18th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hob Gordon Brown) took the chair at 8 p.m. and read prayers.
– Can the Minister for Supply and Development give ai undertaking that in respect of the aluminium industry now being established ox the hanks of the river Tamar in northern Tasmania, no agreement will be entered into with any interests which may result in .the industry being lost to Tasmania t What stage has been reached in the layout and construction of the plant?
– I assure th, honorable senator that no arrangement will be entered into that will in any war influence the Government’s decision to establish the aluminium industry on the banks of the river Tamar. A great deal of preparatory work has been done in connexion with that undertaking. At the outset, it was realized that it could not produce ingot aluminium until 1952, and, at this stage, the work is proceeding according to schedule. A great deal of early developmental work has been completed. Work has been commenced on the supply of electric power to the site, and contracts have been entered into overseas for the purchase of machinery and equipment needed for the industry. 1 assure the honorable senator that the in-“ dustry will be producing aluminium according to its original schedule.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs seen a news item published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of last Monday which stated that Great Britain was to ask the Dominions to pledge full military support to the Western Union in any war against Russia? If he ha; “seen that report, will he inform the Senate whether there is to be any departure from the policy .of reliance on the principles of the United Nations organisation? If any guarantee is contemplated, will the Government ensure that any military assistance it may provide will not he used for aggressive purposes? Will the Government consult with the Parliament before entering into any military alliance?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable senator has referred. It appears to me to be a good deal like the press speculation which generally precedes international conferences of importance and does a very great deal of harm. The Senate can rest assured that Australia as a subscriber to the United Nations Charter will observe its obligations under the Charter. Australia is a very strong upholder of the principles which inspired the setting up of. the United Nations organization, and, therefore, will not be actively interested in any aggressive act at all. If I have missed any point raised by the honorable senator, I shall refer it to the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs for a full reply, which I shall make available to the honorable senator in due course.
– Has the attention of the Acting Attorney-General been drawn to the provisions of the Profiteering Prevention Act recently passed by the Queensland State Parliament? Some of the provisions of that act purport to make it an offence for any one to fix prices at which any article can be sold. Such provisions are stated to be in direct conflict with the Commonwealth Patents Act, which permits a patentee to fix the conditions under which the product of his patent may be sold. Will the Acting Attorney-General make it clear that patent rights are still protected under Commonwealth law despite this State legislation ?
– My attention has not been directed to the Queensland Profiteering Prevention Act, which I understood the honorable senator to say has been passed only recently. Accordingly, I am not in a position to say whether that measure impinges upon any provisions of the Commonwealth Patents
Act. The honorable senator will know that in fields appropriate to the Commonwealth, if there be any conflict between a Commonwealth law and the law of a State, the Commonwealth law shall prevail. I am certainly not in a position to express an opinion upon the effects of an act which I have not seen or studied, but I shall be pleased to examine the matter and make available a detailed reply to the honorable senator.
– On the 6th October, Senator Critchley asked me th,following questions: -
The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
– In view of the proposed introduction of television to Australia in the near future, will the Postmaster-General make inquiries about si new transmission development in Hollywood, United States of America, ailed “phono-vision”? Ls the Minister aware that .it is claimed that this invention will enable a person to pick up a telephone and dial in on a movie which will be transmitted, with sound, 10 a special 4-in. by 5-in. screen over ordinary telephone wires, and thus enjoy h fireside film in his own home?
– I have heard something of experiments being made ulong those lines, but I do not know whether they have been successful. I assure the honorable senator that the Postal Department has up-to-date information about all such developments ;ind I shall obtain a full reply to his questions as soon as possible.
– Is it a fact that, when recently approached by a representative of Smith’s Weekly, the Minister for .Shipping and Fuel waa unable to give an estimate of monthly fuel consumption by government departments? Will the Minister have inquiries made find inform the Senate of the number of motor vehicles at present operated by the Commonwealth Government and of their monthly petrol consumption? Is the Minister aware that a select committee of the United Kingdom House of Commons recently investigated the use of petrol by government departments? Is he aware that that committee recommended that government departments should be treated exactly like other sections of the community for petrol rationing and should share cuts or increases with them? In view of the hardships experienced by many sections “f the community, particularly country dwellers and primary producers, will the Minister discuss with the Prime Minister the setting up of some authority to make an inquiry similar to that in Great Britain with a view to ensuring a- more equitable distribution of available petrol supplies?
– The honorable senator’s questions are rather detailed, and I am sure that he does not expect me to answer them offhand. A representative of Smith’s Weekly did call on me at my office in Sydney and ask me about the petrol consumption of ministerial cars. Just as I am now, I was not then in a position to reply offhand. I do not think that I am obliged at any time to leave my duties in order to obtain information of that character for the press. I suggest in all seriousness that, if newspapers want information of that sort in future, they should write to me. I am prepared to supply them with any information that they are entitled to receive if I am approached in the proper manner, not by a representative walking into my office and asking me for this or that information offhand. I never supply to the press any information which I do not know to be correct, and therefore, I am not prepared at any time to make an offhand statement. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will place his questions on the notice-paper. I shall obtain the information which hf desires.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, whom I welcome back to the Senate after his illness. I hope that he has fully recovered good health, and I am sure that I express the feeling of all honorable senators in doing so. I understand that the Department of Commerce and Agriculture has carried out experiments with the growing and treating of ramie and that the experiments have reached a stage at which they are of some practical use to the textile industry. Can the Minister supply the Senate with any information about those experiments?
– I thank the honorable senator for his welcome. I am very pleased to be back in the Senate. I shall refer his question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and obtain an answer as soon as possible.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware of the absurd sugar situation in Tasmania. where people are worse off now than they were during the war under sugar rationing? Will he inform the Senate why unrefined sugar is sold at the same price as refined sugar, when procurable? In view of the approach of the fruit -season, can larger supplies of sugar be forwarded to Tasmania in order to create :i reserve? Is it a fact that exservicemen in Queensland who wished to extend their sugar plantations were allowed inly a 3 per cent, increase? Does the Minister consider that an increase of the sugar crop would relieve the sugar situation as soon as the other adverse factors, such as the labour shortage and (hipping and rail difficulties, are overcome ?
– Replying first t,o the honorable senator’s last question, I have to state that greater production of sugar in this country would not result in improved supplies to the Australian people. It is expected that, of the present crop, approximately 300,000 or 400,000 tons will be exported. The production of sugar is quite adequate to meet all requirements, but, for various reasons, including transport difficulties, it has not been possible to maintain regular supplies to all parts A the Commonwealth. Since . the war, the production of refined sugar has increased by 100,000 tons a year. The sugar industry is doing everything possible to meet the needs of the Australian people. The real difficulty is in distribution. I remind, the honorable senator that the people of Queeusland have at times been unable to buy ‘potatoes which are grown in Tasmania. Once again, transport difficulties were responsible. I can assure the honorable senator that the Government’ is doing everything possible to improve sugar supplies. The manufacture, refining and distribution of sugar i.i in the hands of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited. I have been in touch with that organization on numerous occasions, and have been informed that it is doing everything possible to ensure regular supplies to the Australian people. Last year, during the fruit processing season I was able to arrange with the Navy for a naval vessel to transport to Victoria a quantity of sugar which was diverted from Sydney. Un- fortunately, this caused a depletion of stocks in New South Wales, and then some industrial difficulties arose in thai State, with the result that the people of Sydney were short of sugar. I repeat that the problem is largely one of transport, particularly shipping, and all I can say is that the Government is doin: everything possible in the circumstances. One is prompted at times to suggest ;i remedy, and I say that there is a nee<l in this country for people associated with the transport industries, including the wharf labourers, to pull their weight in an endeavour to improve transport services. Like other shortages the sugar shortage in some parts of the Commonwealth is tied up with certain other problems that are besetting this country, but I repeat that increased production of sugar would not solve the distribution problem which to-day is preventing people in some areas from obtaining regular supplies.
– Could ti.. Minister approach the Navy with a view to retaining the services of the vessel which, he said, was used to transport sugar from Sydney to Melbourne, with :> view to carrying more refined sugar from the factories in Queensland to South Australia so that supplies in that State will be ample for the processing of the coming fruit crop?
– I shall certainly do my best to ensure that the fruit processing industry in South Australia shall have adequate supplies of sugar. I point, out, however, that the sugar refining capacity of South Australia ialmost as great as that of Queensland.
– But we cannot get coal.
– As I said te Senator O’Byrne, the supply of raw sugar is ample. Refining has been hampered for various reasons, and the demand f0 refined sugar in this country has increased greatly during the past year or two. I am sure that the Minister foi Shipping and Fuel is working hard to ease our transport difficulties, and to ensure that the shipping available on outcoast shall be used wisely. If there i.any way in which the Government can assist to make regular supplies of sugar available throughout the Commonwealth, it will be prepared to take whatever action is necessary.
– Can the Minister for Social Services indicate when the increased pensions will be available to the people of Australia?
– According to the bill now before the House of Representatives, the increases will operate from the first pay day after the date on which the measure becomes law. Therefore, at present it is not possible for anybody to say exactly what that date will be. How soon the bill is presented to the Senate depends upon the House of Representatives, and, of course, the commencement of the increased pensions will depend upon the speed with which the measure passes through this chamber.
– We shall, not delay the payments.
– I look forward to the co-operation of the Opposition in the speedy passage of the bill. If that co-operation is forthcoming, and the bill reaches the Senate during the present week, I believe that the first increased payments could be made on the 21st October.
– In view of the fantastic price of meat, which has reached 2s. 6d. a lb. in Tasmania, and of fish - fillet of whiting is 5s. a lb., while flounder, trumpeter and garfish are unprocurable - will the Minister for Trade and Customs investigate the possibility of importing meat and fish from New Zealand so that working people may buy those commodities which to-day are beyond their means?
– I shall investigate the honorable senator’s proposal, but T am not hopeful that what he has suggested will be possible .because, at present, we are exporting large quantities of meat to Great Britain. I do not know that it would be very good business to import meat from New Zealand. The honorable senator, like others on this side of the chamber, indicated to the people the possibility of increased prices for commodi ties unless the Government were given power to protect the people in that respect. Due to the result of the prices referendum held earlier thi? year the Government has not noi* that power. During the period when the Government had the power to control prices, it caused meat to be carried to Tasmania by air to augment the supply in that State and so keep prices down to a level which the Government considered was reasonable. I shall further examine the matter raised by the honorable senator.
– Has th» attention of the Minister for Shipping and Fuel been drawn to a resolution carried at a meeting of the national convention of the miners’ federation on the 24th August last to the effect that operation of open-cut coal mines in Australia shall be restricted or closed down in the event of production exceeding demand, and has he any comment to offer regarding the effect that that resolution might have on Australian industry generally?
– I have read a paragraph in the press referring to that matter, but I have not paid any more attention- to it than I do to many similar paragraphs which appear in the press because they are so often incorrect. I have had no intimation from the miners’ federation or any other reliable authority that the statement if correct and I do not propose to take any action until I have such an authoritative statement.
– Some time ago, 1 directed a question to the Minister for Shipping and Fuel regarding the part played by the water brigades at Grafton and Lismore during the recent floods on the north coast of New South Wales. On that occasion, I asked him if the Commonwealth, in conjunction with the State of New South Wales, would make a grant of money to these brigades and whether he would refer the matter to the Premier of New South Wales. Can the Minister now inform me whether he has received a reply from the Premier of New South Wales?
– 1 have not yet rf>ceived a reply. I shall again communicate with the Premier of New South Wales and shall inform the honorable senator of his reply when it is received.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers : -
Commonwealth territories are available from the departments concerned. It is not possible to accurately compute the effects of soil conservation measures which have so far been taken but it is pertinent to note that in practically all States the conservation authorities are more than fully occupied in tender ing advice and supervising soil conservation work. Practical results can be seen in the sand-drift areas of the Australian -mallee, where the use of soil-binding plants, notably rye corn, together with carefully planned crop rotations, is leading to the reclamation of these soils. Similarly the area of crop ping grazing land, being farmed on conserve tion principles, such as the use of contour cultivation, preservation of stubble, &c., if constantly growing, and in this way consider able success is being obtained in arresting the ravages of soil erosion.
asked the Miniate i representing the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
– The Minister for Works and Housing has supplied the following answers: -
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Egg Export Control Act - First Annualreport of the Australian Egg Board for period ended 30th June, 1948, together with statement by Minister regarding the operation of the act.
The report summarizes the powers and functions of the board, and details its activities during that period. I take the opportunity to congratulate all members on their appointment, and to wish the board the utmost success in its future activities.
– I lay on the table the following papers: -
Reports, with maps, by the commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing into electoral divisions the following States: -
Ordered to be printed.
Bill received from the House ofRepre- sentatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Ashley) pro posed -
That the bill he now read a first time.
– I desire to take advantage of the introduction of this measure to say something concerning the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department in order to explain them to members of the public who are constantly inquiring about the department’s accounts, and particularly for the benefit of critics of the Government in the House ofRepresentatives, who make all sorts of allegations without knowingthe facts. I was astounded at the reports in Hansard of some of the statements made by members of the Opposition inthe House ofRepresentatives.
The estimated receipts of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department during 1948-49 are £32,800,000, which is £1,410,346 more than the actual earning.in 1947-48 which were £31,389,654.
