23rd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I regret to say that two of my Cabinet colleagues are on the sick list, each of them, in fact, being in hospital. I refer to Senator Spooner, and to the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick). They are making headway and I hope that they both will be back by next week. In the meantime, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) will represent the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) and I will endeavour to represent the Attorney-General in this House.
– Can the Prime Minister, in the absence of the acting Minister for External Affairs, report to the House the latest position in relation to the proposed summit talks? Can he indicate the possible date of these talks and the subject-matter thereof so that we can have the latest information, other than that which we have been given by the press?
– I would not like to make a positive reply on that matter. We have received some cables which I would like to look at rather carefully. I am still among the optimists on the question of a reasonably early summit conference. If the honorable gentleman will allow me to check up on the latest developments I may say something to-morrow.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that, in 1957-58, when the Government made available a supplementary grant of £5,000,000 to the States, it took into account, in determining the distribution of the grant, the fact that New South Wales and Queensland had suffered droughts in that year. If this is a fact and can thus be said to constitute a precedent for Commonwealth assistance in cases of widespread drought, will the Government consider, as a matter of urgency, the making of a grant to South Australia as it is now clear, beyond a shadow of doubt, that that State is suffering by far the worst drought in its history?
– I am sorry to learn that the conditions in South Australia have reached the degree of drought to which the honorable gentleman refers. The question which he raised cannot be answered quite simply, nor shall I attempt to do so at this time. My recollection is that whilst some unemployment which had developed from drought conditions was one of the circumstances taken into account in granting special assistance in 1957-58, the budget deficits of the States concerned, and various other matters came into the picture also. I think it would be advisable for the honorable gentleman to put his question on the notice-paper so that I may give him a full and considered reply to it.
– I address my question to the Minister for Trade. Is it a fact that licences to export steel products from the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited works at Port Kembla to continental China to the value of £7,000,000 have been issued by the Department of Trade since January last? Is it a fact that licences to export to the same country wool to the value of £5,000,000 have been issued? Is it a fact that a freighter was chartered recently to carry a further 9,000 tons of steel from Port Kembla to Odessa for the Soviet Union? Does the Minister believe that steel and wool are not strategic materials? If so, when will he cut out this nonsense about restricting exports of strategic materials while, at the same time, issuing export licences as quickly as application is made for them?
– As I have said often in the House, there have been exports of wool to mainland China, as there have been to any other country in the world which wishes to buy our wool. There is not, and never has been in the life of this Government, any restriction on the export of wool. There is a limitation on the export of strategic materials and also, from time to time, according to the judgment of the Department of External Affairs, on the export of other materials. Steel has been exported to Communist China in the quantities and to the values which I have disclosed to the House in answer to questions on notice, and I understand that steel has been exported, or will be exported, to Soviet Russia. The honorable gentleman has asked me to express a judgment on what are or are not strategic materials. I am not an expert on these matters, and I am not competent to express an opinion. I have never pretended to be competent to do so, but those who are experts in these matters advise the Government, and the Government acts on their advice. I am not clear in my mind as to the meaning of the succession of questions along these lines that have been coming from members of the Australian Labour Party every few days. Does the Labour Party want the Government to place an embargo on the export of goods to Communist China, which prominent members of the Australian Labour Party have visited and about which they have written books favorable to that country? I do not understand it,
– Has the attention of the Minister for Immigration been directed to statements and reports of delegates and visitors from Asian countries concerning the white Australia policy? ls the Minister aware that in many cases it is obvious from the statements and reports that the Asian delegates do not understand fully the basis of this policy? Is the Minister aware also that it is apparent that certain T.V. interviewers, notably on Channel 9, also have a very limited knowledge of the subject? In fairness to the Australian people, and in order to inform fully our Asian neighbours on the real position, will the Minister make a clear and detailed statement on the white Australia policy, either to the Parliament or to the forthcoming Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference?
– The honorable gentleman has asked a number of questions which are rather comprehensive in nature. I think that the House realizes, because it has been said repeatedly by the Minister for External Affairs, by my predecessors in office and by myself, that we do not recognize as such an explicit white Australia policy. What we do, what we have been doing for many years and what, indeed, is the accepted policy of this nation, is to claim the right to determine the kind of population that we are trying to build up, and to maintain its homogeneous nature. That has been said again and again and moreover, as I would remind the honorable member, it is something which so many nations who affect to be critical of our own policies are themselves in the vanguard in proclaiming.
Coming to the honorable member’s question, I have seen the statements which some of our visitors have made. I do not propose, at this stage, to engage in a public controversy with them. We are naturally glad to see visiting members from other Commonwealth countries here. We all hope that they will see much of Australia, that they will get to know this country; and, in doing so, I hope that they will come to understand some of the reasons which animate policies which have been long accepted not only by all Commonwealth governments, but also by an overwhelming majority of people at large.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. Recently, an Australian trade mission made an intensive tour of Central and East Africa. I ask the Minister: Has any action been taken to publicize the findings of that particular trade mission?
– A very comprehensive report by the leader of that mission, Mr. Bruce Wight, was published in an official journal of the Department of Trade entitled “ Overseas Trading “, in the August issue. This document is widely circulated among Australian chambers of manufactures, chambers of commerce, manufacturers, exporters, shipping companies, bankers and all those interested. In addition, the work of the mission is being followed up by all the devices of trade publicity which are at the command of the department, and also through the trade commissioner service here and abroad. For good measure the Commonwealth will shortly open a new trade commissioner office at Nairobi which will supplement those which already exist in the Union of South Africa and Rhodesia.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. A lady constituent of mine has written stating that she applied to the Collector of Customs at Port Adelaide for permission to import a transistor radio from Japan. This radio was to be imported not for trade purposes, but only for home use. She was told that it was not possible to allow her to import it. Can the Minister make clear whether the Government’s policy is such that no person can obtain from another country any article for his individual use except through those to whom import licences are allotted?
– I will make inquiries about the type of case in which the honorable member has interested himself and will advise him, and others who may be interested, of what, actually, is the prevailing policy.
– Assuming that 5 per cent, is a rate of interest which it would be reasonable to expect from a gilt-edged investment nowadays, would the Minister for Social Services agree that an unmarried applicant for an age pension could, by an approved deed of trust, divest himself of property to the value of £3,500 and thereby qualify for the full age pension, plus the full permissible additional income of £3 10s. a week from the deed of trust?
– The honorable member has addressed a hypothetical question to me. I remind him that the strict terms of the means test were devised and designed by this Parliament, and are applied by me in the discharge of my duties as Minister for Social Services. They are administered in such a way as not to prejudice those who might conceivably dispose of their property to provide an annuity. Of course, income from an annuity is treated as income in the application of the means test. If the honorable member wishes to inform himself on these matters, I shall be glad to make myself available.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. Now that the right honorable gentleman has returned from abroad, I ask him for his explanation why our recent loan in New York had to be floated at the highest interest rate, and the greatest discount, that have applied to any of the nine loans which this Government has floated in New York during its term of office. Why is it that in the period of five years in which these loans have been raised the interest rate has had to be raised from 3i per cent, to 5i per cent., and that whereas the early loans were issued at par, the latest one had to be issued at a discount, viz., at £97?
– I hope, during this sessional period and at no distant date, to give a detailed account to the House, so far as it is possible to do so, of what my overseas negotiations have produced. With regard to the particular transaction referred to, I believe that if the honorable gentleman were to study the position a little more closely he would not tend to be critical of what Australia has secured by way of loan, or ot the rates at which it has been secured, but would feel, rather, that we have been indeed fortunate in securing entry to the market at this time. I believe he would agree that the results reflect the very high credit standing of Australia in that market, and, indeed, in overseas markets generally. Quite shortly, the position is that while we have agreed to pay the rate of interest referred to for a twenty-year borrowing, the United States Government, borrowing within its own country, has paid a rate of 5 per cent, for loans of the medium term of four years and ten months, and the Government of Canada is paying more than 6i per cent, for funds it has been raising. The fact of the matter is that for some time there has been a stiffening of the rates of interest on capital raised in these overseas markets. Indeed, most countries would find it difficult, if not impossible, to secure entry to the markets in question at the present time. We must realize that there is a world shortage of capital, and that one of the problems facing the free world is to ascertain how adequate supplies of capital may be made available, not only to credit-worthy borrowers of strong standing, such as ourselves, but also to other countries, less credit-worthy, that have great tasks of development ahead of them. I can assure the honorable member that the opinion, not only in New York but also in other centres that I have since visited, is that the Australian operation was a highly successful one, reflecting favorably on the credit standing of this country.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Primary
Industry, concerns reports of a visit to Australia of five Russian scientists to study trends in the wool industry. Can the Minister tell the House whether these scientists are here at the invitation of the Government, and what particular branch of the wool industry they propose to study?
– I shall have to obtain an answer for the honorable member because I am not fully aware of the intention of these scientists.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health concerning cancer research. The terrible scourge of cancer has been further underlined by the recent deaths of two very prominent citizens in New South Wales - lack Davey and lohn Shand, Q.C. I ask the Minister to indicate in broad terms what assistance the Commonwealth is giving to research into cancer. To what extent are Australian research programmes co-ordinated and integrated with similar research programmes in other countries?
– A good deal of research into cancer is carried on in Australia, both in Melbourne and Sydney. Indeed, there is a good deal of research, in the broad sense of the term, going on all over the country into this disease. The Commonwealth, in its research work, is guided by the advice of the National Health and Medical Research Council. The knowledge of the fruits of research elsewhere is readily available to the surgical profession in Australia from various sources.
– I should like to direct to the Minister a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Barton. Will the honorable gentleman inform the Parliament, at some suitable time, of the total expenditure, in connexion with research into cancer, on the part of the Commonwealth Government, in Australia itself?
– The Commonwealth Government is not itself directly engaged in research. Research into cancer covers a very broad field - for instance, research into tissue cultures, cell metabolism and things of that sort, which can all be regarded as research into cancer. Some of that is done at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories in Melbourne in connexion with the growth and culture of viruses. So it would be very difficult to define in exact terms what the Commonwealth Government does about cancer research. However, I can assure the right honorable gentleman that the fruits of world cancer research, and the knowledge of what goes on in cancer research generally, are widely known in Australia.
– I direct to the Minister for Air a question concerning his refusal to allow any Air Force participation in the ceremony to be held at Albury on Friday to mark the 25th anniversary of the landing of the Dutch plane “ Uiver “ on the Albury race-course during the London to Melbourne Centenary Air Race. Does the Minister realize that the plane’s only surviving pilot, Mr. Moll, has flown out from Holland to be present at this ceremony, which will commemorate the remarkable initiative of local citizens in preventing what would otherwise have been a tragedy? Does the Minister think that an international event of such import should be celebrated, or does he regard the request as just another request for Air Force participation in a country fete, which is to be avoided at all costs?
– I am very much in sympathy with the honorable member’s request for Royal Australian Air Force aircraft to take part in the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the remarkable event to which he has referred. I am also very forcibly aware, however, of the need to maintain the established Air Force policy of not interfering with the training and operational requirements of the Air Force any more than is reasonably necessary to allow the Air Force to display its capabilities to the Australian public. That, as I have said in the House before, is done in Air Force Week and on a few other occasions of wide national significance.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Does the Government intend to proceed with certain repressive industrial legislation concerning levies, in the face of the High Court’s recent decision in favour of the Waterside Workers Federation with respect to union levies in general?
– I am sure that the honorable gentleman will know that the question he asks me relates to an important matter of Government policy, and I would not think it appropriate that I should answer in this House a question of that nature off the cuff. I have had discussions on this matter with the Prime Minister, and I will have further discussions with him about it quite soon.
– I ask the Minister for Defence a question. Can he inform the House when he expects that a statement will be made setting out the Government’s defence proposals for the period after the three-year programme which will end in June, 1960?
– I would not like to say positively, but I think within the next few weeks.
– I ask the Prime Minister, as acting Attorney-General: Will he consider having an investigation made and a statement published of the benefits that might accrue to residents of the Australian Capital Territory or the disabilities that might be visited upon them if the provisions of section 92 of the Constitution were incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory Administration Act in the same way as these powers were incorporated in the Northern Territory Administration Act?
– I will be very glad to ask my distinguished colleague to have a look into this most fascinating problem.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether Commonwealth public servants, particularly those occupying high-ranking administrative posts, are obliged to secure ministerial approval before making comments or contributing special articles through the columns of newspapers, periodicals, magazines, &c, or before taking part in radio or television programmes in the form of an interview or a discussion, the subject-matter of which concerns any phase of their work within the departments to which they are attached. If so, can it be taken that statements made by those persons on such occasions are authoritative expressions of Government policy?
– The honorable member invites me to deliver a sort of general essay on all sorts of hypothetical circumstances. I do not propose to do so. Everybody knows that the responsibility for policy is on Ministers. The responsibility for such administrative faculties as are passed to them is on civil servants in the light of that policy. Now, if the honorable member has some particular case, as he obviously has, about which he would like to say something, as he obviously would, I would be glad to hear of it - as a particular case.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Is it a fact that the report of the Australian Universities Commission on the provision of finance for the Monash University involves proposals that are inconsistent or in conflict with those of the interim council of the university? Does he regard this as an element of interference with the affairs of the States, against which he has been careful to guard heretofore? Will the right honorable gentleman provide the House and the community with a full statement of the reasons for the commission’s recommendations and will he provide the House with an opportunity to debate this matter as soon as possible?
– After question time I propose to table the report of the commission and to say a word or two about the Government’s decision in relation to it. The honorable member will find that the matters to which he has referred have been dealt with quite succinctly but, I think, very clearly by the commission. I should perhaps add that, if the States themselves were providing the money for some university establishment, it would be an impertinence on the part of the Commonwealth to intervene, but if the States come to the Commonwealth and ask it to find half the money, or a certain proportion of the money, and the Commonwealth, with the approval of Parliament, sets up a universities commission, then I would maintain that that commission is an appropriate body to be referred to in such an event, and that being referred to, it is plainly entitled to offer its views. As happened in this case, we accepted the views and the recommendations, and the result is that the grant to Victoria with respect to the Monash University will be considerably greater than what was envisaged when the Murray committee report was presented to this Parliament and approved by it.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services whether consideration could be given to waiving the twenty years residential qualification for the payment of social services to those displaced persons who came here at the invitation of the Government after the war, many of them stateless and unable to qualify for social services because of their age on arrival.
– I would have the honorable member know that the matter he raises is constantly under review. However, it is the traditional opinion of all governments up to this point that the residential qualification for social service pensions should be such as to ensure a reasonable contribution to the economy of our country, and that period has been fixed at twenty years for an age pension. It has, as I say, been reviewed from time to time, but, in all fairness to the Australian people as a whole, it has been considered to be a reasonable period of qualification. But I shall be glad to consider what the honorable member has had to say.
– I address my question to the Minister for Trade. Is it a fact that the export of steel has increased considerably in recent months? Is the Minister aware that a number of structural steel companies in Queensland and New South Wales have had to curtail their labour force because of a shortage of steel? If the Minister is not aware of this situation, will he investigate the effect on industry of the increased exports? Further, I ask the Minister whether it is a fact that steel exported to New Zealand is being diverted to the
United States of America, resulting in increased dollar earnings for that dominion.
– I am not familiar with the points alleged by the honorable gentleman in his question. I will have inquiries made. I believe that we can be happy and proud that Australia is now an important exporter of steel, but, of course, steel should not be exported in such quantities as to cause shortages at home. There are different types of steel, and I know that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited itself imported steel on an occasion in the not far distant past. So, this country can be an exporter of steel and, at the same time, an importer of certain specialized types of steel without there being any paradox in the situation.
– I ask the Prime Minister, in his capacity as acting Minister for External Affairs, a question. In view of the over-crowding in some Australian universities and in view also of the universal high regard in which graduates of the Kalgoorlie School of Mines are held, will the right honorable gentleman consider encouraging more Colombo Plan students to receive their technological training at this school of mines?
– I will be very happy indeed to convey the honorable member’s suggestion to my colleague.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether it is a fact that he intends to amend the special accounts section of the hospital benefits scheme in such a way that persons suffering from chronic ailments will be prevented from receiving assistance from the fund. If this is so, does it indicate that the proposal to cover chronic cases was announced prior to the last election solely for the purpose of winning votes for the Government?
– The honorable gentleman will not have to be patient for very much longer to know the Government’s intentions in detail.
– Can the Minister for Health give the House any information on the oral method of inoculation against poliomyelitis, a method which is receiving Australia-wide publicity this week? Does the Minister consider that this new “polio pill “ publicity is contributing to the apathy of adults to receiving injections of the Salk vaccine?
– A great deal of work has been done on oral vaccines against poliomyelitis, and they have been used extensively in some countries. It is not considered that they would be anything like as useful in this country as is the present Salk type of vaccine which is being used and which must be given by injection. Oral vaccines have a place in certain circumstances, but in this country our opinion is that they would be distinctly inferior to the vaccine that we are at present using.
– I ask the Minister for Trade a question concerning the report on assistance to the shipbuilding industry which he received from the Tariff Board on 30th June last. The right honorable gentleman will remember that he last received a report from the Tariff Board on the shipbuilding industry in June, 1955, and that he did not table that report until April, 1956. In view of the fact that there are no shipping orders in the shipyards in Brisbane, Sydney or Maryborough now, as distinct from the situation four years ago, and since the volume of Australia’s overseas trade is among the largest and its navigable coastline is the longest in the world, will the Minister ensure that, on this occasion, the report on an essential national industry is presented to the Parliament more promptly?
– I regret that my memory does not enable me to recall every detail of my administration, but I think I am right in saying that, so soon as the Government, meaning the Department of Trade, came into possession of the Tariff Board’s report on shipbuilding, a course customary in such circumstances was followed; that is, an inter-departmental committee consisting of representatives of those departments which had a specialized knowledge of, or a special interest in, the matter under examination was directed to study the report preparatory to the Cabinet considering it. Honorable members will know that during the period of the preparation of the Budget senior officers of all the departments are very heavily preoccupied. I will correct what 1 am saying if my memory of the matter is not right, and I undertake that there will be no avoidable delay whatever in the presentation to the Cabinet of this report, accompanied by the outcome of the inter-departmental examination.
– I ask the Minister for Health: Has a survey been made of differences existing in the laws of the various States governing the sale of poisonous substances? Has consideration been given to the introduction of uniform Commonwealth legislation on this matter? Has the implementation of the decisions of a recent convention at Geneva greatly increased the number of items for which pharmacists in the Australian Capital Territory and other Territories of the Commonwealth must secure the signature of a customer? Will the Minister consider having published a complete list of all substances and preparations which, under the relevant ordinance in the Australian Capital Territory, must be signed for on purchase from a chemist?
– Legislation in the States for the control of poisons is, of course, a matter for the State governments. My recollection is that the Commonwealth has, from time to time, urged uniformity among the various State governments in this matter. However, I shall let the honorable gentleman have a detailed answer.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. In view of the fact that the labour force, both professional and otherwise, required for the proposed reconstruction of the railway line between Townsville and Mount lsa, in Queensland, in addition to the necessary plant and equipment, almost without exception, will be entirely Australian, why is it proposed to borrow foreign currency to finance this great reconstruction programme? Is it that the currency borrowed would establish a credit for importers to import into Australia materials and other items quite foreign to the project known as the Mount Isa railway reconstruction programme?
– It has not been possible for me so far to make more than a preliminary report to my colleagues of the Cabinet on my negotiations overseas. I am preparing a written report for Cabinet consideration which will touch on this particular subject.
– You appear to be very depressed.
– The sight of honorable gentlemen opposite, after the more distinguished company in which I have found myself in recent weeks, would depress anybody. I am surprised at the absence of the fighting spirit that characterized the Opposition before I took my departure. I hope we can remedy that.
I was going to say that I hope I shall have an opportunity of answering the questions raised by the honorable gentleman as the session advances. I am not in a position to do so at this moment.
– Recently I asked the Minister for Social Services a question concerning his department’s decision to discontinue the payment of unemployment benefit to single persons residing on Cape Barren Island. I now ask the Minister whether he has investigated this matter for me. If so, will he tell me when I can expect a reply?
– I did institute certain investigations into the matter raised by the honorable member. I regret that it has not been possible for me to provide him with an answer to his question. I will see what the position is, and will then reply to him directly.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether it is a fact that reports from the United Kingdom indicate a depressed price for Australian fat lambs in this current season. What is the reason for this? Is it partly due to the rapid and extensive change from beef and lamb to poultry in the eating habits of the people of the United Kingdom? What other market is the Government trying to obtain for our Australian fat lamb producers?
– The increased production of Iambs in the United Kingdom it self, plus the increased production of that class of poultry called “ broilers “, has had an effect on the price of lamb in the United Kingdom. I do not think that the honorable member need feel depressed about the activities of the Australian Meat Board. The board is not leaving any stone unturned to exploit overseas markets for the benefit of our Iamb industry.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the fact that, prior to the arrival of the first Boeing 707 jet aeroplane in Australia, representatives of Qantas and the Department of Civil Aviation assured the Rockdale Municipal Council in Sydney that these new jets would cause no greater nuisance, and possibly less, than the normal piston engined and turbo-prop types of aircraft now operating; that the Boeing 707 aircraft would be fitted with noise suppressors; that they had a much steeper rate of climb from the runway; that they would use the runway over Botany Bay except when unfavorable weather conditions made it necessary to use the other runways; that they were to operate with reduced payloads and during daylight hours only; that there were to be no training flights in them at Mascot-
– Order! The honorable member is giving information. He must ask his question.
– My question is based on seven assurances. I have only one more to state.
– The honorable member is out of order.
– I will ask my question. Does the Minister believe that the first assurance has been justified? Have the Boeings been fitted with noise suppressors? Have they, in fact, been achieving a much steeper rate of climb from the runway than conventional planes? How many take-offs have been made over Botany Bay and how many landings have been made from Botany Bay? What is the total number of landings? What is meant by operating with reduced payloads? Have they operated with reduced payloads?
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Audit Act - Finance - Supplementary Report by the Auditor-General upon other accounts, for year 1958-59.
Ordered to be printed.
Report by Australian Universities Commission.
– I was asked a question earlier about the Monash University and the report made by the Australian Universities Commission. I kept back until now because I wanted to lay on the table, not only the report received from the commission, but also the letter with which I communicated the report to the Premier of Victoria and indicated our approach and our decision. I have looked at this and I see nothing confidential about it. I think it might be useful if both these documents were tabled and 1 now table them. I do not know whether honorable members want me to read the letter.
– Will you move that it be printed?
– I will not, because I would like to speak on it if there is argument. If somebody else will move that it be printed, I will be delighted. I realize that there ought to be some discussion. I think that all I can say about the letter, without reading it in full, is that I recited the history of the matter, how the application came to be made, our reference to the commission, and our decision that we would adopt the recommendation of the commission with the increased payments involved in it. Perhaps one of my colleagues will move that the papers be printed. I lay on the table the following papers: -
Monash University Development - Report of Australian Universities Commission.
Letter dated 12th October, 1959, from the Prime Minister to the Premier of Victoria.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
That the papers be printed.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Sexton) on the ground of ill health.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of moneys be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to authorize the raising and expending of moneys for the purposes of housing.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Harold Holt and Mr. McMahon do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second tune.
The purpose of this bill is to authorize the raising of loan moneys totalling £36,080,000 for financial assistance in 1959-60 to the States for housing.
The moneys will be advanced to the States in accordance with the terms of the 1956 Commonwealth and States Housing Agreement. Of the total amount of £36,080,000, which it is estimated will be advanced to the States in the current financial year, at least £10,824,000, being 30 per cent, of total advances, must be allocated by the States to building societies, and other approved institutions for lending for private home building. The balance of up to £25,256,000 will be available for the erection of dwellings by the States. The corresponding amounts in 1958-59 were £10,753,000 for private home building and £25,057,000 for State housing projects.
The estimated amount of £36,080,000 is allocated in accordance with the States’ requests as follows: -
I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Motion (by Dr. Donald Cameron) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Science and Industry Research Act 1949.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to increase the membership of the executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Honorable members are, of course, well acquainted with the work of the C.S.I. R.O., but perhaps I might be permitted to recall some of its major activities and triumphs. Among the latter two are perhaps pre-eminent. One is the scientific work which resulted in the conversion of areas of the South Australian desert into useful agricultural land. The other is the control of the rabbit pest by myxomatosis. The value of this control to the pastoral industry and to the economy of the country is indeed immense.
