23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Can the
Minister for Labour and National Service say what plans are in hand in his department to extend and improve technical training facilities for the young people of Australia who will be reaching employment age within the next decade? In view of the industrial problem, which is becoming more serious as time goes on, posed by the shortage of skilled and semi-skilled workers, and the ever-increasing need for a rapidlyexpanding technical work force in a developing country when technological advances in production are constantly being made, will the Minister consider convening a meeting of his ministerial counterparts on the State level, with the object of developing a national plan for technical training adequate to ensure that Australia’s requirements in skilled and semi-skilled workers over the next decade will be met?
– As to the first part of the honorable member’s question, I am sure the States fully understand the problem that will arise because of the large increase in the number of youths who will be moving into the work force in the next few years. I am sure that the States realize that adequate technical training will have to be provided if this problem is to be solved. The honorable member knows that technical training and education generally are primarily matters for the States themselves. I am very glad to be able to tell him that in New South Wales the vote for education this year has been increased by £5,500,000, and that in Victoria the vote has been increased by £7,800,000. In both those States the vote for education showed a larger proportionate increase than any of the other votes. I can assure the honorable gentleman that the technical colleges, which provide the technical training that he says is so necessary, will benefit from the increased funds made available in the same way as the other educational institutions will benefit. I think the Commonwealth Government is doing all it can to provide the States with the necessary funds.
In the second part of his question the honorable member asked whether I would convene a conference. The States are fully aware of the problem arising from the increase in the number of youths approaching employment age. I will consider whether there is any necessity to call the conference suggested, but I say this to the honorable member, who is a trade union leader: One of the questions that must be answered when we are considering this matter of technical training is whether the present apprenticeship system should continue. We think that the system should be reviewed, and that there should be a change of attitude on the part of many trade unions. I hope the honorable member will exercise his well-known authority and influence in an endeavour to effect a change of heart in some of the trade unions that are at present resisting suggestions that the present system should be fully examined.
– Can the Minister for Trade inform the House of the extent of the reduction by Japan of the amount of foreign exchange made available for the purchase of wool? Is this reduction due to a build-up of stocks of wool in Japan or to the growing use of synthetics or to some other reason? Can the right honorable gentleman give the House an estimate of the effect on wool prices of reduced Japanese buying?
– I wish I could give an estimate, based on any criterion, of the future level of wool prices, but that I cannot do. I will find out for the honorable member the exact exchange allocation proposed by the Japanese Government, whether it is in terms of money or bales of wool; but I think it is in terms of wool as related to the exchange allocation for the previous comparable period. It is my understanding - and I am sure I speak correctly in this - that there has been no arranged contraction of Japanese buying and that the exchange allocation is the result of the understanding of what Japanese mills can take, having regard to the level of their production, and the stocks in hand. Therefore, I would think that the reduced allocation will not of itself diminish the Japanese competition in our auction rooms. On the other hand, Japanese authorities have announced that as from, I think, March, 1961, there will be no further exchange allocations for wool buying. There will be unrestricted exchange facilities from March next year,
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Army. If two soldiers serving side by side in a combined Army training exercise are simultaneously and similarly injured in an accidental explosion, and one soldier is a member of the Citizen Military Forces and the other a Regular Army man, why is it that the Regular Army soldier remains on full pay until he can return to duty, whilst the C.M.F. man receives Commonwealth compensation only, which is less than the Regular Army pay for even the lowest rank?
– This matter is not, of course, controlled by the Department of the Army. It is administered by the Treasury. The C.M.F. soldier is entitled under the Commonwealth Compensation Act to certain rights, and of course the regular soldier is provided for under the Defence Act.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry been directed to the statement by the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Nott, that he could not understand the Commonwealth Government’s delay in making public the report of the Australia-wide inquiry into the dairy industry, and that this was delaying and retarding certain action that the State Government might otherwise take? In the light of Mr. Nott’s statement, has the Minister for Primary Industry any information that he can give the House?
– I have seen the statement attributed to Mr. Nott, and I am glad that he has shown a distinct interest in the report that has been presented to the Commonwealth Government, and that he is awaiting its release. The report is very voluminous and Cabinet is still studying it. I hope to make an announcement in the near future.
– I direct a question to the Acting Attorney-General about the Crimes Bill. The honorable gentleman will know that the principal act permits an offence, although declared to be indictable, to be tried without a jury if it relates to property, the value of which does not exceed £50. I ask the Minister whether, while the bill remains on the stocks - to use the Prime Minister’s phrase - for the Government to consider any suggested amendments, he will provide that only juries will try persons charged with the re-defined crimes of sabotage, espionage and breach of official secrets which, in nearly all cases of espionage and official secrets, and many cases of sabotage, would concern materials and articles worth less than £50.
– I should like to inform the House that every reasonable criticism or suggestion that I have heard relating to the amending Crimes Bill, which is now before the House, has been tabulated, with the relevant comments beneath it, and I am taking the precaution of sending this information, together with my own and the department’s comments, to the AttorneyGeneral in New York, with a copy for the Prime Minister.
The honorable gentleman’s suggestion relates to the original act, or perhaps to amendments of that act. The suggestion is well worthy of consideration and I shall include it in the next letter that I write to the Attorney-General.
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Army been directed to a statement which was made by the general manager of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited to the effect that any employee of the company would be given fourteen days leave each year on full pay to attend a Citizen Military Forces camp or school? Will the Minister inform the House whether co-operation by some employers in this regard is now more favorable to the building up of the volunteer Citizen Military Forces than it has been in the past?
– I have read the announcement to which the honorable member has referred and I am delighted with it. I think that it is indicative of the attitude that many employers are adopting to the volunteer C.M.F. It must .be appreciated that since we have suspended national service training we depend entirely upon a volunteer citizen army. That imposes, I think, a responsibility on all employers in Australia to co-operate.
It is very pleasing to know that not only the Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Government but also the Queensland Government will give leave of absence on full pay to their employees when they attend a camp. I understand that the other State governments, too, are giving favorable consideration to this matter. This is very encouraging and should give a lead to some employers who still have not agreed to co-operate. I think that if those employers look at the matter in the light of the need to build up our national defence they all will co-operate in this very necessary work.
– I address my question to the Minister for Supply. In view of the impending debate on the defence estimates will the Minister make a statement now, or at least prior to the debate, concerning the future of the aircraft industry? The present uncertain position is causing grave concern to employees who fear that substantial retrenchments will be made in the absence of any fresh programme of work.
– It is not possible at this stage to make such a statement as has been requested by the honorable member. However, I shall have a look at the matter within the next few days to see what can be said in relation to it.
– Why can you not make a statement?
– The Leader of the Opposition knows that the question of a replacement fighter aircraft is under consideration. This could have some effect on the future of the industry in Australia.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether the interstate executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions has submitted to the State trades and labour councils a recommendation that compulsory political levies should not be imposed. Can the Minister inform the House of the attitude of the Waterside Workers Federation towards the A.C.T.U. recommendation? Has the federation taken any action in this matter?
– The problem of compulsory political levies was referred by the interstate executive of the A.C.T.U. to the various State trades and labour councils. Yesterday the federal council of the Waterside Workers Federation -
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Is the attitude of the Waterside Workers Federation a matter that comes under the control of the Minister for Labour and National Service?
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– I repeat that this matter was referred to the State trades and labour councils, four of which endorsed the recommendation of the interstate .executive. I have been informed that yesterday the federal council of the Waterside Work;r’s Federation decided to abandon compulsory political levies and that it will direct its 54 constituent branches that in future they are not to make compulsory levies of this kind. I think that is consistent with the decision made by the A.C.T.U. I am not yet aware of the exact terms of the resolution. I shall endeavour to obtain a copy and, if I can do so, I will let the House know the exact terms of the resolution.
Mr- THOMPSON.- I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation: Will he take up with his colleague the question of the difference between the treatment accorded to the wife of an age or invalid pensioner and that accorded to the wife of a service pensioner? At the present time, the wife of an invalid pensioner, if she is under 60 years of age, is entitled to an allowance of 35s. a week, and the wife of an age pensioner, if she is under 60 years of age, is also granted an allowance of 35s. a week if her husband is, in effect, equal to an invalid, or if he is over 70 years of age, when no medical examination is necessary, whereas the wife of a service pensioner is not entitled to the allowance unless her husband is totally incapacitated, no matter what his age. Will consideration be given to this matter with a view to putting the wives of service pensioners on a basis of equality at any rate with the wives of age pensioners?
– I have no doubt that this matter has been considered by my colleague, but I shall take it up with him and obtain an answer for the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for
Territories a question relating to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I understand that it will raise some constitutional problems. Will consideration be given to the provision of a seat in this Parliament for an elected native member representing Papua and New Guinea, with voting rights similar to those exercised by the member for the Northern Territory and the member for the Australian Capital Territory?
– I am sure that the honorable member for Darling Downs will realize that the constitutional situation of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory is quite different from that of Papua and New Guinea and that the development of those Territories is likely to be rather different from that of Papua and New Guinea. So I would suggest that no exact analogy can be drawn. The question he has asked involves both legal and policy questions, on neither of which I am in a position to make a clear statement, but I should say that at the present time the suggestion implied in his question is not under consideration.
– I ask the Minister for Health: Is he aware that the Playford Government has made pensioners in South Australia liable to a charge of 60s. a day for hospital treatment at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and that the requirement of two months’ membership of a hospital benefit organization before qualifying for payment from the organization and for full government benefit is causing financial hardship to pensioners? Will he consider amending the regulations to provide that pensioners shall become entitled to full government hospital benefit immediately they join a hospital benefit organization?
– I am not aware of the details of any arrangements made in this matter by any State government. Of course, to take the step of abolishing the waiting period within which benefits are not paid would be gravely to imperil the stability of the funds. I do not think that that suggestion can be entertained.
– I direct my question to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and I preface it by stating that the Norco Co-operative Limited butter company, in my electorate, has asked the organization to send rain-making aircraft to the drought-stricken areas of north-eastern New South Wales when cloud formations suitable for seeding are present. This request is made because a rain-making aircraft is at present stationed on the Darling Downs, only a short distance away, and the co-operative is prepared to contribute towards meeting the expense of the operation. Has the Minister received this request and, if so, has he considered it?
– I have not myself received the request which the honorable member has mentioned, but I understand that a suggestion of this nature has been sent to the executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. During the present severe drought in Queensland and northern New South Wales, and before this request was made, I had discussed with the executive and the technical officers of the C.S.I.R.O. the question of the making available of aircraft to seed clouds. I think I ought to say that the whole question has been very carefully considered. The organization has three rain-making aircraft. They are engaged in a long-term experiment in seeding clouds in order to augment the rainfall from them. The technical and scientific officers and all concerned consider that it would be highly undesirable to interrupt these experiments, which depend for their success on a proper evaluation of statistics that must be collected over a long period of uninterrupted experiments so that data may be compiled in a continuous sequence and properly interpreted in order that we may get an answer which will indicate the value of the procedure. The whole thing is still in the experimental stages.
In Queensland, as part of the general experiment, an aircraft is stationed at Oakey, on the Darling Downs. As part of this experiment, during the recent dry weather that aircraft has seeded various clouds which have appeared over the downs - I regret to say, without success. It is considered in the best interests of the farmers and the country generally that the whole experiment be carried through to a conclusion and properly evaluated instead of being interrupted by what one may describe as random attempts to produce rain here and there. I am sorry to have to tell the honorable member for Richmond that the distance from Oakey to the area of his electorate is beyond the range of the only available aircraft, and therefore I regret to say that this aircraft cannot be made available for the purpose which he has in mind.
– I address my question to you, Mr. Speaker. In view of the alarming frequency of inaccurate and mischievous newspaper reports about proceedings in this place and about the activities of members, of which there was a particularly bad example in yesterday afternoon’s press, will you, first, consider varying the procedures of the House by asking, after you have called for petitions and before you call for questions without notice, whether there are any corrections to newspaper reports? Secondly, Sir, will you examine the membership of the press gallery of this House to see whether there are some members of it who are using the privilege of that membership for the purpose of subverting parliamentary government?
– I shall have a look at the question raised by the honorable member.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Defence a question which is supplementary to the one asked by the honorable member for St. George. If what the honorable member for St. George said was correct, will the Minister give consideration to eliminating the anomaly referred to and other anomalies so that, in the defence re-organization which is aimed at having one army, we shall not finish up by establishing what could be called a “ piebald force? “
– This matter of compensation, as was correctly stated by the Minister for the Army, is under the control of the Treasury. I think it was the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory who raised this matter with me some weeks ago. I took it up with the Treasurer and it is currently under discussion between the Service departments and the Treasury.
– Will the Minister for the Interior state what firm was the successful tenderer for the construction of the new Government Printing Office in Canberra? Is it a fact that another building construction organization, which has already carried out large-scale works for the Commonwealth, submitted a price which was some hundreds of thousands of pounds less than the successful tender? Will the Minister have a statement prepared and made available giving details of the tenders received, and will he say why the lowest tender was not accepted?
– Yes. I shall prepare a statement for the honorable member.
– Does the Acting Prime Minister and Acting Treasurer realize that considerable hardship is suffered by country people who have to travel regularly to capital cities for specialist medical treatment, and who are allowed as a deduction for income tax purposes the medical fee paid but not the cost of travel? Will the Minister get the Treasury to estimate the cost of allowing travelling expenses to be deductible in these special cases, and to ascertain whether such an arrangement could be adequately policed? Will the Minister, after receiving the report from the department, consider granting this concession?
– I shall arrange to have an examination made of the matter raised by the honorable member.
– Is it a fact that the report on the Australia-wide inquiry into the dairy industry has been available since last July, as stated by the Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales? Is it also a fact that the delay by the Minister for Primary Industry in making the report available is due to the fact that it contains very critical and damaging comments on the Government’s policy in regard to the dairy industry and that the Government is alarmed at the probable effects of the report on its election prospects, particularly in Calare?
– The answer to both questions of the honorable member is, “ No “. I received the report from the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry on 11th August, not in July. I am quite sure that when the honorable member sees the report he will see that the reverse of what he has suggested is the case.
– I wish to ask the Acting Attorney-General a question relating to the evidentiary provision which is found in section 78 of the Crimes Act, a section which is to be made ambivalent throughout the entire act. Has there ever been any judicial interpretation of this evidentiary provision? Will the honorable gentleman have the Attorney-General’s Department prepare a paper snowing the relationship, in the view of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, of this evidentiary provision with the onus of proof? I ask this question in view of the extravagant and apparently misguided views that are held on the onus of proof.
– I do not know whether there has been any judicial interpretation of the evidentiary portion of the Crimes Act, but I will obtain the information for the honorable gentleman and let him have it. The Attorney-General himself has pointed out that the onus of proof provision has not been changed in any respect, either in terms of action or of intent. I shall direct the Attorney-General’s attention to the honorable gentleman’s question, and I am sure he will deal with it during whatever debate takes place on the remainder of that bill.
– Has the Postmaster-General noted the comments made in the recently issued twelfth annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board that in the provision of children’s programmes a large number of commercial radio stations almost completely ignore their responsibilities under the rules regarding programme standards laid down by the board? Will he take appropriate action to ensure that licensees of radio stations comply with the standards laid down?
– Naturally, Mr. Speaker, I have read the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and its reference to the subject about which the honorable member has inquired. I have noticed also that some sections of the press have seen fit to highlight this matter, but they have not put it in its proper perspective. The board has from time to time consulted with various people as to the best type of programmes for children, and has tried to have prescribed standards generally accepted by the commercial stations and put into effect. It is true that sometimes the board has occasion to feel that programmes could be improved and widened in scope, but I can assure the honorable member for Batman that, in general, the commercial broadcasting stations co-operate very well with the board in regard to both technical matters and programme standards. If necessary, there will be further discussions on the report, and I shall myself keep in touch with any further developments touching the point raised by the honorable member.
– My question is directed to the Acting Prime Minister. I ask: Does the Australian Security Intelligence Organization operate under the same mandate as that under which it operated at the time of its establishment by the Chifley Government? Is its work confined to safeguarding the Commonwealth of Australia?
Can the right honorable gentleman give any reason for the consistent, continued attacks on this valuable organization by certain members of the Opposition in this chamber?
– I am not in a position to say whether the directive that governs the operations of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization is identical with that which was issued during the regime of the Chifley Government, but I am sure that it is substantially the same, and is probably identical. The function of the security service in this country, as is the function of similar services in all countries, is related exclusively to the well-being and security of the nation. It ill behoves any one to cast doubt upon the integrity of a security service which bears such a grave responsibility. It is certainly no contribution to ensuring the security of the country to cast doubts on the integrity of this service, which has a difficult job to perform.
Private Debenture Issue
– My question is directed to the Acting Prime Minister in his capacity as Acting Treasurer, and I preface it by saying that on 24th August the Treasurer made a statement to the House acknowledging the accuracy of statements made by me when I raised in a question the fact that the Commonwealth Trading Bank was exhibiting notices inviting subscriptions to debenture stock of the Hooker Finance Company Limited. As this subject is of very great importance to the loanraising programme of the Commonwealth, will the Acting Treasurer inquire what progress is being made with the review of the matter requested by the chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation? Will he also make wider inquiries into the activities of other trading banks and their associa-‘ tion with financial houses in raising funds, seeing that those activities conflict with the needs of the Commonwealth Government, State governments and local government and semi-government bodies, as well as the rural industries of this country?
– I remember that after the: honorable member first raised this question, the Treasurer made an explanatory statement in the House. I think he said he would make some further inquiries in regard to the matter. In that explanatory statement he said, I believe, that whatever procedures were followed in the Commonwealth. Bank were common to all the trading banks.
– “ Hansard “ does not quite bear that out.
– I would not challenge that, because I admit that I am drawing on my memory, which I thought was reliable in this regard. But if my colleague said he would have further inquiries made of the Commonwealth Trading Bank I am perfectly sure that the undertaking will be honoured in the spirit. My colleague will be back here in a few days’ time and no doubt will be able to deal with the matter personally. In the latter part of the honorable member’s question he makes the point, in general terms, that the raising of any funds other than for the purposes of government - State, Federal and local government - is an activity contrary to the interests of government. I am sure that that statement could not be accepted. The development qf this country, the employment that is provided in it and the general progress and well-being of the country from day to day are really much more in the hands of the people who engage in commerce, manufacturing and primary producing activities than in the hands of government, and their need of funds is greater, overall, than is the need of governments.
– My question is directed to- the Minister for Immigration. Have the Australian Apex Clubs adopted a programme of sponsoring British migrants and guaranteeing: them houses and jobs? If so, does this assist the Minister’s immigration policy?
– For some time now Apex Clubs throughout Australia have played a conspicuous part in our migration programme, and especially so far as migrants from Britain are concerned. Of course, as the honorable gentleman may realize, this does not stop with organizations such as Apex Clubs. There is Rotary, and one or two others of similar purpose. These associations are, strictly speaking, most valuable adjuncts to our “ Bring out a Briton “ campaign. So far their efforts have been most successful and they have been an enormous help to the Government. As Minister, 1 value tremendously what they are doing. I hope that in the future, because of their success in the past, not only in assisting recruitment, but also in the after care of migrants when they come here, their efforts, if possible, will be redoubled, thereby making it possible for the Government to achieve its aims for British migration.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Prime Minister. It relates to the crashing of five Electra aircraft in less than two years - two in the last three weeks - with the loss of some hundreds of lives, and their continued operation in Australia. In view of the fact that constructional changes had to be carried out on Electra aircraft in Australia and that they are still considered unstable, necessitating further substantial modifications, what guarantee can the Government give that this aircraft will then be safe? Will the Government allow Australian airlines to sell their Electra aircraft - while the going is good - and purchase Caravelles, or some other reliable aircraft, as the Australian public lacks confidence in the Electras? As the Government insisted upon the purchase of Electras, and if it further insists upon their retention, who, in the Government, will accept responsibility for any disaster that might occur?
– I think it is really regrettable that such a reflection should be made on the safety of a means of public transport. I should imagine that the honorable member is no better equipped than I am to judge the safety of any aircraft. However, the Government has at its command in the Department of Civil Aviation and in other technical services, advisers who, on the record of aviation in this country, must be conceded to be as skilled as any in the world. Australia’s record of safety in civil aviation is, I believe, unsurpassed, and this is an air-minded country. That record is due to the care and skill of those in the air transport companies who choose the aircraft and who fly and maintain them, with the backing of the technical services of the Department of Civil Aviation. When our experts assert, as they have, that, subject to certain speed limitations, the Electra aircraft is safe, I believe that the Australian community will have entire confidence in their judgment.
– I ask a question of the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Trade concerning rising costs in the rural sector and complications in the provision of farm credit. Is the rise in costs one of the effects of inflation? Is it a fact that one remedy adopted by the Government was to lift most of the import restrictions? Are imports now costing about £110,000,000 a month and, at a time when a good deal of money is by-passing the banking system, causing a heavy drain on the resources of some banks which provide farm credits? Is this shortage of credit bearing heavily on farmers who are trying to meet the rising costs I have mentioned?
– I am sure that we all understand that the explanation of the present cost level is complex. Costs at present are a matter of concern to all. The prime policies of the Government are designed to abate inflationary pressures, and so to curb the upward trend of costs, particularly in export industries. The dilemma facing us can be perceived clearly. As a nation, we are determined to expand rapidly, to sustain immigration and full employment, to develop our resources, and constantly to raise our standard of living. All this exerts pressure on the cost structure, and the Government’s policies are designed to ease this pressure. The honorable member raises the question of the availability of credit to rural industries. It has been stated publicly - I now repeat the statement » - that there is nothing in the directive of the central bank to the trading banks or in the policies of the Government that would restrict the amount of credit available to primary export industries which can show that they have a real need for the credit.
– I direct my question to the Acting Treasurer. Is it a fact that our overseas balance fell by £74,600,000 in the first quarter of 1960-61 to £367,800,000, which is the lowest it has ever been? ls it also a fact that, by contrast, in the corresponding quarter of last year, there was a gain of £9,000,000 and our overseas balance was then £428,000,000? If these are facts, what action does the Government intend to take to stop tha drain on our overseas balance?
– It is true that our overseas balance has been reduced by approximately the amount mentioned by the honorable member, and over the period mentioned by him, but it is completely wrong to say that this . has reduced our balance to an all-time low. On the contrary, whatever reduction has taken place has been from an all-time high, to which the balance had been prudently built up as a result of the policies pursued by this Government. I can assure the honorable member and the whole community that the Government is conscious of the need to preserve our overseas balances at a level adequate to meet our requirements.
– What are these policies?
– The honorable member would not comprehend them if I explained them to him, but I can assure him that policies are being pursued which are achieving results.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 5th October (vide page 1730).
.- I desire to direct the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and the committee to the growing industrial unrest in this country, and to the failure of the Minister and the Government to do anything towards removing grounds for the grave and justifiable complaints of workers’ organizations of discrimination against them. I direct attention also to the action taken by the Government, through various instrumentalities, to reduce the living standards of workers. In this context one of the most serious steps taken in recent times, a step which has caused the trade unions much concern and has led to a growing impression that organized workers in this country to-day have very little, if anything, to gain from a retention of the arbitration system, has been the action of the Commonwealth industrial authorities in imposing savage and unjustifiable penalties upon workers who exercise their right, through their trade unions, to protest against insufferable conditions which the court or the commission imposes upon them.
The first matter I want to refer to is the dispute in the maritime industry. Seamen have been protesting for some time against a vicious award imposed on this industry by Mr. Justice Foster, which they are unable at present to have further reviewed, and the provisions of which they have failed so far to have changed. There is no doubt in the world, no matter how much the Minister may argue to the contrary, that as a result of this award, and in a period when the effects of inflation are continuing to be felt, the seamen have actually suffered, in loss of pay for week-end work, over £6 a week. Having regard to the state of the economy to-day, and the fact that costs have continued to rise, it could only have been expected that this would lead to grave dissatisfaction in the industry, and that the men would show no desire to offer for work at times when they would suffer such a loss of pay.
When Government supporters are trying to make out a case against the seamen they imply that seamen are well paid and have no basis for complaint in respect of the present award. Let me remind honorable members that the ordinary seaman’s wage to-day is £17 10s. a week. From this £2 6s. is deducted for his keep on the vessel on which he is working, leaving him £15 4s. a week. If he cares to work over the week-end, or is obliged to work over the week-end - the latter phrase is probably more appropriate - he gets 2s. 2id. an hour for Saturday work and 4s. 4id. an hour for Sunday work. For a full day’s work on Saturday he gets 17s. 6d., and for Sunday 35s. Thus he receives, if he works seven days in .the week, a total of £17 16s. 6d.
When members of the Government are calculating the figures, they point out, of course, that for working on a Saturday and a Sunday the seaman is allowed, at some time in the future, two days off at ordinary rates of pay. By making a calculation on a basis of their own, they then bring the wage to a much higher figure than I have given. But I remind honorable members of the committee that the seamen must hold themselves available for work when called upon by the employer, at least when they are at sea, for 24 hours a day. Leisure time, in the sense in which it is understood in other industries, does not exist. We must also remember the long periods during which these men are away from . their homes. It is perfectly true that on the Australian coast a seaman is in port probably once a week, but such a port is seldom his home port. I believe it is wrong to suggest that he should not be compensated adequately for this disturbance of his home life and the great sacrifices that he and his family must make as the result of the conditions that now apply in the industry.
In any case, many of the seamen decided that they would rather spend a week-end with their families when they had the opportunity than offer themselves for week-end employment. As a result of the growing discontent shipping has been held up on the Australian coast. These holdups continue, and in my opinion they will continue unless something is done to amend the provisions of the award to which the union strongly objects.
The award that was varied by Mr. Justice Foster was made originally in 1955. It was decided at that time to bring down an award to deal with an existing industrial condition. It was realized that it was necessary to establish peace in the industry, and it was largely as a result of the 1955 award that peace prevailed in that industry. Why should that peace be disturbed? Yet that is exactly what has been done by these new provisions. It is perfectly true that as the result of these continued stoppages the seamen have suffered financial loss. But so also are the industry and the nation suffering great loss. The penalties that are being imposed on the Seamen’s Union are not going to end that situation. When provision was made in the act by an anti-
Labour government for the Commonwealth Industrial Court to impose penalties, it was never believed for one moment that a succession of these penalties would be imposed on a union because of stoppages arising from one particular industrial dispute. The Seamen’s Union has suffered penalties totalling. £1,800 up to date in respect of the present dispute and the court has not finished with it yet.
– That is exclusive of costs.
– Yes; if costs are added, the amount that has been paid out by the Seamen’s Union is very much larger. In my opinion, the Seamen’s Union is fully justified’ in doing what it can to protect its members. That is what unions exist for and that is what they are expected to do. These savage penalties on the Seamen’s Union will only lead to continued unrest. It seems rather strange that at a time when the workers in the maritime industry are being attacked’ through an industrial award and forced to> accept a reduced wage amounting to something over £6 a week because of the reduction in week-end penalties, the Government is now considering - and I understand it has approved - substantial increases in thesalaries of judges generally and, in this context, for the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. This is rubbing salt into the wound and aggravating the position. I imagine that there will be great public resentment against this proposal of the Government to increase the salaries of the judges, and particularly of the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, at a time when the court over which the Chief Judge presides is attacking the workers and bringing about a reduction in their wages.
There is another aspect of growing industrial unrest to which I wish to direct attention. I am amazed that we have had so few industrial stoppages having regard to the circumstances that this Government has permitted to arise. I would have expected that there would have been general stoppages because of other problems which confront the industrial workers and concerning which they receive no sympathetic attention from this Government or the Minister for Labour and National Service. Let us consider the living standards about which supporters of the Government are frequently boastful. In 1953, this Government set out to freeze the basic wage. It prevented the workers from getting the normal adjustments of the basic wage from time to time in accordance with the cost of living. The practice of periodical adjustments had been followed for many years; but from 1953 onwards the living standards of the workers have been substantially reduced. Supporters of the Government continually talk about the number of motor cars that are registered, and the refrigerators, television sets and other appliances which are going into the workers’ homes; but the fact is that in many cases these accessories are being obtained under hire purchase and the payments are maintained only because the wives go out to work to supplement the family income. They do that because the income of the ordinary breadwinner is not sufficient to maintain the hire-purchase payments.
Let me illustrate what the workers have suffered. I asked a question of the Minister for Labour and National Service recently about the loss in wages that the workers were suffering as a result of this Government’s policy of refusing to adjust the basic wage according to the rise in the cost of living. The only States where the position has been maintained adequately are New South Wales and Queensland, where the adjustments have been continued. The Governments in those States used their sovereign powers to see that the adjustments were made. Let me read the scale of losses suffered by the workers from the figures supplied by the Minister. In Victoria, every worker loses 27s. a week, so his living standard is reduced by that amount.
– I rise to order, Mr. Chairman. Can I ask the honorable gentleman to state the context in which these figures were given? He is misrepresenting the answer to a question that I gave him.
Order! The Minister for Labour and National Service will have an opportunity to reply to the honorable member for East Sydney later.
– The Minister can make his own explanation in his own time. In Victoria, the workers are losing 27s. a week as a result of the policy and the decision of this Government. In South Australia, the workers are losing 18s. a week. [Quorum formed.] I had already mentioned the losses suffered by the workers in two States. In Western Australia, they have lost 8s. 9d. a week and in Tasmania, 19s. On the six capital cities weighted average, the workers have been losing 16s. a week as a result of the decisions of this Government. That indicates clearly to the people that the workers are suffering a reduction in their living standards under the policy of this Government. Is it any wonder that there is widespread industrial unrest? The workers object also to the fact that the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court is a former Liberal senator who was anti-trade union and vicious in his attitude towards the trade unions. If he is to administer industrial justice, is it to be wondered that there is widespread industrial unrest?
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
__ It is easy to understand why the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) selected the Seamen’s Union in his effort to show the disadvantages which, according to him, have accrued to the wage-earners under this “Government. He could not have selected a better example to illustrate the obverse side. Because of the activities of the Seamen’s Union, it has not been possible to bring peace to the waterfront or to the maritime industry generally. The Seamen’s Union and the Waterside Workers Federation have a definite objective to disrupt the economy of Australia. The honorable member for East Sydney can be proud of his political handiwork over a long period which is exemplified by the industrial lawlessness in those two trade unions. The recent seamen’s dispute which the honorable member has mentioned cost the community and the economy £1,500,000. This has not been a loss to the Seamen’s Union or the Government, but to the economy generally. [Quorum formed.]
As I was saying, Mr. Chairman, the action of the seamen alone has cost the economy £1,500,000. My concern, and the concern of the party of which I am a member, is that the whole of our economy is based on the prosperity of our exportearning industries. Obviously, the primary industries are the ones which are most concerned. My interest in the welfare of our primary industries is not a sectional interest. They support the whole of our economy. Continued rises in the cost structure, increases in the basic wage and margins and, more than anything else, industrial lawlessness, are some of the most important factors which prevent our economic growth.
We are in a very dangerous economic position because prices for our commodities overseas have fallen by about 34 per cent, since 1953-54. This is another factor which operates to the detriment of our economy. While these steep increases in costs continue, we jeopardize our ability to absorb our increased work force. During this year and over the next two years we shall have a vastly increased work force to absorb. We are now reaping the reward of the very steep increase in the birth-rate immediately following the war. This year we shall have about 170,000 young people reaching the age of fifteen. Next year there will be a slight increase on that figure and in 1962 the figure will be 210,000. The normal figure is about 100,000 a year.
I agree with the honorable member for East Sydney that some changes must be made in the present set-up, but I do not agree that the changes should be made in the direction which he has suggested. Our arbitration system could be made far more effective than it is. When an application for an increase in the basic wage or in margins is made, the Arbitration Commission hears the evidence and submissions of people who represent various sections of the community, and reaches a decision on the evidence and submissions. Until this year the Commonwealth had not intervened in the hearing of any application, but this year it adopted a different policy and, quite rightly I believe, intervened in the basic wage case. After all, the Government is responsible for our continued prosperity and expansion. By its decisions, the Commission is able to alter the course of Government policy. Is it not right that the Government should at least have the opportunity to state its case, as it did on the occasion to which I have referred? However, I think it would be better to have some kind of economic commission to assess the state of the Australian economy. [Quorum formed.] I believe that such a commission should examine thoroughly the impact on our economy of any proposed increase in the basic wage.
Most of our primary industries are not very well organized. The Graziers Association is probably the strongest organization of its kind in Australia. This organization does present its views to the commission. A conference of the National Farmers Union of Australia will be held in Canberra this month. Apparently this body has been re-organized and rejuvenated. Undoubtedly it will be a great force, not only in industrial hearings but also before the Tariff Board. All sections in the community - including the pensioners - should have some say in this matter. The Opposition makes a great point of putting the pensioner’s case, as we do, but for a different purpose. This Government has done more for the pensioners than has any other government, but .they do not have much say in our affairs. They should have, because they suffer when increased costs result from increased wages. Many Opposition members speak with their tongues in their cheeks when they advocate an increase in the pensions because increased costs will nullify any benefit that they would receive.
– What about the increase that the judges have just received?
– There again I congratulate the Government, because if we need top men anywhere in Australia, we need them in our judiciary, whether in the Arbitration Commission or in other courts. The only way that we can obtain top men is to give them a remuneration which is in keeping with their obvious ability.
When referring to the activities of the Seamen’s Union I omitted to congratulate the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and his department for the stand they have taken in relation to the penalties imposed on this and other irresponsible unions. My only complaint is that the penalties are not a sufficient deterrent. As I have already pointed out, the seamen’s dispute has cost the economy £1,500,000 and the Seamen’s Union has been fined £1,000. Obviously, the deterrent has not been sufficiently strong. All honorable members know that the object of many unions is to disrupt the Australian economy. The whole pattern of communism in Australia is obvious. The Communists are unable to succeed through our electoral system. They manage to poll only a few votes at our elections. They find other methods by which they can impose their will on the community. Certainly they have found their way into only some unions, but unfortunately they have been the key unions that affect our transport, with the result that we have had very steep increases in freight costs. Basic wage increases have also meant a rise in costs to the primary producer. We cannot have an unbalanced economy. At the moment, industries in the cities pay good dividends, but the country people are in a very serious plight, and any further increases in the basic wage or in margins can only make their position still worse. Already there has been an increase of 7 per cent, in the price of structural steel and a rise of 5 per cent, in the cost of other kinds of steel. These additional charges have a great impact upon the primary producer, because steel is the basis of many things essential to the successful carrying on of his industry. For instance, he needs wire, tanks, galvanized iron and so on, all of which are manufactured from steel.
Wage increases have been the greatest factor in the additional burden the primary producer has been required to bear. Much and all as the primary producer would like to support higher wages, the fact is that his position is seriously depressed by falling export markets, and he just cannot afford to pay more. Another important factor to consider is employment. For instance, this year the Postal Department is short of funds, but will have to meet a large increase in its wage and salary payments. This must have a detrimental effect upon the department’s building programme, which in turn means that country people will be denied much-needed new post offices and telephone exchanges. I know that this shortage of funds has meant that a telephone exchange that was to have been built at Warwick in my electorate this year will not be built for another twelve months. The country people all over Australia are beginning to feel the effects of increased costs. The Queensland Railways, for instance, are embarking upon a great retrenchment campaign simply because they will be required to find an extra £4,000,000 to meet the cost of margins increases. If we could only increase our production, and we can do it if we can be sure of an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I rise to say something about the Department of Immigration, but first I should like to make passing reference to the speech just delivered by the honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes). He complained about industrial stoppages on the waterfront, a subject to which the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) had referred. I remind the honorable member that the fact that unions, and some employers’ organizations, are controlled by people with whose philosophies we might not all agree is no proof that these people are not sometimes right in what they say. The honorable member suggested that the increasing cost of marketing our export commodities is due entirely to stoppages on the waterfront. I say that one of the reasons for the increased cost is the attitude of the shipping companies, which seek to make huge profits. Why, even one of the Australian Country Party Ministers has objected to what he considered to be a request for an unnecessary increase in shipping freights, which must increase the cost of our exports and deprive the primary producer of the return to which he is entitled.
