24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. CAIRNS presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Government -
Nations, declare Australia’s willingness to enter into an agreement not to manufacture, test, station or acquire nuclear weapons.
Petition received and read.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that the hearing of applications for increases in margins by Commonwealth Public Service organizations, including the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia has been deferred three times, namely from 30th April to 7th May, from 7th May to 14th May and from 14th May to 28th May. Is one of the reasons given for the delay the illness of Mr. Justice Wright? If so, why cannot other arrangements be made to permit the earliest possible hearing of these applications so that Commonwealth public servants may not be deprived of any benefits which might accrue from any variation in their awards? I ask the Prime Minister as well: Will he give an undertaking that the Government will not intervene or attempt to influence the determination of the applications to the detriment of the Commonwealth public servants whenever the hearing of the applications takes place?
– Most of the matters inquired into by the Leader of the
Opposition are not within my immediate knowledge. I will ascertain the facts and treat his question as if it were on the notice-paper.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: In view of the fact that section 158 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1962 provides that any person who threatens, offers or suggests any loss or disadvantage to induce the withdrawal of any candidature for Parliament is guilty of the offence of undue influence, and in view of the report that Miss Esme Russell, the daughter of the late member for Grey, has been threatened or pressurized by three Labour Party members in South Australia, including the State Leader of the Opposition, will the Minister confer with the Attorney-General to see whether an offence has been committed and, if so, will he take appropriate action to protect this young lady from intimidation?
– As the honorable member has correctly stated, there is a section of the Electoral Act which deals with inducements or threats to prevent candidates from standing for election to the Parliament. I have seen a report in the press along the lines mentioned by the honorable member. The person he named stated, according to the report, that she would resist all attempts to exert pressure on her. This is a serious matter. Quite obviously, no democracy can function if persons or parties in positions of power can prevent the electors from exercising a free choice or prevent candidates from standing for Parliament. I therefore agree that it would be quite proper that I should consult with the Attorney-General to see whether any further action should be taken in this matter.
- Mr. Speaker, may I intervene to say that I did not answer the last part of the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition because I wanted to check up on my memory before doing so. We have decided that the Government will not itself intervene ia the Public Service case.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General concerning the action taken by the South Australian Government in the High Court eighteen months ago to compel the Commonwealth to proceed with the standardization of the railway between Port Pirie and Broken Hill under the act sponsored by the Commonwealth Government in 1949. I ask the honorable gentleman: What was the amount of the legal costs which the Commonwealth incurred in successfully resisting the South Australian claim in the case in which the South Australian Government was ordered to pay the Commonwealth’s costs?
Speaker, this is not information which I have by me, but I will ascertain it and communicate it to the honorable gentleman.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. It concerns the employment of juveniles. Can the Minister give the House any impression of the number of young people who left school at the end of last year and are now still unemployed, and the numbers that have become employed in the meantime?
– I cannot give the honorable gentleman all the figures relating to juveniles in employment, but I can give the figures relating to school-leavers. In the six months period ended 31st March last, a little over 65,000 schoolleavers were registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service. There are now fewer than 11,400 of these on the register. Of the latter perhaps 3,800 or 3,900 are young male school leavers. I think this is a remarkable performance on the part of the Commonwealth Employment Service.
There were 82,000 school leavers registered last year, and 65,000 through the Christmas period and up to the end of March. There are now only 3,900 male school-leavers registered as unemployed. I think the Commonwealth Employment Service is doing a remarkably good job, especially in applying its talents to ensuring that school-leavers are placed in employment as quickly as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories. Is it competent for an aboriginal ward in the Northern Territory to engage legal representation, or does that action require the consent of the Director of Welfare?
– I am not sure of the legal aspect of this matter and I am sure that the honorable gentleman would not wish me to express a legal opinion. But so far as I know there would be no obstacle to an aboriginal ward obtaining counsel of his own volition.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. As a statement on the potential of Queensland rivers, made by the Minister for National Development in Cairns recently, indicates that the Australian Water Resources Council has now reached a stage where some results of its studies are available to the public, can the Minister say at this early stage whether it is intended to produce a regular publication of these results for the public use? If it is not so intended, what method will be employed to make the results of the council’s work available to a vitally interested community and particularly to those organizations and individuals in the drier inland whose future hinges so much on a well-conceived water policy?
– This is a matter which is administered by my colleague, the Minister for National Development. I am afraid I cannot answer the honorable gentleman’s question off hand, but I will forward it to the Minister and get a full reply as soon as I can.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. In view of the widespread support for the establishment of a north Australia authority to promote the rapid development of north
Australia, as advocated by the Leader of the Opposition at the last election, will the Prime Minister now state whether he intends to adopt this plank of the Labour Party’s policy? If he does not, what are his plans to meet the urgent problem and what does he intend to do with the skilled construction staff of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority as the Snowy Mountains project tapers off?
– Mr. Speaker, with great respect, I do not propose to make any policy announcements this morning.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. It relates to the committee set up by the Government to inquire into university and tertiary education generally. Since it would seem inevitable that the committee must recommend both substantial expansion and, perhaps, important structural changes, can he say whether it may be possible to expedite the presentation of the committee’s report, or at least to obtain an interim report, to enable planning and perhaps some execution to proceed at the earliest possible moment, in order that there may not emerge a lost generation of school-leavers?
– I doubt very much whether we can accelerate the production of the report to any real extent because the members of the committee are for the most part fairly busy men. They have been devoting a great deal of their time to this matter. I will be better informed on the prospective time-table next week because I propose to have a discussion with the Australian Universities Commission on Saturday morning.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. The honorable gentleman will remember that the Prime Minister and the New Zealand Prime Minister three years ago discussed proposals by the New Zealand Government for a joint trans-Tasman shipping service and that he himself later discussed the proposals with the New Zealand Minister for Marine. In view of the reduction in shipping between the two countries in the succeeding years, and the current efforts to promote a greater flow of trade between them, I ask the Minister whether those discussions have been resumed or whether arrangements have been made to resume them.
– I recollect that the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of New Zealand discussed this matter and later that consultations were held between myself and the New Zealand Minister for Marine. However, there has been a change of government in New Zealand since those discussions took place and the talks on a transTasman shipping service have not been resumed.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration a question. In view of the excellent work already done by the Minister on behalf of White Russian emigres from Red China, will he investigate the report that 500 White Russians who have been granted exit vises by the Peking authorities are being delayed in coming to Australia due to some inaction or tardiness on the part of the Hong Kong authorities?
– I know that the honorable gentleman has the cause of these unfortunate people very much at heart-
– Why must you say that sort of thing? It is contrary to the Standing Orders.
– I think the Leader of the Opposition is in error. The fact is that the honorable member for Chisholm for years has interested himself most deeply in the plight of White Russians.
– So have other honorable members.
– I do not deny that, but the honorable member for Chisholm is entitled to some credit. If I may continue my answer, I assure the honorable member for Chisholm that I will investigate this matter and do what I can to expedite tha migration of these White Russians provided they can satisfy the usual requirements concerning health and security, which must be most carefully observed however humanitarian one’s motives may be.
– I ask the Acting Minister for Trade whether he is aware that Australian shoppers generally view with grave concern the haphazard manner in which goods from Japan and other countries are stamped with the country of origin. The present system leaves the door open to fraudulent practices. Will the Minister direct that all goods entering this country must be marked with an indelible stamp?
– I will arrange to investigate the matter raised by the honorable member and will provide him with a reply later.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry seen a report of the Australian Wool Board fashion adviser that the overseas trend in woollen materials is for bright clear colours - in the words of the fashion adviser, “ oranges, pinks, yellows, blues and greens that are almost translucent in their freshness “? Why is it that this season’s colour shades chosen by the Wool Colour Council of Australia, which consists of fourteen men and one woman, are so incredibly drab? Those people have chosen browns, greys and dark greens.
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable member has referred, and I cannot claim to be an authority on colours. I do know, however, that Miss Sanders, who advises the Australian Wool Board on these matters, is expert and outstanding in every particular. I commend her for the work that she has done.
– My question to the Prime Minister relates to a matter about which he is very widely regarded as an expert. Is he aware that the steel pipes being imported from Japan to convey oil from the Moonie field in Queensland are made of Australian pig iron? Is he aware that this has been made possible because the Government lifted the embargo on the export of pig iron from Australia? Does the Government’s policy of processing Australian resources overseas and importing manufactured articles contribute to
Australian development and the protection of our overseas funds?
– 1 would have expected the honorable member to know that for very many years there was a prohibition on the export of iron ore from Australia, based on the proposition that we must conserve our own resources of iron ore. At the time when this prohibition existed our resources were regarded as being quite limited. Recent finds have disclosed enormous additional supplies of iron ore in Australia, and under these circumstances the Government felt that it was possible to permit a limited export of iron ore, which would help in the development of certain fields. It has done. so. I had not understood until now that the honorable member or the Labour Party criticized this decision.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. As unemployment has caused a good deal of concern over recent months, can the Minister draw on his memory reserves and advise the House of the number of unemployed people registered in the electorate of Grey?
– It was very kind of the honorable member to invite me to draw on the reserves of my memory, but unfortunately they do not go quite that deep. I shall ascertain the figures and convey them to him. He can rest assured that the electorate, having a representative as prodigiously energetic as he is, will have a very small number of registered unemployed.
– If the Minister for the Interior intends lo regard in a serious vein the question asked of him by the honorable member for Sturt relating to - and I canvass it - the alleged attempt by some people to influence-
– I accept the word. If the Minister so regards the alleged attempt by some people to pressurize Miss Russell not to stand for election for the Division of Grey, will he investigate the facts, which were well established and known at the time, surrounding the Liberal Party pressure which was applied most vigorously to Mr. George Knox in Melbourne not to oppose the Treasurer in the 1961 election?
– The Leader of the Opposition asked, first, whether I take this matter seriously. I ask him whether he thinks it is a serious matter that there is in the press a public report of an attempt to persuade or induce a prospective candidate not to stand for election to the Parliament. Apparently, he does not think that such a matter is serious. I give him an assurance that we regard this as a serious matter. I fully intend to consider taking further action about it in consultation with the Attorney-General. With respect to the other matter that the honorable member has raised, I can only say that this is the first time it has been brought to my notice.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Is he aware that over many years the high incidence of probate duty has often forced the sale of entire farming properties to meet the duty and that in many other cases so much of a property has bad to be sold as to render a farm an uneconomic proposition? In view of this fact, will the right honorable gentleman seriously and sympathetically consider the introduction in the forthcoming Budget of a higher exemption figure and a reduced preferential rate of probate duty for primary-producing properties, which are contributing so much to our export income?
– The honorable gentleman has raised a very important aspect of policy that has already received a good deal of consideration. As he will appreciate, the matter is full of complexities. We have to make judgments about equity as between various classes of taxpayers. It is true that the combined effect of the Commonwealth duty and the very much heavier State estate duties creates problems for people who have farming properties. The same can be said, df course, about industrial enterprises that, perhaps, are in the form of proprietary companies, partnerships and similar commercial structures. National interests are involved, and I well appreciate the honorable gentleman’s point that we must look significantly to the primary industries to sustain our export income and, as I said yesterday, we must act in that important way to stimulate the economy generally.
I am by no means unsympathetic towards those who have the problem of coping with large payments of estate duties in the event of death in a family, but we have to try to preserve in a reasonable way a basis of equity between taxpayers. The State governments have examined this problem and I think that in at least two States there has recently been some modification of State duties to take account of the problems of the owners of rural properties. I am also under the impression that action has been taken in the United Kingdom. These developments are being studied and I assure the honorable gentleman that they will have been fully considered by the time that we come to the preparation of the next Budget.
– In replying to the question asked by the honorable member for Balaclava a few moments ago I related my remarks to the unemployment position in the Balaclava electorate rather than in the Grey electorate, which was the subject of the question. I should now like to clarify the matter. In South Australia as a whole, the number of persons registered for employment has fallen to fewer than 1.5 per cent, of the work force. That is a low percentage - the second lowest in Australia. I can now call on the resources of my memory and inform the honorable member for Balaclava that the number registered in the Grey electorate for the three districts for which figures are recorded is substantially fewer than 500, including fewer than 220 males. That number is in keeping with the average of fewer than 1.5 per cent, of the work force for the whole of South Australia. Another important aspect of the situation is that the industrial centres in the electorate of Grey are growing rapidly, and our real difficulty in places like Port Augusta, Port Pirie and Port Lincoln is not that we are registering large numbers of people for employment but that we are finding it increasingly difficult to get employees for the growing industries in those places. As an estimate, registered unemployed expressed as a percentage of the work force in these districts would be about 1.1 per cent., 1 per cent, and 0.6 per cent, respectively.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Immigration a question. Some time ago the honorable gentleman said that the officers of the Department of Immigration would inquire into the reasons why immigrants eligible for naturalization, numbering about 250,000, had not applied for naturalization. Has the Minister anything to report on this matter?
– The inquiries are still going on. I think the honorable member will agree that the question is a complex one. There is quite a number of reasons why people are slow in coming forward to offer themselves as candidates for Australian citizenship. I can assure the honorable member that I have this matter constantly in mind and that there has been no delay in the inquiries being made.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Repatriation in his capacity as representing the Acting Minister for Trade. Has the Minister seen a report describing Australia’s Department of Trade representation in Japan as hopelessly inadequate? Is it true that in a nation of nearly 100,000,000 people, which is one of Australia’s main trade customers, we have only three full-time trade officials, whereas in New Zealand we have four officials of the Department of Trade? If these are facts will the Minister say whether any consideration is being given to increasing Australia’s trade representation in the very important trading country of Japan?
– I did see the report referred to. I also had the opportunity to read a report submitted by the leader of the Foodstuffs Survey Mission which was organized by the Department of Trade to visit Japan. Reference was made in that report also to Australian trade representation in Japan. I think the bare figures mentioned by the honorable member do not give a true picture of the situation, because many more persons are engaged in actual trade work in our mission in Japan. In addition, the comparison between the numbers of trade representatives in Japan and in New Zealand does not give a complete picture because of the difference in the kind of trade carried on between Australia and those two countries. In Japan we are concerned mainly with bulk commodities like wool, wheat, metals and coal, whereas in New Zealand we are concerned principally with a wide variety of manufactured goods. In fact, I think about 40 per cent, of our total exports of manufactured goods goes to New Zealand. Basically, therefore, there must be a difference in representation in the two countries. However, consideration is being given at present to the establishment of a further trade post in Japan and also to an increase in the total trade representation there. In addition, arrangements are now being made for further trade publicity in Japan, and those arrangements will be finalized in the very near future.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. I preface it by directing his attention to the fact that Coral Sea battle veterans employed in the Postmaster-General’s Department in Melbourne have been invited to participate in the Coral Sea march next week. Will the Minister authorize leave with pay for the men who take part in this march?
– This matter has not previously been brought to my attention. Now that it has been mentioned to me by the honorable member for Bowman I will look into it and see what the position is.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs lay on the table of the Library a complete copy of the joint communique issued on 20th April by Liu Shao-chi, mainland China’s No. 2 Communist, and the President of Indonesia, Dr. Soekarno, in which those two countries expressed resolute and unequivocal support for the Brunei rebels against the proposed Federation of Malaysia, for the Viet Cong in the war in South Viet Nam, for North Korea, and for the so-called liberation of Taiwan?
– I will certainly lay on the table of the Library any record that I have of this communique.
– Will the Minister for Territories give the reasons why instructions were issued to government-nominated members of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory not to accept appointment to a select committee set up by a majority decision to inquire into political reforms for the Northern Territory? That select committee is now functioning without government representation. When a similar select committee was set up by the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea the Minister approved the objectives and government-nominated members acted on it. As the Government accepted promptly the recommendations of that select committee, what are the reasons for its refusal to participate in a similar investigation in respect of the Northern Territory?
– In the judgment of the Government the terms of reference of the select committee would have put any public servant in an embarrassing position if he had been obliged to serve as a member of the select committee.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware that there is a serious difference of opinion between the Victorian Wheat Industry Research Committee and the Victorian Department of Agriculture about the best location for the proposed wheat research institute? Will the Minister use his influence in order to overcome that deadlock? If it becomes necessary for him to advise on the location of the institute, will he give due consideration to a site at which the greatest number of wheatgrowers will be able to take advantage of this all-important research programme?
– I am interested in seeing this research establishment proceeded with, but in the main this is a matter for the wheat industry research committee of the State. It is the function of the State committee, rather than of the central research committee, to make a recommendation and act upon it. However, I will see whether there is any way in which I can assist in expediting the matter.
– Is the Treasurer aware that registered dental mechanics in Tasmania are permitted by law to deal directly with the public in the same way as dentists are? In view of that, will the Government, in the preparation of its next Budget, give consideration to allowing taxation deductions for work done by registered dental mechanics in the same way as deductions are allowed for work performed by dentists, and so remove this unfair discrimination against a large section of the Tasmanian public?
– I have been made familiar with this problem from two sources in recent times. In the first place, it is the subject of one of the recommendations of the committee that was set up to inquire into income tax matters. It is an item in the report of that committee. Secondly, more recently a deputation of Government members and the representative of this section of the dental profession in Tasmania came to me. We had a very useful talk. I was given full details of the background to the relevant Tasmanian legislation and the way in which it is operating. I have undertaken to give consideration to the matter in the course of the preparation of the next Budget.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is it correct to say that the new Royal Mint in Canberra may be completed by the end of 1964? As I believe that the availability of the mint is a major factor in the proposal to convert the Australian currency to a decimal system, will the right honorable gentleman advise the House whether there is a possibility of the introduction of decimal currency even earlier than 1966?
– I understand that the construction programme for the mint is proceeding to schedule. We had hoped that it would be in operation about the middle of 1964, but from what I can gather of all the tasks to be performed in relation to decimal currency, I do not think I can offer any prospect of its introduction sooner than early 1966. In fact, the problems of accumulating a stock of coins, of altering the designs of notes, of printing a sufficient volume of new notes and of all other aspects, such as the conversion of machines for the new currency, taken together, will set us a severe task if we are to hold to the time-table I have forecast.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government believes that in the interests of the defence of Australia it would be unwise and highly dangerous to provide an efficient transport system in the northern parts of Australia for fear it may be used by our enemies. If this is the belief, does it mean that the Government also believes that the roads in the north of Australia should remain in their present primitive condition? If these are not the beliefs of the Government, can the Prime Minister tell us why such an expression of view should come from the Postmaster-General on 3rd April, as recorded in “ Hansard “ of that date?
– The best answer to the honorable member’s question is to remind him that this Government is already spending millions of pounds in co-operation with the States, in the north of Western Australia, in the Northern Territory and in the north of Queensland. I would have thought that those facts were the most eloquent testimony as to what our real belief is.
– My question to the Treasurer also concerns some of the unbounded wealth to be found in the State of Western Australia, but this time it relates to some wealth that is supposed to lie at the bottom of the sea. Knowing the Treasurer’s deep interest in skin diving, I ask him whether he has contemplated a visit to Perth to inspect the treasure. If he does inspect it, will he make a decision as to whether the treasure is taxable if those people undertaking the venture succeed in bringing it from the bottom of the ocean?
– I have been following with fascinated interest the efforts of the very enterprising band of underwater fishermen who, as members of an explorer group, have discovered this old wreck in Western Australia. I suppose most honorable members of the House have at one time or another been excited by stories of treasure trove, the hiding places of pirate’s treasure, and so forth. It has always seemed to me to be rather ungenerous of any community to deprive those who discover such treasure and to insist that it go into the public coffers, but I gather that as the law stands that is its initial destination, at any rate. While I would welcome an opportunity to join, at a reasonable depth, those who are engaged in this task, I am afraid that my duties here would prevent that; but, to the extent that some sympathetic view can be taken of any recoveries from the sunken vessel, the honorable member can be assured that I would not like to see this wealth taken from Western Australia if Western Australian enterprise is able to secure it.
– By way of explanation of a question addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, I direct the honorable gentleman’s attention to a circular issued by the Australian Combined Bank Officers’ Salaries Campaign Committee, a copy of which I understand has been sent to him, in which 50,000 bank officers are calling for salary justice. I ask the Minister whether he has studied this document in which allegations are made that the banks want to worsen the conditions of bank officers and, amongst other things, freeze salaries for five years. Also, is it a fact that pledges were given to the employees of private banks prior to the 1949 election that their working conditions would be improved in return for their support in defeating the Chifley Labour Government? If these are facts, will the Minister state what action, if any, he intends to take to honour the Government’s obligations to the private bank officers associations to whom he and the Government are so heavily indebted?
– First of all, I have not seen the pamphlet to which the honorable gentleman refers. It may be in my office, but it is certainly not on my table. The second point is that, under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, if there is a dispute, it is a dispute between the parties in the case, the bank officers’ association and the managements of the banks. It has nothing to do with the Commonwealth Government as such, and, as the Prime Minister informed the Leader of the Opposition this morning in relation to the case of the public servants, there is no intention on the Commonwealth Government’s part as a government to intervene in this case. Indeed, I doubt whether it has the right to intervene at all. This is a matter primarily for negotiation between the banks and their employees. In the event of negotiations not being successful, it is then a matter for application to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
As to the second part of the honorable gentleman’s question, like almost every statement contained in his questions, it is wrong. No government would give an undertaking of the kind suggested by him. We wish the bank officers well. We are not like the Labour Party, which wants to destroy the private banking system of this country. If we can do anything to protect the interests of the employees of the private trading banks and the private savings banks then, despite the honorable member’s efforts to the contrary, he may rest assured that we will do so.
– I lay on the table of the House a report by the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Printing of Cotton Piece Goods.
The report, which does not call for any legislative action, has been accepted by the Government.
Ordered to be printed.
– I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Sixty-first Report - The Reports of the AuditorGeneral - Financial Year 1961-62.
In pursuance of its statutory obligation the Public Accounts Committee examined in detail the comments of the AuditorGeneral in his reports for the financial year 1961-62. Following that examination a series of public inquiries were held relating to certain of the comments made by the Auditor-General and the results of those inquiries are recorded in this sixtyfirst report of the committee.
We were pleased to note that the incidence of critical comment by the AuditorGeneral was less than in previous years. This situation indicates the value of the annual investigations the committee has been conducting and it is gratifying that the Auditor-General’s adverse comments have become less numerous.
In this report we refer to the delay by the Department of Customs and Excise in furnishing covering instructions to the Attorney-General’s Department for the amendment of certain regulations. However, when investigating this matter, the committee was pleased to note that the necessity to amend those regulations had arisen from commendable action by the department to improve its administrative procedures. The committee would like to think that all departments maintain continuous reviews of this nature.
The committee has commented also in this report on the somewhat disturbing situation which exists in the office of the Parliamentary Draftsman from the shortage of specialized legal officers. As the functions of that office are vital to the efficiency of governmental administration, as well as to the adherence to essential legal forms, the committee trusts that the staffing problem involved will receive urgent attention although it appreciates that there is no immediate solution.
This report also includes the two Treasury Minutes received on our forty-eighth and fifty-sixth reports.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to the application of moneys and securities deposited with the Treasurer by persons carrying on insurance business.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
111.20]. - by leave - I move -
That the bin be now read a second time.
In 1932 the Commonwealth took over from the States the legislation relating to life and general insurance. In 1945, separate legislation was passed relating to life insurance. This bill provides for amendments to the Insurance Act 1932- 1960; which applies to all forms of general insurance business carried on in Australia.
The general basis of the legislation is a requirement that insurers maintain deposits with the Treasurer which are available to satisfy any final judgment obtained by a policy-holder in respect of a claim made under this policy, or to distribute to such claimants in the event of the insurer going into liquidation.
The purpose of this bill is to remove a weakness in the existing legislation which provides in effect that claims for refunds of premiums as well as claims in respect of risks insured may be paid from the deposit. In recent cases of insurance companies which have gone into liquidation claims for refunds of premiums, individually small, have in total represented substantial amounts. The sharing of the deposit with persons with such claims considerably reduces the amount of the deposit available to an individual who has suffered a substantial loss due to the occurrence of a risk covered by his policy. The Government considers that the deposit held should be primarily available to those who face a substantial loss when an insurance company is unable to meet its obligations. This bill, therefore, provides that claimants for small refunds of premiums will not share in payments from the deposit. What is removed is a preference given to them which was not intended - they will, of course, still rank with other unsecured creditors of the company.
Deposits currently held in respect of certain companies at present in liquidation will be affected by the provision. However, arrangements already agreed upon by claimants under policies of certain other companies, under compromises or schemes of arrangement, for the sharing of the deposit among themselves, including claim ants for refunds under policies, will not be disturbed.
This limited amendment of the Insurance Act has been brought forward now to protect those who could otherwise lose substantially because of the existing provisions of the act. The Government is, however, reviewing the provisions of the Insurance Act as a whole. I suggest to the House that then would be the appropriate time to have a more general discussion on insurance matters. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Question proposed -
That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair.
.- A little over twelve months ago a report was issued in Britain by the Royal College of Physicians in London dealing with the connexion between smoking and lung cancer. Very soon after this report was issued, the proposition it contained was supported by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. The medical fraternity generally is aware of the harmful aspects of smoking in relation to lung cancer and some thought has been provoked throughout the country in this regard.
Not long after the report appeared, I asked a question of the Treasurer. The question appears at page 1263 of “ Hansard “ of 4th April, 1962. I asked-
Is the right honorable gentleman aware of the recent report of the Royal College of Physicians of London on the, relationship between smoking and cancer of the lung, and also of the warning by the Royal Australian College of Physicians of the increasing incidence of lung cancer due to smoking? As a safeguard for the future health of our youth, will the Treasurer prevent indiscriminate advertising of cigarettes by making the cost of advertising them a non-deductible item for taxation purposes? Will the Treasurer also place a sales tax on the advertising of cigarettes?
I saw that that was a positive way to treat this matter of advertising of cigarettes. In reply the Treasurer said -
The honorable member raises some interesting policy questions which rather get outside the range of normal Treasury decision and advice. Looking at this very interesting and highly controversial matter from the viewpoint of the Treasurer, if there should be a general disposition throughout Australia to give up the. smoking of cigarettes, then I am afraid the Treasury will have to look to other sources of revenue to make up the loss of revenue involved.
That was the negative reply given by a member of the Menzies Ministry to a positive suggestion for maintaining the health of future generations. If you study my question, you will find that I referred to the future health of our youth. I am going to emphasize and re-emphasize to the Government the utterly scandalous situation that exists in the community. Company executives who are greedy for wealth, dishonest and corrupt, because of their actions through advertising in enticing the youth of our nation-
– That is a strong word.
– I repeat it. Here is a man who is so pious, a supporter of the Government who says he is very concerned about the youth of this country. I repeat that these people are greedy, dishonest and corrupt people who are using the advertising media to entice the youth of our nation to take up smoking. According to the advertisements, it is the fashionable thing to do. If you remain at home and look at television you will see advertisements showing young people at parties taking cigarettes and saying: “ This is the thing. Be gay. Be in the mood.” Not just one manufacturer of cigarettes but all manufacturers are using the powerful medium of television to entice our youth into smoking. These people know that smoking will affect the health of future generations.
Not only is television being used to advertise cigarettes, but so also are newspapers, radio and posters. Even though the warning of the wise people of the Royal College of Physicians was given over twelve months ago, no restraint has been shown in the use of the advertising to influence our young people to smoke. The Treasurer and other members of this Government are concerned only with the revenue obtained from cigarettes. This is a responsibility, not only of the Federal Government, out also of the State governments through their educational systems. Let me be frank about this, however. The real power lies in this Parliament.
