20th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator, the Hon. Edward Mattner) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport by pointing out that for some time past Tasmania has been virtually isolated from the mainland because of the lack of passenger-carrying vessels. Taroona, which is the only vessel that provided that service for some years past, has been withdrawn from service and will not be operating for another two or three months. Since that vessel carried not only passengers but also perishable goods, grave inconvenience has been caused to the people of Tasmania because of its. withdrawal from service. Whilst I appreciate that the Minister has done his’ utmost to provide a regular shipping service between the mainland and the island State, T now ask him whether he will renew his efforts to obtain a suitable vessel to provide the necessary service to Tasmania?
– Although every effort has been made to obtain a suitable vessel for the Tasmanian service our efforts to date have been unsuccessful. However, members of the Government realize the special difficulties suffered by Tasmania, and we are continuing our investigations in the hope of devising some means to improve the present position.
– In view of the serious situation that is developing in Tasmania as a result of inadequate shipping services being provided by private enterprise, which is letting Tasmania down in this sphere, will the Minister for Shipping and Transport inform the Senate whether the Commonwealth is developing any plan to ensure that the Australian Shipping Board shall make available a sufficient number of Commonwealth ships to provide Tasmania with adequate shipping facilities ?
– In my opinion private owners are not letting down the people of Tasmania. An organization representing the private owners and the Australian Shipping Board meets regularly, considers the quantities of cargo awaiting shipment at the various Australian ports, and to the best of its ability allocates ships to those ports. I have kept closely in touch with this organization, whose burdens have been increased by waterfront troubles. I assure honorable senators that the position is being, watched daily, and the organization that I have mentioned is doing everything possible with the limited number of ships available. I emphasize that the Government is well aware of the position in relation to Tasmania, and is doing everything possible to meet the situation that has developed.
– As the Minister, for Shipping and Transport is now responsible for ship-building operations in Australia; and in view of hie statement that there is a world shortage of shipping, will he give to the Parliament an undertaking that he will continue to us:: to their full capacity Australian ship-building yards? Will be also see that orders are placed with the available ship-building yards sufficiently far ahead to enable them to plan their building programme economically and efficiently?
– All ship-building yards are fully occupied, having regard to available man-power, on commercial and naval ships. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper T. shall examine it in detail and furnish a reply, as soon as possible, to the points raised by him.
– Will the Minister endeavour to ensure that priority is given to the transportation of potatoes from. Tasmania to the mainland, which offers a market to the potato-growers of Tasmania? At the present lime it is almost impossible to buy potatoes in New South Wales. The authorities state, however, that there are 500,000 bags of potatoes available in Tasmania.
Senator McLEAY.~Tb.at matter waB brought to my notice approximately ten days ago. I have received a reply from our representative on the committee which allocates freight, indicating that ships have been made available to transport potatoes from Tasmania to all States of Australia that require them. I understand that six ships were made available, r understand .also from our representative that those ships will be able to remedy the position during this season.
– For some time past the people of Tasmania have been able’ to obtain only a rationed supply of sugar, and for weeks on end they have been unable to obtain any sugar at all. If the lack of shipping between the mainland and Tasmania is responsible for that state of affairs, will the Minister for Shipping and Transport endeavour to provide adequate shipping to convey goods to Tasmania, including not only sugar but also other commodities that have been in short supply since the beginning of January. If the lack of shipping is not the cause of the acute shortage of sugar that is being experienced in Tasmania, will the Minister take up the matter with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company limited in order to ascertain why Tasmania is not receiving its proper allocation of -sugar, particularly at a time when sugar is being exported overseas?
– There is “ at present a world shortage of shipping, and a very grave shortage exists on the Australian coast. Every effort is being made to relieve the position, and the Government now operates 30 ships on the Australian coast apart from- those chartered. I emphasize that every effort is being made to alleviate the position. It is well known to honorable senators that the conspiracy . that existed between certain people in key unions caused constant hold-ups and aggravated the position. However, now that the Government has a majority in this chamber it will be able to tackle this problem.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware of tie grave shortage of butter in Tasmania? If so, is he taking any steps to rectify the position? Will the Minister institute an inquiry about the butter storage capacity available in Tasmania, with a view to maintaining in that State a sufficient quantity of Tasmania’s butter production to meet the needs of the people in that State ?
– The seasonal shortage of butter in various parte of Australia is being examined very closely and steps are being taken to meet the position’. If the honorable senator will place the question on the noticepaper I shall be pleased to obtain for him the latest information in connexion with the matter.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport by pointing out that serious inconvenience is being caused to passengers on the Transcontinental Railway. As the Minister is aware, several changes are involved, and when passengers from the west arrive- in Adelaide they have to deposit all of their luggage in the luggage room. Both Australian passengers and visitors from overseas are being, caused a great deal of unnecessary inconvenience. At one time a car travelled through to Melbourne, and luggage was allowed to remain in it. Honorable senators can imagine the disabilities suffered by travellers who are accompanied by their families. I ask the Minister if he will confer with the Premier of South Australia with a view to having the position remedied.
– I shall be pleased to confer with the Premier of South Australia in order to see whether the service can be improved.
– As so many very important persons have been invited to attend the Commonwealth Jubilee celebrations at Canberra during the current parliamentary session, can the Leader of the Government say whether Sir George Pearce and Mr. King O’Malley, who were members of the first Commonwealth Parliament, were invited to attend? If they were not invited, can the Leader of the Government state why they were not ?
