House of Representatives
17 February 1959

23rd Parliament · 1st Session



page 5

PROCLAMATION

The House met at 10.30 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.

The Clerk read the proclamation.

page 5

OPENING OF THE PARLIAMENT

The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that the Deputy of the Governor-General for the Opening of the Parliament requested the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith. (Honorable members attended accordingly, and, having returned) -

The Deputy authorized by the GovernorGeneral to administer the oath or affirmation entered the chamber.

The Clerk read the commission, under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, authorizing the Honorable Sir Frank Walters Kitto, K.B.E., a Justice of the High Court of Australia, to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance to the Queen required by the Constitution to be taken or made by members of the House of Representatives.

page 5

MEMBERS SWORN

The Clerk:

– I lay on the table returns to 124 writs for the election of members of the House of Representatives, held on 22nd November, 1958.

The following honorable members, with the exception of Mr. William John Fulton, who was not present, made and subscribed the oath of allegiance: -

Adermann, Charles Frederick, Fisher, Queensland.

Allan, Archibald Ian, Gwydir, New South Wales.

Anderson, Charles Groves Wright, Hume, New South Wales.

Anthony, John Douglas, Richmond, New South Wales.

Aston, William John, Phillip, New South Wales.

Bandidt, Henry Norman Charles, Wide Bay, Queensland.

Barnard, Lance Herbert, Bass, Tasmania.

Barnes, Charles Edward, McPherson, Queensland.

Barwick, Garfield Edward John, Parramatta, New South Wales.

Bate, Henry Jefferson, Macarthur, New South Wales.

Beazley, Kim Edward, Fremantle, Western Australia.

Bird, Alan Charles, Batman, Victoria.

Bland, Francis Anmand, Warringah, New South Wales.

Bowden, George James, Gippsland, Victoria.

Brimblecombe, Wilfred John, Maranoa, Queensland.

Browne, Peter Grahame, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

Bryant, Gordon Munro, Wills, Victoria.

Buchanan, Alexander Andrew, McMillan, Victoria.

Bury, Leslie Harry Ernest, Wentworth, New South Wales.

Cairns, James Ford, Yarra, Victoria.

Calwell, Arthur Augustus, Melbourne, Victoria.

Cameron, Clyde Robert, Hindmarsh, South Australia.

Cameron, Donald Alastair, Oxley, Queensland.

Casey, Richard Gardiner, La Trobe, Victoria.

Cash, Earl Douglas, Stirling, Western Australia.

Chaney, Frederick Charles, Perth, Western Australia.

Chresby, Arthur Albert, Griffith, Queensland.

Clarey, Percy James, Bendigo, Victoria.

Clark, Joseph James. Darling, New South Wales.

Clay, Lionel Daniel, St. George, New South Wales.

Cleaver, Richard. Swan, Western Australia.

Cope, James Francis, Watson, New South Wales.

Costa, Dominic Eric. Banks, New South Wales.

Courtnay, Frank, Darebin, Victoria.

Cramer, John Oscar, Bennelong, New South Wales.

Crean, Frank, Melbourne Ports, Victoria.

Curtin, Daniel James, Kingsford-Smith, New South Wales.

Daly, Frederick Michael. Grayndler, New South Wales.

Davidson, Charles William, Dawson, Queensland.

Davies, Ronald, Braddon, Tasmania.

Davis, Francis John, Deakin, Victoria.

Dean, Roger Levinge, Robertson, New South Wales.

Downer, Alexander Russell, Angas, South Australia.

Drummond, David Henry, New England, New South Wales.

Drury, Edward Nigel, Ryan, Queensland.

Duthie, Gilbert William Arthur, Wilmot, Tasmania.

Erwin, George Dudley, Ballaarat, Victoria.

Evatt, Herbert Vere, Hunter, New South Wales.

Failes, Laurence John, Lawson, New South Wales.

Fairbairn, David Eric, Farrer, New South Wales.

Fairhall, Allen, Paterson, New South Wales.

Falkinder, Charles William Jackson, Franklin, Tasmania.

Forbes, Alexander James, Barker, South Australia.

Fox, Edmund Maxwell Cameron, Henty, Victoria.

Fraser, Allan Duncan, Eden-Monaro, New South Wales.

Fraser, James Reay, Australian Capital Territory.

Fraser, John Malcolm, Wannon, Victoria.

Freeth, Gordon, Forrest, Western Australia.

Fulton, William John, Leichhardt, Queensland.

Galvin, Patrick, Kingston, South Australia.

Griffiths, Charles Edward, Shortland, New South Wales.

Halbert, Hugh Victor, Moore, Western Australia.

Hamilton, Leonard William, Canning, Western Australia.

Harrison, Eli James, Blaxland, New South Wales.

Hasluck, Paul Meernaa Caedwalla, Curtin, Western Australia.

Haworth, William Crawford, Isaacs, Victoria.

Haylen, Leslie Clement, Parkes, New South Wales.

Holt, Harold Edward, Higgins, Victoria.

Holten, Rendle McNeilage, Indi, Victoria.

Howse, John Brooke, Calare, New South Wales.

Howson, Peter, Fawkner, Victoria.

Hulme, Alan Shallcross, Petrie, Queensland.

Jack, William Mathers, North Sydney, New South Wales.

Johnson, Leslie Royston, Hughes, New South Wales.

Jones, Charles Keith, Newcastle, New South Wales.

Joske, Percy Ernest, Balaclava, Victoria.

Kearney, Victor Dennis, Cunningham, New South Wales.

Kelly, Charles Robert, Wakefield, South Australia.

Kent Hughes, Wilfrid Selwyn, Chisholm, Victoria.

Killen, Denis James, Moreton, Queensland.

King, Robert Shannon, Wimmera, Victoria.

Lawson, George, Brisbane, Queensland.

Lindsay, Robert William Ludovic, Flinders, Victoria.

Luchetti, Anthony Sylvester, Macquarie, New South Wales.

Lucock, Philip Ernest, Lyne, New South Wales.

Mackinnon, Ewen Daniel, Corangamite, Victoria.

Makin, Norman John Oswald, Bonython, South Australia.

McColm, Malcolm Llewellyn, Bowman, Queensland.

McEwen, John, Murray, Victoria.

Mclvor, Hector James, Gellibrand, Victoria.

McLeay, John, Boothby, South Australia.

McMahon, William, Lowe, New South Wales.

Menzies, Robert Gordon, Kooyong, Victoria.

Minogue, Daniel, West Sydney, New South Wales.

Murray, John, Herbert, Queensland.

Nelson, John Norman, Northern Territory.

O’Connor, William Paul, Dalley, New South Wales.

Opperman, Hubert Ferdinand, Corio, Victoria.

Osborne, Frederick Meares, Evans, New South Wales.

Page, Earle Christmas Grafton, Cowper, New South Wales.

Pearce, Henry George, Capricornia, Queensland.

Peters, Edward William, Scullin, Victoria.

Pollard, Reginald Thomas, Lalor, Victoria.

Reynolds, Leonard James, Barton, New South Wales.

Riordan, William James Frederick, Kennedy, Queensland.

Roberton, Hugh Stevenson, Riverina, New South Wales.

Russell, Edgar Hughes Deg, Grey, South Australia.

Sexton, Joseph Clement Leonard, Adelaide, South Australia.

Snedden, Billy Mackie, Bruce, Victoria.

Stewart, Francis Eugene, Lang, New South Wales.

Stokes, Philip William Clifford, Maribyrnong, Victoria.

Swartz, Reginald William Colin, Darling Downs, Queensland.

Thompson, Albert Victor, Port Adelaide, South Australia.

Timson, Thomas Frank, Higinbotham, Victoria.

Townley, Athol Gordon, Denison, Tasmania.

Turnbull, Winton George, Mallee, Victoria.

Turner, Henry Basil, Bradfield, New South Wales.

Uren, Thomas, Reid, New South Wales.

Ward, Edward John, East Sydney, New South Wales.

Wentworth, William Charles, Mackellar, New South Wales.

Wheeler, Roy Crawford, Mitchell, New South Wales.

Whitlam, Edward Gough, Werriwa, New South Wales.

Wight, Bruce McDonald, Lilley, Queensland.

Wilson, Keith Cameron, Sturt, South Australia.

The Deputy then retired.

page 7

MR. SPEAKER

Election

The Clerk:

– Honorable members, it is now the duty of the House to elect a member as Speaker.

Mr WILSON:
Sturt

– I propose to the House, for its Speaker, Mr. McLeay, and I move -

That the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. McLeay) do take the chair of this House as Speaker.

Mr Hamilton:

– I second the motion.

Mr McLeay:

– I accept nomination.

The Clerk:

– Is there any further proposal? (There being no further proposal) -

The Clerk:

– The time for proposals has expired, and I declare that the honorable member proposed, Mr. McLeay, has been elected as Speaker. (Members of the House then calling Mr. McLeay to the chair, he was taken out of his place by Mr. Wilson and Mr. Hamilton and’ conducted to the chair) -

Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay:
BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– I should like to express a. deep appreciation to the House for the great honour it has conferred upon me by electing me to the honoured, office of Speaker. (Mr. Speaker having seated himself in the chair) -

Mr MENZIES:
Prime Minister · Kooyong · LP

– The Speaker of this House has, as we all realize, great powers and responsibilities in relation to the orderliness of debate, the relevance of debate and, indeed, the credit and reputation of the Parliament itself. In those circumstances it must give you, Mr. Speaker, particular satisfaction to know that you have once more, after three years’ experience in the chair, been elected by the House, without contest, to occupy this office for another term. I congratulate you on behalf of the Government, and assure you of the support of all honorable members.

