18th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I understand that officers representing the Materials Handling Bureau of the Division of Industrial Development of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction have recently made a number of inspections of woolsheds in sheep-raising districts and have examined the methods used for the handling of wool. Can the Minister representing the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction advise me concerning the work on which those officers have been engaged, and also concerning the outcome of their investigations?
– I understand that expert officers of the Materials Handling Bureau of the Division of Industrial Development of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction have, at the request of the Australian Wool Board, carried out investigations over a period into the problem of transporting the wool clip from shearing sheds to ports and stores in the most rapid and economical manner. The officers concerned in the investigations are experts in such matters, and have already carried out research into other phases of industry with highly Successful results. The report of the burcau concerning the investigations is not yet available, but it is known already that the officers concerned will be able to demonstrate the possibility of effecting a substantial saving in handling costs between woolsheds and shipping ports. I need not remind the Senate that wool is Australia’s most important industry, and it is hoped that the recommendations made by the bureau will result in a considerable saving of time and money, not only for the wool-growers, but also for all other sections of the community concerned in the marketing of wool. I think that Senator Sandford can expect that the report of the bureau’s officers will greatly benefit, not only the wool industry, but also Australia’s economy generally.
– I preface a question to the Postmaster-General by saying that I have received a radiogram from friends on Orion at sea, in which they complain bitterly about the lack of air mail services from Australia, a complaint that has also been voiced by many other people including myself when travelling. Will the Postmaster-General investigate the complaint in order that the service to seatravellers may be improved?
– I have yet to learn that the service is unsatisfactory, but since a complaint has been made I shall have inquiries made and inform the honorable senator of the result as soon as possible.
– In view of the desirability of co-ordinating the production and distribution of coal throughout Australia and the benefits that would accrue to those States that are not at present identified with the operations of the Joint Coal Board, will the Minister for Shipping and Fuel inform me whether negotiations have been entered upon with the States concerned to co-ordinate the production and distribution of coal throughout Australia ?
– Opportunities have been offered to the governments of the various States to place the coalmining industry under the jurisdiction of the Joint Coal Board so that mineworkers may enjoy the amenities that are provided by that tribunal. Tasmania is the only State that has accepted the offer. Discussions are now taking place between, representatives of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department and the Tasmanian AttorneyGeneral’s Department with a view to framing the legislation that will be necessary to give effect to the wish indicated by the honorable senator.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that quantities of Mussett prefabricated steel buildings are being imported duty free into Tasmania from the United Kingdom for use as schools and stores by the Education Department and the HyrdoElectric Commission in that State? Is he also aware that similar buildings imported for use as homes, farm buildings, milking sheds, model dairies, &c, are subject to a duty of 27-J per cent?
In view of the availability of the necessary steel material in the United Kingdom, the urgent need for such buildings for the development of this country, and the fact that the material cannot be manufactured in Australia, will the Minister consider reducing the duty upon such items and granting import licences for it?
– This matter has .received considerable attention from the Government and the Department of Trade and Customs. I understand that numbers of prefabricated houses have been imported into Tasmania free of duty. The Department of “Works and Housing is at present calling for tenders for the importation of approximately 10,000 prefabricated houses, on which duty will be waived. I also understand that arrangements will be made for this Government to pay freight upon those buildings in order that their costs will be brought approximately into line with the costs of houses that are built locally. The Department of Trade and Customs waives the duty upon housing materials and similar commodities if they are Dot available in Australia. The Government has a responsibility to protect local industries through the tariff, but if materials needed for the construction of farm buildings such as the honorable senator has mentioned are not manufactured in Australia, the custom is to waive the import duty. Prefabricated houses and other commodities that are in short supply, such as tractors and various types of other machinery, are admitted from the United Kingdom free of duty. Commodities of that character imported from countries other than the United Kingdom are liable to a preferential duty of 12-J .per cent. That tariff must apply to all such goods not imported from the United Kingdom. I assure all honorable senators that in respect of all goods in short supply, such as galvanized iron and wire, on which import duty would be levelled in ordinary circumstances, that duty is now waived in most instances. Every encouragement is being given to importers to obtain supplies of materials and commodities that are essential to Australian industries. Indeed, the Government has sent representatives to various countries in order to find new sources of supplies with the object of assisting industry throughout the Commonwealth. The Government is doing everything possible in that direction.
– In view of the many charges that are made against the Government that it is not co-operating with the States in the provision, of housing, will the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Housing inform the Senate of the number of homes that were constructed in each State during the five years immediately preceding the outbreak of the recent war and the degree of assistance that the Government provided to the States under their housing programmes during that period? Will he also inform the Senate of the number of homes that were constructed in each State during the four years immediately following the end of the recent war, and also the degree of assistance that the Government rendered to the States under their housing programmes during that period?
– Offhand, I am not able to supply the information for which the honorable senator has asked. However, I can safely say that during the period of five years immediately preceding the recent war there was practically no activity at all by the Australian Government in home building. To-day, the position has altered materially. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper, I shall obtain the information for which he has asked.
– I understand that the Minister representing the Minister for Transport now has available a reply to the question that I asked on the 5th October concerning the progress that has been made towards reaching agreements with the States concerned in respect of the standardization of railway gauges.
– The Minister for Transport has supplied the following information : -
The Commonwealth Government signed an agreement with the Premiers of the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, for the standardization of the railway systems of those States and for certain Commonwealth works, as set out in the Railways Standardization Agreement Act, No. 50 of 1946. As honorable senators are aware, the agreement had to be validated by the passing of legislation by the Commonwealth and by the three States concerned before the agreement could become law. The agreement was ratified by all parties except New South Wales and consistent endeavours have been made to induce the New South Wales Government to introduce a validating act.
Recently, the Prime Minister drew the attention of the New South Wales Premier to the serious effect of the delay upon the ordering programmes of the States which had passed the necessary legislation, and informed him that, unless New South Wales could see its Way to introduce the necessary ratifying legislation, the Commonwealth would be compelled to enter into separate agreements with the States of Victoria and South Australia. As New South Wales did not reply, arrangements were made for the Premier of South Australia to visit Canberra on Friday last for the purpose of negotiating a separate agreement. Similar arrangements will be made with Victoria, at a very early date.
In addition to the States concerned in the Commonwealth-Three States Agreement, discussions have taken place with the Western Australian Government, whose railways are in a parlous condition. The Ministers for Transport and for Housing for the State of Western Australia, accompanied by technical officers, visited Canberra last week for further discussions. The position in regard to Western Australia is that the Commonwealth has made an offer to assist the State in standardizing the main Kalgoorlie-Perth-Fremantle line and in rehabilitating the remainder of the existing 3-ft. 6-in. system. The Commonwealth Government intends to pursue its policy of standardization.
– I direct the following questions to the Minister for Health: - 1. Has the Minister read a report from London in this morning’s press that doctors of 24 nations attending the Congress of the World Medical Association have approved a code which says that for a doctor to take part in any plan of medical care in which he does not have complete professional independence is unethical? 2. Has the Minister read the comments of the secretary of the British Medical Association, Dr. J. G. Hunter, on the code adopted by the World Medical Association, in which he stated that although doctors in Australia do not oppose medical benefits if the people want them, doctors clearly and definitely - and very dearly - hold the view that they will not admit themselves to any scheme which infringes their professional freedom? and 3. Could not these principles be applied in an endeavour- to overcome the deadlock which exists between the Government and the British Medical Association in the implementation of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme?
– I have not read to-day’s press, and I have not seen the comments of Dr. Hunter. Assuming that the press report of the Congress of the World Medical Association is accurate, and that Dr. Hunter was reported accurately, I draw attention to the fact that this Government has never sought to; interfere with the medical discretion of a doctor. ‘It will be recalled that when this Government sought a mandate from the people in connexion with medical and dental services, the Government included behind the power to provide those free services free, the words “but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription “. Some persons have, attempted to make it appear that the Government was interfering with the real discretion of a doctor in determining on what form he should write his prescription. I shall make the Government’s outlook and attitude clear. It relies upon this power to- provide pharmaceutical benefits. There is under the scheme, as now amended - a purely voluntary, scheme - not the slightest intention to interfere with the medical discretion of a doctor. In other words, at no stage has he- been told what he ought- to prescribe, or in what proportions he ought to prescribe* The furthest the Government went wast to say that if in his completely unfettered medical discretion he decided to prescribe a particular medicant for his patient, and-.it was within, the formulary, he should write the prescription on a- form that, would enable the medicine to be obtained free; I assure honorable senators and other people interested in my answer, that this Government has no desire whatever to interfere between doctor and patient, or in the exercise of a clear discretion by the doctor.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce a<nd Agriculture inform the Senate how much per lb. Australia is receiving for butter exported to the United Kingdom? What would be the cost of butter per lb. to the consumers in Australia if the Government withdrew the present subsidy of about £5,500,000 to the dairying industry ? What would be the cost of tea per lb. if the Government ceased to subsidize its importation into this country?
– If the subsidy on tea were discontinued, the retail price would be approximately 6s. per lb. A subsidy of 6d. per lb. is paid by the Commonwealth to butter producers, That means, of. course, that if that subsidy were withdrawn, consumers would have to pay an extra 6d. per lb. for butter. I shall refer the honorable senator’s question about the price that the United Kingdom is paying for Australian butter to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
ANNECY TARIFF NEGOTIATIONS.
– by leave - On the 18th March, 1949, I announced that tariff negotiations would take place at Annecy, France, between the countries which were contracting parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and a number of other countries which wished to accede to that agreement. The negotiations commenced on the 11th April, 1-949, and concluded on tha 25th August, 1949. They were an extension of the’ negotiations held at Geneva in 1947, and had as their- purpose the lowering of tariffs and other barriers to international trade. The acceding countries which concluded negotiations at Annecy are Denmark, Dominica, Finland, Haiti, Greece, Liberia, Italy, Nicaragua, Sweden, and Uruguay. The concessions which were made during the course of the negotiations have been embodied in the Annecy Protocol of Terms of Accession to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which was opened for signature at the headquarters of the United Nations at Lake Success, yesterday, the 10th October. Signature of the protocol by two-thirds of the present contracting parties in respect of any one of the acceding governments will represent a decision in favour of the accession of that country to the general agreement. Upon its own signature of the document, any such acceding government will become a contracting party and will, 30 days thereafter, provisionally apply the concessions in its own tariff and the general articles of the agreement. The concessions which were made at Annecy by the present contracting parties may be implemented up to the 30th May, 1950.
Australian trade with the ten acceding countries is relatively small, and negotiations with countries representing the major markets for Australian exports were concluded in 1947. Of the ten countries, the five European countries were the most important and there were direct tariff negotiations between . Australia and Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Greece. It was mutually agreed that there was no trade basis for negotiations between Australia and the other five countries. The following figures give the percentages of Australian trade with the ten acceding countries : -
In the course of the negotiations, concessions were secured from each of the five countries on the major products which Australia exports to them. Indirect benefits were also obtained from the concessions made by those countries to the other participating countries.
A major benefit from the negotiations which Australia shares as a contracting party will be the reductions made in the tariff of the United States of America which carried out negotiations with each of the acceding governments. Even though the reductions are not in items in which Australia has a substantial trade interest, nevertheless they do represent a further modification of the level of American tariff and consequently will contribute towards the removal of the present lack of balance between the trade of America and other countries.
Schedules giving details of the negotiations as they affect Australia will be distributed to honorable senators.. Schedule 1 shows the direct and indirect concessions in import duties that Australia will obtain from the negotiations with the five acceding countries with which Australia negotiated. Schedule 2 shows the concessions to be made in the Australian import duties in return to those countries. Schedule 3 lists the products on which the present contracting parties made concessions in the course of their negotiations with the acceding countries and in which Australia has a present or potential trade interest.
No concessions were made by Australia in margins of preference, enjoyed in other British Commonwealth countries, on products in which there is any significant trade interest. The Government, after reviewing the results of the negotiations, decided to sign the protocol in favour of the accession of all ten countries. However, no action will be taken to implement the concessions in the Australian tariff until the new Parliament has assembled next year.
– by leave - In the final stages of the war, about 70 per cent, of Australia’s production was being devoted to defence needs, and soon after the war ended much of the stock-pile of materials, munitions, aircraft, ships, foodstuffs and other government-owned equipment, and indeed many of the factories which had produced it and the storehouses in which it was housed, as well as numerous training camps and other assets, became surplus to requirements. Not only were the quantities involved of very great dimensions, but also they were scattered over the whole of the Commonwealth, New Guinea and right across the Pacific battle area from the Solomons to Borneo. To deal with the formidable task of disposing of all Commonwealth war assets the Government in 1944 created the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. The Government’s foresight in establishing the disposals organization twelve months before the war ended enabled advance pilanning for the task to be commenced and to lay down the foundations of policy, procedure and the organization generally.
The Commonwealth Disposals Commission comprised two prominent industrialists, two top-ranking officers of the Commonwealth Public Service and a representative of the trade union movement. The Government gave the commission wide powers and, subject to certain policy directions, it was practically autonomous in its own sphere. This composite and independent body was therefore admirably equipped, to protect the interests of the Government and the taxpayer and to take charge of the problem of regulating the flow of surplus war assets back into the Australian economy.
The basic principles and methods of disposal approved by the Government and implemented by the commission provided in the first place for meeting the priority needs of Commonwealth and State departments. Special consideration was given to the requirements of Australian hospitals, the Red Cross Society and bodies engaged in educational, charitable, health and general community activities, whilst substantial assistance was given to overseas relief organizations and a large portion of Australia’s* contribution’ to Unrra was provided from surpluses placed in the hands of the commission for disposal. A wide range of equipment, particularly tools of trade, required for rehabilitation purposes was sold to exservicemen through the sponsorship of the repatriation authorities. The commission worked in close association with the Division of Industrial Development of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction in disposing of war-time factories, warehouses and capital equipment to industry, particularly in relation to the decentralization programme. After the requirements of these priorities were met, the main avenue of disposal was through trade channels, by public tender and auction.
The disposals organization was established with the object of making the maximum use of governmental machinery already in existence, so that, wherever possible, goods were sold where they lay, and the holding departments continued their caretaking and store-keeping responsibilities right up to the time delivery was taken by the purchaser. Likewise, the departments which during the war were responsible for the production, procurement or control of the surplus supplies coming foward were put in reverse to dispose of the surpluses. Those arrange ments avoided the need to set up a huge storeholding and selling organization, so that overhead administrative expenses were kept to a minimum.
All sales were made at fair market prices, the closest association being maintained with the prices authorities on all aspects of price policy. To avoid undue disturbance of the local market and of the capacity of industry to afford full employment, there was continuous consultation between the commission, and trade advisory panels with regard to the dis.posal of goods of a commercial nature. By the 31st July, 1949, the bulk of Australian war surpluses had been liquidated and the remaining activities were transferred to departmental control.
During the five years of its existence over 124,000 motor vehicles were placed on the roads, of which 70 per cent, found their way to rural areas; thousands of army tractors and armoured fighting vehicles are in use to-day by municipal authorities, land-owners and industry generally, and whole camps and thousands of hutments have ‘been diverted to ease the housing problem. Millions of yards of textiles and countless items of clothing have found their way into the economy, including free issues of 670,000 garments and blankets to 260 different charitable institutions; numerous war factories and warehouses have been sold for post-war purposes; and thousands of machine tools are being used by industry to make good the lag in production for civilian purposes and by technical colleges to train ex-servicemen in peace-time pursuits. In addition, aviation authorities are using large numbers of surplus aircraft for passenger and goods traffic, and a great variety of ships and smallcraft have been put back into service to make good the shortage of shipping and to aid the fishing industry.
The following official figures indicate the principal commodity groups which have been the greatest source of revenue : -
Realizations for the five years’ operations of the Common-wealth Disposals Commission exceeded £135,000,000, whilst bad debts will not exceed £6,000. Of greater importance was the achievement of an orderly, rapid and widespread distribution of surplus goods and equipment at fair market prices and under conditions which did not disturb the national economy or prejudice the maintenance of full employment in the postwar period.
The commission completed its task promptly and efficiently and discharged its responsibilities to the satisfaction of the Government and the community generally. Its record bears more than favorable comparison with the activities of disposals authorities in other parts of the world.
I desire to convey personally the thanks of the Commonwealth Government and of my own department to the men who have been responsible for the outstanding story of success that I have just told the Senate. The late Right Honorable John Beasley, who was Minister for Supply and Shipping when the organization was established, and the present Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley), who succeeded him, have been responsible for a remarkable administrative achievement. The leadership of the chairman, Mr. A. V. Smith and his successor, Mr. G. T. Chippindall, over the past four years, has been invaluable. The deputy chairman, Mr. H. F. Richardson, together with Mr. C. Godhard as representative of private enterprise and Mr. O. Schrieber representing the trade unions, brought to the commission industrial knowledge of immense value. Mr. H. C. Newman, representing the Treasury, and Mr. W. Howie and Mr. G. A. Davis as general managers at different periods, together with the staff of the commission, have ably assisted in this successful government venture. The task performed by the commission will receive the approbation of a thankful nation, not only now but also when Australia’s post-war effort is ‘being reviewed in retrospect.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
In the event of age and invalid pensioners being unable, because of lack of accommodation, to obtain in-patients’ treatment at public hospitals, has any consideration been given to helping financially (other than the 8s. a day paid to all patients) those unfortunate persons who are unable to meet the high cost of private hospital treatment from their pensions ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Negotiations are being completed with State governments to ensure that medicaments are supplied free in out-patient departments. The Government has already announced its intention to introduce a medical benefits scheme under which half of the fees of patients treated privately will be paid by the Government. The Government will proceed as speedily as shortage of personnel, buildings and equipment will permit with the development of its national health services available to all the people.
Debate resumed from the 12th October (vide page 1245), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the following papers be printed: - Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, and Other Services involving Capital Expenditure, for the vear ending the 30th June, 1950;
The Budget 1949-50 - Papers presented by the Right Honorable J. B. Chifley, M.P., on the occasion of the Budget of 1949-50;
– Before the debate was adjourned last night, I reviewed the monumental achievements of successive governments since the Labour party had taken control of the nation’s affairs in time of war. I pointed out that the war had cost Australia £2,790,000,000 and that this Government now had to provide for an annual expenditure of £510,000,000, compared with an annual budget of £80,000,000 under anti-Labour governments prior to the war. Despite the great responsibilities that the Government has had to bear, it has succeeded in reducing the tax on income from personal exertion so greatly that persons who earn up to £800 a year now pay less than they had to pay under the dual tax system in 1939, when the Opposition parties were in power and had relatively few financial commitments. Companies are prospering under the regime of this Government. They are able to set aside satisfactory reserves, and their distributed profits have increased by 52 per cent. The Government’s success in reducing the taxes levied upon the lower income groups has not prevented it from giving effect to an enlightened programme of social security. The Opposition parties criticize it severely for having undertaken such an ambitious programme. They tell the people that they, too, will provide social security, if they are elected to office, but they have not presented any policy comparable with that of the Government. In fact, the people have no guarantee that the Opposition parties if they were elected would not destroy the splendid structure that this Government has raised.
The Opposition parties promised at the last general election that, if they were given the opportunity, they would extend child endowment to the first child in every family. The Government followed a wiser course than that. It regards the family unit as the most important unit in the community, and it decided that the family would benefit most if the rate of child endowment paid in respect of each child after the first in every family were increased. Therefore, it raised the rate from 5s. to 10s. a week. That increase involved a greater financial commitment than would have been incurred as the result of extending endowment at the old rate to the first child. It ha3 been of great benefit to large families, and it does not in any way prejudice the basic wage, which is established by the Arbitration Court on the basis of a family unit of a man, wife and one child. This Government also introduced widow’s pensions. Earlier in this debate, Senator Rankin spoke of the serious situation of people on fixed incomes. The fact is that the difficulties of pensioners and others on low fixed incomes, which arise from increasing prices, can be laid at the door of the Opposition parties and the commercial interests that support them. They influenced the people to reject the Government’s appeal at the prices referendum for power to maintain effective control of prices. “Widow’s pensions were not paid before the Labour party came into power. I have heard supporters of the Opposition parties criticize this social service. Their complaint is that widows are now provided with security and therefore are not forced by economic circumstances to offer their services cheaply on the labour market. Such complaints conform to the general pattern of Opposition propaganda. The anti-Labour parties have always contended that there should be a permanent reserve of unemployed in the community. Their object is to maintain a source of cheap labour, which could be used to break down working conditions, cause insecurity, and engender economic fear in the minds of the people.
