House of Representatives
19 April 1945

17th Parliament · 3rd Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 910


Treasurer · Macquarie · ALP

– It is my sad duty to inform honorable members of the death of the Honorable Thomas Joseph Collins, a former member of the House of Representatives and a Minister of the Crown, who passed away at Young, New South Wales, on the 15th April, 1945.

The late Mr. Collins was elected to the House of Representatives for the Division of Hume, New South Wales, at the general elections in 1931, 1934, 1937 and 1940. He was a Temporary Chairman of Committees from 1934 to 1940, a member of the Joint Committee on Public Works from 1937 to 1940, Minister without portfolio assisting the Prime Minister and the Minister forthe Interior, and Minister in charge of External Territories in 1940-41, PostmasterGeneral from June, 1941, to October, 1941, and Minister assisting the Minister for Supply and Development from June, 1941, to August, 1941. He was defeated at the general elections in August, 1943.

The deceased gentleman was a wellknown figure in the Parliament, his active association with this House having been severed less than two years ago, after a service in it which extended over a period of twelve years. He was highly esteemed for his manly qualities and kindlynature. The news of his passing came as a great shock to me. We cannot measure the sense of loss that is suffered by those to whom he was near and dear. He gave freely of his services to his country, and for that he merited the thanks of the nation. I move -

That this House expresses its sincere regret at the death of the Honorable Thomas Joseph Collins, a former member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Hume and a Minister of the Grown, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.

Leader of the Opposition · Kooyong

.- On behalf of the Opposition, I second the motion. Tom Collins wasthe friend of every member of this House, and a very warm feeling will go out from them to his widow and daughter. As the Acting Leader of the House has said, he was a manly man who gave able and faithful service to the people of Australia. He was a good companion in the best sense of the word, as well as a loyal friend.

It may not be inappropriate for me to recall and place on record in this House, that one of the many endearing qualities of the late honorable member was an unrivalled knowledge of the literature of this country, particularly the poetry of its outback. Many a time, often in circumstances of great strain, I, in common with other honorable members, have been relieved by having Tom Collins recite from his remarkable memory and in his magnificent voice some of the poetry that our country has produced. We all are very sad at his death. It is proper that his family should know that our memories of him are entirely happy ones.

Darling DownsLeader of the Australian Country party

– I support the motion, and endorse the sentiments that have been expressed at the passing of our friend and excolleague, and my mate, Tom Collins. 1 have risen in my place many times in similar circumstances, but never previously -with, such deep sorrow as that which I feel on this occasion. Tom Collins wa3 the mate of everybody who knew him. He was a great Australian, who radiated keen humour and good fellowship in every gathering that was privileged to have his attendance. His understanding and kindly nature enabled him to relieve the stresses and strains of difficult circumstances. He personified the Australian countryside, and interpreted the works of its poets and bards as could no one else. There was a serious side to his nature, and he fought strongly for his deep-seated convictions. He believed in his fellowmen, particularly those who are carrying on the great services of the outback. Tn advocating their cause, his efforts were untiring. He was a hard worker, and conscientious to the last degree. His love of the British Empire was unbounded. Honorable members may not know that he enlisted for service in the Boer War at the early age of fifteen years, without disclosing his correct age, but served for only a short period, because, happily, the conflict terminated not long after he had arrived at Capetown. I miss my pal Tom, and so do the other members of the Australian Country party. We extend our sympathy to his wife and daughter, upon whom he doted, and for whom he always showed every consideration. The family was a very happy one. The memory that they have of him, together with the knowledge that they share of the respect and warm regard in which this great Australian was held, will he some consolation to those who are left to mourn his loss.


– I join with the Acting Leader of the House (Mr. Chifley), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) in paying a tribute to the late Tom Collins, who was my predecessor in the representation of Hume in. this Parliament for twelve and a half years, during the whole of which period I was well acquainted with him. Despite our ‘political differences, and the fact that I was one of his foremost opponents in all his contests and stood against him on two occasions, we were friends, and I always had a very high regard for his personal qualities. His reputation not only where lie lived but also throughout the electorate was that of a good citizen who, in the depression years, was generous to many unfortunate people who needed assistance. He was also well esteemed as a good sportsman. His passing is mourned by a wide circle of friends. He had a genial manner, which is one of the qualities that Australians appreciate and admire, particularly in their public representatives. I add my expression of sympathy to his widow and daughter, and to all others who are bereaved by the passing of one who was a good husband and father and a warm-hearted friend.

Wide Bay

–I support the motion, and endorse the remarks of the speakers who have preceded me. The members of ali parties in this House realize that in the passing of Tom Collins they have lost an associate who was always assiduous in his public duties and unflagging in his determination to do what he regarded as right. He occupied a warm place in the hearts of all sections of the community and of this House. He was a man of many parts. From modest beginnings in his youth he made a success of country life and set an example to other country men. He remained in the country and fought for rural interests for practically the whole .of his life. He will be missed by a large number of friends. To know him was to be his friend. Honorable members will recall that on many occasions he brightened their dull mom eaits by his great qualities and his kindly acts. He proved an inspiration to all with whom he associated. I extend my sympathy to his widow and daughter in their great loss, and assure them that the deceased will be remembered with great respect not only because of his achievements as a member of this Parliament, but also because he was a good Australian with whom all who had the privilege of his acquaintance were proud to associate.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.

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Equipment - Suits for Discharged Personnel


– Has the Minister representing the Acting Minister for the Army read an article in the Sydney Daily Mirror of the 16th April, headed : “ Harrison won’t take firearms to Parliament?” The honorable member for Wentworth was reported as having said: “ The Army might seize the weapons and trace the service personnel who have offered them to me.” “Will the Acting Minister for the Army inquire as to the source of supply of such Army equipment to the honorable member for Wentworth, with a view to having it returned immediately to the proper authority?

Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research · CORIO, VICTORIA · ALP

– I shall refer the matter to the Acting Minister for the Army, and ask him to consider whether the suggestion made by the honorable member can be given effect.


– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question about the provision of an increased allowance of money to enable soldiers, who were discharged before June of last year, to buy civilian clothing. By way of explanation, I quote the following extract from a letter which I received from the Secretary to the Department of the Army: -

I refer to the matter raised by you in the House on the 8th March, 1945, relating to the provision of civilian suits to discharged members of the forces and your letter of the same date on behalf of Mr. H. Chandler, of 128 Ryan-street, South Grafton. .

The amount payable at the time of discharge of Mr. Chandler was £2 10s. in lieu of a suit and 10s. in lieu ofa hat.

Various decisions have been made by War Cabinet on this matter, and the amounts and ‘ conditions have been varied from time to time. The latest decision was given on 9th June. 1944, and it provides for the issue of purchase vouchers valued at £6 10s. in lieu of a suit, £1 in lieu of a hat, and £1 in lieu of a pair of shoes.

The decisions of War Cabinet have no retrospective effect, but, subsequent to your representations, the Minister has communicated with the Treasurer, who has now advised that he is examining the question and will advise him further in regard to this matter.

Has the Treasurer yet reached a decision regarding what is to be done for these men who are in urgent need of clothing, and cannot buy a suit of clothes for £2 10s. ?


– Several Cabinet decisions have been given regarding this matter. I shall have a statement prepared setting out the exact position.

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Increased Prices - Release of Man-power.


– Will the Acting Prime Minister inform the House whether the increased prices of butter and cheese to be charged to Great Britain under the new agreement provide for increased prices to the primary producers, or whether it will be used to reduce the Commonwealth Government’s subsidy to the dairying industry, which was given partly to offset the low fixed price at which butter is sold in Australia ?


– A full statement has been issued on that matter, but if the honorable member will place the question on the notice-paper I shall arrange to have a complete reply furnished to him.


– I wish to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question relating to the release of man-power for the dairying industry. I preface my question by stating briefly that the practice in the dairying industry has been for local man-power committees and district war agricultural committees to recommend that certain members of theServices be released to work in certain areas. In many cases, however, the man-power authorities have refused to forward these recommendations to the Services on the ground that there is available in the areas concerned a number of rural workers. The fact is that as no accommodation can be provided for these men it is impossible to employ them. I ask the Minister whether he will issue a direction to the man-power authorities that even although there may be other rural workers available, requests by the committees to which I have referred should be forwarded to. the Services.

Minister for Labour and National Service · MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP

– It is true that in the early stages of the war when we decided to ask the Services to release men for the dairying industry, one obstacle was that only members of families residing in the districts where labour was required could be employed as accommodation could not be provided for strangers. However, in the cases to which the right honorable member for Cowper refers the reason for refusal to grant further releases is that the number of men allocated to the dairying industry at the last allotment by the War Commitments Committee and War Cabinet has been exhausted.

Sir Earle Page:

– That is not the reason.


– If it is not, I shall certainly ask that the right honorable member’s suggestion be given effect.

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– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service, or the Government, or the Man Power Directorate, taken any action, or had any discussion with officers of the Railways Department and officials of the Australian Railways Union, with a view to the release of man-power for the assistance of railway and tramway men who have worked long hours without leave during the war?


– For the last three or four weeks, conferences with manpower authorities and representatives of the Australian Railways Union have been held in each of the States. Even yesterday, the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) and I met representatives of the Federal and State branches of the union, and a plan is now being prepared with a view to granting some relief to those workers.

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– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service read the recentpress reports that man-power officers at Kent-street, Sydney, have been instructed, and were instructed at the time of Mr. Cheeseman’s resignation, to give preference in employment to members of the Builders’ Workers Industrial Union? Did the Minister state the position as at the 23rd March last correctly? Did Mr. Cheeseman resign because he was instructed by senior officers of his department to give preference to members of the Builders’ Workers Industrial Union? Are officials of the Department of Labour and National Service still working under instructions of the Director-General of Man Power, or are they working under the Minister’s instructions? Has the Minister withdrawn his direction to manpower officials, and, if so, for what reason ?


– The answer which I. gave when this question was last raised in this House by the honorable member holds good to-day. Many points are involved,and it would be unwise for me to attempt now to make a full reply to the question, as the matter is before the court. The statement which I made in the House two or three weeks ago was correct. No order has been given by me or the manpower authorities altering the instructions alreadyissued.


– I desire to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question arising out of the shipping hold-up on the Sydney waterfront which has occurred, I understand, as the result of a dispute between two industrial unions. How many ships are held up? For how long have they been held up? What action has the Government taken to get those ships moving again?


– I do not know how many ships are affected. I think this is a case of another exaggeration by Smith’s Weekly; but, unfortunately, it is true that owing to an industrial dispute ship repair work has been interrupted. It is very difficult to deal with internecine trouble, when it is not a matter between the union and. the employer. The matterhas been referred to the court, which, I think, will deal with it next Monday. I do not wish to discuss the matter as it is sub judice.


– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service if’ it is a fact, as reported in to-day’s

Sydney press, that industrial disputes stopped urgent repair work on eight ships and the loading of two other vessels in Sydney yesterday, whilst five other vessels were unable to obtain any wharf labour, and sixteen were worked short-handed? If so, does the Government intend to allow this industrial lawlessness to continue, or, having regard particularly to the acute shortage of shipping in the Australian trade, does it intend to remedy the position?


– I have already answered a similar question. I shall not indicate the number of ships involved.

Mr Bernard Corser:

– I have just given the figures.


– I receive a report daily concerning the number of ships involved, and I have not yet received any report indicating the numbers just mentioned by the honorable member.

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– Will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction inform the House whether his department proceeded against Mr. James Patrick Murphy, of Rutile Mineral Sands Proprietary Limited? Was a conviction recorded against him on the 31st August last ? Is it a fact that Mr. Murphy appealed against the conviction, and that on the 14th April Judge Storkey quashed the conviction and order of the magistrate? As Mr. Murphy proved that he had been operating on the mineral sands at Cudgen, New South Wales, prior to the promulgation under the National Security Act of regulation 59a.a, will the department now assist him to get the necessary machinery to carry on the work, and send rutile to Great Britain, where it is required, particularly in view of the fact that an American syndicate is operating in Australia and could import the machinery required for separating the sands? As the department has been proved to have acted wrongly in endeavouring to force Mr. Murphy to sell out his interests to somebody who desired to take them over, will the Minister now assist him?


– This is a highly involved matter, which relates to the use being made in Australia of certain valuable mineral sands. It was the duty of the

Government to ensure, in the first place, that man-power and resources were not used in the exploration and exploitation of the deposits on a scale not warranted by the need for these materials. In the second place, it has to be remembered that the deposits represent a wasting asset, and that the best use should be made of them, having regard to national welfare. The fact that a prosecution failed in one of the courts does not prove that the Department of “War Organization of Industry was wrong in bringing the prosecution.

Mr Conelan:

– The department’s advisers were wrong.


– That does not necessarily follow, either. The Government has investigated this matter very closely within the last few days. It is proposed to take certain steps to ensure that these mineral sands shall be utilized in the best interests of the nation. A system of control of the industry will be worked out to ensure this, and also to ensure the equitable treatment of all those who are concerned in the matter.


– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping whether in view of the decision of Judge Storkey at Casino last week in the Tweed. lau tile Sands Syndicate case, lit will take steps to sponsor the efforts of James Murphy to obtain machinery from America so that this young Australian can carry out this most important extraction of zircon from sand at Cudgen ?

Vice-President of the Executive Council · WEST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– This matter is being handled by the Department of Post-war Recon s tract ion .

Mr Conelan:

– That department is concerned only in respect of the granting of permits.


– I am not at. liberty to discuss the matter in detail, because the Minister has placed before Cabinet a lengthy submission and has asked for a direction on the matter.

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Aircraft Crash near Spring Plains.

Minister for Air · MaribyrnongMinister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation · ALP

by leave - The report and findings of Mr. Justice Philp, who constituted the Air Court of Inquiry in relation to the accident in which a Stinson aircraft was involved at Spring Plains, Victoria, on the 31st January last, were submitted to HisRoyal Highness the Governor-General. I now lay them on the table.

In doing so, I direct the attention of honorable members to the terms of reference, the findings of the court, and the judge’s recommendations, together with the qualifications placed by him on his findings. Honorable members will note first that His Honour was required, under the terms of reference, to inquire and report on -

  1. The cause of the accident.
  2. The allegation made by Mr. J. J. Clark, M.P., to the effect that a crack had been observed in the tail of the said Stinson aircraft on the twenty-sixth day of January, 1045, and whether or not the alleged crack was a contributing cause of the accident.
  3. Whether the conversion of the said Stinson aircraft from a trimotor to a twinmotor aircraft was a contributing cause of the accident.
  4. In relation to the foregoing, any other matters inquiry into which is necessary or desirable in the public interests, and to make such recommendations in relation to the aforesaid matters as the court may deem necessary or desirable.

His Honour’s findings, as summarized in his report, and subject to certain qualifications, were -

  1. I find that the cause of the accident was the fracture of the lug attachment of the port outer wing lowerboom; that this fracture caused that wing to be torn from the aircraft with consequent disaster; that the fracture was due to fatigue starting in the weld metal of the attachment and thence progressing into the parent metal thereof; that in the state of knowledge existing before the accident - assuming the fatigue crack to have been visible - the reasonably careful inspections which were made could not have been fairly expected to discover it.
  2. I find that the allegations made by Mr. J. J. Clark to the effect that a crack had been observed in the tail of VH-UYY on 26th January, 1945, are true in the following sense: -

I find on the balance of probabilities, but not beyond reasonable doubt, that on that date a crack, not in the tail as such but in the attachment lug of the outboard port elevator hinge bracket, did exist and that this crack was a hairline crack about one-sixteenth of an inch long. I find that this crack in no way was a contributing cause of the accident.

  1. I find that the conversion of VH-UYY from a trimotor to a twin-motor aircraft was a contributing cause of the accident only in this sense that such conversion permitted heavier loads to be put upon the attachment which failed, and that in consequence heavier loads were in fact put thereon. Such heavier loads probably accelerated the progress of the fatigue, and so the time of the final failure was accelerated partly by the conversion.

His Honour stated his appreciation of the reasons which led to the conversion from three motors to two, referred to in his third finding. He declared that -

The redesigning of the aircraft for the purpose of this substitution and the calculations involved therein were undertaken by officers of the department and the actual work of reconstruction was performed by officers of the company under the supervision of officers of the department.

I have no reason to doubt that all these tasks were performed by competent officers. Extensive flight tests were made to prove the efficacy of the conversion. After the crash the Director-General of Civil Aviation caused the redesigning and calculations involved therein to be checked by officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. One of these officers gave evidence and said that after such checking these officers were satisfied that the aircraft as redesigned complied with all airworthiness requirements obtaining in America and Australia.

His Honour’s recommendations were -

  1. Inspection of Welding. - I recommend that all ground engineers and inspectors be given special instructions concerning the great necessity of inspecting welding in vital parts and reports concerning the degree and nature of inspections of such welding should be made and considered upon application for renewal of Airworthiness Certificates.
  2. Fatigue Detecting Apparatus. - It is apparent from what I have said that fatigue ran occur in vital parts of aircraft without giving any signs recognizable by visual examination. A fatigue crack may be under the skin of the metal or on the skin as an invisible line and such cracks are only discoverable by special apparatus.

For discovery of such cracks in ferric metals a magnetic detector is used. This consists in inducing a magnetic field in the part to be examined and applying to its surface filings either dry or suspended in kerosene.

If a sufficiently strong magnetism is induced and the crack is sufficiently near the surface in relation to that strength, the lines of magnetic force arc at the surface and cause the filings to form a line which discloses the site and direction of the crack.

Such magnetic detectors have been used for some time by the company to test parts on the bench but no apparatus is available for testing partsin situ. Recently an American corporation which markets a detector called “ Magna-flux “ has produced a portable detector which it claims is effective for examination of parts in situ. Notice of this new production has only recently been received in Australia, and nothing is known here of its merits. The company is anxious to be given import licence and other facilities to enable it to purchase one or more of these portable detectors and I strongly recommend that that be done. The department also should institute a full inquiry as to the efficacy of this apparatus and if found satisfactory and practicable, such apparatus should be installed at main aerodromes. I should say that in the course of this inquiry I have formed aclear impression that the company is most anxious to keep abreast of all new aviation developments, and the department relies greatly on the company for the provision of necessary inspecting equipment.

With regard to non-ferric metal, magnetic detection of fatigue is impossible and the method employed in relation to such metals is by X-ray apparatus. Full investigation of this method and its practicability for examining parts insitu should be immediately instituted, particularly as the trend is progressively to construct aircraft from non-ferric met als.

  1. The Fixation of theFlying Life of Air- craft. - This question has been brought sharply forward by this accident.

Apparently no limit on flying life is imposed in any country, but in Canada a move has been made to fix the Hying life of all-metal aircraft at fourteen years.

It appears to me proper that some such limitation shouldbe introduced. The limit no doubt would require to be fixed arbitrarily since it seems that in the present state of knowledge the safe life of any particular type of aircraft cannot scientifically be forecast. Upon the fixation of such a life, operating companies could so adjust fares and freight as to make a write-off of the aircraft at the end of its fixed life economic.

The responsibility for determining the period of fixed life would no doubt be very great, but investigation of the subject by the best qualified persons and bodies should be immediately instituted. 4.LogBooks. - As usually happens in such an accident, the log book of VH-UYY was destroyed so that the most accessible and complete history of the aircraft was unavailable.

The log book must by law and of necessity be carried in the aircraft and no duplicate is kept.

I recommend that some method be introduced of keeping on the ground a duplicate of the log book kept as up to date as possible.

The company and the department expressed agreement with this recommendation.

  1. I recommend that the regulations concerning the constitution and powers of Air Courts of Inquiry be reviewed, particularly in relation to the provision with regard to assessors and their qualifications and the duty of such a court to institute certain inquiries ex mero motu.

His Honour, in conclusion, acknowledged his indebtedness to the assessors, the members of the legal profession who appeared, and to the Registrar for their assistance in the inquiry. I offer the thanks of the Government to the Queensland Government for having made the services of His Honour, Mr. Justice Philp, available, and to His Honour for this thorough inquiry and report. I would like to add also that the matters covered in the recommendations made by the court either have already received or are now receiving attention.

I lay on the table the following paper : -

Stinson Aircraft Accident, Spring Plains, Victoria, 31st January, 1945. - Findings of Air Court of Inquiry. and move -

That the paper be printed.

Debate (on motion by Mr. White) adjourned.

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– Can the Minister for

Munitions say whether the Aluminium Commission, for which provision is made under the Aluminium Industry Act 1944, has yet been appointed ? If not, will he explain the delay in setting up this body? If the commission has been appointed, will he inform the House who is the chairman of that body?

Minister for Munitions · HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– Last week I had an opportunity to confer with Mr. Cosgrove, the Premier of Tasmania, in relation to the personnel of the commission which will control the aluminium industry in Tasmania. I hope that within a few days I shall be in a position to announce the personnel of the commission.

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Rocklea Cottage Project - Commonwealth and State Schemes


-Can the Minister for Labour and National Service say how many cottages of the Rocklea cottage project have been completed and occupied, and whether any cottages have been completed, but not occupied ? Will he inform the House of the position generally in regard to this project ?


– The total number of cottages in the project is 186. Up to date, 90 cottages have been completed and occupied, and 52 cottages have been completed except for the installation of gas. and sewerage services. The remaining 44 have been completed except for their connexion with various services. The latest report is that within six or seven weeks the whole of the 186 cottages will be finished and, no doubt, occupied.

BATMAN, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– Can the Acting Leader of the House indicate how far advanced is the Commonwealth’s housing scheme?

Mr.CHIFLE Y . - T he construction of houses is, in the main, being carried out by State authorities in conjunction with the Commonwealth Government. A proposal will later he brought before this House as the basis ofan agreement to be entered intobetween the Commonwealth and the States with respect to the financing of housing schemes. The Commonwealth itself has no authority to engage in the building of houses except for munitions workers and members of the services under the War Service Homes Act. Therefore, we are obliged to make arrangements with the States to carry out housing schemes. I understand that having regard to the availability of man-power and materials the housing programme is progressing favorably in some States, although no State has yet erected its allotted quota of houses. I shall ask the Minister for Labour and National Service to prepare a statement dealing with the allocation of quotas, in respect of which the Minister for War Organization of Industry has granted permits under the building trades regulations, and the progress that has been made in each State.

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– Has the Acting Leader of the House seen the report in yesterday’s Sun Pictorial that four ships which had been commissioned to load meat for Britain recently left Australian ports empty? If the facts be as stated, will the Minister say why the ships were allowed to leave empty, and what action the Government intends to take to ensure that the people of Britain shall not be denied adequate supplies of Australian meat?


-I have not seen the newspaper report to which the honorable member has referred, but, possibly, circumstances have arisen to cause the ships not to be loaded, as, for instance, lack of sufficient goods to occupy the refrigeration space available.

Mr Beasley:

– The ships may have left to load goods at other ports.


-I shall have inquiries made, and will let the honorable member know the result.

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– I n the absence of the

Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, 1 ask the Acting Leader of the House whether, in view of the unsatisfactory methods at present used in making available wheat for stock feed and other purposes at concession prices, the Minister will give early consideration to setting up a governmental purchasing authority, whose duty would he to buy from the Australian Wheat Board all wheat which is subject to distribution at less than export prices, such purchasing authority to make prompt payments to the Australian Wheat Board, either weekly or at other suitable intervals, on the basis of current values, thereby placing all concessional wheat sales in future on a proper business footing?


