18th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3. p.m., and read: prayers.
– In viewof the ex treme shortage ‘of petrol, will the Minister for Shipping and’ Fuel’ give further consideration to the consumption of petrol by Tiger Moth aircraft at weekends and the apparent profligate use of fuel for motor boat racing?
– This matter has already been surveyed, and. petrol allowances for motor boats and aircraft have been reduced on a scale comparable with the reductions applied to other consumers.
Reconstruction Training Scheme : Workers’ Compensation
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction whether it is true that ex-servicemen undergoing reestablishment training are not covered by workers’ compensation laws while they are at work or going to and. from work? If they are not covered, willthe Minister discuss the matter, with the. Minister for Labour and National Service with a view to having the provisions of workers’ compensation acts applied to them ?
– I am not familiar with the facts that underlie’ the honorable senator’s question. An exserviceman undergoing post-war reconstruction training as a trainee certainly would not be an, employee of the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth would have no obligation to him. in respect of workers’ compensation in the event of his being injured. I understand that the law relating to payment of workers’ compensation for injuries sustained while a man is travelling between his home and his place of work varies from State to State. I shall ascertain the facts by referring the honorable senator’s question to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction,, and. will advise the honorable senator of the result in due course.
Frequency Modulation - Television
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether it is a fact that the Australian Federation of Commercial
Broadcasting Stations submitted a proposal that it be permitted to install and operate two experimental frequency modulation broadcasting stations through Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited? If so, what happened with regard to this proposal?
– I have no knowledge of any such proposal, but I shall make inquiries and advise the honorable senator in due course.
– On the 13th October, Senator Murray asked the following question: -
In view of the proposed introduction of television to Australia in the near future, will ihe Postmaster-General make inquiries about 1 new transmission development in Hollywood, United States of America, called “ Phonovision”? Is the Minister aware that it is claimed that this new development will enable i person to pick up a telephone and dial in in a movie which will be transmitted with sound to a special 4-in. by 5-in. screen over ordinary telephone wires and thus enjoy a fireside film in his own home?
I have now obtained the following’ information : -
No decision has been reached by the Government concerning the introduction into Australia of television, but further consideration will be given to the matter in the light of the tenders which are received by the Postal Department for the supply of equipment for monochrome broadcast television transmissions in Sydney and Melbourne and, alternatively, in the six State capital cities. The tenders close on the 20th January, 1949. The department has been watching closely reports from the United States of America regarding the development by an equipment manufacturing company of a technique styled “ Phonevision “ for utilizing telephone facilities to enable television programmes to be received on special receivers installed in subscribers’ premises. Up to the present, however, according to the latest advices received, the matter has not progressed beyond the experimental stage and the practicability of the system has not been determined. Prom the information available, it would seem that the “ Phonevision “ ‘ system covers reception over the air of television programmes but that the pictures on the screen will not have complete definition and clarity until a telephone connexion is made with the subscriber’s premises. It is not known, however, whether the telephone companies and motion picture interests are willing to participate in the scheme. Officers of the Postal Department who are now visiting- America will investigate the latest developments iii connexion with television, and honorable senators may be assured that the new “ Phonevision “ technique will be covered by their inquiries.
Will the Minister have a statement prepared indicating to the Senate what effect Britain’s long-term agreement with certain western European powers is likely to have on Australia’s commitments to the United Kingdom, and our allegiance in any defence alliance?
As promised, I have discussed the matter with the Acting Minister for External Affairs, who has advised me that the question the honorable senator raised is being discussed by the British Commonwealth representatives who are at present meeting in London. It has been difficult to assess the full effect of the Western Union agreement on relationships between the United Kingdom and Australia, but the Government will be in a better position to judge how Australia is likely to be affected after the completion of the current informal discussions.
– Will the. Minister representing the Minister for the Navy urge that an investigation be made of the potentialities of Mourilyan Harbour, a few miles north of Innisfail? Apart from trading possibilities, this splendid land-locked port appears to offer a firstclass sanctuary for naval vessels. This, to my mind, would make the port much more important in view of the possibility of war in the not-distant future.
-I shall ask the Minister for the Navy to supply the information that the honorable senator seeks. I have some knowledge of the country in the vicinity of Mourilyan Harbour, and some familiarity with the port itself. I have no doubt that the Navy has already given very complete consideration to the development of this harbour as a sanctuary for naval vessels, and for defence purposes.
– Some development would have taken place had the war not ended when it did.
– That may be. I am not acquainted with the naval view of the matter, but I shall refer the honorable senator’s suggestion to the Minister for the Navy.
Motion (by Senator Clothier) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for our. month be granted to Senator Fraser on account of urgent private business.
– Has the Minister for Health read the report in yesterday’s Brisbane Courier-Mail that tuberculosis rests of 20S university students in Queensland were cancelled because no serum was available in Brisbane? Will the. Minister ensure that supplies of this necessary serum shall be available in Brisbane, when required for tuberculosis tests ?
– I did not see the report to which the honorable senator refers, but my attention was directed to it yesterday by some members of the press, f am endeavouring to ascertain whether the serum is required for tuberculosis tests. If so, I shall take steps to ensure that, it shall be made available. I understand that the university students ure submitting themselves to tests for the purpose of scientific research and observation. It is excellent work on their part, and I shall do my best to ensure that the tests shall not be interrupted by any shortage of sera, vaccines, or other products.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel whether a special conference was held in Sydney this morning- in an endeavour to settle the Kemeira tunnel dispute on the southern coal-fields. If so, is the Minister disposed to make a statement on the result of the conference?
– A conference wa.< to be held in Sydney to-day, but I have not yet been advised of its result. 1 understand that the parties to the dispute - the miners’ federation, the Australian Workers Union, and, I think, the Australian Council of Trades Unions - were to meet early this morning in an endeavour to reach a solution of the problem. As soon as I am advised of the result of the conference I shall be happy to provide the information that the honorable senator seeks.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. upon notice - ls it a fact that the l039-4r> Star will be issued in the near future? If so, will the Minister consider the question of establishing the eligibility of the ground staff of the Royal Australian Air Force, who served in England during the war, for receipt of the star?
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer : -
A commencement has already been made with the issue of the 1939-45 Star and other campaign stars. As to the question of eligibility of -members of the ground staff of the Royal Australian Air Force who served in the United Kingdom during the war, it is pointed out that these members are eligible for the award of the Defence and War Medal 1939-45. With regard to the 1939-45 Star, the honorable senator’s attention is invited to the fact that the award of campaign stars is part of an Empire scheme. When the Commonwealth Government originally put forward its reservation that the United Kingdom should be regarded as an operational area for the 1939-45 Star, the United Kingdom Government replied that if this reservation were accepted, it would be almost impossible to withhold the extension of the star to the great number of troops, &c, stationed in the United Kingdom who took part in the defence of that country inone way or another,and that such extension would deprive the star of its value as an operational award. The United Kingdom Government alsopointedout that the proposal would involve the award of the star to large numbers of United Kingdom forces who had gone overseas from Great Britain to non-operationalareas, such as India and West Africa, and added that the conclusionhad therefore been reached that the best solution wouldbea medal rather than a star, and that with these considerations in mind the proposal for a. Defence Medal was put forward. Further representations were subsequently made to the United Kingdom on the matter it being pointed out that failure to accept the Australian reservation would operate unjustly in the case of the Australian forces, in that those who were stationed in the United Kingdom throughout the greater portion of the war and who voluntarily enlisted for overseas service would thereby be excluded from any operational award. The United Kingdom Government replied that the question had been considered on a number of occasions, but that the conclusion had been reached that it would not be possible to recommend the award ofa campaign star for service in the United Kingdom, and that such service could best be recognized by the award of the Defence Medal. The United Kingdom Government mentioned that further consideration bad been given to the position of non-aircrew personnel of operational commands whohad served in Great Britain, but that it bad been felt that since the existing scheme had been published for a considerable time any such extension of the award of the star might have too adverse an effect on the value of campaign stars in the eyes of the services and the public. In view of the apparent difficulties of implementing the Australian reservation, and bearing in mind the fact that’ service in the United Kingdom would qualify for both the Defence Medal and the War Medal, the Government, on the recommendation of its service advisers, agreed to withdraw the reservation. It is felt that no good purpose would be served by re-opening the matter with the United Kingdom Government at this late stage.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
SenatorCOURTICE.- The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
Deliveries during -
Financial year (i.e..year ended 30th June) -
Because of the irregular shipping service, particularly from Sydney to Hobart, Tasmania has been given priority in the allocation of refined sugar when shipping space could be made available. In consequence, Tasmanians have fared better during recent years than consumers inNew South Wales, Victoria or South Australia.
SenatorCRITCHLEY asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
What quantity of wheat from the 1947- 48 crap has been exported to date?
What quantity has still to be exported?
What quantity has been retained in Australia for (a) human consumption, and (b) stock food?
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers: - 1.Exports from the 1st December, 1947, to the 1st October, 1.948, total 119,000,000 bushels of wheat and flour in terms of wheat.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answers : -
Australian girls to whom the agreement ap plied and who have returned to Australia are eligible for the grant of passports to enable them to proceed abroad on exactly the same conditions as apply to other applicants for passports.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -
– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has supplied the following answers: -
FORCED Landing of Aircraft “ Kanaka “.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
In view of the magnificent record of civil airlines in this country, and of the unfortunate crash landing near Yass of an Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited airliner with 27 passengers and a crew of throe, will the Minister inform the Senate -
Whether the extra, load of six passengers would have any effect on an aircraft designed o carry 21 passengers?
Whether the safety precautions are based in an aircraft’s capacity when brand new, or after it has flown many thousands of miles i nd perhaps had a number of heavy landings?
Whether the court of inquiry which will investigate the accident will look into the possibilities of crystallization taking place in the cylinder walls in engines that are called upon to do an enormous amount of work on civil airlines?
How often Australian National Airways Proprietory Limited overhaul their aircraft before allowing them to bc used for flight purposes?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Will tile Minister inform the Senate - (a) Whether it is now possible to divert some of the Navy docking work to Colmslie in Brisbane, upon which the Queensland State Government spent about £1.000,000 during the war: (6) whether any Navy work has been done at Colmslie during the last financial year; if not, why not?
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answers : -
The Colmslie establishment was constructed by the Department of the Navy for the repair and maintenance of small craft. Refitting is still being carried out there. It is .presumed, however, that the dock referred to is the Cairncross Dock on the construction of which the Commonwealth Government in addition to the Queensland Government spent a considerable sum. Prior to the recent war, all naval refitting work was done at Sydney with a comparatively small number of personnel who were regularly employed on this work. During the war, however, the capacity of the naval base at Sydney was of necessity increased at great cost to the Commonwealth and naval facilities were also established at Williamstown, Victoria, where they are being maintained and developed as an addition to naval facilities at Sydney. It is, therefore, essential chat naval refitting work, which has, of course, greatly decreased since hostilities ceased, should be allocated to these two ports, so that a. reasonable nucleus of personnel trained in the use of existing facilities may be available in an emergency, and in order to provide continuity of employment for these specially trained personnel.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Treasury annually in interest and sinking funds for the debits taken over from Tasmania at the time the Commonwealth took over the State loan debts? 11.If the information for the whole of the questions is not obtainable, will the Treasury supply what information is available for the financial years 1946-47 and 1947-48?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Commonwealth Electoral Act -Report, with maps, by the commissioners appointed for the purpose of re-distributing the Stateof Victoria into electoral divisions.
Ordered to be printed.
Debate resumed from the 13th October (vide page 1508), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the bill be now read a first time.
Senator ARNOLD (New South Wales) [3.47’J. - One of the most significant features of the bill is the indication which it furnishes of the remarkable prosperity that Australia is enjoying. In the last it’ll years our national income has almost doubled, with the result that much greater revenues are flowing into the Treasury and are available for expenditure for a larger number of .purposes ih:in ever before. I say at once that, in my opinion, the statement placed before the Senate indicates that those revenues have been wisely distributed. It also expresses the Government’s determination to provide real security for our people. The Government proposes to achieve that first; by providing economic security, and secondly by providing adequate military security.
In the course of the speech which I made last week on the Social Services Consolidation Bill I pointed out that during the six years in which Labour has been in office, it has endeavoured to implement a complete plan of social security. When it assumed office it found t.hat, the existing social services bore no relation to the actual needs of the people, find it determined to remedy that state nf affairs by providing social services on a proper plan, proportionate to, and adequate for, the needs of the people. First, the Government set up an allparty committee which presented a number of reports to this Parliament. Many of its recommendations have been translated into reality by the Government. The committee declared that the two most important hazards which the Aus.tralian people faced were unemployment and ill health, and it suggested that the Government should accept, as a responsibility of the nation, the care of every Australian who fell a victim to unemployment or sickness. Such a move had never previously been attempted in any part of the world, and it was asking a great deal that the Australian Government should take the initiative. I am very proud that the Government measured up to that challenge andhaving adopted a far-reaching social services policy, has pursued it both within Australia and in the councils of th,United Nations. Its representatives ad vocated it so vehemently that the policy of full employment has been written into the Charter of the United Nations. We in this Parliament must maintain the standard for which others have striven and which we consider to be vital to the peoples of the world. I am proud that the Australian Government is leading the governments of other countries in this matter and has said to our people, “ We will take the responsibility of providing you with employment and of caring for you in times of sickness so that you will always be provided with at least a minimum standard of sustenance “. I could enlarge on the many accomplishments of the Government in the field of social services, but its record of humane legislation on behalf of the aged, the invalid, widows, sufferers from tuberculosis and others is well known to all -Australians.
One part of the plan of social improvement which I hope will be carried into effect in the near future provides for a national health scheme. The Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) has already announced in this chamber that the Government intends soon to present a scheme of this nature to the Parliament. 1” applaud the Government’s intention very sincerely, and I shall welcome the bill when it is introduced. I am somewhat apprehensive of the attitude of the medical profession towards’ the plan, but I believe that doctors must eventually realize that it will be in the best interests of the people. The doctors must be influenced by the fact that governments of other countries are working along similar lines and that the all-party committee recommended, without political prejudice, that a national health scheme should be established, in the interests of the people, with a salaried medical service. I know that such a proposal suggests nationalization or socialization to some people and that odium often attaches to employment in the government service. However, having heard a great deal of evidence on this subject and studied developments in New Zealand, Great Britain and other countries, I have no hesitation in saying to the people, and to the medical profession in particular, that a national health scheme must be based on a salaried medical service if it is to be thoroughly effective. The New
Zealand scheme encountered many difficulties and experience there showed that the creation of a salaried medical service would have resolved many of the problems which interfered with its prospects of success in the early stages. I hope that the Government’s scheme will be introduced into this Parliament in the near future.