The estimated expenditure on Post Office works and services, including capita] works, is £46,278,000, an increase of £5,886,906 on the expenditure of £40,391,094 in 1947-48. The estimated total expenditure is £13,478,000 in excess of the estimated receipts. The expenditure of the Post Office is divided into two main groups - ordinary services and new capital works and services.
On ordinary services, the estimated expenditure is £35,728,000, compared with £32,171,144 in 1947-48, and represents an increase of £3,556,856. Of the total expenditure on ordinary services. £31,276,000 is under the control of the department and covers the day-to-day operations. The remaining £4,452,000 covers pensions and superannuation, interest on sinking funds, exchange on New York and London payments, rent and maintenance of buildings and the audit of accounts.
The main reasons for the increased expenditure during 1948-49 under ordinary services are - (i) The employment of additional staff to cope with the increased volume of business; (ii) cost-of-living adjustments; (iii) arbitration awards which provide for marginal increases of salaries and higher salaries in some instances ; (iv) the application of the 40- hour week to certain employees; (v) increased payments to non-official postmasters; (vi) additional equipment and stores to meet the needs of an expanding service; (vii) increased costs of materials; (viii) new and improved services to the public, including mail services in country districts, house-to-house letter delivery facilities and letter receivers; (ix) maintenance of additional assets and increased payments to the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
On new capital works and services, the t;sti mated expenditure during 1948-49 is £10,550,000, compared with £S,219,950 in .1947-4S, or an increase of £2,330,050. The amount of £10,550,000 is made up as follows: - New telephone and telegraph works, £9,150,000; new post office buildings, £1,000,000; and acquisition of sites and properties, £400,000. The estimated expenditure of £9,150,000 on new telephone and telegraph works is £1,795,853 more than the amount of £7,354,147 expended in 1947-4S, and this forms part of the sum of £42,000,000 which has been authorized by the Government in respect of a special rehabilitation programme covering the three financial years 1947-4S, 1948-49 and 1949-50. Estimated expenditure of £1,000,000 for post office buildings is £229,593 more rhan the record sum of £770,407 expended by the Department of Works and Rousing on behalf of the Postal Department in 1947-4S. The amount of t’400,000 included in the Estimates for lie acquisition of sites and properties for postal and telecommunication purposes is high compared with the sum of £95,396 expended for this purpose in 1947-4S. Many new buildings are required, however, by the Postal Department, including premises in the capital cities and other large centres, and it will be necessary to acquire sites well beforehand for these structures. Already action has been initiated to acquire a large number of sites, but it was not possible for the negotiations to be completed in many cases before the end of 1947-48 and thus permit payment to be made.
The rehabilitation programme to which 1 have already referred is a comprehensive scheme designed to restore the services of the Postal Department to proper efficiency and to develop the services to meet the ever-increasing public needs. An outline of the steps which had been instituted by the department to regain the ground lost during the war and ro build up the postal and telecommunication services was given by me in the Senate on the 15th June, 1948. Despite the difficulties which have occurred in securing adequate supplies of essential materials and man-power, real progress is being achieved and special attention is being given to the task of overtaking the large accumulation of applications for telephone subscribers’ services. In 1947- 48, the net increases in lines was 40,472, this being nearly double the net gain of 22,037 lines in 193S-39. Despite the accelerated progress, however, applications for telephone services are coming forward at a rate far in excess of that in the pre-war period and there are now 116,000 applications outstanding, of which 94,000 are in the metropolitan areas’ and 22,000 in country districts. Vigorous measures are being taken by the department to speed up progress and materials which have been in short supply are beginning to arrive in increasing quantities. Plans are being implemented to meet the situation, which is not peculiar to Australia, and the £42,000,000 programme, which original, covered the three financial years 1947-4S. 1948- 49 and 1949-50, has been expanded to embrace the financial year 1950-51.
Although more than 6,000 additional men, most of whom are ex-servicemen, have been taken on by the Postal Department since the war ended for employment on engineering works, a large number of extra employees is necessary to enable the programme to be accelerated. Local sources are being explored and the matter of engaging displaced persons for unskilled line work is being followed up. There is also a shortage of trained engineers, and action is proceeding to recruit some qualified men from the United Kingdom to occupy positions which cannot be filled from the relatively small field in Australia. Quite a number of critics, particularly the hostile press, demand that the Government reduce the number of employees of the Postal Department. However, the department will be unable to provide the services required by the community unless it can obtain additional employees, and it is doing everything in its power to obtain them in order to carry out the programme it has laid down. During the debate upon the estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in the House of Representatives, reference was made to certain aspects of the department’s activities to which I shall briefly allude in order to inform the ‘Senate of the facts. Tn passing. T should like to say that members of the House of Representatives, including some who have had long experience in the Parliament, should in justice to themselves as well as to the public make some effort to ascertain the facts before making statements which are incorrect and misleading. For instance, some honorable members stated that there is great dissatisfaction among junior postal officers because their rates of pay are much lower than those of young persons of similar ages who are employed by other undertakings in Australia, ft is agreed that in many instances higher wages are offered to juniors by private firms, but in many instances these cover dead-end jobs and there is no scope for an intelligent and industrious lad to make a career for himself. In the Postal Department, however, there are unique opportunities for a junior to qualify for promotion, and it is possible for a junior postal officer to reach the highest post in the department - that of Director-General. Training schools covering all types of activity have been established with the co-operation of the Australian Postal Institute, and these are being improved and extended to meet modern day requirements. The rates of pay of junior postal officers were increased in January, 1947, and, including cost of living allowance, the following rates now apply: - Under 16 years,- £113; at 16 years, £125; at 17 year’s, £149; at 18 years, £167; at 19 years, £191; at 20 years, £221 per annum.
The Commonwealth Public Service Board is giving consideration at present to proposals which, if adopted, will increase the existing salaries by approximately £24 a year and also lead to the payment of two-thirds, instead of onehalf as is now the case, of the adult male cost of living at nineteen and twenty years of .age. This would mean payment of cost of living allowance at the rate of £55 yearly instead of £41 at the two ages mentioned. Dealing with the living away from home allowance of these juniors, the position is that prior to December, 1945, the allowance was at a rate which ensured that a margin of £52 a year remained after a lad met essential expenses. The margin was then raised to £65, and the Public Service Board is now examining the matter of increasing it to £78 per annum.
On several occasions since 1938, the salaries of telephonists have been increased, and these girls now receive the following annual rates including cost of living allowances : - Under 17 years, £133 ; at 17 years, £157 ; at 18 years, £169 ; at 19 years, £187; at 20 years, £211; adult - first year, £245; adult- second year, £257 ; and maximum, £269. The need for paying telephonists, and, indeed, all officers of the department, on an equitable basis is recognized and action is proposed by the Public Service Board to effect further increases involving an additional expenditure on Fourth Division officers, who include telephonists, and postal officers, to the amount of £918,000 yearly. Since the present Government took office employees of the Postal Department have received benefits amounting to approximately £2,500,000 a year
In the House of Representatives it was stated that the charges for local and trunk line telephone services in Australia are excessive and compare unfavorably with those in force in other countries, and that the standard of telephone service is lower than elsewhere. The charges for telephone exchange services in Australia are amongst the lowest in the world, despite the better standards of living in comparison with those in other countries. There is no installation fee, and inward calls are free. The rentals are particularly low in country districts, the Government recognizing fully the important part which the telephone can play in developing our primary industries. In Australia the measured service system operates. That is, a rental is charged to cover the annual costs incidental to the line itself and a fee is charged for each outward call originated. The base rental for an exclusive service ranges from £3 5s. yearly in rural areas to £4 in the large towns, whereas in the State capital city networks the corresponding tariff varies from £4 2s. 6d. to £6 5s., according to the density and size of the network and whether the service is classified as a business or as a residence connexion.
The base rental applies to services connected to premises situated within i radius of 2 miles of the exchange, and 82 per cent, of the subscribers in country districts- are connected to exchanges where the base rental does not exceed £3 10s. a year. Extra mileage fees are charged for the portion of a departmental line beyond the 2 miles radius, but these rates are very low. A- new scale of extra mileage charges was introduced in January, 1946, which benefited nearly 34,000 subscribers to a total amount of £28,000 per annum. lt has been claimed Chat a subscriber should own a service after paying rental for some years, but I point out that the telephone instrument represents only a small part of a subscriber’s service. There is also the outdoor line plant and the equipment in the exchange; the total average value of a telephone service throughout the Commonwealth is now approximately £S5. The annual costs incidental to interest on capital, maintenance and depreciation do not cease during the period of lease of a service and it is- essential, therefore, that, in common with the practice observed in other countries, the rental should continue and the plant should ‘remain the property of the telephone administration.
Reference was also made to telephone call fees. A small fee is charged for each effective local call. The fee is 1 1/4 d. in areas where not more than 300 subscribers’ lines are connected, and l£d. elsewhere. Having regard to the value of the service provided and the increased costs of labour and materials, the existing rates are considered to be equitable. Trunk line fees are charged for calls which extend beyond the local call area, the rates being fixed according to the radial distance between the two exchanges concerned. The long-distance tariffs in Australia are lower, as a general rule, than those adopted by overseas administrations. Notwithstanding that direct circuits have been established between many centres, the annual charges increase with the length of the circuit used, and for this reason regard is paid to the direct distance between the calling and -called stations when assessing the charges for a call. It has been stated that the additional fee charged for a trunk-line call to a particular person or extension telephone is excessive, but this is not so.
The fee ranges from 3d. to ls., and the charge is lower than would be justified if the loss of trunk-line time which is involved in securing the attendance of a specified person were taken into consideration. In the United States of America, which is regarded as the home of the telephone, the corresponding fee varies from 7-Jd. to 6s. 2d., and in other countries the fee is greater than in Australia.
Special attention has been given by the- department to the conditions governing the provision of telephone subscribers’ services in country districts, and more generous terms were introduced in October, 1945. The revised conditions provide that, in cases where there is no existing departmental construction along the public road in the direction of the applicant’s premises-, and- only one exchange service is concerned, the department will erect at its own cost a new pole line for a maximum distance of 60 chains- from an exchange for an exclusive or a party-line service. Where departmental line plant is already available for the whole or a portion of the distance, or more than one exchange service is required along the same route, the department incurs an ‘expenditure of £100 per service, instead of £50 as was the case prior to October, 1945. The former amount being equal to the average cost of erecting 60 chains of poles with one pair of wires. As the result of the introduction of the more liberal conditions, the great majority of telephone exchange services is- now being provided by the Post Office at departmental expense. The Post Office is fully conscious, however, of the need for effecting further improvements when the circumstances justify such a course, and honorable senatoi-3 may be assured that the matter will continue to be kept under constant review.
The hours of service at telephone exchanges are determined according to the number of lines connected and the volume and value of the actual transactions. The basis was reviewed closely in 1947 and more generous conditions which enabled the hours of service to be increased at 2,200 exchanges were introduced. Altogether, 82 per cent, of telephone subscribers in country districts are now provided with continuous service’, and a further 12 per cent. are connected to exchanges which are open in the evenings. In many cases it is not practicable to provide a continuous service at a country telephone exchange because of the inability of the non-official postmaster to furnish attendance, or on account of the prohibitive cost entailed under manually operated conditions. In order to meet the position, the department developed a special automatic unit for installation in country areas and 153 of these automatic switchboards are now operating. An order was placed some time ago for 650 additional units, and these are beginning to arrive. This automatic equipment will be installed in rural areas, and additional equipment will be ordered from time to time in order to ensure that there shall be no interruption of the programme of installations in country districts throughout the Commonwealth.
An experimental radio-telephone service was established recently in the Broken Hill district with the object of determining the extent to which radiotelephone facilities can be provided in remote localities where, on account of cost, it is impracticable to provide the ordinary trunk lines. The Broken Hill network covers a base transmitting and receiving station at Broken Hill and units at selected post offices within a range of 200 miles. Through the medium of these facilities, connexion to and from any district in Australia served by the trunk line system is possible. Up to date, the working results of the experimental network have been satisfactory and, after the trials have been completed, it is proposed to install similar networks in other outback areas for the purpose of providing these isolated communities with modern and convenient telephone and telegraph facilities.
Criticism has been levelled against the department because of the delays which occur to telephone trunk line calls during some hours of the day and evening. It is admitted that, due to the suspension of normal expansion during the war years and the great increase of the volume of traffic, congestion does exist on many trunk line routes and that, on some occasions, the delays are severe. Since the war ended, however, 500 additional trunk line channels have been provided, including circuits on the main interstate routes, and the rehabilitation programme includes provision for 2,000 extra channels, as well as lines to serve rural areas which are not now connected to the trunk system.
In view of the huge list of outstanding applications for telephone subscribers’” services and the phenomenal demand for these facilities, based on the pre-war figures, the department has laid down a priority scheme for general observance throughout the Commonwealth. Under this arrangement precedence is given to requests from essential organizations, such as government departments and public undertakings, and medical, ambulance and hospital services. Then follow removals from one area to another, and applications for business telephones required for purposes directly connected with the building trades, requests for business services needed by ex-servicemen and applications for facilities required on account of serious illness or by expectant mothers. Bequests for business telephones not covered by higher priorities are then dealt with, followed lastly by applications for services desired for social and domestic reasons. This priority system is designed to ensure that, at a time when all applications cannot be met promptly, adequate regard is paid to services required in the public interest or to meet urgent and essential needs.