– The suggestions of the honorable member will be given careful consideration.

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– Towards the end of last, session questions were raised in. this House by other members and myself concerning a statement made in Adelaide by Air Vice Marshal Jones, that there was a shortage of aircraft and that difficulty was being experienced in obtaining sufficient aircraft to meet the requirements of the Royal Australian Air Force. The Minister for Air then undertook to call for a report and to advise the House of the result. Can he now say whether he has called for the report and, if so, whether it, has been received. Has he any statement to make to the House?


– I did call for a report, and I have since obtained it. The report is now in my possession, and I am considering it.

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– Will the Minister for Repatriation make provision for pension payments by his department to be forwarded by post in cheque form to those recipients who desire payment to be made in that way? I point out that such a system would be similar to that which now operates in respect of invalid and old-age pensions and is greatly appreciated by those pensioners who have difficulty in attending in person on the dates on which pensions are payable, and yet do not desire other persons to collect for them.

Minister for Repatriation · FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · ALP

– Some time ago the matter of paying war pensions by cheque was considered, but it was found that considerable difficulties would be experienced, and that the system would involve the Treasury in a great deal more work. In some instances, payment was made to the bank accounts of pensioners, but that system did not work satisfactorily. I shall go. into the matter again with a view to seeing whether the suggestion of the honorable member can be given effect.

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Professional and Vocational Training


– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service inform the House whether the Commonwealth Government’s vocational and professional training scheme, which is a part of the reconstruction plan, has yet been commenced? If it has, to what extent have our young discharged service men and women availed themselves of the scheme ?


– The Commonwealth vocational and professional training scheme is in operation, and it is appreciated by most discharged men and women. In round numbers, 4,500 people are going through courses. Of the 1,000 undergoing full-time vocational and professional courses, 900 are undergoing vocational training and 100 professional training. Professional courses include chemistry, architecture, metallurgy, and dentistry. Of the total, 3,500 have chosen part-time courses. Half are attending classes and the other half are taking correspondence courses. There is not the slightest doubt about the appre ciation of the scheme. The only worry that the director, Mr. Eltham, has is the difficulty of obtaining teachers, accommodation and equipment to make it possible to train all the young people seeking training.

Mr McDonald:

– What is the Government going to do about it?


– It will be done as is everything else that the Government is asked to do.

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– Has the Acting Leader of the House seen press reports about the ill treatment of Australian prisoners of war in Germany? In view of those reports . and the official reports of brutality inflicted by the Japanese on Australian men in their hands, will the honorable gentleman make a declaration on behalf of Australia, in the hope that it will result in better treatment of our prisoners by the enemies, that Australia desires that those responsible be listed as war criminals, and advise our representatives abroad to that effect in order that they may make the announcement in international discussions?


– I have both read in the press and heard over the wireless statements covering what the honorable gentleman has mentioned. I shall certainly bring the matter to the notice of the Prime Minister and, if necessary, the Minister for External Affairs, so that the honorable gentleman’s suggestion shall have the fullest consideration.

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–Will the Minister for Labour and National Service call for a report from National Service officers as to the unemployment, if any, prevailing in Wellington, Forbes, Cowra and Parkes as a consequence of the closing down of munitions factories? Will the Minister consult the Minister whose jurisdiction covers the letting of former munitions factories with a view to making public any offers by a private operator to use the Wellington factory?


– I do not admit that there are any unemployed-

Mr Breen:

– I do not say that there are.


– Except in transition from one place to another,but I shall certainly consult the Minister for Munitions and perhaps the Treasurer, to see what can be done to make use of the factories to suit the needs of the people in those districts.

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– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether you have read reports in the press that Mr. E. K. White and others have resigned from the central council of the Liberal party of Australia as a protest against that party’s tie-up with big business through the Institute of Public Relations, and that their resignation has been followed by an appeal by the parliamentary leader of the party, the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), for generous donations to the party “ with no strings attached “. In view of the many changes that have been made in the name of the Opposition party in recent years, will you endeavour to get an assurance that, should the public be deluded into returning the party to power, it will remain Liberal and that its liberality will not be merely that extended to the “ generous “ donors to party funds?


– What happens to Mr. White is not a matter of urgency or national importance.

page 919



Participation of British Forces in Pacific Operations.


– I ask the Acting Leader of the House whether there has been any loss of confidence by the Commonwealth ‘Government in the sincerity of the intention of the British Government to lend the full weight of its resources in seeing the Pacific war through to the end? If not, did the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) speak for the Commonwealth Government in his reported statement in London published throughout Australia -

Isay to Britons, with all the emphasis at my command, that there must be no slacking until the military colossus in the East has been struck in the dust. . . . Australians will play their part with greater skill and fortitude if they can feel that Britons’ shoulders are still firmly exerting their full weight against the wheel?

If there has not been any deterioration in the confidence between the two Governments, does the Acting Leader of the House not consider such remarks to be gratuitously offensive ?


– Order ! The honorable member was doing very well until he started to debate the question.


– Well, does the Minister consider such remarks to be gratuitous, out of place and not in the best taste, and willhe request that the Minister for the Army refrain from making such offensive statements in the future?


– Order ! The whole question is full of debate and entirely out of order.

page 919




– Can the Minister for

Labour and National Service make a statement with regard to the shearing strike in New South Wales, particularly in view of the deplorable position existing in certain areas, where, as the result of the drought, crutching must be carried out in order to combat the blowfly?


– Last week I met representatives of the Graziers’ Association in Melbourne. The only complaint made with respect to Queensland was that not sufficient shearers were crossing the border from New South Wales to help in Queensland. The graziers’ representatives asked that the Man Power Directorate should direct shearers in New South Wales to go to Queensland. The man-power authorities have been asked to look into this matter. One difficulty is that as most of the flocks have already been shorn in Queensland it might not be profitable for shearers from New South Wales to go to that State for the limited amount of work that would be offering. The man-power authorities are now inquiring whether that -difficulty can be met by paying the travelling costs so incurred. The dispute in New South Wales has been referred to the court, and I understand that Judge Kelly will deal with the matter within the next few days. The man-power authorities have promised to do all they possibly can to assist in the matter. Representatives of the graziers have stated that numbers of shearers are engaged in other work and an.- not doing any shearing at all. Shearers who are found to be doing other work of a lower priority than shearing will be directed to shearing. The dispute generally is now the subject, of an application to the Arbitration Court, and should be dealt with in a few days.

page 920




– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service any further information in reply to the question I asked some time ago concerning the shortage of explosives in the coal-mining industry? On that occasion he replied that the shortage was due to the fact that sufficient girls could not be obtained as operatives in explosives factories. No doubt, the press will blame the coal-miners should stoppages occur owing to the shortage of explosives.


– We have made some progress since the honorable member warned us of the danger arising from the depletion of stocks of explosives for the coal-mining industry. I called a conference in Melbourne between the Man Power Directorate and the management of Nobel (Australasia) Proprietary Limited, which manufactures the explosives. That conference agreed upon certain means to obtain the operatives required., and as the result 28 women started on this work during the last fortnight. Of those women eighteen have promised to remain permanently in that employment, whilst the remaining ten were found to be unsuitable. In the meantime, two shipments of explosives have been forwarded to New South Wales, and the management of Nobe.1 Proprietary Limited has now advised that there is no danger of any shortage of explosives in, the near future.

page 920




– Has the Acting Leader <5f the House seen a report published in the press attributing to the Deputy Prime Minister, who is now abroad, the statement that the Government was looking to private enterprise to develop Australia in the post-war period? Does this statement, by no less an authority than the Deputy Prime Minister, reflect a change of heart on the part of the Government, and an acknowledgment that its previously announced proposals have broken down?


– I have read several statements by the Deputy Prime Minister, but I do not remember the exact wording of them. At a meeting with representatives of manufacturing interests the Prime Minister made a statement, which was published in the press and is available to honorable members, announcing the Government’s policy in regard to this matter. That policy has not been changed.

page 920




– To clarify the attitude of the Commonwealth Government to the problem of soil erosion, I ask the Acting Leader of the House whether the Government is prepared to provide financial and technical assistance to deal with this national menace on an effective basis in co-operation with the States.


– I am afraid that in answering this question I am unable to cover all the ground which could be covered by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, who presided at a meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council, at which Ministers for Agriculture from the various States discussed this matter.

Mr Wilson:

– Will the Commonwealth co-operate?


– At the meeting to which I have referred, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture made it quite clear that the Commonwealth favoured co-ordinated effort by the Commonwealth and the States. So far as technical assistance and advice are concerned, it has been the policy of all Commonwealth governments to aid the States in every possible way. This Government will continue that policy. I have no recollection of any request for financial assistance having been made, but I have no doubt that any form of co-operation will involve such assistance. Any reasonable request by the States will receive consideration.

page 921



– I lay on the table reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board on the following subjects : -

Use of Cane Sugar in Sauterne.

Spirit for Fortification of Wine

Prices for Grapes and Fortifying Spirits

Ordered to be printed.

page 921




Mr. FADDEN (Darling Downs-

Leader of the Australian Country party) [3.37].- I move-

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Order of the Bay No. !) being considered forthwith.

I take this action in view of the urgent importance of Order of the Day No. 9, which deals with the equipment of Australian troops. The debate upon the ministerial statement relating to this matter was to have been resumed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), who I regret, is absent from the House to-day owing to indisposition. My party considers this matter to be of such great importance that it should receive the immediate attention of the House - certainly it is of greater importance than the items which precede it on the noticepaper. The equipment of members of our fighting services is the concern of every honorable member of this House, and the information which has come into the possession of members of my party with regard to this matter is of such a nature that we believe there should be not. one moment’s delay in having remedied immediately the unsatisfactory state of affairs which is known to exist in battle areas in which Australian troops are engaged. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) has carried out considerable research in this matter in a conscientious endeavour to emphasize the Government’s responsibility. All honorable members will agree that the full and immediate equipment of members of our fighting forces is a matter of the greatest importance to Parliament, and to the people of this country, but in view of the Government’s legislative programme, the House would not, in the ordinary course of business, have an opportunity to discuss this order of the day with the expedition that its subject-matter warrants. I make this motion so that we who are the trustees for the people of this country and the guardians of its fighting forces, shall have an opportunity to discharge our responsibility at the earliest possible moment. Whether or not the equipment of our fighting forces is adequate I do not know, but the information in the hands of members of my party is such that the Government is in duty bound to permit a discussion of this matter so that Ministers may stand up to the charges which will be levelled against it from this side of the House. By placing this item in its present position on the notice-paper the Government has caused delay. In reply to my motion, the Treasurer will say that there are two important reasons why it should not be carried. One of these is the absence of the Prime Minister, and the other is that a report from the Acting Minister for the Army (Senator Eraser) who was sent on a tour of the battle areas, is not yet available. The report should have been available to-day in order that this House could consider it and be advised on this very important matter. Postponement of the discussion until next week may result in an unnecessary loss of Australian lives due to the lack of equipment which ii urgently needed in the battle areas. It is apparent from the murmuring of certain honorable members opposite that my proposal is getting under their skins. They do not agree with honorable members on this side of the House about the urgency of the matter. So seriously do members of the Australian Country party regard the shortage of equipment for our armed forces that, at the New South Wales conference of the party in Sydney last week, the honorable member for New England submitted a motion which was seconded by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony)-

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. J. S. Rosevear). Order! I cannot see the relevance of a motion agreed to by the Australian Country party conference to the motion now before the House.


-I submit that, there is a definite link.


– I rule that there is no link.


– The matter is considered by honorable members on this side of the House to be so urgent as to make its immediate consideration, imperative.

New England

.- I second the motion. Order of the Day No. 9 on the notice-paper is the most important item which this Parliament can discuss at the present time. I regret the illness of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) ; I am sure that he desires to be present when the subject of army equipment is discussed in this chamber, but the illness of one man, however high his office, should not delay consideration of a matter which may involve the lives of many men in New Guinea and other battle areas to the north of. Australia. When I hear exclamations from honorable members opposite who mutter amongst themselves, I say to myself, “ What do they know of war who war have never known “. J have some galahs at home who talk as they do. The Government has delayed too long in fully equipping our soldiers in Now Guinea. This is not the first time that the shortage of army equipment in battle areas to the north of Australia has been brought to the notice of the public. On the 21st March the Sydney Morning Herald published a report from Mr. Scarlett, a war correspondent at Aitape, containing statements regarding army equipment which should have been investigated immediately. The information which I intend to supply to the House discloses a deplorable state of affairs in the Pacific battle zones, and particularly in the Aitape area. The lives of Australian soldiers are being needlessly endangered; I say this after carefully weighing my words. I know that by speaking as I am I am jeopardizing my political future, but I am willing to do so in the hope that I can bring the Government to a realization of its responsibility to provide proper equipment for our fighting services.

Treasurer · Macquarie · ALP

– The Government will not agree to suspend the Standing Orders at this time in order to permit discussion of Order of the Day No. 9. Its decision has nothing to do with the unfortunate indisposition of the Prime

Minister. I shall not canvass the merits or demerits of the matter which the Leader of the Country party (Mr. Fadden) desires to debate. I shall merely state the facts. Certain authoritative statements have been made by the Prime Minister and the Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Land Forces regarding army equipment in the South-West Pacific Area, and following upon criticism of this equipment, the Prime Minister deputed the Acting Minister for the Army (Senator Fraser) to visit the battle areas in order to make a personal inspection of equipment and to investigate other matters affecting Australians fighting in those areas. The Acting Minister for the Army has returned, but his report will not be completed until late this afternoon, when it will be submitted to the Prime Minister. Even if the Prime Minister had been, well enough to attend in this House this afternoon, he would not have had time to consider that report. Furthermore, after he has read the report, there will doubtless be some matters upon which he will seek further information from the Acting Minister for the Army. The Government has not the slightest desire to burke any discussion of this matter. I say that without heat, and I am sorry that the honorable member for New England, as is his custom, has engaged in heated oratory on this matter. It is in the interests of Australian soldiers and the public generally that this subject should be dealt with reasonably and calmly. The Government will be prepared to place before the House all the information at its disposal. I undertake on behalf of the Prime Minister and the Government to see that Order of the Day No. 9 on to-day’s notice-paper shall be placed first on the notice-paper for next Tuesday.

Mr Menzies:

– Does that mean that it will be item No. 1 on the notice-paper ?


-Yes. It will be the first item for debate when the House meets next Tuesday. In the meantime, the Prime Minister will have an opportunity to consider the report of the Acting Minister for the Army. Any reasonable man will agree that the Prime Minister should have time to study it carefully before dealing with it in detail.

In the circumstances, I cannot see that any good purpose would be served by a lengthy discussion at this stage.

Motion (by Mr. Chifley) put -

That the question be now put.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S.Rosevear.)

AYES: 41

NOES: 19

Majority . . . . 22



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Question put -

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Order of the Day No.. 9 being considered forthwith.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S.Rosevear.)

AYES: 19

NOES: 41

Majority . . . . 22



Question so resolved in the negative.

page 923


Motion (by Mr.Chifley) - by leave - agreed to -

Th at leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-44.

Bill presented, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Treasurer · Macquarie · ALP

by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Since the Income Tax Assessment Act was last amended, the Government has given consideration to the weight of taxation on the various sections of the community. It is, I believe, generally accepted that the national financial needs, and the preservation of Australia’s economic structure, do not permit of any general reduction of taxation. Such relief from income tax as maybe afforded at present, must be restricted to those cases in which the burden of the tax is unduly heavy. The provisions of the bill accord with this principle; they will grant income tax concessions in those cases in which urgent relief is justified. The reduction of revenue from income tax that will result from these concessions is estimated at approximately £2.000,000.

It has been considered in many quarters that the payment of tax on an income of £150 or less imposes hardship upon a taxpayer who is maintaining a dependant. It is true that, at present, a taxpayer with a wife and one dependant child does not pay tax if his income is £17.”> or less. However, there are persons without a dependent wife, -but with three dependent children, who arc called upon to pay tax. A person with a dependent wife only, whose income is less than £156, i.s required to pay tax under the existing law. Commencing with the next financial year, income tax will not be payable in such cases; no person with a dependant of any kind - wife, child, dependent mother or housekeeper - will be required to pay tax if his income does not exceed £156.

Mr Menzies:

– Can the honorable gentleman say what loss of revenue will be caused by the granting of that concession ?


– I should imagine that it would be not, more than from £100,000 to £150,000. I shall furnish the exact amount, to the right honorable gentleman before the resumption of the debate.

The bill also contains special concessions for tax-payers who live in the remote parts of Australia. Honorable members will recall the discussion last session regarding the taxation of district and regional allowances. These allowances are paid to employees as compensation for the disabilities of uncongenial climatic conditions, isolation, or relatively high living costs. They are taxable in full ; consequently, the absorption by taxation of a substantial portion largely defeats the purpose for which they are paid. If complete exemption were granted, serious anomalies would arise as between taxpayers living in the same district. How ever, it is considered that some measure of relief should be granted not only to employees but also to all other taxpayers who live in the remote parts of the Commonwealth. The relief proposed takes the form of a special deduction. In order to determine which taxpayers shall be entitled to this special deduction, i.t has been found necessary to divide the continent into zones. Zone A embraces the northern parts of Queensland, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory. The territories of Papua, Norfolk Island, and New Guinea also are included. Taxpayers living in Zone A will be allowed a deduction of £40. Zone B consists broadly of the central and southern parts of Western Australia, the north and west of ‘South Australia, the southern portion of the Northern Territory, central, east-central and south-western Queensland, and the western part of New South Wales. A £20 deduction will be allowed to taxpayers who live in Zone B.

In prescribing the areas of the respective zones, the factors taken into consideration in determining “ climatic conditions, isolation and high cost of living” were rainfall, latitude, distance from centres of population, density of population, predominant ‘ industries, rail and road service, and cost of food and groceries. These factors gave a general picture of the areas in respect of which the allowance should be granted.

Mr Fadden:

– Is this proposal constitutional ?


– That point has been examined, and I have been assured that the proposal is constitutionally sound. I have generally found that any financial relief is regarded as constitutionally sound. The soundness of the decisions made was checked by comparison with similar decisions made by industrial authorities and, in particular, with the party allowances in Queensland, basic wage variations and district allowances in Western Australia, and public service and railways district allowances for Australia as a whole. I would emphasize, however, that allowances of this nature granted by other bodies are of value only as a check or guide, since they are based on many factors, including usage, which are not relevant in deciding the amount, if any, of an income tax deduction. In general, the zones contain only those areas for which the justice of the allowance can he demonstrated. Some areas of doubt occur along the boundary lines, but, looked at ‘broadly, I think it will be acknowledged that a genuine attempt has been made to provide a reasonable concession for residents of the more remote areas of the Commonwealth. The boundaries of the zones have been boldly marked on a large scale map of Australia, and this map will be displayed for the assistance of honorable members.

It is also proposed that some concession should be granted to employees in receipt of living-away-from-home allowances. Various wage-fixing tribunals have granted living-away-from-home allowances to employees whose places of employment are located at distances from their usual place of abode. The allowance is paid to compensate the employee for the additional expenditure he is obliged to incur by reason of his absence from home. Members of the Civil Constructional Corps, and carpenters, bricklayers and railway employees engaged on jobs in the country are some of the classes of employees who receive such allowances. Under the present law, the allowance is assessable income, but no deduction is allowable in receipt of the expenditure incurred by the employee in providing food and accommodation for himself at the place of his employment. This is regarded as imposing an undue hardship on the employees concerned. The view taken is that the only part of the livingawayfromhome allowance that should be taxed is an amount equivalent to the saving in living expenses effected by the taxpayer through not living at his home. This might fairly be reckoned at 15s. a week. On this account, therefore, it is proposed to insert in the principal act, a special provision allowing taxpayers in receipt of such allowances a deduction equal to the difference between the weekly amount of the allowance and 15s. a week. In order to safeguard the revenue, however, it is proposed that if -the allowance exceeds 50s. a week, or if it is paid otherwise than under an award of an industrial tribunal, the deduction shall be such amount as the Commissioner of Taxation considers reasonable.

Income tax concessions are also being provided for taxpayers who incur optical expenses. These are being regarded as medical expenses subject to rebate of tax. The concession is allowable in respect of optical expenses incurred by the taxpayer on his own behalf, and on behalf of his wife and children under the age of 21 years. The concession will afford considerable relief to taxpayers, principally those with family responsibilities.

Taxpayers afflicted with blindness or total invalidity will also benefit under the bill. Where these unfortunate citizens are obliged to engage the services of a personal attendant to care for them, the payments made to the attendant will be treated as medical expenses, and a rebate of tax allowed accordingly. The maximum amount in respect of which a rebate may be allowed for medical, dental and optical expenses and payments to a personal attendant will remain at £50 for the taxpayer and each member of his family.

Taxpayers suffering from the affliction of deafness are also brought within the concessional allowances. These taxpayers will be entitled to a rebate on the amounts paid by them for the purchase and maintenance of hearing aids. As in the case of expenditure on artificial limbs, no limit will be placed on the amount of the rebate allowable under this provision. This allowance will be made independently of any allowance for medical expenses.

Honorable members will recollect the debate that occurred last session regarding the treatment of profit on live-stock sold by taxpayers in consequence of the resumption of their pastoral properties by the Crown for soldier settlement. The debate centred on an amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. In effect, the amendment proposed that the profit on these live-stock sales should be spread over five assessment years. The Government recognizes that the inclusion of the profit in the assessment of the year of sale would operate unfairly. The effect of this, from an income tax point of view, is that the pastoralists affected would in one year be taxed on the proceeds of live-stock sales, whereas, in ordinary circumstances, the sales would be spread over a number of years. As the rate of income tax rises with every increase of taxable income, it will be realized that it is quite possible that a very substantial portion of the proceeds of sale of the stock would thus be absorbed in meeting the tax. The taxpayers might, therefore, be left with relatively little for subsequent replacement of live-stock or investment in other assets. It is accordingly, proposed to give to the pastoralists concerned a right to elect to spread the profit on such sales of livestock over a period of five years. Where such election is made, only one-fifth of the profit will be taxed in the year of sale. However, one-fifth of the profit will also be included in the assessments for each of the four next succeeding years. The concession will extend to partnership and trust estates, but every partner or beneficiary will be given the right to make a separate election regarding the part of the profit in respect of which he is assessable.

There is one further provision in the bill to which I shall briefly refer. At present, there is an anomaly in section 160, which permits a rebate of tax to be allowed to a taxpayer who maintains a dependent wife. The section regards a wife as being wholly maintained if her separate net income for the year docs not exceed £50. If, however, the wife’s separate net income is in excess of £50, no rebate of tax is allowable. Consequently, the receipt by the wife of an income slightly in excess of £50 may have the effect of depriving the taxpayer of a very substantial rebate of tax. It is accordingly being provided that where the income of the wife is between £50 and £100 a year, a reduced rebate of tax will be allowed. The rebate will be diminished proportionately to the excess of the wife’s income over £50. No rebate will be allowable if the income of the wife is £100 or more.

The bill also contains some other amendments of a relatively minor character, which may best be considered in the committee stage of the bill.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.

page 926


In Committee of Ways and Means:

Treasurer · Macquarie · ALP

.- I move-

  1. That a tax be imposed upon incomes at the following rates: -

Division A. - Rate of Tax in Respect of Taxable Income Derived from Personal Exertion.

