19th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the mm Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., - and read prayers.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in a position to say whether there is any truth in reports appearing in the press that rice is to be withdrawn from the Australian market? If there is, can the Minister say f ot what reason rice is being withdrawn?
– - Rice is not controlled by the Commonwealth. When I was in charge of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture during the absence of the Minister, I announced that the millers had decided to sell rice freely. Subsequently, there was an extraordinary demand for it by the public, and the demand exceeded the supply. The millers have now decided to revert to the old system and to release rice only in cases of urgent necessity.
– Has the Minister seen a report in to-day’s press to the effect that the president of the Rice Millers Association has stated that there are no stocks of rice left in this country, and that the rice produced in Australia has been absorbed in fulfilling government contracts to supply overseas markets ? Will the Minister take steps to rectify the ridiculous situation that now obtains in Australia in connexion with rice, by establishing an authority to ensure the fair distribution of this commodity for domestic use? It should be possible for the people of this country, especially the aged and sick, to obtain rice that is needed in their diet.
– I have seen the report in this morning’s press to which the honorable senator has referred. Departmental advice is that there are ample supplies of rice in this country for necessitous cases. If any honorable senator knows of a specific instance in which a person who has a doctor’s order for rice has been unable to obtain his requirements, I shall take steps to see that the position is rectified.
– Will the Minister representing the Prime Minister say whether it is the intention of the Govern ment, in order to fulfil its obligations to returned servicemen, to extend the period during ‘ which agricultural loans and advances can be made by five years, from the 2nd September of this year to the 2nd September, 1955, as desired by returned servicemen ?
– It is not customary to deal with matters of Government policy in replies to questions. Just before the Senate met to-day, the honorable senator handed me a letter dealing with the matter that he has raised, which is of great importance. If he will place his question upon the noticepaper, I shall supply him with an answer to it in due course.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for the Army and the Minister for the Navy been directed to a paragraph that appeared in the Canberra Times of the 20th November ? The paragraph, which was headed “ The High Cost of Dying in the Northern Territory”, stated that the Returned .Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia must pay to the Northern Territory Administration a sum of £2 5s. 6d. for the lease of a grave before permission can be granted to it to place headstones over the graves of 100 exservicemen and women who are buried in Darwin Cemetery. If the facts be as suggested, will the Minister request his colleague to consider the possibility of remitting those charges?
– I doubt whether the matter raised by the honorable senator is the responsibility of the Department of the Army or the Department of the Navy. If she places her question upon the notice-paper, I shall ensure that it .is referred to the appropriate Minister.
– On the 9th November, Senator Sandford asked the following question: -
Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral inform the Senate whether it is the intention of the Government to erect experimental television stations in Australia, and, if so, the progress that has been made in this connexion? If the Government does not intend to erect such experimental .stations, will he state the reason ?
The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answer : -
As already announced, the Government is proceeding with the establishment of a television station at Sydney. Tenders, closing on the 21st November, have been invited for the supply of technical equipment. The selection of a suitable transmitting site is well advanced, and all other arrangements necessary are in bund. In the light of experience with the Sydney station, it is the intention of the Government to consider the extension of the service to other centres of the Commonwealth.
– In view of the present serious industrial unrest, which is causing grave dislocation of industry and much hardship to the people of this country, will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the Senate what the Government is doing to redeem its promise to the people to restore peace in industry ?
– The Government views with grave alarm and concern the industrial lawlessness which breaks out from time to time. It is considered that the Government would have been in a much better position to deal with these situations had it not been frustrated by the Opposition, which delayed the passage of the anti-Communist legislation.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development by pointing out that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has conducted experiments in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture in “Western Australia to establish whether the Ord River area is suitable for intense agriculture. Will the Minister furnish the Senate with a full report of the results of those experiments, so that honorable senators may be aware of the possibility of developing that area?
– I have already supplied the honorable senator with a report of the activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organization in Western Australia, and I shall convey his present request to the Minister for National Development.
– On the 1st and 2nd November, Senator Katz asked questions about the availability of free medicine to pensioners. I have been informed by the Minister for Health that pharmaceutical benefits, consisting of life-saving and essential drugs and medicines, aTe already ‘ available to pensioners. It is proposed to provide additional medicines to pensioners and their dependants as soon as all the negotiations regarding supply, payment, and other administrative arrangements are completed.
– On the 9th November, Senator Wright asked a question concerning the co-operation of the Premier of Tasmania in the Commonwealth scheme for the distribution of free milk to school children. The Minister for Health has now furnished the following reply: -
The Commonwealth’s offer to provide free milk to school children is still open. It is hoped that problems associated with the supply and distribution will eventually be overcome and that the Commonwealth’s offer will be availed of by the State of Tasmania.
– Is it a fact, as lias been stated in the press, that the Hobart Milk Board has such a surplus of milk at present, and will have a heavy surplus during the whole of the present season, that the board does not know how to deal with it? If that is so, has any arrangement been made between the Australian Government and the Government of Tasmania for the free distribution of milk to school children as provided for in this Government’s health scheme? Is it a fact, as has been stated by the Premier of Tasmania, that this Government is not prepared to provide free milk for school children in Tasmania until he has entered into- an agreement with the Minister for Health relating to the distribution of milk ?
– I have not seen the press statement relating to the surplus of milk in Hobart to which the honorable senator has referred. I have been informed by the Minister for Health that he has negotiated with the Premiers of all the States, including the Premier of Tasmania, with a view to the implementation of the free milk scheme. As I informed Senator Wright in answer to a question earlier to-day, I understand that the negotiations between the Minister for Health and the Premier of Tasmania have not been finalized. In view of what the honorable senator has said I shall confer with the Minister in order to ascertain the present position.
– On the 9th November, Senator Amour asked the following question: -
Will the Minister representing the PostmasterG’eneral inform the Senate whether he has received a petition from telephone subscribers at Black Mountain, in New South Wales, asking for the provision of a continuous telephone service for subscribers attached to the manual exchange? If it is not possible to provide the service sought, will steps be taken to establish a rural automatic telephone exchange at Black Mountain?
The Postmaster-General ha9 now furnished the following information: -
The matter of introducing a continuous service at the Black Mountain telephone exchange was represented to the PostmasterGeneral on behalf of the telephone subscribers in March, 1950, but unfortunately the nollofficial postmaster was not in. a position to provide the additional assistance necessary to enable a full day and night service to be brought into operation, following on the resignation recently of the postmaster the exchange has been removed to other premises and the new postmaster hae stated that he will provide continuous telephone attendance early in 1951. The honorable senator may rest assured that the matter will .be followed up by the department with the object of ensuring that the service will be made available at the earliest practicable date.
– It has been announced that, because of other commitments, the battleship Vanguard will not be available to convey Their Majesties, the King and Queen, to Australia and New Zealand in 1952, and that they will travel instead in the liner Corinthia. Because of the importance of the visit, and the desirability of having units of the Royal Navy and naval units from other countries visit this country on the occasion of the royal visit, can the
Minister representing the Prime Minister say whether invitations will be issued to the governments of Canada, New Zealand, India, and the United States of America to be represented by naval units on that occasion?
– I appreciate the importance of the matter raised by the honorable senator, and I shall ~» happy to refer it to the Prime Minister.
– Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister seen a report that warm clothing had to be flown urgently to the Korean front for Australian troops? Are Australian soldiers on the Korean front still wearing their slouch hats in temperatures below freezing point? Is the Minister prepared to state that Australian troops in Korea have all the equipment necessary to enable them to meet the enemy with every possible advantage? If it is found upon inquiry that there is any evidence of faulty planning by Australian authorities, will the Government take severe disciplinary action against those responsible?
– Apparently the honorable senator and I do not read the same newspapers. I did not see the report to which he has referred, but in to-day’s press I read a report that, some considerable time ago, the Minister for the Army had had the foresight to ascertain on what terrain and under what climatic conditions Australian troops would have to fight in Korea, with the result that our soldiers have now been provided with American <: anti-freeze “ equipment of the most modern and efficient type. This equipment has been tested under the most severe weather conditions, and is regarded as the best procurable. The issue available to Australian soldiers is on a par with that provided for the Americans.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Army say whether there is any truth in. the newspaper report of Sunday last that grave dissatisfaction exists among recruits enlisted for service in Korea and now stationed at various camps throughout Australia, particularly Puckapunyal, in Victoria? The men claim that they are being used as “ slushies “. If that report is correct, what doe9 the Government propose to do to restore harmony among the troops?
– I suggest that this is the old, old story. Young men who enlist for military service overseas are among the best types in the community. They are often apt to resent their enforced stay in this country while they undergo the necessary training. The complaints to which the honorable senator has referred are probably similar to those that have always been made by soldiers in similar circumstances.
– I remind the Minister that those who are most discontented are veteran ex-servicemen who complain that they should not be called upon to do “ slushies “ work.
– I do not think that that is a fair analysis of the position. The troops who enlist for service go into training camps, and take their proper turn in going overseas. I do not think that criticism is made any more by veterans-
– Not criticism, but complaints.
– I do not think that complaints come more from those who have previously served in the forces than from those who have not.
– Oan I take it that prior to making inquiries the Minister for the Army was as ignorant of conditions there as the Minister for Trade and Customs was in regard to inflationary tendencies prior to ray asking a question on that subject this afternoon?
Question not answered.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : -
Army - Sisters and nurses of the Army Medical Services are not required to work longer hours than the men and receive the same time off for recreational purposes. However, on rare occasions, such as during an outbreak of infectious diseases, it has been necessary for sisters and nurses to work longer hours than normally. It is of course, characteristic of Army life generally, that during periods of emergency, personnel are called upon for greater efforts, and the medical services are no exception. There is no unfair discrimination between men and women in the Army Medical Services.
Air. - Nursing sisters are normally required to work five days of eight hours each, but, in common with other personnel, may be required to work additional hours if the necessity arises. Extra duties are normally compensated by additional days or hours off duty, it the extra time worked is of any consequence. Discrimination as between male or females staffs in regard to working hours is contrary to Air Force policy and practice.
– Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister read in to-day’s press a warning by certain economists about inflationary tendencies in this country? A report in the Sydney Morning Herald quotes the economists as saying that if Australia were to continue to admit 200,000 immigrants a year and, at the same time, to permit a continuation of the production of luxuries without control, we would eventually suffer a reduction of our standard of living by at least 10 per cent. I should like to know whether the Government, with a view to curbing inflation, is prepared to revalue our currency, endeavour to re-introduce Commonwealth prices control by means of a referendum, control profits, and endeavour to prevent capital from going into the production of luxuries whilst essential commodities are in short supply? Alternatively, does the Government propose to let out economy drift as it is doing now until things find their own level and the position becomes even worse than the economists to whom I have referred predict?
– The answeris “ No “.
– Can the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport give to the Senate any information about the present stoppage of work on the Sydney waterfront? Has any action been taken by the Attorney-General to bring about an early settlement of this dispute?
– I am sorry to have to report that, following the hold-up at Newcastle, there has been a serious stoppage in Sydney yesterday and to-day, and in Melbourne to-day. The strikers are defying the law and disobeying an order of the tribunal set up by the Chifley Government to deal with this industry. I am afraid that the intervention by Dr. Evatt on behalf of the waterside workers has given them false hopes and new courage.
– Is it not a fact that the waterfront dispute in Sydney has resulted from a breach of a practice, which has been in operation for twelve months or more, under which waterfront employees working night shifts from 5 to 11 p.m., who are forced to cease work on account of rain, have been paid for the full period of six hours? Is it not a fact that the strike has resulted from the decision of the stevedoring company concerned to reduce payment in such circumstances to a minimum of four hours pay? Will the Minister obtain a report on this matter from the Australian Shipping Board so that the true position may be understood by all honorable senators?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable senator’s question is “No”. It ill becomes a responsible Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament to make excuses for those who flout a law made by a tribunal established by a government of which he was a member.
– I merely asked the Minister to obtain a report on the matter as it was apparent from the reply which he gave to Senator Aylett that he did not know the answer to the question. The reply which he has just given to me justifies me in saying that be does not know the position.
– Will the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport inform the Senate in what way waterside workers are flouting the laws of this country at the present time?
– A representative of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board has made a decision under the law, and that decision has been flouted by mob rule.
– Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister in a position to say who was responsible for the choice of the American poem Hiawatha which is to be produced during the Commonwealth Jubilee Celebrations next year, and whether the Government is satisfied that there is no Australian work worthy to use during the celebrations? Is the Government also satisfied that there is no Australian singer competent to sing that role and that the importation of a Red Indian baritone is therefore necessary?
– 1 am not aware of the decisions mentioned by the honorable senator, nor have I seen any report on the subject. If the decisions have been made, I am not aware who made them.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s question: -
All non-British subjects, including ex-enemy nationals,must hold authority to enter the Commonwealth and there is no record of permission having been granted for the admission ofIlse Koch. Non-British nationals must also have their passports vised for Australia, and before vises may be granted full inquiries are made as to whether anything is known to their detriment. Ex-enemy nationals are subjected to a thorough screening by Australian and other British security officers in Germany and it is most unlikely, therefore, thatIlse Koch would slip through the screening. We have advised the Australian authorities in Germany by cablegram of the press report and have instructed them to take every precaution to see that a vise is not granted to her.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Gladstone. - The works will close for approximately one month from midDecember, but the 400 workers affected are not expected to he seeking employment assistance during the period.
Rockhampton. - On 16th December, when the works are expected to close, possibly 1,000 workers will be disem ployed. Of this total, it is expected that about 300 will be unable to secure other employment until the works re-open on the 17th January and will claim unemployment benefit.
Bowen. - From 30th November until early February next, 180 workers will be laid off, but some 50 of those are usually placed in the salt harvest while there are over 200 local vacancies which can be offered to the remainder.
Townsville. - Five hundred have already been stood down and the total may reach 800 before the end of the year. The works are not expected to commence again before April next. Unemployment benefit claims are not expected to exceed 300.
In the last three years, the aim of the Department of Labour and National Service in conjunction with other Commonwealth departments working in collaboration with the State authorities, has been to step up public -works in the affected areas to takeup the seasonal slack, and has also been to endeavour to encourage concerns to establish themselves in the northern part of Queensland so as to provide alternative employment. Public works projects are limited by the incidence of the wet season, which usually coincides with the end of the meat and sugar seasons. It is the use which is made each year of the Commonwealth Employment Service by seasonal workers, coupled with a movement south on the part of some of the workers, that has enabled the number of unemployment benefit recipients to be kept to the low totals mentioned above, and I have no doubt that similar factors will operate this year. An increase in the number of vacancies held by the Commonwealth Employment Service in Queensland should further ameliorate the position this year.
asked the. Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s question: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
Has agreement been reached between the Minister and American representatives to acquire the requirements of Australian wool for America, which will prevent such wool from competing in the open auction sales?