Prior to the war, the department introduced handset telephones of three colours - ivory, chinese red and jade green - to meet the special requirements of subscribers who preferred coloured instruments to those of the ordinary black finish. These telephones cost more than black instruments, and maintenance was also higher, mainly because of the coloured cords. It is believed that the additional charge made for a coloured instrument - £1 10s. per annum - is not excessive under present conditions. The matter will be reviewed, however, at a later date in the light of the availability and cost of coloured instruments in order to ensure that a reduction shall be effected in the tariff immediately the conditions justify such a course.
It has been suggested that action should be taken by the department to limit calls from public telephones to a period of three minutes and thus minimize inconvenience to people waiting to originate a call. Investigations have shown, however, that most public telephones are connected to automatic exchanges and that the installation of equipment which would automatically disconnect a call at the end of three minutes would involve an expenditure of many thousands of pounds and also divert labour from more urgent tasks. Furthermore, any automatic disconnexion of callers might have serious repercussions, particularly if a conversation effecting life or death was in progress and the caller was not in possession of additional pennies to enable the call to be extended.
It has been stated that one of the reasons underlying the inability of the department to overtake promptly the accumulated arrears of work is the need for importing most of the technical equipment from overseas countries. Although some equipment must be procured from overseas, a great deal has been done by the department to foster the manufacture in Australia of telecommunication apparatus and components. A factory for the production of automatic switching equipment has been set up in Sydney by British and American organizations. An additional factory is also being erected in Melbourne to produce underground cables, this being supplementary to factories in New South Wales. The inability of the Post Office since the war ended to secure sufficient stocks of essential equipment has demonstrated the need for making Australia self-contained, and the Government will continue to pay special attention to the matter.
In December, 1941, the Parliament approved of a surcharge of id. on postal articles, excepting parcels and also excluding mail matter addressed by, or to members of, the Australian and Allied Forces. Discontinuance of this surcharge has been Considered on several occasions. However, in view of the fact that the exceptional obligations of the Government have not ceased with the termination of hostilities and that abnormal expenditure arising from war activities must still be incurred, it has not been found possible to withdraw it. Moreover, costs generally have risen substantially since the surcharge was imposed.
As honorable senators are aware, the department has launched an extensive rehabilitation programme and, in addition many improvements have been effected in the conditions under which mail and telephone facilities are provided. In view of all these circumstances, it is considered that the” continuance of the surcharge is not only justified but also is in the interests of an improved and expanded postal and telecommunication service.
The postage rates on food parcels for the United Kingdom are - not exceeding 3 lb., ls. lid.; over 3 lb. but not exceeding 7 lb., 3s. 7d. ; over 7 lb. but not exceeding 11 lb. 5s. lOd. The postage charge is made up of three parts, one to cover handling and delivery costs in Britain, the second to meet the costs of sea transportation, which was increased materially as from the 1st July, 1947, and the third for handling and transportation within Australia prior to shipment. The amount retained in Australia, on the average, is slightly less than onethird of the total postage. The department has approached the British Post Office on more than one occasion seeking a reduction of the rates on food parcels, but the authorities in the United Kingdom have indicated, with regret, that they are not favorable to a reduction of the tariffs. The present rates are not excessive, bearing in mind the substantial costs of sea transport and the charges which are incurred by the postal administrations concerned.
A fee of 3d. a half-ounce, in addition to the normal postage, is charged for the transmission by air of postal articles posted in Australia for delivery to other places in the Commonwealth or in the territories. It has been suggested that this fee should be abolished, and that all postal articles, particularly those exchanged between the State capital cities, should be carried by air without extra charge. The matter of diverting from surface transport to air services the conveyance of postal articles generally on established air routes within Australia, received careful consideration some time ago, but the investigations disclosed that such an arrangement was hardly practicable, having regard to the vast volume of traffic which would be transferred to aircraft. Then again, comparatively few country districts would have benefited appreciably from such a plan because authorized air services have not yet been extended to many internal routes. Furthermore, the abolition of the air mail fees would have meant a loss in revenue of more than £600,000, and the payment to the air operating companies would have entailed an expenditure of several hundreds of thousands of pounds yearly. The department appreciates keenly that the acceleration of the distribution of mail matter is1 bound up with the development of air services. Consequently, the matter is being kept under careful review to ensure that greater use shall be made of aerial transportation for ordinary mail matter when the circumstances favour such a plan. Already, aircraft have replaced surface means for the carriage of ordinary mail matter in central and north-western Australia. In addition, letter class mails are transported by air, without the payment of airmail fees, between the mainland and Tasmania.
In 1947, non-official postmasters, of whom there are S,600 throughout Australia, received a substantial increase in their remuneration. On the 1st July, 1942, the payments to these deserving employees were increased by £180,000 yearly, and a further rise totalling £280,000 per annum was effected in May, 1947. In. addition, the benefits of the 40-hour week have been extended to nonofficial employees in assessing the allowances payable on a work-unit basis, and for payment for telephone attendance after ordinary post office hours.
The revenue from air-mail fees, which amounted to £630,000 during 1947-48, is credited by the Postal Department to the Department of Civil Aviation, which is responsible for paying air operating companies for the conveyance of postal articles by air. A lump sum payment of £325,000 was paid by the Department of Civil Aviation to Trans-Australia Airlines in 1947-4S, this amount having been determined following discussions between the’ Commonwealth Treasury, the Department of Civil Aviation and the Postal Department. It was agreed that it would be more satisfactory and equitable tomake an overall annual payment to Trans-Australia Airlines as that organization is now the principal mail contractor on the internal routes, and is in a position to convey not only air mails,, but also ordinary letter class mails, between Australia and Tasmania, and’ postal articles of all classes on the relevant routes when normal surface transport facilities are interrupted seriously or other urgent conditions exist. As the payment to Trans-Australia Airlines is made by the Department of Civil A viation, and no mail payments are made to the airlines authorities by the Postal Department, no amount has been placed on the Postal Department’s estimates for payment to Trans-Australia Airlines.
The value of the arrangement ha& already been demonstrated. In addition to air mails hearing the prescribed airmail fees, Trans-Australia Airlinescarried a large quantity of all classes of postal articles to and from Tasmania during the period when shipping facilities were suspended. It also conveyed many tons of postal articles while the rail services in Queensland were dislocated. Also, when floods interrupted railway service in the Northern Territory, and the Adelaide-Perth rail service, ordinary mail matter was conveyed by Trans-Australia Airlines. Prior to last Christmas, when there was an enormous increase in the volume of postal articles, Trans-Australia Airlines carried sometons of unsurcharged mail matter between the various capital cities on themainland.
In July, 1946, the conditions governing the establishment of mail services and house-to-house letter deliveries were reviewed and a liberal basis introduced. As the result, many new mail serviceshave been provided in country areas, and the range and frequency of many existingservices extended. Provision has been made in the 1948-49 Estimates to coveradditional, new, and extended surfacemail services. It is the aim of the department to provide a daily mail service in. the more settled areas, at least a triweekly service in the less settled districts,, and a weekly service in remote outback localities. New house-to-house letter delivery services or improved services- have been provided at 700 centres throughout the Commonwealth, and mail matter is now being delivered to nearly 1,500,000 householders and places of business.
It is agreed that there is a lack of co-ordination of broadcasting programmes between the national and commercial system, and also between individual stations. Consideration is now being given to the setting up of machinery for the efficient control and development of broadcasting generally, and the programme aspects will not be overlooked.
The Postal Department is faced with a huge programme of building works, and projects to the total value of £30,000,000 are required. The Department of “Works and Housing, which is, of course, the authority for providing Commonwealth buildings, is accelerating progress as much as possible, but naturally preference must be given to essential and urgent works. Despite the prevailing conditions, it is hoped that it will be practicable to commence the first section of the new Brisbane General Post Office in the near future. It is estimated that £600,000 will bc expended on that section. That should be most satisfactory to members of the Opposition, and I trust that I shall be privileged to open the new building in their presence.
– This measure provides for the appropriation of £176,714,000 and, like other honorable senators, I realize that it is impossible to comment on the many ramifications of this vast expenditure. I propose, therefore, to refer to only one or two items. I shall deal first with the Department of Social Services. Since its assumption of office in 1941, the Labour Government has created history in ‘the social services field. Prior to the war, our annual social services bill had reached approximately £16,000,000, whereas .last year social services cost this country approximately £87,000,000. That illustrates the tremendous development in this field. It must be remembered, too, that the large sums of money expended on social services are distributed throughout the entire community. The result is that that tremendous spending power of £86,000,000, or £90,000,000 as the case may be, is in circulation producing employment and eliminating want. I notice that the estimated expenditure for the Department of Social Services for the ensuing year is £892,000, or an increase of £179,414 over last year’s figures. That expenditure naturally relates only to the administrative costs of the department and gives no indication of the amount of money that is required for the provision of the various social services. It would be worthwhile at this stage to make some comparisons regarding expenditure on social services over the years. The figures in respect of age and invalid pensions, which cost £15,616,000 in 193S, show a substantial increase in the last three years. The expenditure in 1945-46 was £26,735,000 ; in 1946-47 £29,295,000 ; and in 1947-48, £36,376,000 These commitments are assuming large proportions and it will be necessary as time passes for the Government to ensure that there shall be no danger of any diminution of the country’s ability to meet them. There were no provisions for payment of widows’ pensions in Australia prior to 1945. Although previous governments had given some consideration to schemes for such pensions they actually did nothing about introducing them. Expenditure on this social service is also large, being £3,247,000 in 1945-46, the first year of its operation, £3,336,000 in 1946-47, and £3,904,000 in 1947-48. That is another field to which no attention was given until the advent of a Labour government. Similarly there were neither unemployment nor sickness benefits prior to their introduction by a Labour government in 1945. Expenditure in the first three years was - 1945-40, £1,144,000; 1946-47, £1,650,000; 1947- 48, £1,217,000. As this social service comes under two headings, and the expenditure under each is approximately equal, it will be seen that about £600,000 was paid in respect of each in the last financial year. It may be considered that the expenditure on unemployment benefits is somewhat large, but I understand that the unemployment figure at the present time represents less than onehalf of one per cent, of the total number employed in Australia.
The payment of hospital benefits is also a social service to which no previous government gave much consideration. Certainly the government which preceded the Curtin Labour Government in 1941 did nothing to provide such benefits. In 1945-46, the first year in which hospital benefits operated, the expenditure was £1,111,000; in 1946-47, it was £4,380,000; and in 1947-48, it amounted to £4,448,000. Those figures give some indication of the genuine desire of the Government to give practical relief to the people who require it. I have already referred to a previous government which endeavoured to do something towards assisting the widows of Australia, and I feel that at this stage it would be appropriate for me to make further reference to it. I remind honorable senators that legislation known as the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act 1938, is on the statute-book. Some of the comments made by the Eight Honorable E. G. Casey, at the time that the bill was before another place may be interesting. I quote from Hansard, volume 155, page 793. Mr. Casey, who was then Treasurer, in moving the second reading of the bill said -
This bill embodies one of the most farreaching schemes of social reform that has been presented to the Federal Parliament. It brings directly within its scope over 1,850,000 persons, and affects, including wives and children, a total of no less than 3.000,000 persons, or about 52 per cent. of the people of Australia. It applies to the breadwinners, the sick, the aged, and to the wives, the widows and the orphans of the workers, and it affects persons in nearly every walk of life. . . . I may say in a word that the scheme will provide -
Weekly cash payments during sickness - called in the bill “sickness benefit” or “disablement benefit”;
Free medical attendance and free medicines - called in the bill “ medical benefit”;
Superannuation pensions for insured persons, life pensions for their widows and pensions tor their orphans up to the age of fifteen; and
Allowances in respect of dependent children, under the acre of fifteen, of persons receiving pensions or sickness or disablement benefits.
Turning to page 794 and succeeding pages of the same volume, we find these remarks made by Mr. Casey -
With the gradual emergence of this country from the depression, followed by a rising tide of activity, the Government devoted a considerable amount of study to an explora tion of the question of social insurance. It was not, however, until the completion of the results of the last census, when reliable and up-to-date statistics became available, that it was possible to get to real grips with the problem, and to formulate, on a sound actuarial basis, a comprehensive scheme of health and pensions insurance. The results of those labours are embodied in the bill now before the Parliament.
The scheme will apply to all persons over fourteen years of age employed under a contract of service in Australia, except -
persons employed otherwise than by way of manual labour (i.e., in clerical work or the like) at a rate of remuneration exceeding £365 per annum ; and
certain other limited classes for whom the scheme is unnecessary or unsuitable.
The ordinary total weekly contribution at the inception of the scheme will be 3s. a week in respect of an employed man, and 2s. a week in respect of an employed woman, the contribution, in each case, being shared equally between the employer and the employee. Lower rates of contribution have been fixed for certain other persons who, by reason of guaranteed provision elsewhere, can secure partial exemption from the scheme and will, therefore, be covered for part only of the complete scheme of insurance.
The scheme includes the following benefits: -
Having quoted those references from the official records, I now desire to examine the relevant act. If we examine the medical benefits referred to in the last quotation that I gave, we find that section 47 of the act states -
Medical benefit consists of such proper and necessary medical services as are prescribed and the provision of proper and sufficient drugs and medicines and of the prescribed medical and surgical appliances and the supply of such medical certificates as are required for the purposes of this act, but does not include medical services involving the exercise of such special skill or experience as general medical practitioners cannot reasonably be expected to possess or treatment or attendance in respect of a confinement or such other medical services as are prescribed.
