18th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3p.m. and read prayers.
Building Tradesmen. SenatorCOOPER asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
Is it a fact that a considerable number of migrant tradesmen brought from the United Kingdom this year to undertake constructional work at Canberra have left the Capital City? If so, will the Minister inform the Senate–(a) How many of these tradesmen were brought to Canberra, and how many have since left? (5) Is it a fact that the men concerned are dissatisfied with conditions of living at Canberra and that a number hove made application to return to the United Kingdom? (c) If so, does the Minister consider it advisable to bring further parties of these migrant tradesmen to work at Canberra?
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answers: -
Under the United Kingdom-Australia migration agreements, 484 British ex-service building tradesmen migrants have been brought to Canberra out of the total of 600 required bythe Department of Works and Housing. Up to the 8th Hay,150 of the men had left Canberra, but during the past month this movement has been accelerated and up to the 4th June 246 had departed. Some of the men who left have since returned. At first sight these figures appear to be alarming, but an examination of the position extending over a period of months discloses that these men have left Canberra mainly for the following reasons: - (i) Some have married girls whom they previously met while serving in Australia. (ii) Others have joined relatives who have been resident in Australia for many years. (iii) Many of these British ex-servicemen visited or were located in different parts of Australia while serving in the South-West Pacific Area and have gone to join friends made during their sojourn in Australia. (iv) The majority of the men have come from crowded areas and cities in the United Kingdom and find it difficult to settle down in Canberra, particularly with its absence of night life. (v) Numbers have been enticed to the capital cities and other centres by the lure of higher wages offered by private contractors. (vi) These tradesmen are all exservicemen and numbers are passing through their rehabilitation period; consequently until they have adjusted themselves to civilianlife they will find difficulty in settling permanently anywhere. This is evidenced by the fact that some men who left Canberra shortly after their arrival have since returned.
It is considered advisable to bring further parties of these building tradesmen to Canberra. At the request of the Minister for Works and Housing an additional group of 118 are being brought to Canberra and will arrive from the United Kingdom at an early date. It must he remembered that even if these building tradesmen migrants do not remain in Canberra they still represent a very valuable asset to Australia as wherever they may finally settle in Australia they will make a contribution by their labour towards the solution of the housing shortage which exists everywhere.
Debate resumed from the 15th October (vide page 731), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the following papers he printed: - Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings, Sc., for the year ending 30th June, 1948. National Income and Expenditure 1946-47. The Budget 1947-48 - Papers presented by the Bight Honorable J. B. Chifley, M.P., on the occasion of the Budget of 1947-48.
– I have had an opportunity to read the Estimates and Budget Papers that were presented by the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) to the Senate last night. These documents contain details of the expenditure of hundreds of millions of pounds.
A government may be compared with the board of directors of a large company, in which the people of the Commonwealth are the shareholders. It is to the citizens of this country that a government must look for the revenue necessary to carry on its activities. They arc the people whose labours produce the wealth of the nation. The prosperity of the community depends upon the planning of the Government which, as I have said, may be likened to a board of directors. The budget is, in effect, a financial report presented to the shareholders. It is the duty of the shareholders - in this case through their elected representatives in this Parliament - to ensure that the work of the directors shall produce a sound national economy. They want to be assured that their money will be expended wisely and that sufficient of their earnings will be left to them to carry on their own business undertakings. The estimated expenditure for the current financial year is £427,000,000, or approximately £57 a head of the population. As shareholders in this huge company, the first question we should ask ourselves is: Where is this large amount of money to come from? If we think intelligently wemust obviously answer that every £1 of that amount must come from production. Therefore, we must consider, first, how we can best maintain our present Tate of production and, secondly, how we can stimulate produc tion and improve upon our present capacity to produce.
At the conclusion of his budget speech, the Treasurer (Mr.Chifley) described this year as a critical one. I agree with him. I believe that the events of 1947-48 will have a very critical effect on Australia’s destiny. The right honorable gentleman also referred to the necessity for the full employment of our national resources. We have a great wealth of national resources, many of which as yet areuntouched. We have eaten into some of them, but most of them still remain to be developed and used for the common good. I draw the attention of the Senate to the undoubtedly buoyant condition of Treasury income to-day. I am sure that honorable senators on both sides of the chamber will agree with me when I say that Australia has reason to be proud of the advances that have been made in this country during the last century.
– Under a Labour government !
– I point out to the honorable senator that the Labour Government and the people ofthe present generation are reaping the rewards of the thrift, hard work and good administration, of not one government alone, but of all those who were in charge of ‘the nation’s destiny at various times during the last century. It was during that period that the foundations were laid for the prosperity which we now enjoy. We must be thankful to those governments which worked so hard during the early days to lay the foundations upon which we are now able to continue building. Those foundations were laidby men of courage and vision, by men of private enterprise who worked for the benefit of the whole community. The governments of those days did not set out to collect every penny that was available to use for their own purposes. They left money in the hands of the people, so that they,by their individual industry and enterprise, might develop this large and wealthy land of ours. I repeat that the present generation and the present Government have benefited from the work done and the foundations laid in the past.
– The honorable senator has been reading the banks’ propaganda.
– From a perusal of the budget presented in the House of Representatives it is noteworthy that very little relief has been given by the “Government to taxpayers, and the maintenance of high taxes seems to be one of the principal aims of the Government. [ propose to mention a few aspects of the budget in order to show that the Government could have made greater reductions of income tax than it has done during the last two years. The estimated revenue for the last financial year was £397,000,000, whilst the revenue actually collected was £412,000,000, which represents an increase of £15,000,000 over the estimate. The largest increases of revenue were an increase of £6,000,000 in respect of income tax, an increase of £5,000,000 in respect of sales tax, and an increase of £13,000,000 in respect of customs and excise duties. During the same period the expenditure on “Defence and Allied Services” amounted to £129,000,000, as against the estimate of £147,000,000, or, in other words, the amount actually expended was £18,000,000 less than was estimated. “Post-war Charges” showed an increase of £11,000,000 on the Estimates, whilst the total expenditure for 1946-47 was £450,000,000, as against the estimate of £444,000,000, a difference of £6,000,000. The revenue actually received during the financial year exceeded the estimate by £27,000,000, but that does not illustrate completely the buoyancy of the revenue. A simple, arithmetical calculation of the difference between the revenue received and the amount expended., and a comparison of the actual results with the original estimates, docs not provide either a complete or an accurate estimate of the Government’s financial operations over the accounting period. An outstanding example of the misleading nature of the figures presented by the Government is the fact that it was able to make a grant of £25,000,000 to the United Kingdom out of revenue. Of course, every member of the Senate is in complete agreement with the gesture, - and, indeed, I believe that al] honorable senators would have agreed to a gift of double that amount. The fact remains, however, that the sum of £25,000,000 was paid out of general revenue and that no provision had been made for such a payment in the estimates of expenditure. The sum of £25,000,000 should therefore be added to the surplus actually disclosed hy the Government’s budget.
A quicker and more accurate idea of the actual financial position will be obtained by consideration of certain figures taken from Treasury records of the last few years. Revenue derived from taxation amounted in 1943-44 to £271,000,000. in 1944-45 to £304,000,000, and in 1945- 46 to £351,000,000, whilst in 1946- 47, the last accounting period, it amounted to £374,000,000. That show? a steady increase of revenue from taxes over those years. The expenditure for defence purposes and post-war rehabilitation reached its ‘peak in 1943-44; i; amounted to £544,000,000. In the following year the amount expended was £460,000,000. Tn 1945-46 the expenditure’ under those heads amounted to £378,000,000, and last year the sum of £232,000,000 was expended. That expenditure on defence and post-war rehabilitation should decrease steadily each year is understandable, but it is not so easy to understand why civil expenditure has continued to increase. In 1943-44 civil expenditure amounted to £142,000,000, whereas in the succeeding years, 1944-45. “J 945-46 and 1946-47, it was £149,000,000! £1.64,000,000 and £218,000,000, respectively.
– Ls the honorable senator opposed to increased social services?
– Not if the services are necessary, but I shall want to know more about these items when the Estimates are before us. That civil expenditure should increase so greatly, year after year, calls for some explanation, lt i3 obvious that the present budgetary position is the outcome of the Government’s adherence to a policy of heavy taxation. For years the Opposition has emphasized that the heavy impositions have not been necessary, and these figures bear OUt that contention. Substantial reductions could have been made at least eighteen months ago. During the financial year just ended the yield from taxes exceeded the amount received in 1943-44 by £103,000,000. The annual expenditure for defence and post-war purposes has fallen by £312,000,000 since 1943-44.
– What is wrong with that?
– There is nothing wrong with it, but that ordinary civil expenditure should increase by £76,000,000 during the same period calls for an explanation. I shall have more to say on this subject when the Estimates are under consideration. Of the total expenditure of £450,000,000 in 1946-47, £413,000,000 was met entirely from taxes and other revenue, the balance, £37,000,000 being met from loans.
– That sounds like sound finance.
– That depends on how the money was expended. It is n’J sound finance to tax a business community out of existence. It is far better to leave a certain amount of money in the pockets of the people to enable them to carry on their own businesses. They can do the job better than the Government can do it for them. A considerable proportion of the £450,000,000 has been expended on wild-cat socialist schemes, of which the Government is so proud. In 1943-44, the gap between revenue and expenditure, namely £377,000,000, was financed by borrowing, but last year, when the country was no longer at war, the actual amount received by way of loan was only £37,000,000. Loan moneys may properly be used for works of a permanent character, but it would appear that revenue derived from taxes has been used for these undertakings. The comparison that I have made so far doe3 not reveal the full financial strength of the Commonwealth. The figures in respect of the receipts from customs impositions are illuminating. In 1938-39 customs revenue represented 42 per cent, of the total tax collections. In 1939-40 it represented 38.7 per cent. ; in 1945-46, 8.3 per cent. ; and in 1946-47 12.3 per cent. The percentage of revenue derived from direct taxation has increased enormously during recent years. In 1938-39 income tax, including social service contributions, represented 16 per cent, of the total tax collections. In the following year the yield from those sources was 18.3 per cent, and in 1945-46 it ha.d risen to 61.1 per cent. Last year those receipts represented 55.6 per cent, of the total tax collections. Taxation receipts for 1938-39 represented £10 13s. 9d. in respect of every member of the population. By 1943-44 the per capita payment had risen to £14 15s. In the following year it was £47 7s. 7d., whilst last. ear £50 was contributed in respect of every person in the community. When is this state of affairs to end ? Honorablesenators will agree that the receipts from! direct taxation have increased substantially year by year. It can have only one result and that is simply to tax enterprise and initiative out of existence. Probably that is the Government’s objective. Does it desire by slow strangulation to eliminate from our economy the man who is carrying on his own business ? If the Government continues to increase this tax at the same rate for the next two years - I was going to say for the next ten years, but the Government will be defeated at the next general elections - the impost will average £100 per capita.
