17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
. -by leave - I wish to inform the House of certain recommendations of the’ Advisory War
Council which have been approved by the Government. As I stated on the 1st June, the end of the European war definitely resolved a factor in our calculations relating to the dimensions of the Australian war effort, as it enabled the United Nations to concentrate their strength in the Pacific to defeat Japan as quickly as possible. In the light of this and the developments in the Pacific, the Advisory War Council was able to recommend the special release of at least 64,000 men from the Army and Air Force. In doing so, it was also essential to consider the future strength and role of the Australian forces in the war in the Pacific and their operational control.
In regard to the strength of. the forces which should constitute the Australian war effort for the remainder of the war, the Government and the Council consider it to be a matter of vital importance to the future of Australia and its status at the peace table in regard to the settlement in the Pacific, that its military effort against Japan should be maintained on a scale which, with the Commonwealth’s earlier record in the war, would guarantee Australia an effective voice in the peace settlement.
The tentative objectives of strengths of the forces which, in the opinion of the Advisory War Council and the Government should constitute the military part of the Australian war effort for the remainder of the war, are as follows: -
It is the aim of these objectives of strength to maintain, in the future organization and strength of the forces, a relation between a balanced war effort and a balanced post-war defence policy. It is the view of the Government and the Advisory War Council that a war effort on these dimensions will be worthy of the Commonwealth and will secure our status in the Pacific settlement.
The reduction of the Army and the Air Force to the strengths mentioned will entail the release of a considerably greater number than the 64,000 now authorized. Plans to effect these further reductions and the absorption of discharged members in the civil economy willbe based on the realization of the reduced strength as soon as (a) the operational plans will permit; (b) the reorganization of the forces can be carried out; and (c) the orderly re-settlement of discharged members can be planned and arranged.
In the view of the Government and’ the Advisory War Council, it is vital to Australia’s future interests, as a Pacific nation, that its air forces should participate in the main offensive against J apan. Ithas accordingly been proposed that Australia’s contribution to the main offensive should be the Royal Australian Naval squadron under its own commander, and expeditionary force components of the land and air forces which would operate under Australian commanders in a similar manner to that of the Australian Imperial Force in the Middle East. It has also been proposed that three Royal Australian Air Force squadrons from overseas should be provided as a contribution to the very long- range Royal Air Force task force in the Pacific, in addition to two fighter squadrons overseas for participation in the forces of occupation in Europe.
It has further been proposed that a token force should be associated, if possible, with British forces in the operations for the recapture of Singapore, to avenge the defeat of 1942 and to contribute to the liberation of our prisoners of war. The role of the remainder of the forces will be to continue the present operations in Borneo, New Guinea, New Britain and the Solomon Islands, until the objectives laid down have been achieved.
When the South-West Pacific Area was established, a directive was issued to General MacArthur in April, 1942, with the approval of the governments concerned. A few weeks ago, General MacArthur announced that the entire Philippine Islands had (been liberated and that the Philippine campaigns were practically closed. The landings by Australian troops in Borneo in May, June and July, in the words of General MacArthur, “virtually completed tactical control of the entire South-West Pacific “.
In April, 1945, the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff announced a modification of the command organization for the war against Japan, the object of which was, to quote from their statement, to give “ full effect to the application of our forces against the Japanese, including large forces to be re-deployed from Europe, talking into account the changed conditions resulting from the progress both in the South-West Pacific and the Pacific Ocean areas. The rapid advance in both areas has brought us in close proximity to the Japanese homeland and the China coast, and the corresponding changes in the character of the operations to be conducted, are considerations which dictated the new directive”.
General MacArthur was given command of all United States Army forces and resources in the Pacific, and Admiral Nimitz of all naval forces. As announced by Mr. Curtin at the time, this change did not affect the command and organization of the South-West Pacific Area, which remained under General
MacArthur. The views of the Government and the Advisory WarCouncil are that, if any change is made in the boundaries of the present command set-up in the South-West Pacific Area, operational control of the Australian forces on the mainland of theCommonwealth and in Papua and Australian mandated areas should revert to the Australian service authorities, who would also control any Allied forces that might be assigned to these areas.
When the set-up for the South-West Pacific Area and the directive of the Commander-in-Chief were approvedby the Governments of the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands, the Government sought a voice in the policy relating to the use of the Australian forces through : (a) the accredited representative to the United Kingdom War Cabinet; (b) the Pacific Councils in London and Washington; and (c) the lint between the Australian Government and the CommanderinChief, South-West Pacific Area.
The Government and the Advisory War Council are of the opinion that any arrangements for a change in the command set-up relating to the control of the Australian forces should continue to provide for the Commonwealth having an effective voice in the policy governing the use of our forces, and that the following principles embodied in General MacArthur’s directive should he maintained : -
Finally, in regard to any set-up to which it is a party, the Government has reserved the right to determine the nature and extent of the Australian war effort and the allocation of man-power and material resources for such purposes, including the extent of the commitments which canbe undertaken. The limitations of our man-power capacity and material resources have already been emphasized to the United Kingdom and United States Governments.
The conclusions of the Advisory War Council and the Government on these matters were communicated to the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) when he was in San Francisco. Mr. Forde made a special visit to Washington to place the Government’s proposals personally before the President of the United States, the United States Chiefs of Staff, and the representatives of the British Chiefs of Staff. Mr. Bruce is also having consultations on these lines in London with the United Kingdom Government and the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff. The proposals have also been communicated to General MacArthur, who has stated that he is in agreement with them. The Government’s service advisers have also been consulted on the military aspects, the political aspects being matters for the Government, which has acted in the fullest consultation with the Advisory War Council.
These proposals are now being considered by the combined Chiefs of Staff, but the Government has been informed that finality will not be reached for some time. In view of the fact that the Commonwealth’s views were formulated some time ago, it is considered to be in the public interest that an announcement of them should he no longer deferred. A further statement will be made by me when finality is reached.
– In view of the annihilation of the Liberal and ‘Conservative parties at the British elections, will the Minister for Information, before further punishment is inflicted upon the Liberal party of Australia, advise the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw his candidate in the Fremantle by-election - thereby following the advice of his predecessors by tuning in to Britain - or at least to try another alias for his party?
– The answer to the honorable member’s very important question is “ Yes “.
Debate resumed from the 26th July (vide page 4651), on motion by Mr. Johnson -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill, which provides for the voting by servicemen in by-elections, was introduced by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) last night, and I asked for a brief opportunity to peruse it. My request was granted, and having examined the bill, I express the view that the whole House will heartily support it. I do not desire to occupy any time unnecessarily, because this bill is a matter of urgency, and the sooner it comes into operation, the better. Honorable members desire that all servicemen who are entitled to vote in anybyelection - and I include in that statement the Fremantle by-election - should be given every facility to do so. No citizens of Australia have a better right to express their view on the government of the country than have those who are fighting for it.
In the course of his second-reading speech, the Minister indicated, very properly, that there were practical considerations attending the taking of servicemen’s votes, and I can very well understand it, because the men and women on service are scattered over a very wide area. But in this matter, the House will, I think, have great faith in the Commonwealth Electoral Office. For many years, I have been a great admirer of the skill and efficiency with which this country is served through its electoral administration, and we can have little doubt that any of these practical difficulties will be attacked most vigorously by that organization. It may very well happen that some people who are entitled to vote will not, in fact, be able to do so. That will depend entirely upon the extent to which these practical considerations canbe overcome. Speaking for the Opposition, I have no doubt that, to the extent to which human endeavours can overcome them, every serviceman entitled to vote will be given an opportunity to do so.
Therefore, whilst I am well aware of the practical considerations and difficulties that arise, I give my whole-hearted support to this hill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill -by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 25th July (vide page 4562), on motion by Mr. Drakeford -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill is of great importance to Australia, not only because of the subject-matter with which it deals, but also because of a preliminary matter to which I desire to direct attention. My speech will fall into two parts. First I shall examine what warrant, if any there is in this Parliament to enact this legislation. Then, regardless of the answer to that question, although it must be answered in only one way,I shall consider what merits there are in the legislation which can justify the Parliament passing it. If I were satisfied that there was a warrant for this bill, and that the interests of the country demanded its enactment, I should have no hesitation in supporting it. All of the talk about defence of big business interests has no application to any matter raised in this House. The only question is whether the interests of the nation are being served. After the Minister for Air had expressed his views in support of the bill they were torn to shreds by the Leader of the Opposition. Then the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction came to the aid of his colleague, and sought to prove that the Government had a warrant to introduce it. In determining whether the Parliament has any warrant to enact this legislation, we must consider the basic principles of democracy. As I understand them, the most important function of a democracy is government by the people. When we are elected we have no warrant to govern the country irrespective of the views of the people or of the political platforms upon which we were elected.
Government by the people does not mean that, every three years, the people elect a government to rule at will. We are the representatives of the people, not the- rulers of the people, and our authority is derived solely from the people. That authority is obtained by the members of the Government and their followers securing the support of the people for a particular political platform. That cannot be controverted. Therefore, there can be no doubt that the Government has no authority for introducing this bill, and that, in doing so, it is showing a flagrant disregard of democratic processes: I shall now examine what has ‘been said by members of the Government and its supporters in relation to the problems of civil aviation. In June, 1942, with an election looming in the following year, the late Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), whose honesty of purpose nobody would question and who adhered to his promises while in office, said -
This Government came into office during a time of great national emergency. It has not abandoned its social programme and it does not regard the postponement of that programme until after the war as an illogical procedure.
He promised definitely that the Labour party’s programme of social reform would be postponed until after the war because of the paramount necessities of the war. Nearly a year later, in April, 1943, he said1 -
We have not socialized Australia and we do not intend to do so just because we are at war.
This was what he described as a clear and unqualified declaration, of Government policy. At a press conference in Melbourne, in May of the same year, just prior to the last general elections, he said -
I will no more apply socialization for the sake of applying it than be deterred by vested interests of capital from making such changes’ as the war economy requires.
He was asked whether Cabinet had yet considered its policy for the forthcoming election campaign. At that time the then Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) had made certain statements regarding socialization. Mr. Curtin said that Cabinet had not considered its policy for the elections. He was then asked the very important question as to whether the Government, if returned to power, would consider itself to be bound for the ensuing three years by the programme which would be defined in the policy speech, and iris answer was “ Yes “. We are considering whether our democratic institutions should be thrown into the discard, and whether we .should use Parliament only as a mere facade for what is in substance a totalitarian approach to the problems of government. The authority of this Parliament comes only from the people. A Prime Minister indicates the policy by which his government undertakes to be bound, and in the statement which I have quoted the late Prime Minister was merely saying what every democracy recognizes as an accepted principle. His assurance, in effect, was, “ There is our policy and, except insofar as exigencies may demand, it and nothing else shall be carried out “. Parliament has no greater authority than that given to it by the people. In August, 1943, in Perth, after the statement was made that he would be bound for the following three years his party’s policy was announced by him. That policy contained none of these socialistic proposals. On the contrary, a denial was given that such proposals would be introduced. These were his words -
They talk about socialization. I have this to say, the Commonwealth Parliament has no power to socialize any industry. I say further that my Government has not socialized any industry. I say further that my Government will not during the war socialize any industry.
Could there be anything more clear and unequivocal than that, and could there be a body of men more solemnly bound by a specific promise given to the people than the present Government? Put what is the value of promises and undertakings solemnly entered into? What is the significance of democratic processes to this Government? Merely because it has outmoded ideologies, and regards socialism as a panacea for all economic and human ills, under pressure from the militant section of the Labour movement it has disregarded specific undertakings given to the people, and has in effect disregarded a fundamental’ principle of any form of democratic government. Will anybody forget the solemn undertakings given on behalf of the Government by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). Thousands of votes were swung over to Labour, because he, too, said specifically, “ There will be no socialization”. Were those words uttered on behalf of a Government composed of men having a sense of honour and responsibility, or were they merely the words of shares salesmen who will say anything to accomplish their purpose?
– Now they say that there will be “ nationalization “.
– Yes. If they have any claim to be supporters of democratic principles, they must admit that they are bound by their undertakings. In the course of the referendum campaign, the specific promise was given that the powers sought for a period of five years would not be used to give effect to a policy of socialization. That is clear, as will be seen by reference to the brochure issued by the Minister for External Affairs regarding the proposed alterations of the Constitution to enable additional powers to be conferred upon this Parliament. When the Minister dealt with civil aviation, he uttered not one word suggesting that, if the proposed increased powers were granted, they would be used for any purpose other than the co-ordination of control of the existing air lines, which were to be carried on under private enterprise. Are we being reduced to the status of a people who will indulge in any manoeuvre to secure political power, or do we still realize that men who are returned to Parliament have the solemn obligation of carrying out undertakings given by them to the people ?
