17th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Acting Minister for Health andSocial Services been inundated, as lave other honorable senators, with telegrams and letters from chemists throughout Australia, protesting against the proposed amendment of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act? If so, will the Minister, in order to relieve their anxiety, make a statement to the Senate as to what the Government intends to do in the matter?
– It is a fact that a number of telegrams has been received from interested chemists throughout Australia, objecting to a proposed amendment of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act. The tactics which have been adopted amount to what is often referred to as a “blitz”. I recall that years ago those tactics were resorted to in the trade union movement. The amendment to be proposed will allow friendly societies to open additional dispensaries as required, but these additional dispensaries will not be permitted to supply pharmaceutical benefits to the public in competition with interested chemists, who have indicated that they will not co-operate with the Government in this scheme. The matter will have the early attention of the Government, and an amendment of the act will be submitted to the Parliament.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers : -
Liquor Trading Hours
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
SenatorCOLLINGS. - The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers: -
Order of the Day No. 1 - Estimates and Budget Papers 1945-46 - Resumption of debate - discharged.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a first time.
I take this opportunity to reply to some of the points raised by honorable senators during the discussion of the Estimates and budget papers. Senator Collett asked for a statement of the Government’s intentions in relation to industrialunrest. I assume that the honorable senator is aware of the industrial code of this country: that men work under State and Federal awards; that the trade union movement is well organized, and that during the war unionists performed a service that was not excelled in anyother part of the world. The workers of Australia have accepted many departures from ordinary union policy in agreeing, for instance, to the dilution of labour, and wage pegging which has operated for three years. It is a fact that with very few exceptions they have enabled industry to proceed uninterruptedly. There have been some exceptions. There has been trouble with the coal-miners, but trouble in that industry is not peculiar to the industry in Australia. For some extraordinary reason the industry in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, or Australia is continually a source of trouble. Having seen the miners at work in the United States of America and Australia my diagnosis of the trouble is that the industry has always had a chequered career. The miners are not prepared to dig unlimited quantities of coal to be placed in reserves and thus run the risk of losing their employment. One may say that that attitude is unpatriotic. The fact is that at one stage in the history of the industry in this country huge reserves had been built up and the miners found themselves out of a job. During the war the Government has done everything possible to maintain peace in the industry. Conciliation and arbitration tribunals have been set up, and, in common with preceding governments, the present Government endeavoured to rectify matters by calling up men involved in disputes, and by issuing summonses against strikers. But all of these methods failed to maintain peace in the industry. To-day, we are still badly in need of coal. In common with every other honorable senator I cannot get any clear explanation as to why a coal-miner has this outlook, unless it be that he works in a beastly job and is housed under beastly conditions, and has had for a number of years a real grievance against the colliery owners. I recall that when Mr. Bruce was Prime Minister his government initiated a prosecution against the biggest proprietor in the industry at that time, the late Mr. Brown, but the prosecution was not persevered with. The men had been locked out at the collieries controlled by Mr. Brown. On that occasion the railway men and the trade union movement generally rallied behind the miners, supplying substantial financial aid to them, because the miners had a real grievance. To-day, older miners still in the industry remember that that prosecution was launched, and that the government of the day did not go on with it. Without casting any reflection upon the dead, the fact is that when Mr. Brown died the greatest beneficiary under his will was Sir Adrian Knox, who was the Chief Justice of the day. Those things are not forgotten by the miners. As the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) has pointed out, almost every strike is due to provocation. With the exception of the coal-miners’, the trade union movement has done a phenomenal job during the war. The railway men have carried greater tonnages and worked for longer hours with very slight interruptions. They have not been presented with medals, and they have not received cheers or bonuses. They have done a colossal war job in carrying army stores and troops throughout Australia, and have earned the ‘admiration of Allied leaders in Australia. The shipping employees also have carried on uninterruptedly. With very few exceptions the men. on the waterfront have done a colossal job. The Minister for Supply and Shipping, who controls that department, can tell the Senate that the average load handled by each man in Australia i* greater than that handled by workers on the waterfronts in other countries. Of course, some men in that industry have desired to cause trouble, and the union* concerned have handled that section well. We put an army of men into munitions factories to do jobs which they were not used to, but they carried out that work with credit to themselves.
Our present system of industrial conciliation and arbitration must have the attention of this Government. The trade union movement is not satisfied with t system under which legal men hear highly technical cases. Certainly, the services of legal men will have to be retained in order to determine the legal aspects of problems arising in industry ; but to suggest that any lawyer, even the most able, including men with such brilliant minda as Sir Owen Dixon, the present AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt), or the present Chief Justice, Sir John Latham, is qualified to say how much a worker must live on is too stupid for words. I say that from my long experience as a trade union advocate in the Arbitration Court. On behalf of the Australian Railways Union, I handled probably the greatest number of trades covered by any union in this country. The late Sir John Quick always impressed upon me not to indulge in long briefs. He said, “ Tell me in plain language what this means? Why should this employee have an increase of wages ? “ Sir John Quick was an outstanding man at arbitration work. The labour movement to-day seeks industrial tribunals composed of representatives of the employer and the employee, with an independent chairman. Who the chairman is does not concern us, so long as we can eliminate from the arbitration courts the hordes of legal men who have been reaping such a harvest from the workers of this country. I recall that on one occasion when I handled a claim for a shorter working week on behalf of the Australian Railways Union in the Arbitration Court in Melbourne, I had opposed to me - a layman, although, of course, a railway man with some knowledge of railway work - the present
Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies), and Mr. Ellis, representing the Victorian Railways Commissioner. These eminent legal men were retained by the employing organization to oppose a legitimate claim by railway men who at that time were receiving a basic wage which was 2s. 9d. a day less than the basic wage payable in other industries. That case cost the Australian Railways Union £29,000 in cash. We had to pay for our copies of the transcript of evidence, and we had to pay travelling and other expenses incurred by witnesses. “When the depression came some years later, the same judges who made the awards on that occasion slashed them by 25 per cent.
The industrial position in this country is as satisfactory as it is in any part of the world. Arbitration is one of the greatest blessings ever enjoyed by this country. The Arbitration Court is the industrial policeman. It ensures that employers shall pay a minimum wage and not work employees in excess of the maximum hours prescribed. Our arbitration system has achieved a great deal for the workers of this country.
– It should not be biased.
– Ordinarily it is not. Employers’ organizations have ample representation on all tribunals, and have always put up fierce resistance to claims by unions. Under the industrial code system, the employers’ representative would sit on a tribunal as an expert in the industry concerned, and the representative of the union would sit as an expert from the employees’ point of view. They would know what they were talking about. Why introduce lawyers to befuddle the rank and file of the people? Generally speaking, Australia is well served industrially. How many people in this country realize the conditions which operated on the waterfront not many years ago when the Bruce-Page Government introduced the hideous Waterside Workers Regulations? In those days, waterside workers were herded into a yard where they stood like sheep until they were either called and given a job, or allowed to slink away.
They decided that conditions had to be improved, and they did succeed in getting concessions from the then Government.
-. - That is not the whole story.
– It is as much of the story as is required, in my opinion. In 1928, members of the Bruce-Page Government - some of them are still in this Parliament - were so concerned about the rights and welfare of returned soldiers that they allowed 1,700 “ diggers “ of the last war to be thrown out of employment on the waterfront. No protest was made either in the House of Representatives or in this chamber by the parties to which honorable senators opposite belong.
– They were breaking the law.
– They were not breaking the law to any greater degree than it has been broken in thousands of industrial disputes throughout the world. On that occasion the rank and file of the union protested against a certain award. We did all we could to ensure that regulations which were harmful to the workers were not brought into operation, and we lived to see those regulations withdrawn. To-day, that union is doing a splendid job in the interests of this country. I leave the question of arbitration with this comment: Arbitration is necessary for the workers of this country. If necessary, the system can be altered. The Government has promised an inquiry into the basic wage. Unfortunately this Parliament has not the industrial powers to do all that the Government would like it to do. That does not prevent the Government from examining every claim made by organized workers. For instance, if representatives of the Chamber of Manufactures come to me, in my capacity as Minister for Trade and Customs, to discuss anything to do with Australian trade, I hear their claims and do all that I can to see that the section of industry represented is, as far as possible, given all that it wants. The organized workers should have the same right.
Senator Leckie referred to “ guesswork “ in the budget, and said that some explanation should have been given of the method by which the reduction of a round £100,000,000 had been made in the Estimates for this year. When the Estimates were Being prepared, every item was thoroughly scrutinized in the light of changed conditions resulting from the cessation of hostilities. The Estimates are based on the maximum information available at this stage of the Government’s activities during the present financial year. Over 80 per cent. of the estimated war expenditure for this year represented inescapable war commitments. Major examples are pay and allowances for the armed forces, £178,000,000; overseas war expenditure, £62,000,000; interest and sinking fund payments in respect of our new war debt, £42,000,000. It would, therefore, be misleading to hold out any hope of a substantial reduction of expenditure below the estimated figures. Nevertheless, in each service department a committee has been established to examine staffing arrangements with a view to effecting economies. These committees work unceasingly. In any case, the reduction of £100,000,000 effected in this year’s budget is very substantial in view of what has been achieved for Australia. These achievements are due not only to the work of the Government, but also to the assistance of every member of the Parliament. We all agreed that we would not grudge expenditure for war purposes and would provide whatever was necessary for the prosecution of a maximum effort. In order to do this, the Government has had to establish huge departments, and this has necessitated heavy expenditure. In spite of the difficulties withwhich it has been faced, the Government has reduced taxes by one-eighth already. It is impossible to reduce many of the items of expenditure contained in the budget. In addition to pay and allowances for the services, overseas war debts, and interest and sinking fund payments, the Government must provide £75,000,000 for war gratuity payments and £70,000,000 for deferred pay. It is stupid of people to expect large remissions of taxation when these amounts have to be met. The Government cannot grant large remissions.
– It will do so next year.
SenatorKEANE. - It will not dangle carrots before the electors. Senator
Leckie also said that adequate information relating to estimated expenditure had not been supplied in the budget or in the budget speech. In the war years, estimates of expenditure on direct war services were confined for security reasons to overall totals. Fortunately, security limitations are no longer necessary, and the form of the Estimates has been changed accordingly. However, it has never been the custom to explain every item of the Estimates in the budget speech. The fullest information is given as the items are considered in the actual discussion of the Estimates. The honorable gentleman also said that many subsidies were unnecessary, and that subsidies to uneconomic industries should be discontinued. Under the Government’s prices stabilization plan, subsidies are paid only in respect of goods which are essential to the national economy. I know this to be a fact, because this work is done largely bythe department of which I am ministerial head. Subsidies are paid only to the extent that is necessary to cover increased costs of production which cannot be absorbed by manufacturers or producers owing to the application of ceiling prices. The aim of prices stabilization was to keep the basic wage stable. The Government said to the employers, in effect: “ Do not increase the prices of your commodities. If the costs of raw materials rise, subsidies will be paid to you.” That is what has been done. As a result of this,, the cost-of-living index has been kept stable at the level prevailing in March, 1943. This has been a notable achievement. The continuation of subsidies this year is evidence of the Government’s intention to do everything possible to prevent a rise of prices such as occurred after the war of 1914-18. To-day’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald paysa high tribute to the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner, Professor Copland, who, unfortunately, will be leaving the Government Service at the end of this month, for the magnificent work done by his department in stabilizing the cost of living and staving off what looked like a dangerous threat of currency inflation.
– The critics have got rid of him at last.
– They often criticized him, but it is good to see him praised by a leading non-Labour journal. Senator Leckie also said that, since lendlease had ceased, reciprocal lend-lease expenditure should also cease. Those negotiations are still proceeding in Washington, and the Government is hopeful that the results will be satisfactory. Australia has received from the United States of America lend-lease aid of tremendous proportions, and, in return, has supplied reciprocal lend-lease goods to the maximum of its capacity. Without American help, I do not know what would have happened to Australia. A statement will be made on the matter when the negotiations have proceeded further.
Senator Leckie said that the 12£ per cent, reduction of the income tax is inadequate. My reply is that neither New Zealand nor the United Kingdom has reduced taxation. In presenting revised estimates of war expenditure for 1945-46, the New Zealand Minister of Finance stated that there was no scope for adjustment of taxation this financial year. In the United Kingdom, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not yet presented revised estimates, but has warned the public against “extravagant” expectation of relief from taxation. Any further redaction of taxation in Australia would increase the budget gap of £152,000.000, which must be financed from loans, with a consequential further increase of the annual charge on the budget for the servicing of debts. Inflation must be guarded against in the transition period when supplies available to the public are not sufficient to meet the demand. Some indication of the size of the problem is given by the fact th;n spending power in the hands of the public has more than doubled during the war. Price control must be supported by a sound financial policy. The Government is asking the States to transfer to the Commonwealth authorities the right to continue price control after the legal termination of the war. I do not know what the final answer of the States on that matter will be.
Senator J. B. Hayes said that vegetable dehydration plants in Tasmania should not be closed down, particularly when markets for dehydrated vegetable? exist and could be developed in eastern States. My reply is that such dehydration factories were originally established to meet the needs of the services for products in a dehydrated form. The Government would welcome civilian demands for dehydrated vegetables, so that the plants might be kept in operation. It remains to be seen whether demands from civilian, markets will eventuate oi’ any appreciable scale. Unless such demands are likely to be of a continuing nature, it would be unwise to encourage the production of vegetables in a form in which the prospects of sale are uncertain.
Senator Cooper remarked that a statement was required of Government policy on tobacco production in Australia, and that the growers would respond if the,* were assured of some stability for tb<> industry. In reply to the honorable senator, I point out that the Government is now paying a subsidy to growers equal to 10 per cent, of the gross proceeds of their 1943-44 and 1944-45 marketable leaf, amounting to about £77,000. The Government is at present examining methods by which growers may enjoy stability under marketing methods which can be utilized under peace-time conditions. The recommendations of the Tobacco Leaf Investigation Committee, which were formulated prior to the termination of hostilities, are now being reconsidered, having regard to such points as the change-over of controls of marketing to peace-time conditions. It is hoped that Cabinet will shortly be able to consider this matter. Australia consumes in a. normal year 25,000,000 of tobacco, of which about 5,000,000 lb. is grown in this country. Tobacco production is an industry which should receive the attention of primary producers, operating in a small way, provided they take up the industry in suitable areas. Tobacco is a crop for which there is an assured market. There will be a world shortage of tobacco. Australia, imports from America every year 18,000,000 lb. of tobacco leaf, and the alteration of the dollar position makes it all the more necessary that the tobacco industry of Australia should be encouraged in every possible way.
