15th Parliament · 1st Session
The House of Representatives, on the 30th June, 1938, adjourned until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, and notified by him to each honorable member. The House met pursuant to such notification.
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills re ported : -
Ashmore and Cartier Islands Acceptance Bill 1938.
Canned Fruits Export Control Bill 1938.
Canned Fruits Export Charges Bill 1938.
Census and Statistics Bill 1938.
Citrus Fruit Bounty Bill 1938.
Dairy Produce Export Control Bill 1938.
Dried Fruits Export Control Bill 1938.
Empire Air Service (England to Australia) Bill 1938.
Excise Tariff 1938.
Geneva Convention Bill 1938.
Income Tax Collection Bill 1938.
Meat Export Control Bill 1938.
National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill 1938.
National Health and Pensions Insurance (Employers’ Contributions) Bill 1938.
National Health and Pensions Insurance (Employees’ Contributions) Bill 1938.
New Guinea Loan Guarantee Bill 1938.
Passports Bill 1938.
Scat of Government Acceptance Bill 1938. Supply Bill (No. 1) 1938.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).I have to inform the House that I have received from Mrs. Barnes, widow of the late Honorable John Barnes, a letter thanking the House for its resolution of sympathy.
– I desire to . announce to the House that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, Lord Gowrie, will return to Australia on Saturday, the 24th September, and will assume the administration of the Government of the Commonwealth on that day.
– by leave - I had intended to-day to make a statement on the international situation generally, with special relation to the acute crisis which has arisen over Czechoslovakia. The negotiations following upon Mr. Chamberlain’s visit to Herr Hitler and the subsequent agreement between the British and French Cabinets upon a policy for the peaceful settlement of the Sudeten question are still proceeding, and have, at the moment, reached such a delicate stage that a premature statement, or even a loose word, might well imperil the peace of the world. In the circumstances, I feel that I cannot, and ought not, speak. I hope that I shall soon be in a position to make a full statement.
- hy leaveThe Opposition had intended that a full statement should be made and discussed to-day on the matter referred to by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). However, the Labour party’s policy in regard to international affairs is well known, and there is not, nor will there be, any wavering in regard to it; it stands. We are advocates and supporters of peace. Therefore, we agree that nothing should be done or said to-day which might prejudice the efforts being made to secure a peaceful solution of the problem.
– In view of the decision of the Government not to conduct a debate on international affairs at this stage can the Prime Minister give the House an assurance that full and prior consultation of all matters affecting Empire defence policy has proceeded between the British Government and the Government of the Commonwealth before proceedings are taken ?
– I suggest to honorable members that as it is not intended -to discuss international affairs at this stage, questions in regard to that subject should not be asked or answered. I ask honorable members to reserve such questions until a later stage.
– Will the Prime Minister confirm the statement attributed to him in the press that in the event of excise powers being used to secure a homeconsumption price for wheat, flour and bread prices will not bc affected?
– The honorable member intimated to me that he intended to ask this question. My reply is - The statement, as issued, did not correctly convey that which was in the mind of the Government. The decision of the State governments to fix a home-consumption price for flour on the basis of a return of 4s. 8d. a bushel for wheat at country sidings, will require supplementary legislation by the Commonwealth to make the
State acts effective. During its consideraation of the subject, the Commonwealth Government noted that flour prices would: be increased only to such a degree aswould make bread prices approximately those which ruled during last year, when no legislation on the lines contemplated, was in force.
– Can the Minister give any information to the House as towhether the published statements of government policy with regard to the assistance of the wheat industry during, a period of low prices may be taken as accurate, and whether any steps haveactually been taken to carry out that policy up to the present?
– -I think that the Prime Minister, in reply to a question this afternoon, has already indicated, what steps the Government, in conjunction with the State governments, is prepared to take in connexion with thismatter. That is the official government policy, and the only one as far as I know that has been outlined by the Government. We have asked the States to proceed with their proposals, and they know exactly what we shall do.
– Is the Prime Minister able to give an assurance that in considering methods of offering relief to the wheat-growers, the Government will do nothing to prejudice industries which depend on wheat offals as their essential foodstuffs?
– Full consideration will be given to the matter raised by the honorable member.
– Can the Prime Minister state whether the proposed plan agreed upon by the Commonwealth Government and certain State governments, with respect to the stabilization of the price of wheat, is in direct conflict with the expressed will of the people, as made known by the result of the marketing referendum ?
– The answer is “ No.”
– -Will the Prime ‘Minister give Parliament an opportunity to discuss the price that is to be fixed for home consumed wheat? Before deciding on 4s. 8d. a bushel as the home-consumption price, will he have expert advice as to whether 3s. 6d. a bushel would not be fairer ?
– The fixation of the price of wheat is a matter with which the States will be concerned. The States will pass legislation dealing with the matter of fixing the price of wheat and supplementary legislation will be passed, I hope, by the Commonwealth Parliament. This Parliament will have a full opportunity to consider that legislation.
– Can the Prime Minister ‘ give this House an assurance that it will not -be asked to consider legislation dealing with the home-consumption price of wheat until the States have enacted their price fixation legislation?
– That is the intention of the Commonwealth Government. The States will do their part - they have undertaken unanimously to do it - and after . that has been done the necessary Commonwealth legislation will be introduced.
Mr.WILSON.- I address this question to the Prime Minister, not with any discourtesy to the Minister for Commerce, but because I think the Prime Minister is more conversant with the matter. I should like to know if the right honorable gentleman has knowledge of any action taken by the Commonwealth Government, or by any State government, to give effect to the proposal for a home-consumption price of wheat for Australian farmers?
– I have to-day tabled the report of the conference of State and Commonwealth Ministers in connexion with this matter. If the honorable mem-, ber would even read the newspapers he would not have to ask either the Minister for Commerce or myself the question which he has now submitted. He would know that the States came to an agreement,’ submitted it to the Commonwealth, and were promised that when the full Cabinet was present the Commonwealth Government would deal with the matter. The Government has intimated its approval of the plan, and its willingness to co-operate, and when the proposal comes before the House the honorable member will be in possession of all the information available in regard to it.
– Has the Prime Minister given further consideration to the request of honorable members residing in far-distant States to be permitted to use air travel during the time when the Parliament is in session, similar to that granted to honorable members from Tasmania?
