22nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present a petition from 5,556 citizens of Australia praying that the Government will make provision, by means of a referendum, for the alteration of certain sections of the Constitution which relate to the aboriginal people of Australia. This is one of a series of petitions signed by more than 25,000 persons who are disappointed ‘that no action has been taken in this matter as a result of the work of the Constitution Review Committee.
Petition received and read.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service given consideration to my request that the figures for registered unemployed be compared, in the monthly statement, with the figures for the corresponding month of the previous year? Is it a fact that the number registered at the end of August is 11,713 higher than the number registered at the end of August last year? Is the number of persons in receipt of unemployment benefit greater than the number for the corresponding period of last year?
– I have given some consideration to the suggestion made by the honorable gentleman. As I pointed out in the House - I think last week - the practice of giving a monthly survey of employment trends was initiated during my own period of office.
– There was no unemployment before that. When Labour was in office there was full employment.
– The honorable gentleman does not want to start a debate on that subject. The people put the Labour Government out of office in 1931, for twelve years, as the result of the unemployment which had developed at that time. I have amplified the information conveyed in this monthly report as we have gone along. There is clearly a practical limit to what should be conveyed in a monthly survey if it is to be of value in conveying trends to the public and interested parties. I think that the information which the honorable gentleman seeks is available to those who are sufficiently interested, because the necessary documents are available for reference. The information in the monthly report is intended for newspaper purposes, for the interest of the general reader, and for the purpose of conveying a picture of current trends. If the information were extended, I think that it would serve merely to complicate rather than illuminate. For that reason it is not intended to give in the monthly report the additional information sought by the honorable member.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question. I understand that certain organizations associated with the poultry industry have requested the Australian Government to extend an invitation for the holding in Australia of the 1962 congress of the World Poultry Science Association. Can the Minister indicate whether the Government has considered this request, and whether an invitation has been issued? If an invitation has been issued, has it been accepted, or when is a reply likely to be received?
– I have been pleasantly surprised at the great interest taken, not only by poultry producers, but also by the royal agricultural societies and others in the holding of the poultry science congress in Australia in 1962. The matter was considered by the Government and it was decided to extend an invitation to the World Poultry Science Association to hold its 1962 congress here. That does not mean that automatically the congress will be held in Australia. At the 1958 congress, which is about to be held at Mexico City, the Australian invitation will be considered and, if it is supported by a sufficient number of countries, the congress will be held here.
– Does the acting Minister for Trade propose to table, during this session, the Tariff Board report which was signed on 29th August and which, presumably, deals with the efficiency, prosperity and export earnings of our. secondary industries; or does he propose to a-void doing so by taking advantage of the recent amendment to the. act which only, requires, the report to be tabled within fifteen sitting days? Is the report signed this year by the chairman only, as last year, or by all’ the members with one abstention or qualification, as in the previous two years, or by all the members without qualification, as in the years before that?
– I cannot tell the honorable member exactly when the report will, be tabled, hut it will be within the next week or so. As far as the context of the report is concerned, the honorable member has anticipated something in the report - that is, that in one section a minority view expressed by one member of the Tariff Board* has been included..
Practice Range in, Fort Phillip Bay.
– Has the Minister for Air any knowledge of an area, 4 miles by H miles, in Port Phillip Bay, off Point Cook, which has been taken over by the Royal Australian Air Force for a practice range? Is the Minister aware of any resentment, by amateur and professional fishermen at being deprived of their fishing grounds? If so, does he consider that there are any valid grounds - I almost said “ waters “ - for the objections?
– An area, to the seaward of Point Cook, in Port Phillip Bay, was taken over by proclamation - not recently, but a number of years ago - for the purpose of providing a safe area to the seaward of an ordinary rifle firing range at Point Cook. This is not a new development at alf. The honorable member has asked me whether I am aware of any indignation at the existence of this range. I have recently seen a complaint by a gentleman who describes himself as being savage at what he says is interference with his fishing in these hitherto untroubled waters. In fact, the range has existed since 1951. The only change has been a recent minor alteration in order to describe the boundaries more correctly than had been done before. The range is only rarely used nowadays, and I do not think that its existence constitute? much of an interference with either the fish or the fishermen.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence in his capacity as acting- Minister for External Affairs. I ask the honorable gentlemam: Does, the Government consider the off-shore islands in the Formosa- Strait as being the property of Nationalist China? If so, does this Government intend to support the Nationalist Government in defence of these islands in the event of a war over their ownership breaking out between continental China and Formosa?
– I do not propose to discuss the. off-shore islands in the Formosa Strait at the present time, because they are now being discussed in Warsaw by representatives of the. United States of America and Communist China.
– f desire to address a question’ to the Minister for Primary Industry, and to preface it by saying that I believe that the Chief Veterinary Officer of the Department of Primary Industry is at present visiting the United States’ of America to discuss certain marketing matters: In view of the importance of the export crayfishing industry to Australia, will the Minister arrange for that officer to inquire into the United States market, for crayfish, to which- Western: Australia is a major contributor,, with particular attention to. weights and the adverse, effect, that the export of under-size or so-called midget tails is reliably reported t& be having on the marketing of frozen crayfish tails in that country and’ the overall” prices received?
– The Chief Veterinary Officer of the Department of Primary Industry has recently visited the United States, of America on an extended tour, and has investigated the marketing of crayfish tails in that country. He has now returned to Australia and submitted his report to me. I am glad to be able to inform the honorable member that, although, when I last discussed this matter with him, we had some doubt about whether there ;was a satisfactory market for midget tails, the Chief Veterinary Officer has been able to ascertain that the United States supermarkets will now find a ready market for the small tails that come from Western Australia. In fact, it is now thought that the quality of those tails is the best that «an be produced anywhere, and the Western Australian product is competing successfully in this market with the small tails produced in other countries.
-Order! There is too much audible conversation on my left.
– I know that Opposition members are very seldom interested in the welfare of Australia. So far as the large tails are concerned, the honorable member for Moore will know that the restaurants in the United States .offer a ready market for these tails. I will have a copy of the Chief “Veterinary Officer’s report prepared, and I will let the honorable member see it, because I know of “his very great interest in this matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Defence. Is it a fact that little or no co-operation exists between the Department of the Army and other Commonwealth departments and the State Departments of Civil Defence where such exist? Whose responsibility is it to coordinate the efforts of the Commonwealth and State’ governments, municipalities, local government services, medical services, fire brigade services and road and rail transport for the evacuation of thickly populated areas in the event of war and the possibility of atomic attack? In view of the importance of civil defence, will the Minister hold conferences with the State governments at an early date with a view to formulating the best possible scheme of civil defence and creating the necessary organization to give effect to it?
– I remind the honorable member that my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, under whose administration civil defence comes, informed the House only recently that the whole question of civil, defence was being considered by an inter-departmental committee. On receipt of the report of that committee, the Government will decide exactly what will be done in this connexion.
– Is the Minister for “Labour and National Service aware that -a report by a committee appointed by the Attorney-General of Victoria, to inquire into and report upon the most practicable manner of reducing the accident rate in industry in the State has been printed, and that one of the principal recommendations was the establishment of an industrial safety bureau to co-ordinate the efforts of governmental, industrial and voluntary agencies’? Will the Minister bring before representatives of all States at the forthcoming conference on industrial safety, which he has promoted, the substance of the report and its recommendations?
– I have some knowledge of the report to which the honorable gentleman has referred. It followed an extensive inquiry conducted on behalf of the Government of Victoria into the industrial safety problem in that State. I shall give some consideration to the suggestions that the honorable member has made. I point out, however, as I informed the House when giving it some details of the national conference which this Government has sponsored, that there has been an encouraging response from those invited. All the State governments will be directly represented at the conference, for the most part by the Ministers concerned or, in the unavoidable absence of one or two of them, by senior representatives of their departments. Top level representatives of management and trade unions will also be included among more than 150 delegates who have already signified their intention of being present. At a suitable stage in the proceedings, the State Ministers, including the Minister for Labour from Victoria, will address the conference on methods that are now being adopted in their own States to cope with this problem. I have little doubt that the Minister from Victoria will make appropriate references to this report and the principal findings in it.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister in his new capacity as Treasurer. I should like him to inform me how the chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board can reconcile his recent state.ment that central bank advances are designed to halt unemployment and stimulate housing in view of the following facts - (a) that the registered unemployed still number more than 60,000; (b) that the number of employees in the building industry working on new buildings declined by 2,200 during the first quarter of 1958, and such workers are still being put off work; (c) that permits for the construction of new buildings in the six capital cities are the lowest for three years. Will the Government, through the Commonwealth Bank Board, insist that advances to private banks be channelled into housing as a top priority, that is, into areas where the economy is weakest?
– I say, with great respect, that this is not a question; it is an argument. In the first place, it distorts the facts because it says that’ the figures, of registered unemployed are so and so. Those are not the registered unemployed; they are the number of applicants. The problem has been dealt with time after time by my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service. In the second place, I do not think it is any part of my function to explain somebody else’s speech. I find myself quite fully occupied at times explaining my own, and I would beg to be excused from arguing about what somebody else has said. In the third place, if the honorable gentleman will give himself the trouble of reading completely the report of the Commonwealth Bank, which has just been published, and to which, no doubt, he has been referring, but which, quite clearly, he has not read completely, he would see that the Commonwealth Bank, in its treatment of special accounts and of the liquidity of the trading banks, has observed very great judgment and a thoroughly liberal approach.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Health been directed to a recently released report on the British national health scheme? In view of the fact, that the report refers to an appalling waiting list for hospitalization and a scandalous wastage of medical and surgical skill. I ask the honorable gentleman whether the report has not a great significance for Australia in that any disturbance of the doctorpatient relationship can have ruinous consequences. Furthermore, will the honor able gentleman say what is the essential difference, from the viewpoint of the contributor, between the British national health scheme and the brilliantly successful Australian national health scheme?
– The honorable gentleman asks a very searching question, but it is not one that can be answered in very simple terms. Before I answer it, I would like to say, as I said yesterday in another context, that it is a mistake to believe that there is any single national health scheme which can be applied without change in all countries. Each country requires a scheme suited to its own conditions and its own character, so I would not like what I say to be regarded as criticizing the operations of the scheme in Britain.
In brief, the answer to the honorable gentleman’s question is that in Australia we have always based the provision of ordinary medical services chiefly on domiciliary medicine and general practice, and anything which disturbs that particular set of circumstances will, I believe, have very adverse consequences on the rest of our arrangements in Australia. In Britain, general practice is based on what I may call a complete capitation system. That is to say, the doctor is paid for the number of people on his panel and not for the services that he renders. A complete capitation system in Australia would inevitably have the result of separating general practice from specialist practice and segregating specialist practice into some other category, presumably based on hospitals or something of that sort. It would remove from the general practitioners not only financial incentive but also professional incentive, and it would not be a very long time before the general practitioner came to feel that he really did not have a job to do. The inevitable result of that, of course, would be a decline in the standards of general practice.
Our national health scheme is based on providing facilities for the patient to pay for the actual services rendered to him in domiciliary and general practice as well as in specialist practice. The effect of this, of course, is that a great deal of practice is conducted - and conducted, I may say, at a very high level - in the patient’s home and not in hospitals, with a consequent saving of a great many hospital beds. Anything which tends to upset this relationship, such as the substitution of a full capitation scheme would, I believe, have the most disastrous consequences for Australia.
Removal of Sand
– My question to the Minister for the Interior refers to Commonwealth property at the Randwick rifle range, in my electorate, where sand is being removed under licence by a private individual. As the protector of Commonwealth property and in an effort to prevent the complete destruction of an asset worth £250,000, I ask the Minister whether he will give instructions that further removal of sand from the Randwick rifle range be suspended, pending an investigation of charges made by me in a speech in Parliament last week..
– They were untrue.
– If the honorable member is not interested in an asset worth f 250,000, I am. My question continues: Will the Minister have the complete rehabilitation of the area proceeded with immediately in accordance with the terms of the agreement entered into with the licensee prior to the removal of the sand?
– I am afraid that I cannot undertake to pursue an inquiry into every complaint raised by the honorable member in this chamber, but I can tell him that for a long period, mainly at the instigation of my friend the honorable member for Phillip, I have kept a personal eye on the work going on in this particular area. I am bound to say that sand is won from the area under a contract which provides for rehabilitation and levelling of the area. To the best of my knowledge and from a detailed report given by my officers as late as yesterday, I am satisfied that the work is proceeding properly. The licensee is operating under a bond. The whole matter was dealt with in detailed answers to a question on notice by the honorable member which he has either already received or will receive within the next 24 hours.
– I ask the Minister in charge of Civil Defence whether he will include among the items to be discussed by civil defence authorities the immediate problem of finding a way to reduce the incidence of road accidents, the rate of which now approaches the level of war-time casualties.
– I think the question discloses a lack of appreciation of the division between civil defence and civil emergency. The matter lies within another field of responsibility. Certain consideration, particularly in New South Wales, is being given to civil defence by an organization which deals with civil defence and also civil emergency. As far as Commonwealth responsibility is concerned, the question of road accidents is not a component of civil defence.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry, relates to wool markets. The Minister will be aware of considerable discussions recently about What is going on in the wool markets, which disclose a difference of opinion and uncertainty. Is he aware that an investigation has taken place in England which seems to indicate that seven woolbrokers in that country and, through them, approximately 24 wool-buyers in Australia this year bought over 50 per cent, of the wool sold at Australian auctions? Is he further aware that the English woolbrokers referred to operated as a group or cartel and sold futures to English wool manufacturers and others at prices considerably below spot auctions and then instructed their Australian buyers’ agents not to exceed these limits? If the Minister is unable to deal with these matters fully at this stage, will he undertake to have an investigation made here and in England as to the facts?
– For at least four months, some of the best officers in my department have been making an investigation as to whether a cartel was operating at the Australian wool sales. I had heard charges made from one source and another Not one of those sources has given me any verifiable evidence on which action could proceed. If the. honorable gentleman himself, or if the honorable member for Lalor has any evidence that can be substantiated, I will be the happiest person in the world to have it investigated..
From the inquiries that ! have made, I cannot find reliable evidence - indeed, I cannot find any sort of evidence - from which I could conclude that a cartel is permanently operating in Australia and is such that action could be taken by the State governments. If the honorable member for Lalor, who is interjecting, has any evidence, he should give it to me;- be should not make allegations and then sit down and do nothing. Not for one moment am I prepared to say that what are called pies do not operate. They probably do operate, but if they do they are of very short duration. There are some people, including those high up in the wool industry, who think that the operation of a pie can avoid violent fluctuations in the market.
– My question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, refers to the conference on nuclear energy recently concluded in Geneva, at which Australia was represented by a number of delegates. At this conference,, some interesting information, part of it not hitherto- revealed,, was available about the techniques and costs of nuclear power. Will the right honorable gentleman take steps to have this information summarized by some of the Australian delegates who Were present, and made available for the information of honorable members with the least possible delay?
– I will be very glad to have a look, at this matter. It may well be, of course,, as the honorable member realizes,, that some material may at present be on the confidential list. If it is, I could not- produce it; but I will certainly have a look at this matter to see what can be done.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. In view of the fact that we are straining every nerve at the moment to increase our overseas trade and that conferences are being held, was there any reason why £26,000,000 should be spent in the purchase of American aircraft when British aircraft, of a type that could be used with equal efficiency by our airways, were available?
– The question, of course, contains, a number of assumptions, and I do not propose to answer the technical problems. All I can say is that the purchase of aircraft is engaged in by whoever engages in it,, whether a government airline or otherwise, after the closest possible examination, and. the highest possible expert advice.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister, who is acting for the Treasurer. In- view of the confusion which prevails in the minds of many taxpayers as to the relative amounts, of taxation levied by the Commonwealth that are devoted respectively to Commonwealth and State expenditure, and bearing in mind the desirability of reminding taxpayers - whose money it is. - that the Commonwealth is so frequently accused of withholding money from-, the States, would the right honorable gentleman consider having, a brief statement printed on a slip of paper showing the amount and proportion of Commonwealth revenue collected for the use of. State governments, and including, a copy of the statement with each income tax assessment sent out by the Commissioner of Taxation?
– I think that the idea of having such a figure worked out is. very valuable. However, I would like to think about whether it ought to be used in the manner suggested by the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether it is a fact that the price being received for export dairy products is approximately half or less of the established cost of production. Is it a fact that the price charged to the Australian consumer is very much in excess of the accepted cost of production figures? If so, will the Minister explain why the present policy of selling abroad at a loss is continued in preference to a policy of reducing the price of these commodities in Australia and thus ensuring greatly increased local consumption’ at a price reasonable to the consumer and giving a much greater overall financial return to- the producer?
– The honorable member’s question is, of course, based on an assumption that nobody could accept and which I think, frankly, only the honorable member could have thought up. I think it would- be beyond the bounds of practicabilities to reduce the price to a figure sufficient to give a fair return to the producer and enable our total butter and cheese- production to- be sold locally. As the honorable member’s assumption- is completely wrong, I can see no real purpose in answering the rest of his question.
– My question is. directed to the Prime Minister. Will the right honorable gentleman say whether a statement made in this House by a Liberal party member that this Government would have to consider seriously the withdrawal of funds from State housing authorities in the future indicates Government policy to strangle State housing authorities, thereby depriving people who desire to: rent homes of the opportunity to obtain decent housing?
– I am not aware of the statement, if any such statement was made. As the honorable member knows, that is not Government policy. The Government has actively pursued a housing policy in co-operation with the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement The Government does not propose to abandon, that agreement’.
– Has the Prime Minister had an opportunity to consider a suggestion that I: made some little time ago that the Government should- authorize a publication1 giving’ an official and detailed history of all’ Australians who have been recipients of the Victoria. Cross?-
Mb.. MENZIES* - I> regret that I cannot say just what stage the consideration of this matter has reached-,, but L. shall have inquiries, made.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question without notice. Can the right honorable gentleman now tell me how many Rolls Royce motor cars the Government is purchasing? What is their cost? What are they to be used for? At a time when Australia’s overseas balances are so gravely deteriorating, why are not Aus* tralian-manufactured cars used: for purposes for which the Rolls Royce cars are being purchased?
– I am not the Minister in charge of Rolls Royce cars, so I cannot answer the honorable member’s question. However, the question- induces in- me certain whimsical reflections, because the honorable member spoke about cars built in Australia^ The greatest quantity of cars built in- Australia- is built by a company of American derivation - General MotorsHolden’s. Limited-.
– That firm provides work for Australians.
– That is fine. But when the Government buys aircraft from the United States, one of the honorable member’s colleagues wants to know why it does not buy aircraft powered by Rolls Royce engines. I am afraid that the Government is gone, one way or the other.
– I- ask the Minister, acting for the Minister for Trade whether he is aware that the almond, producers of South Australia, are again this year having considerable- difficulty in selling, their crop because of competition from large quantities of. cheap imported almonds? In view of this further indication of the depressed state of the industry, will the Minister do everything in his power to speed up the receipt” of the Tariff Board’ report, and’ to hasten a Government decision upon its recommendations when the report is received?’
– I know of the- honorable member’s intense interest im this matter., because during the short period in which I have been acting Minister for Trade he- has approached* me on several occasions about it. I have made the inquiries that I promised him I would make. I understand that the almond-growers are not so much concerned about the quantities of almonds that are being imported. They are more or less satisfied on that aspect of the matter. The honorable member mentioned a report, which, I am told, will be forthcoming in the very near future, and I assure the honorable member that as soon as it is received it will be considered, and tabled at the first opportunity.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Is any change proposed in the method and means by which suggested variations of the Canberra plan are submitted to both Houses Qf this Parliament, for their tacit or express approval? Will recent planning developments, including those that involve variations of the Canberra plan, be submitted to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, either for its information or for consideration and comment?
– As the honorable member knows, the Burley Griffin plan was gazetted, and any modification of that plan involves a rather lengthy procedure, including, I think, the gazettal of the proposed change for 30 days, a submission to the House and another wait of fifteen sitting days during which it is open to any member of Parliament to move for its disallowance. Honorable members know of the increased tempo of development in Canberra and of the work being done by the newly established commission. Many minor modifications of the plan stand in the way of this development. The statutory requirements regarding modifications are particularly inconvenient at the moment, because certain modifications of the plan that it is desired to put into effect later this year cannot now be approved for the commission until April or May of next year. The honorable member can be assured that any major alterations of the plan will be referred to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, and that there is no proposal to change the procedure materially so as to take away from either House of Parliament the right to express its views. In the case of minor modifications, such as, for instance, the widening of a road or the cutting of a corner, I should think it would be inappropriate to refer such matters to the committee for consideration.
– Is the Minister for the Interior aware that at a recent conference in Canberra of senior officers of the forestry departments of the Commonwealth and the States, alarm was expressed at the lack of fundamental research into forestry problems in Australia? In view of the immense importance of forestry to the Australian economy, can the Minister say whether the Government intends to adopt the suggestion that the Commonwealth should establish a full-scale research institute to undertake such research?
– Arising out of the forestry conference and the suggestion that we should establish a full-scale forestry research institute, a proposal has been prepared for consideration by the Government, but has not yet been so considered. I direct the honorable gentleman’s attention to the tremendous amounts of money that are poured into research through the various channels open to the Commonwealth at the present time. This matter of forestry research is important, as we know, and the suggestion will in due course be considered, I hope sympathetically.
Foreign Language Broadcasts
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. I ask the honorable gentleman why his department has reimposed, after five years, the ban on broadcasts in foreign languages by amateur radio stations. Since only Australian citizens are allowed to operate radio stations, does the Minister believe that there can be any genuine security reason for thus isolating Australia and impeding communications between Australia and the rest of the world? If such is his belief, does his department propose to extend the ban to newspapers and letters, and telephone, telegraph and cable messages transmitted from Australia?
– This is a matter concerning which the honorable member for
Werriwa has approached me in the last day or two, and on which I have already given him a reply. The reply is to the effect that it has been considered desirable, for security reasons, to place a ban on the use of languages other than English by amateur radio station operators. Such a ban was in operation until about 1953, and then was withdrawn at the request of the institute. My information is to the effect that it is desirable that this action should be taken, and I am guided by that information. The honorable member also asked whether it is the intention to extend the ban on the use of foreign languages to other avenues of communication. The reply is that it is not so intended.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) owing to his absence from Australia, and to the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) and to the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) on the ground of ill health.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1953, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House the results of its investigations, namely: - Erection of a steam power house at Darwin, Northern Territory, for Department of Territories, Northern Territory Administration.
The power station, which it is proposed to erect on Commonwealth-owned land at Stokes Hill, is required to meet the anticipated increased demand for electricity in the Darwin area, as indicated by the present rate of load growth and investigations into probable future requirements. The committee has stated that, after a study of the proposal, evidence, plans and the problems involved, it is satisfied that the basis adopted in estimating the future load is reasonable, the need for the proposed power station has been adequately sustained, and the proposed site and method of construction are the most suitable for the purpose. I concur in the committee’s recommendations, and instructions will be issued accordingly. The estimated cost of the work is £1,850,000.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 16th September (vide page 1292).
Clause 14 (Certain persons may be deported after report by Commissioner).
.- I wish to repeat, in relation to the general principles of this clause, the sentiments I expressed last night regarding another clause. I refer again to the very doubtful validity of our right to deport people, having once admitted them to Australia as permanent citizens. I may say, also, that I am dissatisfied with the remarks by the Minister and honorable members opposite, particularly the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske), on the criterion to be adopted in deciding how and why a person will fall into the categories described in this clause. By interjection, honorable members opposite implied that we are always the friends of people who are doubtful characters. This is not so. The point is that it is the doubtful characters who are placed in greatest jeopardy when any of these matters are being considered.
Reverting to the actual question of deportation, I think the honorable member for Balaclava was speaking in support of the Minister, and we expected him to be able to define for us the principle followed with regard to deportation. The honorable member told us that the power of deportation was necessary, and, when asked, by interjection, why this was so, he simply said that it was necessary. Yet we find, of course, that he is a person who is qualified to act as a commissioner in this kind of case.
I am dissatisfied with the general attitude in defining the rights of a person who is to be deported. A person may come to this country and take part in militant trade union activity, the definition of which could vary according to the point of view. If the executive officers of the trade union were Communists - as they may well be - would that activity bring him within the categories described in clause 14 (2.) (b) of the bill? I want the Minister for Immigration to answer that question. We know of people who are being refused naturalization and the logical protection that naturalization would bring to them because of what can only be interpreted as political activity. Therefore, I believe that this is a very important principle. I have no doubt, as has been expressed by other honorable members, that this is a very .great advance on the previous system, because the person affected will have some sort of protection. He will be informed of what is alleged, and his case will be heard by a commissioner. That is an important step. But this matter is affected by the same principles as we apply to many other things.
I do not know how many people have been deported for this kind of activity in the last few years, but I should say that they would be very few. Capital punishment can be abolished without creating a great wave of crimes of violence. It has been possible to abolish flogging without giving rise to a great wave of crimes of violence. Before the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Bruce) entered this troubled sphere of politics, there was capital punishment of soldiers for desertion from the Australian forces in the First World War. The abolition of that penalty made history; it was said that the Army could not carry on without it but, in fact, it has been able to do so.
If I had to choose between the possible injustices which might accrue from the continuance on the statute-book of a provision such as this and the menace or danger to the community from the few people who possibly would be involved in this sort of thing, I would fall on the side of the removal of the right of deportation from the statute-book. I want this information from the Minister: If a person comes to Australia as an immigrant and is accepted as a permanent resident of this country and if, before becoming naturalized, he takes part in activity connected with a conflict with militant trade union leadership, or even if he joins the Communist party, will he be deported? In other words, will the Minister state whether a blanket is to be placed over the political activity of new arrivals from overseas?
