22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service by stating that, as honorable senators know, Canberra is developing at a terrific rate and, as a consequence, many tradesmen and labourers are engaged by various employers. Among these employees are a number of new Australians. I understand that the Department of Labour and Industry in New South Wales occasionally sends an industrial inspector to Canberra, but I believe that this is not a very satisfactory arrangement. Will the Minister confer with his colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, on the matter of appointing a permanent industrial inspector so that industrial awards can be properly policed in Canberra?
– I give the honorable senator an undertaking that I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for Labour and National Service. I shall ask my colleague to write direct to the honorable senator letting him have his views upon it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether his attention has yet been addressed to a report published in the Tasmanian press yesterday of American research into the Hare-Clark system of proportional representation, and to the statement that emanates from that research that this system represents the widest electoral reform in the world and refers to it as being, with a slight improvement, a unique privilege for the people. Will the Minister see that the report is taken into consideration when thought is being given to an amendment, of the Electoral Act of the Commonwealth? If any such amendment is being considered, will he see that this report is given particular attention in relation to proportional representation in the
Senate, having in mind the fact that the absolute right does not belong to the majority in Parliament to ignore minorities that are properly represented?
– The question raised by the honorable senator is of very great interest. It is a highly controversial matter in Tasmania, where the Hare-Clark system has operated for a number of years. I have not seen the report to which the honorable senator refers, but I fully agree with what he has said about the Hare-Clark system being one of the most representative systems of election that it is possible to have. I should like to get a properly considered report from the Minister for the Interior on this subject because it is of great interest, and especially as it would be of extreme importance when any alteration of the Electoral Act of the Commonwealth was being considered. I am quite certain that the Minister for the Interior would not consider any alteration of the Electoral Act without taking into full account such a valuable report as this one on the Hare-Clark system.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I preface my question with the comment that newspaper reports indicate that Tasmania will not be included in the itinerary of the Queen Mother for her proposed Australian tour. As Hobart is only one and a half hours’ flying time from Melbourne, will the Minister make representations with a view to ensuring that Tasmania, the garden of the south, will not be ignored?
– I am sure the honorable senator will realize that the Queen Mother’s contemplated tour will be a very arduous one.
– She will still go to Queensland!
– That is very proper, of course. The utmost consideration must be extended to our royal visitor, although she will cover most of the country in the time available. However, I will be very happy to bring the honorable senator’s comments to the notice of the Prime Minister.
– I preface my question to the Attorney-General by saying that a report appeared on page 6 of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ this morning, to the effect that the Commonwealth Investigation Service had made a search of officers’ desks at the Taxation Branch, Sydney, after office hours. Will the Minister have investigations made to find out whether this report is correct? Will he also take steps to ensure that officers will be in attendance when their desks are being searched in any future investigations that may be carried out?
– I am not prepared, offhand, to give the honorable senator any assurances or undertakings, but I will certainly have the matter raised by him investigated. If the circumstances warrant it, I shall make a statement regarding the matter.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate discuss with his colleague, the Minister for Trade, the proposed importation of prawns from Hong Kong, with a view to ensuring that these prawns do not include Japanese prawns rejected by the American market?
– I will be very happy to take this matter up with my colleague, the Minister for Trade, but I understand that intensive examination of the matter is already under way.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service seen a report in the Tasmanian press to the effect that the warden of Devonport, who does not happen to be a Labour man, recently called a conference to try to solve the unemployment problem in that town? Was the Commonwealth Department of Labour and National Service invited to send a representative to this conference?
– I have no knowledge of the matter to which the honorable senator refers. I do not know what the procedure is in these cases. As only 700 persons were receiving unemployment relief benefits in the whole of Tasmania at the beginning of October, there cannot be any great overall unemployment problem in that State.
– I address my question to the Minister for National Development, although the matter to which I refer may come within the province of the Minister representing the Minister for Supply. When will Australia’s first nuclear reactor be completed, and what amount of power is it planned to generate? Secondly, what plans has the Commonwealth Government for the building of other reactors in other parts of Australia? Thirdly, has the Government considered the construction of a reactor in Western Australia? Finally, can the Minister say whether the existing Commonwealth control of uranium in any way prevents the Western Australian Government from building its own nuclear reactor?
– We anticipate that the first reactor in Australia will be completed and opened in March next. As it will be used for research purposes, reference to the amount of power it will generate would not be relevant. As to the Commonwealth’s plans for other parts of Australia, I point out in broad terms that atomic power is only one form of power - there is also thermal power and hydro-electric power - and that the provision of power is a matter for State governments, even though there may be particular problems in relation to atomic power. All that the Commonwealth has done up to this stage has been to establish an organization within the Australian Atomic Energy Commission which can give first-class technical advice to State governments or private industrialists who may be contemplating the installation of atomic power. Reference has been made to uranium. As I understand the situation, atomic power could be produced from Australia’s present resources of uranium. Quite a programme would be required in order to convert the uranium into oxide, into metal, and then into fuel, but I understand that it can all be done in Australia.
– T preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, by complimenting the Department of Trade on the release yesterday of a valuable publication entitled “ Developments in Australian Manufacturing Industry “, in which the following passage appears: -
With relatively high labour costs and small markets it is important that Australian industry be equipped with the most modem and efficient machinery available if it is to be able to withstand import competition and compete with other countries in export markets.
Will the Minister discuss with the Treasurer the possibility of an early, imaginative and courageous implementation qf the balance of the Hulme committee’s report on depreciation, which has already received the general commendation of the Treasurer and the Tariff Board?
– The report of the Hulme committee was considered by the Treasurer and the Government when the Budget that is before the Senate was being prepared. We adopted those recommendations in the report that we thought it was practicable and expedient to implement at that stage.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that the city of Launceston has earned the reputation of being the cradle of civil aviation in Australia? Is he aware that the late Sir Ivan Holyman, the founder of Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd., Sir Hudson Fysh, the managing director of Qantas Empire Airways Ltd., and Mr. Warren McDonald, the chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission, were all born and educated in Launceston? Would the Minister give consideration to perpetuating the name of Sir Ivan Holyman, a great pioneer of Australian civil aviation, by calling the Western Junction airport Holyman airport?
– I was aware that Launceston was the birthplace and the home town of Sir Ivan Holyman, Sir Hudson Fysh and Mr. Warren McDonald. It has become the practice of the Department of Civil Aviation, in naming airports, not to use names other than those of the cities or towns which the airports serve, because the department holds the view that a departure from this practice might create confusion, particularly in the mind of overseas travellers. None the less, the proposal made is most interesting, and I shall be pleased to examine it with officers of the department and with others to see whether something along the lines suggested could be done.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. There is a report current that the Bellbird colliery, on the northern coal-fields of New South Wales, is likely to reopen shortly. It is suggested that if some orders for coal can be obtained, possibly with the aid of the Joint Coal Board, the colliery will be reopened, with consequent employment for some 300 to 400 coalminers. Can the Minister give any information to the Senate in regard to the negotiations and the prospects of the colliery being reopened?
– I understand the position to be that somebody has said to the liquidator of the coal mine, “ I will buy the mine if you can sell it to me upon the basis that it has a customer for some 300 or 400 tons of coal a day “. I am not certain whether that is the figure which has been mentioned. I understand that the Joint Coal Board is endeavouring to hold a conference to see whether it will be possible to make any such arrangements. More than that I do not know. I point out that if the mine had had such a customer, probably it would not have been necessary for the company to go into liquidation. We can only wish the Joint Coal Board and those associated with it good luck in the endeavour to make such an arrangement.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Since import licensing has been in vogue, many imported items that were formerly readily obtainable in Tasmania have been in very short supply. The importers who used to supply the people of Tasmania are situated in Victoria, and they have tended to be more generous to their mainland clients, to the detriment of Tasmanian business people. This is particularly noticeable in respect of imported liquors. Will the Minister ask his colleague to instruct the import licensing branch to hear and sympathetically deal with any requests from Tasmanian importers for more generous treatment? In other words, can they be given import licences so that they will not have to rely on the largesse of mainlanders, who do not show much consideration to Tasmanians?
– I shall put the honorable senator’s proposal before my colleague.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice-
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following information: -
These figures relate to persons who claimed, when registering with the Commonwealth Employment Service, that they were not employed and were thus recorded as unplaced at the reporting date. The figures include persons referred to employment, but whose placement was not confirmed; and those who may have secured employment without notifying the Commonwealth Employment Service and whose applications for employment had not lapsed by the reporting date.
The Minister for Social Services has advised that, to qualify for payment of unemployment benefit, a person must -
Unemployment benefit is subject to a test as to income which, in the case of a married person, includes the income of his spouse. Persons receiving age, invalid or widow’s pensions, service pensions - as distinct from war pensions under the Repatriation Act - and tuberculosis allowances, are not eligible for unemployment benefit.
Unemployment benefit, though not payable for the first seven days of unemployment, is payable for the full period of unemployment thereafter.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has now furnished the following reply: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Will the Minister supply the following information relative to Division No. 280, sub-division D, item 11, “Private Schools - Reimbursement of interest on capital borrowed for construction and extension of school buildings “, appearing on page 152 of the Estimates for 1957-58, under the heading “ Australian Capital Territory - General Services - Education “: -
What school authorities have applied for reimbursement of interest?
What sums of money have been promised to these school authorities?
What buildings have been constructed or are being constructed by each school authority?
How many additional pupils is each school authority able to accommodate because of the expenditure of the money which has been promised?
What is the nature of the agreement or understanding between the Department of the Interior and the school authorities concerned, made before the money had been appropriated by Parliament?
– The Minister for the Interior has furnished the following reply: -
The maximum amount available from the Commonwealth in respect of all applications is £25,000 each financial year.
– On 15th October, Senator O’Byrne asked me the following question: -
My question, which is on similar lines to that of Senator Robertson, is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. First, is it a fact that the Postmaster-General promised Actors Equity that he would meet a delegation at 2 o’clock to-day, but was not available when the delegation attended Parliament House? Is the Minister aware that the spirit of the Australian Broadcasting Act is being evaded by television stations in regard to the quality of imported television filmed programmes, and the employment of Australian actors, musicians and writers who are unable to compete, economically, with the imported film programmes? Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that stabbing, strangling, suicide, murder, bashing, maiming, robbery and brawling are the themes of many programmes presented on television during hours when there is the greatest number of child viewers, and that this cannot fail to have a debasing and demoralizing effect? Will the Minister alter his decision not to meet the deputation from Actors Equity, so that justice will be done to these Australian artists, whose very livelihood is threatened by the new entertainment medium of television unless they are - guaranteed a fair share of the employment offering in that industry?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -
Following a request by the secretary of Actors and Announcers Equity the Postmaster-General agreed to meet a deputation representing that body at 2 p.m. on 15th October, in Canberra. Subsequently it was learned that the organization proposed staging a strike on that day and the secretary was advised personally in Sydney, on 14th October, that the meeting would not take place if a strike was in progress.
All films for television purposes which are imported are subject to censorship by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board and all films which are admitted are classified for use in television in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Television Programme Standards determined by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. Section 99 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1956 also places on the licensees of commercial television stations the obligation of ensuring that all programmes transmitted are in accordance with these standards. The standards, a copy of which I will make available to the honorable senator, contains special provisions relating to family and children’s programmes. The performance of the commercial television stations in respect of programme services during the period they have been in operation are covered fully in Part VII of the Ninth Annual Report of the Board, which was tabled recently.
So far as the matter of the Australian content of television programmes is concerned, it cannot be said that the extent to which Australians have been used in the production and presentation of television programmes has been unsatisfactory, having regard to the short time that stations have been in operation. ‘ During the month of August the percentage of the total hours of transmission’ of the four commercial stations devoted to Australian programmes was 46 per cent., 51 per cent., 62 per cent, and 67 per cent.
– As Chairman, I bring up and lay on the table of the Senate the thirteenth report of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee.
Ordered to be printed.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to increase the level of the payments by the Commonwealth to the State of Western Australia towards the cost of the agricultural areas, great southern towns and goldfields water supply scheme or, as it is more commonly known, the Comprehensive Water Supply
Scheme. This scheme involves the reticulation of water to townships and homesteads in a wheat belt of about 4,000,000 acres inland from Perth, the reticulation of water to towns along the Great Southern railway from Beverley to Katanning and increasing the supply of water to the eastern goldfields area of the State.
At the request of the State Government, the Commonwealth agreed in 1948 to meet one-half of the expenditure incurred by the State on the scheme, subject to a maximum Commonwealth contribution of £2,150,000. At that time, the State estimated that the total cost of the scheme would be £4,300,000.
In 1955, the State again approached the Commonwealth and sought increased financial assistance for the scheme. The Premier then indicated that the work had been delayed through inability to obtain the required materials and the cost had risen considerably, but every effort would be made to have the job completed by June, 1960. As a result of this approach, the aggregate limit on the Commonwealth payments was increased from £2,150,000 to £4,000,000 on the understanding that the payment of the additional amount of £1,850,000 would be spread over the four financial years from 1956-57 to 1959-60. On that basis, Commonwealth payments in any of those years would not normally exceed £462,500.
It is now proposed that the overall limit on the Commonwealth payments be increased from £4,000,000 to £5,000,000, and that the limit on the amounts payable annually be removed. Accordingly, the bill now before the Senate provides, in effect, that, within the appropriation of £5,000,000, the Commonwealth may reimburse the State half its expenditure on the scheme, without there being any limit on the amount payable in any year. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 30th October (vide page 1022).
Refunds of Revenue.
Proposed Vote, £22,000,000.
Advance to the Treasurer.
Proposed Vote, £16,000,000.
Department of Works.
Proposed Vote, £3,393,000.
Department of Trade.
Proposed Vote, £1,733,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Trade.
Proposed Vote, £423,000.
Department of Social Services
Proposed Vote, £3,014,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Social Services.
Proposed Vote, £1,940,000.
Department of Labour and National Service.
Proposed Vote, £2,147,000.
Administration of National Service Act.
Proposed Vote, £198,000. Australian Atomic Energy Commission.
Proposed Vote, £1,411,000.
Department of the Army.
Proposed Vote, £57,389,000.
Proposed Vote, £330,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
.- I refer to Division No. 232 - Advance to the Treasurer. It may be noticed that in the time-table issued to us, Division No. 231 and Division No. 232 are grouped for consideration to-day. Yesterday, we dealt with the proposed vote for the Department of the Treasury. Surely it was the work of a novice to leave “ Refunds of Revenue, £22,000,000” and “Advance to the Treasurer, £16,000,000 “ to to-day’s discussion, seeing that we dealt with the proposed vote for the Department of the Treasury yesterday. I leave the matter there.
I feel sure that all honorable senators are aware of what “ Advance to the Treasurer “ means and why an advance is made to the Treasurer. It may be noted, though, that section 83 of the Commonwealth Constitution states -
No money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the Commonwealth except under appropriation made by law.
Needless to say, that section has been followed religiously over the years since we have had Constitution and the Commonwealth Parliament; but the Commonwealth
Government works on an annual appropriation. That appropriation covers the period from 1st July of one year to 30th June of the following year. No money whatever can be spent unless the expenditure is first authorized by the Parliament.
It appears that on occasions more money is appropriated than can be spent throughout the year. The question then arises as to what is to be done with the surplus. Provision has been made under an act of the Commonwealth to deal specifically with surplus revenue. There is in operation the Surplus Revenue Act, but it so happens that, because of the great commitments of the Commonwealth, there is never any surplus revenue.
When I was dealing with the proposed vote for the Department of the Treasury last night, I mentioned that we deal with three specific funds in particular. They are the Consolidated Revenue Fund, the Loan Fund and the Trust Fund. I do not propose to say anything about those funds this morning. I mention them now because it is essential that honorable senators should know - I am sure they are fully seised of the position - why provision is made in the Estimates for an Advance to the Treasurer.
I have already mentioned the question of appropriation. We now have before us a proposed vote, “ Advance to the Treasurer, £16,000,000”. One might ask why there should be such a thing as a vote for the Department of the Treasury when we have before us estimates covering proposed expenditure by every department, and providing for every known financial contingency during the present financial year and why the Treasurer is now asking for a special advance.
Perhaps this can best be explained, Mr. Chairman, by referring to the bill which we are now considering. I think that when most of us get to work on the Estimates we forget that we are dealing with a bill. It is stated on the first page that this is a bill for an act -
To grant and apply out of Consolidated Revenue Fund sums for the service of the year ending the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-eight, and to appropriate the Supplies granted by the Parliament for that year.
I mentioned a while ago that we work on an annual appropriation. What I have quoted is not a preamble but part of the bill itself.
In order to connect the quotation with what I have said, honorable senators will notice that the explanation given for the proposed vote, “ Advance to the Treasurer, £16,000,000” in Division No. 232 is that it is -
To enable the Treasurer to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year, and to make moneys available to meet expenditure particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament, or, pending the issue of a warrant of the Governor-General specifically applicable to the expenditure.
It is common knowledge to all honorable senators present that on occasions we deal with supplementary estimates and that sometimes we have dealt with supplementary estimates two and three years after the money has been spent. Some may ask, “ How does that come about? Why is it possible for the Senate, which is an integral part of the Parliament, to deal with supplementary estimates after the money has been spent? “ I wish to explain the reason for that, and in doing so I shall quote a legal opinion on the question of whether it is essential for supplementary estimates covering amounts which have already been expended to be submitted to this Parliament. It does seem odd that the Parliament is asked to give up its time to considering estimates of expenditure when the money has already been spent.
– It is ridiculous.
– That would appear so on the face of it. This is the legal opinion to which I have referred -
All the money that is expended under the Treasurer’s Advance has been drawn from the Treasury under appropriation made by law, namely, the appropriation for the Treasurer’s Advance. There is no need for the money to be appropriated twice. In fact, I would think it a mistake that money already appropriated should be appropriated again.
If one studies the supplementary Appropriation Act, one sees that it does not purport to appropriate money again. It concedes that the money has already been appropriated, and it says that the money shall be deemed to have been appropriated for certain purposes and services. We know that the wide business activities of all Commonwealth departments require careful scrutiny throughout the year, and especially when estimates of expenditure are submitted to this Parliament. We know that there are occasions when these
Estimates cannot be accurately prepared because of certain contingencies that are not foreseeable or assessable. For instance, floods may occur and, as a result, there may be excessive expenditure in some departments that was not anticipated when the Estimates were prepared. How is such a situation to be dealt with? When certain departments are running short of funds, are we to allow them to exhaust all their resources before we call the Parliament together and pass another supply bill? The Treasurer’s Advance is designed to overcome such a situation. An advance is made lo the Treasurer so that he may make advances to various departments during the financial year. This procedure is legally sound. Section 36 of the Audit Act specifically refers to it. I shall not read the whole of that section, but I shall read section 36a of that act for the benefit of honorable senators -
Expenditure in excess of specific apropriation or not specifically provided for by appropriation may be charged to such heads as the Treasurer may direct provided that the total expenditure so charged in any financial year, after deduction of amounts of repayments and transfers to heads for which specific appropriation exists, shall not exceed the amount appropriated for that year under the head “ Advance to the Treasurer “.
The Constitution itself provides a financial safeguard in that no money shall be spent without having been appropriated by Parliament. That provision was fought for many years ago, and some of us, I think, should be always conscious of it when we deal with departmental estimates. We have before us the Estimates for the current year, and I have explained the purpose of the item “ Advance to the Treasurer “ which appears in those Estimates. The Minister may have something to say on this matter. He may correct me if I am wrong in some respects, but I doubt very much whether he will do so.
I now wish to refer to Division No. 231, Refunds of Revenue. The estimate for this item is £22,000,000. Last year the vote was £22,000,000, and over £18,000,000 of that was spent. Evidently the Treasury knows fairly accurately what its commitments will be under this heading. The details are given on the same page of the schedule, and I shall read them for the benefit of honorable senators, who will be aware, of course, why these refunds are necessary in the business affairs of the
Commonwealth. The footnote on the page in question says that the amounts provided are to be applied by the Treasurer in making refunds of amounts which have been collected but which do not properly belong to revenue, such as - value of postage stamps repurchased by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department; unexpired portion of telephone fees, and of fees for private boxes overpaid under various taxation acts; refunds of tax rebated by the Boards appointed under section 265 of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act and the corresponding sections of the previous act; refund under section 70 o£ the Pay-roll Tax Assessment Act. We know, of course, that the Commonwealth is required throughout the financial year to make many refunds for various reasons, and it is estimated that £22,000,000 will be required this year for these purposes.
– I shall relate my remarks to two matters covered by the group of estimates now before the committee. The first is under Division No. 73, Department of Works, Repairs and Maintenance, and I refer particularly to item 16, Immigration, for which an amount of £210,000 is provided. The second matter is covered by Division No. 126, and concerns employment officers in the Department of Labour and National Service.
The purpose of my remarks is to explain some of the work that is being done in Commonwealth hostels for British immigrants. There have been very many complaints lately that we are not bringing out enough British immigrants, and there have been various complaints by the immigrants themselves about the hostels and the standard of accommodation provided. I am quite convinced that the Government is doing all it can to bring out as many British immigrants as possible. The Government imposes no restrictions as to the number of British immigrants who may come here. Any check imposed is by shortage of shipping and lack of accommodation in Australia. The Government has recently chartered a foreign ship for the purpose of bringing out British immigrants. This vessel is in addition to those that the Commonwealth has already chartered through the Conference lines. I understand that the Government will shortly charter a second foreign vessel. These measures will, I hope, solve our shipping problems, but the accommodation problem is one that is always with us.
As we all know, the Government has Started the Bring-out-a-Briton campaign in an endeavour to stimulate interest in Australian sponsors of British migrants. We can bring more of them out here if the Australian people will provide accommodation. If honorable senators are sincere in their approach to this question they must all inform themselves on the nature of the accommodation problem. We have seen from time to time in newspapers complaints by British immigrants. The press is never too ready to publicize the constructive side of the work that is being done by Commonwealth Hostels Limited. I have before me an article written by the chief of staff of one of our Adelaide newspapers which has recently published a great many adverse criticisms by British immigrants. This chief of staff was recently in England, and spent a great deal of his time amongst intending migrants, both in Australia House and outside it, finding out whether they had been given complete information as to employment and accommodation opportunities in Australia. His findings are so important that I shall read a few extracts from the article: -
I came away firmly convinced that those who complain either don’t listen to what is told them by interviewing officers, or don’t read the printed material supplied them, don’t absorb the contents of official departmental letters, and sign statements without knowing their contents.
The article further states -
There is a waiting list of tens of thousands-
That is, at Australia House. It continues -
That in iteslf is a good reason why Australia House migration officials need not paint unnecessarily glowing pictures to induce people to move.
The Commonwealth Government sponsors British migrants when it thinks it can reasonably fit them into employment vacancies and accommodate them in Commonwealth hostels. That means that mainly skilled artisans are sponsored. We know that other intending migrants are frequently white-collar people who want clerical jobs, which are not easy to find. The Australian people must be responsible for providing accommodation and finding jobs for that class of immigrant.
The Commonwealth Government sponsors as many people as possible, brings them out, and normally tries to find positions for them. An employment officer meets the ships and endeavours to meet the requirements of the migrants as soon as possible. I suggest that that service be extended a little, and that an employment officer could go to the hostels for the purpose of trying to place women in parttime or temporary employment. 1 am thinking in particular of domestic employment. Outside people could let the employment officers- know that they could take women on a part-time basis. That would solve a lot of problems in the hostels where women are bored and want to earn more money to assist their families to get alternative accommodation.
This press article also refers to a conversation with a migrant who was about to leave England for Australia. He was asked, “ Aren’t you concerned at not knowing just where you are going, where you will be working, and where you will be living?” He replied, “ I know what is involved. I have been into every aspect of the Bring-out-a-Briton scheme and I can see how difficult it is for the authorities to have everything fixed before we leave “. He added, “ South Australia appeals to me as a progressive, growing State and it has a housing scheme which provides more chance for us to get our own home than those of the other States “.
At this stage, some figures would be interesting. I asked the hostels for information showing the number of people who were moving into houses. In the month of August, at the Finsbury hostel, where 2,000 migrants are housed, 142 moved in and 195 moved out to other accommodation. At the Glenelg hostel, where 600 migrants are housed, 78 moved in and 96 moved out. At Smithfield, 43 moved in and 47 moved out. I am told that there is a complete turn-over of the hostel intake every 10 months. So it does not seem that it is as difficult for them to obtain housing as we are led to believe.
The migrant referred to in this press article was further asked, “ Have you been told of the problems of housing and employment? “ Without any hesitation he replied, “ I feel we have been given a fair account of the prospects. I have been told I will be offered employment in keeping with my qualifications. I have no fears there. Ob housing, I know we may not go straight into a home, and may have to live in a hostel. We have been told that quite definitely, and we are prepared to take it.” This man and bis wife said they had no illusions about hostel life.
I shall refer now to some of the facilities that are provided in the hostels. I congratulate the management of the hostels upon having provided these facilities, and through the management the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), because it is to him that the hostels are answerable. Some of the complaints that are made relate to the tariff. A man with a wife and three children pays £10 3s. 6d. a week. The tariffs are graduated according to the number of children a man has. I quote one further example; a man with four children must be left with £4 10s. out of whatever wage he is receiving.
The type of accommodation that is provided in the hostel is frequently criticized. At the present time, no sitting rooms are provided. That was the subject of a recommendation from the Immigration Advisory Council. Foreign migrants had no sitting rooms and were housed under less favorable conditions, so it was recommended that British migrants should be told in England that sitting rooms would not be available for them. That recommendation wa» acted upon. Press reports such as I have seen to the effect that a man and wife with four children have been forced to put all their children into one room are completely inaccurate. Parents who so choose are permitted to put young children into one bedroom so they may use one bedroom as a sitting room. That is frequently done, and, if possible, the hostel authorities provide the furniture for the sitting room.
Complaints have been made about the food. I frequently visit the hostels, and I know that there is always a choice of food. At breakfast, there is a choice of cereals and two hot dishes. At lunch, these people may have soup and a choice of two meats and a sweet. Those who take cut lunches, the cost of which is included in their tariff, have a choice of 27 different varieties. For dinner, there is soup and a choice of two hot dishes and two sweets. There is no limit on the amount of food they may eat; they may have as many servings as they wish.
I have read reports about delinquency in the hostels. I cannot understand why thai should be so, because, first, a child minding centre is provided at which mothers can leave their young children from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the payment of 12s. a week for one child, or 19s. a week for two children. Those children are fed and cared for by trained people. The mother is free to go out and earn money to help the family to obtain other accommodation. In addition, youth leaders are provided by some hostels from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. They supervise all kinds of team games and indoor sports. Moreover, picture shows are arranged on four nights a week. A weekly dance also is arranged. I cannot see how there can be a delinquency problem when all those facilities are provided. Far more is done for the people in these hostels than is done outside for our own people.
– I wish to refer to the estimates foi the Department of the Army. I am doing so because we do not want a repetition of what took place on Tuesday last when the proposed votes for the Department of Air, the Department of Supply and the Department of Defence Production, amounting to £58,021,000, £15,318,000, and £12,372,000 respectively were agreed to without one honorable senator having an opportunity to speak on them.
– That was the wish of the committee.
– The Minister was one of the culprits. Several honorable senators spoke on the proposed vote for the Department of Primary Industry, but the important defence votes were passed over in half a minute. All the primary producers in this chamber spoke for the whole day on a vote involving less than £2,000,000. The total vote for defence is the biggest vote in the Estimates, and honorable senators should have the fullest opportunity to criticize or to express their views on it.
The defence of this country is not the responsibility of one man or one party. Party politics should not enter into the question. The defence of Australia is the business of every citizen of the country.
Some honorable senators who served overseas in the Royal Australian Air Force attained such a rank as would fit them to make very valuable contributions to a debate on the estimates for the Department of Air, if they had the opportunity to speak. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) would then be able to pass on the valuable information obtained to the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne), who could transmit it to the department. 1 desire to speak briefly on the estimates for the Department of the Army, which total £57,389,000. When we arrived in the chamber this morning we found on our tables a document entitled “ Explanatory Memorandum on Army Estimates 1957-58 “, which was presented with the compliments of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer). We have not yet had an opportunity of perusing this document thoroughly, but a brief examination of it has shown me that it contains very valuable information which we have all been seeking. It has been made available to us only on the very day that wc are discussing the estimates for this department.
A sum of £22,297,000 is sought for the pay and maintenance of the Regular Army. The document provided by the Minister for the Army shows the various groups in which the members of the Australian Regular Army are located, so it will not now be necessary for me to ask a number of questions on this subject which I had intended to ask.