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answer: -
There has not been any commitment to acquire America’s requirements of Australian wool outside auction nor is there any possibility of such an arrangement being made in respect of her normal requirements for military and for civilian needs However, the Government has agreed to discuss with visiting American and United Kingdom wool missions the question of how America may obtain the wool necessary to provide the special emergency reserve of processed wool and wool materials required by the United States Government. The other wool-growing dominions, New Zealand and South Africa will be represented at the conference which opensin Melbourne this week.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This afternoon I shall move the second readings of three bills. The first measure, which is the one now before the Senate, makes provision for a wool deduction in respect of wool sold in Australia, the second makes provision for a wool deduction in respect of wool sold outside Australia, and the third provides for the establishment of administrative machinery to deal with both forms of deduction. The purpose of this bill is to require wool producers to pay to the Commonwealth a percentage of the sale price of wool sold by them after the 28th August, 1950. On that date the first sales were made in Australia in the present wool selling season. The prices realized at those sales were far in excess of the prices obtained by producers for their wool in past seasons. As honorable senators are aware, the prices obtained for wool have continued to increase since that date. The average price that has been obtained for greasy wool sold this season exceeds £150 a bale. The average price obtained for wool sold last season was £80 a bale. This increase in price is all the more remarkable when it is remembered that the prices obtained last season were regarded as a record.
The Government shares with the wool industry the gratification which that industry must feel at the prosperity that has come to it. The Government is concerned, however, with the inflationary effect of the the very high prices being obtained for wool. It feels that some positive and immediate action must be taken to reduce the effect of this increased spending power on the national economy. Therefore, it proposes in this bill that wool producers shall be required to pay to the Commonwealth a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their wool when that wool is sold. It does not propose that any additional tax shall be imposed upon the wool industry. It believes that the present situation can be met adequately by withholding from circulation a pro° portion of the moneys now being obtained from the sale of wool.
The Government proposes that the amounts paid to the Commonwealth by wool producers shall be held by the Commissioner of Taxation for the purpose of paying the income tax which will be assessed on the proceeds of the wool. The bill provides that the proportion of the sale value which the producer is liable to pay to the Commonwealth shall be fixed by the Parliament for each financial year. The proportion of the sale value to be paid to the Commonwealth in the current financial year will be one-fifth. Provision is made in the bill for the proportion fixed for any financial year to continue in force until the proportion payable for the next financial year is fixed. Provision is also made for refunding to producers any amounts overpaid in any year when no proportion is fixed, or when the proportion fixed is lower than that for the previous financial year. The bill does not apply to a producer whose income is exempt from income tax. An example of such a producer is an agricultural college owned and conducted by a State government or by a religious organization. It does not apply in relation to wool produced in the Northern Territory of Australia. Residents of the Northern Territory are exempt from income tax on income derived by them from primary production in the Northern Territory.
A similar bill will be introduced to impose the same liability on producers who, instead of selling their wool in Australia, export it for sale abroad. In such cases, however, the liability will be a proportion of an appraised value instead of a proportion of the sale price. In addition to these two bills, there will be a third bill setting out the machinery and procedure for the collection of amounts which become payable to the Commonwealth. The details of the procedure proposed by the Government will be explained when the machinery bill is introduced. It may, however, be appropriate for me to explain at this stage that the procedure will provide for woolselling brokers and dealers to deduct a proportion of the sale price from the proceeds of wool and to pay the amount of the deduction to the commissioner. The wool producers concerned will receive wool deduction certificates for the amounts deducted and will use those certificates for the purpose of paying income tax in the same manner as employees use group certificates issued to them by their employers. I should like to make it perfectly clear to honorable senators that the Government’s proposals do not impose any additional tax on the wool industry. They merely require payment of an amount when wool is sold, the amount to be applied later in payment of any income tax that may be due in respect of the sale. The proposals will have the effect of withholding from circulation a percentage of the increased spending power resulting from high wool prices this year and will make a contribution to the Government’s overall plan for curbing inflation. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator SPOONER read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
When introducing the Wool Sales Deduction Bill (No. 1) I stated that a further bill would be introduced for the purpose of imposing a liability on producers who export their wool for sale abroad. The bill now before the Senate will impose that liability. The provisions of the bill relate to wool exported by producers, and are the same as those in the bill relating to wool sold in Australia. In this bill, however, the liability of a producer is a proportion of the -appraised value of the wool, instead of a proportion of the sale price. The appraised value will be fixed by the Australian Wool Realization Commission. It is proposed to provide by regulations under the Wool Sales Deduction (Administration) Bill that producers who export their wool may make arrangements with the Commissioner of Taxation to moot their liability when the proceeds of their wool are received instead of at the time the wool is exported. I commend the bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator MCKENNA) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is one of three which are involved in the Government’s wool deduction plan. The plan provides for a wool producer to pay to the Government a percentage of the proceeds of wool sold or exported by him. The amount paid by the producer will be held by the Commissioner of Taxation until income tax is assessed and payable by the producer on the value of the wool sold or exported by him. The amount will then be set off against the income tax payable and any excess will be refunded to the producer. In addition to this bill, is a bill to impose a liability on the producer to pay a proportion of the sale price of Iris wool to the Commonwealth. A further bill imposes a liability on the producer to pay to the Commonwealth a percentage of the appraised value of wool exported by him. The bill before the Senate now contains the machinery and procedure that will be necessary to collect the amounts which producers are required to pay to the Commonwealth.
It is proposed that in any case where wool is sold by producers through a woolselling broker, the broker shall deduct a proportion of the sale price from the proceeds and pay the amount deducted to the commissioner instead of to the producer. In a similar manner, where the producer sells his wool to a dealer and not through a wool-selling broker, the dealer will be required to deduct a percentage from the sale price and pay the amount of the deduction to the commissioner. Amounts which are paid to the commissioner in this manner will be regarded as having been paid to him on behalf of the producer. The bill therefore provides that when such amounts have been paid to the Commissioner by a broker or a dealer, the producer concerned will not be required to make a direct payment to the commissioner in respect of the wool concerned.
When a producer exports wool for sale abroad, he will be required to make a direct payment to the Commissioner of a proportion of the appraised value of the wool. The appraised value of the wool will be fixed by the Australian Wool Realization Commission. Provision will be made in the regulations whereby a producer may make an arrangement with the Commissioner of Taxation to defer payment until he receives the proceeds from the sale of the wool which he has exported.
It is proposed that the liability of producers will commence from the 28th August, 1950, which was the date of the first wool sales in the present woolselling season. A producer who has already sold his wool since the 28th August, 1950, will be required to pay a proportion of the sale price to the Commissioner because no amount will have been deducted from the sale price by the wool-selling broker or the dealer. A producer who has already exported wool for sale abroad since the 28th August, 1950, will, of course, also be required to pay to the Commissioner a proportion of the appraised value of that wool. When a broker or a dealer deducts an amount from the sale price of the wool, he will give the producer a wool deduction certificate for the amount deducted and will send a copy of the certificate to the Commissioner. When a producer pays the amount direct to the Commissioner, he will receive a wool deduction certificate from the Commissioner. When the producer submits his income tax return to the Commissioner, he will forward the wool deduction certificates with the return. The Commissioner will set off the amount of the certificates against the tax payable when he issues the notice of assessment to the producer, and will refund any excess by sending a cheque with the notice of assessment. In other words, the procedure to be followed by producers and by the Taxation Branch in relation to wool deduction certificates will be precisely the same as the procedure which has been followed for many years in relation to group certificates which employees receive for deductions made from their salaries or wages.
It is proposed that the Commissioner shall register every person who buys wool from a producer and every person who sells wool for a producer. In this manner, all wool dealers and wool-selling brokers will be registered. A registered person will make deductions and will be authorized to issue wool deduction certificates. He will not make any deduction when purchasing wool from, or selling wool for, another registered person. The procedure proposed by this bill will, therefore, ensure that, when an amount has been paid to the Commissioner in respect of any wool, no further amount will be deducted from the sale of that wool. Registered persons who make deductions from the sale price of wool will forward the deductions to the Commissioner after the end of each month. At the same time, they will forward to the Commissioner a copy of every wool deduction certificate issued by them during the month.
The Government realizes that, even though wool-growers generally are enjoying an unprecedented wave of prosperity, some cases of hardship will arise. The bill makes provision for those cases. A producer, whose circumstances are such that the withholding of a proportion of his wool cheque would entail hardship, may make an application to the Commissioner. The Commissioner will be empowered, in such cases, to apply the amount of the certificate in payment of any tax then owing by the producer or to estimate the amount of tax which will be payable by the producer in respect of the year in which the wool is sold, and to refund any excess to the producer.
A right of appeal against the Commissioner’s decision is provided. A producer who is dissatisfied may appeal to the Land Valuation Board. To ensure that there will be no delay in dealing with applications in cases of hardship, provision has been made in the bill whereby a producer may have direct access to the Land Valuation Board if the commissioner does not deal with an application within 30 days.
The bill also contains those provisions relating to administration which are to be found in the various acts administered by the Commissioner of Taxation. The principle contained in these proposals is the same as that which has been followed for many years in the case of salary and wage-earners. Some honorable senators may think that the provisional tax which producers are required to pay will place them on a pay-as-you-earn basis. Provisional tax is an amount which is paid in a year of income to make provision for the tax which will be assessed on the income of that year when the year ends and the income is known. As the income of the year is not known at the time the provisional tax is paid, the amount of provisional tax is fixed by reference to the income of the previous year. When there is a steep rise in income, the amount of the provisional tax paid will be too small because it is based on the income of the previous year. The income of wool producers this year will be much greater than their income last year, and the provisional tax paid by them will, therefore, be totally inadequate to pay the tax on this year’s income when that tax is assessed. The proposals of the Government have the merit of providing a sufficient prepayment of income tax and, at the same time, curbing the inflationary effect of the high wool prices.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
In Committee: Consideration resumed from the 16th November (vide page 2540).
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 15th November (vide page 2389), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– When the debate on this measure was adjourned last week, I was dealing with the provision under this bill of £4,000,000 for war service land settlement. I was emphasizing the necessity’ for the Government to provide every facility to enable men who honoured their country by fighting for it to settle on the land. In 1945, the Chifley Government reached an agreement with the States under which the necessary land was to be made available.From information supplied to me by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper), I find that the total acreage submitted by the States so far is 11,015,605 acres. Of that total, the States have withdrawn 1,295,000 acres, and the Commonwealth has rejected 583 acres, leaving a total approved by the Commonwealth for acquisition of approximately 9,000,000 acres. Further areas totalling 116,000 acres are under consideration. So far, land totalling 6,072,000 acres has been settled, and 3,807 ex-servicemen have been placed on the land.
I should like to say a few words about the method of settling ex-servicemen on the land. I agree with Senator Armstrong that there has been considerable delayin the implementation of this scheme. I have ascertained that, in Western Australia, at least, this delay has been caused partly by the provision of the War Service Land Settlement Agreements Act, which necessitates the development of land up to a certain carrying capacity before it can be handed over to exservicemen. Many ex-servicemen who have been allotted farms have not been able to take possession because their properties have not yet reached the necessary stage of development. The premises are at present occupied by caretakers who are looking after them until the new settlers are permitted to move in. That procedure,I believe, is a mistake. The Government could easily put the ex-servicemen on the land immediately and give them an opportunity to look after their properties during the developmental stage. This would require an amendment of section 12 of the War Service Land Settlement Agreements Act to extend from twelve months to, say, eighteen months the period for which a new settler may be paid a living allowance, and during which he is not required to pay rent or interest charges.
The Commonwealth has acquired approximately 2,000,000 acres of land in Western Australia for land settlement. With the exception of New South Wales, Western Australia has provided more land under the war service land settlement scheme than has any other State. That is quite understandable because there are hundreds of thousands of acres of undeveloped land in Western Australia. This land can be cleared cheaply and when developed is equal to much of the land in the eastern States. I believe that the potentialities of the south-western portion of Western Australia are greater than those of any other part of the Commonwealth. The land surrounding the port of Albany, for instance, is practically undeveloped, and could be cleared for £2 or £3 an acre. The rainfall is approximately 24 inches a year, and the land is capable of carrying two or three sheep to the acre when cleared. To-day, many people from the eastern States are settling in Western Australia. They are taking up undeveloped land and establishing farming projects. Private sales of land for this purpose are substantial. The Government’s duty is to do everything possible to speed up the war service land settlement scheme, so that ex-servicemen may benefit from the prosperity that our primary industries are enjoying to-day. The present high prices for primary products would enable the new settlers to pay off their loans very quickly.
I believe that every opportunity should be given to ex-servicemen to buy the properties on which they are established. Under the present agreements settlers are required to pay rent. Development would be far quicker if the lessees had some prospect of ownership. I believe that the owner-settler is a much better farmer than the one who has to pay rent for an indefinite period.
The purchase of large areas of land by the Commonwealth for the land settlement of ex-servicemen has a very serious effect on the revenuesof local governing authorities, which, cannot collect rates on Commonwealth properties. Local governing, authorities have lost very large amounts; of revenue as the result of such purchases. In all instances in which the Commonwealth purchases land for the settlement of ex-servicemen provision should be made for the payment of rates so that local governing bodies may not lose their much needed revenue.
The second purpose of the bill is to provide £25,000,000 for war service homes. The advance for a war service home is now limited to £2,000. Whilst that amount may have been adequate in earlier years, it is far from sufficient to-day to finance the construction of a decent dwelling. I doubt very much whether it would be possible to purchase land anywhere in the Commonwealth and to construct on it a two-bedroomed brick house with a tiled roof for £2,000. The Government is well aware of that fact and will undoubtedly take steps to increase the amount of the advance so that exservicemen may be able to enjoy the comforts of a decent dwelling as they areentitled to do because of the serviceswhich they rendered to the nation duringthe war. I congratulate the Government on the very generous provision it has made in this bill for war service homespurposes. It exceeds by approximately £9,000,000 the provision that was madeby the previous Government. I alsocongratulate the Government on its decision to increase from £3,700,000 to- £4,000,000 the provision for war serviceland settlement.
– I believe that in any agreement for the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land the rental charged constitutes themost important part. Although primaryproducers are now receiving very high prices for their commodities, we are all aware that if the emphasis were on continued world peace rather than on preparation for world war the prices of” primary commodities would seriously decline. A fall in the prices of primary products would have a most serious^ effect on ex-service settlers. Although in some parts of Australia the rainfall this year has exceeded the record which has stood for 90 years, at any time we may experience a very severe drought which would have disastrous effects on exservice settlers. In assessing rentals the Government should consider primarily the ability of the settler to keep his land in production. Provision should be made for complete insurance against serious drought, or heavy falls in the price of primary products, to ensure that the settler shall always receive an income sufficient to maintain himself, his wife and his family at an accepted Australian Standard.
I believe that this Government will follow the policy of the Chifley Government and select with the greatest care the areas which are purchased for the settlement of ex-servicemen. We should profit by the lessons that we learned after World War I. when many ex-servicemen were placed on unsuitable land, from which they could never make a living. In the years after World War I. in some instances ex-servicemen were settled on blocks 75 per cent, of which were covered with rock. In one dairying area near Casino all the ex-servicemen who were settled on one subdivision were in receipt of the dole. We do not want the mistakes of the past to be repeated. The land selected for soldier settlement should be capable of development to a state of productivity which will allow the settlers to earn sufficient to maintain themselves and their families in reasonable comfort. Ex-servicemen who are settled in areas remote from the cities have to endure many hardships. If they wish to send their children to colleges for higher education they have to meet the high boarding fees charged by those institutions. All of these factors should be taken into consideration by the Government in assessing the rental value of properties.
