19th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Eon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 11. a.m., - and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether it is a fact that on Friday last, on the instructions of the general manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Mr. Moses, the 12.30 p.m. news broadcast over the national broadcasting stations was delayed until 12.45 p.m. in order to permit the continuation of a cricket broadcast? Is it also a fact that the 12.30 p.m. news broadcast is usually rc-broadcast by. commercial broadcasting stations and that a number of listeners, who were anxious to hear the latest news on the grave war situation in Korea, telephoned the Australian Broadcasting Commission to complain about the interference with that broadcast? Does the Minister approve of the action of the general manager of the Australian Broadcasting -Commission in delaying an important news broadcast at a critical time such as the present in order to broadcast news concerning sporting events which, in any case, would also be included in the news bulletin ?
– I shall confer with the Postmaster-General and bring to his notice the matters raised by the honorable senator. I shall obtain for him a considered reply as early as possible.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs been drawn to a report which appeared in the Brisbane Telegraph of the 2nd December concerning duty imposed by the Government on rayon piece.goods in June of this year? Will the Minister state whether the Government at that time imposed a duty of ls. 6d. a square yard on such goods, and will he also say whether the Government removed or modified that duty’ in November last? ‘
– The question asked by the honorable senator is scarcely in order, since a message has been received from the House of Representatives concerning legislation designed to give effect to the matters raised by the honorable senator. I think that it would be better if those matters were considered during the debate on that legislation.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister for Trade and Customs, with the statement that it is reported, in to-day’s press that a world record price for wool of 372d. a lb. was recently, paid in Victoria. I- ask the Minister whether, in view of high wool prices, America’s preparations for war and the inflation that is occurring, both in this country and in America, he will discuss with other members of Cabinet the questions of appreciating the Australian £1 to parity with sterling, the imposition of certain economic controls and other factors that affect the economy of this country? It appears to me to be Unreasonable for Australia to continue in the way in which it is going.
– Much as the ability and all-round knowledge of the honorable senator is appreciated by the Government, it is not the intention of the Government to take him into its counsels in the handling of the problems that confront it.
– I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Prime Minister, to the promise that was made by the Prime Minister, in the joint policy speech that the right honorable gentleman delivered on behalf of the present Government parties to establish an all-party foreign affairs committee. The situation in Korea and the Far East generally is serious. ‘ Can the Minister say when the committee will bc established?
– I am not in a position to indicate to the honorable senator the steps that have been taken or are proposed to be taken in connexion with the subject-matter of his question.
– Aeroplanes operating between Melbourne and Tasmania have to fly over approximately 190 miles of water, and I understand that- during the forthcoming Christmas vacation approximately 100 flights a day will be made between Melbourne and Tasmania by passenger aircraft. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation say whether the Department of Civil Aviation has a flying boat or an amphibious aircraft stationed at either Melbourne or Launceston ? If an aircraft of that type is not available, will he request his colleague to ensure that, in the- interests of safety, there shall .be stationed at either Melbourne or Launceston ah aircraft suitable for landing on water that could be used if an ordinary passenger aircraft were forced down while flying over Bass Strait ?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation, and supply him with an answer to it as soon as possible.
– Will the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport say whether the Government has received a report of the business that was transacted at the conference of State representatives which discussed traffic laws and road safety measures ? The Minister informed the Senate recently that the conference was to be held early last month.
– A meeting of technical men representative of all the States was held. The meeting submitted 33 recommendations to the State Ministers for Transport, and some of the State Ministers have already acted upon the recommendations. I have not with me at the moment a record of the recommendations, and I cannot say offhand how many of the State Ministers have acted upon them, but I shall obtain that information for the honorable senator, I hope to confer with the State Ministers for Transport- upon road traffic and road safety problems early in the new year.
– Recently, I placed on the notice-paper a question regarding the investment of war gratuities in the current Commonwealth loan. In view of the fact that the Parliament is about to rise for the Christmas recess, and as the loan has already been floated, I should like to know whether an answer to my question is yet available.
– I shall endeavour to obtain an answer for the honorable senator by to-morrow’s sitting.
– In view of the increased cost of . living and the extreme national importance of the work being done by widows with dependent children, will the Minister for Social Services consider raising the pension of such widows to the equivalent of the basic wage ? Will he also consider the lifting of the limit of income which may be earned by persons in receipt of widows’ pensions ? Has any consideration been given to the erection of communal flats for such widows ?
– All the considerations mentioned by the honorable senator, with the exception of the last one, were taken into account by the Government when it made its recent decision to increase social services benefits. Although no specific proposal for the erection of communal flats was considered by the Government, consideration was given to proposals of a somewhat like character, and the Government came to the conclusion that functions of that kind came more properly within the province of the State governments than that of the Australian Government. The Commonweath and State Housing Agreement contains provisions for the protection of ex-servicemen by the allotment to them of a proportion of the dwellings built under the agreement. Arrangements have also been made, not in the agreement but. by correspondence with the States, for some priority to be given to pensioners in the allocation of houses.
– As every honorable senator is aware, the duties of officers in charge of federal members rooms in the various States have been greatly increased as the result of the enlargement of the number of members of this Parliament. These officers perform many important functions on behalf of individual members and senators which greatly assist them in the discharge of their parliamentary duties. Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that no increase has been made in the salary range of those officers for a considerable time? Is he also aware that their duties have increased considerably as a result of the enlargement of the membership of this Parliament? Will he confer with the Prime Minister with a view to extending to these officers what is their just due? I point out that they come under the administration not of the Public Service Board but of the Prime Minister’s Department.
– In common with all other honorable senators who have had dealings with these officers I have always had extended to me extreme courtesy and consideration. As far as I am aware they come under the jurisdiction not of the Prime Minister’s Department but of the Department of the Interior. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper I shall refer it to the proper authority for reply.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister administering war service homes by pointing out that the erection of a group of war service homes in Launceston has been nearly completed. At present there is no war service homes valuator stationed permanently in Launceston, and the proposed occupiers of the homes are compelled to transact all relevant business with the Hobart branch of the War Service Homes Division. Will the Minister make representations with a view to a liaison officer being stationed in Launceston?
– The matter that has been raised by the honorable senator concerns departmental administration. I shall refer his representations to the Minister for Works and Housing.
– I preface a series of questions to the Minister for Trade and Customs by pointing out that today’s press reports that there has been a further heavy buying of Australian wool at record high prices by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Is the Minister aware that a necessary prerequisite to war is the stock-piling of essential war materials, in which connexion wool i3 given a high priority by experts in modern warfare? Did the Minister accompany the Prime Minister and other members of Cabinet to the celebration of the Soviet’s national day on the 7th November at the Soviet legation? After drinking to the success of the Communist world revolution, the good health and strength of Generalissimo Stalin, and .the success of the Soviet’s armed forces, did the Minister agree to a bilateral trade arrangement to permit the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to buy large quantities of Australian wool and other essential commodities that are in short supply in overseas countries? Will the Minister inform the Senate of the manner in which payment for such goods is to be made by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? If payment is to be made in materials and goods, will the Minister state what goods and materials Australia is to receive under the bilateral trade agreement ?
– The asking of such questions brings the prestige of the Senate into low repute. They reflect no credit on the Senate in general and on the honorable senator who has asked them in particular.
– I object to the manner in which my questions have been answered by the Minister. I asked three separate and complete questions. The first was, whether the Minister was aware that to-day’s press reports further heavy buying of Australian wool by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The second was whether the Minister was aware that the stock-piling of essential war materials such as wool-
– Order! There is no necessity for the honorable senator to repeat his questions. The Minister cannot be compelled to answer them, but he may do so if he so desires.
– As the questions are based on a grossly untrue and very offensive premise, I refuse to answer them.
– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer inform me whether he is yet in a position to answer a question that I directed to him on the 10th October, concerning the payment by the Commonwealth of local rates on its properties throughout Australia ?
– I am not in possession of any information on this subject additional to what I have already conveyed to the honorable senator. However, I shall inquire whether there has been any development, and advise him as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister thefollowing questions, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the followinganswer to the honorable senator’s questions : -
The United Kingdom market for Australian! fruit pulp has decreased considerably during the past year because of the increased production of berry fruits in the United Kingdom and European countries, and the fact that the Ministry of Food is holding large stocks of European and Australian pulp. The Ministry of Food is investigating market outlets within and outside the United Kingdom, and it is felt when existing stocks are liquidated market prospects in the United Kingdom for Australian pulp will improve. It is not possible to estimate the extent to which the partial loss of the United Kingdom market this year will force growers out of the industry. Primarily it is the responsibility of any industry to adjust itself to changed conditions of supply and demand. The Commonwealth Government will of course give consideration to any specific proposals which may he made and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture announced a few days ago that he was having inquiries made into the present position of the small fruitgrowers in southern Tasmania. I have also been informed that the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee is interested in this matter and has under consideration a plan of assistance to the berry section of the industry, covering export promotion of berry pulps and horticultural research. The Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee is a statutory body deriving its authority from the provisions of the Sugar Agreement Act 1945 which ratifies the Sugar Agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government. The specific functions of the committee are set out in clause 7 of the Schedule to the Sugar Agreement Act 1946. Provision is made for two representatives of fruit-growers on the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee, one representing growers of canning fruits and the other, : growers of non-canning fruits. For many years the growers of non-canning fruits have been ably represented on the committee by Mr. P. A. Feil, whose death occurred only a few days ago. The late Mr. Feil, was a Tasmanian berry-grower but he was of course required to consider the welfare of fruitgrowers in all States. Appointment of a successor to the late Mr. Feil is under -consideration.
– by leave - Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) asked me to provide him with details of the present coal situation and to indicate what the prospects were for the future of this industry. I have received the following information from the Chairman of the Joint Coal Board, Mr. S. F. Cochran : - Coal production in New South Wales for the calendar year 1950 is expected to be a record. It will be approximately 2,000,000 tons more than the 1949 figure. Imports and increased pro.duction in the other States will account for a further 1,000,000 tons, making a total increase of supply of 3,000,000 tons. However, this figure will fall short of estimated requirements by 3,000,000 tons, and it is expected that demand will increase considerably each year. Australia’s requirements of black coal are expected to increase from 19,500,000 tons this year, to 23,400,000 tons in 1954. A new power station is being built at Lake Illawarra in New South Wales, and is expected to be in operation at the end of 1951. Its estimated coal consumption is 500,000 tons a year. The power station now under construction by the Playford Government at Port Augusta in South Australia will consume annually approximately 2.000,000 tons of coal, all of which will be carried by rail from Leigh Creek. Plans are being made, and will be ratified by legislation which the Parliament is expected to pass this week, for the conversion of the existing 3-ft. 6-in. gauge railway line from Port Augusta to Leigh Creek, a distance of 160 miles, to a 4-ft. 8-£-in. gauge line as soon as possible. Steps are being taken to increase open-cut production from 1,600,000 to 5,000,000 tons annually, mainly in New South Wales.
– Mainly in the western and northern districts. The new Lake Illawarra power station will be supplied from an underground mine on the southern field. J. and A. Brown and Abermain Seaham Collieries Limited, who supply coking coal to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited have decided to extend mining operations at Stockrington. A washing plant will be installed which will enable the company to supply the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited with greater quantities of coking coal. This coal is urgently required, and production by J. and A. Brown and Abermain Seaham Collieries Limited, together with that of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited mines, should be sufficient to meet that company’s requirements at Newcastle within eighteen months, by which time the organization hopes to be in full production on highly mechanized lines. The Department of
Immigration has decided to assist to obtain a further 1,500 men locally and overseas for the coal-mining industry as soon as possible. To meet the extraordinary transport demands, the New South W ales Government has placed large orders for new rolling stock. Dollar funds have been granted for the importation of diesel-electric locomotives from the United States of America. Additional orders have been placed in the United Kingdom.
SenatorArmstrong. - Have the orders actually been placed for the diesel-electric locomotives ?
– I think so. The dollar allocation has been made. Improved loading facilities are being providedbyport authorities at Sydney and Newcastle. The South Australian and Victorian governments have arranged for further sample shipments of Callide coal, which has limited uses. The Victorian Government is considering making a contract for a large quantity of that coal. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey) has indicated that there will be no extension of subsidy payments oh imported coal until all the useable Callide coal that can be transported is taken up by the South Australian and Victorian governments. The Minister has offered his technical men from the Bureau of Mineral Resources to co-operate with the New SouthWales Department of Mines and the Joint Coal Board in a comprehensive survey of coal deposits in that State. A ministerial conference attended by the Minister for National Development, the New South “Wales Minister of Mines, Mr. Arthur, and myself, was held in Sydney on Monday last with a view to co-operating in this important work. Mechanical equipment is being lent to various contractors. So far, orders have been placed for equipment valued at £4,000,000, and most of it has been delivered.
– How much of that equipment was ordered by the Chifley Government ?
– I understand that most of it was ordered while the Leader of the Opposition was at the helm, and 1 give him full marks for that.
Report of PublicWorks Committee.
– As chairman, I present the report, together with minutes of evidence, of the Public Works Committee, on the following subject : -
Proposed extensions to the Telephone Exchange Building at Lismore, New South. Wales.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Motion (by Senator Cooper) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Interim Forces Benefits Act 1947.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by SenatorO’Sullivan) proposed -
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 bill be now read a second time.
The bill before the Senate is intended to effect two amendments of the Interim Forces Benefits Act and to express the following principles: (1) That the provisions of the legislation for members of the forces, 1939 to 1945 war, consisting of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act and the Re-establishment and Employment Act relating to war pensions, repatriation benefits, reestablishment, &c, shall apply to members of the forces who enlisted before the 1st July, 1947; and (2) that the benefits available to members of the forces who enlisted after the 30th June, 1947, shall be those expressed in the Interim Forces Benefits Act. The position in relation to the second principle is that war pensions,. medical treatment, and a fair range of other general benefits are available to members who enlisted at any time during the period 1st July, 1947, to the 30th June, 1949, for a period of not more than two years. For the purposes of the act, this class is designated “ Interim Forces and the definition reads as follows : - “ Member of the Interim Force “ means a person who, after the 30th day of June, One thousand nine hundred and forty-seven, and prior to a date fixed by the Minister by notice in the Gazette, enlists or re-engages in, or is appointed or re-appointed to, the Naval. Military or Air Forces of the Commonwealth for a term not exceeding two years.
It is in connexion with this definition that the first amendment arises. The definition covers not only members of the Permanent Forces, but also members of the Citizen Forces. Comparing it with the definition of “ member of the Forces “ in the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act and the Re-establishment and Employment Act, it is seen that a member of the Citizen Forces, to come within the terms of that legislation, must be one who was “ enlisted or called up for continuous service for the duration of and directly in connexion with the war “, but the condition of continuous service does not appear in the definition of “member of the Interim Forces “, and, therefore, as it now stands, it includes members of the Citizen Forces enlisted for part-time service. That was not intended. The definition should be amended by inserting after the word “ Commonwealth “ the words “ for continuous service “. In the Interim Forces Benefits Act that does not appear, although it had always been accepted by the army authorities that the intention was not to include the Citizen Forces. I am informed that no case has come before the army authorities that the amendment of this act will affect by taking away something that had already been given.
The second amendment arises in respect of section 4 of the act, which expresses the principle that in respect of members who enlist or re-engage for service after the 30th June, 1947, the benefits which accrue to those members by reason of that service shall be those provided in the Interim Forces Benefits Act. It is faulty, however, in the words describing the service which read “ by reason of their service after that date “, which means, “ after the 30th June, 1947 “. This should be amended by the insertion of the following words : - by reason of their service after the date of that enlistment, re-engagement, appointment or re-appointment, as the case may be.
This amendment is necessary in order to protect the interests of those members who enlisted before the 30th June, 1947. For instance, a member may have enlisted in 1942 and continued hia service after the 30th June, 1947. Perhaps he was discharged in 1948 and re-enlisted for further service. The service from 1942 until the time of discharge in 1948 should be covered, for the purposes of such legislation as the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation. Act and the Re-establishment and Employment Act. As the position is at the moment, the member would lose the benefit of the period between the 30th June, 1947, and the date on which he was discharged in 1948, because the act says that it shall cease on the 30th June, 1947. For that period he would receive no benefits under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, but would receive benefits under the Interim Forces Benefits Act. For the purposes of continuity of service he is entitled to have his service date from the time of enlistment in 1942 until the date of discharge in 1948, and to be entitled to the benefits of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. For that reason, it is desired to make it possible for the member, during the period from the 30th June, 1947, to the date of his discharge from his war-time service, to be covered by the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act in respect of pension and medical treatment, because he may have suffered some incapacity during that period. In cases of the kind that I have indicated, it is desired to give the member the full benefit of the act. The bill is designed to effect the two amendments to which I have referred, and I commend it to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murray) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Spicer) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1940-1949, and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) proposed -
That bo 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 bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to preserve in force for a further year a small number of surviving National Security Regulations and Orders, the operation of which, by virtue of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946-1949, would otherwise cease on the 31st December, 1950. Several of these regulations and orders are now necessary only in order to complete winding-up operations or to continue in force awards, orders or determinations made in pursuance of provisions which have now been repealed. Others of the regulations and orders - and these form the majority - it is desirable to continue only until such time as it becomes possible to transfer their provisions from their emergency setting into permanent legislative form.
The Government set out early in the present year to get rid, as quickly as possible, of unnecessary war-time controls. Petrol rationing - no longer, it is true, under the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - was the first to go. Butter and tea rationing followed not long after, and the rationing regulations on which these were based have since been repealed,as have the food control regulations and others. A few of the regulations, which hitherto have been retained in order to assist in bringing about a gradual and orderly return from war conditions to conditions of peace, must now be considered also in relation to the increasing defence needs and commitments of Australia, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and of the United Nations. In happier circumstances they might, perhaps, have been allowed to lapse; indeed, some of them possibly have already ceased to have legal effect. Whatever the theoretical position may be, it is necessary in the interest of defence that these regulations shall he in force during the coming year. The bill makes express provision for this purpose.
I have in mind particularly, but not exclusively, the National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations, which are concerned with the control of interest rates, and the National Security (Capital Issues) Regulations, which deal with the issue of capital, the giving of securities and mortgages and the taking of deposits. Since the early part of this year, applications under the capital issues regulations have been granted automatically, and, hut for the great change that has come about in the international situation in recent months, the Government would have hoped to repeal these regulations before this. The necessary acceleration of our defence programme has, however, led the Government to reconsider the necessity for some control of this kind. Serving, as they do, to assist in preventing the dissipation of resources necessary to defence on activities which do not fulfil defence purposes, these regulations contribute to the defence of Australia. In accordance with the intimation recently given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) of the Government’s intention to re-institute a system of capital issues control, the regulations will be continued in force.
Regulations retained to facilitate winding-up operations or to preserve awards, determinations and orders are the National Security (Apple and Pear Acquisition) Regulations - which, I believe, are significant now only in relation to Western Australia - National Security (Industrial Peace) Regulations, National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations, National Security (Maritime Industry) Regulations, National Security (Coal Mining Industry Employment) Regulations and certain of the provisions of the National Security (General) Regulations and the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations. The acquisition of apples and pears was discontinued in 194S, but the regulations are retained to enable the Common wealth to wind up affairs in connexion with previous acquisitions and also to fulfil an agreement entered into with Western Australia whereby the Apple and Pear Marketing Board set up under the regulations is the medium through which the 1950 crop has been marketed. The continuance of some of the regulations I have mentioned has necessitated that other related regulations be continued, such as the National Security (Staff of War-time Authorities) Regulations, which make provision for the staffing of the Apple and Pear Marketing Board and the payment of its members. If the Government had not been obliged to continue in force the regulations relating to the board, the National Security (Staff of War-time Authorities) Regulations would have been repealed, because they serve no purpose other than in relation to the board.
Regulations which will eventually be incorporated in permanent legislation, which is already in various stages of preparation, are the National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations, the National Security (Medical Benefits to Seamen) Regulations, the National Security (War Deaths) Regulations and several of the National Security (General) Regulations and the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations. These regulations are being kept in force until the Government can put similar provisions into permanent legislative form.
In one connexion or another, I think I have now mentioned most of the regulations and orders which the bill will keep in force, and have explained the reasons which make this desirable. There are, of course, no new regulations in question. The purpose in most cases is purely transitional, to complete the tidying-up process in relation to the emergency legislation of the war of 1939-45. The few regulations which the bill will keep on foot to meet new defence needs belong to a different category, but I do not think honorable senators will be disposed to dispute the necessity for them. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Senator McLEAY (South Australia-
Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Trans port) [11.51].- I move
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to amend the principal act, the Commonwealth Railways Act 1917-1936, in three instances. First, clause 2 inserts in section 4, the definitions section of the principal act, a definition of “ carriage “. The inclusion of this definition is necessary owing to the failure of a departmental prosecution under section 69 (1.) (a) against a person who travelled in a truck without having purchased a ticket. The court held that a truck was not a carriage within the meaning of the act. The amendment will, therefore, ensure that the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner will have power in future to provide for redress against offences of that type.
Secondly, by clause 3, it is proposed to repeal section 15 of the principal act. Under that section, the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner is excluded from the entitlement of long service leave or furlough during his occupancy of the office of commissioner. That provision is in direct conflict with the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees Furlough Act, which is intended to apply to all persons employed by the Commonwealth. The amendment therefore removes an inconsistency and enables the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner to enjoy the same furlough privileges as do other Commonwealth employees.
Clause 4 repeals section 51 of the principal act and inserts an appropriate section in its stead. This section of the act relates to the maximum salary of a position to which the commissioner may appoint, transfer or promote an employee without the approval of theGovernor-General. The proposal now before the Senate increases the previous maximum of £500 to a salary or wage of £850 per annum in regard to any employee. At the time of the enactment of the existing legislation - the 22nd September, 1917 - only five positions in the Commonwealth railways carried a salary in excess of £500 per annum, and no individual wage in excess of that amount per annum was paid. Honorable senators will, of course, realize that with increases of salary and wage rates brought about by increases of the basic wage, cost-of-living adjustments, loadings and increases of marginal rates, the position is now entirely different and that too great a restriction is placed on the powers of the Commissioner in respect of promotions and transfers of employees. In fact, I have been advised that no adult officer employed on the North Australia Railway receives a salary or wage less than the present prescribed maximum.
Although the maximum of £850, above which an appointment or transfer of an officer requires the approval of the GovernorGeneral, may not seem high in present circumstances, clause 4 (2.) provides that, in ascertaining the salary of an office, no account shall be taken of salary variations in accordance with variations of the cost of living or of any allowance. The effect of this clause will be that the actual salary maximum will be considerably higher than £850 per annum when account is taken of cost-of-living adjustments and other allowances. In the existing legislation, the £500 includes all allowances, other than travelling allowances. I commend the bill, which is merely a machinery measure, to the favorable consideration of honorable senators It has been originated in the Senate and has yet to be considered by the Houseof Representatives. In these circumstances the Opposition might agree to allowthe bill to go through without delay.
Debate (on motion bySenator Sheehan) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion bySenator O’Sullivan) read a first time.
Minister for Trade and Customs) [11.56].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to re-insert, in two places in excise item 11 of the schedule to the Excise Tariff, the words “ per gallon “ which were inadvertently omitted from the final copy of Act No. 3 of 1948. The item refers to petrol. As the 1948 act validated collections since the 15th November, 1946, it has been necessary to insert in this bill a clause validating collections since that date at the rate of Sid. a gallon. The amendment is purely of an administrative character and does not vary the duties being collected at the present time. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ashley) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’Sullivan) read a first time.
Senator O’SULLIVAN (Queensland-
Minister for Trade and Customs) [11.58].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The tariff proposals to which this hill relates were introduced on the 9th June, 1950. They cover woven rayon piece goods and timber. In respect of the former, increased duties were imposed -by Customs Tariff Proposals No. 2 of 1950 for the purpose of assisting the development of an important Australian industry. Regarding timber, the same tariff proposals provided for a reduction of customs duties on imported building timber during such period as is prescribed by departmental by-law. The objective of the Government is to cheapen the cost of home building during such period as the demand for timber is so high and supplies of suitable Australian timber are inadequate to meet requirements.
The weaving of rayon piece goods in Australia dates back to the period of World War II. A serious shortage of fabrics essential for defence and the looming shortages of fine woven fabrics for civilian use, compelled the Government of the day to set about organizing
Ihe local production of fine woven materials to take up some of the lag in overseas supplies brought about by war. Parachute material was being produced in Australia early in 1941 and by the middle of that year additional looms, urgently procured from the United States of America, were producing fine woven defence fabrics in Victoria. In the postwar period, because of the greater security of supplies of raw material, this new industry concentrated on weaving rayon for the peace-time requirements of the nation and at the same time it was materially extended. To-day, four up-to-date plants are weaving rayon piece goods in Australia. These plants are as modern as any in the world. Access to latest development is complete and an army of skilled Australian workers turns out cloths which compare favorably with the products of overseas manufacturers. About 50 per cent, of the labour employed is female labour.
With the rehabilitation of industry in the United Kingdom and some parts of Europe, the infant Australian industry, in which over £5,000,000 capital is employed, was challenged by imports from overseas, and towards the end of 1948 the Minister for Trade and Customs of the day referred to the Tariff Board the question of the rates of customs duties considered necessary to protect the Australian rayon-weaving industry and allow it to develop. The board furnished its report in August, 1949. The board’s inquiry revealed that the industry was important and warranted protection, and further, that the level of assistance needed was ls. 6d. a square yard against imports from the United Kingdom. However, the board considered that this assistance should be granted partly by payment of a bounty and partly by imposition of increased customs duties. For a number of years a revenue duty has been collected on artificial silk piece goods. The rates were 1-Jd. a square yard under the British preference tariff and 4d. a square yard under the mostfavourednation tariff. Such a recommendation was outside the scope of the Minister’s reference to the board under section 15(l)(d) of the Tariff Board Act, which section covers only the imposition of new or increased duties. The question of bounties is referred to the board under another subjection of the act. The board, however, refrained from specifically recommending how much of the required assistance of ls. 6d. a square yard should be given by bounty and how much by duty, leaving such question to be decided in accordance with budgetary conditions and government financial, policy.