– The best Australian tobacco is grown in Queensland.
– Good tobacco also conies from Western Australia. I have smoked unblended tobacco produced in the Ovens Valley in Victoria, and although it is a little strong, it is as good a tobacco as any I have ever smoked.
Senator Gibson stated that Australian manufacturers purchased wool below the appraised price, and that, in effect, Australian manufacturers are therefore being subsidized by the wool growers. I point out to the Senate that the growers are not subsidizing manufacturers as suggested. In respect of wool purchased by Australian manufacturers, growers are receiving the equivalent of the full contract price as paid by the United Kingdom on all wool purchased from Australia. The wool purchased by Australian manufacturers is subsidized by the Government under the price stabilization plan, in order to stabilize the price of finished materials for civilian consumption.
Senator Gibson also said that the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land was being delayed by the Commonwealth Government’s failure to introduce the necessary legislation to provide the finance required to enable the States to proceed with the scheme. My answer is that legislation covering the agreements made with the States in connexion with war service land settlement will be dealt with by the Parliament before the end of the present sittings. The Commonwealth has already given approval to the necessary steps being taken in some States to acquire lands for sub-division and disposal to servicemen ; but the Government will resist any tendency towards illconsidered and hurried settlement, which was a fruitful cause of unsuccessful settlement after the last war. Proper examination of settlement proposals involves the consideration of many aspects and cannot be carried out hurriedly.
Senator Gibson further stated ;
I visited a factory a week ago and was amazed to see a number of men making machinery for war purposes. I asked the foreman what was to be done with the machinery. He told -me that it was destined for New Guinea, and when I asked him if it would ever be used, he said, “ No, it will go straight to the Disposals Commission and be sold”. 1 have no doubt that thousand a oi factories are engaged in the sams sort of wasteful production.
Advice has been received from the Munitions Department that the “war production “ which Senator Gibson referred to yesterday in the Senate covers the making of wheels known technically as “ barrows, drum, W.D. Mark II. “ They are used for communication purposes, and the firm in question ha3 an order placed by the Munitions Department on behalf of the ‘ Eastern Group Supply Council. One hundred and sixtyeight of the wheels have already been delivered, and the total order covers 500 wheels. The equipment is still needed by the Eastern Group Supply Council and will be paid for by that body.
Senator Gibson said that there wai evidence of unnecessary expenditure and waste of man-power in that goods were being produced merely for sale by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. To that criticism I reply that no production is being continued where it is more economical to terminate a contract and compensate the contractor. In some instances, it has been considered sound business practice to complete contracts and dispose of completed articles rather than terminate contracts and be faced with the necessity to dispose of scrap materials.
There has been much comment in the press and elsewhere regarding the alleged failure of the Government to control black-marketing. A statement covering the period of eighteen months ended May, 1945, shows that the Prices Commission secured 1,983 convictions, that fines imposed aggregated ?19,553 and that 1,003 cases were pending at the end of May. There were 199 convictions in regard to the illegal disposal of liquor, the fines imposed being ?18,840. At the end of May, 225 cases were pending. The Rationing Commission secured 759 convictions in that period and fines totalled ?8,663. At the end of the period, 194’ cases were outstanding. There were 408 conviction* by the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, and the fines imposed totalled ?6,119. On the 31st May, 360 cases were pending. In addition, the Department of Supply and Shipping had secured 3,349 convictions ; the fines imposed by the courts totalled £53,175. At the end of tha period mentioned, 1,780 cases remained unsettled.
– What has it cost to obtain evidence to secure convictions ?
– It has cost a great deal; no policeman works for nothing. Price fixing, rationing, and the control of liquor are unpopular measures in the view of people who have no respect for the law. My object in citing those figures £b to show that the Government has been active in its efforts to stamp out black-marketing. It will continue those efforts Until supplies of controlled goods are more plentiful. If, for instance, liquor controls were lifted to-morrow, there would not be such a demand for beer, and consequently there would be less black-marketing. The policing of these controls has necessitated the employment of hundreds of investigators, all of whom have to be trained men.
Senator Lamp referred to the basic wage, which he said was inadequate. I have already stated that a committee is investigating this matter and will present a report to the Government..
Tha control of house rents has been the subject of much thought by the Government, but the system of rent pegging which is in operation has resulted in household rents being kept at rates only slightly above those ruling in December, 1939. Nevertheless, there are still abuses, particularly in regard to the rental of rooms and flats. This matter is now under the control of another Minister, who is taking steps to deal with it.
Senator Sampson complained of looting on Australian wharfs. The Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) has this matter in hand, and a sub-committee of Cabinet is watching it closely. Some time ago, the Police Commissioners of the several States were called into conference with a view to preventing losses of goods. The South Australian Commissioner of Police said that h.3 7ent on board two vessels at Port Adelaide before any waterside workers or other local persons were permitted aboard. He examined the hold of the chip in which a large quantity of cigarettes, some whisky, and other liquor were supposed to be stored, but he found that the hold contained neither cigarettes nor liquor. Obviously, the pillaging of that cargo had occurred before the vessel reached Australian ports. Considerable doubt exists as to whether some goods which are said to have been stolen in Australia ever left the ports at which they are supposed to have been loaded. There is evidence that looting ha3 occurred on Australian wharfs, but individual waterside workers could not be responsible for robbery on a wholesale scale. Evidently some big organization is at work. The Minister for Supply and Shipping has a special squad of men on this work, and they are assisted by expert men of the Trade and Customs Department. As the result of their activities, looting has decreased considerably during recent months. Senator Sampson’s statements that Australian waterside workers generally are dishonest is inaccurate. In every section of the community there are some individuals who will take other people’s property if they can get it, but such persons represent a small proportion of the community.
Reference has been made to Australia’s future defence policy, A decision in regard to this matter will have to wait until the world affairs settle down.
There has been some criticism of the Division of Import Procurement. As private merchants were unable to obtain supplies from overseas, all business with other countries had to be done through that division. It was in constant communication with the Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and India, which then placed orders with overseas manufacturers. All transactions were between the governments concerned. They had to provide ships to convey the goods, and escorts to protect convoys. When the goods arrived at Australian ports, they were distributed equitably to private traders. Yet some stupid people say that the Government is in the hands of bureaucrats.
The Scully wheat plan, under which a guaranteed price was fixed for wheat, has been criticized, but had it not been for that plan, a’ll wheat grown in Australia in excess of the quantity required for home consumption would not have been worth £d. a bushel. Under the plan the Commonwealth Bank has provided finance up to about £24,000,000 a season. Markets had to be found overseas. Ships had to be provided to transport that produce, and those vessels had to be convoyed. However, during the referendum campaign opponents of the Government’s proposals described all this necessary administrative activity as interference with the rights of the individual. I say again that but for action taken by the Government private enterprise would have been put out of business. The Government will go out of this business as soon as it can, but not until it is satisfied that the supply position in Australia has been fully safeguarded. The Division of Import Procurement handled hundreds of millions of pounds worth of goods under lend-lease. It carried on the whole of the import trade of this country with a staff of 1,900 in Australia, and about 400 stationed abroad, principally at Ottawa and San Francisco. The staffs of the division in Canada and the United States of America have been considerably reduced within the last six months. They have done a wonderful job for Australia.
I agree with Senator Collett’s representations with respect to the provision of proper accommodation on passenger trains when sleepers are not provided. Under such conditions, the New South Wales Department of Railways has a duty to members of the Commonwealth Parliament to provide proper rolling stock on trains travelling to and from Canberra. I understand that that matter is now being investigated by that department. The inconvenience of having to sit Up all night is a grave inconvenience to all members of this Parliament. It might be said that Ministers have the use of motor cars. Under normal conditions, I should sooner travel by train than by motor car.
Senator Cooper requested that the bonus in respect of the destruction of dingoes be increased from 15s. a head to £1 a head. I shall have that matter inquired into.
This is the Government’s first post-war budget. The Estimates are estimates only; it is not to be assumed that the appropriations asked for will be expended in full in all cases. Economies will have to be effected wherever possible. As o,ur commitments in respect of the Army, Navy, and Air Force diminish, the expenditure of the departments concerned will be correspondingly decreased. On the other hand, some departments may have to be increased during the year. The social services section is assuming tremendous proportions. I have not heard one honorable senator dissent from the proposal to increase expenditure on social services by £25,000,000. Much has been said about the abolition of the means test. With the abolition of that test, every person in the community could claim the benefits provided, and it is estimated that this would involve an increase of expenditure of £35,000,000.
– What is wrong with that?
– I, personally, should prefer to go the whole way, because I believe that any person who contributes towards a benefit should be entitled to receive that benefit without being subject to any other test. The abolition of the means test would mean that pensions would be payable as a right and not as charity. However, whilst every section in need of social service benefits - the sick, the aged, widows, orphans, the blind - are provided for, no provision whatever is made in respect of members of Parliament. I have been in and out of this Parliament, and I know the difficulties which confront a member should he lose hig seat. Each candidate must incur considerable expenditure, and he may be a member for one, or three years, or longer. Following a swing of the political pendulum he may lose his seat. However, for some extraordinary reason an exmember of Parliament to-day is regarded by the community as a whole as if he were a death adder. We just accept this state of affairs. The whole position demands investigation with a view to making provision for members of Parliament so that when their service on behalf of the people is concluded some recognition of that service will be made. Some honorable members and honorable senators are somewhat nervous when talking about the rights of members of Parliament in this respect. I have no hesitation in putting before the country the case for members on this point, because I look upon the treatment of members in this respect as one of the outstanding anomalies of our present social services system. Every section of the community in need of help is provided for except the ex-member pf Parliament. Perhaps the loss of a parliamentary seat is not felt acutely by some honorable senators opposite who are blessed with a fair share of the goods of this world ; but when the average member, after years of service in the interest, of the people, loses his seat, his only prospect is the industrial scrap heap. As an ex-member of Parliament he is treated as a man with no brains, and as one who is not worthy of a job. The people outside regard members of Parliament as cheaply as we regard ourselves. The average man believes that members of Parliament are under no expense to live, that their board, drinks and smokes cost them nothing.
– And tl fc popular belief is that a member of Parliament does not pay income tax.
– That is so. I am a Minister, and I know what my net income is. At present, I am drawing a little’ beyond my own breath. It is stupid to appoint men to highly responsible ministerial positions and, at the same time, leave them to their own resources to worry constantly over their financial position. Many people believe that members of Parliament do not pay income tax. I, personally, shall do my best to see that some move shall be made to make provision for members of Parliament in respect of social services benefits. Such provision is long overdue. It would at least awaken the people of Australia to a realization that the job of a member of Parliament is not what most people believe it to be. At the committee stage I shall supply detailed information required with respect to individual items in the Estimates.
– I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the Government for the opportunity given to me to accompany the Australian delegation to the San Francisco Conference. I very much
regret the untimely death of the exPrime Minister, Mr. Curtin. I do not propose to deal with the Estimates at length, because I appreciate the fact that a heavy programme is awaiting our attention, and that the Senate has been working laboriously for the last seven months. I express appreciation to my colleague, Senator Leckie, for the splendid work he performed as Acting Leader of the Opposition during my absence. I have read with interest the speech made in the Senate by Senator Nash dealing with his experience abroad as a member of the Australian delegation to the San Francisco Conference. I propose to deal with some of the great problems which will confront Australia in common with other countries in the near future. The San Francisco conference was successful beyond the most optimistic expectations of most delegates. The spirit displayed was excellent. Delegates realized that if agreement could not be obtained upon the Charter, the only alternative was to prepare for the next war. Foremost in their minds was the knowledge that only 21 years after the conclusion of the war of 1914-18, despite the good intentions of many countries, the world had been plunged into the most dreadful war in its history. There was much discussion of the wording of the Charter, and the spirit displayed in many directions was commendable; but what really matters is the spirit in which the nations of the world accept the Charter; the spirit in which the peoples of the world realize their obligation, through their members of Parliament, at least, to take an intelligent interest in national and international affairs, especially those matters which can lead to a lasting peace.
During my absence, Senator Leckie presented to this chamber a short precis of my conclusions regarding the San Francisco conference; therefore, I do not propose to speak in detail of the agreement reached. Both Senator Nash and I realized the day we left Sydney for San Francisco that one consideration was what we could do for Australia, and that party politics must be left behind. It is quite evident, from our experience at San Francisco, that at any future world conference any government will be well advised to ensure that all its delegates, whether from its own side of Parliament, or from the Opposition side, shall attend as fully accredited representatives. Of the 50 nations represented at San Francisco, Australia was the only country in whose delegation members of the opposition parties and some government members were not fully accredited delegates. That was a distinct disadvantage. I am making this suggestion, not in criticism of the Government, but because I believe that the experiment should not be repeated. “When I accepted the government offer to join the delegation, it was made plain to me that I would go as a consultant and an observer, and having accepted those conditions, I did my best to fulfil them.
I am sure that all members of the Australian delegation returned from San Francisco convinced that more attention should be paid by this Parliament to the defence of Australia and to international affairs generally, and that consideration of these matters should be above party politics. So far baciii as 1938, 1 suggested that this Parliament should have a standing all-party committee on foreign affairs, and I understand that the former Prime Minister, the late Mr. Curtin, ‘had practically agreed to that suggestion just before he became ill. Support for that proposal was also voiced by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies). I suggest to the Leader of the Senate that every effort be made as soon as possible to constitute such a committee in order that important matters affecting Australia’s relationships with other countries may be adequately considered, and the Parliament and the people informed upon them. It was interesting and pleasing to me that the greatest tribute paid to any delegate to the San Francisco conference was that paid to the British Foreign Secretary, Mr. Anthony Eden. That tribute was not only .an expression of the appreciation of other delegates of Mr. Eden’s speech, but also of the people of Great Britain for the tremendous sacrifices they made during the war and are still making. We were pleased indeed to have an opportunity, after travelling through Canada and the United States of America, to visit Great Britain. Our experiences there brought home to us the fact that during the war Britain had suffered more than we imagined. Not only had the people made great sacrifices and suffered considerable loss of life, but also they had endured great hardships because of food shortages. We saw visible signs of their terrible struggle during six years of war. Anything that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) can do in order that Great Britain shall have more food, even though it may mean imposing a more severe rationing upon the people of this country, will have my wholehearted support as Leader of the Opposition. Frequently in the past the Minister for Trade and Customs has admonished those who have complained about rationing; if these people could see how important it is for us to continue the rationing of ‘foodstuffs on an even more severe scale than applies to-day, in order that more food may be sent to Great Britain, they would not protest. That matter is worthy of consideration by this Parliament.