I turn now to consideration of the military aspect of national security because my colleagues have already dealt comprehensively with social security. I am prompted to refer to the Government’s defence plans by the remarks made by Senator Clothier recently on the subject of shipbuilding. The honorable senator pointed out that great advances have been made .in the shipbuilding industry in Australia during the last five or six years. In 1941, facilities for the construction of ships in Australia were almost nonexistent. When Japan entered the war, it became obvious that Australia would be cut off from British aid and would have to fall back on its own resources. The Australian Shipbuilding Board was constituted in that year, and it has continued to function ever since. Wonderful progress has been made in a few years. Shipbuilding is in progress in nearly every State. In 1941, Queensland was ill-equipped to deal with ship repair and construction work. However, the engineering firm of Evans Deakin and Company Limited responded to a request made by the government of the day and undertook a shipbuilding programme. I mention the name of the firm publicly because I consider that any organization that has served the nation deserves acknowledgment of its work by public men. The company undertook a task that was entirely strange to it, but to-day it is engaged on the construction of four G,000ton ships for the Australian Government. That is no mean task. The firm showed a- large measure of courage and enterprise in entering the field of shipbuilding during the war, when skilled labour and machinery were scarce, and it deserves the praise of the Government and the gratitude of the people. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited also has made great strides in the shipbuilding industry in South Australia. It has con- verted an area of land at Whyalla that was almost desert into a prosperous township which is a credit to the company. The organization has become highly proficient in the building of ships and it recently launched and commissioned a vessel of 12,500 tons. Thus, in a few years, Australia has become capable of constructing vessels of almost any size or type. One notable advancement in the industry was carried out by the Department of Munitions. One of our greatest difficulties was the provision of engines for the ships that were made in this country. First, the department overcame the problem of manufacturing steam engines. Then it attacked the problem of constructing diesel engines. This is highly skilled work, but it has been’ tackled under the capable guidance of Mr. Jensen, and Australia can now look forward to the building of high-powered Doxford diesel engines with which our ships can be equipped. A great deal of credit is due to everybody connected with these developments.
I have been surprised to hear criticism of the Government’s defence plans by members of the Opposition in this chamber and the House of Representatives. Their attitude reminds me of events that occurred ten years ugo when I was engaged in an election campaign. I remember the very earnest pleas that were made by the then leader of the Opposition, the late Mr. John Curtin, for more active preparations for the war that was obviously imminent. The Labour party was very sincere in its desire to awaken the government of the day to Australia’s danger, and the late Mr. Curtin tried to impress upon it the desirability of establishing a strong air force. Unfortunately, the people returned an anti-Labour government which was not fully conscious of the importance of providing for national defence. Then, as time passed, two supporters of that Government in the House of Representatives became so alarmed by its neglect of defence plans that they transferred their allegiance to the Labour party, which thereupon came into power. I well recall the day when Mr. Coles, the former member for Henty, rose in the House of Representatives and declared his intention to transfer his support from the then United Australia party to the Labour party. If ever a man had sincerity written on his face, Mr. Coles had it on that occasion, and I believe that to him Australia owes much. To-day, the same people who failed this country in its hour of need - certainly they use a different name, and fortunately for Australia, they are fewer in number - are telling the people that they cannot expect a Labour government to provide adequately for the defence of this country. It is probable that under wise Labour leadership, this country has reached such a condition of prosperity that two or three years of rule by a Liberal government could not entirely destroy what has been achieved.
– I agree. Perhaps, even in that short space of time a Liberal government could have the affairs of this nation back in the appalling state in which Labour found them when it asSumed office in 1941.
– The people df Tasmania showed at the last elections that they were awake.
– Yes. The Tasmanian people are wise, and I am sure that Australian citizens generally have had enough of governments of that ilk.
I shall deal briefly with our international relations. I am disturbed at the prospect - and for this information I am relying mainly on press reports - that Australia may be a participant in the proposed Western Union in Europe. I have said that I ‘believe that Australia should rely on the principles of the United Nations. Australia has played no small part in the affairs of the United Nations organization. We have made our mark in many ways at its various meetings. For instance, the principle of full employment was adopted largely as a result of the efforts of Australian representatives. Australian delegates have made lasting impressions upon the various councils, and to-day, Australia is honoured to have its representative as President of the General Assembly. That is a remarkable tribute to a country so small in numbers as Australia is, but it emphasizes the greatness of the man that we have chosen to represent us at international gatherings. I gather from reports that the Western Union is being formed for mutual protection. Protection against whom ? The world appears to be divided into three distinct groups, the United States of America, the Soviet Union and the Western Union of European nations. Ostensibly, the Western Union is being formed for protection against Soviet Russia. If the abject is to resist aggression one can only approve. I am sure that Australia is most anxious to assist any move to resist aggression, but I am afraid that aggression sometimes takes a peculiar form. I should strongly resist any move to tie this country to a union which had, as its object, aggression against Soviet Russia or the making of war in Europe. Australia’s rightful place is in the Pacific region. We are surrounded by 1,000,000,000 Asiatics, some of whom are under the domination of European nations. Participation in the proposed Western Union might mean that Australia, as an ally of, say, Holland, would he called upon to make war upon Indonesia. Our destiny lies in the southwest Pacific area, and I have no doubt that the struggles of certain native peoples in that area will become more and more pronounced. One can only have sympathy for the people of Malaya. Indonesia, Burma, India, and other nations, but can we claim that we have done everything possible for them? Whether we have or not, we cannot, as a democratic people, restrain other nationals from seeking independence and self-government. Surrounded as we are by such a preponderance of Asiatic people, I believe that it would be dangerous for Australia to ally itself with other colonial powers which at any time may antagonize or make war upon nations with which we have to live in the coming years. We should set an example in thi? area. We are the only white people in the South-West Pacific region, and we should give leadership to the people of surrounding countries. We should endeavour to foster goodwill amongst those peoples. Whether we like it or not. we must take our place as the leaders in the South-West Pacific Area. I believe that our only hope is to insist upon the observance of the principles of the United
Nations organization. Those principles were established in time of great stress. They are principles that any nation should be willing to accept and to support. On that, and on that alone, the safety of this nation depends.
– I rise to tell the Senate and the people of Australia something of the work of the Broadcasting Committee, about which much was said when the Estimates for the Parliament, and for the Postmaster-General’s Department, were before the Committee of Supply of the House of Representatives a fortnight ago. I listened with great interest to that debate, and I heard some astounding statements. The debate was opened by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang), who referred at length to the secretary of the committee, Mr. Groves. Although the honorable member for Reid admitted that he did not know Mr. Groves, he had the temerity to say that Mr. Groves wrote ill I the committee’s reports. It would be hard to find in this country a man more capable of carrying out the duties of secretary of a parliamentary committee than is Mr. Groves, but there is no truth in the statement that members of the committee themselves were not capable of making decisions, and had to depend upon the secretary. I assure the Senate that the decisions reached by the Broadcasting Committee were taken after exhaustive consideration of the evidence that had been tendered to it, and after the views of members of the committee had been voiced. Upon those decisions reports have been prepared and presented to the Parliament. No doubt the honorable member for Reid, in the interests of Mr. Paddison, would like to see the committee disbanded. It is well known in radio circles that Mr. Paddison and Mr. Moses demanded that the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), who is overseas at present, should use his influence to rid broadcasting in this country of the Broadcasting Committee. Speakers who followed the honorable member for Reid, including Mr. Harrison-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - Order! The honorable senator must not refer to members of the
House of Representatives by name. He may refer to them only by their constituencies.
– It was claimed thai the terms of reference of the Broadcasting Committee did not include an investigation of frequency modulation. Thai argument was advanced, not only by tinActing Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison), but also by the honorable member for Parramatta (M”r. Beale). The latter claimed that the Broadcasting Committee was a “ howling publicscandal “. He said also that he had seen members of the public waiting outside the Cabinet room in the Commonwealth Bank Building, Sydney, to give evidence to the committee. I point out that thipractice of the committee is to notify witnesses of the time that they will be required to give evidence, and the place of meeting. Consequently, witnesses are not kept waiting. Accurate information regarding the committee’s work on television and frequency modulation could have been given by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden), both of whom were members of the committee when the investigation.were made, and signed the committee’” .- report on that work. In fact the report was unanimous. It recommended that there should be set up in each capital city a frequency modulation transmitter to make experimental broadcasts which would enable the radio trade to obtain some knowledge of the requirements of frequency modulation receivers. Thai was the idea. The committee also recommended in its report that commercial interests should, if they desired, set up a frequency modulation transmitter in each capital city. It is apparent that the commercial interests were unable to agree among themselves on which commercial station should erect a transmitter. As <i result no application to erect one has been made by the commercial interests, although the report was placed before the Parliament more than two years ago. unless such an application has been received since the announcement of the Government’s determination to develop frequency modulation broadcasting under the auspices of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The committee also recommended that tenders be called for the erection of television stations in Sydney and in Melbourne. As the chairman of the committee I am proud that the Government has given effect to the committee’s recommendations regarding frequency modulation. Sites were sought nl Jolimont, Victoria, near Lockleys in South Australia, and North Sydney in Mow South “Wales. Antennae will be erected in each of the six capital cities. As honorable senators know renders for the erection of television stations in Sydney and Melbourne, which were to have closed this month, have been extended until January to enable Australian manufacturers to tender for the building of a television station.
Some people appear to believe that the establishment of television is a small item. A’ question was asked to-day regarding the transmission of television programmes along telephone wires. Television will have to develop much further than it has so far before it can become available for the entertainment of the ordinary person. Commercial interests in this country could not maintain the broadcasting of television programmes. Those who have been overseas and have had an opportunity to ice the Alexandra Palace, which is the centre of television broadcasting in England, would know that there would he no sponsor prepared to support even part of the cost of providing a complete television service such as that provided ro the people of England. The ramifications of television are such that it would cost, I believe, between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000 to install the buildings and equipment necessary. The cost of running a television, service would be beyond the ability of any individual commercial station. The United States for instance has nothing to compare with the Alexandra Palace. It is true that when television is established in Australia it will provide a great medium of entertainment for the people.
I repeat that I am proud as the chairman of the committee that the Government has decided to adopt the recommendations in the committee’s report regarding frequency modulation broadcasting and television, and I trust that the manufacturers will co-operate in making the necessary equipment for that kind of broadcasting and that when television is established they will also manufacture the television sets required. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson), who is a member cf the committee, said in another place that he considered that the committee was a travelling circus. He has been a member of the committee during the present Parliament.
– He was the clown of the circus.
– The commute? received terms of reference to take evidence as to whether there should be set up in Australia a music composers’ fund on the same principle as the Commonwealth Literary Fund. The committee wa; also required to take evidence on whether the time allocated for Australian compositions broadcast over the national and commercial broadcasting systems should be increased from its present proportion of 2-i per cent. The committee was also required to take evidence as to the excellence or otherwise of the reception in the far-flung areas of Australia of the broadcasts of the proceedings of the Parliament. The committee also inquired into whether restrictions should be placed upon the import of radio scripts and recordings. Believing that the opinions of the people of Sydney and Melbourne do not represent the views of all the people of Australia, the committee went out into country areas in the various States to take evidence and submitted’ the results to the Parliament in its report. I trust that the Government will accept the report and give effect to its recommendations that a music composers fund be established and that the Australian Broadcasting Act be amended, or regulations framed to ensure that more time shall be given to Australian compositions broadcast over the national and commercial broadcasting systems. T wonder if Australian composers, particularly those who write serious music, agree with the member of the committee who referred to it in the Parliament as a travelling circus. Australian mn.nc composers know that because of restrictions on the time allotted by radio stations, to the broadcasting of Australian compositions they are unable to have their works published. The committee has recommended that the time allocated to the broadcasting of Australian compositions should be increased to 5 per cent, in the ensuing year and 7£ per cent, thereafter. The clown generally sees more of the show than any one else and £ shall leave it at that, with Mr. Hutchinson as the clown. Since the Broadcasting Committee was established as a result of an investigation and report by the Gibson Committee, of which I was a member, it has placed before the Parliament no less than seventeen reports, twelve of which were unanimous. One report concerned the establishment of an independent news service, and another dealt with the question of whether the Australian. Broadcasting Commission should make an agreement with the Australian Newspaper Proprietors Association and the Australian Associated Press. Another report dealt with the financing of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Under its terms of reference in the last-mentioned instance the committee was to investigate how the Australian Broadcasting Commission could obtain sufficient finance to carry on its activities. It was suggested to the committee that the listeners’ licence-fee could be increased and that payments might be made by the Treasury to assist the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The committee had received its terms of reference from the Minister and had to give reasons for any recommendation it made, as well as submit any alternative .recommendation. The committee examined the desirability of broadcasting advertising matter over the national stations, but decided against that solution. It was also opposed to any increase of the listener’s licence-fee. [n its report it recommended that certain sums should be paid by the Treasury to assist the Australian Broadcasting Commission to meet its deficit. The committee decided that to provide effective finance for the Australian Broadcasting Commission the ‘best thing would be to nationalize the commercial stations. Although the committee did not have any terms of reference dealing with the subject of nationalization of commercial ‘ stations, it recommended that the clause- in the report ‘ sug-
Senator .1 mom. gesting nationalization of commercial stations might become a subject foi debate on the floor of the Parliament if the Government so desired. Nationalization of commercial stations may be one way of providing an alternative to the payment from Consolidated Revenue of large amounts of money to meet the Australian Broadcasting Commission’? deficit. Objection to that feature of the report was taken by some members of the committee, but, as I have said, twelve of the reports so far submitted have been unanimous and all of them have been on very important subjects. Mr. Hutchinson suggested that instead of travelling around the country taking.evidence the committee could acquire the information it required by telephone, without leaving Canberra. He said that the committee could obtain all the information it required without going 100 yards from Parliament House. He advocated the abolition of the Broadcasting Committee. I say to the Parliament and to all people who think about these matters, that in a democracy the present system i? the best for dealing with broadcasting problems provided that the committee always approaches its task free from party-political prejudice and with the sole objective of doing the best job it can in the interests of the people as a whole. The members of such a committee must recognize that the people who live in Melbourne and Sydney, or in one or two States, do not comprise the Australian nation, but that people living in the outer States, in the far-flung cities and towns of Queensland and Western Australia, are an integral part of the nation. The committee, as it has done up to date, must seek the views of all our people on all matters referred to it for investigation. Listening to the debate that took place on this subject in the House of Representatives, I gathered that not only commercial broadcasting interests, but also the Australian Broadcasting Commission, dislikes the committee. I do not know whether the Postal Department has any love for it, but if that department also dislikes it, I shall be satisfied because the committee must be doing an excellent job when no section of the community can claim its favour. I should not like the committee to be the favorite of any one section or group of interests. That would naturally be so if it were disposed to favour any particular section. It is the aim of the committee to discharge its duty as a committee. The party-political affiliation of any member of it is quite another matter. As a committee, however, we receive representations from, all organizations and individuals who are qualified to speak with authority in respect of the matters referred to us for inquiry. For instance, we have heard evidence from representatives of commercial broadcasting interests, such authoritative spokesmen for the community as the leaders of the various religious denominations, the chancellors of universities and directors of education in all ‘States, the British Medical Association and such bodies as the .National Council of Women, the Young Women’s Christian Association, Country Women’s Association and representatives of women’s organizations affiliated with the Labour party, the Liberal party and the Australian Country party. When the committee dealt with frequency modulation broadcasting it heard evidence from commercial interests, representatives of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the various universities/ the Postal Department, the Australian Broadcasting Commission and individuals qualified to inform the committee on such a subject. The committee has invariably endeavoured to carry out each of its investigations on the very highest plane and has taken steps to obtain the opinion of all sections of the community on the matters referred to it. It has also endeavoured to obtain the view of the man in the street. It hears evidence also from authorized representatives of trade unions. I am content that those who have given evidence before the committee should judge its work and worth because I am confident that, without exception, they would disagree with the views expressed by the honorable member for Deakin. As the honorable member could not find time to travel with the committee he can hardly claim to judge it. Although I shall have an opportunity to refer to this matter at the committee stage of the bill I have done so at this juncture in view of the signifi cance of the committee’s work to the Parliament and to the community as a whole. Every sitting of the committee is open to the public and, invariably, the evidence submitted to it has been publicized not only over the air but also in the press throughout the Commonwealth. Therefore, every member of the Parliament should be fully acquainted with its activities, particularly when it reports upon each of its investigations to the Parliament. In view of those facts, it is beyond my comprehension that the members of the Opposition parties in the House of Representatives, from their leaders down, should criticize the Government, claiming that it had failed to refer the subject of frequency modulation broadcasting to the committee when, as a fact, the Government asked the committee two years ago to investigate that problem, and the committee presented to the Parliament a unanimous report upon it. There must be something wrong mentally with members of the Parliament who indulge in such criticism.
