22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I have received a letter from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan) nominating Senators McCallum, Vincent and Wood to be members of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory.
– I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Thirtieth Report. - Epitome of reports of the First Committee and the relevant Treasury minutes; together with minutes of evidence in connexion with the first to ninth, eleventh, twelfth, fourteenth and fifteenth reports.
Therelevant reports have been tabled. This report and epitome represent a summary of the recommendations made by the committee to the Treasury. They are produced for the information of honorable senators.
Ordered that the report only be printed.
Debate resumed from 27th March (vide page 237), on motion by Senator Hannan -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -
May it Please Your Excellency -
We. the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Upon which Senator McKenna had moved by way of amendment -
That the following paragraphs be added to the Address-in-Reply, viz.: -
The Government is censured for the statement of housing policy announced by the Prime Minister on 7th March last and for the acute social ills caused by its continued failure to establish, in conjunction with the States, a national housing plan.
This failure has been largely caused by the provision of inadequate finance for home-building for-
war service homes;
co-operative building societies;
Australians seeking to build their own. homes.
The national plan should have regard to - .
immediate reduction of migrant intake;
employment of the maximum work force in the home-building industry;
availability of materials.
It should provide for-
priority to home-building over less essential private investment;
provision of sufficient finance to promote home-ownership at low rates of interest.”.
And upon the following amendment by Senator Cole to Senator McKenna’s proposed amendment -
That paragraph 4 of the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “ (a) immediate reduction of migrant intake; “ and inserting in lieu thereof the following words: - “ (a) the establishment of a Commonwealth-State Housing Authority to coordinate its activities with the various State housing bodies; “.
– Last night, when the debate was adjourned, I was directing the attention of honorable senators to the change of attitude on the part of honorable senators opposite to the question of housing. I was dealing particularly with that section of the Opposition consisting of persons who call themselves democratic socialists. I was reminding the Senate also of the rise of socialism in Germany which produced Hitler, of horrible memory. I do not need to remind honorable senators what is going on in Russia and its satellite countries to-day. 1 should like to read one or two extracts about the rise of socialism in Germany and which led to the great tragedy of war in which many of our finest Australian citizens lost their lives. Honorable senators may think that the first excerpt that I shall read is rather humorous. It is. Socialism has its humorous aspects, but it also leads to very serious consequences when taken to its logical conclusion. My first quotation is entitled “ The New Life “, and it is as follows: -
The appeal to the self-shavers has had a tremendous response. These wicked people who, for years, out of sheer meanness, did the barbers out of their badly needed pennies, have now come to their senses again, have made a pile of their safety razors and burnt them, and are now queueing up in long rows outside the barbers’ shops. The pennies are rolling in and the barbers are flourishing once more.
Barbers’ shops, of course, belong to the State. The extract continues -
What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The public baths are now seeing their chance. Why should the majority of the law-abiding citizens bath at home instead of using the publicbaths specially built for that purpose? So the home-bathers repent, sell their baths and tubs to the chemical industry, and as a result the vicinities of the public baths are now black, with people trying to file in.
The Restaurant proprietors are also coming forward. They have bitter complaints about those families who are still secretly cooking at home instead of coming to the restaurants, which were specially created for the purpose of feeding the people. This cheap competition will have to be stopped. The home cookers realize that. So the kitchen hearth is sealed up and from now on the whole family, including grandma and the baby, take their seats at long restaurant tables and help to revive trade.
But why stop at this? Aren’t the majority of the people still sleeping at home at night while the beds at the Hotels remain empty? This will have to be changed as well. So the home-sleepers forswear their own beds, do their duty, and crowd the hotels out.
As a matter of fact we all repent. The selfshavers merely gave the lead, the others all follow “P.
It is humorous, but I should now like to refer to the more serious side to show how strangely it is allied with the principles that the democratic socialists are trying to put over to the Australian public to-day. I quote -
We demand the abolition of the thraldom of interest. We demand the creation of a national bank for granting non-interest bearing loans. Finance shall exist for the benefit of the State.
We must take practical measures in currency reform.
We must have nationalization of finance and control of the credit.
Our socialism …. is a hard-earned struggle for victory over oneself and as a result thereof absolute subordination which is permanent and ultimately becomes an enthusiasm and matter of course of duty.
And please note this -
We cannot have socialism without the nationalization of the banks, the key industries, the electric supplies, the supplies of raw materials, as well as the export trade.
Let me read to honorable senators a report in a Sydney newspaper on 25th March of an interview with the president of the Australian Labour party, in which he gave the left-wing policy for Australia. Mr.
Chamberlain said that federal Labour politicians had orders to reconstruct the Australian Labour party as a DemocraticSocialist party, dedicated to nationalization of banking and major industries. He went on to say that there were certain things that would be enforced, one of them being solid support for their leader. The second thing, which is very serious, is no active opposition to Communists in the industrial field. That newspaper report states -
Silling politicians who do not subscribe to the democratic socialist policies expounded at Brisbane will be replaced when pre-selection ballots for the 1958 Federal elections are held.
So, there is the threat. Of course, that threat has been in existence for some time, as is revealed in a newspaper entitled “ The Worker “, which speaks for the workers of Australia. I am sorry that Senator Armstrong is not here. There is nothing personal in what I am saying. I wish to praise him as a very astute businessman; but let me tell him how amazed I am to think that such an astute businessman could remain a member of a party that has been threatening him for some time because of his astuteness in business. When I heard him speaking so pleadingly and pathetically in support of the censure motion and about the poor people who are without houses, I wondered how he could possibly remain in a party that intended to deal with him and his possessions and, apparently, started to deal with him in 1955. This newspaper lists Senator Armstrong’s business ventures. Good luck to him if he can become the richest man in the Senate, but 1 do not understand the attitude of persons who call themselves socialists and yet have their pockets well lined, as this article reveals. Surely the Australian public will not be misled in view of the signs of the times and of what is happening in Russia and the satellite countries to-day. As I said last night, Russia and Germany both embarked on socialistic schemes. Germany ended in fascism and Russia in communism as we see it to-day, with all its attendant horrors. Alexander Kerensky, who headed the one short-lived democratic government that Russia has had in a very long history of despotism, believes to-day that the liberation of the people of Russia from communist dictatorship is quite inevitable because, he says, there is a new temper in the Russian young people who have grown up with a desire for freedom in economic, social and political life. Kerensky says that the desire for a decent life is bound up with a need for freedom and that there is a dislocation of unity inside the totalitarian bloc of Russian satellites. We have learned that fact from the revolution which took place so recently in Hungary.
The Opposition will have great difficulty in explaining to the Australian public just where the form of socialism which it now espouses will lead, but the more discerning members of their party, the decent unionists, of whom we have many thousands in Australia, will be more inclined to turn to the enlightened arm of the Australian Labour party which is so ably represented in the Senate by Senators Cole and McManus, whose platform is, in essence, “ No truck with Communists or communism “. That there is a revolution right throughout Labour circles because of the conduct of the party for so many years, is evident in many places. I have here an extract from the “ West Australian “ of 24th December, 1956, which relates to a born socialist, who says, “ I am no longer a socialist”. He is Mr. F. W. French, Secretary of the Brickyard and Pottery Workers Union, and a supporter of the Western Australian Labour Government until a week before Christmas, when 40 members of his union were sacked out of hand. He said -
Being born in a keen Labour atmosphere and always subscribing to Labour’s tenets it was natural that I would be a supporter of the party’s policy of socialization. That was something which in my ignorance I thought could bring about a real democratic way of life. I am now no longer a socialist, and here is the reason -
Having been in close contact with one of the State’s socialized industries - the State brickworks - my eyes have been opened to the fact that socialization is a failure and cannot compete with private enterprise. From the management of the State brickworks 40 men have just received notice that their services will not be required after Christmas.
One of these workers, the father of six children, has made his home close to the works. Another has had five years’ continuous service. All are first-class workers and solid Labour supporters.
The reason given for these dismissals is that the brickworks has 1,500,000 second-class bricks in stack and these the builders refuse to purchase at the price asked; consequently the yard would have to close down. Why these second-class bricks have accumulated has not been stated.
But private companies have no bricks in stack and large waiting lists.
This spells muddling by the State brickworks which has brought frustration to 40 workers.
On the eve of Christmas it is a double tragedy for these men.
This brickworks is a socialized section of industry driven into the ground. The brickmakers know this. They point out that private yards would not have allowed this quantity of secondclass bricks to have gone through; for long before any appreciable quantity had been observed, the management would have been on the tracks of the men turning out this rubbish.
It seems that it’s a case of “ Who cares? “
In the name of these dismissed men and the members of this union we ask for an inquiry with the following questions to be answered: -
Why is the Byford yard full of second-class bricks when the majority of the workers are first-class brickmakers?
Why did the State brickworks lose the market for cream bricks?
Why did the Labour Government sack 40 men on the eve of Christmas?
I put it to you Mr. Hawke: What is the answer? Our section of Labour suggests that it’s up to you. Full employment should be Labour’s No. 1 priority.
Mr. C. R. New, president of the Brick Manufacturers Association of Western Australia, also questioned what the Government had done to the men in the brickworks. I have been told that Mr. French has been dealt with by his party - whatever that means. Mr. New made this statement, which was published on 27th December last -
Mr. W. French, who courageously exposed the badly organized State brickworks, is highly respected throughout the brick industry by manufacturers and workers alike, and it was his loyalty to the unionists he represents that prompted his vigorous efforts on behalf of the 40 men sacked from the State Works on the eve of Christmas. Mr. French’s denunciation of socialism is very timely when we find thousands of people overseas being slaughtered under socialistic communistic systems. Don’t let us be fooled by socialistic propaganda. The only sure way to a high living standard is through conscientious work by all.
The implication in those quotations is very serious. They should make the Australian people reflect upon what is happening in their midst. 1 turn from this somewhat nauseating subject and invite members of the Opposition to explain to us at some time, and in detail, their form oi democratic socialism, because reports I have read show that it could end only in fascism or communism. 1 believe it is a matter for congratulations that the Seato conference, a meeting of foreign ministers, was held in Canberra. Special consideration was given at those talks to co-operation on the common problems of defence, social welfare and economics.
The Government should be congratulated, also, upon the part it played in supporting the Olympic Games that were held in Melbourne. We are proud of the success of the games and of the expert organization associated with them. There was an absence of friction, and fine sportsmanship was shown not only by the competitors, but also by the public. The games were a memorable occasion, and put Australia on the map. I congratulate Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes upon the well deserved honour that has been bestowed upon him by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second for his part in organizing the Olympic Games. Many matters are referred to in His Excellency’s Speech, but as my time is gradually running out, I cannot comment upon all of them. However, I should like to congratulate the Government upon its continued success in connexion with industrial relations, its enlargement of the social services, its successful immigration policy and its extremely valuable service in connexion with the scientific exploration of the Antarctic where we have had the almost perfect experience of a great number of nations bending their talents to the task of scientific and exploratory investigation without any hitch or friction whatever.
I think Senator McManus praised the research work being done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. That organization is deserving of every praise. Its work in connexion with water conservation has been of especial value to the State of Western Australia, and I am sorry that the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) is not in the chamber at the moment for I should like to remind him that we are waiting rather impatiently in Western Australia for the launching of a second Snowy River scheme on the Ord River in the north-west of that State. One matter of vital interest to Western Australia would be the commencement of work on the railway system between Perth and Kalgoorlie and, further afield, if possible. If that work were started by the Commonwealth Government it would relieve the unemployment position of our unskilled workers. I ask this Government to give serious consideration to the commencement of that work.
In conclusion, I should like to quote a statement by John Foster Dulles which seems to me to express the hope that is surely in the hearts of every one of us who are trying to mould the destinies of this country. It reads -
There are some signs that the Soviet rulers are, in terms of domestic policy, bending to some of the human desires of their people. There are promises of food, more household goods, more economic fredom. This does not prove that the dictators have themselves been converted. It is rather that they may be dimly perceiving that there are limits to their power indefinitely to suppress the human spirit.
That is a truth which should not be lost sight of as we determine our own policies. Our national purpose is not merely to survive in a world fraught with appalling danger. We want to end this era of danger. We shall not achieve that result merely by developing a vast military establishment. That serves indispensably to defend us and to deter attack. But the sword of Damocles remains suspended. The way to end the peril peacefully is to demonstrate that freedom produces not merely guns but the spiritual, intellectual and material richness that all men want.
I suggest that is the hope in the hearts of all honorable senators. We all hope that we shall continue to experience, in this wonderful Commonwealth of Australia, that freedom of thought and purpose which alone will make a country great. I support the motion.
– I listened attentively to Senator Robertson. 1 really had no intention of speaking at all, but I am fed up with the constant talk about communism that we have heard here for the last eight or nine years. I thought the honorable senator opposite, surely, would not be talking about that any more.
– Some people take a long time to educate.
– Like Senator Hannaford. He is judging people by his own standards. It is obvious why we hear so much about communism. When this Government was returned to power in 1949, there was no ambiguity about what it proposed to do. It was going to put value back into the £1.
– It is about time the honorable senator said “ Oh! “. The people are saying, “ Oh! “ I have waited in vain to see this done. I think the basic wage was £6-odd in 1949; it is now somewhere about £13. Every hour of every day the intelligent people, those who support the Labour party, are saying that this sort of thing cannot continue. You, Mr. President, and most other people, will probably remember that, irrespective of the State we lived in, people were heard asking everywhere, “ How long will this era of rising prices last “ ? When the Commonwealth abandoned prices control, the prices of commodities seemed to rise every few minutes. Instead of doing something practical, this Government has been jumping from bag to bag, like a grocer’s cat. The way in which it has jumped from housing to railway gauges, and then to airlines or something else, reminds me of the following lines in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Mikado”: -
A wandering Minstrel I-
A thing of shreds and patches,
Of ballads, songs and snatches.
And dreamy lullaby!
This jumping from one subject to another has gone on for years. One does not need to be an economist like Adam Smith to know that the value of money has gone down and down. Our lady friend, Senator Robertson, who has just concluded her speech, has very little idea of what socialism means. In order to see the extent to which value has gone out of the Australian £1, one has only to ask- a money-changer in Singapore to change an Australian £1 note. A friend of mine, who knows a great deal about this subject, and with whom I discuss economic matters regularly - I saw him last Sunday week - told me that, when the Chifley Government was in office, if an English £1 note were offered to a Singapore money-changer, he would say, “ Take it away; I want only Australian £1 notes “. Now, when an Australian note is tendered, the money-changer says, “ Take it back to Mr. Qantas. I don’t want it “. Whether or not the Government admits the fact, a great deal of value has gone out of the Australian currency. Whenever Senator Cole or Senator McManus gets up to speak, every tory is in his place to say “ Hear, hear! “ at appropriate times. If ever a tory interjects “ Hear, hear! “ when I am speaking, I shall go down to the basement and commune with myself to see what is wrong with me.
– Hear, hear!
– Will you go down to the basement now?
– I am surprised at Senator Cole interjecting because, although he was formerly a schoolteacher, he cannot distinguish a noun from an adverb, and he knows very little about economics. All I want to say is this: It is not by chance that the Communist bogy is raised. The housing situation to-day is indefensible. According to a leading article in yesterday’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “, it has reached such a stage that something has to be done about it. It is admitted that this newspaper is not consistent, but nevertheless every other day it comments on the housing position. Although the cost of building a house today is very high, before long that cost will be three times as great because of inflation, and the time will arrive when, instead of a person owning a house, the house will own him. Senator Robertson referred to the Olympic Games. It is well to remind her of the original estimate of cost of the buildings and furnishings needed for the games. When Mr. Cain first submitted the proposal in Victoria it was obvious what would happen. Every day there was a strike; everybody wanted more money. Why? Because the prices of commodities were going up and the workers could hardly live. When one compares the original estimate for the erection of the Olympic buildings with what they eventually cost, one gains some criterion of the value of money in this country.
