22nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read .prayers.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether his attention has been drawn to a statement made by a representative of large business organizations throughout the Commonwealth - the federal director of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures - in which he said that the manufacturers of this country were becoming increasingly concerned at the trend disclosed by employment figures. He said further that economic indications disclose that we are on the edge of an abyss - far too close for our peace of mind. Does the Minister agree with what has already been said by the Prime Minister - that people who exercise their freedom of speech to criticize the negative policy of this Government regarding unemployment - are un-Australian - or is the Government too blind or purblind or obstinate, or just too confused, to know what is happening to our economy?
– I have not seen the statement referred to by the honorable senator. I know that the manufacturers are very concerned; sometimes their concern has taken the form of a rather high pressure order. Some of them have made magnificent contributions, and have contributed tremendously to the economy of our country. On the other hand, some of their spokesmen at times get a little excited or hysterical. A more balanced opinion has been expressed by Mr. Albert Monk, who was very concerned. Honorable senators opposite may laugh, but after all he is the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. He is a man of vast experience, having devoted his life to the service of the trade union movement. He said that there was no occasion for panic.
– Mr. Monk did not say that.
– I did not see the telecast, but I saw a responsible newspaper report, the effect of which was that he is concerned. Of course, the president of the Australian trade union movement would be concerned, but he has said quite soberly, sanely and seriously that there is no occasion for panic.
– He was drunk.
– How low can some people get! Shame! I hope, Mr. President, that the honorable senator’s party will not stand for that. The point I am making is that Mr. Monk ls a man who has dedicated his life to the trade union movement, and in a considered statement he has said that he sees no occasion for panic; on the other hand, he sees every reason for improvement. The Prime Minister has never challenged or denied the right of anybody to criticize either himself or his Government.
– He said that such criticism was un-Australian.
– What he has described as un-Australian - and I agree with him entirely - are the efforts of those unemployment mongers - among whom are to be found members of the Opposition - who, for political purposes-
– I rise to order. Is the Leader of the Government in order in referring to some honorable senators on this side of the chamber in those terms?
– I certainly exclude the Deputy Leader of the Opposition from that category.
– The Leader of the Government must withdraw the word “ monger “.
– I withdraw the word “ monger “, and will say, instead, that those advertisers, urgers and advocates of - and pleaders for - more wide-spread unemployment are definitely un-Australian.
– I again rise to order. We all become a little heated at times, but I do not think it right that I, or my colleagues - or even my friends in the corner - should be described as “ urgers “. It is a bad term and unparliamentary. I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I will say, then, that those who have been predicting for some time-
– The word “ urger “ is objectionable to me as a member of the Opposition. I ask that it be withdrawn.
– Order! The word *’ urger “, when used in the sense in which it was used on this occasion, is not unparliamentary. I point out that the question, as framed, was very wide indeed. Similarly, the reply has been very wide. Frequently, if honorable senators took a little more care in framing their questions, they would not lead to the kind of answer that we are now getting.
– I assume that when-
– 1 rise to order. Did I understand you, Mr. President, to say that the use of the word “ urger “ was not unparliamentary?
– I have ruled that it is not unparliamentary to use the word “ urger “ in the way in which it was used on this occasion.
– I assure the Senate that when I used the word “ urger “ I was not thinking of it in any race-course context. I had in mind “ urging “ in the sense of advocacy. I repeat what the Prime Minister said -
Therefore, to do anything to depress or discourage it is completely anti-Australian; and that, indeed, is the right description of what has been falling from honorable gentlemen opposite.
Those who predict, with great glee, widespread unemployment in this country are definitely un-Australian, because there is no justification at all for such a prediction.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether the proposed amendment of the Commonwealth Bank Act provides for the establishment of a development bank. Can the Minister advise me whether its functions are to be the aiding and promotion of primary and secondary industries throughout the Commonwealth? Does the Government envisage this additional development providing jobs for some of our unemployed?
– I shall have very great pleasure in explaining the functions of the proposed development bank in greater detail about a week hence. In the meantime. I shall content myself with saying that I feel sure that the proposal that such a bank should engage in financial transactions which might be described as being on the border line, and beyond the functions of ordinary trading banks, would make a material contribution to the maintenance of employment in the community.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Is any continuous scientific appraisement or investigation being undertaken by the Department of Immigration in conjunction with any other appropriate authorities such as the Commonwealth Statistician, the economic section of the Treasury or the Australian National University, to establish (a) the occupational pattern of new Australians, (b) the impact of post-war immigration on the national housing position, and (c) the effect of the immigration pro- gramme to date on the Australian capital structure and other similar matters? If such surveys are not being made, does the Minister not think that at this stage they would be of incalculable value in enabling us to evaluate the effects of immigration on the whole of the national economy and to steer our course in the future?
In the absence of the accurate conclusions’ which would emerge from such research, is the position not arising that the immigration programme is quite unfairly subject to the charge that it is a cause contributing to prevailing unemployment, whereas in fact it appears it will become the victim of economic and financial factors completely outside its own operation, with resulting loss of wealth and citizens’ to this country? If no such particular research is being undertaken, will the Minister make the necessary arrangements for it to be put in hand forthwith, and have the conclusions arrived at made available for public study?
– Surveys and research are being made constantly by the department. Facts are the things we need in all these arguments. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper, I shall have much pleasure in submitting it to my colleague, the Minister for Immigration, and asking him to give a considered reply.
– I direct a question to you, Mr. President. It is frequently said that Australians abroad are not good ambassadors for their country, that they do not appear to be proud of Australia and even tend to defame it in their behaviour and conversation. Do you consider that the leaders in the community do enough to arouse patriotic fervour within Australia? Could the Commonwealth Parliament set a better example by more frequent flying of the national flag on Parliament House? In addition to the flag which flies while the Parliament is in session, would you consider the possibility of using several other flags along the facade of the building on days of national importance? To-day being -Canberra Day, and the 45th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone to mark the commencement of our national capital, could we not fly several flags as a gesture of appreciation and pride in our great -national achievements in so short a period of time?
– I would point out that the practice of flying flags over Parliament House follows the practice of the House of Commons. Flags are flown during the day-time when the Senate and the House of Representatives are in session, and at night-time coloured lights are displayed. Your further suggestion warrants -consideration. I shall take the matter up with Mr. Speaker and let you have a reply at a later date.
– I think my question should be addressed to you, Mr. President, rather than to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I should like to know whether your attention has been drawn to to-day’s “ Daily Telegraph “, a newspaper known to quite a few of us and published, I think, in Sydney.
– The Sydney “Daily Telegraph “?
– Yes. On the front page, under the caption “ Two jobs ‘ robbery ‘ “, the following appears: -
CANBERRA, Tues.- Sen. Brown (Lab., Qld.) today criticised members of Parliament for working at their former occupations instead of attending Parliament.
In the address-in-reply debate in the Senate he said: “ This is a matter a committee could well investigate.”
Sen. Brown said that for a man to work at his former occupation while receiving his Parliamentary salary “ could be compared to a low form of robbery.”
I do not know whether you can do anything in the matter. I did not make such a statement. I was not on my feet discussing the Address-in-Reply. I am not sure whether I should sue the “ Daily Telegraph “ for libel or commend it. Can anything be done by you, Mr. President, to see that gentlemen like myself are not misreported?
– The honorable senator having directed attention to the inaccuracy, I think the matter will now be corrected. I am sure that the honorable senator would not expect me to accept responsibility for correcting inaccuracies in the daily press.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Treasurer a question about the decision of the High Court in relation to the subject-matter of travelling expenses incurred by persons going to and from their place of work. The decision was delivered yesterday, and was published in to-day’s press. I noticed that part of the report stated that the view of the Chief Justice was that, if this matter was to be revised, it was the responsibility of the Parliament to revise it. I ask the Minister, first, whether he will ensure that the court’s reasons are circulated to us as early as possible and, secondly, whether he will consider making a special announcement as to the Government’s attitude regarding the responsibility of the Parliament in the matter.
– I think the honorable senator knows better than I do whether it is possible for the Ministry to expedite the circulation of the High Court’s judgment.
– I mean when the reasons come to hand. No doubt the Attorney-General receives them. All I want him to do is to send them to honorable senators.
– I thought the request was that we should expedite the handing down of the reasons for judgment. 1 undertake to do what is usually done in these circumstances”, and I shall convey to ihe Treasurer the suggestion that he should make a special announcement upon the court’s decision.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport the following questions: - What subsidy is paid by the Australian Shipbuilding Board to assist the shipbuilding industry in this country? Does the board pursue a policy that is designed to encourage shipbuilding in the various States? What is the amount of subsidy that has been paid in each of the last three years for shipbuilding carried on in each of the States?
– I regret that I have not the details in my mind, but I shall be pleased to get them and furnish them to the honorable senator. Of course, the maximum rate of subsidy is 33i per cent. The Australian Shipbuilding Board has pursued a policy of encouraging shipbuilding in all the shipbuilding yards of the Commonwealth that have proved to be cooperative and efficient.
Portrait of Lord Forrest
– I address to you, Mr. President, remarks that are in elaboration of the question that I directed to you on 25th February about the removal of the portrait of Lord Forrest from King’s Hall. You kindly promised to investigate the matter, and, if possible, have the portrait returned to its place of honour.
When reading the report of proceedings in another place, I noted that wrong information was given in answer to a similar question. Mr. Speaker stated that for a person’s portrait to qualify for hanging in King’s Hall that person had to be a member of the Royal Family, a governor-general, a presiding officer, a prime minister or a “ first “. Mr. Speaker further stated that, although Lord Forrest rendered great service to Australia, he was inclined to believe that Lord Forrest did not come within any of these categories.
I have received from Western Australia an extract in regard to Lord Forrest’s “ firsts “ which has been taken from the “ Dictionary of Australian Biography “. I should like to outline to you his political career, not in Western Australia, but in Australia. He was present at the first convention at which it was decided to federate. He was the first federal PostmasterGeneral, and he held office in every subsequent Liberal Ministry, except the Reid-McLean Ministry, as PostmasterGeneral, Minister for Defence, or Minister for Home Affairs. For five years altogether he was Treasurer. In 1907, he was Acting Prime Minister while Mr. Deakin was* at the Colonial Conference, but he resigned from the Cabinet a few weeks after Mr. Deakin’s return.
He was made a C.M.G. in 1882, a K.C.M.G. in 1891, and a Privy Councillor in 1897. On 2nd February, 1918, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Forrest of Bunbury, the first native-born Australian to attain that honour. During his 35 years of political life he was for 26 years in office. He had faith in himself and faith in the future of his country. He will long be remembered as one of the greatest men Australia has produced. As a statesman, his vision ‘was broad, his will resolute and his politics definite. I give you this information, Mr. President, to help you in your inquiry concerning the restoration of the portrait to its rightful place.
– I appreciate the information that the honorable senator has presented to the Senate this afternoon. In view of her remarks, 1 shall have the matter of the hanging of the portrait reviewed.
– Following Senator Scott’s question on the proposed Commonwealth Development Bank, I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether the Government will consider allowing the part of the banking legislation which deals with the Development Bank to be passed, irrespective of the fate of the other portions of the legislation.
– I shall reply to Senator Cole.
- Senator Spooner, on a matter of policy.
– In those circumstances, what the honorable senator should do, when the legislation comes before the
Senate, is to deal with it in a parliamentary fashion, to show that the Australian Democratic Labour party really has some views of its own on banking and, if he feels so inclined, to move an amendment which, I am sure, will be considered by the Government on its merits.
– 1 submit to the Minister for Customs and Excise a question relating to the operation of the tax on diesel fuel. 1 am advised that in the district ot Wanneroo, near Perth, it is impossible for the users of diesel fuel who are entitled to exemption to obtain the normal certificates because no agents have been appointed for the purpose of issuing such certificates in that area. In view of the fact that the district of Wanneroo is a very important market gardening centre, and that there are a number of users of diesel fuel there who are entitled to exemption, will the Minister consider the appointment of an adequate number of agents for the purpose of issuing certificates’ of exemption there?
– 1 am grateful to the honorable senator for bringing this matter to my notice, because it is the wish of the department that these certificates should be distributed throughout the States as widely as possible. It is essential that points of distribution be available as close as possible to the users in every State. I have only just received the figures from Western Australia. I notice that we have issued 3,782 certificates in that State, and that there are only 644 applications on hand. Better still, we have paid 1,959 rebate claims in Western Australia, and there are now only 93 outstanding. I shall see that every step is taken to ensure that certificates of exemption will be available in the Wanneroo area.
– I address the following questions to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade: - (1) Is the Minister aware that it is alleged that printed copies of Tariff Board reports have not been true copies of the original reports containing the signatures of the members of the board? (2) If this is correct, will the Minister have inquiries made as to who is responsible for the deletion of any clause contained in the original report but not in the printed report?
– I find it rather difficult to get the purport of the honorable senator’s question. As I understand it, the question alleges that Tariff Board reports, as printed and tabled in Parliament, differ from the Tariff Board reports as presented to the public.
– That is the allegation.
– That is a very serious allegation. I challenge the honorable senator to put that allegation in specific terms. I say to him that it is a very cowardly allegation to make if it is not made in specific terms.
– I am asking you to make inquiries.
– It is very unfair to make such an allegation without being prepared to prove it. I answer for my colleague, the Minister for Trade, and say that I am sure he does not know of any such incident. What the honorable senator is saying, in effect, is that there is falsification of Tariff Board reports. I say in reply - and I think it is fair to say this in reply - “ Prove it. If you do not prove it, withdraw it or be branded.”
– When asking a question a little while ago, I did not know from whose speech I was quoting. I now find that it was a speech delivered by Senator Benn, and I have no desire to detract from the’ honour due to him for making such a pungent statement.
– Order! The honorable senator was given the call to ask a question.
– I want to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. I ask him whether it is a fact that Australian patrols near the Dutch New Guinea border are doing a splendid job for Australia. I ask him also whether it is a fact that clothing issued to these patrols
Ls outdated and that boots of 1943 design, which will not stand up to tropical patrolling, are still being issued to these troops.
– I should be very surprised if the implication in the honorable senator’s question is correct. I think our troops are remarkably well equipped whereever they are, but I shall certainly have inquiries made.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service studied the figures given by the Commonwealth Statistician which show that in total 67,000,000 man-hours were lost through industrial disputes during the years 1945-1949 inclusive? Has he also heard repeated assertions that Australia enjoyed full employment during that period? As the two statements are contradictory, will he inform the Senate whether this figure of 67,000,000 hours of lost wages has been taken into account when percentages of unemployed have been given for those years?
– I confess I have not studied the figures the honorable senator gives nor the point he takes, but without any consideration of the details I say the point is well taken. The statistics relating to employment might well be considered in conjunction with those relating to time lost in industrial disputes because, in effect, in the final analysis the time a man works and for which he is paid is the time of vital consideration to that man.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is he aware of the growing tendency of mothers to have their babies born at home rather than in maternity hospitals? In view of the increased expenditure involved by the employment of a trained nurse in the home, and the release of a bed in a maternity hospital, which institutions are at present seriously overcrowded, will the Minister consider the payment of some financial benefit to those mothers similar io that allowed patients in approved hospitals? What form of assistance is at present available to mothers in such cases?
– I am afraid I cannot answer the honorable senator’s question immediately, but I shall bring it to thenotice of my colleague, the Minister for Health, with the request that he furnish a full reply.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade whether he noticed in this morning’s edition of the “ Age “ a prominent advertisement under the heading of “ Import Licences “ reading -
Sydney merchant wishes to import goods in “ A “ category, item 241B and “ B “ category. Importers with available licence please reply.
A certain number in the “ Age “ office then appears. Does the Minister consider that advertisement an indication’ that import licences are regarded as trafficable? Are adequate steps being taken to prevent trafficking in government licences? If not, does the Minister regard a licence as a legitimate commodity for merchantable traffic?
– I have not seen the advertisement to which the honorable senator refers, and in the circumstances I hesitate to express an opinion on it.
– My question is supplementary to that asked by Senator O’Flaherty. In view of the fact that he was on his feet when I got the call, perhaps he may wish to ask a supplementary question.
– No, you may ask it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade whether it is a fact that the intentions of the Tariff Board Act have been defeated by the powers of the board being exercised by two former departmental officers, which is not the intention of section 12a (4) of the act. Is he aware that true and accurate records of the meetings of the board should be kept, and that the intention of section 11 in this regard has been contravened? Is he also aware that to defeat the intentions of an act of Parliament constitutes . a public mischief, and that steps were taken to do -so by a member of the board by inserting appropriate statements in Tariff Board reports, printed copies of which have not been in accordance with the documents which carried the signatures of the members of the board? The information contained in my question comes from a member of the board, Mr. Date, in a circular addressed to all members of Parliament. A very grave reflection on the administration of the Tariff Board Act is inherent in that circular and calls for a most searching examination by the responsible Minister. Will the Minister assure the Senate that our minds may be clear on this matter, and if the spirit and the letter of the Tariff Board Act have been contravened by any person, appropriate action will be taken?
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator say that the information contained in his question emanates from a statement which Mr. Date apparently circulated to all members of Parliament. I am sorry to say that I have not received my copy of the circular. However, those who are, and have been associated with the administration of the Tariff Board have also had some experience of extraordinarily extravagant statements made by Mr. Date. That is unfortunately true. As to the honorable senator’s inquiry whether the statements will be investigated, I have not the slightest doubt that the Minister for Trade has already completely investigated them and found them to be unfounded.
– My question is directed to you, Mr. President, and like my previous question it is provoked by the fact that to-day is Canberra Day. Just as I have discovered that several members of Parliament were not aware of that fact, so also do I find in moving about Australia that relatively few people know very much - if anything at all - about the development of our National Capital. Being fully appreciative of the part you have played in having published an excellent booklet containing photographs and information concerning the Federal Parliament, I should like to know whether you would be prepared to take up the matter of producing a similar booklet depicting the development of Canberra since the original foundation stone was laid 45 years ago, for distribution to schools, libraries, and tourist agencies. I respectfully suggest that, although there are several excellent publications on this subject, such as “ Canberra To-day “ and “ Your Guide to Canberra “, the general public, particularly tourists visiting Canberra, do not take time to read very much on the subject, so therefore I consider that the booklet should be in a pictorial form showing by photographs what has been achieved within so short a time.
– I think that the question should have been directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. I shall be pleased to direct his attention to the matter. The honorable senator’s commendation of the booklet that has been published is greatly appreciated.
– My question is supplementary to other questions that have been asked this afternoon about the Tariff Board. In view of the reference by Senator O’Byrne to a communication that has been circulated to members of Parliament by a member of the Tariff Board, will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade consider having a properly documented and detailed statement prepared and announced in Parliament? I suggest that a communication of the sort that has been circulated goes a long way towards undermining the confidence that is essential for the proper functioning of the Tariff Board, an institution in which, I thought, all sections of the Australian community had great confidence up to date.
– Let the Minister laugh that one off!
– Honorable senators opposite do not like it when a reasonable answer is given. They cannot take it when they get the truth. I shall ascertain from the Minister for Trade whether he is prepared to do what the honorable senator has suggested.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that, owing to the lack of drainage, the earth strip at Coffs
Harbour has deteriorated to the extent that modern aircraft cannot use it for fear of breaking through the crust of the surface? This strip was put down during the war period and was satisfactory for the aircraft that then used it. Subsequently, it was adequate for DC3 aircraft which served Coffs Harbour and the surrounding district, but it is unsuitable for use by Viscounts. The strip could not stand the strain of the heavier traffic. Is it by direction of the Minister that an amount of £200,000 is being expended on an airstrip at Pillar Valley, in close proximity to Coffs Harbour, when a lesser expenditure on the Coffs Harbour strip would completely restore it for use by all the aircraft?
– I shall make inquiries concerning the condition of the airstrip at Coffs Harbour to which the honorable senator has referred. I shall also inquire into the circumstances surrounding its alleged deterioration and let the honorable senator know the result in due course.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I have been supplied with the following answer: - 1 to 3. The Prime Minister dealt with this matter in reply to a question in the House of Representatives yesterday. In his reply he gave an assurance, which I repeat to the honorable senator, that a full statement will be made on the matter as soon as possible.