The most extraordinary mental gymnastics ever witnessed in this House have been indulged in by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman). He said that the introduction of this bill was not a breach of the promise made by the late Prime Minister. He knew that that promise had to be observed, so he sought a means of escape and said that nationalization is not socialization. When I asked him to define those words - a pertinent inquiry - I was met with a round of abuse. Then I asked the Minister whether, if we nationalized all industries, that would- not amount to socialization, and his answer was “No’’. That was an ignorant, a stupid, or a politically dishonest statement. Ignorant I cannot believe it to have been; stupid it might have been ; and dishonest it could have been. The Minister can choose which of the three he thinks fit. Yet as a senior Minister he spoke on behalf of the Government. There is no doubt that it was a clear case of impudent casuistry to assure the people that the Government’s promise had not been flagrantly disregarded. The people who give attention to this matter will have no doubt whatever as to what the approach was. It had no ring of decent honest political thought. The Minister, who is accustomed to address members of the House in a professorial tone, apparently thought they did not know the meaning of “nationalization”. On reference to the Oxford Dictionary, I find that “ socialisation “ is described as the government ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, whilst “ nationalization “ is defined as a form of socialism, just as syndicalism, bolshevism, menshevism, and collectivism are forms of socialism. The particular kind of nationalization which is provided for under this measure is the form of socialization which the Labour party has always espoused - government ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. To say that nationalization does not mean socialization would be dishonest, and I do not ascribe dishonesty to the late Prime Minister. Some years ago, we heard about the tearing up of “ a scrap of paper “, and we criticized other governments for ignoring international agreements; but apparently the present Government thinks nothing of tearing up a domestic “ scrap of paper “. Not only is there no mandate for this legislation, but on the contrary, it is in direct conflict with the mandate given.
I turn now to the so-called merits of the bill. If, upon examination, it can be shown that this proposal will benefit the people, the obligation is to support it. I consider, first, the preamble, which sets out the purpose for which the legislation is being enacted. An examination discloses that there is only one real purpose.
The idea of the Government that socialization of anything must be for the benefit of the people, is outmoded. It has become almost fashionable to speak about the great prowess of Russia, as though its economic system were better than that of any other country. The two countries which largely helped Russia to make the magnificent resistance that it made in the war in Europe, were the so-called capitalistic countries - whatever that term may mean - and probably the country which, because of its tremendous industrial organization and development, was able more than any other to contribute to the defeat of Germany, was that in which capitalism, in the sense usually employed by the Government, is supreme. Socialization, or government ownership, is not the best means of raising the standard of living of the people. In America, where private enterprise is given greater support than in any other country, the standard of living of the people is in- finitely higher than it is in this country, and, as any one who has travelled through it - as I have done more than once - knows, infinitely higher than that in Russia. The greater the incentive to men to drive forward, the greater are the benefits conferred on the average member of the public. The bill cannot be shown to have one merit. The only argument that can be used in its favour is based on the ideological concept that socialization is the path to progress. For twenty-five years, Russia has been under the one kind of Government, which has had complete authority to carry out its programme undeterred by any opposition, yet the standard of living of its people is much less than that of Australians and infinitely less than that of Americans. If one man has been more responsible than another for raising the standard of living in America, it is Henry Ford, the biggest (private industrialist in that country. Therefore, from the ideological standpoint, the bill cannot be commended. On the contrary, the nationalization of the industry will reduce the benefits which the people derive from it. The Minister said: “Let us determine the matter dispassionately, and by reasoned argument “. The two propositions that he submitted were, first, is it in the interests of the people as a whole ; and secondly, is national ownership and control of civil aviation, ‘preferable to a private monopoly? I shall seek to prove that there is not an argument in favour of either proposition. Take the first - is it in the interests of the people as a whole? At present, the Commonwealth Government controls stopping places, schedules, the conditions under which the airlines must operate, fares, profits, and every aspect of operations. “What additional benefits will Government operation, instead of management by private enterprise, confer on the people? Is it a sin to make private enterprise a success? Should the Government immediately clamp down on any successful private business? The people cannot expect to receive any benefit in respect of fares, schedules, or regularity of services, which cannot be given to them under the existing controls. It is not suggested that government operation of interstate airlines would he more efficient. Indeed, the Minister has been at pains to prove how efficiently these services have been managed. I have travelled a good deal by air, probably more than most honorable members, here and in other parts of the world. It cannot he claimed that a government can operate interstate airlines more efficiently than, for example, private industry has been conducting air services in America. All the controls mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) can now be exercised. What additional benefit is proposed? I should like to hear what it is. I do not believe that the Minister will be able to mention one. All that he can argue is that interstate airlines will he owned by the people. The Government already is exploiting the public by the extraction of airmail charges in excess of what should be imposed. When it assumes ownership of interstate airlines, the public will be exploited still further, because no conceivable means for bringing more money to the exchequer will be neglected. From the stand-point of service to the public, the question of whether this action is necessary must be answered in the negative. It cannot be said that the late President Roosevelt served the big business, interests of America. Probably no President was more reviled by those interests than he was. Labour interests recognized that his sole objective was to improve the lot of the common man. On one occasion, the Government of the United States of America took over certain civil airlines for the carriage of passengers and mail freight. Disasters occurred, and Congress, which had overwhelmingly approved of what had been done, quickly reversed its decision, because the President desired that the airlines should b* restored to private enterprise. Control can be exercised over private enterprise in the interests of the people, while retaining the magic driving force of private endeavour. Last year, President Roosevelt said -
I do not want to put the Government in commercial passenger and freight services after the war. I believe that all air routes should be operated by private concerns where profitable, and that government operations should be reserved for a few lines operated at a loss, purely for communication with new and distant territories.
I put that forward as a very sound statement of policy which could be well applied in Australia. Has the Government any sense of the magnitude of the task ahead of us in the development of aviation? Does it not realize that the best way to make progress is through a partnership between private enterprise and government control? Does it not realize that the best thing the Government can do is to concentrate upon the provision of aerodromes, emergency landing grounds, satellite aerodromes, navigation aids, beacon lights, &c. ? I have flown over parts of the United States at night, and every quarter of an hour one passes over revolving beacons, and automatic signalling devices which flash messages giving pilots their position, while emergency landing grounds occur at frequent intervals on all routes. In this respect we ,are as backward’ as any tenth-rate power not, perhaps, because of a lack of purpose on the part of governments, but because of our vast areas and small population. For instance there are few emergency landing grounds even between Sydney and Melbourne, as compared with the number on any main route in the United States of America. While all this developmental work remains to be done, the Government is proposing to take over the actual running of the airlines. Let it leave the airlines to those who can run them efficiently, and devote its attention to such subjects as irrigation schemes, afforestation and the installation of hydro-electric schemes. We are a long) way from being a modern nation in many respects, but if we are to develop quickly, the Government should devote its energies to those things which only it can do. There is ample scope for both governmental activity and private enterprise. If private enterprise abuses its privileges, or fails to serve the public, then the Government should take action, but if private enterprise is doing the job efficiently why deprive it of its right to serve the public? Australian National Airways and the Ansett organizations have a very fine record of war service. The Minister went out of his way to declare that the aviation industry had rendered good- service to the country at the outbreak of war. It certainly did. The aviation companies pulled their planes off passenger routes and used them for transporting troops, as well as for reconnaissance far out to sea. Their reward! for all this is to have their industry nationalized, not because they did not serve the people, but because it constitutes a monopoly, and the Government does not like monopolies. I am tired of hearing what the Government can do and what private enterprise cannot do. I am tired of hearing how the Government won the war. This war is being won by the men and women of the country, led by free men, and equipped - under governmental direction, it is true - by private enterprise, with its brains and organizing energy. This applies right from the top to the bottom. Men like Mr. Essington Lewis were abused by the Labour party, and told that they were using their positions under the Government to further their own interests. I remember one occasion in Melbourne when Mr. Essington Lewis and his directorate were “ stood up “ by some of the present senior members of the Government, and virtually told that they were betraying their trust. Where are Mr. Essington Lewis and the members of his directorate now? They are still in their jobs serving the nation. The important thing’ is, not some particular ideology, but how best we can serve the people.
We have been told that, because governments run the railways, we should also have government control of aviation. That is about the most stupid argument that I have ever heard. The railways were established at a time when private enterprise could not do the work. It had to be done by government in this country, although in Canada the Canadian Pacific Railways, a private organization, did much of the pioneering work. Every project must be examined in the light of the factors which exist at the time. In any case, let no one tell me that we have in Australia railway services of which we can be proud. Those who delude themselves in this way should navel abroad. Except for a few special trains, we are a long way behind modern railway methods. Railways run by private enterprise in other countries give a magnificent service to the people, because they depend on the patronage of the people for their profits. In many parts of New South Wales and Queensland there are railway services which are very much below first class.
– Do not our vast distances and small population make any d iffference ?
– Of course they do, but let it not be forgotten that other countries also have vast areas which are sparsely populated. In Texas, for instance, there are spaces just as wide as here, but the railway services run by private enterprise are infinitely better than ours. As I (have said, if the Government wishes to do something to assist aviation, let it devote its attention to the provision of modern aerodromes. Of all the main terminal aerodromes I have ever seen, Mascot is the worst. Let the Government provide .proper facilities, and charge the aviation companies for the use of them. Let it control aviation in the public interest, which is the only interest we are here to serve.
The argument in favour of the Government’s proposal are set out in the preamble to the hill, the first being -
Whereas, in order to ensure, amongst other things, that - trade and commerce with other countries and among the States are fostered and encouraged to the greatest possible extent.
Tn what way will the taking over of interstate airlines foster trade and commerce more than is being done at present? No argument has been advanced to support this idea other than the say-so of the Government. The second argument is as follows : -
The maintenance and development of the Defence Force of the Commonwealth in relation to the defence of Australia by air and the establishment of plant and equipment necessary for that force are assured-
That was effectively dealt with by the Leader of the Opposition. Honorable members opposite might as well argue that the Government should take charge of all transport for the purpose of enabling Australia always to be prepared for war. They will not get very far with that contention in any court of law.
– Has the Government obtained legal advice on this matter ?
-I have very good reason for believing that it has, because at the Bar, these things cannot be kept quiet any more than discussions by Cabinet can be kept secret. The third paragraph of the preamble reads - the development of the Territories is promoted with the utmost expedition.
In what way are these powers necessary for that objective? The last paragraph reads - the carriage of mail by air within Australia is promoted to meet the needs of the people of Australia.
What has happened is that the “ bright boys” have been asked to examine the Constitution, with a view to finding every possible peg upon which the Government may hang arguments in order to justify this legislation. Upon examination, the bill cannot stand upon the reasons contained in the preamble. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) made it plain that the Government proposes to establish and operate national airline services because the conduct of privately controlled airlines in Australia is a monopoly. That attitude is stupid.
– The Minister said that if a monopoly were efficient the Government would take it over.
– I shall assume that the control of airlines in Australia at present is a monopoly. But is a monopoly bad, simply because it is a monopoly? The oldest form of monopoly is the monopoly of a man to exercise a patent.
Yet many things which may be a monopoly one day are not monopolies a few years later, because some one else has come into the business. In this legislation, the Government is seeking to substitute for -one particular airline a governmentcontrolled airline, and prevent all competition. The arguments that the Government has adduced in support of this bill are identical to those raised by Pan-American Airways when it endeavoured to prevent Export Lines Incorporated from competing with it over the trans-Atlantic route. Pan-American Airways had the monopoly of the route, and Export Lines Incorporated desired also to provide a trans-Atlantic service. When the case was heard by the appropriate governmental authority in the United States of America, Pan-American Airways claimed that no more planes were required on that route, and that it could operate the service at the lowest possible cost. For those reasons, it sought to exclude Export Lines Incorporated from that service. But the American authorities “ wiped “ that argument completely, stating that competition was of the essence of the matter. This competition, when created, proved’ to be greatly to the benefit of those who use the trans-Atlantic route now. They have the choice of one of two services, and soon they may have even a wider choice.
The Commonwealth Government declares that air services in Australia are controlled by a monopoly. If it be a monopoly, this Government deliberately created it. It was the technique of another country, when it desired to reach a certain objective, to put up a political Aunt Sally for the purpose of knocking it down. The Reichstag fire was one example of , that technique. Another country also employed that technique, but, for diplomatic reasons, I shall not identify it. The technique of the Commonwealth Government was to allow a monopoly to be established in Australia, and then, simply because it was a monopoly, to condemn it as an evil thing. In 194:1, Australian internal operators had the following number of aircraft: - Australian National Airways Limited 7, Ansett Airways 2, MacRobertson-Miller Aviation Company 2, and Guinea Air- ways 2. I have excluded Qantas, because its services are mainly external. When this Government obtained aircraft under the lend-lease agreement, it distributed them to the operators of the private airlines, with the result that Australian National Airways Limited now has 22 planes, Ansett Airways 2, MacRobertsonMiller Aviation Company 2, and Guinea Airways 6. Last year, a proposal waa made for the amalgamation of Australian National Airways Limited and Guinea Airways, and the Government approved it. Why? Because the Government had then made up its mind to control national airline services in Australia, and knew that, for political reasons, it would be easier to assume control if Australian National Airways Limited had a virtual monopoly of the services. However, the shareholders of Guinea Airways rejected the proposal.
The mere statement that something is a monopoly proves nothing. Many monopolies, large and small, are in operation in the country, and if the Government proposes to take over an enterprise simply because it is a monopoly, regardless of the service that it has rendered- to the public and how the change will affect the people, it should announce its policy, and the public would them know where it stood, Particularly in war-time, many substantial monopolies .have rendered great- service to Australia. The Labour party used to lambast Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited as being an evil monopoly; yet the Government has been compelled to recognize it. Had it not been for the genius of private enterprise, the position of Australia in this war would have been hopeless. In the last resort, private enterprise in the United States of America turned the scales against the hordes that opposed the Allies. If honorable members will read Report Upon Russia, by White, they will learn the extent to which the industrial resources of the Allies enabled Russia to continue the war against Germany. Frequently we hear that Russia fought the war with tits own. resources, but nothing is farther from the truth. Russia depended largely upon the industrial resources of Great Britain and the- United States of America - nations which depend for their greatness upon private enterprise. The tremendous task which lies ahead of Australia will require a rational approach. Let us abandon all questions of ideology and preconceived economic and’, sociological ideas, with a view to seeing how we may best serve Australia. If we do that, we shall find that there can be a partnership between the Government and private enterprise which will serve the people to advantage. The Government can always prevent private enterprise from exploiting the people. Our proper function must be to serve the people, and see that the instruments of wealth in the country also serve them. Honorable members on this side of the chamber have not adopted a merely oppositionist attitude. We have advanced a constructive programme which, if adopted, will serve the country well.