– Ask the Minister where the Regular Army is located.
– It is not in Australia; I know that. In the past we have always regarded the Army as a major component of the defence forces, but in view of the scientific progress that has been made the Army has outlived its usefulness in many ways. I do not think that we will have a repetition of the trench warfare of the first world war. The second world war was a different type of war altogether. I believe that trench warfare, with the use of rifles, hand grenades and bayonets, is finished. Instead of front lines being 100 yards apart, they will be thousands of miles apart, as they were in some instances in the war against the Japanese. The bases of our enemy will be many miles away from this country.
Australia, unfortunately, has played a prominent part in two major wars and I venture to say that its progress has thereby been retarded for 50 years. We are only a young country, striving to develop. When our population was about 6,000,000 people, the cream of our young men went to the first world war and many of them did not return. We had a similar experience in the second world war. Those honorable senators who have had the opportunity of visiting New Guinea have seen the war cemeteries at Lae and Port Moresby, which contain the graves of many thousands of young Australians. Amongst them, boys of eighteen and nineteen years of age predominated. They can never be replaced. The memorandum shows that during the year the Regular Army had an average strength of 20,800.
– Are there not more officers than men?
– I think there are. 1 cannot understand the discrepancy between the information in the memorandum and that which appears in the Estimates. The latter shows that the Australian Regular Army consists of 26,000 personnel. Lance corporals, privates, gunners, sappers, and drivers total 13,622. Officers and noncommissioned officers total 12,378, so the number of lance corporals, privates, Stc., exceed the number of officers and noncommissioned officers by only 1,244. There are 2,883 officers, each of whom is entitled to a batman. We therefore subtract 2,883 privates from the total and we find that 10,739 lance corporals, privates, &c, remain.
– Take away the number you first thought of, and you will be right.
– The honorable senator should look at the figures for himself. Of the total of 26,000, lance corporals, privates, gunners, sappers and drivers, excluding batmen, number only 10,739. I should like the Minister to tell us the number of privates, quite apart from the sappers, drivers, and lance corporals, because the privates are the ones who do the work. It seems to me to be an Army of “ brass hats “. That is all that it amounts to.
– Gunners and sappers are equivalent to privates.
– Senator Kendall should concentrate on the men in the Navy, because that is the service in which he has had so much experience. We cannot escape the implications of the figures. I should say that of the 10,739 lance corporals, privates, gunners, sappers and drivers, there would be about 6,000 privates. Therefore, we have 12,378 officers and non-commissioned officers controlling about 6,000 privates. There would be just about enough privates to do all the fatigue work around the camps.
I shall not speak at any length on this matter, but I want to ask one or two questions about our defence projects. We have heard that quite a lot is being done in regard to munitions and rifles. I understand that there is to be a complete changeover from the .303 rifle. Can the Minister tell us what advice the Government has received from its advisers, and what rifle the Army is going to use? 1 understand that the 25-pounder gun also is to be replaced by an American weapon. We would be very unwise to go to the expense of producing a new rifle. In the last war the rifle was useless. Many men returned without having fired a shot from their rifles, for the quick firing sub-machine gun or Bren gun was invariably used. If we came to grips again with the enemy the story would be the same. The .303 rifle has served us well for many years, and the barrels produced at Lithgow are second to none. After World War I., I was a member of a rifle club and soon found that the Lithgow barrel was as good as any that could be imported from England. Now the Government proposes to scrap the machinery used to produce the .303 rifle, and its ammunition, at such factories as Lithgow, Maribyrnong, Finsbury and Welshpool. Millions will be spent in tooling up for new weapons - and even then the Government will be unsure of their adequacy. What is behind this huge expenditure?
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I wish to refer to Division No. 223 - Miscellaneous Services - Department of Trade, item 3, “Trade PublicityUnited Kingdom, £300,000”, and item 4, “ Trade Publicity - other than United Kingdom, £110,000”. I have wondered for some time just what our various trade representatives throughout the world do. A short time ago 1 directed the attention of the Senate to the fact that though some New Zealand second-grade meat was being sold in Japan as Australian meat, our trade commissioner in Japan was not aware of it until he read of it in the “ Auckland Star “, a New Zealand newspaper. To me that seems outrageous. I presume that our trade commissioners are paid adequately. They should surely be able to watch such matters, and pass information speedily to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen).
The proposed vote of £300,000 for trade publicity in the United Kingdom may be quite appropriate, but I should imagine that in all the other countries in which we are represented the expenditure of a sum only one-third as great - £110,000 - is hardly adequate if we are to foster trade. We have lost to France, the United States of America and Canada, two-thirds of our flour trade with countries to the north of Australia, and our trade with other countries is also threatened. It behoves our representatives to watch our interests keenly. The Parliament should receive periodical reports from the trade commissioners in the various parts of the world. We could then learn how much of our produce was being sold in particular countries, and whether defects in packaging, for example, contributed to inadequate sales. We frequently hear complaints that other countries do not like the way in which our products are presented. Some people may not like tinned jam. Others may not be attracted by the labels that we use on our preserved fruits and jams. Such matters should immediately be brought to our attention.
During the first world war, when I was in England, English buyers wanted their preserved fruits and jam in bottles, not tins. It is all very well to say, “ It makes no difference “, but if people want glass containers we must supply them. At all events, our trade representatives should periodically forward a review of the local position to the Minister for Trade. These reviews could be collated, and presented to the Parliament. We could then be kept up to date, do anything necessary to rectify defects and popularize our products. After all, our greatest concern at the moment is the maintenance of exports at satisfactory levels.
A few weeks ago I heard a broadcast interview with a representative of the Graziers Federal Council of Australia on the subject of the exportation of merino sheep. This gentleman concluded by saying that the question of lifting the embargo on their exportation was being referred to the Minister. This is a very serious matter. I obtained a copy of the script of the interview and learned that one reason given for seeking the lifting of the embargo was that Australia could not meet the demand for wool. I have not heard a more ridiculous statement for many a long day. I remember the late Sir Clive Steele saying, during the course of a lecture at the University of Melbourne, that, if necessary, Australia could produce another 1,000,000 bales of wool. That was a very conservative estimate. Perhaps I might give an illustration of what I mean. Last week I was anxious to look at the effect on the country of the present dry spell, and travelled to and from Sydney by train. I saw stock grazing in the paddocks, but came to the conclusion that they must be equipped with some kind of grass magnet to enable them to get at the very short herbage. I was particularly struck by the condition of two properties. They had been top-dressed and carried an abundant growth of green fodder. Obviously, the example had not been followed in other places. Generally speaking, no effort had been made to conserve or promote pasture growth. If it had, I have no doubt that properties even within 50 miles of Canberra would be able to carry two to three times the stock they were carrying. Greater sheep-carrying capacity must immediately bring with it greater wool production. In Western Australia one sees a very clear illustration of this. In some districts carrying capacity has increased in the last ten years by 60 per cent., 70 per cent, and even 90 per cent. The weight of fleece per sheep has increased by 60 per cent, or 70 per cent. - from an average of 7 lb. to an average of 10 lb. or 11 lb. If the growing of pastures is intensified, wool production can be increased by more than 1,000,000 bales. We could then go much closer to supplying the world’s needs. To suggest that we could not is utter nonsense.
The representative of the graziers’ council was also asked whether the exporting of merino sheep might lead to our being pushed out of the wool market. He made the assertion that the wool they would be able to produce would not be comparable in quality with our wool. I think that is a fallacy. Anybody who has studied the sheep industry will remember the picture of the first ram that was brought to Australia. I think it was the Rambouillet ram. It was more like a goat than a sheep. But that was only a start. Our wool-growers experimented and improved the quality of our sheep and our wool. There is no reason why other countries, if they bought Australian rams, which have been brought to such a state of perfection, could not improve tha quality of their sheep greatly. There is an old saying, “ If you have a good thing, stick to it “. I cannot see that there would be any sense in exporting our sheep to other countries so that those countries could improve the quality of their flocks and become competitors with us in the wool markets.
Australia is a long way from the big markets of the world. If countries nearer to those markets imported Australian rams and improved the quality of their sheep, they would undoubtedly cut into our overseas markets. Consequently, we should endeavour to preserve our position as a producer of high-grade wool. I think it was Senator Kendall who told us that a wool-grower had informed him that, if we exported merino rams, we should not feel the effect of that during the next 25 years. I am afraid that in advocating the lifting of the embargo on the export of merino sheep, some people are seeking only a personal advantage for themselves during the next few years. They are more concerned with getting high prices for exported sheep - wonderfully high prices are offered at present - than with preserving our markets for high-grade wool as far as possible.
In view of the fact that representations will be made to the Government to lift this embargo, I enter an emphatic protest against that being done. I hope the Government will not consider a lifting of the embargo unless there is an overwhelming vote by the wool-growers in favour of lifting it. I should, of course, bow to that, because probably the wool-growers have a better knowledge of the subject than I have at present. However, from all the information that I have been able to glean, I think il would be a false move to lift the embargo. I hope that if any application is made to lift it, that application will not be granted.
,- I refer to Division No. 232, Advance to the Treasurer, for which an appropriation of £16,000,000 is sought. Senator Benn gave us a very clear explanation of the purposes of the Advance to the Treasurer, and I think we all understand them now. I should like the Minister to give me some information about the expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer in 1956-57 of £1,388,264 in respect of business undertakings. That expenditure is referred to on page 7 of the report of the Auditor-General for the year ended on 30th June, 1957. 1 shall be interested to know what business undertakings were involved and how the money was repaid. 1 shall direct the remainder of my remarks to the proposed vote for the Department of Labour and National Service. 1 was very interested in what was said by Senator Buttfield about bringing out British immigrants and providing hosteaccommodation for them. Hostels have provided a knotty problem for the Department of Labour and National Service for some time. A few years ago, Commonwealth Hostels Limited was established, the administration of which, in an oblique sort of way, became the responsibility of the department. I would say that Commonwealth Hostels Limited has provided good accommodation for British immigrants and other immigrants over the years, but when employment opportunities are not so plentiful, numerous disputes occur between the company and its tenants about payment for accommodation. In some cases, people occupying hostel accommodation could not get employment and, therefore, were unable to pay their rent. When that happened, some pressure was brought to bear upon them to remove themselves and their families from the hostels, and later Commonwealth Hostels Limited, the Department of Labour and National Service and the individuals themselves became involved in proceedings, embarrassing to all, for the recovery of money owing.
I think it is essential for the department to take a greater interest in rinding employment, not only for immigrants, but also for all unemployed people in Australia. I suggest that greater emphasis be placed on this important aspect of the work of the department. There can be no doubt that the policy of the Government in relation to national service training has relieved the department of a considerable volume of work, because the number of national service trainees has been reduced considerably. The administration of the lottery system for the selection of young men for training must involve the department in a fair amount of work, but, at a guess, I would say that the new scheme entails only 50 per cent., if that, of the amount of administrative work previously required.
In those circumstances, the department probably can afford to devote more attention to its employment services, especially to vocational guidance for youths with a view to their absorption by industry most effectively. I know that the department does do something in this field already. It employs officers who test the aptitude of boys for certain jobs and it does give a certain amount of assistance in that way. The previous Labour government envisaged that one of the main functions of the department would be to assist in the development of Labour’s scheme for full employment. One of the activities suggested was vocational guidance, so that youths, on leaving school, could take the jobs most suited for them. It would be a good idea if the department were to keep some kind of a statistical register, so that young people could be encouraged to enter essential trades. I know that in some trades apprentices are becoming fewer and fewer, although those trades would be essential to us in time of war and are of great benefit to us in times of peace. I think the Government would do well to insist that the department concentrate, making known to the schools that it intends to do so, on assisting and encouraging in every way possible the placement of youths in essential trades. In that way, our young people would be better served than if they were allowed to drift unguided into the labour market.
If the department found employment for people, the Government would be recouped to a certain degree because it would be relieved of the need to pay the unemployment benefit. The figures over the previous twelve months have not been pleasing. They have fluctuated somewhat, and, in the opinion of the Opposition, they are not satisfactory. It would appear that this department has undergone a considerable change, but we have been furnished with very little information about its reorganization or re-orientation. It is one department that has been affected very severely by the change of the Government’s policy, particularly in relation to national service training and alterations in the industrial sphere. There has been a paucity of .information supplied by the Government in this connexion. That is regrettable. A full statement should be made in relation to the working of this department - in view of the changed policy of the Government as to the industrial responsibility of the department - the service it provides in the employment field, and the general assistance provided towards maintaining a state of full employment in Australia.
, - 1 should like to reply, as far as I am able to do so, before the sitting is suspended for lunch, so that I can clear the deck for the afternoon’s proceedings. 1 shall deal with the notes that I have made as I come to them, and I would appreciate the forbearance of the Chair if I do nol deal with the matters that have been raised in an orderly and logical way.
I shall deal, first, with the point that was made by Senator Cooke, who expressed an opinion about the policy of the Department of Labour and National Service. I know that this is an aspect in which he takes a great interest. To my recollection, he has spoken on it in previous years. However, the honorable senator has expressed opinions on matters of policy and I leave the responsible Minister to take appropriate note of the views that the honorable senator has expressed on policy matters.
The amount of £1,383,664 which proved a little elusive at the time attention was drawn to it, is provided from the Advance to the Treasurer. It is charged, in accordance with section 36a of the Audit Act, to the appropriate head of expenditure. The details of the amount of £1,388,264 for Business Undertakings are shown in the Statement of Expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer, which was recently tabled in another place by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) and is listed on the noticepaper of that place for discussion.
– It is to be discussed in another place?
– Yes. I am not as au fait as I should be with this procedure but as I understand the position, it is a new procedure that is being adopted in accordance with the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee; and the next port of call of this statement which has been’ tabled in the other place will be this chamber, when we will be able to discuss this new procedure in lieu of the introduction of supplementary estimates. The matter will come before us in due course.
Senator Seward mentioned the export of merino sheep. I have no comment to make other than to say that I have no knowledge of any change of government policy in that matter. I add the observation that I know of no reason to anticipate that there will be a change of policy. It is a matter of some importance. I think that the present procedure and the present arrangements are well accepted and well regarded.
Senator Seward also discussed the Trade Commissioner Service. This is an expanding service; the expenditure now is at the rate of £1,000,000 a year. The main comment that he offered, in my recollection, was that perhaps there should be an annual report of the activities of the trade commissioners. I very much doubt whether that would be necessary and whether it would serve a useful purpose, because the trade commissioners, from the nature of their activities, make quick decisions and quick reports on particular projects, and naturally the majority of their reports, which are of public interest, are broadcast through the appropriate trade journals and through the publications of the department itself. I think that speed is of the essence of the contract. It might be useful to have an annual report on what the trade commissioners are doing, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and whether they are making good contacts and getting good results can be gauged by the information they are sending back to Australia.
asked for information about the replacement of the .303 rifle by the FN rifle. The FN rifle is the standard new rifle that has been adopted by the United Kingdom forces and the Nato countries. The ammunition is standard ammunition in the Nato countries and the U.S.A. That is a very important aspect. The FN rifle has a more rapid rate of fire than the .303 rifle, so that it is possible to get greater firing power from a smaller number of soldiers. It is a semi-automatic weapon of the type that is now being adopted by all armies. The Small Arms Factory at Lithgow will manufacture the FN rifle. The factory is at present in the process of being made ready. Orders will provide employment at Lithgow for a number of years. The first deliveries are expected in 1959.
Senator Benn spoke about the procedures under Divisions Nos. 231 and 232, upon which my principal comment is that the factual content of his speech proclaims his membership of the Public Accounts Committee and the fact that, in that position, he has obviously given a good deal of thought to the technicalities of the matter. He mentioned the need for a vote such as Advance to the Treasurer to meet unexpected expenditure. He also quoted a legal opinion of the Parliamentary Draftsman supporting a proposal to substitute a Statement of Expenditure from Advance to the Treasurer for a supplementary appropriation bill. Again, that is a matter that the Government is proceeding with. There is at the moment upon the business paper’” of the other House a motion that was moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). The adjournment of the debate was obtained by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). So the points that Senator Benn made are being well covered by the Government in the procedures that it is adopting. I think that I have answered the points in Senator Benn’s speech that need answering.
Senator Buttfield told us something of the hostels that come under the administration of the Department of Labour and National Service. Senator Harris, in addition to the specific matters that I have mentioned, gave an analysis of certain figures and made some general observations. It is difficult for a Minister, when replying, to differentiate between the points upon which an honorable senator wants an answer, and his personal opinions.
.- I direct the attention of the committee to Division No. 126 - Department of Labour and National Service - Administrative - item 2, “ Boards of Reference under Stevedoring Industry Act - Fees and other expenditure, £700 “. The only expenditure with which we are concerned in connexion with this item is £700. If we were not mindful of the fact that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority was financed by a special appropriation, we could be misled by this item of £700 as to the demands of the authority upon public moneys.
Honorable senators will recall that, after considerable contention, a new authority was set up to continue this rather anomalous organization of the waterfront. As a result, the waterfront industry became more galvanized under government control. Control of labour on the waterfront thus came primarily under the aegis of a governmentappointed authority with Mr. J. M. Hewitt as chairman. Among other clients, waterfront labour loads ships of the Australian National Line, which is under the beneficent control of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge).
Now, thanks to the vigilance of the Auditor-General, to whom I express my gratitude once more, we have a supplementary report in which that officer refers to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. This supplementary report has become available to honorable senators just as we are considering the Estimates. 1 had an opportunity to consult it for the first time only last week. In paragraph 40 of his supplementary report, the AuditorGeneral has placed on record a few facts concerning the authority which, in my opinion, challenge the explanation that has been given by the Minister.
The Auditor-General has pointed out that, under the Stevedoring Industry Charge Act which was approved by this Parliament last April or May, the waterfront pay-roll tax, which is a special levy on the waterfront, was increased from the high figure of ls. 7d. a man-hour to 2s. a man-hour. I wish to be quite fair about this matter, and so I remind the committee that the increase did not start from the base figure of ls. Id. It began from the base figure of a year or two earlier when the tax was 6d. a man-hour.
I remind honorable senators that an award by Mr. Justice Ashburner, which was specially designed to coincide with the establishment of this new stevedoring authority, was intended to promote some inducement to waterside workers to get to work. In June of 1956, Mr. Justice Ashburner increased the hourly rate of pay on the waterfront by 8d. from 9s. 2d. to 9s. lOd. lt will be recognized, therefore, that the waterfront pay-roll tax - a special, super, waterfront pay-roll tax which has been fixed at 2s. a man-hour - now comprises almost 20 per cent, of the pay-roll. It must be understood that this tax was intended to cover, not merely attendance money, but also payments for sick leave and public holidays - two additional provisions which were included in the award by Mr. Justice Ashburner.
The alarming fact is that, in the year ended August 1956, while the income of the Stevedoring Industry Authority increased from £990,000 to £1,932,000, expenditure increased from £l,i 15,000 to £3,315,000. The result was that the annual deficit of the authority increased from £125,000 to £1,383,000.
I pause here to consider the implications of this problem. When the committee is considering an aggregate expenditure of £1,300,000,000, the mention of a mere £1,383,000 might lead one to a false sense of the insignificance of this item. But we have to realize that this individual item concerns an industry which is more vital in its impact upon the industrial life of this Commonwealth than the numerical strength of the Waterside Workers Federation would indicate. In that context, this figure of £1,383,000 is astounding.
I take leave, therefore, to challenge the Minister for an explanation of this matter so that we shall be informed whether, in the opinion of the Minister, more rigorous efforts should be made to correct the drift in the finances of this stevedoring industry authority. It is quite obvious that any loss in this industry must increase freights, retard the shipment of timber and wither the prospects of the Tasmanian potato-growers get ting their spuds to the Sydney market. It is obvious that this is the reason for an increase in overseas shipping freights to which I referred last night, and that it is causing an increase in costs which the shippers’ committee of the Australian Overseas Transport Association feels unable to challenge. The result has been an increase of 14 per cent, in the freight on a case of apples shipped from Tasmania to the United Kingdom which involves, in cash, an increase of almost ls.
Honorable senators will realize that, because of restrictions on our import trade, we must expect, naturally, a reduction of the calls on waterfront labour. Some sections of the Waterside Workers Federation claim that, even with attendance money for the breaks when there is no call for labour, they are not being adequately paid. But I have before me the figures for the port of Hobart for the weeks from 7th January, 1957, to 16th September, 1957. These show that the average time worked by the waterside workers reached the “ convenient “ figure of 22.71 hours a week. That is not too bad.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 pm.
– Before the suspension for luncheon, I was referring to the fact that figures for the period January to September, 1957, show that the average hours worked each week by waterside workers were 22.71. That is the official time of recorded work, not necessarily the time actually worked. The average weekly net earnings for that period were £13 18s. 2d. When attendance money, payment for public holidays, and sick pay is included, the average gross earnings were £16 8s. lid. Those figures should be borne in mind in conjunction with the figures to which I directed attention this morning showing that the annual deficit of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June, 1956, had grown from £125,000 to £1,383,000.
There are two other matters to which 1 should like to make brief reference. They both appear at page 38 of the AuditorGeneral’s Supplementary Report. The Auditor-General calls attention to a fact which was mentioned by Senator Seward this morning, namely, that the operating loss on waterside workers’ cafeterias for the year was £33,982, compared with £25,897 in the previous year. The Auditor-General ^comments -
The Authority regards the loss as part of the cost of providing amenities for waterside workers and it is shown as such in its financial statements.
I mention that because some of the innocent may be misled if they read the financial statement of the Stevedoring Industry Authority, where the well-chosen word “ amenities “ is used as a caption for losses on waterside workers’ cafeterias. It is a <new development in socialistic accountancy.
– Almost as bad as the loss on the dining rooms in Parliament House.
– I shall be interested if the honorable senator will take that matter up also; very interested, indeed.
– I suggest that SenatoWright do it, and I shall support him.
– If Senator Kennelly gives me time and support I shall press for -a thorough investigation. I should like the Minister to pay particular attention to the bottom paragraph on page 38 of the Auditor* -General’s Supplementary Report, where the Auditor-General says that he has reported additional facts about the financial statement, and says -
I have also furnished to him-
That is, the Minister - -such additional information as is of sufficient importance to justify reference to him.
Well, I have a very suspicious mind, I know, but when I see language in that form I like to know what it means, because it seems to me that this matter has ricochetted from the Auditor-General back to the Minister, without going through Parliament direct. It may be that the matter has no interest for us in Parliament, but I should like to know the general nature of the information that has been reported to the Minister and not included in the report to the Parliament.
.- I desire to obtain, if I may, some information with regard to the Department of Trade. Honorable senators will recollect that in May last year the Senate passed the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Act, and I understand from the answer to a question asked hy me that the corporation’s maximum liability under commitments already entered into was then £850,000. 1 do not want to be unfair and recall that the Minister, when he was submitting the bill, painted a glowing picture of the corporation handling business worth £100,000,000 a year. I hope that the Minister’s expectations will be fulfilled, but I do not know when that is likely to happen. Admittedly, there was some trouble getting the staff of this export corporation together, and so we can hope that, in future years at least, some benefit in keeping with the Minister’s hopes will be derived. I should like to know what liability has been accepted by this corporation, what goods were exported under it, and to what countries they were exported.
– Under the heading Division No. 85, Department of Trade - “ Administrative Expenses, £1,050,000”, I desire to refer to the Export Payments Insurance Corporation, which is administered by the Department of Trade. I understand that that corporation has been incorporated under the act of 1956, which came into operation on 17th July of that year. For the benefit of the Senate I refer to the Auditor-General’s Supplementary Report, at page 25. As the Senate well knows, the act provides -
That the Corporation shall carry on the business of insurance, the contracts to be limited to those with, or for the benefit of, persons carrying on business in Australia, and the risk insured against to be that of monetary loss or monetary detriment attributable to circumstances outside the control of the person suffering the loss or detriment and resulting from failure to receive payment in connexion with, or otherwise arising out of, acts or transactions in the course of or for the purpose of trade with countries outside Australia.
I compliment the department on its imagination in dealing with such contracts as this. According to the Auditor-General’s report, no actual contracts had been written to 30th June, 1957, although the whole organization appeared to be well-geared to undertake such contracts.
I should like to ask the Minister to indicate to the Senate whether contracts have been negotiated since 1st July. I feel that if Australia is to become a great trading nation we must enter into contracts with other nations, and at the same time people in this country who sell to the nationals of other countries should have some way of insuring against certain risks inherent in foreign trade. The department should be congratulated on getting this corporation going. It has taken rather an unusual length of time to get the organization ready-
– That is somewhat of an understatement.
– Yes, perhaps it is. I should like to ask whether there is an office in Adelaide to which merchants of that city, as well as exporters, could go for information, and for the writing of policies of insurance under this scheme. I urge upon the Minister the desirability of making readily available for circulation amongst commercial interests, a booklet setting out in brief the purposes of the corporation and giving some idea of the tariffs that it will charge.
I commend the Minister for issuing throughout Australia a booklet entitled “ Developments in Australian Manufacturing Industries “. I understand that it will be circulated freely by the Department of Trade. For the information of honorable senators, I point out that it is divided into a number of chapters. The first main chapter is headed “ Processed Materials “ and lists the various companies and organizations in Australia which deal with processed materials. Opening the booklet at random, I find another chapter headed “ Building Materials and Fittings “ and a further chapter headed “ Machinery, Equipment, Engineering Products “. Under these headings are listed the various firms which are doing so much in manufacturing those products in Australia. This is a most desirable booklet and I hope that it will be circulated throughout the world. We are on the verge of a great era, in which we will be attracting capital from other parts of the world, and it is most important that other countries should have available lists such as those contained in this neatly indexed and neatly chaptered compendium. I commend the department for making this booklet available. I should like the Minister to answer the question I raised on the Export Payments Insurance Corporation in South Australia.
Senator SPOONER (New South WalesMinister for National Development) [2.27J. - In view of the strength of the criticism or observations made by Senator Wright, I feel that I should reply to them at this stage. If I can do so in the time allotted to me, I shall also make some observations on other points that have been raised.
The main point to be borne in mind in any consideration of the accounts of the Stevedoring Authority is that its commitments and expenses are entirely beyond its control. They flow from decisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and include such matters as the payment of attendance money, sick leave and statutory holidays. As in other industries, efficiency on the waterfront has improved, due to increased mechanization and the use of other labour-saving devices. Smaller gangs are being used and are doing the work that was previously done by larger gangs. This has happened in a comparatively short period of time. As a result of this improvement in efficiency and of a good spell of dry weather, which has not caused broken time, more men are available on the waterfront than are actually required.
The next point that comes in, I hope, logical sequence is that the responsibility does not rest on the authority to reduce the number of registered employees. The 1956 legislation deliberately placed on the union or the employers the responsibility of initiating the procedure to dispense with excess workers. Section 32 of that legislation provides that, where the number of registered waterside workers exceeds the port quota and the union or the employers request the authority to take action, the authority can cancel or suspend the registration of excess waterside workers. I am trying to put the facts in some sort of sequence, but I hope the committee will realize that I am putting them against the background that these problems have not passed unnoticed by the authority or by the responsible Minister. As in other industries, waterfront employment is passing through what might be to some extent a stage of transition and these matters would be out of perspective if too harsh a judgment were made on the facts and figures as they are at present. The fact is - and it is a fact to be thought about because there are always two sides to every industrial problem - that neither an employer nor the union has asked the authority to reduce the number of registered waterside workers, despite the fact that the authority and the department have initiated discussions on the topic.
To some extent, the situation is in a state of flux. The Department of Labour and National Service, as distinct from the authority, has made inquiries, not only in Australia, but also overseas. The Minister and the department are not treating the position lightly; they are concerned about it. The increase in the stevedoring industry charge from 6d. to ls. 7d. and to 2s., the transfer by the court to the authority of liability for attendance money, plus payment for long service leave and sick leave have all created a complex situation, and the authority is being asked to expedite its report on its initial period of operation up to 30th June, 1957. My information is that the discussions that are occurring between all the interested parties - the authority, the union and the proprietors - may result in a reconsideration of some of the existing arrangements.
A good deal of criticism has been made about the loss incurred by the cafeteria, but all these things follow a pattern. The figures quoted by Senator Wright indicate a decrease in employment and attendances, and that is reflected not only by greater commitments in respect of attendance money but also unfortunately by greater losses in the cafeteria. That matter also has to be taken into account in the general reconstruction.