I invite honorable senators to compare that provision with the generous provision made for hospital treatment in the legislation introduced by the present Government. Under the legislation introduced by Labour, all persons, regardless of their income, receive a benefit of 6s. a day while they are in hospital, and if they are treated in a public ward of a hospital the treatment is free. The only contribution which they are called upon to make is the social service contribution tax. The Government also intends to make available an additional sum of 2s. a day, so that the benefit will be increased to 8s. a day. I particularly invite honorable senators to contrast the present scale of benefits with the provision made by the anti-Labour Government which introduced the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act in 1938. Section 62 of that act, which is headed, “ Sickness Benefit and Disablement Benefit”, is as follows - (1 . ) Sickness benefit shall, subject to this act, consist of periodical payments to an insured person in respect of the period commencing on the fifth day of incapacity for work arising from sickness and terminating on the date when the incapacity ceases, or at the expiration of twenty-six weeks from that day, whichever is the earlier. (2.) Disablement benefit shall, subject to this act, consist of periodical payments to the insured person in respect of any period, after the expiration of the period in respect of whichsickness benefit may be paid, during which incapacity for work due to sickness continues.
I invite attention now to the Third Schedule to that act, which probably furnishes the most illuminating contrast with Labour legislation. Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Third Schedule are as follow : - rates of Benefit Payable Under this Act.
Unmarried minors who have been in insurance for a period of one hundred and four weeks and by and in respect of whom contributions have been paid in respect of one hundred and four weeks -
Unmarried minors (not being juvenile contributors) who have been in insurance for a period of less than one hundred and four weeks and by and in respect of whom con tributions have been paid in respect of less than one hundred and four weeks -
Adults and married minors -
Unmarried minors -
Under the legislation introduced by Labour, sickness or unemployment which arises through sickness entitles a married man to payment of £1 5s. a week, his wife to a payment of £1 a week, and 5s. a week for the first child. People receive those payments as of right and they do not have to make any contribution other than the ordinary social services contribution..
With regard to the provision of pensions for aged persons, I propose to read the relevant portions of the 1938 legislation in order that honorable senators may appreciate the great improvement which has been made by this Government in the treatment of aged people. The portion of the 1938 act which relates to this matter is as follows : -
Old-age pension consists of periodical pay ments at the rates specified in the Third Schedule to insured persons who have attained the maximum age.
An old-age pension shall, subject to this Act, be payable to any person -
who was insured at the date he attained the maximum age and had been continuously insured for not less than five years immediately preceding that date; and
by and in respect of whom not less than two hundred and eight contributions have been paid since the date of his last entry into insurance and not less than an average of thirty-nine contributions has been paid or deemed, as prescribed, to have been paid in respect of each of the three contribution years immediately preceding the date upon which he attained the maximum age.
A wife or a widow who is a special voluntary contributor shall be entitled to receive an old-age pension under this Act if she is insured upon attaining the maximum age.
A woman who is entitled to pay additional contributions under section thirty-nine of this Act, and who is entitled to an old-age pension under this Act, shall, subject to this Act, receive an addition to that pension of five shillings per week.
The Third Schedule to the act provides -
Honorable senators will realize that the anti-Labour Government which introduced that legislation even differentiated between the amounts paid to male and female pensioners. The age pension paid by the present Government is £1 17s. 6d. a week and it is hoped to increase that amount to £2 2s. 6d. in the near future. In addition, pensioners are entitled to receive an income of £1, and it is hoped to increase the amount of permissible income to £1 10s. a. week. The means test has also been relaxed in favour of age pensioners. The scale of payment and the general administration of the scheme is much more favor able to needy persons than was ever conceived by the members of the anti-Labour Government of which Mr. Casey was Treasurer.
I turn now to widows’ pensions. Subsection 1 of section 77 of the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act is as follows : -
Widow’s Pension. (1.) The widow of a man -
who is insured at the date of his death; or
who at that date is in receipt of, or would, but for the provisions of sections ninety-four and ninetyeight of this Act, have been eligible to receive, a pension under this Act, shall, subject to this Act, be entitled to a widow’s pension at the rate specified in the Third Schedule.
The relevant paragraph of the Third Schedule is as follows: -
Widow’s pension - 12s. 6d. per week and, upon the commencement of the first increase in the rate of contribution, 15s. per week.
The present Widows’ Pensions Act divides widows into four categories. A widow who has one or more children to support receives £2 2s. 6d. a week, and it is hoped to increase that amount to £2 7s. 6d. a week. A widow of more than 50 years of age who has no child to support receives £1 12s. a week, and it is hoped that that amount will be increased to £1 17s. a week. A widow who is less than 50 years of age and has no child to maintain but is in necessitous circumstances receives . £1 17s. 6d. a week, and it is hoped that that amount will be increased to £2 2s. 6d. a week. A widow whose husband is in prison and who has a dependent child receives £1 12s. a week, and it is hoped to increase that amount to £1 17s. When we compare that with the “ magnificent “ contributory scheme introduced by an anti-Labour government we are struck with the miserable assistance proposed for widows by the Lyons Government. All that it would give a widow was 12s. 6d. a week! I have gone to some trouble to make these comparisons because I believe that they are illuminating, particularly in view of the claims of members of the Liberal party, who continually pose as the friends of the poor. Of course their party was not known as the Liberal party in 1938 ; it functioned under some other title then, and that has been a characteristic of anti-Labour parties throughout our political history. The attitude of members of that party towards the people is clearly demonstrated by the wretched and inadequate payments which they proposed to make. The recipients of social service benefits were even to be compelled to pay for them, and all sorts of limitations and restrictions were imposed upon the unfortunate applicants. The net result of the Lyons Government’s magnificent gesture to assist the poor and needy was so bad that the whole scheme had to be scrapped. Although the passage of the act and the establishment of the preliminary administration cost the country several hundreds of thousands of pounds, the only purpose served by it was to furnish an inglorious advertisement for a contributory scheme of social service benefits. The people who had to contribute to the scheme would have been extremely lucky to obtain any benefit from it. If I may employ a vulgar expression, it was nothing more than a mongrel effort on the part of the anti-Labour parties.
I turn now to Division 16 of the Appropriation Bill, which deals with the estimates for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The council is estimated to expend £1,873,000 during the current financial year, an increase of £349,755 over the expenditure for the previous financial year. A great deal has been said recently in the Senate and also in the House of Representatives concerning the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and a deliberate attempt has been made by critics of the Government to establish in the public mind the idea that the national security is endangered by the scientific investigation of matters even remotely connected with national defence by members of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. It is suggested that the Government of the United States of America is withholding scientific knowledge from Australia because Communists are alleged to be employed by the council. It is asserted that Communists in the employ of the council have access to defence secrets and scientific research associated with defence, and that they are likely to pass on such information to powers which are not well disposed towards Australia. What are the bedrock powers and functions of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research? Who constituted it, and why was it constituted? Those questions are answered in the Year-Booh for 1925, which is an official publication. It states that in September, 1920, the Parliament passed the Institute of Science and Industry Bill, and that that measure which was assented to in 1921, established the Institute of Science and Industry. That was the origin of the organization we now know as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. That act provided for the establishment of a bureau of agriculture, a bureau of industries and other bureaux as the Government determined. On the 18th March, 1921, the late Sir G. H. Knibbs, who was formerly Commonwealth Statistician, was appointed the first director of the Institute. The Year-Booh for 1925 stated that his statutory powers and functions were to be as follows: -
Initiation and carrying out of scientific researches in connexion with or for the promotion of, primary or secondary industries in Australia.
I particularly emphasize the lastmentioned clause, “ Establishment of a bureau of information for the collection and dissemination of information relating to scientific and technical matters “, and I relate that provision to the succeeding clause, namely -
Statements have been made that opportunities exist for persons so inclined to> divulge secret scientific information in the possession of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I have already pointed out that one of the primary functions for which the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, under its original name, was established was to disseminate information relating to scientific and technical matters. The council, therefore, was not under any obligation to observe secrecy with respect to its activities.
– In 1920 Australia was not faced with the possibility of a war.
– I shall deal with that aspect. The council has made various investigations of great importance to Australia and has issued a number of bulletins and pamphlets dealing with them. Some time ago, as a member of the Public Works Committee, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan) visited the head-quarters of the council at Canberra, and with other members of that committee, including myself, he had an opportunity to ascertain the nature of’ the council’s work. On that occasion our attention was directed to, numerous international scientific publications which the council had received from overseas and also publications which the council itself had produced for world-wide distribution.
– Those publications did not deal with any aspect of defence.
– The Opposition parties claim that the council is engaged in work of a defence nature, but I am giving the facts.
– The work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research could be associated with defence.
– The facts which I am citing show that that is not so. The more important studies which the council had undertaken up to 1925 had been in respect of -
Agriculture and pastoral industries, forest and vegetable products, manufacturing industries, mining and metallurgy, miscellaneous (carburettors, power, clays).
On the 7th July, 1920, the then Minister for Trade and Customs, Mr. MassyGreene, introduced the Institute of Science and Industry Bill under which the body now known as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was set up. In his second-reading speech on that measure, reported in Hansard, vol, 92, at page 2565, he said: -
I do not think the necessity for the establishment of the Institute has been emphasized by any one more than by our organizations of primary producers, who are scattered throughout the Commonwealth. I believe this is largely dueto the fact that they are realizing more and more the extent to which it is possible for science to assist them in the useful and sometimes difficult work which they are performing, and this has been borne home to them in a striking manner, particularly during recent years . . .
believe that many of the diseases that are common to our flocks and herds are preventable and Australian producers now realize that the chief assistance they canexpect to receive is from scientists.
Requests have repeatedly been received from the various organizations of primary producers in the different States for the investigation by the Institute of Science and Industry of problems affecting their interests.
The principal reason which actuates the Government in promoting the bill for the establishment of an Institute of Science and Industry in this country is the desire to assist our primary industries. We realize that, unless something can be done to assist the man on the land, he is in for a bad time.
Then, of course, there is to be considered the immense assistance that science can afford to our manufacturing industries.
I am satisfied that scientists can also assist our manufacturing industries very materially in the future.
I have made those quotations in order to show that the Council for Scientific and IndustrialResearch was specifically created, first to ensure complete scientific investigation into primary industries; and, secondly, to conduct similar investigations into our manufacturing industries. When the Institute of Science and Industry Bill was discussed in the Parliament no statement whatever was made that would indicate that the council would engage in any work in relation to defence. Under the amending Science and Industry Research Act passed in 1926 the original name, the Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry, was altered to the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and the organization was created a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and capable of suing and being sued. Under that act the powers and functions of the council were prescribed as follows -
Make recommendations to the Ministeras to-
Its policy of work.
Funds required for carrying out the work of the Council.
Allocation of funds made available for carrying out that work.
The Council was empowered to -
Initiate and carry out scientific research in connexion with, or for the promotion of, primary or secondary industries in the Commonwealth.
Training of research workers and the establishment and awarding of industrial research studentships and fellowships.
Making of grants in aid of pure scientific research.
Recognition or establishment of associations of persons engaged in industry or industries for the purpose of carrying out industrial scientific research and the co-operation with and the making of grants to such associations when recognized or established.
The testing and standardization of scientific apparatus and instruments and the carrying out of scientific investigation connected with standardization of apparatus, machinery, materials and instruments used in industry.
Establishment of Bureau of Information for the collection and dissemination of information relating to scientific and technical matters.
Acting as a means of liaison between the Commonwealth and other countries in matters of scientific research.
– Whether we are at war with them or not?
– I have cited the functions and powers conferred by statute upon the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and it is for the Opposition parties to prove that the Council has in any way exceeded them. The Fear-Booh for 3945 states -
For about twelve years after its establishment, the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was devoted mainly to the solution of problems affecting the agriculture and pastoral industries. . . .
However, in 1037, the Commonwealth Government decided to extend the activities so as to provide assistance to secondary industries, and the council proceeded to establish several laboratories for work in that field ; it was thus in the fortunate position of being able to render to these industries assistance of vital importance almost immediately after the outbreak of war. In fact, the remarkable technological advances and developments in secondary industrial production during the war would, to a large extent, have been impossible had it not been for the assistance rendered by scientific research, and this may well serve as a forceful illustration of what may be accomplished in ti in.es of peace.
I contributed an article to the Westralian Worker of the 20th August last in order to expose the misrepresentations being made by the Opposition parties in respect of the activities of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Those parties say that the Council’s employees include traitors who are being allowed access to secret information of a defence nature. I concluded that article with these words -
If, by any chance, as the result of investigation, some discovery valuable to the nation from a defence point of view was made, there is no reason whatever to doubt that utmost secrecy would be observed.
I have never met Sir David Rivett, the Chairman of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, but on the 7th September last, I received a letter from him in which he wrote -
I have not the pleasure of knowing you personally, but I cannot refrain from sending a note to thank you for the article which you wrote on the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for the Perth “Worker” of the 20th August. There has been such a lot of utter nonsense about us in the press recently, particularly in a couple of Sydney papers, that it is quite refreshing to come across . a statement which shows that the writer took the trouble to look up the facts of the matter and summed up the situation in the accurate way you did in your last paragraph.
That letter is available for perusal if anybody doubts its authenticity. It bears the signature “ David Rivett “.
– Who is doubting it?