.- Knowing that the honorable .member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) would rise in this debate. I took some pains to check what I said last night and to get some authority in support of my remarks. I answered the challenge that was put to me last night. To-day, the honorable member for Wills has denied that I did so. I said that the power of deportation is required by a government for its self -protection. Nothing could be clearer, plainer or simpler than that. What I said was fundamental. Why the honorable member for Wills has denied that I gave an answer to that question is beyond my comprehension.
– He did not accept your testimony.
– It is not a question of accepting my testimony. What he said was that T gave no answer. But if it is a matter of accepting my testimony, as the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) suggests, I have brought into this chamber a copy of the words of Mr. Justice Isaacs, whose testimony, I should imagine, would be accepted by members of the Australian Labour party. This is what Mr. Justice Isaacs said with regard to the immigrant -
He has no right to enter Australia against the will of its people. He can enter only in pursuance of their will and subject to their constitutional right to qualify or withdraw that permission at any time or under any circumstances they think .proper. No parliament - for parliament is only the legislative instrument of the people - can either by action or inaction surrender or weaken or forfeit that national power.
He went on to say that if it were otherwise it would be a tragedy. Then, coming to the question of deportation, as such, he said -
I agree . . . that deportation as a means of self-protection- the very words I used without referring to the language of Mr. Justice Isaacs, and which was rejected by the gentleman opposite - in relation to constitutional functions is within the competency of the legislative organ of the Australian people. This nation cannot have less power than an ordinary body of persons, whether a State, a church, a club, or a political party who associate themselves voluntarily for mutual benefit, to eliminate from their communal society any element considered inimical to its existence or welfare. We have only to imagine, as I suggested during the argument, some individual found plotting with foreign powers against the safety of the country, or even suspected of being a spy or a traitor.
I prefer the knowledge and wisdom of His Honour Mr. Justice Isaacs to the passing remarks of a member who, before very long, Wil have passed from this Parliament.
– You are 30 years behind, that is all.
– I repeat the words of His Honour -
We have only to imagine . . . some individual found plotting with foreign powers against the safety of the country, or even suspected of being a spy or a traitor.
I ask honorable members to notice those words. The honorable member for Wills says that they are 30 years behind the times. In other words, the honorable member is prepared to accept that kind of person into the community. It matters not, Mr. Justice Isaacs said, whether the person concerned is an alien or a fellow-subject, nor where he is born, the danger is the same. He said -
No one stays to ask where a bomb which is on one’s premises was manufactured. The urgent Question is how to get rid of it. Needless to say, I .speak only of national power, that is, the right of the community as a whole to preserve its own existence. Power may be abused. That does not affect its presence or even its utility. A surgeon’s knife may be put to base uses; ‘but it is a necessary means in extreme or dangerous cases to save life.
That is what the Minister, in bringing in this legislation, has fully realized. He has told the Parliament that he is prepared to have his absolute power restricted. He has said, “ I am prepared to have this matter dealt with by an independent commissioner “. What has been said by the honorable member for Wills is hopelessly beside the point, and what the Minister has done in this matter is to be greatly praised.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 15 agreed to.
Clause 16 (Persons entering Australia in certain circumstances to be prohibited immigrants).
.- I wish to discuss subparagraph, (ii) of paragraph (c) of sub-clause (1.). This clause is designed to modify the requirements for the granting of a certificate of exemption to a prohibited immigrant in accordance with the .assurance that we were given by the Minister for Immigration in his secondreading speech, in which he pointed out that the principal act makes no provision for the admission to Australia for permanent residence of a person who is a prohibited immigrant by reason of bad character or poor health.
The Minister dealt with the position of young immigrants who wish to bring their fathers and mothers to this country, and pointed out the difficulty of their situation should the father have been convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of a year or more in his own country. In such an event, the existing law regards him as a prohibited immigrant and bars him from permanent residence. The Minister, in accordance with the humane streak in his character, expressed the view that a certificate for permanent residence should be given to such people. He said that it would be very inhumane to prevent an aged father from coming to Australia merely because he had served a term in gaol in his native country. This problem is now to be overcome by the provision of special entry permits for such people.
The Minister mentioned only aged fathers. I ask him now whether there is to be an age limit applied in respect of this humanitarian provision. Is it to operate only in respect of aged parents, or will it provide also for fathers, even if not aged, sons, wives, or even daughters, who may be considered to be of bad character, who may have health weaknesses, or who may have served a term of imprisonment in their own country? The Minister’s .general purpose is very laudable, but I think that this provision should be implemented on a restricted basis. Great care will be needed in implementing it. Each case will have to be dealt with very strictly on its merits, and careful attention will have to be paid, in the case of a person who has served a gaol sentence, to the crime of which, he was convicted and to the length of the term of imprisonment.
I should like the Minister to amplify the manner in which it is intended to give effect to his humanitarian policy. I realize that, at times, people on whose behalf members of the Parliament have made representations have been refused admission to this country on the grounds of bad character, of health deficiencies, or of a prison .sentence. At the same time, we must bear in mind that in some overseas countries terms of imprisonment may have been served for very trifling offences, and this should not prevent a person from becoming a permanent resident of Australia. A term in prison may have been served, on the other hand, for a really serious crime, and it may be dangerous to admit as a permanent resident a person who has served such a sentence.
I should like to say, in conclusion, that I welcome the Minister’s humanitarian objective of easing the provisions of the law with respect to the granting of certificates of exemption, for the sake of family solidarity. The existing provisions of the principal act have often kept families divided in the absence of this humanitarian approach to their problems. However, I emphasize that the authorities will have to exercise great care in giving effect to the Minister’s intentions by implementing the provisions of this clause.
.- Mr. Chairman, I raise no objection to this clause, and I commend the remarks made by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) to the attention of the Minister for Immigration for consideration. I wish particularly to direct the Minister’s attention to the conflict between the wording of this clause and clause 12 and that of clause 13. It was pointed out last evening that paragraph (a) of clause 13 appeared to make somewhat different provision in respect of persons convicted of a crime. Clause 12 provides that a person convicted in Australia of a crime and sentenced to imprisonment for one year or more may be deported. Clause 13 provides that a person convicted in Australia of an offence punishable by imprisonment for one year or more is liable to deportation. A similar matter arises again in this clause, which provides for the entry to Australia in certain circumstances of persons who ordinarily would be regarded as prohibited immigrants. Subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (c) of sub-clause (1.) deals with a person described in the following terms: - a person who has been convicted of a crime and sentenced to imprisonment for one year or more;
Such a person will be a prohibited immigrant under this clause, except in certain circumstances, and the wording used here has the same meaning and result as that used in clause 12. I raise this matter because I consider that paragraph (a) of clause 13 should be given the same interpretation as the words used in clause 12 and in the sub-paragraph of this clause to which I have referred. That would mean that a person would be subject to deportation at the discretion of the Minister only if he had been convicted of a crime and sentenced to imprisonment for one year or more.
I think the Minister will see the point that I am making - that two clauses provide that a person shall be liable to deportation if he has been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for one year or more, and another clause provides that a person shall be liable to deportation if he has been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for twelve months or more, even if the penalty imposed by the court were a sentence of less than twelve months’ imprisonment. I should like to see adopted an interpretation of paragraph (a) of clause 13 under which a person would not be regarded as subject to deportation unless he had been sentenced to imprisonment for one year or more. If that interpretation were adopted, the application of these three clauses would be the same. No confusion would arise, and no one would feel that a person could be treated more unfairly under one clause than under another.
.- Provision is made in this part of the bill for a new procedure in relation to the deportation of immigrants, and I should like to have an assurance on this point. Last night I pointed out to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) that this new procedure was present, and T asked him whether he would consider refraining from taking any further action in any existing or pending cases until this legislation had become law so that the new procedure could be applied to those cases. The Minister did not deal with that matter last night, and 1 presume it was overlooked. I believe that it is important to have a statement by the Minister on this point because the procedure under Division 2 of the bill is clearly new. It will give an alien or a prohibited immigrant a better opportunity to know the evidence that is available in his case and examine it. Now that the Government has recognized the need for this procedure, I believe it is very necessary that it should be applied to all cases from this moment onwards.
– I shall deal first with the point that was raised by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). I should like to disabuse his mind that the effect of this clause is limited in the way that he fears. In my second-reading speech, just by way of illustration, I gave the example of an aged father or parent, butI did not mean that to be interpreted in an exclusive manner as though the clause were directed to that particular circumstance alone. In actual fact, this clause does not contemplate any age limit, as the honorable gentleman fears, nor was it restricted merely to a father or a mother. It could apply, for example, to a diseased child who had been left behind by his parents, or some other member of the family.
I quite agree with the honorable member that, although this does represent some lessening of previous severities on the part of the Government, the concession should be administered with a considerable degree of care. I do not think there would be any disputation about that at all, but the thought at the back of our minds when we put forward this matter to the Parliament was to try to make some further concession to the principle of family reunion. That is a principle which is particularly dear to my own heart and which, I feel, should underlie family migration wherever it is possible. I assure the honorable gentleman that I am in full agreement with him as to the wisdom of exercising this provision, should it become law, with all the necessary circumspection, andI do not think there will be any dispute about that. Generally speaking, it seems to me - and I think it will to the committee also - that the provision is good public policy.
I turn now briefly to the points that have been made by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey). With all respect to the honorable gentleman, I will not delay the committee by going into those points deeply, and in saying that, I hope the honorable member will not think me unceremonious. I can assure him with reference to his plea which, in substance, as I see it, really amounts to a desire for some modification of the deportation power, that I shall consider most carefully the points that he has made with some degree of strength. 1 am sure that my officers will give him due consideration similarly.
Finally, there was the matter which was raised by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). The honorable gentleman said that he felt, in view of the imminence of this legislation coming into effect, that no action should be taken - if I understand him aright - against pending cases for deportation. I do not think that any Minister would be justified, however sympathetic he might be towhat the honorable member has said, in giving an unqualified undertaking that that would be done. It is impossible to foresee the circumstances which could arise between now and the time when this measure will receive the Royal Assent, and which would require the attention of myself or my officers in this connexion. However, I think I could go this far and say that no government would bring forward a consolidating and reforming measure of this kind and then proceed to act contrary to the spirit of what it was in the process of trying to enforce. But I do not think the honorable gentleman could reasonably expect me to give him a completely unqualified1 affirmative, bearing in mind that, of necessity, some months must elapse for administrative reasons until this section of the measure is actually proclaimed.
As to the date of proclamation, Sir, I contemplate that it will be in the early months - perhaps the first quarter - of1959. If the bill is approved by this chamber and in another place, it will certainly come into effect as soon as it can be made conveniently possible.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 17 - (3.) Where a person entered Australia before the commencement of this Part as -
– I move - tn clause 17, sub-clause (3.), paragraph (a), omit “ armed forces- of the Commonwealth “, insert “ armed forces- of the Crown “.
This is one of the small drafting amendments which f adumbrated” when we were dealing with the bill last night. We propose to omit the words “ armed forces of the Commonwealth “’ and insert in their stead “ armed’ forces of the Crown “. Sir, this is designed simply to correct what was unfortunately an erroneous use of the word Commonwealth. The fact that the word was used’ in error will-, I think, be evident from a reading of clause 8 (1.) where, in comparable circumstances, the phrase used is armed forces of the Crown. If honorable members study the bill, they will see that nowhere is the word Commonwealth used in the sense that I, personally, would like to use it - that is, the British Commonwealth. Where the word does appear, it refers, of course, to the Commonwealth of Australia. This meaning is much narrower than the intention of clause 17 (3.) which, like clause 8 (1.) had in view members of the forces of any British country.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause. 18 agreed to.
Clause 19- (Dependants of deportee).
.- I should be glad if the Minister would explain some of the matters in relation to clause 19; about which I have some’ doubts. The clause states -
Where the Minister makes- or has. made an order for the deportation- of a person, the Minister may,, in. his discretion, at the. request of the wife of that person, order the deportation of the wife, or of the wife and a dependent child or children, of that person.
The first inquiry I have is this: Why was the term “ wife “ used and not “ spouse “ as T assume that a deportee could be either male or female - a husband or- wife? I should also like to ask the Minister whether it is possible, under the clause as it is worded, for the. Minister to. order the deportation of dependent children without also deporting the wife. Occasions may arise on which a father might be- deemed’ most entitled to have custody of the children, and the wife might desire to remain in this country. So far as I can see. the clause as worded means that the Minister can deport only the person and his wife, or the person and his wife and the dependent child or children. I should like the Minister to explain that to me. Also, what is the position of a proposed deportee who is married to an Australian citizen, where the wife seeks to be deported? Does the Commonwealth have the power to deport in those circumstances or would it be merely a matter; in that case, of paying the fare?
– I think that the committee will agree that clause 19 is quite a useful clause. It has been designed solely to facilitate cases where a wife wishes to accompany her husband. So far as I am aware, a case has never arisen where it has been found necessary, or it has been desired, to- deport a wife rather than her husband. It is conceivable that when a man has committed a crime or comes within the scope of the legislation requiring his deportation, for humanitarian and family reasons his wife and children should accompany him. They may wish to do so, on the principle that the more that families are kept together the better it must be for them. That is why we have inserted a provision of this nature. I am told that these cases do not arise very frequently. As the honorable gentleman will notice, the Minister is given a discretion, but a discretion only, in the exercise of these powers. So he will judge each case on its merits, and if he feels that it is necessary, in the interests of the family, that wife and children should accompany a deportee, this provision will give him the power; having looked at all the circumstances, to make an order.
.: - The discretion given to the Minister is not a complete, discretion. It is given only “ at the request of the wife “. I take it that there must be a. request from the wife before the Minister can exercise the discretion which is given in that clause. I would.’ still like the Minister to tell me, if he will, what is the position in the case of a proposed1 deportee who, during his term in: Australia, has married an Aus.tralianborn woman. What is the power of the Commonwealth so far as deportation is concerned/?’
– I should imagine - although T- would not like to be held to this - that the Acts Interpretation Act would apply, in a case such as this, that the terms would be interchangeable, and that “ wife “ could be read as “spouse”. The honorable gentleman is asking me to give, as it were, an off-the-cuff legal opinion on the matter,, but I should think there would be some grounds for substantiating the view I have expressed.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 20 agreed to.
Clause 21- (1.) Where the Minister has ordered the deportation, of a person by virtue of, or by reference to, sub-section (1.) of section six, paragraph (c) of sub-section (3.) of section eight, or paragraph (a) of sub-section (1.) of section sixteen, of this Act, an authorized officer may, by notice in writing, require the master, owner, agent or charterer of the vessel in which, the deportee arrived, in Australia to remove him from Australia without charge to the Commonwealth. (4.) It is a defence to a prosecution in respect of a failure to comply with a requirement under subsection (I.) of this section if the defendant proves that he gave reasonable notice to an authorized officer of his willingness to receive the deportee on board a specified vessel at a specified port on a specified date for removal’ from Australia and the deportee was not made available at that port on that date in the, custody of an officer for placing on. board that vessel.
.. - I move -
In clause 2.1,. after sub-clause (1.), insert the following sub-clause: - “ (U.) An authorized officer may make a requirement under the last preceding sub-section in respect of a deportee notwithstanding that such a requirement has previously been made by that authorized officer or another authorized officer in respect of that deportee, if the time for compliance with the previous requirement has expired and the deportee is still in Australia.’”.
To this clause there are two proposed amendments standing in my name. The first, which I have moved, is the substantive one, and the second, which I shall move at the appropriate time, follows from it. As clause 21 stands, it appears likely that the department, by reason of sub-clause (4.), would lose the benefit of the first sub-clause if, for example, a ship deserter disappeared after the shipping company had once been required to remove him from Australia and had displayed its readiness to receive him on board a particular ship. Where the benefit of sub-clause (1.) is lost, in some cases this would mean that it would not be possible to deport the man at all when he was found. In other cases, the Commonwealth would have to bear the cost of subsequent deportation.
The opportunity for deportees to disappear is all the greater because,, on humanitarian grounds, many are allowed their liberty while awaiting deportation unless, of course, they are criminals or have demonstrated in some other way that they cannot be trusted to report to the department when required. The proposed insertion is intended to have the effect that the department will be able, when an absconder, is. found, to serve, a second notice on the shipping company, requiring it once again to remove, the man from Australia. This would simply renew the company’s liability to do so.
Amendment agreed to.
– The second amendment is consequential on what I have just said. I move -
In. clause. 21, sub-clause, (4.), after “ that “, first occurring, insert, “, after the. date of the requirement,”.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 22 to 25 agreed to.
Clauses 26. to. 32 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 33 - (2.) The master of a ship from overseas bound to or calling at a port - (a); shall bring bis ship to for boarding under this Act at the boarding station appointed for that port; and
– I moye -
In. clause 3>3, sub-clause (2.), paragraph (a), after “ shall “, insert “, if so required by an authorized officer,”.
This is another small machinery amendment considered necessary, from a practical point of view, by my department. Clause 33 (2.) as it stands, would oblige every ship to stop, for the purposes of boarding, on entering port. In actual fact, not every ship has to be boarded. The amendment, if acceptable to honorable members, will have the effect that masters of ships need not bring their vessels to for boarding unless required to do so by an authorized officer.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 34 to 38 - by leave - taken together.
.- I refer to clause 38, sub-clause (2.), which states -
Where an officer arrests a person in pursuance of this section, the officer shall forthwith inform the person arrested of the reason for the arrest,
This is the first occasion when, on proceedings of this sort being taken, the law will require that the person against whom action is being taken shall be informed of certain things. The second occasion is in clause 14 (3.) which provides that if the person against whom proceedings are to be taken seeks a hearing before a commissioner, then Che grounds upon which he is to be deported have to be made known to him. I should like the Minister to inform the committee whether it means that when the person is being arrested and given the reasons for arrest, he will be informed by the officer that he is a prohibited immigrant or whether the legislation will require the officer, at that stage, to tell him why he is a prohibited immigrant. That is to say, will it simply be a statement, “ You are being arrested because you are a prohibited immigrant” or, “You are being arrested as a prohibited immigrant because you have committed certain offences “ or for some other reason? At that stage, will he be given a statement of the grounds against him or will he be told merely that he is being arrested as a prohibited immigrant?
– As I understand it, the intention of this provision is that a person so arrested will be given all the reasonable information to which he is entitled. That, certainly, is the underlying motive of the reform which I am seeking to introduce.
Clauses agreed to.
Clause 39- (1.) Where an order for the deportation of a person is in force, an officer may, without warrant, arrest a person . . . (3.) If a person arrested under this section claims that he is not the person in respect of whom the deportation order is in force, the officer having his custody shall ask him to make a statutory declaration to that effect and, if the person arrested makes such a declaration, take him before a prescribed authority within fortyeight hours after the making of the declaration or, if it is not practicable to take him before a prescribed authority within that period, as soon as practicable after that period, and, if the arrested person is not so brought before a prescribed authority, he shall be released.
– I move -
In clause 39, sub-clause (3.), after “claims”, insert “, within forty-eight hours after his arrest,”.
I think honorable members will agree that this is a reasonable amendment and not an unduly limiting one. As it stands, this clause will enable a deportee to claim a hearing on the question of identity at any time of his choosing. For example, if he wished to be recalcitrant, just before the vessel on which he was appointed to depart was about to sail, he could make an application. In actual practice, this could mean that he would miss the ship and the department would either lose the opportunity to deport or else would be involved in considerable expense. I feel that it is reasonable, looking at the matter all in all, to expect an arrested person, if he does wish to dispute his identity with the person named in the deportation order, to do so as soon as he is arrested. To me, at any rate, that would be a very natural and humane reaction if he was genuine in his case. The proposed amendment would give him a 48 hours’ margin in which to do this. I hope that honorable members will agree with me that this amendment is reasonable and will support it.
.- The Opposition raises no objection to this amendment. I feel, however, that some little explanation should be made to the committee as to whether or not a person arrested will be advised of his rights in respect of the matter of disputed identity. We pass the legislation, and to those who are associated with it the rights of the deportee are well known, but a migrant whose knowledge of the English language may be faulty or who has not been in this country for any great length of time, may not appreciate his rights under the legislation. It is true that clause 39 (2.) provides that the officer who arrests a person - shall forthwith inform the person arrested of the reason for the arrest and shall, if that person so requests, furnish to him, as soon as practicable, particulars of the deportation order.
I should like the Minister to inform me whether it would be a practice of the administration to ascertain in the first instance from the person so arrested whether he is the person in fact that he is claimed to be and, secondly, if he says, “ No, I am not the person that you say I am “ he will be advised straightaway of his rights and be told exactly how he may exert them. It may even go further, that when a person is arrested, the provisions of clause 39 should be made clear to him so that he may know what his rights are.
I want to make it clear that the Opposition has no objection to the amendment because it is desirable that, if the defence of mistaken identity is raised, it should be made known as soon as possible. On the other hand, adequate provision should be made for the arrested person to know of his rights under clause 39 and be given every opportunity of exercising them if he believes they should be so exercised.
– T can understand the point of view advanced by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) and I do not think that people would dispute the hesitancy he has expressed. I am glad to hear his expression on behalf of the Opposition of willingness to concur in the amendment. However, I think the honorable member would agree that virtually any person, certainly any reasonable person, given full reasons for his arrest through an interpreter, as so often would have to be the case, who really felt it was a case of mistaken identity, would dispute it without delay.
To find an indication of the spirit behind these clauses, I ask the honorable member to turn to clause 41. The committee will see that it provides -
Where a person is in custody under this Act, the person having his custody shall, at the request of the person in custody, afford to him all reasonable facilities for making a statutory declaration for the purposes of this Act or for obtaining legal advice or taking legal proceedings in relation to his custody.
– That is at the request of the person?
– Yes. I think that clause, to which I draw the attention of the committee, discloses, as it were, the theme song of the legislation at this point.
– It leaves a lot to the Minister. It will be quite safe with you, because you have been locked up yourself in the cause of the country.
– The honorable member is quite correct in reminding the committee that I am, in a sense I suppose, an ex-gaol bird, but I make no apology for that. However, our experience of Ministers for Immigration from both sides of the chamber has been that they are reasonable and responsible men. They have been entrusted with great powers and they have been very conscious of the great necessity for exercising them in a humane and, wherever possible, a generous way. I assure the honorable member for Bendigo that I shall keep his point of view in mind, but I do not think that he will find, in the way the act is administered either by me or by my successors, that it will be very far from the goal which he wishes to achieve.
– I accept that assurance.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 40 to 57 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 58 - (3.) The regulations may make provision for and in relation to the regulation of immigrant centres, including provision with respect to the conduct or control of persons in immigrant centres and the removal of persons from immigrant centres.
– I move -
In clause 58, sub-clause (3.), after “ respect to “, insert “ the establishment and operation of canteen services in immigrant centres,”.
This small amendment should meet with the concurrence of the committee, especially those members of it who are broad-minded and in an expansive frame of mind. Because immigrant accommodation centres are situated some distance from normal shopping facilities, arrangements have been made for some time now with the Army Canteens Service to establish and conduct canteens at the main immigrant accommodation centres, Bonegilla, Greta, Scheyville, and Woodside in my own State of South Australia. It was considered desirable to include in this bill expressed statutory authority for the establishment of immigrant centres, together with the power to provide by regulation for their conduct and control. What the present amendment attempts to achieve is merely an extension ofthis authority to cover the canteen services at present conducted in the immigrant accommodation centres. I commend the amendment to the committee.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreedto.
Remainder of bill - by leave - taken as a whole.
.- I should like to ask the Minister a questionrelated to clause 64. Does this clause give aboriginals the same rights as are, generally speaking, applied to other Australian citizens? What are the requirements in relation to their obtaining permits, and so on? Are the provisions more rigorously and stringently applied to aboriginals than to other Australians? On the whole, I think this clause is an advance, but I should like to hear an explanation from the Minister. I have in mind aboriginals in the States, as well as those in the Northern Territory and other territories of the Commonwealth.
– To avoid delaying the committee, may I refer the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) to the explanatory memorandum that I circulated when I introduced the bill, in which this matter is dealt with at some length.
Remainder of bill agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Downer) - by leave - proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
– I want to say what I think all honorable members feel, and that is a word of congratulation to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) on the way that he has handled what is his first big bill - and it is a very big bill. No doubt he would say that much of the preparation was done by his predecessor, but he brought it to the final stages. He gave much time to the bill and circulated it very widely amongst various associations. Not only political associations, but others interested in immigration were able to place their objections and proposed amendments before their members or directly before the Minister. The way in which this bill has been handled sets a pattern, and I should like to see many of the larger bills handled in the same way. Very often, too many bills come in with a rush and no time is allowed for outsiders who are vitally interested in the legislation to make proper representations to their members or to the Minister.
I am sure that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) will agree that we should all offer our congratulations to the Minister. Although there may still be certain provisions of the bill with which some honorable members may not agree, we would like to thank the Minister on the way that he has handled the measure.
– I concur.
– in reply - May I say that I very much appreciate the extremely generous words of my friend, the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes)? This has not been an easy bill to consider. It is an extremely long measure, but I hope that, as honorable members have been in agreement with its main provisions, it will be given a fair trial to see how it works in practice.
I should like to take this opportunity to express my very warm appreciation to my friend across the table, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), on the way in which he has co-operated in the passage of the amendments and generally displayed his well-known sympathetic attitude towards immigration. We all remember, of course, that the honorable member for Bendigo is a distinguished member of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, and so has these matters very much at heart.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 26th August (vide page 712), on motion by Mr. Downer -
That the. bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition offers no objection to the passage of this bill. As the Minister for Immigration (Mr.. Downer) said when he introduced it on 26th August, the measure proposes to do two things - to remove some of the disability that existed in: regard to naturalized persons and to. extend the list of countries that are now included in the British Commonwealth. The bill repeals sections 20,. 2:1 and: 22: of) the principal legislation. In future,, the only person whose naturalization, may be revoked is a person who obtained his naturalization by fraud. I think that provision) is unobjectionable.