Clause 56 appears to me to have been ineptly drawn, but I am inclined to think that it is designed to prevent the aviation companies from obtaining from the ‘Commonwealth any compensation for goodwill. Their assets, consist of aircraft, certain aerodromes, plant and machinery. The Commonwealth appears to be endeavouring to avoid compensating them for- goodwill, although every court of compensation takes into account the value of the business to the companies concerned. That value must have regard to the profits that they make, and the profits that they expect to make. Clause 56 provides -
In determining the compensation (if any) payable under this Fart in respect of loss or damage suffered by reason of the application of section fortY-six of this Act to any airline licence, the Minister, the .Compensation Board or the High Court shall not have regard to any matter arising, or which might have arisen, out of anything done or expected to be done in or in relation to any period after the date on which, but for the application of that section to the licence, it would (if not renewed) have expired by effluxion of time.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The Prime Minister has intimated that no more extensions of time will be granted.
.- I give my whole-hearted support to the bill, which provides for the establishment and operation of national airline services by the Commonwealth. The two Opposition speakers condemned the bill, but they failed to deal with the fundamental purposes of the organization that is proposed to be established, its effect in a developing economy, its powers and functions, and its obligations in the future. Like the Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) placed great stress upon the claim that during the last election campaign, the Government promised that it would not socialize anything during the war, or, presumably, during the lifetime of this Parliament. Two factors must be kept in mind when considering what a government should do or refrain from doing. The first, of course, is the policy enunciated by the Leader of the Government to the people. He submits a platform which he proposes the Parliament will carry through if he is elected as Leader of the Government party. Many things cannot be covered in a policy speech, so that, if a government does anything not specifically covered by its announced policy, it must accept the responsibility for such action when it next faces the people. As a supporter of this Government, I am confidently willing to accept the verdict of the people when next we appeal to them. If the people object to this measure or to anything else which the Government has done or has failed to do in the stress of war, I shall gladly leave my fate in their hands. Even if it could be claimed rightly that the Government has no mandate from the people to introduce this bill, we confidently leave judgment of our actions to the people. Posterity will give credit to this Government for the work it has done and for the development which will result from the implementation of this measure. The Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Warringah quoted a number of statements made by the late Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin). I could quote many more in support of the Government’s actions. On the hustings at the last elections, the late Prime Minister said -
In my approach to Australia’s problems, 1 feel myself not committed to the communism of Karl Marx, the archpriest of communism, nor to the policies and beliefs of the archpriest of capitalism, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender).
We have7 been told by this honorable gentleman and by the Leader of the Opposition to throw aside our ideologies. But they are far more fanatical in their adherence to ideologies’, far more committed to resist any assault on the bastion of private enterprise, than is any body of honorable members on this side of the House in sponsorship, of their policies. If the honorable gentleman wants us to throw aside our ideologies, I invite him also to abandon his fanatical belief that private enterprise holds the absolute cure for the evils that beset the country and can guarantee the balanced use of national resources. The fallacy of that belief has been disproved time after time throughout history. The late Prime Minister also said -
T will not use the war for the purpose of implementing Labour’s policy, but I will not b« deterred from putting into effect the policy of Labour if I believe that it will help in the prosecution of the war or the promotion of the national interest.
That statement expresses what the Government is doing. This bill is for the promotion of the national interest.
I agree with two of the remarks made by the honorable member for Warringah. He said that mere nationalization would confer no benefits on the community. That is true. However, I completely disagree with his statement that the enactment of this measure will be disadvantageous to Australia. That is a mere expression of opinion. The mere nationalization of airways will not solve all of our problems but it will confer great and lasting benefit on the community. When the proposed National Airlines Commission is established, the Government must, as I know it will, appoint to the executive positions the men who are best fitted to occupy them, and give to them the fullest authority, consistent with the overriding authority of Parliament in a democratic country, so that they will have the responsibility for the ordinary day to day management of the commission with the firm assurance that, as they wish to develop greater services, the Government will give complete support to them.
The second statement made by the honorable member with which I am in agreement was that there will be enough problems to call for the best endeavours of all persons in the post-war years. During the war, men from every walk of life have willingly served in the organizations of the Government. Many served at lower rates of remuneration than . they received from private industry, and they did so because they had to do jobs of national importance. The country was faced with a crisis, the enemy was upon us, and defeat would have meant our subjection to probably the most fanatical race that the world has ever known. However, we shall be faced with crises in the postwar years. We shall have to solve immense problems, and it behoves the people to lend their support to future governments and to give of their best in order that they may play their part in the development of the nation’s resources for their own welfare. Private individuals, now as in the past, must work in with governments. No individuals or groups must be allowed to rear themselves above the elected government. They must, and I firmly believe that they will, when called upon, play an important part in whatever spheres the Government enters, and do their best in the interests of undertakings established by the Government. The honorable gentleman said that Australian National Airways Limited had rendered a great service to the community. Nobody has denied that, and I shall deal with the matter later. He referred to the railways of this country, and compared them with those in other parts of the world; but the conditions in Australia are such that a comparison is not possible. In the United States of America, the losses on the railways over the years have been very great. Many privately owned companies have defaulted in respect of their obligations to bondholders. To-day, they are under the control of governments, which prescribe regulations to which they must conform. In the pre-war years, in the carriage of passengers and in the haulage of goods over short distances, the railways of that country found a new and fierce competitor in the trucking business, and they experienced’ difficult times. Further intense competition has resulted from the expansion of airlines, so we cannot say that the railways in the United States of America will be in a happy position in future under private enterprise. What any country may do with the instrumentalities of the people is purely one of domestic management.
We have found it essential in Australia for railways to he constructed and managed by governments. We have a striking illustration of the respective merits of privately operated and governmentowned railways in Western Australia. There a large proportion of the railways is owned and conducted by the State Government, and used for the development of the resources of the country. Having regard to the vast capital outlay those railways have not proved financially profitable, but the expenditure has been justified, in that great benefit has been conferred on the people. The Midland Railway Company uses the Government terminal lines from Perth to Midland Junction and from Walkaway to Geraldton, and it could not operate its own lines unless government facilities were placed at its disposal. I challenge any honorable member to prove that the Government railways in Western Australia are not superior to those conducted in that State by private enterprise. I invite honorable members to ask the people of Western Australia whether they prefer to be served by private enterprise, in view of their experience of the service provided by the Midland Railway Company, or whether they would like the State Government to take over the privatelyowned railway, and provide a national service. Honorable members who represent farming districts should compare the charges for the carriage of fertilizers throughout Western Australia on the Government railways with those imposed by the Midland Railway Company. They would find that the Government railways grant a substantial concession on the haulage of superphosphate, whilst the Midland Railway Company, despite the utmost pressure that can be exerted, has not been induced to make such a concession to primary producers. In an area containing the best wheat and agricultural land in the State, a governmentowned railway operating side by side with a privately-owned line, gives the better service.
Reference was made by the honorable member for Warringah to the goodwill of the airline companies. He said that the present proposal of the Government was designed to prevent the payment of goodwill to the private companies. As the honorable gentleman must know, goodwill could only be. claimed if the companies could prove that they had made profits from their trading operations in normal years. According to the usual formula, goodwill is computed on the basis of the average true net profits for the previous five normal trading years. If any accountant had to decide whether goodwill should be paid, he would discard the profits of the war years and would go back to a period when normal conditions prevailed. Whether it is necessary to pay goodwill on that basis I am not prepared to say, and I am not greatly interested, but if an investigation based on that formula showed that profits had been made, the companies would be. entitled to something for goodwill. If, on the other hand, it were found that they had not made profits, they would have no claim on the Government. Whatever formula were applied, the decision would not rest with the Government, but with the board proposed to ‘be established under the bill, and if agreement could not be reached there, presumably the High Court would decide the matter. Therefore, the argument advanced by the honorable member for Warringah has little application to the facts of the case.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) based his argument on four grounds. The first was that the bill is a gross violation of the election pledges of the Government. I do not think that any charge can be fairly laid on that score. As a supporter of the present Government who occupies a seat not previously held by a Labour representative since the establishment of the Commonwealth, I accept my responsibility to the electors of Perth for the step which the Government has taken. If anybody challenges the basis of a democratic election, the Government cannot do better than say that it accepts responsibility for its action. As to the right honorable gentleman’s second point that this measure is contrary to the will of the people as expressed at the recent referendum, I go back to the previous referendum on the subject of marketing and aviation, when the people refused to grant the increased powers then sought. But what was done? Since that time, under agreements with the States, Commonwealth legislation has prevailed in the States. If ever we have witnessed a disregard of the decision of the people expressed in a referendum, we see one in that instance. Among the points put to the people a little more than a year ago was a proposal for the granting of increased powers to this Parliament, so that it could legislate with regard to the standardization of railway gauges. The people rejected that and other proposals, but it has since been decided, in agreement with the States, to standardize railway gauges. Does the Opposition challenge that action on the ground that it is contrary to the decision of the people at the recent referendum? Other points made by him were mere expressions of opinion.
The fourth proposition of the right honorable gentleman was that this bill is likely to result in the people being provided with a worse service under government control than would be provided by private enterprise; but, as that is merely an expression of his own opinion, it may be ignored. It was suggested that if the private airlines were taken over by the Government, the fact that the Government has no power to provide intra-state services, except in co-operation with the States, would mean that the private companies would be left to conduct the unprofitable airlines and the Parliament would be asked to provide subsidies to cover losses on those lines. The right honorable gentleman, being a man of brilliant intellect, is capable of keen analysis. What does he suggest is the difference between paying a subsidy for unprofitable lines and giving to the companies the right to operate a payable service, the profits from which will be a form of subsidy to cover losses on nonpaying lines?
Honorable members opposite have not advanced any sound arguments against the proposal in the bill. I shall not discuss nationalization versus socialization. We should not become confused over mere names. Nobody seems to be clear in his own mind about the distinc- tion between the meanings of those two words. The principle on which we act is not to inquire whether the Government has provided a subsidy, indirectly or otherwise, to the airline companies, or whether the profits have been assessed in order to show whether the companies have been successful. This undertaking is a public utility. We should ask ourselves whether the airlines should be operated for the benefit of the nation or in the interests of private individuals. I do not claim that government enterprise has invariably been completely efficient, “nor do I admit that private industry has. The only surveys made of the efficiency standards of private enterprise were conducted in Great Britain and the. United States of America prior to the last war. A careful and detailed analysis disclosed that a very small percentage of the companies operating at that time had an exact knowledge of their manufacturing costs. There is a new science, if such it can be called, of cost-accounting, and in this respect a step forward has been made, but in relation to industry it is only in its infancy. Governments should be instructed that when boards or commissions are appointed only the most able men should be selected, and they should have the services of the best advisers and technical experts who can be provided. The enterprises of which they are given charge should be developed in conformity with the most efficient practices adopted in other countries, and the most modern machinery and equipment procurable should be obtained. I said earlier that the railways are one of the great public utilities of this country. The only comparison of any value that can be made of the relative merits of private enterprise and public ownership of railways is when the two systems are run side by side. Those best able to judge are the persons who are served by them. Throughout the years there has been a clamour for the management and development of private railway companies in a way that will better serve the interests of the people. In the future, airlines are destined to take a place alongside the public railways of’ this country. Within recent years, marvellous developments in civil aviation have been witnessed. Less than twelve months’ ago, I journeyed through the electorate of Swan with the member for that division. The people in those areas are anxious that the Government shall establish aerodromes in order that they may more quickly obtain the facilities and amenities of the cities. That is necessary in the interests of Australia’s welfare.
The Commonwealth should co-operate with the States in providing necessary facilities. We should then have an organization superior to the railways of to-day in the immensity of the capital involved, the services rendered, and the value of the assets. Can it be admitted that competition upon the basis that is supposed to exist in a capitalist community can safely be left to provide such facilities? No one can argue that, over identical routes, two airline operators can provide as efficient a service as one operator to whom monopoly rights have been granted, subject to certain conditions. Instead of costs being lowered and a cheaper service being provided, operating costs would be raised. The operators would have to increase charges on account of the decrease of business offering. When it was found that profits were declining, the tendency might be to discard the most effective methods and thus jeopardize safety. I do not want my argument to be interpreted to mean that the present airline companies have not provided an excellent service. But are honorable members opposite prepared to allow a network of aerial services from one end of this country to the other to be controlled by private enterprise? We must cast aside our ideologies in this matter, and have regard to the efficiency of the service to be rendered and the effects of competition in an industry of this sort. The House can render the greatest service to Australia by supporting this measure. Private operations in any sphere will not deter the Government from the task that it has in mind. If private airline managements co-operate with the Government, they can play a real part in the development of this country, comparable only with the great work they have done willingly and gladly during the difficult war years in the service of the nation.
I claim to have demonstrated that this is a public utility. Its function must be to span the great distances that exist in this country, whether immediately or in the course of development in alliance with some other enterprise. The basic fact must be accepted that only by thu development of civil aviation can the outback areas of the continent be brought into close association with the more settled parts. That being so, a first essential is a public utility. It must be conceded that air services are a public utility of the highest order.