I urge the Government to give urgent consideration to the manufacture of sets for the reception of frequency modulation broadcasts. I trust that when it calls tenders for the erection of television transmission stations the contract for such work will be given to an Australian company. The Government should expedite the tooling up of the industry to enable it to supply television receiving sets to the community so that when televised programmes are made available publicly the people will be in a position to enjoy that form of entertainment.
– And the sets should be made available at a reasonable price.
– I agree with the honorable senator. However, I believe that Australian manufacturers will realize the importance of the price factor. . Whether they will be influenced as they have been in respect of frequency modulation I do not know. It is extraordinary that although frequency modulation programmes have been broadcast for many months, not one set capable of receiving frequency modulation broadcasts has yet been displayed in the shop window of any radio dealer in the capital cities. Therefore, one .has cause to wonder whether the interests which have been responsible for the failure of manufacturers to put frequency modulation receiving sets on the market will be equally successful in discouraging the development of television in this country. These developments are of the greatest importance to the Australian people. I am proud to be a member of a committee which has been able to advise the Government in respect of these matters. I have no doubt that my colleagues feel as I do on these subjects. They, at least, appear to have some sincerity. However, I am confident that the Government will not bp influenced by the whims of commercialism and capitalism as reflected in this campaign for the abolition of the broadcasting committee. No one can gainsay the fact that excellent work has been performed by the Gibson and Calwell committees, or by the committee ms it is at present constituted. No individual has received any special advantage through membership of the committee. I repeat that it has invariably carried out its investigations to the best of its ability free from party or sectional influences. All of its reports have been bused on the weight of evidence submitted to it. I have no doubt that should rite Opposition parties attain office they would immediately abolish the Broadcasting Committee just as a previous antiLabour government prevented the Public Works Committee from operating. I appreciate the action of the Government in giving effect to the committee’s reports and in going ahead with the development of frequency modulation broadcasting. I again express the hope that it will also expedite the development of television in this country and entrust the construction of the transmission stations in that field rn an Australian company.
– The proposals embodied in the bill refleet the unprecedented prosperity which Australians are now enjoying. The foundation of that prosperity was laid by the Government when it assumed office in 1941. I propose to refer to only two aspects of the measure, and in doing so I shall say first something with regard to the suggestion made by Senator Lamp recently that a film should be made of an Australian rules football game for exhibition overseas. Whilst I whole heartedly support that suggestion, 1 consider that the Government should first make some concessions to encourage field sports, including football, in this country. It is obvious that national health and the fitness of the people would benefit by the greater participation of people in field sports and an increase of their followers. I emphasize, however, that I do not include sports such as horse-racing in my suggestion, which .T confine to sports in which human beings are the sole participants. I particularly mention Australian rule? football, because it is undoubtedly the greatest winter sport in Australia. As an example of its popularity, I need only mention that 95,000 people attended the grand final match between the Carlton and Collingwood clubs in Melbourne in 1937, and that tens of thousands attend “ home and home “ matches in Melbourne throughout the season. Of course, I do not suggest that concessions by the Government should be confined to Australian rules football: any such concessions should embrace all other codes of football, cricket and field sports generally. One practical method by which the Government could encourage these sports would ‘be to increase the maximum tax-free charge which can I ve made for admission. At present sporting bodies are discouraged from charging more than lid. a person for admission, because if a charge of ls. is made 3d. has to be paid in entertainments tax. At present, the admission charge to the outer ground at Australian rules football matches in Melbourne is lid. If that charge could be increased, even to ls., without incurring liability for payment of entertainments tax it would result in thu receipt of much greater revenue by the bodies which promote field sports, and would benefit those sports greatly. I suggest that entertainments tax should not be levied on admission charges of 2s. or less. I understand that concessions are made to theatrical and vaudeville promoters to encourage the production of “ live “ shows-, but, I point out that such shows are run for profit and benefit only the comparatively few people who hold shares in the companies which produce those shows, whereas field sports are not run for any individual’s profit and are enjoyed by large numbers of people. Another important consideration is that the provision of financial assistance by the Government would foster sport in city and country areas and would make provision for better facilities and amenities for both players and spectators. The controllers of these field sports are people who act in an honorary capacity and any profits derived go back into the sports concerned. The general development of sport throughout Australia would also be an excellent advertisement for Australia overseas. If proper overseas publicity were given to our sporting activities I have no doubt that it would attract many more migrants to this country, and 1 commend the suggestion made by Senator Lamp that a film should be made of an Australian rules match for exhibition in the United Kingdom and other countries from which we hope to attract migrants. An American gentleman named Carl Dell.nurth, Director of Athletics and Physical Education at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, United States of America, who is at present visiting Australia, is particularly impressed by Australian rules football. This gentleman was in Australia during the war, when he was so impressed by what he saw of Australian rules football that he made tentative inquiries in the United States of America with a view to introducing the game in that country. His idea was that ultimately teams from this country would visit the United States of America, and vice versa. We all know the splendid results achieved by our cricket teams which have visited the United Kingdom, South Africa, India and other countries, where they have acted as unofficial ambassadors, and any such interchange of sporting visits between this country and the United States of America would have a most beneficial effect on our relationships. I trust, therefore, that the Government will consider making some concession to’ encourage and popularize Australian field sports as soon as possible.
For some time past the press and critics of the Government in this chamber and in the House of Representatives have indulged in continuous denunciation . of the Public Service. In fact, the Public
Service seems to have become an obsession with some people, whose whole delight, seems to be to denounce it. .For good measure they often include bitter denunciations of politicians in their utterances, but for the moment I shall confine my remarks to their criticism of public servants. Although all sections of the Public Service are included in this criticism, regardless of the splendid service which they are rendering to the country, the most bitter criticism is directed at the Commonwealth Employment Service, which is constantly referred to as an example of wasted public money and the alleged overgrowth of the Public Service. The critics rely for their effect, not upon reason, but upon an appeal to the fears and hopes of the people, many of whom are nor conversant with the facts. They usually preface their criticism of particular sections of the Public Service by saying that the number of public servants has grown considerably during the last few years. No one can deny that it is obvious that, if the staff of the Public Service had not increased during the last ten years, the degree of governmental activity would not have increased ; in other words, we should have been either standing still or retrogressing. It must bc obvious to any one that if we are to maintain a balanced economy and improve our living and social standards, we must enlarge our Public Service. I propose now to deal specifically with criticism of the Commonwealth Employment Service, a comparatively- new organization, which was created to meet the special circumstances arising from the recent war. The Labour Government which created that service had in mindthe conditions which obtained under antiLabour governments prior to the war, when it was quite a common sight to see from 25 to 50 men standing at a factory gate waiting for a job. Employers then had the opportunity to run the rule over men and to make their own selections. Labour decided on a policy of full employment, and it made a scientific examination of problems associated with providing maximum employment for the people, including the placement of unemployed persons in suitable avocations. Before the war, private employment agencies, which were established everywhere in Australia, were absolutely ruthless in their operations. They were prepared to send anybody to any part of the country to fill a vacancy entered on their books, even though the job might have been taken in the meantime, merely in order to obtain the fee charged for the service. That was what our opponents call free enterprise working according to the law of supply and demand. The helpless unemployed were exploited without pity.
The Commonwealth Employment Service had its genesis at the International Labour Conference at Philadelphia in 1,944. I remind honorable senators that the Employers Federation of Australia was represented at that conference. The conference adopted the policy of full employment, aud I am pleased to say that the employers’ representative from Australia was an assenting party. Later, as the regulation of man-power in Australia ceased, the Commonwealth Employment Service was evolved. This organization is rendering a great service to the nation because it is dealing scientifically with the problems of unemployment and the proper placement of labour. It has trained a staff of experienced persons to tabulate all available information on the changing employment situation. It is modelled on the employment services of Great Britain and the United States of America, and’ is equipped to handle applications from both employees and employers. For example, the needs of juveniles - entering the labour market fresh from school are treated scientifically. Vocational guidance officers consult them and they are tested psychologically in order to determine their aptitudes. They are not pushed haphazardly into any jobs that may be available, as happened previously. Instead, their capabilities are carefully tested and they are directed to the positions for which they are best suited. The service has a complete card index system, which contains records of jobs that are available and the names and qualifications of applicants for work. All information is classified expertly by experienced officers and the whole objective of the system is to put the right man in the right job. That was never attempted in Australia previously and, in spite of all the criticism of the Opposition, I hope that the organization will be a permanent and integral part of the Government’s full employment plan.
The Opposition has criticized the Commonwealth Employment Service because it registers people for new employment while they are still working at other jobs. Critics argue that this savours of an attempt to induce men to leave their jobs. I remind those critics that every daily newspaper publishes advertisements by means of which employers seek to induce workers to leave their jobs and accept employment with them. The service has a system of district employment offices, which artestablished at major centres throughout Australia. Every office submits to the head office a monthly report of information about the labour market, crop prospects, and rural and industrial developments. Obviously, that enables the service to provide the Government with accurate information upon which to bastits policy. It has complete information of labour trends in all parts of the Commonwealth and is immediately informed of a labour shortage in any industry. Commonwealth-State committees maintain a constant check on employment levels with a view to considering and recommending action to counter any threatened decline of employment of substantial proportions. That information i=t of prime importance in this post-war period, when the rapid development of our industrial resources is essential to continued prosperity. As I have said, boys and girls who leave school and seek employment are guided scientifically into jobs for which they are adapted. That system benefits everybody concerned. It relieves parents of a great deal of responsibility and worry. The service also arranges mass movements of labour for seasonal work. By this means, the need? of fruit-growers and other primary producers who require a great volume of labour at various seasons of the year are met economically and efficiently. The old system of sending men and women to various districts, often to find that all vacancies had been filled, has ended. In Victoria alone last year, over 4,000 persons from all parts of the State registered for seasonal work and were allotted co individual growers for the harvesting of the dried fruits crops in the Mildura, mid-Murray Valley and Goulburn Valley areas. Those crops were worth nearly 63,000,000.
The Conan on wealth Employment Service also supplies accurate local information to firms, either abroad or in Australia, which are considering the establishment of new factories in any part of the Commonwealth. The organization is of great assistance to the Government’s immigration plans. It supplies the immigration authorities with details of the number and types of occupations in which immigrants ‘can ‘be absorbed. It also answers inquiries from individuals in the United Kingdom and foreign countries about employment prospects in particular industries and the opportunities for starting business enterprises. British immigrants arc met at their first Australian port of call by representatives of the service, who provide them with reliable advice and guidance. The organization is also responsible for the employment of displaced persons brought to Australia under agreement with the International Belief Organization. It, has found situations for approximately 1,300 displaced persons in Victoria alone. These new citizens have been directed to work of the highest priority. They have been distributed scientifically, not haphazardly, to occupations such as timber-getting and milling, brick manufacturing and steel production, which, of course, are of great importance to the housing programme. Many have been directed to hospitals and other public institutions which are badly understaffed. The Commonwealth Employment Service has played a very important part in the Government’s scheme for the reestablishment of ex-servicemen. It has a special section which deals with this work, ft maintains ‘for ex-servicemen a special rehabilitation service which includes the provision, of employment, assistance in the setting up of new businesses and the safeguarding of reinstatement rights. When one reflects that since the cessation of hostilities in .1945, approximately 1,000,000 men and women have been demobilized in this country, and that all of them have passed through the rehabilitation section of the employment service. one can obtain some idea of the volume of the work done by that organization. Every discharged ex-service man or woman has passed through the State dispersal centres of the Commonwealth Employment Service and many thousands have been given occupational advice, and have been issued with ration coupons. The issue of ration coupons alone relieved some other organization of an onerous and almost full-time task. The service also endeavours to place in suitable employment all ex-service men and women who are trained under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme. Many thousands of ex-service men and women have already been trained under thai scheme, or are in course of training. This problem has been approached scientifically. The service also has what is called a “ higher appointments office “, which deals with individuals who have professional or other high qualifications. It endeavours to place these people in employment to the best advantage not only of themselves, but also of the employers and the country generally. Many employers, both individually and through their organizations, have expressed appreciation of the assistance given to them. Prior to the establishment of this service, there was a genera] impression that the best way for an employer to fill a vacancy was to interview personally 25 or 30 men. However, due to the prosperous condition of the country which has resulted from the sound and sane administration of the Labour Government, employers are beginning to realize that a great service is at their disposal. They are using the organization because they know that its trained staffs will select the right man or the right woman for a particular job, thus taking that responsibility and its consequent worry off their shoulders.
A genera] advice and information service on rehabilitation matters of Commonwealthwide interest is provided. There is a special employment section for disabled ex-servicemen and civilians. That, I consider, is one of the most important phases of the service. 1 speak with some feeling on, and with some knowledge of, these matters, because prior to my election to this chamber I was an officer of the Commonwealth
Employment ‘ Service, and I know from personal experience the great work that it is doing. Hundreds of disabled exservicemen and civilians have been placed in employment which has given satisfaction not only to themselves, but also to the employers concerned. This has been achieved through the scientific handling of this problem by a trained staff. Surely, the best that we can do for disabled people is to provide them with congenial employment in which they can take an interest. Not only is this a boon to the individuals themselves, but it also benefits the nation as a whole.
The Commonwealth Employment Service also played an important part in our social services scheme. The Parliament recently passed a social services consolidating measure. We all know that a vast amount of work is involved in paying invalid and age pensions. Those benefits, of course, are paid through our post offices, but in the administration of others, including the unemployment and sickness benefit, officers of the Department of Social Services work in conjunction with the employment service. District employment officers of the Commonwealth Employment Service act as registrars for the Department of Social Services.
Thousands of letters expressing appreciation of the work done by officers of the service have been received. In the metropolitan area of Melbourne alone, approximately 15,000 employers deal with the Commonwealth Employment Service. That speaks volumes for the efficacy of the service, and is a direct answer to critics of the public servants in general and of the Commonwealth Employment Service in particular. One frequently hears the criticism that the Commonwealth Employment Service is superfluous. I point out, however, that the average monthly registrations in Victoria alone number more than S,000. In the same State, monthly references to employers average more than 7,000. Since the inception of the service on the 1st May, 1946, nearly 300,000 people in Victoria have sought its advice. There has been considerable misunderstanding of the aims of the service. As we on this side of the chamber have emphasized repeatedly, there is no unemployment in this country; but thousands of people have registered with the organization. That may seem to be -anomalous, but I point out that the majority of them are already in employment which, for some reason, is not satisfactory to them. Eather than leave their present occupations and waste time seeking other jo’bs, they register with the Commonwealth Employment Service for a particular kind of work to which they may be more suited, and until a job of that kind becomes available, they remain in their present positions. There is a complete card index of all applicants for positions. Each applicant registers hi? first and second choice. His aptitude iftaken into consideration, and when a position of the kind sought becomes available, the registered person receives a communication stating that such and such a job is available. The notification prescribes the type of work that has to be done, the working hours, rates of pay and so on. The applicant may then accept the position if he so desire? without losing time. Prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth Employment Service, of course, a man who was not satisfied with his job usually gave a week’s notice and *at the end of– that week left his employment. Very often he had to spend several day? reading advertisements in newspapers, and travelling, perhaps on a bicycle, to various parts of the city or country. During that time, of course, he wa? losing his wages or salary. To-day, a person who wants another job has only to register for other employment and remain in his present position until a more suitable job is offered to him.
