the situation as it stands, and it is to his credit that he proposes that an alteration be effected. He feels that persons whom we consider to be not desirable have been humiliated in the past by having the dictation test applied to them. We all know the case of a couple of people who were asked some years as>o to recite the Lord’s Prayer in Gaelic and were unable to do so. The Department of Immigration thought that this was a complete triumph, but the High Court ruled that they were no’ to be excluded on this ground. The Minister has taken a very humane stand on this very important issue. I have in my hand a booklet which contains the history of the dictation test and the reasons for its introduction in Australia. Its origin was primarily Queensland. A situation arose there during the period of great imperialist expansion from 1870 to the close of the nineteenth century. All European nations were trying to expand their colonial empires and Great Britain was no exception. This booklet, ‘ “ Australia’s Fight for Independence and Parliamentary Democracy “, states -
The White Australia Policy was almost from the beginning a racist policy which by the 1890’s had descended to the lowest levels of racial bigot. While not a working class policy, the majority of the workers were deceived into accept.ing it. The squatters had attempted to bring in cheap Asian labour in the Forties and later. Chinese were made the scapegoats of the declining gold yield in the Fifties. Chinese were used as strike-breakers in the Sixties and Seventies and in Queensland in the Eighties and Nineties indentured South Sea Islanders, torn from their homes by “ blackbirders “, were the cheap labour on which Queensland sugar planters based a semislave plantation economy.
Those people were secured in raids by captains and crews of ships who were sent to the islands with the full approval of the Queensland Government. The natives were brought to Australia under the most horrible circumstances and were indentured to the Queensland sugar-growers. That is the basis of the successful Queensland sugar industry to-day, but, thanks to the pressure of the Australian Labour party, thi? system of semi-slave plantation economy was abolished ultimately.
However, great embarrassment was caused to the United Kingdom Government. Just before and after federation, this Commonwealth and the States were merely colonies of Great Britain and everything that happened here was subject to the veto of the British Secretary of State for the Colonies. There was a move in Australia to stop the blackbirding system, and I am proud to say that it was led by the Premier of Queensland whose name has been conferred on the electorate I represent. He was the first Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Samuel Walker Griffith. He led the movement to stop the importation of kanakas into Australia. This was repugnant to the United Kingdom. The booklet to which I have already referred contains this comment -
Britain was reluctant to agree to exclusion - that is, of all people of Asian or African birth - because it was difficult to explain in terms of her own colonial empire which contained hundreds of millions of people of the kind that Australia sought to exclude. Britain was also engaged in building an alliance with Japan designed to strengthen her own position in relation to her European imperialist rivals. Thus she refused to sanction Australian legislation to exclude all people of African and Asian origin. The hypocritical compromise reached with the new Commonwealth Government after 1901 was prohibition by the dictation test, a procedure that had already been tried out in the British colony of Natal.
This was the unjust and hypocritical test that has survived since 1901 until the present. It is to the credit of the present Minister for Immigration that provision is being made in this bill, the first he has presented to the Parliament, to abolish this false method of excluding people from Australia. The basis of the test has been that if an intending immigrant could not say the Lord’s Prayer or something else in a language completely foreign to him, he was prevented from entering the country. The Minister is prepared to act as a gentleman in the administration of his department, just as he does in private life, and is ready to inform persons in appropriate cases that they are considered to be undesirable immigrants.
There is nothing in this bill upon which we can criticize the Minister. I have spoken principally of the dictation test, and I am happy to know that a change is to be made in that connexion under the direction of the Minister.
.- I am sorry that the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) began his speech by introducing into this debate something that had been absent from it, that is, party politics. We have no desire to take from the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) any credit for the excellent job he did some years ago as Minister for Immigration by introducing a policy which led to a great flow of immigrants into Australia. But we have gone a long way since then. The immigration scheme itself has been considerably improved in the meantime. I have no doubt whatever that we will continue to improve it as the years go by. We have been very fortunate in the Ministers who have held this portfolio and administered the Department of Immigration. The right honorable member for Higgins (Mr. Harold Holt) was followed by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Townley), who preceded the present Minister, the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer). We have also been fortunate in having the present Secretary of the Department of Immigration and his assistants who have taken tremendous interest in the department and have made every effort to improve the immigration laws and the administration of the department itself.
This bill is very complex and most important, and it must give the Minister much satisfaction as it is the first bill that he has introduced to the House. It covers, in the main, immigration, deportation and emigration. Having listened to the lucid explanation of the bill that was given by the Minister some weeks ago, I have no doubt that the House will accept it without amendment. It is designed to protect more fully than ever before the rights of individuals irrespective of their country of origin. It goes even further by protecting a person while he lives- in Australia irrespective of how short a time he has been a resident.
We are all very pleased that the most important difficulty we have been up against in the last decade - the dictation test - is to be removed. It might well be described as the abominable dictation test. No one who understands it could be happy with that method of telling an immigrant whether or not he was desirable in our eyes as a citizen. We determined that by giving him a test which we knew he could not pass. I am glad to think that we have reached the stage of nationhood where we can be perfectly frank with persons who wish to enter Australia. We can tell them either that we want them or that we do not want them as citizens. The dictation test having been redundant for so long, I am surprised that legislation was not brought down before to delete it, because it has caused much friction over the years. The present system ensures that every person who enters Australia has a vis6. The shipping companies and the airline companies are very strict about vises. They do not wish to bring people to this country who do not have vises, because they know that it will be their responsibility to return those people to their country of origin if they are not accepted by Australia. I am glad that we have been able to abolish the dictation test for all time1 and to be perfectly frank as to whether we will admit people who wish to come here as immigrants.
The other important matter to which I referred was deportation. Clause 1 3 of the bill, provides that the offence that renders a migrant liable to deportation must be committed within five years after his entry into this country. That seems to be :i very reasonable and fair provision and I think the Government is doing the right thing by giving- immigrants a- reasonable time to become acclimatized, and by providing that they cannot be deported after five years.
Another important provision of the bill, which I feel sure will meet with the approval of everybody in the community, is that relating to the emigration of children. lt provides more adequate means for parents to ensure that children who are in. their custody by reason of court orders, or. whose custody they are seeking, are not taken out of the country without proper consent of the courts or of the parents in question.
This bill does not in any way affect the overall! policy of immigration, which: has been operating satisfactorily for the lasttwelve years or so. To their credit, both this Government and the previous government kept in mind the prime purpose of the immigration programme, which was to populate Australia as quickly as possible with the. most suitable type of citizen avails able. The criticism that has been levelled at our immigration policy falls, I think, into two categories. It has been said very vehemently recently that our intake has been beyond our ability to assimilate. This aspect was referred to by the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts); and has been referred to by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) on several occasions from’ public platforms. The Leader of the Opposition wishes materially to cut down our intake of immigrants.
The second type of criticism is that the percentage of British migrants is too low. I think that a general word or two at this stage might not go amiss, because since this bill’ was introduced a few weeks ago, an economic survey was published under the title of Australian Economy, 1958. The publication- is generally referred to as the White Paper. This report pointed out that during, the last eight years the proportion, of- Australian resources devoted to investments in this country was extremely high. In fact, we have the highest rate in the. world. Twenty-five per cent, of our total annual’ resources are. invested in this country. In this period the population grew from 8,300,000 to 9,700,000, an increase of 17 per. cent. Most of this increase can be attributed to immigration - about L,000;000 migrants- have come to this country in that time. But the important thing to remember is that the proportion of resources to investments would not have increased to such an extent had not the men and women who carnie to this country brought new skills and new aptitudes with them. It is because of their skill- and their ability that we have been able to make such a considerable improvement over the last eight years. This improvement has been referred to often by financial writers and. was referred to in. the White Paper. Immigrants have increased the national output of our basic industries and have helped considerably to build major projects that might otherwise never have been undertaken.
One such project that immediately springs to mind is the Snowy Mountains scheme, which would never have been carried out so successfully had it not been for the flow of immigrants into this country, bringing with them new skills and new aptitudes. The White Paper goes on to refer to the importance of sustaining this rate of growth by referring to the fact of which we are alii well aware but too often forget - that immigrants make up a large proportion of those people working in the iron and steel and building materials industries. When we look at the growth and progress that has been made in the iron and steel industry, particularly in New South Wales and to a lesser extent in the industries in Victoria related to iron and steel, we realize that they would never have been so rapid had it not been for the immigrants who came to this country. The building materials industry is an important industry, and one that has made tremendous progress because of the immigrants, working in the industry. It is very important to remember also that in a progressive community such as ours, labour, for various reasons, tends to move away from such occupations. Unless that labour is continually replaced, large sections of production would be slowed down. Workers in a particular industry find from time to time, particularly in this country, that the industry has become monotonous to them. They drift away, and unless we are able- to replace that loss of labour there is a considerable falling off in production in the industry. The building industry is particularly noted for that. The brick industry, which is associated with the building industry, and the lime and cement industry, are difficult industries in which to work. If we had not been able to replace the labour that moved out of those industries, they would not have been able to progress in the way they have.
Experience has proved that each migrant has something to offer. The last ten years have shown that migrants have filled gaps in our strategic industries which otherwise would not have been filled. They have averted and can continue to avert critical shortages, of key materials and delays in construction. Without them, secondary industries would not have made the progress that they have been making in the last ten years. Even, if we were to experience some recession; as has been forecast from time to time by honorable members opposite, and were not able to have jobs waiting for immigrants who come to this country, I think the immigration machinery is so well oiled that it would not be difficult to halt immigration as required. I think that the machinery of the department is sufficiently flexible to allow it to operate reasonably quickly.
From time to time, it has been said thai the percentage of British migrants is too low. I am sure that that will always be said’, whatever the percentage may be. The blood relationship between this country and the United Kingdom is such that we will always say that the percentage of British migrants to Australia should be greater than it is. The United Kingdom has its own problems, and I believe that our problem for the future is how to obtain suitable immigrants from the United Kingdom and Europe. The United Kingdom Government quite obviously does not want to reduce its labour force by migration. How do we obtain great numbers of migrants from Great Britain when, even in the immediate post-war period, residents were not overenthusiastic about migrating to Australia? A public poll in 1948 showed that 46 per cent, of the persons interviewed said that they would like to settle in Australia, if they were free to come.