I ask the committee to bear kindly with this position for a while. I do not accept Senator Wright’s view about the AuditorGeneral’s comment; I direct his attention to the final paragraph of the AuditorGeneral’s report which indicates a clean certificate. The authority’s statement of assets and liabilities has been examined and fairly reflects the state of affairs. The Auditor-General is required to report the result of the inspection and audit and direct the Minister’s attention to any irregularity. The advice given to the Minister on this occasion did not disclose any irregularity but merely indicated in some detail that the accounts and records of the authority were in order and showed fairly its financial operations and affairs. I do not blame the honorable senator for querying the last sentence-
– It never occurred to my mind that there had been any wrong doing, but I felt some information should be available. I was not imputing wrongdoing to anybody.
– I did not think the honorable senator was imputing any wrongdoing to anybody but was saying, in effect, that there might be items in the AuditorGeneral’s certificate which merited more attention and publicity than they received. However, I viewed it from the angle that the Auditor-General said, in effect, “ Here is a clean certificate. I have no criticism to offer but I am bringing to the attention of the Minister some other things that I do not feel are of sufficient importance to make public.” That is confirmed by the advice I have received since I commenced to speak. Here is a comparatively new governmental authority engaged in a most provocative and controversial field of operations. Only recently established, it meets, almost immediately following its establishment, a set of conditions that are unusual, namely, a falling off in business as a result of import restrictions, increased efficiency and the need for fewer men due to improved working conditions and weather conditions. These facts are within the knowledge of the authority and the responsible Minister. Discussions are proceeding at the moment, and there is a definite assurance that the annual report of the authority is being expedited as much as possible. When completed, that report will be tabled in Parliament and thus a further opportunity for debate will be afforded if the proposals accompanying the report do not meet with the approval of honorable senators.
.- I should like some information additional to that sought by Senator Seward in respect of the items, “Trade Publicity - United Kingdom, £300,000” and “Trade Publicity - Other than United Kingdom, £110,000”. Each amount represents a marked increase on the amount voted for the preceding year; but the provision will be well justified if the money is wisely spent. However, the two amounts appear to be altogether disproportionate. I am not saying that £300,000 is too much to provide for publicity for Australian products in Great Britain. It may not be enough. Would the Minister inform the committee as to how it is proposed to spend that amount? Will all of it be spent in newspaper advertisements? Hundreds of thousands of pounds are spent by Government departments on newspaper publicity in Australia, and three-quarters of the expenditure is unnecessary. The provision of £110,000 for general trade publicity overseas seems insignificant compared with the provision of £300,000 for publicity in the United Kingdom alone, particularly when various countries would no doubt trade with Australia if they were aware of what we have to sell. During my travels overseas I found that very little was known of Australia, due no doubt to the limits placed on Australia’s representatives in regard to publicity and propaganda. In most of the countries I visited, there were no publicity officers from Australia. These were countries in which, in my opinion, vast opportunities existed for expanding our export trade if the people were made aware of the products that Australia had available to export to them.
There is no hope of the people of those countries learning of these matters unless we send publicity officers to launch campaigns advertising Australia’s preparedness to trade with them, and pointing out what she has to offer. Under those circumstances, it seems to me that the provision of £110,000 for the purposes of publicizing Australia’s products in countries other than the United Kingdom is very small indeed. I think the majority of honorable senators will agree with what I say on that point. There may be a good reason for the fixation of this amount. It may be that grants are made, under other headings, to other Australian officers in those countries for publicity purposes, and I shall be interested to hear what the Minister has to say about this matter.
Looking through Division No. 223, I notice that approximately £61,000 was expended last year on six items - Overseas trade missions, special food investigations, dried vine fruits advertising campaign, Export Payments Insurance Corporation, promotion of honey sales, and publicity for berry fruits. Nothing is to be spent on those items this year. What is the reason? Last year, £28,000 was spent on special food investigations. On the face of it, that would seem to be a very important item. It may be that this work has been transferred to another department. The fact is, however,, that no provision appears to be made forall the items on which £61,000 was spent last year. If the Minister has any explanation of this, I suggest we are entitled tohear it.
Even with the reduction of £61,000 towhich I have just referred, the proposed total expenditure for the Department of Trade is to be considerably greater than for last year. It is proposed to expend £423,000, as against £392,000 last year. As I have stated, it may be that sufficient is being expended on trade publicity in countries other than the United Kingdom, but in my opinion insufficient is being madeavailable for this purpose unless publicity is being carried out by officers of other departments who are overseas.
Another matter upon which I should like some information relates to the Department of the Army. Here, I should like to express appreciation of the explanatory notes issued by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer). They have been very helpful indeed. On running quickly through them, I fail to notice any explanation whatsoever of how the proposed expenditure of £330,000 on. recruitment is to be spent. We have no explanation as to what recruiting is to be done. Is this amount to be spent by the Department of the Army on recruiting engineers or mechanics, or is it for the recruitment of volunteers for overseas service? Again, to whom is this money to be paid? As a general rule, when one speaks of recruiting one refers to the recruiting of volunteersduring a time of war. At those times huge sums have been spent by this Government and by other governments of the same political colour on recruiting volunteers to our forces. If this money is to be expended on recruiting volunteers to our permanent forces, then I suggest £330,000 is out of all reason. I should say that if proper conditions were offered, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force would have no difficulty whatever in obtaining recruits to our permanent forces and it would not be necessary to spend £330,000 in this way. If, on the other hand, this money is to be expended on the recruitment of technicians, I remind the Minister for the Army that £330,000 would go a long way towards training technicians already in the Army. If the vote is for technicians, it should not be :shown here as being for recruiting. For those reasons, I should like from the Minister some explanation of this provision of £330,000 for recruiting.
I do not wish to make any comment on the total of £57,389,000 for the Department of the Army because we have varying -opinions as to the part the Army might or might not play in the event of another crisis. Much and all as I appreciate the explanatory notes issued by the Minister for the Army, it is not to be accepted that we on this side agree on the policy outlined by him. I should certainly appreciate a little more explanation of the matters I have mentioned.
Senator PEARSON (South Australia) J2.51]. - I refer to the proposed vote for the Department of the Army, Division No. 157, Rifle Clubs and Associations. I am sure 4he members of rifle clubs throughout Australia appreciate the fact that in the Estimates before us there is provision for an expenditure of £77,000 this year on rifle clubs and associations compared with a vote of £71,600 last year, of which £68,857 was spent.
Not much is heard of these rifle clubs, but I am sure their activities are well known to every honorable senator. I think we all appreciate the fact that they have rendered splendid service to the nation, not only indirectly but also directly. We know of their record, and we know, too, that these clubs comprise men who are very earnest, sincere and loyal people, all of whom have taken the oath or made an affirmation of allegiance. Their record during the last war was most praiseworthy. Many of those who enlisted from the ranks of rifle clubs held high positions in the Army, and I think that four of these won the Victoria Cross.
I do not need to say any more about these men except to mention that rifle clubs have received the greatest commendation from high-ranking people both in Australia and overseas. Our present GovernorGeneral, Field Marshal Sir William Slim, when he was Chief of the Imperial General Staff, highly commended the rifle clubs on one occasion. They have been highly commended also by Field Marshal Montgomery and General Eisenhower.
Some people look upon rifle clubs as organizations which men join purely for the purpose of engaging in sporting activities.
Rifle clubs have a higher value than that, and although the Government sees fit each year to spend thousands of pounds upon them, I point out that these clubs themselves spend a great deal on the purchase of rifles, sights and other equipment. Actually, the capital value of the equipment purchased by rifle clubs has been estimated at not less than £1,500,000.
I am glad to be able to say that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) paid a high tribute to rifle clubs so recently as the eleventh of this month when presenting prizes at the Queen’s Prize Shoot held at Anzac Range in Sydney. I do not intend to quote all that he said, but his remarks did constitute a high tribute to the value of rifle clubs and their members. Amongst other things, he said -
I do want to say to all of you, and particularly if I may to those who are Rifle Club members, that there is no intention at all of the Federal Government doing anything to disturb the Rifle Club Movement. There may be some adjustments that we will have to make, but I really think that when that decision is made every fair-minded man and woman, and riflemen themselves, who I believe are very fair-minded people, should not be so disappointed as some of them think they might be.
But rightly or wrongly, I have gained the impression that members of rifle clubs, not only in my State but also in other States, have a feeling that something is about to happen. They do not know what it will be, but they have expressed concern to me and to members of another place who have addressed themselves to this problem. Unfortunately our riflemen entertain feelings of uncertainty. I asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army a few days ago whether he would confer with his colleague to ensure that no decision was reached by Cabinet before representatives of the rifle clubs movement throughout Australia were consulted. The Minister replied, in effect, that he had no doubt that the Minister for the Army would consult representatives of rifle clubs before making a decision. 1 hope that he will do so. I am not aware of any such consultations having yet taken place. If they have, I am sure the Minister will say so when he replies. I do hope that, as the Minister has said, this valuable rifle clubs movement will not be disturbed by any action which the Minister himself or the Cabinet may have in mind. I accept the assurance of the Minister that from his point of view the members of the clubs have no reason to be unduly disturbed. But the Minister has something in mind. This is evident from the fact that he has referred to the matter. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will have regard to the concern which is felt in rifle clubs, and will take them into his confidence before any decision is reached.
– I wish to make a few observations on the estimates for the Department of Trade, the proposed vote for which is £1,733,000. 1 join forces with Senators Seward and Aylett in deprecating the fact that the amount allocated for trade publicity in countries other than the United Kingdom is only £110,000. It will be interesting to find out just how the £300,000 allocated for trade publicity in the United Kingdom is to be spent. 1 had the opportunity about twelve months ago of observing at first hand the conditions obtaining in Great Britain. I went out of my way - naturally in an unofficial capacity - to ascertain just how Australian trade was being publicized there. A very prominent Australian businessman who has been in London for quite a while has taken a great interest in Australian trade publicity in general and has given me a summary of his observations. I shall let the Senate have the benefit of them, and will interpose some views of my own. The lack of publicity for Australian goods which is so noticeable in Great Britain is, in some instances, the fault of Australian exporters themselves, who could improve their methods of packing and advertising. Let us consider, for instance, canned meats. The quality of this commodity was severely criticized at one time, due to exporters shipping sub-standard packs. Most exporters are taking a longrange view, and the retail trade was improving slightly at the time when my informant reached his conclusion, which was in early 1956. He said, however, that exporters were packing two different grades without any external distinguishing marks on the packs, and that, fairly obviously, some retailers were selling second-grade products as first-grade. Possibly they were doing so without any evil intent, but with no external distinguishing marks on the packs it would be very difficult to discriminate between the various brands.
– They are actuated by profit motives.
– There may be the profit instinct, as the honorable senator has said. Let us now consider Australian wines. We in this chamber, particularly those of us who are from South Australia, frequently speak of the excellent quality of Australian wines. I do not dispute those claims. I do not use these products at any time, but I believe they are very good. In Great Britain, however, it is very difficult to get a good Australian wine. Our wines are generally regarded as being in the cheaper class. Referring again to the observations made by the businessman to whom I have referred, it is his opinion that Australian wines are poorly presented. After some investigation, he has come to the conclusion that chief weaknesses are in labelling and selection of trade names. However, in this case also it was found that an Australian product had lately gained a little more favour overseas, but only on economic grounds, because our wines sell at about 10s. a bottle, compared with about 16s. a bottle for the highergrade wines. Obviously it is the lower price that is attracting the purchasers.
I now refer to our trade in dairy products in the United Kingdom. I went out of my way to visit small shops and ask specifically for Australian butter. If a customer does that, the shopkeeper looks at him as though he is silly. In my case, he would probably be more than half right. Retailers do not display Australian butter as such. In practically every small shop in any part of Great Britain a customer can ask for New Zealand butter and have no difficulty in getting it, with a New Zealand label. I have it on good authority that the butter that goes from this country is put into a pool, and it is sold from the pool without any identifying label. The butter from that pool could be the produce of any country at all. Other dairy products suffer the same disabilities.
Similar remarks apply to Australian carcass meat. I understand that we have a fairly long-term meat agreement with Great Britain, although I do not know when it is due to expire. Taking the long-range view, I believe we should endeavour to popularize our carcass meat in Great Britain. The businessman to whom I have referred, who made extensive inquiries into this matter, told me that he could find no Australian carcass meat in Great Britain, and that he was at a loss to know how our meat was sold there. He said that although he looked in vain for Australian carcass meat labelled as such in British butchers’ shops, there was no difficulty in finding New Zealand or English mutton and lamb, or Scottish, English, Irish or Argentine beef, all distinctively labelled. It is evident, therefore, that we are operating at a grave disadvantage in endeavouring to sell OU] carcass meat.
There should be a very good market in Great Britain for our dried fruits. The criticism in this respect seems to be that the Australian exporters use wooden cases, instead of cardboard containers, and it is contended by the people who import dried fruits that a great deal of the wood that is used in the cases is of poor quality and splinters readily, so that there is always a risk that splinters of wood and nails from the cases will find their way into the fruit. It is suggested that the United States and certain Mediterranean countries have given a lead in the packaging of dried fruits which could be followed with advantage by Australia.
Although I had no difficulty in the United Kingdom in obtaining fresh fruit that had come from Canada, California and other places, I did not once see any Australian fresh fruit, or at least fruit that was branded as Australian.
– At what time of the year was the honorable senator there?
– At different times. I was there in the autumn and also in the summer.
– During which months?
– I was there from March until about August. There are many other matters to which I could refer, but in the short time at my disposal I shall not be able to do so. I mention, however, another matter that is more or less wrapped up with Australian trade publicity overseas. We always are looking for export markets, and I think that we could with advantage adopt a much more dynamic system of advertising. I do not profess to be able to present a blueprint of the way in which the position could be improved, but 1 feel that the centre of Australian trade publicity, at least as it affects Great Britain, must be in Australia House. I appreciate, of course, that all the States have their respective Agents-General in or near London, but I think that Australia House should be the head-quarters for our trade publicity. Any one who has been to Australia House no doubt will agree with me that there is room for very big improvement there. First, it is a cold and uninviting place. The people who are responsible for trade publicity probably are doing the best job that they are able to do in the circumstances, but 1 think that improvement could be effected in the general appearance of Australia House and, more importantly, in the amenities that are provided, not only for traders who may visit London, but also for tourists. Tourists, of course, in an unofficial capacity, often give Australia very favorable advertisement overseas. I endeavoured to do so to the best of my ability, and I think that most people who go abroad from this country try to do the same.
While I was in England I met a businessman who spent most of his time in London representing his Australian firm, and he told me that he would not go near Australia House. That man had extensive business interests in Great Britain and also in some of the European countries.
– Why would he not go there?
– He claimed that he could not get any satisfaction - at least, not the degree of satisfaction that he thought he should be able to derive from his contacts with Australia House. I may say that he was not critical of the employees. I think that this is a matter that the Government might consider. Of course, the Australian High Commissioner has his hands full, apart from trade publicity, and I know that matters . concerned with immigration and many other subjects have to be dealt with at Australia House.
It is not possible for traders or tourists who visit Australia House to obtain light refreshments there. They cannot buy a cup of tea, a postage stamp, or stationery. It is necessary to run the hazards of the Strand traffic to go to a post office to purchase a postage stamp. I believe that Australia House could be made attractive, not only to people in Great Britain, but also to visitors from Australia who could make the place a mecca. If the amenities were improved, our trade publicity campaign would benefit greatly.
I am interested to know how we can expect to achieve much success in the countries other than Great Britain if we provide only £110,000 for trade publicity in those countries. I shall be interested to learn, too, how the £300,000 that is to be provided for trade publicity in the United Kingdom will be expended. I remind the Government that everywhere one goes in London or, for that matter, in the United Kingdom, one finds New Zealand products very widely advertised.
– Many a good Tasmanian lamb is being sold as New Zealand lamb!
– Very likely. As 1 said a while ago, a lot of our produce is being sold under other labels. That is the case, for instance, with Australian butter. On every occasion that I went to a shop that sold dairy produce I asked for Australian butter, but not once did I get it, although it was always possible to buy New Zealand butter. 1 suggest that, as an effective method of trade publicity, and provided that the costs were reasonable, it might be a good thing to purchase a controlling interest in one of the big newspapers of Great Britain - but maybe that would be too socialistic for Senator Wright and other honorable senators opposite. Perhaps we could engage in an extensive newspaper advertising campaign. I make these suggestions to the Government because we are all the time seeking increased export trade, particularly for our primary products. Some of the suggestions I have made may be worthy of consideration by the Government.
– Mr. Chairman-
– What, again! The Minister is taking up more time than all the rest of us together.
– I assure the honorable senator that I have no ambition to do so. I shall be pleased to restrict my remarks to as short a compass as is practicable. I inform those honorable senators who inquired about the Export Payments Insurance Corporation that the corporation isbound to submit a quarterly statement to the Minister, and the Minister is bound to provide a quarterly report. It is expected that the report will be tabled in the Parliament in the very near future, and when that has been done it will provide the answers to the questions that have been asked.
The provision of £330,000 for recruiting covers recruiting expenses for all three, branches of the Services, namely, the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. Such recruiting is carried out by the Commonwealth Loans Organization, which is a governmental instrumentality experienced in advertising campaigns. The purpose of this recruiting is self-evident. It is, of course, to maintain the permanent forces at maximum strength.
– Can the Minister say how much of the expenditure will be on newspaper advertising?
– I shall see whether I can obtain that information.
The provision of £110,000 and £300,000 for publicity has been referred to by several honorable senators and is not an easy matter to deal with. First, let me say that the £300,000 is what might be called a foundation. That is the amount that comes from the Government. In so many cases, particularly where primary products are under the jurisdiction of boards, the amount provided by the Government is supplemented by a grant from a board, and the total is applied to an advertising campaign in respect of an individual primary product. I have not particulars of the way in which the amount is split up, but I think that all honorable senators know that, since the constitution of the Department of Trade, that department has made the greatest effort of which it has been capable by means of an advertising campaign in the United Kingdom, to promote the sale of our primary produce in the United Kingdom and to increase our markets there. From time to time I read with a good deal of interest the results of that campaign in the journal issued by the Department of Trade which also contains a photographic record of the campaign, not only with respect te* wine-
– Do they give people a nip of wine when showing them the grapes?
– I shall have to refer the honorable senator to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) himself for an answer to that question. But the journal’s record, to which I attach a good deal of importance, will show that the campaign has been conducted, not only by means of advertising, but by shop-window displays and special displays in particular areas. The special displays are aimed, for instance, at creating a demand for tinned fruits or something of that kind in a particular town somewhere in the United Kingdom which can serve as a foundation for an increase in the demand in that locality and elsewhere.
– They also make use of house-to-house canvasses.
– Yes. The other sum of £110,000 is a horse of a different colour. It is for expenditure outside the United Kingdom. An honorable senator said that £110,000 must mean spreading the butter pretty thinly. But this is more an appropriation for the purpose of trade fairs, special exhibitions and occasions of that kind in overseas countries.
As well as discussing the United Kingdom generally, Senator Sandford mentioned criticisms of packaging which, I am told, the Department of Trade has examined quite seriously, lt has gone to the length of giving a course of demonstrations in packaging, showing the different types of packaging and the condition of packages on arrival overseas. This has been aimed mainly at creating interest among Australian exporters and giving them a sort of focal point in order to attract increasing attention to that aspect of our export activities.
– I wish to refer to the proposed vote for the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. I asked the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) a question, without notice, in the Senate this morning, and was most interested to receive his reply. I am making it the basis of some observations on the matter of nuclear power for peace-time purposes. I think we should all feel very proud of the splendid efforts of Great Britain in this field. Without doubt, Great Britain has led the world both in research and in the application of atomic science for peaceful purposes. Great Britain is well ahead of its friendly ally, the United States of America, and its not-so-friendly ex-ally, Russia, in this vital field of modern scientific research. I feel that that fact gives Australia at least a wonderful basis for activity along similar lines. I invite the Minister for National Development, when considering any remarks that he might make in reply to honorable senators, to consider answering some questions concerning the relationship of Britain’s activities to our efforts in Australia. I should be most interested to know to what extent Australia is participating in Britain’s splendid effort. I should like to know whether Australian scientists are acting in close co-operation with British scientists and whether the knowledge of the latter scientists is benefiting Australia in the establishment of the nuclear reactor that is to be opened next March. In this field of endeavour it is elementary, I suggest, that we should make as much use of British brains as possible. I am most eager to hear whether we are collaborating as closely as we can with British scientists in order to receive the benefits of Britain’s know-how in this field of science.
Those remarks lead me to make observations about the importance of nuclear power in Australia. We like to consider ourselves as verging upon the status of nations that are considered as large nations in the field of trade and commerce. In fact, commercially speaking, we are the eighth largest nation in the world. We must pause to consider how long we can continue with our rather ambitious programme when it comes to the matter of industrial power supplies. Australia lacks a large potential in power. We have no great coal resources compared with those of other large manufacturing nations. We have a relatively small potential water supply. Therefore, the significance of atomic power becomes very much greater to Australia than it is, perhaps, to nations which are more fortunate in other types of power resources.
We have not, like New Zealand and, 1 think. Rhodesia and Canada, a tremendous potential of hydro-electric power. Many European nations have a power potential similar to that of the countries that I have mentioned. Nations such as Japan, some other Asian countries, and many European countries have tremendous resources of coal. We are not so fortunately situated in Australia. By world standards, we have not very great supplies of coal or hydro-electric power. Therefore, I suggest that this nation, above all others, must prepare its long-term programme with the assumption that this country will rely very heavily on nuclear power. We must come to the conclusion that nuclear power is essential for our outback places in which industry is being built up.
We have heard the Minister for National Development refer to the large mining developments in the north of Queensland. That will not be the only remote part of Australia in which large power supplies will be required. I invite the Minister to make some observations upon that aspect of this problem. As a matter of practical science, can we plan to establish atomic reactors in some of those areas in which we can expect that power will be required for our growing mining industry? To my untutored mind, it appears that an atomic reactor requires large quantities of fresh water. So I think that perhaps the establishment of a nuclear reactor in some of our remote areas will be governed by the water situation. I shall be interested to hear the Minister’s comment upon that particular aspect of this question.
I should like him also to deal with a matter of great concern to all people interested in the mining of uranium. Not very long ago we all read a rather startling press announcement to the effect that the days of uranium were numbered because British scientists are so far ahead in their research in this particular branch of science that they are now talking in terms of producing power from hydrogen. Although that statement was modified by other scientists, there does appear to be a conviction in the minds of many people, who claim to be authorities on this question, that we, at least, will see the time when Great Britain and other countries will be converting hydrogen into power. That is a most important question to us. At this moment, we are investing enormous sums of money in the mining and production of uranium. The 64-dollar question to all of us is: How long can we expect the mining of uranium to be a profitable undertaking? In other words, how long can we expect that it will be before power from hydrogen supersedes power from uranium?
These questions should be discussed now because, to me at least, the matter of producing power from uranium and, ultimately, from hydrogen, is probably the most important development that has occurred in this country since the finding of gold at Ballarat. It will revolutionize Australian industry. It is much more important, I suggest, than even the discovery of oil in Western Australia because, of itself, it enables power supplies to be established ultimately in parts where it is not possible to get power essential for development. I have in mind, for example, the Kimberleys region of Western Australia. Whether we like it or not, we must face the fact that, ultimately, that region must be developed. This will entail the use of large power reserves, and I can say quite clearly that because there is no coal there and there is very little chance of providing hydro-electric power, a nuclear reactor in the Kimberleys will eventually be an essential. I am not overlooking the fact that we might have some oil, too, but that would not necessarily eliminate the need for a nuclear reactor. We should be thinking in terms of power from uranium in this country within the next three years, at least. If we do not get down to taws and start making power from uranium, we will finish up a thirdrate power. We hear of Sweden and also Japan each buying a reactor from Great Britain, both of which, I understand, will be in operation within a comparatively short space of time. Australia must be on the band wagon too.
That brings me to my final point. The Minister mentioned today that the establishment of nuclear reactors was, finally, the responsibility of the States. I appreciate that, but I feel that particular fact is not widely known in the States. In some mysterious way, most people in the various States regard the Commonwealth as having the prime responsibility.
– With regard to reactors?
– Yes. I think that idea stems from the fact that the Commonwealth has so much control over the production of uranium. I invite the
Minister to make some observations upon this question. I appreciate the responsibility of the States, but I suggest that the knowledge which is now obtainable from either Great Britain or our. research officers should be made available freely to the States. Supplies of uranium, over which the Commonwealth has so much control, must also be made available to States which intend to set up nuclear reactors. Tasmania has no uranium and Western Australia has none, either.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I direct your attention to the state of the committee.
– I have counted the committee and I find that a quorum is present.
– I suggest that the honorable senator who deliberately interrupted me should now apologize to the committee. If he is not man enough to do so, he should leave the chamber.
– You are making a second-reading speech; but you voted for (he “ guillotine “.
– Before Senator Aylett deliberately interrupted me, I was suggesting that, although the States have a prime responsibility for the construction of atomic reactors, the question of the supplies of uranium has not yet been clarified. Some States have no uranium, but others have. Are the lucky States prepared to allow the less fortunate States to have sufficient supplies of uranium to maintain nuclear reactors?
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I direct my remarks to Division No. 225. - Department of Social Services, item 5, “ Building of homes for the aged - Assistance to approved organizations, £1,800,000”. I make it clear that what I have to say on this matter is not directed to the Government in any critical sense. I suggest that something further might be achieved. More co-ordinated consideration should be given by the Government to the provision of homes for the aged. When the Aged Persons Homes Bill was recently before the Senate, the Minister, in his second-reading speech, made quite a feature of the fact - perhaps with some degree of justification - that the Government has decided to increase the basis of the subsidy from £1 for £1 to £2 for £1 subscribed by approved organizations. The amount which the Government has estimated for the provision of homes for the aged for the current financial year is £1,800,000. However, it is possible that in the next twelve months the Government will be called on to provide £2,700,000 for homes for the aged.
That brings me to what I think is a very important point. Although it is estimated that £1,800,000 will be expended for this purpose, there is no guarantee that the amount will be spent. The expenditure of that sum of money is dependent upon whether the approved organizations approach the Government for its contribution. I should like the Government to consider seriously and earnestly the fact that throughout Australia many thousands of age pensioners who are living under the most deplorable conditions would be very pleased indeed to avail themselves of this facility. I note that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) stated, during his second-reading speech on the Aged Persons Homes Bill 1957, that accommodation had been provided for more than 3,500 old people under this scheme. I think honorable senators opposite will agree with me when I say that that is only scratching the surface.
I am strongly of the opinion that there should be a greater degree of co-ordination in the provision of homes for aged persons. The State governments do certain things within their financial capacity towards the provision of homes for the aged; but the organization that exists between this Government and the approved organizations is rather loose. The Department of Social Services has officers who are capable of gathering all the statistical information that is necessary to inform honorable senators from time to time about the number of homes that are provided in each State, not only as a result of this Government’s contribution of £2 for every £1 provided by charitable organizations, but also by the State governments. The Government, through the department, should make that information available. It should also inform us about the number of people who are housed in that way and the number who are still requiring that kind of housing.
Even assuming we knew the exact requirements, I am not suggesting that it would be within the ability of the Government to satisfy the need immediately; but, if we who debate these matters every year had that information, we would know just what the situation was and perhaps would be able to state a better case in support of these unfortunate people. As far as I know, no information has ever been available to honorable senators as to the rentals that are charged, and their relation to the pension or other income that these people receive.
– Does the honorable senator mean the rental that is charged by the people who build these homes?
– Yes. I am not suggesting that the amounts being charged are beyond the capacity of these aged people, but we should have this information because government money is being expended.
– For the most part, the rental is nominal, is it not?
– Yes, but that information would be of assistance to us if it were available. I think that Senator Anderson and his colleagues on the other side of the chamber will agree that we should have further details about the possible expenditure of this sum of £1,800,000. I use the word “possible” with some regret; I should like a certain expenditure of £1,800,000, or even more. We should have more information about the approved organizations, the degree to which they are prepared to co-operate with the Government, and the way in which this money will be expended.
To-day, we recognize in our national life that a responsibility rests upon governments, whether they be Labour or Liberal governments, to ensure that aged people are cared for in a much better way than they have been cared for in the past. I would compliment any government that provided facilities to ease the lot of the aged people of Australia in their declining years. I foresee increased expenditure and activity by governments within the next ten years in the provision of facilities for aged persons.
I offer these suggestions to the Government in good faith. I. think they are practical. I think, too. that the information to which I have referred should be made available to us. I should like to be assured that the Government will explore every posssible avenue to ensure that the proposed vote of £1,800,000 will be expended, because there is no more worthy cause on which it could be expended.