Dr EVATT:
Leader of the Opposition · Hunter

– I join in congratulating you, Mr. Speaker, upon your election to office. During your previous term of office, the Opposition was greatly impressed by your efficiency in the Chair and above all by the spirit of fairness and tolerance that you showed during all the debates. I mentioned that fact at the close of the last Parliament. Having regard to your fairness and your other qualities, the Opposition believes that the House has been fortunate to retain your services as Speaker. I congratulate you.

Mr SPEAKER:

-I should like to thank honorable members for the compliment they have paid me in re-electing me as Speaker. I assure you, gentlemen, that I am deeply aware of the obligations that I have accepted. I am aware of my shortcomings but, with the help of God, and with the tolerance and understanding of all honorable members, I hope that we shall be able to maintain the dignity of the Parliament and proceed, with the business of the House in harmony.

Presentation to the Governor-General’.

Mr. MENZIES (Kooyong- Prime Minister). - I have ascertained that it will be the pleasure of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to receive you, Mr. Speaker, in the Library of the Parliament at approximately 2.46 p.m. this day.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Prior to my presentation to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral this afternoon the bells will be rung for three minutes so that any honorable members who may desire to do- so may attend in the chamber and accompany me and, if they so wish, be introduced to His Excellency.

Sitting suspended from 11.22 a.m. to 2.45 p.m. (The House proceeded to the Library, and, being re-assembled) -

Mr SPEAKER:

– I have to report that, accompanied by honorable members, I this day proceeded to the Library of the Parliament and presented myself to His Excellency the Governor-General as the choice of the House, and that His Excellency was kind enough to congratulate me on my election as Speaker.

page 8

COMMISSION TO ADMINISTER OATH

Mir. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).-

I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General a commission authorizing me to administer to members of the House the oath, or affirmation of allegiance. I now lay the commission on the table.

page 8

MESSAGE FROM THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL

The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered a message that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith. (Mr. Speaker and honorable members attended accordingly and, having returned) -

page 9

MINISTERIAL ARRANGEMENTS

Mr MENZIES:
Prime Minister · Kooyong · LP

– I desire to announce to the House the constitution of the Seventh Menzies Ministry. The Ministry consists of 22 Ministers as follows: -

Prime Minister - The Right Honorable R. G. Menzies, C.H., Q.C

Minister for Trade - The Right Honorable John McEwen.

Treasurer - The Right Honorable Harold Holt

Minister for External Affairs and Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization - The Right Honorable R. G. Casey, C.H., D.S.O., M.C.

Minister for National Development - Senator the Honorable W. H. Spooner, M.M.

Minister for Defence - The Honorable A. G. Townley

Minister for Territories - The Honorable Paul Hasluck

Minister for Labour and National Service - The Honorable W. McMahon.

Minister for Shipping and Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation - Senator the Honorable Shane Paltridge.

Postmaster-General - The Honorable

  1. W. Davidson, O.B.E.

Minister for Immigration - The Honorable A. R. Downer

Attorney-General - The Honorable Sir Garfield Barwick, Q.C

Minister for Repatriation - Senator the Honorable Sir Walter Cooper, M.B.E.

Minister for Health - The Honorable

  1. A. Cameron, O.B.E.

Minister for the Army - The Honorable J. O. Cramer.

Minister for Air - The Honorable F. M. Osborne, D.S.C

Minister for Social Services - The Honorable H. S. Roberton

Minister for Customs and Excise - Senator the Honorable N. H. D. Henty.

Minister for Primary Industry - The Honorable C. F. Adermann

Minister for Supply - The Honorable A. S. Hulme

Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works- The Honorable G. Freeth.

Minister for the Navy - Senator the Honorable J. G. Gorton.

The first twelve Ministers I have named will constitute Cabinet. We will continue our practice of co-opting other Ministers as required.

Mr. Holt will continue as Leader of this House and Senator Spooner will be Leader of the Government in the Senate and VicePresident of the Executive Council. Senator Paltridge will be Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate.

In the Senate, Senator Spooner will represent the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence, the Minister for External Affairs, the Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and the Minister for Trade.

Senator Paltridge will represent the Treasurer, the Minister for Air and the Minister for .Supply.

Senator Sir Walter Cooper will represent the Postmaster-General, the Minister for Territories, the Minister for the Interior and the Minister for Works.

Senator Henty will represent the Minister for Social Services, the Minister for Immigration, the Minister for Health and the Minister for the Army.

Senator Gorton will represent the Minister for Labour and National Service the Attorney-General, and the Minister for Primary Industry.

The Minister for National Development will be represented in this chamber by the Attorney-General, except on matters Which concern war service homes. These matters will be handled by the Minister for Social Services.

The Minister for Civil Aviation will ,be represented by the Minister for Defence, and the Minister for Shipping and Transport by the Minister for Supply.

The Minister for Repatriation will .be represented by the Minister for Health.

The Minister for Customs and Excise will be represented by the Minister for Air and the Minister for the Navy will be represented by the Minister for the Interior.

page 9

LEADERSHIP OF THE OPPOSITION

Dr EVATT:
Hunter

– I have the honour to announce that I have been appointed Leader of the Opposition, and that my colleague, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has been chosen as Deputy Leader.

page 10

LEADERSHIP OF THE AUSTRALIAN COUNTRY PARTY

Mr McEWEN:
Minister for Trade · Murray · CP

– I have the great honour of announcing that I have been elected Leader of the Australian Country party, and that my colleague, the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Davidson), has been elected deputy leader.

page 10

OFFICERS OF THE HOUSE

Mr SPEAKER:

– I desire to inform the House that, consequent upon the retirement of Mr. Tregear, the following promotions of officers in attendance in the chamber have been made: -

Clerk of the House, Mr. Turner; ClerkAssistant, Mr. Parkes; Second ClerkAssistant, Mr. Pettifer; Third Clerk-Assistant, Mr. Blake; and Serjeant-at-Arms, Mr. Browning.

page 10

EVIDENCE BILL 1959

Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -

That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Evidence Act 1905-1956.

Bill presented, and read a first time.

page 10

GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH

Mr SPEAKER:

– I have to report that the House this day attended His Excellency the Governor-General in the Senate chamber, when His Excellency was pleased to make a Speech to both Houses of the Parliament. The Speech will be included in “ Hansard “ for record purposes.

The Speech read as follows: -

You have been called together to deal with matters of national moment. The Parliament having been dissolved and a general election having occurred, the 23 rd Parliament is now duly constituted.

When last I addressed Parliament, we were happy to have with us Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Her Majesty’s visit was an outstanding success and was enjoyed, I am sure, as much by Her Majesty as by the people of Australia, who fell once more under the spell -of her charm and graciousness.

This year we are to have the honour and pleasure of another Royal Visitor - Her Royal Highness The Princess Alexandra of Kent, who, at the invitation of the Commonwealth, will visit three States and the National Capital with the prime objective of gracing by her presence the Queensland Centenary Celebrations. We congratulate Queensland on having reached this historic year: This vast and prosperous State is making giant strides towards a great and happy future.

Later this year, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association will hold its general conference in Australia. Members of Parliaments of other Commonwealth countries, nurtured in the same traditions of Parliamentary Government as ourselves, will meet in Canberra and will later tour Australia. They will be amongst us for some seven weeks and, during that time, will have every opportunity to know our country and our people.

Just before the end of the last Parliament, a joint committee of both Houses submitted a number of specific recommendations for constitutional review. My Government proposes that the committee should be re-constituted immediately to complete this work. My Government will then give close consideration to the proposals with a view to determining whether constitutional amendments should be submitted to Parliament and to the electors.

My advisers believe that much can be done to promote friendly international relations and bring about closer understanding and co-operation between nations by the exchange of visits of national leaders. Last year we had the pleasure of a visit from the Right Honorable John Diefenbaker, Prime Minister of Canada, and quite recently my Government had important discussions over a wide range of questions of common interest with Dr. Subandrio, the Foreign Minister of Indonesia. At the end of March my Minister for External Affairs will visit Japan and the Republic of Korea which are countries of great significance in the Pacific area.

Our relations with the countries of Asia are of first-rate importance. Trade between Australia and Asian countries will be further developed and Australia will continue to play an active part in helping to raise living standards in the countries of Asia through the Colombo Plan.

In March, the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, a regional body of the United Nations, will hold its annual meeting at Broadbeach in Queensland and will be attended by distinguished representatives from many countries, principally in Asia.

My Government will continue to give full support to the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. My Minister for External Affairs will lead the Australian delegation to the annual Council of Ministers meeting, which will be held in Wellington, New Zealand, from 8th to !0th April.

Australia has always supported negotiations, bolt within the United Nations and elsewhere, to achieve balanced general disarmament. My Government has welcomed the fact that, at a technical conference in Geneva in July and August, substantial agreement was reached on the feasibility of instituting a control system to detect the violation of any possible agreement to suspend nuclear weapons tests. My Government hopes that the United States, the United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics will be able to agree on the actual discontinuance of nuclear tests and the establishment of a control system. My Government has already announced that it is willing to allow the establishment in Australia of international inspection posts as part of a comprehensive agreed programme for the supervision of tests and for disarmament. Since the suspension of nuclear weapons tests is not in itself real disarmament, Australia will continue to work for an effective and controlled system of all-round reduction of armaments.

Australia has also been chosen a member of a United Nations committee set up to consider ways and means of encouraging international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

My Government believes that there is great scope and need for more international co-operation in the promotion of scientific research and in its dissemination and application.

This year the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition will maintain its activities at four southern stations - at Macquarie Island in the sub-Antarctic and at Mawson, Davis, and Wilkes on the Antarctic Continent. The valuable research which proceeded before and during the International Geophysical Year at these bases will be maintained. Exploration of unknown areas of Australian Antarctic territory will proceed.