I am grateful to the British Government for having given us an opportnuity to visit Germany. There we could see what a dreadful experience it was to be under the military rule of a foreign power, and to be living in cities which had been totally destroyed. The destruction wrought in huge cities such as Bremen, Hamburg, and Essen is almost beyond description. One could readily appreciate the effectiveness of powerful British bombs. For instance, travelling along the canals one could see barges which had been blown right out of the water into the adjacent fields. The destruction was terrific. In Hamburg we were informed by an intelligence officer that no fewer than 40,000 people had been killed in one raid alone. In this, the greatest seaport of Europe, docks, factories, and shops had been completely destroyed, and many people were still living in the ruins, searching the debris for friends and relatives who were still missing. The rehabilitation of Germany will be a terrific task. We could not help feeling that although the blow inflicted upon the German people had been cruel, it was necessary to teach them what war meant. We left Germany with the feeling that if we, a,s members of Parliament, were ever so foolish in the future as to fail to provide adequately for the defence of our country, we would be guilty of criminal neglect. Australia came very close to occupation by the Germans, or the Japanese, which would have been much worse, especially for the women and children, than the military occupation of Germany by the Allies has been for the German people. We must be serious in our consideration of these matters, and not allow ourselves to be influenced by wishful thinking or complacency. We should all firmly resolve that in the future the defence of our country shall he of prime importance. Ai San Francisco, it was necessary to makeimportant improvements to the Covenant, of the League of Nations. One of the achievements which received little publicity in the newspapers was the unanimous agreement of the 50 nations to take unto themselves power to enforce the laws of peace. That was a very important step towards world security. We know from experience that, unless we a,re in a position to enforce the laws of peace, we are likely to have trouble. I left S’an Francisco convinced that it was still of the utmost importance for us to do everything possible to maintain unity within the British Empire, and to maintain the closest co-operation with the people of the United States of America, whose interests are closely linked with our own. I was pleased to find that Americans were very interested in Australia’s immigration policy. While I was abroad, I read reports of the speech by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) announcing the Government’s decision to provide free passages to Australia for members of British Empire fighting services and their dependants who wished to settle here. This decision was received exceptionally well in London. Australia’s immigration officer there was doing a splendid job. He was receiving 1,500 applications a week, and many people were interested in what Australia had to offer them. In France there was also great interest in our immigration policy, and I am satisfied that thousands of Frenchmen would be prepared to come to Australia if they were offered free transport and decent living conditions in this country. I suggest to the. Leader of the
Senate that the Government consider providing free transport to Australia for members of the American fighting forces as a gesture of appreciation of their splendid services in the war. I am sure that this would encourage many Americans to settle in Australia. American business men were particularly interested in the opportunities provided for investment in Australia, and were anxious to learn of the Government’s policy on overseas investments. The Government should state its policy clearly so that business concerns which already have interests here and others wishing to make investments here will be assured of obtaining a reasonable return for their outlay. The Government’s decision to reduce taxation is a step in the right direction, but I should like to see a much greater reduction than has been decided upon. In the United States of America, people were very much concerned about the question of nationalization of industry in Australia. If the Government is anxious to encourage American investments, it should give a definite assurance that industries will not be nationalized. That is very important. There was a great deal of ill feeling in America arising from the fact that investors received very small returns after the Australian Government had taken substan tial sums in taxation. I know that the heavy tax rates were war-time impositions and that other countries were forced to make similar levies. However, existing restrictions should be lifted as soon as possible. The present high rates of tax will scare off American investors. In order to encourage immigration, we must develop industry and stimulate investments, and by doing so we can secure a great deal of help from American capital.
The delegation was treated with great courtesy and given all possible assistance by Australian overseas representatives in every country which it visited. These men are overworked, and. now that the wax has ended, their staffs should be increased and better conditions should be provided for them. It was obvious in some countries that, as the result -of extraordinarily high prices, some of our representatives were not adequately remunerated. There ought to be a good shaking up in the Department of External
Affairs. We experienced same delays as the result of the heavy volume of work being performed by small staffs in our overseas offices. Australia must continue to play an important role in the realm of international politics. Only by the closest co-operation with other peace-loving countries can we help to prevent war in the future. Many serious economic problems confront Australia. Those of us who studied the discussions at Bretton Woods in July, 1944, realized that, after the war, there must be a certain amount of muddling, unemployment, and shortages of raw materials, which will be followed by a. tremendous trade boom. In order to avoid the disruption which occurred after the war of 1914-1S, it is necessary to have the closest possible economic and financial co-operation between nations. The United States of America considers that other countries are reluctant to approach this problem. After the war of 1914-18, various nations depreciated exchange, increased tariff rates, and did other things which caused a virtual economic war, which helped to bring about the economic depression more than anything else. The United States of America is prepared to take the lead to prevent a recurrence of such a catastrophe. I was interested to read that representatives of Australia have discussed these post-war problems with representatives of Great Britain, America and other nations. If something could be done to speed up decisions arising from these discussions, the prospects of maintaining world-wide economic Stability would be increased. In my opinion, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), as Treasurer, should visit Washington and London while the negotiations are being carried out’ in order to facilitate the making of decisions. I do not disparage our technical representatives, but they can only take the discussions to a certain point. The appropriate Ministers of the nations concerned should meet in order to make prompt decisions. Without quick decisions, there will be confusion.
It has been said that the Americans took a high-handed attitude in terminating lend-lease arrangements. Some of the trouble in this connexion was due to the fact that the elections and the consequent change of government in .Great Britain caused delay. Trouble and inconvenience were caused because it was impossible for British Ministers to take part in conferences with American representatives in order to make prompt decisions. Prom my association with officials associated with the American Department of State, and with those Americans whom I met at the San Francisco Conference, I can say with confidence that the present feeling in America towards Great Britain is totally different from that after the first world war. Americans in high places arc most appreciative of the great sacrifice that Great Britain has made, and the people of the United States of America are anxious that the co-operation which has been most marked between the two countries during the war should continue. The best advertisement which Australia has received has been provided by the fighting qualities of its men in arms, and the next best has been due to the cordial hospitality extended to American servicemen in this ‘country. The present feeling of goodwill and friendship should be fostered. Australia’s claims in connexion with world affairs should be pressed, and wide interest should be aroused in Australia in international problems. Australia is as much concerned with the defence of Singapore, and about Egyptian affairs, as it is with the defence of Darwin. Australia is to be represented on an international commission which will enable it to play its part in determining what shall be done to J apan, and that is an important matter .to the people of the Commonwealth. When the debates were proceeding at the San Francisco conference, the heroic deeds of Australia’s fighting forces placed the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) and the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) in a position which enabled them to push our claims for a fair deal in the settlement of Pacific affairs. When our representatives were confronted with a few sticky problems, the delegates from Great Britain helped us all they possibly could. I am sure that the members of the Australian delegation returned convinced that if the people of the British Empire stood together, and co-operated with the United States of America, great advantage would result. I heard no complaint when Australia’s claims were presented vigorously, fairly and squarely.
I f they are pressed in any other way, we shall run the risk of making enemies. Australia cannot sit back and let matters drift, internationally, as it has done in the past. I hope to deal with this subject in greater detail on another occasion. I urge honorable senators to consider international problems free from party political bias. The people should be kept well informed on international affairs, so that their interest will not slacken. That is the only way to prevent future wars. I have sufficient confidence to say that, with the co-operation of the United States of America and Great Britain, everything possible will be done to preserve peace and bring about a better world.
Senator BRAND (Victoria) [4.21 J For many years to come it will be necessary to provide in the annual Estimates very large sums for defence purposes. Whether the money be provided by taxation or bank credit, it must be found. T.n addition to the small contribution which Australia, as a signatory to the United Nations Charter, will be called upon to make towards the cost of ensuring world peace and security, there is an obligation to provide for our own local defence. That implies the occupation of territories which an aggressive force might conceivably use as spring boards in order to attack Australia. Our future protection is linked with that of New Zealand. Since the combined resources of the two Dominions will be unequal to the task of defending these territories, in addition to greater protection of their home lands, co-operation with Britain and the Netherlands East Indies is imperative. Reciprocal arrangements with Portugal to acquire Timor should present no difficulty. No defence of the Australian perimeter from the Solomons Islands to Timor, will be complete without co-ordination of our defences ^ with the United States of America’s vast defence system in the Pacific. It is of vital interest to have the strong arm of America reaching southward towards our northern territories, and Britain’s stretching out again from Singapore. The recent threat of invasion made us resolve never again to allow our defences to become weakened. To suggest that, as the war is over, we propose now to relapse into a state of isolational lotus-eating is surely to invite disaster of the kind which in 1942 all but overwhelmed u&. There is very little hope of any relief from taxation if money for defence is to be provided.
After the first world war, the defence of Australia became a party political matter, but never again must our national safety be the football of party politics. Some honorable senators, judging by recent speeches, pin their faith for world peace to Uncio and the atomic bomb. I remind them that, with the passing of years, some international friendships grew, some faded and some were broken. Time alone will tell whether the outward signs of unity will endure, but one cannot be sure of the future. T remind them, too, that every scientific device for waging ruthless war has brought forth a counter. It did not take the Allies long to discover the secrets of the Nazi V1 and V2 bombs and produce counter measures to minimize or nullify their destructive power. After the 1914-18 war, poison gas more deadly than was then encountered was to be the deterring influence against a future war. Notwithstanding the fact that poison gas was outlawed by the Hague Convention, the Axis powers would have used it but for the fact that the Nazi, secret service knew that Britain possessed laboratories capable of making a more deadly gas, and an effective means of countering Axisproduced gas. At some future date, no doubt, representatives of the warring nations will meet and place the atomic bomb on the prohibited list of war weapons. If that be not done, the next war will destroy mankind. Science does not stand still. An atomic bomb counter is sure to be discovered.
Home defence preparations must go forward. We shall have some idea of what will be needed after the Security Council completes its deliberations. A strong naval squadron, of which the aircraft carrier and the submarine are vital components, a considerable increase of our pre-war Royal Australian Air Force, together with adequate land forces, will have to be considered. Prior to the second world war, it was fashionable to decry the part an army would play in any future war. The infantryman was a back number, the critics said. But the war just ended has brought out three facts. First, all battles and all wars are “won in the end by the infantryman. Secondly, the infantryman bears the brunt. His casualties are heavier, and he suffers greater extremes of discomfort and fatigue than the other arms. Thirdly, the art of the infantryman is less stereotyped and far harder to acquire in modern war than that of any other arm. The infantry has to use initiative and intelligence at almost every step and in every action on the battlefield. General Montgomery’s description of the foot soldier is “ a cross between a billygoat and a duck. With the heart of a lion and the tenacity of a bull-dog, he is still the winner of battles “. I make these observations in the hope that the Infantry in our peace army will have some distinguishing emblem, apart from the regimental badge. If a voluntary Standing army is to be created and maintained up to strength, the daily rate of pay must be commensurate with the pay in civil occupations. Prior to the outbreak of the first world war, the Australian permanent forces did not exceed 5,000 of all ranks, most of whom were coast defence garrisons. Nothing Jess than a standing army of permanent field units, supplemented by the universal training of our young men will suffice for the future defence of the Commonwealth. I leave others to decide what shall be the period of training of these youths as prospective reserves for the Navy, Army and Air Force. In pre-war-days there was a defence committee consisting of the heads of the three fighting services, with two or three others co-opted when necessary. As an associate member and a full member of the Military Board for seven yeans, 1 know something about that committee: Its recommendations, more often than not, were cast aside. Political expediency, with one eye on the next election, had much to do with the partial unpreparedness of Australia. This must not occur again. Defence policy will have to be formulated in a national spirit. Defence preparedness is a continuing responsibility, not something that can be whittled down by succeeding Governments for vote catching reasons. Continuity of policy is the very essence of defence preparedness.
I have placed a question on to-morrow’s notice-paper asking whether, before the Government determines its home defence policy, an all-party committee will be appointed to consider recommendations on the matter by representatives of the three fighting services. If that is done it will be a good start towards keeping the defence of this country above party politics.
.- I should not have participated in this debate but for the attempt of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) to answer criticism of the Government by Opposition senators. Even then, I might not have spoken had not the Minister attempted to justify the policy of. the Government in dealing with industrial disputes. Evidently, he knew that the Government was vulnerable, because he put up a spirited defence. Three matters are of paramount importance to the people of Australia at this time the rehabilitation of service men and women, housing, and industrial relations. I have never heard a more feeble attempt to justify inaction on the part of any government than I heard to-day. The Minister showed that the Government was completely without hope of being able to control the workers of Australia. In the opinion of the Government; the coal-miners are a privileged class. In effect, the Minister said, “Thank God they are not as other men are; they are deserving of special consideration; they are entitled to go their own way, even to the point of holding the people to ransom “. Not one word of blame fell from the Minister’s lips, notwithstanding that the coal-miners have deprived the people of Australian cities of warmth, the fighting forces of necessary supplies, and travellers of reasonable comforts. Apparently, these men are above the law; they are not to be treated as other Australians or Britishers are treated, but are to be regarded as supermen who must be pleaded with. The Minister has shown clearly that the Government is utterly incapable of controlling coal-miners and waterside workers. But his speech to-day was more than an admission of helplessness; it was an incitement to these men to continue to hold up industry and to throw out of gear the whole economic fabric of the country. He said, in effect, “ Go on, gentlemen ; the Government can’t do anything. Carry on as you like; we give up the ghost “.
– What would the honorable senator do if he were in office?
– I would make it clear that the Government intended to govern the country; and if I found that I could not do anything, 1 would get out. If one small section of the community is to be encouraged by the Government to continue to hold up the nation, we are in for a bad time. I am sick of hearing that coal-mining is a dangerous, dirty and degrading occupation. It is nothing of the kind. I could name many other industries in which the conditions are less pleasant. In spite of the efforts of the Coal Controller to mechanize the mines in order to improve working conditions, the miners continually obstruct attempts at mechanization. Are we to understand that coal-miners are of a superior breed to the rest of the workers of Australia, and that therefore they must be allowed to run the country?
– Conditions to-day in the coal-mining industry are not different from what they were when the Menzies Government was in office. The then Prime Minister pleaded with them to work.