– I am telling the honorable senator, if he is not such a blockhead as to be unable to realize what I am saying, what Sir David Rivett wrote to me. I shall repeat it -
There has been such a lot of utter nonsense about us in the press recently, particularly in a couple of Sydney papers, that it is quite refreshing to come across a statement which shows that the writer took the trouble to look up the facts. . . .
If it is not utter nonsense it must be. deliberate propaganda used by the Opposition in the House of Representatives for political purposes. That is a fairly accurate analysis of the situation. Members of the House of Representatives of the same political faith as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan) are prepared to do any injury to this country and endanger its future, in my opinion, merely for political purposes. I have no hesitation in saying that. I have made these statements because I believe that the time has come for some honorable senator, no matter how humble his position in this Parliament may be, to take up the cudgels on behalf of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. That organization has a number of sections, as distinct from established divisions, which deal with research of various kinds. For instance, there are sections dealing with irrigation in the Murray Valley and Griffith areas, tribo-physics, dairy products, mineragraphic investigations, building material research, flax, radiophysics and aeronautics. Tribo-physics relates to lubrication and the testing of oils, which could be associated with machinery used for defence. It might also be argued that aeronautics is a defence matter. I do not argue that that is not so. We have a vast organization of air services in Australia and it is essential, in the best interests of the people who use those services, to have up-to-date scientific knowledge of flying and flying safety measures. It might be reasonable to argue that this aspect of scientific research should not be in the charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research but should be undertaken as a defence project. I point out that there is nothing to prevent the Government from removing the work from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and placing it under the control of a department concerned with defence -operations. In fact, I have reason to (believe that the Government may follow -“that ‘course. The real purpose of the ‘Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is to deal with scientific problems affecting secondary industry and primary ;production. However, upon the outbreak of World War II., the Commonwealth had fto torn quickly to some organization which could handle special cases of defence work. Naturally, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was selected for that purpose. As a member of the Public Works Committee, I was associated with its recommendation to this Parliament that a tribe-physics laboratory should be erected for. the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research at the University of Melbourne. I knew when the report was prepared that the science of lubrication could be related to defence. The only effective way to answer people who besmirch the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in order to make political capital at the expense of the Government is to make them come out in the open and name the traitors who, they allege, are employed in that organization. They should prove that leakages occur. There is too much supposition, innuendo and misrepresentation in the public life of this country. A standard of honour should be observed in the parliamentary sphere, and no member of Parliament - I do not care a continental to what political party he belongs - should try to gain political advantage at the expense of national security. I have described the situation in relation to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as I see it and have dealt with the alleged suspicions of the Opposition about the employment, of
Communists who might betray vital secrets to a possible enemy. The Opposition has repeatedly tried to convince the people that the Government and its supporters are allied with the Communist party in Australia and take their orders from the Communists.
– They fight the Communists like doves.
– We have heard a great deal of that sort of misrepresentation recently. The most important thing for us to do at the moment is to maintain the dignity of our parliamentary in.stitution. I say in all seriousness thatthe tactics adopted by various political parties in Australia recently for the sake of political gain, have definitely diminished the status- of this Parliament. If the parliamentary institution is pushed1, aside merely for the sake of political preferment, or for pecuniary gain, something else will take its place.
– The honorable senator should tell that to his leader.
– That thing will be either communism or fascism, and I am inclined to the belief that if the Labour party goes out of power in Australia, a fascist government will take its place. I make no secret of that belief. There is a strong fascist element in this country which seeks to usurp the functions of government. Some adherents of that element are possibly in the precincts of this Parliament. 1 have no need to tell my leader anything. He knows a great deal more than the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (-Senator O’Sullivan) could ever imagine, and he is capable of leading the Labour party onward in the march of progress in the interests of the people of Australia.
Members of the Australian Labour party have been told by the Opposition that they are “fellow travellers” with the Communists, and God knows what else. Last week I had the honour to attend the triennial conference of the Australian Labour party as one of the representatives of Western Australia. That conference dealt with the subject of communism. Its decisions proved the truth of the statement that I have frequently made in this chamber that only one political party in Australia is fighting the Communists. I believe that I am right in saying that the party to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition belongs has as many Communists in its ranks as has any other political party in Australia. A Communist in Queensland has just been sentenced to imprisonment for six months. That is an indication that the Government will not stand for sedition or treachery. The Opposition parties are always crying; “Ban the Communists”.. They banned the Communists when they were in power, but they did nothing to make the ban effective. In fact, they accelerated the growth of communism. There are two reasons why communism in Australia has developed and achieved such strength as it has to-day. The first is the depression and the second is the repressive legislation enacted by the Opposition parties when they were in power. Their decision to ban the Communist party simply had the effect of increasing the strength of that organization. The government of the day was not sincere in its attack upon communism, and members of the Opposition to-day are not sincere when they suggest that the party be banned again. I refer the Senate to the -Labour party’s policy in relation to communism. It stands by its policies. It does not shift as the wind blows, or change its name every five minutes. It does not postulate something to-day and change its decision to-morrow. It moves steadily along the road of progress. I draw special attention to the resolution on communism which was passed by the triennial conference of the Australian Labour party. That resolution stated -
Labour believes in the fundamental principles associated with the Australian democratic way of life, freedom of the right of association and the right of expression.
There is nothing wrong with that. That is in consonance with the Charter of the United Nations, which provides for freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of religion, and freedom of thought. The conference declared that the banning of any political party was a negation of democratic principles. I consider that no political party should be outlawed unless it is traitorous or subversive in its activities. The conference affirmed the belief that freedom of expression enables- the community to determine the soundness or otherwise of political philosophies and that the community can reject views inimical to its best interests. I have often said, and I repeat, that I -have faith that the common sense of the Australian people qualifies them to determine the lengths to which any political party should be allowed to go, whether it be the Communist party or any other organization. The Labour party repudiates the methods and principles of the Communist party. Can that be said by the Liberal party or the Australian Country party? No Communist can be a member of the Australian Labour party. The conference declared that no Communist could be a member of the Australian Labour party because of basic hostility between the two parties. I suggest to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the party of which he is a member has no such provision in its constitution.
– Ha, ha!
– The honorable senator laughs-! Let him prove that his party has such a provision. No Communist auxiliary or subsidiary can be associated with the Labour party.
– “Why is the honorable senator so scared of the Communists ?
– I am not scared of them. The only way to counter the activities- of any party or organization that is inimical’ to the best interests of Australia, is to make the people contented. If that were done, parties such as the Communist party would never have any hope of success at elections.
– Where did Labour’s preference votes go at the last elections ?
– We know quite well where they went. There is an instruction that no Labour branch or member may co-operate with the Communist party. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition cannot claim that his party takes a similar stand. The policy and actions of the Communist party are aimed at the destruction of the democratic way of life of the Australian people, and the establishment of a totalitarian form of government replacing existing democratic institutions and depriving the Australian people of their personal liberty. Labour will strenuously oppose any such move. We realize that the destruction of the institution of Parliament would lead to the inauguration of a Communist or fascist regime. Throughout its whole organization, the Australian Labour party is conducting a campaign to destroy the influence of the Communist party in Australia. The Labour movement offers the safest and most effective means of preserving democratic liberties, and of protecting and improving the conditions of the workers. I felt that it was necessary to emphasize Labour’s policy on those matters, because an endeavour has been made repeatedly, both in - this chamber and in the House of Representatives, to link the Labour movement with the Communist party in this country. We are not, we never have been, and we have no desire to be, associated with the Communist party.
The Government expects to expend E36,000 on the Australian War Memorial at Canberra this year. That is £8,000 more than the actual expenditure last year. The memorial is one of the show places of Canberra. When I first inspected it, I came away with deep impressions. The question that was uppermost in my mind was whether the glorification of war in the war memorial and museum would inculcate a war spirit in the minds of youthful Australians. However, I came to the conclusion that as the museum merely presented the factual record of what took place, mainly in World War I., although it will also house exhibits from World War II., it would not have that effect. Particularly in recent months, Canberra, as our national city, has been misrepresented to the people of the Commonwealth in the political propaganda of Labour’s opponents. The Opposition parties have endeavoured to create in the minds of the Australian people the idea that Canberra is a place of tyranny, the home of undesirable people, and the centre of a bureaucracy which tells the people of the Commonwealth what they shall think, do, and eat, and where they shall live. This form of propaganda was particularly noticeable during the recent rents and prices referendum campaign. It can only bring the National Capital into disrepute, and discourage Australian citizens from visiting it. When I was in America, I found 8 widespread affection for Washington, the national capital of that country, and, in the course of conversation, many people said, “ I hope to have a holiday soon, and I shall visit Washington “. When I said, “ Why do you want to go to Washington ? “ the answer almost invariably was that Washington was the national capital and had many interesting historical associations. How many Australians think of Canberra in that way? Very few, I imagine, because the Australian people have never been led to regard Canberra in that light. They have been told that it is a place of corruption, and the seat of an administration which has not the best interests of the people at heart. We should endeavour to arouse in this country a national outlook such as there is in America. Australian citizens should be taught not to look down upon their parliamentary institutions, but to look up to them. There should be a dignity amongst parliamentarians. There is nothing worse in public life than to so demean oneself and the institution of which one is a member, that instead of the Parliament being something to which the people look up, it is regarded as an excrescence which, sooner or later, will have to be removed. So. I believe that, just as the people of the United States of America regard their capital city, Washington, as a centre of inspiration, so should the people of Australia be educated to respect and value their own capital city of Canberra. Washington has a history of great national development. From it have emanated many great thoughts and ideals, including Abraham Lincoln’s memorable utterance, “ Government of the people, by the people, and for the people “. In this country, many great economic and social improvements have sprung from its capital city.” This Government, amongst others, through the National Parliament, has done much to make conditions of life better for the people of this country. From Canberra has come legislation which has safeguarded the welfare of the Australian people. In its own right, of course, Canberra is a place of beauty, [n addition to native flora, there are trees from many other countries. In blossom time, there is not a prettier place than Canberra anywhere in the world, and I have seen a few of the world’s beauty spots. Canberra is different from other cities in that it has no great industries, and will never be disfigured as other cities, including London, Philadelphia, Chicago and Sydney, have been blemished. Canberra has many attractions of national importance including the war memorial and museum to which I have just referred, the Australian Institute of Anatomy, the Australian Forestry School, some of the research laboratories of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the pine forests, the solar observatory at Mount Stromlo and the National Library, and others too numerous to mention. There is a need for the cultivation of Australian national pride, particularly among the younger people of this country. They should be taught to think of Australia as a nation. Our electoral laws require that every adult shall vote at parliamentary elections. I wonder how much thought the framers of those laws gave to the manner in which this privilege would be exercised by future generations. The law says that every adult citizen shall vote, but it does not require that he shall cast an intelligent vote. This, of course, is a problem of education. To what degree do the curriculums of Australian schools provide for instruction in parliamentary government and civic affairs? I remember going into a schoolroom in a town in Western Australia and asking the children who was the Prime Minister of Australia. They looked blank for a while and then one promising little chap put up bis hand timidly and said, “ Please 3ir, I think it is John Curtin “. It was John Curtin, but the boy only thought that it was. Apparently no reference was made in his home to the fact that there was a national parliament and a Prime Minister. When asked who was the Premier of Western Australia the children could not answer. That is an illustration of the fact- that our education system does not measure up te the require ments of citizenship. It is high time that our education authorities included in school curriculums instruction in civic affairs and citizenship. I suggest that the Australian Government, in cooperation with the States, should institute an annual pilgrimage to Canberra by school children. Two or more could be chosen from each State. “ The selection could be by a competitive examination, the subject of which, I suggest, should be the historical and political development of Australia as. a nation. I believe that there is wide scope and urgent necessity for the cultivation of an Australian national outlook. [ do not mean what we commonly term “ nationalism “. I have no wish to have the people of this country led to believe that Australians are the best people in the world, and that other nations are no good. What I have in mind is a consummation of the idea that Australia is a nation and not merely a large tract of land governed by six separate entities pulling against one another. That, unfortunately, is the impression that has been created on many occasions, particularly in recent years when the Labour Government has sought the approval of the people for the exercise of additional powers. We have long realized the difficulty of governing this country to-day under a Constitution drafted 50 years ago.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
– I desire to compliment Senator Nash on his very able speech to-day. He touched on some very vital points and dealt with his subject very well indeed. Several of the points he mentioned are of interest to me, and I particularly commend his stressing of the need for genera! education of the people in regard to certain conditions which exist in Australia at the present time and throughout the world. He referred to forces which are extant but not well known, and mentioned people who, in different- parts of the world, have betrayed their country. We have heard much recently of the need for education in every branch of society and I intend to deal to-night with the very urgent need which exists in Australia to-day to educate our children to become good citizens. In the past we have seen the children of this country after school was finished for the day being allowed to go out into the playgrounds without any organized form of sport. It is a pity thatopportunities to organize some form of play for them have been allowed to pass. I shall quote an extract from the annual report of an organization in Victoria known as the Playgrounds and Recreation Association which will stress the point I am seeking to make -
The need for supervised playgrounds everywhere is very great, a fact which is beginning to be realized more and more by municipalities and citizens’ groups. The expenditure of funds for acquiring, equipping and conducting playgrounds is fully justified by the benefits obtained by the children in the way of enjoyment, safety, health and character building and of the satisfaction gained through being able to express themselves through play within a group, and as an integral part of the group, which is the basis of citizenship training. The playground contributes to character bydeveloping right habits, attitudes and responses in the various play activities. These are some of the main benefits children receive from playgrounds conducted under competent leadership. Children and young people generally find great enjoyment and satisfaction through their participation in playground activities. Adults, too, gain wholesome enjoyment in pleasurable relaxation, cither by taking part in activities or by watching others play. Skills acquired on the playground in childhood or youth are often used in leisure activities throughout life. On the playground situations continually arise which afford intelligent leaders an opportunity to guide children and youth in the development of high ideals and proper conduct. Much emphasis has been laid upon the playground as a factor in the reduction of delinquency. True as this is, the potentiality of the playground as a positive force in the formation of character and in the development of leadership qualities is of still greater importance. It is impossible to measure the great happiness which the playground brings to the people of the community.