I agree with Senator Scott that the amount of the advance to exservicemen for the purchase of war service homes is insufficient. I know of many ex-servicemen who have been unable to induce a builder to construct a house at anything like the amount of the advance. While the construction of their houses has been delayed the cost of building has increased enormously. The amount of the advance should be increased to meet present-day costs. Many exservicemen have been forced to revise their plans by cutting down the sizes of the rooms in order to reduce the cost to a level approximating the amount of the advance. Any lowering of housing standards is to be deprecated. The tendency should be to increase rather than reduce the size of rooms. For these reasons the Government should seriously consider increasing the advance for the building or purchase of houses.
I also urge the Government to consider the desirability of reducing the interest rate on advances. When war service homes were first instituted the interest rate was fixed at 5 per cent.; later it was reduced to 3$ per cent., to the great advantage of the borrowers concerned. Having regard to present high costs, if the Government is sincerely desirous of assisting ex-servicemen it should reduce interest rates on advances to at least 2 per cent. - if possible, to 1 per cent.
Potential owners of war service homes have the greatest difficulty in inducing builders to submit tenders. Because of better inducements offered in other directions, builders are not now eager to engage in the construction of war service homes. That authority is eager to build houses, but it is not able to obtain the services of the right type of builder. The War Service Homes Division, with the concurrence of the State authorities, should set up in each State its own constructing authorities. The division has architects and other officers who are competent to supervise the erection of buildings. Those officers pay great attention to the protection of the soldier for whom a home is being built, and they endeavour to ensure that the specifications are adhered to. If the division had such authorities in the States, it would also be necessary for it to have available supplies of bricks and timber, but I consider that great progress could be made in the construction of war service homes if that suggestion were adopted.
Under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, 60 per cent, of the houses erected are allocated to exservicemen, but the supervision and the standard of construction of those houses are not as good as for houses constructed by the War Service Homes Division. I have seen many deficiencies in homes erected under that agreement and I have seen their shortcomings. The War Service Homes Division is not a new concern; it has been advancing loans and supervising the construction of buildings for many years. An insurance scheme is available to persons seeking advances to build homes with assistance from the Division. For a small annual premium, insurance cover is given against acts of God, such as damage caused by wind, storms, rain or lightning. A similar comprehensive policy issued by an ordinary insurance company would cost approximately four times the amount paid.
I suggest to the Government that provision should be made to cover the unemployment of an ex-serviceman building a home with assistance from the War Service Homes Division. Under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, if an occupant of a Housing Commission home is unemployed he pays as rent one-fifth of his income, so that at the end of the period of sickness or unemployment he is not in debt in respect of rent. Under the war service homes scheme, if a man is unemployed or sick bis rental is reduced, but the arrears of rent would remain. During the depression, hundreds of soldiers continued to make repayments until they became unemployed, and then lost their homes because they could not make further repayments. At Belmore, in New South Wales, which, at that time, practically consisted of war service homes, I understand that 100 per cent, of the residents lost their homes. I remember when the Milperra soldiers’ settlement was commenced, and I do not think that there is one original soldier settler on the area to-day. I therefore suggest that if there were some scheme by which an ex-serviceman could pay a small premium to cover periods of unemployment or sickness, it would assist the division to achieve its objective to provide homes for ex-servicemen. It is all very well to say that the people to-day can afford to pay rents and rates, but
I remind honorable senators of what happened in 1928. At that time, most people laughed at the suggestion that something might happen in the near future, but in 1930 the smiles came off their faces, and honorable senators will remember what happened in ,1931 and 1932. Although we are enjoying prosperity to-day we do not know what may happen in, say, two years time. There could be a collapse because of a fall in prices for the commodities we produce, or a drought, either of which would have serious consequences for all Australians.
.- Since the end of World War I. I have applied a good deal of my time to a consideration of the housing problems of ex-servicemen of that war, and also of land settlement. This measure contains provision for the expenditure of £25,000,000 on the erection of war service homes under the War Service Homes Act, the purchase and development of sites for houses, and the advancing of money for the purchase of existing properties or the discharge of existing mortgages. In South Australia, as I think honorable senators on both sides of the chamber will agree, for years there has been a housing problem as acute, if not more a,cute, than that of any other State. At the same time, tribute should be paid to the efforts that have been made by the South Australian Government and other governments to overcome that position. However, I have never been able to understand the difficulties that exist between the South Australian Housing Trust on the one hand, and the Commonwealth War Service Homes Division on the other. Owing to the acute shortage of bricks in South Australia, the erection of a number of timber frame homes has been embarked upon. Inquiries have elicited the information that those homes do not measure up to the standards required by the War Service Homes Division. A number of ex-service personnel of the last war, who have been waiting for homes for several years, have been unable to avail themselves of the provisions of the South Australian housing legislation. Those persons have been assured that if they could become eligible for assistance from the War Service Homes Division, they could purchase a timber-framed home constructed by the State authorities. In some respects, I know that those houses do not meet with the standards required under the Commonwealth act, and from a personal viewpoint I could not pay a very high tribute to the workmanship that has been put into them. Consequently, I am not a very severe critic of the action of the Commonwealth Government and of the War Service Homes Division in disapproving of the standards adopted at sites such as St. Mary’s and others adjacent to Edwardstown. The immediate future does not hold bright prospects for those persons who desire to purchase or build homes of their own under the provisions of the South Australian act. The position in South Australia may sound unusual to honorable senators who represent the eastern States of the Commonwealth, and particularly Queensland, where timber houses are so common. Until the present unprecedented demand for homes brought about a shortage of bricks and stone building materials in South Australia it was a comparatively easy matter for requirements to be met. It seems that there is a lack of cooperation between the Commonwealth and the State authorities on housing problems, and I sincerely hope that if an approach is made by the Commonwealth authorities to the State authorities with a view to overcoming those difficulties, it will be made possible for the people I have mentioned to own their own homes and at the same time for the housing shortage to be overcome.
Another matter to which I direct attention is that very often advertisements appear in the South Australian newspapers for homes to be erected under the Commonwealth War Service Homes Act, and in some instances the erection of one home is specified in each of a number of widely dispersed suburbs of Adelaide. Apparently the War Service Homes Division has not emulated the policy of the South Australian Housing Trust to erect groups of homes in a certain area and to open up new suburbs. It can easily be understood that where a group of houses is to be built, it is much easier for contracts to be carried out.
During the last two years, I have been approached by many ex-servicemen who desire to build homes under the provisions of the South Australian housing legislation but who are prevented from doing so because of financial inability to meet even the modest deposit required. That is another matter which the Government should consider.
I ask the Government to give consideration to the position of ex-servicemen of World War I. who have occupied war service homes for 20 or 30 years. Many of them have not had the best of luck, and the effect upon them of war injuries, domestic troubles, unemployment and other adversities has been more pronounced than upon other persons. They have reached the retiring age, and those of them who were manual workers have been unable to engage in active work for many years. With their pensions and other social services benefits that, quite rightly, they have received from the community, they have struggled to meet their commitments, but many of them, owing to the disabilities from which they are suffering, will never own their houses, although they have been in occupation of them for many years. It would not cause great hardship to the Commonwealth if the principal and interest owing upon those houses were written off. I hope that a satisfactory compromise will soon be reached by the South Australian authorities and the Commonwealth authorities in connexion with timber-framed houses and that it will have the effect of relieving the housing difficulties from which many ex-servicemen are now suffering.
The position in connexion with the war service land settlement scheme is not satisfactory in South Australia. I admit that the South Australian Government has applied itself to the problem of devising methods of acquiring land that will enable ex-servicemen to be settled upon the land satisfactorily and achieve the result that we all desire, but we must not lose sight of the fact that the general principles of the scheme were agreed upon at a conference of State Premiers and representatives of the Commonwealth held some years ago. It was decided then that the Commonwealth should make money available for the purposes of the land settlement of ex-servicemen, contingent upon the State Governments satisfying themselves, as far as it was possible to do so, that the settlers would make a success of the blocks allotted to them. We all know that there are factors other than climatic conditions which can make or mar projects of that kind. I am disappointed that the single property unit has not been used to a far greater degree. I am disappointed also at the apparent slowness of State governments to allot blocks to ex-servicemen. We all agree that the tragic experiences of many exservicemen who were settled on the land after World War I must not be allowed to recur, but time is passing and men who applied for blocks four or five years ago are beginning to abandon hope of obtaining them.
The South Australian Parliament established an all-party committee to examine properties that could be acquired and allotted to ex-servicemen. The committee has, if I may put it in this way, weathered the storm for four or five years. It has examined many properties in South Australia. A number of its recommendations have received the approbation of the South Australian Government, and the properties concerned have been acquired. It cannot be denied that as soon as a State government decides that a property is suitable for the settlement of ex-servicemen, financial assistance is provided by the Commonwealth to enable the property to be purchased. The members of the committee are men whose knowledge of land in South Australia is well above the average, but sometimes they have disagreed as to the purchase price of a property or as to its suitability for the settlement of an ex-serviceman upon it. These differences of opinion have been the cause of protracted delays. Having met ex-servicemen in the streets and in ex-servicemen’s clubs, I know that many of them who have been waiting for blocks for a considerable time are becoming discontented and irritated at the delays that have occurred. In some instances, men have almost abandoned hope of securing blocks. That is a pity. I appreciate their desire to be established upon holdings as quickly as possible and before they become too old. One of them said to me, “ I want a block, but I am afraid that, although I have the approval of every authority that I have been called upon to face, the only one that I shall get will be a 6-ft. by 2-ft. block “.
I ask the Government to consider whether anything can be done to avoid the apparently undue delays that occur when a property is offered to a State Government. I believe that a State government is, owing to its knowledge of local conditions, better able to decide the suitability of a property than are authorities in Canberra. From the inception of the scheme, it has been agreed unanimously that the ‘Commonwealth shall provide the finance and that the States shall be responsible for the acquisition of land. That is an admirable principle. But delays are dangerous, and during the next twelve months an attempt should be made to expedite the making of decisions regarding the acquisition of properties and the settlement of ex-servicemen upon blocks that have been approved, by the States. I believe that the difficulties could be overcome with a little co-operation. If properties offered were either purchased or rejected by State governments, and if those that were purchased were allotted to ex-servicemen as soon as possible, much of the discontent that now exists amongst applicants for blocks would be removed. Applicants who were not allotted blocks would soon come to the conclusion that they would be well advised to abandon hope and to look for something else.
It has been my lot, and I suppose the lot of other honorable senators also, to listen to appeals by ex-servicemen who for years have been trying to purchase houses under the provisions of the war service homes scheme. Of course, there are many ways in which those men could overcome their difficulties, if only they knew how to approach the matter. _ But, human nature being what it is, many men desire to. live only in a certain locality. I do not suppose that many of ns, if we were in the same position as they are in, would care very much what kind of house we got as long as we had a roof over our heads and a home to call our own. With regard to land settlement, the war has been over for a considerable time. The policy of the Commonwealth and the
States in relation to the method of purchasing blocks and financing the scheme was agreed upon years ago. In those circumstances, I cannot see any reason why the apparently undue delays in settling men on the land should continue.
– Senator Critchley’s remarks were accurate in every respect. He gave a true picture of the position in South Australia. I am especially interested in the provisions of the bill relating to war service land settlement. The legislatures of this country realized that Australia owed a debt to its ex-servicemen and felt that there was no more desirable way of helping them than by settling them on the land. Senator ‘Critchley referred to the mistakes that were made after World War I. in this matter, and we are all agreed that similar mistakes must not be made now. We know that, after World War I., men were allotted blocks in. semiarid areas in all States of the Commonwealth, particularly in South Australia, and that, consequently, much misery was caused and vast sums of money wasted.
– They had concrete sties for the pigs and hessian buildi rigs for the settlers.
– Shocking mistakes were made after World War I. The present policy of the Commonwealth and the States in connexion with the land settlement of ex-servicemen is to make haste slowly. The objective is to acquire blocks in areas with a good rainfall. In South Australia, we have concentrated upon those parts of the State where there is an adequate rainfall and land can be developed satisfactorily. Blocks are being acquired in the south-east part of South Australia, which enjoys a good rainfall and contains large areas of comparatively undeveloped country, in Kangaroo Island, a part of the State with a good rainfall that is capable of great development, and in certain areas of the lower part of the Eyre Peninsula. As Senator Critchley has stated, the land settlement committee that was established in South Australia has been operating very satisfactorily for a number of years. I agree with the honorable senator that more exservicemen should have been settled on the land in that State, and that the process of land settlement has been too slow. Unfortunately, the single unit system has not been developed to any appreciable degree in South Australia, and in the main the land settlement of ex-servicemen has been confined to group settlements. Speaking for South Australia - I am not familiar with the conditions in Western Australia and Tasmania - I am convinced that ultimately the plan now being followed will be completely successful. By the use of tractors and land-clearing implements, vast areas of almost virgin country have been brought under cultivation in a very efficient manner, and by the concentration of man-power the capital cost of development of that land has been minimized. It must be remembered that the success or failure of such ventures may well depend on the capital cost of the development of the land. The land settlement committee to which I have already referred has directed its efforts to prevention of a repetition of the mistakes that were made in connexion with the settlement of ex-servicemen after World War I.
The War Service Homes scheme is operating satisfactorily in South Australia, but as I do not know a great deal about it I shall refrain from commenting on the provisions of this measure in that connexion. It is indeed pleasing that £25,000,000 is to be provided for the financing of individual and group housing projects. Contractors have claimed from time to time that there has been undue competition for materials between the South Australian Housing Trust and the War Service Homes Division. It has been denied emphatically by the present Premier of South Australia, Mr. Playford, that the completion of war service homes had been delayed because the South Australian Housing Trust had “ cornered “ building materials and fittings in short supply. I am sure that all honorable senators desire that our ex-servicemen should be housed satisfactorily, and it is to be hoped that the Government’s plan to provide 15,000 homes for ex-servicemen in the current financial year will be achieved. Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber are equally concerned that every assistance should be given to ex-servicemen who desire to engage in primary production. I wholeheartedly support the bill, and I trust that it will have a speedy passage.
– The measure before the chamber seeks to provide £25,000,000 for the construction of war service homes, and £4,000,000 for the land settlement of ex-servicemen. The land settlement scheme for ex-servicemen following World War I. was attended by many bitter experiences. Indeed many members of this Parliament and people outside of it have vivid recollections of hardships that were suffered in those days, because the Government of the day failed to honour its responsibilities by giving ex-servicemen a fair opportunity to develop the land that was made available to them. Unfortunately men from the services who had had no farming experience were selected to administer the scheme. It was not necessary for applicants for land to prove that they had had previous experience of wheat or dairy farming, and in many instances the successful applicants literally went out in the wilderness of Western Australia. Large areas were surveyed by the Western Australian Government, and the successful applicants were merely provided with a plan. They even had to find their own pegs in maiden bushland. They took their wives and families with them in spring carts, and lived in tents during their first twelve months of hard slogging. During that period they were paid sustenance by the Government, and their food consisted principally of what was termed tinned dog and damper.