The Government, after considering the board’s report and carefully ascertaining; all of the issues pertinent to the question of granting assistance by bounty, or partly by bounty, came to the conclusion that if budgetary equilibrium were to bepreserved bounty-cum-duty assistance wasa doubtful method, and moreover, that the future welfare of the local industry was dependent upon the form of assistance which will warrant and encourage its speedy expansion. Protection by customs duties was the quickest and most effective way of achieving this result, as it allowed local manufacturer* to compete for that portion of the An> tralian demand for woven rayon fabrics for which their combined plants have the capacity.
Further speedy development of the rayon-weaving industry is so important to Australia for strategic reasons, that after carefully deliberating over all of the issues involved, the Government decided to give the local industry protection wholly by customs duties. The Government was also influenced by the recognized need of Australia to secure self-sufficiency in the production of fine yarns from indigenous raw material and the consequential importance of the successful and early establishment of rayon yarn production in Australia by the world-known Courtaulds organization. Unless rayon weaving had first been developed and soundly established in Australia, much of Courtauld’s Australianproduced yarns would have no market.
The Tariff Board, when making its recommendation for assistance to rayon weaving by means of bounty-cum-duty was much influenced by the speculated effect on the cost of living brought about by the imposition of substantial duties on rayon piece goods when local mills did not have the capacity to supply the major portion of Australia’s requirements. The Government could not agree with the board’s fears in this connexion for the following reasons: - (a) There were substantial stocks of woven rayon in Australia imported prior to the 9th June, 1950, which would for a considerable time cushion the effect of the new duties while Australian production was steadily increasing; (b) Australian weavers were emphatic that no price increases in respect of their products to the extent of the protective duty of ls. 6d. per square yard would take place; their claim, they said, was for larger markets, not higher prices; (c) the powers of admission under by-law given ito the Minister by the Customs Tariff could be used fis circumstances warranted, in exempting from the new duty a substantial quantity of the lower priced cloth, which would tend to bridge the gap between Australian production and Australian requirements.
The Division of Industrial Development, as a result of research which its officers conducted in 1949,’ found that Australian requirements of woven rayon piece goods annually were approximately 50,000,000 yards, made up of 19,000,000 square yards of printed fabric, and 31,000,000 square yards of plain dyed and woven patterns. The local textile printing industry is far advanced, both in respect of screen printing and roller printing of cloth to meet Australia’s need9 in this field by using imported grey cloths. Rayon fabric in the greige or grey cloth is, as a part of the plan for the sound development of the rayon industry, not at present subject to the protective duties. There are at least nine establishments in the Commonwealth with uptodate plant capable of printing at present at an annual rate of over 10,000,000 yards. It is expected that by June, 1951, this capacity will have increased to 16,000,000 yards per annum, and by December, 1951, to over 21,000,000 yards per annum.
So far as straight dyed and woven pattern fabrics are concerned, the supply position for the next six months should be amply catered for from the following sources: - (a) locally held stocks of imported rayons landed in Australia prior to the 9th June, 1950; (b) the cloths ob order overseas which were admitted under tariff by-law concession because they were on order overseas at the 9th June, 1950; (c) the production of local rayon weavers; and (d) cloths admitted under by-law concession recently announced. It is expected that the production capacity of local weavers between January and June, 1951, will be about 16,000,000 square yards per annum, and by December, 1951, it is expected to have stepped up the production capacity to 23,000,000 square yards per annum. The overall position is indicated, by the following table: -
Honorable senators can see that the production position has materially changed since the Tariff Board inquiry, which took place in 1948, when Australian production totalled only about 10,000,000 square yards per annum. By the end of 1951, even assuming that consumption increases by 10 per cent, to 55,000,000 square yards per annum, of which straight dyed and woven - pattern fabrics will account for about 33,000,000 square yards, local weavers claim they will be able to supply a very substantial part of the requirements in this field. Similarly, rayon printers contend that by December, 1951, they will be in a position to supply practically the whole of the 22,000,000 yards per annum required in the printed fabric field, which total requirement is estimated on the findings of the Division of Industrial Development in 1949, with an allowance for a possible 10 per cent, increase.
The persistent representations which I know have been made to honorable senators, as they have been made to me, that because of the limited production capacity of the local industry the new duties will result in a continuing colossal burden being borne by users of woven rayons, lose much of their strength when the above figures are studied. I trust that those persons who to-day criticize this proposed protection to the Australian rayon weaving industry will be as mistaken in their predictions as were those who, in almost identical words, criticized the protection that was afforded to the wool textile industry in 1925.
It must be appreciated that some of the figures that I haw quoted are estimates and anticipations. However, some force and strength is afforded them by the history of the development of comparable industries under protective tariffs. For instance, in Canada, after the imposition of protective duties on woven rayon piece goods, the local industry developed by bounds. The production figures were -1930, 10,000,000 square yards; 1948, 104,300,000 square yards; 1949 (estimated), 120,000,000 square yards. Similarly, in the case of Australian wool textiles, after the imposition of protective duties, the capacity and the production of Australian weavers of wool tweed and other wool cloth developed greatly. The figures were- 1925-26, 5,993,000 square yards; 1930-31, when the duty was 35 per cent, plus 2s. a square yard, 10,732,000 square yards; 1942-43, 39,746,000 square yards, the duty then being 17£ per cent, plus 6d. a square yard.
I have already announced the decision to grant admission of 9,000,000 square yards of cloths in the lower price range shipped to Australia on or before the 30th June, 1951. Between now and that date the position will be kept under review, and thereafter, a further submission will be prepared for reference to the Tariff Board. The rayon weaving industry is important to Australia for defence purposes. It represents at present an investment of over £5,000,000 in capital and funds employed in its operation. It employs over 2,000 people, and the potential employment is very much greater. It opens a particularly attractive avenue for the employment of female labour at decentralized factories. At present about 90 per cent, of the labour in the industry is located in country centres.
In regard to those items in the schedule relating to timber, I point out to honorable senators that, in accordance with the Government’s policy of assisting the home builder wherever possible, the duties on timber of a kind normally used for building purposes have been temporarily reduced to the lowest ratespossible, having regard to Australia’sinternational commitments. It is generally known that the local timber industry is unable, under present abnormal conditions, to produce all the timber needed, for building purposes. The quantity of timber at present being imported is only helping to bridge the gap between local supply and demand. Consequently, the application of the protective duties in the Customs Tariff would result only in an added burden to the consumer.
The new concessional duties are being administered under by-laws which determine the duration of their operation. Consequently, should it be found necessary or desirable to withdraw the by-law concession in respect of a particular type of specification of timber this can be done administratively, and the timber would automatically become dutiable under the substantive items which have been maintained in the tariff. For the present, the by-laws are operative in regard to shipments entered for home consumption on and after the 8th June, 1950, and up to shipment made to Australia on or before the 31st December, 1950. Whether the by-law provisions should be extended beyond the 31st December, 1950, is at present the subject of an inquiry by the Tariff Board.
Debate (on motion by Senator Arnold) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Repre sentatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator
O’sullivan) read a first time.
Senator O’SULLIVAN (QueenslandMinister for Trade and Customs) [12.15”. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) proposal No. 1 is merely consequential upon customs Tariff Proposal No. 2, which has been already dealt with. A number of timber items which appear in proposal No. 2 also appear in the Canadian preference tariff, .and corresponding amendment is, therefore, necessary. The amendments are of a consequential nature in order to maintain the margin of preference granted to Canada.
Debate (on motion by Senator Courtice) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 5th December, (vide page 3578), on motion by Senator SPICER -
That the bill bc now read a second time.
– This bill deals with a matter of vital importance to Australia, namely, the defence of the country. There is one point of agreement between all parties in this Parliament, and that is the need for providing for the adequate defence of Australia. Honorable senators will see that there is room for a difference of opinion as to what constitutes adequate defence, and as to the best methods to be adopted for the defence of Australia. Fortunately, there is not in Australia an isolationist party. All parties are concerned with Australia’s welfare. They recognize Australia’s part in world affairs as an integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The history of Australia since federation has made it clear that none of the political parties in this country is isolationist. Therefore, in our broad approach to this matter, there is a large area of agreement between all the parties.
I shall refer to the platform of of the Labour party on defence so that honorable senators may appreciate the breadth of vision of the Australian Labour party. The first item in the platform under the heading of “ Defence “ is as follows : -
Maintenance of Australia as an interval part of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Thus, the very first plank of the platform of the Australian Labour party is the negation of isolationism. I continue the quotation as follows : -
Complete co-operation with other units of the British Commonwealth of Nations in order to ensure co-operative action against aggression.
That, too, negatives any suggestion of an isolationist outlook. The outlook of the Labour party in this Parliament was exemplified in July last when it, together with the other parties represented, agreed to the taking of action to resist aggression in Korea. I again quote from the platform, of the Labour party -
Co-operation with the British Commonwealth of Nations in support of the United Nations organization for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security.
For purposes of comparison only, and not for the sake of trying to gain any political advantage, I now quote the first paragraph of the Liberal party’s platform on defence -
Universal national service for an adequate continuous period. This should include physical training, and medical and dental inspection and attention.
Without being in any way critical of that platform, or at this moment, even of that particular proposal, I point out that there is far greater breadth of vision in the platform of the Australian Labour party than there is in the platform from which I have just quoted. The great lesson to be learned from the last war is, if my view be correct, that man-power in the armed services is not enough, and that no country can wage war on a global scale or even on a large scale, unless its armed forces are backed by an industrial potential sufficiently strong not only to establish lines of communication, but also to maintain them. That was demonstrated most amply in World War II. I do not belittle the sacrifice of the democracies and the terrific efforts that they made in various ways in that war but I do say that the element which, more than any other single element, influenced the course of the war was the industrial might of the United States of America. The throwing of that element on the scales was the deciding factor. From the time that the United States of America inaugurated its wonderful lend-lease programme right up to the termination of the war, it was the industrial power and resources of that
Country, more than any other factor, that brought victory to us. Applying to Australia’s defence that principle, let us have a look at our position. First, we have a population which, according to international standards, is completely insignificant. Moreover, a large bulk of our population is concentrated in a few large cities. The area of Australia is vast and its coastline enormous. Our economy is such that we depend for vital commodities on overseas sources of supply. I am thinking in particular of petrol. There are other deficiencies and defects in our economy, some of which are being rectified, but serious and important defence disabilities still exist. Our industrial capacity, although growing rapidly, is limited. Therefore, from whatever aspect one views the defence of this country one must acknowledge that industrial potential and productivity must be one of our first considerations. Industrial potential depends upon the civilian population. When men and women are transferred from civilian life to the armed forces, they are no longer available to help to develop industry and to make a contribution to production. In a community such as ours, we may very easily reach the point at which there will be a disbalance between the man-power and woman-power in the armed forces and that in civil industry.
– There has not been any possibility of that occurring up to this stage.
– I shall deal with the dangers of the present position before I conclude. I am merely establishing certain principles on which I propose to found my contribution to this debate. I say again that we may easily reach the point at which there will be a state of unbalance, dangerous both to the armed forces, and to the civilian population. The correct apportionment of man-power must he determined by somebody in authority. It is a problem of which there are two aspects. The first is the global strategy of the democracies, including their obligations to the United Nations. The second is Australia’s role in the South-West Pacific area. It may well be that the best role that Australia can play in the defence of that zone is that of an arsenal and supply depot. Should that prove to be so - I am not arguing at the moment that it will be - then there should be greater emphasis on industrial potential and production than on the provision of armed forces, essential as the latter may be, in whatever defence situation should arise. I suggest to the ‘Senate that the determination of the size of the Australian defence forces should rest upon three separate factors. The first, of course, is an assessment of our role and responsibilities in the international field. The second factor is an assessment of war danger or war potential in relation to Australia itself, and the third is an assessment of our strength and our weaknesses in the field of production, which means, of course, the industrial field. Very rapidly saying something about each of those factors, I shall deal first with our role in international affairs.
As one of the many matters to be considered, and probably the only one on which I shall now touch, I refer to the obligations that we have assumed as a member of the United Nations. We come at once to Article 43 of the Charter of the United Nations, which states -
I repeat those words -
The article concludes -
They shall be concluded between the Security Council and Members or between the Security Council and groups of Members and shall be subject to ratification by the signatory states in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.
It is completely clear that Australia has accepted an obligation to enter into an agreement, at the instance and initiation of the Security Council, to provide armed forces that will be at the disposal of the United Nations for the maintenance of world peace. That is an honorable obligation which this country, in common with many other countries, has accepted. Nothing whatever has been done under article 43, and the fault lies with one nation. It lies in the untractablity of Russia, as a , member of the United Nations organization, and in particular, as one of the members having the power of veto in the Security Council. In considering our international obligations we must have regard to the one that I have just cited. The moment we look at that obligation, several questions arise. What is to be the composition and the strength of that force? Are its members to form an entirely separate force, or are they to be integrated in our own defence forces? If they are, what forces will take their place when they are called away under Australia’s obligation to the United Nations organization? I pose those questions because I wish to point out that there is the obligation, under an international agreement, to provide armed forces. It is not for Australia, in the first instance, to determine the composition of those forces. The obligation is plainly an’d necessarily cast upon the Security Council. It would be completely futile for Australia to say, in effect, “ We shall provide such air, naval and military forces as we shall determine proper “, because the Security Council, on an estimation of the whole world position, might well say to Australia, “We do not need ground or naval forces, but we do need air forces “. That is one commitment that must be assessed and faced.
I now propose to pass to the second point: the immediate war danger to Australia. I say “ immediate “ because the situation is so complicated to-day as to be almost completely unpredictable. In embarking upon any discussion of that subject, one must do so with a great deal of diffidence. The situation in the international field changes almost from day to day, but reviewing very rapidly the war potentials of the countries of the world, I think Germany and Japan, the enemies of the allies in the last war, may be at once dismissed from consideration. They arc both disarmed and occupied coun- tries. As far as any immediate threat to Australia is concerned, they can be entirely discarded. I suggest that the real threat and the only threat to Australia to-day - in fact, the only threat to world peace - comes from Russ ia which is the only country from which it can come. In assessing the danger of that threat, two matters need to be considered. The first, and most important, is what is in Russia’s mind ? Does ‘ it want war ? The second point is what is the industrial potential of Russia? That is the key question, as far as I am concerned, in assessing the position for myself. Has Russia sufficiently built up its industrial potential in order to enable it to launch large-scale offensives, requiring long lines of communication and demanding backing from a powerful industrial economy! On that question we can only form our own opinions, but we know that the industrial power of Russia was centred in the western part of that country, and we also know that the whole of that area was laid waste during World War II. What was not demolished by the Russians themselves in carrying out their scorched earth policy was later shattered by the Germans. I am not in a position - and I do not know whether the Government is either - to assess how far Russia has gone towards restoring its industrial activity in that area or elsewhere. I believe that that is one of the important factors in assessing where we are heading in the matter of war with Russia. Regard must be had to the fact that right from the Arctic Circle, the whole of western Russia down to Odessa on. the Black Sea, was completely laid waste, and that in the same area Russia lost, during the war years, some i.0,000,000 young men between the ages of eighteen and 30. I shall presently refer to some information which purports to have come out of Russia and which shows that there is a labour famine in Russia to-day.
– What is the honorable senator’s opinion?
– I do not believe that Russia will embark upon a world war until it is certain that its industrial strength has been restored and can be continued. I have grave doubts whether it has yet reached that position. On that point, I wish to refer the Senate to the
Sydney Sunday Herald of the 8th October, 1950, and with the concurrence of the Senate I shall incorporate in Hansard an article appearing in that newspaper. It reads as follows: -
Another batch of Englishmen has just left Moscow, bringing with them the latest impressions of feeling behind the Iron Curtain.
Charles Foley, Foreign Editor of the Daily Express, flew to Stockholm to interview them and ask them the questions every one wants answered on Russia. Here is his story.
In the dining-saloon of the good ship Sestroretsk, four days out of Leningrad, under a golden bust of Stalin, we discussed the great questions of war and peace, and what - after Korea - the Russians mean to do.
The topic came in with the bortsch - a steaming tureen of beetroot and cabbage soup which is the lifeblood of Russia, old or new.
It raced on through the dinner so that the delicious jam blini, the pancake that every Russian adores, grew cold and callous with neglect.
The Sestroretsk is a floating speck of Soviet territory where free speech reigns. In this ship there is a fine cross-section of travel characters - students returning from the Soviet “experiment”, diplomats melting after the long Russian freeze, Russians, Finns, and, finally, the Belgian chef from the British Embassy in Moscow.
Also aboard are five British people: Mr. Richard Jones, who edited the British Ally in Moscow until it was squeezed out; his assistants, Mr. Harold Laycock and Miss Mavis King; the British Assistant Naval Attache, Lieutenant Alford; and Mr. Laurence Kelly, son of the British Ambassador to Russia.
On the plane out from London, I had jotted down lots of the sort of questions we are always asking about Russia. Here is how the answers came out -
After an unusual pause, every one said there would be no world war of Russia’s contriving for at least three or four years.
And the reasons? First, Russia is not ready for the gigantic effort it would need to destroy Britain and quell America.
Second, the mood of the Russian people is all for peace and the reconstruction of their shattered land.
Third, the standard of the people’s life, though improving, is still abysmally low. The ruins of the German war must be rebuilt. The people must be housed. Great industrial projects must be carried through.
All this must take priority over war. however tempting a defenceless Europe may look.
No question of it. But, outwardly at least, for the identical reason that the West is rearming - to preserve the peace by being ready to meet (or to anticipate?) any assault. Russia’s peace-time economy is adjusted to take the strain of permanent semimobilization.
Russia’s labour and agricultural forces are regimented into shock brigades.
Overtime in theStakhanovite manner is popularly called “ the peace watch “. The peace watch could easily become the war watch. But not yet.
The first difference is that Stalin probably believes it; if so, the fact brings little comfort; fear, as much as greed, may set alight the world.
The second difference is that Stalin hasno equivalent for Hitler’s lebensraum demand. Again, the forgotten Russian people mustbe taken into account. The Russians’ mouths do not water for foreign conquests.
The Russians love their own country, their own piece of earth. Even to get engineers to tend the new plants in the East, higher wages and bonuses must be offered.
Of course, but Stalin has always tried to husband the lives and energies of his people. He wants to win always by the cheapest means - warfare would be the dearest - andhe might lose.
Probably content. The masses have known nothing better, and they are told every hour how brutally Russia was misruled before the Russian revolution, which few now remember.
The cost of food and drink is high, buthas recently been brought down - a genuine drop of 25 per cent.
Though rationing has been abolished, there are still queues everywhere; that is normal. The longest queue, two miles on Sunday, is for Lenin’s Tomb. The second longest is” for milk;Russians do not dream that milk might be delivered. People are fairly well dressed in Moscow, but they consider soup and black bread an adequate diet - that is normal, too.
The scale of projected re-armament in the West has been a shock. On the other hand, Russia believes it will lead us into astronomical expense which must eventually bring the capitalist system down in ruin. This will open the way to world communism.
The American atom bomb horrifies the Russians; they see hope in British “moderation “.
It protects both Russian industry and Communist ideas from foreign competition, which, at this stage, would be fatal.
It facilitates the task of telling the people what is good for them and no more. This in addition to keeping out the spies, who would evaluate the true strength of Russia and deprive her of her master weapon - bluff.
Shortage of young men. What few one sees, three out of ten are in uniform.
Moscow’s newest hotel is being built by German prisoners. Women do most of the hard labouring work, from concrete-mixing to navvying
Stalin has a labour famine on his hands. Ten million men died in the war, 5,000,000 arc under arms, and although millions have been drafted from the Baltic States, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and so on, the cry is still for more.
Work armies have marched to the East tn set up a new development scheme - 6,000,000 people in the last four years.
Industry is still shifting away from the dangerous West, and the present four-year plan must have more workers or crash.
I invite attention to the first question concerning the prospects of an early world war and the answers given by the people of whom the question was asked. Honorable senators will see that to the question, “ Is Russia preparing for eventual war ? “ the answer was, “ No question of it “. The eighth question, which deals with the industrial potential of Russia, in my view is the key to the whole position. I do not pose those questions and the answers to them as my own. I present them as some justification and support for the view that I have already expressed that industry, or the lack of it, is the factor that will determine whether Russia goes to war in the near future. For what it is worth - and I am not placing a high value upon it - my own assessment is that Russia is not ready for war.
I should like honorable senators to consider another danger to Australia. I refer to Asia, which unquestionably has unlimited man-power. It has also the most insignificant industrial power. I cannot see how any Asian power could establish the necessary lines of communication in the reasonably near future and, above all, maintain them, without industrial backing. Many years must elapse before Asia can become strong industrially. It will be afflicted with internal problems, and with its own domestic problems. The truth, as far as one is able to gauge it, is that a terrific nationalist movement is pervading all of Asia and that nothing will stop that movement. Unfortunately, the Communists, with their quickness of action and perception, have gone in on the wave of a people’s movement, a nationalist movement, and have militarized it. . They are directing it away from its true purpose, which is to give to those people self-government, and a better standard of living. They are attempting to prevent the democracies, which are ready, under the United Nations organization, to help them, from building up their standards for the future.
Sitting suspended from 12.^5 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the sitting was suspended, I was rapidly reviewing the war dangers to Australia and dealing with the situation in Asia. Before I pass from that phase of my speech, I should lite the Senate to look at Asia through the eyes of an American, Owen Lattimore, whose book, The Situation in Asia, was published not very long ago. The opening paragraphs of that book present the position from the viewpoint of an American, and I think it wil) be informative to the Senate if I read them. They are as follows: -
Asia is out of control. From Suez to the western Pacific we face one problem after another, in one country after another, which we cannot settle either by an American decision or by joint action with countries that we consider our allies.
From the Arab countries to China, the old forms of ascendancy, protectorate or rule cannot be reasserted by military action. We have already had enough experience to prove that the more modern and highly equipped is thu military force that is need, the more expensive is the failure eventually afflicted on it by cheap methods of guerrilla warfare that require no industrial support. An attempt to stun the peoples of Asia by atomic warfare is nut of the question, except for madmen. Asia hae no highly developed nerve centers to lie paralysed. Atomic warfare - the ultimate in the use of technology for the purpose of conquest - would in Asia only create a poisonous devastation which it would be beyond the resources even of America to revive economically or administer.
Nor can Asia be starved nut or coerced economically. Everywhere in Asia the local resources are ample enough to enable the people to survive without being more miserable oven if they resist military coercion: and that degree of misery is one which they are prepared to endure Being willing to hold out, tl,ey 1 have the upper hand over- us; for we need the oil, rubber, tin, and other products of Asia even more than the peoples of Asia need our capital, tractors, textile and mining machinery, technicians, and teachers.
Asia, to sum it up, has become a part of the world where the great powers can no longer lay down the law as they did in the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century. We must negotiate; and we can only negotiate successfully if people in Asia are as well satisfied with what they get out of negotiated agreements as we are with what we get out of them. This limitation applies to Russia as well as to the other great powers.
I suggest that that book, which is objective and highly critical even of American policy, is one that will repay reading by anybody who is interested in the colossal problem that Asia presents to-day.
I leave the question of war dangers and pass to the third point that I pose to the Senate - the assessment of the strengths and weaknesses in our economic and production fields. It is significant that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in the course of his third broadcast to the nation on defence, recognized the necessity to divide our limited resources to meet the requirements of the armed forces and civilian needs. The right honorable gentleman, in the broadcast that he made to the nation on the 25th September, said -
Should we not begin to re-organize our economy so that what is most important is first served, regard being paid all the time to producing some balance between the civil and the military demands made on our total resources?
He continued -
The Government is proposing to set up a National Security Resources Board, not unlike that which lias come into existence in the United States, to examine our civil and military resources and needs, and to make such recommendations to the Government as may be necessary to produce some effective pre-war planning and priorities.
The Opposition agrees wholeheartedly with that approach, which recognizes plainly the very problem that I put to the Senate - that, with limited resources, a balance must be struck. I do not know whether the board foreshadowed by the Prime Minister has yet been established. The broadcast was made on the 25th September. If an announcement has been made regarding the establishment of the board, I have not read it. I should like some member of the Government to inform the Senate of what has happened in relation to that board. If it has not been established, why not, and if it has been established, what progress has it made!
– Its establishment has not been delayed for as long as the Opposition delayed the Communist Party Dissolution Bill.
– I gather from the interjection of the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) that nothing has been done in that connexion.
– That is not true.
– I should like to know whether the board has been established.
– An announcement on that matter will be made shortly.
– I gather that the board has not yet been established. The Opposition recognizes the need for the board. That is an approach that we ourselves would make to the problem. The statement that was made by the Prime Minister emphasizes the point that I have been attempting to make on behalf of the Opposition, which is that it is necessary, in approaching the defence problems of this nation, to make a complete assessment of our resources and then decide what priorities shall be accorded and what is a proper balance between the defence forces and the army or civil workers, upon whose production the defence forces must necessarily rely. 1 agree with the Prime Minister that exact knowledge must be the basis of that approach.
