23rd Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has any proposal been made to the Government in recent months regarding the subsidizing of a regular shipping service by the “ Westralia “ between Sydney and Hobart? Is the Minister in a position to make a general statement on this subject?
– Some little time ago an approach was made to my colleague, the Minister for Defence, by the Hobart Marine Board and other interested bodies in Hobart requesting him to submit ,to rae, and to the Government, certain proposals along the lines now referred’ to toy the Leader of the Opposition, -who, I think, will possibly recall that the .terms of that submission were very similar to those which he, in concert with a .deputation of Tasmanian senators, submitted to me a couple of years ago. The Government considered the request which was forwarded through the Minister for Defence, and decided that for a number of reasons the decision made a couple of years ago would not toe altered. The subsidy involved would amount to a minimum - I stress, a minimum - of £13.3,;0©0 a year. The ship in question is 27 years old and has become uneconomic, not only by virtue of the fact that all such cargo-passenger vessels have become uneconomic because of waterside working conditions, but also because of age. The vessel was due for survey within a few months of the submission. That survey would have cost a great amount of money. The Government also had in mind that the new ferry, “ Princess of Tasmania “, would be commissioned towards the end of this year. That vessel will greatly alleviate the existing passenger traffic problem. Further representations have been made to the Minister for Defence, subsequent to the particular submission to which T ,have referred, (relating .not only to passenger, but also to .cargo vessels. I am pleased to -be able to inform the Leader .of .the Opposition that I am looking at this latest request to see whether any improvement can be effected by way of providing a regular Hobart-Sydney cargo scheduled service.
– I preface a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate by drawing attention to a statement made by the Treasurer, the Right Honorable Harold Holt, as chairman of the Australian Loan .Council, in which he announced that an additional £4,000.000 was to be made available for the local government authorities of the States during this financial year, and that of this amount New South Wales was to receive an additional £2,000,000. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether the New South Wales Government has made any proposals to the Loan Council to use a substantial portion of this increased loan allocation on local authority works which have a high man-power employment content? In view of the displacement of man-power by mechanization in the coal-mining industry, will the Minister ask the New South Wales Government to have special regard to the coal-mining areas in the allocation of these additional funds?
– As Senator Anderson has intimated in his question, the answer lies more properly with my colleague, the Treasurer, but this is a matter in which T have taken more than a passing interest because of my responsibilities in coal-mining matters. As I understand the position, the local authorities throughout Australia were given the right to go on the market to borrow an additional £4,000,000. and the other States of the Commonwealth agreed that New South Wales should get a larger proportion of that amount than it might be strictly entitled to receive. That was agreed because of this unemployment problem on the coal-fields in New .South Wales.
The position in New South Wales, roughly, is that there are about 6,000 fewer .employees in the coal-mining industry than there were seven or eight years &<ro. and that reduction in numbers has occurred despite the fact that because of the mechanization that has .occurred in the mines, more coal is being produced now than was then -produced. I think that at the : present time there are some 600 miners seeking employment in the Cessnock-M aitland area. The purpose at the back of this additional authority was, in part at ]eas to give the local authorities in the coalfields area an opportunity to borrow mo money so that they could go on with lo government works and thus provide emploment in that part of New South W around Newcastle.
It is not possible for the Commonwealth Government to give any directions about the matter to the New South Wales Government. In these matters, the States have their sovereign rights once the Loan Council fixes the overall level of borrowing. What is done with the £2,000,000 which the local authorities in New South Wales can borrow is a matter entirely for the New South Wales Government. That Government can elect to give such municipalities as Maitland, Cessnock and Newcastle an opportunity to borrow more and thus provide more employment on the coal-fields; or it may maintain the limits available in other parts of the State. It is all within the juridiction of the New South Wales Government.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise seen a report in a Sydney newspaper concerning an application by the San Francisco Zoo for permission to ship koalas overseas? As the koala, or native bear, needs a special type oi gum tip for food, and always dies when removed from its natural habitat, will the Minister, if he grants permission, ensure that bears are taken only to countries where they can live? Alternatively, will he prohibit their export altogether?
– The exportation of Australian fauna is prohibited under the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations. It cannot take place without the prior permission of the Minister for Customs and Excise. Usually we seek from the State concerned a certificate to the effect that it raises no objection. In the case of koalas, platypuses, lyre birds and birds of paradise, the approval of the Minister is expressly required. I know of no instance where koala bears have been exported and have lived. In 1952 approval was given for the exportation of four koala bears to the United States, for use in the making r»f a film. If I am correctly informed, they were to have been returned to Australia, but died in a zoo in that country. I can only say that, as yet, we have received no application for permission to export these koala bears. When such an application comes to hand, 1 will examine the position in the light of what I have just said.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to a press statement which appeared last week under the heading, “ £29 Million Mount Isa rail scheme bogged down? “ Can the Minister inform the Senate and the nation whether it is true to say that negotiations between the Federal and State Governments, the World Bank and Mount Isa mines have reached a state of deadlock? What is the present position? Is there any hope that the money will be forthcoming in the near future?
– I am sorry to say that I have not the latest details at my fingertips, but the position is that negotiations are continuing between the State and Federal Governments, and in other directions. From recollection, about the time the statement to which the honorable senator has referred was made the Queensland Government announced that it was actually allocating money for the commencement of work on the railway. I can only give the honorable senator the short answer that negotiations are continuing.
– My question to the Minister for the Navy relates to the forthcoming joint defence exercises in South-East Asia under the direction of Seato. Can the Minister say whether the Royal Australian Navy will supply a component, and what size such a component will be? No less important, will he say whether the component will move to SouthEast Asia via Western Australia, whether it will be calling at Fremantle, and when?
– The Royal Australian Navy will this year, as in previous years, be contributing a contingent to the combined fleet exercises carried out by Seato countries in waters to the north of Australia. This year’s contingent is to be made up of the aircraft carrier “ Melbourne “, two ships from the strategic reserve at Singapore - the “ Q “ class destroyers “ Quiberon “ and “ Queensborough “ - a Daring class destroyer, “ Voyager “, and two Battle class destroyers, “ Tobruk “ and “ Anzac “. That congregation of ships will be calling at Fremantle before sailing for those exercises, and with them will be a contingent of the Royal Navy, at present in these waters, which will rendezvous at Fremantle before leaving. I believe the time will be 17th March, approximately, but I am not sure.
– Can the Minister for Shipping and Transport inform me whether consideration has been given recently to the purchase or construction of a ship for the Commonwealth capable of making voyages to Australian Antarctica? Was this matter fully considered prior to the chartering of a second Scandinavian vessel? Can the Minister indicate the annual cost to Australia of chartering the two Scandinavian vessels at present being used?
– I am aware of Senator Laught’s continuing interest in the possible construction of a ship in Australia for polar research by Australian expeditions. I am not informed as to the present position. I have seen a notice to the effect that a second “ Dan “ ship has been chartered by the Department of External Affairs, and I have again drawn the attention of my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, to the possibility of building a ship in Australia. I am not aware of the cost of the charterings which have been undertaken by the Department of External Affairs, that being a matter for my colleague, but I will inquire and let the honorable senator know.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Does the volume of Commonwealth court business in Queensland warrant the acquisition of a site in Brisbane suitable for the construction of premises in which the various courts could be appropriately accommodated? If so. would the Attorney-General have examined the locality in Brisbane in which the Queensland Government proposes to erect accommodation for its Main Roads Department in order to see whether a satisfactory site could be acquired in or adjacent to it?
– I shall make inquiries of my colleague, the AttorneyGeneral, so that I can answer the questions asked by the honorable senator, both as to whether the business warrants a Commonwealth Court building and, if so, as to where that building should be situated.
– I preface a question to the Minister for the Navy by stating that on Friday last a very successful naval exercise known as “ Operation Shop Window “ was carried out 40 miles from Sydney. This exercise gave senators and members of the other House valuable first-hand information on how important a part the Navy plays in the defence of Australia. How many honorable senators and honorable members were invited? Was an invitation extended to members of the Opposition? If so, how many Opposition members accepted the invitation?
– Twenty-one invitations were issued to members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Those invitations were divided, in the first place, amongst the three parties that constitute the Federal Parliament. No members of the Opposition were present on the exercise, although one honorable senator opposite who discussed the matter with me and who put his name down was unable to go. He expressed regret at his inability to attend and also the hope that he would be able to attend a future exercise. But, whatever the reasons may have been, there were no members of the Opposition on the exercise.
– My question, which is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, is somewhat, similar to that asked by Senator Anderson. I preface it by saying that in the statement made by the Treasurer on the allocation of funds approved by the Australian Loan Council, Western Australia is omitted, as also is Tasmania. I ask: Did Western Australia apply for extra help of this nature?
If she did, what is the reason for the matter being left open for further consideration later in the financial year?
-These matters are under the control of the Loan Council. Before they are finalized, all members of the Loan Council are approached. As the honorable senator knows, the Loan Council consists of representatives of each State government. The Governments of Western Australia and Tasmania were consulted in the same way as were the governments of the other States. They were asked whether they wanted to be in a position to give their local government authorities an opportunity to, borrow additional moneys. The Governments of Western Australia and Tasmania stated, in reply, that they did not want, that opportunity to be given them, that, for their own various State reasons, they thought the arrangements that had already been made by the Loan Council were adequate, and that the local authorities did not need any addition to the limits of money that they could borrow.
– I ask the. Minister representing the Minister for Trade the following questions:- Has he seen reports emanating from the United States of America that it is expected that the Philippines intends to revise its trade agreement with America this year, the purpose being to switch trade to the Pacific area? Does- the Minister deem the present time to be opportune to make a special effort to increase Filipino interest in imports from Australia?- If’ he does, will he indicate whether he favours a special trade mission to the Philippines, of some other approach?
– I did see the newspaper report to which the honorable senator refers. I read it with a little interest at the time, because I am aware that my colleague, the Minister for Trade, is making inquiries aimed at increasing our trade with the Philippines. I do not know whether the Minister for Trade would be willing to sponsor a trade delegation to that country; it would be a matter for him to decide. I remind the honorable senator that recently a trade mission visited the Philippines in the trade ship “Delos-“ during its tour of South-East* Asia. So I should not be surprised if* my colleague, in his good judgment, said that it was only recently that we had personal representations in the Philippines and that the time was not yet ripe for another mission.
– I address to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs a. question concerning the South Australian schooner “ Ian Crouch “, which was lost, with all hands, last September in the South China Sea. In spite of the findings of the recent inquiry in Hong Kong and in consideration of the great distress of the wives and families of the lost crew due to the uncertainty of its fate, will the Minister consider offering a substantial reward in the appropriate areas for information which may help to ease the minds of these unhappy people or lead to some clarification of the mystery?
– 1 can do no more than say to the honorable senator that I shall convey her suggestion to my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, leaving it to him to exercise his judgment on whether or not he adopts the suggestion.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
Has any action been taken to. strengthen the law relating to espionage, particularly in peace-time, as referred to in the Report of the Royal Commission, on Espionage, dated 22nd August, 1955, page 288, paragraph 1073 and subsequent relevant paragraphs?
– The AttorneyGeneral has now supplied the following answer: -
Not as yet; but amendments of the law have been under consideration.
asked the. Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The. Postmaster-General has provided me. with, the following answer: -
Debate resumed from 19th February (vide page 1 1.4), on motion by Senator Branson -
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.
– I take the opportunity afforded me by this debate, Mr. President, to refer to the excellent speeches that were made by Senators Branson and McKellar in moving and seconding the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. It is a long time since we have heard maiden speeches of the calibre of those to. which we. listened on. that occasion. I have no hesitation in saying that both honorable senators will make a worthy addition to. the ranks of Government senators. May I add,, in regard to their contributions, that I hope we shall hear more such speeches for many years to come, and may their stay in this Senate be bothvery long and1 very pleasant.
The speeches by the two. new senators had, I think, one. significant point about them, in: that both dealt with the same subject,, namely, the development of our nation. Senator Branson confined his remarks to important aspects of the development of Western Australia. Senator McKellar went further afield, and dealt with a broader field of development,, but the point I want to make is that, both speeches, referred to development. I suggest that there is some significance in that fact alone. I submit that both honorable senators deemed it to be a subject worthy of inclusion in their maiden speeches and. therefore we in this, Senate must have regard to the fact that the development of our nation is probably of supreme importance to the Parliament. 1 feel that we should not let pass the opportunity to mention that, because I agree entirely with what both senators said, and 1 agree that the subject-matter, they selected was fitting for their maiden speeches. 1 think that this Senate should take cognizance of what both honorable senators said.
I also wish to offer congratulations to some other people. I offer my heartiest congratulations to our two new knights - Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan and Senator Sir Walter Cooper. It is very pleasing to me that Her Majesty has recognized in due course - but not too late - the worthy efforts of both these fine Australians, who have given the best years of their lives to the Parliament of this country and’ to the service of the nation. Both have worked hard and untiringly for the parties they represent and the States that they represent. Both have worked untiringly and given their services unsparingly for the whole of Australia. I think it is proper for us to place on record the fact that the nation is deservedly grateful to them for their great contributions in the Parliament.
Finally, Sir, I wish to congratulate two other of my colleagues - Senator Spooner and Senator Paltridge. Senator Spooner has. been appointed’ Leader of the Government in this chamber, and Senator Paltridge his deputy. I congratulate them on their appointments. I feel quite certain that they will carry on the very fine traditions of our party in this Parliament, and that they will be a great success in their new spheres of responsibility.
Having exhausted-,, as- it were,, the matters upon which I wish to congratulate people, I now turn to the main subject of my speech this afternoon. I wish to make some observations concerning an important matter - the matter of western New Guinea and the joint statement that was made by the Australian Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), and Dr. Subandrio of Indonesia. That subject, Sir, was dealt with rather extensively by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) last week. I. desire, at this stage, to make some observations in criticism- of Senator McKenna’s remarks. During his speech, he endeavoured, to give us the policy of the Australian Labour party in relation, to western New Guinea,, and he quoted the precise terms of Labour’s policy from Dr.
Evatt’s policy speech. The relevant passage, to which I wish to direct my attention, was as follows: -
The actual administration could be committed to one nation and it seems only right that in New Guinea, two-thirds of which is administered by Australia, the administration of the whole island could best be entrusted to Australia in the event of the Netherlands giving up their administration of West New Guinea.
That, 1 think, epitomizes the Labour party policy as stated by Senator McKenna last week, and I agree with his observation that that policy is clear and unequivocal. But, at the very time that Senator McKenna was enunciating that policy, the learned Leader of the Opposition in another place (Dr. Evatt) was putting forward something quite different concerning this precise question. I shall quote Dr. Evatt’s statement as reported in the press -
Or. Evatt replied that the Government should immediately reconsider the joint communique^ He made these points-
The first point is the important one so far as my remarks are concerned1 -
A three-nation regional pact was the only way to protect the interests of all parties, including the New Guinea natives.
However, as I have stated, Senator McKenna in this chamber last week enunciated a policy which virtually claims the whole of New Guinea for Australia and we must therefore, by implication, admit that our policy should be directed to that end - a unilateral controlled direction of the whole territory. Will Senator McKenna inform honorable senators which is the official Australian Labour party policy? The policies enunciated by Dr. Evatt and by the honorable senator are diametrically opposed.
Senator McKenna then stated his own views on foreign policy, which also conflict with the policy enunciated by his learned leader. He said -
I recall the words that I used on a former occasion -
It would pay Australia to stay on the sidelines and eventually to seek the trusteeship of the whole island, both in the interests of th; natives and in the interests of the defence of this country.
– Hear, hear!
– I am not concerned with the merits of the statement but only with the obvious inaccuracies in Labour party policy. Here we have Senator
McKenna advocating a policy of neutrality, a policy which would lead us to “ stay on the sidelines and eventually to seek the trusteeship of the whole island “, which, I suggest, completely contradicts Dr. Evatt, who advocates a three-nation regional pact. Some honorable senator opposite should say which policy is correct. For the benefit of honorable senators I shall repeat the two opposing points of view. On the one hand, Senator McKenna says we should stay on the sidelines and eventually take over the whole of the area for Australia. On the other hand, Dr. Evatt, in a published statement last year, said that we should endeavour to collar the whole of the island for Australia, and last week he advocated a three-nation regional pact, presumably meaning the three nations of Indonesia, the Netherlands and Australia. As I have said, those policies are diametrically opposed and some one in the Labour movement should clarify the position.
– The statements dealt with entirely different matters, one with general questions of security - Dr. Evatt’s proposal - and the other with New Guinea simpliciter.
– The honorable senator does not interject very often.
– I acted on your invitation to put the matter straight.
– The honorable senator can do that at the proper time. Not only does Senator McKenna’s statement contradict Dr. Evatt’s remarks, but also his own policy announcement, if analysed, is completely contradictory in one aspect as related to the other. Because his statement is so important I shall read it again -
It would pay Australia to stay on the sidelines and eventually to seek the trusteeship of the whole island. . . .
How does one stay on the sidelines and at the same time commence action designed ultimately to acquire the whole of the area, some of it from the United Nations an’! some from the Netherlands? That is a complete contradiction in terms. We could not possibly afford, as a matter of practical politics, to stay on the sidelines. We would have to leave the sidelines and get right into the ruck. I shall now illustrate further that Senator McKenna did not mean what he said in suggesting that we stay on the sidelines because in the same speech he stated -
I ask honorable senators to imagine what would happen if Indonesia took over the underdeveloped people of Dutch New Guinea. What would such a change-over mean? It would mean for them a new language, a new people, a new culture, new customs and a new religion. What confusion it would throw them into! There would inevitably be heavy colonization by Indonesia. After all is said and done, the inhabitants are greatly retarded. They do not wish their way of life to be disturbed further.
Without criticizing the merits or demerits of that policy, those remarks indicate a complete negation of a plan to stay on the sidelines. Senator McKenna is getting away from the policy of impartial neutrality and denying the Indonesians their right to a claim of sovereignty. The honorable senator is confusing himself in endeavouring to enunciate Labour policy if, on the one hand, he advocates a policy of blind neutrality and, on the other hand, suggests that Australia should get off the sidelines, get into the ruck and do some kicking and pushing in the ruck to prevent Indonesia succeeding in her claim of sovereignty. I am in a complete dilemma as to Labour’s aims when I am confronted with the policies enunciated by Senator McKenna and Dr. Evatt. No unified statement has been made of the policy of the Australian Labour party; in fact, we have seen a great division of view which, of course, is not unusual these days.
I shall now proceed to the all-important question - relating to sovereignty which was raised by Senator McKenna. He claimed, in effect, that the Netherlands could not make an agreement in respect of the sovereignty of western New Guinea without the consent of the United Nations. I think I am quoting the honorable senator correctly when I say that he summarizes his objection to the joint statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) and Dr. Subandrio by describing it as too legalistic and placing too much emphasis upon the matter of sovereignty. I think that is a fair statement of Senator McKenna’s criticism. In fact, Senator McKenna said -
I say that to look coldly, legalistically at the concept of Dutch sovereignty in West New Guinea is to completely ignore that solemn obligation under the Charter of the United Nations.