Before it was elected to power, the Labour party pledged itself to remove that fear and, after its election, it gave effect to its pledge by establishing a condition of full employment unprecedented in Australia’s history. No able-bodied citizen need be unemployed to-day. The Government has also provided free hospital services for the people, and it has introduced a scheme of pharmaceutical benefits, which the public has not been able to enjoy because the Opposition parties, in collaboration with their supporters, have consistently opposed its effective implementation. The people are entitled to have free medicine. Such schemes operate in other democratic countries, and this Government’s scheme will eventually be put into effect. The Opposition also objects to the payment of unemployment and sickness benefits. It is distinctly better for the morale of the country to have legitimate social service benefits of that character than to rely upon a mere dole whenever the labour market becomes slack. Another form of social service provided by the Government is the financial assistance that is provided for mental patients and their dependants. The people of Australia to-day are assured of security in all circumstances. Before the Senate adjourned last night, I cited in detail items of expenditure proposed by the Government for .the current financial year and challenged members of the Opposition to suggest which items should be reduced. They had nothing to say. Their opposition to the Government’s policies is based upon some vague threat of socialization. The truth is that the Government’s aim is to provide social justice for all. It will protect the people from all forms of totalitarianism. It is building up a form of democracy that will resist the atheistic forces of totalitarian countries, where the poverty of the masses of the people has been exploited by a greedy few. In addition to providing social security to the individual citizen the Government has made great strides in carrying out a programme of the kind that the Australian Country party has always promised that it would cany out in the interests of the farmers and rural workers. However, that party preferred to sell its birthright for a mess of pottage by linking itself with the Liberal party which will never allow it to serve the man on the land whom it claims to represent in the Parliament. But what has Labour done in that sphere? It has stabilized the wheat industry which now can be said to be on a sound economic basis. Attempts to achieve that objective had been made on seven previous occasions, but it has remained for the present Government to give real security to the wheat-farmer.
– The present prosperity of the wheat-farmer is due to high world prices.
– Were it again possible for the Opposition parties to persuade the wheat-growers to reject proposals evolved in their own interests, the growers would not be enjoying the security they now enjoy. Those parties ha.ve always stumped the country in an endeavour to defeat the Government’s proposals to stabilize the wheat industry. They have always opposed Australia’s entry,. into international agreements for the sale of primary -products. Incidentally, agreements made in that sphere by .the present Government are proving most successful and are contributing towards the security of our primary producers.
– All that the Opposition parties ever gave to the farmer was a slave wage.-
– Yes; and that is all they ever gave to the worker. The Government has now implemented its scheme to stabilize the wheat industry for a period of five years. It has also entered into contracts with the United Kingdom for the sale at increased prices of butter and cheese for a period of seven years, and for the sale of eggs and poultry for a period of five years. Basically, such contracts could be made under any government regardless of its political colour, but the Opposition parties, if they were in office, would destroy agreements of that kind, and substitute for them contracts that would guarantee a “ cut “ to the middleman, whom they have always permitted to skim the cream off the farmer’s profit and oblige the farmer to sell his products at prices below the cost of production. The Government has also obtained increased prices for wool under its contract with the United Kingdom. The operations of the Joint Organization have made a profit of millions of. pounds which will soon be distributed among the wool producers. Had the Opposition parties been in power that wool would have been sold to the disadvantage of the growers, in order to give a “ rakeoff “ to the woolbrokers, with the result that the market as a whole would have been completely upset. Although our primary producers are prosperous they have some disabilities, mainly as the result of inflationary trends in other countries. They have been unable to obtain adequate supplies of superphosphate and other commodities essential to scientific and successful farming. However, the Government has balanced those disadvantages by providing a superphosphate subsidy amounting to £14,700,000, and assistance to primary industries in other forms totalling £93,000,000. Thus, the Government is successfully implementing its policy of providing security for all sections of the community by distributing the profits that accrue under the trade agreements that it has entered into in respect of both primary and secondary industries.
This is the eighth budget that the present Treasurer has presented to the Parliament, and it represents another step in the evolution of our economy according to Labour’s principles. The Opposition parties say that the budget represents socialization. It represents social justice, because it provides a means for the fair distribution of the national income among all sections of the community. On the revenue side, the budget must be studied in conjunction with the Financial Statement that the Treasurer presented to the Parliament last February when he announced substantial reductions of income tax and social services contributions. Those reductions which came into operation as from 1st July last are reflected in the budget now before the Senate. The purpose of the interim budget presented in February last was to make available immediately the relief represented by those reductions. That was the fifth occasion on which the Government reduced direct taxes. Since the end of the recent war those reductions have averaged £45,500,000 annually. In addition, rates of sales tax have been substantially reduced whilst, at the same time, many items have been totally exempt from sales tax and others have been transferred from the 25 per cent, rate to the general rate of Sis per cent. To-day, practically all of the commodities included in the basic wage regimen are exempt from indirect tax. The sales tax on radio valves has been reduced by ls. a valve. Import, primage and excise duties have been removed from approximately 400 items and sub-items whilst an exemption up to the value of £30 has been granted in respect of personal items and gifts brought in by people arriving in, or returning to, Australia. All stores on ships and aircraft, other than liquor and tobacco, have been exempt from customs duty. In addition, the Government has increased from £100 to £150 for income tax purposes the rebate in respect of assurance premiums and superannuation contributions paid by individual taxpayers. It has aided industry by extending the initial depreciation allowance on plant and machinery installed up to June, 1950. That is a great encouragement to private enterprise to re-equip and expand its undertakings. Whereas previously a company could claim a rebate of 20 per cent, in respect of plant upon its installation, that rebate is now to be increased to 40 per cent, under this budget. That concession will help industries to obtain the most up-to-date plant and thereby increase production. These concessions will be worth £9,600,000 a year to the taxpayers. Therefore it may be said that the total concessions coming into effect this year will be worth £46,000,000 a year to them. Yet the Opposition claims that this budget has no real effect ! We are ‘returning to the people more than 50 per cent, of what Opposition parties, when in office in this country, expended in connexion with the whole of their governmental activities. In the past we have been able to make gifts totalling £35,000,000 to Great Britain, and a further gift of £10,000,000 to that country is contemplated. Although the Opposition has never openly criticized our action in giving this money to the Mother Country, it has criticized this Government for sticking to sterling, and for wisely contracting in various ways for the benefit of both Australia and Great Britain.
A great advance has been made in the immigration policy of Australia, which is being so successfully administered by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell). Ultimately Australia will be able to defend itself adequately. That is imperative in view of our geographical location. This big increase in the population will also enable us gradually to reduce our national debt. This budget is an excellent one, and its progressive nature warrants the approbation not only of honorable senators, hut of . the people of Australia at the forthcoming general election.
– When one has been engaged in parliamentary life, both in this chamber and in another chamber in Queensland, for approximately a quarter of a century, one gets almost weary when one realizes that successive anti-Labour Oppositions fail to learn from the lessons of the past. I am referring particularly to the happenings of the last decade. I become tired of facing an Opposition that has nothing new to offer, and which never, in any circumstances, makes a helpful suggestion. It is content always to offer destructive criticism, being either unwilling ov unable to offer any worthwhile constructive criticism. Apparently the present Opposition is prepared to drift along, its members contributing to debates by orderly speech when they have the opportunity, and by disorderly interjection at other times. Unhappily, those are the methods with which we have become acquainted. I believe that Australia is one of the finest countries in the world, if not the finest. I am speaking, not of the scenic attractions of Australia that bring tourists, to this country, some to spend much needed dollars, but to the fact that the millions of people in this -country enjoy a high standard of human comfort. Honorable senators opposite should have some regard for the fact that they are fortunate to live in a country offering such natural economic advantages as does Australia. It would be refreshing if they occasionally adopted the role of 46 boosters “ rather than “ knockers “. In common with Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand at present have Labour governments. I understand, also, that Labour’s majority in Norway was recently increased from two to about 23, whilst according to press reports, Denmark now favours a Labour government. The Opposition should not conclude that because Labour governments are in office in those countries, no good can flow from them. I have before me an article that appeared in Harper’s Magazine. It contains an account of the impressions of an American who recently visited the United Kingdom, and bears the title Good news out of England. I shall not detain honorable senators by reading the entire article to them, because I presume it is available in the parliamentary library. However, this passage is interesting -
The world can offer an American few experiences more startling, these days, than a first-hand view of things as they really are in the United Kingdom.
I should like the Leader of the Opposition. (Senator Cooper) at least to pay me the compliment of listening to what I am saying. The article continues - . . Especially for those who knew England well before the war, a visit there now brings a feeling of dazed discovery. For a revolution has taken place. If a revolution does not fulfil the requirements of headline writers unless there is shooting, the “ r “ may be left off. But call it what you like, it has happened.
In the difference between evolution and revolution lies the distinction between the policy of this Government and that of the Opposition. It is clear that in the future we will either have a revolution, in which Labour does not believe, or an evolutionary process, to which the Australian Labour party does subscribe. I urge the Opposition to heed this warning while there is yet time, because if a revolution should occur they would become as extinct as the dodo. The article continues -
Our vast American machinery of newsgathering has left most of us in this hemisphere in a state of ignorance about this change almost as astonishing, and as complete, as that which lately obscured the vitality of the Democratic party in our own United States. Ever since the British general election of 1945 swept a Labour government into power with u whacking parliamentary majority - taking our press and radio by surprise, it will be recalled - most of us have seen events in Britain through a fog of more than common density.
The article then deals with complaints that we have heard in this chamber over and over again. The anti-Labour forces always run true to form. The leopard cannot change its spots. No matter where it is roaring, it is still the same old leopard. The article states -
We have read, it is true, of Mrs. Smith, who was sick and tired of having to stand in line forever to do her shopping. We have been told the distressing anecdote about Mr. Brown, who had (mysteriously) come by all the necessary building materials to knock together an addition to his house, yet was forbidden by a soul-less bureaucracy to do so. Space has also been given to Robinson, who got into trouble because, on his own freehold, he planted buck wheat instead of wheat. But for some reason - perhaps because it is the exceptional incidents, rather than the characteristic ones, which get newspaper space, so that news items and the great trends of history falls into separate bins - or possibly because it has been thought that we free-enterprisers in America could not bear to hear about a salutary change which has had the bad taste to take place under a socialist government - we have been very scantily informed about the central fact of British life.
I conclude my quotation with this very fine paragraph -
But what has so profoundly altered England as to make whole stretches of it scarcely recognizable hae been the relative enrichment of the poor. In the past ten years the number of workers earning between $12 and $40 a week (after the payment of income taxes) has increased from 6,320,000 to 13,175,000. The number in the $20 to $40 a week category has risen from 1,820,000 to 5,225,000. And there are now half again as many who can spend a weekly wage of between $40 and $80.
I have read that article because, as I have said, I believe that we in this country are living in the best land in the world. I see no reason whatever - and I should hate to think that lack of intelligence was the cause - why members of this present Opposition parties in this Parliament should believe that they must always proceed on their traditional lines, and talk as if no good could come from any Labour government in the world.
I propose now to review briefly some oi the budget speeches that have been made in this chamber. The matters that have been referred to so far include tax reductions. I am very glad that that subject baa been mentioned because it is essential that we should, from our places in this chamber, endeavour to make plain to the people outside the Parliament - particularly on these all-too-rare occasions when the Senate is on the air - that in conferring materialistic benefits, the Labour Government has not been lacking. Senator Cooke made what I consider to be a most interesting speech covering these matters, as did Senator O’Byrne yesterday. Other matters that have been referred to in the course of’ this debate include pension increases and the liberalizing of the means test. From Opposition senators of course, we have not heard any expressions of appreciation of what the Government has already done in those directions. In fact, those subjects are rarely mentioned by members of the Opposition parties, or, if they are, credit is given not to the Labour Administration, but to some preceding anti-Labour government. Progressive social legislation has never been characteristic of conservative governments at any time in the history of the world. I am reminded of a statement that was once made by William Ewart Gladstone, a statesman of great renown in the “ Old Country “ in my younger days. Most of us know something about Gladstone’s wonderful work. I commend his words to the
Leader of the Opposition particularly. I am afraid that I cannot commend them to his two colleagues however, because just when they, as comparative newcomers to this Senate, had an opportunity to gain a few pearls of wisdom from one of the old members here, they have very conveniently absented themselves from the chamber. This is what Gladstone said -
I painfully reflect that in almost every political controversy of the last 50 years the leisured classes, the educated classes, the wealthy classes, the titled classes, have been in the wrong. The common people, the toilers, the men of uncommon sense, these have been responsible for nearly all the social reform measures which the world accepts, to-day.
The present Opposition parties in this Parliament have always been wrong, and why? Simply because they are the subsidized mouthpieces of the people in this country who can have a comfortable time only as long as the workers are being exploited.
From the Opposition side of the chamber, we have heard the usual fairy stories about airline losses and other fearful calamities. The Government has had the temerity to establish an airline! Members of the Parliament travel by it. That is an item’ of expenditure that has to be met. Only yesterday, I travelled on a Trans-Australia Airlines Convair carrying 42 passengers. At a certain stage of the flight, the captain of the aircraft came out of the cockpit and chatted with the passengers. I had just been served, for the first time on an aeroplane, with a steaming hot luncheon. It included meat rissoles, grilled tomatoes, bread and butter and marmalade, chilled pineapple juice and quite a number of other nice items. It was a splendid meal. When the captain came to me he asked if everything was all right. I told him that it was. In fact, I said that I felt very much inclined to stand up and make a speech, but no doubt somebody would have roared “ soap-box “, which is what Opposition senators are thinking now. I told the captain that I was interested in TransAustralia Airlines because I had been a member of the Government which brought that organization into existence. I pointed out that no private enterprise ever expected to recoup its capital investment in the first year or even the first three years of its operations. That was not important. What was important was its trading account. Admittedly, Trans-Australia Airlines has lost money in its first three years, hut the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) is predicting a profit for next year. I said to the captain, “ I notice that while that very fine lunch was being served, nobody stood up and said, ‘ I shall not eat this because Trans-Australia Airlines is operating at a loss, and I want it to make a profit ‘ “. No, they all enjoyed it, notwithstanding that most of them looked as though they were supporters of the Opposition parties. When I say that they looked as though they were supporters of the Opposition parties, I am not referring to the fact that they were well dressed, but to the fact that they wore the unhappy look that seems to characterize those who cannot see any good in the present Labour Government.
A great deal has been said by members of the Opposition about the present shortage of petrol. That shortage is represented as a fearful ordeal for the people to endure, and we have all been solemnly warned that we should not go for a motoring holiday at Christmas time because we will probably be held up halfway through lack of petrol. Indeed, I saw a notice on a garage yesterday that read “No petrol “. A bystander inquired, “ Is that a new brand of petrol - N.O. petrol ?”. Consider the state of the world to-day and the tremendous problems that beset us. Is it not deplorable, in view of the great issues that confront us and which we should he debating, that members of the Opposition should occupy the time of the Parliament with lamentations that sufficient petrol is not available for us to go motoring during,. our holidays. When I was a boy we did not get any petrol for our holidays and there were very few holidays. Of course, there was no Labour Government then. There had not been a Labour administration in either Great Britain or this country. We were not paid for our holidays, in fact, we were not paid. -for any moment that we did not actually work, and we were not even paid for overtime. At that time, the only experience of political administrations that we had was of those supplied by the political predecessors of the present Opposition parties. Now, members of the Opposition tell us that the Chifley Government is incompetent, that it does not know its business, and that it will ruin us all. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) is described by one as a tyrant and by another as “a petulant individual “. Of course, the motive behind such criticism i9 hate of the Labour party on the part of those who believe that no good can come from Labour. The reason why they hate Labour is that the exploiters of the community cannot live as comfortably as they did under antiLabour administrations. They know that unless Mr. Menzies, by some unfortunate mischance, regains office as head of an administration, they can not hope to enjoy the conditions that they did previously.
A great deal has been said about the devaluation of sterling, which is, of course, a very serious matter. I realize that the Government has a difficult furrow to plow, but the fact remains that it is not responsible for the present financial situation. Let us ask ourselves where the real responsibility rests. To which country did the gold of the world gravitate after World War I. and during and after World War II.? The present financial situation is not due to the administration of Labour, either in Great Britain or this country. The great problem to-day, when the world is producing such enormous wealth and such an Abundance of commodities, is to ensure the equitable distribution of that wealth. What is to be done to prevent certain interests in various countries from destroying surplus production in order to maintain profitable markets for themselves, while millions of people are suffering starvation. We do not hear a word from the Opposition about such matters; all we hear from them are miserable mouthings about such trivial matters as the present shortage of petrol.
I take the opportunity now to offer a little advice to the Opposition. Of course, I am always doing that; the members of the Opposition ought to pay me for it, because some day they will benefit from it. There are a few basic principles which they ought to write in their diaries, to remember, and to ponder. I offer these observations to them gratis. The first is that the occurrence of poverty in Russia, Germany, Great Britain, the United States of America, Australia, or in any other nation, constitutes a great danger to prosperity in any other country. The next is an observation made by Dorothy Thompson, the well known American columnist who wrote -
No one am attempt to reform society without encountering ruthless enmity from those who profit by things as they are.
After all, the task of reforming society should be the principal objective of every member of the Senate, irrespective of the party to which he belongs. However, as a member of the Australian Labour party J am proud of the fact that supporters of the Government represent not those who are satisfied with filings as they are, but those who favour the improvement of conditions so as to make them as they ought to be. A great deal has been said by members of the Opposition about the socialist objective of the Australian Labour party, and I am afraid that occasionally even some Labour supporters become a little nervous about the use which our opponents make of the word “ socialist “. Of course, there is nothing new in the propagandist use of that word. A quarter of a century ago the late Sir George Reid stumped Australia exploiting it, and The Bulletin used to cartoon Sir George Reid leading along the streets a socialist tiger that threatened to devour us all. In the course of an address that he delivered in my home town, Sir George Reid said -
If you do not look out, you will get socialism, and then what will happen? Inspector No. 2,59.1 will knock at you.r door one morning, and when you go out he will show you his badge of authority and say to you, “ You have a son, a bright lad named William George here?” You will reply “Yes”. Then he will say, “ You have an idea of making an engineer of him ? “ To which you will reply, “ Yes sir, that was our ambition “. The inspector will say, “ You will not do anything of the kind ; the bo)-, No. 4,785, will report to the soapfactory to start work there to-morrow “.
Of course, that kind of propaganda was utterly false then, and it is just as false to-day. It has as little substance now when it is uttered by the Leader of the Opposition, as it had when, it Was uttered by Sir George Reid, and we do not need to get nervous when our opponents men tion “ socialism “. Of course, we are all expected to grovel abjectly and to writhe in misery when that other propagandist term, “ communism “, is invoked. I commend to the Senate the observation made by one greater than I. The orator whose words I shall repeat is not dead and gone, but happens to be the President of the United States of America now. His name is Truman. Only the other day he said -
The only way in which democracy can defeat communism is to produce more and better democracy.
That is exactly what the present Australian Government is endeavouring to do. Indeed, that is its only objective, and if it did not have that objective it would not deserve to hold office. Our political friends opposite can do the “ other job “ better than we ever knew how to do it. The job of Labour is to see that the forces of reaction do not get political power in this country, and the only way we can do that is by following the policy enunciated in 1941 by the former Prime Minister, the late John Curtin, and sine? applied by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). In other words, we are trying to provide a better democracy.
Although it is not necessary to emphasize to supporters of the Government the fact to which I shall next refer, it is necessary to impress it on the Opposition. I have in mind the criticism that is so frequently made by members of the Opposition party of people “ playing the game of party politics “. I do not hold with such criticism. When I was elected to the Senate in 1932 I believed that I was expressly sent here by those who elected me to play the game of party politics. I offer no apologies for being a party .man, and I do not expect members of,, the present Opposition to apologize for adhering to their political parties.
– Did not some one in the House of Representatives recently call party politics a “ diabolical thing”?
– I could not say. T know that my membership of the Senate has not long to run; indeed, I may not have a great deal longer to live, but I hope that my period on this earth may not terminate so abruptly as my membership of the Senate will end next- year. When I was a boy in the Old Country
I remember the Reverend R. J. Campbell, who was quite famous then, saying -
Politics arc only private morals translated into terms of public service.
I ask honorable senators whether -that observation does not express accurately the faith ‘of the members and supporters of the present Administration, and whether that is not the line that they are following. The present Labour Government has sincerely tried to translate private morals into the service of the public.
– That was hailed as a new theology when it was first uttered.
– That is so. A former British Labour member of Parliament said- -
If a man brings to the service of Parliament his best gifts, and leaves behind him everything that is selfish and uncharitable, there is no place on this earth where he can render better service.
Those words should be an inspiration t& us who are serving in this chamber now. If we are serious, honest and sincere, there is no place where we can better serve our fellows than in this chamber.
The people of Australia are our masters. They pay our allowances and bear the cost of maintaining the Parliament, and all the expenditure, associated with it. They find all the money that is included in the budget that we have been discussing. Indeed, the whole purpose of presenting a budget to the Parliament is to enable the public and their parliamentary representatives to know how the public’s money is expended. It follows, therefore, that we have been elected to the Parliament to do a certain job. I imagine that that job is to serve the people. I like to reflect that the time is now approaching when we shall have to appear before our masters and render an account of our stewardship. When the time comes I shall say a few things to the people that they may not like to hear, but which I think they ought to know. There never was a time in the world’s history when science made more wonderful discoveries than have been made during the last half century. People often say that old fellows always think that there never was a more wonderful time than their own era. Nevertheless, so much has been accomplished -hy -science and the philosophers during the last half century that I doubt whether those achievements can be improved upon during the next half century.