My Government will continue with energy to promote the defences of the nation, with emphasis on the provision of highly-trained and wellequipped forces from which Australia could make a prompt contribution in any emergency in support of our national security and treaty obligations. During this year, two more Daring class destroyers will be added to the fleet. The provision of modern equipment for the First Infantry Brigade Group and other elements of the Regular Army Field Force will continue to receive high priority. The twelve Hercules transport aircraft for the Air Force have been delivered from the United States and are now being brought into service: These aircraft will be a major factor in providing mobility for the Australian Armed Forces. Units of the Australian Navy, Army and Air Force continue to serve in the British Commonwealth Strategic Reserve in Malaya. The air component has recently been strengthened by a Canberra squadron and two Sabre fighter squadrons.

Airfields at Butterworth in Malaya and at Townsville were completed during the last year. The strategic airfield at Darwin (which will also be used by civil airlines) is now nearing completion and other airfield works of strategic importance, including those at Alice Springs and Learmonth, are proceeding.

Work continues in the field of defence science much of it in direct collaboration with the United Kingdom.

The realization of the first objective of the guided weapons testing range at Woomera - the development of the comparatively short range for testing anti-aircraft guided weapons - has been marked by the entry into production of two British air-to-air weapons and the most advanced of the ground-to-air weapons. The same range, with some elaboration, is now also in use for testing the deterrent “stand-off” bomb and for numerous launchings in the International Geophysical Year of the upper atmosphere research rocket, “ Skyla: k “. The progress during the year culminated in the recent successful first firing of the “Black Knight “ test rocket, forerunner of Britain’s ballistic missiles.

In parallel with this work, substantial progress has been made with the second stage of the development of the range, involving its extension from Woomera to the western limit of the Australian mainland. Preparations for the testing of the long range ballistic missile “ Blue Streak “ on this range are well advanced.

In conjunction with the Government of the United States of America, a special satellite tracking a:id observing station has been set up at Woomera. Data obtained at the station is transmitted to satellite centres in the United States of America i-v radio and its observations have been of conFi’de-able value in the study of the satellites already launched.

An outstanding achievement has been the completion of research and development on the antitank short range controlled weapon “ Malkara “ which has been proved by trials at Woomera and Puckapunyal to have an accuracy and power in excess of any comparable weapon in the world.

When I last addressed you, there had been an interruption to the growth of trade and production in some countries overseas and particularly in the United States of America. In this situation. Australia had experienced a substantial fall in prices for many of her exports. More recently, economic activity in the United States has risen and elsewhere prospects for expansion, at least later this year, appear good. The prices of a number of our exports have risen but the price of wool, which is of the greatest importance for Australia, has remained at a relatively low level. Australia’s exports in the six months ended December, 1958, were £75.000,000 lower than in the corresponding six months of 1957. However, Australia’s international reserves fell by only £25.000,000 between June and December, 1958, and at the end of the year stood at £500,000,000. The relatively small fall in reserves was in part the result of Government borrowing in London and New York; but an important sustaining influence has been the continued substantial inflow of private capital. Overseas investors have shown in this tangible way their confidence in the basic soundness of the Australian economy and its ability lo weather temporary difficulties caused by fluctuations in world commodity markets.

My advisers inform me that production and demand in Australia continue to rise and that our economy has done better than most others in maintaining expansion. During 1958 employment opportunities continued to increase. There are some problems affecting particular localities, but employment generally is at a high level.

My Government welcomes the decision of the United Kingdom Government to provide wider convertibility for the pound sterling. Sterling is the currency in which the greater part of Australia’s trade is financed and in which the bulk of Australia’s international reserves are held. It is also the currency most widely used in internationaltrade. A strong and stable pound sterling is therefore not only of great importance to Australia but also to a general revival’ and expansion of worldtrade.

My Government also welcomes the proposals for an increase in the resources of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The strengthening of these important international institutions would be a valuable support to currency convertibility and to the growth of world production and trade.

My Government considers that there is a pressing need to review the present financial relations between the Commonwealth and the State governments. Accordingly, it has arranged for a special Premiers’ conference to be held early next month to discuss the complex problems that exist in this field.

The existing legislation under which financial assistance for roads purposes is provided to the State governments expires on 30th June next. A meeting has already been held with representatives of the State governments and local authorities and various bodies concerned with roads to discuss the general nature of the roads problem and the extent and form of future Commonwealth financial assistance to the States for roads will be discussed at the special Premiers’ conference on Commonwealth-State financial relations.

My Government will set up a competent and independent public investigation of Commonwealth taxation laws.

During the last Parliament, bills were introduced to effect certain changes in the Commonwealth’s banking legislation that were considered to be necessary for the fully effective working of the Australian banking system. These bills were twice passed by the House of Representatives, but were rejected by the Senate on each occasion. My Government is confirmed in its conviction that the proposed changes should be proceeded with, and the bills will be again introduced early in this session of the new Parliament.

My Government accepts the principle of decimal coinage and is establishing a committee to inquire into ways and means of adopting it. A committee of inquiry will also be formed to consider the provisions of the Bills of Exchange Act. In both these cases there will be opportunity for interested parties to make their views known.

The past year has been a difficult one for overseas trade. My Government is pursuing an active trade policy directed towards the consolidation of existing export outlets and the development ot new trading opportunities. It has achieved some success in protecting Australian export industries from unfair trading practices of others.

The Australian Government has been studying closely the continuing trend towards economic integration in Europe in which a notable development on 1st January this year was the revision of tariffs and quotas between the six nations of the European Economic Community. Negotiations are continuing towards the creation of a European Free Trade Area under which other Western European countries, including the United

Kingdom, would be associated’ with the European Economic Community. My Government will continue to keep in touch with these developments and to act as required to safeguard Australia’s interests.

My Government through the Minister for Trade made an important contribution towards the agreement on the objective of stable commodity prices reached among British Commonwealth countries at Montreal last September.

Australia, last year, became the first country to enter into a trade agreement with the Independent Federation of Malaya. We participated in the negotiations for a new international sugar agreement and will, this year, be closely associated with negotiations for a new international wheat agreement and with discussions on the problem of world trade in lead and zinc.

My Government has maintained a stable import level and avoided the disruptive effect of frequent changes in the level of import licensing. Administrative changes, have been introduced to give importers greater freedom to purchase raw materials and capital equipment from the most competitive source including dollar countries.

In the development of our natural resources which depends upon the capacity of our manufacturing industry, my advisers will continue with the well established policy of protection for efficient Australian industries.

My Government continues to support the development of research schemes for primary industries on a co-operative basis between the Government and the producers of wool, wheat, tobacco, barley and dairy products. My Government is discussing a similar research scheme with the beef industry. As a result of the schemes now in operation the funds available for research in these fields have been increased by no less than £1,500,000 a year.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is achieving considerable success in research aimed at assisting wool to maintain its competitive position with man-made fibres.

My Government proposes very shortly, in association with the States, to appoint an impartial committee of inquiry to investigate and report on the complex problems of the dairy industry.

My Government has decided to double the amount of assistance to be provided to the Western Australian Government for the development of the area of Western Australia north of the twentieth parallel of latitude. Up to £5,000,000 will be available during the five years commencing 1st July, 1958, for projects which would make a net addition to the development of the area and which would not have been carried out without Commonwealth assistance. The prime responsibility for the selection, planning and execution of developmental projects within the area will rest with the Western Australian Government.

My Government has done much both by financial and by technical assistance to foster the search for oil in Australia and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. This assistance will continue. In each of the financial years 1959-60 and 1960-61 £500,000 will be available under the existing subsidy arrangements. A further sum of £1,000,000 will be provided each year to assist in the search far oil.

The Snowy Mountains Agreement between my Government and the governments of the States of New South Wales and Victoria recently came into force and this great national undertaking may now proceed on a sound constitutional basis. Action has also been taken by those governments and the Government of South Australia to amend the River Murray Waters Agreement. Later this year the capacity of the Hume Reservoir will have been increased to 2,500,000 acre feet - double its original capacity.

Australia now has an adequate supply of coal from more efficient mines. However, mechanization has also led to re-employment problems in New South Wales, but my Government has cooperated with the State Government and with industry in measures to overcome these difficulties. Considerable success has been achieved and these efforts will continue. Consideration is also being given to possible alternative uses of coal.

The Atomic Energy Commission is continuing to assist the development of Australia’s uranium resources and is proceeding with advanced research into the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

This financial year a record amount of approximately £80,000,000 is being provided by my Government for housing. This will enable the normal current demand to be met and, in addition, will permit a substantial reduction in the already diminished arrears. My Government will continue to encourage home ownership.

Work is proceeding on the major standard gauge railway project from Albury to Melbourne. The results of this operation will be of considerable assistance to my advisers in their consideration of their major rail standardization proposals.

My Government has given substantial assistance, both financial and technical, to the Australian shipbuilding industry. The subsidy arrangement is being examined by the Tariff Board and my advisers will shortly be in a position to review the subsidy. 1959 will see the introduction into service of the fleet of jet airliners which my Government authorized Qantas to purchase for its international services. Re-equipment of the domestic airlines with modern turbo-prop aircraft will be stepped up. So as to ensure the maximum use of the new equipment, my Government will accelerate the development of both international airports and airports at country centres.

The Post Office is continuing to expand and improve its postal and telecommunication services to meet the growing needs of the community. Television services are now well established in Sydney and Melbourne and will be introduced by both national and commercial stations to Brisbane and to Adelaide, Perth and Hobart. Preliminary consideration is also being given to means by which television can be extended to major provincial and country centres.