The Opposition believes that in dealing with this problem it is necessary to make an assessment of the role of Australia in international affairs, to review the wai dangers to Australia, and to . make an assessment of our civil and military needs. I put it to the Senate, on behalf of the Opposition, that in each of those three positive lines of approach to the allimportant problem of the defence of this country there is room for great inquiry and investigation upon a completely nonparty basis. Every party in the Parliament is concerned with the adequate defence of Australia. Speaking on behalf of the Opposition to-day, I am attempting to do so without heat and without seeking to import politics into the matter. J hope that I shall be able myself to maintain that level and that other honorable senators will observe it in the debate that, ensues. We may differ as to the best courses to pursue in dealing with this, vitally important matter, but can there be a better approach than the one that has been foreshadowed by the Opposition? Let us get down to a consideration of vital factors by members of an all-party committee of the Senate, or preferably of both Houses of the Parliament, who would necessarily find large areas of agreement between them and could reduce the differences between us to a relatively small compass.
I turn to the physical defences of Australia as we have known them under Labour administrations and as we know them to-day. I shall refer briefly to the legal position. Under the Defence Act, in a time of war all males in the community between the ages of 18 years and 60 years can be called up for full-time service in the citizen forces. The Defence Act has contained that provision for a long time. Provision is made in sections 125 to 137 of the act for military training and service. Those sections provide for the training, after the publication of regulations, of junior cadets between the ages of twelve years and fourteen years, and of senior cadets between the ages of fourteen years and eighteen years, and also for the establishment of citizen forces covering persons in the 18-26 years age group. Persons in that latter group can be required to undergo sixteen days’ annual training, of which eight days must be served in camp. The law as it stands at the present time enables the Government, if it likes to proceed by regulation, to prescribe 120 days’ military training over a period of eight years for members of the military forces, and for members of the naval and air forces, 25 days’ training a year over a period of eight years, or a total of 200 days, seventeen days each year being served in camp. The only other reference that I wish to make to the Defence Act is that section 49 provides that the Citizen Military Forces may not be sent outside Australia. As the Minister pointed out in his second-reading speech, the Government does not propose to alter that provision. So much for the law.
Now for the deeds. A Labour government was in power when the war ended. Resisting the war weariness and apathy that necessarily followed the successful conclusion of a war that everybody believed was fought to end all wars, in 1947 a Labour government addressed itself actively to the problem of putting the defences of Australia in order. On the financial side, it made provision for the allocation of £250,000,000 for defence purposes, to he expended over a five-year period at the rate of £50,000,000 a year. That was the largest and most ambitious defence programme that had been undertaken in Australia in peace-time. The Labour Government did not hesitate to make money available for defence. Two years later, £45,000,000 was added to the £250,000,000, making the average annual expenditure over the f*e-year period nearly £60,000,000.
Turning to the composition of the forces, it was decided to establish permanent military forces, six times larger than the pre-war forces. The aim was to establish a brigade group and to recruit 19,000 men. That approach succeeded so well that when the Labour Government went out of office, after only two years of the five years defence plan had run, there were 14,861 men in the regular army, n figure that closely approached the target of 19,000 men. The target strength for the Citizen Military Forces was 50,000 men at the end of the five-year period. After two years had passed, there were 16,459 members of the Citizen Military Forces. That was not a high figure, but ] ask the Senate to remember that the objective of 50,000 was to be attained at the end of five years. A definite momentum for the attaining of that objective; had been generated.
– How many of the 16,459 members of the Citizen Military Forces were active soldiers and not men engaged in administrative duties?
– At that time there were 16,459 members of the Citizen Military Forces who had been recruited under the Labour plan. The target strength for the naval forces was 14,753. In November, 1949, just prior to Labour going out of office, there were 10,14:8 men in the Navy. Great progress had been made towards the achievement of the objective. I have only to mention that it was Labour which set about the purchase of two aircraft carriers, established a naval air arm and embarked on the establishment of the shipbuilding and ship repairing industries in Australia, to impress on honorable senators the fact that Labour was wide awake to the defence needs of this country.
The aim for the Air Force was to recruit 13,092 personnel. Of these, 9,073 had been recruited when the Labour Government relinquished office. There was also vast development in the manufacture of aircraft in this country. As the result of Labour’s efforts, the Vampire jet fighter, another jet fighter of a modern type and a. jet bomber were put into commission. The Department of Supply was established to pay adequate attention to munitions and to give to this country a measure of self dependence that it had never previously known. I have already indicated Labour’s record in the matter of aircraft production. The Senate is aware of the vast strides that were made in research for defence purposes, not only through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization but also through the Department of Supply and the guided weapons testing range project at Woomera. Great emphasis was placed by Labour on the development of technical aspects of war and defence. I supplement what I have said about physical things by directing the attention of honorable senators to two more worthy contributions by Labour to the defence of Australia. The first was the vast migration scheme which Labour developed to enlarge our population; the second constituted, the great developmental projects which were prepared and some of which were already in hand when the Labour Government went out of office. I am thinking particularly of the contribution which the Snowy Mountains project will make not only to the development of Australia but also to its defence. It will take time to complete, but at least a start was made on it by the Labour Government, and I remind the Senate that a start has to be made with everything.
I have outlined very rapidly the physical approach that was made by Labour to the problem of putting our defences in order. It is interesting to know what was said on that subject by one of the leading military advisers of this Government, a distinguished soldier who is now Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant-General Rowell. When, in 1949, there had been some criticism of Labour’s defenceplans, GeneralRowell took the unprecedented step of making a public pronouncement on the subject. I propose to read to the Senate what he is reported to have said according to the Melbourne H erald of the 11th April, 1949-
SenatorSpicer. - The situation has changed since then.
– I agree that it has since changed somewhat and that it will continue to change. A government can only plan the defences of a country in the light of the circumstances which exist from day to day. No government can say that the present situation will remain static for the next five to ten years and then ignore any changes that take place. If there is one matter in respect of which there must be flexibility it is the matter of defence. In April, 1949, the Melbourne Herald contained the following report of General Howell’s assessment of the defence position : -
Self constituted critics were doing untold harm to Australia’s defence organization, Lieutenant-General S. F.Rowell, Vice-Chief of the General Staff, said to-day.
The big majority of citizens had a negative attitude to Army problems, he said, instead of goodwill to those dealing with them.
Addressing the United Services Institution, GeneralRowell said it was a disturbing fact that the Army had to be defended by a serving soldier.
The critics condemned the Government’s defence policy as a whole, claimed the Army was a poor show, and in general terms said our state of preparedness for war was far less than before the Second World War.
The Senate will observe that the General faced these matters very frankly. The report continues -
This criticism was having two effects.
Firstly, it tended to a writing down of the services ‘ in the minds of the general public. This was bad because no service could have a high morale without the goodwill of the community.
Secondly, it perplexed the young man who had ideas of joining the regular army or the C.M.F. “I feel the time has come when someone quite free from any political bias should put the case for the army”, GeneralRowell said.
Opposition to the existing order was primarily based on the categorical statement that anything less than universal service was useless.
Universal service would involve a very large increase in the defence budget, but defence could not be considered in several watertight compartments. “ If you propose to spend a lot of additional money on a system which benefits only one service”, he said, “you must then think again and decide whether, from the overall defence aspect, these extra funds should not be devoted to all three services. “ I am certain my point of view is more nearly realistic in the present world strategical situation than that of those who continue to urge universal service as the first of our defence needs.
– That was eighteen months ago.
– I agree that it was approximately eighteen months ago. The report continues - “ The major post-war problem was to get back to a framework of formations and units on which Australia could build in an emergency”, said GeneralRowell.
This meant a heavy programme of training cadres of regular personnel for C.M.F. units, and re-conditioning equipment and training depots. “ I say, advisedly, that, to the extent necessary to meet an emergency, we have reestablished our basic organization “, said General Rowell.
Civil industry offered greater inducements, but the army was getting a steady flow of recruits for the regular army, in view of the chronic, all-round shortage existing to-day.
C.M.F. recruiting was up to expectations. Although the target figure was 50,000, it was never anticipated that this would be achieved in “ one wild rush “. “ With extremely slender numbers between the two wars, we produced the officers for four A.I.F. divisions who lost nothing by comparison in war with those of other democracies “, said General Rowell.
A major element in the army to-day was the Cadet Corps, with a strength of about 25.000.
This was one of the most valuable branches. “Don’t think we are complacent and that everything in the garden is lovely”, General Rowellsaid. “This is not so. We have a whole bunch of problems whichcanbe solved in due course”. “ In this, we need the goodwill of the community, particularly in helping rather than penalizing these young men who have the spirit to join the C.M.F.”
In reply to critics who slated the army for alleged lack of preparedness, General Rowell said that to-day, in vivid contrast with the pre-war era of antiquated artillery, broomsticks and no modern transport, the army had a wealth of equipment which in its main essentials was as good as that anywhere in the world.
There was a greatly improved organization with which to face a future emergency.
Head–quarters and regular cadres in C.M.F. formations and units were stronger and better all round, and there was a great reservoir of trained men who gained their experience “the hard way.
Their value as a potential reserve would last a long time.
– He referred to ex-servicemen.
– There would be a. large army of trained men who had seen active service whose potentiality for further service would remain unimpaired for a considerable time. The report which I have read indicates the views of General Rowell at that time, if he now favours universal military training, the Government has a responsibility to place before the Senate the broad lines of the more recent advice tended to it by General Rowell and the reasons for it. If the General Staff supports the proposition which has been placed before us we should be told that it does so and why. It is dear from what General Rowell said in April, 1949, that he did not then favour it. I do not criticize him if he has since changed his views. I acknowledge the need for flexibility in this matter. All I say is that it is the duty of the Government to make clear to the Senate the factors which influenced him to change his views.
Labour is proud of what it did in re-ordering our defences after the war. It has nothing for which to apologize. It is proud of its achievements in a war weary Australia. Several Ministers of this Government have been generous enough to pay tribute to the Labour Government for having laid the foundations of the present defence policy of this country. What this Government is now -doing is merely an extension of whatwas done by the Labour Government. The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) in his second-reading speech acknowledged that the foundations of the existing defence policy had been laid by the Labour Government. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) paid it a similar tribute when in his first broadcast on defence, he frankly acknowledged that the previous Government had developed a sound defence policy. On that occasion the right honorable gentleman said -
Much has been done. A sound naval programme ‘.was put in hand by the previous Go vernment, and my own is pressing on with it and extending it.
This Government is merely building on the excellent foundations that were laid by the Labour Government.
– The honorable senator wants to stop it from building on them.
– Not at all; but I should like to know whether the Government has taken into account all the factors that I have dealt with and others which I shall touch upon during the remainder of my speech. We approve of the increases in pay granted by this Government to the members of the armed services. They should help to attract men to the services, but we believe that the Government made an error by providing that those who volunteer in the citizen forces and the regular army must undertake to serve anywhere in the world. .1 invite any honorable senator opposite to tell us what effect that provision has had on the personnel already in the armed services. How many men have refused to re-attest on that basis, how many will drop out of the services as a result of that decision, and what effect has it had in preventing the success of the recruiting campaign? I do not think that the Government will claim that the recruiting campaign has been a success.
I propose now to deal with a statement made in a broadcast address by the Prime Minister late in September last, which, in my opinion, has done more to retard recruiting for the armed services than has any other statement on the subject. The statement to which I have referred was as follows : -
Eight through these broadcasts you will find emphasis upon this modern conception of Australian defence. We must face the facts of international life. If there is to be a third world war. the safety of Australia will not be protected here in Australia but in some other area where, in the opinion of the Western democracies, Australian participation is necessary for victory.
I underline the words “ where, in the opinion of the Western democracies, Australian participation is necessary for victory “. If Australian troops are to be used anywhere in the world the decision so to use them should be made wholly and solely at the Australian level. That announcement was one of the factors which has militated against the success of the recruiting campaign. I join with those Australians who contend that if Australian troops are to be sent out of this country the decision that they be so utilized must be made wholly and solely by Australia, having regard to its assessment of the international position. Such a decision should not be left to the “Western democracies or to any other country however important that country may be. In the limited time at my disposal I shall have an opportunity to comment on only one further aspect of the Prime Minister’s broadcast in which he said -
Training of these compulsory trainees will take place with existing organized units of the three services.
Does that mean that the trainees are to be integrated with the existing citizen force and permanent army units? Are all three components to be trained together as part of the same unit ? If tha t is done difficulties must arise where in one unit men who have volunteered for service anywhere in the world are trained alongside men who have been conscripted and whose activities will be restricted to home defence.
– Difficulties arose from that in the last war.
– That is true. It is inevitable that in these circumstances there will be all kinds of psychological considerations and incompatibilities that will not be good for the morale of the Australian armed services. If the emergency that faces Australia is grave, does any supporter of the Government seriously suggest that the putting of 500 near children into the Navy in twelve months, 3,000 near children into the Air Force, and 10,000 near children in to the Army is going to do anything at this time to strengthen the defences of this country? We can concede that it is an approach to a situation where there will be developed a reservoir of trained personnel in this country. [Extension of time granted.] I contend that that approach is hopelessly inadequate. If the danger to Australia to-day is real, then this bill is unquestionably not the answer to it. Does the Government consider that it is adequate to prepare the defences of Australia ? I am sure that no honorable senator opposite will claim that it is, and that no supporter of the Government will suggest that the proposed training of lads seventeen and a half years old is the answer to the danger that threatens this country. They would not be front-line troops. This is merely the veriest beginnings of a scheme designed to establish a large trained reservoir of trained personnel in this country. But for the defence of Australia in any danger that threatens it now or in the immediate future, I contend that that contribution would be completely negligible.
– Is that the reason why the honorable senator is not going to support the bill?
– I suggest toSenator Mattner that the Opposition would like answers from the Government to the questions that I have posed. We stand for adequate defence. We invite the Government to give us an opportunity to co-operate with it in determining what is adequate. The Opposition has nominated only Labour senators to sit on the committee of inquiry that I have suggested, for the reason that the Government has indicated that its supporters are not prepared to serve on such a committee. If the Government desires to re-consider its decision, the Opposition would consider any amendment proposed. Inquiries need not take a long time. If they only build an area of three quarters of agreement between the Government and the Opposition is it not the best thing that could” happen to this country that there should be a large area of agreement between us as to what constitutes the best approach to defence? Considerations of what constitutes adequate defence of this country, and what is the sound and practical balance that must be maintained between the workers in industry and membership of the armed forces, are problems that should be approached on a non-paTty basis.
I have indicated to the Senate on another occasion that the Opposition favours the establishment in this chamber of committees to look objectively at broad national problems. To-day there is no problem of greater importance to this country ‘than, the problem of defence, and here is the perfect opportunity to enable a committee, in a relatively brief recess, to function and see to what degree we can get together on this all-important subject. The Opposition approaches the problem with an open mind. Its objective is the adequate defence of this country. Can there be a better approach by the Government than to enunciate these two problems and give us an opportunity to confer as to the facts? Let us ascertain, on the facts, whether some form of compulsion is desirable or necessary. If the dangers to Australia are real, I point out that it has taken the Government eleven months to even introduce a bill to make this very tentative, delicate approach to a very grave problem.
– But the honorable senator has already averred that the measure goes too far.
– I have indicated that the Opposition does not consider that this bill is the answer to the problems that face Australia to-day. So far as compulsion is concerned, the Labour party has never shirked compulsion when it was deemed’ to be necessary.
– Order ! I think it would be better for the Ministers to keep quiet. Senator McKenna is undoubtedly trying to put his case clearly and quietly. As we are faced with the possibility of a world catastrophe, it is incumbent on every honorable senator to discuss this matter calmly. There is no need for these repeated interruptions.
– Labour has not irrevocably set its face against compulsion. During the war period the Labour movement considered the problem, and in no other country in the world was there a more rigorous element of compulsion introduced into the armed forces and into the civil population than was introduced by Labour from 1943 onwards, when this country was in real danger. Labour has been concerned before with compulsory military training. What the Opposition puts to the Government to-day is that we should he given an opportunity to assess the facts. I emphasize that the problems that face us to-day are: How grave is the present situation; what are the risks of attack upon Australia in the reasonably near future; are our defences adequate; what are our weaknesses in production and in resources; at what point is disbalance reached in the allocation of man-power to defence and civil needs ; what is to be Australia’s role in global or regional war; what are to be our physical obligations to the United Nations and to the Security Council; what are the reasons for the apparent lack of success in the present recruiting campaign; what effect upon enlistments has there been by the provision that troops must be prepared to serve anywhere in the world? These are fair questions for the Opposition to pose to the Government, and it is completely fair and reasonable that the Opposition should suggest an all-party committee where those problems can be faced frankly in the interests of Australia. I hope that the Government will reconsider its attitude towards the committee that I foreshadowed earlier to-day. I repeat that if the Government cares to suggest any amendment, the Opposition would welcome it. I could almost say in advance, without knowing its terms, that it would be acceptable to the Opposition.
– I have listened with a great deal of interest to Senator McKenna’s speech on this very important subject. As other honorable senators who have had far more experience in actual warfare than I have had also wish to speak, I shall confine my remarks to the history of Labour’s attitude to this all-important subject of adequate defence during the last twelve years. I do not think that 1 have ever heard Senator McKenna make a poorer speech on an important subject. He even asked, towards the end of his remarks, whether the Government considered that the present position was serious. I have only to remind the honorable senator of the following statement in yesterday’s issue of the Sydney Momma Herald: -
The Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, said to-day the Australian Government regarded the international position as “extremely grave” a ml the danger “ more real than at any time since the end of the war “.
– The right honorable gentleman is a better judge than the honorable senator who has just interjected.
– What does Senator Harris know about it?
– Order !
– You can name me if you wish, Mr. President.
– Order ! If Senator McCallum. addresses the Chair in that manner he will have to pay the penalty. I am not prepared to take cheek from any honorable senator. If I hear from him again in a like manner, I shall name him.
– Another report in yesterday’s press reads -
Washington, December 5th. - “ Because the Communist countries have shown that they will not hesitate to use their military might in armed aggression wherever it suits their evil purpose, the United States must strengthen its military defences”.
Mr. Acheson is reported to have stated ;
We must be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.
Time and again during recent months the Labour Prime Minister pf Great Britain, Mr. Attlee, has drawn attention to the serious situation that, as every member of this chamber knows, has deteriorated very considerably during the last few weeks. In the light of these: circumstances, I consider that Senator McKenna’s speech savoured of his “ riding to instructions “. Let us consider the practical proposition with which we art faced. Because of its majority in this chamber, the Labour party has an obligation to make a decision of very great national importance in this day of crisis Senator McKenna has stated that we are not isolationists. But if we are not propared to play our part and go as far av the people of Great Britain, the other dominions, and the United States of America, and are only prepared to follow the ostrich-like policy that has been laid down by Labour in former years. We can rightly be charged with being isolationists.
During the grim days of the last war many of our citizens viewed with shame Labour’s pleading with the United States of America and with Great Britain to send their conscripts to defend this country. The Labour party did not have tha courage to call upon all people of military age in Australia to play their part. This matter has to be considered in the light of other aspects of the Government’s military programme. I assure the Opposition that the Government is in possession of the latest information about international affairs. The Prime Minister has had the opportunity to confer with the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the President of the United States of America, as well as with leaders in all walks of life throughout the world. We also have our own military advisers. In the light of the advice ‘that we have received wo recommend to the Parliament that in addition to what we are doing in other directions, it is urgent that we should make a start as soon as possible to call up the young men of this country to commence a period of compulsory training in Australia - not conscription for service overseas, but compulsory training for service in this country for a period of six months each year. It is expected that about 30,000 men will be called np for training each year. Admittedly, the calling up of those men will aggravate our man-power difficulties, but the Government has taken that into consideration and has decided that, in the interests of the country, as well as in the interests of the young men themselves, they should be given some military training.
I cannot understand why the Leader of the Opposition, if he views the position as seriously as we do, wants to delay the passage of this measure by referringit to a committee of seven or eight senators, not one of whom would be qualified to express an opinion, at least by comparison with members of the Cabinet, who have all the information at their disposal. The Opposition has the numbers, and it proposes to refer the bill to a committee because it has not the courage to come out in the open and say whether it is for or against the hill until the little coterie of twelve men outside this Parliament, who constitute the federal executive of the Australian Labour party, tell the Labour members of Parliament what to do, just as they told them what to do about the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. According to press reports, the executive will not meet until February next, and the Labour Opposition must try to postpone consideration of this measure until after the meeting. It proposes that the bill should be referred to a committee of Labour senator.:, who will advise the Government and the country as to what should be done. They can hardly be regarded as military geniuses.
I was particularly interested in Senator McKenna’s references to the platform of the Australian Labour party, part of which he quoted. Surely it is deeds, not words, that matter at a time like this. Senator McKenna mentioned -the breadth of vision of the Labour party on the subject of defence. I have been a. member of the Parliament for twelve years, and during that time many debates similar to this one have taken place. In 1938, the government of the day had to face the possibility of World War II. The Scullin Labour Government, which preceded it, had abandoned compulsory military training, and the defences of the country were in a deplorable condition. Where was the breadth of vision of the Labour party then? Experienced men in the Senate tried to persuade the Labour Government to get on with the job, and look to the defences of the country. I propose to place on record the statements of Labour leaders twelve years ago, when Australia was threatened with war, and I point out how similar is the attitude of the Labour party now. The Scullin Government expended £3,000,000 a year on defence. By 1938, the Lyons Government had increased the annual expenditure to £9,000,000, and in 1939 a plan was adopted for tho expenditure of £50,000,000 over a period’ of three years, £14,000,000 to be expended in the financial year 1939-40. It was evident in those days that the Labour party had never recovered from the attitude of mind developed in the days when the party was led by Andrew Fisher and
William Morris Hughes. Those two men left the Labour party because they realized that a section of it was antiBritish, and opposed to the adequate defence of Australia.
I agree with Senator McKenna that this is not an occasion on which to talk politics. The issue is too grave. I recognize that members of the Opposition individually are as loyal and as willing to do the right thing as we are, but they are about to commit a great error of judgment, just as they did in the days preceding the outbreak of the last war. I quote the following from a speech by the Leader of the Labour Opposition, Mr. Curtin, on the 2nd November, 1938, recorded at page 1095 of Hansard- -
I say that any increase of defence expenditure after the Munich Pact so far as Australia is concerned appears to me to be an utterly unjustifiable and hysterical piece of panic propaganda. That is what I say in respect of the alarmist statements that have been made.
– Order ! I should like to know in what way such a quotation can be connected with the bill before the Senate. This is a bill to provide for the calling up of certain persons to undergo military training for the defence of the country. I take it that honorable members would be in order in. touching upon past history, but it is not in conformity with the Standing Orders for an honorable senator to make the whole of his speech an historical discussion about what happened years ago.
– I am trying to show that leaders of the Labour party committed an error of judgment when World War II. was threatening, and I am claiming that they will commit a similar error of judgment now if they use their majority to compel the Government to act as they suggest. Speaking on the 3rd November, 1938, the right honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) spoke the following words, as recorded in Hansard at page 1215 -
The Government is expending much- too rapidly on defence. It is making plans for more than the adequate defence of Australia.
The present honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), speaking on ‘ the 12th November, 1938, made the following statement, which is recorded in Hansard on page 641 -
Personally, I would not spend threepence on armament works or on defence works of any kind in Australia.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) made this statement on the 23rd November, 1938, and his remarks appear in Hansard at page 1976 -
As I pointed out earlier, this Government has, in various ways during recent weeks attempted to create in this country a war hysteria. We were told first of all that, due to the efforts of Mr. Chamberlain, the critical period had then passed and that Australia could enjoy at least a breathing space; but there was no relaxing of effort on the part of this Government in expending large sums of public money on the purchase of war equipment.
That was in 1938, the year before the second world war broke out, when the Lyons Government was expending £9,000,000 a year on defence. I think it may fairly be claimed that it will be necessary for the next ten years at least to take measures for the defence of the country. I agree with Senator McKenna that the potential enemy is, beyond doubt, Russia, and we must play our proper part. Can we imagine anything worse than being embroiled in war within the next two or three years without our young men being trained for service in the Navy, Army and Air Force? It may seem a small effort to call up only 30,000 men for training each year, but after a few years there will be in Australia a considerable number of trained men who could give a good account of themselves should the need arise.
After the last war ended, our distinguished Governor-General, Lord Gowrie, in saying good-bye to us, spoke words that we would do well to remember. Lord Gowrie appealed to members and leaders of all political parties to -
Put your country before your party.
Referring to the fact that Australia had been saved only by a miracle from occupation by the Japanese, Lord Gowrie said -
May the memory of that never fade.
Now, only a few years later, we are threatened with a situation no less grave, and the Labour Opposition is proposing to prevent the Government, which is in possession of all available information, from doing what it believes to be neces sary for the adequate defence of the country. The Opposition has to make an. important and very serious decision. I: trust that the Opposition will not continue to delay the measure. It cannot fool the public by referring the bill to a committee. That would be a cowardly, spineless approach to a great national problem.
Motion (by SenatorAshley) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)
Majority . . 9
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 30th November (vide page 3404), on motion by SenatorSpooner -
That the following papers be printed: -
Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and other services involving Capital Expenditure, for the year ending 30th June, 1051;
The Budget 1950-51 - Papers presented by the Bight Honorable A. W. Fadden on the occasion of the budget of 1950-51;
National Income and Expenditure 1949-50
– When the debate on the Estimates and Budget Papers was adjourned last week, I was emphasizing the necessity for increased production to curb inflation. I said that I did not blame the workers entirely for the lag in production and that we must all share the blame for the position that exists to-day. Obviously there is something wrong with production, because employees in manufacturing industries are more numerous , than ever before, yet output has been increased by only a small percentage in the last few years. Why is production lagging? The Government has endeavoured to improve the position by introducing certain legislation into this Parliament, but its efforts have been thwarted by the tactics of the Opposition. However, there must be many reasons for the failure to increase output substantially. If the workers can point to any problems that they consider should be solved, there is an obligation on us to examine them. We must also examine the system of control in industry, and if we find inefficiency, action must be taken to eliminate it, because all our efforts to increase production will be of no avail as long as inefficiency persists. There must be no waste of man-power. By the introduction of more efficient methods, it may be possible to release man-power from certain industries and to divert it to other avenues of essential production. The Government is eager to do everything possible to keep prices down, because it realizes that unduly high prices are of no value to our economy.