The men and women who are entrusted with the powers of government in the various countries of the world are faced with great problems to-day. We must never forget that science is making terrible advances in the direction of war. Men can wage war now with weapons that were never dreamed of in the past. Those weapons are so horrible and destructive that one is -almost afraid to think of them. But they exist. The atomic bomb is a fact. The disease bomb of germ warfare is a fact. There was a time in history when there was some glamour about warfare, when men in their hundreds went into battle and fought hand to hand and had to exhibit that fortitude and courage, often misguided, which are implied by the word “ prowess “. To-day there are guns that can fire across the English Channel. The soldier does not see the enemy who is responsible for his death. He cannot take the personal interest in warf are that was possible in earlier days. We must remember that the world is forever changing. I am one of those optimists who believe that the world never goes back to the bad things of the past. Any backward step is merely a temporary move for the purpose of gathering momentum to spring forward to new and better conditions. We must remember that we are living in a new world. The world of incessant, toil is past. When J began my working life, workers were paid only for what they produced. There were few holidays, no limitations upon working hours, no factory laws, and no sanitation laws to ensure cleanliness and ordinary decency in our working places. Those days have gone, and they cannot return, whatever party may be elected to power in the future.
The opponents of Labour do not dare to go on the hustings and say to the people, “ If we can defeat the Labour Government, we shall wipe out the reforms that it has achieved “. They could not do anything of the kind, and they would not dare to talk of doing so. Instead, they will tell the people, “Do not believe the Labour man when he says that his government effected these reforms. We were responsible for them “. There never has been a reform at any stage of the world’s history that was not either carried out deliberately by a progressive government against a non-progressive opposition, or by a nonprogressive government under pressure from the working classes. Nobody claims that Lord Shaftesbury, whose Reform Bill was passed by the House of Commons in 1859, was a Labour man. He was nothing of the sort. He was one of the old-fashioned aristocrats, a little better than the oppressors. He saw the evils of his time, and he introduced his Reform Bill under pressure from the working class movement because he was afraid of revolution. He took the “ R “ out of revolution and introduced the evolutionary measure that made his name famous. The age of excessive toil is past, and to-day we live in an age of leisure. But we must qualify for the right to do so.
We read a great deal about “ cold “ war in the press, and we hear much glib talk of Tito-ism and other “ isms “. We are told that we are forever on the edge of a precipice and that, unless we take care, we shall be plunged into a “hot” war. We will be precipitated into war only if governments listen to the voices of those who oppose the Labour movement. We should not visualize war or monkey about with the elements that cause war. Politicians who oppose the Labour Government - I almost referred to them as statesmen - should he made to realize that violence is only the remedy of the mentally bankrupt. Nobody but the mentally bankrupt ever suggested that disputes could be settled by war. When the last cannon has roared forth its merciless message of death, when thousands of young men have been slaughtered, and when our Concords and our Greenslopes and every other hospital throughout this great land are filled with the physically and mentally maimed, the leaders must yet sit down to arrange the terms of peace by arbitration and conciliation. War is the great folly. I have said repeatedly that we are living in a new world. That means that we must be prepared to perform new duties. We must not continue in our old ways. If we do, there remains no justification for our existence. We must settle down to considering ways and means of establishing a new science in this country - the science of living together so that the highest possible state of welfare for all can be achieved. I do not mean the welfare of one class or another class. We must not exclude from this new science even our friends of the Opposition. We must include everybody. We must learn not how to live in separate cells, not how to divide ourselves into Opposition and Government, progressive and non-progressive forces, but how to combine our efforts so that from our unity may arise a new state of society in which all will work together for the benefit of all, in which nobody will be a “ knocker “ and everybody will be a booster of the new order.
The new order is here in this age of leisure. People who once toiled unnecessarily long hours at unnecessarily hazardous occupations now enjoy the benefits of a 40-hour week. But we must warn them that this period of leisure is a dangerous period. Leisure must be wisely employed. I was overjoyed to learn recently that representatives of several nations, including Australia, working together at a conference in Paris had decided to break down certain tariff barriers. That is one of the most hopeful signs that has appeared for many years in the world. We must seek to organize our activities so that the people of every country shall produce the things that they can best produce and by sharing them contribute to human welfare by assuring the implementation of Labour’s policy of full employment, not merely in one country or in British-speaking countries only, but throughout the world. We must raise the standards of the teeming millions of other countries who now live below the line of civilization, who never have enough to eat, and whose birth-rate is increasing so rapidly as to threaten the security of more progressive nations. That should be our objective. We should strive to achieve a new way of life in which “ every one cares enough, and every one shares enough, so that :very one has enough “. That should not be difficult. We can gain that objective if we set aside petty national” jealousies and greed. We must be prepared to share the good things that we have with other countries that lack them. We must avoid war. We must make sure that the young people who are growing up to-day, and their children after them, shall be guaranteed peace. Unless our task is to provide them with that guarantee, we are of no worth. We cannot avoid wars by changing maps. Make no mistake about that. People are busy in Europe and in other parts of the world to-day changing maps. That will not achieve any good result. That will breed wars, instead of putting an end to them. What we must do is change men, not maps. If we do not regard that as our job and as the inspiration that brings us to this Parliament, then we are superfluous and we ought to make way for other citizens who will undertake that task. The burden of my speech is epitomized in a statement that was prepared by the late President Roosevelt of the United States of America just before his death. This is what he wrote -
Today we are faced with the pre-eminent fact that if civilization is to survive we must cultivate the science of human relationships - the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together and work together in the same world at peace,
Mark those words - “ all peoples, of all kinds “ - not some people or some kinds of people!
– I am pleased to note that under this budget the Government is giving an impetus to the development of natural resources in the various States. It will assist the Government of Western Australia in the provision of water conservation schemes. At the same time, it is about to launch the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric power scheme in New South Wales, which will benefit not only New South Wales and Victoria, but also the nation as a whole. I understand that it will take ten years to complete that scheme, which is estimated to cost from £200,000,000 to £300,000,000. Although the main object of the scheme is the generation of hydro-electric power it also embodies a comprehensive irrigation project. The Government also proposes a programme .for the development of thu Northern Territory which, for many years, has been sadly neglected. When the Government’s plans are brought to fruition that part of the Commonwealth will come into its own. I am acquainted with the Northern Territory and I am impressed by the fertility of the soil in that portion of the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, the Territory lacks adequate water supplies, but that disadvantage should be lessened under the Government’s plans. I am also pleased to note the Government is providing assistance to the tobacco-growing industry, which has been starved in recent years. Provision is being made for the construction of a series of dams in the Walsh, Burdekin and Barron Rivers. The Walsh River flows through the tobacco-growing areas in Queensland. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit those areas. Some time ago the growers were obliged to cart water, using horses and carts for that purpose, and they had to use kerosene tins to water their plants. That was a great hardship, and under such conditions growers found it difficult to produce satisfactory crops. As Great Britain now imports 127,000,000 lb. of tobacco annually from the United States of America we should encourage the tobacco-growing industry in this country with a view to capturing a substantial proportion of that trade. With such a prospect in view, the industry could be made one of the most profitable of our primary industries.
– We could save dollars by developing the tobacco industry.
– Yes, and as tobacco is a commodity that is always in demand the industry offers an avenue for employment. When I visited the tobacco-growing areas in north Queensland recently, the growers had established a co-operative society for the purpose of not only marketing the leaf but also manufacturing it into tobacco. I refer to the Mareeba Growers’ Co-operative Society at Mareeba. Its establishment is, indeed, a great achievement. When that society commenced to manufacture tobacco it was unable to purchase machinery and had to improvise. It used an ordinary vacuum cleaner as a blower. In the past, the tobacco manufacturing .companies have not given a fair deal to the Queensland growers. To-day, if those companies do not offer satisfactory prices when the leaf is being auctioned, the co-operative society purchases the leaf and uses it in manufacture. By that means the society is able to maintain satisfactory auction prices in the interests of the growers. It may be said that in that way it is keeping up the price of tobacco to consumers, hut that is not so. Its primary purpose is to obtain for the growers a greater proportion of the margin of profit which previously went to the tobacco manufacturing companies. I was impressed by the fact that all of the individuals associated with the management of the co-operative society are hardworking and unselfish individuals.
I commend the Government for its proposals to expand civil aviation. I take this opportunity to urge it to provide an up-to-date aerodrome at Smithton, in Tasmania, for use by commercial aeroplanes. The objection may be raised that an up-to-date aerodrome has been established, at Wynyard, which is only 45 miles from Smithton. However, an aerodrome at Smithton would serve an area extending for 100 miles south of that town. Recently, in the company of Senator Aylett and Senator Murray, I visited Smithton and inspected the existing aerodrome on which the local people have done a considerable amount of work. In making this request, I point out that at present limited supplies of primary products are flown from Smithton direct to Adelaide. The Government could encourage that trade in the interests of local residents by providing a modern aerodrome for commercial aeroplanes at Smithton.
I regret that under this budget the Government has not seen its way clear to increase age and invalid pensions still further. They should be increased to at least the level of the basic wage. Having regard to the rising cost of living, I sincerely trust that after the next general election, the Government will increase those pensions to that degree. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) in his budget speech stated -
Experience in many countries during recent years should’ warn us that the course of economic affairs can change suddenly and unpredictably.
I hope that the nation will heed that warning. Our people are living at peace and under happy conditions, and they are oblivious to events abroad. I see black spots on the horizon which I am afraid could suddenly expand into dark clouds of war. There is every indication that the United States of America is heading into a depression. Its army of unemployed is assuming alarming proportions. The important point is that that country is now the financial centre of the world, and economic trends in that country must necessarily affect the world economy as a whole. Under the existing capitalist system no country can live to itself. Should a recession occur in the United States of America and spread to Great Britain, Australia would inevitably be affected to some degree. The present economic system has produced a series of booms, slumps and wars. The number of persons who are unemployed or in part-time employment in the United States of America is now approximately 15,000,000 whilst there are large armies of unemployed in Italy, France and other European countries. It is estimated that the number of unemployed in the world now totals 22,000.000. In comparison, Australian are very fortunate, indeed. Thanks to the Government’s full employment policy, we have practically no unemployment here. At the present, production of war materials in the United States of America represents 79 per cent, of that country’s budget. Huge quantities of armaments are being sold to other countries. In that respect it occupies the position that was held by Germany prior to the outbreak of the recent war when Germany exported armaments and imported raw materials in return. The United States of America must maintain its present sales of armaments in order to keep the great majority of Americans in employment. A slump in that trade would be immediately followed by a depression. In view of those facts it is not surprising, as Senator Collings has pointed out, that the American press is endeavouring to create a war psychology. If something is not done to counteract that propaganda it will not be* long before a third world war occurs. What is the reason for that propaganda? Vested interests are endeavouring to keep going the present capitalist system which is now on the verge of collapse. That system can be likened to a dying man in need of a blood transfusion. To-day, the capitalist system requires a transfusion of fresh capital, and that transfusion involves squeezing the workers. I shall read a few quotations in order to give some indication of the attitude that is being adopted by a large section of the American press. In an editorial the Washington Times0Herald asserted that war between the United States of America and the Soviet Union was inevitable. It urged the United States of America to seek not merely the defeat of the Soviet Union, but its utter destruction. The editorial concluded with this observation -
The object of War to-day is to kill the enemy nation, remove its seat of power and wipe it off the face of the earth as a threat to power forever. We do not put armies of young men out to gut one another. We send planes over at forty thousand feet loaded with atom bombs, fire bombs, germ bombs, &c, to slaughter babies in the cradle and mothers at their prayers, and working men at their jobs.
One would think that that article had been written by- a maniac.
– Where do we go from there?
– Perhaps to oblivion. I point out that that newspaper is owned by the McCormickPatterson Newspaper Trust, which publishes many newspapers, including the New York Daily News. It was a great supporter of fascism during the war. As a result of its editorials that trust was prosecuted in the United States of America for high treason. However, because of the influence that its management commanded the prosecutions fizzled out. Those editorials were of considerable advantage to the Germans, who utilized them in radio broadcasts and in other ways to the detriment of the allies. Yet that journal has been referred to as a respectable newspaper. I contend that these editorials were written to influence the people towards a certain ideology. If the various countries of the world do not make every effort to ensure future peace the position will indeed be grave. Unfortunately, when one speaks of peace to-day he is treated by many people as an outcast. I consider that women, throughout the world, should hold conferences, and work for peace and that some action should be taken to implement their desire to prevent war, which certain countries are trying to provoke. Every effort should be made to prevent any furhter such catastrophe descending upon the world. Of course, not only the newspaper proprietors that are acting in this way. Mr. Cannon, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee in the United States of America, is reported to have said -
We must, in the three first weeks, pulverize every military centre in the Soviet Union.
Lieutenant-General Doolittle, vicepresident of the Shell Union Oil Corporation, is reported to have said -
We must be prepared physically, mentally, and morally to drop bombs on Russian centres of industry. Russia must be made to realize that we will do so, and our own people must be conditioned to the necessity for this type of retaliation.
This is further evidence of how the warmongers are endeavouring to create a war psychology in the minds of the people. Although they claim that they are fighting for Christianity we must bear in mind that they propose to pursue that battle by hilling babies in their cradles, their mothers whilst at prayers, and men working at their jobs.
According to recent press reports the United States of America has established air bases all around Soviet Russia. If, as we are led to believe, it is suspected that Russia will attack, why has that been done? Surely Russia would extend its lines of communications towards other countries? This statement in the Melbourne Herald of the 23rd September, is interesting -
America has received a one year extension of its operational rights in the strategic Flying Fortress airbase at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. This is the closest base to Southern Russia’s industrial and oil centres. The new agreement was signed secretly by American representatives and King Ibn Saud in Arabia in June.
The following report appeared in the Hobart Mercury of the 15th September : -
” ANXIOUS FOR PEACE IN MOSCOW”.
The Indian Ambassador to Russia (Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan ) said last night he had. found a “ really genuine desire for ,peace “ during his first 10 days in Moscow. “You do not feel any preparedness for war in the atmosphere. The present leaders are anxious to settle ‘down in peace “, he said.
Dr. Radhakrishnan is in Paris to preside over the executive board of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Whilst on the one hand the newspapers are trying to create a war psychology, on the other hand responsible persons state that the enemy they are going to fight does not want war, and that it is not making preparation for war. I stress that peace conferences should be held and this propaganda exposed. As I have urged on previous occasions, if the people would read books such as World Aflame, in which the writer imagines that he is writing in 1956 of world events in retrospect, it would be easier for them to imagine what would happen if the war should eventuate. That book supports my answer to the interjection of Senator Grant that we may pass into oblivion.
The Opposition has made many references to Marshall aid, and has suggested that the Government should endeavour to raise a. loan in the United States of America. I consider that we should be very cautious about raising loans in that country or anywhere else outside Australia, in view of the experiences of countries to which Marshall aid has ‘been extended. I remind honorable senators that after agreeing to a loan, the country concerned must be prepared to accept whatever commodities the United States of America wishes to send it. For instance, textiles were sent to Belgium, and the Belgium Prime Minister has deplored that goods which the Belgians were able to produce for themselves were being sent to that country. He pointed oat that that could only result in unemployment in that country. In some instances, great factories in -that country are now only working four days a week. An ample supply of hydro-electric power is available in Sweden and a considerable quantity of electrical equipment is normally manufactured in that country. However, instead of sending grain or coal to Sweden, the United States of America is sending large quantities of electrical equipment to that country. I understand, alao, that some of the big factories in Austria have been forced to close down because the United States -of America, is sending goods to that country that could be -manufactured there. That has also happened in Italy. In effect, unemployment has been transferred from the United States of America to other countries. The Marshall plan was designed to help America’s economy. Let us consider what Marshall aid really means and how it came about. When speaking of the plan for aid to Europe at the Inter-American Conference at Bogota in April last, Mr. Marshall is reported to have said -
The United States cannot continue to hear alone the burdens on its own economy. We have to look to Other nations whose interests correspond with ours for active co-operation. All that are able should contribute; all Will share the benefits. The reward of freedom economic as well as political.
It is quite evident, therefore, that because the United States of America could not bear its economic burdens it transferred them to other countries.
I believe that continued references in the press to American-Russian relationships are only “ red herrings “, designed to mislead the people, because the greatest possible antagonism exists to-day between the United States of America and Great Britain. The United States of America is trying to take all of the trade from Great Britain. Prior to World War II. the American merchant marine totalled 15,000,000 tons, whilst the merchant marine of Great Britain totalled 18,000,000 tons. After the war, however, although the British merchant marine had been reduced to 16,000,000 tons, the tonnage of the -American merchant marine had increased to 48,000,000 tons. In 1938 America’s share of world capitalist exports was 13.5, compared with Great Britain’s 10.3. By 1947 America’s share had risen to 32.6, whilst Great Britain’s share remained at 10.3 per cent. By the end of World War II., United States imperialism accounted for 60 per cent, of the productive capacity of the capitalist world, and 75 per cent, of its investment capacity. I am endeavouring to show that the United States of America is expanding. It has its tentacles spread throughout the world. Although attention is focussed on the possibility of war between that country and Russia I stress that there is real antagonism between Great Britain and the United States of America, which are both struggling for survival. As a matter of fact the United States of America is doing its best to “push England under the sea “. As I have shown, the United States of America now has control of 60 per cent, of the productive capacity of the capitalist world, a position formerly enjoyed by Great Britain.
As was pointed out by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) in his budget speech, prices are falling, although wool prices are still standing relatively high. As honorable senators know, wool is our best exportable commodity. It is the commodity on which we depend principally. If, as I think is happening, the capitalist world is racing into a depression, we should seek other markets for our commodities. In this connexion it is of interest to realize that Mao Tse-tung, the President of New China, is reported to have said -
Trade between democratic China and other countries will be conducted on a basis of equality, mutual benefits, and mutual respect of territorial sovereignty.
That country could be explored as a market for our commodities, particularly wool. I understand that we are doing business with Russia in connexion with the wool trade. We should develop that trade because there will not be a capitalistic depression in Russia. Consequently, there will be a constant demand for our goods in that country. It would provide a continuing market, and we could obtain goods that we require in payment. Furthermore, there is no reason why we could not obtain wood pulp from Russia in exchange for wool, and thereby save dollars. That also applies to newsprint, timber required for mining, floor tiles, linen, calculating machines, typewriters, hard alloy, carpets, furs, cameras, optical equipment, motor cars, and superphosphate. I contend that it would be to Australia’s advantage to obtain goods that were required from Rus.sia in exchange for our wool and pay for any surplus requirement on a sterling basis. We are living on the edge of a precipice. We are an isolated
European people in the .South Pacific region. Our nearest neighbours are Asiatics and include the Japanese, who have their eyes on. this country, and will continue to covet our land. What assistance can we expect from other nations? The United Kingdom has its hands full safeguarding its own shores. The British Empire is not the closely knit unit that it was before the last war. In fact, the Empire to-day -virtually consists of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. The attitude of other Empire countries is wishy-washy. Canada, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Burma and Malaya have all been contemplating severing their connexion with the Empire. If Australia became a “ bad boy “ in the Empire, and kicked over the traces, the United ‘States of America would not be very much concerned if the Japanese came to this country to quieten us. There is peril in our isolation. We should do everything possible to cultivate friendly relations with our northern neighbours, including Russia and New China. Trade pacts with these countries would also be self-preservation pacts, and we should make them where possible. During the war we did not question the politics of our allies as long as they were prepared to fight with us. There is no reason why political differences should be a bar to friendly relations to-day. The great powers of the world are preparing for the war that they think will come. I believe that instruments of war should be banned. For years, there has been talk of disarmament and international control of the atomic bomb and other means of destruction. Why allow the atomic bomb to be made at all ? If those who preach international control of the atomic bomb are sincere, why not ban the bomb? Our representatives on world organizations should endeavour to have a prohibition placed on atomic warfare. Never mind trying to control the bomb; control is useless. We have been too prone to assume that advocates of the banning of the atomic bomb are insincere. How do. we know that they are insincere? . We have not made any attempt to find that out. It is said that they may hot be sincere, but, on the other hand’ they may be, so let us try to have the atomic bomb , banned. We are indeed fortunate to be able to live in comfort in this land to-day while the people of so many nations are hungry and ill-fed ; but Ave must not let our feeling of comfort blind us to the fact that a world catastrophe is looming.
– It is with pleasure that I rise to support the budget which, I consider, reflects the prosperity that is abroad in our land. It is a most gratifying experience to travel around the State of New South Wales to-day. It is a picture of fertility and wealth. Our wheat areas and grasslands are in splendid condition, «.nd sheep and cattle are fat. It is clear that we shall have a bumper wheat harvest. My mind goes back to 1937, when I made a similar trip around New South Wales. On that occasion dreadful conditions prevailed. Wheat-farmers were receiving between ls. lOd. and 2s. 6d. a bushel for their product. The price of wool was low. To-day, both wool and wheat are returning to the farmers sufficient money to enable them to enjoy the amenities that they so richly deserve. Australian farmers to-day are enjoying the advantages of not only bumper crops, but also of high prices overseas for their products. Our exports of primary products are doing much to enrich this country.