In 1945-46, receipts from income tax and social service contribution totalled £214,500,000, and at the commencement of the financial year, 1946-47, the Treasurer announced reductions of income tax estimated to involve a loss of revenue of £17,500,000. Honorable senators will recall that those reductions were given grudgingly by the Treasurer following repeated demands by the Opposition in the Senate and in the House of Representatives that income tax should be reduced substantially; but the Treasurer agreed to a minor reduction, which he estimated would cost the Treasury £17,500,000. However, the returns for 1946-47 show that instead of incurring that loss of revenue, receipts from income tax fell .short of the preceding year’s total by only £6,800,000. Thus, the Treasurer over-estimated that loss by £11,000,000. In 1945-46, receipts from sales tax totalled £33,600,000, and, when presenting the budget on the 14th November last year, the Treasurer announced reductions of sales tax on certain articles, chiefly household goods, estimated to involve a loss of revenue of £9,000,000. However, we now find that receipts from sales tax last financial year actually exceeded total receipts for the preceding year by £2,700,000. Thus, no relief was actually given to the community in ‘respect of the sales tax. Those figures bear out the claims made at the time by the Opposition that the Government could well afford to make substantial reductions of sales tax. Collections of customs and excise duties in 1946 totalled £78,000,000. “When announcing reductions under this heading in his budget speech, the Treasurer indicated that they would involve a loss of revenue for the remainder of the year of £2,500,000. However, instead of that loss being incurred receipts from customs and excise duties in that period exceeded estimated receipts for the preceding year by £24,280,000.
Receipts under the three headings which I have enumerated have exceeded those for the corresponding financial year by a substantial amount. Instead of an estimated loss of revenue of £17,500,000 in income tax collections, the actual loss was £6,800,000. Instead of an estimated loss of £9,000,000 in sales tax, receipts from that source actually exceeded collections in the preceding financial year by £2,700,000; whilst, instead of an estimated loss of revenue of £2,500,000 in customs and excise duties, actual receipts under that heading exceeded by £24,000,000 the receipts in the preceding financial year. In the aggregate, instead of an anticipated loss of £29,000,000 under these three headings, total receipts exceeded collections for the preceding financial year by £20,000,000. In view of those figures, does any honorable senator opposite still dispute the claim made last year by the Opposition that reductions of both direct and indirect taxes could have been made at that time considerably in excess of the deductions then announced by the Treasurer? It was apparent at that time that collections of sales tax and customs and excise duties would inevitably increase, if only for the reason that so many ex-service personnel would expend their deferred pay and other service income upon their return to civil life in purchasing boots and clothing and so many everyday commodities. And it is equally likely that revenue from those sources will continue to increase during the next twelve months. Consequently, the Government can still further reduce direct and indirect taxes without in any way disturbing our economy.
Indirect taxes bear very heavily upon persons in the lower income ranges, because the great majority of the goods which they must purchase bear these imposts, whereas direct taxes are levied on the basis of each person’s capacity to pay. If the Treasurer contemplates making further reductions of indirect taxes, I urge him to reduce sales tax and other charges on cigarettes and tobacco. It may not be very widely known that indirect taxes on those articles are exceedingly high in relation to the cost to the purchaser. For example, whilst the retail price of a packet of twenty cigarettes of a well-known brand is ls. 9d.. sales tax and other charges thereon amount to ls. Id., or 62 per cent, of the retail price; whilst in the case of a 2-oz. packet of pipe, or cigarette tobacco costing 2s. 114. customs and excise and other charges represent ls. 9£d., or 60.3 per cent, of the retail price. Whilst the retail price of cigarette papers, which are in great demand by those who roll their own cigarettes, is 3£d. a packet, excise and customs and other charges thereon amount to lid.. or 50 per cent, of the retail price. Surely those figures substantiate our. claim that taxes are still unjustifiably high. The present high rates of tax are not necessary for the carrying on of the general business of the country. Greater reductions could have been effected without disturbing the national economy. In fact, reductions would have stimulated production. But I have not yet told the whole story ; I am inf ormed on reliable authority that approximately £100,000,000 owed to the Treasury has not been shown in the budget. This sum includes uncollected taxes, and amounts not yet credited from the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. This has not been denied. The figures have been given in answer to questions asked of the Treasurer, and I have no reason to doubt them. However, I have not dealt with this outstanding revenue. My arguments have been based entirely on the figures disclosed in the budget.
One might gather from an examination of the Budget Papers that both national production and national income were at a satisfactory level; but a careful analysis of the figures shows that this is not so.
It is quite true that, in terms of money units, the national income increased from £803,000,000 in 1938-39 to £1,265,000,000 in 1946-47, and that during the same period, the gross value of national production increased from £938,000,000 to nearly £1,500,000,000, an increase of approximately 60 per cent. From these figures one might be led to believe that production in Australia to-day is higher than ever before. In money units that is true, hut we must remember that the cost of goods and services is substantially greater now than in 1938-39. If national production had actually increased by 60 per cent., there would not be the shortages of almost all utility commodities thai are so evident to-day. An examination of official figures shows that, particularly in rural industries, there has been a decline in unit production as distinct from money value. We must remember that Australia’s economy depends largely upon res export of primary products. Only by maintaining this export trade can we pay for the goods that we import. Without adequate primary production, our secondary industries could not exist. Primary industries, therefore, should have been given first priority in the Government’s post-war reconstruction plans.
However, instead of taking steps to place our primary industries on a sound footing immediately hostilities ceased, the Government allowed them to continue their dangerous drift. Their present unsatisfactory condition is due in some measure to the lack of essential materials to replace or repair plant and machinery, fencing, water installations and so on, which could not be maintained adequately during the war because of the lack of labour and materials. One would have imagined that after two years of peace, the iron and steel industry, for instance, which does not depend upon materials from overseas, would have been in full production ; yet we find that materials essential to increased production of primary products, such as fencing wire and wire netting, continue in short supply. In fact, the latest figures that. I have been able to obtain show that, instead of increasing, the production of fencing wire has declined from 12,000 tons annually pre-war, to 7,800 tons at present. The Government prides itself on its policy of full employment; but if there is full, employment at present while such seriousshortages exist in almost every manufacturing industry except those engaged iti the production of luxury items, what will the position be in the future, when the demand for essential materials will be much greater than it is at the present ? The reason for the present shortages is that the Government has handled the nation’s affairs badly during the last three years. Fencing wire, wire netting and barbed wire are unprocurable in rural districts throughout the Commonwealth. Piping, and other material which is manufactured wholly from Australian products are also in short supply. The official rural statistics recently published on behalf of the Commonwealth disclose a situation which demands immediate consideration by the Government. The wool industry is one of our greatest primary industries and it contributes very largely to the prosperity of the nation. These statistics show that the total number of sheep in the Commonwealth is now 15,500,000 less than it was in 1939. It is at the lowest level on record since .1924. Wool production also has decreased below the pre-war level by approximately 47,000,000 lb. annually. I know that this state of affairs is due in some measure to drought conditions. However, the disastrous decline cannot be attributed entirely to that cause. It is largely due to the lack of materials which are needed to carry out repairs and improvements to the holdings of sheep and cattle raisers. Had wire, especially wire netting, been available in adequate quantities during the last two years, many sheep would have been saved from destruction by dingoes.
– Droughts caused huge losses.
– But the droughts did not cover the whole of Australia. The entire decrease of 15,500,000 sheep cannot be attributed solely to droughts. I shall deal with this matter in greater detail at a later date.
The buoyancy of the budgetary position and of our overseas income is largely due to the very high prices that have been paid for Australian wool since the appraisement system was terminated twoyears ago. Wool prices have increased consistently since then, and the present level is more than three times higher than the price that prevailed during the period of wool appraisement.
– Does the honorable senator consider that to be a good sign ?
– That is a difficult question to answer. It is a good sign in that it indicates that there is a world shortage of wool. It is a good sign also in that it shows that no synthetic commodity yet produced has been able to take the place of wool. This means that we have an assured market for our product. However, I defy anybody to forecast accurately what will happen to the wool industry or, for that matter, to any other primary industry when world supplies return to normal levels. At any rate, we have been fortunate to obtain such excellent prices as now prevail for our exportable primary products. Should the price of wool fall to any marked degree, the effect upon Australia’s economy will be evident at once. We saw such an effect in 1939-40, when the price of wool on the world’s markets fell to o*d. per lb. That fall was immediately reflected in Australia’s economy. The reduction of our income from overseas was so great that we had not sufficient funds to meet our commitments. The decline of our sheep flocks has had a serious effect on our wool clip, especially if we take into consideration the quantity of wool that would have been grown both by the 15,500,000 sheep which we have lost and by the progeny that they would have produced. The decrease has also caused a shortage of mutton, which is badly needed abroad. In many instances to-day, the wool on a wether’s back is worth more than the animal’s carcass. Therefore, owners probably keep their wethers for an extra year in order to obtain another clip from them instead of killing them for meat.
I shall now deal briefly with the ravages of dingoes. I have spoken of this important matter in this chamber previously and have asked the Government to initiate a national campaign for the destruction of dingoes. The average man who lives in the cities has no conception of the seriousness of the losses that are caused by this menace. The numbers of sheep killed by dingoes during the war, when labour was scarce and little could be done to stop their depredations, amounted not to thousands but to’ hundreds of thousands. It is common for two dingoes to kill 50 or more sheep in one night. Dingoes kill, not only for the sake of food, but also in play. One can only guess at the destruction that can be done by packs of six or more dingoes. These beasts are responsible for the loss of many calves on cattle properties, which means the loss of food at a later date. The problem is regarded seriously in Queensland. The Boulia Shire Council alone paid for 2,000 dingo scalps during the year ended the 30th June, 1947. That shire covers only a relatively small area.
– What price is paid for scalps?
– The price in that area is 15s. each. One group of settlers paid £2 each for 1,200 scalps during 1946. Many other groups are waging total war on dingoes, and the Queensland Government considered the situation to be so serious that it mapped an area of 160,000,000 acres of pastoral land, which it considered to be a breeding ground for dingoes, and had 1,250,000 poison baits dropped there by aircraft. A government does not go to such expense and trouble unless it considers that the menace to primary production is serious. The Commonwealth Government- is involved in this matter, too, because it controls the Northern Territory, which is faced with the same menace. It is quite useless for any one State to take action to combat the dingo menace if a State adjoining it does practically nothing in that direction; and the Australian Government has done very little in the Northern Territory. I know individuals on holdings (here who have spent a lot of money dividing and sub-dividing their properties and providing water to enable country which had previously been used for depasturing cattle to feed sheep. In general, that is the way the development of the country has progressed; first have come cattle, then sheep, and then dairy cattle. Same of the men to whom I refer have had their properties literally eaten out by dingoes, and they have had to depasture cattle once more on their holdings, which is a retrograde step. We all desire the advancement of Northern Australia, but there is no escaping the fact that instead of progress being made, the reverse i9 happening in large parts of it, because of the dingo plague.
– But that is not the only reason!
