17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to the decision of the Government of the United Kingdom to introduce in the House of Commons before December, legislation for the nationalisation of the coal-mining industry? Will the right honorable gentleman consider the need for similar action in Australia?
– Doubtless, it would be possible for the Commonwealth Government to nationalize the coal-mining industry during the period of the war, under National Security Regulations. How long those regulations will continue to operate, cannot be forecast. Normally, the Commonwealth has not the constitutional power to take such action, and for that reason the matter has not been favorably considered. Our experience in regard to coal production has not been the happiest, even during the great stress of war.
Working Conditions of Troops in Timor - Food Supplies at Balikpapan - Japanese Prisoners of War - Occupation of Japan.
– Has the Prime Minister read in yesterday’s Sydney Sun the report that in Timor Japanese soldiers, by agreement with the Allied Commander, are working a five-hour day and enjoy easy conditions, whereas Australian soldiers are working slavishly on fatigue duties? Will the right honorable gentleman have these allegations investigated, and inform the House as soon as practicable of what action has been taken to correct such an intolerable state of affairs? Will he also, as head of the Government, issue a directive to General Blarney to bring to trial all Japanese war criminals in Australia and occupied territories, and impose on them such conditions as will make Japan realize that, having lost the war, it is not to win an easy peace?
– I read in yesterday’s press the statement that the Japanese on Timor were working a limited number of hours, and that Australian troops were required to work much harder. I am unable to say whether or not there is any truth in the statement, but I shall have an inquiry made by the appropriate Minister, and inform the honorable member of the facts. It has been made clear that the Government is anxious to ensure that all of those Japanese who were responsible for the unspeakable brutalities inflicted on Australian prisoners of war shall be punished. However, this has to be done through the proper channels and in the correct way. There has been no deviation from the policy already announced.
– What is being done in regard to the incident on Nauru Island?
– That occurredat some considerable distance from the incident upon which the question of the honorable member for Wentworth was based.
– I also referred to action in territories occupied by Australian troops.
– The honorable member may rest assured that the Government is pressing the matter continuously.
– I preface a question which I address to the Minister for the Army by quoting the following extract from a general routine order recently issued to troops at Balikpapan : -
Non-arrival of refrigerated cargo to this area is causing much discontent among personnel and unwarranted criticism of the Australian Military Forces. In order to clarify the position the following information is advised. Two refrigerator vessels have been assigned to Balikpapan and were on berth in Sydney on the 13th July, and the 15th August, respectively. Owing to labour troubles, these vessels have not yet completed loading. The estimated time of departure from Sydney is now the 2nd September, and the estimated time of arrival in Balikpapan is late September.
Is it a fact that these vessels have been held up for the causes mentioned? Is it also a fact that troops in this area have not been supplied with fresh food since about the end of June? Can the Minister say whether the vessels have left Sydney,and what action is the Government taking to speed up the supply of fresh food to troops in this area?
– On receipt of a similar complaint yesterday, I rang the QuartermasterGeneral, Major-General Cannan, who told me that for some time fresh meat could not be made available to troops at Baliknapan, but that the necessary refrigeration plant had since been obtained and fresh food was now being provided to the troops in that area. Evidently, there was some delay in getting refrigeration plant up to Balikpapan, but I have now been informed that the plant has been installed there. It is my wish, and the wish of the army authorities, that the very best food procurable should be supplied to troops in distant areas.
– Pending the sending back of enemy prisoners1 to their home lands, will the Prime Minister cause an investigation to be made as to the strength of the Army engineering units to be retained permanently, and their location and functions in peace, and will he state whether it is the intention of the Government to use the labour of Japanese prisoners of war with such engineering units in the jungles of Papua and New Guinea for the purpose of building roads, bridges, and aerodromes, and clearing land? rebuilding towns, villages, &c, thus making them earn their food while being usefully employed?
