20th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. A. II. McMullin took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator COOKE presented a petition from certain officers of the Commonwealth Public Service requesting that the Parliament take action to prevent an alleged injustice and safeguard the publie interest by vetoing a proposal by the Postmaster-General’s Department to purchase, at the cost of a least £500,000, a’ new telegraphic system called Tress.
Petition received and read.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that a shipping hold-up at the port of Fremantle, involving thirteen ships, commenced on the 1st April, the day on which Gothic sailed from that port? Does he know that some of the ships concerned were carrying valuable material for the Kwinana oil refinery to be unloaded at Fremantle, and that others were waiting to take on cargo at Fremantle? Is he aware, further, that the delay of these ships was due entirely to a decision of the Stevedoring Industry Board, which refused to agree to the payment of a half day’s pay to lumpers who were stood down compulsorily on the afternoon o.’ the departure of Gothic^ Does thi Minister agree that the decision of the Stevedoring Industry Board was a wrong that created a lot of unnecessary trouble? Is the Minister also aware that a week after the dispute began the “Western Australian Government, in order to facilitate the unloading and loading of overseas ships, in some instances with perishable goods, decided to meet the request of the lumpers and to reimburse them the half-day’s pay lost on the 1st April? In view of the action of the State Government, will the Minister give consideration to reimbursing that Government with the amount involved ? Was the Minister consulted before the employers arrived at their decision not to pay the men for the afternoon of the 1st April?
– I am aware of the trouble mentioned by the honorable senator. Such detailed matters touching the activities of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board come under the control of “the Minister for Labour and National Service, to whom I shall refer the honorable senator’s question. Appeasement of extremists in both the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia and the Seamen’s Union of Australia, which has been the practice of Labour governments for so long, is the genesis of most of the trouble that we are in on the waterfront. It is about time that we took a strong stand in these matters and supported the authority appointed to do the job correctly. I do not stand for appeasement on any occasion.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that commercial circles in South Australia are deeply concerned over the fact that Port Adelaide will in future be almost completely by-passed by the three largest and most modern liners of the F. & O. fleet? Whilst I realize fully, and accept, the fact that considerations outside the ambit and control of the Government may bc responsible for that state of affairs, I ask the Minister whether he will use his best endeavours to have early consideration given by the shipping company concerned to the restoration of the regular fortnightly sailings to and from Port Adelaide?
– My attention was drawn to that matter some time ago, and representations were made to the agents in order to discover whether there was a possibility of having the ships call at Port Adelaide. I remind honorable senators again that one of the reasons for the high costs connected with shipping, and one of the problems which confront shipowners to-day, is the number of continued holdups at various Australian ports, which cost thousands of pounds. Everybody knows that Communists are behind the trouble.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that a recent waterfront dispute at Beauty Point, in Tasmania, was solved by the watersiders unloading Taroona voluntarily, and without pay? Does he know that during the unloading of Taroona the Ship Owners Association and the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board ordered the captain of the vessel to cut off the steam, in order to prevent the waterside workers from continuing unloading operations? Is he aware that the ship’s crews’, including the captain and the mate, then volunteered to operate the winches and that, as I have already stated, the vessel was unloaded by the waterside workers without pay? Does the Minister know that the Tasmanian Government has instituted an inquiry into the dispute? Will he arrange for an observer on behalf of the Commonwealth. Government to be present at the inquiry in order to ascertain the facts in relation to recurring, irritating and unnecessary hold-ups of Tasmanian shipping?
– I gather from the latter part of the honorable senator’3 question that the matter that he has raised is the subject of an official inquiry in Tasmania. He has made a lot of very positive assertions, which I am not prepared to accept as facts. I shall be glad . to direct the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service to the matter.
– Is the Minister for Shipping ‘ and Transport yet in a position to reply to matters raised by several Liberal senators at a deputation last week with respect to the lifting of 8,000,000 super, feet of timber which is awaiting shipment at Launceston to the mainland? Will adequate shipping be made available for ‘that purpose? Further, has the Minister looked into complaints regarding the allocation of shipping space to various shippers?
– During the weekend I had an opportunity to hare examined the’ various matters to which the honorable senator has referred. First, I was advised that the quantity of timber that was stated to be awaiting shipment to the mainland was exaggerated. In reply to representations that I made to Mr. Moore, the Secretary of the Timber Merchants Association of Tasmania, I have been informed that the timber’ consists of 1,500,000 super, feet at Launceston, 1,000,000 super, feet at Burnie and 500,000 super, feet at Devonport, making a total of 3,000,000 super, feet. The demand for Tasmanian timber has been heavy and it is anticipated that during the next week an additional 2,000,000 super, feet of timber will be available for shipment. I am pleased to be able to inform honorable senators from Tasmania that the manager of the Tasmanian Shipping Board has advised me that two additional “ D “ class vessels will be made available for the shipment of this timber and that the 3,000,000 super, feet now ready for loading and the additional 2,000,000 super, feet which it is anticipated will be ready for loading within a week will be lifted during the next seven weeks.
– Will those vessels load potatoes also ?
– We are taking care of the shipment of potatoes as well. With respect to the allegation that preference was being given to various shipowners who are agents for the Australian Shipping Board, I trust that I shall remove all misunderstanding in this matter, and, perhaps, give an impetus to the friendly rivalry now existing between competitors, when I say that arrangements have been made for Mr. Crane, who is the Director of Forests in Tasmania, to allocate the cargoes of timber as he deems appropriate having regard to the shipping available. I trust that as a consequence al] doubt about whether certain shipping agents are receiving preference over others will be dispelled. I assure the Senate that everything possible is being done by my department to arrange for adequate shipping to handle these cargoes.
– In reply to a question asked by Senator Laught, the Minister for Shipping and Transport said that delays in shipping at Port Adelaide had caused the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company and the Orient Line of Steamers to take certain traffic away from South Australia. Is the Minister aware that the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company and the Orient Line- of Steamers’ ships are passenger liners and do not berth at Port Adelaide but at Outer Harbour, which is miles away? Will the Minister obtain a list of all the stoppages affecting those two shipping lines that have occurred in the past three to five years at Outer Harbour?
– It is common practice to refer to shipping at Outer Harbour and Port Adelaide as Port Adelaide shipping, but if the honorable senator wants me to be more specific I shall explain such matters differently in the future. I hope I did not create the impression that all the trouble was caused at Port Adelaide.
– The Minister did so.
– I meant to say that delays that occurred in other ports had a serious effect upon shipping at Port Adelaide. A waterfront hold-up at Sydney or Melbourne affects the timetables of the overseas liners considerably.
Senator O’FLAHERTY The Minister’s apology is accepted.
– I thank the honorable senator. Waterfront troubles at
Port Adelaide might not be as bad as those that occur in other States, but the position there is still bad. According to the press, a serious hold-up occurred there only last week. The expenses associated with ships which are lying idle amount to thousands of pounds a day, and if the position described by the honorable senator arises in a port, owners are forced to by-pass some ports in order that their vessels may run to a strict schedule.
– Has the Minister for Shipping and Transport seen recent press reports from Western Australia to the effect that about 3,000 tons of important machinery and other stores for the Exmouth Gulf oil-drilling project have been held up by shipping delays at the port of Fremantle ? Is any priority accorded to important cargoes that are awaiting movement at Fremantle ? If so, what authority at the port was responsible for the determination of such priorities?
– At present I am not in a position to say exactly what priority would be given to cargoes of the kind mentioned, but I shall get that information for the honorable senator.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that although many thousands of workers were at Fremantle to farewell Gothic, not one of them was deprived of his day’s pay because of absence from duty? In view of that fact, does the Minister regard the waterside workers as extremists because of the stoppage, and has he no sympathy with the claim that the waterside workers should be accorded similar treatment to that given to other workers in Western Australia?
– As I explained earlier, this matter comes under the control of the Minister for Labour and National Service, and 1 am not aware of the details of it. I shall refer the question to the Minister, but I may say that in most of the investigations that I make, we know where the trouble is. I hope that responsible members of Parliament will not take the side of extremists in matters such as this.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon, notice -
What sum has been expended on subsidies for the running’ of the steamship Taroona between Tasmania and the mainland?
– The total sum expended on subsidies for the running, of the steamship Taroona between Tasmania and the mainland to the 30th June, 1953, was £291,627, made up as follows. - 1950-51, £42,000; 1951-52, £115,341; 1952-53, £134,286. The estimated subsidy for 1953-54 is £150,000. The matter of subsidy for the year ending the 30th June, 1955, is now under consideration.
– In directing a question to the Attorney-General I point out that on a number of occasions I, and other honorable senators on both sides of the chamber, have raised the question of undesirable literature of a pornographic and similar nature, published in Australia. The Minister for Trade and Customs and. the AttorneyGeneral have both said at different times, and quite rightly, that this is a matter for the State governments. On the last occasion on which I directed a question to the Attorney-General, in the absence of the Minister for Trade and Customs, who leads the Government in this chamber, I asked him what action, if any, the Commonwealth proposed to take to arm itself with power to prevent the sale, publication and/or distribution of these filthy publications within the Australian Capital Territory. I again ask the AttorneyGeneral, or whoever is the responsible Minister, whether the Government is prepared to co-operate with the States and to introduce legislation, as the States have clone, to overcome this scourge?
– Some State legislatures are dealing with this same matter. I have some recollection of Senator Critchley having asked me a question in relation to such literature. Legislation for the Australian Capital Territory comes within the purview of the Minister for the Interior. As I think
I indicated on a previous: occasion, there would be difficulties in. dealing with this matter in the Australian Capital Territory alone if it were not also dealt with in New South Wales. At any rate, I should think that that aspect of the matter would have to be considered by any one who contemplated passing effective legislation to control such, literature in the Australian Capital Territory. I shall direct the attention of the Minister for the Interior to the honorable senator’s comments.
– Will the Minister for National Development inform the Senate whether he has read a circular letter relating to certain aspects of the exploration for oil in Australia, which, has been addressed to all honorable senators by a Sydney geologist, Mr. Howard C. Millard ? If so, does he agree with Mr. Millard’s allegation that Dr. Woolnough and Dr. Raggatt have, in effect, caused a probable delay of at least twenty years in effecting a discovery of oil in Australia?
– I have received a circular letter from Mr. Millard, whom I do not know. Upon making inquiries into this matter, I found that in March, 1953, Mr. Millard wrote to the Prime Minister requesting an inquiry into the exploration for oil in this country. In June of that year, the Prime Minister wrote to Mr. Millard to the effect that an inquiry was not warranted. Mr. Millard’s circular letter states that for a period of many years Dr. Raggatt prevented and defeated attempts by the Belford Dome oil bore to find oil. I have found;, upon inquiry, that Dr. Raggatt was not an officer of the Public Service in July, 1939, when the Commonwealth was requested to assist this undertaking. Dr. Raggatt was not, therefore, associated in any way with the decision that was made in that connexion. The general allegations concerning Dr. Raggatt are best answered by his record. I think that there would’ be general agreement that, far from hindering in any way the search for oil’ in Australia, Dr. Raggatt has made a very notable contribution in that respect.
– I ask the Minister for National Development what was the cost of the oil drilling plant purchased by the Commonwealth? “When, to whom, and at what price was it sold? Were any special conditions attached by the Commonwealth to the sale?
– I made a public statement concerning this matter at the time that the plant was sold. The facts are within my recollection, but if I should cite the figures incorrectly I shall correct them, for the benefit of the honorable senator, at a later date. The cost of the plant was approximately £336,000, and it was sold for £375,000. There was a profit of between £39,000 and £40,000 on the transaction. The purchaser was a company named West Australian Petroleum Proprietary Limited. The terms and conditions under which the plant was sold were prepared by my department in conjunction with the Department of Supply, which handles these transactions. Those terms and conditions were widely advertised. The purchaser, when submitting his tender, stated that the plant was to be used to drill a hole in the Kimberleys area of Western Australia, and the tender was accepted on that condition.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether it is a fact that petrol sold in Australia has an octane rating of between 70 and 72, whereas the modern motor car requires petrol with an octane rating of approximately 80? Is it also a fact that petrol with an octane rating of SO would reduce the need for decarbonization of motor vehicles by approximately 50 per cent, and, in addition, would result in better performance and greater mileage and a general reduction of maintenance costs? Is it also a fact that the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries and the oil companies have stated that the price control restrictions that have been imposed by the State governments, constitute the reason for the non-introduction of higher octane petrol for the motoring community? In view of the national importance of the motor industry, will the Minister ask the State governments to abate their present restrictive policy so as to enable this petrol to be introduced? At the same time, will the
Minister point out to the States that the introduction of high-octane petrol would not eliminate the present low-octane petrol, but that it would merely restore a practice that operated in Australia before the war when two grades of petrol were available to the public.
– The issues that are involved in the honorable senator’s question are somewhat technical and, to my lay mind, somewhat involved. I shall certainly have the position examined and convey to the honorable senator an answer in due course.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Customs. By way of preface may I say that at present, because of import restrictions on antique furniture from. England, Australians are not able to obtain many pieces of this furniture, which is consequently being sold in America. Australians should be encouraged rather than restrained from purchasing these historical and valuable pieces. In view of the availability in England of many pieces of antique furniture, and the ready market for them in Australia, will the Minister consider removing the import restrictions on the entry of such articles, and so allow Australians to compete in the market?
– I am sure that honorable senators will appreciate that drastic import restrictions were necessary some time ago. Those restrictions were graded according to the essentiality of items, and I do not believe that it could be claimed that antique furniture has a high degree of essentiality. As our trading position and our balance of payments have so considerably improved, the import restrictions have been gradually removed. I am glad to be able to inform the honorable senator, that from the 1st April there will be no quota restrictions on antiques.
– I’ ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service to advise the Senate whether there is any reason why district employment offices outside Australian capital cities should not be utilized more for other Commonwealth activities? In many towns the Commonwealth Employment Service office is the only Commonwealth establishment other than the post office, but the duties of the officers employed in it are restricted. Could not the Commonwealth Employment Service deal with other Commonwealth business, such as the examination of applications for pensions ? Has any consideration been given to changing the name “ Commonwealth Employment Service “ to “ National Service “. and utilizing this widespread organization for national purposes ?
– As this matter falls within the jurisdiction of the Minister for Labour and National Service, I shall direct his attention to the suggestions made by the honorable senator.
Senator ANNABELLE RANKIN.I understand that the Minister representing the Minister for Air now has an answer available to a question I asked nim last week concerning the development of our air bases at Manus Island and Darwin, and the Royal Australian Air Force training being carried out at Darwin.
– My colleague, the Minister for Air, has furnished me with the following reply to the honorable senator’s question : -
I have been informed that excellent progress has been made at the Royal Australian Air Force base Momote, particularly since a Royal Australian Air Force Air Field Construction squadron was posted there about eighteen months ago. It is mainly a training area for the Royal” Australian Air Force and a staging area for northern flights, linking Australia willi American bases in the Pacific and completing the chain of air bases stretching from Pearce, Western Australia and Cocos in the West to Townsville in the North.
The facilities exist for expansion if a threat to Australia developed in the north. The runway is being lengthened to a maximum of 7,000 feet. New living quarters and messing and recreation facilities of a high standard are also being built. Separate married quarters are being constructed and more will bo built within the next twelve months. Power, water and sewerage facilities have already been installed and there is a school for the forty-odd schoolage children of dependants. The foundations are well laid at Maims and from what I have been Informed I have no doubt that in emergency it could expand rapidly. There are only 600 personnel of both services at Manus.
At Darwin the Royal Australian Air Force lias the essential facilities to cope with the steady stream of transit aircraft using this front door of ours. Base facilities are available for the rapid housing of several squadrons. The Royal Australian Air Force states categorically it can handle whatever calls are or are likely to be made on it. At Royal Australian Air Force. Darwin, at present there are six Lincoln Bombers, two four-engined heavy transport aircraft, two Dakota transports and a number of Canberra jet bombers.
Civil aviation authorities at Darwin are constantly handling through traffic or aircraft such as the Constellation. Other regular civil services use the same airport facilities.
A team of active air force reserve staff officers has recently planned an active reserve squadron exercise which will take place this month.
Plans have been made to move nearly 350 personnel of two Citizen Air Force fighter squadrons from Sydney and Melbourne and one Permanent Air Force bomber squadron to the Darwin area for the annual active reserve training camp.
This large-scale training exercise is primarily planned to maintain the standard of active reserve training. It will also increase Darwin’s ability to accommodate and control big movements of air force units at short notice.
– Will the Minister for National Development inform the Senate whether it is a fact that the Australian Ambassador in Washington, Sir Percy Spender, gave a Mr. E. Walsh a letter of introduction to the Minister for National Development seeking support for the sale of machinery and plant by the Joint Coal Board to an American firm called Wunderlich, which proposed to use the machinery in the construction of five aerodromes in Spain? Is this Mr. Walsh identical with the Mr. Walsh who travelled to China in an endeavour to negotiate the sale of some of this machinery in that country, but was prevented from doing so and returned to America at the instigation of the British authorities? In view of the national need to mitigate the effects of floods, particularly in northern parts of Australia, will the Government take steps to ensure that the valuable and irreplaceable machinery belonging to the
J Joint Coal Board will not leave Australia, but will be utilized to prevent a repetition of the almost yearly devastation of property and loss of stock and human lives ?
– I shall try to piece together the questions that the honorable senator has asked. His first question was whether Mr. Walsh had a letter of introduction to me from Sir Percy Spender. The answer to that question is “ No “. I have met the gentleman referred to only once. At that interview, to the best of my recollection, he did not mention the name of Sir Percy Spender nor of any one else that I know. In reply to the honorable senator’s question as to whether Mr. Walsh was representing a firm called Wunderlich, I can only say that if he was I was not aware of the fact. Concerning the question as to whether this gentleman wanted the Joint Coal Board plant in order to build aerodromes in Spain, I suggest that Senator Ashley is thinking of castles in Spain. I have never heard any suggestion that the plant was to be sold in Spain. As to whether Mr. Walsh is identical with a man who travelled to China, I have not a clue. I do not know whether he went to China or Peru or anywhere else. As to what action was taken against him by the British authorities I suggest that the honorable senator address his question to the British authorities. I had not heard such a suggestion previously. The whole position, in a nutshell, is that this man came to Australia from the United States of America and submitted an offer for the Joint Coal Board equipment which was utterly absurd and it was treated as it deserved to be treated. It was rejected 24 hours after it was received. Concerning the suggested use of the plant in Australia, I should be happy to make it available for purchase by the State governments from the Joint Coal Board for the purposes mentioned by the honorable senator.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General whether it is a fact that an appeal is now pending to the Privy Council by transport interests seeking an interpretation of section 92 of the Constitution in relation to transport. Has leave been granted? Is it proposed- that the Commonwealth will be represented by counsel? Will the Attorney-General give the Senate an assurance that the Commonwealth advocacy will not be directed to abridging or limiting the freedom which was confirmed by the judgment of the court in the Banking case in relation to that section?