– That is the only reason. The honorable senator may be speaking from his knowledge of conditions in Tasmania, but I speak from my knowledge of conditions in Queensland and Northern Australia. I have firsthand knowledge of holdings in northwestern Queensland where the depasturing at sheep has had to be abandoned, because the properties have been eaten out. I realize that some honorable senators do not believe that; they think that I speak, not from, actual knowledge, but from imagination. However, that is not so, and the sooner the Australian Government and the people who live in the cities realize what the men who are developing this country have to contend with, the better it will be for the whole community. The men outback are carrying the burden for the people who live in the cities, and in making this appeal for financial assistance to overcome the dingo menace, I am, speaking for them. Senator Lamp apparently regards this matter as a joke, but it is a most serious matter to the people concerned.
In reply to the question which is so often asked - In what way can the problem be solved - I think that the payment by the Australian Government of its fair share of the expense involved in eradicating dingoes would go a long way towards solving the problem. The Queensland Government, the Queensland municipal and shire councils, and landholders, are spending considerable sums of money to combat the dingo menace, and I ask the Australian Government to bear its fair share of the financial burden. The money is needed to provide a bonus of 20s. a head to encourage the destruction of dingoes.
– The Leader of the Opposition would have people raising dingoes !
– The honorable senator’s remark shows clearly that he does not know anything about the subject, because if money were to be made by unscrupulous people raising dingoes, they would have done so years ago when the bonus paid was not 20s., but 60s. a head. The method which should be adopted to provide the financial inducement to destroy these pests is for the Australian Government to make grants to State governments, who would divide the money between the local government bodies concerned, for payment directly to station owners, managers and other responsible persons for disbursement to the individuals who actually destroy the dingoes. That system has already been adopted in Queensland and works quite efficiently.
– Which is the worse pest, dingoes or foxes ?
– In my opinion dingoes are a far greater pest than foxes because foxes, as a rule, kill only when they are hungry, whereas dingoes kill for the sake of killing.
– Thirty-six lambs which I owned were killed in one night by foxes. Is not that bad enough?
– I quite admit that, and I believe that a bonus should also be paid for the destruction of foxes. Eodension of time granted.]
– Has it been the practice in Queensland to pay bonuses only during the last six years ?
– No, but dingoes have been a menace ever since the pioneers of this country commenced to develop it. As soon as sheep have been introduced’ dingoes have taken their toll of them.
– How much money did the Government which the Leader of the Opposition supported spend on the destruction of dingoes?
– I admit that that Government did nothing about the matter, but I am looking to the future, not to the past, and the time is long overduefor some action to be taken.
– Is it not a fact that the dingoes have become more prevalent since the adoption of the system of bonus payments ?
– That is not so, but during the war they did become more prevalent. I realize that some honorable senators opposite are treating this matter jocularly and are suggesting that unscrupulous people might breed dingoes to obtain payment of a bonus. That, of course, is ridiculous, and I urge the Government in all seriousness to make available the sum of £100,000 to eradicate this pest. The expenditure of that money would be, in reality, an investment, because the Government -would receive a substantial return in the form of increased revenue from income tax paid by pastoralists. Every head of sheep and cattle is a national asset ; it is growing into money : but, unfortunately, the Government does not seem to realize that, in spending money to promote the increase of sheep and cattle, it is contributing to the national income. It has been proved conclusively that dingoes can be checked by trapping and poisoning, provided sufficient inducement is offered in the form of a scalp bonus for their destruction. I have dealt with this matter at some length because I think it is one of firstclass importance.
Furthermore, the adoption of a system of bonus payments for dingo destruction would encourage men to go into the back country. That my contention is correct is proved by the number of men who are already working and living in the back country in Queensland, in those areas where bonuses are paid by local government bodies. However, that is not enough, and the system of bonus payments should be extended throughout Australia. Once men have worked and lived in the back country, and have satisfied themselves that they can earn a reasonable living, they will feel impelled to remain there. We are continually complaining that men tend to congregate in the cities and to neglect the development of the country. Here is an opportunity to encourage men of enterprise, ingenuity and independence to go out into the back country and accomplish something worth while, and if the Government seized this opportunity it would develop the country much more cheaply than it could by any other means.
I turn now to discussion of the dairying industry and I stress its importance to Australia, from the point of view of home consumption and export trade. In the short time at my disposal I have been able to gather some statistics in relation to this industry. They show that production has declined. Since 1943 the
Commonwealth Statistician has recorded dairy cattle separately, whereas previously they were grouped with other cattle. The first figure given by him was 5,000,000 dairy cattle in Australia, but last year that number fell to 4,590,000, a reduction of 410,000 animals. The decline has been most marked in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. Milk production also has declined. Statistics for 1945-46 - :the latest figures available- show a decline of 112,000,000 gallons a year, compared with 1938-39. Butter production has declined by 58,000 tons since before the war. I am convinced that dairymen have not received a sufficient price for their products, particularly in view of rising costs, to induce any considerable expansion of the industry. Many parts of Australia are admirably suited to dairying. It is an industry which provides a considerable amount of employment, both in its primary stages and in the preparation of secondary products. Dairying is an industry which can be carried out successfully in Australia. The Opposition has consistently advocated that reasonable prices for primary products, especially .those of thedairying industry, should be guaranteed. We have asked for the appointment of a permanent and independent tribunal to function in respect of rural industries along the lines of the Tariff Board in relation to secondary industries. We believe that that is only fair. We have always maintained that the man on the land is entitled to the cost of production of his product, plus a small margin of profit. Recently, the Government showed some concern at the falling off of butter production and I decided to appoint a committee to investigate costs in this industry. In March last the adjournment of the House of Representatives was moved by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) to draw attention to the unsatisfactory conditions which existed in the dairying industry. On that occasion the honorable member said -
The Minister is in possession of certain information to warrant a substantial increase of the price of butter, without waiting for the report of the committee. I believe that that interim price should not be less tha.n 2s. per lb.
The committee was appointed recently by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard), and only a few days ago the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) announced that, as a result of its report, the return to the farmer at the factory -was to be increased to 2s. per lb. for commercial butter and made retrospective to April, 1947. That represented an increase of 4-Jd. per lb. There is to be some adjustment of the basic price as from the 1st July last, -which means that the price may rise or fall from time to time, as the -cost of production fluctuates. In other words, there is no guaranteed price other than that the basis is to be 2s. per lb. on the 1st July, 1947. I am sure that those engaged in dairying will appreciate the increased price, but L point out that dairying organizations in central and northern Queensland, and in other parts of Australia, made strong representations for a higher price as far back as eighteen months ago. The position was so acute in one part of Australia that dairy-farmers threatened to strike unless they were paid the cost of production, which they estimated at 2s. per lb. However, they continued to produce butter, even though the rate paid to them was not satisfactory. . I am firmly convinced that the low price paid for butter is an important factor in the decline of butter production during recent years. Even at 2s. per lb. a dairy-farmer is not getting as much for his product as if he sold it in the open market, where the price fluctuates according to the law of supply and demand. Recently. the United Kingdom Government entered into a contract to purchase Danish butter at 242s. sterling per cwt. at Danish ports. That represents 302s. -per cwt. in Australian currency, or 2s. 8d. per lb. Even if that rate be reduced by 3d. to reach the pre-war basis, which would bring the price down to 2s. 5d. per lb., it represents 5d. per lb. more than has been paid to the Australian dairy-farmers. I ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to inform the Senate at what price Australian butter is being sold ‘in the United Kingdom. I have reason to believe that it is a little more than 2s. per lb. at factories in Australia. The dairy-farmer has been brought up in a hard school, and cannot be deceived into believing that the price offered to him is more than he is entitled to receive. Australia’s production of butter in 1938-39 was 217,000,000 lb. By 1946-47 it had fallen to 116,000,000 lb., a decline of more than 100,000,000 lb. Had the 1938-39 production been maintained, Australia would have been able to supply the people of Great Britain with a 50 per cent, increase’ of their butter .ration for nine months of each year. That would have meant 3 oz. instead of 2 oz. a week for each person.
Another disturbing fact is the drift of population from country districts to Australian cities. Statistics show that 19,000 fewer persons were employed on rural holdings last year than in 1938-39. That is a big loss to the Australian countryside. It is also a disturbing fact to realize that only 50,000 ex-servicemen returned to the land on their demobilization.
– They want an increased basic wage.
– Dairy-farmers should be given a reasonable stabilized price for their product. The granting of an increased price is within the power of Commonwealth and State governments, many of which are Labour governments.
– Dairy-producers have never enjoyed such good prices for their products as they are now receiving.
– It is true that prices are higher to-day, but the Minister for Supply and Shipping will agree that production costs, which include the costs of materials, are higher than ever. The increased prices which dairymen receive for their products do not compensate for their increased costs. It is possible to get people to engage in an industry almost anywhere provided that the remuneration is sufficiently attractive and reasonable amenities exist. Until recently, the remuneration of dairy-farmers was not sufficient to induce people to take up land for dairying and to buy plant and machinery at high costs. Unless that inducement be given, our primary industries will continue to decline. That is a matter of simple mathematics. Every individual desires to get the best he can out of life.
– What is the reason for the decline of butter-fat during recent years?
– Since the outbreak of war labour and materials have not been available and as a result many dairy herds have been sold.
– The honorable senator cannot have it both ways; when men were at war they could not be working on dairy farms.
– The honorable senator persists in looking backwards, whereas I prefer to look forward to the future, to see what can be done to check the decline of our primary industries. A few moments ago Senator Aylett interjected to say that ex-servicemen would not go on the land because the basic wage is too low. I remind the honorable senator that Labour governments are in power in the Commonwealth and in many States and can remedy that state of affairs. That is the Government’s responsibility. I am telling the Government what is happening, and warning it as to what will happen if it does not take cognizance of the facts. They are hard facts, because the country is being denuded of population. Australia is a young, undeveloped country, and our primary need is population. We must open up our rural areas and give as much attention to the welfare of residents in the country as we now give to those who live in our cities, because the cities depend for their existence upon rural production.
The Prime Minister has stressed the need to increase our exports. I emphasize the urgency of that need. However, the Prime Minister does nothing .but talk about it. He said that he hoped that there would be an increase of the volume of exports. The Government must do more than merely hope in this- matter. Australia was given a wonderful opportunity when hostilities ceased to capture new markets overseas. During the last two years, we practically had the world’s markets , at our feet. Our individual plants were not damaged in the war, and with hundreds of thousands of men and women trained in war industries, we had merely to go straight ahead and change over to peace-time production. However, during the last two years we have witnessed strike after strike in our key industries until to-day we find that we cannot supply the goods which our own people require let alone build up our export trade. When it was possible for other countries in that period to purchase consumer goods from Australia, the waterside workers refused to load the ships calling at our ports. The waterside workers have dictated the foreign policy of the Government, and the Government has not resisted them. How is it possible to build up an export trade under those conditions? I shall give a few facts which emphasize the plight in which we find ourselves to-day. Thousands of our people, including ex-service personnel, are vainly searching .for homes. They are living either with their parents, or in small flats or garages. They are unable to obtain homes of their own. Yet it ifnow two years since the end of the war. What is the cause of this tragedy? The latest statistics available show that our present production of bricks is at the rate of 40,000,000 a month, hut that is only two-thirds of our production of bricks prior to the war. How can the Government expect to make up the serious . lag in housing under those conditions?