– I have to inform the Senate that I have received letters from the Leader of the Government in the Senate nominating Senators Laught, Seward, Wood and Wright, and from the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate nominating
Senators Arnold, Toohey and Willesee, to bemembers of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) - by leave - agreed to -
That a Standing Committee of Regulations and Ordinances be appointed to consist of Senators Arnold, Laught, Seward, Toohey, Willesee, Wood and Wright, such senators having been duly nominated in accordance with the provisions of Standing Order 36a.
Motions (by Senator O’sullivan) - by leave - agreed to -
That a Printing Committee be appointed, to consist of Senators Benn, Buttfield, Hannaford, Robertson, Scott, Tangney and Toohey, with power to confer or sit as a joint committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.
That a Standing Orders Committee be appointed, lo consist of the President, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Chairman of Committees, and Senators Cooke, Kendall, Nicholls, O’Byrne, Vincent and Wright, with power to act during recess, and to confer with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.
That a House Committee be appointed, to consist of the President and Senators Amour, Marriott, O’Flaherty, Ryan, Wade and Wordsworth, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a joint committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) proposed -
That a Library Committee be appointed, to consist of the President and Senators Arnold, Kendall, McCallum, Robertson, Sheehan and Tangney, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a joint committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.
– A ballot has been demanded, and I call for further nominations.
– I nominate Senator McManus.
– The bells will ring for two minutes and then the Senate will proceed to ballot. (The bells having been rung) -
– The Clerks at the table will hand a ballot-paper to each honorable senator. Honorable senators will vote by striking out the name of the nominee whom they do not wish to serve on the committee.
– Before the ballot is taken, am I in order in seeking your ruling, Mr. President, as to whether it is a secret ballot when, in fact, people in the galleries can see plainly which name honorable senators have struck out?
– I feel sure that the method adopted preserves the degree of secrecy demanded by parliamentary procedure. (A ballot having been taken) -
– As a result of the ballot I declare Senators Arnold, Kendall, McCallum, McManus, Robertson and Tangney elected.
The question is -
That a Library Committee bc appointed, to consist ‘ of the President and Senators Arnold, Kendall, McCallum, McManus, Robertson and Tangney, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a joint committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Is it in order for the Senate to be informed of the actual number of votes cast for each contestant in the ballot?
– 1 shall have to look into that matter. I shall advise the honorable senator later.
Message received from the House of Representatives requesting the concurrence of the Senate in the appointment of a joint committee to review certain aspects of the working of the Commonwealth Constitution, in the following terms: -
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) agreed to -
That Standing Order No. 14 be suspended to permit, before the Address-in-Reply is adopted, the appointment of the joint committee.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate concurs in the resolution transmitted to the Senate by message No. 1 of the House of Representatives relating to the appointment of a joint committee to examine problems of constitutional change.
That Senators Kennelly, McKenna, O’Sullivan and Wright be members of the joint committee.
That Senator O’Sullivan be the chairman of the joint committee.
That the resolution, so far as it is inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
That the foregoing resolutions be communicated to the House of Representatives by message.
Message received from the House of Representatives requesting the concurrence of the Senate in the appointment of a Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs in the following terms: -
That a joint committee be appointed to consider foreign affairs generally, and, in particular, to inquire into matters referred to it by the Minister for External Affairs.
That thirteen members of the House of Representatives be appointed to serve on such committee.
That the Minister for External Affairs shall make available to the committee information within such categories or on such conditions as he may consider desirable.
That, notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders -
the persons appointed for the time being to serve on the committee shall constitute the committee notwithstanding any failure by the Senate or the House of Representatives to appoint the full number of senators or members referred to in these resolutions;
the committee shall have power to appoint sub-committees consisting of four or more of its members; and to refer to any such sub-committees any of the matters which the committee is empowered to examine;
the committee or any sub-committee have power to sit during any adjournment of the Parliament and during the sittings of either House of the Parliament;
the committee and its sub-committees will sit in camera and their proceedings shall be secret unless the Minister at the request of the committee otherwise directs;
(i) one-third of the number of members appointed to the committee for the time being constitute a quorum of the committee, save that where the number of members is not divisible by three without remainder the quorum shall be the number next higher than one-third of the number of members for the time being;
three members of a sub-committee constitute a quorum of that subcommittee;
the committee shall, for considerations of national security, in all cases forward its reports to the Minister for External Affairs, but on every occasion when the committee forwards a report to the Minister it shall inform the Parliament that it has so reported; except that in the case of matters not referred to it by the Minister for External Affairs, the committee shall not submit a report to the Minister nor inform the Parliament accordingly without the Minister’s consent. Provided the Opposition is represented on the committee, copies of the committee’s reports to the Minister for External Affairs shall be forwarded to the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives for his confidential information;
subject to the Minister for External Affairs being informed, the committee shall have power to invite persons to give evidence before it;
subject to the consent of the Minister for External Affairs, the committee shall have power to call for official papers or records;
subject to paragraph 4 (d), all evidence submitted to the committee, both written and oral, shall be regarded as confidential to the committee;
the Senate be asked to appoint seven of its members to serve on such committee.
That the committee have power to consider the minutes of evidence and records of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs appointed in the previous session relating to any matter on which that committee had not completed its inquiry.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That Standing Order No. 14 be suspended to permit, before the Address-in-Reply is adopted, the appointment of the joint committee.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate concurs in the resolution transmitted to the Senate by message No. 2 of the House of Representatives relating to the appointment of a Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.
That Senators Cole, Gorton, Maher, Pearson, Robertson, Vincent and Wordsworth be members of such joint committee.
That the foregoing resolutions be communicated to the House of Representatives by message.
Message received from the House of Representatives requesting the concurrence of the Senate in the appointment of a joint committee on the Australian Capital Territory in the following terms: -
That a joint committee be appointed to - (a) examine and report on all proposals for modifications or variations of the plan of lay-out of the City of Canberra and its environs published in the “ Commonwealth of Australia Gazette “ on the 19th day of November, 1925, as previously modified or varied, which are referred to the committee by the Minister for the Interior; and (b) examine and report on such other matters relating to the Australian Capital Territory as may be referred to the committee by the Minister for the Interior.
That the committee consists of two members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Prime Minister, two members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, three senators appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and two senators appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
That every appointment of a member of the committee be forthwith notified in writing to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Represenatives
That the committee elect as chairman of the committee one of the members appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
That the chairman of the committee may, from time to time, appoint another member of the committee to be the deputy chairman of the committee, and that the member so appointed act as chairman of the committee at any time when the chairman is not present at a meeting of the committee.
That the committee have power to appoint sub-committees consisting of three or more of its members and to refer to such a sub-committee any matter which the committee is empowered to examine.
That the committee have power to send for persons, papers and records and to sit during any adjournment of the Parliament and during the sittings of cither House of the Parliament.
That the committee have power to consider the minutes of evidence and records of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory appointed in the previous session relating to any matter on which that committee had not completed its inquiry.
That the committee have leave to report from time to time and that any member of the commitee have power to add a protest or dissent to any report.
That five members of the committee, including the chairman or deputy chairman, constitute a quorum of the committee, and two members of a sub-committee constitute a quorum of the subcommittee.
That in matters of procedure the chairman or deputy chairman presiding at the meeting have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, have a casting vote, and that, in other matters, the chairman or deputy chairman have a deliberative vote only.
That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
Motion (by Senator Henty) agreed to -
That Standing Order No. 14 be suspended to permit, before the Address-in-Reply is adopted, the appointment of the joint committee.
Motion (by Senator Henry) agreed to -
That the Senate concurs in the resolution transmitted to the Senate by message No. 3 of the House of Representatives with reference to the appointment of a joint committee to examine and report on certain matters relating to the Austraiian Capital Territory.
That the provisions of that resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
That the foregoing resolutions be communicated to the House of Representatives by message.
Debate resumed from 11th March (vide page 109), on motion by Senator Kendall -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -
May it Please Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– During the short time at my disposal prior to the adjournment of the Senate last night, I made some comments on the visit of Herr Krupp to Australia. I referred to the statement of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty), when replying to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly), that Senator Kennelly represented only the remnants of a party. Last night, in reply. to an interjection by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan), 1 said that Labour had gained more votes at the last general election than had any otherpolitical party in this Parliament. I notice that the Leader of the Government has retired from the chamber. I thought that he might have had sufficient courtesy to listen to the figures that I went to some trouble- to procure from the Commonwealth Electoral Office this morning. Those figures support my contention that Labour is the biggest political party in the Commonwealth. They show that, at the last general election for the House of Representatives, Labour gained 1,803,335 votes; the LiberalCountry party, 1,701,725; the Australian Country party, 392,205; and the Democratic Labour party, 227,083. It is impossible to get accurate figures for the Senate because, in the Senate the Liberal party and the Australian Country party stand on a joint ticket.I hope, therefore, that the Leader of the Government will have the decency to acknowledge in this chamber that the statements I made last night were correct.
After listening to the Minister for Customs and Excise and the Leader of the Government making excuses and defending the visit to Australia of Herr Krupp, it does not take a great deal of imagination to believe that, at some time during the next. few years, we probably shall have the same gentlemen - if they are still in office - making apologies for a visit to this country of the leader of the Soviet Union, Mr. Khrushchev. I should not be at all surprised if that were to happen.
I want the Senate to listen to what I have to say about the visit of Herr Krupp, because it is a rather serious matter. The Leader of the Government stated that Herr Krupp had not been invited to Australia by the Government. Yet in the Melbourne newspapers we read that he was met at Essendon airport by a Commonwealth motor car driven by a Commonwealth driver, and taken to his destination. I venture to say that nobody could take much exception - at least, I would not - to Herr Krupp coming here as an ordinary citizen, but I strongly object to his enjoying the privileges provided by this Government, privileges for which the taxpayers have to pay.
Last night, when I stated that Labour was numerically the strongest political party, Senator Hannan interjected, “ Then God help us!” Senator Hannan may not be conversant with the position, but the truth is that, back in 194], because of the bitter political dissension in the parties led by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), which had a majority in both houses of the Parliament, the reins of government, on the eve of the greatest crisis this country has ever faced, were handed over to the Australian Labour party, then led by the late Mr. John Curtin. I think that everybody will admit that Mr. Curtin and Mr. Chifley, who followed him, did a great job in organizing the defences of Australia during the war years. It is hard for me to understand what Senator Hannan meant by his interjection, and probably many of the electors also would have difficulty in understanding it.
When the Labour party took office in 1941 there were 200,000 workers registered as unemployed. That is, after ten years of anti-Labour administration in the Commonwealth there were 200,000 unemployed. That was at a time when we had been at war for more than twelve months. Just imagine it! This country was left in that perilous position because of the maladministration of the government at Canberra from 1931 to 1941! I shall refer to that later.
We must all agree that since the LiberalCountry party Government took office again in 1949, Australia has been blessed with wonderful seasons. We have had bountiful harvests, and although everything has been going smoothly since 1949, we find that in 1958, because some parts of the Commonwealth have not had all the rain they need and are experiencing drought conditions, honorable senators on the Government side are complaining. Yesterday, we heard Senator Maher crying about the position of the wool-producers. He can only lay the blame for their position at his own feet and at the feet of his Government because in this instance history is repeating itself. Australia had bountiful seasons from the end of the first world war, in 1918, until the depression hit us in 1928, when people of the same political colour as those who have control of the Commonwealth to-day were faced with a problem similar to that which will be confronting us if Australia has many more dry seasons. They had made no plans to meet any emergency that might have had to be met by governments.
We have arrived at that position to-day. Now, a dry spell occurs in some parts of the Commonwealth after years of bountiful seasons, and some producers find it difficult to meet their financial obligations. That is quite understandable, because the present Government has no plan for helping either the primary producer or the industrialist in times of difficulty.
When the Labour party took office in the Commonwealth sphere in 1941, it was confronted with a pool of 200,000 unemployed. I well remember the words uttered by John Curtin then. Although the position was very serious at that time, he said -
The first job of this Government is to plan a 100 per cent, effort for the prosecution of the war in the interests of the democracies.
He also said -
As surely as the night follows the day, when the war finishes we shall have the job of planning to ensure full employment in the Commonwealth of Australia so that those men and women who are lighting the battle to keep Australia a democratic country will not be left in the position in which they were after the first world war.
I remind honorable senators also of what he said after this country had gone through ten years- of depression and when we were told by anti-Labour governments that the unemployment was due to the fact that there was no money. He said -
Anything that is physically possible should be financially possible if there is necessity for it.
We are fast approaching a similar position now. If there is anything wrong with the economy to-day, it is because this Government has given no thought to planning for the future in the interests of either primary producers or the workers in industry.
Senator Maher complained yesterday about the wool position. He must have a very short memory. If he had not. he would remember the plan put forward by the Labour party to stabilize primary industries. The Labour party realized that after wars there are booms and that after these booms must come busts or recessions. We submitted a policy of stabilization to the people of Australia. We realized that other parts of the world would be without such necessaries of life as wool, wheat and meat because of the devastation wrought by war overseas, and Mr. Chifley submitted to the people a general programme of stabilization. He said to the primary producers, “ While there is a great demand to-day for your products overseas, let us have a stabilized economy in the Commonwealth of Australia. We will pay a certain price for wheat, a certain price for wool and a certain price for other primary products. We will pay prices that will keep our living standards as they are while keeping the costs of production down.”
Unfortunately, the people refused to accept that policy. We intended to give the primary producer something he had never had before in the history of the Commonwealth; we intended to give him economic stability. We submitted to the primary producer, the industrialist and the worker a scheme under which, if each did his job properly, he could go ahead working his farm, his grazing property, or in industry without fear of depressions or droughts.
We also realized that if we were to enjoy the high prices offered on the world’s markets for those of our goods which were in demand, inflationary conditions must necessarily occur in the Commonwealth. Realizing this fact, Mr. Chifley submitted to the people of Australia a scheme under which the Government would pay primary producers a certain price for those of their products which were consumed in Australia and under which the prices obtained for the surplus overseas would be divided amongst them on a pro rata basis. If that plan had been accepted, the basic wage, instead of being in the vicinity of £14, would be about £6 a week. Under that policy the worker would have enjoyed a cheaper cost of living and the producer a lower cost of production.
But that policy was not accepted. Instead, we sold our wool overseas for 240d. per lb. I did not hear Senator Maher complain about that. I remind him also that our wheat brought up to 18s. a bushel on the export market.
– When you say our wool brought 240d. per lb., it must be remembered that that was for the top grade wool, of which there is very little.
– Quite true.
– It is the average that counts.
– I am not trying to mislead the Senate at all. The top price paid for wool was 240d. per lb., and, for wheat, about 18s. a bushel. That was not so bad, but unfortunately the economy of this country was affected by the inflated prices being received for our primary products on the export markets, and to-day we are suffering for it. Further, the land sharks began to operate. They valued the productive capacity of land on a wool price of 240d. per lb. and a wheat price of 18s. a bushel. That led to inflated land values.
– The grower did not get a return of 18s. a bushel for wheat.
– He received approximately that figure. Let us take whatever price the honorable senator cares to suggest. I do not mind. All I say is that the producer received an inflated price and the land sharks based land values on productive capacity based on inflated prices for our exports. Those who bought land at those inflated prices are paying the penalty to-day. The Labour party has always argued that no matter where it is, no matter what kind of country it is, land is worth only the value of what it will produce in normal times.
Senator Maher now suggests the establishment of a floor price for wool. I do not say that would not be right; I am not arguing against that, but I. contend that if it is right to fix a floor price for wool to compensate the grazier who paid up to £80 an acre for grazing land, or if it is right to fix a floor price for wheat to compensate the wheat-grower who paid up to £100 an acre for wheat land, or if it is right to fix a floor price for primary products based on the inflated price of land, then Senator Maher must admit that it is equally right that unemployment relief payments to the worker should be based on what it costs that unemployed worker to live during this period of inflation. I see nothing wrong in that, and I think he should agree.
I have not heard any member of the Australian Country party or the Liberal party mention in this chamber one word about the European free market although I have asked question after question regarding it. I assure honorable senators opposite that if they do not take notice now of the questions I have asked, the time is not far distant when they will be compelled to do so. The Leader of the Government in this chamber told me that negotiations were being conducted behind closed doors. If the primary producer of Australia is prepared to allow those people who are going to farm the farmer in the future, as they farmed him before the outbreak of World War II., to discuss the disposal of his products behind closed door, then he must put up with the consequences. The onus is on honorable senators who are supposed to represent those people to explain why they did not take some action.
During discussions in Delhi with representatives of the British Parliament I learned that they are concerned about the European free market, not because of its effect on Britain but because of the agreement between Britain and Australia. Those gentlemen explained to me in greater detail than the Leader of the Government in this chamber or the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) how our goods, with the exception of wool, will have to be sold at a reduction of 15 per cent., and more, in order to compete with those markets so close to Europe where the free market will operate.
– While the Prime Minister of Great Britain was in Brisbane he said that our agricultural exports would not be affected.
– I am glad to have that interjection. I hope honorable senators and the people of Australia will remember what Senator Maher has just said, because, in discussions with responsible members of the British Government and of the British Labour party, I learned that irrespective of which party is in power in England after the next election the proposals of the European free market must be accepted lock, stock and barrel. We will then see whether I am right or whether Senator Maher is right. The British Government has been standing out against the proposals of the European free market in regard to agriculture but for the information of the Leader of the Government and other honorable senators it is forced now into the position of accepting them. If Senator Maher makes inquiries regarding that matter he will find that my statement is correct.
The time will come, as we have said it will, when the banks will get back the land as they did after World War I. I was recently at an auction sale of wheatgrowing and grazing land in the northeastern portion of Victoria that brought £110 an acre. Just imagine anybody in this chamber, especially those honorable senators who are supposed to represent primary producers, allowing such a state of affairs to exist in Australia to-day. No less than £100 odd for an acre of land on which to grow wheat at a time when our market for wheat is declining daily! The upshot must be that the people on the land eventually will be unable to meet their commitments, and what happened after the first world war will happen again - those lands will revert to the banking institutions in this country and the farmers will be where they were when we took the reins of government in 1941. Their bank accounts will be in the red.
Honorable senators opposite may smile, but not one of them could prove that the primary producer is better off to-day than when we took the reins of office. Farmers experienced the most bountiful seasons we have ever had but the Government could not sell the wheat or wool. When we came to power in 1941 wool was lid. per lb. and farmers were forced to sell their wheat at ls. 64-d. a bushel. That followed the boom period from 1923 to 1926 when wheat was 6s., 7s. and 8s. a bushel. The Liberal Government of the day allowed the depression to come on us and forced us to endure ten years of misery after having enjoyed some of the most bountiful seasons ever known in the history of the Commonwealth of Australia.
In those days we were told that lack of money was the cause of our difficulties. 1 have stated previously in this chamber and I repeat that money has no bearing upon the matter. If any government is prepared to bow to the will of the great money lenders here and in every other part of the world, including Herr Krupp, it must be prepared to put up with the consequences. We took office after ten years of a depression. The war was carried on by a Labour government to a successful conclusion. Thousands of millions of pounds were spent and not one penny piece was borrowed outside the Commonwealth of Australia. The wherewithal came from our land and our production. We should look again to our production and not to the Krupps or people like the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Bolte, who goes overseas to sell Victoria. I, too, could sell Victoria at about one-hundredth of its value, but somebody has to pay in the end. I say, therefore, that money should not be considered.
There should be no unemployment in this country to-day for the reasons I shall explain later. When we bring up the question of unemployment honorable senators on the Government side try to tell us that we are scaremongers and are frightening the people. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) last night said that we were professional mourners. 1 inform this chamber that an additional 5,000 people in the Parramatta electorate have joined us as political mourners, and that number will be increased when the people have the opportunity at the next general election. That will take the grin off the face of honorable senators opposite; they will not be so happy as they appear to be now. The people must be protected from another catastrophe such as they endured after the last boom period in Australia.
We are told by responsible Ministers that the housing position is satisfactory. If they regard the housing position as satisfactory, I invite them to come to my office or my home and talk to the people who seek my help. I venture to say that if they do so they will draw the same conclusions as I have drawn.
– They would be staggered by your home.
– Give credit where it is due. I worked for mine, but yours was given to you by your father as an heirloom. I should like any honorable senator opposite to come to my home and see for himself the number who ask me to help them obtain a housing commission home. Honorable senators opposite laugh because they live in the lap of luxury.
– Does the honorable senator live in a hut?