It is all very well to argue that the seamen have no case for an increase of wages. The honorable member for East Sydney has pointed out that the seamen are losing money under the new award, and that while they are being denied an increase the salaries of judges have been improved by £50 a week. He has not objected to the policy of granting £50 a week to the man who is placed in a position of privilege while at the same time denying any benefit to the man who is doing the hard work on the waterfront and in other places. I challenge the most intelligent man in this Parliament to explain satisfactorily to the seamen and the watersiders why a judge should be granted an additional £50 a week while they are denied an increase of a paltry 5s. or 10s. a week. You cannot possibly justify refusing, a small increase to unionists and’ others while at the same time granting the exorbitant increase of. £50 a week to the very people who are refusing the request of unionists for additional remuneration.
Although I may not agree with the leadership of the seamen’s union, the waterside workers union or some other unions, I still cannot, see any justice in the argument that the members of those, unions are not entitled in many cases to an increase in wages. L repeat, that the main cause of the increased cost of exports is not so much industrial stoppages, as the fact that the huge shipping combines of the world are tying up th& shipping lanes and’ keeping up freights. For that they are to be condemned. The fact, that they are. making huge profits may be verified by a perusal of the balancesheets they publish from time to time. The huge reserves they have accumulated are ample proof that the companies could well afford to pay higher wages to their workers.
I point out to the honorable member also that this Government constantly boasts that it has a good industrial record, that there are not many industrial stoppages now. It claims that all the industrial stoppages occurred when a Labour government was in office. That being so, it is inconsistent to argue that industrial stoppages today are the reason for the increased cost of exporting goods. The Ministers of this Government are constantly saying that the Government has a great, record of industrial peace, but they cannot have it both ways. I submit that it is inconsistent to grant judges an increase of £50 a week while denying the seamen an extra few shillings. Only when this Government recognizes that some people are making too much profit out of the exportation of goods from this country shall we get down to the real cause of our problem. The Government, however, says that a judge is worth £50 more a week whereas, seamen and others are worth nothing.. Until the Government realizes the injustice of this attitude, we cannot hope for industrial peace on the waterfront.
Now, I wish to do something which is a little unusual for me - to make congratulatory reference to one of the Government’s activities. I refer to the Department of
Immigration. Irrespective of one’s politics, it must be agreed that the Department of Immigration has done a commendable job in promoting the advancement of Australia through the contribution made by immigrants, since the introduction of our great immigration scheme by a Labour government. I am advised that since the scheme: was put into operation about 1,500,000 new citizens have come to this country. This has called for the highest standard of administration and organization. Tremendous expenditure has. been involved, and it has been necessary to overcome difficulties connected with the assimilation of people coming to a new country, as well as our original natural bias against immigrants. That these difficulties have been surmounted is exemplified by the success of the scheme. This has probably been due to the fact that under successive governments the Department of Immigration has been administered by Ministers of great capacity and tolerance. The present Minister is no exception. Commencing with the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), then through the term of the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Townley), and right up to the period for which the present Minister (Mr. Downer) has been in office, the department has had at its head men who have appreciated the great need for a good immigration scheme, and have given of their best to see that the department has been administered on a non-political basis. I offer praise to those who have been responsible for the general administration of the scheme.
I think that the Department of Immigration is particularly fortunate on having had Sir Tasman Heyes as its secretary since its inception. Sir Tasman is one of the top public servants of this country. His tolerance, his common sense and his particular approach to the problems associated with our great migration scheme have brought great credit to him, to the various Ministers under whom he has served, whomever they may have been, and certainly to the department generally. I think that those on both sides of the political fence will readily concede that Sir Tasman’s influence is exemplified throughout the officials of the department,, both those in this country and those stationed in our migration offices in other parts of the world. I take this opportunity to-day - an opportunity which is rarely given and which possibly is not taken advantage of as much as it should be when from time to time it is available - to pay tribute to Sir Tasman Heyes and the officers who have served under him in the years since the inception of the migration scheme for the work that they have done in bringing to this country 1,500,000 people.
I do not wish to be in any sense critical, although I know that the immigration scheme has had its growing pains and problems and probably has not been perfect in all respects. I acknowledge that the scheme has at all times been administered with a desire to bring migrants here and assimilate them and let them assist in the development of this country with a minimum of inconvenience to our own people and the migrants themselves. I have had opportunities to see Australian migration offices in other countries. They in turn have their problems, but I have been impressed by the fact that those officials in our offices overseas with whom I came in contact seemed to generate the same kind of zeal exhibited by the secretary of the department and the Ministers who have administered it from time to time. Our officials overseas whom I have seen in action try to do things in a way that will bring credit to the department and will give satisfaction to intending migrants who approach .them. There may be some overseas representatives of the Department of Immigration who do not measure up to these high standards, but I have not met any.
I think that, generally, an extremely high standard has been set, and I am glad to take the opportunity to-day to pay tribute to the department and its secretary and to express my opinion of the work of the department that I have seen at home and abroad. I do not say that everything is perfect, and I disagree with some of the decisions that the Government and the department make. But I think that, broadly, if mistakes have been made, they have been made not by deliberate intent but through force of circumstances and perhaps as a result of errors of judgment here and there.
I visited a number of our migration offices in Europe, and I think that improvements could be made in some of them, especially ki that at Munich. When I was there, the office was housed in a very old building. I do not know the basis on which the accommodation in that building had been obtained, but the building was not very suitable for the purpose. In countries from which we are seeking migrants, our migration offices should be housed in modern buildings of good appearance which show a good front. I do not underestimate the problems that confront any Australian government in obtaining additional migrants from time to time, especially from Europe. With full employment and increasing prosperity there, many of the problems that were apparent after World War II. no longer exist and, naturally, there is not an inclination among so many people to travel far abroad and take up residence in a foreign country. Therefore, I think that if our migration scheme is to continue to be a success, we must maintain a high standard in our marginal offices and we should ensure that they have first-class appointments and facilities. Furthermore, we must undertake a first-class publicity campaign in order to attract the migrants that we want, particularly from Great Britain, from which I think we shall continually have difficulty in getting the numbers that we want.
I mention these things, Mr. Chairman, for a number of reasons. As I have said, I do not agree sometimes with decisions that are made, but I realize, as I hope the Government does, that we must maintain full employment, a high measure of social services in this country, economic security and independence for our people and for the migrants who come here. This is the basis on which we must rest our immigration scheme. With all its faults and shortcomings and all the difficulties which for the reasons that I have mentioned have beset the scheme under the administration of the various Ministers concerned over the years, the scheme reflects great credit on the administration of the top men in the Department of Immigration from the secretary down. They all deserve a great deal of credit for the way in which they have undertaken the task of bringing 1,500,000 people to this country.
It is true that from time to time numbers of migrants return to the countries from which they came. This can be ascribed to various reasons. Some become a little home-sick and others a little dissatisfied. A few may even get a raw deal. But I think it will be found that many of those who leave our shores are later delighted to come back here and take up residence in Australia again. Having visited quite a number of European countries, I say without hesitation that if I resided in any one of the countries that I visited, including Great Britain, and I desired to make my way in life I would choose Australia and no other country as my future home. Opportunities here are unlimited, particularly in the eyes of people from some of the older countries in Europe which are not so well served by modern developments as are we in this country.
For these reasons, I hope that our immigration scheme will be continued, with the safeguards that I have mentioned with respect to security, independence, full employment and opportunities generally, and with the same kind of able administration of the Department of Immigration at all levels as I have mentioned. If these safeguards are maintained, we shall contribute to the continuance of the great scheme that was instituted by Labour. I do not describe the scheme in that way with any thought of gaining political kudos, but because I think it is only fair to give credit where it is due for the overcoming of initial difficulties. That scheme is bringing great benefits to this country and will continue to do so in the future.
While I am discussing this subject, Mr. Chairman, may I very briefly refer another matter to the Minister for Immigration. I do not want him to think that by a process of bribery and corruption, as it were, in praising the Department of Immigration and its administration, I was merely leading up to this matter. I have received from the Marrickville Municipal Council, in my electorate, a request that the department contribute towards meeting the cost of naturalization ceremonies. The council conducts many of these ceremonies, as many migrants are settling in the municipality. The cost of these ceremonies imposes a continuous strain on the council’s financial resources. Some time ago, the council wrote to the secretary of the Department of Immigration in these terms -
Apart from the use of the hall, actual costs to Council include preparation, staffing, and catering, and the presentation of bibles to the candidates. Council’s accounts show that during the past three (3) years the expenditure averaged £266 17s. 9d. per annum. No provision is made for salaries and printing and stationery in these figures.
Council is at all times ready to co-operate but emphasises that in its opinion the holding of local ceremonies is an important factor in assimilating migrants and for this reason could be regarded as a national service. Further it is felt that the payment of a fee by the candidate, no matter how small, would detract from the psychological effect of the ceremonies.
The secretary of the department replied that the Government could not see its way clear to accede to the request, and added -
The presentation of Bibles as a memento of the occasion could also be discontinued if you so wished. However, the Churches generally are I believe prepared to make Bibles available or to assist the Local Government authorities in acquiring them.
The letter sent to the council by the secretary of the department went on to say that the department made certain provision for clerical assistance in the sending out of invitations and the like.
The council’s request for financial assistance has been refused, and the Minister, in a lengthy letter to me, has stated a number of reasons for this decision. I had pointed out to the Minister that the members of the council, although of various political opinions, all considered, regardless of their politics, that the financial assistance sought should be given. I again ask the Minister to consider the request favorably.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, I am sure that every honorable member supports the remarks made by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) in appreciation of the magnificent service to Australia rendered by Sir Tasman Heyes and the members of his staff. Australia has a very proud record in migration, and much of our success has been due to the administration of the successive Ministers who have held the Immigration portfolio and to the able assistance of their excellent officers in the Department of Immigration.
I think that from time to time we should ask ourselves: What is the purpose of immigration? I think we can say that the purpose of immigration is to move people from the overcrowded countries to underpopulated countries. It is the movement of refugees and stateless people from temporary homes to a country in which they can establish a permanent home.
Immigration is also what I might describe as the movement of people for vocational reasons. For example, there may be a surplus of school teachers in England and in Australia there may be a great shortage of school teachers. So migration is also the movement of people to enable them to use to the full their talents and capabilities in the profession or occupation of their choice. The Australian record of immigration is certainly something of which we can be tremendously proud. Since the war, over 1,500,000 people have been moved from the other side of the world to Australia and have established themselves in this country to the great advantage of themselves and to the great benefit of the nation. [Quorum formed.]
When I was interrupted by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who called for the quorum, I was praising the immigration policy of Australia which was started by his own leader. So jealous is the honorable member for East Sydney of his own leader that he cannot bear to hear any tribute paid to him. Australia has had very distinguished Ministers for Immigration, starting with the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). A very distinguished South Australian guides the destiny of this great department to-day. 1 have said that Australia has a very proud record of achievement in immigration. If we look at the recent report of the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration, we find that since 1952 that organization has assisted in the movement of 867,000 people from Europe to various countries. Of those 867,000 people, Australia has received 237,000, or more than any other country. Second on the list is the United States of America, which has received 162,000. Third comes Canada, having received 143,000. So this report of the Inter-Governmental Committee shows very conclusively that Australia has played its part magnificently in accepting stateless people, in accepting refugees, and in accepting people from the overcrowded countries who seek an opportunity in this great country.
I believe there is room, in spite of our magnificent efforts, for further immigration. If anything has been proved conclusively over the last few years it is that immigration creates employment and does not cause unemployment. When the world struck difficult conditions a few years ago, some countries such as the United States of America and Canada, which had been taking large numbers of migrants, decided, because of the small amount of unemployment that had developed in those countries, to cut out immigration or to cut it down very considerably. The result was that unemployment greatly increased in those countries. But during that time Australia maintained a fairly steady flow of immigration and as a result, in that difficult period, Australia had the best employment record in the world and the smallest number of unemployed per head of population.
I believe that we should look at immigrants as consumers as well as producers. When migrants come to Australia their needs are very great. They need clothing, furniture, housing, motor cars and many other things. As consumers, they create a demand for goods and services and that demand provides employment for our Australian-born as well as for our new immigrant settlers. So I hope that never again will any one attempt to put forward the idea that we should cut down immigration because it might create or aggravate unemployment. I feel quite certain that if we want to maintain a high level of employment, which is the policy of this Government, we must keep immigration at a high level. I should like to congratulate the Government on the manner in which it has not only maintained but has increased the number of immigrants. I hope that, in future, further increases will be made.
I believe that the time has arrived when some of the restrictions now placed upon the entry of people to this country should be relaxed. I do not refer to health restrictions nor to character or security restrictions. There are certain other restrictions which are preventing even skilled persons - just the people whom we urgently need - from coming to this country. I do not, of course, refer to the United Kingdom, from which country, as we know, everybody is virtually free to migrate here. A great many people are assisted to come here from the United Kingdom. But I feel that, at the present time, Australia is running into a situation in which there will be an acute shortage of labour, particularly of skilled labour. Nothing is likely to aggravate inflation more than a shortage of labour.
Therefore, Sir, I believe that the opportunity is now there for us to open our doors even wider than we have done in the past, so that we may get the maximum number of immigrants that we can absorb.
In dealing with this report of the InterGovernmental Committee on European Migration, I want to point out that the function of that committee is to arrange the movement of people from overcrowded Europe to the new countries, and to assist refugees. I should like to compliment the Government and the Minister on the part they have played in relation to refugees. Up to the commencement of World Refugee Year we had the best record, per head of population, of any country for our acceptance of refugees. During this year, the Government has relaxed some of the restrictions that prevented what has become known as “ hard core “ refugees from coming to Australia. I am sure, Mr. Minister, that your decision in that respect was welcomed wholeheartedly by the Australian people.
I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate the people of Australia on their wonderful effort and their magnificent response to the World Refugee Year appeal. Australia was given a quota of £500,000 to raise, which seemed a very large amount of money for a small country’ to find. Already the Australian people have subscribed more than £750,000, and money is still coming in fast. That is a splendid response by the people to an appeal made in association with Government policy. The people of this country have said, with a united voice, to the Government, “We are prepared to accept our share of responsibility for refu gees, particularly those who are still in camps in Europe “.
The people want the Government to consider, from time to time, whether or not we can absorb still larger quotas of these people who, for political or other reasons, have been forced to leave the countries of their birth, and who are now looking for a sanctuary where there is opportunity for the future, particularly for their children. I have noticed in Adelaide, for example, that where a well-organized button day usually yields about £700. a button day for the purpose of helping the World Refugee Year appeal yielded more than £2,700.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Before I deal with the subject to which I wish to direct my remarks, I want to make two comments on statements made by honorable members. I should first like to say that if the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) thinks that Australia, or any other country, can meet its labour force demands by immigration, he is so far wide of the mark that he should give the matter a second thought.
The other comment with which I wish to deal was made by the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes). At the conclusion of his speech he said that additional costs had been responsible for the retrenchment programme in the Queenslandrailways. I say that the real reason for the retrenchment of railwaymen in Queensland is that the State has a government which is more concerned with assisting road transport operators than with running its railways efficiently.
The second statement made by the honorable member to which I wish to reply was that what was required in this country was a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. If he implies that the railwaymen of Queensland are not giving a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, I throw his statement back in his teeth. If he implies that the Australian worker generally is not giving a fair day’s work, for a fair day’s pay he is, in effect, attacking very strongly the lack of proper administration by employers - something that should be condemned by everybody, if the honorable member is prepared to analyse what has been happening in relation to the development of industry in Australia he will find that the records show that the Australian workers are equal to, or even better than, the workers in any other country in the world, and are producing more per man-hour than the workers in other countries.
Now I turn to the subject that I wish to discuss. This morning, I asked a question about the future training of the artisans needed for Australia’s development. I presume that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) is listening to my remarks now. I do not want to attack him, but I want to say that the Minister is making a big mistake if he meant to convey to this House, in his final comments in answer to my question this morning, that he is satisfied with the present arrangements. I hope that other members of the Cabinet are not being led astray by the Minister, but that the Government is paying attention to Australia’s future requirements as a developing nation in which secondary industry is becoming an ever more important factor. In this modern age despite all that the honorable member for McPherson says about rural industries, Australia’s future is wrapped up in its capacity ito handle industrial expansion properly so that our industries will become competitive with industries in other countries which are also expanding industrially. Surely we can all agree that modern technology and automation make cheaper production possible with less manpower. At the same time, modern technological methods pose an ever-increasing need for different methods of training artisans so that we may be ready for the changes that are taking place in the machinery available to mankind.
I thought it tragic to find this morning that the Minister for Labour and National Service in a country like Australia should express himself as being satisfied that the States are measuring up to national requirements in respect of industrial development. Does the honorable Minister think that six bits and pieces - New South Wales, Victoria and the other States - can measure up to the need to take advantage of modern technology and automation on a national level when our needs in relation to both imports and exports are so wrapped up with modern means of production? I think that the Minister and the Government have lost touch with what is happening on the face of the world in respect to production, if what the Minister said this morning was a true expression of the Government’s views - and I deliberately asked the question knowing that this subject would be before honorable members to-day. I agree with one point that he made - that new methods of training are essential. The Minister can take it from me right now, that the trade union movement is fully aware of the need for new methods of training. Nobody is going to suggest that firemen in the new power houses are to be taught the rudiments of coal-firing. The fireman is now a press-button man. I take that as a classic example, in passing. Look at Morwell, and at what -is happening in the new power houses in New South Wales. There is a complete change in industry. The Minister says that these things can be met at a State level; but that is just not possible. This is a national problem.
I warn the Minister and the Government of what is happening. Many Government supporters who have been overseas, if they studied this problem at all, surely must be alive to the situation. Let me take Detroit as an example, because Detroit is the hub of the motor car industry in America. There 3,000,000 people are employed exclusively in an industry where automation is at its highest peak. Detroit to-day, because of automation, will have no less than 15 per cent, of its possible work force unemployed, and they are all unskilled employees.
When I went through the Chrysler works there I noticed that there were no young people being trained in the work force. At the luncheon in the afternoon, after we had been through the works, I put it to the manager and said, “ One thing which is intriguing me is this: Where are you training your apprentices? Where are you getting the men who are going to run this industry in future - from your training force of to-day? “ And the reply that came back has been ringing in my ears ever since. The manager of the Chrysler works said, “We do not try to train them. We buy them. We have personnel officers in Canada and all over the world buying our workmen wherever we can get them, and we do not mind the price we have to pay for them.” That is the kind of thing we have to compete with if we are going to succeed as a growing nation. Because of that, when 1 asked the Minister a question this morning, I put it to him that this thing has gone quite beyond the present State training methods of providing for the development of industry in this country the skilled and trained force which is essential.
May I finish, in the few minutes left to me, with a glance at this morning’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ ? To-day is Thursday, which normally is not the day when the big slabs of advertisements are inserted for skilled trainees. First of all, we find a report that last year 100,000 additional employees came into the work force. Of that influx of employees 30 per cent, came from what is referred to as the silent army of people who are available lor employment, because only about 70.000 new employees came in owing to the natural growth of the labour force. Not one of those 30,000 would be trained for the highly skilled work necessary in industry to-day. The same article refers to the scarcity margin, which already exists under the system which the Minister says is sufficient to meet the requirements of this country. Let us look at the headlines in this morning’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “. We see the headline “ Shortage of Skilled Labour Grows “, and the paragraph says -
The shortage of skilled and semi-skilled labour was increasing, said the chairman, Mr. G. B. Kater, at the annual meeting of Electrical Equipment of Australia Limited yesterday. 1 ask the Minister to take this as a warning, because this is not a Labour man talking, but one of the captains of industry. He continued -
This would make it difficult to obtain the full benefit of the new factory space when it was completed before the end of December.
Let me look at the next phase. This is the type of case that the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) should be looking at if he wishes to lower the cost of production in Australia. In to-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ five of the first six advertisements in the “ Positions Vacant “ column are for skilled tradesmen. We see advertisements for a maintenance fitter, a motor mechanic, a machinist and an oxy welder. In every one of those advertisements a line runs “ Liberal overtime available “, “ Overtime work “, “ Excellent pay and conditions with overtime “, “ Liberal overtime available “, and so on. That is a commentary on the failure of the present system to give this country the trained artisans necessary to meet its industrial requirements.
I say to the Government that every hour of overtime worked in this country as a result of this shortage is loaded against our national economy, because it adds to the cost of production. That is what is happening in Australia to-day because of the shortage of skilled tradesmen and because the present system of training for skilled tradesmen has failed. I say that bluntly. In that way an overhead charge is injected into the national economy which will finally wreck this country if something is not done about it. I direct the Minister’s attention to that fact. This is the picture in to-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “; and in next Saturday’s “ Telegraph “ he will find it made more apparent. If the Minister is satisfied that the training scheme under State organizations to-day is sufficient, how does he answer that problem in respect of the advertisements which are appearing? What is his answer to the loading which is going into industry because of overtime payments which would not exist if we had sufficient artisans and trained men to meet the requirements under this system which he believes is satisfactory?
I say to him, quite frankly, that the trade union movement is aware of the position and will co-operate in a national training scheme to provide Australia with what is necessary over the next ten years. We know that is a basic principle which must be established if Australia is to succeed, because Australia will not go on living on the sheep’s back. Australia’s butter, sugar and wheat industries now find that their products are over-supplied on the world’s markets. If we are not prepared to face up to the requirements of automation and technology and train our artisans to meet the requirements of the nation, those who stand in the way are traitors to the future development of this country. The State programmes and the maximum the States can do are not sufficient. But the States are not concerned with the national economy or with the national impact of the things I have illustrated. Unless there is a more realistic and co-ordinated approach, which I asked the Minister this morning to adopt, our requirements will not be effectively dealt with on the national level. The impact of those requirements on the national economy must be analysed from week to week and from month to month. And until we get a system of that description, do not let us adopt the system of the Chrysler people, as I saw it in Detroit, of trying to buy our work force because we do not train the men in this country.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) claimed that 1 said the Australian working man did not do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. That is completely untrue. From my remarks it was obvious that any criticism I made in that respect was directed at the Seamen’s Union and the Waterside Workers Federation.
.- I associate myself with my friend, the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson), in paying a tribute to the Government, to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) and to Sir Tasman Heyes and his department for their handling of our immigration programme. I would also like to say that the Opposition, when in government, did a great thing when it initiated this scheme. [Quorum formed.] 1 did not realize that the animosity between the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who called for a quorum, and his Leader was so great that he would want to prevent me from speaking when I was praising his Leader. For once I find myself in accord with the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who was generous enough to praise the Government for continuing the immigration scheme.
I wish to direct my remarks to the question of naturalization. At the outset, I want to refer to the excellent work of this Government in removing some of the anomalies in the Nationality and Citizenship Act which gave rise to the cry of “ second-class citizenship “. The Government removed two discriminatory provisions in the then existing legislation. The first of these was that a naturalized Australian who resided out of Australia for seven years or more without reporting .to the Australian consul in the place where he resided, ceased to have Australian citizenship. The other provision, which I think most honorable members will recall, was that the Minister had power to cancel the citizenship of, and in some circumstances to deport, a naturalized Australian who, within five years of being naturalized, committed a criminal offence in this or any other country which resulted in a sentence of imprisonment for twelve months or more. In 1958, the act was amended and those provisions were removed. But unfortunately there is to be found in another act the last bastion of this discrimination. I refer to the residential qualification for social service benefits. I have before me a letter from a constituent, a Dutch woman, who writes - 4 years ago I applied for naturalization and ask about social service. Twice I was assured by reaching the age after the ceremony I was eligible for age pension. I mentioned I was 57 at the time.
Now 4 years later I am informed, being only 13 years in Australia by reaching the age of 65 I cannot get any pension. Why are people not told before they sign the papers, so they know what to expect. I do not think it is fair to migrants who carry the responsibility of being British subjects and deprive the same rights.
As for the Government’s announcement that Australians living away for a 1, ng lime must wait the same time, it is not the same thing.
To my idea the right thing to do was, 5 years after the ceremony there should not be any difference between Australian citizen and naturalized Australians.
Please could -you inform me what to do oi what kind of means is available for me, as T must retire from my employment in the Public Service on reaching the age of 65 and being then only 13 years in Australia.
This problem will become of increasing importance. But the point I wish to make is that this last discrimination was never meant by our legislators to act against immigrants. It is a matter of historic record that the residential qualification first appeared in our statutes in 1908, when the period was 25 years. In 1909, when all these matters were brought under the Commonwealth standard, the period was reduced to 20 years to agree with the period which had previously existed in the various States. The residential qualification of 20 years was introduced at that time for one purpose only. If people left Australia and spent most of their adult working life in another country, contributing nothing to Australia’s national welfare, they could not expect to come back and reap the benefit of social services for which they had made no contribution. It is quite elementary. At that time, it could not have been imagined that we would have this immigration scheme, and the residential qualification was never intended to be used in a discriminatory way against immigrants.
Immigrants reside here and work here. After they have been here for a minimum of five years, they may become naturalized. The suggestion is that five years after they become naturalized, they should become eligible for social service benefits. This is a matter on which I think the Minister for Immigration could well get together with his colleague, the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), to see whether some amendment could be made to the Social Services Act. The suggestion I have put forward would mean that for a minimum of ten to eleven years, allowing for the time taken in arranging a naturalization ceremony, immigrants would contribute to the national welfare and would thereby become entitled to share in the benefits.
– Why not make the period ten years, straight out?
– I thank the honorable member for his interjection. The reason I do not suggest that immigrants become eligible for these benefits ten years after they arrive here is this: The suggestion I have made would provide a stimulus, particularly to women-folk, to apply for naturalization. I have before me figures covering the five years to 30th June, 1960, which show that although 451,000 immigrants were eligible for naturalization, 216,000, or about 48 per cent., have not applied for naturalization. My suggestion would provide a stimulus to these people to become naturalized, and I believe that this is vitally necessary. I do not think that this would place a very great charge on the Government. I believe that most of our immigrants, whilst they had health and strength, would prefer to work and receive a higher rate of remuneration than merely sit about receiving social service benefits when they reached the required age. I put the arguments very strongly to the Minister for Immigration and I hope that he will discuss this matter with the Minister for Social Services.
A second matter of importance concerning naturalization that I should like to mention is that the Italian Government does not recognize the renunciation of citizenship by its nationals. This has started to create problems. When these naturalized Australians visit Italy they find that, if they are of military age, they are still liable to be called up for military service. If young children are covered by the renunciation of their parents, they also find when they go overseas that they are liable for military service in Italy, if they are of military age. This matter is causing grave concern. The modus operandi insisted upon by the Italian Government is that these people go to the Italian consul, again renounce and give certain information which is sent to Italy.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was speaking of the problems of Italian nationals who have been granted Australian citizenship, and who may later make a visit to Italy. I spoke of the fact that their Australian naturalization, and even that of their children, was not recognized by the Italian Government.
– I direct your attention, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to the state of the committee.
– On a point of order, Mr. Temporary Chairman, is it proper for my honorable friend from East Sydney to direct attention to the state of the committee when there are only two members of the Labour Party in the chamber?
– The honorable1 member for East Sydney is quite in order. There is no substance in the Minister’s point of order. [Quorum formed.]
– An attempt has been made to prevent me1 from making my point, but I will try again to do so. I was speaking of Italian nationals who gain Australian naturalization, and of their children, of course, who are considered to have automatically become naturalized.
When these persons make a visit to Italy, they and their children, if they are of military age, run a risk of being called up for military service in Italy. If the person concerned wishes to avoid this, I am told that he must follow a certain modus operandi laid down by the Italian Government. He must go to one of the Italian consuls in Australia and renounce his Italian allegiance. The relevant documents are then sent to the magistrate of the town or city in which he was born, and there a public announcement is made of the renunciation of Italian allegiance. The papers are then returned to Australia and the person involved is released from allegiance to Italy. I suggest that the Minister, when negotiating new agreements with the Italian Government early next year, should put to that Government the proposition that no naturalized Australian citizen, who was previously an Italian national, when on a visit to Italy, should be compelled by the Italian Government to undertake military service.
It is a rather remarkable fact, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that whenever the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) feels like it he can direct all the members of the Labour Party to absent themselves from the chamber, so that he may embarrass the Government and its speakers. He indulges in these tactics to such an extent that I would suggest to the Leader of the House that something should be done to revise the Standing Orders, with particular attention to the numbers necessary to form a quorum for debate in the Parliament.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I had some sympathy with the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) in his attempts to make the point that he has just succeeded in putting forward. It was an important point, and I think it merits consideration. We have heard during the day a considerable amount of admiration and approval expressed concerning the immigration policy and procedures of the Government. There are many aspects of the immigration programme of which I approve, and in respect of them I join in the expressions of appreciation that have already been voiced. But although so much has been said along those lines, I feel I am still left with substantial opportunities to be critical. After all, in the best-regulated houses critical attention should sometimes be given to the running of the house.
We have heard again to-day, particularly from the honorable member from Sturt (Mr. Wilson), the claim that has been put forward by Government supporters on previous occasions to the effect that immigration has been maintained at a stable and high level. This is completely contrary to the facts. The numbers of migrants who have come to Australia have fluctuated in a most erratic manner in recent years. Let me give the committee some figures showing the total excess of arrivals over departures in the years since 1949. The figures are as follows: -
I have given only round figures, but it is obvious that the immigration programme has followed a most erratic course. Let us look at the numbers of permanent arrivals from main sources of immigration. These figures are even more significant. Arrivals from Britain totalled 50,000 in 1956, 52,000 in 1957, 60,000 in 1958, and 64,000 in 1959, but for the first half of this year there were only 17,535 arrivals from Great Britain. If that figure is doubled, arrivals this year will probably total about 35,000, compared with 64,000 last year.
Looking at the figures for immigrants from Austria, we see the same kind of instability. Last year there were 1,184, whilst for the first half of this year there were only 540. Figures for other main sources of immigration are -
The total for all main sources of immigration was 124,000 in 1959, and only 37.090 in the first six months of this year. What has gone wrong with immigration this year? The record is not one of stability, and the figures do not indicate a high level.
In considering this question I think we have to ask ourselves: Upon what does immigration depend? The immigration programme in Australia* depends mainly on economic and social conditions in this country. Over the last ten or twelve years economic and social conditions have not been such as to induce a steady and uniform intake of immigrants. First, there is the matter of employment. We can never have an effective immigration scheme if jobs are not available for people we bring here. But only in 1952-53 has the employment situation proved a significant handicap to our immigration programme. For the rest of the time jobs have been available. 1 believe, however, that too much significance is placed on the effect of the level of employment alone. There are other aspects of the matter which are most important. There is the question of the availability of housing and of essential services, opportunities for education, and so on. Immigration to Australia is being severely affected by the inadequacy of these amenities and services. I suggest that the department, which is concerned with maintaining immigration at a high level, should give attention to these matters, but do we ever hear a word to the effect that it is doing so? Do we ever hear a word from the Department of Immigration or from the Government to the effect that distorted social and economic conditions are holding back migration to Australia? We never hear a word along those lines. It looks as though the Government is not aware that the shortage of houses, educational opportunities and schools and the lack of sewerage, water supplies and street construction are all holding back immigration to Australia.
The first point is that the level of immigration to Australia has not been stable or high. It has been kept to the level where it is now because of the inadequacies of housing and other essential services. The second point I want to submit to the committee is that within any given total of migrants to Australia our immigration policy is based on discrimination. In that connexion one has only to refer to the very excellent answer given to a question that I asked and recorded in “ Hansard “ of 10th May, 1960, at page 1563. The answer gives a complete statement of the rules made by the Department of Immigration covering the entry of immigrants to Australia. If we look at these rules - and they are far too detailed to permit of consideration here - we find that there is discrimination in favour of northern Europe. We pay immigrants to come to Australia from northern Europe; we permit them to come from southern Europe and we reject those from Asia. The nearer you get to Australia, the more difficult it is to emigrate here. This discrimination might be justifiable.
– Is it not?
– No, not in my opinion; but I shall deal with that matter in a few moments. To i educe discrimination, it is necessary first to accept that the Government exercises discrimination; but there is a way of doing it without changing the principles upon which the Government acts. I think it is pretty clear that in many parts of Europe, we want a decentralization of examination procedures. We want a speeding up of procedure. 1 referred to these matters last year. I am sure that increasing attention could be given to the decentralization of examination procedures, particularly in Mediterranean countries, and to a speeding up of the processing.
At this stage, one is forced to ask: Why have resrictions been based on a fairly narrow principle of close relationship? Why have that discrimination when, in the case of Italy, the total number of immigrants to Australia reached only 4,540 in the first six months of this year compared with 14,000 last year, whilst the total number of immigrants from Greece was 2,824? There is discrimination against certain people, particularly the older persons from the Mediterranean countries. That is proved by statistics which may be summarized as follows, showing the percentages of migrants in various age groups: -
Any one who has been in contact with immigrants as I have been knows that we meet cases of discrimination every day. I have between 40 and 50 cases in the hands of the Department of Immigration now involving Italian immigrants who are trying to get their parents to Australia. There is delay, and various considerations are taken into account, but in view of the low percentage of persons in the above age groups who have been permitted to come from those countries, why is there a need for this restriction at all? Older people should be allowed to enter Australia, particularly in the light of the large proportion of active workers who have immigrated to Australia, who now form a sufficiently large proportion to justify permission for them to support the older persons.
Immigration must be placed on a humane basis. The present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) and the Department of Immigration have moved a long way in that direction. The approach is far more humane now than it was a few years ago and I ask that it be advanced still further. Families must be united. We cannot expect parents to forget their children in Australia. We cannot expect the children here to forget their parents and relations overseas merely because they cannot meet the required standards. Residents in Australia cannot be expected to forget their mothers and fathers overseas simply because they are old. Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters cannot be expected to forget each other because they are physically handicapped. This element of discrimination in our immigration system could be reduced considerably in the ways I have suggested.
In the few moments I have left, I wish to speak about Asian immigrants. Quite clearly, there is a very marked discrimination against them. The answer to a question I asked contains the following rule concerning persons not of European descent -
The established policy is that, in general, persons not of European descent are not eligible to enter Australia for permanent residence.
The sole basis is whether they are of European descent or not. This is the white Australian policy. I have two cases in the hands of the Minister now. In one of them, a line has been drawn down the centre of a family. The father and son are excluded, but the mother and daughter would be allowed to come to Australia. That line has been drawn upon somebody’s interpretation of whether the persons concerned are of European origin. The white Australia policy was the act of a past and passing generation. Those of that generation have earned our gratitude for having established a homogeneous population in Australia. In doing that, they have avoided the problems and the racial conflicts and suffering that might otherwise have arisen. In this connexion, I direct the attention of the committee to a booklet entitled “ Control or Colour Bar? “ published by the Immigration Reform Group at the Melbourne University. I cite these passages from the booklet -
As things are, the notion of White Australia is poisoning our relations with Asia, indeed with the whole non-European world.
The group also states, rightly I think -
A change is taking place in the public attitude to White Australia. As each year passes, the number of Australians fiercely opposed to any alteration of our immigration policy becomes smaller. The number whose private talk and public behaviour reflects serious race prejudice becomes smaller still.
I recommend this booklet to honorable members. I find that it has hardly ever been read. I inquired for it in the Minister’s office this morning, and I do not think there has ever been a copy there. In the end, I found it in the Parliamentary Library.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I do not. wish to obtrude too long on the time of honorable members in a debate on the Estimates because I well remember during the eight years 1 was a private member myself, this was an occasion when, quite properly, one felt private members should give expression to their own views. But there are a number of things I feel the committee should be made aware of so far as the immigration programme is concerned. Of course, I am spurred to say something by the interesting, the novel, the provocative and the extraordinarily lachrymose speech of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). Really, Sir, my honorable friend was extraordinarily depressing. He asked at the beginning of his speech-
– Immigration is not a sacred cow. You should stand up to some criticism, and you will get it now. That is no way to speak to the honorable member at the table.
– I should like to know what the honorable member for Parkes thinks he is doing in speaking in this way when I am replying to the criticism which has been made by the honorable member for Yarra.
– Why call him lachrymose?
– Of course he is lachrymose.
– You have been spoiled by too much flattery.
Order! The honorable member for Parkes will remain silent.
– I remind the honorable member for Parkes that this is a debate in committee and that I have the right, not only to inform the committee of the position, but also to reply - which I hope I shall do quite sensibly - to the criticisms which have been made. I am stating the impression that the honorable member for Yarra put into my mind when I say that he was lachrymose. I found him depressing. When the committee hears what I have to say I think it will agree with me that he was unduly depressing.