– Hear, hear!
– I hear a future Treasurer interjecting. I hope that when we on this side of the House are in control of the Parliament and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is the Treasurer, he will take steps to see that the costs of advertising cigarettes are non-deductible for taxation purposes. If that measure will not curb this advertising madness, we should go further and impose a sales tax or a super-sales tax on advertising to make sure that the tobacco monopolies do not impair the health of the youth of our nation.
I am a non-smoker. I do not want to be pious about this and say that because I do not smoke other people should not smoke. I am not trying to say to people, “ You should give up smoking because it is wrong and evil “. I was a prisoner-of-war during the last war. We were locked up and confined in certain places. I saw intelligent men, even though we were on starvation rations, give away their food for cigarettes. One of the doctors in our camp - a marvellous man - used to give away his breakfast every morning for a packet of ten cigarettes, because he thought he could get a certain satisfaction from the cigarettes. It is very difficult for smokers to give up the habit, although I know it is possible for some to taper it off.
My call this morning is not confined to people who already smoke, although I think they should show restraint. I am concerned mostly about the youth of the nation, who should not be influenced by television in this so-called affluent society, to take up smoking. In picture theatres, also, when the lights go out after the intermission, and members of the audience expect the main film to come on, they see a five-minute wide-screen advertisement in colour, the climax of which is the appearance of a certain brand of cigarette and a statement that it is a good smoke, one which a man can be proud to enjoy and to offer to others and that the smoker is a manly man.
The acceptance of such advertising demonstrates the stupidity of some members of our modern society. I challenge the Treasurer and the Government to do something about th’is matter. I challenge the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver), who recently interjected, to stand up in his pious way and do something positive to influence the Government to take drastic action against the tobacco companies which use television - this powerful medium of advertising - to induce young Australians to form a habit which will affect their health in future and undermine the health of generations to come.
.- Mr. Speaker, I wish to refer to one aspect of the war service homes legislation. I would like first to pay a tribute to both’ the Government and the responsible Minister for the manner in which this act has been administered. This period of administration has been one of achievement. During this Government’s term of office more than 170,000 ex-servicemen have been assisted to obtain homes. The amount of the individual advance for this purpose has been increased from £2,000 to £3,500. During this period also the total amount of money provided under the act is in excess of £400,000,000. This Government has extended eligibility for assistance under the act to nurses who served with the Australian forces in time of war. This is a very progressive step. Even more importantly, it was a just step, because these women served their country in time of war just as surely as the men did. In my opinion the amendment to the legislation did not go far enough. It limited the eligibility to nurses with dependants or those about to marry.
War widows, quite rightly, are entitled to war service homes finance, whether they have dependants or not. A number of the nurses are unmarried and others have no dependants, but they still require homes. In my opinion they have qualified, through service to the country, for housing finance at the lowest rate of interest available. This, of course, is war service homes finance. The Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia has consistently supported the proposition that these women should be eligible for assis tance. The Government’s point of view, which I think is reasonable, is that while there are ex-servicemen with dependants still awaiting assistance, it is not logical to give priority to single people with no dependants. Although nearly 250,000 exservicemen have already been assisted, applications are still coming in and there is no indication that this trend will not continue for a considerable time. If we are to wait until the needs of all ex-service- men with dependants have been satisfied, these women will never qualify for assistance.
It is already too late to assist the nurses of World War I, because those who are still living are either 70 years of age or approaching that age. World War II has been over for 18 years and a number of nurses and ex-servicewomen who served in that war are already 50 years of age. Those who have reached that age have not a great many .working years ahead of them. If we postpone assisting them much longer they not be in a position to pay off their homes.
I believe that now is the time to help them, while they are still young enough to appreciate homes of their own and are still able to go to work. There are not a great many women in the categories to which I have referred. I know that the organizations to which they belong would greatly appreciate the Government making available only a few homes in each State each year, in order to show in tangible form its appreciation of the service rendered to Australia by these gallant women in its hour of need.
Earlier this year the Government increased the annual allocation for war service homes from £30,000,000 to £35,000,000. The additional finance which would be required for twenty homes for nurses or other ex-servicewomen without dependants and who may not be. covered1 by the existing legislation - in order that ex-servicemen with dependants may not be prejudiced - would be only £75,000. Surely it is not too much to expect the provision of such a moderate sum for such a worthy cause!
I would like also to lend my support to the proposal which has already been sponsored by a number of members in this
House. The proposal is that the Commonwealth Government should assist charitable organizations which are prepared to provide accommodation and workshops for physically or mentally handicapped people. These people are prepared to help themselves. At present, if they do nothing at all, the Government has to support them and pay them either the unemployment benefit or the invalid pension. They thus become a charge on the Commonwealth. Most of these people have some earning capacity. In effect this is a capacity to relieve the Commonwealth Government of some of its financial commitment, so I believe that common sense demands that they should be helped.
I referred previously to organizations in Victoria which are known as special schools. They may exist also in other States. They cater for children whose I.Q. is not up to normal standards, but is not low enough for them to be classed as mentally retarded. The result is that they exist in a political no-man’s land. When these children reach sixteen years of age they cease to be the responsibility of the Education Department. As I have said, their I.Q. is too high for them to be brought under the wing of the mental hygiene department or the Department of Health. At the normal schoolleaving age of sixteen years they register for employment. If the Commonwealth Employment Service is unable to find them suitable employment, they have to be paid the unemployment benefit. With extra training many of these children could obtain and hold jobs. At present the financial responsibility for them falls on the parents. Some people may argue that is fair enough. But if the parents choose to do nothing for these young people the Commonwealth has to bear the financial responsibility. It has to pay them either the unemployment benefit or the invalid pension.
In order to qualify for the invalid pension the young people must be 80 per cent, incapacitated, and many of them would not have much difficulty in proving that degree of incapacity. We can argue, with some justification, that these people are the responsibility of the State. But from a business point of view, if not from the point of view of political expediency - if we are not prepared to regard this matter from a humanitarian point of view - we should do everything we can to reduce the number of these persons registered for employment and who are a charge on the Commonwealth purse.
– I take this opportunity to bring to the attention of the House the plight of some 4,000 or 6,000 pensioners in my electorate. Those people are very concerned over the directions that have been given to their doctors by the Government’s medical service committee of inquiry. The doctors have been told that they are attending many of their pensioner patients too frequently. In many cases in which the doctors have been advised by Macquarie-street specialists or by hospitals that their patients need treatment, say, twice a week, the committee has ruled that treatment once a week is sufficient. It is all very well for the doctors who are members of the committee to adopt that attitude. They sit in a comfortable room and give the orders. They should come with me and see some of these pensioners whom they say are receiving treatment too often. I think that if they did so they would change their attitude very quickly.
The Minister for Health (Senator Wade) is fully acquainted with this matter because I have sent to him a large volume of correspondence that I have received from sick patients in my electorate. This practice about which I complain has been going on for six or eight months. The committee of doctors appointed by the Government calls in general practitioners at random and gives them directions about the manner in which they will treat pensioner patients. Possibly this problem does not occur in the blue ribbon conservative seats, where you would not find many pensioners at all and where almost everybody would be able to pay for medical attention. But in West Sydney, where there are thousands of pensioners, the doctors have been told to cut down on their visits. The pensioners may, of course, visit the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital or the Sydney Hospital and receive, free of charge, the treatment that the doctors are not allowed to give. The pensioners have been told to have this treatment.
I knew of one man who for six years has suffered from arthritis. He has been told thi.t he must have at least two injections a week administered by his doctor. But the factor has been told that an injection c :ice every two weeks will be sufficient. The doctor is given his orders by people who have never seen the patient. After all, surely he ( doctor attending a patient knows best what that patient needs! Nobody can claim tbi*t doctors are making money out of the pensioners because the doctor that I have m mind has a waiting-room full of patients at all times. He is a well-known doctor. He is not running after the 9s. that he gets for visiting a pensioner patient. If that patient could afford 25s. and the cost of prescriptions he could ring up a doctor and get treatment whenever he wanted it. I have given plenty of evidence about this matter to the Minister for Health and I hope that he will do something to remedy this defect in the national health service. It is disgraceful that pensioners, who are living in rooms into which the sun rarely shines - paying £2 or more a week in rent - should be deprived of Government assistance when they need medical attention. This is a scandalous state of affairs and 1 hope that it win soon be rectified.
I am glad that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) is in the House because something should be done for the civilian maimed and limbless in our community. I was glad to hear the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) say that something should be done for these people. I recall that during the first week of this sessional period the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) placed on the notice-paper a motion calling for action in this regard. The intentions of the honorable member for Mackellar and the honorable member for Henty are good, but what do they do to give effect to their intentions? Why do they not say something about this matter at their party meetings?
In Camperdown, which is in my electorate, Mr. and Mrs. Bedwin run a factory in which they employ a large number of physically handicapped persons. Mr. and Mrs. Bedwin have been to Canberra seeking assistance to employ more of these people. Every handicapped person who inquires for work at the factory is put on the road to full employment. These people are taken off the Government’s dole and are enabled to earn a decent living. What the Government should do now is provide money to build flats or other dwelling units close to the factory so that the physically handicapped employees will not have to travel long distances to work. I commend the Government for waiving sales tax on motor cars purchased for use by physically handicapped persons, but it should once again come to the aid of these people. Special housing should be provided for these people close to their workshops. They are desperately in need of assistance of this kind. The Commonwealth Government will not assist sheltered workshops to obtain contracts. If it did so, it would be rendering a great service to the physically handicapped. But the sheltered workshops must sell their products privately. The Government should be able to buy or arrange for the sale of the goods produced by physically handicapped people. I urge the Government to follow Sweden’s example in this respect. In Sweden £7,000,000 a year is spent in assisting physically handicapped people to do useful work.
The matter that I now propose to raise has left me almost at the end of my tether. It concerns a constituent of mine whose case I have referred to many times previously. This man had been working for about nine months in a Sydney club when unfortunately he met with an unusual accident in which he injured his privates. He was taken to hospital on two occasions. On the first occasion he lost one of them and on the second he lost the other. If he had lost two fingers or two toes he would have received £600 or £700 compensation but the Government has wiped him, the insurance companies have wiped him and every one else has wiped him. All he has left are two bills from two hospitals for over £100 each. His claim for compensation was rejected and now he has to meet a bill from his solicitor. He is in the unfortunate position of having no money with which to appeal against the decision which has been made. If the couple had money his wife could reasonably expect to fight a case on the ground of seeking restitution of conjugal rights, but there is not even enough money to enable her to approach the court.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I take this opportunity to commend the Government for something that it has put in hand, and I hope to encourage it to greater efforts in the same direction.
The House will remember the very regrettable incidents not only in Australia but in other countries a few years ago when it was found that a drug called thalidomide was responsible for a number of deformities in children born after their mothers had taken, in all good faith, the drug which had been supplied to them. In most cases these so-called thalidomide babies lack either a leg or even both arms. The parents are not to blame in any way for what happened. This is an undeserved misfortune which has fallen on them.
There are many of these unhappy children in other parts of the world, but fortunately in Australia we have only about 23 of them. I am asking that something special be done for them, particularly for those who lack arms. The number of armless babies is quite small. I do not know the exact number, but I think it is either ten or twelve in the whole of Australia. These children need immediate help because unless they are trained early in life they will be unable to make full use later of their artificial limbs. It is essential that these cases be taken in hand while the children are young. There are other armless babies in Australia, but only one or two are likely to be bom with this deformity each year. The ten or twelve children to whom I have referred need immediate help.
In some cases - not all - a surgical operation is necessary. A rudimentary bone under the chest muscles can be retracted by surgery and used as a stump on which an artificial limb can be fitted later, but this is not so in every case. Overseas experiments are being conducted to find a way to minimize this disability. In Germany, where the number of these cases is greatest, the experiments seem to have been commenced first. They are proceeding also in the United States and in Great Britain. The treatment which is available overseas is not available in Australia, but this position should not be exaggerated because there is reasonable prospect - here let me commend the Government for what it has put in train already - that facilities will be built up in Australia to the stage at which they will be equal to those available overseas.
I have said that it is essential to train these children early, particularly the armless ones. Except where surgical treatment is necessary, the apparatus probably is not needed early in life. What is needed early in life is to habituate the child to wearing a shoulder apparatus which later can be extended in a more complicated fashion. The infants concerned in Australia range, I believe, from one to three years of age. It is essential that those in the upper aga bracket receive help immediately. The States, which I think have a primary responsibility in this matter, and the Commonwealth are moving. For example, in New South Wales three members of the New South Wales Parliament - one from the Liberal Party, one from the Country Party and one from the Labour Party - ‘have banded together and are taking this matter in hand. I commend that. The Commonwealth Minister for Health (Senator Wade) already has shown his sympathy and has taken the very practical step of trying to use the facilities of the Repatriation Department, which are particularly adapted to the provision of artificial limbs. This is a good thing. But I suggest that we should move a little faster because of the urgent need to do something for these children at a very early age. I suggest, particularly in the cases of children in the three-years age bracket for whom immediate help is essential, that we help with the fares to the other side of the world where skilled treatment is available now. This assistance would not need to continue for very long because the skilled treatment is being brought to Australia. I think it is inadvisable for the children who are at present in the lower age group to go overseas, because by the time they are ready for skilled treatment the proposals which the Commonwealth Government already has put in hand will have matured and the skilled treatment will be available in Australia.
It is possible that these children will obtain legal damages from the firm responsible for producing the drug. A test case is in progress at present. Perhaps if advances were made they could be repaid from any damages which were obtained subsequently. But the children cannot wait, and
I suggest that the Government go a little further than it is going. I commend it strongly for what it is doing. I think that over the long term the plans that it has to work in co-operation with the States, to make available the facilities of the Repatriation Department and to provide in Australia the skill necessary to give full and adequate treatment to these unfortunate children, will prove to be the proper plans to adopt. However, in the one or two cases where the child is in the higher age bracket and needs treatment urgently, as the facilities which we hope will be available in Australia are not presently available, perhaps we might go a little further than is now proposed. This would not create a precedent, and only one or two children are involved. We have to admit that, all over the world, the treatment of these cases is a matter of experiment. We still do not know exactly the right kind of treatment to give. But, as I have said, particularly in Germany, new artificial limbs, and especially new artificial hands, are being developed. I am sure that, when they are readily available, action taken by the Commonwealth Government will result in their being available not only overseas but also in Australia. I commend what has been done and I hope that it will be followed up.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, only on very rare occasions do I use the forms of this House under the Grievance Day procedure. On this occasion, I do so to discuss a matter that I regard as being of considerable, if not great, importance particularly to my electorate. I raise this matter, which concerns the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, at this stage because I believe that I have exhausted every other method of approach to the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson). I have written him letters and have addressed questions to him in this place both on notice and without notice. On every occasion, he has refused to acknowledge the justice of the claim for a new post office building in the suburb of Newstead in Launceston presented to him by those methods. Therefore, I feel disposed this morning to direct the Minister’s attention again to the urgent need to replace the sub-standard building in which this post office in the Bass electorate is now located. The present building has been used by the department almost since the end of the last war without any improvement in the facilities available to the residents of the suburb who normally use the post office.
I make no charge against those who are responsible for the conduct of the business done in this post office. Indeed, I believe that they discharge their duties very well indeed, probably far better than could be reasonably expected of them having regard to the conditions under which they are obliged to work. The Minister may know - he certainly should do - that the present building is an Army disposals structure that was purchased about the end of the war to enable the local post office to meet the needs of a rapidly-growing district. One can appreciate that at that time the PostmasterGeneral’s Department experienced much the same difficulties that were being encountered by most other Commonwealth and State departments in providing accommodation for departmental use. To meet the needs of the people of Newstead for post office facilities, the department was obliged to purchase the present sub-standard building, which was moved to a block of land that had been previously bought for the purpose. I do not believe that at the time any one would have quarrelled with the department’s decision. Everybody appreciated the difficulties that then existed. If there were not financial problems, there were certainly problems in obtaining materials for the construction of a suitable building on the site.
I believe that the local people, and particularly the municipal authorities, and I have been very patient in this matter. Although the present sub-standard building has been in use as a post office for more than seventeen years, the department has made no attempt to provide the kind of building that the kind of suburb and the demand for postal services warrant, despite the fact that representations have been made to the Minister not only by me but also by members on the Government side of the House. As I have said, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the present sub-standard building do.es not meet the needs of this rapidly growing area, and it certainly does not dp credit to the Psotmaster-General’s Department. I am certain that if the PostmasterGeneral proposed to provide a building of this kind for use as a post office in Canberra, the Minister for the Interior (Mr.
Freeth) would object most strenuously, and no one would blame him for doing so. Yet the Postmaster-General has made no attempt to provide a suitable building in the Newstead suburb where there has been a tremendous growth of both population and commercial activity since the existing building was first placed on the allotment for use as a post office.
I intimated earlier that various questions had been directed to the Minister on this subject. He dismissed them all with answers couched in terms that indicate that he has no interest in this matter. He knows that quite recently a petition on the subject signed by a great many residents of the area was presented to this House. Whether he knows of the petition and has been prepared to study it, I am not sure, but the fact remains that, so far as I can see, it has been completely ignored. I point out to the Minister that although the post office facilities in the suburb of Newstead have been allowed to remain at the sub-standard level that I have described, other interests in the suburb have been prepared to construct buildings designed to meet adequately the needs of this rapidly developing area.
The Minister must be aware that as far back as 19S6, after I had made representations on the matter, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department agreed to make provision in its estimates for the replacement of the existing building. For some unknown reason - probably the reason is known only to the Minister - this provision was later taken out of the department’s estimates. If there was need for a new building in 1956, obviously the need is far greater in 1963. Yet the Minister has never been prepared to intimate why provision for the new building was taken out of the departmental estimates. He has merely said that the business passing through the Newstead post office does not justify a new building. The Minister’s approach is completely wrong. He ought to know that the existing building does not attract the volume and kind of business that would normally be attracted if the structure were suited to the purpose and adequate for the provision of the facilities normally available at any post office. - I believe we have reached the stage at which this procrastination should cease. The Minister should be prepared to say whether it is lack of finance or lack of business that is preventing the erection of a new post office to replace a sub-standard building that has remained there for about seventeen years. I believe the Minister has a case to answer and that, in fairness to those who have made representations to him over a long period, he should give this matter the careful consideration that it deserves.
.- From time to time, over a period of six or seven years, I have mentioned in this House that, as part of our programme for rehabilitating physically handicapped people, we were arranging to hold a sports meeting in Perth, in conjunction with the Commonwealth Games, which would be open to physically handicapped people from all the Commonwealth countries. Support and encouragement was given to these games by all honorable members, from the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) down to the humble back-bencher, and I feel that it is incumbent upon me, as chairman of the organizing committee, to report to the House concerning those games, which were held in November of last year. This is the only opportunity I shall have to do so.
In the course of the next few days I hope to be able to distribute to all members copies of a supplement to the journal of the Royal Perth Hospital giving a report on the games, and I hope that honorable members will read that supplement with interest. I have some copies of the journal with me, and if there are any honorable members who would like to look at them and see the report contained therein, showing winning competitors and so on, I shall be happy to let them have these journals.
I am very pleased to report that the games were a success. Many members of the House gave financial as well as moral support to the games, and I believe they are entitled to know how the games turned out. The total cost of organizing the games was about £14,000. On the final day I made an appeal for the establishment of an endowment fund to ensure that the games would be held at regular intervals in the future and that Australia would be able to send a team to any Commonwealth country in which such games were held. As a result, we finished up with about £1,100 or £1,200 as a nucleus of an endowment fund. A British Commonwealth council has now been established, with its head-quarters at present in Australia. For the moment I happen to be its chairman. Dr. Bedbrook, of Perth, is the secretary. Representatives of about twenty Commonwealth countries have agreed to send delegates to meetings of that council. The head-quarters of the council, as I have said, are at present in Australia, and I hope they will remain in this country. After all, we initiated the games and, therefore, we have some claim to have the head-quarters here, in the same way as the head-quarters of the international organization is in Stoke Mandeville, in England.
Each of the State governments contributed towards the cost of the games, and whilst it was not possible for the Commonwealth to contribute financially towards the games I hope that in the future the Commonwealth will be able to give financial assistance towards the functioning of the council. Although, as I say, the Commonwealth was not able to contribute financially, or did not contribute financially, towards the cost of the games, I may tell honorable members that the Prime Minister personally made a very generous gift, as did the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr. McEwen). The organizing committee is deeply indebted to those two gentlemen. Other honorable members also made generous contributions.
I felt that I should tell honorable members about the success of the games and that we are hoping that in the future this country will be the centre from which further such efforts will be made towards rehabilitating not only paraplegics but physically handicapped people generally. Some lead must be given internationally in this direction, and I believe that we can do it in Australia.
I now have a matter about which I want to do a bit of grieving. We have often been told of the tremendous importance of making higher education available to our children. We have been told of the necessity for more scientific training and more training in various skills. This necessity undoubtedly exists. My attention has been directed to the fact that our income tax law makes no provision for treating gifts for the advancement of technical education as permissible deductions for tax purposes. It is true that our income tax law provides that gifts to universities or university colleges or donations towards the construction of buildings to be used exclusively as school buildings, and which are not partly or wholly paid for by State governments, may be treated as permissible deductions for tax purposes. There is no such provision, however, in relation to gifts for the purpose of technical education. This is a definite weakness in our taxation system.
I have it on good authority that business and commercial firms and private individuals are quite prepared to make substantial donations towards the advancement of technical education in Australia, but they are not encouraged to do so, because such donations are not deductible from income for the purpose of taxation. I suggest that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), should consider this matter when preparing the forthcoming Budget. This is not a new question. It has been brought up on previous occasions by many authorities, including ministers of education and directors of education in the various States. These people have submitted proposals that the Commonwealth should encourage people to make donations for the advancement of technical education by allowing such donations to be deducted from income for the purpose of assessment of tax. When we talk about education we talk about what the Commonwealth can do, what the States can do and what individuals can do. This is one field in which I believe we are able, at very small cost, to encourage people to provide a very necessary facility. We are told that we need more and more technical education. This is one direction in which this Government, with a sympathetic understanding and at the suggestion of the directors of education and ministers for education in all the States, can give a degree of encouragement that will help to overcome what appears to be a deficiency-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) was on the right track. He demonstrated the inadequacies and inconsistencies of the policies of this Government in its order of priorities.
– This has gone on for a long time.
– Yes, it has. I support the honorable member in his view that technical education needs the support that the Government can give through all its agencies and means, including taxation. It is an interesting illustration of the order of priorities when a firm can receive a taxation deduction for the cost of the installation of new equipment, but it cannot receive a taxation deduction for an investment, in the form of a donation, that it makes in the human minds that will work that equipment.
The matter that I wish to raise is the absolute urgency of the need to do something for the Monash University in Victoria. I have raised this question with the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). I asked him a question yesterday. I point out to the House that, although he has done his little bit - it is a lot more than most other honorable members opposite have done - on the question of university education, he has lulled himself into a false sense of security and complacency by thinking that the Australian Universities Commission will solve all the problems. There is evidence of under-planning by the commission. It applies a pruning knife to university needs. The Prime Minister, as though in splendid isolation, appears to be ignoring the urgency of the problem and resting on the hope that the commission will do something about it. Yesterday he said -
I want to know what they are- that is, the needs of the Monash University -
. and what the commission has to say about them.
I will try to tell him some of them. In a debate in this chamber not so long ago he made this statement -
In recent months the commission has received many requests that it should recommend to the Government increased grants for the present triennium.
The commission accepted some of those requests and scrubbed the rest. It sent the ones that it accepted to this Parliament for approval. It did not tell us the requests which were ignored.
So there is a state of emergency at present, at least at the Monash University. Actually there is a state of emergency in university education throughout Australia. All honorable members ought to pay some attention to this position. Some honorable members represent electorates near universities and university colleges. The case of the Monash University needs special attention because it is Australia’s newest, fastest expanding and potentially most expensive university. Nothing can be done without proper forward planning. But I am afraid that there is plenty of evidence that the Australian Universities Commission has approached its task in a very diffident way. Apparently it is afraid to forward its recommendations to the Government. It applies the pruning knife to the needs of universities. The result of that will be reductions in the student intakes, in staffing and in the ability to keep up with the needs of the community.
The most urgent matter, of course, is the needs of the community. This worries me and concerns me. I find difficulty in choosing adequate words to describe the state of affairs that exists, in which the authorities are unable to see what the future needs will be. In the report of the Australian Universities Commission presented in October, 1960, this statement appears -
Unfortunately, the Commission was faced with a new set of problems associated with the unexpected increase in student numbers.
Why is it unexpected? People will enter universities seventeen, eighteen or nineteen years after they are born. If the number of births in a certain year is 100,000, we can expect a certain percentage of those people to want to enter universities seventeen, eighteen or nineteen years later. Also, it is an established social fact that in future a much greater proportion of those people will want to enter universities than in the past.
Here is a significant, almost frightening, fact. In Victoria there has been a tremendous increase in the number of children staying on at school until the sixth form. Some figures produced in the Victorian Parliament only recently show that in 1958 only 11.6 per cent, of the students who started at post-primary schools four or five years before stayed on until the sixth form, but in 1961 the appropriate figure was 20.2 per cent. So the number of students staying in the State secondary schools in Victoria to the matriculation level is now nearly double what it was four or five years ago. All the evidence points to the fact that we will need two new universities catering for about 8,000 students every three years for the next ten or fifteen years. But nothing appears to be being done about it.
At the Monash University the position is one of great urgency. Only last Saturday the dean of the faculty of medicine, Professor Andrew, had some words to say about it. He pointed out that the approaches that the university made to the commission only a month or so ago were rejected. I think the university wanted about 20 per cent, more seating accommodation in the faculty of medicine. That approach was rejected. Who is to say what the requirements of the faculty of medicine ought to be? Should it not be the faculty of medicine itself? Should it not say what its needs are? Who are the members of the commission, that they should reject that kind of submission? Is the community in such a position that it can afford to let the commission reject such an important submission from such important people? The result is that the faculty of medicine at the Monash University will suffer.
Yesterday we heard the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) say that the Army cannot get enough doctors. We know that is the position throughout the community. Yet there are student quotas and the faculties are over-strained. Professor Andrew has pointed out that any reduction in the facilities available will produce a lowering qf the standards, with an almost continuous irreversible chain reaction in the lowering of professional and technical standards not only in medicine but also in other professions. The position in the faculty of medicine is extremely serious.
Another point is that the commission has not got down to producing its general recommendations for the next triennium. The universities cannot even plan their staffing. If they want to bring staff to Australia from overseas, arrangements have to be made now. They have to know exactly how much money they will have; otherwise they cannot import their staff. So staffing for next year and subsequent years is endangered.
One only has to look at the statistics on university libraries to see how many library books universities need. At the moment the Monash University has, I understand, only about 90,000 volumes; the University of Sydney has about 647,000; the University of New South Wales has about 151,000; the University of New England has about 107,000; and the University of Melbourne has about 292,000. In the establishment of a university such as Monash, particular consideration has to be given to the equipment of it. In this respect also the planning of the commission is inadequate. The commission regards equipment as a recurring expenditure instead of making it the subject of a special grant. Consequently, many faculties are unable to get the appropriate equipment, particularly library equipment. A university cannot be established without a wholehearted approach to library equipment in the first stage.