– No, I do not live in a hut, but my home is not a marble palace. If it were not for the great Australian Labour party we would be living in the same conditions as the slaves in India, but the organizations we represent, the great Australian Labour party and the trade union movement, forced the stooges of the capitalist money lenders in this Parliament to make money available to give the people some of the amenities1 to which they are entitled. The people in India do not have those organizations. I should like honorable senators who have not been to India to visit that country. They would return with a different viewpoint.
– We would be interested to hear all about it.
– I think there are times when honorable senators should act with a little more decorum. On our visit overseas we were fortunate in having as our leader the Minister for Primary Industry and as a member of the delegation the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis). We have decided to meet and prepare a report for presentation to this Parliament. Until that is done, I shall not comment further on this subject.
– Both the gentlemen you mentioned belong to a party on this side of the House.
– The housing position in Australia to-day would be the same as it was prior to the depression of the 30’s but for the inauguration of the Chifley-Cain housing programme of 1945. What did anti-Labour governments do for the people who wanted homes prior to the outbreak of the depression? What did they do in the depression years, when material, man-power and money were available to give the workers of Australia a job of work to do and a home in which to live? It is a return to the misery of the depression years that we fear, yet the Government, assisted by the newspapers and the broadcasting stations, chides us for expressing that fear.
I warn the people of Australia not to be prepared to live under the same conditions and standards as the people of India. Australians are entitled to the right to live decently. So I say that we must continue to agitate for the introduction of measures to give the people what they are entitled to receive. The Government agreed to commence to standardize the railway systems, and recently a start was made on the relatively short line between Melbourne and Wodonga. Of course, this is only a drop in the ocean; the work should have been done ten years ago.
– The Labour government had plenty of time in which to do that.
– The honorable senator should not forget that there were five years of war during Labour’s term of office and that Labour had to organize the man-power of Australia for the defence of this country. After the war, the Chifley Government had to set about placing ex-servicemen, not in the jobs that they left in order to join the forces, but in other jobs in many instances, and to assist the establishment of industries. At that time, many building materials were not available because brick kilns and timberyards had been closed down during the depression. It was necessary for Labour governments, both Commonwealth and State, to assist the resumption of the brick and timber industries and other industries producing building materials. Just as we were reaching a climax in this connexion. Labour vacated office in the federal sphere, although it had controlled the nation’s affairs well during war-time. In order to gain office, the supporters of the Government parties promised the people that petrol rationing would be abolished. When they came to office they pinched out of the dollar pool money that was urgently needed in England to rehabilitate the people who had fought the Battle of Britain.
– The Chifley Government could have abolished tea and butter rationing without the necessity to obtain dollars.
– Both butter rationing and tea rationing had ended, and we could have got petrol in the same way that the anti-Labour Government subsequently got it, but we felt that the people of Britain were entitled to consideration after their war-time experiences.
– Yet you have called them imperialists.
– I do not know where Senator Mattner has obtained that information, because I have never called them imperialists in my life. Of course, there are sharks and moneygrubbers in England - people who want to take more out of industry than they put into it - just as there are in this country.
Last night, the Prime Minister said that we on this side are professional mourners. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) has already admitted that 75,000 people are unemployed in this country. What is the reaction of honorable senators opposite to that statement? ls there any reason why a good-living family man should have to starve because mismanagement at Canberra has resulted in an inflated economy? Senator Mattner laughs. My word, if he were one of the unemployed he would not be laughing! The Government has admitted that there are 75,000 unemployed. In addition, many people who are out of work have not registered for employment. Honorable senators opposite have referred to the degree of unemployment in 1949. We admit that 5 per cent, of the work force was unemployed in that year, due to the coal strike in New South Wales. The Chifley Government dealt very effectively with the people who caused the trouble - people of similar kidney to those who caused the trouble on the coal-fields in 1940, just before an election.
In July of that year there was a coal strike in New South Wales. Just before the general election in 1949, there was another coal strike in that State. After the trouble in 1940, a royal commission inquired into various matters connected therewith, and found that money from a slush fund had been used to bribe the two leaders of the miners’ union to bring about a strike. At that time, there were hundreds of thousands of tons of coal at grass that could not be used. Who knows that the Communists who led the coal-miners were not bribed by the present occupants of the treasury bench to bring about the coal strike in 1949?
I mention those matters for a specific reason. Honorable senators have stated that industrial peace has existed for the last eight years. I know that is the position; there has been very little industrial trouble while the present Government has been in office. In Victoria, the Cain administration had all the trouble with the Communist-led railway union and tramway union. As soon as a Liberal government ca,ne to office in Victoria those troubles ceased.
The position is the same in the federal sphere. While the present Government is in office, there will be no trouble. But when Labour is in office the paid agents of capitalism cause industrial trouble. The people of Australia will learn one day that the Communists of this country - that is the real Communist, not the down-and-out philosopher - is the counterpart of the Italian fascist or the Hitlerite in Germany before the second world war. The Communists in this country have done everything possible to ruin the prestige of the great Australian Labour party. It has been claimed by honorable senators opposite that while this Government has been in office there has been no industrial trouble. There has been none in Victoria since the antiLabour government took office, and I venture to say that there will be none. But if Labour gains office at the next general election, as I am sure it will, it will experience from Communists financed by big business in this country the same kind of trouble that they have caused in the past.
– I wish to join with other honorable senators in expressing thanks for the visit of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and also for the prior visit of the British Prime Minister. I think at this time when the British Commonwealth is to some extent in a state of flux, and when legal ties which were important in the past no longer seem important, that such visits are of the utmost value. Apart from any general attitude towards the Commonwealth, our own relations as a people with the people of the British Isles are now, I think, becoming stronger and stronger.
I propose to make a few remarks about unemployment, and I hope that I shall not merely be threshing the stale straw that has been agitated in this chamber. It is true that there are some unemployed, and that the problem is serious, at least in my own State of New South Wales. The figure has been estimated as 75,000. It is also true that there are 25,000 positions that urgently need filling - positions that have been listed; there are probably a great many more. At least, that should lead us to reflect that the unemployment problem is somewhat complex. It cannot be solved merely by saying, “ It is the duty of the Government immediately to find a job for every one “, or by suggesting that new capital should be provided or credit released to an unlimited extent. The Government has already provided a sum of £5,000,000 for the specific purpose of relieving unemployment, and we may expect that though this will have substantial results, some time will elapse before those results will become apparent. Possibly it will be used to revive a languishing industry, or to start a new industry, for that is the way in which one cures unemployment.
Moreover, the release by the Central Bank of £15,000,000 will make it easier for the private trading banks to extend credit. Here, too, a very complex operation is involved. The releasing of additional credit does not imply that employment will be provided immediately for every one in the community. The continual assertion that we are approaching a state of crisis is good neither for the economy nor for any one in it, except those who wish to profit politically. lt has been suggested that present unemployment figures demand an immediate and drastic cut in immigration. I am not one of those who believe that some fixed figure for immigration must always be adhered to. lt may be that, from time to time, it will seem wise to reduce the intake, but I remind honorable senators that assisted immigrants, at least, are being brought out to specific jobs. They are not putting people out of employment. If we bring out 50 carpenters that does not in any way affect the position of clerks - who could not perform a carpenter’s duties in any case. The Department of Immigration has always been very well run, and day by day its officers are learning more and more about immigration. I find that shortcomings which were pointed out five years ago are not still persisted in as if no complaint had been made. The department is, I believe, forever adjusting its policy to the needs of the day.
I would mention only one other matter affecting employment. The proposed Commonwealth Bank Bill proposes, among other things, the establishment of a development bank. Such a bank would be a powerful instrument in dealing with unemployment for it would prove a much more flexible means of releasing credit than any at present in existence. The Government had in mind the need to provide a bank which might have regard to the personal qualities of people wishing to begin new industries, whether primary or secondary in character. Some honorable members opposite, who rejected the Commonwealth Bank Bill without even discussing it, have obviously not fully considered its importance. Those who are really anxious to promote employment, as distinct from those who are determined! to profit by its absence, will doubtless play their part in helping to pass any bill which sets up such a useful banking institution.
I wish now to refer to a matter of great public importance which, unfortunately, has seldom been discussed in this chamber. I believe that a great deal of the discussion that has taken place outside of the Parliament would have been better informed if members had, in earlier years, known what they were doing when they allowed certain regulations to pass. They would then have fulfilled their duty as guardians of the public interest. We have read over a considerable period, in the Sydney press at least, criticism of censorship, both as applied to books and written publications and to films.
I want to say at the outset that I have full confidence in the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty). Shortly after he assumed office I wrote to him, and have since been constantly in touch with him, on this subject. I have found him sympathetic. He has an open mind and is examining the problem so thoroughly that I believe he will provide us, before this session ends, with a solution of it which is satisfactory to the great majority of Australians. 1- do not wish to hurry him in reaching that decision because matters of principle are involved, and these cannot be settled lightly or easily. Indeed, one suggestion which I made to the Minister some months ago seems to me, upon reflection, and after discussion with certain other people, to be less satisfactory than I at first thought.
The real trouble is that in this country, for a number of reasons, people have become to regard censorship as a normal and ordinary part of their daily lives. Many honorable senators will recall that, before the first world war, censorship was looked upon in this country as something completely abnormal. The horrible example of Czarist censorship which was held up to us all was that of Russia, where newspapers frequently appeared with whole paragraphs cut out. There the censor sat down every night and censored news, leading articles and- even advertisements. We have since become, as it were, inured to censorship because of the impact of two world wars and the rise of other media of communication, notably the cinema and the radio.
It has been urged that the old British tradition that a person might publish anything he wished subject to his being called to answer for it in the courts - to which wc had been accustomed since 1689 - does not satisfy the demands of the present day. I am not convinced of that. I should like to see the old system given a further trial. If that cannot be done I can offer various alternative courses of action. I have no hesitation in saying that I stand by the old whig doctrine that free speech is a right which should never be taken away by any government except in time of great emergency, and for the gravest possible reasons. I do not profess to be fully acquainted with the legal position but, as I understand it, before censorship became an everyday matter a person might publish anything - but if the courts held that it was blasphemous, seditious, treasonable or obscene he might be punished.
Since the establishment in 1901 of the Commonwealth of Australia the position has altered, not only because of two world wars and the rise of new media of communication, but also because a large proportion of the books and films which are circulated in this country is imported. Accordingly, the Commonwealth has exercised its power to examine whether imports are good, or not. I believe, however, that the old principle which preserves free speech should be followed, whether the book or film concerned is imported or not. I appreciate fully the great task that the Minister for Customs and Excise has in trying to frame a policy. I believe a policy must be framed different from that into which we have drifted, rather than gone deliberately.
As I was saying, I stand upon the old principle that truth and error should grapple. It is not the function of the Government, through its customs department or any other medium, to sift truth so that the citizen shall have only what the Government or some official thinks he should have. The arguments in favour of this almost unlimited free speech are set forth most nobly in that great prose work of John Milton, the “ Areopagitica “. His first argument is that censorship - or, as he would call it, licensed printing - discourages the search for truth and learning, and in the end may result in the suppression of truth. Any danger that comes from allowing complete freedom of expression is small compared with that great danger. Milton does not say that all books are good. He does not say that the State should in no case interfere. In fact, he uses this curious phrase -
The State should have a. vigilant eye how books demean themselves and thereafter to confine, imprison and do sharpest justice upon them as malefactors.
But, mark you, he believes that that should happen only after the books are available for inspection by the individual citizen, who, in the last resort, is the authority. One of the reasons he gives for avoiding censorship is that you may destroy a good book, and may destroy it for ever. You may destroy thought which has come to live, and which may not be discovered again in the history of man. He says -
He who destroys a good book kills reason itself, kills the image of God.
He says further -
Many a man lives a burden to the earth, but a good book is the precious life blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.
Then he deals further with a problem which I am sure the Minister has found, namely, the difficulty of finding a good censor. Who shall look after the keepers themselves? It is easy to say, “ We will appoint a man and he will see that we get only good books “, but Milton says -
He who is made judge to sit upon the birth or death of books had need to be a man above the common measure, both studious, learned and judicious.
I give the Minister great credit. I think that in the man he has chosen to be the final arbiter on the admission of books, Professor Leslie Allen, he has a man of that stature, but such men are hard to find. Men of that type are very rare among the people of to-day. We do not find many men to-day who are scholars, not in one but in several European languages and, in addition, scholars in the ancient languages - men who have read most of the great books of all time and, therefore, men on whose judgment we can rely.
In general, I have little complaint about the present censorship of books, but we have a very different position with the cinema. I admit the force of the argument that because films are shown to adolescents, and even to children - to people of immature minds - we cannot adopt exactly the same standards as 1 have urged in regard to books. But how much more careful should we be to see that the men who are given the task of censoring films are thoroughly fitted for that task, not only in knowledge and experience, but also in their attitude? I believe that, in general, we should not criticize public servants. We should criticize the Minister and allow him to pass on to the public servants the criticisms we make. But it happens that in this matter of censorship a number of the people who have been engaged in it in the past have made public statements and have given grounds for their decisions which, I think, are not in accordance with the will of the Parliament and not even in accordance with the spirit of our Constitution. 1 wish to read a short extract from a broadcast address given by a former censor. I am not holding this gentleman up to derision. I am not attacking his attitude. I am simply trying to let honorable senators know that his attitude is one which I, at least, cannot support, lt is, 1 think, an attitude which many citizens of this country will not support if they know what it is. The speech in question was printed in the “ Australian Broadcasting Commission Weekly “ of 6th April, 1957, and is available in the library. After discussing the attitude that he acquired after fifteen years’ experience, Mr. Alexander went on to say -
Another angle to censorship is the high degree of concentration demanded of a censor. He cannot afford to miss a word or a gesture if a reasonably good job is to be achieved.
Perhaps one of the best examples of this was in a wartime film in which the Queen, now the Queen Mother, was inspecting garments sent to England by the Canadian Red Cross for issue to blitzed working men’s children.
The Queen, examining and admiring a baby’s silk shawl, remarked, “ It is really too beautiful “, using the word “ too “ merely as a superlative. We eliminated the word to avoid the impression on some minds with an exaggerated social outlook that the Queen’s remark suggested the shawl was too good for a working man’s child.
I believe that those censors misinterpreted the mind of nearly everybody in Australia. I do not believe there was anybody who, seeing that film, would have given the word that interpretation. If we are to have this grandmotherly solicitude for our films, we shall be treated as something less than adolescents. That sort of thing must be abolished.
I wish to refer to another statement. This time, as I cannot quote, I shall say that it purports to come from a censor, because .1 have only seen a newspaper report. The report stated that a film imported by a private group for limited circulation was censored in that certain words were ordered to be left out of the script on the ground that they would give offence to a large number of people of a particular religious persuasion. I believe that that ground is one that we cannot tolerate, if we are to be a free people. We all deplore the acrid discussion of religious differences, but I cannot see any ground on which a censor can place religious questions on a different basis to political or any other questions. Whether there are discussions with good manners, good temper and good sense depends upon the individual. I wish myself that many people who profess to speak for religious groups would remember the admonition of St. Paul who said -
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
It is not the duty of the censor or of any official appointed by the Government to instruct people in good sense or good manners. That is something that can come only by persuasion. The Government does not have the authority to deny to any group, however small or insignificant, the right to express its point of view as it thinks fit.
I happen to know something about this particular film. I do not think it exhibits that degree of charity which I should like to see in all such films. I would not give a guarantee that every statement in it is true; in fact, I believe that one at least is false. I also think that it presents a caricature rather than a clear picture of one great religious society. But what then? People believe that, and I should say that they should have the right to express that opinion subject only to such safeguards as can be set down in law for the prevention of slander. I know the law of slander and libel is very limited, but there is a ground for action for slander or libel by individuals. There is no law of slander or libel in regard, to the dead.
– There is, in Queensland and Tasmania.
– Is there? I sometimes read with great indignation attacks on great men of the past whom I have revered but whom some person, writing for the market and for money, now discovers to have had more faults than apparently most of us have to-day.
If we must apply limitations on free speech, they must not be based on the private opinion of an individual censor. When all is said and done, if we were to cut out from literature all the caricatures and all the libels that have been uttered against religious groups, it would at least be less amusing, and it might be salutary for some people to read libels against themselves. I propose to quote a passage from a very libellous book which is highly offensive to some honorable senators, to some members of the other chamber, to the President of the United States of America, I believe to the mayor of Marseilles and to a great many other people throughout the world. I refer to the book “ Hudibras “, which was published in the reign of Charles II. It was a satire on the regime that had just gone before, and it contains a terrible picture of a man alleged to be representative of that regime. The passage in question, which is about the gentleman Hudibras. reads -
For his religion, it was fit
To match his learning and his wit:
Twas Presbyterian true blue,
For he was of that stubborn crew
Of errant saints, whom all men grant
To be the true church militant
Such as do build their faith upon
The Holy text of pike or gun.
Decide all controversies by
And prove their doctrine orthodox
By apostolick blows and knocks.
King Charles II. said that that was the funniest book he had ever read. He and the other cavaliers laughed, but they have gone and the church at which they laughed lives on. So I do not think we need to fear slander, libel and that sort of thing.
– If Charles II. laughed at that, he would have died laughing at the Goon Show.
– Be that as it may, I wish to offer some suggestions, and to help the Minister in this matter. The regulations governing the censorship of films should be redrafted. That is no easy task, and I do not wish to hurry the Minister; but one particular regulation which must go is that which reads -
No film shall be registered which, in the opinion of the Censorship Board, or on appeal, in the opinion of the Appeal Censor -
depicts any matter the exhibition of which is undesirable in the public interest.
Could there be a wider dragnet than that? Could a more complete present be given to any person who has opinions of his own or an authoritarian taste for interfering with other people’s opinions? I do not think the Parliament should ever have passed that regulation. I can only assume that it was passed as so many other regulations have been passed - without proper scrutiny by this chamber. Incidentally, that regulation was passed in 1932, and I understand that, although there have been some modifications of the regulations since then, that particular provision has not been modified in any way-
– If public interest is to be taken into account, who is to be the custodian of it?
– I take it that there is nothing in that provision to prevent a censor, unless the Minister or some one else comes in, to say that he himself is the custodian of the public interest.
– In regard to import licensing. the Minister can ban anything on any ground.
– I know that the point I am raising touches not only upon censorship but also upon the whole question of the relationship of the Parliament and the Ministers to the Public Service. I believe that one of the reasons why we have drifted into this position is that there is a tendency for a department, as it grows, to become or to consider itself an imperium in imperio and to believe that its policy is always right.
– What does the honorable senator suggest as an alternative authority to protect the public interest if the present authority is abandoned?
– I suggest that, in the final resort, the Parliament should be that authority. t would not “iv» anyting but the most limited and denned power to those servants of the Parliament who exercise this great authority. I would not give them that wide dragnet authority to which I referred and enable them to say that, if they thought a certain publication was not in the public interest, it should be banned.
Although I know that they may be very difficult to define, I suggest that such old legal terms as blasphemy, sedition and obscenity should be the guide. 1 believe that, apart from the Parliament, the final authority should be a court or some person who has the status and independence of a court. A censor who is a public servant under the authority of the Public Service Board and of the head of a department is not a person who should have this tremendous power. I think the Minister has already got pretty close to solving the problem of the censorship of books. He has found a man from outside the Public Service who is completely independent, who, though well advanced in years, is still vigorous in mind, and who has a great fund of scholarship, knowledge and independence. Somehow or other, we must place films and everything else that is to be censored under a similar authority.
I shall now make a few remarks about migration. Last year, I think I indicated briefly that I was not necessarily a follower of everything that the Department of Immigration did, but that I believed fully in bringing to this country as many migrants as we could assimilate. I still adhere to that view. I do not think we are called upon, because of the amount of unemployment that exists at the moment, to reduce the total intake. If the total intake is a little too large, I think the general review which is made every year by a committee acting in consultation with the Minister will be sufficient to deal with the matter. I have given the greatest study and attention to the migration problem, and I believe that in the main we are getting good migrants and that they are satisfying a very great need in both primary and secondary industry. But one point about which I feel we ought to be wary is the bringing of so many migrants to the great capital cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne.
There are other matters that I should like to discuss, but I shall leave them until I can discuss them fully. I conclude by commending the mover and the seconder of this motion, and by supporting the Address-in-Reply.