– Instead of disciplining these men, the present Government incites them to strike. I repeat that the Government admits its helplessness and has given up the ghost.
The external -policy of Australia is not determined by the Parliament, or even by the Ministry, but by workers on Australian wharfs. These men have taken upon themselves to say that vessels belonging to a friendly nation with which wo have worked in harmony for many years shall be prevented from carrying certain goods. That is not the way to treat a friendly nation whose subjects have suffered much at the hands of the Japanese, When the Dutch authorities wish to re-establish their control of territories of which they were temporarily deprived by the Japanese, Australian waterside workers step in to prevent them, and the Government meekly submits, saying it can do nothing. Evidently, the waterside workers, like the coal-miners, are superior people, and must not be interfered with. What would supporters of the Government say if workers in the United States of America decided that petrol and tobacco should not be loaded on vessels for Australia because they do not like the colour of the tie worn by some prominent person in this country? The people who are now interfering with the vessels of another nation would be most annoyed if similar action by the workers of another country deprived them of things that they desire. It is clear that Australians can, as it were, spit in the face of a friendly nation without being even reprimanded by the Government. Other countries may not do such things, but evidently Australians can act iri this way without the Government raising a finger in protest. Indeed, the Government encourages such conduct. It is time that Australia developed an international conscience ; it is time that Ministers and departmental officers acquired a knowledge of diplomacy, and learned the right way to approach international questions. This rough-and-ready way of doing things is not satisfactory. I was greatly disappointed in the speech of the Minister because it revealed how bankrupt of policy the Government is.
– I reviewed the industrial situation fairly.
– I have previously pointed out that the value of goods supplied by Australia to the United States of America under reciprocal lend-lease arrangements is not shown in the budget, although the value of goods received from that country is shown. Many of the articles obtained from the United States of America have been sold in this country and represent a considerable sum which should appear on the revenue side of the budget. I knew of one cargo, which alone was worth £23,000,000, and two other shiploads of tobacco, lubricating oil and petrol, of which the value was even greater. I should not be surprised if the total amount of money actually received from the people of Australia for goods of that kind does not amount to £150,000,000; but the budget does not indicate those receipts. I should like to know exactly why the cost and receipts from the sale of those goods are not shown in the budget. Or have they been covered up in some way? The Minister for Trade and Customs was very appreciative of the action taken by his department in dealing with black-marketing. He spoke approvingly of the fact that as the result of prosecutions, fines totalling £53,000 had been imposed on offenders during the last eighteen months. It must be obvious, however, that transactions in black-marketing must have involved millions of pounds. Therefore, the fervour of the Minister’s congratulations to the department in this respect is hardly justified. I hope that the Minister’s view with regard to the diminution of pilfering on the wharfs is correct. He has attempted to throw the onus for most of the pilfering upon persons overseas. But such a statement is hard to believe. Pilfering is still going on in Australia, because every now and. again we read that the police discover a large consignment of goods stolen from the wharfs. I was interested to hear the Minister’s remarks about the operations of the Division of Import Procurement. A good deal of what he said is true, but I do, not approve of some of the illustrations he gave in support of his statements. First, he said that imports could not be bought except by the Government. He said that our wheat could not have been of value to any one unless its sale had been financed by the Government; and he went on to say that the disposal of our wheat could not have been financed except by the Commonwealth Bank. Is the Commonwealth Bank the Government? Has it become the Government within the last few months? I thought that before the passage of the banking legislation the Commonwealth Bank was a semi-independent body carrying out business, not only for the Government, but also for others, and that it was not under the control of the Government. The bank, of course, financed the sale of our wheat before the Government passed its banking legislation. The Minister also implored us to believe that the Government was not interfering in the business of the Commonwealth Bank, that the bank was only carrying out government policy. However, his statements to-day would indicate that he believes that the Commonwealth Bank is now the Government, and the Government is the Commonwealth Bank. Even if that were true, it should also be pointed out that under the National Security legislation the Government prevented the private banks financing the wheat crop. Therefore, it is very easy for the Government to say now that it saved the wheat industry.
– So it did.
– That is true; but the Government prevented any one else from attempting to save the industry. However, within recent years we have been obliged to import wheat, while, at the same time, the Government was paying a bonus to farmers not to grow wheat, and refusing to allow farmers to grow wheat on land which had not previously been sown with wheat. What a spectacle! It is a constant source of surprise to me that the Government manages” to “ get away “ with that sort of thing. However, the Minister for Trade and Customs calmly tells us to-day that the Government saved the wheat industry. He calmly spoke of the Government’s policy of non-intervention in industrial disputes, saying that the Government is helpless in such matters. He went on to say, in effect, that the present Government is the greatest Government Australia has ever had, and that if any other government had been in office during the war it would have been absolutely helpless to deal with industrial disputes. I do not believe those statements. I do not believe that the present Government is the greatest Australia has ever had. I believe that the present Government will pass into oblivion, and will be succeeded by greater governments, which will tackle the problem of industrial peace because they will realize that the future of this nation depends primarily upon production, upon the necessity to keep our people working. Until the people of Australia realize that they live on production, and not on spurious money that may be handed out now and again, and the workers realize that it is in their own interest to produce to the utmost in order to improve their standard of living, we shall not have real progress. Judged in the light of those, facts, the present Government will go down in history, not as the greatest, but as the weakest and most supine Government Australia has ever had.
Senator COLLETT (Western Australia) 4.54]. - I propose to confine my remarks to two subjects. First, all of us agree that the termination of hostilities has brought general relief. Economically, we have gone down the drain to some degree, but with our extensive resources and with wise government we can rapidly recover loss of ground. Under existing conditions we need a national government in order to enable the best brains available in Parliament to concentrate on the great problems of re-establishment. Unfortunately, we cannot, as we do in time of war, appoint a general with full powers to re-organize us in peace and direct us along the road to success. Instead, we have to do our best with those persons of relative rank who have been imposed upon us until caucus is pleased to remove them. At present, the press seems to be giving some attention to this subject, and has offered suggestions which may be helpful to those who have to make decisions in the matter.
We have emerged victoriously from the war. Parliament has paid fitting tributes to our allies and their distinguished leaders, and also to the heroic people of the British Isles. We have acknowledged the great personal efforts of our late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin. I believe that it would have been in accordance with his desire that we pay tribute also to the man who was Prime Minister in 1939 when war came upon us. It is generally realized, I believe, that the present Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies), when he was Prime Minister, appreciated at a very early stage the magnitude of our commitments. The policy which he initiated in 1939 proved to be the foundation upon which our whole war effort was subsequently constructed and most successfully carried out. This fact should be freely and very gratefully acknowledged. The Parliament has passed resolutions of thanks to the services for their valour, endurance and achievements, and those resolutions, we are told, have been transmitted to all service personnel. I thought that more than mere thanks might have been offered; but beyond this, the Government does not seem to be prepared to go. The end of the great conflict in which we have achieved victory is an occasion on which we might with credit to ourselves have invited to Canberra representatives of all services in proportionate numbers to take part in a pageant befitting the celebration of the great victory which they have gained for the nation. That would be «. far more effective means of conveying our true feelings than the tendering of dinners to a few distinguished persons.
There is one class of man who has not received full recognition for his services during the war, and that is the merchant seaman. Without him we could not have succeeded. His performance has been remarkable, and his story, when told, will make magnificent reading. The fact that the British Merchant Service lost 30,000 lives bears testimony to the heroism of these men. We owe a great debt also to those men who, in 1939, with very limited means at their disposal, prepared the way which made it possible for us to play any part at all in the Empire’s line of battle. I refer particularly to Admiral Sir Ragnar Colvin, the first naval member of the Naval Board. Any one familiar with the position of our naval forces at that time will have a full appreciation of the service he rendered to this country. I refer also to the late Major-General E. Squires, the chief of the .General Staff of the Army, Air Marshal R. Williams and Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Burnett, successive chiefs of the Air Staff. Those men had most to do with the preparation and launching of our war effort. It is desirable that their names should not be forgotten. The success of the army organization for operations in the field is due largely to the influence of the Royal Military College <aX Duntroon. Its graduates have rendered extraordinary service, and, I think, have more than, justified the intentions and the hopes of the founders of the college, which was established in 1911. The fact that early in the Avar some members of this Parliament were instrumental in preventing the closing of the college leads me to urge that, as an institution, it should have greater recognition of its true place in our national life. If we aro to have defence forces, they must be thoroughly trained in the latest principles of the art of -war. We must have leaders and staffs, with the highest professional qualifications, acquired as the result of close and prolonged study and broad experience. I believe that the college might well be regarded as a national university in which the sciences allied to war and even public administration are taught. Diplomas given would have general recognition throughout the English-speaking world. The college should provide also short courses for promising militia officers. Entrance to, and successful emergence from, the college should mark a man as potentially fit for any command in the Army, or for any responsible civilian position. The course should cover at least four years and there should be special facilities for civil rehabilitation when members of the permanent forces are approaching the end of their service. To meet existing demands and to provide for future contingencies and perpetuate the present arrangement with New Zealand, the college will require substantial additions. Overall, I believe that the institution should be planned to take at least 700 or 800 students.
As my colleague, Senator Brand, has said, there is & need for a new defence policy in this country. Much will depend upon our foreign relations and conformity with any Empire scheme that is mooted. Shortly after the termination of the war of 1914-18, when FieldMarshal Lord Milne was asked to raise and organize a new army, he said to Mr. Lloyd George, who was then Prime Minister, “ What do you want the army for?”. That of course was a suggestion to the Prime Minister that any ‘army that was required should be in conformity with foreign policy and international obligations. Australia is faced with that problem to-day. We must ascertain first for what purpose we want defence forces, and then build them according to the need. The form they take, of course, will depend upon the recommendations of our best professional officers. There has been some talk of a standing army of 100,000. That suggestion, without regard to the other factors, is so much nonsense.
The obvious outstanding army problem associated with demobilization and reestablishment is the need for a fresh mind, and with all respect to the Government I would advocate a change of the present administration. The time for such a change is opportune. In any event I hope for the early restoration of the Military Board with the proper delegation of authority.
I come now to the subject of railways. Sir Harold Clapp’s report upon the standardization of railway gauges has attracted considerable public interest, but the reaction to it in official circles is disappointing. In the first place, it would appear that, now that immediate danger has 2:>a£S,ed, the lessons of the war are to be ignored. We are forced to remind ourselves that no plea for a united, fully defended Australia can be implemented unless there is a wholehearted effort to establish similar conditions in every part of the Commonwealth and afford access to the remotest confines of our territory. We have had discussions on settling our empty spaces, developing the northern and northwestern areas of the continent, migration, decentralization of industry, and the better use of out ports; but one great project that would go far to assist to bring all these things about is again in danger of being relegated to the official pigeon-holes, because political expediency at the moment suggests avenues of exploitation in which public funds might be employed. There are, too, objections from certain States, which are more concerned with parochial interests. A standardized railway gauge was envisaged by the framers of the Constitution ; but it took seventeen years to bring into being the first section linking east and west by means of the line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, another thirteen years for the construction of the section from Kyogle to South Brisbane, and a further seven years for the construction of a small section between Port Augusta and Port Pirie. This means, of course, that only a minor part of the whole intention has been effected, and that any transcontinental movement is still subject to at least four changes between the startingpoint and the terminus. I had thought that the gravity of the situation had been brought home to us when any enemy invasion of “Western Australia was threatened. Fortunately, the Fates favoured us and provided time for the necessary troop movement, but no sooner have we emerged from the trouble, than a crop of critics has arisen questioning the worth of taking out insurance against future risks. I regret to say that even amongst the members of the Government and the Parliament of my own State there seems to be a sharp divergence of opinion as to the wisdom and value of the project. At the moment, the matter is before the Western Australian legislature on private and other motions and there is, of course, the inevitable battle of routes. Even the city of Fremantle, which should appreciate the advantages, direct and indirect, of a through connexion with Brisbane, has, through its council, expressed little enthusiasm for the work. I have here a letter that I have received from the town clerk at Fremantle, dated the24th September. It contains the following resolution carried by the council: - “ That the Council oppose the isolation of Fremantle by the proposed route of the standard gauge and urge consideration of the route along the south side of the Swan River, and a copy of this resolution he given to each member of Parliament for Fremantle and also a copy sent to Western Australian members in both Federal Houses of Parliament.”
The letter then states -
The Fremantle City Council is of the opinion that Sir Harold Clapp’s proposal should bo reviewed in view of the following facts: -
That if his plan is adopted in regard to the terminus of the line at the North Fremantle Wharf and the diverting of all overseas shipping to the North Wharf, that Fremantle proper will be isolated, with disastrous financial results not only to the commercial community, but also to the residential community who have invested their life’s savings in homes, in the belief that the south side of the Fremantle Harbour would be permanent.
That the State Government in 1002 resumed at inflated values and still own a large area of land situated opposite the present Fremantle railway station as a future terminus of the east-west line.
That it can be confidently stated that the land resumptions necessary for the proposed new line can be made much more economically on the south side of the Swan River than is possible on the north side.
That these facts have not been denied by Sir Harold Clapp, but he regards their importance as a matter for the consideration of State or local authorities.
That as the State Government will be called upon to share the cost of the proposed new Commonwealth line, that the State Government should have some say in determining its route.
That it is evident that Sir Harold Clapp is more concerned with the engineering problems and efficiency of the line than he is about local disabilities.
That the whole question of the urgent necessity of constructing any portion of the proposed line at the present time should be reviewed in light of the housing shortage and conservation of water problems, which are exercising the minds of a number of our State legislative authorities, and which it is thought should have a priority over the costly railway improvement scheme which is not likely to create State or Federal revenue.
The Fremantle Council respectfully suggests that the whole scheme of unification of Commonwealth railway be deferred until more reproductive State schemes have been financed and put into operation.
I may say that I agree with the council on the controversy as to the value of the north side as compared with the south side of the river for the terminus. Sir HaroldClapp has, it would seem, chosen the right bank rather than spend £500,000 on another bridge over the Swan River. There is no real comparison between the value and usefulness of the two localities. As regards the adverse effect that the immediate implementation of the scheme would have upon the construction of houses,I can see no clash except upon the question of labour, and for this, housing should have precedence. But an early start is contemplated and necessary. By the time that agreements have been, reached, and working plans been prepared, factory plants and labour markets should have been adjusted. On the question of costs, and sharing ofcosts, it should not be overlooked that the Western Australian Railways have, through force of circumstances, fallen behind the times and will need to expend several millions of pounds to modernize or rehabilitate the rolling stock and eliminate bottlenecks.