The Monash University now has 1,600 students. Originally it was planned to have about 2,400 students at this stage. That position is not due only to the inadequacy of accommodation. It is due partly to university education being so extraordinarily expensive. Parents just cannot afford the fees of £140 or £150 per annum. I hope the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn), who is at the table, will take this matter up with the Prime Minister. I trust that the Australian Universities Commission, the Prime Minister and other members of the Government will realize the urgency of the need to provide adequate funds immediately for the new university in Victoria. In Victoria people are talking of a third university.
This is an indication of the money that is needed. A total capital investment of £44,000,000 will be needed to enable the Monash University to cater for 12,000 students. That represents about £3,800 a student. So far about £8,000,000 has been spent. An amount of £55,000,000 will be needed to enable it to cater for 16,000 students, and £66,000,000 will be needed to enable it to cater for 20,000 students.
We must have a system of priorities. We have Boeings at £3,000,000, lakes at £3,000,000 or £4,000,000, national service at £150,000,000 and the St. Mary’s project at £30,000,000. University education is fundamental to our national and individual development. Honorable members should read the article appearing in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ this morning. It shows us what is being done in other parts of the world. We must face the problem and give the highest priority to education. The most expensive part of the education system is university education, and the responsibility for universities is directly on this Parliament and directly and personally on the Prime Minister.
.- I have been very concerned recently with the general tendency throughout the country - it has been reflected in the Parliament - to under-estimate the value to Australia of our primary industries. On many occasions I have mentioned in this House the great value to us of primary industries. I have shown that they are the very basis of our economic stability. Now I find that certain people in the community who write letters to the press or whose statements are reported in the press are saying that certain other industries are taking toe place of the primary industries. I believe that this is quite wrong and that we must give proper emphasis to primary industries.
Recently, two members of the Parliament who are generally opposed to each other agreed - this is reported in “ Hansard “ - that we must not exaggerate the value of our export industries. I said then that it is very hard to exaggerate the value of the primary industries, and I think the more generally this idea is accepted in the Parliament the better for Australia, particularly when we are considering propositions that will assist the primary industries. I said in a recent debate that our primary industries are the very basis of employment. The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) interjected, “ They cannot employ many people “. The fact is that primary industries are responsible for the employment of ever-increasing numbers of people. Years ago, when farmers used horses and comparatively primitive machinery in the production of wheat, they were not responsible for the employment of a great many people. With our increasing population, the part of the primary producer in providing employment has become more significant.
The community generally does not seem to realize how many people are kept in employment by the efforts of primary producers. The wool industry, for instance, is responsible for the employment of shearers, classers, transport workers and those engaged in the selling of wool and in the manufacture of all classes of woollen goods. If we go to the extreme, we can say that the people engaged in selling woollen goods in the shops owe their employment to the production of the wool from which the goods are made. Let us take the wheat industry. The manufacture of tractors and machinery used by farmers gives employment to workers in all cities. Others are engaged in the building and maintenance of silos. Bakers and pastrycooks would not be able to make their goods without the production of wheat. Workers engaged in the production of superphosphate and other fertilizers owe their employment to wheat-growers. I hesitate to itemize all the people whose employment is dependent on primary production. No matter how many I mentioned, it could be said quite rightly that I had omitted some important people whose employment is the result of primary production.
Many people in the Postmaster-General’s Department owe their employment to primary production. The farmer generally has to make trunk-line telephone calls to purchase the goods he may require or to make arrangements for the selling of his goods. Then we have mail deliveries. Countless men are employed as a result of the activities of primary producers and they are paid by the primary producers. I want to speak now about transport - by rail, road, sea and to a lesser extent air. When the farmer sends his goods - wheat, wool, potatoes, dried fruits, tobacco and so on - to market, he pays freight on them. When the goods are made up by people engaged in the manufacturing industries and are sent back to the country areas for sale, the primary producer pays freight again.
It would be very hard to exaggerate the amount that the primary producer contributes towards transport costs and the number of people who are employed in transport services through his efforts. Let me deal with fuel and oil. Oil has only been used to any significant extent in the last few decades. When the farmer used horses, he did not need oil. But now thousands upon thousands of men are engaged in the distribution of petrol, diesel fuel and oil, not only for motor cars in the cities but for the down-to-earth production of primary products in the field. Tractors to-day are everywhere and it is most unusual to see a team of horses. I think we must give due recognition to the part played by primary producers in Australia. I often hear Opposition members speak about wharf labourers. Where would the wharf labourer be if the primary producers did not produce the goods for them to handle?
– Where would you be if the wharf labourers did not handle the goods?
– I am talking about the very basis of our industry, of our prosperity and of our employment. There is a pronounced tendency in this House to under-estimate the primary producers and those who represent them. It would seem that many Opposition members believe it is far beneath their dignity to speak about the Mallee. But the Mallee electorate produces vast amounts of wool, wheat, dried fruits and all classes of primary products, and it must be recognized as a vital unit in the prosperity and stability of this country.
Some people may by chance unconsciously under-estimate the value df primary industries, but when this is done deliberately, it is unpardonable. My purpose in speaking to-day is to try to raise the recognition of primary industry to the level at which it should be. The first settlers in Australia were pastoral pioneers. Later, the gold rushes of round about 1851 attracted great numbers of people to this country. We know that when the gold petered out or became unprofitable to mine the people turned to something more stable - to the primary industries. Every honorable member who has any knowledge of this country is well aware of the fact that our cities and towns have been built on the products of the soil and that the future of Australia is bound up with the prosperity and well-being of our primary industries.
.- After listening to the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), I am reminded that we can always tell when the pre-selection ballots for Australian Country Party candidates are coming up because’ it is only then that members of that party are prepared to talk about our primary industries.
The first matter which I wish to raise - and very shortly because my speaking time has been cut to five minutes - relates to telephone services in the city of Ipswich. The people of Ipswich feel greatly aggrieved at the persistence of the telephone branch of the Postal Department in continuing to adopt in this jet age methods suitable to the horse and buggy days. Ipswich is the third largest provincial city in the State of Queensland, and therefore, on the basis of size alone, apart from its very great importance as an industrial centre, Ipswich is deserving of high priority over the less important provincial cities in the installation of automatic telephone services. It is deplorable that the department should persist in operating in three different centres of Ipswich manual exchanges with their attendant confusion and1 frequent dislocation of services. There are more than 4,000 telephone subscribers in the city of Ipswich. About 1,500 of them are connected to the central magneto-controlled telephone exchange in the main Post Office building. A great deal of the equipment in the exchange was installed in 1913 in dingy and depressing surroundings. This must have a very bad psychological effect on the girls who are compelled to work in the exchange. However, it must be said to their great credit that, despite their surroundings, they remain cheerful, courteous, everhelpful and efficient in operating the outofdate system. It must be most frustrating and1 annoying to the many people who use the telephone services regularly - especially business people - to find their conversations cut off by the operator from another centre in order to connect a call from another line. That is a regular occurrence. On a number of occasions when I have been having an important telephone discussion my conversation has been cut short and another call has been put onto the line.
The next matter to which I wish to refer relates to the telephone services extended to the residents of the Crossdale-Murrumba area. The people in this district are engaged in primary industry. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) has just made a forthright speech on the subject of primary industry. If he is really sincere, perhaps he will be quite happy to lend his aid and support me in my representations on behalf of the people living in the Crossdale area who are served by what they describe as a very unreliable manual telephone exchange. They desire to have their telephones connected to the automatic exchange at Murrumba, a few miles away. These people are engaged mainly in the grazing industry. When they are out culling stock and moving round their properties, they run the risk of meeting with a serious accident, and while they have to rely upon an unreliable and unsatisfactory manual exchange service, they are exposed to great danger. If they could be connected to the Murrumba automatic telephone exchange, a great service would be done to them as would be done to the people of the Mount Archer area, which is situated not far from Kilcoy. The people of the Mount Archer area are also engaged in primary production. At the moment the majority of them are without a telephone service at all because the people who previously operated the manual exchange at Mount Archer relinquished control of the equipment. Now, only about four out of a total of something like twenty subscribers have a service, and it is both intermittent and unsatisfactory. Further, owing to the recent rains in Queensland, these people have been flooded out and cut off from road communication by the rising headwafers of the Stanley River.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order No. 291.
Question resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m. [Quorum formed.]
Debate resumed from 1st May (vide page 944), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Speaker, the first matter to which I desire to refer relates to the present disputes on the Sydney and Melbourne waterfronts. I say quite definitely that the responsibility for the trouble on the Australian waterfront at the moment rests entirely on this Govern ment and the shipowners. In order to show where the responsibility lies it is necessary to go back to some of the more recent disputes and to indicate to honorable members what has actually happened.
Some little time ago a cargo ship called the “ Riederstein “ arrived in Australia, carrying oil in tanks, and the waterside workers claimed that the work of unloading this vessel belonged to them. That claim was disputed by the shipowners, but eventually the view of the men was accepted. They had been engaged on the work of unloading this vessel on its previous visits to this country when it had brought oil in 44-gallon drums. The men involved in this dispute were suspended. They were penalized although they were eventually proved by the recognized authorities to have been correct in the attitude that they adopted. However, before they had an opportunity to work out their period of suspension, another dispute occurred which is referred to generally in the industry as the woo] dispute.
This wool dispute arose when a Japanese vessel arrived in Australia to load wool and a man engaged on stacking was injured. The members of the Waterside Workers Federation immediately demanded that the number of men working on the wool stack should be increased from two to three. This request was denied by the shipowners and a dispute occurred. The dispute was referred to a board of reference, which decided in favour of the shipowners. The waterside workers then exercised their right of appeal to an arbitrator, but the arbitrator happened to be the chairman of the board of reference which had heard the matter, so that he was sitting in judgment on his own decision. As would be expected, the arbitrator found against the Waterside Workers Federation.
Before the dispute had concluded, although it involved only a relatively few men at the outset, 571 members of the Waterside Workers Federation suffered suspension. After the dispute had become more general, it came before Mr. Justice Ashburner. Before the union could get the matter beyond the point where it was taken to the arbitrator, there had to be a dispute. Otherwise Mr. Justice Ashburner would have never been involved in the matter. When it was necessary to get a settlement, Mr. Justice Ashburner heard the case and found in favour of the men. As a matter of fact, he regarded the men’s request as being of such a moderate character that he gave them more than they had originally sought.
I would remind honorable members that initially there were two men engaged on the wool stack. After a man was injured, the men had asked for three to be placed on the stack. Mr. Justice Ashburner decided, after hearing the matter, that where wool was stacked four bales or more high, there had to be four men engaged on the stack. So the men had conceded to them more than they had originally sought, which shows that their application must have been fully justified. However, in the meantime, large numbers of men were suspended by the authority and the union was savagely fined by the Commonwealth Industrial Court. Although the union and the men were finally proved to be right, both the union and the men individually were savagely fined.
I now pass to the “ Lake Eyre “ dispute, the precursor of most of the disputes which are at present occurring on the waterfront of Australia. In the “ Lake Eyre “ dispute, the men were engaged in discharging bags of clay. This was a very filthy cargo to handle and the men asked to be provided with industrial clothing. I think that any organization or any member of a union would recognize that as a justified claim. However, the request was denied, a dispute occurred and the men suffered suspension. Before their sentence was concluded, a new gang was engaged to discharge the clay. Strangely enough, the men in the new gang engaged to replace the gang originally engaged to carry out this work were granted industrial footwear and aprons, were allowed washing time and were conceded 6d. per hour penalty rate. These concessions demonstrate that this was a very objectionable cargo. Had the shipowners been reasonable in their treatment of the waterside workers in the first instance, there would have been no interruption of the work whatever. Here is another case where the men’s claim was eventually accepted as being justified, yet both the union and the men were heavily penalized.
Before the mcn from the “Lake Eyre*’ who were suspended could work out their suspensions, a new dispute arose on a vessel called the “Port Aylmer “. The cargo to be loaded was meat carcasses, and the dispute involved six men. It was a dispute merely as to the distribution of the men on the work of unloading a railway meat van. The men engaged on this work thought there should have been a certain distribution of the work force to help the smooth working of the loading of the vessel. However, the shipowners would not agree, and a dispute occurred. The men were suspended. This dispute had nothing whatever to do with the “ Lake Eyre “ dispute, which was an entirely different dispute on an entirely different matter.
Under the system now being operated on the waterfront, if men become involved in a dispute and are suspended by the authority but have not worked out their suspensions before another dispute starts somewhere else in the port, even if it involves only a few men, the period of that dispute does not count as a part of their period of suspension, because those days are not regarded as normal working days. There have been many cases on the waterfront where men have been suspended for one or two days but, because another dispute arose before they had completed or worked out their period of suspension, it was actually six and seven days before they could return to work, although in many cases the port was in need of labour.
Let me now tell of a more recent dispute. A vessel called the “ City of Sydney “ was berthed at what is known as No. 22, Pyrmont, in Sydney. This dispute was somewhat similar to that to which I have made reference regarding the working of railway trucks bringing cargoes for the loading of vessels engaged in the export meat trade. Again a dispute arose and again the shipowners refused to concede what the men requested in regard to the distribution of labour.
To show to what lengths the shipowners will go in order to defeat the legitimate requests of the Waterside Workers Federation and what extreme provocation is offered to the men in these matters, I point out that the shipowners then had the truck taken elsewhere. It was unloaded by two members of another union. Four lorries were engaged, I understand, at a hiring cost of 32s. an hour. The meat was loaded into those trucks, taken back to No. 22, Pyrmont, and eventually loaded into the vessel. This operation must have cost considerably more than it would have cost to concede what the men were asking.
As a matter of fact, there was no cost involved in the men’s request. It would have meant smoother operation and probably quicker loading of the vessel if the viewpoint of those men, experienced in this business, had been accepted, but the shipowners were determined that the waterside workers had to be defeated. It would be interesting to know whether the exporters of meat - we hear a great deal about the need to encourage export industries - were charged this additional cost.
Let us come now to the latest dispute - the Anzac Day dispute. This was a most disgraceful incident and when I relate what really happened and what the position is, everyone will recognize that the Minister, retiring behind his old argument about Communist-controlled unions, has no reason or argument to advance against the requests made by the men. There were 32 men involved originally in what is known as one of the hostages disputes. One honorable member on the Government side of the House referred, in an earlier debate, to the word “ hostages “ being an invention of the Communist Party. It is a very apt description of what is happening, whoever invented it, because on the waterfront to-day men who are suspended are held as hostages for the good conduct - according to the reasoning of the shipowners - of all the waterside workers engaged in that port. So, while they are under suspension they are held as hostages. There is no way to describe it except as the waterside workers have described it. There were 32 men involved in this dispute over hostages, which occurred in the period preceding the Anzac Day holiday.
On Tuesday, 23rd April, there was a general port stoppage as the result of the earlier dispute and1 all the men suffered suspension. But, of course, it does not pay the shipowners or the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to suspend men on every occasion. When labour is required to discharge or load vessels it does not pay the shipowners or the authority to suspend men. So there is a provision under which the authority can use its discretion and, if a port dispute occurs, as it did on this occasion, the authority, instead of suspending the whole port or preventing the men from returning to work, imposes a penalty of the loss of four days’ attendance money, which has been accepted by the tribunals as the equivalent of one day’s work.
On the Wednesday, when the men would not have been working had the suspension been continued, the men were permitted to go to work. As I have said, the penalty of the loss of four days attendance money was substituted for the suspension, but the men actually worked. The next day was Anzac Day, which is a no-work day generally, except that some men are provided by the union for the loading and discharging of passengers’ luggage, for which they are paid two and a half times the normal rate. The men who stand off on Anzac Day, which is regarded generally as a public holiday, are paid on the basis of what is called a six-hour minimum. On the Friday following Anzac Day the port again worked normally.
Here we have the condition, which is accepted in every other industry in Australia, that where the men work normally on the day preceding Anzac Day and on the day following it they shall be paid for the holiday. Yet the authority decided that because of its interpretation of a provision contained in the award the men had not satisfied the requirements because they would have been under suspension on the Wednesday, except for the application of section 52 (a) of the act and the substitution of the loss of four days’ attendance money in lieu thereof. Does this not constitute a double penalty in any case? The tribunal has already accepted that one day’s suspension is the equivalent of the loss of four days’ attendance money. The men still lose the four days’ attendance money, but, according to the decision of the authority, they are to be doubly penalized by the loss of pay for the Anzac Day holiday. It is a disgraceful situation.
Let me show how vicious the penalty is. If the men were paid for Anzac Day, as they should be, they would get £3 9s. 6d., which is the six hours’ minimum pay, and for the four days’ attendance money they lost £5 13s., so the total loss which every waterside worker in the port of Sydney suffered was £9 2s. 6d. It is a double penalty and, of all holidays, it involved Anzac Day. Sixty per cent, or 70 per cent, of members of this union are exservicemen. If anybody in this country is entitled to the Anzac Day holiday, surely it is the men who served in World Wars I. and II.! Surely they are more entitled to it than is anybody else in the country! But they are denied it because they were involved in a dispute which occurred some days prior to the holiday itself.
There is not another industry in Australia in which it is the recognized practice that if the men work the day before and the day after a holiday they are not paid for it. The purpose of the introduction of the attendance money provision was said to be to benefit the waterside workers, but in certain respects it is now being used to reduce their industrial conditions. Had there been no provision for the substitution of the loss of attendance money in lieu of suspension and had these men worked normally the day before and the day after Anzac Day, they would automatically have received their pay for the Anzac Day holiday.
Let me tell the Minister, because it is not only the waterside workers who are involved, that he always tries to get away from the real issues in respect of these disputes by saying that they are deliberately engineered by the Communist officials of the Waterside Workers Federation. Mr. Fitzgibbon, whom even members of the Government will not classify as a Communist or a Communist sympathizer, has, only in the last few days, warned the Government of the possibility of major industrial trouble on the Australian waterfront if something is not done in regard to the savage penalties being imposed on the men in this industry and on their organization.
I have since been informed that the exservicemen members of the Waterside Workers Federation have now sought the co-operation and assistance of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. Mr. Yeo, who is president of the New South Wales branch of that organization, has already expressed strong disagreement with what the Government has done in depriving these men, many of whom served during the war, of their just rights. Sub-branches of the league have carried resolutions supporting the attitude of the men in support of their demand for what, in their opinion, is their right and that of other trade unionists in this country. The Minister cannot argue that the union has not genuinely endeavoured to co-operate in preserving peace and continuity of employment on the Australian waterfront. At times when they have considered that certain legislation should be given a fair trial the waterside workers have carefully refrained from doing anything that would hinder that course. In recent years more cargo has been handled on the Australian waterfront with less labour than ever before in the history of the industry. I will not weary the House with figures relating to the amount of cargo handled because I have given this information on other occasions. Those figures prove conclusively that the Government has no case to put against the requests of these men.
The Government must rectify this matter and see that these men on the waterfront are paid for the Anzac Day holiday. If they are not paid I am sure that the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Government will not have heard the end of the matter. Every trade unionist in Australia and every reasonably minded citizen are satisfied that the waterside workers have right on their side in this dispute.
When Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh visited the various States during the recent royal visit the Commonwealth and State governments took steps to declare appropriate public holidays so that the people would have an opportunity to participate in the celebrations. However, I recently discovered that although permanent Commonwealth public servants were paid for the day, casual Commonwealth public servants were denied pay for the holiday. I recently placed on notice a question about this matter, to which the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) answered in this way -
Relevant award conditions prescribe that casual workers are paid only for the work performed. These awards also provide for a loaded rate of pay to compensate for the fact that casual workers are not granted receation leave or sick leave or public holidays with pay.
Let us examine that answer for a moment. Of course, the matters referred to by the right honorable gentleman are taken into account when rates of pay are fixed for casual public servants but it is not every year that we have a royal visit. The tribunal that fixes rates for casual public servants undoubtedly took into account only the normal statutory holidays that occur year after year. This occasion was a special holiday. The States and the Commonwealth were in some way supposedly making a gesture to permit the ordinary citizen to participate in the celebrations. If you happened to be a casual or a temporary Commonwealth public servant you got the day off to participate but you lost a day’s pay. That decision by the Government is outrageous and the position should be rectified.
Let me show how this anti-Labour Government discriminates against the workers whenever it gets the opportunity. The privileged few who were invited to attend the royal visit celebrations in Canberra were provided with free transport and, as far as I know, they did not suffer any loss of a day’s pay. Certain of the guests were actually paid a fee of £4 a day to attend the celebrations. If you are a casual public servant you may take part in such celebrations and lose a day’s pay, but if you are on the privileged list and you attend the celebrations in Canberra you get free transport to the National Capital and you also receive a fee of £4 a day to attend. That is outright discrimination and the situation should be rectified quickly by the Government.
Another matter that I wish to raise concerns the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). We have received some peculiar statements lately from the Treasurer regarding delay on the part of the Government in doing something to implement the decisions of the committee appointed to inquire into taxation, which was presided over by Mr. Justice Ligertwood. The committee’s report has been in the Government’s hands for some considerable time now. Recently, I placed on the notice-paper a series of questions addressed to the Treasurer. I direct the attention of honorable members to the replies given to those questions. Those replies are typical of the replies that members of the Opposition receive to question placed on notice. I asked a series of thirteen questions. In reply to the first six questions, the Treasurer referred me to the committee’s report, which was tabled in the House on 17th August, 1961. The Treasurer said -
Copies of the report were made available to all members.
My seventh question to the Treasurer was -
Did he state when tabling the report that legislation arising from the committee’s recommendations would be introduced and made retrospective to that date?
That question called for a simple, “ Yes “, or “ No “. Either the Treasurer made the statement or he did not make it. In answer to that question the Treasurer said -
When tabling the committee’s report I made a prepared statement, the full text of which may be found in “Hansard” of 17th August, 1961, at page 182.
The Treasurer could have answered that question with a simple, “ Yes “, or “ No “. He knows that he made the statement but he is now embarrassed by the fact that he has not acted as he said he would on that occasion. I further asked the Treasurer -
Did he in the following November, at a time when the Parliament was not in session, announce that no amendment of taxation laws based on the committee’s report would affect income earned or received in any year before 1962-63?
That, too, was a simple question which could have been handled by a direct, “Yes”, or “No”. But what did the Treasurer reply? He said -
I made a statement on 1st November, 1961, a copy of which can be made available to the honorable member if he does not already possess one.
Would any honorable member regard that as a proper answer to a question directed to a Minister? My concluding question contained a request that I be informed definitely when the amending legislation will be introduced. The Treasurer completely avoided answering my question and said -
As stated in my answer to a recent question without notice (“Hansard” of 10th April, 1963, page SS2) the committee’s recommendations, covering as they did practically the whole field of income tax, raised issues of great variety and complexity. Moreover, the comments of the Commissioner of Taxation were, in view of tha nature of the subject matter, necessarily voluminous. The numerous questions which arise for consideration need close study and to assist in this matter the Government has appointed a former commissioner, Mr. J. D. O’sullivan, as special consultant to the Treasury. Mr. O’sullivan has already commenced his studies of the problems raised by the committee’s recommendations.
We still do not know when the Government intends to bring down the promised legislation. Do not forget that although the Treasurer earlier gave an undertaking to introduce legislation which would be retrospective to 17th August, 1961 - the date when the report was first tabled - there is also a later and amended commitment to apply the legislation as from the taxation year ending 30th June next. Unless the legislation is brought down very soon it is most likely that a further reprieve will be granted by the Government to those people who were referred to by the committee as tax dodgers. Those tax dodgers are not the ordinary workers in industry, because the worker is covered by what is known as the pay-as-you-earn system. The worker cannot defraud the Taxation Branch because his tax is taken from him at the source - by his employer. The tax dodgers to whom the committee was referring are the wealthy interests in this country. According to the committee, they have been deliberately evading their responsibilities to the extent of £14,500,000 a year, so that every year they can get this Government to co-operate and to delay the introduction of this legislation means that they are saving at least £14,500,000 and defrauding the Commonwealth of its just tax returns.
What are the complexities to which the Treasurer now refers? Evidently they did not exist on 17th August, 1961, when he tabled the report in this Parliament, because on that occasion he said -
The committee has drawn attention to several parts of our income tax law which are being exploited to the serious detriment of the revenue . . The Government shares the concern of the committee that ingenious taxpayers should make use of the existing provisions in a manner not intended by the legislature, thus obtaining advantages at the expense of their fellow taxpayers . . . The Government will in due course bring down amending legislation which will be operative from to-day’s date; that is, the date of tabling the committee’s report.
At that time the Treasure was perfectly satisfied with the committee’s findings. There were no complexities. In fact, he referred to the clarity of the report and the precision with which the committee members had been able to approach the matter. The complexities arose later. There is no doubt in the world that the Treasurer has been approached by wealthy interests in this community and asked not to introduce the legislation or at least to delay its introduction. The present state of affairs warrants the closest examination by every person in this House who believes in clean government.
– May I reply first to the last statement by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) which was, in effect, an accusation that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was refraining from introducing legislation relating to some taxation reforms recommended by a committee because pressure had been brought to bear on him by outside influences. The honorable gentleman’s statement is not correct. As the Treasurer has announced already, he has appointed the former Commissioner of Taxation to consider some of the more difficult problems which have been raised. As soon as that gentleman has considered thoroughly all the problems involved and has reported on them to us, we shall be only too happy to consider his report and to make a decision on his recommendations. Having made our decision we shall tell the House what we propose to do.
Having said that, let me turn now to the much more interesting things that the honorable gentleman said about the waterfront. Two weeks ago my colleague, the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden), proposed for discussion in this place a matter of urgent public importance, for the express purpose of flushing out the Opposition and ascertaining where it stood in relation to the Communist element on the waterfront. The Communist element found a very conscientious advocate for its cause in the honorable member for East Sydney. To that extent we achieved our purpose. We found where the honorable gentleman stood as between the Communist element and the remainder of the community. To-day in the House he continued his activities on behalf of the Communist element.
On the waterfront there is a division between administrative responsibility and arbitral responsibility. First, there is the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority which is responsible for manning the waterfront and for seeing that ships have a proper allocation of waterside workers. The authority, along with the employers, is held responsible for the efficient handling of cargo. In other words, it has the responsibility of seeing that efficiency on the waterfront is kept at the maximum practicable level. Then there is the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission which has the responsibility of settling industrial disputes or, to state the position a little more accurately, of preventing disputes from arising and, when they do arise, of settling them. We have the mechanism for settling disputes. In my opinion, it is an effective mechanism, which, if applied and used by the Waterside Workers Federation and by the shipowners, will prevent strikes.
The award made by Mr. Justice Ashburner contains a clause which enjoins the Waterside Workers Federation from being a party to strikes on the waterfront. Mr. Justice Ashburner has told the waterside workers that they have access to the board of reference. If they feel the need to appeal, they can approach him and he will listen to their representations. The mechanism which now exists, if properly applied, will prevent strikes from occurring. If the men feel such a step is necessary, they have access to the Arbitration Commission. I am prepared to say in relation to the Arbitration Commission, and particularly of the presidential member concerned with the waterfront, that whenever I have considered a dispute that has gone before him and in relation to which he has made a decision, whether for or against the waterside workers, I have come to the conclusion that, by and large, he has given due consideration to the claims and has dealt with them on the basis of justice and fairness to the waterside workers. He has treated them fairly. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. As mentioned to the House the other day, the total average weekly earnings of waterside workers have increased from £16 10s. in 1953-54 to £21 10s. to-day. In addition, as honorable members know, waterside workers do not work exceedingly long hours.