For myself,. I d$). not quite like the idea of making such sweeping changes as. are proposed in- the measure. I agree that naturalization: should not be on. a string. I well remember that, during the- latter, part of - the war and in the first years of the postwar period; proposals were put to me as Minister to revoke the- naturalization of a number of persons who had been interned during the war. It was assumed that if a person was interned and if some committee said that he was a disloyal person, his disloyalty was established beyond all doubt. As a consequence he could be deprived of his naturalization. Speaking from memory, I: da not think that I approved of the revocation: of naturalization, at any time in. those circumstances, or, indeed; in any circumstances. My memory of that period is that quite a number of persons were interned as a precautionary measure. Internment did not. necessarily mean establishment of guilt. Internment was ordered, by the authorities, particularly when the Japanese were sweeping on Australia, as a precautionary measure. There were no- Japanese naturalized among, those who” were interned; and immediately after the war- public opinion was- so stirred by the stories, and the memories of the Japanese- atrocities committed om Australian servicemen, and servicewomen that practically every Japanese resident in Australia was sent back to Japan. Only a few very sick Japanese were allowed to> remain here.
The position that arose in the past can never arise again, if this legislation, becomes law, as it undoubtedly will before the end of this parliamentary session. A person, once naturalized, can be as disloyal as any natural-born person could be, and his citizenship will remain undisturbed. I am not so sure that we are doing the right thing. I think some penalty should be imposed on people who assume obligations of citizenship and then prove themselves unworthy of citizenship. A person might become naturalized, as people have in Great Britain- from time to- time, in a way that could never be considered exceptional, and their naturalization could never afterwards be faulted on any legal ground. But despite that, in some cases citizenship was obtained for the purpose of assisting the cause of espionage. Names do not come readily to- mind; but there are some rather famous cases in British history. Indeed, one person who became naturalized was elected to the House of Commons, but was later exposed- and convicted. Such, a person, should not be allowed to continue- to hold Australian.- citizenship-. If such a case ever arose in this country, it should- be possible to. deport the person- concerned.
I am not so happy about the provision for the elimination of the requirement that a naturalized person who goes abroad to live must report periodically to an, Australian consul.. The Americans retain that provision, and I think, it is a goodi one.. I would not apply the provision in the- case of a person, who. became naturalized and then, in good faith and because of circumstances arising, in. his or her life, went abroad to take up. permanent residence. I can imagine an alien coming to this country,, becoming’ naturalized, and then- going abroad to- live with an Australian-bom husband or a naturalized Australian husband,, and remaining: abroad for a very long period. In my experience quite a number of people obtain naturalization in order to use their Australian citizenship abroad’, and with, no honest intention of ever being Australian citizens. Some of them who came to this country from Europe immediately after the war lived here for five years, became naturalized, and then went abroad to live. Some of these even objected to remaining in Australia for twelve months- after they had been naturalized’. They wanted to go abroad. and Australian citizenship seemed particularly valuable to them. They could have gone to other countries to obtain citizenship, but they preferred Australian citizenship. Some of them have never returned to this country. Others make only periodical visits to Australia. I do not think that their acceptance of Australian citizenship was honest, and they should not be absolved from the requirement to report periodically. Reporting is equivalent to a declaration that they wish to retain their Australian citizenship. Some of them do not even bother to report. Some have to be chased and made to report.
In some respects I think the changes made in the act are too sweeping. There are one or two categories of persons in respect of whom the Minister should reserve some power to himself. He is assuming now, very generously, I think, that everybody who seeks Australian citizenship is well-intentioned and will act honestly and fairly towards this country. I am not so sure about that. I have a certain suspicion about some of these people. However, the Minister is prepared to take a risk, and the Opposition had better take that risk with him. Some day we might have to look at this act again and make some alterations that time will prove necessary.
I agree entirely with the noble sentiment expressed by the Minister, that henceforth Australian citizenship will be a one-class train without any suggestion of first or second class according to origin. A oneclass railway system is now operating in Victoria. But the fare for the only class available is much higher than the former first-class fare. I am sorry to disturb the former Minister for Transport in Victoria, the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), by referring to the rail fares in Victoria.
– The present fares in Victoria are not higher than the former first-class fares.
– I think they are on some lines. For what it is worth I give the measure my blessing. I leave it to honorable members to see the bill through its remaining stages.
.- I take this opportunity to point out the harshness of certain provisions of the present act, particularly those contained in section 25.
This section affects children born of Australian citizens outside Australia. Under this act some children are not eligible for citizenship unless they return to Australia and live here. It is well known that over the past century many Australians, for various reasons, have sought their living outside Australia, particularly in the Pacific Islands. Many of them have severed their connexion with Australia, but others have returned here from time to time. Some of the people who have gone to the islands have been business people. They have gone there to sell Australian goods or to set up businesses and undertakings in the islands. In other words, they represent Australian manufacturers. Australian university graduates also are offering their skilled services in quite a number of these less fortunate countries. I call to mind particularly those countries that are involved in the Colombo plan.
The number of Australian businessmen living abroad whose descendants come within the provisions of section 25 is comparatively small. Their families, however, are most patriotic and very useful to this country. On all our national days they are well to the fore in representing Australia. They never miss an opportunity to represent Australia on Anzac Day and other days of national celebration. They are denied Australian nationality, however, because of the operation of section 25 of this act, to which I shall address myself in more detail at a later stage. These people have become stateless.
The persons affected by this legislation are not confined to the Pacific Islands. There are persons whose parents were Australian but who were born in, say, France or South America. Because they have not come to this country they remain stateless as a result of the harsh provisions of section 25. I shall refer to two particular cases, so that honorable members may have a better appreciation of my contention.
The first case concerns a person to whom I shall refer as Mr. X. This man was born in 1933. In 1951 he raised the question of his nationality. He had always travelled on his father’s British passport and believed himself to be a British subject. But it was discovered eventually that his parents had forgotten to register his birth at the office of the British Consul. No doubt such things do happen occasionally. However, the
British Nationality Act allows late registration of births, and the Foreign Office has agreed to the registration of the birth of this man, provided that he is accepted immediately as an Australian citizen. As an adult, however, he is precluded from Australian citizenship because his father was not born in Australia. His grandfather was born in Australia and he himself was ‘ educated in Australia. But although he is, to all intents and purposes, a good Australian representing his country in the merchandising field, he is denied Australian citizenship because he and his father were not born in Australia.
I believe, therefore, that the provisions of this section do not go far enough. I feel that opportunities should be extended at least as far as the second generation, and, of course, it is only the second generation in which we would now be interested. It is well known that we in Australia bend over backwards at times to grant nationalization to persons from other countries. In the odd cases concerning persons living in countries outside Australia, I think we should go the extra mile and do something to assist them. Admittedly, in the case that I have cited, the father forgot to register his son’s birth. The father was an Australian. Because he was not born in Australia and because he failed to register his son’s birth, the son is an alien and is stateless.
I have mentioned one case, but I could cite others that I know of, and no doubt there are many other cases outside my knowledge. Probably there are many descendants of Australians who have been in France since the first world war, and to whom the provisions of this section would apply. There may be other such persons in South America. I have referred only to one case in order to point out what I consider a weakness in the legislation. I wish now to mention another case. The circumstances are quite different, but the same principles apply.
In this case, there was no mistake made by the parent with regard to registration of his children’s birth in a foreign country. However, because of the wording of section 25, those children are precluded from becoming Australian citizens, although, their father is, in fact, an Australian. I shall refer to the parent in this case as Mr. Y. Mr. Y was born on an island in the Pacific, and he is in every way a -worthy representative of this country. He is a leading businessman. He represents an oil company. He also represents a shipping company, insurance companies and other British firms. He was married to an Australian and educated in Australia. His father was born in Australia. During the war he was a Naval Reporting Officer, and he was awarded the O.B.E. by Her Majesty. One of his daughters, I understand, is married to an Australian. This man has five children. Four of them were born before the 1949 act was introduced, and, therefore, they can never become Australian citizens unless they come to this country to live. The fifth child was born after the passing of the 1949 legislation and is an Australian citizen. One may say that it is comparatively easy for these children to come and live in Australia and, after a certain time, become Australians, but this is not always possible. The fact remains that their parents are Australian and one of the five children is Australian because he or she was born after the passing of the 1 949 legislation; the others are not.
All these circumstances indicate to me that we should look closely at the act and do something to remove these anomalies. I know the old saying that bad cases sometimes make hard laws, but although we are jealous of our Australian citizenship we give many opportunities to persons from overseas to become naturalized, and I believe we should amend the legislation so as to make it more flexible and bring it more closely into line with the British legislation, which, I believe, provides opportunities to remove such anomalies as those to which I have referred.
The Australian Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 came into operation in 1949, and I suggest that an apparently quite unjustifiable principle has been applied to British subjects of Australian origin who were living abroad at the time when the act came into force in 1949. Most honorable members probably have the legislation before them and are familiar with its provisions. I shall not read them to the House in their entirety. Section 25 (3.), however, provides: -
A person born outside Australia and New Guinea -
who was a British subject immediately prior to the date of commencement of this Act;
whose father was a person to whom paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of sub-section (1.) of this section applies; and
who enters or entered Australia, shall become an Australian citizen on that date or on the date upon which he enters Australia, whichever is the later.
A person whose father was not born in Australia but is, nevertheless, an Australian citizen, may not become an Australian unless he wishes to reside in this country. Or, alternatively, he can become a British citizen by making application to the British consul in a particular island under the British National Act of 1948.
I see ito reason why, if a person wishes to become an Australian citizen, he should be prevented from so “doing because our act is not sufficiently elastic. It is only natural that most of the people whose parents are Australian, part of whose family is Australian, and who are not themselves Australians should want to be naturalized. I do not think there is anything peculiar about that. They are Australians in every way, and they have no ties with the United Kingdom. Therefore, I do not think that they should be forced to become British citizens if they wish to become Australians. Their descendants can become Australian citizens only by immigrating to Australia with the intention of remaining here. It is very difficult for people who have businesses in the islands of the Pacific and who hold positions in foreign countries to come back to Australia to reside. They cherish their Australian nationality and they want to be Australians. I do not think that we should preclude them from so doing.
The United Kingdom is anxious to limit the number of persons who become citizens of the Mother Country and the colonies under the provisions of the section of the British National Act of 1948 to which I have referred. The attitude of the United Kingdom Government is that when people who are aliens under our act submit applications to the British consul, they should be looked after by the Australian Government, and that the Australian act should protect their nationality. The United Kingdom Government is no more anxious to make them British citizens than we are to accept them although, of course, they can become British citizens by making application to the consul and agreeing to certain provisions under the British National Act. I wish to direct the attention of the Minis ter to this point. 1 have discussed it with him before, but I think that it should be thoroughly investigated. I should be very pleased to hear his comment on my .remarks.
I would be better pleased if the Minister were prepared to amend the act now in order to make provision for those people who I think we should welcome to citizenship, because they are very good representatives of this country in the islands of the Pacific and in foreign countries. They are doing a job of work for this country, and they are representing it very well. .1 think that these people have just as many rights and are entitled to be looked after as much as people who come into (his country and are called, “-new Australians “. We give them all our protection and care, and we are anxious to do all we possibly can to make their nationality clear. I think that we could easily do that as well in the cases I have cited.
– I listened with interest to the remarks that were made by the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth), and I feel, with him, that an investigation should be made into these cases to see in what manner any injustice that has accidently occurred might be righted. The two cases that he mentioned seem to be fairly involved. Whether an amendment should be made to this bill to overcome the position that he raised I am a bit doubtful, because I think that the investigation would take some time. But .1 feel that if the investigation were made .and the full extent of the injustice revealed it would probably be possible, at a subsequent date, for amending legislation to be brought in. Like the honorable .member for Isaacs, I feel that, in this modern world, any person who is left stateless is in a hopeless position. It certainly should be our objective to see that no action on our part could result in any person who is entitled to Australian citizenship being left a stateless person.
I want to express my concurrence with the remarks of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) with respect to our esteemed friend, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer). In all those remarks I cordially concur, and I express my appreciation to the Minister for the kindly reference that he made to myself. I am particularly interested in the Nationality and Citizenship Bill because of difficulties which I experienced in my electorate during last year as a consequence of the existing Nationality .and -Citizenship Act.
In July of last year, representations -were made to me by the then Mayor of Bendigo, Councillor Alec Craig, in which he protested that the act, as it now stands, denies to persons who -become naturalized the advantages held by Australian-born citizens. He strongly urged that something should be done to amend the act so as to provide equal rights for Australian-born and naturalized Australian citizens. A few days before a naturalization ceremony was to take place in Bendigo, six Dutch immigrants, whose names had been set down for naturalization, declined to go on with the naturalization ceremony because they would not thereby secure the same benefits as Australian citizens enjoy. When the ceremony took place in the Bendigo town hall, they were absent.
I attended that ceremony, and I did something which I normally would not do at a naturalization ceremony. Because of the feeling that was evident in Bendigo at the time, I expressed my views on this subject. I informed a large gathering of citizens in the Bendigo town hall that I believed that the Nationality and Citizenship Act should be amended so as to give equal rights to all Australian citizens. At the same time, I expressed the opinion that the Dutch immigrants to whom I have referred had not acted wisely. I believe that, having made up their minds to become naturalized citizens, even though they were dissatisfied with the rights they would thereby acquire, it would have been far better for them to become Australian citizens and then fight for the amendment of the act, than to refrain from becoming naturalized. I felt that, as Australian citizens, they could have presented a stronger case for an amendment of the act. Subsequently, the Shire of Strathfieldsaye, which is in my electorate, requested me to make strong representations to have the legislation amended. Correspondence covering representations made by both the Bendigo City Council and the Strathfieldsaye Shire Council seeking the amendment of the principal act, together with appropriate press cuttings, Was ‘forwarded first to “the Department of Immigration and subsequently to the predecessor of the present
Minister. In view of what transpired some twelve months ago0 when I had the opportunity to express my views :at a meeting of die Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, 1 said that I thought it was desirable from the stand-point of the Australian community and in the interests of migrants who desired to become naturalized .that the principal act should be amended.
A very strong point made not only by those who refused naturalization about twelve months ago, but also by those who accepted naturalization, related to the words used when the naturalization certificate is presented. The person who presides at the naturalization ceremony, whether it is the mayor of a municipality or some one appointed by him, addresses to the person to whom he hands the naturalization certificate words such as these -
I grant you a certificate of naturalization. This is a legal document which shows you have been accepted as a full member of the Australian community and a British subject.
Those who had accepted that as giving them full Australian citizenship naturally felt that they were not receiving a fair go in view of the fact that, for another five years, they were subject to deportation in certain circumstances. My own view is that the five years which a migrant must spend in Australia before he can apply for naturalization are a period of apprenticeship for citizenship, and he has to show by his actions and conduct that he is worthy of Australian citizenship. If we tell him, after he has spent five years in becoming accustomed to the Australian way of life and Australian laws, and in fitting into the Australian community - having been of good character during that period - that he is good enough to become an Australian citizen, he should be an Australian citizen in the full sense of the word. It would be far better, from our stand-point, to make him serve that apprenticeship for ten years - the full period for which he must conform to our laws at present - before he receives the same rights as a citizen born in Australia However, this bill will overcome that difficulty, and will give migrants, as far as can reasonably be expected, the rights of Australian citizenship.
Certain other aspects of the matter should be emphasized, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Australia is one of the leading countries in the world in immigration. We are doing our best to attract to this country from Great Britain and all the countries of the continent of Europe the right type of person, with the right type of skill, to enable us to increase our population and to build up a work force that will give us the very best results in the way of production and progress. In attracting migrants to this country, we should do our best to make them permanent residents of this country. We do not desire that, having come here, they should become dissatisfied and return to the country from which they came. We desire that they shall become permanent citizens of Australia and that, at the earliest possible time, they shall be afforded the opportunity to become integrated in the Australian community by naturalization.
I should like to say, in supporting this measure, that I can think of no greater demand to make on a person than to require him to renounce the citizenship of the country in which he was born. As an Australian, I know that if I were asked to renounce my Australian citizenship I should feel that I was tearing something out of myself when I said, “ I now renounce all allegiance to Australia “. When we ask migrants to renounce all allegiance and loyalty to any other country in order that they may become citizens of Australia, we ought to be able to tell them, immediately they take the oath of allegiance to our own Queen, that they are in every way Australian citizens, entitled to all the advantages and privileges that go with citizenship of this country, and, of course, subject to the responsibilities that go with that citizenship. We must consider this matter from the stand-point of human beings who have torn up their roots in their country of origin and tried to transplant themselves successfully in Australian soil. We must consider human emotions, interest and rights, which are of considerable importance in the renunciation that these people are required to make.
Because I believe now, as I did twelve months ago when this matter was brought under my notice, .that we must give migrants something that will satisfy their human instincts, I am exceedingly glad that this measure has been presented to the Parliament. When all is said and done, the greatest gift that we in Australia can give to anybody is citizenship of this country.
That citizenship carries with it the protection, responsibilities, rights, privileges and other things that go to make up the community of interest that is to be found in the Australian way of life. I believe that this bill will give to migrants a greater sense of security than some of them have had in the past. Except in special circumstances, which are enumerated in the bill in plain language that is easy to follow, they will have all the rights that they would have had in their country of origin, with the advantage, in some instances, of a greater measure of freedom and liberty, and they can feel that in this country they will be able to live the best kind of life.
May I now direct attention to several things that are inherent in the existing law. The renunciation of citizenship of another country and the acceptance of naturalization as an Australian citizen mean, in some instances, that the person concerned will be stateless if he loses his Australian naturalization. This is not so in all instances, because the renunciation of citizenship of some countries does not make a national any less a citizen of his country of origin if the government of that country desires to enforce his citizenship. I can imagine no more hopeless situation in the world as it is to-day than that of a stateless person, with no country prepared to accept or protect him and no authority from which he can claim shelter or assistance. Such a person has no rights as a national of any country. If this measure did no more than prevent the relegation of some migrants to that condition, it would be worth while.
This is an exceedingly worthy measure, and I am glad that the Government has presented it to the Parliament. It recognizes human rights and interest, and because it does so, I express my appreciation of the Government’s action in introducing it. I take the opportunity to express, also, the appreciation of many new Australians in the Bendigo electorate, and I hope that, as a consequence of the implementation of the provisions of this bill, many migrants who are not yet naturalized will come to appreciate the advantages of naturalization and that greater numbers of them will decide to become Australian citizens in the near future.
– in reply - I will not detain the House very long on this matter. I am glad that the Opposition concurs with the Government’s point of view in bringing this legislation forward. Personally, I feel that it will fulfil something which a great many of European settlers in Australia have desired for quite a considerable time. If we are really sincere - as I assume all of us are - when we say that we wish to bring about the quickest assimilation possible of our new settlers now that they have come to dwell among us, this is an earnest on the Government’s part of one of the many ways in which this can be accelerated.
As the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) pointed out, this bill is designed primarily to remove the grievances of our new Australian settlers. It is in that context that I wish to address myself to what my friend the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) has said. I take this opportunity to explain to him publicly what circumstances have prevented me from doing privately: That while I appreciate his private conversations with me some time earlier on the matters that have been troubling him regarding nationality legislation, I did not anticipate that the bill would come before the chamber so soon. Therefore, through no fault of my own, I have not been able to conduct my negotiations with him. However, that will not preclude us, I hope, from continuing our discussions in the future.
The matters that the honorable member raised in his very lucid speech merit discussion and careful consideration. I do not feel, however, at this stage that I would like to commit myself one way or the other. The points that the honorable member has raised involve some intricacy. If they are to be treated seriously, they deserve some study. I hope that he will not press his objection just now to the point of moving an amendment, because I think if he did so, it would be rather outside what is the primary scope of this bill which, as I said a few moments ago, is concerned with removing from the minds of new Australians any impression that they are being discriminated against.
Of course, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is always possible, as the honorable member for Isaacs has said, to quote exceptional cases. I think he used the old phrase that hard cases make bad law. As one who, in my youth, studied the law - although, alas, I confess I have forgotten most of it now - I always thought that that was a very good maxim and it is one of the few maxims that have stuck profoundly in my memory. The honorable member’s contention that the grandchildren of Australian residents abroad would necessarily be advantaged in having every facility possible made available to them to become Australians is arguable. Even people of the first generation, after many years of residence in a foreign country, however emotional and sentimental they may feel towards their native land, nonetheless tend to become assimilated, perhaps unconsciously, to the country of their adoption. I think the honorable gentleman will concede that that argument is inevitably multiplied many times in the case of grandchildren, most of whom, I would take it, might not have seen Australia at all or, if they did, would see it only on transient visits.
Further, it seems to me, in the short time that I have had to consider the honorable member’s complaint, that it is not unreasonable that Australians abroad should be asked to register their children so born. That, after all, is an elementary duty. For the life of me, I cannot see any reason why they should be absolved from having to perform that office. After all, there must be limitations in the way the legislature could be invited to protect the subject - the ordinary citizen - against his own carelessness or even his own folly.
However, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I do not want the honorable member for Isaacs to think that I have a closed mind in this matter. I do not want him to feel that I have animadversions to his opinions and that I have dismissed this matter from my consideration. That is far from the truth. I shall give it the due care and investigation that it warrants, and if I find myself still in this office in another year and if I become convinced on inquiry and further study that his case is sound, I shall be quite prepared to consider afresh some amending legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 20th August (vide page 539)-, on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That, the bill’ be now read a second time.
.- In his second-reading speech on this bill, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) estimated that the amounts payable to the States under the tax reimbursement formula would be £174,600,000; and to bring the amount up to the total that the Commonwealth Government decided to make available to the States, special financial assistance totalling £30,400,000 would be required. The total would then be £205,000,000, The. amounts will be allocated to the States as follows: -
The Opposition does not oppose this measure, but it certainly criticizes the amounts that are to be made available, because it believes they are inadequate.
I emphasize that on this occasion all the States are again budgeting for deficits, because the finance available to them from their own, and from Commonwealth resources combined, is insufficient to meet the increased expenditure required by an increasing population. It is necessary for the States to provide additional facilities for education, health and development. In addition, the Commonwealth’s policy in regard to immigration plays a big part in the States’ financial position, and the Commonwealth should bear that in mind when allocating amounts to the States.
I should like to emphasize the inadequacy of the amount of supplementary assistance being provided on this occasion, by comparing it with the amount made available in 1951-52, when we were going
through a> period of economic crisis somewhat similar to that through which we are going now. In that year supplementary assistance amounted to £33,577,000, or £3, 177,000’ more than is provided by this measure. When> we examine the States’ total revenue, ignoring revenue from business undertakings, we find that the percentage of supplementary assistance has dropped considerably. The figures are -
The table shows that the percentage which supplementary grants form- of the total revenue of the States, ignoring revenue from business undertakings, has been gradually reduced.
Let us consider the total income tax reimbursements, including special financial assistance, together with special grants under section 96 of the Constitution. In New South Wales, in 1952, these amounts received from the Commonwealth represented 63.3 per cent, of the States’ total revenue, excluding revenue from business undertakings. In 1955-56 the percentage had dropped to 60.5 per cent. In Victoria, the corresponding figures were 62.4 per cent, in 1951-52, and 54 per cent, in 1955-56; in Queensland, 61.7 per cent, in 1951-52, and 58.6 per cent, in 1955-56; in South Australia, 65.3 per cent, in 1951-52, and 56.3 per cent, in 1955-56; in Western Australia, 70.9 per cent, in 1951-52, and 68.6 per cent, in 1955-56. Tasmania was the only State where the figures showed an increase. In 1951-52, Tasmania received 50.4 per cent, of its total revenue from the Commonwealth, and in 1955-56, it received 56.2 per cent. I emphasize that the figures for 1 955-56 are the latest figures that can be supplied by the Treasury. I use them to illustrate that the States are now really getting a smaller proportion of their total revenue from the Commonwealth, and I stress again that this year supplementary grants amount to £3,177,000 less than they were in 1951-52, when we were passing through a similar period of economic disturbance.
Inflation, of course,, has caused Commonwealth revenue to jump considerably since- the war years. Although- the taxpayer is getting no more in actual purchasing power in his pay packet, he finds that the depreciated money that he is receiving is putting him into a higher income tax bracket. Consequently, he pays more in taxation, and as a result the Commonwealth Government has been able to reap. more from the taxpayer. I shall- quote one or two illustrations, to illustrate that this is sq. Let us consider, the case of a man, wife, and two dependent children, receiving £150 a year over the basic wage. That man paid £12 in tax in 1949, whereas, to-day he pays £.30 17s an increase, of £1,8 17s., although he. is not, able to purchase with his- money as- much- as he. could., purchase previously. The position simply is that the amount in the pay packet has- been increased. The same considerations apply to those persons who are. receiving higher margins over the basic wage, such as £200, £250, and- £300 per annum. In the lastmentioned instance, the family group consisting of man, wife- and’ three children paid £25; 12s. in tax in 1949, and £41 14s. last year,- an increase of £16. 2s.
I emphasize these points to show that more, is being taken, from the taxpayer. This simply, means, that the Commonwealth is in a better position to meet its payments to the States. In 1955-56, Commonwealth tax collections amounted to £997,200,000, or two and a quarter times the collections at the end of the war. In the same year, the States raised £74,200,000. In order to illustrate how the position has changed, I point out that in 1.938 the Commonwealth raised £11,500,000 in income tax, and the States raised £30,000,000 from the same source. This year, Consolidated Revenue is expected to amount to £1,302,100,000, over £610,000,000 of which will be from income taxation. From that amount, the States will receive £287,500,000.
It, will be. seen that the expenditure of the Commonwealth is out- of all proportion to the amount that is. allocated to the States in. various ways. The method of financing the States is. crying out for. a change. The position simply amounts to this: The Commonwealth has been raising millions, of pounds of surplus revenue, lending portion of it to the States at 5 per cent, interest, and from the balance financing its own works free of interest. In October of last year I asked the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) what amount of. loan interest, was paid by the Commonwealth Government in the years 1949-50 and 1956-57: His answer was that in 1949-50, the Commonwealth paid in interest an amount- of £57,421,000. In 1956-57 it was £60,980,000, an increase of £3;500,000- in actual amount over that period of years.