Some people in Australia have the idea that the Labour party has some connexion with the Communist party.
– Not yet, but it is on its way.
– The opinion of the honorable senator, with all due deference to her, is not worth bothering about. I am quite sure she does not know what communism is. This is another bogy; it is the chief bogy. The Communist party in the English-speaking world to-day does not amount to anything. It is only in Australia that a few fanatics are using it to serve their own ends. In Great Britain and in Scotland there are Communists. Moffatt was one of them in Scotland; but after the butchery in Hungary he said, “ No, we’ are retiring, we cannot defend it any longer; it is indefensible”.
The Labour parly has won every byelection held recently in England. The Communist bogy does not cut any ice over there. The people are fed up with the continual talk about reducing costs while everything the Government does has the effect of putting costs up. There are no groupers in Norway, and the Communist party is not strong there, lt is ridiculous to suggest that the groupers have fought the Communists. If I were to ask Senator Cole what the Communist Manifesto was, he could not tell me who wrote it.
– Senator Grant.
– I know who wrote a lot of the things that Senator Cole has been saying. Anything I wrote would certainly bc too highbrow for Senator Cole.
Let us consider the Communist party in England or rather Great Britain; I. suppose my brother Scots will be annoyed if I refer to Great Britain as England. At every election, the Communists lose their deposits. Why? Senator Robertson said that socialism was wrecking the world. The socialists are not in control now. As a Christian - I believe the honorable senator is a Christian - she might have been expected to say something about the atomic bomb wrecking the world. The Labour party in Great Britain is a socialist party. It is the only party thai has a plank. The contradictions of the capitalist party are so great as to be indefensible. For instance, the Liberal party here is trying to get houses for the people; but the repercussions are such that when they patch up one place a crack appears in another place. That sort of thing has gone on and on. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has made a mess of everything with which he has been connected, including the Suez Canal affair; and I hope to have something to say about that next week.
– He has made a mess of the Opposition.
– I do not know about the Opposition, but he has made a mess of the Government and a mess of picking his leaders, too. One of them, Sir Eric Harrison - honorable senators opposite talk about wreckers - has suggested that we should have two empires, a black one and a white one. He did not say which one Pandit Nehru should be in; but thinks he should be in the dark one. It is a disgrace to Australia to have one of its chief representatives talking in that way. In Canada there are no Communists as far as I know, and Canada has no groupers either. The groupers are making Communists. If anybody goes to a Communist meeting, he will find hardly any one attending it.
– Does anybody attend the honorable senator’s meetings?
– The honorable senator is listening to me now. He cannot have it both ways.
– It is a lot of bunkum.
– Does the honorable senator know what “ bunkum “ is? I , should like to inform him how the word “ bunkum “ was coined.
– The honorable senator has told us before.
– It is necessary for me to tell the honorable senator both before and behind in order to make him understand. The word “ bunkum “ is more correctly spelled “ Buncombe “. A congressman of the United States represented a town called Buncombe. One day he was talking at inordinate length, and the President at last said to him, “ I wish you would address yourself to the House “. The congressman replied, “ I am not addressing the House, I am addressing Buncombe “. Perhaps I am addressing Buncombe, too.
The Government is incapable of coping with the present housing situation because it has no plan. Honorable senators on the Government side have said, over and over again, that the Labour party has been responsible for the present situation. This Government has been in office for nine years but it has as much idea of how to deal with housing as has the man in the moon. None of its public works is finished. I am told that the Snowy Mountains project cannot be completed because materials cannot be obtained. That is the story about all sorts of projects, and the stage has been reached that everybody is afraid. There is not one person in Australia who is not afraid of the future. I think I am in order in illustrating my point from the circumstances of honorable senators. We are all paying into a pension fund. Many people think that when we retire we will receive a pension for nothing. By the time we get it. it will not be worth having, and all honorable senators know that. Do Government senators blame the Labour party for that? Of course they do not.
Some honorable senators have talked about things spiritual. The other day the world had an example of it. The king of Saudi Arabia came to the United States of America, but the mayor of New York refused to receive him. However, President Eisenhower, a gentleman who constantly professes his belief in Christianity, received him and had long talks with him. This visiting monarch is one of the wealthiest men in the world. He is receiving about £50,000 a day. He is also the head of the white slave traffic of the world. We do not hear much about that side of these world figures.
However, reverting to the housing situation, this Government has no scheme for solving the problem, and it does not know what to do. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) used to give radio talks to men twice a week. I suppose he was afraid to talk to the women. At that time, Australia was having a difficult time, economically, and the Prime Minister constantly said to the men, “ Wait another six months “. His counsel was always, “ Wait, wait, wait”. His attitude was the same during the Suez Canal crisis. He assured the public that everything was right, but everything turned out to be wrong. He has a counterpart in the person of the peripatetic Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Macmillan). Within recent weeks he attended a conference with President Eisenhower at Bermuda, and he is said to be very pleased with the results. He has been flitting about from one part of the British Empire to another, and is doing much more harm than good. He has fallen out with the Foreign Secretary of Canada. Mr. Lester Pearson. I have not met Mr. Pearson, but I consider that he is a fine fellow. I have read many of his articles. Mr. Macmillan disagreed also with Mr. Nehru, and with his own former leader, who is at present in New Zealand.
This sort of thing has gone on for years, and we are supposed to tell our constituents that everything is all right. If the present state of affairs continues, the unfortunate people - not only the pensioners but also the unemployed - who are waiting for a few pounds from the Government to enable them to buy food and pay rent, will have to be exterminated because they cannot possibly continue living under present housing conditions. Government senators strongly support the immigration scheme, and want more and more migrants. According to their idea, the only way to cut down the cost of living is to bring in more immigrants. Honorable senators on the Government side claim that immigrants have built many homes, but 1 do not believe that. I suggest that those honorable senators should travel around some of the big cities and see for themselves what the housing situation is like. Have any of them been to the slums of Sydney or Melbourne and seen houses in which five, six, eight and ten people have to sleep on the floor in one room? Yet they say that the housing position is all right. That is a lie. Why do they not admit it? The Government has made a mess of housing.
How can a young man with a wife and two children live in anything like decent conditions to-day? It is easy enough for ‘ a large family, of whom five or six or seven are all single and are each earning £20 or more a week. They are on the pig’s back, but the man who is supposed to be the basis of our society, the young fellow who gets married and has children to support, has never been so badly off since I came to Australia - and that was not yesterday. When I came to Australia, many years ago, a worker could occasionally afford to buy fruit - peaches, bananas or grapes. Let the ordinary worker try to get them to-day and see how he fares. The man on the basic wage or near it, even a tradesman, if he has a wife and one or two children, is worse off than ever I can remember. I ask honorable senators to examine the prices of necessary commodities and see what proportion the cost of living bears to the wages of the average worker, and compare the result with the’ position 30 or 35 years ago.
Honorable senators on the Govern. mentside spend their time talking about the bogys of communism and industrial groupers; they will not face the facts. Earlier this week Senator Maher said that Mr. Fraser, a member of the Liberal party .in New South Wales) who had made a statement about housing, was an interested party. The implication was that Mr. Fraser was not interested in the welfare of the country at all. but was only saying the things he did about housing because he happened to bc a builder. I think that was a contemptible thing for Senator Maher to suggest. Senator Maher would not have liked any one to say that he was interested in causing inflation, yet the graziers did more to cause inflation than all the rest of the people put together. When the price of wool went up and up they bought their Fords and Jaguars. Money was no object. In Sydney, Prince’s restaurant was filled every night with wealthy men and women, and everything was dazzling from dark till dawn. The ladies had mink coats for the afternoon and sables when the night became colder. The other day, in another place, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) said what I had previously said, that the graziers had so much money that they did not know what to do with it. They came into the share market and bought the most profitable shares, irrespective of what the effect would be on the community generally. The result has been a shortage of goods that the people most need. Yesterday, Government senators emphasized the need for investors to put their money into housing. Why should they do’ so when they can invest in other directions and obtain a return of 10 per cent, or 8 per cent, for two years or 6 per cent, for five years? Why should they sacrifice their money by investing it in housing?
The only hope of improving the housing situation is to. have either another depression or a war. lt is obvious that the Government is heading- the country towards a depression. The day before yesterday a friend of mine, who is a highly skilled engineer, decided that, because his present job was a long way . from his home, he would apply for a position nearer at hand with one of the biggest engineering firms in Australia. He found’ that seventeen other engineers had applied for the same position. The housing problem cannot be solved without a plan. As soon as this Government took office it wrecked the economy of the country. It did more in twelve months to ruin it than the Chifley Government had done to build it up during the eight or nine years it was in office. You, Mr. Acting Deputy President, know as well as I do .what happened. I have very little racial, prejudice. T wish I had none, but I suppose I am not sufficiently evolved to say that I have none. However, I have less than the average.
– The honorable senator has more than anybody else.
– There is a second generation Scotsman who is more patriotic than the Scotsmen themselves. I know Scotsmen are very good when they have it, but they rarely have it. I know what our friend is getting at. I think he said that I should be proud. Let me tell him that nationality is the curse of the world. He is a Christian, I suppose and, like our lady friend over there, believes in the brotherhood of man. So long as people believe that this country or any other country is the best in the world simply because they were born in it, there will be no hope for the human race. Does the honorable senator know what Dr. Johnson said to Boswell?
– I suppose he would know. His knowledge of Boswell is better than his knowledge of history. I cannot put him in the same class as Senator Cole. Boswell said to Dr. Johnson, “ You always seem to be criticizing the Scots “. Johnson said, “Yes”. Boswell said, “Why?” Johnson said, “When I meet a Scotsman to whom an Englishman is as a Scotsman, that Scotsman shall be as an Englishman to ‘rae “. I know our friend is a second generation Scot; he wears a tartan tie. But like a lot of other Scotsmen, he probably says, “ Oh why did I leave my hame? Why did I cross the deep? “ I will tell the honorable senator why they left Scotland. They did so not because of communism or socialism, but because of capitalism and imperialism. However, the Scotsmen did not make the same noise about it as the Irish. I did not know what the Labour party was when I was a boy, but every Tuesday and Friday I saw trains packed with people. I suppose Mr. Roberton would know about this, but I do not think Mr. Menzies would let him tell it. Mr. Menzies is a second generation Scot who was doing all right as a Scot, but ever since he said he was a colonial he has been a “ bum “ - politically, I mean. I was about to say that every Tuesday and Friday I saw trains packed to the brim with people who were coming from all over the highlands of Scotland to the capital to embark for overseas.
– Tell us something about the Governor-General’s Speech.
– I will fit it in. I am replying to our friend who said that socialism and communism were responsible for the situation in which we find ourselves. It is a good thing that this sort of thing has happened, otherwise our friends on the other side of the chamber would have remained stupid. Every Tuesday and Friday when those people were leaving, the father and the mother would have tears running down their cheeks and the old father would say to the old mother, “ Come on, dear “. She would then sit in the train, the train would leave, and they would wave to their friends. The following week the same thing happened again. It went on for years and years. Those people went to Canada and through the Straits of Magellan to other countries. They were forced out by landlordism; they went across the seas and begged their brothers of the earth to give them leave to toil.
– Some of them did toil when they came here.
– And some of them became stupid, like the honorable senator. The same kind of thing will happen in this country. If our friend wants to know something about Australia, I will tell him. Unemployment is now advancing very nicely - from certain viewpoints. Given the same conditions, there is no difference between Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, or anywhere else. People say it can’t happen here. I do not think they know anything about their own country. Down at the Lady Macquarie steps at the end of the Sydney Domain 1 have seen hundreds of people sleeping out at night. No doubt you, Mr. Acting Deputy President, know something about it, because the same kind of thing has happened in Brisbane. It will happen again, because the Government has no policy whatever. As far as it is concerned, everything in the garden is lovely. Things have gone on and on and on. This gentleman is the vainest politician since Mussolini. He poses all the time, with eyebrows and everything else done up like a television star.
Senator McCallum interjecting,
– The honorable senator cannot take it.
– I can take anything.
– Whom was I speaking about?
– The honorable senator’s abuse does not worry me.
– I did not abuse anybody. I did not mention any names. Seemingly the cap fits.
– The honorable senator drew his own portrait.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood). - Order! I ask Government senators to refrain from interjecting and to remain silent while Senator Grant is speaking.
– I do not mind a bit. The Prime Minister’s cadence is all right. Honorable senators opposite seem to think that simply because he speaks in a very nice way he is the greatest orator that the world has ever seen. I have heard a few of them. I have heard some of the champions rousing the so-called mob. Of course, the “ mob “ is not the Liberal party; it is we of the Labour following. Our friends on the other side are the genteel people. Moreover, I have read the speeches of some of the classical orators. The speeches of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) are only built up. He speaks for an hour, but for 55 minutes of that time he says nothing about the subject under discussion.
For month after month and year after year we have heard about putting value into the £1, but every minute since the Prime Minister assumed office value has gone out of the £1. If that is not so, let our friends opposite rise and contradict me. Let them tell the Leader of the Opposition how value has gone into the £1. Having been born in Aberdeen, I would know more about value than Government supporters.
– Hear, hear! for Aberdeen.
– But it is not here. I, like a lot more, left it.
– It is not all there, either.
– But there is something like it here - the granite on the top of the honorable senator’s shoulders.
Senator Robertson interjecting,
– Let me remind our lady friend that the world is in the worst state it has ever been in. Every intelligent person is terrified, and everybody admits that if war were to break out and bombs were to drop, that would be the end of civilization. The good lady thinks she is living in the time of Sir Walter Scott’s “ Marmion “. The Leader of the Government seems to think the same.
Senator Ashley, on every occasion he has had an opportunity, has spoken about existing conditions and about people who want homes. But we come here time after time and hear the same old story - that everything in the garden is lovely. Every Government supporter knows in his heart that that is not so, and that the present state of affairs cannot continue. He says to himself, right down in his own little heart, “ Where is it going to stop? “ I have studied economics quite a lot, but I do not know where it is going to stop. The situation is becoming worse. I know the things that have real value. The value of houses has gone up, but the value of money has gone down. Where will those unfortunate people who are now buying houses find themselves if there is a slump? I agree with the Prime Minister in regard to one thing - that to pour money into houses irrespective of the balance of materials and labour would be sheer nonsense. But why did he not say that nine or ten years ago? Why did he not say that when he lifted all the controls? A child would have known that when the soldiers came back from the war with pockets full of money they would want to spend it. It was known that, with all these people coming from Europe, there would be surplus money and that it would be spent. All sorts of luxury industries were started. The immigrants did not enter the building industry. They would go to a labourer who was working in the building industry and ask him how much a week he was getting. He would say he was getting £7, as it was then, and they would say. “ Come and work for us and we will give you £10; we are selling shoes from Czechoslovakia “, or “We are making fancy earrings “. These labourers then started to stick pieces of wax on ear-rings; and they were taken from essential work. The Australian Labour party knew that it must have some controls. That benign, wise gentleman, the late Ben Chifley, knew what would happen if these groupers got into the Australian Labour party. I am sorry that Senator McManus is not here. I have some time for him, because he was elected on the platform that he supports, whereas his colleague was elected on the Australian Labour party’s platform. Senator McManus, the other day, quoted remarks made by Mr. Chifley. He should read the last address made by Mr. Chifley at a conference of the Australian Labour party. Senator Ashley and other honorable senators were present. Mr. Chifley said, “ If this goes on, the Australian Labour party will be strangled “. Why do Government supporters back these gentlemen? If Government supporters have a party of their own, why do they need these people? Why do they not stand on their works, if they have any works? Why do they not stand on their record, if they have any record?