The honorable member for East Sydney then dealt with the wool dispute. This matter illustrates perfectly why it is unnecessary to have a port stoppage and to hold up cargoes. The honorable gentleman said that this matter was taken first to the board of reference and then on appeal to the commission. The presidential member who deals with matters affecting the waterfront decided the dispute substantially in favour of the Waterside Workers Federation, and varied the award. He stated that in certain circumstances, when the bales are more than three high and a fork-lift truck is used, four men will man the breaking down, snottering, hooking on and the clearing of the cargo. I can think of no better illustration than that of the way in which the mechanism should be applied. The men had the right of access to arbitration but the Sydney officials of the Waterside Workers Federation preferred to pull on a strike and hold up the operation of the port for some time. They finally went to arbitration and obviously received what they regarded as justice because there has not been a strike or evidence of any dissatisfaction over this issue since then.
– Some of the men might have been killed if the matter had not been decided in their favour.
– If you have ever seen the actual operation, you will admit that a lot of this work can be done by one person. I have noted your statement about the snottering and dismantling of bales. The point is that the mechanism was there to be used. There was no need to hold up cargoes. The honorable gentleman’s argument is a perfect argument for a ban clause in the award. If the workers want justice, they should go to the commission. It has proved itself in the past to be impartial and, as to the wool bale dispute, its decision was so just that no similar problem has arisen since.
If the regular procedure were followed instead of strikes being used as a direct means of obtaining the federation’s objective, I am certain that not only would the waterside workers receive far more substantial wages than they have received in the past but also that there would be a much faster despatch of cargoes from the ports of Sydney and Melbourne. Why do the men not go to arbitration? I think that the reason they do not go to arbitration is that some of the officials of the federation do not want them to do so.
– The honorable member says, “ Rubbish “. He is a little out of contact with Norman Docker. Apparently he is receiving his advice from another official. During the last two weeks, there have been reports that Norman Docker has said that the policy of the Waterside Workers Federation is not to resort to arbitration. I do not think that that is the policy of the federation. That statement has been made by Docker, not by the president, Mr. Beitz, not by the general secretary and not by Mr. Roach, the assistant general secretary. Docker is the industrial officer of the federation. Formerly he was not an elected official, but he now is. We must remember that when he states that the federation does not want arbitration but wants direct action. That is the method that the Communist Party of Australia wants to adopt in order to promote class disputes, thereby hoping to create industrial chaos in this country.
– Is this man, Docker, a Communist?
– I do not want to go so far as to say, on the floor of this House, that Docker is a Communist. I think that many recognized him as a Communist. But he was not until recently an elected official of the Waterside Workers Federation. As an industrial officer of the federation, Mr. Docker was not elected as are the other officials. As an individual, he does not quite fit into the waterfront scene, because he is a type of intellectual who is a different type to Roach, and his ilk. So I do not want to apply the term “ Communist “ to Docker at the moment.
– The Minister went awfully close to doing so.
– I may have gone close to doing so.
The second point that I want to mention relates to port stoppages and the forfeiture of holiday pay by a man who has been involved in a port stoppage or who, if you like, has been suspended from work the day before or the day after a public holiday.
The honorable member for East Sydney knows that for a long time the rule was that if a man was suspended the day before or the day after a public holiday he did not receive pay for that public holiday. I think honorable members will agree that that is a just penalty in the waterfront industry. No other industry in the whole of Australia is so indisciplined as is the waterfront industry. Last month, 150,000 man-hours were lost. In the preceding four months, as the honorable gentleman has recognized, the maximum loss in any month was 16,000 man-hours and the minimum fewer than 3,000 man-hours. That proves two things. It proves, first, that there is no need for strikes, and, secondly, that the men do not want them but are pulled out on strike by the officials of the Sydney and Melbourne branches of the Waterside Workers Federation. I am certain that if it were not for the penalties, the mavericks in the Communist Party and on the waterfront would run riot and that cargoes would not be cleared throughout the Australian waterfront.
Referring to the Anzac Day issue, the honorable member for East Sydney used the expression “ hostages “. I agree with my colleague, the honorable member for Bruce, that that is a typical Communist term. It has no sensible meaning. As I have said, a man who was suspended the day before or the day after a public holiday would not receive pay for the holiday. However, owing to a change in the law, a man can now lose his attendance money for four days instead of being suspended. Therefore, the logical conclusion is that a man who, because of a port stoppage, has lost his attendance money, but not been suspended, the day before or the day after a public holiday should not receive pay for the holiday. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority is responsible for the efficiency of the waterfront. That organization, not guided by, and not in consultation with, this Government, but acting as an independent authority, decided in its wisdom that in this instance those men who forfeited their attendance money on either 24th April or 26th April should not be paid for Anzac Day.
– But they worked.
– They forfeited their attendance money.
– They worked.
– They did not work on the public holiday. The point that I want to make here is something that has been known since 1961 to every sensible person and every sensible official on the waterfront: A man who is suspended or who loses attendance money the day before or the day after a public holiday is not paid for that public holiday.
The loss of holiday pay on this occasion is due to a palpable error, as I said yesterday, by the officials of the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers Federation. The strike was, unfortunately, called on 23rd April - two days before the public holiday - and the men lost their attendance money on the 23rd. Normally, that would not occur, because the officials know full well that they dare not pull the men out on a frivolous strike if the men are likely to lose £9 2s. 6d. - £3 9s. 6d. in pay and £5 13s. in attendance money. The fault in this instance was that of the officials and of no one else.
I want to make one point clear, because I think that it is of critical importance. On the waterfront, the men do not, after all, usually lose money in this way. They make good their apparent losses at a later stage, and sometimes better their apparent losses by working at two and one-half times normal rates of pay on Sundays. This is because cargo that is not cleared to-day has to be cleared soon after. Therefore the men get their pay, although the period taken to earn it may be a little longer than otherwise woud have been the case. The point of critical importance that I want to make is that although the men may appear immediately to lose money, they do not lose it in the long run, and there are secondary effects of great importance on the waterfront. The actions of the men are driving cargoes, particularly interstate and intra-state cargoes, from the waterfront to the airlines, the railways and road transport. This represents a real threat to the existence of the Waterside Workers Federation as an effective and viable organization.
The honorable member for East Sydney mentioned what is sometimes described as the increase in productivity on the waterfront. Let me tell him precisely that the increase in performance - we shall hear more about this in the next few weeks and I do not want to compromise in any way the discussions that are to take place - has come mainly from mechanization and the adoption of roll-on, roll-off techniques, palletization and container packaging. The improvement has been due more to those factors than to other causes. I believe that the men themselves must get some of the benefits - and perhaps substantial benefits - from mechanization and the handling of cargoes by the new techniques, but I cannot admit that, in the existing conditions on the waterfront, the men ought to receive substantial benefits until they prove to the satisfaction of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission that they are entitled to those benefits. I emphasize that point, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I wish to mention only one other matter. I know of no other industry that is as turbulent as this one is. I have told the House that I believe the existing machinery is satisfactory. Arbitration should be permitted to work. If the leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation will allow arbitration to work, two things will happen. First, the men will receive better wages and work under better conditions, and, secondly, our cargoes will be cleared much more quickly.
Lastly, Sir, I want to answer the final argument put by the honorable member for East Sydney, who said that I cannot argue that the men have not abided by the decision that they made in June of last year, I think, to co-operate and not to strike. My answer to that statement is in clear terms: The Waterside Workers Federation gave me an assurance that it would cease the stoppages if there was conciliation on the waterfront and that differences between the men and management, if they could not be settled by negotiation, would be settled by recourse to arbitration. That assurance was given by both the federation and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. For four months, the federation lived up to its promises, and there is no reason why it should not live up to them now. The conditions of its members have been improved. They now get their long-service leave without any tags. I personally believe that the A.C.T.U. has a responsibility to compel the Waterside Workers Federation to stand by the assurance that it gave to me in June last year. However, I am glad to see the honorable member for East Sydney flushed out. He obviously obtained his information not from Mr. Charlie Fitzgibbon, the secretary of the federation, but from some other members of the federation opposed to the rank and file, opposed to the Australian Labour Party representatives within the executive of the federation. I think the honorable member for East Sydney displays a deplorable state of mind in being prepared to support constant stoppages on the waterfront and to do his best to see that cargoes bank up and that our international trade is disrupted.
.- The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) resorts to the age-old dodge of trying to divert attention from the merits of the case put forward by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) on behalf of the most victimized set of workers in Australia, the waterside workers, by dubbing the honorable member a Communist. Nothing could be more disgraceful than for the Minister to adopt such tactics.
– And now he is leaving the chamber.
– Yes, he has not the courage to stay and listen to what I say. Instead, he walks out of the House. Nothing could have been more contemptible than the attitude adopted by the Minister after he had listened to an authentic account of what goes on on the Sydney and Melbourne waterfronts. Those members opposite who jeer have probably never taken the trouble to go to the waterfront and see what is actually done there. All that the Minister did was to attempt to divert attention from the case put forward by the honorable member for East Sydney by dubbing him a Communist or a fellow traveller.
These were the tactics adopted by many honorable members on the Government side before the last election, but the only one of them who came back here - and only by virtue of Communist preferences - was the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). Those people who resorted to character assassination, not only of individual members of the Labour Party but of the party itself, fell by the votes of the electors. The electors would not stand for the filthy kind of character assassination indulged in by those people who to-day are conspicuous by their absence. The honorable member for Moreton can only agree that he remains here by the grace of Communist preferences.
A good deal has been said about Anzac Day. Anzac Day is an occasion which is honoured by every section of the community. Yet the Minister rises in this House and attempts to make excuses for people who have deprived the waterside workers of their pay for that day and have imposed penalties on them. Suffice it to say that if there had been no merit in the waterside workers’ case the president of the returned servicemen’s league in New South Wales would not have come to their assistance. He saw merit in their case. Let me remind the House that it is not so very long since the waterside workers and other members of the community were called heroes for what they were doing when they offered their lives in defence of this country. On both the home front and the war front there were no people who made greater contributions than the waterside workers.
There was another noticeable feature of the way in which the Minister tried to destroy the value of the arguments of the honorable member for East Sydney. He was asked: “What was Docker? Was he a Communist? “ He said - oh, so sanctimoniously - “ I would not like to say that about Docker. He is not a member of the Waterside Workers Federation, but he may be a Communist.” At the same time the Minister is prepared to suggest - although he was not game to say it outright - that the honorable member for East Sydney is a Communist because he rises in defence of the workers.
This is the kind of tirade that we always hear when any one stands up, whether in this House or on the hustings outside, and puts a case for the under-privileged, for the workers. The policies of this Government have never given anything to the worker, nor have those of any other governments or persons of the same political flavour. The workers have had to fight tooth and nail for every privilege they have obtained. The Minister talked about what the Australian Council of Trade Unions should do, but let me tell him that the great majority of the unions in Australia look upon the fight that the waterside workers are putting up as their fight. At one time it was the coal-miners who were always referred to as Communists and disrupters and destroyers of the economy. They were the ones who were always under attack. Today it is the waterside workers. The trade unions of this country realize that if the waterside workers’ union is pauperized by the penalties which this Government is prepared to impose upon them because they are putting up a fight for their rights, and if they are thus beaten, then each and every one of the other trade unions will be beaten too. Do not get it into your heads that the waterside workers stand alone in the trade union movement. Every trade unionist who values his rights, who values the privileges he has had to fight for over the years, is behind the waterside workers, because he realizes that if they are beaten he is beaten too.
I wish now to make some reference to housing. Among other things, the measure before the House refers to an amount of £300,000 as being available for eligible organizations for the construction of homes for aged persons. It also mentions an amount of about £2,500,000 for immigration purposes. I wish to direct my attention to matters relevant to these items. This debate has been notable so far, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for the unwillingness of honorable members opposite to discuss matters of great concern to this country, and particularly to the man in the street. As I have said, mention is made in the Additional Estimates of an amount of £300,000 as a contribution towards the construction of homes for the aged. No doubt the Government regards this as a magnificent contribution, but let us examine the position.
In Victoria the Housing Commission is holding applications from more than 2,000 elderly persons for housing accommodation. There are also more than 500 applications from married couples, principally pensioners. These applications were lodged as long ago as 1956. In other word’s, the applicants have been waiting for as long as seven years. I understand that the position in Sydney and in other capital cities is similar or even worse. The majority of the applicants are receiving age pensions, which are their sole source of income, and, to the discredit of this Government, they are living in conditions which should not be tolerated in any civilized community, and are paying for that accommodation rent9 that are beyond their means. Every honorable member on this side of the House believes that the Commonwealth Government is disregarding the pathetic circumstances of these people and that the Department of Social Services is shirking its responsibility.
In order to try to overcome this problem and to assist those aged people, the Victorian Housing Commission has appealed to municipalities. To their credit, they have responded particularly well to that appeal. The policy is that a council should donate an area of land and agree to maintain the gardens and to donate each year a sum of money equivalent to half the municipal rates applicable to the property. The Housing Commission builds Darby and Joan units at a cost of £2,500 each, and units for single people at a cost of about £2,000 each. The commission manages the estate and charges a rental of 14s. 6d. a week for a single unit and 29s. 6d. a week for a double unit. The full economic rental of those units would be between 50s. and 65s. a week. So the commission is subsidizing the rentals by about £100 per annum per unit. In order to induce councils to cooperate, the commission gives councils the right to nominate the tenants, who are usually selected from applicants resident within the appropriate municipalities.
It is interesting to consider just how far this additional appropriation of £300,000 will go and what a magnificent contribution it is. The Victorian Housing Commission has already constructed approximately 1,850 units for pensioner couples and single women. The subsidy on the rentals of those units exceeds £100,000 per annum. In order to house the people on the long waiting list at present, 2,500 units would be required. Those units would involve a capital cost of £5,250,000. That would also increase the annual rental subsidy by £250,000. Of course, that is conditional on the councils providing the land on which the units could be erected. So, you will see, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the £300,000 that the Government is providing in these Additional Estimates will pay for only the rental subsidy in Victoria. When the amount is spread over the whole of Australia it is infinitesimal. Appeal after appeal has been made to the Government on this matter without success.
The Government has an arrangement with church and like bodies which raise money by public appeal. It subsidizes them on the basis of £2 for £1. But that assistance hardly makes a ripple on the surface because the religious and similar bodies have a limited capacity to handle the maintenance and management of such aged people’s institutions. On the other hand, investigation reveals that a number of elderly people like to be free from religious tags and do not like to be bound by the rules and regulations that are customary in institutional housing. Furthermore, elderly people have not the money that is needed to acquire a flat or unit from the institutional authorities. It is true, as the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) said yesterday in his contribution to this debate, that a person needs between £1,500 and £1,800 to obtain one of these units. Elderly people, including pensioners, have not that sort of money. Consequently, they cannot participate in the scheme.
The worst feature of this matter, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is that under the Victorian Housing Act accommodation must be allocated first of all to people with a number of children. In effect, preference must be given to families. In addition to the 2,500 elderly people wanting homes, more than 12,000 families are waiting for accommodation. So, if the act is complied with, elderly folk cannot receive much consideration until the families have been housed.
The information that I have given highlights and exposes just how little this Government is doing in regard to housing the aged people. The amount of £300,000, if given to Victoria alone, would be insignificant in comparison with the £5,250,000 that is needed to erect homes for elderly folk. In fact, the distribution of £300,000 throughout the Commonwealth for homes for the aged is an insult to the people on the sunset trail. It is a classical example of the callous attitude that the Government has to (ho plight of our unfortunate aged citizens. rais is the thanks that they receive in their declining years for their contribution to the development of this nation. They are a section of the invisible poor to whom my colleague, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), referred last Tuesday evening. The basic human needs of the government-created, invisible poor, such as shelter, food and clothing, are things about which the Government desires not to know or worry.
The Government is trying to create an image that in this country there is prosperity unlimited. It tries to create that image in order to hide the poverty that exists not only among the aged, the sick and the unemployed, but also among the young folk who are trying to buy homes. The financial impost of buying a home these days places such a strain on the economic resources of young people that they are forced to deny themselves many of the necessities of life that they and their children must have. One has only to look at housing costs to realize that. To-day a modest brick veneer home costs approximately £4,900 or £5,000. Ten years ago a deposit of 10 per cent, of the purchase price enabled a person to secure a home. To-day the deposit required is in the vicinity of 35 per cent, of the purchase price - an increase of 25 per cent, in ten years. Therefore, the great majority of homeseekers have no alternative but to seek a second mortgage. Let us consider second mortgages. The average loan is about £800. At the prevailing interest rates, a person would pay about £1,400 to redeem that loan of £800. That is an impost of about 80 per cent.
Only this week I spoke to a homebuilder about this question. He revealed that his company is lending up to £1,500 at an interest rate of 10 per cent, flat, over fifteen years. That gives the company a return of £3,750. I was also informed that a survey revealed that half the wages of the homebuyer go in paying rent and hire purchase commitments. Thus, because of the responsibilities that people are compelled to accept in order to obtain a home and the responsibilities that they are compelled to undertake in order to raise a family with respect and some degree of human decency, they enter the ranks of the invisible poor. Strangely enough, the glory of all these high prices and of this prosperity unlimited is not reflected in the world of the home-builder, because in Victoria home-builders are going broke or folding up at the rate of two or three a week.
In the newspapers on Wednesday, 1st May, we were told that the number of houses and flats begun in the March quarter of this year was the second highest figure for March quarters in the history of Australia. That reads very well, but I think all decent-minded people realize the self-sacrifice to which most people will commit themselves in order to get a roof over their heads. Let me pause to look at the other side of the picture. Let us ask ourselves this question: If that rate of commencements can be obtained from the ranks of the desperate home-seekers, what would the rate be if the price of a home was reduced to a level within the human economics of the pay envelope of the worker?
Only recently I visited a new estate adjacent to my electorate. There I was shown roads and footpaths that had been constructed by a home-building company at a cost of £2,000,000. In some cases water, electricity and sewerage had also been supplied at the expense of the company. Of course, in the past those amenities were provided by the local government authority through the medium of loan funds. The cost of construction was repayable to the councils by the ratepayers over fifteen years at the ruling rate of interest - which to-day would be about 5i per cent. - and on a sliding scale. But what is the position to-day? For the provision of those amenities the home-building company charges 10 per cent, flat in addition to the building costs.
Those facts reveal the plight of the home-seeker. They reveal that a married couple, in order to purchase a home, must enslave themselves for 40 years and pay an amount of interest that is more than the principal of the loan. The older they get, the lower their earning capacity becomes. The best authorities in the homebuilding industry believe that in future years a terrific number of homes will be vacated. As people grow older and find they are unable to keep up the payments, many homes will revert to the housing authorities. Let me read from an article in the Melbourne “ Herald “ of 29th April last. A report from Adelaide had this to say -
Inadequate housing finance remained a major threat to the happiness of thousands of families, the chairman of the Australian Hire Purchase and Finance Conference, Mr. J. H. Partridge, said to-day.
Mr. Partridge 6aid Australia risked being labelled a country without a conscience unlesS it made an immediate and revolutionary approach to the problem of home finance. “ Thousands of young couples face almost insurmountable barriers in their desire to own their own homes”, he said. “ Present Government and commercial lending organizations are fully extended by the demand, but there is a need for a much wider source of housing finance at reasonable rates. “The gap-
This is the deposit gap that has been mentioned by the honorable member for Parkes - between the present limits of finance and the ever-rising costs of home-building is one of the key problems facing the young married couple.”
Who should know the position better than Mr. Partridge does? Yet in the face of all this criticism, the Government attempts to create the image of prosperity unlimited ..nd tells the people that all is well in the building industry. But these are the undeniable facts. In Victoria, building and construction employment was lower in February than it was a year earlier. Employment in the Victorian building industry was at the lowest ebb for five years. It is true to say that building activity began to improve in the last few months, but this improvement was in non-residential construction. In fact, the rate of housing construction has hardly changed in Victoria in the last six months and is still at a level lower than that in 1958, 1959 and 1960. This stagnation stems entirely from the fear of the homeseekers to involve themselves in high price, high interest rate homes. Indeed, it is true to say that finance is available if you can afford to buy it. However, many people who want to buy this finance cannot afford it.
The honorable member for Parkes mentioned literature that I brought back from West Germany. A perusal of this literature reveals just how puny are the efforts being made in this country to overcome the housing shortage. It reveals how little is being done in Australia to induce people to build. In West Germany marriage loans of about £A.400 are given to couples who want to build. The loan is redeemed on the arrival of the third child. In this country under this Government, the reverse position applies. The Government’s only consideration is hard cold cash, with an interest rate that cripples the home purchaser. Compare our interest rates with the interest rates of 2 per cent, on loans for home building in West Germany. Compare the efforts of the Government of West Germany, which grants marriage loans in an attempt to increase the population of the country, with the efforts of the Australian Government.
– This Government has not increased even child endowment.
– That is so. We should ask ourselves what the Government has done about child endowment increases or indeed about any other measures designed to help the man in the street. Such is the insignificance of the Government’s endeavour in this regard that the research to find what it has done would not be lengthy. It was very noticeable that in West Germany there was prosperity unlimited. There was a shortage of 600,000 tradesmen. There was a great movement of labour from Italy and Spain to West Germany in particular.
This brings me to a consideration of our immigration policy. The “ Daily Telegraph” of 19th February last contained the following report -
Italian tradesmen who migrate are choosing Common Market countries rather than Australia, an Italian diplomat said yesterday. . . .
He said there were now plenty of jobs in Italy. “For those who cannot get jobs in Italy, the other Common Market countries offer employment which does not mean moving so far from family and home. . . .
The conditions prevailing in Australia now have become known throughout the world and in consequence people do not migrate here. We commit a sin against intending migrants by exaggerating the good conditions that can be found in Australia. To ask a person to come to Australia from West Germany and to live in the hostels we provide would be an insult.
The answer to most of the problems of this country can be found in the revival of the building industry. Good housing promotes good citizenship. Action must be taken to bridge the deposit gap. Interest must be brought to the level of the pay envelope and land prices must be reduced. The home-building industry is the hub upon which our economy revolves and not until this industry is revived to its fullest capacity will this country show any marked recovery from the drastic and damaging economic measures of the Government. The clearance of slums and the building of flats is a great step forward, but to the slum-dweller it is a tragedy in many respects. Not able to meet the rents of the new buildings, the slum-dwellers are compelled to look elsewhere. They become, as the honorable member for Parkes said, a section of the invisible poor. For them and for others I have mentioned to-day much could be done if only the Government had the desire and the will to do it. It is true that we have our invisible poor, the forgotten people. They are the recipients of the down-grade standard of living which the policies of this Government engender. A glaring example of this is the penalties the Government allows to apply against the most victimized group in Australia, the waterside workers.
.- In this debate on bills to provide funds to make up excess expenditure in this financial year and to provide supply for the first five months of the next financial year, honorable members may discuss many matters. I wish to speak primarily about the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and briefly about taxation.
The telephone system suffered during the war years because of a shortage of materials and the need to throw every effort into the war machine. After the war, it took the department a number of years to overcome the backlog of telephone installations. I do not cast any blame on any previous administration for that state of affairs. It resulted from the situation in which we found ourselves at the end of the last war. I pay great credit to the department, the departmental officers and the various Ministers who have been in charge of the department since that time for the remarkable growth that has taken place, for overcoming the backlog of telephone installations and for tackling a very much greater problem that resulted from the improved financial position of the people and the improved economic condition of Australia as a whole.
The department has tackled the problem of meeting a demand for telephone services that probably was not even thought of in pre-war years. Figures will show that in the last decade remarkable progress has been made and we will soon have a telephone service that will be the admiration of other postal departments throughout the world. I direct the attention of the House to the “Financial and Statistical Bulletin” produced by the Postmaster-General’s Department and dated 30th June, 1962. The figures give an indication of the amazing growth of the department’s services, but in spite of that amazing growth there is still a very strong demand for telephone services in both metropolitan and country areas. From 1952 to 1962 services to telephone subscribers virtually doubled. Trunk line channels brought into operation have more than doubled. This means considerably more to country people than would be appreciated by persons living in cities and big towns. Some years ago one of the great problems we encountered related to trunk line services. If one wanted to ring a country town, a wait of two or three hours was not uncommon. I venture to say that to-day within a quarter of an hour virtually any town within a State can be contacted, so the department is well entitled to be proud of what it has done.
A problem arises from the proposal that within a reasonable period one will be able to telephone, by automatically dialling, any subscriber within Australia, and probably overseas. Some persons say: “ We do not particularly want that. We want to have good contact in our own locality.” That is fair enough, but it is fine that the department is looking to the provision of automatic connexion between all telephone subscribers in the Commonwealth within a comparatively short time. To achieve this, it is first necessary that individual telephone services be automatic. While some of the larger towns and cities are entirely served by automatic services, other large towns are only partly served by automatic telephones, and some smaller towns are not to served at all.
An important link which remains to be provided is that with the individual subscriber who lives out of town. Speaking as the representative of a country area, I know the great problem associated with this. We have many old telephone lines, many party lines and many manual exchanges, and until these can be brought to the stage of automatic working it will be very difficult to provide completely automatic installations in the towns, lt is necessary that town exchanges have both an automatic section and a manual section, which naturally is inefficient. Until all exchanges in country areas can be brought to automatic working, the ideal that the department has in view cannot be fully realized. In the meantime, it is doubling up - in some instances, trebling - on trunk line services, and introducing more efficiency into their operation. The House should give high credit for what has been done, not only to the Minister and the department but also to every one connected with this gigantic undertaking.
A problem arises in relation to nonofficial post offices in country areas, which depend upon some person who has other means of livelihood to keep open a telephone service for eight, ten, twelve or fifteen - probably not very many more - subscribers who are dependent upon him for their contact with the towns where they do their business and from which they receive medical attention. They rely upon this service for contact between their homes and the parent exchange in the town. As long ago as 1949, before I entered the House, people came to me to say that the exchange operator at such and such a place was giving the job away and that it was proposed to move the telephone lines a couple of miles away to another property, the owner of which would take over the exchange. These people said that they did not like it and would like me to see whether I could do something about having them connected by individual lines to the parent exchange. My impression at the time was that the man who proposed to take over the new exchange would not last twelve months. I expressed that view to the department, but it went ahead and shifted these lines 2 miles away to the other property. It then ran a trunk line from there to the town. Within twelve months, this man had given the game away and the department had to do what it might have done in the first place, namely, run individual lines to the parent exchange.
This is all too common. Unfortunately, where non-official exchanges are 15 or 20 miles out of town, it becomes a very expensive matter to provide individual services, so departmental policy is to connect people to a non-official exchange and run a number of trunk lines to the parent exchange. I have said in this House before, and I repeat, that this is going back to the horse and buggy days. Only the other day I had a complaint from people who had had individual subscriber services for more than 40 years and been forced, because of circumstances such as I have mentioned, to join a party line with three other persons, in one instance with four others. It is just one of those things that I cannot live with and I do not intend to live with it. The department’s reason is that the automatic exchange which would serve these people is not ready for operation. In some cases there is a very good reason for transferring persons temporarily to a party line service.