– The point raised by the honorable senator is one of common interest. Both Mr. King O’Malley and Sir George Pearce were invited to attend the celebrations, but, unfortunately, neither was able to do so.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister relative to the proposed peace treaty with Japan. The Minister will, [ am sure, pardon my saying that all we know of the proposed treaty is what we have read in the press. Seemingly there has been a revolutionary change in the outlook of the victorious nations towards Japan. We have been given to understand that under the proposed treaty no reparations will be demanded and that Japan is to be rehabilitated. Is it intended by the Government that the Australian representative shall sign the treaty on behalf of Australia before the Parliament has first been given an opportunity to peruse it ? Will the Minister furnish for the information of the Senate an interim report on the extraordinary situation that exists in relation to Japan, particularly in view of press statements that a decision has already been made that the Chinese, who fought the Japanese for ten years, and who suffered more than did the peoples of any other nation at the hands of the Japanese, are to be excluded from participation in the peace treaty? A statement concerning this proposed extraordinary treaty should be made for the information of those who, only a few months ago, held up their hands in horror when they heard about the mutilation of Australian soldiers by the Japanese.
– As the honorable senator is well aware, it is not customary to canvass up and down the country the proposed details of a peace treaty to which Australia will be only one of the signatory parties.
– I have not suggested that they should be canvassed up and down the country.
– I assure the honorable senator that in the making of the treaty the interests of Australia will be fully and amply safeguarded by the Government.
– Perhaps my question was too involved and deep for the Minister to answer. I shall put it more simply. Is it the intention of this Government to give the Parliament an opportunity to discuss the peace treaty with Japan prior to the treaty being signed by representatives of Australia?
-It is the firm intention of this Government to do the right thing.
– Is the Minister for Repatriation satisfied with the progress that is being made with the building of suitable institutions for the care and treatment of ex-servicemen suffering from war neurosis who, for some time past, have been accommodated in mental asylums? The Minister knows of my interest in this subject and that I have regarded his earlier reports on it as fairly ^satisfactory. Is he able to add anything to the last statement which he made to the Senate on the subject?
– The honorable senator brought this matter to my notice previously and I have discussed it with him. I am not satisfied with the progress being made in the building of these institutions. Unfortunately, the demand on building materials for defence and other purposes is so heavy that the construction of hospitals and homes for the treatment and care of neurosis cases cannot be proceeded with as expeditiously as I should like. I assure the honorable senator that I am in constant touch with the authorities that control the allotment of strategic building materials and that I shall do everything possible to ensure that these institutions shall be provided as early as possible.
– As honorable senators are frequently asked for ioformation concerning the procedure to be followed by age pensioners who desire free medical benefits, will the Minister representing the Minister for Health obtain a statement for the information of the Senate setting out the benefits that ::ro available to such pensioners and the method by which they may obtain them?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Minister for Health and do everything possible to ensure that such a statement shall be made available to honorable senators as early as practicable.
– During the life of the last Parliament I directed attention to the dilapidated condition and insufficient size of the waterside workers’ pick-up building in Burnie, and asked when the erection of a new building would be begun. On the last occasion that I saw the building, it was still in the condition in which it was when I asked the question to which I have referred. It has been condemned. There is no place in it in which waterside workers can leave their clothes. It contains no baths and men who have been handling dirty cargo have to go home without first washing themselves. Can the Minister for Shipping and Transport say when a start will be made with the erection of a new pick-up building in Burnie, and when it is expected that the building will be completed? I remind the honorable senator that it is very cold in Tasmania at the present time.
– Amenities for waterside workers are provided by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, over which the Minister for Labour and National Service has control. I visited Burnie recently, in company with Senator Henty, and I confirm what Senator Morrow has said about the condition of the pick-up building there. After my visit to Burnie, representations were made to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Plans and specifications for a new building have been prepared, and I understand that work upon the building will be commenced shortly. I admit that there has been some delay in this connexion, but I understand that it has been caused by the present extraordinary demands upon man-power and materials. I assure the honorable senator that work upon the building will be commenced shortly.
– -At the present time, there is in Tasmania a shortage of Tasmania coal. That is not unusual, and it is due to the lack of machinery in Tasmanian coal mines. A previous Commonwealth Government offered the assistance of the Joint Coal Board in the mechanizing of Tasmanian mines, but unfortunately the legislation to enable the offer to be availed of was rejected by the Tasmanian Legislative Council. Seeing that there is now in power in the Commonwealth a government of a different political colour, will the Minister for National Development renew the offer of assistance so that Tasmanian mines may be mechanized? Because of financial difficulty, the Tasmanian coal-mining companies have been unable to get the necessary machinery and more coal it urgently needed for the railways and for industrial purposes.
– The Commonwealth Government suggested to the Government of Tasmania that it should consider the setting up of an authority similar to the Joint Coal Board which controls coal resources in New South Wales, but I understand that the Tasmanian legislature rejected the proposal. The honorable senator has suggested that the Commonwealth should renew its offer to the Government of Tasmania. I shall require notice of that proposition. Indeed, I believe that it touches so closely upon policy that I might not be justified in discussing it in answer to a question. The honorable senator also suggested that the Commonwealth should grant financial assistance to enable coal-mining to be conducted more efficiently in Tasmania. In that connexion, a deputation of Tasmanian members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives waited on the Prime Minister about a fortnight ago, and the Prime Minister informed them that he would confer with me on the matter. I have been awaiting an opportunity to hold that conference.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board in respect of the following items: -
Tractors over60 brake horse-power - Question of assistance to the Australian industry.
Meters, mechanically operated, for recording the flow of petrol and oil and other liquids. Elastic 1 inch and 2 inches inclusive.