– It is a fact that an appeal is pending to the Privy Council and that leave has been given to the Commonwealth to intervene. The Commonwealth will be represented by counsel. It is a little unusual to be asked questions about a case which is pending, and one hesitates to express any view concerning the actual arguments which may be put to the Privy Council, either by those who represent the Commonwealth or those who represent other interests. However, I think the honorable senator can be satisfied that nothing will be done by the Commonwealth to undermine the Banking case.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Health take such steps as are necessary to have an exhaustive inquiry made by a competent authority into the cause or causes of poliomyelitis? If not, why not?
– I shall be pleased to bring to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Health, the question asked by the honorable senator.
– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer inform the Senate whether there is available a list of the type of equipment that has been purchased from the United States of America with the 150,000,000 dollar loan that Australia has received from the International Bank? Secondly, is it a fact that at the present rate of compound interest it will cost Australia 50,000,000 dollars every five years for that 150,000,000 dollar loan!
– I am not certain whether a list of the equipment is available. The procedure is that there is not only a dollar allocation committee but also an advisory committee which decides whether particular equipment can be classified as coming within the limits of the loan. I am sure that general statements in relation to the types of equipment have been made. In a bill that I shall introduce later to-day, the honorable senator will see that the equipment is set out under such headings as agricultural equipment, coal-mining equipment, &c. I do not know whether the figures cited by the honorable senator in relation to rates of compound interest are correct, but I should not think so.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. In the week-end press the Government is reported to have let contracts for a further instalment of work on the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. The amount involved in those contracts is approximately £26,000,000. Can the Minister say whether the work is proceeding according to schedule, and over what period the further work that is covered by the contracts will be carried, out?
– The work on the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, in general terms, is proceeding satisfactorily and according to schedule. The tenders to which the honorable senator referred cover what might be called the second stage of the scheme, if the Guthega project is regarded as the first stage. These tenders, which relate to the Adaminaby-Tumut section, cover the work to the completion of the first powerhouse, the T.l powerhouse. They cover the work on the tunnel, which is to be completed in six and a half years, and the work on the Tumut head works, which is to be done in four and a half years. There were those two tenders plus tenders for the supply of turbines and generators for the T.l powerhouse, which makes four tenders altogether. A fifth tender, which covers the building or the digging of the T.l powerhouse itself, is under consideration.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that twenty questions still appear “unanswered on the notice-paper? Will he take steps to ensure that answers are supplied to these questions before the Parliament adjourns this week, because if they are not answered by that time none of the present Ministers will be in office to answer them after the 29th May next?
– I am amazed that not more than twenty questions still appear unanswered on the notice-paper. As the Parliament was in recess for over three months, I thought that the fury of members of the Opposition would have been evidenced in a greater flood of questions. Apparently, honorable senators opposite have run dry of material. I assure the honorable senator that we shall have plenty of time after the general election to be held on the 29th May to supply answers to any questions that may require to be answered.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Works been directed to reports published in the press over the week-end to the effect that the Minister for Conservation in New South Wales denied the truth of the statement made by the Minister for Works in the House of Representatives that a conference was to be called to discuss the subject of raising the height of the Hume Weir and that New South Wales had not co-operated in this matter? Was an invitation issued to a New South Wales representative to attend such a conference and is the statement correct ?
– I read the statement in the press to which the honorable senator has referred. However, my recollection of its contents is not clear enough to enable me to answer the question beyond stating that if the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) stated that he issued an invitation, I am sure that he did so. In the circumstances, I ask the honorable senator to put the question on the notice-paper.
– “Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform the .Senate when the alterations to the Canberra post office that have been in progress for some time will be completed? What additional space will be secured by the post office as a result of the alterations, and what is the estimated cost?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question under the notice of the Postmaster-General and ask him to give a considered reply as early as possible.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior tell me the estimated cost of the new concrete administrative building in Canberra? This building has been in the course of construction since I first came to Canberra in 1950.
– I shall ascertain from the Minister for the Interior whether the information sought by the honorable senator is available.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Defence inform me whether there is any basis for the belief that the atomic test explosion at the Monte Bello islands was responsible for the contamination of the spawning grounds for fish, and that fish from that area have been found to be radio-active? Was an examination of the fish at the Hotel Kurrajong last Friday made by the Commonwealth health authorities for this reason? If it was not, what was the reason for the examination? Is it a fact that a unit of the Royal Australian Navy, on returning from the Monte Bello area, was found to be radio-active, and that some members of the crew were affected by this radio-activity?
– I have not heard any of the rumours upon which the honorable senator has based his question, but I shall have inquiries made into the matter. If any information is available on the subject, I shall be happy to convey it to him; that is, apart from the fish at the Hotel Kurrajong.
– I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether it is a fact that the Government has placed a ceiling on employment in the Postmaster-General’s Department. If so, does the ceiling apply to employment in the engineering branch of that department? Is the engineering branch responsible for the installation of telephones? How many applications for telephones were unsatisfied in March, 1952, and how many are outstanding today? If this ceiling on employment exists, will the Government lift it in order that the urgent work of installing telephones may be completed?
– The collection of the information sought by Senator Armstrong will involve a certain amount of work. I shall bring the question to the notice of the Postmaster-General, and ask him to furnish a considered reply.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, and I should like to say, by way of explanation, that businessmen and the travelling public generally are tremendously impressed with the new train on the Commonwealth section of the East- West railway. However, some regular travellers are worried about whether the maintenance of the track is adequate. ‘ Will the Minister institute inquiries into that matter?
– I discuss that matter frequently with the Commonwealth Commissioner of Railways, and as recently as a week ago, he assured me that the “track was adequately maintained. Western Australians, in particular, will appreciate the importance of this work. An instrument is carried on the train to test the line, and it reports any weaknesses that may exist. If any weaknesses are discovered, they receive prompt attention. However, I shall remind the Commissioner that the matter has been raised again, and that I regard it as of the greatest importance. I shall obtain the latest report on the position for the honorable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
I realize that many honorable senators are interested, and I assure them that the Minister and officers of his department are very concerned about the delay and are giving the matter their close attention.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
The lamb free quota is quite separate from the mutton free quota and no lamb has been sold to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I understand, moreover, that exporters have been unable to sell more than about 75 per cent, of their free quota lamb to dollar countries.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
After a sufferer from tuberculosis is discharged from a sanatorium, tuberculosis allowance is continued until the sufferer is no longer infectious and not in serious danger of becoming so. In addition to this the medical referees may continue the allowance -
Except as explained in my answer to Question 1. tuberculosis allowance is not payable when a sufferer is no longer infectious and not in serious danger of becoming so. When asufferer has reached this stable condition he is not a hazard to public health notwithstanding that he himself might suffer some temporary or permanent disability. The special reason (indeed, the only reason) for giving him a preference over other categories of invalids thus no longer exists: if he suffers from a permanent disability he is, of course, entitled to an invalid pension.
– I lay on the table the following papers: -
International Agreement for the Regulation of the Production and Marketing of Sugar, signed at London, October, 1953, together with statement by the Minister for Trade and Customs.
At the time the document was printed, the agreement had not been ratified or accepted by the United Kingdom Government, and a note to that effect appears on the front cover of the document. However, it has been ratified now by that Government. The following is a complete list of the countries which, to date, have ratified the agreement or given notice of intention to ratify it : - Exporting countries - Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic. France, Haiti, Hungary, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Importing countries - Japan, Lebanon, Portugal, United Kingdom, United States of America, Western Germany. It is, of course, open to other countries to accede to the agreement. As sufficient countries have accepted the agreement, it has come into force and will operate for a period of five years from the 1st January, 1954. subject to review in the latter part of the third year, especially in regard to quotas and prices. The agreement is designed to stabilize the world price of sugar, which has declined sharply since the latter part of 1952. Therefore, it will be of great benefit to the Australian sugar industry, which sells nearly half of its annual sugar exports at prices directly related to the world market price. The agreement has the support of the Australian sugar industry.
– I present the sixth report of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee. The report is as follows : –
Sixth Report of the Joint Committee ox the broadcastingof parliamentary Proceedings.
The Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings submits the Sixth Report for presentation to each House of the Parliament and recommends its adoption.
The Joint Committee has further considered the general principles upon which there should be determined the days upon which and the periods during which the proceedings of the Senate and the House of Representatives shall be broadcast, which were specified in previous reports by the Joint Committee and were adopted by both Houses. In accordance with section 12 (1.) of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1940, the Joint Committee has now resolved that the general principles should be further amended as follows: -
Broadcasting. Commission shall re-broadcast at 7.20 p.m. the Speech of the GovernorGeneral.”; and “
Archie G. Cameron, Chairman. 7 th April, 1954.
The general principles adopted by both Houses of the Parliament concerning the parliamentary broadcasts stipulate that on each sitting day between 7.20 p.m. and 7.55 p.m. the Australian Broadcasting Commission shall re-broadcast questions and answers of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Since the inception of the broadcasts, a question period has not occurred on the first sitting day of a new session at a time that would permit rebroadcasting. On these occasions the joint committee has determined that a re-broadcast shall be made of the Governor-General’s Speech. The committee feels it is appropriate that the Speech of the GovernorGeneral on all such occasions should be rebroadcast and. in order that this shall be a permanent feature of the broadcasting arrangements, it recommends that a stipulation to this effect be incorporated in the general principles. Accordingly, the joint committee in its report has proposed appropriate amendments to the general principles. It recommends that the report be adopted.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to authorize the borrowing of a sum of 54,000,000 dollars from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, in accordance with the loan agreement concluded with the bank on the 2nd March this year. This is the third loan Australia has obtained from the International Bank. The first loan of 100,000,000 dollars, obtained in August, 1950, was fully drawn last year. Import licences have been issued for the full amount of the second loan of 50,000,000 dollars made in July, 1952. The new 54,000,000-dollar loan arranged last month will enable licences to be issued for further imports of essential capital equipment from the dollar area. It will ensure that we shall have the dollars to pay for a continuing supply of this equipment until 1953. The full texts of the new loan agreement and of the loan regulations appended to it are reproduced in the schedules to the bill. Honorable senators will note that in the preamble to the present loan agreement the International Bank formally records its willingness in principle to continue its participation in the financing of the development of the Australian economy over the five-year period which commenced in 1950. Thus, the present loan is another in a series designed to provide dollar finance for capital goodspurchased over a period of years.
The Government has always believed that a measure of external financial assistance is essential to permit a satisfactory rate of development of Australia’s economic resources. To obtain additional dollars to pay for equipment needed for the expansion of Australian industries, the Government embarked upon a programme of dollar borrowing more than three years ago. This has been supplemented by our recent borrowing of Swiss francs, and by the continuing inflow of private sterling and other oversea capital. International Bank finance has played a vital part in recent additions to our capital equipment. Although the bulk of the resources, both financial and material, required for our development is found locally, imported equipment of various kinds is essential for expansion and modernization in many fields. The larger part of these imports comes from non-dollar sources. There remains, however, some vital equipment which can be obtained only from the dollar area, and dollars remain in relatively short supply.
Honorable senators will be interested to hear some figures that highlight the uses to which our first two International Bank loans have been put, and that indicate the valuable contribution these loans have made, and are still making, to our economic progress. Of the 150,000,000 dollars provided under our first and second loans, more than 45,000,000 dollars, or almost one-third, has been allocated to the purchase of tractors and agricultural machinery for the opening up of new lands and for the adoption of more efficient farming techniques on existing farms. Recent marked improvements in productivity in our primary industries have undoubtedly been due. in no small measure, to the increased supply of modern American farming equipment such as pick-up hay balers, combine harvesters, cotton pickers and specialized tractors.
An amount of 15,000,000 dollars ha3 been allocated to the modernization of railways. A large proportion of this has been used to pay for components for diesel electric locomotives whose operations here have resulted in big economies and improved services in the railways using them. More than 27,000,000 dollars has been spent on electrical equipment including package power plants. These have been set up in areas where acute power shortages were previously dislocating industrial activity. Nearly 20,000,000 dollars from the first loan was allocated for the purchase of industrial tractors and earth-moving equipment and components which have helped to modernize our techniques of road construction and maintenance and benefited many other sections of our economy. Import licences exceeding 13,000,000 dollars have been issued under the second loan for heavy road transport vehicles and additional earth-moving equipment. Aircraft worth 6,000,000 dollars are being paid for out of the second loan proceeds. The mining industry has been allotted more than 6,000,000 dollars and about 15,000,000 dollars of the first and second loans has been or will be used to pay for a wide variety of equipment for the modernization and expansion of our manufacturing industries.
Every bit of the equipment obtained under our International Bank loans is essential. Much of it is being used to expand export production, not only directly as in agriculture, mining and various secondary industries, but also indirectly by supplying cheaper power and transport. The Australian economy to-day is markedly more efficient as a result of the goods paid for with International Bank finance. The third loan will ensure continued access by public authorities and private industry to productive equipment and techniques which are available only in the United States of America and Canada. The new loan of 54,000,000 dollars is for a period of fifteen years. Interest at 4f per cent, per annum - the same as under our second loan - is payable half-yearly on the amount of the loan withdrawn and outstanding from time to time. This interest charge includes the 1 per cent, commission which, under its articles of agreement, the bank is required to charge and pay to its reserves. A commitment charge of 4 per cent, per annum is payable half-yearly on the amount undrawn from time to time. This charge is to accrue from the date the loan becomes available or the 1st May, 1954, whichever is the earlier. Repayments of principal do not commence until three years after signature, the first principal repayment falling due on the 1st March, 1957. Payments of interest and principal will then be made half-yearly in accordance with an amortization schedule on a fixed annuity basis. The final payment will fall due on the 1st March. 1969, Once the full amount of the loan has been withdrawn, and before amortization pavements commence, interest will amount to 2,565,000 dollars, or £A.1,14’5,000, per annum. Prom 1957 onwards, annual payments of interest and principal combined will amount to 5.778,000 dollars, or £A.2.580,000.
In general the other clauses of the’ new loan agreement are similar to those in the 1950 and 1952 loan agreements, which received the approval of the Senate on each occasion. The interest charge on the present loan - 4 per cent, per annum - is the same as that which applied on the 1952 loan. Honorable senators will, however, note that, whereas the last loan was for a period of twenty years, the present loan is for fifteen years. The reason why the period is shorter is that the average effective life of the equipment which we propose to buy with our third loan will be shorter than that of equipment obtained under previous loans. In general, the terms and conditions of the present loan to Australia are in line with those of recent International Bank loans to other countries but, if anything, a little more favorable. As in the case of previous International Bank loans, it Ls intended to pay the Australian currency proceeds of our third loan into the National Debt Sinking Fund. This is provided for in clause 6. Clause 7 requires the National Debt Commission to meet repayments of principal to the International Bank as they fall due. In effect, therefore, the loan provides its own sinking fund. Payments of interest and other charges are to be met from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. This is provided for in clause 8. Clause 9 exempts this loan from certain provisions of the National Debt Sinking Fund. This is necessary, because otherwise the Australian Government would be obliged to pay normal sinking fund contributions in addition to the Australian currency amounts paid in under clause 6.
Schedule 2 of the loan agreement describes the development programmes to which the equipment financed under the loan will contribute. It also gives examples of the types of equipment which will be financed out of the proceeds of the loan. Although the precise goods to be procured have not yet been completely determined, an allocation of the new 54000,000-dollar loan among the six programmes has been tentatively agreed with the International Bank. This tentative allocation, which may be varied from time to time with the agreement of the bank as the needs of importers emerge more specifically, is as follows : -
Thus, once again, agriculture will receive a substantial share of the total. Although much of the equipment needed to develop new areas and increase output from existing holdings can be obtained either from Australian manufacturers or from suppliers in countries outside the dollar area, there are certain types of tractors and other farm machinery which are available only from the United States of America and Canada. The loan will ensure that our producers do not suffer by lack of access to the latest technological developments in the agricultural machinery field. Tractors and” logging equipment for the forestry industry are also eligible for International Bank finance. Imports of electricity generating equipment, especially package power plants, financed under our first and second International Bank loans, together with generating plant obtained from the United Kingdom and Europe, have largely been successful in eliminating the acute peak-load shortages which hampered production and caused so much inconvenience during the post-war years. Although demand for electric power continues to expand, in future the bulk of new generating equipment will be supplied from non-dollar sources. This explains the reduced allocation for electric power under the third loan.
Transport equipment, especially aircraft, represents relatively a rauch larger proportion of the total value of the goods to be financed under the present loan than under previous borrowings from the International Bank. I am sure that honorable senators will readily appreciate the vital need to expand and improve transport facilities by air, road and rail in a continent as large as ours, with widely scattered centres of population and production. Moreover, Australia’s geographical position, being at a considerable distance from existing and potential markets, emphasizes our dependence upon efficient air communications in the international field. The road transport programme, for which an amount of 10,500,000 dollars has been tentatively allocated, includes not only the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges, but also additions and replacements of our fleet of goods-carrying road vehicles. For the purposes of the third loan agreement, these have been redefinite to include utilities on commercial chassis of 15 cwt. and over. The amount set aside for the railway programme will be used largely to purchase components for the manufacture of diesel -electric locomotives in Australia.
