23rd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 11 a.m. and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for
Defence: In view of his statement yesterday that national service training will be discontinued, thus leaving a surplus of establishments in various communities, will he consider making those facilities available for youth centres in order to meet an urgent need in various parts of the country and help to obviate the undesirable circumstances that arise when young people have no suitable and adequate place to meet?
– It is a little early to give an assurance on anything of this nature, but I know of the honorable gentleman’s interest in these matters, and I will bear his proposals in mind.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. What are the sources of funds supplied to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve? Does it consist only of past surpluses, interest and sinking fund payments by the States on loans, and certain other allocations from revenue?
– I would not like to give the honorable member an off-hand answer on this matter, but I shall provide him with a written reply as soon as I can.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Is the administration of the Joint Coal Board equally a Commonwealth and State responsibility? If so, is it true that recently the Commonwealth Government, without consulting with its partner, set up an expert committee to inquire into the future uses for coal and the development of the industry generally? Is it true also that the Commonwealth Government refuses to cooperate with the New South Wales Government in such matters? Is it a fact that twice this year the late Mr. Cahill wrote to the right honorable gentleman offering the services of two of his best officers, and that up to the present the right honorable gentleman has completely ignored those representations? If these are facts, will the Prime Minister indicate whether he views seriously recent statements by Government scientists, such as Professor Oliphant and others, that there is an urgent need in Australia to develop all known uses for coal? Does the Prime Minister propose to accept the New South Wales Government’s offer, or does he propose to answer the representations in due course?
– A good deal of this escapes me, I confess, but I will refer the honorable member’s question to my colleague who is responsible for these matters, and I will see that the honorable member gets a full reply.
– I note that Mr. Yoshida, a former Prime Minister of Japan, is now visiting Australia. Can the Minister for External Affairs give any details of the purpose of this visit?
– Mr. Yoshida, a former Prime Minister of Japan, arrived in Australia, I think yesterday, on a private visit. I need hardly remind the House of the great distinction of Mr. Yoshida, who has had a long career in the service of his country, both as Minister for Foreign Affairs and, in particular, as Prime Minister of Japan for two periods totalling about seven years. Mr. Yoshida, who is visiting Australia for the first time, is accompanied by a distinguished entourage including, I think, three exministers of the Liberal-Democratic Party in Japan and at least two industrialists of considerable importance. Mr. Yoshida’s visit, which is expected to last for about a week, is greatly welcomed by the Australian Government, even though it is a private visit. Every courtesy will be extended to him by this Government.
– Is the Minister for Trade aware of the widespread protests that have been made against the poor quality of tea that is being sold to the Australian public? Is it correct, that Australian buyers purchase, only the poor grades, of overseas tea? Does. the. Minister know whether tea of better quality is available? If it is available, why do Australian, buyers not avail themselves of this source of supply?
– If there is one thing at which I am expert, it is drinking tea, so I feel quite at home in replying to this question. There is no restriction either as to source or value upon the importation of tea into Australia. The quality of the tea which is imported by Australian traders in open competition is apparently a reflection of their judgment of what the consumers want.
– I address, my question to the Treasurer; When calculating tax reimbursements to the States, does the Commonwealth take into account the payroll tax which they pay? If the answer is in the affirmative, does the Treasurer know whether the States, in turn, make reimbursements to local government authorities for their pay-roll tax commitments?
– The payment of payroll tax by the States was taken into account when formulating the scheme of reimbursement which the Commonwealth has agreed upon with the States. Indeed,, one of the terms of the recent arrangement is that if there is any substantial change in financial relations, of which pay-roll tax obviously is a part, there will be a review of the financial arrangements upon which, we have agreed. I am unable to answer at: the moment the honorable member’s, question relating to the action that, is taken by the. State: governments when dealing with their own semi-governmental instrumentalities, but I shall make some inquiries and supply the information I get to the: honorable gentleman.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Will he, as a matter of some urgency, have measurements made of the intensity of sound-waves or shock-waves which- are created’ by blasting at the Mugga quarry orr m the development- area at: Red: Hill? Will he have. the. measurements madein the: vicinty of the: housing settlements in the older part of Red Hill, in the newer development in that suburb, and in Narrabundah heights? Will the Minister invite the people resident in those areas, who claim to have suffered damage to their homes from this blasting, to submit their case to him?
– I shall have the matter examined. I have not yet received any complaints- from people; but it is quite possible that some research can be done along the lines that the honorable member has suggested.
– My question as addressed to the Treasurer. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that the South Australian Parliament is currently considering a proposal to give partial rebates of- succession duties- in respect of properties used forprimary production where such properties are left to relatives who intend- to. continue to use the properties for- primary production? In view of the detrimental effect on the Australian economy, and on the individuals concerned, when properties or portions of properties have to be sold in order to pay succession: and; estate duties, will the Minister consider bringing-, the federal estate duty into line with the new provisions being inserted in- the South Australian Succesion Duties Act?
– I shall examine with very great interest’ the. legislation concerning; succession duties which L understand is being, brought: before.- the South Australian Parliament.- From time to time, this Government has received requests that special consideration- be given to rural properties in order, to . avoid, the kind, of embarrassment which, the honorable member has mentioned. Our own examination of the -matter does not suggest that land previously in use.has-gone out of - use. because of the, operation of succession, or estate duties. It is not- easy to devise, a,scheme. which would, be, equitable to. the taxpayers, generally, and. which: would:avoid the obviously undesirable: consequence-, oft encouraging, people of substantial means; to purchase, rural estate: in order to avoid’ estate- or succession duties which might have,applied had; their holdings: been in a form other than that of rural properties. We have looked at these matters and have seen the problems associated with, them, but we have not yet found :an answer which would satisfy the requirements which I have mentioned. For- these reasons, I shall be all the more interested to see how the matter has been dealt with by the South Australian Parliament.
– I ask the Minister for Trade whether representatives of the six European Common Market countries are meeting representatives of the major lead and zinc producing countries in Geneva shortly, in order to discuss the tariff which is. to be imposed on those products by. the Common Market countries. In view of the importance to Australia of the revenue which it receives from exports of those products, and in view of the- fluctuating markets for them in the dollar areas I ask the Minister: At what level are we to be represented at these discussions and what competition is there in Western Europe at present between lead and zinc from Australia and from, the European territories in Africa?
– The honorable member has raised an important subject. I shall ascertain the situation in full and shall inform him by correspondence, as the House is about to go into recess. Representatives of the lead and zinc- interests- of the world have been meeting over a- period at two levels. Representatives- of the industries themselves have been- meeting on their- own initiative, and, under the auspices of’ one of the instrumentalities- of the United Nations, representatives of the producing and the importing countries have met from time to time. I do not carry in my mind the details of the present situation, but I know it was expected that representatives of the producers would probably be meeting in the near future.- I can assure the. honorable member- that the Australian industry is very ably represented at these: meetings’ whenever they occur.- The.- industry, consults- this Government. The Government- is fully represented whenever- there.ri.s- a-, meeting at governmental level, and the> Government never- speaks for Australia:’ without- consulting representatives; of.- the,, lead; and zinc industries here-.
Mr.- ASTON. - Will the Minister for Trade, in- any future lifting of import ceilinglevels, give sympathetic consideration to allocating portion of any increase in imports to traders and manufacturers who, because of the arbitrary fixing of the base year are not classified as traditional importers?
-.- I take it that the honorable member’s question refers to imports necessary for purposes of manufacture rather than for direct consumption. The policy of the Government in this regard has been aimed at ensuring that essential imports are available to Australian manufacturing industries, in maximum quantities within the ceiling limits. It is true that regard is paid, when exchange considerations require it, to local availability of a product sought to be imported, but I can give the honorable member a most definite assurance that the principle he raises is one that we have been observing and that, in respect of any future relaxation of import licensing, it is a point which will be much in the mind of the Government.
– As the House of Representatives has assembled this morning, principally to await business from the Senate, will the Prime Minister give the Opposition an opportunity to discuss the defence statement which was tabled yesterday as we have some very pungent comments to make upon that document.
– I have no idea, at the moment, of what arrangements have been made for- the sitting to-day. I will discuss this interesting proposal with the Leader of the House.
– My question to the Treasurer is supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member- for Hume. In. view, of- the fact that, pay-roll tax is a direct charge on costs, particularly for primary producers, and. as pay-roll, tax is reimbursed to the. States,, why is- it. necessary, in the first place; for the States to have to pay the tax?
– It. would take a very- long, reply to. cover’ adequately this important subject. I remind the honorable gentleman, however, that the payroll tax was orginally introduced as an alternative to an increase in the general level of wages. Undoubtedly, had the payroll tax not been introduced at that time, in association with the scheme of child endowment, there would have been an allround increase of the basic wage, which would have formed part of the wage structure at the present time. I remind him further that, during the period of office of this Government, we have greatly widened the field of exemption from the tax and that the number of taxpayers has been reduced to a fraction of those who were formerly subject to it. For fairly obvious reasons, we maintain the present system with regard to the State Governments, but the circumstances are not parallel to those of other taxpayers.
– Will the Prime Minister look at the notice-paper and take note that 21 questions remain unanswered and that twenty of those are in the name of the Opposition? Will the Prime Minister whip up his Ministers and see that they act more promptly in attending to this important duty because the House will go into recess to-day and, I understand, eventually the Parliament will be prorogued so that these questions will end up in oblivion?