If the taxable income does not exceed £300, the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including £100 be6 pence, and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of £100 be 30.165 pence increasing uniformly by .165 of one penny for every pound by which the taxable income exceeds £101.

If the taxable income exceeds £300 but does not exceed £1,000 the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including £300 be 44 pence and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of £300 be 96.01 pence increasing uniformly by 01 of one penny for every pound by which the taxable income exceeds £301.

If the taxable income exceeds £1,000 but does not exceed £2,000 the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including £1,000 be 85.3 pence and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of £1,000 be 110.033 pence increasing uniformly by .033 of one penny for every pound by which the. taxable income’ exceeds £1,001.

If the taxable income exceeds £2,000 but does not exceed £3,000 the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including £2,000 be 114.15 pence and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of £2,000 be 176.015 pence increasing uniformly by .015 of one penny for every pound by which the taxable income exceeds £2,001.

If the taxable income exceeds £3,000 but does not exceed £5,000 the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including £3,000 be 139.76 pence and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of £3,000. be 206.004 pence increasing uniformly by .004 of one penny for every pound by which the taxable income exceeds £3,001.

If the taxable income exceeds £5,000 the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including £5,000 be 169.46 pence and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of £5,000 be 222 pence.

Division B. - Rate of Tax in Respect of Taxable Income Derived from Property.

If the taxable income does not exceed £200 the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including £100 be 6 pence and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of £100 be 30.165 pence increasing uniformly by.165 of one penny for every pound by which the taxable income exceeds £101.

If the taxable income exceeds £200 but does not exceed £300 the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including £200 be 26.25 pence and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of £200 be 75.74 pence increasing uniformly by 24 of one penny for every pound by which the taxable income exceeds £201.

If the taxable income exceeds £300 but does not exceed £1,000 the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including £300 be 50.6 pence and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of £300 be 123.51 pence increasing uniformly by 01 of one penny for every pound by which the taxable income exceeds £301.

If the taxable income exceeds £1,000 but does not exceed £2,000 the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including £1,000 be 106.55 pence and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of £1,000 be 137.534 pence increasing uniformly by . 034 of one penny for every pound by which the taxable income exceeds £1,001.

If the taxable income exceeds £2,000 but does not exceed £5,000 the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including £2,000 be 139.025 pence and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of £2,000 be 205.50275 pence increasing uniformly by . 00275 of one penny for every pound by which the taxable income exceeds £2,001.

If the taxable income exceeds £5,000 the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income up to and including £5,000 be 183.86 pence and the rate of tax for every pound of taxable income in excess of £5,000 be 222 pence.

DivisionC. - Rates of Tax in Respect of Taxable Income Derived Partly from Personal Exertion and Partly from Property.

  1. For every pound of taxable income derived from personal exertion, the rate of tax shall be ascertained by dividing the total amount of the tax that would be payable under Division A if the total taxable income of the taxpayer were derived exclusively from personal exertion, by the amount of the total taxable income.
  2. For every pound of taxable income derived from property, the rate of tax shall be ascertained by dividing the total amount of the tax that would be payable under Division B if the total taxable income of the taxpayer were derived exclusively from property, by the amount of the total taxable income.

Division D. - Rates of Tax by Reference to an Average Income.

  1. For every pound of taxable income derived from personal exertion by a taxpayer to whose income Division 16 of Part III. of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1945 applies, the rate of tax shall be ascertained by dividing the tax that would be payable under Division A upon a taxable income from personal exertion equal to his average income, by that average income.
  2. For every pound of taxable income derived by him from property the rate of tax shall be ascertained by dividing the tax that would be payable under Division B upon a taxable income from property equal to his average income, by that average income.

Division E. - Rate of Tax by Reference to a Notional Income.

  1. For every pound of the actual taxable income from personal exertion of a taxpayer deriving a notional income, as specified by sub-section (1.) of section eighty-six of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1945, the rate of tax shall be the amount obtained by dividing the tax that would be payable under Division A upon a taxable income from personal exertion equal to his notional income, by that notional income.
  2. For every pound of the actual taxable income from property of a taxpayer deriving a notional income, as specified by subsection (1.) of section eighty-six of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1945, the rate of tax shall be the amount obtained by dividing the tax that would be payable under Division B upon a taxable income from property equal to bis notional income, by that notional income.

Division F. - Rates of Tax Payable by a Trustee.

For every pound of the taxable income in respect of which a trustee is liable, pursuant to either section ninety-eight or section ninety-nine of the Income Tax Assessment Act . 1936-1945, to be assessed and to pay tax, the rate of tax shall be the rate which would be payable under Division A, B, C, D or E, as the case requires, if one individual were liable to be assessed and to pay tax on that taxable income.

Division G. - Rates of Tax Payable by a Company.

  1. Subject to the last preceding Division, for every pound of the taxable income of a company the rate of tax shall be -

    1. in the ease of a company which is not a life assurance company - Seventytwo pence;
    2. in the case of a company which is a mutual lifeassurance company - Sixty pence; or
    3. in the case of a life assurance company, other than a mutual life assurance company -
    1. 1 ) in respect of the mutual income of the company as defined in sub-section (1a.) of section one hundred and sixty c of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1945 - Sixty pence; and
    2. in respect of the remainder of the taxable income of the company - Seventy-two pence.
  2. Subject to the last preceding Division, for every pound of that portion of the taxable income ofa company which has not been distributed as dividends on which the company is liable, pursuant to Part IIIa. of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1945, to pay further tax, the rate of tax shall be Twenty-four pence.
  3. For every pound of interest in respect, of which a company is liable, pursuant to sub-section (1.) of section one hundred and twenty-five of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1930-1945, to pay income tax, the rate of tax shall be Seventy-two pence.

DivisionII. - Tax Payable on Certain Incomes of less than £200.

Where, apart from this Division, the amount of income tax payable under Division A, B, C, D, E or F would, after deducting all rebates to which a taxpayer is entitled in his assessment, be greater than fifty per centum of the a mount by which the taxable income exceeds -

  1. in any case where the taxable income is less than Two hundred pounds and the taxpayer is entitled to a rebate of tax in his assessment by reference to paragraph (a), (aa), (ab), (b), (ba), (bb) or (c) of sub-section (2.) of section One hundred and sixty of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1945 - One hundred and fifty-six pounds; or
  2. in any case where the taxable income is less than One hundred and thirteen pounds and the taxpayer is not entitled to any such rebate of tax - One hundred and four pounds, the income tax payable in respect of that taxable income shall be fifty per centum of the amount of that excess.

Division I. - TaxPayablewhere Amount would otherwise be less than Ten Shillings. Where, apart from this Division, the amount of income tax which a person would be liable to pay under Division A, B, C, D, . E, F or H, after deducting all rebates to which he is entitled in his assessment, is less than Ten shillings, the income taxpayable by that person shall be Ten shillings.

Division J. - Tax Payable where Amount would otherwise include Odd Pence.

Where, apart from this Division, the income tax which a person would be liable to pay under the preceding Divisions, before deducting any rebate to which he is entitled in his assessment, leaves an amount of pence remaining when expressed in pounds and shillings -

  1. if the remaining pence do not exceed six - the income tax payable by that person shall be the amount so expressed in pounds and shillings; or
  2. if the remaining pence exceed six - the income tax payable by that person shall be the amount so expressed in pounds and shillings plus One shilling.

    1. That, in addition to any income tax payable under the preceding provisions of this

Resolution, there be payable upon the taxable income in excess of Five thousand pounds derived by a company a super-tax at the rate of Twelve pence for every pound of that excess :

Provided that this paragraph shall not apply-

  1. to the assessment of a company as a trustee;
  2. to the income of a company to which section fourteen of the War-time (Company) Tax Assessment Act 1940-1944 provides that that Act shall not apply; or
  3. to the mutual income, as defined in sub-section (I a.) of section one hundred and sixtyc of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936- 1945, of a life assurance company.

    1. That tax in accordance with the preceding provisions of this Resolution be levied and paid for the financial year commencing on the first day of . July, One thousand nine hundred and forty-five, upon the taxable income derived during the year of income as defined. by section six of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1945.
    2. That, until the commencement of the Act for the levying and payment of income tax for the financial year beginning on the first day of July. One thousand nine hundred and forty-six, the foregoing provisions of this Resolution also apply for all financial years subsequent to that commencing on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and forty-five.
    3. That provisional tax be imposed, and be payable in. accordance with the provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1945, in respect of the income of the financial year ending on the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and forty-six, or the accounting period (if any) adopted under that Act in lieu of that financial year,
    4. That, in this Resolution - “ the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936- 1945” mean the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1944, as proposed to be amended by the Income Tax Assessment Bill 1945.

Since I first occupied the position of Treasurer in this House it has been my endeavour to bring before Parliament any proposed changes of the rates of taxation before the commencement of the financial year. The need for this has arisen because of the system of meeting taxation liabilities by instalment deductions from the pay-roll wherever possible. It has become increasingly necessary to adopt this system since the introduction of the pay-as-you-earn system of taxation. The Taxation Department is thus in the position to determine the amounts of instalment deductions to be calculated from salaries and wages during the currency of the financial year affected, and to give all employers ample notice and opportunity to plan the necessary adjustments in their pay-sheets, before the 1st July. In the cases of large public departments, as well as in the cases of public companies employing large numbers, it is essential that alterations in the taxation provisions relating to instalment deductions should be known some weeks beforehand. The assessment of a provisional tax for the current financial year is another reason why it is desirable to make known before the commencement of the financial year, as far as possible, the rates of tax which will then be in operation.

In the course of my remarks on the Income Tax Assessment Bill, I indicated that there would be no alteration of the rates of income tax for the forthcoming financial year. .Such relief from taxation as the present national needs for finance will allow, is to be granted by way of the concessions I have already described. Accordingly, this motion does not differ very materially from the motion adopted by the House last year.

There is, however, a new provision to free taxpayers from the payment of income tax if the taxpayer maintains at least one dependant and his income does not exceed £156 in a year. The effect of this provision may be illustrated by the following example. A taxpayer in receipt of an income of £156 and maintaining a wife, pays £4 4s. income tax in the present financial year. In the forthcoming financial year no income tax will be payable by this person.

Provision is also made in the motion that, where the income of a taxpayer who maintains a dependant exceeds £156 by a small margin, the tax payable shall not ! be greater than one-half of the excess of the income over £156. For example, a widow deriving a taxable income of £160 and maintaining a child under the age of sixteen years pays £6 12s. in the current financial year. In the next financial year this taxpayer will be required to pay only £2 income tax, that is, one-half of the excess of the taxable income over £156. As the rates of income tax for the next financial year are to be the same as those in force for the current financial year, it is hardly necessary for me to embark on any detailed explanation of the resolution.

Briefly, the rate commences at 6d. in the £1 on the first £100 of taxable income and progressively increases until 18s. 6d. in the £1 is payable on the excess of the taxable income over £5,000. The rate of tax on property income between £200 and £5,000 is greater than the rate on personal exertion incomes. The margin of difference in the two rate3 varies from an almost negligible difference on a taxable income of £201 to approximately 25 per cent, on a taxable income of £1,000. From thence onwards the difference diminishes till the income is in excess of £5,000, where 18s. 6d. becomes the maximum rate on both classes of income,

The rate of tax payable by companies is 6s. in the £1, except in regard to income derived from mutual life assurance business, which is taxed at 5s. in the £1. In addition, a public company is required to pay tax on its undistributed profits at the rate of 2s. in the £1 and a super tax at the rate of ls. in the £1 on any excess of taxable income over £5,000. These rates have’ been constant over the past three years.

As I mentioned earlier, the payasyouearn system of taxation now in operation necessitates the payment of provisional tax by persons whose source of income is other than salary or wages. The method of calculating the amount of provisional tax payable is laid down in the Income Tax Assessment Act. In brief, the provisional tax payable in respect of the income of the financial year ending the 30th June, 1946, will be calculated on the basis of the taxable income derived during the year ending the 30th June, 1945. When the actual income of the year ending the 30th June, 1946, is ascertained, an assessment will be made and the provisional tax already paid will be credited in payment of the tax assessed. The Income Tax Assessment Act provides, however, that provisional tax shall not be payable unless , it is declared to be payable by the act imposing the rates of income tax payable for the financial year. For this reason, the resolution provides that provisional tax shall be payable in respect of the financial vear ending the 30th June 1946.

I commend the motion to the favorable consideration of the committee.

Progress reported.

page 930


Second Reading

Debate resumed from the 15th March (vida page 666), on motion by Mr. Dedman -

That the hill be now read a second time.

New England

– To-day we are about to debate a bill “ to make provision for improving the production and increasing the use of wool “. This is. a very important hill, and one which deserves the most careful consideration of honorable members, foi upon wool rests the future of the Commonwealth, just as wool has been in the past the foundation of the prosperity of Australia. Before discussing the provisions of the bill itself, I want to say something of the important part that wool has played in the development of the Empire, and particularly in the development of Australia, as well as the leading part which it still plays in the economy of the Commonwealth, and so in the wealth and happiness of every citizen of Australia.

The wool industry, according to The Mediaeval English Wool Trade by Eileen Power, ranks as one of the most ancient industries of the kingdom. It rose to its greatness in the Middle Ages. Miss Power says- of it -

The trade which gave England her key position was bound to dominate the domestic scene, therefore her commerce and her politics alike were built upon wool. In 1297 the Barons state that the wool of England amounts to half the value qf the whole land. In 1 343 the ordinance of’ the Staple calls it “ the sovereign merchandise and jewel of this realm of England”.

Wool was bringing wealth to England early in the thirteenth century, and the fine wools of the Welsh breeder, even at that time, were worth ls. per lb. when the purchasing power of money was far higher than it is to-day. Again, we read in the LUI1.’ Domesday Boola that eight shires in the western and eastern countries carried 292,000 sheep. The size of some of the medieval flocks is shown by the fact that Ely Abbey ran 13,400 sheep on its estates.

In this bill we are dealing with a tax on wool for the benefit of the wool industry, to promote the use of wool, and to add to the wealth of Australia. Taxing the wool industry is not something new, but an industry taxing itself to assist itself was not done in this country until 1936. However, I do not suggest to the Minister that he should go back to the old days and the old ways in which wool was taxed. For instance, I can see no reason for following the precedent of the reign of Richard I., in the event of Dr. Evatt or Mr. Forde being captured on their tour by the Japanese and our offering the enemy our wool clip as ransom! Yet in 1193 the whole of the clip of the Cistercian Order was seized in England towards, paying the King’s ransom to the Saracens. Nor would I suggest that the “great and ancient custom” of 1275, imposed in the reign of Edward I., should be revived, whereby an export duty of 7s. 6d. a sack w7as placed on wool, or its worse offspring the “ Great Maltote “ of 1294 which imposed a tax of 40s. a sack, although I recollect that when the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) was Prime Minister an export duty was put on sheepskins, so that he may have copied the “ Great Maltote “. In fact, the wars of the three Edwards and their successors were largely financed by wool. But from them came the greatness of England and out of that strength grew the majesty of this Commonwealth. Mr. Speaker, it was not without special reasons that the woolsack was placed iu the House of Lords to remind the legislators of England that wool was the foundation of the nation’s wealth and its strength. I propose, therefore, when the bill is in committee to move an additional clause to have placed in the Senate a bale of Australian wool so that for all time the members, the people of the Commonwealth and visitors may appreciate that the greatness and wealth of this nation were founded and still rest upon the wool shorn from the flocks of Australia.

I have spoken of the development of the wool-growing industry in the England of medieval times. With fluctuating fortunes, that industry has persisted, although wool has become secondary to meat production. But the great developments which have taken, place down through the centuries are in the wool manufacturing industries of England. Its cloth has become the synonym of all that is best in the world, and, whilst other nations have developed their manufactures, those of Great Britain still stand supreme.

The bringing into being of the Australian wool industry was no haphazard venture; it was the consummation of the well thought out plan of Captain John Macarthur who, in the closing decade of the eighteenth century, laid its foundations. . Macarthur, with the prescience of a prophet, saw the wealth and prosperity of the new land being built up on the wool industry, as it probably could under the circumstances have been built up in no other way. There is recorded in Some Early Records of the Macarthurs, by Sibella Macarthur Onslow, a statement by John Macarthur which bears this out. He wrote -

A (jetty population established at so vast a .distance from other civilized parts of the globe could have no prospects of ultimately succeeding unless, by raising as an export some raw material which would be produced with little labour, bc in considerable demand, and be capable of bearing the expense of the long sea voyage.

In his opinion, this commodity was wool.

From those early days of 1789, with very small importations of sheep from Great Britain and South Africa, the Australian sheep industry, after suffering varying fortunes, had risen to a total of 106,000,000 head by 1891. In the next decade, low prices, droughts and the spread of rabbits caused a great decline in flocks, and the number of sheep dropped to 53,000,000, but increased to S9,000,000 in 1914, when the first world war began, and at the outbreak of the present war, was 111,000,000. By 1941 there were 125,000,000 .sheep in the Commonwealth. These sheep are distributed among about 100,000 owners, but in actual fact 26,500 own flocks of 1,000 or more with an. aggregate holding of more than 93,000,000 sheep.

Since 1890 there has been a great change in the structure of the industry.

The proportion, of sheep held on .large properties in the arid areas has declined, and the number on smaller stations in the better rainfall areas and on mixed farms has .increased. Improved methods of land use,, such as pasture improvement, make it possible to carry greater numbers ©f sheep with safety than could be carried earlier in the century.

From this honorable members will see how Macarthurs views succeeded on the production side. The importance of wool production in the national economy of the Commonwealth, as a source of Empire strength, cannot be overstressed. Of all our exports, wool represents about 40 per cent. During the ten years before the war, wool produced as much overseas funds as all our other primary industries combined. It produced nearly three times the overseas f unds created by our mining industry, mainly represented by gold, and over seven times the overseas funds of all our manufacturing industries, Examination of Australian production emphasizes the small range of our products which are economically desirable or politically acceptable to other countries. Before the present war., wool at Australian prices was economically desirable to nearly every industrial country in the world, and politically acceptable to all except the United States of America, which has a large woolgrowing industry of its own.

I remind honorable members that no small country can keep abreast of world progress unless it call import commodities that it does not produce, machines that it,cannot produce, machine tools that it cannot produce, and all classes of goods that it can only produce at much higher cost or of much poorer quality than the outside world. Imagine the condition of Australia if it could not import petrol or oil or rubber; if it could not import machines and machine tools for our factories, or certain parts for motor cars, or jute, or certain minerals and chemicals. Wo matter how completely we -have aimed in the past, or may aim in the future, to supply everything we possibly can from our factories and farms, we rarely seem to accumulate London, funds faster than they are needed to meet the import requirements of our industries, services and consumers, and to pay the interest on our overseas debt. Although we have been able to increase London funds during the war, thanks largely to wool, it is by no means certain that they will be adequate to meet the import demands of reconstruction. The restoration of our war-worn industrial equipment and of pre-war standards of living will be gravely handicapped after the war unless the proceeds of wool exports be maintained. It is interesting to note that the London Economist states that the first four war-time clips were responsible for the disbursement in Australia of some £A.303,250,000.

In placing the importance of the wool industry before you in this manner, I am not trying in any way to belittle that of our other industries in contributing to Australian living standards. But what I have demonstrated is that wool is still by far our most, important export, and that if we lose a substantial proportion of our wool proceeds there seems no prospect of expanding our other exporting industries sufficiently to pay for the imports necessary for the satisfactory operation of the Australian economy. One illustration, not commonly known, of the substantial indirect effect that the wool proceeds have on the Australian economy is found in railway freights. On our railways, wool pays rates that are several times greater per ton than those oh most other primary products requiring ordinary trucks. In effect, wool subsidizes the freight for other primary products. The subsidy that wool pays to other products on the railways is small, however, compared with the subsidy that it pays towards transporting other products overseas by ship. So far as shipping freights are concerned, although wool is stowed in ordinary holds and is excellent cargo, it pays higher rates per 40 cubic feet ton shipping space than mast of our refrigerated produce for which expensive accommodation, involving costly maintenance, is required. Wool from Australia paid a rate 25 per cent, higher than frozen beef. This is peculiar to the Australian freight schedule, as from Argentina it was carried at 66 per cent, less than the rate for frozen beef. When wheat is carried as berth cargo, not tramp cargo, it pays about one-quarter of the rate of wool per 40 cubic feet, and one-eighth the rate per ton weight. There can be no doubt that all of the berth cargo rates to Australia depend on the proceeds of wool freight, which was worth £3,000,000 a year to the shipping companies before the war. If the wool freights were substantially reduced, other rates, both inward and outward, would almost certainly be increased.

The secondary effects of our overseas wool cheques on the national income of all Australians have long been familiar to economists. An increase in wool proceeds of, say, £10,000,000 might result in an increase of £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 in national income as a whole. Conversely a fall in wool income causes a multiple reduction in national income. On reflection the reason is obvious ; when growers receive their cheques they spend them, and so give employment and incomes to all sorts of people throughout the community.

These facts are sufficient to show that the future of the wool industry is of the deepest significance to Australia - not only to the wool-growers, but to every member of the community. An examination of the value of the Australian wool clip and employment figures in the Commonwealth from 1911 to the end of 1934, published at page 8 of the report on wool by the Secondary Industries Commission, shows a remarkable similarity in the two curves, which proves that the employment and the standard of living of the Australian worker depend very largely on the value of the Australian wool clip. Let’ us not lose sight, too, of the decided importance of this industry to the Empire which occupies a dominating position as producer of fine wools. Other countries requiring these wools must get them from the Empire, and so this product helps substantially in providing international funds for the Empire.

I desire to remind honorable members of the position of wool, both as to price and production, at the commencement of the present war and its position to-day with regard to accumulated stocks. At the outbreak of the war Australian wool prices were at a very low level, having averaged 10.51d. per lb. in 1938-39. When hostilities commenced in 1939, Britain purchased tlie Australian clip for an average price of . 13.4375d. per lb. Later, in May, 1942, it increased the price to 15.435d. The original arrangement provided for the Imperial purchase to continue for one full wool year after the end of the’ war with Germany, but in October, 1944, the Government announced that Britain had agreed to extend the purchase on the same conditions until the end of the war with Japan. Agreements were also made for the purchase of the New Zealand and South African clips. The three dominions now produce about 1,700,000,000 lb. of greasy wool per annum. ‘ Combined with the South American production of 700,000,000 lb., this represents about three-fifths of the world clip, of which three-fifths, 90 per cent., is exported to the smallproducing but big-consuming countries of the northern hemisphere. Early in the war the Axis dominated practically the whole of continental Europe, and later Japan entered the war. The Axis and Axis-dominated countries in the years from 1934 to 1938 produced only 15 per cent, of the world’s wool, and, with the exception of occupied China, all consumed far more than they produced. In pre-war years these countries accounted for approximately half the total of world consumption of wool. Under these conditions, therefore, it was inevitable that despite the fact that there was no pre-war accumulation of unwanted surpluses, stocks of wool would mount steadily. lt is difficult to obtain accurate estimates of the weight of war-time accumulations, but following the 1942-43 season, T estimate that they may have amounted to 10,000,000 bales of raw wool, although the International Wool Secretariat estimates this quantity at S,600,000 bales. Apparently, therefore, by the end of the war accumulations will substantially exceed that quantity, and may reach 15.000,000 bales, or more. On top of this, one year after the cessation of hostilities new’ clips will be pouring into the world’s wool reservoir at an annual rn.te equivalent to 12,500,000 bales of Australian size.