– The matter of the transport of honorable members comes primarily under the control of the Minister for the Interior. During a great part of the recent recess . that Minister was visiting the northern part of Australia, . but he has now taken this matter into consideration.
Ang lo-American Agreement.
– Has the Minister for Commerce any comment to make on the report from the United States of America, that the rather negative results of the trade negotiations in London was due to the attitude of the delegation from Australia?
– A statement cabled from New York appeared in the Canberra Times this morning, in which that suggestion was repudiated. The concluding paragraph of the statement is as follows : -
The Secretary of the Council (Mr. Lindsay Crawford), interviewed by the Australian Associated Press, said that he did not attribute delay in completing the Anglo-American agreement to Australia. He said that any delay could be attributable to complex problems under the Ottawa Agreement within the Umpire.
I think it will be found, when the agreement is concluded, that the response of Australia to assist world trade was most ready.
– Referring to the recent overseas trade discussions at which the Commonwealth was represented by the Minister for Commerce and other members of the Cabinet, can the Minister inform the House whether the United States of America is to be given by Great Britain improved marketing facilities in the British market, by way of preferences. or increased preferences or in any way, in connexion with dried fruits, wheat, or other primary products of American origin ?
SirEARLE PAGE. - It is my intention at the earliest possible moment to make a statement on the whole mission of the delegation overseas and to state the position clearly with regard to what has been done. The Anglo-American trade negotiations are at present incomplete and it is impossible to say what will be the final outcome until decisions have been reached. I venture to say, however, that the statements that will be made by me on these subjects will cover the point raised by the honorable member.
Mr.FORDE. - Has the Minister for Trade and Customs yet received the report and recommendations of the Tariff Board in regard to the establishment of the newsprint industry in Australia?
– Yes, the report has been received, and a statement will be made by the Government, probably this week, in relation to it.
– In directing a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, I point out by way of explanation that I have received from an authoritative body in New South Wales a statement that a parcel sent by air-liner to Tasmania at a cost of approximately 7s. would cost about 28s. if sent by air through the Post Office. I am told that Air Lines of Australia will carry parcels to Hobart by air at 9d. per lb., with a minimum charge of 2s., whilst the cost of sending a 1 lb. parcel through the Post Office to Hobart by air is 8s. 8d. If the parcel weighed more than 1 lb., the Post Office would charge letter rate for it, namely, 2d. per ounce, plus 3d. per half ounce for air mail, a total of 8d. per ounce. If a private individual can make arrangements with private air lines for the despatch of parcels at such reasonable rates, cannot the Postmaster-General’s department supply similar facilities for the benefit of the people generally?
– I cannot answer the question offhand, but I shall bring it under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral, and an answer will be furnished in due course.
– Can the Assistant Minister for Health say whether the report is correct that the Canberra ambulance recently broke down, and that a maternity case had to be transported to the local hospital by waggon? Has this matter been rectified, and has’ a proper and efficient service been provided in Canberra ?
– I have no knowledge as to the matter referred to in the first part of the honorable member’s question, but I know that approval was given recently for the purchase of a new ambulance, notwithstanding the report that the present vehicle is in fairly good order.’
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether in view of the fears of the smaller air service companies that they may not be in a position to expand their services he is able to give the House any information in regard to the inquiry that is being made into air services, which may allay these fears ?
– A comprehensive survey is being made of the whole of the minor internal air services of Australia and it is expected that the report on the subject will be submitted to the Government in the near future.
– In connexion with a report which has been published to the effect that the Government has appointed certain private members of the House as Parliamentary Under Secretaries, I ask the Prime Minister who these gentlemen are and what duties they will perform? Will they answer letters addressed to the department with which they are associated? Will they answer questions addressed to them in this House? What administrative or other duties will they’ perform?
– I should have notified the House of the appointment of the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Street) as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, and the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) as Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer. These honorable gentlemen will not answer questions in the House. Questions will be answered by Ministers. The Parliamentary Secretaries will co-operate with Ministers in administrative work. Letters should be addressed to the Ministers, who are the heads of the heads of the departments, and not to the Parliamentary Secretaries.
– In view of the increasing importance of the matters discussed at the International Labour Conference at Geneva, I ask the Prime Minister whether in the future, in selecting representatives of the employers and of the Government, the same practice will be followed as in selecting representatives of employees, who are selected from the whole field of appropriate candidates in Australia? Hitherto, in selecting the Government representative and the representative of the employers, the Government has depended upon the almost adventitious presence of certain persons on the other side of the world at the time the conference is held.
– The practice that has been followed in selecting other than the representatives of the employees has been, as the honorable member has intimated; but I do not think that there is any need for criticism or reflections, for suitable persons have always been chosen, and they have, been good representative Australians. However, the honorable member’s suggestion in connexion with future selections will be given consideration.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether he will reconsider the rejected applications of a number of proposed new country rifle clubs for assistance? These particular bodies have been refused assistance by the Defence Department on the ground that the vote for rifle clubs for this financial year has been exhausted. As rifle clubs are of vital importance to the adequate defence - of the Commonwealth, will the Minister have funds made available immediately to enable new clubs to be formed?
– The whole subject of rifle clubs, particularly the formation of new rifle clubs, is at present receiving the consideration of the Military Board, and upon receiving advice from the Board the Government will give further attention to the question.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for Defence to a report which appeared in the press . recently that the Government intended to subsidize a company known as Airlines of Australia, which is operating in Queensland. As this company has been able to reduce passenger fares by £2 or £3 each just recently, and as it is owned and controlled by Australian National Airways, which is controlled by the Peninsula and Oriental Company-
– Order 1 The honorable member is giving information, not asking a question.
– Does the Government consider that in view of the situation that I have outlined, this particular company should receive a subsidy?
– I have not read the newspaper paragraph to which the honorable member has referred. Subsidies have, been granted to certain air lines which are co-operating with the Postal Department in the carrying of mail matter. I have no information at hand concerning the specific case mentioned by the honorable member, but I shall have inquiries made and furnish him with the information received.
– Is the Minister for Defence in a position to say whether the tension in Europe is the result of the Commonwealth Government not being able to reach an agreement with the Hobart City Council concerning the removal of the Sandy Bay Rifle Range ?’ “Will tlie honorable gentleman take immediate steps to conclude this agreement and remove the rifle range from its present site?