The Government has adopted the recommendation of the board in each instance.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That, in pursuance of section 13 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth, the senators chosen for each State shall be divided into two classes as follows: -
1 ) The name of the senator first elected shall be placed first on the senators’ roll for each State and the name of the senator next elected shall be placed next, and so on in rotation.
The senators whose names are placed first, second, third, fourth and fifth on the roll shall be senators of the second class, and senators whose names are placed sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth on the roll shallbe senators of the first class.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That the days of meeting of the Senate, unless otherwise ordered, he Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week; and that the hour of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be three o’clock in the afternoon of Tuesday and Wednesday, and eleven o’clock in the forenoon of Thursday.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That on all sitting days of the Senate during the present session, unless otherwise ordered. Government business shall take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper, except questions and formal motions, and except that general business take precedence of Government business on Thursdays, after eight p.m.; and that, unless otherwise ordered, general orders of the day take precedence of general notices of motion on alternate Thursdays.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That, during the present session, unless otherwiseordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a committee of the whole Senate, be suspended from 12.45 p.m. until 2.15 p.m., and from6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) - by have - agreed to -
That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, at 10.30 p.m. on days upon which proceedings of the Senate are not being broadcast, and at 11 p.m. on days when such proceedings are being broadcast, the President shall put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn, which question shall be open to debate; if the Senate be in committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the question - That he do leave the Chair and report to the Senate; and upon such report being made the President shall forthwith put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn, which question shall be open to debate: Provided that if the Senate or the committee be in division at the time named, the President or the Chairman shall not put the question referred to until the result of such division has been declared; and if the business under discussion shall not have been disposed of at such adjournment it shall appear on the notice-paper for the next sitting day.
- by leave - I desire to inform the Senate that the Menzies Government will he constituted as follows: -
Vice-President of the Executive Council, and Minister for Defence Production - The Honorable Eric John Harrison.
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture - The Honorable John McEwen.
Minister for Defence, Minister for the ‘ Navy and Minister for Air - The Honorable Philip Albert Martin McBride.
Minister for Trade and Customs - Senator the Honorable Neil O’sullivan.
Minister for Shipping and Transport - Senator the Honorable George McLeay.
Minister for the Army- The Honorable Josiah Francis.
Attorney-General - .Senator the Honorable John Armstrong Spicer, K.C.
Minister for National Development - Senator the Honorable William Henry Spooner, M.M.
Minister for Repatriation - Senator the Honorable Walter Jackson Cooper, M.B.E.
Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works and Housing - The Honorable Wilfred Selwyn Kent Hughes, M.V.O., O.B.E., M.C, E.D.
I also inform the Senate that I have been appointed Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Minister foi’ Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) will be the Deputy Leader.
The representation of Ministers in the Senate will be as follows : - -Senate. O’sullivan will represent the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence. Senator McLeay will represent the Ministhe for Commerce and Agriculture, the Minister for Air, the Minister for Civil Aviation and the Minister for the Interior. Senator Spicer will represent the Minister for Labour and National Service, the Minister for Immigration, the Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for’ Territories. Senator Spooner will represent the Treasurer, the Minister for the Navy, the Minister for the Army, the Minister for Works and Housing and the Minister for Social Services. Senator Cooper will represent the Minister for Defence Production, thiPostmasterGeneral, the Minister for Supply and the Minister for Health.
In the House of Representatives,. Mr. Harrison will represent the Minister for Trade and Customs, Mr. Anthony will represent the Minister for Shipping and Transport, Mr. Menzies will represent the Attorney-General, Mr. Casey will represent the Minister for National Development and Mr. Francis will represent the Minister for Repatriation.
– by learnt - I desire to inform the Senate that I have been elected Leader of the Opposition and that Senator Armstrong has been elected Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Senator Critchley has been appointed Opposition Whip.
ADDRESS-] in-Reply .
– I move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the speech of His Excellency .the -Governor-General he agreed to: -
MAY IT please Your Excellency :
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the .Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
By an ancient custom there .devolves upon one oi those recently elected to the Parliament, in this instance myself, the honour of moving and speaking to this motion. With other honor.aMe senators, I listened with great interest to His Excellency’s Speech. “There appeared to be three matters of extreme interest, namely, the re-affirmation by His Excellency of the Intention of His Majesty the .King, Her Majesty the Queen, and Princess Margaret to visit Australia in 19!5’2 ; the significance of this, the jubilee year of the Commonwealth Government of Australia ; and the expressed intention of the Governor-General’s Ministers to resist both ‘external and internal attacks on our national security.
I shall deal very briefly with the matter of the proposed Royal visit [n common with other citizens of this -country and, I am .sure, all honorable senators, I have been greatly concerned about repeated reports of a deterioration of His Majesty’s health. His Excellency also mentioned that His Majesty had not been well. However, the expressed intention of Their Majesties to visit this country next year gives me great pleasure because it indicates that His Majesty’s condition of health is not so grave as had appeared from newspaper reports. Undoubtedly during the last ten or twelve years His Majesty has borne immense strains. However, he has inherited many of the virtues of his gracious father, and there reposes in him many of the ancient virtues of our race, including quality of character, -devotion to -duty, and simple family life. Honorable senators could with advantage strive to emulate his conduct and the pattern of life to which he conforms, in view , el the fact that we are facing what appear to be very dark days ahead.