We cannot accurately say what the consumptive demand of the world will bp for this wool. Immediately after the war there should be a great demand for wool in re-clothing the peoples of the world. But whatever the demand may be, it is clear that there will be an enormous surplus of wool existing. No previous figures of world consumption can offer us much hope that this mountain of wool will be moved for some years to come. The British Government, as the holders of 10,000,000 or more bales of wool on the completion of hostilities, will be greatly concerned that this should not be thrown on to the world’s markets at sacrificial values, thereby involving that Government in a colossal loss.

It is pleasing to know that the Government of the Coman on wealth has sent a delegation to Great Britain to discuss with representatives of the British Government and of the other wool producing dominions proposals for the handling of this mass of wool. I believe that the wool-growers of Australia appreciate the action of the Government in making that delegation such a strong representative body, consisting of the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of the Department, of Commerce and Agriculture, the chairman of the Central Wool Committee, Mr. Justice Owen, and the executive officer of the Central Wool Committee, together with representatives of the growers aa advisers.

Mr Lazzarini:

– We do some good then.


– Even the worst of us’ do good sometimes. I have recently put forward certain proposals as to the manner in which this wool should be placed on the market through the intervention of a buffer pool, somewhat on the lines laid down by Lord Keynes for accumulations of primary products. However, I do not propose to’ say anything about those proposals, which members may read in full in the book to be published on the Summer School of the Institute of Political Science held last January in Sydney. They are proposals which hardly come within the scope of the present measure. But I do want to emphasize, and every producer and politician should realize this, that no buffer pool, however well it may be designed and under whatever happy auspices it may be born, can solve the difficulties of the wool industry, unless demand for wool is increased and consumption is such that not only are the incoming wools in their vast quantity absorbed, but also there is a steady diminution of the world’s stockpile. The other great problem which confronts wool is the development of the synthetic fibres. In a nutshell, then, Australia’s greatest export industry, the regulator of employment in the Commonwealth, and the very backbone of the nation’s economy is faced with two problems of great difficulty, which, unless skilfully handled, could quite easily smash the national economy and bring depression and unemployment to the Commonwealth with unparalleled severity. They are, first, the accumulations of wool, and, secondly, the competition of synthetic fibres. The second of these has been developing throughout the years, and it was because of this that the Australian Wool Board was originally instituted in 1937.

The menace of the synthetics is something which the wool interests have to tackle most vigorously, and I propose to say something about these matters here. I do not think that there is the slightest use in fighting wool’s battle by trying to suppress the synthetics. There will probably be room in the new world, whose sun dawns in the heavens of man’s hopes, for all the fibres. What we as a nation, and those of us who are wool-growers must do, is to convince the consumers of textiles that wool, one of the most ancient textile fabrics, has qualities and an appearance with which no artificial fibre can compete. I propose to say something about the influence of artificial fibres on wool consumption.

Rayon, the first of these artificial fibres, has shown an extraordinary increase of production to a level, which almost equalled that of the clothing wools on a scoured basis before the war. But its effect on wool consumption has been slight, because it has entirely different textile qualities. Rayon has, however, been substituted for wool in underwear and hosiery. With the advent of staple fibre, produced like rayon from cellulose but cut into lengths, suited to wool-working machinery, the wool industry encountered a more formidable competitor. Staple fibre is produced in two main types, one for mixture with cotton, and the other for mixture with wool.

Successful efforts have since been made for the production of fibres from animal and vegetable protein, such as casein and soya bean. You will doubtless recall the recent announcement of such fibre made from peanuts. These animal and vegetable bases are of even greater importance because wool itself is a natural fibre, and these particular artificial products can be made to imitate some of its qualities more closely than was possible in using the cellulose fibres. More recently still, fibres made of synthetic materials along the lines of plastics, and of a protein nature have attracted great attention. What the ultimate development may be, yet remains to be seen. The fact remains, however, that production of such fibres for fabrics of various kinds has shown a great increase. The production of rayon staple alone in the nine years 1934 to 1942 increased, from 53,000,000 lb. to 2,024,000,000 lb., and it is estimated that, annual production is now almost certainly at a rate equal to the world production of apparel wool on a clean scoured basis.

Price will be an important factor in this competition with other fibres, both natural and artificial. It is pertinent here to recall that the cost of the finished woollen article is influenced along the whole production line from the growing of the raw product right down to transport and manufacture. Although prices of raw wool represent only from 8 to 14 per cent. of the retail price of clothing, a rise in raw wool price is also reflected in higher processing and distributing costs over a considerable period ofl production time. Interest and insurance rates, important because of the long processing period, as well as profit margins all along the line, are increased by a sustained rise of the prices of the raw material. In consequence, the initial increase might thus be trebled to the retail buyer. Manufacturing costs would appear to depend largely on wages, and on the peculiar way in which manufacturing processes are distributed among separately owned units. I suggest that this is something winch the new research bureau might investigate. Estimates of costs of distribution place these at as much as a third of the retail price in the United States of America and in Britain. This is how an authority on synthetic fibres sums up the matter from the point of view of these interests - in a struggle between two otherwise equal competitors in the battle of the fibres price is the determining factor. Indeed, unless there is wide disparity in the performance of two fibres in their consumer uses the inferior wins the fight with the weapon of lower price. But despite this overwhelming advantage of lower price, the vested interest wages a long war before yielding to an interloper in its established markets. One of the most classic delaying actions in history was fought by the silk interests of ancient China, which prevented the establishment of cotton as a major fibre for 1,500 years after its introduction in 500 n.C. (even as late as the fourteenth century Marco Polo reported that cotton waa known only in Fokien province). Similarly, the rise nf the great Manchester cotton trade in England was bitterly fought by the silk and wool interest, and the silk weavers temporarily k tided other active competition in the fashion market, with the passage of the Calico Act, an act prohibiting the printing of cotton cloth. ft is apparent that in maintaining and extending the use of wool in our longestablished markets we must be prepared to do our share in ensuring that the goods shall be made available at reasonable prices, and we should assist technical research to cheapen costs of manufacture wherever possible. But there is no question of the woolgrowers fighting any “ delaying action “. They will use every means to extend the uses of their fibre against whatever competition may be provided.

An interesting fact with regard to the production of cotton, greasy wool, silk and rayon, is that total production of these fibres increased from 1934, by about 40 per cent, to 19,8S5,000,000 lb. in 1933; yet the world absorbed these quantities. It seems to be rather rash, therefore, to draw despairing conclusions from what has happened during the war when all Europe, and large portions of Asia, were deprived of wool and the use of mill capacity. In all probability there are markets capable of development, and uses for the various products at present undreamt of.

Wool consumption is decidedly sensitive te changes in consumers’ incomes, or to increases in the cost of clothing. An investigation by the International Wool Secretariat before the present war showed that, even with the high consumption of wool per head of population in Great Britain, the market was not nearly saturated with wool, but depended on the real level of wages, and if those rose wool consumption increased. For instance, the view is held by some manufacturers that the future of the new synthetics lies in combinations and blends with the great natural fibres, wool, cotton and silk. Mr. August Hafner, of Hafner Associates Incorporated, believes “that wool, the oldest of the fibres known to man, still has advantages which no other fibre can duplicate, as have cotton and silk. These three elementary fibres known for thousands of years will be used as much as ever, but new beauty can be added to them with plastic yarns “. Another producer of synthetic fibres in the United States of America, Dr. Harold de Witt Smith, believes that synthetic fibres have to a large extent displaced silk, but that there will be a much more limited displacement of cotton and wool.

One strong argument advanced in favour of synthetics is their stability of price. But surely a similar degree of stability should not be impossible of attainment in respect of wool. If the manufacturers of wool knew that the world’s supplies, on hand and incoming, were firmly held on a price basis which would only alter over a long-term trend, according to the general trend of world price levels, then this uncertainty regarding the prices of natural fibre would disappear. I am well aware that wool has to fight the battle of its life, but it enters into that contest with great initial advantages. It has behind it the prestige of thousands of years of use, and it has certain qualities which up to the present none of the synthetics has been able to reproduce.

In his speech the Minister said that the research programme can be divided broadly into three phases: (1) Research on the production of wool ; (2) Research on processing problems; and (3) Economic - marketing research. These were the three fields which the present Australian Wool Board engaged in through the agency of bodies like the Council for

Scientific and Industrial Research as to the first two, but, as regards processing problems, in a much wider field than is suggested here.

I would like to say something at this point about the origin of the Australian Wool Board and the work that has been done. For under this act “ the old order change th, yielding place to new “. In 1936, at the request of growers’ organizations, an act of Parliament was passed which provided for a compulsory levy on all wool raised in Australia, the proceeds to be used for research into the problems of the wool industry on both the production and manufacturing sides, and also for promoting the more widespread use of wool at home and overseas. Early in 1937 representatives of the wool-growers of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, met in Melbourne to evolve a plan by which the interest of the wool industry might best be promoted overseas. It was decided that this should be done on an international scale by the establishment of the International Wool Secretariat in London, representative of the growers of the three countries. Australia’s first representative on that body was Professor Ian ‘Clunies Ross. The wool-growers and the people of Australia owe a great debt to him for the work he did in that capacity on behalf of this country.

First, I propose to speak of the board’s work in advancing pastoral research and spreading the knowledge of new discoveries. During the last eight years major discoveries have been made, which have helped to prevent losses of sheep. One of these was the discovery of the true cause of footrot and the development of a system of management, which is proving of major assistance in avoiding this trouble in the southern areas of higher rainfall. Another was the development of the modified Mules operation against b.low-fly crutch strike, which has been greatly reduced in treated flocks. Other parasites, external and internal, which previously took heavy toll of the health of our sheep and of their efficiency as- producers of wool and meat, have been reduced substantially by better management of flocks and improved methods of treatment with the discovery of new drugs. Continued nutritional investigations should add materially to our knowledge and practice of adequate and economical feeding, particularly in drought periods. One of the greatest needs of Australian wool production i3 for a cheap protein supplement. If ways were found to meet this deficiency over the vast area of our pastoral country, the result in increased wool production per head of sheep might be very great. There is much to bc done, too, in breeding investigations, especially in the progeny testing of rams, to ensure that improved quantity and quality of wool shall be transmitted to their progeny. It is one thing to make these discoveries, and another to ensure that the results shall be applied quickly in practice. In the future, we must look forward to a much reduced lag between the time when such discoveries are made and the time when they are applied in the field. Instructional work on a much larger scale is essential in the future. What can be done in this direction is shown by the success achieved in rapidly teaching the modified Mules operation by special demonstrations through the country by an officer of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and, later, by the schools of instruction arranged for State officers. This cooperation between Commonwealth and State authorities means that a most important technical advance is being extended far more quickly than would have occurred otherwise.

Some indication of possible future development in methods of instruction is given by the creation of the mobile unit of the Australian Wool Board, which is now being completed and which will travel throughout the woolgrowing country in charge of a technical officer. The unit is virtually a theatre on wheels, and lectures, demonstrations, films and personal discussion will help materially in conveying the results of the new discoveries, increasing general interest, and thus assisting a closer association between the growers and State officers, who we hope will be provided for regular extension work in the individual districts. Another method by which the board is ensuring that the results of scientific investigations shall be extended to growers is the production of a special handbook for wool-growers. The publication is designed, to present this information so as to enable it to be put into practice as readily as possible. Provision has been made for revisions and supplements to be included as further progress is made in research. Some indication of the demand for this knowledge is given by the fact that nearly 40,000 growers applied for and received copies of the handbook. Every applicant’s name has been placed in a card-index system, and he automatically receives all supplements and revisions issued.

As honorable members will appreciate, it is impossible to attempt a comprehensive review of the broad field of pastoral research and extension, but let me emphasize that the final objective of all of this work is to increase the efficiency of wool production. It can and will do this by reducing losses from disease and pests and thus enabling more economic maintenance of our flocks, and by establishing improved pastures, better systems of management, and better nutrition, all of which combined will increase the cut of wool per sheep. In some instances, it may be practicable and desirable to use these improvements to increase carrying capacity, but the aim of this work is not to bolster up flogged pastures so that they can be flogged harder. The aim will be, first, to safeguard the pastures; secondly, to ensure that the stock already carried shall be fed to economic capacity; and, thirdly, to give a further increase in carrying capacity, if there is a margin for this to be done with safety.

Whether our present level of sheep population is at a maximum is a debatable point, but if it is, there may still be great scope for increasing the weight of the Australian wool clip by improvements in nutrition, thereby leading to increased yields of wool per head of sheep. Although the cut of wool per head has increased from about 5 lb. in the ‘eighties to about 8 lb. or more, it has shown little change in the last fifteen years. In the opinion of Professor Clunies Eoss, “ the great bulk of our sheep could produce 50 per cent, more wool per head if adequately fed “. The economic implications of such a statement are tremendous. At the same time, such nutritional improvement would need to be accompanied by more scientific breeding, because, as Professor Eoss points out, the capacity of an animal to grow wool is determined basically by heredity. Wool-growing capacity of sheep will benefit, therefore, from investigations which will make possible the wider adoption of progeny testing of rams, to which I referred earlier. Progeny testing is .the determination of the quality of breeding stock on the basis of their progeny. Some indication of the progress that can be made under this system is provided by preliminary work conducted by Dr. P. B. McMahon in New Zealand with Romney Marsh sheep. He concluded that to increase the average weight of wool cut by New Zealand Romneys from S lb. to 9 lb. a head “would take 96 years, if 50 per cent, of the ewes were culled annually; if the ewes were kept, but 97 per cent, of rams were culled by ordinary methods, it would take 36 years; if all ewes were kept, and 20 per cent, of the rams were progeny tested and the beat 3 per cent, used on unculled ewes, it would take only four years. Preliminary investigations to obtain a basis for such work in Australia have already begun.

Whilst, no one is more appreciative than I of the great work that has been done by scientists like Professor Clunies Ross, Dr. Bull, chief of the Animal Health Division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Mr. Marston, of Adelaide, Mr. Gill, of the University of Sydney, and many others, the general public should not forget that some of the most striking experiments and discoveries made in research in Australia have been the work of men who carry no university degrees. What J. H. W. Mules, of South Australia, has accomplished with his control of blowfly crutch strike in sheep cannot be measured in terms of money for its worth to thewool industry. I was rather amused to read in the Minister’s speech the following passage : -

Nevertheless, there is great scope for the application of more closely controlled genetical methods in improving the yield, uniformity and quality of wool fibre. For example, some progeny testing is already being undertaken by the Council for Scientific arid Industrial Research, and extension of this work is contemplated.

Not a word, not a syllable, about the work of Euston Young, in Queensland, a son of the soil, sans doctorate, sans university degrees, but gifted by God with a brain worth all. His original research into progeny testing, fibre measuring of wool, and transmission of inherited qualities in sheep is of such fundamental importance and of such value not only to the industry itself, but also in the breeding of live-stock, that when Young considers his data sufficient to draw his final conclusions, then his name may be equally handed down to fame with that of the once obscure Austrian monk, Mendel, as one of the great interpreters of the laws of breeding. In respect of manufacturing and research into the fibre itself, most of the work of the board has been done in Great Britain through the International “Wool Secretariat, in collaboration with the boards of South Africa and New Zealand. Here the resources of the British Wool Industries Research Association at Torridon have been used to great- advantage in evolving new processes for the making of fabrics and improving processes already in existence. ‘Some of these, might I mention in passing, are the moth-proofing of woollen yarns, the nonshrinkable process, the Papain process for taking the tickle out of woollen goods, and the pattern effects produced from a single dye bath where shrinkab.le and non-shrinkable yarns have been used in the material.

I have attempted to give to the House a small, but incomplete, picture of the work and aspirations of the old Wool Board in research within and without Australia. In addition, the board did a considerable amount of publicity work at home and overseas, but in both fields the war cut down these activities. Under the vigorous chairmanship of Professor Clunies Ross the International Wool Secretariat set out to organize the wool-growers of South America, and those of Europe, to join in activities for the promotion of wool. In the third annual report of the board it is stated that the French wool-growers were organizing all the growers of Europe into a single organization, the Comité European des Eleveurs des Mou tons, for the advancement of the sheep and wool industries. I trust that under the new proposals of this bill all the excellent work done in the past will not be allowed to lapse.

There are two final matters about which I wish to speak before I deal with the clauses of the bill, and they are the incidence of tariffs of other countries on the entry of Australian wool and the problem of new markets, particularly in countries of low purchasing power. In the United States of America there is a tariff on wool of 34 cents per lb. clean scoured content. The result of this is clear when we realize that the per capita consumption of wool in the United States is 4.1 lb. per annum whereas in Great Britain it is 8.8 lb., and in France 7.8 lb! That Ls something the Government might well endeavour to remedy. It should, be realized that the United States of America is a country in which the winter is almost Siberian in its severity.

One of the greatest problems is to discover how the use of wool may be encouraged in countries of low purchasing power. There are vast areas of the world where during the colder seasons of the year climatic conditions render desirable the use of wool in quantities much larger than those used to-day. For instance, the winter climate of all Europe, Asia Minor, the Soviet, much of India, China, Iran, and South America is very favorable for the use by their people of warm woollen fabrics and blankets. Many of these areas are populated by people whose purchasing power is so pitifully low that they are unable to purchase woollen materials. The opening up of these potential markets to a larger consumption of wool, involves mainly a lowering of price for the finished products. This can best be accomplished by cutting down the added costs of manufacturing and marketing, which greatly exceed the prime cost of the raw wool. But since these countries are in a much more backward stage of development than the industrialized countries of Europe and North America, very special measures must be sought to reduce the costs of manufacturing processes and marketing. In this matter a useful hint can be found in Cobbett’s Rural Rides, relating to the stage of development of rural England some 1.20 years ago. In one of his articles Cobbett deplores the passing of the cottage and village industries of England. He quotes evidence given before a Committee of the House of Commons about 1820, wherein it was stated that about the middle of the eighteenth century nearly all the farm houses had their own hand looms “ for the weaving of cloth, and that travelling weavers were accustomed to come annually to weave the “homespun” for the requirements of the farmer and his workers for the ensuing twelve months. Old methods such as these seem adapted to meet the social conditions of backward countries to which I am referring. I’ believe that, the development of village co-operatives, cottage handspinning and weaving, could so reduce the overhead costs between the raw product and the finished article that the problem of low purchasing power in these countries could be solved to a considerable extent. As to the raw wool, we must not forget that many grades of wool are produced here and in the other Dominions which are sold at relatively low prices. I suggest that the manufacture of cheap mass-produced hand looms and spinning wheels is a matter that the new research institute might investigate. The organization of this system in countries of low-purchasing power would ultimately be one for discussion between Governments. In Lady Hartog’s Outline of India, in the Report on the Economic Development of India - the ;”‘0,000 crore rupee plan - and from conversations with the members of the present mission to Australia one is constantly struck with the fact that one’ and all stress the importance of the development of these cottage and village industries in the changeover to industrialization. This type of industry is the steppingstone from one side of the river to the other. What I have said here applies equally to China. The importance of this Eastern market cannot be overstressed. One of our Indian visitors remarked to me recently that in his country there are 150,000,000 people living in an area where the climate is such that for seven months of the year the people would “wear woollen, clothes, if it were possible for them to get them. What applies to India applies even more to

China. China is not wool-minded; there King Cotton reigns supreme, not necessarily from choice, but through lack of opportunity to use wool. Yet at a price, and worked in the initial stages as a homecraft and in the villages on hand looms, wool has a great future. During the present war, in one short period, over a million blankets for the army were manufactured in the villages from, native wools. The soldiers’ uniforms are largely made of wool, and so, for the first time in history, China is to some extent wool-conscious. It is most disconcerting, therefore, to find that in all China’s requirements for aid under Unrra which were submitted at the recent Lapstone Conference, where the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) represented the Australian Government, there was not one requisition for the supply of as much as a single bale of wool.

Mr Dedman:

– There ‘was an application for a very large quantity of blankets.


– There -was no application for raw wool or even for yarns, I have been informed.

Mr Dedman:

– We have no control over that.


– The .representative of another nation sat with representatives of China at Chungking and helped to draft the list of China’s requirements from Unrra. Perhaps if the Commonwealth Government had been a little more wide awake and sent a representative to that conference we might have been able to send some of our wool into China through Unrra. Unless we can get our wool to China and on to the weaving looms of the cottage industries, the Australian wool industry will find itself in a very difficult position. It seems to me that the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) would be much better employed if, instead ‘of castigating the overseas administration of Unrra, he were watching Australia’s own vital interests and seeing whether there was a way in which he could have suggested to the Chinese Government that an allocation of wool would be in the interests of that country. It is pitiful to see such woeful lack of attention to the interests of Australia in a market which before many years have elapsed will become one of production and consumption greater than the world has ever seen. Particularly is this 80 when we believe that the Ministers of other nations were not so lacking in a sense of their responsibility to their own countries, and their chief industries, and assisted the Chinese Government in the compilation of its lists of requirements for submission to Unrra.

Mr Dedman:

– The honorable member is not in possession of the facts. I attended the Lapstone conference.


– I know that. I talked with one of the gentlemen who took part in the Chungking discussions. The honorable gentleman can toss up to decide whose information is the more reliable. I remind the Minister for External Affairs that the best way to become a world statesman, which he evidently desires, is to have the people of Australia behind him, and the most certain manner to get their support is to come down from the clouds and pay attention to Australia’s affairs in the councils of the world. I have spoken somewhat lengthily of the problems of the wool industry, and the things which must be done to ensure that wool remains as the order of the Staple said in the fourteenth century, “the sovereign merchandise and jewel of this realm of England “.

The problem, as stated is simple; its solution is more difficult. “We will have in the world’s stockpile of wool on the conclusion of hostilities probably some 15,000,000 bales. The wool consuming world will he hungry for woollen goods. Mill capacity will not make these fast enough. Against a huge accumulation and a large production of new wools, synthetic fibres in competition with wool are rapidly increasing in production. The bill before the House offers some means towards the solution of the problem, and I now propose to examine it. A tremendous potential market exists throughout the world in what I call the “ out-coating “ trade in woollen goods. This trade provides a use for sheepskins which has never been exploited before, and which will play a great part in the future of the wool industry. I have with me specimens o£ plastic treated sheep skins which are taking the place of furs in the markets of the world, and 1 hand them to the Minister for examination. One specimen Ls- something like the skin of a polar bear, another is like rabbit skin, and the third is like a beaver pelt. These are the only samples of their kind in Australia. According to a recently published American digest, mink coats of this plastic treated sheepskin were offered for sale at $150.00 when natural mink coats were selling at prices ranging from $600.00 to $1,000.00 each. There are great possibilities in the development of this new method of treating sheepskins. The people who are attempting to develop this market are at present trying to secure a permit from the Division of Import Procurement to bring machinery into Australia. I am told that there has been, a hold-up in negotiations, although the amounts of money involved are small in relation to the potential value of the industry. The Minister might investigate the matter.