.- We have just heard from Senator McCallum an erudite treatise on the methods of censorship. His speech was of great interest to the Senate. However, I believe that implicit in the aims of censorship in our community, about which the honorable senator is so concerned, is a much deeper subject, one which is obviously exercising his mind, although he did not fully express his views on it. It is a subject on which, I believe, the attention of people throughout Australia should be continually focused. There is a tendency these days to resort to a process which has been tried so successfully by dictators in the past and which will, if not watched very closely, become an accepted thing in this democracy. I speak of the process which, in a short descriptive phrase, is called “ brain washing “.
We have seen something of the conditions that have come to be accepted by people in other countries through this very process of brain washing. We have seen, in the United States of America, how the late Senator McCarthy tried, through various channels, such as censorship and the press, and by means of smears and the whispered word, to convince people that they must not avail themselves of that great benefit of a democratic country - the right of freedom of thought and freedom of speech. I think that it would have been better had Senator McCallum used his great storehouse of learning to make a penetrating investigation of the degree to which this country is being brain-washed by the press, vested interests, international capitalism, the security police and other instruments, with a view to bringing about a state of affairs in which the precious freedoms which we have always considered to be a part of the Australian way of life will be lost.
One of the activities in this direction which I deplore very much is the method used in the selection of migrants to come to this country. Complete subjection to political views that are acceptable to the Government seems to be the only reason for the entry of some migrants.
– That is unfair to the department.
– The department is acting under instructions in this matter. While I do not wish to condemn any particular officer of the department, the position is getting to the stage to which Senator McCallum referred when he said that we must be ever-vigilant of this process of censorship of thought, of speech, of writing and of viewing. As long as we are prepared to pull down the blind and say “ It can’t happen here “, and as long as we have men like Senator McCallum who have the capacity to investigate and to penetrate this psychological process, but do not do so, so long will it be overlooked. I think that the subject is one that should be ever present in the minds of the Australian people, regardless of how much they expect to gain from the process if it is politically in their favour.
Senator McCallum said that no individual should sift the truth so that the people would read and hear only what that individual wanted them to read or hear. That statement expressed the process which I think is now operating. It is not sufficient for us merely to comment on this process. At the same time, it is difficult to come to grips with it, although the power to brainwash is being exerted by every pressure group and person who feels capable of disciplining some person or section of the community. They will continue to do so while they are able to find avenues for doing it. Therefore, we should pay particular attention to the very important activities of government which are administered by the department that is responsible for censorship. We should see that vested interests, of whatever description, are not able to impose their point of view on the department. In addition, in these troubled times we should see to it that points of view from a wide variety of sources are available. I believe that one of the greatest troubles in the world to-day arises from the blockage of exchange of information about other countries, and the lack of free interchange of scientific, cultural and literary work between the nations. In my opinion, the real reason why the iron curtain is so strongly established and maintained is that the people of the East know nothing, and are allowed to know nothing, of the people of the West, and vice versa. If the world continues in that way, there is no hope for it. We all know that any one who has the temerity to ask for information about what is happening in certain other parts of the world has the old familiar tarbrush brand put on him. Whenever the world finds itself in a situation such as that which exists to-day. there will be these deadlocks; there will be suspicion and fear, as there was in primitive times, when men lived in tiny communities and did not trust their neighbours.
I have said before in this chamber that the only way in which communities can exist side by side is by having mutual trust. The only way in which communities can develop is by distributing labour and . responsibility, and by mutual co-operation and collaboration on the part of the individuals in it. Just as small communities, function, so should a community of states or nations function if it wants to continue to exist. It is in this respect that world, relations are breaking down. We have solved the great problems of international communication; we can move over huge stretches of the world in a very short time; we have solved many of the physical problems associated with world affairs; yet, the degree of intellectual and cultural blockage, rather than diminishing, seems to be increasing.
That brings me to the subject of the contradictory statements with which the people of Australia are at present being bombarded regarding the efficacy of a summit conference. I believe that leaders who have-not the moral courage to meet the leaders of other countries prove to the rest of the world that their case is weak. Mr. Macmillan, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who visited us recently, impressed us by his sincerity when he said that he was willing to attend a summit conference. The British Defence Minister, Mr. Duncan Sandys, has accepted in principle an invitation from the Soviet Government to visit Moscow. It has been said that the purpose of Mr. Sandys’s visit is to ascertain the facts behind all the current mystification about summit talks and the strained relations with America, which Ministers have been doing their best to cover up. With that position existing we turn to the United States, because of their great strength, for physical and possibly moral leadership in the Western world. Why cannot the United
States take the initiative and say to the Russian people, “ You come here; we want the summit talks. We are not afraid of your tawdry philosophy. We are not afraid that your economy is sounder than ours or that your people are any greater than ours; we want to declare to the world that our democracy can survive and prosper “. Instead of taking that attitude, Mr. Foster Dulles is continually putting up obstacles to measures calculated to ease the strains and tensions that exist throughout the world to-day. If we are not prepared to meet these people, how can we possibly solve any differences between us?
Again, many great problems have developed outside tensions or threat of war. They could be solved by summit conferences. For instance, scientific problems are changing from day to day. There is certainly much that we could discuss and upon which agreement between all countries could be reached in connexion with scientific development. I have before me a press report in which it is stated that 350 Australian scientists have asked the Commonwealth Government to ban nuclear weapon tests. It reads -
Three hundred and fifty Australian scientists yesterday called on the Federal Government to ban nuclear weapon tests as a first step towards the abolition of war and of the threat of war hanging over mankind.
As scientists, we have knowledge of the dangers involved and therefore a special responsibility to make these dangers known.
We have no reason to doubt the words of those men. They are all held in high esteem in the political sphere. Amongst those who signed the statement are Professor R. H. Thorp, Professor of Pharmacology, Sydney University, Professor D. P. Mellor, Professor of Chemistry, New South Wales University of Technology, Dr. S. E. Wright, Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Sydney University, Dr. J. E. Blatt, Reader in Physics, Sydney University, Dr. H. Rathgeber, Senior Lecturer in Physics, Sydney University, and Dr. J. H. Green, head of the Department of Radiochemistry, University of Technology. Those scientists are endeavouring to impress upon the Government, and especially our Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), the importance of having summit conferences at which scientists may use their great intellects for peaceful purposes.
At such conferences, the developments that have taken place during the International Geophysical Year could be discussed, and agreement between East and West could be arrived at on them. Agreement could be reached on matters such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, the conquering of space with artificial satellites and so on. I feel that the blockage existing to-day could be dissolved if our leaders exercised a little more initiative and let us have a little more of the truth. We all know that by their very nature the members of the Soviet Union are suspicious of us, but mutual suspicion will never produce anything constructive. If we are to maintain moral and physical leadership of the world, we must take the initiative in these matters.
In newspapers throughout the world we read that it is essential that we overcome the present blockage because the people everywhere realize that if we can only be assured of peace an era of unprecedented prosperity lies ahead of us. There is no peace in the world to-day because of the cold war, the tension of a near hot war and the brinkmanship of Mr. Foster Dulles who keeps people continually wondering what he is going to do next. He can never tell the people anything that will tend to make them feel confident about his policy. I have taken the opportunity of raising my small voice in this Parliament in the hope that the American people will demand that their foreign affairs be conducted on a high level, on a level on which the real aim of the world is international peace.
During this debate we have heard repeated reference to employment and unemployment. For the benefit of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), Senator O’sullivan and other members of the Government, 1 quote the following article from the “ Daily Mirror “, an article which I feel should be incorporated in the archives of extremely clever proverbs: -
PARROTS DON’T MAKE STATESMEN.
Once upon a time a powerful king bought a parrot which he trained to utter soothing words to all concerned when anything looked like going wrong.
The parrot spoke with such conviction that many of the King’s subjects at first believed what it said was true.
The phrase that the parrot most frequently used was, “ No cause for alarm! No cause for alarm! No cause for alarm! “
Because of one thing or another, including the King’s own bad administration, more and more people began losing their jobs.
So the King brought the parrot to a microphone and got it to broadcast to the nation, “ No cause for alarm! No cause for alarm! “.
Unfortunately, this failed to convince all those who were out of work.
In a body, they marched on the Royal Palace, deposed the King, and wrung the parrot’s neck.
Shades of Parramatta! The article continues - “The fate of this unfortunate bird may well befall - in a metaphorical sense - the Federal Minister for Labour (Mr. Holt) if he persists in uttering parrot cries about everything in the garden being lovely at the same time that he admits unemployment has risen, is going to be even worse, and that the Government is being forced into doing something about it.
My remarks on the attitude that the Government is endeavouring to take on unemployment may be linked with what I have said about Senator McCallum’s speech relating to censorship. Whenever people who, through no fault of their own, have been deprived of the means of livelihood for their wives and children, whenever the people who are being deprived of the right to live in a home because of their inability to pay rent raise their voices in criticism of the Government’s attitude towards any humane social subject, the Prime Minister calls them anti-Australian. That is the new parrot cry of the Prime Minister and his Government.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– This afternoon Senator Kennelly asked me whether I would release the details of the ballot for the election of members of the Library Committee. The voting was as follows: - Senator Arnold, 60; Senator Kendall, 60; Senator McCallum, 59; Senator McManus, 32; Senator Robertson, 59; Senator Sheehan, 31; Senator Tangney, 59.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was speaking of the very serious situation with which we are faced in Australia. 1 was not speaking particularly of unemployment having reached a comparable level with unemployment in the United States of America where, according to reports more than 5,000,000 persons are unemployed, nor was I speaking of the situation in any other country. I was speaking directly of the seriousness of the Government’s attitude towards the general trends throughout the economy, and particularly its attitude to unemployment, housing and immigration. The Government, seems to believe that, because it can get some stalking horse, it has found the answer to all its problems.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan) referred to-day to a television feature known as “ Meet the Press “ which was telecast last Sunday in Melbourne. Reference was made to the same: session by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) last night. During the “ Meet the Press “ session, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr. Albert Monk, was interviewed. He was asked, “ Are the unions gravely worried about unemployment? “ I propose to quote to the Senate from a report that was given to me by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) who saw the telecast. He lias assured me that what is being said generally about the session, and the reports that have appeared in the press on statemen :s allegedly made by Mr. Monk, are not true. I want to nail that untruth and distortion here and now because it is being used to cover up what is justifiably a grave indictment of this Government’s policy towards unemployment. When Mr. Monk was asked, “ Are the unions gravely worried about unemployment? “, he replied -
I would not say that they were gravely worried, but the trade unions are seriously concerned with the present unemployment trend.
Mr. Clarey’s report states ;
He expressed the opinion that, in accordance with past experience, the registered unemployed would 1 be less in February. He considered federal actio i was necessary to meet the present position and said that two things should be done: Credit restrictions should be eased and additional money should be made available through the States to municipalities which could more quickly provide work than any other public authorities. In response to another question, he replied that unemployment in Australia was not as great in Australia in relation to population as it was in the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
I have given that actual report of the statements made by Mr. Monk because last night, in another place, the Prime Minister deliberately misinformed the people about Mr. Monk’s statements.
Before the sitting was suspended for dinner, I had quoted from an editorial that was published in the “ Daily Mirror “ which referred to the old parable of the parrot. The Prime Minister appears to have become the parrot in this case. This was stated in the editorial -
Once upon a time a powerful king bought a parrot which he trained to utter soothing words to all concerned when anything looked like going wrong.
The parrot spoke with such conviction that many of the king’s .subjects at first believed what it said was true.
– Order ! The honorable senator cannot pursue that line. He read a quotation from the editorial this afternoon, and he will be guilty of repetition if he repeats it now.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. President. It has been said that if a person tells a lie often enough, the people will believe it. I want to nail once and for all the lie of which I have accused the Prime Minister. The attempt by the leaders of this Government and their supporters to misrepresent the statements that were made by Mr. Monk in the television interview has been designed to discredit those of us who are trying to work for the alleviation of unemployment. Not only are we being threatened but we are also being classified as being antiAustralian. The Prime Minister said last night that members of the Opposition were expressing anti-Australian sentiments in an endeavour to cover up their .party divisions.
The Senate is considering now the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech. As to the Speech itself, I do not suppose a more innocuous document has ever been presented to the Parliament in such serious times. The Government has not offered any constructive proposals in the Governor-General’s Speech. It is an endeavour to cover up the Government’s negative policy of the past. The GovernorGeneral has been used to present a speech which has merely revealed the Government’s lack of policy. Once again the people -of Australia have seen how this Government tries to pull the wool over their eyes.
In the short time at my disposal I want to direct attention to statements that were made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate on 25th February. I did not have an opportunity to reply to the Ministers then. When I challenged the Leader of the Government about the tribunal which had released from custody Herr Alfried von Krupp, Senator O’sullivan said that I knew nothing about the matter. The Minister said -
If Senator O’Byrne, knowing absolutely nothing about it at all, and with all the valour of complete bigotry and ignorance, is prepared to put his ill-informed, uninformed and biased mind against the mind of the American High Commissioner who examined the case on the spot, let that be as it may.
Senator O’sullivan said that it was not Alfried von Krupp who was charged before the War Crimes Tribunal but his organization. For the purposes of the record, I direct the attention of the Senate to the following extract from “ Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals “ selected and prepared by the United Nations War Crimes Commission at page 129: -
Neither is the Krupp firm on trial except as it may appear as the alter ego of the defendant Alfried Krupp after he became the sole owner of the Krupp family enterprise by virtue of Hitler’s Lex Krupp in December, 1943. Yet as said before, in view of the circumstances of the present case, evidence concerning Gustav Krupp and the Krupp firm was admitted by the tribunal; and the voluminous amount of credible evidence presented by the prosecution, the major part of which comes from the files of the Krupp firm, is so convincing and so compelling that I must state that the prosecution built up a strong prima facie case, as far as the implication of Gustav Krupp and the Krupp firm is concerned.
I have also no hesitancy in stating that in my opinion the vast amount of credible evidence justifies the conclusion that the growth and expansion of the Krupp firm at the expense of industrial plants in foreign countries were uppermost in the minds of these defendants throughout the war years. This huge octopus, the Krupp firm, with its body at Essen, swiftly unfolded one of its tentacles behind each new aggressive push of the Wehrmacht and sucked back into Germany much that could be of value to Germany’s war effort and to the Krupp firm in particular.
It is abundantly clear from the credible evidence that those directing the Krupp firm during the war years were motivated by one main desire - that upon the successful termination of the war for Germany, the Krupp concern would be firmly established with permanent plants in the conquered territories and even beyond the seas. This was more than a dream. It was nearing completion wilh each successful thrust of the Wehrmacht. That this growth and expansion on the part of the Krupp firm was due iri large measure to the favoured position which it held with Hitler there can be little doubt. The close relationship between the Krupp firm on the one hand and the Reich government, particularly the Army and Navy High Commands, on the other hand, amounted to a veritable alliance.
The visit’ to Australia in recent weeks of Alfried von Krupp was made in furtherance of the policy of establishing a huge international Krupp combine. If this man, Alfried von Krupp, a convicted major war criminal, is not such a bad person so soon after the war in which the Hitler machine - he helped to create it, and he forced the unhappy slaves to maintain it until they became too weak to work, and he burned them in the ovens he manufactured - attempted to enslave the rest of humanity, and if he is to be welcomed into Australia, then I feel that what the Allies fought for, what I fought for, and what millions of British men, women and children died for, was a hollow sham and that they died in vain.
Krupp was released from gaol by th>: American High Commissioner, not the United Nations War Crimes Commission and not in view of the evidence that is contained in the law reports in black and white. Not only did he receive money as compensation but he is now seeking concessions in this country so that he can establish here another tentacle of the Krupp empire. I feel that Senator Henty and Senator O’sullivan have very clearly illustrated that their mentality is such that people of the calibre of von Krupp and other war criminals are their spiritual brothers, and would be just as certain of a welcome to this country to see the system he nurtured arid fostered in the hope of world domination by Germany come to effect in this part of the world.
– Are you serious?
– I am very serious. I feel that this is the last step in the decline in the morality of this Government. The Government has allowed this man to come here, a man who is a convicted war criminal and who has a lifelong debt to pay to humanity. He is forgiven and welcomed and feted here and allowed to travel oh our airlines incognito in order to escape the wrath of the Australian people that would be awaiting him if he came out of his cover.
Before my time expires, I want to touch on the subject of immigration. We made our position perfectly clear on the matter of immigration when the policy was first implemented by the Chifley Government. We said that we had as our purpose, and still have, the achievement of full employment in this country. We believe that through immigration we could do a great humane service to the whole world by giving refuge to the people who were displaced in Europe through the war and at the same time enable Australia to develop its resource’s - but only on the condition of full employment. We believe that conditions have changed to such an extent that the immigration policy must be reviewed, in accordance with the capacity of this country to absorb the immigrants. A statement that was made recently by the federal director of the Chamber of Manufactures, Mr. Anderson, should be considered alongside statements that are being made by supporters of the Government. Mr. Anderson is reported to have stated -
The economic indicators disclose that we are on the edge of an abyss and far too close for our peace of mind. The unemployment figures indicate a deterioration which calls for collective action before the situation becomes really serious.
Mr. Dougherty, general secretary of the Australian Workers Union, speaking in Sydney recently, said that unemployment had become so serious that immigrants were offering bribes to union officials to try to get them jobs. He went on to say -
Every day the corridors of our offices in Sydney are filled with migrants - many without a word of English - trying to get work. They leave £5 notes and £10 notes on tables as they go out, and they try to push money into union officials’ pockets. They are desperate for work, they need work, they just have to work to live.
These things are terribly important to the people of Australia, but I am afraid that with the brain-washing that is going on through the press, through the radio and through other channels of information, the Australian people do not know the proper situation. It is only on occasions such as this that we can make our voices heard above the noise of brain-washing instrumentalities and get the truth over to the people.
Mr. President, I feel that the policy of this Government needs a complete review. This is election year, and it is quite likely that the Government parties will throw out baits in the next budget for the purpose of collecting votes. But there are 75,000 people unemployed, and a great number who are not registered for employment but who are unemployed. Their wives and children are being deprived of their rights - rights to which we subscribe under the United Nations Charter.
Furthermore, there are 100,000 people who need homes and have applied for them but are unable to get them. Yet Senator Spooner states that an interest rate of 10 per cent, on building loans is not too high. He stated that 50 per cent, of the recipients of housing loans are paying up to 10 per cent., 25 per cent, of them are paying interest of 5 per cent, and only 2 per cent, are paying interest at rates in excess of 10 per cent. This means that a man who borrows £3,500 at 10 per cent, pays £350 a year in interest, or £3,500 in eight years at compound interest. This is a scandalous situation and one which Government senators should not be complacent about. Australians are very broad-minded and are naturally optimistic, and 1 sincerely hope that the promises that were made to them after the war years will be fulfilled. I believe that if guns and tanks can be built in war-time full employment can be maintained in peace-time to provide schools, houses and hospitals. It should be possible to undertake big public works in order to prime the economic pump and put people back into employment. I hope the Government will realize that its advisers are using the soft pedal too much, will realize that it is out of touch with public opinion, and will do something very quickly to rectify the position.
– In rising to take part in this AddressinReply debate, I want to emphasize that I shall not indulge in personal, class or international hatred such as we have been forced to listen, to during the last eighteen minutes. Honorable senators opposite keep on bringing up the visit of Baron Krupp to Australia, whenever they have an opportunity to do so, but they only emphasize how barren they are in thought and political outlook. Here in this chamber we hear international hatreds expressed.
– And apologies for war criminals.
– But the Labour Premiers of Western Australia and Tasmania desire to make contact with Baron Krupp in the hope that industries will be established in those States to provide employment for the workers. These loudmouthed spokesmen for the Labour party in the Senate are doing all they can to cause international hatred which, to say the least, is not in accordance with Christian principles.
Mr. President, I wish to join with other speakers who have preceded me in this debate in congratulating Senator Kendall of Queensland and Senator Pearson of South Australia for the manner in which the Address-in-Reply was moved and seconded by them respectively. At this time of the year we reaffirm our loyalty to the Crown. On this occasion we are in the happy position of knowing that, after 22 glorious days in the presence of the Queen Mother, the loyalty of the Australian people to the Crown has been shown to the world. Their great joy and the tremendous welcome which they gave to that gracious lady during her recent visit have been apparent to all.
– You are not very loyal to the unemployed.