SenatorNash. - They cannot increase their speed on existing gauges.
– That is so. For some years past travellers have been having a thin time on the Western Australian railways, and facilities have been of a very low order. Capital outlay involved in the proposed new construction of the 4ft. 8^ in.-gauge may be considerable, but it would be very little in proportion to the benefit to be gained. The days have passed when a line such as that from Northam to Coolgardie could be built at a cost of £1,000 a mile at a profit, but the contemplated expenditure will be spread over a number of years, and it will assist our heavy industries and provide employment of a wide range over and above the pick and shovel variety. This is a truly federal project and it should be financed as such, at any rate in respect of the missing links from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle and from Port Augusta to Broken Hill. It should not be a State responsibility. Since the agreement was reached by which the Commonwealth paid only one-fifth of the cost, the war and the system of alleged uniform taxation have intervened, and upset the balance of State finance, and left the less populous States with little, if any, means of indulging in heavy capital expenditure. This deeply concerns the people of Western Australia, who otherwise would welcome the commencement of a work which would remove many of the disadvantages of geographical isolation. Referring to the defence aspect, I draw attention to comments made by Field Marshal Viscount Kitchener who came to Australia in 1910 to report on our defence needs. He wrote -
Different gauges in most of the States isolate each system, and the want of systematic interior connexion makes the present lines running inland of little use for defence.
The truth of that statement has since been proved. One argument against the standard gauge scheme is that railways are obsolescent. Thoughtful people contest that theory. Water transport is the most economic system, and the next in order for moving heavy loads over long distances is the railroad system. When the Allies desired to supply arms and munitions to Russia through Iran they first constructed a railway, although they could have used aircraft. Furthermore, during the war Great Britain built extra railway lines for the transport of men and materials to strategic points for defence purposes, and for launching the attack on D-Day, After D-Day, as Germany lost command of the air and as its liquid fuel supplies diminished, it depended entirely on railways until they too were bombed out of service, when it gave up the ghost.
Defence measures are still necessary in Australia. We lost command of the sea in 1942 and we may do so again and be left for a time to rely on our own resources. Let us develop those resources. We have unlimited coal and iron supplies upon which we can fall back. A glance at a map showing the distribution of Australia’s population indicates the emptiness of an area comprising twothirds of the whole continent, and shows how much the curse of centralization is retarding real development. Railways provide important communications and facilities for the transport of goods. Without them we cannot develop our rich upper and lower north-western areas, the problems of which at present are deficient supplies, difficulty of access to markets, heavy costs, heavy taxes, and lack of coastal shipping. These problems have driven people living in those areas to the verge of despair. Interested persons are holding meetings in Western Australia at present in order to find means of overcoming their difficulties. There should be a direct standard gauge line to Albany, the natural outlet of the rich southern country of Western Australia, whose magnificent natural harbour could be easily defended and developed into the much-needed western base for the Australian Navy. We sadly need a more rapid system for the exchange of goods between the eastern States and Western Australia. Western Australia is and always will be a great producer of foodstuffs, which, as has recently been proved, the eastern States must call upon for their very subsistence. The population of Western Australia is too small to be able to maintain secondary industries capable of producing goods in competition with factories elsewhere.
The Department of Information intends to expend large sums of money in an attempt to advertise Australia overseas with a view to attracting immigrants. The old 111’0 cesS which provided this country with so many strong arms, clear heads, and stout hearts, of letting the immigrants pioneer the land has been reversed, and the policy now seems to be to develop the country in preparation for the immigrants’ arrival. Railways are a necessary adjunct to this policy. We need to attract tourists. Senator Armstrong made a very good point in this respect. We could draw millions of pounds of foreign money to Australia if we managed the tourist business well and made an honest attempt to attend to the tourists’ comfort. Australia does not lack scenic beauty or health resorts, but to ask a visitor to change trains five times between Fremantle and Sydney, to stow him in a primitive railway carriage, and to give him only such food and refreshment as he may be able to grab in a milling horde, is unlikely to attract business. In addition, the baggage and ticket issue systems in some of the capital cities would exasperate anybody. The usefulness of railways cannot be successfully challenged. Ground-based .aeroplanes cannot replace railway trains any more than flying boats can replace seagoing ships. As a final word on the subject of communications, it might not be out of place to express a desire for this national capital to have a central railway station worthy of the city, and also a railway system connecting direct with the State capitals. The present system does us no credit, and I am sure that all honorable senators are in agreement on this point.
city by rail. It is contrary to all safe working principles to have a rail car trailing behind the brake van, as is the case on the train from Albury to Canberra. We often hear of people who are afraid of travelling by air, but I consider that people who travel by train under the conditions that I have mentioned are no safer than those who travel by air. One day, an official may forget to connect the air brake between the brake van and the trailing car containing passengers for Canberra, and, should that car break away from the main train, there would be nothing to prevent it from colliding with another train. We have read recently of a railway accident in Great Britain which caused enormous loss of life. I am afraid that there may be a few vacancies in this Parliament as the result of a mishap in circumstances such as I have suggested. Such breakaways are not rare. I hope that, in addition to better railway facilities for those who travel to Canberra, safer methods will be provided in the future.
An attack was made upon the workers of this country by Senator Leckie who paid particular attention to coal-miners. He said, that the Government was at fault because the miners were not working continuously. From the honorable senator’s remarks, one would imagine that unrest in the coal-mining industry was phenomenal, and that stoppages did not occur prior to the advent of this Government. Ever since the inception, of the industry, whether in Australia, Great Britain, or any other part of the world, it has been one of the most turbulent. It is interesting to trace its history and examine its traditions. The workers in it have an inherent tradition of persecution unparalleled in the annals of any other occupation. In Great Britain, when the coal-miners endeavoured to organize themselves into trade unions they were imprisoned, and there are instances in which their leaders were even executed because they tried to establish decent working conditions.
– What has that to do with present conditions?
– In Australia, the coal-miners have had a terrific struggle in order to improve their working conditions, and the facts to which I have just referred have a bearing on present conditions. When ihe miners worked hard, and production exceeded the demand, there were thousands of tons of coal lying at grass. The employers then took care that there would be an industrial dispute, so that the surplus coal could be sold. After that, arrangements would be made for the resumption of work in the industry. That practice is not peculiar to coal-mining; it is associated with the capitalist system of production for profit. When the men work hard in any industry, and production is greater than consumption, the employers dismiss some of their men until the surplus goods have been sold. Then they intimate by advertisements in the press that vacancies have arisen for employees, and back the workers go into the factories. Under the system of production for profit, no regard is paid to the requirements of the workers. All that the employers are interested in is to ensure that a maximum profit shall be wrung from them. That is the history of the coal-mining industry, and it is not surprising that the employees have a fear that the bad conditions experienced in the old days may return.
During the war period the miners have done a great job for the nation. We may not approve their action in ceasing work at times, but the enormous commitments of the industry with regard to shipping, &c, shall be reasonably met. I remind Senator Leckie of one phase of the present shortage of coal. Prior to the present Government taking office, there had been a series of strikes in the coalmining industry. This was responsible for the loss of a large quantity of coal which WOUld have been very useful at present. Take the period prior to the advent to office of the Labour Government. I have before me Labour Report, 1940, No. 31, issued by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. Referring to the principal industrial disputes in 1940, it states -
The preceding tables show the number and effect of all disputes for the year 1940, classified according to industrial groups. Although the number of disputes was less, the figures show an increase compared with those of the previous year as regards number of workpeople involved, working days, and estimated loss of wages. The tables show .that of the total number of disputes (350) which occurred in 1940. no less than 2S0 were in connexion with the coal-mining industry, and of those 277 occurred in New South Wales. The estimated loss of wages through all disputes in Australia was £1,710,121. The loss through 277 disputes in the coal-mining industry in
New South Wales was £1,336,708, or 79 per cent, of the total loss in wages for Australia.
Now I turn to the position with regard to industrial disputes from 1936 to 1940. After showing the number of days lost I find these comments: -
Satisfactory comparisons of the frequency of industrial disputes in classified industries can be made only after omitting those which are recorded for coal mining (Group VIII.). For the year 1940 those disputes represented 82 per cent, of the .total for the year. During the past five years, working days lost through dislocations of work involving employees hi coal mining numbered 3,123,121, representing 72 per cent, of the total loss of working days for the period. The majority of these disputes occurred in New South Wales. In making comparisons regarding the number and magnitude of disputes in this particular class it should be noted that the number of workers engaged in the coal industry is very much larger in New South Wales than in any other of the States.
That shows that a dispute in the coalmining industry is nothing new. If Senator Leckie and his colleagues, who were in office in the years preceding 1941, when the present Government assumed control, had taken steps to see that the industry was placed on such a basis that peace could prevail in it, the position to-day would have been different.
– What does the honorable senator suggest?
– That the attempt by Senator Leckie ‘to besmirch the reputation of the present Government, or to suggest to the people that it is incapable of dealing with industrial disputes is on all fours with the attitude of the governments which preceded it. If there be reason for drawing attention to this matter, it is only a case of the kettle calling the pot black. In Victoria, where the coal mines are not owned by private employers, the industry has been particularly free from disputes.
– Only in recent years.
– I am dealing with recent periods. During the war the Victorian . State-owned coal mine under the control of the Victorian Railways Commissioners has experienced practically continuous production. I believe that only one slight stoppage of work has occurred, and the employees have won the admiration of all concerned.
– Does the honorable senator claim that their work- ing conditions are better than those in New South Wales?
– It is unnecessary for me to make that comparison. Evidently the conditions in Victoria are such that the miners are prepared to work. They have not had to submit to the pin-pricking tactics which have prevailed in New South Wales in the last five or six years. If we are to have industrial peace, we must pay a price for it. We must take steps to see that the conditions of the workers are improved by every means at our disposal. It is useless for Senator Leckie or any other honorable senator to imagine that as the war is over we can revert to pre-war conditions. A vast change has occurred in the outlook of people throughout the world. The indignation expressed by Senator Leckie shows that he now realizes the importance of the worker in our internal economy. At one time the worker was of no account, he could be hired and fired at the sweet will of the employer, and he had no rights at all. But we must now appreciate the fact that the workers have organized themselves and have “ come into their own “. During the war they submitted to conditions which they would not have tolerated in time of peace. With the return of peace better conditions must be brought about. We must not forget the long hours of labour which the workers gave to the country during the war period. Many trade unionists have sacrificed hard-won conditions during the war, as when they accepted the dilution of labour and other conditions which previously they would have opposed. When we compare the conditions of employees in industry with those enjoyed by employers, we must admit that most of the credit for the nation’s war effort belongs to the workers. A perusal of the financial columns of our daily newspapers reveals that, despite high taxation and protests by spokesmen on behalf of employers, mast business enterprises have made greater profits during the war than previously.
– Has that not been to the advantage of the country generally ?
– It indicates that employers have done well during the war, whereas because of pegged wages and other restrictions the workers have been involved in sacrifices : they have not increased their bank balances as the ra:u11 of the sale of their labour power. Not many workers have amassed sufficient wealth during the war to enable them to retire. They will still have to look for jobs in the post-war period; they will still have to fight for any increase of their wages, or for even the smallest reduction of the working week; they will still have to submit to villification by the press should they attempt to improve their working conditions. If it were not for the protection afforded by industrial organizations, and the work of their representatives in the parliaments of the country, the workers would soon be driven back to the conditions from which they emerged only after a continuous struggle. I believe, however, that the workers will stand firm, and will not again submit to the conditions that existed in the past. I resent the remarks of Senator Leckie, who in this chamber represents the employers and speaks on their behalf. I have been associated with the industrial movement of this country for many years, and I know something of the struggle which the workers have had in order to gain even the slightest advantage. I know of the paltriness of many employers, and how their antagonism to the workers has led to industrial unrest. No worker wishes to deprive himself or his family of the things which he can procure with the wages paid to him on pay day. Only when driven to desperation do men cease to work. I saw that illustrated recently in the industry with which I have been associated for over 25 years. Members of the Victorian Railways service decided to cease work because of a foolish decision by the Railways Commissioners of that State. When hostilities ceased, the commissioners thanked their employees for their wonderful war effort, for working long periods in order to convey workers of both sexes and munitions quickly from place to place, for the efficient manner in which tiny had performed their duties, and generally for the good service they had rendered to their country in the time of need. Then they notified their employees that a reduction of their wages was contemplated and that action to secure it would be taken. Could anything be more likely to cause an industrial upheaval?
– The honorable senator cannot blame private enterprise for that.
– That is so, but when a Stale instrumentality, which is not concerned primarily with profits, treats its employees in that way, what can we expect from private enterprise whose first consideration always is profits? When we recall the placing of Peter Bowling in leg irons and the treatment of coal-miners inNew South Wales generally by anti-Labour governments, we are entitled to resent the remarks of honorable senators opposite as to the present Government’s handling of the situation on the coal-fields. Had not a Labour government been returned at the last elections, there would have been chaos in industry, and the effects of workers refusing to give their labour power for inadequate rewards would have been felt by the whole community. Instead of condemning the Government, we should congratulate it on the way in which it has dealt with a difficult and ticklish problem. I have no doubt that theGovernment will find a way out of the present difficulties. When the coalminers of this country realize that their future welfare is assured, they will provide all the coal necessary for the purposes for which it is required.
Sitting suspended from 5.54 to 8 p.m.
– On Friday I obtained leave to continue my remarks on the motion for the printing of the Estimates and budget papers. By arrangement in the meantime I agreed not to exercise that leave in order to enable the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) to have that motion discharged from the notice-paper. However, the Minister when introducing the measure now before us took the opportunity to reply to the debate on the motion for the printingof the Estimates and budget papers. I should have imagined that he would not have referred to a debate which had been concluded, and that having regard to his anxiety that the bill now before us should be passed as expeditiously as possible he would have confined himself to the bill. However, he chose to make a provocative speech which has evoked critical replies from honorable senators on this side, particularly with respect to the failure of the Government to take action to prevent, or settle, industrial disputes.
SenatorKeane. - Honorable senators opposite asked for the Government’s policy on the matter, and I explained that policy.