I have endeavoured to show that dangers will arise from free enterprise and competition in this industry. It must be realized that the fierce competition of recent years has not only been in direct opposition to a stable and balanced economy, but also has proved extremely wasteful. Instead of fierce competition, there must be co-operation and coordination of interests. Otherwise, the present state of society will crumble before our eyes, under the blast of a depression or the upsurge of a people who have been thwarted and embittered. Every airline company that is permitted to operate an air service must have sufficient aircraft to operate from day to day, as well as a reserve that will enable it to meet any eventuality. Therefore, it must be abundantly clear that from time to time many aircraft will not be earning profits. Consequently, the trend must be towards a monopoly, whether immediately or in the near or distant future.
The honorable member for Warringah claimed that monopolies are not necessarily bad. Admittedly; but there is a potential danger in any monopoly which no government can afford to ignore. A free rein should not be given to a monopoly. The Government must ensure its compliance with the conditions that are imposed. Its operations must not be permitted to prejudice the welfare of the people generally. If we give to the Government the power to determine the rates that may be charged, the safety conditions that must be observed, and the standard to be attained in the training of pilots, is it a far step to government ownership and operation, under a commission composed of technical men with the highest qualifications ? Information in regard to the operations of private concerns reaches the public only when they choose to make it available. On the other hand, full discussion can take place at any time in regard to the management of a public instrumentality, and the most complete reports must be made available when that course is imposed by statute or required by members of this Legislature. No one will suggest, seriously, that we should give to private interests, such as shipping combines^ the right to conduct services or provide facilities of such potential importance and power. They will say to the government of the day, a government responsible to the people, that it should provide a service for the benefit of the citizens - not only those in the capital cities, but also those in country areas. Arguments as to whether air services have made profits or not, or whether they have been subsidized or not, are irrelevant. Our duty is to consider how we can provide the best service for the public, and how aviation can make its maximum contribution to the development of the country. Judged by those standards, the Government’s proposals are fully justified.
The bill provides for the setting up of an Air Lines Commission, which is to be clothed with great powers. The amount of money which it may expend is limited; that is a wise safeguard. The salary of the chairman is not stated, but I suggest that the Government might have provided larger salaries for the deputy chairman and members of the commission. I also believe that it might be better to appoint a permanent commission, even if it were a small one. The members of the .commission will have to shoulder heavy responsibilities, and they should not be required to look to other sources for a part of their income. Provision should be made to enable members of the commission to travel abroad in order to study for themselves the latest aviation developments. Only in that way will they be able to keep abreast of modern trends.
The Minister has said that it is intended to recruit a staff for the new organization from the present aviation companies as far as possible, .if, and when, they are taken over. The bill pro- vides that full compensation shall be paid for property which is taken over. I suggest that the same care should be shown to protect the interests of the staff employed by the existing companies. They should be given the right to say whether they will join the new organization, and if they choose to do so they should be paid at appropriate rates. It is proposed to set .up an authority to hear- appeals in respect of compensation offered by the Government for property taken over. A great deal of expense can be saved if the findings of this authority are accepted by both parties. Otherwise, the claims will have to go to the High Court.
– I do not agree with the argument of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) that the establishment of a government monopoly is the only way in which to prevent wasteful competition. Experience has shown that there is a greater danger in unrestricted monopoly, public or private, than in unrestricted competition.
The development of aviation in Australia is too important a matter to quarrel about. In the post-war world, an efficient, up-to-date aviation system is as essential to Australia’s national life and development as pure air and good food are to the life and development of each individual citizen. Therefore, before dealing with this bill, I think that the position should be examined to see on what all parties agree. I am sure that the points of agreement are more numerous and fundamental than the points of disagreement. We must not let shibboleths or labels interfere with this agreement in substance, and prevent us from immediately getting on with the job.
The constitutional position is such as to make for delay and uncertainty while the position is being decided in the courts. Even if the Government were to win the constitutional argument regarding interstate lines, it is quite, obvious that intrastate aviation is not being covered. It is the irony of fate that the Government is prevented from putting out a complete scheme by Labour’s opposition to our referendum of 1937, and by not permitting the aviation question to be voted on as a separate subject in 1944.
There are four main points of general agreement.
All parties desire an aviation scheme that can, and will, operate on an Australiawide basis. That scheme must be able to give the greatest possible service inside Australia, even in its most remote parts. It must be able, also, to make indispensable international connexions and arrangements.
All parties realize that, after the war is over, aviation will be the most intensely competitive industry in the world. To hold its own, Australia will need the best pilots, the best brains, the best machines and the best organization. To get these, we must not only be able to draw upon the best aviation knowledge and skill at our command, but also make the fullest use of the ripe experience of all our other transport organizations, whether public or private.
All parties agree in the belief that the progress of aviation after the war will be very rapid. Its development, therefore, will necessitate the provision of a continuous programme of great capital expenditure for ‘planes, flying equipment, landing facilities, ground repairs and servicing.
All parties have shown, by bringing down constitutional amendments to give the Commonwealth complete power over air transport, which have been rejected by the people at referendums, that they are, to say the least, not satisfied with the constitutional position. This uncertainty is a very unstable foundation upon which to build.
This bill is a measure to transform an established, efficient, competitive industry into a government monopoly. No reason has been given why this is being done. No necessity for this action has been shown. It is admitted that the Australian aviation industry is most efficient. It has been successful from the very beginning. It pioneered trans-ocean flying. Australia led the world in distances flown per head of population, lt pioneered the airmail service with the United Kingdom. It has co-operated 100 per cent, in the whole of its career with every government. Its services and air fleet proved invaluable in helping in the defence of our mainland and terri tories when Australia was attacked by Japan.
The conversion of this efficient, competitive industry into a government monopoly is being carried out under constitutional conditions that make it certain that the government monopoly must be less efficient. There is, first, the constitutional doubt as to whether the Government can carry on a nationalized business undertaking of this nature at all. The refusal of the aviation power by the people at the last referendum means that the Commonwealth Government can at best create only an interstate system, and not an intra-state one. The inevitable result of this division of the aviation industry into separate compartments must give us, in the final result, greater confusion than the railway mess that has resulted from our differing gauges.
The United -.States of America, which has a federal constitution and system similar to our own, has managed to overcome its constitutional difficulties in national transport as regards railways and aviation by private ownership. Were we wise, we should do the same. By so doing, we would directly stimulate Australia’s progress, create more employment and encourage the development of private initiative. Private enterprise is the twin of responsible individuality.
In democratic countries, private business has three principal functions. Its first duty is to manufacture articles for the community. The second is that, in producing and distributing goods, private business shall concurrently provide people with productive activity - in other words. something to do - and a social setting in which to do it. The third function is to make a place where the individual savings of the people may be put to work. Those are great social tasks for any human institution, and private enterprise should see that they are well performed. American practice and British example indicate that, if we marry private enterprise and government control, we can capitalize the points on which Government supporters and members of the Opposition are in agreement, and overcome many of our constitutional difficulties. In the development of- its public facilities, many of which were not thought of when the Constitution was framed, the United States of America has shown that private ownership can overcome the limitations to development inherent in a federal system of administration. It has shown also how profits, and the activities of nation-wide enterprises, may be controlled by law. Great Britain has set an example of how to co-ordinate private enterprise with government oversight and supervision, and to make the best use of all the resources at their disposal. The official White Paper on British Air Transport, which was presented to the House of Commons by the Minister for Civil Aviation in March last, sets out the British Government’s plan for dealing with this matter. The Commonwealth Government should carefully examine the proposals, because the bill now under consideration has such an unstable foundation on which to build a great industry that will expand, as the railways have done during the last 90 or 100 years. I remind honorable members that the British plan was formulated before the National Government was dissolved, and therefore it has the support of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal parties. Section 8 of the report is entitled “Requisites of an Air Transport Organization “, and states -
In the view of His Majesty’s Government, the following are the requisites of an efficient air transport organization: -
The units must be large enough to operate economically but not so large or widespread as to preclude effective supervision along every route.
Each unit must have an efficient organization covering every area served by its air lines to handle passengers, freight and mail, together with firstclass knowledge, and experience of transportation and facilities for full co-operation with other forms of transport wherever this can promote air travel.
Provision must be made for the economical use and maintenance of aircraft.
The most effective arrangements must be made for the training of air crews and ground staff and for their welfare.
There must be close co-operation between the users and the manufacturers in deciding the types of aircraft to be used.
The organization should be capable of providing training for the crews of Commonwealth or foreign countries, and should also be able to supply these countries, where required, with technical and operational help.
The next section relates to the size of units. It states -
The Government are convinced thatthe policy of a single chosen instrument, whatever may have been its merits in the past is unsuited to deal with the great expansion of the future. There must, therefore, be several air transport undertakings. A single entity, even if it could effectively include and use all the varied experience of aviation and transportation which it is necessary to bring in, would be too large and far-flung to fulfil the requirement of individual supervision of all the routes operated. Moreover, while as stated above, it is clearly desirable to eliminate wasteful competition between British operators on the same route, it is none the less desirable both to avoid a sealed pattern of management and operation and to encourage different managements to try out their own ideas. This would in no way prevent the constant pooling of experience and the Government’s plan is designed to secure this.
The pamphlet then deals with civil aviation as a transport problem, and states -
Air transport can be greatly assisted and stimulated by co-operation with other systems of transport … It is therefore of the essence of the Government’s plan that those interests concerned in transport by sea and by land should be brought into a real and effective partnership with the organizations which will be responsible for transport by air.
I was amazed to hear Government supporters criticize shipping interests for having acquired a financial interest in civil aviation. In my opinion, the shipping companies should be complimented. It would be absurd to disregard their long experience of transport problems, because our tradition has been to build on our achievements. If, while we are ascending, we cut the ladder beneath us, we shall crash to the ground. The Government should heed this warning. Dealing with theStructure of the Corporations the White Paper states -
Commonwealth routes (including the Atlantic). - The Commonwealth and Atlantic routes, together with the ultimate extensions to China and the Far East will be assigned to the British Overseas Airways Corporation. This corporation and their predecessor, Imperial Airways, have been responsible for the development and operation of these routes in the past. They are in close relations with the corresponding operators of other Common wealth countries. They are therefore clearly the appropriate instrument for the operation and further development of these routes. On many of the routes, however, a valuable contribution can be made by British shipping lines with their well-established organization and local connexions, and their experience of the special transport requirements of particular areas served. It is therefore proposed that these shipping lines shall be afforded the opportunity of becoming associated with British Overseas Airways Corporation in the operation of these routes to which they can make a useful contribution; an association which is welcomed alike by British Overseas Airways Corporation and the shipping lines. It will probably be convenient in any case, for British Overseas Airways Corporation to operate certain of these routes through subsidiary companies; and as the interest and organization of the different shipping lines is confined to particular routes, such a structure will clearly be desirable for those services in which British shipping lines participate, [n any subsidiary companies, the predominant financial and managerial interest will normally be held by British Overseas Airways Corporation; but the shipping lines will, at their own risk, take a share in the capital, and their transport experience and commercial acumen will be represented on the boards. It is the determination of all the shipping lines which have expressed a desire to participate, as it is of His Majesty’s Government, that the air routes with which they are to be associated shall ‘be fully and successfully developed.
The White Paper provides certain safeguards, so that the air lines shall serve the whole community, and not operate only remunerative routes. It states -
The general policy of His Majesty’s Government is that both internal and external air services should operate as far as possible without subsidy.
Dealing with internal services, the White Paper says -
So far as internal services in the United Kingdom are concerned the participants in the corporation to which these routes will be assigned - and who are investing their own money therein - are .willing to run without subsidy the agreed schedule of routes which will include, as well as the remunerative services, those routes which the Government regard as desirable in the public interest although some of them, if they were dealt with in isolation, could not be run at a profit.
In the British plan, the Commonwealth Government will discover -proposals that it should adopt in order successfully to control the airlines of Australia. Those proposals would enable private enterprise to utilize its vast experience and financial resources, and, as the result of its assistince, civil aviation in Australia would progress. Regarding the public ownership of these facilities, the garden is not nearly so full of roses as Government supporters believe. What is the story of government ownership in Australia? Two things have happened. Because they are dependent upon raising money from the public, and, therefore, experience all the difficulties that arise from economic depressions, many projects that have been authorized and regarded as essential are never carried into effect. Eighty years ago, Sir Henry Parkes said, in Tenterfield, that the most important work in New South Wales at that time was the construction of a. railway from the New England tableland to the navigable port of the Clarence River. On four occasions the State Parliament has authorized the expenditure of the money for the construction of that railway, but I noticed in to-day’s press that a committee is still examining a possible route. That must be about the fiftieth occasion on which prospective routes for this railway line have been investigated. A vicious circle has been created. Every time the Government has been ready to proceed with the work the requisite money for it has not been available. That instance is typical of the lack of enterprise on the part of governments, because of changing conditions. That lack of enterprise might easily have resulted in the defeat of Australia if Japan had smashed our large ports on the seaboard. What I have urged is that aviation is as essential to the life of the community as pure air and good food are to the individual. It has been suggested that a government monopoly, such as the railways, will always act in the public interest. What is the outstanding feature of government railway systems in Australia? I remind honorable members of the missing link between Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads - 18 miles of railway line which the Government of New South Wales refuses to construct.
Sitting suspended from 12.^5 to 2.15 p.m.