Because the worth of an air service depends largely on the performance and efficiency of the aircraft used, it is important that Australian airlines shall be in a position to take advantage of improvements in aircraft design and performance. Some honorable senators may wonder why the Government proposes to sanction the spending of dollars on aircraft when we all are familiar with the splendid achievements of British aircraft designers. I assure the Senate that we have not overlooked the new types of aircraft which will become available from the United Kingdom during the next few years. Certain Australian airlines have already placed orders for some of these. All of the aircraft which we propose to purchase under the present International Bank loan will be for delivery either this year or early in 1955. They will be supplied in advance of similar-purpose British aircraft. I should mention that the British Overseas Airways Corporation, the partner of Qantas Empire Airways Limited on the London-Sydney route via the Middle* East, is in full agreement with that company’s plans in this field.
An amount of slightly less than 8,000,000 dollars has been tentatively allocated to an industrial development programme. It is intended to cover needs for essential dollar capital equipment in the iron and steel, food processing, chemical, textile, mining and engineering industries. Investment in the manufacturing field is undertaken largely by private enterprise, and the development plans of private firms at any given time are in varying stages of formulation and execution. This has been recognized by the International Bank and, in order to provide a measure of flexibility, a fixed sum has not been allocated to each sector of this programme.
In effect, most sections of the Australian economy will benefit either directly or indirectly from the improvement in our productive capacity which this third loan now makes possible. Export production should rise and we should reduce our dependence upon imports. By and large, Australian industries should become more efficient producers. There will be no difference in operating procedures between the present loan and earlier International Bank loans. The Department of Trade and Customs has already taken steps to notify importers of the types of goods eligible for licensing under the new loan, and interested importers should submit applications to that department. As in previous loans, the importer will pay for the goods supplied through normal banking channels.
I make it clear that the new loan will not in any way remove the need for continued economy in dollar expenditure. The British Commonwealth Finance Ministers, at the conclusion of their conference in Sydney last January, stated :
We should not relax our efforts to achieve a. dollar surplus.
Dollar goods will not be licensed for importation against the loan, if comparable goods are available readily from local or other non-dollar sources. This loan demonstrates the International Bank’s appreciation of our continuing need to develop our resources, and its confidence in the future of the Australian economy. The loan will make possible the more rapid utilization of resources the development of which is urgent and vital. It will, therefore, benefit all Australians. I have the greatest pleasure in commending the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives:
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to obtain parliamentary approval for the loan of 60,000,000 Swiss francs raised by the Government towards the end of last year, and to make certain arrangements in connexion with that loan. This is the first loan ever raised by an Australian government in Switzerland. Negotiations began when the Treasurer visited Switzerland early in 1952 and had preliminary talks with Swiss government and banking officials. The discussions were carried a stage further when a general manager of the Swiss Bank Corporation visited Australia in the beginning of 1953 to get a first-hand impression of the Australian economy. In October and November, 1953, detailed negotiations were carried out with a group of Swiss banks and they agreed to underwrite the loan and to act as the Commonwealth’s agents in its flotation. The loan was issued for public subscription in Switzerland on the 26th November, 1953, and proved an immediate and outstanding success. It closed fully subscribed a few days later. The results of the loan can be regarded with much satisfaction by Australians. The net proceeds, after deducting various flotation costs, were equivalent to £A5,800,000. Although it was not a large loan, it was a. new venture in a market unaccustomed to Australian borrowing, and its spontaneous reception can be taken as a sign of keen interest among the Swiss people in Australia’s progress and of their confidence in our country’s future.
The hill now before the Senate provides the legal framework for the loan. It approves the borrowing and the issue of the necesary securities. It sets up machinery to put the loan proceeds to use in assisting Australia’s development and to provide for the servicing and ultimate repayment of the loan. The loan agreement, which contains the terms and conditions of the loan, is reproduced as a schedule to the bill. Before commenting on these matters, however, I desire to state the reasons why the Government decided to raise the loan, which is designed to assist Australia’s industrial development. There is immense scope for development in Australia, and the greater part of it is being financed from our own capital resources, that is from private savings and business profits., But. overseas capital, too, has an important part to play. Overseas capital supplements our own savings and enables development to proceed faster and more effectively than it would if we had to rely solely on our own resources. We can afford to borrow overseas, within prudent limits, because the interest bill on the Commonwealth overseas debt nowadays is only a small part, less than 2 per cent., of current export earnings. The scope for government borrowing overseas has been very limited in post-war years, so that when the opportunity of borrowing in Switzerland arose, the Government had no hesitation in taking advantage of it.
Borrowing overseas has the added merit that at the time the borrowing takes place we receive an addition to our foreign exchange holdings. The Swiss loan is of special value in this respect, because the Swiss franc is a strong currency, and no restrictions were placed on the currencies into which the Swiss franc proceeds of the loan could be converted. The terms of the loan as set out in the loan agreement were approved by the Australian Loan Council before the loan agreement was signed. They are as follows : -
Interest is at the rate of 4 per cent. per annum, payable half-yearly.
The duration of the loan is fifteen years, with an option to redeem after twelve years.
Interest and capital are to be paid at the option of the bondholders in Switzerland or in Australia. If paid in Australia, the bondholder may convert the Australian currency into United States dollars or such other foreign currency as the Commonwealth Bank may be prepared to authorize.
Payments of interest and capital are to be free of Australian taxes or duties for bondholders not resident in Australia. This is in accordance, with our existing income tax laws.
The agreement sets out the costs of the borrowing which should be borne by the Commonwealth.
The remainder of the loan agreement relates to procedural matters such as under-writing, drawing up the prospectus, issuing the bonds, listing on Swiss stock exchanges, and arrangements for payment of interest and repayment of capital. As I said earlier, the loan was a success, and the amount of 60,000,000 Swiss francs, was raised without difficulty. After deduction of borrowing expenses the Government received the Swiss franc proceeds, sold them to the Commonwealth Bank and received in return an equivalent amount of Australian currency. After the Commonwealth Bank paid the equivalent of the net loan proceeds in Australian pounds to the Government’s credit in Australia, it only remained to put these Australian pounds to use in Australian industrial development.
For this purpose it is proposed to open a trust account, named the Swiss Loan Trust Account, to which the loan proceeds will be transferred from the loan fund, where they are now held. The Government proposes to use the Swiss Loan Trust Account balance in assisting the Australian Loan Council’s borrowing programmes for this financial year. As honorable senators know, the Commonwealth undertook at the Australian Loan Council meeting in May, 1953, to assist the States’ borrowing programmes in 1953-54 up to a limit of £95,000,000. The £5,800,000 received from the Swiss loan- will prove very useful in helping to meet that obligation. Most State government works expenditure goes to provide basie services necessary for the development of Australia’s economy. In this way, the object of the Swiss loan - the promotion of Australia’s industrial development - will be achieved.
The Swiss Loan Trust Account will also form a sinking fund for the loan. When the time comes for repayment of the loan, the trust account investments can be realized to- provide funds for the repayment. It is possible, however,, that the moneys in the trust account will not be quite enough to repay the loan fully. After meeting the expenses of the borrowing, the amount payable to the trust account will be about £5,800,000 whereas the amount repayable on the loan is about £6,000,000. This deficiency could be increased if there happened to be movements in exchange, rates between- now and the date of repayment. It is accordingly proposed that the trust account may, if necessary, be credited with interest received from the trust account’s investments and provision for this has been made in clause 6 (3). To the extent that it is not found necessary to build up the trust account in this way, the interest on the trust account’s investments will, of course, be credited to Consolidated Revenue. Moreover, as provided in the Audit Act, any balance which might remain in the trust, account after repaying the loan would be transferred back to Consolidated Revenue.
Because of these arrangements it will not be necessary for the Commonwealth to make normal sinking fund contributions in respect of the Swiss- loan, and clause 9 of the bill accordingly exempts the loan from the provisions of the National Debt Sinking Fund Act. Current payments of interest on the Swiss loan will be met from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. This is provided for in clause 10. This loan will undoubtedly prove of lasting benefit, both to Australia and to Switzerland. The Swiss have taken the opportunity of investing in Australia’s future development and have obtained a secure investment with a reasonable return. Moreover, Australia’s continued development will expand the Australian market and Swiss exporters will undoubtedly find opportunities of participating in that market. Commercially as well as financially, the links between the two countries will be welded more closely. For Australia, the loan is amply justified by the contribution it will also make in improving and expanding our basic developmental facilities. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
The debate (on. motion by Senator McKENNA adjourned.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this short bill is to grant allowances to former State officers who transferred to the Commonwealth service at federation. Their pension rights, which are preserved to them by section 84 of the Australian Constitution, entitled them to receive on retirement the pension which would have been payable under the law of the State, if their service with the ‘Commonwealth were a continuation of their service with the State. These pensioners have not participated in any general increases in pensions granted under the Commonwealth Superannuation Act from time to time, for the reasons first that, unlike contributors to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund, they were not required to contribute for their pensions, and, secondly, that their pensions were higher than the pensions payable under the Commonwealth Superannuation Act.
The Australian Government’s attitude to this question has been, therefore, to keep the pensions of former State officers transferred to the Commonwealth, in line with the pension to which they would have been entitled from time to time, had they not been transferred to the Commonwealth. As in almost every case these pensioners were formerly in the employ of the Western Australian Government. It has been the practice to adjust pensions in accordance with increases granted to its own pensioners by that Government. Increases were granted by the Western Australian Government in ]948 and 1951, and the Commonwealth granted corresponding increases in pensions payable under section 84 of the Constitution. Under the Pensions Supplementation Act 1953 (Act No. 78 of 1953) which was recently passed by the
Western Australian Government, and which will continue in operation until the 31st December, 1956, persons in receipt of pensions under the Western Australian Superannuation Act 1871 have again had their pensions increased. This amendment to the Transferred Officers Allowances Act is to enable the recent increases granted by the Western Australian Government to be extended to persons in receipt of what are known as section 84 pensions. Those pensions will be increased by one-sixth, the maximum increase being limited to £52 per annum. As provided in the State act the increase will continue until the 31st December, 1956, when it will be subject to review. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to increase the special grants payable to the States of Queensland and Western Australia towards the cost of improving certain stock routes in those States. The stock routes are specified in the States Grants (Encouragement of Meat Production) Act 1949, which appropriated £2,166,000 for payments to the States of Queensland and Western Australia to meet, first, the capital cost of constructing or improving roads in the Channel country of south-west Queensland and in the east Kimberley area of Western Australia, and, secondly, half the capital cost up to specified limits, of improving certain stock routes serving those areas. Enactment of the 1949 legislation was part of a drive to encourage a greater turnover of beef in northern parts of Australia so that the export surplus available to the United Kingdom might be increased.
The programmes of road and stock route improvements in Queensland and Western Australia were drawn up by the State governments, which also provided estimates of the costs involved. These formed the basis of the 1949 act. In respect of improvements to specified stock routes, the act provides that the Commonwealth shall meet half the cost, subject to a maximum Commonwealth payment of £75,500 in the case of Queensland and £81,500 in the case of Western Australia. These limits were imposed because it was originally estimated that the total cost of stock route improvements in Queensland and Western Australia would be £151,000 and £61,000 respectively.
The Premiers of the two States have requested that the limits of the Commonwealth contribution to stock route improvements be increased to £150,000 and £50,000 respectively. The increased amounts have been sought because of the rise in cost levels since the original estimates were prepared. No works additional to those specified in the act are proposed.
The revised estimates have been examined and are considered reasonable. It is accordingly proposed, in view of the original intention that the Commonwealth should meet half the cost of improvements to the stock routes in question, to amend the act to give effect to these revised cost estimates. It is not proposed to increase the total appropriation of £2,166,000 under the act. The reason is that savings approximating the increased estimated expenditure on stock routes will probably be made on the roads and bridges sections of the programmes.
Debate (on motion by Senator Courtice) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cooper) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a bill to amend the Aluminium Industry Act 1944-1952 by appropriating the sum of £2,102,600 as additional funds for the project. Honorable senators will recall that under the original Aluminium Industry Act of 1944 provision was made for the establishment of an aluminium project for the treatment of alumina and the reduction of the alumina to aluminium ingot. The works were to be located in Tasmania for the reason, as stated by the late Mr. Beasley in introducing the bill, that ample hydro-electric power was available there at a price comparable with that at which power was supplied to the large aluminium smelters in North America. The cost of the venture, based on an estimate made in 1942, was to be £3,000,000. It was to be a joint undertaking, the Commonwealth and the State of Tasmania each contributing £1,500,000.
Not long after the present Government came into office, it became clear that this estimate of £3,000,000 was seriously inadequate, and early in 1951, the commission prepared estimates indicating that a further £4,250,000 would be required. The Tasmanian Government having stated that it was unable to contribute its share or any part of the additional moneys required, this Parliament passed an amending act in 1952 appropriating the additional £4,250,000.
The undertaking has been pushed forward with considerable vigour since 1950 and excellent progress has been made on the construction side. The plant, which I am told is a very modern one, is now approaching the point where it ca.n commence production of alumina to be followed by ingot a few months thereafter. But in order fully to complete the project and set the works going as a commercial concern additional funds will be necessary. As the Tasmanian Government is still not able to make a further contribution, the necessary money must be found by the Commonwealth, and that is the purpose of this bill. In addition to the previous appropriations, £3,250,000 will be necessary, of which £1,147,400 was appropriated in the annual vote for 1951-52, leaving a balance of £2.102,600 to be appropriated under this bill, so that, in all, the Commonwealth will have put £9,000,000 into the project.
The difference between the previous estimate and the present one is accounted for largely by a substantial rise in costs since 1951, outside the control of the commission, and also by the purchase of additional items of plant and services recommended by the commission’s technical consultants, British Aluminium Company Limited, on completion of the plant design, not decided in 1951, but now regarded as necessary for the purpose of producing a more efficient plant. The cost of the Wessel Island bauxite survey, which was borne by the commission, has also been a factor in increasing the present estimate, but this survey has added 10,000,000 tons of highgrade bauxite to Australia’s resources. “We have also now made provision for sufficient working capital when the plant goes into commercial operation. The project will be ready to go into production early in 1955, the target date being January of that year.
Electric power supplies have caused, and are causing, us much anxiety, but the Premier of Tasmania, who knows our power requirements and their timetable, has promised that power will be available for the works as required by the commission from the beginning of the year. When the plant is completed it will produce 13,000 tons of ingot a year, sufficient for all Australia’s present requirements. As all of our aluminium is at present imported from ‘ dollar sources, this -will mean an easing of our dollar budget to an amount of more than 5,000,000 dollars a year. I recommend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Armstrong) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 8th April (vide page 84), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That thebill be now read a first time.
– I wish to refer to the position that arose in the Senate after the double dissolution of 1951 and to the apathy of the Government towards its attendant problems, and to suggest at least some way in which, even at this late stage, those problems may be overcome. Much political instability flows from the fact that, because of the way in which elections have been and will be conducted as a result of that dissolution, an approach to the people must be made four times in every five years. Every honorable senator will agree that it is notin the interests of any government, irrespective of its political colour or its ability, if in four out of every five years it has to leave its administrative duties in order to approach the people and to defend the policy that it has been trying to implement. If anything, the period of life of an Australian Parliament is too short. In other countries, governments consider that a three-year period is far too short. In our sister dominion of Canada and in England the period is five years. In Australia that period is reduced by almost half. Even a cursory examination reveals that in every five years there will be four federal elections. The cost at the present rate - and there does not seem to be any reason why it should become cheaper - is £250,000 each time the electors are called upon to elect a parliament. The elector does not gain very much confidence in governments when he is called upon continually to decide which party shall govern the country for the succeeding three years and, in some instances, twelve to eighteen months. I mentioned those facts because I should have thought, although the last election was not inevitable but perhaps desirable, the Government would have evolved some concrete plan in order to overcome this very undesirable feature of government. May I suggest that even now the Government could announce that at the 1956 Senate election it would hold a referendum on the necessary alteration of the Constitution in order to prolong the life of the Senate by one year. That would automatically bring together the elections for both houses of the Parliament without any serious dislocation of government and without producing a short term in the House of Representatives where the Government is formed.
– The position could get out of line again.
– It could get out of line in the event of a double dissolution, but I shall deal with that aspect in a few moments. The immediate problem is to bring together the election for both houses of the Parliament. If the position was made clear at this stage, the announcement would be in sufficient time before the 1956 Senate election to avoid any accusation of political gain by one side or the other. It would not be a question of fighting a referendum on a controversial issue between elections, the history of which, I suggest, makes governments timid of conducting referendums. I suggest that that would be a simple and effective way in which to approach the subject, and that it would be the most non-controversial referendum any government could hold.
– What is the honorable senator’s suggestion?
– That a referendum should be held simultaneously with the 1956 Senate election and that the senators who are returned should be elected for seven years instead of six years, except in the case of a casual vacancy. I refer now to the position in which the Senate finds itself in relation to deadlocks between this chamber and the House of Representatives as a result of the superimposition upon the constitutional provision of a system of proportional representation in regard to casual vacancies. I shall deal, first, with the subject of deadlocks. I think we can agree at once that a double dissolution proves absolutely nothing. Why such a provision was written into the Constitution is very difficult to determine.
– It proves that both Houses disagree.
– Yes, but it does not solve the problem. If both Houses of the Parliament reach a deadlock and a double dissolution follows, the question in relation to which they have reached the deadlock remains undecided. I should think that it would be more appropriate for the Constitution to provide that, when there is a deadlock on a particular question, as there was in the case of the banking legislation, that particular question should be referred to the people at a referendum and the matter so decided. However, as no such provision has been written into the Constitution, it would be futile to discuss the matter at this stage
– The idea was not so much to get rid of the deadlock as the dead men.