The organization is engaged in research into many other problems. One that I might mention, and which I have recently been able to see at first hand, is an investigation into a condition known as infectious pleuro-pneumonia which is a severe and wide-spread disease of cattle. This is an extensive and fascinating piece of work, if such a term can be applied to such a subject, and will, I am sure, be of the utmost value. It is an extremely fine investigation into the natural history of a serious disease.
The organization which is controlled from its head office in Melbourne is engaged in many other activities as well. A comprehensive list would be tedious to recount, but I might refer briefly to such activities as those conducted by the Division of Plant Industry, the Division of Animal Health and Production, one of whose activities I have already mentioned, with its regional pastoral laboratory at Armidale, and its national sheep breeding station at Cunnamulla, and its national cattle breeding station at Rockhampton.
In addition, to take a few instances at random, there is the Division of Entomology, the Division of Fisheries and Oceanography, the wool research laboratories, and 1 might mention here the recent development by C.S.I.R.O. of washable noiron woollens as one example of a discovery which can be of the utmost importance to our economy. There arc also the chemical . research laboratories with work being done on minerals, cement and ceramics, chemical engineering and many other subjects. There is also the National Standards Laboratory with work which covers a wide field of metrology, physics and other subjects. There are, of course, many other aspects of the organization’s work which time does not permit me to enumerate.
The Science and Industry Research Act 1949 vests the control of the C.S.I.R.O. in an executive of five persons, three of whom give their full time to the duties of their office and three of whom must be scientists. With the growing diversity of the activities of the organization it has become clear that an executive of five is too small for the task it has to shoulder.
C.S.I.R.O., furthermore, is being asked to undertake more and more responsibility for research for primary industries under schemes put forward whereby these industries contribute a considerable part of the funds involved. In this regard I would remind the House of the well-established scheme for financing wool research and the recently introduced schemes for research for the benefit of the tobacco, wheat and dairy industries.
The extent of the additional load which the executive is now carrying may be gauged from the fact that the organization’s budget has grown from £2,000,000 in 1949, when the present act was passed, to more than £8,500,000 in the current year.
The bill I am now introducing makes provision for amending the act to increase the membership of the executive from five to nine. Two of the four new members would be full-time members bringing the number of members devoting their full time to the duties of their office from three to five. The other two new members would be part-time members, making four part-time members in all, thus enabling a wider spread of outside experience to be brought to the deliberations of the executive.
This change would permit the executive to act more effectively in discharging its important responsibilities in guiding the destinies of this important organization. It is intended that at least five of the nine members of the executive should have scientific qualifications since the executive is concerned largely with matters of the utmost technical complexity. The quorum for a meeting of the executive will be increased from three to five.
A minor machinery amendment has also been included to change section 32 to include reference to the Minister for Territories since his office has absorbed the functions of those of the former Minister for External Territories.
Mr. Speaker, I consider myself very fortunate to have acted as Minister in charge of this great institution during the absence of my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), whose energetic, enthusiastic and able administration of the C.S.I.R.O. has earned him the gratitude of the whole country. I am very glad to introduce this measure on his behalf. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion of Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 23rd September (vide page 1285), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The purpose of this measure is described as being, “ To approve the borrowing of moneys for a defence purpose, namely, financial assistance to the States in connexion with war service land settlement and to authorize the expending of those moneys “. Honorable members will recall that a bill of this kind has been a hardy annual right from the inception of the war service land settlement scheme in 1945. That scheme was based upon an act which incorporated an agreement between all the States and the Commonwealth. It laid down the basis on which war service land settlement in Australia would be conducted. Overall, 1 would say that for the limited number of ex-servicemen who have been provided with land under a scheme for them - and 1 emphasize the words, “ for them “ - the scheme has been eminently successful. This has been due, in large measure, to the fact that the foundations upon which it was based were sound.
They set out clearly the obligations of the respective States. Three were to act as principal States and three - Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia - as agents of the Commonwealth. Certain substantial concessions were made by way of interest, living allowances, the writing-down of the value of the land on which the soldier settler was placed below its actual cost to the governments concerned. A wide range of similar concessions of that type to the ex-serviceman who went on the land have proved successful. But, unfortunately, over the years since 1949 - and indeed, even during the period from 1945 to 1949 - economic circumstances in this country and, might I emphasize, bad State governments and bad Commonwealth governments, have created a situation, as we were informed by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), in his second-reading speech, which has given an end result that only 10,860 returned servicemen have been satisfactorily settled on the land in this vast Commonwealth. That is only a mere handful of the total number of men who applied for assistance and who, indeed, were classified as suitable applicants to undertake farming operations in various parts of this country.
It is a rather sad story from that angle. The end result is that the Commonwealth and the respective States have lost, from the point of view of land settlement and successful farmers, many thousands of good men who would have made a splendid contribution to the rural life and productivity of this country. That is the tragedy of it all and it is due, in no small measure, to the inflation which Australia has experienced, since 1947 even, to this day. All States, both principal and agent States, have found that whereas in 1945 it took £5,000 or £6,000 to settle an ex-serviceman generously on the land, by 1950 and indeed in this day and generation, no soldier settler can be placed on the land in any State and have any possible hope of success with an outlay of less than £20,000 or £25,000. In these circumstances the three principal States - New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland - have found themselves financially embarrassed. Under the terms of the 1945 agreement, these three principal States undertook the responsibility of finding a share of the capital for the purchase of the land on which to place ex-servicemen. Under the financial agreement which operates between the Commonwealth and the States, a reimbursement of certain tax moneys is made to the States, and under another agreement the Commonwealth and six States jointly comprise the Australian Loan Council to determine the allocation of loan moneys each year for the respective States. But because of the inflation which exists, these States have found it absolutely impossible, with the allocation from the Loan Council, to carry on all their activities and also allocate a sum for the purpose of war service land settlement.
On the other hand, Commonwealth governments have apportioned the blame for this state of affairs to the respective States. Over the years the Commonwealth has said to the States, “ You want more money for war service land settlement. Why haven’t you provided for this out of your allocations from ordinary loan moneys? “ The obvious retort of the respective States, particularly the principal States, has been, “ If we put more money into war service land settlement we will be short of essential loan funds for our other requirements”. The situation has been reached to-day in which practically every State, irrespective of its government’s political colour, has reported that war service land settlement is tapering off and has practically ended. I understand, as the Minister intimated in his second-reading speech, that South Australia has told the Commonwealth frankly that it cannot find any more land for war service land settlement. What the Government of South Australia means is that it cannot find any more land at a price which would make it economic to purchase, from the point of view of that government and of the Commonwealth Government. That is what the argument amounts to, but it is obvious that there are areas of land held by certain persons in South Australia which are far larger than would be adequate for their requirements as farmers, graziers or viticulturists.
As a result of a famous legal case, the Commonwealth now realizes that it must observe section 92 of the Constitution and provide just compensation for land acquired. In these circumstances the Commonwealth and the States boggle. They say, “ No, we cannot face this expenditure “. In the end result, thousands and thousands of men in all parts of the Commonwealth, who were originally applicants and were accepted and classified as suitable for the land settlement scheme, have given up the ghost and have rehabilitated themselves in other avocations. Surely this is a tragic state of affairs. It is, of course, gratifying to see that those who have been settled on the land, with a few odd exceptions, are making good headway, because of the generous terms of the agreement that was negotiated in 1945. Those who established themselves on the land before the full impact of inflation, as we know it to-day, have, in some cases, actually paid in full their capital obligations to the respective States under the terms of the agreement. That is all to the good.
– Some of them made the repayment with one wool clip.
– That is right. Some were exceptionally lucky. But, as the honorable member for Wannon knows, it would not be possible to do that to-day. The circumstances were most fortuitous, and they were made even more favorable by the generosity of the terms of the agreement. Some fortunate persons were able to pay their total indebtedness from the proceeds of their wool clips in one boom year, because some of the States were still resuming land at about the 1942 valuation.
Every one knows that at the inception of this scheme land values were pegged, foi purposes of acquisition, at the 1942 level.
Up to 30th June, 1959, only 8,344 exservicemen had been settled on the land in the whole of the Commonwealth under the terms of the war service land settlement legislation. I think I mentioned 10,000 earlier, but I had the figure wrong. It is true that in Victoria, where the scheme was administered probably more efficiently than in some of the other States, the single unit farm system resulted in 2,000 or 3,000 exservicemen being settled on the land. It is also true that in New South Wales, despite the criticism that might be levelled at that State with regard to other matters, the Government provided for soldier settlement outside the ambit of the agreement, by providing substantial finance through the Rural Bank. Each State had some particular way of providing assistance not directly linked with the Commonwealth scheme. But just imagine - only 8,344 ex-servicemen settled under this scheme in the whole of the Commonwealth! At this point I want to make a comment on certain remarks made by the Minister in his second-reading speech. He said -
While the number of classified ex-servicemen m each State is higher than the number allotted farms, many classified ex-servicemen have shown little or no interest in applying for available farms for some years.
What the honorable gentleman does not tell us” is how many ex-servicemen were actually classified as suitable for farms, and how many dropped out over the years, bitterly disappointed because they had no hope whatsoever of obtaining farms. These men have given up hope and have gone into other avenues of employment.
The situation becomes somewhat tragic when we reflect that in 1943 the Rural Industries Committee reported to this Parliament that 23,000 farmers on various types of farms would be required to provide enough food for an additional 1,000,000 people in Australia. Between 1943 and 1959, of course, the application of scientific developments in agriculture has probably made that estimate of the Rural Industries Committee rather out of date. While it may have- been validly argued in 1943 that we should busy ourselves and provide’ for at least 23,000 soldier’ settlers, the position to-day may be quite different. I believe, however, that Australia would have been immensely enriched if it had provided at that time for at least 25,000 returned soldiers to be settled on the land.
It is of no use for the Commonwealth to blame the States. The States indeed must bear some responsibility, but the major responsibility rests with the Commonwealth. It may be suggested that had the Commonwealth been more active in earlier years and placed more men on farms, we would to-day have been over-producing butter, wheat, eggs, meat and other commodities. I would not accept that argument, because I believe that our so-called over-production to-day, which results in much of our produce having to be exported at unpayable prices, is the result of the inflation that has occurred in costs during the last few years. But I still believe that we must export in ever-increasing quantities in order to earn the overseas income necessary to provide for the imports that we need.
I was staggered to read this week in the report of the Stevedoring Industry Board that from 1921 to 1929 the tonnages of our exports roughly equalled the tonnages of imports, while in the years 1949 or 1950 or thereabouts, import tonnages were about double our export tonnages. Surely this is a parlous and dangerous state of affairs. It is true that if you relate tonnages to values, you will find that during the years in which we have had import and export control the values of imports and exports have been roughly equal - or at least this is so at the present time. But surely something is wrong with our economy when the tonnage of our exports is only half of that of our imports. Inevitably we are confronted with a situation in which our growing population demands that we export more or bust, if I may use an ungrammatical expression.
– Does not the fact that our imports exceed our exports show that our standard of living has improved?
– That’ may be. But it does not solve your balance of payments problem, and it does not alter the fact that, with an increased standard of living, you need imports equivalent to your exports, and that one’ should still at least nearly balance’ the other. The figures for this financial year show 16,000,000 tons imported - I do not know whether they are tons by weight or by measure, but the comparison will still stand - and 8,000,000 tons exported. So where do we go? However, that is only comment.
I notice that in addition to the sum of money mentioned by the Minister in his second-reading speech, a sum of £3,860,000 will be made available to the States. That is to be derived from repayments of advances by settlers, State and Commonwealth contributions to the excess of costs over valuations placed on holdings, sales of surplus land, and payments to settlers who exercise the right to freehold farms now held by them. In total, the States this year will receive £10,860,000 - including £7,000,000 from loan funds. In round figures New South Wales will receive £1,700,000, Victoria £1,000,000, South Australia £2,854,000, Western Australia £3,232,000 and Tasmania £2,059,000.
Now, Sir, that is the story, and I am sorry to say that in clause 3 of this bill under which the Government seeks authority to raise this money, which is the key clause of the bill, the following is provided: -
The Treasurer may, from time to time, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911-1946, or in accordance with the provisions of any Act authorizing the issue of Treasury Bills, borrow moneys not exceeding in the whole Seven million pounds.
I do not quite understand - admittedly I do not profess to be an economist or to have any profound knowledge of economics - why the Government, in seeking authority to raise this money, seeks also authority to exercise the choice of two methods of raising it. It seeks authority either to borrow the money under the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911-1946 - a procedure which would cost it 5 per cent, or 5i per cent, in interest - or to finance the project by the issue of treasury-bills which, I understand, are available to the Government at the cost of issuance. Is there any reason in the world why the whole of this financial operation, involving £7,000,000 in loan money, which is entirely for a reproductive project, should not be financed through the issue of treasury-bills at the cost of issuance of about 1 per cent? Perhaps the Minister, who may not know much more about finance than I do, can tender a satisfactory explanation. I do not know what the explanation is.
I conclude by saying that the Opposition supports the measure. We have always ardently supported the settlement of returned servicemen on the land. We were the originators of the 1945 legislation which laid the basis under which this great settlement movement was established. It stands to the credit of men like those who comprised the Rural Reconstruction Commission - Mr. Frank Wise, Mr. Lambert, the late Frank Murphy, the then Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, and Mr. Chifley, the then Prime Minister - that the basis of the project was so soundly laid that, so far as I can recollect, there has been no amendment of the agreement provided in the 1945 legislation under which the various States have worked.
I commend the bill to the House, and I should like to hear the Minister for Primary Industry answer some of the criticisms I have offered. I have a vivid recollection of the fact that after World War I. 13,000 settlers were put on the land in Victoria, and only 4,400 of them stayed there. I was one of the lucky ones. Forty-four hundred out of 13,000! The rest went off with broken hearts and practically nothing in their pockets, because at that time the Commonwealth and the States lacked experience in that sort of thing. The basis on which the project was launched in those days was unsound, with the result I have mentioned. It can be truly said of the present scheme that, apart from the criticism that I have offered to the effect that the number of men provided for is all too small - something which is due almost entirely to this Government, although the States perhaps also deserve some blame -
– The honorable member for Canning asks why! Among other reasons, because of galloping inflation leading to increased land values and increased prices of stock and machinery and so on. All of those have a direct bearing on the part that you people opposite played in frustrating the desire of a wise government early in the history of this country to retain for the people of Australia some reserve power over prices. Even the honorable member for Canning will admit that that would have had a steadying influence on the shocking inflation that has occurred, perhaps one of the worst results of which is that primary producers have been landed in the position where, in many instances, their costs of production are so high that they find it impossible to compete in export markets. I leave it at that.
.- I should like to join with the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) in his tribute to the Rural Reconstruction Commission which, I believe with him, is the body whose work laid the basis on which the war service land settlement scheme after World War II. was constructed. I believe that it did its work very well, as has been borne out by the success of the scheme.
Now, sir, the Commonwealth Government has decided, in effect, to wind up the scheme in part, in that from 30th Tune this year it will accept no new propositions in the agent States. That does not, of course, apply to propositions which have been already accepted and which remain to be developed, or to propositions submitted prior to 30th June which the Commonwealth has not yet examined. The ending of the scheme in the sense I have described seems to me to provide a good opportunity for pointing out some of the lessons that can be learned from this particular experiment in closer settlement, which is only one experiment in the long history of closer settlement schemes in Australia. From one point of view it has, I believe, been extremely successful. A very high proportion of those who have been settled have been settled successfully. I am not now talking about the total numbers who have been settled but about the proportion of those settled who are still on the land and who have succeeded up to this point. That proportion, as far as I am aware, has been very high indeed. The honorable member for Lalor spoke about the position that obtained after the First World War when the exceptional settler was the one who succeeded, and not the one who failed as is the case now.
The present situation is unique in closer settlement schemes in Australia, not only war service land settlement schemes but also various civilian land settlement schemes that have been carried out here almost since the time of the first settlement of the country. In all schemes in the past there has been a very high proportion of failures. I believe that the reason why this scheme succeeded and the others failed - this is where the work of the Rural Reconstruction Commission comes in - is because for the first time the closer settlement scheme that followed on the Second World War was dominated by economic considerations rather than political ones. Those considerations dictated the way in which the scheme was administered. This was true of the considerations that affected farm sizes, the rent commitments of the settler, whether the land was to be accepted in the first place and the state of readiness of the block when the settler took it over. All those vital factors to success depended in this case on economic considerations. No longer, as in the other schemes, did governments say on a political basis that 100, 200 or 300 acres was enough for anybody, that a settler should be able to make a living out of that area irrespective of the type of country, its state of development and the improvements that have been put on it. That was the kind of thing that happened in the past. This time the very opposite was the case and as a result the scheme has been to a large extent successful.
In South Australia, although not all eligible ex-servicemen have been settled, I think it can be said that the vast majority of those who have been settled are now firmly established, lt would have been nominally possible to settle more exservicemen if less pains had been taken to ensure that those who were settled were given a chance of success. In my view if those were the alternatives, the one chosen was the correct one.
At this point I should like to seek an assurance from the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) with regard to the very small proportion of settlers - I am speaking now chiefly of the agent States - whose future is in doubt through no fault of their own. In many cases the only way in which the position of those settlers can be remedied, after due examination and careful investigation, is by the acquisition of more land to add to their existing hold.in.s. This has been done already during the currency of the scheme. The authorities may find that they made a mistake in their estimate of what a particular property could produce and after investigation they decide that it is necessary to add more land to that property. I would like an assurance from the Minister that the Commonwealth’s decision not to accept any new propositions under the scheme does not apply to remedial measures of the category I have just mentioned. These are people who have already settled on the land. The land was acceptable originally, but it may be necessary for the State authorities to offer the Commonwealth more land so that those settlers may make a success of the land in the light of subsequent disclosures as to its productivity.
Although from the point of view that I have mentioned the scheme may be said to have been a success, I for one do not think that it has been as successful as it might have been - at any rate, in South Australia, which is the only State in respect of which 1 have personal knowledge of the scheme. I have a fairly close personal knowledge of the scheme as it operates in South Australia because practically all the dry land soldier settlement in South Australia is in my electorate. From the beginning of the scheme it has been frustrated by divided jurisdiction between the Commonwealth and the States, which is the principal characteristic of the scheme insofar as it affects the agent States. This division of control, which is inevitable taking into account the way the scheme is framed, has undoubtedly led to inefficiency and delays. Disputes about relative responsibility for aspects of the scheme have frequently been used, by both the Commonwealth and the States, as an excuse for doing nothing. Although the States are only agents for the Commonwealth, in the case of the agent States this does not in practice give the Commonwealth the control over the scheme which might be imagined. It gives the Commonwealth responsibility in the sense that because it pays the money it is held responsible for the scheme, but it has only negative control over the details of the scheme. This is because the States have complete control over the detailed administration of the scheme, and, in particular, because the proposal of land for acceptance under the war service land settlement scheme is left entirely to the States. This means that although the Commonwealth has negative control in the sense that it can accept or reject proposals by the States at will, it cannot take the initiative itself in bringing land into the scheme or in taking remedial action in cases where mistakes have been made. This is tantamount to saying that the Commonwealth has responsibility without power.
Although the Commonwealth is held responsible for the success or failure of the scheme in the agent States, it has no positive power to ensure that the scheme is a success, although in a completely negative sense - in the sense that it can reject proposals put up by the States - it has the opportunity to ensure that the scheme is a failure. The reason for this is no doubt that land settlement is a constitutional responsibility of the States, and the Commonwealth is unwilling to trespass in this particular field of constitutional responsibility. Nevertheless, I am convinced, after carefully considering the history of the scheme and watching its operation in South Australia, that the Commonwealth should have used its repatriation power, together with its defence power, to run war service land settlement completely by itself, or, alternatively, if it were not prepared to do that, it should have handed over the money to the States with the stipulation that it was to be used for war service land settlement. The Commonwealth should then have left the spending of that money entirely to the States. In either case responsibility and control would have been in the same hands and not divorced as they are at present. Under either of those circumstances responsbility for success or failure would rest squarely on the shoulders of one authority. Quite apart from the contribution which this would make to efficiency, it is a vital democratic principle, I believe, that responsibility is determinable and capable of being sheeted home. That is certainly not the case in the present scheme as it operates in South Australia.
This point is well illustrated by the argument that has taken place in South Australia over the decision of the Commonwealth Government to end the scheme at 30th June of this year, in the sense that it would not consider new propositions after that date. The Premier of South
Australia saw fit to say at a conference of the Returned Servicemen’s League in Adelaide that he was disappointed that the Commonwealth had made this decision, and implied that the decision had resulted in the failure of some hundreds of eligible ex-servicemen to receive land in South Australia. Was this strictly fair comment? It should, I believe, be borne in mind that the scheme had been proceeding for no less than fifteen years when the decision to end it was taken. It should also be remembered that South Australia had consistently failed to spend the money made available to it for war service land settlement. 1 understand that the amount underspent by South Australia during the course of the scheme totalled some £800,000. Over the last four or five years, the properties offered by the State to the Commonwealth had diminished to a mere trickle and the State itself had some years ago informed a number of eligible persons that they were unlikely to get land under the scheme because suitable land was not available. We should also keep in mind that the State Government was given two years’ notice of the Commonwealth’s intention to terminate the scheme.
In this connexion, it is worth having a look at what has been achieved by South Australia in accepting new properties in the past two years - that is, since the State Government knew that two years later no further properties would be accepted under the scheme by the Commonwealth. Of the 22 proposals approved by the Commonwealth in that period, eleven were single units developed by the Australian Mutual Provident Society in the Coonalpyn Downs, three related to the build-up to a living area of a property owned by the exserviceman concerned, two were special assistance to ex-servicemen who had purchased farms and were in financial difficulties, one was purchased from a man and wife partnership for re-allotment to the man, one was an offer in favour of a son-in-law, three were properties found by ex-servicemen and offered on their behalf, and one was a property that came on to the market for sale by auction. I think that those figures are self-explanatory.
On the face of it, the reasons for ending the scheme that I have given would appear to be fairly cogent. Summed up, it boils down to the simple proposition that if in fifteen years the States had not been able to find enough suitable land to settle all the eligible persons, they were never likely to do so. On the other hand, the South Australian Government can argue, I believe with some justice, that it has consistently offered land to the Commonwealth which the Commonwealth has rejected, and that if this had been accepted there probably would have been more than enough land on which to settle all available applicants. It could be further argued that the State authorities are in a better position than the Commonwealth to determine whether land is suitable. There are, thus, arguments on both sides, and good ones too. The Premier’s remarks, which I mentioned, were obviously unfair, but not as unfair as all that.
My object at this stage - I think it ls a suitable stage to recall some of the lessons that we have learnt from the operation of the scheme - is to stress the intolerable situation brought about by divided responsibility. In this case, the blame for the failure to settle some hundreds of exservicemen in South Australia has been directly attributed to the Commonwealth by no less a person than the Premier of the State. Yet at no stage during the fifteen years of the operation of the scheme has the Commonwealth had any detailed control over its administration and in particular at no stage has it had the opportunity to decide the policy on which land will be acquired, except from the negative angle of accepting or rejecting land offered by the State authorities.
I trust that if the Commonwealth undertakes any future closer settlement scheme - I sincerely hope that there will be no need for another war service land settlement scheme - it will not adopt the system of divided control and administration that it has in this scheme in relation to agent States. I feel that either the Commonwealth should operate the scheme itself or alternatively it should make available a fixed sum for the closer settlement scheme in a grant to the States, with no strings to it, so that the responsibility for the settlement and the expenditure of the money can be clearly sheeted home. I support the bill.
.- The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) made a very sound contribution concerning the difficulties of soldier settlement both after World War I. and after World War II. Both schemes have had very chequered histories. The honorable member concerned himself mainly with the World War II. scheme, and he was courageous enough to put a certain amount of the blame for the failure of the scheme on to his own State of South Australia. This scheme was a joint undertaking of governments of various calibres and political colours, and we must all bear some of the responsibility for what has happened.