The Prime Minister claims that full employment has been maintained. Full employment is a most desirable objective, but we must first ensure production of the things we need most. Unless that be done, the number of persons employed is meaningless. If a disproportionate number of our citizens are engaged on non-productive work, our economy must suffer. Unfortunately, that is what is happening in Australia at present. The Budget Papers disclose that at the 30th June, 1947, the number of persons engaged in civilian work was 3,212,000. or 200,000 more than in June, 1946, and 480,000 more than in June, 1939. According to the figures issued by the Commonwealth Statistician on the Sth September, 1947, our total labour force in July, 1939, was 3,048,600, whilst in June, 1947, it was 3,298,100, or an increase of the total labour force of 249,500. However, in July, 1939, wage and salary earners employed by government authorities increased from 405,000 to 564,000 in June, 1947, or an increase in that period of 159,000. Thus, of the increase of our total labour force of 249,500 since 1939, over 159,000, or 63.7 per cent., are employed by governmental authorities. Those figures prove that the Government has failed to realize the need to increase the production of the goods most essential to our economy. Yet, on its own figures, it has had the maximum man-power available to it. It has not been prevented in any way from implementing its policy of so-called full employment through lack of power, because it has had a majority in both Houses of the Parliament. Nevertheless, there has been no substantial increase of unit production, and there is little likelihood of such production being increased in the future. As production is the real measure of the material prosperity of any country, the Government has given to the people, in its claims with respect to full employment, a false impression of our national economy, which at present rests upon high prices and a haphazard and unplanned use of our industrial resources.
– I listened very carefully to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper). I read with pleasure in the budget papers the facts concerning the Government’s genuine effort to avoid any depression in the future, and its determination to maintain its policy of full employment. The policy enunciated by the Leader of the Opposition is similar to the policies which were put into operation in this country in the late ‘twenties. During and following World War I., we enjoyed prosperity based largely upon the free circulation of money ; and to a degree we have enjoyed a similar prosperity since the commencement of World War II. However, if the Opposition party had its way, we should soon find ourselves in a position corresponding to that which existed in the late ‘twenties. Those were dark years for the workers of this country. Our younger generation to-day did not experience those conditions; but, in the meantime, they have served in the fighting forces in defence of this great Commonwealth. I want them to be very careful not to be misled by the snide claims of the Opposition parties in this Parliament, and in the Parliament of Victoria. Unless they are very careful, they, too, will experience the conditions which their fathers and mothers underwent in the depression in the late ‘twenties. During World War I. the big bosses lauded our soldiers ; they waved the flags and made all sorts of promises to our soldiers, including preference in employment and immunity from want. However, following that war those soldiers were put at the business end of a pick and shovel, or faced conditions which f orced them to carry their swags throughout the continent in search of employment. Australia experienced considerable prosperity about the middle ‘twenties, when many public works were undertaken. Subsequently, however, the big bosses, who control finance in not only this country but also overseas, cracked their whips. Those interests had financed Hitler in his rise to power in Germany, and they wanted to set up a similar regime in this country during the depression.
Ex-servicemen of World War I., who had set up in business, had their overdrafts called up. At that time, the real citizens of this country - good fathers, mothers, sons and daughters - were reduced to degradation. This was due not to any fault on their part, but to the fact that those individuals who owed their financial position to them - the capitalistic class of the Allied Nations in the war of 1914-18- refused to fulfil the obligations that they had undertaken in the early days of that conflict. I have seen officers and privates of World War I. - men who formerly were earning £10 or £15 a week in responsible jobs- forced, through no fault of their own, to walk the streets of this country and live in hovels. The Leader of the Opposition has told us to-day what he would do if his party were in office; but let us consider for a moment the recent actions of anti-Labour forces in Victoria. Several weeks ago, a by-election took place in the State electorate of Collingwood. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies) decided to make the issue “ Collingwood versus Canberra “. Collingwood gave the answer to Canberra, and we increased our great democratic Labour vote in that electorate by 2,000 or 3,000. The only reason the Liberal candidate received any -votes at all was that there was no Communist candidate and, of course, all the Communist votes went to the representative of the Liberal party. There is no connexion, nor can there ever be, between the great Australian Labour party and the Cornrnunist party, because a prospective member of the Labour party must take a pledge before he is admitted to membership. On the other hand, anybody at all can belong to the Liberal party or the Australian Country party. One night last week, the Liberal party held a meeting in East Melbourne and two of my friends who belong to the Labour party went along to watch what was going on. I can only tell part of the story, but I can say that one of them was asked eventually to become treasurer of the branch. It isclear, therefore,that Communists and other desirables in the community would have no difficulty at all in joining the Liberal party. As I have said, the people of Victoria showed their support of the Labour party in no mean fashion at the Collingwood by-election, and I venture tosay that on the 8thNovember, thesame answer will be given all over the State. What is the position in Victoria to-day? The lower house of the Victorian legislature, the Legislative Assembly, is elected on a democraticfranchise - one man one vote. Until recent events, the Labour party was able to govern successfully because it could command a majority in the Legislative Assembly. However, because of certain proposals in the Commonwealth sphere, the Legislative Council decided to demand an election and issued an ultimatum that unless an election was agreed to, the SupplyBill on which the wages and salaries of the Victorian public servants depended, would not be passed. Here, surely, we have evidence of a little dictatorship. The move was instigated by Sir Frank Clarke, who althoughold and decrepit, still has the mind of a monkey onfinancial matters. Strangely enough, in similar circumstances only a few months previously, he expressed . the opinion that it was not rightthat the Legislative Council, which was not elected on a democratic franchise, should hold up the payment of the salaries and wages of the public servants. On that occasion he opposed the move, and the Cain Government was able to continue in office. Completely reversing his attitude not many weeks later, the same Sir Frank Clarke told the Legislative Council that in view of the Australian Government’s terrible proposals in regard to banking, it should refuse supply to the Cain Government until an assurance was given by the Premier that he would seek the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly. That is the history of the present Victorianpolitical situation. There are 3.4 members of the Legislative Council, elected by . 400,000 of the 1,400,000 electors in Victoria. When the Legislative Assembly passed legislation providing a vote for returned soldiers at the upper house elections, that reactionary body voted against the proposal, saying in effect, “ These boys were good enough to fight for their country, but they are not qualified to vote “. I recall that in the depression years from 1929 to 1931, when the Scullin Labour Government was in office, the Opposition had a substantialmajority in this chamber. The Scullin Government had been returned to office in the House ofRepresentatives with a mandate from the people to govern this country. Unfortunately the then Prime Minister subsequently fell for a political trick worked by one of the greatest renegades that this country has ever known. The Labour party was forced togo to the country, thesubterfuge adopted by its opponents being an alleged threat to abolish the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The Scullin Governmenttook office in the lower house in 1939 with a majority of 25, but its legislation was defeated or mutilated by the anti-Labour forces in the Senate, and we found ourselves faced with a great depression. That is the fate that again awaits this country unless the electors are prepared to ensure that, that great man of the people, Ben Chifley, shall remain in control of the treasury-bench.
The Leader of the Opposition has referred to housing. I have before me a statement prepared by the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon). It shows that between April, 1944, and October, 1947, 10,000 houses were built under the Commonwealth-State housing agreement. In addition, in 1945-46, 4,116 houses werebuilt under government sponsorship by authorities such as the Commonwealth Bank, the South Ausralian Housing Trust, the Western Australian Workers Homes Board, and the Rural Bank of New South “Wales, and in the following year, 6,000 houses were built by these authorities, making a total of 10,116 for the two years. Houses built by private builders in 1945-46 numbered 7,000 and in 1946-47, 21,000, making a total of 28,000 for the two years. Therefore, houses built in 1945-46 aggregated 14,000 and in 1946-47 32,000. making a total of 46,000. In addition 5,000 service establishments were converted into homes, bringing the grand total to 51,000 for the two years. This compares favorably with the average of 27,000 homes a year during the ten immediate pre-war years, 1930-1940. That period included, of course, the darkest days of the depression, when ample man-power and materials were available. Throughout Victoria to-day there are thousands of houses in the course of construction, and but for the interference of private enterprise black marketeers in housing materials, many more homes would have been completed. Hundreds of dwellings are half finished. Some of them are held up because of the shortage of bricks, others because there is no roofing iron or roofing tiles. Black market builders have created this state of affairs by selling bricks to one home purchaser, roofing iron to another and so on. Crocodile tears are shed to-day by members of the Opposition parties and .their supporters because there are not sufficient homes for exservicemen and for the people generally.
But during the depression when, as I have said, supplies of man-power and material were ample, what did members of the Opposition and their HeraldAgeArgusSun newspaper proprietor supporters do ? They said, “ “We do not have anything to do with the building of homes “. I was playing an active part in the trade union movement in Victoria at that time, and I recall that we had numerous deputations to ‘the then Premier, Mr. Dunstan. He, in turn, attended meetings of the Loan Council at Canberra under the chairmanship of anti-Labour leaders, and sought funds for housing programmes in his State. “We knew, as any trade unionist knows, that by providing employment in the building industry employment can be provided in almost every other industry. The building industry employs carpenters, bricklayers, plasterers and so on, who, in turn give employment to grocers, butchers and other trades people. I have no doubt that Mr. Dunstan did make the representations that we asked, but his efforts met with little success. As late as July, 1939, when the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) was Prime Minister, and the present president of the Liberal party, Mr. R. G. Casey, Treasurer of the Commonwealth, Mr. Dunstan asked the Loan Council to make £1,000,000 available to construct homes for the workers of Victoria. But he returned empty-handed. saying that no money was available. Yet. only three months later, in September, of the same year, the same Australian Government budgeted for an expenditure pf £35,000,000 for war purposes. I do not suggest that this money was not required for the war, or that members of the then United Australia party, were responsible for the war, but the fact remains that only three months previously an application for £1,000,000 to build homes for Victorian workers had been rejected.
Yet to-day, members of the Opposition have the temerity to criticize the Labour Government, whose achievements are second to none in the world. The Menzies Government had no difficulty in raising £35,000,000 to train as soldiers, sailors, or airmen, the men to whom it had not been prepared to give jobs or homes only a few months before. These men enlisted and fought for their country, and I venture to say that in many cases their jobs as servicemen were the first that they had ever had, and that their service pay was the first that they had ever received. In 1932, a Labour renegade, the late Mr. Lyons, said to the people of Australia, “ Get rid of Scullin and we shall give you back your security”. The people were misled then but they will never be misled again. We were defeated at the elections in 1931. What happened after that? We found, when war was declared in September, 1939, that this country, suffering from shortages of food, homes, and many other things needed by the people, had an army of 500,000 men. That is what Joe Lyons gave to the people who trusted him in 1931. They did not receive any of the things promised by him until this great Labour Government came into office and made possible the fulfilment of those promises. This Government is doing a wonderful job, through the various State governments, in providing houses for the people, particularly in view of the fact that we are still in the period of transition from war to peace. World War II. was vastly different from World War I. As everybody knows, every man, woman and child in Australia had to help in the effort to prevent the Japanese from landing on our shores. This Government has already accomplished much. Its members come from the classes which have always worked and wanted. It understands their needs and ensures that they shall be satisfied.