– A question was asked last week regarding the employment of Japanese prisoners of war pending their return to Japan. I said then that the Government was extremely, anxious to have all prisoners of war returned to their home countries as soon as possible. This will bp a difficult problem, according to information supplied to me by a representative of Lord Louis Mountbatten’s South-east Asia Command who visited Australia recently, because of the shortage of shipping accommodation. The question of whether these prisoners could or should be used has not been considered yet. It will require some examination in relation to the international convention dealing with prisoners of war, although I understand that it has been ruled that they are not strictly prisoners of war, but surrendered enemy forces. The point raised by the honorable member will be considered in conjunction with other Allied nations.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the statement attributed to General MacArthur that the army of occupation in Japan will be reduced to 200,000 in the near future? If the statement is correct, will he take steps to see that the quota of Australian troops in this army is reduced accordingly?
– I have seen a statement purporting to have been made by General MacArthur that the occupation forces in Japan will be reduced at some unspecified date to 200,000. I understand that there has been some difference of opinion in the United States of America as to whether this would be an adequate army of occupation, in view of developments that might take place. 1 am unable to say whether the statement was made by General MacArthur or whether a force of 200,000 would be regarded by the United States Government as being an adequate army of occupation. The matter referred to in the second portion of the honorable member’s question will be examined.
Demobilization - Releases - Statement by Army “ Spokesman
– by leave - Previously it was announced that the demobilization plan which was recently placed before the House would operate from not later than the 1st October. “J now inform the House of the further steps decided upon by the Government to give effect to the speedy and orderly demobilization of the armed forces. First, while the demobilization plan proper will not operate until the 1st October, substantial releases are already taking place. These include not only Jong-service personnel whose release was decided upon before the end of the war, but also large numbers of men selected on occupational grounds, whose early release is necessary for the rapid rereestablishment of civil production, so as to ensure the ready absorption of their fellow servicemen and women when demobilization proper gets under way. Every effort is being made to speed these releases, and the services are arranging the discharge of all personnel nominated by the Director-General of Man Power, except where the member concerned is a key man in the carrying out of remaining commitments of the services. It is estimated that discharges are now proceeding at the rate of about 36,000 a month. A review has been made of the numbers who are surplus to the requirements of the services in the light of their present commitments, and it has been tentatively estimated that 250,000 men will become redundant in all theatres before the end pf January. The rate at which these men can be made available in their home States for demobilization, is however, dependent upon transport facilities actually available. On the basis of transport already in sight, at least 1.70,000 men will be made available for demobilization, but should the measures being taken by the Government to obtain additional transport from overseas be successful, the number will be increased substantially. The Government has decided, therefore, to approve, as the first stage of demobilization, the release of 200,000 men from the services, made up as follows: Royal Australian Navy, 10,000; Australian Military Forces, 1.35,000; Royal Australian Air Force, 55,000.
It is expected that the machinery established for handling these discharges will be capable of releasing the numbers available without undue delays. I remind the House that the demobilization plan adopted by the Government provides that as soon as members of the forces are available in their home States for release, they will be enabled to proceed to their homes to await recall to the dispersal centres. They will be recalled as soon as the dispersal centres are in a position to carry out the requisite discharge and re-establishment action for them. The living-out period will be the shortest consistent with the regulation of the flow of men through the dispersal centres in accordance with the plan. During the living-out period the men, although still members of the forces, will be free to seek employment, and in other ways to commence their own rcestablishment in civil life. In approving 200,000 releases as the first stage of demobilization, Cabinet instructed that the demobilization authority should aim to complete this stage during January, 1946. The Government recently announced its intention to appoint a Co-ordinator of Demobilization and Dispersal. It has now been decided to offer this position tn Lieutenant-General Savige, whose appointment the Government believes will ensure the smooth working of the demobilization plan in the interests of the servicemen.
– I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction whether the 00-ordinator of Demobilization and Dispersal will be given overriding power with regard to man power releases in view of the fact that the Man Power Directorate has limited discretion in respect of releases? Will the Government also follow up the appointment of a Co-ordinator of Demobilization and Dispersal by appointing a co-ordinator of re-employment in order to assist those displaced in war industries and also to direct ex-service personnel to industry for which they are most suited?