Going down the street we see a tenstory building. It belongs to an insurance company. Farther down the street are luxury flats, and shops belonging to great furriers. This sort of thing has gone on all over the place; and the Government thinks it can solve our problems. Government supporters have been pushing this, that, and the other, without knowing why. Unless they get down to bedrock and plan a course of action, they will be finished, but they do not believe in planning. What would be thought of a general who went into battle without a plan? But they are engaged in the biggest battle the world has known; they are trying to reconcile the contradictions of capitalism. If the housing position deteriorates any further, persons will not be able to pay rents. What is happening in England? There is strike after strike. Does the Government think that those workers are less patriotic than we are? Does it think that the patriotic Englishman wants Britain to lose control of the Suez Canal? Does it think that he goes on strike because he likes to do so? Does it think he has any less love for his wife and children than we have for ours? Why does he go on strike? He goes on strike because the cost of living is almost higher than it is here. It is rising all the time and the workers cannot possibly live. The same thing is happening here.
If the Australian Labour party gets into office after this Government goes out, it will have a colossal task. If everything. were thrown into the melting pot now, and we depended on the law of supply and demand which Government supporters talk so much about, what would happen? The small fellow would have to go right to the wall. Some persons would be paying £3 a week for a house, and others perhaps £6 a week for an exactly similar house. How could that be reconciled? The fellow who pays £6 a week would say, “ I want my wages increased “. Rents would rise, wages would rise, and strikes would continue. It is all very well for Senator Robertson to talk about Communists; they have nothing to do with it. They have never influenced me in the way I have been influenced by these persons who do not know what a Communist is but who keep the Communist party in existence. Communists have nothing to do with the situation in Australia. They are not worth talking about.
– I do not believe that.
– Of course, the honorable senator does not believe it. Has she read anything about it? She has read only the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. Does she think that the Australian Labour party is Communist?
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator said that it is influenced by the Communist party, whereas it is the greatest antiCommunist party in the world.
– Khrushchev preferred the Conservatives to the Labour party in England.
– That is true. Khrushchev said he would sooner have the Conservatives than the Labour party. The whole of the Communist philosophy is based on failure of the Labour party. We will enter upon some form of socialism; that is inevitable. We cannot have mass production and individual ownership any longer, any more than we can have an individual army or an individual navy. If the Labour party in Britain, which will soon gain office as the results of recent by-elections clearly indicate, does its job properly, the Communists will become weaker and weaker. The Communists are attacking the Labour party because they think that if they get it out of the way the road to communism will be open. Let any honorable senator tell me of any country in Europe where the
Labour party - or the social democrats a> they are called: - has done its job and the Communists have come in. Communists have gained control in European countries mainly because of the Red Army. Communists do not exist in any numbers in Switzerland, Holland, or in any other country where conditions are good. Senator Robertson says that she is determined to keep out the Communists, but every day the Liberal party is in office suits the Communist party very nicely indeed. If I were not concerned about the country, I should hope that the Government remained in office, because every day conditions are getting worse and worse.
I have talked for quite a while; I will come back to what Senator Robertson said about the Governor-General’s Speech. 1 am as interested in the Speech as anybody else is - I do not say how much that is. The main point in the Speech related to housing. There is no need to read about it. If any one comes with me to Woolloomooloo next Sunday, I will show him groups of men in hundreds among whom not one word of English is spoken. I have a great admiration for many of these immigrants. They have done a great deal for the country, but a certain percentage are like the leading Nazi who arrived in America as a freedomfighter but who had been in charge of the furnaces in a concentration camp. Why does not the Government bring in some of the freedom fighters who fought against Franco in Spain? I have seen what is taking place here. I am now talking about a certain section. At .Double Bay there is a pool called the Redleaf Pool. I used to go down there to have a dip and talk about all kinds of things, the horses we backed that started at 10 to 1 and finished at a quarter to 5, and about politics. 1 was down there again only last Saturday week. I ask anybody to go there. He will not see one Australian or one Britisher. One man was spitting in the water. I said, “ You should not do a thing like that “. He said, “ It is a free country, ain’t it? “. Another fellow was washing his mouth out and putting the water over the tap again. Those are only two instances, and I do not condemn all of these people.
When the Austrian workers were among the most advanced in the world, Hungarians working for fuedal lords came to
Vienna and helped to beat them. We must have immigration, but not until the Australian people are reasonably housed. Is there anything wrong with that principle? Of course, there is not. How are we to compete with these people, who live six, seven, or eight in one room? I do not blame the poor unfortunate people. In Melbourne, as I suppose Senator McManus has read, a trade union leader whom I have no reason to doubt, said that from 20 to 40 persons were living in one house. Let any honorable senator show me how the position is improving. We were never so badly off as we are now. As soon as a slump takes place, these unfortunate people will be used against the organized workers of this country. 1 admit that some of them are much more advanced than we are, but another section is not nearly so advanced. They talk about freedom, but they do not know what freedom is, because they have never had it. I have referred to one, whose idea of freedom was to be able to spit in ‘ the water. People like that go to meetings and howl down anybody who does not agree with them. If one remonstrates with them, saying that he wants to listen, they say, “ Go away. It is a free country.” The only people who have any conception of freedom - I include the Americans - are the English-speaking people who have fought for it. No one can appreciate the real meaning of freedom unless he has fought for it. Honorable senators on the Government side cannot appreciate membership of a trade union unless they know something about the history of trade unions. I prefer to be patriotic in a manner different from my friends on the Government side. I am proud of the history of the British people, but I do not mean by that that I am proud of Waterloo or Trafalgar or some of those battles that were fought by the British.
– Not even Bannockburn?
– No, not even Bannockburn. Robert the Bruce was like some other gentlemen I know. He was prepared to sell his birthright for a mess of potage. If the honorable senator is referring to William Wallace, I lift my hat to him not because he was a Scot, but because he fought for real liberty. Robert the Bruce was a hanger-on of the English for a time, and he only fought the English because he thought he could get more for himself that way.
– Robert the Bruce was not the only man at Bannockburn.
– I did not say that he was. I do not know what the honorable senator is talking about. I am more proud of Keir Hardie than I am of Bannockburn. He and many others like him. fought for real liberty. The stonemasons of Melbourne and Sydney were mostly Scots, and I am proud of them. I am proud of all those who went into the trade union movement and into the Australian Labour party determined that conditions in Australia would be better than those they had left behind them. I am not interested in Australians merely as Australians. I want to know what sort of Australians they are. What is wrong with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies)?
– Of course, from the honorable senator’s point of view, there is nothing wrong with Mr. Menzies, but he is not proud of being an Australian. He has two bob each way. He said that he was proud of an honour that was given to him by “ a fellow countryman “. He was referring to a Scot. I am proud of the English, the Scottish, the Australians or the Chinese if they helped to fight for human liberty. How can some of these gentlemen on the Government side know anything about human liberty? I know something about free speech in Australia. At one time, a meeting could not be held without permission. An application had to be lodged. I would not be surprised if that position did not prevail again.
– Senator Grant was tolerated pretty well.
– Senator McCallum was not tolerated, and he took the action that suited him. I took a different line of action, and I believe that I have done my little bit to ensure that we have liberty. Real liberty was never won on a foreign battlefield; it was won at home. We have free speech. Do honorable senators on the Government side mean by liberty the right to be tried by juries or to read what they like in the libraries? I know how much liberty we would have if some of them had their way.
– What is the honorable senator driving at now?
– Senator Hannaford would not understand. A certain percentage of the Hungarians who are coming here under the cloak of freedom do not know the meaning of the word. Quite a number of them are anti-Labour. The immigrants who came here when a Labour government was in office - tens of thousands of them - knew all about freedom because they had fought for it. The Austrian Jews and the victims of Hitler knew what it was. It is our job to educate the immigrants so that they will fight for freedom. What is the attitude of the supporters of the Liberal party? They are saying that these people are all right, and the more we get the better. It is a crime to bring people here unless we have houses and work for them.
It is useless to go on as we are going now. Is there any honorable senator who really believes that we have a stable economy? It is like porous plaster - full of holes. We should try to do what the former Labour Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, wanted to do. 1 remember his saying, “ We must have a plan. We must attend to wages, hours and conditions.. We must see that first things come first.”
I agree with statements that were made by an honorable senator about the proposed new opera house for Sydney. I like classical music myself, but houses for the people are more important than opera houses. I am pot so blind a member of the Labour party that I cannot see what should come first. Houses for the people should come first. One honorable senator criticized the St. Mary’s scheme. There has been no explanation of that project. I do not know what is behind the silence. Members of the Australian Labour party have asked for an explanation and no doubt one has been sought also by supporters of the Government. About £26,000,000 has been spent on the St. Mary’s project and yet there is no running water there. All water has to be carried.
Perhaps next week I shall say something about the international situation. This Government has made a bigger mess of international affairs than it has made of local affairs. Our economy is weaker than ever it was. It will continue like that unless something is done about it. I can see people getting down-at-heel and dipping into garbage tins for food. Men beg for a shilling in the streets. These are things that one did not see a few years ago. Inflation is a geometrical proposition. Once it starts it is difficult to see how it will end unless we do what they did in Germany, and I would not be surprised if we finished up the same way.
We cannot make comparisons unless we know the value of the £1. What is the use of saying that £160,000,000 has been expended on this and £120,000,000 on that? Honorable senators on the Government side talk in figures, but they are mixed up because there is no stability in the currency. The first promise made by the Government parties was that they would put value back into the £1, but they have not done so. Until the currency is stable, nothing else matters. 1 ask honorable senators on the Government side: Is the nation sound? Is our currency stable? Everybody in this chamber probably has a few pounds in the bank, but are we not asking what is going to happen to our children? Of course we are, because we know the currency is not stable.
I was against the deflation of the Australian £1. The currency of New Zealand is much more stable than ours. In Canada, they would not look at an Australian £1 because of our hare-brained economy. Our money is at the level of South American currency. I remember how this all began. Supporters of the present Government said that if all controls were lifted, everything would be all right. Mr. Chifley said, “ First things first “. I remember one honorable senator saying, “If a man has £10.000, what right has Mr. Chifley to tell him what to do with it? “. Perhaps, honorable senators will remember that. The Government seems to be quite happy to follow the policy of “ Eat, drink and be merry, for to-morrow we die “. I shall leave it at that, and when our lady friend here-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood). - Order! The honorable senator must refer to another honorable senator by his or her proper title.
– I am sorry for transgressing; I did not intend to offend. I do not think anything is to be gained by being offensive. In all sincerity, I suggest that instead of all this continual talk about communism, groupers and so on, the Government should get down to bedrock. Let us suppose Mr. Menzies is re-elected at the next election-
– There is no supposition about it.
– 1 knew Senator Anderson’s father - he was a Scotsman and Senator Anderson must have some Scottish blood in him. If he thinks value has been put back in the £1 since Mr. Menzies became Prime Minister, I can only say that the Scottish blood must have run out of his veins.
– Senator Grant has said about six times that he has finished with that subject.
– I am opening it up again. The powers that be have the press and the radio on their side. They have hardly any opposition when it comes to the dissemination of propaganda.
– Tell us about the secret ballot.
– I am strongly opposed to any outside influence taking control of trade union ballots. What would be the reaction of honorable senators on the Government side if we suggested appointing a government official to inquire into ballots held for the election of the directors of, for instance, Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited? Again, what would they say if we suggested that the same thing be done in connexion with the election of the directors of the Bank of New South Wales, or if we suggested an inquiry into all these mergers that take place? What would be their reaction to any suggestion from us that there be an inquiry into the wateringdown of stock that is taking place? What about having a government official watching over the Chamber of Commerce?
– But what happens when union members object to the way a secret ballot is conducted in their unions?
– The majority of the members determine what shall be done. No outsider has any right to interfere in union affairs. Again, I ask why a government official is not appointed to control ballots for the election of directors of such concerns as Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited.
– The shareholders have their redress. They can go to law.
– I remember what happened years ago when a commission was appointed to inquire into what was going on in a sugar refinery. At that time, the late Sir Adrian Knox was a barrister and when an accountant who was giving evidence was told that the commission wanted to examine certain, books, Sir Adrian Knox said that on his instructions the witness would not answer any questions. The examination of that witness was then adjourned sine die, and the investigation has never been re-opened since. But why do honorable senators opposite suggest that there should be government control over union ballots?
– Because there are irregularities in the ballots.
– Of course, there are irregularities. We are not perfect; but if a trade union is not capable of conducting its own ballot, it has no right to continue as a trade union. Would honorable senators on the Government side accept any proposal from us to put a government official in control of ballots in the Chamber of Commerce? That would be a different matter entirely. Now that I have answered the question about secret ballots, I shall conclude. I hope that at some future date when we are discussing foreign affairs I shall have the opportunity of showing how the Government has made as great a mess of international affairs as it has of local affairs. As I have succeeded in doing what I wanted to do, I now resume my seat.
– I rise to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech. First I wish to associate myself with the expressions of loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen and to the members of her family. They are a perfect example of what a happy family life should be, and it makes one proud to be a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations each of which chooses individually to owe allegiance to the Queen.
In speaking to the Address-in-Reply, I should like to add a few comments to those made by two of my colleagues concerning tourism. We have heard a great deal from members of the Opposition in support of the building industry and in support of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme which they claim to have started. We agree that they did start it, and it was a good thing they did; but, just as the proof of the pudding is in the eating thereof, so does the success or otherwise of a venture depend upon how it is carried out. Under the present Government, the work done by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority has broken not only its own previous records but also world records.
We have not heard anything from the Opposition about encouraging one industry in Australia which could bring a great deal of new money into this country. lt is not insignificant that last year 1,750,000,000 dollars was spent outside of America by Americans whereas only 3 per cent, of that money was spent in the Pacific area. Most of that 3 per cent, was spent in Hawaii, the amount spent in Australia by tourists being only £6,000,000. 1 read with interest, yesterday, a statement in the press that there is a move afoot to grade hotels and tax them according to their grading. That is a very encouraging sign. I have said before that 1 should like to see the Government encourage the establishment of better quality hotels, such encouragement to take the form of either depreciation allowances or, perhaps, certain taxation concessions. I also read in yesterday’s press an article by a visiting professor from America who said that we in Australia have everything that tourists want to see. He said that before the tourist can have that wish, he must hear about us not once, not twice, but over and over again. He said that from end to end, from top to bottom, of magnificent Australia there are enough phases of Australian life to stir the most phlegmatic imagination, to capture and convert the most antagonistic interest. He said that it follows that Australia’s tourist problem, if it is a problem, has a simple solution, and that solution is to get tourists here, to step up the telling of Australia’s story. He said, “ If it is United States tourists you want, tell it big, tall, loud - and keep at it”.
Senator Marriott told us” that when he was in America there was a great lack of adequate information concerning Australia, and he mentioned Tasmania in particular. He suggested that the News and Information Bureau might do something about it. I suggest that we already have a body in Australia well-fitted to carry out this work in co-operation with the News and Information Bureau if we can give it still more support than it has had from us. 1 refer to the Australian National Travel Association. 1 was very gratified last year when the Government increased its grant to this association to £50,000. 1 believe also that private enterprise must and should do something to support that association, and I am convinced that it will do so. When it does, I hope the Government will continue with its assistance to the association and that eventually special representatives will be appointed to the Board of the Australian National Travel Association from the States so that instead of each State running its own tourist bureau and confusing people abroad as to tourist attractions and advantages in Australia, one national body will speak for and publicize Australia as a whole. I hope that eventually we shall have one national body to publicize such attractions as the beauties of the Sydney Harbour, Hobart Harbour and the Snowy Mountains area with its great potential for winter sports. Very few people realize that in the Snowy Mountains there is a snow-field greater than that of Switzerland. We hear very little about that fact. This national association could also publicize the magnificent colouring of the Flinders and Macdonald ranges, our historical monuments, the beauty of our beaches, the charm of the Dandenongs, the various foods that may be had here and the great variation in climate all within the boundaries of the country. But publicize Australia, not individual States, which would tend to confuse those abroad.