In connexion with the second mattei of outstanding interest, I point out thai many oi -the needs of the community today are not feeing met by the power that resides in the ‘Commonwealth Parliament. Unfortunately during the last twenty years the out-er marches of parliamentary democracy have been –overrun by the t twentieth-century (barbarians, and some of the inner approaches are now being menaced. Treason seems ito run without let or hindrance in -our .country. His Excellency referred to the intention of his Ministers to seek a .strengthening ot the power of the Constitution to deal with treasonable and subversive activities. I welcome that announcement because the keeps of democracy in Australia are at present being menaced. Another .significant factor of this jubilee year is -that certain tendencies that were not envisaged by the early founding fathers of Ais Commonwealth are becoming apparent. No .one who has read .the proceedings of the early conventions tha* led to .federation could have other than the .greatest admiration for their sagicity. But .stresses and strains not envisaged .by the founding fathers have been imposed upon .the Constitution during the past 5,0 years. Although, .as originally conceived^ federation was to be a federation of .the States, in fact we .are developing a .centralized form of government. The year 1901 was significant in the development of the Commonwealth, because that was the year .in which the States federated. The year T951 may well be equally significant. Honorable senators who have been elected to represent .the States .should examine whether another Commonwealth convention should be held in 1951 in order ,to determine whether the Commonwealth is to continue its growth and .establish a centralized form of government, and whether we should allow the States to wither away and atrophy and the nation of .the next 50 years to .become a monolithic State. That is a question which honorable senators may well ponder .during the course of this yea*.
The third point in His Excellency’s Speech to which I, shall refer is the dual problem that is facing the Government: the ability to maintain our social conditions and at the same time to prepare the nation for war. From information that is available to honorable senators, of every political hue and complexion, it must be apparent that two opposing cosmic forces, from which we cannot escape, are operating in the world to-day. Having regard to those tremendous forces, I should hate to think that we are not on the side of parliamentary government and democracy.
The preparations for war will impose enormous strains on the people of this country. At the same time as we are preparing for war we must expand and- develop the economy of the country, both to withstand the onslaughts of war and to maintain the social gains made by the people. It is also necessary to expand those social gains that have already been achieved. Social gains can be achieved only on the basis of the economy of this country expanding quickly and greatly, because further gains can come only from the increased wealth of the community. Increased wealth will accrue only from increased production. The problem of increasing production and expanding the nation’s economy is not the responsibility of any one section of the community; it is the duty of every citizen to work towards that end. From time to time I am distressed to hear and to read that in the opinion of some members of this community two warring factions exist. If we are to progress we must be one nation and one people. I am certain that no honorable senator in this chamber wishes to see the great trade union movement, which has contributed so greatly to the social welfare and well-being of the Australian people, attacked in any way. It is equally true to say that many members of the trade union movement acknowledge that the other sections of the community have rights equal to theirs. I wish to dispel, at the beginning of my membership of the Senate, any thought that the trade union movement will be attacked in any way. When I. was discussing this matter with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) some time ago, he referred me to an essay of the late Earl of Birkenhead, an eminent Liberal of high standing in Great Britain. In one of his essays Lord Birkenhead wrote something which I wholeheartedly support and with which I have no doubt that all honorable senators will agree. His reference is to Great Britain, of course, but it is equally applicable to Australia. His lordship stated -
It cannot be too plainly stated that the only alternative to anarchy in our general industrial arrangements is the existence of a sane and sober trade unionist system which is capable not only of agreeing to but of enforcing a stable bargain. It sounds very attractive to a people justly exasperated by trade unionist pretensions to say: “Smash the Unions “. But in this advice madness lies. Capital and Labour must co-exist in this country. If a definite and irretrievable breach be established between them both alike will perish, and with them the nation, too, will perish. No one who has the slightest understanding of the subtleties and ramifications of British trade can even conceive of its healthy resurrection except upon the basis that there are principals upon both sides who can speak for those who have given them authority. It would indeed be a dark day for British enterprise if no great industry could deal upon a broad and general scale with those who, equally with themselves, are concerned with that industry. In other words, collective bargaining has not only come to stay, but without it, industrial peace is inconceivable.
I trust that that spirit will -manifest itself in the period that lies ahead of us and during the dark days of 1953, to which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has publicly referred.
In order to achieve increased production, His Excellency’s Ministers apparently intend to call upon all sections of the community. I welcome that intention, because it means harnessing the energies of the nation to the twofold task of maintaining and expanding social gains and increasing production. In that connexion, I refer to a most remarkable and frightening thing. Within the periphery of Russian power are many nations. Since 1946 a roll-call of nations has been absorbed into the Russian Empire, which in that period has been able to perform some significant acts. That empire has a problem of expansion, but it is external expansion, as distinct from our problem of internal expansion. In 1946, 132,000,000 metric tons of coal were produced in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In 1950, production had been raised to 220,000,000 metric tons. I do not wish to weary honorable senators with a long list of figures, but I think that these should be borne in mind. Production of iron ore by that nation has risen from 10,000,000 metric tons in 1946 to 22,000,000 metric tons in 1950. Production of steel ingots has increased from 12.2 million tons to 24.8 million tons, copper from 124,000 metric tons to 213,000 metric tons, and fertilizers from 1.16 million metric tons to 3.56 million metric tons. Electric power has increased from 47.5 billion kilowatts to 58.3 billion kilowatts. I use the word “ billion “ as it is understood in the United States of America. In other words, in the basic commodities and needs of that community production has been doubled. In our own country the production of coal lias risen only slightly, whereas the production of pig-iron and steel has fallen since 1946. That is an alarming position. Increased Russian production has been achieved in part by enormous diversion of man-power. Native populations have been diverted to vast slave labour camps and women have been placed in industry to such a degree that :>Q per cent, of all employees in Russian manufacturing industry to-day are women. Able-bodied men are being drafted into the Army.