– The honorable senator himself will probably be unemployed after December. We take great pride in our loyalty to the Crown, and are conscious of the great value of maintaining our many ties with the United Kingdom.
I want now to touch on a subject which some honorable senators say does not concern the Federal Parliament. However, I emphasize that it does concern the States’ house of the National Parliament - the Senate. I refer to the question of the appointment of State Governors - the direct link which the people of the States have with the Mother Country. As a Tasmanian, I very much deprecate the proposal - concerning which I have authoritative information, and which is common knowledge to all Tasmanians who care to read the press - that a person not from the United Kingdom will be chosen as the next Governor of Tasmania. I should be loath to criticize that decision if it were the wish of the majority of the Tasmanian people. However, I firmly believe that the proposed departure from the tradition of choosing a Governor from England is not the wish of the majority of those who, at the last election, voted Labour to office. I am convinced that it springs from instructions given to the Labour party caucus of Tasmania by certain union representatives. The caucus, neither agreeing with majority rule nor having its ear to the ground, does not even know what its own supporters wish. It is insisting that a few union representatives be taken notice of in this matter. I am not altogether opposed to a good Australian being made Governor of Tasmania. It would be a retrograde step, but of itself it would not be so bad. However, Tasmanians greatly fear that a Tasmanian, with relatives and associations - even worse, political associations - in that State may be nominated for the position.
– What is wrong with that?
– All I ask is that any man of good will who has any influence upon public opinion in Tasmania will exercise that influence to ensure that the wish of the majority of the people shall be adhered to, and that an Englishman is brought out to our State as Governor. The experience of the last twenty or 30 years has shown the worth of the present strong and binding link with the United Kingdom which we, as loyal Britishers and members of the British Commonwealth should try to preserve.
I know that Senator O’Byrne is sincere when he advocates the banning of nuclear weapon tests. 1 know that, having had some experience of war, he fully realizes the horror that nuclear warfare would visit upon us, but I do not agree with him - nor even with certain scientists - that the free world should cease testing nuclear weapons. I long for the day when there will be no such tests, but I do not believe that we should ban them unless we have proof that those opposed to our way of life propose to do that also. If the whole world were in favour of such an action I should hope that we would be to the forefront in encouraging it - and we will work for that end - but we ought not to cease our tests until we are sure that Soviet Russia and her satellite countries are of like mind. Lest Senator O’Byrne should not follow my reasoning. I invite him and his colleagues to say whether, eager to gain office as they are, they would cease electioneering and campaigning if they were not sure that their opponents in politics would do likewise. If honorable senators opposite keep that thought in the forefront of their minds they may not be so ready to condemn this Government, or the governments of the United States of America and the United Kingdom, for continuing nuclear weapon tests while Soviet Russia - our theoretical enemy at least - carries on tests with such great gusto.
The press was quick to point out that the Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General in opening this session was prepared by the government of the day. I very much regret the reluctance of governments in recent years to take the opportunity afforded by the opening address to tell the nation something of the legislation that is to be brought down. His Excellency told us little or nothing about that. There was, of course, a passing reference to the reintroduction of the banking legislation. In fact, it was the only real meat in the Speech.
The Australian Labour party has learnt that its action in frustrating the introduction of the banking legislation has been frowned upon by the public. I understand that both the A.L.P. - which I call the “ Arrogant Labour party “ - and the Australian Democratic Labour party, the D.L.P. - which 1 call the “ Dud Labour party “ - have this time agreed that the legislation should be debated in this house of review. As I said earlier, I do not think that Opposition senators have their ears to the ground. I advise them quite sincerely - and I have in mind especially the members of the Democratic Labour party - that they will cease to exist politically if they do not let the Government pass the legislation which authorizes the establishment of a development bank. Rural industries especially are interested in this new type of banking policy. Woe betide any party, or segment of a party, which tires to prevent such worthy measures from passing into law.
In this debate one is allowed by the Standing Orders to traverse any subject one wishes, and I ask the Senate to think for a moment, at the beginning of this year’s work, of the portents and prospects for the days which lie ahead. I think the first thing that is obvious is that the Government will continue - as in the last eight or nine years - to introduce legislation which has as its object the economic progress of Australia. This being an election year there will be some window-dressing. Window-dressing has been the custom since federation in the Commonwealth and State parliaments and the people of Australia can expect it to continue.
The second thing they can expect, judging from past performances, is that the Opposition will oppose and decry all’ steps taken by the Government in an attempt to implement its policy. The Opposition will forget facts and previously expressed opinions. It will decry the actions of the Government, as has been done in this debate in dealing with unemployment, lt will cry depression and, as it has been doing for years, it will preach class hatred. That is the greatest harm that the Labour party can do to the Australian community. Honorable senators who watch the manoeuvres, both open and undercover, of the Labour party will witness an attempt to heal the wounds in the party that are so embarrassingly open and so well known to the electors.
Then there is the microphone, which you, Sir, will recall that T tried to silence two years ago. The microphone for the broadcasting of the proceedings of the Parliament provides an easy way of disseminating political propaganda, which will be used to the fullest extent. But that propaganda will not enlighten the people; it will sicken them. I should like to have an assurance from the Government that a co-axial cable, or any other scientific device that would render possible the telecasting of our proceedings in this chamber, will not be used for that purpose. Telecasting would be a waste of money and time. I believe that it would bring the Parliament, not only into disrepute, but into ridicule. Those who desire the continuance of democratic parliamentary government in this country should strive to uplift the status of this Parliament in the nation, to increase its usefulness to the nation, and. in so doing, to increase the usefulness of each member to the people he represents. I. remind honorable senators that there are too many well-informed critics who are asking: What is wrong with Parliament? If the members of the National Parliament blissfully ignore the people who ask that ques tion and who make suggestions for correcting the faults, they will be guilty men. and women.
I was most interested to read in a newspaper called “ Muster “ - which, I believe, is circulated to all members of the Parliament - a comment on an article by Mr. Grimond, a member of the House of Commons. He was referring, to the House of Commons and his article was published originally in the “ Sunday Times “ in London. The editor of “ Muster “ commented that the article had a particular importance at a time like the present, when parliamentary government in all the democratic nations of the West is on trial. That is a fact. Parliamentary government in the free countries is on trial. The editor stated -
The fact that Mr. Grimond, in England, is advancing criticism and suggesting reforms; some of which have been aired in Australia by a few of our own more thoughtful parliamentarians, is an indication that modern democratic parliaments are, in fact, suffering from a form of sickness which, if not checked and cured, could- become fatal.
He added -
His is a voice that should be echoed strongly in Canberra.
For our welfare, we should heed some of the remarks of Mr. Grimond in his most thoughtful article, from which I wish to quote a few brief extracts. Talking of parliament, he said -
It must subject the activities of the Government to scrutiny, some friendly, some hostile. Its members must be able to get grievances not only aired but righted, and they must have a chance to press their views to the point where action may result.
Honorable senators on both sides of this chamber should heed those words.
– That was said of the House of Commons.
– It was said of the House of Commons, but it is equally applicable to this Parliament. Mr. Grimond continued -
The Government of the day must take most of the blame if legislation is oppressive, footling or unintelligible, as some of it is.
That is a warning we should heed. Mr. Grimond gives another thought with which I think all honorable senators will agree, whether in the future they will be in Opposition or on the Government side. For the sake of democracy, it should be a truism, not merely a wish. He said -
In committee we should allow more freedom of voting on amendments.
There is one other quotation I. desire to make from Mr. Grimond’s article. He said -
What breaks the enthusiasm of the back-bencher is being kept in pointless idleness for a pointless division, sitting all day waiting to speak on a subject he has studied but never being called. 1 have been here only five years, but I have come to the conclusion that we do not give enough thought to improving the working of the Parliament and to ensuring to ordinary members a right to air their views and get something done. Articles like Mr. Grimond’s remind us that that is a problem facing all democratic governments. It is a problem which we should strive to solve. 1 change my subject again to ask the Opposition whether, in this election year, it is shaping its policy on questions of national importance. I refer first to the muchdiscussed and serious question of unemployment. It is obvious that the spokesmen of the Labour party are doing all they can to twist figures and exaggerate certain aspects of unemployment. In doing so, they do a disservice to the work force of Australia. By employing scare methods they help to create unemployment. And the Chamber of Manufactures was on their side when the signing of the Japanese Trade Agreement was announced last year. AH the talk that went on and all the pamphlets and roneoed letters that were issued at that time put a scare into the minds of industrialists and employers who, backed by the spokesmen for the Australian Labour party, led people to become frightened. Men were laid off in certain industries; but some of those industries have since realized that they were misled and have taken men back. The regrettable aspect of the matter is that, when that kind of attitude is adopted, unemployment snowballs, because people start to close their purses. The more unemployed people there are the less spending power there is, and gradually employers lay off employees whom they would keep in more prosperous times.
No one in public life, and certainly no member of the National Parliament, should ever try to mislead the public or build up hopes that cannot be realized. To do that is t© do a grave disservice to the public. The Labour party would do well to take cognizance of that fact and to reshape its thinking and propaganda, not for the glorification of the Liberal-Country party Government or the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), but for the welfare of the workers. I say to the Government that it cannot, day after day, say that there are only so many thousand persons unemployed. It must continue, as I sincerely believe it is continuing, to watch the situation and to act in every way possible to see that the menace of growing unemployment does not continue to worry us. But I have never believed, and never will believe, that the employment situation is completely the responsibility of the central government. It cannot be expected to employ all those whom private enterprise cannot employ. The central government has the task of legislating and regulating economic controls, credit and banking policy to help private enterprise to absorb any pockets of unemployment that occur. We on this side of the chamber believe in full employment and we have had full employment, but we cannot overcome in a day the force of world economic trends. We could be helped if the Labour party was more sincere and if its members did not talk of depression.
Another aspect of Labour thinking which should be re-shaped and in relation to which I believe that the Labour party, after a little thought and consideration, would realize that the Australian Council of Trade Unions had led it up a tree, relates to the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council. I know that the Tasmanian Trades Hall Council holds that view about the attitude of the A.C.T.U. The Ministry of Labour Advisory Council, from membership of which the newly-constituted A.C.T.U. has decided to withdraw, is of great importance to the welfare of the working force of Australia. It is interesting to note that the idea behind its establishment was advanced in England in 1939 and that the trade unions of Great Britain, during the regimes of Labour, coalition and conservative governments, have maintained their allegiance to and given their support to such a council or committee. The Ministry of Labour Advisory Council, which was formed for the purpose of bringing together representatives of management, employees and the Government to discuss matters of national importance, was established in 1954 by the present Minister for
Labour and National Service, and it has been a great success. This Government has placed before the council all proposed industrial legislation before it has been submitted to the Government parties, and the wishes, thoughts, ideas and suggestions of the council have played a most influential part in the final shaping of the legislation. That has been of benefit to the industrial movement.
In addition, the council has been instrumental in helping to arrange a national safety campaign in Australian industry. Many hours of work are lost to industry as a result of accidents, and the council has realized the economic cost to Australia of those accidents. This safety campaign was to have been launched soon with the help of the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council, but 1 repeat that the A.C.T.U. has now decided to withdraw from membership of the council. T understand that the Tasmanian Trades Hall Council is making a move to persuade the executive of the A.C.T.U. to reverse its decision to withdraw from the council. I hope that the A.C.T.U. does so, because it is of the utmost importance to the work force of Australia and to our economic welfare that the Advisory Council should continue in operation and bring together representatives of the Government, management and workers. 1 conclude by saying that I support very warmly the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
– The motion before the Senate affirms loyalty to the Crown and in effect thanks the GovernorGeneral for his good offices in opening the present session of the Federal Parliament. Members of the Opposition join very cordially with the Government and its supporters in supporting the terms of the motion that was moved and seconded by Senators Kendall and Pearson respectively in the course of very thoughtful speeches.
I support the remarks in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech in relation to the visit to Australia of the Queen Mother. I hope, and believe, that we in Australia succeeded in conveying to her adequately how very and truly welcome she was in this country. The Opposition welcomed her both for her own personal qualities and record as well as because of her membership of the Royal Family.
I take advantage of this the first opportunity to express the Opposition’s keenest disappointment with the Speech that the Governor-General delivered on behalf of the Government. We regarded it as being not only disappointing but also completely barren of hope for the future. The Opposition felt so strongly about it in another place that it initiated an amendment to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. In that amendment, the Opposition directed attention to the defects and defaults of the Government in relation to major matters in Australia - the unemployment situation, the failure to provide adequate homes, the unbalanced migration position, defects in Commonwealth and State financial relations and, finally, grave deficiencies and defects m Australia’s defences. In my view, each of these matters pinpoints what I have been saying in this chamber for years about the inertia of the Government in the face of a problem, its inability to act and its lack of leadership. That is apparent in a review of each of these matters. In the brief time during which I propose to devote myself to these various subjects, I intend, without moving an amendment in this chamber, where a censure motion is not effective, to offer some comments to the Senate under each of the heads that I have particularized.
First, let me turn to unemployment. There can be no argument that, according to the figures of the Government and the latest figures that I have been able to obtain, at 31st January of this year there were 74,765 persons seeking work in Australia. That is according to the figures supplied by the Government. At the same time, there were 29,856 people on unemployment benefit. The inescapable fact is that those were the highest figures for five years. The pinnacle of unemployment was reached in January this year. The indications are. from information that has been supplied to the Senate, that the position recovered somewhat during February. I await with hope the figures showing the position at the end of February, and I trust that the improvement that the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) indicated was beginning to take place will be continued.
I am accepting the Government’s figures in relation to those unemployed, but I make some observations on them, as the Minister for National Development did recently. Those figures are not necessarily accurate figures. The Minister has claimed that the actual figures are lower, whereas I can, with reason, claim that they are higher. I point out that the figures do not include the number of migrants, in hostels, awaiting placement. That is a figure that is very variable, lt fluctuates rapidly. On 30th June last, there were 2,451 such persons. They are paid a special benefit and, accordingly, they do not come under the category of those receiving unemployment benefit; but a special benefit is paid at exactly the same rate as the unemployment benefit. In a survey of the employment position in Australia, those figures should plainly be included from time to time.
Moreover, the figures do not include those who make an effort to find work for themselves. I do not know how many would be included under that heading, but it is quite certain that the number of those people would be considerable. On the other hand, as the Minister has pointed out, the figures may include some who have found work for themselves and who have not notified the department. But weighing those factors, my own judgment would be that the 74,765 persons notified by the Government as unemployed on 31st January last is the minimum of those who were unemployed. But as I say, I accept the Government’s figure.
I must confess, Mr. Deputy President, that 1 have been grimly amused during the last few days in this Senate to hear senator after senator from the Government side address himself at length to the question of unemployment and demand that the Opposition should not highlight this aspect of our economy. It has been put to us that we might undermine the confidence of the business community, and that the Opposition in this Parliament should be silent on the subject of unemployment. Those who put up that argument must think that the business people and the other people of Australia have no common sense, that they cannot read, that they cannot see, and that, they cannot listen. The people read in the press and they hear over the radio, day after day, of the fact that there are 4,500,000 unemployed persons in America. They read that there are 500,000 unemployed persons in Canada. They note that overseas prices for our products have fallen. They know that we have a balance of payments difficulty at the present time. Not only do they hear these things; they learn them from television as well. The subject of unemployment has been headlined by every newspaper in Australia for the last few months. Editorial after editorial has been written on the subject, and the one note that runs through every editorial is a complaint about the inertia of the Government in the face of a trend that has persisted for two years.
I say to the Senate very frankly that 1 find even more alarming than the figures the trend in unemployment that has been allowed to run unchecked for a period of two years. I am alarmed still more by the complacent, almost indifferent, attitude of the Government to this problem that is s major one for so very many individuals. I should say that the thing that would do most to give confidence to the business community of Australia would be for it to know that it had a government that was determined to prevent unemployment and that was bent on taking effective and immediate steps to cure it, instead of allowing the position to drift from bad to worse over a two-year period. 1 want to review the last two-year period. I shall not go back farther than that. In that time, the Opposition, again and again in the Parliament, has drawn attention to the trend. We have urged upon the Government the need to take corrective measures. What has been the attitude of the Government to the pleas of the Opposition in the matter? The one answer was that we were calamity howlers - the same type of thing that the supporters of the Government are saying to-day. They say, “Do not talk about it. Keep quiet about it “ - in the face of a growing problem and menace! That has been their attitude to the matter. Let me take honorable senators back to the last general election. In December, 1955, the Government gave no indication to the people of what it intended to do. As I have admitted on other occasions, the Government really got a blank cheque. Then, three months later, it worked a complete deceit on the people, as I have claimed before. It brought in the little Budget. It did not tell the people that they were going to be taxed to the tune of another £115,500,000. That I am pinpointing as the beginning of the trend in unemployment in this country during the last two years-.
Everybody probably will remember that in March, 1956, the Government, overnight, introduced measures to lift sales tax on motor vehicles to 30 per cent., a most punitive rate of sales tax, and imposed high taxation on liquor, tobacco, petrol, and spare parts and accessories for motor cars. One of the immediate effects of that little Budget was to destroy confidence. The business people of this country felt that they could not trust a government that did not tell them, at an election a few months earlier, that it intended to impose so soon this heavy additional taxation. That was concealed from the people, and that is one of the great psychological factors that have undermined confidence in the community; It led immediately to dismissals in the motor trade throughout Australia. Any such action in respect of the motor industry, like the building industry, has many repercussions that are felt in the minor industries and subsidiaries that lead up to it. That, I submit to the Senate, was the beginning of the serious down-turn in employment in this country.
Let me look at the figures for the period. At the time of the election in December, 1955, those registered with the Government for employment totalled 16,000. I am giving the Government the benefit in these figures, of all the hundreds, tens and units. I merely quote the thousands. By April, after the introduction of the little Budget, the figure was 31,000. Throughout the whole of 1956, quoting the figures again in thousands and starting with January, the numbers were: 30,000, 31,000, 30,000, 31,000, 31,000, 31,000, 35,000, 35,000, 33,000, 33,000, 36,000, and at the end of the year, 37,000. There was a trend clearly apparent, moving upwards all the time. The monthly average for the year was 33,000 unemployed. There was no sudden spurt in that trend. There was a gradual rise, and nothing was done about it.
Let us look at the figures throughout 5957, again starting in January and again quoting thousands only. The figures for the respective months were -
At the end of January, 1958, the number was 74,000. I understand that, happily, it has gone down by some thousands during February.
– You are completely ignoring seasonal conditions.
– I am coming to deal with them. At this moment, I am not talking of causes. I want the honorable senator to understand that I am showing the trend, and I shall deal with causes presently.
In December, 1955, when the Government went to the people, the number of unemployed stood at 16,000. At the end of the Government’s first year of office, that figure had risen to 37,000. It had gone up by 21,000 in the Government’s first year! At the end of December, 1957, the end of the Government’s second year of office, it had risen to 58,000. That is a most inglorious performance for a government, and that is the trend that has been left unchecked for the whole two-year period! It is only quite recently, in fact only this year, that some palliatives are to be applied. I propose to comment on their adequacy, too, before I conclude.
Now let me take the unemployment at the time of the “ Little Budget “ in March 1956, and compare it with the figure a year later. There were 30,000 people unemployed in March, 1956, and 46,000 a year later, in March, 1957. The figures rose during the whole of that period, and we were assured all the time that the Government was watching the position carefully. Unfortunately, that is all the Government did; it watched the position throughout the whole of that period. There was a plain trend quite open for anybody to see. Warnings were issued again and again by the
Labour party here and in another place, but, as I say, the only answer was that we were calamity howlers. Now the problem is worse. The trend is there, and we again urge the Government to more effective and broader action than it has taken up to the present time.
The second aspect of the matter that alarms the Opposition is the complacent - I think I am justified in saying the almost indifferent - attitude of the Government in ils public statements in relation to unemployment. lt is forever playing the position down. I think 1 have heard on only a few occasions expressions of real regret for those who are involved in this terrible problem of unemployment; and it is a terrible problem for the individual. I doubt whether there is anything more destructive to an individual’s dignity and self-respect than not to be able to find useful work in the community in which he circulates.
I propose to quote three brief references to indicate the attitude of mind of the Government that alarms the Opposition. Senator Spooner, speaking in the Senate on 28th August last, said -
We admit that at the moment there is some slack. Our aim is to take it up and create conditions which will enable the growth in the work force to continue without overfull employment, inflation and unemployment.