The honorable member said, with a good deal of truth, that the scheme had lapsed for various reasons, including the fact that control was divided. However, the division of control could not be averted because the States would not let us have the sole control. The argument that we should have sole control of various undertakings is repeated time and time again in this House; yet when we seek constitutional changes - the Australian Labour Party is invariably the prime mover in seeking such changes - they are met with opposition from the government of the day, if it happens to be a Liberal government. So, while agreeing with the honorable member, it appears to me that the one extenuating circumstance is that the South Australian Government, which has a pretty parlous record in soldier settlement, offered land but it was not accepted by the Commonwealth. I think that could be a very good thing.
The whole drastic and shocking failure of soldier settlement after World War I. was due to the fact that any land, any bit of jobbery or any sort of set-up was considered good enough. Naturally, the schemes collapsed in various States. There was a Federal royal commission and there were State royal commissions in regard to soldier settlement. The whole thing was a ridiculous and horrible failure after the First World War. For that reason, when the Labour Government decided to undertake its reconstruction schemes, it included the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land, and it decided to rely on experts such as the officers of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization - an organization which the honorable member for Barker praises from time to time, and with great justification. I think that, in the long run, it has been better that, since the Second World War, ex-servicemen have not been placed on unsuitable land and that the objective has not been just to settle a large aggregate number in order to prove that we have been able to put ex-servicemen on the land.
But is there not something in regard to soldier settlement which we must face up to - something which points a much higher moral and which presents a much wider case in relation to land settlement generally? If we cannot, in the most favoured circumstances, find land for our ex-servicemen after a war, what poppycock and nonsense we are talking to migrants and to our own Australian people about the vast empty spaces of this country. Do they exist? Or, if they exist, are they held by the squattocracy with such firmness that you cannot shake them free? Is there any realism left in the term “ closer settlement “, or is it better to have broad acres for sheep so that wool may earn the money to look after our balance of payments? We have to face up to all these questions on a non-political basis.
Unfortunately for the digger, he has been made a horrible example of the way in which settlement on the land should not be approached. The figures indicating the number of ex-servicemen settled under the war service land settlement scheme which were quoted by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), in his secondreading speech, are shocking in the extreme. I may say that the results are none of his responsibility. He is a very good Minister, if I may say so. He said that, up to 30th June, 1959, under this scheme, 3,036 farms were provided in New South Wales, 2,994 in Victoria, and 984 in South Australia. The figure for South Australia adds colour to the remarks about the small number of farms provided and the circumstances surrounding their allocation made by the honorable member for Barker. The Minister told us that 880 farms we~e provided in Western Australia and 450 in Tasmania, making a grand total of 8,344. The latest figures that we have been able to extract from the records indicate that no fewer than 30,000 ex-servicemen applied for consideration under the scheme and sought what are known as qualifying certificates. Whether such certificates were in fact issued to 30,000 applicants, I am not in a position to say at this stage. The honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) may know something of that. In any case, what happened to 30,000 eager applicants who wished to go on the land, when the dribble of settlement over almost twenty years provided only 8,344 farms although the aggregate cost of the scheme amounted to about £80,000,000?
There has got to be some answer to this problem. Our general talk about settlement and our plans for immigration must ultimately mean settlement, not in the cities and the country towns, but on the land - first of Australians and later of migrants. Do we envisage that, or are we just talking nonsense? What is to be the future of soldier settlement generally? Can we not do something ourselves, of our own conscience, instead of giving it away entirely and moaning about our constitutional limitations and the arrogance of the States visavis the disabilities of the Commonwealth and its need of the requisite constitutional power to do these things? Cannot we, as a Commonwealth, do something about settling ex-servicemen in the Northern Territory? The most colourful speeches I have heard in this House are made by members on both sides about the potentialities of the Northern Territory. Are the things that are said true? Is the Territory a desert, or is it something destined to blossom like the rose? We have to find out, and the best experiment that the Government could make in order to find out would be to consider the settlement of returned servicemen on farms in the Northern Territory.
So far as I can see, no attempt has been made to do this. The Government falls down in the face of the problem and says that the Territory is a big area and that hundreds of thousands of square miles of land are needed to provide a living. Somebody is telling fibs. Somebody is exaggerating the picture. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) goes off at a high pitch with books and brochures and speeches about development, and so does the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck). Surely, if there is bounding development in the Northern Territory, and we have been worsted in respect of soldier settlement in the States because we lack constitutional power, we can gather up some of the broken-hearted residuum of the 30,000 applicants - ex-servicemen who have gone into all sorts of trades, but who are really country men at heart and who want to get back to the farm, perhaps many of them being the sons of farmers who were dispossessed in the days of the depression and in other bad times. Surely we can do something for them of our own right in our own Territories. Until we do that, we should not talk such defeatism as we have talked lately in this matter.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) is an expert in these things, and I am only his humble pupil. As he has said, it is a case of having gone over the same weary round. Soldier settlement is a hardy annual. Every year, we see the scheme dying slowly by inches. South Australia cries, “ Enough “. New South Wales is intransigent. The story in Victoria is not too good. Queensland has another problem. So the weary chatter about the agent States and the principal States goes on, and we hear all the rubbish that is spoken about soldier settlement. I do not think we should let it go at that. I do not think that the new constitutional decisions in regard to some of our reconstruction programmes and preference in employment to ex-servicemen should reach into the field of soldier settlement, which is governed by a separate act. We must look at the mistakes that we have made, and the Minister must answer some questions about them. Are not we all patriotic until we are asked to do something about the men who have returned from the wars?
Honorable members will agree that we have had some of our greatest fights in this House about the payment of just prices for land acquired for war service land settlement. When the present Government parties were in opposition, they fought the Labour Government tooth and nail when it sought to acquire properties for this purpose. They said that it was wrong to take from a man land which he had acquired for a small sum and to subdivide it for soldier settlement. The question of whether 1942 values or the subsequent increased values should be paid was argued hotly. Because the Labour Government’s idea of doing quickly as much as it could do was defeated, we lost out in the race. As the honorable member for Lalor has pointed out, if there had been expedition and quickness of action, and if there had been keenness and cooperation on the part of the landholders, the Labour Government could have had the land before inflation slayed the scheme.
– Surely the honorable member means “ some landholders “.
– Yes, “some landholders “. Some of them had vast areas, and they held up the scheme. We found that we were frustrated by many conditions, by constitutional issues, by lack of co-operation, and by quarrels over a fair price, and before we had time to get to grips with this problem and divide the land into small holdings - and that is the thing above all that will develop Australia - inflation caught up with us. We were not able to do it. As the honorable member for Lalor has said, again, land that used to be worth £5,000, £6,000 or £7,000 became worth £20,000. That was out of all question, and, little by little, the war service land settlement scheme has gone by default. It has gradually died. That is the position to-day.
The Labour Government which held office until 1949 has been accused of many crimes, but much of its important legislation has not been given the credit due to it. Its rehabilitation legislation for the benefit of ex-servicemen was framed on a non-party basis in order to do something that had not been done before - to give overall justice to ex-servicemen in all sorts of fields. The Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme was one of the finest things in the world. We were screaming for trained men such as doctors, lawyers, barristers and other professional men, and for trained farmers. Agriculture, business and the professions were proud to help train the young men who came back from the war, and who were able to buckle down and’ get’ on with their training. We are now reaping the benefit” of that in every field of activity.
There was a genuine idea this time that we should not make the egregious errors that were made after the 1914-18 war - that we should not get land for war service land settlement from any land jobber, pour ex-servicemen on to rocky land whether or not they were competent, and tell them to produce wheat and poultry and to become interested in viticulture and citrus growing. This sort of thing was done after the First World War, and many of the farms went out of production. Many thousands of them left the land in a poorer condition, because it had been run down. They have gained no real experience of farming and they hate the fact that they ever tried to engage in land settlement in their own country. That is a sad story. It is a tragic story. One has only to look at the records in the Library in order to see how disastrous was our land settlement scheme after the war of 1914-1918. Only with the support of agricultural interests generally - the rich man, the poor man, and the expert on the land - can the Government ever achieve a useful and consistently good scheme for the development of this country by soldier settlement. In Australia’s second essay into war service land settlement, a Labour government made sure that ex-servicemen were given nothing but the best land. We sought the help of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and we had testings made of the land by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Attention was given to trace elements, and whether land was suitable for particular types of agriculture or for pastoral uses. We adopted the most scientific form of ‘ screening. Then, when we went to get the land there was resistance of every kind. There was not resistance in all cases, as the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) says, but in many cases it slowed down our programme. We have to admit, whether we like it or not, on a non-party basis, that the failure of the soldier settlement scheme is indicated in the miserable settlement figures. The total number of ex-servicemen placed on the land in New South Wales, under this scheme, was 3,000; in Victoria, it was 2,000; in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania it was not even 1,000. Yet £80,000,000 has been invested in the scheme since its inception!
– The figures are poor for New South Wales, but they are not poor for every State.
– More ex-servicemen were settled in New South Wales than in any other two States.
– Surely we are not going to become full of State hatred and say, “ We did more than you did “. The scheme is not a success. The honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) who is interjecting is an experienced farmer. He knows it is a very good thing to get more men on the land. It is one of the things that he stands for in this Parliament, but he will not say that this scheme has been a howling success. Where men have gone on the land they have done very well because the desire was to see that they had the best land on which to settle. The honorable member will, I am sure, agree with that. But we say that two factors have operated adversely. One was the time factor. That defeated the government of the day. We could have had much more land settled if there had been a little more co-operation. In many ways, there was nothing but frustration - frustration which was added to because some honorable members on the other side of the House took up the cause of the squatter much more vehemently than they took up the cause of the young soldier who wanted to get a farm of his own. Then there has been the problem of inflation. Once land values became inflated, it was a certainty that the War Service Land Settlement Scheme would fail.
I do not want to deal in anything but a general way with that failure or with the history of the scheme in South Australia. It looks as though the scheme will go out. It has not been a performance of which we should be proud. What happened to these land hungry men we do not know. They grew tired and fell wearily by the wayside. Nobody has checked back on them. It is a bad job in all essence. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) has suggested to me that some compensatory work should be done. Surely even if we are worried, hamstrung, hampered, angered, and delayed by constitutional considerations, there is no need to suffer those disabilities in relation to settlement in the Northern Territory. If all this talk about delta farming and the irrigation of the Ord River and all these reports about northern Australia that we have read from time to time, both on the Western Aus tralian side and on the Queensland side, can be co-related there ought to be grand opportunities still for servicemen who want to settle on the land. Later on, there ought to be opportunities for civilians also.
Instead of talking about the empty north in order to frighten little babies in their cradles, we ought to do something constructive in this House about putting people in the north. This problem may pose many questions of finance but this is so with respect to many problems in this country. This is not a lush land. It is an arid land with a low rainfall and soil that has been used over the centuries. Geologically, Australia is an extremely old country and, for that reason, the land has to be rebuilt. In order to rebuild it, the Government must move in. That is why Labour’s socialist attitude to the land is much more realistic than the old capitalistic idea of the Liberal Party - “ Get it if you can, and hang on to it if it is good “. I know that these remarks will inflame the mind of my friend the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), but they are sound.
Much nonsense is spoken about our millions of acres of fertile land. If it were fertile, the old squatters, booted and spurred, would be on it like a shot. Not much fertile land is available for settlement. Either governments hold it or it requires a great deal of development. Such development has been undertaken by insurance companies and Other big companies with plenty of money. They have proved that you can make the desert blossom and develop the fertility of Australia by the expenditure of money. We say that the problem is not one for the Government alone. We have no complaints to make about the present Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) in relation to this matter, but it is up to every member of this Parliament to do something about this matter.
We have failed, as Australians generally, to get a reasonable, sensible scheme for the settlement of soldiers who have wanted to go on the land. We have failed to provide that compensation which we promised solemnly to give to servicemen who went to fight our wars and who returned to this country. We have failed because of the muddle of different governments. There was the Commonwealth Government with its financial superiority and its constitutional lameness and limitations; and there were the State governments with their intransigence and, sometimes, their arrogance in this matter. It became a veritable hotchpotch and the soldier was the sufferer. Finally, the inflation which spread itself over the country put the scheme completely out of thought. But surely we can do something in the Northern Territory.
There has been a surge of prosperity in almost every country; but we should not continue to live on our fat. If we are to justify the holding of this vast and lovely continent we have to do some hard work still. There are plenty of areas in which pioneering could be done and I suggest that our own Commonwealth territory in the north is the very place to start. In what better way could we do this than by giving it to the men who, by their sacrifices, made il ours in perpetuity?
As I have said, we have a pretty sordid story in regard to soldier settlement. It was sordid after the First World War because of jobbery and corruption; and it has been sordid this time because of insufficient co-operation in its administration between the Commonwealth and the States. The man who had land was not prepared to let it go at a fair figure because he knew that its value would go sky high. This victim has been the returned serviceman who wanted to settle on the land.
The honorable member for Lalor has traversed our views on this matter. I add these supplementary comments because 1 think they are valid. We see, with regret, the end of a scheme begun by the Chifley Government for which we had high hopes. In various parts of New South Wales - the State of my birth - there are many fine soldier settlements. There is one at Edgeroi in the electorate of Gwydir. That is the one that Mr. Chifley himself always called his particular baby. It is a magnificent concept. There are about 40 farms there and the men are doing well.
We envisaged, in the rich country around Tenterfield, along the Queensland border and, indeed, all over the nation, little pockets of progressive farming carried on under a satisfactory scheme, but, as I said before, Australia was not ready to do these things. It is not the fault of the Commonwealth Government. It is the fault that goes with every war. After the war is over, the deeds of compensation become less and less. It is a pity that the High Court, in a certain matter, has been able to strike down the preference to returned servicemen. Preference may not have been needed because there has been full employment. But, categorically, one after another, these benefits belonging to the ex-servicemen will perish from our sight and depart from the land. We have not fully discharged our debt to them, particularly in the matter of soldier settlement.
.- The only point in the speech of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) with which I can agree is his suggestion that the Commonwealth should have tackled the problem of settling ex-servicemen in the Northern Territory. But to settle that area is not as easy as mouthing a few words in this Parliament or writing them on paper. Both a Liberal government and an Australian Labour Party government have found that it is no simple job to settle the Northern Territory. Although there is a fair amount of truth in the statements that have been made by the honorable member for Parkes, I take exception to his statement that the soldier settlement scheme has failed because, first, the Labour government of the day was hampered by controls, and secondly, that the then Opposition favoured the big landholders. However, I agree with his statement that the scheme failed because of the muddling of various governments. The scheme was not the brainchild of any particular government. The plan to bring it into operation was first mentioned during the Premiers’ conferences in 1944 and 1945.
A great deal of credit should go to the rural reconstruction committee. A number of ex-servicemen’s organizations, having had some experience of the settlement of ex-servicemen after the First World War, took steps to see that the mistakes of that time were not repeated. They made representation to the rural reconstruction committee which, in turn, passed on its considerations to the government of the day, which was led by the late John Curtin, He then called the Premiers’ conferences in 1 944 and 1 945 to which I have referred to discuss various matters and, in particular, the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land.
The records indicate that not one State Premier agreed with the suggestion that the Commonwealth should conduct its own scheme for the land settlement of exservicemen, and it is interesting to read the remarks of some honorable members who supported the government of the day to learn whether they supported the State Premiers or the Commonwealth Government which wished to run the scheme on a Commonwealth basis. However, I leave honorable members to do their own research.
Unfortunately, as a result of the disagreement between the Premiers and the Commonwealth, the two-way scheme, as we might call it, was developed providing for principal and agent States. The legislation now before us seeks to make available to the three agent States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania £7,000,000, plus another £3,860,000, which will come out of the revolving fund as the repayments are made by those already settled on the land. As has been stated, we have spent £80,000,000 on the scheme, but that amount covers only advances to the States in payment of certain dues that are the responsibility of the Commonwealth, and advances to the agent States.
I disagree entirely with the honorable member for Parkes who has said that this scheme was placed on the road to failure, or words to that effect, because of the attitude of members of the Opposition of 1945-49. At that time some State governments and the Commonwealth Government wished to make certain individual landowners bear a greater proportion of the cost of settling ex-servicemen on the land. In those cases the responsibility fell entirely on the Commonwealth and the States in the spheres of principal and agent, and not on individual landowners to carry the expense. Until the referendum on prices and rent in 1948, the Labour Government could have exercised its will - if it had the will in those days - to obtain land from those landowners to whom it referred as greedy people, but it did not see fit to do so.
When this Government came into office very few ex-servicemen had been settled on the land. Then, as every honorable member should know, the Government of
New South Wales used its own laws to gather to itself the property of private individuals and, in some instances, went so far as to take the owners of land to court in an endeavour to obtain it at a figure decided upon by the government. It was only when the Commonwealth Government, in an endeavour to hustle along the scheme so as to bring it to conclusion, promised to pay to the principal States over a period of three years a sum not exceeding £15,000,000 in the ratio, in the first instance, of £1 for £2, that the Government of New South Wales was prepared to alter its legislation and pay the market value of land to the owners of the properties that it wished to acquire. I well recall some of the conferences when the suggestion was advanced that the States should adopt the Commonwealth’s plan of paying a just price for the land. The States shied away from the suggestion like a young horse being educated to traffic. The whole blame for what has been called the failure of the scheme cannot be placed on this Government. One honorable member has stated that the Commonwealth should initiate a scheme for the settlement of ex-servicemen. I can guess at this moment the reaction of the State Premiers and the people in the various States if the Commonwealth were to say, “ We shall take 600,000 acres of land in this State and use it in a soldier settlement scheme “.
– They would not agree to that.
– As the honorable member for Lalor knows very well, the Commonwealth could not do so. Although the States may be criticized for some of their activities, they are care-free. As I have said, I do not agree with the honorable member for Parkes, who has said that the scheme started to die some years ago. I know that New South Wales has spent £43,000,000 on the scheme, although most of that amount was provided by the Commonwealth from loan funds and revenue. But there have been times when New South Wales, because it was necessary to cut the approved borrowing programme to what would meet the requirements of the time, made a greater cut in the allocation for land settlement of ex-servicemen than in any other aspect of State administration.
We have seen the glaring exhibition in Queensland when the Government of that State obtained money from the Loan Council on the claim that it wanted a certain amount for land settlement, but, having obtained the allocation, it used the money for other purposes. In some cases, having cleared and developed land to a certain stage, ostensibly for ex-servicemen, the State government threw it open to ordinary civilian settlers. However, I must admit that a certain number of ex-servicemen obtained some property.
The settlement of ex-servicemen could have been expedited if advantage had been taken of the promise of a grant of an additional £15,000,000 to the principal States for the development of land. I do not think that any charge can be laid against this Government because of what has happened in New South Wales where, if my information is correct, only 3,036 of 19,356 eligible ex-servicemen have been provided with farms. Honorable members must remember that New South Wales in 1944 and .1945 advocated the suggestion that each State should conduct its own scheme for the settlement of ex-servicemen. The Premier of the day - I need not mention his nair/i - said that the idea of the Commonwealth’s participating in the scheme would be untenable in New South Wales because land settlement was the sole responsibility of the States.
At one stage the suggestion that the Commonwealth should start its own scheme for the settlement of ex-servicemen in New South Wales was investigated, but the scheme was found to be impracticable. There are known cases of men from New South Wales transferring to land available in Tasmania which has been opened up under the agent scheme. They have taken up fat lamb and dairying properties in Tasmania and on Flinders Island and King Island.
It is a pity that this scheme is to be terminated as from 1st July last, but I think everybody will agree that it cannot go on for ever. It is fourteen years since hostilities ceased and this Government cannot be held responsible for settling more exservicemen, although it has opened up estates over the period. Quite frankly, Queensland and New South Wales have fallen down on the job in spite of the fact that during the early stages of the scheme they refused to allow the Commonwealth to come in and have anything to do with it.
– That is not so; they signed the agreement in 1945.
– I am not denying that at all. I recall that the honorable member for Lalor was jockeying himself into a position in the Labour Ministry at the time. The Labour Government was returned to office in 1946 after the September elections. I happen to have before me the minutes of two Premiers Conferences held respectively in August 1944, and on 3rd and 5th October, 1945. On that occasion the late John Curtin offered to conduct the war service land settlement scheme completely as a Commonwealth affair but the States would not agree. One morning during those conferences the late John Curtin said, “ We have a scheme now for the three States of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania “. The Premier of Victoria then wanted to know if it would be possible for the principal States to alter their terms and come in under that scheme, but Mr. Curtin said “ No “. They had made their decision. I am making these comments so that those who do not know the real background may understand. If any honorable member cares to look up the “ Hansard “ report of the debates on this scheme at that time he will find that members of the Opposition, who, to-day, are strangely quiet, in those days argued very forcibly about this matter. Did they make great efforts to convince their colleagues in the State governments to do something about making this scheme a Commonwealth affair?
Although there have been quite a number of arguments about the administration of this scheme by the agent States, which are not denied, the Commonwealth has no right to say to the State authorities, “ This fellow here or that chap there is not doing his job. you had better get rid of him “. The Australian Labour Party would like the Commonwealth to be able to do that because it wants unification. However, the Commonwealth Government has properly said to the State governments, “ We are not satisfied with the way things are going at the moment, what about shaking them up or doing this or that “. lt is a fact, however, that in the agent States the percentage of war service land settlement is much higher than that in the principal States, particularly the two big States of New South Wales and Queensland. For example, in South Australia, the number of classified exservicemen was 2,833. To date, 984 farms have been provided and in addition, 1,225 exservicemen have been granted agricultural loans under the Re-establishment and Employment Act. These men have each received the Commonwealth rehabilitation loan of £1,000.
In South Australia the great problem has been finding sufficient suitable land. Some time ago the authorities in this State frankly admitted they were scraping the bottom of the barrel to find land that would measure up to the requirements of the war service land settlement scheme. I wish to recall a remark of a former Minister for Postwar Reconstruction which was made in this Parliament in 1946. The gentleman in question was Mr. John Dedman, and he laid it down to all the States that this scheme was not to be conducted on the basis of the number of applicants for farms but on the amount of suitable land available on which to settle them. I stress the word “ suitable “. That principle has been observed ever since and, unquestionably, is one of the reasons why more farms have not been made available in South Australia.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) expressed some doubt about the position of ex-servicemen already settled on properties which are now being discovered not to conform to the requirements of the scheme as they do not provide an adequate re-establishment area. I have had considerable association with this scheme and I have not yet been advised of any alteration of its general principles. My impression is that every ex-serviceman will be established on a property that will enable him, after meeting his full commitments, to have a reasonable standard of living. That is still the basis of this scheme. Even if more clearing or more land is involved, that will be provided if the land can be found. That is an obligation on the Commonwealth. I have advised many soldier settlers not to be in too great a hurry to convert their holdings to freehold, because they would find that when they sought assistance from private financial institutions they would be out in the cold, cold snow. I have pointed out to them that it is the responsibility of the governments to see that they are completely rehabilitated. Therefore, I feel that those settlers who may be suffering disabilities of the nature mentioned by the honorable member for Barker need have no cause for worry.
In Western Australia a considerable amount of money has been spent on war service land settlement. The total sum is £32,000,000, which is the largest amount spent by an agent State. The former Minister for Defence, Sir Philip McBride, told the West Australian authorities that if virgin land was available for development, that would be preferred to land on which development had already taken place. As a result, considerable clearing work was undertaken and at the moment in the Jerramongup-Gairdiner area, sufficient land is being cleared to provide 240 farms for ex-servicemen.
These men are going through the trials and tribulations which every ordinary settler faces. I can recall an occasion when a large tract of land was cleared but soon afterwards it was covered with suckers. Various public men kicked up a row in the press about what should be done about these suckers, but that is all they did. They rushed into the press and criticized the scheme.. To-day if anyone were to ask the settlers on that land where are the suckers, their reply, quite bluntly, would be that they were the suckers and that they do not want anything more said about the matter because they are quite happy.
Provided that reasonable husbandry is practised in the management of these properties they will satisfy the requirements of the scheme. No settler is expected to be an expert. One of the fundamental requirements is that he should have reasonable farming capabilities, and he will be protected. I think that the scheme has been administered in a highly commendable manner. I hope the occasion will never arise when we will have to engage in another of these schemes, but if it does arise 1 sincerely trust that, despite what the States may have to say, the Commonwealth will by then have acquired the power to conduct a scheme completely on its own for the settlement of ex-servicemen, rather than under the dual set-up that has been in operation over the last few years.
– Is the honorable member happy about the scheme closing down?