The phrase “ if they were free to come “ requires analysing. I had the opportunity two years ago of being in the United Kingdom, and I desired to bring a number of migrants to this country. I found the question “ if they were free to come “ particularly interesting. Prospective immigrants had all sorts of difficulties. One of the greatest of their difficulties was breaking off their associations with their families. They were reluctant to leave part of their family to come to Australia because blood relationship and family ties are very strong. A gallup poll held only a few years ago in the United Kingdom showed that a very small percentage of people desired to migrate to Australia.
It would be interesting to hear the Minister’s views on how to get greater numbers of suitable migrants from Europe, as well as from England. My correspondents in the United Kingdom tell me that the difficulty of getting suitable migrants from Europe will be greater in the future than it ever has been. The common market and free trade agreements in Europe will slow down migration to Australia in the future. Consequently, our intake of migrants could well be decided for us by these agreements and the prosperity that is developing in some parts of Europe to-day. I believe that it will be quite a battle to get a really good type of migrant to come from Europe to Australia.
One factor of which we must not lose sight is that Australia is rich in some national resources though by no means in all. We have built up capital facilities that have served most of our requirements in the eastern States. But what about the north of Queensland and the western part of the continent? We badly need people in those areas. The more one travels through them the more one realizes the opportunities that exist for European settlers to make good in some outback areas. The faster we can settle new populations there, the sooner we shall become better balanced, more prosperous and, indeed, more secure. After all, security is one of the principal reasons for increasing our population and we cannot afford to go on ignoring these strategic areas. This is an important national question. It cannot be relegated to the cupboard, as it has been in the past. I think the Minister will be performing a great job if he has a good look at this great weakness in the distribution of our immigrant population.
This bill will do much to remove unpleasant anomalies that have existed in our immigration laws, and it will do much to strengthen better relations with immigrants to this country and with European countries. I am sure that the bill, when it becomes law, will be administered with the same efficiency and with the same feeling for people as the immigration laws have been administered in the past. We are dealing with human beings, and that is the most important aspect of immigration. If we give thought to that in the administration of these laws, we will achieve our objective of increasing our population with the right type of immigrant.
.- The changes wrought in this bill are extensive. Many honorable members have taken the opportunity to traverse immigration as a subject for debate and to voice their opinions about the changes and the various incidents of immigration. Many have spent their time in praising the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer). With a controversial subject such as immigration, the best line is to have a point of view. I know that the honorable member for Angas, in a wavy-haired sense, will be a terrifically good Minister. I know that he will do whatever he can to further what is to him the cause of immigration, but I want to put him on the spot as far as I can on the future developments of immigration and to traverse, if I may, some of the mistakes made in the past.
I remind honorable members that as far back as 1945, I was the leader of a survey and a fact-finding team that went into Europe just after the liberation to ascertain just where the people were who were prepared to come to this country. This is important, for the reason that it did show in those days the people of a free and adventurous turn of mind who wanted to come to this country and the people who saw no future in a Europe that had been through another devastating war and who had turned their eyes definitely to Australia.
In places such as Norway, thousands of young members associated with universities had organized themselves in immigratten clubben long before we came there, as members of the delegation will remember, to try to form an organization to encourage people to migrate to Australia. Members of this organization were shipbuilders, farmers, dairymen, and commandos who had belonged to the underground. They were the salt of the earth. The Norwegian is a terrific man. He is the old viking; he is the old Norseman. He would be a great acquisition to this country because he is tough and, because part of his country is in the Arctic tundra, he knows how to live tough and to survive.
All of these people were lost to us because of politics. Although a socialist government was in the saddle at the time and we made representations, Norwegians were practically prohibited from leaving their country. There were only 3,000,000 Norwegians and, because of the devastation wrought by the Nazis and the Quislings, it was necessary that every able-bodied man remain in Norway. A similar situation obtained in Sweden, in Holland and in Denmark. In Switzerland, our hotel was invaded day and night by people prepared to come to this country. We lost them all. We tried to damp down this definite migratory upsurge. It was not a case of being out of work; it was a case of thinking differently, of changing the whole tenor of their lives, and of wanting to live somewhere else. They had had enough of war-stricken Europe. They were, to my mind, and to the minds of members of the exploratory committee, the salt of Europe; but we did not get many of them for the simple reason that their governments would not allow them to come here. Later, we tried again but, with the notable exception of the Dutch, we have not been able to get many of these very fine migrants.
The emphasis of the honorable member for Melbourne, who was then Minister for Immigration, was on northern Europeans, not on any ground of racial superiority, but because of the ease with which they could be assimilated. The number one priority was given to the British migrant because he did not need to be assimilated at all. In his father’s house there are many mansions; and in the Empire as it was then, the British Commonwealth of Nations to-day, he moved from the metropolitan dominion of Britain itself to Australia without very great difficulty. The basis of our migration plan was the northern European, because of his assimilability, and also because in those days we had not negotiated a peace treaty with Italy and the Germans were still our enemies. In 1945, we were naturally looking at the subject fairly and squarely in the face, and we were within just a touch of getting many magnificent people from Europe who, however, did not come here because of circumstances and prohibitions in their countries in those days; and we lost many British migrants to Canada and other countries because we did not move fast enough.
But all of these things have gone a long time since and, basically, the problem which remains for the Minister is that we must not desert the principle of British migration. The discussions and decisions of the Australian Labour party, particularly at its Brisbane conference and other conferences, have been that because of the attitude and the breakdown of Menzies Government migration, we believe that there should be a curtailment in migration and that in the remaining opportunities the preponderance should be overwhelmingly in favour of the British. That still remains our policy; we get back to the original basis. I think that everybody realizes that, including the Minister. He is an extremely patriotic young man with a natural feeling for the British people. He was educated in Britain. It may be said that he is an English young man with an Australian birthright. I do not say that in any derogatory sense. I think we can safely leave to him, so far as he can do it, the question of the migration of British people.
But I think that in the early days we fell into many grave errors. There was the error of being so’ naive. Also we were so remote from European affairs. Our first migrants delighted us with poker-work cushions and folk dancing outside the Albert Hall here in Canberra, but for all their effect I have never been able to understand why we organized those conventions, which I was called upon to attend both by instructions from my party and at my own wish, or what we got out of them. We should have had a much more serious approach to immigration. It appeared that the novelty of these people coming or wanting to come from other countries completely captured newspaper editors, members of this Parliament and successive Ministers for Immigration. And while this was going on we were subject to a great deal of exploitation. This applied to the Labour government as well as to the government which succeeded it. In the early days a lot of bad screening took place, and it is still taking place.
If you want to gauge the future of a migrant in this country you have to take some notice of his adventurous spirit. But should you rule him out because a political bias is applied against him? No matter what the Minister says, we have evidence that this does happen. Bureaucracy decides that it knows more than the ministerial edict. Recently, two Polish migrants told me that when they attempted to come to this country they were asked what their politics Were. They replied, “We are socialists”. The screening officer said, “We just call them Comms. in our country “. They brought that story to me as fact. For them the whole excitement of coming to this country was broken down by the attitude of that screening officer.
I did not rise to take a long time in discussing this bill. The debate is now moving towards its close, but there are points which we must validly hold in regard to immigration. The first is that although I have no distaste whatsoever for the southern European, I prefer the northern European only for the reason that he is more readily assimilable into British communities and is more used to the democratic processes as we have practised them. The Italian and the southern European in many cases make magnificent citizens, and good luck to them, but we ought to be able to say what proportion of them we will take into this country and make no apologies about it.
What would anybody have said if, in 1945, after Europe had emerged from a war which had almost destroyed the fabric of democracy, it could have been suggested to British people that within ten years the great bulk of their immigrants came from enemy countries? Would they have believed it if some one had said that the German as a worker and a technician had become almost a priority and that Italian migrants from Mussolini’s Italy were streaming into this country? That would have been inconceivable; but the answer is that the desire to live in peace should, with certain concessions, be met, and, having made those concessions, we should not be ashamed to voice our preference for British people and say that we believe there ought to be a proper balance. No member of the Australian Labour party is, and never can be, antagonistic to a worker coming from another country for the purpose of getting a job, but he commits no desecration of his belief in the universality of man’s desire for work and to earn a living by saying that he prefers certain groups. The Labour party will hot deny that he has a right to voice these opinions.
So, we find that first of all we were naive. Secondly, our migration screenings were bad; and thirdly, we believe that in some cases our health screenings were bad. I think that many of these things have been caught up with. I have nothing but the deepest and highest praise for Mr. Heyes, the Secretary of the Department of Immigration. He is an inspired and trustworthy public servant. He is a personal friend of mine, and to decorate that statement would be to embarrass him and myself. But when I say these things I say them from the point of view of a member interested in this problem and not with any party political significance.
We missed the cream, in some cases, in the early days because we followed, willynilly, a plan of availabilities. We have not been as tough as we should be in getting people from Britain and elsewhere. The classic exception is that we have done well with Dutch people. We could do well with Scandinavians if we applied ourselves in that quarter, and their time may come. But turning from where we could get these migrants our claim is that the whole plan has been a pell-mell, willy-nilly thing because it has not been geared to the availability of employment.
One day we shall really wake up with a terrific shock and find that we have a permanent group of unemployed people simply because we have let too many people think they can come into this country and get jobs which are not available. It is nobody’s fault that the present unemployment situation has developed. The man out of work is not prepared to tell the world that he is unemployed. He will not go to the registry office or tell his next-door neighbour that he is out of work, because he has been used to the fact that he could get a job and if he did not like it he could go elsewhere and get other employment. But to-day he is out of work and finds it difficult to obtain fresh employment. He has become a problem to himself and the community.