I refer now to the estimates for the Department of Social Services and in particular to Division No. Ill - Centra] Administration. The vote last year was £190,300; this year it is only £185,000. 1 should like an explanation of that discrepancy from the Minister.
– What about secondreading speeches now?
– I am not making a second-reading speech.
– I was addressing myself to Senator Aylett.
– At least, I am not doing what many honorable senators opposite have been doing. They leap to their feet on every possible occasion, apparently trying to take the ball, so to speak, from honorable senators on this side of the chamber. I want Senator Hannaford to remember that I have been on my feet very rarely during this debate.
– The honorable senator will admit that even that was too often.
– I say to Senator Scott that, if I bore him when I am speaking as much as he bores me when he is speaking, it might be better if I resumed my seat. I rose in a most conciliatory frame of mind, but it seems that this rather unusual role on my part is not acceptable to honorable senators opposite. They appear to expect sparks to fly every time I am on my feet in this chamber. At this stage, I make those two points. I trust, despite the levity that has crept into the debate because of the touch of irresponsibility in honorable senators opposite, that the matter of homes for the aged will be given the most careful and complete consideration.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [3.46]. - I should like to obtain some information on one or two aspects of the work of the Department of Social Services. Division No. 225, item 4, relates to the housekeeper service grant. I have always been interested in this service, because I think it is very valuable. I notice that the proposed grant for this year is £14,000, compared with, I think, a grant of £11,000 when the service was introduced. I should like to see it further increased because I believe this service is greatly needed in the community. Are all the States applying for their share of the grant? Is there any difference between the payments made to the States? This grant is being used to’ provide very real assistance to mothers who, perhaps, have been ill in hospital and have returned to their, homes. The money is being used for that very special form of social service, the care of the mothers and the family, which is so important.
In this division appears an entry, “ Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service- Contribution towards expenses of overseas consultant”, but no provision is made for a payment this year. All that is shown is a vote of £2,000 and an expenditure of £1,906 last year. I do not see this service mentioned in any other part of the estimates for social services, so I shall raise it in relation to this item. I do believe that the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service is doing magnificent work in the community. When one visits a rehabilitation centre and sees the confidence and hope given to people who are ill, or perhaps disabled in some way, one appreciates the very great work that the people engaged in this field of social services are doing. I commend this work very highly indeed. I should like to know the number of people who have passed through the rehabilitation centres in the last twelve months and then have been able to take up an active and interesting occupation and feel once more that they are a very real and happy part of the community. I congratulate the people who work in these centres. Indeed, I believe that we owe a. great debt of gratitude to all of the men and women who do such magnificent work in all fields of social service. .
I refer now to Division No. 1-.11, Central Administration, General Expenses, item 3, “Publicity, £7,000”. I am interested to know why only £7,000 is sought for this yean, when the vote for the last year was £20^000 and. expenditure was £10,765. I feel that publicity for social services is very important. I should like more publicity to be given to the work of the rehabilitation centres, because the more that is known about them, the greater will be the work that they can do.
Senator Pearson has already spoken about” rifle clubs. I had intended to refer to them, but now I shall content myself with supporting what he has already said. I should1 like some information about Division No. 155, General Services, item 11, “Defence food research, £51,000 an item appearing for the first time. We recall the very important work that was done during the last war in connexion with food research and diet, which meant so much to the wellbeing of service men and women, particularly in regions where food was difficult to get and many diseases were- prevalent. As a result of the excellent work done by the- dietitian service, there was a very remarkable record of good health. I am1 interested1 to know what this particular food research involves. Is this new item of £51,000 connected with the carriage of food or with ensuring that a good; proper, balanced diet of high food value is provided for .troops under varying fighting conditions?’ I should .appreciate information on those items.
.- I am rather sorry that Senator Spooner is not in the chamber, because I find him generally to be a Minister who is anxious to answer questions. I know he hates generalizations,, but he is very interested when any senator on this side of the chamber asks really solid, good1 questions. The harder’ the questions’ are, the better he likes them. I “shall not’ make a second-reading speech, but I shall ask a few questions. Following Senator Aylett’s mention of advertising, and Senator Wright’s reply to an interjection, I should’ like to ask for answers to a few questions. Are you in charge,, Senator Cooper?
– If I cannot get answers now, I shall be pleased if they are forwarded later to me. Sometimes I think it is. a little, bit hot - shall- I say - to call, upon Ministers to answer so many questions. They cannot really answer them properly. However, when, a senator asks that answers be forwarded to him, I hope that the Minister will agree to his request.
– The Ministers have plenty of able assistants.
– They have plenty of assistants, and in these days of scientific developments and economic progress it is only right that they should have those assistants. I think more assistants should be provided, for instance, for the Library, so that we could get better information for the edification of those persons who may be listening to the broadcast of our proceedings. I refer to the provision of £243,000 for advertising the recruiting campaign. Senator Wright wanted to know how much money was being spent on advertising in the daily press. This is undoubtedly a big sum, and I should like it to be dissected so that we may know the various items that comprise the total. How much of it is for advertising in the daily press? The Australian Labour party has no daily newspaper, so none will be going to the Australian Labour party. It will go, in the main, to the capitalist press. I should also like to know, if only for my own information, how much is being spent on advertising by television? I think that television is a splendid advertising medium. Further, it would be interesting to know how much is spent on broadcast advertisements. I can hardly expect to get this information now, but later on will do. It would be interesting to know from the departmental officers whether advertising in the press, on television, or by broadcasting is the best method of obtaining recruits.
Instead of entertaining honorable senators, I am seeking a lot of information to-day. I should also like to know how many recruits were recruited during the year. If £330,000 is expended on the recruiting campaign, and we obtain 10,000 recruits, the cost is £33 each. If we obtain 5,000 recruits, the cost is £66 each. I do not know how many recruits are obtained. I have not the slightest idea, but the department has.
– They may obtain only 1,000.
– They may obtain only 1,000, as my intelligent and learned friend, Senator Aylett, says. Perhaps Senator Cooper will be able to tell us.
The proposed vote of £300,000 for trade publicity in the United Kingdom seems reasonable. I have no doubt that, as usual, it will be well spent. When’ I was in the Old Country I saw the difficulties in the way of marketing Australian products there. It is easy to give advice, but the many honorable senators who have visited the United Kingdom will agree that our overseas markets are vital to Australia’s welfare and that, for the general good, every one should air his views on marketing.
I was interested to hear what Senator Spooner had to say about the small sum of £100,000 which is to be spent on trade publicity in countries other than the United Kingdom. We depend too greatly upon England as an export market. We have done so for many, many years. We would be well advised to attempt to go further afield.
– It is, of course, a two-way traffic.
– That is one of the contradictions of our capitalist system. All nations attempt to sell more and buy less, and that is quite impossible of achievement. Many who do not study economics see nothing wrong in that. France, England and Japan want to sell more goods to Australia, and we want to sell more to them. Of course, we bar the mainland Chinese, because they are Communists.
– Every nation wants a maximum income in return for a minimum expenditure.
– That is so. Each nation seeks a higher price and the greatest quantity of exports. However, no one is very anxious to buy. A colleague has mentioned Formosa. It would be interesting to know what is to be spent on trade publicity there. 1 have no doubt that Senator Cooper will tell us, but from the antagonism and bitterness that has been directed to Communist China I can deduce that the figure will be very small for the mainland. GreaBritain is trading with red China and 1 suppose that, one day, Australia will do likewise.
I did not intend to speak yet again on the subject of our treatment of the aged, but 1 have been prompted to do so by the very interesting remarks of Senator Toohey. A few days ago I read a sub-leader in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ which drew attention to the fact that the Women’s Royal Army Corps of Great Britain had provided itself with a stock of drawers sufficient to meet its requirements for 90 years. The article made me wonder whether our Army had perhaps gathered unto itself supplies of blankets sufficient to last for many years. I have not yet been able to obtain a satisfactory answer to the question whether the diminution of the national service intake has left the Army with a surplus of blankets. Once again I ask the Minister whether, if there are great stores of unused blankets, our aged people might be supplied with them free. We all are anxious to look after the older ones in our midst, and even though the weather is becoming warmer the Government should do something to put an end to the yearly newspaper requests for funds with which to provide blankets for the aged. I do plead with Senator Cooper not to let surplus supplies be eaten by wogs but, instead, to distribute them to those who are in need.
– 1 wish to refer to Division No. 152 - Australian Regular Army - and to that portion of the explanatory memorandum of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) which describes the strength of the Pacific Islands Regiment as 646. Some years ago I had the opportunity to visit Papua and New Guinea with other members of the Parliament and was taken to inspect the head-quarters of the regiment at Taurama, near Port Moresby. It was a most interest- ing experience, and we were all impressed by the personnel of the regiment. I have often thought since that the Australian Government has accepted a heavy responsibility in administering Papua and New Guinea, including a partial responsibility at least for the defence of that area. We cannot ignore the fact that the natives themselves have a responsibility to defend it. I do not suggest for a moment that vast numbers of natives should be recruited for the defence of Papua and New Guinea. Nothing could be further from my mind, but the Pacific Islands Regiment, though a nucleus trained in the best traditions of the Australian Army, numbers only 646 men. We have in New Guinea a great reservoir of men who could do splendid work in defending that outpost of Australia. They have already shown that they are good fighters. We know the invaluable assistance that they gave to our fighting men during the last war. Most of these men are trained fighters. They are natural fighters, traditional fighters. After all, they always fought among themselves until we brought them somewhat under control. So I think we have, in Papua and New Guinea, a reservoir of men which might prove to be of extremely valuable assistance to us in the event of an emergency in that part of the world. We must not forget that the Territory of Papua and New Guinea would be the first place that would be attacked if Australia were the objective of any foreign power. That Territory would give our enemies an excellent stepping-off place for Australia in the way that the Japanese attempted to use it during the last war. There would be no difficulty in recruiting a certain proportion of the native population there to serve in a permanent force.
As far as I can gather, members of the Pacific Islands Regiment are part of the Australian Regular Army. I saw their work on the parade ground at Tarrama. They also garrison the depot at Manus Island, where I saw something of their splendid drilling and fine demeanour. Whilst I say that we have in these men a reservoir of fighting power on which we could draw in an emergency in that part of the world, and which would be a valuable adjunct to the defence of this country, I am not suggesting that we use them for the direct defence of Australia itself. That is far from my mind. But these men must assume some responsibility, if not now, then in the near future, for defending their own country. For that reason I should like to see this formation, which has a nucleus of 646 men, extended so that the natives could completely avail themselves of the opportunity to play their part in the defence of their country.
I wish now to ask the Minister a few questions regarding the split-up of this force. I recognize that the natives in the Pacific Islands Regiment are officered by Australian Regular Army officers. I should like to know the number of such officers in charge of this regiment, the period of service of the natives and their rates of pay.
.- In referring to the proposed vote for the Department of Labour and National Service I should like to say that I think the committee is indebted to Senator Wright for directing our attention to the expenditure of the .large sum .paid to ‘ Waterside .workers ‘in the form of attendance money, a sum which now amounts to more than £1,000,000 a year. I >remember the initiation -of this scheme by a Labour government many years ago. The scheme came into being as a result of ,great disorganization on the waterfront and the desire of the then government to give waterside workers some form of permanent income on which they could rely, and some permanency in their employment, lt was also desired to improve the handling of cargoes. But that was eight or nine years ago. We all have a good deal of respect for the ability of the Minister for National (Development (Senator Spooner) to state a case, and equal respect for his ability and his agility in making excuses. I think that the Minister’s explanation this afternoon in regard to this matter was .not very .convincing. It was very opportune that he rose immediately after Senator Wright had spoken. The Minister seemed to convey, to Government supporters at .any rate, that the Government did not want too much said about the matter, that .he would like them to look .at it in a charitable way, a .mild way. He seemed to tell them that .there were a lot of factors governing .the problem, that the best was being done, that what was happening wa3 not .entirely the fault of the ‘Organization, and so .on. But all that does not alter >the fact, pointed out by Senator Wright, that the payment of attendance money at its present level reduces .the return to the .apple-grower in Tasmania by ls. a case. It also increases the price of apples to -the consumer. That is one of the .reasons -why apples are disappearing from the worker’s table. They are becoming too expensive.
I realize the necessity for a system <of attendance money payments, but at the time the system was initiated the cost to the community was only one-fourth .of its present cost. It seems to me that after eight years of administration of this system we .are .entitled to expect better organization on the waterfront. Apparently there is something wrong somewhere when such a colossal amount is paid in attendance money from a fund collected at the rate of 2s. a man-hour. I realize that in other days, when registered waterside workers so often found themselves unable to obtain regular engagements, it was necessary that some compensation payment should be made to them for their attendance. They were entitled to that consideration. But surely we should expect something better than the existing situation about which I, personally, am not very happy. I realize, of course, that the shipping companies want to have adequate labour .available on the waterfront, particularly now when we are approaching the Christmas season; but the whole position is out of balance. Too many waterside workers are constantly out of employment. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority was established by the Labour government, because we felt that something should be done to give some permanency to employment on the wharfs and to give waterside workers .some security of income. But since then very little progress has been made. .1 do not want to blame anybody now, but I think that the present situation is not very creditable to the Government.
– Unfortunately, I was out of the chamber when Senator Wright spoke on the subject of the waterfront, but I was present later to hear the reply made by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) and I am afraid that the Minister’s reply did not carry very much weight with me. Last year, the total amount paid to waterside workers out of the revenue ‘from the stevedoring industry charge was far above anything paid in any previous year. The total was £2;792,200 which was equal to 82 per cent, of the total expenditure. Attendance money payments totalled .£1,625,391, which was more than £1,000,000 higher than .any sum paid .to waterside workers in any .previous year. The annual average lor previous years was about £520,000, which was about 50 per cent, of the money collected and available. But that is not the part that is worrying me. After the levying of the charge of 2s., and the payment of the total amount I have mentioned, there was a deficit of £1,300,000. So, if this trend continues, the charge next year will have to be 3s. 6d. or 4s. I want to ‘know where this thing is going to end. The Minister pointed out that smaller gangs of watersiders were being used. If that is the -case surely it indicates that .previously there were men on the gangs who were not required. It was commonplace, of course, as I know from observation in past years, for many men not to work to their full capacity. Sometimes two men would work while four played cards. So obviously there were some men who could be dismissed.
In addition, some charges are being met out of the receipts of the stevedoring industry charge which, in my opinion, should be borne by the employers. The employers should bear the cost of sick leave and holiday pay, for instance. I think somebody said that the cost would eventually become embodied in the stevedoring industry charge, even if the employers did bear it in the first place, but that is not so, in certain cases at any rate. The Fremantle Harbour Trust is engaged in stevedoring to a great extent. If it were liable to meet the cost of long service leave and sick pay, that would be a debit against its funds and not against the stevedoring charge. Some shipping companies do not make any charge for stevedoring. Do they pay for long service leave or do they pass it to the stevedoring charge? These are matters which should be cleared up. We want some light on them.
The Minister made a rather serious statement when he said that neither the stevedoring authority nor the unions had made any demand for a reduction of the quotas. ls there any end to these things? Will that matter be allowed simply to slide along? ls nobody taking any action? Apparently the number of men will be unaltered. If so, I cannot see much hope of a solution. lt is no excuse to say that we are dealing with a new authority because the chairman of the present Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority was chairman of the board which preceded it. If I remember rightly, some representations were made to appoint him to the position because of his long experience as chairman of the previous board. It was said that he would have the knowledge and the information that would enable him to guide this new authority. The whole matter is most alarming. I can only gain some hope from the statement by the Minister that the matter is being watched closely.
I expect that a bill will be necessary to enable us to provide for this very large overdraft. Some action will have to be taken to liquidate it, so I expect that a bill will be brought down, but I should like to emphasize the grave impact that this situa tion is having on shipping freights. We have heard many complaints about the continual rise in freight rates. Honorable senators should realize that stevedoring charges represent from 60 per cent. to 65 per cent. of shipping freights. If the present state of affairs continues, shipping freights will keep on rising. It is of no use to call on producers and shippers to reduce costs when we do not set an example. It is our duty as a Parliament to set an example in these matters, particularly when phenomenal increases in prices continue.
If I remember rightly, when the Minister introduced a bill last year to authorize an increase in the stevedoring charge from ls. 7d. to 2s., the purpose was to meet the overdraft and accumulate a reserve. I believe the Minister said that the proposed provision would be adequate. If that was the advice that the Minister received from the man who had been in charge of the previous authority, it is evident that the estimate he made was very bad indeed. Certainly it was misleading.
Iwasstaggeredtosee the position that has been revealed by this balance-sheet. That has prompted me to ask the Minister to take action to ensure that we receive the annual report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority before any measure is introduced to alter the charge. The whole matter is most disturbing and I am sure that it will cause concern to everybody who has any connexion with shipping. Charges are being added constantly and there is no sign of a reduction.
– I am pleased that our worthy friend, Senator Wright, brought forward the matter of the stevedoring industry, and received support from Senator Seward, because I remember distinctly that all sorts of charges were made about the same matter in this chamber twelve or eighteen months ago. Supporters of the Government told us how they were going to prosecute the waterside workers if they did not increase their quotas. At the time, the waterside workers insisted that the quotas were high enough, and they said that a time must come when there would be more men than would be required on the waterfront. Honorable senators on the Government side told us what evil fellows the waterside workers were because they would not obey the law and the dictates of the government authority of the day. They said that the waterside workers were flouting the Parliament and the Government. As a result, the waterside workers said that they would obey the law and the directions that were given to them from time to time. In South Australia alone, if I remember cop rectly, 150 more men were engaged and put on the quota, but within two months, more than 200 men were out of work and drawing attendance money. Since then, probably because of the Government’s trade policy or for other reasons, there has been a reduction in shipping activities. Now the waterside workers are being castigated by honorable senators on the Government side because a charge of 2s. an hour has been imposed to pay for the attendance money and long service leave.
Honorable senators who support the Government should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. They should admit that they made a mistake and that the quotas should be reduced. The fact is that the older men are going out of the industry and the quotas are being gradually reduced, but we have around the coast what might be called a standing army of fellows drawing attendance pay simply because the Government insisted upon raising the quotas months ago against the advice, not only of the waterside workers, but also of other men who know the industry thoroughly. Yet honorable senators have the cheek to rise in this chamber and castigate the Minister responsible because the charge is 2s. an hour. I have no love for the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) because he was in the conspiracy at that time. I believe it is wrong to suggest that the waterside workers who obeyed the law to the letter should now be penalized.
I turn my attention now to trade matters. Some time ago, there was a reconstitution of the Department of Trade and Customs. The administration of matters relating to trade went into a new Department of Trade and that department now examines and controls the issue of import licences. At the time, many persons thought that the Government had bungled the administration of import licensing. I said at the time in this chamber that the import licensing policy 3f ,the Government discriminated against smaller businessmen in favour of the big men. I believe the responsible Minister stated that if honorable senators had knowledge of any particular case, they should submit the details which would be examined.
What concerns me is that import licensing has been taken from the Department of Customs and Excise, formerly the Department of Trade and Customs. Now, the Department of Trade deals with import licences and makes recommendations to the Department of Customs and Excise. I believe that the Department of Customs and Excise then issues the certificates on the recommendation of the Department of Trade so that now we have two departments covering import licensing. If a person wants to negotiate about an import licence, he has to approach an officer of the Department of Trade. Then, if he decides to appeal against the decision, he appeals not to the Minister for Trade but to the Minister for Customs and Excise.
I had experience with some licences that were issued under Bank Al 9, which covers tools of trade and that sort of thing. In 1955, a man applied for a licence to import a certain quantity of goods from overseas under Bank A 19. He was knocked back by the Department of Trade simply because, although he had been importing in the previous year, goods that he had ordered did not arrive in 1954, and consequently he did not have a quota. An appeal was made to the Minister for Customs and Excise. To give the Minister his due, he did what he could. The applicant was granted two-thirds of the quota he had requested.
I have another case concerning a man who was importing before the restrictions were introduced. He had sole agencies here in Australia and was in business in a small way. He is now in this position: He asked for a licence to import £10,000 worth of goods in Bank A. 5, which is an entirely different category from the other one that I have mentioned. It includes spare parts for motor vehicles and electrical goods and that kind of thing. As I said, he was importing previously, but something happened - I do not know what - because the Department of Trade knocked him back. He cannot get any licence at all, not even to import some of the goods.
Here is the peculiar part about it. I want the .Minister to take particular notice of the fact that this man had agencies here for that particular bank of goods. Another firm to which he previously sold the goods has been able to get a licence for almost the precise amount that he asked for. Consequently, he has lost his agency because of the favoritism shown by the Department of Trade. I am not blaming any particular employees or anything of that kind; I merely point out that there is something wrong somewhere. I can give to the Minister, either openly or confidentially, if he wants it, the name of the firm that has supplanted the person to whom I have referred. It supplies, 1 think, Hella Products or something of that kind.
What I am particularly concerned about is that this man applied to the Department of Trade for a licence. The department, through the Minister, stated that it was relaxing trade restrictions, which would enable business people to import a little more and thereby expand their businesses a little. After that statement was made, this man applied a second time for a licence, and was again knocked back.
At that stage, the Minister for Trade stated that investigation officers were being sent to the various States. One did, in fact, go to South Australia. The businessman to whom I have referred went to this investigation officer to appeal against the decision but, as far as I can see, it was only a stunt by the Minister in sending the official to South Australia, because he knocked the fellow back again. Then the businessman discovered that he could buy the goods from another firm which, somehow or other, had managed to get a licence for £11,609 5s. 3d. sterling, f.o.b., the equivalent of £A. 16,249, c.i.f.
The Minister told me, when I raised this matter previously, that he would look into any special cases that I brought to his notice. I now ask the Minister whether he will look into this case if I supply him with the particulars. If the person I have mentioned cannot be granted a licence to import goods to the value of £10,000, because of the restrictions, surely to goodness he can be given a licence for a part of that amount so that he will not lose any other agencies! After all, these small people work like billy-oh. Their position is entirely different from that of huge firms. Surely this man can obtain some redress from the department. At least, he should be given a licence for a part of the amount sought. Of course, he will not regain the agency that he has already lost, because .it has been transferred to some one else. This means that he has lost his authority to import £10,000 worth of goods a year, which provided him with a living.
I have raised these matters in the chamber because I have only to-day received the particulars. We may adjourn to-morrow for awhile and I may not have an opportunity otherwise to deal with the matter. I shall supply the particulars to the Minister in the hope that he will be able to do something to assist small firms which need import licences. After all, the Government is supposed to be relaxing import restrictions.
.- 1 am very interested in what Senator O’Flaherty has said about import licensing, but for myself I propose to defer my reference to that subject until a later stage, if not on the proposed vote for the Department of Trade, then when the proposed vote for the Department of Customs and Excise is under consideration because I think there can be no more fruitful subject to engage the attention of the committee of this Senate.
I have risen at this stage, following the observations that were made by Senator Courtice, Senator Seward, and Senator O’Flaherty in relation to the waterfront, to make some reference to what the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) was good enough to put before the committee on this subject shortly after 2 o’clock to-day. I must say that I am fully appreciative of the reference that the Minister made to the fact that consideration is being given to the experience in this industry which may result in a reconsideration of the arrangements that exist. I am not of that anaemic disposition usually to accept that sort of possible weekly forecast as my customary daily fodder, but in this instance it seems to me that the force of circumstances may compel a reconsideration of the arrangements.
I also wish to express appreciation of the fact that the annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority will be expedited; but again I want to alert the Minister to what has happened in the past. One would expect all -the figures concerning .this authority -to be correlated week .by week from -various reports so that the knowledge of >the overall position would Be reasonably up to date. Yet the report «of the authority for the year ended 30th June, 1956, was submitted under the hand
Df the chairman, Mr. Hewitt, to the Minister on 28th February, 1957. Now, the Auditor-General, as he reminds us at the end of his report, is coping with the increase in the business of the Audit Office with a reduced staff. He can conduct the audit of the entire Commonwealth expenditure and submit his report to us in time for the consideration of the Estimates. In the circumstances, I think a big push is required, and I hope it will be given with both feet by the Minister so as to expedite the arrival of the Stevedoring Industry Authority’s report that is going to precipitate a reconsideration of the arrangements.
By that statement I must not be taken to anticipate a complete condemnation of the position that exists, because there is some ground for expecting that a better tonnage through-put per man-hour will be revealed. Having said that, though, what I do want to impress upon the Minister is that I think that we are entitled to say that we receive with real dismay his statement that the terrific volume of attendance money to which Senator Seward has referred and the deficit that I mentioned this morning of £1,383,000 for the year is to be excused on the ground that it has arisen through circumstances largely beyond the authority’s control. It is rather naive that we set up Tweedledum and match him with Tweedledee and when you are criticizing Tweedledum you are told that because Tweedledee shares the authority with him he is not in complete control. It will be remembered that at the time the transitional clauses of the Stevedoring Industry Bill 1956 were being considered, I suggested that they would defy examination by a Philadelphia lawyer. I suggest that the interrelationship that exists between the arbitration court and this authority is an enigma in legislation without precedent. The burrow into which we run to shelter from a charge of irresponsibility becomes no better if we fill it with cobwebs. The confused legislative situation is not advanced as an ‘excuse for .the authority whose job >it -is ‘to administer ‘the waterfront, because it is said -that circumstances time overtaken the authority which are, in some respects, beyond its control. L’et -me <be a little more specific. The Minister was good enough, no doubt on information supplied to him, to say-
– Has the honorable senator noticed that £1,000,000 of the £1,300,000 is due to the provisions for sick leave and holiday pay? They were, as I understand it, obligations imposed on this authority, for the first time, by an award of the Arbitration Commission.
– I suggest that that is not quite a fair presentation of the facts. I agree - I gave the figures this morning - that attendance money payments have increased by £1,000,000. The Minister now suggests that sick leave pay and holiday pay is responsible for £1,000,000.
– They add up to £1,000,000 altogether.
– I shall accept that estimate for the purposes of the argument. It was in order to meet those obligations that the stevedoring industry charge was increased. I have no doubt that experience in these matters enabled the officers advising the Minister for Labour and National Service of the day to estimate those items with a fair degree of accuracy. I have no doubt also that the increased charge approved by the Parliament was intended to cover those payments, because the charge was sought to be justified, as honorable senators will see if they care to refer to “ Hansard “, by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) on the ground that the authority had those new obligations. I submit that another explanation will have to be found for the deficit of £1,383,000.
While this matter is engaging the attention and, I think, the interest of honorable senators, perhaps I may be permitted to offer a stronger explanation of this deficit. This increased charge did not have time to operate, between May and June, sufficiently to overtake any arrears that had then developed. Therefore, at the end of June, 1956, we may have an exaggerated situation, but things may come into equilibrium when the increased charge has been in opera- tion for a longer period. I am here to discuss these things only on a basis of fact, but while this industry is in such an appalling condition I shall not hesitate to make my contribution to suggestions for a correction of that condition.
When the Minister was good enough to offer his observation on sick leave and holiday pay,I was about to refer to the argument that the number of men employed in this industry is not subject to the control of the authority itself. The Minister was good enough to refer, no doubt on information supplied to him, to section 32 of the Stevedoring Industry Act as a foundation for the argument that it is only upon the application of either the employer or the federation that this authority can move to reduce the number of waterfront personnel that is a charge on the industry. I protest mildly against the validity of that argument. Section 32 provides, in subsection (1.) -
the number of waterside workers registered at a port is in excess of the quota for the port;
the Union in relation to the port or a prescribed representative of the employers, requests the authority to take action under this section; and . . .
I invite the Minister to state, in his reply, whether regulations have been made to prescribe the permissible representative of the employers. The section continues -
the quota for the port is, for a period of at least six months, likely to remain at a number less than the number of waterside workers registered at the port; and
Then in the next sub-section, which controls the one I have just read, it is provided that that power shall not be exercised before the expiration of twelve months after the previous determination of the quota. The whole point is that the statute, by section 25, lays down one of the primary duties of this waterfront authority. Section 25 provides that the authority shall, from time to time, determine the quota of waterside workers which, in the opinion of the authority, is required for the proper and effective conduct of stevedoring operations. My lawyer friends will notice the significance of thestatutory duty to do that “ from time to time “. Then section 26 provides -
The Authority shall consider whether the quota of a port should be varied -
whenever so requested by a Union or a prescribed representative of employers; and
in any event, at least once in each period of twelve months.