– Honorable senators on this side have, throughout the war, co-operated to the fullest possible degree with the Government. Indeed, we have refrained from voicing criticism which an opposition would normally be expected to express. Our co-operation in this respect is in strong contrast to the obstructionist attitude of members of the ministerial party when they were in opposition. After hearing their criticism with respect to the then Government’s handling of industrial disputes one would be led to believe that our actions as a government provoked industrial unrest. It is not sufficient for the Leader of the Senate to answer our criticism merely by asking us what we did when governments which we supported were in office. In whatever respect we may have failed, it can be said that we never gave encouragement to workers to go on strike. The Minister’s reply on this matter tended to justify industrial unrest. He suggested, in effect, that men were striking as the result of want of sympathy on the part of past governments and employers towards employees. The Minister has had years of experience as an advocate in the industrial movement, and he has always claimed to support the principle of conciliation and arbitration.
– And I have been against strikes.
– Yet the Minister’s speech this afternoon suggested that the workers now on strike had suffered wrongs, and that they were justified in going on strike. The Minister should remember that when he speaks as a Minister he does not represent any one section of the community, but, under his oath, of office, has sworn to hold the scales fairly between all sections of the community. Indeed, the majority of honorable senators opposite have had considerable experience as trade union loaders, and I doubt very much whether, with the exception of the two of them who have spoken, they would not justify workers going on strike. We know some of the difficulties surrounding unrest in the coal-mining industry. I do not condemn the strikers out of hand, and neither did Senator Leckie do so. It is not correct to say, as one honorable senator opposite has said, that Senator Leckie denounced the strikers. Senator Leckie simply pointed out that the Minister for Trade and Customs had stated that the Government regarded the position as hopeless, and could no nothing to prevent industrial unrest. The Minister made that admission. We must remember that employees generally look to their representatives in the Parliament to give them a lead on matters of this kind. When Ministers and honorable senators opposite, who have been leaders of important unions, make speeches which attempt to justify strikes, they offer to strikers almost a premium to continue to hold up industry in this country. I should like to reply briefly to statements made by Senator Sheehan who also has been a trade union leader. In effect, he said that the best means by which workers could achieve what they regarded as a right is to go on strike. Australia has prided itself on the claim that it leads the world in its industrial legislation. That legislation has been enacted by not only Labour governments, but also nonLabour governments. In view of that legislation, it has been truly said that Australia stands for arbitration. Now, at this eleventh hour, honorable senators opposite, who have for so many years advocated arbitration, declare that judges of the Arbitration Court, some of whom have been appointed by Labour governments, are not qualified, after hearing all of the facts of a dispute, to give a decision in such matters. It is rather late in the day for honorable senators opposite to make that discovery. Are we to understand that their policy now is that the workers may have conciliation and arbitration if they want it, or wages boards if they want them, but if they are not satisfied with the decisions of such tribunals the workers should strike? One would conclude that that is the policy of the present Government after hearing the speeches of the Minister and honorable senators opposite in this debate; but I am sure that honorable senators opposite as a whole do not support that policy. The law prohibits strikes, and provides that the court shall not arbitrate in a dispute so long as the workers remain on strike.
– That is wrong.
– But that is the law, and supporters of the Government, which has a majority in both chambers, should, if they believe that law to be wrong, amend it. The Minister for Trade and Customs said that the principles upon which the Arbitration Court operates are wrong, that the court should be abandoned in favour of a wages board system which would bring employers and employees closer together. Why has not the Government taken action along those lines?
It is abundantly clear that workers ‘who have broken the law and, disregarding the advice of their leaders, have gone on strike, have not been fined for breaking the law. On the contrary they have been rewarded by having their wages increased and their conditions of employment improved. They have thus been given benefits which have not been made available to workers who have observed the law. To-day, thousands of men in various industries are on strike. I do not say that the Government can by merely giving advice get the coal miners to return to work, but the Minister has admitted that the Government is helpless and can do nothing in the matter. In such circumstances, strikers are left to their own sweet will to carry on as they wish.. Senator Sheehan said that if certain industries in this country were socialized, industrial discontent would cease. His own experience with railway and tramway organizations should convince him of the fallacy of that argument. He was careful, in his reference to State coal-mines, to mention only the war period. I remind the honorable senator that there was a time when those mines were seething with discontent. I remind him also that about a year ago, serious stoppages occurred in the State-owned abattoirs in Sydney. Thousands of sheep were left to starve because of a strike amongst slaughtermen. That was not a private undertaking, but a governmentowned industry. To-day in Sydney there is a strike at the Bunnerong Power House, another State instrumentality. Despite the fact that this power house provides a substantial part of Sydney’s electricity, employees have ceased work for no justifiable reason, yet one does not hear honorable senators opposite raising their voices in criticism of these men.
Senator Sheehan also denounced what he termed profit-making organizations; but what has been the history of these undertakings during the war? The Menzies Government wisely sought the co-operation of private industry all over the Commonwealth. It secured the services of such captains of industry as Mr. Essington Lewis, the general manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited - one of Australia’s greatest industrial undertakings and one of the most valuable contributors to our war effort. This Government fortunately had the good sense to carry on the work of the Menzies Government in this regard, and retained the services of these men, many of whom have worked without reward. The Menzies Administration laid the foundations of this country’s war effort. Leading industrialists were placed at the head of all branches of war-time industry, and it is to their everlasting credit that their patriotism and devotion to duty played no small part in the notable success of our defence undertakings. Nobody has made a greater contribution to the war effort.
SenatorO’Flaherty. - The man who gave his life for his country made a greater sacrifice.
– I do not suggest that strikers are completely unmindful of the part that has been played by our fighting men, but I remind the honorable senator that the strikers have enjoyed the protection of reserved occupations. Senator Sheehan recently drew attention to conditions under which the waterside workers laboured on the wharfs; but how can the lot of these men be compared with that of men fighting in the jungle for a remuneration far below their peace-time wages?
– The honorable senator said that the captains of industry had made a greater sacrifice than anybody.
– I did not make a comparison. I said that the industrialists, by their great war effort, hadshown themselves to be true patriots, and that although they had been associated with profit-making undertakings, they had played a valuable part in the war. I give place to no man in this chamber in my appreciation of the sacrifices that have been made by members of the fighting services. I do not know the internal workings of the trade unions as honorable senators opposite do, but I believe that on occasions, by ceasing work, certain employees have failed to make their first contribution to the war effort. Honorable senators opposite themselves admit that the conditions under which Australian workmen labour, compare more than favorably with those obtaining in any other country. Nobody in this Senate stands for the persecution of workers, or for low wages or adverse working conditions; but for certain honorable senators opposite to endeavour to justify and even encourage the action of law-breakers is most unworthy. Members of our fighting serviceshave been working seven days a week, and fighting under conditions which would not be endured by any but the most patriotic citizens. If a soldier ceases work or disputes his orders he is courtmartialled, tried, and if convicted, punished summarily. He cannot say, “ If you fine me and enforce the penalty I shall not work “. He stands up to his working conditions because he agreed upon enlistment to observe the regulations applicable to his service.
The argument that socialization of industry would prevent strikes is foolish. In Melbourne to-day the tramway service is held up because of a strike. The Nairana which should have sailed yesterday with prisoners of war returning to their homes is still in Melbourne, loaded ready for sea. I have no wish to judge this case, but the fact remains that the men were found to be in the wrong for not returning for duty, and in accordance with the articles under which they signed on, they were fined. They have refused to work until their fines are remitted. Is there any reason why these men should enjoy privileges not extended to other members of the community? I realize the difficulty of cases such as this because previous administrations of which I have been a supporter had to contend with exactly the same circumstances, but honorable senators opposite will not be able to find on record utterances by any honorable senators on this side of the chamber in encouragement of industrial disputes. In defiance of the very foundations of democracy, these men are regimented by their unions - probably 75 per cent, of them against their better judgment - and they obey the order to strike; yet not one honorable senator opposite has said one word in condemnation of them. For the Minister for Trade and Customs virtually to admit that the Government is powerless to stop disputes of this character, is an encouragement to loyal men, who have stood by their country throughout the war period, to say, “ Our conditions are not what we would like. The only .way we can improve them is to go on strike, because strikers, apparently, are always rewarded by improved conditions “. It is the duty of all of us, not to abuse each other because of the failure of past administrations, but to ensure that every endeavour shall bc made to compel employers and employees alike to observe the law. If the laws of this country are broken, it is our duty as legislators, not to encourage such action, but to compel the deregistration of the offending organization or to ensure that the dispute is dealt with by the appropriate tribunal. I have not risen to lecture honorable senators, but to reply to the Leader of the Senate, and one of his supporters in this chamber who, despite their long experience with trade unions in this country, have made utterances calculated to encourage’ workers to take direct action contrary to the laws passed by this legislature.
– I regret that this debate has deteriorated to such a low level. For the last fifteen minutes we have been listening to sophistries which most of us over 50 have heard continuously since our very early years. I do not intend to keep the debate on that plane, because I wish to speak on international affairs; but, in reply to Senator Herbert Hays, I say that if these individuals who have been described as profit-mongers were so patriotic as he suggests, it should not have been necessary to peg profits. If there be any doubt as to how these large organizations have fared during the war, just let the Government remove the ceiling price upon stocks and shares, and see what would happen. The fact is that these alleged patriotic individuals have succeeded during the war in exploiting the country to a greater degree than ever.
– Why do they not go to the courts and have these matters adjusted ?
– Does the honorable senator mean, by “ they “, the people about whom I am speaking? They will not go to the courts when the ceiling prices are removed. They have never gone to the courts to have their profits investigated. The honorable senator says that he does not believe in political parties. He thinks that there should be only one hig party - his own.
– It would be a good thing for the country if that were the only party.
– The Commonwealth Parliament would then be in as sad a state as the Victorian Parliament, in which the greatest mass of nondescripts ever known in the British Empire has formed a Government. It is well said that a prophet is without honour in his own country. The British, the Americans, the Canadians, the Chinese, and other visitors to Australia who are in a position to know what they are talking about, all say that Australia did a magnificent job in the war. Strikes that have taken place are hardly worth talking about, considering loss of production in comparison with production gained. With the end of the war, it is natural to expect some reaction on the part of people who have worked under terrific pressure for the last six years, as the coal-miners have done in providing fuel for our transport systems and industries. There is only one hope for the nation, and that is the proper education of the people. We have heard much talk of new orders, and we heard honorable senators opposite say, when the Japanese were at our door, that the country could have all that they possessed as long as we repelled the foe. They have conveniently forgotten what they said then, and now they are disseminating once move the propaganda that we heard before the war. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) showed by his speech this afternoon that his trip abroad as a member of the Australian delegation to San Francisco was educational to him. It has broadened and deepened his mind, and he is to be complimented on his outlook. He, at least, seems to have understood, despite the fact that his present environment is not conducive to deep understanding, that the fundamental issue in the world, both locally and internationally, is economic. Senator Leckie said that the war had nothing to do with economics, but the Leader of the Opposition knows otherwise. He did not mention Russia in his speech - I believe that he is still afraid of Russia - but he said that Great Britain and America would have to co-operate. I agree with him. Senator Leckie is like the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies), who, by some mental legerdemain, has come to the conclusion that the trouble with the Indonesians is due to- the machinations of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). Most people can see some good in the Minister for External Affairs. A Melbourne newspaper to-day stated that he is largely responsible for the formation of the commis?ion which has been appointed to determine what is to be done with Japan. All that Senator Leckie did was to condemn that Minister. He did not give him credit for any good work.
– I did not say anything about the Minister for External Affairs and Japan.
– The last time the honorable senator spoke in this chamber he could scarcely have used stronger language about the Minister without being unparliamentary. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives to-day suggested that the Minister for External Affairs is in some way responsible for . the Indonesian trouble. It is a matter of jealousy. The Opposition parties play the party game on every issue that is raised. Australia’s welfare does not count at all with them. If they have no strikes to” complain about, they attack the Minister for External Affairs, or the Prime Minister, or raise a fuss about trouble in somebody else’s backyard. Anything will do, as long as it offers an opportunity for them to attack the Government. What did the Opposition parties do to settle strikes on the coal-fields when they were in charge of the nation’s affairs? The present Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, when he was Prime Minister, went like Mahomet to the mountain, and said to the miners, “ I have not come to threaten you “. Honorable senators opposite utter threats now because they know that they are not in a position to do anything, and their bluff cannot be called. When Mr. Menzies visited the coal-fields, he had the support of the Parliament, and he had power to pass such regulations as he desired. He could have gaoled every coal-miner in New South Wales, and he could have called on the Army to assist him. Honorable senators opposite could have gone down the coal-mines themselves if they had wanted to do so. Had Mr. Menzies taken punitive action against the miners, coal production would have decreased. His main concern was to obtain maximum production, and he called upon the then Leader of the Opposition, the late Mr. Curtin, who agreed to do everything in his power to help increase the output of coal. Everybody knows that it is impossible for thousands of men in any part of the world to work continuously for any great period without friction occurring amongst them.
– We did not get any more coal.
– That shows how little the honorable senator knows about the facts. Coal-miners in New South Wales established a world’s record output per man. I have heard a lot of talk about the rate of coal production in Russia. Production per man in Russia cannot compare with Australian production, and production in Great Britain also is far below that of the Australian miners. I regret that this debate has reached the low level to which it has been dragged by honorable senators opposite.
– The honorable senator will be given a good comment in the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
– I do not mind what that newspaper says. I am not in favour of preventing its representatives from attending in this chamber, although I do not expect it to say anything good about me. I spoke for 55 minutes in this chamber two weeks ago, but I might not have existed for all the mention that I received by the Daily Telegraph. That does not worry me. We have only to satisfy our own consciences.
– The honorable senator would have had one of the finest minds of his day had he lived in the fifteenth century.
– There have never been any great minds in the Nationalist party, the United Australia party, or the Liberal party, except those of ex-Labour party men who “ ratted “. When they became old they joined the Nationalist party.
We have been told that the native peoples of the East are to have an “ Atlantic Charter “. At present, there is some trouble amongst the Indonesians. I do not know whether the gentleman in Java whose name has been publicized recently has been a Japanese “quisling” or not. That has nothing to do with the question at issue. If he were a Japanese “ quisling “, that is countered by the fact that the Japanese to-day are landing British forces in barges for the purpose of suppressing the natives. I am concerned as to whether we have fought the war against Japan so that white imperialism may be established in the East once more. White imperialistic domination of the Asiatics is finished, whether honorable senators opposite recognize the truth or not. The fact that we have defeated the Japanese has no bearing on the matter. We can learn something from the Americans about the treatment of native Asiatic races. Before the Philippines were occupied by Japan, the Filipinos fought for the Americans. The Javanese did not fight for the Dutch, and there was a collapse in Singapore and Malaya. The reason why the Filipinos fought for the Americans was that they were treated as human beings, not as beasts of burden. The Americans gave them a government of their own, consisting of an Upper House and a Lower House. Filipino guerrillas continued to fight against the Japanese because they knew that when the Americans returned their independence would be given to them as soon as possible. What is the position with the Indonesians, about whom honorable senators opposite are so concerned? The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives has said that the Government is offending our neighbours. Who are our neighbours? Are they the few Dutch imperialist exploiters, who control the Shell Oil Company and the rubber interests in Java, and who have bled 75,000,000 natives for the last 350 years, paying them an average wage of 2d. a day? Seventy-five per cent. of the natives of Indonesia cannot read or write. The Dutch were unable to defend their own possessions. Now they want to return to exploit the natives again as they did in the past.