I think I would be supported by statistics, if they were fully investigated, in saying that we have well over 150,000 unemployed in this country. Surely, we should heed the blunt warning of this underground unassessable unemployed. If we are unable to absorb these people and they live on their own fat, as it were, for the time being, the day will come eventually when they will bt forced on to the labour market, and the Statistics of the labour bureaux will then clearly show that we have an unemployed problem of a size that we did not realize existed. We may have an underground reservoir of unemployed. Its extent might be extremely difficult to assess; yet it could be there, and it will be extremely dangerous when it becomes discoverable and comes to the surface.
In the circumstances we see nothing subversive of a proper, planned immigration scheme in saying to the Government, “ Not so many; not your 100,000; break it down to one third; break it down to X figure, whatever you have decided upon, and keep it on a measurable, reduced basis until you find our absorptive capacity “. Let’s face it: What we have promised the immigrants is a home and a job. We cannot give them homes; they must share ours. At present we can give them jobs, but soon we might not be able to do so. While the pious people in the community, the great advocates of immigration, the do-gooders and those in the higher income brackets, are always enthusiastic supporters of the immigration policy, I remind honorable members that they do not share their job opportunities or their housing with the newcomers. If you want to find out the truth and the genuine feeling about immigration, you must go to the worker who does share his job and his limited housing with the newcomer. You will find that the worker is complaining bitterly, that he feels that immigration is reaching saturation point.
Both sides of the House should get together and do something about the immigration problem, so that it will not become overbearing simply because someone is pigheaded enough to say, “ Think of a number and then stick to it “, no matter whether it is reasonable, factual or can be worked out by statistics. The current figure for the projected migrant intake, 115,000 or whatever it is, is eminently reducible, and it is reducible in a logical way. In the planning of immigration - and the original planning came from this side of the House - we never said that ‘there was to be a fixed, immutable figure. We believed that it had to be flexible. The Australian Labour party, when formulating the only vast immigration policy ever brought to successful planning and pursuit in this country, believed that the programme depended on the jobs that could be had and on the development of the country. Surely, behind the ordinary plan of immigration, there is a land plan, and there is a plan of development that does not envisage crowding people into our secondary industries. After all, we are a rural community, but we have not yet discharged our obligation to our ex-servicemen with regard to the land. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is alleged to have said something on the air about doing something about the land. I support him entirely.. Sooner or later we shall have to ensure that the vast unsettled and undeveloped areas are turned to appropriate use, by new Australians and old Australians, for the continued development of the country.
– Nationalization nothing! I say we must look to the land that is held but is not properly producing. If we do not, we make a mockery of immigration. It means that we are simply moving men from one kind of poverty to another. You perhaps think that is heroic and good policy; I think it is contemptible. If you have not a job for an immigrant you should not bring him here. If you have not a country that can be developed, you should not bring him here. What sort of a dusty answer do you give to these people if you have not got available for them the opportunities that you promised through Australia House and other centres? If you do not plan properly, as I have suggested, then the policy is only a biological gamble in numbers. You say, “ Give me immigrants and I will squeeze them into a situation in which they may get by or they may not get by. In any case we will have the numbers “. Surely if you look for numbers and not quality of numbers you are merely defeating yourself. The numerically strong countries of the world are the weakest in defence. They are the weakest in development in many cases. They are the Asian countries. Mere numbers are nothing. It is the quality of the numbers and the quality of our immigration planning that should be considered.
I believe the solution is to reduce the numbers to the figure represented by absorptive capacity. The Government should hot -be stiff-necked about it. The
Minister must get on top of his bureaucracy, because departmental officers are likely to tell him that certain things are so. He should find out for himself. I think he is strong enough to do it, and if he does he will be doing a great job for the Australian community. 1 believe, too, that we can get more British immigrants. I think Australia House wants a good shaking up. Sir Eric Harrison should put on his bowyangs and forget his knee breeches. He might then do a better job. The Government should stir up somebody to do these things because the price of success is Australia and its development. Even if you hurt the feelings of a few people temporarily, in the long run you will be doing a massive job for this country. Although it has been criticized1 in many directions, the Australian Labour party feels that it is quite valid to say to the Government, “ Your immigration policy is top-heavy because your numbers are too great. We cannot absorb them. You will get the horrible answer in twelve months’ time if you persist in this way “.
We believe the Government is flooding into the country streams of immigrants who are not properly checked in all cases, and who cannot be properly checked. In the past we did the same thing. We are making no great protest about this, but we say now that British workers should have a chance of coming here, and of coming here in greater numbers. The answer we get to this suggestion from the Government, and even from some British protagonists, is, “ But what about Britain? She needs her technicians and man-power “. In answer to that, let me suggest that the Government should look at the waiting list at Australia House, and ask itself, “ Who cares? “ Some of those on the waiting list have been unemployed. Some have been in the Royal Air Force, some in the Navy. Some have been given a bowler hat by the Army as a result of the reduction programme being carried out by that arm of the Services. They all want to get out of England. They have to go to Canada or to Kenya. The honorable member for Hume (Mr.Anderson) came from Kenya, but I would rather that the immigrants come to Australia than go to Kenya, despite the fact that the honorable member came from Kenya to Australia and to us in this House.
– The honorable member should be very grateful that the honorable member for Hume came here.
– He protected us in some measure, I know. I was merely teasing him. The point I make in conclusion is that immigration can become a sort of happy holiday. We can have a kind of hearts and flowers debate - “ I love the Minister, he loves me. Mr. Heyes is a very charming man. Everything in the garden is lovely. When do I get my permit? “ - that kind of thing. I do not want it that way, although I must say that I have had, in all directions, service from all Ministers. However, as one of those who helped to pioneer this plan, I want to bring the matter back to first causes. We must look for the very best people for this country. It is of no use for the Minister to have an inquiry into the incidence of crime in this country - now happily diminished - and to say that the immigrants have not as high a rate of crime as the Australians. Of course, that is an extraordinarily foolish statement, because the categories were not defined, and at the time in question we were having serious and aggravated trouble, because many murders and crimes of first degree were being perpetrated by immigrants.
– The honorable member’s information probably comes from newspaper reports.
– As the Minister has said, the reports can be exaggerated. T remember, as a young man, reading in the responsible newspapers of the day, “ Returned soldier beats his wife “. Such a method of presentation became unpopular later, and the reports merely said, “ Bill Smith beats his wife “. We journalists know what happens in such cases.
Let me return to my theme before I conclude. The essence of an immigration policy is to get the best, and to ride the punches that come as a result of things that go wrong. But we must have a basis of worth-while immigrants, and we must get British immigrants. After all, Britain is the root and stem of our family, and British immigrants are available. But you will destroy the essence of immigration and of future planning if. you stupidly stick to numbers instead of planning to absorb the numbers when they come here. What is involved? The young child is involved; housing is involved, and the awful periods during which British people have to live in hostels. I remind the Minister, by a happy slogan which he enjoyed, that an Englishman’s home is definitely not his hostel. When you put him in a hostel he will fight like hell to get out of it. That is the kind of immigrant we want. He does not want to settle down in a hostel because the accommodation is available for cheap rent; he wants to get out, to earn and own and belong. Those British immigrants are of the essence of the contract so far as our immigration programme is concerned.
The Labour party once again warns the Government. It is not just propaganda when we say, “ Your numbers are excessive. Your screening is suspect in some instances, and your obsession with numbers, and with numbers for projects close to the city, and occasionally a big scheme like the Snowy Mountains scheme, which will peter out, is having a very damaging effect “. The Government has no plan to absorb these peasants - as most of them are - into some form of rural activity. I do not mean the kind of plan that was suggested here some years ago by one section. You must go very much deeper than that. This is a big problem. The immigration programme has a great future, and it would be a pity if the immigration policy drew the criticism, and eventually the ban, of the Australian Labour party because we found that it was bringing into Australia men and women who could not find work, who could not find homes or opportunities for assimilation. Therefore, the strictures uttered in Brisbane on the immigration programme still hold valid, in our view, and we say that you must reduce your numbers and work cooperatively to see that those who come here get jobs and houses. The immigration plan will then, as it originally started out, be a useful thing for the Australian people and for the people of the overcrowded parts of the world who come here to share living standards that are among the highest in the world.
.- I had no intention of rising in this debate until the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) delivered the last few minutes of his speech. When this debate opened some weeks ago, one or two members of the Opposition indicated that they would have no opposition to the general aspects of the immigration programme. To-day, because an election is drawing near, most members of the Opposition have endeavoured to get on the band waggon of immigration in continuing the debate. For instance, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) tried to claim for the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) the full credit for the development of post-war immigration.
The honorable member for Griffith overlooks the fact that, at the last citizenship convention in Canberra in January, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) disclaimed any credit whatever for that section of the immigration programme which followed the bringing of the first 200,000 displaced persons into this country because at that time the Australian Labour party was following exactly the line of argument followed by the honorable member for Parkes this evening. That line of argument, first of all, was that there should be a curtailment of immigration. I was interested to listen to the honorable member for Parkes because he suggested that we should cut by one-third the number of immigrants who are coming here at the present time. It is interesting that the Labour party should indicate its policy in this regard.
There was a period when the number of immigrants admitted to Australia in one year was cut down to 70,000 or 80,000; when, in the next year, or the year after, it was raised to 182,000; and when, in the following year, it was again about 100,000. How is it possible to plan the economy and development of this country without having some idea of how many people will come here year by year?
There are two purposes of immigration: One purpose is to increase the work force; the other purpose is to increase the number of people who are dependent on the work force and who are part of the consuming section of the community. T believe that both these purposes are essential in immigration. Whilst we desire to have stability in our intake, it is essential that we should not disturb governments overseas. Let us not overlook the fact that a good deal of immigration planning is done in conjunction with the governments of Europe and the immigrants themselves.
Any one listening to- the- honorable member for Parkes would gain the impression that it is very easy for Australia to get immigrants - that we have only to provide a ship and they will be here to pick up the jobs we offer them. Nothing is further from the truth under the present circumstances. If honorable members look at what we set out to do in planning immigration, year by year, and at the numbers who have come here year by year, they will see that there have been fluctuations between the numbers that we anticipated would come to the country and the number who actually came by the end of a particular year. It is a problem, all the time, of trying to pick up a short-fall from one country with numbers from another country.