When the present scheme of land settlement of ex-servicemen of World War II. was planned, the Curtin Administration took care to avoid the errors of the former scheme. (Subsequently, during the Chifley regime, applicants for land under this scheme were required to prove that they had lived on the land previously, and that they had a knowledge of farming methods. In addition, inspectors interviewed the wives of married applicants to ascertain whether they were agreeable to live on the land. It is axiomatic that if the wives and children of ex-servicemen who desired to settle on the land were not in favour of that course, the venture would be doomed to failure. The attitude of the womenfolk in this connexion was an important consideration. About twothirds of the total number of exservicemen who took up blocks in Western Australia after World War I. subsequently walked off their properties. I understand that, in Victoria, about 8,000 exservicemen of World War I. “gave up the ghost “, and thousands of exservicemen settlers in South Australia and New South Wales relinquished their farming properties.
Although I agree with other honorable senators that the land settlement of exservicemen of World War II. has been too slow, I point OUt that the present scheme is vastly different from the scheme that operated after World War I. I know that in Western Australia the land must be cleared and fenced, and provision made for a home and amenities for the womenfolk, before intending settlers are allowed to take up their blocks. Because of shortages of labour and material it has not been possible to settle many applicants on the land as promptly as might have been desirable. Many applicants have sought my assistance to reduce the delay of from twelve to eighteen months # in obtaining properties. Subsequently, when the land had reached the production stage, they have told me that the delay had been justified. Ex-servicemen settlers are paid a sustenance allowance until their farms are in production. I understand that the rent that is payable by ex-servicemen settlers is based on the productive capacity of the land, the number in the family, and the number of his employees. Under the present scheme ex-servicemen are not sent to remote areas where the rainfall is poor and unreliable. As Senator Scott has pointed Out, there are many large areas available in Western Australia but many of them are unsuitable for settlement under this scheme. On the other hand, during the last few years, large properties have been sub-divided into as many as ten farms. The ex-servicemen are going on to firstclass properties, and it will not be long before they are producing. We know that after the 1914-18 war many exservicemen who settled on the land failed to make a success of the venture, but to-day it is almost impossible for an exserviceman, who gets a farm, to fail. For the most part, the men chosen to go on the land are already experienced. Others attend a school where they are taught the principles of farming. The Curtin Labour Government, which drew up the land settlement scheme, was able to profit from the mistakes made after the first world war.
In “Western Australia delays occurred in the selection of land for the settlement of ex-servicemen, because the State government would not co-operate with the land settlement authorities. It wanted the board to take over areas of secondclass land, but the board’s inspectors refused to accept them, knowing that it would be useless to place ex-servicemen on such land. Of course, another reason for delaying in settling ex-servicemen has been the shortage of labour. In Western Australia, ex-servicemen who apply f°r land draw lots when blocks become available. So far, there have been always many more applicants than blocks, and it will be a considerable time before all the applicants are placed.
Because of the high cost of building, the maximum advance for a war service home should be increased from £2,000 to £2,500. In Western Australia, exservicemen, who are waiting for war service homes, have had a raw deal. The Minister in charge of war service homes in the Labour Government, Mr. Lemmon, did everything possible to -expedite construction, but delays are still occurring in various sections of the department. For instance, the regulations provide that work on war service homes must be inspected at intervals during the course of construction, and the inspectors must pass one section before the contractor can proceed with the next. Delays occur when the contractor has to wait for the inspector to pass the work. Some time ago, I was shown a cottage upon which the builder was kept waiting for five days until the inspector came to pass a simple flushing job that had been done on the porch. Building contractors in Perth are reluctant to tender for war service homes, preferring to work for private architects. Builders cannot -afford to have tradesmen standing idle for days at a time waiting for departmental inspectors to come along. When builder3 do tender for war service homes they generally add up to £100 to the price to cover the extra cost arising from such delays.
I approve of the Government’s proposal to provide £25,000,000 for the construction of war service homes, and hope that the amount will be increased. I also approve of the proposal to make available to the States £4,000,000 for the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land. All of us, irrespective of party affiliations, are eager to see the land opened up, particularly in good rainfall areas. Members of the Government frequently emphasize the need for greater production, and the best way to increase production is to put more people on the land. It is important, however, that amenities should be provided for the farmers and their families, who should be no worse off in that respect than those who live in the cities. Schools should be built, particularly high schools in central areas. Already, in Western Australia, private contractors run buses at so much a mile to collect children from the farms, and carry them to a central school. This service should be extended, until children in the country are provided with educational facilities quite as good as those available in the cities. It should be our aim to make electric power available in every farm house. The absence of this and other facilities makes for discontent amongst housewives on the land. I support the bill.
– The purpose of this bill is to provide £25,000,000 for the construction of war service homes, and £4,000,000 to assist the States in the settlement of exservicemen on the land. Senator Hannaford said that it was the Government’s policy to make haste slowly. If any criticism can be levelled at the administration it is in regard to the delay that has occurred in settling ex-servicemen on the land, and in providing war service homes. Naturally, those ex-servicemen who have been accepted for settlement on the land wish to get on to their farms as quickly as possible so as to take advantage of present prices. I am aware of the difficulties the Government has experienced, but ex-servicemen are continually complaining that their requirements have not been met.
For some time past, I have interested myself in a proposal that the Ravenswood rifle range, of about 200 acres in area, situated within the municipality of Launceston, should be taken over from the Department of the Interior, and cut up for building sites. I have not been able to obtain any satisfaction from the authorities in Tasmania. I conferred with the Deputy Director of War Service Homes on the subject, but he has, unfortunately, since died. That land could be obtained by having it transferred from the Department of the Army to the Department of the Interior and then to the War Service Homes Division. Its disadvantages are that parts of it are stony, and the cost of drainage and road construction would be higher than corresponding costs on alternative areas. However, it is within a 2d. bus ride of the centre of the city, whereas some of the areas on which houses are now being erected are on the outskirts of the city, are lowlying, and are otherwise unattractive for building purposes. The saving to ex-servicemen in bus fares would more than offset higher rates and drainage and road construction costs at the Ravenswood rifle range. There is sufficient land for about 400 houses. The most suitable part of it for home building has a westerly aspect, and the locality would be most healthful for children of ex-servicemen. I urge the Minister who is in charge of war service homes to investigate this proposition thoroughly because the opportunity will not occur again. As soon as the Ravenswood rifle range area has been thrown open for housing, the “ land sharks “ will move in. There are housing settlements on both sides of it, and homeowners seem to be most satisfied with the locality although costs of drainage and roads are a little higher than elsewhere. It is the only vacant area of any size inside the City of Launceston and it is available for the asking. The arguments that have been put to me against the use of this area for war service homes are not strong enough to warrant its being overlooked.
Another criticism that is levelled at the Division of War Service Homes, particularly in the northern areas of Tasmania is that there is undue delay between the receipt of an application from an ex-serviceman for assistance to purchase a home, and the final approval or rejection of the application. This criticism is not new. It has been made over a number of years. Cases in which I have interested myself have led me to believe that the department is not aware of the need for quick action. There is a great shortage of houses everywhere, and when a house is put up for sale, the deal must be clinched quickly. In many instances, vendors are not prepared to wait until an application to the Division of War Service Homes has gone through the tortuous official channels. First, the valuer in Launceston may not have time to make an immediate inspection of the property. However, having made the inspection he may require information about the title of the land. By the time he gets that information and is prepared to deal finally with the application, the vendor may have found some one else who is willing to buy his house. Such delay is often the cause of great disappointment to ex-servicemen and there should be a thorough investigation to ascertain whether the procedure can be speeded up.
Recently, a young man who had been occupying a war service home was transferred to the northern part of Tasmania. He sold his home in the approved manner, and set about buying. a new place in Launceston. He was given an option over a house for one month. Two days prior to the expiry of the option, he learned that he could not obtain a loan. Departmental officials informed him that because of some misunderstanding between the Commonwealth and the States, sufficient funds were not available to enable the department to make the necessary loan. I understand that the trouble arose over the delay in the meeting of the Common.monwealth Parliament to pass the necessary supply measure. The young man came to me and asked whether I could help him. I communicated with the war service homes authorities in Hobart and they promised to do their best. I told the ex-serviceman that the only thing for him to do was to go to the Commonwealth Bank, or, failing that, his local savings bank branch. Within 48 hours, each of those banks had offered to finance the purchase of the home, yet the war service homes authorities had had the matter in their hands for a month and apparently had done nothing about it. Surely if a bank can have premises valued within 48 hours, the Division of War Service Homes should be able to provide a similar service. The officials of the division are efficient men, but there is lethargy somewhere, particularly when there is a need to have something done quickly. Apparently nothing can be done that is out of the normal routine. The desire of the Division of War Service Homes to prevent the exploitation of ex-servicemen is commendable and in that field the department has done a splendid job. By keen buying, it has been able to secure good value for its clients, but that is no excuse for the long delay in providing finance for the purchase of individ.ua! homes.
In Tasmania, the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement under which at least 50 per cent, of the homes erected must be for ex-servicemen, is implemented through the Agricultural Bank. The first year of a tenant’s occupancy of a home is regarded as a probationary -period. Then, if the tenant is regarded as suitable, the rent for the first year is regarded as a deposit and he becomes the purchaser. Comparing the costs of the Agricultural Bank’s scheme and that administered by the Division of War Service Homes, it is clear that the bank has done a splendid job. It has established its own house construction section. Considerable difficulty was experienced in the early stages in obtaining contractors. The contractors in turn complained about the slowness of finance, but now the bank has its own buying staff which operates throughout the Commonwealth. These people purchase building materials on the best markets and keep the bank’s building section well supplied. The cost of homes erected by the Agricultural Bank are quite reasonable and compare more than favorably with the cost of war service homes. Under the war service homes scheme purchasers are required to provide a deposit of 10 per cent., part or all of which may be the land, but purchasers of homes financed by the Agricultural Bank under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, are not required to provide any deposit at all. As I have said, their first year’s rent is accepted as a deposit. Many tenants, of course, also enjoy the benefits of the rental rebate scheme so that their rental during the probationary period of one year is even less than it would be normally. That gives an ex-serviceman who is buying a home under the Agricultural Bank’s scheme an advantage over the purchaser of a war service home.
Those points are sources of irritation to ex-servicemen in Tasmania who have placed their faith in the ability of the Division of War Service Homes to provide them with houses as soon as possible. I trust that an examination will be made of the delay to which I have referred in an endeavour to have the procedure accelerated, and thus to assist genuine home-seekers, who are mostly young people trying to build their lives around that most important of all factors in home life, the home itself. The Division of War Service Homes and the Government itself would be held in much higher esteem by the community if those irritations were eliminated.
I come now to the war service land settlement scheme, and here some of the things that I have already said about war service homes apply with equal force. Many young ex-servicemen who have had previous experience on the land or who wish to take up farming as a career are being frustrated by the delay in obtaining blocks under the war service land settlement scheme. Many of them feel that they will never get farms, and the figures available to them showing the progress of the scheme provide some ground for that belief. Clearly it will be many years before all the present applicants are able to take up farming. Various organizations of ex-servicemen have sought to have applications made up to 1945 separated from those of ex-servicemen serving with the occupation forces in Japan and in the new theatres of war. That appears to be a reasonable claim. I hope that the war service land settlement scheme will be extended to embrace more land.
During the last four or live years valuers for the war service land settlement authorities have been too conservative, and as a result ex-servicemen have been denied opportunities to obtain good properties. In 1946 and 1947 the valuers rejected many single-unit farms which were subsequently snapped up by other buyers and have since been paid off out of the proceeds of the high returns received for primary commodities. Apparently the valuers placed too conservative a value on the properties because they were afraid of making mistakes. I have always believed that a person who never makes a mistake never makes anything. If they had taken the longer view, particularly in the light of the rising scale of prices, it would have been possible to settle many more exservicemen on suitable blocks which they would have paid off by now as the result of the high prices which they would have received for their products. Prices now appear to have reached their peak and ex-servicemen who have waited for years to be settled on the land are being allotted properties the values of which are also at their highest peak. If the prices of. primary products should fall, they will be in serious difficulties. Whether the valuers should have been able to foresee the future or should have taken a risk in the interests of the exservicemen is, however, a matter of opinion. At present sheep prices are so high that it is dangerous for ex-service settlers to stock their properties. According to press reports two-tooth and four-tooth sheep are now being sold on the market for up to £8 or £9 each. When values return to normal I shudder to think what may happen to many ex-service settlers who have stocked their properties at such high prices. Whether or not values will return to former levels is, however, a matter of conjecture. It is a great pity that, after having waited for years for the allotment of properties, ex-servicemen have virtually to place a millstone around their necks for the rest of their lives in order to stock their properties. That is one of the worst features of the existing high stock prices.
A survey should be made of many areas in the midlands of Tasmania which are suitable for war service land settlement but which are held by large land-holders who have forgotten the debt of gratitude which they owe to ex-servicemen. I have reminded many of them that if the Japanese had invaded this country they would not have retained their properties. When the war ended they quickly forgot the splendid work that had been done on the battlefields by our servicemen, and they have now indicated that they will take legal action to prevent the Commonwealth from acquiring the undeveloped portions of their properties for the settlement of ex-servicemen at 1942 prices. In many instances the exists ing holdings are far too large for one man to work and, because of the shortage of labour, much good land is undeveloped. Notwithstanding the call throughout the Commonwealth for increased primary production, many landholders retain, in an undeveloped state, large areas of land which should be thrown open for settlement by exservicemen. The ex-servicemen’s organizations, in conjunction with the war service land settlement authorities and the State governments, should establish a tribunal to investigate such areas in order to ascertain whether or not they are being wasted. If the tribunal finds that land suitable for war service land settlement is being neglected it should be compulsorily acquired so that the placing of ex*servicemen on suitable properties may be accelerated. Many ex-servicemen who have been classified as suitable for the allotment of settlement blocks feel that at the present rate of development of war service land settlement areas they will never be placed on blocks. They should be given some idea how long they will have to wait before they may expect to be allotted properties. Those who have had experience on the land know that they must be patient with the vagaries of nature. If they suffer from a drought or a plague of grasshoppers in one year they look forward to the following year to extricate them from their difficulties. A farmer must always be philosophical, but as far as possible he likes to know where he stands. It would be much fairer if ex-servicemen awaiting settlement were given an idea of how long they will have to wait for the allocation of blocks. Many of those who for years have been waiting for properties have taken jobs of various kinds in the cities and towns as a temporary expedient. Their hearts are in the land and they carry on from year to year in mediocre jobs hoping that they will eventually be allotted a block. Unless settlement is speeded up, whether or not they will ever obtain properties is in the lap of the gods. If they were given an estimate of how long they would have to wait they could revise their plans accordingly. Many of them are completely unsettled because of the hope, once- high but now apparently vain, that they would be able to devote the whole of their energies and talents to the farming of their own properties. Their aspirations revolve around the land which is the foundation of our economy and the rock upon which our society is built and they should be given the greatest consideration.
I direct attention to the splendid possibilities for the institution of a war service land settlement scheme in New Guinea. The land which is available there for that purpose has to be seen to be believed. New Guinea offers great scope for the settlement of ex-servicemen from all parts of Australia. While I was in the Territory during the last parliamentary recess I saw rubber being grown at Koitaki on a small plantation that had been carved out of a rain forest. It seemed to me to need only an average amount of care and attention and to lend itself to extension. The surrounding areas are still in their natural state. I am certain that if sufficient inducementwere offered to ex-servicemen to go to New Guinea they could profitably engage in undertakings of that kind. I was informed that many areas in Papua and New Guinea are suitable for growing rubber and other commodities, such as tea, coffee and cocoa. I understand that the cultivation of those crops is a pleasant occupation as they flourish in a temperate climate similar to that of the southern States of Australia.