Question not answered.
– Is the Minister for the Interior able to give honorable members any. idea when the examination of the iron ore deposits at Yampi Sound is likely to be completed? Will he also tell us whether he made a statement recently to the effect that it was estimated that the deposits at Yampi were approximately 57,000,000 tons ? On ‘whose report was that estimate based, and may the report be made available to the public?
– I am not able to give the honorable member any accurate estimate of the time likely to be occupied in making the survey of the Yampi Sound iron ore deposits. . The work is being done by the Mines Department of Western Australia acting in co-operation with the Commonwealth Geological Adviser. At present it is believed that the survey will not be concluded in less than six months, but it is quite impossible to gauge accurately the time likely to be occupied by it. As to the extent of the deposits, I said that among other estimates made of the quantity of iron ore at Yampi one was 63,000,000 tons. That estimate was’ made by officers of the North Australian Geological Survey. I shall inquire whether it is possible to make that report available to the public.
– Will the Minister for the Interior inform me whether he desires honorable members to understand that the Mines Department of Western Australia is making its investigation for the purpose of trying to determine the quantity of iron ore at Yampi? Is the Minister aware of the enormous amount of tunnelling which it is considered will be necessary to enable an estimate to be made?
– The position with regard to the conduct of this survey is that the Commonwealth Government intimated to the Western Australian Government, as it did to other State governments, its intention that such a survey should be made, and offered that, should the State governments so desire, they would have an opportunity to con duct the survey through their own Mines Departments, the expense being borne by the Commonwealth. The Western Australian Government elected to conduct the survey itself. The Commonwealth Geological Adviser and the Geological Adviser of the Western Australian Government proceeded together to Yampi Sound, and there agreed upon the work necessary to be done in order to conduct the survey. The work now in progress is work of a nature mutually agreed upon by the Commonwealth and State Geological Advisers. Naturally, no new estimate of the ore resources can be made at this stage, because that is the purpose of the survey. As to the cost of the survey, preliminary estimates have, of course, been made, but it is not possible. I believe, to make further estimates of cost at this stage.
– 13 the Minister for the Interior in a position to say whether, as the result of the visit to Tasmania of Dr. Woolnough, that gentleman himself has made a survey of the iron ore deposits in that State; whether ho has made arrangements with the State Government for its Mines Department to conduct the survey, whether any report has been received by the Government on the subject, and, if so, whether it can be made available to honorable members and, if not, when it is likely to be made available?
– The Government of Tasmania has asked that the survey of the iron ore resources of that State be undertaken by the Commonwealth Government. Dr. Woolnough has visited Tasmania and preliminary arrangements are now in hand for the conduct of the survey by Commonwealth officers. No report is yet available.
– I ask the Treasurer if it is a fact that the amount spent on geophysical research in Australia exceeds the £75,000 specified as the maximum Commonwealth liability in the act? If that is so, from what other votes has additional money been provided, and how has parliamentary authorization been secured for expenditure in -excess of that specified in the statute?
– I have not exactly in mind the total expenditure by the Commonwealth on the North Australia geophysical and geological survey. Speaking from memory, an extension of the work was decided on by the Government, I think, about twelve months ago. I shall obtain the information and make it available to the honorable member at an early date.
– In view of the fact that both the Leader of the Opposition and myself, prior to the close of the sittings of the House in June last, drew attention to the pending dispute on the coal-fields, why has the Prime Minister said in a press statement that he had never been approached to bring the parties together? How can he claim that he had not been asked until recently to bring about a conference of the parties to the dispute?
– First of all, when I said that I had not been approached in regard to this matter I very clearly meant, that I had not been approached by a person associated with the union.
– I am a member of the union, and I was requested by it to ask the right honorable gentleman to call such a conference.
– That was never intimated to me. ‘Communications in regard to matters of this kind must come from officials of the union. I had not been approached to intervene in the dispute until recently when the Leader of the Opposition induced union representatives to come to Canberra and discuss the matter with me and asked me if I would be prepared to discuss it’ with them. I then made it perfectly clear that the attitude of the Government was that 11 tribunal had been appointed to settle matters of this kind, that if the dispute was confined to a State a State tribunal could deal with it, and that if it reached interstate proportions the Federal Arbitration Court could deal with it. Recently the Federal Arbitration Court, through one of its judges, has called a compulsory conference. I hope that that will have the effect of bringing tho parties together, and of inducing the men to go back to work.
– Has the Government, or the commission dealing with national health and pensions insurance, yet determined whether or not Commonwealth and State employees are to be covered by the scheme?
– I take it that the honorable member refers only to certain classes and sections of Commonwealth and State employees. That matter is in hand. It is first necessary to examine the conditions under which various classes of public servants work. That examination is not yet complete.
– Is it a fact that the commission appointed under the provisions of the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act, has arranged that approved societies will be paid ls. for every insured person who joins their membership? If so, will this not involve an expenditure of approximately £90,000 in order to ensure the enrolment of persons who, under the act, are obliged to join approved societies, and who, moreover, in the event of a society not being named by them, will be allotted by the commission to such society as it thinks fit? In the circumstances, what is the justification for the expenditure of so large a sum of money?
– The honorable, gentleman is correct. The justification of the payment is the recoupment of the approved societies approximately the amount of clerical and other expenditure to which they will be put in starting the approved societies and in the initial enrolment of members. The commission does not believe that the amount , of 3 s. a head is at all excessive as the amount essential to recoup that initial expenditure.
– Would the Treasurer take objection to an approved society paying ls. a head to a canvasser” for each new mem’ber that he brings into the society?
– The honorable gentleman asks me if the Government has anything to say about approved societies paying canvassers for new members that they may introduce. That is not a matter which is within the concern of the Government.
– That is what the money is being used for.
– In that ease the approved society is denying itself the use of the amount for which it is intended.
– Has the Treasurer seen the- statement of the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) at a meeting of the Farmers and Settlers’ Association that it is the intention of the Government to introduce a supplementary national insurance scheme within the next twelve months with the object of covering small farmers? If so, is it in accordance with Government policy and does the Treasurer intend to introduce .legislation to establish such a scheme within the next twelve months?
– I have not seen the statement referred to. On behalf of the Government, I have nothing to add to the statements made by the right honorable the Prime Minister and myself during the debate on the national insurance proposals last session.