The Opposition parties have sunk so low in the political game that they are prepared, not only to distort Labour’s case, but also to attempt to secure some temporary advantage through the suffering of thousands of people. In June of this year, there was a disastrous flood in the Hunter River Valley, particularly in the Maitland area. The river broke its banks at Oakhampton, the flood-gates having been too small to allow the water free flow. The flood waters flowed into Louth Park. Meanwhile the people of Maitland had sand bagged the streets off High-street in an attempt to check the floodwaters. A huge wave washed the sand-bag embankment away and the people trapped in the area of the horseshoe bend were eventually saved by army personnel in military “ ducks “. The situation . was most serious. ‘ indeed. People had to sit on high ground and watch their homes being in undated and their belongings, representing in some instances their life’s savings, being destroyed or damaged. The situation was worsened by a breakdown of the sewage system. When the Flood Relief Committee, of which I was a member, arrived at Maitland, it was met by the municipal authorities. Present also was the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) . Maitland of course, is not in his electorate. It is in the electorate of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), who had not recovered sufficiently from injuries sustained in a motor car collision last year, to attend. The activities of the honorable member for New England received considerable publicity. He wanted the Flood Relief Committee to hand over to a committee in Maitland some thousands of pounds that had been provided for flood relief. We pointed out to the honorable member that the committee was responsible not only to the State Auditor-General, but also to the Auditor-General of the Commonwealth, and, therefore, could not allow the money to pass for disbursement into the hands of a body over which it had no control. The honorable member had stated earlier that millions of pounds would be required for flood relief. He was prepared to say anything for the sake of publicity. He made great demands on the Government. Although the office of the Maitland Mercury was under water, a single sheet was published during the flood period. The sheet made slighting references to the efforts that were being made to relieve the flood distress. Terms such as “ Two-bob help “, “ Twobob Chifley” and “Two-bob McGirr” were used. Later, publicity was given to a statement made by the honorable member for New England demanding more money and criticizing my presence in the flood area as the representative of the Commonwealth. The’ honorable member claimed that a responsible Commonwealth Minister should have been appointed to the committee. There was also a great, clamour in the Sydney Morning Herald and other newspapers for more money. However, when additional funds amounting to £40,000 were made available, making a total of £80,000 in all, publicity was refused. There were no further- complaints, and the newspapers apparently forgot that there had been a flood at Maitland. The flood waters receded and people returned to what was left of their homes. A substantial sum of money was disbursed by the Maitland City Council to people in necessitous circumstances. The tumult has died down, but I have pleasure in reading to the Senate a letter tha* was written to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) by the Mayor of Maitland on the 6th September, 1949. It states -
On behalf of the Council and citizens of this city, I desire to convey to you deep appreciation of work carried’ out by the Flood Relief Committee appointed by the State and Federal s Governments, following the disastrous flood in June last.
The sympathetic consideration given by the Committee; Senator Amour, Superintendent Clifford and Messrs. Jolly, Rath and Colin Smith, to all requests by myself and my Council, on behalf of the citizens who suffered such mental strain and personal loss, is gratefully acknowledged.
In particular, may I express my personal thanks for the encouragement and help so ably given by Messrs. Jolly and Rath. If it was at all possible, immediate attention was given and action forthcoming, and despite the additional handicap caused by the coal strike, the achievement of supply and delivery by these officers, speaks volumes for their organizing ability and understanding of human nature in times of stress and trouble.
Would you therefore please convey to the Flood Relief Committee, our gratitude and congratulations on a job splendidly performed.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) F. O. Fahy, Mayor.
That is the answer to the filthy propaganda of the honorable member for New England and his associates, whose attempts to discredit this Government and to make political capital out of hardship, have been aided by the press of this country. If they had examined the stricken homes and witnessed the sights that we saw in the Maitland- district they would have some idea of the sufferings of the people. To give an example, at one ruined home that the committee visited,the unfortunate householder said -
I have got a new mattress for my father who is Sick at the doctor’s home, and I have bought a new mattress for my wife, who is ill and nearly out of her mind because of what we have suffered. Look at my furniture. 1 paid f 1’75 for it, but it seems to bc almost worthless now.
The veneer had completely disappeared from his furniture, and his home was virtually wrecked. However, before we left he said to us: “My friend up the road is much worse off “. If the honorable member for New England and his* satellites had sufficient intelligence or humanitarian instinct they would be able to appreciate the tragic losses suffered by the flood victims, and would not attempt to turn the sufferings of those unfortunate people to political advantage.
Then the committee visited Kempsey, which was flooded on the 27th August. The situation in that district was similar to that which we had witnessed at Maitland. When the river broke its banks, flood waters, travelling at perhaps 20 knots an hour, carried large logs through the town and forced wooden houses off their foundations. Altogether 23 homes were washed into the sea. Business people in the town lost their entire stock and fittings. It was obvious that considerable expenditure would be necessary to repair the damage done by the flood waters. Vehicles of all kinds, including motor cars, were washed into the river, and the entire business of the town was dislocated. When the committee arrived, the only means by which it could travel was in an army “duck”. The civic authorities met us on arrival, as also did the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) . The right honorable gentleman wanted the committee to do a number of things immediately. In fact, he bad conceived a brand new method of flood relief. He wanted the committee immediately to disburse money and to purchase fodder for the surviving stock in the district, and he strove to impress upon the committee that not a moment should be wasted. As the railway line at Wauchope had been washed away by flood waters, it was not possibly immediately to haul fodder from Sydney by rail; but the right honorable gentleman pressed us to purchase fodder in Queensland for the immediate use of stock. I pause here “to point out that the ruling price for fodder in New South Wales at that time, f.o.r. Kempsey, were: lucerne chaff £5 a ton, lucerne hay from £6 10s. “to £8 and £8 5s. whereas the ruling prices for fodder imported from Queensland would have been : oaten hay £25 10s. a ton, lucerne chaff £23 10s. a ton, and lucerne hay £14 a ton. I do not know whether the right honorable gentleman was seeking to benefit his friends among the fodder-growers in Queensland; but it was outrageous to suggest that farmers in the district should be required to pay such excessive prices for fodder. However, the committee disregarded the right honorable gentleman’s suggestions and continued its efforts to obtain fodder from southern New South Wales.
Much criticism has been levelled against the committee in connexion with the suggestions made for replacement of the stock lost in the flood. We saw dead stock in a number of places, and groups of from 100 to 150 dead cows were to be seen lying on the side of the roads. The committee was informed that 15,000 head of stock had been lost in the floods, but T do not know the source of that information. I questioned the local stock inspector, who estimated the loss of stock at about 5,000 head. Subsequently I was interviewed by representatives of the press at my office in Sydney, and I furnished the facts concerning this matter to them. In fairness to the Sydney Morning Herald, I must say that that newspaper published the facts that I supplied. The report that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald stated -
Senator Amour added that the stock inspector now estimates the stock losses in Kempsey at not more than 5,000 head, compared with the earlier figure which ranged to more than 15,000.
The following day the right honorable member for Cowper described my statement as “ calamitous “, and alleged that I was frustrating the efforts of a local committee to replace the stock that had been lost. Ultimately, after a check had been made of stock losses, the number lost up to the 4th October was discovered to have been 6,057. I point out that, notwithstanding all the publicity obtained by members of the Opposition who have criticized the Government concerning this matter, no evidence has been forthcoming that the number of stock lost was sufficient to constitute a national disaster. It is all very well to suggest that the Government should replace the stock that were lost, and that it should pay freight on the transport from the south coast to the north coast of stock to replace those that were lost, but the transfer of stock from some other part of the State to the north coast will not reduce the number of stock lost throughout New South Wales. Certainly, the loss of 6,000 head of cattle was bad, but if the number had been 15,000 it would have been much worse indeed. Indeed, I regret that any stock were lost at all. No doubt it was a sad blow to their owners, and it must reduce the quantity of butter available for export to Great Britain. But what do the critics of the Government care about that? What have they done to remedy this unfortunate situation? They have merely attempted to score a cheap political advantage over the Government, which has rendered valuable assistance to cattleowners. I propose to read to the Senate a letter of appreciation that I received from Alderman Arthur Slack, Chairman of the Kempsey Flood Relief Coordination Committee. Incidentally, I think that that gentleman has been misnamed, because he is a most vigorous man and there is nothing “ slack “ about him. He is an organizer for the Australian Country party, and his business partner will be an Australian Country party candidate for the forthcoming general election. In his letter Mr. Slack said - Dear Senator Amour,
I wish to take this opportunity of expressing my sincerest appreciation of you, sir, and the officers of the New South Wales Flood Relief Committee, who have visited Kempsey twice since the flood disaster, which has devastated our town and district.
When you, sir, Superintendent Clifford, and Mr. Jolly, together with other officers of your committee, arrived on your first visit many people of this district were of the opinion you were on a sight-seeing visit. However these unfounded remarks and opinions have been completely dispersed by the wonderful work completed by the Committee during the intervening period of your visits. On your first visit, when officers of your Committee said that claims would be .paid to the distressed persons, within fourteen days of forwarding them, I was doubtful, but yow Committee more than proved the accuracy of this statement, as some cheques were received within ten days of the applicant forwarding his claim, which is an effort worthy of the highest commendation.
On your first visit to Kempsey, sir, it was brought to my notice a statement accredited to yourself appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald - to the effect that you had stated a certain sum of money had been paid to a Maitland resident being a claim for flood damage. . This statement was definitely incorrect, as you made no mention of any such payments, except that the Commonwealth had made an immediate grant of £20,000, furthermore there was not present at that meeting a representative from any newspaper.
Again, sir, I wish to thank you and your Committee for the great work you have done in relieving the distressed of this district, which I feel sure has the support of all the people of the Macleay Valley.
That comes from the heart of the people. The man who wrote that letter had no sleep for three days and nights, but worked tirelessly for the people. I do not want to recount stories of the pitiful happenings in the district when the floods occurred, but certain facts relating to the aftermath of the disaster should be placed on record. After the flood had occurred a great deal of fuss was made by members of the Opposition and by the press, which has so consistently attacked the Government. The Sydney Morning Herald opened a fund for the relief of the victims of the Kempsey flood. Of course, floods of almost equal severity occurred at that time in the Armidale, Bundarra, Moree and Bingara districts; but, although the Sydney Morning Herald’s fund was paid to Kempsey sufferers, none of the people in the other towns that I have mentioned, which were so badly affected, received anything. Furthermore, had the matter of providing relief been left to the Australian Country party, the committee would not have visited those towns at all. The committee learned from the police of the severity of the damage that had been done in the areas that I have mentioned, and in consequence it visited them. While I was in Armidale with the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers), Alderman Cameron of the Armidale Municipal Council told me that at a meeting of that council he had moved that the Flood Belief Committee should be invited to visit the district. However, the council, which is dominated by Mr. Drummond, the Australian Country party representative for Armidale in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, defeated the motion, and in consequence the Flood Belief Committee was not invited to the district. However, as I have already mentioned, the committee did visit the district, and compensation was subsequently paid to a number of sufferers from the flood experienced in that area. The committee witnessed the extraordinary spectacle of members of the Australian Country party demanding the payment of large sums of money in one district, but endeavouring to prevent the committee from visiting other districts where many people who were suffering wanted relief. Of course, the reason for the inconsistent attitude of the Australian Country party is that for political reasons they did not want the people in certain areas to obtain relief from a Labour administration. Australia experienced many disastrous floods between 1900 and 1939, including repeated devastation of the Hunter Valley, and severe floods in the Macleay Valley and in other parts of New South Wales, but until 1945 no administration afforded any relief whatever to the victims of any of those floods. The committee has received many letters from flood victims, stating that although they suffered severe damage from floods on previous occasions, they never received any compensation from the government of the day. No government paid any money to the victims of such disasters prior to 1945. I refuse to be drawn into any controversy for the sake of gaining political advantage at the expense of citizens who have been stricken by calamities of that nature. Those who are willing to distort the truth and score politically from the sufferings of unfortunate citizens can do so if they wish. I will not join in argument with them. The Director of Social Welfare in New South Wales, Mr. Len Bath, deserves special commendation for his efforts on behalf of flood victims. He has done a tremendous amount of work on their behalf. He has the responsibility of organizing supplies and relief for people who are overwhelmed by great disasters, whether they be by flood, fire, hurricane or drought. As I have often said, I disapprove of the principle of granting knighthoods to distinguished citizens, but T strongly believe that the Government should award medals in recognition of the services rendered by such men as Mr. Bath. He fully merits some formal recognition of his humanitarian labours. Another man who did great work for the relief committee is Mr. George Jolly of the New South “Wales Treasury. Members of the New South Wales police force also worked tirelessly and courageously to help the people who were driven from their homes and lost many of their possessions. I have nothing but praise for their efforts in the floods at Lismore and Grafton and later at Maitland and Kempsey. They were responsible for saving many lives, and the fact that no lives were lost until the recent floods occurred at Kempsey, is probably due in a large measure to their efforts. I also pay tributes to Captain Stook, the officer who was in charge of the army “ ducks “ that were used in the relief work, and to his off-sider, Sergeant Callaghan. They rendered great service to people in the flooded areas.
I refer now to the link between the Liberal party and the Communist party. This subject calls to mind the recent industrial trouble in New South Wales when the coal-miners, under a Communistcontrolled executive assisted by Mr. Edgar Ross, determined to stop production. They succeeded temporarily, but the Government, to the annoyance of the Liberal party, the Australian Country party and the Communist party, directed contingents of the armed forces to the open-cut mines with the result that conditions soon returned to normal. The Opposition parties wanted the Government to ask the Australian Workers Union to put its members into the mines, as that would have caused serious trouble. Fortunately, the Government ignored the Opposition parties’ proposals and followed the right course. Some extraordinary statements were made during the course of that stoppage. I have received the printed minutes of a special meeting of the Australian Council of the Australian Railways Union, which was held at the Atlas Buildings, 8 Spring-street, Sydney, on the 15th and 16th July, 1949. That document reports that Mr. Murison, described in the minutes as Comrade Murison, said at this meeting -
I often wonder whether we would not be better trade unionists without Labour governments.
I have quoted that statement from the official report. One would expect to hear such a comment from Comrade Murison. The greatest opponents of the Labour party are the Communists, because they recognize that the Labour party represents the greatest obstacle to their progress. The Labour party is always working to defeat the moves of the Communist party. One would imagine that the Liberal party would have no association with those red wreckers, those saboteurs. It declares that it wants the Communist party to be ‘banned, but, strangely, one often finds indications of its association with Communists. For example, 1 read an interesting report in the Sydney Sunday Sun, of the 17th July, 1949. under the heading, “ Casey at Red’s Home “. It was as follows : -
Federal Liberal Party president R. G. Casey spent mora than half an hour yesterday at the home of Burwood miners’ lodge secretary and leading Newcastle Communist Jim Fraser.
Mr. Casey, who arrived unannounced by plane from Melbourne, last night said his object was to meet as many people concerned with coal-mining as possible.
Mr. Casey said he would talk with miners and management representatives in Newcastle.
He said the only solution to the mining industry’s troubles was “ to educate the miners to their responsibilities “.
Upon reading that, I immediately remembered the “ slush fund case “. A royal commission was appointed to inquire into allegations of .bribery that had been made at that time, and it reported that Mr. A. W. Fadden, as Prime Minister, and Mr. W. M. Hughes, as Attorney-General, had paid to Charlie Nelson an amount of £100. I also remembered the report that Mr. R. G. Casey had brought back to Australia from a visit to the United Kingdom an amount of £100,000 for the Liberal party. Some people have said that the amount was £1,000,000. I wonder how much of that money Mr. Casey took with him when he went to Newcastle to see Jim Fraser. How much would the Liberal party be prepared to pay to enable the Communist party to disrupt industry and embarrass the Labour Government?
Members of the Liberal party know that they have no real policy, to submit to the people. They know that they cannot fairly attack the Government on the score of its advanced legislation. This Government has a record of positive achievement, not a negative record such as that of the anti-Labour governments which ruled the country for 25 years. They know that the Liberal party can gain control of the country again only with the aid of the Communist party. Two days after Mr. Casey had visited Newcastle, where he called upon Jim Eraser, he addressed a gathering at some club in Melbourne and declared that the Communists should be driven out of the country. I know of no Labour man who ever went to the home of a Communist. I leave that sort of thing to Mr. Casey and his colleagues in the Liberal party. It is truly said that birds of a feather flock together. Both the Liberal party and the Communist party are opposed to this Government. I shall not be surprised by anything that they may do to defeat the Government between now and the date of the general election.
The Sydney Morning Herald of the 17th August published an interesting report of the annual conference of the Federal Council of the Liberal party, at which the party’s policy was brought np to date. The first resolution reported was laughable. It was as follows: -
That the party emphasizes the fact that the home-building programme will be given the highest priority in its policy.
What does the Liberal party think that this Government has been doing ? Earlier to-day, Senator Finlay asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Housing to obtain for him figures showing how many homes had been built and subsidized by anti-Labour governments before 1939, and how many had been built and what amount of subsidy had been paid upon them since the Australian Labour party took office. Those figures will be very interesting to read. Members of the Liberal party must be eligible for admission to an institution for the blind if they have been unable to see the thousands of houses that have been built in cities and towns throughout Australia since the Australian Labour party has been in power. They think that they can fool the people by talking about building homes and paying endowment for the first child in every family, and by raising the bogy of socialism, but the people know that their promises and warnings are empty and meaningless. The opponents of the Labour party have been talking twaddle about socialism ever since I was a child. When I was a boy I often saw hoardings measuring about 14 feet by 10 feet, bearing pictures of a fellow with a black beard, a red handkerchief around his neck, bowyangs, heavy boots and a knife in his mouth, who was supposed to be the destroyer of home life - socialism. Another favourite antiLabour poster carried pictures of the “ socialist tiger “. The Opposition parties have carried on that kind’ of propaganda ever since, but people now realise the truth and will not be misled.
– Yes. When he was a Labour Prime Minister, the Opposition parties depicted him on their posters as the man who would destroy our homes and socialize the nation. That is the only drum’ they have ever been able to bang, and they are still belting away at it. We have two kinds of politics in this country. First, we have the politics of the Labour party, a virile party, which has introduced a tremendous volume of socially progressive legislation during the last three years. Its achievements have been numerous and outstanding. Secondly, we have the politics of the parties which represent the moneyed interests of the nation. Those interests want to gain control of the national government, not in order to help the people, hut so that they can satisfy their own selfish ends. They want to create a pool of unemployed citizens from which they can draw cheap labour. They want to drag Australia down again until men and women are forced to line up in queues to receive a dole, scarcely sufficient to enable them, to keep body and soul together. I believe that the people appreciate the true worth of this Government’s programme of social security and full employment and will return it to power with an overwhelming majority at the general election.
Silting suspended from 6.58 to 8 p.m.
– Before directing my remarks to the items set out in the budget, I think it opportune to reply briefly to some of the rather wild charges that have been made by supporters of the Government. I do not propose to deal in detail with the speeches that they have made, but the general tone of those speeches, particularly that of Senator Hendrickson, was, as usual, that the Menzies and Fadden governments that preceded the Labour Government were completely recreant to their duty. Where those honorable senators got that information from I do not know. “They certainly did not get it from any published remarks that were made by their leader, the late John Curtin. The Australian people know, but apparently it is well to remind them, that the very foundation upon which Australia prosecuted the recent war and won through to victory was laid entirely by the Menzies and Fadden Governments. In answer to the allegations made by honorable senators opposite that those governments left Australia unprepared to defend itself, I read the following quotation from a speech made by the late John Curtin in the House of Representatives on the 27 th August, 1941 :-
I do not join with those who say that Australia has failed in its war effort. I know something of the organization of industry and when we compare what has been achieved with what we previously thought to be possible we realize that somewhat of a miracle has been wrought.
That statement was made by a very honest and sincere Australian when he was Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives. And, on subsequent occasions, after he became Prime Minister, he felt obliged to commend the foundation and framework that the Menzies and Fadden governments had provided for our war effort. Speaking in the Sydney Town Hall on the 10th October, 1942, the late Mr. Curtin said -
As a Labour man I have to accept the responsibility as does the Labour movement of the whole world that it made no preparation for war. It believed in disarmament.
What” rubbish is it, then, for honorable senators to make the wild and extravagant statements that they have made in this debate? On another occasion, after he had become Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin said -
I have to pay tribute to the Government which preceded my own for the construction work they have done in defence and the foundations they have laid.
On the 18th October, 1941, he said-
The navy was at its highest pitch of efficiency as demonstrated by the notable exploits of its ships overseas. The home defence army was well trained and its equipment had been greatly improved.
Then he paid a tribute to the Air Force, and concluded with these remarks1 -
Finally, munitions production and the development of production capacity over a wide range of classes including aircraft, was growing weekly.
Those quotations dispose entirely of the wild and extravagant statements made by honorable senators opposite with respect to the state of affairs prevailing in Australia at the time when the Curtin Government assumed office.