New Guinea also offers possibilities for the growing of rice. As I mentioned in a previous debate, Mekeo, which is adjacent to Port Moresby is considered to be a natural irrigation area for the growing of rice. An area of 250,000 acres is available at Mekeo and it has been estimated that it would be capable of producing double the output of the rice irrigation areas of the Murrumbidgee River. If its potentialities were developed we should not be continually asking questions in the Parliament about the availability of rice. It would provide urgently needed supplies of the staple food of the natives of New Guinea. Adverse reports have been made concerning the quality of rice grown in New Guinea, but I feel sure that any disabilities in the local product could be overcome by Australian technicians. The Government should explore the possibilities of utilizing this good, fertile and fairly cheap land in New Guinea for the purposes of war service land settlement.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I had brought to the notice of the Minister several matters connected with war service homes and war service land settlement which had been agitating the minds of many exservicemen, and I had stated that they felt that there were unnecessary delays in making available to them the homes and farms that were promised by successive governments after World War II. began. I had also pointed out that the hopes built up by many of those men dwindled away when they compared the number of houses being built and the number of farms being made available with the number of applications for them. I had dealt with the development of primary industries in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and had pointed out that tea, coffee, cocoa, rubber, rice and timber could be grown in New Guinea and that the land for growing those commodities was readily available and suitable for closer settlement. I should like to see the New Guinea Administration and the Commonwealth Government, in collaboration, call for applications from ex-servicemen who are prepared to undertake a course of training in order to fit them to settle in the territory. I have no doubt. that it would be found that many ex-servicemen would be very willing to go to New Guinea and Papua and settle on the fertile land that is available there. In a previous debate 1 mentioned the dangers that exist in an underdeveloped New Guinea, the need for the development of that territory and the necessity for justifying our trusteeship.
I wish now to refer to the approach of ex-servicemen to the Public Service. Unfortunately, whichever government is in power it is a difficult matter to place one’s finger on the causes of the undue delays that occur in the handling of applications by ex-servicemen. The Labour Government was accused by the then Opposition of encouraging bureaucracy and of supporting people whose chief concern was to have other people fill in forms and wait at the end of a queue. I have given considerable thought to the organization of the Public Service and to the tardiness that exists in the handling of claims by ex-servicemen. I find that one of the greatest sources of delay is a traditional lack of initiative throughout the Public Service, from the top to the bottom. The Minister in charge of a department may not have had time to acquire the necessary background to his department, owing to frequent changes of government, and may have to rely on his departmental heads. Those officers are well trained, conscientious and loyal men who are carrying on a tradition of the Public Service, but their duties are set out in a routine which provides that they may go to certain limits. They are not willing to overstep those limits, because if they take the initiative themselves the Minister may say that their action is not in accord with government policy. They must therefore await a direction from the Minister, and that waiting period is often the cause of delay and of the frustration that is met with in the Public Service. The heads of departments have junior technical officers or advisers, who also have their fields of activities defined in black and white. They do their best within the field allotted to them, but it is found that on the level where the job is being carried out some lack of initiative usually exists. On the next level - the rank and file - of this vastly increased Public .Service, there is a natural desire for the officers to try to improve their lot. The salaries of public servants on the lower levels are such that they provide a mere existence, and those officers naturally desire to improve their financial position and to provide better amenities in their homes. A great deal of their time is devoted to studying the Commonwealth Gazette in order to see how they may possibly improve their position. They are permitted a certain field of activity and are given certain functions to perform, but they, in turn, are not able to take the initiative.
The Government must give some hope to ex-servicemen that when they make applications to officers of the Public Service those applications will be dealt with efficiently, and that the plans which have been drawn up as part of the Government’s policy will be executed with enterprise, initiative and speed. But there is a bottleneck somewhere between the Government’s determination of policy and the actual fact of the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land. T should be the last one to attack any individual member of the Public Service because I have personal knowledge of the circumstances in which public servants work. I had personal experience of those circumstances when I was handling matters relating to war service homes and war service land settlement as a member of the staff of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction shortly after the end of the last war. I was appointed district officer for the northern portion of Tasmania, and it was not uncommon for 50, 60 or 70 ex-servicemen to approach me each day. While I was freeto act quickly and was not bound to any restricted field I was able to get through the work ; but once I was obliged to work to a set of rules I found that my field was restricted and that I could not do nearly so much work. My job was to endeavour to deal with the applications of those men, to do what I could for them, to place them in employment, and to advise them as to the trade which would be most suitable for them, having regard to the reports that were received from the officers of the rehabilitation centres. When the time came for me to make my reports, I found that Public Service delays were the restricting influence.
There must be more elasticity in the Public Service. It should be possible to go to any officer and be assured of his taking an active interest to see that the person with whom he is dealing is satisfied before he leaves the department. It is the responsibility of the Minister to see that his departmental heads have sufficient authority to enable them to use their initiative. The departmental heads, in turn, must be permitted to delegate more authority and a wider field of initiative to the less senior men, and so on throughout the service. If that is not done, there will be a repetition, year by year and decade by decade, of complaints from the members of the public. During the past few years I have endeavoured to elicit the causes of criticism of the Public Service. Apparently the same criticisms are being levelled at the Public Service to-day as were levelled when the Labour Government was in office. I know that there is no point in attacking the Minister himself, and I do not wish to attack the departmental heads, because I know that they are loyal. However, somewhere in the field between the Minister, the departmental heads and the staff there is a routine which is commonly known as red tape. When ex-servicemen make applications for war service homes or blocks of land they become immediately aware of lack of initiative in dealing with their applications. In their army careers and in their post-war positions they were required to use initiative, to make split-second decisions and to move in when the opportunity presented itself. Because they are used to doing that they become good Australians, and that is why they succeed so well in practically every sphere of enterprise. For example, our sportsmen learn of a method of training which may enable them to swim better or to play some other sport with greater efficiency. The same thing applies to men on the land. It is necessary for them to change their techniques from month to month or from year to year in order to meet seasonal conditions. Those ex-servicemen then make their complaints. They say, “Why has this happened?” It is difficult to come to grips with the reason, but the point I wish to make is that until there is more elasticity in the Public Service which will permit individual members of the staff of each department to act quickly and to make recommendations which will be examined and accepted promptly, delays will be inevitable. In addition, the Minister should be sufficiently acquainted with the functions of his department to know the background of recommendations it is necessary for him to make. That is the only way in which the speeding up of allocations of land and war service homes can be effected.
The need for homes is known to every one, but in Tasmania the housing problem has been tackled with commendable efficiency by the State government. It has experimented and developed a plan which could be profitably followed by the War Service Homes Division in Tasmania.
I do not believe that was service land .settlement has been tackled in Tasmania on the level that is necessary. There is some very fertile land in that State - land that was granted to some of the older Tasmanian families 100 years ago. The present owners are not making the best use of it. They are adopting the attitude, “ What I have, I hold “. They do not feel that they have any obligation to the State Government or to ex-servicemen. The High Court has ruled that the State Government cannot acquire land at the prices that prevailed in 1942. It may or may not be right that the State Government cannot do that, but the fact is that in 1942 the value of land was low and was decreasing as the Japanese approached the shores of this country. It is convenient for some people to have a very short memory. Some landowners in Tasmania are not developing their land properly and will not give other men an opportunity to do so. Addressing meetings of chambers of commerce or chambers of manufactures, they say, “ The trouble in Australia is that the workers will not produce enough “, but they themselves are not pulling their weight. Their incomes are sufficiently large to make themselves and their families financially secure, they have a social position that is very pleasant for them, and they have all the amenities that our present system of society can give to them, but, when their incomes have reached a certain level, they say that they will not continue to work for “Arty”, in the same way as they said previously that they would not continue to work for “ Chif “. When they have earned a certain amount of money in a year, they will not bother to earn more. They are sabotaging the economy of this country to a degree far greater than are the men who go slow in industry. By their selfishness, they are withholding land from men who are able and willing to utilize it fully and to whom we made promises during the war. That remark applies, not only to exservicemen but also to many other young men with agricultural experience who are eager to acquire land. In other countries, governments have taken time by the forelock and forcibly dispossessed landowners who have been monopolizing land and not utilizing it fully, but we sit back and say, “What shall we do? Look at what is happening in other countries “. The reason why those things are happening in other countries is that the people of those countries have become frustrated and are determined to alter existing conditions. Some selfish landowners in Australia are preventing this nation from being developed in the way in which it could be developed. They are keeping us in a state of semi-stagnation by retaining huge areas of land that could be used for the settlement of ex-servicemen. That land is not producing to its full capacity and ex-servicemen who want land are suffering from a great sense of frustration. Ex-servicemen have said to me, “Why cannot I get a ‘go’? The Government made great promises during the war, but I cannot get any land. If I could get a farm with a house on it, I could take my wife and children there, and I should be a much better citizen than I am now, because it would give me some incentive and a stake in the country.”
The point that I stress is that in this country we have many jobs to do and if they are to be undertaken successfully we must put in charge of them men of initiative who will have authority to say, “ Let us loosen up here and there ; it will not matter if we make a few mistakes “.
A mistake was made by lifting the roof from prices, but an attempt is being made to alleviate the position, through, aa it were, the back door by the payment of subsidies. Wool prices have increased enormously, and to counter the effect of that increase, £20,000,000 is to be made available to subsidize the homeconsumption price of wool. That is elasticity. Similar methods could be used in the administration of the war service homes scheme and the war service land settlement scheme if the men in charge were men with sufficiently wide vision. This country will never be developed in the way in which it should be developed unless initiative is used throughout the whole of the administration. If we began to develop New Guinea by settling exservicemen on land there, we should prove to the United Nations that we are interested in that territory, but what is the use of talking about the development of New Guinea when in this country itself there are huge tracts of land that could be utilized much more profitably than they are being utilized at the present time?
Those are some of the criticisms that can be levelled at these departments. I shall not detain the Senate any longer. I believe that the matters ‘to which I have referred should be examined by the Government.
, - This bill seeks to authorize the Treasurer to borrow £29,100,000, and to appropriate £25,000,000 for expenditure under the War Service Homes Act and £4,000,000 for the provision of financial assistance to the States in connexion with war service land settlement. Those appropriations, although they appear to be generous, will, owing to the effects of inflation, be inadequate for the purposes for which they are intended to be used.
By June, 1948, a loss of £45,000,000 had been incurred in respect of the war service land settlement scheme applicable to ex-servicemen of the first world war. That, of itself, is a matter for regret, but a matter for even greater regret is that the huge settlement scheme, which waa adopted to assist ex-servicemen, proved in the main to be unsuccessful. Its failure was due, among other things, to high interest rates, low prices for farm produce and the inability, through lack of money, of men who had been settled on the land to develop their properties in accordance with scientific farming methods. Although the present scheme is based upon sound principles, it is reaching the stage when losses will bc incurred. Although only a small number of the ex-servicemen of the last world war who desire to be placed on the land have been allotted blocks, they are encountering difficulties caused by increasing costs of the equipment and plant that they require. The Government claims that it has treated them generously, but it struck a terrific blow at them when it withdrew the superphosphate subsidy, upon which £14,700,000 had been expended by June, 1948. It may be said that wellestablished fanners will not be adversely affected by the withdrawal of that subsidy owing to the high prices that are now being paid for primary products, but that is not true of ex-servicemen who have not yet had an opportunity to develop their properties beyond, as it were, the stage of infancy. They must husband their ground, open it, sweeten it, and put superphosphate into it. If they do not use superphosphate in the early stages of the development of their land, they will not get the results from it that they would get otherwise. The withdrawal of the superphosphate subsidy was a very severe blow to the exservicemen who were settled on the land under the administration of the Chifley Government.
There are a few matters upon which 1 should like the Minister to supply me with some information. Paragraph 111 of the seventeenth report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission reads as follows : -
When it becomes known how similar items are treated, by the other States, the commission will consider whether it should make any adjustment in respect of the item in the Western Australian accounts of £54,012 for war service land settlement losses.
I should like the Minister to tell me how those losses were incurred, and whether they reflect the position of the scheme generally. A somewhat similar position arose under the previous scheme. Peel estate was acquired at a high cost and ex-servicemen were allotted blocks on the estate, although they had no chance of making a reasonable living from them. The operation of divers soldier land settlement schemes resulted in a loss of £45,000,000. One of the real tragedies was that of the men who were originally placed on the Peel estate, not 3 per cent, remained on it. Their land was absorbed by the settlers who remained, not because those settlers were greedy, but because they required extra land to enable them to earn a living. The blocks on the Peel estate never produced what it was originally thought they would produce. If keen examinations had been made by responsible authorities at the stage when losses’ began to be incurred under the previous scheme, decisions could have been made that would have had the effect, not of preventing the losses entirely but of reducing them and, in addition, ex-servicemen would have been given an opportunity to save some of the money that they had expended upon their properties. Many of them spent their deferred pay and their savings in an endeavour to make that ill-conceived plan succeed. They were not rehabilitated, they were robbed because the scheme was run inefficiently and governments were not prepared to intervene to protect either them or public money.
The position in Western Australia is not dissimilar to the position in Tasmania, which was described by Senator O’Byrne. Properties in Western Australia on which ex-servicemen have been settled were selected with the utmost care by officers of the department, but there are large areas of land in the State that are not fully utilized. They are held by people who could well afford to make some of their land available for use by ex-servicemen. The progress of the scheme is being impeded. This Government has no authority to resume land, and State governments have not the will to do so.
By the 30th June, 1948, 2,700 men had been placed upon blocks under the war service land settlement scheme applicable to ex-servicemen who served in the last war, and £7,700,000 had been expended upon the scheme. I ask the Minister how the loss of £54,000 in “Western Australia was incurred, how the sum is made up, . and whether the delay in recouping the Western Australian Government in respect of the loss will militate against the progress of the scheme. We do not want this scheme to stagnate. The initial work of establishing the soldier land settlement scheme was done by the Chifley Government. I should like to know how many ex-servicemen have been allocated blocks since the 30th June, 1948. At that date only a small percentage of applicants had received blocks. I should like the Minister to tell us the actual percentage of applicants who have been placed on holdings to date, under the scheme.
Five per cent, interest was a crippling rate to impose on the settler at that time. Although it was subsequently lowered to 4£ per cent., in view of the inflationary trend, and the fact that the subsidy on fertilizers was withdrawn, his liability would be very heavy. He is also taking it on the chin in the matter of fencing and stocking. The Government should lower the rate of interest charged, on loans to ex-servicemen, in order to afford them relief from high capitalization.