I refer now to the land settlement of ex-servicemen. Only two months ago, I had the honour and pleasure of visiting some of the Victorian soldier settlement areas in company with the Victorian Minister for Lands, Mr. Galvin, the president of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, Mr. Holland, and a vicepresident of the league, who is also a member of the Soldier Settlement Commission, Mr. Homburg. After inspecting the areas, Mr. Holland, in a statement to- the press, declared that, owing to sound government, the mistakes that had been made after World War I. in regard to land settlement would not be repeated, and commended the State Government for the wonderful job that it had been doing. Let us examine the record of the government which administered the settlement scheme in the Mallee area of Victoria after World War I. If I know anything at all, I know something about the Mallee. Most of my life has been spent in that district. I have known it since 1912. When I came back from World War I., in which I played a small part, I was offered a returned soldier’s block in the Mallee. These blocks, which had an area of about 640 acres, had been pioneered by earlier settlers who, by working hard for long hours, had been able to earn £4 or £5 a week. Then along caine the “ big boys “ from the associated banks, who readily made credit available to the Commonwealth Government and the State governments at high rates of interest, and they purchased the blocks at £10 an acre. The old “ cockies “ left the land, and returned soldiers were installed there. The first commitment that had to be met by these new settlers was interest at the rate of 6 per cent. For a 640-acre block of land valued at £10 an acre, that amounted to about £8 a week. Then the settler had to make an additional £5 a week in order to earn what the previous holders had earned, bringing the total to £13 a week. In addition, they had to pay off the cost of machinery supplied to them by private enterprise - the International Harvester Company of Australia Proprietary Limited - which cost about £2 a week. Thus, the average soldier settler was expected to produce an income of about £15 a week, in good seasons and in bad seasons, from a property from which the pioneer settler could produce only £5 a week. That is how soldiers were settled after the last war.
– They were “ settled “ all right.
– Yes, they were “ settled “. I venture to say that few of those men still remain on their holdings, and that those who do are not in a sound financial position. In the statement about land settlement which I mentioned earlier, Mr. Holland declared that the present situation was so different from that which prevailed after World War I. that, if a settler was not successful to-day, it could only be because he was not prepared to work. After World War I., the land sharks and bank directors, such as Sir Frank Clarke, a vice-president of one of the trading banks and also’ a director of Goldsbrough Mort and Company Limited, fleeced the exservicemen. To-day, fortunately for democracy and for the people of Australia, these individuals will not be able to do so again. Land has been acquired only at its true value. Irrespective of market values, land is worth only what it will produce. The Government recognizes this fact, and it will ensure that ex-servicemen are settled under conditions which will enable them to operate on a financially sound basis.
I refer now to the Postmaster-General’s Department. I have had 25 years’ service in that department.
– A wonderful institution!
– Yes, my praise goes out to the officers under whom I worked in the department. No blame can justly, be laid at the door of departmental heads, sectional heads or staffs, or at the d’oor of this Government, for the chaos and bungling that exists in the department to-day. On numerous occasions before the Labour- party came into power, estimates submitted by responsible officers for the purpose of meeting the needs of this growing nation for postal facilities were rejected. Already, as a new senator, I have been overwhelmed with requests from citizens to help them to secure telephones. I remind honorable senators that each new telephone installed is a revenue producer for the nation, and helps to meet the financial commitments of the Government, which I shall discuss later. Nevertheless, the department is unable to meet the demand for telephones. Even under the efficient administration of this Government, and of the present PostmasterGeneral (Senator Cameron), it has not yet been able to catch up with the leeway caused by the maladministration and puling methods of previous governments, which refused to- provide money for one of the greatest institutions in Australia. The department cannot provide sufficient post offices, telephones, or any other facilities to satisfy the needs of the nation. I hope that the people realize and appreciate the wonderful job that ha3 been done by this Government, in spite of the way in which the department was hamstrung because of the dilly-dallying of other- governments.
The Leader of the Opposition discussed primary production. I shall refer particularly to wheat. “When the Labour party came into office, in 1941, the wheatgrowers’ commitments to the “ big boys “ of the associated banks amounted to about £140,000,000. To-day, fortunately, that debt has been reduced to about £40,000,000. Of course, this is due in part to the world scarcity of wheat and to other factors which help to cause good prices, thus enabling the wheat-growers to liquidate their debts. The shocking treatment of the- wheat-farmers by the banks and other institutions is- becoming more evident every day in Victoria-.. That old. villa.in, Sir Frank. Clarke,, is- one of the people who have been grinding, their heels into the faces of the wheat-growers foa many years. These people are opposed to. the Labour Government’s wheat industry stabilization, scheme^ which, assures to the farmers a reasonable return for their labours. These- “ Collins-street farmers “ have reaped the profits which have been earned by the growers over theyears, and now they are complaining because this Government is making it possible for. the farmers to market their wheat without the services of the “ middle men “. Sir Frank Clarke and his- fellows are very perturbed. They forced farmers; to sell wheat at ls. 7.d- a bushel, and then held it in Goldsbrough Mort’s storages, under mortgage to the banks,, until they could obtain 5s.. a bushel for it. They made huge profits from wheat although few of them had seen a wheat farm. We must beware of such people in. this democracy. They are the sort of. people who financed Hitler so that he could set up his Nazi, regime in Germany. The present Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives- (Mr. Menzies) returned from, a visit to Germany beforethe war and told us- that Hitler was one of the greatest leaders in the world. That statement is on record in the Sydney Bulletin, and Mr. Menzies has never denied it. He said that Germany was the only prosperous country overseas, and that this was due to the leadership of Hitler.. Such, people must not be allowed to pull, the wool over the eyes of the electors. I refer now to the dairying ind.ustry. The Leader of the Opposition knows well that our primary industries have deteriorated owing, to droughts and w.ar-time conditions. Nobody denies that. Nevertheless^ I say to him that present prices for dairy products, which have been stabilized by this Government, are unprecedented in. the history of Australia. To-day, a dairy-farmer canplan - subject to droughts,, which, constitute an. unavoidable risk. - for- yearsahead and’ for as long, as this Government remains in power. I had intended to quote -the- finding, of the- Joint Dairying Industry Advisory Committee, but as the Leader, of the Opposition has. already done so. I need not rapeat.it.
Finally, I shall tell the Senate how the Labour party came into power and how this country was saved as the result of an accident. You know., Mr. President, that the Curtin Government came into office in 1941 through no choice of the people. The change was due to the fact that certain people who had a true Australian outlook realized that, unless drastic action were taken, we should soon be obliged to vote for Tojo or some other Japanese overlord. These people decided that the time had arrived for Menzies and his team to go. The situation was not caused by any trouble-making on the part of our then leader, the late Mr. John Curtin. It arose from the inability of Mr. Menzies to command the confidence of his own Cabinet. Because of this, the reins of government were handed to the late Mr. Curtin. A similar occurrence took .place in Victoria in 1945. The Government formed by the counterparts of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party came to a disagreement, as did the two parties in the Commonwealth Parliament in 1941, and dissolution was agreed upon. The parties went to the country, .and Mr. Cain was returned with a majority of his party. Now, a minority of Mr. Cain’s opponents have forced him out of office. Those are the tactics used by the Liberal party and the Australian Country party whenever they have an opportunity to do so. The same sort of thing happened in the Commonwealth Parliament under worse conditions. Everybody will remember that 1941 was one of the darkest years that this country has ever known. The Japanese were almost on Australia’s shores but the Government was only dillydallying and playing at politics. Its members were giving vent to petty jealousy at a time when our soldiers were dying in thousands in the Middle East and on the islands of the Pacific. It was a fortunate day for Australia when John Curtin decided to take the reins of government.
Sometimes it is very difficult to prove to the people that something which you offer to them is for their own good. From 1931 until 1941, we were unable to prove to the people of Australia that the only party capable of governing the country successfully was the Australian Labour party, whose policy is founded on the true principles of Christianity and democracy. We were opposed by the press, the banks, and the other moneyed powers. Our speeches in this Parliament were not broadcast in those days and, unfortunately, we were not able to impress the people. But what happened? When this political accident occurred, Mr. Curtin took over the reins of government. His Ministry continued in office until the general elections of. 1943, when the people of Australia said : “ What have we been doing? Why have we been so foolish? This is the man sent to govern us ! “ They returned his party with an overwhelming majority in both Houses of this Parliament. The Australian Labour party has proved to th© people that it has something to offer which it is not selling to them, but is giving to them for their own good. The Curtin Ministry continued in office until 1945, when, unfortunately, the Government lost its leader. However, the Australian Labour party was able to replace him with another great man of the people in the present Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). The Chifley Ministry went to the electors in 1946, and the result reversed the position in this chamber. Members of the Australian Labour party in the Senate occupy the same dominating position which supporters of the anti-Labour parties occupied in this chamber in 1935, and this change came about, not as the result of some political subterfuge or chicanery, but as a genuine expression of public opinion. One may assert, therefore, that the people endorsed the Australian Labour party’s policy in 1943, and again in 1946, and I am confident that the electors will again endorse that policy. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
– I congratulate the Government on the submission of the Budget Papers to the Senate. In dealing with this matter it is necessary to traverse some of the recent history of this country. During World War II., almost 1,000,000 Australians enlisted in the armed forces, and it was necessary for the Government to impose many irksome restrictions, including wage-pegging and man-power control, in the interests of the people themselves. However, I believe that even now many people do not realize how close the enemy came to invading this country, and after six years of the most destructive war in the history of mankind, it is inevitable that the” transition of our national economy from war to peace should be a task of colossal magnitude. It has been pointed out that the people of Australia depended, in their hour of peril, upon a Government composed of members of the Australian Labour party. It is a matter of history that in October, 1941, the most critical period of the war from Australia’s standpoint, the Curtin Government did not possess a majority in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. The anti-Labour parties had so failed Australia in the period leading up to that crisis, that the duty of steering the ship of state safely through the danger devolved upon the Curtin Government. And although that Government did not possess a majority in either House it was able to carry on until 1943. General Douglas MacArthur, who was then Supreme Commander in the South- West Pacific, said at that time that Australia was making a greater contribution to the prosecution of the war, in proportion to its population, than any other country in the world. Of course, some people say, “We know ,all about that; that is past and gone”. The point is that we must remember now that six years of the most violent and destructive war in human history wrought unprecedented havoc upon our economy, and when we consider that, of our small population of 7,000,000, 1,000,000 were serving in the armed forces, we realize that Australia’s efforts were devoted entirely to the prosecution of the war. I do not propose to recount in any further detail the events of that time, other than to emphasize that in 1941 the people of this country discovered, after two years of war, that the politcal parties to which honorable senators opposite belong were quite inadequate for the task confronting them. Of course, those parties were masquerading under different names then - indeed, it would require a Philadelphia lawyer to keep track of their names; and we know that a person who changes his name does so only because he wishes to cover up his past.