Every citizen of this country should be proud that his National Government has pledged itself to a policy of full employment. I cannot imagine how any one can criticize, with justification, a government that has done what this Labour Administration has achieved in the past few years. Everybody who has a sense of justice will concede that Labour has accomplished a remarkable job. Criticism of the Public Service in general, and of the Commonwealth Employment Service in particular, is largely irresponsible, and is made by people who do not know what they are talking about. There should be a more general appreciation of the work of the Public Service. As a former officer of the Commonwealth Employment Service, I confess that unfounded criticism of it. rankles. Those who claim that the service is SUper.duous o’bviously are working in the interest of individuals who want to get back to the “ good old days “ when dozens of men were applicants for every job chat became vacant. There are still in this country many people who believe that, at all times, we should have a percentage of unemployment to be used as an economic lever to impose their will on the people of this country. It is time that Opposition members in this Parliament thought seriously about these things before indulging in idle criticism. There is no substance in their complaint?: their speeches are entirely propaganda. Unfortunately, their utterances “ hit the headlines “ in a sympathetic press, whereas the remarks of Government supporters receive very little publicity. Fortunately the proceedings of the Parliament are broadcast and the people can learn by listening that members of the Government a.re not dumb, which would be the impression they would gain from the press if it were not for the broadcasting of Parliamentary proceedings. The supporters of t!:e Government receive no publicity whatever from the press, which confines political publicity to criticism of the Government by honorable members of the Opposition. I repeat that I am proud to support the measure before the chamber, and to have done something that I have desired to do for some time by making my statement to the chamber and to radio listeners in justification of the Commonwealth Employment Service which is doing inestimably good work for the nation as a whole. That remark also applies to the whole of the Commonwealth Public Service. Criticism levelled against the Public Service is made by people who could justifiably be proud of themselves if they were doing only half as much on behalf of Australia as the Public Service that they criticize is doing.
– I am glad to associate myself with the appeal for assistance to athletic and sporting bodies with amateur statu?. Senator Lamp has put the view of Tasmanian senators before the chamber and Senator Sandford has spoken for thiVictorians. Sporting bodies in Western Australia are concerned that some consideration should ‘be given to the reduction of entertainments and amusment taxes to bring them into line with chp exemptions extended to live entertainments promoted by private companies. Australian Rules football is played in Western Australia and the attendances at fixtures are good in relation to ibc population of tinState. Whilst we are able to finance this particular sport and to send our teams to the eastern States, and also have made a success of cricket, the financial position of amateur sporting bodies i.not bright. An invitation has been received by the East Perth football club, with which I have been associated, to send a team of Australian Rules footballers to the United States. It is the desire of the club to do so, but the amount of money required may be difficult to raise. I agree with other honorable senators that the sending of teams overseas is the best kind of publicity Australia could get. Australian athletes abroad would establish Australia’s name in a. manner that would not be possible by any other means. Whilst the Government gives attention to social services in its excellent programme it should not ignore an important factor of the Australian make-up, which is that Australian young people are reared to play sports, take a. hiding without whimpering, and playing the game, as Australians well know how to do. During the war amateur sport suffered severe reverses, particularly in Western Australia, when many of the young men who had engaged in it entered the fighting services. The sport of rowing, for instance, practically ceased during the war. Rowing fleets became depicted and boats were in poor repair. Now when rowing clubs are trying to reequip themselves they find that the cost of the necessary equipment, like that of every other sporting material, is more than 100 per cent, higher than it was before the war. Any assistance extended by the Government not only by a reduction of taxes but also in travel concessions would be of great benefit to amateur sport. In the past travel concessions vere freely granted to encourage athletic
Mild sporting bodies to travel within and between States, but it is only recently that the Commonwealth railways have again permitted sporting bodies to travel ut concession rates. In addition to higher travelling costs, sporting bodies also have great difficulty in obtaining sufficient transport. I hope that the Government will give consideration to some relief from the entertainment tax and also to the lifting of sales tax from sporting goods purchased by societies which are registered as duly constituted amateur sporting bodies.
– If the Government lifted the sales tax from sporting goods, that might mean a decrease of retail prices.
– Many sporting bodies have concessions from retail firms that permit them to buy equipment at fairly reasonable rates. I consider that the amateur sporting fraternity has made h great contribution to the development of the youth of Australia and has given them a kind of education which they would not be able to obtain from any institution. Sport also provides good, honest, clean, open-air enjoyment for young people who, because of some disability, are unfortunately unable to participate in sport themselves, and must be satisfied to be spectators. I have often mentioned to the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) an organization which is financed by public subscription, and has done a splendid job. [ refer to the Civilian Maimed and Limbless Association which I know is doing excellent work in “Western Australia and, T understand, operates in other States also. A small sum has been allocated from the Commonwealth grant made to Western Australia for the purpose of enabling that association to carry on its work and to permit State social services to be improved to average Australian standards. Any person who is maimed, limbless, or in any way incapacitated, whether young or old, and whether his disability is the result of an industrial or domestic accident, or whether the disability has been suffered from birth, may join the asociation by merely applying for membership and supplying the details of his disability. I know from personal experience that children who are maimed and limbless or who suffer from any other physical disability have had corrective facilitiesmade available to them at a very young age by the association. The association has paid much attention to the treatment of spastic paralysis and persons suffering from rheumathoid arthritis who are in poor circumstances have had invalid chairs, beds, and proper equipment made available to them by the association. That kind of body is just as deserving of government support as is any other, and I hope the time wilcome when the provision will be made to cater for the needs of the unfortunate individuals who, at present, have to rel. on charitable organisations for assistance.
As Senator Sandford has stated, there has been much criticism of the Commonwealth Public Service in some quarters. Recently, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan), when honorable senators on this side of the Senate stated that there was full employment in Australia, made a satirical remark to the effect, that the Government should reduce unemployment in th> Public Service. I say that such a remark is an insult to the Public Service which is thoroughly unjustified. During the war, the postal services, and in fact the whole of the Public Service worked overtime. In the Postmaster-General5.1 Department, workers sacrificed overtime rates and did a good war job. It is wrong to say that public servants are not doing enough work, because in fact many of them are overworked, and I know that the Government is embarrassed by its inability to obtain suitable technicians and other staff to carry out its tremendous programme. The average postmaster in n country town, in addition to having to attend to his postal duties, is used as an information bureau in relation to practically all Commonwealth matters, and in many places is also responsible for the issue of petrol ration coupons and petrol licences. His multifarious duties make his job far from easy and certainly he could not truthfully be referred to a* unemployed. He is overworked. The opposition parties arc trying to make the people believe that the duties and responsibilities of the Parliament and the Government at the present time are akin to i he responsibilities that anti-Labour governments carried in the past. That i.s false. The responsibilities undertaken by the Government now are vastly different from those undertaken by antil.abour governments in the past. Many new works are being carried out by the Government including extensions to the Postmaster-General’s Department, improved health and social services, and the employment service to which Senator Sandford has referred.
Australia has developed as a nation fmd I believe that our overseas representation is better under the present Government than it has been at any time. Our overseas representation, however, is still in its infancy and I consider that the Government should purchase sites in countries where Australia is to be permanently represented, and build adequate offices with proper facilities for our representatives. We should cease paying rents wherever possible. Our trade representatives should be placed in the most advantageous points and should send reports back and keep the country fully informed regarding developments of trade and the possibilities for increasing it in the countries in which they represent Australia. It is a matter for regret that the Government has continued to pay for so many years rentals that are far in excess of what they should be for accommodation for Commonwealth Public Service departments. The Government should purchase land on which to erect buildings and embark on a big works programme to provide departmental accommodation.
One of the departments which has received very severe criticism from the Opposition is the Department of Civil Aviation. The Opposition parties are annoyed because the Government has entered into competition with private airline operators. They seem to be capable only of seeing the financial aspect of any proposal. However, they have not justified their criticism. They must be aware of the tremendous benefit which private enterprise has derived from government expenditure in the provision of meteorologica services, up-to-date landing ground - and petrol storage facilities. Thos,interests appear to be most worried because the Government has firmly established Trans-Australia Airlines by acquiring the most up-to-date equipment and planes. I admit that the Government is competing with private enterprise, but that competition is far from being onesided when allowance is made for thifact that many facilities provided by the Government are essential to the operation of private airlines as well as its own. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) has announced an extensive programme of new works at a total cost of £5,179,000, of which sum £1,151,000 will be expended during the current financial year and the balance carried over to 1949-50 and subsequent financial years. Much of that expenditure will be incurred in the provision of more facilities, from which private airlines will benefit considerably. I trust that special attention will be given to improving the efficiency of ground control. I know that certain deficiencies now exist in thai respect. Everything possible should be done to increase the safety of air travel. The Government’s programme provides for the completion of 30 radio range - stations now being installed and for the extension of the radio range system by nine ranges at a cost of £230,000, of which sum £31,000 will be expended in the current financial year. Whilst the Government could not directly force private operators to modernize their air and technical services, it ha? achieved that objective through the establishment of Trans-Australia Airlines. Private enterprise has no incentive to keep abreast of modern developments so long as it can obtain a profitable return from out-of-date plant and equipment. That observation applies also in the field of broadcasting. However, the Government believes in progress, and it i? pressing forward with its policy of making .available to the Australian people the most modern developments in that field. That policy will bestir private enterprise which otherwise would deny the latest developments to the Australian people for as long as it possibly could. I offer no apology for the fact that th,
Government Ls entering into competition with private enterprise in these spheres, i Indeed, in the near future it will make available to our people the very latest developments in broadcasting. I have no doubt that it will be severely criticized for undertaking such activities. Such criticism is to be expected from the Opposition parties. No doubt, we shall bc told that the Government is interfering with private enterprise, whereas in fact only by implementing such a policy is it possible for the Government to force private enterprise to provide modern services. So long as private enterprise can make a profit by carrying on with obsolete plant and equipment we cannot rely upon it to keep this country abreast of technological developments overseas. I li all take the opportunity at the committee stage to address myself to various other items for which provision is made in the bill.
– I take this opportunity to amplify the remarks I made during the budget debate on the development of the tourist trade, which, as yet, remains unexplored as a means of earning dollars for Australia, ft is a remarkable fact that in the past more people left this country annually to tour overseas than entered Australia to settle here permanently. In 1939, the value of the tourist trade was £80,500,000 in Great Britain, and £63,000,000 in Canada and Prance. On the average, of every £100 expended by tourists in Great Britain, £11 was expended on motoring, £26 on merchandise, and £20 10s. on hotel accommodation, whilst the balance was expended on theatres and amusements generally, transport fares and other incidental items of expenditure. Those figures reflect the value of the tourist trade.
I! claim that Tasmania is the scenic wonderland of the world. The tourist a ttractions in that State include the Great Cradle Mountain Valley, whose slopes are covered with beautiful King William pine trees. That valley presents a magnificent view. In that area are to be seen many wild animals, whilst kangaroos are so numerous that one can almost persuade them to eat out of one’s hand. Nothing has been done to popularize ski-ing in Tasmania, although in certain parts of that State the sport can be indulged in for four months of the year. There are also first-class scenic attractions along the Great West-road, which excel any to be found at Katoomba in New South Wales. Another outstanding attraction for tourists in Tasmania is the drive to the summit of Mount Wellington, where the panorama extends for 60 miles. In my opinion, it is second only to the scene one beholds from Edinburgh Castle when looking across the Firth of Forth. I urge the Government to sponsor the production of a booklet dealing with the outstanding tourist attractions in every State and to circulate it in Canada, the United States of America, England and France. Of course, one does not need to praise the beauties of the Barrier Beef.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to S p.m.
– I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (ou motion by Senator Cameron) read a first time.
– I move -
That the. bill be now read a second time.
The bill now before the Senate proposes to increase war pensions and service pensions. The proposed increases will cost, in a full year, £1,764,000. Certain general repatriation benefits will also be increased or extended at an estimated cost of £320,000 per annum, making a total of £2,0S4,000. As the main expenditure will be on war pensions, let me give first a general picture of the increases and of the classes which will benefit, taking as an example those of the lower ranks. The largest group of war pensioners comprises members receiving general rates in respect of incapacity assessed at total or less, down to 10 per cent. The present rate for 100 per cent, incapacity is £2 10s. per week. It is proposed to increase that rate by 5s. to £2 15s. Those members whose incapacity is assessed at a percentage of total will receive proportionate increases. Most of the members in that group are in employment. Where a member is blind, or his disability prevents him from engaging in employment and he is classed as totally and permanently incapacitated, a special rate is paid. The present special rate is £5 ls. a week, and that will be increased to £5 6s. The special rate is paid also to members who are suffering from tuberculosis to such a degree that they are unable to earn any income. If a member is capable only of light or intermittent employment, an intermediate rate between full general rate and special rate is paid. At present, nhat intermediate rate is £3, but the appropriate rate seems to be approximately half the difference between the full general rate and the special rate. The Government has accordingly decided to pay such members £4 per week while they are trying to re-adapt themselves to regular employment. This proposal represents an increase of £1 per week for that class of pensioner. While a member is undergoing treatment and is receiving less than full general rate, he is paid medical sustenance at a rate sufficient to bring his pension up to full general rate. If the period of treatment is expected to be fairly lengthy, and the member is regarded as temporarily totally incapacitated, a pension is paid at full general rate, with an addition of 24s. for a member with a dependent wife or children, and 15s. to others. For all practical purposes’, the member is in no better position during this period than one classed as incapacitated to the degree entitling him to payment of special rate. It is proposed, therefore, that the additional pension be paid at a rate equivalent to the difference between full general rate and special rate. Thus, instead of the amounts 24s. and 15s. which I have mentioned, the addition will be £2 lis. in each instance.
I turn now to the matter of dependants’ pensions. The rate of war pension for a wife of an incapaci tated member on full general rate or special rate is 22s. a week. It is proposed to increase that amount to 24s. Thipensions of other dependants of incapacitated members, such as parents, brothers, sisters, are based on the rate for wives, and those dependants also will benefit. The rates for dependants of deceased members such as widow, parents, brothers and sisters, &c, will be increased. The present rate for a widow is £2 15s. : the new rate proposed is £3. The presenrates for certain classes of widowed mothers of deceased unmarried member* are twenty in number, and range from £1 5s. to £3 Ss. a week, according to the rate of pay of the member while on service. They are paid irrespective of means, and irrespective of dependence upon the son. The rates are shown in column 2 of the First Schedule to the act, and it will be noted that the first four apply where the member’s pay was from 7s. to 10s. a day. Those figures cover tinvarious rates of pay at different time? to members of the rank of private. Instead of four different rates of pension, it has been decided that the four items should be bracketed and a common rate provided. The present rates are shown in the schedule as per fortnight, but 3 shall continue to give weekly rates. They are 25s., 26s. 9d., 28s. 6d., and 30s. 6d. The new rate proposed is 35s. a week, so thai the increase proposed will be 10s. in tinlowest rate. Each of the remaining sixteen rates in the schedule will be increased by 5s. a week. The rates shown in column 2 of the First Schedule are also used as the maximum rates payable to other parents, brothers, sisters, &c, whose pensions are subject to means test, and they will receive the benefit of the revised schedule, including the substantial benefit achieved by bracketing the first four items. Further provision is made in the present act in favour of the particular classes of widowed mothers of deceased unmarried members who have been granted pension on relationship alone, irrespective of dependence, and irrespective of means. The provision is that if the rate of pension in any instance is less than £2 10s., the mother is to be regarded as dependent upon the son; and if her income is less than what is regarded as adequate for her support, an additional pension may be paid to give, by way of war pension, np co a total of £2 10s. It is now proposed ro increase that pension from £2 10s. to £3. The provision also applies to certain other parents of deceased unmarried members.