– ‘Can the Treasurer inform the House as to the number of appointments that have been made to the department of the National Health and Pensions Insurance Commission, and the number of appeals lodged ? is it intended to appoint persons outside the Public Service to any positions in the department?
– As to the first part oi the question, I shall be glad to got the information sought and make it available to the honorable member. I understand that the Public Service Commissioner, in terms of the Public Service Act, is obliged to confine his choice to persons within the Service, unless he is conscientiously able to say that the post cannot be filled from within the Service. I understand that very few appointments have been made up to the present time of persons outside the Service. Possibly only one such appointment has been made - a professional person.
– Was that an actuary?
– Yes, I think so. There may have been one other such appointment.
– Is the Treasurer aware that many large employers of labour are forming approved societies under the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act, and that in the formation of these societies the covert threat is held out to the employees that they will lose their employment if they do not join the bosses’ organization? Will the Minister see that the provision of the Act which lays down that all persons shall have a free choice as to which society they join is not abrogated by the implied threat of these employers?
– The present time is one of great competition between those persons who wish to form approved societies. The National Insurance Commission has become aware of quite a large number of unwarranted statements that have been made in circulars issued by one or other of those persons forming approved societies. The statements to which the commission has taken exception are by no means confined to those which originate with employers’ organizations. In all cases where the commission has found that unjustified statements have been made it has taken steps at once, by correspondence or otherwise, to notify the persons concern-ed of such statements. It is hoped that approved societies will be formed under fair conditions.
Commonwealth Bank’s Credit Policy
– In view of the substantial reduction of national income due to the fall of the value of primary products and to the effects of drought throughout Australia, can the Treasurer indicate to the House any steps that the Commonwealth Bank has taken in regard to credit policy which would mitigate the effects of the reduced income on the community as a whole?
– No. I do not think that it would be in the public interest to state specifically the steps taken by the Commonwealth Bank, other than to say that it is in close touch with the situation and, within the limits of sound finance, is prepared to act should there be a recession of Australian activities.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to make a statement regarding the proposed re-organization of the
Australian Broadcasting Commission? In particular, can he say that the commission will not be permitted to exercise in an arbitrary manner the power to prevent prominent citizens, such as the Premier of Queensland, from broadcasting addresses on non-party political subjects, as was done on a previous occasion when the broadcasting of addresses by the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Forgan Smith, and the Treasurer of that State, Mr. Cooper, at an Anglican church communion breakfast was refused?
– The Government has under consideration certain suggestions for an improvement of the methods of control of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but I am afraid that I am not able to agree to make any provision for dictation to the commission as to how it shall carry out its duties.
– The right honorable gentleman is satisfied so long as the dictation comes from the Government.
– Like the Premier of Queensland, I, too, have been subjected to limitations in the broadcasting of addresses. As has been pointed out on previous occasions, the Australian Broadcasting Commission has specified certain hours within which broadcasts may be made. It makes no discrimination against individuals or churches, but it does prescribe the hours during which .broadcasts may be made. So far as I am aware, the only broadcasts of the nature referred to which have been refused have been those asked for at hours earlier than the opening hour for the day. I should not attempt to dictate to the commission in this connexion, even though I myself have been affected by its decision.
– Is it correct, as reported in the Canberra Times, that the Government intends to abandon the proposal to manufacture motorcar chassis in Australia?
– The report in the Canberra Times is entirely unauthorized and misleading.
– It may be unauthorized, but is it really misleading?
– It is misleading. A statement on the subject of motor-car manufacture in Australia should be made to the House this week and the report of the Tariff Board on the subject will be tabled.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs given consideration to the report by the Department of the Interior on Oregon, and, if so, when will the decision of the Government be conveyed to this House?
– The report has been received, but in view of the necessity to deal with more important matters it has not yet been considered by the Government. I expect to make a statement on the’ subject next week.
– Is it correct, as reported, that the Department of Trade and Customs is conducting an inquiry into the ship-building industry? If so, can the Minister give the personnel of the body conducting the inquiry, and can he say how far the inquiry has proceeded, and whether a report will be submitted to Parliament?
– There has been a departmental inquiry and a report on the subject was received yesterday. So far, it has not been considered by the Government.
– Oan the Minister for the Interior say what steps, if any, are being taken with regard to the admission into Australia of either refugees generally from Germany and Austria, or alternatively, non-Jewish refugees?
– As to the latter part of the honorable member’s .question, it is the policy of the Government that there shall be no discrimination . as between nations in regard to the immigration of white aliens. The Commonwealth Government arranged that the Minister for Trade and Customs should represent it at the international conference held at Evain, when the problem of refugee Jews from Central European countries was discussed. The Government has not yet had an opportunity to consider the report submitted by the Minister.
– Oan the Minister for the Interior inform the House whether the whole of the £250,000 set aside as a subsidy for the search for oil has been expended, and can he say how much of the money expended has been paid to boring companies and how much has been absorbed by salaries and other expenses?
– There is a statutory obligation to table in the Parliament an annual statement setting out the particulars sought by the honorable member. Within the next day or two, I hope to table a return containing the information asked for by him.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior - (1) Whether, in view of the awful disclosures in the late case an the courts regarding the terrible supply of milk to the Federal City, the Health Department has taken efficient measures to provide that the milk . supply shall he safe for drinking without the necessity of sterilizing or boiling it? (2) What is the present proportion of estimated tubercular cows in the Territory ?
– I think that this is a question which should properly he directed to the Minister for Health; but I am. able to inform the honorable member that just recently the Canberra Dairy Society has opened a new depot, where all milk is received and treated, before distribution in Canberra. I am sure that the Minister- for Health will secure the statistics sought.
– During his recent visit abroad, did the Attorney-General visit Europe with a view to surveying trade possibilities in the various countries on the Continent? If he did, will this Parliament have the advantage of receiving from him a report upon such possibilities ?
– Has the Department of Commerce reached any decision as to the practicability of setting up in Australia a food council similar to that established in Great Britain to examine the distribution and consumption of essential foodstuffs ?