– Whenever governments operate public utilities, there is always delay and trouble. The missing link of 18 miles of railroad which I mentioned before lunch has been waiting completion for many years, although an agreement was made between the Governments of Queensland and New South
Wales that, if Queensland would build to 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge, New South Wales would complete the link. If this had been a private concern, neither the public nor the Government would have tolerated the delay, but we have tolerated it for 70 or 80 years under public ownership. The future of government-controlled airlines is affected by the provision in the Constitution relating to discrimination in freight rates and fares as between States, such as occur on the uniform gauge railway between Sydney and Brisbane. I know of one truckload of goods the freight charges on which amounted to £2 10s. for the section from Brisbane to the border, and £11 10s. for a similar distance on the other side of the border. That arose from interstate jealousy. The freight rates had been designed to prevent residents of the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales from dealing with Brisbane. Similar anomalies will occur in the air transport system unless the Constitution bo altered, and that is not likely in view of the defeat of the referendum proposals not long ago. The Commonwealth will control interstate flying and the State governments will control intra-state flying. The various systems will conflict with one another, and, as the result, the “buck” will be passed continually from one government to another; We may find that, because of this procrastination, important developmental work may be deferred for years, as in the case of the railway link which I mentioned. We should try to overcome these difficulties, and we can do so by establishing the interstate airline organization as a business undertaking by the aviation industry in combination with the Government. This was done in Great Britain at the suggestion of the Labour party in that country. One of the great advantages of this form of control is that it enables finance to be provided readily for the purpose of expansion, independent of government loan raisings. A business undertaking has an independent balance-sheet, and its management can be criticized and investigated. The public can subscribe funds to provide for its special development, whereas the financial circumstances of the various governments often prevent money from being made available for such purposes. Consider the financial difficulties that will beset Australian governments after the war. As soon as the war is ended, we shall have to commence repayment of the hundreds of millions of pounds that have been borrowed for war purposes. At the same time, we shall have to try to make up the great lag in capital expenditure, both governmental and private, that has occurred during the war. Consequently, there will be a host of government requirements, and the last-comer will always be the last served. After the last war, the development of electricity supplies was the Cinderella of State and Commonwealth enterprise. Very little was done to develop electricity undertakings, although other projects were given a good measure of financial support. In similar circumstances after this war, aviation will probably be treated as Miss Cinderella, junior. It will bo only an infant in swaddling clothes and will receive very little assistance, no matter how much it may cry. The rapid development of an aviation transport system on the broadest possible lines is as indispensable to our national life as are pure air and good food to the health of children. Therefore,I urge that air transport be developed as a business enterprise on business lines. My arguments are supported by a speech that was made at Newcastle recently by Dr. L. R. Coleman, a business executive from the United States of America, Who addressed the Rotary Club in that city. When asked if Australia had any chance of attracting migrants from the United States of America, he said - “ No. America was by no means overpopulated, in spite of the size of the population. No American would need to migrate, and he would not migrate unless hesaw greater opportunity abroad. The question was: Would the man who wanted to go abroad to seek his fortune be induced to come here instead of going to Canada, or Brazil, Argentina or South Africa? “My feeling,” said the speaker, “is that you are refusing to give opportunities to people. Your Government, which represents the majority of Australians, is pledged to nationalize the means of production and distribution. Government ownership is not the best way of offering hospitality to foreigners. . . . Another important factor was rooney. If a foreigner with some money wished to come here he was strictly limited in the field of potential investments. Australia had only half a dozen big companies, and their shares were all pretty closely held. A foreigner might have to wait sis months before lie could buy some of their shares. In America he could send his money ahead of him, or he could invest it the day he arrived. lt would be found in America that there was a net of about $14,000,000,000 of refugee money, almost entirely from Europe. Had it been poured into Australia at the same rate proportionate to the population, it would have been equivalent to about £220,000,000. It should (have been poured into Australia at a greater rate, because the country was sparsely settled and should offer far more ;profitable opportunities for .private investment.”
That is a very good reason why we should provide opportunities for the investment of money in the aviation industry. The nation must develop aviation rapidly in order to retain its place in the international field and to maintain its transport systems at the world standard. In linking business enterprise with government control, the services of skilled personnel with good executive capacity will be more readily obtained. Many capable administrative men, are not willing to become public servants, as they would have to do under this bill. Furthermore, not much inducement is offered to them, because one deputy commissioner will receive only £500 a year and the other will receive £400 a year. We shall make no progress while men in charge of the organization receive such paltry salaries which, as the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) said, would preclude them from giving full-time attention to their work. We need the services of men of imagination and foresight to- prevent the scheme from running on the rocks. They should have initiative and vision to enable them to plan intelligently for the future. It is important to select good men who will place the scheme on a good footing. When I was in Canada fifteen or twenty years ago, the Canadian National Railways, a government undertaking, were operating in competition with Canadian Pacific Railways. The organization was in a very bad financial position, and, as a result, it was forced to employ Sir Henry Thornton for ten years at a remuneration of £20,000 a year in order to lift it out of the state of chaos and virtual bankruptcy into which it had fallen. That state of affairs was due to the lack of flexibility of government ownership. I urge the Government to consider my proposition. Everybody in Australia agrees on the four fundamental principles underlying this scheme. We desire to see air transport services covering the whole continent, which will progress under the guidance of the best brains in the country, and with the best available equipment, and which will not be starved of the money needed for development. That being so, the main consideration should be to start the job as soon as possible. There will be so much opposition to this bill that two years may elapse before all difficulties are finally settled. If the opposition to the Government’s proposal is successful, it will have to make a fresh start. We have many competent men who are ready and willing to take employment with this undertaking if they can go straight ahead with their jobs. The various airline companies operating throughout Australia have already made plans for widening the scope of their activities to include such services as the transport of fresh meat, vegetables and fruit. That shows that men engaged in the aviation industry are eager to develop it. If we discourage them now they will feel that they will never receive a fair deal from the Government, and we may not be able to revive the same spirit of enterprise again. I urge the Government to call interested parties together immediately in order to discuss the problems of air transport. There is no question that it is the general wish of Australians to have the matter settled. Some of the men in the business have been so engaged for over twenty years. Some of them invested their money in the industry, and for many years received no financial return from it. There should be an agreement to safeguard the public interest, and to ensure immediate action of a progressive nature, which will make available the whole of the resources of our transport systems for the benefit of the people.
The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) made play during his speech on the words socialization “ and “ nationalization “. At the beginning of his speech, he said that there was a marked difference between the two words, but, in the latter part of bis speech he used the word “ nationalization “ only, and said that any efficient monopoly ought to be nationalized. That might be satisfactory to him in the case of a good monopoly, but we shall fare badly if we allow the inefficient monopolies to do as they like. I disagree with his contention that one reason why the aviation industry should be nationalized is that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has been expending large sums of money on aeronautical research. According to the honorable gentleman’s argument, the universities should take over the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited because they have been conducting research work into the steel industry in their physics laboratories and geological schools. The Government should give further consideration to the matters that I have raised. By the adoption of my suggestion, it would be able to obtain all the money necessary for expansion, outside the ordinary budget. It could then utilize the experienced personnel available. There is no reason why it should not secure all the control it requires, just as Great Britain has done with regard to its civil aviation activities.
.- This is one of the most important bills ever presented to the House and I wholeheartedly support it. In fact, I am prepared to stake my political neck upon it. On this measure depends the future security of the nation. The real and most vital issue before us is, “ Will the nationalization of the interstate airlines be in the interests of Australian security ? “ If the answer to that question be “ Yes “, and I say that it is, no consideration of private profits and private compensation can be entertained. The supreme consideration is national security. After the war there will be a chain of powerful naval and air bastions girdling the earth to protect democracy. In the Pacific, Australia will be the main link in the chain binding together the great American and English democracies in the cause of progress. To achieve this, we must see that this country is in a better position than its deplorable state of unpreparedness before the war. The champions of private enterprise, and those who are raising their voices loudest in opposition to the nationalization of airways, were in power almost continuously from 1916 to 1939, but what happened1? We had no air power when the war commenced. Private enterprise had done nothing. We had to wait for the Government to produce the Beaufort to enable us to have the first 500 fighting aircraft that we put in the air against Japan. It was a job in which private enterprise had failed, but which government enterprise carried on superbly during the war.
I prefer to consider this matter from the aspect of national defence. If Australia is to be adequately prepared for defence, the civil air services and staffs must be co-ordinated with the military services. The only way in which that can be done is by placing the air services under the control of the Government. Prior to the war, merchant ships owned by private companies were sold one by one to the Japanese. Why ? Because the price offered was satisfactory and enabled a profit to be made. Many of those ships have been used against us, and many more are still being used against us to-day. What happened in respect of ships could much more easily happen with regard to aircraft. They could be sold overnight and flown out of Australia before the people even knew about it. Money knows no patriotism and bears no allegiance to anything except the cause of private profit. I say that in all sincerity. No government with a vision to foresee Australia’s future needs could take the risk of allowing the possibility which I have stated to be realized. At present five powerful overseas shipping companies have a stranglehold on Australia and its main air services. Those interests are pouring out money to confuse the people about the Government’s motives in seeking to take control of the airlines in the interests of the people. Already the Government has invested more than £4,000,000 in civil aircraft, development, compared with £1,000,000 invested by the private companies. Yet the companies are trying to mislead the people into the belief that the present assets have been created by themselves. Under the decision to establish public ownership of the interstate airlines, the companies will he paid a fair price for their interests, but the price will be decided ultimately, not by the Government, but by the High Court, as provided in the Constitution.
That is a complete answer to the charge of confiscation, and disposes of the paid propaganda of the airline companies. The Government has provided all of the aerodromes, the wireless and other navigational aids and the meteorological services. The commercial companies have not constructed even one aerodrome for their own use. They have used free of cost, and for their own profit, £4,000,000 worth of facilities provided by the Australian people. The nation’s investments in civil aviation exceed those of the ‘airline companies; the nation’s interests are supreme and must prevail. Last year, the Government paid £884,000 in subsidies and poundage fees to all airline companies in Australia. Of that sum, one company alone, Australian National Airways, received £784,000. That fact shows clearly the monopolistic grip that that company has obtained on the main airlines in this country. Who controls that combine? It is controlled mainly by Huddart Parker Limited, the Union Steamship Company and Holyman Brothers. Thus, as I have already said, overseas shipping interests have a stranglehold on our main airlines. The primary objective of those companies- is to protect their main investments, which are their shipping interests. Are they now to be allowed to develop their monopolistic enterprise in airlines, or shall we develop our air services in the interests of the nation? The real issue involved in this matter is never disclosed in public advertisements sponsored by these companies. Such propaganda is designed to mislead the public as to the motives of the Government in introducing this legislation. Those who sneer at the efficiency of government enterprise «nd decry it at every opportunity never mention the outstanding success of postal, telegraphic, telephonic, water and sewer-
Hire, and electricity services. Public ownership and operation of such services, and, in particular, public ownership of transport, have long been accepted as a proper function of government. To-day, few people would contend that the railways and tramways should be disposed of to private enterprise. The issue arising under this measure is simply whether another form of transport, airways, should be operated under public ownership and control or by private enterprise. Public ownership of airlines is vital to national defence. For national survival we must develop the countryside, the inland and isolated areas. That can be done most effectively by operating airlines, which are the most modern means of transport, under .public ownership, just as we have operated our railways for that purpose. A transport system operated for private profit necessarily concentrates on thickly populated areas. The records of the railways and the post office have shown that administrative experts can work just as efficiently on the public payroll as on a private payroll.
In Canada, the main airlines have been directly operated by the government with outstanding success. 2Jo one would call the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. McKenzie King, a socialist; but in April, 1943, he announced that hie government airlines would continue to operate all transcontinental systems and other services of a mainland character which it might from time to time designate. Much prominence has been given in public advertisements to a socalled pledge against socialization, alleged to have been given by the late Mr. Curtin. What Mr. Curtin really said is not reported fully in any of those advertisements. He said that he would socialize no industry during the war just because we were at war, but neither would he be deterred by vested interests from doing everything necessary for the successful conduct of the war and for the post-war security of Australia. The nationalization of airlines is absolutely essential to the post-war security of Australia. These advertisements distort what Mr. Curtin said. They tell only half the truth. The Government believes that healthy competition is good, and that private enterprise - the small business man, but not the big monopolist - will play a vital part in our economy for many years to come. When monopolists talk about the freedom of the individual, they have in mind only their own freedom to exploit the community. So soon as the monopolist sees one small section of the national economy removed from the grasp of private profit, he howls “ socialism and tries to convince the people, whom he regularly exploits, that their interests are being threatened. The real tragedy is that so many people have been “taken in” by such propaganda. I bebelieve that tactics of. this kind will never again deceive the people of this country. “We have just learned of the result of the general elections in Great Britain. The Leaders of the Labour party put before the British people a straightforward policy, whilst their opponents dished up dirt and filth. The people of that great nation have spoken, and by their verdict have almost annihilated the enemies of democracy in Great Britain. I look forward to the day when this Government will again appeal to the people. I am confident that it will be returned with an even greater majority than was given to it at the general elections in 1943. I am proud to be a supporter of this Government which has placed or will place on the statute-book the most important measures yet enacted in the history of our nation. I refer to the Government’s banking legislation and this measure. Therefore, I look forward with confidence to the result of the next general elections. I know full well what the people will answer. We of the Labour party believe in democracy. We accept majority decisions. It was never my wish to enter this Parliament, but the rank and file made an appeal to me and that is why I am here. I have nothing to fear from those who sit on the Opposition benches. I have watched them during the two years that I have been here, and have seen them make a political football of every measure that . has come before the House. I did! not come here to play politics, but to serve the nation, and I am going to express my opinion in the interest of the people. I am prepared to stake my political future on this measure, and I look forward to the result with great confidence.