The foregoing are the proposals for war pensions, as distinct from service pensions. Service pensions are really a scheme of age and invalid pensions for members of the forces, and the principles of the civil scheme must necessarily be followed wherever practicable. Accordingly, the increase of 5s. in the maximum rate for age and invalid pensions will be applied also to the maximum rate of service pension for a member. In certain instances a service pension is payable to the wife of a member. The present maximum rate of such pensions is 22s., and it is proposed to increase chat rate to 24s. The new income and property provisions decided upon for age and invalid pensions will also be applied to service pensions.
Certain factors which necessitate the fixing of maximum payments by the Commonwealth for certain classes of pensioners under the civil pensions scheme were explained fully during the debate on the Social Services Consolidation Bill. Those considerations also apply to service pensions, and that being so, I shall explain briefly the position. As I have indicated, the means test for service pensions is the same as that for age and invalid pensions, and because of the generous easing of the means test made by the Government, it is possible for a service pensioner and his wife to enjoy an income of £7 5s. per week. It is not considered, however, that the whole of that amount should be provided by the Government, and therefore “ceilings” of the amount to be paid by the Commonwealth must be applied in respect of service pensions. In the case which I have cited,- of a service pensioner who is also a service pensioner or a civil pensioner, and his wife, the ceiling will be £6 2s. f should like to make it clear that it is a ceiling only of Commonwealth payments. The member and his wife may still earn £1 3s. from other sources, making the total of £7 5s., without affecting service pension.
If no limitation were made, then, in the case of a member and wife, where the member is receiving the highest rate of war pension, that is the special rate designed for the needs of a member unable to earn, it would be possible for the member and wife to receive service pension of 15s. in addition to war pension of £6 10s. As honorable senators well know, it was never intended that a service pension should be payable to this class of war pensioner. As a. matter of fact, it was not intended for members on the full general rate, but gradually, throughout the years since the scheme was instituted, with the easing of the means test and frequent raising of the limit of income plus pension, a member and wife, receiving full general rate and also service pension, have received more and more by way of service pension, and we have reached the position where some limitation of Commonwealth payments must be made.
The limit of Commonwealth payments in the case of a single man will be £3 2s. 6d., and in the case of a member and wife, where only one is eligible for service pension, the limit will be £5.
The provisions apply only to the pensioner or pensioners who receive service pension as well as war pension. I should like honorable senators to be quite clear on two points. First, the limitation applies only to the service pension portion of the aggregate. Secondly, nothing in the provisions affects the rate of war pension, which will be always paid at the rate appropriate under the ordinary provisions in the relevant legislation, irrespective of whether the rate be below or above the proposed ceiling in the particular case.
The foregoing covers practically all the main provisions of the bill. Some other matters not related to the general increase of pensions are included, but these are of a minor character and will be fully explained in committee.
I intimated at the outset that the Government’s programme covered also certain general repatriation benefits. These will be effected by amendment of existing regulations, but I wish the Senate to be informed of the proposals. The first concerns medical sustenance, which is paid during periods of treatment. The rate must agree with the full general rate of war pension, and it will be increased in consequence of the war pension increases. An examination has been made of the question of granting additional sustenance if the member loses wages or salary during a period of treatment, and I am hopeful that a satisfactory scheme will be devised shortly. There will be an extension of the present arrangement for medical treatment of widows and children of deceased members, and widowed mothers of deceased unmarried members. The present arrangement places them in a position to receive medical benefits on the basis of Australian friendly societies’ schemes. There are possibilities of arranging for in-patient treatment at repatriation hospitals. Although at present the difficulties of staffing hospitals do not give full scope for the proposal, there are occasions, which I hope will become more frequent, when the facilities at repatriation hospitals are not fully taken up. To the degree that it is possible to make suitable arrangements for in-patient treatment of widows, children, and widowed mothers, such treatment will be afforded, and this scheme may be supplemented by a further arrangement with civil hospitals.
The third general benefit is the soldiers’ children education scheme, which covers assistance for the education and training of children of deceased, blinded, and totally and permanently incapacitated members. The general plan is supervision and guidance from about the age of ten years, and assistance by way of allowances from the age of thirteen years to completion of training with an employer or graduation at a university. It will be realized that there are several stages in the education and training, and the allowances are designed according to the needs of the beneficiary at any particular stage. The provisions of the scheme were examined some time ago, and increases were made last November in respect of the allowances and income provisions for school children and university students. An amount of £30,000 has been provided to enable adjustment to be made in respect’ of other groups and stages, particularly for beneficiaries undergoing training with employers and living away from home.
I think a fitting conclusion to this speech would be to give honorable senators some account of the extent of general benefits provided for members of the forces in “World War II. and their dependants in the way of re-establishment and personal welfare. The figures are for the period up to the 30th June, 194S. Loans in connexion with establishment in businesses and professions constitute the largest amount- £4,200,000. Tools of trade have been provided to the value of £1,610,000 by way of gift, and £204,000 by way of loan. In assisting members into employment, £503,000 was paid in re-employment allowance, and £175,000 in fares and removal expenses. Supplementation of the wages of apprentices has cost £2,779,000, and although the annual rate of expenditure has started to fall, a considerable amount has yet to be paid. Grants for the purchase of furniture for blinded and totally and permanently incapacitated members, and widows, totalled £310,000. It will be realized that the work of the Commission is still fairly heavy. The task of giving effect to the increases in the bill will be an additional hurden, and a very heavy one at that, extending over some weeks. However, the administration is fully alive to the benefits .which will accrue to pensioners, and on that note I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’SULLIVAN adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 183S).
.-] hope that the Government will coordinate all tourist publicity distributed from Australia to other parts of the world. At present, each of the six States issues a separate set of literature. The Commonwealth could issue a comprehensive booklet depicting Australia’s attractions and supplying information about air, rail and road services with benefit to all. I believe that Australia can earn a great deal of money from the tourist traffic, and therefore I hope that the Government will give serious attention to my suggestion.
We have just heard a very interesting aud informative speech by the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Cameron), who submitted to the Senate, on behalf of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard), the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill 1948. A member of the House of Representatives advocated, when the bill was before that chamber, chat the Minister for Repatriation be suspended until such time as repatriation benefits were brought up to what he termed “ an adequate standard “. I wish io make a few re marks in support of the Minister, who is a fellow-Tasmanian. I have known him for a considerable time. Me can easily be approached and is always-prepared to listen to anybody who lias a request to make. He is affable and does his best to meet the wishes of everybody. Not long ago, I made a tour of inspection of various repatriation hospitals and at one of them I asked the matron, “ How does the present Government treat you ? “. She said, “ There is a new approach everywhere. We are ever so much happier than we were before “. That is the frank opinion of a person in authority of the administration of the present Minister. Probably many people do not understand the comprehensive nature of the activities of the Repatriation Commission and its branches in all States. I shall give a summary if its responsibilities.
– Order! I point out to the honorable senator that the subject of repatriation will be dealt with when another bill is being debated. The honorable senator must not anticipate that discussion. I shall allow him to proceed, but not at great length.
– I propose to refer only to matters dealt with in the Estimates and to outline in a. general way Ill e activities of the Repatriation Commission.
– The honorable senator may do that, but he must not anticipate debate on another bill.
– I shall endeavour not io do so. The Repatriation Commission is required to provide medical treatment for disabled members of the forces, widows, orphans and certain other depen dants, to supply and repair artificial limbs and surgical aids, to provide war and service pensions, to administer the soldiers’ children education scheme, to issue re-establishment loans and reestablishment and employment allowances, to supplement apprentices’ wages, to supply tools of trade and professional instruments to ex-service trainees, to pay for the passages of wives, children and fiancees of ex-servicemen brought from overseas, to provide for the training and employment of war-blinded veterans, and to handle the re-establishment of “problem cases “ amongst ex-servicemen. It also engages in various less important duties. The Commonwealth is committed to heavy annual liabilities for war pensions, services pensions and war gratuity. At the 30th .Tune, 1948, they were a? follows : -
Declarations by the Opposition that this Government has done nothing for exservicemen are very wide of the truth. Anti-Labour governments did not even provide proper accommodation for officers of the Repatriation Commission. Recently, as chairman of the PublicWorks Committee, I visited Western Australia, where I found that the repatriation offices in Perth were in a disgraceful state. The conditions under which men and women work there are deplorable. The building is situated on swampy ground and, at certain times of the year, duck-boards have to be laid to allow people to enter it. Former anti-Labour governments had thirty years in which to provide a new building, but they ignored their responsibility. This Government is doing everything possible in the circumstances to hasten the work. Plan.have been prepared for a building to provide quarters for the repatriation staff, certain other government offices, and the artificial limb factory in Perth. The
Public Works Committee, also visited Queensland recently and found that the repatriation offices in Brisbane are scattered in bits and pieces throughout the city. If an officer wants to examine a file, he may have to send a messenger i or 4 miles to get it. This state of affairs creates a great deal of unnecessary work and expense. Why did not previous governments provide a suitable repatriation building in Brisbane? I leave that question for members of the Opposition to answer. The repatriation office in Melbourne is one of the coldest offices I have ever known. It is not surprising that applicants for benefits say nhat they .are accorded a freezing reception in the old City Mutual Building on the corner of Elizabeth and Collins streets. I arn pleased that this Government has had an up-to-date building erected in Melbourne at a cost of £302,000. It has done within a few years what other governments neglected to do over a period of thirty years. In South Australia, repatriation officers are working under extreme difficulty. What is to be done for them? Their premises are too small. The Government has had plans prepared for new quarters, and building operations will commence in the near future. The premises of the department in Tasmania and in one other State are completely dilapidated. The Repatriation Department has built a tubercular hospital at Kenmore costing £14,000, and also female hospital assistants’ quarters costing £33,000. Expenditure at other centres includes £129,000 at Wacol, £30,000 at Callan Park, New South Wales, and £17,000 at Belair, South Australia. That expenditure, together with the £102,000’ for the new administrative block in Victoria, totals £960,000, Expenditure last year was approximately £811,000. Yet Opposition members of this Parliament have the audacity to say that this Government is not doing anything for ex-servicemen! [ should like to give to the Senate a short summary of what the Labour Government has done in the direction of increasing repatriation pensions since 1 943. In that year, the soldiers’ pensions were increased by £1,600,000. In the 1947-48 budget, the Government provided £462,000 for pension increases. Subse quently £210,000 was made available for the payment of domestic allowances to widows, £9,000 for funeral expenses, and £30,000 for the education scheme and various other items. Increases provided for under the 1948-49 budget total £2,084,000. That is a worthy effort indeed.
One criticism that has been offered that ex-servicemen are not getting a fair deal in the provision of tools of trade. It is claimed that too many application? are rejected. I disagree with that entirely. The total number of exservicemen eligible to receive grants for tools of trade was 947,699. Of that number. 274,141 applied for grants and 244,257 or 90 per cent, were successful. That indicates, I suggest, that the scheme ha? been very successful indeed.
I propose now to compare the repatriation pensions paid before the Labour Government came into office, with those operating to-day. I take it that I shall be in order in doing so.
The PEE SIDE NT. - 1 was about to draw the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that it will be more appropriate to deal with those matters when the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill is being debated. Admittedly, an honorable senator may deal in a general way with any matter when speaking on an appropriation measure, but I suggest that specific references to repatriation matter? should be reserved until the amending legislation which was introduced into thiSenate to-night is being debated. Previous Presidents have ruled that an honorable senator may not anticipate the discussion of a measure which appear? on the notice-paper.
– I point out, Mr. President, that earlier to-night, I yielded my place on the floor of the chamber to permit the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation to introduce the legislation to which you have referred. Had I continued my speech 1 should have had no difficulty in dealing extensively with repatriation matters.
– That is a pertinent point, and, as I may use my discretion, in the circumstances I shall permit the honorable senator to proceed.
– In 1941, the general pension rate for 100 per cent, incapacity was £2 2s. a week. To-day, it is £2 15s. a week, an increase of 13s. In 1941, the special rate for ex-servicemen who were blinded, totally and permanently incapacitated, or seriously incapacitated by tuberculosis, was £4 a week. At present, it is £5 6s. a week, an increase of 26s. a week. The Senate will agree that those increases are substantial. I was a member of the repatriation committee which recommended that an ex-serviceman suffering from tuberculosis should receive a war pension, no matter when the disease was contracted, and it was the humane action of the Curtin Government that gave effect to that recommendation. I am. sure that ex-servicemen and their dependants have had cause to be most thankful to that administration. The war pension for a tuberculous member capable only of light or intermittent employment, was £2 10s. a week in 1941; it is now £4 a week, an increase of 30s. The allowance for attendants for blinded ex-servicemen, or those suffering from, spinal injuries has increased .from £1 in 1.941 to £1 14s. to-day. I am g]ad that the Government has also done something to improve the circumstances of wives of pensioners. Before the Labour Government came to office, the wife of a member in receipt of the general rate for 100 per cent, incapacity, or the special rate, was 18s. To-day it is £1 4s. hi respect of each child of such members, the increase has been from 7s. 6d. a week to 9s. a week. Dependants of deceased members have been granted . similar increases. A widow now receives £3 a week, compared with £1 3s. 6d. - an increase of £1 16s. 6d. The first child of a widow receives 17s. 6d. instead of 10s., and each other child, 12s. 6d. instead of 7s. fid. The sea travelling allowance of an exserviceman attending a repatriation institution for medical treatment is now 6s. 8d. a day in addition to fares, compared with 3s., in addition to fares in 1941. The corresponding rates for land travel arc 20s. a day and 10s. a day respectively. Those increases, therefore, are 100 par cent. In 1941, an incapacitated member in receipt of a pension at less than the full general rate was paid medical sustenance of £2 2s. a week ; to-day the pay ment is £2 15s. a week. Funeral allowances have been increased from £15 to £20. Those figures indicate clearly that the Government has been just to exservicemen. I believe that returned soldiers are entitled to all that they can get. I have battled continuously for them, and from both the present Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) and his predecessor, I have always received a fair hearing. 1 am sure that pensioners generally will be grateful for what the Government has done for them, particularly when they consider the enormous liability that is placed upon the Government by war pensions, service pensions, and war gratuities.
As I was walking along a corridor in this building this evening I was asked, “Is there any other place in tinworld apart from Tasmania?” Som,people evidently believe that there is. Tasmania has been very good to me. and I shall do everything possible to return the compliment. Perhaps I learned that Tasmania was a very good place when I went to the United States of America and saw what was going on in that country. I have here a pamphlet issued by the Chamber of Commerce at a place called Wanatchee on the Columbia river not far from Seattle. The pamphlet has the audacity and impudence to proclaim “Wanatchee the Apple Capital of the “World “. At least that is a lesson t( the people of Tasmania on how to advertise the merits of the apple. Wanatchee has an apple blossom festival which lasts for two months each year. Its apples are advertised in colour, and are sold at a fixed price within a certain distance. The apples are packed very attractively indeed. But I cannot agree with the claim that “Wanatchee is the apple capital of the world. I think that Tasmania’s annual shipment to the Mother Country of approximately 13,000,000 bushels of apples and pears exceeds the production of any other part of the world three or four times over. I mention this matter because I am pleased that the Australian Government has guaranteed to Tasmania the finance required to carry on the apple acquisition scheme in the 1948-49 season. I am personally acquainted with the Tasmanian Minister who will administer the acquisition scheme. He is the Honorable James J.. Dwyer, a very capable man.