So, in relation to this problem of immigration, I believe that stability is an absolute essential. I do not consider it a contradiction in terms to speak of “ stability “, on the one hand, and of “ flexibility “, on the other hand. It is necessary to have flexibility to enable us, in planning immigration, to make an adjustment between the worker intake and the dependent intake. In the past, members of the Opposition have criticized the immigration programme and have opposed an unbalance between the two sections that I have mentioned. Surely, at times such as the present, when industry has been geared to produce certain quantities of goods, it is the desire of every honorable member to have those goods consumed by the public. Consequently, we want an increase, from natural causes and from’ immigration, not only of workers, but also- of consumers.
In a period such as the present when- there is what might be called some slight tightness in the economy it is desirable to bring in more dependants - more fiances, wives and other people who will assist to overcome the problem of the unbalance of the sexes. This is a real essential. In this way we are building Australia’s population. We are ensuring a stable basis of actual intake. We are making our adjustments so that we bring in people who can be absorbed into the work force and who are, at the same time, needed to consume goods.
– How do you set our target?
– I set the target on the basis of a very serious consideration of all the aspects associated with the economy of this country. The planning goes back, particularly in relation to the planning council, to- the days of 1949 when the present honorable member for Melbourne and’ Mr. Chifley realized that something of this nature was desirable. They set up animmigration planning council for the purpose, particularly, of studying the economic aspect and to recommend to the Government, year by year, the number of immigrants that should be brought here.
The honorable member for Parkes has made some comments- in relation to the British intake. Of course, he said that immigration should be curtailed and that the preponderance of the balance should be British people. I presume that the balance to which he referred would- be represented by two-thirds of 115,000. Nobody on this side of the House opposes the practice of British people coming to Australia. But at the last Australian Citizenship Convention no less a person than Professor Borrie indicated quite clearly that, in his opinion, it was not possible to bring in a large number of British people. I think that Professor Borrie appreciates that many whitecollar workers in the old country are prepared to come to Australia.. But since Australia can itself provide all the whitecollar workers it wants, do we want more of them to- add to the unemployment about which the Labour party talks? I ask the members of the Labour party that very deliberate question. Do they want whitecollar workers to add to the unemployed section- of the community?
– We want rural .workers.
– The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) says that they want rural workers. Everybody understands quite clearly that, because of the subsidies paid by the British. Government in relation to alt forms of farm produce, there is not a rural worker in the Old Country who believes that he would be better off in Australia than if he stayed in the Old Country. It is almost impossible to find rural workers in the Old Country who are willing to come to Australia. If we exclude rural workers as an impossibility, and if we exclude white-collar workers because we can provide enough from our own population, we are limited to a- much smaller section of the British community from which io get our intake.
There are other problems also. There is a shipping problem associated with the bringing of British migrants to Australia. Since World War II, the Department of Immigration has taken every berth available on ships coming here from the Old Country for the purpose of bringing out British migrants. But the available berths have not been sufficient to provide for the number of British migrants that the Government desires to bring to this country and, only recently, it has undertaken the charter - on the outward voyage at least - of three vessels for the sole purpose of bringing British migrants to Australia. I appreciate, Sir, that we come up against some difficulty in relation to fares. Not only freights, but also fares, have risen in recent years. The Government has tried to meet this situation of increased fares by adding to the numbers and- maintaining costs at the lowest possible level by chartering these vessels especially for the purpose of bringing British migrants to- Australia.
I should like to point out that, in spite of these, difficulties, in the year ended 30th June last, British migrants represented not less than- 51 per cent, of the total intake. That is a very commendable proportion of British migrants. I suggest that no member of the Australian Labour party and no Australian who thinks in terms of a preponderance of British people, and who realizes the difficulties, will consider that 51 per cent, of the intake- is too low a percentage of British migrants.
– Will the honorable member agree that, at times, the proportion of British migrants- was down to 22 per cent, and 30 per cent? A proportion of 51 per cent, is very good. If the proportion were 60 per cent., we should like it better.
– There is always confusion over the net intake of British people from migration, due to a problem related to the method’ of presenting the statistics. Every Australian going overseas who indicates that he will remain away for more than twelve months, and who returns within twelve months, represents a- deduction from the figure for the British intake on his departure; but is not added to the figure for the British intake on his return. There are more and- more young Australians - and older ones too, for that matter - going overseas year by year, and the number returning each year does not balance the number going overseas. I repeat that all those who indicate that they will be away for more than twelve months are deducted from the gross figure for the British intake. Fortunately, Sir, we have been able to get the Commonwealth. Statistician to see the difficulties that this involves and, in future, he will present a different table of figures in relation to the British intake, which, I believe, will give a much more satisfactory indication of the real position.
The honorable member for Parkes has talked of southern Europeans, and northern Europeans, particularly people from the Scandinavian countries. I believe that certain people from southern Europe can meet a tremendous need in this country. I come from Queensland, the State which has a very important sugar industry worth approximately £26,000,000 per annum. The Queensland cane crop would not be harvested if it were left to northern Europeans, or British, or Australian people. The only people willing to harvest the cane are southern Europeans. In recent weeks, we have brought in 150 Spaniards to work in the cane-fields, and, in recent years, we have brought in whole shiploads of southern Europeans especially for the purpose of harvesting the Queensland cane crop. I do not intend1 to allow the honorable member for Parkes to make- disparaging comments about southern Europeans with impunity, because those people, together with other Europeans, have an important part to play in the development of Australia in present circumstances.
We all know, Sir - and have known for a long time - that people from the Scandinavian countries are highly desirable migrants, and they, with other people from northern Europe, can make a substantial contribution to Australia’s development. In recent months, we have been very active in promoting the migration to Australia of Scandinavians, and it is hoped that we shall receive, I think, approximately 5,000 Scandinavian migrants in the current financial year. I should like to emphasize the fact that the current migration programme is a planned one. The honorable member for Parkes said that we were bringing in migrants pell-mell’ or willy-nilly. But that is not the case at all. The programme has been planned, having regard to Australia’s economic circumstances and the ability of the Department of Immigration to obtain migrants in the various European countries, keeping in mind the economic conditions of Europe itself.
Members of the Australian Labour party have criticized the migration programme without presenting any real evidence to support their criticism. We have heard from them comments about political bias and bad screening. We heard from the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) this afternoon a very unfortunate reflection on the department. He said that he had been informed by the department that it had received from the security service some document in relation to screening. I suggest that one should have very definite reservations about a statement such as that emanating from the honorable member for Hindmarsh. He has not made out a real case based on facts submitted to the House. He has simply made a broad assertion without any proof, which is intended to create a certain impression in the public mind. I resist these suggestions of political screening of intending migrants. I will stand in the forefront of those who object to the bringing of Communists to this country. If screening to prevent the entry of Communists represents the political screening to which members of the Australian Labour party object, I disagree with them entirely. I object to the entry of Communists, from any stand-point; Apart from this the politics and the religion of intending migrants are not taken into consideration by the selection officers in the various European countries. I hope that that principle will always be followed.
I trust that my remarks have been able to correct some of the wrong impressions that the honorable member for Parkes endeavoured to leave in the minds of those who heard him. I was a little surprised at his statement that the United Kingdom migrant does not require assimilation. Nothing could be further from the truth than that observation, Sir. Are we to take the view that because a person comes from the old country, and speaks our language, he has no problems? I submit that his arrival in Australia is not the end of his problem in any circumstances. These people have come from a small country with a very large population to a very largecountry with a very small population. Many of them are asked to go, in the first place, to towns in country areas where they are,, perhaps, 6, 15 or 20 miles away from a real township. To suggest that they find conditions similar to those which they experienced overseas is plainly ridiculous. I suggest that there is an opportunity for a good deal of work to be done, and I ask for understanding by the Australian people of the changed circumstances that confront these British people. ‘ We should do our level best to ensure that they feel amongst Australians a friendship that arouses in them a desire to stay in this country.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 6 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 7 (Cancellation, expiration and renewal of temporary entry permits).
– If I may say so now, the Government proposes nine amendments to this bill. Two of them are purely of a drafting nature. Seven of them are principally of a machinery nature, and I think that when honorable members see them they will agree that they do not impinge upon any matters of policy. The first of these proposed amendments is to clause 7. I move -
At the end of clause 7, add the following subclause: - “ (5.) An authorized officer may require a person who is a prohibited immigrant by virtue of sub-section (3.) of this section to leave Australia within the time specified by the authorized officer, and that person shall comply with the requirement.
Penalty for any contravention of this subsection: Two hundred pounds or imprisonment for three months.”.
In a very brief explanation of this amendment, may I say that it quite frequently happens that a person admitted for a temporary purpose only refuses to leave when his permitted stay has ended. There has been already fairly wide experience of that. If the person is not eligible under immigration policy to stay, the Minister of the day is faced with only one course of action, which is to deport, him. This obviously involves, or could involve, considerable expense and effort on the part of every one except the person proposed to be deported and from whom, of course, the cost of deportation cannot be recouped.
What we now propose in this amendment will, in effect, give such people a strong incentive to leave without the necessity for bringing in this cumbrous and distasteful process of deportation. If he still refuses, the fine imposed will recoup to the Commonwealth the expense of any subsequent deportation that may be necessary. The final alternative of a prison sentence is, of course, necessary to meet cases where a visitor who proves obdurate claims that he has not sufficient funds to meet a fine. I think the committee will agree with me that this is a very sensible provision that we seek to insert. As I said before, it is purely of a machinery nature, and I commend it to the committee for its approval.
– Clause 7 deals with the cancellation, expiration and renewal of temporary entry permits. Apparently, the proposed additional sub-clause is to operate in the case of a person who has a temporary entry permit which has either expired or been cancelled. The Opposition, as far as it can possibly do so, is anxious to make this measure complete. We would rather see amendments effected now, so as to enable the measure to become as near perfect as possible, than for the bill to be passed without what are apparently very necessary amendments made to it. Therefore, we raise no objections to this amendment.