– I hope that the honorable senator is referring to politically dead men. How can the degree of political instability that is inherent in the present arrangement, and which continually threatens us, be removed? I suggest that the Government has been very remiss in this matter. The Government itself complained between 1950 and 1951 about the very existence of a deadlock, and it made all sorts of extravagant claims about the maimer in which its legislative programme was being frustrated, but it has had before it since the 2Sth November, 1950, a report of the select committee on the Constitution Alteration (Avoidance of Double Dissolution Deadlocks) Bill. The formation of the committee followed the introduction by the Government of a bill designed to resolve the difficulty. The bill was never proceeded with. The report of the select committee is still in the archives and its recommendations can be implemented at any time. Questions in relation to this subject that have been addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, and possibly in another place, hare always been met with sympathetic understanding and have been given a sympathetic answer. I asked such a question a few months ago and Senator O’Sullivan replied that it was an important question, that he was fully seized with its importance and that the Government would do something about the matter. But the Government has- done nothing about it, and we must face another election without being any nearer to a solution than when it was elected on the 10th December, 1949. Parliament is confronted with the problem of giving smooth and steady government to the people of Australia, even in the event of a disagreement between both Houses of the Parliament. The Constitution provides that the only way in which a deadlock can be overcome is by the granting of a double dissolution and, -if that does not resolve the difficulty, by a joint sitting of the members of both Houses. Apart from the costliness of double dissolutions and the frustration that give rise to them, they are not effective in resolving deadlocks. The Government should have moved long before this to remedy the present position. When a deadlock arises the Parliament should seek to solve it at a joint sitting of both Houses. The Government should indicate whether it concurs with the recommendations of the select committee, or that it will accept them in a modified form or that it rejects them entirely. I repeat that when a deadlock is reached the Parliament should seek a solution at a joint sitting of both Houses. In the event of a double dissolution failing to end a deadlock that process must, eventually, be resorted to. Under the Constitution, the people are primary 7’ather than final arbiters. Therefore, in such circumstances, there should be joint consultation between the parties, first in this chamber, whereby we could give a lead, and should that be ineffective there should be joint consultation between the parties in the Parliament as a whole. I believe that a great field of agreement could be readied on this problem and that it is not so difficult as some contend. Whenever a deadlock arises, and the alternative appears to be a double dissolution, the government of the day should have the right to demand a joint sitting of both Houses forthwith.
The recommendations made by the select committee suggest several safeguards. However, its suggestion that in the event of a deadlock the Senate should have power to delay the passage of bills of various kinds for certain periods is not important. The problem could be overcome expeditiously if the Government had power to demand a joint sitting. Consequently, that process would be of great benefit to our democracy.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the people should be denied the right to give their decision in the matter?
– The people give their decision at the ballot-box at genera] elections.
– That would be at least two years later.
– I remind the honorable senator that the process of referendum and recall does not operate in this country. The parties in the Parliament clash on policy from day to day. Whereas, in such matters the people are really the final arbiters, they do not, in practice, decide the point that gives rise to a double dissolution. When the first double dissolution occurred in this Parliament the issue that gave rise to it was not debated on the hustings at all, but, as happens inevitably in respect of all general elections and referendums, all sorts of extraneous issues were raised that were not directly related to the subjectmatter of the dissolution. Governments have the responsibility to govern and they are judged by the people at the end of their term of office. But no government should be frustrated by the threat or actual occurrence of a double dissolution. I have raised this matter because I believe that it is of the utmost importance to the effectiveness of our parliamentary system of government. Stability of government is a prime requisite in a democracy. Instability of government, such as we have witnessed in certain European countries in recent times, causes serious deterioration in social and economic life. Indeed, it would appear that some of those countries will never be capable of recovering fully from the ill effects that such instability has caused within their boundaries. It is our duty to do all that we can in order to insure stability of government in our democracy. It is true that only two double dissolutions have occurred in the history of this Parliament.
– Would the honorable senator say that that was evidence of instability of government ?
– I am replying to the honorable senator’s earlier interjection by which he implied that, issues that cause deadlocks should be referred immediately to. the electorate. I submit that a first requisite in a democracy is that the government of the day should have full power to govern. That power can be assured if the Parliament is prepared to resolve deadlocks by a sensible and expeditious process. At the same time, I do not in any way advocate a lessening of the power of the Senate. Under the Constitution, the Senate is expressly empowered to delay the. passage of measures if it deems that to be the right course to follow. In fact, we exercise that power whenever we debate a measure in this chamber. Perhaps, agreement could be reached on the period for which the Senate should have power to delay a measure that gives rise to a deadlock. I should not be satisfied with the provision merely of an automatic delay in that respect. The clash of debate and the publicity resulting therefrom serve to inform, the minds of the people upon contentious measures. That is an essential feature of our parliamentary system of government.
I shall deal only briefly with the problem that arises in the filling of casual vacancies, because I do not think that this matter is so important as the problem of dealing effectively with deadlocks. At the same time, however, I believe that it will be more difficult to reach a field of agreement on this minor matter than it will be to reach agreement on the major subject of resolving deadlocks. Under the present system of proportional representation in the Senate the death, or resignation, of one honorable senator could upset a government almost in full flight. Such a state of affairs is undesirable. However, this is a difficult problem. There seems to be a rooted objection to recognition of parties, as such, in legislative enactments. This attitude perpetuates an objection that is implicit in the Constitution itself. In those circumstances, it would appear that any proposal that political parties should be empowered to rill vacancies caused by the death, or resignation, of an honorable senator, according to the party affiliation of that senator, will not be generally acceptable. I, personally, cannot comprehend why political parties should be denied recognition in the Statutes. The select committee to which I have referred recommended that a vacancy caused by the resignation, or death, of an honorable senator should be filled by the appointment of the candidate at the preceding election who would normally have been elected if the counting of preferential votes had been proceeded with. If that suggestion were implemented, all political parties would provide for such a contingency by nominating an additional candidate. However, as I have said, this problem although of minor importance when compared with the problem of deadlocks is likely to cause much controversy. ‘Fortunately, casual vacancies occur only infrequently. Perhaps, a field of agreement could be found if the matter were approached seriously.
I repeat that the Government has been remiss in failing to deal with these matters. Since it assumed office in 1949, several instances have arisen in which it lias experienced instability because of the lack of effective means of dealing expeditiously with problems of the kind that I have indicated. For the second time in the history of this Parliament, it was obliged, in. 1951, to seek a double dissolution. As I said earlier, the Government has been content to reply -to representations on these matters to the effect that they are of great importance and that they require careful consideration. In failing to take action in that direction the Government has missed , a golden opportunity, and this problem which seriously perturbs the people is no nearer solution. Thus, a dangerous element of political instability continues to exist in this young democratic country.
– I shall not debate the matters that have been discussed by Senator Willesee because the assurances that have been given by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) indicate that those matters have been given serious consideration over a long period by the Government. The honorable senator has apparently overlooked the fact that a referendum must be held within a stipulated period and insufficient time is available to this Parliament for that purpose. I propose to take advantage of the wide discussion that is permissible in debating supply measures to refer to something that is of great value to Australia as a whole and to Queensland in particular. About eighteen months ago, a chance remark regarding the paper industry and the production of paper sent me to the Parliamentary Library to make some research. That led me into a most interesting eighteen months of discussion and inquiry as far afield as the United States of America, Mexico, the Amazon Valley, Cuba and Jamaica in an attempt to obtain information about the subject.
Little is known in Australia about new processes for the production of paper and paper pulp that have been used in other parts of the world during the past two years. Great advances; have been made in Australia in the use of Australian timber for paper manufacture. I refer particularly to experimental work of Australian Paper Manufacturers Limited in the use of eucalypts in place of spruce and pine, the timbers that are commonly used in Canada and the United’States of America. Otherwise we have not gone far afield to look for other basic commodities that could be used in the manufacture of paper.
Before I go into that matter in detail, I shall direct the attention of honorable senators to four indisputable facts relative to the paper industry. First, there is no doubt that the demand for paper is increasing tremendously. In 1950 the world production of paper totalled 32,000,000 tons. It is anticipated that by 1960 no less than 50,000,000 tons of paper will be needed to meet the world demand. That is equal to an increase of 3.6 per cent, each year. In addition, the manufacturers of rayons, plastics and similar materials are gradually encroaching more and more upon the stocks of timber that were formerly used for the production of paper pulp. The next fact to which I wish to direct attention is that the demand is such that there will be no possibility eventually of supplying enough paper pulp made from timber. My fourth point is that during the war the supply of cultural necessaries, including text-books, school books and writing paper, was the first to suffer when stocks of paper became short. Newspapers usually drop such items as scientific articles, reviews of international affairs and similar important sections from their newspapers before they omit stories about sex. crime, murder and news of a similar nature. On two counts, therefore, the world loses from a shortage of paper.
In the United States of America and Canada. 50 per cent, of the weight of the original timber product is lost by the time it is turned into paper. In Europe, the loss is not quite so great because different timber, principally Scandinavian, is the basic product. E’/en there, not more than 70 per cent, of the original weight reaches the consumers in the finished product. Australia has done a great deal towards reafforestation, and the planting of trees by governments and free enterprise is still in progress on a large scale, but trees take a long while to reach the stage at which they can be used for the production of paper pulp. If we rely solely upon our timber for paper, it will be a case of too little too late by the time our trees are ready for cutting, because by then the demand will have grown tremendously.
Having reached that point in my inquiries, I began to look for other commodities that could be used in the place of timber. Outstanding among other basic commodities that are being used in other countries are bagasse, a residue of sugar-cane, and kenaf, a universal fibre. I have chosen those two materials for discussion because in each case, only a residue is used. The sugar is extracted first in the one case and the fibres in the second. Bagasse is available in large quantities in Queensland and is used primarily to fire the furnaces of the sugarmills. However, all bagasse is not used in that way. About 120,000 to 150,000 tons is burnt as a waste product. Ninetyseven per cent, of the mills in Queensland use bagasse for fuel. The other 3 per cent, use coal, wood or molasses.
The economic side is most interesting. A mill that produces 50,000 tons of sugar over a period will use 4,000 tons of bagasse as fuel in the furnaces. The calorific value of the material is such that only 1,400 tons of coal would be used to get the same result. If the 4,000 tons of bagasse being used now to fire furnaces to produce sugar were turned into paper, it would yield 1,680 tons of the product.
– What would be used for fuel?
– I shall deal with that matter later. The cost of paper at the present time is approximately £S5 a ton, so that the figure in my calculation would be approximately £140,000, expressed in Australian currency. If 1,400 tons of coal, at the current price of £7.000. were used in place of the fuel that had been converted into paper-
– Do not forget about the fireboxes.
– I wish that the honorable senator would not interrupt me continually when I am endeavouring to explain this matter as clearly as I can. The £7,000 worth of coal used in the furnaces would produce £140,000 worth of paper at the current rates, which are fairly stable at the present time. I realize that quite a loss would occur between that plain mathematical statement and the actual facts, but the difference between £140,000 and £7,000 is tremendous. Of course, an additional cost would be sustained by the millers if they had to alter their furnaces in order to take the coal. I know that many of them altered their furnaces in order to use bagasse, and if they were obliged to reconvert their furnaces to burn coal, the expenditure would be considerable. In addition, new machines, storage bins and other equipment would be required.
However, the difference between the expenditure of £7,000 on coal and the amount of £140,000 that would be obtained for the finished product is so great that the whole matter is well worthy of thorough investigation. If the difference were only small, I should not bother to suggest the inquiry, but the value of bagasse as paper, and as fuel, is in the proportion of 20 : 1, which is a considerable margin.
I do not propose to discuss that matter at greater length, because I also wish to deal with the related subject of kenaf fibre. Kenaf produces a long fibre similar to jute. During the past two and. a half years, experiments with the growing of kenaf have been carried out in New Guinea. At this juncture, I should like to pay a tribute to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), who has taken a. great interest in this matter. Some two years ago, approximately 150 acres on an experimental farm were planted with kenaf, and the crop which was produced yielded 300 tons of fibre. On the basis of that result, one of the big firms in New Guinea is planting 10,000 acres with kenaf near Dobadura and a large additional area will also be planted with it. Kenaf is a quick-gr owing crop, much the same as any other grass crop. The advantages of kenaf are that after retting the -fibres are used for bag-making and the like, and the residue can be used in an amalgamation with bagasse to make a fine paper.
I have received letters from a number of people in various parts of the world, and I 1earn that a new process of papermaking, known as the hydro-tropic process, is being practised in the United States of America at the present time. Such a process could be used with advantage in Queensland, because its water requirements aTe few, and there is no effluent. By that statement, I mean that the liquid solution for the manufacturing process is used over and over again, so the fact that Queensland is frequently short of water would not be a handicap to the adoption of the process. In addition, it would not matter a great deal whether the manufacturing site was on the seaboard, on a river, or inland, because there is practically no effluent to get rid of as there is in the more common form of producing paper from pulp. An article on this process was published in’ a report furnished by the United States Bureau of Standards to a sub-committee of Congress last year. The report covers some 250 pages, and much of it makes most interesting reading. I understand that the process has been covered in Australia by patents, but that fact need not worry us unduly, because I have also ascertained that the patent rights would be only about 10s. or lis. a ton, which would not add much to the cost of a commodity that costs £86 a ton.
I should like to summarize what could happen if kenaf farms could be established in Queensland. There are large areas whore the grass would grow most satisfactorily. The dry climate would be suitable. If the kenaf were grown in or near the centres of the sugargrowing districts, bagasse would be bandy to it, and the latest information that I have obtained shows that some 70 per cent, of kenaf residue amalgamated with 30 -per cent, of bagasse residue makes the best land of paper. Bagasse, by itself, produces a good bond paper or thick magazine paper, but not good newsprint. However^ the amalgamation of the two substances produces an excellent newsprint of the type that is made in the United States of America and Canada, where paper sells at £34 or £35 a ton. I have no comparable figures in respect of Australia, because paper of that type is not produced here, but I should say that in Australia it can be produced at considerably less than the current rate of £85 or £86 a ton. Until recently, the price exceeded £100 a ton. The explanation why paper made from bagasse by itself cannot be used as newsprint is that the product is too brittle. When the paper is’ run through the printing presses, it is liable to crack and break. The operators of the presses have to stick papers together with paste, and gradually, as the breaks occur, tiny nodules of glue or paste get on to the rollers. When the nodules dry, they form tiny hard heads, and the next roll of paper hits on them., and splits. As the night passes, the printing of a newspaper is delayed, and when the householder does not find it on his lawn at the usual hour in the morning, he blames his newsagent, whereas the paper itself is at fault because it has interrupted the running of the presses.
Unfortunately, time will not permit me to speak at length on this matter, so I shall summarize my views. We have the opportunity to establish two new industries, for Queensland in particular, and for Australia in general. Over the years, the production of kenaf here would relieve us of the need to purchase our jute requirements from India and Pakistan. Those two countries are the biggest exporters in the world of bag, burlap, sacking and allied products. _ I need hardly point out that India and Pakistan have a. common border with a country that has caused so much trouble in the international sphere since the end of the last war. Bagasse which is now being used in the furnaces, would be utilized, and employment would be given to coal-miners in districts where difficulty is being experienced in using the coal at the present time. In some districts in Queensland, the miners are not working full time by any means. That unfortunate condition of affairs could be improved if the coal, instead of bagasse, be used in the sugar-mills. Year by year, the expenditure of dollars on the purchase of newsprint and other kinds of paper from Canada and the United States of America would also be reduced. I see no reason why, in addition to saving valuable dollars, we should not eventually export paper pulp and thereby increase our dollar earnings.
Another point is that the establishment of the industry would assist in the population of what are so frequently referred to . as Queensland’s empty spaces. With the coming of population to those areas, all the other things that go with population such as improved roads and so on could be expected. This would be a very big undertaking. What it would cost and how il could be done I find it a little difficult to explain, but I say to the Minister and to the Government, “ Do not let us be afraid of this “. Undertakings of this kind have been established as I have said in the Amazon Valley, Jamaica, Mexico, the United States of America and Cuba. In Cuba recently 12,000,000 dollars was expended in establishing a hydrotropic mill with its own electricity and bleaching plant so that the whole process could be undertaken. Surely if a small country like Cuba, which is only about oneseventieth or one-eightieth of the size of Australia, can carry out this work, we can do something similar and so enjoy the benefits to which I have referred. As I have said, New Guinea has given us a lead by showing us how the materials can be produced. It is up to us to go ahead with the project. We have civil engineers, scientists, artisans and tradesmen comparable to any in the world. I see no reason why the proposal should not be given the fullest examination. I said at the outset of my remarks that little was known about this work in Australia. That is true. The Commonwealth Scientific: and Industrial Research Organization has been busy on other things and apparently has not been able to investigate this matter so far, but whatever government is returned to office after the forthcoming election I trust that a full investigation of the proposal will be carried out. I am confident that the industry could have a big future in Australia. If my suppositions are wrong, let the Government say so and give its reasons, hut I shall take a lot of convincing because I have spent eighteen months delving very deeply into the subject. I have been unable in the limited time available to me to-night to give full details. I have merely sought to arouse some interest in the potentialities of this industry.
– The debate on this measure gives to honorable senators an opportunity to bring to the notice of the Senate and of the people of Australia numerous misdeeds of the Government. Obviously it would not be possible for me, in the limited time at my disposal, to speak about all the Government’s misdeeds, but I shall start by referring to two matters, shipping and coal, which are of grave importance to Australia’s development. Since 1939, shipping freights have increased considerably. In that year, the general freight rate on cargo carried between Sydney and Melbourne was 21s. a ton.
Silling suspended from -545 to 8 p.m.
– The 1939 freight charge between Sydney and Melbourne, to which I referred before the sitting was suspended, was raised progressively to 133s. a ton in 1953, an increase of 533 per cent. The Menzies-Fadden Government has laid the blame for this vast increase on higher wages and the loss of working time in the industry. I should like to know what the Government has been doing during the last four years that it should ha.ve failed to take steps to prevent loss of working time. The hourly rate of wages on the waterfront in 1939 was 2s. lOd. The present rate is 8s. 10d., which represents an increase of only 210 per cent, as compared with the 533 per cent, increase of freight charges. I hope that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) will try to reconcile that disparity if he speaks during this debate. Only a few weeks ago the Government decided to reduce the stevedoring industry charge, a levy which had been imposed upon the industry in order to finance the payment of appearance money to waterside workers and the provision of amenities on the waterfront, from lid. to 6d. a man-hour. This reduction will result in the remission of tens of thousands of pounds in favour of the shipowners. I should like the Minister, to visit our ports and inspect such amenities as are provided there for waterside workers. The conditions, in fact, are shocking. No wonder the men are discontented and disputes occur at every opportunity!