Senator Aylett and Senator Nash, by some peculiar reasoning, suggested that if - I should rather say, when - the Menzies Government is returned to power, all the good work that Labour has done will be destroyed. Some of the services that Senator Nash said that Labour had taken over were hospitals, schools, war service homes, medical services, water services, railways and fire ‘brigades. And for good measure, Senator O’Flaherty threw in the savings banks. I propose to deal with socialism in my later remarks, but at this juncture I point out that it is not necessary that a party should have as a plank of its platform the socialization of all the means of production, distribution and exchange in order to recognize not only the wisdom but also, in some instances, the necessity of having certain services nationalized. I notice that the right honorable member for Tarra (Mr. Scullin) - and on this point I agree with him - draws a clear distinction between nationalization and socialization. It should hardly be necessary for me to remind supporters of the Government that railways and postal services were owned and controlled by governments long before there was ever a political Labour movement. Do those honorable senators suggest that there were no roads in this country until Labour evolved as a political force? Do they suggest that no hospitals in this country were community-controlled, or that there were no water services, sewage systems or fire brigades controlled by governments before the advent of the Labour party?
– That suggestion was never made.
– The honorable senator himself mentioned fire brigades among the services that he said had been taken over by the Government. One would imagine from their remarks that honorable senators opposite really believe that all community effort started with the advent of the political Labour movement. If that is so, it is sad to contemplate that they are representing sections of the Australian people in this chamber. I can only suggest that we might do well to enlarge our night school facilities.
I should like to correct Senator Nash on another point. He said that according to reports published in the press on the 6th of October, the Australian Labour party at its conference on the preceding day had re-affirmed the 1921 declaration of the party on socialism. I do not know whether the honorable senator draws any distinction between the party’s declaration, its policy and its platform, but all of the press reports that I read on that subject made it perfectly clear that what that conference re-affirmed was the party platform. However, I shall deal more fully with that matter later in my remarks.
Supporters of the Government also made another splash about the fact that the Bank of England had been nationalized. In point of fact the Bank of England has for generations been under the control of the British Treasury. Therefore, the fact that the Bank of England is nationalized makes no difference whatever; but the point is that honorable senators mentioned that fact merely to say, in effect, “ They did it in England, why can’t we do it here?” I remind them that the fundamental point in this matter is that the trading banks in the United Kingdom have not been socialized. In, that country there is free, open competition, and the Bank of England is now in precisely the same position it was in before it was nationalized; that is, it is a central! bank. At this juncture it is opportune to see what vast powers the Australian Government obtained under the Banking. Act of 1945. The particular section towhich I refer has not been challenged by the trading banks. What was challenged was the dictation purported to beimposed under that section which was successfully challenged by the MelbourneCity Council. If the Government wishesto exercise only control over the tradingbanks and does not want to destroy thoseinstitutions completely and wantonly, I ask the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) what greater power, other than, that of complete destruction, could theGovernment desire than that contained in section 27 of the Banking Act of 1945. That section reads - (1.) Where the Commonwealth Bank issatisfied that it is necessary or expedient to do so in the public interest, the Commonwealth Bank may determine the policy in relation to advances to be followed by banks and each bank shall follow the policy so determined.
Penalty: One thousand pounds. . (2.) Without limiting the generality of the last preceding sub-section, the Commonwealth Bank may give directions as to the classes of purposes for which advances may or may not he made by banks and each bank shall comply with any directions so given.
– Does the honorable senator support that?
– I do not disagree with it, if it is fairly and honestly administered. I do not believe that the banks or any other section of the community should have complete power over the lives of the people. The Liberal party has never stood for exploitation of the people, and it will never do so. But control of the trading banks is entirely different from wanton destruction of them. It is fair and reasonable that people who want to patronize the Commonwealth Bank should be able to do so; but when the Government dictates to the people and says to them, “You shall trade with that bank and no other . . .”.
– The Government has never said that to the people.
– That lean be said to the people if the private banks are acquired and put out of business and there remains only one bank in existence, namely, the Commonwealth Bank. I hold no brief for the private trading banks’; I speak for the freedom of our people. If the people want to deal with the Commonwealth Bank they should be given that choice; but if they believe that they are better served and are more fairly treated by eight, or nine, competing trading banks they should be given the freedom to patronize those institutions. Why shove people around? And talking about shoving people around, I nearly let Senator Nash escape. He referred to an instance in which one of His Majesty’s subjects, feeling aggrieved because the Government had ridden roughshod over him, applied to the High Court, the highest tribunal in the land, to interpret a provision of the Constitution. The court upheld his appeal. It held that the Government was infringing the Constitution. Senator Nash described that man as an Australian of the lowest possible type.
– The honorable senator is deliberately distorting my remarks.
– The honorable senator made a most vindictive and unprovoked attack on that man whose only fault was that he refused to be shoved around. That Australian of low type, so described, is a hard working man who came to Australia from Scotland with nothing more than a £5 note in his pocket and by his industry, ability and integrity built up a. successful business.
– Who told that to the honorable senator?
– I come from Queensland. The honorable senator is squirming because he realizes that that description of that man who refused to be shoved around implied that every one who refuses to be shoved around is an Australian of a low type. According to Senator Nash, decent, self-respecting and intelligent people who refuse to be shoved around illegally are not a good type! Thank God there are such types of people in this country that will continue to refuse to be moved around unlawfully.
– I rise to order. I did not use” the word “ lowest “ in reference to an Australian, and I ask that the honorable senator be requested to withdraw his remark.
– It is permissible for Senator Nash to make a personal explanation after Senator O’sullivan has concluded his speech.
– I should Iia te to misquote what any honorable senator has said in any circumstances. 1 am prepared to accept Senator Nash’s assurance about what he said. It was an attack of opprobium on the man who had the courage to stand up and refuse to be shoved around. I” shall be pleased if the honorable senator will show me the proof of his speech later on.
The subject of banking will still be a vital issue at the forthcoming general election. A lot has been staked on it, not only in this country, but also in countries where totalitarianism has been established successfully. Lenin asked for control of the banks as the first prerequisite to absolute power. Hitler took it during the first stages of grasping absolute power. If this socialist Government seeks to become totalitarian, as I believe it does, it must have control of the banks, otherwise there will still be economic freedom. We have had the assurance of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) that although the aims, objects, and desires of the Government have in rio way abated in relation to the banks, he will not do anything outside the Constitution. That is one of the most amazing assurances that has ever been given in a British community by any Prime Minister. Imagine a man, the head of a government, who is pledged by oath to uphold the law of this land, and the Constitution, after seven or eight years in office, giving an assurance that he will not trample on the Constitution ! We can imagine what would be thefeelings of a wife if, after eight years of married bliss, her husband came home cue night and said, “My dear, I am going to be faithful; I am going to observe my marriage vows “. Whatever reason for suspicion that unfortunate wifemay have entertained of her husband’s fidelity in the past would be fairly well confirmed by the mere assurance. I am sure that the people of Australia, if they have not already done so would lookaround now and see his passes as “Miss- banks’”, “Miss doctor and “Miss airways”, and say, “By jove, he has had a few peccadillos in his day “. The right honorable gentleman, has committed acts of gross constitutional infidelity on at least four or five occasions, and -been pulled up by the policeman in the form of the High Court of Australia, which is the protector of the Constitution and the guardian of the people, against raids upon its rights by despotic and arrogantgovernments. I still feel, as I am sure that the people of Australia will feel, amazed and bewildered that a Prime Minister felt it necessary to give an assurance that he would not violate the Constitution. In that assurance itself lies an implication that he knew he was violating the Constitution in the pharmaceutical benefits, banking, airways1 and other legislation. He either knew that he was violating the Constitution and was held up by a person whose description Senator Nash will supply later, or he did not know where he was going. As the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) has been absent from Australia so much, it is quite conceivable that he may have been out of date with the law. We are very fortunate indeed that the High Court hae been there to stop these violations of the Constitution. This assurance gets its nowhere because the right honorable gentleman cannot openly violate the Constitution so long as we have the High Court. There are lots of ways in which this Government could accomplish the much-desired goal of socialization of the banking system. We all know that one of the planks of Labour’s platform is the whittling down of the powers and complete abolition of the State parilaments.
– A good thing, too!
– With the exception of the South Australian Parliament, which ‘ was heavily wooed by the Labour party to “ come in out of the rain “, all of the State parliaments had Labour governments and could have been ordered by the federal executive of the Australian Labour party to delegate power in regard to banking to the National Parliament. If the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) deigns to reply, I ask him to inform me whether there is anything in the Constitution or in the law to prevent the State parliaments from delegating any matters within their province to the Commonwealth.
– Yes, Legislative Council’s.
– I said State parliaments. The Minister should know that a Legislative Council is part of a parliament. The Legislative assembly in Queensland, which is the only House in that State, constitutes parliament. Usually, parliament consists of two Houses, and what I said was that there was nothing to prevent the parliaments of the States from delegating to the National Parliament power in respect of banking. I still challenge the Minister to deny that assertion. If the people want only the Commonwealth Bank they could demonstrate that desire by refusing to patronize the trading banks over a period of years. I point out that 98 per cent, of the people of this country are workers. By all means give the Commonwealth Bank a fair go, but in the name of decency and freedom leave with the people the right of choice !
During this debate much has been said about the strong stand of the Government in connexion with the recent coal strike. I emphasize the word “stand” because the Government certainly did not budge. Although legislation containing great penal provisions was enacted rapidly by the Parliament I have still to see its enforcement.
– Did not the honorable senator approve of it?
– I voted for it. However, not on one occasion in connexion with the recent coal strike was any action taken by the Government against persons who broke those recently passed laws. Any action taken was instituted by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court of its own accord in connexion with contempt. Although this hurriedly passed legislation was loudly proclaimed, no prosecutions took place in respect - of flagrant violations. Of course, that is easily understandable, because according to Labour’s policy, there is no such thing as an industrial crime, regardless of what damage and injury is done to the community.
It has been claimed that the present Labour Government has destroyed communism, that “Never again shall that nasty beast raise it’s head “. Like fun it won’t ! During the last few years my colleagues and I have frequently warned the Government about the menace of communism. But the only answer we have received was “ The Communist bogy - there’s nothing in it “. Honorable senators will remember the Prime Minister saying, “Communism is only a political philosophy; leave the Communists alone; they are harmless “. But after a while we were to see the press of every capital city carrying full-page advertisements warning good unionists in such terms as : “ This is a Communist-inspired strike “, “ This is a Communist plot “ Communists are out to destroy Australia “. Such warnings appeared over the authorization of the Prime Minister J. B. Chifley. It took us a long time to convince the right honorable gentleman. The nation-wide coal strike cost the people of this country £150,000,000. Hundreds of thousands of people were unemployed, and there was consequential misery and starvation because this lethargic Government did not realize that communism was something more than a political philosophy. It is a serious but preventable canker. The Government has spent a lot of public money on full-page advertisements saying what precisely I have said over the years. However, more of that anon. Meanwhile I should like to assure the Senate that communism has not been killed by this Government. At the very most it has been given a very mild anaesthetic, and no flowers are being sent to its grave. About election time, or shortly afterwards, flowers may be sent to the Communists by the extreme elements of the Australian Labour party. I know that there are certain Labour elements that despise Communists as much as I do, but I know also that there are powerful influences in the Australian Labour party that are cavorting with communism and relying on Communists for support. The Government claims that communism is dead but I have before me the News Weekly of the 14th September, 1949, in which the following headlines appear: -
Healy and Bird Name Unions for Next Big Strike
Watersiders, Seamen, Ironworkers and Miners.
Time will tell. At the moment, I am rather on the side of this newspaper. I come now to the 12th October - only yesterday. On that day, the newspapers proclaimed : “ Miners again strike on Court action”. Here we have a classic example of the lesson that the coalminers have been taught by this strongarm Government. What were the reasons for the strike ? Here are two of them : First, it was a strike against the decision in the High Court in the Sharkey case, and secondly, it was a strike against the decision in the High Court in the pharmaceutical benefits case. There is discipline for you! If that is the justification for the claim by the Government that it has disciplined the Communists, I can only pray that honorable senators opposite will soon wake up. To-day, the Sydney Daily Telegraph warns of a “ black “ Christmas ; yet we are told that our coal strike difficulties are all over. A report published in the News Weekly of the 17th August carried these headlines -
Soviet Agents Cost Australia £135,000,000. Cominform Ordered Strike Sabotage.
We are led to believe by the speeches of Government supporters in this debate that everything in the socialist garden is blooming, but I have an idea that there is a blight on the flowers and shrubs, a few grubs in the soil. If honorable senators opposite ever go shopping for their wives, they will be amazed at what they have to pay for the limited goods that are available.
– Who opposed the retention of prices control by the Commonwealth ?
– That is a timely reminder. It is extraordinary that in the Australian Capital Territory, in which the Commonwealth Government has complete and absolute authority to control prices, the cost of living index has risen considerably more than it has in any other capital city of the Commonwealth. There is Commonwealth control for you! Admittedly, there is plenty of money in the community. We are living in what may be called an era of great financial buoyancy; but what is the good of all that money if it will not buy for us at reasonable prices, the things that we need, far less the things that we desire?
– Does the honorable senator ever have to go without anything?
– Interjections such as that are most discouraging. I am trying to talk some sense to people who I hope will be interested in what I have to say. I have worked hard all my life, and, fortunately, I have never had to go without the things. that are absolutely essential. I have, of course, gone without many things that I have wanted. I shall continue to work hard. This state of financial buoyancy and commodity scarcity reminds me of an expression that was used recently in Great Britain, where the economic situation is somewhat akin to ours because that country, too, is under a socialist government. Somebody, said that the Government appeared to be “ organizing scarcity and equalizing misery “. That is true of Australia. There are too many “ shoversaround “. I assume that all thoughtful Australians are seriously concerned about the spiralling costs. What is the good of high wages ? To bring the matter nearer home, what is the good of the recent increase of the salary of members of Parliament? That should impress Senator Nash who seems to be so self-centred. What is the good of money if you cannot buy things with it at reasonable prices? f shall cite some interesting figures relating to production. In spite of the mechanization that has taken place in the New South Wales coal mines, production fell from 3.5 tons per man day in 1938 to 2.92 tons per man day last year. “On the other hand, production in the United States of America is 6 tons per man day. In 1940, the Burwood coal mine - one of the first in New South Wales to be mechanized - was producing 340 tons per day for each mechanical unit. Just before the recent coal strike, although there were three more men on each unit than there were in 1940, production was only 180 tons a day. So much for coal. I come now to bricks. Coal is the basis of production ; bricks :are the ‘basis of the building industry, in the southern States at least. The selfimposed darg of Australian bricklayers is not only retarding the homebuilding programme, but also is an important factor in the increasing cost of new homes. Before the war, the average cost of laying bricks was approximately £2 12s. 6d. per 1,000; to-day it is £7. The article from which I have taken these figures goes on to deal with high costs on the waterfront due to the slow turn-round of ships. It points out that New Zealand is the only country in the world in which the turn-round of vessels is slower than it is in Australia. I do not blame the Government for that, but I do believe that the Government should realize what is taking place and should join us in our efforts to ensure that production shall be increased and living costs reduced. Only by increasing production can prices be reduced and our money given something like a real purchasing power. Mere increases of wages do not get us anywhere if production is not increased. Greater output is the only solution of the problem of raising our standard of living. In the final analysis, increased production costs are met by the man in the street. Higher prices do not hit the producer nearly so hard as they hit the consumer. I commend to honorable senators a statement that has been made by Mr. Colin Clark, the noted Queensland economist. He, in common with many other economists, believes that the Government is taking far too much out of industry. Everything that is taken by the Government is included in production costs and, in the final result, the people carry the hurden. The following quotation is from the Canberra Letter, issued by Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia on the 13th September, 1949.
Mr. Colin Clark, an economist of repute, has stated that once government expenditure rises to more than 25 per cent, of the people’s incomes the danger-point is reached. Yet we passed that point last year when federal revenue absorbed something like 33 per cent, of the total incomes and State taxes another 2i per cent. Under the budget just presented the Australian Government will actually be absorbing over 40 per cent, of incomes. This will constitute a very grave challenge indeed to the financial stability of our country and of our industries, both rural and manufacturing.
Taking industry as a whole, it is doubtful whether plant and equipment are in as good condition as ten years ago. Definitely, in some important industries plant replacements have been quite inadequate - and this for a variety of reasons beyond industry’s control. Actually, for the three years prior to the war Australia was absorbing more workers into growing secondary industries than it has been doing in recent years. In the three immediate prewar years our industries absorbed an additional 29 per cent, of workers, whereas the comparable figures for the last three years is no move than 11 per cent. In the last few months employment in manufacturing industries has actually declined.
We are told that Australia has reached a state of full employment. Now is the time when private enterprise should be given every encouragement. In times of dire distress, it may be necessary, in the interests of the people, to embark upon huge national undertakings to absorb workers thrown out of employment by circumstances over which neither they nor their employers have control; but what is happening now ? Astonishingly enough, private enterprise is being starved for man-power because governments and various statutory authorities are absorbing far too much labour. Again I quote from the Canberra Letter -
For this reason alone the alarming growth in Commonwealth Government administration :11Ou la be sharply arrested. But even if there had been no coal strike the need for a dr astic overhauling of the Public Service would have been immediately necessary. The number of civilian employees in the Federal Public Service in 1939 was just over 47,000, and at the end of June, 1949, it was over 180,000.
That is a colossal increase. I subscribe completely to the principle of undertaking public works in times of economic recession in order that full employment may be available to all members of the community; but it is absolutely unsound economically for the Government to seize the services of every available person in Australia to-day and place him on the public pay-roll at a time when private industry is only too anxious to absorb them on productive and remunerative employment. The budget shows that a considerable sum of money is being taken from the people. In 1938-39 the total revenue received from taxation in proportion to the national revenue was 15.3 per cent. In 1947-48 the proportion rose to 27.8 per cent., and in 1948-49 to 28.2 per cent. In 1938-39 the public had left to it for expenditure 70 per cent, of its income. Now it has only 49.2 per cent. It is amazing that the Government should
now be collecting £200,000,000 more a year from the taxpayers than it did in 1943-44, which was the peak year of war expenditure. Whilst it may be sound for a government to budget for a surplus in times of prosperity so that the community may have a nest egg in times of adversity, the present Government is, unfortunately, not following that practice. Indeed, a drunken sailor on a wild spree could not be more reckless with his money than the present Government i3 with ours.
– What is wrong with the Snowy Mountains scheme?
– The Snowy Mountains scheme may be all right in 50 years time; but I am speaking of the present. Is the Senate satisfied that the huge sum of £500,000,000, which the Government is extracting from the people, is being wisely expended ? Personally, I believe that there is a great deal of extravagance and waste, particularly when we consider the deserving claims of certain classes of the community to the bounty, if not to the justice, of the Government. I am not suggesting any interference with our present system of industrial arbitration, and whilst I have no criticism to offer on the principle of providing social services, which I believe to be highly commendable, I reserve my opinion on the matter of whether the money that is being disbursed for social services is being expended to the best advantage. For the moment, I shall content myself with mentioning certain matters to which I hope the Minister for Social Services (Senator McKenna) will give consideration. The first is that, partly as a heritage of the depression and partly for other reasons, there is an insufficient margin between the pay received by skilled workers and that received by unskilled workers. The consequence is that there is a dearth of apprentices, and I arn shocked at the general treatment of them. Of course, the unsatisfactory treatment of apprentices is not entirely the fault of the present Government, but is more the fault of. the present industrial system. We know that under non-Labour administrations as well as under Labour administrations, apprentices have not received sufficient encouragement. To me it seems a great pity that a lad who scorns delights and lives laborious days, spending his nights in study while his co-equals gad about enjoying themselves, should have to work for less than an ordinary tradesman. “Whilst I do not want to hold out any further inducement to boys to migrate from the country to the- city, something should be done to improve the lot of boys who have to live away from home because of apprenticeship or courses of study that they have undertaken. It is physically impossible for them to maintain themselves on the miserable pittance that they receive, and I suggest that some special payment should be made to them from the National Welfare Fund or from some other governmental source to reimburse them for the pecuniary loss that they suffer. We are starving for skilled tradesmen and artisans, and unless sufficient inducement is offered to boys to have themselves apprenticed, it is obvious that a sufficient number will not make the sacrifices involved in apprenticeship. Of course, there will always be exceptional young men, who, because of their ambition to get out of the rut, and regardless of the sacrifices involved, will qualify as artisans or technicians. However, that proportion is relevantly small, and it is not satisfactory from the national point of view.