As far as I can see, the effect of the amendment will be that on a certain date a person who holds a temporary entry permit that has either expired or been cancelled will be requested to depart from Australia within the time specified in the order by the authorized officer. If he does not do that, he will be subject to a penalty not exceeding, I presume, £200, or imprisonment for three months. As far as I know, that is intended to be the maximum penalty. The magistrate may impose a fine of a lesser amount or, if sending a man to gaol, he may fix a shorter period than three months. Three months would be the maximum period of imprisonment and £200 would be the maximum amount of a fine. This seems to me to be a reasonable provision in connexion with temporary entry permits and, as I said before, the Opposition raises no objection.
– Usually, when amendments of this kind are moved, copies are circulated to honorable members. 1 have not received a copy of this amendment, and consequently I do not know the text of it. I do not think that honorable members should be asked to vote on any amendment that has not been circulated for their perusal.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, copies of the amendment are available, and I have given instructions for them to be circulated.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 8 - (1.) Nothing in this Part applies in relation to the entry into Australia of an immigrant being -
– I move -
In clause 8, sub-clause (1.), omit “ this Part “, insert “ this Division “.
As I have already stated, this amendment is purely of a drafting nature. I regret to say that this correction was inadvertently omitted when the bill was first introduced to the Parliament. By way of explanation to the committee, I would say that clause 8 was designed, as honorable members will see, to exempt certain classes of persons from the need to secure entry permits on arrival as required generally by earlier provisions of the same division. The exempted classes are members of the armed forces of the Crown, diplomatic, consular and trade representatives of other countries and crews of vessels.
There was no intention that these persons should be completely exempted from all the deportation provisions of Division II. of the same part of the bill. The intention was that they should be exempted only from the threat of deportation based solely on the lack of an entry permit. The use of the word “ division “ in place of “ part “ in clause 8, sub-clause (1.) will avoid a danger that the persons exempted from entry permit requirements of Division I. will also be exempted from deportation under Division II. The proposal we put forward, Mr. Chairman, is self-evident, I believe. As I said earlier, it is purely of a drafting nature, and I am certain the bill will be improved if the committee consents to its inclusion.
– I do not wish to speak to the amendment but to refer to the crews of vessels in relation to this bill. We who live on the seaboard of Australia often have brought to our attention cases of members of crews of vessels who have left their ships for one reason or another. In some cases, the men genuinely object to the treatment they have received. They might remain in Australia for a long time and then, when they are discovered, action is taken to deport them. Many cases have been brought to my attention involving men of high repute who were working and proving themselves desirable members of the community. The trade unions have accepted them, but action has been taken to deport them after they have been in Australia for months and their ships have sailed.
Will the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) inform the committee on the position of such men under this legislation? Does the bill alter the provisions concerning those men? Not all of them are aliens; I know of cases involving British seamen against whom strict action has been taken. When I took this matter up some years ago, the attitude was that it was not in the interests of our shipping for men to be allowed to desert and remain in Australia. I know that difficulties have occurred in obtaining sufficient men to man vessels in such circumstances, and sometimes the ships could not be worked; but I think the position is different now. Can the Minister give us any information about the law as it will be applied to deserters from ships?
– Prima facie, what the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) has said would have some appeal, and I sympathize with him in the point of view that he has advanced. Undoubtedly, we could get many desirable citizens - men with a spirit of enterprise and fine characteristics who .are seeing Australia for the first time and would like to desert from their ships - =if we were prepared to allow them to remain.
– These are not hypothetical cases; they are real.
– In my relatively short time as Minister, I have had to deal with quite a number of them myself, but when you advance every argument you can think of in favour of the deserter and allowing him to remain, I suggest that you have to look at the problem in relation to the overall immigration policy of Australia. If you are going to let it be known that you will not take action against deserters, you will encourage that very process. The word will be spread around, not only in one shipping company but throughout the crews of every line trading to Australia. The Government would soon receive the most widespread protests from all shipping companies, quite apart from any other disadvantage accruing therefrom. I should think that there is a strong need to proclaim our policy to deter this sort of practice from becoming general.
– The bill will preserve the position as it is now?
– Yes. There is no substantial change in this provision, but I am trying to explain the reasons for it. In my own time as a private member of the Parliament, I was attracted by this sort of argument. I think one can look at it correctly only if one tries to envisage Australia’s immigration policy in terms of being a balanced1 and most carefully planned programme. If you are, in effect, going to underwrite the whole business of desertion and wink an eye at it, so to speak, you will do something to undermine that policy and throw it into imbalance. Therefore, by enforcing the present system of dealing with deserters, we may lose some desirable types of immigrants, it is true, but looking at the matter in its totality, it is wiser to adhere to the present policy and continue in the actions we have taken in the past.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Where an immigrant who is the holder of an entry permit leaves Australia, the entry permit has no force or effect in relation to him upon or after his re-entry into Australia.
, - I move -
Ar the end of clause. 9, add the following subclause: - “ (2.) The last preceding sub-section does not apply in relation to a temporary entry permit upon or after a re-entry of the holder into Australia after having left Australia if -
within six months before that re-entry, an authorized officer made a notation on the entry permit to the effect that the permit would not be invalidated by absence of the holder from Australia; and
at the time of the re-entry, the entry per mit has not, or had not, expired or been cancelled.”.
Sir, the purpose of this amendment is to obviate the need for fresh temporary entry permits to be issued to Asian students each time they return to Australia after vacation in their home countries. Whereas the normal entry permit granted to migrants will, as the committee by now knows, take the form of simple stamps placed in their passports, temporary entry, permits, issued to. Asians, entering Australia for prolonged periods in order to study or operate as merchants or in other respects, will be issued as separate documents identifying the holders and setting out the conditions of their admission.
I think the committee will agree that, it will be much more convenient for the holders, and certainly more efficient from a departmental point of view, if such permits, once issued, can be made good for the whole period of the applicant’s stay here:. For example, in the case of Asian students the permits would be for the whole period of their courses of study, without being invalidated by absence from Australia.
As honorable members will realize, quite a large proportion of the 5,000 and more overseas students in this country naturally desire to return to their homelands once a year for the long vacation, and quite substantial effort will be saved all concerned if they can apply to an authorized officer before leaving to have their permits kept valid pending such time as they return.
I do not think it would be particularly desirable if this facility were to be extended to absences for a long period, and so the amendment I have moved contemplates a maximum absence of six months. I think honorable members will agree that that is time enough for the purposes that I have in mind.
– 1 should like the Minister for Immigration to consider the case of an immigrant from southern Europe who may wish to return, to, say, Italy or Malta for a. period. If he stays away for a certain period - I am not sure whether it is six months or twelve months at present - his entry permit expires and he finds it difficult to return to this country. He almost becomes another migrant. I do not know whether the bill is designed to meet that situation, or whether the Minister feels that the present position is satisfactory. I know that there are not many such cases, but those that do occur cause hardship and inconvenience to the immigrants concerned. I should like to know whether this bill will bring about any change in the present set-up.
.-! should like to say something about the amendment that has been moved by the Minister for Immigration. The committee should bear in mind that the clause we are dealing with comes within Part II. of the bill. Part II. deals with immigration. Division 1 of Part II. deals with entry permits. Apparently entry permits fall into two classes. One type is the permit given to a person to enable him to stop in Australia and make Australia his home. Another type of permit is that which is regarded as a temporary permit, allowing a person to stay in Australia for a certain period. Temporary pemits can apply to persons who’ come from Europe and topersons who come- from Asia, such asstudents who come to this country for a certain period in order to pursue a certain class of study. I think the amendmentcorrects a weakness in the bill, which would readily show itself when the next university holidays occurred. Hundreds of Asianstudents would want to go back to their homes, either in Malaya, Burma, India or elsewhere, and the department would then have to issue fresh entry permits. This amendment enables what might otherwisebe an embarrassment to the administration to be dealt with in a very simple manner.
I am principally concerned as to whether this new provision will be confined to Asian students. Since this bill was introduced, I have had brought to my notice acase the details of which I shall bring to the notice of the Department of Immigration.
It concerns an Italian businessman who has been in Australia for a few months. He is managing a businses in Bendigo. The business belongs to Italian sponsors and capital holders in Italy. This person finds it neces-sary to return to Italy for a brief period, where he proposes to get married, and then return to Australia to fulfil the terms of his contract with the management of this firm. There may be other cases of a similar nature. If this case can be dealt with in accordance with the new sub-clause to clause 9 that provision will provide machinery in the statute that will be very helpful and will present a lot of unnecessary work so far as the department is concerned.
I think the amendment makes the bill a better bil] and we offer no opposition to it.
.- I support the amendment and I agree with the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) that it improves the bill very materially. I merely wish to say that the act at present provides for certificates of exemption. They will continue until they expire and, in future, temporary entry permits will be issued. I should have hoped that when large bodies of Asian students returned to their homelands for the long university vacation, the opportunity would have been taken to cancel their certificates of exemption and issue in lieu thereof the new temporary entry permits. That is some thing that could be done now, but which the bill provides for in the future.
– I shall occupy the time of the committee for only a moment to answer the queries raised by the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) and the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey). The situation stated by the honorable member for Port Adelaide will remain unchanged. It is the practice to issue re-entry visas in cases of the kind mentioned, which are valid for a period of from six to eighteen months. Clause 9 does not affect the matter he raised.
The argument addressed by the honorable member for Bendigo is quite valid. I quoted the case of the Asian students only as an example because this is a matter which is uppermost in our minds at the present time. I assure the honorable member that the effect of the amendment will be confined not to the Asian students only but to the holder of any temporary entry permit such as the honorable member has in mind.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 10 and 11 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to. i”.
Clause 1 2 (Aliens convicted of crimes).
.- Clause 12 relates only to particular offences and there can be no problem in relation to evidence concerning them. However, in other clauses, particularly clause 14, the nature of the evidence on which deportation might result is not nearly so clear. When we deal with clause 14 I shall point out to the committee the problems that exist in relation to deportation, and shall submit that in cases that are pending the Minister may well consider taking no further action until the procedure set out in that clause is brought into operation.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 13 (Deportation of immigrants in respect of matters occurring within five years after entry).