I come now to the defence vote in the present budget. Defence expenditure in the current year is estimated- at £133,383,000, an increase of more than £79,000,000 over actual expenditure in 1949-50. Included in that increased vote, I assume, is provision for the Government’s compulsory military training scheme, which is the subject of legislation now before the Senate. The Government believes that Australia’s defences should be sound, and that compulsory military training is an essential part of any efficient defence scheme. Obviously, the compulsory military training scheme will not be of any value immediately, but eventually it will put us in such a position that we shall be able to mobilize our forces rapidly in the event of a war. At the outbreak of war in 1914, a system of compulsory military training was in operation in this country. The result was that we were able to send a complete division overseas within three months. War was declared on the 4th August, and the first contingent of Australian troops sailed from our shores on the 1st November. Unfortunately, compulsory military training was abolished in this country in the late 1920’s, and when World War II. broke out we were relying entirely on voluntarily recruited militia forces. The result was that many months elapsed before we could send troops into battle. When a country is in danger, voluntary military training is not only inadequate, but also unfair. Under the voluntary system, only those with a sense of national duty offer their services. Others do not regard themselves as being under any obligation to join the forces. Only a system of compulsory military training will enable us to mobilize our forces rapidly should they be required. Even if troops can ultimately be mobilized under the voluntary system, there is no guarantee that reinforcements will be adequate to maintain fighting units at full strength. As deputy director of recruiting in New South Wales in the early days of World War II. while the voluntary enlistment system was still in operation, I was frequently placed in an awkward position. Head-quarters would telephone stating that a ship carrying reinforcements overseas was due to sail shortly, and that the New South Wales quota was 80. I would then be confronted with the task of getting 80 men to sail within perhaps a fortnight. In view of that experience I cannot understand the Labour party’s attitude in this chamber to the Government’s compulsory military training scheme.
– Order ! The honorable senator will not be in order in referring to action taken by the Senate in respect of certain legislation earlier to-day.
– I point out with all respect, Mr. President, that I am not reflecting on any decision of the Senate. I contend that I am in order in discussing the Labour party’s attitude to compulsory military training.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing something that happened in the Senate earlier to-day.
– Very well. I shall make a different approach to the matter. We have read in the newspapers of thu Opposition’s attitude towards compulsory military training. I am at a loss to understand that attitude.
– I rise to order. Standing Order 413 states -
No Senator shall allude to any Debate of the same Session upon a Question or Bill not being then under discussion, nor to any speech made in committee, except by the indulgence of the Senate for personal explanations.
– Order ! I have already stated that the honorable senator is not in order in dealing with matters that were discussed during a previous debate. Generally, of course, discussion on budget papers covers a very wide field, and it is often difficult for the presiding officer to draw a clear line of demarcation. I prevented the honorable senator from proceeding because he was dealing with a matter that had been discussed in this chamber this afternoon concerning the attitude of honorable senators, as disclosed in the speech of Senator McKenna. On the general question of what may be discussed when the budget papers are being dealt with, the answer is that all kinds of matters may be raised, and in my experience in this chamber over the years they have been. In a general way, of course, the matter raised by the honorable senator may be discussed, but to deal specifically with what has happened during a previous debate is distinctly out of order.
– I defer to your ruling, Mr. President, but I wish to say that when the point of order was taken I was dealing with what actually happened during the period when I was deputy director of recruiting and was concerned with the despatch of reinforcements to the Australian Imperial Force, which was then overseas. Having had experience of universal training in 1941 and 1942, I expressed my opinion that the basis of such a scheme is that thereshould be established a body of trained, young men, so that in the event of hostilities occurring in Australia, similar to those that occurred in 1939, there would, not be a recurrence of what happened then. I went on to say that I wasastonished to learn from reports appearing in the newspapers that a certain attitude would be adopted by the Opposition to delay temporarily any decision on that question. Any delay of universal training-
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable senator is endeavouring to discuss a bill, the debate on which has already been postponed, and I suggest that m doing so he is entirely out of order.
– I rise to discuss the point of order-
– Order! Therecan only be one point of order at a time.
– I wish to discuss the point of order taken by Senator Ashley. In my opinion Senator Reid is referring: to the Minister’s speech to the effect that certain measures will be introduced, including one providing for national service under which training’ will commence in the course of this financial year. The Treasurer -proceeded to deal with the expansion of defence preparations. I submit that the honorable senator is simply discussing the item appearing on page 7 of that speech.
– I have already stated plainly and clearly, and I shall repeat it, that I prevented Senator Reid from proceeding because he referred to something that had happened in the courseof the previous debate. I say frankly that this is a difficult question. A discussion of the budget papers enables honorable senators to wander from Dan to> Beersheba or from the Tasman Sea to Cape York. They may travel all over the earth, if they wish. As long as the honorable senator does not deal with statements concerning the attitude taken by honorable senators upon the bill discussed this afternoon, he is in order. I cannot prevent the honorable senator from discussing this matter in a general way, but reference must not be made to the previous debate.
– When the point of order was again taken and it was stated that I was referring to an attitude taken this afternoon, I had said - and I wish to continue along the same lines - that the Government considered, when preparing the budget, that an extra allocation should be made for defence purposes. A special allocation was made for universal training. The Government must have considered, as the result of advice that it had received, that the matter was so urgent that it should be proceeded with immediately. Any delay, regardless of its origin, is not in the best interests of the defences of Australia. T wish to deal with this matter without any display of feeling. I have as much desire as other honorable senators to discuss this important question without political bias. However, from my experience during the first world war, when I was for a considerable period in the front line, and from my experience during the second world war as a deputy director of recruiting, I should hate to see the youth of Australia, in the event of a crisis occurring in this country, faced with the same position a.that with which they were faced from 1939 to 1942. This is why I say that any attempt to delay the passage of this measure is criminal and is unfair to the youth of Australia. It is dreadful to think that in a responsible Parliament there are those who are prepared to delay vital questions and to refuse to face vital issues. In the event of war those people expect the youth of Australia to be prepared to sacrifice their lives, without giving them an opportunity to strike back. They would be untrained, and they would be facing an enemy trained to the hilt and perfectly equipped.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- This all-important document, the budget, provides a means by which the government of the day may be judged. A document such as this reflects the mind of the Government, and shows whether it is forceful or inept. This budget evidences lack of statesmanship. It demon strates that its originators are mere pandering politicians. I do not consider that this budget is an honest one. It appears to me that it i3 an election budget because it consists largely of propaganda. The cries that went up from the Government benches when the Communist Party Dissolution Bill was passed can now be understood, because the Government now has the task of implementing this budget.
This Government is tied to and tied by private enterprise. A much wider vision is needed, and there must be a more equitable distribution of the wealth of the country. The people who made this country - the age pensioners - are receiving very little from this budget. Similarly, the people who saved the country - the ex-service pensioners - are also receiving very little. Surely it J3 possible, from the wealth of this country, to care for our invalid and blind pensioners? This Government is not prepared to do much for them. In fact, the budget seems to be intended as a means of salving a very guilty conscience.
– This Government gives them a little more than the previous Government gave them.
– It is not statesmanlike to refer to what other governments have done. I agree with the honorable senator that other governments could have done more for the people to whom I have referred, and I include Labour governments. But that is not the point. The point is what does this Government intend to do for them.
I have already stated that this budget is a dishonest document, and I shall attempt to verify that by pointing out that the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) is budgeting for a surplus of £400,000. whereas in reality there should be a deficit of £66,000,000. I say that because he is taking from the woolgrowers £103,000,000 and using that money in order to balance the budget. If the £37,000,000 that must be paid for war gratuity to exservicemen is taken into consideration, it will be seen that the budget deficit should bi.’ £66,000,000. The wool “grab” must be passed on. Although it may not have to be repaid, it must be deducted from the budgets of future years. When the Australian Labour party returns to office - and it is hoped that that will be soon - it will have the responsibility of finding that money. This Government says that it will require £700,000,000 with which to run this country. I presume that when the Australian Labour party returns to office a similar amount will be required, but this Government is taking £103,000,000 from the wool-growers and passing the debt on to posterity. It apparently believes that in doing so it will prevent inflation. Most governments are not over-scrupulous about wasting a few shillings. The whole of the £103,000,000 will be expended by the Government, but if the money were not taken from the wool-growers they would save at least a few million pounds of it. I cannot see how the wool deduction scheme will have an anti-inflationary effect. The honest way to combat inflation is to increase income tax upon higher incomes: I know that that is a very unpopular suggestion, but if it were adopted the Government would be able to raise the revenue that it needs.
– What does the honorable senator mean by “ higher incomes ? “
– The incomes of members of the Senate, for instance.
– Does the honorable senator think that £1,500 a year is a high income?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order ! Senator Guy must not interject.
– Another glaring mistake made by the Government was the negotiation of the $100,000,000 loan from the United States of America. Urged by importing firms, the Government has tied Australia once again to the wheels of the American financial machine. If we continue to borrow from the United States of America, as doubtless we shall do under this Government, in a few years’ time Australia will be able to apply for incorporation in the United States of America as a new State. In 1938-39 our overseas debt represented 23 per cent, of our income from exports. When the Labour party vacated office in 1949 the figure had been reduced to 3 per cent., but doubtless it will begin to rise rapidly as the result of this tragic policy of borrowing from overseas countries, especially from America. We financed the last war without recourse to overseas borrowing, and surely we can finance our peace-time requirements in the same way. It has been said- that we require the dollar loan to pay for imports of, among other things, machinery, but I think that we shall find that a great portion of the loan will be wasted upon imports of machinery that we could do without or obtain from soft currency areas.
As I have said, I believe that income tax should be increased, especially upon the higher incomes. There should be no reduction of income tax while many deserving people in this country are living below a proper standard, but it seems that this Government does not consider the welfare of people with small incomes, especially those who are in receipt only of pensions.
The Government has reduced sales tax upon some articles by £1,000,000 a year. The reductions relate mostly to building materials, but they will not do much to reduce building costs, because the present high price of houses is due mainly to profiteering. Sales tax upon other articles has been increased1 by £10,000,000 a year. The Government has claimed that the articles upon which the tax has been increased are non-essential articles, but they include cosmetics and musical instruments, which can be classed as essentials. It would be difficult to persuade a lady that cosmetics were not essential.
One section of the budget speech delivered by the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) showed some thought and promise. It was as follows: -
During the post-war period, it has become increasingly evident that in many sections of commerce and agriculture the pressure of purchasing power has raised business profits to inordinate levels. To a large degree, these profit increases are not the gains of normal business enterprise and activity, but the direct results of high prices for commodities in strong demand. In their turn, increased profits add to the strength of the forces of inflation. As part of an organized and balanced plan to bring these inflationary forces under control, measures are under consideration to draw off some part of the abnormal profits. As a first essential, however, the best method must be devised to ensure that there will be no injury to the basie structure of commerce and industry and that any system adopted will operate fairly and equitably as between all taxpayers. The various methods that may be employed for this purpose are receiving close examination at the present time.
Apparently the Government thought at one time that an excess profits tax was necessary ; but it seems to have abandoned that idea, and little has been heard of it lately. It appears to be the policy of this Government that, whatever else happens, the exploitation of the masses must continue. The Labour party must regain the treasury bench in order that it may give a fair deal to the workers of this country.
The age pension has been increased by the lordly sum of 7s. 6d. a week. But what do we find when we analyse the position ? The basic wage is about £8 a week. It varies by a few shillings in each capital city. That wage is supposed to be sufficient only to provide a person in the prime of life with the bare necessaries of life. Therefore, how can an aged person be expected to live on a pension which is 30s. less than one-half of the basic wage? If it were not for the kindness of friends and relatives, many age pensioners would not live long to enjoy what the Government has described as this wonderful increase of the age pension. It way be said that, if the pension were increased to a level that would enable an age pensioner to live comfortably on it, the country would become bankrupt, but if Australia cannot care for its aged people and provide them with a reasonable standard of living, it is time that it went bankrupt, and was handed back to the aborigines. I believe that, in order to provide a comfortable living for an aged person, the age pension should be at least one-half of the basic wage, that it should be adjusted quarterly in accordance with increases of the cost of living, and that the means test should be abolished as affecting pensions up to the basic wage.
Having dealt with age pensioners, I desire to refer to those unfortunates who, although they have a very strong organization behind them, appear to advance slowly. I refer to ex-servicemen pen sioners. This Government has been wiser than was the Chifley Government in that it has appointed a member of the Senate as Minister for Repatriation. The position of the Minister’s name on the ballot-paper will ensure his return to the Parliament at the next general election. If a Minister for Repatriation does not live up to the expectations of returned servicemen, we know what happens to him if he is a member of the House of Representatives. The pension paid to temporarily or permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen isstill less than the basic wage. That is a fact to which the Government should give consideration. A temporarily or permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman has, physically speaking, given everything to his country, but all that his country is prepared to give to him in return is a pension less than the’ basic wage. Honorable senators opposite may say that a temporarily or permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen who has a wife and a couple of children receives £13 a week,, but let us not forget that an exserviceman in that class who is not married and who, owing to his war injuries, did not have an opportunity to marry, receives apension that is less than the basic wage-
– He receives £7 a: week.
– The basic wage is £8 a week.
– The pension isnot subject to tax.
– No income tax is paid’ upon a wage of £8 a week. During wartime, nothing is too good for the serviceman, but when peace comes he is soon forgotten. At the present time, the serviceman is coming into the news a great, deal, because he is needed. I mention in passing that, for the personnel of our forces, the Government intends to rely upon eighteen-year-old youths.
I turn now to the basic war pension.. The full pension of £3 10s. a week is too low. An ex-serviceman who is entitled to a full or part war pension has given something to his country that can never be replaced and I believe that he is entitled to a just or, indeed, a generous return. The compensation paid to workers who are injured in civilian occupations is better than that paid to servicemen who were injured during the war, and who will suffer for the remaining years of their lives. In dealing with exservicemen pensioners, we cannot be niggardly, because, having regard to the unsettled conditions of the world to-day, servicemen will be needed again.
There has been a blatant miscarriage of justice in connexion with the claims made by ex-prisoners of war for the payment of subsistence allowance. When the present Government parties were in opposition in the Parliament, many of their members said repeatedly that exprisoners of war should be paid a subsistence allowance in respect of the periods that they spent in captivity. When the present Government parties, with a predominant number of former ex-servicemen in their ranks, took office, to their everlasting disgrace they indulged in back sliding in respect of this matter. Why rank and file members of the Liberal and Australian Country parties allowed Cabinet to foist on them a report which was so detrimental to the interests of the prisoners of war, I cannot understand. The Government has a moral obligation to pay subsistence allowance to all former prisoners of war. It must not judge this matter from the viewpoint of legality. To hide behind a legal decision in regard to the claim is merely a sham. Why cannot the men be paid the money which the Government is under a moral obligation to pay them without having to wait for the receipt of reparations from enemy countries? Apparently the members of this Government want to make good fellows of themselves at the expense of our former prisoners of war. Australian prisoners of war fell into the hands of the enemy not through any fault of their own, but principally because of the lack of foresight of the higher command. Of the 21,467 Australian prisoners of war no fewer than 7,602 died as the result of the brutalities suffered at the hands of the Japanese. There is no glory in dying for one’s country in that way. Any recompense which the Government could offer to those who survived could not hurt any one.
SenatorMattner. - What would he the total amount involved?
– Between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000. Attached to the report of the committee appointed by the Government to inquire into this matter was a minority report signed by Mr. W. E. Fisher, which reads, in part, as follows : -
Bearing in mind that entry into captivity involved no disgrace; that the endurance of that captivity redounded to the credit of those concerned; and that the Australian Governmenthas lodged a general claim with the Far Eastern Commission for reparations from Japan, and in so doing has stressed in particular the sufferings of the prisoners-of-war, I hold it reasonable to recommend that the Australian Government should assume the responsibility of ensuring that its nationals, who suffered excessively and illegally as prisoners-of-war, should receive compensation according to the precedent set by the United States Government.
Such funds as are held under the Australian Trading with the Enemy Act are, according to evidence supplied to the Committee, inadequate to cover the probable cost. While it has also been indicated to the Committee that large scale reparations from Japan are unlikely in view of current United States policy, it would be difficult for the United States Government in the light of its own action to refuse an Australian claim for the relatively small sum, as reparations, necessary to cover such a payment. In the words of the United States War Claims Commission Report (p. 27 ) , such considerations “ may assist in determining what objectives in the field of war claims this Government should attempt to attain in the negotiation of the treaties “.
Bearing in mind also that the way appears open to recover such a payment from enemy sources; that the claim has been long in coming to authoritative investigation; that this delay has fostered resentment (however baseless) and frustration in a body of men of whom Australia can only feel proud; and in the spirit of the Prime Minister’s dictum that the judgment of this claim “ should do justice to the enormous human issues involved “, I hold it reasonable further to recommend that payment be made forthwith.
If these recommendations are approved, it remains to indicate at what rate and upon what conditions payment should be made. The following procedure is suggested: -
Each man should be given three shillings per day for each day that he was a prisoner of war:
If a manlost his life in captivity, then such amount up to the date of his death should be paid to his next of kin;
Such amounts should be paid to every man without any distinction of rank; <4.) Such amounts should bc free of all taxes and duties whatsoever and should not be liable to be taken in execution of any judgment and should not form part of a bankrupt estate. Prior to payment it should not bc liable to be charged or alienated in any way. 1 trust that the Government will heed Mr. Fisher’s advice and when it redrafts the budget or prepares a supplementary budget for presentation to the Parliament it will make provision for the payment of subsistence allowance to all prisoners of war. I appeal to the ex-servicemen in the Government parties to bring pressure to bear on the Government to make such a provision.
On examining this budget I was disappointed to find that it contained no provision for the education of children on a Commonwealth basis. Apparently [ shall have to wait for the return of n Labour government and use my influence with’ that government to make a more generous provision for the education of the children of Australia. When the budget is being redrafted or. a supplementary budget is being prepared I ask the Government to take cognizance of the representations which I have made.
– I take this opportunity to raise a subject which I regard as being of the greatest urgency and national importance. The somewhat ominous word budget “ and all that it signifies recalls several things to the minds of all Western Australians. First, we recall thai Western Australia is the least developed State in the Commonwealth. For the information of Senator Henty may I say that Western Australia lies to the west of South Australia and that its capital, Perth, is in the south-west of the State. Secondly, we remember that Western Australia has a vast potential for the development of both primary and secondary industries. Thirdly, we recall that the rate of development of that State has been far too slow. These matters are always remembered by Western Australians when a budget debate is in progress in the Commonwealth Parliament. We believe that the development of Western Australia could be and should be considerably accelerated. The necessity for an -accelerated rate of development in the fields of primary and secondary industries in Western Australia will form the theme of my speech this afternoon. I am only too well aware that this appeal is by no means new. Every Western Australian in this chamber, irrespective of political party affiliation, will support my remarks and I trust that other honorable senators who listen to my speech will also do so sympathetically. We are rather prone to dismiss this subject lightly with vague references to the fact that, in any case, Western Australia is practically all desert country. Even Western Australians have become desert conscious, forgetting that in their State there are still vast areas of well watered and fertile virgin land still waiting development. We’ have an enormous potential for the development of a wealthy and populous State. The information which I now propose to give to the Senate will, I trust, illustrate the remarkable opportunities that exist for the development of Western Australia. For example, the northern part of the State, known as the Kimberleys, is a vast region; it is larger than the State of Victoria. It is by no means desert country. It has one of the most regular rainfalls to be found in any part of Australia. Its rainfall ranges from approximately 50 inches in the west to 20 inches in the east. In that region are enormous areas of well -grassed plains which lend themselves to development by irrigation. It is watered by very large rivers. It may astonish some honorable senators to learn that the volume of water that flows to the ocean from that region is comparable to that which flows down the River Nile. The Kimberleys area has a vast potential for intensive cultivation.
– It is of no use to have large areas suitable for cultivation if there are no people to populate them.
– I shall deal with that aspect later. Many people contend that the climate of the Kimberleys is too hot for white men. That is a stupid statement. Many millions of acres in other parts of the world which lie between the twentieth degree of latitude north and south of the equator are being extensively cultivated by white mcn. At present this immense area of land is producing only a few cattle. As we all are aware, cattle stations employ only three or four white men. Only about 2,000 white men and women are living in the whole of the vast area of the Kimberleys. When we realize that the valley of the Nile supports a population of 20,000,000 persons, and that this relatively small area of Western Australia can be developed on lines similar to those adopted in the valley of the Nile, I am sure that all honorable senators will agree that this northern portion of Western Australia has a vast potential for development. The Kimberley district is not the only part of the State which is still awaiting development. South of the town of Geraldton approximately 15,000,000 acres of well-watered virgin corr- try are at present producing nothing. That area was formerly known as the sand plain country. Scientists, the State Department of Agriculture and settlers in adjacent areas have proved that that otherwise worthless country can be developed into a very rich area by the addition of certain minerals and other ingredients to the soil. It could be intensively cultivated to produce vast quantities of food for which the world now craves. In the south-west of Western Australia, excluding the vast forest reserves, there are from 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 acres of virgin well-watered country with a rainfall of more than 25 inches per annum which are capable of intensive cultivation. These brief particulars will serve to indicate that in Western Australia there is a big field for extension and development of primary and secondary industries. I am not attempting a comprehensive survey of our industries but merely giving some examples. Wheat-growing is the basic primary industry of our State, which supports a majority of the rural population. It has been estimated by the Department of Agriculture in Western Australia that the production of wheat in that State could be doubled within a reasonable time. Furthermore, three-quarters of the gold won in this country is produced in Western Australia. The value of the gold industry to our economy is demonstrated in the following article in the Australian Mineral Industry Review 1949 -
Mine production for the year totalled 640,572 line ox. from the treatment of 2,408,297 tons of ore. This represents a drop of 13,109 fine oz. . . This decrease in gold recovered is not of any great mining significance. The average grade of ore treated was 5.28 dwt. per ton compared with 5.42 dwt. in the previous year. Following the increase in price of gold in September, any increase in gold production has, yet, been negligible, as present conditions of labour shortage and difficulty in obtaining supplies militate against any rapid expansion of operations. . . The position is being met by concentrating on methods requiring a minimum of man-power and by the introduction of mechanization wherever practicable. Many more men are needed to expand the industry to full production capacity.
I consider the last sentence to be of considerable significance. I have heard people from the eastern States assert that the gold industry in Western Australia is finished. That is not correct. This industry could double or even treble its production within a few years, if more man-power and materials were availableIt is in that connexion that there is scope for immediate and accelerated development.
I shall now refer to the enormous scope for development that exists in the secondary industries of Western Australia. Development of the secondary industries is dependent upon the hastening of the development of the rural industries? in that State. In Albany, woollen cloth equally as good as the woollen cloth thai is produced in the eastern States is now being produced. When that project was envisaged about twenty years ago, some people merely laughed. Now, however, there is established a nucleus of a very prosperous secondary industry, based on primary industry. Although a considerable quantity of food is produced in Western Australia, comparatively small quantities are processed. There is considerable scope for development of the food processing industry. The enormous field for development in Western Australia is of national significance and I consider that it is a national responsibility to accelerate the introduction of adequate labour in that State. Our safety depends to a degree on the development, of Western Australia as an urgent priority. As matters stand, Western Australia is a potential menace to the security of this country. This opinion is shared by Bertrand Russell, the well-known economist and philosopher, who wrote - lt is only necessary to look at the map and reflect that India and China contain a hundred times as many people as Australia contains, to realize that any kind of Asian imperialism would make it difficult to maintain Australia us a white man’s country. The only long-run defence must be a great increase of population, and this in turn is only possible by means of vast public works. Owing to physical difficulties, an increase of the population in the rural parts of Australia requires very considerable expenditure nf taxation, so it is not surprising if people who are already prosperous feel inclined to go slow in setting aside money that they might enjoy in order to settle strangers on remote regions.
Bertrand Russell was referring, to the remote regions of Western Australia, and to an apparent disinclination on the part of the other States to assist to settle people in those regions. He went on to say -
T think it would be difficult to overcome such natural reluctance but for the fact that only a large population can make Australia safe. This fact is very generally appreciated and influences public policy. Such a development is immensely to be desired. Europe is over-populated, and Australia under-populated. Europe needs what Australia can produce, :n;d Australia, until it has a large population, will be something of a military liability to thi- Americans, as in the last war. Australia, as I said before, is a happy country, and for a long time to come an increase of the population will bring an increase of happiness. For all these reasons, national and international rural development .is the most important problem with which Australia has to deal.
Of course there was nothing new about the opinions expressed by Bertrand Russell. I have merely cited his words in order to emphasize my contention that rural development is the most important problem with which Australia is faced. Western Australia possesses more virgin country eminently suitable for development than does any other State, and it comprises the most vulnerable portions of this country.