– That does not apply to the Australian Country party.
– The Australian Country party is merely an appendage of the Liberal party. In the exhaustive effort made by the Australian people during the war, people were withdrawn from the production of civilian requirements, and that is something which should be remembered when criticism is made of the delays and difficulties caused by the transition from war to peace.
For at least 25 years prior to 1943. including the ‘thirties, this country was controlled by governments formed from the anti-Labour parties, when the people of Australia were subjected to the most inhuman treatment. During that decade, people were tramping country lanes seeking work and food, and many of the people on whom we depended for our safety a few years hence were unable to obtain work. Indeed, many young people who left school in the ‘thirties attained adulthood without ever having had a regular job. Honorable senators who support the Government are determined to avoid a repetition of those disastrous years, and the political party to which we belong has decided to implement a policy of full employment.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) complained that we have had no relief from high taxation, but the fact is that the Government has, commensurate with its obligations, reduced taxes to the minimum. As I said earlier, approximately 1,000,000 people enlisted in the armed forces of this country, and we owe a debt to them ; we are under an inescapable obligation to provide generously for their rehabilitation, and to ensure, as far as possible, that they enjoy continuity of employment. In addition, we must bear in mind the nation’s defence commitments, because the progress of science has annihilated distance, and we are not now living in the security of prewar isolation. The Government has determined to implement a policy of full employment, and it is determined that there shall be no repetition of the conditions of the ‘thirties, when antiLabour governments were in power. For that reason, the Government has been impelled to provide the finance necessary to secure full employment for the people. Social services legislation has been placed on the statute-book, and now there is legislative authority to care for the aged and sick, to pay a maternity allowance, and to grant sickness and unemployment benefits. Prior to the taking of a referendum in’ conjunction with the last general elections, the only social service authorized by the Constitution was the payment of old-age and invalid pensions, but the affirmative vote at the referendum gave constitutional authority for payments to expectant mothers, enlarged social services, free hospital treatment, widows’ pensions, and increased child endowment. All those social services, which were at least of doubtful validity prior to the result of the referendum being made known, now have the authority of the Constitution. Tinder that authority, the Labour Government has embarked on a social services programme which will guarantee a measure of social and economic security to the people of Australia.
As an ex-serviceman of World War I., I! commend the Government on the provision that it has made for ex-service personnel of World War II. The departments responsible for the rehabilitation of ex-service men and women, and their re-instatement in their pre-war occupations, have done a remarkably good job. That is acknowledged by the president of the Returned .Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, Mr. Eric Millhouse, K.C., who has said that the results achieved by the Australian Government in this connexion are superior to those of any other government. I shall give some figures- to show what has been done in this connexion. Agricultural loans to almost 7,000 exservicemen have been approved. Arrangements have been made for the training of men and women whose university and other educational courses were interrupted by the war, as well as those who wish to commence university courses, and already £4,500,000 has been expended on those activities. Loans amounting to £2,500,000 have- been advanced to exservicemen to enable them to conduct small businesses, and either full or parttime training has been found for nearly one-third of the total enlistments which, as I have said, numbered about 1,000,000. That record contrasts most favorably with what was done for exservice personnel after World War I. Honorable senators will recall that when war broke out in 1914 many promises were made to induce men to enlist. They were told that nothing was too good for the soldiers, but when the war was over little or nothing was done for them. The present Government has taken a realistic view of the needs of ex-service personnel; it is determined that, so far as is possible, they shall be recompensed for the services rendered to their country. The total expenditure incurred to date in the re-establishment and rehabilitation of ex-service men and women amounts to about £35,000,000. The people of Australia are not likely to forget their experiences during the depression year3, when men walked the roads and streets seeking work. Many, not finding it, were reduced to degradation and starvation, notwithstanding that all the things which they needed were available in abundance. Tens of thousands of Australians literally starved. The present Labour Government is determined that- the conditions which prevailed at that time shall not recur. It has decided on a policy of full employment, and will take steps to ensure a measure of social and economic security for all. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of dingoes. I suggest that in pre-war years, when anti-Labour governments ruled this country, the people of Australia were subjected to the dictation political “ dingoes “.
The honorable senator had the colossal effrontery to say that no relief from taxation had been granted to the people of Australia. I advise him to take a tour of the world.
– I am not a member of the Labour party.
– If the honorable senator were to go abroad he would learn that Australia emerged from the world conflict with a more stable economic structure than that of any other country. If he and his colleagues were to visit other countries they would return full of gratitude to Captain Cook for having discovered Australia, and to the Australian Labour party for having governed it so well during the war and in the postwar years. The Leader of the Opposition began his speech by endeavouring to draw an analogy between the directors of a company and the Australian Government. He said that the main concern of each should be the shareholders. It would appear that the honorable senator cannot get away from the obsession of antiLabour parties, whatever their name, that the most important thing in life is profits and dividends to shareholders. The Labour party is concerned for the welfare of every section of the community. We do well to recall the administration of anti-Labour governments, which have been in power in the Commonwealth for long periods. Unsolicited praise for the Australian Labour Government for what it has done since the war ended has come from no less a person than the general manager of the Goodyear Tyre Company in Canada, Mr. A. E. Cameron.
– Is he any relation to Mr. Archie Cameron?
– No, but I believe that he is in some way connected with Mr. R. G. Casey, who is sometimes styled the “ Bengal Tiger “. After a world tour, Mr. A. E. Cameron said that no country had emerged from the war with a more stable economy than that of Australia. It is not sufficient for us to have a sentimental interest in world affairs; we must face the facts as realists. The facts are that, since 1941, Australia has been controlled by a Labour Government, whereas previously anti-Labour parties were in power. The leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) has been described as the “ farmers’ futile fuhrer “. At one meeting which I addressed during the New South Wales election campaign, a person in the audience said that the Australian Labour party was controlled by metropolitan interests. I said to him, “What about the Australian Country party? Is not its leader, Mr Fadden, a public accountant in Queensland, and is it not true that his only connexion with the country is that he has milk on his weeties every morning ? “ Much the same could be said of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of
Representatives (Mr. Menzies) who, at various times, has spoken in violent terms of the present Government.
From October, 1941, to July,’ 1945, Australia was under the control of the Curtin Labour Government. Notwithstanding that that Government did not have a majority in either House of the Parliament, and that during its term of office Australia was in imminent danger of invasion, we came safely through the ordeal because of sound Labour administration. When the Curtin Government appealed to the people, in 1943, it was returned with an overwhelming majority. When the Government again went to the people in 1946, what was the result? It is shown in the composition of the Senate where we now have what we might term the “ three bears “ in Opposition. However, I emphasize that unless the people continue to entrust the Government of this country to the Labour party, we shall not achieve our aim of economic and social security for every section of the people for which the Labour party has fought for so many years. The aim of our party is to cater adequately for every section of the community. It is determined to bring about a more equitable distribution of the goods produced’ in this country. We realize that depressions are caused by artificial measures. During the last depression, we possessed the things needed to build the human frame of every individual according to nature’s specification. But what prevented us from doing so? It was simply financial policy. Unless Labour can continue to liberalize social services in respect of the aged, sick, infirm and unemployed, and help for those in need of assistance, we shall drift into another depression. Labour’s aim, briefly, is that there must be a more equitable distribution of goods and wealth among the people of Australia. We recognize the inalienable right of every individual to live a free and full life. In this respect, I have often told a story, behind which there is a good moral, and it will stand repeating. A boy, one of a very large and poor family, who used to go to church regularly, was found one Sunday crying bitterly. When the minister asked him, “Johnny, what is wrong with you to-day?”, the lad replied, “We have a new baby in our place “. Theminister said, “ You should not cry about that ; that is a happy event”. Johnny continued to cry, saying, “ Yes, that is all right, but we do not get enough to eat now, and with another in the family we will get less “. Thereupon, the minister said, “Do not cry about that; the Lord never sends a mouth into the world unless He also sends food for it to eat”. Johnny replied, “ That is all right ; but He sends the food to your place and the mouths to ours “. The moral behind that story is that the National Government must make adequate provision to meet the needs of all our people and that is the goal of the Labour movement.
This Government has made much greater provision for the welfare of exservice personnel of World War II. than was madebyanti-Labour governments for ex-service personnel of World War I. Over 4,000,000 acres have been approved for soldier land settlement under the Government’s post-war reconstruction scheme. It is approaching that problem in a realistic way, and is taking full advantage of the experience gained in this sphere in the past. We have learned many lessons through the failures of anti-Labour governments in that direction. Over 2,000,000 acres have actually been allotted, and over 500 holdings are now ready for occupation. The expenditure already incurred in the acquisition of land for the settlement of exservicemen exceeds £2,000,000, whilst, approximately, 7,000 applications for agricultural loans have been approved. Over £4,500,000 has been made available for training of university type for exservice personnel, whilst loans totalling over £2,500,000 have been advanced for the purpose of settingup ex-service men and women in small businesses. Those results are in vivid contrast to the treatment meted out by anti-Labour governments to ex-service personnel after World War I. The Australian people will not forget those facts. They remember that conditions following World War I. reduced ex-service personnel to degradation. Men who fought in defence of this country experienced soul-destroying poverty in those calamitous years. We should remember that, prior to the out break of World War II., this country had been under the control of anti-Labour governments for 25 years. During that period, although we had man-power materials and everything, except the requisite finance, in abundance, our people experienced acute shortages of many commodities and were not provided with sufficient homes. Many were obliged to suffer starvation, despair and misery. The fact is that only during the regime of Labour governments has any progress been made towards the goal of every human being, namely, social security.. This Government has eliminatedunemployment. Its policy is full employment, and it is determined to maintain thatpolicy. The facts set out in the budgetpapers now before us show that this Government places human welfare before dividends and profits. Policies of the kind pursued by anti-Labour governments in the past must, surely, have inspired the poet to write -
God! that bread should he so dear, And flesh and blood so cheap!
This Government is determined now that we have our feet on the ladder of progress to ensure that every human being in Australia shall enjoy economic and social security, and that this country shall march onward to greater and higher achievements. Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m. SenatorARMOUR. - I desire to make a personal explanation. I thank the Senate for this opportunity to reply to certain charges that have been made against me. As honorable senators are aware, I was elected as a delegate to the International Labour Conference held at Geneva. I was also requested by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to investigate the latest developments in radio broadcasting in Great Britain and the United States of America. The Geneva conference commenced on the 19th June, 1947, and ended on the 11th July. I attended the conference with the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), Mr. Funnell, Mr. Halligan, Mr. King and Mr. O’Brien, and was present at every session. A report on the conference has been handed to the Prime Minister, and when it is brought before the Senate I shall have something more tosay about it.