At the time he admitted there was some slack, 51,000 people were registered by the Government as unemployed. That is the outlook of the Minister for National Development in the matter.
I come now to the statement made a few days later by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) in. his Budget speech. In that lengthy document, one of the major documents that come to the Parliament in the course of a year, he devoted exactly two and a half lines to this problem of unemployment. This is what he said -
There has been some increase in unemployment, but it appears to arise from adjustments going on within particular industries and localities rather than from any general weakness of labour demand.
That, despite the trend that has been apparent throughout the whole period! That again, despite the fact that when he spoke 51,000 persons were unemployed. The Government seems to feel no sense of urgency in respect of the problems of those affected in this matter.
Now we come right up to date, to the speech prepared for the Governor-General and delivered here on 25th February. As I read the paragraph relating to unemployment the Senate will see how very much it is muted and played down as a matter of little consequence. The statement is -
There has been some increase in unemployment, some part of which was undoubtedly attributable to the less favorable seasonal conditions. It still represents a relatively small proportion of our total work force; nevertheless, it is a development which my Government continues to keep under closest scrutiny.
– Still watching!
– Still watching, and not one word of regret for the 70,000 unemployed in our community at the time!
The Government has taken two steps. At the recent meeting of the Premiers with the Federal Government, a special grant of £5,000,000 was given to the States. The major portion went to the two States most seriously affected by drought - Queensland and New South Wales.
– And most seriously affected by unemployment.
– And by unemployment, too! That is completely true. The major portion of the grant went to those two States, and I should say, from what the Prime Minister said, that the £5,000,000 was designed to keep and will have the effect more than anything else of keeping men now in work still at work until 30th June. Without the £5,000,000, additional persons would have been emptied out of their employment between now and 30th June. But that money will make no contribution to relieving those who, at the present moment, are in the market looking for work; the grant will prevent their numbers being increased, but no more.
The authorization to statutory bodies and municipal councils to raise another £3,000,000 is a more direct approach to the problem. That should give local relief. But who, looking at the trend, and looking at the figures, would argue that that will end the matter? I do not think that even the Government would claim it will. It is merely a palliative for the present difficulty. It is welcome. There is no question whatever about that. What has been done is welcome, and it helps, but it is no long-term measure for the abolition of unemployment and to get men back to work in far greater numbers than are engaged to-day.
Speaking of those two steps, I should say that they represent something too little done too late. They should have been attempted long ago when these trends were apparent down those two years.
Another helpful measure is done at the instance of the Commonwealth Bank. It has recently released some £15,000,000 out of special accounts to the private trading banks. The Government has expressed the hope that the private trading banks will devote a substantial part of that money to housing. I join with it in that hope.
– Why does not the Government do something about the matter itself?
– The whole crux of my complaint against the Government is its inaction during the two years while unemployment has grown to the proportions that cause us real concern to-day.
A fortnight ago, in answer to a question by me in the Senate, the Minister for National Development said that the Government had taken steps through taxation to relieve unemployment. I think he indicated that the Government had granted concessions amounting to £56,000,000 in the last Budget, but he knows, I think, that the Treasurer had said that it was £56,000,000 for a full year. He also knows that the full relief will not amount to £56,000,000 until 1958-59, which is a long way ahead yet. The actual amount was only £28,000,000 for the current financial year. It is interesting to note that out of the £22,000,000 relief given in taxation only £7,500,000 was accorded individuals in this community.
One feature of the unemployment that is with us to-day and for which we must have regard is the fact that the numbers affected do not begin and end with the figures the Minister has given us. They do not begin and end with the 74,000 at the end of January because many of those people have two or three dependants, and I feel that I do not exaggerate in the slightest when I say that probably some 250,000 of our people are affected by the fact that the bread-winners, upon whom they are dependent, are out of work. I invite the Senate to consider the effect on the economy if the normal spending power of 250,000 of our population of 10,000.000 is withdrawn or curtailed. That, and not merely the 74,000 unemployed, must have a very bad, damping-down influence on the economy. We must consider the influence, not only of the 74,000 unemployed but of their dependants as well. The withdrawal of the demand that might be expected from them will permeate almost every industrial activity in Australia. Therefore, there will be a leavening effect throughout the whole economy. That aspect must be kept in mind constantly in assessing the situation.
It depresses me to hear Ministers dealing with unemployment and talking about it in terms of percentages. I am not denying the accuracy of their figures when they say that slightly less than 1 per cent, of the workers are receiving the unemployment benefit and that slightly less than 2 per cent, are unemployed. That approach really alarms me. Tt is too objective and detached from what is a completely personal problem to every individual who is involved in the horror of unemployment. I point out that the right to employment is not a mass right. It is the right of the individual. The Government recently invoked the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I thought it did so with very little effect, but let me refer to Article 23 of the declaration on the subject of employment. It states -
Every one has this right to work and to protection against unemployment.
Every one! When the declaration refers to every one, it means every one who is able and willing to work. In other words, it is the right of the individual. Having regard to that, this Government subscribes to that particular declaration. lt was a party to it and privy to upholding it. Supporters of the Government have advocated its principles in this chamber only recently. I put it to the Senate that on 31st January last, the Government had broken that particular covenant which binds it, not once but 74,000 times. It was guilty of not one breach of the covenant but of 74,000 breaches in respect of each of the individuals in Australia who are affected by unemployment.
The Government cannot deny its broad responsibility in this matter. Although I readily admit that the Commonwealth Government lacks some economic powers, nevertheless it has very great powers to condition the economic climate of Australia, lt must accept responsibility for the general economic climate in which the present unemployment has been allowed to develop. 1 can say to Senator Hannaford that I know that unemployment has been aggravated by seasonal conditions.
– And by prices.
– The honorable senator should not anticipate me. I was about to mention prices and the difficulties facing us on overseas markets. I concede that all these matters were not within the immediate control of this Government, but I put the major emphasis upon other factors that have led to unemployment. They are: High taxation, particularly that flowing from the little Budget of March, 1956, and the increase in interest rates throughout Australia.
– And sales tax.
– I include sales tax under the general heading of taxation. I put emphasis also on the imbalance in the immigration intake having regard to the state of our economy. I point also to credit restrictions that have been applied for too long and too rigidly and, above all, I emphasize the outstanding failure of this Government - its failure to control inflation.
The United States of America presents a very good example to the Government. By courtesy of the United States Information Service, I have in my hand a copy of the speech on unemployment that was made by President Eisenhower. He does not hesitate to go to the nation and talk about the unemployment problem, nor does he hesitate to take steps, which are set out in his speech, to meet the situation. Attached to the copy of his speech is a fact paper setting out what the President’s administration is doing. Nine different types of action are outlined, starting with meeting the housing problem, building roads and, above all, the release of credit. I do not propose to quote the whole nine of the steps that President Eisenhower has taken. I commend the document and his programme to the Government.
– It has not been very successful so far.
– At least it is action. When the honorable senator states that it has not been effective yet, I remind him that the statement was made only last month on 12th February.
– The United States administration must have delayed action for a long lime.
– That may be, and I am very sorry, in that case, that this Government has caught the disease. I want to tell the Senate what the United States Government has done in the matter of credit policy. The statement attached to the President’s announcement states -
Steps have been taken by the federal reserve minorities to increase the availability of credit and :o reduce ils cost to borrowers. The reserve position of member banks of the Federal Reserve System has been appreciably improved. The discount rate was reduced from 34 per cent, to 3 per cent, in November, 1957, and has recently been reduced further by ten of the Federal Reserve Banks to 2J per cent. The increased availability and lower cost of credit which these steps have brought about will help promote a higher level of homebuilding and of construction generally. They will also make it easier and less expensive for State and local governments to move forward with the construction of needed public facilities.
I commend that type of action and those thoughts to the Government in connexion with the present occurrence of unemployment in Australia.
– The level of unemployment is much worse in the United States of America than it is in Australia.
– I agree and I regret it.
– We are not so badly off after all.
– Unquestionably, we could be in a worse position. I do not want to exaggerate the situation at all but I remind the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) that this is a young country which is developing rapidly. The growth of our population has imposed strains on the provision of all the important things - water, power and transport. Those public utilities must be available if industry is to develop and the country is to progress. We are lagging behind in the provision of those things. We have an unexampled opportunity, and although our percentage of unemployment is relatively low compared with the position in the United States of America, the situation is tragic. At this stage of our growth and development, it is tragic that there should be 74,000 persons unemployed. The Government must accept responsibility very largely for that situation. 1 wish to refer now to what has been said regarding the utterances of the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr. Monk. I have picked up, as my only source of information on this matter, various newspapers. They present completely contradictory pictures to the people of Australia. One of them carries a large heading stating: -
Unemployment not serious problem. - A.C.T.U. chief.
The next one, the Melbourne “ Age “, printed this large heading -
Government should counter unemployment increase. - Mr. Monk.
I read the report that appeared under that heading and, following an approach by Mr. Monk to-day, I believe that it is nearer to what he said in the television interview. The report states -
The Federal Government should step in and stop the drift towards unemployment in recent months, the President of the A.C.T.U. (Mr. Monk) said last night.
It should release further money from the Commonwealth Bank’s special account, and make some of this readily available to local councils, he said.
In this way, the lag that private enterprise had failed to stop could be taken up without much planning. Australian trade unions were concerned but not extremely worried -
Honorable senators should notice the words concerned and worried “but not extremely worried “. at the unemployment drift, Mr. Monk said.
That statement revealed no panic. It was a completely coherent statement and it is utterly wrong to represent to the people that the president of the A.C.T.U. has indicated that the trade union movement is not concerned with unemployment.
– I did not say that. I said there was concern but no panic.
– I do not recall exactly what the honorable senator said, but others have spoken as well. But a different situation is revealed if one picks up a newspaper that really goes to the heart of the problem. I shall leave the question of” unemployment at that, and I shall define the political outlook of the Labour party in relation to unemployment as this: We have an interest in unemployment, and a political interest in it. Our political interest is to goad this Government intoensuring that it is cured. The political benefit we will get is that we will be able to claim at the next election that we forced the Government into curing it. That is our political interest in the matter. It is untrue, and unworthy of those who say so, that we have a vested interest in unemployment and want to see it grow. I do not believe that those who say so really believe it.
Let me now refer to the matter of housing which, of course, is a grave social problem. The subject has been before this chamber before. I recall that I devoted the whole of my speech during the AddressinReply debate last year to that subject. But I. refresh my mind by looking at it and I shall repeat one paragraph in order to show that the position, has not got any better. It is to-day as it was when I then spoke. During my speech on 21st March last year I said -
Figures which came to my notice to-day reveal, unfortunately, thai- there has been a falling off of the number of dwellings commenced, and the number completed during the past year. The tendency is downward and not upward. Those figures to which I have referred were released within the last day or so by the Commonwealth Statistician. I point out that not only is there no national plan, but also there is no arrangement for priority at any level despite a promise made by this Government and. upon which it was elected.
I can repeat all of that again now. It is a tragic situation that after the war has been ended for thirteen years, there is, as the Prime Minister admitted the other night, a lag of approximately 100,000 houses. I am taking his figure; am not controverting it. There should be a national plan. What has been the position? The Parliament is indebted to the Minister for National Development for the survey of the housing situation that was conducted by his officers about this time last year. What a shocking commentary it is that we were debating the housing debacle and difficulties of this country without any comprehensive survey having been made of the position until March, 1957! It was a comprehensive survey. I gave an ungrudging tribute when it came into this chamber last year. The survey indicated that, twelve years after the war, there was a lag of 115,000 houses, a lag which had not been overtaken since the war ended.
– How do you reconcile that with State assessments of the position?
– At this moment, I have not all of those figures before me, but I invite Senator Wright to refer to the survey that was made and to draw a distinction between housing demands and housing needs. The survey indicated very plainly that the housing demand had fallen off in certain States by reason of high costs and by reason of another factor, namely, that people were putting up with substandard homes, sheds, garages and the rest. That was most apparent in Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland where the demand appears to be less.
– The high cost of government houses in Tasmania is causing a fall in demand.
– There is a lag in demand, but the need is still there. 1 do not accept the proposition that because demand has fallen off the need is not there. I indicate, too, that in the survey that was made, no account was taken of the need for slum clearance; that is to say, homes that should be demolished should be added to the lag of 100,000. The survey took no account of slum clearance, so apart from the people who were asking for homes, representing a lag of 100,000, we have the problem of slum clearance as well.
The thing that alarms the Opposition is the mental outlook of the Government. This time last year, after that survey was prepared and after the Government had stated that there was no deficiency in materials for building, that there had been none since June, 1956, and after it said that there was a sufficiency of labour for the housing programme, the Prime Minister announced that the limiting factor was not money but labour and materials - a completely unrealistic statement. He spoke it alone because both the employers and the employees in the industrial field, as well as his Liberal party colleagues, repudiated the statements as completely untrue. One newspaper went to the extent of stating that his statement was dishonest - rare terms for that newspaper to use. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “, in a leading article, said that about the Prime Minister on 9th March, 1957.
When the Prime Minister made that statement, I was able immediately to give the names of the firms involved so that they could be checked and the name of the union official who supplied the information, and f repeat it. At the time the Prime Minister said that it was not money but labour and materials that were the trouble, the departmental record showed that there was a surplus of materials and a surplus of labour, that there were unemployed, and that at the time two builders’ labourers were needed for a job, 197 applied, two bricklayers were called for, and 40 applied, and two carpenters were needed and 78 applied. Simultaneously, the Senate may recall, I pointed out that in 1955-56 despite the housing demand and lag in this country, 60 master builders had gone bankrupt. Last year, there were more than that number. Now, it is alarming to find the Prime Minister, in relation to a major social problem, not appreciating the factor that is holding up housing development. The Minister for National Development has never said that, and he is the Minister who is immediately concerned with the housing problem.
I want to point also to the further alarming fact that Mr. Menzies has been wrong again, and very recently. He said on 24th February that the banks had been instructed in December last by the central bank to lend more money for housing. The fact is that in December the directive from the central bank to the private banks did not even mention housing. The Prime Minister tells us that the banks were instructed in December to make more money available for housing. The truth is that the matter was never even mentioned in the directive.
– It was mentioned in the previous directive.
– In May?
– He just got the two directives mixed up.
– In other words, the Minister for National Development admits that the Prime Minister was wrong in a matter as fundamental as that. Is it any wonder that the financial editor of one of the Sydney newspapers wrote an article headed, “ Nobody Knows - Nobody Takes Responsibility “. I shall read a couple of extracts from the article which are very much to the point.
– Was it a friendly newspaper?
– Yes, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. The first extract reads -
Just a piece of bad briefing by his adviser, no doubt, but the Prime Minister was completely wrong when he said on Tuesday that “ the Central Bank indicated last December to the trading banks that they could release more money for home building.”
Home finance was not mentioned in the Central Bank’s December statement.
Then comes this commentary -
Thus, when the Prime Minister’s advisors wrongly tell him that the Central Bank has given the trading banks a directive to lend more for housing, one is left with two distressing inferences. One is of carelessness among the very people who are in the enviable position of having all the data and on whom we are forced to rely for a scientific explanation of the drift.
The other is a fatal tendency to indulge in selfjustification rather than take corrective action; to build up a myth that everything the central authorities can do has, in fact, been done. lt is alarming to find that the Prime Minister has been so far astray in these two instances, which have occurred within nine months. I come now to this year’s record. The Minister for National Development, who is concerned with the Commonwealth side of housing, indicated in February, when he released the survey to which I have paid tribute, that the results of that survey suggested that if 77,000 houses a year could be completed annually the back of the problem would be broken in four or five years. That is the target which he set himself. Now let us look at the Government’s actual performance. I shall refer, first, to the figures for houses, as distinct from flats.
– The honorable senator has referred to a purely factual statement which I made. I did not set any target.
– If that is so, why did the honorable senator refer to the back of the problem being broken in four or five years?
– It was merely a statement of fact.
– That statement was interpreted by myself and, I venture to say, by every one else in Australia as giving the figure at which the Government was aiming. If it was not, will the honorable senator say how he proposed to get rid of the backlog in four or five years?
– I did not make any proposal at all.
– That is a most remarkable interpretation of what the honorable senator said. Let us look now at the actual trend. As I remarked at this time last year, the trend is downward. The number of houses built in the last three years was 72,000, 65,000 and 67,000 respectively. The figure for 1957 was 16,000 less than the figure attained by the Government as long ago as 1951 - despite all its experience of building, all its opportunities, and all its soaring revenues in the interim. Last year the Treasurer announced in his Budget speech that the Government expected an additional £107,500,000 in revenue this year - without increasing taxation rates at all! Despite these soaring revenues the Government has this inglorious record. It cannot maintain the results that it obtained in 1951. The figures which I have given refer, of course, to the number of houses commenced. Let us look now at the number completed in the last three years. The figures are 78,000, 70,000 and 67,000. The figure for 1957 was 12,500 lower than that for 1952. It is shocking to contemplate that we have, at one and the same time, rising unemployment and a falling level of home building.
– How many were built in 1949?
– 1 have not that figure with me.
– Will the honorable senator guess what it was?
– I am not prepared to guess.
– Does he not remember how many Labour built when it was in office?
– It is a complete waste of dme to go as far back as that, but I remind honorable senators that it was a period of post-war reconstruction, and that in 1 945 we initiated the Commonwealth and
State Housing Agreement. Naturally, some time passed before momentum could be gathered and the present Government derived the benefits of our four years of activity in the housing field. It was given such a great start that in 1951 it was able to commence 83,000 houses. The figures have fallen away ever since. If Senator Wright is interested in 1949 or some other far distant year I am afraid that he must seek the figures for himself. The Government’s record is made to seem a little more favorable by the fact that some 3,000 flats were commenced and built last year. But even when that is taken into consideration the total number of houses and flats commenced during the year is seen to be 15,000 below the figure for 1951. The number of houses and flats completed was 11,500 below that for 1952. That is a sorry record indeed, and one for which the present Government must accept the major blame. On present trends it looks as if 1958 will be an even worse year.
The real trouble in the housing field is the absence of cheap money. I urge the Government to face the problem by making the necesssary funds available to the States. 1 urge it to use its great powers over bank credit to ensure that building societies obtain more finance, and that the banks do not cut down the amount of money that they lend for housing. In the two years to June, 1957, they reduced their advances in this field by £18,000,000.
– Did not the honorable senator just say that increased taxes were the cause of unemployment? Where would we get the money?
– That is, of course, part of the problem. The Government could make economies in very many fields. If it had not wasted hundreds of millions upon defence in the past five years many more houses would have been built.
I hoped that time would permit me to offer a few comments on the defence position, but I have become so enthusiastic about two of the five topics which I have in mind that I am afraid I shall not be able to do so.
– You could not have done any worse on defence than you have done so far.
– I do not think that the Government was very happy about what I had to say on defence late last year.
I had hoped to find time to-night to summarize my views upon it for the edification of the Senate. I shall conclude my reference to housing by drawing attention to the Government’s promise to the people back in 1949. The people saw a big photograph of the Prime Minister, with the following caption: -
We give this firm promise to young couples. The Liberal party, when returned to office, will regard as its permanent and most vital responsibility the speeding-up of the housing programme. We will not allow any public works, other than those of the most extreme urgency, to be given priority over home-building.
I invite the Minister for National Development, or some other responsible Minister, to tell the House of one works project that was deferred in favour of housing. A year or two ago the Government said that it would cut the works programme by £10,000,000. Within a month it announced that it had effected a reduction of £4,000,000, but by the end of the year it was seen to have reduced the figure by only £2,000,000. That was the only effort the Government ever made in that direction. I would like some Government supporter to tell me why that promise, along with all the others, was not honoured-
– Was not the honorable senator urging us a short while ago to follow President Eisenhower’s example and start more public works in order to ease unemployment?