There is also a moral reason why the rate of development of the remote regions of Western Australia should be accelerated. I refer to the strong moral obligation that devolves upon Australia in connexion with the world food shortage. In the future it might be extremely difficult for Australia to resist the demands of over-populated countries, in view of our continued neglect to develop our potential. Demands made in the United Nations by representatives of other nations for us to increase production could be embarrassing. Of course, the Government is already seized with the importance of developing the remote regions of this country, and the matter needs no further emphasis by me. I shall, however, draw the attention of honorable senators to the existence of certain anomalies. Of the 150,000 immigrants that were brought to this country last year, only 13,700 settled in Western Australia. I contend that Western Australia should have received twice that number of migrants, but there did not exist in Western Australia adequate housing, capital, machinery, finance, and other facilities to enable a greater number to settle there. That anomaly can be corrected only by the adoption of a different approach to this problem by the Australian Government. In order that the rate of development of Western Australia might be accelerated, we should adopt a population target of from 2,500,000 to 3,000,000 people by the end of the century. In the absence of a target I consider that large-scale development at an accelerated rate could end in disaster. Our economy could become embarrassed because of lack of finance or too little plant in proportion to the number of immigrants. This suggested target would entail the introduction of 30,000 immigrants each year until 1999, or an increase of 4.5 per cent, of population annually. If some honorable senators think that that rate of increase would be too rapid, I remind them that in 1890, before the gold rush to Western Australia commenced, the rate of increase of population in that State was 4.2 per cent. As a result of the abnormal conditions during the gold rush, the rate of increase rose by 36 per cent, a year. I do not suggest that we. should try to increase the population of the State at the rate of 36 per cent, each year, and I cited that illustration only to show that when I mentioned the rate of 4.5 per cent. I was not placing the figure unduly high. Indeed, compared with what has occurred in some other parts of the world, it is fairly low. In 1942, the population of California was 6,700,000; to-day it is 10,000,000, so that in eight year3 the population has increased by 48 per cent., which represents an increase of about 6 per cent, a year. That result was achieved by the expansion of California’s basic industries. If we apply the same policy in “Western Australia, and concentrate upon the development of its basic industries, it should be possible to increase the population at the rate of 4.5 per cent, a year.
I now come to the second prerequisite for national development, and it is, perhaps, more important than the other. I have said that development should be fi national responsibility, and I ase that expression in its widest meaning. Western Australia should receive the cooperation, not only of the Commonwealth, but also of the other States. I know that the Commonwealth is doing a great deal through the Ministry of National Development, but it cannot co-operate effectively with Western Australia unless the other -States concur. Last year, New South Wales received 70,000 immigrants as its share of the total influx, whereas Western Australia received 13,700. I have already suggested that for Western Australia the target should be set at 30,000 a year. Where are they to come from? We cannot expect to get thom all from the United Kingdom. Who will bear the cost of bringing them here ? The Commonwealth is already overtaxed.. We, in Western Australia, recognize that we cannot always look to the Commonwealth for help. We recognize that the Snowy Mountains project, and the development of the Northern Territory and of New Guinea are important national undertakings, and the people of Western Australia are helping to pay for them. We do not complain of that, but we now invite some reciprocity from the eastern States in regard to what we consider to be the most important national undertaking - the accelerated development of Western Australia, which, we believe, should receive the highest priority. In this respect, I can do no better than quote the words of Mr. E. J. Dumas, Director of Works in Western Australia, who is doing splendid work for the State in. regard to development. I commend him for what he has done. This is what he said -
Representing such a large portion of the continent, it is really a national responsibility to combine with the State government in developing and populating the western side of the continent in order to create a better balance. This could best be done by hastening, the development of the immense tracts of virgin country receiving a sure and amplerainfall, which are contained within th? boundaries of the State. As this development proceeds, industries based on rural production will become established and so the population, will be increased. If left to the State alone, the rate of progress will be too slow.
Those last words are significant. I suggest that, as the third prerequisite,, there should be established on a Federal - State basis a long-range planning organization, without which a large seal, development programme would be doomed to failure. It would be haphazard, unbalanced, and excessively costly. Wemight ultimately find ourselves with too many immigrants and too little money,, or perhaps with 1,000 families from, manufacturing centres in Great Britain settled on 1,000 farms in the Kimberleys. That may sound ludicrous, but that; sort of thing has happened in Western Australia in the past. Should such an experience be repeated, the State will finish up more or less where it started,, still undeveloped, and a lot of public money will have been expended.
I propose to refer briefly to a Commonwealth publication entitled Regional’ Planning in Australia, which was published in 1949. At page 91 of this publication, there occurs the followingreference to the planning for the development of Western Australia : -
In view of the present population of theState and its area, an extensive development of regional planning is not practicable, other than, in zones with special needs, which are met by zonal committees, as indicated in thesenotes
It is thought that a general’ planning scheme for the whole State must stand in. abeyance and only come as development proceeds.
Those words are of great significance asthey reflect the general attitude which prevails in the eastern States towards proposals for the development of Western Australia. I confess I. cannot understand- such a statement as an expression of Government policy. Surely it is an elementary proposition that there must be co-ordinated planning for Australia as a whole, and particularly for an undeveloped State like Western Australia. Every State has a planning organization except Western Australia, although such an’ organization is more important for Western Australia than for those parts of the Commonwealth that are comparatively well populated. I may mention in passing that there already exists in Western Australia the nucleus of a small planning committee under the aegis of Mr. Dumas. I suggest that the committee should become the basis of an organization with federal representation, perhaps under the direction of the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey). I have no wish to be dogmatic. 1 merely emphasize the necessity for the creation of a long-term planning organization for developmental purposes.
My fourth proposal is not new, but it is npt often referred to in this chamber, although it was mentioned recently in the House of Representatives. I refer to iiic need for setting up new States. This matter might be considered by some persons to belong to the far-distant future, and I recognize that this is not thu appropriate time to elaborate the point. However, I believe that a programme for the establishment of now States should form the basis of planning for all development in Western Australia. We in the west are acutely conscious of the enormous difficulties of controlling and developing a State like Western Australia from such a centre as Perth, which is so remote from a great part of the State. It would be the same as an attempt to control the region of Cairns from Melbourne. We constantly talk of the need for decentralization, but L suggest that it is impossible to decentralize commercially and industrially without decentralizing politically.
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that a new State should be set up in Western Australia?
– I suggest that two new States should be established in Western Australia.
– Surely the honorable senator does not suggest that there should be another twenty senators?
– It depends on who they are. If we look at the map of Australia it becomes as plain as a pikestaff that one new State should consist of the area north of Carnarvon, and the other new State of the region south of Bunbury. I do not suggest that Western Australia should be immediately divided into several States, but we should plan now towards that end. We cannot effectively develop one-third of the continent from Perth. Unless we begin planning now for the establishment of new States we shall find that Perth, as well as being the political capital of the State, will also become the commercial centre, and the transport systems will be routed to Perth, just as in New South Wales all roads lead to Sydney.
I conclude by summarizing my remarks as follows : - 1. Western Australia has an enormous potential for development in the fields of both primary and secondary industries. 2. The accelerated development of Western Australia should be accepted, not only by the Commonwealth but by all, the States as a national undertaking. 3. This development is doomed to failure unless we - (a) set a target in regard to immigration; (b) obtain the co-operation, not only of the Commonwealth but of all of the States in achieving this end; (c) set up a proper planning authority on a Federal-State basis; and,(d) in planning, envisage the ultimate establishment of new States. As a representative of the largest and most vulnerable State of the Commonwealth, I believe that I have a duty to mention these matters, no matter how many times they have been mentioned before. Most honorable senators from Western Australia will agree, if not in detail at least in general terms, with what I have said. I also invite the co-operation of honorable senators from the eastern States in active measures for the development of Western Australia. As a representative of Western Australia, I earnestly ask for consideration of and support for what I have said.
Senator TANGNEY (Western Aus budget, I should like to extend my sincere thanks to all members of the Senate, and particularly to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan), for the courtesy and kindness that I have received during the last two months. I am very pleased to be back in the Senate to-day, and I feel that had it not been for the kindness and sympathy of all my friends here, that would not have been possible.
It is a contradiction of all that we fought for in World War II. that this budget should have been brought down under another international shadow. When World War II. ended in 1945, most of us thought that the last war to save democracy and individual freedom had been fought ; but now, even before some of the peace treaties terminating that war have been signed we are again budgeting for a conflict on an international scale. This must make the hearts of most Australians very heavy indeed, because throughout the bitter years of World War II., they looked forward to many years of peace in which an opportunity would be given to them to develop the vast country that is their heritage. Now, within a few years of the end of the last conflict, all their plans have to be recast.
I commend Senator Vincent for his plea for the development of Western Australia. I am sure that most people do not realize just how big Western Australia is. Its area is one-third of that of the Commonwealth, but its population is equal only to one-third of the population of Melbourne, or one-quarter of the population of Sydney. I have made several trips to the outlying parts of Western Australia in recent years. I have been north to the Kimberleys, and south to Esperance, and I am more than ever amazed at our temerity in believing that we can keep that huge area for ourselves when we are doing so little to. develop it on a national scale. The development of Western Australia should be approached in no partisan spirit, or with any State bias. It is a problem that should be tackled on a national level. The last war showed us how important that region is from a defence point of view, if for no other reason. During World War II., our north-west coast from Carnarvon to Darwin was scarred by Japanese bombs. Australians died on Australian soil from enemy action for the first time in our history ; yet we appear already to have forgotten those sacrifices, because little has been done to develop the remote regions of Western Australia and so to guard against the recurrence of a threat to our shores. It will be no easy matter to develop that large territory. The climatic conditions are most trying as I know to my cost. Housing in the north-western districts is a disgrace to all governments, State and Federal, that have held office in the last 50 years. I have seen the men and women, who are doing such wonderful work in the far north, sweltering in galvanized iron shacks. Whilst they have endured such primitive conditions, enormous wealth has been poured out from those areas to all parts of the Commonwealth. Very little of that wealth has been used to develop the north-west, or to improve the lot of those who not only have produced the wealth, but also have kept that portion, of the Commonwealth for us. Although it may sound strange coming from an honorable senator on this side of the chamber, I commend the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited for what it has done in the provision of housing at Yampi Sound and Cockatoo Island. I visited Cockatoo Island last year and saw what can be done if the will to do it is there, and finance is available. I saw houses built for tropical conditions. They had big verandahs, proper ventilation, refrigeration, and all the other things that are necessary to make the trying climate endurable. Because living conditions had been improved, I found a very happy and contented community at Cockatoo Island. Most of the houses that I saw had been built since the end of the war. How different was the story when we went to the mainland. The galvanized iron shacks in which people lived were ample evidence of a lack of pride and responsibility on the part of those who really should have the welfare of the people of the north at heart.
One of the most serious difficulties that settlers in the north-west have to face is the lack of adequate transport to bring foodstuffs from the southern areas. There are no cows or goats, so that all milk is in powdered form, and must be transported from Perth by sea, because air transport is very expensive. Although subsidies are paid on the carriage of certain foodstuffs, air freights generally make the use of this form of transport prohibitive. When I was last in the north-western district, everybody was in a panic because supplies of powdered milk had run out. As I do not take milk in my tea, I think I was the only one who enjoyed a cup of tea at a function which ladies who had come from places as far as 100 or 200 miles away had arranged during my visit to one port. Something must be done to provide cheap transport for food supplies to the northern parts of Western Australia. Some vegetable!) and fruits can be grown in those areas, and in that connexion I pay a tribute to the people at the leprosarium at Derby who have made that institution almost self-sufficient in vegetables and some fruits However, at almost every town I visited, I had requests from residents for the payment of a subsidy on the transport of fruit and vegetables’ from the south. That request is reasonable, I believe, because oranges which sell for 3s. a dozen at Perth are 9s. a dozen at Wyndham, which means a freight charge of 6s. Those of us who live in the cities do not realize how difficult it is for residents of those isolated areas to live, no matter what income they receive. I do believe, however, that if vegetables and fruit can be grown at the leprosarium, they could also be. grown in other areas where climatic conditions are similar, provided labour was available.
That brings me to a very important matter which has caused me considerable concern. I refer to immigration. As part of our duty to the democracies of the world, we have admitted to this country large numbers of displaced persons from Europe in the last few years. We have given them refuge here. Many of them are working hard and are anxious to repay Australia by becoming Australian citizens and fulfilling their responsibilities to this country. I believe, however, that we owe a debt, first, not to the people of Europe who have immigrated to Australia, but to British immigrants. When T was in Great
Britain two years ago, people approached me every day at Australia House and asked whether I knew of somebody who would sponsor their entry into this country. As they did not know any one in Australia, they could not get sponsors themselves, and therefore could not be nominated. The only means by which they could reach Australia was to pay anything up to £200 for a single passage. That sum was probably all the capital that most of them had, except perhaps the capital of a will to work. It is rather unfortunate that we should refer to people from the United Kingdom a a immigrants, because I prefer to think of the British Commonwealth of Nations as one British family. What is going on to-day is merely a transference .of population. Great Britain, of course, needs the same types of people for its own development as we need in this country. I found during my visit that, in the two or three years that had elapsed since the end of the war, the British people had done a splendid job in rebuilding homes, re-organizing their industries, and so on. For that work, of course, Great Britain needs the young tradesmen that we so earnestly want to immigrate to Aus tralia. I believe that we must do more to bring complete family units to thi.«i country. It is all right to say that wi want only young tradesmen and other able-bodied people who can do good work in this country, but we should not break up family units by rejecting mothers and fathers merely because they may become charges on the community at a relatively early period. We have i reciprocal social services agreement with New Zealand, and the sooner we can reach a similar agreement with Great Britain the . better it will be for us because then we shall be able to brins complete family units to Australia. Families are the backbone of any nation, and the encouragement of family life in this country is the best counter to communism that we could possibly desire.
In the last few years, I have visited many, immigrant camps, or holding centres as they are called, throughout Australia. I have also met many ships bringing immigrants to this country. I have seen many child immigrants who were th*» victims of the bombing of London and other British cities. Child immigrants, I believe, are our best investment, particularly in view of the present housing shortage. Children are easily assimilated into the community. They become real Australians almost from the word “ go “. They do not have the same ties that older people have with their homeland, and they do not have the urge to return to the land of their birth, which is so deeply implanted in their hearts of mature men and women. The child immigrants I have seen in various parts of the Commonwealth are of very fine types. Just before I left Perth a fortnight ago, I visited a home and saw some children who had come to visit me when I was ill. I was surprised to find how well they had settled down in their new land. They were obviously enjoying life in this country. Their transference to this land had opened up for them many new vistas. I believe, therefore, that, in giving effect to our immigration plan, special attention should be paid to family groups and to children if we are to get the best possible results for this country as a whole.
I commend the Government for continuing the work begun by the Chifley Government on immigration. There has been little change in the original plan, and that is most commendable, because immigration should be above party politics. So also should defence be above party considerations, but I shall not pursue that subject now because I know that I should be on dangerous ground.
Sitting suspended from 5 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I had been completing a short survey of the importance of the development” of the northwestern part of the continent in any general scheme of national development. That brought me again to the question of defence, because experience during the last world war showed how vital to the defence of this country is the north-west of Australia. In fact, no other part of the continent really felt the direct impact of physical warfare. Honorable senators should approach this question of defence as realists. They would do well to remember that we are a nation of only 8,000,000 people, with a continent the size of Europe and with a population equal to that of London with which to develop and defend it. I can assure the Government that in a time of national necessity it need have no doubt concerning the loyalty of the Australian Labour party and of the many units that comprise it. If we are to learn anything from the past, surely we can learn that in the hands of the Labour movement the defence of this country can be carried to a successful conclusion.
I refer now to another aspect of this budget which is of peculiar interest to me. It is that part of the budget which deals with the Department of Social Services. During the last few months, although I have not been in the chamber, I have listened very attentively to the broadcasts of Senate debates on social services and other matters, and I have been somewhat amazed to hear what has been stated concerning the lack of interest shown by the Australian Labour party in social services. Honorable senators opposite know as well as I do that when the Labour Government came to office in 1941 - I say “ to office “ and not “ to power “, because there was no Labour majority in the Senate or in the House of Representatives^ - there were only three pieces of social services legislation on the statute-book of this country. Those measures concerned age pensions; invalid pensions and child endowment. I pay due deference to the statesmen who placed those measures on the statutebook. Despite the fact that Australia was faced with a huge expenditure of men and materials upon a gigantic war effort, it was a Labour government that was responsible for other social services that are now enjoyed by the people of this country. I refer to widows’ pensions, sickness and hospital benefits, unemployment benefits, funeral benefits for age and invalid pensioners, and the doubling of pensions for age and invalid pensioners, and the liberalizing of the incomes which they are permitted to earn. Those measures were applied during a time of total war. But the government of the day did not go far enough. Honorable senators who were in this chamber during those years will remember that I and other honorable senators frequently raised our voices in an endeavour to have those social services increased. The important point to remember is that those laws were placed on the statutebook of this country by a Labour adminis tration. Although they did not go far enough, at least they were a start.
While I congratulate this Government for having introduced child endowment for the first child and for having granted an increase of age and invalid pensions, I consider that it has not gone far enough. I am sure that in this matter I have the co-operation and support of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper), because the honorable senator served with me on the social security committee. I ask the Government to make a decision concerning the usefulness or otherwise of a continuance of that committee. During the first three or four years that I was in this Parliament an all-party committee wasappointed to investigate various aspectsof social services. The Minister for Repatriation was vice-chairman of the committee and was a very active member of it. Together, we travelled the length and breadth of Australia investigating health and social problems and attempting to arrive at a true understanding of those problems. The bonds which unite us here as representatives of the people are much stronger than the matters that divide us as members of political parties. In those years that committee was able to persuade the Government of the day to agree that the conclusions arrived at by the committee were worthy of a place on the statute-book. At the end of four years the members of the committee could see that a great deal had been accomplished for those who had most need of assistance. Unfortunately, the members of the then Opposition refused to co-operate with the Government of the day, and the all-party committee on social security ceased to exist. I therefore ask the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) to investigate the advisability of reconstituting that committee because I am certain that one of the greatest problems con-, fronting the community is the problem of providing adequate social security for all of its members. I do not believe that it is the function of this Government, or of any other government,, to provide everything for everybody, from the cradle to the grave, unless some appropriate service is rendered by the individuals concerned. But I say that it. vh the function of this Government, as the National Government of a land of plenty, to ensure that no person in the community is hungry or in want hecause he is unable to provide his needs through illness or advancing age.
In examining the budget I notice that the Government has increased certain pensions by 7s. 6d. a week. That please3 me, but at the same time it disappoints me, because pensions have not been increased by a greater amount. What honorable senator to-day - particularly if he does not own his own home - could live on £2 10s. a week ? Honorable senators no doubt have some idea of the kind of rooms in which most age and invalid pensioners are housed, but they must pay rent for those rooms. The lot of the invalid pensioner is worse than that of the age pensioners, because age pensioners may occasionally earn an extra £1 by weeding a lawn or doing washing, though why they should be obliged- to do so in the eventide of their lives I cannot imagine. Invalid pensioners, who have no relatives and no friends to assist them, cannot possibly exist decently on £2 10s. a week. Still more grave is the plight of widows. The circumstances of civilian widows were ignored by all governments until the Curtin Labour government came into office. They were then regarded as individuals who were performing a work of national importance. I point out to honorable senators that this Government, which is carrying out an extensive scheme of immigration in direct continuation of the policy inaugurated by the previous Government, is expending many thousands of pounds a year in bringing immigrants to this country. At the same time, like all other governments, it is neglecting the best immigrant of all, the Australian-born child. A widow, who is forced to be both mother and father and. to prepare her child to become a decent member of society, is being especially neglected. A widow who receives a pension cannot go to work because she is permitted to earn only £1 10s. a week in addition to her pension. What is it suggested that she could do in order to earn that small sum of money? Perhaps she could do washing or scrub floors, but if she is a woman of ability and engages in an occupation commen- surate with her attainments she loses her pension. Surely those widows should not be forced to work. They should be provided with adequate remuneration in order to permit them to remain in their homes, to care for their children, and to bring them up to be respected member’s of the community. How are they to do that on £2 10s. a week? I put the question to honorable senators opposite and I leave it there, but I consider that the question of what the Government is bound to do in all conscience for the widowed women and their children is a very important one and is one that will affect not only this generation but generations yet unborn.
Housing is an important aspect of social services. No widow or age or invalid pensioner can afford to pay the exorbitant prices being charged for homes to-day. What widow, receiving a pension of £2 10s. a week, could afford- to pay £2,000 for a two-bedroomed home? What widow or age or invalid pensioner could afford to pay £2 a week for rent? Yet much higher rents than that are being paid to-day, since all controls on rents were removed more than twelve months ago. When I was in England I saw there a. housing scheme which strongly appealed to me, and I should be very pleased to supply honorable senators with illustrations and plans of that scheme and also of another scheme which I saw in New Zealand some time ago. In England during the last war one house in every three was either completely destroyed’ or so badly damaged that it had to be destroyed. When I was in England three years after the la9t war, although I had a slight understanding of the immense fortitude of the people of that country during their great ordeal under fire, what most amazed me was the striking advance that had been made in those few years towards solving the problem of housing the people who had been bombed out of their homes and even, ]aer, out of their shelters and so-called homes. Near Manchester, where there had once been a manor house, T saw a housing estate that was housing many thousands of families. It was a complete unit in which aged persons and invalids had not been forgotten. There were small flats and small self-contained homes consisting of a bedroom, livingroom, kitchenette and bathroom, with built-in furniture. They were constructed by the local corporation. There I saw units for housing aged persons. In them, they had privacy. They had around them photographs of their children and the little Knicknacks that they wanted to keep. Married couples were living together in them and not living apart, as is often the case in this country, in institutions for men and women. The rent of the houses, furnished, was 8s. a week, and at that rental the municipal authority was not making a loss. Each little cottage had its own garden. En the estate, there was a communal dining hall at which meals could be obtained at a very low price if residents did not wish to prepare meals for themselves. There was also a recreational hall in which recreational facilities were available cheaply. It was a very good selfcontained community. I recommend that scheme to the Government as one way of housing our age and invalid pensioners.
It makes me very sad when I go to the big cities and visit slum areas. ‘ I find in back streets, little back rooms inhabited by men or women who have worked very hard in this community. They were unable to save in their younger days, because they brought up large families decently and, being only wageearners, had very little money, if any, left at the end of a week. Prices and rents have increased enormously. I believe that it would be far better to devise a scheme of national housing for these pioneers of our country than to increase age and invalid pensions by 2s. 6d. or 5s. a week, because such increases are quickly swallowed up by the rising prices of bread, milk and other commodities. I hope that at the present time, when there is so much money in the community, some money will be set aside to assist in solving this very serious problem. What is true of age pensioners is also true of invalid pensioners, who, in many instances, remain invalids because of the inadequacy of their housing facilities. I congratulate both this Government and its predecessor upon the progress of the scheme for rehabilitating invalids. Owing to the operation of the scheme, many invalid pensioners have become productive members of society.
We do not want to make the Australian people pension-minded, as the Labour party has been accused of wanting to do.. I should like to see the word “pension” dropped altogether. When a judge receives his retirement allowance or superannuation payments, we do not say that he is an age pensioner, but in fact he is just as much an age pensioner as is humble John Jones down the street who draws his pension of £4 5s. a fortnight at the local post office. If it be proper for one section of the community to have superannuation rights, it is equally proper for other members of the community to have those rights, especially when they have done a good job for Australia. With regard to the few persons who have not done a good job, our Lord Himself said that the poor are always with us, and I think that He meant there are always a few misfits with us too. Although there may be a few persons* who would abuse any scheme of government assistance, there are many persons whose pride is wounded because they have to queue up to draw their pensions. They did a good job of work in days when life was much harder than it is now. Many of them have sons and daughters who are citizens of repute, but who do not know of the straits to which their parents have been reduced, because the parents will not tell them. Frequently I visit old people’s homes in all States. It is a common occurrence for old people to show me photographs of their sons and daughters who have done well in life. But the old people do not want their children to knowthat they are, so to speak, on the breadline. They write to their sons and daughters and send presents to them on birthdays and at Christmas, but they know that their sons and daughters themselves have family responsibilities, that they have children to whom they must give first consideration, and that they are unable to help their parents as much as some of us who are more fortunately placed are able to do. I ask the Minister for Social Services to consider ‘ whether anything can be done by the Government to improve the living conditions of age and invalid pensioners, if not by an increase of pension, at least by the provision of amenities that make life more comfortable.
I believe that war widows, too, have a special claim upon the Government. War widows’ pensions are to be increased, and I am pleased to congratulate the Government upon the increase. One of the greatest needs of war widows is adequate housing, and I am certain that some scheme could be evolved, which would not result in a financial loss by the Government, for the housing of war widows, especially the widows of men who served in the 1914-18 war. The widows of men who served in the last war are comparatively young women, but it is very sad :to see the older women, whose husbands -died as a result of the 1914-18 conflict, living alone or living in very straitened Circumstances. They could be accommo*dated in some kind of communal flats. I Shave spoken with Mrs. Vasey, the president of the War. Widows Guild, who has prepared an excellent communal housing scheme. I ask the Minister for Repatriation to ensure that one of the functions of the Repatriation Department shall be the preparation and administration of a housing scheme for war widows, especially widows of exservicemen of the 1914-18 war and widows of men who served in. the last war who have children. The Minister for Repatriation comes from Queensland. The Chermside Homes in Brisbane are a fine example of what can be done in the way of communal housing. I know that the Freemasons in New South Wales have undertaken a communal housing scheme. What has already been done in this connexion can be done again. I do not thinkthat financial considerations should enter into this matter at all. After all, money is worthless unless it secures for the community or for the individual some degree of human happiness. I ask the Minister for Social Services and the Minister for Repatriation to consider whether something can be done, especially in relation to housing, for war widows who need assistance.