One of the major grievances o£ the workers is that they are transferred periodically from State to State in order to cope with seasonal work, such as occurs in Tasmania during the apple season and in Queensland during the sugar season. No provision is made for their accommodation when they are transferred, although other industries, notably the primary industries, provide accommodation and amenities for workers who are engaged during special rush periods. I emphasize the fact that the reduction of the stevedoring industry charge will lead to the return of huge sums to the shipowners. The Government expected, I think rightly, that there would be a substantial reduction of freight charges. We all know the disadvantages under which Australian primary industries labour as a result of high shipping charges, not only on goods sent abroad but also on those sent interstate. But the shipping companies ignored almost entirely the appeal by the Prime Minister for a reduction of freight charges. They reduced their rates by ls. 6d. a ton. What benefit would Australian housewives receive from a reduction by ls. 6d. a ton of the freight charges on potatoes sent from Tasmania to the mainland? The effect of the reduction would be swallowed before the potatoes reached them. Similar remarks apply to sugar sent from Queensland to New South Wales or other States. Such a reduction is of no value to the housewives of this country.
The Prime Minister’s appeal for a reduction of freight charges has not been successful. I should like to know what action the Government proposes to take to bring about a reduction. It is well known that the Government, through the Minister for Shipping and Transport, has been hawking the Coinmonwealth shipping line for the last’1three or four years and that the only1 reason it has not been sold is that there has been a dispute about the allotment of the good ships. The Commonwealth shipping line has shown a profit of over £1,000,000 during the last two years.
– That is not true.
– What is the profit?
– The honorable senator is thinking of the loss of £2,000,000 that the line incurred under a Labour government.
– The Minister cannot gloss over the matter in that way. Is it not correct to say that the Commonwealth shipping line made a profit of over £700,000 the year before last?
– ‘It has made a profit of nearly £1,000,000 during the last two years.
– The people who advise the honorable senator have given him wrong information.
– I suggest that the Commonwealth shipping line be permitted to compete with some of the private shipping lines and to reduce its freight charges at least to the degree of the profit it has been making. Doubtless the Minister, when he replies, will tell the Senate that the profit made by the Commonwealth shipping line during the last few years is the result of the good management of the ships by this Government, but the fact is that the ships have been able to make a profit because the Chifley Government, prior to leaving office, arranged to bring to Australia the present general manager of the line, Mr. Drury. The Chifley Government recog-. nized that the Commonwealth shipping line was not getting a fair deal from those in control of it. The profit that has been made by the line is the result of action taken by the Chifley Government before leaving office. I suggest that Commonwealth ships be allocated to some of the runs on which private companies are making huge profits and are not giving the public a fair deal.
I want to deal with the enormous increase of the price of coal since the Menzies-Fadden Administration came into power. The coal barons of this country, like the shipping monopolists, provide funds for the Liberal party and the Australian Country party at election times. They have to be rewarded. That is why no pressure is being put upon shipowners to reduce freights. The coal proprietors of this country have been rewarded well for their financial assistance to the Government parties during election campaigns. In June, 1949, just before Labour left office, the price of coal at the pithead was £1 3s. 4d. a ton. In 1951, two years later, it had risen to £1 18s. 9d. a ton, an increase of 15s. 5d. By 1953, it had risen to £2 17s. 3d. a ton. During that period of four years, the price of coal at the pithead rose by £1 13s. l1d. a ton. Between 1939 and 1949, a period of Labour administration except for two years when a Liberal party-Australian Country party government was in office, the price rose by only 12s. l1d. a ton. The present high price of coal cannot be justified. The Joint Coal Board, a body established by the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government, had fixed the price on the basis of a return of 7£ per cent, on capital invested, after provision had been made for depreciation on a diminishing asset and every other charge incidental to the coal industry, and a minimum profit of 1s. a ton. In the first twelve months of office of this Government, the coal-owners approached the Joint Coal Board and asked for an increase of the price of coal. The board refused to grant the increase requested. Then the coal-owners came to the people whom their funds had helped to put into office. The Government, through the Prime Minister, instructed the board to appoint a committee to consider the price of coal. The pretext was that the price was not sufficiently high to give an incentive to produce more coal. The committee was appointed and, as a result of its findings, the huge increases of the price of coal to which I have referred were made. Some indication of this major contribution to inflation is given by the huge profits that were made by the coal-mining companies of Australia as a result of the action that the Government took to increase the price of coal. For instance, Caledonian Collieries Proprietary Limited increased its earnings by a huge amount in the first year in which the increase operated. Before continuing further on that matter, I shall read to the Senate a letter written by the chairman of the Joint Coal Board, Mr. S. F. Cochran, to Mr. E. E.Warren, the chairman of the New South “Wales Combined Colliery Proprietors Association, which will substantiate the statements that I shall mate. The letter reads -
Dear Mr. Warren,
I refer to the discussion which I had with you last week when I intimated that it was the wish of the Prime Minister that the Joint Coal Board should appoint a committee-
The Prime Minister had been approached through the Minister for National Development - to investigate the price-fixation policy of the board and to make recommendations to the board as to whether the existing policy provides sufficient incentive to the colliery proprietors to increase the output of coal-
What a pretext to give them money ! from their mines and, if not, what modifications of existing policy should be made.
They had had a nice yarn together ! it is the Prime Minister’s wish that the committee should consist of Mr. Walter D. Scott as chairman-
He not only told them to appoint a committee, but told them who would be its members, in order to make sure that there would be no mistake - a nominee of your association-
Well, he knew who that was going to be because it had already been discussed and arranged with the Prime Minister - and Mr. B. H. Nolan, the chief accountant of the Joint Coal Board.
They wanted to get the prices increased as soon as possible, and no time was lost. The result of the appointment of that committee was that Caledonian Collieries Proprietary Limited increased its earnings by more than 160 per cent, in the year ended December. 1952, which was the first year in which the increased prices operated. Is not that a major contribution to inflation? Coal is fundamental to all production in this country, and the Government’s greatest contribution to inflation was its action in regard to coal prices. As a result of its increased profits, Caledonian Collieries Proprietary Limited was able to discharge arrears of preference dividends accumulated over four years, and to transfer two-thirds of its profits to reserves. That put the company in a very nice position. It was well rewarded. That is not an isolated instance. The profits of a small mine in New South Wales rose from £1,421 in 1951 to £59,003 in 1952. This mine’s average profit had been between £5,000 and £7,000 a year. That also is not an isolated case, as I shall show.South Clifton colliery, on the south coast of New South Wales, “developed a fault and the owners werenot prepared to continue working it under those conditions. As a result, the Joint Coal Board took the mine over and the colliery’s annual earnings rose in one year from between £5,000 and £7,000 to £63,000, as a result of the increased price of coal. I could cite many more instances of the effect of the Government’s action of by-passing the Joint Coal Board and increasing prices.
Last week, I asked in this chamber a question with reference to the national health scheme, and have received an answer to it to-day. I am sorry that the Minister concerned is not in the chamber to hear my remarks on the matter. The question was -
Is it a fact that a patient has, in effect, to make four payments before he can receive any benefit from the Government health scheme, viz. : -
Is it a fact that the Government health scheme has increased indirect taxation from a minimum of £7 16s. a year to over double that amount for full coverage of a family in the medical and hospital benefits funds.
The answer was -
No special taxation is payable.
I did not say that special taxation was payable, but I do not say, and I challenge any member of the Government to deny it. truthfully, that in 1946 the social services contribution paid by a taxpayer earning £600 a year was £45 a year. That rate continued in operation till the financial year 1950-51, when the social services contribution was merged with income tax payment, and the National Welfare Fund, into which the social services contributions had formerly been paid, was merged with the Consolidated Revenue Fund. No reduction has been made in that contribution because it has merely been merged with income tax. A man in the £600 per annum group of taxpayers still pays £45 a year. I challenge the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan), the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), or any other honorable senator opposite to prove that there has been any reduction in that regard. The tax payable by a person without dependants earning £600 a year was reduced by £714s. in the 1963-54 budget. But, in order to receive full medical and hospital benefits under the national health scheme through the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia for himself and his family, the taxpayer has to pay1s. 6d. a week for medical benefits and1s. 6d. a week for hospital benefits, which is a total of £7 16s. a year. That amount is 2s. in excess of the reduction of tax granted in last year’s budget.
Some comment was made in the Senate recently on a letter allegedly sent to doctors by the Liberal party, and it was denied that such a letter was sent. I have here a copy of the letter. It emanates from the office of the president of the New South Wales division of the Liberal party, and reads -
You will recall that a few years ago your profession was faced with the danger of nationalization.
Due in no small measure to the support you gave the Liberal party, such action was delayed and the present National Health Scheme produced. This scheme is now being implemented, and it has been acclaimed, both here and overseas, as mora nearly fulfilling the requirements specified by your profession for such a service than any other such plan throughout the world. “ Specified by your profession ! “ I like that point. Some condition had been arranged between the doctors and the Government.
It has been established, but consolidation has not yet been achieved, and all members of your profession will recognize the vital necessity of keeping the present Federal Government in power in order to finally frustrate the threat to the liberty of your members.
We need your full support and in particular your financial assistance-
The financial assistance is very important, and I suppose that a similar document was sent to mine-owners, to ship-owners and to other wealthy individuals and organizations. The document continues - with which to maintain the organization to do this job.
Please respond to the best of your ability and send your cheque payable to the “ Fullerton Seammell Trust “ at the above address.
The address typed on the document is “National Building, 30 Ash-street, Sydney”, and it is dated the 12 th January, 1954. Honorable senators remember that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) recently appealed to the people to get down to earth when considering the matter of trade with the Japanese, and I have often read propaganda put forth by the Menzies-Fadden coalition about the lack of balance in our trade with Japan. The last figures to come under my notice showed that the Japanese purchased £84,000,000 worth of goods from us and we purchased only £4,600,000 worth from. them. Now, it is well known that every nation desires to have a balance of trade in its favour, and at present our balance is very favorable to us. I hope that we have all taken to heart the recent warning that we have been given about Japanese ambitions, and for our part, neither I nor the Labour party is prepared to open Australian ports to the dumping of Japanese goods manufactured under intolerable labour conditions. The Menzies-Fadden coalition has stated that we must be careful in our relations with Japan lest we lose an important market for our wool. The press seems to be very concerned about the same matter, and so do several honorable senators on the Government side, who immediately become very attentive when wool is mentioned. All those who are concerned about balancing our trade with Japan should remember that we have not balanced our trade with that country for a very long time. After Japan buys our wool it is manufactured into fabrics and piece goods under very bad labour conditions in Japan, and then sent to many countries throughout the world and sold at a huge profit to a manufacturing country. Under those circumstances I suggest that Japan is not greatly disturbed about the lack of balance in the trade between itself and Australia. It is a rather remarkable fact that very little has been published in the press and very little has been said by the supporters of this Government about trade with Japan within the last few weeks. Moreover, the representatives of Japan in Australia have stated that they are satisfied, for the time being, with the condition of trade between the two countries. It appears that the Government has come to some arrangement with Japan and that the arrangement will not be disturbed until after the coming general election.
This Government should be condemned for its handling of wheat growing and marketing in Australia. The problems associated with wheat either in Australia or outside of it have not arisen during the last twelve months. They are of long standing. In 1952-53, there was a surplus of about 1,000,000,000 bushels of wheat in the exporting countries, and at that time this Government had an opportunity, through its representatives at the conferences on the International Wheat Agreement, of arranging for a price of 17s. lOd. a bushel. That arrangement was not made, and at present wheat- is being sold under the agreement at a price as low as 13s. lOd. a bushel. This Government may attempt to excuse its actions by saying that Australia was only one country represented in the International Wheat Agreement, but I suggest that it has to take its share of the responsibility for the present low prices paid for Australian wheat. I suggest that more than 82,000,000 bushels of wheat could have been sold to the United Kingdom at 17s. lOd. a bushel, which would have reduced considerably our surplus. We cannot store very much more wheat because the Menzies-Fadden coalition has failed to supply finance to build storage facilities. The wheat industry is now forced to store surplus wheat in bags. Bags are more plentiful and cheaper than they have been for some time, but it is costly to buy bags, to make stacks and to guard those stacks against the weather and all kinds of vermin. Again the Government must accept full responsibility for that state of affairs, and I assure the Senate that in the wheat areas, of New South Wales at any rate, the farmers are very critical of the Government for its action on wheat.
Let us now consider the cures that the Government has suggested for the illness of our wheat industry. The last Labour Government appointed Mr. Cullen a3 chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, but this Government removed him and appointed in his place the gentleman who is now Sir John Teasdale. No doubt honorable senators have heard through the radio, aud read in the newspapers, hU gloomy outbursts about our wheat position. His first suggestion in connexion with the wheat surplus, which obviously came from the Government because of its fear of criticism by the people and the press, was that our wheat acreage should be reduced. Then a member of the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales, Mr. Horry Nock, suggested that all that we needed was a drought. He did not say whether it was needed in Australia, America, Argentina or somewhere else; he merely suggested that a drought would stabilize the wheat industry in Australia. Mr. Horry Nock is an ex-member of the Australian Parliament, and a keen supporter of the MenziesFadden coalition. Sir John Teasdale also complained because the United States of America had disposed of 500,000 tons of wheat to Japan at a gift price. There was some horse-trading in the matter. The wheat was to be sent to Japan and sold for domestic use in that country, and the proceeds from the sale of the wheat were to be utilized for the purchase of arms from the United States of America. There was a suggestion of further horse-trading in relation to the 200,000 tons of wheat sent to Spain. I understand that the proceeds from the sale of that wheat were to be utilized for the establishment of military bases in Spain. When we analyse the position in its entirety we find that there were 26,000,000 bushels of wheat involved in the various deals. There are now 500,000,000 bushels of wheat in the commodity credit stocks in the United States of America available for export to other countries. The Australian Government cannot claim that the carry-over of wheat in this country occurred overnight, because the position here is somewhat similar to that in the United States of America. The Government cannot escape responsibility for the tragic outlook of the Australian wheat industry to-day. I hope that the difficulties confronting the industry will soon be overcome.
.- The purpose of the measure before the chamber is to grant Supply to the Government for a period of four months. In other words, it makes provision for the ordinary services of the Commonwealth until the end of October next. Doubtless, before that time arrives, this Government will be privileged to introduce another prosperity budget. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Government on its magnificent achievement of restoring economic stability to the nation. Its administration has won the admiration of a vast majority of the people of this country. The Government has been applauded by all responsible and thinking sections of the community ; the snivelling and sniping of a few would-be disrupters of Australia’s economy counts for naught. Our courageous and clearthinking Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has put Australia back on the road to prosperity. The Opposition will soon be asking the people of Australia to return the Australian Labour party to office. However, the people remember clearly the grim days under Labour’s rule when the Evatts, Calwells, and Wards, and Labour’s policy generally, brought the nation to the very brink of economic disaster. The previous Labour Government allowed inflation to get out of control. It was responsible for value flowing out of the £1, and the development of adverse overseas trade balances. In 1951, when our imports were valued at approximately £1,000,000,000, we had available overseas only about £600,000,000 to pay for them. That was a ruinous state of affairs. When this Government -une to office in 1949 there were rationing, blackmarkets, industrial bottlenecks, and frequently recurring strikes in industry.
Many essential commodities were either in short supply or absolutely unprocurable. This Government has restored order out of the chaotic conditions left by Labour. Mr. Cosgrove, the Labour Premier of Tasmania, admitted in a recent broadcast that economic stability had been restored in industry.
This Government’s first executive action was to abolish petrol rationing. Prior to the general election of 1949, the people were told by the previous Labour Administration that Australia could not get petrol ; that it was simply not obtainable. However, since we have been in office there has been no shortage of petrol in this country, despite the fact that there are now twice as many motor vehicles on the roads. Furthermore, we now have greater reserves of petrol for defence purposes than ever before. Blackmarketing and industrial bottlenecks are practically non-existent and, due to our fair but firm approach to industrial problems, there are comparatively few strikes in industry. In the main, this satisfactory state of affairs has been brought about by the secret ballot legislation, which’ provided the genuine trade unionists with the means to control their unions. Those who would sabotage Australia’s industry have, in the majority of instances, been removed from leadership of trade unions. Had the present Government done no more than make it possible for the trade unionists to rid themselves of Communist leadership, it would have justified fully the confidence of the electors of this country.
The days of under-production of coal, building materials and steel - commodities which are so essential to industry - have ended. It will be recalled that during Labour’s regime the production of coal was insufficient to meet the demand. Many industries were working only short time, whilst some had closed down entirely. Transport was curtailed, and, due to frequent blackouts of electricity supplies, housewives were at their wits’ end to provide their families with hot meals. But what a different story to-day! There is now no shortage of coal in Australia. Steel factories have plenty of coal for the production of agricultural requirements such as galvanized iron, piping, fencing wire and wire-netting.
Australia is now in a position, to export coal, although under the Labour Government it was unable to secure sufficient coal for its own requirements because the Government was unable to keep the coal mines in operation. Bricks, tiles, cement and other building materials are no longer in short supply. They are available for the erection of homes. Shortages under Labour are being replaced by plenty under the Menzies Government. Australia is reaping the benefit of the Government’s courageous policy. Unpopular and unpalatable action had to be taken, but the Menzies Government saved Australia by taking a realistic and national view of the situation. It risked momentary unpopularity in the interests of the nation and. the beneficial effects of its action are so apparent that the Government has been fully vindicated. The Government is justly proud of its accomplishments and it will go to the people pleased to be judged on its progressive record.
Senator Ashley criticized the Government’s taxation policy. The Menzies Government has reduced taxation by £200,000,000 during the last two years, and these reductions were made possible only by the soundness of the Australian economy which was brought about by the courage and wisdom of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and his colleagues. People were asked to, and did, accept sacrifices in 1951, of which they are now reaping the benefit. The last budget provided concessions amounting to over £51j000,000 in income tax paid by individuals. The abolition of the differential rate of tax on income from property resulted in concessions amounting to £3,500,000 to those individuals concerned. Other concessions, including the extension of allowances for a spouse, for educational expenses, medical and dental expenses, relieved the taxpayers of another £8,000,000. The Government has provided that single aged persons shall not pay income tax until their taxable income reaches £375 a year, and that a married aged person shall not pay income tax until his taxable income readies £7.50 a year. These concessions nave saved these people £1,500,000. All told, the Government has reduced the amount of income tax payable by individuals by £64,000,000. Substantial reductions have been made in company tax. These also represent concessions to individuals because most companies are made up of small investors. Company tax was reduced by £29,000,000. Sales tax was slashed by £11,500,000. The reduction in pay-roll tax totalled over £5,000,000. The abolition of entertainment tax resulted in the people paying £7,000,000 less in taxation. The land tax, which the Labour party is pledged to reintroduce, was abolished the year before last. Reductions in other forms of taxation such as estate duties, excise customs and primage resulted in a saving of £1,000,000. These huge reductions were a tonic to the nation and have brought about an atmosphere of confidence and stability.