The second part of the. question was
What was the- amount- of loan interest paid by State governments?
The- answer- showed; that in 1949-50 the States paid £27,733,000, but by 1956-57 it had risen to £68,009;000. That was a- rise of over £40,000,000, or two and a- half times as: much, compared with- the Commonwealth increase of- £3,500,000. This comparison shows what is happening in that, regard.
This. year, the States are. receiving £210;000,000 for public works. Some of this amount will be paid from loans and some from Commonwealth funds, but. the States will be required, to. pay. 5 per cent, interest, which- will amount to about £10,000,000. It has already been pointed out that about half the interest bill will be paid to the Commonwealth. The £L10,000,000 which the Commonwealth proposes to borrow by. way of treasury-bills will carry 1 per cent, interest, so that the Commonwealth’s^ interest bill will rise by about- £1,000,000. The. Commonwealth will off-set this by lending money to the States at 5- per. cent. The Commonwealth will receive about £5,000,000 in. interest from- that source. On that- little transaction the Commonwealth, will show a profit, at the expense of the States, of about £4,000,000!
I suggest that where public works are financed from surplus revenue the States should not be charged interest at all; and where the public works are financed by way of treasury-bills at 1 per cent., as appears to be the intention on this occasion, no more than, that rate should be. charged to the. States.. I cannot understand, when we are all: part- oft one family, why the Com,monwealth should be crippling- the States- in this way;
According to the latest issue of the “ Australian Financial Review “ this increase in the interest commitment by the States to the Commonwealth wipes out a large part of the increased grants to the States from the Commonwealth. Between 1951-52 and 1957-58 the total gross interest payments made by the States rose from £56,000,000 a year to £119,000,000 a year. Over the same period, grants from the Commonwealth Government rose from £162,000,000 ot £272,000,000. About half of the increase in the States’ interest commitments was due to the Commonwealth and the rest, of course, went to the public in respect of loans. Therefore, while the gross increase in Commonwealth grants to the States over the period was £110,000,000, the net increase was probably little more than £70,000,000 because the rest of it was swallowed up in increased interest payments which the States had to meet.
It appears to me that the Australian Loan Council is becoming a farce. It is supposed to be a national body representing the States and the Commonwealth, with the responsibility of arranging the nation’s finances. But actually the States fight very hard for the finance they need, and the Commonwealth decides just what they will have. When the council was formed in 1923, the then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, said that there would be no dictation on the part of the Commonwealth. A similar assurance was given in 1929 when the Australian Loan Council was re-formed on a different basis. But the Commonwealth, at meetings of the council, has two votes and each State has one vote, and when the voting is even, the Commonwealth has a casting vote. The position is that, in actual fact, the Commonwealth has three votes and needs the support of only two of the States if it wants to get any particular matter carried. This was emphasized in Part C of the Statement of Financial Results attached to the Budget speech of 1957, when the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) said -
At a meeting in June, 1956, the Loan Council approved a resolution providing for a governmental borrowing programme of £210,000,000 for State works and housing in 1956-57. The Commonwealth did not support this resolution but indicated that it would be prepared, subject to certain conditions, to make monthly advances to the States at an annual rate of £190,000,000 for the first six months of the financial year, after which time the position would be reviewed and the extent of Commonwealth assistance to the Loan Council programme determined.
In October, 1956, the Commonwealth agreed to make available to Western Australia, from its own resources, an additional amount of £2,000,000. This increase, which had been agreed to in principle by the other Premiers at the June meeting of the Loan Council, raised the annual rate at which the Commonwealth was making advances to the States to £192,000,000.
After reviewing the position in January, 1957, the Commonwealth informed the States that it would be prepared to continue making advances for the remainder of the financial year at the annual rate of £192,000,000. At a meeting in May, 1957, the Loan Council decided that the approved borrowing programme for 1956-57 should be £192,000,000.
That shows that although the Australian Loan Council had determined that the amount should be £210,000,000, finally the Commonwealth had its wish and that as the result of getting two of the States to come around to its way of thinking, it was able to reduce the amount which the States considered was essential to enable them to carry on.
– But the loan market often decides that.
– The loan market does not necessarily decide it at all, because the Commonwealth provides additional funds where necessary to build up the amount, as it has done in the past and is doing on this occasion. But the point is that the amount which the States are receiving is not sufficient. Loan allocations depend actually on the political opinion of whatever federal government is in office. If it is opposed to an extensive programme of public works, that view is paramount, and the States are denied their sovereign rights - that is, State governments are unable to act as elected governments.
The policy of Labour governments is to develop public works in order to relieve unemployment wherever possible. But this government’s policy is against that. It simply tightens up the amount of funds to be made available to the States. The unemployment that exists at the moment clearly indicates, in my opinion - and I think it is the opinion of honorable members who really appreciate the position - that the States require more funds. The existing figure of registered unemployed is 62,975, but at this time last year it was 51,262. If we compare the two periods, the figures show that during the intervening twelve months the number of unemployed has increased by 11,713. It is true that there was a drop on the July figures, but if we analyse the figures year by year we find that there is always a drop in the months of August, September and October after the passing of the winter slack period, which is really the bad time through which we go. From then on the figures continue to improve, but they get bad again at the end of November. I should not be surprised if this is the reason why the Government has decided to hold the elections on 22nd November before the employment figures for that month are published. When they are published, I feel certain that the people of Australia will get a shock.
But what I am emphasizing is that the comparative figures for the specified period this year, the year before and the year before that, show that the unemployment position is getting worse each year. That is why I suggested to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) that the monthly report containing figures of those registering for employment, those receiving the unemployment benefit, and vacancies should show a comparison with the figures for the corresponding month of the previous year. That is the only way of making a true analysis of the trend of unemployment.
Surely the time has come when the public works programme should be financed to take up the slack of unemployment. The loan programme this year, as I have already mentioned, involves a sum of £210,000,000. The amount provided in 1951-52 for the loan programme was £223,700,000, which was greater than the amount being provided for the loan programme in this year. I am making my comparisons with 1951-52 because the situation now is similar to that which existed in 1951-52. If we are not prepared to do something about the growing unemployment in our midst, as we did in 1951-52, then we are not doing the job that we should be doing.
Since the war, nearly three-quarters of the Commonwealth’s public works programme has been financed from surplus revenue. Consequently, we have no real worry about the national debt if we want to develop a more extensive public works programme now. In 1938-39, the net interest paid by Government authorities represented 5.1 per cent, of the gross national product. In 1957, net interest was 1.7 per cent, of the gross national product, or a third of the percentage in 1938-39. It is true that under this Government’s management the loan market is not what it should be; it has been destroyed to a large extent. However, steps should be taken to revive it, and if that is done we will have ample funds for government expenditure on public works.
There is no shortage of jobs to be done. I have emphasized before in this chamber the importance of the standardization of rail gauges. It is true that this Government at long last is doing something about it. I am very pleased to know that the WodongaMelbourne section is well under way. However, other links can claim equal, if not a higher, priority. For instance, the Broken Hill-Port Pirie link is very important and should be started as quickly as possible. Similarly, a start should be made with the Kalgoorlie-Fremantle link. That would give us a standard 4-ft. 8i-in. rail gauge linking all capital cities right across the continent. Work on these links was recommended by the transport committees from each side of the House. When the Premier of Victoria pushed for the WodongaMelbourne link to be started, he said that he wanted the work to commence so that unemployment in that State would be relieved. In its report tabled here some twelve months ago, the government committee said that the Kalgoorlie-Fremantle link should be proceeded with to relieve unemployment, because unemployment was pretty bad at that time. If something could be done to start work on this link, the serious unemployment position that has developed in Western Australia would be relieved.
Rail standardization to my mind is one of the most important public works that we have, and it should be proceeded with very quickly. Apart from that, of course, we need more hospital accommodation, more schools anc? more roads. I direct attention to an extract from the “Australian Financial Review” of 11th September, 1958. Dealing with State and Commonwealth financial relations, the following comment was made: -
These profound and harmful difficulties which haunt the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States are partly the reflection of a deeper problem.
While it seemsthatwe can always find finance for cars we cannotfind themoney forthe roads thecars are to be driven on. While there is no shortage of finance for refrigerators, children have to go to school under the trees or in cloakrooms. Household appliances can be had on no deposit but thereis a grave shortage of available credit to finance the houses where the appliances are to be used.
The Commonwealth should do more to assist the States, particularly as the populationhas increased greatly. There , are also other bigger avenues of development. I do notsay that they are onthe same scale as the SnowyMountains scheme, but they are of a similarkind. One that I have mentioned repeatedly in thisHouse is the Ord River development scheme. To complete it would not take asmuch money as is expended on the Snowy Mountains scheme in one year.
Unemployment is greater now than it was last year, and I fear that if this Government is returned to office unemployment willbeeven worse next year. It is reasonable to expect theCommonwealth to provide sufficient finance to increase both Commonwealth and State public works programmes in orderto relieve unemployment. A programme for the future should be laid down.Blueprints shouldbeprepared, because a public works programme cannot be started unless much preliminary work is done. We should look ahead.
I want to say a word about the special needs of Western Australia. The latest report on unemployment submitted by the Minister in the last few days shows that the percentage of unemployed persons to the work force is greater in Western Australia than in any other State. Western Australia is sharing in the loan funds and tax reimbursements proportionately with the other States, in accordance with the formula. Two years ago, Western Australia received an additional grant of £2,000,000 to meet its special needs. Unemployment is worse now than it was then. At the end of August, according tothe Minister, the registered number of unemployed was 6,497.
– In Western Australia?
– Yes. The figure for August, 1956, was over 5,000. At the present time, benefits are being paid to 3,219 unemployed persons in Western Australia, compared with only 2,000 in August, 1956. That indicates that the position is worse now. If we look at the figures recorded in the review of the employment situation, we find that in New South Wales the number of persons registered for employment represented 1.6 per cent, of the work force. The percentage in Victoria was 1.4, in Queensland 1.5, in South Australia 1.4, in Western Australia 2.3 and “in Tasmania 1.7. Those figures establish that the position in Western Australia is worse than in other States. This warrants special assistance being granted to that State. Reliable authorities in Western Australia say that 3.5 per cent, of the work force is unemployed. Special circumstances apply in that State. It is not a highly industrialized State, like the bigger eastern States, and consequently the policy of credit restrictions, increased interest rates and lack of funds for development affects it more than it does the other States. Development in Western Australia has been mainly in the field of primary production. In trade with other States, it usually has a surplus of imports. In 1956, the surplus was £53,000,000 in favour of the eastern States. This means that money from Western Australia helps to maintain employment in those States. At the same time, Western Australia usually has a favorable overseas balance. In 1956, the overseas balance in Western Australia’s favour was £21,600,000. That, of course, assists Australia’s exports generally.
Western Australia is the largest State in the Commonwealth, comprising about onethird of the total area of Australia. It has a small population, and therefore the costs of government and development are very high. The small population means that there is a small local market. That is one reason why industry is. not developed there to the extent that we would like it to be developed. However, it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth to see that no State suffers in comparison with the other States. There should not be any greater percentage of unemployment in Western Australia than there is in any other State. Really, there should not be any unemployment at all, but the fact that Western Australia has the biggest percentage of unemployment shows that this Government is not playing the game as far as that State is concerned. Western Australia’s economy is vulnerable. Being a primary producing State, itsfinancial position depends largely on the movement of international prices for primary products. If there is a further fall in overseas prices, Western Australia will ; be hit still harder. Surely nobody can say that that : is the fault of the Western Australian Government.
One matter that I want to stress is the need to solve the problem of railway deficits. If this problem were solved the financial problems of the States would be largely solved. The Commonwealth should enter into negotiations with the States with the object of taking over the State railways systems. If railways throughout Australia were a ‘Commonwealth concern, run as efficiently as the CommonwealthRailways are run, there would be one Commonwealth Railways Commission, with deputies in each State, one chief civil engineer with deputies in each State, and one chief mechanical engineer, with deputies in each State. There would be a greater possibility of an early reaching of our aim of a standard gauge throughout Australia, greater use of diesel-electric locomotives, and an extension of the pick-a-back and container services, which mean more efficient railway transportation. Bulk loading wagons would greatlyhelp in cutting down rail transport costs. Less rolling-stock would be required. With a standard rail gauge throughout Australia engines, carriages and trucks would pass across theborders of the States instead of having to stop at the borders. At present the Central Australian Railway system is completely cut off from the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge system of New South Wales. The Wodonga-Melbourne standard gauge link, whichis under construction, simply means that the break of gauge will beat Melbourne instead of Wodonga until the other non-standard gauge lines are standardized.
An important factor to which we should be turning our minds is that a unified railway system will enable usto lower transport costs, which recent figures have shown to represent one-third of our gross domestic expenditure. In 1953-54 the total expenditure on transport in this country was £l, 305,000, 000. That amount could be reduced by an efficient, co-ordinated Commonwealthcontrolled transport system. I mean transport not only by railbut also by sea. What Australia needs is transport co-ordination. Ifwe could only reduceour transport costs by one-third, on the basis of the total cost in 1953-54, we would save £435,000,000. Even then our transport costs would be double those of the highest comparablecountry, which is Canada, where transportcosts represent 10 per cent. ofthe grossdomesticexpenditure. A reduction in our transport costs would have a most important effect on our economy.
This is a national problem that is crying out for a national solution. If we could only solve it we would solve many of the States’ difficulties. Apart from that, I feel that there must be a better understanding of the States’ financial difficulties, and an early and urgent move made to bring about better financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States. All the States are now mendicant States. They have to go cap-in-hand to the Commonwealth to get the finance that they need. In effect, they have lost their sovereignty and become the puppets of the Commonwealth. I do not think that they or the people will be prepared to put up with that position for much longer.
– I congratulate the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb)on having shown the House that he is a very capable spender. I am not sosure that he is an equally efficient earner, because he did not tell us where all the money is to come from to finance all the extra works that he wants to put in hand. He has very good backing from the Labour party, which isrepresented in this chamber at the moment by only two of its members.
– The others are watching a division in the Senate.
– They would be better employed looking aftertheir own interests in this House. To a certain extent I agree with the honorable member for Stirling that this bill is very important. With all due respect to honorable members, I wish it were not being treated in this House as merely a formal measure. The attitude seems to be that this is just a bill consequent upon the Budget and that it has to be passed. Like many other honorable members, I do not think that the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States are in a very healthy state. For a long time past, there have been arguments about uniform income tax and discussions about the formula. I am one of the few honorable members in this House who have sat in this chamber as a State representative at Premiers conferences and been told by the Prime Minister of the day - not the present Prime Minister - that the vote on a proposition by the States is in the affirmative but that the answer to the proposition - the provision of funds - is in the negative. In other words, the Corn, monwealth Government has complete control at present over the whole of the business of the States. I think all honorable members will agree that that is not a healthy state of affairs, and that they would like to see restored to the States at least a larger measure of responsibility for raising the money that they say they want to spend.
I do not think that we can hope for any alteration in the present uniform income tax system. This matter has been before the Parliament and before the public for up to ten years. Committees of inquiry set up to investigate the matter have submitted reports and have asked for guidance on certain matters, which was never forthcoming. After all the endeavours that have been made to change the present system, if we are honest with ourselves we must admit that, despite what we may advocate, there is no real chance of getting any alteration in the system of uniform income tax as we have come to know it since the days of the last war. On various occasions State Premiers and Treasurers have met in conference with representatives of the Commonwealth Government and have suggested alterations to the formula. But having regard to the way the voting goes at Premiers conferences, I do not think anybody believes that there is any chance of the formula being altered. When the Commonwealth Grants Commission recommends the handing out of a further £20,000,000 or so to three States after the original allocation has been made, there is no reason why those three States should want an alteration of the formula. Let us be honest: As a practical measure you cannot get the unanimity of opinion among the State Premiers which would encourage any Commonwealth Government to alter the present formula. Not only has the Commonwealth Government complete power over how much is to be allocated, as we can see by the amount of additional special financial assistance that has been granted each year for the last few years over and above the formula, but we also are now invading many new State spheres of administration.
This bill, which was introduced by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) does not seem to have aroused the interest of any senior member of the Government, because not one of them is present in the House. I am not criticizing the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall), who is at the table. He is doing a good job. There seems to be a complete lack of interest in what I regard as the most important domestic problem in Australia to-day, the financial relations between the States and the Commonwealth. Each year the Commonwealth Government says that the formula is out of date and that it provides only a rough basis on which the Government can decide how much the States are to get. This year the Government goes to the extent of giving an additional £30,000,000 over and above the formula, which represents one-sixth of the amount already granted to the States under the formula. Could anything be more explicit? Could it be said in any more direct form that the formula is woefully out of date and inadequate for the purposes of the States? Tt is now not a matter of operating under the formula; it is a question of how much the Federal Government decides the States need.
In these circumstances we find various things happening. I direct attention to the universities grants legislation. Although T am not complaining about the amount of £20.000,000 or £22,000.000 that we granted to the States for universities expenditure. I remind honorable members that in each State the general public contributes a certain amount towards university funds, and sometimes towards their upkeep, bv the establishment of various trust funds or scholarships. Then the Federal Government contributes a certain amount, but the State governments are mainly responsible for the running of the universities. Any one who studied the relevant figures would agree, I think, that Adelaide had done a better job for its university than the other cities had at the time the University Grants Bill was passed. I believe Melbourne had done a reasonable job; but if one examines the figures and sees what the public has subscribed and what has been done, one must agree that Adelaide, or South Australia, had done most for its university. But under the universities grants legislation Adelaide was given the worst deal of all from the Federal Government, simply because the community in that State has made the finest effort. That is not a fair way for the Federal Government to deal with the States. Without mentioning names, I may say that the State that I consider to have done the worst for its universities, having in mind the resources that were available to it, has received the best deal of the lot.
At the same time we told the States that we felt that salaries of university professors should be increased by £500 a year or some similar amount. We generously said to the States, “ We will contribute £1 for every £2 or £3 contributed by you”. We offered to pay either a third or a quarter if the States contributed the rest of the money needed to increase these salaries. After the salaries were increased, the Federal Government received back iri increased taxation from those professors more than the amount that it contributed to enable their salaries to be increased. Quite frankly, we put a confidence trick over the State governments. I am not saying that an increase in the salaries was not justified, but we said to the states, “We will be magnanimous and pay a proportion of the amount required “, and then we received in revenue more than we gave to the States.
– But the professors got a higher net result.
– I am simply saying that the increased taxation they paid to the Federal Government was greater than the amount contributed by this Government to enable the salaries to be increased.
– Would the honorable member call that high finance?
– Well, I do not think it was quite a fair thing to do to the States.
The other day in this House the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Townley) made a statement that I had been wanting to hear for a long time. I mentioned this matter during the last Budget debate, but I did not know the actual amount involved. The Minister said, quite clearly and distinctly, that we are already subsidizing civil aviation to the extent of approximately £10,000,000 a year. He made the statement, I think, in answer to a question as to how the airlines were going to finance the purchase of new aircraft. Some suggestion was made of giving them extra financial assistance, and the Minister said quite clearly that we are subsidizing the one form of transport under the control of the Federal Government by £10,000,000 a year. This amounts to just over £3 for every passenger stepping on a plane.
I, like every other honorable member in this House, want to see air transport used to develop and assist the outback. I hope that Australia can and will remain in the front line in the field of modern transport facilities. But do not let us forget that we do not run the State railways. When we subsidize inter-capital city fares to the extent of over £3 a passenger, we are taking away a lot of revenue, whether rightly or wrongly, from the State railways. I am merely telling honorable members the result of this practice; I am not criticizing the subsidization of air travel. In the result, a good deal of revenue is taken away from the railways, which cannot compete if air fares are almost as low as rail fares. Here again we step in and very vitally affect the State governments. I know that honorable members will tell me that the State railways are subsidized because their deficits are financed through the State budgets. This does not alter the fact that the Federal Government’s subsidization of air travel is as high as £3 a passenger, which has a very important and damaging effect on the State budgets.
There are other ways in which we are making money available to the States. We are financing the States in the housing field. We are assisting them in projects involving standardization of rail gauges. Of the total amount required for rail gauge standardization in Victoria and South Australia, the Federal Government pays 70 per cent, and the States 30 per cent. We do other things which result in upsetting State budgets to a considerable extent. Without offering any criticism or suggesting that the practice is right or wrong I remind the House that we set a standard of public service salaries that cannot be followed by the State governments because the amount of money we allow them is not sufficient. The salaries in the Commonwealth Public Service become higher and higher. Greater and greater pressure is brought to bear on the States to increase their own public service salaries, and to do so they must incur deficits.
For these reasons, I feel that the time has arrived when the whole question of financial relationships between the Commonwealth and the States should be reviewed. I know of only one expert body that has had sufficient experience in this field to carry out such a review. Although man persons would say that this particular organization is not perfect, I- suggest that no human commission is ever perfect, and I suggest that the Commonwealth Gran*Commission could do the job, either under the powers given to it through its present charter or by further powers conferred upon- it if necessary. The commission’s charter now empowers it to inquire into and report upon: -
Commonwealth for the grant by the Parliament’ of financial assistance in pursuance of section 96’ of the Constitution;
I’ should very much like to see the commission undertake the review that I have sug-gested. Honorable members may suggest another body to carry out the task. I do not say that the Commonwealth Grants Commission is; the only- body that can do it,, but it has had wide experience in investigating the finances of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania over a long period of years, ft is in close touch with State budgets and State finances, because it compares what is happening, in the way of State taxation, in the claimant States with what is happening in the same fields in Queensland’. New South Wales and Victoria. These States are not yet claimant States, although I frankly told the Victorian Government, “ If you feel that you are not getting a fair deal from the Commonwealth, it is no use waiting for an alteration in the uniform, tax. provisions,- and it is no use thinking, that there wilh be an alteration of the formula. My advice is to take your case to the’ grants- commission, which is the only independent body capable of deciding whether you are getting a fair deal at present or not “.
Sitting, suspended from 6 to- 8 p.m.
- Mr. Speaker,, before the sitting was suspended for. dinner, I was appealing to honorable members of. this- House- to take a greater, interest in the Commonwealth-State financial relations. Not many honorable members have had the benefit of even a short period’ of service in State parliaments and, as a result, I think there is a general tendency on the part of federal members - as shown by the honorable member for Went’ worth (Mr; Bury) in his question earlier to-day - to fail to appreciate the difficulties in which the States become involved’ under the existing Commonwealth-State financial arrangements.
I did: not criticize- the amount allocated for this year. I did: not feel that I had sufficient figures or that I- had made sufficient investigation to be able to- say whether that amount, in- the aggregate, was sufficient: or not. But- I pointed out that the formula- itself- is- obviously completely outmoded’, owing, to the fact that-,, during the last eight” years or- more,, the- Federal Government has, in every case,, allocated considerably larger sums than those which would have gone to the States under the formula. I pointed out how the State finances had’ been affected by the subsidy of £10,000,000- a year, paid by the Federal Government for State civil- aviation, without saying that I did not approve of such subsidies or that we did not want to- see aviation advanced, so that the outback areas might have better transport. I merely stated the facts.
II pointed out what had happened with regard to the universities. For instance, the State of South. Australia had done more in community effort for its university than had any other State. As a result, when we made extra grants for the universities, Adelaide came off worse than any other city. The State that did least for its university got the biggest grant. I pointed’ out that we had said to the States, in effect, “ If you raise the professors’ salaries by £500, as we think they should be raised, we will pay £1 in £3 towards the extra cost “. The result was that the increased income tax which the Federal Government, or all of us as members of the Federal Parliament, obtained in the federal coffers was greater than the proportion that we paid of the increased salaries. In other words, we said to the States, “ You have to increase the professors’ salaries, but it will not cost us anything. Although we are giving you this amount towards the increase, we will make a profit.”
I have referred to the standardization of railway gauges, in respect of which we are helping South Australia and Victoria. It all points to the fact that we are tending every year more and more towards unification, as distinct from a federal system of government. In Canada, the British North American Act gave the original powers to the Federal Government which then allocated certain powers to the States, which is the reverse of the position under our Constitution. Yet, the provinces of Canada are better off with regard to their finances than are the Australian States. The Canadian provinces have been given a wider field in which they can operate and be responsible for raising their own finances. The provinces fix the amount that they want from either sales tax or excise duties - I forget which - and the Federal Government collects it for them.
If the Australian States genuinely want to raise their own revenue and to be responsible for its expenditure, why could not some system of this nature be arranged? But there seems to be no sign of anybody wanting to do this. The position is very largely the reverse. I suppose that we have given some sort of rough justice to the States, but there is no standard of measurement by which the States know what they are going to get. Everybody admits that the Premiers conference are just a waste of time. The Federal Government decides before the Premiers come to Canberra what allotment will be made to them. It would be much cheaper to do it by telegram than to bring all the representatives of the States here and have their civil servants sitting around in what might be called, in a debating society, “ A Mock Parliament “. I appeal to all honorable members to try to understand a little more about the difficulties of the States.
I feel that ‘this Government has done a first-class job in the economic field. I am not criticizing it or the amounts that -have been allocated to the States. But I am suggesting that with this system of “ by guess or by God “, under which allocations to the States are made each year, the States are not getting a fair deal. I do not think that uniform taxation will ever be altered by any government. I do not think that the formula will be altered by any conference of Premiers. There are too many people profiting at the expense of others -to get a vote in favour of altering the formula.
As I said earlier, before the suspension of sitting, the only independent expert body to which this question could be sent for report is the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Whether the charter of the commission would have to be enlarged slightly or not would not matter. The members of the commission could be appointed a committee of inquiry instead of sitting as .the Grants Commission. These people have had a lot of experience. They have investigated the budgets of three States every year and have compared them with those of the other three States. They have stated in their reports how much the States raise in taxes per head of population. Except for Tasmania, Victoria has raised the highest amount of taxation per head, yet that State is one of the worst off at present.