There is another aspect of the treatment of war widows to which T shall direct the attention of the Minister for
Repatriation. When the Chifley Go’vernment was in office, members of the Parliament made representations to the appropriate Minister that hospital benefits should be extended to include war widows. I am pleased to say that the representations were successful. To-day, our repatriation hospitals are open to the widows of men who served in either war who are in need of hospital treatment. 1 should like that concession to be extended to permit war widows to receive outpatient treatment and specialist treatment. I know from personal experience that in every city of Australia it is very difficult to get specialist medical treatment or attention in hospitals when it is most needed. The medical and nursing staffs of our repatriation hospital’s are second to none. Although they could earn much higher salaries in private practice, they work in the repatriation hospitals clay and night in order to serve returned servicemen of the last two wars. If out-patient treatment and specialist treatment at those hospitals were made available to war widows, the Government would not be’ involved in much additional expenditure. The hospitals, facilities and staffs are there. Unfortunately, patients needing treatment are. there also. It would no; mean much to the Government in the matter of pounds, shillings and pence to. accede to my suggestion, but if that were done it would mean a great deal to the widows and children of men who died for this country and who were told when they went to war that if they did not return their dependants would be cared for. Lip service is not enough. We must give to the dependants of the men who died the very best that this community can offer.
I wish now to deal for a few moments with prices control. As I have visited the various States, I have noticed the difference between the prices obtaining in one State and those obtaining in another. . That has made me realize that we cannot have an effective system of prices control when six separate authorities are controlling prices. To achieve uniform prices, there must be some federal control. Doubtless it will be said that we cannot have an effective system of prices control unless we peg wages and do this, that and the _ other. Why not peg wages? The basic wage has been fixed at £10 a week, but the recent increase was granted because of price rises that bad already occurred. It must be remembered that wages chase prices, and that prices do not chase wages. One does not need to be an amateur economist, as I am, to realize that. To prevent this country from becoming involved in an inflationary spiral from which it will be unable to extricate itself without a terrific smash, something drastic must be done to curb the increases of prices from which we are suffering. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies”) recently said that he would ask a Commonwealth Minister to attend conferences of the State Ministers responsible for prices control and request him to report upon the conferences. But that would be useless, because the Commonwealth Minister would have no authority to do anything in relation to prices.
As I have said, prices are different in each State. I thank God that I come from Western Australia, because, although prices in that State are high, they are a little lower than those that obtain in the eastern States. Of course, that is reflected in the basic wage for Western Australia. The women of this country are acutely conscious of the difficulties with which they are faced in balancing their family budgets, and those difficulties are becoming greater each week as prices continue to rise, especially the prices of basic commodities. We simply cannot let the present state of affairs continue. Members of the Parliament must do something about it if they wish to claim that they are here legislating in the national interest.
I congratulate the Government upon its continuation of the immigration and social services policies of the Chifley Government. Before I conclude, I shall refer to the national health scheme. Unfortunately, I can _ speak of _ that scheme from very painful experience. During the last few months, it has been my sad lot to be involved in an expenditure of several hundreds of pounds in respect of sickness. Had I not been in receipt of the salary that a member of the Senate receives, I suppose I should have died, because I could not have afforded to spend the money that I did spend. It may be said that I could have entered a public hospital, and perhaps I could have done so if I had, so to speak, taken a place at the end of a queue and waited for a few months to be admitted to hospital, as many people have to do at the present time. I am very sore about the free medicine scheme, because I did not get any free medicine. Since the 4th September I have spent £28 4s. upon medicines that are not on the free list. Every one of those medicines was prescribed by a doctor. There was no question of just going to a chemist and getting a quack medicine. When the free medicine scheme was under discussion in the Parliament, I remember that the spokesman of the medical fraternity - I have many staunch friends among the medical profession, and I cannot pay sufficiently high tribute to some of them - said that, because the proposed formulary was a 95 per cent, and not a 100 per cent, formulary, doctors would not prescribe on government forms. What is the real position now ? The same government forms are being used, but less than 10 per cent, of the prescriptions issued by doctors are dispensed free of charge. I have never been lucky - or should I say unlucky - enough to obtain a bottle of medicine free of cost. I am not growling, a? I consider myself lucky to be alive; but it is a very grave injustice that the people, having made contributions to the social services fund for the provision of free medicine, are unable to obtain it. Much has been said about the possibility of abuse of a free medicine scheme. I remind those who contend that a free medicine scheme may be abused, that free medicine can be obtained only on a prescription issued by a doctor. That completely rebuts the contention that the free medicine scheme may be abused. Less than 10 per cent. - I should say perhaps only 5 per cent. - of prescriptions issued by medical practitioners are dispensed by chemists free of charge. This morning I asked a question in the Senate which I regarded as of the utmost importance. It related to a matter upon which I have very strong feelings. In the treatment of most serious illnesses, and after surgical operations, the patient requires sedatives. I am well aware that sedatives should only be taken on the advice of a medical practitioner. So far as I am aware it is impossible to obtain a sedative from, a chemist without a doctor’s prescription. The complaint which I made in my question was that, notwithstanding the fact that sedatives are necessary for the treatment of postoperative cases, and for the alleviation of pain, they are not included in the formulary. Nothing is more likely te prolong the convalescence of a patient than sleeplessness. If a man or woman contravenes the social code and brings upon himself or herself the evil of venereal disease he or she is entitled to free treatment under the national health scheme. I leave this matter to the reflection of honorable senators. I am sure that the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page), who is himself a medical practitioner, will admit the reasonableness of my claim for the inclusion of sedatives in the free list of drugs available to the people. I am glad that penicillin, streptomycin, and aureomycin have been included. All those drugs axe very costly to procure. I am also glad that insulin is being made available free to sufferers from diabetes. The preservation of the health of the community is a definite responsibility of the Government. A healthy community can only be assured by giving to the people social security and decent educational and housing standards. If these amenities are provided we shall have a nation of contented people who will not hesitate to give everything they have to offer, as they have done in the past, in the defence of their country because it has given so rauch to them.
.- At the outset I should like to refer to statements that were made earlier in the debate to-day on the subject of subsistence payments to Australian prisoners’ of war. I propose to relate the story of that matter as I understand it in the how that it will be brought into better perspective. This subject was first, raised by the Opposition when the previous Government was in office, but in spite of representations on various occasions no pro gress was made, and no gains were achieved. During the general election campaign, the leader of the Liberal party said that if his party were elected to office he would appoint a committee to inquire into the subject. Soon after the present Government had assumed office, he appointed a committee which consisted of three persons, the appointment of all of whom had been recommended by the ex-servicemen’s organizations. One of them was the founder of Legacy and another had himself been a prisoner of war.
– The committee presented a very savage report.
– In conferences of all ex-servicemen’s organizations terms of reference were hammered out which were subsequently approved by tho Government, and the committee reviewed ail the matters which it was called upon to examine. At the outset of its investigations it expressly indicated that it was not at all interested in a cold legal argument, about whether or not SUe payments should be made. It believed, and rightly so, that that was a matter for the courts, and that it should concern itself only with the question whether a moral responsibility rested on the Australian Government to make subsistence payments to prisoners of war. The committee considered all the evidence placed before it by the ex-servicemen’s organizations and it submitted a unanimous report to the effect that moral responsibility for such payments did not rest on the Australian Government.
– Majority and minority reports were presented.
– Having reached that unanimous decision one of the three members of the committee reported that although no moral responsibility rested on the Australian Government he thought that he should go outside the terms of reference and point out that moral responsibility rested on those foreign governments which had held our service.men captive. That is the minority report to which Senator O’Byrne has referred, which. I contend, does not in any way detract from my statement that the committee had unanimously found that moral responsibility to make subsistence payments did not rest on the Australian Government. I asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether, in view of the report, when the subject of peace treaties was under consideration the Government would attempt to obtain from those foreign governments reparations out of which subsistence payments could be met. The reply was that when the subject of peace treaties was under consideration, the possibility of attempting to secure reparations to provide for such payments would be considered. That is where the matter now stands. I cannot see how, short of throwing overboard the recommendations of the independent body of arbitrators which was appointed to go into this matter, anything more can be done at the present time. It has been claimed that the United States has used its revenues to make subsistence payments to former American prisoners of war. That is not true. During the war. the United States Government, under its Trading with the Enemy Act, accumulated large sums of money which belonged to its enemies in the war. On the basis that responsibility for the payment of subsistence payments rested not on the Government of the United States of America, but on the governments of such foreign countries it used that money to make payments to Americans who were prisoners of war.
– That is not the view of the ex-servicemen’s associations.
– I now turn to certain remarks that were made by Senator Tangney to-night relative to war widows, and in particular to her statement that lip service to the cause of war widows is not sufficient. I do not know whether the honorable senator meant to indicate that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) and this Government were paying only lip service to the cause of war widows, but in case she did sp, and in case any of her listeners may have thought that that is so, I point out that in this budget provision has been made for the pension of war widows to be increased by 10s. a week from £3 to £3 10s.. the allowance for the first child by 4s. 6d. a week, from 17s. 6d. to 22s., and the allowance for the second and subsequent children by 3s. a week, from 12s. 6d. to 15s. In short, a war widow with three children may receive a pension of £3 10s. a week, plus £2 13s. child allowance, 10s. domestic allowance, £1 5s. child endow ment, and £1 13s. educational allowance or a total amount of £9 lis. a week. Nl means test is applied to war widows. 1 cite these figures to show that this Government has paid more than lip service to the cause of war widows.
– Senator Tangney referred principally to civilian widows.
– I turn now to an item in the budget which has been savagely attacked by Opposition senators. I refer to the wool sales deduction scheme, which Opposition senators attacked in an endeavour to prove that this is an inflationary budget. An examination of the revenue figures in the budget reveals that the estimated yield from the wool sales deduction is £103,000,000. When that scheme was discussed in this chamber, Opposition senators claimed that if the Government extracted £103,000,000 from the wool-growers, and spent the money, inflation would be increased instead of being reduced. If that money were not deducted from the wool-growers, the Government would have to raise an equivalent amount either by loan or by the issue of treasurybills. In other words, it would have to raise £103,000,000 worth of new money. If the £103,000,000 were left in the pockets of the wool-growers to be spent in the open market, and an additional £103,000,000 were raised by the issue of treasury-bills to meet the commitments of the Government, inflation would be c increased greatly. It has been said that the wool sales deduction should be classed not as revenue but as a forced loan because it cannot be considered to be revenue properly attributable to this year. On what ground that argument has been based I am completely at a loss to understand. The deduction represents income tax due this year on the income earned this veur by the wool-growers, and like income tax imposed on income? earned by -all taxpayers this year, it is properly attributable to the revenue of this year. I ‘have before me a copy of the report of the joint committee that was appointed by the Chifley Government to inquire into the advisability of basing liability for income tax for each financial year on the income of that year, which is commonly known as the pay-as-you-earn i income tax report. All that is proposed in the wool sales-deduction scheme is that tax liability for income derived from the sale of wool in this financial year shall be based on income earned by the woolgrower in this financial year. That money is due this year, just as is money collected from salary or wage earners under the pay-as-you-earn income tax system. If a workman’s wages are doubled in the the course of a year, he has to pay approximately twice the income tax “he paid previously.
Some persons believe that in present circumstances a government should issue unlimited amounts of credit to meet its requirements. There are great differences between the conditions that exist to-day, and those which existed during the thirties. Then we had a superabundance of goods, but insufficient money was in circulation to permit full use to be made of those goods, and of the labour of those who produced them. In such circumstances, the proper action for the government of the day to have taken was to equate the supply of money to the supply of goods. In such circumstances a government could use credit to an unlimited amount. Should such a condition ever return, that policy would, I am sure, be followed. I do not believe that the people who during the war saw that any amount of money could be found to carry on the war would ever again allow such a condition of unemployment and destruction of o goods to occur as that which marked the depression years, because of the shortage of currency. I hope that Opposition members will remove from the minds of the workers, as we have tried to do, the fear ‘that such conditions might occur again as the result of increased production. The fear that overproduction will lead to another depression should be removed from the minds of the workers. But the remedy of using the credit of the nation obviously cannot be applied to directly opposite conditions, as is the case to-day, when there is more than a sufficiency of money and a great insufficiency of goods. Because such conditions exist to-day it is necessary to maintain existing taxes at their present level, and to impose new measures of the kind provided for in the wool sales deduction scheme, which, I emphasize, will not increase by one penny the amount of tax paid by an individual wool-grower. That scheme merely requires the wool-grower to pay his income tax earlier than he otherwise would do, but not earlier than income tax i3 normally paid by most other sections of the community. This budget has been attacked as being an inflationary budget because 133,000,000 is proposed to be earmarked for purposes of defence during this financial year, compared with an expenditure of about £40,000,000 last financial year. I am not complaining about the expenditure last year, but I am complaining that because it is proposed to expend £133,000,000 this financial year, some honorable senators opposite have contended that the Government is taking inflationary action. We are in one of those recurring periods in the history of the world when the rising tide of barbarism sweeps across civilized countries. We have seen it from the time of Genghis Khan and Attila, the Hun, through “the Turkish invasion, to aggression under Napoleon, the Prussians, and now the Russians and their satellites. Those people constitute the greatest menace that civilization has ever had to face, because the danger to-day is incomparably greater than ever before. To-day a threat can develop into action in a matter of hours, or days. We can all recall vividly the speed with which the Japanese forces swept down from the north towards Australia’s coast during the last war. That speed could now be improved upon. We no longer have time, as did nations in previous centuries, to prepare against invasion by barbaric hordes. The danger is greater not only because of that factor, but also because all of the resources of modern science can be pressed into being to keep a subjected people down. The wireless, the bombing aeroplane, and the -machine gun assist the cold and ruthless methods of killing that have been practised by the Germans and the Russians. Never before, except in the time of Attila the
Hun, have aggressive nations thought so little of killing millions in order to gain their own ends. I suggest that the whole of recent history, and the whole of contemporary history of events to the north of Australia shows that is so. Should we defend ourselves by force against the threat not only to ourselves but also to our children and to our country, or should we adopt the slogan, “Defence solves nothing” ? Should we rely on passive resistance, as Gandhi did in India, and say, in effect, “ We are right and you are wrong. You can kill us if you like “ ?
– What happened in India?
– In India passive resistance was used against the British. One wonders whether it would have been effective against the Russians. That is an attitude that a Christian man can take, but he has to be very sure that he is strong enough to see it through. He must be strong enough to see his children taken from him and educated to become brutes like those that attacked this country. He must be strong enough to see all that he believes in shattered in the dust by an invader. Frankly, I am nOt strong enough for that, and I believe that the majority of the people of this country would not be strong enough for it. Therefore, we must take steps to defend ourselves by force.
– Against whom?
– Against anybody who attacks this country by force. As Senator McKenna said this afternoon, Russian influence is the only danger that we have to face to-day. If the decision is taken that we must defend ourselves by force, then let no honorable senator rise and say that the proposed expenditure of £133,000,000 to make that force effective is in any way inflationary though perhaps some may arise with justice and say that it is not enough. If we reach the decision that we should defend this country in the event of war, we should expend this money in a way that will ensure that our forces go into conflict properly trained, in order that they will be as effective as possible. I know little of ground warfare or naval warfare, but I have some slight knowledge of warfare in the air. In the course of many months operations 77 Squadron has had remarkably few casualties in Korea. During the last war the casualties which would have been suffered by a squadron engaged in the sort of work that that squadron is now carrying out in Korea would have been 60 or 70 pilots at the very least. Those casualties would have been attributable, not to enemy action, as much as to the normal hazards inherent in flying operational aircraft under operational conditions. I ‘ refer to pilots hitting hilltops in bad weather because of insufficient practice in instrument flying; inability to find their way home after a fight, because of insufficient training in R/T procedure, and navigation; and accidents in training and crashes during night flying. I consider that a properly trained pilot has ten times the chance that a partially trained pilot has of surviving. I am told by those who know more than I do about naval and ground warfare, that the position is similar in air and naval forces. Therefore I commend the provision in the budget for the training of young men to carry out their obligations. If we in any way impede their training the blood that will lie on our heads will be sufficient to dye a thousand Senate chambers the colour of this chamber.
– I intend to speak about international affairs. I realize that the situation is exceedingly vague, and that one might, by speaking, do the very thing one hoped not to do. Nevertheless, a responsibility rests upon us, and we must take the risk. The other night, in this chamber, a statement on foreign policy was read on behalf of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender). It was the most ambiguous statement that I have ever heard made on any subject. It was filled with generalities and cliches. It was so innocuous that it was infantile. In its naivete it was worthy only of a child. The Minister for External Affairs represented Australia while he was abroad, and, therefore, I am much perturbed for Australia’s future, seeing that he had to deal with such ruthless and tenacious men as Vischinsky, Molotov and company. While 90 much is at stake, we should have some one more worthy to represent Australia. I ask why we should wait until Mr. Menzies meets Mr. Atlee before anything is done to clarify the situation. The Minister for External Affairs was so wise that he left the United Nations when he should have been going there, “With all respect to the Minister for External Affairs, I point out that foreign affairs is a life study, and he is hopelessly ill-equipped to represent Australia at Lake Success or anywhere else.
The situation of the world to-day has not come about by chance, but through the logical sequence of cause and effect. John Milton said more than 200 years ago-
What can wars but further wars still breed V
That is as true to-d’ay as when the statement was made. We still entertain the idea that it is possible by military force to solve social and political problems. We are trying to stop national movements in Asia by physical force. Let us consider what has happened in Europe during the last 30 years. In 1.917, there was a revolution in Russia Many people looked upon it as? a socialist revolution, and regarded Lenin, who had been exiled from his country for twenty years, as the greatest of socialists. At first, there did not seem to be any chance that Bolshevism, as it was afterwards called, would become established in Russia. Nevertheless, Winston Churchill and Lloyd George gave military aid to Denikin and other anti-revolutionary leaders, with the result that the nationalist spirit of Russia was roused. From that day, the revolution became a nationalist revolution, and to-day it is an imperialist nationalist revolution.
Let us now consider the first war against Germany. I have often heard it said that William Morris Hughes is a great intellect. I confess that I never heard him say anything that would suggest that he is a thinker. I did hear him say that if we had stuck to the treaty of Versailles the second world war would not have occurred. He did not advance any reason in support of that statement, and presumably it was made only because he was one of the signatories to the treaty. It i9 recorded that General Smuts asked, pointing to Danzig in the Polish corridor, “ You intend to give that to the Poles?” When he was told that that was the intention, he said, “ The second war starts to-night “.
Under the Versailles treaty, an enormous indemnity was imposed upon Germany. That opens another field of discussion, which could well occupy us the whole evening. The result of imposing that indemnity was that the United States of America acquired thousands of millions of pounds’ worth of gold which was buried in the bowels of the earth, whilst Germany had 6,000,000 people out of work. Instead of imposing an indemnity, the Allies should have insisted on the breaking up of the estates of the Prussian Junkers, from whose ranks were recruited the chiefs of staff of the German armed forces. If the Allies had insisted upon the breaking up of the estates of the Hindenburgs, and the division of the land among the farmers, there was a chance that the Weimar Republic would have succeeded. However, such allied leaders as Poincaré and Sir Austen Chamberlain had the idea that it might be possible to preserve the semi-feudal society of Prussia. Then came Hitler, and after we had at first accepted and aided him, we were told that he was a terror. The second world war broke out, and Stalin supported Hitler. We know how the war went at first, and there came a time when Hitler dominated most of Europe. Eventually, Germany was practically bombed out of existence. We made desolation, and called it peace. Churchill was one of the originators of the demand for unconditional surrender. He still believed in solving problems by force. Now it is proposed to incorporate western Germany in a European union. The Russians, in control of eastern Germany, at first made friends of the Nazis, but they are now breaking up the big estates, and distributing the land amongst the farmers.
I turn now to Asia, where the situation that now exists has been developing for many years. The white races, particularly the Dutch, have exploited parts of Asia for more than 300 years, and the British have been doing it for more than 100 years. Now we are told that the present crisis in the east has been brought about by the Chinese invasion of Korea. If we had not entertained the idea that we could stop indigenous national movements by force we should not be in the position we are in to-day. Away back in 1927, the Stalinists in Russia outlawed Trotsky, who was opposed to the Russian alliance with Chiang Kai-shek which Stalin has made. Trotsky at the time was saying that Chiang Kai-shek would ultimately attack the Communists and, indeed, within a few weeks he put to death thousands of them. At that time, Mao Tse-Tung was fighting Chiang Kai-shek, and he has been fighting him ever since. According to Edgar Snow, the Russians made the same deal with Chiang Kai-shek as they have now made with Mao Tse-Tune. and at that time they took everything they could out of Manchuria. However, such was the power of the nationalist movement in China, and such was the weakness of Chiang Kai-shek that, despite the fact that the United States of America poured 4,000,000,000 dollars into China in support of Chaing Kai-shek, Mao Tse-Tung and his forces went through the opposition like a hot knife through butter. I do not wish to say anything derogatory about the United States of America. T admit that if it were not for American aid, Australia would have been invaded by the Japanese, but the fact remains that ten years before the first American soldiers came to Australia, the Chinese were fighting the Japanese. I was in China in 193S, where I met Mr. W. Donald, the Australian who was advising the Chinese authorities. That was just after the rape of Nanking. The Japanese, who are now supposed to be democrats, and on the way to being Christians, had taken possession of Nanking. I do not know what Australian wives and widows and mothers of those who lost their lives in the war with Japan, or who spent years ir. prison camps, must think of the present attitude towards the Japanese. At any rare, however bad the treatment meted out by the Japanese to Australians, their treatment, of the Chinese was ten thousand rime? worse. When the Japanese entered Nanking, the missionaries gathered toset her a large number of women and children. The Japanese military leader sent for the missionaries, saying that they wished to discuss matters with them, and while they were away, Japanese soldiers poured petrol over the women and children and burned .them to death. When I was in Shanghai I saw a little boy who was the sole survivor of that episode. How can we expect the Chinese to respect us when they learn that we are now supporting the Japanese?
When the last war ended, the United States of America was on top of the world, and the Chinese people looked upon the Americans as liberators. In 193S, Donald said to me, “ Tell the Australian people that China is in the front line defending Australia “. That was years before the United States of America came into the war. The Minister for External Affairs now says that we must have a Pacific pact. Who is going to be in the pact? I suppose the Lord of Formosa, Chiang Kai-shek, will be in it, and the President of the Philippines, who cannot deal effectively with the rebels within a few miles of his own capital. Perhaps Soekerno. of Indonesia, will be a member, and the Vichyite who is in command of the French forces in Vietnam. It is certain that Burma, and India and Pakistan will not join the pact. The formation of such a pact would merely antagonize those whose friendship we seek. We have declared that we are fighting against communism, but we do not say what we are fighting for. The Chinese are not impressed. China has seen the rise and fall of many empires. Iv, has seen the rise and fall of the Egyptians, the Chaldeans, the Babylonians, the Greeks and the Romans. Before the birth of Christ, they had their philosophers, including Confucius, who laid down the principle that the scholar stood first in society, and next to him the tiller of the soil. We talk of teaching the eastern peoples our way of life. What is our way of life? The philosophy of the atom bomb! It is all very well so long ».« we are able to drop the atom bomb on someone else, but what will happen if atom bombs are used against Britain? From the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Clyde, the distance is only 29 miles, and at that point the whole countryside, from en st to west of Britain, would be devastated by a single atom bomb. America may have a monopoly of atomic bombs but it will not enjoy immunity from casualties should atomic warfare break out. We talk of our way of life, and of how we must fight communism. Why should the Chinese be interested in our way of life? Have we made such a wonderful job of it? There is an old Chinese, proverb, “Enjoy yourself; it is later than you think “. Our version of it might well be, “Destroy yourself; it is earlier than you think”. The Chinese are not a bit interested in the doctrines of communism. They see communism only in terms of food, clothing and housing. Do honorable senators opposite imagine that the Chinese do not already know all about our way of life? Does anybody imagine that we can make friends with the Chinese by atom bombing them or talking about the evils of communism. The fight against Stalinism cannot be won by financing corrupt administrations such as those of Chiang Kai-shek, and Singhman Rhee. All that those people are doing is to break the hearts of the real lovers of liberty throughout the world. The Chinese know all about extraterritoriality., They are familiar with notices reading, “’ No dogs or Chinese allowed “. They know all about the iniquities of the French concession at Shanghai. They know that the French authorities obtained 25 per cent, of their revenue in Indo-China from the sale of opium and a further 10 per cent, from even more nefarious trades. These are lovely people to be telling the Chinese how they should live! For 2,000 years we have preached Christianity and practiced barbarism. That is what the Chinese say of us.
Recently, one of the United Kingdom Labour Ministers, Mr. Shinwell, said, perhaps unwisely, that General MacArthur had gone into Korea on his own initiative. I do not know anything about that, but I know that the Far Eastern Commission has ceased to exist. It is now General MacArthur’s .commission. Mr. Macmahon Ball was withdrawn from Japan because he was the only man who could stand up to General MacArthur. His recall was a tragedy. Pity help us all if Stalin makes an alliance with Japan as Hitler did ! Why was it, that the Northern Koreans, assuming that they were the aggressors, were able to walk through the Southern Koreans ? Was it because they had better arms, or was it because the Southern Koreans would not fight? If General MacArthur had said to the South Koreans, “ We shall give you arms ; but we shall also give you land and help you to get rid of the Singhman Rhee administration with its Japanese-trained, police “, the Korean campaign might have taken a very different course. When we were at war with Japan, and Australian prisoners were being placed in charge of Korean guards, we were told ‘ that our men were being handed over to the most brutal people on earth, but. what will the decent Korean people think when they know that the Japanese are supporting the American action against them? Many years ago, when the Japanese fought the Koreans they took 40,000 Korean ears back to their own country and buried them at the old Japanese capital Kyoto. Now the Koreans are being told that the Japanese, are doing everything possible to keep the Americans supplied. Why do the Americans not get rid of this man Singhman Rhee? The Russians have done two things. They have armed the North Koreans and they have given them land. They have got rid of the old feudal land-holders. We have not done those things.