I have quoted that report in order to stress the need for the Senate to bear in mind, in all its deliberations, the necessity for preventive measures against some of the graver ills of our society. Fortunately, at a referendum some years ago the Australian Government was given the power to deal with health and social services and it is under that heading that we can incorporate many projects of the nature to which I have referred. In Tasmania recently I was approached by some of the amateur sporting bodies regarding their financial position. Even in a time when money is relatively plentiful these amateur sporting bodies find themselves in an awkward financial position, which is a very poor reflection on the condition of amateur sport in Australia. Rowing clubs and athletic bodies find that they are practically without funds to carry on their important branches of physical fitness and development and I draw the attention of the Senate to the necessity for honorable senators doing their utmost to assist such bodies.
The National Fitness Council movement in Tasmania is a co-ordinating body subsidized by the Department of Health. A sum of £72,500 has been granted by the Australian Government for the coming year to further this project. The council has met with quite a measure of success in the development of the physical fitness of youth. I shall quote from a pamphlet issued by the council to indicate its objectives -
The objectives of the National Fitness Council of Tasmania, as indicated in its constitution, are as follows: -
To co-ordinate, expand, and supplement the existing services and organizations and create local and other organizations concerned with physical fitness in Tasmania:
To create in the public mind a realization of the value of physical education in relation to the general health and welfare of the community:
To encourage every opportunity for recreation, sport, and physical education, to persons of both sexes and of all ages:
To co-operate with the local govern ing authorities in the provision of recreational and training facilities, sufficiently attractive to make an effective appeal to the people of their districts:
To control the expenditure of grants made by the Commonwealth or State Governments to this Council or received from any other source:
To institute courses of training for teachers and leaders in the principles and practices of physical education :
To do all such other lawful things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of the above objects.
I stress the need for supervised playgrounds and for the training of the characters of smaller children before they reach school age, during their time in school and after they leave it. It is necessary also for amateur sporting bodies to have sufficient funds to carry on with the work they do. In practically every field of sport we find that a sporting body which cannot draw funds from what is known as a “ gate “, is in dire need of money. Organizations like the National Fitness Council should supply a certain proportion of the funds required to keep such sporting bodies in existence. I wish to stress the importance of organizations such as that, and I consider that the funds made available to them, while quite liberal compared with those made available by previous governments, are not sufficient. This is a movement which requires our fullest support and I ask that honorable senators will direct their thoughts and actions towards enabling people who are interested in such organizations to continue with their good work. Associated with the need for physical fitness is the necessity for education in the prevention of tuberculosis. I mentioned recently the measures that have been taken in Tasmania for the prevention of tuberculosis by the institution of a mobile X-ray clinic which travels around the State and which has met with very great success. Recently the tuberculosis division of the Tasmanian State Department of Health issued a pamphlet which contains a list of the methods it is teaching the people to employ against the scourge of tuberculosis. The division particularly warns the people that satisfactory X-ray examination does not mean that in the future an individual will never contract tuberculosis, and recommends that an X-ray examination be made annually to ensure that tuberculosis has not developed since the previous examination was carried out. The warning that the division has given to the general public in this pamphlet is very good information, and is a part of a plan which I consider necessary, not only in Tasmania, but in every State of Australia to keep before the people the need for preventing tuberculosis and of avoiding places where they may contract it. The pamphlet advocates that a certain amount of time spent out of doors in exercise is absolutely necessary, as well as a diet consisting of nourishing foods. It warns against overwork, late hours and excesses that weaken the body. It points out that such conditions may lead to infection with tuberculosis. The pamphlet mentions other steps to be. taken to prevent tuberculosis germs from entering the body. I consider the Tasmanian Government is on the right track in this matter of educating the public generally against tuberculosis. When the Tuberculosis Bill was before the Senate recently the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna)” stressed that there was a very real need to educate the public in the value of early diagnosis and treatment. It is absolutely necessary for each State Department of Health and every physical fitness organization in Australia to heed its warning and make a frontal attack on this dread disease. -Senator Nash also spoke of the need to explain the humanitarian motives of the Labour party. I am interested particularly in a report in yesterday’s Adelaide Advertiser, of an address by the Archbishop of Adelaide, the Reverend Doctor Beovich, made to a large congregation. The report reads - “ While it is not the church’s function to prescribe any detailed political or economic system,” Dr. Beovich said, “it is indeed the right and duty of the church to intervene when moral questions are involved “.
For that reason, he added, the Bishops of Australia had recently issued a statement on socialization in which were clearly set down the Christian principles governing this moral question. He had been asked if a Catholic in view of that statement could with a good conscience subscribe to the present Labour platform and take the party pledge. “The answer is yes, and the reason is that while the wording of the platform on socialization is ambiguous, its interpretation is clear, namely, that only those things which otherwise would be exploited to the injury of the community should be socialized or nationalized,” said Dr. Beovich. “ Thus the platform does not envisage what the Bishop’s statement culls socialism in its strict sense, nor is it intended as one step on the road to total socialism. “ That interpretation made in 1921 - when the present platform was drawn up - was reviewed by the Labour delegates at their recent conference in Canberra. They unanimously decided that it still stands as the official interpretation of the Labour platform.”
Recently a determined attempt has been made by the press and various anti* Labour political organizations to split the Labour movement by raising the sectarian issue. It is interesting, therefore, to read the views expressed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr. Mannix, who is reported to have said -
We are hearing much about the plank in the Labour platform for the nationalization of production, distribution and exchange. But nobody seems to have remembered that when the plank was inserted in the Labour platform it was carried against a strong minority. There was a great deal of heart-burning and heart-searching in the minds of those at that conference who put the new plank into the Labour platform.
On the following day the same conference, by a majority, gave ari interpretation of that plank which diners little, if at all, from the pronouncement made by the Bishops in the pamphlet that was circulated last Sunday.
In this interpretation it was set out by the Labour conference that nationalization did not mean opposition to private property or that all production, distribution nml exchange should be nationalized. It was made clear that only those things which would otherwise be exploited to the injury of the community mould bc nationalized.
E think that the archbishop’s statement demonstrates clearly the falsity of the insidious propaganda uttered by those who are seeking to undermine respect for parliamentary and governmental institutions. It is significant that the period between the two world wars was marked by similar attempts. At that time the purpose of those who sought to destroy, and did, in fact, destroy, parliamentary democracy was to establish dictatorships. The attempt made in Australia to divide members of the Australian Labour party, who are so united and loyal, is actuated by a similar sinister motive. However, during the past week two distinguished gentlemen have made outspoken pronouncements, and I feel that those forthright statements should effectively discourage our opponents from continuing their present line of attack.
– Those pronouncements will not stop them. The honorable senator has no hope, for instance, of converting the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan).
– Whilst there are none so blind as those who will not see, there is always the chance that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will be sufficiently interested in the subject to inform his mind by discussing the matter with supporters of the Government. In any event, I am convinced that the propaganda to which I have referred has been effectively exposed, and that it is clear to all that Labour policy does not run counter to the recent joint statement of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
I now propose to say something with regard to the trial of members of the management of the I.G. Farben Trust, which has been mentioned in the cable news in the last few days. I took a close interest in this matter at the end of the war, and I was extremely interested to know how the victorious allies proposed to deal with those political criminal? whose war guilt was even greater than that of German military leaders.- I am distressed to learn that whilst other Germans have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment, some of these criminals are to be allowed to go free. I have with me a boot entitled Patents for Hitler written by Guenter Reimann, which illustrates some of the intrigue conducted by the Standard Oil Company with the big German industrial enterprises during the war. One passage is as follows: -
The German chemical trust was to bt granted a share in royalties on high-octane gatequal to that of Standard Oil. This tax waito be paid by consumers of the “ strategic “ aviation gasoline throughout the entire world. The royalties were decided upon just before the outbreak of the war and the grotesque situation arose whereby the Royal Air Force paid a royalty to I.G1., and thus to the Nazis, for its aviation gasoline. The wartime transfer of this money was difficult, so a temporary arrangement was prepared by which Standard Oil acted as I.G.’s trustee, retaining the Herman company’s share in royalties “for the duration” - to be paid after the war.
If that is so I feel that we have been betrayed, and I cannot do other than voice my protest that war criminals of that kind should be allowed to go free.
– During the recent
Avar the Standard Oil Company refused to give certain patents to the United States Government.
– Underhand international negotiations concerned not only oil but also rubber and many other materials, and the statements contained in the book to which I have referred indicate the ramifications of international finance. Another matter which greately interested me during the war and mav even now interest honorable senators is the extraordinary degree of immunity from military operations enjoyed by Liechtenstein, which, although situated in the very heart of Europe, escaped all the horrors of war. As an example, I shall read the following passage: -
The story of the secret Oil International would not be complete without referring to Liechtenstein, Europe’s mystery state.
Liechtenstein, with its capital, Vaduz, is the most remarkable country in war-time Europe. Situated in Central Europe, almost encircled hy the Third Reich, it is the only place in the old world where people feel safe, with unprotected frontiers, with only a few policemen maintaining internal order - in short, an idyllic country. How did it escape Hitler’s armies? With a population of only 12,000 it could never have tried to defend its national existence. But we must not forget that the administration of this tiny state offered hospitality to corporations which sought a neutral center for private empires, free from the struggle of national states and from taxation. This little country in war-torn Europe had been selected by I.G.J by Standard Oil, and x.180 by Shell as one of the centers for the supernational world empires. Its only apparent function is to enable private world empires or large corporations to escape from the risks of war and also from taxation.
The State of Liechtenstein, since it is “ protected “ by the Nazis, is sheltering an important international corporation which deserves our special interest, the International Hydrogenation Patents Co. Ltd. This company was founded by Standard-I.G. (now Standard Catalysts), i.e., by Standard Oil and f.G. as partners. Later n third partner joined the company, British-controlled Shell.
The “ neutrality “ of Liechtenstein has been respected by Hitler. Consequently the International Hydrogenation Patents Company (I.H.P.) still is in existence. It had formed
subsidiary company in Holland, the International Hydrogenation Engineering and Chemical Company, “ in order to give technical assistance “ to other firms which may obtain a licence from I.H.P. This arrangement follows the usual pattern to form a special firm which becomes the sole owner if the “ know-how “ or of technical experience vital for the use of complicated chemical processes.
Those excerpts indicate to me that we aire drifting into a state of affairs very similar to that which confronted the world in 1939. Of course, even now it is still possible to avoid war, and one hopeful feature of the present situation is that Labour’ administrations are in office in the United Kingdom and in Australia. At a critical stage, when world powers are alining themselves in anticipation of the coming struggle, it is gratifying to know that the leaders of the British Commonwealth are meeting in conference. I have great hopes for the outcome of that conference because I believe that the members of the British Commonwealth will forge a binding link in an association which will be strong enough to divert the world from the path which leads to chaos, because there is no doubt that there are forces in the world to-day which are leading us. towards chaos, lt is not a matter of whether capitalism or communism will survive in another war, but rather whether civilization will survive. “We all know that if another war occurs it will be fought with atomic bombs and bacteria, and very little will be left of civilization. For that reason I repeat that I am re-assured by the present meeting in London of the leaders of the British Commonwealth. There must be some hope for mankind, and some leadership must be forthcoming. Because of the lack of leadership the peoples of the world are to-day struggling in a morass of hopelessness. As an Australian, I am gratified to know that the voice of Australia is respected by the representatives of other nations, and particularly by those whose wisdom, sincerity, energy and tenacity have enabled us to reach some degree of international understanding and tolerance. Australia has been paid a great compliment in having its Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) appointed Chairman of the General Assembly of the United Nations. I congratulate the right honorable gentleman on the very high honour bestowed upon him, and I commend the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for the generous tribute which he paid to the Minister recently. I regard Dr. Evatt’s appointment as an indication of the approval of the peoples of the world of the spirit of democracy, which is nowhere stronger than in Australia. His appointment shows that other nations realize the immense efforts made by Australia not only during the war but also in the aftermath. In that period we have made considerable material gains, preserved the stability of our economy and introduced social legislation for the benefit of the masses of our people.
Our present stage of development is the result of a slow process which has gained momentum since the recent war. During the dark days which followed the catastrophic events which led to the withdrawal of the British Army from Dunkirk Australia realized the degree to which it must rely upon its own resources to defend itself. Fortunately, about that time a competent government assumed office in this country and proved itself capable of seeing the Australian people through their trials. I attribute the high esteem in which Australia is now held by the nations of the world to the achievements of this nation during those days. The nations generally now recognize the merits of the Australian system both in war and in peace. Whilst Dunkirk marked the setting of the star of Empire it also marked the rising of the star of the great British Commonwealth of Nations of which Australia is so proud to he a member. The tragedy of Dunkirk revealed the weakness of British foreign policy between the two world wars, which culminated in the withdrawal of the British armed forces from the continent of Europe in whose affairs Britain had always played a prominent part. The Mother Country, in its hour of need, was deserted by its allies and could only rely upon the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations to help it withstand the horror of European fascism which can he better described as supercapitalism. It was under such conditions that we had our baptism as a nation. The events of those days enable us to realize how important it is that Australia should remain a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and help to maintain it as solid, compact power.