I concede that the purpose of placing this square peg in a round hole and keeping it there - in other words, maintaining this rigid’ organization which is not at all adaptable to the varying requirements of the waterfront - was to maintain a degree of stability. Nevertheless, the suggestion that the authority is not in a position to control the fluctuating requirements for labour on the waterfront until it receives an application from either the union or the employers flouts the preliminary provisions of the act, which require the Authority to fix the quota from time to time, and to fix it at a level which will enable the stevedoring operations, of the port to be carried on efficiently.
I am sorry to have taken up so much time, but I thought some rejoinder should be made to the Minister’s statement. I offer my rejoinder in a spirit of criticism, but nevertheless with genuine appreciation of the information he gave to the Senate.
– One fascination of being a Minister in the Senate is that your work covers a very wide field. One of the difficulties, however, is that you cannot be an expert in all fields. Senator Wright made two statements that caused me a little concern. First, he attributed to me a statement to the effect that my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), was reconsidering the whole of these arrangements. The brief that has been handed to me indicates that some of these matters are being looked at. I would not like to create an impression that I stated that the foundation or the basic arrangements in the act were to be altered. I am saying that I do not know.
The other matter referred to was the interpretation of section 32, and I propose to read the brief given to me, asking that it be treated charitably. The brief is given to me at short notice and does not do justice to the knowledge and experience of the writer. I telephone him early in the morning and say, “ There is an argument in the Senate on a particular point. Brief me “. He dictates something over the telephone, and it is rather hard to hold him to that as a final policy statement. This brief reads -
The Authority has been watching the surplus of labour position very closely, and it has been progressively reducing port quotas.
I did not mention that this morning. This brief contradicts the atmosphere that I apparently created. The brief continues -
But the fact is that it does not rest wilh the Authority to dispense with registered waterside workers. As part of the process of increasing the responsibility of employers in the management of affairs on the waterfront, the 1956 legislation deliberately put in the hands of the employers the initiation of action to dispense with excess workers. Section 32 provides that where the number of registered waterside workers exceeds the port quota and the union or the employers request the Authority to take action, the Authority could cancel or suspend the registration of excess waterside workers. The fact is that the employers have not asked the Authority to use its power under this section, nor has the Federation. I recently consulted with shipowners’ representatives and found no disposition to ask the Authority to reduce the excess labour.
I intruded again into the debate because I think the note agrees, if given a rather wide interpretation, with what Senator Wright said. The fault, I think, rests with me in that I did not have sufficient background and knowledge. This memorandum shows that we have initiated certain action. Let me remind honorable senators that, although we have done that, the report places the initiative for this on the shoulders of others, the other two parties in the industry. Those people have not initiated action, although we have done so as a department or as an authority. We have done something, but we are not finished with what- we have in mind.
.- 1 direct attention to Division No. 225, Department of Social Services - “ Compassionate Allowances - payments under special circumstances, £103,892 “. Will the Minister tell me exactly what is meant by “ compassionate allowances “? The term is very elastic, and the Minister may be able to give me some idea of its meaning. 1 also direct attention to item 5 under Division No. 225 - “ Building of Homes for the Aged - Assistance to approved organizations - £1,800,000 “. What does that assistance consist of? My experience over the years in the building trade is that in many cases the cost of administration exceeds very considerably the actual cost of the home. I should like the Minister to tell me whether there is any form of control, and if so, under what terms. Anybody who has been brought up in the building trade, as I have, knows that all types of buildings are constructed to-day much more quickly than they ever were in the past. Therefore, the cost in terms of labour was never lower. That applies equally to the production of the materials used as well as to the actual construction of the building. I have been actively associated with the age pensioners and their claims for many years, and T should like to know just what is meant with regard to this assistance to approved organizations. I do not want to have to assume anything.
I should like to refer now to what has been said about the waterside workers. The best thing Senator Wright and Senator Seward could do would be to serve for two or three years on the waterfront. I have done that, and there is nothing like practical experience to educate any man or woman when theoretical reasoning has failed. I spent two years on the waterfront, and it was enough for me - I did it under duress, of course. 1 formed the opinion very early that he who waits also serves, and waiting day after day at the convenience of shipowners and stevedores is quite different from entering a legal practitioner’s office.
– It all depends on the capacity in which you go there.
– I know that you do it in the light of circumstances.
– It depends how your conscience is.
– I have had considerable experience with gentlemen of the legal profession, certain of whom are responsible for my presence here to-day instead of being in gaol.
– Well, I am pleased that they justify you, even if you do not justify yourself.
– The man who waits on your doorstep also serves. The attendance money paid to waterside workers is justified. In fact, I think it should be increased, taking into consideration the decreased purchasing power of money. The legal gentleman just takes the words as he finds them, reasons subjectively - he has no capacity whatever to reason objectively - and he comes to the conclusion that people are being robbed by the waterside workers. He said that in nice precise language, thinking, perhaps, that it would impress a perfectly unsophisticated person like myself. That is what is called political theatricalism or exhibitionism. It goes down with a lot of poor unfortunate people who have merely had university or State school education, but those who have graduated in the hard and costly school of practical experience, where the fees are the highest and the lessons are never forgotten, are not in the least impressed.
We depend upon the waterside workers to buy goods; we depend upon them as consumers and as producers. Therefore, in studying the position of the waterside workers, honorable senators should try as best they can to put themselves in the other fellow’s place and see how they would like his job. I have worked in the mines, and I have heard the most scathing criticism of miners from men who have never been down a mine. I have said before - I repeat it because it is worth remembering - practical experience without theory is blind, theory without practical experience is futile. That is exactly the position of Senators Wright and Seward at present. Their close reasoning, done in such a gentlemanly and statesmanlike manner, does not make the slightest impression on me or on any one else who has had practical experience. I have heard of what is called the moneycentric approach, but there is also such a thing as the human-centric approach. Think of these men as human beings entitled to the same treatment and consideration as honorable senators would expect if they were in the same position!
– I desire to refer to the proposed vote for the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, £1,411,000. At page 46 of his supplementary report, the Acting Auditor-General said -
The Commission has continued its encourage ment of surveys and prospecting for radio-active ores and the promotion of academic and commercial interest in subjects associated with the development and utilization of atomic energy. The overall cost for this phase of the Commission’s activities in 19S6-S7 was £438,577.
The Acting Auditor-General also made some very helpful comments on aspects of storekeeping and accounting. I commend the Australian Atomic Energy Commission for its encouragement of surveys and prospecting. I was in the Northern Territory two years’ ago and 1 compliment the commission on its co-operation with the Bureau of Mineral Resources, the Commonwealth Department of Works and the Northern Territory Administration. In particular, I mention the splendid work being done by the Zinc Corporation interests in managing the Rum Jungle mine for the commission. The commission is also co-operating with the British atomic energy organization. Only a fortnight ago, we saw in King’s Hall an exhibition jointly arranged by the two organizations. I ask the Minister whether he has investigated the possibilities of showing the exhibition throughout Australia, particularly in country areas. As a South Australian, I invite his attention to the possibility of showing it in the north, say, at Port Pirie and in the south in an area such as Mount Gambier, which would serve the western districts of Victoria.
The promotion of academic and commercial interest in subjects associated with the development and use of atomic energy is most important at this stage. Atomic research has moved beyond the secret stage which was a necessity a few years ago. It has now reached the stage where we must encourage atomic research and approach it from the educational and practical aspects so that it is beyond the secret stage. It is now universally known and studied. I stress the desirability of promoting the commercial use of isotopes. This could be done by showing throughout Australia the working models which we saw recently. I shall mention several aspects that appeal to me. Honorable senators will recall that one working model in the exhibition showed how isotopes checked the filling of packages. This method ensures that all packages are correctly filled, and would be a wonderful aid in trade promotion both in this country and abroad. The next working model to which I refer is the one that measured and controlled, during the course of manufacture, the thickness of materials produced in sheet form, such as paper, plastic and metal foil. The universal use of these machines would be a distinct aid to trade. Isotopes are used in other ways in commerce and in agriculture. I shall not mention their use in medicine which is well known.
I ask the Minister to ensure, as a matter of great urgency, that a knowledge of the uses of atomic energy becomes widespread. What better way of doing that could there be than by showing these working models? By doing that, he may attract some of Australia’s brilliant youth into atomic research and encourage the use of these appliances in agriculture, commerce and industry. I compliment the Minister and the department and urge that the peaceful use of atomic energy and isotopes be encouraged.
– Mention has been made in this chamber of port quotas as they apply on the waterfront. I want to refer first of. all, to two words used by Senator Wright. He used the words “ appalling conditions “. I do not know how he intended to apply them. If he desired to apply them to the wages of the waterside workers, I agree with him wholeheartedly. If he desired to apply them to the attendance money paid to waterside workers, again I agree with him wholeheartedly. I should like to compare the attendance money paid to waterside workers with the attendance money that Senator Wright would probably demand if he defended a waterside worker in a court. The waterside worker receives slightly in excess of £1 a day attendance money whilst Senator Wright would probably receive anything up to 40 guineas a day to attend court. So it becomes a different story in respect of a member of the legal fraternity.
Looking at the figures relative to the Waterside Workers Federation in Hobart, for the year ended 30th June, 1955, we find that 1,254,524 man-hours were worked for an. average weekly wage of £19 5s. 6d.
– How many hours’ work does that represent?
– That was the number of hours worked in the port during that year.
– But how many hours’ work does the £19 5s. 6d. represent?
– Although the honorable senator also comes from Tasmania, I shall not be side-tracked by him or any Minister. The attendance money paid for the year I mentioned totalled £8,800 16s., which represents 11,000 man-days of unemployment. That was in respect of a registered membership of 720. For the year ended 30th June, 1956, the quota was increased to 900, but the registered membership reached only 887. Unemployment continued and the number registered decreased to 815. The members worked 1,422,169 man-hours for an average weekly wage of £18 12s., a reduction of 13s. 6d. a week compared with the average for the preceding year. Attendance money paid totalled £13,135 4s., representing 17,000 man-days lost. That is a sharp increase in attendance money payments. I defy any honorable senator to dispute those figures.
The Stevedoring Industry Authority on two occasions was forced to admit that the quota case for the port, which was as put up by the companies, was misleading and that their statements were not in accordance with the facts. On one occasion the employers demanded that the port quota be increased from 820 to 950. The federation was compelled to admit those additional members by December, 1956; and from June, 1956, until December, 1956, when considerable unemployment was experienced, 820 members were registered. During that six months 10,176 man-days were lost, which meant, on the average, that each day 68 members did not get a job on the waterfront. The loss in wages amounted to £40,704.
At a later stage, despite the fact that the employees were losing a considerable amount in wages due to unemployment, the employers applied for an increase of the quota, by another 135 members, on the Hobart waterfront, and the application was granted. Naturally, the unemployment position worsened as the tonnage through the port decreased’ so far as general cargo and the apple crop were concerned. Although it is competent for the employers or the Waterside Workers Federation to apply to the Stevedoring Industry Authority to vary the membership in a particular port, of what use is it for the federation to apply to decrease the quota when, in the first instance, the employers summon the federation to appear before the authority when it is proposed to increase the quota? If the federation appeals against a decision, it must appeal to the Stevedoring Industry Authority. It is a case of Caesar appealing to Caesar, and I have never heard of any occasion on which Caesar has overruled his own decision.
The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) admitted that in many ports to-day there were more waterside Workers than were required. I agree wholeheartedly with him. That position applies not only in Hobart, but also in other ports throughout Australia. Only recently some ports decreased their quota. At Devonport there is a certain amount of unemployment; on occasions the position at Burnie and Launceston is very bad, whilst at Strahan the position could worsen with the reclassification of that port from A grade to B grade, as has been proposed. This matter causes me concern because, as I said in this chamber only the other day, it would be detrimental to the people of the west coast, and particularly to the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company Limited in the operation of their mine at Queenstown. At present, waterside workers at Strahan earn in the vicinity of £13 a week, which is not the full basic wage. I am at a loss to understand how any man, particularly a married man, can exist on that wage. If the port is reduced from A grade to B grade, their earnings will be less. Another consequence of the reclassification would be that they would not be entitled to attendance money. I feel that is one of the main reasons why the employers want to have the port reclassified. But if the waterside workers are not entitled to attendance money, they are not on call at the time the employers want them. They can go out and take alternative work, and they will certainly/ have to do so in order, to earn a living; because I understand, that with the tonnage which, has been going through that particular port for a number of years, they earn- only about £& or £9 a week on the waterfront. This means that the waterfront employees are faced with the necessity for finding alternative employment. Having found it, they may. not be available for work at the port when they are called upon; they can attend only when it is convenient for them. For instance, a man may take a job timber-getting, or do other work that may be available, and he must stay on the job until it is completed. Then he returns to the waterfront. This tends to slow down the turn-round of ships at the port of Strahan. It is a fact which has given the employers a great deal of concern over the years. It is one reason that the employers give repeatedly for the slow turn-round of ships.
But there may be other reasons for this slow turn-round of ships. I should say that one of the main reasons is the fact that, in the main, the warehouses at ports are congested with goods left in them by importers, with the result that the waterside workers are unable to work with any degree of comfort. Another reason is that many of the ships have outmoded, gear; facilities on them have not been brought up to modern decent working standards.
The reclassification of the port of Strahan would have a detrimental effect on the whole of the west coast of Tasmania. It could lead to the closing of the Strahan-Queenstown railway which passes through country renowned throughout Australia for its beauty and, which is one of the few railways in the world that find it necessary to use a rack set between the rails on which runs a cog that enables the locomotive to haul its load over a very steep grade. For some reason or other, this rack railway is of particular interest to a vast number of the tourists who visit Tasmania.
I feel that something must be done to relieve the quota of the Hobart waterfront and to prevent Strahan from being reclassified as a B grade instead of an A grade port.
– I rise to bring the committee back to a discussion of the Estimates. I ask the committee, and in particular the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to focus attention on Division No. 212, “Recruiting Campaign, £330,000”. I realize that this matter has been mentioned by several honorable senators, but my remarks are not based on anything that has been said. Quite frankly, if it had not been for an alert chairman, I would have said on Tuesday afternoon what I am about to say now. The committee will recall that on that occasion I was promptly asked to resume my seat.
I have had an opportunity before to criticize in the Senate some aspects of our recruiting campaign. I think the recruiting campaign is the most important facet of the defence forces at the present time. I do not propose to repeat my previous criticisms, which were mainly about press advertising, except to say that I am alarmed to know that another £100,000 has been placed on the Estimates tor this purpose. Although I have noted an improvement in the type of advertisement appearing in the press, I should be most upset if the provision of this extra £.100,000 means any increase at all in that shocking waste of money.
I believe, with great respect to the Australian press, that it is a waste of money to carry on expensive campaigns of advertising in newspapers for recruits. I do not think such advertisements have any effect on bringing anybody into the services, lt pays one well to advertise socks, garments, pictures and so on in the press, but press advertising will not arouse the patriotic and career instincts of our young men and women. For those reasons, I do hope that the Department of the Army will see to it that there is less advertising in the press. I am not saying that we should cut down on the money spent on recruiting, if we need recruits, and if we can get them by spending more money, but I am opposed to great press advertising campaigns.
– How would you spend the money?
– I shall tell the Minister. I have paid a great deal of attention to this matter. I have spoken to many people in the services and to representatives of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, an organization which we heard attacked in a most disgusting manner in this Senate last night. Because of the study I have given to the matter, I think I have a sound proposition to put to the Minister.
We have throughout Australia great gatherings of the public at sports meetings, carnivals, regattas and agricultural shows. I suggest that the ‘only effective way of enticing young men into the services is to show them what the services are, what they are doing and what these young men themselves would look like if they were in uniform taking part in the displays which I suggest could be given. I believe that in conjunction with normal training and the intriguing commitments which our services have, our services could be shown more often at the big public functions throughout Australia. For instance, in Tasmania we have the great Huon apple festival in March of each year at which from 23,000 to 30,000 people gather. It is quite a big attendance in Tasmania. The organizers of the festival might write to other Tasmanian senators, but I certainly received a letter from them stating that they wanted a display on one occasion by some branch of the services. I approached the Army for a band and my request was knocked back. 1 approached the Navy for a ship. That was knocked back. I then approached the Air Force .for a band and that request was knocked back. The Army did not have a band available, the Navy did not have a, ship to bring the band over and the Air Force did not want to use its aircraft.
I suggest that there should be a committee comprised of Cabinet Ministers - we have enough of them in charge of the various branches of defence to form a committee on their own - and heads of departments. That committee should meet at regular intervals. We have in our present Director of Recruiting a man who is not only a very gallant soldier, under whom I had the privilege of serving, but also a very fine administrator. He has done a fine job in encouraging recruits into the Australian services. If he was chairman of such a committee, and had the help of a senior officer from the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, it would be necessary for this committee to meet only about twice a year. Say, for the purposes of my argument, that it met in July. By that time the recruiting man would have found out the dates of the great shows, regattas and other occasions on which the public assemble in large numbers throughout Australia. He would submit those dates to this committee of heads of the services. He would say, “ I have mapped out a programme of the places at which I want displays put on by arms of the services “. The representatives of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force would then examine the programme. They might, for’ instance, see mentioned the Huon apple festival in March and decide that it was the suitable occasion for putting on a display in Tasmania. The Army representative might say, “ I have a band for that function “. The Air Force representative would then say, “ Right, I will give my transport squadron an outing. After all, our airmen are engaged on flying duties every day in the week, and they can take the band to Huon “. The people of Tasmania could then see the Army, the Navy and the Air Force in action. Big crowds of people would come to see such a display, and I sincerely believe that this would give an impetus to recruiting. If the committee that I suggest were formed and worked in the way that I propose, we would find that it would be easy to demonstrate the workings of the three services to millions of people in Australia each year.
Assuming that my proposal is adopted, I have one further suggestion to make. The recruiting committee would draw up its programmes and would know at least six months ahead where the services were to give displays. I know that at present money is spent on advertising by means of posters and films, and perhaps for this purpose a few advertisements might be inserted in appropriate newspapers. The committee could stage a more intensive campaign in the area in which a demonstration was to be held, for, perhaps, a week or two before and after the display.
I make these suggestions after giving the matter a lot of thought. I do hope that they will be considered not only by the DirectorGeneral of Recruiting, but also by the Ministers in charge of the three services. Let us see some action to form this committee. Let us give it a go, and introduce a changed outlook for the purpose of improving our recruiting results.
Finally, I wish to make a brief reference to the port of Strahan. I agree with Senator Poke that it would be a retrograde step to have the port down-graded. I was approached by a Labour member of the Tasmanian Parliament some weeks ago and, as a result, I communicated with the Mount Lyell company and with the Union Steamship Company Limited. The representatives of those companies agreed with the views put forward by the Labour member of Parliament. I then approached the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) on the matter, and he told me what the score was. lt appears that the port authority has to make application to the court but, before it makes application, it will hear a case prepared by those who will be most affected by the change in grading. 1 can assure Senator Poke that we have not confined ourselves to whingeing in the Parliament about the matter. Some definite action has been taken by both the shipping and mining companies to put a case to the authority. I believe that the authority will deal with the matter sympathetically and give a correct decision.
– I shall reply as quickly as I can to the points raised by various honorable senators. Senators Vincent and Laught addressed a number of inquiries to me about the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and its work. I had prepared a description of the commission and what it is doing, and I thought I would let the committee have the benefit of it during the course of this debate, in the same way as I gave a description last night of the oil search programme. However, there has been so much interest in the debate generally that I have no opportunity to give honorable senators this information, but I shall try to give it to them during the debate to-morrow on the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill.
Senator Laught suggested that the atomic energy exhibition be shown in Port Pirie and Mount Gambier. I cannot say yea or nay to that suggestion at the moment. Arrangements are definitely being made for the exhibition to be shown in Adelaide in, 1 think, March of next year. These arrangements have not been finalized, because we have not been able to obtain display space. When final arrangements have been made, we will consider the possibility of taking the exhibition to Mount Gambier and Port Pirie.
I shall refrain from replying to Senators Courtice, Seward, O’Flaherty and Wright, who dealt with the stevedoring industry, because I have already spoken twice on that matter. 1 will gladly do all that I can to follow up the case that Senator O’Flaherty mentioned, if he will send me the relevant file. 1 make no comment on Senator Marriott’s proposal about the recruiting campaign. As I said earlier, I pass on suggestions such as that to the relevant Ministers. I do not think it is competent for me to express views on matters that are within the province of another Minister.
Senator Toohey spoke of homes for the aged. I remind him that the amount of money spent in this direction is determined, to some extent, by the applications received. We must get the applications before we can deal with them.
– That is the point I was raising.
– But it is not easy to go out and search for applications. The department believes that the required number of applications will be made to enable the Minister to spend the money that has been appropriated for the purpose.
In reply to Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin’s question concerning the housekeeper service, I can say that the following amounts were granted in the various States: New South Wales ?5,900, Victoria ?4,100, Western Australia ?1,000, Tasmania ?500. The department makes grants in Queensland to the extent of ?2,200 a year for the two approved organizations operating in that State. The department follows up these matters to ensure that organizations spend the money for the purpose for which it is granted.
Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin also asked for details of the number of persons rehabilitated during the year under the Commonwealth rehabilitation scheme. The short answer is that the details are given on pages 12 and 13 of the annual report of the Director-General of Health, and it would be better for the honorable senator to get the information at first hand than for me to try to give it from the notes that I have.
The honorable senator also asked a question regarding the proposed vote of ?51,000 for defence food research. This item is in the vote for tfr? Department of the Army this year for the first time. It previously came under the Department of Trade. In substance, the amount is provided to cover research work on the production of a highly nutritive balanced ration food pack. In other words, it is a dehydrated compressed food pack, soldiers, for the use of, one. A great deal of research work is being done to produce a good article for active service use, and, of course, for use in training. It is research conducted with a view to producing the article itself, rather than research concerning the container or the method of carrying the article.
Senator Wright referred to the proposed vote of ?330,000 for the recruiting campaign, and asked specifically about newspaper advertising. My recollection is that a similar question was asked by another honorable senator. Of the amount of ?330,000 proposed to be provided for the recruiting campaign, ?243,000 is for advertising. This covers newspaper and poster advertising. I have not a dissection of the amount showing what is spent on newspaper advertising and what is spent on posters. Expressing a superficial view, I should say that poster advertising would account for an appreciable proportion of the total amount, if the position in other capital cities is similar to that in Sydney, where there are large numbers of posters on the hoardings advertising the recruiting campaign.
I now refer to the matter of providing for aged persons the blankets that will become surplus following the curtailment of the national service training scheme. The best information I can obtain is that discussions are going on between the Ministers for the Navy, the Army and Air, to see, first, whether there is a surplus stock of blankets, and secondly, whether it would be possible in some practical way to make them available to those who are in need.
asked for a dissection of the proposed appropriation for advertising. I can do no more than refer him to the answer that I have already given. Senator Hannaford asked for information about the Pacific Islands Regiment. There is no information available about the number of Australian Regular Army officers serving with the regiment, but it would be very small. I am not certain of the period of service, but I think that it is two years. The rate of pay for natives is £46 per annum.
The position regarding compassionate allowances payable under the social services legislation is that the Director-General of Social Services has a discretion to pay pensions to alien’s who had resided in Australia prior to 1st January, 1902. My recollection of the matter, from the time that I held the social services portfolio, is that the recipients of these allowances are mainly elderly Chinese who have been in Australia for many years and have not been naturalized.
– I had intended to refer to the proposed vote for the Department of Social Services, prompted by the contributions to the debate of Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, Senator Toohey and, to a less degree, Senator Cameron, but I now find that the Minister has dealt with most of the matters to which I proposed to refer. Nevertheless, I support the plea of Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin that the housekeeper service should be supplemented, if it is possible to do so. I do not think that every one appreciates the significance of this service in social welfare work, particularly in regard to assistance to people who have had to undergo hospital treatment. As we know, large hospitals all over Australia are experiencing pressing demands for their beds, with the result that there is a tendency for hospitals to become principally surgical hospitals.
Frequently, elderly people, for a variety of reasons, have to be admitted to hospitals at which the demand for beds is very great. If there is a domiciliary service, it can be used to supplement the aid that the family of a sick aged person can give, and also to assist the hospital people, such as almoners. An elderly person can be discharged from hospital much sooner if there is assistance at home, thereby making the hospital bed available for a surgical case. It is well known that if aged patients are returned to their homes as soon as possible they are happier and tend to improve more rapidly. At the same time, the pressure on the hospitals is relieved. However, it often happens that, on the home front, there is a need of assistance. An emergency housekeeper can do the things that require to be done urgently, and ‘in this -way the housekeeper service ‘helps >to overcome ‘the tremendous problems that -confront social workers from day to day.
Senator Toohey spoke about ;homes for the aged and suggested that the aged persons’ homes scheme should be expanded. I think that everybody will agree that that is a desirable objective. The Government itself thinks so, of course, because this year the -allocation for .this .purpose has been increased from £1,500,000 to £3,000,000, and the Commonwealth contribution to the various organizations is to be on the basis of £2 for every £1 raised by the organizations, instead of £1 for every £1 raised by them. We have to appreciate that big capital works are not constructed, from the ground up. overnight. No doubt Senator Toohey will agree that if it is proposed to build a dormitory, or an institution such as a hospital, for the aged, preliminary planning and designing is necessary, so that many months may go by before the organizations interested in this work are in a position to seek financial assistance from the Government. That is why, at the outset, the demand for such’ assistance, on the £2-for-£l Basis, will not be as great as it will be subsequently. Obviously, now that the organizations know that they will be able to obtain this increased assistance they will look to their financial position and start preliminary planning. I expect that the demand for aid from the Government probably will reach the limit by next financial year.
Senator Toohey also commented on the rent that aged people pay for the homes that are provided. That was a valid point, but at the same time I am satisfied that the departmental people would have considered the matter and would have seen to it that there was no imposition. I think that the rents that the inmates would be asked to pay would be of a nominal nature.
– Why does the honorable senator assume that?
– Because, from my experience of departmental officers in the field of social services - and it is only the experience of a humble senator - and as a director of both the Good Samaritan Association, which does a lot of voluntary work, and the local hospital, I have found them to be wonderful people.
– But what authority have we in this Parliament to supervise that aspect of the scheme?
– The departmental officers have to make recommendations to the Minister. If they saw that the scheme was not operating in an equitable way, they would be obliged to tell the Minister about it, and he surely would take that into account when he was allocating funds. I think that that is normal practice, and I assume that that is what is being done.
The only other point that I want to make concerns compassionate allowances. One of the difficulties met by people engaged in social work - it is a difficulty Often experienced by the organization in which I am interested - is the lag between the time when a person applies for a social service benefit and the time that it is granted. The organization in which I am interested does not provide money, but it provides assistance in kind, if possible. It tries to assist applicants for social service benefits during the waiting period. It is often found that, in the case of an elderly person, a widow or an injured person, who applies for a social service benefit, there is delay in processing the claim. With all the goodwill of the departmental officers, they still have their job to do. They have to ascertain certain information and obtain statutory declarations.
Sometimes, people are not very efficient at filling in the forms, and sometimes the people who help them to do so are not very efficient either, so that there is delay. As we know, it is necessary to have a justice of the peace witness these documents, and an applicant is obliged to have another person say that he has known him for a certain period. All of this means that there is often a lag of some weeks before an applicant actually receives the pension to which he is entitled. It is true that the pension usually is dated back to the time of application, but there is still this delay. I wonder whether the departmental heads could be given discretion, in cases in which they had pension papers to deal with and in respect of which they knew that certain queries would be raised and that there would be delay, so that they would be able to say, “ All right. We can arrange for an advance against the pension “. There have been some very sad cases of people who, when they got their pension, were able to go back to the organization and repay money which had been lent to them. But they were financially embarrassed in the period in which they were waiting for the pension.
– What would have happened if they had not received it?
– It is a matter of judgment. Obviously, a departmental officer, if he knew that the pension would not be paid for some period would not allow an advance to be made.
– He might think that the person would get it.
– Senator Henty is stating an extreme case.
– I am not speaking of an extreme case. I am dealing with cases of persons who are eligible for pensions. Even if they could be given a partpayment it would carry them over the period.