– Yes, and I am quite happy about the set-up in the agent States. I am not happy about what has happened in New South Wales, but that is the New South Wales Government’s own problem, because it elected to follow a particular course, and members of the Labour Party in this House strenuously supported that election by the New South Wales Government to carry out its own scheme. Those same honorable members in this House never supported the idea of the Commonwealth conducting a scheme by itself until the last couple of years, when they have tried to force the issue. At the present time there are properties available in Tasmania, although they may not be suitable for grandiose grazing schemes. These properties are available because there have not been enough settlers to take up the areas that have been developed.
Any honorable member who cares to make an analysis of the scheme and see what has been done will realize the progress that has been achieved, particularly in the agent States. I am sorry to have to say again that the Queensland scheme failed, but it did not fail because of the attitude of any one in this Commonwealth Parliament, on either side of the House. It failed simply because Queensland was not prepared to face up to the obligations that it undertook a few years ago. Then, when it had a chance to modify its scheme, Queensland still wanted to pick the best of two worlds, and refused to face its responsibilities. The unfortunate result has been that ex-servicemen in that State have not enjoyed the advantages available to those in other States.
In Victoria there is still some argument going on about valuations and so on and I suppose it will go on until the whole scheme winds up completely. But those are purely administrative matters, and it is not beyond the powers of the officers concerned to arrive at some conclusions on them. Some instruction may have to be given with regard to those matters. But the actual job of settling the men on the land has been done in most of the States. It is a great pity that New South Wales did not carry on with the job in the way it originally proposed, because the 16,000 men about whom the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has complained-
– But remember that the Rural Bank looked after a section of those!
– I know that, but the honorable member for Parkes knows as well as I do that on every occasion when brochures are sent out giving details of farms available, inquiries do not come in from the thousands that the honorable member has claimed are still interested and waiting for farms; they come in only from a few hundreds. Most of those that the honorable member has spoken of are not interested. I agree with only one argument of Opposition supporters, and that is regarding the necessity for settling men on the land in the Northern Territory.
I support the legislation, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I trust that the scheme will come to a satisfactory conclusion very shortly, to the benefit of all those who have been settled on the land. I feel certain that if those settlers are prepared to cultivate their land efficiently, and to husband their stock in the correct way, they will make a real success of the job. as those who were settled earlier have done, even though prices may not be as high as they were formerly - and the price factor must be considered, both with regard to the repayment of capital and the return that can be obtained from produce.
.- The speech that we have heard from the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) is the obituary notice of war service land settlement in Australia. The mourners are the ex-servicemen with their qualification certificates who are denied the right to go on the land. Upon this Parliament rests the solemn responsibility to ensure that those ex-servicemen who have qualified for land settlement are given the opportunity to go on the land for which they fought so valiantly in the war. This is a responsibility that must be shared by the Government and the Opposition. It is a responsibility of the Parliament, because the undertakings given to those who served this country were given by Labour governments and by anti-Labour governments.
Consequently, the full responsibility rests upon this Parliament.
I was shocked to hear the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) say that he was happy about the termination of the scheme. It was a hymn of hate that flowed from his lips. He evidently had no other intention than to try to heap coals upon the heads of leaders of Labour governments in New South Wales. He had no thought of facing up to his responsibilities as a member of the National Parliament which made certain promises to ex-servicemen. These are responsibilities that the National Parliament has to honour, because, as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) has said, if one thing more than another has damaged war service land settlement it has been divided control, division of authority and incessant and interminable argument and criticism such as we have heard from the honorable member for Canning. I was disgusted, to say the least, at the fact that the honorable member failed to say one word for those ex-servicemen who are waiting to go on the land, and who are ready, willing and eager to go on the land. The fact that the honorable member, himself an exserviceman, was not prepared to speak for them redounds to his everlasting shame and disgrace. The honorable member for Canning said that this scheme cannot go on for ever. There is a responsibility upon this Parliament to continue the scheme just so long as there is one ex-serviceman waiting to go on the land, because each and every one of these ex-servicemen was made certain promises by the various governments of this country.
I was astonished also to hear a naive statement made by the Minister for Primary Industry in his second-reading speech, in which he sought to evade responsibility and, in a callous way, if I may use that term, to pass the blame back to the exservicemen themselves. The Minister said -
Many classified ex-servicemen have shown little or no interest in applying for available farms for some years.
We know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that there is a demand to-day, almost as great as it was in the beginning of the scheme. I have received repeated representations from exservicemen’s organizations, such as the
Returned Servicemen’s League, asking that something be done about the matter, and expressing concern and alarm. If the honorable member for Canning believes that no concern is felt about this matter, let me refer him to an article that appeared in the Sydney “ Daily Mirror “ of 10th August, 1959 - only two months ago. The heading of the article is, “ R.S.L. Men Angry; Land scheme ‘ dying ‘ “. The report stated that Mr. Yeo, the State president of the Returned Servicemen’s League, listed the three set-backs that ex-servicemen have experienced. These were given as -
Negation of soldier preference by the Federal Government. Inability of the State Government to provide finance. Federal claims that rehabilitation was not needed fourteen years after the war.
It is obvious, and it was made evident by the honorable member for Canning, that the Commonwealth Government wants to wash its hands completely of this scheme for the re-settlement of ex-servicemen, because it has a deeper vested interest in other directions, and it is not prepared to disturb the status quo in order to put ex-servicemen upon the land. If the honorable member believes that such is not the case, that there are vast tracts of land - as there are undoubtedly in States like Western Australia - where ex-servicemen might be settled, then I seriously suggest to him that the scheme should not die, but that we should redouble our efforts. As I remarked previously, a solemn responsibility rests on this Parliament to see that exservicemen are given land, and not just given excuses such as we have heard this afternoon from the honorable member for Canning. The need for ex-servicemen to go on the land is clear and undisputed. Instead of dealing with this question in a critical, venomous and poisonous fashion, as the honorable member for Canning has done, it would have been much better for that honorable gentleman to have discussed the policy of the Government he supports with regard to land settlement. Let the honorable gentleman remember the vast tracts of country that could be made available for settlement in the Northern Territory, and let it go on record here, Sir, that whatever arguments relating to constitutional difficulties and problems associated with State governments might be used by the Government for not settling ex-soldiers in the various States, there is no constitutional difficulty to prevent this Government or any Commonwealth government from settling ex-servicemen in the Northern Territory.
– Or in the Australian Capital Territory either.
– Yes, as the honorable member for Lalor says, there is no constitutional difficulty to prevent the Commonwealth Government from settling exservicemen in the Australian Capital Territory also. The Government has ‘a shocking record in regard to settlement in the Northern Territory, lt has a responsibility to do something also for ex-servicemen in the Australian Capital Territory who have been recorded as desiring to participate in the war service land settlement schemes; yet, rather than accept this responsibility, the Government passed the names of desiring settlers in the Australian Capital Territory over to the Government of New South Wales - this much-maligned State, this State which, according to the Commonwealth Government, has not been able to carry out its task to the full satisfaction of the Commonwealth. That claim did not stop the Commonwealth Government from handing over its ex-servicemen holus bolus to New South Wales, saying to the New South Wales Government, “ Put those people on the land, or at least add them to your waiting list “. The Government’s view was that these people could get land some time in the future, that it was a matter for the sweet by and by, and that posterity could answer for any failure to give them land.
To-day, the Commonwealth Government has something to answer for in the Australian Capital Territory, but its big responsibility is in regard to the Northern Territory. There is no let, no hindrance, no barrier of any kind to prevent the Commonwealth from carrying out a land settlement scheme in the Northern Territory. Vast tracts of good country have been classified by that excellent person associated with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Mr. Christian, a man who has performed outstanding service for the Commonwealth, a man who, together with other officers up there, has been able to prove the great carrying capacity of that land and the benefits that would be derived from the use of Townsville lucerne, buffel grass and other crops in the Northern Ter ritory. Yet this land, with all its rich potentialities and wonderful possibilities, has not been given to ex-servicemen by this Government. Not one person has been placed on the land there by this Government. This is a matter which lies solely within the province and the domain of the Commonwealth Government - the Australian Government - yet not one person has been placed on the land in the Northern Territory by it, while great land and agricultural companies, and great investment organizations in Australia and overseas, have been able to prosper there. One such great organization is Territory Rice Limited, which was able to obtain a vast area on the banks of the Adelaide River. Two years ago, when I was in the Northern Territory, ex-servicemen complained to me that they were not able to get land on the Adelaide River for the purpose of growing rice. I made representations to the Minister for Territories in respect of those claims, but nothing has been done about them.
In a letter to a colleague the Minister for Territories pointed out quite clearly that it was not the intention of the Commonwealth Government to continue the war service land settlement scheme. It is unfair and wrong in every possible respect for any Minister or Government supporter now to try to pass the blame, or the responsibility, on to any State, for here in a letter to a colleague of mine the Minister for Territories said -
It is now 13 years since the termination of World War II., and the intention is to finalize at an early date the settlement scheme that was undertaken for the re-establishment of exservicemen of that war. Recently, Queensland made representations regarding re-opening the scheme in that State. After discussion, however, it was agreed that it was not appropriate for this to be done after this lapse of time.
These are decisions of this Government, arrived at in respect of Queensland and in regard to the scheme proper. That letter was dated 17th September, 1958. So, twelve months ago the Commonwealth Government knew that it intended to close this scheme. I say that, in regard to a great national issue like the settlement of people on the land, we ought for once to cease dissembling, we ought to stop using political arguments and face the wide national implications involved. We ought to honour the solemn pledges and promises made in the first instance to the exservicemen, and take action to satisfy the needs of those who have the necessary qualifications.
I believe that, quite apart from the exservicemen who should be considered in regard to this scheme, the matter of land settlement and rural development generally is one that this Parliament and all the parliaments in Australia should consider. I say that, because surely we are not satisfied that we have reached the end of land development in this country, that we have reached the limit of our frontiers in development, that there is no more valuable land that can be developed. Just as 1 believe that the war service land settlement scheme should continue until every exserviceman with a qualifying certificate ls settled on the land, I believe also that people who want land, who are crying out for land, yearning for an opportunity to go on the land, ought to be given the opportunity to do so. They include the sons of farmers who have been compelled by economic conditions to go to the cities. They have had to leave the land because of the lack of employment opportunities in the country areas - because of the great erosion of employment opportunities in country areas. There are many boys who are yearning to go back to the land and follow the pursuits of their fathers, and they ought to be given the opportunity to share in the development of this country. Yet we have a government in office to-day which is content to produce a bill of this kind to provide about £10,000,000 to wind up the war service land settlement scheme - one of the most commendable schemes in Australia’s history. It is unbelievable to me that this should happen. I can hardly believe that a government so well supported by exservicemen would take the step that this Government is taking now.
As 1 said previously, Mr. Deputy Speaker, there is a solemn responsibility on the Government to take action. I have a report here from the federal president of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, which has been circulated to all honorable members. In that report Sir George Holland said that he had received information from the Government that at 31st December, 1957, the number of ex-servicemen in each of the States who wanted to go on the land, and who held qualifying certificates, was as follows:- New South Wales, 19,356; Victoria, 11,217; Queensland, 1,739; South Australia, 2,828; Western Australia, 1,679; Tasmania, 611.
Has this nation become so poor, so bankrupt, so incapable of planning and so bereft of leadership that people who fought for it, who hold qualifying certificates and who want to develop its rural production are denied the opportunity to become primary producers? I must again refer to the statement by the Minister for Primary Industry that many classified ex-servicemen have shown little or no interest in applying for an available farm for some years. That has not been my experience. I have received repeated representations from ex-servicemen who have done everything possible to try to win a ballot in order to obtain a block of land on which to build a home and a farm. I know that in New South Wales the authorities responsible for the administration of the war service land settlement scheme have been asking exservicemen what recent experience they have had in farming. We all know that a person compelled to earn a living in some other vocation would not have very much recent experience of any kind of farming, unless he was a friend of some person engaged in primary industry and had the opportunity of following the occupation in a part-time capacity.
There is an urgent need for these people to go on the land. The ex-servicemen’s association claims that their needs should be satisfied and I concur in that view. The scheme should not be wound up. It should be continued. The Government has a responsibility to ex-servicemen to continue the scheme until all ex-servicemen who desire it have been placed on the land. The report submitted by Sir George Holland to the national conference of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia discloses that up to the end of 1957 in New South Wales 2,979 persons had been settled on the land under the war service land settlement scheme. In Victoria the number was 2,799, in Queensland 470, and in South Australia 821, and there were smaller numbers in the other States. More recent figures made available by the Minister show that in New South Wales 3,036 farms have been made available, 2,994 in Victoria, 984 in South Australia, 880 in Western Australia and 450 in Tasmania - a total of 8,344. That is not a satisfactory position.
I pay a tribute to the people who are trying to make this scheme work. I offer a word of praise and congratulation to the graziers and other citizens who have made gifts of stud sheep and other stock to help ex-servicemen become established on the land. I offer a word of appreciation to the people in country districts who have joined enthusiastically in making the new settlers welcome in their communities.
I want to say a few words about New South Wales. Whilst a vigorous campaign has been launched against that State in respect of the number of people who have been placed on the land, let it be remembered that New South Wales placed more people on the land than any other State - and I am not now paying any regard to the number of ex-servicemen who received advances from the Rural Bank of New South Wales. Those advances were made quite outside the scope of the war service land settlement scheme, and the Rural Bank of New South Wales deserves the commendation of this Parliament and the people for what it has done in assisting ex-servicemen to become established on the land. I ask those people who are hasty in offering criticism rather than trying to put forward a point of view to the Parliament to pay regard to the activities of the Rural Bank of New South Wales. As regards the other States, I think that generally, as was pointed out by Mr. Yeo in his statement to the national conference of the returned servicemen’s league, they have done what their finances permitted them to do. It must be clear to all honorable members that so long as the Commonwealth controls the purse strings, it calls the tune with regard to the speed at which land settlement is developed in this country. We need to do a full job in land settlement. We should not be content to stop where we are at present. It would have been a great tragedy for this country if half-way through their obligations the servicemen had shirked their task in the way the Commonwealth Government now seeks to evade its responsibilities.
In conclusion, let us accept our responsibilities as Australians. Let us not repudiate promises solemnly made. Let us accept our obligations to our exservicemen and let us see that this scheme is continued until every eligible person has had the opportunity to play his useful part, following the occupation he has chosen, in the best interests of Australia.
.- First, I should like to correct an impression that was left by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), who cited the figures given by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) of the number of war service land settlers who have been settled on the land in each of the States. The honorable member gave the impression that the numbers given were the total numbers of soldier settlers who had been settled, but that is not correct. The Minister cited the number of farms provided under this scheme in each State. He said that in New South Wales there had been 3,036 and in Victoria, 2,994. I do not know whether the honorable member for Macquarie is aware that in Victoria, in addition to the number mentioned by the Minister, 3,047 ex-servicemen have been settled on the land in single-farm units. So, the total number settled in Victoria would be considerably more than the number mentioned by the honorable member. The honorable member said that many people were ready, willing and eager to go on the land and that the Commonwealth had a responsibility to carry on this scheme while one ex-serviceman was waiting to go on the land. T am afraid that I cannot agree entirely with that proposition.
The honorable member spoke of solemn pledges that were made to ex-servicemen that land would be found for them. I was not in politics in those days - T was not even in Australia for a period at that time - but I would be very surprised if any solemn pledge were made that every ex-serviceman would be granted a block of land. I am sure that if one looked at that proposition physically one would realize that it would be impossible to put it into effect. Why should people from the country be singled out whilst ex-servicemen from the cities receive no similar benefit? For example, should every ex-serviceman who came from a city have a right to be given a shop? If you extend the argument you might as well say that we should take over Myers, subdivide it, and give a little bit of Myers to every city ex-serviceman. Obviously there are limits to the amount of assistance that we can give to ex-servicemen. Although the war service land settlement scheme has had its imperfections, by and large it has been well run and has been a credit to every government associated with it. Surely it is far better to settle 10,000 exservicemen on the land and do it reasonably well than to rush in, as the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) said was done after the First World War, and settle ex-servicemen in places where they had no earthly hope of ever making good.
Some years ago, I saw a block of land which was termed a soldier settlement block after the First World War. It was not in my electorate; it was in the Riverina electorate. There Would be no land as poor as that in my electorate. It was a block of 800 acres in a very low rainfall area. I think the rainfall would average fifteen inches a year. It was windswept without any trees on it, except a couple which the soldier settler had planted. All the other trees had died. There was a heap of bones where his horses had died, and eventually he died too. Thank goodness after the Second World War we got away from that state of affairs! We attempted to get land which would give an adequate living and we had in the main a good scheme, although there were faults. I think my State of New South Wales had more faults than any of the other States in the administration of the war service land settlement scheme. However, we still got something for our money.
It is only natural that, when the war service land settlement scheme is closing - we hear the ringing of its death knell now - people should cast around and try to blame others for the mistakes, and say that there is a responsibility to settle more men on the land, that there are people still with qualification certificates, and that the Commonwealth should do more. This has been said particularly by the New South Wales government. It has tried to avoid its responsibility by saying that this is a repatriation measure and that it should be handled by the Commonwealth. What is the history of this scheme? We know that the State governments have the entire con stitutional right to deal with land settlement or with any problems concerning the land in the States. Under the Constitution, the Commonwealth Government has no right to dictate the terms of land settlement.
In 1945 and 1946, the then Prime Minister, who incidentally was the predecessor of the honorable member for Macquarie who has just resumed his seat, went to the various States and said, “ We realize that we have some responsibility here and that you have some responsibility. Which do you want? If you like, the Commonwealth will run war service land settlement in your State or if you wish you can run it. If we run it, you can act as our agent, and if you run it we will give you all the help we can to raise loans, but it must be understood that it is your constitutional responsibility and you must do it out of money that is available to you “. As a result, the three less populous States - South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania - decided to ask the Commonwealth to run war service land settlement and they became what is known as agent States. The other three States - Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland - became the three principal States, although Queensland did not go in for war service land settlement to any great extent. No one can blame us, as a Liberal government, for forcing the New South Wales government to decide in 1945 or 1946 that it would run war service land settlement itself. No pressure was brought to bear on it; an agreement was made between the Labour Federal government and the Labour State government. In actual fact, since then, the New South Wales government has never asked the Commonwealth Government to take over war service land settlement in that State. It has very often asked for money, but it has never said that the Commonwealth should take over the scheme. You cannot have your cake and eat it, but that is what the New South Wales government has been trying to do. It has been trying to get the kudos from running the scheme and at the same time has been trying to blame the Commonwealth Government for any imperfections in the scheme in that State.
Since this Government has been in office, it has done all that it possibly could to assist New South Wales, with the other States, to carry out the responsibilities for war service land settlement. We have enormously increased the amount of money available to the States. Since 1951, we have completely waived our right to 20 per cent, of the loan funds. That was done by this Government; it was never done by any other government. This has increased the loan funds available to the States. This year, it is estimated that the States will receive £220,000,000 in loan funds, and last year they had £210,000,000 between them. Obviously, there is ample scope for the States to divert some of that amount to war service land settlement. They have, in addition, enormous sums available to them under the tax reimbursement formula. In the last financial year, they received £205,000,000, of which no less than £30,500,000 was a special supplementary grant over and above the formula. Under the new agreement which has just been negotiated by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) they will have considerably more money available in this coming year. 1 think the amount available to the six States in tax reimbursement is estimated at £244,500.000. In other words, the increase is very close to £50,000,000. So the means are available to the States to carry on war service land settlement if they want to do so, and it is up to them to decide what they want to do.
The decision in New South Wales to suspend war service land settlement was entirely a decision of the State Cabinet. It did not approach the Federal Government; it went ahead and made that decision itself. In addition to the normal lean advances to New South Wales, we have also made special financial assistance available to supplement the amount that the State Government spends itself. I am pleased that the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) is in the chamber, because he as the responsible Minister introduced this scheme. He agreed to give £1 to the New South Wales Government for every £2 that it spent on war service land settlement. Later, the amount was increased to £1 for £1. Under this agreement, we have given many millions of pounds to the New South Wales Government. I think that last year the total was £1,100,000. In the current year New South Wales could have received much more, but did not because the small amount that it spent did not attract anything like the full matching amount that the Commonwealth Government was prepared to give. We have tried to give New South Wales every possible encouragement. The initial decision to run the scheme was the decision of the New South Wales Government, not of the Commonwealth Government. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) was a member of the Commonwealth Government at the time that that decision was made.
I think that one of the reasons why war service land settlement has not been as successful in New South Wales as it has been in other States is the lack of full understanding of land development and land settlement. The honorable member for Macquarie referred to the many people with qualification certificates who are still ready in New South Wales to go on the land. We know that there are 1 9,000 of them, but how many of them really deserve qualification certificates? I can give examples of people who had had no experience on the land but who were given qualification certificates. I know one person who had not been on the land for at least twenty years, who was quite unfitted to go on the land, and who went on to a block under a promotion scheme. As every one expected, after a short time he got into financial difficulties, and, of course, he has now gone off his block.
I think that one of the great difficulties in New South Wales has been that the authorities did not scrutinize the applicants carefully enough. This is probably the last time that I shall get a chance to advocate the scheme that I have advocated for the last ten years. No one. has ever listened to me, but I think it should be implemented. We should adopt the Victorian system and try to choose the most capable men for settlement instead of just putting those who apply into a ballot, just like a lottery. If you are lucky, you get a good man, and if you are unlucky, you get a bad settler. It has been said that every man should have a good block of land, but T think it is more important that every block should have a good man on it. In Victoria, every person who has applied is allotted so many points by the appropriate board. There is a sort of points system under which people with long and meritorious service overseas get many more points than do people who had not gone overseas. Ability on the land and ability as a citizen are taken into account, and an attempt is made to select those who are most able and capable, and who are generally most suited to settlement on the land. As a result, in the main, the Victorian system has proved very much more satisfactory than the New South Wales system has been.
In New South Wales, for example, arrears of payments by settlers total well over £1,000,000. I do not refer to the total debts that are owing, because, obviously, the debts are repaid over a long period. But settlers in New South Wales are overdue in the repayment of their debts to a total, I think, of £1,115,000. That is distributed among 3,000 settlers. Not all settlers have had to make any contribution towards the cost of their land, because some of them have leasehold land. Yet some have run into debt to an amount well over £6,000.
Three war service land settlement blocks were taken from the farm nearest to my property. Two of the settlers got into difficulties. One went bankrupt and the other very nearly became bankrupt. Both have had to go off their blocks. I put that down to the fact that there was not adequate supervision of the people admitted to the ballots. In addition, of course, it was quite absurd to issue 19,000 qualification certificates. What earthly hope would you have of settling 19,000 people on the land .in New South Wales alone? Let us say that it takes £1.0,000 to put one soldier settler on the land. I think that that would certainly be an understatement to-day, although there may have been a time when the -cost was lower. Suppose that you require 1,000 -acres for a soldier settler and you are able to get the land =for, say, £7 10s. an acre. The land would cost £7,500, and there would be another £2,500 for equipment. That is quite apart from housing loans and so on. If it takes £10,000 to put one settler on the land, it would take £190,000,000 to settle 19,000 persons. That scale of expenditure is obviously quite beyond the realms of possibility. So why was not more care given to the selection of people in New South Wales?
I have mentioned the Victorian system under which points are allotted for overseas service. In New South Wales, there have been very many cases in which people who did not volunteer to go to the war and who did not get outside Australia have gone on the land under what we call a war service land settlement scheme. I know of one case in which land was even taken from a man who had been decorated for bravery in the war and handed to an exserviceman who had not volunteered and who never went beyond Queensland. Yet we call this a war service land settlement scheme. Surely, in a scheme of this kind, the first thing to decide is who shall be helped first. For heaven’s sake, let us see that the people who really did the fighting are settled first. Then, if we want to carry on with the scheme as a closer settlement scheme, we can throw it open to other ex-servicemen or, as we should do now, to people who were too young to go to the war. But let us not muddle up a war service land settlement scheme with the settlement of people who were not soldiers.