– That question is still under consideration, and. in view of a certain report which will be tabled shortly dealing with some aspects of it, it will require still further consideration.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether it is a fact that in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea recruiting officers go into the native villages, recruit natives and sell them to farms, plantations and mines for the sum of £10 a head? Is it also a fact that these natives are contracted to work for 10s. a month and their keep, which consists of sweet potatoes-? If this is correct, will the labour that is proposed to be used for the construction of a new road, for which £250,000 has been made available by the Commonwealth Government, be exploited in a similar manner by the contractors?
– Many of the things to which the honorable member for Hunter referred come as news to me. I know nothing at all about sweet potatoes or any of those matters. It is not a fact that the Commonwealth Government has expended or contemplates expending £250,000 on a road. The only road that is to be built is to be built by those persons who have interests in New Guinea. They will find the money and will build the roam As the honorable member has a passion for information, however, I . shall make inquiries myself and, when I have information about the things of which he has spoken, I shall pass it on to him.
– Will the Treasurer, in delivering his budget speech, be able to supply an estimate of the value of Australian exports in the current year?
– No. I am sure that that is .in the lap of the gods.
– I ask the right honorable Minister for Commerce whether I am correctly informed that a great deal of the time of the London conference, at which he was present with the Attorney-General, was devoted to an effort to reconcile the conflicting views of the Attorney-General, representing one branch of the party, and of the Minister for Commerce, representing another branch, and whether at this critical period the Minister for Trade and -Customs was presenting a posy to the Mayor of Brighton, England, with an expression of goodwill from the Mayor and Mayoress of Brighton, Victoria.
– I assure the honorable member that during our discussions the Attorney-General and the Minister for Trade and Customs always concurred with the Minister for Commerce and presented a united and very satisfactory front.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior - (a) When is the reported new policy for aborigines to be formulated and discussed in Parliament? (b) When and where is the conference of protectors of aborigines to be held?
– At a very early date I shall be submitting to the Government for its consideration certain proposals dealing with aborigines policy as it may be carried out or instituted by the Commonwealth within its own territory. No conference of protectors of aborigines is projected; one was held about twelve months ago. The Ministers responsible for the administration of native affairs in the States will be asked to meet in conference with the Commonwealth Minister concerned - myself, at the present time - to consider aboriginal affairs on a wider basis. That conference will probably be held early in the new year.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs yet received from the Tariff Board its report on its investigation of the proposal to commence the manufacture of newsprint in Australia?
– Probably the honorable member came into the chamber late; I answered a similar question earlier in the day.
– I ask the Minister for Defence, in view of the proposal of the Defence Department to merge certain Queensland Australian Imperial Force battalions and to alter the unit numbers of others as a consequence of the gazettal of the Queensland Cameron Highlanders as the 15th Battalion, and further, in view of the many protests made to his department by the Queensland Australian Imperial Force units and other returned soldier organizations, has he given further consideration to the subject as promised by him to a deputation of returned soldiers in Brisbane recently? If so, what decision has been arrived at in order to safeguard the traditions associated with wartime units?
– When I was in Brisbane recently, several deputations waited upon me and made representations in connexion with the proposal to unlink certain battalions and create a new battalion, the 15th. These representations have been submitted to the Military Board and I am awaiting a recommendation and advice from that body.
– Is the Treasurer yet in a position to reply to the question which I asked on the 21st June last, regarding the total amount received by Sir George Pearce during the period when he was in Parliament, by way of salary as a private member, and salary and allowance as a Minister ?
– I regret if the question lias not yet been answered, but I shall take note of it now, and see that the honorable gentleman is given the information he desires if it is available.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs state when the Tariff Board’s report on the cut-glass industry will be laid on the table of the
House? I point out that it is two years since the board’s last report was tabled.
– That is not correct. The first report was tabled over two years ago, but, owing to the closing down of certain sections of the industry, there has been a more recent inquiry. The report on this investigation has been received by the Government and is now under consideration. Negotiations are in progress between the Trade Treaty sections of the Department of Trade and Customs and one of the countries engaged in the export of cut glass. I expect to announce the result shortly.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that the employers in the cut-glass industry have repeatedly said that they would be unable to find employment for some hundreds of men who have been out of work for the last nine months until they could get favorable consideration of their requests for more protection from the Tariff Board or the Government? I desire to know further whether the complications which have arisen, and have prevented the Tariff Board and the Government from doing justice to this industry, arise out of the Czechoslovak trade treaty?
– I do not wish to give further details with regard to this industry than I gave in reply to a previous question. I said that the matter would be finalized shortly. The Government is most concerned over the fact that 400 men are out of work owing to the closing of that branch of the industry, but, if negotiations succeed, it hopes to announce within a few days that the men will have an opportunity to return to work.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether a final determination has yet been made in connexion with the selection of a site for the new capital of New Guinea? A paragraph has appeared in the press stating that there would be a reconsideration of the claims of Salamaua and Lae. I should also like to know if the report of the Griffiths committee on this subject is to be made available to honorable members?
– Answering the last part of the honorable member’s question first, I point out that the report of the Griffiths committee was laid on the table of the House some months ago. I am rather surprised that the honorable gentleman has not seen it.
– I have seen one copy.
– It is well worth reading. With regard to the rest of the honorable member’s question, there has been no further decision by the Government. The honorable member has, no doubt, read with some interest paragraphs which have appeared in the press from time to time with regard to Salamaua and Lae and other places. We are still searching diligently for the right site.
– . Can the Minister state if the report in the press that the Administrator of New Guinea has left on a trip to China has anything to do with this diligent search for a new capital for New Guinea?
– I have not heard that it has. It is a fact, however, that the Administrator has applied for and been granted four months’ leave of absence.
– Has the Minister for Defence been informed of the statement by Admiral Sir Howard Kelly, one of the world’s highest naval authorities, that Australia is in urgent need of a battleship? Has the Minister any statement to make regarding the further suggestion of the admiral that it would be in the immediate interests of Australia to exchange two of our cruisers for a battleship?
– My attention has been directed to the statement by a certain admiral, and all I have to say is that the policy of the Commonwealth Government in naval matters has been adopted on the best advice of the highest naval experts in the Empire.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the House whether there are insurmountable obstacles ‘which prevent Australian automotive distributors from transferring any portion of their quota of motor vehicles now coming from the United States of America to Canada? If there are no objections, will the Minister allow officers of the department to assist those persons who wish to make that transfer ?