Under the heading “ Department of External Affairs “ I am sorry to see that only £19,000 is provided for the Australian Legation in China. Last year the amount provided was £42,500, of which only £15,000 was expended. This year’s estimate is not nearly sufficient. The time has come for us to have legations at Peking, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Manila, Saigon, and Singapore, because our destiny is tied up with that of Asia, whether we like it or not. Our neighbours are not a few Dutch or British imperialists, or the French exploiters in that cesspool of iniquity, Indo China. There are 100,000,000 peoples in the islands to the north of us, and there are 400,000,000 people in China. Those are the people with whom we must live cheek by jowl, whether we like it or not. I should like the most amicable relations to be established between Australia and China, and therefore I strongly urge that the proposed expenditure for the current year on the Australian legation in China be increased.
Six years have elapsed since the commencement of the war. Australia, with its 3,000,000 square miles of territory, stillhas a population of only 7,500,000. It has been suggested by the Leader of the Opposition that Australia has no foreign policy, and to some degree that may be true. The world is in such a state of flux to-day that it is impossible for any country to have a static policy. Have Great Britain and the United States of America any foreign policy in Europe? What is their policy with respect to the Balkans, or the French dominions, or even regarding Germany itself? The Minister for External Affairs told the “Big Three” that Australia, if it could not be directly associated with them at the peace conference, at least wished to be consulted; but I listened in vain for one word from honorable senators opposite of commendation of the Minister’s efforts overseas. At least the Opposition might have congratulated the emissaries of the Labour Government upon their good work, but they played the game of party politics and played it very low. I have read the comments of British, American and Australian newspapers, which have admitted that the Minister represented Australia well at San Francisco. Members of the Opposition should have been big enough to recognize the value of his services.
The only thing wrong with the speech by the Minister for Trade and Customs was that he did not give sufficient credit ‘to the workers. He “ knocked “ them a little. He said that in certain instances they had caused industrial trouble, but on the whole had done a good job. Australia’s war production in 1943 beat that of 1938 and 1939 out of sight.
– Nobody has contended to the contrary.
– Honorable senators believe either that the workers have done a good job, with a few small industrial disturbances, or that they have done a poor job, with many serious stoppages of work.
– I say that they have done agood job.
-Then the honorable senator and I are in complete agree ment. I support the Leader of the Opposition in his contention that there is urgent need for a wider understanding of foreign affairs than at present.
– And also home affairs.
– Home affairs are closely related to foreign affairs. The home market in Australia is a foreign market of other countries. The war has concluded, as far as the fighting is concerned, but economically it has only just begun. Honorable senators opposite seem to think that Ave cango back to where we were before the war started, but it is impossible to do that. Whilst I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that we should discuss foreign affairs more frequently and more intelligently, we can do that only if we study them. Our first duty is to put our own house in order. If we study foreign affairs we shall realize that little economic disturbances in Australia are not worth talking of, compared with what is taking place in other parts of the world. Employment in Australia has been more continuous than in any other country. All our talk about the Atlantic Charter is meaningless unless we put its principles into operation. If there are economic clashes they will be followed by military clashes. Unless we can solve the economic problems, there is no hope of solving the military ones. If a United Australia party Government had been in power during the last few years, the war effort of Australia would not have been so great as it has proved to be. Honorable senators opposite have been far greater protagonists of the employers than those on the Government side have been of the workers.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) made an effective speech, from his own point of view, on the prevailing industrial conditions. If his statements were in accordance with the facts, he would have cause to be proud of the party with which he is associated, but Senator Leckie effectively demonstrated the weakness of the Government in dealing with the situation in the coal-mining industry. Senator Sheehan tried to justify the Minister’s statement, but made confusion worse confounded. He said that strikes were due to the pin-pricking policy of the employers. He is connected with a party which holds that government control of industry is preferable to private control. He was unfortunate in his reference to the railway strike in Victoria. It cannot be correctly claimed that a pin-pricking policy was adopted in that instance. If it were, it must have emanated from the Government side.
I protest against the large volume of business which the Senate is expected to transact in the few remaining days of the present sittings. I am not absolutely sure of the date when the Senate will go into recess.
– Next Friday. That is a certainty.
– I am glad to have that definite reply because I intend to refer to the unbusinesslike manner in which the business of the chamber is conducted. Honorable senators were summoned to Canberra on the 21st February last, and 32 weeks have elapsed since that time, but the volume of business transacted is not great, whilst the quality of the work accomplished is a debatable point. On Friday last, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) handed to us a list of the measures proposed to be passed before the Parliament goes into recess. I should like that list of bills to be recorded in Hansard. It is as follows: - Bankruptcy Bill,. National Welfare Fund Bill, Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classification) Bill, Social Services Contributions Assessment Bill, Income Tax Assessment Bill, Commonwealth Public Service Bill, Hospital Benefits Bill, Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement Bill, States Grants Bill, Wool Realization Bill, Appropriation Bill, Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill, Tuberculosis Bill, War Service Land Settlement Agreements Bill, Widows’ Pensions Bill, High Commissioner Bill, Seat of Government Supreme Court Bill and Education Bill. It will thus be seen that honorable senators are expected to transact a great deal of important business in the remaining three or four days of the sessional period.
During the present sittings, a good deal of lip service has been indulged in by the Government and the Opposition regarding what should be done in the interests of ex-service men and women, but up to the present no tangible results have been obtained. Reference has been made to the need for public works, land settlement and housing schemes, and vocational training for ex-servicemen. But apart from the Re-establishment and Employment Act, those proposals are still in the blue-print stage. Even the most pessimistic amongst us realize that as far back as the . 21st February, when this Parliament first assembled in the current year, the Allies had practically won the war. It was our duty then to make tangible provision to meet the needs of returned members of the armed forces. I admit that amongst the bills yet to be passed are several machinery measures! which are necessary in order to implement proposals already adopted, but better progress should have been mads in dealing with the housing problem. Half of the men now in the employ of the Allied Works Council could have been set to work during the last twelve months in the construction of homes for the people who are in dire need of them.
– Where could the materials have been obtained?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.There is a great deal of building material lying idle. I presume that the honorable senator refers to such material as timber and galvanized iron. We have camps throughout Australia which have been empty for years, and hundreds of tons of galvanized iron is lying idle. That material could be used.
– Would the honorable senator have second-hand material in his home?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN Secondhand galvanized iron is quite satisfactory. Most people would not know that it had been used. Many of the men who have been attached to the Allied Works Council could have been employed in building houses.
– During the year the Government had to spend £25,000,000 in connexion with the British Fleet.
– Now that the actual work of settling exservicemen on the land is to commence the responsibility is to be left to the States.I assume that legislation will be introduced for that purpose, but had it been passed twelve months ago good progress could already have been been made with the work. The States have already selected many estates for settlement.
– The work would have been expedited had the referendum proposals been agreed to.
– A sensible government would have gone ahead with its plans regardless of the result of the referendum. Had the legislation to which I have referred been passed twelve months ago, 1,000,000 acres of land would now have been ready for settlement by ex-servicemen.
– The South Australian Government could not agree with the Commonwealth Government.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.The Commonwealth Government could not agree with the State. The State Government has appointed committees to select land for settlement but the Commonwealth has decided to send its own officers to make the selection. The Social Services Contributions Assessment Bill, the NationalWelfare Fund Bill and theWool Realization Bill contain provisions concerning which there can be honest differences of opinion. I realize that towards the end of a sessional period some congestion of business is inevitable, but the congestion would not be so great had more legislation been initiated in the Senate. The Minister for Trade and Customs is entitled to some credit for an improvement in this direction. The time will come when the government of the day will realize that the elected representatives of the people are equivalent to the directors of the biggestcompany in the nation.We should have time to consider fully all measures brought before us.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill he now read a second time.
This measure provides for the appropriation of revenue for the ordinary services of the various departments. The expenditure proposals of the Government have already been covered in the budget debate, and it is not proposed to deal now with the various items in detail. Any explanations that may be desired by honorable senators will be furnished at the committee stage. The bill provides for an appropriation of £146,689,000 for the services of the year 1945-46. To that amount should be added the amount already granted under Supply Act (No. 1) 1945-46, namely £55,557,000. making the total amount £202,246,000. which is the estimated expenditure from annual appropriations for ordinary services for the year 1945-46, as set out in detail in the second schedule to the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
First schedule agreed to.
Proposed vote - Parliament, £219,500 - agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £1,286,300.
.- Can the Minister say whether the proposed vote of £112,500 for the High Commissioner’s office in the United Kingdom includes any amount for immigration ?
– It does not. Provision for immigration is made under another heading.
– Under Division 16 - Council for Scientific and Industrial Research - the sum of £74,210 is set down for “ Animal health and production “. Can the Minister say whether that sum includes provision for research into the ravages of the buffalo fly? Already the buffalo fly has advanced from the Northern Territory into Queensland and as far south as Rockhampton. Unless something definite is done to check its advance, the buffalo fly will undoubtedly infest the dairy herds of New South Wales and Victoria.
The sum of £5,800 for “Mining and metallurgy “ is altogether insufficient for the purpose, particularly as there is a great deal of leeway to make up after the war.
– Can the Minister give any information as to what has been done by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to check the ravages of the cabbage moth ? Every year growers of vegetables are put to heavy expense in spraying vegetables to cope with this pest. Many people contend that as the result of spraying cabbages and cauliflowers with this poison, detriment is caused to the health of consumers. I should like the Minister to give some information as to what is being done to combat this pest.
– In reply to Senator Cooper I may say that research is being carried out at present on means to combat the buffalo fly. With respect to the provision for mining and metallurgy, investigations under this heading are concerned with elucidating the mineral associations in complex ores so that the most suitable milling technique can be determined. Ore dressing investigations are continuing at laboratories established in co-operation with the Metallurgy School, University of Melbourne, the South Australian School of Mines and Industries and the Kalgoorlie School of Mines.
.- I should like the Minister to supply detailed information concerning the Division of Industrial Chemistry for which the proposed vote this year is £105,5S6 compared with an appropriation last year of £117,810, of which £88,639 was expended. What does industrial chemistry involve? Does this mean investigation on the chemical side of the industry only, or does it include investigation of various problems of manufacture? During the war Australia accumulated a vast amount of knowledge concerning methods of testing all sorts of metals and new alloys which have become practically the property of the Government itself. I should not favour the withholding of funds necessary to enable us to make further progress in this sphere. As I indicated in my speech on the budget, not only Australia, but also every other country, must concentrate upon both the scientific and managerial sides of primary and secondary industries. As hostilities have just ceased, one cannot expect the Government to have made plans of a far-reaching character to deal with matters arising in this sphere. However, I presume that industrial chemistry, which was one of the most recent fields of investigation to be entered by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, deals only with the chemical side of industry, whereas we should do all in our power not only to consolidate the valuable knowledge we have gained during the war but also to extend that knowledge and make it available to industry generally. We have gained this knowledge not only from our own investigations, but also from our Allies, and more recently from information obtained in Germany and Japan. It should be the duty of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to seize upon all this information. It is useless to deny that in many respects Germany and Japan had advanced their investigations much further in the scientific field than the United Nations. We should now ensure that that accumulated knowledge, which has been practically placed in our hands, shall be used to the best advantage in this country as, inevitably, it will be used in other countries. Does the Government merely intend to proceed in this field in the same old way without dealing with the particular aspect I have just raised. These investigations are so important that we should not hesitate to make available the necessary funds to gain the greatest possible benefit in this field.
I should like the Minister to supply details of the operations of the Division of Fisheries, for which the proposed vote this year is £23,272. What exactly is meant by fisheries investigation? What plans has the Government in mind in this respect? Although this item has been on the notice-board, as it were, for many years the position in the fisheries industry is gradually becoming worse, with the result that to-day the prices of fish, which should be cheap and a major portion of our food, are becoming almost prohibitive.
– I commend the Government on its investigations into biochemistry and general nutrition, for which the proposed vote this year is £57,560. I should like detailed information with regard to investigations under the heading of “ National Standards Laboratory “ for which the proposed vote this year is £272,659. In what particular direction is that expenditure to be incurred ? Having regard to the very wide range of standards, I should like to know what special sections are to be studied.
.- I inform Senator Herbert flays that investigations with respect to combating the potato moth is covered under the item “Division of Economic Entomology”. That work will be persevered with. In reply to Senator Leckie, with respect to the proposed expenditure on .the Division of Industrial Chemistry, investigations aimed at the development of new and improved methods of concentration and processing of minerals of Australian origin and of new uses for derivatives of those minerals will be continued. Further work will be carried out on the manufacture and use of portland cement. Research on methods for the production of improved refractories and ceramic materials will be inaugurated. The survey of Australian deposits of foundry sands will be completed and improved methods of utilization of such sands for the production of moulds will be investigated. The production of a wide range of organic and inorganic chemicals from raw materials available in Australia will be studied. Investigations of the technology of manufacture of plastic products will be continued. “Work on the characterization of the alkaloids from Australian plants will be initiated. The development of improved methods for fellmongering of sheep skins will be proceeded with. The corrosion of metals and methods for its prevention will be investigated. Attention will be given to the application of modern physical techniques to the solution of problems of Australian industry.
I also inform Senator Leckie that the Division of Fisheries is continuing its investigation of Australian marine resources. It is exploring the technique of aerial survey and is resuming its field observations from surface vessels. The demand for an increased scale of investigations by specific kinds of craft is growing and sums have been provided for the charter of suitable small vessels for the purpose. In addition to the main laboratory at Cronulla, New South Wales, stations have been established at Perth, Hobart and Brisbane.