We must develop and prepare. In order to do that it is necessary that our population should increase. I hope that honorable senators will support in every possible way the intention of the Government to proceed with the immigration policy which was begun by the Chifley Government and which was accelerated during the last Parliament. We must acquire people who will bring to this country new cultures and new skills in order that we shall be able to defend our country and develop it. Between 1865 and 1910 the United States of America carried out a vast immigration programme. Under our immigration policy we are bringing to Australia people who accept our living standards, which are probably the highest in the world, and who have the benefit of those standards immediately. It is a mass immigration policy which may well be regarded as one of the most noted experiments of democratic government in the twentieth century. I hope that it will be successful. If it is not. we are in for a bad time in this country.
I had the honour to participate, as a child, in one of the last pioneering phases of Australian rural development prior to the 1914-18 war, and I know a good deal about the pioneering that still remains to be done in Australia. I consider it an extreme honour that I have been able to live during a time when the population of this country has doubled, and I hope that I shall live long enough to see it double again. However, such progress can be made only if there exists in the people themselves a willingness to accept the responsibilities involved. It exists in me, for instance, because I willingly accept responsibility as a member of this chamber. I hope and pray that I. in common with other honorable senators, in the next few years will be able to lay such a foundation that people 50 years hence will regard us with the same immense pleasure and satisfaction as that with which we look back on those who founded this Commonwealth 50 years ago.
– I desire to offer my sincere congratulations to you, Mr. President, on your elevation to the high office which you now hold. I have been acquainted with you for only a few hours, but I feel sure that the merits which you have exhibited during past years convinced your fellow senators of your worthiness to hold such a position. If I may be permitted to look into the dim and distant future, 1 predict that when the time comes for you to vacate the chair you will do so with satisfaction to yourself and with a reputation that will entitle you to be listed amongst the most distinguished of your predecessors. I also wish to congratulate the Chairman of Committees on his election to that responsible position. I trust that I shall not fall foul of either you, Mr. President, or the Chairman of Committees because of my ignorance of Standing Orders or procedure in this chamber.
I extend sincere congratulations to the Government on the: highly successful result of: the general election. The Government performed a courageous act when.it. decided to. take the dispute to the electors and resolved to terminate the life of the Parliament instead of carrying on for another two years as it was entitled to. do. It is, therefore, pleasing to see that the electors returned the Government parties to office and provided them with the majority to put into effect their legislative programme instead of continuing the intolerable state of affairs that existed during their previous period of office. I trust that we shall not again see such a state of affairs in this1 Parliament.
Perhaps I should have prefaced my remarks by saying, that J_ rose to second the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, which was so capably moved by Senator Cormack. I apologize to the Senate for my oversight. In the legislature of which I was formerly a member it was not customary, to follow such a procedure. Fifty years have passed since I sat in the Exhibition Building, in Melbourne, and heard the late King George V., who was then Duke of Cornwall and York, open the first session- of. the first Parliament, of the Common,wealth. Little did I then, think that, at some future day, I should enter politics. However, subsequent events have directed me into that field of endeavour. : L am deeply sensible of. tie honour done, to me by the Government, in permitting me- to second the motion for the adoption of the AddressinRepl’y to the Speech, with which His Excellency the* Governor-General has been pleased to open .this- jubilee session of the Parliament. In those ofl years many weighty and’ varied! problems have confronted our legislators and have been grappled with by them.’ in what T” think we can all describe: ais a very satisfactory manner. The- problems tha f? will confront politicians during the. ensuing 50 years will be no less1 weighty and responsible than were those that confronted our predecessors in the last half century. Those who- come after u3. will1, I am sure, be capable- of dealing- with them effectively, although there is a slight doubt in my mind on. that subject because for some time I have been rather perturbed by what I. might term the reluctance of members of the rising, generation to shoulder the responsibilities and attack the problems that face them, apart from those, connected with their own personal desires and ambitions. In my State we- have, unfortunately, found that the members of the rising generation, instead oi being, ready to play their part in the. administration of shire councils, local-governing bodies, and the State Legislature, are prone. to. put sport in first place. Most of our forbears who came to- this country many years ago landed on these shores- with little but a determination to succeed. That spirit should be fostered and developed so that those who. follow in their footsteps will not be- reluctant to accept their obligations as citizens,, discharge their public duties and take their full and rightful part in the development of the nation.
I wish to say how pleased 1 was to- hear His- Excellency the Governor-General indicate; in his Address- that arrangements are; still being made foi- the Royal visit, to Australia next year. It. would be a mi tie] for- great regret - in my view, almost a calamity - if His Majesty’s health should prevent him from coming here next year. It. is our earnest prayer that Providence will restore His: Majesty to good health and enable, him to undertake the’ rigours, of the- .four,, and that it. will, not b<s necessary to curtail the programme for- the Royal visit in. any way. Any curtailment of the projected Royal tour would constitute a great disappointment to many of our people.. I realize, of course, that there are factors other than His Majesty’s health which could result in the cancellation of the Royal visit next year. I trust that wisdom and tolerance will reign in the councils of the nations - particularly in tha councils of one nation - and that we shall, be able to enjoy a period of peace so- that those urgent peace-time problems that, are waiting to be. tackled may be dealt with, without the fear of war upsetting the world as it has unfortunately done on. two occasions- in the last quarter of a century.