As I have said, the Australian Government has been most generous to exservicemen, and I am proud indeed to be a supporter of that Government.
– I do not propose to delay the Senate for very long at this juncture. I shall have something further to say on specific matters during the discussion on the Estimates. I was amazed more than impressed by the speech made by Senator Nash. It was more remarkable for its hysteria than outstanding for its calm reason and logic. The suggestion underlying the honorable senator’s remarks was that Opposition members of this chamber are out to destroy that magnificent institution, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. It has been suggested in the House of Representatives and in the press, that because of the scientific nature of that undertaking, it is not of itself capable of policing and safeguarding intensively secret work. Sir David Rivett, the illustrious chairman of the council, is a brilliant scientist whose devotion to this country, scientific knowledge and patriotism have never been questioned. In March. L947, Sir David read a paper entitled, “ Science and Responsibility “ to the Canberra University College. I shall not quote it in. detail, but I shall quote sufficient to show that Sir David Rivett himself realizes that he is not a security officer. He is a scientist. After dealing with the unfortunate trend of affairs brought about by the application of science to warfare, in which science is playing an ever-growing and more important part and is largely directed towards the invention of methods of destruction as well as of advancement, Sir David Rivett expressed regret at the unfortunate passing of that period which he described as the period of free trade between scientists which for centuries had been of the greatest value to the world. He then came to the question of the atomic bomb and he said -
I want rather to bring to your notice the irresistible sequel to this horror - (atom bomb) - namely, the- inescapable introduction of secrecy between all potential rivals and even between friends about all pursuit of knowledge of any kind that might conceivably be applied to the .purpose of war. In war, onawe are in the mesh, nothing nowadays is barred. Secrecy then becomes essential, using that ward in its full sense.
The council itself was not capable of ensuring against the intrusion into its ranks of people who anight go there chiefly for the purpose of obtaining- secret scientific information which might be used against Australia in the event of war. It must be borne in mind that before a secret can be betrayed a person must be entrusted with that secret, and that only people in positions of trust can betray a trust. The greatest care should be taken in the screening of all appointees to positions of trust where secrecy is essential. Because we on this side of the chamber have such admiration for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and because we do not wish to see it destroyed, we have for some time consistently urged the Government to exercise the greatest care in the appointments it makes to that institution. The chairman has pointed out to the Government the need for such care and has emphasized that he is not a security officer but a scientist. It would appear that, following the advice of the chairman, the Government has decided to tighten up security precautions in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I quote from the Melbourne Herald, of Monday of this week -
Projects closely related to national defence are to be transferred from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to Commonwealth departments where they can be effectively isolated from work of a less secret nature. This adjustment is on lines suggested by the chairman of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Sir David Rivett who, while loyally carrying out the work referred to his council by the Government has warned that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was -not organized to give defence activities the special treatment they require.
If the Government had taken note of suggestions that have been made by the Opposition from time to time this position would not have arisen. We have heard much recently of documents allegedly either stolen or forged. This question of security was raised first in the press as far back as June last. On the 1 3th June, the Sydney Sun had this to say -
The British Government is urging Australia to impose more stringent secrecy safeguards <m scientists associated with the Central Australia rocket range project.
Britain insists that only scientists who will -‘ivo unqualified assurances that they will comply with secrecy requirements should be employed on the project, lt is understood flint a. reason why the United States Government is not co-operating on the project is its fears for the secrecy of its scientific data. it is supplying data to Britain on condition that it is not made available elsewhere. Australia is not specifically mentioned, but it is understood that the “elsewhere” referred to is Australia.
– There was nothing to justify it.
– On the following day the Sydney Sun quoted the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) as having said that he was perfectly satisfied with the security measures taken to protect the guided weapons range project. He made an unequivocal statement that he wa9 satisfied with, the measures taken.
On the 24th July, the Sydney Morning Herald said it was understood that the United States had shown reluctance to reveal atomic research secrets to Australian scientists because it was claimed leakages were likely to occur through Australian communists. The newspaper went on to say that it was learned on the highest authority that the Prime Minister had raised the subject during his discusdons with the British Cabinet and had offered to tighten Australia’s security measures. On the following day, the Sydney Morning Herald again referred ro the alleged reluctance qf the United States of America to make information regarding atomic research development, available to Australia. Honorable Senators will realize that, although these articles were published in June and July last, all we had from the Government was a statement from the Minister for Defence that he was perfectly satisfied. He gave that assurance not only to the Parliament but to the people of Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald report went on to say that the Prime Minister was told of the American attitude shortly before he visited London and it wa.understood that he had regarded the situation so seriously that it was one of the main factors that influenced him to make the trip. On the 27th July, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that it had been learned that the reluctance of tinUnited States authorities to pass atomicresearch secrets on to Australia either directly or through Great Britain applied to all top secret information of a defencenature. When the Minister for Defencewas confronted with these reports he said in Queensland on the 2Sth July that fear that secrets might leak out through Australia was not the reason why America was not passing on atomic information’, but he did not say what the reason was. When he returned to Canberra on the 29th July, the Minister said that as far as he was aware the United States had not refused any request by Australia for details of scientific research and as far as he was aware there was not a vestige of truth in the reports. That was the statement made to the nation by a responsible Minister.
– You can take his word for it.
– These statements have not been denied outright by the Minister for Defence or by the Prime Minister. The Minister admitted that hehad discussed the matter with the PrimeMinister before the right honorable gentleman left for London to have talks with the British Cabinet. It is significant that although thesereports were of front rank importance from the viewpoint of Australia’” .- defence, no denial was made by either tinPrime Minister or the Minister for Defence. The reports were not confined tu the Australian press. They appeared also in a newspaper in Johannesburg. South Africa, in the American press and in the London Daily Graphic.
– Are not these paper? syndicated ?
– They ar.-
– Of course they are.
– Although this matter of great urgency which affected the vital defence of the country was freely spread throughout the press. all we got from the Government was an assurance from the Minister for Defence that he was perfectly satisfied .and that there was no truth in the suggestion that information was being withheld from Australia because of a distrust of our security measures.
– I take his word for that.
– What happened ? Information came by some means or other to the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden)–
– He should have done his duty about it.
– The point is that the real question has not yet been answered by either the Prime Minister or the Minister for Defence. No assurance has been given to the people of Australia that Australia, is not being denied top secret information from Britain and the United States of America and that the authorities there are satisfied with our security measures. That is the real, the one, and the only issue. It has not been faced by the Government. On the contrary, the Government, started off by dragging a red herring, a very red one, across the trail, concerning bow a document came into the possession of the Leader of the Australian Country Party.
– How did he get it?
– That is entirely another matter. The suggestion that the Government must have an investigation to discover whether certain documents were either stolen or forged is fantastic. Nobody knows better than the Prime Minister or the Minister for Defence whether these documents are genuine or were forged. I presume that they know what documents are in their own possession, and it is utter tripe and rot to suggest that they are instituting inquiries to ascertain whether the documents are genuine and were stolen, or whether they were forged. They took this line to try to pull the wool over the eyes of the Australian people, but I do not believe that they will succeed. By all means let us have inquiries, conducted on a proper basis, to ascertain if there have been any leakages of information. That, is not the point-
– The honorable senator is trying to justify improper action, and he knows it.
– The point is that the collaboration of America in regard to nuclear energy research is being withheld from us because it believes that our security is not good. That is the only point and neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister for Defence has made any attempt to allay the fears that are lurking in the hearts of the people of Australia regarding this matter. TheGovernment has made no outright rebuttal despite the publication of reports in Australia, England, South Africa and the United States of America in Juneand July last. It was not until the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defencewere in a position from which they could not escape without swallowing their Owl words and the assurances they had previously given to the Parliament and thepeople that they moved at all. They are attempting to evade the issue and so far they have succeeded by refusing to say whether or not Australia is being denied information of a secret nature. The real’ issue is still being evaded. It was only when the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence were faced with thedocuments, which they were in the best position to say were genuine or forged, that the Government sought refuge behind the camouflage of engaging theCommonwealth Investigation Service in the matter. The Government was faced with a, position from which it could not escape except by trying to pull the wool further over the eyas of the people or giving a direct denial to statements previously made by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence. The Minister had said that there was no truth at all in the Opposition’s allegations that America refused to make top secret defence information available to Australia or Great Britain. The Government did everything it could to drag the people’sattention away from the real point at issue, namely, “ Is it a fact that the confidence of America and Britain in up has reached so low a level from the point of view of security that we cannot be- entrusted with top secret information relating to defence? “. I trust that even at this late hour the Prime Minister will give an assurance to the country that the state of affairs which has hitherto deprived us of secret defence information has- been rectified, and that we now enjoy the confidence of Great Britain and the United States of America in such matters.
The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) also has figured in an unfortunate incident, which reminds us that we must be very careful of the people in whose hands we place unlimited power. N”ever was a truer statement made than that made by Lord Acton when he said, “ Absolute power corrupts absolutely “. I hope that we are on the way towards an amicable settlement of the “ Manila girls “ incident. It is a matter of grave concern that the Minister for Immigration, who is doing a splendid job under difficulties in attracting to Australia immigrants of the best typo whom we so badly need, should be largely responsible for that incident which has been such a bad advertisement for Australia. Thousands of people overseas are looking towards this country with longing eyes. They think of Australia as a country where they will enjoy a way of life which has been denied to them in their own homelands where they have been the victims of oppression and robbed of every vestige of freedom. They look to this glorious sunny land of ours and yearn to come here so that they may enjoy freedom. What a bad impression press reports about this incident must make on those people. Beading such reports they must ask themselves, “ Are we reading about Russia or Australia ? “. A. lot of fuss was made when the Russian Government refused to allow the Russian wives of British soldiers to leave Russia to rejoin their husbands in England. Such action, was declared to be a violation of human rights, as, indeed, it was. Yet this Government peremptorily orders Australian girls travelling on valid passports to return to Australia. The Minister says that the engagement of those girls overseas was the subject-matter of an arrangement. However, if such an arrangement were made I am sure that it was made in the first instance in order to protect the girls from being stranded in a foreign land. ‘Such a precaution was highly commendable; but once an assurance was given that there was no danger of the girls being stranded that agreement was no longer valid. We are a free, white people. Before man made us citizens, God made us men and women and gave us natural rights which no man, or no parliament, can take from us. 1 trust that this matter will be allowed to lapse, and that we shall soon forget all about it, because the longer it is kept alive the more will our country be brought into obloquy and the Minister be held up to ridicule as a man who is not capable of exercising power.
At the committee stage I propose to deal with several industrial matters somewhat in detail. At this juncture, however, I again appeal to the Government to give greater protection to the trade unions and trade unionists. All of us know that in every country which has fallen under the yoke of dictators, its totalitarian rulers have first attacked and then annihilated the trade unions. That happened in Germany, Italy and Russia. Trade unions do not flourish in those countries to-day. Although trade unions are not actually creatures of statute they have statutory protection and statutory rights. I urge the Government, to amend the legislation covering trade unions to bring it more into conformity with that applying to companies. Under the company law, specific statutory protection for all sections of shareholders, including minorities is provided. In Queensland, at all events, the Registrar of Companies has power to authorize an auditor nominated by the State AuditorGeneral to investigate the affairs of any company. That power, although it has not yet been exercised, is very salutary. It will be exercised only when there is evidence of abuse of the rights and interests of shareholders. There is no reason why the interests of trade unionists cannot be protected in a similar manner. Trade unions should be compelled to lodge lists of the names and addresses of its members with the Industrial Registrar just as companies now have to lodge similar liS’ts in respect of their shareholders with the Registrar of Companies.
Provision should also be made for the holding of secret ballots upon all important matters affecting any union, and such ballots should be conducted under the aegis of the Registrar of the industrial court. Such provision would ensure that the rights of trade unions and their members shallbe protected. I have in my hand a form issued by the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia. It is as follows: -
Federatedironworkers’ Association of Australia.
This form must be posted to the branch secretary.It must not be given to the shop delegate.
I, the undersigned, hereby nominate -
The Australian Labour party (Official)
The Australian Communist party (Cross out words which do nut apply.) to receive political levies paid by me to the association.
Any worker, and I assume that all of us are workers, is at perfect liberty to subscribe to the funds of whatever party he wishes, provided the party be a lawful organization. We in this country believe in the secrecy of the ballot; but when an applicant is asked by a trade union to indicate on his application for membership form whether he wishes to subscribe to the funds of the Australian Labour party or the Australian Communist party, that principle is grossly violated because prospective members are thus forced to indicate whether they are members of the Australian Labour party or of the Australian Communist party.
– Where did the honorable senator get that secret document?
– I give the authors of it an opportunity to vouch for it or to deny its authenticity. However, much has appeared in the press relating to this matter, and I have not seen any suggestion that the form has been forged or stolen. The Government should seriously consider introducing legislation in order to protect, not only trade unions, but also trade unionists. Should we come to the pass where a totalitarian government - Communist, fascist or in any other shape or form - attains power in this country it would first destroy the tradeunion movement. Legislation dealing with trade unions was first enacted, I believe,in 1871, long before the Australian Labour party came into existence. Honorable senators, particularly ministerial supporters, should urge the Government to introduce such industrial legislation as will fortify the trade unions and the trade union movement against any possible attack, from either the left or the right, of the kind indicated in the nomination form to which I have drawn attention. I shall reserve my remarks in respect of other matters covered by the measure until the committee stage.
– I had not intended to participate in the debate at this stage, but I am impelled to do so in view of the theme that has been developed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan). In view of the debate that took place in the House of Representatives lastweek I am astounded that any referencewhatsoever should have been made in this chamber to the documents case mentioned by the honorable senator.That debate was most thorough, and it pin-pointed a number of things. Although the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has done a great deal of research of newspaper reports over a long period in order to build up a story, the fact remains that he has not added one iota of information to what is already widely known. And what we already know about the matter does not reflect any credit upon the Opposition parties in the Parliament. The story as we have read it in the newspapers since the 13th June is that the press suddenly discovered that the United States of America will not make its atomic secrets available to Great Britain. It is common knowledge that the plan for atomic development was laid down at the conference between the late President Roosevelt, Mr. Churchill and American and British scientists held at Quebec. It was then decided that the physical and chemical nature of the atomic bomb, which is known to everybody, would be developed in the United States of America. To-day, everyone knows about fission, radio-activity and the atomic bomb, but only the United States of America has the industrial “know how “ necessary to produce the bomb, and that country has closely guarded that secret on every front even to the exclusion of Great Britain. That fact is known far and wide, but the newspapers suddenly made a discovery.
– What did Mr. Dedman say?
– I do not know what the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) said, and I shall not be drawn into a discussion along those lines. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has merely quoted reports from newspapers alleging what the Minister said. However, when lie has been a member of this Senate for a little longer, he will place very little reliance upon newspaper reports. To-day, he is only making acquaintance with the oldest and stalest technique of the press. The newspapers first print a story and then ask members of the Parliament whether it is true or false. An honorable senator who has been a member of this chamber for only a comparatively short period will usually say whether the story is true, or false; and in doing so he will give to the newspapers the information which they seek. However, when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has had a little more experience in his contacts with representatives of the press he will not confirm, or deny, any of their stories of that kind because he will see in them a bait for some fish.