I regret that the Opposition has seen fit to introduce an amendment relating to purely localized housing shortages. I believe that there is a general housing problem in only three States. There is, of course, an individual problem in every State. Anybody who cannot obtain a house has a problem. In South Australia, as in two other States, we have not an urgent housing problem. T consider that the absence of an urgent housing problem in South Australia is attributable to the fact that housing there has been removed from direct political influence. There is not a Minister of Housing in South Australia. There is a body known as the South Australian Housing Trust. There is a board composed of interested private citizens, and the executive head of the housing trust is responsible to the board. As I have said, there is no Minister of Housing on whom political influence could be brought to bear. 1 think that is one of the reasons why South Australia has led the way in housing for many years and will, I believe, continue to do a splendid job in this field. [ admit that the trust builds a great many houses for rental, which is not, perhaps, what the other States do. South Australia plans its housing programme according to the industrial development. In a State where industries are developing as rapidly as they are in South Australia, it is essential to provide a large number of houses for rental. People who go to a new area do not want to buy a house immediately. When a private person wants to buy a house in South Australia he can, perhaps, obtain a loan of £1,750 from a bank. If he is very clever, he can himself manage to get together £500 or £600. If that is not sufficient, the South Australian Housing Trust will lend on second mortgage the balance of the money needed. This arrangement suits the banks, because if there is a subsequent foreclosure the housing trust carries out the work. I think it is a benefit to a small man to be able to raise money on loan in that way. The South Australian Housing Trust receives about £5,000,000 annually, about £3,600,000 of which is allocated to it under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. The State government finds the rest. With that amount of £5,000,000, the trust arranges about £10,000,000 worth of building. It is a significant fact that, due to the way the housing trust is run, there are practically no bad debts. Since 1933, its bad debts have totalled only £231. That is a extremely good record.
In order to overcome the housing lag, I should like to see established a national advisory committee, composed of experts in the building trade, engineers, architects, financiers and representatives of consumer interests, which could investigate up-to-date methods, devise schemes for the maximum use of loan money, and standardize designs and components. Some persons might say that this would lead to a lack of indi viduality. I believe that plenty of scope would exist for individuality in gardens and interior designs. Where single building is undertaken, I believe there is a great deal of extravagance. For instance, if one man builds a wall, another might come along and knock a hole in it. The next day there is no work done because it is wet. It is considerably cheaper to build houses en bloc, which enables the builder to move his men from place to place. I believe thai an advisory committee could investigate all these things and, if necessary, supply plans and specifications to building societies or contractors who are willing to build under this scheme.
I think, also, that we should be able to examine the better use of our resources for building, such as land and water. The shortage of water in Australia has always been a great problem. I should like to see more flats built in South Australia because the obtaining of sufficient water in that State is an ever-increasing problem. I believe that that problem could be mitigated by the construction of more flats, particularly for single people, who have been the last to be considered in our welfare state. They have a great need of suitable accommodation at a price that they can afford to pay.
I shall pass on to another trouble. It seems that the Australian Labour party is always ready to make a political football out of immigration. It is doing so to-day, because of the housing shortage. Honorable senators opposite seem to think that we have to stop bringing in people because all Australians who want houses have not got them. They blame immigration for inflation. Labour’s policy to cure inflation is obsolete. It is still trying to apply a policy that worked in the days of the depression. We have to be very careful that we do not adopt policies for the curing of inflation in Australia solely because they have worked in older countries. Australia is a young country, which has growing pains. We have grave economic problems. Of course, we are not alone in that respect. Inflation exists in every part of the world, even in countries where there is an emigration programme. It is ridiculous to say that immigration is the cause of our inflation.
We have, of course, a balance of payments problem. In order to cure that, we must maintain a level-headed outlook on these things and not get hysterical lest, in solving one problem, we should ruin the whole situation. In order to overcome balance of payment difficulties, we have to produce more, sell more, export more, and import less. Each of these problems could give rise to further problems. In order to increase our exports, I should like to see introduced a policy under which Australians would be asked to do without certain articles. We have never had to go without anything in this country. In England, during and after the war, one frequently saw labels on commodities in shop windows reading, “ For export only “. The people accepted that situation so that more goods could be exported and so solve Britain’s balance of payment problem. I do not think that it would hurt Australians to be deprived of some goods so that we could export more. I realize that our import restriction policy has been causing great inconvenience, great frustration, and even financial disaster to some of our business people, but we have not heard any cry from the other side of the chamber on their behalf. We have heard no practical suggestions from the other side as to how this can be cured, but I heard one honorable senator opposite say, “ Why should we offer suggestions to the Government? It would only steal our thunder.” I think that it would be a good thing for the Opposition to offer practical suggestions, instead of always playing party politics. I recall Opposition senators saying some time ago that we should be united in relation to Australia’s immigration policy, but as we have recently encountered some difficulties, we are now hearing squeals from the other side. We have heard immigration blamed for inflation and for the housing shortage. We have even heard it blamed for the continuation of a Liberal government in Australia!
There is the suggestion that we are handpicking immigrants in order to strengthen our political party. That is utterly ridiculous. These immigrants are intelligent people and they have no preconceived ideas about our party politics before they arrive here. They are looking for freedom. But the first thing that happened was that they were forced to join a union; but now that policy has been changed because it has not worked. They are being told now that they need not join a union, but if they do not they will not get a job- that preference is given to union members. Having joined a union they find they are asked to go slow and are not allowed to work to their maximum capacity. They are being told to do the opposite to what they believed was the right thing to do in a free country? They are not allowed to have any initiative or receive any reward for their enterprise. They realize that socialism is the thing that the Labour party is offering them and, in their minds, that is the next thing to communism.
I read in the press recently that one member of the Labour party complained because at least 80 foreign-language newspapers are published in Australia. He said that those newspapers were slowing up assimilation. That is quite ridiculous because, actually, those foreign-language newspapers are speeding up assimilation in that they keep these people happy. What would be the position of any Australian who went to live in Germany? Would he not look for Australian companions? Would he not want to read Australian newspapers and do his thinking in his own language even though he talked most of the time in German? It is quite natural that these people should want these things, and in order to keep them happy I think it is very good to give them newpapers in their native language. It certainly helps them in their assimilation because these newspapers set out to do that and also provide them with educational facilities. We want to show our immigrants that we believe in the freedom of the press and that we are prepared to allow them to have newspapers in their own language if they want them. Sufficient legal control exists over those nespapers if it is necessary, but I do not believe it is necessary to exercise it. I believe those newspapers are doing a very good job.
A great many bogys have been raised in regard to immigration. We have heard it said that immigrants are prone to crime. That allegation has been examined and blown out, but the same sort of talk still goes on. Very little regard is paid to the provocation that is given to some immigrants by Australians. And very little credit is given to immigrants who have restrained themselves when provoked beyond measure by Australians.
Then, we heard Senator Kennelly talking about the prevalence of mental illness among these people. I suggest that he read a report recently made by Sir Harry Wunderley who went abroad for the express purpose of examining the screening methods in regard to immigrants. He has assured us that those methods are adequate and are as good as those adopted by other countries. We are continuing to improve our methods. Regular classes and conferences are held for medical people doing this work. The United States of America and Sweden have gone farther than Australia in that direction. They have engaged psychiatrists to assist in the screening of immigrants, but they are still unable to suppress all mental sickness amongst immigrants. It is easy to exclude a simpleminded person; but in the case of an epileptic, unless he has a fit while he is being examined, it is impossible to know whether he has that tendency. Apart from that, frequently these people, under the stress of “immigrating, have temporary breakdowns. lt is quite ridiculous to suggest we are bringing in mentally defective people. If we were to try to introduce some screening method which might possibly eliminate all these types of illnesses, the cost would be prohibitive.
We have also heard it said that immigration is casting an added burden on the States in regard to education and housing. The fact seems to have been overlooked that the grants made to the States are increased correspondingly as their population increases. In other words, the States are receiving increased allowances to make up for their increased population. We know that there has been some difficulty, but it is not entirely due to immigration. Onefifth of the increase in the number of pupils in our schools has been due to immigration, but four-fifths has been due to the in-> crease in the birth-rate which occurred just after the war. Those children are now all in the schools, and we have reached the peak of that difficulty. From now on there should not be a continuing difficulty in regard to the educational problem.
Last night, Senator Kennelly said that he had asked the Department of Immigration for figures as to how many British immigrants had come to Australia. He seems to be worried about the fact that we are not bringing in sufficient British immigrants. He led me to believe that he was unable to obtain those figures, but I have figures here which the Minister has frequently used. They cover the period up to December, 1956. Since October, 1954, the total number of British immigrants brought to Australia was 547,583 which represents 47.4 per cent, of the total immigrants.
– That is not correct.
– That figure has been supplied by the Department of Immigration.
– lt also includes people who return from trips abroad.
– I admit that because of the method adopted by the Statistician it is impossible to obtain the net figure. We do know that the total number of assisted British immigrants was 285,053, but it is impossible to ascertain the precise number of British immigrants who came in, because, as Senator Kennelly said, they are lumped with the number of Australians returning to Australia before their previously stipulated twelve months’ absence has expired. We also have lumped with those leaving Australia, Australians who leave here for the purpose of visiting relatives abroad. We have never been credited with them as British arrivals, but we are debited with them when they go out of the country. A good many factors of that type prevent, us from obtaining a complete total, but it has been estimated by the department that 6 per cent, of British immigrants return to Britain whilst 2 per cent, of foreign immigrants return to their countries. Of that 6 per cent, of British immigrants who return to Britain, a great many come back again. In fact, they cannot get back here quickly enough. Naturally, when they first arrive in Australia they become homesick and do not understand all the difficulties they have to face. However, when they arrive back in England they realize the benefits of this country and they immediately come back again.
We have heard of the imbalance of foreign immigrants, but, in fact, the situation in thai respect is far from alarming. Let us compare the 1954 census figures with those for a corresponding date some 60 to 100 years ago, or with the figures for some other English-speaking countries. In June, 1954, Australia’s foreign-borns represented 6.3 per cent, of its population. This was well below the percentage of foreign-borns in the Australian colonies- in 1861. Even in 1891 - aftei; the number of Chinese in Australia had been greatly reduced - Queensland and South Australia had relatively more foreign-borns than those States have to-day. Now, Queensland has, per head of population, fewer persons of non-British birth than it had in 1921. A fact little known, too, is that even in the United Kingdom there are areas where the concentration of foreign-born persons is not much below what it is in Australia to-day. Of course, there are pressures, but, fortunately, the department and the Minister for immigration adopt a reasonable outlook. They have to keep the system flexible,’ watching at all times economic and social conditions.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I was speaking of one of the Labour party bogys concerning the imbalance in the proportion of Australian and non-British residents. I pointed out that the situation is far from alarming because Australia’s foreign-born population, according to the 1954 census figures, represents 6.3 per cent, of the total. That is well below the percentage of nearly 100 years ago. Last night, Senator Toohey said that he would not support an immigration policy which would cause us to lose our national characteristics. I presume that the honorable senator was prompted to say that because he believes that these nonBritish immigrants are intelligent enough not to vote for a policy which advocates socialism, compulsion, and go-slow tactics, and which is ruining the economy of this country. He is not in favour of an immigration policy that will encourage men to work longer hours and sustain their efforts during their hours of work so that more goods can be produced without increasing costs.
None of us wants to lose our national characteristics. We are all proud of being a British Commonwealth country. We are proud of our British heritage, and we mean to maintain it. But that does not mean that we do not want European immigrants. We consider that the greatest compliment we can pay them is to ask them to come here and share with us our British heritage and our freedoms. I, myself, am proud to think that we have a department which can maintain flexibility in the running of this immigration programme. It watches the economic and social conditions on the other side of the world, and when there are opportunities to bring to this country the very best types of immigrants, it arranges for that to be done. Just after the war, when there was an abundance of displaced persons in Europe, this department brought to Australia many Europeans of the very best type, and they brought with them their skills. Recently, when 117,000 Hungarians fled from their own country in three months, we interrupted our immigration plans in order to bring 10.00U o. them here. Now, due to the international situation, more British immigrants are eager to come to Australia, and we are doing our utmost to assist them. There it. no restriction on the number of British immigrants who can be brought to Australia. The only restriction is shipping and accommodation.
Senator Kennelly has suggested that we should cut down the number of immigrants if there are not enough houses to accommodate them. I suggest that that is a cowardly approach to the problem. I think that we are doing the right thing in promoting the campaign known as the “ Bring out a Briton “ campaign. We are trying to set up committees which will contact people who are able to sponsor a Briton because they have accommodation that they can guarantee or a job that they can guarantee, or both. These committees will set about bringing the two together so that more British people can be brought to Australia. If Senator Kennelly and his party are sincere in wanting more Britons brought here, they will combine with these committees to make this “ Bring out a Briton “ campaign the success we want it to be. We certainly do not stop to ask these people whether they will vote Liberal or Labour.
– The trouble is that they do not stay here long enough to have a vote.
– But they do, and I have given figures earlier in my speech to prove that.
– The honorable senator gave only the figures showing how many of them arrived in Australia.
– I said that about 6 per cent, had gone back.
– The honorable senator is not being as honest as I thought she was. She cited figures as to the thousands of these people who come to Australia, but she did not say how many of them went back.
– I quoted from official statistics, which are the only reliable figures, and they show that 6 per cent, go back, but. we know that of that number many return to Australia again. Personally, I thank God for our immigrants. 1 thank God that they are helping us in the development of this country. They are helping us to mature. They are teaching us tolerance. They have brought to us their broadmindedness, their skills and their customs, and I hope they will go on doing so. We cannot estimate the extent of these benefits in addition to the material benefits that we have gained by their coming. Let us admit that we are a young country, and that we have a long way to go if we mean to develop our country rapidly. Let us hope that the hardships and the discomforts attendant on development will not bring out such cowardly qualities as have been displayed in this House during the last few days. Rather, I hope that those hardships will strengthen our resolve to go on with the job in a courageous way, and grin and bear all the difficulties which must accompany the task.
– I support the motion submitted by Senator Hannan and seconded by Senator Wade. I desire, also, to associate myself with the expressions of loyalty to our gracious Sovereign. I feel that we, in Australia, are particularly fortunate in having Field Marshal Sir William Slim as GovernorGeneral and Her Majesty’s representative. Both the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply should be congratulated for their thoughtful and constructive contribution to this debate. Senator McKenna has moved an amendment which provides for several paragraphs to be added to the motion. I oppose those additions.
Neither Senator McKenna nor his supporters have even attempted to give the House any constructive plan to improve the present rate of home-building. The core of this censure motion is an allegation that the Government has no such plan. The
Opposition was most unconvincing regarding the rate of home construction. The figures that they produced showed conclusively that every year since this Government took office, the rate of home construction has gone from strength to strength. Senator McKenna, in his pitiful pica to reduce substantially the intake of immigrants, again demonstrated how out of touch he and his party are with present conditions in Australia. He and they are apostles of gloom. They have worked and talked to bring about a depression. Just like the carrion birds that feed upon the dead carcass, they dread prosperity. They shun it like the plague. They live in the dead past.