Another matter that I particularly desire to stress is the inadequacy of the pensions paid to ex-servicemen who are totally incapacitated because of their war injuries. Whilst no monetary payment can adequately compensate a person for a maimed or broken body, particularly when his injuries have been sustained in the defence of his country, the pension paid to totally incapacitated persons should be at least sufficient to provide a decent living standard. This is a matter to which I particularly commend the attention of the Minister for Health and Minister for Social Services. Although his colleague the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), is expending large sums of money on immigration, and is undoubtedly doing a good job for the country, the observation, which has now become almost a common place, namely, that our best migrant is an Australianborn child, is undoubtedly true. Yet what encouragement is given to young mothers to have large families? Once a young couple begins to have a family the wife is virtually a prisoner in her home for 24 hours of the day. She is practically cut off from all social life, and it is only at week-ends that her husband can relieve her at all of the care of the children. That is one of the tragedies of our young people to-day. Whilst Australia has plenty of money, as supporters of the Government have so frequently told us, and as the budget has revealed, nothing whatever is expended to relieve the monotony and dullness experienced by young people with large families. Because they must look after their children they cannot go out either during the day or at night. I see no reason why the Government should not make some arrangement to provide for the benefit of young married people with children the services of trained persons, who need not necessarily be trained nurses, to look after children during the absence of their parents. If something could be done along those lines the Government would be doing a great deal to encourage the propagation of larger families, and there would be fewer broken homes in the community.
I shall deal presently with the need to provide better amenities for country people. At the moment I have something to say regarding the Flying Doctor service. From time to time the Minister for Social Services has expressed his sympathy with that service and has praised it highly. Furthermore, at all times the Minister has been most sympathetic with that service. The Flying Doctor service looks after the needs of people in the remote parts of western New South Wales, south-western and north-western Queensland and central Australia. It throws a mantle of safety over those who would otherwise be far removed from medical aid and the sense of security which accessibility to medical assistance provides. The service is particularly appreciated by young mothers, who know that medical attention is always available for their children. The service knows no colour or creed, and the majority of the patients attended to by it are probably aborigines. Since the first grant of £7,500 was made to the service by the Government, the expenditure entailed in maintaining the service has increased from £18,398 to approximately £61,000 per annum. The number of miles flown by Flying Doctor service aircraft annually has increased during that period from 95,000 to 263,000, and the number of wireless outposts served by it has increased from 203 to 432. Those who use the service communicate with it by means of pedal wireless sets, and by that means they are able to keep in touch with civilization. During the operation of the service the number of telegrams it has handled has increased from 41,000 to 128,000. The tragedy of Queensland, and I suppose also of other States, is the drift of people from the country to the city, and that drift is likely to continue so long as people who live in remote parts are penalized by the lack of such amenities as electrical energy and water reticulation, and by the exorbitant charges that they are called upon to pay for everything that they purchase. I see no reason why people whose existence in the remote parts of the country is so essential to our economy, and who suffer the discomfort and inconvenience of drought, heat and flies, together with lack of the amenities to which I have referred, should not enjoy some compensation, instead of being penalized by having to pay higher costs for everything that they purchase. This is not a problem that affects only Labour governments. It has always existed in Australia. If this Government really has the kindly, sympathetic heart of which it boasts, it will consider some means of compensating those people for the difficulties that they experience in the magnificent work that they are doing for Australia. The compensation could perhaps be given to them in the form of tax allowances or payments from the National Welfare Fund. That is a matter that the Government could determine. [Extension of time granted.] The Brisbane Courier-Mail recently published official figures showing that, of 33 towns and shires in northern Queensland, 23 had sustained population decreases during the last few years. The remaining ten nad registered increases, but they were of an almost negligible character. The overall loss of 5,749 citizens, as revealed by the 1933 and 1947 census figures, could not be disputed, the newspaper reported. That survey dealt only with the coastal margin of northern Queensland. The trend towards the de-population of our country areas is a feature that, as Australians, we should regard very seriously. If there is to be a continued drift from the country to the cities, Australia will face a dead future. People can be encouraged to stay in the outback parts if they are given a chance to enjoy comfortable and happy lives. We hear much talk about new industries coming to Australia. As we are living in an atomic age, would it not be wise to bring industries to those people rather than force them to go to the industries in the cities? Wise people have told us that the maximum population for any healthy city is about 500,000. As an Australian, I should be most unhappy to see many cities of the size of Sydney and Melbourne in this country. They are far too large, and far too many industries are congregated in their congested areas at the expense of the national economy.
While the Government is considering the situation of our industries, I am sure that it will not forget to cast a kindly eye upon those whose development might ease the strain that is imposed upon our limited supply of dollars. There are two such industries which affect Queensland in particular - the tobacco industry and the cotton industry. I understand that the Tariff Board has submitted a report on the cotton industry to the Government. I have not seen the document, but it is obvious that, if the Government would guarantee the payment of remunerative prices for cotton to the growers over a fixed period, not only would we save substantial amounts of dollars but also we should acquire an industry that would be of immense value in the consolidation of the national economy. Next to petrol, the importation of tobacco imposes one of the heaviest drains upon our dollar resources. Regardless of what carping critics say, experts assure us that, thanks largely to the assistance and guidance of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Queensland is capable of producing, in the Mareeba, Inglewood and Texas districts, tobacco equal in texture to the finest in the world. I appeal to the Government to succour and support those two industries. They cannot survive, much less expand, unless the producers are assured of stable and profitable prices over a fixed period.
I come now to the subject of socialism in the certainty that honorable senators on the opposite side of the chamber are eager to hear what I have to say on the subject. Many unprovoked’ statements have been made recently by government supporters, both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, and I have gained the impression that somebody has been directing propaganda with an eye to the approaching general election. The Government has been asked to define its attitude towards socialism. E have a great deal of admiration for the ideals upon which the Australian Labour party was founded. I have a great deal of respect for the men who launched the Labour party. They had a very high sense of spiritual values and many of them sacrificed all that they had in establishing the party. I have never been a member of the party, but I have been associated very closely with some who are members and others who were members formerly. I have, on occasions, even voted for Labour candidates, but that occurred in days when I regarded their socialist pledge, as many Labour men still do, as a mere theory. My Labour friends in those days assured’, me, Oh, that is the theory of Labour. It is not within the realm of its practical politics “. I believed that, aa many others did, and E continued to believe it until comparatively recently. However, such lingering doubts as still lurked in my mind as to whether the socialistic plank in the party’s platform was mere eye-wash or “ the real Mackay “ were completely dissipated with the election to office of the present Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). Whatever people may say a:bout him, nobody can doubt his sincerity. He is a sincere socialist, and he makes no bones about it. He has every right to be a socialist, but it is neither honest nor decent for people to have a ticket both ways. They cannot be socialists to-day among socialists and non-socialists to-morrow among nonsocialists and still be true either to themselves or to their cause.
The introduction of the objective of the socialization of industry and the means of production,’ distribution and exchange at the Brisbane conference of the Labour party in 1921 completely changed the party’s policy. It was something entirely new. The resolution embodying the objective of socialization was adopted on the 12th October, 1921. But Mr. E. G. Theodore, who was then Premier of Queensland, saw the fallacy of the objective and he objected to it. He summed up the situation very accurately, when he said that, if the conference adopted what he called the “vital elements “ in the objective, as it subsequently did, it would mean the end of the Labour movement. He said -
Why not call it the Communist party? Is there any difference in that-
Referring to the socialist objective - and the policy of the Communists?
Was it to be wondered at that, during the discussion, Mr. Theodore said, according to the official report -
A number of delegates had their minds saturated with ideals and dogmas that did not belong to Australia … A conference was called under the aegis of the A.L.P. and they found it dominated by these men that Labour had never tolerated. Delegates enamoured with the proletariat in “Russia and the sentiments of the I.W.W. had come along there and had translated their ideas and resolutions which had found their place on the agenda paper.
The report adds that Mr. Theodore protested against Labour being prostituted by communism and declared that the Labour party did not want communism. That shows how keenly Mr. Theodore was opposed to the incorporation of the socialistic plank in the Labour party’s platform. He moved, as an amendment, that the following objective be adopted : -
The emancipation of labour from all forms of capitalistic exploitation and the obtaining for workers and producers the full reward of their industry by (o,) nationalization of those agencies of production, distribution and exchange which are used, under capitalism to despoil the community; and (6) co-operative action in financing, marketing and distributing primary products.
Could any upholder of mitigated socialism want anything better than that? Could any but a complete socialist demand more than that? A vote was taken on the amendment. It was defeated by nineteen votes to nine, and the original complete socialization plank stood. After that amendment had been rejected, Mr. Blackburn, seconded by Mr. Keane, submitted a motion that-
This conference declares -
That tin- Australian Labour party proposes collective ownership for the purpose of preventing exploitation, and to whatever extent may be necessary for that purpose.
That wherever private ownership is a means of exploitation it is opposed by the party, but
That the party does not seek to abolish private ownership, even of any of the instruments of production, where such instrument is utilized by its owner in a socially useful manner and without exploitation.
That is not in the Labour party’s platform. It is not and never has been in the party’s policy. If a man is an outandout socialist, he has every right to be so and he can be thoroughly honest and sincere in declaring the fact. “What I object to is a man masquerading one day us a socialist and representing himself the next day to .be a bona fide Labour man, a man who subscribes to the ideals of the Labour party as they were prior to 1921. The declaration that was adopted by ti ie party on the motion of Mr. Blackburn has been claimed, both here and in the House of Representatives, to be part and parcel of the Labour party’s objective. It is not a part of the objective and it is not a part of the platform. The Government has lawyers in its ranks. Honorable senators opposite may be a little cold in their attitude towards one of them at the moment, but if they can produce a legal opinion from any legal man on their side that the declaration that was adopted at the instance of Mr. Blackburn is legally binding, in the pledge, on any member of the Australian Labour party I shall have that opinion published at my own expense. The Blackburn interpretation, as it is called, is no more an interpretation than is my foot. It is simply a harmless declaration, as I shall prove. It was adopted by the 1921 conference by a vote of fifteen to thirteen. Under the rules of the party, a two-thirds majority was required to pass a resolution to alter anything that had already been dealt with by the conference. Rule 10 provides that motions discussed and voted upon shall not be reconsidered unless with the consent of a three-quarters majority. There was no three-quarters majority in that vote. Rule 6 provides that any motion or amendment affecting the pledge, platform, or constitution of the party shall he declared lost if less than a majority of the delegates credentialled to the conference votes for it. The number of delegates attending that conference was 32, and the number who voted in favour of the Blackburn declaration was fifteen ; hut to be effective the standing orders of the conference required that it be supported by at least seventeen delegates. Therefore, the Blackburn interpretation is no more a part of Labour’s policy than the stamp on an envelope is part of the letter inside the envelope. I had never heard of the Blackburn interpretation until 194S. Since 1921 onwards I have been closely associated with many ardent members of the Australian Labour party. I have debated the subject of the socialist objective with them and they, apparently, had never heard about the Blackburn interpretation. They never referred to it in any discussion that I had with them. It has been suggested that the Blackburn interpretation is open to the world. I am prepared to place in the museum any book of rules of the Australian Labour party in circulation prior to 1949 in which the Blackburn interpretation is incorporated in the objective or policy of the party.
– I have one on my office table.
– When was it printed?
– Some years ago.
– When that resolution embodying the so-called Blackburn interpretation was put before the conference, the chairman, Mr. Demaine, allowed it to pass because it did not affect the policy of the party as that policy then stood. He allowed it to pass because it did not affect the pledge or the socialist objective of the party. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan) said in the House of Representatives that that resolution made no difference whatever to the platform, or policy, of the party. Therefore, it was purely a pious resolution, not binding in law upon any member of the party. But the Minister’s father moved that the chairman’s ruling .be disagreed with on the grounds that the interpretation was contrary to what had already been passed and had not been supported by three-quarters of the total number of delegates entitled to vote. Clearly, on those grounds the resolution was out of order. But the chairman held that as it did not affect the stated objective, or platform, of the party, it was in order. Mr. Riordan then moved that the chairman’s ruling be disagreed with, but that ruling was upheld. So far as the legal aspect of the Labour pledge is concerned, the Labour party is now precisely in the same position as it was in before the Blackburn interpretation was recorded. Consequently, if the Labour party is returned to office at the next general election we shall be faced with precisely the same position as that with which the British people are faced.
I read the following quotation from an article appearing in the News Weekly by Mr. Colin Clark, who is economic adviser to the Queensland Government -
We do not have to look very hard to see how quickly the threat of industrial conscription is being fulfilled before our eyes.
In Britain at the present day, although the enforcement is still light, Parliament has enacted that .workers may be forbidden to leave their jobs without the consent of the Labour Exchange. This is provided for not merely by the persistence of a wartime order, but through the “ Control of Engagements Order” specifically re-enacted in 1947. Compulsory labour is being applied with gradually increasing strictness to miners and agricultural workers, trades which are short of labour . . .
A recent report from Britain recounts large squads of policemen being sent out to scour the countryside to round up miners who had absented themselves from work for the day. This sort of thing happens in a serf community, not in a free country.
Honorable senators may remember that not very long ago we witnessed the spectacle of a child of ten years of age being fined £100 because he had signed up to do something in the production of a film when his guardian had not taken the precaution to obtain the permission of the Labour Exchange for him to do so. The point I emphasize is this: The Prime
Minister has explained that full employment, that is, socialism, carries with it inherently the right of direction of labour. He said that in order to give effect to that principle it might be necessary to direct not only individuals, but also whole communities. It is as plain as ABC that a socialist state, relying on full employment, must carry with it conscription, that is, direction of labour. That has been demonstrated in other countries and it must happen here if our people return the present socialist Government to office. Mr. Colin Clark in another article that was published in the News Weekly, states -
The road along which we are travelling looks a pleasant one, with increasing wages, an abundance of jobs offering, and a system of social services to protect us against all life’s contingencies. It comes as a shock to be told that one or two more turns of the road will bring us in sight of its end in the dark .prison of industrial conscription - an end which is already nearer than we care to think.
Subject to the observance of industrial laws and awards (and, in the case of a few trades and professions, to the possession of the qualifications necessary for the preservation of public health and public safety), the Australian is generally free to work at any trade or occupation he desires, and, what is more important, he has the right (after giving notice as required by industrial laws) to leave his employment, either .permanently or temporarily, by way of a strike, if he is dissatisfied with it.
Industrial conscription means a denial of these rights.
The point I make is that if the Labour party is returned to office and if it is sincere in its socialist plank, the inevitable consequence of its return to the treasury bench must be industrial conscription, the direction of labour in this country. It is clear that the rights that we now cherish shall be destroyed, and once they are destroyed, we shall not easily regain them. If supporters of the Government are socialists, let them be fair and let the people know where they stand and exactly what is implied and inherent in their socialist objective. If they are of the type of the old bona fide Labour man whom we knew prior to 1921, let them say so clearly. But in the name of decency, they should not have a foot in each of two camps which are completely irreconcilable. The driving force behind the real Labour pioneer was a high sense of spiritual values. That is a spirit that we can well do with in our public life to-day. Because of that spirit in members of the Labour party there is on the statute-book of this Parliament and of the State parliaments legislation which is a monument to their ability, intensity and love of country. I trust that those acts will find an abiding and respected place in our legislation. It is unthinkable that the Government of a country like Australia can be effective unless the representatives of organized Labour play a vital part in it. We cannot expect to have sane and sound legislation and permanent prosperity and peace, or good government, in this country unless the employees have an articulate and vital voice in the government of the country. After all, 90 per cent, of us are employees, and although it is sad to contemplate that even honorable senators and honorable members try to play up class hatreds and bitterness, we have not been together through two wars without realizing that there are no classes in this country. Class discrimination is something that members of the Liberal party do not want. Supporters of the Government have in their midst harpies who are battening on the Labour movement, but it would not be fair to criticize the Labour movement by the standards of the lowest of its supporters, any more than it would he fair to judge the Liberal party by the standards of the lowest of its supporters. The greatest handicap of the Liberal party is the bad, mean and miserable employer. Fortunately, there are not many of those people in the Liberal party, but there are some; and there would be more in this country who would exploit those unable to protect themselves were they not prevented from, doing so. But every law that has been placed on the statute-book for the protection of the underprivileged, and for the purpose of widening the rights, liberties and enjoyment of life for such people has had its genesis in parties that were not Labour. One would not be justified in -saying that all decency is to be found in the Labour party or that all indecency is to be found in the Liberal party. That is arrant nonsense that will not get us anywhere. We must realize, as members of the Liberal party are prepared to realize, that as individuals we have rights bestowed upon us by our Creator which no State can take from us, and that no matter on what side of politics we may be, we have a moral obligation to obey the constitutional law of our land. We must realize that this country was not built on regimentation but on enterprise and courage. Our forefathers did not come to Australia with a guarantee of thisor that. They came here to find for themselves and their families a wider and freer life. They left behind bitterness that had blighted their lives in the “ Old Country”. They came here possessing only courage, faith and hope. Unless we get back to the spirit of those pioneers and throw off the shackles of regimentation, we shall never accomplish the destiny that a beneficent God intended that we should enjoy in this country.
– I have listened for an hour and a half to the speech of Senator O’sullivan. I do not remember any period in my career that I enjoyed such a variety of moods. I really enjoyed th p times, quite frequent, when he was deliberately humorous. I rejoiced at his very excellent efforts at mimicry. But I must confess that at times I was bored, particularly during the long recital of the alleged shortcomings of this Government. I feared that he was going to conclude without making even one constructive suggestion, but I forgave him when at last he made a plea for more production, which coincides entirely with the Government’s own outlook and plea. I purred when he was good enough to give a pat on the head to the whole programme of social security, and I was genuinely interested when he raised questions about domestic help for mothers, further help for the Flying Doctor service - which the Commonwealth does subsidize quite substantially - when he made a plea for Queensland industries, and for decentralization. But my predominant feeling was one of sorrow. I am always sorry for a member of the Liberal party when he is called upon to make a speech, because he faces the difficulty that his party has no record of achievement. Its last act of distinction was to secure its ignominious expulsion from the Government benches when this country was embroiled in World War II., and right on the eve of the entry of Japan, one of our near neighbours in Asia, into hostilities. That last act of distinction happened at a time when it was not only the ruling political party in the House of Representatives, but also had a very substantial majority in this chamber. I can imagine no more ignominious a record for a government. This is one reason why, in speeches of this kind, our friends opposite cannot point to any type of record at all. They are particularly silent about it. Honorable senators have referred to the late John Curtin’s references to foundations for defence that had been laid by the Liberal party. John Curtin was a very kindly man. He recognized that all that the Liberal party had done in two years was to dig foundations. There was no structure and no action. The mere fact that that was so led to two independent supporters in the House of Representatives joining with Labour to cast the Liberals forth. There they have remained since, and there I believe, they will remain for a very considerable period.
Senator O’sullivan used the time at his disposal, as he had a perfect right to do, to drift over every matter in the calendar. The nature of this debate and the scope of the motion permits that to be done. In his one reference to the budget he complained about the extravagant nature of the expenditure of the Australian Government. It is true that federal budgets to-day run at about £500,000,000 per annum, whereas pre-war they totalled about £100,000,000 per annum. But what I point out to the Senate is that there are certain inescapable amounts totalling more than £300,000,000 included in that £500,000,000. I shall pose them for consideration by the honorable senator in particular. Since the recent war began there has arisen an obligation on this country and every person in it, to pay back the money that was raised - all of it in this country - for purposes of war. That alone will cost this country, for as many decades as any of us can envisage, £50,000,000 per annum. Post-war reconstruction is costing about £40,000,000 per annum. That will continue for a considerable period. This Government is expending £60,000,000 per annum on defence. I invite any honorable senator to say whether any of those expenditures should be ignored or cut down. We have obligations to war pensioners, to the people who provided war loans, and in connexion with the post-war activities that this Government has undertaken. A perfectly new item now in Federal budgets is the sum of £70,000,000 that we shall pay to the States this year for income tax reimbursement. I refer also to a fifth figure of £83,000,000 by which the social services expenditure of this country has been expanded. It has been raised from £17,000,000 to £100,000,000 in this year of grace. I have already mentioned items totalling more than £300,000,000 that will form a new and more or less permanent feature of the budgets of this country. I claim that not one penny ought to be saved under any one of the heads of expenditure that I have specifically mentioned. It is to be recognized, of course, that formerly the States took part in the collection of income tax. That is not so to-day. It is well for the people of Australia to know that this year the Commonwealth will pay to the States in one form or another £101,000,000. It will be paid under various heads, including income tax reimbursement, which, with the coal emergency grant, runs at £70,000,000. The special grants made to the various States total about £11,000,000. I shall return to that theme in a moment. Commonwealth aid for roads and works will absorb £9,000,000. What very few people in this country know is that since 1927 the Commonwealth picked up the burden of £7,500,000 interest payable by the States, and has carried that load each year since. In addition, since 1927 the Commonwealth has borne one half of the sinking fund and interest contributions in connexion with every loan raised on behalf of the State Governments. In this year some £9,000,000 will be expended on behalf of the States for that purpose.
It is all very well for the honorable senator, in the course of the speech which was mainly declamatory against the Government, to talk about huge expenditure and have no regard to the factors that I have just indicated. I suggest that he was completely unfair to make a broad general statement like that, which has a wide coverage under these conditions, and not attempt to give even one example in support of his general proposition that this Government had been extravagant. I propose at a later stage in my talk this evening to take the honorable senator up on the question of socialism, communism, and the other “ isms “ which are the last stock-in-trade of the Liberal and Country parties under present day conditions. Coming before the people without a record of which they can be proud, with no record of achievement, and no policy for the future, they are thrown back on all these fear-creating “ isms “ with which they seek to frighten the people. I shall deal with them shortly. In the interim I warn the honorable senator that he is under obligation to buy a book dated prior to 1949 - in fact, 1946 - which has the platform and constitution of the Australian Labour party on the front page, together with particulars of the 1921 declaration. Should the honorable senator fear that it will cost him a large sum of money I assure him that T shall present it to him with pleasure.