These people, as an expert body, could furnish an independent report to inform us and the public of their opinions. The onus would still remain on the Federal Government and the Parliament to either accept or reject their recommendations. But it is no good going on blaming uniform taxation, the formula, or anything else for the difficulties of the States. I have said to Victorian State authorities, “ The only body that you can appeal to is the Commonwealth Grants Commission. You should ask it for a grant. If your case is good, a grant will be made. The Federal Government has never yet turned down the commission’s recommendations. If you can get a grant, that will bust the whole show wide open because then New South Wales and Queensland will apply for grants and the Grants Commission will have to report as to what it thinks is a fair allocation for all the States “.
But it would be far better if, as I suggested in the first place, we asked the commission to report on methods and fields of taxation and name some of the fields in which the States could set the rate of tax even if the Federal Government had to collect it. I do not care whether this would need a constitutional amendment or not. I believe that we will not get responsible government under the federal system as long as one government collects the taxes and other governments spend them. Collecting their own taxes would make the States more responsible. It might result in a rate of excise on liquor in one State different from that in another, or something of the kind, but we should achieve what I think has happened in Canada to a much greater degree, namely that the States would have a wider field in which to collect their own taxes, and they would have a far greater sense of responsibility because they were raising more of their own taxation.
Let me refer to the pay-roll tax in order to give one instance of what is happening. The Commonwealth collects, I think, about £12,000,000 to £15,000,000 in pay-roll tax annually from State and municipal authorities. We then hand it back to the States in the extra amount over and above the formula that we give them. Why should we go to the bother, and accept the responsibility, of collecting it only to hand it back? There are many facets of taxation in respect of which this sort of thing happens and in respect of which procedures could be simplified with a saving of expense to the taxpayers.
Let me quote the example of the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956 in order to indicate what happens now. The Federal and State governments were to share equally any profit or loss on the Olympic Games. In mentioning this, I do not suggest that I, as the chairman of the Games, was affected personally, because I was not. Neither government would do as had been done in England, and forgo taxation in connexion with the Olympic Games, because each government was afraid that the other would gain some advantage from such a course. As a consequence, the Olympic Games Organizing Committee paid out some £80,000 in amusement tax and nearly £100,000 in sales tax, customs and excise duties, and other taxes. It even went so far as double customs duty on films. We had to get special film from Germany for the filming of the games, and we paid customs duty on its entry. After the film had been used, it had to go back to Germany for processing, and we paid customs duty on it again when it was returned to Australia after processing. I mention these things in order to emphasize that the Victorian Government could not afford to forgo any taxation. It had to get all it could. Each government, as I have said, was afraid that the other would get some advantage.
In the light of these circumstances, Mr. Speaker, I ask members of the Government, and members of the Parliament generally, not to look on the States as a lot of crybabies. They have big responsibilities. When the reimbursement formula was devised, there was no such thing as immigration, which imposes a much greater burden on the States than does the natural increase of the population. The influx of migrants creates a great demand for schools, hospitals and other social services immediately. Other circumstances also have changed in recent years. Surely, after the time that has elapsed since the introduction of the formula, we are not afraid to have the best, available independent expert body report to us and give reasons for its recommendations so that this Parliament may at least understand better the position in which the State governments find themselves. If we understood their situation better, they would not feel that we were treating them just as outlaws - or as teenagers, as it were, dependent on an allowance of so much a year provided by way of these grants. They would feel that we had a genuine interest in their needs. A report such as I have suggested would probably enable us to devise a satisfactory scheme. Even if we did not accept all the recommendations of the expert body, we could probably allow the States a wider field of taxation within which they could vary their taxation revenue according to the dictates of their individual governments, good or bad as they might be. At any rate, we should have greater responsibility all round.
.- Mr. Speaker, what a pity it is that Australia did not begin as a Commonwealth, instead of becoming a Commonwealth so late in its history as it did! I often think it is remarkable that this problem of financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States is allowed to drag on from year to year as it does. Similar problems do not arise in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, because there are no State governments in those two countries. Australia began with States, and they delegated powers to the Commonwealth. Had we begun with a Commonwealth, it would have delegated powers to the States. As a consequence of the way in which administration has developed in this country, we have the constantly recurring problem of how to strike a happy balance under the reimbursement formula that has come into existence since uniform taxation was introduced in 1942. I for one hope that uniform taxation will never be abandoned. I agree with the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) that it will remain. But I do not think that the reimbursement formula should be as unchangeable as the laws of the Medes and Persians. It should be reviewed often, just as we frequently review other financial agreements and arrangements.
Victoria, I think, has a just complaint about the formula. That State certainly does not get back under the formula anything like as much as it contributes to the national coffers in taxation. Tasmania, on the other hand, gets from the Commonwealth a lot more than it pays in taxes under the present arrangements.
– Is not State taxation higher in Tasmania than in Victoria?
– I am not sure. If uniform taxation were ended, taxation in Tasmania would have to increase nearly threefold in order to raise the same amount as that State gets now under the uniform taxation system. In the light of these circumstances, the smaller States would not, I should think, favour reverting to the old system of double taxation, which, in any event, was clumsy.
This bill indicates, Mr. Speaker, that tax reimbursement grants in the current financial year will total £205,000,000 or £15,000,000 more than those of last financial year. An amount of £30,400,000 is being given to the States by way of special financial assistance. This is £6,300,000 more than the special grants made last financial year. I hope to show, as I proceed, that this increase should really be twice as great.
– Why not make it four times as great?
– 1 have just suggested something that would give a good round figure. Tasmania’s share of the total grant will be £6,718,000, and it will receive £1,074,000 of the special grants. Because of the desperate unemployment situation in Tasmania - it is probably worse there than in any other State - Tasmania should receive a special grant of £500,000 in the same way that Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland received special grants in recent crises. I believe that these extra funds should be devoted to housing, because I think the housing position in Tasmania is as critical as is that in any other State.
Some aspects of the Tasmanian economy at the present time are of interest. Unemployment there now is the worst since the war began in 1939 - the worst for nineteen years! There are 2,400 workers unemployed throughout the State, 500 being registered as unemployed in Launceston alone, and 400 in the building , industry alone. That is significant, as I shall indicate directly. In the last six months, more unemployed workers have called to see me at my office in Launceston than called during the previous eleven years that I have been a member of this Parliament.
– My experience has been similar.
– The position in the Bass electorate is similar, as my colleague has indicated, and I suppose that the situation is much the same in other electorates throughout Australia.
How can we go on absorbing more migrants in a situation of depressed employment, Mr. Speaker? Hundreds of these men who are unemployed are married and have home commitments. No doubt many of them have become caught up with hirepurchase commitments for the necessaries of the home. This is natural, because hire purchase is the poor man’s mortgage. Immediately the bread-winner of a family becomes unemployed, most of the articles bought on hire purchase, revert to. hirepurchase companies, and great trouble and worry come to the home. In my view, unemployment in a young, expanding country like Australia is criminal, and. it indicates the hypocrisy of the highfalutin talk that we hear in this Parliament about prosperity and stability in the economy. I” say quite deliberately that no nation in which the government cynically accepts a. pool of unemployed - and that is what this Government is doing - can boast that it has a truly stable economy.
The only answer to the country’s present malady is more finance or credit, which should be channelled towards the weak spots on the economy. These are housing and the building industry, and public development projects such as road’ works, hydro-electric schemes and harbour improvements. We cannot force private enterprise to take up the slack of unemployment, because it is a law unto itself. Public money or bank credit should be released into the economic bloodstream where it can do the maximum, good: No industry affects more people or employs more people than the: vast building industry of Australia with its myriad ramifications. To-day I addressed to the Prime Minister, in his capacity- as Treasurer, a question in the following terms: -
I ask Him to inform me how the chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board can reconcile his. recent statement that central- bank advances are designed to halt unemployment and stimulate, housing in view of the following facts - (a) that the. registered unemployed still number more than 60,000; (b) that the- number of employees in the building industry working on new buildings declined by 2,200 during- the first, quarter, of 1958 and such workers are still being put off work;, (c). that permits for the construction of new buildings m. the six capital cities are the lowest for three years. Will, the Government, through the- Commonwealth Bank Board, insist that advances: toprivate banks be channelled into housing as a top priority; that is, into areas where the economy is_ weakest?
The Prime. Minister cynically passed: the question off and indicated that the- Government, had nothing to do with the financial affairs of- Australia. The right honorable gentleman said, in effect, “ What have we to do with the Commonwealth Bank Board? I cannot take responsibility for it. I cannot answer for Dr. Coombs “’. The Government will do nothing about it. The bank board acts as a- buffer between the people and the Government: and does what it likes.
The Government claims that it has no control over the advances made by the private banks. The Government claims that the banks are not acting under any instructions from it. The private banks can do what they- darned well like with advances, and that is what they are doing now.
– What will the Labour party do with them?
– I will tell the honorable member in a moment The Government takes no responsibility for the destination of released central bank credit. If the Australian Labour party were in office, there, would, be no Commonwealth Bank Board for a start, but a free, untrammelled Commonwealth Bank with a chairman and executive carrying out the policy of the government of the. day, which represented the people of the country. It would be a true: people’s bank, acting for the people and giving credit where it. was wanted most. There would be a flexible banking systemdesigned to cover all weaknesses in the economy and bringing to practical fulfilment Labour’s great axiom: What is physically possible must be financially possible. That will never be achieved while this Government remains in office, pushing banking outside the field of government.
Central bank credit, would be released, under a Labour government, to the private banks and they would be required - and. might- be- even instructed - to- channel it into: projects of national importance, which, would employ Australians gainfully and enable us to absorb immigrants without putting Australians out of work and- without injury to our economy. We would channel such credit into housing, the building industry, public works including roads, post office expansion and: shipbuilding. But this Government leaves everything i’ngloriously to private industry, and private enterprise does what it darned well likes about the channelling of credit. Most of it: is going into hire purchase at enormous rates of interest. Honorable members on the Government side do not like this criticism and they show it by a babble of interjection.
Let me refer to housing. In Tasmania, the housing situation has deteriorated through lack of finance. In 1951-52, 1.667 new private homes were built. The number had fallen in 1957-58 to 1,188, a decrease of nearly 500 in five years. In 1951-52, 518 government homes were built, compared with 154 last year. The reason for the decline was lack of finance, not because of a lack of will to build houses.
– The same applies in every State.
– Yes, every State could tell the same story. This drastic decline is taking place when housing needs are greater than ever and great numbers of migrants are coming to Australia.
There is another aspect of the same problem to which I wish to direct- attention. In March, 1951, there were 1,744 working contractors and sub-contractors in the building industry in Tasmania. In March, 1958, the number had fallen by 382 to 1,362. In March, 1951, there were 5,213 employees in the building industry in Tasmania and last March the number had fallen by 1,323 to 3,890. Those figures are taken from the “ Monthly Review of Business in Tasmania No. 156 “. They are official figures. As the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) has said by way of interjection, many building contractors have gone bankrupt.
In Tasmania, the Agricultural Bank builds homes without a deposit. Tasmania is the only State in Australia that has that arrangement. The Agricultural Bank makes loans for the purchase of farms through its Rural Credit Department. It makes money available for housing loans so that folk can build their own homes. For this financial year, £2,200,000 is available for all the Agricultural Bank’s business. There are 850 applicants waiting for housing loans but only £600,000 is available in the next twelve months for that purpose. A leading officer of the bank told me recently that only 25 per cent, of the housing applications will be satisfied in this financial year; that is about 215 of the 850 on the list. This is a major catastrophe, because 635 applicants will have their hopes and plans dashed to the ground because of lack of finance. The director said that he could allocate £1,000,000 in this field in two weeks if he had the money. We have just spent £60,000,000 in sending the missile known as the Black Knight into outer space.
– We did not find all the money.
– Perhaps not, but we found’ a lot of it The total cost of that project was £60,000*000.
– It might save Australia.
– Rubbish! These are the wretched bottlenecks in the housing industry. That is why there is so much unemployment in that industry. But this Government shrugs its shoulders and thinks it has fulfilled its obligations by this special grant to the States. We need in Tasmania a special grant of £500,000 to overcome this problem. Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria received special, grants. All the time the costs of educa-tion, State social services and hospitals are rising.
In Tasmania in 1952-53, we spent £1,393,660 on 23 ‘ hospitals. In 1956-57 we spent £1,684,570 on 26 hospitals. The daily average cost for each patient was £3 2s. 9d. in 1952-53 and £4 13s. 4d. in 1956-57. I was chairman of a hospitalboard, for six. years, and I know that we have done everything possible to pare our costs, but- we could not prevent the gradual increase. The position is the same in all States. That is why I say that the special financial assistance grant should be doubled.
I desire to spend my last quarter of an hour speaking about the mining industry in Tasmania. We have about 250 coal, miners in our State and they are all in my electorate. Two or three very good coalmines have been opened recently but they are starved because of lack of direct financial aid for the provision of inlet and .outlet roads and other needed amenities. hope the Department of National Development will help the mines which were last opened. They are working very good coal indeed, the best in our State, and they should receive some financial assistance from the Government.
Mineral research in Tasmania is hamstrung because of lack of money. I shall tell the story of the first discovery of nickel in Australia. A Mr Vladimir Pitulej, a scientist and geologist from Poland, came to Tasmania seven years ago. He was the Director o.f Geology in Poland, before the Russians went in and took over that country. I know him personally and he is an amazing man. He has founded the Ben Lomond Mining Company to help him in his survey for minerals in Tasmania. In the last four or five years he has discovered uranium - for the first time in Tasmania - silver lead, nickel - the first discovery in Australia - chromium, cobalt, tin, graphite, ilmenite, . and elemental sulphur. The most significant discovery has been of nickel, with chromium and cobalt in association, about four years ago, in my electorate, near Beaconsfield in northern Tasmania. The area of the deposit is 640 acres, and tests have been conducted for four years. It is estimated that nickel worth £42,000,000 is in the area, or enough for 40 years’ working. Mr. Pitulej has perfected the cheapest method known to scientists for extracting this nickel from the soil. Only a few months ago he produced the first raw nickel produced in Australia, in the presence of our Premier, the Hon. Eric Reece.
– Are you reading that speech?
– Never mind whether I am reading it or not.
Order! The honorable member for Lilley is out of his place.
- Mr. Pitulej is at present in the process of obtaining patent rights from the Commonwealth. With this new process he can make a deposit with a nickel content of 1 per cent, a profitable undertaking, and the Beaconsfield deposit shows a content of 1.5 per cent, of nickel. Scientists tell us that in future nickel will be more important than uranium. Nickel is to the steel industry in Australia as salt is to a human being. It is the most versatile mineral in the world. Now it has been discovered for the first time in the Commonwealth, and as we have a brilliant geologist and scientist on hand to develop it, federal and State financial and technical aid should be given unstintingly to this project. The Broken Hill Company Proprietary Limited, for instance, requires 600 tons of nickel annually to strengthen and toughen steel. The company could use more than this quantity. At present Australia imports 1,000 tons of nickel annually, at a total cost of 100,000 dollars, mainly from Canada. We could save this dollar expen diture by developing our Tasmanian deposits, and we could produce enough nickel for all our needs.
Chromium, in association with nickel also has been discovered at Beaconsfield. Australia needs 9,000 tons of chromium annually, and at present 90 per cent, of our requirements is imported. The Tasmanian Department of Mines, the Commonwetlth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the Bureau of Mineral Resources, and the University of Melbourne have been most helpful to Mr. Pitulej in his discoveries and experiments. It is tragic that this man has no facilities or laboratory for his experiments. In fact, all his experiments so far have been done in the back yard of his home in Launceston, with the help of Mr. Oliver Harvey. If he were in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, just imagine the facilities that he as a scientist would be given! He would have his own laboratory, a high salary, a big staff, finance, a car, and everything else he needed. We in Australia complain about the lack of scientists to match the Russians, but what are we doing for the scientists that we have? It is a disgrace to Australia that a man like this should be forced to experiment in the back yard of his home.
– The honorable member is praising Russia!
– Praising Russia, my fat aunt! Mr. Pitulej has spent £6,000 of the funds of the Ben Lomond Mining Company to prove and test the nickel. He is trying to raise £50,000 from private people to begin the mining and treatment of the Beaconsfield deposit. It will be an open-cut mine, and a model of the plant he has designed is being built now at Devonport. For £50,000 he can supply all Australia’s needs of nickel, but no financial aid has been given to him by the Federal or State Governments.
Who imports our nickel at present? W. R. Wright and Company of Sydney are the sole importers. They are tied up with Wiggin and Company of England, which company is a subsidiary of the great International Nickel cartel. Wright and Company import annually 1,000 tons of nickel at £500 a ton and sell it in Australia for £2,240 a ton. The headquarters of the International Nickel cartel is in Canada. It controls the entire deposits of nickel in
Western countries. International Nickel has heard of Mr. Pitulej’s discovery. The president of the organization wrote to him for details. I saw the letter. Mr. Pitulej did not give International Nickel any information. Two or three weeks ago a top man from International Nickel arrived in Tasmania to try to find Mr. Pitulej in order to interview him about his deposits, but he could not find Mr. Pitulej, and he will not find him, for obvious reasons. Mr. Pitulej has no intention of selling out this deposit to the international cartel. If this cartel got control of the deposits at Beaconsfield it would close them down immediately, as oilfields in Australia have been closed by overseas interests, and a potentially great new Australian industry would be stillborn. It is to Mr. Pitulej’s credit that he is not prepared to sell his interests to any international cartel.
I appeal to this Government to help him in this fight to save this industry for Australia. It is up to the State Department of Mines and the Federal Department of National Development to give all possible financial and technical aid to this new discovery. They should let him have boring plant to further test the deposits. Fifty test holes have been put down to a depth of about 5 feet, but it is desired to make further tests. We must save this industry from strangulation by the international nickel octopus, and we want to save it for Australia alone. I suppose that if we achieved that, it would be the only mineral of world importance saved for our own country. At present, nickel is produced in Cuba, Norway, China, New Caledonia, India, Alaska and Canada.
I raise this matter to-night in discussing financial aid to the States, because I believe that it definitely comes within the scope of special financial assistance to the mining industry, and I appeal to the Government for aid. I know that Senator Spooner has been helpful to Mr. Pitulej. He cannot go into Tasmania without an invitation from the Tasmanian Mines Department, but when he gets that invitation he is prepared to put plant into Tasmania in order further to test the nickel deposits. This is not a laughing matter, although Government supporters appear to think it is. As the scientists tell us, nickel will be more important in the future than uranium. That is an amazing statement, but I have it from a top authority. Having discovered nickel in Australia, it behoves us to do all we can to safeguard it for the future. We should help this man and his colleagues to the very best of our ability so that, in the years to come, we may get all the nickel possible out of that deposit.
.- I listened with considerable interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) and particularly to his plea on behalf of a very able gentleman in Tasmania who is attempting to establish a mining industry there.
– It was a plea on behalf of private enterprise.
– I am indebted to the honorable member for Maranoa for that suggestion. Undoubtedly, the honorable member for Wilmot made a plea to build up private enterprise in Tasmania because the Labour government there has done nothing to assist this man to establish his industry. The honorable member addressed a very strong plea to this House and to the Government to do something for this man, but he made it in the wrong place. His plea should have been made to the Tasmanian Minister for Mines or to the Tasmanian Government in the Tasmanian Parliament, where the responsibility for the matter completely rests.
– Not entirely.
– The honorable member now qualifies what he said previously and confirms what I have said. He says, “not entirely “.
– The Commonwealth Government is responsible for assisting this man in Tasmania.
– It is the Tasmanian Government’s responsibility to assist him. It is only when a matter is beyond the capacity of the State government to do something that it should appeal to the Commonwealth for assistance. The honorable member has not suggested that that has been done. I ask him what has the State government done, in the first place, to assist this man. 1 suggest that the Tasmanian Labour Government has refused to help him, and possibly other representatives from Tasmania agree with me. The honorable member urged the Commonwealth Government to spend money to assist scientists in valuable experimental work, but a little earlier he condemned Australia, Great -Britain, the United States of America and other western democracies for spending money on valuable experimental work in the exploration “of outer space. “He condemned them for devoting money to scientific purposes. But he did not condemn the Russian people for ing in Tasmania would receive better treat, doing that. Of course not! He said not one word about that! But he suggested that ment in Russia than he could obtain in the ‘gentleman whose cause he was espousthis -country or in the western democracies.
– Quite right, too.
– Order! The honorable member for Wilmot has made his speech.
– The honorable member suggested that the western democracies should attempt in some small way-
– We are short of scientists.
– Order! The honorable member for Wilmot must be silent. “Mr. LESLIE. - Of course we are short df scientists and the honorable member should know that the reason for that shortage is that we look at our problems in an overall way. Our problems have been down-to-earth ones and we have attempted to deal with them by raising the standard of living for the average man on the ground. We have not denied a reasonable standard of living to the man on the ground by devoting all our time to scientific experiments in space. I ask the honorable member to compare living conditions in the western democracies with those of Russian workers. In Russia the main interest has been in scientific space experiments, and the man on the ground, the ordinary worker, has suffered. This Government adopts a human attitude. Let the honorable member remember that.
The honorable member went into some detail to tell us what the Labour party would do in connexion with banking if and when it came into office. The details he gave about banking boards and the rest were quite unnecessary padding in his speech. He needed to say only one thing to sum up his remarks on this subject, “We will nationalize the banks”. He might have added that if the Labour party could not do this b” constitutional means it would do it by the abolition of this and the introduction of Something else even though its methods would be unconstitutional. The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts), who is interjecting, apparently disagrees. I am only analysing the remarks of the honorable member for Wilmot to let the people of Australia know what a threat will face them if the Labour party is returned to office.
The honorable member raised again his cry about unemployment. That is the tragic cry Which has been constantly coming from the Opposition benches. Undoubtedly there is unemployment, as there always has been. There will still be unemployment to a major or lesser degree according to the seasons and circumstances in our country, but is it necessary for us to be constantly calamity-howling about it?
– No, just forget it!
Mr. -LESLIE.- We do not forget it. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) is the only Opposition member who has really dealt with this problem which is constantly before us; but I remind honorable members opposite that the plight of many workers would, have been a jolly sight worse than it is to-day but for the economic measures adopted by this Government.
But what are the facts? Are members of the Opposition really sincere in their expressions of sympathy for the unemployed or are they determined, above all, to make sure that the prosperity plan of this Government will be undermined in some way? They are out to destroy the confidence of the people in the country, in their investments, in their security and in the assets of the nation. They are seeking also to wipe out completely the confidence which overseas investors have in the security and stability of Australia. They hope by fostering discontent and unrest to provide a fertile field for the introduction and application of socialist-cum-Communist doctrine in this country. The only way they can do it successfully is to destroy the confidence of the people. Because such a field does not exist they are seeking to create an artificial field by constantly talking about imaginary difficulties and disabilities in our country.
– We do not need to hide the fact of unemployment.
Mir. LESLIE. - The Government is not hiding that fact, either. I do suggest that if the 1 honorable member happens to have a dirty shift in ‘his house he does not go out into the street and parade it and so give the people an opportunity of saying what an awful man he is. The honorable member stays at home and washes the shirt. So, when this ‘Government finds a little flaw in its system it tackles and remedies it; and the Government does not get on to the housetops and boast of what it has done.
Mr. Speaker, I now want to deal with the bill. The previous speaker dealt with the subjects to which I have just referred so I make no apology for replying to him. The bill seeks the approval of the House to the payment of special financial assistance to the States over and above the amount provided under the tax reimbursement formula. An estimated sum of £30,400,000 is to be paid to the States, and my own State of Western Australia is to receive £2,397,000.
If I were a member of the Opposition and if I were purely a parochial man, I would howl straight away, “ Not enough “. However, as a man of responsibility, I look at the position factually. Of course, it is not enough, but I say that in a responsible way, bearing in mind the whole of the economic circumstances. Even the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) will agree that there is not an individual in the world who can get as much as he wants, just when he wants it. That is the position we must face. This Government is in exactly that position, and so are the State governments. If every one could do everything that he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it and had the means immediately available to do it, there would be no incentive and nothing for us to do. The country has to be governed just as a wise housewife must govern her house. Priorities must be assessed and the most urgent needs dealt with first.
I was rather interested to hear the concluding remarks of the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) who comes from my State. I am not too sure where he stands on uniform taxation. In the early part of his speech he spoke about centralized authority and said that it would be much better if we had only one Com missioner for Railways to ‘run all the railways of Australia, and one engineer. He advocated a single and centralized authority. The House should consider the possibilities of that suggestion and see how practical such a proposition would be, apart from the dangers that may be involved in it. I do not say that the present position is as satisfactory as it could be, but the honorable member spoke about a concentrated centralized authority.
In the concluding portion of his speech he condemned the system of uniform taxation and the manner in which money is allocated to the States. He said that the States had to come cap in hand to this Government, that they were mere puppets in the hands of this Government, and they were not prepared to stand it much longer. Just what is the idea? Does the honorable member suggest that the States at long last will make up their minds as to whether they want taxing powers returned to them? So far, not one State has made up its mind on1 that question. Has the honorable member pre-knowledge on this matter? I suggest that it is time the States made up their minds and said where they stand.
The present position is not a very happy one. The Parliament- I say the Parliament rather than the Government - has the responsibility to maintain the financial stability of the Commonwealth. Yet it has very little say in the way the country shall ultimately be run. One State or a combination of States, by an unwise action, could well mar the efforts of this Parliament and this Government to maintain the prosperity, the stability and the progress of the country.