The remarkable record of freedom from industrial disturbance in 1957 was surpassed by the record in 1958; not for twenty years has there been a period of two successive years in which the record has been equalled. A particular contribution has been made by the new emphasis which my Government has placed on conciliation. My Government proposes to meet the additional cost to unions of court-controlled ballots.

A stable and continuing immigration programme is generally accepted as essential to continuing development of our natural resources. The kinds of people we most want to settle in Australia are each year becoming more difficult to obtain in the numbers we require. Nevertheless, my Government will endeavour to maintain the flow of migration at a level consistent with an annual target of net immigration equal to 1 per cent, increase in our population. Legislation will be introduced to simplify naturalization procedures under the Nationality and Citizenship Act and to do away with the issue of a certificate of registration under the Aliens Act.

There continues to be substantial progress in the development of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Emphasis will be placed by my Government on agricultural extension work, native land tenure and distribution problems. Steady progress is being made through native local government councils and through Public Service training schemes in educating the native people towards a greater participation in the administration of the Territory.

My advisers have given close attention to the question of constitutional reform in the Northern Territory and in this session legislation will be brought down to provide for an increase in the number of non-official members of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory and for the creation of an Administrator’s Council, which will be associated with the Administrator in certain functions of administration, and changes m the procedures regarding the tabling of Northern Territory ordinances in the Commonwealth Parliament and the procedures in respect of assent to or disallowance of ordinances. These measures will be a marked step forward in the constitutional development of the Territory and will help to foster the growth of political responsibility in the Territory.

My Government will continue its policy of keeping social services under constant review to ensure that they meet the needs and changing circumstances of our growing population. It will see to it that, as the economy permits, these social services provide the community with the assistance it requires. The effects of the recent legislation to provide supplementary assistance to improve the circumstances of those who are in the greatest need will be closely watched.

Following its consideration of the report of the Murray Committee, my Government proposes to introduce legislation to establish a University Grants Committee. It has already selected a chairman.

My Government has decided that there should be one law of marriage and divorce operating throughout Australia and that that law should make suitable and adequate provision for marriage guidance and other means of preserving marriages and safeguarding the interests of children. A bill, which will be based upon a private member’s bill introduced in the last Parliament, will be brought in during the present session. Before a full debate of the measure is undertaken, adequate time will be afforded members of the Parliament and interested bodies to examine the provisions of the legislation.

My advisers hope that the present Parliament will have an opportunity of considering legislation to bring up to date the law covering both copyright and bankruptcy. This will round off the programme which my present Ministers set themselves when they first came into office of reviewing and modernizing the whole of the law of industrial property and bankruptcy.

In the earnest hope that Divine Providence may guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth, I now leave you to the discharge of your high and important duties.

page 14

ADDRESS-IN-REPLY

Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -

That a committee, consisting of Mr. Browne, Mr. Bandidt and the mover, be appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of the Parliament, and that the committee do report this day.

page 14

DEATH OF THE HONORABLE HENRY ADAM BRUCE, M.P

Mr MENZIES:
Prime Minister · Kooyong · LP

– Since the House last met we have lost two former colleagues. I want to refer, first, to the death of the late Henry Adam Bruce, who sat in this House for some time, was well known to all of us and, I think, was highly regarded by all of us. The late Mr. Bruce sat for very many years in the Queensland Parliament before he came here- He represented the Queensland State electorates of Kennedy and Tableland for 27 years before he came to this House. He was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Queensland in 1923, and was Secretary for Public Works, or, as we would say, Minister, from 1932 to 1947, fifteen years during which I know he made a great mark on public works development in his own State. He was Secretary for Public Instruction from 1938 to 1941 and from 1947 to 1950. Having been in the Queensland Parliament for 27 years and having served so great a period of time as a Minister in responsible posts in the Queensland Parliament, Mr. Bruce retired from that parliament in 1950 and came into this House as member for Leichhardt in 1951. He had in fact decided before the end of the last Parliament to retire from politics, but, to the great sorrow of every body, death overtook him. Our late friend is survived by a wife and a daughter.

I think it is permissible to say that those of us in this House who had not known our late colleague closely before did not see him in the full vigour of his political life and service. He was by this time growing old. But I am perfectly certain that even then no man in this House would have felt him to be an enemy. Every man felt him to be a friend. Before he came here, he had, as I have pointed out, given many years of service to a very great State in which the possibilities of development already converted into fact and those yet to be converted are quite enormous - an adventurous State, a State with a great future, a State whose history in the last 25, 30 or even 40 years has really been something to marvel at. I like to think that we remember him in this House not only as a man who was our friend in this place but also as a man who, before he came here, rendered great service to the people of Australia.

On behalf of the Government and members of the Government parties, Sir, I would like to express our deepest sympathy to our late colleague’s wife and his daughter and our profound appreciation of the work he did for our country. I therefore move -

That this House express its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Henry Adam Bruce, a former member of the Legislative Assembly in the State of Queensland and member of this House since 1951, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his wife and family in their bereavement.

Dr EVATT:
Leader of the Opposition · Hunter

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to second this motion. It was indeed a remarkable career that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has summarized. Harry Bruce served his State for 27 years and then came into the Commonwealth Parliament, where he served for another seven years. Harry Bruce, the man, had a remarkable personality. He was a very distinguished presence even in his age, and no one will forget his addresses from the benches of this chamber on many subjects. Undoubtedly, he rendered great service to Queensland in the development of the great public works of that State and also in the cause of public education. He was a very loyal and lovable man. Everybody in the party to which he belonged admired him intensely, and I am sure that that feeling was shared by all members of the House. He was not spared to enjoy a period of retirement, and the circumstances of his sudden death were tragic. We did not have an opportunity to refer to his career and his services at the time.

We will never forget our late colleague’s way of speaking, which was characterized by his peculiar and typical drawl and the clear way in which he expressed himself, and we must not forget the services that he rendered to Australia. That is why this motion has been moved. In his early days he was a very famous athlete, and to the end of his life he retained a position as one of the trustees of the famous Brisbane cricket ground, where he followed all the great sports for which Queensland is famous. So I have the greatest honour in seconding the motion, and 1 especially wish to convey the sympathy of all of us to Mrs. Bruce and their daughter.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.

page 15

DEATH OF MR. WALTER MAXWELL NAIRN

Mr MENZIES:
Prime Minister · Kooyong · LP

– Walter Maxwell Nairn, who was very well known in this House when I first entered it, died in Western Australia on 12th December, 1958, at the age of 80. He had in fact practised his profession as a solicitor right up to the time of his death. He came into this House as the member for Perth in 1929 and he held the seat until the general election of 1943. He was a member of the Bankruptcy Legislation Committee, a temporary chairman of committees, a member of the Public Works Committee, and then Speaker of this House from 20th November, 1940, to 21st June, 1943.

I speak as one of the comparatively few members of the House who were here when Mr. Nairn was a member, and I very well remember his becoming Speaker and retaining that office, as I have said, for some years. He was a Speaker who won the admiration, I think, of everybody in this House. He was quiet, relevant, clear, and greatly respected. It is interesting to recall that not long before he died I was talking to one of my senior colleagues about certain past events and we both spoke about Walter Nairn as a man who had made a mark in the chair of this House. He will be remembered for a long time by those of us who were with him. But of course, Sir, he will be remembered longer than that by people whom he represented in the electorate of Perth - a very important electorate. He was a man of singular fidelity and integrity, who represented his people and stood by his own faith as he understood it. Of course, on top of that, any man who sits in the Speaker’s chair of this House and contributes to the stream of tradition so important in a Parliament of this kind deserves very well, if not of the republic, at any rate of the kingdom.

I speak about him not with some exaggerated sorrow. He lived to be 80. He had a full life. He would not wish us to be unduly sorrowful in that sense. Therefore I speak of him with affection and with pride, and I would like his wife, his son, and his daughter, to know that that is how we fell about him and that is how we spoke about him in this House when at last he died. So. Sir, I move -

That this House express its deep regret at the death of Walter Maxwell Nairn, a member of this House from 1929 until 1943 and its Speaker from 1940 until 1943, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his wife and family in their bereavement.

Dr EVATT:
Leader of the Opposition · Hunter

– I second the motion submitted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I had the honour of being in the Parliament over which Mr. Walter Nairn presided as Speaker, and I fully endorse the Prime Minister’s remarks about him. Mr. Nairn was a very able presiding officer. He presided over the House in difficult times, times of crisis, and his coolness and courtesy made him an admirable chairman of the important deliberations of this House. He belongs to a long and industrious line of Speakers of the House of Representatives and, indeed, as the Prime Minister has said, he also represented his constituency of Perth with great distinction. I hope that this resolution will be a source of pride and satisfaction, as it should be, to his wife and family.

Mr CHANEY:
Perth

– As the member for Perth, I should like to be associated with this motion of condolence submitted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and seconded by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). As they pointed out, few honorable members of this House will remember Mr. Walter Nairn as a sitting member, and the number of those who do is decreasing as the years go by. Walter Nairn’s activities in the sphere of federal politics are well known in his home State. He achieved what so few of us can hope to achieve - a life of effectiveness right up to the time of his death. I think that his term as Speaker covered the period when the first Curtin Ministry was in office. That was during the last war, and my memory of events of seventeen or eighteen years ago is growing rather dim. I know that his widow, son and daughter will accept with a great deal of appreciation this expression of sympathy from the House.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.

page 16

QUESTION

EMPLOYMENT

Dr EVATT:

– I should like to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question relating to statements that are issued by his department from time to time concerning the employment situation. Will the Minister endeavour to have those statements issued more regularly? Will he cause them to deal with one or two points that I shall shortly state? The last statement issued shows that the number of persons registered as unemployed has risen, as at 30th January last, to 81,901, and that the number of those in receipt of unemployment benefit has, I think, passed 30,000. Will the Minister place these facts in more regular sequence before the public, and will he endeavour to see that the true position i9 not glossed over by the continuous reference by his department to the “ Australian work force “, which includes a large number of employers and with which the current number of unemployed is compared, thus failing to give a true picture of the relationship of unemployed persons-

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order! I think that the right honorable gentleman is asking rather a lengthy question.