There have been many difficulties in New South Wales other than those which I have already mentioned. I suppose that, in many respects, there is nothing to be gained by going over all this nowadays. To do so is more or less to cry over spilt milk, because the war service land settlement scheme is now winding up. But let .us realize the troubles that have occurred in the major State of New South Wales. There are many ex-servicemen settlers who are doing admirably in that State. What troubles there are have very largely been brought on by the New South Wales Lands Department. Only recently, in one of the towns in my electorate I was visited by some soldier settlers who had been put on farms on a particular block of land. They said that it should never have been taken for war service land settlement, and they pointed out that one of the four settlers on this area of land had been forced off his block because it had been under water for two out of the three years for which he had been on it. That land was not recommended by the local council for war service land settlement. When the council was asked what land it recommended for the scheme, it specially avoided recommending this block, because it knew what the land was like. Yet officials of the Lands Department looked at it and took it for the scheme. One settler has already gone off his block, and there is every possibility that unless a larger amount is allocated to the three remaining settlers they too will walk off. This is a tragedy.
– Where is this?
– It is in my electorate of Farrer, down near Corowa.
There have been other problems in New South Wales. The honorable member for Parkes touched on the problem of the confiscation of land. We know that, in the early stages of the scheme in New South Wales, there was considerable difficulty because the State Government insisted on paying far less for land which it forcibly resumed than the land would have brought on the open market. I do not think that there is ever any excuse for any government to confiscate property and pay anything but just terms for it. The Commonwealth Government, we know, cannot acquire land on anything but just terms. I know that it is sometimes difficult to decide what are just terms, but it is not difficult to see that many estates in New South Wales were taken at half what they would have brought if they had been put on the market at the time. So, naturally, many land-owners who were themselves ex-servicemen, and who wanted to see war service land settlement go ahead, resented their land being resumed at a token value compared to its true value.
There have been troubles in New South Wales over proclamations also. Enormous areas of land in that State were tied up for many years by blanket proclamations for war service land settlement. In my opinion, the New South Wales Government should never have taken more land than it could use in a reasonable period. If it had enough land for two or three years ahead, it could very quickly get more. Why tie up millions of acres of land? Once a proclamation was put over a property, the owner could not subdivide it, if he wanted to, and sell some of it. He could not even make it over to his children. This has completely stultified development in New South Wales, because many land-owners said, “ What is the use of my spending a great deal of money on superphosphate, the planting of clover or anything else when, so far as I know, my land may be taken to-morrow for war service land settlement? “ This has had a bad affect on the scheme in New South Wales. I think that the New South Wales authorities have adopted the wrong policy in not attempting to bring new land into production. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who, I understand, is to follow me in this debate, comes from Tasmania. In that State, great efforts have been made by the Commonwealth Government to open up forest land. I know that they have run into considerable difficulty. I know that in one area the cost will be very much more and the settlers fewer than was anticipated because there has been tremendous trouble first in getting rid of scrub, and then in dealing with regenerating scrub. But when that work is completed an area will be in production which was not in production before.
In New South Wales, on the other hand, the attitude has been to take producing land. Very often the most fertile, producing land has been taken and handed over to war service land settlement. I know that there have been cases to the contrary. There have been properties which were in a bad state and which needed to be taken over for development. I have in mind one property in my own district about which I have told the House before. You could sneak into one of the back paddocks, plant 1,000 acres of wheat, and then strip it without anybody knowing you had been there. That property, I am glad to say, has been taken over for a number of war service settlers and the production has increased enormously. But that has not been the general tendency. I feel that we have wasted a magnificent apportunity to improve the agricultural potential of New South Wales by means of war service land settlement.
There has been an insistence that land for this purpose should always he under a leasehold tenure in New South South Wales. In this case, New South Wales is the only State which is out of step. Perhaps the attitude of the Government of New South Wales is the same as that of the woman who was watching her boy march past in a line of troops and said, “All the other troops are out of step but little Willie”. But I believe that in this case New South Wales is the one out of step. Every other State has permitted the ex-serviceman to have the right to convert his land tenure to freehold. Some ex-servicemen may not be in a position, financially, to convert to freehold, but I think that they like to have that right. It gives them a far greater opportunity to borrow money from the banks for the development that is so necessary in land settlement.
I do not want to take up much more of the time of the House but I would like to mention one or two points which have been brought up in the debate. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) has complained about the South Australian system which results from a joint responsibility between the Commonwealth Government and the State Government. He said that you could not sheet home any failure to any one authority. I would certainly rather have the South Australian scheme under which you cannot sheet home the responsibility for failures, because there are no failures to sheet home, than the New South Wales scheme under which you can sheet home the responsibility for failures, but it does you no no good. There have been many failures in New South Wales and we know who was responsible for them. But what good does it do us? There it is, and we have to put up with it.
I speak of New South Wales because I am a resident of that State. We must realize that the responsibility for war service land settlement in New South Wales lies fairly and squarely on the State Government. The Commonwealth Government has given assistance by way of increased loans and special £l-for-£l grants in order to push forward war service land settlement as quickly as it can. The decision to give up war service land settlement in New South Wales was entirely a decision of the State Government. The Commonwealth Government was never consulted, nor had it power to prevent this. It has never been asked by New South Wales to take over war service land settlement. It has only been asked to hand out more and more money. As I have said, you cannot have your cake and eat it.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
.- The bill now before the Parliament, so far as it applies to the agent States of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, sounds the death knell of a great national project - the war service land settlement scheme. By this measure the Government kills a child of only fifteen years of age, a child which does not deserve to end its life at this stage of Australia’s history. The Opposition deplores the necessity for the bill. We can see no real, genuine or logical reason for the termination of a scheme that, in my opinion, is still in its infancy in very many respects. We believe that the large body of ex-service applicants for farms should be afforded a longer period and a greater opportunity to become farmers on our under-developed lands. But this measure will shorten the period and curtail their opportunity. The Commonwealth is walking out of the scheme. This year, about £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 will be advanced to the States to enable them to wind up the scheme during the next twelve months. The Commonwealth will then conveniently retreat from its financial obligation by saying, in effect, that any future schemes must be organized and run by the States, and probably paid for by the States.
It is a disgrace to the Parliament that we should have reached this stage. Surely the importance of utilizing all our available and suitable rural land is obvious to all who have any idea of the place occupied by rural production in our economy. The allocation of funds for this kind of development should be a continuing feature of our national policy because it is of the utmost importance to have our land utilized as quickly as possible by the best methods that are available.
Let me put the matter in this way: Rural production helps to keep people in the country areas; it fosters a healthier life; it aids decentralization of our population and opens fields of employment, not only in rural districts but also in the city areas, because the greater the number of farmers who can be settled on the land the greater the number of men who will be employed in the city in the industries that are engaged in the production of industrial and rural equipment. Settlement in the country areas checks the unhealthy growth of big cities. It strengthens our rural economy and enables further experimentation in a diversity of fields of rural production, thus giving the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization wider scope for its work. It also fills the wide open spaces that other nations view with envy when they look at our- vast continent, and it is a definite aid to the settlement of migrants, especially those with leanings towards rural life.
I speak with some knowledge of the subject, because I worked for years on a farm with my father, who was for 30 years a wheat-grower on a property near Nhill in the western Wimmera of Victoria. Therefore, I feel competent to stress the tremendous value of populating the country areas of Australia.
Let us consider another aspect of the matter. What is the key to successful land development? The answer may be summed up in one word - finance. The Commonwealth must continue to allocate funds to the States for rural development. But instead of doing this, the Commonwealth, when this legislation finally works itself out, will withhold about ?8,000,000 or ?9,000.000 a year that was previously allocated for land development. This money is needed for the development of country areas. No farmer can increase the productivity or the extent of his. farm without the aid of credit from his local bank. Finance is the key to the expansion of primary production, and. the settlement of our returned soldiers and civilians on the land.
The banks,, too, must play their part in this great fight, to keep our country areas populated, and. must make more credit available to farmers on easier terms than apply at present. In my own State of Tasmania we have the rural land department of the Agricultural Bank, which is doing a wonderful job, but it is shockingly limited by. lack of finance in the assistance that it can render the small farmers of Tasmania in their efforts to develop and expand their properties. State government agencies must have more funds to invest in farms. Small farmers in Australia are in financial leg irons. Many of them come to my office seeking’ assistance: They are not greedy, and do not ask for large sums of money.
They have said to me, “ If 1 could borrow only ?500 1 could open up another 40 or 50 acres of my property “, but the banks are so’ fussy about security and are so stingy where the small men are concerned, dotting every “ i “, that the small farmers are denied the assistance that they need.
The Government, through the Commonwealth Bank, should do a lot more to help these farmers to improve their properties. Of course, when I speak of small farmers I have in mind, as well, the soldier settlers, because none of them is in a big way. They have had a tremendous battle during the last two years, because of the drop in the price of primary products, to meet the interest payments on their mortgages. Finance is their life-blood, and if they cannot obtain it they might as well pack up. In fact, during the four years of depression that we experienced in Australia 20,000 farmers walked off their properties. It is absolutely necessary that credit be made available continuously to our farmers.
Every penny that has been spent to date on the soldier settlement scheme has been a marvellous investment in Australia’s future. What dividends will be reaped from the investment of ?80,000,000 of Commonwealth money in the war service land settlement scheme? First, there will be increased production. Secondly, there will be happy rural homes in areas where previously none existed. Thirdly, there will be a stronger economy, and fourthly, the ex-servicemen will, be rewarded, for their years of service overseas, and at least one of the promises that was made to them before they went overseas will be honoured. These are mighty big dividends, and they will be reaped through the years from the investment of ?80;000,000 of Commonwealth, money - taxpayers’ money - in this great national- project which is now coming to a close so far as the Commonwealth is concerned.
Mr. Yeo of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia summed up the league’s attitude during its conference only two months ago when he said that the league condemned the Government’s proposal to terminate this scheme. But the Government remains adamant in its decision that it will not continue to participate in the scheme.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) in his second-reading speech said -
Honorable members will recall that it was decided not to acquire any additional land for the scheme in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania after 30th June, 1959.
That writes “ finis “ to the story after only fifteen years.
I find one or two interesting points in the second-reading speech of the Minister for Primary Industry. The £80,000,000 which he says has been spent since the inception of the war service land settlement scheme represents an investment of only £5,700,000 a year. But what is Australia investing in Woomera? Not long ago the Black Knight rocket was sent up into the sky at a cost of £80,000,000 of English and Australian money. That lasted only a few seconds and what has resulted from the waste of that money on that rocket? Only a few figures in a book of statistics. We talk in millions when it comes to rocket research and hitting the moon, but here the Government is proposing to close down a great scheme which will have more permanent value in the world and particularly in Australia than all the money spent on rockets.
Where is our sense of proportion when war service land settlement becomes delegated as an affair of the States? Yet in ten years the Commonwealth ; has spent £1,700,000,000 on defence with hardly anything to show for it. That is my first point in reply to the Minister’s speech. He said -
While the number of classified ex-servicemen in each State is much higher than the number of allotted farms, many classified ex-servicemen have for some years shown little or no interest in applying for available farms. They have very probably entered other vocations or have acquired farms privately.
All honorable members, irrespective of party, know the answer to that question. These ex-service applicants have become sick and tired of waiting. They lodged their applications just after the war. Men who were 26 years of age then are aged 40 to-day. What man aged 40 would want to go on a farm with all its responsibilities?
– In New South Wales, 16,000 of them did it.
– That is all right; many of those settlers had their responsibility taken over by the Rural Bank of New
South Wales. That was an example of the wonderful willingness of that bank to help’ the farmers. Its action greatly reduced the number of ex-service settlers who had grown dissatisfied under the Commonwealth scheme. They received their help from the Rural Bank. But any one who looks at this question honestly soon understands why many ex-servicemen withdrew their applications. They could not go on waiting. They married and families came, and their lives were changed during those years of waiting. A man who was 30 years of age when the war ended is aged 45 to-day. Some might ask, “ Why should he walk out of the scheme and turn his back on it?” There can be no wonder that he does so after fifteen fruitless years of waiting. The Minister went on to say -
Projects in hand are expected to provide farms for those ex-servicemen still genuinely interested in the scheme in Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania.
That is not a true statement. There are many in Tasmania who will never be settled under the Commonwealth scheme. There are more than 100 names on our lists. That statement is not true so far as Tasmania is concerned. There will be many unsatisfied applicants even at this late hour of the scheme. Later, the Minister said -
With steadily rising costs over the period of development, part of the cost of these farms will most likely have to be written off to meet the requirements of the scheme.
The least the Commonwealth can do is to use some of the taxation revenue to cover the losses on ex-servicemen’s projects. As a taxpayer myself - although people outside think that honorable members are exempt from taxation - I should be happy to know that some of my tax contributions were applied to this purpose. These farms were highly capitalized, especially in the last five or six years. The only decent thing the Commonwealth can do is to wipe off some of the capital cost of these farms so that these men can have a reasonable chance of making a success of them. I agree with that part of the programme where the Government intends to wipe off some of the initial cost. The Minister said -
As an offset to the part of cost which will have to be written off on these farms the nation will have the benefit over the years to come of the production from land which, formerly, contributed little or nothing to our national wealth.
That is, of course, a true statement. A while ago I gave some details of the dividends which would come from this scheme in the years ahead. Looking at the scheme in a credit and debit fashion, I should say that on the credit side, over the fifteen years it has been in operation, much new land has been opened for settlement and development. In fact, according to the Minister’s own statement -
Apart from Te-establishing ex-servicemen, the war service land settlement scheme has played a major role in the agricultural development of the Commonwealth. From land that was previously entirely unproductive Western Australia is developing some 600,000 acres to provide 240 farms, Tasmania 160,000 acres for 366 farms and South Australia 250,000 acres for 172 farms.
That is a total of 1,010,000 acres which have been brought into development as a result of this scheme over the fifteen years. That is a magnificent achievement which would probably never have happened otherwise.
A second item on the credit side is that big estates have been brought into use. This is an important part of the scheme. Many of the big estates which were taken over would probably never have produced more than one-tenth of what they can produce. In my electorate, which is about half the area of Tasmania, there are some very large estates indeed, many of which have been cut up for development. The owners of other estates are doing a magnificent job and are rightly left to carry on. The result is that where there were only two men working on 12,000 acres, there are now five or six war service land settlement farms employing ten or twelve times as many men and producing about ten or twelve times as much in fat lambs, wool and dairy products. That is an illustration of the great advantage of cutting up large estates which have not been worked, but have been lying idle for years.
A third asset of the scheme is that new communities have been established in country districts. New roads and villages have been built, present towns expanded, and schools and hospitals erected to cater for the increased population in the war service land settlement areas. This is a wonderful contribution to the development of Australia.
The fourth point is that ex-servicemen have been given a chance in recognition of their war service. The fifth item on the credit side is that this scheme is a great improvement on the war service land settlement scheme which was devised after World War I. to which some of my colleagues have referred during this debate. By comparison with this scheme, the 1920- 22 scheme was a hit and miss affair indeed. Speculators sold inferior land to government agents after that war. I know, from personal experience in southern Gippsland, that thousands of acres covered with blackberry vines were sold to the government for war service land settlement. Although it was opened up it was not good land and the settlers did not get sufficient finance with which to fight the pests of those days, and they failed. In one area, called Fish Creek near Foster, in south Gippsland, 50 farmers were settled at Settler’s Road after World War I. By the end of 1934 only five had survived. There may be even fewer genuine ex-servicemen left there now.
The schemes that were launched after the First World War failed, in many cases, because they were hastily prepared. There was no continuing supply of finance for the men concerned. They received only haphazard assistance, and usually there was only a house on each property. No other buildings or fences were erected as the scheme now in operation provides. With the present scheme, the land selected is in a good area. Perhaps more money is paid for it, but it is first-class or second-class land. The settlers have gone on to their properties with homes, sheds, fences and roads all ready for them. This is a distinct improvement on the slipshod methods of the schemes initiated after the First World War. I sincerely hope that there will never be another war service land settlement scheme in this country. I hope, in other words, that all our wars have been fought, and that we will never have the need for another scheme of this kind.
On the debit side, I must offer some criticism on a number of aspects of the scheme. First, I believe that many unworked estates were by-passed. By various means the owners managed to keep their land. If it was known that the authorities were looking for land in the district for war service land settlement, the owners would commence ploughing busily close to the main highway, thus giving the impression of intense development. Many of the big men got away with it in this way, and those farms were by-passed. Secondly, I suggest that much delay and frustration were caused by the bureaucratic operation of the scheme. Thirdly, a tough valuation policy was followed. I offered this criticism last year when speaking on the war service land settlement legislation. In Tasmania we lost some very good land because of the stubborn Commonwealth valuer who would not compromise in any way with the farmer who was offering land for war service land settlement. Only £2,000 or £3,000 may have been involved, but the official would not compromise, and so we lost some very good land.
My fourth criticism is that in certain instances excessive rentals were charged. Fifthly, some farm units were too small. Attempts were made to crowd too many men into too small an area. Let me refer to King Island as an instance. I am sorry that my colleague, the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies), has been delayed this evening by plane trouble, because otherwise he would have been speaking on this bill. He has done a magnificent job in representing the electorate of Braddon and in assisting the men on King Island. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) knows the kind of work that my colleague has done. The Minister has been co-operative and has helped in every way to solve the remaining problems of the men on King Island.
I know the island personally, because my wife comes from there and I was on the island for two years before the war. Situated in Bass Strait, it is 60 miles long and 16 miles wide, and has a population of 2,000. It is one of the best dairying districts in the whole of Australia. About 140 dairy farms have been carved out of virgin scrub and waste land. When I was there I saw millions of trees that had been burnt in fires of previous years that had swept over this vast acreage. Now the timber has been cleared off and burned, and we have more than 140 very good farms in the area. But many of these properties are too small. If the price of dairy products falls below its present level these men will find themselves in grave trouble. If the dairying industry encounters a setback, the farms are not big enough for the alternative pursuits of fat lamb or fat cattle raising. There is a grave danger in making the units too small, because if the particular kind of farming for which they are designed becomes unecono-mie, they are then too small for diversified farming.
– There are many fat lamb properties there at the moment.
– Yes, but they are doing both - dairying and raising fat lambs. If the dairying gives out they are not big enough to make a profit out of fat lambs alone. This is one criticism that I make. Six years ago, when these men were placed on the farms, the prices of primary products were booming. They are not booming to-day, and these farmers may be in trouble in years to come.
Another criticism I make is one that has been made frequently: Not all applicants will receive farms. That is one of the most severe criticisms. The scheme could surely have continued for another two or three years, so that assistance could have been given to the agent States, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, to settle the remaining men on farms. What will happen to the men who want farms and cannot get them under the Commonwealth scheme? Well, the States are going to introduce schemes in order to try to take up the land.
The Reece Government in Tasmania deserves commendation for bringing down legislation, which is now in its preliminary stages, for the purpose of carrying on where the Commonwealth Government leaves off. It is initiating a big settlement scheme which will be available not only to exservicemen but also to civilians. It has one weakness, however. The State Minister informed me by letter last week that, as far as he knows, single-unit farms will not be included in the scheme. I consider this a very grave weakness. Many men have come to me for assistance to obtain singleunit farms. There will be group farms, of course, in my State. There is, for instance, the Waterhouse Estate, and there is the Montagu Swamp Estate which was mentioned by the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) before the suspension of the sitting this evening. It is a gigantic scheme, and a most ambitious one, which will bring a stretch of swamp land into production. Well, if Mussolini could turn vast areas of swamp land in Italy into agricultural country, surely we can do likewise in this country. That is what is being attempted at Montagu Swamp on Tasmania’s north-west coast. This project will be a great success when it is finally completed. I would suggest again, however, that single-unit farms should be included in the scheme with which Tasmania will follow up the Commonwealth scheme. In this way many men could receive assistance that they would otherwise be denied.
We still have many acres available in Tasmania that have not yet been developed for farming. I suppose the other two States that I have mentioned could say the same. I firmly believe that in the near future Australia will have to develop every acre that it has. Many people in other countries are looking hungrily at our open spaces. The Communist agrarian movement in China and Russia succeeds wherever there are land-hungry people. This movement has been launched in China on a vast scale. Men who were previously servants and vassals of landlords were hungry for land, and the Communists decided to give them land - their own land - to use and develop.
If we have vast areas of unproductive land in Australia we could find ourselves, in years to come, in a most unenviable position. Let us solve this problem now, while we still have time. It is for this reason that I suggest the scheme should continue. If the scheme is not to be continued in its present form, then I and other members of the Opposition make a plea for the Government to continue to provide finance for the States that are prepared to continue land settlement schemes. Time is running out for .this country, politically and ideologically, and unless we can do something to stem the tide that is approaching us, even in this practical sense of opening up our usable, workable and exploitable land, we may suffer drastic consequences. Now is the time to prevent such a situation developing.
I sincerely hope that there will be a change of government after the next election, so that we can get something done. It is the only hope for Australia. This Go vernment has become arrogant and easygoing. It has slowed down. Its ranks are divided. It is about time we made a clean sweep with a new government. I say, “ Do not take any notice of what happened in Great Britain “. That appears to cause honorable members opposite some amusement. I expected that it would bring a laugh, but let me say that in two years’ time we will have a great chance of turning this Government out.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to say a few words on this bill. I am not surprised that several members of the Australian Country Party have not spoken on the measure, and are interjecting as I start to speak. Although I represent a city electorate it might be said that I am as representative of the people on the land as are the collection of members belonging to the Australian Country Party in this House. I have not the time to do so to-night, and I would not be keeping within the scope of the measure if I did so, but I could easily prove what I say in a quick run-through of the occupations of those honorable members who form what they choose to call the Australian Country Party. I could show that very few of them, if any of them, are qualified to speak about land settlement, because very few of them are associated with the land.
For my part, I join in this debate as a son of the land, if I may put it that way, because, like the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), I was born in a country district. I come from a place called Currabubula. I was reared in the country at a time when an anti-Labour government was in control, when wheat was ls. 7d. per bushel and wool was lOd. per lb. and when 20,000 people walked off the land and had to seek employment opportunities elsewhere, entirely because of the failure of the Liberal Party Government of that time, or whatever name the Liberal Party was going under then. That government not only refused to give the soldier settlers a fair go, but also refused to give civilian settlers in those districts an opportunity to continue to live on the land.
Therefore, to-night it is with great regret that I witness the curtailment of the great war service land settlement scheme which was introduced by the Labour Government in 1945 when the war ended. That scheme gave ex-servicemen an opportunity to take up, not bad land, but excellent land, the best this country could give them. I- well remember a comparison of the scheme introduced by the Labour Government after World War II. with that introduced after World War I., which was often given in this house by the former honorable member for Wannon, Mr. McLeod. He rose constantly in this House to speak on measures of this kind. He told us how he was settled on the land - and settled in every way - by a tory government. He used to work out meticulously and clearly how much he had to. pay in principal and interest on his loan, and it is on record in “ Hansard “ that that soldier settler said that under the LiberalCountry Party Government’s scheme it would have taken him 150 years to pay off his farm.
So, I am not surprised that this Government is seeking to curtail a scheme under which less and less has been done each year to settle ex-servicemen since the Labour Government went out of office in 1949. From 1945 until Labour was defeated many ex-servicemen were given the opportunity to take up land under the scheme which is now about to be wound up by this Government. I am not surprised that those who represent the Australian Country Party here - or misrepresent it - and those who comprise the aristocracy in the cities, represented by the laughing Liberals of a few moments ago, do not want the great estates of this country cut up in order to provide land for ex-servicemen and others. They seek to have rich men who live abroad taking all the rewards derived from the primaryproducing areas. Those people are absentee landlords, and their representatives here do not desire to see ex-servicemen and others settled on the land.
The Cahill Government in New South Wales, which has been criticized in this House to some extent by the Minister, set a great example by giving ex-servicemen excellent land, and made it possible for many of them to become independent producers established on the land under the scheme instituted by a Labour Government in the Commonwealth. Those men were not put on bad land. They were put on the best land that could be procured for them. The reason why the Australian Country Party and the Minister criticize New South Wales in regard to this scheme is that the Cahill Government did not flinch about splitting up huge estates so as to make land available for exservicemen. Even in the face of the great onslaught directed against it by wealthy sections of the community, the Cahill Government took those areas, and put men on them to raise wool, wheat and dairy products. It thereby gave many men an opportunity to become independent in their own right under this great scheme introduced by a Labour government.
It is scandalous to think what this Menzies Government is doing to curtail this great scheme. It can find no money for land settlement of ex-servicemen, or even for land settlement of civilians, but it can find £80,000,000 for rockets. A fraction of that sum would give every exserviceman who wants land to-day the opportunity to acquire it.