– The matter has been already investigated by the department, but it is too soon to say what the result will be. Many firms are not importing up to the full limit of their quotas.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that certain importers of motor vehicles from North America who are npt filling the .quotas allowed to them are selling quotas to other distributors? If he is not aware of this trafficking in quotas, will he have the matter investigated, and seek to see that quotas are made available as far ‘as possible to other distributors who are handling cars which the public are desirous of buying, without their having to pay a special levy to certain importers or distributors who are thus increasing their profit at the expense of the purchasers of other cars ?
– The honorable member is scarcely correct in saying that there is a trafficking in quotas. Some makes of cars have gone off the market, and other makes are being obtained through the same firms; but, if the honorable member gives me a specific instance of what he has in mind, I shall have a full inquiry made and a reply will be furnished to him.
– With regard to the reported conflict of opinion between the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs as to the Dominions Office, has the Prime Minister taken any action in regard to the matter? Has he made any representations to the Dominions Office or to the Minister for External Affairs.?
Incident at Post Melbourne.
– Is the Minister for External Affairs yet in a position to make the statement promised some months ago in regard to the representations made, or said to have been made, on the question of payment of compensation to one. Frigo Orlando, who was assaulted and injured on an Italian cruiser in one of the ports of Melbourne?
– Yes, I am in a position to make a further statement. Following upon my assurance to the honorable gentleman, when he called the attention of the House and the country to the injuries suffered by Frigo Orlando, I saw the new Italian Consul-General, and I discussed the matter with him at great length. He gave me the benefit of his views, and I corrected him on points of fact. I was able to present him with the depositions of Orlando, and with the first-hand evidence that was available to the department. The Consul-General professed himself greatly impressed by them, and asked for an opportunity to review the position in the light of these facts. There the matter rests.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the statement of Dr. H. G. Wallis, Director of Tuberculosis in New South Wales, in which he says that tuberculosis is the greatest producer of widows and orphans, and is caused by poverty-stricken conditions? In view of that statement, does the Prime Minister intend to give effect to his election promise to abolish slums?’
– I need only answer the latter part of the question. I gave no assurance in regard to the abolition of slums, because it is not possible for the Commonwealth Government to do that. The slums fall within the jurisdiction of the State authorities, and they constitute a difficult problem for the States.
– During the visit by the Minister for the Interior to the Northern Territory, did he come in contact with Judge Wells ? If so, did he keep in mind the strictures passed by the honorable member for Batman, and what was his reaction ?
Question not answered.
– Has the Assistant Minister for Health yet had an opportunity to peruse the report of the Commonwealth medical officers into the effect of wheat, dust on the general health of those who handle bulk wheat? If so, does the Government consider the findings of the board to be of sufficient importance to take action to compel the employers of these men at least to provide proper respirators for them while working on bulk wheat?
– I have not yet had an opportunity to examine the report, but, as soon as I am able to do so, I shall make recommendations to Cabinet, and the decision of the Cabinet will be conveyed to the honorable member.
Messages reported transmitting Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c, for the year ending the 30th June, 1939, and recommending appropriations accordingly.
Ordered to be printed, and referred to Committee of Supply.
– In spite of considerable difficulties created by overseas developments, the past year has been one of appreciable economic advance in Australia. The” wide fluctuations and instability experienced in many important oversea countries have not been, to any appreciable extent, reflected in Australia as a whole. Indeed, we may congratulate ourselves on the degree of resistance that Australia has shown to adverse oversea influences.
In regard to employment in Australia, the average trade union unemployment percentage in 1936-37 was 10.6 and in 1937-38 it was8.5. A slight increase occurred in the last quarter of the financial year, the latest available figure being 8.6 per cent.
The value of Australian recorded material production, which had fallen to £305,000,000 in 1931-32, reached £456,000,000 in 1936-37, and the final results for 1937-38 will probably showabout the same figure. But for the unfortunate decline of export prices, which began in May, 1937, the value of production for 1937-38 would, of course, have reached a considerably higher level.
Building activity continued to expand in 1937-38 from its previous high level. The value of building permits issued in Australia in 1937-38, apart from governmental buildings, is estimated to have been approximately £56,000,000, as compared . with about £48,000,000 in 1936-37, and only about £9,000,000 in 1931-32.
The value of our wool clip was approximately £52,600,000 in 1937-38, as compared with £63,600,000 in 1936-37 The prospects for the coming year arc difficult to gauge, but it is not unreasonable to expect that any change will be for the better, particularly if the European political difficulties are overcome.
Wheat has been heavily hit by falling prices. It is difficult to be optimistic about the prospects for wheat prices in the coming year.
Taking our exports as a whole, average prices realized in 1937-38 were 12½ per cent, below those for 1936-37. However, although prices were down in 1937-38, the volume of exported production was appreciably higher, and our 1937-38 export income was but little below that of 1936-37- £125,400,000 sterling against £129,000,000 sterling.
The investment of overseas capital in Australia also continued at a satisfactory rate, and the call on London funds was less than might, have been expected. The net drain on London funds in 1937-38 was probably not over £10,000,000 sterling. Taking the last two years together, it is probable that at least £15,000,000 sterling has been added to Australia’s reserves of London funds.
Prophecy as to the future entails speculation as to political and economic trends which at present are very confused. In the political sphere, particularly in Europe, one can only hope for the best. In the economic sphere, I do not believe that the situation is as disquieting as we might be led to believe. The recent trend towards recovery in the United ‘States of America may well grow in strength sufficiently to offset and eventually to change the hesitant and downward trends in some other countries. The favorable developments will have to be accelerated appreciably, however, if they are to make themselves feltbefore the bulk of our own export commodities of this season begin to be sold on the world’s markets.
I have already referred to the remarkable resistance that the Australian economy has shown towards adverse overseas developments. This may be attributed to some extent to an increased production, which has offset a decline of prices, but I believe that just as potent a factor has been the determination of those in charge of our institutions not to let their minds be unduly affected by every economic breeze that blows from overseas.
The Board of the Commonwealth Bank is carefully watching business activities for any signs of recession. With the helpful co-operation of manufacturers and others, the Board is in a position to keep itself promptly and fully informed of current trends and, within the limits of sound finance, can be relied upon to use appropriate central banking measures to assist in counteracting or lessening a decline of activity.
Loan Operations in London.