He went on to say -
What happens under the rule of law? If a trustee wishes to vacate, and here is what is described as the most solemn trust, the interests of the beneficiaries are paramount.
He proceeded -
Clearly there is an authority, a United Nations authority, which must be consulted in respect of any change in the administration of that particular territory.
I very enthusiastically join issue with the honorable senator on that question. I insist that Senator McKenna is quite wrong when he suggests that the Netherlands must submit any questions relating to sovereignty to the United Nations before agreements cao be made with any country with relation to that sovereignty. I suggest he is confusing the issue there with the question that arises in respect of trust territories under the United Nations. West New Guinea does not happen to be a trust territory under the control of the United Nations. For hundreds of years, it has been the sovereign property of the Netherlands. It has never been granted under a trust by the United Nations.
Senator McKenna’s argument would properly apply to the northern section of Australian New Guinea, which we hold under trust from the United Nations. The sovereignty in respect of that area is not vested in Australia; it is still vested in the United Nations. But that is not the case with West New Guinea. That sovereignty has never been vested in the United Nations, and it has never been vested in any country by the United Nations as a trust territory. Therefore, I suggest that it is quite clear that Senator McKenna misdirected himself, if I may use that expression, in arguing that the consent of the United Nations would be a condition precedent to any change in ownership or any agreement made by the Netherlands with any country in relation to sovereignty. The very most that would happen would be that a nation, if it did acquire the sovereignty of West New Guinea from the Dutch by agreement, would be obliged to observe the fundamental principles relating to native peoples. I refer to the principles observed by all nations in relation to native peoples and which form part of the Charter, and that burden or obligation would be transferred, as it were, from the one nation to the other - from the Dutch nation to the nation acquiring sovereignty in West New Guinea. But that is quite different and distinct from the question whether the United Nations should have to be consulted.
I suggest that it follows that this question of sovereignty on which Senator McKenna suggests Ministers for Foreign Affairs place too much reliance or emphasis is of the very essence of any question that should arise for discussion -between Australia and Indonesia in relation to West New Guinea. After all, Dr. Subandrio came here to discuss sovereignty. Would it not have been proper for us to refuse to discuss sovereignty with him? I think that the question of the sovereignty of West New Guinea goes to the very crux of the position between Australia and Indonesia, but that other questions relating to West New Guinea are not the concern of Australia and Indonesia in talks between the two nations.
That leads me to what I think is a serious flaw in the Australian Labour movement’s criticism of this joint statement. Some Labour people, and in fact some newspapers, have criticized the joint statement, suggesting that in some way it should have included reference to other aspects of Australia’s policy relating to West New Guinea. T .have heard it said that the joint communique should have included reference to certain aspects of the future of West New Guinea, to certain aspects of security and to questions relating to the welfare of the indigenous peoples. AH these matters have been referred to from time to time during recent weeks as being subjects which should have been discussed and which should have been mentioned in the joint communique. In a moment 1 shall deal with the reason why they were not in the joint communique.
Bun it amazes me that the Leader of the Opposition in this place should insist that this statement should have included something about the strategic importance, for example, of West New Guinea. The mere statement or platitude that West New Guinea is of great strategic importance to Australia, Indonesia and 0:her countries, is nol a proper observation to make in a communique of .this nature, nor does it assist either country to any extent at all. Every student of military strategy in any staff college in the world knows perfectly well that West New -Guinea -is strategically important not only to Australia but also to Indonesia, and the placing .of such a statement in a communique does not make it any more important. What could follow from such a statement would be important. If Australia had asked for bases in West New Guinea, we would be getting somewhere. But would a joint communique issued by the representatives of Australia and Indonesia be the place for such a statement? My answer, of course, is “ No “. This was a joint communique issued by the representatives of Australia and Indonesia which recognized the sovereignty of the Netherlands. I thin’k it would be quite impertinent for Australia and Indonesia to discuss matters of security in relation to West New Guinea behind the backs >of the Dutchmen. I submit that the proper place for a discussion -of questions relating to security, defence and :the strategic importance of Dutch New ‘Guinea is not with the Indonesians, whom we do not recognize on these questions but with the Dutch. It follows again that questions relating to native welfare in West New ‘Guinea cannot properly be discussed in talks between Australia and Indonesia relating to sovereignty. The proper place for .those questions to be discussed is surely as between Australia and the Netherlands. The same applies to .all other domestic, economic or social .questions relating to this :area because we have recognized the Dutch sovereignty over West New Guinea, and all other problems must have regard to that factor. Senator McKenna suggested that that question should have been submitted to the United Nations and that we should have supported the submission. My reply is that we should not have done so. It would have been most improper to have supported the Indonesians in any discussion before the ‘United Nations on the sovereignty of western New Guinea. Would Senator McKenna support an application to such a body by, say, Ceylon, for sovereign rights over Tasmania? If he asserts that Australia should have supported an Indonesian claim for sovereignty before the United Nations he cannot avoid the answer to the illustration that I have just given him. He would have to support a claim by some other nation to part of Australia.
L repeat, the United Nations: is not. the place for a. discussion, on sovereignty. If it were so regarded, we should produce nothing but chaos. The: proper place for the resolving of differences over sovereignty is the International: Court of Justice. Both Australia and the Netherlands have stated that they are quite prepared for the matter of sovereignty to be contested- before the International Court, but the Indonesians, of course, are not prepared to take part in any such hearing.
– Might I ask whether, on the honorable senator’s view on sovereignty, it would be competent and proper for the Dutch to hand over Dutch New Guinea to the Russians?
– It would be just as proper and legal for the Dutch to hand over their sovereign powers to the Russians or to any other country, as it would be for us to hand over north-western Australia to the Russians - and equally likely. If the honorable senator will not accept that, he will have to tell me where sovereignty does lie in this matter, and what is the nature of the sovereignty that the Dutch have. Undoubtedly, they have total sovereign rights over West New Guinea. Those rights are no more or less than the rights that we hold over Tasmania. When the honorable senator asks me whether the Dutch could hand over their sovereign power, to the Russians I must answer that,, legally, they certainly could, that we could equally hand over Tasmania to some other country,, and that it would be equally unlikely..
What it all boils down to is this: What is to be the next move in regard to Dutch New Guinea? So far I have not uttered one word of criticism regarding some of the statements of policy that have been made by Senator McKenna. I have merely observed that they differ from those of some of his colleagues. However,. I am quite prepared to agree that certain very important questions will, either now, in the short term, or in the long term, arise with respect to this- strategic part of the world.
The most important matter is the future welfare of the- indigenous people of West New Guinea. I suggest that it cannot be discussed with the Indonesians if we respect
Dutch, sovereignty;, if: we respet the nationthat, is actually in possession; of the country in question.. I suggest that the only people with< whom we. can discuss this question are: the Dutch. We should1 be having discussions with- them now as to the. future welfare of the indigenous people. I do not think anyone will contradict me when l1 say that, ideally, the living1 standards of the’ whole population of New Guinea should be raised to the- point where the’ people, including- the white- settlers, enjoycompletely responsible Government and> political’ autonomy. That may take many, many years. No one would’ suggest that’ it would take less than many generations. At the same time, honorable senators will agree that during the interregnum, before nationhood is achieved, there will’ be upon both Australia and the Dutch an obligation to maintain the utmost goodwill with the indigenous peoples. Moreover, we must seek the closest possible ties with, them when they do attain nationhood.
Finally, I agree with Senator McKenna that in the long term it would’ be ideal to have one nation in New Guinea-. I repeat, however; that this cannot be done by conducting; negotiations with the Indonesians. It would be most improper- to discuss the question with them at all. It would be equally proper to begin discussing it with the Dutch. The timing of such discussions’ would doubtless be a matter for some disagreement, but eventually this country must face up to the need for very close co-ordination with the Netherlands- in relation to the economic and cultural’ future of New Guinea.
Meanwhile, the strategic aspects should be discussed.. Again, I suggest that these, cannot, and should not, be discussed with, the Indonesians.. Discussion can take place only with’ the Dutch, and it is time that it took place. It- might, of course, be. the. policy of the Government to hold. such, discussion in. due course. After all,, we have, had a most satisfactory preliminary, discussion with the Indonesians on. this allimportant question of sovereignty. It is probably a corollary of that first series, of. talks to expect that a second will be held with the Dutch. It would then be most proper and relevant to discuss the strategic implications of West New Guinea. When these discussions take place - and’ I hope they take place soon - serious consideration should be given to the establishment of bases by both Australia and the United States of America. I agree with Senator McKenna that West New Guinea is of the greatest strategic importance to Australia. We have lost bases in the Indian Ocean. We no longer have Trincomalee. I do not think that any one knows much about the long-term future of Singapore. We have one base in Northern Australia, at Darwin, only. We own Cocos Island and I suggest that immediate consideration should be given to the establishment of not merely a base,, but a fortified post there. When we consider how we shall draw a chain of bases from Cocos Island through to the Philippines we find Dutch New Guinea very much in the way. As a matter of urgent defence policy we should begin discussions with the Dutch with a view to the establishment, in collaboration with, the Americans of fortified posts in that area.
– What of Manus Island?
– That must also form part of any defence system between Australia and Asia. Despite the inacitvity of the former Australian Labour party government the fortification of that island must, I suggest, be taken up again. In endeavouring to clarify my thoughts on this subject, I have endeavoured to show, first, that we still await a uniform enunciation of policy by the Australian Labour party. We have heard several contradictory statements of policy in the last week. Secondly, the Government has been attacked for not including in the communique a statement of policy relating to Dutch New Guinea. I repeat, it would have been most improper to have included such subjects in a communique signed jointly with a nation whom we did not recognize as having’ sovereignty over the country concerned. Thirdly, the communique, as it is, is certainly a milestone in the diplomatic relations between this country and Indonesia. We have achieved something that has been very rarely achieved by any Australian Government. We have obtained a guarantee that in the activities of Indonesia in regard to its claim to the sovereignty of Dutch New Guinea, no force will be used. I suggest that that is a great success for this Government in relation to this dispute over sovereignty.
Finally, I submit that all these matters that have been suggested as being proper for inclusion in this joint communique, matters relating to the security and political future of New Guinea, its amalgamation with Australia, and the co-ordination of native policies, whether economic, social or cultural, are all matters most improper for inclusion. Those are questions which, I have no doubt, will very properly be the subject of discussion with the Netherlands Government in due course. I believe we have won the first round in the diplomatic negotiations with the Indonesians, and I look forward to the second round with a great deal of enthusiasm and optimism. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply.
.- I have said on other occasions and I say again now that I rise with great diffidence, not because of my innate modesty, but because I fully realize that what 1 say, and what is said by others, will not take us very far. It will have very little effect on the policy of the Government and on relations between Australia, Indonesia and Holland. But it is my job to speak now and I want to make my points as clearly as I possibly can so that the words taken down can be used by me, by the Labour movement, or by the little paper we publish for the purpose of promulgating our propaganda. Senator Benn said to me just now, “ As a matter of fact, you might as well climb Mount Kosciusko and speak to the rocks, for all the avail it will be “. We are not on the air; we are speaking to just a few of our fellow senators - good fellows all - and “ Hansard “ is doing its duty by taking down our words.
I certainly join with every other honorable senator who has spoken in congratulating the mover and seconder of this motion. To speak for the first time in this chamber is somewhat nerve-wracking, and our two friends did very well indeed, but I would have been more enthusiastic in my congratulations had I been congratulating two Labour men who would have given us a majority in this chamber. However, we are in the minority. The Government has the numbers. Senator Spooner has been elected Leader of the Government in the Senate, and1 we know his ruthlessness from the way in which he has acted in the past. He has smiled when he has said. “ We have got the numbers, and numbers count”. They will count during the next three years in securing the pass-age of the legislation which the Government desires to pass. Of course, the Government says that it has the people behind it and, therefore, is right in bringing forward again contentious legislation that was not passed during the last Parliament, when we had the numbers. According to the Speech of the GovernorGeneral, the Government intends to introduce again its banking legislation, which will pass through this chamber without any amendment whatever. We on this side, of course, will speak against it, but what we say will not have the slightest effect on Senator Spooner or the Government.
I would say that as far as Queensland is concerned, the Government has not got the backing of the people there. I have not studied the numbers in other States, because I could not get them, but in Queensland there was a majority of over 30,000 against the Government, if the Queensland Labour party and Australian Labour party votes were added together. I am not counting the votes given to Communists.
On an occasion such as this we always express our loyalty. An expression of loyalty is included in the Address-in-Reply before the Senate. We on this side of the chamber have no need to say much about it, because every one knows that the Labour movement throughout Australia is loyal to our Queen and the Royal Family. There is no question about that, and there is no need to stress the obvious. Personally, I think - I have said it before - that the Royal Family does a good job. Some people speak about the psychology of emotionalism, about the emotionalism that is developed as a result of a royal visit, but such emotionalism plays a good part, I suppose, in binding and unifying our Commonwealth. Even though it be only emotion, it plays a splendid part in maintaining the unity which is so essential in opposing those who would destroy the free world and establish some form of international communism.
There are also others playing their part in this matter of emotionalism. Although we might not agree with their actions or their speeches, I think that, on the whole, they are doing good because they are preaching the cause of righteousness. I mention Moral Rearmament, and I have a reason for mentioning it. I feel that those people are doing good work in affecting the mental outlook of people who otherwise would come to the conference table, when they meet to settle differences, with a spirit of antagonism. This movement throughout the world in making a splendid effort to reduce that antagonism and to bring about a sensible approach to the questions that concern the world and the problems that are undoubtedly undermining the stability of the world.
We have a gentleman here now who is speaking to thousands of people. His mission is one that the psychologists tell us is a matter of emotionalism - arousing the emotions of the people - but he is speaking in the cause of righteousness. Whatever our views may be, we must agree that even if he is not doing any good, at least he is not doing any harm. But I should say that he will do a certain amount of good.
All these factors that may fall into the category of emotionalism have an influence on the minds of men and women, in the long run, for the good of the community. I feel that perhaps a greater service would be rendered if we could reach the minds of Khrushchev and many of the Russian people, Mao Tse-tung and many of the Chinese people, and many of the other dictators who are aiming at controlling this world in the interests of dictatorship.
Unfortunately, these emotional movements, if you so like to describe them, do not go as far as they might. I suppose the greater part of the problem confronting the world is coming from men who, with the backing of a few hundred thousand people, are able to dominate and control the minds of millions. The control of the mass mind will be one of the greatest problems of the future. Those who have studied psychology and who have read books on the subject know the great danger there is to the free world and to men who believe in freedom and liberty. Arising in the world there is a method of government which, in the hands of unscrupulous men, could have such power that it would dominate the people in. the interests of those who are their dictators.
We welcome royal visitors, of course, but when royal visitors have come and gone, when Moral Rearmament has done its , best and when Dr. Graham has returned ito America, we of this nation will still be confronted with social, political and economic problems. We cannot .avoid those problems, and as .a Parliament we must face them. The great evangelist says there is no hope in .politics. Well, in our democracy, he has a perfect right to .express himself in that way. But personally, .1 think there is hope for the people of this world even in politics, because is it not political when the Prime Minister of Great Britain visits Khrushchev? I see great nope for the world when leaders like Macmillan and Khrushchev come together and talk in a reasonable way around the conference table apart from the influence of crowds and demagoguery. I do not agree there wim the great evangelist.
We know that much that happens in politics is bad. We know that for political preferment men will hide the truth and emphasize their own viewpoint. That, I suppose, is part of politics; it is the bad side of politics. But there is one thing about the Australian political world to which I direct attention and that is that, not to-day, but on other days the proceedings of this chamber are broadcast and it is possible for us to reach the people and for the people to hear the discussions that take place about many of the problems which worry us in the Parliament. That ls all to the good.
The evangelist has also stated -
Dr. Vernon Grounds recently said, “ Tomorrow’s world (if to-morrow is granted to our world) will be .one in which the masses of humanity continue to drag out their days - miserable, poverty stricken, hungry, sick, fearful, their faces ground into the dust, their backs bent by crushing burdens”.
There is no doubt that that would apply to some parts of ihe world, but it does not apply here in Australia. Although we are charged by our political opponents with being Jeremiahs, in the course of a long period of 27 years spent in this chamber I have never heard a Labour man speak in that way. Dr. Graham may believe that; I do not believe it.
It is my opinion that, if we can avoid war for the next few years, there is every possibility of eternal peace from the viewpoint of atomic war and the like. That is my firm opinion, because there is growing up in Russia amongst the technicians and others who are controlling the economic destiny of that country a spirit of freedom which must be exercised in some way. That one way would be the granting of more and more political freedom to the people. You cannot destroy a desire for freedom in the human heart, and when in the course of the development of a country’s economic system you have to train men fully and well, as they .are being trained in Russia, there must develop in their brains a , desir.e for something better than they have now in the way of political and economic freedom.
There are at the present time no signs of revolt, as we are told in the press by those who are writing from Russia to the outside world and to whom a free hand and freedom of expression are granted by the Kremlin. Those writers make it plain that the people of Russia have no desire for any system other than that which they have now.. I am not upholding that system, but we must not pull our own legs or .deceive .ourselves. It is now over 40 years since the revolution, and the great mass of the Russian people have become used .to the dominance of their leaders; but there is throughout Russia an undercurrent and a desire for freedom which must have their effect.
Unfortunately, the Chinese revolution .has followed, and the Chinese are now in the same position that Russia was in in 1917 when there were revolutionary excesses. But within the next few years the Chinese will mature and undoubtedly will settle down. With the ‘settling down of China and the development of Russia, there will certainly be hope for the world.
Our friend ‘goes on to say -
The seeds of war are spawned in the demographic situation of .our world to-day.
Possibly that is true. -In fact, I am sure it is true. Many years ago - I have spoken about this in the Senate before - we had .a splendid citizen, our plenipotentiaryextraordinary to Japan before .the war, address us here and he said much .the ‘same thing. That .-gentleman .addressed only members of the Senate and the House of Representatives; no officials were present. He said there was such .a development o’f the population in Japan that that nation must inevitably and inexorably expand. As i have indicated on other occasions, he discussed this matter with the political and military leaders of that country. They were very plain and straight-forward and did not beat about the bush. These people looked ahead for ten, fifteen, twenty, or even one hundred1 years, and saw the time coming when Australia would be under the domination of Japan. While I am speaking of this, I recall a statement by General Cariappa, who was the Indian representative in Australia a few years ago. I was at a function tendered to him when he was about to leave Australia. He said definitely, in a speech after a splendid repast, that Australia was part and parcel of Asia, and he likened Australia to a great mansion of many rooms, with the Australians occupying only one or two rooms and refusing the rest to other people.
That undoubtedly was a penetrating illustration, Mr. President, and1 it certainly had its effect on the minds of General Cariappa’. audience. In dealing with these matters, we have to realize that what is important is not so much what we here in Australia are thinking, and not so much what our beliefs and our political fancies are, but what the millions - or at least the leaders of the millions - in Asia are thinking. We cannot possibly ignore the development that has taken place, say, in China, where thousands of young men have attended the universities, studied the history of their country and know how it was controlled and dominated by Europeans and others. To-day, according to many Australians - some from this side and some from the other - who have been there, there is a feeling right throughout China that the people are fighting for China. Undoubtedly, they are being misled and misinformed by their Communist press. They have turned bitterly against America, which was a great friend of China some years ago. To-day, America is public enemy No. 1 of nearly all the citizens of China. These are forces and facts that wc cannot gainsay. Therefore, when we come to study questions of this kind we have to study them not only from our own parochial point of view but also from the point of view of the world situation.