Up till the 30th June, 1948, agricultural loans totalling £7,000,000 had been advanced to 12,000 ex-servicemen settlers, each settler being entitled to a loan of up to £1,000. In view of the acute shortage of rural workers, if the ex-servicemen settlers are to make a success of their farms, they must be able to obtain tractors and other modern facilities. That is another reason why the Government should adopt a generous policy in relation to agricultural loans. I do not suggest that the ra te of interest charged in this connexion should be as low as the capital interest rate, but the ex-serviceman settler should at least be able to obtain the plant that he needs, at a rate lower than the rate charged by commercial undertakings in connexion with hire purchase. He is at a disadvantage in this respect, because, as any person engaged in farming knows, seasonal payments are the rule. Farmers usually make payments in connexion with time payment or hire-purchase agreements by monthly or three-monthly instalments. The Government would greatly assist ex-servicemen settlers if it made agricultural advances to them at a moderate rate of interest, and repayable by seasonal payments. In 1944, the Parliament passed an act to alter the Constitution for a limited period to empower the Commonwealth to make laws in relation to post-war reconstruction, including the re-instatement of ex-servicemen, but the proposal was rejected when submitted to the people by referendum. I consider that it is necessary for the Government, if it has not already done so, to review outstanding applications, with the object of informing young men who have waited for a long time whether they have any prospect of obtaining an allotment. In Western Australia young exservicemen with good war records and honorable discharges, who are capable of hard work, are anxious to know whether the Government intends to establish them on the land. Many applicants experienced in agriculture have engaged in other occupations pending a decision, and are becoming nomads. One of them, a tradesman, said to me recently, “I would have resumed my trade but I have been promised a block”. He is at present engaged on construction work in a gold-mining town, and has bided his time for about a year, waiting for an allotment. This young man has been cheated out of doing something worth while in his trade, using his own capital, because he believed that the Government intended to allot him a block. Therefore, I urge the Government to cull the applications. Although many applicants have already abandoned hope of being settled on the land, others are still clinging to a fond hope that they will be placed. The Government should either re-orientate its approach to this matter and expedite the settlement of the remaining applicants, or tell applicants that they will not be allotted blocks.
Many problems that confront exservicemen settlers in their initial stages, would be of little consequence to established farmers. I consider that the Government should provide assistance to ex-servicemen settlers for a reasonable time, by subsidized insurance. By so doing, it would assist them to overcome their initial difficulties and ultimately become successful farmers. It would be preferable for the Government to expend £20,000,000 in this manner than to incur a dead loss of £45,000,000 as a former government did in connexion with the previous scheme. I point out that although overseas prices for primary products are high at present, only relatively small quantities are being produced by ex-servicemen farmers. The Government should assist them in their initial stages, by providing insurance on the basis of the premiums levied in accordance with the area under crop. That would ameliorate their difficulties in obtaining modern equipment. I. point out that such a provision would pay dividends ultimately because when the ex-servicemen farmers became successful they would be able to discharge their liabilities to the Government. It is wrong to adopt a parsimonious approach to this problem, because we must bear in mind the possibility of a decrease of overseas prices. The Government is standing to lose the total amount of its investment, because these young farmers do not possess reserves to tide them over initial difficult periods. If they are assisted to become successful farmers they will amortize their debts to the Government. Although Senator Scott, speaking in a humorous vein, stated that the Government was generously making loans available to ex-servicemen, I remind honorable senators that every “ Jack “ penny of the loans to them must be repaid, plus interest. They should not be put through the “ wringer “, as have other ex-servicemen in the past. “Whenever a banking institution makes a loan available to farmers, it affords them some protection during their initial difficult periods to assist them to discharge their liabilities in due course.. If the Government is sincere in its announced intention to assist ex-servicemen it should keep its promise to put value back into the £1 and restore the purchasing power of money. That would enable ex-servicemen settlers to establish themselves on lower capital outlay. If the Government is unable to restore the value of the £1, it should ensure that the ex-servicemen farmers will not be squeezed off their blocks because of the lack of financial assistance. Agricultural loans of £250 each have been made available to 11,250 applicants, involving the outlay of £1,740,000, while £250 shortterm loans aggregating £228,000 have been made available to 1,038 applicants. In addition, many ex-servicemen have obtained additional financial resources from private finance companies, for the purpose of obtaining necessary equipment. Many of them carry out contract work for other farmers, thereby assisting to increase production and ease the shortage of man-power in agricultural areas. It was originally intended that 50 per cent, of the homes constructed should bc made available to ex-servicemen, war widows and pensionable mothers of deceased servicemen. However, because of the high cost of building, and because of the increased demand for houses, due to the influx of migrants, &c, this target has not been reached. The housing shortage can be overcome only by increased production, but the workers are not responsible for the shortage. The trouble is largely due to the antiquated methods employed in the production of building materials. For instance, bricks are still made in much the same way as they were made in Pharaoh’s time. Some time ago, I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) to remit the duty on brick-making machines imported from South Africa. The duty on each machine is about £300, but the department would not relax its regulations, either because it was not prepared to forgo the revenue, or because it might be possible to obtain similar machines from Great Britain. A great deal of labour is required in the making of bricks by the old-fashioned method used in Australia. In the United States of America, the clay is dug out of the pita with an endless bucket chain, and the bricks are burned by an infra-ray system, thus saving a great amount of labour. The Government should not hesitate to waive import duties on modern machinery for the production of building materials, because only by the use of such machinery can the housing lag be overtaken.
– The workers do not want mechanization. The coalminers are objecting to it.
– I am sorry that the honorable senator has such a low opinion of the workers. I am proud of the fact that I am a worker. I used to be president of the Western Australian Labour party, in which capacity I was associated with many thousands of workers. I have never known the workers to object to the introduction of modern equipment unless it endangered their safety.
– What about the coal-miners ?
– The coal-mines at Collie, in Western Australia, are mechanized, and production has reached record figures. The honorable senator should study what happens in her own State. She should know that the last industrial trouble at Collie was caused because old-fashioned equipment with worn steel rope was in use, and the miners said that they would discontinue work until proper equipment was installed. It was proved on that occasion that the company was at fault. The man who really works and produces supports the rest of the community. It is arrant nonsense to say that the workers object to the introduction of mechanical aids. They do not. As a matter of fact, it is the workers who make it possible for mechanical aids to be applied to industry.
– Will the honorable senator explain that to the New South Wales coal-miners?
– The New South Wales coal-miner is a human being just as is the honorable senator herself. So many of them spilt their blood in the last war that the Government had to stop them from enlisting. Those who entered the armed services operated the most terrible machines that tore men’s bodies apart.
– Sob stuff!
– It is a fact. I hate to hear the workers being maligned. During the war, the workers, as I have said, operated machines in the defence of their country, and in so doing risked incapacitation and death ; but, when they are asked to operate machines to tear the bowels out of the earth in order to obtain coal they demand that adequate precautions and safety margins be observed. The workers are conscious of the dignity of labour. Given the proper equipment, the Australian workers are willing to do as good a job as is done by workers in any other part of the world. Our workers give a fair contribution for what they receive. I have no wish to speak of parasites. I do. not like to think that any one is a parasite, but it is quite certain that the workers are not parasites.
Young men who go on the land must be workers, and they should be supplied with proper mechanical aids to enable them to work their land effectively. Such aids are all the more necessary at this time when labour is scarce. The Government must either halt inflation, and restore value to the. £1, or make money available to ex-servicemen at a low rate of interest, and provide for the amortization of their indebtedness by means of seasonal payments on terms that will enable them to be successful. I hate to think that ex-servicemen now being settled on the land will fail like so many px-servicemen failed after World War I. They sank all their capital and deferred pay in their farms, and after working for years, had to sell out at a low price to established farmers in the neighbourhood who benefited from the work that had been done. Unless the Government is careful, the same sort of thing could happen again. I hope that information will be forthcoming from the Government about the loss of £54,012 on land settlement schemes for ex-servicemen in Western Australia, and I should like to know whether similar losses have been incurred in other States. I trust that the failure of the Commonwealth Grants Commission in its last report to deal with that item will not prejudice the success of the land settlement scheme in Western Australia. In the past, grants have been assessed on the basis of what was given in previous years, or on what was considered a reasonable thing. However, the future welfare of so many men is involved in the land settlement scheme that there should be a thorough investigation in order to find out what is needed to get men settled quickly on the land. Above all, they should not be left to take the risk of inflation or uncertain markets.
– This bill provides for the expenditure of £25,000,000 of loan money for the construction of war service homes for the year 1950-51, which is £9,000,000 more than was expended during the previous year, when the money was found from Consolidated Revenue and trust fund balances. I do not know how much came from each source, but there must have been a considerable saving of interest as compared with what will be paid on the loan money that is to be used this year. However, I do not object to the proposed expenditure. “We have been told that the programme provides for the erection of 15,000 homes this financial year, I thought at first that that was rather a large figure, but according to the report of the Director of “War Service Homes for the year 1949-50, it is not an overstatement. Under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement 50 per cent, of the homes provided are to be made available to ex-servicemen on a rental basis. Under the “War Service Homes Act homes are to be made available on a home-ownership basis. For the year 1948-49, 6,285 houses were provided. Of that number 2,525 were built, 3,559 were purchased or mortgages were discharged on them, and 201 were obtained by transfer or re-sale. That figure of 6,285 for 1948-49 was increased to 10,527 in 1949-50. That is a clear indication that some impetus was given to the construction of war service homes. It will be recalled that in July, 1949, there was a re-organization of the war service homes authority. The Division of “War Service Homes became a part of the Department of Works and Housing. That Te-organization was carried out while the Chifley Government was in office, and the report to which I have referred is the second that has been made since the re-organization. It is interesting to note the results of that reorganization. After the end of World War II., the Labour Administration progressively increased expenditure on homes for ex-servicemen. As honorable senators are aware, it was not until 1945-46 that the Labour Government was able to devote its attention to housing. In that year a total of £378,577 was made available for war service homes. By the following year, the allocation had increased to £2,071,828. In 1947-48 it was £4,439,912 and in 1948-49 £8,551,901. The estimate for 1949-50 was £15,000,000, and we have now been informed that £16,000,000 was actually expended, so that the estimate was not far wrong. Let us compare expenditure since 1945-46 with the figure for the eight-year period from 1932 to 1940 under anti-Labour governments. In those eight years, expenditure on war service homes totalled £1,046,000, or an average of £130,750 per annum. Judging by the legislation now before the Senate, the present Government intends to carry on the good work that was started by the preceding Labour Administration, and I trust that there will be no deviation from that course. However, as I have said, in the eight years from 1932 to 1940 successive anti-Labour governments expended a total of only £1,046,000 on war service homes. Honorable senators will be interested to know just what happened in those years. The figures are most illuminating, particularly when we remember that in those days there was no shortage of labour or materials. In fact, many men were looking for work and materials were available in abundance. What is the record of those anti-Labour administrations which posed as the great champions of ex-servicemen ?
– They lived on ex-servicemen.
– That is so. The following figures show exactly what was done : -
I direct attention particularly to the two immediate pre-war years 1937-38 and 1938-39. In the first of those years, the then non-Labour government had 437 applications for war service homes, but built only 28. In the following year, only 29 homes were built although 474 applicants were waiting! Contrast that record with the activity of successive Labour governments. Undoubtedly, the former Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Lemmon, rendered valuable service to this country, not only by his efforts to accelerate the war service homes programme, but also by his contribution to the solution of our housing problem generally. The figures for the war service homes scheme since 1945-46 are as follow : -
I place those two sides of the picture before honorable senators to show the difference between the attitude of Labour and non-Labour governments to the problems of ex-servicemen.
The report of the Director of War Service Homes for the year 1948-49 is worthy of the attention of all honorable senators. It indicates that since the reorganization of the War Service Homes authority, something of real value has been achieved for ex-servicemen. The report states - . .
The statistics show a very considerable increase in the number of homes provided during 1948-49 compared with the previous years and this is despite the difficulties of increasing costs and other problems not associated with house building in pre-war years. The number of building contracts let during 1948-49 is a record for any one year since operations commenced under the War Service Homes Act in March, 1919.
As Senator Cooke has said, there is still a serious lag in our housing programme, not only for ex-servicemen, but also for other members of the community. Dealing with increased building activities the report continues: -
There have been suggestions that the increase in the number of homes completed is not sufficiently spectacular, but these suggestions have been made without a knowledge of what has actually happened. In providing for an increased number of homes to be built a prior essential is to enter into satisfactory contracts -for the building of those homes, and despite shortages of materials, shortages of technical officers, shortages of manpower in certain specialized trades such as plumbers, tilers and painters and the desire of many contractors to continue to work without supervision, the contracts let during 1948-49 totalled 4,519 and were over 300 per cent, greater than the number of contracts let during 1946-47. With 5.157 homes in the various stages of construction, including contracts let, at 30th June, 1949, the homes completed in 1949-50 will be ten times as great as the homes completed in 1946-47. In the early stages of an up-graded programme, it is necessary to judge the success from statistics which show thi* number of homes under construction, as well as the number completed.
That is another indication of the impetus that was given to the construction of war service homes by the re-organization carried out under the Chifley Administration. Several honorable senators have referred to the .difficulty that has been experienced in getting contractors to build war service homes. As the result of that difficulty, a system of group building has been introduced and considerable improvement has been noticeable. As I said when speaking on other legislation recently, if homes can be erected in groups there must be a considerable saving in costs.
One feature of the war service homes scheme that is not generally known is the insurance plan. That too was introduced by a Labour government. A report issued by the Department of Works and Housing in 1949 stated -
The insurance cover afforded to exservicemen under the Act is of a comprehensive nature, and compares more than favorably with Private Tariff Companies, yet the premiums payable by the ex-servicemen are only 50 per cent, of those charged by outside companies.
Notwithstanding this, the Government hits, for the current insurance year, granted a rebate of 33$ per cent, of the premium, and-has added various matters of cover additional to that, included.
Furthermore, the Act has been amended to enable ex-servicemen who have discharged their liability on the purchase of a home to be readmitted to the insurance scheme if they so desire. The War Service Homes Insurance is a co-operative scheme and that is the reason why it can be maintained at such a low rate to the ex-servicemen whilst giving the excellent coverage.
That is very important as it indicates the benefits of socialization and cooperation. The purchasers of war service homes are treated much more liberally by the War Service Homes Division than they would .be by the private insurance companies. The annual report of the Director of “War Service Homes for the year ended the 30th June, 1949, states -
The act was amended to take effect from the 6th January, 1949, to enable purchasers and borrowers’ who discharge their liabilities to continue the insurance on their homes under the War Service Homes Insurance Scheme and retain the advantages of that scheme. In addition, provision was made for the reinsurance under the War Service Homes Scheme of those homes in respect of which the liability had been discharged, provided the purchasers or borrowers or their widows or personal representatives were still the owners. The continuation of insurance or re-insurance after discharge of liability is purely voluntary, and numerous applicants are taking advantage of the exceptionally good .provisions of the War Service Homes Insurance Scheme.
In addition, following a review of the operations of the insurance scheme for 1948, approval was given for a rebate of 33J per cent, of the premiums payable by applicants during 1949-50. The position is to be again reviewed at the end of April each year to determine if a similar rebate can be allowed in the subsequent year having regard to the result of the operations.
Thus borrowers and purchasers under the war service homes scheme are placed in a very favorable position by comparison with those who insure their properties with private companies. The financial statement which is attached to the report shows that during the period from the 1st July, 1948, to the 30th June, 1.949, the total receipts in the “War Service Homes Insurance Trust Account amounted to £39,975, and the total expenditure to £16,006, leaving a surplus of £23,969. These figures indicate the solvency of the “War Service Homes Insurance Trust Account.