When I referred to the reluctance of members- of the rising generation to shoulder their responsibilities, I had in mind the very tragic number of informal votes that were cast at the last two general elections, particularly in relation to Senate candidates. I believe that the alarming -number of informal votes recorded demonstrates a regrettable lack of interest in political matters on the part of members of the present generation. The large number of informal votes cast may to some degree be attributed to a provision in the Common-wealth Electoral Act. Two amendments of that act are urgently needed. The first is the insertion of a provision enabling the political parties to which the contending candidates belong to be indicated on the ballot-papers. At present, candidates are grouped on the ballot-paper in alphabetical groups and the average elector has not the remotest idea to which political party a candidate belongs. The act should be amended to provide that the political party to which a candidate belongs .shall be indicated alongside his name on the ballot-paper. Such a provision would not only assist electors, but would also reduce the number of informal votes. I trust that such an amendment will be made to .the act in the near future. Another desirable amendment concerns the recording of absentee votes. At present, a ballot-paper recording an a.bsent vote is placed, not in a separate envelope, but in an envelope containing other papers necessary for .the recording of the vote. In Western Australia, ballotpapers for absent votes are enclosed in separate envelopes and consequently the manner in which an elector has voted remains unknown until the -envelope has been opened. When a ballot-paper is simply folded and placed in an envelope with other papers it :is difficult for those who deal with the papers not to observe how the vote has been recorded. .1 trust that an early .amendment to the Commonwealth Electoral Act will be made to obviate the disability to which I have directed, .attention.
It is pleasing to note that the electors have given to the Government full power to give effect to its legislative programme. The Government has already taken action to put an end to the frequent industrial stoppages that have had such a hampering effect on production during the last few months. I refer particularly to stoppages on the waterfront and in the coal mines. I sincerely hope that the Government will not delay in supplementing action .already taken, so that at the earliest possible moment we may achieve our objective of an all-round increase of production and a more rapid turn-round ‘of ships in Australian -ports. In making that statement I take this opportunity, the earliest afforded to me, publicly to contradict a charge that I have a desire to. abolish trade unions. Nothing is further from my mind. For many years I was engaged as a farmer and my experiences on the land were such as to make me believe emphatically that every man in the community is entitled to the ‘best working conditions that lie can obtain. Our workers are entitled to proper amenities, hours and wages, in order that they may be enabled to enjoy a high standard of living. Those matters can be left safely to the arbitration courts, because I cannot conceive of those courts prescribing conditions or hours of work that would be detrimental to the ‘workers or not in keeping with the high standard of living that we desire them to have.
I note that it is the intention of the Government to obtain the services of a competent port authority to examine the difficulties that we are at present encountering upon the wharfs. I hope sincerely that he will be able to get to the seat of ‘the trouble. As far as we in Western .Australia are concerned, we can lay our lands upon the cause of a lot of the trouble on the wharfs, and I ‘believe that we could remove many of the difficulties with which - we are now faced if only we received a little assistance in doing so. I have some knowledge of this matter because, during the period when I was Minister for Railways and Transport in the Western Australian Government, I had the Fremantle Harbour Trust under my charge.
I was interested to learn from the Governor-General’s ‘Speech that ‘the Government intends to proceed with a policy of promoting the stability of -our rural industries, and that in that connexion it will seek /the co-operation of the States. That is very welcome news, and I assure the Government that it will receive the fullest co-operation from Western Australia in that matter. But in considering the problem of promoting the welfare of Australian primary industries, it is necesary to have regard to very much more than the rates of pay that should be enjoyed by any one branch of primary industry, and to avoid taking labour from one branch in order to make it available to another. The Government will have to determine how far we can allow secondary industries to take the place of primary industries. I do not say for one moment that we should not have secondary industries in this country, . but I do say that our secondary industries should be confined largely to supplying the requirements of our primary industries and of those engaged in them. Otherwise, having regard to the very favorable conditions that are offered by secondary industries and the more congenial way of life in our larger towns and cities, I can see no possibility of attracting people to rural industries. People who live in country areas suffer from many disabilities which are not readily removable. Unless we determine the degree to which secondary industries are to be permitted to take labour from primary industries, we shall not make much progress in removing the disabilities from which primary industries are now suffering.
A matter intimately connected with that subject is the taxation of primary producers, which is almost driving some farmers out of business. I have read in the press on occasions that in Great Britain death duty is imposed at rates of up to 60 per cent, or 70 per cent, of the value of an estate. The British Government has the excuse that that is not likely to harm the persons who were responsible for accumulating the estates, but on some occasions in Australia not 60 per cent, or 70 per cent, but 100 per cent, of an unfortunate farmer’s capital has been taken from him in taxes. I do not blame this Government for that.
– What about the woolgrowers ?
– I am not referring to the wool-growers. I am referring to a matter of which probably the honorable senator who has just interjected has no knowledge. Under a recent interpretation of section 36 of the Income Tax Assessment Act, the whole of a farmer’s capital can be taken from him simply because he has committed the unpardonable offence of growing old. I shall tell the Senate of the circumstances of one case, but I know of three almost similar cases. The farmer whom I have in mind began farming in 1903. He reared a family and established his farm. When he reached the age of 73 years, he considered that the time had come for him to retire, especially as he had been suffering from’ a disease of the heart for approximately twenty years. He made arrangements to transfer his property to his three sons. He Lad had four sons, but, unfortunately, one of them was killed in the last war. Having made the transfer, the farmer paid gift duty of £1,260 in respect of the transaction. Then, with the assistance of his agent, he prepared his income tax return. According to him, his assessable income was £3,352, but theTaxation Branch assessed it at £7,744 by the very simple expedient of valuing his stock and farm machinery at replacement values, notwithstanding that in the ‘transaction between the farmer and his sons no money had passed. He had only transferred the farm to his sons, who had assisted him in developing it. His income tax was assessed at £3,126, including the £1,260 gift duty. He had only £4,000 in the world, and if his sons had not come to his assistance he could not have paid his tax. The whole of his capital had been taken from him. In three other cases of which I have knowledge farmers who desire to transfer farms to their sons have been subjected to similar treatment. The farmers have had to struggle along keeping their ‘farms in their own names, and have not been able to retire as they wanted to do. I have brought this matter to the attention of the Government in the hope that it will be taken up with, the Taxation Branch in order to see whether a more liberal interpretation can be placed upon section 36 of the Income Tax Assessment Act.