In his second-reading speech the Minister said, as an excuse for terminating this scheme -
While the number of classified ex-servicemen in each State is much higher than the number allotted farms, many classified ex-servicemen have for some years shown little or no interest in applying for available farms. They have very probably entered other vocations or have acquired farms privately.
There is no doubt about many of them having entered other avocations. They could not wait for generations for this Government to give them farms which should have been provided for them under this legislation well within the period we are discussing.
If I may digress for a few moments, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like to mention that there are 22,000 people waiting for war service homes fifteen years after the end of the war. Intending war service land settlers were in the same position. They got sick and tired of waiting for this Government to make the money available for farms, so they had to go to other avocations. It might be said truthfully that in New South Wales the Rural Bank, under the Cahill Government, took up the slack which resulted from the lack of action on the part of this Menzies Government, and put men on the land. Thereby it took over the responsibility which should have been this Government’s, and gave those men an opportunity to take their places as producers.
This is a great country with huge untapped resources, with terrific primary producing areas not yet developed. There are thousands upon thousands of men and women seeking the opportunity to settle on the land and produce wool, wheat, butter, cheese, &c. But the Government has decided that the scheme must be curtailed because it has not the money with which to carry it on. Why has not the Government settled some ex-servicemen in the Northern Territory, for instance? I understand that there are over 500,000 square miles of land there which could be used, but not one soldier settlement is there in that vast area to support the Government’s claim that it is concerned to see exservicemen settled on the land. In New South Wales there are still many exservicemen who want to take up land, even at this time when values are high right throughout Australia. They are to be denied the right to settle because this Government claims that it cannot afford the expenditure that would be involved. I think that any organization, or any sector of our economy, which shows progress under this Government does so in spite of the Government.
It is interesting to note that in the Minister’s second-reading speech he said that up to 30th June, 1959, the number of farms provided in each State was: New South Wales 3,036; Victoria 2,994; South Australia 984; Western Australia 880; Tasmania 450 - a total of 8,344. This is what has happened even with ten years of a Liberal-Australian Country Party Government. Imagine the effectiveness of this scheme if the Labour government had been in office all that time! I venture to say that the number would have been trebled, because we believe in making money available for land settlement, particularly to exservicemen, in order that they may follow an avocation so necessary in this great primary producing country. Why is it that parties which claim to have so many exservicemen in their ranks, as the parties opposite do, oppose in this Parliament every measure that can benefit ex-servicemen in any way? Why do we constantly see honorable members opposite, themselves exservicemen who fought for this country, who come in here and tell us all that should be done for ex-servicemen, refusing to vote for any measure which would bring beneficial results to ex-servicemen? Why do they constantly ignore the opinion of returned soldiers’ organizations in regard to measures like this? Mr. Yeo, State president for a record term of the returned soldiers’ organization, has condemned this Government’s land settlement proposals in no uncertain terms. Yet to-day the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton), who boasts of being a friend of exservicemen, said that he was delighted to see this scheme coming to an end. That is sheer downright hypocrisy. Government supporters speak of what they will do for the ex-servicemen, and then curtail in every way possible measures which will give security and independence to the exservicemen, which is their right and one of the things for which they fought.
I join with other honorable members on this side of the House in criticizing this measure. I will be interested to hear what the honorable member for Mallee Mr. Turnbull) has to say about this measure when I resume my seat. He forwent his turn in this debate because he was not game to speak before me. He knew that I would tear him to ribbons. 1 do not want to hear him quoting from “ Hansard “ to show what he did in the past. He sat down to-night and would not speak ahead of me because he knew that I would refer to any mis-statements that he made in his speech.
I do not wish to say much more about this measure. Members of the Australian Country Party respond to that remark with cries of “ Hear, hear! “ It is interesting how they wake up every so often. It is nice to know that they are listening. You would never know that they were listening if you were to judge from their comments in this debate. It is useless for members of the Country Party to tell the people that they believe in land settlement and expansion and development of primary industries, or to talk about what is required in country districts. It is useless for them to claim that they have the interests of exservicemen at heart, because to-night they are parties to a bill which is curtailing in every way not only the development of our great primary industries but also the welfare of ex-servicemen and women throughout this land. We have a Minister for Primary Industry who is a member of the Country Party. It is a bit rare to see a Country Party member in charge of the Department of Primary Industry. I did not know that there was anybody in the party qualified to take charge of that department. It is rare to see. At the same time, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) cannot be proud of his colleagues in the Country Party who are parties to this measure, who defend the Government’s proposals knowing that they are a betrayal of the ex-service men and women.
It is regrettable that members of Parliament who sincerely believe in the welfare of ex-service men and women and who want to see a prosperous and developing Australia, should be forced to witness a government, which claims as its slogan “ Australia Unlimited “, has a Budget of £1,186,000,000 and is able to spend £80,000,000 on rockets and £200,000,000 on defence, refusing to make available a few more miserable millions of pounds in order to settle ex-service men and women on the land which is their right. I wonder what honorable members opposite will say when they attend meetings of returned servicemen’s organizations. What will be their excuses for their failure to support measures that mean so much to the soldier settlers? I suppose that if they are asked embarrassing questions they will ask for notice of them. It would be interesting to compare their comments to the various branches of returned servicemen’s organizations, particularly in country districts, with their comments here in support of this measure.
I cannot speak too strongly of the way the great scheme introduced by a Labour Government has been shelved and whittled down; how benefits have been taken from the ex-servicemen and how this Government has refused to give effect to the real purpose of the scheme. I note that in his speech - one of his best because it only occupied a few pages - the Minister for Primary Industry said -
Financial assistance to all States for non-capital expenditure - for example, living allowance to settlers, interest and rent remissions, writing down the cost of holdings, &c. - which is estimated at £2,000,000 for the present financial year, will be met by the Commonwealth from Consolidated Revenue.
I wonder whether there would have been living allowances to settlers, interest and rent remissions, writing down of the cost of holdings and matters of that nature if a Labour government had not written these things into legislation in days gone by. I wonder if these things applied when a friend of mine was put on a farm which would take him 150 years to pay off. This Government is 100 years behind the times. It believes in the retention of land by wealthy land-holders. I would prefer to see a courageous government speaking for exservicemen in the real sense of the word, and providing money to split up huge estates, making them available to exservicemen not only in order to develop this country but also in order that the ex-servicemen may prosper. The measure deserves condemnation and I join with those who to-night, in sorrow and anger, have criticized to the full the incapacity and incompetence of this Government and its gross betrayal of the ex-servicemen of this country.
.- There is no doubt that the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) was afraid that I might follow him in this debate. He said that I was waiting to speak after him in order to criticize him rather than give him the opportunity to speak after me and criticize what I said. It is no wonder that he takes that attitude because on at least two occasions recently - probably three - I have been able to point out to the Parliament ways in which the honorable member has misled the Parliament. He has made statements that have been absolutely untrue and I have had to correct them by quoting from “ Hansard “. The honorable member for Grayndler said that he hoped I would not: quote from “ Hansard “ to-night in order to prove him wrong. I do not propose to do so. It is quite unnecessary, because he has said things to-night that I can show to be incorrect without referring to “Hansard “. The honorable member for Grayndler is considered to be more or less a comedian in this House. He is taken for granted as such. Nobody takes him very seriously, but a man who is not taken seriously in this House can, when heard on the radio, prove to be very dangerous if people are not acquainted with what has gone on in this House.
Let me refer to one or two points in the honorable member’s speech. This afternoon the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) spoke. The honorable member for Grayndler said that the honorable member for Canning had stated that he was delighted to see that the scheme was coming to an end. The honorable member for Canning did not say that at all, and I chai,lenge any one in this House to find those Words in “ Hansard “. The honorable member for Grayndler also referred to a former member of this House, Mr. McLeod, who was the honorable member for Wannon. The honorable member for Grayndler said that under this scheme ex-servicemen of the First World War were put on to the poorest of land. Mr. McLeod was put on a property near Coleraine, which was portion of Gringegalona. I am a native of Coleraine and I know the property. During the course of .one of his last speeches in this House, when he was speaking in a strain similar to that used by the honorable member for Grayndler regarding soldier settlement, I asked Mr. McLeod if he would take £40,000 for his property and he remained silent. The fact is that he is now in the Tanks of those whom, the honorable member for Grayndler calls big squatters but we should know that the big squatter is extinct. He is one of the men with money.
Every.body knows that Mr. McLeod is one of the men who is, as the boys say, in the money; he is a wealthy man to-day in that part of western Victoria that has been favoured by prolific seasons. That is an area where a lot of our good wool comes from. I would not deny Mr. McLeod any of his success because he has been diligent in his work and is a good husbandman on his property. He has built up a good property and is ‘doing very well. But for the honorable member for Grayndler to say that ex-servicemen of the First World War were put on poor land, and -to instance the case of the former member for Wannon borders on the ridiculous. The honorable member for Grayndler says that he is a man of .the land. He claims to have been born in some place the name of which I cannot pronounce. One of the worst things happening in Australia to-day is .that men who were born and bred on the land, in country conditions, are drifting to the city, as the honorable member for Grayndler has. The question is: Where does he live now?
– Where do you live?
– I live at a town named Boort, 168 miles from Melbourne. The honorable member for Grayndler lives in metropolitan Sydney; despite his training on the land, he did not stay there for long. He said that ex-servicemen should go to the Northern Territory. I have not noticed him heading that way. He prefers to ‘Stay with television and the bright lights in metropolitan Sydney. But this does not stop him from coming here and setting himself up as a man who can dictate what policy should be followed with primary production. I think that we should reveal him for what he is. I could perhaps use a word that he used -in describing me during a previous debate, but I am above that level.
The honorable member went on to say that if Labour had been in office during the past nine years, the man on the land would have been given a wonderful deal. He said, “ We would have acquired the properties of the squatters and put returned servicemen on them “. This same principle was stated in a much more moderate way by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), but, of course, there is nothing moderate about the honorable member for Grayndler. He said that Labour would have acquired this land. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said something very true to-day when he said that we have had debates on land settlement year after year. That is why I hesitated to speak until I had heard what the honorable member for Grayndler had to say. I thought something new might be introduced. After all, if one wants to mislead the Parliament, .one can always bring in something new. But the honorable member for Lalor told the same old story. That does not matter because, after all, he is pleasant to listen to. I will say this: The honorable member for Lalor is fair.
He said that if Labour had been in office land would have been acquired and exservicemen put on it. On a previous occasion when this subject was being debated.
I pointed out that in New South Wales the government might acquire a property for, say, £8 an acre. A neighbouring property would not be acquired because it was not as good, but the owner could sell it on the open market for £10 or £12 an acre. Yet the only price available to the owner of the acquired land was £8 an acre! We believe that if land is to be acquired it should be acquired on just terms, but the Labour Party advocates that land should be taken irrespective of whether the price is fair or not, and given to ex-servicemen.
That is a complete negation of all that the ex-servicemen fought for. The exservicemen fought for a fair deal, and if they were to take land under these conditions, they would be doing the very opposite of what they fought for. Therefore, I cannot support the contention of the honorable member for Grayndler. I do not care whether the land is for ex-servicemen or for other people; those who own it must get a fair deal. After all, is not the man who has an hotel in Sydney, or sells cars in Melbourne, or is in business in Perth also responsible for the settling of ex-servicemen on the land? Why should the man with a farm have his land taken from him at less than the market price so that it can be given to ex-servicemen? Why should not a fair price be paid? But a fair deal like that will not be given by members such as the honorable member for Grayndler. Now that they say this scheme is coming to an end, they speak about what the serviceman was told he would be given when he returned to this country. I know all these stories; I had six years in the Australian Imperial Force. I know what happened then and what is happening now, and I know from past experience and present knowledge what would happen to these men and to Australia generally if Labour had continued in office.
I listen to the “ Labour Hour “ which is broadcast in Victoria. A fortnight ago, the speaker was a Mr. Harold Speed, who is a lecturer at the Labour College. He said that it was fortunate that Labour was not returned to office at the last election because it could not possibly run the country with its policy inside a capitalist system. He also said that Labour has to decide that it cannot run the country in that way and that if it is returned to power it will have to introduce complete socialism. I am a regu lar listener to that session because speakers on it are much bolder than are Labour members speaking in this Parliament. There is the story of a man who was to give a lecture on New Guinea. He asked the audience three times whether any one had been to New Guinea. When no one answered, he finally said, “ As no one has been to New Guinea, I can speak with freedom “. When honorable members speak in this House, every one knows something of the subject and they must be very careful. Only a few throw discretion to the wind; one of them is the honorable member for Grayndler who does not care whether he is regarded as a fair man or not.
– You are not being very fair.
– How can I be fair to a man who, when I had to go out of the House for a few minutes recently, drew attention in his remarks, which were broadcast, to the fact that I was out of the chamber. There are occasions, Mr. Speaker, when honorable members have to leave the chamber, and that was one of them. I can match my attendance in this chamber with that of any other honorable member of this Parliament. Yet a man who is known as “ Dilly-dally Daly “, because when he leaves this country he stays abroad for lengthy periods, will point out to the people of Australia that I am not present when I have merely left the chamber for a short period. I cannot comprehend his attitude, particularly when he now interjects that I am not fair.
The war service land settlement scheme has generally been most successful. I compliment the Soldier Settlement Commission in Victoria. The chairman, Mr. Simpson, has a property in my electorate and he is a man with a great knowledge of the land. He has applied that knowledge to soldier settlement in Victoria in the interests of ex-servicemen, and the scheme has been a wonderful success. One of the commissioners is an uncle of our esteemed member for Wimmera (Mr. King), and he also has applied his experience to the benefit of ex-servicemen. The other commissioner also is a man with wide experience of conditions on the land. The Victoria”, scheme has been most successful and, although soldier settlement may cease there, a scheme for civilian settlement will continue.
– The honorable member tor Grayndler has left the chamber.
– I would not sink so low as to mention that he has gone out. I believe that ex-servicemen should be given first preference in this civilian scheme. The soldiers who have settled on the land, generally speaking, have been most successful. I am proud of the settlement or returned men from the 1914-18 war in my electorate in what is called Sunraysia, which comprises Mildura, Irymple, Red Cliffs, and Merbein. This is considered to be the most successful soldier settlement scheme in Australia. Many ex-servicemen of the First World War are still there and members of their families have also taken blocks in the area. Soldier settlements have also been established in other places in my electorate such as Robinvale, where e*.servicemen from the 1939-45 war have been successfully settled. Soldier settlement has been successfully carried on in many parts of Australia.
In speaking to this bill, the honorable member for Grayndler and other Opposition members have said that just a few miserable millions are being voted. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) told us, in his second-reading speech, that the amount being voted is £7,000,000 and that a further £3,860,000 is expected to be spent. An amount of £10,860,000 is not inconsiderable. Opposition members have said that this bill should be condemned. I shall watch closely to see how many of them vote against it when the vote comes. If it is really wrong, they ought to vote against it. All Labour members will vote for it, and by so doing they will be acting in the best interests of Australia.
Mr. THOMPSON (Port Adelaide) [9.01. Mr. Deputy Speaker, it has been very interesting this evening to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) about this bill. I happen to know a little about the origins of the war service land settlement scheme, which was initiated by the Commonwealth and the States. I remember the South Australian Parliament, of which I was a member at the time, dealing very thoroughly with a measure relating to this scheme in the middle 1940’s when the scheme came into operation and when South Australia became an agent State.
I have been rather surprised by what I have heard from Government supporters in this debate. They do not say it straight out, but they give me the impression that they are quite satisfied that enough has been done to settle ex-servicemen on the land and that the soldier settlement scheme can now go by the board. This indicates to me, not that they do not want to help ex-servicemen, but that they think that the scheme is an illustration of what the Australian Labour Party stands for in the way of socialization. The honorable member for Mallee has told us what a success the scheme has been. If it has been a success, why end it? Why discontinue it and stop giving preference to returned soldiers? I have found, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that, under the administration of this Government, the old idea of preference to returned servicemen is taking a back seat. This is so not only in respect of land settlement but also in respect of other matters. This Government and its supporters are not doing what they were formerly so prone to say that the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party wanted to do and that the Australian Labour Party did not want to do.
I was sorry, Sir, to hear the remarks made this evening by the honorable member for Mallee about Mr. McLeod, the previous member for Wannon.
– What did I say against him?
– The honorable member said that Mr. McLeod had joined the band of wealthy squatters - that he was a man of money. I should like to say, here and now, that Mr. McLeod went on to the land and worked hard to build up his property under the harsh conditions imposed by Liberal governments. He had a most terrible time. The honorable member for Mallee stated that Mr. McLeod, when he was a member of this House, said many of the things which the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has said this evening and for which the honorable member for Mallee has condemned the honorable member for Grayndler. If the honorable member for Mallee thinks that he does honour and gives credit to the former member for Wannon by accusing him of saying the things that he condemns the honorable member for Grayndler for having said, I cannot follow his reasoning. If ever we have seen here a returned soldier who went on to the land and battled manfully against the greatest of odds under the most harsh conditions, it was the former member for Wannon.
– I said that.
– The insinuation behind what the honorable member has said about Mr. McLeod this evening is that he is out of politics now, not because he was defeated, but because he is a wealthy man and could afford to withdraw from politics.
– And he is a wealthy man.
– The honorable member knows more than I do if he knows that Mr. McLeod is a wealthy man, because I do not know whether he is. However, I do know that he is a very honorable man, and that, when he was a member of this House, he fought for returned soldiers better than any member of the Australian Country Party or the Liberal Party has fought for them to-day. He did not want to profit himself in this place because he was a returned soldier. He endeavoured, when he was a member of this House, to make things better for other returned servicemen.
I have had experience of going on to the land and of what Liberal governments do about land settlement. The honorable member for Mallee has just said that there is a big land settlement scheme in Victoria. What have we seen in past years in connexion with land settlement schemes? I recall that, in South Australia years ago, a Labour government introduced a measure which provided that land could be resumed at 10 per cent, above the valuation at which the land-owner had acquired it. The South Australian Legislative Council, which was composed mainly of representatives of big business and landed interests, turned the measure down flat. Yet the honorable member for Mallee says this evening that he wants to see fair and reasonable prices paid for land. If there is one scandal in Australia, it is to be seen in relation to land. We know how governments, irrespective of their political colour, have fallen down in this field. I had a case brought to me a few weeks ago in which a grazing property which it was said would carry one and a half sheep to the acre brought £40 an acre. I should not like to put a returned soldier on land at that price and under those conditions. But this is what is happening to-day, Sir, under this scheme, which has been carried out not only by Labour governments. The New South Wales Government has been condemned because it resumed big areas of land in that State at prices based on prices in a certain year. It is a great pity that we do not see that to-day.
– That sort of thing is dishonest.
– It is very dishonest to put on land a value that includes an increment which the owner had done nothing to earn. This is the difference between our outlook and that of Government supporters, who believe that a man is justified in buying 100 acres of land within a few miles of a city at, say, £50 or £100 an acre, and then cutting it up and selling it in residential blocks for homebuilding at £1,000 or £1,500 a block.
– Where has this happened?
– The honorable member need only pick up a newspaper to see that this sort of thing is happening all over the place. Perhaps I have not quoted exact prices, but the illustration is sound.
– Where is this sort of thing happening?
– In the metropolitan areas of all the great cities. The prices of blocks of land for home-building are very high. In South Australia, it now costs as much for a block of land within a few miles of Adelaide as it used to cost, 30 years ago, for the land and the house. What has made prices rise to this level, Mr. Deputy Speaker? The fact is that we have allowed our lands to get out of control. Government supporters say that they believe in private enterprise and that they do not believe in government control of these things. They condemn the Australian Labour Party because it would put a reasonable price on land. We who belong to the Labour Party are prepared to put a reasonable price on land.
– At 1942 values.
– The 1942 value is not the price that one would put on land to-.day, and the Minister knows it.
– What price would the honorable member put on it?
– We would put a proper value on land. Government supporters base their criticism of the payment of 1942 values on the period in 1948 and 1949 when the New South Wales Government acquired land and put many exservicemen on it. We know that prices have increased greatly since. We all know of the decline in the value of money. If land was worth £5 an acre in 1942, it would be worth £15 an acre to-day, because the value of money has been written down so greatly in Australia. We know that, and that is why it is difficult for me to say what price I would put on land to-day when I am asked to name a figure. I would put a proper price on it and not an inflated price such as we so frequently see to-day. I can understand Government supporters, and especially members of the Australian Country Party, being a little faint-hearted about going on with the war service land settlement scheme if they think of resuming land for the settlement of returned servicemen at the prices asked to-day. If those prices are paid, God help the farmer when he strikes bad times due to poor seasons or declining prices.
The honorable member for Mallee spoke of people who had made a lot of money out of orchards and vineyards in his district. Of the soldiers who went on to the land in the northern part of my State of South Australia after the 1914-18 war, not one in twenty was able to remain. The others lost everything that they put into their properties. They lost their gratuities and their advances. What has happened since then to the people who have bought privately at big prices by paying 20 per cent, in cash and mortgaging their property? In a bad year, when prices have gone down, people in this position have had to walk off the land. The original owner has got it back and kept the 20 per cent, of the purchase price as well. We know that this is so from actual experience.
I would not have spoken on this subject had not the honorable member for Mallee made his statement about socialism and said that if the Labour Party were in office it would not have been able to carry on the government of the country. We know differently from that. We know that Labour governments, whether State or Federal, have been all to the glory of the nation. The honorable member spoke about New South Wales. There is a Liberal Party and an Australian Country Party in that State. A general election was held there a few months ago at which the members of those parties said that they would clean up the Labour Party because of what the Labour Government had done. They claimed that the Government had started various projects and had not finished them. They alleged that the Labour Government was wasting people’s money.
The people of New South Wales, however, were guided by their own experience of Labour administration and the result of the general election is known. Mr. Cahill went back into office with a bigger majority than before. The members of the Australian Country Party in the New South Wales Parliament cannot agree among themselves. They fight over their leadership. The members of the Liberal Party cannot agree amongst themselves. They, too, fight over their leadership. These are the kinds of people who are trying to tell the people of Australia that the Labour Party cannot run the country and that they are the only ones who can run it! In the leading State of Australia, New South Wales, the people have decided to keep the Labour Government.
– Tell us what happened in England.
– I will tell you what happened in England. There was a general election in England and the Conservative Party got a big majority. But the Liberal Party in England, which I suppose would compare with the little section of this House comprising the Country Party, got about 5 seats out of 400 or 500.
– What about the record here?
– It is true that you have a bigger majority now than you had, but-
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member for Port Adelaide concentrate on the bill and not take notice of interjections;
– I regret that I got away from the subject. I thought 1 was engaged in one of those television shows - question and answer - and 1 was just answering the questions. I will admit that I was carried away a bit but the honorable member for Mallee wanted to know what happened. His party is trying to run down the Labour Party as a socialist party. 1 am proud to be a member of the Labour Party. I am proud of our policy. Whilst 1 believe in respecting the rights of private individuals and of private business, I think that the greatest thing in this country is not the big factory or the big farm but the little people who live here. Whatever “ism” is propounded, whether it be socialism, conservatism, liberalism or any other, if it will do something for the people I am for it.
The honorable member for Mallee wanted to know whether the Labour Party would vote against this bill. I will vote for it. I am not condemning it. I am condemning the Government because the bill does not do as much as I would like it to do. But if we cannot give people the best of everything I believe that we should give them the best that we possibly can. In any case, the Government has a sufficient majority to carry whatever legislation it chooses. The supporters of the Government have to accept that responsibility. But they should not pretend that they have done everything for the returned servicemen that they said that they would do and that the time has come to stop doing things for them.
As the honorable member for Mallee said, there is a big land settlement scheme in Victoria. I do not know whether it is a private scheme or a government scheme but I understand that it does not give preference to returned soldiers. The honorable member said that he hoped that preference would be given to returned soldiers. My experience indicates that it is not the returned serviceman who will get preference in that land settlement scheme but the man with the big money.
– That does not come into it.
– It is a land settlement scheme. The allocation of the land does not depend on the amount of money that is put into it.
– That shows that you cannot be consistent on your side. You want private enterprise to get as much as it can but, on the other hand, you want to have a little bit of socialism in the form of a land settlement scheme.
– There is a ballot for the land.
– Whether there is a ballot or not, you are adopting socialism in giving that land to people at a certain price.
– - They will pay for it.
– It would be paid for under socialism but it would be paid for at .the correct value, not an inflated value as your party believes in doing.