– The Co-ordinator of Demobilization and Dispersal will have adequate power to ensure that a steady flow of demobilizations shall be maintained in accordance with the Government’s plan. I shall examine the point as to whether he will have power to override the Man Power Directorate in the exercise of his discretion. I am not aware that the Man Power Directorate lacks the power to ensure that its wishes are carried out. I shall also examine the matter raised in the latter part of the honorable member’s question, but I point out that officers of the Department of Labour and National Service will be in attendance at all demobilization centres, and they will be capable of dealing with all matters of re-employment which may be raised by service personnel upon their demobilization.
– Three months ago 1 asked a question in this House regarding a statement made by an anonymous Army spokesman in reply to certain remarks that had been made by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). I now ask the Minister for the Army the reason for the long delay in replying to my question. Is this delay to be taken as an indication that efforts are being made to shield the officer responsible? Will the Minister give me a complete answer without further delay?
– So many questions artasked that it is difficult to remember a question put three months ago, particularly as the honorable gentleman has not indicated the name of the officer, or officers, concerned. If he will give me a copy of the question, I shall obtain a reply for him without delay.
RETURN of Evacuees.
– Yesterday I received from the Minister for the Army a letter stating - lt is also regretted that the Commonwealth is not in a position to undertake any financial responsibility in regard to civilians returning to their homes in evacuated areas.
The evacuated area in this case is Darwin. Am I to assume that civilians who were forced to leave their homes under government order, at two or three hours’ notice, are now to be obliged to return to their dwellings at their own expense?
– I shall have the matter reviewed in consultation with my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, and furnish a reply as soon as possible.
Prime Minister’s Statement - Department of Munitions
– When does the Prime Minister expect to make his promised statement on the views of the Government regarding certain features of the public accounts for the financial year 1944-45 to which the Auditor-General directed some adverse criticism in his report? The information would be of value to honorable members when the Estimates are being discussed.
– Does the honorable gentleman say that I promised to make a general statement regarding the Auditor-General’s criticism?
– The right honorable gentleman promised to reply to that criticism.
–If I promised to do so, I shall furnish a statement, but I cannot say that it will completely satisfy the honorable member. I had assumed that during the debate on various items these matters would come up for discussion. T shall see whether I can let the honorable member have a statement regarding it.
– Is the Minister for Munitions aware that, in the printed copies of the Auditor-General’s report now available to honorable members, there are seven and a half pages of references to the Department of Munitions, including trenchant criticism of account ancy methods, administration, and extravagances? Has the Minister any explanation to give to the House? If not, will he arrange to make a full reply in the House to the comments of the Auditor-General, which reflect very adversely upon his administration?
– I have not seen the Auditor-General’s report. When I have an opportunity to do so I shall certainly see that any comments which call for answers shall be adequately answered.
– Will the Minister foi Post-war Reconstruction endeavour to ensure the maximum production of sporting ammunition in order to absorb as many as possible of the employees in munitions factories?
– I am not quite sure what department handles this matter, but I shall take it up with the appropriate Minister in order to see that the honorable member’s suggestion is given effect as far as possible.
– In view of the Minister’s statement on Thursday that the Commonwealth and States had formulated a housing policy, and that there was no necessity to call another conference, can he explain why, according to the press, an interstate conference of all sections of the building trade was called by his colleague, the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction, but was postponed indefinitely? Is it also a fact, as stated by the President of the Building Industry Congress of Victoria, Mr. Doyle, that a conference of Commonwealth and State housing officers recently recommended that Commonwealth control should continue on about 80 building materials and fittings? Is the postponement of this conference and the continuance of controls to be taken as an indication that the Government has no housing policy?