– It is quite true that a great number of questions on the noticepaper remain unanswered. It is equally true that very many more have been answered under circumstances of some pressure. I do not think that I need to whip up my colleagues. I think that every Minister will be very anxious to dispose of the questions on the notice-paper as soon as possible after the House gets up.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Is it true that the Queensland Cotton Board has on hand about 300 tons of cotton seed oil which it cannot sell? If so, what is the reason for this state of affairs?
– This year, the Queensland cotton crop was double that of last year, but I am not aware that as a result there was a surplus of cotton seed oil. Neither can I indicate the reason for the surplus, if there is one. However, 1 will ascertain what is the position, and will advise the honorable member accordingly.
– Does the Prime Minister recognize the right of every member of the community to an income upon retirement from work on account of invalidity, age or any other unavoidable cause, which will provide a reasonable living in accordance with recognized minimum Australian standards? If so, is the Government prepared to initiate a public inquiry by an independent authority to examine all Australian social service payments to ascertain whether they accord with this principle? If the Prime Minister is not prepared to adopt this suggestion, will he state his reasons for not doing so?
– I am not prepared to adopt the suggestion. The policy of the Government in relation to all problems of social services, so long as they are Commonwealth social services, is expressed by us every year in the Budget. We will continue to follow that practice.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. As I think that honorable members should have the advantage of much information that must have been obtained by the Minister during his recent overseas trip, I ask whether, during high level talks in which he participated he was able to assess, reliably, the attitude of President De Gaulle on what has become known as a summit conference. If so, will he inform the House of his impressions on this subject?
– I do not think it would be in the general interest if I were to comment on the attitude of the head of the government of another country. In recent times there have been problems and certain differences of view about the conditions precedent to the holding of a summit conference. Personally, I do not believe that it would be appropriate for me to make comments, critical or otherwise, on the attitude of mind of the head of another government.
– I ask the Minister for Health: Is it a fact that great results are being obtained by the use of the new wonder drug H.3 in assisting to transform old men into young men? If so, will the honorable gentleman make a supply of this drug available to his ministerial colleagues so that they may be better fitted to perform their public duties?
– If the claims made for this substance could be substantiated, I would be delighted to do what the honorable member has suggested. I must point out to the honorable member, however, a fact that has become only too painfully obvious, that no drug, however wonderful, could possibly revitalize the Labour Party.
– My question to the Prime Minister is supplementary to one which 1 asked him on 8th October relative to the construction by Qantas Empire Airways of an hotel of international standard in Sydney. On 2nd November, the right honorable gentleman wrote me a letter in reply to my question. Part of his letter reads as follows: -
An examination is now being made to determine whether hotel projects being undertaken by private interests in Sydney will meet that need or whether special steps need to be taken involving some degree of participation by Qantas. Until that examination is complete, no further action will be taken by the Government on the Qantas proposal.
I now ask the Prime Minister: How long does he believe that this examination will take? Can he say when Cabinet is expected to make this important decision to maintain the service by Qantas Empire Airways on an international standard?
– Frankly, I do not know how long it will take. I will get in touch with my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation, from whom any material will come before Cabinet, and find out from him when he expects this matter to be ripe for decision. At the moment I cannot answer off-hand. I will communicate with the honorable member by correspondence.
– Does the Minister for Social Services agree that considerable confusion exists among pensioners and intending pensioners in respect of the manner in which annuity arrangements can be invoked to facilitate a higher rate of pension than would ordinarily be due? Is it the hope of the Government that an appreciation of these arrangements will rem:in obscure so that social services expenditure will not substantially increase? Will the Minister consider the need to prepare an information sheet on this subject, setting out age schedules and compatible annuity rates, as well as a synopsis of benefits to be gained? Will he also consider the advisability of circulating draft annuity agreements, and provide in the principal offices of the Department of Social Services an annuity advisory service for the benefit of pensioners? Will he also consider the preparation of a comprehensive statement on this subject for the benefit of honorable members?
– I remind the honorable member that from time to time I have made statements with regard to annuities in relation to qualification for social service benefits.
– Nobody could understand them.
– While that may be so, Mr. Speaker, nevertheless I have made those explanations, and they have been entirely satisfactory, so far as I am in a position to judge.
– You should write them out.
– In reply to the interjection of the honorable member for Werriwa, who suggests that I should write them out - I have written them out. I have written them out for, among other people, the honorable member for Werriwa and, so far as I am in a position to judge, they were entirely satisfactory to him. The question of the number of people and the aggregate sums involved in the payment of social services is not one that exercises the mind of the Government at any time. As soon as a person qualifies for social services, and as soon as the rates are announced, the Government stands up to its full responsibilities without equivocation.
– My question to the Minister for Air concerns the defence statement made yesterday on aircraft reequipment. Is a replacement being considered for the Canberra bomber and, if so, what aircraft are being considered? Which fighter aircraft are being examined for a replacement for the Avon-engined Sabre? Is it a fact that the standard Royal Air Force supersonic fighter, the P-l Lightning, which was at first rejected because of lack of range, is having its range considerably extended by the addition of extra fuel tanks?
– The Department of Air surveys the whole range of aircraft available in both the bomber and fighter fields. I am of the opinion that at the present time there is no suitable bomber aircraft available to replace the Canberra, though some are under development both in the United States and in Great Britain. I do not think that any good purpose would be served by naming all the aircraft in the fighter field which are being considered by the Royal Australian Air Force at present. I can assure the honorable member, however, that quite a number of them are under consideration.
– I address a question to the Minister for Defence. It deals with two specific matters, in contrast with the generalities that the Minister gave us in his defence statement yesterday. First, what will be the effect of the changes in the Navy programme on naval construction at Williamstown dockyard? Secondly, how long is it expected it will be before the future level of aircraft construction in this country is determined?
– I shall deal first with shipbuilding. The honorable member will be aware of the present Navy programme, but, as I said yesterday, the Minister for the Navy has still to bring to Cabinet his proposals in regard to the construction programme. Until those proposals have been considered and decisions taken, one cannot say what will be the level of shipbuilding. But I can assure the honorable member that the Government is deeply conscious of the importance of the shipbuilding industry to Australia.
– When will the Minister’s proposals be brought before Cabinet?
– We are hoping that it will be after the Chief of the Naval Staff goes overseas, which will be in the next month or so.
– When will a decision be arrived at with regard to aircraft construction?
– It is hoped that a decision will be made within the next two or three months on the type of aircraft to be adopted.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Interior. No doubt the Minister has noticed the similarity between the electorate names of Hume and Hughes. Naturally I do not wish it to be thought that I am the author of any of the speeches or questions of the honorable member for Hughes, and no doubt that honorable member reciprocates. May I suggest that the name of his electorate be changed to the Scottish version, MacHughes?
– No doubt that suggestion will be considered when a redistribution of electorates is being examined.
– As the PostmasterGeneral is absent, and as this is the last day of the session, I shall request the Prime Minister to obtain from the PostmasterGeneral an answer to my question. In the current examination by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board of applications for television licences in Canberra, is the ability of the applicant to provide a service to the districts surrounding Canberra taken into consideration in deciding which applicant shall obtain the licence? By the surrounding districts I refer particularly to the Goulburn, Braidwood and Cooma districts.
– Yes. When I speak of the ability of the applicant to provide such a service, I refer to such factors as the siting of his transmitter, the efficiency of his equipment and his technical knowhow. Will the board give special consideration to these aspects, because the people in the districts surrounding Canberra are as eager as are Canberra residents to enjoy the benefits of a television service?
– I will be very glad to convey this suggestion to my colleague. I must say that it seems reasonable enough on the face of it, but I am not familiar with the investigations being carried out by the board or with any cross-currents there may be.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. The benefits under the new Defence Forces Retirements Benefits Act will not be payable until 14th December. It is probable that some members of the forces will be due to retire before that date. Will the Treasurer take steps to ensure that such members will be eligible to receive the new benefits? Perhaps he could simply arrange with the Services to issue instructions not to discharge personnel until after 14th December. Will he take some administrative action of this kind?
– This matter was discussed at some length when the legislation was before the House and in committee. It was pointed out then that the scheme is a contributory one, and that whatever point of time was taken as a commencement, there would, no doubt, be some people who would feel aggrieved that it had not commenced at an earlier point of time. The Parliament, or at least the House of Representatives, has already made its decision on this question. As to administrative arrangements within the Services themselves, those are matters which, I feel, more directly concern my colleagues, the Minister for Defence and the Services Ministers. I would be rather surprised, however, if the matter were not handled, within the Services themselves, in such a way as to entitle people about to be discharged to the new benefits.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Defence, arises from the statement that he made yesterday. Is it proposed that the authorities will consider the purchase of atomic-powered submarines? Will they look at submarines already in commission with the Royal Navy or will they place orders with shipbuilding yards in Great Britain for submarines to be built to specifications of the Royal .Australian Navy?
– As I said yesterday, the Chief of the Naval Staff is to go abroad and discuss some of these matters. At this .point of time, we are definitely not considering the purchase of nuclear-powered submarines, for the simple reason that they are so costly that a country of this size could not afford them. What the Naval authorities are considering is the very latest type of conventional-powered submarine. When they have examined them and discussed the possibility of manufacture in Australia and so on, they will make recommendations to the Government, and the recommendations will be considered.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. What is the purpose of his visit to South-East Asia? Is there any significance in the choice of the honorable member for Barker as one of those who will accompany him? Is this related in any way to the rumoured retirement of the Minister for External Affairs?