The wool-growers, both through their organizations and individually, arc, I believe, very much in favour of the principles of this bill. They realize that the funds which the Australian Wool Board received from the levy of 6d. a bale were woefully inadequate for the work which was required. They are fully conscious of the enormous “ overhanging surplus of wool “ which will exist when the war ends, and they know that, if wool’s place in the sun is to be preserved, in the struggle with synthetics, this can only be done by producing woollen goods which are inherently so attractive that the public will prefer them to those of other fibres. They also are aware that, no Bawra buffer pool, or wool pool, can succeed unless the wool goes into consumption over a period of time at the same rate as it flows in. They know that to overcome all these things research, publicity, promotion and above all imagination are needed and large funds are required. Therefore, they are agreeable to the increasing of the wool levy from 6d. to 2s. a bale. When we come to look at the act itself and the speech of the Minister, we feel that there are some things which need clarification, others which should be amended, and still further ones with which the wool-growers completely disagree.

By the power conferred on the Minister in clause 4 of the bill he may appoint a person to be the Commonwealth Wool Adviser on such terms and conditions and with such remuneration as he thinks fit. The duties and functions of the adviser shall be such as the Minister from time to time determines. This gentleman appears to be a key man in the whole scheme of things. In the recommendations made by the Secondary Industries Commission, I can find nothing about such a person and his position does not seem to have been envisaged. However, from his very name, Commonwealth Wool Adviser, it would seem that he would advise the various Ministers, the Government, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and the Wool Board, as well as be a kind of coordinator of the wool industry. If that surmise is correct, I particularly ask the Minister in charge of the bill to elaborate the duties and functions of the adviser as far as possible in his speechin reply. Also I would like to know what salary it is proposed to pay to the adviser. In view of the apparent very great importance of this position it seems to me that the Minister himself should be advised as to the best possible man for the position. I suggest, therefore, that in committee the Minister should accept an amendment so that the appointment shall be- made by the Minister on the advice of the board.

In clause 6 the method of appointment of members of the board is laiddown - three on the nomination of the organization known as the Australian Wool Growers Council, and three on that of the Australian Wool Producers Federation. The Minister has stated in his speech that under the old act the representation was undemocratic as the latter body had no representation. I remind the Minister that when the previous act was passed by Parliament the Australian Wool Producers Federation was not in existence. But most of the bodies which comprise it were members of the council; later they broke away. It is contended that the council has the larger number of genuine wool-growers in its ranks, that, they control more sheep, and that therefore the council is entitled to proportionately higher representation. That the Government agreed with this view is shown by the Prime Minister’s statement on the 1st November last, in which he said, regarding the. Government’s wool proposals -

To facilitate the development and application of the research programme, it is proposed to amend the Wool Publicity and Research Act. so that the membership of the Wool Board shall include -

Four members nominated by the Australian Wool Growers Council.

b ) Two members nominated by the Australian Wool Producers Federation,

I understand also that the Government holds a letter from Mr. Eric Hitchins, president of the federation, agreeing to this representation. I would like to know why the Prime Minister’s statement and Mr. Hitchins’ agreement have not been carried out. If the Minister is unwilling to return to his previous opinion and adopt the basis of representation originally agreed upon, I suggest to him that he alter the number of members of the board to ten representatives, five to be nominated by each body.


-. - Does the honorable member desire that the whole of the funds shall be disbursed in expenses of board members?


– Only a person with the mind of a microbe could make such a remark. If the Ministerwill listen to me he will- see that there is good reason for the proposal that I am advancing. I make the suggestion because, as is well known, the sheep population of Australia is mainly concentrated in the eastern and central divisions of New South Wales. Victoria and Queensland, although there are substantial numbers in Western and South Australia.. The three and three representation might easily lead to vast areas of the Commonwealth having no representation’ on the board if both bodies drew their members from the same State. The suggestion I make would overcome this difficulty by adding four extra members to the board. The expense involved is very small, as meetings are not frequent and members’ expenses and fees are very moderate.

In committee, when clause 12 is being considered, I intend to move that in the making of any appointments under the act preference- be given to those men who have served in the Commonwealth forces during the wars of 1914-18 and the present struggle.

One of the bodies to be set up, under clause 14, is a Wool Consultative Council. I intend to suggest to the Minister in committee certain alterations to this clause which I trust he will see his way clear to accept.

The first thing I propose to him is that sub-clause 8 be deleted and that throughout the clause, instead of the word “ Minister “, which appears twice, the words “Minister for Post-war Recon- struction “ be used. This will prevent confusion with the word “ Minister “ in the definition clause- at the beginning of the act. Sub-clause 2 of the same clause should provide that the names of the representatives of the bodies mentioned should: be submitted to the Minister by the bodies instead of the representatives being appointed by the Minister as at present provided.

As to the representation’ on this Consultative Council, a question arises as to whether there should not be added a representative of the industry’s carriers, namely, the shipping firms, also a representative of the- wool-brokers, because whether we love them or loathe them, they play an important part, inthe wool trade. I do not stress this, but I would like the Minister to consider the matter, and if he- considers it worthy of discussion lie might mention it in his reply. [Extension of time granted.’]

In clause 15, sub-clause 3 (a.) provision is made for the expenditure of moneys from the research account. Although the clause is- fairly wide in- its application, I suggest to the Minister that the words “ carriage, distribution “ might be added. Freights both toy rail and sea are- very heavy on, wool, the freights between different countries bear norelation to each other, or to other freights for the services rendered and research into this freight question, is very desirable.

Mr Dedman:

– Would the honorable member favour the re-establishment of the Australian CommonwealthLineof Steamers?


– The Government would first need to re-establish law and order in the unions, and get rid of anarchy. Distribution is a subject about, which the growers want toknow a lot. They have long realized that the “ Golden Fleece “ isfor them not very golden, but that other people along the line, from, producer to consumer, still regard it. as golden, and that in consequence distribution costs are very high. The growers believe that these might be lowered by research. I shall therefore move an amendment to this clause.

Clause 17 of the bill is the vital provision around which most of the controversy will rage. I shall refresh the minds of honorable members by reading it to them, because there are principles involved’ which all the wool-growers of Australia consider are being’ broken by the clause in its present form -

  1. – (1.) Before the beginning of each financial year after the commencement of this act, the Ministers shall determine the proportion of the: moneys tobe credited to the fund… during, that financial year from the proceeds of the wool tax which shall be paid by the board out of the fund to the Research Account, and the board shall, from time to time, as directed by the Ministers, make payments accordingly.

What the clause says is that, of. -the moneys subscribed by the growers of wool, a proportion - it may be 1 per cent. or 99- per cent. - shall, be paid on the determination of the Ministers from the growers? funds into the research account. Now, growers are- not averse to paving their share of the cost of research which they think is beneficial to their industry, or which their’ representatives on the Wool Board deem necessary, but they are definitely averse to having allocations of the funds subscribed by them made by Ministers without their consent.

Mr Dedman:

– They are not- subscribed by the wool-growers; they are raised by a- tax method’.


– That is a classic example of the- sort of mathematics which the Government would have us adopt. The funds will’ come from the pockets of the wool-growers, whether they are subscribed or . are raised by a tax method. The contention of the Minister is that as they are to be raised by what he regards as a tax method, the growers should not have the- right to direct their use in ways which they consider are necessary for the purposes of their industry. We have heard a lot about grower representation and control on different boards. I put it to the Minister, who has been on the land, that the proposition that the board shall be allowed to decide as to the manner in which the fluids shall be utilized, is eminently fair. The Minister said in his speech -

I may say that representatives of the growers’ organizations have been consulted, and they have agreed that it would be satisfactory if a proportion not greater than 25 per cent, of the Wool Use Promotion Fund were directed to be paid into the Wool Research Trust Account annually for five years for the purposes of research.

I have been assured by growers’ representatives who were consulted by the Minister with regard to this bill, that that statement is absolutely contrary to the facts. It is hard to understand why the Government should need to take these Wool Board moneys from the control of the growers’ representatives without their consent, in view of the fact that the annual income of the two funds will be, say, £650,000, of which the Government will provide £325,000. The research programme envisaged in the report of the Secondary Industries Commission will cost in the first year £100,000; in the second year, £175,000; and in the third year, £305,000; making a total of £580,000. The payment to the fund from the Government would be £975,000. Deducting the £580,000 there is left £395,000, but the capital expenditure would be £400,000. This would leave only £5,000 to be made up at the end of the third year. It would seem that there should be no need to take growers’ funds. In view of this, it is only fair that the Minister should accept an amendment that the board shall be the determining authority as to the amount to be paid to the research account.

As wool is so important to Australia, I intend to move for the insertion of an additional paragraph to ‘clause 17, to read. -

  1. For placing and maintaining in the

Senate of this Parliament, a bale of Australian wool, so that for all time the citizens of the Commonwealth may appreciate that the greatness and wealth of this nation were founded and still exist upon the wool shorn from the flocks of Australia.

Some persons may regard that as humorous. To those who do so, I point out thatit is most necessary continually to remind the people of this country, and particularly my vocal and synthetic friend the Minister for Transport, that upon Australian wool depends the wealth, prosperity, and standard of living of the nation.


.- I address myself to this bill . becauseI regard it as of major national importance, and as a cardinal feature of any plan to advance Australian wool after the war. It is obvious that Australia has benefited to a considerable degree as the result of the British wool purchase scheme. Our wool industry has gained considerable strength from the stabilized price which is a part of that scheme. At present, representatives of. Britain and the Dominions are discussing in London the various features of the scheme. The trend of that discussion necessarily must be towards the overriding problem of disposing of the huge surplus of raw wool on hand, without disturbing the market that will be available for clips in the post-war years. It is clear that the disposal of wool resources resolves itself into the finding of markets which will absorb not only the existing stocks, totalling about 10,000,000 bales, but also current clips. If Australia is to find markets for its post-war wool clips, obviously publicity in regard to wool, as it was known before the war, must be drastically overhauled. It is true that the overall publicity is largely the responsibility of the International Wool Secretariat, on which Australia is represented. It is also true, however, . that the International Wool Secretariat publicizes wool merely as wool, not as Australian, South African or New Zealand wool. 1 believe in the maximum publicity of wool, particularly that which is the product of Australia. Whilst the policy of the International Wool Secretariat has been of some advantage to the wool industry generally, nevertheless I consider that it has been of greater advantage to South Africa and New Zealand than to Australia, which is the world’s biggest producer and provides the finest wools. It is clear that publicity methods must be devised which will inform the markets of the world of the particular merits of Australian wool - its outstanding quality, and its value in woollen textiles of all forms. Above all, it must he made clear that the Australian production is sufficient to meet world requirements. If the method of publicity adopted by the International Wool Secretariat prevents Australia from advertising its raw wool, the money which the wool-growers and the Government will contribute to the fund that is to be established should be devoted largely to publicizing the value of goods- that are manufactured from Australian wool. The increased contribution to be levied under this bill should benefit principally the Australian producers. To those who object to this attitude, and consider it to be narrow, I point out that the mere fact that Australian wool will be marketed in bigger quantities will indirectly result in an increased sale of all wool from all countries. I have made an examination of the methods used by the Australian Wool Board for international publicity, and have been disappointed with the board’s approach to this matter. I am hopeful that as the result of a change in the personnel of the board a more realistic approach than that witnessed in the past will be made to the users of wool. Honorable members will rf-call having seen in a display case in’ the King’s Hall last year, a novel exhibit by the Wool Board of synthetic fibres and textiles and a symbolic representation of those fibres doing infinite damage to Australia’s heritage and to its greatest primary industry. The symbolism defied all appreciation unless the whole display was carefully studied. To those who glanced casually at it, it appeared to be a publicity effort in the interests of synthetic fibres rather than a display intended to warn Australians of the danger of those fibres to the wool industry; but, in fact, it gave those fibres a valuable free advertisement.

Another point is the policy of the Wool Board in building a mobile film unit for the purpose of demonstrating to country people the value of woollen apparel. Country people, least of all, need to be educated in that way. Of what use would it be to tell dairy-farmers to drink more milk, arid thus build up their own industry? If a mobile unit is to be employed in country districts, it should be used entirely for the purpose of improving types of sheep and the quality of wool. In that role such a unit would be a valuable adjunct to technical and scientific research. Without being overcritical, I express the hope that the new Wool Board will show some imagination, and a better appreciation than its predecessor, of the fundamentals of publicity work. To my mind, the advertising methods adopted by the Government in connexion with Victory loans, including the use of wireless broadcasting and the display of films, would be suitable for publicizing the wool industry. The statements issued in popularizing the Victory loans have been easily assimilated by the public, and the loans have consequently met with marked success. The new Wool Board would be well advised to study that particular type of government advertising, so that simple and direct messages could be given to the people both in Australia and overseas regarding the merits of Australian wool. Of course, the publicity must be adapted to the tastes and fashions of the people, and those responsible for it must be ready to take advantage of any changes in markets. The publicity cannot be completely successful unless the finished products of the industry are of such a nature that they will find a ready sale. Thus it is essential that the widestpossible scientific research shall be carried out, and there should be the added attraction of a greater diversity of products and a quality surpassing that . of other textiles. I therefore applaud the Government’s decision, as expressed in the bill, to expand research. This expansion is long overdue. For years we have relied on a product which is without parallel as a natural fibre, but we have neglected to build up its appeal and thus prevent the increased use of synthetic fibres. If research is expanded and the quality of the finished products improved, synthetic fibres will become of greater danger to the silk industry than to the wool industry.

Therefore, research must extend over the whole range of apparel, and must enter strongly into the field of manufacture.

Wool should establish a definite market for itself in women’s outerwear. There has never been a large outlet for wool in that direction. Those who have seen exhibits of women’s fashionable woollen frocks must have been struck with the possibilities in this particular field. I believe that research, allied with modern merchandising methods, could increase the use of raw wool for the manufacture of new products to a degree not generally appreciated. Research should foe longranged, and not confined merely to the production of finer types of wool. There will be a sale for all types provided proper marketing methods are followed. Research must go right to the heart of processing, and should aim at eliminating the careless manufacture and the manufacturer of inferior goods. Planning for the secondary production side must also be long range, and we should have definite objectives in view. These should include the use of cheap wool such as crutchings, locks and bellies for the manufacture of plastic fibres which, on extrusion, would yield a product of high quality at a reasonable price which could compete with the expensive processes now used for the production of synthetic fibres.

It should be recognized that the wool industry, which contributes so largely to the national income, will not really, under these proposals, spend very much on publicity and research, compared with the tremendous amount spent annually by the manufacturers of plastics and cellulose products. It should also be remembered that the manufacturers of products in competition with wool are international in their operations. In fact, before the war, they constituted one of the biggest cartels in the world, with interests in a great many countries. To those who think that Australia need not spend much on wool research, these observations are directed, and should convince them that the course now being followed by the Government is not only wise, but also essential.


.This bill is one to make provision for improving the production of wool and to increase its uses; therefore, I trust that it, will be given the consideration that its importance deserves. Unfortunately, matters of minor importance are sometimes given greater consideration in this chamber than is given to matters of vital importance to the nation. In his second-reading speech, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) said that wool production was a major Australian industry. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) spoke in a similar strain. I agree with them, but I remind the House that action taken by the Government recently will mean that by the end of this month no wheat will be made available for the feeding of stock.

Mr Sheehy:

– What has that to do with wool?


– It has a lot to do with wool. With the possible exception of the drought of 1902, Australia is experiencing the greatest drought of its liistory People qualified to judge have said that unless the drought breaks before the end of May between 20,000,000 and 30.000,000 sheep will die in Australia. On the basis of three bales of wool from every 100 sheep, and with wool valued at £1G or £17 a bale, honorable members can easily calculate what the loss of those sheep would mean to Australia. On the one hand we are told by a responsible Minister that the production of wool is a major Australian industry whilst on the other hand the Government’s action gives us cause for fear. Australia’s economic progress depends largely on the wool industry; our standard of living, and the opportunities for employment depend, in the main, on this industry, and to it also we must look for the maintenance of Australian funds overseas. It is true to say that the development of Australia, and the provision of amenities for its people, have coincided with the growth and prosperity of the wool industry. As wool represents about 4’0 per cent, of the valueof Australian exports, it will be seen thai” a fall in the price of wool may precipitate a financial crisis in Australia. Those of us who during recent weeks have been studying the history of banking know that nearly every financial crisis in this country has been related to the price of wool. Honorable members will recall that fourteen or fifteen years ago Australia suffered from a severe financial depression. The main reason underlying that depression was that the value of Australia’s wool exports fell from about £66,000,000 in 1927-28 to about £32,000,000 in 1930-31, and to even a smaller sum in the following year. The fall in respect of wool was greater than in respect of all other primary products. It will be seen, therefore, that the de,pression was due largely to the fall that took place in the price of wool - a matter over which we in this country had no control.

Mr Sheehy:

– What caused the depression in Great Britain?


– I am dealing, not with Britain, but with Australia. What occurred in the depression years shows clearly the value of the wool industry to this country.

Let us turn now to the future of the wool industry. As I have said, our standard of living and opportunities for the employment of the people depend largely on the prosperity of the wool industry. Before I deal with the future of tire wool industry, however, I wish to recall the agricultural development of Australia during the last 150 years. Australia’s progress and development coincided with the progress and expansion of Great Britain. Between 1790 and 1940 the population of Great Britain increased from about 10,000,000 to about 46,000,000. During that period, British industries expanded enormously, and Great Britain became not only a great manufacturing country, but also « creditor nation. One contributing factor to Britain’s progress was the development of its woollen manufacturing industry, following important inventions, such as the spinning jenny and Crompton’s mule, which enabled the British textile industry to expand on an unprecedented scale, largely because of the fine quality of its products. In the future, Australia will not have the advantage of increased trade owing to a rapid increase of population in Great Britain, nor can we expect the same tremendous growth of manufacturing industries in the Old Country. The population of Great Britain is practically stationary, and that country is no longer a creditor nation. Great Britain, like Australia, will have to seek markets for its goods. Future conditions in Europe will mean a great deal to us in Australia. Many of the former most prosperous and progressive European nations will for many years be in a state of great confusion, because their communications have been destroyed, their industries have been smashed, and their trade disrupted. Before the war Germany and countries which have been overrun by its armies consumed about, one-half of the world’s total, production of wool. In pre-war years from 8 per cent, or 9 per cent, to 2S per cent, of Australia’s wool was exported to Japan, but conditions have changed, and that market will not exist to the same degree after the war. I mention these things in order to show that an entirely new situation will face the Australian wool industry after the war. Problems associated with currency and exchange will have to be solved before international trade can be resumed on anything like the pre-war basis. Another problem facing the wool industry is the competition of synthetic fibres. When these fibres first appeared in the world’s markets they were rightly regarded as more of a menace to the cotton and silk industries than to the wool industry; but in the intervening years the quality of these fibres has improved to such a degree that synthetic fibres are now a very real competitor of wool. In 1932, the world’s production of synthetic fibres was about 500,000,000 lb. compared with over 4,000,000,000 lb. to-day. The present production of synthetic fibres is double that of scoured wool. Synthetic fibres can now be produced not only from wood pulp, but also from milk, glass, the fibre of the “ monkey “ nut, coal, soya beans and seaweed. The material which to-day constitutes a charming dress may tomorrow revert to its raw state in the chemist’s laboratory, and be available for use in some other way. If this country is to progress and expand we must put. the chemist to work in the interests of the wool industry. Unless we are careful our national economy may receive a shattering blow. Therefore, I have been endeavouring to stress that the advancement of the wool industry is a matter of interest and concern not only to the wool-growers and wool and textile manufacturers, but also to every Australian. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) asked in his speech whether it was possible to expand the wool production of this country, whether it was possible to increase the number of sheep. Although in some quarters: a contrary opinion is held, my opinion is that we could greatly increase the numbers of sheep and the production of wool. We need not go far from Canberra to realize that. I defy any one who, in a normal season, has travelled by road the country between Canberra and Albury to say that more than one-tenth of it is developed. Not more than one- tenth of north-eastern Victoria, which I know very well, is developed. In varying degrees, the same holds good for other parts of Australia. The number of sheep carried and the quantity of wool produced both depend on the feed available and, apart from pasture improvement, improved breeding and the use of artificial manures, Australia is notorious a>s a country which neglects conservation of fodder. Only in very recent years did scientific farming begin in Australia. I shall give- two by no- means isolated examples of what can occur. The first is that which took place in the western district of Victoria on the property that belonged’ to out late friend, “ Jim “ Fairbairn. When he took it up the carrying capacity of his 3,000 acres was about three-quarters of a sheep to the acre. Yet, in five or six years, by dint of application of superphosphate and ploughing and sowing, that same country carried 10,000 sheep. The second example is that of a property in my own district which, in a few years immediately before the war, when artificial manures could be obtained, expanded its wool clip by more than 100 bales. There is room for great expansion of wool production. We can go from one stage of progress to another and look ahead- with a fair degree of confidence if we can sell our wool. But in that respect the future presents a problem which concerns all industries and every citizen of this country. Every one interested in the production, manufacture and distribution of wool, from those employed in the industry to the ordinary citizen, must appreciate the magnitude of the problem and- make a common endeavour to solve it.. During the budget debate last year, I told the House that, although the wool-growers had been willing in 1936 to give to a board to be created the sum of £80,000 a year for the promotion of the wool industry,, that was a mere pittance. In his second-reading speech, the Minister said that about £16,000 a year had been expended in Australia on publicity to promote the interests of the wool-growing industry. In the wide world outside, which buys, more than 90 per cent, of our wool clip, we had been expending, taking the exchange into consideration, £39,000 a year. Only £16,000 a year had been expended in Australia on research into the problems and ramifications of the industry. Australian soap and tooth paste, manufacturers think nothing of expending £130,000 a year each on advertising their products. Almost nightly one can hear programmes broadcast over a great number of radio stations advertising a furniture firm in Victoria which thinks nothing of spending well1 over £100,000 a year on advertising. Yet Australia’s major industry, the industry on which we depend for the achievement of our hopes for social security for the people, spends a mere pittance on advertising and research. In my speech on the budget, I recommended, with, I think, the approval of the wool-growers themselves, that their contribution should be quadrupled’ from 6d. to 2s. a bale, and said that to the fund thus created the Government should contribute £500,000- a year. That would have provided1 about £800,000 a year for research into the economics of the industry and- the advertising throughout the world of textiles made from Australian wool. Now we have this bill which gives approximate effect to my suggestion. The amount to- be contributed by the growers for research and publicity is to be quadrupled and the Government will contribute on a £1 for £1 basis. That will provide a fund of about £650,000 a year for promotion of the wool industry by way of publicity and research. Before dealing with this bill in detail, I direct attention to the 3936 act, under which the first fund was created by means of growers’ contributions for publicity and research. The £S0,000 thereby raised came exclusively from the growers and a board representative of the growers was established to expend the fund on publicity and research. Under this bill we are to have a departure. A new board is to be constituted on which there will be a wool adviser, who will be appointed by the Government. He should be a highly qualified technical man with an allembracing knowledge of the industry. In addition, the Australian Wool-growers’ Council, the federal body representative of most of the Australian wool-growers organizations, and the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation of Australia are each to nominate three members. In other words, apart from the Commonwealth Wool Adviser, it will be a producer-controlled board, and it will control the expenditure of such moneys as the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, in conjunction with the Treasurer and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, determine shall be provided for the promotion of the wool industry by publicity and other means in Australia and overseas. The board first contemplated, was to have consisted of the Commonwealth Wool Adviser and four members nominated by the Australian Wool-growers’ Council and two nominated by the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation. The presidents of both organizations had agreed to that representation and had made that agreement known in writing to the Government, and in November the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin)’ made a statement accepting the four to two ratio of growers’ representatives. In reply to different organizations interested in the constitution of the board, the Treasurer mIso made it known that he was in agreement with the four to two ratio. I and many others want to know why that ratio was altered. Why did the Prime Minister promise, one thing one moment and reverse his decision the next? Why did the Treasurer indicate to the organizations concerned that he Was agreeable :ind then change his mind? It is well known that practically half the sheep in Australia are owned by members of the Australian Wool-growers’ Council. I should be greatly surprised if any Minister could say that the balance are owned by members of the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation. I am convinced that nothing like half the remainder of the sheep in Australia belongs to members of that particular body. Therefore, one must ask why the ratio has been altered, and why the solemn undertaking given by the Prime Minister and Treasurer is not honoured in this measure. The Government is now making a totally different approach to this problem. It is now approaching this matter in much the same way as it approached the problems of the wheat industry. Instead of dealing with that industry in a statesman-like way, it placed its party political interests foremost and guaranteed a price in respect of only a certain portion of each grower’s production, completely ignoring the claims of 30 per cent, of the growers, who actually produce 70 per cent, of our entire crop. I hope that the Minister will explain the reason for this change of approach to the problems of the wool industry. I have a greatadmiration for the old board. Its members, who were directly responsible to the industry, were very kee-n and enthusiastic and untrammelled by red tape. With what funds they possessed they set out eagerly to encourage the use of wool in this country and abroad, and to assist other organizations overseas which were engaging, in research work of value to the wool industry. However, whilst I acknowledge the achievements .of the old board, on the research side, including investigation into foot rot and the dissemination of veterinary knowledge to growers generally, it showed very little imagination with respect to publicity. That fact can be confirmed by a comparison of the advertisements issued by the board in the daily press last week with the press publicity in the name of Samuel Courtauld and Company (Australia) Proprietary Limited, one of the leading manufacturers of rayon. The old board fell down on its job so far as publicizing wool and woollen products was concerned. Yet the functions of the proposed board are to be limited to publicity and advertising, despite the fact that all of its members will be men who are closely associated with the production side. Does it not seem strange that the main function of the proposed board is to relate to publicity with which the average producer hae little acquaintance? I do not say that producers are incapable of making valuable contributions on the advertising side, but, by and large, those associated with the selling section of the products of any industry are best able to deal with publicity. At the retailing end are to bc found the men who are most intimately acquainted with this problem. Under this scheme the representatives of the producers will have nothing to do with research, about which they are most directly concerned, but will have the duty mainly of dealing with publicity on behalf of the industry. The proposed board will administer moneys which will be made available to it from the wool tax, but, as I have already pointed out, Ministers may allocate 1 per cent, of 99 per cent, of those funds for research purposes. It is also proposed to set up a Wool Consultative Council representative of the Australian Wool Board, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, manufacturing interests, textile distributors, the Australian Workers Union and the Textile Workers Union. This body will act as consultant to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction or the other Ministers mentioned, namely, the Minister for War Organization of Industry, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and the Treasurer. The Wool Consultative Council is the only body to l)e created under this measure which will be representative of all sections of the industry. It will be given the task of working out the main lines of research relating to production and manufacture as well as the economics of the industry generally. It will be called together at the will of the Minister. Thus, it may meet very frequently, or very seldom. However, nothing can flow from its deliberations unless a determination is made by one of the Ministers mentioned. It is true that these Ministers can, if they so desire, use the board ; but, otherwise, the determination of policy in respect of the expenditure of funds to be provided under the scheme will be in the hands of the Ministers concerned. Yet another body is to be set up under the scheme, namely, an. inter-departmental committee, which will co-ordinate all activities undertaken on the recommendations of the advisory body. Such an organization is rather top-heavy. It is rather a queer mixture. On the one hand, we are to have men, expert on the producing side, who will have little or no opportunity to employ their expert knowledge, whilst on the other hand all expenditure in respect of research and the economics of the industry generally will be directed mainly by an advisory body which will meet infrequently, that is, only at the will of the Minister. Thu, at base, all activity under the scheme will be entangled in red tape. Such an arrangement is hardly ideal for the administration of funds for the promotion of research and publicity with respect to wool. That class of set-up does not appeal to me. I have already mentioned some of the difficulties which will confront the industry in the immediate post-war period. I have emphasized that what is needed is concerted action embracing all phases of the industry. The Government would be better advised to set up a board with executive powers, consisting of a highly qualified technical man- conversant with most phases of the industry as wool adviser together with representatives of ill interests from the growing end to the textile end. I have no objection to representation being given on such a body to workers engaged in the industry either at the producing end or in the manufacturing sphere. Indeed, in such schemes we should promote closer relationships between employees and those in control of the industry. That relationship is already developed to anintimate degree in the smaller industries, but, unfortunately, employers’ andemployees in our larger industries seem to be divided constantly into two hostile camps. Under an organization of the kind I suggest that every phase of the industry, including the scientific, manufacturing, distributing, and producing sections, should, be represented, and should have a voice in the administration of -whatever funds are made available. I believe that financial contributions should be sought from the manufacturing interests. It is idleto say that only the producer is interested in the development of the industry. The textile manufacturer is equally interested. An arrangement such as I suggest would arouse in every branch of the industry enthusiasm, for publicity and research. It is not sufficient to ensure that only the producing side is properly looked after. I want to see this country become, as I am sure it will become, one of the biggest textile manufacturing and distributing centres in the world. We have not reached saturation point in Australia so far as themarket for wool is concerned. Woollen underclothing has gone out of fashion for both men and women in this country. It is impossible to recapture this trade. A valuable market for woollen clothing exists in the United: States of America. I agree with the honorable member for New England that very valuable markets for our wool can also be developed in- India, China, the Netherlands East Indies and Russia. Apart altogether from the sale of the raw material, the industry must set about giving to the world the finished article. To-day, there is room for extensive development on the manufacturing side. We have a long way to go before the best products of Australian textile mills will equal the best products of the British mill’s. *[Extension of time granted.] A board of the kind which I suggest, representing all viewpoints, would be able to get down to its task, untrammelled by the red tape of government departments. If i t so desired it could utilize the services of government departments. It would be responsible, of course, to a Minister because it would handle large sums of the taxpayers’ money, but it would be free to go ahead and develop its own ideas, and’ to set up its own staff. I believe that such a body could achieve much better results than will be obtained by the proposed organization, which includes a board, a consultative council and so on, down to the interdepartmental committee.