I shall, for a brief period, refer to themes associated with my own depart ment. When I talk briefly of social security, I am not unmindful of the large part played, not only by the Australian Government, but also by the State governments, municipalities, and very many voluntary bodies. They all do great work in that field. Although I do not propose to touch on anything but national security, I do not want it to be thought that 1 am unmindful of the great part played by other bodies. Nor do I intend to speak in detail of the various social services and their very great expansion in recent years. I prefer to approach the matter from the viewpoint of thoughts that underlie the Government’s actions in relation to socialism. A remark of the honorable senator impels me to emphasize the fundamental thought in the minds of the members of the Australian Labour party, in making an approach to social welfare. That thought arises from a very complete appreciation of the importance and the dignity of each individual human being. It recognizes that the true wealth of a country is its people. I refer not to people en masse hut to the individuals who constitute it. There is a complete recognition by this Government that each individual has a soul and, therefore, is of supreme importance to his Creator; in addition he has the importance of association with family and friends. Nobody would argue the proposition that everybody is of very great importance to himself. I think that we can accept that proposition.
– That is unchallenged.
– I did not expect a challenge on that point. It is a complete recognition of that fact that bag led the Government to do what it has done for the various individuals throughout the community. We do not liquidate - to use a continental expression - men and women who cease to make any further social, cultural or economic contribution to their country because of sickness. We do not even think about those things, because of the other factors that I have mentioned. So that there is a. complete and full appreciation of the importance of the individual.
The next matter that I want to stress in connexion with the thought underlying our approach to social security, is that the days of private charity, with a haphazard approach to the ills of mankind, are gone. We consider that the aged, the sick, the invalids, the homeless, the distressed peoples of every kind, including widows and others, should not be dependent upon private charity. We feel that there is a complete obligation upon the community to look after distressed people of all kinds. Allied with that is the thought that we insist upon the provision of a minimum standard of well-being for each person in this community. That is our aim and objective, below which nobody, at any time should be allowed to continue *nd thus fall into some form of destitution or distress. I direct the attention of the Senate to the fact that we are not pro-
Tiding benefits to destroy incentive and initiative. We are providing them at levels that will still allow the kicks of ‘adversity to be felt. There is still left to the individual some incentive to make and play his own part. My fourth thought - and I think that this is as important as any other that I have mentioned - is that the Government, both in the expenditure of moneys on social services, and in the collection of revenue for that purpose, has sought to build the family unit in this country. If we examine the group of social service benefits ranging from the maternity benefit to child endowment, unemployment sickness and hospital benefits and the rest, to ascertain the spread of the benefits, we find that they are biased most heavily in favour of the family unit. On the other hand, a perusal of taxation scales reveals that the greatest possible relief is afforded to the income earner who has family responsibilities. I shall give three brief examples. First, take the man with a wife and two children. If he receives less than £318 per annum, he pays no social services contribution at all. He pays no income tax until he reaches £828 per annum. On the other hand, he takes out of the pool, £26 per annum for one benefit alone, namely child endowment. Next, a man with a wife and three children pays no social services contribution on any income up to £351 per annum, and no income tax until he reaches £884 per annum. On the other hand, he takes from the National Welfare Fund, £52 per annum for child endowment alone. I come now to that rather rare individual, the man who has a wife and five children. He pays no social services contribution until he receives £451 per annum, and no income tax until he reaches £996 per annum, yet, in child endowment alone he receives £104 per annum. The thought that animates the Government in its approach to these matters is, “Here is nation building at its best”.
I come now to another phase of our social security programme. In taking from the Consolidated Revenue the sum of £100,000,000 and spreading it through.OUt the community over the whole range of social services benefits, the Government, in effect, is making an equitable redistribution of at least portion of the national income. That money goes into circulation at a higher velocity than does any other money that is projected into our economy. It is expended almost immediately it is received, mainly on the necessaries of life, and in that, way, it gives a great stimulus to activity and full employment in the community. The last thought that I shall develop on this theme is that the people of this country, in 1946, conferred upon the Commonwealth Parliament - as distinct from the Australian Government - vast powers in relation to the provisions of social services benefits. But the people not only conferred powers! upon the Parliament; they also imposed a very great responsibility on the Government. The Government has taken up the challenge, and, animated by the thoughts that I have expressed, has developed its scheme of social serurity in a way that certainly has been of great benefit to the individual, and at the same time has given vast relief to many worthy sections of the community. A substantial contribution has been made to our national well-being, and I do not use that term in any narrow sense. When I speak of the health and well-being of the people of Australia, I have in mind all the things that go with hygiene, nutrition, full employment, good housing, improved working conditions, the prevention of disease, the promotion of positive health and education. If any one had any doubt about whether that was so, I should invite him to contemplate what happened in Great Britain during the war. At a time when bombs were falling on London and other cities and there were fewer doctors for the civilian community because so many were serving with the armed forces, there was a better balanced diet owing to rationing, a better distribution of food, and, strange to say, the mere fact that the country was at war meant that work could be found for everybody. Probably for the first time in history, there was full employment in the United Kingdom for every man, woman and child who cared to work. The extraordinary lesson of those times was that it brought peace of mind to the people of Great Britain because they had security even amidst the insecurity of bombing. They felt that they were secure against the adversities of life, and they were prepared to take their chances with the bombs. They were healthier than ever before, and, paradoxically, one reason for their improved health was that security of employment gave them peace of mind despite the dangers in which they lived. I have mentioned several items which, in my view, constitute national health and well being. I do not propose to develop a theme on all of them, but to show that the Government has had each one of them in mind, I shall deal with a few of them. Take first the prevention of disease. There -are in the community controversialists, political and otherwise, who say that the Government is not concerned with the prevention of disease. My answer to that is, first, that the quarantine laws and. quarantine services of this country have been strengthened immeasurably in recent years by the Labour Government. The fact that we have been able to keep out of this country such diseases as smallpox, yellow fever, plague and cholera, some of which are quite prevalent in other parts of the world, shows that the Australian people are adequately protected. Probably they do not often think of this preventive ring of quarantine that has been erected around our shores, but I repeat that there is no higher form of prevention than to ensure that these wretched diseases shall not get amongst our people. The protection afforded by our quarantine laws, strengthened as I have said under Labour rule, accompanies every man, woman and child in the community every day of his or her life. I refer next to tuberculosis, the incidence of which bears most heavily upon our younger people in their most fruitful years. The Commonwealth in conjunction with the States - and I pay a tribute to the readiness of the States to co-operate - has intitiated for the first time in our history a nation-wide drive to wipe out tuberculosis. The Commonwealth has prepared the plan and is providing all the money, not only for capital expenditure, but also for all new maintenance work. There again, although I doubt whether many people appreciate it, is protection for every man, woman and child. As this disease is brought under control, the air of this country will be made purer and safer for everybody, lu effect, a blanket protection will be provided for every man, woman audi child, wherever people congregate - in shops, offices, trams, trains and theatres. There again, I claim, is disease prevention at its best..
I come now to the third aspect of disease prevention - the free distribution of prophylactics for campaigns to immunize people against diphtheria and whooping cough. Iodized salt tablets are also being provided free of charge to eliminate goitre in goitrous areas of the Commonwealth, of which unfortunately, Tasmania is one. The best medical authorities agree that prevention is better than cure. I could dwell on many other aspects of our activities under that head, but I believe that I have already made out an adequate case for the Government.
On the subject of (promoting positive health, I point particularly to the establishment by the Commonwealth Government of a Chair of Child Health at the Sydney University. I understand that discussions were almost concluded in Sydney to-day on the appointment of a suitable person to that Chair, but the final determination rests with another body, the Senate of the University. However, that Chair, when established under appropriate leadership, will do much to” train undergraduates and doctors in children’s diseases, and will undertake research in various directions. At the Institute of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, in Sydney, the Commonwealth is in process of establishing an industrial hygiene unit. The purpose is to train medical practitioners in the problems that afflict people in industry. Workers spend the greatest part of their lives at their work. There they encounter problems of noise, dust, ventilation, heat, fumes, and vibration. Frequently they are not conscious that these irritations do exist, but the Commonwealth is tackling the problem with the object ultimately of reducing the disabilities which adversely affect the working people, of this country. Dealing still with the promotion of positive health, I refer to the Government’s plans, evolved in conjunction with the Australian Dental Association, to care for the teeth of our children. I have given figures to the Senate before on this matter. In Australia there are approximately 1,750,000 children under sixteen years of age not more than 15 per cent, of whom are receiving any dental care at all. We need thousands more dentists, or, if the work is to be done by dental hygienists, we shall need twice that number of dental hygienists. It will take some time to train the necessary personnel to tackle that problem. It will take time also to provide the necessary buildings, but I assure the Senate that not only has the plan been evolved, but also talks are proceeding with the Australian Dental Association to determine just how the problem will be tackled. I look forward to seeing, in the course of the next few years, a Labour government proceeding with that plan, so that the rising generation may be given an opportunity to go through life with clean mouths and natural teeth.
Apart from the prevention of disease and the promotion of positive health in the ways I have indicated, the Government is providing various financial benefits designed to take the financial hurden of sickness and ill health off the individual and place it on the community to some degree at least. It is for that reason that the Government has embarked upon its programme of hospital benefits, including public hospitals, private hospitals, ana mental hospitals. We are waiting now on two States to approve of legislation which will then ensure uniform application of mental institution benefits throughout Australia. In addition, there arc pharmaceutical benefits about which 1 shall have something to say presently. The National Government, in agreement with the States, has provided approximately £4S,000,000 for housing, and has introduced- a. scheme of rental rebates that will ensure that wage-earners will not have to pay more than a reasonable rental for any house that is built under the scheme.
Now I turn to the whole broad scheme of social security, and emphasize the vast development that has taken place during Labour’s regime. The annual expenditure on social services during labour’s term of office has increased from £17,000,000 to £100,000,000, and a sum at least as great will be provided in future years. Age and invalid pensions have been doubled, maternity benefits have been trebled, child endowment has been doubled and a lot of new social benefits have been introduced by Labour. Widows’ pensions, unemployment and sickness benefits, wife and child allowances, funeral benefits and a plan for the rehabilitation of disabled persons have been provided. During that period the means test has been greatly liberalized. The Bureau of Social Work and Research of the Department of Social Services has been established and is now functioning efficiently. Another important development has been the establishment of reciprocity in respect of social services between Australia and New Zealand ; the two countries are now as one for the exchange of social service benefits. Negotiations are also proceeding for the establishment of reciprocal arrangements between the United Kingdom and Australia. Despite the differences in the nature and type of social services provided by the two countries, and the different financial foundations on which they rest, a high, measure of -reciprocity will be established. The Government has insisted upon the provision of adequate social security for the people because it is conscious of the importance of the individual to the community. I invite any honorable senator or any person outside the Parliament who grumbles about having to pay a social services contribution to consider how people would fare without the extensive programme of social services that the Government has introduced. For instance, how would the 321,000 age pensioners fare, 65 per cent, of whom have no income whatever apart from their pensions? How would the 76,000 complete invalids fare, or the 43,000 widows, or the 1,100,000 children who receive child endowment ? I remind honorable senators that 17S,000 mothers received the maternity allowance in the last financial year. How would they fare if social services were withdrawn or contracted? How would the unemployed fare? While I am discussing this phase of the Government’s programme, I emphasize the low cost of administration. In the distribution of every social benefit the cost of administration is less than 1 per cent, of the total amount paid to the beneficiaries, except in the payment of unemployment ‘ and sickness benefits, which requires the maintenance of a special staff. Fortunately for the country there have been comparatively little sickness and unemployment in recent years.
I turn now to the subject of socialism mentioned by Senator O’sullivan. I pay this tribute to the honorable senator, that he did mention the declaration that accompanied the socialist objective of the 1921 conference of the Australian Labour party. In the controversy that rages now, a person who mentions the declaration is rare indeed. Controversialists, political and otherwise, who continually slate the Labour party for its socialist objective - and let me add now that the Australian Labour party, does not run away one whit from that objective - refer entirely to the objective, to the exclusion of the declaration. The declaration gave life and breadth and expression to the objective ; in fact, gave dimension to it. Without the declaration the objective would have no meaning. It has been said by many anti-Labour controversialists that nothing has hitherto been said about the declaration by members of the Labour movement. I have already pointed out to Senator O’sullivan that the declaration stood for years in the rule-hook of the
Tasmanian branch of the Australian Labour party, which is an integral part of the Australian Labour movement. That declaration is also written into the constitution of the South Australian branch of the Australian Labour party. I also take this opportunity to inform the honorable senator that during the federal conference of the party that was held in Canberra in. September, 1948, and which was attended by 36 delegates, there was not one dissentient from the ruling given by the chairman of the platform revision committee, who was then Mr. Percy Clarey, that the declaration still stood. If Senator O’sullivan or any of his colleagues desires further confirmation of the existence of the declaration, let me inform them that only last week, when the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour party, which is the controlling body of the movement for the next three years, met in Canberra, it considered this matte]’, and affirmed in most express terms the 1921 declaration.
– I do not doubt the existence of the declaration, but I doubt its validity.
– It can be accorded no higher validity than the confirmation of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour party. I am obliged to the honorable senator for the admission that he made of the successful operation of socialism in many spheres. He recognizes that socialism pervades our very life in this country. There are some, unfortunately, who imagine that socialism is some horrible ideology that is to be abhorred. However, I think that other supporters of the Government in this chamber have made the point previously that every day we are using socialized water, telegraphs, telephones, hospitals, parks, gardens and beaches, and the attitude of the Australian Labour party is correctly expressed in the socialist objective of the party, which is the socialization of industry and of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The honorable senator was good enough to quote that objective, but for his benefit I shall now read the declaration that accompanied that objective. That declaration states -
Therefore, the purpose of the “ objective “ is plain. As in the past, socialization will be applied only where it is desirable in the public interest to do so, or where it would be dangerous not to apply it to an activity or an industry. I have not the slightest doubt that between the present time and the forthcoming general election the socialist objective of the party will be quoted again and again, not only by the Liberal party but also by its satellite bodies, the Constitutional League, the Liberal-Country League and various other bodies that have been formed for the purpose of concealing the vast sums at the disposal of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party. I have no doubt that every day and night, and even during every hour of the day or night, we shall hear wireless broadcasts about Labour’s “ socialist “ plans. I merely point out now that to present the objective of the party without also presenting the declaration is to present a complete untruth to the people of Australia. However, that untruth will undoubtedly be repeated again and again. Of course, we cannot expect much else from political parties that are bereft of achievements, are devoid of any constructive policy, and can only lurk behind a smokescreen of distortion, suppression, abuse and ill-founded criticism. That is all those parties have to offer the people. I take the opportunity to repeat now that the socialist declaration of the party that was formulated in 1921 stands as firmly as does the objective; and that they have so stood together for the last 28 years. I assure Senator O’sullivan that his museum will obtain free a copy of the book, from which I have been quoting, which is dated 1946, which sets out the socialist declaration and also the objective.
Let me say a word or two now about the future of the country. I was disap- pointed that Senator O’sullivan did not point to some vast project of national development or some great scheme to benefit the country. He certainly concerned himself with schemes for the development of industry in Queensland, which he represents. I say at once that the present Government takes no narrow view when the development of any part of Australia is concerned. At present the Government is discussing the provision of financial assistance for the development cf the Burdekin Valley, to provide hydroelectric power and water for irrigation, and generally to develop that area. It has already undertaken vast developmental schemes in New South Wales. The Joint Coal Board, which was established in collaboration with the Government of New South Wales, has millions of pounds to expend to develop in the national interest the coal deposits of New South Wales. Huge sums are also involved in the Snowy Mountains scheme, which will provide hydro-electric power and encourage water conservation and irrigation in three States. The Commonwealth has made great financial contributions to assist the development of the Leigh Creek coal-fields in South Australia and it has provided approximately £2,250,000 for the development of a vast water reticulation scheme in the south-west portion of Western Australia. In addition, it has offered to pay half the cost of a medical school that is to he established in Western Australia. The State of Tasmania which I represent has also not been neglected. After years of careful examination of the best methods, and intensive research to discover the most suitable plant, the Commonwealth has decided to establish the aluminium industry in that State, in order to promote the production of bauxite and other valuable metals. Having mentioned those schemes, I again emphasize that where development is concerned the Commonwealth knows no State boundaries. Its only concern is the good of Australia and the safety, social security and prosperity of our people. To that end it is prepared to foster any sound scheme of development. The well-being of Australia has been promoted by the present Government by every means available to the National Government.
I invite honorable senators now to consider the economic situation in which we find ourselves. It is true that in the near future we may experience some degree of economic recession, because this country cannot escape the impact upon its economy of events overseas. It is idle to deny that events are occurring overseas which may adversely affect our economy. How is the country prepared to confront the developments that may follow those events? Let me give four examples. Labour has established the National Works Council, a body representative of the Commonwealth and the States, which is ready to undertake public works of a total value of £753,000,000. Half that huge amount of money is already allocated for works that have reached the “ blue-print “ stage, and tenders could be called at once for more than £300,000,000 worth of work. When I mentioned the figure of £753,000,000, I did not, of course, include the vast Snowy Mountains project, which will cost more than £200,000,000 to complete, nor did I include the cost of completing the standardization of railway gauges. If I were to do so, the total would be approximately £1,200,000,000. Of course, all the works to which I have referred could not be put in hand at once, and, in any event, they should not be allowed to compete with housing and the more urgent needs of the community. However, it must be a consolation for people to realize that this vast reservoir of public works exists. Furthermore, under Labour’s administration Australia has accumulated credits of more than £400,000,000 sterling in London, which will protect our balance of trade for many years to come. The next matter to which I refer relates to social services and the broad scheme of social security which I have already outlined. The high economic velocity of the expenditure of £100,000,000 annually on social services is in itself a great promoter of full employment. Finally, I remind honorable senators and the people that through its 1945 banking legislation the Government has assured to the people of this country some control over the expansion and contraction of credit in times of adversity. That, perhaps, is the greatest safeguard of all.
I shall refer now to two statements that were made by Senator O’sullivan. He said that the Government was concerned to embark upon a scheme of industrial conscription, under which it would be able to tell people to go here or to go there. The honorable senator was completely misguided and misinformed in that particular. I shall demonstrate that to him, first in law, and secondly in fact, and then I shall prove to him that his last statement was as incorrect as were all the others that he made. First I deal with the question in law. The one power that this Commonwealth has over the people of Australia in their working conditions is the power over conciliation and arbitration when an interstate industrial dispute arises. It amounts to that and nothing more. This Parliament cannot legislate in any particular on the relations between employers and employees. That would be constitutionally impossible. Under those conditions if we cannot legislatively regulate even the least of the conditions under which a man works, how can we legislatively tell him where he is to work or how he is to work? The honorable senator was very busy issuing challenges to-night. I invite him to tell me one head of power in the Constitution which, in peace-time, would enable the Commonwealth Government to tell one man, one woman, or one child where to work, how to work or what to work at.
– Is not tire Snowy Mountains scheme a defence project? 0
– It may well be a defence project, but this Parliament has no power in peace-time to conscript one man to work on it. I have demonstrated my first proposition. In law, we have no power of industrial conscription. It follows automatically that we have no power in fact. That brings me to the third proposition. The honorable senator said that the Prime Minister had said that labour would be conscripted. The Prime Minister said nothing of the kind. That was a complete distortion of what the Prime Minister said. I recall what he said very well. It was said very truly, and with his usual tolerance and good humour. He said something like this: “We cannot develop and expand this country if every man insists upon looking at the town hall clock every day and holding the hand of his wife every night “. The right honorable gentleman could not have spoken truer words. The statement simply meant that, if projects like the Snowy Mountains scheme were to go ahead, men would have to move out to them. But no man could be sent to them against his will.
– What about the people who “humped the bluey” all over Australia looking for work when anti-Labour governments were in office?
– People are in u much more fortunate position to-day than they were in then. There are 750,000 more people at work to-day than there were just before the Labour party took over the government of the country eight years ago. Apart from those who are sick or unemployable, not one person in the community need be out of work to-day.
There was another phase of Senator O’Sullivan’s speech to which I wish to refer. It related to banking. I point out to him that this Government sought to embark upon the nationalization of banking for many reasons. It believed that the people of Australia, through their elected government, should have complete control of the life-blood of the community by controlling credit. What were the Government’s fears? It had a number of fears. One of them was inspired by the leader of the Liberal party, Mr. Menzies, who said, just prior to the general election nf 1946, that if his party were elected to power it would immediately review the 1945 Banking Act, which Senator O’sullivan told us to-night was a bulwark for the people. Mr. Menzies promised that, if he were returned to power, he would immediately re-establish the Commonwealth Bank Board. It would be well for honorable senators not to forget that fact, and to remind their friends outside the Parliament of it as often as they have the opportunity to do so. Mr. Menzies is silent about that pledge now: but anybody may read it in Hansard in almost the exact words that I have used. Thom the legislation was challenged by the municipality of Melbourne, with certain backing from solicitors who represented some very important banks.