That brings me to the matter of Indonesia. I have listened to various speakers during the recent debates and t must admit that, so far as I am concerned, I have much to learn about Indonesia. According to Senator Willesee, who made a fine speech on the subject last week, the Australian people have been negligent in their approach to the Indonesians. The honorable senator pointed out that it would have been a splendid thing had our Prime Minister, instead of by-passing Indonesia, seen fit to call there on his way to or from the United Kingdom, and that it would also be a splendid thing if we had a greater knowledge of Indonesia than we in fact have. After all, Indonesia is a barrier against the southern progress of Communist Chin.i. While I am speaking of barriers, I point om that America and Great Britain failed to develop a barrier to the north of India. Many years ago, the Tibetans made clear to the United States of America and Great Britain that some action should be taken to conserve their independence; but unfortunately, their appeal fell on deaf ears. The Tibetans now have been conquered by China and the gate to India is being opened.
In Indonesia, the Communist party is growing. I think that it was Senator Buttfield who told us recently that the party was not so powerful there as some people thought, but Denis Warner, in many of his articles, has warned Australia and the world that, as far as South-East Asia is concerned, there is a powerful and growing force which, aided and backed by Peking, undoubtedly will be such a colossal force in the near future that it may take more than the Indonesians to stop it.
In regard to this matter that has arisen in the last few days, I am not one who is going to do any great criticizing because I realize., as I think we all should realize, that in questions of diplomacy the truth is not always told, or perhaps to put it better, the truth does not always come to light. Personally, when I first read the statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) 1 thought that we had made a diplomatic mistake. Were we compelled, or was Mr. Casey compelled, to make such a full statement regarding our action in relation to the situation of West New Guinea and Indonesia? Was it imperative that the world should be told that Australia would withhold its hand? If the Dutch Wanted to hand over Indonesia to the Indonesians, well, that was their business, but why should Australia make it plain that we would not lift a hand or move in any direction if they wanted to do that? There was no need to do it. Whatever attitude may have been adopted in the conference hall, there is such a thing as bad publicity which gives rise to unrest throughout a given country.
Here in Australia, the action of the Government, whatever may be behind it, has undoubtedly developed in the hearts and minds of our people a grave unrest concerning this matter. No matter how slender it may be, this territory is a barrier between Communist China and Australia. The matter involves the question of defence, too. It is no use falsifying the situation or deceiving ourselves. The Australian people as a whole would like to see New Guinea in the trusteeship of Australia. With the development of modern international relationships, and with the growth of the United Nations, that is imperative and essential. Whether it may be legally right or wrong - an aspect about which our good friend Senator Vincent spoke, is beside the point. We have travelled far since the last war, and nations must realize that the days of colonialism have gone. We do not want to continue the system that operated adversely for many years for the colonial peoples but which undoubtedly meant millions of pounds for those who exploited them. To a degree, of course, the exploiters did good work in developing countries economically. But the question I want to ask, as far as the end of colonialism is concerned, is this: Have we or have we not a duty to Australia, and has not the free world a duty to itself, to deal with these questions in which there is a possibility of one colonial power handing over a people to another colonial power?
I think that Labour is right, that the returned soldiers are right, and that the many writers in the press are right, when they say that the Australian people should work to the end that we have in New Guinea a force and a power, not for colonialism, but for the best development of the country and the best advancement for its people. With all due respect to Indonesia, which is our friend, are we going to accomplish that by saying publicly that if there is a compact between Indonesia and Holland, we shall stand idly by and do nothing?
Personally, I do not know that we can do very much, and certainly no sensible person would advocate that any Australian should take up arms against Indonesia. Indonesia has stated that she will not use force to compel this change in colonial control, but I remind the Senate that conditions change very rapidly these days and before many years have passed it may be that force could be used by a government that would not respect the treaties made by the present government of Indonesia with Holland or any other country. We would be fools if we thought that simply because the present government signed a treaty that force would not be used to take control of western New Guinea, force might not be used when a change of government occurs. We have known treaty after treaty to be torn up and surely politically we are not children. Let us express our greatest regard for Indonesia, and let us hope for the friendliest of relationship between Indonesians and ourselves. Personally, I thought it might have been better if Mr. Casey and those associated with him had fully explained our position behind closed doors. Of course, they may have done so; I do not know.
Do we know what the Dutch are saying? Have we been told of the views and opinions of the Duch in their approach to this particular question? No! We are in the dark, and the people of Australia are in the dark. But last week there appeared in a Brisbane newspaper an extremely interesting article - I suppose it was syndicated throughout Australia - under the caption “ Dutch Prepare N.G. Natives to Decide Own Future “ Possibly the few honorable senators who are listening to me have read the article. It stated, in the course of a column or two, that the Dutch officials were anxious to apply the principles of closer technical, education, and medical cooperation to the affairs of western New Guinea. After saying this, which, mark you, was rather disturbing to me, the article stated that a senior official had said -
Our interest here is simply to get these people-
That is, the natives - ready to take care of themselves. Yours-
That is Australia’s - is primarily strategic, and if you will forgive my saying so. you are by no means anxious to bring the Papuans on towards self-government.
Well, I do not know how the Australian people would take that statement. That particular official of western New Guinea practically accused us of having no interest in developing our part of New Guinea with a view to freeing the people and making them politically dominant in their own country.
We do not know what Holland will do, but we do know, from the figures that have been given to us, that Holland provides £7,000,000,000 sterling of the western New Guinea budget of £13,000,000,000, and many Dutch people believe that before long Holland will wipe her hands clear of western New Guinea. The officials there are doing good work, although I understand from this article that the development of a certain area inhabited by 200,000 natives is lagging because of a lack of funds. The article went on to say -
The danger of this situation might be that the growth of political consciousness . . . would outpace the growth of the economy.
There is the danger. At the present time, there is trouble about and clouds are enveloping the situation as it affects Indonesia, Australia and Holland, but perhaps the position will be clarified by the Prime Minister in the statement that he has made in another place this afternoon.
I come now to the matter of the appointment of Senator Gorton as Minister for the Navy. I have great respect for the honorable senator, especially after seeing in the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “ a photograph of him swinging in a bo’sun’s chair as he transferred from one ship to another during naval exercises outside Sydney heads recently. I am sorry that I was not at the shivoo; I would have liked to be there. I repeat, I am sorry that I was not there, because it was a good show. I do not want it to be thought that the remarks I am about to make are personal. During my 27 years’ association with this desirable club - for which we are well paid for being members - I may have fallen from grace occasionally, but I think my friends on both sides of the chamber will acknowledge that I have tried to avoid making personal remarks. Senator Gorton has been selected by the Prime Minister for the Navy portfolio, and the numerical strength of the Cabinet has been raised from seventeen, as it was during the Chifley government’s term of office, to twenty-two. I have noticed quite a number of criticisms in the mess concerning the enlargement of the Cabinet. That brilliant journalist, Harold Cox - really and truly he is above the average-
– The Cabinet is now smaller than it was.
– Well, the Ministry. Senator McCallum is a very sharp-witted gentleman, and I thank him for correcting me. When Labour is in office there is a Cabinet; we do not divide the team, as the Prime Minister has done, into two elevens. Of course, our political opponents are snobbish. They believe in snobbocracy. 1 was about to say that they separate the sheep from the goats, but that would be a wrong simile. Presumably they are divided on the basis of intelligence. I do not know. However, 1 revert to my theme.
Senator Gorton has been appointed Minister for the Navy. Some years ago I got off a train at Casino, in New South Wales, and during my perambulations on the platform 1 met Mr. Archie Cameron, who was then Minister for the Navy. He told me that he had been to Brisbane, without his secretary, and that he had done all the work himself. He said, “ As a matter of fact, Gordon, the Navy portfolio is a sinecure. All the work could be done by some other Minister. Mr. Harold Cox has made it plain that the Prime Minister, in order to placate some of his followers, has increased the numerical strength of the Ministry.
– Does the honorable senator believe what is printed in the capitalist press?
– Only when it suits me I suppose, but I can believe men like Mr. Archie Cameron and the newspaper man, Harold Cox, who, I think, speaks truthfully. The consensus of opinion of the cognoscente is that the Ministry has been enlarged to placate a number of ambitious young men. We have too many Ministers, but the morals of the situation were not taken into account when the Ministry was enlarged. Ministers speak very highly of themselves, their party, their liberal outlook and their desire to do the best for Australia, but the Prime Minister was quite prepared to do the wrong thing in enlarging the Ministry for the reason I have stated.
If he has the time, will the Minister for the Navy give the chamber a full description of last week’s naval display? For my own benefit, and for the benefit of the people of Australia, will he tell us the full facts concerning our Navy?
How many ships are in moth-balls? How does our Navy compare with other navies of the world, for instance, the Indonesian Navy? Honorable senators on this side of the chamber have been upset when reading the speeches of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight), the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the former member for Indi, Mr. Bostock. While in Melbourne recently I watched Mr. Wentworth on television. He was asked some questions as to Australia’s strength in relation to Indonesia and other nations. He painted a sad and doleful word picture of the position and, having regard to his calibre, one was forced to believe his statements. He distinguished between the big conflagration that might occur between the mighty forces of the United States of America and Russia, and the small fire that may burst into flame as a result of friction between Australia and other countries. His remarks were most disturbing not only to myself and my family, but also, I am sure, to the Australian people. When I next see Mr. Wentworth I shall ask him whether he will make available to me a copy of the script he used during that television session.
We are all concerned in this matter. The decisions do not rest entirely with the Government and the few persons aspiring to become Cabinet Ministers. We are not sure whether to build up our Navy, Army and Air Force, or to let them go by the board and weaken them simply because we believe we will never be involved in an atomic war. Where does the Government stand? Does it believe that the danger of atomic war is over? If not, it is the Government’s duty to see that our Navy, Army and Air Force are brought up to the highest pitch of efficiency. On behalf of trie citizens of Australia I ask the Minister for the Navy to answer these questions: What is the position regarding submarines? The recent display showed that we have two submarines on loan from Great Britain. What is the position in regard to spotting helicopters? What chance have we against an enemy such as Russia if she should ever declare war on Australia or the world? I am asking these questions, not merely for the sake of speaking, but because we are deeply concerned about the defence of Australia. The Minister is a knowledgeable man. Has he any knowledge of Russia’s submarine strength in the area from Vladivostok to Australia? In, the event of war, will we be able to keep open our sea lanes? No- doubt the Minister is aware that the United States of America is developing “ Polaris “, a submarine that will carry guns fitted with atomic warheads. That vessel will be able to stand 100 miles off a port and fire an atomic bomb into the heart of the city. Is he aware whether Russia has submarines similar to the “ Polaris “ which could blast any Australian city off the map?
The Government is absolutely hopeless in regard to civil defence. It is tragic that the Commonwealth Government can pass the buck to the States in this matter. Some of the military leaders of Great Britain have said that their organization would be effective to some extent in the event of an atomic war, but what is the position in Australia? We have no civil defence! To illustrate my point, I direct the attention of the few honorable senators listening to me to-day to the report of the commission of inquiry concerning the circumstances connected with the attack made by Japanese aircraft at Darwin on 19th February, 1942. Never was a more serious - I was about to say heart-rending - document ever published. I am sure that very few Australian people have read it. I shall quote one or two passages from the report which relate to the matters of preparedness, organization and leadership. On page 11. under the heading, “Conditions which Developed after the Raids “, this passage appears -
Immediately following the raids, the morale of the townspeople was not noticeably affected, and there is evidence to show that nothing in the nature of panic then developed. Had there been effective leadership at that stage I think that normal conditions might very rapidly have been attained, but leadership was conspicuously lacking. Prior to the raid evacuation had been widely discussed. Very quickly rumours began to be spread and were readily believed. Houses were abandoned in haste. I myself observed in the Darwin Hotel tables upon which drinks remained half-consumed, letters started but not finished, papers strewn about, beds unmade in bedrooms, and other signs of a very hasty exit. In other places, T saw similar conditions. In one there were indications of a mail but partially opened.
At that point, because of the lack of leadership and organization, there began an evacuation that was almost a panic -
A Iona stream of vehicles drew no at a petrol station for the purpose of obtaining petrol for cars about to depart for the south. The Administrator, learning this, forbade the supply of petrol. Actually by some means many vehicles did proceed towards the south. Many people proceeded on foot, and others on bicycles. Even the municipal sanitary carts were pressed into service and for some days the town was without a sanitary service. The foreign element in the population was prominent in the attempt to escape. Business houses were closed and the civil life of the town practically ceased.
There was even looting because of lack of control and lack of organization. 1 bring this forward to stress the urgency of this matter. If this country is to be safeguarded, there must be direction, organization and control in our cities. Knowing what happened at Darwin, knowing what happened in the various towns along the Queensland coast, I emphasize that highly organized civil defence is vital. Why, even on the Gold Coast, where houses and land are now being sold at prohibitive prices, where a man who bought a house from me for £4,000 is offering that same house for £15,000, people prepared to move inland. After the Darwin bombing, houses similar to the one I have mentioned could have been bought, together with furniture, for £150 or £200. My own secretary moved his wife and family south, away from the coast, to Stanthorpe.
On one occasion 1 attended a dinner at which Sir Percy Spender, the man who Mr. Eddie Ward said served with the generals at dawn at Bardia and who made himself a colonel when he came back here, was present. I said to Colonel Spender, “ Have you studied the psychology of the situation? You know that thousands of people who could afford it left the seaside towns and went bush when a bomb dropped on Townsville and when a number of bombs destroyed many of our people and their property at Darwin. What is going to happen, for it is possible for a Russian submarine of the Polaris type to direct its power against Cairns or Townsville and blast such a city into hell? What is going to be the psychological effect of such a happening on the people of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne? When we know the effect of a comparatively small raid such as that on Darwin, what can v/e expect the psychological effect to be in such an event as I have visualized? “ I do not say that it will happen, but it could happen and it is incumbent upon any government to do more than is being done to-day in connexion with civil defence. The report on the Darwin raid, to which I have referred, continues -
The air station itself was practically deserted. For several days afterwards, men were straggling back to the station, and at a parade on 23rd February, the muster showed 278 men missing. As the casualties were very small, the result can only be regarded as deplorable.
I saw some of the men when giving evidence before me, and I am satisfied, both from their appearance and what I heard from officers, that the quality of the men was not unsatisfactory, but that the failure arose owing to lack of training and lack of leadership at the revelant time.
So I say to the Government to-day that we should be prepared, that we should have a highly organized system of civil defence. We should1 see to it that there is organization and that there is leadership. I readily admit that such organization might not avert a catastrophe, but at least it might save thousands of lives.
I have a thousand and one things to which I should like to refer, but I have been speaking for a considerable time-
– For one hour.
– Then I shall conclude my speech. I wanted to refer to the De,no.rat Ic Labour party, to the Australian Labour party, and all the rest of it. but I shall not do so.
– Give us a bit of it.
– Even though I am exhorted by the splendid men of the Senate, I shall not do so. It is nice to be in a club like this.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood). - Order! I draw the honorable senator’s attention to his use of the word “ club “. This is not a club; it is the Senate and, I suggest that the honorable senator, as a former President of the Senate, has a duty to uphold the dignity of the Senate. I will not allow him to refer to it as a club.
– This Senate is a legislative chamber, and its members are of high moral and intellectual calibre. Outside this chamber, we have amenities; and I might say that while I was President of the Senate I saw to it that those amenities were highly developed because I believed that the members of this honorable chamber should be well looked after in the club section of”
Parliament House. Therefore, when 1 refer to the club, 1 am not referring to the Senate as a club: I am referring to those parts of this parliamentary domain which minister to the comforts of honorable senators. However, that is by the way.
I wish to deal for a few moments with a subject that is very important indeed, because it relates to people who are now suffering severely, to people whose homes have been wrecked and whose property has been, destroyed. Fortunately, there was very little loss of life - I believe only one person lost his life - in the cyclone that struck Bowen, Ayr and Home Hill. The other day, I asked whether Cabinet had discussed the establishment of a national insurance scheme. Senator Spooner, who replied to my question, is the arch exponent of private enterprise and when ones speaks of national insurance he shrivels up; he does not like it at all. He assured me that Cabinet had discussed the matter and had come to the conclusion that the Government could not do anything and that the matter would have to be left to the private insurance companies. It is my firm belief that in times of national disaster such as war. floods, huge bushfires or cyclones, we should have at our command a fund built up by contributions from people in all walks of life. The contributions could be be made by way of taxation, if that is thought preferable. After all, what is the difference between the tragedy of war and the tragedy of cyclone, or flood or the bushfires which have caused loss of life and property? Why should we differentiate? Why should we not see to it, as a nation, that part of the revenue we collect by way of taxation is set aside to bring succour to those who have been hardly dealt with by nature? I see no reason why we should not do so.
Here 1 should like to mention the fact that in Queensland members of the same political party as this Government have discussed this matter. I quote to the Senate a statement by Mr. Evans a member of, I think, the Country party, and the Minister tor Development in Queensland. Mr. Evans said -
It it up to the Commonwealth to father a national insurance scheme instead of sitting idly by and ignoring the way our pioneering people in the north of Queensland are suffering from cyclone damage.
I emphasise that Mr. Evans is not a Labour man. He goes on to say -
The Commonwealth Government has always been found wanting when it comes to helping Queenslanders in distress. During the war, Australia had a national insurance scheme under the National Security Regulations. I am sure that if the Commonwealth would father a similar scheme something could be done.
Mr. Hiley, the Treasurer of Queensland, said that Queensland would urge a national insurance scheme at the Premiers’ Conference next month.
Many years ago the Queensland Government did a great job in establishing State insurance. I hold the view that insurance should be a national matter. Perhaps some day that will happen, but if our tory friends remain on the Government benches, it will not happen for a long while. I do hope that in the near future the Government will do something to alleviate the present unfortunate position, and make it no longer necessary for distressed people to depend upon the funds of charities. Of course, under the circumstances, it is splendid to see charitably minded persons coming forward in this way. Some give hundreds of pounds and some give but a few pounds, but their help is very real. Whenever a cyclone comes to the north coast - and there was one at Bowen not long ago - a fund is opened by the “ Courier-Mail “. Tn time of war, when every one was in danger, this democratic nation of ours developed a war damage insurance scheme, but in peace-time it refuses to consider the alleviation of distress caused by flood, fire and cyclone. This nation ought to be ashamed of itself for refusing to deal with this matter communally. Assistance such as I have described is eminently necessary. I hope that the Government will do something in the very near future to alleviate the distress of the unfortunate people to whom I have referred.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [5.7]. - It is a very real pleasure to support the proposer and the seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General. I congratulate both gentlemen upon their maiden speeches in this place. We all look forward to hearing many more fine speeches from them. I believe that we will come to appreciate greatly the part that they will play in the debates of this chamber. 1 always feel that the Address-in-Reply debate is a very special occasion. We have the Speech from the dais and then the very special resolution in which we join the mover and seconder in expressing loyalty to our most gracious Sovereign, beginning with the words, “ We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled . . . “. Those of us who were privileged to be here when the Queen herself opened Parliament remember with special gratitude both Her Majesty coming to us as our Queen, the Queen of Australia, in Australia, and we also remember the very wonderful service which His Excellency the Governor-General has given to us since he first came to live among us.