I am also pleased to learn that the Government intends to give serious attention to means of overcoming the shortages of agricultural machinery and materials that have been adversely affecting the output of our agricultural industries. There again, I assure the Government of the heartiest co-operation of Western Australia. The Government of that State is engaged in opening up 1,000,000 acres of agricultural land in areas with an assured rainfall. The success of that programme will be seriously threatened unless we receive some assistance in the provision of machinery, fencing materials, piping and other articles that are necessary for the establishment of farms. That brings us inevitably to the shortage of coal. If coal could be mined and used to produce more steel, and if more steel could be made available to “Western Australia, the 1,000,000 acres to which I have referred could begin to produce foodstuffs almost immediately. Unless Western Australia receives some assistance, the opening up of this big area will possibly be delayed for a considerable period. I assure the Government that it will receive the very hearty co-operation of the Government of Western Australia in any efforts that it makes to achieve the production, of larger quantities of agricultural machinery and other articles that are necessary for use on farms. A few weeks ago, I attended a sale at which two second-hand ploughs were sold for approximately £600 each. The price of a new plough of that kind was £230 or £250. It is almost impossible to obtain agricultural machinery, and farmers will pay almost any price to get it. The shortage of machinery is delaying the production of food in Western Australia. Any action that the Government takes to alleviate the present position will receive the full support of the Western Australian Government.
I shall not delay the Senate longer. I thank honorable senators for the patient hearing that they have given me. I hope sincerely that at the end of the life of this Parliament much of the necessary legislation for which this nation is starving at present will have been placed upon the statute-book and that industrial peace and prosperity will have resumed its place in this fair country.
Debate (on motion by Senator Armstrong) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator O’SULLIVAN agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to Tuesday next, at 3 p.m.
Address-in-Reply - Japanese Peace TREATY
, - I move -
That the. Senate do now adjourn.
On behalf of my colleagues I congratulate the mover and the seconder of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General. Their speeches were of very high quality, excellent in tone and. subject-matter, and showed that a great deal of thought had been given to their preparation. I congratulate them both very warmly.
– I protest against the renewal of the tactics employed by Ministers during the life of the last Parliament. I refer to their refusal to give information in answer to questions. It does not matter what is the subjectmatter of the question. Even if it were about Halley’s comet, the answer would be that it was the fault of the Communists. To-day I tried to elicit some information about the treaty of peace with Japan, and the only reply that I received from the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) was that the Government would do the right thing. The Japanese peace treaty will be the most important with which Australia has ever been associated. It will be of the most tremendous consequence to Australia, but all that Ministers will tell us in answer to questions on the subject is that the Government “ will do the right thing”.
We hear a great deal of talk about democracy and our way of life, but it would seem that an alliance has already been made with barbarians, for many Japanese are barbarians of the worst type. I know something of what I am talking. Next door to me there lives a former prisoner of war whose brother’s head was chopped off with a samaurai sword. The people of Australia view the present situation with great trepidation. We are told that the Japanese have suddenly become democrats. Apparently the Ethiopian has changed his skin and the leopard his’ spots., That; is nonsense. The Samauri is the same now as he was before. Only the other day a Japanese war criminal who was executed on Manns Island died shouting, “ Banzai ! Banzai !” We- know- very little of the Japanese mentality, but we do know that the Japanese do not believe that they lost the war. Their way of life is to die like maggots when the emperor calls upon them. If lie says “ fight “ they will fight. I am no friend of Stalinism, but I am convinced that Russia is no menace to Australia, whereas the Japanese,, who are increasing at the rate of 1,500,060 a year, are a growing danger to us.
– What if Russia overruns Great Britain ?
– I am not talking about Great Britain now, but about Australia and the threat which Japan is to Australia. I do not believe that the Japanese have undergone a metamorphosis, or that the barbarians of yesterday have become the gentlemen of to-day. I do not believe that any change has taken place in the hypocritical, sneering Japanese. They are just the same as they always were. Once we sign the treaty there will be no going back on ft. Where is Japan’s surplus population to go? There is no need for the Russians to come to Australia ; they already have all the territory they want. They hold all. of the northern part of Europe and Asia from Riga in the west to Vladivostok in the east. In addition, they hold the great island of Sakhalin. There is no possibility of the Russians coming here, but if the Japanese move at all they must come south. It is very likely that Stalin may make an alliance with the Japanese as he made- one with Hitler. Does, any one- ‘believe that it is. possible to, arm the Japanese just to the point where they can. defend themselves and prevent them from arming further? Those who believe that must be very naive. All the experience of history is against the. possibility of such a thing. We deluded ourselves that: way after the first world! war when we said that Germany was. permitted to have an army of 100,000 and no more, and a, navy only one-third of the strength of the British Navy. Eventually,, we; found ourselves faced, with wm fait accompli - with an armed Germany that it took the whole civilized world to defeat. Is; it suggested that we can call on the democracies to help US, should Japan attack again? Does any one believe that, we would receive help from the Chinese, the Malays or the Indo-Chinese? Of. course not!’