– The honorable member has fallen into the calamitous error of reading the Sydney “ Sun “. I thought it was well known that the purpose of my going to these countries was to pay a visit of courtesy and to encourage mutual understanding and goodwill. I have no specific matters to discuss, though no doubt the general range of our contacts will be involved.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether, with the introduction of submarines to the Royal Australian Navy, consideration will be given to the establishment of some submarine base facilities in Western Australia.
– I am sure that when this proposal is considered, and if it is adopted, the virtues of the naval base in Western Australia will be considered.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. Is it a fact that recently he refused to pay a sick benefit to an 18-year-old Newcastle girl simply because she truthfully said that she had not applied earlier for benefit, as she was not aware that she was entitled to it? Is the Minister aware that, during the fifteen weeks before the girl applied for the benefit, she had undergone a major operation and that she was unable to walk for at least twelve of those fifteen weeks? Is he aware that the girl’s mother is also a cripple and that, as soon as the person concerned could make inquiries, she did so and a claim was made for the benefit? Because of the circumstances of the case, will the Minister again consider all aspects of it, particularly the age of the patient and the nature of the complaint, and review his previous decision?
– In reply to the honorable member could I say that the qualifications for the payment of an invalid pension or unemployment or sickness benefit are laid down in the Social Services Act and it is my duty to administer the act in the strict terms of the letter and spirit of the act. I do that to the very best of my ability. 1 have no power to withhold pensions from people who apply and qualify for them. I am duty-bound to administer the law as it is given to me by the Parliament. I do that. If there is any confusion in the mind of the honorable member for Shortland as to any particular case, I will be glad to discuss that case with him, but this is neither the appropriate place nor the appropriate time to deal with an individual case.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has noted the remarks of the Tariff Board in its report on shipbuilding of last June, tabled this week, concern ing the position of the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand Limited, which operates nine vessels on the Australian coast and SO vessels on other routes, and derives important benefits from the existence of Australian docking, repair and maintenance facilities, but has not yet placed orders to support the Australian shipbuilding industry. I ask the right honorable gentleman, as head of the Government, what he has done about the Tariff Board’s suggestion that his Government and the Government of New Zealand should consider a plan whereby, for broad security and economic reasons, the shipbuilding industry in Australia could be assisted to be maintained by receiving orders to cover the needs of New Zealand based shipping?
– 1 have not yet considered the point raised by the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for Health: Will he consider having officers of his department inquire of the teaching universities throughout Australia as to the output or turn-off of graduates in dentistry over recent years and the possible future output? Will he further seek information as to the number of graduates in each year who remain to practice in Australia? Having secured those figures, will the Minister then consider whether the production of graduates in dentistry is proving adequate for the needs of Australia’s population and will he consider some means to encourage young people to enter dentistry courses at our universities?
– I think most of the figures sought by the honorable member are already available to my department. What the prospects are for the future is not so easy to foretell, but I will ask my department to look at the question and see whether some information can be given to the honorable member.
– The figures for the first, second and third years would give an indication.
– I should think that those figures are readily available from the universities and I dare say that my department already has them - at any rate, the figures for the final year.
– I ask the Leader of the House whether he is in a position to indicate to honorable members the programme that will be followed in this place to-day, and next week, in relation to the operation of Parliament having regard to what appears to be the detailed examination of certain controversial legislation in another place. Will the right honorable gentleman tell honorable members what may be expected of them within the next week or two?
– I was proposing to seek leave of the House to make a statement along those lines at the end of question time, but as we are very close to that now I think I could usefully make my statement at this juncture. As honorable members are aware, so far as it has lain in the power of the Government in the House of Representatives we have disposed of the legislative programme that we brought forward for this sessional period. But a good deal of that legislation is currently either under consideration or awaiting consideration in another place. So far as one can make an analysis of the likely result of the examination of that legislation by the Senate, only one substantial item of legislation is likely to be affected by way of amendment so far as I can ascertain, and that is the Matrimonial Causes Bill. The extent to which there may be some amendment there has, of course, yet to be determined as the Senate is currently considering that bill. However, it is the intention of the Government to bring that and other legislation to finality, and, if necessary, to have the House of Representatives meet for that purpose.
The procedure that I recommend be adopted - I have discussed this with the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and, of course, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) - is that in a few moments we put the formal motion for the adjournment of the House. That would enable the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and others who may wish to speak in that strain to address themselves to the kind of felicitous references that are customary at this period of the year. After the House has got itself into a suitable frame of mind following those references, we can proceed with discussion of the motion for the adjournment of the House much as though-
– In the same spirit?
– That would depend on honorable gentlemen. I hope that they will continue in the same spirit. We can then proceed as though we were on a Grievance Day discussion with the motion for the adjournment as the vehicle. It is certainly not intended to bring that motion to finality. We clearly cannot bring that motion to finality; and what is proposed, therefore, and I understand that this is in accordance with Standing Orders, is to seek withdrawal by leave of the motion for the adjournment if that course appears desirable and invite the House to resume again at 2.15 p.m., at which time we shall have a clearer idea of the progress being made in another place. I think we can adjust our course as we go along, according to what official information reaches us from the other chamber, and I shall keep in touch with my opposite number in the Opposition ranks so as to inconvenience honorable gentlemen as little as possible.
– On Tuesday last, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) asked a question about the re-flooring of King’s Hall. Tenders have been called for the job. Those tenders close on 24th November, and the honorable gentleman will be pleased to know that Western Australian jarrah has been specified for the main body of the floor, with the outline in silver ash.
That the House do now adjourn.
In doing so I should like to refer to the fact that the session is coming to a close and we are approaching Christmas and the end of the year. I think it would be agreeable to the sentiments of all honorable, members if the opportunity were taken to offer the warmest good wishes for Christmas and the New Year to all honorable members in this place.
– Are you not going to send me a card?
– Yes, I will send you a card - autographed. What could be better? I believe that you can sell one of them for two of another kind. Mr. Speaker^ I am sure that I express the feeling of all honorable members when I say that you have our warmest good wishes for the way in which you have guided the parliamentary procedure. The same remarks apply also to the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Bowden). As I am sure you know, Mr. Speaker, you are both personally very popular and well regarded in this place, and there is no lack of sincerity in the goodwill that goes out to you. The temporary chairmen of committees, who manifest themselves from time to time, also have earned our gratitude.
To the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and, through him, to members of the Opposition, we offer our warm personal good wishes. We cannot be hypocritical enough to offer our political good wishes, but I think that our personal good wisheshave been established.
It is proper to point out that this has been a hard session, a long session, a very strenuous session, and perhaps we do not always realize how much we owe in the management of the House, to the cooperative work of my colleague, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). There is always a smile and. a raising of the eyebrows, when we see them disappear behind the Speaker’s chair to cook up some infamy, or whatever it may be called.
– Or to hold a summit meeting.
– I” think it- is a littleprecipitate to call” it a summit meeting.
Nevertheless, the House is greatly indebted to our two colleagues for the work that they have done..
As ever, we. are greatly indebted to the officers of the. House who manage to keep us out of more trouble than might be imagined. To the “Hansard” staff who carry out their Christian and beneficial work so carefully, to the broadcasters in the broadcasting booth, and to all our correspondents, anonymous and otherwise, we are very grateful. The House is very well served and we have every reason to appreciate what is done for us. We all would like to offer our thanks and warmest good wishes, as we now approach Christmas, to all those who work in and around this- institution - the civil servants who have been constantly available to help all of us, and all officers who are concerned with the business of government.
– I join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in. offering good wishes and Christmas greetings to all honorable members. 1 support his observations in relation to. the Presiding Officers. I cannot remember any other time when we were fortunate enough to possess a. Speaker and a Chairman of Committees who really commanded the support and the affection of the House generally. This is a very good thing for the House as an institution.
– Why do we never, mention the members’ bar,? The. officers there work very hard.
– That .is- true. That, is a very generous, statement. The: Prime
Minister is about to leave Australia on an important mission of goodwill to Malaya and Indonesia. Recently we had a visit from the Prime Minister of Malaya. I think that relationships between our two countries are excellent and that they will be strengthened and maintained. The Prime Minister’s visit to Indonesia is also of some importance. Without going into details of the purpose of the visit, I may say that I am very pleased that the mission is being undertaken. Although it is not really a political mission in the true sense, we all hope that it will bear fruit.
I want to refer, Mr. Speaker, to the work that you, the Clerk of the House and his assistants performed during the very important visit to Australia of members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The functions which you and the President of the Senate performed, together with the officers to whom I have referred, were outstanding.
– In my capacity as leader of the Australian Country Party in this House, I should like to join in expressing seasonal greetings to all honorable members. This has been a long and arduous session during which every one in the House has devoted himself excellently to the duties of his parliamentary office. Overall, there has been an extraordinarily good temper. For that I am sure we are indebted to a number of people, particularly the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), the Leader of the House and his opposite number on the Opposition. You, Mr. Speaker, have occupied your high office with great distinction, and have exercised your functions with complete impartiality and to the satisfaction of the House, and the same may be said of my colleague, the Chairman of Committees, who has done a splendid job. Of course, I do not forget the temporary chairmen of committees.