– That is so. I refer to works which would put public money to far better use than the use to which this Government is putting it now. I agree entirely with Senator O’Byrne’s assertion that the Australian Labour party cannot be accused of lack of interest in immigration, or of not favouring it. After all, back in the war years we began immigration to this country for economic, defence and developmental reasons. We have also had regard for the humanitarian aspect and the need to settle displaced persons from Europe. Tn the same way. we supported this Government’s recent action in bringing refugees from Hungary. However, as Senator O’Byrne has pointed out, we insisted that this should not offer any threat to employment in this country. Work and homes had to be found for immigrants as well as for Australians. We suggest that, in view of the trends that I have outlined in both housing and immigration, the time has come when we must face realities. Let us acknowledge that immigrants make a substantial contribution to the economy in all directions. They do, but to-day many of them, as well as Australians, are unemployed. Many more homes need to be built- More power and transport facilities, more water supplies and that type of thing are needed, but the Labour party during the past year has been advocating that, until housing and employment are brought into balance, there should be a substantial reduction in the immigrant intake. That is our advocacy. Nobody can accuse us of not being interested in immigration. We do not suggest that relatives of people already here should not be brought in. We do not suggest a complete cutting off of the flow of immigration, but we do suggest a realistic approach to the matter in the light of the economic position of Australia.
I invite the Senate to consider the cost of bringing out an immigrant. New Zealand had the enterprise to work out the cost. The cost of bringing out an immigrant and setting him up in a new country is approximately £2,500. But what is this Government doing for our best immigrants - Australian-born children?
– It puts their fathers out of work.
– Let me refer to the children themselves. The maternity allowance was fixed at £15 in 1943, fifteen years ago. Despite a fall in the value of money and an increase in the cost of services and everything else, not a penny has been added to that figure. It was £15 back in 1943, and it is £15 in 1958. What a contribution that is to the mother who produces the best immigrant!
That is not the whole story. In 1948, child endowment for second and subsequent children was fixed at 10s. It has never been varied since for those children. It is true that in 1950 the Government granted 5s. for the first child.
– Which you hotly opposed.
– Which we asked you to increase. The honorable senator cannot deny that. I come back to the point I was making, namely, that the 10s. child endowment fixed in. 1948 has never been varied since then- I have no hesitation in saying that the purchasing power of money in 1948 was double what it is now. Probably the money that is paid for child endowment to-day has only one-third of the purchasing power that a similar sum had in 1948. The Government has moved in other fields of social services. Here is an opportunity for it to do something for the mothers and children, particularly the children, who are the most important social units that we have.
– Why did you oppose child endowment for a first child in 1950?
– The honorable senator is completely mistaken.
– You can read your own speech in “ Hansard “.
– If the honorable senator will look up “ Hansard “, he will find that the Labour party moved an amendment in an attempt to increase the amount to 10s.
I wish to end by saying that throughout all these matters I have dealt with to-night runs the thread of inaction, ineptitude and lack of leadership. I hope that what I and my colleagues have said during the course of this debate about housing and unemployment will spur the Government to do something quickly to cure the ills that exist. They will receive a real cheer from us if they can bring about a better result by the end of the year.
– First of all, I should like to congratulate my colleagues, Senators Kendall and Pearson for the elegant and eloquent manner in which they proposed and seconded the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I should like also to associate myself with the expressions of loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen expressed therein, and to say how delighted we all were by the recent visit to this country of the Queen Mother.
Honorable senators have had read to them a prospectus that might well have been written by Mr. Hanrahan - who is renowned for his cry, “ We will all be ruined “ - telling them why they should not invest in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) touched on three major topics - housing, unemployment and immigration. I listened to him very carefully. I do not want to be unfair, but I challenge any one in this chamber to tell of one constructive suggestion made by the honorable senator as to how current conditions could be improved.
– Get rid of the Government. He said that clearly.
– I said a constructive suggestion. If we were to get rid of this Government, we would go back into the morass that we were in in 1949. Then Mr. Hanrahan would be right. We would all be ruined if that occurred.
There is a very unfortunate trend in employment now, but not so long ago there were in this country jobs looking for men, not men looking for jobs. In a quickly expanding country such as Australia, employment conditions are likely to change from time to time. To-day we are suffering from a very unfortunate drop in the price of wool and other farm products, and a shocking and almost calamitous drop in the price of metals. Those things must have an effect on our economy. In spite of suggestions to the contrary, we are still maintaining a sensible, considered and measured flow of immigrants to this country, because we believe that we must populate the country if we are to hold it. I will deal with immigration more fully later. I did not understand clearly whether the Leader of the Opposition was on the side of Dr. Cairns or Dr. Evatt.
Turning to unemployment, it is not a question of how many people are unemployed. Unemployment is a tragedy to any one who is unemployed and wants work. I do not think anybody is happy to know that any person who wants work is denied the opportunity of getting it. We on this side of the Senate are pledged to full employment. We have honoured that pledge faithfully.
– Will you explain to the 74,000 who are out of work how you have kept that pledge?
SenatorO’SU1LLIVAN.- If the honorable senator were to take more intelligent interest in these things, he would know that at any given time there must always be: some people out of work, out. of the typeof work they want, or out of the type of work which is suitable for them at a place suitable to them. I should like to assure the Senate, if any assurance is necessary, that this Government is pledged to a policy of full employment. It has faithfully pursued that policy. To cry calamity and ruin, or to sell’ fear to people is likely to cause unemployment. Nothing could be more calculated to cause unemployment than lack of confidence, but there is no reason why there should be any lack of confidence in this country to-day. Australia has the soundest economy in the world. We are expanding at a faster rate than is any other country, and in a period of such rapid expansion there must at times be need for adjustment, which takes time.
What has been said by members of the Labour party is propaganda of a most damaging kind. The Leader of the Opposition in another place said recently that there was a great number of idle people, that there was a great pool of unemployed, in the country. That is very dangerous talk, and it is calculated to frighten people who might be inclined to invest money in Australia. For the development of Australia, and in order to entice investment, we must have confidence in ourselves.
When all is said and done, these things are somewhat relative. In 1945, Mr. Haylen, a very distinguished member of the Labour party -
SenatorCourtice. - In 1945?
– Figures were still figures, arithmetic was still arithmetic, and proportions were still proportions even in those days. The Labour party did a lot of things in those days and, although it tried to alter a lot of other things, it did not alter arithmetic. Mr. Haylen said - i realize there cannot be total employment, but if we can get down to 5 per cent. of unemployment, for all practical purposes that can be regarded as total, employment.
With a population that has risen since then by 1,600,000, we are in the position of having slightly more than 1 per cent. of a total work force of over 4,000,000 people unemployed.
– That is 1 per cent. too much.
– We do not say that that is perfection; but it shows that we are doing infinitely better than was done by Labour. As I said before, we hope that we will be able to maintain full employment so that every man, woman and youth in this country who wants to work will be able not only to get work but also to get the kind of work in which he or she will be able to give expression to his or her natural inclinations, talents and ambition.
– You hope? You told the electors it was certain.
– One per cent, is not bad. I shall shortly cite other figures. Although I disagree fundamentally with the socialist politics of the late Mr. Chifley, no one can deny his broad and warm humanity; yet even he said that the time could never be when everybody could have the type of work that he wanted where he wanted it within the shadow of his own home. Perhaps we would not have quite the number of unemployed that we have at the present time if persons who are out of work would take work that is available but which, for reasons of their own, they regard as being unsuitable.
– What about the teenage unemployed?
– That is a tragedy.
– It is a big one, too.
– If the Government is to be judged as to whether it is good, bad or indifferent, it must be judged by some standard. The best standard by which I should prefer to be judged, is that of the government which preceded this Government In comparison with the record of the socialist government, our record is :a dazzling one.
– What rot!
– What rot we were in until we got the country out of it! In 1949, Labour was in office. I know they are sad days to think about. It seems a long time since we had queues, ration books and coupons.
– That is not true, either.
– It is very true, because we abolished those things. Dr. Evatt has said, in the broad, that the number of unemployed in 1949 was tiny when compared with the number of unemployed in 1952-53. Certainly there had been a coal strike, but these figures do not include the strikers. The relevant figures show that on 30th June, 1949, there were 1 18,000 persons in receipt of the unemployment benefit, but the highest number in receipt of the benefit in 1952-53 was 42,000. How one can say that 118,000 is tiny in comparison with 42,000 completely baffles me. To the best of my information, the number of persons who are in receipt of the unemployment benefit to-day is 27,000.
Let us cast our minds back a little further. In 1946, 15,000 persons were in receipt of the benefit; in February, 1947, there were 37,000; and in March, 1947, there were 1 1,000. But the point I want to drive home is that to-day 99 out of every 100 people who are available for work are in profitable employment. Although that is not a bad record, it is not one that we are prepared to stand on. We will do better.
Let me now mention some of the steps that this Government has taken to relieve unemployment. Although only four months of the financial year remain, this Government has authorised the raising of £3,000,000 for local authority works. The pool of unemployment is spread particularly over New South Wales and Queensland, and the raising of £3,000,000 for local government works over a period of four months - not over a full year - will be a substantial contribution towards meeting the situation. In addition, the Government out of its own revenue - it is certainly the taxpayers’ money - and not by way of loan, has made a grant of £5,000,000 to the States. That money is to tide them over only until the end of this financial year. The Australian Loan Council will meet again in June, and the financial commitments for 1958-59 will then be considered. Furthermore, the Commonwealth Bank has released £15.000,000 from the special reserve accounts.
Senator McKenna did not advance one suggestion that I could analyse and say whether it was good or bad. All he did was to say that everything was bad; he did not offer one word of constructive suggestion. Whether he thinks that the Commonwealth Bank should release hundreds of millions of pounds, I do not know, but the central bank recently released £15,000,000, which will provide a substantial stimulus. As the central bank is more or less the wholesaler of finance, that credit will percolate through the trading banks into the community and to those who require money.
– In what way will it percolate?
– By way of loans. Banks do not give money away. Does not the honorable senator know that? I can tell him that I know it very well.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to a statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) which, I think, was made in March last. Incidentally, I think that Senator McKenna quoted the statement out of its context. I remember very well what the Prime Minister said. It was to the effect that money is not the only solution. In other words, he meant that if money were poured out and there were not sufficient materials and man-power to use the money available, the effect would be to add to costs. It is rather like a man with a tank attached to his house who runs out of rain water. The rain does not fall and he pumps a little water from the dam and fills the tank to the normal level to which the rain water would have taken it. He does not put the water from the dam in the tank while there is enough rain water in it; otherwise it would be liable to overflow and no good would be done to anybody.
Senator McKenna stated that the supporters of the Government had suggested that the members of the Opposition should be silent on the subject of unemployment. We have not suggested that. We welcome criticism, provided that it is informed and intelligent; but we like criticism to be reasonable. When speaking in the House of Representatives last night, the Prime Minister made a point which I wish to emphasize. He said that governments are not the largest employers, by any means, in this country. He went on to say that governments can create, as this Government has created, an atmosphere of confidence in which capital will be invested here and people enticed here, and that all the Opposition is doing is destroying that confidence.
– What does the Minister want us to say?
– I want you to speak the truth and to say that this is a developing country, a country with a great future, a country with absolute security, a country where there is reward for endeavour, incentive for ambition, and confidence; a country with the lowest level of unemployment in the world. The Prime Minister said last night -
But private industry - primary, secondary and tertiary - is by far the greatest employer of labour in Australia. Therefore, to do anything to depress or discourage it is completely antiAustralian; and that, indeed, is the right description of what has been falling from honorable gentleman opposite.
The Prime Minister, of course, was referring to the members of the Opposition in another place, but I can say the same thing here.
There is a correction that I wish to make. Senator McKenna referred to remarks that I was alleged to have attributed to Mr. Albert Monk. What I said, according to “ Hansard “, was that more balance .had been exhibited by Mr. Albert Monk, who was very concerned about the matter. I did not say that he was not concerned. I said that he was very concerned about the matter, and then I proceeded to state what Mr. Monk had said.
– What he is alleged to have said.
– What he is alleged to have said. I want to make the point that nobody, I imagine, in view of the background of Mr. Monk and the way in which he has fought for the trade union movement and its members, would be more concerned for the welfare of trade unionists in this country that he would be.
I do not think that we got much help from Senator McKenna on the subject of housing, but nevertheless I shall tell the Senate what this Government has done in that field. This year, the Commonwealth Government, out of its own funds, has found £77,000,000 for housing alone, quite apart from the assistance it has given to local authorities and other bodies in respect of servicing, such as for roads and reticulation of gas, water, electricity and so forth - all the elements which go to make a home complete. I do not know whether the figures I have are the same as those cited by Senator McKenna, but I think they are roughly the same. I am informed that there are approximately 99,000 houses in arrears; that is, accumulated arrears, apart from current requirements.
– That was the number twelve months ago.
– That is quite right. The number has been reduced by more than 20,000 since then. The current requirement is approximately 53,000 houses a year. This year, there will be about 71,500 completed houses, which means that the current requirement of 53,000 will be met in full, and that 18,500 will be taken off the arrears. Therefore, in this one year the Government not only will have met the full annual requirement, but also will have reduced the arrears by one-fifth. In addition, as I mentioned earlier, much has been done towards the provision of roads, water and electricity supplies, and so on. We must bear in mind, of course, that housing is not primarily a Commonwealth responsibility. If it is anybody’s responsibility, governmentally, it is that of the States.
Let us compare the records of this Government and the previous Labour government in relation to housing. The Labour government, in the five post-war years from 1945 to 1949, when it had complete control and direction of man-power and materials - absolute power, with no interference by anybody- built 200,000 homes. The Menzies Government, in its first five years, built 389,000 homes, despite all the difficulties of reconstruction and resettlement that it faced during the post-war period. In the last two and a half years, under the Menzies Government, 184,000 houses have been built, so that, roughly speaking, this Government, in two and a half years has done what the Labour government took five years to do. Yet the Opposition criticizes the Government!
– The honorable senator is speaking of war years, which is completely dishonest.
– I referred to the post-war years, when the Labour government had an army of unemployed, when it had the Allied Works Council, and when it had complete direction and control of man-power and materials.
On the subject of immigration, Senator McKenna did not give me much room for comment, because I do not quite know which side he is on. We have the big doctor in the other House, Dr. Evatt, saying that we are bringing in too many migrants, and on the other hand, we have the little doctor, Dr. Cairns, saying that we are not bringing in enough migrants. We have one saying that we are discriminating against the southern Europeans, and the other saying that we are discriminating against the British. 1 do not know what Labour’s policy is on this matter. Do honorable senators opposite know? Senator McKenna certainly did not explain Labour’s policy to-night, and having read what the big doctor and the little doctor have said in another place, I have received no guidance or assistance at all. 1 repeat, in all sincerity, that the economy of this country has never been sounder; its affairs have never been in better, more responsible, more humane or more responsive hands. If the Opposition really believes that we are in difficulties and that our economy is facing a crisis, for goodness’ sake let us close the ranks. Let us gather round and close the ranks as we have on other occasions when we have been facing a crisis . or crises. Let us show the world that we are one people, and that we have one tradition, one future, and one country to fight for, to live for and to work for. Let us show the world that this is the greatest country in the world.
– Reference is made in the Governor-General’s Speech to the visit of the Queen Mother to Canberra, and I should like to join with other honorable senators who have expressed admiration of the wonderful job the Queen Mother did in bringing charm to this city and according us the opportunity of expressing our loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen of England. In my view, it was lather a shame that, because of constitutional difficulties, the Queen Mother was unable to open this session of the Parliament. I think that, as she was here in 1927 for the opening of the Parliament, it would have been admirable if it .had been possible for her to open this session of the Parliament in 1958. But that was not to be.
I congratulate Senator Kendall, the mover, and Senator Pearson, the seconder of the motion for the .adoption of the Address-in-Reply upon their speeches. Several important matters have been mentioned during the debate but before dealing with the more serious aspects, I should like to refer to delegations from this Parliament to other countries. It has been considered valuable for delegations from this Parliament to go overseas to learn about the customs, politics and economic conditions in other countries, but I bring to the notice of the Senate the fact that the members of my party have no chance of ever becoming members of such delegations. That is wrong in principle. The members of my party should be given the opportunity of going overseas to represent Australia on some of those delegations.
– Why do you say members of your party have no chance now?
– I hope they will have an opportunity of being members of certain delegations but it seems to me that for such parliamentary delegations as those visiting Japan and other places only members of the Labour Opposition and members of the Government are selected.
– It is unfair to suggest that is the settled policy of the parliamentary members.
– It appears to me to be the policy. I have been a member of the Senate for eight or nine years and as yet I have not had the pleasure of a trip overseas. Others who have been members of the Parliament for only a few months have had that pleasure. I hope the Government will give serious consideration to this question.
I should like to refer now to scientific research in the Antarctic during the International Geophysical Year, and to make a plea for the scientists and meteorologists who work in that area for periods ranging up to twelve months. They work under very strenuous conditions in the Antarctic, but are required to pay income tax on their remuneration. To me, that seems harsh. It would cost the Government very little to grant income tax rebates to those meteorologists and scientists who work under very arduous conditions in the Antarctic for longer than one year. I submit that suggestion because I feel that such a gesture would be greatly appreciated by the people who work down there. I believe that income tax is not levied on residents of New Guinea because of the conditions under which the people live there.
– That privilege operates in favour of residents only.
– The scientists and meteorologists to whom I refer are resident in the Antarctic for twelve months and they should receive the same consideration as the residents of New Guinea.
Reference has been made to what is known as a summit conference, a meeting of the heads of nations to discuss what should be done about disarmament and world peace. A summit conference is nothing more than mere eye-wash if the heads of nations discuss only a few preliminary matters. A solid foundation should be prepared beforehand to ensure that certain definite matters will be discussed and decisions made. Meetings of heads1 of governments in Switzerland or anywhere else have a great propaganda value for Soviet Russia, but are of no benefit to the Russian people, who are under the red thumb and are going to do as they are told, anyhow. Because of our free way of life, these meetings also give the Communist elements in our midst something to use in furtherance of communism in our country. The people should not be led to build hopes on the outcome of summit conferences when we know that, because of the mentality and psychological outlook of the Russians such conferences are of no value whatever. If the Russians genuinely wanted summit conferences, they could have done something about the matter during the last ten years when they have attended disarmament conferences. We know that they are not genuine, and that all this talk about a summit conference is mere propaganda and of no real value whatever.
At the present time there is a Seato Conference in Manila. Seato, of course, is Australia’s real safeguard at the moment, and I emphasize that those who seek to belittle Seato are virtually traitors to our Australian way of life. Our own defence is not very strong, nor are our defence preparations. Our population is very small. We must have these safeguards so that we can call upon friends to help us in our hour of need. Seato provides one of those safeguards and I am sure that our bond with the Seato powers will be strengthened at the conference which is now in progress in Manila through the activities of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey).
The Anzus pact is another of our safeguards, but I attach particular importance to Seato because the countries which are signatories to it are in the area where we may expect trouble in the future. In that connexion, I should like to ask the Government why it still refuses to send a representative to the island of Formosa which is also known as Taiwan. Formosa is a very important link in the countries safeguarding Australia yet, for some reason which the Government will not explain, we have no representative at Taipeh, the capital of Formosa. The Government of Formosa has a representative in Australia, but we have not returned the compliment. It is time this Government recognized fully the value of Formosa among the safeguards of Australia. It should send a representative from Australia to Formosa which could be an excellent listening post. Great Britain, which has recognized red China, much te its sorrow, has a representative in Taipeh;
I turn now to the bread and butter issues that were mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. We have heard a lot to-night about unemployment. I agree that any unemployment is bad, and the person who is unemployed suffers greatly, but we should not cause a panic in Australia by screaming from the housetops that we have unemployment and that it will get worse. If we do that, naturally it will get worse. The people with private means employ the workers. If there is the slightest sign of a depression, they tighten their purse-strings immediately. That has a snowball effect and severe unemployment follows. We do not want to see a panic over unemployment. There is unemployment in the community and it is bad for those who are out of work, but it has not reached the proportions of a national tragedy yet. Therefore, the Government is acting correctly in taking firm action to relieve unemployment. I know that a certain amount of unemployment could be avoided if those who are unemployed would move to places where there is work for them.
– That is not always possible.
– That is true, but many young persons could go out, in a pioneering sense, to jobs. They will stick around the towns and cities and take jobs which could be filled by those who are married and have families. There are unemployed in Tasmania, but at Wayatinah, where hydroelectric works are under way, there are signs painted on oil drums at the side of the road announcing that men are wanted.
This Government should do something about unemployment by releasing credit. There should not be any worry about the release of credit for national projects. Private enterprise is the great employer of the people, but when it begins to fail the Government should step in and take up the slack. We have so much to do in Australia in the way of national development - and I commend the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) for the work he is doing in that direction - that there is no need for unemployment in Australia for the next 200 years. We have too much to do and only a small workforce.