I suggest that the greatest concern and anxiety to the average Australian has been how to ensure his future security. He has been worried about what might happen to those near and dear to him should they or he fall sick. He has been worried as to how he would meet hospital, medical and dental expenses. His constant concern has been how his wife would meet ordinary household expenses during any period of sickness or enforced inactivity. The Menzies Government has removed all this anxiety. Provision has been made for the individual to help ‘himself and, at the same time, receive generous financial assistance from the Government. I congratulate the Government on the introduction of this humane legislation. The national health scheme transcends everything else in importance. The health of the community is the nation’s greatest asset and the Government has given it first priority. The most important factor in medical treatment is early examination and diagnosis, and the national health scheme, sponsored by the present Government, makes provision for this service. In 1949, the Government, with a mandate .from the people, approached this matter in a common-sense way and succeeded in obtaining -from the States, municipalities hospital manage.ments, friendly societies and dental, medical, pharmaceutical and allied professions that co-operation which was so essential to the success of the scheme. The
Prime Minister, in his policy speech of 1949, said-
We need to reduce the high cost of diagnosis and to encourage voluntary schemes of medical benefits.
That is exactly what has been achieved. The Prime Minister further stated -
We are utterly opposed to the socialist idea that medical services should become a salaried government service with all its implications, penalizing skill and experience and destroying the personal relationship between doctor and patient.
In this connexion it is interesting to note that Labour’s so-called “ Free Medicine Scheme “ was declared by the High Court of Australia to amount to industrial conscription and was declared invalid. It was an obvious attempt by the socialists to put their socialist objective into practice. Under the Government’s legislation the personal relationship between doctor and patient has been preserved. I think I can safely say that almost every one believes in insurance. Almost every one takes out an insurance policy against death or fire. How much more important is it to insure against sickness.
– What about the chronic sufferer?
– He has been provided for. The national health schemefacilitates insurance against sickness and accident. The previous Government introduced legislation to give assistance to the sick, but due to the Government’s inability to secure the co-operation of certain professions, the whole scheme was a fiasco. No doubt the previous Minister for Health did his best to make the scheme work, but he was only a layman and was unable to organize the teamwork which was so essential. For that reason, the scheme was doomed to failure from the start. Although it functioned in a small way and a few people received assistance under it, generally speaking it was not successful because of its obnoxious provisions and the inability of the Minister to organize such a vast undertaking. At that time most hospitals were financially embarrassed, whilst some were practically, bankrupt and on the verge of closing down. Under the Labour scheme it was most difficult to secure beds in public hospitals, so that thousands of people who required medical attention were denied it. The attempt of the Labour Government to provide free medicine broke down completely. Of approximately 8,000 doctors in Australia, only 155 were associated with the plan.
The Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page), in evolving the present scheme, had a very arduous and intricate task to perform. Nevertheless, he has introduced a most creditable scheme, which has received the commendation of many countries throughout the world. . It, perhaps, is not perfect, but no doubt as time goes on the defects which become apparent will be adjusted in the light of experience. It is natural, of course, for some defects to present themselves in a scheme of such magnitude. The legislation provides for the functioning of a national health scheme with a view to removing the worry and anxiety occasioned by sickness, and thus creating confidence and contentment in the community. The co-operation of the States and the insurance organizations concerned affords security to the future operations of the scheme, which is so essential to our national well being.
Every one is provided for under the scheme. For instance, children have the benefit of free milk and immunization against disease. All members of the community are protected against tuberculosis, and treatment is provided where necessary. Indeed, the present Government has set out to eradicate this scourge from the community altogether. Those who are diagnosed as suffering from the disease receive generous allowances so that they may obtain treatment either in their homes or at an institution. A mass X-ray service has been in operation for some years, with most outstanding results. Because the fear of economic loss has been removed, more cases of tuberculosis have been notified. The number of deaths due to the disease has decreased enormously. In 1930, tuberculosis accounted for 1,104 deaths out of every 10,000 deaths in Australia, but nineteen years later, in 1949, the death-rate had fallen to 128 of every 10,000 deaths. Taken on a population basis, the tuberculosis mortality rate has decreased from 25 in 100,000 in 1949 to less than 12 in 100,000.
– I rise to order. Is it in order, Mr. Acting Deputy President, for an honorable senator to read his speech, as Senator Guy is obviously doing ?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Pearson).- Order ! It does not appear to me that Senator Guy is reading his speech.
– It is rather a grim outlook when the only contribution that Senator Grant can make to the debate is an unworthy innuendo that I am reading my speech.
– I again rise to order. I submit that my previous point of order was a legitimate one and did not call for such an offensive remark from Senator Guy. There was no need for the honorable senator to make a personal attack on me. Every one knows that he is reading his speech.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! I have already indicated that, in my opinion, Senator Guy was not reading his speech, nor do I think he said anything offensive. I ask him to proceed.
– I am quoting from notes which I made myself. The wonderful improvement, in the mortality rate is mainly due to early diagnosis and treatment, and use of antibiotic drugs supplied free to every citizen in Australia under the present national health plan.
Last week and again this evening I had the doubtful pleasure of listening to a tirade of abuse from Senator Ashley. He condemned the Page health scheme out of hand, but I have made a few comparisons of the Labour scheme and the Page scheme. Only six weeks before the Labour Government went out of office it demonstrated its meanness and complete indifference to the sufferings of tuberculosis patients. When a recommendation was made that the allowances to such people should be increased from £4 ils. 6d. a week to £5 6s. a week, the Labour Treasurer, on the 3rd October, 1949, rejected the recommendation. When the Liberal party and the Australian Country party came to office a few weeks later, the allowances were increased, not to £5 6s., which the Labour
Government had refused, but to £6 10s. a week. Those allowances have been further increased by this Government to £9 2s. 6d. a week in acute cases.
This Government provides, free of charge, life-saving drugs for all who require them. The new antibiotic drugs, now available free of charge to all residents of this country, have shortened the duration of many sicknesses. For instance, the Minister for Health has told us that a person suffering from pneumonia can be out of danger in three days, instead of three weeks as was the case formerly. Indeed, with the use of the modern antibiotics, it is unnecessary for sufferers from some illnesses, including pneumonia, to enter hospital. Statistics indicate that 10 per cent, fewer patients go into hospital now than was previously the case. Although the scheme has been in operation for only a short period, there is definite evidence of the great benefits which the Commonwealth has derived from it. There is now less sickness, illnesses are of shorter duration, and the period of hospital treatment is also shorter. Consequently, more beds in public hospitals are available. Individuals have been relieved of the cost of providing life-saving drugs. In many instances a course of treatment- with such drugs, which might cost between £50 and £200, would be beyond the purse of the average citizen. The cost is now being met by the Government, so that the financial worry has been removed from the, people.
– For the first time.
– Yes, for the first time. In addition, pensioners are being well catered for under the scheme. The Government has made provision for all pensioners to receive free hospital treatment, medicine and medical treatment.
I wish to refer again to the miserly treatment which was meted out to the people by the previous Labour Government. The Labour legislation expressly excluded from entitlement to free medicine patients in public wards of hospitals. Just imagine the party which claims to represent the people and which claims to have some consideration for the poor and the needy deliberately inserting in an act of Parliament a provision that excluded them from the medical benefits to which every Australian is entitled! The Menzies Government quickly corrected that outrage when it introduced the National Health Bill 1953. Provision was made in the budget for retrospective payments to the States which amounted to £1,333,000 for the last two years in order to recoup them for the losses incurred by them as the result of the outrageous action taken by the Socialist Government.
Last year the hospital insurance contributions and the Government’s contribution enabled the payment of £3,500,000 more in hospital fees than was paid in the previous year. Naturally that payment has resulted in improved hospital finance. Many hospitals which were in a hopeless financial position now show surpluses. The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, because of its financial position, had almost reached the stage where it would have to leave unused 300 beds, but with the introduction of the Page health plan the position was improved to such an extent that availability of those beds was retained. The financial position of that institution is striking, because last year it showed a surplus for the very first time in history. Last year, the Royal Melbourne Hospital showed a deficit of £77,000; this year it has a surplus of £48,000. The same story can be told of nearly every other hospital in Australia. Better results will be obtained as time passes and people who were denied hospital beds previously will receive accommodation. Moreover, the fear of economic disaster will be dissipated. Government and insurance contributions to the beneficiaries under the Government’s hospital benefits scheme amount to £36,000,000 a year. That payment represents an amount of £4 for each member of the population. If one takes a family unit of a husband, wife and two children, the payment represents an amount of £16. A recent gallup poll demonstrated very clearly that 80 per cent, or 90 per cent, of the people of Australia favour the MenziesFaddenPage health scheme and that they do not wish it to be destroyed by the introduction of Labour’s half-baked scheme which has proved so ineffective and so unworkable in the past.
.- Senator Guy referred to two matters that were of interest to me and to other honorable senators on this side of the chamber - only two ! The bulk of the honorable senator’s speech consisted of the usual tory trash which has been inflicted upon the people of Australia and which will be inflicted upon them mercilessly during the next six or seven weeks. The honorable senator stated quite irresponsibly that he would congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) upon the present economic stability of Australia. Did any one ever hear anything so ludicrous? I fear that Senator Guy has been abroad for four and a half years. If the honorable senator has not been out of Australia, he has not been mingling with the Australian people. He certainly has not been associated with those who are conducting industries in Australia nor has he been associated with the workers of Australia. The economic stability of Australia! “What has this Government done since it assumed office in order to preserve the economic stability of Australia? One would think that the very things that it introduced to suit its own purposes were playthings in its hands, and that they were designed to destroy the industries of Australia. What has the Government done in relation to the secondary industries? It has imposed credit control and introduced import licensing to their detriment. Many important industries are conducted by public companies. I do not disparage for a moment the function of public companies in Australia; I know their relationship to the country’s economic stability and the importance of the industries in which they are engaged. But this Government refused them permission to increase their capital at a period when they required additional capital. Small industries which commenced during the final stages of the war, and immediately after the war, were refused permission to increase their capital and the Defence Preparations Act 1951 was invoked to prevent them from obtaining credit.
Now Senator Guy speaks about the economic stability of Australia! The Government has strangled many industries by the imposition of taxes and it has brought to the brink of ruination those industries which it nearly crippled by the controls that it introduced. Heavy sales tax drove some of them out of existence and nearly closed up others. Surely the honorable senator was joking when he stated that the Government had reduced, taxes. I propose to refer to the Government’s record in relation to taxation and to prove to the honorable senator quite conclusively that it has not reduced taxes but that it has an inglorious record in that respect. No other government in the history of Australia had such a record as has this Government for wringing money from the people in direct and indirect taxes. Australia’s economy lias become disintegrated. It has become so diffuse that the very factors which knit industries together and which stabilize our economy have been destroyed recklessly.
– Strangely enough Australia was never more prosperous.
– But when one examines that prosperity, he finds that there is nothing substantial in it. I invite the honorable senator to ask the housewives of Australia if they are prosperous. I invite him to ask the breadwinners of Australia, irrespective of their trade or profession, whether they are prosperous.
It is rather interesting, at this stage of the Government’s life to remind it of some of the statements that were made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in the joint policy speech of the present Government parties during the general election campaign in 1949. In an attack upon the Labour Government at that time he said -
The Government’s line of defence is that the present rates of taxation are necessary to avoid inflation. They (taxes) not only can be reduced but they must be reduced unless the extraordinary financial burden of war is to be made a permanent feature of peace, if we arc to have any progress, and incentive to produce any real national civil development. We advocate tax reduction because we believe it will be the greatest stimulant to production and therefore a powerful protection against currency inflation.
The right honorable gentleman proceeded to make further promises. Honorable senators opposite will find that on page 26 of the little booklet to which they have referred on numerous occasions in debates in this chamber he said -
We still believe that rates of taxation must be steadily reduced, as national production and income rise, and as economies are effected in administration . . . We will review the incidence of indirect taxes (which are ft huge though sometimes unrecognized item in Australia) upon basic wage and cost of living items and housing costs.
Those statements were made in the policy speech delivered by the present Prime Minister in 1949, and he repeated them in 1951. He continued -
A resolute reduction in the burdens of government and, with it, in the rates of tax, will mean reduced costs of production.
I have no doubt that when he referred to the burden of government he meant the salaries of public servants. This Government sacked 10,000 public servants, and I have no doubt that if it is returned to office on the 29th May next it will sack another 10,000, at least.
I now challenge Senator Guy’s statement that the Government, has reduced taxes. The Labour Government in its last year of office budgeted to collect £490,000,000 in direct and indirect taxes. Just a mere £490,000,0001 How the people of Australia would like to be levied only that amount during the present financial year! Labour having lost office at the end of 1949 this Government had to carry on Labour’s budget for the last six months of 1949-50. I recall that at that time Government supporters protested, “You must not forget that we are working under a Labour budget. It is not our budget. We did not prepare it “. Of course, Government supporters were then preparing the people for something good when it prepared its own budget. Let us see what it then collected from the people. Under the budget that Labour prepared in 1949-50 a total sum of £510,000,000 was collected in taxes. Then, this Government had to prepare its own budget. It had to levy its own taxes. It had to live on its own fat. But what did it do to honour its promise to reduce taxes in order to provide an incentive to people to work harder and increase production? In 1950-51, it collected in taxes the sum of £777,000,000, a sum £267,000.000 greater than that collected in 1949-50. That fact cannot be refuted. Then, in the following year, when honorable senators opposite were ready to congratulate the Prime Minister upon having reduced taxes, the Government collected in direct and indirect taxes the sum of £934,000,000, that is £424,000,000, or nearly 50 per cent, more than was collected in taxes in 1949-50. This is the Government which honorable senators opposite claim has stabilized our economy! I wonder whether Senator Guy has been living in this country during the last few years. Then, in 1952-53, the Government, having slugged the people so mercilessly in the previous year, and, consequently, having lost so many supporters, had to make amends. So, in that year it collected in taxes the sum of £896,000,000, or £3S6,000,000 more than was collected in 1949-50. And, regardless of anything that honorable senators opposite may say, the Government will collect during the current financial year at least a 3 much as it collected last year, because only a few days ago the Treasury released figures that showed that Government receipts are already up by £20,000,000.
The Government, of course, has looked after its friends and supporters. “When it, introduced its last budget, it thought kindly of wealthy shareholders in public companies and, therefore, reduced company tax for the current, financial year by £34,000,000. Many public companies, after setting aside reserves for taxes and other contingencies, were enabled, as a result of that magnanimous treatment, to increase their dividends. But what of individuals, the poor people, those engaged in industry? How have they been treated? Senator Ashley dealt with their position in detail. As he pointed out, the Government deprived them of free health, hospital and medical benefits which they had enjoyed when Labour was in office. They are now obliged to contribute to certain organizations in order to qualify for such benefits. Those contributions are. in fact, an additional tax which this Government has imposed upon the people. Are taxes at present really high? I do not ask the Senate to accept my word on this matter. The Minister for Commerce and
Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) stated publicly that taxes would probably remain high for the remainder of the lifetime of people now living. In making that statement, the Minister admitted that taxes are high. Further evidence of that fact has been provided in newspaper editorials. The Sydney .Daily Telegraph had this to say on the point -
The Federal Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) stands unchallenged as Australia’s greatest confidence man.
Laying on the charm of his budget speech he convinced almost every section of the Australian taxpayers he was about, to do something to ease their burdens.
Disillusionment came when Sir Arthur introduced the legislation which his dupes, the taxpayers, fondly hoped would implement Sir Arthur’s golden .promises.
One might be led to believe that that newspaper is controlled by the Australian Labour party and is Labour in outlook. The same observation applies to the Sydney Sun, because, dealing with the present rates of taxes, it would give the impression that it was not a tory newspaper. That journal stated -
The Menzies-Fadden Administration promised to reduce taxation. It introduced heavier taxation. In the most recent budget, taxation was cut back to last year’s level, but it is still in the aggregate more substantial than it was when the Chifley Government was in power. It slugged graziers for pre-payment of income lax so heavy that in many cases their tax commitments exceeded their income. It increased sales tax to a point that it virtually wiped out some trades.
In 1948-49, the Labour Government collected £490,000,000 from the people in taxes. In 1949-50, under a Labour budget the two Governments collected £510,000,000. In 1950-51, the LiberalCountry party Government collected £777,000,000 and in 1951-52 taxes imposed by the same government totalled £934,000,000. In 1952-53, tax collections totalled £896,000,000 and the Government proposes to collect about the same amount this year.
Senator Guy referred to indirect taxation. The Government’s record in that field is even worse than it is in the field of direct taxation. During the eight and a .half years that the Labour Government was in power, it collected £256,000,000 in sales tax. That was a period when any government was entitled to raise large sums from sales tax, because provision had to be made for war-time expenditure and for the rehabilitation period that followed the war. In the four years that this Government has been in office, it has collected £286,000,000 in sales tax, compared with £256,000,000 collected by the Labour Government in eight and a half years. The Government’s record in the field of excise and customs will hardly bear scrutiny. It has reduced the excise on whisky by £1 a gallon, but that will not be of much comfort to the workers of Australia. When they buy a packet of cigarettes or a glass of beer, more than half the purchase price goes to the Government in excise duty.
The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) claimed recently that the inflationary spiral had flattened out. I notice that workers whose wages are governed by Commonwealth awards are beginning to flatten out also. For many years they had a rotund appearance, but they are. beginning to deflate now. Their children fire flattening out also, despite the free n i ilk that the Government is pumping into them. The level of the C series index has risen by 6s. a week since the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration abandoned it. The C series index was introduced by Mr. W. M. Hughes in 1919. His policy speech at that time reveals that he introduced it to kill Bolshevism, as communism was known in those days, and to bring wages up to the level of living costs. Obviously, if the process is reversed and the Arbitration Court scraps the C series index, wages will lag behind living costs. The Government could overcome that problem to-morrow if it wished to do so, but it prefers to leave the workers whose awards are governed by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to flatten out like the spiral of inflation.