Dr EVATT:

– I shall bring my question to a close. Will the Minister try to include once again in the return the total number of unemployed persons, and so work out their percentages on that basis, which would give, I submit, a truer picture?

Mr McMAHON:
Minister for Labour and National Service · LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– Honorable members have on several occasions heard the substance of what the Leader of the Opposition has just said. I can but repeat that there has been no change in the method of presentation while this Government has been in office nor, for that matter, since the present Opposition was in office.

Dr Evatt:

– That is incorrect. The drastic change in the method of presentation in connexion with the “ work force “ was made by your predecessor only six months ago.

Mr McMAHON:

– I listened to you with courtesy when you were asking your question. Will you please listen to the reply with equal courtesy?

As to whether these statements can be more regularly issued, the fact is that they are now issued once a month and I doubt whether any really useful purpose could be served if they were issued more frequently. As to the definition of the “ Australian work force”, my colleague, the former Minister for Labour and National Service, has on several occasions explained to this House that the definition is that used by the Commonwealth Statistician and has not been changed in any detail by this Government. I shall have a look in a little more detail at the last part of the question asked by the right honorable gentleman, and if there are any suggestions that I consider worth while, I shall discuss them with my colleague.

page 16

QUESTION

AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING COMMISSION STUDIOS, PERTH

Mr CHANEY:

– I ask the Minister for the Interior a question regarding the new Australian Broadcasting Commission building in Western Australia. In view of the fact that the Empire Games are to be held in Perth in 1962, the Lord Mayor of Perth is anxious to commence the building of a new town hall on the site of the present Australian Broadcasting Commission building. Are any steps being taken to complete the new Australian Broadcasting Commission building as quickly as possible?

Mr FREETH:
Minister for the Interior · FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– I am happy to be able to tell the honorable member for Perth that in response to a request by the Lord Mayor of Perth to the Prime Minister, the Department of Works has approached the contractor and has arrived at a very satisfactory arrangement for the building to be completed, it is hoped, about six months ahead of the originally projected date. It was intended that the building would be completed in 1961. We now hope to have it completed by some time in June, 1960. An arrangement to this effect has been concluded with the Postmaster-General’s Department, and the Treasury has agreed to meet the considerable extra cost involved. I think the extra cost will be about £30,000 or £40,000. In view of the real need to assist the Lord Mayor to have a suitable town hall and municipal buildings in which to welcome the participants in the Empire Games, we felt that that was a desirable course to take.

page 17

QUESTION

ARBITRATION COURT BUILDING

Mr CLAREY:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA

– I preface my question, which is directed to the Attorney-General, by stating that I was present when he opened the new air-conditioned arbitration court building in Melbourne recently. I now ask the Attorney-General: What steps are to be taken to air-condition the rooms used by the commissioners, the conciliators, the Registrar and the administrative staff? Have any plans been formulated to improve the conditions for arbitration in Sydney?

Sir GARFIELD BARWICK:
Attorney-General · PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– At the opening of the building, I observed myself that the air-conditioning was not general throughout the building. I made some inquiry at the time, but have not pursued it further. However, I will look into the question to see whether, within the limits of reasonable cost, something can be done to extend the areas that are air conditioned.

page 17

QUESTION

CYCLONE WARNING SYSTEMS

Mr WIGHT:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND

– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether he is satisfied with the storm warning system which was introduced into Queensland recently. Did it give satisfactory warning of the cyclone which struck the Townsville area yesterday?

Mr FREETH:
LP

– I think it can be said that, as far as was humanly possible, the storm warning system in North Queensland worked1 satisfactorily. At least four days’ clear indication of the approach of the cyclone was given. It was first detected 400 miles east of Townsville and warnings were continued at regular intervals over the radio network until finally the communication system broke down after the cyclone had struck. It was then, in fact, some miles south-west of Townsville. The Director of

Meteorology considers that the system functioned as it was designed to do and that the people concerned had all the warning that could reasonably be expected of the approaching cyclone.

page 17

QUESTION

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

Voting Rights of Member

Mr J R FRASER:
ALP

– I ask the Prime Minister whether he would1 consider reducing the Government’s majority by one by amending the Australian Capital Territory Representation Act so as to give full voting rights to the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory in this House. In considering this matter, would the Prime Minister have regard to the fact that the population of the Territory is now about 43,000 and that the electoral enrolment is approaching 21,000? Would the Prime Minister recognize, also, that the increases in population and enrolment have been brought about largely by the transfer of families from his own State of Victoria and, possibly, from his own electorate of Kooyong and that their representation in this Parliament should not be diminished, either personally, or, in fact, by their transfer to this electorate?

Mr MENZIES:
LP

– I am very grateful to the honorable member for having mentioned that some of my constituents have come here. They are accustomed to being so well represented that, I am sure, they would be unhappy in Canberra. I do not know whether the honorable member really wants to have a full vote for the Australian Capital Territory. It seems it may expose his holding of the seat to some danger; but that is for him to determine.

We do not propose, at this stage, to give a full vote to the Australian Capital Territory. For some time we have been in consultation, through our colleague the Minister for Territories, with a delegation from the Northern Territory about the whole of this problem of representation and in due course he will, no doubt, have something to say about it. But if the honorable member wants to know now whether we propose to give a full vote to the Australian Capital Territory, the answer is, “ No “.

page 17

QUESTION

FLOUR

Mr FAILES:
LAWSON, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I ask the Minister for Trade whether it has been reported that

Ceylon has recently signed a contract for 50,000 tons of Australian flour for 1959. In view of the Minister’s statement in January that Ceylon had undertaken to buy 100,000 tons of flour in 1959, will he explain whether there is any prospect of Australia selling further quantities of flour to Ceylon in this current year?

Mr McEWEN:
CP

– A question related to the sale of flour by the Australian Wheat Board would normally be answered by my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry. The honorable member’s question, however, touches on negotiations that I conducted for the Government through the Department of Trade. The answer is that, Ceylon having been Australia’s most important market for flour, and Australia being a very important market for Ceylon tea, there was a very serious deterioration of our trade relations when Ceylon, for a period of fifteen or sixteen months, bought no Australian flour. That was the basis on which trade discussions were initiated. The Minister of Commerce and Trade for Ceylon came to Australia by invitation last year and, after discussions, Ceylon purchased in the last few months of last year 30,000 tons of Australian flour. I then went, by invitation, to Ceylon, where an agreement was concluded under which the Government of Ceylon agreed to buy, on normal commercial terms. 100,000 tons of flour a year for each of the years 1959 and 1960, and I would say that there is a fair expectation that that arrangement will continue beyond 1960. Mr. Alvapillai, who is the permanent secretary of the department in Ceylon that is concerned with this matter, came to Australia in the last few weeks and, happily, he has concluded, to the mutual satisfaction of the Australian Wheat Board and of his own government, a contract under which 50,000 tons of Australian flour will be purchased for delivery over the next few months. There will, no doubt, in terms of the arrangement, be negotiations covering a further 50,000 tons of flour before this year is out so that, as will be the case under the arrangement for next year. 100,000 tons will be sold this year.

page 18

QUESTION

OFFICE OF GOVERNOR-GENERAL

Mr CALWELL:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA

– I ask the Prime Minister: Will the right honorable gentleman give this House an assurance that the next Governor-General will be an Australian citizen?

Mr MENZIES:
LP

– The answer is in the negative.

page 18

QUESTION

COMMEMORATIVE POSTAGE STAMPS

Mr STOKES:
MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA

– Will the PostmasterGeneral urgently consider a request by the Federal Council of the Rats of Tobruk Association for the issue, in April next, of a stamp to commemorate the siege of Tobruk, and also for the issue of a special stamp in April of 1961, on the occasion of the pilgrimage from this country, and all countries concerned, to that place, April, 1961, being the twentieth anniversary ot the beginning of the siege?

Mr DAVIDSON:
Postmaster-General · DAWSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

– I regret that it is not possible for me to give the honorable member for Maribyrnong an undertaking that a stamp commemorating the siege of Tobruk will be issued by April next. The reason is that it is simply not physically possible to make such an issue. It is recognized that the event he mentions is one worthy of recognition and acknowledgment, but the process of producing a new stamp takes a considerable time - generally about twelve months. Clearly it would not be possible to produce the stamp requested by next April, since a period of less than two months remains. However, the honorable gentleman also raised the possibility of the issue of such a stamp in April, 1961, and I can assure him that I shall be very glad indeed to refer that proposal to the Stamp Advisory Committee, the body which investigates all of the many applications for the issue of special stamps. A decision will be made in the light of the report of that committee, and T shall advise the honorable member accordingly.

page 18

QUESTION

OVERSEAS TRADE

Mr PETERS:
SCULLIN, VICTORIA

– Is the Minister for Trade aware that, about December last, the Secretary of the Department of Trade, a Mr. Crawford, stated that this year Australia would have an adverse trade balance of about £260.000,000, and that, while he did not believe that Australia would suffer a depression as bad as the depression of the !930’s. he considered that it was the duty of Australians to pray every night that people overseas would have the purchasing power necessary to buy Australian commodities? Does the Minister for Trade believe that while this Government is in power we should rely upon prayer to protect our overseas trade balances?