Also, may I pay my tribute to our two Senate colleagues, Sir Neil O’sullivan and Sir Walter Cooper, who have been so signally honoured by Her Majesty the Queen. 1 should like to express appreciation for the years of service that they have given to this Senate. It is interesting to recall, as did Senator Spooner the other night, that these two gentlemen both hold records of service - Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan as Leader of the Government in this chamber and Senator Sir Walter Cooper as Minister for Repatriation. As a fellow Queenslander 1 know that 1 speak for all Queenslanders - as well as for all honorable senators - when I say that we believe the honours to be well deserved. We pay tribute to two men who have served this country well in peace and in war.
As we listened to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General we could not help recalling also the happy occasion of the visit by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. We remember how she came among us, bringing us closer together, and renewing that wonderful feeling of unity with the Throne of which we are all so conscious. How important that unity is to the great Commonwealth family which previously we called the British Empire. As one studies the Speech further one realizes with pleasure that soon we shall have among us the Princess Alexandra of Kent. As a Queenslander, I am especially proud that on the occasion of the centenary of that State we should be so greatly honoured; that Her
Majesty should send among us this very young and lovely princess to take part in these special celebrations.
One hundred years is not long, considered in the light of history, but we may well be proud of what has been done in Queensland during that period. Our State has a proud record of achievement and it is fitting upon this occasion to pay tribute once more to the men and women who were our pioneers. I refer not only to the pioneers of the Commonwealth but to those who pioneered my own State. It must have been a very hard task in a new land, and we are indebted to them for the way of life and traditions which make for good living and a happy community.
I am also pleased to see that later this year the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association will hold its general conference in Australia. Some years ago I had the great privilege of attending a similar conference in Canada. Many other honorable senators have attended such conferences and all will agree that it is a wonderful experience. No one will deny the importance of people from different countries coming together to discuss matters which are of importance to the whole Commonwealth.
The history of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is well worth recalling. It was formed in 1911 upon the occasion of the coronation of King George V., and was then known as the Empire Parliamentary Association. I think we can all imagine what a tremendous occasion it must have been. The association was born as a result of decisions at the historic assemblage at Westminster of members of the Parliaments of the dominions. They came from all the corners of the earth where our flag flies and formed this association because they believed that it would facilitate the exchange of information. They felt that closer understanding between parliamentary representatives in various parts of the Empire could help to strengthen the Empire.
T am reminded of a speech that I read many years ago. It was delivered by His Majesty King George V. Speaking of this very association he said, as I recall his words -
This is an important association. It is important that men and women from the Empire should meet together and discuss their problems, because to know about a problem, to begin to understand a problem, is indeed the first step to solving a problem.
That, in itself, reveals the importance of the meetings of the association. It is not merely a conference. It is also a meeting of men and women from different parts of the world who believe in the same form of government and in the unity and importance of the link with the Throne. It is a meeting of representatives endeavouring to work for the betterment of their people. It is a meeting outside the conference halls as well as within them. The great thing about it is that each delegate gets to know the other a little better; each understands the problem a little better. As His Majesty so rightly said, when that stage is reached you have taken the first step towards solving the problem, towards helping the representatives of particular countries to acheve the betterment of their own people. T hope that when we have this meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in this country we will, as the host country, make it a memorable occasion for those who come to our shores. As a result of those deliberations, may we be able to make the world a better place because men and women have been enabled to understand better each other’s needs. We have, during the years, had visits from people coming from within the Commonwealth and from other nations. Those visits have done a great deal, I believe, to cement friendships between Australia and other countries. Such friendships are surely very important from the viewpoint, not only of defence, but of the future well-being of the world.
Now let me turn to one or two other points in the Speech of His Excellency. I should like for a moment to refer to immigration. We have seen a very important advance in our immigration scheme during recent years. People have come from all over the world to live amongst us, and we are indeed pleased to know that they are settling down here and helping us to develop this great country. I think one of the most important things in our immigration scheme has been the great consideration, kindness and understanding which has been shown by all Ministers for Immigration and by the Department of Immigration itself. Immigration is a very human problem. The people concerned have many personal problems, and I should like to pay a tribute to the department, particularly to the senior officers, for the assistance that we have been given. Whenever we take an immigration problem to them, they remember that immigrants are people with very human needs and faced with very human problems. We are all interested to note that legislation will be introduced to simplify naturalization procedures under the Nationality and Citizenship Act and to do away with the issue of certificates of registration under the Aliens Act. We look forward always to legislation which will make the immigration scheme still more satisfactory.
I pay tribute to all those organizations forming the great Good Neighbour movement, whether they be governmental or non-governmental bodies. A person who comes to a strange new country is often very lonely. It is very difficult, I am sure, to settle down and take up the threads of life in a new land, in new surroundings and under new conditions. The Good Neighbour movement, through various church and charitable institutions and other agencies, has done more than anything else to promote the assimilation of New Australians into our community.
I am particularly interested in child immigration, and I was very pleased to see, as one of the guests of the Government at the recent Citizenship Convention, Mrs. Fairbridge, the widow of the founder of the Fairbridge Farms scheme. Mr. Fairbridge was still a young man when he died - he was only 39 - yet he gave so much of his life to the task of sending children to those parts of the Commonwealth where they could take up, in this case, farm work. They were children in difficult, lonely and, in many cases, unhappy circumstances. He sent them to new lands where they could eventually set up their own homes and live happy lives. We pay tribute to that great man, and we are indeed pleased to know that the scheme he initiated is playing a part in the immigration scheme of Australia to-day.
We also acknowledge with gratitude the work that is being done by our special welfare officers on the immigrant ships coming to Australia. Perhaps the very first contact people coming to Australia have with Australians is their contact with the welfare officers on the immigrant ships, from whom they hear of conditions in Australia. These officers are a tremendous help to the families who come to live amongst us.
I turn now to the subject of housing. His Excellency said -
This financial year a record amount of approximately £80,000,000 is being provided by my Government for housing. This will enable the normal current demand to be met and, in addition, will permit a substantial reduction in the already diminished arrears. My Government will continue to encourage home ownership.
The encouragement of home-ownership is very important. It is good to remind ourselves when we read those words that this Government has a record of achievement in housing of which it can well be proud. In the last nine years, the Government has provided 25 per cent, of all houses in Australia. That is a very good record indeed. It has also assisted people to own their own homes, with the result that to-day, as I understand, Australia is the greatest country of home-owners in the world. I also remind honorable senators of the Government’s great record in the war service homes field. It has provided more war service homes than has all other previous federal governments. Those are achievements which mean a great deal to Australian families, because a home is surely one of the most important things that a family needs. There is, of course, a very great need for more housing, but I believe there «an be no better evidence of the Government’s very real appreciation of the needs of the community when, at the commencement of the new Parliament, it says through His Excellency that it will find the record sum of £80,000.000 to continue its work in this very important field.
May I make a further point in connexion with housing. I have heard recently with pleasure that in certain areas where new housing settlements are being established by State housing commissions several units are to be provided for aged persons. I do hope that that is so. For a long time in this chamber I have advocated that in new housing areas a percentage of houses should be specially built and equipped for the use of aged couples or aged persons. That would be of tremendous help in solving the problems of some aged couples who are endeavouring to find suitable homes. They may be in good health for their age, anxious to help within the community, and anxious to live in their own homes. If in our housing schemes a percentage of home units could be set aside for aged persons, I believe it would be a tremendously important factor in solving this housing problem.
I now turn to another portion of His Excellency’s Speech, in which he said -
My Government proposes to meet the additional cost to unions of court-controlled ballots.
That is very important, because I believe that the excellent legislation dealing with court-controlled ballots in trade unions, introduced by this Government, has been responsible for the recent excellent record of industrial peace, which is very important in any community. When we brought in this legislation, honorable senators will recall the attack which came from the Opposition benches. However, I believe that this legislation has given to the trade unionist a weapon to fight Communist infiltration of his union, and in that way has assisted to bring about peace in industry and continuity of employment. Those two things are important. I am glad that further assistance is to be given by this Government to meet the cost to unions of conducting courtcontrolled ballots.
May 1 also refer to the paragraph in His Excellency’s Speech relating to the policy of keeping social services under constant review to ensure that they meet the needs of the changing circumstances of our growing population. I feel, Mr. President, as I have said before in this chamber, that there is a very great need for a conference to be held as soon as possible between government bodies and nongovernment organizations that work with our aged people. There are throughout the community wonderful church and charitable organizations, all sorts of welfare services, and other people who are working daily with aged people and who know the needs of the aged person who is living alone in his own home, in hospital or in an aged persons’ home.
I pay tribute to the excellent work that is done by the Department of Social Services. Its officers are most helpful, sympathetic, understanding and untiring in their efforts to help these people. But I feel that, if a conference of the kind I have suggested were held, we could arrive at a new approach to the great problem of the aged in our community and meet their needs to a greater degree.
I congratulate the Government upon its realization of the need for the special housing of aged persons and upon the way in which it has contributed to church and charitable organizations in the implementation of their excellent housing schemes; also upon the special distress and medical assistance it has given.
May I say that I should like to see very much more consideration given to the new science of gerontology, about which I have spoken before and which is concerned with the care of the aged and of their problems. I believe that, with the miracle of modern science and the splendid medical and hospital care that is given to people to-day, as the years go by the expectation of life will become very much greater. It is our duty as citizens to ensure that the added years that are given to the citizens of Australia are made as happy and as full of dignity and well-being as is possible. If we are to do that, we must do as other countries have done in ensuring the establishment of special geriatric wings and units at all major base hospitals.
In about November last I was privileged to meet one of England’s greatest women doctors, Dr. Marjorie Warren, of the Middlesex Hospital, to whom I have referred in this chamber and who was visiting Australia. She journeyed to this country to speak on the subject of gerontology at the Pan-Pacific Rehabilitation Conference in Sydney. She visited Queensland, and I was privileged to be the only lay person to attend the lecture she gave at the Medical School and to see a film of the work that she was doing at the Middlesex Hospital in assisting people who had had strokes and become bedridden or who had badly broken legs and hips - aged persons who, without this special care given by a geriatric unit, would probably have been bedridden for the rest of their lives. We saw how these aged persons were able to leave their hospital beds and return to live happily with their families for added years of life. As medical science approaches its objective of adding to the expectation of life of our older citizens, surely it is our duty to adopt the slogan “ Let added years be happy years and not just years of existence “. They are the points that 1 should like to leave with my colleagues on this occasion.
So we look forward to the first year of office of this Parliament. Incidentally, it is a year of history for Queensland; but unfortunately it has been marred by the tragedy of a cyclone. 1 tender my sympathy to those who have suffered. Together with my colleagues, I ask the Government to give every possible help to those people. The force of nature is a terrifying thing; if one has not experienced it, one cannot imagine what it is like. But we shall observe those who have been affected rebuild their homes and start once more with that courage that was displayed by their pioneering forefathers. I repeat that I hope every possible assistance will be given through governments and in every other way to the people who have suffered in this disaster.
I look forward1 to the term of this Parliament with confidence and hope because I know this Government will consider the needs of all sections of the community, that it stands for those things which we as British people believe in - indeed, that it will always endeavour to ensure that the people of Australia enjoy a prosperous, happy and very successful life and that this nation takes its place amongst the nations of the world. I know that the Government Wil consider the needs of every member of the community, that it realizes its great responsibility, and that it realizes it has been given a mandate to ensure for those who live within our shores the best possible future.
I have great pleasure in supporting the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply.
.- Mr. President, I quite naturally associate myself with honorable senators on this side of the chamber in supporting the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I, too, congratulate the mover of the motion, Senator Branson, and the seconder, Senator McKellar, upon their maiden speeches in the Senate. I think they are due for extra commendation because of the fact that they had such a nebulous and empty Speech to direct their thoughts to.
Quite a number of those who have spoken on both sides of the chamber during this debate have dealt very extensively and very interestingly with affairs in Indonesia and western New Guinea. However, I do not intend to go to Dutch New Guinea; I intend to stay right here in Australia. I do not want to minimize the importance of affairs in Indonesia and Dutch New Guinea, but I think the first essential for us is to deal with bread and butter issues - matters which concern the people of Australia generally. As 1 said earlier, the Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General was quite empty and nebulous, lt was a speech prepared by a lazy, arrogant and carefree government. It was prepared for the Governor-General by a government that was assured of its success before the general election campaign started, because of the activities of its latest satellite. I speak of the disgruntled little party, the Democratic Labour party, lt was obvious right from the opening of the campaign that the Liberal party, together with the cuckoo party, was prepared to rest on its laurels - if they could be called laurels. The Government knew that it would be returned because of the support of the satellite of the Liberal party. Therefore, we have really nothing in the Address delivered by His Excellency to which we can reply. Nevertheless, I wish to remind the Government of some of its many omissions, and also of some of its sins of commission.
I propose to deal, first, with unemployment.
– The honorable senator deals with that subject every time he speaks.
– Because it is still with us. Throughout the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, there is not one word of any proposal by the Government to deal with the unemployment that exists in this country to-day. At the end of January, no fewer than 85,000 people were registered as unemployed. When we consider that there are thousands of others who are not registered but who also are unemployed, the real figure probably is more like 120.000 or 130,000 people, quite a big army. If we include the dependants of those unemployed people, it means that there is a large army in Australia to-day dependent on the dole.
– The honorable senator was nearly one of them himself.
– I know I was, but by the grace of God and the good sense of the Victorian electors I am still here. 1 shall indulge in a little prognostication, as I did before the recent general election, and say that no doubt I will be here when Senator Scott is not.
The unemployment position in Australia to-day demands our attention, lt is not sufficient for the Government continually to tell us that unemployment is negligible and is not worth worrying about, or that it is only a small percentage. To the person who is out of a job, his unemployment is 100 per cent. Let me read to honorable senators what I have said in this chamber before. It bears repeating. Not so many >.-ars ago the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made the definite statement that we must have a pool of unemployed in order to discipline the workers. He still believes in that, and the supporters of the Government believe in it, too. Never at any time have they indicated that they are concerned about unemployment, provided that it can be kept down to what they refer to as a small percentage of the total work force. The present Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), when Minister for Labour and National Service, is reported in the Melbourne “Age” of 23rd January, 1958- only about twelve months ago - as having said that the job slump need not cause alarm. The article continued -
Current unemployment in Australia did not permit complacency, but certainly gave no cause for alarm, the Minister for Labour, Mr. Holt, said to-day.
About a month later, Sir Arthur Fadden, who was then Treasurer, voiced the same opinion, when he said that there was no cause for alarm about the unemployment position that existed at that time. The “ Canberra Times “, in a leading article, stated -
Unemployment will not cure itself. In the Governor-General’s Speech opening Parliament yesterday, three of the 45 paragraphs referred to the economic situation in Australia and only one of those mentioned unemployment.
It cannot be said that the Melbourne “ Age “ and the “ Canberra Times “ are at all favorably disposed towards Labour. Recent headlines in the Melbourne “ Age “ were “ 50,000 more seek jobs than offered “, and “ Big rise in jobless registered “.
I do not suggest that conditions now are comparable with those of years gone by, but we have to guard against any deterioration. Because there are many national projects that need to be undertaken in this country to-day, not one person should be unemployed. Such works include the national roads scheme that has been suggested, transport schemes, water conservation, and the building of homes. Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin has told the Senate that this Government has spent more on housing than any other Australian government. We know that that is only a half truth. When one considers the relative values of money, it can be seen how ridiculous such a statement is. Admittedly, more money is being spent on housing to-day than ever before, but regard must be had to the relative values of money. In order to refresh the minds of honorable senators. let me refer to some of the conditions that obtained in Australia only a few years ago, before World War IT. Just before the outbreak of the war, the food dole for a single man was 8s. 6d. a week; for a married man and his wife it was 15s. 6d.; for a married man, a wife and one child it was the munificent sum of 20s. 6d.; and for a married man with a wife and two children it was 2 ls. 6d. It should not be forgotten that at that time the basic wage was £4 2s. a week. lt may be said that the unemployed to-day also receive unemployment benefit, but it must be remembered that while the basic wage then was £4 2s. a week, to-day it is more than £13. The amount that an unemployed married man receives at the present time, therefore, is no more, relatively speaking, than was paid to an unemployed man in 1939.
– What does the honorable senator say that the unemployed person gets to-day?
– He is getting the same relative amount of purchasing power as the person who received the dole payments that I have indicated in 1939, because, I repeat, while the basic wage was then £4 2s., to-day it is more than £13.
– What do we pay by way of unemployment benefit to-day?
– Not as much, relatively, as the unemployed were getting before the war.
As I have said, there is absolutely no excuse for unemployment in Australia at the present time. Recently, in this chamber Senator Anderson referred to the question of roads. I think everybody will agree that
Australia’s roads are in a very bad state at. the present time. First, Senator Anderson* stated emphatically that the question of roads was a State responsibility. Later, hecited figures to show that road casualties, accounted for more lives than did the twoworld wars, and he said that that was a national tragedy and a national responsibility. I ag.ee thai it is a national responsibility, because the National Parliament, controls the purse strings. The States arepowerless to do anything unless they receive sufficient funds from the Commonwealth. It is of no avail for the members of theGovernment to cast aside these vital’ questions.
Sitting supended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I mentioned the continued existence in Australia of a big army of unemployed - far too big an army for the Government to be complacent about the position. I also mentioned that there are many national projects that should be commenced and completed in order to keep everybody in this country fully employed’. This is a very serious matter when one considers that, even on the admission of the Government, at the end of January, 85,000 persons were registered as unemployed. This matter cannot be disposed of merely by saying that that is only a small percentage of the work force.
Senator Anderson referred to the condition of the roads. Of course, as everybody knows the roads throughout Australia are in a very bad state of repair. Many thousands of miles of our roads need to be rebuilt. The various ‘bodies such as the Victorian Country Roads Board are doing a wonderful job with the money that is available to them. This Government cannot keep saying that road making and maintenance are State responsibilities because, as I have mentioned before, the States are dependent on the Commonwealth Government for the finance necessary for road building. Senator Anderson was very emphatic that roads are a State responsibility. He quoted figures of the casualties on the roads, and said that this was a national tragedy and a national responsibility. I point out that the roads themselves are responsible for thousands of deaths in Australia. In. a few minutes, I shall cite figures of casualties due entirely to faulty roads - not excessive speed, drink, or anything else. Before I do so, 1 shall dispose of another matter.
Senator Scott, during one of his many inane remarks in this Senate, made some reference to the distribution of Communist second preference votes.
– What has that to do with road safety?