That prompts me to mention the vote under the heading of the Prime Minister’s Department to provide moneys which are given to various organizations that do good work in the community. These organizations meet the period of lag to which I have referred when people in humble circumstances are financially embarrassed. In connexion with compassionate allowances, perhaps this problem could be examined with a view to finding some solution to it. I merely wish to say, in conclusion, that the housekeeper service about which Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin has sought information is a wonderful service. Its influence goes far beyond the extent indicated by the two simple words, “ Housekeeper service “. It does a mighty good job in the community. It eases the pressure on a lot of social service organizations. Such an organization, known as “ Meals-on-Wheels “, is operating in Sydney at the moment. It has been found that some people have been very reluctant to let “ Meals-on-Wheels “ come to their homes because of some timidity in regard to other people who live near by. In cases such as that I would think that the housekeeper service could be of tremendous assistance. I commend the Government on what it has done and plead for an improvement in such services wherever possible.
– In the short time at my disposal, I want to relate my remarks to the proposed votes for the Department of Trade. Before I deal with that subject I should like to reply to Senator Poke who regretted that there was not full employment in any industry in Australia, lt is part of the Government’s policy to promote full employment. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber regret that certain industries have not been blessed with full employment. But the records show that, over a period of 37 weeks, waterside workers have earned an average of £13 10s. a week, plus allowances, which have brought their average pay up to £16 8s. Hd. The average number of hours worked in that period was 22 a week. The addition of attendance money, sick pay and other extras brought their receipts up to £16 8s. Hd. a week.
– Senator Wardlaw’s salary is better than that, is it not?
– 1 am not talking about that. When Senator Poke was speaking, I asked him to give these figures and he refused to give them. He must have had them at his disposal because he gave related figures which did not fully indicate the position. Included in the figures which I think the honorable senator had was the information that the longest week worked in that period was one of 35 hours for which the men received £22 lis. lid: That is the position in regard to waterside workers in Hobart. I admit that they have amongst their complement some very fine workers. But they do cause quite a lot of upset in the shipping world by their sudden strikes which cause a continual loss of money to shipowners and shippers. As the Opposition has admitted, they also cause a slow turnround of ships.
With regard to Senator O’Flaherty’s reference to import licensing, I want to say that this in itself is not a plank in the Government’s policy. Import licensing had to be implemented in the interests of the economy of the country. But as Government supporters stated earlier, it is our intention to lift it where possible and as early as possible. When one remembers that 600,000 import licences are in operation one realizes that it is very difficult to give full attention to specific cases. I know that there are many cases of hardship to which it is not altogether possible to give the attention that the Government would like to give to them. The reason for implementing import licensing, in the first instance, was to protect the currency. At that time, it was not possible to consider cases of hardship.
With regard to the Department of Trade, I should like to pay a tribute to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and his very fine staff for the work that they have done in the short time at their disposal. Their present organization consists of elements of two previous departments, the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Customs. The officers of the new department have done a magnificent job and they have cause to congratulate themselves on the results achieved. Not only are they settling down to their new duties but they are achieving results of immense value to the economy of the country, and they have brought about an improvement in our trade relationships with overseas countries.
The appointment of trade commissioners overseas has been a very great success. Those commissioners have been selected with great care and, I think, with an eye to their ability and experience in the particular trade that they represent and their experience of the country to which they have been appointed. This, in itself, has been conducive to good results. One might say that the trade commissioners have established listening posts of trade. I believe that they will submit in their reports, from time to time, particulars of the trade that can be done in the countries in which they are stationed, particulars of the type of goods and the packaging required, and particulars of the quality and quantity of goods that can be sold. We shall then be in possession of facts of which we were not in possession in previous years.
That also will be to our benefit and will improve international relationships between Australia and the countries concerned- I think that the increase in the amounts allotted in the Estimates for the commercial intelligence service is completely warranted and that the expenditure on this service will further justify itself. Some of these amounts have been increased considerably but I believe that, from time to time, they should be increased further. I believe that the results achieved will warrant this.
The amount for trade publicity in the United Kingdom has been increased from £240,000 to £300,000 an increase of £60,000; and the amount for trade publicity in countries other than the United Kingdom has been increased from £75,000 to £110,000. This expenditure is approaching the half-million mark, but I hope the day is not far distant when we shall be justified in increasing it to £1,000,000 a year. This publicity will not only help to sell our primary products overseas but will also immeasurably increase the trade of our secondary industries. It will also be one means of showing what types of goods produced by secondary industries are the most suitable to be sold in overseas countries.
I notice that the contribution to the International Dairy Federation has been increased from £300 to £600. The federation holds its conference every three years in Europe, and I believe that from 3,000 to 4.000 delegates from all countries in the world attend it. I hope that the amounts I have mentioned will be increased from time to time as a result of increased trade.
– I wish to correct a statement which Senator Wardlaw made concerning waterside workers at Hobart, and for the purpose will use figures which his colleague, Senator Wright, cited. Senator Wardlaw suggested that 22 hours a week was sufficient for a waterside worker in Hobart. These men are prepared to work 40 hours a week and I ask why Senator Wardlaw should want to reduce their working time to 22 hours. The honorable senator suggested that there are not too many waterside workers employed at Hobart and therefore the employment offering should be shared among them. Yet he is asking for more production. The fact is that there is a surplus of labour on the waterfront at Hobart and many of those workers could turn to other useful employment if it were made available. Senator Wardlaw supports the Government’s refusal to allow these men to get other employment, and suggests that they are receiving from only 22 hours’ work a week ample remuneration on which to live.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator implied it. Surely, if these men are not being employed fully the honorable senator would not oppose some of them engaging in other occupations temporarily.
– Would they be willing to do that?
– Of course, they would. They have asked to be allowed to reduce the quota at Hobart. They have made representations to have the number of waterside workers reduced so that there might be a greater share of remuneration for those who are employed on the waterfront. They want to get a more reasonable income than they are now receiving for their 22 hours’ work. It is completely untrue to say that they are continually causing stoppages and strikes which result in increases in freights. When the honorable senator talks about the waterside workers and their incomes he should state facts and be realistic. I do not think that anybody can say that 22 hours a week is sufficient work to satisfy a man who is willing to work 40 hours. But that is the position on the Hobart waterfront, and I use Senator Wright’s figures as the basis for that statement.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The time allotted for consideration of the proposed votes at present before the Chair has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8pm.
Department of Customs and Excise.
Proposed Vote, £4,060,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Customs and Excise.
Proposed Vote, £50,000.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed Vote, £4,553,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of the Interior.
Proposed Vote, £89,000.
Proposed Vote, £119,000.
Australian Capital Territory.
Proposed Vote, £3,025,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– I direct the attention of the committee to the proposed vote for the Australian Capital Territory, in particular
Division No. 280D - Education, item 11, “ Private schools - Reimbursement of interest on capital borrowed for construction and extension of school buildings, £7,300”. The committee should consider this matter seriously and soberly, because it has been the subject of public discussion for some fifteen months and, as far as I know, nothing has been said about it in the Parliament.- I think we would be doing a grave wrong to ourselves and our constituents if we allowed this small item to slip through as though it were a piece of contraband goods smuggled through under the unwatchful eye of a sleepy customs officer.
Honorable senators interjecting,
– I beg your pardon, Mr. Chairman. The simile was taken not from the practice of Australian customs officers, who are always vigilant, but from that of officials of certain other countries which, for the sake of international amity, I shall not mention - possibly countries on the other side of the world.
This matter has been discussed very fully in other quarters. We are now asked to give our assent to it some fifteen months after it first became a matter for public discussion. I believe that it was on 9th July, 1956, that in the “ Canberra Times “ and other newspapers there appeared a report that the Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) had made an offer to private schools. We are all aware of the nature of it, so I do not propose to take up the time of the committee in discussing it. Briefly, it was simply to the effect that the Government would pay the interest on money borrowed by private schools. So, when the matter comes before us, I feel that the honour and the good faith of the Commonwealth have already been pledged. If the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty), who is accepting responsibility in this chamber for this section of the Estimates, or any one else thinks that is a wrong statement, he may correct me. I feel that we are not in the position we ought to be in freely to refuse our assent.
As you, Mr. Chairman, know, I obtained certain information in reply to a question, and it seems that in three schools a start has already been made with buildings and that the authorities concerned have bor rowed money. To refuse to agree to this vote would be to repudiate what is in effect, if not in law, a pledge made by the Commonwealth Government. For that reason, I am not opposing the vote; but I want to make my own position, which I think is shared by many other people in this country, perfectly plain. I regard the Commonwealth Government as being a mere trustee carrying on education for the time being in the Australian Capital Territory. I, in common with my colleagues on the Select Committee on Canberra, have stated in the committee’s report that at the earliest possible moment the people of this Territory should take over all such local matters as concern themselves and themselves alone, and that among those things should be education.
– The committee did not say that.
– The honorable senator may correct me later. I wish to pursue my argument in my own way.
– Well, do not commit the committee on this.
– What the committee said in its report can be left for later discussion. I take it that what was recommended was that as far as possible local self-government should be introduced. I believe that the Government should hand over to the people of Canberra the education policy that they found when they came here. That policy was the education policy of New South Wales, which was laid down in 1880 - 21 years before the Commonwealth came into being.
– It is a bit out of date.
– It may be out of date, and I am not saying that it should not be reconsidered. I am not by any means raising the cry, “ Back to 1 880 “. But, if it is to be reconsidered, it should be reconsidered; it should not be predetermined by a little administrative measure slipped through without the full notice of the Parliament. That policy undoubtedly is that the only schools to which the Government shall pay money are the schools of the State or, as they are now, the schools of the Commonwealth. If people wish to alter that system, they have a perfect right to do so. I do not intend to enter into any argument as to which is the right policy; 1 merely say that that is the policy in New South Wales. It has been in existence for 77 years. I believe that the Commonwealth Parliament should hand it over to the people of this Territory at the moment they become capable of deciding that issue for themselves unimpaired.
I know that, associated with this matter, there is a peculiar argument, and it has some cogency. It is this: We are compelling people, mainly from Melbourne, to come here as public servants, and it has been argued that we should give them the type of education for their children to which they are accustomed. I see the force of that argument, but that is no reason why this matter should not have been brought before the two Houses of the Parliament and decided as a matter of public policy. I do not wish to go into the question any further, except to say that this is another instance - I think one of the worst instances - of the Executive committing the legislature in advance.
No one has ever made this position clearer than I have. When I learned of the Government’s decision from the public press, I immediately wrote to the Acting Prime Minister and told him that I was not committed by it. I shall not go into the various consultations that I had with members of my own party, because they are confidential to us; but no one in the Liberal party or the Australian Country party can have any reason for supposing that I have faltered on this matter for one second. I make it perfectly clear that I am agreeing to this proposed vote on the assumption that it is a purely temporary measure undertaken to give to the public servants who are being compelled to come here the kind of education for their children to which they are accustomed. I am not committing myself to any policy which contravenes the general Australian policy, and certainly the policy of New South Wales, that the State pays for the public schools and the public schools only.
.- I refer to the proposed vote for the Department of the Interior and address my remarks to Division No. 65. - Administrative. For some years, there has been great agitation in the City of Melbourne over the retention by the Commonwealth of portions of parks that were taken over during the war years. In not one case where application was made for parks to be handed over to help to bring the war to a successful conclusion was any objection raised. But one portion I know well was given on the understanding that the land would be handed back as soon as practicable after the war. It is now a long time since the war ended.
Agreements were reached between the Chief Property Officer of the Department of the Interior in Melbourne and the Albert Park Trust, but seemingly those agreements are worthless when it comes to getting back the park lands. As far back as February, 1956, Mr. Doolan and the chairman of the Albert Park Trust had several conferences and made an inspection of that portion of Albert Park still held by the Commonwealth. The outcome was an agreement that certain areas were to be handed back in June, 1957, June, 1958, and June, 1959. It is true that in June, 1957, a portion of the area that should have been given back at that time was given back. The only reason why the Albert Park Trust was able to obtain that area was that it happened to be covered by a very big shed. There were ways of getting the shed back. One way would have been to erect a fence around it and put new locks on the doors. There was not very much trouble there, although the Department of Supply did attempt to retain the property.
When an agreement is reached between a responsible officer of the department and the park trust, every one expects that the agreement will be carried out. Occupying the area that was retained, although there was agreement that it should be handed back, is a unit of the Army. When the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) was in Melbourne, I asked him to inspect the conditions under which men under his ministerial control were housed in this area. He went there, for which I thank him. J explained to him the attitude of the Department of the Interior. I said, “ Surely one should be able to accept the word of the Chief Property Officer of the department in a capital city. He must be taken to act for the department”. The Minister said, “ I admit that all you say is right. Conditions there are not worthy of the Australian
Army, lt is a disgrace for men to have to live there “. He promised that he would attempt to have provision made in the Estimates for this year for the construction at Watsonia of a camp iri keeping with the needs of Army personnel, so that this portion of the park could be handed back. But in the Estimates we find no provision for that camp at Watsonia.
Albert Park is not the only area affected. There is also an area in Royal Park. I do not believe there is any justification for the Commonwealth to retain these areas, lt still has 1 1 i acres at Debney’s Paddock, Flemington, which was supposed to be a park. On behalf of the Albert Park Trust, 1 ask: From whom are we to get redress if the undertaking given by the Chief Property Officer of the department is not carried out? Is it the intention of the present administration to retain the park areas that it holds, except those areas on which buildings are erected? As I have said, there are other ways in which buildings can be recovered. Must other methods be adopted than making agreements with the Chief Property Officer?
The Commonwealth has not a valid case. I believe that the Government merely says, “ What does it matter if we continue to occupy these areas? “ I inform the Government that it matters very much to the people of Melbourne. We recognize that it is not possible for the Commonwealth to wave a wand and hand back immediately the 44£ acres that it retains in Albert Park, No one would ask for that to be done. But it was agreed that a certain area would be handed back each year. We want the Government to honour the promise made by a senior officer of the Department of the Interior.
I should like to know on what basis the Department of the Interior fixes rents for these areas. I asked a question on this matter a few days ago, and in reply I was told that the Commonwealth pays £2,362 10s. a year in rent for the 1 If acres on which its buildings stand in Debney’s Paddock. That works out at roughly £201 an acre. It is true that in respect of that land the Government is dealing with the Melbourne City Council. It may have friends on that body. Until 1949, the Commonwealth held 55* acres in Albert Park, but in that year, when Mr. Chambers was Minister for the Army, I was successful in having 9 acres relinquished. So this matter was not left in abeyance until there was an anti-Labour government in Canberra. After that 9 acres was returned, the Commonwealth still held 46± acres in Albert Park at an annual rental of £125. What is the difference? Albert Park is nearer to the heart of the city than is Flemington. I ask the Government to honour its obligation. I understand that the Department of the Interior is responsible for hiring buildings and land. It is not much good that department making an agreement if later one of its officers comes along and says, “ I have done all that I can, but the Army won’t get out “. In June, 1958, we may be told that the Department of Air is in possession. A prime responsibility rests on the department that pays the rent. Also, assessment of rent should take into account proximity to the city and other matters that are considered when areas of land or buildings are let in the course of ordinary commercial life.
The Government should not hide behind the excuse that these buildings were put up for war purposes. I point out to the Minister - in case he does not know - that for many years - indeed until 1946, after the war had ended - the Government paid £122 a year for the use of 56 acres in Albert Park. There was no argument about it, but when certain people who were interested in Albert Park found out what the then government - it was not this Government - was paying private individuals for the use of land, even during the war, they felt that the Albert Park Trust should seek a higher rental. After all, the trust had the task of maintaining and improving these areas.
The plain fact is that an agreement has been made, but not kept. It is not enough for the Government to hide behind the particular department occupying the premises. It should discharge its task of finding suitable areas of land on which offices can be built. I can speak in only the highest terms of the officer with whom I have discussed this matter. Quite rightly, he feels his position. He made an agreement in good faith, and then found that it was not kept.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
’.- I wish- to refer to Division No. 210 - Civil Defence - in the estimates for the Defence Services. .Last year the vote- was £133,000, and actual’ expenditure- £129,714. The proposed’ vote for this year is- £119,000, or £10;000 less than was actually spent last year. Am I correct in assuming that the whole of last year’s- expenditure of £129;714 was devoted to the Civil Defence School at Mount Macedon? The reduction of £10,000 in the vote could indicate either that the functions of the school are being curtailed, or that the Government feels it has gone as far as it can at this stage in providing civil defence, or it could1’ indicate both.
In passing, I should like to say that I believe that the Civil Defence School at Mount Macedon has so far done a most worth-while job of civil defence preparation. It is especially well staffed. The commandant is well versed’ in his profession, is able to appeal’ to men and to impart his knowledge, and is supported by an- excellent staff who are sold on the importance of their task. I understand that at this stage the school’ is purely and simply an indoctrination centre. It has, by using Commonwealth funds under Commonwealth supervision, brought together from the far-flung parts of Australia responsible people in almost every walk of life. It has instructed’ Federal and State members of Parliament, newspaper executives, leaders of women’s- organizations, senior firefighting officers, and so on. Those people have since spread their new-found knowledge far and’ wide throughout Australia.
I fear that if the reduction of the proposed vote means that such exercises will be curtailed, we shall not be accepting our responsibilities. I. give the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) and the Government full credit for what has been done at Mount Macedon. The time has now arrived to develop civil defence even further. I am not suggesting that we should follow the practices adopted in other countries. I understand that Sweden is insisting that air raid shelters be built into every new home. The United States of America is spending vast sums on civil defence. The limited peace-time powers of the Federal Government make it imperative that the Government confer with State
Governments and formulate a plan- to- meet’ any emergency.
For some years now the Government hasspent about £200,000,000 annually in improving the defences of this country. If 1 had any guarantee that the next war would be fought on conventional lines, I should not be advocating to-night that we pursue a policy of civil defence. No thinking- person can deny the fact that, while the iron curtain countries remain anxious to dominate the world, there is always the chance that we may be called upon to defend ourselves from the effects of nuclear warfare. There is not a thinking person who does not pray that nuclear war will never afflict our land or any other land. For years the Government has spent large sums of money on conventional defence. Therefore, it admits, as we all admit, that there is with us a threat of war. The only thing that we are not agreed upon, and on which we can get no worthwhile evidence, is - what type of war? We do know, however, that the major countries a~re spending vast sums of money to perfect weapons with nuclear war-heads. So I suggest again to the Minister and the Government that the time has come when the Commonwealth and the States should get together to plan a nation-wide defence system. In my own State we have, as I said the other day, an organization which is ready, willing and anxious to be told what to do about employing its capacities in respect of civil defence and civil defence training. I refer to the fire services in Victoria. I understand that New South Wales is the only State that has anything in the nature of a State plan to operate in the event of nuclear war. I know that Victoria is seeking a lead so that it may play its part, and in the fire services organization there we have something like 100,000 men who, since they give their time and energies to fire service work without hope of reward, are of the best type one could get. To-day, these men in the Victorian fire services are urging that they be allowed to attend the Mount Macedon civil defence school so as to gain knowledge which they will be able to impart to others. Whilst these organizations are in existence, ready and willing to play a part in the defence of this country, it would be most unwise for the Government to consider the establishment of any other type of organization, because dual control means confusion.
These men are well organized, well trained and well equipped, and they desire to give service.
I have raised these points in the hope that the reduction of £10,000 in this year’s estimate for civil defence as against last year’s actual expenditure, small as it may seem in a budget providing for the expenditure of £1,300,000,000, does not indicate that the activities at the Mount Macedon school are to be curtailed. I put it to the Government that they should not be curtailed, because to-day many people in this country are concerned about their responsibilities and the eventualities that would come to pass if, unfortunately, we were embroiled in an atomic war.
.- The item that I wish to discuss has been covered by Senator Wade.
– Then sit down.
– There are aspects of it, however, that I should like honorable senators, particularly Senator Scott, to listen to, because if that honorable senator would pay a little more attention to the need for civil defence, and perhaps a little less to the subject of mining, the public would be further indoctrinated regarding the need for civil defence, which, as Senator Wade said, is so important in view of the threat that overhangs mankind. If we are to survive as a species - if our habitation of this earth is to continue - we have to give a lot of consideration to this subject. I am very disappointed indeed to find that the proposed vote for civil defence has been reduced from last year’s estimate of £133,000 to £119,000 this year. I should like to quote to honorable members the thoughts of Mr. Duncan Sandys, a very well-respected member of the British Cabinet, and Minister for Defence in the United Kingdom.
– Who is that?
– Duncan Sandys, son-in-law of Winston Churchill, war-time Prime Minister. He had this to say -
There has never been a weapon to which an answer has not been found sooner or later . . .
If civilization is to be saved from destroying itself, either intentionally or by mistake, there must be disarmament - genuine, comprehensive disarmament. It must not be confined to a limitation of nuclear weapons, on which the safety of the free world depends, without a counter-balancing reduction in the superior conventional forces of the Communist States.
If the great powers could agree to disarm and set up a system of international control, we should have gone a good way along the road which will, I hope, lead us eventually to the establishment of a world authority with a world police force.
That is a great purpose. That is something to which this Parliament and all people throughout the world should give their closest thought, because it is the only way that mankind can survive. It seems to me that we have to face up to the fact that this great threat exists while the two major industrial nations of the world have the tremendous striking power of the thermonuclear bomb.
The work of the civil defence school which has been set up at Mount Macedon is in very competent hands - the hands of a man who has dedicated himself to this important task of civil defence. I had the great privilege of doing a course at that school under Air Commodore Knox-Knight, and I want to pay a tribute to the enthusiasm and vigour with which he is applying himself to the tremendous problem of civil defence training. But he says that part of the story of the enormous problem of civil defence is that we unfortunately, and he unfortunately, are not able to impress on the Government itself, or the people of Australia, the magnitude of the threat that hangs over us. Many people do not realize that, particularly in view of the latest developments in intercontinental ballistic missiles and guided missiles and the earth satellite, the whole of the world is now within the field of atomic or thermo-nuclear attack. Any city in the world can now be reached with a thermo-nuclear missile, and the present stage of development of the thermo-nuclear bomb is such that a city like Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane could be knocked right out in one hit. That means that civil defence becomes a matter of protecting your deterrent. Each country must build its deterrent. Unfortunately, mankind has not reached a stage where it has enough comprehension of the magnitude of this destructive weapon. While one side has it the other side must build up an equal and opposite deterrent. So, civil defence is to-day a matter of protecting your deterrent, and the only way to protect your deterrent is to have superiority in the air. We must have an effective and efficient air force, and to-day the Air Force is the first line, the only line of defence. The Navy becomes inferior, the Army becomes obsolete when compared with the ability of the Air Force to protect the deterrent. Il gives us mastery of the skies over our own country, and that is of great importance. It is all-important. On this subject the people of the United States of America–
Senator Scott interjecting,
– Please, I have less than fifteen minutes in which to describe this very important matter, and I hope that Senator Scott will enlarge on it later on, because so few people are lending their thoughts to this threat that overhangs mankind. All the quibbling little pettifogging things we are discussing in relation to these Estimates go for nothing if we cannot approach this matter properly and let the people of Australia know that we are tackling the problem in a workmanlike manner. The story of the Civil Defence School is reaching a dead-end. The information made available through its training scheme is not being disseminated or distributed. Only a few selected people are invited to go along and do the course. Only a limited number can be accommodated. The enthusiastic men there give all their time in trying to impart the knowledge that they have, but it is only a drop in the ocean. So if we get a chance in this Parliament even to convince other members of the importance of this Civil Defence School we will have accomplished something. This piffling amount of £119,000 cannot even begin to tackle the problem. I believe that Air Commodore Knox-Knight should be made commander-in-chief of a civil defence force which would be a fourth arm of the defence forces. The others would be the Air Force as the superior arm and the Navy and the Army in junior positions.
Senator Wade mentioned protection against blast. We shall not be able to bother about people who have been mangled and burned by atomic blast in the centre of the big cities, but 12 to 30 miles outside the cities there will be people who have been less severely mangled, burned and seared, and there will be a chance of saving some of them. Therefore, we should coordinate ambulance and fire-fighting services and prepare hospitals in caves and similar places where the patients will be able to escape from the effects of radio-activity. These are preparations that an emergency service can organize.
We must make provision for the adequate defence of our deterrent to nuclear attack - the Air Force. We must get the people to understand the nature of the threat of thermo-nuclear warfare so that they are prepared, if an attack should come, to go to the assistance of other cities that are in. distress. The people should be taught first aid so that they can treat casualties or protect them outside the affected areas. Fire-fighting appliances must be ready to gofrom one city to help those in another area. All these services must be co-ordinated, To-day, unfortunately, we find nothing but apathy towards civil defence. A blind eye has been turned towards it because we have a false sense of security.
We are not getting our message through to others in our international negotiations. The United States of America has countless millions of dollars to spend on civil defence. The authorities there are building huge air raid shelters, but with radio activity and strontium 90 fallout, food and even the soil is contaminated. Modern civil defence is such a terrific problem that all we can do is defend our deterrent force.
Civil defence as I have outlined it is not the baby of the Department of Defence or of the civil authorities. It falls somewhere between the two. Regardless of the fine work that has been done by conscientious men at Mount Macedon, I believe that the civil side of defence will have to be coordinated to include fire-fighting, first air! and hospitalization. Civil defence will have to become the fourth arm of the combined defence forces. I hope that the Government will approach this problem on that level. Steps should be taken to protect the rocket range at Maralinga in the event of a crisis.
– But is it not the policy of the honorable senator to ban atomic tests?
– A Labour government established the Woomera rocket range. Senator Marriott and other supporters of the Government are walking around like mobile sideshows, wearing a uniform and beating a drum trying to get boys to volunteer and to shoot bullets made at St. Mary’s against thermo-nuclear bombs. What an old-fashioned approach that is to defence!
The people of Australia are not fully aware of the terrific threat that hangs over mankind. There is no effective defence against thermo-nuclear bombs, and we can only hope that, from within ourselves, we can persuade mankind to realize the stupidity of a nuclear war. We must get others to see the light and to realize that nobody can be successful in a future war. We can only prepare in our primitive way to save as many lives as possible if any of our cities should be attacked with thermo-nuclear weapons.
.- I wish to refer to the proposed vote for the Department of Customs and Excise and, in particular, to film censorship and general administrative censorship of imported literature which comes under the control of that department. I congratulate the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) upon his healthy approach to the whole vexed question of censorship and also upon the vigorous reorganization of that branch of his administration that he has undertaken, particularly in the censorship of books. However, because of some extraordinary reports of crimes of sex and violence that have been committed by or charged against young men of fifteen to twenty years of age, I am moved to ask the Minister to be doubly vigilant on certain scores.
During the past three days, the newspapers of New South Wales and Victoria have carried reports of these grim matters. I may have missed some of them. I simply refer to them without comment since some of the cases have not been finalized before the courts. In Sydney, a few days ago, a youth aged fifteen years was charged with the murder of his father by poison. He was convicted of manslaughter. In New South Wales again, a lad of fifteen years was charged with the brutal murder of a girl aged six years. In Sydney also a group of young men, all except one under twenty years of age, have been charged with serious offences, including rape, against two girls of fourteen years. In Melbourne, a youth of eighteen years pleaded guilty to maliciously 1 wounding a nine-year-old boy by slashing him with a knife on the face, nose, neck, arm, chest and buttocks. Finally, he partly dismembered the child.
In the light of this horrible record of crime and ferocity, I am moved to examine the smallest loophole through which incitement to that sort of action can reach our young men. I do not know the extent to which evil literature may have conditioned the minds of the persons concerned in these particular crimes, but I do know that in Melbourne recently, when a boy of fifteen was convicted of murdering his eighteen-year-old sister with a knife, defending counsel at his trial blamed the influence of lurid comics and evil literature upon his young mind.
I know that the Commonwealth Government has no power to act against pornography originating within Australia, but I know also that the Department of Customs and Excise bans the import of literature on a number of grounds. I understand that the department has banned the entry into Australia of books which advocate the assassination of members of Parliament. I do not cavil at that decision although uncharitable persons might argue a case to the contrary. However, I ask the Minister to be doubly vigilant in seeing that overseas films and works of filth and pornography which are likely to assassinate the feelings of moral decency and rectitude in our young manhood are definitely excluded from Australia.
The other request I have is related to the Department of the Interior. It is in some ways allied to the topic I have just discussed although on a more pleasant level.
I should like now to refer to item 2 of Division No. 70C - News and Information Bureau, Film Production - for which the proposed vote is £60,000. At first sight, this amount appears to be grossly inadequate for the important tasks performed by this branch of the Department of the Interior. It seems scarcely sufficient to buy a reasonable quantity of film stock for a few decent documentaries let alone cover other inescapable disbursements that go to the making of a reasonable film.
I have seen some excellent films produced by this bureau, both from the point of view of subject-matter and technical excellence. 1 should like the Minister to inform me of the proposed filming programme for this year and, in particular, the number of staff employed on the production of these films. I go a little further at this stage and I take this opportunity of asking the Government to sponsor some form of competition with a really substantial and worth-while prize - I mean substantial - for the production of a half-hour or an hour film suitable for general display here or abroad either as a short feature or for television.