In reply to Senator Collett, the function of the National Standards Laboratory, consisting of the divisions of physics, electrotechnology and metrology, is to act as the custodian of the Australian National Standards. These provide for the accurate measurement of all physical quantities for which industry, commerce and science are concerned, such as mass, length, volume and area, and measurements of heat, light, sound, electricity, pressure, humidity, density, &c. The laboratory is also to undertake the comparison of sub-standards with the national standards.
– Can the Minister explain the requirements of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in order to continue investigations into the eradication of the rabbit pest?
– No provision is made specifically for that purpose.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of External Affairs.
Proposed vote, £260,500.
– I should like to know what provision is being made this year in respect of the salary of the secretary of the department. Last year the vote for this purpose was £1,400, whereas the proposed vote for this year is £1,200. What is the reason for the difference? I should like to know also whether the Government proposes, before the end of 1946, to give consideration to the status of the Department of External Affairs. My criticism in this connexion is not directed solely at this Government because I realize that the rates were fixed by previous administrations; but the salary of the secretary of this department, namely £1,200, is considerably below that of other departmental heads. Having regard to the importance of the work of the Department of External Affairs, and the fact that its activities are likely to increase considerably, I suggest that consideration be given to the payment of a remuneration to the secretary commensurate with his duties and equal to that paid to other departmental heads. It is alarming to notice that quite a number of prominent public servants are accepting positions in private employment at almost double their former salaries. The Commonwealth cannot afford to lose these men.
Has any provision been made to rectify the anomalous position in which Australia’s representatives overseas are placed because of the inadequacy of their salaries? Some of these men are forced to live virtually as paupers, and are prevented by financial worries from doing their best work. Here again I do not blame this Administration any more than I blame previous governments; but now that the war has ended it is essential that the best men available should be attracted to the Department of External Affairs, and that Australia should be adequately and efficiently represented overseas.
. - The Estimates were prepared before the appointment of the present secretary of the department. The amount provided for the salary of the secretary of the Department of External Affairs is now £1,400. The general question of the remuneration of Australian representatives and officials overseas is under consideration by a sub-committee of Cabinet, and it is expected that adjustments will be made.
– Most honorable senators have been watching with interest the extension of Australian representation abroad. Provision is made in the Estimates for the expenditure of £20,200 on the establishment of a legation in France, and one in Latin America. Can the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) explain what is hoped to be gained immediately from the establishment of these two legations ?
– It is the desire of the Government to extend its diplomatic relationships with those countries in an endeavour to encourage trade.
– I notice that no provision is made for Australian representation in the Union of South Africa. It is important that we should have a representative there because of our commercial contacts with the Union. For instance, large quantities of sleepers made from Western Australian timber, particularly jarrah, are exported to South Africa for that country’s railway expansion programme. There is no reason why the existing commercial contacts between the two countries should not be extended. To this end I believe that Australia should have an accredited representative in that country.
I deplore the cheeseparing policy of the Government in regard to Australian representation overseas. I refer in particular to the Australian Legation at Washington. The salaries paid to members of the legation staff are deplorably low, particularly in view of the high cost of living in the United States of America. The Australian Minister to Washington receives only £2,500 a year, which is much less than the salary of many American officials whose status is much lower than that of the Australian Minister. The salaries of the counsellor and the second secretary at the Australian Legation are also shockingly low, particularly in view of the social status that must be preserved. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) that this Government is not entirely to blame for this state of affairs. Other ‘administrations must share responsibility; but it is time that there was a proper appreciation of the work that is done by these men who are called upon not only to do a most important job for this country, but also to maintain the name of Australia and uphold the dignity of their office.
– Australian representation in the Union of South Africa is under consideration by the Government. An examination is being made also of the salaries and allowances of Australian representatives and officials in foreign countries.
.- Can the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) give some explanation of the policy of the Government regarding the training of staffs for its foreign legations? Up to the present apparently Australian representatives overseas have been selected by a stabinthedark method. The result has been the appointment to important positions overseas of men who although they may have been excellent public servants, had not the training necessary to fit them for diplomatic work. Diplomacy requires special training, and I should like to see a. scheme inaugurated which not only would enable juniors to start on diplomatic careers, but also would provide special courses for men of some standing in the community. The selection of Australian representatives abroad cannot continue in the present haphazard manner. We must have men specially trained for this work, although they have to spend some time at other legations, gradually increasing their knowledge and experience. Hand in hand with this matter of course is the necessity to pay adequate salaries. I cannot help but notice that the Australian Minister to Washington receives only £2,500 a year, plus an allowance for expenses. The counsellor at the same legation is paid only £856 a year, and the third member of the staff £586 a year. Such inadequate salaries can only create the impression abroad that Australia is a povertystricken country. Our representatives abroad should be able to mix with the diplomats of other countries as their equals. I repeat that the Department of External Affairs should inaugurate a scheme whereby men with outstanding qualifications for diplomatic work could be trained for overseas service. However, the right type of man will not be attracted by present-day salaries. For instance a man with university training would not be attracted by the job of counsellor to the Australian Legation at Washington, at the present salary of £856. He would feel that he would be a mere cypher and that he would be looked down upon by the diplomats of other countries. We are not a wealthy nation, but we must send trained men to overseas posts and we must pay them according to their training and the jobs that they are doing. If Australia is to maintain the position that it acquired in the eyes of the world during the war, it must appear to the world as a nation that can at least afford to pay adequate remuneration to its representatives in foreign countries.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Department of the Treasury, £2,362,000- agreed to.
Attorne y-General’s Dep artmen t.
Proposed vote, £403,400.
– The proposed vote for the Court and Conciliation Arbitration is £39,400, representing an increase over last year’s expenditure of £2,210. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) has indicated that the Government expects to make great changes in the Arbitration Court. As there is no great increase of the expenditure, does that mean that the proposed alterations will cause no extra expense or does it mean that they are to be postponed for another year?
.- The honorable senator apparently misunderstood me. I said that I favoured an alteration of the procedures of arbitration in order to eliminate legal jargon. This would have no effect on the cost of the court. The appointment of an extra judge is the reason for the increased vote.
.- I understand that the Government prepared a bill almost twelve months ago to deal with patents.Patent attorneys have been asking for an amendment of this law for some time, and when I asked a question in the Senate some months ago I was assured that a bill would be introduced. I understand that this is an urgent matter. What is the cause of the delay?
– The information will be obtained for the honorable senator.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed vote, £549,300.
.- What is being done about the Commonwealth Forestry Bureau? There are three lecturers and a principal, and I should like to know how many students are attending the school. Forestry is very important at the present time. Our forests are being depleted very quickly as the result of the manufacture of newsprint, and I doubt whether any trees are being planted to replace the timber that has been used. What has become of students who have been trained at the Commonwealth Forestry Bureau? Have they been placed in positions where they can use their knowledge regarding reafforestation? I am sure that the use of timber for the manufacture of paper is denuding our forests more quickly than was expected.
Senator COLLINGS (Queensland - Vice-President of the Executive Council; [9.51]. - There are eight students at present attending the Forestry School at Canberra, and it is expected that the number will be increased to seventeen in the coming term. All students who have been trained so far have been appointed to positions in the forestry services of the Commonwealth or of the States.
.- I notice that the proposed vote for Rent of Buildings, is £164,000, showing an increase of £19,301 over last year’s expenditure. Are these rents for buildings used by the Department of the Interior, oi for buildings used by other departments? If the rent is for buildings used by the Department of the Interior, the amount does not compare favorably with administration costs, which are estimated at £197,000.
– The rents are for buildings to be used by various departments, and the estimated figures are as follows : - Prime Minister’s Department, £10,700; Department of External Affairs, £100; Department of the Treasury, £71,500 ; AttorneyGeneral’s Department, £25,300; Department of the Interior, £16,000; Department of Trade and Customs, £3,700; Department of Health, £6,000; Department of Commerce and Agriculture, £6,400; Department of Social
Services, £21,000; Department of Supply and Shipping, £2,400; Department of External Territories, £900.
– This seems to be an example of very bad bookkeeping. Each department should have its own expenses charged against it; they should not be saddled on the Department of the Interior.
– The method suggested by the honorable senator was employed some years ago, but it was discontinued in favour of the present system. The Department of the Interior handles this phase of the departments in respect of which the various charges are incurred.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Works and Housing.
Proposed vote, £175,000.
.- This department is an offshoot of the Department of the Interior and, according to the figures in the Estimates, it is likely to become a big department. Administrative expenditure last year amounted to only £42,030, and the proposed expenditure this year is £102,000. What advantage has been gained by separating this department from the Department of -the Interior? The only apparent effect has been to increase costs of administration. It seems that another department, which was considered to be unnecessary in the past, is being built up. An explanation is required.
– The explanation is simple. The works that were being carried on previously were, in the main, defence works, and the costs were charged to the appropriate Defence departments. The works to be carried out in future will be almost entirely civil works, and therefore they will be charged to the new department. An examination of the items making up the total of £102,000 estimated for this year indicates that the only item in which there has been any substantial increase relates to salaries and allowances, totalling £17S,000, which exceeds last year’s vote by £15,600. This item relates to permanent staff, and the increase is due to increments, the transfer of officers from other departments for housing, and officers resuming employment after war service. Referring to temporary and casual employees, the proposed vote is £1,502,300. This covers temporary staff comprising architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, works supervisors, clerks, typists, machinists, &c, of the Department ofWorks and Housing, including the Allied Works Council. The number employed at the 1st July was 5,000. It is expected that this will be reduced to 2,800 at the end of November, and it is estimated that it will stand at 2,500 for the remainder of the year. The estimate of £1,502,300 is based on an average of 3,500 employees for the year. The numbers, however, are contingent upon the works undertaken. It will be seen that the Estimates provide for a reduction of this item over last year’s expenditure of £681,398. Had it not been for the transfer of staffs from other departments in connexion with housing activities, this reduction would have been greater by £135,000. The general reduction is due to the decrease of defence works. The manner in which the Estimates are framed whereby business undertakings and Territories of the Commonwealth are shown in separate sections - Parts 2 and 3 respectively - renders it necessary for that proportion of the expenditure on salaries and general expenses provided for under Part 1, which may be fairly chargeable to Parts 2 and 3, to be transferred thereto. The sum of £87,200 under (A), Salaries and payments in the nature of salary, and £17,000 under (B), General Expenses, have been so provided. The sums of £1,500,000 under (A) and £350,000 under (B) are provided under Division 199, War Services.
.- Why have war service homes been taken from the Minister for Repatriation and brought under the Minister for Works and Housing?
– As a Department of Works and Housing has been established, it has been decided to place war service homes under its control.
– Is the policy of the Government to abolish activities in connexion with war service homes?
– It is merely proposed to transfer to the new department work previously done by the War Service Homes Department.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Departmentof Civil Aviation.
Proposed vote, £717,000.
– I notice that the administrative cost of the Department of Civil Aviation, which I presume will take over complete control of activities in connexion with interstate aviation, is proposed to be increased from £94,670 last year to only £102,000 this year, and that the staff is proposed to be increased by only ten persons - an examiner of air pilots, a controller of stores, and eight supervisors of air operations. The proposed increase of the mechanical staff is only 53, and there is also to be an additional librarian. All of those positions were non-existent last financial year. Do they represent the total necessary for the department to control the nation-wide ramifications of civil aviation, as indicated by the measure recently passed by this Parliament? The people of Western Australia are alarmed about the future of civil aviation, because the trunk airline from Perth to Melbourne is very important to them, as are also the lines of communication by air on the north-west coast from Perth to Wyndham. If this be the total additional staff intended, I suggestthat it istotally inadequate. There is a deduction from the actual schedule of salaries, as the schedule states, “less amounts estimated to remain unexpended at close of year, £190,600”. Under what rule of accountancy is this deduction made? Why is not a proper list provided, so that there will be no need for such a large sum to remain unexpended at the close of the year? I also wish to know if any vote is proposed for the organization of the British Overseas Airways, the base for which is near Exmouth Gulf, or whether provision has been made for the proper staffing at that point, which is the first Australian landing place of the British Overseas Airways Service on the arrival ofthe machines from India.
– The Department’s administration will be regulatory and not operational. The nationalization of interstate airlines has yet to be dealt with by a commission, and therefore the matter is sub judice. Nothing final has yet been decided. The appointments to which the honorable senator has referred are permanent positions which for the time are to bc occupied by a temporary staff.
– Proposed new works include internal services to the amount of £1,500,000 and overseas services estimated to cost £74,000. What new works are involved? Are they new airways or are they works consequent upon the Government’s decision to take control of civil interstate airlines? Are hangars to be built in countries othen than Australia, or are we to build hangars in Australia for the housing of aeroplanes from overseas?
– That information will be supplied when the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill is before honorable senators.
– Division 55 relating to internal air services shows that there is to he a payment to contractors of £S70,000, less the amount of £870,000 to bo recovered from the PostmasterGeneral’s Department for the conveyance of air mails. In addition, an amount of £1,090,276 was credited to the revenue of the Civil’ Aviation Department in 1944-45. I understand the Government has been trying to assist the services conducted by private enterprise, but at the same time it received £870,000 from the Postal Department for the carriage of mails. Was the explanation offered on the passage of the interstate airlines legislation wrong, or is the information now supplied wrong?
– I should bo happy to supply the information, hut the honorable senator is aware that the nationalization of interstate airways i3 now before the High Court. The information which he seeks will he made available at the appropriate time.
– These figures in the budget do not depend on the result of any case before the High Court. I ask not for a statement of Government policy but for an explanation of figures in the budget. .
– This is an amount received for the carriage of mails and is offset against the expenses of the department. Information regarding new works will be made available later.
, - I am glad that the sum of £3,000 is to be made available for aero clubs and gliding clubs. The amount is small, but it will enable these clubs to function again. Can the Minister say whether any provision is being made for the carriage of perishable goods intrastate by air, and for the licensing of companies which are prepared to undertake such work? This is a matter of considerable importance to people living in outback districts.
.- In Division 55 payments to contractors seem to offset amounts to be recovered from the Postmaster-General’s Department. At the bottom of the page there is a footnote which reads : “ In addition, an amount of £1,090,276 was credited to Civil Aviation Revenue in 1944-45. The estimated amount to be so credited in 1945-46, including recoveries from other departments, is £830,000.” Does that mean that the Civil Aviation Department is making a profit over and above what is paid to contractors?
– The amount is in excess of payments to contractors.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Motion (by. Senator -Keane) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
The following papers were presented : -
Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1045, No. 14!).
Designs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945. No. 143.
Senate adjourned at 10.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 October 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1945/19451002_senate_17_185/>.