– It has nothing to with road safety, but you mentioned earlier that the distribution of Communist second preference votes had helped the Labour party, and either you or one of your colleagues implied that I am still a member of the Senate only because I received some of those preferences. For Senator Scott’s edification, 1 should like to quote figures relating to the 1955 general election, and to remind him that Senator McCallum would not now be a member of this chamber but for Communist second preference votes.
– The honorable senator has been saying that for years, and now it has come back on him.
– The Minister for Customs and Excise should know that it is unparliamentary to interject. In a few moments, I shall refer to the position during the recent general election. But first, I should like to say that in the 1955 general election, Mr. Healy of the Communist party polled 1 1 2, 1 54 votes in New South Wales, of which Senator McCallum received 82,122. Prior to his receiving those preferences, he was 20,000 below the quota. I come now to the recent election. Do honorable senators know that Mr. Little, the leader of the disgruntled little party, got 42 per cent, of the Communist preference votes in Victoria?
– How many did you get?
– I got 58. Consider the percentage that 82,000 is of 1.12,000! Senator McCallum got that percentage in 1955. Anyhow, that is only by the way, and I shall now give Senator Scott a bit of advice: I am staying on the river, so when you are passing, drop in!
I return to the vital question of roads. We all know that throughout Australia maintenance work and the construction of new roads are badly needed. Senator Anderson has referred to a proposal by New South Wales that an amount of £350,000,000 be spent on the roads over a period of fifteen years. The honorable senator emphasized the necessity for good roads and implied that the New South Wales Labour Government had made this suggestion in order to cover up for failing to do the job it should have done. Of course, we are used to that kind of statement in this chamber. It was made frequently in relation to Queensland roads when Labour was in office in that State. Day after day wc heard derogatory remarks concerning the then Queensland Labour Government.
As anybody who does much travelling knows very well, the roads are not being properly maintained, not through the fault of the States, but because they lack the necessary finance to do the job properly The various authorities in Victoria are doing as much as they can with the finance that is made available to them. To-day, many roads consist of ribbon strips of bitumen with numerous potholes and having broken or serrated edges. Many are highly dangerous, as will be seen from the figures I shall cite of casualties on the Australian roads attributable to faulty road conditions. The chairman of the Australian Road Safety Council. Mr. T. G. Paterson, has stated that at least one member of the average family is doomed to be either hurt or killed on the roads. He attributes the cause of road accidents to incompetence, indifference and intoxication. Last year there were 2,042 fatalities, 46,773 persona] injuries, and 93,480 reported accidents. Road accidents now affect about 50.000 Australian families each year. He also added that, on the basis of distance travelled, the chances of motor cycle riders and pillion passengers being killed or injured were ten times as great as those of other motorists.
These figures are very revealing. They have come from the Australian Road Safety Council, and are the latest figures available. During the year ended 31st December, 1956, there were 37,843 accidents involving casualties, due entirely to faulty road’s, in which 2,165 people were killed and 48,885 injured. Of these, there were 704 accidents involving casualties due to road surfaces being too loosely gravelled, in which 20 persons were killed and 1,022 injured. There were 805 accidents attributable to wet and slippery road surfaces, in which 34 people were killed and 1,142 injured. Obstructions on the road1’ accounted for 138 accidents, in which two persons were killed and 169 injured. There were 494 accidents attributable to other road faults, in which 18 persons were killed and 682 injured, making a total due to faulty roads alone of 2,141 accidents involving casualties, in which 74 persons were killed and 3,015 injured. Those figures indicate that the Commonwealth Government should make more money available to the States so that the proposal submitted by the New South Wales Government for a national roads scheme - a scheme to apply throughout the Commonwealth with particular emphasis on main roads linking capital cities - could be implemented. The figures I have quoted apply to 1956. To indicate that the number of casualties resulting from faulty roads remains more or less static, I shall quote figures for 1954, giving merely the totals and not going into detail. The total number of accidents was 6,192; accidents involving casualties amounted to 2,298; 73 persons were killed and 3,082 were injured. Those figures indicate that the position has not improved.
One has only to travel on the roads to realize the dangers to be faced. Although main country roads have been improved in parts, according to the finances available to the States, invariably one finds that to save a few shillings roads narrow at culverts and bridges. What a contrast to the roads in countries like Holland and Germany which I had the privilege of visiting not long ago! In those countries one can travel on four-lane roads without encountering narrow bridges or level crossings. In Australia we are confronted with dangerous level crossings that could be eliminated if the Commonwealth Government were to exercise a small amount of insight and courage, make more money available to the States and implement a nation-wide roads scheme. Although the actual responsibility for the construction of roads rests with the States, there could be some co-ordination on a national basis. Although repeated attempts have been made in that direction, all efforts have failed because the Commonwealth has said that finance is not available.
I shall quote an interesting passage from a booklet which gives a ten-year plan for roads in Victoria -
The “ target “ estimate provides for devoting nearly £90,000,000 to bring the 14,421 miles of C.R.B. roads as now declared (State highways, main roads &c.) up to date in strength, width and serviceability. Short examples of the type of work needed have been embodied in recent years in urgent reconstruction of the very worst old sections. These scattered samples are sandwiched between long lengths of obsolete and patched-up sections which deficiencies the estimated programme is designed to remove in systematic fashion.
The dust, corrugations and potholes inseparable from the gravel surfacing which still forms 43 per cent, of the system would be eliminated on 8,027 miles by sealing with bitumen.
There are at present 1,291 miles with a 6 ton load limit including 541 miles of State highways. These weak sections which seriously restrict transport would be strengthened to carry the full gross load permissible under the Motor Car Act.
A vigorous bridge replacement policy is included so as to remove load restrictions which apply on many weak old bridges. Drivers would no longer be confronted with the “ narrow bridge “ signs now so common along these roads at structures whose handrails have generally been smashed to pieces by traffic. These bridges would allow for safe passing of opposing streams of traffic.
One of the largest items is provision for widening narrow pavements for hundreds of miles where worn edges and rough shoulders prevail along bitumen surfaces in spite of constant patrol work. The fact is that reconstruction has fallen a long way behind the increase in traffic. It has taken five years to widen out the narrow old pavement to 24 feet for 36 miles of the Princes Highway between Dandenong and Traralgon, one of the most important and densely trafficked sections. The plan provides for completion of the remaining 46 miles. On the Hume Highway where so far only 55 miles have been similarly treated 134 miles remain to be widened in the ten-year period, a vitally necessary improvement on this heavily trafficked route. On other major routes old sealed pavements with a width of only 12 feet or 16 feet must be widened to 18 feet or 20 feet as required to enable traffic to manoeuvre with reasonable speed and facility.
On numerous steeper hills and at dozens of crests double traffic lines have had to be placed to restrict overtaking. The worst of these would be eliminated by adding “ Slow lanes “ for uphill traffic and by regrading crests.
Scores of open floodways through which traffic must splash its way on primary roads would be raised and culverts provided. At certain important river crossings where flood waters still block or impede traffic for several days at a time bridges would be provided.
There are still 581 open railway crossings on our main roads and State highways. A programme of elimination of open and gated crossings has been commenced with limited special funds. To these the Board is called upon to add substantial contributions, which are included -in the estimated requirements.
It is obvious, Mr. President, that the position is extremely serious and immediate action should be taken. Of course, as I have already mentioned, this Government has become lazy, arrogant and careless, secure in the knowledge that it cannot be displaced for the next three years.
I have here a series of questions asked by the United States Foundation for Economic Education Incorporated -
If you had lived in 1900 or can remember that far back, what achievement would you have considered most likely in the next 55 years - to build and maintain adequate roads; increase life span by 30 years; speak to any point in the world by telephone; look at T.V.; control disease by antibiotics; fly around the world in a few days; build a car like to-day’s models? The answer, of course, is all too apparent. You would have said to build roads. The other achievements would have been sheer fantasies .
This is a matter to which we should pay immediate attention. We know, as Senator Anderson very rightly pointed out, that casualties on the roads are greater than those inflicted by two world wars. The figures I have quoted are an indictment of any responsible government. To say that money is not available is, to use the colloquialism, just hooey. If Australia were involved in a war to-morrow no limit would be placed on the supply of money.
Although we have that great institution, the Commonwealth Bank, which could and should provide the finance to meet this national problem, we have a Commonwealth Government, which is under the direct control of the private financiers. I understand that to-morrow night banking legislation will be introduced in another place. Only last year we defeated that legislation, but since then an election has been held. Immediately the results were known the press carried banner headlines telling us that the banking legislation was again to be presented to Parliament, this time in a more severe form. The bankers are shrewder now than they were a few years ago. They have been content to hasten slowly but now they have the whips out and have put the screws on this Government which is the servant and the slave of the financial oligarchy. The Government undoubtedly will fall into line. The Government is going to do that because its supporters depend on these people for their election expenses. On 16th December, very soon after the election results were known, the following news item appeared in the Melbourne “ Herald “ under the heading, “ Bank Bill is Government’s First Job “:-
Legislation to reconstruct the Commonwealth Bank will be introduced as the first major bil] soon after the new Federal Parliament assembles on February 17th. By a programme now taking shape it will pass all stages before the mid-winter recess of Parliament and the Commonwealth Bank will be reconstructed before the end of this year.
The Commonwealth Bank, of course, will be reconstructed to conform to the scorched earth policy that has been followed by this Government ever since 1949. Now that the Government has the numbers, not because of genuine choice by the people but only because of the support of its satellite, the splinter party-
– Do you say the Commonwealth Bank has not the support of the people?
– The only bank Senator Scott has any dealings with is the Yarra Bank, and the only thing he can draw is his own breath. On 17th December, this item appeared in the press under the heading, “ Govt. (Majority in Both Houses) Brings Back the Bank Bills “ -
Banking reforms will be studied by Federal Cabinet in Canberra to-morrow.
It would have been more correct to say that the banking reforms would be studied by the private banks because the private banks will dictate the terms and this Government will obey the orders it receives. Then, in the Melbourne “ Age “ of 17th December this article appeared under the caption, “ New Banking Bills May Be Stronger “ -
Listen to this- will be put on the Menzies Government to accept important amendments to its banking legislation before it is presented to the new Parliament, to meet on February 17 next.
The newly-appointed Federal Cabinet will discuss the Government’s plans for the reintroduction of the legislation when it holds its first meeting here to-morrow. The passing of the Treasury portfolio from the Country party to a Liberal in Mr. Holt will almost certainly revive demands for amendment of the legislation.
That is very important to remember, because it is a well-known fact that when the previous legislation, which was thrown out of this chamber, was first discussed the Country party opposed it. Sir Arthur Fadden, who was Treasurer, freely admitted that he was definitely and irrevocably opposed to that legislation. But the pressure was put on and he, like all the other members of the Government, had to toe the line because the private banks had cracked the whip. We people of Australia must view this banking legislation with great alarm, because it could bring about a return of the conditions that we experienced some years ago. Some may argue that this was a long time ago, that conditions may not be as bad because new techniques have been devised. I admit that we have new techniques to-day, but I point out that a study of history will disclose that whenever the private financial oligarchy of this country has obtained control, the people in general have suffered
Even at the risk of being accused of tedious repetition, 1 take the Senate back to the 1930’s, when Sir Robert Gibson was chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board. On that Commonwealth Bank Board were representatives of the private financial institutions of this country, and the Commonwealth Bank’s policy was dictated by the private financial people of that time. It may be said that we had a Labour government in office at that time. We had a Labour government in office, but not in rower. Sir Walter Cooper will remember that in those days he fought in this chamber for a reduction in pensions. He will remember how Sir Robert Gibson fought against a £20,000,000 fiduciary note issue. I have here a description of the situation at that time -
In desperation, the Scullin administration besought Sir Robert Gibson to increase the note issue by £20,000,000 so as to enable them to fight the depression which was now advancing like a landslide, but Sir Robert, secure in his recent appointment. no longer troubled to be polite.
He had only just been appointed. He said -
Mr. Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet, you ask me to inflate the currency by issuing another £20.000,000 in notes. My answer it that I bloody well won’t.
And that f-om the chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board when addressing the democratically elected Prime Minister of this country! That should indicate quite clearly to intelligent people - I know there are not many on the Government side - the dangers confronting us if we allow the private banks to get complete control again. If we pass this legislation which the private banks are forcing on this Government, weshall find that the private banks of thiscountry will again be in control of thewhole nation. In 1932, in New South. Wales, there was an anti-Labour Treasurer. 1 do not know whether he called himself a Liberal or a member of the United Australia party or the Nationalist party. He was known as Tubby Stevens.
– What year was this?
– In 1932. I refer to the Honorable B. S. B. Stevens. He was reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 21st November, 1932, as having said at Deniliquin -
Within the last few months, the Government has been endeavouring to lay the foundations of proper economic progress. Now that we have done that, we are prepared-
Now listen to what he says - as courageously as our bankers will allow, to get. out into the field of development to assist in arresting the drift from the country to the city.
Then we have this strange statement by the present Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Robert Gordon Menzies, as late as 1953. To me it seems strange, after reading that statement by the Prime Minister, that the Government should propose bring-, ing in the new banking legislation. This is what Mr. Menzies said in 1953 -
If the amendments proposed in this bill-
That is, the bill of 1953- are considered, they will, we believe, place beyond doubt the continued operation of the Australianbanking system in open and fair competition” within the frame work of central bank policy.
If what the Prime Minister said then wastrue, we now have a clear indication that this Government is being forced by the private banks to introduce the new legislation. As a further indication of what theprivate banks do when they get control, we have only to look at their actions in 1924.
– Goodness me!
– Whenever thereis a crisis it will be found that the privatebanks are very active. The basic policy of the private banks to-day is exactly what it was during the crash in 1890 when thousands of people were ruined and again, in the 1930’s when we were suffering froma depression. The basic policy of the private banks never alters and, because it never alters, it is relevant now for me to remind honorable senators of what will happen if the private banks get control again. What happened in 1924? The war governments had given the associated banks the right to draw Commonwealth notes without any gold payment or deposited security. The mechanism of this scheme, and the way it operated, were set forth in detail on 13th June. 1924, by the then Treasurer, Dr. Earle Page, whom I should prefer to call “ Blank Page “. For all notes drawn under the scheme, the banks had to pay interest at rates varying between 3 and 4 per cent. If Government supporters would only listen to what I have to say they will see something of the manipulations of the private banks.
On the sixth War Loan of 1918 the interest rate was 3 per cent. Under the war gratuities scheme, it was 4 per cent. A total of £6,000,000 in war gratuities had to be paid in cash. The Government arranged wilh the banks to pay out, and charge it on a 5$ per cent, loan basis. For this, the banks had the right to draw Commonwealth note* to an account paid to ex-soldiers. Thus the banks paid out nothing, and scooped the difference between the 4 per cent, notes and the 5i per cent. loan.
The banks were not satisfied with all this. They did not, in fact, draw the notes, and pay the stipulated 4 per cent. They operated on their right to draw as if the notes were actually in their own vaults. Thereby they avoided interest payments to the Government, and upon these rights issued credits and drew interest from the Government and the general public.
In 1920,. the right to issue notes passed from the. Treasury to the Note Issue Board. The banks, continued to exercise their rights and on behalf of those rights increased their bank-manufactured cheque currency. On 23rd1 June, 1923, these rights to draw totalled £8,000,000. The board demanded that the banks should exercise their rights -draw the notes, and pay interest thereon. The banks refused to do so. Early in 1924 the banks demanded that these rights should1 be extended by another £3,000,000. The chairman of the board, Mr. John Garvan, stated that the rights were equivalent to an issue of notes to the banks without interest. He described the proposition as madness. The then Treasurer upheld his view, but the demand of the banks was granted.
On 14th October, 1924, the newspaper* announced that the associated banks had delivered their ultimatum and had won on every point. The Government had thus acknowledged defeat. The terms imposed by the banks were, first, that they were to have the right to draw another £10,000,000, and that no interest was to be paid1 on this. Interest amounting to 4 per cent, was to be paid on notes actually drawn. As I have pointed out, they did not draw the notes, but merely operated on their right to draw. On the same date the Melbourne “ Herald “ stated that traders and others were unable to obtain credit, on the most adequate security, at any rate of interest. The apologists for the associated1 banks announced that the banks would now release credit to the public at reduced rates. The day after the £10,000,000 concession was obtained the banks increased their rates by another 10s. per cent. This was tantamount to imposing an additional levy of £750,000 a year- on Australian exports.
On 17th October, the Melbourne “ Sun “ said -
The demand rate on London is now 77s. 6d. per £100. That’ is to say, a bank advances money here at the rate, and receives it in London in 30 days’ time. The charge, therefore, works out at 46i per cent, per annum. “ The Industrial Australian “ of 20th November, 1924, said -
The primary producers for a long time past have been, and still are being, mercilessly exploited, and victimised on millions sterling.
The late Mr. Pratten, Minister for Trade and Customs in the Bruce-Page Government, told the Sydney manufacturers that the banks would not part with overesas money arising from exports. Therefore, Australia’s oversea interest bill could only be paid from fresh overseas, loans.. This left the banks with their oversea money to finance the flood of imports. This accusation amounted to an indictment- of the associated banks, as conspirators against the public interest. When the. question was put to Mr. Bruce, who- was; then, the Prime Minister, at Lithgow, he replied, “ I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer. It has never been answered.”
If the “ Little Sir Echoes “ on the other side of the chamber are prompted to remind mc that that is a long time ago I would repeat - and I shall keep on repeating - that the- basic approach of private finance is- the same to-day as it always was. Honorable senators can recall many instances of the banks’ arrogance. In 1914 the English pound note had on it a promise to pay in gold. On the outbreak of war there was a rush on the banks. Banks cannot, of course, pay out when there is a rush. On this occasion they obtained from the British Government a three-day banking holiday - fixed by legislation. During the interval the printing presses were put to work and they printed the famous John Bradbury notes which had on them merely the words “ legal tender “. After the Government had protected the banks by declaring a three-day holiday, the banks lent the Government money at the current rate of interest.
If one goes back to 1890 one finds thai thousands of people were ruined because of the actions of private financiers The actions of Government supporters to-night give some indication of what their attitude will be when the new banking legislation comes before this chamber. That legislation amounts to selling out again to private financiers, whose dictates the Government is always ready to obey. Of course, it owes its very existence to funds provided by those institutions and by the physical effort which they produced, in 1949 especially, in having the Government re-elected. I shall have a lot more to say on this subject when the banking legislation comes before us, for I can tell Government supporters a great deal about the banks. Even at this late hour I would appeal to them not to do anything to lessen the strength of the Commonwealth Bank, the greatest institution that this country has for doing good.
National projects such as the improvement of our roads and standardization of railway gauges should be undertaken urgently They will not only promote the welfare of the people but would be justified from a defence angle alone. One could mention many other important projects. On present indications it would seem that, if the banking legislation goes through, the Government will be carrying on a scorched earth policy such as it has adopted since 1949 and will continue to give away the people’s assets to the vested interests whom it represents.
– At the outset, I should like to associate myself with the sentiments of loyalty already expressed by honorable senators who have spoken to this motion and to congratulate the proposer and seconder upon their excellent maiden speeches. I should also like to express my satisfaction at being here, on this side of the chamber once more as a result of the people of Australia expressing yet again, at free elections, their preference for a party and for a Government that has kept them prosperous over the last ten years, despite difficult economic and other crises - which it has successfully surmounted. The speech to which we have just listened from Senator Sandford-
– Speech, you call it!