– The Government has a housing policy which is being operated in conjunction with the States. Tt is true that a conference .was called by the officials of the Department of Postwar Reconstruction, but after the recent Premiers Conference it was abandoned because there no longer was any need to hold it. It was decided at the Premiers Conference, that after the 1st November, the State authorities would control the distribution of building materials within their own States, with the exception of roofing iron, and other materials, which are manufactured in only one or two of the eastern States. These, it was decided, would be controlled by the Commonwealth in order to ensure equitable distribution between the States. This arrangement is now in operation, and will continue while there is a shortage of materials. I desire to impress upon the honorable member that, notwithstanding what he may read in the newspapers or hear elsewhere, the Government has a definite housing policy, and if he will travel about the country he will see the houses being built.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that primary producers are alarmed at the protracted negotiations between Australia and the United States of America concerning the future of £20,000,000 of lend-lease machine tools and equipment now located in thiscountry for which other countries are reported to be competing? Has he seen the report in to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald that representatives of canning interests have declared that the Government’s failure to announce any agreement on the future of lend-lease equipment is threatening all future programmes in the field?
– Yesterday, in reply to a question on this matter by the honorable member for Flinders, I explained that negotiations have been proceeding for some time with regard to the purchase, probably under some form of cash payment, of machine tools supplied under lend-lease, and that the British Government had reached a purchase agreement providing for various discounts having regard to the value of the tools concerned. I also mentioned that an officer of the Division of Import Procurement was despatched abroad about two months ago to endeavour to finalize arrangements in this matter. The honorable member will understand that it takes two people to make an agreement. Therefore, we have to reach an agreement with the American authorities as to these machine tools. The matter is being pursued, but I must say that the other negotiations that have taken place as the result of the cancellation of lend-lease have impeded discussions about the tools. However, the honorable gentleman can rest assured that everything possible will be done to speed the conclusion of the negotiations.
– In view of the altered position in relation to the availability of doctors in the near future will the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Social Services give consideration to the early repeal of the regulations setting up the Medical Coordination Committee with the object of making it possible for doctors to establish themselves in various centres without restriction?
– The Minister for Health and Social Services is abroad, but, I shall ask the Director-General of Health, Dr. McCallum, what he thinks can be done. The advice we have received in regard to the release of individual doctors from the forces is that it is more difficult now than ever. No doctor is allowed to leave the forces owing to the great amount of work involved in dealing with released prisoners of war.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether it is considered that there will be a high incidence of tuberculosis amongst returned prisoners of war following their emaciation due to improper diet while in Japanese prison camps? If so, what action is his department taking to provide additional sanatorium accommodation in each of the States?
– I have no idea how many rescued prisoners-of-war have tuberculosis. Until they are discharged they are under the control of the service in which they are enlisted.
– But the Repatriation Department has to make provision for their treatment after they have been discharged.
– Yes; we are making provision for them in every State. During the war the Department of Repatriation did not have ft very high priority, but we have not neglected our duty. We have added two new wards to the Lady Davidson Home. For a while we could not get staff for one of the new wards, but we have had a better run lately, and we are now able to staff it. The Kenmore Sanitorium will be opened in Queensland next Monday. We are opening another sanitorium in South Australia. We have made arrangements to cooperate with the Government of Western Australia in operating the Wooroloo Sanitorium. So we have made every possible provision to meet the needs of tubercular ex-prisoners of war and exservicemen generally. All honorable gentlemen are perturbed about the conditions under which prisoners of war lived during their captivity, but we are doing everything possible to ensure that they shall be adequately treated.
– Is it a fact that no provision is made in the Reestablishment and Employment Act for Australian Women’s Land Army personnel? Is the Minister aware that general demobilization of servicemen is likely to be too late to provide sufficient labour for the’ forthcoming harvest, thus preventing the immediate release of Land Army personnel, and that parents are expressing great dissatisfaction because Land Army girls are being held in a service which offers no post-war rights, whilst thousands of members of women’s auxiliary services who have reestablishment rights wre being released to the labour market? To correct this injustice, will the Minister recommend to the Government that service in the Australian Women’s Land Army be proclaimed as war service under the provisions of the Re-establishment and Employment Act?