.- During the second-reading debate I mentioned that I intended to raise certain matters when clause 13 was before the committee. I should like to point out some differences between clauses 12 and 13. The latter clause reads -
Subject to section fifteen of this Act, where (whether before or after the commencement of this Part) an immigrant -
has been convicted in Australia of an offence punishable by death or by imprisonment for one year or longer, being an offence committed within five years after any entry by him into Australia; the Minister may order the deportation of the immigrant from Australia.
Clause 12 provides that where an alien has been convicted in Australia of certain crimes or of any offence for which he has been sentenced to imprisonment for one year or longer, the Minister may order his deportation. Honorable members will notice that paragraph (a) of clause 13 gives the Minister power to deport an alien for certain offences that are somewhat minor when compared with those mentioned in clause 12.
I do not desire at this stage to canvass in any way the case now being dealt with by the Minister. Until I examined these two clauses closely I did not realize that, as clause 13 now stands, an alien may commit a crime and be convicted and, although the offence may carry a term of imprisonment of twelve months or longer, the circumstances surrounding the particular offence may be regarded by the court as being of a trivial nature and a fine may be imposed, or a term of imprisonment may be imposed that is considerably less than the twelve months mentioned. In cases of that description the power of deportation should be exercised with a good deal of mercy and consideration. I know that it is not compulsory for the Minister to deport an immigrant who so offends but, in my opinion, unless an immigrant has been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of twelve months or longer this particular clause should not be used to bring about his deportation, otherwise an alien guilty of a minor offence would be subject to deportation. This action should not be taken unless the court, by the punishment it inflicts, indicates that the offence is of a serious nature.
Paragraph (c) of the clause provides that, subject to section 15 of this act, where an immigrant, within five years after any entry by him into Australia is an inmate of a mental hospital or public charitable institution, the Minister may order his deportation. I am sure all honorable members will agree that the wording of paragraph (c) is exceedingly wide. It would be possible that a person who had been admitted to a charitable institution or a hospital as a result of a road accident, or to undergo a minor operation, would be liable to deportation. It is not uncommon for a person who has a tendency towards mental neurosis voluntarily to enter a mental institution to receive the up-to-date treatment now available and, after being an inmate of that institution for a few weeks, to come out cured. As I indicated in my speech on the second-reading of the bill, I am seeking from the Minister an assurance that clause 13 (c) will be administered on a humane basis and that it will not be used in a frivolous way. I should like to hear what the Minister has to say on paragraphs (a) and (c) of clause 13.
.- 1 should like to make a few remarks supplementary to those made by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) in regard to clause 13 (c). I admit that this is not an obligatory provision, but it gives the Minister power to act in certain circumstances. 1 should be pleased if the Minister would inform the committee of the number of persons who have been deported because they have been inmates of mental hospitals or public institutions.
In this clause, the use of the expression “ mental hospitals “ seems to carry with it something of a stigma. I do not know very much about the matter; I am not a psychiatrist. However, I have read that, contrary to the general belief, no trace of hereditary causes can be found with 80 per cent, of the people in mental institutions who have suffered breakdowns. It is quite possible that many of the people we are considering are mentally sound when they arrive here. However, they have a breakdown. But the fact that they have been treated in a mental hospital does not mean that they are incurable. As the honorable member for Bendigo has pointed out, many people enter these hospitals for treatment and in due time are released. They are restored1 to society and play a useful part in it. I should be pleased if the Minister would elaborate on this clause.
– The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) has mentioned the matter that I wished to raise and his remarks have been supplemented by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor). I should like to have an assurance from the Minister for Immigration that this clause does not mean that people will be deported simply because they have been in a mental hospital or a charitable institution. The clause should provide that before they can be deported it must be established that they entered the mental hospital following the commission of some serious misdemeanour. In most instances, there may be good reason for a person entering a mental: hospital. A boy of twenty may be riding a motor cycle and be thrown from .it, as happens every day in the week. He suffers head injuries and is admitted to a mental institution. The deportation of that young man, with the rest of his family remaining here, is something that I cannot contemplate. 1 am sure that that would not be done, but I should like an assurance from the Minister.
Another case that could arise is that aged parents are permitted to come to this country on the guarantee of their children that they will provide maintenance for them’. The guarantor may die and the old people may go into a charitable institution because they are not entitled to social service benefits. Does the clause mean that those people would be worried all the time by the fear that they would be deported? I feel that we should have from the Minister a fuller explanation of the manner in which the clause will be administered.
– I know that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) has long been interested in the effect of clause 13. I recall that he adverted to it in his speech on the motion for the second-reading of the bill. I told him then by way of interjection-
– You did; you said you would give a satisfactory assurance.
– As my honorable friend says, I said that the assurance would be satisfactory. I hope, Sir, that he will find it so to-night. These problems have been considered for some time by the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, of which the honorable member for Bendigo is a distinguished member. Both sides of the Parliament are represented on the council. The committee may be interested to know that the council has recommended to me that deportation should take place under clause 1 3 (c) only in those cases where the disease existed prior to the entry of the migrant to Australia and the migrant - this is the effective part - knowingly and deceitfully concealed the existence of the disease in order to gain entry.
– Would the department not have that information before the migrant came to Australia?
– Not necessarily.
– Not if he concealed it.
– That is the whole point of what .1 am saying. I should .like to assure the .committee that long before these points were raised, I adopted the recommendation of the council. The proposition of the council has been practised by me for some time already. But I should like to utter a caution here. There is one aspect of the matter that can be, with the best intentions in the world, overlooked. One must envisage the circumstance that it could be in the interest of the migrant that deportation should proceed. For example, an unfortunate inmate of one of these mental institutions could .have, as does happen from time to time, no close relatives or friends in Australia. If application were made by close relatives in, say, England, for his return to that country, it could well be that his mental condition, if it could not be improved, could at least be alleviated there. Therefore, although I agree with what honorable members opposite have said, that it could be inhuman in some circumstances to deport an unfortunate wretch so stricken, I point out that it could be equally inhuman not to deport him if it could be shown that it might be some slight help to him to send him back to the country of his origin where he could be close to relatives and people who would be able to give him whatever measure of care and consideration are available to people in such an unhappy situation.
So I say to the committee that, while I have already accepted the recommendations of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council on this matter, I propose on somewhat mature consideration of this delicate point to order the deportation of inmates of mental institutions in the circumstances that I have just outlined, when it can be clearly shown that it would be to their advantage to be sent back to their country of origin because they have close relatives there and that they would receive some care and attention which would improve their lot.
– On the other hand, if relatives here do not want them sent, they would not be sent?
– That is so. But so many of these deportation cases - indeed, I would add, all of them - must be considered on their individual merits, within the peculiar circumstances relating to each one.
If the Minister, whoever he happens to be, is not prepared to do that, then, of course, he is failing in this part of his functions as Minister for Immigration.
The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) asked me how many inmates of mental hospitals are affected by these clauses. He may be interested to know that over the last three years the average number of those who have come within this category is approximately 30. I have not the figures with me to go back further, but that will give the honorable member some idea of the scope involved in this proposition.
Earlier in his remarks, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) touched on the question involved in paragraph (a) and, of course, nobody could disagree with what he said as to the implications of that paragraph. The honorable member mentioned a certain deportation case which is pending at the moment, and I deliberately wish to avoid having to discuss a matter which, in my own mind, is not concluded, for fear that I should prejudice whatever fresh evidence may be given to me; and I hope that will be given soon.
The whole question of deportation involves the ministerial discretion. It goes back to the personal factor, the personal equation, the type of Minister you have, and what standards, what principles he is willing to bring to these very important individual cases that come under his notice. I think honorable members will agree that my two immediate predecessors, the present Minister for Supply (Mr. Townley) and the present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), just to take the two gentlemen who were administering this department within my own memory and within my own experience in this House, showed very fine discrimination and great humanity in the exercise of their powers of deportation. Those standards I am endeavouring to follow and to adopt; but it should always be remembered that in certain cases one superficially may appear, perhaps to some critics, to be hard, when they are not in the position of knowing all the facts, all the innermost circumstances that, in this particular department, can be known only to the Minister who has to exercise a discretion and who, in the last resort, has to make a judgment.
I ask the honorable member for Bendigo not to have too many fears on this score while I am the Minister. If it is my good fortune to continue in this position after the election - I am sure my friends opposite hope that such will not be the case but, nonetheless, I equally hope that it will be the case - I can assure him that if ever he thinks that I am slipping from the standards which I endeavour, in all humility, to set myself, he will be quite entitled to hold me to account.
.- I just want to raise my voice in protest against the very idea of deportation. I simply take the humane point of view that when these people come to this country, they have committed1 themselves and we have committed ourselves by giving them refuge. The few cases of the kind we are considering do cause a great outcry, but we are imposing upon the person who has chosen to make his home here, to the stranger in a strange land, the further disability of liability to be deported, or, if this were done 120 years ago, transported. I say this is simply another example of the legacies of the past which could well be removed from our laws.
The people who come here are a charge upon us. We have to take this as one of the calculated risks of an immigration system. We find that we are able to abolish capital punishment and the murder rate does not increase. We find that we are able to do away with flogging, except in some regrettable circumstances, and there is no increase of violent crime. The quality of mercy about which we all talk - tho qualities of humanity, justice, freedom and tolerance about which we all speak so proudly - could well justify the removal of this very provision from our statute-book. I personally hope to see that day, and I hope that we shall never have to raise the matter with the Minister again.
In recent cases, members of families have been threatened with severance for ever. This is a most serious thing. I doubt whether any greater punishment could be visited upon the persons themselves or the families involved. Therefore, I question the moral right of the community at large to carry out this form of punishment.
.- By way of interjection I suggested to the Minister that the Department of Immigration should have some knowledge that a man was suffering from the condition to which the Minister referred. I understood the Minister to say that only in cases where it had been found that the immigrant had suffered from this complaint prior to arriving in Australia would he be deported.
The point I wanted to make clear to the Minister was that, in my opinion, if the person in the case to which he has referred had been effectively screened by the department, the department would not have authorized his migration to this country. I suggest that in cases where it is found that a prospective migrant to this country had suffered with the condition to which the Minister referred, the department should indicate to him the possibility that he will be deported from this country within five years. I maintain that if a man has a complaint of that nature it ought to be found before he arrives in this country, and, upon its being found, the conditions of this legislation ought to be made perfectly clear to him.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 14 (Certain persons may be deported after report by Commissioner).