– I do. It seemed to me to contain a deep note of annoyance because the banking legislation will once more be introduced in this place. But surely that annoyance should not be directed at the Government, nor at the banks. It should be directed, if he feels annoyance at all, at the Australian people, who, in the last election, knowing what they were doing, knowing that this banking legislation would be re-introduced, still gave such great endorsement to that legislation and to the Government which introduced it. That that is so is quite clear as soon as we examine the history of this legislation. When it was first introduced, it was discussed in great detail here, in the press and in another place. It was discussed clause by clause, so that everything it intended to do was known withou-t question to the Australian people. I admit that on the second occasion the Opposition in this place refused to allow it even to be discussed, but it had been discussed previously. The people knew it would be brought up again and they endorsed it. So let the honorable senator direct his annoyance at the Australian people.
Before I leave the subject of banking, there is one other matter to which I want to advert. Over and over again I have heard1 spokesmen for the Opposition, and Senator Sandford in particular, harking back 29 years - because they have had no new policy for the last 29 years - to the bad days of a depression in this country and saying, “ Yes. we had a Labour government in power then; we admit that “.
– Not in power, in office.
– I stand corrected. They say, “ We had a Labour government in office then, we admit that; but it was not in power, because it did not have control of this House “. Well, Sir, that Labour government, led by the late Mr. Scullin, if it felt that its desired actions for overcoming the economic difficulties of that time were being frustrated, had one clear course and one clear duty, lt could have taken the course which has been taken before now by this Government when it has come up against the same frustration. That course was to seek a double dissolution and take its plans to the people of Australia to see if they would endorse them. The Labour government at that time did not do that. It was within its competence, and its competence alone, to do so, but, having not done so, let members of the Labour party not now attempt to evade responsiblity for their lack of action.
– Your own Government did not have grounds for a double dissolution.
– Whether we had grounds or not is a legal matter beyond my competence to judge, and, I suspect, beyond the honorable senator’s competence too. However, there is no doubt that a double dissolution was not sought on the occasion when the Scullin Government claimed to be frustrated in this place.
I now wish to move to a consideration of something which has been discussed at length in this debate before, namely, the statement on Indonesia issued in the form of a communique in this country some days ago. In considering the attack made on this communique by Senator McKenna, the Leader of the Opposition in this place, I should like to begin by going over the facts of the Indonesian situation as it has developed since the war. You will remember, Sir, that immediately the war finished the Dutch Government and the insurgent government in Indonesia came into conflict as to which was the proper authority to govern an aggregation of islands known as Indonesia. That conflict developed into quite severe fighting, which was eventually stopped at the instigation of the then Labour Government. Negotiations then took place which resulted in a transfer of sovereignty from the Dutch Government to the Indonesian Government. There was on that occasion a negotiated transfer of sovereignty with the full blessing of the then Labour Government, and, indeed, at the initiation and instigation of that Government, which has taken credit for it on more than one occasion since then in this chamber and in another place.
What was this tranfer of sovereignty? Was it sovereignty over one people, over one land? Of course it was not not. It was sovereignty over the Celebes, Java, Sumatra, Amboina, the Halmaheras and an aggregation of islands with different races. Whether that was right or wrong, the point I wish to make is that this transfer of sovereignty over many different races in many different islands was undertaken at the instigation of a then Labour government. Consequently I find it very difficult to understand how the Leader of the Opposition can say now that it is entirely wrong for any such transfer of sovereignty to take place and that it is completely against the tenets of the United Nations. But still he does say that. In the face of the past record, he says that if there should be a negotiated agreement under which Holland of its own free will gave up sovereignty over West New Guinea, that would be contrary to the spirit of the United Nations and Australia should oppose it.
I hope that some future speaker on the Opposition side in this debate will go a little more fully into that statement and explain how Australia should oppose such a transfer. Should we oppose it by sending troops to prevent the transfer of sovereignty negotiated between Holland and Indonesia, if it were to take place? I do not think we should. If honorable senators opposite want to oppose the transfer, let them tell us whether we should do that. If not, how should we oppose it? Should we go to the United Nations, perhaps, and say, “ Here is a country which had sovereignty over a portion of an area formerly known as Indonesia. It has negotiated freely, and in proper conformity with international principles, an agreement to hand over administration to Indonesia. We want you, the United Nations, to prevent that negotiated agreement from coming into force. We want you to send troops, or somehow or other stop this transfer of sovereignty from taking place, in spite of the desires of the country which has sovereignty and the country which wishes to obtain it”.
– There is no need to be over-anxious to support it.
– I now come to the point that has just been raised by the honorable senator. He says, quite rightly, that there is no need to be over-anxious to support it. In this communique, which has been attacked by the Leader of the Opposition in this place, by the Leader of the Opposition in another place and by newspaper leader-writers, there is no suggestion anywhere that this country is going to support such a negotiation. Indeed, it is made perfectly clear that this country now, as always, supports the retention of Dutch rule in western. New Guinea, subject to the right of the Dutch to withdraw if they want to do so. This country is not urging, and will not urge, either Holland or Indonesia to negotiate; but in reply, 1 imagine, to the Indonesian Foreign Minister coming along and saying, “ Well, we understand your attitude. We understand that you do not want us there, but is your attitude so intransigent that, if Holland freely gets out, you will still oppose any s”.:ch agreement? “ it simply says, “ We shall not oppose it, provided Holland is willing and thinks it to ‘her interest to retire “. There is no question of supporting it, and there is still no answer as to how any opposition could be effective, anyway.
The last matter upon which I wish to touch to-night -is one which in the past, perhaps, has been regarded as being something that should not be spoken about too openly, but one that I think should be spoken about openly so that all may fully understand what the attitude of Australia now is. I refer to what has been called the White Australia policy. I have noticed lately statements emanating from various groups throughout the country advocating a quota system in Australia. It seems to me, Sir, that the arguments adduced in support of that proposal have not been carefully thought out and that the results which would be likely to follow if the proposal were accepted have not been properly anticipated.
We are told that it would soothe the pride of those who are now kept out of Australia in some degree if a quota system were to be introduced, but surely it is self-evident, even in the minds of those who advocate such a system, that what they are saying is that we should have a quota system for coloured people only. There is no suggestion of a quota system for English people, or for Americans or Canadians. I repeat that it is quite clear that what they mean is a quota system for people of colour only. How any one can claim that that still is not differentiation to the same degree as it ever was is more than I can understand.
I believe there are many people of the countries to our north who would make, and in some cases are making, eminently good Australian citizens and who have a contribution to make to the wealth of this country. But I believe the way in which they should come here is the way in which they are now coming here - that is, that each case should be judged on its merits and that, above all, care should be taken to see that there does not develop in this country, as have developed in other countries, including Great Britain, colonies of people with a skin of different colour from that which we have. The Australian people can assimilate - and are assimilating - and can be friendly with many Asians who wish to come here and be citizens. But I fear that nothing would be more calculated to inculcate a colour consciousness, which Australia has not got, than for there to be in the cities of this country thousands or even tens of thousands of people of other nationalities living in little groups on .their own as they would if they came in under a quota system and if each case was not judged on ‘its merits.
I felt I should say that, while I have the belief I have outlined, that is, that thousands of Asians can and should come here, each case being judged on its own merits, those who carelessly advocate a quota system will do more harm than good to the cause they seek to further.
Sir, they are the three matters upon which I wished to speak to-night. I close, as 1 began, by associating myself with the sentiments of loyalty and thanks to the Governor-General for the Speech from the dais.
– It is my intention to-night to touch upon a matter that has given .me some considerable concern over a long period of time. I refer to the employment situation. In doing so, I direct attention to the news release of the Department of Labour and National Service which made a review of the employment situation as at the end of January last. The first paragraph of the news release refers to the seasonal fall in employment in Queensland and the continued registration of .school leavers entering the labour market for the first time.
We all realize, Mr. Deputy President, that the age of children leaving school in the various States varies from fourteen to sixteen years. It seems rather ironical that governments have not paid particular regard to the needs of those children as they leave school. Apparently no provision has been made by this Government to meet that situation. That is a scandalous state of affairs. It demonstrates to me the lack of foresight of this Government in providing employment possibilities for the Australian work force. It is scandalous, too, that in Australia to-day there should be a considerable number of persons unemployed.
The volume of unemployment in this country ought to cause everybody considerable concern. According to the department’s news release, at 30th January last, 81,901 persons were unemployed, which represented an increase of more than 17,000 since 24th December. In other words, in approximately five weeks the employment situation deteriorated to such a degree that an extra 17,000 people became unemployed. We find that at the end of January last year the number of unemployed persons was approximately 74,000.
I think it is reasonable to suggest that, with such a large number of people unemployed, the Australian economy must be suffering. We note that included in the work force of Australia, which is estimated to be approximately 4,000,000 people, are employers and self-employed persons. So the figures published by the department are a complete misrepresentation of the true position. I do not think employers should be included in the work force or be taken into account in assessing the number of unemployed. I have taken out some figures relating to the number of persons who have registered as .unemployed and I find that the trend is for the number to increase. Going back to June, 1957, there were approximately 52,500 persons unemployed at that time, whereas in June, 1958, the number was slightly in excess of -67,000, a considerable increase in a period of twelve months, ft is significant that in the period of only seven months, from June, 1958, to January, 1959, there were 81,901 unem-ployed.
Let us consider the loss, of earnings of those unemployed people. Going back to 1957, and basing the calculation on an average weekly wage of £14, we find that the total weekly loss of wages was £731,000. Coming to June, 195.8, we find that the loss of wages was £940,000 a week. Again, I have taken an average wage of £14 a week, a very conservative estimate, because the average Australian wage is in fact well in excess of that amount. Taking the figure for the seven months to which I have referred, the loss over a period of twelve months would be considerable. In January, 1959, the figure would have jumped to £1,446,000. That is only the loss of wages to the worker, Mr. Deputy President. In addition, the loss of wages would represent a considerable blow to the economy of the country. If that trend is allowed to continue we shall find ourselves in a very sorry state so far as the economic condition of the workers is concerned, and probably also so far as the economy of the country is concerned.
At 31st January last, there were 31,486 persons receiving unemployment benefit. Working on the basis on which I worked previously, we find that those persons receiving unemployment benefit would be losing some £441,000 a week in wages. I feel that I have said enough on that point to demonstrate quite clearly the serious situation which has developed as a result of unchecked unemployment.
A matter that gives me serious concern is the degree of mechanization which we are facing in Australia to-day, and the advent of automation. When we couple those factors with the unemployment figures to which I have just referred, it can be seen that we do not face a very happy situation. In fact, it is a situation which must cause grave concern, particularly to members of the trade union movement and supporters of ,the Australian Labour party. I appreciate that we cannot expect so many members on the Government side of the Parliament to be greatly sympathetic in this respect, because as yet they have never been particularly sympathetic towards the just claims of the workers for higher .margins, basic wage increases or improved working conditions. My experience in the arbitration court has taught me that that is so. Whenever we have gone to the court for an increased marginal rate, an increase ot the basic wage, or better working conditions, we have found that the employers have fought tooth and nail to defeat the workers and keep them from obtaining conditions that they were justly entitled to have.
On the subject of automation, I wish first to refer to a statement made by a gentleman by the name of Norbert Wiener, of the United States of America, in 1955. At that time, there was a very bad recession in employment in the United States. I may say that Mr. Wiener is regarded as one of the creators of automation. He said -
Let us remember that the automatic machine, whatever we think of any feelings it may have or may not have, is the precise economic equivalent of slave labour. Any labour which competes with slave labour must expect the economic conditions of slave labour. It is perfectly clear that this will produce an unemployment situation in comparison with which the present recession, and even the depression of the ‘thirties, will seem a pleasant joke.
If that gentleman’s forecast proved to be correct - and there is no doubt that it could prove to be so - and coupling the effect of automation and high mechanization with the already large degree of unemployment, I think it is time that we took stock of our position in this regard.
I do not wish to indulge in a long dissertation on the machines which have been introduced in various forms into industry throughout the world, but I feel it desirable that I should refer to a number of those which operate at present, in order to give an idea of the situation which we in Australia will have to face when automation makes greater inroads into our industry. For instance, the British Railways have installed an electronic computer which works out the wages of 10,000 employees at their locomotive works at Swindon. It is supposed to be the first machine of its kind in the world. It is capable of feeding, processing and punching up to 7,200 cards an hour, and it does quite a fair amount of work in other directions, dealing specifically with the payroll of the undertaking. Of course, I appreciate that there are some advantages to be gained from the introduction of automation, but I think that it is safe to say that the trade union movement does not oppose its introduction. We feel, however - and I think rightly so - that it should be controlled, as should also the situation which may flow from its use, so that employees who become redundant will be channelled successfully and usefully into other industries or other sections of particular industries.
I said a few moments ago that there were some advantages to be gained from the introduction of automation. In a certain factory in the United States, on an engine block line there are now 25 men where, formerly, there were 117. The reduction was brought about by the fact that the men now have only to attend to their machines and place their work accurately before the tools which are used to turn out the engine blocks. Another combination of machine tools, attended by nine men, drills the necessary holes in the crankshaft. Formerly that work was done by 39 men. On those two operations alone there has been a great saving in the labour force in that factory.
The Ford works and the Volkswagen plant in West Germany have turned over to automatic production. The Renault works in France is one instance in which an increased number of employees has resulted from the introduction of automation. 1 have related a number of cases in which employment has fallen as a result of the introduction of automation. It is only fair, therefore, that I should mention instances in which automation has increased employment. In the case I am about to mention, it is significant that productivity per man has risen considerably as well as overall productivity. In this factory, in 1945 there were 28,000 employees, who produced 12,171 vehicles. In 1955, after the introduction of automation, the factory employed 53,000 men, and its production had risen to 228,037 vehicles. It is significant to note that there was quite an increase in manpower between 1945 and 1955, and a considerable increase in the output per man. In 1945, it required a year’s work by two men to produce one vehicle, whereas in 1955 the output was four vehicles per man. That is a much higher productivity rate.
I turn now to an instance at Derby, in England, where a mica powder factory with a staff of 17 employees works on a 24-hour basis for seven days a week; in other words, it operates continuously with three shifts per day for each day of the week. Only five men are employed at a time. The seventeen employees of that factory produce 2,000 tons of mica powder per year. Prior to the introduction of automation the factory employed 50 workers, whose production was only 1,500 tons per year. Automation has achieved a considerable rise in production; in fact, the factory now produces 500 tons more mica powder each twelve months and the working staff has been decreased. 1 think it is quite safe to say that the individual worker looks at automation not so much from the point of view of how it affects other people’s jobs but of how it might affect him personally. He realizes that automation may make work generally less difficult and will probably increase safety. But whilst he realizes that those conditions might flow from the introduction of automation, he has in the back of his mind the thought that he has to maintain his wife and family over a period and that if he loses his job, due to automation, he may have difficulty in obtaining the wherewithal to maintain his wife and family at a reasonable standard of living during his period of unemployment.
Reverting to the motor industry, I mention that the Standard Motor Company in England decided to lay off some 11,000 employees. When that was done, there was a great upheaval by the workers at the factory and a strike of long duration ensued. At that time, the company was prepared, in order to bring about a situation that it desired, to spend £4,000,000 on the installation of equipment. One of the company’s spokesmen - I do not give him very much credit for making this statement, but it was attributed to him and I have no reason to doubt its veracity - said “We are not installing this equipment with the idea of employing the same number of men. We cannot carry people just for fun.” If employers, in the main, are going to adopt that attitude with the introduction of automation to an appreciable extent in this country we are in for a very bad time.
I am particularly concerned about the people who will become redundant in industry as a result of the introduction of automation, and I feel that we should do all that we can to re-train people who will become redundant in particular industries or sections of industries. The people about whom I am most concerned are those who are 35 years of age and over, because having attained that age a person cannot as easily adapt himself to a new industry or a new type of work as a younger person. First, he has not the same aptitude at that age to absorb education.
Some authorities have forecast that at some time in the future, a person’s working life will be twenty years. Men or women will commence work at 20 or 21 years of age. Up till that time they will be undergoing training to enable them to take their place in industry. Having commenced work at 20 or 2’1 years of age, they will work until they attain 40 or 41 years of age. They will not then be able to compete with younger people, and so will become redundant in their particular industry. If this forecast is vindicated, what is to be done to support young people during their training period, and those who, through age, become redundant in industry? Industry itself, or the government of the day, will have to finance the education of the young people, and consider the question of the livelihood of the older people between the time they become redundant and the time when they attain pensionable age. Although these are difficulties which may not confront us for some considerable time, we must prepare for them now and not wait until automation is upon us. We should learn the lesson that has been learned by other countries - to cushion the effects that automation will have on our economy. We must also have regard to the increased output that will flow from the introduction of automation into our. factories. However, the workers in those industries should share in the wealth that will result. Perhaps the amount that industry will save by the introduction of automation could be devoted to some form of technical education for the young people who will eventually enter industry.
I should like to mention to honorable senators the plight of waterside workers at the port of Mackay in Queensland where at one time some 700 members of the Waterside Workers Federation were engaged in handling sugar. Since the introduction of mechanization at that port, the number of employees has dropped to 80.
– Where have the remainder gone?
– That is a question which I cannot answer.
– For the honorable senator’s information, they are working on the sugar farms.
– Possibly the Minister has the answer to his own question, but I do not know where they are now employed. I am merely stating the position as it. exists at the port of Mackay which, prior to the introduction of mechanization on a large scale-, was- an A-grade port. It has been reduced to the status of a B-grade port and, as a consequence, the 80 employees still engaged there do not receive attendance money. I have been informed that the working week of some of those men has been reduced to only twelve hours.
– That is correct. When they are not engaged on the waterfront they work on the sugar farms.
– I do not know where they work when they are not employed on the waterfront; but that is the position–
– Surely the honorable senator does not suppose that those men live on the wages they receive for twelve hours’ work a week.
– No; I certainly do not. Nevertheless, that is the situation that exists at Mackay, and the report of the Australian Stevedoring: Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June, 1958, dealing with the bulk handling of sugar at Mackay,, supports my statement. It is significant to note also that the wages of waterside workers engaged, at A-grade ports were lower in 1957- 58 than in. 1956-57. The tendency is to introduce more arid more mechanical aids at the various ports in Australia, which results in the average weekly earnings of the waterside workers being: progressively reduced. Following the installation of wheat silos at Hobart,. Launceston and Devonport it is estimated that over a period of twelve months the waterside workers engaged at those ports will lose some £80,000 or £90,000 in wages. Unfortunately, the savings to the shipping companies that result from the installation of mechanization at the ports, are not passed on to the public. As an example, the operating cost of the “ North Esk “ for each trip to Hobart has been reduced by approximately £4,000. Where is that money going? It is reasonable to assume, since it is not being handed on to the public fir the form of lower prices for’ commodities; that it is going into the pockets, of’ the shipping monopolies- inside and outside; Australia.