A few days ago I had a case in which a telephone attendant was giving up the job and subscribers were confronted with the proposition of joining a party line. The explanation given to me was that in that locality the rural automatic exchange, when established, would be in another direction, and that if the department built individual lines from the non-official exchange to the parent exchange, there would be duplication when the automatic exchange operated, because a line would have to be built in the opposite direction. The department therefore proposed to connect the subscribers temporarily to a party line, which would overcome the problem until the rural automatic exchange was installed. That is fair enough, but the fact remains that these people may have to wait four or five years before the rural automatic exchange is installed. The reasons lie in the shortage of money at the command of the department for increasing rural automatic exchange installations in country areas. This causes a reaction along the line. Not only is the local, non-official exchange not replaced by a rural automatic exchange, but also the town to which the rural auto matic exchange should be connected is not being provided with an automatic exchange, although in some instances a building has already been provided for it. I know that some of my colleagues can cite instances from their own electorates of buildings being ready for automatic exchanges, but it is not sensible to install the exchanges until full automatic working can be provided. This difficulty arises at a number of small country exchanges. At this time, just before the Budget is to be considered, I make a strong plea that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department be provided with adequate funds to put these installations in country areas and so give people who are battling so hard against adversity of many kinds a communication facility of a satisfactory standard instead of the party line system of the old horse-and-buggy days which I had to put up with for many years.
– The poor old cocky.
– The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith says, “The poor old cocky “. I do not think he says it with much sincerity. I point out that he is not backward in coming forward with requests for wage justice for the workers, for social justice, and so on. Of course, that is his job. I am simply asking that reasonable communication facilities be provided for people who live in the outback parts of Australia. Those people contribute so much to the wealth and prosperity of Australia by increasing our export potential, and they are thus responsible also for so many of the imports that we enjoy, because they are prepared to live in the outback parts and put up with the disabilities from which we all know they suffer. This is a very simple matter. It would not cost a great deal. For obvious reasons, I am not able to say what the cost would be; but in view of the few centres involved in each electorate the cost would not be great. Rural automatic telephone exchanges should be installed immediately in those places where the present telephone exchange officer is likely to go out of business.
Often, when we complain about these things, the department says that it is open to any subscriber connected with the parrticular exchange to take over the running of the exchange. That is quite unrealistic.
To start with, the exchange is usually on private property. The individual who owns the property lives there and sets aside a room in his dwelling for use as a telephone exchange or post office. He cannot very well make that room available to somebody else to use during the hours when the exchange should be working. If the exchange is to be removed to some other subscriber’s property all lines connected to it must be moved to the new situation; and it is possible that in twelve months’ time the new exchange keeper might decide to give up the job, in which event further alterations would have to be made. The only solution of the problem appears to be the establishment of more and more automatic telephone exchanges in country districts.
That brings me to the Treasurer’s part in dealing with this problem. When a new telephone exchange goes into operation an attempt is usually made to build up the standard of the line and give better service. As evidence of this I need only refer to the line that I did not enjoy but had to put up with for so many years. Not only did we find it difficult to hear, but, if a tree fell anywhere near the line or near r>. post, the service would probably be disrupted for a day or so. The idea to-day is to install telephone lines in accordance with high standards so they will not be affected by interference from power lines running throughout the district, which was another disability we had to put up with in the past. The aim to-day is to build the lines to such a standard that the automatic exchange will not be subject to the same failures and difficulties that were experienced with manual exchanges in the past.
In many cases the cost of installing a line is expensive. First, the line itself must be of copper and the posts used to support the line must be durable. The whole job has to be done in a workmanlike way. I have no quarrel with that, but I emphasize that the individual who has to erect a line beyond the distance to which the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is prepared to erect its section finds the cost very high. Some people have told me that they are faced with a cost of from £400 to £500 for a telephone line. My colleague, the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimble combe), tells me that some of his constituents find that it will cost them £1,000 to install a new telephone line. Perhaps that is not a great cost compared with that of other forms of communication, such as motor cars and so on; but it is the accumulation of all these various items of cost that really ruins the man on the land. Let me quite my own experience in connexion with the installation of an automatic exchange not very far from my property. In the first place, I was required to give away the old line, which I did willingly for the benefit of being connected to a rural automatic exchange. I think it cost four of us between £500 and £600 to be connected to the new exchange. We get no consideration from the Taxation Department for that expenditure at all. We are not allowed to claim any depreciation allowance for that type of thing, and I now ask the Treasurer to give consideration to granting a depreciation allowance in respect of the installation of telephones in country areas.
– I think you are quite right.
– That is a perfectly reasonable proposition. The people are dependent upon the telephone for their daytoday needs. They depend upon it for their communication with a doctor and for the conduct of their general business. Often there is no other way by which they can do these things, and it is only reasonable to suggest to the Treasurer that he give serious consideration to my proposition. I sincerely hope he will agree to it.
While speaking of taxation, I should like to bring another matter to the Treasurer’s notice. It relates to the assessment of provisional tax on mixed incomes. With straight incomes, whether they be salaries or wages, or whether they be income from business, there is no great problem, although I do understand that there is more collected by way of provisional tax than is ultimately levied in normal tax at the end of the relevant year. I have heard of many people who are always receiving rebates of tax, which would indicate to me that they have paid more provisional tax than is really required. But there is a great problem associated with mixed incomes. First, the department makes an assessment of the provisional tax which shall be paid, and I understand there is virtually no appeal against that assessment. The commissioner is given a discretion as to how he shall assess provisional tax, and I have been given the formula he uses. When it is carefully analysed, the formula does mean something, but it is not very clear at first glance.
The formula used is to deduct from the gross tax payable on the total taxable income an amount equal to the tax due in respect of the net salaries and wages after deducting concessional amounts. Let me try to clarify that provision. It simply means that in the case of a person in receipt of a salary or wage, the provisional tax is laid down in a schedule, but where he has an additional income a further process is involved. I suppose every honorable member might come within this category, although I emphasize that I am making no appeal on behalf of honorable members. I simply mention them by way of illustration. Where the mixed income consists of income from a wage or salary plus some additional income, the rate which would normally be the basis of the provisional tax for the salary or wage is increased because of the addition in income. Having assessed the total tax payable on the total taxable income, the amount which would normally be taxable as the salary or wage portion of the income is taken out and the balance becomes the amount upon which provisional tax must be paid, because the provisional tax relating to the salary or wage is deducted periodically.
This may seem to be quite all right, but it has a rather surprising effect. Two cases of the effect of this system were brought to my notice recently. The first was that of a person who said that, having paid the provisional tax in one year, he found at the end of that year that after having submitted the normal statement of income he was required to pay a further £9 10s. 6d. But then the Commissioner of Taxation assessed provisional tax for the following year at £34. I think the person in question had worked only for wages for a number of years and then because he had received a little inheritance or something of the kind he came into the category of persons in receipt of mixed incomes. As I have said, although the difference between the provisional tax and the amount assessed was only £9 10s. the provisional tax for the following year was £34. That is a rather bitter pill for person who is in receipt of only a small income. The department should be allowed to be more flexible in its approach to such cases.
Another assessment which was sent to me showed that the taxpayer had to pay a difference of £95 between the amount of provisional tax and the final assessment for the year. In addition, he was required to pay provisional tax amounting to £185 for the following year. These are matters which the Treasurer should look into. Admittedly they are matters of administration, but this is a suitable time at which to bring them to his notice.
The payment of death duties is always a matter of great concern. I refer to not only Commonwealth death duties but also State probate duties. I have nothing to say about State probate duties because they are the responsibility entirely of the State governments. The Commonwealth Government should give a lot of consideration to the problem of paying death duties, particularly on the estates of deceased farmers. In most cases the entire estate is vested in the property. Very often a son who has helped his father during his lifetime has looked forward to taking over the property but to meet death duties has been forced to sell the property, to go out of business and to find a job elsewhere. That sort of thing does great injury to primary producers and to our primary producing effort. In some cases the effect is even worse. I have in mind small breeders of sheep who have built up a flock. Those men are faced with the problem of putting aside sufficient money during their lifetime to cover the payment of death duties. Nowadays, when it is not easy to get finance, it is not uncommon for such people to invest all their liquid assets in their farms. Very often upon their death it is necessary to sell the properties to pay for the death duties.
Although this matter is a hardy annual I again ask that it be given the greatest consideration as being one of the problems which affect our primary industries. Any relief which could be given would be greatly appreciated and would be of great advantage to the nation. In my own locality just recently a father died and his son died shortly afterwards. What was left of the estate after the duties were paid was negligible. A widow and a child only a few months old were left. The whole property had to be sold to pay Commonwealth death duties and State probate duty.
I hope that the Postmaster-General’s Department will be accorded the greatest consideration when the Estimates for the next financial year are being prepared. I hope that efforts will be made to increase the number of rural automatic exchanges so that ultimately we shall have a telephone service in Australia of which we may be proud. Really, we are proud of the existing service, but it is in need of that extra assistance to which 1 have referred.
.- The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) has raised a rather plaintive cry about the problems of the Postmaster-General’s Department and, in particular, the provision of telephones and country telephone exchanges. I think the honorable member has overlooked the fact that the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson), who has the responsibility of ensuring the provision of these facilities for the public, is a member of the Australian Country Party. I suggest that the honorable member for Lawson should first make representations to the Postmaster-General and ask him to submit these matters to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) when the Estimates are being prepared. There is a shortage of telephone services not only in country areas but throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Wherever you go you find that people have been waiting for many years for a telephone to be installed. I have applied for automatic exchanges in towns in my own electorate. The town of Richmond, which has more than 460 subscribers, still has a manual exchange, lt is a shocking thing that to-day, seventeen years after the last war, when surely all shortages should have been overcome, we still lack these telephone services. I again suggest to the honorable member for Lawson that he should see the Postmaster-General, who is a member of his own party and is responsible for the existing state of affairs, about having the matter rectified.
To-day the Government and the various departments are considering the Estimates for the next financial year. I should like to take advantage of this opportunity to make an appeal on behalf of civilian widows. Of all the social problems which face this country and which this Parliament has a responsibility to remedy the plight of the civilian widow is the most serious. A widow with three children has to live on only £7 a week. This is the most distressing of all the problems which come before me. I realize that this matter is not a votewinner, because the number of civilian widows is very small indeed when compared with the total number of pensioners and the population as a whole. Nevertheless, it is a problem which affects the social conscience and which this Government should face up to. Quite a lot of good would be done if we, as men in our thirties, forties, or fifties, were to visualize what would happen if we died and left a widow with a number of children. Let us visualize what the position would be if, during our lifetime, we had been in receipt of a comparatively small income of £20 a week, perhaps £15, or even £30. Naturally, when one is bringing up a family on that income there is very little opportunity to put aside anything for a rainy day. Accordingly these women are suddenly faced with a situation that they had no possible reason to anticipate. Keep that in mind. They are widowed without any warning, so they are suddenly faced with a very serious financial problem. Aged people are aware of approaching retirement and usually endeavour to take some action to safeguard their future, but civilian widows usually have lost their husband3 unexpectedly. There is virtually no warning of the domestic tragedy, nor any opportunity for them to take measures to guard their future. At the death of her husband, a widow might have five or six children. Immediately this family is faced with an extremely difficult financial problem which, after a period of time, becomes also a very serious social problem.
We should also keep in mind in the case of a civilian widow that there is usually only one pension coming into the house. In some other instances there is more than one pension. I was very pleased to hear yesterday from the honorable member for McMillian (Mr. Buchanan) the statement that the situation regarding war widows and civilian widows is basically the same, yet there is this disparity in their pensions. I raised this point and made a similar remark during the last sessional period. I am a returned serviceman who is more than happy that the needs of the war widows have been assessed on the basis that they are required to provide for themselves and to feed, educate and raise families. I cannot understand the logic whereby a war widow with three children receives £13 11 j. 6d. a week and a civilian widow with three children receives only £7 a week. In other words, we accept our responsibilities as a government in respect of war widows, but we are not prepared to accept our responsibilities regarding civilian widows. We give a woman with three children £7 a week upon which to live!
Is it any wonder that women so situated are finding it more and more necessary - particularly with the increasing costs that have occurred and are occurring under this Government - to go out to work and leave young children - sometimes very young children indeed - to look after themselves? A very serious social problem is involved because the children not only are deprived of their father and his influence upon the home, but also through economic necessity and the refusal of this Government to face up to its responsibilities, are deprived of their mother at a time when she should be with them, but has to go out to work.
We should look at this as a matter of social conscience, not as a vote-winner. It is not a vote-winner. Out of our population of 10,000,000, class A widow pensioners totalled only 24,584 at 30th June, 1962. Class B widow pensioners as at the same date totalled 32,157. Thus class A and B civilian widow pensioners totalled 56,741 nearly twelve months ago, a very small section of our population. The matter I have raised is a very serious social problem which must be faced and corrected by this Government.
It seems to me that we have reached the stage where Australia is one of the most backward Western countries, in terms of social services, and particularly in the field of family benefit. There is an urgent need to-day for an increase in family benefit, particularly child endowment. This is the only method which can be employed to assist the family man. To-day far too many family groups are living in poverty. We cannot overcome the problem of their poverty by awards. We cannot grant a higher wage or salary to the person who has a family. The problem can be solved only through social service benefits. We have to realize that if we wish the Australian people to have families, if we wish to ensure that those families have adequate opportunities for decent standards of living and of education, if our standards are to progress instead of declining, we must face up to our responsibility to assist civilian widows, aged people and the family by increased family benefits.
Australia is one of the most backward countries of the Western world in the provision of family benefits and social services generally. We have reached the stage where a national survey on poverty is needed. This is being done in the United States of America to-day. We do not realize the poverty that exists in this country. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 29th April, 1963, reports that a national survey carried out in the United States to establish the extent of poverty there found that poverty affects one in every five people of that nation. 1 believe that if a similar survey were carried out here to-day we would find a similar situation. For example, the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics stated that in October, 1961, adult males earning less than £18 per week totalled 127,873. I do not believe that any breadwinner earning £18 a week or less - particularly if he has children - is not poverty-stricken.
I believe we should add to that total the age and invalid pensioners who, at 30th June, 1962, totalled 691,258. We should also add the civilian widow pensioners who, at 30th June, 1962, totalled 56,836. There are also many superannuated persons and other groups in this community who are not receiving a salary, wage or allowance of some kind to give them a substantial weekly income. So there is a very real need for a national survey on poverty in Australia. I ask the Government to give serious consideration to this aspect. We need to set up a committee of inquiry so that we may obtain information about the poverty that exists in this country and awaken our national conscience on the matter. If that were done, we also would know what action we should take to correct the position.
– The Government is afraid that the findings of a committee of inquiry would cost it too much money.
– I think that the Government would be both surprised and shocked by the findings which such a committee would make. These are problems which require careful consideration by the Government, as it faces the coming Budget session.
I wish now to refer to the subject of defence. The Australian people have never in the past commenced an arms race, and I do not think they will do so in the future, but we must endeavour to be realistic, as we were in the past, particularly under Labour governments.
– Which Labour governments?
– The Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments. The Menzies Government had to abdicate its responsibilities in the middle of a war because of its inadequacy and inability to prosecute the war effort. As I have said, we must be realistic about this problem. If other countries near Australia are indulging in arms races we must take adequate precautions. It is to be hoped that the Government’s defence plans which are to be announced will provide for proper strengthening of our defences and place emphasis upon the Air Force and the Navy, the provision of adequate communications, industrial build-up and apprenticeship training, as the very basic necessities of any defence planning.
A few moments ago the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) asked, by interjection, which Labour governments had been realise about the defence of Australia. He is’ rather young and has still to learn many things. It may be educational for him if I quote a statement made by Mr. Chifley, a previous Prime Minister of Australia. On 2nd March, 1951, Mr. Chifley said -
After having weighed all the aspects, I think that compulsory military training is economically unsound. I think that Australia should build up its forces, particularly the Royal Australian Air Force, and in the Navy, submarine and antisubmarine vessels, having regard to the present trend of atom warfare by submarines.
He went on to say -
Expenditure on the Royal Australian Air Force is justified, particularly because of the relatively low drain on our resources and because of the flexibility of airborne strength.
Mr. Einfeld__ Who said that?
– That was said by Mr. Chifley, a former Prime Minister of Australia, on 2nd March, 1951. To-day, more than twelve years later, this Government is beginning to come round to a similar kind of thinking, with the realization that emphasis must be placed on the Air Force and the Navy. It has taken the Government twelve years to realize that that is the only approach which can be made in providing adequate defence for this country. Emphasis must be placed on strengthening the Air Force and the Navy in view of the geographical position of Australia and the difficulty of protecting such a vast country, with a huge perimeter and a small population. We must become a highly technical nation, with effective modern striking weapons.
I have within my electorate, Mr. Speaker, the air base at Richmond. Having had some association with the base, I cannot help but admire the dedication of the Air Force personnel there, but at the same time I can appreciate their frustration because, apart from the Neptune, they have no contemporary aircraft and they have none on order, apart from the Mirage fighters. They have the obsolete Canberras, which lack the speed and range of contemporary aircraft. The Canberra bomber should have been replaced years ago. Despite three questions by me in the last year and questions by other honorable members in this House, the matter is still being investigated. To-day, we have not a bomber aircraft which can be considered modern and which is not obsolete in terms of modern requirements for bomber aircraft. The Canberra bombers must be replaced, and it is the responsibility of this Government to get on with the job now, because some years could elapse before aircraft were delivered even if orders were placed to-day. This is a problem which must be faced realistically. This Government has not yet faced it, but it must do so in the very near future if it is not to leave our country once again, as it did before the last war, in a completely undefended state in terms of modern-day equipment.
To my mind, mere is a lack of logic in the decision of the Government, or of its employees, to dismiss female personnel at the St. Mary’s filling factory, at the time of the proposed defence build-up. I find it hard to understand why these dismissals are taking place at the munitions filling factory at a time when the Government is saying that it intends to increase defence expenditure.
– Who has said that?
– It is occurring. 1 should like to hear from the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) on this question and to have his explanation of such a contradictory set of circumstances.
I hope, Mr. Speaker, that our defence plans will place emphasis on strengthening the Air Force and the Navy. Australia may never be invaded - let us hope that it will not be - but we might well be surrounded by hostile forces. We would be unable either to import or export goods unless we have adequate air and naval defences. We have to beware of the suggestion that we cannot spend money at this period on both defence and social services.
– Which do you pick?
– I do not pick either of them. I said that we must beware of the very point you are making. I think we can do both, under the present economic set-up. Let me give my reasons for saying that. We have to-day a buoyant revenue. Our revenue is increasing. Marginal increments have just been awarded, and no doubt there are more to come. That will mean an increase in revenue. Also, for the first time for many years, because this Government has placed such a severe restriction on the economy, many members of the business community no longer have confidence in investing in the private sector of the economy.
– What nonsense!
– I shall explain in another way what I mean. Recently, we saw the first really successful Commonwealth loan for many years. I believe that, under these conditions, the bond market is steadily improving and will continue to do so. It is to be hoped that increased revenue, together with the extra finance available from the bond market, will enable the Government to provide adequate defences and to increase social service benefits, which are urgently in need of review. You have only to peruse the latest statistical surveys to see that what I have said is correct. In a few months’ time it will be apparent that receipts from revenue and loan raisings have increased. So I do not accept the suggestion that Australia cannot increase her defences and at the same time improve social services.
While dealing with this subject I should also direct attention to the lack of logic on the part of many Government supporters who suggest that the statutory limits imposed on savings banks so far as investment in housing is concerned should be raised. At present the banks are required to invest 30 per cent, of their funds in housing or similar types of securities. The remaining 70 per cent, of their deposits either has to be lodged with the Reserve Bank in the form of notes, bullion and coin or be invested in Commonwealth, State or local government securities. Honorable members opposite suggest that the limit of 30 per cent, should be increased to, say, 35 per cent. That argument is without logic because even if the limit is raised to 35 per cent, there will be no significant impact on the housing shortage. The truth is that the savings banks to-day are lending considerably less than 30 per cent, of their funds for housing purposes. The highest figure is 22i per cent, and many of the banks are lending less than 20 per cent. The reason for this condition is that the banks must support the Commonwealth loans, which in the past have not been very successful. So, the suggestion that has been put forward by honorable members is not very practical.
During the last week vast areas of New South Wales have suffered from floods. Many areas in my electorate have been affected. Districts such as Windsor and Richmond have suffered severely. This Parliament should consider setting up a committee to inquire into the possibility of establishing a national disaster insurance fund to insure farmers and other persons likely to be affected against bush fires, floods and other national disasters. This idea is not new. Something along these lines is being done in other countries. In the United States a fund of this kind is financed directly by the government. Such a fund exists in New Zealand and in 1961 it had £24,000,000 to its credit. That fund is financed by a levy of ls. on every £100 of all insurance policies. The money is set aside to meet disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and bush fires. European countries have tackled this problem and Australia must also tackle it because severe losses are inflicted on people in this country whenever there is a flood. There are severe losses of income and property, quite apart from the fact that in some instances unfortunately there is loss of life as well. I urge the Government to consider setting up a committee to inquire into the possibility of establishing a national disaster insurance fund. The committee could inquire into ways of financing the fund and the types of disasters to be covered by the fund.
I appeal to the Government to consider, when the Budget is being prepared, all the urgent problems that I have mentioned here to-day. I particularly urge the Government to give consideration to the very serious problems confronting civilian widows, families and aged persons. Remember the civilian widow! She is not a great voting force, but she faces one of the greatest social and economic problems that can confront any section of the community. It is the duty of every member of this Parliament to face up to this problem and earnestly to endeavour to ensure that civilian widows are given every opportunity to raise their children in reasonable comfort and to provide them with a good education. We must ensure that future generations of Australians will be able to look forward to living in a great Australia - a country of which they may be proud.
.- Before dealing with the matters that I wish to raise to-day I must first advert to one of the matters dealt with by the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage). He commented on what he was pleased to refer to as our lack of defence preparations. Of course, he read his speech. The person who prepared that speech is unknown to us, but 1 am certain that if his identity were made known the disclosure would be a very interesting one. It would have been a shame to let the truth spoil the honorable member’s prepared speech.
The honorable member said that if this Government does not do something about Australia’s defences the country will be left in the same shocking state as it was before the last war. I would like to quote some remarks of Mr. Curtin, that great Prime Minister who took office on 2nd October, 1941. Those of us who knew Mr. Curtin knew him as a man who never dodged the truth. Commenting on 20th October, 1941, on what the honorable member for Mitchell calls the shocking state of Australia’s defences, Mr. Curtin said -
Since assuming office, the Government has made a broad review of the situation with the Chiefs of Staff and the Commander-in-Chief, Far East.
The Navy is at the highest pitch of efficiency, as demonstrated by the notable exploits of some of its ships overseas.
The home defence army is well trained and its equipment has been greatly improved.
The strength of the Air Force has been greatly increased, both in respect of home defence squadrons and the training resources for the Empire Air Scheme. The equipment of the Air Force has also been much improved.
Finally, ammunitions production and development of production capacity over a wide range of classes, including aircraft, is growing weekly.
That comment was made by Mr. Curtin only eighteen days after he took office. Obviously, the statement made by the honorable member for Mitchell is untrue. Accordingly, it is hard to know how much of the rest of his speech may be relied on.
I want to bring to the notice of the Government an important aspect of the progress and development of our great primary producing industries. This is a subject which is referred to under many headings, but mainly it is referred to as farm management clubs. For hundreds of years expert opinion throughout the world has been that primary producing industries must be prepared to use the results of scientific research and newer and more efficient equipment, combined with the training of the people engaged in those industries, in farm management and planning. With that in view over recent years the State governments and the Federal Government have taken steps to provide funds for the establishment of extension services and the provision of extension offices. However, I think the Federal Government could show a great deal more financial interest, rather than academic interest, in extension services.
I want to refer to a report that was compiled by the Department of Primary Industry on the subject of farm management club». I should like to compliment the department on the standard of this report, which was compiled only this year. Before dealing with the report I should like to mention briefly the background of farm management clubs. They were first formed in the United States of America and are at present operating in at least five States of that country. The clubs in that country have many more members and are much larger than those in Australia, and the results obtained from their formation have been very good. New Zealand was the first country to follow suit and to encourage the formation of farm management clubs, and there are now in New Zealand eighteen clubs and 23 groups of farmers in them. The membership of the groups there is as high as it is in Australia, each group having between 35 and 50 farmers.
The Australian movement began at Bombala in 1956 - only seven years ago. Since then five clubs have been formed in New South Wales and another four are in the process of formation. South Australia has three clubs, but Western Australia has fourteen and several others in the process of formation. According to the report I received, Tasmania, Queensland and Victoria have no farm management clubs. Other figures I have show that there are 22 clubs, plus seven or eight in the process of formation, making the expected total number of 30 clubs in Australia at the end of this year. Later I shall mention some of the results that these clubs have achieved.
I have a record of the results achieved by members of the Bombala district organization and I shall enumerate a few of them. One farm - property A as it is referred to in this report - on an area of 6,000 acres in 1952, before the establishment of the farm management club, carried 6,000 sheep and 200 head of cattle, and produced 150 bales of wool. In 1961, that property carried 10,000 sheep and 900 head of cattle, and produced 400 bales of wool. Another property of an area of 1,100 acres, in 1962, carried 1,500 ewes for fat lambs and 300 cross-bred ewes, compared with 1,600 sheep in 1952, and it also carried 100 head of cattle compared with 40 in 1952. One other property to which I would like to refer has an area of 650 acres. Ten years ago it carried 700 sheep and 20 head of cattle, but now it carries 1,300 ewes and 60 head of cattle.
These results all follow one pattern. Since the formation of the farm management club in the Bombala district some properties have shown considerably more improvement than others, but all of them have shown some improvement. The farmers say that the advantages are a continuation of farm management advice, an immediate application of research findings, and immediate attention to problems and working out of solutions, technical and otherwise, of a seasonal or long-term nature. They say that consultants get to know the farms very well and that often a phone call is all that is necessary to solve some problem. The farmers say that they are able to plan for their present and future family security and that they get great assistance from their adviser in presenting a factual case to financial institutions for further short or long term advances. So it will be seen that the farmers are appreciative of the results obtained from the formation of these clubs.
Since I have been a member of the Parliament I have quite often heard criticism of the farming methods and the general set-up of primary industry in the United States of America. The most common criticism has been of price support programmes, over-production and huge surpluses in that country. We must all bear in mind that many factors can give rise to these problems in the United States of America, and I feel that sometimes people speak in a far too general manner about the state of American primary industries. The United States has an enormous primary producing industry, and my studies have shown that many of the standards and improvements achieved have resulted often in great benefit to the primary producers of Australia. The important thing to remember about these improvements, particularly in respect of machinery - not so much in respect of chemicals, because we owe more to Europe than to America on that score - and increased production in America is that these standards have been achieved with considerable government assistance over the past 100 years. Just as Australian farmers have followed the improved machinery and technical developments of the United States of America, the Australian Government should be prepared to study the legislation that has been introduced in America not merely over the last three years but over the last 50 or 70 years to see if it cannot or should not be applied to the primary producing industries of Australia. I agree that none of us wants to see the enormous price support that is given to the farmers in America, but surely, if countries other than America recognize the principle that it is necessary to support or subsidize some primary producing industries, the Australian Government must take this fact into consideration.