The honorable member began his observations by asking: What is wrong with immigration this year? I should think that it would be much more correct to ask: How well has the immigration programme for the last financial year proceeded? The committee may be interested to know that we set a target of 125,000 migrants for the financial year ended 30th June last. Not only did we attain that target, but also we exceeded it by 8,684 persons, making a total intake of 133,684 persons for 1959-60. This was the highest intake for eight years.
– Now tell us about the first six months of this year.
– The honorable member for Yarra then seemed to think that in spite of this achievement during the financial year 1959-60 things suddenly started to go awry during the 1960 calendar year. He may be interested to know - I am sure the honorable member for Richmond will be interested too - that for the first six months of 1960 the actual permanent gross arrivals were 37,181 British, 5,467 Dutch, 5,538 Germans, and 4,651 Greeks. Bearing in mind what I propose to tell the committee presently about our objectives for the coming year, I think it will agree with me that the progress score so far is certainly very satisfactory.
I wish to inform honorable members now, because it is their due, and because I believe this to be the right occasion, of some further details of our results in the last financial year. Our total intake was 133,684, and of this number 69,317 were assisted migrants and 64,367 paid their own fares. Nearly 51 per cent. of the total arrivals were British. Of the 69,317 migrants who were assisted, 34,079 came from the United Kingdom and Eire, 1,028 came from Malta and 467 came from other British countries. The committee may be interested to know some of our other chief sources of migration from Europe. We received 10,143 Dutch of whom 8,800 were assisted; 10,090 Germans, of whom 8,970 were assisted; 17,022 Italians of whom 3,046 were assisted; 6,650 Greeks of whom 2,184 were assisted; 2,177 Austrians most of whom were assisted; 1,971 Finns came to Australia; we were glad to welcome 1,484 Poles, and we brought to our shores 1,709 Yugoslavs. In view of the increasing ties beteween Australia and the United States of America, honorable members may be glad to know that 1,895 people came here from that country.
There is another aspect of our intake last year which I think the committee will appreciate. Of the overall total of 133,684 persons, 69,700, or 52.2 per cent., were workers, and the remaining 64,000, in round figures, were dependants. Taking these figures into a little more detail, we received 16,700 skilled tradesmen; 9,100 semi-skilled workers; 6,700 men and women for the professions; 10,600 for commercial and clerical operations; 4,100 rural workers, and 8,600 labourers. In this connexion I should like to stress that not only the skilled, (semi-skilled, and unskilled workers but also the immigrants generally who came to Australia in the last financial year were noticeably, in the main, of high quality.
The criticism has been made in other places. - not in this chamber - ‘that the Government, in its desire to attract migrants to Australia, is perhaps placing too much emphasis upon numbers and not enough emphasis on quality. I take this opportunity now to refute that statement quite definitely. All the evidence that my department has received and all the evidence that I have obtained myself in the migrant centres, on ships that I have met, and from the newcomers with whom I have spoken, completely belies that statement. One of the really encouraging features of the immigration programme is that in spite of the difficulties in recruitment that we are meeting in other parts of the world, we still, as a result of our selection methods and, I am proud to say, of the skill of the officers of my department, continue to obtain people of high quality whom Australia or any other country would be proud to receive. 1 wish to turn now to this year’s programme. The Government has decided that the overall target will remain the same as it was last year - 125,000 migrants. Of these, 65,000 will be assisted and 60,000 will be unassisted, that is to say, they will come to Australia paying their own fares. Although I do not wish to weary honorable members too much by being too statistical, they may be interested to hear details of the assisted migration programme. We aim to bring from the United Kingdom 34,000 assisted migrants; from Malta 1,000; from the Netherlands 8,000; from Germany 8,000; from Austria 1,500; from Italy 3,000; from Greece 1,500 and from Spain 1,000, which is double the intake that we received from that country last year. We propose to bring in 1,000 British migrants under the general assisted passage scheme from countries other than the United Kingdom. I refer to Eire and other countries belonging to the British Commonwealth. Under the same general assistedpassage plan, we propose to bring in 3,000 from foreign countries. We are also expecting the arrival of another 3,000 refugees. This makes a total of 65,000 assisted-passage migrants.
Honorable members are aware, of course, that these people are not to be had just for the asking and merely because the ^Government establishes a target. The problems of encouraging the types that we desire are still very real but, as I said a few moments ago, I have every confidence in the ability of my department; and that through the implementation of our own schemes we shall achieve these targets, and perhaps we shall do as well as we did in the previous financial year. It is only fair, though, to remind honorable members of some of the difficulties of sustaining the flow of skilled workers from Britain and Europe. There is the obvious obstacle of the increasing prosperity of the old world. We in this country do not deplore that. After all, it is one of the great forces making for peace, and we must all be thankful for it but, nonetheless, it makes our own objectives as a migrant country all the more difficult to attain. Then again, rather as a concomitant of this prosperity in Britain and on the Continent, there is quite a perceptible degree of opposition from employers in the big manufacturing industries in Northern Europe to the emigration of people whom they feel could be useful in the success and expansion of their own economies. These factors are heightened by the consideration that Germany and Holland, to give two examples of countries from which, as I have told the committee, we have received the most constant stream of worthy migrants, are actually importing workers from one or two other European countries - from Italy in particular, this year. Speaking from memory, I think the last figures I saw showed that approximately 60,000 Italian workers had come to Germany since last January.
Again in fairness to the committee, 1 must remind honorable members of the rising winds of competition from other countries which, like ourselves, are seised of the necessity of building up their populations as quickly as circumstances will allow. Canada is raising her sights this year, New Zealand is proposing to be more active in the way of immigration, especially from the United Kingdom; and South Africa, perhaps rather belatedly, has now entered the field, and though she may not be a serious competitor to Australia she will nonetheless be one of the countries which will be running against us in the race.
The Government is only too conscious of the necessity to counteract these things, and therefore, if honorable members will examine the papers before the committee, they will notice that the publicity vote has been increased from a total of £150,000 for 1959-60 to £195,000 for 1960-61. 1 am confident that these obstacles, however formidable, will be overcome, and my confidence is increased by what I feel, without wishing to say too much, were the quite remarkable results we achieved in the last financial year. Without wishing to flatter ourselves unduly, it is true to say, as I am sure honorable members who have been abroad lately will testify, that no country of immigration in any part of the world enjoys a better reputation than our own; and I take this opportunity, as the Minister who has th? honour of being in charge of this department, to express my own appreciation of the credit which is due in full measure not only to the distinguished head of my department, but to the whole gamut of officers both in Australia and in our overseas posts. They are, in truth, to use the hackneyed phrase, a dedicated people. It ever a group of civil servants is worthy of praise, the Australian public will find it in the Department of Immigration, both here and abroad.
I think the committee will agree that Australia has demonstrated, through the strength of her economy, a capacity for continuous immigration. Some of us. perhaps, may wish that we could be doing more, seeking for dazzling results, and I hope that when inflationary pressures have eased wisdom will decree the raising ot our sights still higher. Meanwhile, there is much to be said for a steady, unbroken stream consonant with the capacity of our industrial growth and our emerging diversified social order. As it is - and I wish to conclude on this note in reply to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), because I think the point should be emphasized - the migrant flow has increased from 107,000 in 1957-58 to 116,000 in 1958-59, and now to 133,000 in the year just ended. Without being complacent, I think the Government can claim this as no mean achievement, and one which will be remembered as an encouraging signpost towards greater things to come.
.- I am prompted to speak mainly because of the remarks made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) this morning in reply to a question addressed to him by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison. , I gathered from the Minister’s remarks that he was satisfied that the responsibility for the recruitment and training of apprentices was purely a matter for the States. He also took the opportunity - and this is not unusual for him - of criticizing the contribution of the trade union movement in this connexion. As a trade unionist, let me say that the Commonwealth seems to be rather too easily satisfied about its responsibility in connexion with apprentices. Here we have the same old attitude - let the States do the job, it is not our responsibility - and I suggest that the following remarks by the Select Committee on Road Safety could be applied equally to the Government’s activities in many other directions - . . . there is opportunity for the Commonwealth to give direct leadership in the field, but in neither the Australian Capital Territory nor the Northern Territory, nor in relation to its own vehicle fleets, has the opportunity been utilized to any extent.
Those remarks certainly are equally applicable to the Government’s interest in apprenticeship. I suggest that if we consider the Commonwealth’s responsibility in the field of apprenticeship apart from what the Commonwealth Government regards as the responsibility of the States, we see that the Commonwealth has an opportunity to give a lead in this field and that it has failed to avail itself of that opportunity. In this connexion, the situation in respect of apprenticeship is similar to that in respect of road safety. In that field, also, as in industrial safety, the Commonwealth Government has an opportunity to give a lead and set an example to the community. After all, goodness is best taught by example. I think that that is the test to be applied to this Government with respect to apprenticeship.
In my experience, no employer has availed himself so little of the opportunity to train apprentices as this Government has done, particularly in the fields in which it engages in constructional activities. In my view, it could and should train the maximum number of apprentices permissible under the law, but it does not do so.
Even where it does employ apprentices, it does not set as good an example as has been set by many private employers. Many good employers realize that apprentices can be encouraged in their training if they are given just a little more than the minimum required by law under their award. But this Government’s attitude is that the minimum should be the maximum, and it offers no incentive to apprentices who are interested in their work and who want to apply themselves. It does not encourage them to carry on with their work and to maintain their keenness.
The particular Commonwealth department which is responsible for the letting of great developmental contracts could at least, as has been suggested to it in years gone by, impose on great engineering firms which come from overseas to undertake projects, for example, like the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme, and which obtain contracts which will keep them occupied for many years on work of a kind that has not been undertaken in Australia before, an obligation to train apprentices and engineering personnel. Such an obligation could be imposed under the contracts entered into.
A present, these big firms do not train any Australian apprentices in these new fields of activities, as I can illustrate by reference to one big United States firm. This firm - Braun Transworld Corporation - was not engaged on a Commonwealth Government contract, but came to Victoria to construct a £30,000,000 oil refinery. This kind of project had never before been undertaken in Australia. Several Dutch concerns, also, constructed refineries in other States. All these organizations brought their key personnel with them and attracted from other employers simply by offering higher wages the remainder of the labour that they required. I have no great quarrel with that. I am simply pointing out how they acquire their labour force. Although there was plenty of opportunity to train Australian boys in the kind of work with which these firms were particularly concerned, in my experience not one of them sought to do so. Although there had never previously been an opportunity for Australian boys to obtain training in this Work, these organizations employed no Australian apprentices. Braun Transworld
Corporation constructed the refinery, took its profits out of Australia and did not leave behind any boys trained in the activities in which it specialized.
In the field of apprenticeship, there is on the Commonwealth Government an obligation which it does not discharge and which it could well afford to discharge. If it carried out this obligation, it would do a good job for Australia. I know that the Department of Immigration tries to obtain skilled men from other countries, but that is an expensive proposition. In this connexion, 1 am reminded that five years ago the Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria was in a great deal of difficulty because it was unable to obtain skilled tradesmen. We heard some criticism this morning by the Minister for Labour and National Service about the attitude of the unions towards apprenticeship. Representatives of the corporation came to us and asked whether we would agree to the adoption of a dilutee training scheme similar to that which had to be introduced during the Second World War. We looked at the number of apprentices employed by the corporation and found that it was not employing even onetenth of the number ‘that it had the capacity to employ and could have employed under the law. We then told the corporation that, in the short term, the problem might be solved by seeking skilled tradesmen in Europe or by employing and training dilutees, but that the only sound and proper solution in the interests of the unions and Australia as a whole was to employ and train to Australian standards of skill the maximum possible number of apprentices. In the very next year, the Gas and Fuel Corporation took on enough apprentices to make up the maximum number that it was permitted to employ, and it is now turning out Australian-trained workmen.
Australian-trained tradesmen have a standard of skill far superior to that which is brought to this country by tradesmen who come here under the immigration programme. I do not want to be critical of that programme, because I know how hard the Department of Immigration tries when it is seeking skilled labour. I know, also, something of the attitude of some European governments, because I investigated this matter in Europe. Some of those governments do not want to export their skilled labour. They want to retain it. As a result, we do not get the best from overseas. Although we may not be able to get the best from overseas, we can train here in Australia the best tradesmen in the world, but this Government is not doing all that it could do or ought to do in the matter.
We were told this morning that since we must gear our economy to secondary industry to a greater extent than we have done in the past, the future of Australia is very largely bound up with the availability of skilled labour. The most important thing in the labour field on which we can concentrate to-day is apprenticeship. Whatever field of human endeavour we consider, all other things being equal, the operative who has had the. best training gives the best output. That applies in every field, whether it be art, technology or the professions. In all circumstances, the person who has had the advantage of proper training will give the best output. I have in mind the importance of it to Australia. We are being outstripped because of our failure to train, not only apprentices, but professional engineers and others. The Government is remiss in not concentrating upon this matter to the extent that it could and should. On 1st January, 1959, the Melbourne “ Herald “ stated in an editorial -
There will be wide support for the point made by Dr. David Warren, of the C.S.I.R.O., that Australian technologists must get better salaries and social standing if we are to keep pace with world scientific advances. Speaking at the Council of Adult Education summer school at Albury recently, he said that Russia realized 30 years ago that her future place in the world would depend on technological advances and was now getting the benefit.
We did not realize this 30 years ago, but surely it is not too late for us to realize now that our future, to a very large extent, is wrapped up in the training of our own boys as engineers and technologists. As I said before, Australians will stand comparison with the people of any other country. I was speaking to the chief engineer of the American firm, Braun Transworld Corporation, about the skill of Australian tradesmen. I asked him whether his organization had made any assessment of the skill of Australian tradesmen compared with that of American tradesmen when it tendered for its work. He said that his organization had assessed Australian tradesmen as being worth at least 80 per cent, of what American tradesmen were worth so far as skill was concerned. However, he said that his organization had now found that the Australian tradesman was worth, not only as much as the American tradesman but that, under equal circumstances, he was worth more.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, before going on to the subject that I want to discuss - the question of awards - I should like to criticize two or three Opposition speakers. I was very amused by the speech of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) because of his very inconsequence. He talked of the inadequacies of sewerage, housing and education, but did not speak of the cost of improving these facilities. I was also very intrigued by the way in which the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) had to correct the honorable member’s gross inaccuracies. I often do that myself. Frequently, after the honorable member has spoken in this chamber, I go to the Library and obtain the necessary information to correct his inaccuracies. Inaccuracy is a socialist failing. Socialism and its kindred collectivist creeds does not rely on truth and accuracy. They subscribe to the theory that the end justifies the means.
I also wish to correct the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). My view of the honorable member for Grayndler is that he practices demagoguery. In this chamber nobody is deceived by him, but, unfortunately, we are broadcasting. Time and time again, this morning, he stressed that judges’ salaries had been increased by ?50 a week.
– That is right.
– The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith says that that is right. My calculation makes the amount ?40 a week. But, after all, what is ?10? I am surprised that the honorable member for Grayndler was so moderate. If you deduct from the ?40 the amount of tax payable you will find that the actual increase in judges’ salaries was about ?15 a week, which is ?35 less than the amount stated by the honorable member for Grayndler. That is the sort of misstatement which I think that the Opposition should avoid.
I was amused by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who suddenly found out, owing to the seamen’s dispute, that seamen were suffering financial loss, that the industry was suffering financial loss, and that the nation was suffering financial loss. He has just woken, up to the fact that that is the purpose behind Communist leadership in that union - to cause loss and damage. He has just discovered the effect of their sabotage.
Another curious statement of the honorable member for East Sydney was that he was surprised at the small amount of industrial disputation under this Government. What an extraordinary confession! He is just beginning to realize that the trade unionists know where their security of employment lies and that it is not with the Labour Party. Wages, as I think everybody knows, are a very important factor in costs. The more wages rise, the higher becomes the cost, unless you increase productivity. Of equal importance are the hours of work. Those two factors both affect production costs. At the same time, the higher the wages the more the purchasing power. While higher wages may increase costs, they also increase purchasing power.
So we cannot simply oppose higher wages on the ground that they would increase COsts. They also increase prosperity. But the premature introduction of the 40-hour week into Australia in 1947 has been the greatest factor in devaluing our £1. That is never mentioned in this chamber, although honorable members talk about all the other things which erode the £1. I have heard Opposition members talking about the loss of purchasing power of the £1 in comparison with the Canadian dollar, the German mark, the American dollar and other currency. But while we were working a 40- hour week the people of Canada were working a 45-hour week and, in other countries, a 48-hour week was being worked. I ask honorable members to cast their minds back to the time when Mr. McGirr introduced the 40-hour week in New South Wales by legislation, not by arbitration. There were shortages. There was a lack of electric power, there were black-outs and there was industrial unrest. The workers, could not get to and from their work because of transport delays. If workmen work 40 hours a week instead of 44 they produce proportionately fewer homes. So the worker has suffered because of the premature introduction of a 40-hour week. I am not opposed to a 40-hour week but I was opposed to the premature introduction of a 40-hour week. I think that a 40-hour week is suitable for coal-mining and heavy industries but I do not agree that a tram conductor or driver cannot work a 44-hour week.
I mention the 40-hour week because 1 have great suspicion that the purpose of the Premier of New South Wales is to introduce a 35-hour week. He dare not do it at present because by-elections are pending. However, the Premier intervened in the arbitration case in which the miners applied for a 35-hour week. In this chamber, Labour member after Labour member has got on to his hind legs and criticized the Commonwealth Government for intervening in the federal basic wage case. Yet Mr. Heffron, used that intervention as a precedent! In other words, Opposition members attack the Government for certain action but a Labour Premier in New South Wales has. made use of that action as a precedent to intervene in an arbitration case. That is what may be called the double voice of Labour. The 35-hour week, I believe, will be introduced by legislation in New South Wales. Labour’s habit is to prepare the way by flying a kite. A simple instance of the application of that process was the appointment of Dr. Evatt to the Supreme Court of New South Wales. I am not going to question the rights or wrongs of that appointment. All that I want to mention is the method of preparing the public for it. It is talked about and leaked to the press. It causes a great furore and is discussed for a long time until people get used to it, like they get used to a bad smell, and in it comes. Exactly the same thing is going to happen with the 35-hour week. Already the employees of the Sydney City Council have been given four weeks annual leave. This has been done at a time when we are facing the toughest of competition from cheaply produced- goods made by hardworking people overseas and when we have to take our goods thousands, of miles to market. In those conditions, that, is the sort of thing that is being done in New South Wales. Who pays ultimately for generous annual leave provisions and for a shorter working week? Does any one think that we can get something for nothing in this world? Of course we cannot! The 35-hour week would be very nice if we could afford it.
The argument used in support of the 40-hour week when it was introduced by legislation in New South Wales was that if the workers had to work fewer hours, they would work harder and produce more than before. The late Mr. Percy Clarey said that production had increased as the result of the introduction of the 40-hour week - until the figures to the contrary were produced. In order to maintain in a shorter working week the previous volume of production, workers have to work overtime at time and a half and double time.
Another thing that disturbs me is the habit that the Labour Party has - I do not say that it is a habit of the trade unions - of misleading the public. Honorable members opposite talk about the freezing of the basic wage. That was not a truthful term to use, because all that happened was that there was a discontinuance of the quarterly adjustments which were creating inflationary pressures, particularly in New South Wales. Honorable members opposite claim that wages are pegged and that profits are not pegged. But the basic wage and award wages are not maximum rates - they are minimum rates. So honorable members opposite and their friends outside are completely misleading the public. By making those statements they are doing no service to their country.
The honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay) mentioned another matter which also disturbs me. I refer to the fact that a very large proportion of trade unionists are in the semi-skilled and unskilled categories of workers. These people constitute a tremendous force in the trade union system of Australia - a force which is not justified. The honorable member for Darebin talked about the skilled men. They are the men who are of the greatest use to the nation. They are the tradesmen, the highly skilled technologists and all those workers who have given their time to training themselves so that they can receive a greater reward. But their skill is not getting the recognition that it should get, because the forces behind the trades unions now are represented by the unskilled and the semi-skilled. I say that the skilled tradesman is the aristocrat of the workers, but he is not getting his entitlement. An attempt was made to give the skilled workers that entitlement when the 28 per cent, increase in the margins for skill was awarded. But every Tom, Dick and Harry, whether he was a tram driver, a tram conductor or a semi-skilled or unskilled employee, claimed that he too was entitled to the 28 per cent, marginal increase. So in large measure the benefit of the increase was lost by the skilled worker. There is a great difference between the skilled and the unskilled or semi-skilled worker. As the basic wage rises, naturally the value of the margin paid to skilled workers is reduced. The result is that there is no incentive for a man to train himself. I do not care whether he is a socialist, a capitalist or anything else; there is nothing that helps production more than an incentive to the worker.
We are faced with the problem of costs of production. We talk about the importance to us of secondary industries. Of course, we must have secondary industries to employ an increased population if we are to hold Australia, but secondary industries are entirely dependent on primary industries. Without our primary industries, we could not survive. The introduction of a 35-hour week would increase the costs of primary industries and in that way they could be destroyed entirely. By destroying our primary industries, we would be destroying the goose that lays the golden eggs.
I should like to work shorter hours too, if I could afford to. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) talks about automation. That is a factor which is entering into our production and which has to be carefully watched so that the skilled worker will get a fair deal. But there are tens of thousands of people working in the service industries to-day who cannot be replaced by automation, and if a 35-hour week is introduced for all, the cost of keeping those people in employment will be too great to be borne.
I believe in a system of incentives. I believe that incentives should be encouraged. The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority has broken working records again and again because of incentives. 1 agree with the honorable member for Darebin that the Australian worker is unequalled, provided he wants to work and is allowed to work. The old slogans about working for the boss and working yourself out of a job are things of the past. The State dockyard at Newcastle is another example of the satisfactory working of an incentive system. The workers there are not showing signs of strain, but they are working hard and getting a proper profit from their extra labour. The lead bonus paid to workers on the lode at Broken Hill is another form of incentive payment. I myself believe that it would be possible to meet the demand for higher standards in our own economy and to increase productivity without altering working hours and so on. We could give incentives to the people who deserve them and thereby increase production, and that would enable us to beat our overseas competitors. This is necessary for our survival in Australia.
We are a great trading nation. At present we are relying on our primary products for the major part of our export income, for the funds with which to buy the things our secondary industries need, and for the development of the nation. The entire industrial structure in this country depends on costs of production, and in costs of production wages and the length of the working week are very important factors.
.- During this debate the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) made some statistical references which were rather laughed out of court. In justice to the honorable member, I wish to point out - and I am sure the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) will appreciate what I am about to say - that any fault in the presentation of those statistics by the honorable member for Yarra stems from the peculiar way in which the statistics are grouped. They are grouped in months, not in full periods of twelve months.
Government supporters. - Ah!
– Please, Sir, let me explain. I cannot stand noisy interjections. Instead of giving the total for the year, the honorable member for Yarra gave the figure for January to March; but the point that he was seeking to make is still valid. That point is that there is a discrepancy in num bers, between various years, of permanent arrivals in Australia. If you multiply the figure for that three-month period by four, you will get the figures that the honorable member had in mind, and understand the case that he attempted to put to the Minister.
– Then why does not the honorable member for Yarra himself make a personal explanation?
– He asked me to do so on his behalf, because at the moment he is engaged outside.
– Well, it should not be accepted.
– If the honorable member for Mallee made a personal explanation it could not be accepted, because it would be completely unintelligible to the Chair, to me, or to “ Hansard “. What I wish to point out to the Minister is that I do not think it is any good for him to be hoity-toity with us over our criticisms in regard to immigration, because we on this side - and it was with the people now on this side that the immigration policy originated, as the Minister would be the first to agree - have given the Minister unqualified support in principle, on immigration. But on the question of how the immigration policy is working out we reserve the right to give him some sharp reminders of things that are happening which perhaps he does not see. Because of the Minister’s usual decorum and high standard of behaviour, I was rather surprised when he tried to score off the honorable member for Yarra by making a reference to a “ lachrymose speech “ and saying other things like that which were not actually true. In regard to immigration, we believe that a good job has been done both in the originating days, prior to this Government’s coming into office, and since this Government came in. We know the grievous problems that arise with regard to immigration, and we can understand what the Minister is doing. But we feel that to-day he gets the conducted tour treatment too often. While it may not be his fault, there are things about immigration that just cannot be put on that high level. He must now look beneath the surface.
You cannot conduct migration like a Rotary meeting, with soft drinks and crackers and the best of all good things in this best of all possible worlds. The biological necessity for migration, the hard fact that you squeeze a European into the Australian scene does not make for his immediate happiness. We are so damn complacent; we believe he ought to feel lucky that he is in this country, but he is going through hell’s own misery, in some cases, trying to get adjusted and assimilated. And some of these things arise from the criticism of the migrant because he does not know just where he is going. Imagine a Polish migrant, who has lived all his life in the fastnesses of Poland and has never before seen a fast aeroplane, except perhaps one that bombed him from the sky, and who is suddenly transported half-way round the world and put into a new environment in the industrial side of Sydney. I live among them and I know it.
We <on this side are closer to the migrant and his problems than are the members of the Government, not in all cases but in the majority of cases, because of the fact that the huge industrial areas are held by Labour representatives and we see these things. It is futile to talk about the success of migration when you know that every suburb is reeking with sickness and insanitary conditions because of overcrowding of the available housing by migrants. It is not their fault. We brought them here, and as soon as they have got into the country we wipe our hands of them and then we come into this Parliament and1 do some “hifalutin” talking about how we are bringing people into the country - as if people mean anything unless we can put them to work. We have made it a pretty hard proposition for the migrants, and that is why sometimes the Labour Party issues a warning against numbers.
But to-day I want to talk about actualities. We ask the Minister to help to examine these things and he will see them crying to be done. The trouble is due to the fact that some hundreds of thousands of migrants are not naturalized. Many of them do not want to be naturalized. They realize that things have not gone the way they want them to here; they are not at all sure about the future. They do not want to be second-class Australians, but sometimes they feel that they are. It is not our fault entirely, but is due to the great prob lem of assimilation. You can see some of these migrants are satisfied and progressing, but not all. As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who probably has more migrants in his electorate than has any other honorable member, has said, there is great work being done in migration, but there are people on the fringe who are in great misery and who are not becoming any more Australianized than they were on arrival; and eventually they become hostile.
What is the history of migration? The greatest migration scheme prior to our own was the great trek to America. At one time in America there were newspapers in 90 different languages - Yiddish, Polish, Greek, Italian, Austrian, Hungarian and Magyar newspapers - every language you could think of - and the migrants all had their own little communities and their own set-up and their own clubs and what-not. We do not want that to happen in this young country; we cannot afford it. The drive now should not be entirely on numbers. Incidentally the numbers of European migrants are now diminishing because the European is better off in his own country and will not transplant easily. The hard biological fact of migration is that it is hard on the men and women who come here, but it is great for their children because they become Australians in the process and learn to accept our standards and be assimilated. It is a glory for the youngsters, but it can be Gethsemane for the migrants themselves. We ought to think of them and their problems and ought not to be smug about them.
We should consider calling for reports on the conditions brought about by overcrowding of migrants and other homeless people in the various capitals, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, and see what sort of a story we get there. My own medical officer the other day told me of the overcrowding. He said that as soon as one child gets sick the whole tenement is alive with hepatitis, influenza or one of the modern virus diseases, because they are crowded like chickens in a coop. That cannot be planned migration and we ought to do something better than that. It is not the fault of the Minister, but the fault of migration as we have let it run and it will have to be dealt with by somebody because we cannot just push it aside.
Many of these people are not naturalized because they will not assimilate and they feel that the second-hand Australian idea is not for them. We have made a few feeble attempts with Good Neighbour Councils, which do not go past the cup of tea stage; but we have to turn over the unpleasant situations and find out what we are up against. And you do not do that by having little meetings in town halls and having a cup of tea behind the aspidistras and being damn sure that you do not have a migrant near you in your own life. You have to live with them, and that is what the Labour Party and the unions have been doing. I am not so sure about the dogooders. The honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay) is right on the ball in that respect. The unionist who is actually a mate to the migrant working next to him has been one of the best factors that we have in assimilation. I put this in the kindliest possible way and ask that something be done and that we do not leave it from year to year and take the do-gooders’ approach that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.
Let us examine the report of the New South Wales Minister for Health, who said that mental hospitals in that State were crowded, that every fifth bed was occupied by a mentally unbalanced person and that an appallingly high percentage of such patients were migrants. We are not going to say, and even the most rabid critic of the Government would not say, that those migrants were brought here while mentally unsound. But some sort of situation has developed in which they could not transplant, in which their phobias and feelings got the better of them, and they slipped into a half-world and are now receiving shock treatment. This extremely high percentage of nerve and neurotic cases among migrants has something to do with assimilation and with being tom from their surroundings in Europe and elsewhere. That has something to do with it, together with the lack of housing, and sickness and worry about their children and their schooling and education.
We have to have a look at migration from an entirely different angle. We must expel from our minds the mere idea that ships coming here from all parts of the world crowded with people who are going to make us mighty by weight of numbers is the whole picture. We must be sure to discharge the Christian side of our duty in seeing that they get the things that are needed, now that they are here. These things are obtainable only through government grants. I suggest that the department should have a very powerful advisory council and a very strong planning council, and I think it is a question for the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to see how much money will be required. First, what is required is an investigation into migration conditions. I was told only the other day by my local M.D., who goes around the areas of Petersham and Lewisham, where conditions are by no means as squalid as those that exist in Woolloomooloo and Redfern where migrants concentrate even more heavily, that it is impossible to cope with the sickness, misery and despair he finds there. He is a European doctor. Growing out of all this there is the urge for the migrants to get somewhere, so one of the dynamic lads in the group saves enough money to buy a house and in the process ousts an Australian. Then they have a dozen migrants in that house and they all pay in and eventually they buy another house or a block of flats and in the end take over that little street. Then the Australian is up in arms, saying that the migrant is taking over.
That is the problem in the electorates of Sydney and no one can say that, is not fair comment on the situation. If we are to cure that situation we must first of all see what is wrong. After so many years of migration, and with an extremely talented Minister in charge of affairs, we should be able to get something done about the real assimilation of migrants. We cannot neglect that aspect any longer. We have to take this problem and see what is to be done. We cannot expect State governments on a limited budget to provide the hospitals and schools which are necessary and we cannot leave people in hostels forever. That is why the British migrant is slipping all the time. His home is definitely not a hostel. The Englishman’s home has always been his castle and he will not live in a hostel; and when he kicks the Government I am delighted to hear it. He wants to be not just a migrant but a man on his own terms - and more credit to him for putting up a fight.
I raise these points on migration because I think they are very important. I am disturbed about the vast number “of migrants who are not being assimilated, and I am concerned about the matter of nationalization. It was a rather mean action by the Government recently to refuse to subsidize the cup of tea and piece of cake which the municipalities give when they get the people together at naturalization services. I say to the Minister that that is a most important contact with the immigrant. He has a smile on his face, he appreciates what is being done and he meets the top citizen, the mayor, and probably a few celebrities. After he has taken the oath as a subject of the Queen and has received his certificate, he is taken to another room where he mingles with the crowd and has a cup of tea. That is .the first touch of assimilation.
The Marrickville Council has protested to the Minister, and some other councils in my electorate have said that they cannot continue to bear the burden of providing this amenity when sometimes 200 or 300 migrants attend for naturalization. Quite an amount of the ratepayers’ money is taken in this way, and the councils suggest that the department should bear the burden. I think it would be reasonable for the department to do this, because these ceremonies give a good start to assimilation. I do not think that the Minister personally or the department would be against meeting the cost of this service. It is hopeless to expect the Treasury not to be pinch-penny, but the Minister should have enough weight to ensure that this cost is met. In doing this, we will begin to move away from the rather selfish approach to immigration - that is, that we have these migrants, we have the numbers, they will help us to fight our wars, to reap our crops and to develop our country. But we will not get much out of them unless we give them the same standards as we enjoy ourselves. Poor housing, horribly insanitary conditions and exploitation by landlords and sometimes by employers are not the ways to encourage assimilation. These are not the ways to encourage migrants to become part of the nation, to cast away forever their European background and become
Australians in the strongest sense of the word. They admit that this is a good country for money, that it is a country of progress and that it has a promising future for young people. But some migrants will never master the difficulties of the English language.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I think I should reply to two speeches that v/ere made this morning. The first was a speech made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), in which he referred to the recent seamen’s award made by Mr. Justice Foster and in which he commented on the standards of living in this country since the abandonment of quarterly adjustments. The second speech was made by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), who referred to technical training in the States and to the necessity for co-ordination of training by the Commonwealth.
I shall deal first with the question which relates to the Foster award. Of course, we know that the hours worked by seamen can be irregular and that their conditions can be arduous. But the same conditions can apply in many other industries. The second point I should like to make is that, after all, there was never any necessity for the seamen to strike; they had the remedy in their own hands, if they had had the wish to pursue it. The remedy was clear. If they had wished to have a variation of their overtime payments for Saturday and Sunday work, they could have appealed to the Full Bench of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The Australian Council of Trade Unions has asked them to appeal to the full commission and has agreed to intervene in the case, if an appeal is lodged
– How long would it take for such an appeal to be heard?
– A very short period. Mr. Justice Foster made it clear to the leaders of the Seamen’s Union that they should give it a trial and after the trial period, come back to him, if they felt that his award was unfair and that what he had said was incorrect. Then, based upon the facts, they could ask him to make a variation. That was a reasonable suggestion to make and it offered a solution to this problem without the necessity for strikes and, consequently, without the necessity for the owners to proceed under section 109 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act when they thought the seamen were in contempt of the award. I point out that there was an effective remedy, but the Seamen’s Union did not care to accept it. In consequence, many people are inclined to say that the union deserved what it got.
The honorable member for East Sydney went on to discuss the question of payments and whether there had been a substantial fall in wages as between the 1955 award and the present award. I think the simplest answer is that Mr. Justice Foster has himself said that the awards are not comparable. Under the old award, the seamen worked a 56-hour week of seven days, whilst under the present award they work 40 hours Monday to Friday. In addition, the leave provisions are so different that a true comparison is out of the question. For that reason, the judge suggested, “ Give this award a period of trial, and if you are then dissatisfied come back to me and I will have another look at it for you “. I make no comment on the merits of the case, but I do say that the suggestion of the judge was a sensible one. The question of the amount of wages paid to these men has been raised. In answers to questions without notice and also to questions on notice, I have given what I regard as answers to the statements made by the honorable gentleman from East Sydney. Could I say this to him: An able seaman can earn at least £27 2s. 6d. a week, before deduction of the value of keep and accommodation, without working any overtime. That is the basic amount that he will receive.
– How can he earn it?
– How many hours?
– Explain how he can earn it.
– I will come to that in a moment. If you will wait for a moment, I will give you the answer.
The second point is that the minimum that a seaman could earn for five days Monday to Friday is £17 10s., from which £1 12s. lid. is deducted for keep and accommodation. It is important to remember that in most instances, a seaman would work sixteen ordinary hours at the weekend, without including overtime, for which he would receive time and a quarter for eight hours on Saturday and time and a half for eight hours on Sunday. This would give him an additional £4 7s. 6d. for Saturdays and £5 5s. for Sundays, less 13s. 2d. for keep, making his total wage £24 16s. 5d. That is a statement of what the actual wages of a seaman are.
The honorable gentleman then went on to criticize the overtime rates of 2s. 2id. and 4s. 4id. respectively for Saturday and Sunday overtime work. He was quite right in quoting these figures, but he omitted to mention that they were only the overtime payments and not the basic rates of payment. In addition to those hourly overtime rates the seaman would have his normal pay. He could take his two days leave with pay or he could have pay in lieu of the leave. When the figures are considered in that way, we have a totally different picture from the picture that is presented by saying that all a man gets is 2s. 2id. for Saturdays and 4s. 4id. for Sundays. That, I believe, is an accurate statement of the rates paid to seamen under the present award made by Mr. Justice Foster. I repeat that I have nothing to say on the merits of the decision fixing the rate of pay under the new award. I do make the point, however, that the seamen have a remedy in their own hands if they care to use it. They can have the matter thrashed out and determined by the proper tribunals.
On this point I add only one further comment. The longer I continue to be the Minister for Labour and National Service the more I am convinced that it is in the nation’s interest to support arbitration and to ensure the independence of the arbitral tribunals. I believe that if employees have proper recourse to these tribunals they will receive justice and have their claims quickly investigated.
Now let me turn to another point in reply to the honorable member for East Sydney. He referred to the fact that recently, in answer to a question on notice, I had given him certain facts relating to average and minimum award payments.