Referring to another aspect associated wilh the onset, of automation, the Lyons company in England has installed a digital computor which computes the wages of 10,000 employees in approximately four hours, work which previously occupied 37 clerks full time. Another significant feature about the trends which have become evident throughout industry to-day is the possibility - in’ my opinion,, it is a distinct possibility - of an alarming decrease in the number of apprentices who will be taken into’ industry eventually. It should be appreciated that, with the introduction of automation, most industries will become automatic and as a result only technicians will be- required. The’ machinist as we know him to-day will no longer be required: There will certainly be openings for semiskilled employees and process workers,, but the apprentices will become a disappearing race.. It has. been suggested that automation can lead te a depression. This is probably prompted by the thought - it could well become; a reality - that automation will result in considerably increased production, indeed” in over-production, and it may be difficult to find markets for that surplus production.
Further, consideration will have to be given, to how the profits flowing into industry from the introduction of automation may be shared fairly with the workers. I venture the opinion that the workers will not. receive favorable consideration: from, the Arbitration Court, I say that because I believe that the. Arbitration Court is overlegalized,, if I may use that term; It has the workers, tied hand and foot. No longer are the workers free to take direct action if they feel that conditions are not what they ought to> be,, and, believe me., many conditions still leave much to be desired..
I feel that the- Arbitration Court will not give the workers the conditions and wages’ they should be allowed to enjoy with the introduction of automation.. In my opinion, with the introduction of automation, it will be necessary, if the workers are to have justice, to increase the basic wage substantially and to award a greatly increased marginal rate. Further, every worker should’ enjoy the right to long service leave, whether he be a permanent or casual employee, provided he has given service to an industry. It is extremely difficult to legislate for the casual worker who moves from- one industry to another, but where a man has been employed in a particular industry, whether it be on the waterfront, in primary production or in clerical work, and he has given a lifetime of service to that industry-; even though he may have worked: for more than one employer, he should be entitled to long service leave. He should be given long service leave for service to a particular industry rather than to a- particular employer.
I submit that it will also be necessary to reduce the working week to something below the present 40-hour standard which has operated in recent years. Again,, with a reduction of the working week, there must, of necessity, be an increase in recreational’ facilities for the filling in of the hours during which the people are not at work. In my opinion, it will be most essential to- pay attention to that aspect of our life for it must be realized that, when young people have a good deal of time on their hands they sometimes drift into undesirable areas or perhaps, into crime..
I feel that I have said enough on this subject to impress upon those present the fact that the legislators of the Commonwealth have a responsibility to see to it that something is done in the very near future to cushion the effects of automation on the working people of the Commonwealth. I submit that if some of the suggestions I have advanced are given serious consideration the Government cannot help but act in the- way in which the workers- of Australia would wish .them to act.
I suggest that the Government would be well advised to appoint a committee to study such new trends as mechanization of industry and automation. I know that a number of committees have been set up by several bodies, including the Australian Council of Trade Unions, to study trends in industry, but, whilst those committees serve a very good purpose, it must be appreciated that such bodies as the A.C.T.U. have not the power to legislate and therefore can do nothing to offset the adverse effects that can flow from the introduction of these new methods. I leave the matter there and trust that the Government will give consideration to some of the suggestions I have offered.
– First, I should like to associate myself with the expressions of loyalty to Her Majesty and to congratulate the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
The first sentence of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech reads -
You have been called together to deal with matters of national moment. The Parliament having been dissolved and a general election having occurred, the 23rd Parliament is now duly constituted.
I cannot think of a better time than the beginning of the first session of a new Parliament to bring to the notice of the Parliament a number of things which could be rectified because there are three full years in which that rectification may take place.
His Excellency then refers to the Australian National. Antarctic Research Expedition and to our stations at Mawson, Davis and Wilkes. For some time I have been of the opinion that instead of chartering Danish vessels to do our Antarctic work, we should build our own. In the last Parliament. Senator Laught had a similar idea and this afternoon he asked the question along those very lines. During the interval between the end of the last Parliament and the beginning of the new Parliament I obtained the relevant figures. I found that up to the end of. 1957-58 season we had spent, no less than £310,000 in charter payments for the use of the two Danish vessels “Kista Dan” and “Thala Dan”. This season we are using “ Thala Dan “ and “Magga Dan” at a charter rate of £652 a day. This works out very expensively - at something like £1’70;000 or £180,000 in a season. When this season’s charter has been completed’ we shall have spent no less than half a million pounds in this way. I suggest that we build our own ships, thus giving employment to Australian shipbuilders and seafarers. In the event of war; or something else, preventing the Danes from sending us Antarctic vessels we should at present be quite unable to service our stations in the Antarctic. As to whether Australians can operate Antarctic ships-, I need only mention such names as Sir Hubert
Wilkins, Captain John King Davis, Sir Douglas Mawson and many Australians who have played , their part in that region. In my opinion, the economics of the matter are compelling and it should be thoroughly investigated.
His Excellency spoke at length on the subject of defence. I gather that honorable senators who took part in the recent “ Operation Shop Window “ were impressed by the efficient manner in which the fleet was conducted, and the apparent knowledge of modern methods of submarine hunting and naval warfare generally. It would seem that honorable senators were especially impressed by the Navy’s skill at submarine hunting. As an old submariner I would warn them of the danger of over-optimism in this matter. No matter how efficient our surface vessels may be, the submarine will always have a very good chance of sinking ships and not being sunk itself. Sound, which travels about five times as fast under water as it does through the air, is the surface vessel’s basic aid in finding the submarine, but no matter how good radar, sonar or asdic may be it is often possible to throw it off the scent. Shoals of fish can interfere with detection. A thermal layer of heat generated above the surface of the water will often bend the radar beam as it goes out. Similar thermal layers may be found 100 feet or 200 feet below the surface. The noise of a submarine may be lost by its getting in the wake of a ship. It may also go at full speed backwards through its own wake, thus muffling its echo. There are many ways in which the submarine can compete with the surface vessel. That was demonstrated very plainly during the last war.
Under the general heading of defence must come the very necessary work of hydrography. Russia is said to have some 500 modern submarines. Recently we learnt of an atomic submarine going right under the ice cap and being able to dive to far greater depths than we had ever imagined possible. I have no doubt that in years to come, with improvements in structure, the submarine will be able to dive deeper and deeper. Diving bells have, over the years, shown that because of their construction, they can go to very much greater depths than can the submarine. I remind honorable senators that 70 per cent, of the earth’s surface is covered with water, but that only about 20 per cent, or 25 per cent, of that tremendous area has been properly surveyed. The position is especially bad in the waters around Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea. Hydrographic knowledge is very important in naval warfare. It is of value to submarines, especially, to know precisely what is below. Our seas contain tremendous mountain ranges, deeps and quiescent volcanoes, but we know very little about them. One can visualize submarines of the future being able to hide in the canyons and caves of these mountains. Such a prospect is not really far fetched. It will probably become a reality within the lifetime of many who are here to-night. I mention these things to show the connexion between defence and hydrography.
We have recently discovered something of great interest in the Pacific, just south of the equator. We know that a current flows from east to west, from South America towards Australia and the adjacent islands, at about 2 knots, covering a distance of 48 miles each day. We now know that 400 or 500 hundred feet below it there is a strong easterly stream. This sort of knowledge is of extreme importance to the submarine commander.
What is the position in Australia at the present time? The only vessel now available for this work is the old “ Warrego “. A great fuss was made recently of the small survey carried out between northern Australia and Timor. It was described as a wonderful piece of work. It was carried out by “ Warrego “ and two general service ships. They were quite unsuitable and the work was carried out with great difficulty. Neither ship was fitted with an up-to-date echo sounder - not to. mention other modern aids. I understand that Russia has fourteen survey vessels which are really floating hydrographic and scientific establishments. They possess laboratories and are engaged in oceanography all over the world, especially in Australian waters, close to our shores. Indeed, we have Dutch and Japanese surveying teams here as well. They probably know far more about our own waters than we do at the present time.
Let me run briefly through what is going on in Australia and New Zealand at present. In Australia, the Royal Australian Navy has, in theory, accepted responsibility for coastal and ocean surveys. A certain amount of work is being done by State governments and some is being done by private companies. In Papua and New Guinea, the Royal Australian Navy will not have anything to do with this work, but we find that two or three naval officers have been seconded to do work up there. There are no operations going on at all in the Solomons and the New Hebrides. As far as oceanic areas and oceanography are concerned, no surveys are being undertaken, but the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is doing a certain amount of co-ordination of oceanography. Nothing is going on in Antarctica. In New Zealand, only one vessel is operating. lt has been loaned to New Zealand by the Royal Australian Navy. There is a Royal Navy supervisor of the survey there. 1 suggest that the only organization suitable lor or capable of carrying out hydrographic surveys is the Royal Australian Navy, but at the present time its capabilities are restricted through inadequate numbers of survey personnel. Personnel are continually being changed, due to naval requirements. The men themselves find very little opportunity for advancement in this type of work. I do not mean only the officers, but also those in non-commissioned ranks - petty officers, warrant officers and so on. Then we have obsolete, expensive and unsuitable operational units - to wit, the “ Warrego “ and her two tenders. There is, in some cases, a complete lack of modern equipment Another difficulty is’ the absence of a comprehensive policy. The Air Force takes photographs, the Army has land surveyors running around the place, there is the national mapping set-up in Canberra, and there is also the hydrographic office, run by the Royal Australian Navy in Sydney, which is falling apart.
The Naval Board has been, I think, completely disinterested in this work for many years. It is interested in defence; it is not interested in hydrographic work at all. Consequently there is no cohesion. I think of men such as Commander Wheatley, Commander Hunt, Commander Little, Commander Oom and, recently, Captain Tancred. All of them passed through this branch. They would have liked to stay in it, because they found the work interesting, but after a time they were shot down to Melbourne to be Director of Reserves or to take up some other post. There should be a proper survey service which people enter as cadets or as ordinary seamen, learn the job and stay in it so that they can be of value to the country. We should do what the geodetic service in the United States does. We should copy the good examples to be found in other parts of the world instead of carrying on in the way we are doing in Australia.
I will not suggest that a Senate select committee be set up, although many committees have been mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. However, with so many committees being set up, I do not think it would hurt us to have one more to go into this matter and find out what can be done from the naval hydrographic angle in Australia. The committee could also consider what could be done in Papua and New Guinea, where the coastal surveys are even worse than they are in Australia. Prior to 1914, when the Germans controlled the eastern part of New Guinea and the islands to the east, they commenced surveys up there. Their surveys were very good indeed but, unfortunately, they covered only about 5 per cent, of the territory, with the result that when you are up there, you sail by guess and by God. You are not sure whether a line on the chart is the coastline or not. I suggest that a thorough investigation be made to see if it is possible to set up a proper hydrographic survey unit in Australia. Perhaps to that there could be tacked- on later a fisheries survey - something which I have been trying to get for so long. The two things could be made to run together in the same way as they do in the United States.
I notice that the Government intends to set up a committee of inquiry to consider the introduction of a decimal coinage. I hope that we can look forward to a committee of inquiry to consider the introduction here of the metric system of measures to take the place of the rod, pole and perch rubbish that we have been trying to drum into our children for years.
– Would not that be included in the scope of the decimal coinage committee.
– I doubt it
– I agree with you, but 1 thought that might be included in the terms of reference of the suggested1 committee.
– lt is only the decimal coinage system that is mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. A little further on in the Speech, His Excellency went on to speak about the development of our natural resources. That is something, of course, that I have been suggesting to the Government for years. I have been suggesting that our natural resources, which include fish, should be tapped and used to far better advantage than we are using them at present. A .great song and dance has been made recently about the folding up of a trawler company in Sydney. It folded up only because the State Government, by putting on a 10 per cent, surcharge, made it almost impossible for the company to continue. Our fishermen in Queensland had’ to put up with a Mi per cent, surcharge on all fish handled by the fish board there.
I was very pleased when, the year before last, the Government, after the sale of the Whaling Commission, established a fund of £880,000 for fishery surveys and for longterm loans to fishermen. At any rate, I understood that the fund was to be established for that purpose. Certainly a survey trawler, working out of Port Adelaide, is going to operate in the Bight, but my interests, of course, are nearer home - up in the Coral Sea. I am still hoping that some survey work will be done up there. However, I want to deal now with the question of long-term loans to fishermen. Some time ago, we had a very bright lad who bought an old ship called the “ Rican Star “ in Sydney. She was fitted with an excellent refrigeration plant and had refrigerated space for 480 tons of fish. Not only was she well fitted in that respect, but she hadan emergency plant for use in case the first plant broke down. She had magnificent engines. After she had been passed for survey he took her up to Hervey Bay where he worked in conjunction with 40 prawners. It was something that we had wanted for very long. The prawners were able to stay out in the bay. They transferred their prawns to that ship, which was able to take 480 tons at a time. The prawns were then taken to the coast and landed into cold1 stores.
A little while afterwards this lad came to me and told me that he wanted capital for repairs. I said, “ Certainly. Write to the Director of Fisheries and state your case, and I will write to the Minister. I am sure that you will get something from the longterm loan fund for fishermen that has been set up.” The request was refused, even though this is one of ‘the forms of assistance for somebody willing to take a risk for which we have been waiting. 1 think the Government made a big mistake in this case. This man will become bankrupt, the ship will be laid up, and we will lose that excellent opportunity to build up this industry. What this man has been guarding against has been the loss of his cargo through deterioration. The other day in Sydney I heard about two fishermen, one of whom returned with one ton of mullet and one with half a ton of bream. When they drew alongside the wharf and opened the boxes, they found that the whole of the fish was sour because they did not have refrigeration and because they could not carry sufficient ice for an out-size catch. I felt very sorry about the action of the Government in relation to this man in Queensland, because I had advised him and told him all about this wonderful fund. I hope the Government will give more consideration to such people when they apply for assistance.
His Excellency said that the Government had given substantial ass;stance to the Australian shipbuilding industry. I should like to bring to the notice of the Government the position in regard to two vessels, the “ Monowai “ and “ Wanganella “, which are running across the Tasman to New Zealand from Australia. I recall when the “ Monowai “ was named “ Razmak “ and was on the Bombay-Aden run. That was over 30 years ago, so I should say that she is now 34 or. 35 years old. The “ Wanganella “ is much the same age; I can recall her being on the Australian coast over 30 years ago. Those two ships cannot cope with the work that is offering across the Tasman. In any case, very soon they will have to be scrapped. Because of the trouble the companies have had with the loading and unloading of cargo, I doubt very much whether they will replace those vessels. I am sure the Union Steam Ship Company will not replace the “ Monowai “. These companies wait till the last minute before they inform intending passengers that they cannot carry them and allow them to book on overseas vessels which come in under our navigation laws with special permission.
I submit to the Government that it would not be going too far to suggest that the Australian National Line should think in terms of replacing that service with Australian national ships. To do that would not be too bad. It would give work to our shipyards, in the first instance, and to our Australian seamen. In any case, the “ Wanganella “ already carries Australian seamen. In addition, it would provide a good service to the travelling public and would prevent the need to use overseas ships on the run.
His Excellency also referred to substantial progress in the development of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Substantial progress is being made, but apathy exists in regard to hydrography. The “ Lauribada” under Commander Little, which is the only survey vessel up there, has been laid up for six months. In addition they have two most unsuitable tenders This survey work has been taken over by the Administration and is being run as a civil undertaking; it has nothing to do with the Royal Australian Navy. But we must have some co-ordinated scheme, the same as they have in other countries.
Further on in his Speech, His Excellency referred to social services. I have another suggestion to make to the Government. I refer to the case of an age pensioner who wishes to do a little work and yet retain his pension. Let us suppose that he starts work on 17th March in any year. His year of income will run to 17th March in the following year. The consequence is that the entitlements of age pensioners are assessed as at different dates. I have had a number of pensioners come to me and say, “ Please explain what on earth they are talking about “. It is necessary to go through a long rigmarole to try to explain what the department is doing. I suggest to the Government that it might be very much easier from the viewpoint of departmental administration and in order to save confusion, if the assessment was made for the ordinary financial year from 1st July to 30th June. I see nothing wrong with that idea.
I should like to congratulate the Government upon having brought Dr. Metcalf to Australia to investigate the: work of, and to help, not only the Australian National Library but also the various libraries throughout the country. Dr. Metcalf has helped us in the National Library particularly. Having been a member of the Parliamentary Library Committee for the last nine years, I am seised of the importance of that committee. Some people who have not been a member of it seem to think that it is just another committee, but it is one of the most important committees that we have in Canberra because it is dealing with things that will be going on 100 years hence.
There are over half a million books in the National Library. There is an intake of some 30,000 books every year, quite apart from the intake of pictures, works of art and archives in addition to the work of the film unit, micro-film records, newspapers and so on. We have, too, the Nan Kivell collection, which is worth approximately £250;000. Many of the articles in the possession of the National Library are unique and if lost might take 50, 60 or 100 years to replace by gradual collection. The reason I am mentioning this is that the Nan Kivell collection, for example, some years ago was lodged in the basement of the Department of Health and was open to fire, flood and burglary. Because we have no home for it, no real National Library building, there is material all over Canberra. That silly little doll’s house next to the Patent Office has not room for a tent. Things became so bad at one stage that it. was necessary to get three Nissen huts, built during the war, and place them in their present position where, according to the fire authorities, they are still a fire risk. I know that, because I have discussed this matter with them.
I say very firmly to the Government that the time is long overdue for some decision to be made about whether we are to have a National Library. If things are allowed to continue as they are, the task of the catalogue section will become exceedingly difficult. As it is, I do not know how the 47 girls who are in the section are able to find anything. I have never been able to discover how they find material. People come along and ask for this, that and the other publication, and they might be. in that little doll’s house I mentioned, down in the annexe, or perhaps on the roof of the Transport Branch for all I know.
When we do build, let us build for 25 years hence and not for two or three years hence. Let us build a library that will fit into what some day will be one of the most beautiful capitals in the world. Perhaps that will not occur in my lifetime, but eventually Canberra will be one of the most outstanding capitals of the world. It will be unique. Even if we spent only £1,000,000 this year, we should make a beginning. At least let us provide some racks in order to get the books off the floor. I feel very strongly about this matter and I trust that the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), who is at the table, will mention it to the Government. One of the main troubles, of course, is that there seems to be no statutory authority under which we can shelter. We are just sort of pushed on to the Prime Minister’s Department. Until such time as we have a ministry under whose jurisdiction we come, there is little we can do. We do not come under the Department of the Interior.
– We come under the Parliament, do we not?
– Yes, and as a member of the Parliament I am saying what I can about the matter. But there is nobody to whom we can go. The matter seems to rest with the Prime Minister’s Department, but of course that department does not wish to be saddled with additional expenditure, although £1,000,000, in a Budget of £1.300,000,000 is not much to ask.
– At present, you get money from the Prime Minister’s Department, do you not?
– Yes, for current usage. Whenever it is decided to build the library, I hope that Dr. Metcalf’s advice will be considered carefully before the matter is finalized.
Recently, I went through the Academy of Science building that is being erected in Canberra. It is going to be an extraordinarily fine place. It is really beautiful inside and is most unusual. If we could get a national library along the same modern, uptodate lines - I do not necessarily mean of the same curved shape - it would be a great adjunct to Canberra. I support the motion.