Politically speaking, the democracies have not “ taken a trick “ in the last twenty years. Why have we not recognized the Chinese Communist Government? I venture to say, although 1 speak without authority, that had the Labour party been in office, Australia would have recognized Communist China long ago. Unless we can split Russia and China we shall not be in the race. They could have been split quite easily, but, of course, the task is much more difficult now. Let us imagine for a moment that we are in the position of the Chinese, and that an enemy, already established in Victoria, is advancing to the border of New South Wales. What would we think if all our hydro-electric works were on the Victorian side of the border, and were liable to fall into enemy hands? The United Nations forces have assured China that they have no intention to wage war beyond the Korean border, and that they are merely furthering the cause of peace, but how can the Chinese be sure of that?
We can win the fight against Russian imperialism if we go about it in the proper way. Russian imperialism has never been able to succeed against free elections. That has been shown clearly in Austria, Eastern Germany, Western Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand, and if some of the large estates were cut up in Italy, the Communist vote in that country too would shrink over night. Not many of the Italian Communists know very much about Karl Marx. The Chinese so-called Communists certainly know nothing about Marx, but the Russians know how to exploit the nationalist revolution and gain the support of the Chinese people. Why are the Russians >winning the cold war? Is it because they have a better political or economic system than we have? It is not. It is because they can break the hearts of th’) real liberals among which I am egotistical enough to include myself. By supporting Singhman Rhee and Chiang Kai-shek, the democracies played right into the hands of Russia. The Communists were not slow to take advantage of the situation. They said to the Chinese people, “Look what your administration is doing to you “. I have been fighting Stalinism for 30 years, not because it is socialism, but because it is the very antithesis of socialism. I am a socialist and I have never denied it. I have lived to see the Russian revolutionaries turn their country into the worst police State that the world has ever “known. Freedom of speech and individual liberty have been suppressed. Literature has been prostituted. In -fact there is no objective literature in Russia at all to-day. The Russian people are not permitted to think for themselves. Their leaders have exterminated all the socialists who fled from Hitler. The. Russians are winning the cold war only because of our stupidity.
A moment ago I said that, the democracies had not “ taken a trick “. I correct that. One trick has been taken by the ^Labour Government in Great Britain which brought India and Pakistan “on side “ with the democracies by granting them self-government. Where would we be to-day had it not been for Pandit Nehru with his English training and mystical eastern mind? I recall that when the then Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, was leaving Australia to attend a British Commonwealth conference, the then Leader of the Opposition Mr. Menzies, said that he had no time for Nehru, and that India should be either in the Empire or out of it. That was what the Liberal party thought about the situation. I have no hesitation in saying that the true democratic forces in Great Britain have done more than anything else to cause Communist candidates to lose their deposits at elections. At the last elections, even at Whitechapel the Communist was able to gain only a mere handful of votes. I do not suggest for a moment that Great Britain has not exploited its own people. Very few people know better than I do what Britain itself has done. We have heard a lot of criticism of the British Labour Government, but I say that it has revolutionized the United Kingdom. Since the war, it has been paying £300,000,000 a year in tribute to the United States of America. In spite of that, however, social services have been greatly increased. In that way the British Government has undermined Stalinism. It has supplied 180,000 hearing aids to deaf and semi-deaf people. . It has also supplied 30,000 pairs of spectacles, some of them to people who were half blind through trying to read without any aid at all. I know of the misery and degradation that the people of Great Britain suffered 100 years ago. I have read the accounts given by Marx and Engels of conditions in Great Britain in 1837. I have read Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Burns and Shelley. A hundred years ago, the British people fought for a principle, freedom of speech. To-day any person can stand up in Hyde Park, London, and say, “ Get rid of the King without any one taking very much notice of him. The people of Great, Britain believe in human liberty, individual liberty, political liberty and freedom of expression. If society is in a healthy state, there is no need to limit freedom of speech provided that speakers do not use indecent or offensive language.
The fight to-day is between one form of imperialism and another, and I am not much interested in it. While there may be some degree of idealism in what i3 described as the American way of life, I know that Stalinism cannot be beaten by trying to preserve monopoly capitalism. There is only one organization that can beat Stalinism. If the democracies want to succeed in Europe, they should enlist the aid of the Social Democrats in Germany instead of propping up the German war lords once again, just as they are propping up the Japanese war lords. Ten thousand Japanese politicians, admirals and generals have been “ de-purged “ by General MacArthur. That action played right into the hands of Stalin. It is the sort of thing that the Communists exploitAmerica to-day is an imperialistic nation. If I had to choose between Russian imperialism and American imperialism, I. should probably lean towards the latter because, in spite of “Jim Crowism “, at least it envisages some measure of democracy; but American imperialism will never beat Russian imperialism unless the Americans alter their tactics. Recently, a motion was moved in the United Nations Assembly to set up a committee to inquire into the Indian problem in South Africa. Although the motion was only for the setting up of a committee, the Australian representative voted against it and was the only British Commonwealth delegate to do so. Do honorable senators opposite believe that we can win the Chinese over to our side by such methods? I regret to say that the Labour party, too, has done some things that do not stand to its credit. We must show the coloured peoples that we have a real living faith - something better than they have. I do not believe that savage man has reached his present state of development only to destroy himself. I believe that man will, to a large degree, control nature, not for the purpose of exterminc. ting fellow men but for the purpose of lessening physical labour, and of developing his mind so that he may know something of the work of the poets, and of literature, painting, art, and music. That is what we should be doing instead of saying, “ You, Russians are barbarians. We are going to beat you with the atom bomb “. If .an atomic bomb were dropped on Russia to-night, Russia would overrun Germany and France within a month, and we should be compelled to bomb the French and the Germans also. . If we exterminate every Russian, where do we go from there? Germany and Russia would be desolated, and we would call the aftermath “ peace “. But the last position would be worse than the first. I hope that we shall retreat politically in Korea, that there will be a neutral zone established, and that the people who really love peace will say, “ A plague o: both your houses “. Australia must rouse itself from the terrible apathy that exists in this country, and in most other countries. Nationalism breeds supernationalism. Because a man is of a different colour, we are prone to think that he is inferior to us, although there is no scientific basis for that opinion. Because the pigment of his skin is different from ours, we say that inherently we have a greater capacity than he has. Those precepts built on racial prejudice have forced one nation against the other. The time has come when the human race must either exterminate itself or go forward to an era which even the most optimistic of us has never envisaged. It is for us to choose to-day whom we shall serve.
.- The budget that is before the chamber provides for the speeding up and expansion generally of our defence preparations. It also provides for the introduction of national and physical training. I point out that the Government is pledged, by a declaration contained in the preelection policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), to make adequate national preparation for defence. Surely it will be agreed that the supreme and vital responsibility of any government is to provide for the national safety and security. Everything else fades into insignificance when compared with the question of our national existence. What is the use of legislating for improved social conditions if the country’s existence is insecure? If a disastrous war should overtake us, many of our living standards and social amenities would go overboard. The first duty of any government, and indeed of this Parliament, is to make every -endeavour to prevent war. If world war should again overtake us, we would need to be -prepared to meet the enemy, and to fight for our survival.
Even the most casual observer must be deeply conscious of the international position, and of the tension and uncertainty in which we live to-day. I suggest to honorable senators that this is a time for clear thinking and plain speaking. Never before in our history has there been more cause for preparedness. No one can be blind to what is happening in Korea, in Europe, and in other parts of the world. Having regard to the world situation, any one who knowingly and deliberately delays Australia’s preparations to defend itself, commits a crime, not only against Australia, but also against the free peoples of the world. . In view of the world situation, we cannot prepare too soon: I have stated that this Government has received a mandate from the people to prepare the country’s defences. On the 10th December last, the people overwhelmingly supported the policy enunciated by the present Prime Minister. Who is to control this country : the elected majority or the rejected minority? That is a question facing us to-day. Any delay by a political party in preparing for defence is an admission by that party that it cannot make up its own mind. I wonder whether a certain political party is awaiting instructions from an outside and unrepresentative junta ?
What country to-day is threatening the peace of the world ? What nation is the prospective attacker? Many nations that were once masters of their own destinies are to-day satellite powers of Soviet Russia. Hungary, Poland. Bulgaria, Roumania, Lithuania, Estonia, and many others, come to mind. Who can say what country will ‘he the next victim? Australia is very vulnerable, and only preparedness will assure our survival as a. nation. Mr. William 0. Bullitt, a. former United States ambassador to Soviet Russia, stated in 1939 that Stalin controlled 170,000,000 people. To-day he directs the destinies of 800,000,000 people. His ultimate goal is the control of the entire human race, and it is clear that the Communists will do everything possible to attain that goal. The Communists will never stop unless we stop them. I trust that we have heard the last of the suggestion that communism is nothing more than a political philosophy. Stalin to-day sits, in the Kremlin with his planning committee, planning for world conquest. If Indo-China should fall, Burma and Thailand, as well as British Malaya, with its vast production of rubber, tin and high-grade bauxite, will also fall. Then, perhaps, it will be India’s turn. The British war-time Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, has stated quite openly that nothing stands between Europe’ and its complete subjugation to Soviet tyranny except the atomic bomb of the United States of America. In the House of Commons in July last, Mr. Churchill also stated that we are facing dangers as great as those we faced ten years ago. If it was dangerous in July last, how much more dangerous is it to-day ?
– Perhaps the honorable senator will tell us about it?
– I am endeavouring to do so, but I am afraid that the honorable senator will not understand. We are told that not only has Russia developed an important atomic industry and exploded its first atomic bomb, but that it also has a big production plan which will provide a stock-pile of atomic bombs in the course of a few years which can be, and probably will be, used in conjunction with powerful air forces, which to-day are acknowledged as ranking with the world’s best, and a huge fleet of longrange bomb-launching submarines. According to information that honorable senators may read in the library, there is every reason to believe that Russia is already producing four atomic bombs a month. The plain facts can be ignored only at supreme peril to our human race. It is common knowledge that Russia has the largest army in the world. It also has the largest submarine fleet, and possesses more military aircraft than does the United States of America. If and when Russia has sufficient atomic bombs to tempt it to attack, it will be able to do so, by operating from bases already in its possession, and to hit any part of the United States of America with an atomic bomb attack. I ask honorable senators what would happen to the Pacific nations and to Australia if the United States of America should be weakened and rendered immobile?
This is not a pretty picture, but I suggest that we must take a realistic view of it. With all of the factual information before us, how can we refuse to consider, or even delay, Australia’s preparations? Senator McKenna would have us believe that Russia is impotent and unable to wage war. The honorable senator must know that that country is far more advanced in war preparations than is any British country. We read almost every day in the newspapers that Russia is rushing preparations for war. Surely we must realize the gravity of the world situation, not only in Korea, Tibet and Malaya, but also in Europe where, I believe, the greatest danger exists. I am sure that in our preparedness lies our safety. Do honorable senators opposite, and those who are prepared to delay preparations for defence, suggest that we should approach Stalin and say, in effect, “ Please delay taking any action against us until the Labour party talks it over”?
The attitude of the Opposition today towards recruiting and national training is a very short-sighted one. It is selfish, dangerous to our existence as a nation, and damaging to Australia’s prestige in other parts of the world1. Are we to tell the United Nations organization and the United States of America that we are not prepared to co-operate in any action that will necessitate recruiting men or even allowing them to fight Australia’s battle outside our own borders!? How shortsighted that would be! If Australia’s battle is to be fought, I hope that it will be fought many miles away, and that our women and children will not be subjected to the hideous horrors of war in our cities and towns. Let us reflect for a moment upon the outrageous, savage, brutal and uncivilized acts that were committed in some countries during the last war. Surely no one outside a lunatic asylum would want similar acts to be committed in this country. The atti- tude adopted by the Opposition will create a feeling of dismay in the minds of Australians who are aware of the seriousness of the present world ‘situation. In the last World War, the Australian Government did not hesitate to appeal to America for aid, and America did not delay in coming to our assistance. It did not adopt an isolationist attitude or place restrictions upon American troops leaving its shores. Had America then adopted an attitude similar to that adopted by some honorable senators opposite in relation to compulsory military training, and had it said that it would not allow its troops to leave its shores, I am afraid that the history of the war would have been rather different from what it was. We all recall vividly that it was a near miracle that Australia was not invaded.
Every threat to the United Nations is a threat to every member of that organization, including Australia. How can we pay allegiance to the United Nations unless we are prepared, without qualification, to make a contribution to it? Senator McKenna has admitted that we have definite commitments to the United Nations and that the Security Council will determine the assistance that we will be asked to provide in the event of an outbreak of hostilities. The people of Australia are wondering, with a justifiable apprehension, whether the Labour party will agree to Australia providing the assistance for which the Security Council will ask when that time comes, if it does come. Is there in the minds of honorable senators opposite any doubt about the threat that exists in Indo-China, Burma, Malaya, Korea, and the other countries that I have mentioned? If we were to adopt the isolationist attitude taken up by some honorable senators opposite, we could not in the future expect troops of the United States of America to come to this country to protect us.
Although some members of the Opposition object to compulsory military training, they agree with compulsion, in other spheres of activity. They agree with compulsory education and with compulsory observance of the laws of the land. They advocate compulsory trade unionism and they accept compulsion from and meekly obey the edicts of a junta, the members of which are not elected by the people of this country. The members ofthe Australian Labour party are out of step with their colleagues in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. In those countries, Labour governments introduced compulsory military training.
– They were defeated afterwards.
– The Labour party is still in power in the United Kingdom. Other countries deem it to be desirable to re-arm with all possible speed, but we in Australia are apparently obliged to await the pleasure of an organization outside the Parliament. An attempt has been made to lead the people to believe that the national training scheme envisaged by the Government would disrupt industry and force thousands of men into military camps. That is a wild suggestion. It goes far beyond the proposals of the Government. The service chiefs do not want thousands of men in military camps. What they need is a means of bringing the militia forces up to a strength that would make part-time military training a reality instead of a wasted effort. In any grave emergency, a nucleus of selected and well-trained men is essential. Some persons say that they would give consideration to compulsory military training when a national crisis arose. What a fallacy! There would not be time to make preparations when a crisis arose. Fortunately, this country had time to prepare its defences in the last two world wars, but if a third world war should come - which, God forbid - it would come like a thief in the night. It would be useless for us to cry out, “ Give us time to prepare our defences ; give us a couple of years to hold conferences and talk about it”.
In 1947, the then Minister for Defence, Mr. Dedman, said -
To rest content on a hard-won victory and let our defences run down would be inviting a future catastrophe.
I agree with Mr. Dedman, and I wish that honorable senators -opposite did also. I believe that no democracy is ever fully prepared for war, but there are minimum “levels below which no realistic democracy should allow its defence preparations to fall. That is one of the principles upon which this budget is based, and surely the experience of this country in critical war years has proved that principle to be a good one.
Honorable senators opposite are hopelessly out of touch with reality and Australian sentiment in this matter. It is impossible to reconcile their attitude with the Labour party platform, which demands full co-operation with other units of the Commonwealth against aggression, the establishment of a properly balanced defence organization, and co-operation with the United Nations to maintain international peace and security. What can those pious expressions mean, coming from a political party that is opposed to making preparations foi- the defence of this country, to compulsory military training for home defence purposes, and to voluntary enlistment for overseas service ? Compulsory military training will not entail an obligation to go overseas, but the Labour party has refused to assist a drive for voluntary recruits for the Permanent Army or the Citizen Military Forces, and has declined to sanction anything other than voluntary enlistment for national trainees. It is incredible that, despite the grim lessons of two world wars, some persons in this country are still content to rely upon a policy of military improvization in an hour of crisis. I remind the Senate that in recent gallup polls the people of Australia overwhelmingly approved of the military training scheme that has been presented to the Parliament by the Government.
In conclusion, I say that we must be prepared to collaborate with the United Nations and with other countries of the British Commonwealth in an overall defence plan and be prepared to fight for the security of Australia in any area in which the use of our forces is deemed to be most conducive to ultimate victory. Those who have experienced the realities of war hope fervently that, if war comes, the battle for Australia will be fought, anywhere but on our own soil. National preparedness is a subject which, above all others, should not be dealt with in terms of political values. In this time of national crisis, let us submerge party differences. I appeal to the Senate generally to take a national view of this national scheme. Lot us, irrespective of party, combine for the security of our country.
SenatorMORROW (Tasmania) [9.56]. -I am astounded when I hear honorable senators opposite talking about war. They, together with the newspapers, are war-mongers. They are attempting to persuade the people of this country that we are on the verge of war.
SenatorSpicer. - Senator McKenna said something about that.
– What I am saying is based upon my studies. I am not speaking with anybody else’s tongue or thinking with anybody else’s mind. I believe that I am better equipped than are some honorable senators opposite to express an opinion upon this matter, because I have studied it for some time. Senator Guy said that the newspapers had said this and the newspapers had said that.
– I said nothing of the kind. I did not mention newspapers.
– We know that the newspapers are attempting deliberately to create a war psychology. We know that they are doing that because they want the working people of this country to be regimented in order that they maybe subjected to greater exploitation.
A great deal has been said to-night about what will happen in the near future. It has been said that Russia will attack us. I challenge any honorable senator opposite to quote one authoritative statement that Russia wants to declare war upon Australia or any other country. I have already told the Senate that the Americans have said, “We do not put armies in the field to ‘ gut ‘ one another. We send aeroplanes over at 40,000 feet to kill the women and children whilst they are praying “. I gave the Senate my authority for that statement. Can honorable senators opposite quote one instance of the Russians having said that they want to do that to us?
– They would do it without quoting anything.
– Where is the authority for that statement? The honorable senator cannot produce it. His only authority is the newspapers whose propaganda he is putting over in this chamber.
SenatorVincent. - Where did Senator Morrow get his information from?
– From the American newspaper that I read to the Senate some time ago. As I see the present position, we are a long way from war, but certain people are trying to provoke war. What are we doing in Korea? If there were no tungsten, graphite, nickel or iron deposits in Korea our troops would not be in that country to-day. The situation in Korea was created because certain nations wanted to maintain their forces on a war basis and to obtain raw materials for defence purposes. As all honorable senators are aware, Korea has rich deposits of strategic war materials and certain nations are endeavouring to obtain greater quantities of those materials for purposes of exploitation. That is the sole reason why the forces of the United Nations are fighting in Korea to-day. I read in a tory newspaper recently that Chinese Communist soldiers came upon four British “ Tommies “ in Korea who were stranded with a broken-down weapons carrier. One of the Chinese soldiers said, “ What are you doing here; which way are you going?” The “Tommies” replied, “ We are going south “. The Chinese soldier then said, “ You had better get going. We do not want to hurt you, but we just want you to get off the peninsula “. Compare that treatment with the sort of treatment meted out by South Koreans to Chinese prisoners as depicted in newsreels which were recently exhibited in this country. I was disgusted to see South Korean troops kicking Chinese prisoners in the face and bashing them across the head. We should he ashamed of such incidents.
The definition of “aggression” was laid down by the League of Nations in May, 1933. According to Keesung’s Contemporary Archives, 27th November to the 4th December, 1923, at page 6125 - an accepted diplomatic dictionary used by diplomats of all countries - aggression is defined as follows : -
The aggressor in an International Conflict shall be considered that State which is the first to take any of the following actions: -
In particular, justification for attack cannot be based upon -
The internal situation in a given State. as for instance -
We have committed an act of aggression by sending our troops to Korea, an action which may well lead to the outbreak of a third world war.Surely we should be sane enough to do everything in our power to prevent another world war. It is the duty of all the United Nations to withdraw our troops to below the thirty-eighth parallel and to summon a conference of its members with a view to the settlement of the Korean dispute without further bloodshed. It has been said that the forces of North Korea invaded South. Korea on the 27th June. On the 14th March, thirteen South Korean deputies were convicted by a South Korean court and sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from one and one-half to ten years for having protested against South Korea having violated the sovereignty of North Korea. The invasion of South Korea by the North Korean forces did not take place until more than three months later. In taking part in the Korean campaign we have violated a declaration to which Australia was a signatory.
This budget, which was introduced for the purpose of providing for the requirements of the Government for the ensuing twelve months, is based on false premises. This Government, emulating Chiang Kaishek, now proposes to collect taxes not due until 1952 and to spend them in 1951. Chiang Kai-shek carried that policy so far that eventually he was forced to collect taxes ten years ahead. What happened to China as the result of that policy? In that country inflation reached such high levels that the Chinese dollarwas eventually depreciated by 4000 per cent. We may experience the same degree of inflation in this country if the proposals in this budget are repeated again next year. Having collected the taxes due in 1952 and spent them in 1951, what is to happen in 1952? The Government will then be forced either to increase taxes or to extract additional moneys from sections of the community which are then enjoying a temporary period of prosperity. Such a policy must lead to financial collapse. We should profit by the experiences of other countries in this respect.
During this debate honorable senators opposite have repeatedly said that we must increase production in order to reduce prices. That has been the catch cry of the Government ever since it assumed office. When a former Prime Minister, the present right honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes) returned to Australia from England in 1920 his catch cry was “ Produce or perish “. Stimulated by his appeal the people continued to increase production. By 1928 they had produced too much. Over production in the late ‘twenties hastened the onset of the depression. Notwithstanding the dreadful experiences of the depression the Government maintains that we must increase production or perish. Only a few days ago the press reported the existence of a glut of potatoes in the United States of America. The report reads as follows: -
The surplus is so big the Agricultural Department has destroyed 26,700,000 bushels this year - enough to provide average helpings for about 12,000,000 people for at least a year.
The Government, through its price-support programme, bought potatoes from farmers to keep up prices.
On the basis of the argument advanced by honorable senators opposite, one would have thought that the price of potatoes in the United States would have fallen as the result of the surplus production. Not at all. The price of potatoes in that country is higher now than it has ever been before. We have also been told that if we produce more we shall be able to enjoy a higher standard of living. Our standard of living has not improved since 1907. In that year the basic wage in New South Wales was £2 2s. a week. To-day, it is approximately £8 6s. a week. In 1907 the price of gold which, as honorable senators know, is the measure of value, was £3 17s. an ounce; to-day it is approximately £16 an ounce. Gold has not increased in value but the purchasing value of the £1 has been depreciated by approximately 400 per cent. The basic wage, to have the sam,e purchasing power to-day as it had in 1907 would need to be increased to £8 8s. a week. Thus, our standard of living has not increased since 1907. Notwithstanding that, supporters of the Government contend that we should produce more in order to reduce prices. Statements of that kind, which are made principally to distract the attention of the people from the real causes of rising prices, are misleading and untrue. As honorable senators are aware we are now producing millions of pounds more wool than we can use. Has the price of wool been reduced as the result of that over production? Not at all. It is still soaring.
– The price of a man’s suit is increasing.
– That is so. In order to prove how misleading is the contention that by increasing production we shall reduce prices let us consider- the position in relation to a few basic commodities such a bread, butter, rice, meat, lamb and mutton. During 1949-50 Australia produced 1,503,000 short tons of flour. We consumed 727,613 tons, leaving a surplus of 775,387 tons over and above our requirements. Did the price of bread fall as the result of that over-production? Not at all. On the contrary it has in-
Creased, and there is now talk of a further increase. In the same year Australia produced 168,000 tons of butter. We consumed 87,000 tons, so we had a surplus of 81,000 tons. We all know that the price of butter did not fall in consequence.
– Would the honorable senator like to produce butter at to-day’s price?
– During the same year, Australia produced approximately 30,000 tons of rice. But how much rice were the people able to purchase ? Many people in this country were unable to purchase any rice. In the same year, Australia produced 609,000 tons of beef and veal. We consumed only 526,576 tons. Production was, therefore, 82,424 tons more than our requirements. But did the price of beef fall? No ! In fact, the retail price of meat has been beyond the reach of many people, and it is still rising almost every day. There has been, surplus production in all of the basic commodities that I have mentioned, but prices are still soaring. Yet the Government continues to tell the people of this country that if production is increased the prices of basic ‘commodities will be reduced. It is deliberately misleading the people.
– The honorable senator has quoted aggregate terms.
– Prices will not be reduced until saturation point has been reached. Stagnation will then set in, and it will be followed by a depression because the people will not have sufficient money to buy the goods that they need.
– When does thehonorable senator consider that saturation point will be reached?
– It is coming rapidly. Already there is a surplus of production of butter, wheat, eggs, and potatoes in the United States of America, and surpluses are being recorded in Australia also.
– The result that the honorable senator has mentioned has not so far been reflected in world prices.
– As I have already pointed out, the inflationary trend is continuing to reduce the purchasing power of our currency. The Government will increase the inflationary pressure by expending prepayments of next year’s taxes during the present financial year.
Although the majority of immigrants that are being brought to this country are estimable people, I consider that the Australian citizens are as good as the best of the migrants. Our immigration programme is costing the taxpayers of this country a considerable amount of money. In order to encourage an increase of population by our people I suggest that the Government should provide newly married couples with homes or lend them sufficient money to buy homes. Such loans should be of approximately £3,000, in view of the increased cost of home building. The loan should be reduced by a third upon the arrival of each of the first three children. By that means the Government would develop an asset of considerable value to the nation. I shall now revert to the subject of increased production. I hope that when the Government exhorts the people to greater production honorable senators opposite will remember the figures that I have cited.