I have now spoken on the two matters on which I wanted’ to speak. One concerned the previous honorable member for Wannon. I wanted to remove any doubt about what I and other members felt about that man and his work. The other matter was the failure of Government supporters to fight, tooth and nail, to give returned men the things to which they were entitled. I know that some of the men who have applied for war service land settlement blocks would be square pegs in round holes. But a jolly lot of them who have studied and qualified would be round pegs in round holes and they are not to be given an opportunity to go on the land. The Opposition has endeavoured to show the people that we want to continue to help these men. I hope that Government supporters will realize that there is now a limited amount of time in which the returned man can continue to get the preference to which he is entitled.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honorable member claim that he has been misrepresented?
– Yes. I claim to have been misrepresented by my friend, the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) in connexion with my remarks concerning the former member for Wannon, Mr. McLeod. Let me recount what I said. I said that Mr. McLeod had taken up land at a place called Gringegalgona. I referred to the honorable member for Grayndler who had said that it was all poor land. I said that Gringe, as it is called, was a good property and that the then honorable member for Wannon had been successful on it. To use the term that the boys use, I said that he was “ in the money “. I said also that Mr. McLeod had worked hard on his property and has worked it in a husbandlike way, thereby contributing to his success. I have been misrepresented to the extent that it may be thought, from what the honorable member for Port Adelade has said, that I had spoken of Mr. McLeod in a derogatory way. As every member in this House knows, I did not do that. I heard the honorable member for Port Adelaide say a moment ago that he would apologize if he had misrepresented me. Well, let him rise to his feet now.
– If I have misrepresented the honorable member for Mallee, I sincerely apologize. But even now, after he has made his personal explanation, I do not know just what he means.
– in reply - I appreciate the moderate tone in which the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) spoke on behalf of the Opposition and assured its support of this measure. I appreciate also the remarks of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) who made a suggestion with which I shall try to deal directly. However, I cannot appreciate the attitude of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) who condemned the measure, and I challenge him now, if he has any conscience, to vote against it. He said, quite wrongly, that the scheme was coming to an end. It is not. As the honorable member for Lalor knows, and has stated, the measure before the House provides £7,000,000 of loan moneys for the war service land settlement scheme to continue during the next twelve months.
I agree with the honorable member for Lalor in his reference to the increased values of the farms, but I think that he knows, and it is not in dispute, that the scheme provides that settlers who obtain land are not unduly penalized as a consequence. The excess is written off so that no settler is asked to bear a financial burden greater than he reasonably can carry. The scheme is guaranteed by the Commonwealth and the States and the settler’s commitment will not become greater than he reasonably can bear.
The honorable member for Lalor mentioned the matter of accountancy. Like the honorable member, I was on the land prior to entering Parliament. The answer to his question is that legislation such as that now before us is introduced from year to year to provide for loan raising. If sufficient loan money is not forthcoming, treasury-bills are used to fill the gap. I do not say that this has been done specifically to meet the requirements of the scheme, but last year we budgeted for a deficit. That is the only illustration that 1 shall give in answer to the honorable member.
The honorable member for Parkes and another honorable member suggested that we are at fault, or that we have failed, in not settling ex-servicemen in the Northern Territory. The reply to that suggestion must be evident to every honorable member because it means in effect that we would be experimenting in the development of the Northern Territory by allotting farms to ex-servicemen. The policy of this Government and, I think, of all governments that previously have been in office, is not to experiment with ex-servicemen. They deserve something better than to bs regarded as guinea pigs in any scheme such as this. After all, we must recognize that there is more involved than just settling exservicemen on the land. The very practical speech of the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) brought out that point. We have to consider the availability of markets for their produce and of transport. What is the good of settling exservicemen in the middle of the Northern Territory where there are no satisfactory roads, and no possibility of marketing the produce? In addition, there is no proof that the soils are suitable for the particular kind of crops that the farmer might wish to grow there.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) and the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) made the same mistake. The honorable member for Barker asked whether the Government would consider the plight of any exserviceman who might find himself in difficulties because of the inadequacy of the land, and so on. We do not have a static mind on a subject such as that. Our mind is flexible, as is evidenced by the attitude that 1 have adopted in relation to the settlers on King Island. 1 have asked that an investigation be made to ascertain whether they all have been satisfactorily settled, whether their farms have been adequately developed and whether there is anything that we can do to meet their particular circumstances. 1 repeat to the honorable member that we have a flexible mind on these matters. If it can be proved that in an odd case a settler, who otherwise would fail, could make good if he were given an additional piece of land, and that land is available, we approach that settler’s problems with an open mind and try to assist him.
So many statements have been made that have been so far off the beam that I shall not follow them along their various ways. Many of the statements have no bearing on the bill. I should like to refresh the minds of honorable members as to the actual position. I shall not go back into history or deal with the war service land settlement scheme that was in operation after the First World War. Time will not allow it, nor do I think that it has any particular bearing on the present-day position. Let us all hope that we have learnt lessons from the experiences of the past.
I have been accused by some honorable members of having attacked the Government of New South Wales but I do not think that any attack on that State can be read into my second-reading speech. Let me deal with the origin of this matter. When the Prime Minister of the day discussed the scheme with the State Premiers, the then Premier of New South Wales was adamant that the responsibilities of the Commonwealth should be restricted to repatriation benefits which he denned as providing training for ex-servicemen, paying living allowances to them, and sharing with the State concerned any losses that might be incurred under the scheme. For its part, the State should provide the necessary capital moneys to settle the exservicemen on the land. The Premier went on to say that if ex-servicemen were not settled on the land then some one else, possibly migrants, would be, and in those circumstances the State would have to carry the full cost of settlement. The Premier stated also that New South Wales would participate in war service land settlement only as a principal in the true sense of the word. Victoria and Queensland supported New South Wales in its attitude. The Commonwealth accepted the position and the respective financial responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the three States to which I have referred were defined in the war service land settlement agreement which later was ratified by the Government and the respective State Parliaments.
In order to show the respective positions, I may say that the Commonwealth’s financial responsibilities were confined to the training of ex-servicemen, payment of living allowances, sharing with the States any losses of revenue during the first twelve months the farm was occupied by the settler - known as the “ assistance period “ - and the sharing equally of losses which would have to be written off the cost of acquiring and developing land so as to reduce the capitalization to a level which would permit reasonable prospects for success to a settler possessing no capital. The Commonwealth also shares with the State any advances to settlers which may have to be written off for any reason. In view of the comparative financial weakness of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, those States became what are known as agent States, the Commonwealth providing all the necessary finance and the States’ contributions being limited to 40 per cent, of any amount which may have to be written off the cost of acquiring and developing farms.
I need to say only one thing more. So far as the agent States are concerned, the Commonwealth gave ample notice of Its intention, which was confined to no further acquisition of land as from 30th June of this year. But all lands already acquired, or that have been approved though not necessarily yet acquired, are available for development and settling of any soldier settlers who have not, as yet, received a block. In Western Australia there is more than enough land available to meet the requirements of ex-service applicants on the books. That applies to Tasmania also, in spite of what the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) said. There is ample land acquired or approved of to cater for all approved ex-service applicants in that State. But that condition does not apply in full to the State of South Australia. That is only because there has been not sufficient land, or sufficient satisfactory land, approved by the Director of War Service Land Settlement, available to meet requirements there. I agree with the interjection by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) that, after all, land has to be satisfactory for settlement before the director should accept it on behalf of the settlers.
– Do you still take into consideration the productive value of the land?
– That is taken into consideration in every instance. The production capacity of the block which the settler is to receive is taken into consideration in full. No settler is asked to accept any block if, in the opinion of the Director of War Service Land Settlement, the settler has not a chance of making a livelihood thereon. That applies also to the three agent States; so the Commonwealth has not defaulted. Honorable members opposite have talked about the end of the scheme but I say that this proposal, in effect, is the fulfilment of an obligation to the three agent States.
Now let us look at the principal States. Queensland ‘did not go on with the scheme. I had never agreed with some of the actions of the former Government in that State. I hate to go back into history, but it is a fact that some of the land which the Queensland Government was actually resuming was land on which ex-servicemen from World War I. had been settled. They had been given blocks which were classed as “ living areas “, but the Government resumed them and subdivided them. The acquisition was made at 1942 values, and the land was then passed to ex-servicemen from World War II.
– But your Government refused to agree with the new Queensland Government’s coming into the scheme again.
– That is because at that stage the former Queensland Government was not prepared to continue with the scheme. Since that time the new Queensland Government has come into office. I regret that the previous Queensland Government - and I am not attempting to talk politics on this scheme at all - did not continue with war service land settlement in that State. I think the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) referred to the freezing of land. Thousands of acres were frozen in Queensland for years. The owners did not know whether it was going to be acquired and they had not power to sell it. Obviously no owner would want to spend money on improving such land when it was frozen.
Queensland was included with New South Wales and Victoria in the 1954 scheme. The Commonwealth was dissatisfied with the progress of war service land settlement and offered to subsidize the three principal States to the extent of £5,000,000 a year. New South Wales was entitled to claim £2,000,000, Victoria £2,000,000 and Queensland £1,000,000. Queensland did not avail itself of this extra offer. At no stage did New South Wales and Victoria spend the whole of the amount available to them. In the first instance those States were committed to spend £2 for each extra £1 spent by the Commonwealth. That scheme did not work satisfactorily so the Commonwealth eased the obligation of the States and said, “ So long as you spend £1 for £1, we will still allow you the £2,000,000 “. But even then New South Wales did not use the extra money made available by the Commonwealth. My criticism of the New South Wales Government is that it did not even keep up its rate of spending. It reduced the amount it would normally have spent because of the amount that was made available to it by the Commonwealth.
But I wish to make it clear that the scheme is not ‘ended. If New South Wales and Victoria, as principal .States, come to the Commonwealth at the time of their annual financial review and ask for more money, the ‘Commonwealth will meet .its obligations in full. But these States have not ‘Used the extra subsidy which was made available by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has given notice that it will not continue, but the balance of the unexpended money for last year is included in this year’s allocation of £7,000,000. Therefore, .the principal States can use that sum this year if they want to. At the request of the New ‘South Wales Premier the Commonwealth approved the inclusion of that amount to ‘be made available to New South Wales this year
So far as Victoria is concerned, as a principal State it expects that all approved ex-servicemen who are wanting land can be catered for by 30th June, 1961. The Victorian Government intends to complete its war service land settlement scheme in full and satisfy all the ex-service applicants by that date. If there be a few who have not been catered for, it will provide for them in its ordinary closer settlement scheme.
South Australia has not been catered for in full because sufficient suitable land is not available. New South Wales is the only State which has ex-servicemen available to-day. If that State wishes to continue the war service land settlement scheme, I repeat and emphasize that the responsibility is on the New South Wales Government to continue as a principal State and the Commonwealth will meet fully its commitments made in the original arrangement with that government. I think that answers any suggestion that the scheme is simply being cut off. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) made a statement to that effect. Nothing of the sort is being done. The legislation provides for the fulfilment of an obligation on the part of the Commonwealth Government to the agent States. The Commonwealth still has an obligation to comply with all the undertakings it gave when it originated this scheme, and which will continue in operation if Victoria and New South Wales desire that this should occur.
The amounts that have been expended since the scheme came into operation may be of interest to honorable members. The Commonwealth has found £80,000,000, Victoria £45,000,000, New South Wales £43,000,000 and Queensland £6,000,000. This makes a total of £174,000,000, to which is to be added £11,000,000 for extras that have been provided in various ways and through miscellaneous funds. The grand total is £185,000,000.
I do not want to follow the irrelevant arguments that have been put forward here. I regret the abuse that has been hurled across the chamber, because I think this is too important a matter for us to get off the beam, as some honorable members have done. I do appreciate, however, the support that the House generally has given to the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- I am indebted to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) for the explanation that I had sought with regardto clause 3 of the bill, which reads -
The Treasurer may, from time to time, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911-1946, or in accordance with the provisions of any Act authorizing the issue of Treasury Bills, borrow moneys not exceeding in the whole Seven million pounds.
I asked the Minister why the Government chose to provide in the bill for two methods of raising the necessary funds, one under the Inscribed Stock Act and the other by the issue of treasury-bills. The Minister has now been good enough to inform me that if insufficient moneys are found to be coming from inscribed stock, then the Commonwealth will have the alternative of resorting to treasury-bills. I suspected that this was the case, and my suspicions have been confirmed. The fact that this has been provided, as the Minister has told us, in practically every loan bill, if not in every bill, since soldier settlement was commenced, does not justify the practiceof raising money by means of inscribed stock. The plain fact is that if inscribed stock is not available at 5 or 6 per cent., the Government then may resort to treasury-bills at the cost of issuance, about 1 per cent. Why does the Government wish to raise money at 5 or 6 per cent. when it can have resort to treasury-bills on the security of the nation, particularly in this case of an undertaking which, by its very nature, is returning some portion of the capital every year, and eventually will return all the money that the Government invests in it?
That is all I want to say on that matter. I felt it necessary to direct attention to a practice that is apparently becoming a habit and, I think, a very bad habit. I believe that governments, whether State or Commonwealth, should raise money that they require, to the maximum extent possible without causing severe hardship to our people, from consolidated revenue, and that when this source is not available they should see that the money comes from the issue of treasury-bills by their own banking institutions. I know that this proposition can be argued, but I feel it is high time we had a little more of this practice, rather than the method of continually running to the moneylenders, thus plunging the people of the country into interminable indebtedness which may eventually become the cause of a movement towards communism. Honorable members can think these matters over. It is time there was some new thinking on these aspects of financial policy. In some cases this Government has financed its public works out of revenue. This is an altogether admirable practice. There should de more of it, and this Government should make it possible for the State governments to finance their public works out of the country’s revenue to the maximum extent possible. However, this is not an appropriate time for a dissertation on finance. 1 make those remarks in passing because I believe these points should be emphasized more and more strongly for the benefit of the people of Australia.
While referring to clause 3, which is a comprehensive provision, I take the opportunity to address a few remarks to my friend, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). I was disgusted to-night to hear him attribute to the former member for Wannon the exact remarks made in this House to-night by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). The former member for Wannon could not possibly have said exactly the same things as were said to-night by the honorable member for Grayndler.
Order! The honorable member knows perfectly well that this is the committee stage of the bill.
– I thought it was an appropriate opportunity to make these remarks, Mr. Chairman. I will come back to the bill and connect my remarks with it. The honorable member for Mallee knows quite well that the former member for Wannon took over a property worth nothing. What is more, he is not a weathy man, unless he sells out, and, being a good Australian, he desires to spend his life on the property.
– Order! The honorable member must come back to the bill.
– I will do so, Mr. Chairman. I wanted to make another remark, which I am sure is quite in order. The honorable member for Mallee did say-
– Tn the course of a speech in this chamber.
– That was in the House. We are in committee.
– Well, it has been said that the New South Wales Government took land at unjust prices.
– Order! This is a matter that was dealt with in the House.
– But this clause gives authority for the Treasurer to raise money, some of which will be paid to the New South Wales Government.
– That will be in the future.
– Of course it will be, but as a result of this bill, and of clause 3, with which I am dealing.
– I have not noticed you dealing with it yet.
– Well, it could happen that with the money to be made available under this bill some State government might endeavour to acquire land at what some people might think is an unjust price. I think T am quite in order?
– Only just!
– I may be just on the verge, but in any case what I suggest is something that could happen, and it is something that has happened in the past. We might have another case similar to one to which I shall now direct the attention of the committee. I think it is essential that the history of this case should be borne in mind.
It happened on a previous occasion that a New South Wales Government, under the sovereign powers over land that it possessed, endeavoured to acquire a property near Gunnedah for about £211,000. It did so under the sovereignty vested in it by the New South Wales Constitution, or the powers vested in it by the Crown. I believe that the State had such authority, but the owners of the property, which was 42,000 acres in extent, had resort to the law of New South Wales, claiming that the property was worth £333,000 more than the Government had offered. The New South Wales Government had given notice of acquisition at about £5 an acre, and in my opinion, had it not been for the fact that soldier settlement was being carried out under an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State Government, in law the New South Wales Government would have been quite within its rights under the New South Wales Constitution Act of 1902. lt offered a price said to be based on 1942 values. I think that was in 1948, and no honorable member will dispute that between 1942 and 1948 there had been very little increase in land values.
– A Labour government was in office.
– Yes. There had been very little increase in land values because a Labour government was in power, and exercised control so that we did not have the galloping inflation that we know to-day. However, these people took this case to the State courts, and Mr. Justice Sugarman ruled in favour of the New South Wales Government. But, because of the entanglement of the Commonwealth under the terms of the war service land settlement agreement, it was claimed by the land-owners - those people who owned 42,000 acres - that the land ought to be acquired in accordance with the Commonwealth constitutional provision that land may be acquired only on just terms. They appealed to another court and won their case.
Now we follow the situation a little further. There was introduced into this Parliament a bill to provide moneys to New South Wales in order to further war service land settlement and put more settlers on the land. The Minister responsible at that time was the present honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), and he said that the Commonwealth Government would not advance the moneys to New South Wales unless New South Wales acquired the land required under the terms of the Commonwealth Constitution relating to just compensation.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I think that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) should be answered. He mentioned clause 3, and asked why this Government preferred to finance works under the provisions of the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act, and why it does not increase the use of treasury-bills, which would carry a much lower rate of interest. The honorable member, who approached this whole business very moderately, also talked about inflated prices. If money needed by the Government is secured by loan raising, that is deflationary, because the spending power of the public is thereby reduced. But if money is put into circulation by the issue of treasury-bills, that is inflationary. The honorable member, as he and his colleagues always do, used the argument of cheap interest rates, but at the same time he accused the Government of producing inflation. He cannot have it both ways.
The honorable member supported the New South Wales Government’s acts of piracy. He supported those in the New South Wales Government who acted as pirates by compulsorily acquiring land at low prices. Can the honorable member explain why the New South Wales Government selected land values in 1942 as the values to be used in relation to the compulsory acquisition of land years afterwards? The reason was that in that year land was at its lowest value ever. The New South Wales Government set out to acquire land compulsorily at the lowest possible price.
There was a case in Queensland where a government of the same ilk as the New South Wales Labour Government, whose piratical action the honorable member for Lalor supports, compulsorily acquired land at £5 an acre. The principal died, and consequently the land had to be valued for probate. The Queensland Labour Government valued it for probate at £15 per acre. This is the wonderful Labour Party that honorable gentlemen opposite support! It is nothing else but a bunch of crooks. The price was £5 per acre for acquisition purposes, but £15 per acre for probate purposes!
– It was the owner’s valuation.
– I shall reply to that. We had the honorable member saying tonight that land values were rising. A plumber might now charge £50 to do a job for which he would have charged £5 in 1942. If you said to him, “You did it in 1942 for £5, and you must do it for that now “, what would he say? The very wise purpose of this Government is to acquire money, if possible, from the people’s savings. That is the most deflationary way of financing any public works. To indulge in treasury-bill finance, as the honorable member for Lalor suggests - which means, in effect, printing money - is to use the most inflationary method of all financing. Consequently, the Government is working on sound financial methods.
.- I want to point out the inequity of the arguments used by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). The point is that if land is acquired, years after 1942,. at the price ruling in 1942, the owner of that land will receive only that 1942 value, but people living- in the same area, perhaps on adjoining properties, can get the later inflated value for their land. Therefore, it is most unfair that one land-holder should get the 1942 value while another can get the market value applying at the time of sale.
The main thing I wanted to say is that this is a bill for the raising of loan moneys, amounting to £7,000,000, for war service land settlement during the financial year 1959-60. That has been said by the Minister on different occasions and, of course, it is generally known. But on certain occasions I have referred to the fact that £10,860,000 is expected to be made available for war service land settlement during the financial year 1959-60 - the same financial year. It might appear that £10,860,000 is in excess of the amount that is to be made available. The bill provides for £7,000,000 to be raised from loans, and it is expected that £3,860,000 will be received during the year from repayments of advances by settlers. That amount will supplement the amount of £7,000,000 to be raised from loans, making the total £10,860,000.
This might seem an unnecessary explanation, but I make it to show that although I have said that the amount expected to be made available is £10,860,000, and the
Minister has made reference to the £7,000,000 of loan money to be raised under this bill, both the Minister and I are correct.
.- I wish to intervene in this debate on a very small point only. It was raised by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and was dealt with further by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson). It concerns the litigation between the Government of New South Wales and the owners of a property called “ Ghoolendaadi “, near Gunnedah, that was being, resumed, pursuant to the war service land’ settlement legislation, at 1942 values. I was struck, Sir, in listening to the honorable member for Hume, by his claim that this was a very great issue of civil rights. I think he used the word “ piracy “. I think it is relevant to point out that quite recently in litigation in the High Court before Mr. Justice Taylor the owners, of that estate gave oral evidence concerning the purposes they had in mind when they engaged in this litigation. I will read from the judgment of Mr. Justice Taylor as it is summarized in the “ Sydney Morning Herald”, of 14th October. The report reads -
His Honour said the appellant had sought, by oral evidence, to establish that the dominant purpose of each chapter of his litigation was to delay the time when the owners would be excluded from possession of the subject lands. He said, in effect, that the whole series of proceedings, were taken without much hope of ultimate success, and that, as he understood possession would not be required whilst proceedings were pending, proceedings were instituted really for the purpose of enabling the owners to retain possession for some indefinite period and to make very considerable profits by working the subject lands for as long as they were permitted to do so.
It does not matter whether the owners were believed or not, or whether their contention was relevant to the litigation or not. The fact is that the owner swore that that was his purpose and that was the last occasion on which this matter was before any court. If a man was prepared to swear, as this man was, that he was engaging in litigation principally for the sake of stalling and profiteering, we can discount this dramatic talk about piracy in settling soldiers on this land.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I did not refer at all to the property mentioned in the law report. I was referring to the resumption of land in Queensland. I did not raise the point dealt with by the honorable member for Werriwa in the law report.
– I am sorry that 1 misunderstood the honorable member for Hume. Apparently his remarks were not relevant to any other subject in the debate.
– I would not have attempted to intrude in the deliberations of the committee but for the flagrant misrepresentations that have been made with regard to the history of the acquisition of land for war service land settlement purposes in New South Wales. It is true that under the Constitution Act of New South Wales of 1902, the Government of that State, under its sovereign rights and powers, has authority to acquire any property at any value. That has been interpreted to mean that it has power to acquire property of no value without any compensation at all.
– All the States have that power.
– The honorable member for Lalor interjects and says that every State of the Commonwealth has the same power. That is probably true, but the other States have a better sense of their responsibilities and have a higher conception of integrity. At no stage have they ever attempted to exercise these powers with regard to the acquisition of land. The simple fact remains that when people acquire areas of land for any purpose they have, naturally enough, an equity in that land; and if they hold it long enough, in the normal sequence of events the value of that land should increase. For any government to exercise its sovereign rights and powers to deprive any person of his equity in his own property is dishonesty naked and unashamed. That is what happened in New South Wales under the War Service Land Settlement Act.
The New South Wales Government said to holders of land that it wanted to acquire: “We propose to acquire this area of land and we are prepared to pay you the 1942 values”. The 1942 values have been adequately explained by the .honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) as the lowest possible values that could be offered for land. The New South Wales Government offered 1942 values and then, under some pressure, it raised its limit and qualified its offer by saying that it would offer 1942 values plus 10 per cent, and that if the owners of land did not accept that offer, the New South Wales Government would resume the land at 1942 values net. That was the situation that developed, a situation that could never be tolerated by any responsible Federal Government conscious of its own constitutional responsibilities with regard to the acquisition of property of any kind. Every Commonwealth Government, regardless of its political character, is bound by the Constitution to pay for that which it acquires on just terms, and “ just terms “ has been interpreted by the High Court to mean the value of that which is acquired at the date of acquisition. That is fair in every sense of the term, and it was an attempt to get the New South Wales Socialist Government to stand up to that fair discharge of its responsibilities that precipitated all the litigation that has been referred to by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam).