The question is whether the spiral has actually begun to flatten. Supporters of the Government claim that the Menzies £1 will go farther than it has in the past. I do not doubt that because a Menzies £1 is not in the hands of the housewives for more than a moment. It goes so quickly and travels so fast that it must go farther. I invite honorable senators to compare current prices with those that were common in 1949 before the leaders of this Government made glowing promises. On page 8 of the booklet to which I have already referred, the following statement is to be found -
In Australia, the pre-war pound - the Liberal pound, the Country Party pound - has been converted into a Socialist pound which in terms of what it will buy is, even on the “ C “ Series index, worth only 12 shillings and not 20; and in real terms has certainly fallen to 10 shillings.
Mr. Menzies said that in 1949 and repeated the statement in 1951. I cannot predict what the right honorable gentleman will say in three weeks’ time, but I can tell the people facts about the value of the £1. The prices that I shall quote are those that are current in Queensland. In 1949, a 2-lb. loaf of bread cost 7-Jd. To-day it costs ls. Tea was 2s. 9d. per lb. in 1949; now it is 3s. lid. Butter has risen from 2s. 2d. per lb. to 4s. lid.. a rise of ls. ll£d. Eggs were 2s. 9d. a dozen in 1949 and now they are 5s. a dozen, although this Government is responsible for selling Australian eggs abroad at ls. 10£d. a dozen. Even then the Australian price fluctuates up to 6s. a dozen, according to the laying capacity of the fowls. Milk was 8id. a quart in 1949. It was not necessary for the Labour Government to give free milk to the children because their parents could afford to buy it. Now it is ls. 3d. a quart, or 6Jd. more than it was in 1949. Meat is disappearing from the tables of many Australian families. In 1949 a rib roast of beef was 9$d. per lb. Now the cheapest cut is 2s. per lb. and half of it is gristle. Bump steak cost ls. 9 1/2d per lb. in 1949. Now it is 3s. 3d. per lb. That is how value has been poured into the £1. The basic wage in 1949 was £6 9s. a week in Queensland. To-day it is £11 5s. That is the grim history of taxation and currency values under the Menzies-Fadden Government.
I have told the Senate how this Government has driven the taxation juggernaut recklessly throughout Australia, and has wrung money out of industry and the people, but I have not yet made reference to the capacity of this Government to spend money. The record of this Government in respect of the collection of taxes is equalled only by its ability to spend money recklessly and foolishly. I shall tell the Senate about the actions of a former Minister for Territories. He was a member of the original Menzies Ministry which was appointed at the end of 1949, but after he received his portfolio, he proceeded to visit the territories. I suppose that he had a look over the Australian Capital Territory, and went to the Northern Territory and Papua and New Guinea. While he was in New Guinea, a resident pointed out to him that the Territory did not have a high school to which children could be sent for their secondary education, and the Minister agreed, rightly, to provide one.
The Minister returned to Australia, and arranged for the establishment of a high school at Wau, in New Guinea. Any body who has been to New Guinea knows that Wau has a beautiful climate. What did the Minister do? He immediately ordered crockery for the high school from a manufacturing firm in New Zealand, known as Crown Lynn. On every fishplate, “bread-and-butter plate, soup-plate, meat-plate, and dish were inscribed the words “Wau High School”. All the crockery duly arrived at Lae, and the officers looked round for the high school. To-day, a visitor to New Guinea finds that beautiful crockery in hospitals, camps, and anywhere along the route. If the visitor shows a New Guinea native one of those pieces of crockery and asks him what the words “ Wau High School “ mean, the Fuzzy- Fuzzy, whose people befriended Australian soldiers during the last war, and have not yet been provided with fly-proof hospitals and morgues, will laugh so much that he will roll on the ground. If the visitor persists, the native will tell him that the white man is the real boong for the simple reason that there is no school at Wau, and in fact no high school in Papua or New Guinea. A member of the MenziesFadden Government had sent real crockery, pui-chased with real Australian money, to a ghost school.
– How does the honorable senator know this ?
– I have the facts, and can produce the evidence. If time permitted, I could tell the Senate a thousand and one things about the manner in which this Government has wasted money.
In the few minutes left at my disposal, I shall correct a statement by Senator Kendall about the growing of kenaf in New Guinea. Evidently, the honorable senator does not know all the facts, so I shall tell the real story. I have in my hand a newspaper article entitled “ Neglect in New Guinea Fibre Development “, which was published in a Brisbane newspaper on the 5th March last. It reads as follows : -
World expert on the new woolpack fibre, Kenaf, Mr. J. Dempsey, yesterday accused the administration and agricultural officers of neglect which has cost Australian taxpayers thousands of pounds.
That means the Government. When all is said and done, the Minister is the administrator. He is the administrator of his department. He is responsible for the actions of his officers. The people of Australia look to the Minister. ‘They do not look to the officers. The article continues -
The administration brought Mr. Dempsey from the United States of America two years ago to advise on the establishment of kenaf fibre . . . ten miles from Port Moresby He then gave advice on the seeding of new crop, and returned to the territory last month to inspect progress. The administration paid the fare of both trips, and a substantial fee for his assistance. (Kenaf is being used to replace jute in the manufacture of sacking.)
In the statement released yesterday Mr. Dempsey said that, from his inspection this trip, “It is almost as though agricultural officers did not want kenaf established in the Territory. Department officials ignored vital advice I offered, and I found that some progress, which had been reported to me during two years’ absence, has not been made .at all. I recommended the department plant .crops at Oro Bay for seeding tests. This lias not been done, and no excuse is offered. I also recommended that officers plant out seed beds in other experimental locations, but .this also has not been done. As a result, the department was forced to order 7,000 seed from Cuba at a cost of £3,000 to replace the seed which they had stored. I left stores of valuable kenaf seed with officers two years ago, expecting to see wider varieties through experimental plantings. I now find that, not only are there no new varieties -but that a)lso .those I left have been ruined “.
The amounts of £10,000 and £3,000 are small sums to this Government, hut the people of Australia, who need homes, know that additional money would have been available for bousing bad the Government shown more judgment and exercised greater thrift. Unfortunately, the Government has engaged in much reckless expenditure.
– As I represent the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) in this chamber, I desire to take advantage of this debate to reply to the vicious attack made by Senator Ashley on the Government’s health scheme. That attack, in many respects at least, was incorrect, and showed that Senator Ashley had no conception of the Government’s health scheme. He may have deliberately intended to misrepresent what has been done in the past four years. I shall briefly allude to a few of the inaccuracies in his statement. He said that no provision was made for persons who suffer from chronic illnesses. That is not so. It is a half-truth. It is correct that the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited and other friendly societies may not accept persons who aresuffering from chronic illnesses-
– The societies will not accept them.
– I said that the societies may not accept them. But those persons, whether or not a society accepts them, are entitled to the free life-saving drugs which are provided by this Government. Those drugs are used extensively in the treatment of chronic cases and are immediately available. Such cases, if they are accepted, are subject to a waiting time for medical treatment.
– A waiting time of two years.
– The honorable senator is wrong again; but I point out that he said, in his speech, that chronic cases were not accepted. The fact is that they are accepted. As soon as they are accepted, the subsidy payable by the Government is available - to them. So Senator Ashley is completely wrong. On the honorable senator’s own admission, such persons are accepted by the societies, and immediately they are accepted they are entitled to the full government subsidy. Senator Ashley also said that the Government’s health scheme was brought into operation for the benefit of doctors.
He said that fees for consultations had risen from 10s. 6d. to 15s. That is perfectly true. Fees have risen; they commenced to rise before the Government’s Medical Benefits Scheme was introduced. But the cost of every commodity in Australia has risen, and wages have risen considerably. Senator Ashley said that a member of an organization received a minimum contribution of 6s. towards his medical expenses. That is true, but many organizations pay more than that. For instance, the medical benefits society to which the honorable senator referred pays 7s. -6d. towards the doctor’s fee. The Government pays a further 6s., making a total of 13s. 6d. Senator Ashley made another wild statement. He said that a person without dependants paid a hospital benefits contribution of ls. 6d. a week and a medical benefits contribution of another ls. 6d. a week. Later in his speech he contradicted himself entirely and said that 6s. a week was the minimum charge imposed by a fund. That is not so.
– I rise to order. I did not say that 6s. was the minimum. The honorable senator is misquoting me, and I ask that his statement be withdrawn. I said- that 3s. a week was the minimum.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Reid). - Order! If the honorable senator considers that he has been misrepresented he will have an opportunity later to make a personal explanation. I ask him to permit the Minister to continue with his speech without interruption.
– I have quoted the exact words from the Hansard proof, so if the honorable senator claims that he did not say that, his quarrel is with Hansard and not with me. The plain fact is that a person under 21 years of age pays a minimum hospital benefit contribution of 3d. a week. For females of all ages the cost is 3d. a week and for adult males 6d. a week.
– I was referring to full benefits. The Minister is referring to partial benefits.
– The honorable senator said “minimum benefit”. Once again his quarrel is with Hansard. The medical benefits contribution for all categories is 9d. a week. The total hospital benefit and medical benefit contribution for all females and for males under 21 years of age is1s. a week, and for adult males1s. 3d. The minimum family rate for hospital benefits is 6d. a week and for medical benefits1s. 6d. a week, making a total of 2s. a week. I am well aware that higher benefits may be obtained from higher contributions.
Senator Ashley said that friendly societies which had been operating for more than 100 years were being squeezed out of existence by other organizations. I have before me a list of organizations registered for both medical and hospital benefits in New South Wales. It includes the following: -
Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows.
Australasian Holy Catholic Guild of St. Mary and St. Joseph.
Protestant Alliance Friendly Society of Australasia.
Grand United Order of Oddfellows Friendly Society of N.S.W.
United Ancient Order of Druids.
Independent Order of Oddfellows.
Newcastle and Suburban Co-operative Society Ltd.
Amalgamated Employees’ Unions Medical Fund.
Mechanics’ Medical Assurance Scheme.
B.H.P. Steelworks (Employees’ and Staff) Hospital and Medical Benefits Fund.
I can give Senator Ashley the full list if he wants it. All the organizations that I have mentioned function in the State of which the honorable senator is a representative in this chamber.
– Is their membership increasing or decreasing?
– In many instances it is increasing. I could give the figures for quite a number of organizations. The approved hospital organizations total 131 whilst the medical benefits organizations number 79. Senator Ashley attacked the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited. He said that the expenses of that organization amounted to 30 per cent, of the benefits paid out. I have the balance-sheet of the fund with me to-night. If the honorable senator had any knowledge of accountancy he would know that it is quite unsound accounting to. calculate administrative expenses as a percentage of benefits paid. The amount paid out each year in benefits fluctuates. The correct method is to take administrative costs as a percentage of total contributions. If he does that he will find that administrative charges total just over 12½ per cent.
– Total contributions are not a constant figure either.
– That is so, but contributions represent the total that has to be paid out. Moneys that are not paid out go into an appropriation account and are held for the payment of benefits in the future. Surely the honorable senator would not suggest that an organization of this kind should not have reserve funds to meet an emergency such as an epidemic. His figures were entirely misleading. I assume that he was not aware of that. If he was aware of it, his position is much worse because then he was being deliberately misleading. Before the Government will approve of any organization, an agreement must be signed in which the organization undertakes to limit its expenses to 15 per cent. or less of contributions received, together with an allowance of 7s. 6d. for each new member who joins the society. A condition of registration of a medical benefits organization is that contributions shall not be used for any purpose other than the payment of benefits or administrative expenses. The administrative expenses of the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited totalled £52,377.
– Did that include advertising ?
– It included everything - audit, depreciation, office equipment, motor vehicles, insurances, income and pay-roll tax, postage and stamp duty, printing and stationery, salaries, collecting commissions, sundry expenses, bank charges, superannuation, staff welfare, telephone charges, hospital contribution charges, and so forth. The total amount received by contributions was £401,693. Thus, administrative costs represented slightly over 12½ per cent. of the amount of contributions. I have dealt with only a few of the misrepresentations by Senator Ashley. There were many other misstatements in his attack, but I shall not deal with all of them because I wish to explain exactly what the Liberal partyAustralian Country party health scheme has done for the people and to compare it with the scheme that was instituted by the former Labour Government. The people will be able to judge which is the better plan. At the outset, I point out that the official budget statement for 1953-54 shows that the Government this year will provide for health services a total of £31,213,000, which is five times as much as the Chifley Labour Government allocated in 1948-49, its last full year of office, when it provided for the same purpose a total of £6,185,562.
The first part of the health programme introduced by this Government was that which deals with tuberculosis. The Government acted quickly to put this aspect of its plan into operation. Ministers were sworn in on the 19th December, 1949. On the following day, the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) ordered a submission on tuberculosis allowances to be prepared for Cabinet consideration.
– Had not a tuberculosis allowance scheme been prepared by Senator MeKenna. when he was Minister for Health?
– By the 17th January, 1950, the submission was ready, nml, by the 7th February, it had been approved by Cabinet. By the 20th March all State governments had signified their readiness to implement the Commonwealth tuberculosis allowance plan. By July, payment of generous allowances for acute infectious tuberculous cases had begun. The rate of allowance has since been increased to £9 2s. 6d. a week. This scheme brought under treatment over 3,000 cases of concealed tuberculosis, and thousands of cases have been cured so that the victims have been able to return to work. The progress of the scheme is indicated by its effect on the death rate from tuberculosis, which dropped from 25 in 100,000 cases in 1939 to twelve in 100,000 cases in 1952. The rate in Western Australia last year was only 8.5 in 100,000 cases. Tuberculous patients have been much more effectively segregated than was the case previously owing to the fact that 1,068 extra beds in hospitals throughout Australia, have been provided for tuberculous patients. At present, 1,440 more beds are in process of being provided. Many hospital beds that were used for staff are now available as a result of the provision of nurses’ quarters since repairs to hospitals have been made possible under the Government’s scheme. Altogether, £6,000,000 a year is being expended on all phases of the campaign to eradicate tuberculosis. Elimination of this disease seems to be possible with the combination of the plan that I have described and that for the free provision of powerful new specific drugs.
I shall compare this record with that of the Labour Government. As Senator Tangney interjected earlier, the Labour Government did start a tuberculosis scheme, but that plan cannot compare favorably in any way with the plan that this Government has operated for the past four years. The Labour party assumed office in 1941, but it did not produce its legislation to provide for co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States in the treatment of tuberculosis until 1948, seven years later. By December, 1949, fifteen months later, the Labour Government had induced only four State governments to ratify the agreement for the payment of a tuberculosis allowance. No financial provision had been made for the allowance because of some difference of view between the Treasurer of the clay, Mr. Chifley, and the Minister for Health, Senator MeKenna. Thus, nothing effective was done for victims of tuberculosis during that period.
I come now to the subject of the medical service for pensioners. This is another instance in which quick and generous action was taken by the present Government. It had its plan for the provision of medical treatment and medicine for pensioners working within fourteen months of its accession to office. In order to ensure that pensioners should receive the best of treatment, the Government inaugurated, in February, 1951, a plan for the free medical treatment of pensioners. In May of the same year, it extended the service so that every pensioner could obtain medicine free of charge upon the production of a doctor’s certificate. This, service has undoubtedly proved to be a great boon to pensioners, and 560,000 of them and their dependants, representing 96 per cent, of the pensioner population, have enrolled under the scheme. About 4,000 doctors have agreed to attend pensioners at rates of payment by the Commonwealth of 9s. for each surgery consultation and lis. for each visit to home or hospital. Since the commencement of the scheme, S,000,000 medical services have been rendered to pensioners. Prescriptions written for pensioners since free medicine has been available to them total 6,500,000. This plan to enable pensioners to be treated either in their homes or in doctors’ surgeries has led to a marked diminution of the number of pensioners who need to go into hospitals or to attend out-patients departments and suffer the consequent discomfort of long travel and the hardship to which such people were formerly subjected. During the period of eight years for which it held office, the Labour Government did nothing to provide for the free treatment of pensioners.
– The Minister was a member of the advisory committee that the Labour Government established. “Why did he not do something about it?
– Had the Labour Government adopted the recommendations of that committee, pensioners would have been provided -with free medical treatment. The committee was an all-party body, but the Labour party was in power. The next action taken by the LiberalCountry party Government was to establish a plan to provide children with free milk. This was inaugurated in December, 1950, a year after the Government had taken office. Free : milk is now provided for all children under the age of thirteen years who attend schools, kindergartens, and creches. Each child receives onethird of a pint of milk daily, and at least 750,000 children benefit from the service under an arrangement that has been made with State Departments of Education. Again, I point out that the Labour Government did nothing along these lines during the period of eight years for which it held office.
The provision of free life-saving drugs has been another notable feature of the present Government’s health scheme. In August, 1950, within nine months of its accession to office, this great boon to the people of Australia was instituted. Lifesaving and disease-preventing drugs are now made available free of charge, without any means test, to every resident of Australia upon the production of a doctor’s prescription. In that connexion, Labour’s record is in sharp contrast with ours. Labour could never induce more than 150 doctors to prescribe from its very limited formulary.
– I rise to order. Has the Minister obtained permission to read his speech to the Senate?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Reid). - I rule that the Minister is quite in order. He is not reading his speech to a greater degree than I have seen other honorable senators read their speeches. If Senator Ashley wants me to enforce the Standing Orders strictly in every case I shall do so.