– They were established on a wrong basis.
– I have quoted official statistics. The following table of profits that have been earned by various companies during the last couple of years which has been compiled by a reliable authority is interesting: -
I point out that the profits of Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited have a direct bearing on the cost of homebuilding .in this country, because that company controls most of the zinc produced in Australia. As honorable senators know, zinc is an essential commodity used in connexion with the galvanizing of iron. Because this company has exported large quantities of zinc, it has contributed to a shortage of galvanized iron in Australia. The directors of the company are concerned not with the Australian home-building industry but with the earning of increased profits. This is proved by the fact that the profit that has been disclosed in the company’s balance-sheet this year exceeds by more than 110 per cent, its profit in 1948.
As I have stated before, the basic wage to-day will not buy the same quantity of goods as did the basic wage in 1907. It is therefore evident that the purchasing power of the wages of the workers has depreciated considerably.
– What does the honorable senator think that the companies will do with the profits that he has mentioned ?
– The large shareholders will have a good time with their share of the profits. In almost every edition of the various newspapers in this country reference is made to public companies watering down their stock by issuing bonus shares. Recently, J. Fielding Limited made a bonus issue of three shares for every two shares held. This is the means by which the directors of companies are hoodwinking the people and concealing the huge profits that are being made. Honorable senators opposite are endeavouring to conceal from the people the fact that they are being exploited. If some supporters of the Government are ignorant of this subject they should study the position closely, because by their present actions they are betraying their electors. The figures that I have cited show that under the capitalist system the greater the production that is achieved the greater the profits that will accrue to the employers and exploiters.
– What are the honorable senator’s views about profitsharing systems?
– I understand that the Government intends to introduce legislation to impose a tax on excess profits. However, I could not imagine that the present Government would unduly tax big business. If it did, support for it by that section of the community would not be forthcoming at the next general election. I do not consider that supporters of the Government would “bite the hand that feeds them”. The budget is a fictitious document, because it is based upon fictitious figures.
Debate (on motion by Senator McCallum) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 3707).
– This measure gives effect to a Tariff Board recommendation to provide a tariff protection of ls. 6d. a square yard on rayon. It marks the progress of a new industry in this country. The Opposition is in accord with the views of the Government in this matter and considers that the proposed protection will greatly assist the development of this valuable industry. Prior to the recent war, when Australia obtained about two-thirds of its requirements of rayon from Japan, the government of the day assisted a small number of textile manufacturers in this country to import automatic machines for use in the industry. As a result, those manufacturers were able to supply the Government with essential goods during the war. After the war, the government of the day, realizing that it should sponsor the expansion of this industry, made available as many facilities as possible to the textile manufacturers. Because of the assistance that was rendered to the industry by the former Government that industry has made remarkable progress. As has been pointed out in the Tariff Board’s report, Australia requires about 50,000,000 square yards of rayon a year. Working only two shifts, the Australian mills are producing about 20,000,000 square yards of rayon a year, and it is expected that within six months production will be increased to 25,000,000 or 30,000,000 square yards. Difficulty is being experienced in finding sufficient labour to work three shifts, and it has even been claimed that we are trying to go too fast, and are putting in too much capital equipment. The New South Waler mills of Burlington Mills (Aust.) Ltd. are situated outside Maitland, which is not far from Newcastle. At the Greta camp nearby, between 5,000 and 6,000 migrants are housed before being distributed to various parts of Australia. The presence of so many New Australians so near to this plant points to the need for these new industries. By drawing upon suitable immigrants, it should not be long before sufficient labour is available to work a third shift at the mills, which will then be able to provide nearly all of Australia’s requirements, even with the present plant. Moreover, when the manufacturers are assured of the local .market, and of protection again si overseas competition, there will be all inducement to install more capital equipment. Before long, Australian mills will be supplying all the rayon goods that Australia needs.
One of the pleasing features of the industry, as was pointed out by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) is that 90 per cent, of the mills are situated outside the capital cities. There is one big mill near the Victorian border, and another near Maitland, in New South Wales. I have often heard honorable senator? in this chamber deplore the fact that coal-mining communities are isolated and that there are no nearby industries to provide employment for the sons and daughters of miners. That position has been in some degree remedied by the establishment of the rayon mills at Maitland, where employment is provided for the sons and daughters of miners, and of farmers in the surrounding district. It is no longer necessary for them to leave their own district in order to find work. Thus, the establishment of the rayon mills has proved to be an important step towards decentralization. The factory at Maitland employs about 1,200 persons. It was established during the war for war purposes, but after the war the Government induced a company to take it over and use it for peace time production, and to-day it is one of the most efficient plants in Australia, and perhaps in the world.
Because a rayon weaving industry has been established in Australia, Courtaulds (Australia) Limited, a subsidiary of the great British firm that manufactures rayon yarn, is about to establish a factory in Australia to cost between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000, and the contract for the buildings and plant has already been let. Very soon, all phases of the industry will be established in Australia, and it will be able to supply Australia’s requirements, and even export to other countries.
During the war there was a great shortage of cord for tyres. We were told that the making of such cord presented great technical difficulties and that the work could not be done in Australia. However, our need was so great that it was decided to attempt manufacture here. Now, in Australia, tyre cord, of a quality as good as that made anywhere else in the world, is being manufactured at a world competitive price.
The Opposition supports the duty on rayon goods, and if any justification for its imposition be needed, it is only necessary to point to what is being done in other countries. In Great Britain, there is a protective duty of 7s. 3d. a square yard, and in Czechoslovakia the duty is as high as £2 10s. a square yard. In fact, every other producing country has a high tariff. In Australia, it is only ls. 6d. a square yard. However, the real justification for the duty lies in the fact that it was recommended by the Tariff Board, an independent body which reported that the industry had reached a stage that warranted the granting of protection.
There has been some misapprehension about the possible effect of the duty on the cost of living. Members of the Parliament have been deluged with letters and pamphlets from interested parties, who have claimed that the granting of this duty will increase the cost of living. I point out that, in the “ C “ series index of nearly 200 items, only one rayon item is included. That item is a frock, and the duty could make much difference to the cost. But, even if it did make an appreciable difference, the duty would still be justified on the ground that it served the interests of Australia. However, it does not follow automatically that the duty of ls. 6d. will be passed on to the public. There are price-fixing authorities in Australia, and even if they are not as effective as they could be on a Commonwealth basis, when fixing the price of rayon goods, they will not automatically allow the duty to be included. I suggest that the imposition of the duty will tend to reduce prices rather than to increase them. Once the industry is assured of a market, it will be induced to expand. Already it is most efficient, and when more plant is installed, and labour is obtained to work three shifts instead of two, the product should be cheaper.
While it has been necessary to import rayon yarn, the Australian industry has been subjected to many disabilities that will disappear once the industry is properly established here. At present, the manufacturers obtain their raw material from Great Britain, and in the past they had to pay over 2s. per lb. more than was paid by British manufacturers. The position has been steadily improving in this respect until to-day our manufacturers are paying only 4id. per lb. more than the British manufacturers. When Courtaulds Limited establish their factory in Australia for the supply of raw materials, our manufacturers of rayon goods will be able to compete with those of any other nation in the world. The Government is acting wisely by giving effect to the recommendation of the Tariff Board. There is ample evidence of tremendous growth in this industry in the last four or five years. That development has come, appropriately enough, at a time when hundreds of thousands of immigrants have been pouring into this country. Our aim is to expand our industries as rapidly as possible so that, in the event of another war, we shall be practically self-sufficient. An adequate local supply of rayon is absolutely essential. To-day, the Australian rayon industry supplies two-thirds of Australia’s requirements. Within” a year or two, there should be no need to import any rayon. By that time the Australian industry should he well established, and able to meet world-wide competition. The Opposition wholeheartedly supports the bill.
– This is a very important measure. Senator Arnold has put the position very clearly. He has a thorough knowledge of the industry which has been established near the locality in which he lives. The Government is acting wisely in encouraging this industry. The establishment of secondary industries in this country was given a great impetus by the fiscal policy of the Scullin Government. The Australian people realized that if Australia was to develop, something had to be done about establishing more secondary industries. The rayon industry was established during World War II., and in the war years it did an excellent job. It has carried on its operations in a most efficient manner. Its equipment, including machinery, is the best that is obtainable, and I am sure that the venture will meet with great success. There has been considerable controversy about granting protection to this industry in view of the fact that it will be necessary, for some time at least, to pay a little more for rayon goods, hut I agree with Senator Arnold that when the industry is working to full capacity and is assured of adequate supplies of raw materials, it will have no difficulty in competing with overseas manufacturers. Any industry that has to depend upon the importation of basic raw material is at a serious disadvantage. I am pleased to learn that the Courtauld organization has already embarked upon an undertaking which eventually will supply raw material for the rayon industry. I am sure that, in the years to come, the Government will look back with satisfaction upon this legislation.
The schedule also deals with timber, some of which is to be admitted duty free and some is to be subjected to a lower rate of duty. I commend the Minister’s action in lowering or abolishing customs duties on timber under Customs By-law. It is clear that the timber industry in this country need not fear governments. The industry certainly had no reason to fear the Chifley Government, and I hope it will not have any cause to fear the present Government. The great demand for timber in this country justifies the action proposed in this measure. I am in full accord with this bill, and there is no reason why the measure should be debated at length.
– in reply. - I thank the Opposition for the support it has accorded to this measure through the very interesting speeches delivered by Senator Arnold and Senator Courtice. I am sure that the people of Australia will be heartened and encouraged by this evidence of the fact that, on important measures such as tariff, the Government and the Opposition can see eye to eye. AH parties are agreed that all Australian industries that warrant encouragement on a selective basis should be so encouraged. There are, of course, some people who still believe in free trade, but the old free trade versus protection battle was won by the protectionists in the first decade of this century. Under the policy of selective protection, we have had the satisfaction of seeing a healthy economy established in this country, and I am sure that the industries that come within the scope of this measure will add considerably to our economic stability. Again, I thank the Senate for its cooperation.
Question resolved in the aflirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 3704).
– This simple measure warrants little discussion. Its purpose is to reinsert in two places in Excise Item 11 of the schedule to the Excise Tariff the words “ per gallon “ which were inadvertently omitted from Act No. 3 of 1948. The item refers to petrol. As the 1948 act validated collections since the 15th November, 1946, it has been necessary to insert in this bill a clause validating collections since that date at the rate of 8½d. a gallon. The amendment is of a purely administrative nature and does not vary the duties now being collected.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 3708).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
– 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 negative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill- (on motion by Senator McLeay) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to provide for a temporary extension of the present term of office of producer members of the Australian Egg Board to allow elections to be organized and conducted in the poultry-raising industry to determine future producer representation on the board. The first three-year term of office of the six producer members appointed to the board under the Egg Export Control Act 1947-1948 to represent producers in each State expires on the 31st December this year. The act provides that members representing producers should be elected, wherever practicable. Alternatively, where, in the opinion of the Minister directly concerned, it is not practicable to hold an election of producers in any State the Minister, after consultation with representatives of egg.producer organizations in that State, mav himself make the appointment to the board. This was done by the Minister in office in 1947 - necessarily, so I understand, by reason of the time factor. There is such a lack of uniformity in existing legislation relating to the egg industry in the various States that the organization necessary to ensure the satisfactory conduct of elections- amongst egg-producers in the different .States is so extensive as to require many months of preparation. In the five States in which elections are held to determine the personnel of State egg boards, there is no common ground, even as regards the definition of an egg-producer. Moreover, the times at which the State elections are held vary and, consequently, some existing State rolls would necessarily be out of date at any given time that elections of producer representatives to the Commonwealth Board might be held. In one State where no elections take place, the position as regards the enrolment of electors and the conduct of a Commonwealth election will present still greater problems.
There have been strong representations on the subject from various sections of the egg industry, and the Government is convinced that the egg-producing industry as a whole should have the final say, on a State basis, as to who shall, or shall not, be its representatives on the Australian Egg Board. The system of election i9 the most democratic method and, in the final analysis, the most satisfactory one, since it gives every interested producer the opportunity to have a say in the standard of representation of his industry in what is a most important sphere.
The amount of work involved and the time required to organize elections throughout the various States, are so great that it has been found quite impossible to make the necessary arrangements for producer elections in the time available. The alternative to appointments by the Minister for a three-year period is a temporary extension of the terms of office of existing producer members of the board to allow sufficient time for elections to be conducted in each State. As it stands, the Commonwealth act does, not permit this, and the purpose of the present bill is to make such a course possible.
Only producer representatives on the board will be affected by the provisions of the bill. Appointments of the other four members - that is two with commercial experience, one representing employees engaged in the industry, and one representing the Commonwealth Government - will not be affected. They will be made in accordance with the provisions of the existing act.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Courtice) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’sullivan) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The customs tariff alterations to which this bill relates were introduced on the 26th October, 1950, and the statement which has been distributed to honorable senators shows a comparison of the rates of duties under each item appearing in the bill and those operating under the Customs Tariff 1933-1949. The reductions, as indicated in the comparative statement, which are made in the customs duties on imported matches, correspond to those made in an excise tariff bill which will be presented for the consideration of honorable senators later to-day. The object of the bills is to obviate an increase in the retail price of matches.
Debate (on motion by Senator Courtice) adjourned.
Bill- received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’sullivan) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill, relating to excise duties on matches, is complementary to legislation, concerning customs duties on imported, matches which honorable senators considered earlier to-day. The bill effects a reduction of 9d. on 8,640 matches, which is the equivalent of a gross of boxes each, containing 60 matches. The reduction, will operate from the beginning of thepresent financial year and arrangements have been made to refund the excesscollections which have been made. Thevariation will not affect the present retailprice of matches, its purpose being tooffset increased costs in the industry and to obviate an increase of the present price. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator COURTICE) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 3703).
– The second reading-speech of theAttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) on this measure was delivered earlier to-day, and in the course of that speech he made plain the purpose of the bill before theSenate. It is designed to extend for a period of twelve months to- the 31st December, 1951, the outstanding national security regulations that are kept in force to-day by virtue of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act which has operated to the present time. The various regulations, orders and proclamations under the present act will expire at the end of this year unless, by legislation, their effect is continued into next year. It is rather a tribute to the manner in which the Labour Government kept on reducing the old national security resolutions and regulations to find that this Government now accepts the hard remaining core of them as essential to the interests of Australia.
– We have discarded a few of them.
– A few have gone, such as those relating to rationing, but the bulk of those that were extant a year ago are being carried over into the new period by virtue of this bill. A number of the regulations still in force are to be translated presently into legislation. Their subject-matters are covered by various heads in the Constitution, and there is no difficulty in translating them to permanent legislation. Two difficulties arise. The first is the difficulty of getting the departments concerned to make up their minds, and the second is the constant difficulty of the parliamentary draftsman in finding sufficient time to attend to all the drafting that is required by a government. I have no doubt that but for the legislative programme and the burdens that have been cast on the parliamentary drafting staff, a number of the items that are preserved under this bill would have been enshrined already in the permanent legislation of the Parliament. ‘ Those regulations that arc preserved merely for the purpose of winding-up operations, as well as those that continue certain industrial laws, call for no comment and obviously should be carried on. The remainder of the regulations must of course, from a constitutional viewpoint, have a direct relation to defence, and I am sure that the AttorneyGeneral will agree with me that but for recent events the hold that those regulations have under the defence power would become increasingly slender. “Many of the regulations passed under the National Security Act, and some of those under the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act, have been declared invalid by the High Court. In the course of his second-reading speech, the Attorney-General himself acknowledged some doubt whether all of the regulations purported to be continued under this measure would be upheld if they were seriously contested. Their content in most instances is not of vast importance. Many of the general and supplementary regulations which are preserved under this measure relate to the payment of compensation. Some of them deal with matters of machinery that cause the Opposition no concern.
I note that the draftsman, in the recitals of the bill, endeavours to find what further basis for the bill can be gathered from the fact that Australia has some commitments abroad, and that whilst this country is not at war, it has certain of its troops engaged in Malaya, Korea and in occupied Japan. The draftsman, very wisely, is seeking to squeeze the last ounce of substance from the defence power in order to support the bill presented to the Senate. The Opposition has no objection to assisting him in his purpose because honorable senators on this side of the chamber think that the Government will find it necessary to continue such of these regulations as are still extant.
The one matter of great substance is the continuation of the economic organization regulations and those dealing with capital issues. As the Minister in his second-reading speech pointed out, those are matters that normally would not be in force under the defence power. They must rest on some claim that they form part of the unwinding of the war effort, apart again from the recent events to which I referred a moment ago. In his second-reading speech the Minister stated -
Whatever the theoretical position may be, it is necessary, in the interest of defence, that these regulations shall be enforced during the coming year. I have in mind particularly, but not exclusively, the National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations which are concerned with the control of interest rates, and the National Security (Capital Issues) Regulations, which deal with the issue of capital, the giving of securities and mortgages, and the taking of deposits.
The necessary acceleration of our defence programme has, however, led the Government to reconsider the necessity for some control of this kind. Serving, as they do, to assist in preventing the dissipation of resources necessary to defence on activities which do not fulfil defence purposes, these regulations contribute to the defence of Australia.
It is significant that the Government, soon after it assumed office, indicated that, although it would not repeal the capital issues regulations, it would give automatic consent to any applications that were made. For all practical purposes, it abolished those regulations. Now, after eleven months of office, it is interesting to find the Government announcing its intention to give full effect to the regulations.
The two types of regulation that we are discussing at the moment have a major impact upon the economic life of this country. Under them, rates of interest upon money deposited and borrowed can be controlled, the bodies with which deposits may be lodged can be specified, and control can be exercised over alterations of the memoranda of association of companies, and of the giving of securities and mortgages. They play a vital part in conditioning the financial element in business. The Government has frankly confessed that its object in retaining the capital issues regulations is to ensure that, in the present difficult state of our economy and the unsettled world situation, the resources of this country shall be diverted from non-essential activities to activities that contribute to the real welfare of the nation and, in particular, are of value to its .defence. The Opposition is completely in accord with that objective, but I regret that I am human enough to be unable to resist the temptation to direct attention to what the present Government parties said last November when they were before the electors. In the joint policy speech to which I have referred so often, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said -
You cannot have a. controlled economy without controlling human beings, who are still the greatest of all economic factors.
By revivifying, if I may use that term, the capital issues regulations, the Government is, in effect, planning the economy of this country. If what the Prime
Minister said last November was true, it is controlling human beings. If the capital issues regulations are strictly enforced, some businesses engaged in the manufacture or sale of luxury goods - I presume that the regulations will ,be directed at businesses of that kind - will be compelled to close down, and it may be necessary for their employees to transfer to activities that are regarded by the Government as being more essential to the economy and defence of this country. I do not complain about that. In a time of stress and emergency, a government must have the courage to do unpleasant things in the national interest. I realize that if the present drift of our economy is to be arrested, the Government must do unpleasant things and take drastic action. One of the complaints of the Opposition is that this Government has not acted strongly or often enough in connexion with prices and the control of the economy of the country in the interests of the people. I hope that when this bill is passed the Government will not treat the regulations as dead letters but will assess the true needs of this country and, if the country is threatened with danger or if our economy is off balance, will have the courage to take the action that so plainly will suggest itself.
I commend the Government for having abandoned the thoughts that it put before the electors last November and for having recognized that, even in the freest of countries, the government that is elected by all the people must, in the interests of the nation, be allowed to exercise an overriding authority. It is highly desirable that people should be permitted to do exactly what they like, but licence can be confused with liberty. In the history of a nation, the time does arrive when the Government must step in and take action in the interests of the whole body politic.
The Opposition raises no objection to these regulations being continued in force for a further period, and rejoices in the thought that the Government has seen the error of its ways and realizes that, in the national interest, there must be some direction. I look forward to the Government translating the power that it will have under this bill into really effective action.
– in reply - I thank the Opposition for its co-operation in accepting this measure without a lengthy debate. At this hour, I shall not engage in a discussion of the merits or otherwise of controls, but having regard to what Senator McKenna said, it is only fair that I should say that the policy speech to which he referred was delivered twelve months ago and that since then a tremendous change has occurred in the international situation. The Government parties have never subscribed to the ridiculous doctrine that controls should never be imposed upon a community, however dire the necessity for them may be. We differ from the Opposition in that the Opposition believes in controls for their own sake.
– Let us state our own policy.
– I shall not engage in a lengthy discussion of this matter. I suggest that the Opposition believes in the doctrine of socialism, and that involves a belief in the doctrine of the imposition of controls for their own sake. The Government parties do not believe in that doctrine. We do not believe that controls of themselves have merit. We have always been ready, and have manifested that readiness in the past, to impose upon the community controls that are necessary for the purpose of ensuring the security and defence of the country. The explanation of the change of the Government’s policy in relation to capital issues control - a change which I frankly acknowledged in my second-reading speech on this matter - is to be found in the fact that during the last twelve months a tremendous and unfortunate deterioration has occurred in our international relations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I rise only to say that the statement by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) that the Labour party desired controls just because they were controls was a complete mis-statement of the posi tion. Having made that comment, I do not propose to carry the matter further.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed (vide page 3704).
– The Opposition raises no objection to this bill, the object of which is to amend the Commonwealth Railways Act 1917-1936. Clause 2 of the hill is designed to amend section 4 of that act in order to make it possible for the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner at any rate to attempt to prosecute successfully persons who are detected travelling, without having a ticket, in any part of a train other than in a carriage. The clause seeks to insert in the principal act the following definition : - “Carriage” includes brake-van, goods truck, horse-box, motor vehicle or other vehicle.
A remarkable decision was given against the Commissioner when a man was prosecuted for travelling on a train without being in possession of a ticket. The man was riding on a truck, and the magistrate ruled that the truck was not a carriage and dismissed the charge.
The bill seeks to give the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner the advantage of the Commonwealth Public Service long service leave provisions. Possibly Commonwealth Commissioners of Railways were not previously brought within the scope of those provisions, because, unlike other officers and employees of the Commonwealth railways, they are appointed and re-appointed from time to time by direction of the Minister. If the Commissioner remains in the employment of the Commonwealth for a sufficiently long period to qualify for long service leave, there is no reason why he should not have the advantage of the long service leave provisions.
At present the Commissioner has the right to appoint persons or promote officers to positions which carry a salary not exceeding £500 a year. Appointments or promotions to positions which carry a salary in excess of that figure are subject to the approval of the Governor-General. It is proposed that the salary limit in this connexion shall be increased to £850 a year, the salary to be ascertained without reference to variations made in accordance with variations of the cost of living or to any allowance.
When the bill has been passed, the commissioner will have the right to appoint, without reference to any one, an officer or employee to any position the salary of which does not exceed £850 a year. Provision has been made in the original legislation for the appointment of an appeal board to which any officer or employee who believes that he has been unfairly passed over in any appointment or promotion may appeal. I am not very much impressed by the existing constitution of the board. It consists of two heads of branches who have been appointed by the Commissioner, and a representative of the employees appointed by the union. In my opinion the board should be presided over by an independent chairman. If that were done the interests of the employees would be better protected-. However, no request has been made by the union for a variation of the constitution of the board. It may be said that in most instances the official nominees on the board would not be connected with the branch in which the appealing employee is engaged. Although that may be so, there must be many instances in which the head of a branch virtually adjudicates on an appeal by one of his own officers or employees. I realize that this matter is not covered by the bill. I mention it in passing merely as a matter which the Government might consider worthy of investigation. The Opposition will permit the bill to be passed without further delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate.
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed (vide page 3701).
– The purpose of the bill is to effect two amendments to the Interim Forces Benefits Act 1917, and to express the principles that the provisions of the legislation relating to members of the forces in the 1939-45 war, consisting of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act and the Re-establishment and Employment Act, relating to war pensions, repatriation, re-establishment and other benefits, shall apply to members of the forces who enlisted before the 1st July, 1947, and that the benefits available to members who enlisted after the 30th June, 1947, shall be those expressed in the Interim Forces Benefits Act. Honorable senators will recall that after the cessation of hostilities in World War II., in the short period during which the members of the forces were being demobilized, an interim force was raised to maintain the efficiency of the naval, military and air forces. Some of the members of the interim force consisted of members of the Australian Imperial Force who had served for a considerable time in various theatres of war, some of them with the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in Japan. Anomalies were discovered in relation to the entitlement of the members of the interim force to the benefits of the legislation to which I have referred. The first amendment covers not only members of the permanent forces, but also members of the citizen forces, and is designed to rectify anomalies concerning part-time service and the rights of those who, having served with the forces during World War II., re-enlisted for a further period of two years with the interim forces.
The second amendment is designed to replace faulty wording in section 4 of the act describing service after a certain date and is designed to protect those members who enlisted before the 30th June, 1947, and were discharged and subsequently re-enlisted .for further service. In short, this bill clarifies the position to men who enlisted in the Interim Force for a period not exceeding two years from the 1st July, 1947, to the 30th’ June, 1949. They will now be entitled to war pensions and to full medical benefits in respect of injuries and illness suffered- during their period of service. Those who have enlisted for further service in the permanent forces, and for extended service in peacetime are covered- by .the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. The Opposition does not oppose the bill.
– in reply - I appreciate the co-operation of the Opposition in facilitating the passage of the Mil.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
The following papers were presented : -
Science and Industry Research Act - Second Annual Report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, for year 1949-50.
War Service Homes Act - Report of Director of War Service Homes for year 1949-50, together with statements and balance-sheet.
Ordered to be printed.
Senate adjourned at 11.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 December 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1950/19501206_senate_19_211/>.