Part of the work of those associated with the expenditure- of this money will be an investigation of the economics of the industry, but no matter what investigations are carried out, or what conclusions are reached, the work will not be of any value unless the Commonwealth -Government pursues a policy which will be of advantage to the industry. Here we encounter the fiscal policy of the Government. If in the post-war years . taxation is to be not decreased but increased as forecast by the Treasurer recently - he is reported to have said that by 1947- taxation requirements would amount to £28,000,000 more than they are to-day - there will not be any incentive for anybody engaged in this industry,, either on the producing or manufacturing side, to do very much to assist the industry. Once incentive is withdrawn, activity, enterprise and inventive genius start to decline.

Another matter intimatelyassociated with costs in this industry is tariff policy. History proves that the party now in office is obsessed with the idea that Australia must meet its own requirements of almost all manufactured goods whether or not the production of those commodities in this country is economic. When the Labour party was last in office under the leadership of the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) tariffs were raised to the sky, and an impossible burden was- placed upon the export industries, notwithstanding the fact that those industries were passing through the worst depression they had ever experienced. In 1929 it was estimated that the tariff burden on the export industries represented 8 per cent, of costs. Therefore, unless future governments heed the lesson of history, and to a large degree relate their fiscal policy to natural industries, the expending’ of money on investigations of costs throughout the world and in Australia will be- useless’. In other words, the governments must realize’ that the-. first industries to he developed and main.tained are the natural industries of this country. Here we have the happiest blend in the world of climate, soil and open spaces for the growing of wool.

I shall refer now to the menace of synthetic wool fibres. The honorable member for New England stated correctly that it would be foolish to bar the importation of synthetic fibres to this country, but I submit that every member of the community has a right to know the composition of any article be buy3. If a purchaser is seeking a pure wool garment he should not be misled with a product which contains only 50 per cent, of wool and 50 per cent, of synthetic fibre. The State governments have tackled this problem, hut there is no uniformity in their legislation. I see no reason why the Commonwealth Government could not pass a measure introducing uniform conditions relating to the manufacture of woollen textiles.

Mr Dedman:

– The honorable member knows that the Commonwealth Government does not have the constitutional power to do that.


– But the Commonwealth Government could approach the State governments with a request that it be given power to pass legislation to secure some uniformity in this matter. The problem is not insoluble if it is tackled in the right manner. Recently in Melbourne I purchased a pair of socks branded “ All wool “, but strangely, although one of the ‘outstanding qualities of wool is its elasticity, the socks had very little stretch in them. I doubt very much whether many articles which are sold to-day as pure wool are so in fact. This is an avenue which could be explored by the Commonwealth Government. I believe that the States would welcome an approach by the Commonwealth in an effort to secure legislation designed to introduce some degree of uniformity.

No matter what may be done by the Government in the direction of appointing boards, consultative committees, or expending hundreds of thousands^ of pound’s upon research by highly qualified technical men into costs in this industry, the foundation of the industry in the future will be very much the same as it has been in the past, namely, the quality of the people engaged in it. There is a real need in this country for technical education not only in this industry, but also in the whole range of agricultural pursuits. I was amazed to find just outside Reading in Great Britain, the finest dairy research farm I have ever seen. “We have nothing approaching it in this country. If this industry is to progress and to bc the means, as it has been in the past, not only of raising standards of living in this country, but also of providing funds for the importation of machine tools and other commodities necessary to maintain and build up our secondary industries, much will have to be done in the education of those engaged in the many phases of wool production. In the final analysis success will depend substantially upon the Tom Browns and Jack Smiths throughout the length and breadth of this country. I am quite sure that if the Liberal party returns to the treasury bench at the next general elections there will be a very big improvement in the technical education of people on the land.

I agree with the principle of research and with the need for publicity. I agree also that the wool-growers themselves should contribute money for these purposes, and that the Commonwealth Government also should make its contribution towards the preservation of this, our major industry; but I disagree with the composition of the proposed board, and E disagree most strongly with the provision which will enable the Government to take without their consent money subscribed by the wool-growers. I disagree also with the general machinery involved in this measure. It is far too intricate and could be simplified greatly. With simplification and enlargement there could he a much better organization, and consequently an improved outlook for every section of the industry. I repeat that I am in agreement with the principle of the bill, but I shall support strongly certain amendments which have been foreshadowed by the honorable member for New England. I have advanced my point of view in the hope that, amongst others, it will be considered by the Government because from my own experience in this industry and from my knowledge of its history I know just bow much it means to the welfare, progress and security of the people of Australia.


.- The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) and the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) criticized strongly the proposed representation of “ wool-growers on the Australian W ool Board. I was particularly interested in the reasoning of the honorable member for New England, who took strong exception to the fact that equal representation would be given to each of the growers’ organizations instead of a 4 to 2 ratio as promised previously. However, he ignored the fact that the representatives would still all be woolgrowers. Following his criticism of the representation, the honorable member announced that he would move an amendment providing that each section of the industry should be represented by five members. The honorable member for Deakin asked with . the air of a school teacher conducting a class “ quizz “, why was the change made in the representation on the proposed board. I shall tell the House why the change was made. Certain evidence which was submitted to the Government previously, was obtained by nothing less than a confidence trick played by the Australian Wool-growers Council. This is what took place: As far back as the 25th January, 1943, negotiations started between the two organizations. The Australian Wool Producers Federation endeavoured to obtain representation on the Australian Wool Board, an organization operating under legislation passed in 1936, which provided -

The board shall consist of one member, in this act referred to as the Government representative to be appointed by the GovernorGeneral and six members to be appointed by the Governor-General upon the recommendation of the council.

Therefore at that time complete control of expenditure was in the hands of the council which was the strongest organization, and which was then part of the Australian Country party political machine. To-day they are divorced legally, but are still living together. The government of the day said in effect to the federation, “ The only way you can get representation is by going to the council and reaching an amicable agreement” That was the position of the federation. It had to be prepared to accept humbly any degree of representation granted to it. Negotiations continued from the 25th January, 1943, until September, 1944, when suddenly the Australian Woolgrowers Council said to the Australian Wool Producers Federation, “Yes, we will allow you two representatives. Here, sign the letter now and we will send it to the Minister “. What was the reason for this? As an official body the council learned in advance that new legislation was to be introduced, and it knew full well that then the case would be judged in the court of public opinion. It knew that the public would realize that the socalled small wool-growers, though they owned only small numbers of sheep, produced a large proportion of the total clip and that their claims would have to be considered. Therefore, the squatters of the Australian Wool-growers Council obtained the signature of the president of the Australian Wool Producers Federation under false pretences. Immediately the federation learned the facts it wrote to the Government, but by then an announcement had been made by the Prime Minister. However, as soon as the truth was published the two organizations were given equal representation. Those facts are incontrovertible. I regret that the two honorable gentlemen opposite who spoke earlier have left the chamber, knowing that I would answer their arguments.

I commend the Government for introducing this measure, which is designed to assist all branches of the wool industry from the shearing board to the shop counter. The Government realizes the importance of the industry, its effect on the economic life of Australia, the fact that last year it contributed £74,000,000 to the wealth of the nation, and that wool alone represents 40 per cent, of the total exports of Australia. With the consent of the House I shall incorporate in Hansard a graph showing the fluctuations of wool prices in relation to the fluctuations of employment figures in Australia.

Our staple product, wool, is about to face one of the most serious challenges in its history. We shall shortly see in the commercial world a great struggle which will become known as the battle of the textiles. We should all do every thing possible to ensure that the wool industry shall be victorious. I have no doubt about the superiority of wool over synthetic materials. Its qualities will ensure its survival. Whenever nations go to war they require the best materials, and they have always shown their preference for woollen materials over synthetics. Two years ago a Congressional inquiry was carried out in the United States of America into the claims of woollen and synthetic textiles. The following is an extract from the report of evidence given at that inquiry by the former manager of the Fabric Development Department of the Dupont Rayon Company, testifying as chief of the Textile, Clothing and Leather Goods Section of the Division of Civilian Supply of the War Production Board of the United Slates of Amercia: -

CHAIRMAN. - There comes a point in the adulteration of wool whereby a further adulteration ceases to be an economy.

WITNESS. - Very much so; then you just waste the commodity, waste the wonderful properties wool has.

Wool is far superior to any synthetic product and it is only a certain amount of dilution that will not ruin its properties, and below that certain point I think it just wastes it.

CHAIRMAN. - Then as a man who has made a profession and study of the manufacture of rayon and that type of material you still recognize and maintain that the proper cloth for soldiers in the field in cold weather is as pure wool as it is possible to get.

WITNESS. - Yes. That is my honest conviction.

At that time General C. Li Corbin Director of Procurements in the United States of America, made the following statement : -

Move Germans died from the lack of woollen clothes than Russian bullets in the push to Moscow.

Furthermore, when Japan attacked Manchuria in 1932 it commenced fierce competition against international buyers of Australian wool. It is well known that an international wool ring operating in Australia was engaged in lot splitting, but because Japan badly needed wool to clothe its soldiers in Manchuria it broke away from the ring and, in the strong wool class up to a count of about 56, it forced the market price up by 4d. to 5d. per lb. That indicates how eager J apan was to obtain wool. Great financial organizations are mustering their resources for the production of synthetic textiles. In the United States of America, just prior to the outbreak of war, the manufacturers of synthetic fibres expended £6,000,000 on scientific research.

They investigated the properties of soya beans, skimmed milk, wood pulp and coal. In 1937 a rayon manufacturing company in Great Britain expended £2,000,000 on research and publicity. These are the danger signals. They indicate the extent to which the manufacturers of synthetic articles will go in an endeavour to displace wool. This bill will establish a fund of £650,000, a sum ten times greater than any amount previously allotted in this country for industrial and scientific research in the industry. Even this amount is little enough when we consider the enormous sums which have been expended by the financial supporters of the manufacture of synthetic textiles.

The Australian Wool Board, when reconstituted, will have many tasks. I believe that its principal tasks should be to advise the Government on trends throughout the world in wool and other textile production and on the best action to take in the light of those trends. It will have to decide whether our wool is altering in type and, if so, what action should be taken. At all times it must look ahead and endeavour to guide the industry in the best interests of Australia. The board must co-ordinate the activities of various organizations within the industry in much the same way as an officer in charge of combined military operations co-ordinates his forces. It must ensure that publicity is directed where marketing research indicates the best sales prospects, that economic research adequately covers all phases of the industry - production, both primary and secondary, handling transport, distribution, from the sheep to the consumer - and by an overall appreciation of the situation it must ensure that remedial action is taken where necessary and that scientific research is adequately applied. It must effect a balance between technical research and its application, textile education, and publicity on the one hand and the interests of wool-growers, manufacturers, distributors and labour unions on the other hand. A comprehensive appreciation of the problems involved should be possible by means of close association between the standing committee, the Australian Wool Board and the Wool

Consultative Council. The board should ensure that as much of the clip as possible is processed or manufactured in Australia, having in mind the fact that, because good textile fibres oan be produced in chemical plants, a time may come when the market for Australian wool will depend on our ability to export products of superlative quality and design. The board should aim to make Australia as famous for its cloth as it is for its wool, and to manufacture up to 10 per cent, of the clip into cloth for export in order ‘ to ensure a demand for the remainder of the clip in raw or processed form, This would involve doubling the pre-war production of wool textiles in Australia, when 28,800 persons were directly employed in spinning, weaving and knitting wool, and would raise the national income by at least £36,000,000. Possibly, a considerable quantity of the remaining 80 per cent, of raw wool could be successfully exported in a processed or semimanufactured state. This would depend largely on maintaining and even improving quality so that overseas manufacturers would have complete confidence in the Australian processed product. Rigid quality control is vital to the maintenance of our export trade. The board should educate wool-growers, processors and manufacturers in the problems of the industry so that they would be receptive to the results of research and would work together in the interests of the industry generally. It should also educate the public on the importance of wool.

Economic research will reveal the truth about all phases of the wool industry and education must follow its findings to prepare the way for modifications and/or changes of existing practice. One unfortunate aspect of the industry is that the wool-growers and wool manufacturers are just as far apart as two groups in the same industry could be. If they conferred, it would be found, however, that for quite different reasons they were in agreement that there must be no expansion of wool processing or the manufacture of woollen goods in Australia. The wool-growers believe that the manufacture of woollen goods in Australia interferes with com petition for raw wool. Before the war, the manufacturers were manufacturing approximately enough woollen textiles for Australia’s needs and they prefer the status quo. In the national interests, both must change their attitude. The wool-growers must be educated to understand that the competition of Australian manufacturers and processors is of great assistance to them, and that the ultimate prestige of wool may depend on the Australian manufacturer and processor. Australian manufacturers and processors must be educated to realize that their prosperity depends on export, that cutthroat competition in Australia should be a thing of the past, and -that all must utilize, the findings of research in the common cause of developing a successful export in both textiles and wool tops.

I have been struck by the fact that, in dealing with this measure, the two members of the Australian Country party who have spoken have failed to mention one important feature of the present position of the wool industry. Although these honorable gentlemen claim that they really represent the primary producers, neither of them had a word to say about what has become known as the “ wool-pile of the world “, an accumulation of approximately 10,000,000 bales of wool which has occurred during the war period. Neither honorable gentleman had a word to say about what could be done with that wool. In my opinion, it is absolutely essential that we shall continue into the years of peace the appraisement system which is now . in operation, and that we shall bring into being an organization such as that which was established during the last war, known as Bawra, to deal with this woolpile. Such an organization is necessary to fix prices and determine limits. It was only by the adoption of that system that the wool industry was saved in the years that followed the last war. In May, 1944, the American Government requested tie United States Tariff Commission to report upon how the considerable wool-pile in f/hat country could be disposed of. The commission made an exhaustive investigation and, in the final paragraph of its report, made the following comment under the heading “ Method of Sale of Stock-pile Wools”-

The Defence Supplies Corporation is now selling its stocks of foreign wools at auction. Most importers, dealers, and wool textile mills prefer sale by catalogue, at private treaty, using established firms as intermediaries between the Government and users, in part to avoid speculative risks and in part to give all buyers access to the supplies in such quantities as they may respectively desire. For both those reasons it is claimed by the wool trade that the Government will obtain higher prices than if auction sales are used. In this connexion, the fact that the United Kingdom has abandoned disposal of wool by auctions during the emergency is not without significance. The foregoing claim of the wool trade merits close examination because each additional centper scoured pound received from sale of the original stock would, in effect, cut nearly $2,000,000 from the Government’s loss on its investment in domestic wools, and improve the net position of the Government with respect to its total holdings of raw wool.

Our experience after the last war, as well as our experience during this war, has made it abundantly clear that we must do away with auctions and adopt the appraisement system. That is the effect of the report of the United States Tariff Commission.

I shall now make some suggestions for amendments to the bill to which I hope the Government will give the closest attention. Clause 5 of the measure provides for the establishment of the Australian Wool Board. Clause 6 deals with the membership of the board. Sub-clause 5 of that clause provides -

On the occurrence of a casual vacancy in the office of any member of the Board (other than the Commonwealth Wool Adviser), the Minister may, after consultation with the organization on the nomination of which the member whose office has become vacant was appointed, appoint a person to fill the vacancy, and any person so appointed shall, subject to this Act, hold office for the residue of the term of the member in whose placehe is appointed.

I suggest that the words “may, after consultation with “ be deleted and that the words “ shall, on the nomination of,” be inserted in lieu thereof. I hope that the Government will set itself strongly against the suggestion that has been made by two honorable members opposite that the chairman of the board should be appointed by the board itself. I believe that that would be a very unsatisfactory arrangement. We know very well that the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council is closely interlocked with such auctioneering firms as Dalgety and Company Limited, Younghusband Limited, Elder Smith and Company Limited and the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company Limited, which firms do their utmost to ensure that persons are placed in office who will do what the companies desire them to do. They wish the provisions of the bill to be kept as wide as possible so that they may have every opportunity to have their own nominees appointed to office. The whole spirit of the bill is that the growers shall have the right to elect their own representatives. I consider, therefore, that if a representative of the growers dies, or if, for any reason, an office held by a representative of the growers- becomes vacant, the growers’ organization should have the right, to nominate aperson to fill the vacant office. That democratic right, which is provided in the bill, should be preserved in relation to vacancies.

Clause 13, which authorizes the board to enter into -arrangements for . publicity, provides- that “subject to any directions of the Minister “ the board, shall, exercise certain powers. I suggest that the words “ any directions “ should be deleted and the words “ the approval “ inserted in lieu thereof. Otherwise the board will not have any power of initiation. The Minister himself will direct. This, I suggest, may prevent proper surveys being made in certain cases. I desire the board to have thepower to make surveys and subsequently to submit proposals to the Minister. I realize that the final decision should rest with the Minister, but the board should not be stifled in its endeavours to take action which it considers will be beneficial to the industry.