.- I think clause 14 is the most important of the clauses in Division II. It contrasts with clauses 12 and 13 in that it empowers the Minister to take many factors and circumstances into account in determining whether deportation proceedings shall take place. Clauses 12 and 13 are quite specific. What is set out there could be proved by the production of court records or the records of an institution, but, under clause 14, if it appears to the Minister that the conduct of an alien has been such that he should not be allowed to remain in Australia, the Minister may, subject to certain provisions, order the deportation of that alien.
The advance that this clause makes on previous legislation is that it lays down certain procedure which must be followed. First of all, before the deportation is to proceed, a notice has to be served on the person concerned, specifying the grounds of deportation. That is an advance on anything that has happened before. Previously, a person could be deported without necessarily being given any reason or ground whatever for the action. In this case, however, a notice must be served. After the notice is served, the person may, within thirty days, apply for a hearing before a commissioner who is to be a judge of the federal court, or of a State Supreme Court cr a barrister or solicitor of the High Court of Australia. In my view, this is redundant. It means that in cases where a person to be deported seeks to make what may well be an appeal, the evidence on which action is being taken would no longer remain secret. It would be open to examination.
In a number of cases in the past I kept as closely in touch as possible with the evidence that was brought. I believe that some of it was quite unsatisfactory. I know sufficient of the procedure which takes place in at least one or two investigation branches in the country to know that an extremely narrow view is sometimes taken in interpreting the particular actions of persons who are brought within the provisions of this section. I feel that any reasonably qualified persons such as the commissioner to be appointed would not agree with that attitude. However, clause 14 is a considerable advance on previous provisions.
I would suggest to the Minister that he should not consider taking any further action in a notable case which has recently been under consideration until this measure becomes law and the new procedure for which it provides can be followed. Persons who are placed in the position of being liable to deportation will then be able to rely on the fact that they can obtain notice of the grounds on which it is proposed to deport them. This will give them the opportunity, if necessary, to apply for a hearing of the matter by a commissioner before further action is taken. It is time that the old procedure was brought to an end, and, when this measure passes into law, it should not again be followed.
.- I should like the Minister to explain exactly how he will arrive at his decision as to whether certain actions of a person fall within the provisions of clause 14 (2.) (b). It appears to me, on the surface, that where a person who is considered to be undesirable is seeking admission to Australia his application is to be referred to a commissioner to decide on his undesirability. What sort of evidence would be given to the commissioner on which to make that decision? For example, if the person were a member of the Communist party would that fact warrant his deportation if he were not already naturalized or had not the necessary qualifications provided for in this measure?
– Why is the honorable member so solicitous for the interests of the Communists?
– Because they are the unpopular people in the community at the moment and might well come within the category of persons described in paragraph (b). If it were anybody else, such as a member of the Liberal party or of the Democratic Labour party, I would still take the same stand and speak for them in the best traditions of parliamentary government, freedom of speech and tolerance. I have raised this matter because at the moment I have before me the case of a man who claims that he is not a Communist. He has no criminal record, and his health is satisfactory. I have questioned him and I have asked an Italian whom I could trust to speak to him in his own language. He has been refused a re-entry permit to Australia, and if he were to leave Australia he could not come back. Now he has been refused his application for naturalization. I do not know what the evidence is. He may well be a member of the Communist party, although he says that he is not. He is an industrious citizen and a member of a union. What are the grounds to warrant his deportation? I want a straightforward explanation from the Minister.
– The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) wants some indication of the criteria which the commissioner would use in dealing with these cases. If the honorable member has studied the Immigration Act he will find that this bill reproduces what has been the law of this country for a great many years, including the part that he feels so critical about. It does not introduce any particularly new law or new considerations. The honorable member will find that there is not a country in the English-speaking world, or any Western country, which has not a measure of this nature on its statute-book.
– That does not make this right.
– The honorable member says it does not make this right. I put it to him that every country has to have this sort of overall protecting legislation in the interests of the community generally. That has been the experience of practically all countries and of legislators for decades. I think that the honorable member, who I know is so interested in these things, ought to give the more weight to that aspect than he has done so hitherto.
I have no doubt that when cases are brought under clause 14, the commissioner will weigh the circumstances with the utmost care. I do not think that it is for the Minister of the day to lay down or dictate exactly what the commissioner’s thinking should be or what his particular criteria should be in cases of this nature. After all, the object of the legislation is to check some of the power of the Minister and clothe the commissioner with it. He will be invested with a fairly considerable discretion and it will be for him to apply it in the interests of what he considers to be a just cause.
.- I am amazed at the criteria accepted by Government supporters for the purpose of determining whether a migrant should be deported. With regard to clause 14 (2.) (b), I think .that the Minister may be technically correct in saying that a similar clause appears in the immigration laws of most countries. In the case of Great Britain, it has been so insignificant and so little used that we are unaware of any cases having been taken to the court. This matter presents no problem whatever in the laws of Great Britain. But with regard to the United States of America the matter is of much greater significance. It is well to realize that in the United States, when the matter has gone to the Supreme Court, the trend of judgment has been that it is not enough simply to advocate the overthrow by force or violence of the established government, or to have an opinion in favour thereof, or to be associated with a body which advocates it; the advocacy must be associated with a present danger of the situation being achieved or coming about. The United States Supreme Court has tailored this kind of clause until it has reached the position where the real offence is the overt act; the commission of an act done in pursuit of this advocacy or of this opinion - and not the advocacy or the opinion itself. But in Australia we have not the advantage of a background of case law or discussion of that sort and consequently we have the danger of a commissioner, a Minister or a supporter of the Government, or some other person, simply applying his own perhaps somewhat hairshirted ideas of what this thing might happen to be, and applying his own particular judgment upon what is involved.
It would be wrong to allow this clause to pass without addressing ourselves to it as we have done in the case of clause 13, which may not be as serious in its impact as clause 14 (2.) (b) and may not demand such care in application, to say the least.
.- In view of certain remarks which have been made in this debate, I should like to offer one or two observations of my own. First, the power of deportation is a necessary attribute of government. No government would be wise to deprive itself of that power.
– Because it is a necessary attribute of Government which a government requires for its self-protection. I am surprised at the honorable member’s interrogation. I should have thought that the honorable member, who holds himself out as a person of some intelligence, would not make an interjection of that kind.
– You did not answer it, anyway.
– I did answer, but if the honorable member will not exercise his intelligence and will not appreciate the nature of my answer, no one in this chamber can help him. Secondly, the provisions of this bill relating to deportation are a great improvement upon the previous law.
– We admit that.
– That being admitted, it is rather surprising that this criticism has emerged. The point is that, instead of an absolute discretion being left to the Minister, as hitherto, there will now be an opportunity for a person who is about to be deported to place his case before an independent commissioner, who must be trained in legal process - a judge or a lawyer. Moreover, the commissioner, before he makes any recommendation to the Minister that the deportation must go on, must be satisfied that the ground of the deportation is established. In other words, there must he positive proof of this point. There must be an independent inquiry before a trained mind, and one could not have a more satisfactory way of dealing with the matter than that. This is a tremendous improvement upon the existing law. It gives rights which have never existed in this country previously, and the Minister is to be congratulated upon what he has done.
House adjourned at 11.25 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
k asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
In view of the problems and difficulties being experienced by the poultry industry and its similarity of interest with those employed in the industry in other parts of the world, will he endeavour to arrange for the 1962 Conference of the World Science Poultry Association to be held in Australia?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
I am pleased to be able to inform the honorable member that the Australian Government has issued an invitation to the World’s Poultry Science Association to hold its 1962 congress in Australia. I am informed, however, that similar invitations have been extended by several other countries. The decision as to which of the invitations will be accepted will be taken at the meeting of the council of the association during the 1958 World Poultry Science Congress at Mexico City later this month. The Australian delegation at the 1958 congress- will include Commonwealth and State government officials and industry representatives.
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) £6,200. (b) £17,000, including the cost of house connexions and of the system of septic tanks.
m asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
What percentage . of the revenues of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration was contributed in 19S7 and will be contributed in 1958 by - (a) the emigration countries; (b) Australia; (c) other immigration countries; (d) the United States of America; and (e) other sympathizing countries?
– The following answer to the honorable member’s question is based on information contained in official documents of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration: -
For convenience it is proposed to deal separately with each of the years 1957 and 1958. The percentage of the committee’s revenues contributed by member governments . in respect of the committee’s operational budget for its European pro- gramme for the calendar year 1957 was as follows: -
The balance of funds making up the operational budget was subscribed by migrants and/or their sponsors and from other sources. According to present estimates, the percentage of the committee’s revenues that will be contributed by member governments in respect of the committee’s operational budget for its European programme for the calendar year 1958 is as follows: -
The committee expects that the balance of funds making up the operational budget will be subscribed by migrants and/or their sponsors and from other sources.
d asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s. - On 28th August, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) asked the right honorable the Treasurer a question without notice seeking information about a reported announcement that the United States Government intended to propose at the annual meetings of the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank that increased financial resources should be made available to those two institutions. The announcement took the form of publishing of letters exchanged between the United States Secretary to the Treasury and the United States President. The full text of these letters is given below -
s. - On 21st August, the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark), asked the Treasurer the following question: -
Is it a fact that the increase in interest rates on the financing of the sale of wool, approved by the Government in October last year, was respon sible for the fall in wool prices? Is it also a fact that the United Kingdom Government has now reduced from 7 per cent, to 4¼ per cent interest rates on finance for wool purchases, and that the British banking instrumentalities have refused to reduce their interest rates in the same proportion?
For background on this question, I refer the honorable member to the full information given by the right honorable the Treasurer, on 26th November, 1957, in reply to a question asked by the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition. The replies to the specific points now raised are: -
August 18, 1958.