– I shall commence as Senator Kendall concluded. 1 shall support the motion, but having done so, I wish to proceed to congratulate a honorable senator who has been elevated to the Commonwealth Ministry. I refer to Senator John Gorton who, to me, did not appear to be in the queue. However, he apparently was in it, and he has been appointed Minister for the Navy. I am quite sure that, with his background, he will do a substantial job. One of the mysteries of governments - it is applicable not only to this Government but to all governments - is that when a government gets a man with a tremendous record in the Air Force, it makes him Minister for the Navy. Whether that is an indication of the days that are to come, with atomic power and all the rest, with the Navy under the water and aircraft so far above the earth that they cannot be perceived, I do not know, but I sincerely hope that Senator Gorton will play his part in helping the defence of Australia. I feel sure that he will. 1 should like also to convey to Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan my congratulations. Sir Neil had the extraordinary experience, for a member of the Liberal party, to serve under an Australian Country party leader. That is now history. 1 can remember Sir Neil being Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber to Senator Sir Walter Cooper, with the rank and file consisting of Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin. There has been an extraordinary change.
– A change for the better?
– I do not know, but it is extraordinary that three members of the then Opposition - a Country party Senator and two Liberal party senators - should now be surrounded by so many colleagues as there are on the Government side to-night. I wish to thank Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan for his period as Leader of the Government in the Senate. I feel that he always tried, so far as was within his power, and having regard to the direction and greater pressure from the rank and file, to give the Opposition as reasonable a go as we gave him when there were three senators on his side of the chamber and 33 on ours. I hope that his elevation will give him and his wife great happiness.
To-night, 1 want to deal with two matters which, though simple, are nevertheless fundamental. They tie in together and are inextricably bound. I refer to our lack of housing and our unemployment. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) cannot be proud of his record while there is unemployment in Australia and while there is a lack of houses. So I put it to him as a direct personal challenge that it is no good parading in this chamber, or before the country, as a successful Minister of a successful Government unless he can solve the unemployment problem and the problem of obtaining houses for all the people who need them.
Senator Kendall spoke earlier tonight of building a library 25 years ahead of present expectations.
– It should be 100.
– Let us be modest. To look 25 years ahead should be the standard for all government planning. On many occasions I heard the late Mr. Ben Chifley, who led the Australian Labour party, give great credit to industrial organizations of this country because he could see how far ahead they were planning. This is a fundamental thing in government. Senator Kendall has applied it to the building of libraries. I want to apply it to something more fundamental, but just as important in every possible way - the housing problem that confronts Australia. It is a problem that has to be approached in a big way and with wide vision, because unless we plan to solve the housing problem in a manner that carries us far into the future, we shall find that each year and every year, and for as long as any of us is in this Senate, the problem of young people and migrants wanting homes will always be with us.
I put this problem to the Government as one of the easier ones for governments to solve. I do not think that the supplying of houses for the people of Australia is such a tremendous problem. On the contrary, I think that it should be No. 1 on the agenda and that it should be relatively easy to overcome. But what do we find in relation to the housing situation in Australia? We find that we built 25 per cent. more homes back in 1951 than we built in 1957-58. There, straight away, is a condemnation of this Government. We could build 84,000 homes back in 1951. Admittedly, that rate of construction was achieved on a basis of planning laid by the Chifley Government. Construction was carried on and developed to the fullest extent, so that 84,000 homes could be built. But we find that in 1957-58, only 69,000 homes were built, representing a drop of 25 per cent.
If that drop of 25 per cent, had been paralleled by a drop in demand of 25 per cent., that would have been logical, but the demand for housing is increasing and must automatically increase as time goes on. There is an extraordinary set-up in this country. As Senator Kendall has said, we are on the threshold of an advancement which is beyond the imagination and comprehension of any one in this Senate to-night. If we could come back to this Australia of ours 25 years from now we would see a country so greatly developed that we would be amazed by what had happened. So surely we should try to do something to assist Australia’s advancement. The fundamental thing in a modern, civilized community such as ours is that there shall be available homes for all the people who need them. Not only that, we should make it easy and simple for people who want to acquire homes to do so.
I think one thing is always forgotten in the compilation of housing statistics. I was an alderman of the Sydney City Council, where I served as I am serving in the Federal Parliament. Actually, in the city council, I served in opposition for thirteen long years; I have not sat in opposition here for so long. Naturally, I love the city of Sydney - the greatest city in the world. There is no possible question about that. It is blessed by nature, and despite all the efforts of governments and councils as well, it remains the loveliest city in the world.
– Do they play Rugby League there?
– Yes, they play it very well. There is a factor, because of the great age of the capital cities of Australia, that is not usually realized by those who compile statistics in relation to homes. I quote the position in Sydney, because that is’ my (town; I live there. In the words of St. Paul, 1 am a citizen of no mean city. That ls .Sydney. .1 should say that in Sydney there are 40,000 homes that are unfit for human habitation, but people are forced to continue to live in them. 1 know of homes in areas -close .to .the city of .Sydney that are over 100 years old, and people are still living in them. They have to live in them because there is no alternative accommodation available. So, in Sydney, in addition to the acknowledged shortage of homes must be added another 40,000 homes that are unfit for human habitation. I got these figures from the city health officer, whom I know and with whom I worked. There are 40,000 homes so bad structurally that they should be condemned. I just mention this aspect of the matter in passing. We have an obligation to the .people who arc living in those homes. I do not know the extent to which this may be applicable in Melbourne, because that city is not so old as Sydney. But in my quiet wanderings in Melbourne I have seen many homes that are unfit for human habitation. This problem exists in every capital city.
In addressing ourselves to the housing problem, we must realize that we have a tremendous responsibility to re-house people who .are living in substandard homes. While this should be one of the simplest problems of government, it is one of the most important. To-:day, there are 21,000 families registered with the New South Wales Housing Commission waiting for ‘homes. Therefore, it is of no use for the Government to say that this is a passing crisis. It is of no use for the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to say what he was reported to have said months ago when things were more exciting than they are now. According to this newspaper cutting, months old, Mr. Menzies, with the air of old Squire Stayput, looked over the estate and found that all was well. The estate was Australia which, he said, was a great estate in good repair, immensely developed, well managed, and respected and trusted throughout the world.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad to hear a solitary, “ Hear, hear! “ How could the estate be in good repair when incredible problems face so many people in Australia to-day? Apart from the 80,000 people who cannot ‘get work, there are those who by right, not privilege, are entitled to a ‘home to live in but cannot get one. Yet the right honorable gentleman claims that the estate is being well managed! The New South Wales Housing Commission has a waiting list of 21,000 for homes, and 200 applications per week are coming in. The New South Wales co-operative building societies have applications from 20,000 people who are waiting for homes. There are 1,400 couples being married every week and in addition, coming back to one of the things that is near to my heart, on the Commonwealth’s figures there are approximately 115,000 migrants coming to Australia each year. My mathematics -have never been good, but I should say that approximately 2,000 a week are coming in. We do not want them to stay in Commonwealth hostels, and we and they do not want to stay in them. So we must make plans to house not only those who are on the waiting list in all States and the 1,400 couples who are being married every week, but also the 2,000 migrants who are coming in every week under a scheme of which I completely approve. To my mind, there is no reason why the intake of migrants should be restricted to 1 15,000 a year if we in Australia can prepare to accept them, to house them and to give them jobs, because the development of this country depends not only on the Australian-born but also on immigrants. We talk about our relationship with Indonesia. The basis of our security is a strong population. That can be brought about only by a strong immigration policy. Yet how can we bring migrants to this country with a good conscience when there are 81,000 people unemployed - that was the number in January - ;and, there is a back-lag of housing? The solution of those two problems rests with governments. This housing problem -has faced us since the conclusion of the war. It is not a problem that is insuperable or one that cannot be handled; it is one within the grasp of governments. I do not place on the federal Government all the blame for the situation, but I say that, as it is the holder of the purse strings, the federal Government has the greatest responsibility. In co-operation with States, we should be able to solve this problem.
In 1957-58, home building was 25 per cent, less than in 1’95 1 . The Australian Council of Trade Unions has made a very close survey of this problem - as have many other people - and it says that the physical resources of this country could instantly enable the building of 80,-000 homes a year, rising to a limit of . 100,000 homes a year. Take my word for it, they all will be needed, as I see it, and as I hope supporters of the Government see it, if this country continues to develop atits present rate!
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 regret very much that I must occupy the time of the Senate at this late hour, but I must mention the case of an ex-serviceman who purchased a home through the War Service Homes Division in the suburb of Pimlico, Townsville. As the Ministerwho administers the division is in the chamber, he would like to be acquainted with the facts of this case so that he will be quite clear as to where he stands. On or about 20th October, 1954, the then Minister in charge of war service homes failed to exercise reasonable judgment in granting an ex-serviceman in Queensland a loan under section 20 of the War Service Homes Act tobuy a home at Pimlico, Townsville, when such home was riddled with borers and, further, thathe failed to exercise sufficient control over officers of the War Service Homes Division in their attempts to eradicate borers from the home from March, 1955, until the present time.
The change I have detailed contains two complaints. I shall deal with the first of them, in connexion with which I have evidence to submit. The evidence is, in fact, the statement of the Minister himself. May I say in explanation, Mr. President, that this matter was first raised in the Parliament in another place.Recently, I had correspondence with the Minister about the matter and that correspondence continued until it was closed by the Minister who, in his final letter,referredmetoaprevious communication in which he indicated that nofurther negotiationswould be entered into with respect to the matter..
The facts are that on 20thOctober, 1954, the ‘ex-serviceman was granted a Joan by the War Service HomesDivision inQueensland toenable him to purchase a home for himself, his wife and his children. The Minister, in writing, indicated to me that prior to the loan being granteda technical officer of the division inspectedthe home and decided that it was suitable -security for the loan andthatthere wasno sign of borer infestation. Although, as 1 have indicated, the presentMinisterdid ‘not administer the division in 1954, theinitial offence in this case has continued and -become worse -as time has progressed.If thetechnical officer had made a thorough examination of the home in 1954, he would have found that the housewas infested with borers. They werein the trees felled bythe timber getters; theywere in the timber that was processed by ‘the millers; they were in the timber used by thecarpenters in constructing thehome and they, andtheir eggs, were present in their ‘millions inthe home when thetechnicalofficer examined the ‘building <to see whether it was sufficient security on which to make an advance.
The Minister may ask, “ Where is your evidence of that? “ Mr. President, I have knowledge of some timbers inQueensland, and I am sure that if the division had asked an experienced miller, a millhand, a carpenter or even an apprentice carpenter to inspect the home to ascertain whether it contained borers or borers’ eggs, he would have said, “’ Do not advance any money on that home “. However, the advance was approved and the ex-serviceman became the owner of the home in March, 1955. Four months later the exserviceman made anexamination of the home and found that it was infested withborers. I produce a piece ofwood as an exhibit for thebenefitof honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. Thisexhibit. Mr. President, doesnot contain borers or borers eggs.On the surface the timber appears to be fairlysound, but inside it contains as many holesas a wire door. To prove howrotten this piece of wood is, I now break it apart. Honorable senators can see the dust thatcomes from it. This piece of (timber has been taken from the ex-serviceman’s home and is a sample of the timber of which the home has been constructed. Perhaps that is sufficient evidence to deal with the first complaint.
In 1955, the borers were doing well, attending pyjama parties like the young folk on the Gold Coast, and no doubt the young male borers with sharp teeth were chasing the wingless female borers. Goodness knows what was going on! When the exserviceman became aware of the condition of the timber in his home, he contacted the War Service Homes Division and was told that he should take up the matter with the Forestry Department. Incidentally, I understand that there is a Commonwealth Forestry Department and a Queensland State Forestry Department which is a subdepartment of the Lands Department. I am not clear to which department the exserviceman was referred, although it was stated in the correspondence to be the Forestry Department. When officers of that department inspected the home they found that the timber was riddled with borers in much the same way as the exhibit I have produced. Apparently no action of any consequence was taken by officers of the Forestry Department. They simply replaced some timber here and there.
In April, 1956, seventeen months after the home was purchased, the ex-serviceman was told by the division that the vendor had agreed to replace some of the timber in the home. I understand that was done. However, the house was in such a dreadful state that had the vendor replaced all the exterior boards of the home that were infested with borers he would have erected completely new walls.
The borers’ eggs are hidden in the timber and if the infestation is to be discovered one must examine closely the ends of each board. When the house is lined and painted, unless the technical officer prises off some of the boards and examines them closely, he cannot find out whether they contain borers. In 1957, three years after the house was purchased, the ex-serviceman advised the War Service Homes Division that there were borers in the house, and there has been no replacement of boards since 1956. He also insisted that the borers were still in a thriving condition in his home.
In February, 1958 - three years and four months after the house was purchased - the
War Service Homes Division was advised that a few borers were left. Then, for some reason or other, the War Service Homes Division employed a well-known company which is experienced in fumigating homes to exterminate pests, to have a bang-tail muster of the borers in the home. Everybody in the suburb knew that this pestexterminating company was wasting its time in going to the house.
Let me point out here that it was found that some of the homes around Brisbane were infested with European borers and in those cases the State government, with financial assistance to the extent of £150,000 provided by the Commonwealth, undertook the extermination of the borers in those homes. No fewer than 2,634 homes in Brisbane have been fumigated. The occupants of an affected home are accommodated in another street, the fumigators place a plastic envelope over the home and get to work and the home is left under the plastic covering for two or three days. This has been found to be the only effective way of killing borers in a home.
In March, 1958 - three years and five months after the house was purchased - there was a further inspection by a technical officer of the Department of Works. I take it he was an officer of the Commonwealth Department of Works. He found that borers were in the home. The exserviceman was in a helpless condition. His home was being eaten down around him. He appealed to the War Service Homes Division which advanced him money to treat a few more boards in the home. The money provided was not sufficient to enable the work to be completed; it was enough to pay for only portion of the job, with the result that boards were left in other sections of the home in a borer-infested condition.
I raised the matter with the Minister, who said, “ That is right, but this man did not make a claim under the insurance provisions of the Act within two years and therefore we are not going to do anything more “. He closed the matter there and then, ls that the way to treat an ex-serviceman who is trying to provide a home for himself, his wife and children? I say that, as an exserviceman, he was entitled to the benefit of all the knowledge relating to insurance and general provisions of the act which the War Service Homes Division had. 1 am now looking at the Minister’s colleagues who sit behind him. 1 know if any one of them had such a case, the Minister would instruct his officers to clear the man’s home of borers immediately and report back to him when the job was completed. It would be more than the officer’s job was worth to neglect to carry out that instruction. In this case, 1 say that absolute inefficiency was shown by the officer who carried out the inspection in 1954, but that does not absolve the Minister because he is the chief administrator of the War Service Homes Division and must face up to the charge I have made. He has been the Minister in charge of this division while its officers have been fooling around in their ineffectual attempts to exterminate the borers in this home.
I leave the matter there. Five years after the home was purchased, many of the boards in this man’s home are in a borerinfested condition. These borers are alive, and their teeth are sharp.
– I knew nothing of this case until Senator Benn brought it forward, but it presents one of those problems that a reasonably sympathetic Minister and a reasonably sympathetic government should have no trouble in overcoming. When I was the Minister in charge of the War Service Homes Division, I had a slogan which I often repeated. I had forgotten it until Senator Benn’s speech recalled it. That is the only reason why I rose to speak. When my secretary or the head of the division brought a case to me, I would say, “ You know the slogan - fix it
There is no reason why the exserviceman should be punished in this way. I think that Senator Benn has made a complete case. With the social development in Australia in this day and age, this sort of thing should be quickly remedied. It is somewhat similar to the recent immigration case in which a Chinese who had been in Australia for eleven years was picked up in the markets. If the full rigour of the law had been applied, this man should have been deported, but the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) said that as the police report on the man showed that he had done no harm and that he had played his part in Australia, he should be allowed to stay. I think that the Minister in charge of War
Service Homes (Senator Spooner) should set out to do what is fair for the exserviceman. The Minister should see to it that the borers are cleared out of the home. Such an attitude would be good not only for the government itself but also for the country.
– I know that I should remember all these cases and be prepared to answer comment on them in detail, but there are a great number of cases such as this. I remember something of this matter, but, if I am in error in anything that I say, I shall correct that error subsequently.
My recollection of this matter runs something like this. First, it was not a home that was built by the War Service Homes Division; it was not a home in the erection of which the War Service Homes Division had any say or share of responsibility. This home had been built by some one else. The eligible ex-serviceman saw it, liked it and wanted to buy it, and the vendor and purchaser came to terms.
The purpose of the inspection by the official of the War Service Homes Division is primarily to satisfy himself that there is adequate security for the amount which the division advances. I think it would be difficult to find grounds for the contention that the inspection is an automatic certification that the house is in first-class order in every respect.
– It is a certification that the house is worth the money lent on it.
– It is a certification that the house is good security for the £2,750 or whatever amount is advanced. Strictly speaking, I think that is where it begins and ends. The inspection is made for the sole purpose of ascertaining whether there is adequate security for the money advanced.
But that is not the way in which the War Service Homes Division operates. The War Service Homes Division does not stick to the strict letter of the law. Although I cannot give all the circumstances offhand, I do think that Senator Benn’s remarks are evidence that there was both sympathetic administration by the division and an endeavour to help this man who had apparently made a bad bargain.
Ohe thing that is missing from my chain of recollection is the request to what Senator Benn called the Forestry Department. 1 have a feeling that in Queensland there is legislation relating to borer infestation and that, under that legislation, when borers are discovered in a dwelling or a building, there is a statutory obligation to get in touch with this Queensland authority. That authority makes an inspection and orders vendors and purchasers to do what is right between themselves. I may be wrong on that point, but there was some good reason why the Queensland authority was brought in. When it was brought in, certain things were ordered to be done, and were done. Not only was that done, but also, as Senator Benn himself has said, the War Service Homes Division arranged a subsequent inspection of the dwelling and, to the best of my recollection, provided funds for the applicant to make repairs in order to make good the damage that had been occasioned.
I think that the point that is being contested at the moment is whether the insurance covered this damage, and I hope that no honorable senator on the other side of the chamber will challenge the sympathetic administration of the War Service Homes
Division. I believe that the division strains, in every way it can, to make sure that the ex-serviceman gets a good deal in all these transactions. What has arisen in this case, so far as my recollection serves me, is a claim to put the whole of the responsibility upon the War Service Homes Division, although the division, having gone through the matter and considered it in detail, does not think it equitable that that responsibility should rest on its shoulders. Its efforts in having inspections made and advice tendered, and in getting the Queensland authority in, and lending money to enable repairs to be carried out, are, in its judgment, equitable.
However, in view of what the honorable senator has said, I will get the file tomorrow, and will go through it myself during this week. After I have done that, I will let the honorable senator know whether I think that I should go back on the decision. I assure him that I shall approach the matter with a completely open mind and not on the basis that because I had said “ No “ I cannot go back on that and subsequently say “ Yes “. I will have a good look at all aspects of the matter and will let the honorable senator know my conclusions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.53 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 February 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1959/19590224_senate_23_s14/>.