Dealing with the work at the guided projectiles range, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to a statement alleged to have been made by the Minister for Defence. I do not know whether the Minister made such a statement. If it is based solely on press reports the odds are greatly against such a possibility. He stated that he was completely satisfied with the security precautions observed at the guided missiles range, and 1. simply add that the Government is also completely satisfied with the security precautions observed at that undertaking. However, allowance must always be made for the human element in such matters, and if by some mischance the Deputy Leader of the Opposition receives some important secret information concerning the guided missiles range which may effect our security, I shall be most dis appointed if he reveals it in this chamber. Indeed, I am certain that he would not do so. The fact remains, however, that a colleague of the honorable senator in the House of Representatives did precisely that.
– There is no proof of that.
– The right honorable gentleman to whom I refer asked a similar question in the House of Representatives to that asked of Ministers and members of Parliament by newspaper reporters daily. After reciting the contents of what he claimed was a secret document he said, in effect, “ Is that true or false?” He also referred to photostats and other matters connected with the disclosure which he had made. I cannot understand why he did not approach the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), as 1 believe every honorable senator would do in similar circumstances, and say, “1 have a document which points to some leakage of information relating to defence.” Sentaor Harris told me that when the former Prime Minister, the late Mr. John Curtin, was confronted with a similar situation when he was Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, he declined an invitation to make public the nature of the document of which he had obtained possession. He said, in effect: “The Parliament is not for that purpose ; this is something which I must discuss with the Prime Minister alone”. And that is the only honorable course which any honorable man could follow. I should not have mentioned the matter had net the Deputy Leader of the Opposition endeavoured to defend an attitude which I regard as indefensible. I might put the position to the honorable senator in another way. In the Parliament of Queensland there is an avowed Communist named Patterson. If that gentleman were to take secret documents into the Parliament of Queensland, blazon them forth to the world, and then claim privilege, what would the Deputy Leader of the Opposition say of his claim to privilege?
– say that we had a very poor security service.
– That is not the point, however. Assuming that the security service was not efficient, the fact remains that a member of the Parliament 19 not entitled to damage the national interest by making unwarranted public disclosure of secret information. After all, the special committee of the United States Congress, which was established to investigate un-American activities, has demonstrated that during and since the war people who were never suspected, have been guilty of very strange behaviour. As long as men are prepared to risk their lives to obtain secret information there will be leakages, irrespective of the efficiency of any security service. We need only remind ourselves of the splendid rewards paid to spies, who are successful, and the drastic treatment of those who are detected, to realize that it is almost impossible to prevent some leakage despite the activities of even the most efficient security service. However, that may be, I never thought that a member of a political party in Opposition would, to paraphrase the Prime Minister’s words, advertise the fact that any one, whether he be a spy, a Communist or any one else who had something to sell or something to give away which could harm the nation, could bring it to him and he would promise him complete immunity, and would refuse to communicate any information to security officers. The situation outlined by the Prime Minister is exactly that which confronts is this evening.
– The Appropriation Bill now before the Senate indicates the present prosperity of the country, and the Government should be congratulated on the way in which it has administered the nation’s affairs during the war and in the post-war period. I do not think that any previous administration has been able to point to such a condition of prosperity.
To-night the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator 0’ Sullivan) ridiculed the remarks made by Senator Nash concerning the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in the course of this debate. However, I point out that Senator Nash went into considerable detail to explain the establishment and functions of that body, and to show that they relate to matters concerning primary and secondary industries. He emphasized that that body was not appointed to investigate defence matters, but the Deputy Leader of the Opposition simply asserted that he was wrong. Of course, .he could not substantiate his assertion, which was similar to many allegations which he has made previously. For that reason I was pleased when the Minister for Supply and Development (Senator Armstrong) referred, in the course of his reply to Senator O’sullivan, to the matter of the. secret documents which has been the subject of so much recent discussion. That matter, like the case of the Australian girls in Manila, is being used as a political football by members of the Opposition, who have forsaken their old line of attack. For two years they have been accusing the Government and members of the Australian Labour party of collaboration with the Communist party, but they have now abandoned that line of attack for the time being to exploit, the other matters to which I have referred. In my opinion the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) in the House of Representatives lowered himself to the gutter by doing what he did. His conduct is all the more discreditable in view of the treatment accorded to him when he was Prime Minister by the late Mr. John Curtin, the then Leader of the Opposition in that House. An article recently appeared in the press which sets out the circumstances very clearly. It is as follows : -
Seven years ago the late John Curtin, then Labour Opposition leader, came into possession of a confidential document. On 17th September, 1941, he asked a carefully worded question in Parliament about public administration. He did not refer to the document, first hint of which was given by the then Prime Minister. Said Curtin, in the debate that followed: “ I am not in the habit of having secrets given to me by employees of the Crown. The first thing that I did was to take the matter straight to the head of the Australian Government “. When then Attorney-General Hughes interjected. Curtin said, ‘’ Does the right honorable member think that I ought to read all the documents in this place? I do not at the moment consider that it is a matter for this House to decide”. The then Prime Minister: “Hear! Hear! “
Curtin : “ I now say to the country that the head of the Australian Government had the text of both documents (one was a report, the other copy of a cable), and that they were made available to him. for his perusal as early as was practicable for me to hand then to him “.
First public appearance of the documents was in the royal commission that followed. Central figure in that commission was former miners’ leader, the late Charles Nelson. The Prime Minister to whom Curtin handed the documents was Arthur Fadden.
That is the traitor–
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator NICHOLLS) . - Order ! The honorable senator may not make continual references to a member of the House of Representatives.
– The recent case of the secret documents was first mentioned by members of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, and I content myself with having recounted the action taken, by a former Labour Leader of the Opposition, who later became Prime Minister, and contrasted it with the action taken by the Leader of the Australian. Country party in similar circumstances. In fairness to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who attempted to defend the action taken by the right honorable gentleman, I think that he does not know a great deal about the matter and was relying on what he had read, in the Melbourne Herald. We all know the background of that newspaper.
I propose now to refer to the estimates for the Commonwealth Railways. It is proposed to expend £2,406,000 during the current financial year, which will be an increase of £317,389 over the expenditure for the preceding financial year. The increase will be absorbed by general improvements in the conditions of employees, improved transport facilities on Commonwealth railways, and. the provision of every possible assistance to employees. Although Senator Rankin complained that she was disgusted with the conditions under which people were living along the transcontinental railway route, they are much better than the conditions which existed a few years ago. I have travelled frequently on the transcontinental line during the last fifteen years, and I know that the conditions of employees before the Labour party came into power were disgraceful. They had. no real houses. Married men and their families were accommodated in- long weatherboard shanties divided by partitions. Had Senator Rankin made a careful examination, she would have found1 that those people are now living- in modern homes equipped with up-to-date amenities, such as refrigerators, which have been provided by this Government to lighten the burden of the housewives. I invite any honorable senator who hasoccasion to travel from Port Pirie toKalgoorlie to interview the Commonwealth railway employees and their wives and ask them what they think about their present living conditions. 1 am sure that the answer will be that conditions have vastly improved since theLabour party came into power. The Government has provided, amongst otherthings, for the establishment of general stores at all main depots along the line. Each store, which has a manager incharge, stocks anything that might reasonably be required for household use, such as groceries, clothing and medicines. Until these stores were erected, a. “ teaandsugartrain “ arrived once or twice a week and, if the people wanted anything’ apart from ordinary household supplies, they had to send to Port Pirie or Kalgoorlie. This Government was quick to appreciate the difficulties of life along the. transcontinental line and. took action to make conditions more comfortable for the men and their families. AntiLabour governments did not even promiseto do any of the things that this Government has done during the last three or four years.
Senator Rankin’s criticism of travelling conditions on the transcontinentaltrain was unjustified. I have met many travellers on that route, including overseas tourists, and their general opinionhas been that the trip is a wonderful experience. Senator Rankin said that dust was a nuisance, that the train rode roughly, that the speed was too low, and that there was no air-conditioning. Perhaps the honorable senator expected to find first-class hotel accommodation when, she stepped aboard the train at Port Pirie. I can vouch for the fact that conditions on the train are equal to those on’ any train in the world. Probably Senator Rankin has rarely travelled beyond the limits of the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge lines- of Queensland, where the shaky trains are- rather like thos© of Western Australia. The condition of Western Australian roik ing- stock isi similar to that of Queensland hut I hope that, it: will be improved in the aseas future. I cannot allow to pass unchallenged any complaint that the transcontinental train is not fit to travel in.. The line passes for a long distance over a sandy desert and the foundation upon which it is. laid does not permit high speeds like those which are maintained by heavy trains in New South Wales and Victoria. An attempt was made to speed up the service by using heavy locomotives. A special locomotive was. tested, but unfortunately its weight was so great that, at- high speeds, it spread the line. This Government has provided both employees and the public “with the services to which they are entitled. During the war it set a magnificent, example to private industry in the management of munitions factories and annexes, where it provided comfortable canteens and other amenities for the workers. It made available to private employers who wished, to emulate that example the advice and assistance of officers of the Department of Social Services. But, of course, private employers who had to pay for such improvements out of their own funds did not dream of installing canteens. Those who were engaged on war production on a cost-plus basis provided all sorts of conveniences for the workers, but naturally the Government paid for them eventually through the cost-plus system.
Standardization of railway gauges has’ been advocated by the Labour party for many, years. It has been the subject of discussion over since tha Commonwealth Line from. Kalgoorlie to Port Pirie was laid., However, when the Opposition parties were in power they made no serious attempt to bring the scheme to fruition. This Government has been very active in that direction and has submitted to each State government a detailed estimate of the costs that would be involved in standardizing gauges and has even, surveyed, a route, for a standard gauge line between Kalgoorlie and Perth. Anti-Labour State governments are holding up work on this project, but this Government” will proceed with it as* soon as possible. I hope that a standard, gauge
Mince! will be. in service from east to west of: the continent, with branches serving portions of. the Northern Territory, in the- not, distant future. Standardization will be of. great, advantage to the whole oil Australia. It will assist residents of the cattle- raising areas in the northern part of the continent and will be of great value from a defence- point of view. We all remember the tremendous difficulties which confronted military authorities during the war in transporting war materials- and: troops across the continent. Completion, of. a standard gauge line will, reduce the normal travelling time from east to west bv days. Changes of trains will be’ eliminated; -and the plans envisage- ». considerable reduction of the distance uo.w. travelled.
Thu Government also lias plans for the establishment of a Commonwealth shipping line. I hope that it will undertake an adequate programme for the construction of naval ships and 10,000 ton trading vessels, which also would be useful for defence. The Australian Shipping Board did an excellent job during the war in controlling interstate shipping. Since its operations terminated, we have learned the disadvantages of private control. But for the Commonwealth’s administration, Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia would’ have suffered greatly during the Avar by reason of selfish mismanagement by _ private owners. I believe that the shipping companies have fallen down on their job and 1. hope that, a few years hence, all interstate shipping will be under Commonwealth control.. Such a scheme will have great defence value and also will benefit the less populous States. Experience with the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers showed that government control keeps freight charges down to a minimum.. Governments fix. low tariffs, whereas private companies exploit the consumers. The Commonwealth Government has proved’ its ability to operate shipping lines, and I hope that in the not distant future Commonwealth-owned shipping will dominate ova coastal trade.
Much has. been said about social, services. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator 0’ Sulliv.an) doubts the- permanence of our present, financial buoyancy, but I believe that the economic stability that has been established by the Labour Government during the past seven years will continue for many years to come. In 1938-39 our social service bill was approximately £15,000,000. Last year it was more than £68,000,000, and the estimate for the current year is approximately £SS,000,000, an increase of more than £73,000,000 over the 193S-39 expenditure. Until a few years ago, social services were paid out of general revenue. There was no selfsupporting scheme. The Labour Government, in addition to increasing social services substantially, has found a solution to the problem of finance. To-day, social services are financed by a special social services contribution, which is paid into the National Welfare Fund. That fund is self-supporting. Receipts from the social services contribution exceed expenditure on social services. This I submit amply justifies the Government’s action in increasing social services. In some instances, the increases have exceeded 100 per cent. During the term of office of the Labour administration, new social services, including the widow’s pension, have been introduced, child endowment payments have been doubled, and the maternity allowance has been increased from £5 to £15. Our present social services scheme is entirely different from that envisaged in 1938 by the then Treasurer, Mr. R. G. Casey, who secured the passage by this Parliament of the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act. The Government of which he was a member found that the problem was too big to be tackled, and the legislation was never proclaimed. The entire scheme was abandoned by that incompetent administration after hundreds of thousands of pounds had been poured down the drain. No questions were ever asked about the manner in which that money was expended. It was squandered through incompetency. Our present social services scheme is sound and, whilst full employment continues, there is no danger of social service payments being reduced. Employment creates employment, and as we found in the depression years from 1929 onwards, unemployment creates unemployment. The prosperity that we enjoy to-day is not a boom.
It is economic stability due to sound administration. The Government is to be commended for the manner in which it has administered the affairs of this country during the last seven years.
– The measure now under consideration provides for the appropriation of £176,714,000 from Consolidated Revenue to maintain the progress and the development of this country in the current financial year. The allocation of this huge sum to the various departments, and its subsequent expenditure, requires careful consideration and integrity on the part of those whose duty it is to ensure that public funds shall he properly expended. In this matter, members of the Parliament, and particularly members of the Senate, play an important part. It is not possible for any Minister to speak with authority on the affairs of all departments, but the assembling in this Parliament, of the elected representatives of the people, coming as they do from all walks of life, and having widespread experience of labour and industry, permits the combined weight of fact and reason to be brought to bear on this debate. 1 1 is my intention to confine my remarks to subjects of which I have some knowledge, and on which I seek further information. The measure provides for the expenditure of £1,873,000 by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on research in 27 different categories ranging from animal health to radio-physics. One matter to which considerable attention is being paid is research into soil and irrigation. I draw the attention of honorable senators to a very important development that is taking place overseas, particularly in Japan. When 1 visited that country recently, as a member of the parliamentary delegation. I visited a huge hydroponics farm just outside Tokyo. There we saw vegetables and cereals growing without any soil at all. They were growing in a special solution held in long troughs. Nitrogen and other fertilizers are fed to the plants in liquid form. In a country which is impoverished by poor soil, and has large isolated tracts of land where the provision of fresh food is difficult, that scheme is excellent. It could also be adapted to provide vegetables at lighthouses, and other such places where there is not sufficient soil for gardening purposes. In view of the fact that; most European people who live in Asiatic communities are not very much in favour of the Oriental method of growing crops with the use of night soil, hydroponic farming seems to be destined to become important. Together with contour ploughing, and other methods of soil conservation, hydroponic farming could be utilized to some degree in this country.
Substantial sums of money are being provided for fisheries research work. In the United .Kingdom, one-third of the total of all foodstuffs consumed comes from the sea, but in this country sea foods play only a very small part in our diet. We have a long coastline, and we know that, periodically, large shoals of fish are in the vicinity of our shores. There is great scope for the development of the fishing industry, and the provision of money for research work is most commendable.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is also to carry out research into nuclear energy. We have heard quite a lot about atomic bombs, but I suggest seriously to this chamber that it requires a great deal more than an atom of sense to make sense of the atom. We have heard exaggerated stories about the potentialities of the atom bomb, but [ have no doubt that as soon as this weapon was used - first at Hiroshima and later, but with not so much success, at Nagasaki - the nations of the world began u> search for a counter. For every weapon that has ever been invented, a counter has been devised and I suggest, that whilst the councils of the United Nations are discussing this terrifying weapon, the atom bomb, there probably exists in the atmosphere an element capable of neutralizing the effects of the bomb. For instance, -by the use of cosmic rays, and a number of other modern discoveries, before very long we may find the counter that we are seeking. Numerous military and scientific experiments are being carried out. We have, for instance, radar interception. The development of proximity fuses has gone beyond the experimental stage.