When the honorable member made this reference, I leaned across the table and told him that unless he read the explanatory note that I had added to the answer he would be guilty of misrepresentation. I went to very great trouble to prepare the explanatory statement because I believed that the honorable gentleman would attempt to misrepresent the position. I now wish to put the matter in true perspective. The honorable member had asked me this question -
Will he (the Minister) have prepared a table showing the prevailing basic wage in each State, and the figure which would have been reached had the practice been continued in all instances of making adjustments in accordance with the “C” Series Index?
My reply was -
It is, of course, impossible to say what the Federal basic wage would have been if automatic quarterly adjustments had not been eliminated.
I pointed out that it was impossible to say what the wage would have been, and I then went on to say that there were certain figures I could give showing the present Federal and State basic wages in each capital city, and the present “ six capitals “ Federal basic wage, and also what the Federal basic wage would have been if automatic quarterly adjustments, related to those wages, had continued after September, 1953, and there had been no decision of the Federal tribunal in relation to the basic wage after October, 1953. What I pointed out was that the honorable member’s question indicated a complete misunderstanding of the nature of the C series index. I gave the accurate answer based upon the quarterly adjustments that would have been made and on the assumption that no decision of the Federal tribunal relating to the basic wage had been made.
On this point I add only one other comment. The C series index has been shown to be out of date, and the commodity index recently introduced would give a totally different figure from that contained in the schedule that was asked for by the honorable member. If one looked at the true figures he would find that the employee is substantially better off than would appear from the figures given in the schedule.
The honorable member further asked me -
Is it a fact that where the basic wage falls below the figure which would have been reached by adjustments in accordance with the “ C “ Series Index, which was the practice for many years - and this is the significant passage - this constitutes a reduction in the living standards of Australian workers?
Again I point out to the honorable member that this question was based upon a total misconception, because the C series index is a retail price index, and this is what the Government Statistician has to say about it -
Retail price indexes are designed to measure the extent of changes in price levels only. While they may be used as indicating proportionate variations in cost of a constant standard of living, they do not measure the absolute cost of any standard of living, nor the absolute cost of changes in the standard of living.
I went to the trouble of pointing out to the honorable gentleman that he could not use this index as a basis for proving that there had been a reduction in standards of living in this country. I think the opposite could be proved by statistics, if you wished to prove it. The statistics are quite valuable, and in this connexion I have before me a newspaper article, which I do not mind letting the honorable member see. I think that if you want to get a true indication of what is happening to the living standards of the working man in Australia, it is proper to turn to the average weekly earnings and the minimum weekly wage. A recent publication of the Government Statistician shows that the average weekly earnings of Australian male employees during the June quarter of this year were £22 12s., which was £2 2s. a week higher than the figure for the preceding year. This gives a true indication of what the average wage and salary earner is getting, and I have already said what the increases in salaries or wages have been, as compared with the position in June of last year. The minimum weekly wage advanced from £16 12s. 3d. in June, 1959, to £17 9s. 6d. in June, 1960.
These are remarkable figures. They show a picture different from that which the honorable member for East Sydney attempted to paint. They show that the working man is maintaining his position in terms of wages and salaries, and it can also be statistically proved, if you want to rely on statistics, that his standard of living is much better to-day than it has ever been in the history of Australia.
Those are the two points I wanted to make in reply to the honorable member for East Sydney. I repeat that when preparing my reply to him I went to great trouble to couch it in language which, I hoped, was incapable of misinterpretation. 1 failed, but nonetheless 1 think I have made it clear to you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that the figures I -have now presented to the committee constitute a rebuttal of the claims of the honorable member for East Sydney.
The only other point I wish to make relates to a matter raised in the House this morning by the honorable member for Blaxland, and mentioned also in his speech in this chamber either this morning or this afternon. I think the honorable member is well aware of the fact that we face a big problem concerning youth education during the next ten years. But let me make this point: Education is a responsibility of the various State Governments, and no State Government has ever said that it has found itself incapable of discharging its responsibilities. What we have done, however, is this: First, we have given the States the necessary funds. They can, if they wish, increase their votes for education. Secondly, we have increased the amounts allocated to universities; and, thirdly, we have increased the number of university scholarships.
Let me take the first of those three points. This year, despite the fact that there is over-full employment, it is literally impossible to get teachers, and it is extremely difficult to get additional employees in the building industry, the Commonwealth allocation to the States has been increased by £30,000,000. I do not criticize the States in this chamber, as members of the Opposition do. On the contrary I am very glad to be able to say that both the Labour Government in New South Wales and the Liberal Government in Victoria grasped their opportunities and made unprecedented increases in the votes for education. In New South Wales the increase amounted to £5,500,000, and in Victoria to £7,800,000. We in this House are glad that these increases have been made. We add this: The Commonwealth made the money available; the States are doing the job, and I personally believe they are doing it fairly well. I had the opportuntiy of reading the report of Mr. Wallace Wurth which was published just before he dieu. That report is worth-while reading for members of the Labour Opposition because it contains complete contradiction of the idea that there is anything substantially wrong with the education system of New South Wales. In fact, the government of that State believes that, in the circumstances, it is doing well. 1 point out that this year the Commonwealth has increased the allocation for universities from £7,500,000 to £11,000,000. That is a substantial vote, and it was increased before we received the second report of the Universities Commission. In view of all these facts, I think it can be said that Australia has done well, and so also have the State governments.
I conclude on this note: There is a problem in technical education. Technical colleges should be expanded; but just as importantly, the present system of apprenticeship has to be thoroughly investigated and, I believe, changed, both in terms of the period of apprenticeship and the age at which a person can be taken to apprenticeship. Whether technical college training should count in the apprenticeship period and all those other things associated with apprenticeship must also be considered. I believe that as a result of the activities of the Department of Labour and National Service, the States are looking at these matters. I hope that if the States decide on sensible changes and put them to the trade unions concerned, the unions will quickly make up their minds, as technical education is so important to the future development and prosperity of Australia, that they will adopt a genuinely liberal approach to apprenticeship training, and instead of continuing out-dated and out-worn methods, will adopt up-to-date methods of training and give encouragement to young persons who are seeking technical education.
.- I am pleased that both the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) are present because I want to say something about the problems of immigration and both Ministers are associated with that programme. In the first place, I hardly think it necessary to say that I have always supported the immigration policy of the Labour Government and also of this Government. Nevertheless, I have disagreed from time to time with the details of this Government’s immigration policy and also with that of the previous Labour Administration. Overall, 1 think the immigration policy has been of immense advantage to the people of Australia and to the immigrants. However, there are a number of features of it and the associated programme concerning the welfare of immigrants which should be examined in detail.
The electorate of Lalor perhaps carries the heaviest weight of immigration of any electorate in Australia. We have in that electorate the township of St. Albans, the City of Broadmeadows, the shire of Keilor, the towns, Deer Park, Glenroy, Altona and Brookland; and a very large proportion of the population throughout that area is comprised of immigrants from the continent of Europe and the United Kingdom. I have associated with many of these immigrants in the hostels and in their homes, and I can say that they are being very well assimilated into the Australian community. However, I say that the Government has failed lamentably in dealing with certain economic problems which confront the immigrants.
One particular problem confronts the municipal and1 city authorities of Sunshine, Broadmeadows, Altona, Keilor and the other places I have mentioned, because of the great influx of immigrants. Those from the Continent are mostly land-seekers and home-builders, and intense competition for land in the outer suburban areas has developed between the immigrants and also between Australian citizens. Overall, they have embarked on a great construction programme. Thousands of homes are being built on the perimeter of Melbourne, and an enormous burden has been placed on the municipalities and cities concerned. The conditions under which the men and the womenfolk in the newly developed areas are existing are almost indescribable. During the winter that is just ending in Melbourne, they have been up to their knees in mud and muck. They lack sewerage, streets and roads. All the amenities that are necessary to reasonably comfortable living are lacking, and the municipalities concerned have not sufficient finance to meet the calls that are being made upon them. They appeal to the State Government and it replies that it has no money. An appeal is made to the Commonwealth Government and it gives the same reply. So it goes on from year to year, and these people endure unnecessary suffering.
When we consider this problem we must bear in mind that most of the hard, dirty, difficult and arduous work associated with constructional activities in these and many other areas has been undertaken by immigrants, and they are entitled to better treatment. The difficulties spring largely from the problems of the local government authorities, and I hope that the Minister concerned will try to assist them with loans or grants. The Ministers sit in their offices. I do not accuse them of not moving about the country, but they are not familiar with the incredible conditions under which many immigrants are living.
Both the Commonwealth and the State governments must bear responsibility for the difficulty the people in the areas I have mentioned are facing in getting land and homes. Certain people like those in the Hooker organization are combining to buy land. We see speculators, dealers and commercial gangsters vieing for areas for subdivision. They gather in capital from the community by offering 8 per cent, interest and more. The effect of their activities has been to intensify the competition for land throughout the outer suburban area of Melbourne. When the people who are living in hostels or boarding with their countrymen in over-crowded homes try to buy blocks of land, they find that the capital value of the blocks has risen so high that they are condemned to disappointment. If they succeed in getting a block at an exorbitant price, they are able to meet their commitments only if the wives and the female members of their families go to work in the factories and offices of Melbourne.
I have never believed that there should be discrimination against women - married or single - who want to go to work, whether they are English, Scots, German or any other nationality. But if they have to go to work when they would prefer to stay at home and bear children, they are suffering from the results of economic hardship, and that is wrong. The Williamstown Hostel is a horrible one. I do not think the Minister for Immigration has been there or to Brooklands or Broadmeadows. He has been too busy. The Minister for Labour and National Service has been to those places, however.
– I have been to many hostels.
– But not to those hostels, and they are some of the worst. On Saturdays, the women and their husbands go across the plains of Altona or Brooklands where there is great subdivisional activity. At St. Albans there was an area which carried five sheep to the acre. As a primary production proposition it was worth £30 or £40 an acre at least but an area of 540 acres was sold for £500,000. The homeseekers inquire about the cost of a building allotment. They are told that it will cost £1,000, £1,200 or £1,500. They put down a deposit and the potential mother has to go and slave in a factory to pay for the land. This state of affairs is due in large measure to the inability of this Government to accept, or to endeavour to obtain, power to deal with capital issues and interest rates. These are fundamental problems that must be faced if the policy of giving immigrants a decent chance in life is to continue.
The next subject that I want to mention relates to the hostels themselves. Apparently the Government’s immigration policy is to be a continuing policy. If this is so, it is high time that the Government planned to get the people out of these hostel hovels in which they are living now. They have no privacy; there are drains at their front door, and they do not have any of the amenities of life which should be available to them. Many immigrants have to stay in these hostels for up to three years because of the high cost of buying land and building homes. It is not cricket; it is not fair. Many people, and at least some officers of the Department of Labour and National Service, have held the opinion for a long time that if you give these people better living conditions in what is supposed to be a temporary period, you will never get them out of these places, particularly as they pay what is alleged to be a relatively low rental although it is anything but that. That is a negative policy. Surely if the Government is afraid that its administrative officers cannot deal with people who linger in these hostels without justification, it could at least set up impartial tribunals or authorities comprising clergymen, magistrates, councillors, mayors and any other people who would not be looked upon as hard-hearted bureaucrats. That body could then make the decisions.
Hostels are horrible places. I admit that the Minister for Labour and National Service came to Williamstown with me on one occasion. The hostel managers cannot be faulted, as far as I know, because they do the best that they can with the things at their disposal. The food is good. There have been grizzles about it but not from me. It is the monotony of the diet about which the people complain. When we visited the Williamstown hostel the manager did what he thought would be best for the reputation of the Government. He took us on a conducted tour and we interviewed a few people who were very exhilarated at the conditions of life there. Then I noticed a couple of people whom I knew were very dissatisfied with the place and had no inhibitions about it. When the Minister asked them whether they would like to get out of the place and go home, one lady said to the other, “ My word we would, wouldn’t we?” The other lady replied, “ Yes, 1 will go with you too “. When we asked them about the food, they were not very complimentary.
Any Minister on tour is shown the best and brightest features, but if he were to go to the hostels unannounced on a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday morning and get amongst the people he would be told the truth about conditions there. When I asked some leading questions of the two ladies to whom I have referred, the Minister said that he objected to me prompting them. I replied that one cannot prompt an English lady. In due course when the answers that the Minister received to his questions were not the answers that he wanted to hear he turned on his heel in disgust and walked away.
– Which Minister was that?
– It was the Minister for Labour and National Service. Following the Minister’s visit to the hostel some paint was slapped around the place and a few paths were laid outside the front doors of the units, but basically the places are badly sited. A government which allows speculators, dealers and wealthy corporations to build palatial offices and hotels in our cities surely can do something to accumulate the necessary labour and material to provide decent accommodation for the people who will be involved in this continuing immigration policy. If the Government does not do this, it will find that as the standard of living improves in Europe and in the United Kingdom, our capacity to attract immigrants to Australia will diminish seriously.
The next matter to which I wish to refer is one that I mentioned during the debate on the Budget. It concerns the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton). It is high time that the migrants became entitled much sooner to all the social service benefits that the ordinary Australian receives. They should not have to wait longer than five years to qualify for these benefits. I know of many cases of hardship. Sometimes young people who have given an undertaking to support their aged mothers and fathers find, perhaps when they marry, that they cannot carry out their obligation to their parents and to the Commonwealth. Surely aged people from Europe and the United Kingdom are entitled to share equally with Australians in social service benefits.
I wish to refer now to a statement which was made by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson). I heard his story about the difficulties resulting from rising costs, and I heard his reference to wages. However, I did not hear one word from him about capital gains, company inflation and other means of making profits without rendering any service to the community. He spoke about primary production without displaying one atom of realization of the way in which we have progressed in the last 50 years. Whereas 50 years ago one farmer sustained five people, to-day one farmer sustains 50 people. This is due to the application of scientific methods and the use of machinery and other aids on the farm. There is not very much demand for labour on a farm. Any inflated cost that the farmer bears results from the failure of the Government to control, not wages, but land values.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- During the debate on this section of the Estimates some well-earned tributes have been paid, not only to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) but also to the highly qualified officers of his department. At the outset, I gladly associate myself with those tributes. I believe that the achievements of Australia’s immigration policy over recent years are commendable. [Quorum formed.]
When I was interrupted I was referring to the achievements of the Government in relation to our immigration programme. At the outset I indicate clearly that I am glad to be able to praise those achievements because what has been done stands to the credit of the soundest Administration that this country has known. I think I ought to spend a minute in referring to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). A moment ago he had recourse to a stooge who directed the Chairman’s attention to the state of the committee. This is, I think, the seventh occasion to-day on which this has happened. I think that now we can well refer to the honorable member for East Sydney as “ the seven-to-one barker from East Sydney” - seven quorums to our one.
– I rise on a point of order. Is the honorable member for Swan in order in referring to another honorable member as a stooge?
Order! Did the honorable member understand that the term was applied to himself?
– Yes. . I think the honorable member should be asked to withdraw the word and to apologize.
– If the honorable member knows that the term was applied to him, he may object.
– I do object. I find the term offensive, and I ask that the honorable member for Swan withdraw it and apologize.
– Order! The term “ stooge “ is offensive in any circumstances, and the honorable member for Swan will withdraw it.
– I did not use it as an offensive term.
– Order! The word “ stooge “ is offensive.
– If your ruling is that, it is offensive, I withdraw it. Of course, by rising, the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. Johnson) has indicated that he has acted upon the orders of his colleague, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward).
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Swan first stated that the honorable member for Hughes was a stooge for the honorable member for East Sydney in calling for a quorum.
– Order! The honorable member for Swan has withdrawn the term.
– He has withdrawn it, but my point is that he is going on now to cast further reflections on the honorable member when he has no right to do so.
– Order! There is no substance in the point raised by the honorable member.
– I think I might as well clear up this business about the seventoone barker from East Sydney, because his actions constitute grave disrespect to this committee. Now let me explain what I mean. This morning, one quorum was called for from his side of the committee when the honorable member for East Sydney was waxing eloquent, getting very concerned and creating a great amount of noise. Since then, the honorable’ member for East Sydney has deliberately arranged for quorum after quorum to be called for. I submit such conduct indicates the honorable member’s childishness and illustrates his disrespect for decorum and dignity in the committee. Having said that, let me move on to an appreciative reference to the renewed flow of migrants to Western Australia and other areas. The Government of Western Australia is now eager to receive migrants. It is good to know that the economy of that State is so much brighter. I am one of those who believe that, with the circumstances obtaining in Western Australia to-day, a greater intake of migrants will enhance the economy and stability of that State. It is interesting to note that the unemployment figures for
Western Australia are being rapidly reduced, and we can look forward with confidence to a substantial drop in the figure to be published for September. I think that the next statistics will reveal that over 800 persons who had previously been seeking employment have found suitable occupations. I mention that as ano indication of how Western Australia is moving on apace to a situation where it will be able to say to the Minister for Immigration - indeed I know the State Government has already said it - “ Please maintain the flow of migrants, both skilled and unskilled, because we need them desperately to meet future demands here “. The shortages of skilled tradesmen in Western Australia are becoming increasingly apparent.
It is interesting also for me to be able to direct attention to the fact that when the ship “Aurelia” berthed at Fremantle with over 1,000 migrants at a time when the Minister for Immigration was visiting Western Australia a few months ago, no fewer than 103 of those people left the ship at Fremantle to take up residence and occupations in Western Australia. In my opinion, the pressure is on for regular contingents of European migrants to leave the ship at the first Australian port of call - Fremantle - and remain in Western Australia. I commend the Minister for his visit to Western Australia and express the hope that, notwithstanding the many demands made on his time, he will find it possible to pay regular visits to Western Australia, because his recent inspection of some of our factories there and his meeting with the new settlers in the various clubs and places where they assemble, provided a splendid stimulus to the whole of the immigration programme.
I should like to express appreciation, too, of the Minister’s recent action in appointing a prominent manufacturer and businessman, Mr. Frank Ledger, to the Immigration Advisory Committee. This appointment has been very well received in Western Australia where Mr. Ledger is highly regarded, and I want to make the point that, now that Western Australia is represented in this way, her immigration needs and problems will be constantly and accurately made known to the Minister. [Quorum formed.] I am happy indeed to continue, notwithstanding the vindictiveness of the honorable member for East Sydney.
I want to return to the point that Western Australian industrialists and residents are encouraging overseas contacts to “ come west, young man “ because of the potential of that State. Having offered my genuine commendations to the Minister and his officers, I do not believe that the Minister will resent in any way my expressing concern at some of the administrative difficulties which become apparent.
I feel that my colleagues from Western Australia will be just as concerned as I am to find that inaccurate and misleading information is sometimes given by our Australian representatives overseas to people who are eager to come to Western Australia, and I should like to ask these questions: What is the basis of the information supplied in connexion with immigration to overseas Australian embassies and offices? Is the Department of Immigration responsible for the accuracy of the advice given? I take it that it is. How often are the instructions which are sent to our overseas representatives reviewed? Is adequate provision made for notification of a change of circumstances? I ask that because, in the last two years, there has been a drastic change in the potential for absorbing migrants in Western Australia. Again, do the estimates that we are now considering provide sufficient funds to ensure that all the up-to-date information is forwarded to our representatives?
Here I wish to refer to a case which I think would give any Western Australian cause for great concern.In July last, a businessman in Perth made contact with a friend in Cape Town, a prospective migrant to Western Australia, who wrote in these terms -
The Australian Attaché in Cape Town has advised me to seriously reconsider my decision to seek employment in Perth in view of prevailing conditions there, and also the future trend with regard to expansion.
When we took this up, explained that things were altogether different in Western Australia and urged him to go back to the same office in Cape Town, he wrote again and stated - . . we again approached the Australian Attaché who reiterated his previous statements to us. As a result we have had to submit our application for assisted passages with the destination specified as Adelaide. We are genuinely sorry about this, as you, representing the Perth citizens, have been very kind, friendly and helpful and we were looking forward to meeting you. . . .
I want to make it clear that my representations to the Department of Immigration met with the usual courteous and full reply. Eventually, word got through to Cape Town and there was a change of attitude. This intending migrant was then told by the attaché that he could go to Perth in preference to Adelaide, subsequently wrote another letter in which he referred to the attache’s change of attitude in these words -
I feel sure that you or your friends have been responsible for his change of attitude. He told my wife today that in view of our persistent desire to migrateto Perth he was prepared to clear us for an assisted passage. . . .
This is the kind of migrant that we want, Mr. Chairman, for he added -
We are not wanting to come to Australia to seek an easy fortune. I am sincere in my belief that what-ever share in Australia’s prosperity that I receive will be measured in terms of work and ability.
In the time that remains to me, I wish to direct the attention of the Minister for Immigration to the difficulty experienced by some ex-government servants and exservicemen migrants from Holland who on arrival in this country are already receiving from the Netherlands Government pensions for superannuation related to their service in that country. They tell me - I believe that this is authoritative, and I have previously acquainted the Minister with the fact - that they cannot accept Australian citizenship without forfeiting those benefits. Will the Minister advise me whether this problem has been discussed with the Netherlands Government?
.- Mr. Chairman, I think that of all the national questions with which this Parliament deals, migration is probably the one which calls forth the least party political spirit. Members of the Australian Labour Party associate cheek by jowl with members of the Liberal Party of Australia in naturalization ceremonies in Tasmania, though we do not associate with members of the Australian Country Party, for that party is not established in that State. On the mainland, however, my colleagues, I am sure, associate with members of the Country Party in the very impressive and sacred naturalization ceremonies.
I congratulate the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) and the Department of Immigration on the job that they are doing in administering our massive immigration programme. It is not strange, I think, that an Opposition member says a word of commendation where commendation is due, and I am always prepared to give commendation where it is due. The Minister himself has shown that he has an infinite understanding of this difficult matter in which one deals so much with human lives. He has great enthusiasm for his job and he displays great humanity in his work. I have discussed many specific cases with the Minister. Indeed, I could spend the whole of the quarter of an hour available to me in telling the committee about specific cases that we have discussed. The Minister, displaying the qualities that I have mentioned, has cut through red tape on many occasions. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver), a few minutes ago, told us how one problem had been solved in order to enable an intending migrant from South Africa to come to Australia to the city of his choice. In a similar fashion, the Minister has been able to bring to Australia from other countries many people who would otherwise have had to remain in those countries for the rest of their lives pining to come here. The Minister is always prepared in these matters to consider problems again, even after his departmental officials have said “No”. I have received from people whom, through the Minister, I have been able to help in their efforts to come to this country letters of appreciation similar to the one which was quoted by the honorable member for Swan. These people are absolutely overflowing with gratitude for what has been done for them.
I commend the department, also, for its very sympathetic handling of these problems. The officers of the department are very much on top of their job. Indeed, the calibre of those officers has been largely responsible for the immigration programme going so smoothly. All the officials of the department, from its head down through the officers in charge of the State branches and the more junior officers, are doing their utmost to make the programme a success.
Having said those things about the immigration programme generally, I should now like to make a few suggestions on more particular matters. I think that up to the present time we have concentrated too much on target numbers. Indeed, we have been almost obsessed with numbers - with the idea that each year we must bring a specified number of migrants to Australia regardless of any considerations. I suggest that we should now pause in our programme and consider just where we are going. The immigration programme is now in its sixteenth year. It has continued nonstop and, for reasons which I shall outline in a moment, I suggest that we should now pause in this great programme and consider where we are going.
We should ask ourselves: Has immigration got slightly out of balance because we have been obsessed with the idea of bringing in sufficient migrants to achieve the target numbers? We have already brought 1,500,000 immigrants to Australia under this programme. Should we not reduce the intake for, say, a year and concentrate our efforts on four things - first, consolidation; secondly, assimilation; thirdly naturalization; and fourthly, organization?
The capacity of this country to absorb migrants depends on one factor alone - finance. We have to provide jobs for these people. This means that funds or credit must be provided in some form, perhaps through government agencies, in order to make jobs available. With respect to housing and other material needs - indeed, in all matters - finance and credit must be provided in order to meet the needs of the migrants and absorb them. It is not a case merely of absorbing them physically. We have to absorb them financially as well. In my view, this is a vital factor in the problem. In housing alone, when we think of consolidation, we should consider whether, if we paused in our immigration programme for twelve months we could solve the housing problem which was mentioned earlier by my colleague, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). We must protect our immigrants from snide land dealers, for the newcomers to our shores, in their search for homes, are easy victims of these clever, snide land speculators. We should look more carefully at the employment aspect of the problem in the period of consolidation that I propose, and we should ensure that migrants are placed in the jobs for which they are best fitted in order that we shall not have round pegs in square holes. We should make sure that migrants are satisfied and happy in work for which they are fitted.
In this period of consolidation, we could also follow up individual cases more carefully than we do at present. The whole organization of the Department of Immigration could be directed to that end. The flow of immigrants reminds me of an invading’ army gobbling up new territory. There comes a time when the advance of an invading army must be halted, because consolidation becomes the paramount consideration. I feel that we have now reached that stage in our immigration programme and that we must concentrate our efforts on consolidation in order to tie up all the loose ends.
After consolidation, the next step is assimilation. We must integrate migrants into our community. That is an essential part of the immigration programme. Assimilation has been going on all the time, but we have never paused in our programme to consider what progress we are making in that connexion. We must remove the barriers that slow down the process of assimilation. We must guide our new friends into our ways of life - our customs and our laws. This period of consolidation and assimilation should make a great impact in that way. We must further help to overcome the loneliness and strangeness of migrants when they come to Australia.
I must commend the trade union movement of Australia for its magnificent effort in assimilating migrants. The trade unionists have adopted a wonderful attitude to their new-found friends from overseas who come from all sorts of countries and have endured all kinds of difficulties. Some of them do not know what trade unionism is. They have been taken into the unions and are working side by side with Australians, without any discrimination. I have hundreds of immigrants in my electorate of Wilmot in Tasmania, working on the big hydro-electric schemes of our State. In the fourteen years that I have been in this place there has not been one nasty incident in my State between migrants and Australians. On some of these jobs, men of fourteen different nationalities work side by side. It is a wonderful tribute to Australian workers that they have the capacity to befriend these men and treat them as equals. If only the people generally would adopt the same attitude to migrant families in their midst as the unions adopt to fellow workers, assimilation would proceed about 50 per cent, faster than at present.
The next point that I raised was naturalization in this period of pausing which I suggest. We are a bit worried about the 48 per cent, of immigrants who are eligible for, but are not seeking naturalization. We ask, “ Why? “ The Minister for Immigration feels that we cannot bully people into applying for naturalization. That is perfectly true. A voluntary decision must be made by them because it is the biggest decision that they have ever had to make in their lives, apart perhaps from the choosing of a spouse. Naturalization is a matter of renouncing former allegiance and loyalty, and undertaking allegiance and loyalty to an entirely new State. It is a tremendous decision and we want immigrants to make it voluntarily. But can we help them by removing certain obstacles to naturalization? I think that in this period of pausing there could be an intensive campaign by the Government to remove suspicions, misunderstandings, prejudices and fears which today are keeping our new friends from accepting our country without reservation. Apparently we have not done that for those who are not applying for naturalization.
– Their children will apply.
– That is true. I am glad of the interjection of the honorable member for Wide Bay. I always like to see whole families coming to naturalization ceremonies. Sometimes three or four children between the ages of three years and ten years will attend. They go to our schools and learn our language very quickly indeed. They do very well at school.
– And at football, too.
– They are taking a wonderful part, these children of migrants.
I feel that the children could become the key factor in bringing their parents to full naturalization. Finally, in the pausing period, the Government could give more encouragement to such bodies as churches, good neighbour councils and trade unions to bring migrants into touch with bona fide Australian community organizations where they can find scope for their undoubted talents.
A pamphlet which the Department of Immigration has published has described the talents of some of our migrants and they range over the whole field of human activity. Migrants really have a wonderful variety of talents and are helping our way of life tremendously. I believe that in another ten years the impact of the migrant population on our customs and habits - our way of life - will be tremendous and will be for the good of our country. In the organizations which we can help them to join, their talents would have full scope, to the advantage of all concerned.
I definitely oppose immigrants forming trade unions with exclusively immigrant membership. That is a bad thing for Australia. It has been a bad thing in every country in which it has been done. There is only one union in Australia, to my knowledge, which claims to be a wholly immigrant union, and it is in Sydney. I have not heard much about it of late and I do not want to hear any more about it. It is very bad for Australia to have pockets of immigrants taking over the organization of their own workers outside our own trade unions. The Minister, in this chamber and elsewhere, by public statement, has condemned this practice. I do not want to see it grow any more. I hope that the present organization will eventually break up and that the immigrants who are in it will join established and recognized trade unions and work within them for the further advantages and benefits that they want. No separate union will ever get those things for them. It will be a “ no man’s land “ union.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I join with the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) in paying tribute to the Australian Council of Trade Unions and to Mr.
Monk for the work that they have done in assisting the immigrants in trade union matters. I should also like to thank the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) for the many courtesies that I have received from his department when I have made approaches in connexion with immigrants. The senior members of the Minister’s department strike one as being, not just men engaged in a job, but men engaged in a vocation, whose sole aim and object it is to try to make the way easier for immigrants. That has been my experience of our immigration authorities from the Minister down.
I was also pleased to receive the Minister’s assurance of his appreciation of, and interest in, the work of the Apex Club and other clubs in connexion with the “ BringoutaBriton “ campaign. As the Minister has pointed out, the Apex Club organization not merely has sponsored immigrants and provided them with homes and jobs but has continued to take an interest in them. I would like to pay a tribute to the Apex Club and to similar clubs for their work.
– And Rotary also.
– I include Rotary when I say “ similar clubs “. I turn now to the question of conciliation and arbitration. [Quorum formed.] Quite a deal of criticism has been levelled at the conciliation and arbitration system, particularly in regard to the awards which the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission makes in the exercise of its functions. One such criticism is that the commission is a tool of the present Government. I think it might be wise to advise the public of the opinions of the president of the commission, contained in his fourth annual report. The president has stated - and I think this point should be driven home -
The commission, which may inform itself in any manner it thinks fit, is an independent tribunal which, whether sitting in full bench or by single member, makes its decisions on the submissions properly put to it in relevant proceedings. Submissions succeed or fail according to the commission’s assessment of their own intrinsic weight and quite independently of their source, whether governmental or otherwise. The independence of the commission is the fact, but it is important that the fact be recognised.
Too often, that fact is not recognized. What is the purpose of the conciliation and arbitration legislation of this Parliament arid of this country? Surely, some of the chief objects of the legislation are as follows: To promote goodwill in industry; to encourage conciliation with a view to amicable agreement, thereby preventing and settling industrial disputes; and to provide means for preventing and settling industrial disputes not resolved by amicable agreement, including threatened, impending and probable industrial disputes, with the maximum of expedition and the minimum of legal form and technicality.
I suggest, Sir, that looked at in this light, and removed from the controversial area which naturally surrounds particular decisions, the work of conciliation and arbitration in this country is seen as something in which we all can take a particular pride. This, of course, is due in very large measure to the attitude of the parties appearing before the commission, and also to the work of the commission itself. Amid the publicity which is given to major cases, it is sometimes forgotten that the work of con. ciliation and arbitration goes on every day in a very effective way, over a wide range of industries, all of them having their place in the Australian economy and all of them making their contribution to our national prosperity. As an illustration of what I have in mind, I mention that the report of the president of the commission, to which I have referred, indicates that in the period from 14th August, 1959, to 13th August, 1960, no fewer than 2,202 matters were lodged with the commission and determined by it.
I do not want to attach too much significance to mere statistics, but that figure indicates the magnitude of the effort that is made by the members of the commission, behind the scenes and without publicity, in going about its work of helping to preserve industrial peace. I think it is worth while also to refer to the work of the conciliators appointed under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act specifically to exercise the function of conciliation for the general benefit of the parties. The president’s report indicates that in 1959-60 the conciliators dealt with no fewer than 123 matters. Of the 103 matters dealt with under section 30, 79 had been satisfactorily settled, seventeen were under consideration, and seven had not been settled at the time of the report. I need hardly say, Mr. Chairman, that the work of the conciliators has been of continuing benefit and that, as much as anything else, their work has done a good deal to bring to the parties to disputes an appreciation of the advantages which come from frank discussion of industrial matters.
If evidence is needed of the desire of the commission to go about its task in a responsible way and as helpfully as possible, it is to be found in the attitude and the work of the president. I quote his own words, contained in the 1958-59 report, as follows: -
I have thought it advisable and helpful towards a better atmosphere in the handling of industrial disputes to make myself freely available for discussions and talks both formally and informally with officers of organizations both of employers and employees. After serious consideration 1 have made it generally known that not only am I available for talks with representatives of the parties when disputes are in progress or are imminent, but also in the “ ofl season “ and that it is not at all necessary for the “ other side” to be present. I have felt it desirable to report on this policy, not merely because I think it has been to some extent successful in promoting a better atmosphere in a disputatious field, but also because in the past many experienced workers in this field have felt that it was inadvisable and risky to do this. My experience so far has been to the contrary.
I think that that statement of the president of the commission shows quite clearly the attitude that is adopted in his efforts to achieve peace and harmony in the industrial field. Those who attack the system and indulge in all kinds of abuse of it tend to overlook the matters I have referred to. I often think, with Herbert Spencer, that one of the worst crimes from which we suffer in this community is condemnation before investigation.
I have put these points before the committee with no other object than to place in proper perspective the criticisms that are made of the way in which the commission works and of the legislation within the terms of which it carries out its task. It is not for me to reiterate the criticisms; all I am trying to do is to show that, looked at as a whole, we have nothing to be ashamed of, either in our legislation or in the way in which it is administered.
– First, I wish to deal with a matter which I think should be considered, not only by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), but also by the Government as a whole. I refer to the right to social service benefits of migrants who come to this country. I find, Sir, that in other countries there has been a reduction of the period during which migrants must reside in those countries before they become entitled to social service benefits, and I think that it is high time that we in this country chopped in half the qualifying period of twenty years. The Minister has to-day given us figures relating to those who have arrived here from different countries during the past year. At present there is no difficulty in respect of people from Great Britain. We have not now the difficulty that we had for very many years with people coming to us from England and after being here for fourteen or fifteen years, perhaps, having to - knock off work and not being entitled to pensions. I know of many cases over the years and the hardships that had to be dealt with in endeavouring to get something done for these people. The arrangement that was made between England and Australia in connexion with recognizing length of residence in England as residence in Australia for pension purposes-
– Residence in the United Kingdom.
– Yes, the United Kingdom. That arrangement got over the difficulty for those people. In the case of practically half the migrants who live here at the present time we find that no difficulty arises, but there remains this anomaly: Whereas a person from the United Kingdom, after being here twelve months, if he or she is of eligible age, is entitled to pension benefits, a person who comes here from across the Channel, from the Netherlands, may live in Australia for ten years but cannot qualify for pension benefits. The Minister may say that we have a reciprocal arrangement with the United Kingdom in respect of certain social services. I ask the Minister for Immigration to bring pressure to bear on the Government to reduce the qualifying residential period for pensions in the case of non-British migrants from twenty years to ten years. One nonmember on the Government side said to-day that the period should be reduced to five years, after the person concerned was naturalized. I would not reduce it on those conditions.
I recollect that a couple of years ago a person, on the other side of Keith, had been out here for 50 years. His parents had never been naturalized, and he had not been naturalized. I think he was over 70 years of age at the time, and he could not get a pension. All he could do in those circumstances was to become naturalized, which he did, but only because by doing so he could get a pension. He gave no thought to the privilege of being an Australian citizen. I know that men who came into my own district and other seaport districts had deserted their ships many years ago and stayed in Australia. They never went about getting naturalized, because they knew that they had remained in this country illegally. I do not think that we should make the qualifying residential period five years if people are naturalized; but I believe that ten years residence should entitle a person to pension benefits regardless of their nationality, provided they meet other pension requirements.
– There is an international principle involved.
– That is so; but there is one thing above international principles, and that is humanitarian principles. That is the point I make. I acknowledge the international principle, too, but in this matter we are dealing with human beings. They come to this country and many of them have no way of returning to the country from which they came. Perhaps they have families and children here and do not want to go back. What are they to do? This country could well afford to reduce the period of residence for people from alien countries to ten years to enable them to qualify for pensions.