The first mention of the San Francisco episode was made by a man named Brown who is a member of .the Liberal party executive and was an Independent Liberal candidate at the last New South Wales elections. Mr. Deamer, the “ eighth column” expert, shoots- at everybody except Mr. Deamer. He accepted Liberal party advertisements for the A.B.O. Weekly when he was editor of that publication. He and a man named McCall prepared an agreement between the Australian Newspapers Proprietors Association and the Australian Broadcasting Commission which was not accepted. Following veiled suggestions in the press written by certain journalist sadists who are employed to write special columns, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), under cover of parliamentary privilege, made definite statements for which he had not an atom of proof. That was not the first occasion on which that honorable member had, in this cowardly fashion,- attacked reputable citizens. Honorable senators will recall that some time ago he produced in Parliament a list of names of about 30 people living in the Katoomba district, and described them as Communists and Communist sympathizers. His aim was to damage the reputation and injure the membership of the Katoomba branch of the Australian Labour party. It will be remembered, further, that the honorable member was publicly challenged by a number of the people whom he named in the course of his attack to say outside of Parliament what he had said under the cover of parliamentary privilege. The honorable member again sheltered behind the same protection to make an attack upon me. He claimed that he was informed by a mysterious unnamed person who allegedly was a passenger on a certain aircraft. I again challenge the honorable member to say outside of Parliament what he said under cover of parliamentary privilege. This would give him an opportunity to produce his mysterious witness or to face the consequences of his slanders. The honorable member was, and probably still is, closely associated with an organization known as the “ Institute of Public Affairs “. The mission of this organization seems to be the collecting of dossiers on indi- viduals and associations with the object of publicly damaging their reputations. Such organizations are not unknown in other parts of the world where they have been associated with all kinds of blackmailing, browbeating, political pressure groups. Apparently their agent in the Commonwealth Parliament is the honorable member for New England, who shelters in the coward’s castle of parliamentary privilege while slandering public men and private citizens. The best evidence that the honorable member had little faith in the accuracy of his accusations is to be found in the fact that he concluded his foul charges against me by saying, “ If it is not true, I shall withdraw and apologize “.
On Tuesday the 15th July, 1947, J went to the offices of the British Broadcasting Corporation and had a discussion with Lord Simon and Sir William Haley on broadcasting generally. I suggested that the British Broadcasting Corporation might include in the British home service some Australian news in the same manne] as British Broadcasting Corporation news is included in the Australian Broadcasting Commission bulletins. I was informed that consideration would be given to the request, and that it was hoped that a way would be found to broadcast Australian news to help Australia. Arrangements were made for me to inspect the British Broadcasting Corporation’s research stations at Clapham and Alexander Palace on the 23rd July. I arrived at Belfast on the 18th July, and from there I went to Dublin, Eire, on the 19th July, leaving again on the 22nd July. On the 23rd July, I inspected the research department of the British Broadcasting Corporation at Clapham. I was shown over the whole institution and had everything explained to me by Mr. Kirk. L:i the afternoon I was taken by oar to Alexander Palace to inspect the television studio. I saw a programme being arranged in the studio and watched the scenes being broadcast. It was my first experience of a television programme. The ramifications of television may be likened to those of a great film studio. Mr. Gorham was very kind to me and introduced me to the heads of the various sections of the studio. Here, I should like to tell honorable senators something about London. London was bombed much worse than most of us imagine, and certainly more than was indicated in the news that was published and broadcast at the time. It is sad indeed to see the devastation in London, and to realize that the people of Britain are really short of food. This applies particularly to city residents. People who live in the country have their own backyard gardens and poultry runs. In this way, they can augment the meagre ration, but tie unfortunate city-dwellers have to do without these little extras. Australia’s effort during the war was greatly appreciated, and there is general appreciation of what Australia is doing now. The British people know that the Australian Government would be willing to send greater supplies of food if the necessary ships were available.
On the 25th July, I left London for America on the Queen Elizabeth. I arrived in New York on the 30th July. I was nine days in New York and eight days were devoted to my investigation of frequency modulation and television. I visited the Princeton laboratory of the National Broadcasting Corporation and the Hutley laboratory controlled by International Telegraph and Telephone Company. I met all the directors of the National Broadcasting Corporation, at the invitation of Mr. Fred Bate, manager of the International Division of the National Broadcasting Corporation. “With Mr. Calwell, I met all the heads of the various departments of the International Telegraph and Telephone Company, of which Mr. Calwell is chairman. I went to Philco Radio and had an interesting talk with Mr. Dempster Mcintosh. T. went to the Columbia Broadcasting Company’s establishment and saw the latest developments in colour television. I was helped in all these matters by Mr. Kellway, the Australian Consul in New York, and Mr. Dunbabin, of the Department of Information. In addition, I inspected some of New York’s engineering feats. I tried to make myself conversant with all matters that I thought might, in turn, be of value to Australia. I went to “Washington and saw the Australian Ambassador, Mr. Makin, who is doing an excellent job on behalf of A ustralia. “While in “Washington I had a look through the United States Senate and had lunch in the Senate dining-room. The Senate was not in session, but I was able to meet one senator - Senator Donnell. He had a great opinion of Australia and Australians. He had met many Australians, and he asked me to remember him to Senator Collings. “When in Washington, I met Mr. Paul Walker, vicepresident of the Federal Communications Commission. The president, Mr. Denny, was unable to meet me because of work on which he was engaged for the international conference then being held in America. I left New York on the 8th August, 1947, for Vancouver. As the train arrived at Ottawa in the morning and left at night, I took the opportunity of calling on the Australian High Commissioner in Canada, Mr. Forde, who, like Mr. Makin, is doing an excellent job for Australia. Luncheon had been arranged by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and there I met Mr. Donald Manson, the assistant general manager of the corporation, and the heads of the various departments. On Wednesday, the 13th August, I arrived in Vancouver. I was met by Mr. John Anderson, who was very kind to me, and made his car available to me.
On the 14th August, I left Vancouver by air. When I joined the aircraft at San Francisco at 10 p.m. on the 14th August, I struck a match to light a cigarette. I did the same thing on one occasion in this chamber, just through want of thought. Passengers, of course, are not permitted to smoke while an aircraft is on the ground or taking off. A passenger who joined the plane at San Francisco, apparently became very excited and told me to put the light out. I said, “ Do not get excited old man “, and he charged at me. I put my arm up and pushed him back, as any other Australian would do. The captain of the aircraft told me he would not take me on, although I first explained to him that I had sent cables saying I would be arriving home by that aircraft. He still refused to take me on and put my luggage off. A Sydney business man who knew mc watched these proceedings. He had come out to see a passenger off on the plane, and he asked me to go and stay with him. No policeman interfered in any way. Without any difficulty or argument, I was told to join the next plane, which left San Francisco on .Sunday, the 17th August, 1947, and I arrived home at. 9 a.m. on the 21st August, 1947. After the doctor had inspected the passengers, I stepped off the plane. There were ten photographers and a greater number of pressmen waiting to photograph and interview me. Only one of these journalists - and he represented a radio electrical weekly - asked me anything regarding my mission overseas. All the others, representing the daily newspapers, were on a “ filth “ campaign. They did not want to know anything regarding the International Labour Organization conference or my investigation into broadcasting. As one ordinary citizen said to my wife and myself, “If I stepped off an aeroplane at San Francisco, and was delayed for three days, the only person in the world who should be concerned about it is my wife”. I kept a diary of my movements from the day I left Sydney until I returned to Australia. I was very careful to ensure that, when I spoke to any person, I obtained a card from him. If he did not have a card, I asked him to write down his name and address and hi3 occupation on a piece of paper, which I kept. The name of every person whom I met is contained in my diary. It was fortunate that I did so, because the honorable member for Warringah in the House of Representatives (Mr. Spender) wrote to me and said, amongst other things -
Perhaps if we paid more regard in our conduct as parliamentarians to keeping the truth, we would have at least much greater justification than presently we possess, in pointing the bone at somebody else.
The honorable member for Warringah, who is a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Broadcasting, also travelled overseas recently. I made inquiries about him of all broadcasting authorities with which I came in contact. He apparently could not spare even a few moments for the purpose of making himself conversant with radio improvements. On the 1st October, 1947, he spoke in the House of Representatives and produced a copy of the Clare Champion, of Saturday, the 2nd August, 1947, wherein he claimed there was a report of a great speech by “ Senator
If Amour “. At no time have I ever been ashamed of my name. I have not had to add to my name “Lieutenant-Colonel” or “ Sir Percival “. This gentleman, despite what he had written to me, quoted this “phoney” newspaper story and, when he was unable to finish reading it, handed it .to the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) - another friend of Labour men - who completed the story. Both of these men attributed the statements in the article to me. I am unable to find in my diary, or among the cards or pieces of paper which I have mentioned, the name of Sean O’Hagain The only press conference that I attended was in London on the 12th June, 1947, at 5 p.m. at Australia House. I attended in company with the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), and the only matter that I spoke about then was broadcasting. At no other time did I speak to a press man or give interviews to any press men, and on the 2nd August I was in America, having arrived there on the 30th July.
I am sorry to say that the editor of the Australian Broadcasting Commission News Service, Mr. Cotton, complained bitterly to the commission and wanted action taken against the person responsible for failure to send the story about me which was published in the newspapers to the commission. My information on this point was obtained from a paragraph in a column headed “ Talkabout “ in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph, of the 2Sth September. The paragraph stated -
Coincidence: The independent news service of the Australian Broadcasting Commission made no mention of Joe Abbott’s attack on Senator Amour in its independent news broadcast on Wednesday night.
Senator Amour is a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee (“The Standover Committee “ ) on broadcasting.
Australia’s name is held in high esteem in the United States of America. Everywhere I went in that country I could feel the breath of welcome. We owe this feeling towards Australians to the way in which we looked after American soldiers during the war and to the very valuable work that has been done on behalf of this country by the Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt).
Finally, I desire to “thank Mrs. Driver, wife of the Administrator -of the Northern Territory, and Mr. Leydon official secretary to the Administrator; Mr. B. <0, Ballard, Australian Trade Commissioner at Sourabaya ; Mr. Claude Massey, Australian Commissioner for Malaya; Mr. J. Payne, Commercial Counsellor, who met me at Singapore; Sir Hubert Ranee, Governor-General of Burma, whose aide-de-camp met me at Rangoon; Mr. A. E. V. Vincent, Trade Commissioner at Calcutta; Mr. Davis, British representative at Basra; Mr. Jack Breen, Trade Commissioner for the Middle East, whom I met at Cairo ; Mr. Albanese, British ‘Consul at Palermo, whom I met at Augusta; and Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Beasley and Mr. Tom Dunbabin, whom I met in London. I have received letters from persons in Egypt, Africa, India, France and Belgium, whom I met during my tour, from Mr. Kell way, Australian Consul in New York, from many officials of the British Broadcasting ‘Corporation, representatives of the International Standard Electrical Corporation and the International Standard Telephone Company, from Sir Louis Bell and from representatives of the Philco radio organization. A member of the Egyptian Government has stated in a letter to me - .