Any credit that is released for national works will repay the expenditure a hundredfold in the not far distant future. That has been proved to me forcibly in Tasmania in connexion with the hydro-electric scheme. Tasmania is spending between £9,000,000 and £10,000,000 a year on hydro-electric works. If credit had been released for those works during the depression of the 1930’s and the men had been given jobs at the proper rates of pay, all unemployment in Tasmania in the depression years could have been avoided. The works would have been finished and they would have paid off a hundred-fold to-day. We would have seen greater development in Tasmania.
This Government should do something along those lines. I know that it has released certain sums of money and told other agencies to borrow money. That is all very well, but the Government could go into the employment business itself just as it has done with the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. There is dire need throughout Australia for the conservation of water. The railway gauges should be standardized. Credit should be released for those great projects. The slack of employment should be taken up by the Commonwealth Government as an employing agency. It can be done.
A lot has been said in this chamber about the housing position. We know that, at the present time, both workers and building materials are available; the only thing that is lacking is money. I believe that the Government has done a good job in relation to housing, as such, but where has the money provided for housing purposes actually gone? I believe that the fault lies for the most part, within the
States; not only is there wasteful expenditure by the various housing authorities, but also the administrative costs of the housing commissions and other housing authorities are too high.
– That is not so in South Australia.
– Nor in Western Australia.
– South Australia is doing quite a good job in the housing field. What is the answer to the housing problem? I believe that the solution is to be found in the establishment of more co-operative housing societies. If sufficient money were provided to the co-operative housing societies, 1 believe that the housing lag would be overtaken within three years. It has been proved that, for a given sum of money, housing co-operatives can build twice as many houses as housing commissions can build. Of course, I do not contend that all of the money that is provided by the Commonwealth to the States for housing should be applied to co-operative housing, because a proportion of the people cannot become members of co-operative housing societies. I refer to people who have nothing - pensioners and the like - for whom the housing commissions can provide.
As I have said, I believe that co-operative housing is the answer to the present problem, and I must say that the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) is one of the keenest supporters of housing societies in this Parliament. I hope that the other members of the Cabinet will come to realize, as he has done, that the solution to the housing shortage lies in the encouragement of the co-operative housing societies system.
As honorable senators know, 20 per cent, of the money provided by the Commonwealth to the States is allocated to the co-operative housing societies; next year, the proportion will be increased to 30 per cent. I believe that if 60 per cent, of this money were made available to the co-operative housing societies, the housing shortage would be overcome within three years.
I take this opportunity to ask the Minister for National Development whether special assistance can be provided to Tasmania in this connexion. The Australian
Democratic Labour party has been active in the co-operative housing field. Instead of merely talking about the housing shortage, we have recently established two co-operative housing societies which, quite naturally, have been called democratic housing societies. The first society is a relatively small organization. Nevertheless, its capital of £50,000 will enable 24 subscribers to obtain housing loans and, in fact, 24 applications have been approved and the houses are now being constructed.
– Are they being built by the society itself?
– No, they are being constructed by the persons to whom loans have been approved. As Senator Vincent will appreciate, a co-operative building society is really a money-lending society, or agent, for the Commonwealth Government. The subscribers whose applications for loans are approved can either build the houses themselves, under supervision, or arrange for contractors to build them. The maximum amount of a co-operative housing society loan is £3,000, but persons who have accumulated a certain amount of money may borrow a lesser amount and so keep down their weekly or monthly repayments.
– What rate of interest is payable?
– The Commonwealth Government lends the money at 4b per cent. The money is made available through the Agricultural Bank of Tasmania, which charges another one-quarter of one per cent. I do not know why that charge is imposed; no charge is added in Victoria. Subsequently, the money is provided to the cooperatives at an interest rate of 4t per cent.
– Is not a management fee charged?
– Yes, a management fee of 4d. per share is imposed. I happen to be the chairman of the first democratic cooperative housing society to be established in Tasmania, and I ask the Minister to request the Tasmanian Government to introduce a housing co-operative bill along the lines of the Victorian measure. At present, there is no co-operative housing legislation to guide us. Our societies have had to work under the provisions of the Industries Co-operative Act 1928, which is more flexible in its application than are the housing acts.
Finally, Mr. President, I should like to point out that the cost of administering a co-operative housing society is relatively small. The subscribers to the society may borrow up to 90 per cent, of the value of the security, the maximum amount of loan being £3,000. Once a subscriber obtains a block of land in a town or village, he may borrow the maximum amount of loan available, in order to build a house, and his repayments may be spread over a period of 31 years. Co-operative housing societies have been very successful in Victoria and New South Wales, and they are now being established in the other States. I am interested in their establishment in Tasmania. I believe that a big impetus to the co-operative housing society system in Tasmania will be provided by other organizations.
A great deal has been said about immigration, which is of the greatest importance to the future of Australia. Any person who advocates its curtailment is looking only to the selfish interests of the moment and ignoring the needs of the future. How many more times shall we be obliged to say, “ We must populate or perish “? Immigration is the only means of building up our population to the degree necessary for our safety. If events to our near north are any indication not many years hence we shall need an adequate population if we are to feel at all secure. I cannot understand how any member of the Opposition can speak seriously of reducing immigration.
I was very pleased to hear the GovernorGeneral say -
The programme of planned migration will be continued. Parliament will be asked to consider a complete revision and consolidation of the Immigration and Emigration Acts, and an amendment to the Nationality and Citizenship Act, which will seek to banish certain discriminations between Australian-born and naturalized citizens in the matter of loss of citizenship.
The promise to end discrimination is especially pleasing. Honorable senators will recall the controversy that has arisen in recent years because a person is naturalized on the condition that if he commits a serious crime within the next five years he may be deported. Every Australian citizen should be subject to the same laws. I am very pleased that the Government has decided to end the present unsatisfactory state of affairs. I feel sure that it will carry out its promise.
We need all the suitable immigrants that we can obtain. The “ planned migration “ to which the Governor-General has referred can become reality if we bring in the right categories of immigrant. We do not want immigrants hanging around the cities. We want them in industry - especially rural industry. Not long ago I visited the Manjinup area of south-western Australia. A great many immigrants are already there but such is the richness of that great timberbearing country that another 1,000,000 could be settled there. In the face of all this, some Opposition members have advocated reduced immigration. I do not see how we can contemplate anything of the kind.
Mr. Monk’s name has been bandied about quite a good deal to-night. I believe that his ideas on immigration are sound, and should be adopted by the Evatt Labour party. He suggests that the flow of immigrants should not be turned on and off like a tap. That is very true. We cannot be sure of attracting the proper proportion of English immigrants if we change our policy from year to year. Mr. Monk concludes with these words -
The years ahead will require skilful direction of the immigration programme to avoid the creation of problems and to ensure the integration of migrants and native-born into a progressive nation with purpose and energy. They will present a challenge, but we are well equipped to meet it. If we hesitate now we may lose the impetus that would otherwise carry us forward, but if we do not want to go backward, forward we must go with common purpose and mutual confidence.
It is important that we should continue to give full effect to our immigration programme. I am convinced that the present quota can be assimilated, and will be very disappointed if the Government listens to the scaremongers and reduces the intake.
I would like also to mention His Excellency’s reference to banking. He said that the Government would re-introduce the Reserve Bank Bill, the Commonwealth Bank Bill, the Banking Bill and the Banking (Transitional Provisions) Bill, and concluded with these words -
In the earnest hope that Divine Providence may guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth, I now leave you to the discharge of your high and important duties.
The present banking system is quite sufficient for the needs of the Australian people. A great deal has been said about the proposed development bank, but rural credits and the like can easily be offered under present banking arrangements. There is no need to introduce special legislation for that purpose- Unless some excellent arguments can be advanced in favour of the Government’s banking proposals my party will adopt an attitude similar to that which it took up on the last occasion. I am very pleased to have had an opportunity to speak on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, and 1 hope that the Government will take cognizance of what I have said and give it legislative effect, where necessary, as soon as possible.
– First, I should like to congratulate very sincerely the mover and seconder of the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech. I should also like to be associated with the expressions of loyalty to Her Gracious Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. I was delighted with the great success of Her Majesty’s visit to Australia, and especially Western Australia. Her Majesty’s visit to our State was an outstanding success indeed. The people of Western Australia took her to their hearts, and the general success of the visit gave further proof of the powerful bonds that bind us, as a people, to that amazing institution, the Crown.
Having said that, I wish to make some reference, in the brief time that is available, to the speech in this debate of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). He devoted himself almost exclusively to immigration, unemployment and housing. In his remarks on immigration, he followed the line set by his leader in another place and strongly advocated a whittling down of the immigration programme. Dr. Evatt has already, on several occasions, stated that that is the policy of the Labour party, despite the contradictory statement made by Mr. Monk, and referred to by Senator Cole a few moments ago; despite the utterances of Mr. Calwell, who recently, in a pamphlet entitled “ Labour Speaks “, actually advocated a greater intake of British immigrants; and despite a recent broadcast in Queensland by a prominent member of the Labour party, Dr. Cairns, who advocated a substantial increase in the immigration programme in relation to southern Europeans. Despite those somewhat contradictory statements of policy by the respective leaders of the party, the
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate left us in no doubt as to what were his views. 1 say here and now that such an advocacy was both paltry and parochial.
I ask the Leader of the Opposition whether he really believes that the immigration intake can be cut down from month to month, or from period to period, in accordance with the relatively slight increase of unemployment that we have? Does he really think that is a practical proposition? Did his Government follow that policy when in 1949 100,000 people were unemployed in Australia? That Government continued to bring to this country upwards of 100,000 immigrants a year. The Leader of the Opposition should be fair and logical. His party was unable to reduce the intake of immigrants then, even if it had wished to do so, but he now makes the preposterous suggestion that from time to time, having regard to the relatively small degree of unemployment, we should whittle down the immigration programme. I suggest he knows perfectly well that that is not a practical proposition.
As Mr. Monk has said, you cannot turn immigration off and on like a tap. We could not very well go to Bill Brown in Leeds in England and say, “ I am terribly sorry, Mr. Brown, but at the moment we have a few unemployed. You will have to cancel your passage this month, but come back in three months’ time.” That could not be done, and I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition knows it could not be done. Even if it could be done, he knows that it would be bad policy. Does not the Opposition realize that it is only because of a magnificent scheme of immigration that this country has been able to maintain the high level of employment that it now has? Does not the Leader of the Opposition realize only too well that the wealth of Australia to a very large extent flows from the immigration programme? Does not he realize that the defence and security of this country rest substantially on the maintenance of a high rate of immigration? I think he knows aH these things as well as we do. He put forward this parochial scheme for the curtailment of immigration only to catch a few votes. He may catch a few, but I suggest that he will lose a lot more than he gains. In addition, he will lose a lot of his prestige as a reputable Leader of the Opposition by advocating such a paltry policy.
The Leader of the Opposition also made reference to the housing problem. He gave us masses of figures referring to the housing shortage in Australia. I do not deny that those figures are correct, and I do not deny for a moment that there is a housing problem, but the Leader of the Opposition failed to give the Senate the true story. He forgot to mention the all-important fact that it is the perogative of the sovereign States to allocate as much of their money as they like for their respective housing programmes. If a housing shortage exists in any State, the responsibility for it rests fairly and squarely on the State government. In Western Australia we have virtually no housing shortage. State governments in Western Australia, both Liberal and Labour, have appropriated adequate money for the erection of houses. If the New South Wales Government chooses to be irresponsible and does not allocate sufficient money for housing, the fault is its own. The responsibility lies fairly and squarely upon its shoulders. No real housing shortage exists in some of the States. In South Australia there is no real housing problem, mainly due to the leadership of that very able statesman, Sir Thomas Playford.
As I have said, in Western Australia there is no grievous housing problem. The slight housing shortage in Western Australia is due to the very short-sighted policy of Mr. Hawke in relation to the production of bricks. We have in Western Australia a State brickworks which produced large quantities of bricks. That brickworks got into serious trouble economically this year and consequently we have now a shortage of bricks in Western Australia. Were it not for that shortage of bricks, we would have no housing shortage at all. The reason for the satisfactory position in Western Australia is that the State Government has had enough political sense to provide adequate money for housing.
The Leader of the Opposition has not been quite fair in his criticism of this Government’s policy in relation to housing. It is the job of this Government to supply the money, and I suggest that it has supplied more money than the States can spend. It is up to the States to do the rest. If the States cannot do it, it will not help the Leader of the Opposition to come here and criticize this Government for its housing policy.
Having said that, I shall turn to the principal topic of my speech and make some reference to mining, particularly the mining of base metals. We have in recent weeks seen the announcement by the managements of the Broken Hill mines that they have decided to curtail their working programmes so that each of the mines will work for nine instead of ten days a fortnight. That announcement came as a surprise to some people, but in mining circles it was expected that something would have to be done in view of the somewhat depressed world prices for silver, lead and zinc. Simultaneously with that announcement, we had the statement by the management of Mount Isa mines that it had decided to suspend operations of its magnificent development programme. Again, of course, the reason was the depressed state of the industry due to a decline in world prices. Thoroughout the country there is grave concern in- base metal mines due to that circumstance. I was recently in the town of Ravensthorpe in Western Australia, where there is a very promising copper mine.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- I shall not detain the Senate for long, but I feel that some comment is justified upon an answer that I received this week to a question in regard to the extremely vexed matter of indemnity payments. It is well known that these payments have been made for some time by certain shipbroking interests and five maritime unions in return for permission to man ships sold from Australia with Asiatic crews at less than Australian award rates and conditions.
The custom is for the shipbrokers concerned to pay the money to Mr. Tudehope, a Communist who is secretary of the council of the five maritime unions. Mr. Tudehope is a man of considerable versatility. He is associated with the International Organization of Seafaring Trade Unions, which at the present time is conducting a world-wide campaign to induce shipowners not to place their ships on the registries of countries like Panania, Cuba and Costa Rica, so that they can man them with crews at less than appropriate wages and conditions. While Mr. Tudehope is taking a prominent part in attacking the action of those shipowners, he is receiving with both hands money that is handed to him to sell out the wages and conditions of Australian seamen.
An inquiry into this matter was asked for by the party of which I am a member, and it was indicated that the Government would await the result of an inquiry that was being held by the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I feel that the reply suggests that there is a feeling in some government circles that this is a matter which affects the trade unions only. But I make the plea that there are three groups which must be regarded in this matter - not merely the unions, but also the shipbrokers who are equally responsible and blameworthy and, thirdly, the community in general. An inquiry was conducted by the A.C.T.U. and we were informed through the press that that body had condemned this practice, as I would expect it to do. We were also informed in the press that there could be some arrangement for what were called stand-by crews. That loophole, if it was a loophole, apparently was taken advantage of, because, although indemnity payments were supposed to have been stopped when the A.C.T.U. first made a decision on the matter, they were in fact continued and, as has been stated in one section of the press, the price was raised from £125 a man to £200.
I should now like to discuss the answer to my question, which refers to one case where money was paid after the original decision of the A.C.T.U. to ban these payments. The reply of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), dealing with a sum of money that was found on the person of Mr. Elliott, secretary of the Seamen’s Union, when he was arrested on a charge of drunkeness reads - [ am advised that the money in Mr. Elliott’s possession related to the sale of “ Bonalbo “ and that the arrangements involving the payment in that case were negotiated before the A.C.T.U. report was published, even though the actual payments was paid subsequently.
So the answer to my question says that the “ Bonalbo “ money was paid over after the
A.C.T.U. made its decision. In the answer, presumably reliance is placed upon evidence that was given by Mr. Elliott at the A.C.T.U. inquiry. If, as is stated in the reply to my question, the money was paid over subsequent to the A.C.T.U. decision, it is very strange that in the seamen’s journal, as quoted in the Communist paper “ Tribune “ of 19th February, 1958, it was stated categorically that the payment was made before the A.C.T.U. decision. The answer to my question said that the money was paid after; Mr. Elliott, in his newspaper, said that it was paid before.
The peculiar aspect of the matter is that the “ Bonalbo “ money was paid to Elliott at the end of November, 1957, and was paid in the usual way in £10 notes. Although he got the money in November, 1957, he was arrested in February, 1958, and had the money in £10 notes inside his shirt! I am a member of two unions and I know a little bit about trade unionism and a lot of trade union officials, but I do not know of any who adopt that method of banking union money.
I am informed in the answer to the question that the Commonwealth law authorities have advised that no breach of the Commonwealth law has been disclosed in the payment revealed. I am amazed. When all is said and done, the shipbrokers do not pay this money to the maritime unions out of natural love and affection. They pay it to those unions because they are told that if they do not do so, the ships of the company selling the particular ship will be held up in Australian ports. That is straight-out blackmail. In my opinion, when there is blackmail, the shipowners and also the union officials who receive the money are culpable. What can one think of union officials of whom it can be said with truth that as part of one transaction five of them accepted a £100 lottery ticket in a Tasmanian consultation as a personal gift?
I note that the Government says that it has not yet dismissed the possibility of a public inquiry. I once again request a public inquiry on the ground that the amazing differences between statements that are made on different occasions by persons who are connected with this sorry business justify the matter being brought into the clear light of day. The names of the union officials concerned have been publicly ex- posed. Let us have the names of the employers and the shipowners publicly exposed, too.
If the Commonwealth law does not include any provision under which these persons can be prosecuted for stright-out blackmail, obviously there is a serious gap in the Commonwealth law covering these questions. Therefore, I trust that the Government will further consider the matter and inquire into it, and, that in the interests of the people of Australia generally and of the trade union movement in particular, it will legislate to provide that it shall be a criminal offence for any employer to offer to a trade union official or for a trade union official to accept from an employer money on the consideration that they shall then conspire to defeat an award.
– The Government does not approve, by any means, of the circumstances and the facts that have been disclosed, but there is no evidence admissible at law - so far anyhow - available to the Crown Law Office of the circumstances in which the shipping companies were induced, by the union or unions concerned, to make these payments. Some people might draw the inference that the shipping companies were induced to make the payments under threat, perhaps of Industrial turmoil, disputes or unrest in the particular industries concerned, but the fact that I want to point out is that there is no evidence, admissible at law, available to the Crown Law authorities, on the closest examination of all the documents and evidence at their disposal, which would sustain any charge at all under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the Crimes Act, the Secret Commissions Act, or the Australian Industries Preservation Act.
If the circumstances are such as suggested by the honorable senator, it is quite competent, of course, for any of the shipping companies to come along and lay a complaint, and to say, “ We have been held to ransom. We have been blackmailed. We have paid this money under duress. We were threatened with industrial turmoil, unrest and stoppages in the industry unless we paid this money over.” That would be an entirely different matter. That would be evidence admissible in court. Upon that, no doubt - I am not expressing a firm opinion - action might and, perhaps, probably would be taken; but as at the moment, there is no evidence upon which any case could be founded.
If the honorable senator can supply evidence showing that any of those Commonwealth laws to which I have referred has been violated, I have no doubt at all that appropriate action will be taken; but unless there is some evidence upon which a case can be based, it is completely futile to attempt to institute proceedings.
– I would not have risen but for the nature of the reply of the Minister. I only want to say that it is a new facet of this matter to hear that the inaction to date has depended on the lack of evidence. If that is coupled with a failure to institute inquiry for such evidence, of course the two things do not run together. I had understood that, despite the full disclosure of facts which, I thought, responsible people were satisfied had been made at the Australian Council of Trade Unions inquiry, the Commonwealth law was itself insufficient to make impact upon those facts; but if the matter rests on a deficiency of facts, it seems to me that there is substantial basis for the suggestion that further inquiries are warranted.
I make this statement, Sir, because the matter is of the utmost importance, I take it from the perserverance of Senator McManus, to the Australian Democratic Labour party. I gathered from the attitude of the Australian Labour party, when this matter was previously debated, that these practices were roundly condemned by that party also. I shall be very surprised indeed if there is not also unanimous condemnation of the facts, as they have been presented basically, by the Libera! party and the Australian Country party. Therefore, it appears that the suggestion that there has been a failure to bring the incidents within the operation of the law is not justified. It seems to me that a move to prosecute an inquiry and to see that the facts are revealed to the fullest extent, so that this matter might be properly determined and terminated in the interests of the healthy condition of Australian industry, would be supported by all four parties in the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 March 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1958/19580312_senate_22_s12/>.