There is another matter with which I want to deal in the short time at my disposal. I find that British migrants have almost greater difficulty in obtaining housing and settling down than do migrants from alien countries. I think honorable members generally will agree that the great bulk of the people who come to us with their difficulties are British migrants and not migrants from alien countries. A lot of that arises from what the honorrable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has said - an Englishman’s home is his castle; a hostel is not an Englishman’s castle. At the Finsbury hostel, which is the main hostel in South Australia, and is situated in my electorate, I come into contact with these people. The honorable member for Lalor told us about trade union members mixing with British migrants and how they realize the difficulties of those people.
The Finsbury hostel is a big place, but if the people there want to have a meeting - perhaps to meet me as their representative and discuss matters concerning the hostel - they are not permitted to hold it there. Instead they have to secure a hall elsewhere so that I can meet them and discuss their difficulties with them. I understand that that is the position generally in relation to these hostels. A number of men, members of one of the big engineering unions said, at a branch meeting, “ We want to hold a meeting with our representative “, and they asked the union to take the matter up. lt was not that the hostel people were not able to arrange a place to meet; it was the job of the union. They hired a community hall in the vicinity of the hostel, and I went there to meet them. Those people realized that the main difficulties with which they had to contend were little things. Any married man with a family knows that the greatest irritation in the home is not the mortgage or something that they want to buy in a big way but all the little things that occur in daily life. That is the great irritation in the individual home. When you go to a hostel like Finsbury, which houses over 2,000 migrants, you can appreciate how the little things become of great concern to the people there. I went along to that meeting at which about 100 men and women, not all of whom were union members, were present. Also present were other men and their wives. They had chosen one man who had written about six pages of matter dealing with the difficulties in the hostel. He gave details of what they needed. This will show that he was not just a discontented man but understood what was happening. He started in this way -
You are, I understand, concerned about migration, particularly migration from the United Kingdom. No doubt you are also concerned as to why so many families return home after two to eight years. Some of the reasons may be found here at Finsbury hostel.
The honorable member for Lalor said that at the hostel to which he went, they cleared up some of the worst parts. The place was ill-constructed. The man who put forward the position at Finsbury at this meeting expressed the same views. In connexion with the Finsbury hostel he said -
The ablutions blocks are poorly constructed of corrugated iron and timber and are unlined and draughty. The floors are improperly drifted allowing water to lay in pools. Lighting, both natural and artificial, is insufficient. The majority of the ablutions have no mirror and there are no receptacles provided in any of the showers for soap and face flannels, &c, and, in some, no place to hang a towel.
He mentioned all the things with which these people were concerned and admitted that they were small matters. He said -
I entreat you, Sir, to do such as is in your power to alleviate the deteriorating slate of affairs which prevails here.
I told the meeting that the Finsbury hostel was run by Commonwealth Hostels Limited, and I said, “ If you will arrange for perhaps three or four of your people to be your representatives, I will take the matter up with Commonwealth Hostels Limited and we will go into the complaints with them “. They pointed that out and also spoke about the unsatisfactory condition of the food. They asked me to come along and see what the meals were like. I agreed to go, but I told the man who invited me that I wanted to go there without notice being given to anybody. On the Thursday night before Good Friday I had a telephone call asking whether I would have tea at the hostel on Good Friday night. The person who spoke to me said that the majority of the residents would be there. I agreed to go, although I did not look forward to missing Good Friday night with my family. So I went along as the guest of the man who spoke to me over the telephone, and I saw the food that was prepared. This man said to me afterwards, “ I look a bit of a fool bringing you here to-night because nobody could complain about this meal “. I want to make it clear that the management did not know I would be there until I arrived.
This man pointed out to me the small things in connexion with the food that were irritating people and I then arranged for a deputation to the management. The local manager, the State superintendent and the official who had to do with catering were present, and we had a discussion lasting a couple of hours. I must say that the management was prepared to hear all that we had to say. At the conclusion of the discussion the man who had invited me said that he thought we had cleared the trouble up and that things would be better. However, 1 have received another letter asking me to arrange a further meeting with the management because of unsatisfactory conditions. You can get rid of these little things for a while, and then another batch of little things crops up. I point out that the people concerned are not people with whose conditions I am unacquainted.
I realize that the Government and the department are trying to do what is best to overcome these difficulties, but there is only one way in which the difficulties can be overcome, and that is to put these hostel residents into homes of their own. As long as they are in hostels these difficulties will arise. If they can get homes of their own they will have a chance to make good. It is unfortunate that we have a division of responsibility in this matter. The Department of Immigration has the responsibility for bringing these people out here, but when it comes to looking after them in Australia that is the responsibility of the Department of Labour and National Service. That is an unfortunate division of responsibility. So I ask the Minister to see whether something more cannot be done to get these people into their own homes.
Some of those people remain in a hostel for only a few weeks. They have perhaps sold a home and a motor car in England, and have sufficient money to pay a deposit on a house. Others are just ordinary tradesmen or working men, and have not been able to save sufficient money to put a deposit on a house. The honorable member for Lalor mentioned the high cost of building blocks. The same thing applies in South Australia. These people have to pay a fairly high tariff at the hostels. I admit that the tariffs may not cover the cost of running the hostel, but at the same time, after paying their tariff the residents are not left with sufficient to enable them to save up for a deposit on a home of their own. It all boils down to the fact that some authority must provide housing for these people, and I urge the Government to consider making further money* available to the States so that homes can be provided for these immigrants in particular.
Proposed votes agreed to.
.- I desire to speak on that part of the estimates for the Department of National Development which has to do with the War Service Homes Division. I wish to deal with the waiting time, the outstanding applications and the fact that this Government and this Parliament have failed to live up to their obligations in the matter of housing. It is now fifteen years since the end of the Second World1 War, yet the last annual report of the Director of War Service Homes indicates that there are nearly 20,000 outstanding applications for war service homes.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the War Service Homes Division does not come under the proposed vote for the Department of National Development. It should have been discussed during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Repatriation.
– The honorable member for Kingston is in order. The subject on which he is speaking comes under the proposed vote for the Department of National Development.
– I rise to a further point of order. There is no reference to the War Service Homes Division at page 77 of the Estimates dealing with the Department of National Development. On page 245 of the Estimates, where capital works and services are dealt with, there is an item referring to war service homes. In an earlier part of the Estimates the War Service Homes Division is also referred to under the “Department of Repatriation, but there is no reference to it under the Department of National Development.
– It is permissible to discuss the works items under the main vote because they come within the administration of the Department of National Development. The honorable member for Kingston may resume his speech.
– I rise to a further point of order, Mr. Chairman. You ruled out of order the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) and the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) for discussing civil defence under the proposed vote for the Department of the Interior, although civil ‘ defence comes within the control of that department, on the ground that it was not listed in the estimates of the department.
– The item of civil defence appears specifically under the proposed vote for Defence Services, and amounts are set out there against the various items. It was obviously put there so that it could be discussed under that heading. Nobody was ruled out of order for doing the right thing. The two honorable members concerned were ruled out of order for doing the wrong thing. The honorable member for Kingston may resume his speech.
– I appreciate your ruling Mr. Chairman. For years we have been discussing the War Service Homes Division under the proposed vote for the Department of National Development, and I am permitted, of course, to refer to this matter by virtue of the report of the Director of War Services Homes which definitely states that the division comes under the Department of National Development.
As I said, it is now fifteen years since the end of the war and there are still nearly 20,000 outstanding applications for war service homes. This large number of exservice men and women are unable to obtain the financial assistance which was promised to them so that they could own their own homes. If the Government supporters who have raised these points of order consider that this is a satisfactory state of affairs, and1 the best that can be done when we are living in such prosperity as is claimed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), 1 shudder to think what the waiting time would be if even a mild depression were to set in. They must surely be the only people who are satisfied with the present position. Ex-servicemen’s organizations have consistently complained about the allocation of funds for this purpose. The waiting time for finance to purchase a new home in most instances is in excess of twelve months and in many instances extends to eighteen months or more. If the loan is for the purpose of purchasing an old property, the waiting time may be even longer. So, in practically every instance, before an exserviceman can move into a home he must wait for at least twelve months after his application for finance is approved.
The position could be easily rectified if the Government were to make additional funds available to the War Service Homes Division. The Government should meet its obligations. The unsatisfactory plight of ex-servicemen and women is highlighted by the fact that when their applications to the division for finance are approved, they are advised that they must wait, as I said previously, for at least twelve months before the money will be available. However, they are also advised that they may obtain temporary finance to cover the waiting time and are frequently advised as to where they can obtain temporary finance. Unfortunately, the temporary finance is available at rates of interest that are far in excess of reasonable rates. Interest charges are often as high as 12 per cent., and 10 per cent, seems to be the general rate. I know that it is often claimed that the exserviceman does not have to obtain this temporary accommodation. Of course, that is true, but if he wants to house his family decently, he is forced to obtain temporary accommodation. The ex-serviceman may be paying a high rental for inadequate accommodation, and naturally he would want to provide a decent home for his family. He is. therefore, forced to pay these high rates of interest.
If the Government is not willing to increase the allocation of funds to the War Service Homes Division and so eliminate this long waiting time, it should at least arrange for the Commonwealth Bank to provide the temporary finance. No better guarantee for the loan could be given than that the Government, through the War Service Homes Division, would be providing the required finance in twelve months or so. There would be no risk that the loan from the Commonwealth Bank would not be repaid. I suggest that the Government should consider arranging for the bank to provide these short-term loans, if it is not willing to make more funds available to the War Service Homes Division. I believe that that is a reasonable suggestion, and it would prevent these sharks who are charging high rates of interest from exploiting exservicemen and women. Srangely enough, the Government seems happy not only to let ex-servicemen pay these high rates of interest, but also to tell them where temporary accommodation at 10 per cent, or 12 per cent., can be obtained.
When the subject of housing is raised, we are frequently told that it is the responsibility of the States. But the Commonwealth Government is solely responsible for war service homes, and it should honour its obligations. The division was established by the Commonwealth to provide homes for ex-servicemen and women. If the Government were to meet its responsibilities in this field of housing, even if only in regard to homes for ex-service personnel, the housing lag throughout Australia would not be nearly so great. Ex-service men and women have a right to expect that financial assistance will be made available to them. Indeed, they were promised that this assistance would be given to them. As I said previously, it is fifteen years since the end of the war, and it is completely unsatisfactory that these people should have to wait for twelve months or more after approval of their application for a loan has been given, before the money is forthcoming.
– Mr. Chairman, I raise a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in speaking about war service homes under this item?
– Order! I have already ruled on this point. The War Service Homes Division is under the control of the Department of National Development. I have already ruled that the honorable member is in order.
– Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) was asleep, of course, and missed your previous rulings. The maxi mum amount of a loan to ex-servicemen should be increased. In 1951, the Government increased the amount from £2,000 to £2,750. Since then, the price of homes has increased tremendously and to-day the maximum amount is not sufficient. Whilst the plight of ex-servicemen is serious, the plight of the person who is not eligible for a war service home is much more serious. Money to purchase a home cannot be obtained by the ordinary person. In this inflationary period, it is almost impossible for a wage-earner to buy a block of land; yet homes are the greatest means of development that we can undertake. There is no prosperity in a country that can afford to build luxury hotels and the like but cannot afford to provide homes for the ordinary people. As I said, it is almost impossible for the worker to-day to buy a block of land. The Melbourne “ Herald “ recently published an article about the high price of land and pointed out that, according to information as to property prices obtained from America, land prices in Melbourne are far higher than those in New York, which is recognized as the most expensive collection of building blocks in the world. Melbourne’s prices are on a par with Sydney’s, and Adelaide is not. far behind. Land prices in Australia are increasing more rapidly than anywhere else in the world, and it is difficult to see how the wage-earner will be able to purchase a home in the future. If the present trend continues, the land will be dearer than the house erected on it.
This Parliament has an obligation not only to ex-service men and women but to the community generally. On this issue, the States cannot be blamed for failing to provide homes for ex-service men and women. I hope that the Government will give serious thought to my suggestion that temporary finance should be made available to ex-servicemen through the Commonwealth Bank. This would ease the burden that rests so heavily on many young people who want to provide decent accommodation for their families.
.- We have grown rather used to the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) yapping on this subject of war service homes. He always yaps on the one theme. He knows perfectly well that the Government’s record on this matter is quite unassailable. It has done a splendid job with the money that is available. However, as the subject should not be discussed under this particular item-
– Mr. Chairman, I think your attention was momentarily deflected from what the honorable member was saying. He said, Sir, that he was not proposing to discuss the subject of war service homes since it should not be discussed on this particular item of the Estimates. You have ruled at least three times within the last quarter of an hour that such a discussion is in order.
– Order! If the honorable member for McMillan intended his remarks as a reflection on the Chair, he will withdraw them.
– If my comment is taken as a reflection, I will certainly withdraw it.
– I want to say, also, that if the honorable member does not wish to debate this subject, he need not do so.
– When national development is being considered, we naturally turn to matters which are in proper accord with our ideas on national development. That leads us to think of the development of the great spaces that we have in the north. Many of us have given a lot of thought and time recently to the study of this subject, and we think that there is very much to be done there. It is apparent to any one who has a look at Queensland, the north-west of Western Australia, and central Australia, that if we can only persuade people to go to these places we can do all the various jobs that go with closer settlement. There is a tremendous potential in those areas, the development of which we have to encourage.
The great difficulty that confronts us is to find markets for the goods that the people who will go there will naturally want to produce. It is very fitting that in this group of estimates that we are now considering the Department of National Development and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization are bracketed, because they work so closely together and in harmony, with each of them helping the other along with its problems, that we could hardly refer to one without the necessity to refer to the other. To-day the growers of almost all agricultural products are finding great difficulty in getting a price that can be regarded as satisfactory for their products, in view of the excessive increases granted by our arbitration tribunal in the basic wage, and the margins for tradesmen, white collar workers and public servants. Now we are even finding entirely disproportionate increases proposed for judges’ salaries.
The one exception to what I have said is the beef cattle industry. There is ample evidence to support those who are advocating a vigorous programme of expansion in the north, in their efforts to build up our cattle numbers. The C.S.I.R.O. has done most valuable work in demonstrating on its experimental stations that land in the Northern Territory - I refer particularly to the area around Katherine, but there are other areas as well - can treble and quadruple its carrying capacity. This increase can be achieved by the use of phosphate - this may be in the form of super, but it will be better still if we are able to get direct shipments of phosphates to the north at a lower rate - and by the introduction of legumes, Townsville lucerne, buffel grass, and other suitable pastures, to keep the beasts growing right through the dry winter period instead of losing weight as they do under present conditions.
Unfortunately, it is not a very simple job to persuade people to go up into this hard land, lacking so many amenities, and to spend a lot of money in establishing a more intensive form of farming than has been practised in the past. What is needed is a government-sponsored programme that will invite experienced farmers, as they must be. to go into these areas, and that will assist them with the establishment of pilot farms, wth the prospect that they will be able to take them over at quite a reasonable price once the possibilities have been proved. These pilot farms are necessary to point the way for others and to show them that this is one of the most attractive investment projects in agriculture to-day.
Behind the development of the north, there is always the need for the provision of all of those services that are usually associated with government. The days are gone when this country can afford the slow but steady development that we had in the early days when our pioneers did such a wonderful job in opening up the southern, more fancied areas. The great area in the north has been developed by those people who have been working on the same lines as the pioneers, to a stage where now we have a firm foundation on which to build. There is a widely scattered population that is trying to cope with a problem that is just a bit too big for it to tackle. lt has not been possible to keep cattle numbers under control because of the lack of suitable labour. To-day there are hundreds of stations whose owners would find it impossible to say how many head of cattle they actually have, lt has not been possible to do the mustering and marking that would allow them to ship off yearly the marketable production. There are hundreds of thousands of old cows and mickies that should be rounded up now, when the world is not only willing but anxious to purchase this third-grade meat which we all know to be so acceptable for manufacturing purposes.
In recent years, the authorities responsible for the provision of means of communication and transport have transformed the stock routes into usable, formed gravel roads, with cement bridges on most of them, particularly at the worst of the river crossings, and a string of waterholes, loading ramps and dipping facilities stretching for thousands of miles right across what used to be sandy scrub tracks. [Quorum formed.]
On these new roads, we now see the use of modern 250 horse-power road trains, which can carry 80 head of cattle and deliver them to the railhead or to shipping points in good, fat, killable condition. Formerly, they had to be walked over hundreds of miles of bad country and lost condition. It has been suggested that a lot of the problems associated with this development could be solved with the setting up of a northern Australian development commission. This could be most useful, because we need a long-range plan for developing the north. What is needed is a form of government help that would be available immediately without having to wait while we went through the form of having a commission. The main thing is to get these formed roads bitumenized in order to make them usable for transport all the year round, so that instead of having the use of the roads only for a little while each year, we would be able to get onto the job of providing proper transport connexions. We are wasting great areas of the north unless we get on with the job of making them usable in a way that is acceptable under modern conditions. Means must be found of taking advantage of our resources in the north and of exploiting the potential of that area. The task is now beyond the resources of the States concerned. There is now an overall job to be done, and I suggest that a start could be made by re-implementing legislation which was introduced in about 1945 for the purpose of assisting the expansion of the cattle industry, mainly by the provision of suitable roads. The industry is capable of reimbursing the nation, within a short space of time, for the cost of the roads and other facilities that are so sorely needed if our northern area is to be properly developed.
– 1 support the plea of the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) for the reimplementation of the States Grants (Encouragement of Meat Production) Act, which the Chifley Government sponsored, and under which specific grants ware made to improve the roads in Western Australia and Queensland for the benefit of the cattle industry, by ensuring rapid transport of cattle from the great breeding and fattening areas to the railheads.
– But no roads were provided until this Government took a hand in the matter.
– The States Grants (Encouragement of Meat Production) Act was put on the statute-book in the time of the Chifley Government, and the present Government has let the legislation lapse.
– But it has substituted other methods of assistance.
– The honorable members who interject clearly have not read the Budget Papers. If they do, they will see that in the last year the amounts made available under that act were the smallest that have ever been granted, and that this year no grants will be made at all. The honorable member for McMillan has advocated the revival of this act or the introduction of similar legislation, and he is quite right in doing so. I do not know why his colleagues repudiate him so vociferously. The act indicates quite clearly what the Comonwealth can do if it wants to carry out the work of national development.
Nowhere is national developmental work more clearly needed than in the tropical part of Australia. To the north of the Tropic of Capricorn lies 40 per cent, of the total area of Australia, and to the north of that tropic dwells only 4 per cent, of Australia’s population. It used to be thought that the tropical parts of Australia were of no economic use, that they could not be used for growing crops or for grazing cattle. Since the war very extensive investigations have been carried out by the Commonwealth. These investigations were instituted by the Chifley Government, which established both the Katherine Research Station for dry land investigations and the Kimberley Research Station in Western Australia for investigating the possibilities of better watered country. No part of Australia has been investigated in advance of development so well as the areas around the Daly and the Ord Rivers. We know what those areas will grow. We know that they will grow crops and sustain cattle, for which there is a great demand in Australia and overseas. We know that in those areas we can raise crops which can provide fodder for greatly increased numbers of cattle or will relieve us of the necessity of importing various commodities such as oil seeds and cotton. We can produce in these districts many primary commodities which can be sold overseas to increase our export earnings.
The tropical part of Australia is not useless; it is merely unused by Australians. We must use it for our economic and strategic survival. Australians have a greater opportunity and obligation than any other race of European origin to develop an area of the tropics. It is a large area. If we harness its water resources, it can be a rich area. In mentioning the water resources of the area, let me quote a passage from the presidential address given by Mr. Christian last year to the Australian and New Zealand
Association for the Advancement of Science. He said -
The drainages to the Timor Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria each exceeds the combined flow of the Murray Valley (above the Darling River) and the whole of the south-east slopes of the continent. The total of the two northern catchments is almost three times that of the two southern ones.
Perhaps I may quote another gentleman. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) has said that there is in the tropics 50 per cent, more land in areas with an annual rainfall of 20 inches or more than there is in the other parts of Australia. All we have to do is conserve the water that is there. This is the driest continent, but the best-watered part of the continent is in the tropics - the part of Australia where fewest Australians live and which we use, agriculturally and pastorally, least.
The suggestion I make is that the Commonwealth should initiate a project similar to the Snowy Mountains scheme for the purpose of carrying on national development in the north. Australia’s north can be the equivalent of America’s west. The western States of America, on either side of the Rocky Mountains divide, constituted the driest part of that country until the United States Government, through its Bureau of Reclamation, reclaimed many of the dry areas, which now produce a large proportion of America’s agricultural and pastoral commodities, not only for consumption by her own increasing population in those western States but also for the augmentation of the country’s export earnings.
It is futile for us to say that the States should do the job. It is true that the Constitution does not give our Federal Government directly some of the powers which the United States Federal Government has. Nevertheless, section 96 of the Constitution makes it clear that this Government can make grants to the States for any purpose it sees fit. The parts of Australia which need development most urgently are in the States which have the smallest financial resources. Queensland and Western Australia are the States in which it is obviously most expensive to carry on the existing services that governments provide, whether they be transport services, education services, hospital services, or any other community, municipal or State services. The grants which this Government makes to the States under the established grants system merely permit the States to carry on their existing activities in the existing places and at the existing paces. They do not permit the States to increase their activities.
We cannot expect private enterprise to do the job. The Department of Trade every year produces three brochures which set out the amount of investment in Australia by British, American and Canadian companies. At least 95 per cent, of the companies which are affiliates or subsidiaries in Australia of those foreign companies have their head-quarters in Sydney or Melbourne, or, to a lesser extent, Adelaide. Only about 1 per cent, of those foreign companies in fact have affiliates or subsidiaries in our tropical areas. We have mineral companies and some of the meat companies there, but that is all. Therefore, if the tropics are to be developed, they will be developed with government grants or not at all. If government grants are to be used, they will have to be Commonwealth Government grants. It cannot be suggested logically that Western Australia or Queensland can divert any of their existing funds to further development. The Commonwealth can and should do it. If it does not, people from outside Australia will finally do it in the interests of mankind as a whole. We have this opportunity. We have this obligation, and it is not beyond our means to discharge that obligation.
This matter is becoming particularly important, because in many ways the activities of the Snowy Mountains authority are coming to an end. The pioneering and investigating work which the authority carried out is now completed. The Snowy Mountains authority was able to attract from throughout the Northern Hemisphere very many experts, including geologists, hydrologists, engineers, scientists and construction experts of all kinds. They were attracted by the prospect of carrying out a great public work in a new land. Scientists and engineers respond to a challenge of that kind, and the Snowy Mountains authority, which incidentally was set up by the Chifley Government, provided that stimulus to people not only in Australia but also in many other lands. But now those people are looking elsewhere. They realize that this Government is not providing further opportunities for the use of their skills. They cannot waste away in the Southern Hemisphere, and the Snowy Mountains authority is finding over and over again that many of these people are leaving. They are lost not only to the authority but to Australia. One thing that has disillusioned very many of the authority’s staff has been the one-third cut in this year’s appropriation for the authority.
– That was only because contracts finished much earlier than expected last year.
– It is principally for that reason, but also the Government asked the authority to defer for a few months the placement of the contract for the Eucumbene-Snowy tunnel. The Tumut part is nearing completion, but the Murray part has yet to be started and the Government has asked the authority to defer the commencement of it.
– For very good reasons.
– I do not know when the honorable gentleman was last down in the Snowy area. Perhaps he has not seen notices which were placed throughout the area in order to reassure the staff. The reason given in the notices for the slackening of activity was that there had been a deferment for a few months of the placement of the contract for the EucumbeneSnowy tunnel. The fact that this interruption, which is the first in the authority’s history, has occurred has disillusioned a very great number of the authority’s employees. The success of the Snowy Mountains scheme flows from the fact that the managerial and scientific skills have been constantly employed. Furthermore, there has been a great deal of casual labour upon which the contractors have relied and that casual labour has been assured of employment on new projects once existing projects were completed. But that casual labour is no longer assured of that continuity of employment and an appreciable number of those employees are leaving, together with the experts.
It is time the Commonwealth set up some authorities like the Tennessee Valley Authority and the United States Bureau of Reclamation. That can be done under section 96 of the Constitution. We can make grants to Queensland and Western Australia and we ourselves can spend money in the Northern Territory to provide for the investigation of new projects there and for the development of them. But if we are to develop the continent with skilled personnel, we must provide those skilled personnel with the prospect of employment. Their skills are in demand in other parts of the world. But we can use their skills here, and with appropriate co-ordination between the Commonwealth and the State governments we can do in our north what the United States has done in its west. We can do now what the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has shown by its investigations to be quite feasible and probably profitable. Now, when so many of the Snowy Mountains authority’s schemes are ending and there is some interruption to its contracts, is the time to come out with some plan to develop other parts of Australia. The States have not the finance to do it and the Commonwealth has not the constitutional power directly to do it, but the Commonwealth can make grants to the States to enable them to do it. We can have joint Commonwealth and State authorities of this kind.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I rise to speak on the estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Department of National Development. I was very pleased to see the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) devote the fifteen minutes available to him to a discussion of national development. Whilst honorable members on this side of the chamber do not entirely agree with what he said, it is pleasing to see the Opposition take an interest in that important subject.
The debate on the estimates now before us give one an opportunity to discuss the activities and achievements of the C.S.I.R.O. and to offer certain recommendations. I should like to commence by referring to its achievements in the field of rural industry, particularly the wool industry. I believe that this organization is conducting very painstaking and possibly laborious but nevertheless thorough research into the various problems with which the wool industry is confronted, not only on the production side but also on the com mercial side. A lot of emphasis has been placed on the future of the wool industry. Research is one of the important matters which are affecting its future. There have been many achievements on the commercial side, including the perfecting of the Si-ro-set, moth-proofing and shrink-proofing processes, chemical scouring, wool-dyeing and the production of drip-dry shirts.
The overcoming of problems on the production side has not been quite so easy. I remind honorable members of the soil fertility tests that have been carried out from time to time and which have resulted in raising the carrying capacity of the land. Reference could also be made to weed control and the activities that have been undertaken in the field of animal health. The health tests that have been conducted over many years have resulted in an improvement of the life span, not only of sheep, but possibly also of other live-stock. Tests have also been conducted on nutrition during pregnancy and mortality in young lambs.
Fertility trials conducted by the C.S.I.R.O. have been of value to the sheep industry. One aspect of these trials is related to the effect of pastures on fertility. In a recent test conducted by the organization something like 19 per cent, of the ewes tested failed to Iamb, and the cause of this failure was traced to certain clovers on which the sheep were grazing. I have no doubt that if it were not for the experiments carried out by the C.S.I.R.O. graziers would suffer greater losses and, generally speaking, the graziers are very satisfied with the progress that the C.S.I.R.O. is making with its experiments. It has conducted tests to combat internal parasites commonly known as worms. Experiments have been conducted also in the control of fluke. There have been tests in the use of cobalt pellets and various trace elements. All these experiments have been beneficial to the sheep industry. Some difficulty has been experienced in attempts to eradicate other pests. [Quorum formed.]
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m. [Quorum formed.]
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was referring to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organization. Two problems at present confronting the man on the land are footrot and blowfly. The C.S.I.R.O. has not been able to master those problems but it is hoped that in the near future some technique will be discovered to overcome them. The C.S.I .R.O. is dealing with many matters, including improvement of the protein content of fodder, provision of feed in time of drought, rabbit control by means of myxomatosis and selective breeding of sheep.
Fodder conservation vitally concerns not only the sheep industry but also the cattle industry. A great change has taken place on the land in the last 30 years. At one time the wheat-grower strove mainly for quantity, but now he realizes that it is just as important to have a high protein content. In his endeavours the man on the land has been assisted by the C.S.I.R.O.
Many of the older members of this chamber will remember that the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) introduced many years ago a national fodder reserve scheme but, owing to a change of government, the scheme was not continued. Such a scheme may be useful to-day, although the original scheme would have to be modified to meet changed circumstances. In my opinion, we need some scheme to overcome the problem of fodder conservation. A good deal can be done in this connexion by individual growers, aided by the C.S.I.R.O. in the few minutes still at my disposal I should like to say something about land utilization. When I look around Australia I wonder whether we are using our land to the best advantage. Some time ago the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) referred to the small number of people who had settled in the north of Queensland. We should ask ourselves why people are reluctant to live in that part of the country. I do not believe that their decision has anything to do with low rainfall in the outback and high rainfall on the coast. In many cases, I think the sole reason is lack of initiative1. There is plenty of water in the north of Queensland. That area reminds me of Heytesbury in Victoria. In Victoria, which is recognized as being a densely populated State, thousands of acres of land have not been utilized, although in the Heytesbury area, thanks to soldier settlement, pastures of a high carrying capacity have been developed by men of initiative. In my view former governments have not played their part in developing Australia. If this country is to become a major nation in world affairs its population must increase. In order that our population may increase we must develop the country. I am aware that in some quarters it is feared that an increase in population and further development may lead to over-production of primary products. I do not think that is a real problem.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, in speaking on the estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization I desire, first, to compliment the organization on the great work that it is doing in many directions in this country. Only last evening, honorable members were privileged to see a film screened in another part of the building which showed the work being done in preventing evaporation from dams and reservoirs by the use of cetyl alcohol. The success of this experiment could lead to conservation of millions of gallons of water that is urgently required in the drier parts of Australia.
I applaud the work that has been done in finding suitable trace elements to correct various soil deficiencies. As far as Tasmania is concerned, I am particularly pleased with the work that is being done to correct cobalt deficiencies in soil. A deficiency of cobalt in the soil causes wasting disease in cattle and sheep, and efforts to correct the deficiency in the soil by sheep-farmers on King Island have led to tremendous benefits. Steps are also being taken to correct boron deficiency in soil, which causes a “ breakdown “ in apples and swede turnips.
In co-operation with the Tasmanian Department of Agriculture, trial plots have been established at Smokers Bank on the Bass Highway leading to Smithton. By the application of knowledge gained by the C.S.I.R.O., good pastures have been established on what was originally considered to be worthless button grass country. 1 have studied the figures which have been produced by the department and I believe that this kind of country now can be cleared, cultivated and brought under pasture for approximately £25 an acre. The benefit of this can be seen when we realize that there are hundreds of thousands of acres of such country awaiting development in Circular Head. In Tasmania, and in other States, excellent work is also being done in studying the habits of mutton birds and crayfish, with the result that the authorities have the benefit of expert knowledge to assist them in determining the dates during which various species of fish and game may be taken. The lifetime of these industries, therefore, is extended, to the mutual benefit of all concerned.
I remind the Minister that I referred to his predecessor the problem of the control of pith rush - a matter which concerns many primary producers in marginal areas in Tasmania, and especially on King Island. In reply to my representations for assistance from the C.S.I.R.O. and my request that it conduct research into the control of this pest, the Minister stated that the organization had not, up to that time, conducted any research into this matter. He advised that pith rush can be killed by the application of 15 lb. of dalapon per acre. This product costs about 15s. per lb., so it can be seen how costly the treatment would be.
– Would it help in the control of serrated tussock?
– It will wipe out serrated tussock. A very interesting article in relation to this matter appeared in an edition of “ Muster “. Primary producers’ costs are high these days. Surely the C.S.I.R.O. can discover some cheaper hormone which will control the pith rush. The position is very serious on King Island. I have here the report of a survey of 59 soldier settlement properties of a total area of 13,418 acres. Of this area 4,689 acres are covered with rushes and 435 acres with ti-tree regrowth. The rushes have taken control of one-third of the original pastures of these soldier settlers. This creates very serious economic problems because any reduction in carrying capacity of these properties means a reduction in farm income. The seriousness of this problem is highlighted in the compre hensive report which was prepared by the Tasmanian Farmers Federation. It states, in part -
The greatest physical problem facing the settlers at the moment is regrowth of ti-tree and pith rush. The task of slashing and mowing is in many instances made almost impossible by the extremely rough nature of the so-called pastures. This is causing unnecessary breakages to settlers’ machinery, and in some instances injury to the men themselves. The heavy top-dressing requirement of this land is also greatly hampered by its roughness, rendering the task three times as long as it should be in terms of man-hours. Where is the single unit settler supposed to find the time to spend crawling and jolting on his tractor over his land with a spreader and/or slasher when he has in reality a full-time job in looking after his stock and providing labour for fencing, improvements, water, &c?
The report goes on to say that the so-called pith rush and its control is dominating the economy of the entire project on King Island. During a broadcast, Mr. R. T. Curtis, the secretary of the Tasmanian Farmers Federation, stated in relation to this problem -
This ti-tree regrowth and the problem of dealing with the rushes are the financial responsibility of the settlers, and it is these factors which are the cause of much cf the present discontent. The situation which has now developed on a lot of the farms is that a considerable proportion of the land is out of production and is rapidly being over-run with scrub and rushes.
– I fail to see any rubbish in the statement, particularly when the Minister who administers the land settlement scheme recognized the problem last year and set up a committee to investigate conditions on 152 farms on King Island. The committee has reported on 49 farms and has recommended the re-development of 4,479 acres. Already £91,221 has been credited to the settlers’ accounts. Redevelopment is now under way. Although subsequent cultivation, cropping and the sowing of a suitable pasture mixture, with adequate fertilizer to ensure quick and effective establishment, undoubtedly will be carried out, I feel that the problem of the rushes will be with us until the C.S.I.R.O. develops some economic method of eradicating them. I appeal to the Minister to request the organization to conduct some research into the control of pith rush.
I hope that the Minister, in closing the debate, will be able to give me some information on the progress which is being made with exploratory work into the vast deposits of iron ore which have been discovered in recent times in the Savage River area on the west coast of Tasmania. The Minister will recall that I have made various representations to him and have supplied to him a detailed plan for development which was forwarded to me by Councillor Leslie Muir Wilson of Forest. Councillor Wilson has had extensive experience, both in England and in Spain. Certain samples of the ore have been collected and tests have been conducted to determine the quality of the steel that can be produced from it. My information is that these tests now have been completed and I hope that the Minister will be able to make the results available to us. I believe that there are millions of tons of ore in these deposits, which are in very rugged country.
About eighteen months ago the Commonwealth Government made a grant of £5,000,000 to assist in the development of the north-west part of Australia. I agree wholeheartedly with this allocation of funds, and I appeal to the Government to assist my own State of Tasmania by making grants for the construction of access roads and railways to enable the ore to be transported to some suitable spot near Stanley where it can be treated and shipped from the excellent deep-water port of Stanley.
This area in Circular Head is one of the richest agricultural parts of Australia, but it sadly lacks a secondary industry. The provision of smelting works for the conversion of iron ore to steel would be a tremendous boon, not only to Circular Head but also to the whole of the north-west coast of Tasmania. Our progressive State Government, under the very able leadership of the Honorable Eric Reece, is planning a £20,000,000 hydro-electric scheme on the Pieman River on the west coast. If electric furnaces were used, it would obviate the need for coking coal which is in short supply in Australia. The establishment of an industry such as this would be a means also of providing employment in Circular Head for hundreds of sons of primary producers. The farmer to-day, in a land of rising costs, perhaps is able to establish his eldest son on the land, but every year we see young people obliged to leave Circular Head and other country districts to seek employment elsewhere.
If this Government is sincere in its policy of decentralization, it will give some assistance to the proposal to establish an industry of the kind that I have mentioned. I look forward to receiving from the Minister some information on the tests which have been carried out on the iron ore deposits in the Savage River area on the west coast of Tasmania.
– ft is refreshing to see the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) and the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) take charge, if only for a short time, of the Opposition front bench. No doubt, as soon as the extreme left wing of the Labour Party returns they will scuttle back to their holes on the back bench. During the debate on the Estimates this afternoon the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) resorted to a constant barrage of destructive tactics. It is well known to most honorable members that usually each afternoon he retires for two or three hours sleep. Apparently, due to the activities in which he indulged this afternoon, he is having his sleep after dinner instead of after lunch.
Mr. Chairman, just before the suspension of the sitting the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) spoke on the subject of national development. I think that honorable members on both sides of the chamber would commend, the earnestness and industry which the honorable member displays in the debates in which he participates; but it would be better if, instead of speaking on almost every subject which comes before us, he confined himself to those subjects in which he is an expert and refrained from speaking on subjects of which he has a very meagre knowledge. It was quite clear from the remarks he made before dinner that he was repeating something that he had heard and that he was not speaking from his own knowledge. Some of the things he said were plainly untrue. [Quorum formed.]