I offer my thanks to the Leader of the Opposition for his co-operation and courtesies on occasions when I .have had a position of responsibility in debates. I thank also my own colleagues for their support and courtesies during the year.
This is the first occasion on which I have had the privilege to speak at Christ mas time as the Leader of the Australian Country Party. I was out of the country last year when the Parliament went into recess. To-day, I cannot help but refer to my former leader, Sir Arthur Fadden, whom we miss and think of on this occasion. Indeed, he was a very distinguished personality and one who was most warmly regarded in this House. I may say, too, that the Whips have done their job splendidly.
As the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have said, we are always indebted to the officers of the House. 1 congratulate Mr. Turner upon the completion of his first year as Clerk of the House of Representatives. I extend thanks to the “ Hansard “ staff, the Parliamentary Library staff, the Government Printer and his staff. As Napoleon once remarked, an army marches on its stomach; so I would not wish to forget the staff of the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms, and all those who co-operate to make this place workable.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Australian Labour Party is a humanitarian party. At this time of the year, when the Parliament adjourns for the Christmas recess, it is customary to offer messages of goodwill. As I sat listening to the two previous speeches, I wondered how it would be possible for members of this Government and its supporters to have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. If they have consciences, they will be worrying about all the misdeeds which they have perpetrated during the last twelve months. What I am most concerned about at present is the kind of New Year resolutions that Government supporters will make. I hope that Ministers will resolve to be much more truthful when answering questions asked by Opposition members during the next year, not to attempt to mislead the people, and not to be responsible for acts which will cause misery to many deserving sections of the Australian community. If Ministers would act in accordance with those principles in the future, they would deserve to have a merry Christmas. However, knowing the calibre and the past performances of the Government and its supporters, I cannot be optimistic enough even to hope that Ministers and Government supporters generally will make such resolutions or that they would observe them if they did make them.
Although we are approaching the Christmas season, and the Christmas spirit is supposed to be abroad, I am quite certain that the Government will not grant me an extension of time in which to continue my remarks on this occasion. Therefore, I propose now to direct the Government’s attention to a few matters with which it should be dealing. The Parliament should not adjourn until these matters have been satisfactorily settled. How can Government supporters disperse knowing full well that in the electorate represented by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope; 200 Australian families, who are probably more deserving of a merry Christmas and a happy New Year than are Government supporters, are to be evicted in the almost immediate future without any provision being made by this Government for alternative accommodation for them? The Government washes its hands of this matter and says, “ That is the responsibility of the New South Wales Government “.
– Yes, and therefore the Prime Minister is leaving the chamber now.
– No doubt he is going out to enjoy the festivities at some of the breaking-up parties which I understand Government supporters have arranged.
Let me now turn to a matter which concerns the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). In this chamber the other evening the Minister questioned a statement which I had made on a number of occasions and which I repeated then. I said that the figures released from time to time by the Department of Labour and National Service do not accurately indicate the situation in regard to unemployment in Australia. The Minister promised to dissect the figures and submit them to me before the House went into recess. He has done so by letter, and I now propose to read his letter in order that honorable members will know that the unemployment figures released by the department from time to time are without doubt completely and absolutely unreliable. The letter states -
I refer to my promise in the House on 24th November to try to provide a reconciliation of the employment figures.
First, I am bound to say that all familiar with employment or unemployment statistics are aware of the great difficulties that between census dates, confront those responsible for their compilation and that between census dates exact reconciliations are virtually impossible. Other than at census dates there can only be estimates of the size of the work force and the numbers of wage and salary earners, employers and self employed. The only firm figures are the Commonwealth Employment Service figures and the Unemployment Benefit recipient figures which are the result of direct counts. That is why in my regular statements on the employment situation I refer to the work force as being about 4 million. I pointed up this problem in my reply to your recent question upon notice.
Let us assume for a moment that the increase in the work force in the five years 1955/1959 was 357,000-
That is the figure supplied by the Minister himself - despite the qualifications that attach to the figure. The question is, what has happened to the increase. First, the Statistician’s estimates of the wage and salary earners (excluding rural and domestics) but including Defence Forces show an increase of 213,600. Second, the Commonwealth Employment Service figures show an actual increase in the numbers registered for employment, of 43,344. That leaves a gap of 100,000 foi which only very rough estimates are possible, foi the reasons already given. The gap includes increases in employers, self-employed, employees in rural and domestic service and helpers not on wage or salary. In the 1954 Census these categories respectively comprised 6.7%, 11.1%, 4.8% and 0.8% of the work force. If we apply these percentages to the 357,000 figure we account for nearly 84,000 of the remaining 100,000. This leaves a gap of 16,000 odd in a total of 4M. odd which is negligible.
I would, of course, revert to the first point above. There is, and can be, no precision about estimates and most of the figures I have referred to are just estimates. In addition, the purist can argue about several aspects of the processes followed above. However, we will have to wait for the 196t Census to learn the precise facts of employment and unemployment. Then we will know how close our estimates have been to the facts.
That letter proves conclusively what other Opposition members and I have been saying for some time: The figures released by the Government are purely propaganda figures that are prepared in the Department of Labour and National Service under the instructions of the Minister in an endeavour to create the most favorable impression possible as to the employment situation in this country, solely in order to benefit the Government itself.
I want to deal briefly now with another matter, because I shall not have an opportunity to do so for some months. The
Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), repeatedly, has refused the request made by myself and other Opposition members - particularly the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) - for a complete and thorough investigation into import licensing in this country. I frankly admit that, as a result of the relaxation of restrictions, the position is not as acute as it may have been eighteen months or two years ago. The fact is that, when we raised this matter, the Minister challenged us to give specific cases. He said that, if we did, he would have them investigated. We proceeded to give him specific cases, and I asked a series of questions about the issuing of certain licences. One of those questions concerned a gentleman who was formerly Minister representing the Chinese Nationalist Government in this country. I asked for details of the value and classifications of the goods covered by the import licences which had been isued to this gentlemen. The Minister, in his reply, stated -
On very many occasions in the past I have stated in this House that I must respect as confidential the business relations between any person or firm and the Department of Trade. I am not prepared to breach this confidence.
I readily admit that the mention of a name may make it appear that the Minister, if the existing practice is to be continued, had no alternative but to refuse to reveal this information. But how does he justify his answer to a question which I asked later without the mention of any name?
When the honorable member for Yarra was challenged on a previous occasion to give the Minister a specific case, he did so, giving the number of an import licence without mentioning the name of the person concerned. So, in that instance, there could have been no question of revealing confidential information. As a result of the assertion by the honorable member for Yarra that certain things had happened,I placed on the notice-paper a question to the Minister for Trade in these terms -
Here is the Minister’s reply -
I have said on a number of occasions that I must respect as confidential the business relations between any person–
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, I should like the House to have adjourned in the atmosphere created by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). Most of us would have wished to express our feelings in the terms in which they spoke. It is a little regrettable, therefore, that a note of rancour should have been introduced into this adjournment debate.
Earlier to-day, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) asked a question about pills that could reduce the apparent age of people, including, presumably, members of this House. We had hoped that the honorable gentleman from East Sydney would mellow a little over the years and in appearance, of course, he has. But I trust that if these pills are ever introduced he will be one of the last to be given the benefit of them. Having said that, I should like to join in the compliments and expressions of goodwill that have been made by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
In regard to the letter that was read by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), I shall make this one comment: I had the letter written deliberately so that he would be able to use the information on the adjournment last night, and the employment statistics contained in it are capable of complete, or well nigh complete, reconciliation. I felt that if the honorable member wanted to use the figures he should be given the opportunity to do so. In other words, I instructed the department to get the reconciliation figures as quickly as it possibly could in order to make them available to the honorable gentleman from East Sydney so that, if he used them, the House could make up its opinion on the facts and decide whether a true reconciliation were possible. As the honorable member has pointed out, of a total work force of about 4,000,000, we can account for all but about 16,000. I think that points to the fact that a well nigh perfect reconciliation has been made.
Instead of being criticized on that basis, I think the department should be complimented for the accuracy of the figures.
In order to prevent any political misconceptions, I should like to make one other statement to the honorable gentleman. I do not know what association he has had with the Department of Labour and National Service. I doubt whether the trade union movement or the Labour movement would want him to have any, for they have never expressed such a wish, so far as I know. But there has been no change either in the method of compiling the figures or of presenting the figures since the Menzies Government has been in office. I have deliberately ensured that no change would be made so that there could not be any accusation of manipulation of figures. If there is something wrong in respect of the base year, the Labour Party must accept some responsibility for it. All that I can be responsible for is the accuracy of the compilation and its presentation. The Government and, I am certain, responsible members of the Opposition such as its Leader and Deputy Leader, are perfectly satisfied with the form of the presentation and its accuracy.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my personal regards to you in the most complimentary terms. If it were practicable for a Speaker to blush, I think that you would be blushing at this moment. I hope that when the House rises, it will do so feeling that this has been a happy and successful year, not only for the Parliament, but also for the people of this country.
– I take this valuable opportunity to bring to the attention of the Government the disastrous effect on the Australian magazine industry of the lifting of the import restrictions on overseas magazines. I hope that tha Government will be able to give me an assurance which will make Christmas and the New Year happier andmore secure for those who are engaged in this vital Australian industry.