– It is true that under the re-establishment legislation members of the Australian Women’s Land Army are not entitled to certain benefits; but if I remember ‘ the debate upon the measure correctly, the opinion of the Opposition was that these benefits should be confined strictly to service men and women. However, the question of extending benefits to members of the Land; Army is under consideration at presentIn regard to the supply of labour for the forthcoming harvest, whilst it is true that under the demobilization plan some of the men will not be released in time to engage in harvesting operations, I am confident that arrangements will be made by my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service to ensure that by agreement with the services, adequate man power shall be made available.
– Have manufacturers of superphosphate in Australia approached the Prime Minister with a request that when supplies of phosphatic rock again become available from Ocean Island and Nauru,, the Government should subsidize th<accumulation in Australia of sufficient phosphatic rock to meet the country’s requirements for from three to five years so that in any future emergency, our primary producers will not be deprived of superphosphate as has been the case during this war ? If so, has the Government given consideration to the request, and what has been the result?
– I have no recollection of any such representations havingbeen made, but I am prepared to giveconsideration to the matter. I ask thai further questions be placed on the noticepaper.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 19th September(vide page 5642).
Remainder of proposed vote, £219,500..
– We should have some explanation from Mr. Speaker (Mr. Rosevear) in regard to the travelling expenses of” that honorable gentleman which have been referred to by the Auditor-General in his annual report. In these days, we are accustomed to the piling up of travelling expenses. In this instance, however, . their magnitude has been such that the-
Auditor-Generalhas seen fit to comment rather severely on the amount and the method by which they were met. A calculation produces the result that the amount of £1,233 for the 274 days of a nine months’ period is exactly £4 10s. a day, and for the 273 days in the next nine months the costs represent practically the same daily rate. The first interesting comment that I make is that this average of £4 10s. a day occurs with consistent regularity. On the basis of5½d. a mile, which I believe to be the official charge, it represents a distance travelled of from 180 to 190 miles a day. Even King Solomon, when he had Pharoah’s daughter and the Queen of Sheba in his train, could not have received a travelling expense so high as that, even had he had a motor ear run on a spirit on which was charged a much higher duty than is paid on petrol. I have no doubt that Mr. Speaker has a fitting explanation to offer. No man who has ever occupied the Chair has been able to submit such an unanswerable case onany point raised as has the honorable member for Dalley since his assumption of that office.
. -I support the observations of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), because I have been rather concerned about the criticism of the Auditor-General in this connexion. As a matter of fact, I raised the matter on an earlier occasion. As the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin) has not read the Auditor-General’s criticism of his department, possibly Mr. Speaker is in a similar position. Therefore, I propose to enlighten him. I make this quotation from page 13 of the Auditor-General’s report -
Claims for £1,233 in 1943-44 were made against the Department of Supply and Shipping for expenditure on transport of the Honorable the Speaker for the period 1st July, 1943, to 19th March, 1944, and for £1,229 for the period 20th March to 31st December, 1944. Mr. Rosevear (the Honorable the Speaker) is Controller of Leather and Footwear.
Though the Department of Supply and Shipping met the accounts for £1,233 from 1 943-44 votes,payment of the subsequent charge for £1,229 was refused for the reason that- “ the mileage represented by these accounts cannot be regarded as transport undertaken by Mr. Rosevear in the course of his duties as Controller of Footwear and the acceptance by this Department of debits from the Department of the Interior would result in our appropriations being debited with amounts which were not incurred on the business of this Department.”
The claim for £1,229 has since been met from Division 9, Item 1. - Conveyance of Members of Parliament and others.
Regarding the accounts for £1,233, I have expressed the opinion that this debit in 1943-44 to the votes for Supply and Shipping was incorrect. In the circumstances the vote in question was not available and applicable to meet the claim accepted by the department in 1943-44 for expenditure on transport for the Honorable the Speaker. No advice has been received of any action proposed to correct the position.