He said that many professional people and skilled workers were leaving the project in the Snowy Mountains because under present circumstances there was not sufficient work for them there. That statement is plainly untrue. Quite obviously, various people are leaving the service of the Snowy Mountains Authority to work in other industries. That has been the position since the project was begun, but there is very little difference between the relevant figures for the last twelve months and those for any previous year. The suggestion that professional people are leaving this country and are being lost to Australia because there are no opportunities for work in the Snowy Mountains area is completely untrue.
The honorable gentleman showed a lack of realism in the remarks he made about tackling the problems of national development. He said - I wrote down his words at the time - “ All we have to do is to conserve the water that is there”. He was speaking of the north of Australia, but that covers a pretty large area. He did not say whether he was speaking of the Kimberley area, the Barkly Tableland, the Burdekin area, or the wet areas of Queensland. He said that we needed a Snowy Mountains project in the north of Australia. Does the honorable gentleman suggest that that project should be carried out in the Burdekin area? Has he made any examination of the intricate problems involved? The Queensland Government has investigated this matter and is very doubtful whether it could make water flow uphill. Perhaps the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has no doubts about that matter.
The honorable gentleman was very vague in his remarks and he showed the facile way in which he tackles these problems. He implied that the Government was doing nothing in these matters. He ignored the achievements of the Government. He ignored the fact that last year the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) appointed a committee to examine the prospects of agricultural development in the Territories in order to decide what could be grown economically. It would be useless to establish a large farming settlement in the north if the farmers in that settlement had to be subsidized in order to enable them to carry on. The honorable gentleman also ignored the fact that this Government has made available large sums of money for the construction of the diversion dam on the Ord River, which will make possible large-scale experiments in the Kimberley region. These experiments may lead to that area being opened up in future years.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also drew analogies between this country and certain areas of the United’ States of America, but he did not refer to the difference between the resources available to the Governments of the two countries. He made no attempt to compare the benefit that Australia would derive from the investment of £1,000,000 in the north and the investment of £1,000,000 in the south. Because of our shortage of resources, we must make that comparison before we go into large-scale plans for the development of the northern areas of Australia.
Mr. Chairman, I should like to devote my few remarks on these estimates chiefly to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Because the Government has increased the funds available to that organization from £2,000,000 to £8,000,000, and has encouraged rural organizations to establish research committees and to contribute to research on behalf of their own industries, it is quite clear that the Government places a great deal of importance upon research in assisting rural industries to produce more efficiency and more economically. The Government has shown that it regards this matter as being of great importance to the country and to our rural and export industries, but I place on it an even greater importance than has the Government.
I should like to see more funds made available to the C.S.I.R.O. I know it is very easy to say that more money should be made available to this body and that more money should be made available to that body, but I believe that a modest annual increase in the funds made available to the C.S.I.R.O. would bring untold benefit to our primary industries. The results of the extra work that the additional funds would make possible would enable those industries to reduce their costs and so be able to compete more actively in the world markets. That is most important at the present time, when our primary industries are facing difficulty in the export markets. I go so far as to say that one of the main hopes for the primary industries of this country remaining effective, independent and free from government subsidization, and maintaining their ability to earn the major proportion of our export income, depends upon the ability of our scientific organizations to come up with results of certain research work which will enable our primary producers radically to reduce their costs in many fields. There are also other arguments for increasing the expenditure on research.
I believe that the amount of money made available to the C.S.I.R.O. should be increased more than it hasbeen. In the last four or five years the organization has been trying to cover a much wider and larger field than previously. Much more research is being made into the problems of northern Australia. Although the Government and the C.S.I.R.O. say that that work has not detracted from the funds available for research into the problems of southern Australia, in fact it has done so. I know that exact comparisons are difficult to make, but although in a large measure the amount of money available for research into the problems of the southern areas of Australia has remained the same, because of the effect of inflation and increased salaries the amount of practical work that can be done with that money has been reduced. I think it is true to say that most of the additional money which has been made available to the organization has been spent on tackling research into the problems of the north, I believe that that is wrong. I do not regret the work that has been done in respect of the north, but I say that as the C.S.I.R.O. is covering a larger field the funds made available to it should be increased at a greater rate so that the volume of work being done on southern problems will not be reduced. The amount of money made available to the organization should be increased by an amount in excess of the additional funds which have been spent on research into northern problems.
I have mentioned briefly the contribution that I believe the C.S.I.R.O. can make to a solution of the costs problem of primary producers. Every producer, irrespective of his occupation, knows the contribution that the organization has made in the past, but the contribution that it can make in the future is so much greater than that made in the past that few primary producers realize the possibilities that are before them. That applies particularly to the producers in the high rainfall areas and the pasture improve ment areas of Australia. I will take just one example. The major cost involved in maintaining or increasing production in those areas is the cost of fertilizer and superphosphate. I know that the C.S.I.R.O. is sceptical of what has been done in other countries, but some countries have a service under which a farmer may send samples of his soil to a research centre and be told the fertilizers that are needed in order to grow a particular crop that that farmer wishes to grow in that soil. No such service is available in Australia. Having regard to the amount of knowledge that has been gained by research carried out in this country, it will be a very long time before such a service is available here. It is well known that most of the pasture improvement areas in this country use superphosphate, but at the present time the farmers are blindly putting on from half a bag to a bag, and sometimes two bags, to the acre, hoping that the quantities they are using are right. They do not know that they should be putting on something in addition to the superphosphate. Some farmers, but only a few, have this knowledge. In most instances, the application of the superphosphate is merely a blind, expensive operation on the part of the farmer who is not game to experiment for fear of doing great damage to his soil. Those who have had practical experience in connexion with these matters know that if you do the wrong thing you can do a great deal of damage to your soil. They know that if you put on either too little or too much your productivity can be severely jeopardized.
Enough work has been done in Australia already to make it apparent that there could be a tremendous advancement in this field. Research in South Australia has shown that in certain areas if only 30 lb., or even less superphosphate is applied to the acre the yield per acre has not been jeopardized. There may be many other areas where farmers are still putting on half a bag or a bag to the acre because they do not know any better or because they are not prepared to gamble with their livelihood. They fear that if they cut down the ration of superphosphate they will get either no crop at all or virtually none, and they cannot afford to jeopardize their livelihood in this way. Further experiments that have been undertaken at Crookwell in
New South Wales after about a ton of superphosphate per acre had been put on the soil have shown that any further use of superphosphate would be quite useless except for the small sulphur content in it. Those experiments have shown that in this particular country if gypsum is used instead of superphosphate very great benefits will result. So far as I know, those are the only two areas in which this type of experiment has been undertaken to any great degree and in which the results of the experiments can be gauged with any accuracy.
But there are many millions of acres of improved pastures in Australia which have now had one ton or 30 cwt. of superphosphate to the acre applied to them but which have not been examined thoroughly because the resources of the C.S.I.R.O. are not sufficient to enable complete examination to be undertaken. I know that certain experiments are being undertaken in South Australia and that in the Division of Soils in Canberra there is an officer undertaking research into certain wheat areas around Wagga. It has been demonstrated that the superphosphate needs of the soils around Wagga vary from as much as 40 to 500 lb. per acre per annum, but at the moment there is no known technique for ascertaining just what amounts should be applied to any particular farm.
A research officer has been working on this for three years and, with the resources available to him at the moment, he may have some answers for us in ten, twelve or fifteen years, whereas if an additional laboratory assistant were allocated to him and he were given one or. two field officers, he would have the answers available for the farmers of the area in about four years. Because of the limited resources available to him, this officer will be curtailing all field experiments next year. He has not yet had time to analyse statistically the results of his research over the last two or three years. Attaching the importance that I do to the work of the C.S.I.R.O., I feel that this sort of thing should not happen. I know that these matters have been brought before the executive of the C.S.I.R.O., and while I do not quarrel with the order of priorities placed on work by that organization, the fact is that in that order of priorities this particular project has not been given the importance it deserves, nor has it bees assisted in the way in which I think it should be to bring it to completion within a reasonably short space of time.
There is another factor which demonstrates that this problem should not be left until five or ten years from now. The resources available to Australia to maintain the productivity of 30,000,000 acres of improved pastures are not unlimited. It is probable, from what we know, that already one-third of the phosphates available to this country have been used. In the 1930’s, the average annual consumption was about 750,000 tons. Now it is something over 2,000,000 tons.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I challenge the astounding statement by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) that expenditure in the north should be based on the results to be achieved as compared with the results that would accrue from the expenditure of an equivalent amount in the south. Did the honorable member hold that view when the Japanese were bombing Darwin during the war? Did he hold that view when the Japanese were hammering at our very doors, because the open north had encouraged them to try to invade this area? Does the honorable member begrudge the sugar industry in North Queensland the protection it has been accorded at the expense of the taxpayers to enable it to become the great industry it is to-day? It was another great help in defending Australia against the Japanese during the last war. Again, national investments such as investment in the development works being carried out in the south of Australia must be protected. I refer to investment in such national works as the Snowy River scheme. The only way in which that investment can be protected is to develop and populate the north; there is no other way of doing that. The taxpayer of Australia must spend money in the north, and he must not spend it in the hope of obtaining quick returns; he must spend it there with a view to obtaining slow but certain dividends which will eventually repay him handsomely for his support of such a policy. That is the only hope Australia can have for security in the years to come.
In discussing the estimates for the Department of National Development, I should like to direct the attention of the committee to a publication entitled “ Major Development Projects “, published by the Department of National Development. In that publication, the department sets out the major development works, both State and Commonwealth, which are in progress throughout Australia at the moment. In dealing with those projects, it emphasizes the lack of work being undertaken in the Northern Territory. It discloses that very little in the way of national works is being undertaken in the north. It is true that the estimates for the Northern Territory provide for the carrying out of certain works related to administration and development, but those are only works urgently needed to cater for the needs of a greatly expanded population. For instance, under the heading “ Water Projects Under Construction “ we find that nothing is being done in the Northern Territory. Again, under the heading “ Water Projects Completed “, we find nothing done in the Northern Territory.
I think it will be agreed that not only in the north of Australia but also in the inland, whether it be in New South Wales in the electorate of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King), or that of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser), or in Queensland, in the electorate of the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray), it is essential that we exploit our water resources to the fullest extent. We can no longer afford to allow water to run out to sea from our great rivers. In the north, north-east and north-west we have great river systems eminently suited for water conservation schemes and we should be making some attempt to conserve and utilize those waters. But no such work is being undertaken in those areas at present with the exception of the Ord River Scheme in Western Australia where some belated preliminary work is being carried out. I hope that in the very near future some water conservation works will be put on a definite programme.
Then we have electric power projects. A new power station is to be built at Darwin at a cost of £1,800,000. This plant is being constructed not as part of any great developmental project but to cater for the normal expansion of the town. This power station could have been constructed in Canberra, but Darwin happens to be the location chosen.
Now I come to the very important matter of railway construction programmes. In every State, some construction work is being undertaken. Whether it is by way of conversion of gauge or reconstruction does not matter. The point is that some railway construction work is being undertaken. But in the remote parts of the north where we should be now undertaking railway construction programmes, not £1 is being spent on such works. The Government is not even honouring the Commonwealth’s solemn undertaking to South Australia under the terms of the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910 to complete the construction of the north-south line right through to Darwin. Another railway project for which the north is crying out is the proposed railway line across the Barkly Tableland, which should at least be commenced. That line could serve the Queensland Channel country, the southwest of Queensland, New South Wales and, ultimately, Victoria. But not even a survey is being made in connexion with projects like these.
With respect to roads and bridges, the only work going on in the Northern Territory at present is the reconstruction of one road. No new roads at all are being built and no expenditure on new roads has been allowed for. No port works are under way in the Territory. Only one airport project is in progress there at the present time. That is the construction of an airport as an alternative to the one at Darwin for use by jet aircraft which are in distress or find difficulty in landing at Darwin. That new airport is not intended for internal air traffic in the Territory.
So the picture unfolds. Out of the expenditure of some hundreds of millions of pounds on developmental works listed in the publication which I have mentioned, a total of no more than £5,500,000 will be devoted to the Northern Territory in the next five and a half, or six years. This means that only about £1,000,000 a year is to be spent on major developmental works in the Territory over the next five or six years. That is very meagre indeed. Apparently, a miracle is needed if the Territory is to be developed.
Various important resources should be developed. If the bauxite deposits in the Territory were exploited properly, they would provide the basis of further settlement and a great deal more development in the north. But what is happening with respect to these deposits? Recently, the Commonwealth Government handed over the whole of the bauxite deposits in the Northern Territory to the British Aluminium Company Limited, 47 per cent, of the capital of which, I believe, is owned by American interests, the balance being in the hands of British interests. We are trusting to this company to develop these bauxite resources at some time in the future. But the company has extensive interests in other parts of the world. When it has exhausted the possibilities of those interests it may get around to developing the bauxite deposits of the Northern Territory. I think that here we have a situation in which the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with private enterprise if you like, should step in and, in the interests of the Territory, really develop these deposits which, I am reliably informed, are some of the most extensive bauxite deposits in the world.
It may be said, of course, that the lack of electric power prevents the exploitation of these deposits. But atomic energy, as we know it to-day, is making great progress in Australia and also in other parts of the world, notably in the British Isles. By using atomic energy for the generation of electric power we could develop the bauxite deposits in the north and develop our aluminium industry so much as to enable us to export aluminium instead of importing it as we do at present. I am aware that the Government has an idea that at some time in the future hydroelectric power generated in New Guinea will be used in the aluminium industry, but I think that that will be far in the future and that the success of such a programme is extremely doubtful. The knowledge that we have at present indicates that we could produce electricity by the use of atomic power, especially in the Northern Territory, where we have ample supplies of uranium for atomic power plants in proximity to supplies of raw material for an aluminium industry. We could establish in the Territory a self-contained aluminium industry which would develop a vast area which is at present completely undeveloped and almost completely uninhabited.
– But the cost of treating bauxite by the use of atomic power would be four times as great as the economic cost of treatment.
– The honorable member will have to argue that out with the British experts who say that atomic power is virtually competitive with power produced by the normal orthodox methods. I do not know enough to argue about it. I merely point out that we have in the Northern Territory in proximity to each other both supplies of the basic fuel needed to power treatment plants, and resources of the basic raw material from which aluminium is produced. I think, as do the Premier of South Australia and the experts of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, that in the very near future atomic energy will be in use in inland Australia, and I suggest that in respect of the production of aluminium we should at least explore the possibilities of this kind of power.
I move on now to research and to the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in the Northern Territory in fields such as agriculture and mining. I think that at some time or other all of us have paid tribute to the work of this wonderful organization, and I wish to add my meed of praise for the work that its officers have done and are doing in northern Australia. We know something of the most important work that they have done in relation to agriculture. At the present time, Mr. Chairman, the C.S.I.R.O. is conducting experimental work on the rice project at Humpty Doo, which is being exploited by American interests. The Commonwealth Government is pouring large sums of money into the C.S.I.R.O. for the purpose of bolstering private investment in that part of the world. I say that if the Commonwealth Government were to avail itself of the information being obtained by this organization it would be in a position itself to undertake major developmental projects in that part of Australia.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, it is a very great privilege to serve in this Parliament at such an exciting period of its history. Probably no parliament and no country in history have had the opportunity that we have to-day. In 1949 the present Government was elected. It embarked on a crusade, a policy, to spend £250,000,000 on national development. Much more than that amount has been so spent since that time. Honorable members on both sides of the Parliament are aware of the greatness of this country.
Although there has been an acceleration of development there is now a challenge to accelerate at a greater pace. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) said that the Government should take greater notice of what has been done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The Government is already taking the fullest advantage of the efforts of the C.S.I.R.O. I think it can be claimed that more work has been done and more precise information obtained at the Kimberley Research Station in northern Australia than in any other part of Australia or any other country in the world. The information obtained there is being used speedily. The honorable member for the Northern Territory has charged the Government, not with being too slow, but with being too fast and with going ahead too quickly. Of course, there is energy and vigour in this country, which we are going to put into this job.
Some people say that the only reason the Northern Territory is being developed is because of defence considerations. That is nonsense. Nobody suggests that we are going to dig rifle pits for about 2,000 miles across northern Australia along those white flats bordering fine rivers and put men there to defend the beach. That is ridiculous. But we say that, for our security, there should be a reasonable and logical development of the north at the right speed.
In a job of this kind there are many factors to be considered. The British found this out in undertaking the ground nut scheme in Kenya. They found that the scheme was so big and progressed so fast that the workers could not spend the money that was paid to them because of the absence of resources. We have been chided by the honorable member for the Northern Territory who is now interjecting. I am pleased that he made his speech but an answer can be given to him. As we listened to him, so he has to listen to what we say about this matter.
The C.S.I.R.O. itself says that we can only have pilot farms at the start because a lot of economic factors are involved in ground nuts. For instance, it might cost £1.000 to deliver a load of peanuts from one farm, whereas if hundreds of farms were involved economic transport for the produce could be arranged. All these factors come into the matter. At the moment we can have only pilot farms. But there is no need to stop at pilot farms. Already, in Northern Australia, there is a great pastoral industry. We hold in solemn memory the explorers who went out to these pretty tough and grim areas. Some of them did not come back. Those who did return had a spell and then went out again. After them went the men who populated those areas with thousands of head of cattle. There are millions of cattle there to-day. Those men have been waiting since for the. dream time, this year of 1960, to come when a vigorous, powerful and energetic government will undertake the development of the area. This area is so vast that it almost defies one’s imagination. The task of developing northern Australia is one which no other country of comparable size has tackled. This is indeed a tremendous job.
We are proud that the oil men are there - men who are to be described as empire builders. They go for hundreds of miles in uncharted areas making seismographic surveys, drilling for oil and planning the investment of great amounts of capital, both American- and Australian. They are helped by the Department of National Development in the putting down of bores. These men are becoming used to this country and are doing a great job.
The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), who is interjecting, is not noted for his capacity to go out to the tough country. I think he goes to the fleshpots of the old world while the men to whom I refer see the wide horizons of the sun-drenched country where there is little water, finding out not only what is on top of the land, but also what is happening underneath the surface. They have sunk bores thousands of feet deep to find out what is happening below the surface. These men are giving tremendous service to this country, and in this Parliament we should study what they are doing. This is about the last country in which oil has not been found. In other countries, 3,000 wells and 4,000 dry holes have been bored before oil was discovered. Here, the search is for the sedimentary basin and for marine deposits which may be capable of producing the precious black fluid which will make such a difference to the settlement and development of those wide areas of ours. So the search for oil goes on.
Minerals have already been found. At Mount Isa, there are copper concentrates. At Mary Kathleen there is uranium. The development at Rum Jungle has been the forerunner of better transport, better facilities and a better way of life. It has brought more men into that area and has brought women who can perform their part in lifting the standard of living. We have had the most primitive forms of transport in the beef industry and better forms of transport for our minerals. Having examined the matter patiently and laboriously and having taken into consideration all the facts, we can say quite confidently that transport is of the greatest importance. It enables us to move our stock and to move the riches of the mineral lodes. Discovery is still going on. I think that Mr. Fisher, of Mount Isa, said a few days ago that Mount Isa was discovered because it was on the side of a road. The more roads we put in the more minerals we will find. Already more terrain is being mapped, investment is being arranged, and bores are being sunk. There is a deposit of iron ore 100 miles south-west of Burketown so great that it baffles the imagination. This is an indication of the wealth that is beginning to display itself. If the Government or the Parliament decides in its wisdom to lift the embargo on the export of iron ore, that will encourage people to go out and find iron ore and all the other minerals which always are found with it.
– We have only 30 years’ supply ahead.
– The honorable member says we have only 30 years’ supply. My information is different from that. We have vast deposits of iron ore and we have only scratched the surface of them. At this moment, there are in sight supplies of iron ore sufficient for hundreds of years, but it is not worth while to locate new deposits because the ore cannot be exported and cannot be sold. For all practical purposes, it is worth no more than ordinary dirt. Nevertheless, iron ore deposits, and the minerals that go with them, ought to be located. lt has been suggested that there should be a northern development authority, like the Snowy Mountains Authority. I doubt the advisability of adopting that suggestion. Already, the States have a paternal interest in certain areas. For instance. Western Australia is jealous of the north-western and Kimberleys areas. Queensland is jealous of its enormous wealth. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), in addition to his brilliant work in New Guinea, has also been doing patient and solid work in the Northern Territory. I do not think the authorities concerned would relish the idea of a northern development authority being placed over them. I am of the opinion that we have in existence now the machinery that is necessary to undertake the developmental work. We could continue to use that machinery so long as there was the correct spirit of co-operation between the Commonwealth Government, the State authorities, the Northern Territory administration, the various boards, and the other organizations concerned, such as the local authorities, which will invest the necessary capital if they are given the opportunity to do so.
Because of the work that has been done in the north, because of all the achievements there, because of the opportunity that we have been given, due to the very substantial increase in the price of meat, and because of the vigour and energy of the people of this country, I urge that we should go ahead and develop the north at a faster rate than we are developing it at the moment. Let us accelerate the provision of data for the C.S.I.R.O. men who are conducting research in this field. I say to the honorable member for the Northern Territory that so far as the work of the C.S.I.R.O. has asked us to do is concerned, we are right up to the collar. This may be a surprise to the Minister, but only last night our national development committee listened for two hours to Mr. C. S. Christian, the late head of the land research section of the C.S.I.R.O. and now a member of the executive of that body. Mr. Christian told us that there is a tremendous amount of research to be undertaken. He said that a man with a farm on the Katherine, with 300 acres of peanuts, 200 acres of improved pasture and 1,000 acres of rough pasture to carry the cattle through the wet season, could, provided that conditions were sound, hope to get a yield of £5,000, £6,000, or as much as £10,000 a year from something over £20,000 of capital.
I think it was the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) who spoke of the possibilities of pasture improvement. We pay a tribute to our scientists who are leading the world in some fields. We have magnificent agronomists who have been responsible for making available magical legumes. These can put nitrogen, which is so plentiful in the atmosphere around us, back into the soil. There has been evolved also the rather weedy-looking plant known as Townsville lucerne, which can do wonderful things in spear grass country, increasing its carrying capacity by up to eightfold.
This Parliament has been given the opportunity to take charge in this exciting period of development. The task ahead is a vast one. In fact, its real magnitude has never been truly appreciated. We think of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the development of Central Africa, but neither of those projects is as vast as is the job of developing fully the northern areas of Australia, including the Northern Territory. It needs wide vision, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to grasp the significance of this subject, which is so huge in scope. It is concerned with areas that are geographically vast, and with the economic and developmental needs and potential of north Australia. We are fortunate indeed that a young country as vigorous as ours has been given room in which to expand, resources to develop, and the opportunity to create wealth. We are confronted by the greatest challenge in the world today. Let us do the job that faces us.
.- The Government appears to be completely satisfied with the rate of home building in the Commonwealth. At regular intervals we read of communiques that have been issued by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) expressing great satisfaction with the increase in the number of houses constructed during a given period. But there is one sector of the Australian community that has been grossly neglected by this Government in the provision of accommodation. I refer, of course, to the lower income group. I appeal to-night to the Government to consider, when the new Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement is being drawn up next year - the present agreement expires on 30th June, 1961 - altering in a rather drastic fashion several of the present provisions of the agreement. Those provisions have proved entirely unsatisfactory in meeting the housing requirements of people who, because of their economic circumstances, are not able to purchase homes even on the payment of a nominal deposit of £500 or £600.
The present housing agreement was enacted in 1956. Prior to that, we had the agreement entered into by the Chifley Government, which came before this Parliament in 1945. It stood the test of time for eleven years, but for reasons best known to itself the present Government decided, in 1956, to alter the agreement. The result was to incorporate in the agreement several provisions which have proved to be quite inadequate to meet the basic requirements of housing in this community. Many defects have been shown in those provisions and I appeal to the Government to consider seriously, before re-enacting the present legislation, the need to improve them.
It became evident, immediately the new legislation began to operate in 1956, that the housing commissions in the various States would not be able to build as many homes as they had built previously. In 1957-58, they built 20 per cent, fewer homes because they received 20 per cent, less money, and for the last three years they have had 30 per cent. less money than they had prior to 1956. It can be seen, therefore, that there has been a marked diminution in the number of houses constructed by the State housing authorities.
Let me refer to the Victorian Housing Commission, because I am very familiar with the activities of that fine and efficient public body. In 1955-56, just before the agreement was altered, the Victorian Housing Commission built 4,152 units. Last year, it built 2,560. As a result of the reduction in the number of houses being built, we find that applications for accommodation received by the housing commission have increased markedly over the last four or five years.
It is of no use to say, when we are speaking of people who apply for housing commission homes, that this Government has been responsible for the construction of 84,000 homes, because those people are not in a financial position to take advantage of the various economic measures which, the Government claims, are responsible for that rather impressive number of homes - at least, it is impressive until it is closely examined. The people who apply for housing commission homes have not even the deposit that is required to purchase a home. Because of circumstances over which most of them have no control, they must depend on rented accommodation. Private enterprise has entirely given up constructing homes for rental by the lower income group. That group is, perforce, dependent on State instrumentalities for the provision of housing accommodation. In Victoria, just prior to the 1956 agreement coming into operation, there were 11,250 applicants, but the housing commission there now has on its books 17,481 applicants - an increase of about 6,000. That increase is not to be wondered at when we see the decrease in the number of houses being built year by year, because of the decrease in the amount of funds available. The position is much the same in New South Wales, although it is not quite so bad there as it is in Victoria. In 1956, there were 24,654 applicants for housing commission homes in New South Wales and now there are just over 28,000.
Over the last three years Victoria has received £7,000,000 a year for the building of homes under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. On the figures submitted to the public by the Victorian Minister for Housing, Mr. Petty - who is an esteemed member of the Liberal Go vernment in Victoria - the £7,000,000 received by that Government this year will build between 200 and 300 fewer houses, because of the higher cost of building. Every one knows that under this Government there has been a process of continual inflation which has manifested itself in, amongst other things, higher building costs. Despite the fact that building costs are higher, the Victorian Government has continued to receive only £7,000,000 per year. This Commonwealth Government does not recognize the difficulties confronting the State governments in meeting this formidable problem. I would suggest that when the Commonwealth Government is considering a new housing agreement with the States, it should take into consideration the increase in building costs which those States have to meet. Unless that is done, an injustice will be meted out to the State governments, which are attempting to meet the problem, and to the unfortunate group of people who cannot provide accommodation for themselves.
The present act also provides that the State governments shall allocate to the building societies 30 per cent, of the total amount granted to them for home building. The Victorian Government is receiving a total of £10,200,000, and of that sum £3,000,000 is devoted to the Victorian building societies. When the act was passed, it was stated that as a result of that provision far more houses would be built under the co-operative housing scheme and that everybody would be in a better position. I quote Mr. Petty again. To-night my sources of information are not Labour sources, because if they were it could easily be said by Government members that they were biased. Mr. Petty recently had a conference with the Housing Ministers of the various States, when they met to consider the new agreement, and he referred to the 30 per cent, of the allocation which goes to the co-operative building societies. Sir Thomas Playford, the Premier of South Australia, interjected and said to Mr. Petty-
Your figures show the co-operatives have been worse off because other sources of finance have dried up.
That is what we said before this agreement came into operation - that when the cooperatives got more money from the Government they would get less from the banks. In reply to that interjection Mr. Petty said -
The Commonwealth Bank cut off funds as soon as the co-operatives began to get money under the Housing Agreement, which resulted in the co-operatives being no better off.
When we look at the financial accommodation which has been received by the cooperative housing societies, it can be seen, so far as Victoria is concerned, that if the Commonwealth Bank cut their funds those societies would ;get practically nothing. Up to the end of 1959, under the Cooperative Housing Act of 1958, we find that the following amounts of money were provided for the Victorian co-operatives: From the Commonwealth Trading Bank and the Commonwealth Savings Bank, £22,500,000; and from the Savings Bank of Victoria, £17,500,000. Between the two government banks, the total was £40,000,000. The total amount received by the societies was £59,000,000, so from other sources £19,000,000 was received, of which the private banks found £14,000,000. In other words, we find £40,000,000 of £59,000,000 being provided by government banks. When they cut their funds - despite the fact that we were told by this Government that that would not happen - the co-operatives in Victoria were no better off under the existing act than they were under the old act.
I would suggest that when the agreement is re-enacted the State governments should be given the right to say what percentage of the money received shall go to the cooperative housing societies. Circumstances vary in the different States, and the State governments, which have their fingers on the pulse of the co-operative housing societies, know just what money those societies are getting from other lending institutions. Consequently they would be in a very good position to make the decision. I suggest that would be better than the procedure prescribed in the mandatory clause in the present legislation. I suggest that the Government give very serious consideration to that point.
There is definitely a housing shortage in Victoria, and unless the Commonwealth Government is prepared to make more money available I am afraid that the position will become no better. On 25th November, 1959, the leader of the Coun- try Party in Victoria, Sir Herbert Hyland, asked the Minister for Housing, Mr. Petty, what was the housing deficiency in Victoria and when was it anticipated that it would be eliminated. Mr. Petty replied -
Taking into consideration the number of families requiring homes who are not covered by either the housing commission or co-operative housing societies, it appears that the deficiency of houses is between 35,000 and 40,000.
Sir Herbert Hyland naturally was not satisfied with that. On 2nd December of last year he asked the Government what action it proposed to take to alleviate the housing shortage in Victoria, and Mr. Petty replied -
The reason for the shortage of houses in Victoria is shortage of finance, particularly for longterm Joans.
It can therefore be seen that the Government of Victoria recognizes the difficulty facing residents of Victoria who wish to obtain houses, whether through co-operative building societies, under the Government’s housing scheme or in any other way. When we have asked the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) why the State housing commissions cannot receive more money, he has attempted to evade his responsiblity by giving answers which do not appear to me to be in conformity with the provisions of the act. In reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) on 6th September last, he said -
The total Loan Council allocations shown under (1.) for the financial year 1960-61 are the amounts finally requested by the States concerned and approved by the Loan Council.
That might be so, but it cuts across the answer that Mr. Petty gave recently in the Victorian Parliament in reply to a question by Mr. Clarey, the member for Melbourne, who wanted to know just what the position was, and how much the Victorian Government had asked for and received. On 20tl September, replying to that question, Mr. Petty said that the amount sought by Victoria under the Commonwealth and State Housing for 1960-61 was £12,000,000 and the amount received was £10,300,000. In other words, Mr. Petty’s answer is entirely different from that given by the Minister for National Development, who said that the States arrange their own allocations. Mr. Petty said specifically that the Victorian Government asked for £12,000,000 and received £10,300,000. Mr. Petty’s answer appears to be in conformity with the provisions of the Housing Agreement Act which states
The amount to be advanced to a State under this clause in respect of a financial year referred to in sub-clause (1.) of this clause shall be such amount as may be agreed upon between the Commonwealth and that State-
This is the most important part of the provision - or, failing agreement, as may be allocated by the Commonwealth from the loan funds made available to the Commonwealth by the Loan Council in the approved borrowing programme in respect of that financial year.
That provision means that where there is a conflict of opinion between the Commonwealth and the States as to the amount to be given to individual States, the Commonwealth has the last word, yet, according to the Minister, the States themselves agree as to what the position should be.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In this debate on the Estimates for 1960-61 we are now discussing the proposed votes for the Department of National Development, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. I have listened very carefully to the debate so far and have been impressed with two contributions. Courtesy demands that I mention first the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). I was greatly impressed by the sincerity of his contribution and I agree with him whole-heartedly that the area he represents urgently requires more population not only for the good of the area itself but also for the production of more goods for Australia and for the defence and security of the Commonwealth. 1 compliment the honorable member for the Northern Territory most sincerely. The other contribution that impressed me was that of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King). He dealt with the work of the C.S.I.R.O. in a most impressive way. Coming from a man who is a practical primary producer, his contribution had added weight. I compliment him for his knowledge of the subject and the tribute he paid to this grand organization.
I believe that the Department of National Development and the C.S.I.R.O. are admirably suited to be discussed together in this debate. They are playing a major role in the progress of this nation. Primary production has increased by approximately 37 per cent. in the last ten years with little, if any, change in the rural work force. This increase has been made possible as the result of good seasons, more highly mechanized and generally improved farm plant, the work and achievements of the C.S.I.R.O., and also, of course, the work and good management of that specialist, the Australian man on the land.
Realizing the value of the C.S.I.R.O. the Government each year has increased its annual allocation to that organization. In 1949-50, the allocation was £2,094,000. It went up to £3,000,000, then to £4,000,000 odd, then to a little over £5,000,000, then to £6,000,000, and the estimate for 1959-60- the last record I have - is £8,006,000. I understand on good authority - I am subject, of course, to correction - that the amount that will be provided this year will be in the vicinity of £8,500,000, or perhaps a little more. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) said that more money should be allocated to the C.S.I.R.O., and I agree with him. Other speakers in other debates have said that considering the large amount of money involved in this Budget a few extra millions would not make much difference, but they fail to realize that the Government has virtually committed itself to the full amount contained in the Budget. Therefore, if the Government, were to allocate extra money to any particular vote it would have to take that amount from some other vote. Some people seem to think that the amount of the Budget is so vast that it would not make any difference if some of the money were allocated for other purposes; but it would make a lot of difference. The time to advocate additional grants, as I have said on many occasions, is when the Supply Bill is being debated in the House.
The result of the work of the Department of National Development will stretch into the future, continually bringing greater production and security to Australia. Great developmental schemes like the Snowy Mountains undertaking are, of course, necessary for the progress of our nation, but we must realize that such schemes are highly inflationary. Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on the Snowy Mountains scheme, and we all agree that this expenditure is justified. I believe there is not a man in this country who does not support the scheme, because it is going to be of great benefit to this nation in the future. However, until the scheme reaches the stage where it will bring about greater production it is highly inflationary. I believe that the present phase is one through which any nation has to pass to progress. When we speak of inflation in this country we must realize that all these highly inflationary projects like the Snowy Mountains scheme will eventually become anti-inflationary. When they reach the stage where they become anti-inflationary our economy will perhaps be’ on a more even keel.
Let me give a very homely illustration of this. A man has a farm of 600 acres and is producing from 200 acres. He wants to extend his production to another 200 acres. In order to do that, he has to clear the land and prepare the seed beds. Perhaps he will borrow the money and commence to clear his property to prepare it for production. While he is in the process of doing so his property is overcapitalized. We can draw a simile between any farming property in this country and the problems of this nation’s economy. When this man gets his extra land into production - gets more sheep on it or grows more crops - it will bring him in more money and he will pay off his overdraft and be in a stronger financial position. Surely the same applies to the country as a whole.
At the present time, of course, the man on the land is not in an enviable position because he has to buy everything he uses on the farm and everything that he consumes on our high standard of living market whilst he has to sell a tremendous amount of his produce on lower standard of living markets overseas. All this has to do with the development of this country, and that is why I mention it. The C.S.I.R.O. can only carry out research and advocate certain methods of production which it believes, if applied, will protect our stock and crops and help in a general way. The Department of National Development can only implement schemes like the Snowy Mountains scheme and make water and power available to those who wish to use it. The great developer in any country is the individual- the man on the land. It is the man on the land to whom I wish to pay a tribute because it is he who, throughout the history of the development of this country, first of all without the C.S.I.R.O. and the Department of National Development but now in cooperation with those two organizations, has played his part in the development of this country.
The Opposition has continually protested against the raising of overseas loans, but it must be remembered that these loans have been the basis of the importation of heavy earth-moving equipment to this country. Without that heavy earth-moving equipment we could not have schemes such as the Snowy Mountains project. One honorable member asked why we did not have the Snowy Mountains scheme 50 years ago. The answer, of course, is that such a scheme could not be undertaken without modern machinery, and that modern machinery could not be obtained without the help of overseas loans. Wherever we travel throughout the country we see great bulldozers and other earthmoving equipment, the presence of which has been made possible by overseas loans which many people in this country have condemned. This equipment has been used to build roads, harbours, railways and irrigation systems.
When I refer to harbours, I have in mind specifically one of the greatest developmental projects in this country - the construction of the harbour at Portland Bay in Victoria. Portland is in the electorate of the honorable member for Wannon, who is in full accord with the project. I believe that this harbour is one of the greatest decentralization schemes that we have had in this era. But we must consider how we will get goods to and f rom Portland. Portland will serve the south-east of South Australia, the western district of Victoria, the electorate of Mallee and the electorate of Wimmera. The question is: Will the people who live in those areas - the wool-growers, wheat-growers, dairy farmers and dried fruit growers - ship their goods through Portland, and receive goods through Portland to be distributed to them in the hinterland? If these people are really enthusiastic about using the port instead of sending their goods to Geelong, Melbourne or Adelaide, I believe it will be one of the greatest factors contributing to decentralization in the whole of Australia.