First of all, concerning the extent of the Australian industry which is menaced by the lifting of the restrictions on overseas publications, I point out that there are 407 newspapers and periodicals in Australia to-day, employing 14,868 people, to whom salaries totalling just on £14,000,000 a year are being paid. The value of the industry’s output last year was just over £51,000,000. In addition, the industry provided very great employment in associated fields such as paper-making, ink production, the manufacture and maintenance of machinery, transport, block-making and type-setting.
Australian magazines are an important part of the culture of this country. They have provided avenues for the wide use of Australian writing and artistic talent. Many Australian writers including such prominent persons as D’Arcy Niland, Jon Cleary and Frank Clune have developed the talents for which they have now become known throughout the world mainly through Australian magazines. If those magazines do not continue to exist we will not have the opportunity of developing future Australian literary and artistic talent.
To illustrate just what the presence of a healthy magazine industry means I instance the fact that one Australian publishing company has paid approximately £250,000 to Australian artists and writers in the last 14 years. But for the presence of Australian magazines, many promising local writers would have had nowhere to display their talents. There are more than 600 titles of magazines produced in Australia, ranging from comic books through general interest magazines, fiction magazines, special service magazines, such as those for the yachtsman, motorist, sportsman and outdoor man, up to important technical publications.
Many Australian magazines are now achieving circulations which, before the war, would not have been thought possible. The local publishing industry has expanded, with benefit to all, to keep pace with the country’s growth. Together with the development of Australian magazines - those specifically produced for the local market - there is the enterprise of publishing in Australia many overseas magazines which were formerly imported. Since the war, as in the automotive and household appliance field, many items of overseas origin have been and are being manufactured in Australia by Australians with Australian capital. That, applies also to publishing. The preparation - editing, typesetting, block-making and printing- by special arrangement; of many overseas magazines, particularly those from Amenca, has given employment to many thousands of people in the graphic arts industry and has represented considerable capital investment by the publishing companies. But, more than that, the reproduction of overseas magazines in Australia has given these companies the financial ability to continue the publication of Australian magazines and. to assist in the development of Australian talent.
In the last few years, as I think the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) will be the first to agree, specifically Australian magazines - those conceived in Australia - have reached a very high standard indeed. Some of them are now exported and have achieved satisfactory circulations against pretty strong competition in the United Kingdom. I think members of the House will be interested to know that many Australian magazines, to-day, are gaining a market in South Africa, the Middle East, the Far East and, of course, in New Zealand. The national publicity value of these publications must be rated very high and is one excellent way of letting people overseas understand and appreciate this country. The future of the whole of this industry is menaced by the complete lifting of the restrictions on the imports of publications.
The American Government clearly recognizes the importance of disseminating the American way of life and many American magazine exports obtain favoured treatment. In some cases, they actually receive sponsorship from the State Department of the United States Government. There are, indeed, Australian magazines which would be suited to tell the Australian story in other countries. But Australian publishers have had no encouragement and, in fact, have had many difficulties to overcome, especially currency difficulties.
Up to April of last year, magazines were prohibited from entering Australia except in the case of subscription copies. This measure, designed to conserve dollars, was changed in that month and magazine imports from dollar sources were divided, into two categories. In one, some titles were allowed almost free entry. These are what are known as the “ better “ class magazines and included many in the popular field. Thesecond - the B class magazines as they are known: - fiction, comics and escapist reading, were still prohibited. Apparently thoseauthorities in the Federal Government understood that many of the magazines in the prohibited field were, already being published in Australia and providing considerable employment.
Then, so far as I can see, for no apparent reason, the Budget freed all periodicals from dollar restrictions and, overnight, the important Australian publishing industry was faced with a most difficult situation. The honorable member for Parkes reminds me that we have already been flooded with American television films. Our attitude to life is being greatly influenced by the importation from America of TV films in large quantities, and it will be regrettable indeed if this Australian publishing industry, which is one way of keeping the Australian way of life healthy, should also be overcome by a flood of dumped American cheap, escapist literature.
American publishers who had been quite satisfied with the arrangements they had made for the printing and publication of their magazines in Austrafia acted immediately the Budget decision was announced. They gave 90 days’ notice of cessation of their agreements with Australian publishers and made arrangements to export their own printed copies to Australia. Whatever may be the individual opinion of the quality of some of the publications which are reprinted here - and my opinion of some of them - including some of the American comics - is not high, it is an important fact that they gave widespread and well-paid employment.
What is to happen? The Australian bookstalls will be flooded with material formerly printed here by Australian workmen. By allowing these publications to enter the country without restriction the Government has gained nothing. In fact, the Government has lost because many Australians will lose their employment and taxation revenue will fall.
The grim fact is that almost: every Australian publisher who has been reprinting in
Australia under licence now faces the imminent danger of ceasing publication altogether. Unemployment in the publishing industry is occurring as a result. It is occurring also in the block-making industry because the demand for printing blocks is greatly diminishing. Among other things, of course, as a result of this lifting of the restrictions, there will be a considerable falling-off in the demand for paper, much of which comes from Australian mills, as well as for inks, printing metals and so on.
A further very interesting aspect of this situation, but a very dangerous aspect of it in view of the lifting of the restrictions, is that all Australian publishers using this cheap American material under agreement have had to edit it heavily to make it conform to good taste and the laws of the various Australian States. [Extension of time granted.] Some of the stuff which comes from America to be reprinted in this country is outrageous by Australian standards. The Australian publishers have had the good sense to recognize this and have heavily edited it before publishing the Australian editions of these publications. But the material which will now flood in from America will doubtless contain many features which are antiethical to the Australian way of life and would previously have been edited or even discarded.
Although the Department of Customs and Excise will, no doubt, closely watch the censorship angle, the inescapable fact is that much of the material appearing in many American magazines now beginning to flood into this country is of a considerably lower standard than that which would be permitted by an Australian publisher of what could be described as the Australian version. The Australian reader has not been deprived of the material which will now enter freely from America. He has been able to get, through the Australian publisher, the magazines he wants to buy. But the Government has created a position in which Australia has now to spend unnecessary dollars and, at the same time, many workers who have been engaged in the production of these magazines, stand to lose their jobs.
There is another important point affecting the Australian writer and artist. Many of these publishers being forced out of business also produce Australian books using local material. Because of the lack of this important source of additional revenue, that is the money that they receive by the republishing of American publications, they will now have to give up their Australian publishing activities also. Thus, the Australian writer and artist will have a diminishing market for his creative skill.
One Australian publishing company employs more than 250 people. It uses more than £90,000 worth of block engravings a year. The new import policy will reduce the amount spent with engravers by about £40,000 a year, will cut paper usage by nearly 100 tons a month and involve reductions in staff. The Australian Journalists Association and other organizations concerned with the employment and wellbeing of their members, are naturally seriously concerned by these threats to their prosperity. The newsagents’ federation is also anxious and recently issued a circular to members referring to the great number of magazines which will now come in from the United States of America. It tells newsagents -
Australian publishing must be kept well and truly alive. Domestic publications must continue to be channelled through newsagencies - and to sell them you must display.
That is a very fine, healthy and patriotic attitude on the part of the Australian newsagents. It is hard to find a reason why the A and B categories of periodical imports which applied since April last year should not be re-applied. Under these categories, Australian readers had access to every publication, whether the Australian edition or the original imported edition.
A most serious thought is the certainty that, unless restricted by prompt action by the Australian Government, back-dated American periodicals will be allowed unrestricted entry. Many of them are of a very low class indeed. This will be completely destructive to the Australian industry.
– Many of them are good class, too.
– Yes, but not the kind I am now referring to. Already chain stores in this country are bidding for American news-stand returns - that is, the magazines the American public did not wish to buy - at fantastically low prices. Comics are being bought for one cent a copy and ordinary magazines at eight cents. This will enable them to sell in Australia these cheap American pulp magazines at less than the cost of the paper they use. This is quite clearly an impossible competition for the Australian industry to meet.
– Order! The honorable member’s extended time has expired.
.- The subject on which I wish to speak is covered by a word which I believe is the most hackneyed in Australia but describes one of our greatest objectives. The word is “ decentralization “. Why are we unable to decentralize our population in this country? That is one question. The next question I ask is: Has it become a tragedy in this country, in this atomic age, and as far as its economy is concerned, that most of our population is concentrated in a few cities on our seaboard?
That is the first “question. Why are we unable to bring about decentralization? I believe the answer is that our approach to decentralization is of too general a nature. There is nothing definite or objective about it. Let me give a very homely illustration to show how lack of definiteness ends by producing no results. If I said to a man, “ Come and see me sometime up at my home in Boort “, he would probably take that as just a generality, and would not visit me. But if I said to him, “ Come and see me on Tuesday “, giving him a definite date, he may come and visit me. We must be definite about things if we want results.
So I suggest that this Parliament and the State Parliaments, in order to gain what should be our objectives in decentralization, should do something definite about the matter. With that object in view, during the sitting of this House I addressed a question to the Prime Minister on the subject. I have not a copy of the question with me. because this is an impromptu speech, but its effect was as follows: It. is generally known that the States and the Commonwealth regard the concentration of population on our seaboard as a tragedy. Will the Prime Minister, therefore, convene a meeting of the Commonwealth and the States to discuss decentralization, with the object of taking some definite action about it? The Prime Minister’s answer to that question was that he did not consider it was necessary to have a special meeting on the subject, because at the Premiers’ Conference every year all sorts of matters were discussed, and decentralization could be discussed there. I want to ask now whether decentralization has been discussed, as a definite matter of importance, at a Premiers’ Conference. Members of the Opposition are calling out “ No “, and I think that on this occasion I can thoroughly agree with them.