– That is a very unfair inference.
– It is true, nevertheless. Not only was section 48 of the act in question, but also, in the course of the statement of claim, the whole of the act was challenged. Another matter that gave the Government great concern occurred when, pursuant to the 1945 legislation, the Commonwealth Bank required the various private banks to deposit their investible funds with it, in accordance with the practice of a central bank. Although the various trading banks complied with that request, they wrote, one after the other, almost standard letters in which each of them plainly claimed that it did not acknowledge the validity of the 1945 legislation, which required it to make those deposits. That and other matters primarily influenced the Government to take the ar-tion that it subsequently took.
Now I come to the commentary by Senator O’sullivan upon the Prime Minister’s statement that the Government would not do anything unconstitutional. I wonder what the honorable senator would have said had the Prime Minister reversed that assurance and said that he proposed to do something unconstitutional? Will the honorable senator be fair enough to recognize that the horse and buggy “ Constitution that we suffer from, which was drawn up in prefederation days, is a matter of profundity and obscurity. Nobody knows better than does Senator O’Sullivan what a vast amount of wealth has been taken by the lawyers of Australia out of every word in that Constitution. For example, I refer to the placitum that gives the Commonwealth power over conciliation and arbitration for the prevention or settlement of interstate industrial disputes. A fortune has been made on every word, and almost every letter, in that one brief head of power. It is very difficult for governments to know what views the High Court and the Privy Council will take in relation to the extent of their powers. Those difficulties face any Commonwealth government, of any political character. Being cluttered up with a written Constitution, the first question that any government must ask itself whenever it wants to engage on any act, is: “What does the Constitution provide? Have we the necessary power ? “ One approaches such problems timorously, wondering whether one may go so far or so much farther. It is completely true, of course, and I hope that the people will realize the fact some day, that the Commonwealth Constitution badly need’s overhauling. It is very difficult for governments to decide just what ambit of power they enjoy under the Constitution, and the quickest way for them to learn is to test it and try it. By that means also the people can be made to realize eventually the limitations that are imposed upon, them by the Constitution.
I refer now to the subject of socialization. I point out to’ Senator O’sullivan that the power of the Commonwealth Government in relation to socialization is limited in the extreme, and I challenge him to tell me of something substantial that the Government could nationalize. Complete untruths are poured out by the propaganda machines of the Government’s opponents. They declare that Labour proposes to take every home, farm, business and shop. That would be completely impossible legally. This Parliament has no power over any activity that is solely confined within the boundaries of a State. Therefore, the only acquisition that the Government can make within the boundaries of a State is land that it requires for a post office, a quarantine station, a defence establishment or something that is required for this parliamentary institution. We would have no power to acquire any other single thing. Then what power do we enjoy? Our power is limited to interstate transactions. It is true, as Senator O’sullivan has said, that the Government tried to establish a monopoly for Trans-Australia Airlines when an adequate service was provided between two points. But the High Court, which is the interpreter of the Constitution, held that section 92 prohibited the creation of a monopoly. Therefore, despite what would appear to be the existence of complete and uninterrupted power over interstate trade - and interstate air activity is only one phase of that - the High Court held that section 92 prevented the creation of a monopoly. Both the High Court and the Privy Council have made a similar declaration in relation to the function of banking in this country. What other field of consequence can we move into ? I have simply pointed out the cold facts. I am certain that the people will not be frightened out of their appreciation of a Government that has seen them successfully through a war and a difficult post-war period and has brought them finally to a state of economy that is second to none in the world.
– What would prevent the States from delegating to the Commonwealth the power to socialize any undertaking?
– Again I give the honorable senator a short answer: legislative councils, those non-democratic institutions established for no other purpose than to stem the rising tide of democracy. I assure the honorable senator that they will be very effective bars to any socializing activities of the Commonwealth. I refer the honorable gentleman to Queensland, the State which he represents. I invite him to tell the Senate how many farms, how many homes and how many businesses have been taken over in Queensland, where the Labour party has held office for decades. Will the honorable senator present a list of socialized undertakings in that State, where Labour governments have been in power for years without being cluttered up by any undemocratic legislative council? The honorable gentleman is silent. The case of Queensland provides an effective answer to the Liberal party’s alarmist propaganda. The Government of that State has unlimited power. It is completely free to socialize Queensland from one end to the other. The honorable senator said that he would be speaking on another matter in this chamber in the near future. As he is silent now, I invite him to think the matter over and to present to the Senate then a list of all the socialized projects in Queensland. I remind him that overseas interests are bringing into Australia, as the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has announced, well over £100,000,000 of capital for the purpose of establishing their own free enterprises here. They have as much confidence as to the extent to which this Government can and will socialize industry as the people of Queensland have in their own State. If the honorable senator would read informed opinion of what is happening in the United Kingdom he would realize that he could not stimulate the interest of an Englishman in his arguments for one minute. The average British citizen would keep on walking if he tried to stop him and criticize the socialization that has taken place in that country. Objective observers who have visited Great Britain year after year, during the war and subsequently, return to Australia amazed by the metamorphosis that has taken place in the outlook of the British people. Those people are happy. They are secure. They enjoy a peace of mind that they never knew before. They know that they can be blasted out of existence by bombs, but they know that no longer can the burden of life crush them.
– Order ! The Minister’s time has expired.
– I was enjoying the remarks of the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) so much that I should have been happy had he asked for an extension, of time. I am sure that if he had done so there would be no necessity for me to speak at this juncture. I enjoyed listening to his reply to Senator O’Sullivan’s speech. Members of the Opposition parties did not really criticize the budget at all. Senator O’sullivan was not long in his stride before he trotted out the old Socialist “ tiger “. J did not expect that he would do so in view of the fact that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) was mild in his criticism of the Government and failed to touch upon that bogy. The Leader of the Opposition went so far ns to say that the budget contained many bright spots. That is indeed a commendation of the budget. I do not wish to deal with matters that have already been adequately covered by speakers from the Government side of the chamber. However, I could not help smiling at Senator O’Sullivan’s discomfiture when the Minister for Health suggested that in his condemnation of socialism he might tell the Senate something about socialist movements in Queensland. That placed Senator O’sullivan in an embarrassing position, because the Brisbane City Council, which is the most conservative localgoverning body in Queensland, has confiscated about 100 buses owned by private enterprise. Senator O’sullivan criticized the Government for buying out private enterprise with a view to establishing concerns on a socialistic basis. The public do not fully appreciate the influence that governments under existing economic conditions must exert directly upon our industrial and commercial life. For instance, the Australian Government affords through me as Minister for Trade and Customs, a great deal of assistance directly to industries of all kinds. There is practically no industry of any importance with which the Government has not some direct relationship.
I do not run away from the idea of socialism. I recall that about 30 years ago a Labour government in Queensland financed the establishment of sugar mills extending along Queensland’s coast, and eventually handed over those mills to the sugar-growers which are now operating them on a co-operative basis. The point I make is that, probably, those mills which have proved most successful would not have been established hut for that action on the part of a government. I am sure that Senator O’sullivan would not contend that that government was unwise in venturing into the field of private enterprise in that way. Thriving townships have sprung up around those mills. The same observation applies to the actions of governments in other States. For instance, in Victoria, which is considered to be the most conservative of the States, the Government has made available £50,000,000 to £60,000,000 public money in the establishment of industries, and nobody would claim to-day that that action has not been in the best interests of the country.
The prosperity of a nation can largely be gauged hy the stability of its industries, the standard of living of its people, and the prosperity of those engaged in the business of the country. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) in his budget speech said that this is the second occasion on which the Government has been able to show a surplus since the end of the recent war. In 1944-45, which was the last full financial year of the war period, revenue fell short of expenditure by £266,000,000. That deficit was met from the Loan Fund. Since that year the Government has effected reductions of taxes which on the basis of present income levels would be valued at £2SO,000,000 per annum. That should answer the claims made by the Opposition parties that taxes should be reduced. At the same time, the Government has settled outstanding war accounts, including our huge commitment under lend-lease. The sum of £108,000,000 has been provided for the repatriation and rehabilitation of ex-service personnel, whilst £184,000,000 has been provided for the payment of interest and sinking fund on our debts arising from the recent war. Although our deficit in the last full financial year of the war was £266,000,000, the Government now shows a surplus for the second time within the last four years. At the same time, it has provided those large amounts for the purposes that I have indicated. In addition, it has made monetary gifts totalling £35,000,000 to the United Kingdom. The importance of those gifts is not generally appreciated. I point out that the United Kingdom will use that money in its programme of assistance to Western Union countries for which purpose it has already provided £80,000,000, and those countries will use that money to purchase primary products from Australia. Therefore, this country will benefit indirectly from the gifts that the Government has made to the United Kingdom. Since the recent war, social services expenditure has increased from £31,000,000 to £81,000,000 per annum and a credit of nearly £100,000,000 has been established in the National Welfare Fund. The Opposition can derive some consolation from the fact that the Government is using collections of income tax for the benefit of the nation and for the purpose of preventing any serious dislocation of our economy, or reduction of our standard of living, in the event of a recession.
I was rather amazed to hear Senator O’sullivan state that the number of industries in this country had not increased during the last year. I think that he cited Mr. Colin Clark as his authority for that statement. I can only conclude that the honorable senator has misinterpreted the views expressed by that economist. As the result of the Government’s policy we are witnessing great industrial expansion in this country. I admit that the cost of living is increasing, but that is one result of the fact that we have to pay very high prices for the raw material, plant and equipment required by our manufacturing industries which we have imported to the value of £400,000,000. In respect of some of those items, importations increased by 100 per cent. Those goods must be absorbed in the economy as a whole and, therefore, that expenditure must be reflected in increased costs of manufactured goods. However, despite the rising cost of living our people have never been so well off as they are to-day. I remind the Senate that during the depression period of 1930-31 the Government then in office was unable to balance its accounts because of the serious diminution of revenue and its inability to raise loans either on the overseas or local markets. As the Minister for Health has already mentioned, we now have credits of over £400,000,000 in the United Kingdom. Prior to the depression- period antiLabour governments had borrowed to such an extent that we had no credit left in. Great Britain. Consequently, when prices receded, the people of this country suffered economically. Customs revenue fell considerably because of the tremendous reduction of imports. Direct taxation diminished owing to the reduced volume of internal trade and the decreased earning power of industry because of lower prices. At that time Australia was experiencing splendid seasons, the productive capacity of the country had not been impaired, and nature had been generous and bountiful to us. However, tremendous hardship was inflicted on the country because of a complete breakdown of the mancontrolled mechanism of exchange which brought about a collapse of trade and loss of commercial profits. There were thousands of business bankruptcies and unprecedented unemployment. The policy of this Government is to guard against a recurrence of that sort of thing. Because of exchange and currency considerations operating in the world to-day we know that certain difficulties affecting this country will arise. We must recognize that we cannot continue to have full employment in this country together with a high standard of living if conditions in other countries of the world are not good. Over 50 per cent, of our primary products is sold outside this country. If the standard of living of the purchasers falls, inevitably we will obtain lower prices for our exports. To a large degree these calamities could have been avoided if both the Commonwealth Bank and the private banks had adopted a sane policy. It is well known that the banks had prospered greatly from the industry of the Australian people. From the huge profits that they made during the depression period the banks have constructed palatial buildings in the various cities in Australia. The great hardships that the people of this country suffered at that time could have been avoided had the government of the day adopted a sound and wise financial policy. I am convinced that so long as Labour remains in office such a state of affairs will not recur.
As has already been mentioned, provision has been made for an extensive programme of public works, involving an expenditure of over £750,000,000. I stress that this is not merely a political venture. It will be profitable and beneficial to the people of this country. All of the projects envisaged are being subjected to the closest scrutiny by the best of our engineers, and they will have to be ratified and supported by the State governments. Eventually they will assist considerably the development of this country. Never again will there be inflicted upon Australia the conditions that were experienced during the depression period when more than 700,000 of our people were unemployed, at a time when this young country urgently needed development. Whilst prosperous conditions obtain in this country, and business undertakings are earning substantial profits, this Government believes that it should make provision for a rainy day by planning for the continuous and progressive development of Australia. Because of the immigration policy that is being pursued, our population will rise during the next couple of years by more than 250,000 people. Provision is being made for these new Australians to be absorbed in industry, pursuant to the policy initiated some years ago by the late John Curtin, which is being continued by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). I remember that during the regime of the Scullin Government secondary industries did not count for very much in this country. The foundation was then laid for an extension of secondary production, which proved so beneficial to us during World War II. Mr. Scullin planted the orchard from which this country is to-day reaping the harvest. For many years Australia was mainly a primary producing country. However, it was realized by the Australian Labour party some time ago that primary industries alone could never develop Australia fully, and the establishment of secondary industries was then encouraged by this Government. I shall relate briefly the marked progress that has been made in secondary industry in this country. Whilst in 1929 there were only 23,000 factories of all types in Australia, by 1939 the total had risen to 26,941. In 1944-45 the total rose to 28,930, and three years later, in 1947-48, there were 37,375 factories in Australia. In other words, the number of factories in those three years rose by S,445, or 29 per cent. Statistics show that more and more of our workers are being employed in factories. In 1938-39, 565,106 men and women worked in Australian factories. By 1944-45 the total had risen to 750,579 employees, and in 1947-48 it rose to S4S,872 - an increase of nearly 100,000 employees in three years. Let us consider growth in the number of factories in this country. Between September, 1945, and June, 1948, 1,672 entirely new companies established factories in Australia, whilst 732 existing companies expanded their businesses. Although a recital of these facts may not be particularly interesting to honorable senators at this time, I think that it is important that the facts should be placed on record. Of the 1,672 entirely new companies, 107 were overseas companies, including 59 British and 42 American. Between June and December, 1948, 556 , entirely new factories were established in Australia, whilst 129 companies expanded their activities. Between September, 1945, and December, 1948, 2,228 entirely new companies established factories here, whilst 861 existing companies expanded their fields of production. It has been estimated that there are in Australia to-day about 250 American companies which have established, acquired interests in, or otherwise developed Australian manufactures. Although the total nominal capital of these American interests I” at least £50.000,000 it is impossible to compute the tota.1 amount of new capital that has been invested in Australian industries since the war. It will be remembered that in September, 1948 the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said that the Commonwealth had rejected large American investments in Australia because large dollar commitments for dividends and royalties would be involved. One of the proposals that was rejected would have involved the investment of 13,000,000 dollars, or more than £4,000,000 at that time, within the ensuing three or four years. Included in the major overseas firms that I have mentioned were 102 British, 35 American, five Canadian and one each of Danish, French, Swiss and Swedish.
Senator O’sullivan referred to shortages of tractors and other machinery required by primary producers. Due in part to the necessity for producing large quantities of foodstuffs for the United Kingdom, the Australian Government has been particularly active in relation to the requirements of primary producers. Of course the difficulties arising from the shortage of dollars prevented the importation of as many tractors as hitherto from the United States of America. However, the British manufacturers have increased their production of this type of machinery for export to Australia. As the result of importations and manufacture in Australia about 11,000 or 12,000 tractors are now made available to primary producers each year. During the past twelve months, however, the primary producers of this country have received between 16,000 and 17,000 tractors. Sinec the war this Government has made an honest endeavour to secure for the primary producers of this country the farming equipment that they need. Furthermore, as the Minister for Health has pointed out, the establishment and development of heavy industries has been encouraged. Although Senator O’sullivan contends that the Government has interfered to a greater degree than necessary with private enterprise, I point out that it is absolutely essential that the Government should do all possible .in relation to obtaining for the people engaged in industry in this country all of the things that they require in order to encourage increased production.
I listened with considerable interest to a very eloquent address by Senator Collings. As he pointed out, if we are to continue to enjoy a high standard of living in this country, the Government must continue to implement its sound financial policy. I say, therefore, to the people of Australia that it is essential that every one should work to the best of his ability if we are to reach the high standard of living that we all desire. T give that advice not only to the workers; managerial staffs and executives, too, must accept their share of responsibility. Much depends upon the efficient organization of industry. I am confident that the people of Australia have a full appreciation of the advantages that are to be gained from Labour’s policy. They know that a continuance of a Labour administration will assure to them a high standard of living.
Senator O’Sullivan mentioned the tobacco and cotton growing industries. The tobacco industry has received considerable encouragement from this Government. To gain the advantage of tariff concessions on imported leaf, tobacco manufacturers have to incorporate a certain percentage of Australiangrown leaf in their product. :However, domestic relations in the industry have not been conducive to smooth working. As Senator Morrow has said, difficulties have arisen between the growers and the manufacturers. At one time, Australian-grown leaf was valued by an appraisement committee, but that system was unsatisfactory to the growers who thought that they could secure a better .return by selling their product at auction. The auction system was adopted, but it was not long before the growers claimed that the manufacturers were acting in collusion to keep prices down by refraining from competitive bidding. Those two sections of the industry are still at loggerheads. The Commonwealth has set up a committee to investigate the matter and to endeavour to improve relations between the grower and the manufacturer. I believe that there are great possibilities for the tobacco-growing industry in Queensland. Cotton-growing, too, I consider, could become an important industry in this country. I appreciate that the Tariff Board has recently reported that it can see no justification for any increased government assistance to the industry, but the Government will have to consider that report and see what action can be taken. I believe that the industry could do much to further its own ends by adopting modern technique and by using irrigation. The firm establishment of the cotton-growing industry in Queensland would be of great assistance to our economy. I have not abandoned hope for the cotton industry although, admittedly, it has had a very serious setback. However, the Government can be held responsible only for having brought about such widespread prosperity in this country that other primary industries have become more attractive to cotton-growers. Many former cotton-growers have now devoted their lands to dairying because of the high prices now ruling for butter and other dairy products. Similarly, there has been a drift from cottongrowing to other more profitable avenues of primary production. The Commonwealth Government’s record of assistance to the farming industry is impressive. At this late hour, I shall not deal with this matter in detail, but as Senator O’sullivan has spoken of socialism, I remind him that consumers in this coun-try are contributing 6d. on every pound of butter to enable Australian dairymen to enjoy a reasonable standard of living. A similar state of affairs exists in the sugar industry. The people of Australia have agreed to pay a certain price for home-consumption sugar to enable the industry to carry on economically. In spite of claims about unnecessary inter- ference with industry, the truth is that in the future, the Australian Government will have to take an even greater interest in our primary industries. The Minister for Health mentioned the Snowy River hydro-electric scheme. That project will cost a substantial sum of money, but it will revolutionize industry in this country. It will lead to the establishment of large towns where to-day there is no habitation of any kind. By providing cheap electricity and an assured water supply, it will transform the life of the man on the land in addition to supplying substantial quantities of power for industry. Does Senator O’sullivan suggest that private enterprise would undertake a scheme of this magnitude? Other projects such as the provision of an irrigation system at Mareeba in Queensland, and the development of the Callide Valley in that State, are essential if this country is to support the larger population that it requires to maintain its economic stability and ensure its safety. Labour’s opponents claim that this Government wants to restrict the liberties of the individual and to regiment the working classes. I cannot believe that Senator O’Sullivan honestly believes that any British community would stand for such measures. The Labour movement has been responsible for much of the freedom that the people of this country enjoy to-day. In fact, the Australian Labour party has done probably more than any other political organization to foster that freedom. I am confident that a very little of Labour’s progressive legislation will be touched by any anti-Labour administration that may hold office in this country in the future. There is widespread recognition amongst all sections of the community of the advantages of a stable economy. Organized marketing schemes in the wool and wheat industries have been of great benefit to producers of those commodities and to the community as a whole. Wild price fluctuations and unemployment do not assist any section of the community. Full employment means ample and well distributed purchasing power, which obviously is most desirable from the point of view of the business community. For that reason I believe that we may look forward to the future with great confidence.
SenatorO’Sullivan. - As far as the 10th of December, anyway.
– We are not worrying very much about the 10th of December. We have every confidence in the people of this country. We have served the people to the best of our ability, and I am confident that our efforts are appreciated. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Ashley) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Apple and Fear Organization Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1949, No. 74.
Australian Capital Territory Representation Act - Regulations- Statutory Rules 1949, No.73.
Commonwealth Disposals Commission - Fifth and Final Report, for period ended31st July, 1949.
Customs Act- Regulations - Statutory Rules 1949, No. 75.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Industrial Property)
Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (2).
National Security (Prices) Regulations -Order- No. 3443.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes - Glenthompson, Victoria.
National Debt Sinking Fund Act- National Debt Commission- Twenty-sixth Annual Report, for year 1948-49.
Re-establishment and Employment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1949, No. 72.
Superannuation Act - Regulations- Statutory Rules1949, No. 71.
Senate adjourned at 11.13 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 October 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1949/19491013_senate_18_205/>.