I know that some people will say, “ But we are producing films here all over the place “. I should like them to consider how many of those films have left a lasting impression on their minds. I think it should be a condition of such a competition that the film should not deal with Dad and Dave, Ned Kelly, the Melbourne Cup, kangaroos, koalas, Bondi Beach, or the slums of Collingwood or Carlton, but should depict normal, wholesome life in Australia in such a way as to impress our friends and allies without being phony or artificial.
We need foreign capital for development, and fresh trade oppportunities with other countries. One of the best ways of encouraging this state of affairs is by the distribution of suitable films in Australia and overseas. Because of our small local market, I think it is reasonable that private enterprise should be primed in this direction. There is no doubt, for example, that the United States of America has gained great commercial, social, and perhaps cultural advantages from the output from Hollywood. Italy has been virtually put on its feet by American dollar aids since the war. Marshall aid and grants without strings up to the end of last year amounted to 3,840,000,000 dollars, and loans up to last March, 744,000,000 dollars. There is no doubt that Italian films helped to condition the minds of the American people who were called upon to bear heavy taxes in order to make these grants possible. The Italian film industry has created a favorable impression in the minds of the American people. I shall not mention names, but some members of the Italian film industry are well known even in Australia.
The British viewpoint has also been well presented to the world in films, especially during World War II. I recently had an opportunity of viewing on television one of these classics called “ The First of the Few “, which was a semi-documentary dealing with the life of Mr. Mitchell, who was the inventor and designer of the Spitfire. The lead was played by the late Leslie Howard, and as the story unfolded it presented a gripping and enthralling record of patriotism, patient scientific inquiry and devotion to duty. The film was designed to create a favorable impression in the minds of all who viewed it of the British way of doing things. Certainly, it was a great boost for the British way of life.
Why cannot we, in Australia, with the stimulus of government assistance, get the benefit of films like this? I make this suggestion to the Minister: What an absorbing story, both from the entertainment and propaganda points of view - using “ propaganda “ in its best sense - would be provided, for example, by a film based on the life of the late Evelyn Owen, the young inventor of the Owen gun? It could portray the story of his adventurous boyhood, his first work - on his own initiative - on an automatic gun, and its rejection by the Army-
– Why does not the honorable senator read the book to us?
– Oh, keep quiet! It could then show the fortuitous re-discovery of the gun by an important industrialist; the second thrilling test by the Army, including test shooting with international competitors; how it was tested and tortured, without succumbing, in a manner which broke the back of the American Thompson submachine gun and the German Sten; and how the three guns were thrown into a barrel of mud and then taken out and fired. The picture would show how the German Sten gun stuttered a few rounds, coughed and stopped; how the American Thompson fired a few rounds and jammed; how the Owen gun emptied its whole magazine without a stammer; how repeated tests gave the same answer; and how this gun helped turn the tide of battle in New Guinea, where it played a big part in stemming the advance of the Japanese. It could show Owen’s reward, and his subsequent early death at Wollongong, in New South Wales.
Something of that nature, having nothing to do with kangaroos and koalas, would be the type of propaganda that would impress our friends and allies. Why cannot we tell the world in films that we produce men of the calibre of Evelyn Owen? In this age of jet aircraft, how interested would other nations be in a film depicting the almost incredible adventures of the Australian pioneers, Parer and Mcintosh, who flew a decrepit old DH9 - repaired in parts with tinplate and fencing wire - from England to Australia; the stunt flying in India to raise money for expenses; and the whole host of other matters which would make a documentary depicting the courage and resourcefulness of the Australian people!
I appeal to the Government to consider some sort of stimulant for the development of a film industry of this nature. I feel that we should do well both nationally and internationally by proceeding along those lines. In conclusion, I ask the Minister to inform me of the department’s filming programme for this year, and whether the Government will consider taking some action to stimulate the production of classical or epic films within our own country.
– I should like to reply to some of the matters .that have been raised while they are fresh in my memory and while I have the information close at hand.
Senator McCallum referred to the provision of £25,000 for the reimbursement of interest to the extent of 5 per cent, on borrowings by existing schools in Canberra. The honorable senator, after posing a question, really answered it himself when he said that this is only a temporary measure. That, of course, is the position. The reimbursement arrangement is limited to a period of twenty years from the date of each borrowing, and it has been brought about by a peculiar set of circumstances. The Government had decided on a substantial movement of the Public Service staff of central offices from Melbourne to Canberra, and provision is being made in Canberra for their accommodation and assimilation. The schools were faced with the position that they had suddenly to provide additional accommodation for the children who would be coming here and who were entitled to facilities along the lines of those they enjoy in Melbourne. There were four applications for loans. Honorable senators will remember that I outlined particulars of them in my reply to a question that was asked upon notice.
– From whom were the four applications received?
– Applications were received from the Canberra Grammar School, the Canberra Church of England Girls’ Grammar School, St. Edmund’s Christian Brothers College, and, on behalf of the new secondary school at Braddon, by the Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn. Those applications were approved, and various blocks of school buildings are now being erected to cope with the expected sudden influx of children. As I have said, this is a temporary measure, introduced to meet a set of circumstances not likely to arise again. I think this answers the points that were raised by Senator McCallum.
Senator Kennelly referred to the continued occupation by the federal authorities of large areas of parkland in the City of Melbourne. He has consistently followed this bent ever since he entered this chamber, and I admire his tenacity. I think the honorable senator will concede that the rentals that the Government has paid for land it occupies in Albert Park have been a very useful contribution to the Albert Park Trust over the last few years. Of course, the honorable senator has quibbled about the amount of payments, and perhaps he has some justification for so doing. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Albert Park Trust on using the money derived by rental to develop its property.
The gradual moving of the central staff of the Department of the Army from Melbourne to Canberra is a long-winded job, and again, the present situation has arisen from a queer set of circumstances. We have to make provision for the personnel in Canberra before we can vacate these parkland areas in Melbourne. I shall bring the matters he raised before my colleague and see what can be done to speed things up. On present indications, however, I do not hold out great hope of very much being done before 1959.
Senator Wade raised the subject of civil defence and Senator O’Byrne also referred to it. Senator Wade wanted to know the reason why the proposed vote for civil defence this year is £10,000 less than the expenditure last year. The sum of £119,000 appearing in the Estimates for civil defence will be spent on the Mount Macedon civil defence school in Victoria, as Senator Wade suggested. The expenditure will be as follows: -
The expenditure in the present financial year will be in accordance with a five-year plan which the Government has undertaken on the advice of the services. Naturally, in the first year a greater expenditure on equipment was necessary than will be the case in the succeeding years. The £10,000 reduction does not mean that there will be a reduction in the actual services. I think that covers the query raised by Senator Wade. Senator O’Byrne dealt with a matter of policy which I do not intend to traverse in a debate on the Estimates. We all have different opinions on these things.
Senator Hannan dealt with the subject of censorship and raised the highly controversial question of the censorship of comics and films. As he said, the Commonwealth Government is not responsible for the censorship of comics, books or literature generally published in Australia. That is a matter that comes entirely within the jurisdiction of the States. It is to the State governments that the people should look if they want any alteration of the existing system of censorship of books and comics produced within Australia. The Commonwealth Government, under its power in respect of imports, is responsible for imported publications.
I agree with a lot of what Senator Hannan said. However, this is a highly contentious matter. I have been traversing the field of censorship during the last few months with tremendous interest. I do not mind admitting frankly that I have learned more about this problem in the last few -weeks than I had learned in the rest of my life. I have found that there is a tremendous difference of opinion on the subject. On the one hand, some people advocate there should be no censorship at all, while, on the other hand, others desire to lay down standards which I think would be far too rigid for an enlightened community such as this. To my mind, it is a matter of judgment to arrive at a sensible balance between those two points of view.
One or two books on the effect of comics on children are well worthy of study by those interested in the problem. One book, entitled “The Seduction of the Innocent”, refers to the work done by Dr. Waltham in this field. That book is well worth studying. I do not think we can be too careful about what we allow really young children to see and read, but, believe me, we shall not keep undesirable comics from them so much by government regulation as by the exercise of care by the parents of Australia, whose responsibility it is to bring up their families in the proper way and control what they read. Parents should watch what their children read and encourage them to look at good things. The Government can do a lot in the field of censorship, but it is up to the parents to help to solve the problem with which we are faced.
My department is fully cognizant of the problem and is watching very closely the publications coming into Australia. We hope to deal with the problem in a balanced way. A tremendous quantity of what the department calls “ pulp “ is coming into the country. That is dealt with on a departmental level, because I would not insult the intelligence of the Literature Censorship Board by sending that sort of stuff to them. It would be merely a waste of their time. If honorable senators saw some of the terror and horror comics that come from overseas, they would realize that even if the department makes an occasional mistake in dealing with them, it is well worth while making occasional mistakes in order to keep some of this stuff from coming into Australia.
– I wish to address my remarks to the proposed vote for the Department of Customs and Excise. At the outset, let me say that I realize that this department faces some difficult problems, particularly in relation to the censorship of books and films. The proposed vote this year for film censorship is £35,500 and expenditure last year was £29,688, which means that the estimated increase of expenditure this year is about £6,000. I should like the Minister to inform me of the reason for that increase.
It appears that no provision is made in the Estimates for expenditure on book censorship, although in Division No. 79, under the heading “ General Expenses “, there is an item “ Honoraria to members of Commonwealth Book Censorship Board and to Appeal Censor, £1,125 “. The estimated expenditure under that item for this year is the same as the actual expenditure in 1956- 57. Will the Minister inform me to whom the honoraria are paid and why they are paid? It occurs to me that the honoraria might well be dispensed with and the money used to pay permanent staff, but I have no doubt that the Minister will be able to give me an explanation of this item.
I should also like the Minister to explain what is meant by item B.5 under Division No. 79- “Law Costs- £5,000 “. Last year, the vote under that particular head was £6,500, but only £901 was expended. I should like the Minister to explain why the estimate is £5,000 this year although less than £1,000 was expended last year out of a vote of £6,500.
I wish to protest about excise duties, particularly insofar as they apply to beer. Beer, quite naturally, is a working man’s drink, and the higher the duty that is placed on beer, the more is extracted from the pockets of the workers if they want a glass of beer with which to refresh themselves. Beer does not interest me very much, but there are quite a number of people who enjoy a regular glass of beer. A drink of beer is necessary to a large number of workers in industry, and I protest against the amount of the excise duty which is charged on beer.
I have taken out some figures with respect to excise, and they are staggering. In 1953-54, the excise collected on beer was £71,600,000. The estimated figure for 1957- 58 is £110,000,000. That is a considerable increase. Probably some of that increase is accounted for by the fact that beer is consumed in larger quantities to-day owing to our increased population.
Loose tobacco is used mainly by the working class, because people who can afford to do so smoke cigars.’ In 1953-54, the excise duty on tobacco yielded £16,211,000, and the estimated yield for 1957-58 is £17,500,000. Cigars and cigarettes also account for a considerable amount of revenue. In 1953-54, the excise collected on cigars and cigarettes was £23,080,000, and the estimated revenue this year is £49,000,000. lt will be seen, therefore, that the revenue collected from the excise duties on beer, cigars, cigarettes,, and tobacco has risen from £110,300,000” in 1953-54 to an estimated £176,500,000- in 1957-58, an increase of more than £60,000,000.
There are several other items which concern the working man, but at this stageI do not wish to enter upon a long dissertation on figures. I shall simply mention the items, which are spirits, petrol, diesel fuel, coal, and some miscellaneous items.
Another matter upon which I desire totouch is the inadequate markings on certain, imported articles. I have taken this matterup with the Minister on previous occasions, but I am still not satisfied with the replies I have received. On 10th October, I received a reply from the Minister to a question 1 had asked, and in part the reply stated - in ihe case of imported articles in respect of. which marking is necessary-
And I want to emphasize this particular point - it is mandatory that the goods themselves be» marked provided it is practicable for the marking, to be so applied; otherwise, marking applied to thecontainer meets requirements. 1 ask honorable senators to keep thosepoints in mind, because I shall return tothem at a later stage. On 16th October, I received from the Minister a letter, saying, that he was returning a particular article tome. The Minister in his letter said -
However, as there is applied to the outsidepackage words in the English language (a language other than the language ordinarily used by the people of the country of origin of the goods).. Item 2 of the Third Schedule to the Customs. (Prohibited Imports) Regulations requires that the country of manufacture of the goods beapplied to the outside package of those goods.
On 23rd October, I again addressed a question to the Minister, who, in his reply, said -
The existing regulations state that the country of origin must be clearly marked on the container. The honorable senator showed me an example of an article which could itself have been marked. However, some articles are so minute that they could not be marked. I have examined the matter thoroughly and I do not think it possible to bring in a regulation under which, every article, large or small, shall be marked. I think that we can go no further than to say that the* container shall be clearly marked.
T return now to the reply given to me by the’ Minister on 10th- October, when” he” said - . . if is mandatory that the goods themselves be marked provided it is practicable for the marking to be so applied. ! now present the article which I referred; to the Minister. There is- no- marking whatsoever on this particular ashtray, and1 I. ask honorable senators whether they think the. article is too small- to> be marked. I claim that it is- not too- small to- be marked: with, the country of- origin. The article came, in. a- package, and. I admit- that on- that particular package appear the1 words “ Mede in Japan “, although obviously the words are intended to mean “ Made in Japan “.
I realize that some articles are too small to be marked. I also know that there are many people who object to buying Japanese, goods. There are many people who object to buying goods manufactured in Germany, England, Italy and other countries. The wishes of those people should be considered. When it is possible to mark an article to show the country of origin, the article should be so marked. We know that only a few years ago textiles were coming into Australia marked “ Made in Japan “, and some firms were employing girls and. women to erase the markings on the articles, and were then offering them for sale with no markings whatsoever. Articles, such as bearings, manufactured in Japan carry trade marks similar to those already in existence. Tn some areas, they are causing considerable confusion. We must tighten our regulations to such an extent that, irrespective of the country of origin, the Australian buyer will not be confused by the trade mark.
I could refer to many matters, but my time is limited. However, I ask the Minister: What are the duties of the representatives of the Department of Customs and Excise in London and New York? Provision is made for such representation in the Estimates and I should like the Minister to give me the information I seek. Recently an agreement on trade was concluded with Japan and its effects on Australia may be great. In these circumstances, does the. Minister- consider that the- Department, oft Customs- and Excise should’ have: a representative* in Tokyo to watch, over Australia’s interests in Japan?”
The- H’ARMAN - Order!’ The honorable senator’s time has expired:
– I wish, to direct my remarks to the proposed, votes for the Australian Capital; Territory, and in particular to the item which, provides for the reimbursement of interest, on capital, borrowed for the construction and, extension of private school) buildings.. No amount is shown for this item, But the Government has announced that, the grant will not exceed £25,000 pen annum.. I rise with deep regret to- uttera. protest.. I- have two reasons for so doing, but first I want to make quite, clear, that what I have to say is completely impersonal: and’ completely unbiased.
I have the greatest respect for church, schools. They have saved- the governments of this country millions of pounds- by providing buildings, teaching staffs and equipment. They have given a- thorough secular education to thousands of children. Many distinguished scholars, have come from our church schools. In addition, they have supplemented’ the secular education by a very fine training in spiritual matters. My own church, the Presbyterian Church, has a very honorable record in this field, and has done much valuable work. Having been a teacher, I can claim to appreciate fully the magnitude of the service the church schools have rendered and . are rendering to the children of this Commonwealth. Personally, I thank them for that service.
For some 80 years, we in the Commonwealth have been accustomed to enjoy a free secular and compulsory education system, a system- which recognized that church and State were completely free agents. This system has enabled our State schools to teach amongst their many subjects, without any sectarian bias, bible history, Christian literature and the history of Christianity. It would be impossible to teach the history of our civilization without referring to the history of Christianity. Under our system, as I said before, the State schools have been enabled to teach these subjects without bias. However, some people, desire their children to be educated at church schools where more emphasis is laid on the religious aspect, and those people are willing to pay for that privilege. The large enrolments and long waiting lists at the church schools show that they are quite prepared to support them.
This subsidy will destroy the former relationship between church and State schools and is definitely opposed by many citizens. I have a very copious file of letters from individuals, churches, educational establishments and organizations interested in this matter, all protesting about this grant. Church schools have difficulties of finance. I know that only too well, as I am a member of the council ot the Presbyterian Ladies College in Western Australia, and I know the financial difficulties faced by that college.
The action of the Cabinet in promising this aid to church schools in the Australian Capital Territory as far back as July, 1956, and making the announcement through the press - the first intimation that members of this Parliament had of any such move - was a great shock to us all. It would appear that this financial help, which is not to exceed £25,000 per annum, has been promised by Cabinet without any reference to or consent of the Parliament. I feel that this action smacks very much of dictatorship and I wish to register my protest. I, as an elected member of the Parliament representing Western Australia, was deprived of the opportunity to discuss this very contentious matter. I regard this as a distinct challenge to parliamentary authority. One reason advanced by the Government, I understand, was the lack of funds for the construction in the Australian Capital Territory of the extra schools which will be required on the arrival of the families of the large number of civil servants who are to be transferred here. This is truly an astounding story! I find that in 1956-57 the record sum of £234,000,000 was spent on beer, wine and spirits in the Commonwealth. The argument that any country that can stand an expense such as that cannot afford to build schools for its rising generation simply leaves me cold!
I remind honorable senators that the present system has worked well without friction and has preserved the liberties of both Church and State. I suggest that no such fundamental change as that revealed in this proposal should have been made without a referendum. I have received a good deal of correspondence on this matter. Organizations are preparing to fight it in the court; in fact the Protestant Federation in Victoria has requested representation by its solicitors if this innovation becomes a fact.
I do not intend to move that the item be reduced because, along with Senator McCallum,. I sincerely trust that this is only a temporary measure and that a referendum win be taken on the subject before any change in our attitude to churches and church schools is made. I repeat my two objections: First, the change involves the fundamental principle of our education system, free, secular and compulsory, and raises the question of aid to church schools; and, secondly, the decision was made by Cabinet, which denied the elected members of this Parliament their basic right of argument and decision. I ask that my protest be recorded.
.- I refer to Division No. 210, “ Civil Defence, £119,000”, and express my disappointment at the explanation of the Minister for the reduction in the vote from £133,000 last year. He told us that the sum was so large in the preceding year because it was necessary to purchase basic equipment for Macedon but, having spent a week with other honorable senators at the civil defence school at Macedon, and realizing the tremendous amount of work to be done to set up even an element of civil defence, I would have expected a considerable increase in the amount allotted for that purpose. I can only think that those honorable senators who so very eloquently put the case in regard to civil defence some months ago apparently wasted their time. It appears futile to send people from factories, workshops, the services and Parliament to this school to show them what needs to be done and, having shown them, send them home with the sure knowledge that nothing is going to be done. Surely, some money should be allocated now for civil defence purposes. Have we a school and nothing else? Have we a propaganda department and nothing else? That is the situation that exists today, and I feel the utmost disappointment that nothing has been done in regard to this matter, more particularly as we live in an age when a catastrophe could come upon us at any moment. I hope, therefore, that civil defence will receive further consideration and will not be neglected as it has been in the past.
Is anything being done to furnish advice to firms or people who build impressive structures in our cities? In Melbourne immense buildings are being erected, the fronts of which in a great number of cases consist almost entirely of glass. The instructors at the civil defence school informed us that such buildings would become death traps and flying glass thrown in all directions in the event of an attack would kill thousands of people. Is anything being done to make the persons responsible for the erection of these buildings aware of their responsibilities to erect them in such a way that they will not become death traps and contribute even more to the destruction that can be wrought by those who may attack us?
We were also informed at the school that all the facilities for producing and storing necessary serums and blood plasma were located in the capital cities. The serum laboratory in one capital city could be knocked out by one blow, and if supplies were needed one could imagine the chaotic situation that would exist during an atomic or other attack. I feel a sense of deep disappointment and apprehension at the thought of what might happen in the event of an attack because it appears that no attempt at all is being made to deal with the matter of civil defence. The thinking appears to be on the outmoded line that the civilian is no longer a combatant.
With regard to the Department of the Interior, I express admiration of the work done by our electoral officers and the electoral branch generally. I do so mainly because of an entirely unwarranted attack which was made in another place upon a prominent officer of the electoral branch, particularly as it was based upon a smear attack in a Communist publication. I am not going to repeat the article or the name of the officer because that would give further currency to what was said. As a full-time official of a political party, and as a candidate, I saw a good deal of those who conduct the electoral arrangements for this Parliament, and in my estimation they are men of the utmost efficiency, integrity and impartiality. It is regrettable that an unjustified attack should have been made in this Parliament upon an officer of that branch.
With regard to pulp comics, I was sorry to hear the Minister say that not much can be done in many cases because in respect of comics published in this country censorship is a matter for the State authorities. I suppose those authorities have their difficulties in endeavouring to pin down these things. Whilst I agree with the Minister that much of the responsibility rests with parents, some responsibility does lie with the’ firms that produce these comics. I visited the warehouse of one of these firms which is considered to be of very high repute and was astounded at the variety of comics dealing with sex and murder that it was prepared to publish and produce for the sake of money. I regret that some of our publishing firms do not have a higher sense of responsibility in this matter.
– And the bookstalls.
– I agree.
– Bookstalls on railway stations particularly.
– That is so. I refer also to the money advanced to pay interest on certain school buildings in the Australian Capital Territory. I feel that the Government is getting a very good bargain. The Church of England and the Catholic Church are constructing school buildings estimated to cost in the vicinity of half a million pounds, and all the Commonwealth is going to pay towards that cost is the interest, some £25,000 a year. I suggest that we should be eternally grateful to these schools because of the fact that they are giving us such a good bargain. I point out that in Great Britain, in Scotland and in Ireland much more assistance is given to schools of this type. In Great Britain, in Scotland and in Ireland that is the normal thing; and I suggest that the very small amount that has been given by the Government to schools of this character in Canberra is a mere drop in the ocean compared to what such schools get in other countries and other democracies similar to our own.
My attitude, and the attitude of the party that I represent, is that, educationally, all the children of this country are entitled toequal treatment. We do not see any necessity to place any of the children of this country in separate compartments in that respect. My feeling is that the best system that we could have would be one under which the Commonwealth granted an education endowment to each parent to pay to ;the school of his choice for his children. After all, the Declaration of Human Rights jives to the parent the right to supervise :the education of his children and I see nothing wrong in giving to each parent in the community an educational endowment for his children, this endowment to be paid to the school of his choice. 1 am confirmed in my view that there is nothing seriously wrong in that view by the fact that assistance, to these schools appears to be the accepted thing in England, in Scotland, and in Ireland.
As I said before, I consider that the sum that is being given is very little indeed. :Some honorable senators say that they have received protests. 1 think the protests that I have heard have come from people who do not think that the sum being allocated .is enough. However, the Government has to decide that and the members of the Government have their right to determine what it shall be.
The only other matter to which I wish to refer is the criticism that has been levelled :at the Department of Customs and Excise in connexion with the censorship of books and the like coming into this country. When we come to consider the position, we find that occasionally there have been criticisms, but they have not been so numerous; and when we look at the matter fairly, we must Come to the conclusion that the officers of this department cannot have been doing a “very bad job over the years. If they had been exercising overmuch censorship, we would have heard a great deal more about it. There would have been many more attacks upon the officers of this department who had that particular work to do. I feel that sometimes we criticize them rather unfairly, that at times we are inclined to say, “ This book is censored, therefore there is something wrong with the officers “. If we knew the full story behind the decisions taken in respect of some of these books and publications, perhaps we would not be so prone to condemn the officials concerned.
I have a high admiration for the members of the Commonwealth Public Service, whether they serve in the Electoral Branch, the Department of Customs and Excise, or any other department. Their standards of efficiency and integrity are very high, and we should be wary of criticizing them without having a full knowledge of the facts.
– I wish to speak on Division No. 210, Civil Defence. When we were discussing the Estimates for last year, I spoke quite early on this subject and expressed astonishment at the Government’s providing only £70,000 for civil defence. Later, in May, there was a further appropriation of £63,000 in the supplementary estimates for this purpose.
I am amazed at the statement of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) that the Government has adopted a five-year plan and that he does not propose to discuss the Government’s policy on civil defence. I say advisedly to the Minister that neither he nor his Government has any policy on civil defence. The civil defence school at Mount Macedon is an excellent institution. The officers working there are knowledgeable, and they are extremely anxious that something be done about our civil defence. Those who have come from all parts of Australia to attend that school, are also knowledgeable people occupying responsible positions. Engineers and others who have attended Mount Macedon school have expressed the view that although the officers of the school were most interested in their work the results achieved are almost frightening. That is not because there is no appreciation of the terror hanging over humanity at the present time, nor is it because the instructors at Mount Macedon were unable to instil into those who attended the courses a thorough appreciation of exactly what is required. The reason for the great fear felt by many to-day is the fact that, as the Minister has admitted to-night, the Government has no policy in connexion with civil defence.
We cannot overcome our civil defence problem merely by conducting schools of instruction or by relying on theory. The true solution of the problem lies in carrying out the policy put into effect by the Labour government. That should have been continued after we left office. I refer to our introduction of a policy of decentralization and the duplication of essential services. This splendid work is not being carried on now. This Government, by the policy it is pursuing, is driving back to the huge centres of population those industries which were decentralized; it is forcing them now to form combines, to go into areas where transport costs are cheaper. These industries find that they must do so if they are to continue to exist on a sound economic basis.
We hear much about the standardization of railway gauges to-day. That was on the point of being achieved by our government before it went out of office. Standardization of rail gauges is essential if a civil defence policy is to be effective, yet the present Government has been most tardy in doing anything about it. In fact, the Government has evaded the issue in Western Australia. Nothing at all has been done there. The Government has no civil defence policy whatsoever.
Some honorable senators have said that it is almost impossible to realize how terrible nuclear warfare can be. I had the unpleasant experience of visiting Hiroshima twelve months after the atomic bomb had been dropped there and seeing the terrible damage done to that city. Why, there was not one brick left standing on another brick. The buildings were masses of rubble. Trees which once formed beautiful avenues stood stark and bare, mere stumps without leaves in the middle of the streets. We did notice that concrete and marble stood up to the blast but were badly singed. We saw where oil from the bodies of those who stood on steps seeking shelter had been burnt into the marble.
It is of no use adopting the attitude some honorable senators seem to take, if we are to judge from what they have said to-night. It is of no use saying that if nuclear warfare does overtake us there will be no need for civil defence. There will be a great need for it, if we are to take a lesson from what happened at Hiroshima. Although many bodies were never identified and in some cases not enough remains were found to enable some bodies to be identified as human, thousands of people were burnt, or singed, or blinded. We all remember reading of the priest who walked out unscathed from a concrete building and worked amongst these injured people. I emphasize most strongly that it is foolish to believe .that in an atomic war there will be no need for civil defence. The damage at Hiroshima was caused by what is looked, upon to-day as .a mere toy compared to the great terror which, quite likely., w.e shall have to face in the future! It is for this reason that I firmly believe that the allocation by this Government of only £133,000 for civil defence, something less than one one-thousandth of the total provision for defence is utter stupidity.
The Minister has stated that he will not discuss Government policy. Has the Government discussed policy with any one? Has it discussed policy with the States or with the Defence Services? The Government says that it has. In that case, why prevent discussion of the matter in Parliament by the people who should really be responsible? I contend that we are entitled to have some discussion of this question, but we are not allowed to discuss it because the Government has no policy and is afraid to face realities.
I went to’ Maralinga for the purpose, according to the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale), of witnessing the explosion of an atomic bomb. In fact, I went there to speak to the people doing this great scientific work, and to see whether they were engrossed in producing and exploding the atomic bomb, and only that, as the Government appears to be. I asked Sir William Penney and other advanced scientists what they thought of civil defence. They said, “ In this type of warfare, civil defence is paramount if we wish to win or to exist”. These eminent scientists said, “ We are doing this work because we have to. There is no question of banning these weapons while mass insanity rules the world “. I remind the Senate that it was not our mass insanity that they referred to. They said, “ We might be on the receiving end of this terrible weapon. If we are, then, and only then, will we know just how terrible and terrific it is “. The scientists advocated civil defence. No doubt they have some ideas about means of protection from atomic weapons, even though what they have in mind may not constitute entire protection. But the Government has done nothing about it.