The harbour will be opened at a special ceremony on 19th November next. It is so constructed that it will be able to receive the largest ships afloat. We should make every effort to ensure that governments and authorities co-operate in such schemes as the Snowy Mountains scheme and in projects such as the development of the port of Portland.
This group of estimates covers the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Very little reference has been made to this commission, and in the three minutes left to me I cannot say much about it. However, 1 should like to refer to the part that the commission could play in making full use of the waters of the great Murray River, Australia’s largest waterway. As the honorable member for the Northern Territory said, we cannot afford to let our water resources flow uselessly into the sea, but none the less millions upon millions of gallons each year are lost in this way. It may be a strange coincidence that the Australian Atomic Energy Commission is covered by the group of estimates we are now discussing, because I believe that it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the commission may, in the future, through the use of atomic energy, be able to provide large water storages without the great expense that is now involved. Large water storages could be provided along the Murray River so that in flood time, and perhaps even with the normal flow of the river, water could be stored for irrigation and for use in dry seasons. This would bring into production thousands of acres of the most fertile land.
I pay a tribute to the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. It is in its infancy, but it will play a big part in our future. Of course, every one supports the Department of National Development, and we all pay a tribute to the achievements of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. This organization has shown us the way to improved production, and has also shown us how to pro tect the land from erosion by both water and wind. It has shown the farmers how to make their land produce more than it ever did before, and it will do even more for us in the future. One man has said that if he knew all the secrets contained in ten acres of land he could produce as much on that area as was previously produced on SOO acres. Research of that type lies in the future. These research organizations, working with the men who have the practical knowledge of the land, will help Australia to greater prosperity and progress in the future.
.- The departments we are now discussing have great significance in the development of Australia. I am disappointed to see so many Liberal Party benches vacant to-night. But members of the Liberal Party are a pretty sorry lot. They must do something in the future because, after all, they have done very little for the development of Australia since they came to office in 1949. I pay respect on this occasion to members of the Australian Country Party because they are at least showing some interest in these matters, and a good number of them have been present during this debate. Members of the Liberal Party, however, are divided in their opinions. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser), with his capitalist philosophy, said that we cannot afford to develop the north; better fields for development can be found elsewhere. It will be interesting to hear whether the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Browne), who is the next speaker, will challenge the opinions of the honorable member for Wannon. I have yet to hear what the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray), another member from the north, has to say on this subject.
The development of Australia should be in the hand’s of people of vision. It should not be developed for capitalist interests, but for the good of our fellow men. People with the vision of Chifley and Curtin are needed on the treasury bench to ensure that Australia is developed for the people and not for the exploiters. At present, oil companies are engaged in drilling operations, but they are using our money. The Government should be engaged in these drilling operations so that the discovery of oil will be for the benefit of the people and not for the benefit of these oil companies.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) spoke with some wisdom earlier to-night about the future development of the north of Australia. The honorable member for the Northern Territory supported him.
– Do you support the Deputy Leader of the Opposition?
– I am supporting the Deputy Leader right now. Great vision is needed for the development of Australia. But members of the Liberal Party are a pretty sorry lot and they are a divided crowd. They drag red herrings across the trail, but we will not be diverted. We know where we are going; they do not. They are a pretty frustrated lot. I support the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird), who dealt with the position regarding housing that has resulted from this Government’s policy. This Government - and that includes the Country Party - has done very little to improve the housing position. We all know the old story; they say they will solve the housing problem within three or four years.
– That was said by the New South Wales Labour Government.
– I will answer your criticisms, too. We find that to-day there are still shortages of houses throughout Australia. The New South Wales Housing Commission has 28,000 people waiting for homes. In Victoria, which has a Liberal Government, 17,000 people are still waiting for homes, and in South Australia, which also has a Liberal Government, 10,000 people are still waiting for homes. The only place where this housing problem can be solved is in this Commonwealth Parliament; but this Government says that housing is not a federal responsibility, but a State responsibility. It passes the buck once again to the States. In national development it has passed1 the buck to the Western Australian Government for the development of the north-west of that State, and it has also passed the buck to the Queensland Government to develop north Queensland. But I am going to bring you men right back to this question, because I will give you a problem that is your responsibility, and you have done very little about this in the eleven years that you have been in office. The responsibility for war service homes is yours.
Order! The honorable gentleman will address the Chair.
– I should like to see you, Mr. Wight, get out of the chair - valiant exserviceman that you are - and speak in this debate. You gentlemen opposite wear your badges with pride and speak of the welfare of ex-servicemen but you have not the courage to stand against your Government and do something for them.
Order! The honorable gentleman has been told to address the Chair.
– You will not do anything about the most important problem of war service homes. The Government’s record in the provision of war service homes is a sorry one. In 1950, the first year after it came into power, it constructed 15,000 homes, which involved a capital expenditure of £25,000,000. The revenue receipts amounted to £4,000,000, therefore the net expenditure was approximately £21,000,000. At that time, the outstanding applications for war service homes totalled 23,000. It is a sorry record that last year, nearly ten years afterwards, the Government provided only 14,000 homes, involving a gross capital expenditure of £35,000,000. The revenue received was about £20,000,000, so in effect a net amount of only about £15,000,000 was expended on war service homes, yet the applications still outstanding numbered 21,000. That is the record of the Government in relation to war service homes. Its members sit there and say, “ We are quite proud of our record “, yet it has done little. The figures show that the War Service Homes Division is a revenue raiser, because in the first year after the Government came into power it received £4,000,000 on account of war service homes, whereas last year it received nearly £20,000,000. Therefore, there has been an increase of £16,000,000 in revenue. It has increased the annual expenditure in that period by £10,000,000, so the Government’s income on these transactions has increased by £6,000,000. Therefore, it is spending £6,000,000 a year less on war service homes than it spent ten years ago.
Let us look at the position in regard to inflation. The £25,000,000 which was expended in 1950 would be worth nearly £50,000,000 to-day. Let us not run away from the facts. In 1950-51 the average cost of a dwelling and block of land in New South Wales - these are the figures furnished by the War Service Homes Division - was £2,080. On the Government’s own figures, last year the average cost of a dwelling and block of land was £3,950. So the cost has nearly doubled. That is the record. Ten years ago the Government made available £25,000,000, which to-day would be equivalent to nearly £50,000,000, yet actually last year only £35,000,000 was made available. Revenue increased by £16,000,000, from £4,000,000 in 1951 to £20,000,000 last year. Are Government supporters proud of that record?
– It is not revenue.
– You have to get up and join in this debate. We have been debating the subject for a very lengthy period. Exservicemen on the other side have talked about war service homes, but I have yet to hear one of you say what you really feel. I hope that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Browne) - the next speaker - will speak on behalf of ex-servicemen and say what they feel about the position and what members of the Liberal Party feel about ex-servicemen. You gentlemen who wear your badges with pride have, quite frankly, done very little for exservicemen.
Order! I shall not remind the honorable member for Reid again that he must direct his remarks to the Chair.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I shall read some of the statements that have been made by ex-servicemen about war service homes and many other items. I commend to you particularly the report I hold in my hand; it is well worth reading. When you stood in your place in this chamber during a recent debate on housing loans in the Australian Capital Territory, you said the maximum permissible advance was too low and that applicants for war service homes loans should get more than £2,750, but you have not had the courage to press the matter. I challenged you last year, as I challenge you now, to get up and call upon your Government to increase the amount made available for war service homes.
-I raise a point of order. I direct your attention, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to the fact that it is the practice in this place to look upon the Chair as being impersonal. The honorable member has been reflecting upon your courage as a member while addressing you in your capacity as Temporary Chairman.
– The honorable member for Capricornia is quite right. The honorable member for Reid must recognize that in addressing the committee he does so through the Chair and that when a member is in the chair he is impartial and impersonal and no reflection may be cast upon a member while he is in the chair for his activities as a private member or the speeches that he makes on the floor of the chamber. If it is desired to refer to his activities or speeches he should be addressed not as the occupant of the chair, but as the member for his division.
– I apologize to the Chair for having offended. Now let us get down to the facts. This Government has a rotten record in regard to war service homes. I want to direct your attention, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to the fact that the Government is the money-lender’s friend. Any honorable member who tries to assist ex-servicemen knows that he has to send them out to the money-lenders to get temporary finance. There is a waiting period for war service homes. A person who wants to build a home under the provisions of the act - the division will build the home for him - has to wait three months before the building is begun, and he will be lucky if he gets into the home within twelve months of the date his application was made. If he wishes to build privately with the aid of temporary finance, he has to wait nine months. If he wishes to purchase an old home, he has to wait twenty months. If he wishes to purchase a new home, he has to wait twelve months from the time his application is approved. If he wishes to obtain a group house, he has to wait eleven months. This information has been provided: by the War Service
Homes Division. It is no reflection on officers of the division, who, I find, are very obliging. I should like them to be given more money so that they could do a better job.
The fact is that this Government will not make available sufficient money. It tells applicants to go to money-lenders, from whom they can borrow money only at 8, 10 or 12 per cent., for periods up to twenty months, or even longer. Just imagine. Fifteen years after the war, an ex-serviceman who wants to obtain a home and’ whose application has been approved is told, “ In twenty months you will be able to get your money. In the meantime you must get temporary finance from the moneylenders.” It has been proven time and time again that this Government is a highinterest Government and a friend of the money-lenders. It is in a position to face up to its obligations and to make available more money for war service homes, but it will not do so. Applications for war service homes, which totalled 23,000 in 1950, now total 21,000.Yet prior to 1952, if an exserviceman had an existing mortgage and wanted to replace it by a mortgage to the War Service Homes Division - as he should have been able to do - owing tothe credit restrictions operating at that time the Government would not make the money available, so many thousands of exservicemen built with the aid of lending societies or with temporary finance. They made their own arrangements, but when they tried to have the mortgages transferred to the War Service Homes Division, they were told that this could not be done.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- First of all, I should, perhaps, ensure; the realization of one of the hopes of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), who wanted me to make some reference to war service homes. On that subject let me make a few remarks. There is a. waiting time of twenty months, as the honorable member suggested, for war service homes finance. Does the honorable member suggest that the Government should-
– Make more money available!
– Not make more money available, as the honorable member suggests, because it would have to make an infinite amount of money available. If the honorable member really contends that the Government should do this, where does he think it would get the money from? As I have agreed, there is a waiting time of twenty months, but while an ex-serviceman is waiting that twenty months he can obtain bank finance at the current bank interest rates.
– At 12 per cent.!
– Well, I bought myself a house the other day, and I applied for war service homes finance to enable me to purchase it.
– How much do you want for it?
– The members of this Parliament know how affluent is the honorable member who just asked that question. What I would want for the house would not represent a drop in the ocean of his resources. But I, being a man with less than average means, had to call on the War Service Homes Division to finance my purchase of a home. Naturally, I have to wait for that finance, but within one month of making my application I was granted temporary accommodation by my bank, which charges me 6 per cent. interest. If my bank is favouring me in this instance, it is the first time it has ever done so;
The honorable member for Reid also asked me to say whether my opinion conflicts with that of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser). I suppose that if. I were to say that it does not, the honorable member for Reid would say that we on this side of the House are a mob of a kind to which we have heard the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) refer.
Order! The honorable member for Reid has made his speech, and he has interjected continually since the honorable member for Kalgoorlie rose to speak. I suggest that the honorable member for Reidremain silent. Otherwise, I will deal with him under the Standing Orders: [Quorum formed.]
– It is amazing to see the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin), who was once regarded in his party as a right-winger and a grouper, and who was considered to be a person who pressed for the rights of the individual in his party, adopting now these Communist tactics, no doubt at the direction of his honorable friend from East Sydney.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I submit that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has no right to accuse the honorable member for Kingston of being a Communist. The honorable member for Kingston was within his rights in directing attention to the state of the committee, and he should be protected by the Chair against statements such as those made by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.
Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I have about ten minutes left, and I will restrain myself, forcibly if necessary, from succumbing to the temptation to be drawn into the kind of arguments that are indulged in by these people opposite.
The Department of National Development has continued to play an important role in our progress by channelling capital and effort into certain developmental undertakings. Perhaps at this stage I might answer the question asked by the honorable member for Reid as to whether my opinion is the same as that of the honorable member for Wannon. If it gives the honorable member for Reid any pleasure, I will say that I disagree with the honorable member for Wannon. In fact, I reserve the right to disagree with any honorable member of this Parliament, no matter which party he may belong to. That is a right which honorable members opposite may also reserve, but which they have not the opportunity to exercise.
I continue to be perturbed at the lack of truly national thinking by many Australian people, including some who are in a position to do a great deal in the sphere of national development. Let me say also that I condemn the attitude of certain members of this Parliament, who use this debate on national development to try to further the purely local aims of their own electorates. This is a national question, and ours is a National Parliament. If we cannot come to our National Parliament and discuss national questions without using the debates on those questions to try to get ourselves a few votes, then something is radically wrong with this institution. Unfortunately, many people still regard our nation as comprising that 5 per cent. of Australia in which 75 per cent. of the people live. Many Victorians still think of New South Wales as being on the outer fringe of civilization, and, conversely, some residents of New South Wales hold similar views about Victoria. In any case, it can do me no harm to say once again that this nation stretches from here half way to Singapore, and the closer we get to Singapore the greater we find the need for development, and the greater will be the dividends that will be received by the people of Australia from such development.
– You are supporting the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, are you?
– I will have a few words to say about the Deputy Leader of the Opposition later. The resources of north Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia are awaiting development. Those honorable members who have been fortunate enough to visit the northern part of my electorate know that the Kimberleys cover an area comparable in extent to that of Victoria, blessed with a good rainfall and good soil, and having a great river system - and, as one of my colleagues reminds me by way of interjection, a good representative in this Parliament. This river system is shared by Western Australia with the Northern Territory, and I hope that in the near future the administrations of the Northern Territory and Western Australia will join hands across the border and establish an authority to devise plans for using these waters. The part of the country to which I refer will one day be a vast agricultural area, supporting a large population. There is no doubt about that. The only question that arises is whether we as Australians do it or somebody else does it for us.
Half-way down the coast between the Kimberleys and Perth we are provided with another instance of the need for development. 1 refer to the Gascoyne River area, where some hundreds of settlers are engaged in the precarious occupation of irrigating land from the rather fickle waters of this river. The warm conditions which prevail in that area are ideal for growing crops. These people live in the constant hope that the river will flow this year or next year and in constant fear that it will not flow. When the Gascoyne River does flow, it pours millions of gallons of water per minute into the Indian Ocean, but a few weeks later one can walk across the river bed without getting one’s feet wet. If a dam were constructed across this river, we would have many thousands of acres of intensively cultivated and irrigated land where we want it - over towards Indonesia.
It seems that water is the key to the development of Australia, whether it be for stock, for domestic use or for the treatment of mineral ores. It is the sine qua non of our developmental programme. Yet we have so much that we either do not use or allow to run into the sea. My friend the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) will bear me out when I say that the greatest rivers of Australia are in the north. Our great rivers are not the Murray, the Darling and the Murrumbidgee, about which we hear so much; they are the Ord, the Victoria, the Burdekin, the Ashburton and the Gascoyne, which between them pour 50,000,000 gallons of water per second into the sea during the seasons in which they flow. At Wiluna, 500 miles inland from the coast of Western Australia, thereis a supply of underground water which once provided for a population of 10,000 people and which we now hope will be used for agricultural purposes.
I have only a couple of minutes left, and before I deal with the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition I should like to say that the Department of National Development is doing a magnificent job in the search for oil. The search for oil is something which should be pursued by any government with any economic sense at all. Oil is our second largest import item. The expenditure of great sums of money on subsidizing the search for oil should be to great avail.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke about northern Australia, but I am sure he did so in ignorance. What he said displays quite clearly that he has never been there or, if he has been there, that he has not observed what has been going on. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has said that when he becomes the Prime Minister of the country he will make provision for an annual expenditure of £60,000,000 in the north. I do not know whether this is one of the issues on which his deputy agrees with him. But I ask him to tell the people of Australia, who one day will be asked to support a Labour government, which is the only alternative government Australia can ever hope to have, what he intends to do with that £60,000,000 and where he proposes to get it.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I wish the Government would revert to the practice of having the appropriate Minister in the chamber to pilot through the estimates for the department he administers, and of his having a prepared brief covering every item of the estimates so that he may give an immediate answer to any questions he is asked about the various items. In the estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization there is a laconic entry which indicates that £162,700 is to be spent on wild life. Below that item there is a notation which I thought might clarify the situation. But it simply reads -
Includes expenditure from contributions from outside sources.
Apparently a wild life is had on contributions from outside sources! Such items are not very clear to honorable members, who are invited to pass these estimates. I recall that when Labour was in office every single item in the Estimates was the subject of a paper which the appropriate Minister had in his hand so that he could answer any questions that might be asked.
I now wish to address a number of questions to whichever Minister is dealing with the estimates for the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. The commission is charged by the act which established it with ensuring the provision of uranium or atomic ^energy for the defence of the Commonwealth. “.Defence of the Commonwealth “ is a very wide term. It would cover, for instance, power for ship propulsion. Is the Atomic Energy Commission conducting any studies on the application of atomic power to marine engines? If it is not conducting research itself, does it act as a clearing house for information coming from abroad on this subject? There are now in existence an atomic powered ice-breaker in the possession of the Soviet Union; an atomic powered aircraft carrier, an atomic powered cruiser, and similarly powered destroyers and submarines in the possession of the United States; and an atomic powered liner is nearing completion. Atomic powered submarines are under construction in the United Kingdom.
As a form of speedy :ship propulsion, nuclear power is well established. Has the Atomic Energy Commission information for the Government concerning the economics of atomic .power as applied to ship propulsion compared with conventional means of ship propulsion? Has .it studied the problems of safety in connexion with atomic ;powered marine engines? J.s information coming to the commission, from the United Kingdom concerning the economics of nuclear power as applied to the generation of electricity and is the commission studying its probable application in various parts of Australia? How effectively is the commission -encouraging in any way the study of applications of nuclear physics and engineering problems in connexion with nuclear power in Australian universities and technical schools?
In the terms of the Atomic Energy .Act 1953-1958, the commission is charged with the responsibility - to arrange for the draining of scientific research workers and the establishment .and award ;of scientific research studentships and fellowships in matters associated with uranium or atomic energy.
Yet the number of students so assisted seems to be small. The seventh .annual report of the commission, £t page .36, >gives an account of the commission’s undergraduate scholarship scheme. When one remembers that in the news section of the Library we constantly !find grave warnings concerning the mass training of .engineers in the Soviet Union in the field of ‘nuclear physics and nuclear engineering, the report of the Atomic Energy Commission seems to be very modest. The report reads -
Although the aims of the Commission’s undergraduate scholarship scheme have been fulfilled and no further scholarships are being awarded, 15 students were still undergoing training during the year.
Fifteen seems to be a very small number. The report continues -
Forty A.A.E.C. post-graduate research studentships were current in Australian universities during the year. In addition the Commission awarded research contracts to universities to the value of approximately £30,000.
That does not seem to provide for the mass training of people for this new power. The act refers repeatedly in section 17 to “ matters associated with uranium or atomic energy “, but how far this applies to the engineering aspects of nuclear power is not clear.. The latest report of the Atomic Energy Commission - that for 1958-59, which was .the seventh report - speaks of a body .upon which the commission is represented. The section on page 35 simply speaks of the constitution of the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering, but not of -what is being done.
The .commission, judging by its report for 1958-59, seems to be concerned very much with what I might call primary production in connexion with nuclear power. Section I. deals with the search for uranium, surveys and maps, and ore treatment. Section II. deals with the search for uranium, surveys and the activities of mining companies. Section III. entitled “Raw Materials” speaks of the market for uranium, thorium and beryllium. :Section IV. comes to a first stage of what I might call the secondary aspects of .nuclear power. It is concerned very much to discuss nuclear power, but only if such a thermal reactor system is likely to compete with costs of the majority of new coal-burning stations .in Australia. The development .of this power seems to be conceived as a .hand-maiden of matters remote from nuclear power as applied to propulsion and the generation of electricity. The report states -
Most of the research activities of .the section arise from inquiries from outside organizations, and a number of projects were started in co-operation with other ‘bodies. These included tests with the (Electricity ‘Commission of New South Wales on the cooling pond of the Maitland power station; . . . an experimental assessment of the possibility of detecting clay deposits in brown coal seams, and cloud physics work in collaboration with the
C.S.I.R.O. Other work included- location of pipe blockage under: a concrete floor; determination of thorium in monazite concentrates; measurement of the. efficiency of a. sugar clarifier; and the use of radioactive markers in assessing furnace roof erosion.
So the report goes on. These are humble uses of isotopes, very important, but not the supreme application of nuclear power. The Atomic Energy Commission seems to have a very leisurely idea of the introduction of nuclear power stations, but seems not to take into account the possibility of Australia being cut off from oil supplies. Since the materials for nuclear power are produced on this continent, there is surely some national interest in the early establishment of nuclear power stations. This would assist in decentralization. The report envisages establishment of. nuclear power stations in South Australia by about. 1970, and goes on to say -
Between 1970 and. 1980 nuclear power should also become economic, in southern Queensland, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory .. . .
The report continues; -
With the development of more advanced forms of reactors such as fast and thermal breeders, nuclear power should be competitive in. the remaining States - New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.
That is surely an argument for the earlier development of fast and thermal breeders rather than the leisurely approach that seems to be embodied in the report. ls the Government really satisfied with such a slow rate of progress when here at hand is a weapon of decentralization? Is there nothing to be said for an Australian shipping service^ nuclear-powered and independent of imported fuels? I hope the Government has some vision of these matters. I ask the Government whether it has any plans. To-day, Governments must interest themselves in the training of scientists and engineers. The Government should have a keen interest in getting able students and engineering cadets into the engineering based on nuclear power and physicists into nuclear physics.
– I congratulate the; honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) on. a timely and thought-provoking speech on the development of nuclear power in Australia. I concur with Him, as would any other serious student of these matters, that the early development of nuclear power is a basic requisite to the development1 of Australia in all its aspects. I realize, of course, that we have many opponents of that idea, purely and simply on the basis that, we cannot afford the cost of introducing nuclear power into Australia. But I am one of those who- take the opposite view; we cannot afford not to take early steps to develop nuclear power despite, the very vast depositsof coal that we have in Australia’.
I turn now to certain other aspects of development in Australia. In one of my first speeches in this place, I joined with the honorable members for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) and Herbert (Mr. Murray) on this side and with the honorable members for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) and the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) on the opposite side, in directing, attention to the fact that if you follow the Tropic of Capricorn from the east coast of Australia to Western Australia, you. have rathe north of that line an area represented by only six members in. this Commonwealth Parliament. I said then that there was an urgent need for all forms of development in that area. I am. not familiar, personally with the Northern. Territory or the top part of Western. Australia,, but. I know at first hand most of my° own State of Queensland, if not all of it. I- believe we have certain things to do.
Let us take in, for example. At present we are producing in Australia- a little under two-thirds of our tin- requirements. It would appear that within three to four years, we will require- about 5;000 tons of tin for use in Australia. Queensland produces now about two-thirds of the present Australian, production. We must give every possible encouragement to investment, whether it be British or otherwise;, to develop tin production, because we could be cut off from tin supplies on the other side of the. world. This is. a matter of vital importance. I concur, with other speakers who referred to- iron ore. The time has come when we should lift the ban on. the export of.’ iron, ore, because- my- own personal, research- and, investigations: into the subject indicate that unless we lift the ban we will not encourage people- to* come here to search foi and test our actual supplies. My personal investigations lead me to believe, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that Australia has more iron ore now than she is ever likely to need for countless years to come.
I join with honorable members who have said that we must do something to develop oil production. An honorable member mentioned earlier that we were spending something like £135,000,000 a year on bringing oil to Australia. We are spending in concessions and subsidies about £3,000,000 a year to assist in the search for oil. That is good, but in my opinion it is not enough. Let us face one single fact. The total number of holes drilled in Australia in the search for oil is about 500, but in America something like 1,000 holes are drilled each year in the search for oil. The Government has given splendid encouragement to the search for oil in this country. At present between 32 and 36 companies are engaged in the search for oil in Australia. They are providing us with geographic and stratigraphic knowledge of our country and its future potential for oil production. But I should like to see something more done to encourage the search for oil here, which is a very expensive undertaking. No matter how much stratigraphic, geographic and seismographic knowledge we may have of this continent, the only way we find oil is to dig holes. In the light of the experience of oil searchers in the Sahara Desert it is obvious that we must go all-out in the search for oil in Australia. It may be that some funds will have to be withheld from some other projects, but in the long run, if oil is discovered here we will be able to expand our development in all the directions that have been mentioned by honorable members.
Let me turn now to the general development of the northern part of Australia. It is common knowledge that our north sadly lacks population. We will not get people to live in the north unless we can guarantee them homes and jobs. To do that we must develop as quickly as possible the vast mineral resources in the north. The development of big mining ventures leads to the establishment of big mining towns. A mining town means jobs and homes for people. That is how we can attract population all over the country.
The task confronting Australia is immense. The seven governments, includ ing the Commonwealth Government, must get together. They must stop the wrangling that we see each year at the Premiers’ Conference. The seven governments must adopt a concerted plan for the development of Australia’s resources. They must work together as a team rather than each government endeavouring to get as much as possible for itself. To borrow the phrase used by Thomas Jefferson, if the seven governments do not hang together it is obvious that economically or otherwise they will hang separately. Such a state of affairs would not be in the best interests of this country. The time has arrived, as I have said before, when members on both sides of this Parliament should also pull together.
This country has a terrific potential. Just take, for example, what can be done with water. The development of science in its various fields has been tremendous. I have heard a good deal of discussion about roads and transport generally. Everybody seems to be screaming for more and better roads in Australia. Are roads necessarily the best means of transport in this country? Are we as a parliament exploring all the other means of transport which are so rapidly appearing on the horizon to-day which will enable us to meet a tremendous part of our transport needs?
– What about the Hovercraft?
– Yes, indeed. I can assure honorable members that within five years the practical use of the Hovercraft will be an accomplished fact. In Queensland, by December of this year, a hoverscooter will be in operation. That is the way things are moving. We must explore every avenue that will assist our development. We must start planning. I think that the old idea of the States wanting to see development within their own borders to the exclusion of the rest of the Commonwealth must be forgotten. In this present decade we will see scientific development advance at a rate greater than ever before in the past 60 years or, indeed, in the whole history of scientific development. The present rate of development is fantastic, and if honorable members would only stop hurling abuse at each other and take the time to study what is happening in this country I feel sure that we could come up with a concerted plan for national development.
We must forget about politics and ideologies. The policy that we must embrace is a simple one: Give it a go, because unless we do we will not develop Australia.
.- Mr. Chairman, some statements have been made in this committee which I think should be corrected. First, I direct the attention of honorable members to a statement made by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren). I am sorry that he is not in the chamber at the moment. He said, when speaking about war service homes, that this Government was a high interest government. I understand that the interest rate on loans made available to ex-servicemen under the War Service Homes scheme is 33- per cent, per annum. If the honorable member thinks that this Government, in lending ex-servicemen £35,000,000 a year at 31 per cent., has acted harshly he must be living in the land of his own dreams.
Some honorable members opposite have said that the Government is not lending £35,000,000 a year to ex-servicemen. The honorable member for Reid should know that the Government does lend that amount of money each year to ex-servicemen to obtain homes. The honorable member should also ‘know that all payments that come back to the Government from the ex-servicemen must go into Consolidated Revenue. That is provided for under the Constitution. But, irrespective of where the money goes, £35,000,000 is lent each year to ex-servicemen. It is sheer balderdash for the honorable member to suggest that the Government is getting revenue, and revenue only, from the repayments made by ex-servicemen. I have yet to learn that the repayment of a loan constitutes the earning of revenue. The only part of the repayments that may be classified as revenue is that part that represents interest. We know that the revenue derived in that way is nominal only.
Let us consider why so many exservicemen are anxious to obtain a war service loan. I always advise them to obtain one if they can. Obviously, anybody who can obtain a loan at a low rate of interest in order to purchase a home should do so. According to my calculations, if a man is forced to pay interest at the rate of 9 per cent, for one year while awaiting a loan from the War Service Homes Division, and then pays interest at the rate of 3i per cent, for a further 39 years, the average rate of interest over the 40 years is 4 per cent. If he pays 14 per cent, for one year - I hope no one has to do that - the average interest rate over 40 years is approximately 4i per cent. Obviously, any one who is eligible to obtain a war service home will apply for it. The deal is so good. That is why there are always 20,000 outstanding applications. We must be realistic and not talk a lot of nonsense about matters such as this.
Another point I wish to raise relates to atomic energy. We have been given the impression in speeches in this place that all you have to do is to order an atomic plant and you can develop the north of Australia. According to my best information, the cost of treating bauxite must not exceed threetenths of a penny a unit. The cost at the Calder Hall installation in England at present is over Id. a unit. It is hoped that the new types of atomic plant that are being developed will be able to produce electricity for three-farthings a unit. I should like to know from the honorable members who advocate the installation of an atomic plant in Darwin who will subsidize the company that installs the plant so that it will be able to produce electricity at the economic figure of three-tenths of a penny a unit. Who will pay the difference between three-farthings and three-tenths of a penny?
According to the report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, it will be economic to install nuclear power stations in South Australia and in northern Queensland, and the first units will be commissioned about 1970. But the units that are likely to be available by 1970 in parts of Queensland will not be able to produce electricity at three-tenths of a penny a unit. The cost will be considerably higher than that. It is hoped that by 1980 it will be economic to operate nuclear power units in southern Queensland and in certain other areas. But the fact is that there is not an atomic plant in the world to-day which can produce electric energy at a cost less than three-farthings a unit. It would be uneconomic to install such a plant at this time. We must be realistic. It is possible to produce electricity not very far from Australia for less than three-tenths of a penny a unit. I pose this question to the committee: What company would contemplate paying three-farthings a unit for electric energy when it could get it by water power for less than three-tenths of a penny a unit? That is the problem that must be solved in relation to the use of bauxite at Weipa in Queensland. Even using coal, no ‘matter how efficient the installation may be - and including the latest mechanical means - .electricity cannot be produced for less than four-tenths of a penny a unit. That is why the use of coal is not an economic proposition in the treatment of bauxite.
I pass from these misconceptions which are held by various honorable members to deal briefly, in the short time that is available lo me, with the .great development that is taking place in Australia. .A great deal of credit .for this must be given to the Government. Wherever I go and wherever I look I see development of the kind which has been mentioned by my friend, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). I see development fey individual people who aTe prepared to risk their all in the hope that they will earn money and, at the same time, ensure the future of themselves and their families. Obviously, they are also working for the welfare of Australia.
T pay a ‘tribute to the pioneers of many years ago and to the pioneers of to-day. Australia now is entering the second phase of pioneering in the agricultural and grazing areas. Because the graziers are receiving a higher price for their beef than formerly, they are able to consider means of improving their! pastures and water supplies. One of the reasons why fewer cattle died in Queensland during the 1957 drought than usually die in droughts was that the Government had encouraged the graziers in the west to put down dams by allowing the .cost as a taxation deduction. Instead of cattle having to walk five or ten miles to water, they -were able ,to circle a considerable .number of dams. Previously, .they .pounded .the earth to dust around .a few isolated waterholes. The fact that .water was made .available on these properties without the grass having been disturbed meant that so much more grass than formerly was available close at hand to the dams. So a greater number of cattle remained alive during the drought.
Although people have said that Australia is short of water, there is still plenty of water available to be harnessed. A dam is now being constructed at a cost of £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 on a tributary of the Mary River which flows into a valley in the electorate of Wide Bay. When this dam is completed, the annual revenue from that valley will increase from £400,000 to £1,200,000. The valley will have been brought into full production by the provision of that one dam. It is estimated that that dam alone will reduce the water flow in time of flood by one-eighth, thereby lessening the impact of a flood ito that extent. There are a thousand and one streams in Queensland on which similar work could be done if the money were available.
I should have liked to speak about the importance of roads in Australia, particularly in the north. I should have liked to speak also about the future of the timber industry. There are 3,000,000 acres of Wallum country below the Tropic of Capricorn. It is estimated that slash pine which is being planted in some of that country, will return from £500 to £2,000 an acre within 50 years. That is a longterm proposition, and I have not the time to discuss it in detail.
In conclusion, let me say that there is plenty of scope in Australia for development, but we must never forget that we can afford to spend only a certain amount of our revenue in this way. Economists have stated that we should spent not more than one-quarter of our gross national product if the present inflationary trend is not to be accentuated. Therefore, much as I would like to see expended in the future much more money than we have spent in the past, we must face the facts and realize the wisdom of hastening slowly. If we do not do that, we shall ruin the future which we hope will be of great advantage to us all. It is essential, when we undertake development, ,not to over-spend or over-reach ourselves.
.- The debate on the bracket of items which are now before the committee has been of great importance. A number of outstanding speeches have been delivered this evening. At the outset, 1 pay a tribute to the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) for making a plea for the immediate development, not only of the Northern Territory but of the whole of the north of Australia.
I was encouraged and enthused by the speech of the honorable member for the Northern Territory, but I was utterly appalled by the speech of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser), who decried development in the north and said that too much money was being spent there. It is a tragic state of affairs that in a debate on this pitifully inadequate vote for development of the Northern Territory, a member of this Parliament should say that a scheme for such development is too ambitious and would cost too much. Obviously, the north cries out for immediate attention. The vision splendid of “ Australia unlimited “ - the cry of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in the last election campaign - is something that appeals to every Australian. Yet the honorable member for Wannon made a statement, which was echoed by other members on the Government side of the chamber, decrying development and saying that we are overstretching ourselves and spending too much money.
I hold in my hand an excellent publication issued by the Department of National Development, lt is a catalogue of the major developmental projects of Australia up to 30th June, 1960. As the honorable member for the Northern Territory rightly said, it is a catalogue of achievement by State governments, local governments, semigovernmental authorities and private ventures, but there is little in it commending the Commonwealth Government. The Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme was opposed by the majority of the members of the Government parties when they were in opposition, but now they claim full credit for it. Yet under the estimates which are before the committee at present the vote for the scheme is to be reduced. That highlights the need for a new, bold and imaginative plan to deal with the urgent needs of the development of Australia.
Of course, the outstanding needs are water conservation and transportation. The Commonwealth Government has no definite ideas on either of those matters. Ons can hardly expect the Government to have any ideas on national development when one remembers that the Minister who is charged with the responsibility of developing Australia is one of the dullest and most unimaginative Ministers in the present weary Government which has had charge of the affairs of Australia for the last eleven years. That Minister could find no crisis in the coal-mining industry when 7,000 men were losing their jobs. He has presided over the liquidation or sale of the people’s interest in industry after industry, including the Bell Bay aluminium plant, Commonwealth Engineering Limited, the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool, Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. Then there was the most infamous act of all the closure and destruction of the Glen Davis shale oil undertaking in order that we might be delivered, body and soul, into the hands of overseas petroleum interests.
I should like to see the development of Australia go forward in a most vigorous manner. I believe that what is required is the establishment of a north Australian development authority along the lines of the Snowy Mountains Authority. The first task of such an authority would be to investigate fully all the major projects which are necessary for the development of our mighty north. Such an authority should be clothed, under the Defence Act, with the necessary power to proceed with the urgent matters of transportation, water conservation, and the production of power by atomic energy and other means in the Northern Territory. The proposal for the use of atomic energy in the Northern Territory was decried in this chamber this evening when it was made by the honorable member who represents that Territory. With ample uranium available in the Northern Territory, and the great opportunity for the development there of our aluminium, silver-lead and other mining industries, I can see no reason why the honorable member’s proposal should not be implemented as an important step in settling the north of Australia.
If a north Australian development authority were established, it could investigate proposals such as the Bradfield scheme, the great boomerang scheme which was written of so tellingly by Ion Idriess. Under that scheme the waters from the eastern watershed would be diverted over the range to the arid west. The Burdekin River, for instance, is a logical choice for such a diversion scheme. Flowing through the north of Australia into the Gulf of Carpentaria there are the Roper River, the Victoria River, the Adelaide River and many others. Those great streams, if diverted, would carry great volumes of water from the north into the heart of Australia and make dry and unproductive land’s flower and flourish, as would the use of the Murray River in the way suggested by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). In order to do something along the lines I have suggested, a sum of money in the vicinity of, perhaps, £100,000,000 would be required over a period of ten years. But for the sake of the development of Australia and in order to populate the empty north, what is £100,000,000 in comparison with the votes that have been made by this Government for undertakings from which we have received very little benefit indeed? The development of Australia cries out for attention.