I am most interested in the activities of the Department of Repatriation for which an appropriation of £1,548,000 is being made under this measure for the medical treatment of ex-servicemen. The sum allocated for vocational training by the Repatriation Department is £1,037,000. This is all most commendable, but I believe that we should be doing more to restore the broken health of ex-servicemen. An ex-serviceman who has lost a. limb is provided with an artificial limb of the best type available, but I believe that, although we have our own artificial limb factories in this country, some of our ex-servicemen who are engaged in the manufacture of those limbs, should be sent overseas to study the extraordinary developments that are taking place. In view of the fact that we provide artificial limbs for limbless exservicemen, I believe -that we should do something more to assist men who have lost their eyesight. I refer to the provision of “ seeing eye “ dogs. These faithful animals are trained to assist exservicemen, particularly blinded ex-servicemen, to return to almost normal activities. In the United Kingdom there are 80,000 blind people, and in that country, as well as in the United States of America, schools have been set up to train “seeing eye “ dogs which are made available to exservicemen. Any one who is fond of dogs will realize that such an animal could not only be of great value to a sightless ex-serviceman, but also could offer companionship. I spoke to a blinded Imperial ex-serviceman who recently arrived in this country and he told me that one of the greatest wrenches he felt in leaving home to come here was when he had to leave behind his dog, which had so devotedly and affectionately guided him around the streets and was not only his sixth sense but also his great friend and companion. I therefore make that suggestion to the Repatriation Department, because I consider that there is nothing by which we can make more happy the lives of those deprived of their eyesight that we should leave undone. That applies particularly to those who lost their sight in the service of their country in war.
Another matter that comes under the heading of the Department of the
Interior is the City of Canberra, considered as a tourist attraction. Canberra is a beautiful place with many tourist attractions. Large numbers of people come here, visit the Parliament and after spending some time in the public galleries gaze at the various paintings in King’s Hall. That is all very fine, but, as Senator Lamp, my colleague from Tasmania, reminded me some time ago, we have a very great opportunity to make Canberra the centre not only of our administration, but also of our tourist activities. Canberra is not far from Jervis Bay, which has a wonderful natural harbour and fine beaches. Canberra, moreover, is a city laid out in a natural setting and has a real tourist appeal, which I think should be advertised more, so that its ‘attractions may be better known to the people of Australia. Too often do people regard Canberra .as merely the administrative centre of Australia, a place to which members of Parliament come from time to time to give vent to their feelings and express thir views. I am disappointed with the facilities for aquatic sport provided in Canberra. We have a small swimming pool, but why not a pool of olympic standards to which we can attract swimmers from all over Australia for contests? The sum of £2,500 provided for the Canberra Tourist Bureau for publicity purposes. When one considers the large amount of revenue which Tasmania derives from its tourist trade, the amount provided for the Canberra Tourist Bureau appears to be very inadequate.
I consider that -we do not impress sufficiently on the minds of immigrants the great privilege that they are being granted in becoming Australian citizens. Persons of foreign extraction who have been here for some time become eligible for the privilege of naturalization, h,y which means they may become Australian citizens, but we regard all that very casually and in an offhand manner. A naturalized alien receives his certificate of naturalization, and, off be goes. In the United States and other countries the naturalization of an alien is treated as a very important matter. A ceremony is held during which those who aTe to become citizens are impressed with the great -privilege which they are receiving. I believe that many people who come to Australia from foreign countries become naturalized purely and simply because they have been here foi a long time. Hut they have learned very little about the finer aspects of government .in this country. I consider that a copy of the Constitution .should be handed to them during the ceremony that I suggest be instituted, when they would also be given their certificates of naturalization.
We have heard a great deal to-night about what has been said in another place regarding allegedly secret documents, and I listened with great interest to the reply by the Minister for Supply and Development (Senator Armstrong). My view of the matter is that when any man who has served in the interests of Australia both overseas and in this Parliament, .realizes that something which , has come into his possession either by accident or design is dangerous and that it would be against the interests of the country to reveal it, he should make up his mind that as it would not be in the interests of the country to reveal it he should not do so. There is no question of privilege or of what we are entitled to say in this Parliament or outside. All I have to say is that when a person comes into possession of anything that might be damaging to the interests of the country he should make it available to those whose duty it is to prevent any further leakages.
This Appropriation Bill covers a tremendous field and I have no hesitation in saying that it contains conclusive evidence of Australia’s progress under the present Government.
Senator O’FLAHERTY (South Australia) [10.7 J. - Honorable senators have heard a dissertation to-night from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan) on the matter of the investigation service. He made quite a number of statements that on second thoughts, I am sure, he does not believe to be true. Honorable senators .should hesitate before quoting statements from the press and building a case upon them. Over a period of years the Opposition has been .seizing upon statements in the press from time to time to build cases upon them. In the first place the statements which have been quoted were lies,, upon which the Opposition has built. The press itself has on frequent occasions followed the same tactics of building more lies on one original lie. However, when we have an honorable senator doing exactly the same thing then T think we are playing the game of politics pretty low down. All the talk about secret documents apparently emanated from a statement that appeared originally in the Sydney press.. The article that appeared in a Sydney newspaper stated that America would, not disclose some secret documents or processes to Australia because it distrusted us. That story has been published all over the world.. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not tell the Senate - although there was an interjection from this side of the House which gave Mm the opportunity to do so - that the moment an article sensational enough to warrant overseas publication appears in any newspaper it is syndicated and is sent all over the world through either Reuter’s or some other newsagency. That is why exactly the same statements appear in all parts of the world that are linked up by newsagencies such as Router’s or the Associated Press. A lie which was printed originally in a Sydney newspaper was enlarged upon and sent all over the world, and then it was quoted here tonight as authentic because it had appeared in newspapers in different countries. We have had’ experience in. the past of honorable gentlemen using press statements to build up a, case and I have no- doubt that that is what has happened in connexion- with this report about atomic research secrets. Because these reports have been circulated and all sorts of charges have been, made against the Government in connexion, with security, the controversy has. led to other matters- such as the allegation repeated in this chamber to-night that certain members of. the Public Service are not trustworthy because somebody has said so in. the news-papers, or that A us.tralia is- unable to- participate in atomic energy development. I- couple with that the? statements that have- been made from time to time by opponents of the Labour party and, the Labour Government to the effect that that Government leans towards Communists because it is sympathetic to Russia. All the statements about American reluctance to impart defence secrets to Australia have been bred from the lie that in the first place was published in a Sydney newspaper. When talking of America denying secrets of atomic energy research to Australia it is well to remember that such statements are on the wrong foundation altogether, because America precludes its government officers from having any dealings with anybody else in relation to atomic energy. An act of the United States Congress precludes officers of the Government from dealing with any other country in connexion with atomic energy. Section 10 of the United States act for the development and control of atomic energy is headed “ Control of Information “ and provides that -
Until Congress declares by joint resolution that effective and enforceable international safeguards against the use of atomic energy for destructive purposes have been established there shall be no exchange of information with other nations with respect to the use of atomic energy for industrial purposes.
Some people contend that that provision relates only to the use of atomic energy for industrial purposes. That is not so. It will be seen that Congress must by joint resolution be satisfied that effective international control has been set up before- the government of that country can share such information with any other nation-. It is also contended that that provision applies- only to the use of atomic energy for industrial purposes, but any honorable senator- who has” read some of the pamphlets- and scientific reports which have been issued on- the subject knows that for. all intents- and purposes atomic energy and nuclear energy are one and the same. To-day every country has set up organizations to engage in scientific research in this purposes atomic energy and nuclear sphere. All members of the British Commonwealth of Nations aTe acting conjointly in. that respect. For instance, we have a guided projectiles range in this country. That project is being undertaken in, conjunction with other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, particularly Great Britain. The Opposition parties, in pursuance of their policy of . smearing the Government, is endeavouring to discredit it by alleging that it is not taking sufficient precautions to safeguard the secrecy of the work at that range. However, any honorable senator who has visited the range knows that no outsider has any hope whatever of obtaining any information about that work. No one is allowed to visit the area until he has been absolutely “ vetted “ by the Minister for Supply and Development and the Commonwealth Investigation Service; and when any person is permitted to visit it he is accompanied at all times by an official. The result is that even on the range itself one cannot obtain any information which officials connected with the project do not desire to be divulged. Therefore, the charge made by the Opposition parties in respect of that work will not “ stick “. Even officers of industrial organizations who desire to visit the range must first obtain permission to do so from the Commonwealth Investigation Service, and they are accompanied by an official throughout the whole of their visit. The charges made by the Opposition are founded upon a lie which first saw the light of day in the press. That lie has been built upon. That is the usual technique of the Opposition parties, as it has been that of all anti-Labour parties in their attempts to smear Labour. A particular statement is first published in the press and is then enlarged upon. That is followed by all sorts of statements similar to those made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to-night. I have proved that the United States of America will not share its atomic secrets with any other nation until the American Congress is satisfied that effective international safeguards against the use of atomic energy for destructive purposes have been established. Therefore, the charges made by the Opposition parties are founded upon an absolute lie.
When the Opposition parties go so far as to impugn the honesty of the Minister for Defence (M)-. Dedman) there is something radically wrong with their case. I do not’ propose to deal with the parti- cular documents to which reference has been made. Personally, I believe that what happened is that somebody made a statement, had it typed and obtained photostats of the typescript. J believe that in that way the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) has been completely hoodwinked. However, when the Opposition parties impugn the honesty of the Minister, I remind them of conditions which they allowed to exist in thi? country during the war until the Labour Government assumed office in 1941. The Opposition parties when they were in office during those years continually quarrelled among themselves. In their eyes the security of Australia did not count. When the Labour Government assumed office it found that anti-Labour governments which preceded it, although they had been in office for many years, had done nothing to strengthen the defences of Australia. . Those governments merely issued statements on this and that, but they made no effort to provide for scientific research in the field of defence. Events which occurred from 1939 to 1941 provide ample evidence of that fact. When the Labour Government assumed office in 1941 there was only one “ bits and pieces “ radar unit in this country. Shortly afterwards, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was engaged in the development of radar, and throughout the remainder of the war not one unauthorized person knew what stage those developments reached. As we know, radar is capable of detecting the approach of a submarine, or aeroplane, at great distances. The Opposition parties knew nothing whatever about those developments,- yet they now impugn the honesty of the Minister for Defence and officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research who carried out that work. Only a very few persons on the highest level knew anything about that work. The secrets involved were shared with the British Government and. later, with the American Government. Many people, including a number of members of the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force, were engaged in manning radar equipment, but events proved that there was never any danger that any personnel engaged in that undertaking would disclose any information about it. Yet, the Opposition parties have the audacity to say that the Minister for Defence or officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research cannot be trusted. “Work of a secret nature is being carried out at various universities, hut does any one suggest that information regarding such work is being divulged by the personnel engaged on it? The Opposition parties say to the Government, You cannot trust this chap or that hap “. Can the Opposition parties cite any -specific information of a secret nature which has been divulged by officers engaged on it? They cannot do so. Yet, they now allege that officers of the Council for -Scientific and Industrial Research have divulged defence secrets. The plain fact is that the- Opposition’ parties are simply fishing. They are always endeavouring, in an effort to build up other allegations, to get some one to say that such and such an allegation is right or wrong. That -is their method of endeavouring to obtain information which is available only on’ a high ministerial plane. The Opposition parties do not hesitate to do a disservice to the country, just as they did prior to 1941, when they quarrelled amongst themselves and were content to let the country, although faced with invasion, go to the dogs. Indeed, the strategy of anti-Labour governments during the early stages of the war was to allow the Japanese to take the northern half of Australia and to concentrate on the defence of the industrial areas in tho south. Yet they now say to the people, “ You must not trust the Labour party “. The Opposition parties are simply out to destroy the Government bv smearing individual Ministers. They have “ stool pigeons “ throughout the country trying to /et some “ smear “ upon some member of the Government, or the Labour movement, in order to defeat the Government. They claim that the Government is on the way out. I assure them that it will retain office for many years to come, because the people of Australia, in spite of anti-Labour propaganda and filth, are beginning to see through such tactics. Our opponents have been using the press and the wireless in a smear campaign against the Government. In the ‘recent
State elections in Tasmania they spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in a vicious smear campaign. They sent special speakers to Tasmania to address meetings and to write articles for publication in the press, the purpose of which was to associate the Tasmanian Labour Government with the national Labour Government. Hardly a sentence which they uttered, or a line of propaganda which they wrote, did not contain an attack on the national Labour Government. Notwithstanding their efforts, the Tasmanian Labour party, although it lost one seat, won the elections and retained the- right to govern Tasmania. The anti-Labour parties are now resorting to new methods, but those methods are all part of the campaign to smear the Government. They are seeking to induce the people to forget the achievement!) of the Government. All kinds of cheap sensationalism are being employed in the effort to divert tho attention of the people from the achievements of the Government. A typical example is the hullabaloo which has been raised about the Australian girls in Manilla. I remember very well the circumstances which gave rise to the enactment of legislation to protect girls who were taken from this country to perform work overseas. About the time federation was achieved, the legislation provided that the person who took the girls away must contract to return them to this country. Australia, in common with other countries, was involved in the white slave traffic, just as it might again become involved in it. Theatrical companies and other organizations used to engage young attractive Australian girls for theatrical performances in South Amenca and other countries. Very often the companies failed and the unfortunate girls were left stranded in a foreign country. It then became the responsibility and the financial hurden of the Australian Government to bring them back. A similar situation now exists in regard to the girls who were engaged by the United States forces for work outside Australia. It is immaterial whether the party who contracts to return the girls to Australia after their work has been completed be a -private concern or a government.
Whena contract of that . kindhas been made it mustbe carried out. When the girls have completed their part ofthe contract with the UnitedStates authorities, they must be returned by those authorities. Because some of the girls have not come back a hullabaloo has been raised, and the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has been accused of taking allsorts of tyrannicalaction . The plain fact is that he is simply seeking to have the terms of the contract by which the girls left Australia carried out. If any girl chooses to marry an American, no one willquarrel with her, but we must ensure that the interest of the girls are properly safeguarded. We do not want a repetition of the happenings in South America many years ago, when unfortunate Australian girls who were strandedhad to seek a livelihood in brothels and other places. I do not propose to discuss that matter at any further length, and I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator,&c. - 1948-
No.68 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association and others.
No. 69 -Federated Clerks’Union of Australia.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of Works and Housing
S. Hallisey, V. M. Oppel, L.E. Schunke,D. C. Shannon, R. H. Thomas.
Defence (TransitionalProvisions) Act -
NatlonalSecurity (IndustrialProperty ) Regulations - Orders- Inventions and designs (.15).
National Security (Liquid Fuel) Regulations- Order- 1948, No. 2.
National Security (Prices)RegulationsOrder - No. 341-1 (substitute copy).
Lands Acquisition Act-Land acquired for Postal purposes -
Belmore, New SouthWales.
Month . Ryde,New South Wales.
Senate adjourned . at10.35p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 October 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1948/19481020_senate_18_199/>.