Our opponents, in their criticism of the present economic situation, have based their arguments on entirely false premises. Their conclusions are entirely wrong, particularly when they emphasize statements such as were made this morning, that the’ people of Australia now have a lower standard of living than was enjoyed under Labour rule. That is what the Labour party says. 1 say to these apostles of gloom, “ Open your eyes and your ears, ye pedlars of misery “. That is all they are - pedlars of misery. They should go into the highways and byways of Australia, and there they Wil see the best living conditions that Australia has ever enjoyed. We are living in a most exciting time. It is a most interesting age. and if we increase production - as we can - we will enjoy a still higher standard of living. I ask the critics who make this claim to look at the period from 1947 to 1957 and they will discover that never before have the people enjoyed such prosperity. They have enjoyed prosperity not only in the material world, but also in the cultural sphere. Would any member of the Opposition change the last decade for any other period in our history? The answer, of course, is “ No “. In their hearts and minds, the gloomy democratic socialists know that the last decade has been the most prosperous in our history. The elderly and the middle-aged people of this country, by toil and sweat, have laid the foundation upon which we to-day are building a mighty Australia. Wc on this side of the chamber are proud of it.
Naturally, there are a few problems associated with rapid growth. Life teaches us to welcome each rebuff and not to stand nor sit, but to go forward. We as a government intend to translate into reality the people’s desire for advancement. We are well equipped to do so. The present youths of Australia are better equipped, both mentally, through education, and physically, than were their parents. They have a grand opportunity in all walks of life. They want maximum development, lt might produce mild inflation, but we are prepared to meet the challenge, to keep inflation to an absolute minimum. A society that has political and industrial freedom will accept the challenge.
Some people say that the Public Service, in both the Commonwealth and State spheres, is too great and causes inflation. Yet, wherever one goes, its critics cry out for Federal and State governments and local authorities to build more roads, more hospitals, more universities, and more homes. In addition, they demand more and better public transport facilities and public utilities. If those demands are to be met - and meet them we will - manpower must be used. I support this Government in its use of hundreds of millions of pounds from revenue to pay for public works. I do not intend to pretend that posterity should pay for the public works that are being undertaken at present. For every £1 we pay to-day, we save posterity 30s.
– Does the honorable senator mean that inflation is going to get worse?
– No. I was referring to the saving of interest. I should have thought that the honorable senator, with his vast inexperience, would have known what I meant. Senator McKenna made great play on the present shortage of houses. I remind him that during the last seven years more and better houses have been built than ever before. We on this side of the chamber are eager to improve the housing situation still further. Senator McKenna also said that the shortage of money was the cause of the present hue and cry from the press and the divided Labour party. I often wonder whether, when members of the Labour party go to church and sing the hymn “ Onward Christian Soldiers “, they pass over the following words: -
Onward Christian soldiers, we are not divided; One great army we!
Senator McKenna also said that the Commonwealth must grant more money for homes. 1 ask him where that money is to come from. He knows perfectly well, that if extra money is to be made available, extra taxes must be levied, because every available penny that the loan market can inject i.’.lc the economy has been used. Opposition senators say that no further loan money is available, so I repeat that, if extra funds are to be made available, they must be raised by way of taxation. The Leader of the Opposition knows very well that that would be unpopular, and that is why the Opposition is flogging this horse. I ask Opposition senators, if they are sincere in their desire for more money to be made available for houses, to advocate increased taxation in this chamber publicly. They say, “No, we will rule that out”.
– We did not say a word.
– You are too dumb. If the Opposition intends to reject that proposal, the available money must be made to go further by reducing building costs. The demand for houses has created an easy avenue for the stepping up of costs. I remind honorable senators about the 40-hour week, which was forced on to this country too soon. Would any member of the building trade or associated trades suffer from physical exhaustion if he worked 44 hours a week? I can well remember advocates in this chamber of the 40-hour week standing up enthusiastically and saying that a man would do as much work in 40 hours as in 44. 1 challenged that statement. I said that it constituted the greatest libel that any one had ever uttered against the labouring masses of Australia. I suggested that every hour of the 44 hours worked in a week was used to the best advantage. Do Opposition senators deny that? 1 further expressed the belief that it was impossible for a man to do any more in the first 40 hours of the 44. How in the name of thunder could he do any more? But, by introducing the 40-hour week, it was stated, in effect, that under the 44-hour week system he worked a full 40 hours and that four hours were wasted. 1 say most emphatically that that is rubbish. I also said in this chamber that the application of the new arrangement to building operations and an increase of immigration would mean that within ten years there would not be enough houses to house the people of Australia. 1 wish to mention two other matters, the first of which is complementary to the 40-hour week question. Workers now enjoy a morning and an afternoon smoko. My friends opposite will say that I do not agree with that. Actually, 1 am entirely in accord with their having a smoko; I have one myself. The point I want to make is that under the 40-hour week arrangement men work 37i hours a week, and that under the 44-hour week system they work 4H hours. The loss of production is therefore 10.06 per cent. In other words, all other things being equal, if a 40-hour week produced 100 homes, a 44-hour week would produce 110.06 homes. The persons who could have occupied those 10.06 homes will never have a chance to get homes, if the argument is carried to a logical, conclusion. All manner of theoretical figures are quoted .to the poor wretches who have not homes, but that is the effect of the Opposition’s advocacy of a 40-hour week in the building trade.
Another aspect on which I want to speak relates to finance for home-building. We know that in days gone by men and women saved and invested their money in homebuilding, so that they would have a source of income upon retirement in the latter days of their life. But under the welfare state to-day, there is no encouragement for them to save and build homes. One of our greatest sources of supply of money for home-building has dried up. A married couple with a home of their own can receive £8 a week in social services payments. They might have a few more investments and be quite comfortable with a home and £15 a week. An enormous , sum of money would have to be saved and invested to provide an equivalent income. Therefore, what do they do? Money which would have gone into home-building had there been no Landlord and Tenant Acts is used instead to purchase motor cars, or to take trips. Who can blame these people for that? But they previously formed a mighty powerful source of finance. The people to-day have to decide whether they want money for houses or for hire purchase; they must make that choice. Another great reservoir of money that might be made available is comprised of deposits in savings banks. Much of this will be released when the cost of houses is at an economic level. One of the very best features of our economy is the amount of money in savings banks. I am not sufficiently well versed in these matters to be dogmatic, but perhaps much of this money could be made available for the building of homes. However, that is a matter that we could investigate.
Passing from this subject, I should like to turn for a few moments to external affairs. We know very well that the Communists have boasted, and are still boasting, that they will conquer the world, not only by force of arms wherever necessary but also by propaganda. With this shadow over the free world, it is most interesting to read reports of the recent conference of the Australian Labour party in Brisbane.
– Now we will get it.
– Labour reaffirmed its policy of the socialization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. I hope that the honorable senator has got that. The conference also added the word “ democratic “, to make this plank in its platform read, “ the democratic socialization of production, distribution, and exchange “. Before I read in the -press the explanation made by Mr. Chamberlain, the president of the Australian Labour party, I expected that membership of Senator Cole’s party would have increased fourteen-fold, but how wrong was I in that assumption! Senator Poke said in this chamber -
The left-wing element of the Labour party has gained control of the Australian Labour party. If that element had gained control years ago, I am convinced that the Australian Labour party would be more virile than it is. We would have got rid of the groupers years ago.
Then I saw that the policy of that party is not now democratic socialism but “ democratic “ communism. When the Democratic Labour party put the word “ democratic “ in its title, each and every Australian Labour party supporter said that the word stank to high heaven, but to place the word “ democratic “ before “ socialization “ is to make it the greatest purifying agent in the world. See how the aspens and poplars tremble! We heard one of them this morning. I suggest that all that the Australian Labour party has to do now to achieve unity is to persuade the Communists to place the word “ democratic “ before “ Communist party “, and all will be well.
Whilst 1. am on this subject, I direct attention to some of the differences within the Labour party. The solidarity of it! The Australian Labour party says, “ We will not have court-controlled ballots “. The national council of the Federated Ironworkers Association says that it will have court-controlled ballots. Of much more interest to me and to the people of Australia, who ought to know about it, is the attitude of a very great supporter of the Australian Labour party, Dr. John Burton. It has always been accepted in this chamber that, if anybody’s property is taken, fair recompense must be made. What does Dr. Burton say of the position under democratic socialism. What does he advocate? It is enlightening. I give honorable members opposite credit for the fact that until today, as we believed, they were really genuine in saying that if they took a man’s property they would give him fair compensation.
– So we would.
– Well, that is pleasing; 1 am delighted. But Dr. Burton says that the method of democratic socialism -
Must be to confiscate without compensation the property of. those sections of the community it opposes.
The people of Australia ought to know that. Let honorable senators opposite deny that if they can.
– Is that Australian Labour party policy?
– It was published and it is there for every one to read. I was given the pamphlet by a member of the Australian Labour party, and that is what I discovered in it. However, that is beside the point. It is there to read for those who can read. Instead of saying, “ That he who runs may read “, I say, “ Let him who reads run “.
Because the Communists have re-affirmed their objective of conquering the world, the meeting of the Seato delegates in this chamber not so long ago was a most important event in the history of Australia. Seato is designed as an instrument for regional defence. Has it any powers or means at its disposal to prevent open aggression by the Communists in the treaty area? That is one of the points that that we must discuss in this Parliament. Since 1920 the Communists have been constantly sowing the seeds of subversion in the Orient, in South-East Asia, and even in Australia. Their success, in spite of Seato, the United Nations, and the United States of America, is challenging, particularly to Australia. Since Singapore fell, honorable senators opposite have been vociferously demanding the end of what they call British and French colonialism in Malaya and Indo-China. They have been clamouring for the end of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia. If Dutch New Guinea is to pass into the hands of any other nation, its interests could be assisted best by Australia.
Great Britain and France were right when they took action against Egypt last November. Perhaps they delayed landing their ground troops 48 hours too long. The Egyptian fellaheen were ready and willing to receive the French and British with open arms. Nasser’s air force was gone and his army was a rabble. The United Nations put strength behind Nasser. It bolstered another dictator more dangerous to world peace than Mussolini.
We are asked why the United States of America did not know in advance what the British and French proposed to do at Port Said. A very illuminating answer was given to that question. It was said that we could not afford the time to wait for the Americans as we did from 1914 to 1917 and again from 1939 to 1942. Perhaps the Opposition realizes now the importance of the Suez Canal to world peace. It did not know about the importance of the canal in World War II. The Australian divisions that the Government I support sent overseas held that canal in 1940, 1941 and 1942, and helped to keep it in British hands. That is the answer to the awful libel that has been put around by the Labour supporters that Australia did not do anything until a Labour Government was elected to power. Members of the Opposition are pedlars of gloom. It is a wonder their words do not choke them.
Last night, Senator Toohey spoke about “ the Brisbane line “. It was never thought of until a Labour Government came into power in 1941. Japan had not declared war until weeks after the Labour Government took office. Then the Labour supporters, headed by that gallant warrior, Eddie Ward, thought up “ the Brisbane line “. The Labour cohorts hid in their dugouts in the Blue Mountains. They behaved like dingoes with their tails between their legs. Yet members of the Opposition talk about what they would do! The latest developments in the canal area should bring home to the Australian people what the Anti-Labour Government did during World War 11. to hold the Suez Canal and keep our homes secure. If members of the Labour movement now realize the value of the Suez Canal, at least they have learned something about international affairs.
Is there an alternative to the Suez Canal which could be used to limit Nasser’s bargaining demands, especially regarding oil? Perhaps the best alternative would be a pipe line from Aqaba to the Mediterranean avoiding Egyptian territory. Sir Anthony Eden was right in what he did in Egypt. He inherited the Churchill Government’s mistake when the British forces evacuated Egypt in 1953. One had to be in Egypt then to realize what it meant, and how the security of Australia was endangered. The Churchill Government did not visualize the emergence of Nasser.
It is apparent that, by leaving Egypt, we strengthened the Communist conspiracy to gain world power. Nasser is a partner with Moscow. He is wooed by the United Nations and given the right to do as he pleases. Great Britain, France and Israel have been ordered to obey the mysterious decisions of the United Nations. The ships of Israel are not allowed free passage in the Gulf of Aqaba. Not a word has been said in condemnation of Egypt’s action in closing the Suez Canal to Israel over past years. Nasser has appointed a military governor over the Gaza strip. He wants to destroy Israel. King Saud and other Arab rulers are willing to lend him assistance. Russia has also threatened Israel, and Israel will be goaded into fighting again unless United Nations forces safeguard the Gaza strip and give free passage to ships in the Aqaba Gulf.
The present United Nations forces are wholly unsuitable to meet the situation. Their composition and equipment are not conducive to strength. To the outside observer, the attitude of the United Nations is not impartial. With the Middle East in such a state, it is vitally important to Aus tralia that Seato should be an integral part of world strategy for the free nations of the world. It was, therefore, most gratifying to hear the reference to defence in the Governor-General’s Speech, and to know that the Government is actively engaged in giving Australia adequate defences.
The Government must be guided in its defence preparations by the chief ‘ of staff of each arm of the service. Those who criticize our defence measures should state openly their source of information and upon what authority they base their arguments. If any one has a worth-while plan, I am sure that not only the Government, but also the chiefs of staff would welcome it. Australia must have the closest collaboration with Great Britain and America, particularly in equipment. This applies to all arms of the service, but especially to the air force. Australia cannot afford the money or the man-power to develop new types of aircraft or air equipment. America, with its wealth in man-power, materials and money, can continue to develop the best aircraft and equipment. Our own aircraft production facilities can be used to service those aeroplanes and produce the accepted type after it has been tested and approved. Before he retired recently, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sir John McCauley, had this to say about’ our Air Force -
The R.A.A.F. is in good shape. It is stronger now and is growing stronger in quality, in men and in equipment than ever before.
– Does the honorable senator believe that?
– Those are the words of Sir John McCauley, and Senator Ashley should read them for himself. Sir John McCauley also said of the Air Force -
If war called on us to apply our combat force to-day, we could measure up in quality and equipment with anything we estimate would be brought against us in this theatre of war, but constant revision of equipment, the adoption of new. and tested equipment and training will be necessary to maintain this position.
By arrangement with Great Britain and the United States of America, we should accept their designs of combat aircraft, particularly heavy bombers. We must have a strong striking force, irrespective of what might be said about an interceptor force. If we build up our armaments, we shall do something towards providing the defence Australia needs. Just as I have spoken of the Air Force, so also could we speak of the other services, the Navy and the Army. 1 do not know why it is, but we have no commander-in-chief. Inter-service problems are solved by consultation. Apparently, the chiefs-of-staff meet to discuss their problems, and the system works effectively. As I said earlier, whatever we do, we must have within the country a striking force that can hit back effectively. 1 had hoped that from the national service trainees we would have a regular flow of young men into the Permanent Army as a career because the Army offers one of the finest careers that could lie before any young man. It offers specialized courses of training in science, engineering, radio, chemistry; in fact, a young man can follow any vocation he wishes. It would be of tremendous benefit if we could induce brilliant young men to take up a career in the Army, not out of any blood-thirsty desire to conquer, but out of a desire to defend this great country and to be able to tell us what to do.
I know that this will cause a certain amount of fluttering in the dovecots, but (he school-leaving age is being raised year by year. It will soon be seventeen, and I suggest that much of the preliminary work carried out in national service training could be included in the school curriculum during the final years of schooling. Particular emphasis could be placed upon civil defence during those years. I do not know whether atomic warfare will develop; I hope it will not, but whatever happens, we must lay stress upon the value of civil defence. We still have to appreciate that the land, the air and the sea will be used if an invading force ever comes to this country. 1 should like to refer briefly now to the wonderful Australian War Memorial at Canberra. At that memorial, there is no glorification of war. Whilst it seeks to stress the horrors of war, it also demonstrates the nobility of men’s souls. The Hall of Memory, now in course of construction, will, upon completion, be the finest example of mosaic work in the world. It will attract not only Australian citizens, but also travellers from all over the world to marvel at its beauty. It is the most wonderful specimen of mosaic work one could see in the world. Just as the ancient temples and tombs have become objects of admiration, so will our Hall of Memory bc an inspiration to every person who views its magnificence of design and symbolism.