On the 28th June, 1949, a bill to amend the War Service Homes Act was passed through the Parliament and became operative on the 1st July, 1949, which provided for an increase of the total amount of advance to £2,000 under either a mortgage or a contract of sale. An advance of £2,000 represents a substantial amount from the point of view of the borrower, particularly a young man, who, in addition to securing a house has to furnish it and meet all the expenses incidental to the establishment of a home. The interest on such a capital sum represents a very heavy burden. The report of the Director of War Service Homes states that the average cost of houses erected by the division in each of the States is as follows: -
It will be seen from these figures that the average cost of building a war service home in Australia is between £1,500 and £1,600, and that in South Australia the average is lower than in any other State of the Commonwealth. The cost of construction is increasing day by .day. At one time I thought that the Government’s proposal to increase the amount provided for this purpose last year by £9,000,000 was intended to cover increased costs. I hope that that is not so and that before long the average cost of house construction will be reduced. I doubt very much whether the Government would act wisely if, as has been suggested by several honorable senators, it increased the total amount of advance. When the advance has been increased in the past building costs have been progressively increased. We must endeavour to guard against such increases as far as we are able to do so.
The record of the War Service Homes Division in recent years is very much better than the record of the War Service Homes Commission in the years prior to the election to office of the Curtin Labour Government in 1941. I have no objection to the appropriation which the Government seeks to make in this bill, whether the amount be provided from loan funds, Consolidated Revenue or trust funds. I trust that the Government, through the Department of Works and Housing, will continue progressively to expand the war service homes construction programme. ‘
– I do not propose to take up the time of the Senate for very long. In discussing this bill, which has for one of its purposes the appropriation of an amount of £25,000,000 for war service homes, I am in rather a unique position, in that I am asked to approve of the appropriation of money, some of which will be lent to me, because I am now building a war service home. I can therefore speak with some authority on the subject, and give a little inside information concerning the activities of the War Service Homes Division. First, I should like to correct some mistakes that were made by two honorable senators opposite. Senator Scott said that whereas the Chifley Government provided £16,000,000 for this purpose, this Government, in a big-hearted way, proposes to provide £25,000,000. The honorable senator should not try .to make political propaganda out of his comparison, because the £16,000,000 which was provided by the Chifley Government was more than sufficient to finance such construction as could be carried out. I have no doubt that the £25,000,000 which the present Government seeks to appropriate in this bill will prove more than sufficient to finance its commitments for war service homes. Senator Kendall made an eloquent appeal on behalf of war widows. While I commend him for so doing I must correct an error which he made in relation to pro -rata payments. The honorable senator said that pro rata payments are not made and that the exserviceman must build his dwelling and hand it over to the War Service Homes Division. Pro rata payments are made by the Division after inspections of the work in progress.
– But only after the work has been completed.
– No, after a section of the work has been completed. Although the amount proposed to be appropriated by* this bill represents an increase of 55 per cent, over the amount appropriated oy the Chifley Government, that additional amount will be absorbed principally by increased building costs. Notwithstanding the heavy increases of building costs, the maximum amount of advance remains as formerly. Some honorable senators on this side of the chamber have said that an advance of £2,000 represents a very large commitment for the average ex-serviceman. In present circumstances however, it is not nearly sufficient to cover the cost of constructing a decent dwelling. Senator Nash has cited figures from the report of the Director of War Service Homes to show that the average cost of war service homes in Tasmania is £1,518, and in Victoria £1,625. Dwellings suitable for the average family cannot be constructed for those amounts to-day. Most houses that are built for such a low price are jerry built, and contain not more than ten or twelve squares. Ex-servicemen need much larger accommodation. Most of them will live in their houses throughout the whole of their lives. Indeed, having regard to present costs it will take almost a lifetime to pay them off. Most of the houses that have been constructed at the average cost mentioned by Senator Nash are two-bedroom dwellings, which will become the slums of the future. They are totally unsuitable for young couples who should be encouraged to provide accommodation for families. The existing maximum advance is totally insufficient to cover present-day costs. The cost of constructing a well-built modest dwelling in Tasmania at present is approximately £2,600. Very few ex-servicemen can afford to raise an additional £600 to supplement the maximum advance. Most of those who purchase war service homes arc young newly married men who have to incur a great deal of expenditure for furniture and furnishings. If the maximum advance is not increased beyond £2,000 many of them will be forced to purchase houses which are now unsuited to their requirements and will become more unsuited to their requirements as the years go on. I should like to see the loan raised to considerably more than £2,000. The 4 per cent, interest charged is a heavy burden on the owner of a war service home. Why make a profit out of the returned soldier? Administrative costs should be very small, and I consider that approximately 1 per cent, would cover them. I understand that in New Zealand the Government lends the money to the housing authority at the rate of lj -per cent. Something should be done along the same lines in Australia.
Much has been said during the debate concerning the war service land settlement scheme. I have been in contact with many young men on the land, and as far as I am able to see the only thing wrong with the scheme is the delay in placing men on the land. That, of course, is a serious matter, but once those men are settled on the land they are appreciative of the efforts that have been made on their behalf. I wish to direct the attention of the Government to the necessity for making provision whereby those settlers may acquire their own properties. I do not suggest that settlers should be allowed to buy properties until a certain time has elapsed, but I consider that that time should be determined by legislation. When that period has elapsed, it should be possible for them to purchase the property outright, and I suggest that if they were able to do that they would be provided with an incentive to work hard. At the same time, the prescribed period should be sufficient to protect them from being preyed upon by “ dummies “ and persons who make them offers. Exservicemen who are willing to make a few hundred pounds on the deal might, in those circumstances, be tempted to let their farms go. The Government could stipulate a period of, say, ten years, after which time they could purchase their properties outright if they wished to do so. I also consider that land acquisition and land settlement should continue, and that when the ex-service applicants have been exhausted, applications should be invited from civilians. However, under present world conditions, I am afraid that applications from returned soldiers will never end.
At the present time, when a person desires to purchase a property the period between obtaining the consent of the War Service Homes Division and of acquiring title to the land is far too long. By the time a prospective buyer is in a position to say “Very well, I will take it”, the option has lapsed and he has lost his chance. I suggest that an effort should be made to make a speedy recommendation and to allow property to be taken over by a soldier at a moment’s notice. Having regard to the high values of land to-day, the Government would run very little risk.
During the last few months I have had dealings with the War Service Homes
Division in Tasmania, and I have no doubt that the conditions applying in Tasmania apply also in the other States of the Commonwealth. I wish to commend the Division for the courtesy which it shows to applicants for assistance. I am able to speak from personal experience on that matter. The Tasmanian office was unfortunate to lose its deputy director, Mr. Bartlett, who recently died at an early age because of war injuries, but the acting deputy director in Hobart, Mr. A. Sayer, the draftsmen and other officers of the division, are worthy of all the praise that can be given because of the manner in which they treat applicants. Although those officers are very thorough and fair, the fact remains that applications take a considerable length of time to go through, mainly because of their thoroughness. I commend this bill and I should like to see it given a speedy passage.
– in reply - Like Senator Cole, I also started off in a war service home. The honorable senator referred to the length of time it took him to get his application through, but I must confess that the length of time in my case works in reverse; I am horrified to think that it is 30 years since my transaction with the division was concluded. As in Senator Cole’s case, mine was a very satisfactory transaction.
Perhaps the best way to commence to reply to this debate is to refresh the minds of honorable senators with the volume, number, and nature of transactions entered into by the division, because those transactions show such a constantly expanding set of activities over the last few years that that expansion itself must answer some of the criticism that has been levelled against the division. The number of war service homes provided was 2,263 in 1947, 3,677 in 1948, 6,084 in 1949, 10,303 last year, and it is contemplated that it will be 15,000 this year. I suggest to honorable senators that that is an extraordinarily rapid development of activities. The properties so far approved by the Australian Government for purchase under the war service land settlement scheme will provide 5,960 holdings for ex-servicemen.
The Commonwealth has approved of the acquisition of . 1,544 properties, with a total area of 9,021,228 acres. The total number of holdings allotted to exservicemen in the various States to the 30th September”, last, were -
I think that it is fair, on that brief statement of statistics, to show how the schemes have developed, the demand that there is for holdings, and the useful purpose that the schemes are serving.
The appropriation of £25,000,000 for housing is portion of a total appropriation of £71,000,000 by the Australian Government, and that £71,000,000 appropriation is approximately 10 per cent of the total estimated . expenditure of £735,000,000 upon housing in Australia during the forthcoming twelve months.
I shall endeavour to deal as quickly as possible with some of the questions that have been asked. It is pertinent to remember that as far as the war service land settlement scheme is concerned, in common with other forms of closer settlement it is carried out by the States under their own laws. The Commonwealth makes a financial contribution in those cases where the settlement complies with conditions agreed upon between the Commonwealth and the States, so that all comments about the time lag in the placing of ex-servicemen upon holdings must be viewed, as far as the Commonwealth department administering the matter is concerned, against the background that the whole of the detailed administrative work is in the hands of the States, and the respective States set the pace at which the schemes proceed. The department of the Interior is completely on top of its task and has its work quite up to date. Delays cannot be laid at its door. Such complaints are matters which properly should be taken up with the State authorities and not with the federal authority. .
In the course of his speech, Senator Armstrong made two points with which
I shall deal briefly. The honorable senator mentioned that some builders make 20 per cent, gross profit. As a matter of interest, I invite the attention of the honorable senator to a publication issued by the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey) which contains some graphs relating to building costs. Those graphs show that the average profit on a brick dwelling of thirteen squares, with three bedrooms, is
II per cent., and that on a brick veneer dwelling, of three bedrooms, of thirteen squares, it is 11.3 per cent.
– Those are not: just war service homes to which the Minister is referring?
– No, that is the average profit. On a timber dwelling of eleven squares the profit is 11.5 per cent. I confess that I found those figures very interesting, and I considered it worth while to make them known to honorable senators who also might be interested since criticism, of the War Service Homes Division can be replied to in this way. The division has now had se much experience in the erection of buildings of that size that, when a serviceman seeks its assistance and the necessary arrangements are made, before tenders are invited the division prepares its estimate of what the tenders will be. If the tenders are not satisfactory and indicate a greater margin of profit than the division estimates should be applicable to the job, the tenders are not accepted and negotiations are entered into. In that, way the division gives effective protection to the ex-serviceman in relation to the contract.
Senator Armstrong also raised the question of brick production. I was intrigued to read in some papers that came to my notice that the Ministry of National Development is now making a genera] inquiry into the brick industry and eventually will make suggestions to the Government regarding what can be done to stimulate the industry. At the present time, the Minister’s thoughts are running mainly along the lines of giving financial assistance to the
Industry, where necessary, and granting more liberal taxation allowances. I was informed by the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey), with whom I discussed the matter to-day, that his department, not only is conducting an inquiry into the brick industry, but also is giving practical assistance to the industry in Victoria, with the result that twenty brickyards in that State that had been closed are re-opening at the rate of two a week. That has become known in other States, from which the Minister is now receiving requests for assistance similar to that given to Victorian brickworks.
With regard to ex-servicemen who are building houses, if there be delay in some cases, which the department does not admit, the interests of the ex-servicemen are being protected by the preparation of plans and estimates before tenders are called for. In these days, that is a very valuable protection, especially for young men who do not know the strength of the market or what they may reasonably be called upon to pay. There has also been some criticism of delays in the purchase of homes where the Commission has provided the necessary funds. In those transactions, the delay, if it can be called a delay, is more justified than in other transactions, because before the commission makes a cash advance to an exserviceman it assesses the value of the property and advises the ex-serviceman whether the price asked for the property is a reasonable one. Honorable senators will realize that when an independent party enters into such a transaction and makes a valuation, if it advises the prospective buyer that the price asked for the building is higher than that which he should pay the intervention is unpopular with one of the parties to the transaction.
I think I covered in my general reply the point that was raised by Senator Kendall regarding deposits. I shall bring the honorable senator’s remarks about war widows to the notice of the Minister, because they related to a matter , of policy with which I cannot deal offhand. Senator Murray referred to terrace houses. The initial reaction of the commission to his suggestion was an adverse one. It is necessary to give an ex-service man a separate title to his property, and the commission is doubtful whether terrace houses are a saleable investment. It has not decided whether it should extend its activities in that direction.
Senator Amour and other honorable senators suggested that the amount of the advance should be increased and the interest rate reduced. The Minister for Works and Housing has informed me that the amount of the advance is constantly under review. With regard to the interest rate, that is 3£ per cent, and not 4 per cent., as was stated by Senator Cole. An answer to any criticism of the interest rate is provided by the popularity of the War Service Homes scheme. In addition to the interest rate, terms of repayment, insurance arrangements and the nominal cost of plans must also be taken into consideration. That the arrangements made are very popular is proved by the fact that, although this bill seeks to appropriate £25,000,000 for expenditure upon war service homes, the indications are that that sum will be insufficient to finance the work that the division will be able to handle and bring to finality during this financial year.
Senator Critchley referred to timberframed houses in South Australia. The War Service Homes Division is willing to take those houses over, provided faulty workmanship in them is rectified. With regard to group houses in South Australia, 426 contracts, including contracts for 96 group homes, have been let in the last four months. There are 300 group houses under construction in South Australia at the present time. My reply to- Senator Harris’s remarks is that the War Service Homes Division has not an establishment of its own in Western Australia and that its work in that State is carried out on its behalf by the State Housing Trust. There are 1,100 contracts at present in existence in Western Australia. That fact does not indicate that there is any hesitation to contract with the State housing trust. Any complaints by ex-servicemen in Western Australia could be directed more appropriately to the trust.
Senator O’Byrne criticized delays, and mentioned titles in particular. The general answer to his criticism is that statistics show an increase of the activities of the division. The fact that it is expected that 15,000 transactions will be completed this year, compared with a couple of thousand two or three years ago, indicates the popularity of the scheme. Senator Scott suggested that ex-servicemen settlers should be permitted to purchase their holdings. That matter was raised also by some honorable senators opposite. The Commonwealth has conceded that principle, and has told the Governments of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania that it is prepared to discuss with them methods of giving effect to it. Senator Scott referred also to the loss of revenue by local authorities because properties are taken over by the Crown. This is a State matter, because land for settlement is acquired by the States. In any event, when the settlers have been placed upon their holdings, they pay rates upon them. Therefore, the non-payment of rates is only a passing phase.
I think that I have covered the major points raised during the debate. If I have not dealt with a point raised by any honorable senator, if he will see me later I shall be glad to. make available to him any information that I have obtained.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
– I thank the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) for his very courteous reply to the secondreading debate, and for the comprehensive way in which he dealt with the points raised by honorable senators. I thank him’ particularly for the trouble to which he went to answer the query that I raised in my second-reading speech. I should he pleased if he would make available to me the document in which building costs are subdivided. The figures that he gave were very interesting. I have made a personal survey of the industry, and my opinion is that the profit range is much too high - much greater than the 11 per cent, mentioned by the Minister.