Clause 14 provides that a Wool Consultative Council consisting of seven members shall be appointed for certain purposes. I hope that the Government will agree to increase the number to eight. After the words “ the Board” in paragraph b of sub-clause 2 I would like to see the following words added “ two members who shall be operative wool-growers, who shall derive the major portion of their livelihood from the production of wool “. Although this council will be consultative in character, it will have power to spend certain moneys. Representation on it is being given to the wool manufacturers, who will obtain benefits from the scheme, but will put nothing into it, and to the textile distributors, who also will obtain benefits but contribute nothing. I do not think that they should have equal representation with the Australian Wool Board, and for that reason I ask that the council be given two representatives, who should be genuine growers’ representatives. I have fought for grower control of primary industries for the last eighteen years, but I regret to say that very often after winning a fight for grower control we have had to suffer seeing men appointed to boards who are merely hobby farmers, who derived the greater part of their income from dividends from investments in companies which, generally, obtained their profits from farmers. I hope that the growers’ representatives appointed under this bill will be genuine producers. I consider this to be a vital clause of the bill.

Clause 17 deals with the application of the fund to be raised, and it provides that “ the Ministers shall determine the proportion of moneys to be credited to the Fund “. I would like to see the words “ after consultation with the Board” inserted after the word “Ministers” first occurring. Seeing that the growers will contribute 2s. to the fund for each bale of wool handled, they should have the right, to say how their money will be expended, though I admit, of course, that the Government is also contributing a similar amount. I should have no worry on this account if the present Government were to remain in office permanently, but political reactions are always liable to occur, and we must guard against them, as far as we can. I appreciate that, in this case also, the final decision must rest with the Government, but I think it a fair thing to ask that there should be some consultation with the board. If this is provided for, an arrangement satisfactory to all parties is more likely than will otherwise be the case.

In dealing with this subject I say, in conclusion, that we must realize that the competition of synthetics against our staple product will continue to grow in force. Those countries which produce fibres suitable for the manufacture of synthetics, such as soya beans, skimmed milk and coal, must be expected to do their utmost to develop the synthetic industries and we, on our part, must do our best to protect our wool industry. We know very well .-that those countries which desire wool of a high quality must buy it from Australia. We must see that we continue to produce super-quality wool and we must see, too, that our wool is properly advertised throughout the world. Within the framework of this bill there is the means to protect and develop our wool industry. In fact, the whole purpose of the measure is to enable qualified authorities to take up the cudgels on behalf of wool and woollen textiles. Great forces are supporting synthetics, . the principal reason being that in an assured stability of price there is an opportunity to obtain a greater yield on capital. That is the sole reason for the investment of millions of pounds by speculators in an endeavour to perfect synthetics. The wool industry has to contend against the overseas wool trade, which has practised lot-splitting, cornering and forward selling - all dishonest practices, but allowable under our economic system ; dishonest in as much as they levy tribute on every section of the wool industry, without conferring any advantage on or assisting it in any way. All these forces are working against wool, the effect of which on the economic life of this country cannot be too strongly stressed. I am confident, however, that with proper research into all phases of the industry, correct advertising, and courageous sales methods in the markets of the world, wool will remain the primary textile for many years to come.


– I support the bill in principle. It is necessary to recognize that publicity and research are needed in connexion with this great industry. Generally, the speeches to-day have dealt with the matter in principle; therefore, I regret that the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon) saw fit to introduce unwarrantably the element of party politics. In making charges about false pretences which he cannot prove, he did not assist the merits of the bill.

I am ‘concerned about the opposition which the great wool industry is meeting, and will have to meet in the future from synthetic fibres. I agree with the contention of most of those who have spoken, that perhaps the best way in which that opposition can be met is by the greatest possible improvement of the quality of wool, and by research. The matter should be viewed nationally, in order to determine the best means for keeping this great industry in operation. Throughout my electorate, and I believe the eastern States as a whole, the woolgrowers were alive to the position that existed before this bill was mooted. Their associations were organized with a view to increasing voluntarily their levies for the very purpose that the measure seeks to achieve. Therefore, we can concede that they are behind the bill in principle.

I agree with the suggested alteration to clause 17. At first, I felt inclined to support the amendment which the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) said that he intended to move.; but if the Government will accept the suggestion of. the .honorable member for Forrest, for the approval instead of the direction of the Minister to be obtained, in effect leaving to the board which, produces the fund’ the handling and distribution of the money, that will be satisfactory to me; the suggestion is a fine one, and merits consideration. Because of the experience of grower-controlled’ boards in Queensland, the Government need have no fear that any money contributed by growers for the welfare of the industry would not be expended in its interests. The amount of the fund should be made available in full for the purposes for which it is collected. There should be no question as to what proportion should be provided; it should be 100 per cent. If the tax is to be imposed for the purpose stated, it should be so applied, and there should be no need for the Minister to decide what proportion of the amount raised should go to the fund. The best results would be obtained by leaving the decision to a board representative of the growers. In any method adopted for the improvement of an industry, the greatest confidence is inspired by making those who are vitally and directly interested responsible for the handling of the money collected.

The price received under the agreement made Avith the British Government, comes into the picture. Stability in the industry is necessary, in order that the growers may have the confidence that will enable them to carry on their operations. In Queensland newspapers, and probably in the newspapers of the southern States also, the statement has been published under big headlines that the wool-growers are to be asked to share in the loss sustained on the accumulated surplus of wool. I know that Britain has not made that request. Probably, the idea is to learn whether the Commonwealth Government or the growers would be agreeable to the adoption of that course. I do not know whence the proposal originated. It is not fair to request or suggest that the .growers should be asked to make such a contribution. The price which Australian growers of wool have received has been a fair one. It may be considered to have risen to an equal degree compared with .the increased costs during the war. I cannot say whether it has or not. But assuming that it has, I submit that on the whole that is not the actual position, because in the ‘Computation of increased costs account has not been taken of the huge depreciation of grazing properties, and of the inability to make necessary improvements.

I was particularly interested in the statement that honorable members on this side of the House have not advanced any proposal for dealing with the huge surplus of wool. The honorable member for Forrest said that we should have an organization similar to Bawra. This savours of telling Britain what it should do. After all, it is not for us to say how Britain, which has purchased the wool, should handle the surplus. We shall need an organization similar to Bawra to handle new clips of wool when Australia has to dispose of them, because the market will have to be met as it becomes available, and finance may have to be provided. Organized marketing boards which handle commodities in Queensland and other States have to pay a first advance, and distribute the crop throughout the year. Similarly, wool handled on behalf of the growers will, of necessity, have to meet the market as it becomes available. It would be “ cheeky “ to suggest that we should sell the wool to Britain, accept the price offered, and then establish an organization and give advice as to how it should be sold.

Mr Dedman:

– Does the honorable member suggest that we should not do anything ?


– I agree with the suggestion in relation to the wool that we shall have to handle outside the contract.

I fear that a percentage of our wool clip is of lower quality than was produced prior to the war, the reason being that shortage of man-power has resulted in deterioration. Wool that is fourteen months old. and of ordinary growth has a longer staple than is required., and is classed down by approximately £5 a bale. Unfortunately, that, to some extent, is the position in Queensland to-day. Earlier in. the sitting, I was astounded whan I heard the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) say that he would not direct labour for shearing to Queensland because it was doubtful whether the men would obtain work when they went to that State. According to the press,’ the honorable gentleman would not agree to meet a deputation of graziers from Queensland.


– I ask the honorable member to deal with the bill.


– My remarks have a bearing on the bill. The quality of the wool produced in Queensland is definitely being affected because of the shortage of 1,000 men to complete the shearing in the necessary time. Even if they were forthcoming now, there would still be 2,000,000 sheep unshorn at the end of this shearing year, and the quality of the wool must be affected in consequence. There is a lag in the shearing of more than 3,000,000 sheep at the’ present time. When a Minister refuses even to meet a deputation on such a vital matter, it is incumbent on us to submit representations on behalf of the growers, in- order that the Government may recognize that it has a responsibility to maintain quality, and should not leave everything to the growers. A census taken by the graziers-“ organizations and shearing contractors in Queensland revealed a shortage of 562 shearers, 502 shed hands, 79 wool-pressers and 80 cooks. This great industry has not been given the consideration that it should receive. With some man-power being paid a dole in Queensland, the Government deserves to be criticized for not making it possible for the industry to have what it needs if it is to maintain, the quality of its production of wool.

I support the bill in principle, because I believe in the adoption of co-operative methods. I have no quarrel with the honorable member for Forrest because I favour control by the growers. The personnel of the growers’ board may be altered in committee, and if it be given control of the funds, in conjunction with the adviser to bc appointed by the Government, supported by the help of the suggested council, I consider that if the Minister will work in conjunction with them, rather than in a dictatorial manner, good results will be obtained from the bill. The measure has been described as one providing for the imposition of a tax. The growers are footing the cost, and therefore they should have charge, in effect, of their own money.

Mr Dedman:

– Where else in the field of taxation does that principle hold good ?


– It is an accepted principle in all trade and business, but the poor old producers are not allowed to apply it, except under the organized marketing legislation of Queensland, and similar legislation which operates to a lesser degree in other States. The policy of the Queensland Labour party on this matter, of which I approve, is one which is incorporated in an act covering organized marketing. Perhaps with the consent of the growers, it could be extended to wool. The system of cooperation could be fully applied, not by means of government control or governmentcontrolled boards, but grower-controlled organized marketing boards.

Mr Dedman:

– I am speaking of the, control of funds raised by taxation.


– I intimated that the growers had been organizing in order to impose this levy on themselves voluntarily, but the .Minister has called the levy under this bill a tax. If we impose a tax on the growers for the purpose of publicity and research, we shall have forgotten one section of the people who are receiving more benefit from the wool industry than the growers themselves. The hard-working grower is getting no more than he is struggling for day by day, but the wool broker and the distributor are doing very well. The more we improve the quality of wool and increase the price the more commission the brokers and distributors get. I have no particular sympathy with them, and they also should make a contribution to the industry from which they are deriving benefit. Why should we not tax that other section which is getting greater benefit from the industry than the growers? If there is to be a levy, the growers are entitled to handle it, but if it is a tax, let the other fellow contribute towards it.

Mr Dedman:

– The growers have asked the Government to do what is provided in this bill.


– Now the Minister is returning to my point that the growers were prepared to levy themselves and asked the Government to implement tlie scheme, but the Minister now calls the payment a tax.

Mr Dedman:

– The honorable member is trying to twist my words, and I object.


– Throughout Queensland the growers’ organizations sought to get the full consent of the growers to the principle, and they came to the Government with a view to obtaining legislative sanction of the scheme. Almost unanimous support was obtained from the growers, but I do not believe that they were agreeable to the scheme being carried out in a spirit of government domination. A spirit of cooperation is needed in order to get the best results from research and publicity.


.- This is an important measure, and it deals with a most important matter, because any proposal relating to wool has a greater effect on Australia’s internal economy than one dealing with any other commodity. Therefore, the Government is to be congratulated upon the introduction of this bill. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) traced the history of the wool industry back to the tenth century, but did not say much about the practical side of wool manufacture. About that time Great Britain became a manufacturing country, and I should have liked the honorable member to have said that the seats in the legislative chambers in this building should be covered with woollen materials. There is quite a lot which the honorable member did not say about wool. Australia is probably approaching another wool crisis. We should try tq learn from experience and avoid some of the mistakes of the past. During and after the last war there was an accumulation of wool stocks in this country, and the serious problem arose of how best to dispose of the surplus. To-day we are faced with much the same problem. When I returned from the last war, and went back into the wool industry, fine merino wool fetched ls. per lb. I recollect the arguments advanced by powerful interested parties concerning the purchase of our wool, but no member of the Country party has condemned those interests to-day because of our experience of them. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) said it would be undesirable to reintroduce a Bawra scheme at present. He would be satisfied to revert to the old open market system. Of course, the wool firms desire to return to the open market. The honorable member for New England desires to see brokers and shippers on the board.

Mr Abbott:

– I did not say “ on the board “.


– I do not know whether the honorable member is interested in the growers or in those who buy the wool clip and make more money than the sheepfarmers themselves. The honorable member was very provocative in his remarks to the Minister and showed bad taste. I give credit to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) for the way in which he met the crisis in the wool industry after the last war. It seems to me that co-operation between the growers is necessary, not only in Australia, but also in other wool-producing countries such as South America, New Zealand, and South Africa. The menace to the industry from synthetic fibres will have to be faced, but I think the difficulty can be met successfully. It would be a calamity for Australia if the price of wool fell below the present level. An organization on the lines of Bawra should be established in order to market our future clips, in conjunction with the stocks already held by Great Britain. Obviously, if I were a wool-buyer I should say, “ There are now about three clips of the world’s wool available, and we can bid anything we like for the wool of the Australian growers “. That is what happened after the last war. When Bawra was established wool was being sold on the open market, but the government of the day said, “Dump it in the sea rather than let it be sold for less than 8d. per lb.”. Sir John Higgins, the chairman of Bawra, was a good business man, and he applied purely business principles. He was chairman of many big business undertakings, such as the Metropolitan Gas Company in Victoria. Of course, that company had never sold gas below the cost of production, and he knew .that it was not necessary for Australia to sell its wool at the prices offering at that time. I shall read portion of a letter written by Mr. Harold Sims, chairman of the Mallowa branch of the Graziers Association of New South Wales. I understand that he was a member of Bawra. This letter will show the honorable member for New England that the present position oan be met, as it was after the last war. The old argument about meeting the market is all propaganda in the interests of the buyers, and the honorable member knows better than to accept that. The letter by Mr. Sims was published in the Melbourne Age of the 31st March, and states -

page 961



The chairman of the Australlian Wool Board, Mr. Douglas T. Boyd, in addressing the Chamber of Agriculture at Melbourne on 20th instant, appealed to wool-growers to get away from abstract discussions and view their problems realistically. For instance, he said - “ It is only clouding the issue of post-war accumulations to say that appraisement is better than the pre-war auction system. Of course it is better, simply because we have a buyer - the United Kingdom Government - willing to purchase at a fixed price the whole of our clip. Let us not chase the shadow of systems and lose the substance which governs the real and lusting prosperity of our industry.”

Possibly the honorable member for New England agrees with that statement by the chairman of the Australian Wool Board. But here is the opinion of another man who is just as much interested in these matters, and who had experience in disposing of the accumulated surplus of wool after the last war. Mr. Harold Sims, criticizing the statement to which I have referred, writes -

It is amazing that such an argument should emanate from a man in so prominent a position in the Australian wool trade. To designate discussions on the relative merits of appraisement and auction selling in the realization of our wool as abstract is surely the height of absurdity. That such discussion surrounds the very crux of the problem* now confronting the wool-growers’ future was very clearly revealed after World War I. by Sir Arthur Goldfinch, the governing director of the British Board of Bawra in the following statement: - “Although, unfortunately, brief in duration, the wool-growers arc indebted to Bawra control for the discovery that world, wool consumption exceeded the growth of that commodity by 22 per cent, at a time when woolgrowers were being encouraged by wool-selling brokers everywhere to sell wool at auction below the cost of its production that was assuredly worth 50 per cent, more than was being paid for it “.

The same sort of propaganda will be used again in order to achieve the same ends. It is important to wool-growers that they should be. represented on the board by men of knowledge. The wool adviser who is to be appointed should be a man in no way affiliated with any of the interests concerned with speculating in wool. He should have the welfare of Australia and off the industry at heart, and should be in a position to advise, not only the board, but also the Commonwealth Government. He should be able to say how far Australia ought to go in processing its own wool, and he should keep himself informed of the exact position regarding wool stocks. The wool-growers did not know what the position was regarding stocks after the last war. They were told that there was a tremendous surplus, and that they should, therefore, accept low prices at auction. They were told that the industry did not want any assistance; that it could stand on its own feet, and the interests which were telling this to the growers made millions out of the disposal of our wool. Now these interests are telling the producers the same thing oncemore. They say that the growers should enjoy a free market, hut what they really want is freedom to manipulate the ma rket.

The representatives of all the chief wool-growing countries are now meeting to work out a scheme for the rational disposal of wool. It is necessary that this conference should arrange for the fixing of a price below which wool shall not be sold. We have been told that a decline of wool prices can cause a financial depression. Of course, it can. As a matter of fact, it is one off the methods used to start a depression. Let us remember that a variation of1d. per lb. in the price for Australia’s wool clip represents a difference of £4,500,000 in its total value. The honorable member for New England said that in 1939 we sold our wool at an average priceof l0d. per lb., which was 2d. per lb. less than the cost of production. Yet the fact is that all countries were buying wool freely, and Germany and Japan, in particular, were in the market for all they could get. There was no over-production at the time, yet prices were below the cost of production. Nevertheless, the representatives of the farmers in this chamber did not complain of a system which made such prices possible.


– I am a farmer myself, and I represent the farmers in this chamber. However, some members of the Australian Country party seem to be the representatives of the brokers rather than of the farmers. It is possible that the Commonwealth Government may have to finance the wool clip if no international arrangement can he reached for feeding surplus wool stocks on to the market in an orderly manner. We do not want high prices one year and prices below the cost of production the year after. Such conditions are inexcusable in the case of a commodity such as wool, the price of which should not vary by more than1d. per lb. according to the condition of the wool.

I do not agree with the suggestion of the honorable member for New England that shippers and brokers should be represented on any authority controlling the disposalof wool. Those interests are making too much out of the wool already. In 1939, when the total return for Australia’s wool clip was less than £40,000,000, no less than £3,000,000 was paid out in freight charges. That brings me to another point - is it necessary that we should ship so much dirt overseas in unprocessed wool? I see no reason why we should not work up a greater proportion of our wool into the. finished article in Australia. At present, we manufacture into woollen textiles only 10 per cent, of the wool we grow. There is no reason why we should not use at least 20 per cent, in that way. We should investigate the possibility of scouring in Australia of a much greater proportion of our wool, and we should carbonize our low-grade burry wool here instead of sending it overseas to ‘be treated. ‘ That is only logical, and it would provide employment in Australia.

In the past the Australian wool industry benefited considerably from the activities of Sir John Higgins, who was given authority to deal with the wool clip to the best advantage of Australia. I realize that that is not a policy which will find, favour with speculators. I am not greatly alarmed at the competition of synthetic fiibres; I believe that there is room for them as well as for wool. I am inclined to agree with Sir Arthur Goldfinch, who had a long experience with wool, that the introduction of new synthetic fiibres tends to increase the demand for wool, because these fibres require a proportion of wool in them in order that they may have economic value. Unlike cereals, the production of wool cannot be increased greatly, but, fortunately for us, Australia possesses a large area of land eminently suitable for the production of wool of the best quality. I believe that buyers from other countries will continue to come to Australia to buy our wool, and that there is no need to allow wool to be sold at prices below the cost of production. Such a policy is not only wrong; it is also unnecessary. There must be stability of prices in the wool industry, as in other industries. Individual woolgrowers should know how to frame their budgets, and the nation also should know what its income from wool is likely to be. To some it may appear easy to arrange for this to be done, but there are powerful interests opposed to any such arrangement. We must beware of those interests ; indeed, we must fight them. For that reason, we must obtain the advice of the most capable men available - men with wide experience, who know the ramifications of the wool industry. I have read in various journals numerous excuses for the low prices of wool. If we had a sound adviser, and acted on his advice, woolgrowers would receive better prices for their product. Australian mills can produce woollen cloth of the highest quality: they, can manufacture tweeds, blankets, rugs and other woollen goods which will find a ready sale in all countries. If we compare. English cloth with Australian cloth, it is not difficult to detect a difference. The English cloth is not made from better wool and is not of better quality, but it has a better finish, due, in my opinion, to the greater technical knowledge and experience of English manufacturers. In order to improve the appearance of Australian cloth, further research is necessary. By manufacturing these woollen goods and selling them, the national income would be greater than from the sale of greasy wool. In establishing manufacturing plants’ we must think in terms of decentralization. In the past, we have not made the best use of this valuable asset, but have been prepared to take whatever buyers chose to offer for our wool. Even when the consumption of wool was 22 per cent, above .production figures, wool was sold in the open market in this country at prices below the cost of production. I pay a tribute .to the scientists of the world, although, unfortunately, they sometimes use their skill and knowledge for purposes of destruction rather than for the world’s progress. As a practical man, I try; to get latest information regarding scientific developments in the solution of various problems affecting this country. Much valuable information has been gained by our scientists concerning such problems as foot-rot and the buffalo fly. They are prepared to tackle whatever job is given to them, often with most beneficial results. I would not stint them for money to carry out their experiments. The advocates of material made from synthetic fibres have a good deal to say about the “ tickle “ in wool and the shrinkage that takes place in woollen garments. Some skins appear to be sensitive to the “ tickle “ in wool, but I always wear wool, and it does not inconvenience me. Scientists have applied themselves- to these problems and are finding solutions for them. There are people who go so far as to say that there is no future for wool, but I do not agree with them.. I ‘believe that we must make better use of our scientists in the interests of the wool industry, and must undertake a vigorous publicity campaign. In the Pastoral Review of the 16th April, 1945, there is an article of great value to the wool industry; it has strengthened my views on the subject. Under the heading “Apparel of the Future; The Outlook for Wool”, the following appears: -

Addressing the eightieth annual meeting of the National Wool Growers Association of America in January, Mr. I”. Eugene Ackerman, director of the American Wool Council, said that as a result of the greatest mass tests in the history of humanity, conducted by the army and the navy, wool fabric textures and clothing designs would in future years combine scientific, functional lines with style. “ Apparel will be prescribed by physicians”, he continued, “ just as diets are prescribed to-day to reduce physical disabilities such as sinus infections, the common cold, arthritis, and rheumatism’. The navy has found that scientifically-designed woollen clothing has reduced sinus infections and it has learned by tragic results that the only seamen who survived after ‘being torpedoed in the winter months in the North Sca were those who wore woollen underwear or were heavily clothed in wool.”

Mr. Ackerman said that experiments by the army and navy, combined with the results of carefully charted mass use, assured that wool garments of every description would be so shrink-resistant that they could be washed in conventional washing machines in hot water. Wool clothing would be water-repellent, woollen materials would be so wrinkle-resistant that the pressing iron would be alm’ost a tradition, and new textures in woollens and worsteds would combine extreme lightness in weight with maximum protection against heat, cold, dampness and high and piercing winds.

American scientists are alert to the value of wool and are discovering new uses for it and I should think that our own scientists are in touch with them as well as pursuing their own investigations. It needs no scientific knowledge to know that the wearer of cotton undergarments is prone to chills from which the wearer of woollens is immune. In really cold climates it is impossible for people to survive unless they wear wool. The woollen-clad Russians in the European winters during this war have fared much better than have the ersatz-clad Germans. I should be wasting time in citing further examples of how essential to health woollen clothing is. Every one is aware of it.

I think that it would be wise to incorporate the improvements suggested by the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon). No major amendments would be necessary to ensure the safeguards that hu desires. It is essential that the Commonwealth Wool Adviser be the right man for the job and I think that his advice should be tendered to the Government direct instead of through the proposed board, just as Sir John Higgins advised the Commonwealth after the last war as to what it should do to dispose of surplus wool stocks. Hardly any subject of greater national importance than the wool industry and allied industries could be debated by this Parliament at any time, but now, when we are being brought face to face with the problem of rehabilitating and re-establishing the men and women of the services when the war ends, its importance is all-transcending. As a part of our plans to absorb in employment our men and women as they leave the services, we must expand the processing of our wool in Australia rather than overseas. That will be evident to honorable members when they realize that the processing of 1 per cent, of our wool clip provides employment for 2,000 people. I also advocate that Australia, in concert with other wool-growing nations, should devise a plan to ensure that wool prices shall not be the prey of market manipulators. A concomitant of the implementing of the Atlantic Charter will be a higher standard of living in every civilized country and there will be a market for our wool regardless of the competition of synthetics. Both natural wool and synthetic fibres will have their place in the world’s markets.