.- We have listened to a great deal of volume from the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller), but have heard very little logic. I was sorry to hear him remark that he was not satisfied even with the nationalization of the airways. That step is not extreme enough for him. His ideas revert to the dark old days, and he frankly advocates a policy of confiscation. He wants legalized robbery because he stated that he would take over the private airways without compensation. The honorable member sought to comfort himself by reflecting upon the result of the British election. I am sorry for him if he can see any comfort in that result for himself and his party. In his .case the old adage applies that “where ignorance is bliss ‘tis folly to be wise”. Does he not know that all war-time governments are unpopular? Does he not know that the people of a democracy will not support a government which applies a policy of industrial conscription? Does he not know that the people resent regimentation and the imposition of restrictions? Does he not know that the people of a democracy object to being pushed and ordered around like mere chattels? As I have said, all war-time governments are unpopular, and history will repeat itself; the Australian war-time Governmentwill bite the dust at the next general election as did the British war-time government.
Discussing the result of the referendum which was held last August, a member of the Government, ‘Senator Fraser, speaking from his place in the Senate on the 26th September, said -
In spite of the negative vote on its proposals, the Government will go ahead with its policy.
Therefore, one is not surprised that the Government decided to ignore the will of the people so decisively expressed in the referendum, and to proceed with its proposal for the socialization of interstate airlines. Some persons profess to see a difference between socialization and nationalization, but if they consult some competent authority or any reliable dictionary they will find that the two terms mean exactly the same. I oppose the bill-
– The honorable member surprises me.
– I do not know why the honorable member should be surprised. I have always opposed socialization, and I hope that I always shall. I am opposed to the bill, not because I object to certain controls which the Government exercises to-day - indeed, I am substantially in agreement with them - but because of the spineless attitude of some honorable members opposite, and of the Government itself in allowing the extreme elements among its supporters to force it into a policy of socialization, notwithstanding the pledge given by the late Prime Minister at the last elections. We were assured then that the socialist policy of the Labour party would be deferred for the duration of the war. Mr. Curtin, who enunciated the policy of the Government on the 19th August, 1943, said -
I say that my Government has not socialized any industry. I say further that my Government will not socialize any industry.
The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), the able lieutenant of the Prime Minister, said during the same month -
Let there be no mistake. There will be more room for private enterprise and business initiative after the war than ever before in Australia’s history.
– Does the honorable member believe that?
– Not if this Government remains in office. Does the AttorneyGeneral still hold that opinion? If so, it would be interesting to know why he now endorses the decision, of Cabinet to take the very last vestige of business initiative away from a prosperous, reliable, and efficiently conducted private enterprise. This proposal is a striking example of a deliberate breach of faith with the public. The Government has dishonoured the pledges given through its own leader, and through his lieutenant, the Attorney-General. On the assurances then given the people assumed, as they had a right to do, that no attempt would be made during the life of the present Parliament to stifle private enterprise, or to launch out on a scheme of socialization. We have heard a lot about the Four Freedoms, but what becomes of the freedom of the individual to carry on legitimate business in this country? The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) would confiscate the airways.
That was the course he advocated in the early part of his speech.
– I would let the High Court decide.
– I invite the honorable member to look at the Hansard report of what he said. I also took down his words. He said that he would not pay one penny of compensation. The honorable member had a “ bit “ both ways. He thought he was on the Albury race-course. On the eve of the last general elections, the then Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) said that his Government felt itself bound for the next three years by the programme he had outlined in his policy speech. No mention was made in that speech of any proposal to nationalize the airways or any other industry. Yet, honorable gentlemen opposite, definitely pledged for the life of the present Parliament, by their late leader that the Government would not socialize any industry and would be bound by his policy speech-
– That is false, and the honorable member knows it.
– Order !
– I do not mind the honorable member’s interjection. It represents his elegant way of putting things. Not one line of the late Prime Minister’s policy speech indicated that his party proposed to destroy the business initiative of private enterprise. The Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) during the same campaign, said definitely that the Commonwealth Constitution gave no general power to socialize or nationalize any industry. He further said that the charge of socialism against the Curtin Government had no foundation. Now, notwithstanding those definite statements by responsible leaders of the Labour party, we find the policy of socialism being forced through Parliament by weight of numbers. The reason for this somersaulting and disowning of the pledges of the party leaders, can be found in a decision of the Federal Labour Conference. The official organ of the Australia Labour party, the Standard, in
February last year, published this statement -
At n recent Federal Labour Conference it was resolved that a nation-wide campaign for socialization be started immediately.
That was the order to carry on the policy of socialism. The Labour bosses have given forth the edict and, regardless of promises made by the late Prime Minister, the edict must be obeyed. His pledges go by the board once the irresponsibles outside give a direction to honorable members opposite. The Government is obliged to obey the dictates of the outside body. So the proposal before us is another instalment of the first plank of the Labour party’s platform “ socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange “. The whole country will agree with me that the Government has badly blotted its copy book in introducing this bill. I could cite many instances of the abject failure of government enterprises. Consider the State enterprises of the Queensland Government. It borrowed approximately £5,000,000 as capital to establish and operate them and they finished with a net loss of £4,500,000, notwithstanding their trading advantages over private competitors.
– All the capital was lost, too.
– Yes. Government enterprises pay no taxes and have other advantages over private enterprise, notwithstanding which the Queensland State enterprises lost not only £5j000,000 of borrowed capital but also £4,500,000 of the taxpayers’ money. The Wonthaggi coal mine, controlled by the Victorian Government, loses between £60,000 and £70,000 a year. State enterprises in Western Australia have cost the taxpayers of that State £343,000. Under State ownership there is no incentive to employees to become interested in their work or to make a success of the undertaking.
– What about the Post Office?
– The Post Office is nothing but a taxing machine. It is a revenuegathering department. It provides probably the dearest postal service in the world, because it charges 2½d. to deliver a letter a couple of hundred yards.
– But it is efficient.
– There are many ways- in which the service of the Post Office could be improved. The point I was making is that there is no inducement to employees in a State enterprise to become interested in their work or to endeavour to make a success of it. Indeed, there is a tendency in some cases, not always, to let things slide. The wages are paid by the taxpayer. Whether the enterprise is a success or not, the wages of the employees are ready for them every Friday night. If private enterprise does not make a success of its undertaking, it is forced into bankruptcy and has to close down. With a government enterprise the poor old taxpayer has to foot the bill whether it is a success or not.
– Do not break down.
– The honorable member may be a competent surgeon able to wield an efficient scalpel in cutting up human bodies, but he and his assistants will bungle the major operation contemplated in this bill. They propose to operate on the private airlines with a broad axe. Political control spells failure. General managers and foremen are very often hindered. Indeed, cases are on record of managers having deemed it necessary to reprimand or suspend employees for proved dereliction of duty, even dishonesty, and of politicians having interfered to get the suspended employees reinstated. The authority of the manager is undermined by politicians and he loses all confidence and interest in the undertaking he is controlling. He becomes just another employee, draws his salary and lets things slide from bad to worse. Generally there is no discipline in government owned and operated concerns. Safe and efficient air transport depends on having a highly skilled and well-disciplined organization trained in the complex work of operating flying services. Mistakes, slackness and inefficiency in the air generally result in. disaster. Only 100 per cent, efficiency is good enough. Nothing less will suffice. The people are paying crippling taxes without grumbling, because they realize that the winning of the war is the paramount objective. They know that money is necessary for that purpose.
But it will be a different matter when they are asked to carry the burden of taxation to compensate for losses on government trading concerns. Under this proposal, taxpayers will be asked to provide several millions of pounds for the acquisition of the aircraft and- equipment of the private airlines, and will be obliged to pay additional taxes to make up for any losses that a socialized scheme of air transport will incur. All that could be avoided, if the Government were strong enough to stand up squarely to the demands made by outside influences, and allow private enterprise, under certain governmental controls to which no one objects:, to continue to progress.
The airlines companies provide huge sums of money for Consolidated Revenue Some honorable members stated that the Government is subsidizing’ the airways. If honorable members will view the matter fairly, they will find that the airways are subsidizing the Government, because the Commonwealth ‘Treasury is making a handsome profit from the carriage of air mails. We cannot afford to give up the right to clean and healthy public enterprise, and industrial expansion. We should endeavour to let the healthy breath of competition permeate our industrial and1 economic life. Inefficiency follows political control and interference. Why has not the report of the Inter-departmental Committee on Civil Aviation been made available to honorable members? That committee, which was appointed a considerable time ago to investigate and- report upon civil aviation in this country, consisted of the highest authorities in government aviation administration. Why has the Government hidden the committee’s report? Why have not honorable members been given an opportunity to examine it? ls it an adverse report? I suggest that there is something sinister in the Government withholding the document from honorable members. The report was compiled, by public servants, whose remuneration is provided by taxpayers, and, therefore, honorable members are entitled to know the results of the investigations. I urge the Minister to make that report available in order that honorable members may examine the findings of that eminent committee. One member of it sta.ted publicly not long ago -
Speaking as one with over 44 years’ experience as a civil servant, who for many years held executive positions in two great Commonwealth departments, I say that political interference and control of the detail work of airline operations and management must inevitably lead to disaster arising from delays in decisions, lack of funds provided promptly at the right time, lack of knowledge, and permitting political expediency to override efficient management. Nothing can prevent political interference and disorganization in any industry owned ‘by the government in which untrained and inexperienced Ministers assume the role .of managing directors, and override the advice of trained executives.
No good purpose would be served’ by my repeating the strong case which members of the Opposition have made against this bill. Suffice it if I say “ ditto “ to their remarks. I wholeheartedly support the contentions of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). The Leader of the Opposition, in his comprehensive and effective speech, dealt with the financial side of the civil aviation services, and showed that in the period 1941-44 the total payments made by the Government to the private operators in Australia for developmental purposes and the transport of mails was approximately £1,700,000, but the Post Office received in revenue from air-mail fees £3,100,000, giving to the Government a very substantial’ profit. As I stated, the airways are subsidizing the Government. In the calculation of that figure, the ordinary postage rate of 2½d. a letter was not taken into account. The amount of £3,100,000 represents only the surcharge of 3d. on each airmail letter. In addition, the companies pay approximately £2,000,000 per annum to the Commonwealth treasury by way of company tax, petrol tax, sales tax and primage. If this bill becomes law, all that money will be lost to Consolidated Revenue, and the taxpayers will be required to make up the deficit. Australian airline operators carry mails more cheaply than do any private operators elsewhere in the world, although they are obliged to pay three times as much for their petrol as do the aviation companies in the United States of America.
– Did the honorable member verify that figure?
– Yes, as far as I was able. The Minister will not give me an opportunity to make a complete verification, because he has withheld the interdepartmental report. Until the honorable gentleman will produce that report my information must be regarded as correct.
– The report did not’ deal with that aspect.
– The charge for the conveyance of mails by air was reduced from £1 8s. 6d.- per lb. in 1939-40 to the small figure of 4s. 3d. per lb. in 1943-44. The Department of Civil Aviation last year expended £1,250,000, but received in return from air mail surcharges £1,600,000- a handsome profit.
I desire now to refer briefly to the position in the United States of America, which has set its face resolutely against government ownership of airlines. At a press conference last year, President Roosevelt declared -
I do not want to put the Government in commercial passenger and freight service after the war. I believe all air routes should be operated by private concerns where profitable, and that government operations should be reserved for a few lines operated at a loss purely for communication with new and distant territories.
The United States of America had bitter experience of government intervention in airline operations. In 1934, the late President cancelled the airmail contracts held by private companies, and gave them to the United States Army Air Force. The change had tragic consequences. Within three weeks, a number of aircraft had crashed and pilots and passengers were killed or seriously injured. Congress, which, by 248 votes to 81, had supported the President’s move, became thoroughly alarmed, and demanded a renewal of the commercial contracts. The late President stated that he bad been assured that the Army Air Force could perform the job safely and efficiently. He had bought his experience in a very hard way. Within five weeks of their cancellation, the contracts were renewed with the private companies.
I have no desire to prolong discussion on this measure. I could talk until I was black in the face, but I would accomplish nothing because the Government has its orders and has made up its mind. With its docile majority, it can force this measure through both Houses of Parliament without rhyme or reason. We on this side of the chamber will be beaten not by weight of argument, but by weight of numbers. However, I should like to enumerate for the information of honorable members, some of the rigid controls to which civil airline operators are subject at present. They include the following: -
I am sure that all honorable members and the community generally, after examining these controls, will agree that sufficient authority exists to-day, even for this socialistic Government, to safeguard the interests of the travelling public.
In conclusion, I wish to make brief reference to the wonderful job that private enterprise did at the outbreak of the war with Japan. At that time, Australia was in a very dangerous position. The private airline companies established Australia’s first long-distance air reconnaissance squadron. The Government was unable to do it. Private airline operators carried war supplies and personnel to vital areas in the first crucial hours after Japan struck. Privately owned aircraft, unarmed, removed women and children from Rabaul, landed commandos at Wau, and took medical and food supplies into forward areas. The private airways also carried out maintenance work for the Department of
Aircraft Production. These accomplishments alone represent an important contribution to Australia’s war effort and defence. I hesitate to think of how this country would have fared but for the services rendered by private enterprise. I oppose this measure on the principle that it is wise to let well alone.
.- “We have just listened to an impassioned appeal on behalf of private enterprise by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Guy), who went to great lengths to recount the difficulties faced by Government enterprises, not only in this country, but also in other countries. The speech was typical of many from honorable members opposite, to which we on this side of the chamber have listened; but bitter experience has shown that private enterprise has been found wanting whenever a crisis has faced this nation. It may truly be said that had it not been for government control of, and interference with, private industry during this war, we should not have been able to safeguard the interests of the great body of the Australian people.