What has happened to our so-called democracy in Australia ? If the Japanese peace treaty is to be signed on behalf of Australia - even though it were signed by Mr. Chifley - without our having any say in its preparation, then we are living under a dictatorship just as are the people of Moscow’, and as ‘were the people- of Germany under Hitler. It has even been suggested that the Chinese should not be consulted in the preparation of the treaty with Japan, they who- fought the Japanese for ten years. I remember coming from Japan just after Mr. Latham, as he then was, said that there would be no war with the Japanese. I pointed out at the time what was likely to happen, and it did. I should be the first to admit that, had it not been for the United States of America, Australia would have been overrun by the Japanese, but the fact remains that if the Japanese had come south in the first place instead of attacking China, Australia would have been overrun long before the United States of America could have come to our rescue. Yet it is suggested that we should make an alliance, with the Japanese. When 1 was in China talking to Mr. W. H. Donald, the Australian adviser to Chiang Kai-shek,, the Japanese rape of Nanking was taking place. Women and children from the age of nine to 90 were outraged. People were tied together with wire, petrol was poured over them and they were burned to death. The whole world was aghast at what was taking place then, but now we: are told that we must ally ourselves, with those savages.
It may be true that the United States of America has its hands full. I am not such a fool as to- believe that wars are fought for ideals. If it suits the United States of America to ally itself to Japan, where a market is provided by 80,000,000 people, instead of considering Australia, which has a population of only just over S,000,,000 people, I know what the United States of America will do. In the face of this threat the Australian people are helpless and incoherent. The newspapers have conspired to tell them that the Japanese may now ‘he trusted. Go and ask the hoys who fought the Japanese. Have members of the Government and their supporters forgotten about the “ death marches “ ? Apparently they have. I think that the proposed treaty is an insult to the Australian people and an insult to the Australian dead. I appeal to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs to furnish an “answer to my question within the next, week or two and tell us whether- or not the Parliament will have a saY in deciding whether Australia should be a -party to the proposed treaty. I think, that that treaty is a terrible th.<ng. Apparently we are to he asked to ally ourselves with the ex-barbarians of Europe and Asia. “We all know what happened when Western Europe was overrun by the Nazis. They were the fiends who incarcerated innocent, Helpless people In the Buchenwald concentration camp and other places of horror. . To-day, because it suits certain vested interests to make allies, of those barbarians, our whole, foreign policy is to be reversed overnight. I, for one, protest against a damnable alliance with such barbadians. Let the- Russians do what they like; I am not here to apologize for them mT but our first concern, is with our own country. Only one nation- can overrun Australia, and that, nation is. Japan. If the Japanese .come here then our women- will- know what the Chinese women knew during the recent war.
I say that afl this subtle manoeuvering that has gone on, and particularly the comings and goings of John Poster Dulles, the’ American envoy; betoken something sinister. After .all, what do we know of his mission;, or of the intentions of thomwho sent him he*©? None of iw know anything about those- matters. Was the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna),. Senator Ashley, myself or any other member of the Opposition consulted’ about this matter ? We belong to the- people,, and we: represent the people in the. Parliament, hut apparently we have: no say in deciding, a matter that may be fraught’, with such: consequence, to- Australias. I repeat-r-and’ I hope that my colleagues will support me in this matter - that before the proposed treaty is signed, the Parliament should be consulted, and we should be given the fullest opportunity to discuss it. Under the proposed treaty we shall be called upon to make an alliance with a nation that overran twice as much territory in Asia as the Germans overran in Europe - aud did so twice as quickly. That simple fact should give honorable senators- some idea of the menace of Japan. This treaty cannot but bring irreparable loss to the Australian people. Leaving out of consideration for the moment the commercial aspects of trade with Japan, including Japanese sweated- labour and Japan’s record as an enemy to the economy of civilized nations, and looking’ at the matter purely from the military aspect, we must ask ourselves : Can we afford to trust the Japanese and give them a second opportunity to overrun this country? Ask any of the peoples of Asia who were subjugated by the Japanese what- they think of them. Ask the people of the Philippines, for instance, what the Japanese did in Manila. Ask the people of Indo-China what the Japanese did in their country.
Those who are endeavouring to thrust this treaty upon us say that they »’« appealing to the free peoples of te world in tile name of democracy and of om way of life to- safeguard civilization. What hypocrisy ! The reactionaries who want to rush this treaty to completion are endeavouring to ignore the only people, whose real function it is to maintain liberty in the world to-day. I refer to the members of the parliaments- of the democracies’. Surely they are entitled to’ every opportunity to consider thoroughly any such- international undertaking: In conclusion,. I appeal to the Government not to- take this step without first giving to the representatives of the people an opportunity to discuss the proposed treaty at length-. Certainly the gravity of the situation demand’s- that proper consideration should be give’u to wis matter. I repeat- again my’ protest against the signature of the-‘ proposed treaty, because I know that if Australia- joins- such- an unholy alliance’ its’ action must eventually prove detrimental- to our great country:
Question’ resolved’ in the affirmative.’
The following papers were pre sented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes at Cuthbert, Western Australia.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Parliamentary Library - C. D. Mattingley, B. J. Millen, T. D. Sprod, C. L. Taylor.
Works and Housing - A. L. McKinnon,
Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Power Act - Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority - First Annual Report, for year ended 30th June, 1950.
Australian National University Act - Interim Council of the Australian National University - Report for period 1st August, 1946, to 31st December, 1949.
Senate adjourned at 4.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 June 1951, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1951/19510613_senate_20_213/>.