Let me put it this way: As far as I know there has never been any definite discussion about, or approach to, decentralization at a Premiers’ Conference. The subject may have been spoken about in. passing, but no definite proposals on it. have ever been before a Premiers’ Conference.
What is the first definite thing we can. do about decentralization? We can calf a meeting of the Commonwealth and the States. What can the meeting do? Will it. just discuss decentralization in a generalway without having any definite objectivebefore it, and without any definite actionbeing taken? If that happens, the meeting, will be a complete loss. So, first, I put forward the suggestion that each Staterun a competition to select the area in ‘the State, surrounding a town, which has the. greatest potential for decentralization. It is of no use trying to dencentralize people to places that have no potential for decentralization. The area must have the best possible water supply, and good soil for the growing of primary products for export. It must have many other things that are necessary if a place is to be suitable for decentralization.
Now, there are held in this country competitions in which awards are made to towns which have the best garden features, the best architecture, and so on. I believe that one town in each State, which can show that it has the best potential for decentralization, should be the object of the combinedwork of the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments by becoming, if I may put it this way, a centre for decentralization in that State. Once the area was given more population and sufficient financial help it very soon would be able to develop under its own power. The scheme could then be extended to include another area in the State. I believe that in this way we could ‘get some genuine decentralization under way.
What could the Commonwealth Government do in this regard? It would be impossible to name one Commonwealth department that could not help in a decentralization policy directed towards one particular area in each State. If the Commonwealth appointed a liaison officer to co-ordinate the activities of all the Commonwealth departments in respect of such a decentralization scheme as I have suggested, some very definite action would be the result. At the same time, the State Governments could appoint liaison officers to co-ordinate the work of State departments, and also to co-ordinate Commonwealth and State activities under the scheme. Something a State could do, for instance, would be to allow, for a certain initial period, lower rail freights to operate for the selected area, until that area was able to attract more population and to develop. If the State Ministers for Agriculture were able to give certain inducements for the production of certain primary goods whose export could be facilitated in some way by the Minister for Trade, so that they would have a favorable and profitable sale overseas, the selected area in each State could be helped to be developed rapidly. However, all those things would have to be properly coordinated as between departments in both the Commonwealth and State spheres, and as between the Commonwealth and States as a whole.
It is of no use trying to decentralize people from city areas if they do not want to be decentralized. A story was told recently of a man in Melbourne who had been out of work for some time. Some one said to him: “ I have a job for you. A house goes with it, and the pay is better than you were getting before.” The unemployed man said that that was the best news he had heard in the three or four months since he had lost his former employment, and asked where the job was. When he was told that it was at Wangaratta he said, “ I’m not going there! “ What is the use of trying to decentralize people who do not want to move from the cities in which they live? Instead of trying to move people holus-bolus out of cities like Brisbane or Sydney, in which they want to stay, you have to get hold of people who want to go out in to the country and make new lives for themselves.
If the Commonwealth Government and the State governments got together in a special conference with the genuine objective of achieving an integrated policy of decentralization, there is not the slightest doubt that we could achieve greater decentralization. I think that every member in the House, and practically everybody in the country, realizes that decentralization is necessary. The point is, do the political parties want it? Does a man who represents a metropolitan electorate in Melbourne want to lose some of his electors to a country area? He might not mind that happening but, of course, a man who had just started a corner shop in that electorate would not like to see the population drifting away to the country.
I realize that the suggestion I will now make will probably please neither the Liberal Party nor the Australian Labour Party. I have long advocated that the way to make decentralization work is through our electoral laws. I have often said that the electoral commissioners have the right, every time a redistribution of electorates is made, to provide a quota for an electorate that can be 20 per cent, on either side of the normal quota of 40,000. They can draw the boundaries of an electorate so that they embrace between 32,000 and 48,000 electors. It is open for them to go to either extreme. If the three commissioners exercised their right to draw boundaries in accordance with those margins, the effect would be to decentralize political representation. After all, if you want to decentralize people you have to decentralize the amenities that go with greater political representation. I suggest that if you had 48,000 electors in each metropolitan electorate and 32,000 electors in each decentralized area in the country, you would have better representation in the country and, of course, not quite so good representation as before in the cities. But in a metropolitan electorate you would still have a reasonable balance of political representation for the whole area. If the Victorian Government was able to build a satellite city at
Dandenong, Thomastown or Broadmeadows, surely they can build some much more widely decentralized towns and attract population to them.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
I think 1 shall take advantage of this opportunity to express my deep appreciation of the kindly references made to me by the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Minister for Trade. I want to say that as far as I am concerned, knowing my own limitations, I am very grateful for the tolerance and the understanding of all members during my occupancy of this- office, and I hope that in future we all will still be able to get along well together and, above all, get the business of the House through and so expedite the work of the Parliament as a whole.
As to the staff of the House, I, too, would like to express my great appreciation to Mr. Turner and his colleagues for the loyalty and the efficiency that they have always shown to me since I have been associated with my present office. We all know that Mr. Turner came into office with a complete promoted staff. In addition to that, he had the great responsibility of organizing the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference which was held in Canberra early this month. Any one who has been close to him or associated with the job will realize just how much work was entailed in organizing that conference. He and his staff have done an excellent job. They have maintained the standard of efficient service in this place set by their predecessors. I have every confidence that the Clerk and those around him will continue to maintain that standard in the future.
I would like to thank the members of “ Hansard “ for their loyalty and cooperation in carrying out the responsible task they have to perform in this Parliament.
To my old friend, the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Bowden), who unfortunately had a medical appointment this morning and could not be with us, and to the temporary chairmen of committees, I extend my thanks for the excellent job they have all done in assisting me in the conduct, management and control of the House. 1 and all members of this House are grateful to everybody associated with the service of this place, from the front step to the cook-house, for what they have done during the last year. I express my appreciation of their loyalty, tolerance .and cooperation.
Now let me say something on behalf of the members of the staff, because they have no opportunity to speak for themselves in this place. Let me say how much they will all appreciate the friendly references that have been made by distinguished members of this chamber this morning. 1 want to say how grateful they are to all honorable members for their tolerance, their understanding and their co-operation in the problems that beset them. They derive a great deal of pleasure from serving in this place, and they hope that the standards of friendship and the dignity of Parliament that have been established in this chamber will be maintained. They will do everything within their ability to see that this is done.
Let me say a word of praise to my friends of the press. During my occupancy of this office I have had nothing but the greatest co-operation from those who control the press gallery. There may have been one or two misdemeanours over the period, but we are all prepared to turn a blind eye now and again.
I thank you all for what you have done and what you have said this morning. I am sure I am expressing the appreciation of the whole of the staff and everybody associated with Parliament when I acknowledge the kindly references that have been made to them.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.15 p.m.
– During the course of the remarks that were made before the luncheon adjournment, I had intended, if opportunity had offered, to say a few words of appreciation of the work of members of the press gallery. To some extent you, Mr. Speaker, may have stolen my thunder there. It is true to say that the democratic institution of Parliament can function effectively only while the proceedings of the Parliament are made readily known to people throughout the country. Those who, in the course of their employment, are required to report the proceedings ot the Parliament, either- through press or radio, have a very heavy responsibility. Mr. Speaker, I would think that those who by tradition sit above Mr. Speaker do not always please every member of the Parliament with their reporting, but in fairness every one would say that, in the main, the Parliament is truly and faithfully reported by the press.
We may not agree with the emphasis that is at times placed on certain aspects of debate, but I think that the press probably reflects the attitude of the people and is fulfilling a requirement of the people, lt is noted here that, in a heavy debate, the galleries very frequently empty; but they fill and remain filled when there is a lively discussion going on within the House. I would like to place on record my appreciation and my expression of good will to those members of the press gallery who are within the Parliament but not of the Parliament, but whose work contributes very much to the effective working of the Parliament in that it carries the proceedings of the Parliament, by press and radio, to the people of Australia.
.- So that we can conclude on a much more generous note than that of Ebenezer Scrooge, I should like briefly to express my thanks to the many members from both sides of the House who have assisted me in my first year in the .Parliament. It is not easy to take one’s place amongst such distinguished company as this, and I appreciate the help that has come to me from all members, and particularly from the staff. I extend the seasons greetings to you, Sir, and to all members of the House, even to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who is absent at the moment, to whom I recommend that excellent record, “The Man who did not believe in Christmas “.
.- I was trying to get the call before the luncheon suspension, but I failed to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker. Had I succeeded I had intended to take the Government to task for the role it has played in frustrating the efforts of Qantas Empire Airways Limited to build an hotel in Sydney. I have given this matter a good deal of thought, and I have decided to leave the main burden of criticism of the Government until the New Year. The Government will by then have had time to review its programme. Australia would benefit if an hotel of international standards were built in Sydney for Qantas Empire Airways Limited. We know that the Wentworth Hotel, which is owned or controlled by Qantas, is not adequate and does not conform to international standards. That is all I have to say on this subject at the moment.