Honorable members opposite have argued that, all government enterprises are failures, and the honorable member for Wilmot mentioned a number of undertakings which he claimed had failed under Government direction. Significantly however, he omitted to mention such institutions as the Commonwealth Bank, founded by a Labour government, which has proved to be one of the outstanding banks of its kind in the world. Another undertaking which the honorable member disposed of with a wave of his hand was the Postmaster-General’s Department, which is an excellent example of successful government ownership, control and administration. The honorable member did not mention certain New South Wales Government instrumentalities set up by a Labour government in years gone by. These include the State Brick Works and the State Monier Pipe Works, which proved of great value in keeping building costs down, and fostering the building industry generally. Unfortunately in subsequent years, an anti-Labour government, under the leadership of Sir Bertram Stevens, sold those instrumentalities for a song - sacrificed them at the behest of the financial interests which he represented. In that way government-owned institutions were sabotaged. Their termination was the direct result of the selfish outlook and the dictatorial tendencies of governments representing big financial interests. It is all very well to argue that governmentowned instrumentalities do not pay ; but private enterprises are made pay by ruthless methods. If they are not paying, employees are sacked indiscriminately and forced onto the dole. One of the Opposition’s main objections to wide-scale government enterprises is that under such a system there will not be the surplus of labour which in the past has enabled private employers to dictate to the people of this country where they shall work, how they shall work, and, in fact, whether they shall work at all. Financial interests seek to retain power to force upon the people of this country economic conscription in the guise of free enterprise; but that is an old story, and one for which the people of this country will not fall again. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McLeay), in the course of an address to the Airways Secretariat in Great Britain recently endeavoured to boost private enterprise and decry governmental control by saying -
The introduction of the Airlines Bill is not only going to do a lot of harm to Australia’s credit in the United Kingdom; it is having that effect already.
What a glorious reply we can now make to the honorable senator’s charge. The British elections have produced the greatest political landslide in history. There will now come into office in that country, with the endorsement of a considerable majority of the British people, a government pledged to a policy of nationalization and socialization; a government which will implement measures relating to the heavy industries and the coal-mining industry, far in advance of anything that has been attempted here. The verdict of the British people can be taken as an endorsement of the proposal of the Commonwealth Labour Government to nationalize this great public utility, the airlines. The charges made by the honorable member for Wilmot may be brushed aside, because the trend of political thought to-day is, as the British people have indicated, well away from the conservatism of private enterprise and its representatives in this chamber, towards a more just deal for the people of the world. That is the policy which is being applied in this country by a government which has sufficient courage to nationalize public utilities which should function in the interests of ‘ the majority of the people, rather than of a few privileged individuals. The Labour victory in Britain happily synchronizes with the introduction into this Parliament of a measure to nationalize an important industry. This legisltion is an indication to the British people and to the British Labour movement that we support them in their task of securing a better way of life for the people of the world.
The Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) emphasized in his second-reading speech many matters over which the honorable member for Wilmot passed lightly. I am sure that the Minister will elaborate upon these matters in his reply. Consequently, I shall not deal at length with what the honorable member for Wilmot lias said. However, in answer to the honorable member’s plea for private enterprise, I say that in my view the extension of government control to some of the big monopolies in this country would do much to improve the way of life of the community generally.
Let us consider the reasons for the introduction of this measure. In his second- !reading speech the Minister said that the first consideration should be the ultimate effect of this legislation on the nation, and whether the national ownership of airways was better than a private monopoly. On those fundamental principles the Minister based his case. I congratulate him on the wealth of material that he incorporated in his speech, and on the soundness of his arguments. It cannot be denied that the airways of this country were fast moving towards the monopoly stage. Whether a monopoly is right or wrong is a matter of opinion; views differ largely according to political affiliations. In my opinion, a monopoly is always detrimental to the interests of the people as a whole. In considering -the existence of a monopoly in respect of such a utility as the airlines of Australia, the question arises of whether it is preferable that the monopoly should be in the hands of a government which represents the people and is responsible to the people, or in the hands of private interests.
Honorable members will agree that there should be some standardization of equipment, areodromes, and so on. It may be said that no other business in Australia could more quickly be moulded into a monopoly, and so the issue boil* down to whether a government monopoly is better than a private monopoly. Those who oppose the bill have used the “poor widow” argument, and have tried to show how grievously certain interests would be affected by it. They have told us of what the private companies have done, without any assistance from the Government, to develop Australia, and that the Government’s proposal aims at taking their business from them only after considerable difficulties have been overcome. I shall show how control of civil aviation was moving towards the creation of a huge monopoly. Numerous small companies were gradually absorbed by Australian National Airways Limited, and before long that company would have become another such monopoly as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited or the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. In attacking the creation of a monopoly I say nothing against the efficiency of Australian National Airways Limited. It is generally agreed that the company provides a fairly efficient service. In a publication entitled Wings of To-morrow Clive Turnbull deals with the various stages of aviation development in Australia and gives a number of statistics in connexion with the fleet of Australian National Airways Limited. Indeed, one chapter of the book is entitled The History of the Australian National Airways Fleet. The publication is practically an official account of that company. It shows at some length how the organization gradually absorbed a number of companies. On pages 17 and 18 the writer says -
By the middle of 1936 negotiations had made sufficient progress for the formation of
Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, merging Holymans Airways Proprietary Limited and Adelaide Airways Limited, which had been formed by the Adelaide Steamship Company Limited and the Orient Steam Navigation Company Limited, and was operating services from Adelaide to Melbourne, Broken Hill, Kangaroo Island and Port Lincoln. The new company, registered on July 1, 1936, and beginning operations on November 1, had an authorized capital of £500,000 and a subscribed capital of £250,000, the original subscribers ‘ being Holyman Brothers Proprietary Limited, Huddart Parker Limited, the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand Limited, the Adelaide Steamship Company Limited and the Orient Steam Navigation Company Limited, together with Holymans Airways Proprietary Limited and Adelaide Airways Limited. Mr. J. L. Webb, Captain I. N. Holyman, Mr. A. J. Soutar, Mr. M. G. Anderson and Mr. D. L. Dowell formed the original board of directors, with Mr. Webb as chairman, a position which he occupies to-day . . .
Meanwhile, Airlines of Australia Limited, formed, with the support of British Pacific Trust Limited, for the purpose, among other things, of acquiring the main assets and goodwill of New England Airways Limited, was operating north of Sydney to Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns in Queensland, and to Newcastle in New South Wales - in -September, 1936. it had acquired Rockhampton Aerial Services Limited. In March, 1937, Australian National Airways began negotiations for the, purchase of the interest of British Pacific Trust Limited in Airlines of Australia Limited, as a result of which a controlling interest was acquired. The two companies were now closely associated in a network of airlines extending from Cairns to Perth, although Airlines of Australia Limited continued, for a time, to a operate as a separate company under the management of Mr. G. A. Robinson. Airlines of Australia Limited meanwhile absorbed North Queeusland Airways Proprietary Limited, thus extending the network to Normanton and Burketown and to Horn Island, at the extreme north of Cape York Peninsula . . .
Thus Australian National Airways Limited became one organization, functioning from Horn Island to Perth. From the original Holyman venture, with its one Fox Moth, had sprung the great organization of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, merging in its new form the systems of Tasmanian Aerial Services Proprietary Limited, Holymans Airways Proprietary Limited, Adelaide Airways Limited, West Australian Airways Limited and Airlines of Australia Limited, and, through it, of New England Airways Limited, Rockhampton Aerial Services Limited and North Queensland Airways Proprietary Limited.
It will be seen that a number of smaller companies were gradually absorbed by Australian National Airways Limited.
Some of those companies could not carry on because their services did not pay. But whatever the reason for their absorption, the outstanding fact is that gradually a huge monopolistic combine, which could dictate to the people of this country, was being formed. In 1938 there were sixteen airline companies operating in Australia, but by 1944 only nine of them remained. The Minister gave some interesting information when he referred to the share register of Australian National Airways Limited. I shall not repeat what he said, and I refer to it only to prove how the shipping interests of this country had a dominating influence on the board of directors. The set-up was such that before long the shipping combine would have had complete control of the airways of this country.
Another interesting point which emerges from a study of the share register is that very few persons who were associated with the pioneering of airways in Australia are associated with the combine. The real pioneers of the airways in Australia have passed out of the picture. They have played their part, but not many of them have reaped a fair monetary reward for their services. It may be truly said that the airways of Australia to-day, are in the hands of Australian National Airways Limited and the great shipping interests, and for that reason the Government believes that the monopoly stage has been reached. It proposes to take steps to ensure that the people shall not be exploited by monopolistic companies, but that the airlines of this country shall be operated for the development of Australia and in the interests of the people.
In one of the final efforts to effect the desire of Australian National Airways Limited, for a complete monopoly, an attempt was made to absorb Guinea Airways Limited. It was thought that an amalgamation with Guinea Airways Limited would be a further step in the development of the combine. The Minister stated that for the nine months ended the 31st May, 1945, Australian National Airways Limited had received 85 per cent., representing £1,350,000, of the total subsidy and mail poundage fees paid up to that time. If the merger had been successful, the combine would have received approximately 95 per cent. of the subsidies paid. As the shareholders in Guinea Airways Limited decided that it would pay them better to be compensated by the Government for the acquisition of their service than to join the monopoly, the merger failed, and the company remained a separate organization. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Vegetable Seeds - Commonwealth Disposals Commission : Surplus Military Buildings: Burnie Youth Camp; Tennant Creek Recreation Hut; Alice Springs Country Women’s Association - Acquisition of Land by Aliens - Australian Army Equipment: Criticism by Mr. Rankin, M.P. and Comment by Senator Grant - Mascot Aerodrome.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed-
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I have previously brought to the notice of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) the serious shortage of vegetable seeds, and I now direct the attention of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to the matter. One of the biggest tasks of the primary producers is to provide food for the members of the fighting forces in and near Australia, and for the people of the devastated countries of Europe. But utter chaos prevails in the distribution of vegetable seeds. There are too many unnecessary restraints and prohibitions on the food front already, without adding the muddling and bungling which have occurred in the distribution of vegetable seeds. The Department of Commerce and Agriculture appears to be unaware of the seriousness of the problem, and it has issued most conflicting statements. I particularly direct attention this afternoon to the shortage of cucumber seeds in New South Wales and Queensland. In hot, warm climates like that of Queensland, salad vegetables are extensively used’, and cucumber seed is required now, so that it may be sown in time for the product to be placed on the market when the warm weather begins in September. Throughout southern Queensland, an urgent demand has arisen for this seed, and the reply of the department is that the people should confer in Brisbane with the Vegetable Seeds Committee. Another injustice seems to have been done to Queensland, in that there is no such committee in that State. The growers are told that seed is available in large quantities, but, of total orders for 750 lb., only 15 lb. has been made available. The vegetable growers are up in arms against the department because of its bungling, and urge the abolition of the Vegetable Seeds Committee. On the 21st May, the president of the New South Wales Vegetable Growers Association ordered from the committee in New South Wales, 504 lb. of cucumber seed of the Early Fortune, Custard Apple and Stay-Green varieties, and, although he has repeatedly asked for information as to when the seed will be available, he has not been able to obtain a satisfactory reply.
I have received a letter from the New South Wales Seedsmen’s Association, the president of which is Mr. Hope Martin. He had applied for cucumber seed to the Vegetable Seeds Committee at its Camellia store, and on the 22nd June, although he had ordered 224 lb. of seed, he was supplied with only 20 lb. The total quantity of seed required is nearly 1,000 lb., but it is not possible to obtain any more. Advice was received earlier that a large quantity would reach Australia from America but it is not yet available. In reply to my representations, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture replied that seed could be obtained from the Vegetable Seeds Committee, as well as Brisbane merchants, but neither the committee nor the merchants are able to supply it. He also indicated that large quantities of seed were available, and that supplies of seeds would shortly arrive from the United States of America. None of that seed has yet been distributed. This humbug is most irritating to primary producers, particularly in view of all of the restrictions to which they are now subject. They are unable to obtain sufficient man-power and there is an acute shortage of farm machinery and machine parts, as well as materials, such as timber, required for the casing of vegetables. The Government must give urgent attention to this matter. If these requirements are not met immediately, we shall be short of vegetables in the hot season in both New South “Wales and Queensland. Perhaps, the Minister will be able *to supply an answer when the House meets on Tuesday next in respect of the matters I have raised.
– When the war is over there will be a good deal of property which will be no longer required by the Government. The Commonwealth Disposals Commission has been set up to dispose of such property. From time to time various propositions have been made to me concerning the future use of some of these buildings. Recently, representations were made to me by the Rotary Club of Burnie in connexion with the use of certain units of the Campbelltown Hospital which it is expected will not be needed after the war ends. The club asks that it be permitted to transfer some of those units to a site at Burnie which it has procured as a youth camp. First, the club would like to be given the buildings as a straight-out gift; but if that is not feasible, it proposes that the Commonwealth retain possession of the buildings which will be re-erected on the camp site near Burnie, that the building remain the property of the Commonwealth to be kept in good order by the club and be available immediately for Government purposes in the event of a national emergency, together with such other structures as the club may erect on that site in the meantime. That proposition is sound and sensible. “When there are very many organizations such as this, which are anxious to do community work, I cannot see why the Government should insist upon selling all of these buildings which could be utilized for purposes of the kind I have mentioned. It will be argued, of course, that the purchase price of such structures will not be high; but they are to be put up to auction, and it will be immediately apparent to everybody that .small organi zations in country districts cannot hope to compete with larger and richer organizations in the cities, or with commercial interests, in the purchase of such structures. I ask the Government to give careful consideration to this proposition. I have submitted the particulars to different Ministers each of whom has expressed sympathy with the club’s objective, but has referred me to another Minister. The Supply and Shipping department referred me to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, and the commission said that it had no authority to do as had been suggested. I was then referred to the Army authorities who informed me that it had no policy with regard to any property except to pass it over to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. I urge the Government to consider this matter immediately as a matter of policy in order to let organizations of the kind I have mentioned know where they stand, and also in order to obviate such people of good will, particularly in small centres, being penalized when these properties, which are now obsolete for Government use, are disposed of. These people need encouragement in their good work. Unless some plan be now devised to protect their interests, we shall find that all of these properties will be disposed of by auction and clubs which are doing much good work in the community will be left without help.