I am looking forward to seeing you next year in San Francisco, where the 31st session of the conference will be held.
A delegate of the French Government wrote this to me -
It has been a -real pleasure for me ‘to meet you at the International Labour Office Conference.
Mr. Calwell, of the International Standard Electric Corporation, wrote to me -
On your next visit to America we shall again be delighted to see you.
I could quote many excerpts from other letters in similar vein. I have kept a record of the names and addresses of all the people whom I met, I have written to them and tried to do my ‘best on behalf of Australia. I did. not go abroad to behave like a larrikin. I was good enough to go to the war in 1914-18 and I returned to (his country suffering from wounds which have affected my health ever since. For the honorable member for New England to rise’ in the
House of Representatives and say that I should never ‘ be allowed to go overseas again was an insult to the intelligence of the people who elected me to this Parliament. I challenge him to repeat outside of this Parliament what he has said in the House of Representatives. I also challenge the newspapers, if they wish to be fair in this matter, to make an investigation of the standards of conduct that I maintain. I have written to the people whom I have mentioned, because I believe that it is in the interests of Australia that I, as a representative of the nation, should keep in contact with them. They have been very kind to me. People in America have sent one copies of the latest technical journals containing information about frequency modulation and television which will be valuable to this country. They have promised to send to me any matter that I might request from them. “Would these people write to me or wish me to make a special trip hack to their country if I had conducted myself as the honorable member for New England and the honorable member for “Warringah have said that I did? I thank the Senate for the opportunity that it has given me to make these statements. I say to honorable senators and to the people of Australia that I . have done -nothing of which this Senate, the great Australian Labour Government, or the great Australian people need ever be ashamed.
– In addressing myself to the Estimates and Budget Papers, I wish to say first of all how well the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) and his Government have succeeded in the <task of setting this country on the right track to national development. This Government is making Australia a land fit for the .people who fought for it and who were promised that it would be made a prosperous and happy home for them. It is making Australia an aggressive and virile nation. The budget gives a solid indication of the policy that will be pursued by the Government and of the degree of progress that this young
Country can make under such administration. The figures contained in the Estimates show that each department and service of the Commonwealth will be provided with sufficient funds and with a mandate to carry out such jobs as have been allotted to them. In endeavouring to lay permanent foundations for the future development of Australia in a basically sound way, we must bear in mind that this is a relatively young country. The people of Australia have never been given a proper opportunity to develop and use this continent’s natural resources. For too long Australia has suffered from an inferiority complex, because the people who formerly held the reins of government were not progressive and lacked foresight. It is a great tribute to the Treasurer that he had altered the policy that has been followed for so long
The Government has many difficult problems to solve. Some of them present, immense difficulties. It has had to cope with the multifarious difficulties associated with the period of transition from war to peace. It has had to accomplish orderly demobilization of the armed forces and bring discharged servicemen back to peace-time occupations without disrupting the national economy and without causing personal suffering. That, in itself, has been a tremendous task, and its performance ha9 prevented the Government from proceeding at once with some of the great constructive projects that it has in mind. However, the mere fact that these people have been returned
I, 0 productive work under a policy of full employment has laid the foundation upon which we can build our post-war economic structure in safety. People frequently ask this question: “Will the cycle that followed World War I. be repeated? Shall we have the ever-present fear that after ‘.he boom will come the slump, and t at with the slump will come unemployment, waste and poverty amidst plenty ? “ Only when we have courage, foresight, and a cause that is just, can we successfully embark on a policy that will assure to nil decent people who work with their hands and brains at least the means of earning a livelihood and having sufficient food, clothing and shelter - a right which every citizen of a country such as this should inherit. In these recurring cycles war follows economic crisis as sure as night f ollows day ; but the preparations which this Government is making to avert, or to minimize, the threatened crisis should assure us that we are following a path which will not only prevent war but will induce other nations to follow our example. It i3 only when an example is given that others can be induced to adopt a theory. Therefore, I believe that Australia must appear to the peoples of other nations as a beacon light of sanity in a time of confusion. Because of the very nature of the Government’s policy, it is necessary that we should challenge many established practices and privileges and seek new procedures. We must look critically at the reason for existing traditions and privileges, because we know that many of them cannot be allowed to continue as was the case when inequality was the cause of so mush misery.
Australia is a primary -“producing country, but it must be confessed that, in the past our farmers have been obliged to eke out a very meagre existence. Although they have done so much for this country, they have had to endure all kinds of privations, and in the past many of them have been unable even to maintain in repair their dwellings and fences. In the depression of a few years ago great numbers of them were obliged to beg for financial assistance. Bearing those things in mind, this Government is determined to ensure that primary producers receive prices for their products which will provide them with a just return for their labours.
It is easy to offer criticism, particularly of governments, and this afternoon I heard the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) criticize the Government. Although he made certain suggestions in good faith, I think that most of his criticism was purely destructive. Such criticism is of no value. Wha t is required, and even appreciated by a government, is constructive criticism. Helpful criticism is part of the assistance which a government is entitled to expect in confronting the task which lies ahead of it. That task is a gigantic one, particularly when we consider the changes of material values, and even of the way of life which we have witnessed in the last few years. We have seen proud nations reduced to the lowest standards, and independent peoples reduced to the greatest privation. Tie causes of those happenings must be analysed and appreciated so that we can guard against a repetition of our former errors. As members of a country which was relatively undamaged by the war, we have an obligation and a responsibility which is all the greater to assist the unfortunate peoples of other lands. We must be charitable towards the peoples who were foolish enough to be led astray by the dictators who attempted to subjugate the nations of the earth. The unfortunate followers of those evildoers have been dragged into the depths of misery and degradation, and we must play our part in re-educating and rehabilitating them. To that end we must be prepared to plan for the future and to implement immediately a positive policy for the development of our national resources. In that policy considerations >f social security must play a big part. That is only right because the workers of this country, both manual and mental, who contribute so much to the national income, are entitled, at least, to social security. They are entitled to a fair share of the prosperity induced by the application of science to industry and the development of co-operative movements. They are entitled, too, to fulfilment of the promises made to mankind in the “ Four Freedoms “ contained in the Atlantic Charter, not the least of which is “ Freedom from want “.
As part of its policy of social service, the Government has embarked on a vigorous programme to improve the national health. Such a step is a revolutionary one in the annals of government. It means that in future no Australian who has the misfortune to become incapacitated through sickness or disease shall be destitute. That is a fine achievement on the part of this Government, and I commend the energy with which it is implementing its policy in this regard. One aspect of that policy which appears to me to deserve special mention is the prevention of tuberculosis. Every citizen of Australia has a responsibility to assist in the suppression of this dread disease, and he can best do so by exhorting suspected sufferers to consult the tuberculosis clinics available to them.
Among the many valuable lessons learned during the war, we realized that when man-power and machinery are concentrated on the achievement of greater production that effort inevitably results in production of an abundance. As a nation, and as a member of a commonwealth of nations, we should apply that lesson now in time of peace; if we do not we shall be the losers. The people of Australia, and particularly the servicemen of World War I., who have witnessed two world calamities, have been assured that every effort will be made to fulfil this nation’s destiny. This country has been blessed with an abundance of the things so sorely needed by mankind to-day. That being so, we must not wait until the difficulties of the future come upon us; we must anticipate those difficulties so that we shall be prepared for them when they arise. In conjunction with the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations we must prepare a progressive plan and be ready to implement it. We must endeavour to see our path clearly, and we must never lose sight of the splendid vision of our destiny. Australia’s destiny envisages the establishment, the complete establishment, of the rights of man, including equality of opportunity for all, and the equitable distribution of wealth. It also envisages the banishment of disease and suffering, and the3e are the hopes which men cherish in this country to-day.
In conclusion, I thank the people of Tasmania for the expression of their confidence in me, and assure them that I shall endeavour at all times to carry out my duty in accordance with the high tradition of the Senate.
Senator MURRAY (Tasmania) [8.39’J. - It is with feelings of pride and true humility that I rise to make my first speech in this honorable Senate. I am proud to be associated with the members of this chamber and with the Labour Government which is striving so hard to promote the well-being of the people of this country. In reviewing the magnitude of the task of governing this country it is fitting that I should pay a tribute to the achievements of the Australian people, their loyalty to the Mother Country, and to the steadfastness and vision of the pioneers. We do not forget thesufferings, the strugglesand the sacrifices ofour forefathers, who won for us the status of nationhood and the respect of all peace-loving peoples. I also wish to pay tribute to the achievements of membersof this Parliament, bothpast and present, who have done so much to enhance the status and dignity of the National Parliament. In all humility, my mind records the great achievements and personal qualitiesof themembers, both past and present, who have served the Commonwealth Parliament, and I trust that I shall be granted health and wisdom to complete my political apprenticeship with diligence so that I, too, shall be able to make a worthwhile contribution to the government of this country and the security , peace, prosperity and happiness of its people. I express my sincere thanks to theLabour movement of Tasmania for having endorsed my candidature and to the people who elected me to this chamber. I hope to convey my gratitude to them in a tangible form by carrying out my duties to their satisfaction and for the good of Australia.
The budget is an accounting by the Government to the people for the responsibilities entrusted to it during the year that has passed and the presenting of its programme for the current financial year. Iamfully aware of the duties and responsibilities devolving upon every member of theNational Parliament. I believe in the basic precept that, in order to maintain the rule of Parliament and of law, there must be respect for the Parliament and obedience to the laws of the land. I practise and preach this obedience, since justice is the moral signification of law and injustice denotes the absence of law. The same precept applies in every branch of our existence, whetheras individuals or as a nation. A respect for law and order entails acceptance of certain directions and restrictions of our liberties in the interests of the community as a whole. In short, it should be the object of good government to strike a balance between the freedom of thought and action which we need as individuals and the discipline and control that we must have if we are to provide a properly organized and happy society.
The budget provides for the expenditure of £120,000,000 on post-war charges in 1947-48, and it is pleasing to notethat £39,000,000 of that amount will be expended on there-establishment and repatriation of ex-servicemen and woman. That represents an increase of £10,000,000 over the expenditure for the previous financial year. It is fitting that we should pay a tributeto themen and womenofour fighting services whose effortsand sacrifices have made it possible forus to be here to-day. Wemust not forget our responsibilities and obligationsto them, a responsibility thatrests not only on the Government, but also on the wholecommunity. Many people inthe communitywould throw the wholeresponsibilityon the Government, but they should realize that they have a part to play.I know of many instances of persons in private enterprisenot playing. the game in respectof there-establish- ment of former employeeswho served with the fighting forces. Our gratitude is due also to those on the homefront. In quality and sustained output, their war effort was notequalled in any other country.
We have been told by many people that Australia cannot produce goods, or deliver them. I am a comparatively young man who has travelled fairly extensively, and I have seen what Australians can do. I am convinced thatAustralia can produce goods of the highest quality which will astonish the rest of the world when we havereached full production.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 October 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1947/19471016_senate_18_193/>.