This is not the first time that the matter has been raised in this Parliament. It has been raised in debates on Estimates, in debates on motions for the adjournment of the Senate, and in other debates. The Government still has no policy. What is it balking at? The money is here to be expended. A certain amount of the defence vote could be set aside for the purpose of civil defence. This would make it possible for us to plan the speedy evacuation from our cities of large masses of people. We could improve the condition of our hospitals situated outside the main centres, which are at present deteriorating and, in some cases, being closed down. This latter aspect of the situation was brought to the notice of honorable senators when I spoke about the nurses’ association, but nothing has been done by the Government to improve the situation. Government supporters have expressed sympathy, but no policy has been formulated and certainly no expenditure approved.
Civil defence is most important. I sympathize with Senator Robertson in her great sorrow because of the Government’s decision to provide for certain schools financial assistance to the extent of £25,000, which represents less than one-fiftieth of what is spent in Australian on the eradication of cattle tick, but to talk on those lines when we have before us a matter so important as civil defence, in respect of which the Government tells us that it has no policy, is rather futile. The Government has established a Civil Defence School, to which it invites important men. Those men know very well what is needed, but they are disturbed because they know that nothing practical is being done. This is not something that can be done in five minutes. If the five-year plan for the school at Mount Macedon produces nothing but theory and turns out people well educated in civil defence but fearful of what would happen to our population in a war because nothing is being done by the Government to decentralize hospitals, train nurses and make other preparations, the Government will have been most remiss in the matter of civil defence.
It has been ‘ said that those who wish to ban the atomic bomb are disloyal. Unhappily, the problem internationally is not tackled in a sane fashion, so we must accept the situation as it is. But when the Government says that the production of nuclear weapons must continue, it must also agree that civil defence is of great importance. Interceptor aircraft and rockets may be able to lessen the effects of attacks with atomic, nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons, but if a nuclear war breaks out, God help humanity! Civilization as we know it will be destroyed unless something is done in the matter of civil defence.
This great new power that has been discovered by science has been put into the hands of primitive people. That is what makes me afraid. In this field, we ourselves are primitive people, but those of whom we should be afraid are more primitive and more vicious than we are. They are not as far advanced in civilization as we are. That is the terrible situation in which we find ourselves. Honorable senators must be disturbed by the small amount that is to be provided for civil defence. The vote last year was £70,000, which was about one two-thousandth of the defence vote. The amount was increased, by special appropriations during the year, by £63,000. The net result is that the Government has provided a college and a set of theorists, who have lectured to our engineers, doctors and other trained personnel. Each and every one of the persons who went to the school will agree that they were profoundly impressed by the lectures, but if the Government pursues its present policy, those persons will find that, in relation to doing anything effective in the field of civil defence, they will be just as helpless and hopeless as the Government has shown itself to be in this debate.
I suggest that the Senate should request the House of Representatives to increase the vote for civil defence, so that something substantial and worthwhile may be done.
.- While we are discussing the proposed vote for the Department of Customs and Excise, we should keep in mind that although that department is responsible for the execution of the policy with regard to import licensing, the formulation of policy is the prerogative, I understand, of the Department of Trade. I think the system of control of imports should be brought to the attention of honorable senators again, not simply for the sake of talking about it but so that the Government may be induced to consider the matter.
I hope the Minister will consider it from the point of view of allowing the Parliament to determine whether the policy should continue to operate and, if so, on what basis it should operate.
I remind the Senate that legislation was passed in 1952, in an atmosphere which seemed to guarantee but a very temporary life for the import licensing system. We were assured that it would be necessary to continue the system for a matter of months, because we were threatened with an avalanche of imports, due to certain circumstances overseas and to a buoyant wool market in Australia. But no one ever dreamed at that time that the system would continue to restrict this country for a period of well-nigh six years. I remind the Senate, with simple sang froid, that the second World War did not last six years, and we who were mindful of the need for executive control, with all the expedition and efficacy that could result from dictatorial control, became irked by those controls even in wartime. One of the things on which we came to power in 1949 was the vigorous exhortation of Sir Arthur Fadden - “ Empty Chifley out and fill up the bowsers! Get rid of petrol rationing! “
– And how dishonest he was about it!
– I am merely instancing petrol rationing as one of the last remnants of war-time control.
I come now to the financial dislocation of 1951-52, which called for immediate correction of the import position and the financial transactions connected with imports. But we find that in this day and generation there are regulations, operative in law, whereby one Minister has the power to issue licences, not in respect of a certain category of goods, or of goods from a particular country, but in respect of the whole of the goods that are imported into Australia. Indeed, he has become the complete controller of the inward trade of this vast Commonwealth. The alarming fact is that his judgment is exercised not generally, in relation to a policy, but in relation to each particular consignment of goods that an individual person wishes to import, with the right by law to discriminate between Jones and Brown, without assigning any reason for doing so and with complete power to impose whatever conditions he thinks are fitting.
Of course, when I say that these powers are vested in the Minister, it must be understood that they are in fact executed by a variety of officials in the department, and although the officials may act in perfectly good faith, nevertheless one official will exercise his judgment in a certain way. while another official, perhaps in the next room or in the next capital city, will have a different view. The person who is affected by that system has no redress at all, save only this, that after this matter was brought to the attention of the Senate during the last sessional period, the Minister promised to set up, in each capital city, a board of reference to which a disappointed applicant could refer his complaint. 1 confess to some surprise that that promise was implemented, not by reference to the Parliament, not by the old-fashioned method of passing regulations upon which either House of the Parliament could express its view, but by a letter or memorandum of appointment such as is used in a commercial office, whereby the very same Minister whose decisions are to come under review appoints persons to operate in each capital as the reviewing board. I hope that the method adopted to implement that extension of a system which was designed to give some right of review to disappointed importers, was not deliberately adopted to flout the idea that there was any responsibility to the Parliament. But whether that was the design, that was the effect of it. It is most anomalous that those boards of review should be appointed in that executive fashion by the Minister whose decisions it is the duty of the boards to review, without the slightest security of tenure, and without any parliamentary jurisdiction, save only that which is conferred on them by the Minister.
I cannot understand why a LiberalCountry party government continues that system in a spirit of acquiescence. I should think it unnecessary to say that the ingenuity of the Government’s advisers is capable of devising a parliamentary system to give effect to that policy. If it has been found that import control is necessary indefinitely, from year to year, it is the immediate and imperative duty of a government that professes to guard the individual rights of citizens, including this important right to trade and to bring goods into the country, to put the matter on a parliamentary basis.
I go on to say, in my temerity, that I am not speaking to-night from a theoretical point of view. I am fortified by numerous representations that people from commerce have been at pains to make to me, and having come great distances to do so, since my interest in this matter was evidenced last April. I shall cite just one case.
– Do not prejudice your client!
– The honorable senator should not suggest that I speak in this place for my clients. I speak from the independence of my position as a member of Parliament. It is a disparagement to suggest that one speaks here on a professional basis.
– I did not mean that.
– I refer to an instance in which a business man, completely unknown to me, and living in a State which I do not represent, wrote to me on 18th October last saying that he had a letter in the form that I shall indicate. Just think of the stimulation that the British spirit of free trade would imbibe from a snivelling letter such as this! It reads -
I refer to your letter of … in which you request licencing facilities-
To the value of approximately £1,000- to enable the importation of certain goods from a certain place. I do not know whether I should identify the letter to the department at the moment. It goes on -
This matter has been considered, but I regret it has not been found practicable to grant your request at this stage. Accordingly, your application has been refused.
– From what department did the letter come?
– From the Department of Trade.
– I thought we were dealing with the Department of Customs and Excise.
– Order! We are dealing with the proposed vote for the Department of Customs and Excise.
– Yes, Mr. Temporary Chairman, and I am sure that the Department of Customs and Excise, under the guidance of my good friend, the Minister, will never willingly be misled, by reason of a false alliance with another department, into contributing to a confused situation.
Unfortunate though it may be, the fact is’ that this miserable importation of goods worth approximately £1,000 has been refused, although the goods would be an essential adjunct to the manufacture in this country of goods worth £100,000. That is not an isolated instance; the cases could be multiplied.
– That could not have been an application to import goods from Japan.
– I pray that in a spirit of consideration, although we might summon up the blood on occasions, we should now see if we cannot, as a matter of parliamentary demorcacy, put these things on a basis that is reconcilable with the idea of ordinary, rudimental rights in trade.
If honorable senators consider the experience of customs legislation and the evolution of the Tariff Board they will find that this Parliament engaged itself in a debate on every individual adjustment of duty on each item of goods imported into this country, until Sir Walter Massey Greene, in 1920 or 1921, had the idea of creating a board which would sit in public, to which everybody would have equal access, which would consider objections from competitors, and which, in the fresh air of public opinion, would make, not decisions, but recommendations to the Minister for Customs as to the adjustment of the customs tariff from time to time. By its work, the Australian Tariff Board has achieved a great status and great respect. But if honorable senators look at the record of the debates that took place in this Parliament on the subject of its establishment they will see that the welcome that it received was very frigid indeed and that the majority by which the legislation was [passed was slender. If we are to have a continuance not of the taxation of imports, but a restriction-
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- In listening to my friend, Senator Wright from Tasmania, 1 thought it was a splendid thing for this chamber that we had one or two independently-minded men in it. I offer my congratulations to Senator Wright on the way in which he is tackling many problems and trying to convince the Government that he supports that it should mend its ways. But I do not wish to pursue that argument. I rose in order to deal with civil defence, a subject that has been debated very ably by several of our senators.
I am pleased that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) has given information in regard to the Mount Macedon school. The people of this country know very little of what is being done in relation to civil defence. From one end of the country to the other, very few people indeed know anything about it. I agree with some senators who have spoken that the vote for civil defence is very small indeed. It shows that the Government is in two minds regarding civil defence. If it were really in earnest, if it believed that civil defence was essential, instead of there being £119,000 on the Estimates for that purpose, there would be £2,000,000 or £3,000,000. In going through the country and discussing this matter on aeroplanes, on trains and in meetings with many friends, I find that thousands of people really believe that civil defence is utterly hopeless. I shall not mention any names but I have conversed with one or two people to-night who have said that if they any control of the public purse they would not devote one penny piece to civil defence.
In the Old Country, as a result of the issue of a white paper by the United Kingdom Government many city councils absolutely refused to take any action on civil defence. I think f am right in saying that Coventry, which was almost destroyed in the last war, refused to take any action to build up a civil defence force. I went to the Library two hours ago and got a copy of the British white paper on civil defence. It was presented by the Minister of Defence to Parliament and printed, by command of Her Majesty, in April, 1957. I think it would be of interest to honorable senators who have not read this white paper to read a paragraph of it dealing with nuclear deterrents. Paragraph 12 stated -
It must be frankly recognized that there is at present no means of providing adequate protection for the people of this country against the consequences of an attack with nuclear weapons. Though, in the event of war, the fighter aircraft of the Royal Air Force would unquestionably be able to take a heavy toll of enemy bombers, a proportion would inevitably get through. Even if it were only a dozen, they could with megaton bombs inflict widespread devastation.
– What is that report?
– It is a white paper on defence which is described as an “ Outline of Future Policy “ and which was published last April. I saw in some newspaper from the Old Country a map of England on which there were five rings. It was said that if bombers got through to drop their deadly and obscene nuclear bombs on Britain in the centre of each circle Britain would be completely blotted out.
Naturally, when a government publishes a paper of this description it destroys the confidence of the people in civil defence. The white paper also said -
This makes it more than ever clear that the over-riding consideration in all military planning must be to prevent war rather than to prepare for it.
While comprehensive disarmament remains among the foremost objectives of British foreign policy it is unhappily true that, pending international agreement, the only existing safeguard against major aggression is the power to threaten retaliation with nuclear weapons.
That is the considered statement which the United Kingdom Government made last April. I have been in this chamber on several occasions when gentlemen on the opposite side and members of the Democratic Labour party have advocated policies which would have brought, undoubtedly, an international war in which England would have perished. However, that is by the way.
Whilst we talk glibly of attacking our enemies in the Middle East, we should try to see the probable results of a war that would commence with any such aggression, and the probable effect on the minds of the people. 1 have said in this chamber before that, on one occasion, I was speaking to a Service Minister, Sir Percy Spender, and I propounded this thought: If an atom bomb were dropped on Cairns, what would be the psychological effect on the minds of all our people from one end of Australia to the other? I put this question and he replied, “There would be a panic in every city “. On the matter of panic, during the last war a few ordinary bombs were dropped on Darwin. 1 do not know whether honorable senators have read the report of the commission of inquiry into the circumstances connected with the attack made by Japanese aircraft on Darwin on 19th February, 1942. I have in my hand that report by the commissioner, Mr. Justice Lowe, and I wish to read a couple of paragraphs. It is of intense interest to me and should be of interest to every person who has some thought for civil defence. At page 11 Mr. Justice Lowe reported -
Immediately following the raids, the morale of the townspeople was not noticeably affected, and there is evidence to show that nothing in the nature of panic then developed.
This is the point I wish to emphasize -
Had there been effective leadership at that stage I think that normal conditions might very rapidly have been attained, but leadership was conspicuously lacking. Prior to the raid evacuation had been widely discussed. Very quickly rumours began to be spread and were readily believed. Houses were abandoned in haste. I myself observed in the Darwin Hotel tables upon which drinks remained half-consumed, letters started but not finished, papers strewn about, beds unmade in bedrooms, and other signs of a very hasty exit. In other places I saw similar conditions. In one there were indications of a mail but partially opened.
By the middle of the afternoon people were seeking to leave the town by every means available. There is some evidence before me that officers of the police told civilians that the town was being evacuated. There is other evidence that at least one police officer said that martial law had been proclaimed and that the police must act under military authority. A long string of vehicles drew up at a petrol station for the purpose of obtaining petrol for cars about to depart for the south. The Administrator, learning this, forbade the supply of petrol. Actually by some means many vehicles did proceed towards the south. Many people proceeded on foot, and others on bicycles. Even the Municipal sanitary carts were pressed into service and for some days the town was without a sanitary service. The foreign element in the population was prominent in the attempt to escape. Business houses were closed and the civil life of the town practically ceased.
Mr. Justice Lowe went on to speak about looting breaking out, and said -
This looting was indulged in both by civilians and members of the Military Forces. It is hard to believe that, if proper supervision had been exercised throughout, such looting could have gone on.
In the beginning of that paragraph the commissioner pointed out that if there had been proper leadership this horrible state of affairs would not have developed. Thissituation arose after the dropping of a few ordinary bombs. If we are going to do anything in Australia, -it is imperative that we should put the whole of our strength into civil defence. I accuse the Government of not approaching this matter in the spirit it should and of not informing the people that they should make every preparation for this evil that may come upon us. Some people say there will be no hope for us once the bombing starts and that panic will follow if an attack is made on Cairns or Brisbane and those places are blotted out. I ask what would happen in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and all the cities and towns of Australia? Thousands of people would be taking to the bush. Honorable senators know that.
But there is some hope. To-day I read in a recent “ Hansard “ report of proceedings in another place a statement made by Mr. Wentworth, the honorable member for Mackellar. In the course of a question, he drew attention to a broadcast made by the Right Honorable R. A. Butler, Britain’s Lord Privy Seal, entitled, “ The part of civil defence in our defence system “. Mr. Wentworth was anxious that that particular broadcast should be re-broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission so that it would reach the ears of all our citizens from one end of Australia to the other. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson), in reply, said that, unfortunately, he had no control whatever over broadcasts but would lay the matter before the A.B.C. and hoped that something would be done. Mr. Wentworth stated that a report of this broadcast appeared in the London “ Times “ of 30th September. . I went to the library and obtained this cutting from the “ Times “. It shows that there is a change in the opinion of the British Government. As the mouthpiece of that Government, Mr.
Butler made a number of statements which give some hope to the people of Great Britain. He said -
Civil defence could do a tremendous amount if we suffered a nuclear attack, provided we had made our plans and preparations in advance.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Resuming whatI was saying about education previously, I wish to point out what the select committee on the development of Canberra recommended. Recommendation 18 is as follows: -
That a Legislative Council be established to discharge the legislative function of the Australian Capital Territory at a State level in respect of the powers suggested in Appendix “ K “.
One of the powers listed in Appendix “ K “ is education. I think 1 am free from the risk of any accusation of misleading anybody when I say that my reading of this document is that the select committee recommended that education should become a power for the people of Canberra.
– But not exclusively.
– I do not say that it should be exclusive, because the GovernorGeneral would retain the power of veto. Nevertheless, it was my intention that this power should be given to the people of Canberra and that nobody else should attempt to dictate to them.
Another matter I wish to discuss is censorship. I do not wish to enter into any of the controversy that has taken place already. I am not particularly interested in the questions of pornography and salacity and so forth which have been dealt with pretty fully; but there are other objections to censorship. It can be used to deny people the right to express their opinions. I direct attention to the regulations issued under the Customs Act 1901-1954. Regulation 13 deals with imported films and provides that a censor may disallow a film if, in his opinion -
I am not objecting to that. The regulation goes on -
I am not objecting to that. But I wish to direct particular notice to paragraphs (c) and (d). They are as follows: -
That paragraph could be used to prevent free speech. To quote a simple example, it could be used to prevent our discussing the policy of apartheid in South Africa. The people of South Africa are a friendly nation and form part of the Queen’s dominions, but the policy of apartheid is obnoxious to a great many people in this country, and 1 doubt whether any of us would accept it as it has been put into force by the South African Government. Paragraph (d) reads - that the film . . . depicts any matter the exhibition of which is undesirable in the public interest.
That is a kind of dragnet clause which would enable any autocratically minded government to do virtually what it wished.
I am perfectly satisfied with the way in which the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) handles film censorship. I have brought to his notice a number of cases, and he has always considered them sympathetically. I think that his judgment on these matters is very sound. I am intervening now to ask him, in this great task that he has undertaken - it is really like one of the labours of Hercules, namely, the cleaning of the Augean stables - to take these regulations very carefully to heart and to ascertain whether they can be framed in such a way that no government, and certainly no irresponsible official, can curtail our right to express our political opinions on a film.
I hope, too, that it will be possible to have an appeal to the courts as the final arbiters in the matter. I understand that at the present time there is no appeal from these regulations. If that is so, the matter is purely and simply one of administrative judgment. There may be constitutional or other difficulties in bringing such a matter before a court of appeal, but I should like the Minister to investigate the suggestion and to consider it as sympathetically as he has considered all the other matters that I have brought before him.
.- There are quite a number of interesting matters that have been raised by honorable senators to which I should like to refer before the time allotted for the consideration of this section of the Estimates expires. Senator Poke asked me what was the reason for the increase in the proposed vote for film censorship. The increase is attributable to the fact that the Department of Customs and Excise is acting on behalf of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in the censoring of films. The standards have been laid down by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, and we are applying those standards. It is an administrative arrangement which is, perhaps, the best obtainable in the circumstances.
– It seems that the standards need to be altered.
– A conference was held recently between representatives of the Postmaster-General’s Department, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Department of Customs and .Excise. As a result of that conference, a new set of standards was issued on 7th October. In addition, the department is purchasing new equipment to view cinemascope films. The old equipment has been in use for many years. Proposed expenditure on these two items is responsible for the increase in the vote.
Senator Poke also asked what were the duties of officials of the Department of Customs and Excise who are stationed in New York and London. Their principal task is the checking of the home consumption value of goods for duty purposes. In addition, they answer inquiries by people who wish to come to Australia as to duties that are payable, what items they can bring into the country, and a whole host of other matters that arise in the administration of the department. At one time, such queries were being answered by other than customs officials, and misunderstandings were caused. Instructions have been issued to customs officials in New York and London that all customs matters are to be referred to them and not to other officials who deal with general inquiries.
The question of representation in Japan is under active consideration. Senator Poke brought forward a very good point in raising this question. Obviously, as trade between Australia and Japan increases, it will be necessary to appoint a customs official to that country.
Senator Poke also referred to the provision for law costs. We have made provision for certain cases that we expect to come before the High Court this year. Legal processes - are slow, with the result that we spent only ?901 in’ the last financial year. Prosecutions under the Customs Aci are pending against two firms, and we believe that those cases will come before the High Court this year. That is why we have made provision for the expenditure of ?5,000.
– Will those cases involve the question of the finality of the opinion of a collector of customs?
-The amount voted is to cover the prosecution of those two firms. I do not think the general question to which Senator Wright has referred will be the subject of discussion in these cases. Reference was made also to the branding of articles.
– And to the honoraria payable to members of the Literature Censorship Board and the Appeal Censor.
– I am glad that the honorable senator raised that matter; it involves the activities of the Literature Censorship Board and the Appeal Censor. The total amount provided for is ?1,125. It covers a payment of ?270 to the chairman, ?225 to the deputy chairman, ?180 to the other members of the board, and ?270 to the Appeal Censor. These citizens perform a great community service, but they receive only small honoraria. They are highly qualified people. Dr. Allen, who is the chairman of the board, Mr. Binns, who was the Commonwealth Librarian for many years, Professor Bryan and Professor Scales are highly qualified and well-balanced people, and their judgment is very good. They perform for a very small sum of money what they regard as being a community service. I do not think any one in this chamber would say that they are being overpaid.
The marking of articles is under, review. There is in existence a list of articles which it is not necessary to mark. This is an important point and we are keeping a very’ close watch because of certain practices that have been adopted. Senators McManus, Cooke and Brown, referred at some length to civil defence. Senator Robertson mentioned the matter which Senator McCallum had already raised and to which I had fully replied. If Senator Robertson was not in the chamber when I made that reply, I suggest that she read in “ Hansard “ the reply that I gave to Senator McCallum.
It is quite wrong to say that the Government has not a policy on civil defence. That has been made clear by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall). Largely, of course, civil defence is the responsibility of the State governments.
– I made that point.
– Yes. I agree that that is so. Senator Brown read a paper which indicated that some responsibility for civil defence lay even with municipalities and cities in the Old Country. Under a federation, it is largely a matter for the States. We have established a civil defence school at Mount Macedon for the training of personnel whom the States in turn may use to train their citizens. That school has been praised by everybody. It is doing very good work indeed. Acting on the advice of the defence services we have established the school on a five-year basis to train personnel for the States.
Senator Wright raised the matter of import licensing. He was fair enough to say that although the Department of Customs and Excise administers the regulations, the policy is formulated by the Department of Trade, but he canvassed purely policy matters which should have been discussed when the representative of the Minister for Trade was here to answer him. Some of the points he raised were of great interest. I have had a lot of practical experience in importing and import licensing, and I have watched the position develop. Most countries have a system of import licensing. I do not think there is anybody in this Senate who does not want to see the day when import licensing disappears from this country. I have discussed this matter with very responsible trade organizations in the Commonwealth an»1 many times I have heard expressed by them the sentiments expressed by Senator Wright, but never yet have 1 heard anybody who was able to propose an alternative system. It is easy to propound criticisms, but in the business community of Australia I have never yet found anybody-
– You have to buck the big combines.
– You listen to me. You may be the answer to a maiden’s prayer, but you do not know the answer to everything. I have discussed this matter at length over the years, and while I have heard the criticism levelled by honorable senators and by very responsible business organizations, no one has been able to give us a suitable - alternative to the scheme which is working at the moment.
– What is your commentary on my suggestion?
– I did not know that there was a suggestion. Senator Wright made a vague reference to leaving the matter to parliamentary jurisdiction, but he did not suggest a precise system and he did not say how the business community would be affected or what additional benefits would flow. I was unable to understand what he was suggesting. As I said, he canvassed purely policy matters which are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Trade, and which in my opinion should have been canvassed when the representative of the Minister for Trade was here to answer much more fully than I could answer. I have merely had a lot of practical experience of this game from both ends, and I am offering a few comments.
Senator McCallum referred to the regulations relating to film censorship. That is a very interesting problem. No one would dispute that the dragnet clause, which contains the words “ in the public interest “ is a very wide clause indeed and gives great power. But these regulations are administered by a very competent board of film censors, consisting of the Chief Censor, and two men and two women censors. The system provides for appeals to an appeal censor. The present holder of that office was Chief Censor for about sixteen years. Those powers have been exercised properly and with balanced judgment, and until I can find some better system which will give full protection to the people of Australia I do not intend to do anything further about the matter. A lot of the material that comes into this country has to be seen to be believed.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– I thank the Minister for the replies he gave to my questions. He provided me with a considerable amount of information, and I. appreciate the trouble that he took. There is another matter upon which I should like to touch. Would it be possible to assist the Tasmanian timber industry by enabling it to obtain the most efficient machinery? I am sure that the Minister is well aware that the Tasmanian timber industry is passing through a very lean period. In order to keep our heads above water we must cut our costs right to the bone. I am informed that there are available in America saws and other types of machinery which would considerably reduce our milling costs if we could import them. I refer particularly to American chain saws, which are much lighter to handle in the bush than are the normal saws which we can now obtain in Tasmania. One chain saw which is obtainable in America weighs only about 20 lb., whereas the chain saws we use now mainly weigh from 30 lb. to 40 lb. The extra 10 lb. or 15 lb. makes a considerable difference to the ability to get through rough country in order to fell a tree and then cut it into a length capable of being handled by a tractor. I should be pleased if the Minister would give some consideration to that aspect.
There is a grave danger that most, if not all, of Tasmania’s fishing industry will be destroyed by competition from imported Japanese canned fish. I understand that, already, fairly large amounts of it are available in Australia and that, as a result, some of our fish factories, especially that at Triabunna, and, to a lesser extent, the fish canneries at Ulverstone and Launceston, have been obliged to reduce staff.
The Minister might also consider reducing the duty on fish hooks, lines and nets. I understand that no fishing lines are manufactured in Australia. The fishermen’s livelihood depends upon the excellence of their equipment. The industry has to com pete with the Japanese fishing industry, and Lt will be better able to. do so> if it can reduce costs.
– The timber industry has been investigated by the Tariff Board, and I should not be surpised if the report had already been presented to the Minister for Trade.
I had the pleasure of meeting a very representative deputation from the Tas*manian timber industry seeking the importation of light-weight saws. 1 understand that the type at present in use gives carburettor trouble if the saw is turned upside down or at an angle. The deputation made out an excellent case for the importation of light-weight saws so that the cost of bush work could be lessened. The matter is at present receiving consideration by the Department of Trade.
I do not- think that it is quite fair for Senator Poke to attribute any slump in the fish-canning business in Tasmania to the importation of tinned fish from Japan. 1 gave the precise figures to the Senate only a short time ago. Last year imports from Japan were 2,000,000 lb. less than in the previous year. There has been a revolution in the fishing industry, especially in Great Britain and Denmark. Canned fish from Japan and other countries is feeling greatly the competition offered by frozen fish, an entirely new product which gives the buyer a greater weight of fish for a given sum. I think that a fair assessment of the position would show that canned fish exports from all countries, including Japan, have suffered as a result of this new competitor.
Those of us who come from Tasmania are, of course, watching the prosperity of all our industries, even the smallest of which is important to a small State. Every industry which employs people is important. Under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade duties cannot be altered without reference to the other signatory nations. Such an alteration is not made unless it is recommended by the Tariff Board. Therefore, any case for a reduction in duty on fish nets, hooks and lines should be put to the Tariff Board.
– I seek information from the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty).
If the “guillotine” should fall before the information I seek can be given, perhaps it can be furnished at a later date. According to the Estimates, £65,000 is paid to the Postal Department for the collection of customs duties on goods imported through the parcels post, and for services rendered in connexion with the sale of beer duty stamps. Can the Minister give me any information as to the possible aggregate of customs duties collected by the Postal Department during the year?
When the Minister for the Interior was in South Australia recently he met a deputation from all political parties on the subject of accommodation for Commonwealth departments, which at the moment are scattered all over Adelaide. The land available was examined and finally it was left to the Minister to attempt to get the approval of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) for the provision of the requisite funds for the erection of a Commonwealth building. Has the Minister for Customs and Excise any information as to how the Minister for the Interior got on in his battle with the Treasurer for a decent building to house Commonwealth officers in Adelaide?
– I shall obtain for Senator O’Flaherty the information that he seeks on accommodation for government departments. I know that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall> wishes to establish government centres in every capital city. One is already being built in Melbourne, another is planned for Sydney, and a further large building is under construction in Brisbane. I do not know what progress has been made in establishing a centre in Adelaide. I will obtain the details and pass them to the honorable senator. I shall also give the honorable senator the details of the customs duties collected by the Postal Department during the year.
– Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes at present before the Chair has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till to-morrow at 10 a.m.
Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 31 October 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1957/19571031_senate_22_s11/>.