Two loan operations were carried out in London during last financial year. The first was a conversion loan of £11,410,000, which was carried out in November, 1937 at a rate to yield £3 15s.1d. per cent, per annum.
The second operation was a loan of £7,000,000 sterling, which was arranged in May last. This was to provide £2,000,000 for defence equipment purchases in Great Britain, and £5,000,000 for the redemption of Australian treasurybills held by the Commonwealth Bank in London. The loan was floated at a rate to yield £3 16s. 6d. per cent, per annum.
During 1937-38 two loans were issued in the Australian market. The first, in November, 1937, was for £8,000,000, at a rate to yield £3 15s. 6d. per cent, per annum. The second was issued in May, 1938, for £10,250,000, at a rate to yield £3 15s.10d. per cent, per annum.
Of the £10,250,000, an amount of £4,000,000 was for defence purposes, the balance being for the ordinary loan programmes of the Commonwealth and States.
The Loan Council has agreed to the raising of £14,000,000 in 1938-39 for the ordinary loan purposes of the Commonwealth and States. The Commonwealth share of this will be £2,000,000, all of which is to be used for grants to the States for farmers’ debt adjustment purposes.
The Loan Council will shortly undertake the task of arranging the first large conversion loan in Australia since the internal conversion of 1931. The amount of loans to be converted is about £68,000,000, which falls due for repayment on the 15th December next. Of this amount £6,000,000 carries interest at 3 per cent, and £62,000.000 carries interest at 4 per cent. Approximately half of the ma turing loans represents Commonwealth debt, and the balance is debt of the various State governments.
Sinking fund operations in recent years reduced these securities from the peak of £78,000,000, and a further £4,000,000 of sinking fund moneys will be available towards redemption of the loans before the15th December.
The Loan Council is meeting in Melbourne next week to consider terms for the conversion of the maturing securities, and I anticipate that an offer of conversion to existing holders will be made late in October.
Although the operation is a large one. I am confident of success. The cooperation of the Commonwealth Bank, the trading banks and the principal financial institutions is assured, and investors generally may be relied upon to support the operation.
Since 1923 over £80,000,000 has been provided for the redemption of Commonwealth debt. In addition, since States’ sinking funds were established in 1928, over £41,000,000 of State debt has been redeemed by the national debt sinking fund.
In the present financial year the receipts of the sinking fund will amount to £10,830,000, of which £4,930,000 will be payable to the Commonwealth sinking fund and £5,900,000 to State sinking funds.
The movement in the aggregate public debt of the Commonwealth and States since the Lyons Government assumed office in December, 1931, is as follows: -
During this period of six and a half years the public debt of the Commonwealth itself decreased by £7,084,000.
Before coming to the budget for the current year, I will deal briefly with the past year. The actual revenue and expenditure for 1937-38 resulted in an excess of revenue of £3,494,733. Details of the revenue and expenditure compared with the budget estimates are as folow: -
The principal factor which contributed to the excess revenue was customs and excise revenue. The budget estimate for these revenue items was £44,500,000, and the actual revenue £48,3S3,000, an increase of £3,883,000. . The difficulty of estimating customs and excise revenue is well known. The improvement over the estimate in this case was due to circumstances which could not be foreseen. Internal conditions continued very buoyant during 1937-38, despite the decline of export prices. Imports for the year just closed amounted to £112,000,000 sterling compared with £91,000,000 sterling for the previous year.
Revenue receipts under headings other than those of customs and excise were close to the revenue estimates, as were also almost all of the expenditure items.
In view of the urgent and heavy demands for defence, the Government proposes to set aside the whole of the excess receipts of 1937-38, £3,494,733, in a trust account for defence purposes. Of this sum, £2,494,733 will he expended on the defence programme of this year and so relieve the current budget, and the balance of £1,000,000 will be available towards meeting the defence expenditure of 1939-40.
In the expenditure for 1938-39 the Government, as is well known, faces very largely increased obligations mainly arising out of defence, national insurance and invalid and old-age pensions. These three items alone account for an increase of about £7,000,000.
Last financial year the total provision for defence from all sources was £11,531,000. Nearly half of that sum was provided from loan and trust funds, and the balance came from revenue.
In April last the Prime Minister outlined to Parliament the main features of the Government’s defence programme for the next three years, under which extensive measures will be taken to strengthen greatly the Navy, Army and Air Force, to expand the Government munitions factories, and to organize civil industry for an emergency. The subsequent trend of the international situation has unfortunately only emphasized the urgency and importance of pressing on with J;he strengthening of our defences. The progress of the programme has been constantly under review by the Government and ‘ satisfactory results are being achieved.
In May last Parliament approved of a loan appropriation of £10,000,000 for defence purposes. Of this amount £4,000,000 has already been raised, and is being applied towards the defence programme of this financial year.
I have already stated that it is the intention of the Government that the whole of the excess revenue of last year, amounting to £3,494,733, will be taken to Defence Equipment Trust Account. Of this sum £2,494,733 will be applied towards defence expenditure this year.
The total estimated defence expenditure this year from all sources is £16,796,000. This is a formidable figure, but a3 the Prime Minister said in his national broadcast of March last - “ The Government is sure that the Australian people have only to be made aware of the increase necessary in order readily to accept the obligations involved.”
The total expenditure for defence will be financed as follows: -
– Yes, for this year.
Of this total, capital expenditure is estimated at £9,922,000 and maintenance expenditure at £6,874,000. “ Capital expenditure “ signifies expenditure on works, ships, aircraft, equipment, stores, armaments and the like. As the programme progresses, capital expenditure may be expected to diminish, but the expansion of the defence services will entail an increasing maintenance vote.
The most urgent projects entail high capital expenditure in the initial stages of the programme. This is necessary to ensure synchronization of the various parts of the programme, both within and between the services. Thus, in the Navy, ships and trained crews must become available together. In the Army provision of accommodation and equipment must coincide with the enlistment and training of personnel, whilst deliveries of aircraft must synchronize with the formation of new squadrons in. the Air Force. From the joint service aspect, security of our main ports depends on the simultaneous completion of the local seaward defences by the Navy, the fixed coast and anti-aircraft defences by the Army, and the air co-operation squadrons by the Air Force.
I may say that my colleague the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) will seek an early opportunity to give further information to honorable members concerning the objectives and progress of the defence programme.