We are approaching the Christmas season, and this should be a time of goodwill. I am only a young member of the Parliament, and I have enjoyed the twelve months that I have spent here. I humbly thank the electors of Reid for having given me the opportunity to express my views on problems that arise in my electorate, in Australia as a whole and in the international sphere. I believe that two conferences held recently in Australia have been of great significance to world peace. The first, is the conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, which was held in this chamber. I, with other honorable members, attended the conference I was here for five of the six days on which the conference was held, and I think I attended more meetings of the association, possibly, than did some of the delegates. I did that because I have a strong feeling for world problems, as they affect world peace and economic welfare. Not many solutions to economic problems were offered at the conference. I was fortunate enough to hear speeches on world peace and disarmament given by such men as Earl Attlee. He made an impromptu speech which was one of the greatest speeches ever delivered in this chamber, and possibly in Australia. It was a great fighting speech, delivered off-the-cuff and right from the heart. I hope that the delegates learned something from the speech and that they decided, on their return to their Parliaments, to work along the lines suggested by Earl Attlee.
I listened to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) when he spoke on economic questions. I did not like his presentation very much, but I was rather taken with his summing up. I thought that it was a particularly good summing up, and I hope that, in his role of Treasurer, he will adhere to some of the principles he outlined to the conference. In a way, he offered a solution to some of the problems of the backward nations of the Commonwealth and of the world. In my view, we in this country must look beyond our shores. The concept of the welfare state is appropriate not only to Australia, but also to many other countries, and unless we are prepared to make sacrifices and to share our prosperity with the backward countries, we will not have any chance of achieving world peace. Certain honorable members talk about a so-called red bogy. If men are honest with themselves, they will admit that we need not fear any red bogy in this country. But there are great masses to our north that are uncommitted. Unless we make some great effort, we cannot help to solve their problems. Many people point to the Colombo Plan; but we are just scratching the surface with it. We must make greater sacrifices, and make greater contributions to these people, no matter what criticism is offered, even by the recipients of our aid.
The other conference I should like to mention is the Melbourne peace conference. I attended it just as a rank and file member of the Australian Labour Party. My executive decided that every member of the Labour Party had a right to attend, if he wished to do so. I know that many supporters of the Labour Party felt that the smears and innuendoes of the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) were unjustified. I see that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) is present in the chamber. The suggestion that Communists attended the peace conference in Melbourne is correct. But I want to say this: The conference was attended also by people from the field of liberal thought. Clergymen, members of the Australian Labour Party and people from many fields of thought were there. No matter what people say, 1 think that the declaration of hope that came out of that conference was not influenced by any one point of view. I do not think anybody wants to say that world problems to-day are caused by the United States of America or by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but I think we will all agree that we must have peaceful coexistence. We must solve our problems. Unless we do so it is not much use standing here as Christmas draws near and saying that we need to create goodwill to all men in all countries. We must get rid of distrust. We must stop beating the drums of war and start beating the drums of peace. We must strive to solve our problems.
From time to time in this House the red bogy has been trotted out by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) and the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). Although their remarks have at times upset me, I respected them before I came into this House and I still respect them. But while I am in this ring - as far as I am concerned this is a ring - I will fight within the rules laid down by Parliament. You, Mr. Speaker, have done a fine job. You have been kind to me as a new member. I will continue to fight within the rules with everything at my disposal. I will hit above the belt, but if any honorable member tries to hit me below the belt I will use a few tricks of the trade myself. I hope that in the coming year honorable members opposite will broaden their minds a little and cease to look for pink elephants under their beds every morning. They must realize that we live in one world. Our leaders in the international sphere, whether they are Communists, Fascists or anything else, are trying to settle the world’s differences, and we in this Parliament must do likewise.
.- No honorable member would doubt the sincerity of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) in his desire for peace. Nor do I believe that any honorable member can accuse any other honorable member, whereever he may sit, of being an advocate for war, particularly honorable members such as the honorable member for Reid, who suffered probably the worst conditions of warfare the world has seen since civilization began. But there are other things to be considered and, however much we may long for peace, I do not believe the time has arrived when we should accept peace at any price. People in all the free nations of the world should be prepared, if necessary, to sacrifice not only their own lives but also other lives if we believe that freedom itself is challenged. Whatever moves may be made at the summit or at any other level to achieve peace upon this earth, let us remember that the’ appropriate phrase is not “ peace on earth, goodwill to all men “ but “ peace on earth to men of goodwill “. What we need in the world to-day is more men of goodwill, not on our side of politics or on the side of the free world of politics, but on the side of those people who have threatened the peace of the world since the cessation of hostilities in 1945.
I want to refer to some of the eulogistic remarks passed by you, Mr. Speaker, in respect of those who have wished you well and those who have wished the staff of this Parliament well. It struck me that however much you may have praised the Clerk of the House, it is necessary to go one step further to show our appreciation of what the Clerk of the House does in the conduct of this Parliament’s business. I think some honorable members show an absolute lack of respect not only for officers of the Parliament but also for the functions of parliamentary government when the Clerk, who at times has to make announcements from his place on the floor of the House, is confronted with conversation from all sides so much so that it is often impossible to hear what he is saying in this House and even impossible to hear him on the air. If we are not careful we will destroy the very thing that we are here to protect - the system of parliamentary government in a democracy. Unless our conduct improves I believe the people will turn away from the system of parliamentary government as we know it. I wonder whether the broadcasting of Parliament is of any real value. It has been said that broadcasting of proceedings serves as a check against misreporting by newspapers, because people are able to listen to parliamentary debates and hear exactly what is said. But I challenge anybody, even the keen student of politics, to listen, for instance, to a second-reading debate with speeches occupying 30 minutes each without having his patience severely taxed. There should be no fear that the press will misreport proceedings, because Parliament is not answerable to the press. The press is answerable to Parliament. The press exists in the galleries by privilege, Sir, and if at any time this House considers that the press has abused that privilege, you have the right to withdraw it.
I think Parliament would be a far better place if the highlights of Parliament were broadcast. Many people who do not listen to Parliamentary debates to-day would be more impressed by those highlights than by the long arguments that are broadcast at present.
– Who would decide what were the highlights?
– I would consider the highlights of parliamentary life, since I have been here, to be, in the first place, question time. Other highlights could be speeches made not by Ministers but by members on the back benches on both sides of the House. The cost would be small, compared to the cost of broadcasting the full proceedings, to tape record the complete proceedings and then skilfully edit the recording. The editing could be done by a committee comprised of broadcasting, authorities and representatives of the Parliament. Such a committee would decide what the public should hear over a period of one or two hours. I do not think any honorable member would claim that the whole proceedings of Parliament are of interest to anybody. The broadcasting of parliamentary debates is an expensive process. In some States Parliament is broadcast to the detriment of other programmes, because the parliamentary broadcast monopolizes the land line.
A scheme such as I advocate may have another beneficial effect on honorable members. It is well known that there is a fight to speak at the golden hour between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. When this House is not on the air, speeches made here are far more interesting because honorable members are conscious of the fact that they are not on the air. They say what they want to say and sit down. This adjournment debate to-day was a surprise to us all and it has been very interesting to listen to the short speeches that have been made by honorable members. But many of us would not have stayed in the House if we had expected honorable members to speak for 30 minutes. Most honorable members to-day have said their piece and sat down. The broadcasting of Parliament is doing a lot to destroy respect for Parliament among the people of Australia.
I join with other honorable members in the expressions of goodwill that have been voiced to-day. I have had one disappointment, however. I felt sure that for the first time we might have seen the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) .dethroned from his position at the top of the question list. I saw with great disappointment that there was a dead-heat between the honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), each of whom logged 27 questions during this sessional period.
.- 1 am inclined to agree with one of the points that was raised by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney). I think that secondreading speeches are _ too long. Perhaps we could reduce the time for them to twenty minutes. I realize that the person listening to the broadcast of the parliamentary proceedings is in great difficulty in understanding what goes on. However. I think that the honorable member is perhaps playing himself down a little by his general approach to this matter. On the whole, he makes a fair contribution to the debates in this place and while, politically, he is always wrong, his method of delivery and the way in which he puts his speech together contribute a great deal to the generally high standard of debate. 1 do not believe that honorable members need be ashamed of their general approach to matters that come before us. They are, generally, well informed. People and organizations who are looking for some one to make a speech about any matter, are inclined to turn first to their federal member of Parliament.
My purpose in participating in this debate is to raise a matter which is complementary or supplementary to that which was raised last night by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), and this afternoon by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser). I refer to the development of Australian culture and the opportunities that are available for Australians to participate in cultural activities. The effect of television in the two major suburban areas of Melbourne and Sydney - certainly Melbourne - has been the almost complete abandonment of the motion picture-going habit. Quite a number of very good theatres in Melbourne are now on the market for sale. It would be a great pity if they were pulled down so that a service station or an industrial building could be erected. At present, one theatre in Coburg, which is in my electorate, is for sale. In all the large metropolitan areas there is an extreme shortage of public meeting places where people can get together for ordinary community activities, entertainment in the grand manner, and so. on.
I suggest that the Government gives serious consideration to the question or making finance available to municipalities or State governments to enable them to broaden their cultural activities. I know that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has a great interest in cultural matters. Perhaps he will be stirred to bring some force lo this appeal. Interest in this matter is so great in my electorate that on very short notice I received from the local citizenry a letter bearing 276 signatures asking me to approach the Government to see whether finance could be made available to the particular municipality or local cultural organization to enable it to purchase the theatre in Coburg. This is only one instance of opportunity knocking at the dom of every municipality in Melbourne to obtain premises in which to conduct cultural activities.