I point this out to honorable members because it is necessary that those who are not fully informed on this question should understand what was happening in New South Wales. Indeed, what has been suggested here to-night should happen again is that a person with an area of land suitable for resumption for war service land settlement purposes should be deprived of his equity in the property and that an arbitrary value should be placed on it for purposes of war service land settlement. I ask the honorable member for Lalor whether it would be honest if he had land worth £10,000 and, under its constitutional power, a State threatened to acquire it for £5,000. Would that be honest? If it is honest, would it not mean that the State was contributing £5,000 in that particular instance towards war service land settlement and the honorable member for Lalor was also contributing £5,000? You could multiply that by any figure at all. If, for example, the honorable member for Werriwa owned a property worth £100,000 and the State Government, under its constitutional powers, decided to resume it for £50,000, would that not mean that the honorable member for Werriwa has lost £50,000 of an equity in his own property and that that £50,000 is the contribution that he alone, as a single individual, is expected to make towards war service land settlement? The same sort of iniquitous provisions apply to land under proclamation. Hundreds of thousands of acres of land are under proclamation in New South Wales, and that is equally dishonest. How would the honorable member for Lalor, the honorable member for Werriwa or the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) like to have their property proclaimed in such a way that it immediately lost its sale value, it immediately embarrassed the owner of the land and the heirs and successors of the owner of the land, and it placed them in a position where land that was of some calculable value was now of no value?
So it is, Mr. Chairman, that any government with a sense of its responsibilities would see to it that wherever land is acquired for war service land settlement or other purposes, it will be paid for on just terms. The payment of just terms has nothing whatever to do with the ultimate price charged to the war service land settlement scheme. That is a matter for negotiation between the State government and the settler himself. At no stage has it ever been suggested that land should be acquired on just terms and that these just terms, no matter what they are, should be a first and primary charge on the settler. That has never been attempted nor has it ever been done. However, it is necessary that honorable members should understand the significance that is attached to acquisition as it has been practised by the New South Wales Government and the significance of proclamation as it is being practised in New South Wales. These are socialist devices and they are designed for no other purpose than to deprive the little men and women who stand possessed of property of their equity in their own property.
.- As the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) raised the whole question of social justice in relation to land values, I want to make the point that he has presented a very narrow and very conservative interpretation of the theory of social justice in relation to land values. He has put forward the theory in substance that whatever accrues to land value is rightfully the property of the person who happens to hold the legal title to that land and that that person should acquire the full extent of that value. Of course, this is not the full story of the theory of social justice in relation to land values. It bears the assumption that the person who happens to have the legal title to that land is personally responsible for the increase in the value that occurs, and that it is in some way the result of his own effort, his own enterprise and his own design.
This subject has been examined closely by many men who have the distinction of integrity and of accuracy. Such men have pointed out over and over again that this assumption is ill-founded, that the value of land reflects not only the effort and the energy of the person who happens to own it, but also the growth in the community, the provision of community services, the increase in population, the development of amenities and so forth. Land which at one stage is worth, as the Minister said, £5,000 does not become worth £10,000 solely as a result of the effort and energy of the owner; it is worth £10,000 as result of the growth in population, the growth in demand for the products of tha! land arising from elsewhere, and the development of amenities.
– And the change in the value of money.
– And no government in the history of this country has inflated the value of money to the extent that this Government has in the past ten years.
– Inflation has occurred in other countries.
– The Minister is shaking his head, but the facts are as I have stated them. In no ten years period in the history of Australia has there been such a rapid depreciation in the value of money as there has been since this Government has been in office.
– What about other countries?
– No other country has been-
– Order! The honorable member for Yarra will confine himself to the bill.
– We are getting a socialist education.
– Order! The Minister will obey the Chair.
– The point raised by the Minister for Social Services is clearly inadequate. The value of land, which has proved the great barrier to closer settlement in every form in this country, has in it a constituent that is the result of community effort and not the result of individual effort. It is totally unjust that the individual should be entitled to reap the unearned increment that is involved in that land value, and the proposition put forward by the Minister for Social Services as a theory of justice is a totally inadequate theory. The community has a right to acquire that part of the value of land and of every other asset which is a result of the effort of the community. It is not merely a result of what the farmer does or of what the large land owner does or of what the city property owner does which gives value to the property of which he happens to have the legal title. The hundreds of thousands of people who work in the community and have no property at all have contributed by their work, by their presence, and by their demand for goods and services to the value of that asset which the Minister now wants to claim for the individual and the individual alone.
What the Minister is putting forward is not a proposition which concerns the small man, as he suggested at the conclusion of his speech. He is defending the big man. He is defending the man in the country whose property is of the type discussed in detail by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) - a property worth £200,000 or £300,000. That is the kind of person included in the defence made by the Minister for Social Services. On the other hand, I say that any effort made to keep in check the inflated values of land and property is in the interests of the community as a whole, and the Minister says that this is socialistic. Of course it is socialistic. The socialistic principle is the principle which is in the interests of the great majority of the people and not a small section of the people, such as is represented in this chamber by the Australian Country Party and in particular by the Minister for Social Services.
I think that the Minister is correct in saying that those who have listened to this debate ought to understand what is involved. What is involved is this: He is putting forward a proposition that the man who happens to be the owner of land is entitled to every penny of the value of that land. On the other hand, implicit in the position taken by the Opposition is the point that in the value of the land there is a good deal which is the result, alone and completely, of the development of the community, and the effort and the existence of the community. Therefore, the individual should not be permitted to reap, as it has been put, the unearned increment which is present in the land value. The legislation that the New South Wales Government has enacted, as has been mentioned in this debate, reflects that kind of principle, and from my point of view and the point of view of the Opposition, it is equitable that it does reflect that principle.
One other point that was made by Government supporters in this debate is that it was unfair to choose a 1942 valuation. What was illustrated by the case mentioned by the honorable member for Werriwa was that the reason why it was many years later that the question came to determination was that the owners of the land had deliberately chosen to delay and impede the acquisition of their land.
– By making preposterous claims.
– And at the same time, as the honorable member has said, to make preposterous claims. It was not a matter of taking over land at 1942 values in 1958. The procedures had been started in 1948 - many years before. As a result of the ability of the owners of the land to avail themselves of the processes of the law. obstructions were raised and delay occurred in taking over, and the actual determinations followed the orders for acquisition by many years. That is the main reason why it appears in that case that the New South Wales Government was trying to take over land in 19S8 at 1942 values. I have heard of many similar cases, and I should think that a great many cases come within that class, lt is obvious that the position put to the committee by Government speakers does not by any means give the complete picture of what should be the valuations either in the general case, or in the particular one relating to current action in respect of 1942 values.
.- Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) has propounded a most interesting theory. It would be very interesting to know to what extent his views on the valuation of land and the rights of owners are shared by other members of his party. I listened to him very carefully, and, if I understand him aright, he says that any increase in the value of land due to factors outside the control of the individual owner - and I presume that he means just the money value - should go to the community and that the community is entitled to take it. It would be very interesting to know what the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) thinks about this. Because of movements outside the control of a farmer, and particularly movements in the price level, which is quite beyond the control of the individual landowner, the value of a farmer’s property may well move upwards for many years. There may be other community developments which bear on the value of land owned by an individual.
How far are we to assume that the doctrine just propounded by the honorable member for Yarra is shared by his fellow members of the Australian Labour Party? Do they believe that any increase in the value of land and other property is something to which the community is automatically entitled? It is certainly true, of course, that these views are shared, in a minor way, not so much in regard to property, but in regard to rentals, by the Government of New South Wales, which has done so much to tie down the property rights of land-owners and transfer them to tenants, and has thereby stultified much development - certainly in house property - and has contributed so markedly to the housing difficulties in New South Wales, which are much worse than those of any other State. It would be interesting to know how far members of the Australian Labour Party share the view that accretions in the value of land held by farmers everywhere are something to which the community is entitled to help itself if it so chooses. Throughout Australia, there are many small farmers who would certainly be interested to know that if the value of a property worth £5,000 to-day increases, due to some further inflationary movement in prices, to £9,000, in a few years’ time, the State is entitled to take the difference between £5,000 and £9,000. This is a very interesting proposition.
The interesting point is, not that the honorable member for Yarra propounds it - because he, by himself, may be entirely irresponsible - but what the honorable member for Lalor and other members of the Labour Party think about it. Do they in fact subscribe to this view that an accretion in the value of property not due to the efforts of the owner is something to which the State, in the form of the government, is entitled to help itself? I shall be interested to hear whether the honorable member for Lalor endorses the remarks just made on this subject by the honorable member for Yarra.
.- Mr. Chairman, the fishing expedition embarked on by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) is not worth a moment’s consideration.
Thanks to the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), I am able to give the committee more facts about the “ Ghoolendaadi “ case in the Gunnedah district. We shall see who works in the interests of justice not only to the landholder but also to the community. We find that the first step towards acquisition was taken on 5th October, 1945, when the New South Wales “ Government Gazette “ carried a proclamation by the New South Wales Governor that he proposed to consider the advisability of acquiring the property for closer settlement. Nearly five years later, on 4,th May, 1950, a closer settlement advisory board - not Labour members of Parliament, but a closer settlement advisory board - recommended that the whole of the subject lands should be resumed, except for an area of 3,631 acres which Richard Anthony Pye should be allowed to retain. I ask honorable members to note that exception. That was not a bad holding to retain when the owners were to be amply paid for the rest. On 9th May, 1950, both Houses of the New South Wales Parliament - not just the government, and including the Legislative Council - passed resolutions approving the resumption of the land.
Ever since the State of New South Wales was constituted, governments of all political complexions in that State have had the right to frame laws dealing with the acquisition of land. Nobody will deny that. The New South Wales Government has had that right - just as the government of every other sovereign State in Australia has had it. Every other acquisition for soldier settlement purposes in New South Wales, except for these later acquisitions by a State authority, has had to prevail and be accepted. The owners of other properties acquired under the State acquisition laws have had to accept the situation. They have had the right to appeal to various authorities. But, just because of fortuitous circumstances in this case, the Pye brothers were able, by exercising their right to go to law, to take advantage of what they may have thought was a fairer system of determining values and to appeal, under the terms of the Australian Constitution, which provides for just terms. These people were quite within their rights, as the Privy Council subsequently determined. That body of old fogies sits more than 12,000 miles away from Australia and has no idea about land at Gunnedah or anywhere else. Most of those who comprise it are over 80.
This body of men determined that the price offered was not sufficient and that these patriotic owners in New South Wales, who had asked for £333,000 extra should get £86,000 more. The difference between £86,000 and £333,000 was the margin between patriotism and what the courts of the land thought was fair treatment for men who had fought and bled to preserve these land-owners and 42,000 acres which they held, and out of which they were to be left 3,631 acres - an ample home-maintenance area - with a homestead and all the rest of the improvements on it.
– About £250,000.
– That is so. The honorable member for Wentworth thinks that he is clever: He has tried to line me up as one who believes that increases in value should not be allowed to people.
– I did not.
– Yes you did. I do not fall for those jokes. The New South Wales Government dealt with this land acquisition by means of the machinery which was available to it - machinery which had been approved and which had remained on the statute book of New South Wales under all governments. The New South Wales Government was justly entitled to use that machinery. These people were lucky. They have been shown in their true colours. The information that I have been citing concerned a taxation case which these people took to court against the Commissioner of Taxation. They quibbled about their taxation. It was admitted in court that their trouble with the New South Wales Government was a big stall to stave off the resumption of their property.
Government supporters have lined themselves up with the big land holders against the soldier settler applicants of New South Wales. They have gone to endless lengths, over the years, to endeavour to blacken the Labour administration in New South Wales. There are returned servicemen in the country district of Lismore who did not get land in that area because of the activities of people such as Pye Bros. and of members of this Parliament who supported Pye Bros. and sympathized with them. I do not question the right of people to go to the courts or to the Privy Council. But because of the clamour of Australian Country Party and Liberal Party members on behalf of these big landholders who were left an ample living area by the New South Wales Government, the people of Lismore summarily dismissed their candidates. That is why, as time goes on, those who need land will treat the Government parties in the same way as they were treated in the Lismore by-election.
.- I should like to thank the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) for having given me the clearest and most straightforward exposition of the
Labour Party’s land policy that I have heard for a very long time. It was very kind of him and I take it as a true exposition of the Labour Party’s policy. However, I did not get up on that account. I got up in order to set the record straight because there seems to be a little confusion. A fair amount of time was spent on this problem when I was administering war service land settlement. What was said by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) and the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) was quite correct. But I had many discussions with the New South Wales Minister for Lands who was administering war service land settlement in that State. And although we could not do anything for some time, eventually when we decided to try to speed up exservice land settlement in New South Wales and Victoria, in the first place by granting £1 for each £2 spent by those governments and, I think, eventually, £1 for each £1 spent by those governments, the Commonwealth Government said that it saw no justice in placing extra taxation on certain individuals in order to pay for something which was the responsibility of the whole community. In other words, we considered that, in resuming land at far below its market value the State Government was, in effect, taxing certain individuals to meet a responsibility which should be met by the whole community.
Eventually, the New South Wales Government either saw the error of its ways or wanted to take advantage of the extra money which the Commonwealth Government was prepared to make available. The Commonwealth was not prepared to make that money available under terms and conditions which it felt were an injustice to the people whose properties were resumed. The New South Wales Government agreed to alter the act and make the resumptions at approximately the market value. The act was altered, I think, in December, 1955. It could have been 1954. Anyhow, the act was altered at the time that that subsidy was made available to Victoria and New South Wales, because the Commonwealth Government would not make that extra money available except under those conditions. I should like to put the record straight in that respect.
.- I was interested by the further contribution of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and by the interjection by so thoughtful a member as the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) to look up in the New South Wales “ Hansard “ the record of the resumption of “ Ghoolendaadi “. I found that, on 9th May, 1950, when the resolution to resume this estate was before the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, it was supported by the then leader of the Liberal Party, Mr. Treatt, and by the only member of the Australian Country Party who spoke on the subject, Mr. Vincent. The House unanimously agreed to the resumption. The honorable member for Bradfield who was then already a senior member of the Liberal Party in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, did not demur by his vote or his voice.
This debate has got very far from the real point. The Commonwealth provided the money for the resumption of these estates throughout the history of war service land settlement. New South Wales could not resume land for war service land settlement unless the Commonwealth provided the money, and it could not settle soldiers on that land unless the Commonwealth provided their living allowances. At any time, if the Commonwealth did not like the way in which the States were resuming land for war service land settlement, the Commonwealth could have withheld the money. As the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) has so clearly pointed out, the Commonwealth makes money available to the States under section 96 of the Constitution for this or any other purpose on any conditions it chooses. The Commonwealth makes the money available by annual acts. We are doing it this year. We have done it every year. While the honorable member for Chisholm was Minister, and during all the period in which the Commonwealth has made grants to the States for war service land settlement, this Parliament has provided the money to the State by annual acts. If we did not like the way in which they were spending the money we could have altered the conditions.
– That is what we did.
– Precisely. And we could have done it at any stage. I think that the honorable member said that conditions were laid down as he liked them, and in a way of which the whole Parliament approved in 1955. But the whole of this business concerning “ Ghoolendaadi “ was going on during the first five years that this Government was in office. The money which was to be spent for the resumption of “ Ghoolendaadi “ by the New South Wales Government was made available by this Parliament by annual appropriation. If we did not like what the New South Wales Government was doing, we could, at any stage, have laid down satisfactory conditions. There is no excuse. The honorable member for Chisholm cannot really exculpate this Parliament or his Government, or whatever persons should bear the blame, by saying that in 1955 they at last came around to it. For five years, they did nothing about it. If the New South Wales Government was doing wrong in the view of this Government, or of this Parliament, we should not have waited for five years to correct that wrong.
– They started in 1950, did they not?
– The notice of intention - or whatever the technical term may be - was gazetted in 1945, and the actual resumption took place in 1950. The resumption by the New South Wales Government took place on 9th May, 1950, and it was to be paid for with money provided by this Government.
– I did not provide it, the Government provided it.
– But you did not demur at the way in which the Government was doing it.
– You said that the resumption action commenced in 1950. I think that it went on for three years.
– I think it went on for longer. I think that the litigation continued until at least 1955. I am not saying that the honorable member for Chisholm was primarily responsible, but he was a supporter of the Government which connived at this immorality. Of course, nobody in this Parliament wasaware at the time of this wrong or, if he were aware of it, was bold enough to expose it. I do not think that any of us can be too righteous in this matter. If the handling of the “ Ghoolendaadi “ case waswrong, we were all in it. If the Government of New South Wales was doing wrong, we were providing the wherewithal for it to do so, and we continued to provide the wherewithal from 1950 to 1955 while this litigation was going on. I do not think that anybody can say now that the family received an unfair or inappropriate amount for “ Ghoolendaadi “.
It is about time that we showed a little realism and sense of proportion in dealing with this matter. The general resumption of estates for war service land settlement inall States has been carried on to the satisfaction of the people who have settled on the land and to the satisfaction of the people from whom the land has been acquired.
– That is not soin Queensland.
– The system in Queensland has been dead for many years. The Labour Government of Queensland took the attitude - a not unreasonable attitude as the years went on - that many people had not had the opportunity to serve in the Second World War and accordingly they would not benefit from the war service land settlement scheme. That Government felt that such people were entitled to be settled on the land just as ex-servicemen were.
– Before you conclude your remarks in relation to New South Wales, I remind you that the Commonwealth did not provide money for the acquisition of land in that State before 1st July, 1955.
– How does the Minister say that? The honorable member for Chisholm seemed to think that it did. All the money that this Parliament makesavailable to the States is subject to any conditions which we choose to lay down. During the period to which I have referred, most of the money that the States received from loans was in fact taxes which we had raised and which we made available to them.
In the great majority of cases there was no litigation or dissatisfaction in relation to the resumption of land for war service land settlement, but the owners of “ Ghoolendaadi “, so they have sworn, quite deliberately embarked on a policy of stalling. They made preposterous claims as to the value of the land and, to stall the acquisition, proceeded with litigation through every possible court for as long as possible. Several applications were made to the different jurisdictions and at the different levels of the Supreme Court; several applications were made to the High Court, and at least one application was made to the Privy Council. The owners of that property swore that they took those proceedings to retain possession of the property in the meantime to their own advantage. Do not let us lose sight of the fact that the people who have been settled on the land have been satisfied, by and large, with the conditions that have been imposed. The people who have given up land or who have had it acquired from them have been satisfied also. Most property owners did not squeal, but accepted the resumption as a reasonable proposition which would enable our land to be more profitably used in the national interest. Most of them very generously and decently co-operated in the scheme. It is people like the owners of “ Ghoolendaadi “ who made a welter of it. Unfortunately, people like them have mouthpieces in this Parliament.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I claim to have been misrepresented by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) who quoted me as saying, in effect, that the Commonwealth Government never acted at any time because we provided the money through the war service land settlement legislation. Money was provided for the principal States of Victoria and New South Wales through the Australian Loan Council until such time as we made a special subsidy of £1,000,000 to those States, as I have already mentioned. The honorable member for Werriwa misrepresented me to that extent. As the money came from the Loan Council, the Commonwealth Government could not insist on fair value for the land.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. My feelings have been lacerated by misrepresentations by the honorable member for Werriwa.
– Order! The honorable member has not spoken in the debate.
– But I am objecting to certain remarks which reflect on me.
– I did not refer to you.
– The honorable member referred to me because I was a member of the New South Wales Parliament.
– You were not a member of that Parliament in 1950.
– Order! The honorable member for New England will resume his seat.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
House adjourned at 10.48 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Commonwealth Professional Officers.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
On what occasions has he (a) been invited to attend and (b) attended conferences of the State Education Ministers?
– - The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What action has the Government taken or does it propose to take on the report made by an interdepartmental committee in 1950 on educational wastage at the secondary level?
– The report to which the honorable member refers was considered in 1950 when it was presented. The Commonwealth Government believes that the best interests of Australian secondary students desiring to proceed to higher studies are served through the operation of the Commonwealth scholarship scheme.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The Prime Minister of Japan- 30th November to 1st December, 1957.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom -3rd to 5th February, 1958.
Sir John Marriott, Deputy Grand President, British Empire Service League - 12th to 13th February, 1958, and 2nd to 4th March, 1958.
Members of the Queen Mother’s staff and Royal Visit Organization- 21st to 25th February, 1958.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand - 27th February to 2nd March, 1958, and 31st March to 2nd April, 1958.
The Earl of Bandon, Commander-in-Chief, Far East Air Forces- 8th to 10th April, 1958.
General I. D. White, Commander-in-Chief, United States Army (Coral Sea visitor) - 2nd to 5th May, 1958, and 13th to 14th May, 1958.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand - 14th to 16th June, 1958.
The Honorable H. G. Senanayake, Minister for Trade and Commerce, Ceylon - 10th July, 1958, and 16th to 18th August, 1958.
The Right Honorable Aubrey Jones, United Kingdom Minister for Supply - 14th to 15th August, 1958.
Nai Pote Sarasin, Secretary-General of Seato- 17th to 20th August, 1958.
The Earl of Selkirk, First Lord of the Admiralty - 24th September, 1958.
The Prime Minister of Canada - 6th to 7th December, 1958.
Dr. Subandrio, Foreign Minister of Indonesia ; 14th to 15th February, 1959.
Sir Gilbert Laithwaite, Permanent Under Secretary, Commonwealth Relations Office -27th to 28th February, 1959, and 5th to 7th March, 1959.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand- 28th February to 1st March, 1959.
The High Commissioner for Australia in London, the Right Honorable Sir Eric Harrison - 2nd to 4th March, 1959.
Rear Admiral George Dufek, United States Navy, Commander-in-Chief of United States Operation Deep Freeze - 4th to 5th March, 1959.
The Honorable P. N. Holloway, New Zealand Minister for Industry and Commerce - 20th to 22nd March, 1959.
The Right Honorable Duncan Sandys, United Kingdom Minister for Defence - 11th to 13th April, 1959.
General Laurence S. Kuter, CommanderinChief, United States Air Force Pacific (Coral Sea visitor) - 30th April to 4th May, 1959.
The Honorable G. R. Mason, AttorneyGeneral, New Zealand - 21st to 23rd May, 1959.
The Honorable M. Moohan, PostmasterGeneral, New Zealand - 14th to 16th August, 1959.
The Honorable J. P. Vaughan-Morgan, Minister of State, Board of Trade, in the United Kingdom- 22nd to 25th August, 1959.
The Right Honorable John Hare, United Kingdom Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries- 15th to 16th September, 1959.
Admiral Harry D. Felt, United States Navy, Commander-in-Chief, United States Forces Pacific- 28th to 29th September, 1959. 9. (a) The Prime Minister when in Sydney, and personal staff of the Governor-General when His Excellency is at Admiralty House, (b) Australian officials when accompanying overseas visitors mentioned in 8 above.
s asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answers: -
The second two will be in actual commission at intervals over the next two years.
t asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answers: - 1 and 2. Six destroyers in commission, one destroyer in operational reserve, two destroyers with some anti-submarine capability in operational reserve, and one aircraft carrier with antisubmarine aircraft.
d asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The Department of Works has no record of these costs for 1951 and 1952.
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (i) Erection and completion of 248 flats at Braddon and Turner, date let 25th March, 1957; (ii) construction of western lane and storm-water drainage - Northbourne-avenue, date let 6th May, 1957; (iii) erection and completion of Military Instruction Wing at Royal Military College, Duntroon, Australian Capital Territory, date let 10th February, 1959; (iv) erection and completion of Russell offices, date let 5th June, 1959.
s asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The Government’s policy in regard to current levels of employment on day labour in the State of New South Wales has already been fully explained in the House and to a deputation of union representatives.
d asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
z asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
on asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorabel member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has replied as follows: -
Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. is, of course, different to Qantas and the specific positions mentioned in Qantas have no counterparts in Ansett-A.N.A. or T.A.A.
t asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
R.A.A.F. Avon-Sabre by a mission headed by Air Vice-Marshal A. M. Murdoch, R.A.A.F., in 1955. The first version of this aircraft to appear in service was the F104A, and it was not adopted by the Government at the time, principally because it was considered advisable to wait until rapid developments in fighter aircraft occurring in the United States could be assessed. It was expected that an aircraft more capable of filling the several roles required of a replacement for the AvonSabre would become available in the future. In the meantime, the construction of 29 additional Avon-Sabre fighters was ordered. The F104G aircraft, to which the honorable member refers, is still being developed by the Lockheed Company from the F104. It differs considerably from the F104A being heavier and having an all-weather capacity, and it will be equipped to perform a variety of operational tasks. On the information available to me the first prototype F104G has not yet flown.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 October 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1959/19591020_reps_23_hor25/>.