It is true that valuable work has been done. I should like to join with other members who have paid a tribute to the various organizations that have played their part. I have in mind, for instance, public spirited men associated with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, including the late Sir Ian Clunies-Ross, and Mr. Christian, who the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) has told us addressed a committee of members of the Government parties for about an hour. Mr. Christian has rendered outstanding service in making soil surveys in the north of Australia. AH the people who are deeply interested in these matters should be encouraged to keep on with the work.
National development extends beyond even the broad horizon of controlling great rivers by diverting their waters over the ranges from north to south, or from east to west. It also involves roads and transportation generally, a discussion of which would take me at least a full half an hour. I suggest that Australian road, rail, air and water transport should be integrated in a national, Australia-wide system, but perhaps it is too much to expect such a system these days, when the tendency seems to be more in the opposite direction.
National development must become a reality and not just a slogan and a front for the present Government. A north Australian development authority should be established, and in thinking of the work that such an authority could do we must think of the problems which will arise and will require Government attention. The position calls for a most vigorous Australian approach. What the Government is pleased to call buoyancy and expansion might be regarded by many people as the plunder of the north. There has been no genuine development of the north. Uranium, silverlead and copper are merely gouged from the ground and sent out of Australia to be processed in another part of the world. I should like to see industries established to utilize those raw materials. The honorable member who is interjecting should know that many of these mining ventures are being developed by overseas interests for overseas interests, not for the purpose of bringing any permanent benefit to north Australia, nor for the purpose of helping Australia in any substantial way at all. The example we have in the Snowy Mountains Authority is a good one, but it is disappointing to note that expenditure on that project is to be cut back by £9,750,000 this year. Excuses have been given for this, but in my opinion they are not by any means satisfactory.
I hope that the great problem of transportation will be tackled realistically. This will entail, of course, getting on with the job of building the standard gauge railway from Broken Hill through to Port Pirie in South Australia, and we ought to proceed with the construction of other standard gauge links to give to Australia that completeness to which I have referred.
It has to be remembered that national development comes right back into the homes in the areas that are populated and settled at the present time. How can there be any real development when authorities requiring money to-day are unable to obtain it because finance companies are on the market, offering investors from 8 per cent. to 10 per cent. for their money? Under such circumstances, it is no wonder that semi-government, local government and State authorities are finding it increasingly difficult to borrow money for essential works. Quite recently the Victorian gas and fuel loan failed by 35 per cent., although it was put on the market by an organization which is developing Australia in a really practical way.
In many respects, what is happening in Victoria in this field is a very fine example to the rest of Australia of how development should take place. 1 had the privilege of visiting Yallourn and Morwell with members of the Parliamentary Labour Party’s mining committee. We were interested to see how a gas industry had been established at Morwell and how electricity was being generated at Yallourn.
The Brisbane City Council’s £800,000 loan was under-subscribed by £280,000, whilst the underwriters of the Victorian State Electricity Commission’s loan of £2,100,000 had to find £261,000. The Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Alderman Groom, was up in arms about the failure of the Brisbane City Council’s loan. He is reported in the Brisbane “Courier-Mail” of 13th August last as having said -
There was something completely rotten about the financial arrangement under which the State and Federal Governments operated.
Until the arrangement is completely overhauled, Queensland semi-government and local government authorities can expect only a rotten deal.
They are the words of a man who is not a member of the Labour Party. They are the words of a man who is deeply interested in the development of the vast Brisbane city area. The people of Brisbane, like the people of any other part of Australia, are entitled to expect the amenities and services requisite for the development of their city and the orderly development of Australia.
Much more could be said about this Government’s failure to protect the interests of the people of Australia. For instance, there is its failure to provide housing.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I listened with great interest to the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) and, except for one or two small points, I agreed entirely with what he said. In my opinion, he made a very useful contribution to the debate. I look forward with great interest to reading his speech in “ Hansard “. It will make very interesting reading because he made a number of points which could not possibly be disputed. Let me mention another excellent speech made to-night. I refer to that delivered by the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate). There have been others.
It has been one of the most stimulating experiences I have had in the short time I have been a member of this Parliament to hear honorable members on both sides stressing the need for the development of northern Australia. They have stressed that need in a completely non-parochial manner. They have taken an interest in issues affecting places hundreds of miles, and in some cases probably 2,000 miles, away from their own electorates. They have taken the broad view of what is needed for the development of Australia. That has been most stimulating. We have so much parochialism in this chamber that it is a healthy sign when people such as the honorable member for Macquarie speak with considered thought on this problem.
The honorable member for Macquarie referred to the need for a north Australian development authority. I agree wholeheartedly with him. We do need something of that nature to decide the order of priorities in the development of northern Australia. I emphasize that when I speak of northern Australia, I refer to the whole of north Australia. In Western Australia and Queensland, the State governments are undertaking what they consider to be necessary for the development of then States. In the Northern Territory, the Administration is going ahead with what it considers is right for the Territory. But, unfortunately, we do not shape the plans of those three authorities into a pattern suitable for the development of the whole of north Australia and commensurate with the limited physical and financial resources available to us. I think, therefore, that we should have an authority- perhaps only small - to collect and collate the information which has been put in files over very many years in connexion with a great num- ber of projects and to decide what is of importance for the development of north Australia. It should, be given some power and some finance to enable it to go ahead with particular projects.
Let me give one example of how such an authority would be of benefit. Only recently the Clausen shipping line, a Danish line, wished to come into the north with shallow draft vessels to transport cattle from one point or another across the north of Australia. That company experienced the greatest possible difficulty in getting a set of yards built on a river bank, and in getting even the minimum requirements for the loading of cattle. It almost had to build the yards itself. There was nobody to say, “ We will help you with this. This is a good idea. We will encourage you. If it takes £1,500 or £2,000 to build a set of yards, we will build them for you so that you can get going with the transportation of cattle that would not be able to walk out in normal circumstances.” That is only a small example, but it shows one of the reasons why I believe that we need an authority which can say, “This proposed development is right for the whole of north Australia. Let us get on with it.”
We hear about a tremendous number of schemes from members on both sides of the chamber. All honorable members have shown a healthy desire to get something done. The Bradfield scheme and others have been mentioned. It has been suggested that we should have in north Australia a scheme similar to the Snowy Mountains scheme. Surely all this points to the fact that we should have some authority to carry out the required research and to decide upon priorities - to decide what our requirements really are and carry out the work. We have not available to us the financial resources to go in there and spend £10,000,000 here and £10,000,000 there, as we would like to do.
One of the most important things that we need in northern Australia is more research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Again, it is easy for some one in this place to say that we should do this and that, but I earnestly suggest to the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron),, who is Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and
Industrial Research Organization, that we need much more research by the organization on plants and animals. I understand that the organization will be taking on more than 100 new research workers in the near future and that nearly all of them will be engaged on projects in the southern parts of Australia. We in northern Australia are starved for research and extension work. Many graziers and pastoralists are looking for guidance, but they cannot get it and cannot proceed with their plans.
We have a great need for much more research in animal industry throughout the north. The problem of nutrition is probably the greatest animal industry problem that we have in northern Australia. For many years to come, the principal land usage will be for the raising and fattening of beef cattle. At present, we see the great tragedy every year of great losses of stock and heavy loss of weight in stock that survive. These tragic losses are not properly taken into account because everybody in .the north has come to accept the existence of the nutritional problems caused by the cycle of wet seasons and dry seasons. The tremendous losses due to this cause every year seriously affect the development of the beef cattle industry.
Recently. Mr. Chairman, I have undertaken a survey of these losses in an area not far from my own electorate. Actually this region falls within the electorate of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) and extends into the electorate of the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton). This area, which comprises the Burdekin River watershed, is not very large. Indeed, it is only a very small part of Australia. I think it is worth while to relate to the committee some of the figures that I obtained in my survey of the losses incurred in this area every year as a result of lack of nutrition for stock. I ask the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to take note of these figures, because the significance of the losses is not properly recognized. We hear of losses of cattle in drought years in various parts of Australia from time to time, but we still do not appreciate the full significance of these losses, and so I shall tell the committee of the losses which occur every year in this one small part of Australia - losses which we have grown to accept and the tragedy of which we do not fully acknowledge.
Let us consider a few examples of these losses sustained on properties in the Burdekin River watershed - an area which, generally speaking, is considered to be fairly good, carrying country. It carries an average of eighteen beasts to the square mile, and that is fairly good for this kind of inland spear-grass country. One property, with an area of 258 square miles and average herd numbers of a little more than 4,000 beasts, brands an average of 1,015 calves every year and averages sales of 473 head. On another property of 280 square miles, the herd numbers average 8,000’ beasts, the brands of calves average 2,000 and sales average 1,300. Another property which has an area of 248 square miles carries a herd averaging about 3,300, brands an average of 823 calves and sells on the average 476 beasts a year. The average sales of a number of these properties which I have surveyed average less than 60 per cent, of the average brandings of calves. This is a. tragedy of the worst order.
Allowing for what may be considered normal losses on properties in that district, usually about 10 per cent, a year, we see that at least 30 per cent, and perhaps close to 40 per cent, of the numbers branded each year die. In one area of 40,000 square miles which I surveyed fairly closely, annual losses of cattle are about 40,000 a year. And this happens every year because nutrition is lacking. If we can improve nutrition by introducing a suitable legume, thereby solving this problem, we shall really make a worth-while contribution to the development of the north. I point out that this problem does not only exist in the Burdekin River watershed. It occurs right across northern Australia. If we want to help the beef cattle industry and build up the wealth of the north generally, here is one way in which we can get on with the job. The figures that I have just given to the committee were carefully compiled and they are completely correct, Sir.
On a number of occasions, I have pointed out in this chamber the value of establishing in northern Australia a. stable fattening area for the beef cattle industry. I am quite prepared to keep on plugging this theme, because unless we have a stable fattening: area we shall never have stability in the beef cattle industry. Most of our beef cattle are bred, in northern Australia and. we have very great possibilities of building up the numbers of our breeding, herds. But there is not much point in enlarging the breeding herds unless, we have suitable fattening areas. The Queensland Government is trying to do a good job, and, I believe, is doing it, by spending £3,000,000 on roads in the Channel country, and it has recently announced that it will spend £6,000,000 on roads in northern Queensland, but the purpose of these efforts will be defeated if these roads serve only to take cattle to the existing, fattening areas which cannot be relied upon. I believe that we must investigate the potential of the wet tropical coast and develop fattening areas there in conjunction with the construction of new roads in order that we may solve this problem.
For the benefit of any one who doubts whether this would be an ideal objective, let me mention that two blocks of land in the Tully area, on the wet tropical coast, were to be balloted for to-day. Some people wondered whether any interest would be taken in these blocks for settlement and development for the fattening of cattle. This afternoon, I was informed by telegram that there were 239 applicants for one block. The local population is not very large, and it is extraordinary that these two blocks, which are similar in area and value, attracted about 240 applicants apiece. That surely indicates the demand for this kind of land and the possibilities it offers for development.
Since we first began to turn our attention to this problem, land on the wet tropical coast has become more valuable. However, there are probably 300,000 or 400,000 acres of Crown land which would be ideal for fattening cattle and which is not yet being developed for this purpose. Much of it is land which can fatten a beast to the acre without any trouble. Indeed, a good deal of it can do even better than that, and the estimate that it will fatten a beast to the acre is only a conservative one. If we developed that land for the fattening of cattle we should be making the kind of contribution that we need to make if we are to solve not only the problem of the beef cattle industry as a whole but also the tremendous problem of seasonal unemployment in Queensland, with the consequent tying up of capital in meat works which operate for less than 40 per cent, of the year, hundreds of men being out of work for a great part of each year. That is the normal pattern in provincial cities like Townsville, where the workers lose £1,250,000 or £1,500,000 a year in wages, the Commonwealth Government having to pay out year by year many thousands of pounds for unemployment relief.
This situation is too fantastic for words. We should get into action and really come to grips with the problem. We should do much more about it than we are doing. We cannot afford these losses every year. I ask the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, again, to think very seriously about the problems of research in the north. The organization has purchased land at Townsville for the establishment of a research station. We urgently need a research station there and the Cunningham laboratory should be expanded so that field experiments may be undertaken in the wet tropics, the dry tropics and the hinterland behind. These things are needed if we are to solve the dreadful problem of the losses that I have mentioned and if we wish to put the beef cattle industry back on a stable basis.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, I congratulate the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) on his contribution to the debate this evening. It is obvious that Government supporters, like Opposition members, are feeling frustrated by the continually unsympathetic attitude of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). At this stage, I do not propose to deal with the question referred to by the honorable member for Herbert. I have a problem in my electorate as the result of this Government’s attitude towards national development and the need to assist the States to develop their various industries as well as the facilities to enable the products of those industries to be exported. However, as I referred to this matter in my contribution to the Budget debate I do not propose to go into the details of it again. As I have said, I congratulate the honorable member for Herbert for having the courage to attack the Minister for National
Development for failing to carry out his responsibilities.
I wish to deaf with a matter which affects a human individual. Judging from the replies I have had from the Minister to my representations on this matter there are many other people who are finding themselves in the difficulty in which this man finds himself. This case concerns the allocation of war service loans and the unsympathetic attitude of the Minister for National Development. I refer, first, to the case of an ex-serviceman who, having obtained a war service loan, built his home and reared a family. Unfortunately, he then ran into trouble, because his wife developed a cancer of the breast. The breast had to be amputated and part of an arm to which the cancer had spread was removed. The cancer has spread so far that at present this lady is having cobalt-ray treatment monthly. The leading surgeon in Newcastle is prepared to submit documentary evidence that this woman must be taken away from where she is living.
This couple have a 15-square home, but their family have now grown up and married and are living in their own homes. So they want to get out of this house into a smaller one. Their present home is close to industry and the wife cannot get adequate rest because of great transport trucks moving past the house day and night. She has to be drugged in order to sleep. Yet when this man applied to the War Service Homes Division for a second loan - a transfer of his present loan - the application was refused. He received, and I received on his behalf, the unsympathetic reply from the Minister of National Development that if the division agreed to the request it would have to agree to many other similar requests from ex-servicemen who find themselves in much the same position.
I feel that the Minister should closely examine this question of second allocations in cases where people find themselves in difficulties as a result of illness. After all, the man’s wife did not deliberately contract cancer and undergo an amputation because her husband wanted to have his war service loan transferred. This was something that anybody is liable to have as a result of causes which are yet unknown. I appeal to the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald
Cameron), who is at the table, to ask the Minister for National Development to review sympathetically the Government’s policy of refusing to grant second loans to ex-servicemen who are faced with a problem similar to the one to which I have referred. This man’s wife, stricken by this dreaded disease, finds that she is almost doomed because of the circumstances under which she is living. She cannot get adequate rest at home because of the proximity of industry and1 the trucks which pass the house 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a result of atmospheric pollution created by nearby industry it is completely beyond the means of this couple to maintain healthy living conditions in their home.
The man is only an ordinary worker, not a businessman with a huge income. He has only an ordinary income and cannot, at this stage of his life, afford to purchase another home. I feel that the circumstances warrant a review of the Government’s policy so that ex-servicemen who are eligible for loans may be permitted to transfer their existing loans. In this case, no new money is required. The man wants only to sell the home in which he is living and apply the sale price plus the unexpended portion of his loan to the purchase of a new home. I feel that that is a fair and reasonable request for any exserviceman who finds himself in this position to make.
In another case now before me, the circumstances are not the result of illness but, possibly, the result of excellent health. A man who obtained a war service loan in 1954-55 had three children at that time. He bought a two-bedroom home which he considered would be adequate to meet the needs of his family. To-day he has eight children, and his wife is expecting another one in January. He has to house that family in a two-bedroom home. Listen to what the Government has to say about that! In a letter to me the Deputy Director of War Service Homes stated -
I am now in receipt of advice under date 30th August, 1960, wherein it is pointed out that the circumstances outlined do not in themselves constitute grounds of grave emergency, and it is only in cases where such grounds exist that favorable consideration to second assistance is given. It has also been pointed out that an exception to the policy in the case under reference could not be made without extending similar exceptional treatment to many other such requests for a second loan.
The Minister apparently considers that a two-bedroom home is quite adequate to accommodate a man, his wife and eight children. There will be nine children, all going well, in January, 1961. - 1 do not know whether the Minister expects the family to live in triple-decker beds. I do not know under what conditions the Minister expects this family to live. At the moment, part of the family is living on the front verandah, part in their lounge room and, at night, even in the kitchen.
The Government has claimed to have made record allocations of war service loans to ex-servicemen. If one examines facts presented in the debate on this subject last year by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) and other Opposition speakers, it will be seen that the Government is not making record sums available for war service homes. It is merely manoeuvring and juggling figures in order to give that impression. Upon examining the record it will be found that last year sufficient money was made available for only 14,200 homes. Yet, in 1950-51, enough money was made available for 15,579 homes. Where is the record allocation to which the Minister referred in the two letters that I have?
As I said earlier, the Government is engaging in a complete falsification of the facts. It has distorted and juggled facts and figures in order to create a wrong impression. The Government might be allocating more money for war service homes, but it is ignoring the reduced purchasing power of that money, brought about by the maladministration of the Government, which came to office on a pledge to put value back into the pound. Honorable members opposite do not like references to putting value back into the pound. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) - I nearly called him “ Pig Iron Bob “ - went to the electors in 1949 with this great pledge to put value back into the pound. Yet to-day we find that the increased allocation for war service homes does not build as many homes as the allocation built in 1950-51 and later years.
First, the Government distorts the position with regard to its allocation of finance.
Secondly, the Minister for National Development, a cold individual, is unsympathetic to cases of genuine need. In 1957, when thousands of miners had been displaced from the coal industry as a result of mechanization, he had the audacity to stand up at a civic function in Newcastle and say, “There is no crisis in the coal industry to-day. They are only producing more coal with less labour.” That was very good from the coalowners’ point of view. They were producing more coal with less expenditure in the form of wages and getting greater profit from the investment that they had made in the industry. That was quite all right. That statement indicates the cold-hearted approach of this Minister to a national problem which needs a sympathetic approach. It is concerned with men who have served this country and who have entered into an agreement with the war service homes authorities to provide homes for their wives and families. Yet, when something happens to one of those men, the Minister states that if he agrees to my request he would have to agree also to many similar requests. It is obvious, therefore, that other honorable members have made similar representations to the Minister for assistance to be given to other ex-servicemen who have found themselves in circumstances like those of the exservicemen to whom I have referred.
We hear a great deal about the need to increase the population of this country. I understand that it costs about £2,000 to bring a migrant to Australia, to establish him in the community and to provide for his assimilation. Yet, an Australian who has provided the country with nine good Australians - natural-born Australians - is not sympathetically treated. The Minister is not prepared to review his case or to examine the circumstances with a view to making available additional finance so that that man may transfer from has twobedroom home to a four-bedroom home. It may be said that the act provides that war service homes may be extended. The person of whom I am speaking lives in a house situated on a block of land with a 33-ft. frontage and a depth of 80 feet. From the back of the house to the back fence, the distance is only 13 feet. The local government regulations provide that buildings must be 3 ft. 9in. away from the rear fence. That means that he could build a room 9ft. 3 in. by about 26 feet, which is approximately the width of the house. But if he did that, he would have no yard for his children to play in. This man wants to buy a four-bedroom house on a block with a 66-ft. frontage and a depth of 105 feet, but because the granting of permission to him to do so would create a precedent, he is not able to do that. The Government does not believe in creating precedents in such cases or in giving assistance to exservicemen in those circumstances.
I appeal to the Minister for Health (Di. Donald Cameron), who is at the table, to try to persuade the Government to reconsider its hard-hearted attitude to the granting of second loans by the War Service Homes Division. Of course, the Minister for National Development has not pointed out that a person who seeks a first loan to buy out somebody who wants to sell a home may have his application approved. In my view, it is more important that the Government should review its approach to the problem of ex-servicemen in necessitous circumstances such as those I have mentioned. Otherwise, it should say, “ We have a hard and fast rule and it is not going to be changed. We are not going to grant second loans, even though the circumstances warrant them.” I feel that the Minister, because of his unsympathetic attitude, is a most unsuitable person to deal with such matters, particularly in view of his utterances about the crisis in the coal industry. The Government would be well advised to review the position and make assistance available to those who need it.
.- I do not intend to detain the committee for more than a few minutes, but I want to answer a few questions that have been raised tonight, especially those raised by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley”) who, I thought, had a note of asperity in his voice, as though he did not expect any one to do so. He asked whether the Australian Atomic Energy Commission had studied the application of atomic power to ship propulsion. The fact is that the commission is doing so, in conjunction with the study of small power reactors generally. The honorable member also asked about undergraduate scholarships. I want to tell him that both they and postgraduate studentships will be continued in 1960-61, as will be research contracts in various universities in Australia. His third question, about the current research programme of the Atomic Energy Commission, is answered by telling him that it is proposed to complete it with the drawing of a specification for a reactor suitable to Australian conditions and capable of producing power at an economic cost.
There are only one or two other things I want to say. The first is that of course we all agree on the importance of developing the north of Australia. I think that no division of opinion exists on that score, but it really is important to put this matter into perspective. Some honorable gentlemen have spoken as though nothing were being done at all, whereas in fact a great deal is being done. To begin with, as honorable gentlemen will know, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is conducting research on the Ord River, at Katherine, at Alice Springs - which I suppose is in the centre rather than in the north, but it comes within the general ambit of this debate - and in other places. Last year, the expenditure of the C.S.I.R.O. was £9,500,000. which is not inconsiderable. Also, honorable gentlemen must not overlook the fact that in the north-west of Australia, under the Western Australia northern development grant the Commonwealth Government is finding £5,000,000 from 1st July, 1958, for development north of the twentieth parallel. If it were not for this, the scheme of development which is now taking place on the Ord River, and with which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) is familiar, because I know he visited there recently and was hospitably received, I understand, would not be taking place at all. That is a development scheme of a considerable magnitude, though it is only in its early stages.
– That is the point we are making - that it is only where the Commonwealth interests itself that such development takes place.
Commonwealth does interest itself, and if the honorable gentleman will let me go on
I shall point out a few things to illustrate the fact that the Commonwealth is interesting itself in this subject.
If I may turn to the other side of the continent, honorable gentlemen must not forget the very large degree of assistance that the Commonwealth is giving to the Mount Isa project. I could refer to the encouragement of meat production, in respect of which the Commonwealth found a sum of more than £2,000,000 for the Governments of Queensland and Western Australia. So that, while there are other things of a general nature that could be said - and I propose to say one or two of them - those are specific instances of the Commonwealth interesting itself in the development of north Australia.
It should not be overlooked that the Commonwealth last year made a new Commonwealth aid roads arrangement with the States under which, within five years, £250,000,000 will be provided to the States for roads. The State of Queensland alone will (receive steadily rising amounts of revenue, much of which, if it wishes to do so, can be devoted to the development of north Australia. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray), in a very interesting and very good speech, referred to the Channel country. If there is any development of roads in the Channel country, let me point out, Sir, that it will be done with Commonwealth money. I also point out to the committee that the Commonwealth last year made a new arrangement with the States, the result of which was to increase the allocations to the States by £23,000,000 on previous reimbursements, and also made an arrangement which ensures that this amount will rise annually. May I remind the committee that the Premiers of all the States declared this to be an excellent arrangement, and the Premier who led the applause was the Premier of Queensland. So that nobody need imagine that the Commonwealth is guilty of abnegating its responsibilities with regard to the north of Australia. It is not true to say that the north is being neglected and any one who goes there regularly, as I do, cannot fail to be impressed by the air of enthusiasm that exists and the steady progress being made there, and nowhere more than in the Northern Territory, under the very able guidance of my colleague, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck). I want to remind the committee that the sums of money to which I have been referring are very considerable and have to come from trie resources of 10,000,000 people. Those resources are already heavily committed to all sorts of absolutely necessary projects all over Australia. I will finish by saying two things. First, do not let us imagine - and none of us really does - that the north of Australia is in fact being neglected. Secondly, do not let us talk in an unrealistic and airy fashion about starting projects such as the Snowy Mountains scheme up there, and spending enormous sums of money on them. As I have said, all the money has to come out of the financial resources of 10,000,000 people, and that means far less than 10,000,000 taxpayers.
– I wish to explain a matter of a personal nature arising from a speech delivered by the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess), twenty-four hours and ten minutes ago. The honorable gentleman, during the debate on the estimates for the Repatriation Department, said -
I believe that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) did consult one or two representatives of the T.P.I, ex-servicemen in Victoria about these matters. They asked me whether he spoke and I said that to the best of my knowledge, he had not spoken on this matter. They were very surprised.
The honorable member was referring to the proposal that the wives of T.P.I, pensioners should have made available to them the same medical treatment which was made available for the widows of T.P.I, pensioners; in other words, that such wives should be given once again the opportunity which they had for twelve days, in October, 1955, to secure the benefits of the pensioner medical scheme.
It is true that the representatives of the T.P.I, association saw me on this matter. As the result of the case they put to me I drafted an amendment to the Repatriation Bill, which was before the House, and the amendment was moved by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) who had the conduct of that bill on behalf of the Opposition. The Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron), I think, representing the Minister for Repatriation in this House spoke next. Then the honorable members for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and Wills (Mr. Bryant), spoke and the vote was taken.
It will be noticed that three members of the Opposition - two in succession - spoke on that matter.
When the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill was before the House the same position arose. I again drafted an amendment and the honorable member for Parkes, who had the conduct of that bill on behalf of the Opposition, moved it. I spoke on the amendment then and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) concluded the debate. Once again a vote was taken. I do not think that the representatives of the T.P.I. association would have been in any doubt as to what happened at the time the honorable member for La Trobe spoke, because I had sent them the extracts from “ Hansard “ dealing with the amendments which the Opposition had moved to the two relevant bills. I feel that honorable members are entitled to know what part I did play in promoting those amendments. Incidentally, the honorable member for La Trobe voted against both of them.
– When the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) discussed this matter with me I felt that I could agree with the personal explanation, although not with the allegation of misrepresentation. However, his concluding remarks have put me in a difficult position, which he agreed not to do. My explanation, Sir, is-
– Order! This cannot be allowed to develop into a debate.
– I will make my personal explanation regarding the concluding remarks about my vote on the two amendments. I did not want to raise this question, but I point out that, as the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) showed, the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bass to the Repatriation Bill would not have achieved its purpose.
Proposed votes agreed to.
- Mr. Speaker, I desire to make a very short personal explanation, at the request of the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Chresby). On 11th May, some comment was made in this House, as is reported in “Hansard” at pages 1631 and 1632, concerning a book called “Chinese Journey “, with which I was associated. In the discussion that ensued I said that the honorable member for Griffith who had been in China with me would corroborate what I had said. 1 know that the honorable member’s electors, equally with mine, would not like to think I had taken him to China. In fact, I would not survive if my electors thought I had done so. Therefore, I apologize to the honorable member for Griffith for that, because it was the honorable member for Shortland, whose name is Griffiths, who was with me in China.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Dr. Donald Cameron) read a first time.
Motion (by Dr. Donald Cameron) pro posed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I will make my remarks short, Mr. Speaker, because I know that honorable members are tired. I have tried to get the call on three nights, but I have been gagged on two occasions. Last week I had something to say about my visit overseas. The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) had a dossier prepared for use on my return to Australia. One would think that I was Schmidt the Spy, having regard to the way in which he rolled out the contents of that dossier. I think that on that occasion we got a good preview of what would happen under the security provisions of the Crimes Bill that the Government is trying to put through the Parliament.
I went overseas, as I have said. I am very happy about the trip. Just to put honorable gentlemen opposite in the picture, let me say that I went overseas with the full authority of my party. Innuendos were made by the honorable member for Chisholm that the conference in question was a Communist-front organization, but I know that it has had the full support of the Australian Labour Party since its inception. I ask honorable members opposite to read the decisions of the last federal conference of the Labour Party. If they do so, they will find that that conference fully endorsed the decision to send a delegate to the last peace conference. I went to the peace conference as a private individual, not as a representative of the Labour Party, but the party gave me authority to go.
I want to make the position a little more clear in order to enlighten the minds of honorable gentlemen opposite. This conference was fully supported by many wonderful people throughout the world who have made great and valuable contributions to the cause of world peace. Messages supporting the conference came from such people as the Right Honorable Noel Baker, M.P., Earl Bertrand Russell, Lord Boyd Orr and Mrs. Pandit Nehru. We know what Mr. Nehru did to the Prime Minister of Australia in the United Nations a few hours ago. I understand that he dealt with him so severely that the right honorable gentleman is still on the floor.
– Are you pleased about that?
– Let me say in answer to the honorable member for Herbert that 1 am very pleased about it. I believe that Mr. Nehru is one of the great leaders in the struggle for world peace. He has kept his country apart from others and has steered his own course. Our Prime Minister went overseas to act as a rubber stamp for United States policy, but Mr. Nehru dealt with him very efficiently and very effectively, as even our own radio commentators have admitted.
The conference was supported, not only by the people that I have mentioned, but, amongst others, by Dr. Albert Schweitzer and many other leading scientists and people interested in world peace. It is quite true that I was the chairman at the opening session of the conference. So that honorable members may know what I said then, I ask for permission to incorporate it* “ Hansard “ a copy of the very short speech that I made.
Is leave granted?
Government supporters. - No.
– Objection being taken, leave is not granted.
– That is an example of the freedom that is supposed to exist in this country. The other night the honorable member for Chisholm came out with smears and innuendoes, but when I seek to place on record what I said to the Japanese people, I am refused the right to do so.
In the few minutes that are left to me, let me explain why I went to this conference. During the last war, I was a prisoner of war in Japan. Quite frankly, for the first two-and-a-half years of my captivity I hated the guts of the Japanese and, if I could have done so, I would have obliterated them from the face of the earth. But during the last twelve months that I spent in Japan I did not have any hate for them. I was sorry for them. When the end of the war came, I was sharing with my fellow Japanese the few Red Cross parcels that I received, because I found that it was not the Japanese people that I hated and loathed. It was the system that was exploiting them.
The Japanese suffered defeat and when peace came they said that they would never re-arm again. However, the governments of the world that believe in power politics are re-arming Japan. The Japanese militarists are being re-armed, so much so that I went there to assist those of the Japanese people who are fighting against the re-armament of their country. I shall continue to assist them. I want to make it quite clear whereI stand on this issue. I am against a re-armed Japan. I believe that Australia has a great deal to fear from a re-armed Japan but nothing to fear from a peaceful Japan. If honorable members opposite want Japan to be rearmed, they must take the consequences of that.
– What about China?
– I am talking about Japan at present. During the last war the Japanese militarists did brutal things to Australian soldiers. Some honorable gentlemen opposite were themselves prisoners of the Japanese. Outside of this House, I respect them. I have a soft spot even for the honorable member for Chisholm. He is sick, and I am sorry that he acts in the way that he sometimes does, but I have a soft spot for him personally, because I. know that in the past he has done something worth while.. The honor able member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) gets off the beam at times, but I have a soft spot for him too.
Honorable members opposite can make smears and innuendoes against me when I speak on this issue, but that will not affect my views. I am opposed to war. I do not fear anything that they say. Honorable gentlemen opposite have only a negative policy. They say, “We must re-arm Japan against communism “. They should go to Japan to see the conditions of the workers there. Many people in that country are still working for 60 and 70 hours a week. Their conditions are grim and difficult. There are no positive proposals by the Japanese Government to advance their welfare. There are no proposals for the re-distribution of wealth. The Japanese people are being exploited by the elements that exploited them before the war. The junta that was in control before the war is in control again. We know that the United States-Japanese defence treaty provoked great demonstrations by the Japanese workers, but honorable members on the Government side said that those demonstrations were Communist inspired. Let me quote whatwas said by one of the war comrades of the honorable member for Chisholm and other Government members. I refer to General Gordon Bennett. I shall quote from an. article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 30th June, 1960.
– Order!’ The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I was brought up in amateur sporting circles where I was taught that you do not hit a man when he is punch drunk. I have nothing more to say.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.50 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: - -1. There are approximately 3,000 items and sub-items in the Schedule to the Customs Tariff.
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
What quantity, in square feet, of plywood was imported from (a) Japan and (b) all other sources during each month from January to August of this year?
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
(Quantity in square feet.)
y asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. The numbers involved are relatively small, and detailed statistics are not available. The early period, the first year or so, is when migrants are most likely to experience difficulty in settling in a new country. Our experience here is shared by Canada and other countries; about 3 per cent, of non-British migrants and 6 per cent, of British migrants return home during this time. According to surveys made in the United Kingdom, the majority of these want to return to Australia immediately.
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
How many New Guinea natives have completed their apprenticeship training and passed their final trade examinations during the last ten years, and how many of these are in receipt of rates of pay and conditions of employment similar to those applicable to European tradesmen?
– The answers to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The apprenticeship scheme was started in 1955. Twenty-eight Papua and New Guinea natives have completed their indentures. The trade standard required under this scheme is much lower than that required of European tradesmen for trade certificates in Australia. Those apprentices who are admitted to the Auxiliary Division of the Public Service are paid on a salary scale ranging from £435 to £680 per annum. The minimum in private industry is £210 a year plus accommodation, food, clothing and other issues.
d asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
What was the cost involved, showing expenditure under its various headings, in effecting the changes in the Commonwealth Bank structure arising out of the banking legislation passed by the Parliament in 1959?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The cost of giving effect to the 1959 banking legislation cannot be calculated with exactness because of the difficulty of distinguishing between costs arising from the changes in the Commonwealth Bank structure and costs which would have arisen in the ordinary course if the legislation had not been passed (e.g. some expenditure on new premises and expansion of staff). The Reserve Bank and the Commonwealth Banking Corporation have, however, estimated that the identifiable costs of effecting the changes in the Commonwealth
Bank structure will total £864,000, made up as follows: -
d asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The information that follows has been supplied by the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. In supplying the information, the corporation has warned that the figures relating to applications to the Commonwealth Development Bank should be treated with reserve. This is so because the distinction between an application and an inquiry is not always clear cut. In addition, many of the applications that were made, particularly in the early days of the Development Bank’s existence, were not only clearly outside the Bank’s stated lending policy, but also beyond the limits of its statutory functions. For instance, many of the applications received from members of the rural community were not for development, but were for purposes such as the taking over by the Development Bank of debts from other banks; the figures relating to declined applications therefore include many applications where no development was involved.
Subject to the foregoing reservations, the corporation has furnished the following answers: -
Applications received by the Development Bank between 14th January, 1960 (when it commenced operations) and 24th August, 1960 were -
These applications were for a total amount of £19,063,000. One thousand seven hundred and fifty-one applications (to an amount of £10,246,000) were from members of the rural community, and 342 applications (to an amount of £8,817,000) were classified as applications for loans for industrial purposes. The Development Bank does not maintain a separate classification of mining applications, but it can be stated that very few such applications have been lodged.
For various reasons, and particularly because conditions vary from State to State, the Commonwealth Banking Corporation does not consider it appropriate to provide information regarding the activities of the Development Bank on a State by State basis so far as approvals, &c, are concerned. The following information is, however, furnished for Australia as a whole as at 24th August, 1960 (figures as at the end of July, 1960 are not available): -
d asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
they collectively made available for this purpose in each of the last five years?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The Reserve Bank of Australia has not made any determination, or given any directions, with regard to the making of advances in the course of any banking business carried on by bodies which have been exempted from compliance with section 7 or section 8 of the Banking Act 1959.
d asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The following information has been supplied by the Reserve Bank of Australia: -
Overseas Investments in Australia.
d asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Direct investment in branches and subsidiaries - by industry. (£ million.)
the intrusion of overseas companies into Australian life insurance business would have upon our foreign exchange reserves?
y asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - “Weighted averages of retail prices in the six States capital cities for butter, tea, sugar, milk and rump steak for the December quarter, 1949 and the June, quarter, 1960 were as follows: -
d asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
The Commonwealth Statistician does not collect prices for salt or pepper.
d asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 October 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19601006_reps_23_hor28/>.