Mr McEWEN:
CP

– I am not in a position to say what Mr. Crawford, as he then was - he is now Sir John Crawford - may have said last December; but Sir John Crawford is, as we all know and concede, one of Australia’s most distinguished public servants, and 1 have no doubt that whatever he said would have been well founded. The Government is not oblivious of the power of prayer; but the Government also places some reliance upon its own policies and its own negotiations. The truth of the matter is, Sir, that notwithstanding a quite serious fall in the value of Australia’s principal exports - wool, base metals, wheat, dairy products and other commodities - development in Australia generally, and in the industries 1 have mentioned, in particular, has proceeded at a tempo never before matched in this country, and has produced for all Australians a measure of prosperity which is not only satisfactory at home but is also the envy of the world.

page 19

QUESTION

CYCLONE DAMAGE RELIEF

Mr MURRAY:
HERBERT, QUEENSLAND

– Can the Treasurer say whether he has received reports on the devastation caused by the cyclone which struck the North Queensland districts of Ayr and Home Hill and south to the town of Bowen yesterday? Has the Queensland Government yet officially advised the Commonwealth that it has decided to give financial assistance to those rendered homeless, or who have suffered severe personal hardship, in this disaster? If this action is taken, will the Commonwealth Government give sympathetic consideration to the making of a similar contribution?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Treasurer · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– The only information I have on this unhappy event is what I have gathered from the press, but I am quite certain that all members of the Government and of the Parliament will sympathize with those who have been adversely affected by the cyclonic troubles in that part of the world. Unfortunately, it seems to be a sort of local hazard in what otherwise is a very .attractive and congenial area of our continent. Now, as to the aid which may be given: In circumstances where serious damage has occurred, a fairly well established practice has grown up in Australia under which, if a State government makes a contribution for the relief of personal hardship and distress, it usually follows that contribution with a request to the Commonwealth for aid in comparable terms- Normally, a contribution is made by the Commonwealth corresponding to that made by the State. The circumstances may vary a little from time to time, and the results may vary, but that, as I understand it, is the general practice. So far as I am aware, no official request on the lines mentioned by the honorable member has yet reached the Commonwealth Government. I shall make inquiries on the matter but, in any event, the honorable member may be assured that if the Queensland Government itself finds it necessary to take relief action, and makes a request to the Commonwealth, that request will be sympathetically examined.

page 19

QUESTION

AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR TO IRELAND

Mr MINOGUE:
WEST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact that in the very near future Sir Neil O’sullivan will be appointed ambassador to Ireland?

Mr CASEY:

– I have no current statement to make on that subject.

page 19

QUESTION

BUSH FIRE RELIEF

Mr FORBES:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– In directing a question to the Minister for Primary Industry J refer to the recent disastrous bush fires in the Mount Gambier and Port Elliot areas of my electorate. Is the Minister aware that at least 60 of the farmers who have been left completely destitute by the fire are soldier settlers of the last war? If so, can he say whether any special measures are planned by the Government to assist in their rehabilitation? I may add that the prompt and effective assistance given by the Government for the relief of the fire victims as a whole was very much appreciated in the areas concerned.

Mr ADERMANN:
Minister for Primary Industry · FISHER, QUEENSLAND · CP

– T am aware of the disaster that occurred in .South Australia. Immediately T was informed of it, I sent the Deputy-Director, War Service Land Settlement, in South Australia, to investigate and he made a report to me. I cannot agree with the honorable member that 60 settlers are entirely destitute. Undoubtedly, there have been some heavy losses; and the Commonwealth Government readily made available subsidy payments on a £l-for-£l basis in accordance with statements that have been made by the Prime Minister from time to time in relation to policy on these matters. The priority accorded the subsidy payments has been, first, the replacement of household possessions; secondly, to make agistment available free where stock are destitute of food; and, thirdly, sympathetic consideration of any application made in relation to commitments to the Crown and deferment of payments without added interest. If those needs arise, the honorable member can be assured of the Commonwealth Government’s sympathy for those concerned.

page 20

QUESTION

WOOL

Mr POLLARD:
LALOR, VICTORIA

– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Minister for Primary Industry in the last Parliament, when the Menzies Government was in office, informed this House that he had been unable to find any evidence of a buyers’ ring operating to depress the price of the Australian wool clip? Is the right honorable gentleman aware now that a more actively minded government has had evidence produced on oath that buyers’ rings have been operating for a considerable time on the Sydney wool market for the specific purpose of depressing the price of Australia’s wool clip? Does the right honorable gentleman or his Government propose to take urgent action to deal with this great national problem in order to protect the national economy and the wool-growers of Australia?

Mr MENZIES:
LP

– We do not need to be read a lecture about the importance of the wool industry. This is the first time that I have ever been invited to take action on evidence given by a witness at an inquiry which is part heard. I thought that this “ actively minded “ Government of New South Wales appointed an investigator; and I was also under the impression - I may be wrong - that he has not yet made a report. When he does so, we will pay great attention to it. Meanwhile, all I can say is that if the New South Wales Government is actively minded, I am delighted to hear it. It will not have the opportunity to be active for much longer.

page 20

QUESTION

ROADS

Mr TURNBULL:
MALLEE, VICTORIA

– I direct a question to the Treasurer. As the Government has stated that there will be a complete review of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement before it expires on 30th June this year, will the Treasurer inform the House what form this review will take? Rather than depend on a Premiers conference for an unbiased decision, will the Government consider having the review and recommendations made by an independent committee or tribunal, or by the authority which determined the distribution of diesel fuel oil tax collections?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
LP

– It is a fact that a policy will be determined by the Commonwealth Government in relation to the legislation that is due to expire later this year. I think most honorable members are aware that quite recently my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, presided over a conference of interested parties in Canberra as a preliminary to the discussion that will take place in the first week of March at the special conference of Premiers that has been arranged for that time. We have already decided that a period of that conference will be set aside for discussion on future roads policy in relation to the Commonwealth and the States. What the Commonwealth Government decides to be necessary thereafter either by further investigation or policy determination is, of course, a matter to be decided subsequently, but I shall have in mind the representations that the honorable gentleman has now made.

page 20

QUESTION

PARLIAMENTARIANS’ VISIT TO ANTARCTICA

Mr WARD:
EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Was the visit of a party of Government members under the leadership of the honorable members for Mackellar and Chisholm to Antarctica a month or so ago initiated, organized or sponsored by the Commonwealth Government? If so, will the right honorable gentleman state who were the Government members included in the party? Was any Commonwealth expenditure involved and what was the actual purpose of the journey? Finally, is the Prime Minister able to assure the House that, having regard to the composition of the touring party, he had absolutely no ulterior motive in supporting the project?

Mr MENZIES:
LP

– If the honorable member for East Sydney is really anxious to find out something about this matter, I will try to find out something myself. I was under the impression that the honorable members with, I think, singular enterprise, had the opportunity, through the courtesy of another nation, of being transported to the Antarctic.

Mr Curtin:

– For life?

Mr MENZIES:

– No, the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith need not feel touchy about this one. But I will withdraw the word “ transported “ in deference to him and say that the honorable members had the opportunity of being moved to the vicinity of the South Pole. I thought it a very spirited enterprise. I am jolly glad I was not there myself, but they appear to have enjoyed their visit and have come back With characteristic vigour.

page 21

QUESTION

TELEVISION LICENCES

Mr FOX:
HENTY, VICTORIA

– I preface a question to the Postmaster-General by saying that it is commonly believed that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is losing revenue because many persons avoid the payment of a television licence-fee. Will the Minister give consideration to my suggestion that television retailers be furnished with receipt books and that it be incumbent upon them to collect the first year’s licence-fee at the time of sale of the television set as is done in many overseas countries? Such a scheme should be of great assistance to the department in the collection of licence-fees subsequently.

Mr DAVIDSON:
CP

– I am afraid I must inform the honorable member for Henty that I would hesitate before I would place such an imposition as he has suggested on the retailers of television sets. In any case, apart from the desirability or otherwise of such an imposition, I can inform the honorable member that, in my knowledge and experience, such action is not necessary. We keep a fairly close check on the relationship between the sales of television sets and the numbers of licences that are taken out. As a result of information that we get from time to time from the retailers, organizations with which they are associated and the departments concerned as to the total volume of sales of sets, it is possible for the department to see whether there is an undue lag between the purchase of sets and the licensing of them. There always is a certain lag, but so far the department has found it is quite satisfactory when such a lag seems to be developing in any particular district just to let it be known that inspectors will be round about the place. Immediately thereafter there is a flood of applications.

page 21

BUSINESS OF THE PARLIAMENT

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
HigginsTreasurer · LP

– For the convenience of honorable members, I thought it would be useful if they had an indication of the business to be transacted over the next few weeks. For the fortnight commencing this week, the House will be engaged principally on the motion relating to the Address-in-Reply. Unfortunately, for reasons which I think are well-known to most honorable members, and as part of an undertaking given by the Government that it would arrange for a comprehensive review to be made of Commonwealth and State government financial relations, the only convenient time which could be found for all the Premiers and for the Commonwealth Government to stage that conference was in the first week of March. With problems of accommodation in this building and elsewhere in Canberra, it has been found necessary to adjourn the Parliament for that week in order that the conference may be conducted here. That adjournment may present a convenient opportunity for some of the committees of the Parliament to sit but that, of course, will be for those committees, themselves, to determine.