We have much to offer other countries in our leadership and ideals. I am sure that fact will emerge clearly as one result of the current conference of the Dominion Prime Ministers in London at which this country is represented by the Minister for External Affairs. From him, particularly in his capacity as Chairman of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Australians expect much in these vital times. I cannot adequately express my admiration of the way in which the British people responded to the leadership of Mr. Winston Churchill and emerged from the worst days of the war. Mr. Churchill proved himself a great man in rallying the English people to withstand, practically singlehanded, the onslaught of the then victorious German army. Unfortunately, since that time Lord Beaverbrook, who, according to the Sunraysia Daily, is the coming world leader, has persuaded him that he will make a good conservative. For that reason, Winston Churchill has fallen in the estimation of not only the British people but also millions of people in other countries. He has now adopted a purely party political stand on world problems. That is most regrettable when we recall how magnificently he rose above party as the war-time leader of the British people. Such a change of heart in a man who so distinguished himself under the greatest difficulties is to be deplored. Some of his recent statements amount to nothing less than warmongering.
I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the great band of soldiers who fought the rearguard action at Dunkirk. I refer to the 51st Highland Division which really made possible the successful evacuation of the British army at Dunkirk. I made the acquaintance of many members of that great band of men in the prison camps of Germany where they were incarcerated for many years. We owe a great debt to those men and their brothers in arms, but we shall fail to discharge it if we close our eyes to the influences that are tending to plunge the world into another catastrophic war. I pay tribute also to the men who played such a great part in the defence. of England. When I first landed on English soil I saw thousands of soldiers who were armed only with pick-handles. As my companions and I passed through the town of Crewe we saw many of those men on duty, and they saluted us in true military style with pick-handles. They were ready to fight with, or without, proper weapons. They were ready to fight as Mr. Churchill urged them to do - in the fields, on the beaches, in the streets and in their homes. A nation of that character has something, far more valuable to offer to the world in its present distress than those who offer it only frothy ideologies.
I sincerely trust that the world will survive the present trying period in. its history. I have no doubt that the conference of Dominion Prime Ministers and representatives now sitting in London, will make a valuable contribution towards the solution of world unrest. I trust that the British Commonwealth of Nations will become more closely knit and acquire sufficient strength to arrest the present tragic drift towards war. I am certain that the common people in all countries abhor war. Our main problem is to understand the factors that . arn working in the direction of war. Until we do so we shall not be able to avert another catastrophe. However, I often think that we have only half-done the job, and that the forces we fought to destroy :in the recent war are now being given :too much play. The material needs of :human beings, regardless of the country in which they may live, dc not differ :greatly. However, there is a tragic disparity between the degrees to which the meeds of the peoples of various countries are being met. That is an offence to our common humanity. I deplore the inequalities that exist between sections qf the one community, particularly in Asiatic countries whose peoples are striving to achieve the self-determination which they were promised under the Atlantic Charter would be their share of victory for the allies in the recent war. We must honour our promises to those peoples. Gross anomalies exist in any society in -which the worker receives a basic wage of only £5 10s. a week, and the coal-miner a wage of £7 a week, whilst the successful stock-broker enjoys an income often as great as £100 a week. We have much levelling-up to do under conditions of that kind. The present unrest in the international sphere is but a reflection of the conflict that is gong on in society generally. Unless we recognize the factors which are responsible for the world’s present drift towards another war we shall not succeed in our task of world reconstruction. I again express the hope that from the current Conference of Dominion Prime Ministers in London and the present sittings of the
United Nations will emerge a solution of which mankind will find tolerance and ce-opera.tion.
– I congratulate the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Cameron) on the very informative statement which h, made to Hie Senate this afternoon in which he dealt comprehensively with the activities of the Postal Department. Of all public utilities the Postal Department was obliged to take the greatest strait during the recent war. However, despite that fact considerable progress has since been made by the department in its task of restoring services to normal and expanding its activities to mee the demands of a rapidly expanding economy. I doubt whether any other country with such vast and sparsely populated areas, enjoys greater postal, telephonic and telegraphic facilities as are provided in Australia. Nevertheless, although during the last three years there has been a very marked improvement, some of our areas are sadly in need of services of the kind rendered by the Postal Department. Abundant evidence of the work being performed “by the department is provided in the Estimates which shall shortly be placed before us for our consideration. I shall be interested to note the reaction of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan) to the statement made by the Postmaster-General. With his colleagues in the Opposition parties the honorable senator is constantly urging the Government to reduce the number of public servants. It must be obvious to them that if the Postal Department is to be enabled to render to the community the services to which it is entitled and enable it to progress, the department must first obtain the additional manpower it requires in such circumstances.
– I have only urged the Government to reduce the number of “ unemployed “ public servants.
– I shall answer that implication later. During the last twenty years the trend in all modern societies, particularly in democratic countries, has been for the State to accept an increasingly greater degree of responsibility for the welfare of the individual and that of the conan unity as a whole. If a government is not responsible for the welfare of humanity, of what use is it? This Government has taken action for the well being of those employed not only in the Postal Department but also in the Department of Health and the Department of Social Services. Our social services have reached a stage at which we can at least say that they are on a par with those of any other country. We have not reached our goal yet, but the Estimates show that the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) has done his best, year after year without respite, to implement the social services policy of the party which he so ably represents. Very few Australians, irrespective of their station in life, have not at one time or another had a good word to say for the humane spirit of this Government. In the light, of the development of these necessary services, it is futile for members of the Opposition to urge continually that the Public Service be reduced. As long as I can remember, the public servant has been regarded as “ fair game “ for anybody with a “ shanghai “. I do not deny that misfits find employment in the Public Service as well as in private enterprise.
– Some public servants become swollen headed.
– That is natural. Unfortunately, it is a failing common to all humanity. An examination of the needs of the country can lead to no other conclusion than that the size of the Public Service should be increased, instead of decreased. I was very pleased to hear Senator Nash speak strongly in defence of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. As he rightly said, the time has come for honorable senators to defend that body against unfair attacks. Very few people would deny that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research performs useful work essential to the development of the nation.
I shall refer now to one or two matters connected with the Estimates which may be termed “ hardy annuals “. The first is the large amount of money that the Commonwealth is called upon to pay each year in salaries and wages for the employment of temporary officers. As I have said, the tendency is’ for the number of public servants to increase rather than decrease. My comments may bring criticism from permanent public servants, but I say without fear of successful contradiction that the time for an overhaul of temporary employment in the Public Service is long overdue. Many temporary officers have rendered yeoman service to the Commonwealth. Thousands of permanent public servants have the right to claim special conditions and privileges by virtue of the fact that they entered government employment early in their lives. Nevertheless, I believe that, in their thoughtful moments, they will concede that the retention of many employees as temporary officers reduces the status of permanent officers. Temporary appointments provide a means of securing cheap labour. I disapprove of that. Almost every item of expenditure provided for in the Estimates includes an amount,, often totalling thousands of pounds, for the salaries of temporary officers. I suggest, with all respect to this good Government, that the situation ought to be reviewed in the near future. Many members of this Parliament and of previous parliaments have criticised the size of the Commonwealth’s annual bill for rented office accommodation. I know that at present there are very sound reasons why the Government cannot provide for the erection of new buildings. One of these, of course, is that labour for such projects is not available because there is no unemployment in Australia to-day. Nevertheless, it is regrettable that enormous sums of money are paid each year by the Government for leased premises. Many of the rentals charged are fabulous, yet public servants are often obliged to do the routine work of important departments in offices which could best be described as “ warrens “. This situation is discreditable both to the owners of the buildings and to the Government. I know that Senator O’Flaherty will bear out my statement that one often needs a city directory in order to locateCommonwealth offices in Adelaide.
– Hear, hear ! Half of them are almost impossible tofind.
– Even old residents of the city do not know where- many of them are. The same remark applies to Queensland and other States. The vast numbers of temporary public servants, and the huge bill for the renting of offices by Commonwealth departments, are two important aspects of government administration. Many temporary officers should be given permanent appointments, and suitable administrative blocks should be built as soon as possible in every part of the Commonwealth where government activities are carried on.
I refer now to certain activities of the Repatriation Commission. For some time past, I have been unhappy about the manner in which some State governments have been treating their obligations to ex-servicemen, particularly in connexion with land settlement schemes. The Commonwealth provides the funds needed for the land settlement of ex-servicemen, and the States are responsible for acquiring land on its behalf. I am not sure about the situation in all States, but in South Australia the anti-Labour State Government has established what is known as a Land Settlement Committee. [ have no quarrel with the membership of the committee, because it includes men who have a good knowledge of land and general conditions in South Australia. However, it has been a cumbersome instrumentality. I believe that the Government of South Australia has taken advantage of the situation for political purposes. The Land Settlement Committee, after inspecting areas of land in order to determine their suitability for closer settlement, reports to the Government, which then makes recommendations to the Commonwealth Government. The State Government has recommended the purchase of many blocks upon which the committee has made unanimous reports and of some blocks upon which the reports have not been unanimous. Divisions of opinion have occurred amongst members of the committee in many cases, and the State Government has accepted some majority reports without regard for the views of the minority. Had the Commonwealth Government not been “ put- wise “ to this situation, by honorable senators who represent South Australia, it would have been committed to deals involving many thousands of pounds more than the fair prices. The reports of the Land Settlement Committee have also been unnecessarily delayed, but the State Government tells exservicemen that the Commonwealth is responsible for that. It has not told the whole truth. Majority reports of th<committee recommending inflated price? have been rejected by the responsible Commonwealth Minister. In two case? at least he has agreed to purchase the land, but only at prices in keeping with its true value. I mention this aspect of the land settlement scheme in South Australia because I know what is happening and I know that, if the present rate of progress is maintained, some of the applicants for blocks will be using walking sticks before they can take possession of properties. I hope that these unnecessary delays will be carefully investigated and that the Commonwealth will take action to ascertain why the South Australian Government, at any rate, is holding out for the payment of prices far in excess of true values. It is doing that with the sole object of discrediting the Labour Government.
The next aspect of the re-establishment programme to which I wish to refer, is that of single unit farms. I have asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation a question on this matter, and I hope the reply will be that the Government is viewing the position sympathetically. In all States, many exservicemen who made early application for blocks of land under the land settlement scheme, are becoming disgusted at the delay, and are losing heart. Others have been able through family associations or through neighbours or friends to obtain suitable land. They have raised the necessary finance themselves for deposits and have entered into agreements with private companies. I contend that in cases in which the purchase price of those properties has been their true value, the Repatriation Department should take over the mortgages and allow the ex-servicemen concerned to reap the benefit of lower interest rates and better conditions generally. I admit that those men “ beat the gun “ and did not .wait for permits; but in South Australia particularly the Land Settlement Board has operated so slowly that most of the men have become impatient at the delay, and some of them have decided not to miss the opportunity to own a farm before they are too old.
I notice with pleasure the large sum of money that is provided in this measure for small business loans to ex-servicemen. Unfortunately there are some anomalies in that scheme such as the disproportionate allowance made for such businesses as delicatessens and cool-drink shops. Those loans are totally inadequate, and I hope that as the result of representations that I have made to the Minister on the matter, some adjustment will be made.
I note with interest the allocation of money for film censorship. This work has my full support. Any Government that endeavours to keep within the bounds of decency films and reading material that are brought into this country is to be commended. Unfortunately, some of the literature that has been freely circulated in the past, has obviously had the sole purpose of catering for the desires of certain individuals who enjoy sensationalism or have unwholesome sexual appetites. Failure to take strong measures to suppress undesirable films and literature can only have a sorry result in this country. I commend the Government for its interest in this matter, and hope that its good work will be continued.
I come now to a subject in which all lovers of nature are keenly interested. T refer to forestry. Wherever one goes to-day, one cannot fail to be alarmed at the inroads that have been made on our natural forests during the last twenty or thirty years. All over the Commonwealth, large areas have been denuded of every vestige of natural growth which, not many years ago, presented a pleasing appearance to the eye, and had a most beneficial effect on the productivity of the soil. In the lower rainfall areas particularly, the ruthless removal of trees has been responsible more than any other single factor, except perhaps overstocking, for the serious spread of soil erosion. I hope that the day is not far distant when we shall follow the example of other nations more tree-minded than ourselves, and insist that whenever a tree is removed, two shall be planted to replace it.
– That should be a Commonwealth matter. It is a State responsibility now, and, of course, the Opposition would again advise the people to vote “ No “ if a referendum were’ held on a transfer of authority to the Commonwealth.
– I have no doubt that in the light of world conditions, there will be many powers that the people of this country will want the National Parliament to take over in the next twelve months.