We must take steps to develop Australian cultural organizations so that the Australian people may have the opportunity to take part in these activities. For that reason I am bringing this matter before the House to put it on record. I have already written to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) about it. A great deal of money is not involved in the proposal. 1 suppose £15,000 or £20,000 would buy a building which would probably cost £30,000 or £40,000 to erect, If these buildings are removed, the community and prosperity will suffer a great loss.
Mr. Speaker, I should like to express our appreciation of the way in which you have performed your duties in this place, and lo wish all honorable members the compliments of the season. I do not think there is any honorable member in this chamber for whom I have not acquired a strong personal feeling in the four years in which I have been here. Of course,. I can only view with deep regret the political activities of some honorable members, but generally, the electors seem to have chosen a very good collection of people to send to this Parliament. We are our own public relations officers, and we should approach the people of Australia and let them know the way that we feel. Although we may disagree very strongly with the political activities of say, the honorable member tor Lilley (Mr. Wight), on the whole he is a very decent person. But that does not mean that he should not’ be removed from this place at the earliest possible time. Similarly, I wish all members of the Cabinet a very merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and a very early, long and successful retirement.
.- 1 support the remarks that have been made by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney). I do not believe that broadcasting the parliamentary proceedings is in the best interests of the Parliament. Indeed, if the proceedings were not being broadcast to-day we would have received legislation from another place much quicker than we can expect to receive it. Broadcasting gives the wrong impression of the Parliament. A great deal of good work is done by honorable members on both sides of this House. I should like to refer to the remarks that were made by my friend and comrade, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren;. However we might disagree in politics, we have had mutual experiences and have a mutual affection and respect for each other. Although he may not be in the ring, he will fight with all the weapons at his command. But he is shadow boxing, and he will continue to do so while he remains a member of the Australian Labour Party.
He has assured us that there is no subversive movement within the Labour Party.
– Mr. Speaker, I direct your attention to the state of the House. (Mr. Speaker having proceeded to count the House)-
– I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the honorable member for Corio left the chamber after J had directed your attention to the state of the House.
– Order! The SerjeantatArms will return the honorable member for Corio to his place in the chamber.
– I rise to order. 1 do not think, Mr. Speaker, that you had directed that the bells be rung before the honorable member for Corio left the chamber.
-The attention of the Chair had been directed to the state of the House. The honorable member for Corio was not within his rights in retiring after a quorum had been called-. A quorum is now present.
– I rise to order. 1 understand that Mr. Speaker Cameron gave a ruling to the effect that if, during a debate on the motion to adjourn, an honorable member directed Mr. Speaker’s attention to the state of the House, the business of the House was concluded automatically and the House adjourned.
– Order! 1 am unaware of any such interpretation of the Standing Orders.
– Mr. Speaker, I desire to make a personal explanation.
– Order! The honorable member may make his personal explanation when the honorable member for Hume has concluded his remarks. I call the honorable member for Hume.
– The honorable member for Reid assured us that there is no subversive movement within the Australian Labour Party. I quite agree. I do not think anybody believes that there is, although we feel that the Labour Party has been used by the Communists as the willing horse. The honorable member, in referring to the recent peace conference in Melbourne, said that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) had smeared it by calling it a Communist congress. Why should it be a smear to call it a Communist congress? Was it subversive? The honorable member for Reid, who has just completed his first year of service in this House, is, I think, definitely a popular member. He always fights a case very well. The only time when I find him unpopular is on occasions when he insists on speaking after 12 midnight during debate on motions for the adjournment of the House.
I should like to say one thing about yourself, Mr. Speaker. You have always been very fair and quite determined in your control of the House. The respect and popularity with which you are regarded have been earned by the direct methods which you employ in controlling the proceedings of this House. I hope that, in the future, you will continue in the same way and that you will look straight to your friends at question time.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr. Speaker, concerning my rapid exit from the House just before a quorum was called for. I was not aware that it had been called for, but I was anxious to observe the forms of the House and to have the requisite number of members in attendance. I think it is generally known that the Whips have that duty and obligation on their shoulders all the time. I thought that I was beating the gun when I left the chamber. I am sorry that I did not beat it and that it was necessary to return me to the jurisdiction of the House, particularly in view of the harmonious atmosphere which obviously prevails here this afternoon.
– I think it is a case of putting the spurs into the willing horse.
.- Mr. Speaker, when the House adjourns to-day - at least, I hope that we shall conclude our business to-day - we shall almost have come to the end of the first decade of the enlarged Parliament and of the first decade in the history of this Parliament during which Australia has had, throughout, one government under the same Prime Minister. We are almost at the end of what has been, possibly, the most spectacular decade of development in this history of Australia. Not only has our population increased during this last decade at a rate more rapid than ever before, but also the increase in the prosperity of the Australian people, individually and collectively, has been the greatest in our history. I feel that, as we approach the point at which we say farewell to this decade, we should at least extend our congratulations to the Government. I really thought, when the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) rose to address the House earlier in this debate, that he intended to congratulate this Government, which is a coalition of the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party, on the way in which the two parts of the coalition have worked together in such complete harmony for very nearly a decade, thereby giving to Australia the greatest period of parliamentary government in its history.
I should like to take this opportunity, Sir, to make special reference to a member of the staff of this House whose name has not been specifically mentioned in any of the eulogistic references to the work which has been done by those who serve us. I want to direct attention particularly to the excellent work of Mr. Gordon Pike, who is transport officer for the House of Representatives.
– Let us hope that he is working well now.
– I think that even the honorable member for Wills is motivated by kindly feelings to-day. I am sure he will agree that Gordon Pike, as we know him, has gone well beyond the bounds of duty in his efforts to ensure that the best possible service is given to each and every member of this House, not only in the making of travel arrangements generally, but also in adequately providing for the needs of members in many ways, and especially by making it possible for them to return to their homes as speedily as possible at the close of sittings. I think that the standard of service which we have received from this officer has surpassed anything that we have known in the past in this field, and that his efforts merit special mention.
In saying these things, Sir, I do not wish in any way to detract from the fine service which has been given to us by every other member of the parliamentary staffs, not only those who serve in this chamber, but also those who labour in the refreshment rooms, and in the other parts of this building, as was mentioned earlier - places such as the bar and the other service sections.
I think that we have been very fortunate in the service which we have received.
Mostly, we have been a very happy lot in the decade since the end of 1949. I endorse the remarks made by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), who said that there had grown up in this Parliament feelings of mutual respect, not only among members of the same party, but among all the members of the Parliament. Until to-day, we on this side of the House even believed that the honorable member for East Sydney had mellowed and that he was going to be one of the boys. We still think that he has mellowed to some degree, and we felt that he raised problems this morning, as he generally does during debate on motions for the adjournment of the House, as part of an act, because he believed that he should run true to form and that, if he did not take this course, he would feel that the session had been incomplete for him.
May I conclude, Mr. Speaker, by extending to you very best wishes for the festive season. I sincerely hope that, when we return after the Christmas recess, you and the Government will embark on a second decade of parliamentary achievement throughout which the present Government will continue in office and will continue to give to the people of Australia government of the high standard that they have enjoyed for the last decade.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask for leave of the House to withdraw the motion. At this point, I should like to indicate what it is intended shall be done with regard to the remainder of to-day’s sitting, and to outline our forward prospects. It is necessary for the motion now before the House to be withdrawn in order that I may proceed to put the formal motions necessary to enable honorable members to be called together, if need be, on a future occasion, and also to enable leave of absence to be granted to us all over the interval should that future occasion be remote, though, at the moment, that does not appear likely.
The Senate is continuing its review of legislation which has been passed to it from this House. It appears unlikely that that review will be concluded to-day - or, at least, by a time which would meet the convenience of honorable members of this House. Indeed, this is more than a matter of inconvenience. I am quite certain that we all should be willing to remain here more or less indefinitely if there were any prospect of finality being reached. But my examination of the position during the suspension of the sitting for luncheon has given no hope of an early termination of the Senate’s consideration of the legislation now before it. Consequently, with the approval of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), I propose a course of action which I hope the House will endorse.
After the formal motions which I have already mentioned have been put, the motion for the adjournment of the House will be put in a manner which will enable our proceedings to be carried through to finality. My own assessment of the probabilities is that any necessary review by this House of changes which the Senate may make in legislation which has gone to it from this place will be arranged to take place on the afternoon of Thursday of next week. It is probable that that will be necessary, although it is not certain as yet. It is for this reason that I shall shortly put a motion in general terms requiring honorable members to return here at the date and time to be notified for the next sitting. If we do not need to meet next Thursday, we shall meet in the New Year, though not early in the New Year. On my present planning, I should not expect the House to meet in February, having regard to the late date at which Easter falls next year. It is more likely that the date fixed for the next meeting will be some time early in March. Members may find it helpful to have that in their minds at this time.
If, on the other hand, we do find that there are matters which, as a result of Senate action, call for prompt treatment by us, I think that, rather than ask members to return next Tuesday with, perhaps, the possibility that the Senate will not have completed its consideration of the legislation now before it and other measures awaiting its attention, the more convenient and safer course is to have members come back on the afternoon of the Thursday. That is what we propose to do.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
House adjourned at 2.56 p.m. to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 November 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1959/19591127_reps_23_hor25/>.