Let me renew the plea that I have made for the re-introduction of a subsidy on superphosphate. Many honorable members, including the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon), the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King), the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) and others of my colleagues have referred to this matter. They all recognize the importance of assisting the primary producers to counter the cost-price squeeze from which they have been suffering for many years. 1 hope that the Government will agree this year to the re-introduction of the subsidy even if it is only very small.
– At least £3 a ton.
– That seems to me to be a pretty reasonable amount.
– Are you reading from the Labour Party’s policy speech?
– If it is part of Labour Party policy we never heard of it before last year, whereas, in my experience alone, we have been raising this matter for four years. We agree that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) mentioned a subsidy on superphosphate in his policy speech, but he also mentioned everything else that he thought would be acceptable to the Australian people and would strike a harmonious note with them. In fact, his policy speech included everything except Labour’s attitude to the naval communications base at Exmouth Gulf, and that was not included because his bosses, the 36 faceless men, had not had time to decide what Labour’s attitude would be.
Let me deal now with Commonwealth assistance to the farm management clubs. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) each year receives a budget allocation of £50,000 which he may allot to special projects. Perhaps the Minister would consider sympathetically my request for a small donation, if I may call it that, to the existing farm management clubs. There are only 30 such clubs and if the Minister allotted £200 to each for a trial period of three years the total allocation would be only £6,000. That is not very much money. I suppose the clubs would devote the allocation towards meeting the salaries of the expert advisers that they employ. The strength of my request lies in the fact that if the Government made such an allocation to the farm management clubs it would show that it recognized the importance of the clubs, as the United States and New Zealand do, and was prepared to show its interest in them in a practical way. At the end of the trial period a report could be prepared showing the results of the clubs’ operations over the three years.
I recall hearing about four years ago on Mr. Douglas’s Australian Broadcasting Commission programme, “The Rural Hour “, that 50 farmers who were employing an expert consultant and 50 farmers on comparable farms who were not employing an expert adviser were selected by the United States Government for the purposes of a test. The results obtained on the two groups of farms were examined. The net income of the 50 farms which employed an expert adviser increased by 25 per cent, whereas the net income of the 50 farms which did not employ a consultant decreased by 20 per cent. That is pretty conclusive proof that the information of farm management clubs should be encouraged and that the Commonwealth Government should take not merely an academic interest but also a financial interest in the movement. If the Commonwealth Government did this the primary industries would benefit, the farmers would benefit and Australia as a whole would benefit.
.- The House is indebted to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) for his speech this afternoon in which he pointed out how unjustly the members of the Waterside Workers Federation have been treated by the Government, and how the disputes that have taken place on the waterfront clearly have been the result of extreme provocation by the Government and its supporters. The Government seems determined to cause trouble on the waterfront in the hope that it can lay the blame on the Waterside Workers Federation. To-day the honorable member for East Sydney exploded the Government’s plan. He traced the history of the waterfront step by step, dispute by dispute. He showed clearly how the waterside workers have presented a just claim which the ship owners have rejected, how waterside workers were suspended and how, when the case finally -ame before a judge - Mr. Justice Ashburner in one instance - their claims were upheld. It is sad to think that to-day the great record of our conciliation and arbitration system is being sabotaged deliberately by this Government which tries to shift the blame on to a section of the trade unions. Of course, the Government’s record is well known. It is not only the waterside workers that it is attacking. It has attacked the professional men and salaried people. I am sure that the Government’s attack on the engineers is still ringing in the ears of Government supporters. It has been clearly pointed out to them that whilst they might succeed in their blackguarding of the waterside workers they will not succeed in their attack on the engineers.
The Australian Labour Party makes it clear that when we fight we fight for all Australians. We are interested in the trade union movement which has been closely allied to us. Not only are we interested in the labourers and tradesmen but we are vitally concerned with the white collar workers. They can rely upon our support in the struggle against this Government. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) pointed out to-day that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) would not have become a member of this House but for the bank officials who supported him and others on that side of the House in the 1949 election. The bank officers have learned since who their real friend’s are. The white collar workers almost unseated the Minister for Labour and National Service in the last general election, but they will unseat a lot of honorable members opposite at the next general election because they are determined to get justice. They are determined that their rights will be given to them. They have realized, at last, that the political weapon is their best weapon to achieve this result. They are making it clear by protesting throughout the length and breadth of Australia that honorable members opposite who are denying them wage justice, be it at the wage level or the salary level, will face their organized attempt to unseat Government supporters at the next general election.
I now want to refer to the great publicity stunt that took place in this Parliament this morning when the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) rose in his place with great indignation. It was a great act. He said that he was concerned about some press report and referred to a most false and misleading article which had’ been published by that most unreliable newspaper, the “Sydney Morning Herald”. This article stated that certain members of the Australian Labour Party had gone to interview Miss Russell.
– Do you deny it?
– Of course I do not. Will you listen? Do not be misled by the honorable member who, this morning, asked a question of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth). It may be that the Minister sponsored the question. I do not know. But the report in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ stated that Miss Russell had said that she wanted to make it clear that she would not give in to any pressure.
– You said that there was not any pressure.
– I did not say it, but Miss Russell said it. The true report of this matter appeared in the Melbourne “ Sun News-Pictorial “ this morning. According to this report, Miss Russell said last night that the president of the Australian Labour Party in South Australia, the State secretary, and the State Opposition Leader, Mr. Frank Walsh, had interviewed her. The report also states that Miss Russell said last night that no pressure had been brought to bear on her not to stand as an independent. Yet a great stunt was organized in this chamber this morning in order to try, once again, to create a certain feeling in the Grey electorate in the hope that the Government might be able to catch a few votes and make it appear that its position in the country is better than it is.
Unfortunately, the by-election in the division of Grey has been brought about by the death of a very respected member of this Parliament, Mr. E. H. D. Russell, who, over the years, had served his electorate exceedingly well. He fought valiantly for rail standardization in his electorate. He never missed an occasion to lead the fight of other members of the Labour Party for this greatly desired improvement in the railway system.
Eighteen months ago the South Australian Government began litigation against the Commonwealth Government to try to force it to carry out an agreement which the Chifley Labour Government had made to complete rail standardization in the division of Grey. The present Government opposed the completion of the job. It defended the case in the High Court of Australia. It is true that the High Court gave a verdict for the Commonwealth. But the fight over this rail standardization costs thousands of pounds of the people’s money. No action would have been taken by this Government to standardize the rail gauge between Broken Hill and Port Pirie, it is sad to say, but for the death of the honorable member for Grey. During his lifetime, the Government would never accede to his request, but he continued to fight for this great work. When the Government thought that there were a few thousand votes to be gained it became prepared, overnight, to implement the plan. We all hope that the Government will implement the plan. But it can be said that, in life, Mr. Russell worked resolutely to hive the plan implemented and in death achieved the objective.
I want, now, to speak on a matter that has given me some great concern. It is the latest take-over. I am Lot referring to a take-over by big business. I think that probably the most serious problem that the Australian nation has had to face is the take-over of West New Guinea by
Indonesia - the final walk-in by Indonesia. We all remember, over a comparatively short period, the threats of invasion and the actual invasion that led up to Indonesia’s taking over Dutch New Guinea, West New Guinea or West Irian as it is now called. I suppose that we ought to call it by that name. On 1st May, yesterday, the Indonesian Government took over that portion of New Guinea which used to be known as West New Guinea. At this stage, Indonesia is taking over this territory in an administrative capacity. Plans have been made for a plebiscite of the people to be taken in 1969. I think we can take it for granted that Indonesia intends to stay in that section of New Guinea irrespective of what the native inhabitants of the country may think.
The historic act of the Indonesians taking over West New Guinea occurred on 1st May. This means that for the first time Australia has as its close neighbour, with a common border, a nation which, in a very few years, has welded itself into a very mighty and formidable military power. From now on, Indonesia and Australia will have a common frontier - a frontier mat will in future be marked by border posts instead of merely a line on a map. In the past, we have not worried over-much about that border, but now we shall have on the other side of it a country of about 100,000,000 people which, as I have said, has great potential military strength. We could almost say that it faces us across our common border.
– The potential strength is really Russian.
– I do not disagree with the honorable member about that. Indonesia’s strength has been built up by Russian arms. Perhaps this is all the more reason why we should be very serious about this matter. The fact is that to-day this mighty power is right beside us. We shall not easily become accustomed to this new situation. We have to co-operate with Indonesia, of course. We have to hold out the hand of friendship and we must give mutual assistance. We have to live with the Indonesians in New Guinea. There will be problems, of course. We plan to hand our section of New Guinea to the natives ultimately. We plan to educate them and train them to lead and to govern, and then let them decide for themselves how they shall be governed. We plan to let them control their own country. But I think it is not unfair to say that Indonesia will remain in control of the other part of the island of New Guinea.
Even before the United Nations flag was hauled down in West New Guinea and the Indonesian flag raised, we witnessed the first act of friendship, if one may so describe it, by Indonesia. The Australian people were told in no uncertain manner that their overseas airline, Qantas Empire Airways Limited, could no longer fly over West New Guinea. Let us hope that this action was not meant to be a slap in the face. It is not a very friendly approach. It is not the sort of approach that wins friends. For years, Qantas has enjoyed the right to fly over that territory and, indeed, has enjoyed the right to fly over Indonesia itself. But the Indonesians now say that Qantas must fly round their newly acquired territory. In the Sydney “ Sun “ of yesterday’s date, it was reported that the Australian Embassy in Djakarta on 24th April had handed over a request concerning the flight of a Qantas Boeing aircraft over West New Guinea, but that no reply had been received. The report went on to state that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) had said that because no reply to the request had been received a reminder had been sent
We want to be friendly with Indonesia, and we should be friendly. Indeed, we are friendly disposed towards that country, because, under the Colombo Plan, we are holding out the hand of friendship. We are doing something to help the Indonesians. But surely we are entitled to expect friendly acts in return. Surely we are entitled to expect that our overseas airliners will be allowed to travel over the Indonesian part of New Guinea.
– We are training Indonesian students.
– The honorable member’s interjection reminds me of the seven students from West New Guinea who are training in Port Moresby to enter the medical profession. Because of some criticism of the Indonesian Government, they have been ordered to return home, and it is reported that they have asked the Australian Government to allow them to stay. Yesterday, the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) said that he hoped that these students would be able to complete their studies in Port Moresby. They certainly should be allowed to do so. I hope that, even if they did criticize the Indonesian authorities, we would not order them to return to West New Guinea as requested. We have given asylum to some very strange people. We have had Petrov wandering about this country. Surely we can deal with these students in a spirit of humanity.
It is interesting to note that already there are 15,000 troops, and may even be 30,000 troops, in the part of New Guinea under Indonesian control, as well as twenty battleships, Russian-built long-range bombers, supersonic fighters and submarines. Maybe they are there only for a display of might on the occasion of the taking over by the Indonesians of this poor section of New Guinea. However, I do not think that Australia can stand idly by and say: “Take no notice of all that. It does not mean anything.” These forces are in West New Guinea for a purpose, and we may learn more about it in the future. It has already been reported that President Soekarno of Indonesia refers to the Australian section of New Guinea as East Irian. Maybe that does not mean anything. But that part of New Guinea has never before been known as East Irian. The section of the island that the Indonesians have taken over was never known as West Irian until they decided that they would take it over. It has been reported also that President Soekarno describes Khrushchev as the ruler of Europe and President Kennedy of the United States of America as the force in the Pacific area, and states that Indonesia will be the force in South-East Asia.
What are we to do about the situation? What is our policy to be? It must be friendly and co-operative. We must do all we can with the Indonesians to provide mutual aid. This aid must be on a giveandtake basis. All the giving cannot be on our part. We cannot forever hold out the hand of friendship and expect nothing in return. We are helping Indonesia under the Colombo Plan, and we hope to be able to increase our help. But can the
Australian taxpayers, as well as taxpayers in other countries, be expected to pay high taxes to assist the Indonesians if they spend four-fifths of their budget on military preparations? The Indonesians have to be reminded that if they continue to spend such huge sums on military preparations they cannot expect us to contribute more and more to help them in other ways.
We hope that the Indonesians will be friendly. We want friendliness. We have to be friendly in our attitude to the Indonesians, but at the same time we must be firm. We have to let them know that we will not tolerate any ventures or any wanderings over the border into the part of New Guinea under our control. Australia can no longer afford to say: “ Defence does not matter. Any threat against which we need to defend ourselves exists on the other side of the world.” We now have right on our doorstep, only a few hundred miles from the shores of our mainland, a very strong military power. Let us not say that that is not something to worry about.
Unfortunately, we cannot do much about the existing situation with respect to our relations with Indonesia. I think it has been brought about mainly by this Government’s short-sightedness in having part-time Ministers for External Affairs. I do not blame the present Minister. Earlier we had the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) as a part-time Minister for External Affairs, and before him Lord Casey was Minister. Had they continued the policy laid down by Dr. Evatt under the Chifley Government, we may have been able to prevent the partition of the island of New Guinea and to bring together both parts of the island under the administration of the United Nations. That should have been our objective. Partition is no good anywhere. We showed no foresight in this matter and, in the final analysis, the United States and the United Kingdom were not much concerned about it. It was our problem. Because the Government has been lazy during its period of office and has not looked to the future, we have now the accomplished fact that right on our doorstep is a neighbour with which we want to be friendly, but which is a mighty military power just the same. We could have had a nation governed by its native people, united under one banner and administered in the early years by the United Nations.
I pass now to our defence policy. The Prime Minister yesterday was asked a question on defence by the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess), who is, I think, interjecting. The honorable member for La Trobe asked the Prime Minister whether we could expect a statement to be made on defence. Sir Robert Menzies replied -
I am certainly hoping, and indeed expecting, that a statement on this matter can be made before the House rises. In the meantime, I just want to say that I have read with great interest some of the rather dogmatic statements in the newspapers. They are all pure speculation and I would advise all honorable members to wait for the official announcement before farming any opinions on this matter.
Well, the Prime Minister is hoping! He is expecting! He should be in a position to say definitely that the statement will be presented to the House. The Prime Minister himself could make that statement. It is not good enough for him to talk about expecting. It is not good enough for him to be telling us that the newspapers should not be saying these things. This Parliament should be saying them. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) is ill and we are all sorry about it, but that does not excuse the Prime Minister and the other members of this Government for not presenting a statement on defence to let us know where we are going in this matter.
I know that it is said that we have nothing to worry about and that we should not take any notice of this huge build-up; it does not mean a thing. I remind this House that another great peace-loving nation, India, a few years ago, and a few months ago for that matter, thought that on its borders was a neighbour from which it had nothing to fear. There was mighty military strength, but nothing to fear. But overnight the peace-loving nation of China, in an aggressive manner, marched into India and attacked that country. We hope hostilities do not break out again, but if they do break out, and if they develop into a global war, where would we stand? Where would the countries near our shores stand? If we ever needed a defence policy, we need it to-day. We want a statement to be presented in this House quickly to let us know what the Government has in mind about defence.
The Australian Labour Party has never criticized the amount of money the Government has spent on defence. It has certainly criticized how the Government has spent the money. The Australian Labour Party has a proud record in defence. Consider its record in the last war, the bringing to birth of the Woomera rocket range, and, in earlier years, the establishment of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Military College, Duntroon! The Australian Labour Party through its governments has been in the forefront of defence planning in Australia. It has never shirked the fight on defence. To-day we should be looking at defence more than any other problem with which we are faced. Defence is something that we can no longer brush aside.
During the last war we were pleased to have the assistance of a great ally, the United States of America. Before that war, we may have thought we could stand alone, but we found that we could not. One thing is certain: If we are ever involved in a conflict again it will be impossible to fight alone. The Labour Party’s policy is close co-operation with the United States of America. Together with the United States, and our other friends, I am sure we can show goodwill to countries near our shores. We can give them the assistance that they need. We can help lift their standards of living, but they in return should hold out the hand of friendship to us. We do not want this display of armed troops right on our doorstep. The Minister for External Affairs said yesterday that these thousands and thousands of troops are engaged on the work of government. I think these nations ought to be educated to know that you do not carry out administrative work with rifles, bayonets, bombs and fighters. We hope that we can achieve friendship with our near neighbours. We want to help them. We would like to see the people of all New Guinea - west and east - brought quickly to a standard where they can manage their own affairs, elect a government of their own choice and live happily without interference from any nation outside their shore.
– There were some parts of the speech of the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) to which I listened with pleasure, and some parts to which I listened with regret. I was pleased to hear him say that he felt we should have an accelerated defence programme. I shall return to that in a moment. I regretted to hear what he had to say about events in the electorate of Grey. It is true that he did not directly criticize Miss Russell, but he was laying the foundation for an attack upon her which could eventuate in certain circumstances.
All I know about this matter is that Miss Russell was a loyal daughter to her father. During his illness she did a great deal to run the electorate. I know that she had ambitions to succeed him. I know that people from the Labour Party in South Australia interviewed her recently in relation to those ambitions. Whether they succeeded in forcing her to withdraw, I do not know. Those are the only facts which stand indisputably on the record at present. Let us see how this matter develops.
I do not think that the honorable member’s reference to the standardization of the Broken Hill to Port Pirie line was altogether factual. I hope I will not be named as one of the people who have been luke-warm about this line. As honorable members know I had the honour to be the chairman of the committee which recommended the - scheme of rail standardization, of which this line is the final, or nearly the final, link. We have seen the scheme carried out step by step. Naturally, I am pleased that this final step has now been undertaken.
I remind honorable members that only last December a select committee of the South Australian Parliament made a report which came before the Federal Government in the early months of this year. That report was the real genesis of the decision to reconstruct the line at this time. I think that should be placed on record. The House knows that I was one of the people who pressed for this line and I would have liked to see it undertaken earlier. I thought it was a little ungenerous of the honorable member to take the line he did.
I was indeed pleased to hear the honorable member say that he backed a more vigorous defence policy, but I was a little disappointed to find him led into the statement that Labour had never criticized the defence vote. This is simply untrue, as can be ascertained by nun* “rous extracts from “ Hansard “ and fro- from other sources.
Labour has frequently criticized the amount spent on defence.
The honorable member referred to the proud record, as he called it, of the Labour Government in regard to defence. Let me remind him of the salient fact, which is this: Labour has had no quarrels with defence programmes when the Communists have been in favour of those programmes. In the early days of the last war, from 1939 until June of 1941, when Hitler turned on his ally Stalin, sections of the Labour Party in this Parliament and outside it endeavoured to sabotage the war effort in the interests of Russia. They bad not a proud record. I am not impugning the loyalty of all members of the Labour Party - very far from it - but I do say that during the early days of the war, when Russia and Nazi Germany were allied, there was considerable disloyalty incorporated in the structure of the Labour Party, and that led to the virtual sabotage of the defence effort. It was not until after June, 1941, that Labour came to power in this Parliament, and at that time Russia, which had previously tried to sabotage our war effort, was attacked by her ally, Nazi Germany, and it then threw all the weight of the Communist Party behind the war effort. Labour had no difficulty then in backing a defence policy, because the Communists were onside.
But what is the position to-day? The position is that our only possible enemy in the world is a Communist enemy, and in any conflict the struggles which divide the Labour Party must make it incapable of forming a government and carrying out a defence policy at all, because a considerable section of the Labour Party is on side with our enemies and is against us. These are facts.
– I take a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I think that if there is anything that could be considered offensive in this House it is to suggest that any member, on this side or anywhere in the House, could be on the side of Australia’s enemies. I suggest that the honorable member be asked to withdraw that remark. If he is not, he can call us saboteurs or anything he likes.
– Is the honorable member prepared to withdraw?
– No, Sir, these are facts, and a withdrawal should not be called for when facts of this kind are stated. The association of Communists with certain sections of the Labour Party is a matter of fact.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, a point of order has been taken by an honorable member on this side, and the issue has not yet been clarified. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) stated that what the honorable member for Mackellar said was offensive to him and to other members of this side of the House. I ask you to give a ruling on the question whether the honorable member is entitled to imply treason and traitorous tendencies and sabotage on the part of honorable members on mis side of the House, and get away with it.
– I understood the honorable member to be referring to a group and not to an individual member of the Labour Party.
– I suggest, with all respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that he was referring to a group, and that makes his offence even worse. You might ask him to clarify his statement. Does he mean members in this House? If he does, I want a withdrawal.
– Order! Does the honorable member for Mackellar refer to any members of this House?
– I am not referring to any particular member, Sir. I am saying that the Labour Party, in its structure, is infected with communism. I stand by that statement and I am not prepared to withdraw it.
– This makes the whole thing a farce, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Here is a man who says he is referring to members of the Labour Party, of whom there are close enough to 60 on this side of the House. He will not be specific. He is hiding, as he always does, behind a coward’s castle. He is getting very close to being hypocritical, and I request that you ask him to withdraw his imputation.
– May I remind you, Sir, that on another occasion quite recently, when referring to the conference which was held at the Hotel Kingston, and which set down the policy of the Labour Party on certain major matters-
– Mr. Deputy Speaker-
– Let me finish the sentence. I was giving chapter and verse to show the Communist associations of certain members of that dominant Labour conference. Why should I withdraw these facts.
– If the honorable member is not prepared to withdraw, I shall move that he be not further heard.
– Order! I ask the House to come to order. I think the remark made by the honorable member for Mackellar was directed in a way similar to that in which many other remarks have been directed. I ask members of the Opposition to turn their memories back to remarks made only this afternoon about the Government having been returned with Communist support. One honorable member said that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), and therefore the Government, owed their position to-day to Communist support. I think that in fairness I should rule that the honorable member for Mackellar is in order.
.- I disagree with the ruling. I do not regard what has been said as fair comment, and I move -
That the ruling be dissented from. (Mr. Crean having submitted his objection to the ruling in writing) -
.- I second the motion, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak for the first time about the ruling. As I understand your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it was to this effect: Earlier to-day no objection was taken to allegations that the Government owes its majority to the fact that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) was elected on the preferences of the Communist Party candidate in his electorate who was eliminated from the count. It is on that basis that you have ruled that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) is entitled to say that the Labour Party is infected with communism. There is, in fact, no parallel between the allegation made concerning Communist preferences cast for the honorable member for Moreton and the allegation made by the honorable member for Mackellar. If it had been alleged that the Liberal Party was infected with communism, and a ruling had been given that that was a permissible allegation in the House, then you would be entitled to say that the same ruling should be applied to an allegation that the Labour Party was infected with communism. But the earlier allegation was not that the Liberal Party was infected with communism. The allegation was that the Liberal Party holds office here because in the most narrowly contested seat in the 1961 election its candidate received Communist preferences. You would be entitled, Sir, to apply the same ruling to an allegation about the Labour Party if the allegation was that the Labour Party had received Communist preferences. But, Sir, you are comparing two disparate allegations. With all respect, I submit that the circumstances are not the same, that the allegations are not on all fours, and that you should reconsider your ruling.
The procedure of this House would be grossly abused if it were said that any member is corrupt, traitorous, dishonest, seditious, subversive or anything like that. You would order those allegations to be withdrawn. If they were not withdrawn you would discipline the honorable member who made them. If allegations are made specifically about persons outside the House we know what to think about them if an honorable member chooses to make them in the House and refuses to make them outside it.
The disturbing feature of the present procedure is that people can make general allegations about a group of persons. If the honorable member for Mackellar were to say that all members of the Labour Party were infected with communism, then every member of the Labour Party in this House - 62 out of the 124 members of this House - could compel a withdrawal, and you would have that statement withdrawn. If the honorable member for Mackellar said in the House that every member of the Labour Party who is not a member of this House was infected with communism, we would know what to think of that allegation if he refused to make it outside the House, because anybody who was known to be a member of the Labour Party and was not a member of this House could take action against the honorable member for Mackellar for his statement if he made it outside the House.
This is a carefully cultivated technique of saying that some persons are reprehensible in some way. No single person can ever be fitted with this allegation. No single person who belongs to the group about some of whose members the allegation is made can ever take action to correct the statement. No member of the House can do that because we are not all categorized in that way and no specific member is categorized in that way. No person outside the House can do anything about the statement because they are not all categorized in that way and no specific person is categorized in that way. 1 appeal to you, Sir, as a man with some respect for the practice and procedures of British parliamentary democracy, and as a member of the Standing Orders Committee, to reconsider this ruling. Failing your reconsideration of it we will persist in our motion that your ruling be dissented from.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I did not have the advantage of being present when the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) made his statement. As I understand it, he made a general allegation-
– What is the Treasurer talking on? He was not here.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) was not present either.
– Sit down!
– Order! The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith will remain silent.
– The Treasurer admits that he was not here.
– Order! I have told the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith to remain silent.
– As I said, it was my understanding that the honorable member for Mackellar, in the course of his speech, made a general allegation to the effect that the structure of the Labour Party was infected-
– He did not.
– Well, to the effect that several members of the Labour Party as a group were infected with communism.
– He said that the 36 members of the special federal conference were, and two members of this House were among them.
– The first comment I want to make is that only yesterday in this House we had it put to us most vigorously by honorable gentlemen opposite that freedom of expression in this chamber should not be restricted and that no government should attempt to prevent the freest possible expression. We withdrew one of the Standing Orders which referred to discourteous references to the judiciary and other matters of that sort. Honorable gentlemen opposite argued that they should be free to make comments critical of members of the judiciary and the monarchy and to refer to other matters which are not normally regarded as falling within the Standing Orders. In other words, honorable gentlemen opposite were arguing most vigorously yesterday that members of the Parliament should be given the widest possible freedom of expression in this place.
A very relevant question in the political life of this country is whether or not one or more of the political parties in Australia is subject to influences - whether they be Communist influences, as the honorable member for Mackellar has said, or pressures from particular groups, as I have heard honorable gentlemen opposite allege against us. Only earlier to-day, as I was listening, thanks to the mechanical device in my room, to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), I heard him say in a most direct and specific way that I had allowed myself to be pressured into withholding legislation. According to him, I protected people who were trying to evade their taxation liabilities. That was entirely proper, parliamentarily speaking. That was a direct allegation against me personally. I did not hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition stand up and say: “ But this is unparliamentary. You must not say things like that.”
Let us examine the substance of the allegation made by the honorable member for Mackellar. It is notorious that some of the most prominent policies on foreign affairs of honorable gentlemen opposite are directly in line with those advocated by the Communist Party. It is common knowledge that some of the most powerful trade unions in this country are under either Communist control or strong Communist influence. That will not be denied. It is also beyond question that those same unions-
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order.
– Come on, take it. We gave you a go. It is also beyond question that those same unions pay affiliation fees to the Labour Parry, of which they are constituent members, and that they have a hand in the selection of Labour Party candidates. Are those facts, or are they not facts? If you have a situation in which a political-
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, the right honorable gentleman is wasting the time allotted to the honorable member for Mackellar. Accordingly, I move -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay)
Majority . . . , 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
I had pointed out that some important policies of the Australian Labour Party are directly in line with those of the Communist Party and that the official organ of the Communist Party, the “Tribune” newspaper, frequently applauds attitudes and policies expounded in this place by honorable gentlemen opposite. The very policy of a nuclearfree zone for the southern hemisphere was a product first of the Soviet Congress. Then it was adopted by the Communist Party in Australia and finally by the Australian
Labour Party. I was pointing out that there are powerful unions in this country under the direct control of known Communists or under the very strong influence of known Communists and that those unions are affiliated with and pay affiliation fees to the Australian Labour Party.