We shall then resume, and the principal business before the Parliament up to Easter will be the banking legislation. I expect that a second-reading speech will be made on the various banking bills before the House rises for the conference with the Premiers. Consideration of these bills will be the first business to be undertaken when the House resumes, and it is hoped that they will be passed before the Easter adjournment.

page 21

CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES

Mr LUCOCK:
Lyne

– I move -

That the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) be appointed Chairman of Committees of this House.

Mr Howse:

– I second the motion.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Is there any further proposal? (The time for further proposals having expired) -

Mr SPEAKER:

– There being only one motion for the appointment of a Chairman, 1 now put the question, “ That the honorable member for Gippsland be appointed Chairman of Committees of this House “.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Mr MENZIES:
Prime Minister · Kooyong · LP

– On behalf of the Government I should like to convey our congratulations to the honorable member for Gippsland. He is a very old friend of mine and of most of us. If he will allow me to say so, I have never known a man to conceal beneath so amiable a surface such a capacity for striking a shrewd blow. If he maintains that form in the chair we shall all be delighted. We congratulate him; we offer him our support, and he knows that he has our friendship in the fullest possible degree.

Dr EVATT:
Leader of the Opposition · Hunter

– I join in the congratulations to the honorable member for Gippsland. I am very glad to state, with reference to his skill in striking a shrewd1 blow, that we are very glad that he does not do it often in committee.

Mr McEWEN:
Minister for Trade · Murray · CP

– I should like to add my congratulations to the honorable member for Gippsland and to say that I believe that he will prove a very worthy successor to predecessors in this important office in the Parliament.

Mr BOWDEN:
Gippsland

– I thank the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Minister for Trade for their generous remarks. I should like also to thank the House for the compliment of electing me without any opposition. I give an assurance to the House that I shall do my best to maintain the prestige of the office and to ensure justice to every honorable member.

page 22

GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH

page 22

ADDRESS-IN-REPLY

Mr. Browne, for the committee appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-

General (vide page 14), presented the proposed Address which was read by the Clerk.

Mr BROWNE:
Kalgoorlie

– I move -

That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to-

May it Please Your Excellency -

We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

In submitting this motion I am deeply aware of the dual honour that has been given to me, both by the people of Kalgoorlie in electing me to this Parliament as their representative, and by the House in entrusting to me the moving of the adoption of this Address-in-Reply. It is with a sense of humility that I take my place in this Parliament to sit on this side of the House in company with supporters of a Government which has just been returned to office with an increased majority after having governed for nine years. That is surely a record and I. think reflects the wisdom with which the Government has acted in the past and the sensibility of the Australian people of that wisdom. I take this opportunity of congratulating the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on having added yet another achievement to his already remarkable record of service to the nation. To you. Mr. Speaker, I extend my sincere congratulations on having been re-elected to your high and responsible office.

I should like to pay tribute to my predecessor, Mr. H. V. Johnson, for had he not retired I almost certainly would not be here ‘ to-day. Mr. Johnson was regarded very highly by his electors and was respected by all who knew him. His exclusion from the pre-selection was regretted by many. It will probably seem strange to many that Victor Johnson is no longer here and that his successor now sits opposite Mr. Johnson’s former colleagues. I intend to give them plenty of time to get used to the idea.

His Excellency’s reference to the forthcoming visit by Her Royal Highness, the Princess Alexandra of Kent, will be welcomed by all Australians. We have been very fortunate in recent years with Royal visits and I am sure Her Royal Highness’s visit will provide yet another opportunity to re-affirm our loyalty to the Crown.

The beef industry research scheme mentioned by His Excellency will be regarded as good news indeed1 by the industry in general and, in particular, by those engaged in raising cattle in the north of Queensland, the Northern Territory, and the north of Western Australia. There are vast problems in these areas related to herd improvement, herd management, breeding, marketing, and transport in those areas, and I presume that those matters will come within the scope of the scheme.

There is an enormous stretch of country in the north of Australia which, given the right kind of development and assistance, and with guidance to settlers, could become the world’s foremost cattle breeding area. At present, cattle stations are forced to run on uneconomic lines and, as a result, much land is wasted and the turn-off of store cattle is but a small fraction of the potential production of the area. It is my intention, at future sittings of this House, to draw the attention of honorable members to the need to develop the north.

Speaking of my own electorate, of which about 500,000 square miles lie north of the Tropic of Capricorn, there is plenty to be done if we are to retain our moral right to hold these regions. We have an abundance of natural resources including iron ore, copper, manganese, bauxite - and there may even be a little oil there. We have some of the best grazing land in Australia, and water to irrigate it, if necessary. We have the potential there to support a large population. In a world already concerned1 with the problems of over-population, it is unacceptable to our Asian neighbours that this part of Australia, with its obvious wealth, is virtually uninhabited. As there are many millions of these people living closer to the Kimberleys than do most honorable members of this House, I cannot stress too much the importance of developing the area. From the points of view of our economy, defence, and security, it is vital.

It was a source of great encouragement to me and to my fellow residents of Kalgoorlie that the Prime Minister last year paid a visit to the gold-fields, Pilbara and Kimberley districts of my electorate, and that, presumably as a result of that visit, a further £2,500,000 of federal money was ear-marked for use by the State Government in the north-west. This action has been received by the residents of the north as a welcome sign that at last some one is prepared to face up to the problems of our northern areas and do something about them.

Honorable members of long standing have, no doubt, had their fill of dissertations on the wonders of the Kalgoorlie division from my two immediate predecessors, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Green. 1 am happy to say that I shall follow their noble example. Because of the largeness of my electorate and the diversity of its products, I must devote much of my time in this House to that end, if I am to be successful in my attempts to have the electorate developed.

I have inherited a responsibility to many thousands of people who rely for their livelihood upon the gold-mining industry. Few industries, if any, depend so much upon the economic policies of governments as does the gold-mining industry. This Government’s attitude towards gold is generally to be commended. With taxation relief and subsidies granted to small producers and marginal mines, the industry is generally regarded as being secure for the immediate future. However, at future sittings of the House I will stress the need for some form of assistance to be given to the industry to enable it to effect complete extraction of gold from low-grade ore bodies, thus fully utilizing a valuable national asset. At present, it is necessary for some mining companies to by-pass lowgrade ore bodies in their drives for richer ore. The fact that it is virtually impossible to return to these by-passed ore bodies makes it essential that some incentive be given to the industry to enable it to mine all of the reserves on a face. Should there be a rise in the price of gold, these bypassed ore bodies will represent an unattainable store of wealth.

While on the subject of gold, I would like to touch briefly on the future of the industry, which relies to a large extent on the prospector. To-day there is little encouragement given to young men to go out into the field and find new deposits of gold. It is generally conceded that there are still large deposits undiscovered in Western Australia, but without the incentive to go out and find them the future of the industry could be bleak.

Hailing from the electorate which produces nearly all the gold that comes out of Australia, I was profoundly disappointed to hear recently that the American attitude towards a rise in the price of gold had hardened. Coming at a time when hopes of a rise were high, the United States Treasury’s announcement came as a severe blow to the industry. There is little doubt in mining circles that Western Australia could, for many years to come, yield large quantities of gold if only the present high costs of extraction were offset by a higher price for the commodity. As it is, mines have closed and even large towns have been deserted, because it is no longer economic to treat the still considerable quantities of gold-bearing ore that remain. The thriving town of Norseman is at present in danger of suffering from depleted population and a curtailment of mining activities, resulting in considerable unemployment, because of the effect of expected rail freight increases on pyrites concentrates produced at that town. Having seen the towns of Wiluna, Big Bell, Menzies, Laverton and others in their present pathetic state of decline, I express the earnest hope that the remaining goldproducing towns will be spared a similar fate. The gold-mining areas of Western Australia represent practically the only instance of wholesale retrogression in a nation proud of its progress. The remedy is largely in the hands of the United States Government. Its application would not only cure the local Western Australian ills, but would also stimulate the whole system of AustralianAmerican trade.

In concluding this speech on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, I express the hope that this Twenty-third Parliament will, in its wisdom, act for the continuing peace and prosperity of this wonderful young country. We have come a long way in a short time, and as each year passes the rate of our growth accelerates beyond all reasonable expectations. All of us, including my young self, have seen unfold part of the remarkable evolution of a nation. May we all see Australia rich in her maturity and universally respected as one of the great nations of the world.

Mr BANDIDT:
Wide Bay

.- I rise to second the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. T am deeply conscious of the honour, and I am grateful for the privilege extended to me. I am grateful also to the electors of the division of WideBay for having given me the opportunity to serve them here. I shall try to servethem faithfully for as long as they will have me.

May I pay a tribute to my predecessor, Mr. W. A. Brand. The older members of this Parliament know him well. Mr. Brand, served for a long time in the Queensland State Parliament, and then for four yearsin the Commonwealth Parliament. Because of the state of his health and his advancing years, he made way for some one else totake his place. I personally wish him a long and happy retirement.

Let me add my congratulations to you, Mr. Speaker, on your re-election. I hope that you will extend to us new members the mercy that we will need as well as the justice we will deserve. I should also like to congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) on their re-appointment to those respective positions. Many of us had the advantage of their help in the recent election campaign. We appreciated that help very much, and it is pleasing to see them occupy those positions in the present Parliament.

I have mentioned that new members need your help, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps I may say that although many of us here to-day are raw recruits, each of us, as well as the seasoned members of the Parliament, “has a deep and abiding loyalty to our most gracious Sovereign.

May I say with respect that I support the various proposals which the Government intends to bring forward and which were mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. In particular, I would support the Government’s ‘ proposals for development and for defence, because I believe that without development Australia will get nowhere and that without defence we shall not retain what we have already achieved.

People tend to take things for granted. They take Australia for granted. They take their security and their safety for granted. They even utter derogatory remarks about the members of this chamber. I believe that honorable members are not as black as they are painted. I think that all new members will agree, Mr.