.- It is trite to say that Australia is carried on the back of the sheep, but I think that many who use the expression have no real appreciation of what Australia owes to wool. In the ten years before this war the output of primary industries was worth £2,000,000,000, of which £1,200,000,000 worth was exported, and of that 40 per cent., or nearly £500,000,000, was due to wool. As a contrast, the output of secondary industries in the same period was worth £1,500,000,000 of which only £64,000,000 worth was exported. So one sees the enormous extent to which Australia depends on primary products, particularly wool, for its foreign assets. Only a small range of our products can now be exported. Most of our products are not wanted by other countries. But it is important that we export in order to pay for necessary imports which include petroleum, petroleum products, staples like tea and, to a degree, cotton, and various forms of machinery and machine tools, which at present, particularly because of our lack of experience, we are unable to produce at economic prices or in the required quality. Our future, like that of every other country, will depend on foreign trade. There are political reasons also why we must not only export but also import. Certain countries will not be able to export to us unless they take our exports, and after the war it will be necessary for us to use every means in our power to increase international trade. The Government is fully aware of that necessity. We have millions of acres of land in low rainfall areas which for many years have produced the high-class wools that we send abroad. Should world consumption of wool decline, the consequent reduction of our exports would mean that a very large portion of that land would become economically unproductive. Generally speaking, it is unsuitable for growing wheat because the rainfall is insufficient; and it is not irrigable. At our present stage of scientific knowledge, there seems to be no use to which this land can be put except for the growing of wool. If wool becomes a drug on the market, what will happen to those large areas, and the thousands of men now employed thereon? Therefore, wool is of first class importance to Australia. The economic viewpoint is very clearly expressed in a graph which has been issued by the board which is inquiring into primary and secondary industries. That graph shows the fluctuations of prices in relation to employment in the industry. It is most significant that when wool exports have risen and found a ready market, enabling us to build up credits abroad, prosperous conditions prevailed in this country with unemployment at a minimum. Although we have attempted by various internal measures to reduce the incidence of unemployment, it remains true for all countries that in time of prosperity unemployment practically disappears, whilst in times of economic stress unemployment again raises its head. Despite whatever internal measures we may take to combat the evil, unemployment will always remain a menace to .the ordinary citizen. We cannot completely eradicate unemployment by internal measures. The more we can export, and the greater the amount of money we can thus gain in foreign countries, the better becomes the prospect of every citizen in Australia. What are our chances of increasing the production of wool in Australia? Several speakers have referred to this problem, some suggesting that we can expand our production very considerably, whilst others take a less optimistic view. However, the question of whether we can increase our production of wool is much less important than the problem df finding markets for the wool which we actually produce, and that of expanding those markets to enable us to dispose of increased production in the future. At present, two great difficulties confront the industry with respect to marketing. The first is competition from synthetic materials, including rayon and rayon staple. The figures in this respect are most impressive. The production of rayon staple increased from 53,000,000 lb. in 1934 to 2,024,000,000 lb in 1942. I have no doubt that that increase will continue. How ever, we are concerned not only with the increase of production of. rayons, but also the ‘improvement of their quality. Seme of the rayons now being produced are in many respects equal in quality to the best natural wool grown in this country. However, I believe that many of the claims made for rayon staples are exaggerated. The fact remains that wool itself possesses certain qualities which cannot be equalled in any synthetic product. It would appear, therefore, that the real threat to the future of our wool industry lies in the quantity rather than the quality of rayon production. We, must face this competition with wool, and ensure that wool is placed on the best possible footing to compete with synthetic products on the markets of the world. Wool cannot compete with the synthetic product with respect to price. During the war, the cost of wool tops in Great Britain has increased by 100 per cent,., whereas in the same period the cost of rayon staple has increased by 66 per cent. Originally, the price of rayon staple was about onethird of that of wool, but during the last nine months the increase of the cost of rayon staple in Great Britain has been reduced from 66 per cent, to 30 per cent, over the original- cost. That means that to-day in Great Britain the cost of wool is twice as much as it was at the beginning of the war, whereas the cost of the best quality rayon is only 30 per cent, more than at the beginning of the war. On those figures, the synthetic product enjoys a great advantage over wool in respect of price. Another aspect of the price of wool arises in respect of the price of the finished article in the manufacture of which wool is used. A comparison on this basis shows that labour and overhead costs enter very substantially into the picture so far as woollen goods are concerned. The percentage of cost attributable to greasy wool in material at various stages of manufacture in the United Kingdom is as follows : - Greasy wool 100 per cent., combed top 47 to 50 per cent., yarn 33 to 36 per cent., dyed and finished cloth 19 to 23 per cent., and in the finished product 5 to 25 per cent. The cost of wool in an average suit is 11 per cent, of the total cost. These figures are significant. They show that a moderate increase of the price of raw wool, while making a substantial difference between profit and loss to the grower, involves an insignificant increase of the cost of the finished article to the public. Therefore, when we are looking forward to the future to see what we can do to strengthen the position of wool, we must realize that costs, while being of great importance to the grower, cannot play a. very substantial influence so far as the public is concerned. We cannot reduce the cost of wool to the same level of the ordinary synthetic article. Quality is the main consideration, and, therefore, quality should merit the closest attention on the part of those interested in this problem.

The other difficulty which wool has to face is the problem of accumulated stocks. It is estimated that a total oi 10,500,000 bales are now in store throughout the world, principally in Great Britain, the United States of America and Australia. After the last war accumulated1 stocks totalled 2,691,000 bales, and it took three and a half years to dispose of them. To-day, the position is much worse mainly because world production has increased considerably during the last three years. Since the beginning of the war wool production in British Empire countries alone has increased by 10 per cent, and in Argentina it has increased by no less than 30 per cent. Therefore, unless the consumption of wool throughout the world can be increased, obviously it will take a long time to dispose of accumulated stocks and thus allow a reasonable market for the annual production, free of this overhanging menace. What are the prospects of disposing of this wool? We must view both the short term and long term picture. In regard to the short-term aspect, it seems certain that in the years which immediately follow the war, there will be a large demand for wool throughout the world. There is a demand for woollen goods even in this country, and in other Allied countries which have not been devastated by the war. Much greater of course will be the demand from other countries which today are suffering an enormous shortage of woollen garments due to the war. In many countries no wool has been consumed since the beginning of the war except in the form of shoddy, or in the manufacture of goods from old material. We can take it therefore that in the immediate post-war years there will be a huge demand for wool. What will prevent this demand being met expeditiously will not be a shortage of wool itself, but a shortage of machinery and labour to process it. Many hundreds of factories and plants have been destroyed in Europe, and thousands of operatives have been absorbed into other employment. It will take some years for these works to be restored, staffs built up, and manufacturing resumed. Europe alone takes 40 per cent, of the world’s wool. The conclusion is that despite the demand, wool cannot be brought into consumption to any large degree until processing plants are restored. The long-term view of the situation is somewhat different: There is an excellent, prospect of disposing of accumulated stocks of wool over the years. Comparative figures of wool consumption are rather remarkable. One would imagine that people living in countries with a similar climate would use very much the same quantity of wool but, due to differing national habits, that is not so. However, customs can be changed by propaganda, and by making known the desirable properties of garments made from pure wool as against garments made from synthetic fibres. The consumption of greasy wool per head of the population in Great Britain is 14.6 lb. a year. In France which has a similar climate, it is only 9.4 lb. and in Germany 5.3 lb. In Belgium, where the climate is very similar to that of France and Great Britain, consumption has gone as high as 17 lb., but in Italy, which is warmer, and where the population is poorer, the figure is only 2.4 lb. In the United States of America, a country which has never been very wool conscious, consumption is 4.1 lb. Even in this country, where we have a yearly consumption of 8.8 lb. per head, the demand could be increased considerably by proper methods of publicity, and above all, better and more modern methods of manufacture.

Mr Ward:

– Where did the honorable member obtain the figures which he has quoted ?


– I obtained them from the Commonwealth Year-Booh and I oan vouch for their accuracy. What action does this country propose to take to assist the wool industry? This Government’s proposals are foreshadowed in this measure. Following the passing of legislation in 1936, we started on the road which this bill proposes to follow, but it is to be hoped that in the future progress will be more vigorous. There are two phases of this matter. The first is a scientific investigation of the problems connected with the production of wool, and putting that wool into consumption by various processes of manufacture. That involves reducing the cost of manufacture and improving the quality not only of the wool itself, but also of the garments and materials produced. That matter is in the capable hands of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which, as we all know, has dealt with it in a most competent manner during the last few years. The other phase is the development of the demand for wool, both internally and externally, and above all the creation of new markets in countries which have never used wool to any great degree. I shall deal first with Russia. That country has two conditions which make it eminently suitable as a market for wool and woollen goods. The first is its extremely cold climate in winter. This necessitates the consumption of large quantities of woollen garments. In fact, the Russians not only do not process the wool used in the manufacture of winter clothing, but also they use sheep skins extensively as clothing, on their backs, on their feet, and on their heads. Secondly, Russia is undergoing great industrial expansion which is likely to be even more pronounced after the war. This should mean an improved standard of living, with the result that Russia may be in the position to import much more wool than before. It is not generally known that not many years ago Russia had one of the biggest sheep populations in the world- 145,000,000. However, when the “ new deal “ was introduced and co-operative farms were established, the sheep population was reduced to 45,000,000 in a few years, with the result that Russia’s wool production fell rapidly until it became almost negligible. If the standard of living in Russia is raised and that country is prepared to take our wool, the outlet for the Australian clip should be increased greatly. China has been mentioned as a potential market for Australian wool. Without doubt, if the extremely poverty stricken people of China can be raised to a standard at which they can all afford to buy annually clothing in which there is only a few pounds of wool, the actual quantity consumed will be enormous. But this problem can be solved only over a long period. If China is ever to be in a position to take an appreciable quantity of our wool, it must become more industrialized. This cannot be done in one, ten, or even twenty years. The best method of increasing consumption of wool in ‘China is that which was employed in Great Britain, where wool was taken into the homes of the people and spun into yarn. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) deals adequately with this aspect of the problem. Another potential wool-buyer is India. The Indian climate does not require the use of woollen clothing to any great extent. It is cold only in the northern regions, where admittedly the population may total many millions. Before we can sell wool profitably in India, the problem of poverty must once again be overcome. India is one degree better than Russia in this respect, because during the war it has become considerably industrialized and is becoming more so. There is no reason why India’s industrial development should not proceed rapidly, thus increasing the general standard of living and permitting the importation of more wool. I now refer to the possibility of marketing wool in the United States of America. Nearly everybody knows that the United States of America has imposed a duty of 34 cents a pound on scoured wool. This has caused an increase of the domestic price of wool to about 25 per cent, above world parity, and consequently reduced the tendency of the American people to buy woollen goods. Their average consumption is only 4.1 lb. each annually. Therefore, this tariff has virtually closed the wool market in the United States of America. Attempts have been made for many years to solve this problem, but they ‘have been unsuccessful because, if the tariff were removed, the American sheepowners would be placed in a difficult position. The wool-producing states in that country are politically strong. At first view, it seems that there is no hope of effecting any great reduction, much less complete removal, of the tariff. However, I suggest that the Government, in negotiating with the United States of America, advocate the reduction of the tariff, the opening of the market to all foreign wools and the compensation of home growers by the payment of subsidies. This would effect a reduction of the cost of wool to the American consumer, and at the same time would preserve the interests of the wool-growers. With active competition from rayon staples, there is no doubt that woollen products would be offered at prices which would increase consumption in America. This would benefit not only the wool trade throughout the world, but also the American people. It would be of enormous benefit to every wool-growing country if the American market were open to international competition. I hope that the Government will give serious consideration to my suggestion.

I have mentioned some of the difficulties which confront the wool industry, but there are also factors which give ground for a certain amount of optimism. Between 1920 and 1939 the world production of wool increased by 65 per cent. In Australia production was doubled. In- that period, 85 per cent, of Australia’s wool was exported. The important fact is that,’ in spite of increased production, there was no accumulation of stocks to any degree* in any part of the world. That is contrary to experience in connexion with other staple products such as rubber, tea, wheat and copper. This is a hopeful sign for the wool industry. We should be able to increase consumption in the future. Plant and labour are the chief factors in bringing wool into consumption. It would be impossible to increase the consumption of wool unless it were offered in the finished state. Plant is being extended in Australia, the United States of America, Great Britain, and certain parts of western Europe; if some of tha textile factories in western Europe, particularly in Germany, Belgium and Italy were rebuilt we should, find a greatly increased market for wool at an early date.

This bill is an extension of legislation which was enacted in 1936. That legislation has produced very important results and. has helped the wool industry considerably. The only reason why greater assistance was not given to the industry. was lack of money. Now, at least, ample funds should be available. Therefore, I look upon this bill with interest. Something important will be accomplished by it. However, there are three points which I consider ought to be reviewed and amended. The first relates to the board which has been referred to by other speakers. I do not agree that the board should consist of three representatives of the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council and three of the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation. The original agreement should be observed. I understand that its terms were fixed after both bodies had consulted with the Government. Under it, four seats on the board were given to the Australian Wool-growers’ Council and two seats to the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation. I can see no reason why that arrangement should be altered, and I should like to have a valid explanation by a responsible Minister as to why an alteration has been made.

A matter of perhaps even more importance is dealt with by clause 17. The proposal of the Government is this - . . the Ministers shall determine the proportion of the moneys to be credited to the Fund during that financial year from the proceeds of the wool tax which shall be paid by the Board out of the Fund to the Research Account, and the Board shall, from time to time as directed by the Ministers, make payments accordingly.

Ministers should not be empowered to determine what proportion of the money raised by a tax imposed in agreement with the growers shall be made available to the board to carry on the work with which it has been entrusted, but the whole of it should be at the disposal of the board to use as it considers fit, according to the duties assigned to it. No portion of the funds should be taken by a Minister except, by agreement with the board. Thehonorable member for New England has pointed . out that, according to estimates worked out by the Secondary Industries Commission, ample funds will be available to meet demands in connexion with research; consequently, I can see no reason why any moneys should be diverted from the board at the will of a Minister.

My third point concerns the appointment of the member of the board who is to be known as the Commonwealth Wool Adviser. Obviously, that will be a key position, and the man appointed to it will have vast responsibility placed on him. Members of the Government do not know much about, wool; therefore, they will have, to take the advice of a man who has a wide knowledge of the industry. Surely, the members of the Australian Wool Board should have greater knowledge than anybody else ! Therefore, I ask the Government to consider the amendment of the provision in such a way that the board will have the recommendation of the person to be appointed.

I commend the bill, except for those portions of it to which I have taken exception.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Wilson) adjourned.

page 969


The following papers were pre sented : -

Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1945 -

No. 3 - Hospital Dispensary and Asylum Employees and Allied Government Officers’ Federation of Australia.

No. 4 - Hospital Dispensary and Asylum Employees and Allied Government Officers’ Federation of Australia.

No. 5 - Commonwealth Temporary Clerks’ Association.

No.6 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association and Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Department of Trade and Customs.

No. 7 - Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Department of Trade and Customs.

No.8 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union and others.

No. 9 - Commonwealth Temporary Clerks’ Association.

No. 10 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation ; Amalgamated Engineering Union; Australasian Society of Engineers; Blacksmiths’ Society of Australasia; Electrical

Trades Union of Australia; Federated Engine-drivers’ and Firemen’s Association of Australasia; and Plumbers and Gasfitters Employees’ Union of Australia.

No. 11 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association.

No. 12 - Federated Clerks’ Union of Australia.

Commonwealth Railways Act and Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Railway . purposes - Katherine, Northern Territory-

Customs Act -

Customs Proclamation - No.620.

Regulations - Statutory Rules 1 945, No. 34.

Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, Nos. 38, 42.

Defence Act and Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 43.

Forestry’ Bureau Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 27.

Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes -

Ballarat, Victoria.

Bulimba, Queensland (3).

Cannon Hill, Queensland.

Cloncurry, Queensland.

Collie, Western Australia.

Dubbo, New South Wales.

Elsternwick, Victoria.

Gladstone, South Australia.

Lowood, Queensland.

Mallala, South Australia.

Northgate, Queensland.

Nungarin, Western Australia.

National Security Act -

National Security (Agricultural Aids) Regulations - Orders -

Feeding meals (Restriction of manufacture) (No. ‘2).

Fertilizers and feeding meals (Restriction of sales) (No. 3).

Hay, straw and chaff (Queensland).

Hay, straw and chaff (Tasmania).

National Security (Egg Industry) Regulations - Order - No. 11.

National Security (Food Control) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 18, 19.

National Security (General) Regulations -

Orders -

Control of -

Essential materials (No. 13).

Manufacture of gas producers - Revocation.

Manufacture of glass (No. 3).

Manufacture of shovels - Revocation.

Overseas communications (Otherwise than by post).

Overseas postal communications.

Overseas postal communications (Prisoners of war).

Taking possession of land, &c. (44).

Use of land (4).

Order by State Premier - New South Wales (No. 53).

National Security (Man Power) Regulations - Orders -

Payments to persons directed to accept employment.

Protected undertakings (63).

National Security (Prices) Regulations - Declaration - No. 154.

Orders- Nos. 1900-1971.

National Security (Rationing) Regula tions - Orders - Nos. 76-78.

National Security (Shipping Coordination) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 84-87.

National Security ( Supplementary ) Regulations - Orders by State Premiers -

New South Wales (No. 54).

Western Australia (dated 28th

March, 1945).

National Security (War Damage to Property) Regulations - War Damage Commission - Report for 1944.

Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, Nos. 40, 41, 44, 45.

Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 39.

Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinance - 1945 - No. 2 - Nomenclature (Public Places) .

Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance - 1945 - No. 3 - Motor Traffic.

House adjourned at 11.6 p.m.

page 970


The following answers to questions were circulated: -

Rabbit Destruction.

Petrol Rationing.

page 970


Mr Lazzarini:

– The Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has supplied the following answer : -

The control of supplies of D.D.T. for agricultural purposes when it becomes available will be the responsibility of the Director of Agriculture in the Commonwealth Department of Commerce and Agriculture. The demands of the services for this material are still extremely heavy, and efforts to obtain supplies from overseas for other than experimental or military purposes have been unsuccessful. In fact, the United States of America Government has announced that no D.D.T. will be available in the United States of America for agricultural purposes during 1945. Endeavours are being made to increase the production of D.D.T. in Australia, and it is expected that if military requirements do not increase, some D.D.T. may be available for agricultural purposes by September, 1945.

Experimental work on the application of D.D.T. to the control of the buffalo fly is continuing, but it has not yet reached the stage when a, definite recommendation can be made as to the method of using the material safely. It is hoped that a definite recommendation on this point may be able to be made by the time that supplies of D.D.T. become available. censorship.

Mr Dedman:

– -The Acting Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : -

  1. Yes.
  2. No. Acting on the advice of military authorities, the Publicity Censor indicated to the newspaper that for security reasons certain deletions would have to be made, but that other portions of the article could be published. In view of this, and at the brigadier’s request, the newspaper voluntarily withdrew the whole -article from the censor. 3. (a.) No. (b) See answer to No. 2.
  3. No. It is not customary nor desirable to publish through Parliament information which has been censored by authorities appointed for the purpose.

Wolseley to Mount Gambier Railway Gauge

Mr Archie Cameron:
Postmaster-General · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

n asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -

  1. What investigations were made by the responsible authority before condemning the proposal of the South Australian Government to broaden the Wolseley-Mount Gambier railway gauge?
  2. Will the Government agree to the proposal being investigated by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works?
Mr Lazzarini:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. The railway from Wolseley to Mount Gambler is entirely within South Australia and, therefore, is a matter for the South Australian Government, which, it is understood, passed legislation last session for the widening of the gauge from 3 ft. 6 in. to 5 ft. 3 in.
  2. See No. 1 above.

Royal Australian Air Force : Air Efficiency Award

Mr White:

e asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -

  1. Does the Government propose to ask the

United Kingdom authorities to apply the Air Efficiency Award to theRoyal Australian Air Force?

  1. If not, why not?
  2. Is it a fact that many members of the Citizen Air Force, who served before the war, would qualify?
Mr Drakeford:

– The whole question is at . present receiving consideration, and it is hoped that thematter will be finalized early, when an appropriate’ announcement will be made.

Australian Army Occupation of Buildings

Mr Francis:

s asked the Minister representing, the Acting Minister for the Army, upon notice -

  1. How many buildings other than houses or flats are occupied by the military authorities in each of the State capitals?.
  2. How many persons are at present accommodated in such buildings in each, of the State capitals?
Mr Lazzarini:

– The Acting Minister for the Army has supplied the following answer : - 1 and 2. The information desired by the honorable member is as follows: -

The list includes buildings on racecourses, show grounds, sports grounds, also garages and stores, a number of which could not be used by their owners during the war.

The number of personnel accommodated fluctuates owing to the’ constant movement of troops through some of the large buildings which are used in connexion with camps. Consequently, column 3 of this statement is an approximation only.


Mr White:

e asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

  1. To improve the status and treatment of aborigines in Federal Territory, will he .place the representations of the Aborigines Uplift Council before Cabinet, so that conditions may approximate more nearly to those accorded to the native races of the United States of America and New Zealand?
  2. To assist in the attainment of better and more uniform treatment for aborigines, will he endeavour to have the subject of the control of aborigines placed on the agenda for discussion at the next Premiers Conference?
Mr Lazzarini:

– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers : -

  1. Numerous representations in regard to aborigines have been made from time to time by the Aborigines Uplift Society and other organizations. Some of’ these have been in relation to aborigines in the Northern Territory, but the majority of them have been in regard to aborigines generally in Australia. If the honorable member will indicate the specific representations to which he refers, they will receive consideration.
  2. The question of the transfer of the control of aborigines in Australia from the States to the Commonwealth was submitted to the people of Australia in the last referendum, but was rejected. In the circumstances no good purpose would be served by placing the matter on the agenda for the next Premiers Conference.


Mr Beasley:

y. - On the 21st March, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) asked whether the Chinese Government had included in its list of requirements submitted to Unrra a request for Australian wool.

In reply I inform the honorable member that no request for the supply of Australian wool was submitted by China to Unrra. The Chinese Government expressed the view that from the standpoint of relief supplies of clothing, cotton material alone would be required, and the estimates prepared by the Chinese Government are solely concerned with import requirements of cotton cloth, raw cotton, spindles, thread, needles and sewing machines. It is understood that facilities for the large-scale manufacture of raw wool into woollen cloth do not exist in China at the present time. I mention, however, that Unrra recently requested from Australia a large supply of blankets for relief purposes and consideration is being given to the possibility of meeting this request.

Shortage of Nurses.

Mr Dedman:

n. - On the 14th March, 1945, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked whether, in view of the improved war situation, consideration would be given to releasing nursing sisters from the services to meet the acute civilian shortage.

The military authorities have reported that, owing to the high rate of release of nurses from the Army on medical, mar- riage and compassionate grounds, a serious shortage now exists in army hospitals and the position is becoming extremely grave. The Government has received a number of complaints regarding the shortage of nurses in- civilian institutions, and the whole position is now the subject of review by a special committee comprising service medical authorities and qualified civilian personnel.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 April 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.