I was most intrigued by the remarks of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), who said that the States might consider the question of selectivity in the field of taxation and decide what taxes should apply and the degree to which they should apply in the respective States. I can see some usefulness in this suggestion. In the days when the States had their own taxing powers, one State might decide that a low rate of income tax and a high rate of indirect tax would be the best economic policy for the development of the State. Another State might decide that its industrial . development had progressed to such a degree that there was .not much hope of attracting further capital and that, therefore, it could afford to impose a high rate of income tax and a low rate of indirect tax. If the honorable member for Griffith, who is interjecting, looks back to what happened previously, he will find that some of the States that are now moaning about the formula attempted to compete in the way I have suggested. The honorable member is expected to learn a little history when he is elected to this place; otherwise, I suggest that he is not a very worthy member.
When the States were competing with each other, one State imposed a low rate of income tax in an effort to attract industry from other States. It may be that a State would do that in order to build itself up in a certain direction. The application of uniform taxation over this vast continent could well be a handicap in certain States or in certain areas. The suggestion of the honorable member for Chisholm is worthy of some thought by the Government, by the Parliament and by the States. The possibilities should be investigated to determine whether it would be wise to adopt the suggestion and whether it could be done constitutionally. It is a matter which might well be considered by the Constitution Review Committee. Like the honorable member for Chisholm, P am anxiously awaiting the report of that committee.
I am not so much concerned with taxing powers and who raises the taxes as I am with the spending powers. That is the vital issue. If we have lavish and extravagant expenditure by the States, by the Commonwealth or by local authorities the money must be found, and obviously high rates of taxation must be imposed. If we have reasonable, economic and sound expenditure one feels that taxation is justified, even though in certain circumstances it may be high. However, if spending is properly controlled, we can safely say that our taxation will be reasonably low - as low as any government can make it. I cannot see very much possibility of taxation being reduced while the people who spend the money come to the Commonwealth, not cap in hand, as the honorable member for Stirling suggested, but as a child to its mother and father saying, “ I must have more pocket money so that I can have a good time.” The spending of money must be controlled.
I believe that there is a tremendous amount of wasteful and unnecessary expenditure through an overlapping of functions between the Commonwealth and the States. Apart from any recommendations that may be made by the Constitution Review Committee, and any action that may result from its report, the wisest thing that we can do is to have a look at the functions of the Commonwealth and the States. I am sure that no elaborate review of the Constitution, or a referendum would be needed to divide the functions between the Commonwealth and the States. The division is not clear to-day.
I believe that one of the greatest necessaries to-day, apart from constitutional reform, is a system of liaison between the Commonwealth and the States. To-day, nobody in the Commonwealth Government knows where the States want to go, because no official information is conveyed to the Government to indicate the direction in which the States believe their destinies lie. The Commonwealth Government is responsible for the economic stability of the States, but it has no knowledge at an official level, or otherwise, of State planning or State thinking. A State may desire to take some action in the national interest, and perhaps the Commonwealth could assist it in taking that action; but because there is no liaison between the Commonwealth and the States, the Commonwealth is unaware of the proposed action and the very valuable assistance that might be given by the Commonwealth is not forthcoming. Because there is no liaison between the Commonwealth and the States, the Commonwealth has no knowledge of ways in which it might assist the States without trespassing on their sovereign powers. The Commonwealth has no way of knowing how it could assist the States to progress and build up their prosperity.
– The Commonwealth imposes taxes on the States, and then makes grants to the States in order that they might pay those taxes.
– That is so, and the mere provision of a grant of money does not always answer the problem. I remind honorable members of the papers, tabled yesterday by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), relating to an application by the Government of Western Australia for a permit to export iron ore to Japan. That is a rather sorry story. I think that in this matter, closer liaison between Western Australia and the Commonwealth could have achieved a more successful and satisfactory result, both to Western Australia and to the Commonwealth from a national standpoint. That matter illustrates the sort of thing I am talking about. All the grants in the world will not overcome this problem.
I do not want honorable members lo think that I am being parochial in my remarks when I say that Western Australia offers the greatest opportunities for land development in the Commonwealth. It is quite beyond the resources of the Government of Western Australia to develop the State properly. We should have a civilian land settlement scheme along the lines of the present war service land settlement scheme, but that is beyond the capacity of the State. Finance would be involved, and there should be liaison between the Commonwealth and Western Australia so that Western Australia’s ideas can be discussed, not formally in correspondence sent over a distance of 2,000 or 3,000 miles, but at round table conference at which the Commonwealth can be told by the State what it wants to have done. Because honorable members are not sufficiently well informed they cannot assist their own States in making representations to the powersthatbe in Canberra. Very often such assistance, because of our personal knowledge of local circumstances, could be effective in bringing about a more satisfactory result. Therefore, I submit that there should be a straightening out of the States functions, followed by the establishment of some body in which there would be complete liaison between the Commonwealth and the States. In that way the Commonwealth and the States would not be working against each other, as appears to be the position to-day, but would pull together in the national interest. The desires of the States would be known to the Commonwealth and it could give assistance. The desires of the Commonwealth from a national point of view would be known to the States, and the resistance that now exists in the States against Commonwealth proposals for a planned prosperity in this country would disappear.
I have referred to land settlement and the success that could be achieved if there were proper liaison between the Commonwealth and the States. Other benefits would flow from a better relationship between the States and the Commonwealth. We must bear in mind that whilst Western Australia and other States do obtain benefits under the existing grants arrangement - not only from the grant that we are considering in the bill now before the House - there is the possibility that the States may be suffering as a result of the arrangements that exist between the Commonwealth and the States to-day. 1 do not want to be misunderstood when I refer to the Australian Loan Council. I should not like to see the splendid work of the council minimized in any way, nor would I like to see its operations discontinued. The Loan Council came into being as a result of the efforts of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) many years ago. It has placed the loan raisings of this country on a very sound footing. But because a State is tied to the Loan Council system it could be losing opportunities to obtain on its own initiative money for development. I confidently believe that that is the case to-day in Western Australia. That State is a land of opportunity, the speedy development of which is limited only by the finance available to it. If sufficient finance were available, all kinds of sound developmental projects could be undertaken.
Things have changed in Western Australia since the days when we could not borrow more than a few shillings. Western Australia is the biggest producer per capita in the Commonwealth. It has a very high rate of export. Its economy is so sound that it is attracting business investments from overseas. Development is now needed, but Western Australia has not the money with which to finance it. I am confident that if an arrangement could be made whereby Western Australia could, on its own initiative, obtain loan money, great progress would be achieved. There is so much confidence in Western Australia’s future that it could obtain money for specific purposes at any time. Proper liaison between the Commonwealth and the States would enable a problem such as the one now facing Western Australia to be dealt with, if it is possible to deal with it within our constitutional limits. That would be better than having the matter discussed at a Loan Council meeting or Premiers
Conference and having official correspondence pass between the Prime Minister, the Premier, and people at high levels. Proper liaison, between the Commonwealth and. the States is worthy of- consideration. The Commonwealth cannot continue to be the source from which all blessings flow, as is the case at present. Under the Government that has been in power for the last nine years, and which will continue in power, these blessings have been mighty and will be mighty in the future. But we cannot continue on this basis if those upon whom we bestow the blessings do not use them in the best interests not only of a particular State but also of the nation as a whole.
We must have a national outlook and we must have co-operation between the States. I do not mean that we should have centralization- or unification, which would put us in a jolly sight worse state than we are at present. However, I do not propose to debate that aspect of the matter, because if I did I would deny Opposition members the opportunity to make any remarks at all on the matter, because there is no possible argument against the contention that centralization and unification must be avoided. But a national outlook, together with co-operation between the States, would allow us to go forward in real unity, as a nation, stronger and more prosperous than we are to-day.
In this connexion let me mention to honorable members that we have heard various statements with regard, for instance, to housing. It is said that we must cutdown our immigration programme because of the housing problem. We are told that we should cut down this or that activity because of the housing shortage, and that we should nationalize the Commonwealth. Bank because of the housing problem, but there is no housing problem in Western Australia.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this bill. I do not intend to follow closely the lead that has been given by others. I must say, however, that the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), was on the right track when he said this afternoon, and again this evening, that honorable members should strive for a better understanding of the problems of the States than many of them, have at present. I have had experience in both State and Commonwealth spheres, and I know what the position is.
The measure that we are discussing tonight does not deal with the actual tax reimbursement formula. What we are discussing arises from the fact that the amounts provided under that formula are insufficient to meet the needs of the States. The Government has agreed with the contention of the State Premiers that something must be added to the amount provided under the formula. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has told us that he cannot say exactly how much will be given to the States under the formula. That amount must be determined after investigations by the appropriate officers. The Treasurer has said, however, that the total amount that will be provided under the tax reimbursement formula this year is estimated to be £174,600,000. I believe the States are quite right in saying to the Commonwealth, “ We are not getting sufficient from the revenues gathered- by the Commonwealth. We are not getting a sufficient proportion of the taxes that are collected “.
The legislation before us is designed to bridge the gap between the estimated £174,000,000 that will be’ distributed under the formula and £205,000,000, which is the total amount to be granted to the States. The special grant will amount to about £30,000,000, which is a little more than one-sixth of the formula grant. This indicates, to me at any rate, that the formula that we are using at present provides a good deal less money for the States than they require. The £205,000,000 to be provided for the States will be distributed amongst them in the following manner - leaving out the odd thousands of pounds: -
The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie), said, towards the conclusion of his speech to-night, that we must look at these matters from a national standpoint. On this, aspect I quite agree with the. honorable member.. But he then expressed himself in opposition to. anything in the way of unification. I know that he does not believe in unification, but as I consider the matter now before us, and have in mind the extra £30,000,000 that is to be paid to the States, it seems to me that some degree of unification is inevitable, whether we like it or not. Over the years, many people have spoken to me about unification and federation. I have told them that unification is Labour’s policy, but that we cannot achieve unificaton by direct legislative action because of constitutional provisions. We can go only so far as the Constitution will allow. But, as I have said, that does not worry me in the least, because unification will come about gradually, and is coming about gradually, whether we like it or not.
Our friends opposite chide us on being socialists. They say they do not want socialism - and I notice an honorable member of the Australian Country party nodding his head in agreement with that remark - yet we find that we are to have a wheat stabilization scheme. This is particularly strange when we see that the proposal has the approval of the Australian Country party, although I do not want it to be thought that I am condemning the. members of the Australian Country party for their approval of the scheme. Let me say, however, that a few years, ago we were discussing in this. House the fruit industry, the wheat industry and other primary industries, and the present Minister, for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) said he believed in the right of the individual to control what he produced. He said that the commodities a man produced belonged to that man, and that he should be able to sell them for what he liked, because the goods were his and no one should interfere with him. But to-day honorable members opposite are supporting a wheat stabilization scheme.. They will say to the man who grows wheat, “ You cannot sell that for what you like; you will have to give it to us and let us seU it “.
– The scheme was approved by the growers.
– I do not suggest it was not approved by the growers, but is it any less socialistic because of having been approved by the growers? The whole matter of unification is closely connected with the question of what is in the best interests of the community. There is no question of the fact that if we are to have the best for the community we must institute some system of control. Whether we like controls or not, we must have them.
In this regard let me speak about the poultry-farmers. When I was in the South Australian Parliament there was a time when the Liberal-Country party group had a majority in both Houses. The majority in the Legislative Council was sixteen to four. The Government said, “The egg producers are not getting a reasonable price, so we will appoint an egg board “. This board decreed that if a man kept more than twelve fowls he would have to send his eggs to the board and accept the price decided by the board. The producer would have to sell in the market selected by the Egg Board. He could not sell his eggs to the local grocer without the permission of the Egg Board. That was the position under State legislation. Later, when I came to the Federal Parliament I found that although the States had their systems of controls of the poultry industry, we also had Commonwealth control. As I consider the trend of events, it appears to me that the policy advocated for years by the Labour party - call it socialistic if you like - is the policy adopted by the non-Labour parties when they come to power. The measure before us deals with the formula to income tax reimbursement to the States. What brought about this formula? Why was: it needed? It became necessary because the Australian Labour party, when it was in- office, decided upon uniform taxation.
– As a war-time measure.
– It does not matter whether it was a war-time measure or not. Labour decided upon uniform taxation intending that, after the war, the States could recover their taxing rights if they so desired. I d’o not think that the honorable member can question that statement. It is correct.
There is a saying that the Deputy Leader oi the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) once used, and which members of the Australian Country party quote very often, to the effect that once the eggs have been mixed together it is a job to unscramble them. I would not like a return to the system of taxation that existed before the introduction of uniform taxation, not because it is in accordance with the policy of my party, but in the interests of the future of my State of South Australia. I remember the conditions which existed before we had uniform taxation and before special grants were made to the smaller States. I remember the difficulties that the State Labour Government experienced in relation to taxation.
In South Australia before uniform taxation, from time to time the Labour party had a chance of winning a majority in the Legislative Assembly. But never in our history did Labour win more than five seats out of twenty in the Legislative Council, which has to pass every bill that was passed by the Lower House before it can become law, I remember a time, during the depression, when we did not have enough money coming in to meet the needs of the State. The Labour Government would have raised taxation in order to give a better deal to the people, but the members of the Legislative Council shook their heads, and it was not possible for the State Government to increase taxation.
In Queensland, where there is only one House, the elected Government imposed taxation. When uniform taxation was introduced, the taxation reimbursement formula for the distribution of taxes collected by the Commonwealth was introduced. I think that Victoria bemoans this a lot because until the introduction of uniform taxation, the Victorian Government collected rather more in taxes in relation to its needs than did the other States. The Victorian Government alleges that, as a result, it has been paying the penalty ever since because the formula is based on the amount that was formerly collected by each State in taxes.
Day after day, during this session, petitions have been presented to the Parliament by tens of thousands of people from all over Australia praying that more shall be provided by this Government for education. We have received petitions from all over the country praying for increases in pensions. The people have made their appeal, not to their State governments, but to this Parliament. Various motorists’ roads associations have sent printed pamphlets to every member of this House, stating that they want the Government to provide tens of millions of pounds to the States for road maintenance and construction. They say that this is a defence matter, or some other matter. They contend that it is not a State matter, but a federal matter.
Financial aid has been requested for hospitals, although the States are not prepared to transfer the control of hospitals to the Commonwealth. A similar position, exists in relation to housing. All the States keep asking this Government for additional assistance. These claims have not been put forward merely by socialists in the Labour party. They have been made by big bodies of people many of whom oppose the Labour party and vote for members on the Government side of the House. Every time that one more person gets the idea that the Commonwealth should assist in another sphere of activity is another step towards unification. I can see that the people of this country are gradually forming the impression that we are not merely a number of States grouped together, but a nation.
I hope that the Constitution Review Committee will soon furnish its report. I am very deeply disappointed that we have not yet received the report. I do not want to condemn any member of that committee, but as it was appointed by this Parliament, its duty is to present its report before this Parliament is dissolved. The members of the committee may say that they have good reasons for not having prepared the report. It has been said that we will receive a report and that, perhaps, we may be able to deal with some parts of it. But this Parliament will conclude its sittings in a few weeks’ time. The report of the committee should be presented to us before then. I am prepared to say to any member of that committee that I think that its members, as a body, have fallen down on the job because they have not yet presented a report to his Parliament.
I do not know whether the committee has dealt with the raising of revenue by the States. I do not know what it has done. That is what hurts me. It has gone all over Australia and got all the information it could, yet we have no idea what the committee intends to recommend. Some of the committee may not be returned in the new Parliament. We do not know. However, I do not want to continue with this subject. I know that the committee comprises members of the Labour party as well as members of the Australian Country party and of the Liberal party. 1 am not making a party affair of it, but I think that the committee has not done its job, because it has not furnished its report. It may be said that I .am speaking too soon, and that we shall get the review committee’s report within the next fortnight, before the life of this Parliament ends. I hope we do, but, whenever the report becomes available, I shall be extremely disappointed if nothing comes of it.
Honorable members should realize that, as the honorable member for Chisholm has said, uniform taxation will probably not be abandoned. Some years ago, when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that, within the next year or two, the Commonwealth would take action in conjunction with the States in order to do away with uniform taxation, I just laughed quietly to myself and decided that I would wait and see when it would come about. I recall the Premier of my own State, South Australia, talking about the State getting back its taxation rights, and how, in many public statements that he has made since, he has indicated very clearly, by implication if not in plain terms, that he would not like to return to the situation that existed in South Australia before the advent of uniform taxation. I remind the honorable member for Moore, just as I would remind any one in South Australia, that under the uniform taxation system all the States have been able to do many things that they would probably not have been able to do if they had been left to depend on their own taxation resources. That is my candid opinion about the consequences of uniform taxation. By that, I do not mean that I am satisfied we have done all that we should have done or could have done, but I firmly believe that the uniform taxation system, under which the Commonwealth makes reimbursement grants to the States in accordance with the formula, together with special grants, and under which the three smaller, or claimant, States have their budgets supplemented each year by the Commonwealth, has been worth a great deal to the country and to Australians individually.
It may be said that, in respect not only of South Australia but also of other States, there is a weakness in a system that allows a State to spend money with the thought that it can get from the Commonwealth whatever funds it needs. A claimant State can do that only if it is able to satisfy the Commonwealth Grants Commission that the charges it makes for the services that it provides in the way of railways, water supply and sewerage, and other undertakings under State control, other charges such as wharfage dues, to give one example, and the taxation that it imposes, compare with those in the larger States. Unless a claimant State can satisfy the Grants Commission of this, it will not receive grants such as the claimant States now get.
I am not altogether sure whether the special grants recommended by the grants commission come within the scope of this debate, Sir. I look upon them as being one of the greatest contributions that we have made to Australia’s greatness. Before these special grants were paid to the claimant States, South Australia could not pay its school teachers as well as school teachers in New South Wales and other States were paid. South Australia was unable to do a hundred and one things on a comparable basis with the other States. Under the uniform taxation system, South Australia may not be able to pay higher salaries than are paid in other States, but it can be assured that it will receive assistance from Commonwealth revenue if it is unable to balance its budget. This situation has done much to put the people of South Australia on a comparable basis with the people of the other States.
The business expansion in South Australia since the introduction of uniform taxation has been remarkable. It began during World War II., largely because South Australia offered many favorable sites at a distance from the sea coast where factories would be safe from enemy attack. This led to the establishment of big munitions factories in South Australia. When the war finished, the buildings in these establishments were made available to overseas firms as an inducement to them to establish branches in South Australia. This was of great benefit to the State, and set it on the road to prosperity. Since the war. a great many new industries have been established there, but ;I do not .think that the State would be as prosperous, or would have so many industries as at present, had it not been for the introduction of uniform taxation by the Curtin Labour Government and the sound administration of the Chifley Government.
The scale of the special grants to be made indicates that the Commonwealth admits that the States need more than is provided forby the reimbursement formula. We have heard much high-pressure talk, and seen displays of power politics accompanied by requests ‘for more financial assistance to the States for the provision of schools, hospitals, homes and State social services as distinct from those provided by the Commonwealth, as well as for developmental works. I look upon those things as constituting the staircase up which we have walked in order to get this increase over the formula grants that has been paid to the States by the Commonwealth. This Government has said that, in the current financial year, even though it will collect less in taxation than it collected last financial year, it will increase the reimbursement formula grants by some millions of pounds. The Commonwealth is saying, in effect, that although the financial harvest will be reduced, it realizes that the needs of the States are greater than they were, and that it should give them more funds. And the extra provision will help materially, Sir.
It is not my purpose this evening to say what Labour will do if it is elected to office. I cannot tell the House just what Labour will do in that event, but I do know that it will ‘attempt at least to give everybody the greatest possible share in the prosperity and productivity of the country. That is the principle for which I stand, and I do not care what name is given to it. This country should give to the pensioners and others in need as much as it is possible to give them in order that they may lead decent lives. We should do for them whatever economics will permit, but we cannot put everybody on an equal footing. This brings me to mention the wheat industry. We know that wheatgrowers’ associations have asked for a few pence more a bushel to be allowed for the cost of production. We know, too. that that will not be equitable to all the wheat farmers. It cannot be? A farmer whose family has owned his land for -/generations, and who owes nothing on it, has a cost of production - based on his real costs and not on the book value of his land - far different from that of, say, a man put on a block under the Australian Mutual Provident Society’s scheme in South Australia, where, on a block of 1,000 acres, there is an overhead of perhaps £20,000 when the settler goes on it. The economics of his property, and his cost of production, are very much different from those of the man whose family has had his land for 50 or 60 years - land on which he owes nothing and incurs only the ordinary annual taxes and charges. As I have said, I know that one cannot make everything the same for everybody. But we should try to set a standard, and help everybody as much as we can.
I know that the grants provided for in this measure will not give the States all the help they need. T know, too, that even if the grants were increased by 50 per cent, the States would need still more. In any field of activity, the more funds one has, the more one incurs items of expenditure that had not been thought about before. When a person gets something he did not expect, he does not like to lose it, but looks upon it as his entitlement.
I came to this House from a State parliament and I say that we should stick to uniform taxation so that every part of the Commonwealth will get an equal deal. We in the Australian Labour party believe that not enough has been done for the States. I make no bones about that. More should be done for them. That applies particularly to the return to them of revenue derived from taxation. I object strongly to the proposition of the present Government to the effect that when the States cannot raise enough money by loans, the Commonwealth will underwrite the loans and lend the money to. the States. The Government does not raise the money by treasury-bills, but takes it from the taxpayers and then lends it back to the States, but charges them 5 per cent, interest and also requires repayment. I question the soundness of that policy. I know that this year the Government will raise moTe than £100,000,000 by treasury-bills but I do not like the system.
– Order! The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- The honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) has looked upon the complexities involved in the financial relationship between the Commonwealth and States and has arrived at a solution. His solution is to cut the Gordian Knot. He is a unificationist. He agrees with those simple minds who believe that if you have a lot of troubles, you put them on the shoulders of one man or one body of men and he or they produce the answer. The thing is much more difficult than that. I have not the time to pursue that argument as far as I would like to go, but I would say simply that if all the problems of government in Australia were laid on the shoulders of one government, the electors would be much more, bewildered than they are now. They would have to vote for one party or another;, for one set of policies or another set. An. elector might believe, in the policy of a. party on education but completely dis? believe in its policy on immigration,, for example. He would not be able to exercise any real choice at all. It, is not without reason. that the complex issues that.confront a country, like this are divided/ between two sets, of governments. If there were no other - reason, that, would be sufficient but I have not. the time, to pursue these argu-ments.
The honorable member for Port- Adelaide also discussed another matter which was first put- forward by- the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb)’ who led for the Opposition, in this debate. It should be answered because it has not’ been answered yet. He complained that- when the Commonwealth Government; having raised money by taxation, provides it for- the States capital works, it then> charges these States interest on- the money. He considered that that was unjust. I> think the honorable member for Stirling said; in effect, “We are all’ one family, so why should’ the Commonwealth charge any interest to the States? “ The reason’ is that the money does not belong to the Commonwealth Government It belongs to- the taxpayers. The taxpayer is providing, that money for development in the States^ - development that presumably will increase the productivity of those States. If that money had to be raised in the normal way on- the loan market, the States would have to pay interest. They could1 afford to do so because of. the increased productivity aris-n ing. from its expenditure. When the. Commonwealth lends the taxpayers’ money, it is entitled to a return on that money on behalf of the taxpayers so that it does not have to go back to the taxpayers to raise more taxes, than, is necessary. That is sufficient justification for charging interest.
L should, like to refer to another complaint by. the honorable member for Stirling before I get to my main, thesis, and that- is the paramountcy, if I may put it that way, of. the Commonwealth Govern.ment, at Australian Loan Council meetings. He seemed to indicate that if the Loan Council considered that it ought to raise not £210,000,000,, but £250,000j000 or £300,000,000, the Loan Council, having reached that decision by. the. vote of the majority, of. the. States, fixed that figure. He- overlooks^ the fact that the. loan market will yield in, the current, financial year perhaps £110,000,000,, and. the. balance, has to be. made good by the Commonwealth out of” the taxpayers’ money. In other words, he believes apparently that the majority of the States should be able to tell the Commonwealth Government how much money it should’ be. compelled to raise from the taxpayers for the capital works of. the States. Such a proposition, is, absolutely absurd; It is quite plain that the last word must rest with the Commonwealth.
I do not propose- to deal- f further with the matters raised1 by the Opposition because there, is. no time, and I turn to the- hill before- the: House. What does the bill’ purport to do? Under the formula that dictates the- reimbursements the States shall receive- from the Commonwealth for ordinary purposes of government, the States will gee a certain sum of money. That amount- will’ be increased’ by the bill. The amount to be provided for the States this year is £205,000;000, including £30;400,000 that has been added’ by this measure. Last year, the sum provided for the States was £190,000,000. Then £24,145,000 had to be added by- legislation on a parallel with the bill before the House now.
The fact is that this is not a new and extraordinary ad hoc allocation to the States. This is something that has happened year after year, I think, almost ever since this Government was elected to office. That’ means- that ever- since about 1950-5-1’, a sum has been provided under bills similar to this one in addition to what has been owing to the States under the reimbursement formula.
In almost every year also, the Commonwealth has sustained the loan raisings by the addition of a further sum for capital works for the States.
Almost every honorable member who has spoken on this measure is convinced, by reason of these votes, that there is something badly wrong with the financial relationship between the Commonwealth and the States. Something is badly wrong when we find that every year since this Government came to office, there had to be a further allocation in addition to the reimbursements and a sum had to be provided for capital works besides what the Loan Council could raise on the market. You do not have to be very perceptive to realize that there is something fundamentally wrong under the present arrangements.
The formula has failed; that is evident. Honorable members may ask why. Anybody hearing this debate or reading it in “ Hansard “, might suppose that the formula was out of date because it did not take account of the growth of population, the decline in the value of money and other factors which have varied since the formula was first devised, but this is not a fact. The fact is that the formula does take into account the rise in the population of the States. It does take into account the change in the value of money. It takes into account the changing average wages. You might suppose that if the formula was unsatisfactory, something might have been done to revise it, but the fact is that existing legislation provides for this. Section 10 of the States Grants (Tax Reimbursement) Act 1946-1948 states -
If, at any time -
after the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-three; or the Government of any State so requests, the Government of the Commonwealth shall enter into consultation with the Governments of the States with a view to determining whether any change is desirable in the method provided by this Act for calculating the aggregate grant and the distribution thereof amongst the States.