I congratulate the Government upon the assistance that it is giving to the brick- making industry, but it is a little strange that at the present time that assistance is being monopolized by Victoria. There must be an explanation of that. It would be unkind to suggest that the reason is that the Minister for National Development is a Victorian and is concentrating his work upon that State because, owing to transport troubles, he cannot travel beyond its borders. The brick-making potential of New South Wales is large and worthy of the Minister’s attention. I suggest in passing that the Government should also consider the provision of assistance to the tile industry, which is in the doldrums and in need of encouragement.
Finally, I should like to give credit to the previous Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Lemmon, for the work that he did in connexion with war service homes. When he assumed office, he completely re-organized the commission - in fact, he eliminated it - and developed the organization that is functioning so efficiently at the present time. He gave to able men in other sections of his department responsibility for war service homes. The fact that within four years the graph has risen from 2,000 to a projected 15,000 is a compliment, ‘first, to the Minister who re-organized the department, and secondly, to the able officers who did the work.
– This bill seeks to appropriate money for expenditure upon war service homes under the War Service Homes Act. It provides for the provision of homes for ex-servicemen of two wars, who served against a declared enemy or enemies. At present, as honorable senators are aware, we are engaged in an act of hostility with Korea, and we may be engaged in another theatre of war in an undeclared form of hostilities. In view of the casualties that have been suffered, and the services that have been rendered by our Navy, Army and Air Force, does the Minister contemplate an amendment of the war service homes legislation to make provision for men who are now serving overseas in a state of undeclared war, but who, nevertheless, are giving their lives or exposing themselves to considerable risks to preserve a great ideal?
– By the present reading of the act, the persons to whom Senator Murray has referred are already eligible.
– I draw the attention of the
Minister to paragraph 111 of the Seventeenth Report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, which reads -
When it becomes known how similar items are to be treated by the other States, the Commission will consider whether it should make any adjustment in respect of the item in the Western Australian accounts of £54,012 for war service land settlement losses.
Will the Minister inform me whether the losses that have been incurred in Western Australia will be made good by this measure, and whether they will impede in any way the further land settlement of ex-servicemen in Western Australia?
– £54,012 represents the State’s proportion of the excess cost of developing land for settlement over its long-term economic value. The Commonwealth contribution would be about £80,000. These write-offs are in favour of the settlers. The writing-down principle is common to the scheme in all States.
– I wish to refer to a point that has been raised by Senator Cole, and also a question that I asked recently in connexion with the same matter. I refer to the provision for an advance of £2,000 for the construction of a war service home. Building costs have risen considerably. A home that previously cost about £2,000 to construct now costs over £3,000. As a result persons who desire to build their own homes by means of war service homes advances have to provide very substantial deposits. Financiers who are prepared to advance more than £2,000 for the construction of a home charge higher rates of interest than that payable for war service homes advances. I consider that the time has arrived when the amount of war service homes advances should be increased, and I shall be glad if the Minister will in form me whether the Government contemplates any action in this connexion in the near future. I point out that there is probably no more important problem in the life of a young couple than that of establishing a home. It is important to them that they should not make one false move and thereby burden themselves financially for life; such a move could result in their losing their home.
– I have already pointed out that the amount of the principal sum is continually reviewed by the Minister, and that the Minister would deal with that matter in the appropriate way in his judgment. In fact, I have said everything about this matter except that the amount would be increased. However, I have already indicated clearly that the Minister is considering the matter, but has not yet made a decision.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill presented by Senator Spicer, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) put -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
– There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators present, and no dissentient voice, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the hill be now read a second time.
On the 16th March, 1949, Senator McKenna, who was then Acting AttorneyGeneral, made the following statement in this House: -
I desire to inform honorable senators that it has been decided to prepare a consolidation of Commonwealth acts as at the 31st December, 11)00. The consolidation will be published as early as possible in the year 1951. The first consolidation of Commonwealth acts was prepared as at the end of 1911, and a second at the end of 1935. It was then intended to issue a fresh consolidation at the end of each ten years, but that intention was, of course, frustrated by the war. It has also been decided to issue a consolidation of Commonwealth statutory rules as at the 31st December, 1950. The statutory rules have previously been reprinted twice, namely in 1914 and 1927. Besides .being of great utility, those works will mark the completion of 50 years ot federation, and will be issued to commemorate this important milestone in the history of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The present Government has adopted the decision of the previous Government and the work of preparing Commonwealth acts for re-printing has been proceeding for some time. It was contemplated at the time of Senator McKenna’s announcement that it would be necessary to pass a Statute Law Revision Bill so as to clear away a great deal of obsolete matter from the statute-book before proceeding with the reprinting of the acts and, as the reprint will comprise the acts as in force on the 31st December this year, it is essential that the Statute Law Revision Bill be passed this year. The Statute Law Revision Act 1934 had the same object and, following upon its passing the “ 1935 Reprint “ of the Commonwealth acts was published. The present bill is modelled upon that act.
There is an obligation resting upon the Government of the Commonwealth, and upon this Parliament, to present the statute law of the Commonwealth in a convenient, accessible and readily intelligible form. The Government tries to do that as the legislation is drafted, and as it is passed through Parliament from time to time, but as the years go by it becomes evident that st great deal of outofdate matter has accumulated. The object of this bill is, to use the rather apt phrase used in 1934 by the then Attorney-General when introducing the Statute Law Revision Bill of that year, “merely to cut away the dead wood on the statute-book”.
It is a common practice in England to pass acts of this kind. Many acts similar to the present bill have been passed by the Parliament of Great Britain,’ the object being to keep the statute-books of the country in a proper state. There are various circumstances which make acts no longer useful and which justify their removal from the statute-book. Thus, this bill will not only remove useless matter but will also correct a few mistakes which have been discovered in the legislation passed by the Commonwealth Parliament since the passing of the Statute Law Revision Act 1934.
Many acts apply only to a set of circumstances temporarily existing at the time the legislation was enacted. I refer to the annual supply acts and annual appropriation acts, to acts providing for the payment of bounties for a limited period, to acts appropriating money for the payment of bounties for a limited period, to acts appropriating money for the« granting of a fixed sum to one of the States and to acts validating action already taken. All such acts become obsolete with the passage of time, yet, although it should be no longer necessary to include them in editions of the statutes, they still remain there. It is the purpose of this bill to repeal such unnecessary acts. In addition to those acts which are wholly obsolete, there are others which have served their purpose and which, owing to the effluxion of time or to subsequent events, have no longer any force or effect. For example, section 53a of the Bankruptcy Act, dealing with certain acts of bankruptcy committed before the commencement of the Bankruptcy Act 1924 is obviously unnecessary in 1950 or at any future time. Similarly, section 9 of the Excise Tariff Act, which provides that certain tariff proposals, proposed in 1918 or earlier, shall be deemed to have ceased to have effect, is no longer needed.
As I have indicated, it is proposed to bring out in 1951 a reprint of the Commonwealth statutes, which will contain all the legislation actually in force, the obsolete matter having been removed. Honorable senators are accustomed to use the 1935 reprint supplemented by the annual volumes containing legislation passed since 1935. The Government hopes to bring out in a few volumes an up-to-date edition containing all the statutes still in force. Honorable senators know the difficulty of ascertaining the state of the statutes, of knowing whether amendments have been made to them, and whether they are still applicable to present conditions. We must, remove the obsolete matter not only for the convenience of honorable members and of the legal profession but also to discharge our duty to the community as a whole.
I shall indicate shortly the nature of the legislation that is being dealt with. Honorable senators will see that there are several pages of schedules. The First Schedule amends particular provisions in certain specified acts. Where a necessary amendment could not conveniently be made by means of the schedule, it has been included as a separate clause of the bill. Clause 13, for instance, repeals section 5 of the Australian Imperial Force Canteens Funds Act 1920, and substitutes a new section which takes account of the changes in the body of trustees which have occurred as a result of death or resignation since the passing of the act in 1920.
As to these amendments, and in regard to the whole of the bill, L’ give the Senate the assurance that no alteration of the substance of the law is made. Overlapping provisions, which occur in more than one act, verbal mistakes, and obviously unnecessary words, are corrected or removed as the case requires. Take the . case of the Arbitration (Public Service) Act. It is proposed to omit references in that act to the Public Service Commissioner, because there is no longer such an officer, and substitute for them references to the Public Service Board. Take another case - the amendments of the Evidence Act. It is proposed to omit from that act references to the InterState Commission, that commission having ceased to exist. To give a further example, territories which were formerly held under mandates, are now held under the terms of trusteeship agreements and consequential amendments have therefore been made to the wording of various acts in which references to mandates still occur - in, for instance, the Acts Interpretation Act and the Extradition Act.
The second schedule simply alters the citation of certain acts which are amended by the bill. It is desired to bring the citation up to date, by substituting 1950 as the second date mentioned in the title. With regard to six of these acts it is proposed to go further, and actually change their titles. The reason for this is that it has been decided that when the acts are reprinted on this occasion they will be reprinted in the alphabetical order of their short titles. In the earlier reprints of Commonwealth acts another system was used, namely, the system of arrangement under subjectheadings. I can best show the difference between the two arrangements by giving an example. Under the old system, the Patents Act was found not under the letter “ P “, but under the heading “ Industrial Property “ where it was grouped with other acts of a similar nature, e.g. the Trade Marks Act. Under the new system, the Patents Act will be printed in alphabetical order, after the Passports Act. The titles of the six acts which it is proposed to change are titles which do not, at present, fall well into an alphabetical arrangement. For instance, the Arbitration (Public Service) Act would more easily be found under such an arrangement if its title were changed to the Public Service Arbitration Act and it is proposed therefore to make that change. The other acts and their proposed new titles are -
In the case of the last act, the court in question is the court for the territory and not for the Seat of Government alone, and the proposed title is, therefore, a more accurate one. The court is in fact and in name the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory.
The Third Schedule has the effect of repealing a large number of acts. In Part I. honorable senators will see 30 Supply acts listed. There is no need whatever for the retention of those acts upon the statute-book. Division 1 of
Part II. repeals appropriation acts of past years because they are no longer a part of the effective law of the Commonwealth. Careful provision is made both in this bill and in the Acts Interpretation Act to preserve any rights that have accrued and any obligations ‘which have come into existence under the repealed acts, as well as the validity of any acts done in pursuance of them.
Division 2 of Part II. relates to a series of special appropriation acts. For example, a grant was made last year to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. The money having been paid, it is no longer necessary to include that act in an edition of Commonwealth statutes. Similar considerations apply in the case of the various other appropriation acts listed in this division.
By part III. it is proposed to repeal a number of validating acts. As honorable senators know, from time to time it is necessary at the end of a Parliament to validate a tariff until Parliament has had an opportunity to debate it, when a fresh act is passed which takes the place of the temporary validating measure. It is proposed to repeal those validating acts, and at the same time preserve anything done under or in pursuance of them.
Part IV. consists of various actswhich in past years have made grants to the States. The moneys have been paid and there is no need to have those acts permanently on the statute-book.
Part V. consists of a number of loan acts which have fully performed their functions and need not be repeated in an edition of the Commonwealth statutes.
Part VI. consists of a series of bounty acts, the operation of which has expired by reason of the expiration of the period to which they related.
Part VII. consists of a number of miscellaneous acts which it is proposed to repeal because they are obsolete. Some of them were passed for a specific purpose; for example, the purposes of the Geophysical Survey Act of 1928, which provided for the carrying out of certain geophysical surveys, have now been fulfilled. All relate to the past, and there is no need to preserve them on the statutebook.
In the Fourth Schedule a number of tax acts are repealed, and there is a necessary saving clause allowing the collection of amounts that have not yet been paid.
The Fifth Schedule is a long one, but it is devoted simply to removing the Customs Tariff matter which is now obsolete - for example, matter which related to a rate of duty which was in force only until a date which is now past, and which has been replaced by a new rate. Altogether, the bill amends some 85 acts and repeals just under 500 acts. I feel sure that the bill is one which will meet with approval from both sides of the House, and will be passed without delay.
.- The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) may rest confident that his hopes will be fulfilled. This is one measure upon which the Opposition does not proffer a single word of criticism. In fact, we are very pleased to offer our cordial support of the bill. I take this opportunity to thank the AttorneyGeneral for his courtesy in making available to me an advance copy of the bill, and an advance copy of his secondreading speech; also, for permitting me to discuss the matter with the Parliamentary Draftsman. The AttorneyGeneral, in the course of his comprehensive speech, said all that it was necessary to say in explanation of the purposes of the bill. We accept without hesitation his assurance that no alteration to the substance of the law will be involved in the passage of this measure. That assurance was given to me personally by the Parliamentary Draftsman in the course of the discussion that I had with him. On behalf of the Opposition, I congratulate the SolicitorGeneral and the Parliamentary Draftsman, and all those associated with him in this work, which will prove to be a great convenience to everybody concerned in the making and administration of the law; and, indeed, to every one who is obliged to refer to the federal statutes.
The work, when completed, will be a monumental one. Its preparation must have involved the expenditure of much time by officers of the Attorney-General’s Department,and by the Parliamentary
Draftsman and his staff, in particular. It must have involved the most detailed and expert survey of federal statute law. I can imagine the painstaking effort involved at a time when heavy stresses were imposed on every member of the staffs concerned. The reprint will incorporate all the laws passed up to the 31st December this year. Therefore, it will be necessary to defer the passage of the bill through the House of Representatives until all the other legislation on the programme has been disposed of, so that due account may be taken of changes in the law effected during the present sessional period. This work will be a monument to the officers of the Attorney-General’s Department, who have exertedthemselves to catch up long arrears that accumulated since 1935. One can well imagine the pruning and consideration of all the acta that have been passed during the last fifteen years. The completion of this consolidation up to the 31st December, 1950, will appropriately mark the completion of 50 years of law-making by the Commonwealth Parliament.
– in reply - It is intended to delay the passage of the bill through the House of Representatives until the last moment so that we may incorporate such additions as maybe necessary because of legislation that will bo passed between now and the end of the sessional period. I join with Senator McKenna in expressing deep appreciation of the excellent work done by the Parliamentary Draftsman and his staff in producing this measure for the Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
. Will the Attorney-General. (Senator Spicer) inform honorable senators what will happen to the records relating to the various acts that it is proposed to repeal ? I have in mind legislation relating to the payment of bounties for the encouragement of new industries in Aus tralia. The records would be of value should it become necessary to pass similar legislation in the future. One such industry that I recall is the manufacture of internal combustion engines for motor vehicles.
– No records will be destroyed. The acts that will be repealed can always he found in old editions of the statutes. This bill merely provides that the acts mentioned shall no longer have legal force.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– Order! In accordance with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented: -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1950 -
Nos. 62 to 64- Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association; Association of Architects, Engineers, Sur. veyors and Draughtsmen of Australia; and Amalgamated Engineering Union of Australia.
Commonwealth Public Service. Act - Appointments - Department -
Attorney-General’s - I. B. Asman, H.R. F. Kaulla, L. J. Parker.
Civil Aviation - E. B. Mulholland, J. S. O’Rourke, K. S. Wylie.
Works and Housing - B. Buffinton,
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for-
Defence purposes -
Beverley, Western Australia.
Postal purposes -
Dungog, New South Wales.
Horseshoe Creek, New South Wales.
Koraleigh, New South Wales.
Young, New South Wales.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 November 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1950/19501121_senate_19_210/>.