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney is out of his place.
– These unions at election time contribute to the funds of the Labour Party and their contributions are gladly accepted by the Labour Party at that time.
– Is this all you have to offer?
– The Leader of the Opposition has said he wants more trade unionists on the Labour side of this Parliament. He wants a bigger proportion of trade unionists amongst his members. He is not satisfied with those he finds around him at the present time, and undoubtedly if he had more trade unionists with him, the bigger proportion of them would come from those very unions to which I have referred.
– What about the-
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney will come to order. He must cease interjecting, and so must all other honorable members.
– It is a matter of great concern to the people of this country to establish for themselves what are the facts and what are the conclusions to be drawn from the facts. Only yesterday, honorable gentlemen opposite were vehement in their claim that even if their views reflected on a member of the judiciary, on the monarchy or on the representatives of friendly powers, they should have an untrammelled right to offer those views. The honorable member for Mackellar has made no allegation, as I understand it, against any individual member of the Parliament. What be has said is that this political party is, on the facts, subject to the charge that in its policies, in the resources available to it for election purposes and in the support it obtains from affiliation and other forms of membership, it is infected by the influences of communism. That is what I read into the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar. On the facts, I think there is substance behind those remarks, and the country itself, having heard the argument, will be in a better position to judge.
.- There are two questions before ‘the House. One is whether it is proper for one member to be insulting-
– Order! There is only one question before the Chair.
– This is the question.
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat. The question before the Chair is, “That the ruling be dissented from “.
– The Deputy Speaker’s ruling was that the remarks of the honorable member were not offensive within the terms of the standing order and therefore the honorable member did not have to withdraw them. So the first question which has to be decided is whether this type of remark from such a person is offensive or worthy of this Parliament. We on this side of the House say that it is offensive, unworthy and, of course, untrue.
The second question which has to be resolved - this has been introduced into the debate by none other than the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), one of the persons who on occasions have acted as Prime Minister - is whether this House is to put the stamp of its approval on an Australian brand of McCarthyism - something that reduced the American political system to its lowest level in the century and a half of the American republic, and something that earned the disapproval and contempt of people all over the world. The point I make, in which I say the people of Australia would support me, is that the Treasurer, in supporting the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) in this, has been unworthy of his high office, has been insulting to members of this House and has been offensive in terms of the Standing Orders. I say that, and I will challenge him anywhere on it. He cannot prove that the honorable member for Mackellar was truthful in his assertion that we are disloyal and that we are seditious, nor can he make such assertions about the Australian Labour Party without being offensive to every one of us. In this particular case, hide as he may behind abstractions which he tries to bring in when challenged definitely on this question, he is saying that the 36 men who comprised the federal conference of this party were infected with communism. Of those 36 men, at least one - the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) - sits in this House. Let the Treasurer go outside and say that. Let him say it in the electorate of the honorable member for Braddon. I say to the House that it is not a question of whether the Labour. Party on this question
– He did not say they were all Communists.
– Fascist hobo!
Mr. Killen. - I take a point of order. The honorable gentleman who just interjected made a charge against my friend over here that is not only unparliamentary but is also completely without any sense of respect- (Honorable members interjecting) -
– Order! In the circumstances, I shall leave the chair. The chair will be resumed at 8 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended we were discussing a motion of dissent from Mr. Deputy Speaker’s ruling with relation to the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar Any debate on a motion of dissent in this House is a very important one for it results in the laying down of principles which become part of the precedents and established practices of the House. So when we are considering whether the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar were offensive within the meaning of Standing Order No. 77, we have to weigh the position very carefully. It is not a question of whether the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) should choose that moment to come here and support the McCarthyist tendencies of that honorable member; it is a question of how this House shall comport itself in discussions between fellow members of the Parliament. I believe that the honorable member for Mackellar has demeaned the Parliament, offended us and mortally offended all those people in Australia who chose to send members of the Labour Party here.
We on this side of the House represent more than half of the people who voted at the last election. At that election Labour Party candidates polled over 250,000 more votes than did all the people allied against us. We hold 62 seats in this House and the Government holds 62. We speak on behalf of an established majority of the people of Australia, and those who choose to say that we are seditious, treasonable and saboteurs - those were the terms used by the honorable member for Mackellar - are offending the great body of responsible people in Australia who sent us here. Therefore I say that the honorable member for Mackellar has offended against the very essence . of the standing order relating to offensive behaviour and for that reason Mr. Deputy Speaker’s ruling should be disagreed with.
In support of that contention I want to emphasize the significance of the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar. In doing so, I want to remind the House of one of the most disturbing episodes in recent political history and to refer to a junior United States senator for Wisconsin, McCarthy, who besmirched American politics and dragged them into the ground. The activities of McCarthy made that particular era of politics offensive to the name of decent democratic political thought, and the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar to-day are offensive to the Parliament under the Standing Orders.
I remind you, Mr. Speaker, of the terms in which the honorable member for Mackellar brought his evidence before this House. He was challenged to name the people to whom he referred. He was asked: “To whom do you refer? Do you mean anybody in this House? “ He said, “ No, I mean groups of them “. He meant a particular party. He did not mean its membership. When he was penned and driven back into his corner he did exactly the same as that miserable senator from Wisconsin did when he was challenged. This is what Senator McCarthy said, according to the book, “ Senator Joe McCarthy “ -
While I cannot take the time to name all the men in the State Department who have been named as members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring, 1 have here in my hand a list of two hundred and five that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department.
How many did he name? How many could he name when he was challenged? None at all.’ The book goes on to say -
Not many sentences spoken in this century have been subjected to quite so much exegesis and controversy as this one. And not many have been less worthy of it. For what McCarthy was reported to have said was not only untrue - it was, on the face of it, utterly preposterous.
That is exactly what any sensible thinking person who understands the ramifications of the Australian Labour Party would say about the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar. Why could he not have taken the time to name a few on the list? Why does he not say to whom he refers? Does he mean the honorable member for Braddon who was a delegate to the federal conference of the Australian Labour Party? If he does mean the honorable member for Braddon, let him say so to all those people who supported the honorable member for Braddon at the last election when he polled the largest majority any candidate has ever polled in that electorate? I think the honorable member’s majority then was 8,000 and support for him has increased during the three years for which he has been here. What miserable hypocrisy this is! It is offensive not only to us but to all members of the Labour Party and to all the people who sent us here. If we want to bring it down to individuals, then let us bring it down to the electors of Braddon who sent the honorable member for that electorate here.
The honorable member for Mackellar has alined himself with one of the most miserable periods of American political history. The atmosphere of that period unfortunately has been imported into this Parliament and into this country’s politics by the Liberal Party and its leadership here. So, the Treasurer is no better than is the honorable member for Mackellar, and neither of them is any better than the honorable member for Mackellars forebears because, when I turn to Sir Henry Parkes’s book, “Fifty years in the Making of Australian History “, I find this on page 25-
Mr. Wentworth exhausted his great powers of invective in denouncing the new party of reformers as Socialists, Communists, uprooters of law and order, and everything else for which a vile name could be found.
The clan was no different 111 years ago; it has brought this type of politics to this nation. The honorable member’s clan is the very genesis of this type of politics, and it is a great misery to the people of Mackellar that they sent here a man whose principles are no higher than that. The same applies to the Treasurer. What manner of man is this? Just before the last election the Treasurer was saying that three members of the then Senate team, the present Senator Cohen, the present Senator Cavanagh and the late and very respected Senator Poulter, were under Communist domination. He brought their names into this Parliament. He had their names circulated throughout Australia. He said he would repeat the statement outside the House. But he never did! The Treasurer, who is the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party - the one-time, some-time Prime Minister of this country - has uttered words and behaved in a manner offensive in the extreme to the Parliament and to the Standing Orders. This is a disgrace to the Parliament. The right honorable gentleman’s remarks in support of the miserable philosophies of the honorable member for Mackellar are offensive to this Parliament and 1 believe it is the duty of the House to consider this when contemplating its decision on this issue.
It is not a question of whether there is a grain of truth in anything that the honorable member for Mackellar said. That will be the day when there is any truth in what he says! It is a question of how this Parliament ought to conduct its business and of the relationship between equals on the floor of the House. To come in here as the honorable member for Mackellar has done, and try to besmirch the names of 50 per cent, of the members of the Parliament, and of the majority of the people of Australia who support those members, is to seek to establish a principle which I think ought to be rejected out of hand by every decent member opposite.
There are a great many members opposite for whom I have nothing but a high personal regard. I believe most of them would defend to the death the same principles as would the rest of us on this side of the House. The question before us to-night is not a purely political one. It is one that must be decided in the light of the principles, traditions and history of this Parliament. We have to meet here as equals. We have to meet with respect for one another and we have to agree to abide by rules, written and unwritten, some traditional and some newly established. In deciding this question to-night we shall be laying down a principle. We shall be determining whether this insult offered to one of the great parties of this country is to be tolerated. Unfortunately, on various occasions in the past remarks such as those made by the honorable member for Mackellar to-night have been allowed to pass unchallenged. To-night a challenge is offered to every honorable member opposite and I hope that every elector in the constituencies of honorable members opposite is watching their actions, because if they support the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar they will be alining themselves with the miserable senator from Wisconsin, lately departed. I hope that all honorable members opposite will face up to their responsibilities and realize that when they cast their votes to-night they will not be voting for or against Mr. Deputy Speaker but for or against a principle of parliamentary democracy, decency in public life, and a proper conception of the manner in which this Parliament should be conducted.
.- Mr. Speaker, I think you will agree that I have shown-
– Sit down!
– Order! The honorable member for Hunter is out of his place and out of order.
– I think, Mr. Speaker, that you will agree-
– 1 rise to order. I want to know whether it is in order for a member of the Parliament who is obviously Infected with fascism to be allowed to sit here.
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark and say that the honorable member belongs to a party that is infected with fascism.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I think you will agree, Mr. Speaker, that I have shown considerable forbearance during the smearing and slimy remarks of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). Not content with traducing me, he saw fit to traduce my great-grandfather, who died 40 years before I was born. The honorable member was entirely at fault in trying to apply to me the offensive epithet of the “ senator from Wisconsin “. Honorable members know that I am prepared to say outside the House what I say inside. Honorable members will remember two such incidents. They will remember one occasion when by mistake I said something in the House which I subsequently found to be untrue. I then repeated it outside the House so that remedy could be sought, bt cause I did feel that unfortunately I had done wrong. Honorable members will recall another occasion when the former leader of the Labour Party, Dr. Evatt, objected to remarks I made in the House and challenged me to repeat them outside. I did so, but no action was taken. (Opposition members interjecting) -
– Order! The honorable member for Oxley is out of order in interjecting, and he is also out of his place.
– I realize what the Labour Party is doing. It is keeping up a barrage of interjections so that 1 cannot be heard; but I shall be heard. Sir. I stand by what I have said. The Labour Party is infected with communism.
– This man does not tell the truth.
– Order! The honorable member for Newcastle will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark but this man does tell untruths.
– A deliberate liar.
– Order! I think I heard the honorable member for Wilmot use an unparliamentary expression.
– You certainly did, Mr. Speaker, and I meant it; but I withdraw it in deference to you.
– Order! The honorable member must withdraw the remark unreservedly.
– I withdraw it unreservedly.
– Order! The House must come to order. We are discussing an important motion. (Opposition members interjecting) -
– I warn honorable members about their conduct. The proceedings of the House should be conducted with dignity.
– This is a disgraceful and concerted demonstration which is aimed at preventing me from speaking. It is quite obvious to honorable members on this side of the House that that is what the Labour Party is doing. As I have said, the Labour Party is infected with communism.
– I rise to a point of order. The remark that the Labour Party is infected with communism is absolutely offensive to me and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– Order! The point of order is not upheld.
– Honorable members will remember that recently - I think on 28th November - I brought into this House statutory declarations-
– Order! The honorable member for Parkes, who is standing in the passageway, will take his seat. As the honorable member continues to be disorderly, I name him.
– I move -
That the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) be suspended from the service of the House.
– What standing order has he breached?
– Order! I have named the honorable member for disorderly conduct. The question is, “ That the honorable member for Parkes be suspended from the service of the House “. The “ Ayes “ will pass to the right of the chair, the “ Noes “ to the left of the chair. I appoint the honorable members for Perth and Mallee Tellers for the “ Ayes “, and the honorable members for Wilmot and Griffith Tellers for the “ Noes “. (The Tellers for the “Noes” having refused to act) -
– Order! The Tellers for the “ Noes “ having refused to act, the question is resolved in the affirmative. The honorable member for Parkes is suspended from the service of the House. (The honorable member for Parkes withdrew from the chamber) -
– I think you will understand, Mr. Speaker, that this is a concerted demonstration.
Motion (by Mr. Clyde Cameron) put -
That the honorable member for Mackellar be not further heard.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Makin) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed (vide page 1004).
– Mr. Speaker-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– In view of the fact, Sir, that the honorable member for Mackellar has been able to speak for only seven minutes of the 30 minutes to which he was entitled, I move -
That the honorable member for Mackellar be granted an extension of time.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Ward) proposed -
That the honorable member for Mackellar be not further heard.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be. suspended as would preclude the honorable member for Mackellar from completing his speech.
We have just witnessed- (Opposition members interjecting)-
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to order.
– Order! The honorable member must resume his seat.
– Mr. Speaker-
– I name the honorable member for Oxley.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put-
That the honorable member for Oxley be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Allan Fraser) put -
That the honorable member for Mackellar be not further heard.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority … . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Should any of these questions be negatived, no similar proposal shall be received within a quarter of an hour and no similar proposal shall be received if the Speaker or the Chairman is of opinion that it is an abuse of the orders or forms of the House, or is moved for the purpose of obstructing business.
I think it is quite clear to the House that the honorable member for Grayndler is attempting to obstruct the business of the House and should be ruled out of order.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The question for the adjournment of the debate shall be put forthwith and determined without amendment or debate.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
War-time Incident - Parliamentary Democracy - Standardization of Rail Gauges - By-election for Grey Division - Textile Industry - The Parliament; Re-admission of Members - Communism - Murray Valley Development.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) proposed -
That the house do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker, Opposition members take the opportunity afforded by the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House to discuss in an uninhibited way matters that concern the welfare of the Australian people. We believe that members of this Parliament have a sacred privilege in this respect and should be afforded the opportunity to speak in an uninhibited way. We have seen recent examples of the way in which this Government has denied honorable members an opportunity to speak. This evening, we have seen a classic example of the way in which the Government avails itself of the Standing Orders. It has done so this evening to deny even one of its own supporters an opportunity to express his views on matters that he regards as important.
The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has been the subject of controversy in this House to-night. There are in this place some people who would describe him in words that could well be unparliamentary. In the lobbies, in the dining-room and elsewhere in the precincts of this building, we have heard attributed to the honorable member characteristics that, at best, can be described only as unAustralian. I know that some honorable members - even some who sit on the Government side of the chamber - have described the honorable member for Mackellar as one who has Fascist tendencies.
– Order! That is a phrase that the honorable member should not use, even if somebody else used it. I ask the honorable member to withdraw.
– I withdraw it, Sir.
– I remind the honorable member also that he may not revive a debate.
– It is not my intention to revive a debate. I respect your ruling, Sir.
I want to take this opportunity to express to the people of Hughes my appreciation at being afforded the opportunity to represent them in this place. Not so long ago, during the 1939-45 war, the honorable member for Mackellar set out to make a one-man invasion of what is now the electorate of Hughes. The beaches of Cronulla were then marked off with barb-wire entanglements and the searchlights were directed towards the ocean to detect the approaching foe. The honorable member set out to make a one-man invasion of Australia by way of the Cronulla beaches. We remember this so very well. He surreptitiously sneaked through the entanglements and the barricades and destructively dealt with some of the leaders of the defending force. Having done that, he moved into the local railway network and, by destroying signal apparatus, dislocated the whole railway system in the Sydney metropolitan area. As if this were not bad enough, the honorable member then put the fire station out of commission and moved down into the area that is now Royal National Park, where units of the Army were then in camp. He caused considerable havoc and confusion there as well.
Some of the honorable members who have been interjecting have contended that there is some doubt about the sanity of anybody who indulges in such activities. I suggest that that contention is not accurate, Mr. Speaker. Indeed, I think it is most unreasonable. I do not think that there is any doubt at all that such behaviour is not becoming to a member of Parliament. I am aware, of course, that the honorable member was not at the time responsible as a parliamentarian.
– Order! The honorable member is now implying that another honorable member is not responsible. He must withdraw that imputation.
– I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker.
– I ask the honorable member to observe the procedures of the House and to preserve its dignity.
– I have said that the honorable member was not a member of Parliament at the time. He was in fact a member of the Australian Army. As a consequence of his misdemeanours and errors on the occasion that I have mentioned he was thrown out of the Army.
– He was cashiered and dismissed from the Army. This evening, we have witnessed a somewhat similar sort of irresponsible performance by the honorable member. All of us who have regard for the Standing Orders regret that performance as much as you do, Sir. We regret it in all sincerity. There are in the galleries this evening, and listening throughout Australia to the broadcast of these proceedings, many people who have a very genuine and fundamental belief in the workings of the British system of parliamentary democracy. They hope that this place will never be the subject of abuse. We know that on occasion, under provocation, some Opposition members invoke the Standing Orders. This evening some of us set out to make some kind of retribution for an unwarranted and unjustified attack made against individuals or a group.
Generally speaking, the Australian people, and certainly those of us who comprise the Opposition, stand firmly behind the principle of parliamentary democracy. We regard1 as an important feature of that principle the need for this place to be a domain in which representatives elected by the Australian people shall be able to speak frankly, honestly and forthrightly about things that matter. Our bent and our inclination are not to indulge in character assassination. This is the thing that we are against. We never want to divert people from considering the real issues with which the Parliament should be involved. We know that for more than a decade this Government, and throughout history governments in Fascist countries and countries of totalitarian principles of the right and the left, have adopted this technique as their stock-in-trade. When I speak of the right, the eyes of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) brighten, because he is of the extreme right. He knows that these tendencies have existed and that these techniques have been used without limit to divert people from the real issues of the day.
As we look back at history and elections that have been held in the past, we see how this line that the honorable member for Mackellar peddles is always surreptitiously pushed to the forefront in election issues. Honorable members opposite are prepared to invoke and exploit, for miserable electoral advantage, the technique of pointing to an alleged involvement or association with communism. This is the technique of Hitler and Mussolini, the technique of totalitarian rightism and leftism. We on this side of the House believe that the Australian people do not want to see their country governed by such techniques. We believe that there is a need to get to the real issues of the day instead of indulging in this practice of diverting attention from those issues that are the focal point of our affairs. We have heard about the Petrov shemozzle. Everybody now concedes that it was a shemozzle. No spies were indicted and the whole affair was designed to take the minds of the people away from unemployment and all sorts of deficiencies of the Government. The stocks of the Government were down then, and the Petrov affair served its purpose.
We can all recall the days when the Government tried to outlaw the Communist Party, and brought down legislation to that end. There were many legal luminaries within the ranks of the Government parties then, so the Government must have known that the legislation would never stand up to a legal challenge. It was finally thrown out, but by then it had served its purpose. Communism had been invoked to turn the minds of the people away from the Government’s deficiencies. Those honorable members opposite who base their politics substantially on the exploitation of religious devotion, and the exploitation of other things, are completely unfair and unreasonable in their actions. To-day we see the honorable member for Mackellar and others trying to divert attention from mass unemployment, housing shortages, deficiencies in defence, deficiencies in social services and deficiencies in many other things, Because they know that the Government has failed to solve the important problems that face the country at present, they believe that there is need for another diversion.
Where is the spirit of the original Wentworths? Although we hear derogatory remarks made about them sometimes, I believe they were probably inspired by decent principles and instincts, but to-day we have seen a departure from those. Those honorable members opposite who have been led by the nose down the political garden path to-night by this sort of extremism stand indicted and condemned in the eyes of the Australian people. They are denying fundamental principles in which we all should believe. This Government, in a precarious position, is now reaching in desperation to the bottom of the barrel in order to find something to lift its political stocks.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The only comment I make to the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) about the recent proceedings is that the Opposition can give it but cannot take it. That has been obvious to-night. I wish to deal with something that is associated with the sort of thing that has been done to-night. It reveals the same desire to stifle free speech, the same desire to banish decency from our proceedings, and the same lack of respect for normal human values. I feel impelled to say a word or two about the electorate of Grey and the forthcoming by-election there.
I want to say something about the Australian Labour Party’s candidate and the party’s activities in the electorate. I am not going to talk about the pressure which ha- been applied to the daughter of the late Mr. Edgar Russell to induce her not to stand as an independent Labour candidate. People will make up their own minds about that. The honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) to-day denied that there had been any pressure in that case. I leave it to honorable members and to the people of Australia to make up their minds whether pressure was applied when a special visit was made to this lady by three great hulking men - the leader of the Labour Party in the South Australian Parliament, the president of the Labour Party in South Australia and the secretary of the party in South Australia. Did they make a round trip of 300 miles just to wait on and talk with, as they put it, this poor unfortunate woman? I am not going to speak about that, but I am going to speak about something which I think is equally reprehensible.
The honorable member for Kingston this afternoon genuflected to the memory of the late Edgar Russell, and quite rightly, as honorable members from both sides of the House have done. The honorable member said that the late Mr. Edgar Russell had served the interests of the Grey electorate well for twenty years. But, Sir, I want to point out the discrepancy between the theory and the practice in this matter. Honorable members opposite are prepared to genuflect to the memory of the late Mr. Edgar Russell. That is the theory of the matter, but what happens in practice? How do they respect the memory of this man who gave so much of his life to serving the electors of Grey so well? It is well known that it was his wish - he told dozens of honorable members on this side of the House, let alone members on the other side - that his daughter should succeed him as the Australian Labour Party member for Grey. It is also well known that for many years Miss Russell has, to all intents and purposes and except in name, been the member for Grey, because, as her father’s secretary, she had provided the services which meant so much to the people of that electorate. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) reminds me that that was because the honorable gentleman was too ill to perform those functions himself. That is one of the reasons why the late Edgar Russell wished his daughter to succeed him.
Now, Sir, what happened? Not unnaturally, she submitted herself for preselection as the Australian Labour Party candidate. A special conference of the Australian Labour Party in South Australia was called. It was the South Australian equivalent of what we had in Canberra a few weeks ago. It was the South Australian equivalent of the 36 faceless men - the presidium, as one of my friends has remarked. It was not an electoral committee based on the electorate of Grey, as was the case in the selection of the Liberal and Country League candidate for the byelection. Most of the members of the special conference came from outside the electorate. What did they do? Did they choose Miss Russell? Did they respect the late member’s wishes? Did they mark the good work done by Miss Russell in serving the electors of Grey? Did they respect the wish of her father? Of course they did not. Instead, they chose a person who, by his association and by his occupation, is anathema to those who are the lifeblood of the electorate of Grey. They insulted the sensibilities of the electors of Grey by choosing a waterside worker.
– What is wrong with a waterside worker?
– He is a symbol of Communist control, of subjection to a foreign power and of the declining position of the Australian primary producers in recent years. Waterside workers have pushed up their costs on the waterfront. This selection is a gratuitous insult to every farmer in Grey. Instead of choosing this able woman or one of the many other able candidates who presented themselves, what did they do? They exercised their power in a centre away from the electorate to choose a party hack and a representative of a union which has done so much to harm Australian primary production - and primary production means much to the electorate of Grey. These people feel that the Grey seat is a safe seat for Labour. They believe they can do what they like. They feel they can afford to offend the sensibilities of the primary producers of Grey. They feel secure in the industrial vote that has been built up in Grey. Well, Sir, we will see what happens about that when the election is held.
The final point I want to make is this: Net only have they deliberately chosen a person associated with the waterside workers union, with its Communist associations - people who have done so much to disadvantage the primary producers of Australia in recent years - but also they have chosen a man who does not even five in the electorate of Grey. He did live there, I will admit, but I understand that within the last two months he has moved his home, apparently permanently, to Adelaide. Again we see the same cavalier, insulting approach to an electorate regarded by the Labour Party as safe. It would have been a very different matter if the members of the
Labour Party had thought of Grey as a marginal seat. They would have been very careful about choosing their candidate. They would not have insulted this devoted woman as they have done. They would not have passed over many other people - people who did not have the symbolic association with industrial lawlessness that this chosen candidate has. They would not have done these things, if they had thought of Grey as a marginal seat. They displayed arrogance in the belief that it was a safe A.L.P. seat. By their actions they have brought down on their heads certain consequences which I hope, and feel sure, will follow. They will find that Grey is not a safe seat; that the electors will do what they should have done many years ago, and return to the fold by providing an honorable member for this side of the House.
.- Mr. Speaker, there must surely be an election in the wind. If there were not, I could not imagine the shabby, tattered old effigy of communism being dragged into this House in the way we have seen to-night. I was thinking, as we crossed the floor time after time, how much more satisfactory it might have been had we been at Westminster 600 years ago, when every member wore a sword and scabbard in the chamber. We might have settled matters far more satisfactorily.
– More permanently, anyway.
– Yes, probably more permanently also. But the fun is over for to-night at least, Mr. Speaker, and because it is possible that the debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) may not be resumed, I want to take this opportunity of saying something about a matter I have had in mind for two weeks. From time to time in this House I have criticized the Tariff Board for its failure to give adequate protection to the textile industry of Australia with sufficient speed. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has made several attempts to rectify the situation by introducing amendments to the Tariff Board Act. It is not merely difficult, it is impossible, for the Tariff Board arid the Government to settle the industry’s problems by means of the printed word. There is a requirement, of course, that the industry shall be economic and efficient. That is beyond doubt. But to-night 1 propose to tell the House of one of the devices used by overseas manufacturers to defeat the written word by which the Tariff Board and the Department of Customs and Excise must work. I have with me to-night a piece of fabric which reveals itself to my eyes as having been made from what the Tariff Board refers to as man-made fibres. I would say it is all rayon, and probably it is an acetate rayon. It is a beautiful fabric, a beautiful piece of cloth. I can find in it not a single flaw. The yarn quality is high, the weaving is par excellence, and the finish is perfect. It could be used as a dress material, as a lining for men’s suits or as a shirt material. One would imagine that since it is an imported fabric it would be dutiable as such, at 2s. Sid. a yard, the same as any other imported fabric made of man-made fibres. But here we see the curious difficulty caused by the Tariff Board’s compulsory reliance upon the written word. This piece of material, strange to relate, is not a piece of fabric, it is embroidery. I would like the House to inspect this piece of embroidery.
Any normal person who thinks of embroidery visualizes such things as doilies, lace tablecloths or even the material in Mr. Speaker’s lace cuffs, or perhaps the fringe at the bottom of a lady’s slip. But this fabric, in the eyes of the Department of Customs and Excise, is embroidery. At intervals of nine inches down one selvedge it has a small, inconspicuous embroidered cross - easy to add after the weaving of the cloth, by the use of high-speed machines. The cost of adding a tiny embroidered cross at such intervals down one selvedge would be slight. Then an amazing metamorphosis takes place. In the twinkling of an eye all is changed. The cloth is changed into embroidery and becomes dutiable at 17±d. per cent. Any protection for Australian manufacturers vanishes forthwith.