So if at any time the States were not satisfied with the formula, any one of them could have approached the Commonwealth with a view to a revision of it. That has not happened. Is that because they are satisfied’ with it? Not at all! They are continually complaining about the formula.
Now I want to deal with a rather different aspect from that which was raised by thehonorable member for Chisholm. Mostly, those who have spoken in this debate have taken the view that “ the hungry sheep look up and are not fed “, and that the States deserve to have more than they get, but there is also a different view upon that matter. I look, for the sake of illustration, to the situation in the State of New South Wales.
– You are always looking that way.
– Naturally. I come from that State, I am familiar with its affairs, and it provides a very good example of the point I am trying to make. Naturally. I am looking to the State of New South Wales. Transport losses in that State since the war and up to the present time amount to over £100,000,000. That is a substantial sum of money. I do not want to go into too much detail, but lest, say, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) should disbelieve me and think that I cannot prove the figure, I point out that this £100,000,000 odd is made up of annual transport deficits which aggregate £54,000,000, and in addition various hidden subsidies. For example, there is a road tax imposed on road hauliers which is paid to the railways to compensate them for loss of business. The honorable member for Chisholm did not seem to know about that. There is the annual subsidy provided towards losses incurred by the railways on developmental lines. There is the contribution from Consolidated Revenue to the railways superannuation scheme. There was a special grant made for losses incurred during the 1948 coal strike. Special freight concessions are given to primary producers; at least, the Government compensates the railways for freight concessions given to primary producers in certain circumstances. In addition, out of Consolidated Revenue is provided some compensation for coaching concessions to various classes of travellers.
The same thing happens with regard to road transport. There is a contribution from Consolidated Revenue to the superannuation fund. There was a special grant in respect of the coal strike. There was a special grant for the removal of tram tracks and the restoration of roads, and a special compensation for certain travelling concessions. There is no need for me to go into detail, but all of these add up to £100,000,000 since the end of the war.
Then again, there is another charge upon the State of New South Wales, which ought not to be, and would not be imposed upon it if it were properly conducted. That is to be found in interest charges upon uncompleted public works. An amount of £28,000,000 has been spent since the war on public works begun years ago that have not yet been completed, and therefore there is no return on the £28,000,000 that has been invested. I refer to such works as the Eastern Suburbs railway, the Sandy Hollow-Maryvale railway, and the Keepit, Burrendong and Glenbawn dams. Again, £90,000,000 has been spent since 1951, in providing for the generation of electricity in New South Wales, and I have no doubt at all that a great deal of that £90,000,000 might have been obtained from private sources if the Government of that State had been prepared to invite private enterprise into that field. In a country that is so short of savings as Australia is, and that requires development as badly as Australia does, surely it is wrong that a State should embark upon a policy that excludes the savings that might have been available from outside this country.
The Government of New South Wales has embarked upon costly policies, such as basic wage adjustments. Each ls. increase in the State basic wage costs the New South Wales Government £300,000 annually. The State basic wage to-day is 6s. above the Commonwealth basic wage, which means an annual cost of £1,800,000. In addition, the Government of New South Wales is proposing to introduce equal pay legislation, which will affect at least 20,000 women employees in the public service of that State. I do not want to go into great detail about all these matters. They are all costly things upon which the State has embarked and upon which it need not have embarked, and they all have to be paid for by Commonwealth grants, for example, by the particular grant with which we are concerned in this measure. I will not say that the Commonwealth is blameless, either, and I shall have a word to say about that before ! conclude.
Meanwhile, I say that there is much the matter with the present financial relationships between the Commonwealth and the States. That is something which is very apparent in all that I have said and in what all of us have heard in the course of the debate. What is the answer? Surely, as the honorable member for Chisholm said, there is room for a revision of the existing formula and strict adherence to a revised formula. The honorable member for Chisholm, as I understand him, has suggested that the Commonwealth Grants Commission might be a suitable body to decide how much the States should receive each year, just as it adjudicates each year on the applications of the claimant States. I should like the Commonwealth Grants Commission, or some other arbitral body jointly agreed upon by the Commonwealth and the States, to revise the formula itself. I do not suggest a special inquiry each year, or from year to year, but rather an inquiry by the Commonwealth Grants Commission or some other arbitrator agreed upon by the governments concerned, which would revise the formula.
Of course, it might be that after a certain length of time, say ten years, it would need further revision, and it could be revised in the same way again. There is no need even for the agreement of the States to do this. If we feel that nothing can be done unless the Commonwealth and the States agree, and therefore no attempt is made to do anything, we have reached the position of immobilism of the former French government. There is no reason on earth why the Commonwealth should not set in motion such an inquiry. I imagine that the States would co-operate in the appointment of an arbitral body or committee, but if they did not do so the Commonwealth could still go ahead and make grants on the basis of the recommendations of a committee of that kind, which might very well receive general acceptance throughout the country - whether the States co-operated or whether they did not. On that basis, grants could be made in the future and adhered to. I would not suggest that that would solve the whole problem, because reimbursements are not the beginning and the end of the financial relationships between the Commonwealth and the States. There is also the problem of some subvention, some underwriting - call it what you like - of public works expenditure by the States. Of course, a revision of the formula would not solve that problem. That would still remain.
Now I come to a second point with regard to the solution of this problem. That is a proposal that the honorable member for Chisholm made, and that I also intended to raise, for either a redivision of the tax field between the Commonwealth and the States or a re-allocation of the functions of the Commonwealth and the States to bring them into conformity with the present tax resources of each, or some revised arrangement of the tax field between the two. The honorable member for Chisholm suggested, for example, that the States might be given access to the whole, or a part of the field of excise on beer, petrol, and perhaps tobacco. I think that that raises some difficulties, because obviously from a practical point of view, a single rate would have to be struck for excise for the whole of the Commonwealth, and that would still leave it open to the State of New South Wales, for example, to say that it would not consider imposing such and such an excise on beer, but that it was compelled to impose that rate because the other States insisted on it; and so the States could still pass the buck amongst themselves. In any case, the transfer of some of these taxation powers, at least by way of an agreement by the Commonwealth to collect on behalf of the States, might still not solve the problem of a subvention for capital works. An argument that might be raised is that although the Commonwealth might agree to accept the rate fixed by the States in respect of excise, the States might say, “ We would not raise the money by way of excise at all. We would rather raise it by direct taxation. We would rather have access to the field of income tax.” So, again, they would pass the buck to the Commonwealth Government and say, “ We would have raised this money not by excise but by income tax “.
Again it is possible that the States might be given access to the field of income tax. They might take back from the Commonwealth as much as 40 per cent, of the income tax field.
This is the system which existed before uniform taxation was introduced. Both Commonwealth and :State Governments had access to the one field and it worked fairly well except for one thing - ‘the difficulty of assessing taxation on income derived from more than one State. This raised a very great difficulty. A second difficulty was involved with regard to assessment of tax. Under a State law certain moneys might be regarded as income but under the Commonwealth law they might or might not be. That could be overcome by an agreement upon a uniform assessment formula. The difficulty in regard to income derived from more than one State would at least be less of a problem in the case of individual income tax than in the case of company tax. Under no circumstances could one envisage company tax being handed over to the States because it would involve the problem of income earned in more than one State.
I -mentioned a second aspect. I have already dealt with the redivision of the taxation field. Now I wish to refer to the redistribution of responsibilities. There has been an agitation of late from the teachers unions for the handing over of education to the Commonwealth. That is not the kind of solution I would advocate but nevertheless it is possible that there could be a redistribution of responsibilities as well as a redistribution of taxing fields. Some of these things could be done without reaching a full agreement between all the States and the Commonwealth. For example, section 96 of the Commonwealth Constitution could well be used so far as the division of responsibilities is concerned. It has been used already. As for a formula, I said earlier that the Commonwealth could go ahead on that without necessarily having a complete agreement with all the States. Therefore, there is an opportunity to do something about these problems.
The subvention of capital works by the States involves two very grave problems. The first is the tremendous demand for capital in a strongly developing economy as a result of the dynamic of immigration and other things. This strong demand for capital makes it difficult for the Commonwealth and any other body which needs capital to get as much as they would like and at a rate that is satisfactory to them. The second factor in the situation, apart. from this demand for capital which cannot be satisfied by savings, is the continuous, creeping, -inexorable inflation which has been part and parcel of the economy since the war and which, I believe, is likely to continue as far as we can see ahead. It is trite to -say that no man in his sane senses would lend £100 to the Government on a promise to receive back in ten years’ time a nominal £100, which might be worth only 100s. As a consequence governments are not in a strong position to get people to lend money so long as they can put it into shares that are not so inflatable. This is the reason behind the growth and strength of unit investment companies.
Until the burden of developing the Commonwealth can be shifted off the backs of the taxpayers more on to the shoulders of the investors, the whole problem of financial relations between the Commonwealth and States will be bedevilled by this additional amount of money which has to be raised from year to year. I cannot suggest a solution to this problem at the moment, but I believe that a solution must be found. Our fundamental problem is that, at the present time, there is no one authority in the Commonwealth which takes a collective view, a conspectus, of the whole range of the requirements of Australia. There is no one authority which balances up the requirements of things such as defence on the one hand and the requirements of, say, education on the other hand. The Premiers conference might have become such a body, but it has not. The result has been, above all, the demoralization of the States. I have referred to wasteful government expenditure and quoted New South Wales as an example, and also to this sort of extravagance in the Commonwealth field.
Here let me observe that there were those, in the past, who argued that if a proportion of the cost of capital works was met from taxation revenue this would result in greater vigilance on the part of governments. It was said that no government would wish to raise money by taxation and risk the hostility of the community by wasteful expenditure, but would be very careful as to how it husbanded and spent the money. Although that argument was attractive at the time, experience showed that it had no substance at all. I believe that ‘because money is raised by way of taxation, the feeling of this Government, or of a State government for that matter, is, “ Well, we do not have to pay any interest on the money; it is raised by way of taxation; it is taken from the taxpayer for all time; we do not have to pay interest on it, and it does not matter how we spend it”. When you have to pay interest on money, you do ‘have some concern that you spend it in such a way that you increase the productivity of the community. That is a strong argument in support of the statement that we -suffer from a great deal of extravagant expenditure both by Commonwealth and State governments because so much tax revenue is devoted to government purposes.
I believe that where there is a will there is a way. If we really wish to put financial relations between Commonwealth and State governments on a proper basis, I believe a solution can be found. The fact is that we have not tried very hard because the present arrangement has suited the Treasury. The Government has been so hardpressed that it has not had time to think about these minor issues, and the Labour party is all in favour of unification anyhow. Therefore, we have not really bent our minds and energies to the task.
But it can be done. Although a thousand objections may be raised to any course that is suggested, I believe that a solution can be found. What has not been done in this twenty-second Parliament remains as a task for the twenty-third Parliament. We can no longer burke this issue. It must be settled as well as that of getting the cost of capital works off the backs of the taxpayers and on to the shoulders of the investors. These are fundamental problems which must be solved and if this Parliament has not succeeded in doing so, then the next must tackle them.
.- The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) said that one of the problems in Commowealth and State relations is that the Commonwealth has defined powers which were given to it by the -States. He implied that if the Commonwealth :had ante-dated the States and had .conferred powers on ‘the States, we would have had fewer problems. However, we -have a Legislative Council in the ‘Northern Territory at present. It is derived from the Commonwealth Parliament, and our relationships with that council seem to be presenting many of the same difficulties as those that exist in our relationships with the States. So I think that what we really have is a problem in division of power which would exist whether, as is the fact, the Commonwealth derived from the States or the States derived from the Commonwealth, which is virtually the situation in relation to the Northern Territory.
There has been a tendency in the course of the debate to regard Commonwealth grants to the States as favours conferred upon the States. Some suggestions have been made that we need a new analysis of the constitution. It seems to me that one of the most urgent problems in Australia is the need for a rationalization of taxation. Certain things in our relations with the States are completely foolish. For instance, we impose pay-roll tax on the States. Some of the States pay millions of pounds to the Commonwealth in pay-roll tax. The Commonwealth makes grants to the States so that the States can pay it back to the Commonwealth as pay-roll tax. What earthly sense is there in that! A much more intelligent development would be for us to exempt the States from the payment of pay-roll tax altogether. The Commonwealth would lose absolutely nothing, because it has to grant money to the States so that the States can pay it. But there would be a reduction in the States’ costs.
We also impose sales tax upon the States. It would be very difficult to assess exactly how much the States ultimately pay on the commodities that are used by their departments, but it is quite clear that, as this amount is included as an additional cost to the States, the Commonwealth eventually must grant it to them. Then we impose tariffs on the States. The States wish to import, say, locomotives, railway rolling stock, diesel engines or diesel buses. The tariff is imposed when they are imported. This increases the States’ costs, and the Commonwealth then grants to the States the money necessary to pay the tariff.
What we need to do is to return to what I think was the intelligence of the original idea in thinking on the problems of federation. I refer to the doctrine of the immunity of instrumentalities, which meant that Commonwealth instrumentalities were immune from State tax and State action, and State instrumentalities were immune from Commonwealth tax and Commonwealth action.
The report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution, which was presented in 1929, and the evidence that was presented as an accompanying volume, provide an absolute mine of information on the working over the years of the Federal taxation system in relation to the States. There was a stage when, shall we say, a State like Western Australia, which was laying thousands of miles of railway lines, was forced by the tariff to purchase railway lines in Australia at a much higher price than it could have obtained them from the United Kingdom. That may be right, or it may be wrong, but it increased the indebtedness of the State and increased the cost of all its public works. Though that is clearly shown in the heavy capital expenditure on railways in the first 25 years of federation, as set out in the evidence given before the Royal Commission on the Constitution, it must be equally true to-day that in the Federal taxes imposed on the States there is the same tendency, and because the Commonwealth Government must grant to the States the means of paying these taxes, there is absolutely nothing to be said in their defence. The Commonwealth Government gains nothing from them because it is a self-balancing item; to the States, they increase costs. There is an urgent need for a rationalization of these taxes.
The second matter with which I want to deal is the problem of some of the purely agricultural States. I imagine that what I am going to say applies to Tasmania, but I wish merely to make the point in relation to Western Australia, whose relationship with the industrialized eastern seaboard is precisely the same as New Zealand’s relationship with the industrialized eastern seaboard. New Zealand sent to this country, if I remember the round figures of the last year’s trade that I looked at, about £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 worth of goods and it received, really from the industrialized eastern seaboard of Australia, about £42,000,000 worth of goods. There is a six or seven to one trade ratio in Australia’s favour.
Western Australia’s relationship with the eastern States is precisely similar. For the last year that I looked at, Western Australia imported £93,000,000 worth of manufactured goods, mainly from Victoria and New South Wales, and it sent back to them £19,000,000 worth. I am not saying that that is an anti-Western Australian plot. It rests simply on the fact that Western Australia does not possess the kind of goods that the eastern States want. But the truth is that Western Australia conducts its trade with the eastern seaboard of this country in exactly the same way as New Zealand does - in a triangular manner through London. In other words, we have a favorable trade balance in our agricultural exports to the United Kingdom, and that ultimately accumulates the funds which balance the trade of the western seaboard of this Commonwealth of Australia with the eastern seaboard. I am not making any point about that.
Previously in the House I have made the point that the whole tariff policy of the Commonwealth favoured the development of industries in two States and that uniform taxation, if it gives back to Western Australia more than Western Australia pays in taxation, is only now a belated compensation for the fact that the way federation worked over the years before uniform taxation was exactly the opposite. Every cost that the Western Australian community had to meet was increased by federal tariffs, and at that, stage they gained nothing commensurate from having entered the federation. Now, to an extent, that is offset by uniform taxation. I feel that Mr. Bolte, Mr. Cahill and others who constantly speak about the gains of the claimant States under uniform taxation ignore the extent to which federal tariffs have created industries within their States that are sources of taxable revenue and overlook the fact that, without the federal fiscal policies, the industries would not have been located in those States.
I do not want to labour that point. What I do want to speak about is the enormous cost to Western Australia of our heavy transport charges. I raise this matter to re-inforce my point on sales tax. I have heard many denunciations in this House of the Australian overseas shipping combines, but I have never heard an explanation that satisfied me of why it cost more to shift trochus shell from Cairns to Brisbane than from Cairns to Hamburg on a Commonwealth Government ship - never mind about a private enterprise ship - when the Commonwealth was running its own line. Why does it cost more to ship wool from
Fremantle to Melbourne than from Melbourne to London? Transport costs between points on our coastline are enormous. Consider the position of Western Australia, which receives £93,000,000 worth of goods interstate and sends away only £19,000,000 worth interstate. Federal sales tax is calculated after transport costs have been added.
It has been well said that Australia produces some of the finest and cheapest steel in the world. It is cheap until you try to move it. The moment you try to move anything in Australia, fantastic transport costs begin to show themselves. The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) has said that our transport costs are one third of our gross domestic expenditure, and that they are higher than anywhere else in the world. Western Australia, in importing £93,000,000 worth of goods, has to contend with freight charges between Melbourne and Fremantle that are higher than the freight charges between Melbourne and London. On top of that comes the federal sales tax. If you buy a pair of sandshoes in Sydney at a certain price, the sales tax is lower than if those sandshoes are shifted to a New South Wales country town. If the price is higher, the amount of sales tax is higher. Western Australia pays more sales tax on a particular article that is shifted interstate because of the freight component that has gone into its price as it is moved around the Australian coast.
– Is not the cost of living in Western Australia lower than in the Eastern States?
– Yes, but I do not think that the manufactured goods that people buy and live with to-day affect the assessment of the cost of living to a very great extent. 1 am speaking about the imposition of sales tax on State governments. I think that sales tax is bad altogether, but I am not at the moment, since we are discussing a States grants bill doing anything more than reinforce my point that the Government of Western Australia pays more in sales tax to the Commonwealth for the goods that it buys, because of interstate freight, and then has to be reimbursed for that expenditure by the Commonwealth. The sales tax nevertheless adds to the cost of government of the State without in any way being to the advantage of the Commonwealth. lt’ is. time that a- committee was. set up.- to inquire into, the whole-, field, of taxation, to consider the: rationality, of, taxes, and the extent to which .they, are. competing with one another.. We must ask ourselves whether it is. any use imposing taxes, on the. States, and them granting them- money to. pay. those, taxes. Australia is- beginning to get like pre-revolutionary France; which had innumerable imposts internally - all sorts of taxes - and as goods moved they got dearer and dearer. There is no difference in principle between a sales tax- imposed on top of freight costs, and actually putting tolls along the roads and asking for payments. The further the goods move, the higher the tax you pay. A sales tax that is imposed on top of freight operates in exactly the same way as tolls on the road. The further the goods move, the higher- is the amount of tax paid. I feel- that as well as just looking at this question of how generous we are in making grants to the States, we should look intelligently to see how far, with no advantage to ourselves, we are impeding the work of. the State Governments by irrational taxes. Let us see if we cannot get back to the earlier federal doctrine that State instrumentalities shall be immune from Federal taxes. That would be a step towards rationalizing our tax relationship with the States.
,- The bill before the House gives honorable members an opportunity to speak, of the disabilities from which the governments of their particular States are suffering. All honorable members seem to be able to prepare a case on behalf of their own States.
The Labour party believes in uniform taxation. The system was brought into being during the. war years by the Curtin Government after many difficulties and1 much hostility, but I think that it has proved its. value to Australia, and that, generally speaking, the. people are quite happy with it. The conditions that apply to-day are not the same as those applying when uniform taxation was introduced. Thanks to the inflation that has occurred in our economy, attributable largely to the present Government, the system of uniform taxation that was initiated in 1942 seems to have, failed as far as State governments are concerned. But that does not condemn the- system:. The. Labour party believes^ this is its. policy-that uniform taxation should’ be-, retained, but, that the formula should i be altered to meet modern conditions. We know that at present the States find it- impossible to carry, on. with, the tax reimbursements to which, they are entitled under: the. present formula. All, States receive- ex. gratia payments from the. Com?monwealth. The. State Premiers are united in their appeals to- the Commonwealth Government for more money. For. some months past the Premier- of Queensland has been saying that he is finding.it impossible to carry, on with the amounts of money that are paid to Queensland by, the Commonwealth as tax reimbursements or grants. Queensland is proposing to become a claimant State-. If that should happen, only, two States would not be claimant States. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said that should’ the- Premier- of Queensland apply- to have Queensland- made a claimant State, the whole matter of financial relations between the Commonwealth and- the States would have to be reviewed.”
The. Australian Country, party Premier of Queensland, has disputed; the figures on which payments to the: States are made. He. has an idea, that the population, of Queensland: is 3.0,00.0 more than the figure given-, by, the. Commonwealth. Statistician. I find it. difficult to believe that the. Com,monwealth. Statistician, would make, such a grave, error. While the matter, is. being investigated I suppose we must wait and see what will be revealed. No.other Premier has. disputed, the population figures, and. the Premier of Queensland, is leading, the people qf his State, to. believe that his estimate of population is correct and, assuming that it is, that the Government of Oueensland will receive another £200,000 in this financial year because of the readjustment of population figures.
The- discussion of this matter has. been going on for some- months, and I feel it is about time- that the Commonwealth Statistician, reinforced by the acting Treasurer of the Commonwealth (Mr. Menzies), told us what the actual popular tion of Queensland is. The. government of that State would then know where it is going and. would not build its hopes, on false ground-. The people of Queensland would> know, whether the claim made by the Premier is being used merely for propaganda purposes. They would know just what the situation is. I find it difficult to believe that the Commonwealth Statistician would make an error in his estimation of the population of Queensland. If there has been an error, to the extent of 30,000, which is a very considerable number, it appears that somebody in the Statistician’s office is worthy of censure, because if such an error can occur in Queensland, it can occur in the other States. If the population of Queensland has been underestimated, then the Government of that State has been denied various amounts of money over a very considerable period of time.
– This is pure supposition.
– It is pure supposition, as the honorable member for Petrie has said. I hope that we will soon get beyond the stage of pure supposition and that we will know just what the population of Queensland is. The matter is in the hands of the acting Treasurer, and I hope that he will shortly make a statement on this very important matter.
The Commonwealth Government, in addition to making the normal tax reimbursement, has made a special grant to Queensland because of unemployment in that State. This is an admission on the part of the Government that unemployment has increased considerably in Queensland. It has come to my knowledge that in some of the provincial cities of Queensland the money made available by means of this grant is being used for municipal purposes. These are worthy purposes, of course, but the tragedy is that the unemployed include many tradesmen, who are being used, as a result of this grant -by the Commonwealth, on municipal works of a very ordinary nature.
Let me refer to the City of Maryborough, where many tradesmen have been discharged from the shipbuilding yards of Walkers Limited. These tradesmen are being employed in digging drains for the Maryborough City Council. This is a tragic state of affairs, when one realizes that an important industry has been almost strangled by the policy of this Government, and the tradesmen formerly engaged in the industry are being used to dig drains for municipal purposes.
The shipbuilding yards of Evans Deakin and Company Limited, in Brisbane, Will be in grave danger, in the not-too-distant future, of reducing output and subsequently closing down, unless something is done to provide orders for them. Only last week the chairman of directors of that company, in his speech to the shareholders, referred to the difficult situation facing the company. If the company is facing such a difficult situation, the 2,500 men associated with the shipbuilding industry in Brisbane are facing a very difficult future. I was interested to learn of a reply given by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) only yesterday to a query raised by a colleague of mine, Senator Benn, in the Senate. The Minister made the point that costs for shipbuilding in Queensland are too high.
– Order! Is the honorable member referring to something that occurred in another place? He is not in order in doing so.
– May I refer to a statement that appeared in the press this morning? The Minister for Shipping and Transport is reported to have said that costs for shipbuilding :in Queensland are far too high. He suggested that in South Australia shipbuilding costs have been stabilized, and that similar conditions must apply in Queensland ‘if the shipbuilding industry is to be maintained in that State. I see in this statement by the Minister a very broad Hint to the Queensland Government, and I fear that in the very near future, perhaps immediately after the federal election, the Queensland ‘Government will take action to stabilize costs in the shipbuilding industry and other industries by following the lead of other State governments and pegging the basic wage. This has been the policy of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and in view of statements by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), it has become the policy of this Commonwealth Government.
The basic wage has been pegged in South Australia, and I see in this statement of the Minister a hint to the Queensland Government that if the shipbuilding industry is to be maintained, it will be at the expense of those engaged in the industry. The Minister is suggesting, as I interpret it, that in order to reduce costs, wages in the shipbuilding industry must be maintained at the same level as those operating in South Australia. I, for one, would protest in this place against any such action being taken by the Queensland Government. If costs are being increased because of increases in the cost of living - and the cost of living is rising in Queensland at a faster rate than in any other State - the burden should not be borne solely by the workers.
– This is pure supposition again.
– My statement is not based on supposition at all. I am looking at these matters very seriously, and I base my comments on the statement made by the Minister for Shipping and Transport. He referred to conditions in South Australia. In that State, the basic wage is pegged, not only in the shipping industry but also in all other industries that are covered by awards of a Commonwealth court.
– That has nothing to do with the Queensland Government.
– Of course it has! The Queensland Government can, by legislation, peg the basic wage, just as the Government of Victoria has done. The honorable member for Petrie knows that the Queensland Industrial Court operates under legislation of the State parliament. It is not a free agent; it acts under laws passed by the Queensland parliament. If the Government of that State decides that the basic wage will be pegged, the industrial court will have no choice in the matter. It must abide by the laws operating in the State. However, we shall see, in the near future, what will happen. I feel that, unless some serious rebuke is administered to the Queensland Government by the electorates of that State, at the first opportunity that Government will proceed along the lines that I have suggested.