– I support the representations made by the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons)”. As the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) is at the table, I shall mention two similar cases in- the Northern Territory which have come to my notice. At Tennant Creek, the Army has vacated a recreation hut which formerly was used by the women’s services. It is not occupied at present. The local sub-branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia has asked to be allowed to purchase that hut at a low price. I suggested to the Army that, in view of the circumstances, the subbranch should be given the hut. Twelve months ago last January, I made similar representations with respect to houses at Alice Springs which belong to some government instrumentality, and which, I understand, will ‘be vacated in the near future. I suggest to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) that one of those houses could be allotted to the local branch of the Country Women’s Association, if not as a gift, at least at a nominal rental of, say, ls. a year. The Minister will agree that the people in those areas have a lot to put up with in normal times, and, owing to the impact of war, have been deprived of many facilities and conveniences which have not been taken from people in southern areas. Many residents at Alice Springs were forced to leave their homes. Therefore, anything that can be done to compensate them should be done. The Minister should be prepared to instruct the Commonwealth Disposals Commission as to what its job really is. After all, the commission is only another government instrumentality. It does not own anything, but simply has the responsibility of disposing of certain property on behalf of departments. For instance, should the Minister for the Army, or the Minister for Air, determine that certain property is not to be disposed of, and instructs the commission accordingly, the commission must obey that instruction. However, up to date, my experience in these matters is similar to that of the honorable member for Darwin. It is a case of one department saying that it cannot do a certain thing, and another department saying that it will not do a certain thing. The result is that no action is taken with respect to our representations. Another case concerns a building in the Mount Barker district in my electorate. An organization has applied to use the building as a school. When the final wash-up in these matters is made, the amount of actual cash which the Government will receive for many of these buildings will be very small, compared with their original cost. In such circumstances it would be far better to allow the buildings to be used for educational or recreational purposes for the benefit of the community concerned than to receive a few shillings for them. I suggest that the time-honoured socialist slogan of the greatest good for the greatest number might well be applied in these cases.
.- 1 should like to refer to the purchase of land by aliens, some of whom are not even naturalized. According to a report in the Numurkah Leader, the secretary of the Shepparton Shire Council, Mr. K. Little, has said that within four miles of Shepparton 106 properties, aggregating 4,011 acres, had been acquired by aliens, and of that area 778 acres was held by persons who had not even become naturalized. I bring this matter forward in the absence of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) in whose electorate these lands are situated. Mr. Little added that half of the properties had been sold since the outbreak of war, which meant that in some cases transfers to people with whose country Australia was at war had been approved. Returned soldiers’ associations have fought this matter of alien ownership ever since the war started. I have received a number of communications from servicemen’s organizations on this subject. Here is one of them -
Thousands of acres of the most productive and best situated land in the agricultural districts of Victoria have been bought by newcomers to this country. The returned soldier has no quarrel with those who are non-British born and who have been lawfully admitted to this country. On the contrary, the returned soldier is a strong advocate for a vigorous policy of well-planned immigration; but he does quarrel with a system which permits these people (or ally other person) to take advantage of the absence of our servicemen and buy up select areas of rich land - the very same land for which battles have been and are still being fought, to protect.
It is high time the Government took serious notice of the position. I do not say that these aliens are necessarily antiBritish, but a number of them came here under suspicion, and were for a time internees. They have acquired land, either in their own names or through dummies. They are acquiring land in the high rainfall and irrigation areas, eminently suitable for soldier settlement. When in one small area of 4,000 acres near a town, 778 acres is held by aliens, persons not even citizens of this country, the time for action has arrived.
The second matter to which I wish to refer is a personal one. Recently, Senator Grant saw fit to attack me for a statement I made during the debate on Army equipment. The only thing that surprises me is his impertinence. I take this opportunity to place the facts before the House. In the course of my speech on Army equipment I said -
I know General Blarney to be a proved strategist, both in the war of 1914-18 and in this war; he also is a tactician of the first order. I remind the House that he has had many successes, and I shall give some of the reasons for them. First, General Blarney has great soldierly knowledge and ability. Secondly, he was sufficiently courageous to deal ruthlessly with people who at one stage of the last war showed that they had no soldierly knowledge, and no sympathy with soldiers’ problems. Thirdly, he dealt ruthlessly with our American Allies. Americans like to have their own way, and they take a lot of handling. They are inclined to be arrogant and to take what they want, leaving the other fellow with what is left. General Blarney has shown great ability, not only as a soldier and tin administrator, but also by his capacity to deal with outside sections. For those reasons, I have been definitely behind him; and I believe that we cannot possibly improve the present situation by substituting some one else for him.
Senator Grant claimed that I had said that the Americans -were selfish, I never used that word. It may be true that they are. My statement aroused the interest of Senator Grant, who, on the 10th May, addressed these questions to the Minister representing the Minister for information -
Senator Ashley replied on the 27th June ;
When1 Senator Grant singled me out for attack, three other members of this House were mentioned, namely, the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), and the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). I take this opportunity to give to honorable members the full text of the Singapore radio broadcast picked up in Melbourne on the 28th April -
The fact that the Japanese forces in the Southern Pacific are still a threat to Australia was stressed by Australian Navy Minister Makin on Friday in a parliamentary debate. He emphasized that these should b? moved as soon as possible. Sir Earle Page accused the Australian Government of lack of wisdom in bringing back two divisions to become, from a military point of view, inactive, instead of remaining in action on the Burma Road or .Ceylon. Former ‘Prime Minister, Mr. Robert Menzies, declared that the use of Australian troops on islands in the South-West Pacific, which are of no strategic importance for Australia, -was wrong. Country party representative Rankin, commenting on the American soldiers, declared that the latter are proud and like to have their own way. They take all they want, he said, and the other fellow can have what is left.
Senator Grant said’, that members of the American forces, fighting under the worst conditions at Okinawa, would not be pleased to hear that an Australian majorgeneral in this Parliament had described them as selfish and out to take everything for themselves. He added : “ If such statements are not ‘ fifth column ‘ propaganda,I do not know what is “. A review of the honorable senator’s own record should convince us that he is a good judge of such matters. He said, further, that my statement had lowered the prestige of Parliament, and was not true. I have had a fair amount to do with the Americans, both in this war and in the last, and I am. a better judge than is Senator Grant of whether my statement was true. However, in order to show how well qualified the honorable senator is to debate such matters, let me quote a little of his record.
The Sydney press of the 2nd May, 1921, contained reports of a May Day meeting held on the previous day in the Sydney Domain. At this meeting, according to the Sydney Morning Herald -
A disgraceful scene marked the celebration of May Day in the Domain yesterday afternoon when a portion of the Union Jack was placed on the end of a pole and burned; the rest of it was torn to shreds, strewn on the ground and trampled on. Mr. Kilburn, an official of the Bricklayers Union was addressing the gathering at the time. Mr. Donald Grant made an appeal for funds for the Brookfield Memorial.
A further meeting of socialists in common with the May Day celebrations was held in the Town Hall that night, and the Sydney Morning Herald reported -
Mr. Donald Grant, one of the released twelve I.W.W. men, referred to the scene in the Domain and expressed pleasure at what had occurred.
This is the man who worries about the people defending us although they are not our own men.
The Daily Telegraph report of the occurrences described what took place at both meetings and repeated the substance of Donald Grant’s remarks at the Town Hall, as reported in the following extract from that paper: -
Donald Grant declared that60,000 Australian soldiers had died in the war. He was glad they had died. They went away to the war and died; they should have known better.
This is the man with the impertinence to attack honorable members who had taken the same risk as has been taken by our Allies in the present war.
The Sun newspaper of the same date significantly contained an explanation and attempted justification of the disloyal utterances and events of the previous day in the name of Mr. J. S. Garden, secretary of the Trades and
Labour Council. This is the “ Jock “ Garden, who for years was prominently connected, with every outbreak of industrial lawlessness in Australia, and will be remembered for his communistic utterances at various times. Mr. Garden was a liaison officer appointed by the Curtin Government and acted as a “ go- between “ for that Government and the trade unions. Mr. Garden, in keeping with his general history, said -
The Union Jack, together with other purely national flags, represents the flag of capitalism.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- On the 26th July, 1945, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) asked me a question in relation to the Mascot Aerodrome. I have made inquiries at the Department of the Interior into the matter, and the position is as follows: -
There are no differences between the Department of Civil Aviation (the requisitioning department), Central Hirings Committee, or the Department of the Interior in respect to the price or value of the land to be acquired.
The land required for the extension is now the subject of a possession order under the National Security (General) Regulations, issued by the Central Hirings Committee. This possession order was obtained to enable the Commonwealth legally to enter into occupation for the purpose of commencing work prior to the acquisition.
However, the major portion of the required land is used as a market garden by the owner (Mr. B. C. Greetham) who on the advice of his solicitor (Mr. K. Gunn) has refused to vacate the property. Several conferences have already been held with Greetham’s solicitor by representatives of the Central Hirings Committee and the Department of the Interior. Mr. Greetham is asking a price of £7,000 whereas the Commonwealth valuations are about £5,000. The owner is also asking that the Treasury should give its approval to his purchase of another property.
A conference of all parties concerned was arranged for yesterday afternoon at 4 p.m. and I am awaiting the result.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 111.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes - Clapham Junction, Queensland.
National Security Act -
National Security (Emergency Control) Regulations -
Order - Papua and New Guinea (Control of prohibited articles) (No. 2).
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, Nos. 108, 109, 110.
House adjourned at 4.14 p.m.
Thefollowinganswers to questions were circulated: -
Sicknessand Unemployment Benefits.
Meat Industry: Stock Wastage Due to Strikes.
Local Government Bodies: Manpower, Machinery and Materials.
– On the 3rd July, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) asked whether complaints had been received that combat-fatigued noncommissioned officers sent to the mainland for vacational reasons were required to serve under non-commissioned officers of equivalent rank who had never seen service outside their home State. He also asked whether non-commissioned officers sent to the mainland in these circumstances lost their chances of promotion.
These matters have now been investigated and I am able to advise the honorable member, in reply to the first part of his question, that no complaint is known to have been received in regard to noncommissioned officers who are sent from combat areas to the mainland having to serve under non-commissioned officers of similar rank who have never left their home State. In reply to the second part of the question, non-commissioned officers and others can receive promotion only within the war establishment of the unit to which they are posted. If this were not so, endless confusion as to entitlement to promotion and seniority would arise. Non-commissioned officers on the posted strength of a unit serving in a combat area, who are sent on recreation leave to the mainland, remain on the posted strength of their unit, and accordingly remain eligible for promotion therein. Non-commissioned officers who are trans ferred to a mainland unit under any scheme for the relief of long-service personnel must necessarily be taken off the posted strength of the units in the combat area to which they were originally posted, in order that reinforcements can be made available to such units, and are therefore no longer eligible for promotion in those units. It wall be realized that it would be very unfair to soldiers still serving in .units in combat areas if they were deprived of the chance of promotion in favour of personnel who have returned to the mainland. Those who return to the mainland are, however, eligible for promotion in their new unit, and every consideration is given to troops with operational experience when promotions are made.
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1. (a) 6; (6) 1. 2. (a) Bagots Executor and Trustee Company Limited, as executor of estate of H. M. Bathern; Bryan Bowman; L. M. Bloomfield, R. D. McEwen and H. J. Bloomfield (3); Thomas John guilty; (6) executors of estate of J. C. H. Schmidt. 3. (o) The terms of renewal are set out in Commonwealth Gazettes Nos. 109, 119 and 173, dated 1st June, 1944, 3rd June, 1943, and 31st August, 1944, respectively. It was necessary to advertise these lands available for leasing in the Commonwealth Gazette, as the former leases had expired by effluxion of time; (6) on the same terms and conditions as the original lease which expires on the 30th June. 1965.
Australian Forces: Releases - Treatment of Repatriated Prisoners of War.
y. - On the 20th July, the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) asked a question relating to the release of men from the services for primary production.
Rough estimates made from service statistics indicate that from the 54,000 men to be released from the services (other than the 10,000 men to be dis charged on occupational grounds), comprising long-service men, prisoners of war, surplus air crew and air crew trainees, approximately 5,000 will return to rural industries. In addition, it has been estimated that a considerable number of men discharged on routine grounds will also return to rural industries during this half year. It will be appreciated that of the 10,000 men to be released on the recommendation of man-power on occupational grounds it will be essential to ensure that a large proportion will be for housing and transport. The position, however, with regard to primary production is being watched carefully, and if it is found that substantial numbers are not returning to rural industries from sources other than occupational releases it may be necessary to give consideration to increasing the number of occupational releases. ifr. Harrison asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 July 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450727_reps_17_184/>.