Mr. Napier Waller, the Australian artist, conceived this breathtaking memorial. He lost his right arm in World War I. Overcoming that great disability, he now uses his left arm to transmit his ideas to paper and canvas. Two of the most skilful Italian craftsmen in mosaic work are placing the mosaics on the walls. I sincerely hope that Mr. Napier Waller’s efforts will be rewarded, and I respectfully suggest that in the Queen’s Birthday Honours the conferring of a knighthood on Mr. Waller would be a gracious act. This magnificent work of art - it is world-famous - is being done without cost to the Government. Australia is most fortunate in having Major McGrath as Director of the Australian War Memorial. By the sale of books and photographs and the showing of films, he has raised and is raising funds to pay for the construction of the Hall of Memory.
These men to whose memory this memorial is dedicated were of us. We watched them grow to manhood. They had hopes and aspirations. They were trained in the various walks of life, but when war came they had to throw all that away and engage in a way of life abhorrent to the soul of man. We can truly say of them that they gave their to-day for our to-morrow. I know of nothing finer than that. Thousands visit the Australian War Memorial every year, but there is one suggestion 1 offer, a suggestion which might be considered seriously by the committee dealing with Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory. To make a thorough inspection of the Australian War Memorial takes considerable time, but if one wishes to have a cup of tea or any other refreshment, one finds it necessary to go miles away for it. I suggest that it might be advisable to have a kiosk somewhere in the vicinity so that people may rest and enjoy refreshment after spending some time at the memorial and then return to it to complete a thorough inspection.
There are many other matters which one could mention if time permitted, but I shall content myself with stating that our rate of development can and will be maintained. This is a stimulating time in which to live. It is stimulating to see advances made in home-building, the building of hospitals, schools and universities. It is stimulating to watch the development of transport facilities and the aid given to the expansion of primary and secondary industries while, at the same time, wise restraint is used to keep prices down. It is also stimulating to see the channelling of government funds into investments calculated to increase productivity; but we must never forget that private development is the most useful in increasing productivity without waste. Now is the time to encourage in both the primary and secondary fields of production an increase of our export trade in order to correct our overseas balance of payment position and to eliminate import restrictions. It is now time to improve the relationship between employee and employer so that wages and costs can be stabilized in order to enable us to meet overseas competition and to maintain and improve our standards of living. With our immigration, let us encourage overseas capital. We need not only hands; we need equipment for industry, too.
In conclusion, let me say that the door of achievement is wide open to us. Let us enter boldly, and take the opportunity to expand and develop the resources of this country. Let us raise the standard of our public utilities and services. We can have these things if we are prepared to pay for them with honest labour and the wise spending of our wages. Because these goals are clearly set out in the Governor-General’s Speech, because they can and will be obtained under the leadership of the LiberalAustralian Country party Government, I support the motion moved by Senator Hannan and seconded by Senator Wade.
– At the outset let me say that we have no quarrel with the Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General; we have simply added something to it. Because we believe that certain things which should have been done have not been done, we have added to the motion in order to widen the scope for debate.
I appreciate Senator Mattner’s admirable concern about what the Labour party is doing. I appreciate every bit of advice he has given to the Labour party. I appreciate everything he does with the object of making the Labour party conform to his ideas. Fifty years ago, we received similar advice from men of the calibre of Senator
Mattner, but we ignored it. Subsequently, Labour gained office on several occasions in both the Commonwealth and State spheres. On every such occasion, we left landmarks. Senator Mattner, as well as other Government senators, was at great pains to tell us what we should do. Senator Buttfield, the sweet smiling member of this chamber from South Australia, said that the Australian Labour party used immigration for political purposes. Good heavens! lt was a Labour government that introduced immigration to this country. To-day, the Government parties claim credit for the immigration programme, despite the fact that they have muddled it. The objections that the press have raised against Labour’s policy on immigration have been, in the main, instigated by the Liberal party. Honorable senators opposite jump to conclusions after reading critical articles in the press about Labour’s intentions. If they had access to the official documents, they might be less inclined to criticize us.
As I said before, we were given advice 50 years ago of the kind that was given to us by Senator Mattner. We were told then that Labour was a party of confiscation. Senator Mattner has said to-day that the Australian Labour party is a party of confiscation, apparently because that tag was fastened on it in an article that he read. There is no justification for the honorable senator’s statement that the author of the article acted in an official capacity for Labour. The anti-Labour parties, when campaigning against Labour’s banking proposals, said that we intended to confiscate the savings of the people. At that time, the banks employed people to run around whispering to the housewives that Labour would confiscate their savings. Similarly, representatives of the Liberal party are running around to-day saying that a Labour government would do this and that. They know full well that there is no truth in the rumours they are spreading. Yet a Government supporter has had the audacity to say that we are doing something for political purposes. Why, the agents of the Government parties are doing that all the time. It has been claimed repeatedly by Government senators that we on this side of the chamber are class-conscious. There could bc no more class-conscious statement than the one that Senator Mattner made this afternoon. He said that we should strive to bring about unity. I assure the Senate that we do not want unity with Senator Mattner or any of his ilk. Do not make any mistake about that!
During his speech, Senator Mattner pointed his finger at the Opposition and said, “ You forced the 40-hour week on the people “. We did not do anything of the kind. He went on to say that, after the 40-hour week was introduced, only 371 hours were worked. I remind the honorable senator that the members of this chamber do not sit for even that number of hours each week, but they receive a higher remuneration than do the workers in industry. Doubtless, the 40-hour week was introduced by agreement with the Arbitration Court. I assure the Government that we believe in arbitration, although some honorable senators opposite contend otherwise. Senator Mattner then said that if the 44- hour week were restored, that is, if 41± hours a week were worked, so many more houses would be built. That was tantamount to saying that the working hours of the workers should be increased in order to overcome the shortage of housing.
Apparently, this Government is not satisfied with pegging the wages of the workers, and allowing prices to rise to such an extent that their standard of living is now lower than it was in 1949. The honorable senator gave the game away. It is evident that this Government has set out to reduce the standard of living of the workers so as to enable private enterprise, the people for whom the Government stands, to get a bigger cut out of the production of this country. But this has not been mentioned by the Government senators AH they have done has been to tell us what we should do. It is the duty of the Government to maintain a reasonable standard of living for the people of this country. When Labour regains the reins of office in the future, it will most certainly carry out the promises that it has made. The Labour Government that was in office until 1949 set about doing certain things as soon as it gained office. Labour does not say, after it comes to power, that the promises it made from the public platform cannot be fulfilled. Every time that we remind the Government parties of promises that they made during the election campaigns, they ask where the money is coming from to enable them to be carried out.
It is of no use for the Government to deny the existence of a housing problem at the present time. Senator Buttfield said that she could not understand why seven, eight and nine people were living in a room because she was sure that hotel accommodation was available.
– That is a complete distortion of what I said.
– I remind the honorable senator that the workers cannot afford hotel accommodation. Thousands of them never go into a hotel at any time. The honorable senator admitted that there was a housing problem, and she stated that our greatest asset was housing for working people. She said that during all the years the trust has been operating in South Australia it has had to write off only £219. Is that not extraordinary, having regard to the fact that the trust has built on the average between 3,000 and 4,000 houses a year? In some years a greater number has been built, and I understand that this year the number will be slightly fewer. However, there must be problems associated with housing, even in South Australia.
That brings me to the speech of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). He gave us a phalanx of figures and some abuse. Before the Parliament met he made a statement to the press. Then, an article was published by the department which he controls; but all we have been given are figures, and more figures. I have said before, and will say a thousand times, that, whenever honorable senators opposite cite figures in an endeavour to make me appear a liar, I can cite figures with equal effect to their disadvantage. The Minister said that 7,000 people in South Australia are waiting for houses. Immediately after he said that, the Premier of South Australia told him that he was wrong, that 12,000 people in that State are waiting for houses. After the Minister came down to earth again, he admitted that the figure of 7,000 was possibly the number of persons who want to buy homes. His first statement was to the effect that only 7,000 homes were required, but then he had to crawl down and admit that that figure might apply to something else. That is what happened to the Minister after he threw abuse at the Opposition.
The housing authorities in South Australia have done a good job, and I think the same can be said of similar authorities in every State. Also, private builders in all the States have done a good job. However, there is the question of the release of credit; and credit does not always mean money. It may mean only figures on a cheque that goes backwards and forwards. An honorable senator can go into any country town and he will come across a farmer who wants to expand his operations but is having difficulty in obtaining the necessary credit. Just prior to what has been termed the “ credit squeeze “, a farmer could go to his bank and invariably get the money he needed if he had the necessary security to offer. To-day, the position is different. I could give instance after instance in which men who own assets worth thousands of pounds have gone to their banks to obtain credit and have been refused it, but have been told that if they went to another counter they would find a credit unit that would probably be able to help them. They have had to go to this credit authority which is partly, and sometimes wholly, owned by the bank itself. It is sometimes a department within the same bank. There, a man can get the credit he wants under a hire purchase system. There is an enormous difference between the interest that was paid under the old method of obtaining finance and that paid under the new method through the corporation I have just mentioned. However, because a person is in difficulties and needs money in order to get on with his job, he is prepared to pay a higher rate of interest with the result that, finally, his standard of living is reduced.
Necessity exists for an expansion of credit because every State, except, I think, Western Australia, is having difficulty in financing home-building, not necessarily through governments but through private enterprise as well. If anybody wants to build a home and does not want to borrow from a government, let him see whether he can borrow money from other sources. If he can, let him see what deposit he will have to pay. It is time that some honorable senators opposite tested the position for themselves; but if they do, I suggest they do not tell the institution to which they go that they are senators but just go along as Mr. Jones or Miss Brown. They would then find out what the real position is.
A credit shortage does exist in Australia to-day. The private banking institutions are pushing the Government to make more money available so that they, in turn, can make the credit available. A person might go to a bank as a private customer and ask for credit. If, when he came out, I asked him, “ How did you get on, Joe? “ his reply would be that he could not get anything from the private bank because the Commonwealth Bank has frozen credit. The private banks throw the blame on to the Commonwealth Bank and are asking that the law be altered to give them the authority they had prior to 1949. That was the time when the Government was nearly crippled because it could not get enough finance to carry on the war. The private banking institutions were the dictators at that time, and they want to get back to that position. They are creating a credit squeeze, but, at the same time, they are blaming the Commonwealth Bank. The Commonwealth Bank says that the responsibility does not rest with it. The suggestion then is that it is the Government that is at fault. In this way the private banks are bringing pressure to bear on the Government to give them full control of banking in this country and to put them back into the position in which they can control the economy as they did prior to 1941. The crisis is with us, and honorable senators opposite cannot get away from the fact.
Our friends want to know where we are going to get the money. Yet, in the same breath, they tell us that they have spent £500,000,000 during a certain number of years. I think that the total production of Australia last year was valued at £6,000,000,000. Probably, it will be of greater value this year. Since the present Government took office in 1949, it has gradually introduced inflationary measures. An honorable senator on this side of the chamber made the statement that the standard of living is not as high to-day as it was in 1949. In reply to that honorable senators opposite tried to show that wages are higher to-day; but they know that the £1 to-day is not worth as much as it was worth in 1947. We know that from 1941 to 1949- we admit it, because it is no use running away from the position - there was partial inflation in this country and as a result the £1 lost some value compared with its value in 1939. On that basis, the party opposite issued a pamphlet in which it was stated that the Chifley £1 was worth only 12s. 9d. In actual fact, the Chifley £1 was worth 14s. 8d. In 1949, according to the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures, the value of the £1 was 12s. 9d., whereas to-day it is worth only 5s. 4d. That means that two and a half times more of the currency of the realm is required to buy a specified quantity of goods than was required in 1949. Yet honorable senators on the Government side claim that the standard of living has improved. Of course, it has not improved, ft could not improve, because this Government pegged wages, and forced the position to such an extent that every primary producer, other than the producer of wool, is receiving less for his products. Even wool-producers are receiving less than they received two or three years ago. All industries are producing more. Again, according to the statistics, secondary production has increased by 18 per cent, net, yet the Government is urging every one to work more hours and produce more. More goods are being produced already, but the workers are not getting quite so much. Some one is getting it, and senators on the Government side know who it is as well as I do. Every one knows that it is the people who collect the profits who are getting it - the usurers who lend money at high rates of interest.
The Government ought to use the assets of this country to provide money through the Commonwealth Bank, instead of continually borrowing from overseas. The Government should make a reciprocal arrangement between Australia and the United States of America for the exchange of commodities that are grown and produced in this country for commodities that are grown and produced in that country. But instead of that, Australia is going into debt all the time, and within the next few years we shall owe America more dollars than ever before in our history. Australia will be in pawn to America. All that could be overcome by arranging a reciprocal exchange of commodities.
Another smiling lady senator, Senator Rankin, from Queensland, made her contribution to this debate nicely enough. She said that she was very proud to support a government that made and kept its promises. I think one or two other senators made a similar boast. It could be taken from such statements that so long as the Government made and kept its promises those honorable senators would be very proud of it, as no doubt they are. But on the other hand, in cases where the Government made promises and did not keep them, they could be expected to be absolutely ashamed of it. It is my opinion that, viewing the overall position, those honorable senators ought to be thoroughly ashamed. From time to time, they have twitted the Labour party about fellows who write pamphlets about the policy of the Labour party. I have a little pamphlet here written by a man named McDougall, in which he tells all about the Liberal party. He points out how it can be organized and made a wonderful fighting organization. How grand that would be! But he also gives some idea of what is wrong with the Liberal party, so I suppose he is a member of that party. He says that the Australian Country party is only an appendage to the Liberal party. It is not a real factor in politics at all. He regards the Australian Country party as no more than a pressure group that does not really count. Government senators have had quite a deal to say about Dr. Burton of the Labour party, but he is not to be compared with the pressure groupers of the Liberal party. This writer wants to know what is wrong with the Liberal party. He has a smack at that chap at whom some Government senators have had a smack. He writes -
If the Liberal party could unearth a Dr. Burton and write a pamphlet about its future the title of the work would more appropriately be “The Light that Failed “.
He has done that in this pamphlet himself. He goes on, referring to the Liberal party -
True, the leader had been tried before, and found wanting.
Good heavens! I did not know that. He adds -
But he seemed to acquire a new vitality from association with his fresh young colleagues.
The writer was referring, no doubt, to persons like Senator Wright who sits on a back bench in this chamber. As to this man who was leader, and who was tried and found wanting he says that he made many promises. He then adds that the planners and bureaucrats have had their day. I remind Government senators of their election policy on this subject. These are some of the promises -
Crippling taxation would be relieved progressively. The free enterprise system of banking would be preserved and rendered inviolate. Nationalization of any industry would never again be possible without a referendum of the people.
I remind Government senators that their leader promised these things. The statement continues -
Free enterprise would be encouraged.
The Government has done that, all right. It has sold many of the assets of the people. The writer recalls the promise -
The pound would have its lost value restored.
I remind Government supporters that their party, and not the Labour party, promised that. Government senators have all reiterated the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and supported by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), that, value would be restored to the £1. These promises have been broken by the Government and, consequently, those senators and others who are so proud of the promises that have been made and kept should be ashamed of the promises that have not been kept.