Speaker, after even the very short association that they have yet had with other honorable members, that the members of this House have a fund of wisdom, of knowledge and of experience, and I know that the new members will certainly lean lor a considerable time on the seasoned members of this place in order that they may themselves gain a little of that knowledge and that experience, and, if possible, :some of the wisdom of the older members.

You can imagine, then, how diffident a new member feels on coming into this chamber and rising to address the House. I may say that my feeling of diffidence was tempered with relief. I had gone into the procedure of the House of Commons in order that I should not appear too unversed in these matters, and honorable members can judge my relief at finding that the bill introduced by the Prime Minister this afternoon was not entitled, as is that introduced in the House of Commons, “ An Act for the Suppression of Banditry in the Realm”.

So I come to you with diffidence, but I am going to take the plunge and I propose to enunciate a proposition with which I believe every honorable member will agree. It is that every Australian is entitled to a fair return for his labours. This principle has been followed in the various industrial awards. It was followed last year, I believe, when the copper industry experienced difficulties and the price fell from £330 to £220 a ton. The Government considered - rightly, if I may say so, with respect - that it was desirable to pay a bounty of £45 a ton to those producers who could not make a certain percentage on their capital. In addition, the tariff was raised, I believe, by £65 a ton. That was carrying out the principle of a fair return.

I propose, with your forbearance, Mr. Speaker, to discuss that principle for a few minutes in relation to primary production. Let us take a few examples before we consider the proposition further. We all know that the price of wool has dropped to a little better than one-half of the price that it used to return, and we know that the wool industry is at present trying to find a way out of its difficulties. The return received by the farmer for his butter has fallen by about one-sixth over the last five years, and the future for the producer is quite uncertain.

Perhaps I should tell honorable members a little about pineapples, which are regarded by many people as a minor crop. The pineapple grower’s plight is more serious still. Five years ago, he received about £40 a ton for first-grade pineapples. This year, he may be lucky enough to get £25 a ton. Last year, one can of pineapples could be exported overseas for every can sold in Australia. This year, two cans of pineapples must be exported overseas for every can sold in Australia, and markets have to be found. We cannot say that pineapples are a minor crop and that we can forget about the difficulties of the pineapple growers. I should like to recite some figures to the House to show that pineapples are scarcely a minor crop. In 1954, there was a total production of 65,700 tons of fresh pineapples. This year, production is expected to be 90,000 tons. In 1958, more than 1,000,000 cartons of canned pineapple fruit were produced, each carton containing the equivalent of two dozen 30-oz. cans. In the same year, about 508,000 cartons of pineapple juice were manufactured in Australia. An economic survey of the pineapple industry made two years ago indicated that at that time only one-tenth of the pineapple growers could make even the basic wage, after paying costs and1 allowing for interest on their investment, and since that time, the price of pineapples has fallen by one-third. So it is easy to work out just how the pineapple grower is getting along to-day.

But let us take another industry, which has a purely Australian market. In 1957. nearly 5,800 tons of beans were sold in Australia. Last year, the total came to nearly 8,000 tons - an increase of almost two-fifths. Yet those beans were sold for about one-half of the total amount received for the previous crop. The farmer sold nearly 40 per cent, more but received only 70 per cent, of the cheque that he had received in the previous year. I believe that the farmers would have made more money if they had ploughed under some 2,000 tons of beans.

These examples show that many primary producers in Australia have to meet increased costs at a time when the prices received for their products are greatly reduced, and this constitutes a serious problem. It is a challenge to both the members of this Parliament and the industries themselves, and it is not an easy problem to solve. I am the first to agree that it is difficult to solve such a problem when increasing costs and declining returns have reduced the situation to a stage at which many people engaged in some of these industries are receiving much less than the basic wage. It is not an easy problem to solve, but we must try to solve it, and I believe that if we try hard enough we may be able to find a solution.

Australia is a primary producing nation mainly; let us not forget that. Nine-tenths of our exports are primary products. Most of them are agricultural, although some are mineral. But nine-tenths of our overseas income is derived from primary production, and therefore we cannot dismiss the matter by saying that I am talking too much about primary production. We cannot afford to ignore something that returns nine-tenths of the money that we have available for the purchase of goods from overseas.

I happen to represent a division that relies largely on primary production. I will say, generally, that that division is much more prosperous than is that represented by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Browne). I am sure that any honorable member whom he succeeds in persuading to visit Kalgoorlie will have no difficulty in making up his mind on that score should he at any time visit the Wide Bay division. Nevertheless, there are pockets in that division in which difficulties have been caused by low prices for various products. I readily admit, of course, that there are secondary industries there, too. Indeed, there are plenty of secondary industries. Maryborough has the third highest production of manufactured goods in Queensland. It has foundries, ship yards and big saw mills, and it produces manufactures of all kinds.

In the few minutes that I have at my disposal I want to deal with the question of primary production in this division. Although it is only fair, as I said before, that every person in the country should receive fair play, it is vital that the primary producer in particular shall receive fair play. This question is not only one for Australia. It has been considered by many people in countries overseas. It was considered over a long period of years in the United States, which has a price support plan, and a very comprehensive one.

This price support plan confers benefits in relation to many primary commodities, but let us take just one. Section 204 (a) of the 1954 act of Congress in relation to the matter reads -

The production and use of abundant supplies of high quality milk and dairy products are essential to the health and general welfare of the nation; a dependable domestic source of supply of these foods is important to the national defence; and an economically sound dairy industry affects beneficially the economy of the country as a whole. It is the policy of Congress to assure a stabilized annual production, . . . and to stabilize the economy of dairy farmers at a level which will provide a fair return for their labour and investment when compared with the cost of things that farmers buy.

Similar sections deal with other commodities. When we remember that over 600,000 people in Australia are directly dependent upon the dairying industry, we can see that the industry is important in Australia, just as it is in America. Of course, other commodities are covered by the farm support plan in the United States. The grain, tobacco, and cotton industries are covered very fully. In fact, President Eisenhower recently appeared to be somewhat concerned over the question, because he pointed out that in the past four years the United States had distributed 4,000,000,000 dollars worth of surplus primary products to overseas countries that could not help themselves, and he suggested, too, that some restriction would have to be made with regard to that plan.

But I am not concerned with whatever amendment or change has to be made in the United States. I am merely concerned to-day to show that America itself has not only considered the question of primary production in the past but has also acted, and it is not the only major country that has done so. There is also a farm support plan in Great Britain. I could mention a number of products to which it relates, but I shall mention only one. Last month, in January, the fixed standard price in Great Britain for meat was £8. 3s. 6d. per 100 lb., subject to certain adjustments upwards. That is equivalent to more than £10 Australian. I am not saying that things are bad in Australia in the cattle industry. The cattle man is happy at present and no one has any complaint. The point is that the British producer of meat would have received over £10 per 100 lb. in January, irrespective of the price that was received anywhere else in the world. Although the Australian grazier received a good price for his meat, the English producer of meat would have received £10 per 100 lb. if the Australian grazier had been receiving only £5 per 100 lb. I give that one example to show how importantly the British Government regards the primary producer.

So, in the world at present there exists the situation that we have over-abundance of some things. We can produce too much of many commodities in Australia, the United States can produce too much of many things, and other countries cannot even afford to buy them. It is a problem internationally, and I must commend the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and the Government for adopting a point of view regarding the stability of the prices of commodities overseas. I look forward to the day when all commodities, not merely sugar, will be regulated by stable prices overseas. Speaking of sugar, it is very pleasing that it will not be necessary to appoint any committee to consider the sugar industry.

In addition to commending the Government for its intention to establish a committee to examine the dairying industry, I suggest that the Government should also establish committees to consider every other primary industry that needs help. 1 will not say that the mere establishment of a committee will win perfect results, but it will produce the facts to enable the Government to decide whether to help the industry, or to give support to the industry to help itself. So I, with humility, advocate the appointment of various committees to deal with all primary industry requiring assistance, and then in due time it will be possible to regard primary industry generally not as a Cinderella but as an important part of the Australian economy.

As I said, it is not necessary for me, although I come from an area that grows sugar, to ask for the appointment of a committee to deal with the sugar industry, because this is one of those remarkable industries that have confounded the critics. Years ago, when Kanakas could no longer be imported, it was said that the white man could not grow sugar successfully. To-day, the sugar industry does not need a subsidy, lt is controlled from production to sale, and it is not socialized. The farmer is perfectly free and quite individualistic, yet the sugar industry to-day enjoys a very fine position because it is controlled. My submission is that we must control production as well as sale of goods, otherwise we shall finish, perhaps, as the United States has finished. It is not necessary for me to say anything more about sugar. No doubt the House has been told a lot of good things about it in the past, and knows that they are true.

May 1 say, in conclusion, that Australia is on the march. The accent to-day is on development and on change. For 100 years now Queensland has been progressing. We do not know just how far we shall develop in the next 100 years, but if we can do as well in planning our future as our athletes, including our tennis players and our swimmers, are doing perhaps the future will be well assured. If we can plan our affairs as well as the Australian cricket captain has planned, and if we can do as well as the cricketing kangaroo did recently in tucking the British lion into its pouch, there is hope for the future for all industries, and not merely primary industry. This is a question for all of us. It is a question not only for honorable members but for industry too. I believe that in considering this important and difficult question of a fair return for the primary producer we must be positive in our approach. We must not lie down. We must not blame anything onto a harsh fate-

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. But in ourselves . . .

Debate (on motion by Mr. Duthie) adjourned.

House adjourned at 5.21 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 February 1959, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1959/19590217_reps_23_hor22/>.