That is the point that I take. I have no doubt that Mr. Speaker will be able to explain why certain transport charges incurred by him as Controller of Leather and Footwear were met from the vote for the conveyance of members of Parliament and others when, according to the Auditor-General, another department disclaimed responsibility for them. I do not regard that as satisfactory. Possibly the provision of transport facilities for the honorable member for Dalley as Mr, Speaker are chargeable to the vote for the conveyance of members of Parliament and others. What does the AuditorGeneral mean by the statement, “No advice has been received of any action proposed to correct the position”? Surely, that officer should have received some advice in reply to hiscriticism. Possibly the matter can be explained satisfactorily. The amount is large, and maybe it should be charged to the vote for the conveyance of members of Parliament and others. If so, the AuditorGeneral ought to be advised to that effect. He is a responsible officer, who was appointed to audit the public accounts. Yet a responsible Minister has not taken the trouble to read the criticism which the Auditor-General has levelled against his department, and no advice has been tendered as to action proposed to correcta state of affairs which he has criticized. Some explanation is due to the committee as to why he has been treated in such a cavalier fashion.
– I do not think it can be denied that the charges for the transport of members of Parliament have been considerably increased. That is readily explainable by the extreme difficulties associated with transport, and the numerous sittings of the Parliament. Members generally hold the view that they ought to be provided with much better transport facilities to enable them to attend the sittings of the Parliament than those that now exist. Constantly, requests have been made to me as Prime Minister or Treasurer for the improvement of those facilities. On a couple of occasions, Ministers travelling to Canberra have had to sit up all night, and then attend a Cabinet meeting on the following morning and the sitting of the Parliament in the afternoon and night. There is justification for the provision of better travelling facilities. Members of the Opposition have made requests on these lines, and I have endeavoured to meet them as far as possible.
The matter raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) largely resolves itself into whether the transport charges that he mentioned were chargeable to one vote or another. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) has performed the duties of Controller of Leather and Footwear in a purely honorary capacity. Had it been necessary to appoint an outside person to the position, a fairly high salary would have had to be paid for work which the honorable member for Dalley did very ably. His success in that connexion has been admitted by the manufacturers and employees in the boot trade. There has been some difference of opinion as to whether the amount should be charged to the vote for the conveyance of members of Parliament, or to the Department of Supply and Shipping - under which the Controller of Leather and Footwear operates. That matter has been rectified, and the travelling expenses of Mr. Speaker, who is no longer Controller of Leather and Footwear, are charged to the parliamentary vote. The Government has not shown any disrespect to the Auditor-General. On the contrary, every Minister has treated him with the utmost respect. As Treasurer, I can say that when reports and advice from the Auditor-General have come before me I have always tried to act in accordance with his wishes, so that he might give a proper certificate in respect of all expenditure. I want honorable members to dismiss from their minds any idea that Ministers ignore the Auditor-General.
– I appreciate the attempt of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to explain away the criticism that has been offered regarding certain expenses, but surely Mr. Speaker himself, who is now in the chamber, should offer an explanation of the matter. An amount of about £154 a month or approximately £38 a week is not an inconsiderable sum to charge for travelling expenses. I am not satisfied with the explanation of the Prime Minister, and submit that, by virtue of his office, Mr. Speaker should give a full explanation to the committee. The Auditor-General states that this expenditure was not incurred by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) in his capacity as Controller of Footwear, and therefore the costs must have been incurred by him in some other capacity. Mr. Speaker himself should explain the item.
.- While this subject is under consideration, it would be well to give some thought to more modern methods of travel by members of Parliament. Now that the war has ended many aeroplanes of the Royal Australian Air Force ‘will no longer be required; moreover, qualified pilots will be available. In the United States of America it has been shown that air travel is cheaper than train travel, and, of course, it is much faster. As members from distant States are away from their constituencies for long periods when Parliament is in session, the provision of better travelling facilities would enable them to visit their electorates more frequently and to keep in closer touch with their constituents. For them train travel is slow and arduous. Australia is’ a country admirably suited for ‘ air transport, and I hope that consideration will be given to my suggestion.