The writer recalls that another promise was that the size of the Commonwealth Public Service would be reduced. The Government did reduce the number employed in the Public Service. It dismissed from the Postal Department many persons who were not permanently employed. The Public Service Board was told to sack 10,000 employees, and it did so. The Government also changed some departments. It abolished one but created another. For example, Senator Spooner is administering a department that was abolished but reestablished under another name. The 10,000 employees dismissed from the Public Service suffered, but the number of public servants permanently appointed since that time has been such that the total number has reached almost the same level as before those dismissals took place. Such is the promise that the Government made, and the way it was kept. Mr. McDougall continues -
How miserable and disappointing, and frustrating has been reality.
He adds -
It is interesting to read to-day some of the aims of the Liberal party written in their handbook for candidates in 1949:
Government supporters will recall the little handbook that was given to them, and how they went on the platform with it. 1 know about it, because 1 had a copy, and I replied to some of the promises. Mr. McDougall points out that Liberal candidates were to tell electors that -
Under a Liberal government real tax relief would have been given from the higher rates of taxation that have prevailed since 1946.
That was the Government’s promise, but it has not fulfilled it. As a matter of fact, last year it added a little to the income tax, sales tax and excise. Mr. McDougall is very incensed about the beer tax, at which the Government is tinkering again. I am not particularly concerned about it, but this man is incensed about it. He points out, too, that the Liberal party said that its policy would be directed to improving the lot of the family unit. Government supporters know how they have risen in this chamber time after time and have said, “This will help the family”. Then he refers to the payment of family allowances. Do honorable senators opposite remember the introduction by them of any family allowances?
He mentions also financial assistance for home-building. Has the Government given any extra assistance for home-building? Never! Rather has it curtailed that assistance and stated that it must go to certain other people. Then he refers to the stabilization of rural prices. The Government has stabilized certain rural prices, but at values lower than those that prevailed when it went to the electors. Then, he directs attention to the promise to safeguard the value of the Australian £1. I think it was Senator Grant who referred to the safeguards that apply to the £1 overseas. When one goes abroad and presents a £1 note, one is asked, “ Have you not any other money? “ If one says, “ No “, one is told to go and have it changed. That is the position overseas, and in Australia its value is gradually dwindling. The Government will have to do something about it soon. It is trying to depress the economy in order to force the burden on to the working people and the primary producers; but it will not get away with it. Sooner or later, the people will revolt, in spite of the splinter groups that are about
Mr. McDougall directs attention also to the Liberal party’s promise to provide better opportunities for higher wages for those willing to work harder or become more efficient in their jobs. My word, the Government is making a big attempt to honour that promise! It is trying to make the people work harder; but the only way to become more efficient is to apply more efficient methods, and that is not the task of the Government. It is the responsibility of management. Mr. McDougall also said that the Government’s policy was aimed at -
Reducing Government expenditure on socialistic ventures and thus restoring to the wage and salary earner freedom to spend and invest his savings in his own way and not at the Canberra bureaucrats’ dictate.
The Government also said that it would encourage immigration and would make the Australian economy more capable of absorbing increased population, and that living standards would not be prejudiced. Has the Government done that? It has brought in immigrants willy-nilly, lt brings them here in droves but has nowhere to put them. It appeals to other people to accommodate them for a while.
It is suggested that we are using the subject of immigration for party political purposes, but was it not used for such purposes when the Government went to the electors? Of course, it was! The Labour party had instituted a planned immigration scheme which took into consideration the expanding economy, and it fitted into a job every man or woman who came here and wanted to work. This Government has not done that. According to its own statistics issued just recently, 49,000 people are registered as being out of work. I have been pestered by men who have wanted jobs, so I have gone along to the bureau in Adelaide to ascertain the position. I have seen immigrants there in their hundreds. Approximately 600 men go there every day looking for work. Of course, they are entitled to unemployment benefit if they have been unemployed for a certain period. As I said, many of them are new Australians whom the Government has brought to Australia; and they are good types of men and women.
The figure of 49,000 does not account for all the people who are out of work. There are at least half as many again who work intermittently and who do not register at the bureau because they know they are not entitled to relief. So, the total number of wholly unemployed and partly employed people in Australia is between 60,000 and 70,000. But the immigration scheme is still in operation and the Government intends to bring out thousands more people. It is not a planned immigration scheme, and that is where it is different from Labour’s scheme. The Government makes a lot of party political capital out of it, so we are entitled to make just a little capital out of it, too.
I suppose some members of the Liberal party would know this man McDougall. He must have made many representations about the excise on beer, pointing out how the Government has increased it. He also says -
In 1949. when they were seeking election, the Liberal party, under the leadership of the present Prime Minister, had much to say about high taxation, particularly sales tax and excise.
Government supporters will remember that the Liberal party promised to reduce taxation; but on 14th March, 1956, when the Prime Minister rose to address the House on the Government’s interim budget, his tone was rather different - “ Notwithstanding the natural reaction to so sensitive a subject “, said Mr. Menzies, “ beer can plainly carry more taxation.
Then he went on to talk about the amount of tax that is paid, what the increase would mean, namely 2d. a 10-oz. glass, and so on. Mr. McDougall continues -
The 1939 opponent of taxation was equally nonchalant when he announced increases in sales tax. The sales tax on motor cars was raised from 16) per cent, to 30 per cent.
That was last year. Do honorable senators remember? He proceeds -
In the days before we had the advantage of a free enterprise government that pledged itself to put value back into the pound sales tax on motor cars was 10 per cent.
It was, in fact. The Government raised it from 10 per cent, to 30 per cent. There is no question about that. It was honorable senators opposite who did it, yet they say that they are proud of the promises kept by the Government. Here is a record of promises definitely broken. This man goes into the figures and shows that the total revenue from direct and indirect taxation in 1948-49 was £471,030,000. Last year income tax alone provided £612,000,000. Somebody must be paying more. I know that the reply will be that if the position is to be analysed a comparison must be made between conditions then and conditions now. I do not think that making such a comparison does any good, generally speaking, but let me take the income tax position. A married man, with a wife and two children, who earned £500 in 1948-49 did not pay1d. in income tax. He paid pro rata up to1s. 6d. in the £1 up to £500 in social services contribution, and he paid no income tax at all, but, my word, he pays income tax to-day! He pays about £38 in income tax, so somebody somewhere is paying more income tax. 1 conclude by saying that when honorable senators opposite take to their bosoms some individual who purports to be a Labour man but criticizes the Australian Labour party, and say what a grand asset he is to them, we can always take to our bosoms somebody who is part and parcel of them, as I have shown this afternoon, but it does not mean anything at all. Honorable senators opposite will go on with their Liberal party policy, and we will go on with our Australian Labour party policy, irrespective of any advice that we may give them, that they may give us, or that any splinter groups in between may give one way or the other.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Cole’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Cole’s amendment) be inserted.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin.)
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Senator McKenna’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Presentation of Address-in-Reply.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That the Address-in-Reply be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General by the President and such honorable senators as may desire to accompany him.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin). - I shall ascertain when His Excellency will be pleased to receive the Address-in-Reply, and when a time is fixed, I shall notify the Senate.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) - by leave - agreed to - (11 That Senators Kennelly, McKenna, O’Sullivan and Wright be members of the proposed Joint Committee to examine problems of constitutional change.
Debate resumed from 21st March (vide page 65), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Although this bill, in effect, deals only with minor alterations, it gives one the opportunity to examine the original act and ascertain the powers of this Parliament under the Constitution in connexion with the subject-matter under debate. Placitum (vii.) of section 51 of the Constitution gives the Commonwealth power to deal with matters relating to “ lighthouses, lightships, beacons and buoys “. The States have a concurrent power, but it is exercised mainly over waters in estuaries. Where there is a conflict between Commonwealth and State powers, section 109 of the Constitution gives the Commonwealth overriding power.
Section 6a of the principal act gives the Commonwealth wide power of acquisition of marine works, the property of a State or a State authority such as a harbour trust. This would apply in Victoria, for instance, where we have a trust or board administering the Geelong harbour find another board at Portland harbour on which a great deal of money has been spent and where much more has yet to be spent. What impressed me strongly when reading the principal act was the rather remarkable provision contained in section 6a (4.) that in any case of such compulsory acquisition the mode of compensation should be to pay interest in perpetuity at 31/2 per cent, per annum in respect of the amount of compensation determined. We have heard much about acquisition on just terms. Can any one say that 31/2 per cent, is just?
– But after 30 years a State would be getting money for nothing.
– I have great respect, for Senator Kendall’s knowledge and experience in connexion with this matter, just asI have great respect for his knowledge of waters outside territorial boundaries; but, at the same time, I do not think it will be suggested that it would be just to acquire any marine works from the States on those terms.
– Where does that come under this bill?
– I am merely saying that as we have heard so much about just terms one might be pardoned for expecting that the Government, while it was amending the act, would take the opportunity to amend this provision relating to acquisition.
I should like to know from the Minister the rate of interest that is payable per annum under this provision now, and in respect of what amount or amounts it is being paid. I notice, also, from the bill that the rates of light dues to be paid by ships are prescribed by regulation. I am one of those who believe at all times that this Parliament should never give away any rights that it can keep to itself. I know that regulations are either tabled or forwarded to us; but I submit that where charges are involved they should be fixed by this Parliament, and if they require to be amended from time to time Parliament should be the proper body to amend them. That duty should not be entrusted to officials, however worthy they may be; and 1 emphasize now that I have no complaint about any officials.
I should like to know also whether the light dues received have covered the cost of administration. I went to the trouble of loking through the last budget, and although 1 ascertained the amount that was actually spent on this section of the Commonwealth’s activities, I could not dissect it sufficiently to answer that query. The principal act Contemplates control by the Customs authorities. It provides for the payment of light dues to the Chief Officer of Customs at any port. It also provides that the Collector of Customs shall levy duties for non-payment, that the Customs officer may detain a ship until light dues are paid and that all damage must be notified to the Deputy Director of Lighthouses and Navigation. Under this bill, it is proposed to place navigational aids for Cocos Island under the control of the Department of Shipping and Transport. As there seemed to me to be more than one ministerial control, I asked my most respected leader, Senator McKenna, whether he would ascertain how many authorities have had some say in controlling these bodies. The information he was able to give me amazed me. The questions I asked him were -
Was the Marine Branch and Administration of the Navigation Act attached to a department other than Shipping and Transport, and if so, when was the transfer made?
Is there an annual report, or report of any kind made by the Marine Branch, and if so, could the most recent one be made available?
This is the telegram he sent in reply -
Marine Branch since its inception been attached to the following departments: - Trade and Customs, from establishment to 1930; Transport, from August, 1930, to 28th April, 1932; Commerce, from 28th April, 1932, to 12th January, 1943; Supply and Snipping, from 12th January, 1943, to 6th April, 1948; and Shipping and Fuel, from 6th April, J948.
The Dept. of Shipping and Fuel was abolished on 17.3.50 and re-established as the Dept. of Fuel, Shipping and Transport, and on 11.5.51 the latter department was abolished and reestablished as the Department of Shipping and Transport.
So the least we can say is that there has been a bit of put and take - here to-day, and somewhere else to-morrow. I do not think that we are entitled to be proud of the fact that we have not been able to make up our minds. At least, the administrative responsibility for the Marine Branch should be firmly established.
– But Ministers come and go.
– I do not mind if they do. Some of them remain in office a little longer than I should like them to, but I have no deciding say in that matter. The second point also is of interest. The telegram continues -
An annual report is not made by the Marine Branch. Annual report made by the Director of Navigation was discontinued ten years ago.
Now, this is a pretty important section. The financial provision for the whole of the Department of Shipping and Transport for 1956-57 is £1,017,000. I consider that an annual report should be furnished, and that it should be available to interested persons. Seemingly, the last annual report was furnished ten years ago.
– That was in respect of lighthouses.
– That is so. 1 should think that Senator Kendall, in view of his vast experience at sea, would concede the desirability of an annual report being furnished. I hope that the Minister will take cognizance of my remarks and re-institute (he practice of annual reports being furnished.
I take this opportunity to place on record our appreciation of the onerous work that has been performed by the lighthousekeepers in keeping our shipping lanes open, and so expediting the passage of both passenger and cargo vessels. Proposed new section 19b. requires a report of damage to a lighthouse or marine mark, the property of the Commonwealth, situated in the Jervis Bay Territory and the Territory of Cocos Islands, to be reported to the Deputy Director of Lighthouses and Navigation in New South Wales and Western Australia respectively. This in an extension of the original provision. The remainder of the bill relates to purely machinery matters. I have no hesitation in supporting it.
– in reply - I am grateful that the Opposition does not oppose this measure; indeed, I do not think that it calls for any opposition. Senator Kennelly asked for information on one or two points. The first related to the rate of interest paid by the Commonwealth on acquisition. He pointed out that the original agreement provided for the payment of interest at the rate of 3i per cent. In actual fact, there have not been any acquisitions since the original take-over at federation. In 1929, the relevant provision was incorporated in the Financial Agreement. A per capita payment has applied since then in cases where the agreement was applicable.
– What would be the position if a property were taken over now?
– The Financial Agreement would operate. Since 1934, the division of responsibility has been clearly defined as follows: -
The responsibility of the Commonwealth in regard to the future provision and maintenance of lights and other aids to navigation ends with the erection and maintenance of those aids to navigation, that is, lights, buoys and beacons necessary for ocean navigation; the provision of port, river and inner aids to navigation is entirely a matter for the State governments or the local authorities concerned.
The second question related to the collection of light dues. Senator Kennelly asked whether or not they covered administrative costs. Light dues are levied at the rate of ls. a net registered ton which, on a 6,000 ton vessel, would amount to about £300 a quarter. The rate was increased last year from 6d. a ton to ls. a ton, and the collections now amount to about £460,000 a year, which is only 60 per cent, of the charges.
I agree with Senator Kennelly’s statement that the Marine Branch has had a pretty varied career. However, it has been administered by the Department of Shipping and Transport since 1951, and I hope that this arrangement will continue.
The customs officers operate as agents for the Department of Shipping and Transport in the collection of fees. This has been found to be a very convenient administrative arrangement. It is true that an annual report lias not been furnished for the last ten years, but it should mot !be thought that this has prevented the dissemination of vital information in respect of lighthouses. Information regarding lights - that is, new lights, changes in lights, and other aids to navigation - is circulated to mariners by the Hydrographic Branch of the Navy. The details are supplied by the Lighthouses Branch. This information is widely circulated. As for world-wide circulation, the information is included in Admiralty notices to mariners, and in certain other publications. In accordance with the Navigation Regulations, it is also the practice to disseminate information concerning obstructions and other dangers to navigation by means of radio broadcasts to ships at sea, and by roneo-ed notices to shipowners. I should like to point out that the report to which Senator Kennelly referred was not a printed report; it was a roneo-ed document, and had a very limited circulation. It was felt by the Minister in 1947 that it served no purpose which would justify its publication. The information is readily available to any one who seeks it. I share the view of the Minister of that day that to publish a report simply for the sake of doing so does not serve any useful purpose. For that reason the publication of the report was discontinued.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 21st March (vide page 66), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill, in the main, is a machinery measure. It is hard to understand why the department wants to cease the practice of placing a sticker on the barrels and, instead, introduce what it calls a cart-note. I should think that when dealing with large volumes of liquor in barrels it would not hurt so much to maintain the practice of sticking the permits on the barrels. The Minister, however, has said that it will save administrative ‘Costs. ‘For my own part, I would like to see the present practice retained. Then, an obligation rests upon the hotel keeper to cut the stamp. There is nothing wrong with that. He had to do that before when any barrels were tapped. I think. “ tapped “ was the term used when I was in this industry many years ago. We were then compelled, as is the practice now, to cut the stamps. All that this clause does is to make certain that when a “ nine “ or an “ eighteen “ is sold in bulk the stamp is cut right out.