No activity could be more important to Australia than the conservation of water. It is remarkable indeed how rapidly the ravages of drought destroy the productive capacity of this country. South Australia has been blessed by merciful providence with three or four good seasons in succession. This year, however, until rain fell at the beginning of this week, the position was becoming serious. In many parts of the State where, twelve months ago, stock was in first-class condition, and crops were among the best in history, cattle and . sheep were dying and there was little prospect of any harvest at all. I mention that to illustrate how rapidly thepicture can change, in South Australia.. This applies also, of course, to the other States, with the exception of the narrow strip of country adjoining the coast. When one journeys through the country and sees fine rivers, one cannot help but wonder whether the best use is being made of the water that is available. In South Australia, millions of gallons of Murray River water, flows into the sea every year. With the exception of the fruit-growing river settlements around Renmark and Berri, the dairying lands further down the river, and the Mount Morgan- Whyalla pipe line which is such a godsend to the people of Whyalla, littlehas been done to conserve water. I sincerely trust that before I cease to be a member of this Senate there will be a vast improvement in our water conservation schemes.
I also note, in passing, the sum of money that is being allocated to the States for irrigation work, but I sound one note of warning about a venture which I see assuming considerable prominence- in this country. I refer to the growing of rice. Every one who has seen the Narrandera and Griffith irrigation areas recently must be struck by the spread of this activity. As every one knows, thi9 cereal requires a tremendous amount of water, and I doubt very much whether it can be grown economically in this country. I should like to think that I am wrong, but when I see the swamped rice fields - the natural condition for rice growing - I am very dubious about the ultimate result of the project. So far this project has been confined to relatively small areas. T. have no doubt that there are other lands in the Commonwealth that are just as suitable; but the drain on our water supplies would be tremendous. I speak subject to correction, but I believe that no commodity which could be grown in this country requires greater quantities of water; yet in no country is less attention paid to water conservation than in Australia.
The Government is to be congratulated upon the presentation of such a sound budget, particularly in view of the unsettled state of international affairs. We on this side of the chamber are all followers and admirers of the Labour Government, but that does not necessarily mean that we shall support blindly every detail of expenditure that is set out in the Estimates. I propose therefore to reserve my further remarks on the budget until the Estimates are before us, when I shall refer to, and if necessary, criticise, some items of proposed expenditure.
– The budget is a true reflection of Australia’s prosperous economic condition, which, I believe, is due to the ability of our leader, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and his cabinet, and to the solidarity of the Labour party. Provision is made for increased expenditure on essential undertakings such as shipbuilding, the construction of homes, and the erection of new public buildings, including post offices. In addition, pensions and other social services payments are to be increased. All this proves conclusively that the Government is pursuing a policy which will benefit the people of Australa as a whole. Of -course, no budget can suit , every.body. Budgets presented by the La,bean
Government have been consistently criticized by the Opposition parties. I am not referring particularly to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber (Senator O’Sullivan), or to his colleague Senator Rankin; but to the Opposition in the House of Representatives. Members of that Opposition cannot see any good in a Labour budget. Of course, the success that has attended the Labour Government’s administration is most unpalatable to them. Just what benefits are provided in this budget ? First, taxes are being reduced substantially. In some instances, the reduction is 100 per cent., whilst, on the higher incomes, it ranges from 20 per cent, to 30 per cent. The sales tax on clothing and basic foodstuffs has been removed altogether. Ninety per cent, of all building materials are exempt from sales tax. This is of great benefit to the people generally.
– Building costs have doubled in the last twelve months.
– I remind the honorable senator that when the parties of which he is a supporter occupied the treasury bench in this Parliament, there was a grave shortage of homes and £20,000,000 to be expended, but nothing was done. In Canberra, alone there was a shortage of 2,000 houses, but few were built. 1 wish to deal particularly with immigration, which to-day is a huge project. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) is doing excellent work. In this country, there is a shortage of labour in all trades, and this is hampering home construction. The immigration to Australia of thousands of skilled tradesmen Ls contributing substantially to a solution «f this problem. Supplies of all building materials including timber, bricks, cement, roofing iron and roof tiles are being increased. Immigrants are assisting in the production of essential goods which for some years have been in short supply an Australia. They are helping to hew timber, and to build homes. There is a shortage of roofing and tiles throughout Australia, although in some States there is .almost a sufficiency of these materials, particularly in Western Australia. Immigrants also helped to save a big proportion of our fruit crop. Nine hundred immigrants who were placed in the sugar industry were of great assistance to it.
– I agree with chat statement.
– Had those men not been available, the sugar crop would have been ruined. The employment of immigrants has also made it possible to overtake arrears in railway construction work. Australia to-day has a higher standard of living than any other country in the world and those people from overseas should be glad to be here. Some immigrants who come here say that they are not satisfied with Australia. My reaction to that is that we should let them go back again to where they came from. However, 99 per cent, of immigrants like this country and remain here. I know of several immigrants who came to my own district in Western Australia and soon wanted to return. They did so, but they were away only about six months when they were glad to come back to the same district. Speeches made over the air and published in the press from time to time are. designed to poison the minds of the people of Australia in regard to immigration. There is only one word to describe some of the statements made over radio stations, and that word is “filthy”. I heard a man speaking over the air recently whom I would willingly have shot if I had had a gun and been near him, because of the filth he uttered. Such filth concerning immigration indicates that there is some sinister object behind it. This filth is being uttered constantly in the hope that the people will come to the conclusion that immigrants do not like being in Australia under a Labour Government. Australia was once in a bad way, but the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has put it in a better position than ever before. No other country in the world has so much to be thankful for as Australia has to-day. We in this country have opportunities which we have never had before. We have no unemployment, or practically none, and everybody should be comfortable and without fear. The people have a good Government to fight for them. Recently I saw a newspaper report in which a former Treasurer, the Right Honorable R. G. Casey, is stated to have referred to the growth of communism in Australia. Talk of communism is the only weapon that the Opposition parties and their supporters have for use against the Labour Government, which incidentally likes Communists just as little as does the Opposition. Mr. Casey is reported to have said - “ We will deal with these Communists in our own way when we get into power at the next Federal election “.
I do not know why he used the word “ next “, because the more the Opposition continues with such propaganda the more it injures itself. Now, take the post Office-
– You can take the one in Brisbane any time.
– I can recall when a government formed from the parties now in Opposition was in power, and talked about a post office in Brisbane but did nothing about it. At least the Brisbane people now have a promise. They had promises from a previous antiLabour Government, but the work never got beyond the stage of plans and specifications. Since the present Government came into power the people of Western Australia, thanks to the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Cameron), have gained many post offices they did not have before. Admittedly, there is a lag in the provision of telephones but the people affected by it understand the position and realize that it is not the fault of the Government. Senator Critchley spoke this evening about water conservation and irrigation. No one is more concerned about such matters than I am. On many occasions while I was a member of the State Parliament of Western Australia I spoke about the need for conserving water and to-day in that State, thanks to the Australian Government, a large amount of money is being expended for that purpose. During the recent tour of the parliamentary party through Queensland, I found that primary producers everywhere were asking for more water conservation and irrigation and saying that if they had it they would never look back.
Turning to what the Government has done for primary producers, which is a question that- many people do not consider, I remind honorable senators that during the war, when primary producers were unable to obtain manures and seeds for wheat, the present Government paid them certain sums of money per acre to keep ‘ them on the land. I have been told, and I believe it is true, that South Australia refused to accept these amounts but after large sums of money had been paid out by the Australian Government to farmers in Western Australia and other States the Government of South Australia was “ wild “ because it had not accepted such payments. Many farmers in other States received large sums from the Government because they were unable to sow crops.
The policy of the Opposition is to arouse fear in the minds of the people, tt does nothing else. Its tactics may be asociated with the letter “f»_“f » for fear and “f” for filth. There is also “a” for communism. Filth, fear and communism are the weapons used by the Opposition to try to cripple the Labour party, but the more it tries the more it gets into trouble. It reminds me of a man in a quicksand - the further he gets in the harder he finds it to get out. Recently, Mr. L. J. Hartlett, who is well known to honorable senators opposite because of his association with General Motor,:-Holden’s Limited, said in a press interview on his return from a trip abroad that Australia was beter off than any other country in the world to-day.
Seven years ago when the present Government took office, about £17,000,000 was being expended on social services compared with £88,000,000 to-day. That is clear proof that the Government is going ahead by leaps and bounds in the right direction. T can recall that there was an uproar when a budget of £100,000,000 was introduced in this Parliament. Many honorable senators in those days were surprised by that figure, but they would bc more surprised to-day by the amount that the Govern mr>T,t has made available for social services. The Government has given security to the people that they have never had before. Many people in Australia ;n the past did not know from day to day when they were going to bp out of work. To-day they have security and nothing to worry about. I well remember that when I was a young man in Western Australia, collections were being taken up to assist unfortunate people, perhaps for the purpose of helping a widow and children whose bread-winner had died, or for the purpose cf providing the cost of burying somebody. Those days are gone. Only recently the Prime Minister, speaking in another place said that he hoped to be able to do even more to provide security for the people.
During my term in the State Parliament of Western Australia I found that many people would not collect their pensions in the suburb in which they lived, because they did not want their neighbours to know that they were receiving a pension. I always said that I would not be ashamed to collect a pension in a suburb in which I lived, and I shall not be ashamed to do so should the necessity arise. I always give praise to the people who work for social security and plan ahead so that they can make provision for the people of Australia. In that respect I praise the members of the present Government, and its leader in the Senate. I shall not wait until the, have passed away to say what good fellows they have been; I new give them the praise they deserve. To appreciate Australia’s prosperity to-day, one has only to examine the balance sheets of various firms. Those firms are making big profits, but that does not prevent them from always complaining that they are not making enough. The first remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. McEwen), on landing in Western Australia recently were -
Is the Chifley Government copying Britain or the United States? No! lt is copying Russia, and we don’t want the Russian system here.
Any man who makes a statement like that knows perfectly well that he is telling an untruth. He knows from the bottom of his heart that it is not true. Time and time again the Labour party has made it clear that it stands behind the British people. The Labour Government has also made it clear that it wants as many British people as possible to nome to Australia.
I agree with Senator Nash’s remarks about the education of children and their visits to the various States to enable them to gain a knowledge of Australia. Some time ago, a book called Know Australia was issued by the Department of Information. Only one edition of the book was printed, which is to be regretted, because the publication was most interesting. At the time I suggested to the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) that many more copies should be printed and distributed amongst school children. I also commend to the Government the suggestion made by Senator Nash that facilities should be provided to enable school children to attend schools in other States. After all, we have for years past exchanged school teachers with the United Kingdom, and there is no reason why school children should not be permitted to attend schools in States other than their own.
I turn now to a consideration of the provision made in the bill for the encouragement of the shipbuilding industry. I have always advocated that a strong shipbuilding industry should be established in this country. Establishment of the industry on a proper scale would provide employment for many men and would also furnish office employment for a large number of women. Because Australia is an island continent it is naturally adapted to shipbuilding, and the success of the limited shipbuilding operations already undertaken in this country demonstrates that we can build vessels equal to any in the world. As an indication of the progress that has been made I need only mention that today vessels of up to 10,000 tons are being built at Whyalla, which only a few years ago was a small seaside town. Now it is a thriving shipbuilding centre. Construction of three naval destroyers is about to be undertaken at Cockatoo Island navy shipbuilding yard, Sydney, and three additional destroyers are to be built at Williamstown navy shipbuilding yard in Victoria. A substantial tonnage of merchant shipping is also under construction in various States.. Two large shipbuilding yards are operating in Queensland. At the yard of Evans Deakin, Brisbane, a vessel of 6,000 tons is being constructed, and other tonnage is also being constructed at the yard of
Walkers Limited, Maryborough. In New South Wales a vessel of 3,000 tons is being constructed at the State shipbuilding yards, Newcastle, whilst at Mort’s Dock, Sydney, four vessels of 4,000 tons each are in course of construction. At Whyalla in South Australia four vessels of a total tonnage of 12,500 tons are to be built. Whilst I am more than pleased at the progress made in the establishment of the shipbuilding industry in Australia, I regret that nothing has been done to establish a dock at Fremantle, which the former Prime Minister, the late Mr John Curtin, so often advocated. I am convinced that ships could be built in Western Australia at least equal to any constructed in any other part of the continent. I do not propose to say anything: further at present. I shall have more to say when the proposed appropriations for the various departments are being considered.
Debate (on. motion by Senator Arnold) adjourned.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian National Airlines Act - Third Annual Report and Financial Accounts, by the Australian National Airlines Commission, for year 1.047-48.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Balance-sheets of Commonwealth Bank and Commonwealth Savings Bank as at 30th June, 1948; together with Auditor-General’s reports thereon.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of Shipping and. Fuel - A. G. Bayly, H. G. Chesterman,. J. R. Collins, E. R.’Curtin. R. S. Faulkner, A. G. Maxwell, C. T. Shepherd.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act -
National Security (Liquid Fuel) Regulations - Order - 1048, No.. 1.
National Security (Prices) Regulations - Orders- Nos. 3409-3413.
Control of new commercial motor vehicles.
Control of new motor cars.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1048, Nos. 124, 127.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes -
Bellevue Hill, New South Wales.
Meat Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 123.
Papua-New- Guinea Provisional Administration Act - Ordinance - 1048 - No. 8- - Supply (No. 2) 1048-40.
Re-establishment and Employment Act - Regulations- Statutory Rules 1948, No. 130.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government- (Administration ) Act - Council of the Soil Conservation Service of the Australian Capital Territory - First Annual Report and Statement of Receipts and Expenditure, for year 1047-48.
Senate adjourned at 9.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 October 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1948/19481013_senate_18_198/>.