– ‘This is a very important matter, and I desire to give accurate figures to the Senate. I am referring to notes that I have made of the relevant figures. Under this Government’s scheme for the provision of free life-saving drugs, all the 10,000 doctors in Australia are prescribing the. drugs. During the last three years, apart from prescriptions for medicines for pensioners, over 21,000,000 prescriptions have been issued at a cost of approximately £8,000,000 a year. The drugs are provided free to all patients, including those in public wards of hospitals. There is no restriction on the prescription forms that doctors may use. The operation of the scheme has reduced the number of persons suffering from acute infectious diseases, saved thousands of lives and shortened the stay in hospital of thousands of patients. In addition, millions of extra working hours have been made available for industry generally. “While Labour was in office, the number of prescriptions issued under the limited formulary then in force did not exceed 400,000 in any one year. Patients were saved only £150,000 a year, compared with £8,000,000 at the present time. For some inexplicable reason, patients occupying beds in public wards in hospitals were expressly deprived of the benefit of free drugs, by the provisions of section 7 (1.) of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act sponsored by the Chifley Government. That act also prevented doctors from prescribing drugs on the free list except. on government prescription forms. The High Court held that that interdict imposed civil conscription and declared the provision to be invalid.
Let me contrast the hospital benefits scheme of this Liberal-Australian Country party Government with that of the previous Labour Government. Under the policy of this Government, hospital revenues are increasing. Many hospitals have balanced their ledgers for the first time for many years. The great majority of the people have taken out hospital insurance. That is shown by the fact that S5 out of every 100 patients treated in the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital during 1953 were insured with a hospital benefits organization. The best proof of the superiority of the Liberal-Australian Country party scheme is that- the Cahill Government in New South “Wales jettisoned the Labour party scheme six months before it was due to expire, so that it could take advantage of our scheme. That action provides a complete answer to the election propaganda of the Labour party in this connexion. In 1953, hospital revenues in New South Wales were £3,000,000 greater than in the previous year. In the first year of operation throughout Australia of the hospital insurance scheme of this Government, the increase of hospital revenues, derived from Commonwealth aid and patients’ fees, including the additional hospital benefit and the insurance organization benefit, exceeded £3,500,000. Many hospitals that formerly were practically bankrupt are now showing surpluses. This improvement of hospital incomes is making funds available for building programmes and improvements of accommodation and equipment that were thought impossible a few years ago.
It is true that the Chifley Government brought in a hospital benefits scheme, but it is not true, as the Labour party pretends, that under that scheme patients were treated free of charge in public wards of hospitals throughout Australia. The fact is that, under Labour’s cheeseparing scheme, when every hospital bed in Australia cost £3 a day, the Commonwealth made a contribution of 6s. a day, and later of 8s. a day, in substitution for what the States were collecting. Whilst free treatment was given to the lucky inpatients without a means test, although they might have been the richest people in Australia, Labour imposed a means test on out-patients and took £2 2s. a week from pensioners as a contribution to their upkeep in institutions. It insisted that hospital patients who were insured under workers’ compensation legislation should pay full fees. In addition, express permission was given to charge fees in respect of beds in public wards of public hospitals. In many instances, free beds were made paying beds simply by putting screens round them. The effect of the legislation of the Labour party was to put every hospital in Australia into the “ red “.
– I rise to order. I point out, Mr. President, that the Minister is reading his speech. I should have no objection to that course if he had obtained the permission of the Senate to do so. I raised a similar point of order while you were absent from the chamber.
– I do not know what happened while I was out of the chamber. Honorable senators have been allowed considerable latitude in this matter. I suggest to the Minister that he refer to his notes only when he needs to do so. I do not think he has done anything to which objection could properly be taken.
– I want to be accurate in my reply to Senator Ashley’s attack. There is a very sharp distinction between the medical benefits scheme of this Government and that which was introduced by the Labour party. Our scheme, though a system of voluntary insurance, provides 70 per cent, to 90 per cent, of patients’ fees. The organization of the scheme was, owing to the complexities of medical practice, a timeconsuming and exacting task. It was introduced in July. 1953. About 80 non-profit-making health organizations oi insurance organizations, covering , all States of the Commonwealth were registered for participation in the scheme. The benefits available relate to all the services rendered by medical practitioners, and vary according to the fees customarily charged by the medical profession. People are free to choose the organization to which they want to subscribe. They can contribute for benefits equal to the minimum benefits prescribed by the Government or for benefits that exceed them. The scheme has met with widespread support. The membership of approved organizations is rising rapidly. In reply to a request by Senator Sheehan, I now inform him that Commonwealth expenditure indicated that in the first six months or so of the scheme, benefits were paid out in respect of 1,300,000 medical services. The medical and hospital insurance benefits provided for in the scheme are unique in being universal in their application. The Liberal-Country party Government-
Opposition senators interjecting,
– Order! I ash the Minister to confine his remarks to the matter before the- Senate, and not to read such a lengthy statement.
– I was going to say that the Liberal-Country party Government has secured the co-operation of the State governments, the doctors, the hospitals, the voluntary organizations, and also the sick. No costly government administration was established. The Government deals entirely with these organizations, which include friendly societies and other societies throughout the Commonwealth. That fact has been one of the main causes of the success of the scheme. Those societies have given full co-operation to the Government, just as they have received full co-operation from it. I should like to compare this scheme, as I compared the other schemes, with that of the Labour Government. The Labour Government was in office for eight years. An offer was made by it in 1949 to pay for a strictly limited schedule of medical rates. Doctors were to be forced to administer the scheme without compensation. Labour’s scheme is best exemplified by that aspect of it. The effect of this Government’s legislation, right through, has been that the Government has been able to put its scheme completely into operation. The Labour Government’s scheme would not work, and never came into operation. That is the answer to the attack made by Senator Ashley on the Government’s national health scheme, which was put into operation by the Minister for Health. The people have shown, by the manner in which they have supported the scheme, the confidence that . they have in this Government. I believe that they will retain that confidence, and will show it by returning the Menzies Government to office on the 29th May.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) misquoted me in his statement, and the Acting President told me that I should have an Opportunity, when the Minister had finished his speech, to correct the misstatement. I shall be perfectly satisfied if the Minister, who said that he quoted my remarks from Hansard, will read from Hansard the statement that I actually made.
– All of it?
– Yes. I shall read it myself. The Hansard report of my remarks is as follows : -
However, the pooling of those funds did not produce any reduction in taxation. The rate of taxation in respect of social services remain unaltered. At that time a taxpayer without dependants who earned £000 a year made a contribution of £45 a year for social services. Under the last budget, the taxation imposed on this group was reduced from £51 13s. to £43 10s., or a reduction of £7 ]4s.
– I rise to order. If these remarks are, as stated, remarks that have already been made by Senator Ashley, I claim that they constitute tedious repetition now.
– Order ! There is no point of order. Is Senator Ashley about to finish his quotation ?
– Yes, I am about to finish it. It concludes -
If such a taxpayer desires to be covered for full hospital and medical benefits he must contribute ls. fid. a week to a hospital benefit fund and an additional ls. 6d. a week to a medical benefits fund, making a total of 3s. a -week, or £7 Mis. a year, which is more than the amount of the taxation reduction under the 1053-54 budget, about which the supporters of the Government are constantly babbling.
– In to-night’s debate we have experienced a departure from the usual methods by which the Senate business is conducted. Government senators who have risen to follow speakers on this side of the. chamber have persistently read from a file of prepared Liberal-Australian Country party propaganda. Some of them read from the file with better effect than did others, but the most extraordinary example we have had of a speech made from that file is that of the speech just concluded by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper). He even ended his speech with an appeal to the electors to vote for a Liberal-Australian Country party government on the 29th May.
– Very sound advice.
– Nevertheless, I wish to impress on the Senate that what has been said here to-night by honorable senators opposite has been read from a file of Liberal-Australian Country party propaganda. However, that matter apart, let us analyse the claims made by the Minister for Repatriation. I agree with him that the Government has expended a tremendous amount of public money on its national health service. The Minister gave the figure as £31,250,000. Doctors have benefited immensely from the scheme. Private hospital fees have risen to unfair heights. The cost of public hospitalization was a fair rate, when the Chifley Government was in office and the economy of the country was reasonable, but during the last two and a half years of inflation the cost has risen to a rate that is absolutely outside the ability of the average person to pay. Whilst the Government has paid dearly for obtaining the co-operation pf the doctors in its scheme, and whilst it has spent a tremendous amount of money on some foolheaded aspects of the scheme, the actual result in treatment to the sick has been negligible. Any wage-earner, jio matter in what income group, who becomes ill, and has to have medical treatment and hospitalization for a reasonable period, finds, on his discharge from hospital, that he owes more than he would have owed had there been no hospitalization scheme and hospital and medical charges had remained at 1949 levels. I have received submissions from many people who have found themselves absolutely crippled financially after a spell in hospital under the present Page-Menzies scheme. I shall give the
Senate a classic example, of which I have full information because it concerns my wife. She suffered an injury as a result of an accident and was taken to the Royal Perth Hospital for treatment, which she received immediately. Her wrist, which had sustained a small greenstick fracture, was X-rayed. She was at the hospital from before noon until 3 p.m., and was told to report on the following Monday. The hospital charges were 60s., plus X-ray fees. On arrival at the hospital on Monday she was informed that she would have to attend her private doctor. Under the Chifley Government’s scheme the cost to my wife for the services which cost her 60s. under the present Government’s scheme would have been 12s.
Senator Henty interjecting,
– I have the accounts for that payment, and I do not wish the honorable senator to argue about it.
Another disagreeable feature of this matter is that a taxpayer is compelled to join an association or fund in order to become eligible to receive medical and hospital benefits.
– A hospital benefit of Ss. a day is payable in respect of a patient who is not a member of a fund.
– I shall not argue the point across the chamber. There are files in existence which prove that the Government’s schemes have been responsible in numerous instances for causing dire hardship to the average working people. The people are unable to cope with the inflationary conditions .that have been caused by the present Government. Let. us consider the disabilities from which the people of this country .are suffering as a. result of economic inflation. I shall read to the Senate from the twentieth report of the’ Commonwealth Grants Commission published last year. At page 14, the report states -
In view of those increases it is obvious that the Government’s claims to have checked inflation are untrue; It is unfair for the supporters of the Government to assert that they have done a fair and reasonable thing by the workers of this country. Furthermore, there has been a definite interference with the basic wage by the pegging of that wage and the discontinuance of quarterly adjustments.
– In what way has the Government interfered in that matter?
– The Government has continuously opposed any rise of margins, and it has been prepared to allow the workers to be deprived of increases to offset the price rises in the C series index. On the 15th October, 1953, during the consideration of the Appropriation Bill 1953-54, I pointed out that the Government had failed to deal with applications by Public Service organizations. I had raised that matter twice previously unsuccessfully. I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) the reason for the delay in dealing with the applications, and he stated -
The following are some of the claims that arc outstanding and in each case I shall give the date when the claim was lodged: -
Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks Union - three claims were lodged on the 10th December, 1951, for marginal increases.
Those claims had not been determined when the last budget was introduced.
– “With whom were the claims lodged?
– They were lodged with the Public Service Arbitrator. Those claims have still not been settled. Although . Government senators have engaged in propaganda to-night, they have not referred to this unjust attitude of a government instrumentality towards public servants. The Minister continued -
The Commonwealth Meat Inspectors Association - Lodged on the 27th December, 1951.
That claim was for improved conditions to enable them to cope with inflation. This Government has not seen fit to take action to ensure that its servants were justly treated. He went on -
Professional Officers Association - Lodged on the 10th June, 1952, and held over by mutual consent.
Although honorable senators opposite continue to assert that the Government has not deprived the workers of improvements in conditions to which they are entitled, this is the way that it has treated its own servants. At the same time, private industry has advanced in many respects, mostly by private treaty. In many instances, arbitration has been ignored. The Minister continued - .
Amalgamated Engineering Union Draughtsmen at Lithgow - Lodged on the 19th February, 1952.
That application has not yet been determined.
– With whom was it lodged ?
– It was lodged with the prescribed Government instrumentality. As recently as three months ago a claim for an interim increase of £1 a week was made. Although that application has been ignored, the Minister has not even had the courtesy to say that the increase would “not be granted.
– Would Labour interfere with the Conciliation and Arbitration Court if it were in office?
– We would not interfere with the court, but the decent thing for the Government to do is to intervene in the public interest when applications are lodged by its servants with its own instrumentality. The Minister’s statement continued - ,
Commonwealth Telephone and Phonogram Officers Association - Lodged on the 22nd February, 1952.
They are in a similar position. This Government cannot justify its refusal to obtain industrial justice for its employees. In fact, the only people that it does protect are the privileged persons who pay to keep it in a position of power in this Parliament. In view of the Government’s refusal to intervene in’ cases of injustice, all that has been said to-night about the Government’s concern to study the best interests of the people has been completely hypocritical. The Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia lodged a claim for industrial justice on the 27th March, 1952, but its members are still working under the conditions that they have condemned as unjust and out of date.
Surely that indicates that this Government is taking advantage of its position to prevent workers with just complaints from getting what they are entitled to.
– The honorable senator is not attacking the Government, he is attacking the arbitration system.
– The cases that I arn mentioning concern Commonwealth employees. Apparently this Government believes that the people will continue to suffer injustice and work under heavy handicaps for the whole time that it holds office.
– The cases that the honorable senator has mentioned were lodged before the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator. Therefore, the honorable senator is objecting to the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator and not the Government.
– The Minister for Repatriation said that these delays are not the fault of the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator, so your statement is not accurate.
– Order! If the honorable senator would address his remarks to the Chair he would have fewer interjections.
– I hope that I shall. The Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association has had claims before the appropriate industrial tribunal since the 10th September, 1952. The Transport Workers Union of Australia also lodged applications on that date that have not’ yet been determined. All such cases indicate that the Government is speaking hypocritically when it says to the people, “ Everything is well, we have never been more prosperous, the Government is fair and just “. The members of the Government known full well that their own servants have been treated shamefully and miserably. This Government is constantly prating about the preservation of our arbitration system, but it knows that nothing is more likely to damage that system than the fact that people have to wait for very long periods before they get the opportunity to have their claims heard by a tribunal. The propaganda read to-night, from Liberal-Country party documents by Senator Guy and the Minister for Repatriation, will not be accepted by the Australian people, particularly those who have had the unfortunate experience of having to work in Commonwealth departments and instrumentalities where government influence can stop them’ from obtaining justice. Moreover, I say advisably that the Government has so stopped them.
Another phase of this Government’s administration has been most damaging to the people of Australia, particularly to their family life. That is its attitude towards the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, and the activities of State housing bodies. The Government has shown by its actions that it is opposed to proper government housing schemes in this country. That is, of course, because such schemes are against its policy. It would not be so objectionable if the Government said outright that it was not interested in housing projects, but it constantly tells the people that one of- its main objects is to increase the number of houses available to the people.
– This Government built more houses last year than th Labour Government built in all the years of its administration.
– The honorable senator has never built a house in his life, and the Government has built very few. We have heard continuously from the members of the Government that they desire to encourage home ownership, yet the Government has refused to meet State Ministers for Housing in order to arrive at an agreement to allow people to buy government houses on an economic deposit, the remainder of the price, both capital and interest, ‘to be paid as rent. It is well known that all the States have made requests for such a conference, but the Government has refused to convene it. In that connexion I refer honorable senators to Hansard of the 22nd October, 1953, where it is reported that the Minister for National Development said -
The Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement - it has many virtues - is that, in conjunction with rent control and landlord and tenant legislation, it has driven private investment out of the house building field with the result that Governments are now the only builders of houses for rental purposes throughout the Commonwealth. The work is being done with funds that are being provided by the Australian Government, but it is not a good proposition, economically or socially.
Consequently, it is quite plain that the Government wants to hand the housing of the people back to speculative builders and private landlords, who will extract the maximum possible amount of money from the unfortunate potential home buyers or tenants. The Minister continued -
Unlimited provision of advances at low rates of interest is preventing private builders from competing.
We have heard much from many honorable senators on the Government side about the cost of house construction. We know that the vast majority’ of people in Australia cannot afford to pay the inflated prices demanded at present, but on the 22nd October, 1953, the Minister objected to government housing schemes because they would not allow investors to exploit the misery of homeless people. He refused to allow money to be provided at low rates of interest for government housing schemes. Therefore, the people cannot rely on this Government to do anything to help them mitigate the inflated housing costs that have been brought about by the Government itself.
This Government has adopted a miserable attitude towards our pensioners. Its pension increases have been parsimonious and paltry. Some of the younger Liberals and junior chambers of commerce, and other organizations, have collected old clothing and food for pensioners, and they deserve credit for their actions. However, the pensioners should not be in a position where they need accept that type of assistance, because the.. Government should give them the reasonable living standard to which they are entitled, by providing them with a pension that is a reasonable proportion of the basic wage. The rate of child endowment which has remained unchanged for an inflationary period of two and half years should be adjusted. The Government has been thoroughly neglectful in this respect. It has given children a third of a pint of milk a day at school if they want it but has cheated the parents of 50 per cent. of their entitlement by failing to make a reasonable adjustment of child endowment. This is Liberal-Australian Country party policy as applied in administration - not as announced by honorable senators opposite. I urge that instead of giving children a third of a pint of milk a day the Government should give their parents the full amount of endowment to which they are entitled and pay them a proper basic wage increase in accordance with the cost of living assessed by the Commonwealth Statistician. The Government should also do all it can to ensure that a proper margin for skill is paid to tradesmen whose wages in relation to margins have been pegged for years. The people will not then want free milk for their children. They will themselves then be able to feed their children adequately. Our economy can stand a just basic wage and a fair adjustment of margins. Their implementation requires only a govern- me nt that is prepared to give the people the best that the economy can afford.
Debate (on motion by Senator Seward) adjourned.
Motion (by SenatorO’Sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 2.30 p.m.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Broadcasting Act - Twenty-first Annual Report and Financial Statements of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, for year 1952-53.
Colombo Plan - Report by the Minister for External Affairs.
National Fitness Act - Report for 1952.
Nauru - Report to General Assembly of the United Nations on the Administration of Nauru, for year 1952-53.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Defence Production - A. A. Shevtzoff.
Supply- W. J. F. Somerville, G. B. Wheaton.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Canberra University College - Report for 1953.
Services Trust Funds Act - Australian Military Forces Relief Trust Fund - Sixth Annual Report, for year 1952-53.
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act - Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority - Fourth Annual Report, for year 1952-53.
Sugar - International Agreement for the Regulation of the Production and Marketing of Sugar, signed at London, October, 1953, together with Statement by the Minister for Trade and Customs.
Senate adjourned at 10.53 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 April 1954, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1954/19540412_senate_20_s3/>.