One thing that the Opposition is concerned about is the taking from Parliament of certain rights which are intended to be controlled by regulations. That is what is being done under clause 14, which provides -
The Fourth and Fifth Schedules to the Principal Act are repealed.
The same applies in regard to clause 3 which provides -
Section eleven of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (2.).
Sub-section (2.) reads -
Until otherwise prescribed, the amount of the fees for licences shall be according to the scale in the Fourth Schedule to this Act.
Clause 4 provides - secton thirteen of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (2.)
Honorable senators will find that that section also deals with fees. In the principal act the fourth and fifth schedules deal with the amount that has to be paid by every brewery where beer is brewed in quantities exceeding those set out in the schedule. I shall read only the first item in the fifth schedule -
For every brewer paying a licence fee of £25 per annum . . £100 lt seems to me that we are taking from the Parliament power to fix the amount of the fee. I do not believe in that. This Parliament should not give away any of its rights. It may be said that it is not doing that, because the regulations can be objected to; but the fact is that the majority of senators are not au fait with all regulations that are submitted under the various acts to the same extent as they are au fait with an amending bill. For the life of me, I cannot see why those sections should not be retained. This alteration will not help the Administration so very much. If these fees are altered by regulation, some of us might not learn of the alteration; but if an amending bill has to be put through the Parliament to alter the schedules, we would certainly be aware of what was happening.
– What is the type of fee referred to?
– I read the first one in the fifth schedule. The heading on the fourth schedule reads -
Scale of fees for Brewers’ Licences.
The Opposition believes that that schedule should not be taken out of the act. If the Government wishes to amend the fees, that is quite all right. People who know my private views on liquor will know what I think about the matter. However, I think it is wrong to proceed in this way. I do not want to delay the Senate, but I am not prepared to give away any right which I think this Parliament should have. If these fees are altered by regulation we will not have the same opportunity to consider the matter as we would have if they were altered by an amending bill. I am not suggesting that is the intention of the department, but, with all respect to some of my colleagues and others, I say that many of us might not wake up until the regulations have gone through. The Minister may have an answer to what I have said. Apart from that, the bill is purely machinery in character, and I support it.
– in reply - One or two points raised by Senator Kennelly should be answered. With regard to the liquor permits, the previous practice of the department was that when a brewery moved bulk beer from one part to another part of its premises, a permit had to be obtained from the department and stuck on every barrel of beer so moved. We are now introducing the cart-note system, which has been in operation in regard to everything else except beer. The new procedure will entail much less work for both the department and the brewery.
The second point raised was in relation to the clause which makes it mandatory for the publican to cut the stamp. This alteration is being made as a result of a prosecution that took place in Tasmania. The department lost that case because the wording of the act was “ may cut “. It is now being made mandatory for the publican to cut the stamp. In regard to the third point raised by Senator Kennelly, the act has always provided, under section 11 (1.), that the annual fees for licences shall be prescribed by regulation. Section 1 1 (2.) of the act provides that -
Until otherwise prescribed, the amount of the tees for the licences shall be according to the scale in the Fourth Schedule to this Act. lt has always been provided that the fees shall be prescribed by regulation, and as they have been so prescribed sub-section (2.) is redundant and should be removed from the act. No other alteration is intended such as taking away from Parliament the right of prescribing the fees. This provision has always been in the act.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Senator Wright has raised a point, and in reply I have to inform him that securities were prescribed by regulation in 1936, and licence-fees in 1943.
.- I think that a principle is involved in what Senator Kennelly said. As the Minister said, the principal act provided that the
Annual fees shall be as prescribed. That is acceptable to me in the case of ordinary fees, but I find that the schedule provides for amounts running into hundreds of pounds. In those circumstances, it seems to me to bc an inappropriate scale of fees to be committed to regulation. I certainly will not vote against the bill, but I express the wish that this matter should be reconsidered in due course. These fees are more in the nature of a surcharge than a licencefee inasmuch as they are regulated by a scale based upon the turnover of a particular brewery. There could be a great misuse of a scale of fees such as this, administered by regulation and not subject to the control of Parliament.
.- lt is true, as the Minister says, that this provision may have been in operation since 1936. I am not concerned with whether a mistake was made in 1936, and perpetuated from then until 1949. Of course, from my political point of view, very few mistakes were made by the government that was in office from 1941 to 1949. I am not doubting the veracity of the officials who administer this act, but a principle is involved. The only hope that we have of preserving what we are prone to call the democratic rights of Parliament is to keep as much of the administration of these acts within the direct power of Parliament as possible. When I hear the word “ bureaucrats “ I regard it more as a term that some people like to see at the top of press paragraphs. I have found, in years gone by, that if I wanted any information from either Federal or State government officials they were always willing to give it. Sometimes they got a bit hot under the collar and tried to sidestep, but in the majority of cases they did not.
As Senator Wright has pointed out, here is a case in which large amounts are involved. Why should not Parliament have the right to fix the fees? I do not know how long it has been since they have been altered, or whether they have been altered at all. If any amendments have been made I do not know what they are, and I think that most honorable senators would have to say the same. When a matter like this comes before us, we should not be prepared to give away our rights to fix the amount of fees and allow it to be done by regulation. 1 know that attempts might be made by departments to whittle down the right of Parliament to fix fees. No doubt, they would be fixed by departments on 1 with the consent of the Minister, and in the majority of cases he would have the approval of Cabinet. But even that is no: a proper procedure. I know that honorable senators are all eager to pass the bill, but J ask the Minister whether there is any possibility of including a provision to safeguard the rights of Parliament to fix fees. I feel fully justified in raising the point, and I propose to vote against the proposal.
.- ^1 am perturbed at the proposal to take away from Parliament the right to do certain things, and to have them done under regulations issued by departments. That is the effect of clauses 3 and 4 of the bill. Clause 14, which is the last clause of the bill, provides for the repeal of the fourth and fifth schedules of the principal act. When, as a Parliament, we deal with matters of excise or licences, and any alteration such as an increase or reduction in the cost of a product is being considered, the people are able to know what is being done. If the proposal is excessive and the method of raising prices is flamboyant, members can express their views on it and the interests involved in the proposals can, through their members, also state their point of view. In the present case it seems that the right of members to deal wilh such a matter is being taken away. Some people might think that that is trivial, but a principle is involved - the right of Parliament to exercise control. Although, in many cases, this may be only a formal matter involving no argument, in others considerable controversy might arise.
What we are doing in this instance is to allow regulations to be issued to cover a position that was previously covered by act of Parliament. We are delegating power to some authority to do the work that the Parliament has been doing. It is not right that that should be done. The moment that parliamentary powers are delegated to another authority, that authority can issue a regulation and although, when that regulation is brought before the Parliament, some objection may be taken to it, it may have been in operation for some time because it was issued during a parliamentary recess. If it is issued while Parliament is sitting, it can be brought before Parliament and Parliament can express its approval or disagreement. Thousands of regulations are issued over a period of time. It is almost impossible for a back-bencher to keep abreast of the regulations that are issued. If somebody had not been alert on this occasion, certain charges could have gone through. Clause .3 reads -
Section eleven of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (2.).
Supposing that related to an alteration of an excise charge or something of that kind, it would be necessary to find the previous regulations and to apply the amendment to them. I have had the experience of having to search for earlier regulations and of having to scan them very carefully. Occasionally, we are favoured with an explanation of some of them. Certain Ministers issue explanatory notes of amendments contained in bills, but not all of them do so. If the Parliament deals with a matter, the Minister usually rises and explains in detail the meaning of an amendment. If he does not do so, one may rise and seek information at the committee stage.
Regulations are issued; no one knows what they are all about, and the position becomes very confusing. The tendency is to take authority from the Parliament. I do not think it is right that we should continually delegate to other people authority to issue regulations. Like Senator Kennelly, I do not wish it to be thought that 1 am criticizing members of the Public Service or the Minister; but it is the duty of members of the Parliament to attend to these things and for the Parliament to determine what shall be done - in this case, in relation to charges and licences. I strongly object to the transference of authority from the Parliament. lt is possible for regulations providing for, say, higher excise charges to be issued quietly without anybody knowing anything about them until they are in operation. Generally, it is then too late to do anything about the matter, because many procedures have to be followed to effect an alteration. Honorable senators who have been here for some time will know that, even when Labour was in office, I continually protested against the transference of this power from the Parliament. I know that it is necessary sometimes, particularly in relation to Army, Navy and Air Force matters, to issue regulations quickly; but when major matters are involved, the Parliament should deal with them.
– I wish to make it clear that, in introducing this measure, the Government does not seek to remove any power from the Parliament. Section 11 (1.) of the Beer Excise Act 1901 provides -
The annual fees for licences shall be as prescribed.
They were prescribed in 1936 and in 1944. The sub-section with which we are now dealing reads -
Until otherwise prescribed, the amount of the fees for licences shall be according to the scale in the Fourth Schedule to this Act.
As they have been prescribed in 1936 and 1944, that sub-section becomes redundant. Actually, it was the draftsman who suggested that it should be deleted.
– Who fixes the fees now?
– They were fixed by regulation in 1936 and 1944. I have asked the departmental officials to take a note of the objections. I am’ quite prepared to consider an alteration of section 11 (1.). Beyond seeking to remove a redundant clause, the clause to which Senator O’Flaherty refers does not make the slightest difference to the position. It does not take any authority from the Parliament.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 21st March (vide page 66), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not object to this bill which simply seeks to bring the act more or less into line with the Distillation Act, which was passed during last session. In fact, I compliment the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) for having brought the legislation up to date, particularly in regard to excise duty on a commodity that is consumed on international air services. 1 suppose, really, it brings the Qantas service into line with other services. It is a practical step forward, and for that reason we have no objection to it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday next, 3rd April, at 3 p.m.
Business of the Senate - War Service Homes Insurance.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I regret that we have to come back here on Wednesday. 1 do not suggest that we have not had a fair go in the recess. The Senate has agreed to the special adjournment motion, and it is of no use for me to oppose it now. If there is work to do, we should come back, and I am not blaming the Government on that score. Having spent most of the last eighteen or nineteen years in an upper house, I know that to keep business before the chamber is always a worry for those persons who have the responsibility of leading the house. We will come back on Wednesday, and,I understand, discuss foreign affairs. That subject may or may not keep us here for a couple of days. In another place the same subject will be discussed. 1 understand that, in addition, a few small bills will be debated and then we will be in the same plight as we are in now. 1 do not suggest for one moment that any one should shirk his responsibility by not coming back. I do not altogether blame the Government, but I believe that Government supporters, and others, will agree that it is better to bring us here and keep us for three or four days a week when work is available, than to bring us back for one or two days. I quite understand the position in which the Leader of the Government is placed. As long as we have this parliamentary system with fifteen of the nineteen Ministers in the other chamber, major bills will be introduced in what is called the Lower House.
– “ Lower “ is right.
– I do not think that the honorable senator or I would want to use that term to describe our colleagues in another place. I understand that the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply will finish in another place at 5.45 p.m., and that that House will then discuss a few small bills which we will receive on Wednesday afternoon. The bills will be introduced and then will be made orders of the day for the next day of meeting. Probably we shall not begin to discuss foreign affairs until about 8 p.m. I do not suggest that my leader should have a fight with the Leader of the Government, but, if necessary, I would do so - off the personal plane, of course - to keep the Senate in session. I recognize that the difficulties are great, but I hope that we will attempt to come together on the matter. I am not accusing any one of not having worked, lt would be foolish and wrong to do that. I am not accusing the Government of acting differently from any other government. Indeed, it may be doing better. All governments are confronted with exactly the same problem, and I do not seek to make political capital from it. Possibly a Labour administration would be in no better position.
I contend that we should sit for three days next week rather than for only one day or two days. A similar situation will probably arise in the following week. It is not my province to say what business we will have before us then, but one does hear things around the building, and I understand that we will be considering an economic statement. I am certain that honorable senators on both sides of the chamber would be much better pleased to come here for a full week than for a day or a day and a half. Even if we do meet next Thursday, it is odds to nothing to use a racing phrase, that we will finish at 6 o’clock. I hope that the matter will be given some consideration.
– I desire to bring to the notice of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) a matter concerning war service homes. The War Service Homes Division makes provision for insurance. Every ex-serviceman whose home has been built or bought with money advanced by the division - in some instances the loan is very small - insures under the division’s insurance scheme. I have a request to make on behalf of a man who has paid the necessary insurance premiums every year and who has suffered damage to his home. In Adelaide, about two years ago we had a rather severe earthquake. War service homes are usually insured against earthquakes and floods, which are the two matters which I desire to mention. The War Service Homes Division accepted liability for payment for the damage done by the earthquake. Almost immediately we had an extraordinary year for rain. Because of the very wet winter, quite a lot of drainage in and around Adelaide became blocked and there was some severe flooding. Some war service homes were flooded and damage was caused. I have gone to the department in regard to this particular case. The first claim in relation to damage from earthquake was settled. The property was then damaged by flood. The building of this dwelling was financed, I think, by the Savings Bank of South Australia. Buildings financed by this bank are very carefully inspected when they are built. This dwelling has been erected for some years. The home was inspected before the War Service Homes Division granted a small mortgage.
For all those years, there was nothing wrong with the house. It needed some minor repairs, and they were done by the owner himself. When the earthquake occurred and the house suffered some damage, he put in a claim which was met from the insurance fund of the War Service Homes Division. There had not been any previous claim by him. Later, he made a claim for the flood damage. The War Service Homes Division sent an inspector to investigate the damage, who estimated the cost of repairing it at £68, if my memory serves me correctly. However, the division offered to pay only half that amount and asked the owner to meet the balance. He has been arguing with the division ever since, and the work has been left only partly completed.
I saw the officer in charge of the War Service Homes Division in South Australia and inspected the house thoroughly. The report by the division’s officers stated that the damage was on the south side, but actually it is on the other side where the walls are cracked and have fallen away. The stress on the roof was shifted and the inside was cracked also. The division has admitted that the damage was done, but it will pay only half the cost of repair.
The name of the man concerned is Mr. Perkins, and he lives at Marion-road, Ascot Park, South Australia. Usually, in a case of this kind an insurance company sends its assessor, and the agreed cost of repairing the damage is paid by the company. In this case, Mr. Perkins is being treated unjustly. I ask the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to investigate the case and ascertain what insurance cover is given by the War Service Homes Division.
– I shall make inquiries into the circumstances of the case that has been mentioned by Senator O’Flaherty. I shall let him know the result of my inquiry personally or make a statement in the Senate, depending on what is revealed by my investigations.
– in reply - The matters that have been mentioned by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) in connexion with the sittings of the Senate have not escaped the notice of the Government. Honorable senators will agree that the two most uncomfortable periods during the sittings of the Senate are the days immediately after the recess and the closing days of the sessional period. Although the Senate can initiate legislation, apart from money bills, most legislation is initiated in another place, where there are sixteen Ministers compared with five in the Senate. During the early stages of a sessional period, we are thrown on our own resources because, as a house of review, we have to wait for legislation to come from the other place unless we have some legislation to initiate ourselves. We may have to wait some time for legislation to be passed on to the Senate at the commencement of the sessional period because of other matters which have the attention of the Parliament, including the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s Speech. This situation is characteristic of the functions of the Senate and the experience at the beginning of the sessional period and. as honorable senators know, there is often a most uncomfortable and unhappy rush of legislation at the end of a sessional period. The matters that have been raised by Senator Kennelly have received, and will continue to receive, consideration, butI cannot see a solution of the problem at this stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.9 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 March 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1957/19570328_senate_22_s10/>.