I have no argument with the expenditure of Commonwealth money raised from all taxpayers in the nation on national works in various States. Those works have my full approval. But I disapprove of the refusal of this Government to spend any of the money raised throughout the nation on works in the State of Queensland. Some years ago, when the present Treasurer was a member of the Opposition, he made a statement at the town of Boonah in the Mcpherson electorate that if the then
Opposition parties, led by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and himself, were elected they would provide assistance for the building of a dam on the Burdekin River. Subsequently, he repudiated that undertaking and salved his conscience by saying that the figures with which he had been provided were not correct. That was a very easy way of getting out of this undertaking.
– He denied in this House that he had said that.
– Quite so. But the “ Courier-Mail “ said that the Treasurer made that statement at Boonah. So we have a choice between believing the press of Queensland and believing a mere Opposition politician, as the Treasurer was then. I am impelled to accept the statement of the “ Courier-Mail “. I feel that the citizens of Queensland are prepared to accept the statement of the “ Courier-Mail “ rather than that of this politician when contesting the seat of Mcpherson. However, he must have made the statement, because I subsequently heard him say in this House that he did so on false information given to him by the Hanlon Government. We now know that this Government will make no contribution towards the cost of constructing a dam on the Burdekin.
However, the point that I wish to stress is that the Commonwealth Government receives its revenue from the whole of the people of the Commonwealth by means of direct taxation, indirect sales tax, excise duty, and a host of other taxes. But it spends the money only in certain States. I suppose that the appeal that I make tonight will fall on barren ground, as it has done in the past, because no government supporters from Queensland will support it. I challenge them to do so. This Government will not spend any money on national development in the State of Queensland.
It has been said that, in the past, the then Labour Government of Queensland had some dispute with this Government because the State government wanted to decide the manner in which the money would be spent. But those days have gone. There is now a Liberal-Country party government in Queensland. Consequently, there should be complete co-operation between that government and the Commonwealth Government. But we see no more money being made available to Queensland on a pro-rata basis than was granted previously, and no effort is being made by this Government to spend money in Queensland. I again challenge Government supporters from the State of Queensland to press the claims of that State openly in this House, and also behind the closed doors in their party rooms, for money to be made available to the Queensland Government, or for this Government to expend money on national works in Queensland.
I notice, according to a newspaper this morning, that a former Liberal candidate foi State parliamentary honours, the mayor of Rockhampton, recently castigated both State and Federal politicians who represent central Queensland in the State and Federal Parliaments.
– He got a bullet in the ribs, didn’t he?
– I know that somebody attempted to assassinate him, but was unsuccessful. However, that issue does not arise in this debate. The mayor of Rockhampton said that his city was being let down. He was very annoyed because undertakings given by politicians from central Queensland that the new Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government would materially help the city of Rockhampton had not been honoured. In despair, he said that nothing was being done and that the people, in effect, had been taken for a ride by those who sought their support before the Queensland election.
As the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) has interjected, the promises of these politicians were designed only to woo the votes of the electors of central Queensland, and the wooing was successful. The politicians, having attained their goal, have now abandoned their loves until the next election takes place. This state of affairs exists all over the State of Queensland. Promises are being made in the way of propaganda of what will be done provided funds are available. Of course, it is suggested that the money will come from the Commonwealth Government.
During the week-end, I noticed a report of a statement made by the Queensland Minister for Lands, which should interest the Treasurer because it was made in his electorate. The proposal was to build a dam near Boonah at a cost of £1,500,000. It is significant that it is proposed to build the dam near Boonah, because it was at that town that the Treasurer promised to build the Burdekin Dam.
– Are you opposed to it?
– Not at all. I am all for it. But I think that we should be concerned about the economic features of it. Some citizen with a knowledge of figures has decided1, on the information available, that if the Government spent £1,500,000 on the construction of this dam an annual loss of £50,000 would be incurred, which would have to be borne by the citizens of Queensland. I feel that the dam will not be built, because provision for it was not made in the Estimates, and no additional funds are to be made available by this Government to the State of Queensland for expenditure on capital works. Queensland is a large State - the second largest in the Commonwealth. Over the years, successive Queensland governments have tried to develop it on a decentralized basis. I do not think this is being done in any other State. Consequently, the cost of development and the cost of government have been greatest in Queensland. The efforts ot the various governments over the years have been commendable. However, the State Government is now finding it difficult to continue this policy without additional grants from the Commonwealth Government. In the very near future, perhaps early in the life of the 23rd Parliament, I believe there will be a change in the policy of the Parliament, because of a change of government, and that Queensland will then receive a fair deal. A fair deal is all that I ask for. I ask for no generosity, but merely for fairness from this Parliament and this Government, so that the Queen State of Australia can be developed as it deserves to be developed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Message from the Senate.
-I have to announce receipt of the following message from the Senate: -
The Senate, having considered the Estimates and Budget Papers 1958-59, has agreed to the following resolution in connexion therewith: -
That the Papers be printed but that the Senate is of opinion that their provisions inflict grave injustices on the States and on many sections of the Australian people - especially the family unit, and that they make no contribution to correcting seriously adverse trends in the Australian economy.
That the message be taken into consideration at the next sitting.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker, I wish to raise a matter of some urgency and, I believe, of some interest to this Parliament and of great interest to the people of Australia. May I introduce it in this fashion: Some time ago in this House, I referred to a booklet written by Dr. John Burton, a former departmental head. The booklet is styled, as I indicated then, “ The Light Glows Brighter”, but it would now be better styled, “The Light Glows Redder”. In that booklet, Dr. Burton made some pertinent observations about Labour policy. The points of view expressed by him were hailed by a number of people at the time as representing sound and respected Labour policy. May I refer the House now to one or two observations that Dr. Burton made in “ The Light Glows Brighter”. First, this-
The world situation demands Socialism of us, whether we like it or not. We cannot survive unless we effectively meet the growing competition of the socialist and planned economies. The responsibility is on Labor.
Labor must never be frightened away from its historic role, its responsibilities, and its declared aim of Socialism . . .
And again -
By education and by publicity, Labor must make it clear that it is the aim of Labor to progress toward a form of Socialism by parliamentary means . . .
In the last few weeks, Sir, Df. Burton, has prepared and delivered at the University of Melbourne what is known as the Chifley Memorial Lecture for 1958. This was the fifth Chifley Memorial Lecture. The text of this lecture, which I find fascinating, and which I hope will be read by all members of this Parliament, represents an astonishing volte face from Dr. Burton’s previously described stand regarding socialism, because he says this - and this is the crux of the whole matter -
I am driven to the conclusion therefore that the Australian Labor Party is not a Socialist Party, it never was, and in Australian conditions never can be.
This is an amazing and rather bewildering circumstance.
Putting Dr. Burton to one side, as I feel he can safely be put to one side, I shall say that this has a deeper significance. The significance that I see in it is simply this: In the next two months, we shall be engaged, one way or another, in ,an election campaign, and Dr. Burton’s Chifley Memorial Lecture is simply a prelude to the stand that will be taken by the Australian Labour party in this campaign. It is common knowledge, Sir, that an instruction has been given that Australian Labour party candidates must keep quiet about socialism in the forthcoming election campaign. But the other evening, on television, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) forgot the instruction. Or did he forget it? Was it his intention to cause yet a further rift, a further split in the Australian Labour party? He said - and, despite his enfeebled denial the other day, the charge still stands against him - that he hopes at some time in the future to set about a programme of collective farming. Here is the agrarian reformer! But in this chamber the other day, he denied that, and said that his questioner was grinning all over his face when he asked the question that called forth his reply about collective farming. I have been smiling benignly at the honorable gentleman for three years, Sir, but he still glares at me and talks like an angry old man of the Labour party. Here is the collective farmer - the agrarian reformer - on this occasion trying to deny that nationalization of the land is Labour’s policy!
The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), within recent memory, Sir, declared that the Australian Labour party is a leftwing party. I invite the right honorable gentleman to deny that this evening. In the next few months, he will be like the siren on the rock - the Lorelei, sitting on the rocks singing sweet, melodic songs. He hopes to. attract the Australian people to his party and, by his synthetic charm, to lure them, to their destruction-. 1 believe that this is the occasion for the Labour party to state in the plainest possible terms precisely what is- its policy on socialism. From my observations, having listened to honorable gentlemen opposite, and read what they have had te say on various occasions, I believe that we may fittingly fine the matter down to ten major points of Labour’s policy, and I propose to recite them to the House. They are -
In the next two months, I repeat, the Leader of the Opposition and all his henchmen are going to set about trying to create in the minds of the Australian people throughout the electorate the impression that the Australian Labour party is a party of moderation. The fact of the matter is, Sir, that the policy of the Labour party is a policy that leads along but one road - the road to serfdom. I challenge the right honorable gentleman or any of his henchmen who snigger to deny the fact that they are pledged to a policy of complete socialization. Who is right - the Leader of the Opposition who declares that the Labour party is a party of the left, or Dr. Burton who. has now demonstrated this extraordinary volte face to the Australian people.
.- I am indeed most touched to see some of the supporters of the Government showing great solicitude from time to time about the workings of the Australian Labour party and what it stands for. Being by nature a. kind-hearted fellow and believing one good turn deserves another, I would like to reciprocate by informing the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) that a rebel committee was formed recently comprising New South Wales Liberal members of this House. I have been led to believe that it was formed by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate). The honorable member for Mackellar has rebelled so strongly against the top brass of the Liberal party that he is now known in some quarters as General Robert E. Lee Wentworth, commanderinchief of the New South Wales Liberal rebel forces. He is ably supported by Quantrell Bate, commander-in-chief of the guerrilla forces. I am led to believe that this committee was formed for the purpose of ousting the Leader of the House as deputy leader of the Liberal party.
Not so long ago, we had a position where the Prime Minister came from Victoria, and the Deputy Prime Minister came from Queensland. The deputy leader of the Liberal party and the Leader of the House came from New South Wales. But now, those three coveted positions are all occupied- by Victorians, and this is causing quite a good deal of dissatisfaction.
To aggravate matters, the composition of the inner Cabinet, better known as the first eleven, is also causing grave dissatisfaction. With regard to the first eleven, the opening batsmen come from Victoria. They are the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister. First wicket down, the deputy leader of the Liberal party and the Leader of the House is a Victorian.
Second wicket down is the eagle shooter, also a Victorian. Of the two New South Wales members of the team, one is considered only a tail-ender and a useful man on a sticky wicket. The other one is considered to be the orange drink boy, sometimes known as “ lemons “. This numerical superiority in favour of Victoria is causing great dissatisfaction among New South Wales Liberal members, and they intend to do something about it after the next election. They intend to run a candidate from New South Wales for the deputy leadership of the Liberal party. I am led to believe that they have selected the honorable member for Parramatta and are going to the ballot-box fortified by this slogan, “Barwick’s the boy for me”.
On various occasions, I have heard in this House smears about communism. It is remarkable to me that this Government grants a vise to any Communist who comes forward and applies for one, yet this Government professes to be anti-Communist. In this House from time to time, supporters of the Government protest against the “Tribune”, which is the mouthpiece of the Communist party in Australia, on the ground that it is subversive and prints many articles which are actually detrimental to the well-being of Australia. If the Government wanted to do so, it could ban this newspaper to-morrow by withdrawing its registration for transmission through the post office, but it does not intend to do that. All this, with the election of Senator McCallum, the Kadar incident, the granting of vises and the fact that the Government allows the “Tribune” to continue publication, leads one to believe that there is a tie-up between the Liberal party and the Communist party to keep Labour out of office.
Mr. Speaker, we also are led to believe that great unity exists between the Australian Country party and the Liberal party. Let us hear what the leader of the Country party in Victoria has to say about the Liberal party Premier in that State. I shall read from the “Sydney Morning Herald” of 10th July, 1958, a report which appeared under the heading - “Victorian Premier accused of behaving like ‘ mongrel ‘ “. The report is as follows: -
Amid uproar in the Victorian Legislative Assembly today, the Leader of the Country party
Sir Herbert Hyland accused the Premier, Mr. H. E. Bolte, of behaving like a “mongrel”.
Those are very ungallant words coming from a knight. The report continues -
He called the Minister for Lands, Mr. K. H. Turnbull-
Who is a former member of the Country party - “ a rat from the Country party “.
Sir Herbert said that the Government was “ squealing like stuck pigs “ because it had failed to secure a majority in the Legislative Council.
He said that Government members, particularly Mr. Bolte, had made unwarranted attacks on the Country party during the election campaign. “ I was in hospital for 7 weeks during the campaign “, he said. “ Four weeks ago it looked like curtains. “When I was there the Premier twisted in every possible way statements I had made in this House. “ I had no hope of retaliating. “Every decent-thinking man knows that a person who could do this while a man is on his back is a mongrel.”
Mr. Bolte, who had remained silent during the attack, then said: “ I know that Sir Herbert is suffering from strain, but I would like a withdrawal “.
Sir Herbert: I resent the statement that I am under a strain.
That shows how great is the unity between the Government parties. I emphasize that I am very much obliged to any Government member who brings forward any matters that he thinks might improve the Australian Labour party. We will always accept them, but I hope members on the Government side do not mind if we reciprocate.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) has succeeded in diverting the attention of the House from the serious matters that have been raised by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), although he made a gallant effort to do so. It is necessary for us to take some cognizance of what is happening inside the Australian Labour party because these people are not just crazy, mixed-up kids. These are people who aspire to be the Government of Australia. When we find these people in the Australian Labour party, whether wittingly or unwittingly, assisting our Communist enemies to impose their ideology on the Australian people. and assisting our Communist enemies to advance their open attack from their Communist bases in the north against the Australian people, then it becomes a matter of very real concern to honorable members in this House, and to the people outside it, as to what is happening inside the Australian Labour party.
I believe it is not entirely without significance that, as the election approaches this party endeavours to play down, conceal and overlay its own socialist objectives. This is not the first time that it has happened. The tragic fact is that Labour can only hope to get power - in order to carry out its left-wing objectives - if it can cozen and deceive the electors into thinking that it is a right-wing party. lt is very difficult to follow the tortuous trends in Labour policy. Let us look first at the matter which has been brought forward by the honorable member for Moreton, namely, the contradictions in Dr. Burton’s attitude. Dr. Burton just cannot be laughed off. He is the prize protege of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). He was promoted, quite beyond reason, to a position of influence inside the Australian Public Service. He has been the close friend and associate of the Leader of the Opposition right up to this day. He is consulted. He helps him to write his speeches. One reads in the report of this Chifley Memorial Lecture - I will quote only the headings - the following: -
Labour is not socialist.
Labour cannot be socialist.
Labour never was socialist.
The term “ Socialization “ should be dropped.
Those are the things he says now, at election time, but let me read the headings from “ The Light Glows Brighter “, his previous effusion on this subject -
Socalism is the basic objective of the Labour party.
Labour has the responsibility to pursue socialism.
Labour must not be frightened away.
He goes on to show how the Labour party as a socialist party must co-operate with the Communist party because they share common ideals. Those are the things which are said in truth, as compared with the things which are said for consumption at the coming election.
If Dr. Burton is confused, let us look also at the confusion which exists in the mind of Mr. Chamberlain, the president of the party. I refer to the official report of the twenty-second Commonwealth conference of the A.L.P. Honorable members will know that the platform of the Labour party has been officially modified so that it is ever so mild -
All we want is democratic socialism.
There a good bit of water has been mixed with the pure spirit, but let us look at the presidential address which introduced it. The address contains something quite different. Mr. Chamberlain says that from that conference emerged a new socialist objective. He talks about the fact that in 1949 nearly half of the Australian electorate voted for the socalist objective of Labour. If you look at the speech of Mr. Chamberlain and compare it with the platform you will see quite definitely that there is a confusion. I believe that it is, in point of fact, a confusion which arises because Labour is living ,a lie. The Labour party is a party which, in essence, is at this present moment living a lie.
– I rise to order. I heard a member from the Government side say, “Shut up, you ratbag”. Is that a parliamentary expression?
– Order! I ask the House to come to order. The honorable member for Mackellar should at least be heard in silence.
– On the point of order: I have never heard a more insincere point of order taken in this Parliament. The whole House knows that the Opposition is deliberately trying to create a disturbance in order to prevent the honorable member from being heard; and the disturbance is continuing.
– I warn honorable members on the left that if they continue to conduct themselves in this way it will be necessary for me to take action against them. The honorable member for Mackellar has the right to speak.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! The Minister may not make it until the honorable member for Mackellar has finished speaking.
– I know that Labour is making a concerted attempt to laugh this off, but I assure them that they are not going to be able to laugh it off at the coming election. There is a basic confusion over the various definitions of socialism. For public consumption it is to be put as something which is very mild, but if you look at what the members of the party say when they are off their guard you will know that they mean the full treatment. It is thus, I think, that we must evaluate the peculiar confusion of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who, in a television interview, expressed himself in favour of socialism and then watered it down, or tried to do so.
The same confusion lies behind their unity tickets. There is at the present moment an attempt to cover up; to try to give colour to the lie they are living by pretending that there has not been this alliance between the Communists and the Labour party in union elections. They nave .made an example of one or two people only. I have in my hand the unity ticket for the Waterside Workers Federation election last June. Mr. Healy appears on this ticket, as does Mr. Roach. Nobody is going to say that these people are not Communists, so we may assume that any person who is a member of the A.L.P. and who appears on this ticket is liable to expulsion, and if Labour had been honest, should have been dealt with. What are we going to say about Mr. Charlie Bird? He is on the ticket. What are we going to say about Jack Beitz? What are we going to say about Les Lyons, Frank Vincent, Jim Malcolm and Frank Casey? What are we going to say about all these people? Are they going to be expelled, or are they not? What about “Sandy” McIver, “Curly” Rourke, “Shirty” Finnigan and Bill Condron? Here they are. Their names are written down. Are they going .to be dealt with or are they not? The fact that they have not been dealt with is clear evidence of Labour dishonesty; of .the .fact that Labour is living a lie: of the fact that it is trying to deceive the’ Australian people. What are we to think of this little booklet published by the Australian Labour party?
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, I move-
– I call the honorable member for Scullin.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to move that the honorable member for Mackellar be granted an extension of time.
– The honorable member for St. George may proceed.
– You called the honorable member for Scullin, Mr. Speaker.
– That is so, but the honorable member for St. George rose first. I assumed that he wished to speak on the adjournment and I automatically chose an Opposition member, as a Government member had just spoken. My ruling is thai he spoke before the honorable member for Scullin and therefore should have priority.
Motion (by Mr. Graham) proposed -
That the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) be granted an extension of time.
– The question is that the honorable member for Mackellar be granted an extension of time. Those of that opinion say, “Aye”, to the contrary, “ No “. I think the “ Ayes “ have it.
– Order! The honorable member for Lilley will rise, apologize for the comment he made, and withdraw it.
- Mr. Speaker, I-
– Order! The honorable member is out of order. I ask him to withdraw the comment and apologize to the Chair.
– I withdraw the word “ dingo “ and suggest that the Labour party listen-
– Order! The honorable member for Lilley will withdraw unreservedly and apologize to the Chair.
– I withdraw the remark and apologize to the Chair.
– Now resume your seat.
Question put -
That the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) be granted an extension of time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I thank the House, and I assure honorable members that if it had not been for the loss of time in the deliberately caused interruptions of the Labour party, it would not have been necessary to give me this extension of time. I was pointing out that when one looks at the unity tickets, one can see quite clearly that the Australian Labour party is out deliberately to deceive the people. It is trying to get colour for a lie. It has expelled recently, or gone through the motions of expelling, one or two people for standing on unity tickets with Communists. What about all the rest? Why were they not dealt with? The answer is: Because it was not a live election issue. They have not dealt with these people in order to purge the Labour party of communism. They have dealt with them so that people will get a false idea that they are trying to purge the Labour party of communism. Why have not these other people been dealt with? They are named. Here is the unity ticket. Why has nothing been done? Do they not know about it? Was this something else that they did not know, that they had never heard of?
I ask the Opposition members to take their duties a little more seriously, because after all it is of importance to this country that communism should not be allowed to infiltrate into what is still a major political machine here in Australia. I refer to this little book “ The Future of Labour “, which was published by the Australian Labour party, New South Wales branch. It has the official imprint on it. It was published by that branch, just before the branch was purged of the right wing by the left wing, and in it the branch says that if the left wing succeeded in doing these things the Labour party in New South Wales would be, in point of fact, under Communist control. The members of the New South Wales executive wrote that, signed it, and published it. But all copies have been suppressed, so far as it lies in the party’s power to suppress them. I made inquiries a few minutes ago in the Parliamentary Library, and I was told that the Library had been unable to obtain a copy. Why is that? Why is it that the Parliamentary Library, wanting to get a copy of a document of quite considerable political importance, is unable to obtain one? I suggest that everybody in Australia should have a chance of reading what some members of the Labour party then in control of the executive said about other members of the Labour party.
– Read out their names.
– Order! If the honorable member for East Sydney interjects again, I shall deal with him.
– One of the saddest things about this is that the people who were anti-Communist inside the Labour party did not have the courage to stand by their convictions. Like certain honorable members in this House, they preferred their seats to their consciences, and they thought it better to sit in power than to live by their principles.. When left wing elements got into control, these right wing people who were not Communists knuckled down to them, and by so doing they became what Lenin calls a transmission belt to take the policy of the Communist party into the electorate. Lenin says that the historic function of a socialist Labour party is to be a transmission belt for the Communist party, and that is precisely the role which the present Australian Labour party seems bent on pursuing and seems, unfortunately, to have adopted as its settled way of life. In order to make more plausible what it is doing, it is living a lie.
– Order! The honorable member’s extended time has expired.
.- I object to sitting here continually and listening to masters of defamation and calumniation from the other side of the House attacking members of the Labour party and the Labour party generally. After all, these people are masters of this method of attack. At the present time, as my friend the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) pointed out, they are fighting amongst themselves. They have in existence a committee, the object of which is to depose the leaders of their own party. Every one on the other side remembers the time when the late William Morris Hughes said of his leader, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), that he could not lead a flock of homing pigeons. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), speaking of the leader of the present Government, said he was a man without honour. The present member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) said this -
Mr. Menzies can neither call nor command as a leader. Under his leadership the party broke up, and yet he refuses to co-operate under the leadership of anybody else.
In these circumstances the greatest national service he can render the party and Australia would bc to quit politics.
Those of us who stand for a more vigorous policy are anxious that Mr. Menzies’ inevitable failures should not block the path of future progress.
That is what the honorable member for Mackellar said. The point is that that gentleman continually vilifies and reviles every person in public life in this community with whom for the moment he disagrees. He reviled the man who to-day is his leader. He is, as I have said before, the Robespierre of the Liberal party. He is a man who would abolish all that stands in his way - the Labour party first, the Country party next and then those of the Liberal party who are furthest from him, until ultimately he controls the whole destiny of the organization. If he does not do that, or if he has not the capacity to do it, it is not because he has not got the attributes or the desires of a Robespierre.
He has indulged in vilification of the Labour party. We come here with a policy to put before the people. I could stand up and vilify the members of the Government. I could say of the honorable member for Mackellar that he reminds me of a clergyman. I apologize to the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock). The honorable member for Mackellar reminds me of a pseudo-clergyman, a confidence man who dons the garb of the clergy in order to have some appearance of respectability and then seeks to delude all the people with whom he comes in contact.
What does he stand for in public life? He talks of us standing for communism. He is a representative of vested interests. He is the jumping-jack of the private banking institutions of this country. He stands for predatory capitalism in its worst form. He seeks to enrich the rich at the expense of the working section of the community. He talks of unity tickets in trade union elections, as though the trade unions contained only members of the Labour party. We have heard the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) say, “ We would not be in control of the government of this country if it were not for the fact that we secure the votes of trade unionists “. That is quite right. Deluded trade unionists are members of the Liberal party. What are those deluded Liberal party members of the trade unions doing under the organization of the honorable member for Mackellar to rid trade unionism, on the one hand, of communism, or, on the other hand, of the influence of capitalism and the employing section of the community? What are those Liberals within the trade unions doing to promote the real interests of the workers of this country? They are not fighting communism,nor are they fighting capitalism.
Our friend from Mackellar sits and smirks. He thinks that Parliament should be a place that gives him the privilege and the right to attack every member of the community who is opposed to his ideas. He says, “ Ah, yes, there may be some who are decent citizens, but, of course, they are consorting with people who are not decent citizens and the ultimate result is they become tainted like the rest “. If honorable members opposite wish to deal with questions of policies on an economic or a social basis, or if they desire to fight on the basis of the ideology of private enterprise versus socialism, well and good, but if they seek to do the things that the honorable member for Mackellar seeks to do, then they become tainted, just as he is tainted and just as hi lieutenant, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and some others are tainted. At the present time, just because an election is appearing on the horizon, those people think they are entitled to use any lie or make any defamatory statement, no matter how ridiculous or absurd, in the hope that it will help them in the days near at hand when they face their masters, the electors. Let me assure the honorable member for Mackellar that the intelligence of the people of Australia is awakening. They are not going to be deluded by the red herring that he has drawn across the trail so often that to-day it stinks to high heaven.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.37 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Trade with Japan.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has replied as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
An appointment was recently made to the only position which is not occupied, namely, that of Physician Specialist at the Darwin Hospital. It is expected that the successful applicant will take up duty shortly.
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The licence provides for re-grading the area to predetermined levels.
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
ser asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What gross amount has been paid in these allowances (a) over the past twelve months and
– The following information was conveyed to the honorable member in a letter from me dated 28th May, 1958:-
Living allowances or rental subsidies are paid in the following circumstances to Commonwealth public servants transferred or promoted to Canberra until they are able to obtain suitable unfurnished accommodation for themselves and their families: - (a) Where the officer resides at an approved hostel, boarding house or hotel pending the arrival of his family; (b) where the officer and his family obtain temporary accommodation at an approved hostel, boarding house or hotel;
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 September 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1958/19580917_reps_22_hor21/>.