The total figures for defence expenditure which I have just given include civil aviation. The estimated total expenditure on civil aviation from all sources in 193S-39 is £1,283,000 covering - administration, £101,000; development, £797,000; and Empire air mail, £3S5,000.
Payments by the Postal Department for air mails and recoveries from the United Kingdom are estimated to amount to £168,000, leaving a net total expenditure of £1,115,000, of which £405,000 will be financed from moneys already available in trust account and the balance of £710,000 will be charged to the budget of this year.
The proposals for national insurance passed by Parliament during the last sitting are now well advanced in preparation for its full operation in January next. The National Insurance Commission is established with offices in Canberra and in each State, and the organization of societies for insured persons is proceeding rapidly. During the next three months, the many problems which are at present occupying the attention of State governments, employers, friendly societies and other organizations and individuals, will have found their appropriate solutions, or at least to an extent sufficient for the inauguration of the scheme.
– I have confined myself to complete silence in ‘respect of the doctors for six months; I must observe that limitation for a few months yet. It is not to be expected that every development will have been completed this year, but the preparations are being made on sound lines. It has not as yet been found possible to develop the proposed scheme for the voluntary insurance of self-employed persons by reason of the great amount of work and negotiation involved in preparation for the main national insurance scheme, but this is the only reason for delay. The Commonwealth itself, as a large employer of persons not covered by superannuation or other benefit entitling certain employments to exemption from the scheme, will be a large contributor as an employer, and the costs of those contributions will form part of departmental expenditures.
Liability for Treasury contributions under the act will not commence until all insurance contributions commence, and the present budget will not be called upon to face a full year’s contribution. The budget must, however, include the cost of administration prior to January next and for other expenditures associated with national insurance which are not statutory obligations at present.
The total estimated expenditure set down in the budget for national insurance is £1,100,000, made up as follows: -
The provision for grants for the medical treatment of the wives and children of insured persons is in accordance with the promise made in the House when the National Insurance Bill was under discussion.
– Will the Treasurer introduce a bill to give authority for those payments?
– Yes. It is anticipated that contributions by and in respect of insured persons under the national insurance scheme will commence on the 2nd January, 1939, and that for the halfyear ended 30th June, 1939, approximately £5,500,000 will be received. Of the amount mentioned, approximately £3,000,000 will be credited to the Pensions Fund and £2,500,000 to the Health Fund.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions.
In September, 1937, the rate of pension was increased to its former maximum level of £1 per week and the total expenditure for the year ended 30th June, 1938, amounted to just under £15,800,000, an increase of approximately £1,800,000 on the previous year. This increase was due to the normal net growth of the number of pensioners, the cost of the increase of the maximum rate of pension from 19s. to 20s. per week, and the fact that there were 27 pay-days during the year instead of the usual 26.
At the 30th June, 1938, there were 310,250 invalid and old-age pensioners, an increase of a little over 11,000 during, the year.
Approximately85 per cent, of the pensioners receive the maximum rate of pension, £1 per week, and the average rate of pension is 19s. 3d. per week.
It is estimated that the net increase of the number of pensioners during the current year will be approximately 11,500 and that the total cost of invalid and oldage pensions for the year will be £16,150,000. This represents an increase of £350,000 over the actual expenditure last year. But for the extra pay-day last year the increase would be £865,000.
During this session the Government will introduce legislation relating to reciprocity between the Commonwealth and New Zealand in the matter of invalid and oldage pensions. At the present time, residence in New Zealand is not accepted as residence in Australia for pension pur poses, and vice versa. The new legislation will enable residence in either country to be taken into account, with the result that the total period of residence in the two countries will , be accepted by both.
In regard to invalid pensions, an essential qualification at present is that permanent incapacity for work shall have occurred in Australia. It is now proposed that permanent incapacity occurring in New Zealand shall be accepted as having occurred in Australia, and vice versa.
The cost of these liberalizations will be borne by the Commonwealth and the Dominion of New Zealand in proportion to the respective period of qualifying residence in each country.
The additional concessions granted to war pensioners in recent years by way of provision made for the medical care and treatment of incapacitated men have involved considerable increased expenditure. The total cost of war pensions and repatriation for 1938-39 is estimated at £9,400,000. This represents an increase of £348,000 over last year and an increase of £1,700,000 comparedwith the expenditure of five years ago.
The growing responsibilities of the Commonwealth in respect of public works necessitate substantial increased provision this year. Apart from defence, the estimate for additions and new works is £5,423,000, an increase of £885,000 over the actual expenditure of last year. The increase is mainly due to post office, Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory. For the post office, the estimated expenditure is £3,938,000, which will be referred to later.
For the Northern Territory, £300,000 is to be provided. The increase over last year is £197,000 and is necessary to provide water supply, a new hospital and other services in keeping with the growing needs of the territory.
For the Australian Capital Territory, the estimated expenditure is £545,000, an increase of £68,000 over last year.
The following table shows the substantially increased obligations of the Com monwealth Government for public works(omitting defence), in 1938-39: -
The figures in this table do not include defence works. The estimated total expenditure from all sources on these works in 1938-39 is £9,922,000 of which about £7,000,000 will be spent in Australia.
The ordinary services of departments also necessitate increased expenditure this year. For ordinary departments - excluding business undertakings and territories - the increase over last year is £407,000. About £30,000 is due to the restoration by an award of portion of cost of living reduction; £42,000 is due to exchange charges now being included in ordinary departmental votes instead of in a special Treasury vote. Apart from these special items, the increase is £335,000 and is mainly due to expansion of the Department of the Interior caused by the heavy defence programme and general increase of works.
The activities of the Postal Depart ment continue to expand in all directions necessitating heavy expenditure for the provision of new services and for the replacement of buildings and plant which have reached, or are reaching, the limits of their capacity.
The Postmaster-General’s Department has been hard pressed to cope with the progressive public demand for increased services in all branches of its business, in spite of the expenditure of over £3,000,000 on new works in 1937-38. These new works include the progressive installation of new automatic exchanges, new trunk line telephone channels, underground telephone cables, new trunk line exchanges, improved telegraph equipment, new broadcasting stations and general renovations and improvements of plant, buildings and equipment in all branches.
In order to meet the expansion of business it has been necessary to allocate progressively increasing sums for new works in recent years - the figures being as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 September 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1938/19380921_reps_15_157/>.