One cannot be sure in what country this was made, although it bears identification marks. The cloth may have been made in one country and the embroidered cross added in another, the material then being shipped to Australia. However, knowing the high quality of almost every Japanese product nowadays and the insistence of the Japanese Government that all goods exported from Japan shall reflect credit on that country, I would say, from the quality of this embroidery, that the identification marks are true and correct and that it was made in Japan. When and where the embroidered cross was added is anybody’s guess.
I would like to read to the House the attempt made by the Department of Customs and Excise to define embroidery and distinguish it from other materials. No effort has been spared in the attempt to make this definition. As I say, I would like to read it, but at the end of the reading the House would be as confused as the unfortunate customs officer must have been when he was confronted with this remarkable example of just one of the devices used to defeat the Australian tariff. This is just one; there are many others in the field of textiles. I could wish for some means of ensuring that just good, sound, plain common sense would be used instead of the maze and mass of words to be found in the document which is before me. This is the attempt made to define what is embroidery and what is not -
All varieties of embroidery are covered by the foregoing reference when in the following forms -
If neither you, Mr. Speaker, nor anybody else in this House can make anything out of that, can we wonder that a collector in the Department of Customs and Excise calls that remarkable piece of fabric embroidery?
Mr.Whitlam. - Mr. Speaker, I ask for leave to propose a motion designed to enable the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) to be re-admitted to the House.
– Order! Is leave granted?
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden), on making an acceptable apology to Mr. Speaker, returning to the House.
– Order! Is the motion seconded?
-I second the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The honorable member for Oxley thereupon re-entered the chamber) -
– Mr. Speaker, I apologize for my conduct earlier this evening.
– Order! The honorable member’s apology is accepted.
– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) also wishes to apologize for the conduct that led to his suspension. I ask for leave to move a similar motion in respect of the honorable member.
– Order! Is leave granted?
– Order! Leave is not granted.
– A few minutes ago the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) saw fit to subject me to an untruthful and out rageous personal attack. In regard to it, let me say briefly just two things. First, in regard to the incident that took place many years ago in the honorable member’s electorate, I say that I was given an assignment, and I carried it out. I know that as a result changes were made in the tactics and training of the Army, which I believe were of advantage to Australian soldiers.
– The Army threw you out.
– It is true that my leaving of the Army was not of my own will. It is also true that it followed a medical examination. Honorable members opposite might show a little sense of decency in this matter, but apparently that is too much to expect of them.
The honorable member for Hughes accused me of making accusations about the Australian Labour Party and not following them up with details. For most of this evening I was endeavouring to follow them up with details. I was endeavouring to give reasons for my accusations, as honorable members know.
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to order. I point out that the honorable member for Mackellar is now reviving a debate that took place in this House earlier this evening. I submit that he is out of order in doing so.
– Order! The honorable member must not debate the subject matter that was discussed earlier this evening.
– I will not refer to that matter at present, but I will say something about the honorable member for Hughes that might well be put on the record. I do not know whether he is or ever has been a member of the Communist Party.
– Definitely not.
– I say nothingin that regard. But I know that for many years before he came into this House he earned his living as an employee of the Federated Clerks Union at a time when it was under Communist control. In fact, he earned his living as a hireling of communism. This may be-
– Order! I must ask the honorable member for Mackellar to withdraw the remark that the honorable member for Hughes is a hireling of communism.
– I did not say that he was now.
– Order! The honorable member did say that, and he must withdraw that remark.
– Very well, I withdraw that phrase. He earned his living in a union that was under Communist control. He earned his living in a union Communist control of which was maintained only by the faking of ballot-papers. I do not say that the honorable member for Hughes participated in that faking. I know that he was a paid member of the union’s staff while that faking was going on. 1 know also that when the moves were made against the right wing in the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour Party the honorable member for Hughes was one of the few members of Parliament - perhaps he was the only member of Parliament, although I may be corrected on that - who did the bidding of the left wing in order to throw the right wing out of control of the New South Wales branch of the Labour P_arty. That fact is recorded in documents. If necessary, I can produce the documents in that regard to this House. I know that what I am saying is unacceptable to honorable members opposite because in this matter they have a guilty conscience. They know that they are members of a party that is infected with communism. The really sad thing in this matter is that some honorable members opposite who are not Communists and who, I know, are opposed to communism go weakly with the Communist plot.
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to order. The honorable member for Mackellar said that he knows that some members of my party are not Communists and are opposed to communism. The inference to be drawn from that remark is that there may be members of my party in this Parliament who are Communists. That is offensive to all members of my party. It is a reflection on members of the House. It implies that there are members of this House who are recreant to the pledges that they have signed for years past. That statement being offensive to us and contrary to the Standing Orders, I submit, Mr. Speaker, that you should require it to be withdrawn.
– Order! I think the honorable member for Mackellar is too close to the knuckle. I think that in fairness it would be a good idea if he withdrew that statement.
– I may be a bit close to the knuckle-
– Order! I have asked the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– What remark have I to withdraw?
– I ask you to withdraw the implication that certain members of the Labour Party are Communists.
– I withdraw that, but I maintain the implication which-
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw it unreservedly and will not refer to that matter again.
– Yes, indeed. I am not referring to it. I am referring to another implication. I maintain the implication that some members of the party opposite are not opposed to communism. I substantiate that not by any private information but by the record in “ Hansard “. I name the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and I ask-
– Mr. Speaker, I ask that the honorable member be required to withdraw the last few sentences. He has said that some members of the party opposite, referring to members of the Opposition in this House, are not opposed to communism. That is an allegation that there are members of the Opposition here who are recreant to the pledges they have signed over the years as members of the Labour Party, that they are opposed to communism and that they owe no allegiance or support to any other party. Furthermore, the honorable member has named as among these members the honorable member for Parkes who is not in the chamber through circumstances of which the honorable member is well aware. Because of the honorable member’s colleagues the honorable member for Parkes cannot apologize to you for his conduct so that he might be re-admitted to the House. The honorable member for Parkes is not here to require a withdrawal, but we, his colleagues, do. Therefore, I ask you to ask the honorable member for Mackellar for the third time to withdraw remarks he has made about honorable members of the House and of my party.
– I think the request is not unreasonable. As the honorable member for Mackellar has now named a member of the Labour Party I must ask him to withdraw the implication.
– Very well, Mr. Speaker. I quote from a statement of November, 1960, of the meeting of representatives
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw the remarks.
– I have withdrawn them. I am now quoting something. I am quoting a statement of November, 1960, referring to a meeting of representatives of the Communist and Workers’ Parties held in Moscow in November of that year. The following statement appears in the official so-called “ Appeal to the Peoples of all the World”-
Demand the abolition of foreign military bases, the withdrawal of foreign troops from other countries, and prohibition of the establishment of new bases. Fight for the liberation of your countries from the aggressive military pacts imposed upon them! Work for agreements on nuclear free zones!
These sentiments seem to me remarkably similar to the sentiments voiced in this House by the honorable member for Parkes, who in many ways has made himself the member for Peking. But let that pass. I quote now from the “Communist Review “-
– Mr. Speaker, I ask that the honorable member for Mackellar for the fourth time be required to withdraw a remark. He has said that the honorable member for Parkes, who is not allowed in the House, is the honorable member for Peking. Whatever stylistic virtues this phrase may have, it is objectionable to honorable members here. The honorable member for Parkes has been returned for twenty years by the thousands of people he has represented in the electorate of Parkes. It is grossly offensive to say that he is the agent or the representative of any other country, and the honorable member says it because the country to which he refers has a Communist government. He is asserting that the honorable member for Parkes is the representative of the capital of a Communist country. There cannot be anything more clearly objectionable and I therefore ask, on behalf of this party and the absent member for Parkes, that the honorable gentleman be required to withdraw that remark also.
– Order! I must ask the honorable member for Mackellar to withdraw the remark he made about the honorable member for Parkes in his absence.
– Very well. In deference to you-
– Order! The honorable member will not be clever. He must unreservedly withdraw.
– I will do that.
– I enter this debate for one purpose only and that is to deal with the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) who has presumably opened the campaign for the Liberal Party in the division of Grey in advance of his leader, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). He commenced his speech by speaking about the alleged pressure that was brought to bear upon Miss Russell not to stand against the Labour candidate. This assertion presumably is based upon a report in a Sydney newspaper, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. The report sharply contradicts that which appeared in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “, in which it was clearly stated by Miss Russell herself that the secretary of the Labour Party was courteous enough first of all to telephone her to learn whether it would be convenient to interview her the following day. She said that when the officials arrived they talked in quite a friendly manner. She said that there was no pressure whatsoever brought to bear upon her. Judging from what Miss Russell herself says, it would appear that the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ report was quite inaccurate. On this occasion I must say that I prefer the word of Sir Lloyd
Dumas to that of Mr. Warwick Fairfax and his friends.
I said that the campaign of the Liberal Party had been commenced with the speech of the honorable member for Barker. The campaign was actually commenced a week or more ago when the Prime Minister announced that at long last the Government would honour its legal obligation under the 1949 Chifley railway agreement to convert the railway line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill to standard gauge. But this was only an announcement of something that would be done in the future. When I asked whether the Government intended to continue buying narrow gauge rolling-stock for this section of line the Minister concerned told me that it proposed to do so. This heightened my suspicion, which is evidently shared by the Premier of South Australia, that the Government’s promise is only a stunt to try to get support for the Liberal Party candidate and to bolster the waning stocks of the Menzies Government in the Grey by-election. Actually, this promise by the Government is not likely to be given effect for five or six years.
The Premier of South Australia has had to come to Canberra specially in order to check up on rumours that the promise would not be given immediate effect. I find it rather remarkable that all day to-day Sir Thomas Playford has been moving about among Liberal Party members and has been talking to Ministers. I saw him having lunch to-day with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). The federal president of the Liberal Party, Sir Philip McBride, was also brought over here, presumably because of the suspicion they evidently share that this rail standardization proposal will not be given effect as quickly as the South Australian Government would like.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Who is being offensive to whom now? 1 refer to your previous ruling. The honorable gentleman is mentioning people who are not even members of this House.
– Order! The honorable member is in order.
– Before my time runs out I must refer to certain other matters. The honorable member for
Barker complained with a certain amount of mock indignation that the Labour Party had passed over the daughter of the previous member for Grey when making its selection of a candidate.
Does he forget whom the Liberal Party passed over when he himself gained the selection for the electorate of Barker? It passed over Mr. Ian Cameron, the son of the previous Liberal member and the late Speaker of this House, Mr. Archie Cameron. He was passed over when the Liberal Party selected the honorable member for Barker.
He also spoke about the Labour candidate not living in the division of Grey. The facts are that the Labour candidate lived in the division of Grey for more than 30 years, and for twenty years of this period he was a farmer. He left the district ten weeks ago to arrange school accommodation for his children. He has a house at Port Lincoln and is living in that house. This is the kind of rubbish the honorable member for Barker deals in.
The honorable member made two efforts to get into the Parliament before he eventually succeeded, and on neither occasion did he live in the district. He did not live in the district of Kingston where he was given the thrashing of his life by the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin). Neither did the honorable member for Barker live in the division of Barker when eventually he first contested it. He spoke about the method of selecting Labour candidates.
Let me remind him that the members of the Liberal Party in Grey had no say in the selection of their candidate, nor did the members of the Liberal Party in Barker have any say in the selection of the candidate for the electorate of Barker when the late and respected Speaker of the House passed away.
The people who selected the honorable member for Barker are the members of the Adelaide Club. However, when it comes to the South Australian Parliament, Sir Thomas Playford will not let the members of the Adelaide Club make the selection. Sir Thomas Playford does not care about Liberal candidates for the federal election. He thinks, “ We may as well get rid of these no-hopers and send them to Canberra because we do not want them hovering about the State House “. So he did not intervene.
One indication of what the people in Barker think of the honorable member who has just had so much to say about the Labour candidate for Grey can be found in the vote that he got at the last election. His vote in Barker dropped more than did the vote of any other Liberal candidate in the whole of South Australia.
– I raise a point of order. I cannot hear what the honorable member for Mackellar is saying to you, Mr. Speaker, but by all appearances he is endeavouring to intimidate you.
– The honorable member for Mackellar is in order.
– He has the distinction also of being the only Liberal member from South Australia whose majority was lower than the Senate majority that his party received in his own district. His majority was 1,000 fewer than the majority which the Liberal Senate team got in the same area.
This is the same man who once poohpoohed Sir Thomas Playford, saying he knew nothing about schooling or education, when Sir Thomas Playford quite rightly criticized this Government for its failure to carry out its obligations in regard to education. The honorable member regarded him as a cherry picker who knew nothing about education.
It is true that Sir Thomas Playford has not been to the university. He has not been to Cambridge or Oxford or wherever it was the honorable member acquired his accent. But one thing about Sir Thomas Playford is that he does know something about cherry picking.
The people of Barker wish that the honorable member knew something about cherry picking. It is quite clear that he has no interests in common with the people of Barker, whereas the Labour candidate for Grey knows a great deal about farming, because he has been a farmer for more than twenty years.
Never has any member representing Grey - including the late revered Edgar Russell - had greater first-hand personal knowledge of the problems of the farmer than has the selected Labour candidate for Grey, Mr. Jack Mortimer, a man who has served his country well on the land and on the waterfront. No port in the Commonwealth of Australia has a better reputation for industrial peace than Port Lincoln has had since Mr. Mortimer has been secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation branch there.
Mr. Mortimer, I venture to say, is the most knowledgeable man that the Labour Party has ever selected to contest Grey, and I bar no one. He is a man who not only understands the problems of the industrialists - in Grey more than half of the voting population comprises industrialists - but also he is one of those rare combinations - a man who understands equally well the problems of the man on the land.
I want to return, if I may, to something else that the honorable member said. He pretended that he thought a great deal of the late Edgar Russell, but having pretended to praise Mr. Russell he had the hide to say that Mr. Russell’s daughter had virtually been the member for Grey for the past six years.
He was virtually saying that the late Edgar Russell had not been doing his job for the past six years. It was a most shameful thing to say in relation to a man who is no longer with us, who is dead and therefore cannot stand and speak for himself.
The honorable member for Barker had the hide to stand there and say that for the past six years this great representative of the district for twenty years had so neglected his work that his own daughter had to do it for him; and that she was, in effect, the member for Grey.
The honorable member should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. This was the worst exhibition I have ever seen, in relation to a former member of this Parliament, upon whom not long ago the Parliament bestowed the honour of adjourning for a day in his memory.
– The House has been treated to an exhibition of emotion and heat that is quite out of keeping with the subject. Some of the remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) should be clarified at this stage, because he is obviously endeavouring to throw some doubt upon the announcement in relation to rail standardization that was made recently. His unrestrained attack upon the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) indicates that many of the statements made by the honorable member for Barker hurt him to such a degree as to lead to this outburst. This is just a reflection of what one might call the psychological reactions of the Labour Party earlier this evening. References by honorable members opposite to the Grey electorate indicate that they can see and feel the turn of the tide in the Australian thinking, and they will see it more clearly on 1st June. Honorable members opposite know that they have made a very grave mistake in selecting a candidate from the waterfront, the record of which these days is not such as to inspire any confidence in the Australian public. That is the first aspect. The second is the unfortunate incident concerning Miss Russell. They know that another error was made in revealing the application of the iron fist in what they endeavour to show as a velvet glove.
The announcement in regard to the rail standardization caused bitter disappointment to a party which has said right throughout that we have no intention of carrying out this work. I want to clarify the matter on behalf of South Australian members, who were bringing to my attention for a considerable time, long before the death of the late highly regarded member for Grey, the need to standardize the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie. As the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who is on the other side of the table, knows, plans and costs of these projects have to be dealt with a considerable time beforehand.
– What about the answer you gave to me a couple of days before the announcement was made? You must have been lying then.
– Order! I ask the honorable member to restrain himself.
– I have been in this House for a considerable time. When the honorable member for East Sydney says that to me I take it rather as a compliment.
He is so used to that type of thing himself that he cannot imagine anybody telling the truth. These factors have caused this outburst from the Labour Party. Unquestionably, honorable members opposite feel that the public will not extend to them anything like the confidence they enjoyed in the past. They have managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the public until now.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh referred to the fact that Sir Thomas Playford has been here to-day. This was not because of any doubt concerning rail standardization. The honorable member also referred to diesel locomotives and rolling-stock ordered for the railways, which will be ready by the middle of this year. Obviously,, the rail standardization will not be completed for a number of years. The fact is that these diesel locomotives are convertible to a gauge of 4 ft. 84 in. and they will be absorbed when the rail standardization is completed. Perhaps that will satisfy the honorable member on that point. In order to clarify the situation further, I read the announcement made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to-day. It states -
Agreement which will allow an early start to be made on initial work on the Port Pirie-Broken Hill railway standardization was reached at a conference in Canberra to-day between the Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, the Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, and the Commonwealth Minister for Transport, Mr. Opperman.
In a statement after the meeting, the Prime Minister said that the Railways Commissioner for South Australia and the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner had already reached agreement on the standards of construction to be observed in the works.
Honorable members opposite are saying this is only a stunt. The commissioners met last Monday.
– Where did they meet?
– They met in South Australia. The Opposition is trying to say that it is doubtful that the standardization work will be carried out. Of course, it will be carried out. It has been definitely decided that the work will be done.
– A statement will be made about that when all the details have been finalized. The announcement by the
Prime Minister continued -
It had been agreed that construction work should be done under a series of contracts and it was hoped to call tenders for early contracts by the end of the current financial year.
Let me tell honorable members opposite that there can be no doubt about the completion of anything that has been agreed to be done by this Government. The record shows that whenever the Government decides to do anything, it is done properly.
.- I want to make a few remarks on the subject which the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) has raised. Unlike all those who have spoken during the last five hours, I do not want to make any personal remarks. I think every speaker up till now has made a few of them.
I want to refer to tha standardization of the rail link between Broken Hill and Port Pirie. The House will recall that in 1949 the present honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the Premier of South Australia, both of whom are in the precincts of the House to-night, signed an agreement under which the Commonwealth undertook to provide the bulk of the finance to build a standard gauge rail link between Broken Hill and Port Pirie. Honorable members will recall also that the previous Commonwealth Commissioner for Railways, Mr. Hannaberry, pointed out in his reports year after year until the time be retired that the standardization of this stretch of railway was the most important railway work which could be carried out in Australia, that this was the vital link between all other State and Commonwealth railway systems and that this stretch of railway was particularly appropriate for standardization because it would be used for carrying bulk loads from Broken Hill to Port Pirie. It is one of the principal mineral carrying lines in Australia, one of the most heavily over-taxed lines in Australia and one of the weakest stretches of line in Australia in its present condition.
The House will also remember that on th> same day in 1956 a Government members’ committee under the chairmanship of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) - in a lucid interval - and a committee of the Opposition presented reports advocating the standardization of the railways between Broken Hill and Port Pirie, between Albury and Melbourne and between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle, in that order. The remarkable thing about the reports was that each advocated similar routes and similar styles of construction and estimated similar costs. We found that nothing was done about this stretch of railway but we were glad to see that as a result of the road hauliers’ case in the High Court proposals were made for proceeding with the standardization of the line between Melbourne and Albury first. More recently, arrangements were made to proceed with the standardization of the line between Kalgoorlie, Fremantle and Kwinana. But still nothing was done about the standardization of the railway between Broken Hill and Port Pirie, although both the South Australian and the Commonwealth parliaments had endorsed the Playford-Ward agreement of 1949.
The first time that interest was shown in this standardization work by either of the governments after 1949 was on the eve of another by-election along the route of this railway - a by-election caused by the death of the Honorable Mick ©”Halloran, Leader of the State Parliamentary Labour Party in South Australia. At Peterborough, the principal junction on that railway, Sir Thomas Playford announced on 2nd November, 1960, during the by-election campaign for the Frome electorate, that 750 men would be engaged for eight years on the construction of earthworks and culverts and on rail laying for the £21,000,000 standard gauge rail link between Broken Hill and Port Pirie. However, nothing happened after the by-election. This work was to be undertaken 2i years ago and was to take eight years. Onethird of that time has already been lost. To his credit, the Premier of South Australia then took steps in the High Court to have the Commonwealth honour its agreement. The Commonwealth successfully demurred to the State’s suit and South Australia was ordered by the High Court to pay the costs of the Commonwealth’s successful demurrer. The legal costs which South Australia had to re-imburse the Commonwealth, and the greater costs which
South Australia incurred through engaging, I think, two senior and two junior counsel in the case, have all been wasted, because the Commonwealth has now decided to go ahead and to honour, not obligations enforceable in the courts, but moral obligations incurred in 1949.
I have asked many questions over the years on this subject. Last November I was told that the provision of £50,000 to the South Australian Government for the purpose of surveying the route was approved by the Commonwealth in October, 1S58, and that up to 30th September, 1962, expenditure amounting to £18,502 had been charged by the State against this advance, leaving a balance of £31,498 still available for survey work approved by the Minister. We have the extraordinary position that 41 years ago we appropriated £50,000 for the survey, which would be useful whenever the work was put in hand, and that six months ago only one-third of that amount had been spent.
I hear some one refer to window dressing. Sir Thomas Playford is an astute politician. He can window dress as well as anybody else, particularly on the eve of a by-election or a general election. The last time this matter was before the Parliament was in October, 1961 - just before the last general election. The last bill passed by the Parliament before that election was held was the Railway Equipment Agreement (South Australia) Bill. This provided for the purchase of wagons and diesel locomotives. They have been ordered and will be delivered. If the railway line had been standardized when it should have been standardized, if the survey had proceeded promptly when the first moneys were made available for that survey and if the South Australian suit in the High Court had succeeded we would have been saved all the expense of converting those 3 ft. 6 in. gauge locomotives to 4 ft. 8i in. gauge.
– There is nothing to that.
– The Minister says there is nothing to that. It is mere chicken feed, a mere few hundreds of thousands of pounds! Some thousands of pounds have been wasted in court costs and some hundreds of thousands of pounds will be wasted in converting these wagons and diesel locomotives, all because the Minister for
Shipping and Transport has done no more than his predecessors in the Menzies Government did to carry on this proposal.
As recently as 4th April, in answer to a question by the honorable member for East Sydney - the joint father of this proposal with the Premier of South Australia - and again on 10th April, in answer to the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb), who was a member of the Opposition committee which reported on the proposal in 1956, the Minister said -
Any decision to proceed with the standardization of railways in South Australia within the provisions of the agreement, will be dependent upon confirmation that the tangible benefits obtainable are commensurate with related expenditure, and will be governed by respective priorities within the overall capital works programme of developmental projects.
That was the formula which the Minister used during the last Budget session when I asked whether he would proceed with the standardization of the railway gauge between Melbourne and Geelong. That is his order of priority. Three weeks ago he still thought that the standardization of the railway gauge between Broken Hill and Port Pirie was of do higher priority than the standardization of the gauge between Melbourne and Geelong. Only when byelections or general elections are imminent do Liberal Ministers carry out their obligations under statutes or contracts.
– I wish to bring up a matter that I have raised before just prior to the preparation of budgets. There is not the slightest doubt that very soon the Cabinet will be working out the details of the next Budget. I ask that donations to the Murray Valley Development League be made deductible for taxation purposes. The league is a nonprofit organization which is doing splendid work in the field of decentralization. The league envisages a population of 1,000,000 in the Murray valley. Since its inception approximately eighteen years ago, this organization has amassed a tremendous amount of information which is available to any person or organization that wishes to use it. Shire councils along the Murray River have benefited from the information they have been able to obtain from the league on different occasions.
The league is interested in all kinds of progressive moves in the Murray valley. This valley is a fertile, decentralized area which has the prospect of getting an increasing amount of water from the Murray River consequent upon the development of the Snowy Mountains scheme, and it is necessary that as much money as possible be made available to assist the league in its work of attracting a greater population, and so to increase production in the area. People make donations to the league to assist it in its work. All persons who assist in the work performed by the league, with the exception of the secretary and one or two others, do so without receiving any pay whatever. They give their labour and the benefit of their experience to the league for the good of the area and Australia as a whole. Therefore, it is not too much for me to ask again this year that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) consider allowing donations to the league to be regarded as deductible for taxation purposes.
The granting of this concession would assist considerably in encouraging the giving of donations and would be in the best interests of the whole of the States concerned. It must be remembered that the Murray Valley Development League operates not only along the Murray River; its activities extend far into New South Wales and far into Victoria. I have in my hand a copy of the “ Riverlander “, which is the official publication of the league. The head office of the organization is at Albury, and the organizing secretary is Mr. G. V. Lawrence. By dividing its activities into regions, the league has been able to bring added prosperity to the area that it encompasses. It has successfully striven for a greater conservation of water, it has helped the dried fruits industry and the citrus industry, and also has been responsible for pasture improvement along the full length of the Murray valley. As I said earlier, the Murray valley is a fertile area; it is an area of which Victorians should be proud. Perhaps I should go further and say that all Australians should be proud of it.
I was rather astonished to hear an honorable member ask, by way of interjection, where the Murray valley was. Anybody who knows anything about Australia and its great productive areas must have some knowledge ofthis great valley,” even though he has only read about it in the press. Australia is dependent to a large degree upon our primary industries, and to ensure their success it is necessary that the population be decentralized and not concentrated in Sydney, Melbourne and other cities along the coastline. The attraction of population to the Murray valley area would be of distinct advantage to Australia as a whole. To make this small plea that donations to the Murray Valley Development League be made deductible for taxation purposes is not to ask too much, because if the concession were granted it would be in the interests of the area concerned but most of all in the interests of decentralization, primary production and the general welfare of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Motion (by Mr. Opperman) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker- Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.41 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. My attention has been drawn to several conflicting newspaper reports in March, 1962, of a statement on this subject, attributed to Professor Green, Associate Professor of the Department of Nuclear and Radiation Chemistry in the University of New South Wales.
Construction Works at Amberley Air Base.
n asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
Will he arrange for future construction works at the Royal Australian Air Force base at Amberley to be carried out by the day-labour system in preference to contract labour?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
It is the policy of the Commonwealth Government to invite public tenders wherever practicable for the execution of work. However, certain classes and types of work are carried out by daylabour and this also applies where the execution of works by this system is considered to be in the best interests of the Commonwealth.
n asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
Mr.Freeth. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Housing at Royal Australian Air Force Bases.
s asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) Nil. (b) 16.
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Similar questions covering precisely the same ground were asked by the honorable member for East Sydney on 6th December, 1962, and I have nothing to add to the answers given to those questions by the then Acting AttorneyGeneral as set out on page 3181 of “Hansard” dated 6th and 7th December, 1962. 3, 4 and S. As the honorable member well knows, my proposals for comprehensive legislation in the field of restrictive practices were outlined to Parliament on my behalf by the then Acting Attorney-General on 6th December, 1962, after a number of discussions with the AttorneysGeneral of the States. In so far as the question seeks an opinion on a matter of constitutional law, I am not prepared to answer it.
d asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
Is he able to say whether it is an offence under either Commonwealth or State law for companies to continue to invite the public to invest moneys, without revealing all the facts regarding the companies’ trading and financial position, particularly at a time when such companies are financially unsound or sustaining losses?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
As I have explained before, it would not be in accordance with the practice of the House for me to give a legal opinion in answer to a question, particularly upon the basis of a hypothetical set of facts, and I do not propose to do so. Sections 37 and 47 of the Companies Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory, a copy of which is in the Library, are relevant to the point raised.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 May 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19630502_reps_24_hor38/>.