Dear Mr. President:
We have frequently discussed together the importance of a sound and sustainable growth in the economy of the free world to both the foreign and domestic policy objectives of the United States. Over the longer term, I believe that the well-being of the friendly nations depends not only on the economic and financial health of the industrialized nations of Europe, North America; and elsewhere, but also upon the economic growth and progress of nations in the less developed areas of the free world.
Through a number of measures the United States has been pursuing these objectives, and this year we have taken major steps forward in our own programs. It would seem highly desirable that the nations of the free world as a whole should move forward cooperatively to deal more effectively with the problem. One of the best ways of achieving such cooperation would be by strengthening the financial institutions already established. In the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Monetary Fund we have seasoned international instruments now engaged in this work.
Both of these organizations have staffs of internationally recruited experts who, with over a decade of experience behind them, have demon strated their ability to act effectively and impartially. Both have established operating standards and policies which command the respect of their member governments. The Fund has provided short-term financial assistance to 35 member countries, aggregating the equivalent of over $3 billion. Through such assistance and the influence it has been able to bring to bear for the adoption of sound currency and exchange policies, the Fund has contributed substantially towards monetary stability and a freer flow of international trade and payments. The Bank has invested some $3.8 billion in productive development projects in 47 different countries and territories, most of them under-developed. Loans by the Bank are running at the rate of about $750 million a year. The Bank’s financing and technical assistance activities have served to accelerate the pace of economic growth all over the free world; and it has carried on these activities on a basis that has earned for the Bank the confidence of all major private capital markets. The establishment of the International Finance Corporation, which supplies capital to encourage the growth of productive’ private enterprise, has recently increased the scope and flexibility of the Bank’s field of operation.
The International Monetary Fund utilizes for its operations gold and member country currencies which have been provided to it by the member countries through their subscriptions to its capital. Advances by the Fund in the past two years have amounted to approximately $1.8 billion and nearly $900 million additional are in effect earmarked against standby commitments which the Fund has undertaken.
Under the charter of the International Bank, a small part of its authorized capital is available for loans, but the Bank must depend primarily on borrowings in the financial markets of the world. The major part of the authorized capital in effect constitutes a guarantee for these borrowings. The Bank has raised the equivalent of more than $2 billion through issuing its bonds denominated in six different currencies. At present the equivalent of about $1.7 billion is outstanding in such bonds. The Bank’s bonds are recognized throughout the world as securities of the highest quality and, as a result, the Bank has been able to borrow large sums of money at frequent intervals at rates of interest comparable to those of highly-regarded government securities. This in turn has enabled the Bank to fix interest rates on its own loans at levels not imposing undue burdens on the borrowing countries concerned. While the Bank still has unused borrowing capacity, its volume of lending has expanded greatly and, if it is to continue to be able to meet legitimate loan requests likely to be submitted to it during the years ahead, it must go to the market for larger amounts of money than ever before. This would require a broadening of the market for the Bank’s bonds and the tapping of sources of capital not yet reached.
During the annual meetings of the Bank and Fund at New Delhi early in October, we should give consideration to ways and means of increasing the effectiveness of these two institutions. As U.S. Governor of the Bank and Fund, I would welcome your guidance with respect to these vital problems of policy. If you believe that certain avenues of action should be explored preparatory to the New Delhi meeting, I would ask the National Advisory Council to proceed promptly with detailed study and arrangements. We would, of course, wish to consult with members of the Congress who are particularly concerned with this subject.
A related matter has recently been under consideration by the Senate, which has adopted a resolution calling upon the National Advisory Council to undertake a study of the feasibility of an International Development Association as an affiliate of the International Bank. The resources of such an organization would be subscribed by the members of the Bank. The Association would finance development projects on the basis of long term loans at reasonably low interest rates repayable in whole or in part in local currencies. In the course of its study, the Council will also explore the possibility that such an affiliate of the Bank might prove to be a means, supplemental to our own national programs, for assuring productive investment of some part of the various local currencies becoming available to the United States through the sale of agricultural surpluses or other programs. It is intended to undertake informal discussions with other members of the Bank with a view to ascertaining their attitude toward an expansion of the Bank’s activities along these lines.
I request your guidance as to whether, if the study indicates that the proposal is promising, you would wish to have the subject pursued formally with the governments of the other member countries of the International Bank.
Yours faithfully, Robert B. Anderson.
The President The White House.
August 26. 1958.
Dear Mr. Secretary.
I have read with great interest your letter concerning the adequacy of the present resources of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
I thoroughly agree with you that the well-being of the free world is vitally affected by the progress of the nations in the less developed areas as well as the economic situation in the more industrialized countries. A sound and sustainable rate of economic growth in the free world is a central objective of our policy.
It is universally true, in my opinion, that governmental strength and social stability call for an economic environment which is both dynamic and financially sound. Among the principal elements in maintaining such an economic basis for the free world are (1) a continuing growth in productive investment, international as well as domestic; (2) financial policies that will command the confidence of the public, and assure the strength of currencies; and (3) mutually beneficial international trade and a constant effort to avoid hampering restrictions on the freedom of exchange transactions.
During the past year, as you know, major advances have been made in our own programs for dealing with these problems. These include an increase in the lending authority of the ExportImport Bank; establishment of the Development Loan Fund on a firmer basis through incorporation and enlargement of its resources; extension and broadening of the Reciprocal Trade AgreementsAct; and continuation of the programs carried forward under the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act.
Our own programs, however, can do only a part of the job. Accordingly as we carry them forward, we should also seek a major expansion in the international programs designed to promote economic growth with the indispensable aid of strong and healthy currencies.
As you have pointed out, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Monetary Fund are international instruments of proved effectiveness already engaged in this work. While both institutions still have uncommitted resources, I am convinced that the time has now come for us to consider, together with the other members of these two agencies, how we can better equip them for the tasks of the decade ahead.
Accordingly, I request, assuming concurrence by the interested members of the Congress with whom you will consult, that you take the necessary steps in conjunction with the National Advisory Council on International Monetary and Financial Problems, to support a course of action along the following lines:
First: In your capacity as United States Governor of the International Monetary Fund, I should like to have you propose, at the Annual Meeting of the Fund at New Delhi in October, that prompt consideration be given to the advisability of a general increase in the quotas assigned to the member governments.
The past ten years testify to the important role played by the International Monetary Fund in assisting countries which, from time to time, have encountered temporary difficulties in their balance of payments.
We are now entering a period when the implementation of effective and sound economic policies may be increasingly dependent in many countries upon the facilities and technical advice which the Fund can make available as they meet temporary external financial difficulties. This is particularly true of the less developed countries with the great variability in foreign exchange receipts to which they are subject from time to time. It also applies to industralized countries which are dependent on foreign trade. Through its growing experience and increasingly close relations with its members, the Fund can also help see to it that countries are encouraged to pursue policies that create stable financial and monetary conditions while contributing to expanding world trade and income. The International Monetary Fund is uniquely qualified to harmonize these objectives but its present resources do not appear adequate to the task.
Second: In your capacity as United States Governor of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, I should like to have you propose, at the Annual Meeting of the Bank, that prompt consideration be given to the advisability of an increase in the authorized capital of the Bank and to the offering of such additional capital for subscription by the Bank’s member governments. Such additional capital subscriptions, if authorized, would not necessarily require additional payments to be made to the Bank; they would, however, ensure the adequacy of the Bank’s lending resources for an extended period by strengthening the guarantees which stand behind the Bank’s obligations.
The demands upon the Bank for development loans have been increasing rapidly, and it is in a position to make a growing contribution tothe economic progress of the free world in the period which lies ahead. Moreover, it can do this by channeling the savings of private investors throughout the world into sound loans, repayable in dollars or other major currencies. But to meet the rising need for such sound development loans, it must be able to raise the funds in the capital markets of the free world. An increase in the Bank’s subscribed capital, by increasing the extent of the responsibility of member governments for assuring that the Bank will always be in a position to meet its obligations, would enable the Bank to place a larger volume of its securities in a broader market, while still maintaining the prime quality of its securities and hence the favorable terms on which it can borrow and relend funds.
Third: With respect to the proposal for an International Development Association, I believe that such an affiliate of the International Bank, if adequately supported by a number of countries able to contribute, could provide a useful supplement to the existing lending activities of the Bank and thereby accelerate the pace of economic development in the less developed member countries of the Bank. In connection with the study of this matter that you are undertaking in the National Advisory Council pursuant to the Senate Resolution, I note that you contemplate informal discussions with other member governments of the Bank’s responsibilities along these lines. If the results indicate that the creation of the International Development Association would be feasible, I request that, as a third step, you initiate promptly negotiations looking toward the establishment of such an affiliate of the Bank.
The three-point program I have suggested for consideration would require intensified international cooperation directed to a broad attack upon some of the major economic problems of our time. A concerted and successful international effort along these lines would, I feel certain, create a great new source of hope for all those who share our conviction that with material betterment and free institutions flourishing side by side we can look forward with confidence to a peaceful world.
Sincerely, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The Honorable Robert B. Anderson, Secretary to the Treasury, Washington, D.C.
s asked the acting Treasurer, upon notice -
What amounts of Commonwealth and State debt have been held in the following or similar categories in the years 1940 to 1958: - (a) the Commonwealth Bank, (b) other banks, (c) insurance companies, (d) other large companies or business concerns, (e) private persons, and (f) other small holders?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The classification of holdings of Commonwealth and State debt along the lines sought by the honorable member cannot be provided fully from the available statistics. The following table shows an alternative classification of holdings of Commonwealth Government securities in Australia between 1940 and 1957. Figures for , 1958 are not yet available.
s asked the acting Treasurer, upon notice) -
Are the private trading banks limited in their capacity to lend by the level of their deposits, or can they create credit in that their level of deposits can itself be raised or lowered by the results of the banks’ own lending?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The trading banks are limited in their capacity to lend by the degree of their liquidity, i.e., the ratio between their liquid assets and their deposit liabilities. The general effect of increasing trading bank advances, other factors remaining constant, is to reduce the degree of liquidity of the banking system and thus the capacity of the trading banks to make further advances.
s asked the acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 September 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1958/19580916_reps_22_hor21/>.