– The travelling expenses of Mr. Speaker call for an explanation by him. I submit, with respect, that the Prime Minister is not in a position to answer for Mr. Speaker in this matter; the presiding officer is responsible to the Parliament in a sense in which no Prime Minister can be responsible. The onus is on the occupant of the Chair to give an. explanation of this item. I am sure that he is in a position to do so, and, unless he has changed considerably, I believe that his explanation would be satisfactory. People outside the Parliament are more curious about this and similar matters than are honorable members themselves, because we have more intimate knowledge of these things than the general public can have. The reputation of the Parliament will suffer unless Mr. Speaker explains this item. I ask him to do so. Should he not do so, he might consider amending the prayer with which he opens our proceedings daily by adding after the words, “ Give us this day our daily bread “ the words “ and pay us our travelling expenses”. At this stage, I do not suggest that that alteration be made, but I hope that we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that this ghost has been laid.
.- If Mr. Speaker does not propose at this stage to answer the criticism of certain travelling expenses that have been incurred he may do so later. I did not hear all the remarks of the honorable member for “Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), but I thought that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) expressed his views temperately, especially when he said that he believed that Mr. Speaker’s explanation would be satisfactory to every honorable member. From private discussions which have taken place in regard to this matter I am convinced that Mr. Speaker has an answer to this criticism which will satisfy honorable members, and, therefore, I think that he will do a disservice to himself, as well as to the parliamentary institution, should he not dispel the cloud of suspicion which hangs over the presiding officer of this chamber. For that reason, I urge him to comply with the request for an explanation of this item of expenditure. I remind him that the criticism has not emanated from some irresponsible chatterer, or even from a representative of a newspaper noted for sensationalism, but has come from the officer appointed by the Parliament to investigate the public accounts, and to comment on any item of expenditure which he considers calls for comment. Should Mr. Speaker not make an explanation, there is an obligation on the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and his colleagues to answer the criticism of the Auditor-General. However, the person who should make the explanation is Mr. Speaker himself. From a narrow party political point of view, the Opposition would reap some advantage should an explanation not be forthcoming, but in a spirit of friendliness I urge Mr. Speaker, in the interests of the parliamentary institution, not to remain silent, but rather. to make an explanation which I am confident would satisfy the committee.
.-^1 have waited to hear what might be said on this subject by members of the Opposition, but I am still unable to understand what they want to know. Hearing them talk, one would think that the House or the Speaker were under a cloud. Three considerations are involved. First, whether the Speaker, as the presiding officer in this House, should enjoy the privilege of using an official car, as do the Speakers of all other Australian Parliaments, and as . all previous Speakers of this Parliament have done.
– The Speaker is surely entitled to that.
– Then it is clear that honorable members opposite recognize that the Speaker of this House and the President of the Senate should have the privilege that is enjoyed by the presiding officers of every other Parliament of the Commonwealth.
– But why should the cost have been charged to the Department of Supply and Shipping?
– There is an explanation for that. I am the first resident of New South Wales who has occupied the position of Speaker of the House since 1923. It was not possible for Speakers resident in other
States to avail themselves of the privilege of using official cars in the same way, although there was never any doubt that the privilege was theirs. However, they used cars in Canberra, and in their own home cities, and provision for the cost of running the cars was made in the Estimates, although the amount was less than was needed in my own case. “When I became Speaker, the amount on the Estimates for this purpose, although sufficient to meet the cost of running & car as previously used, was not in this instance sufficient for the remainder of the year. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has been good enough to mention that I did an important job of work for the Department of Supply and Shipping. It entailed working six days a week, and sometimes more, in an honorary capacity, for I was charged with the duty of controlling the second largest manufacturing industry in Australia. For similar work other men were paid as much as £1,500 a year, besides travelling expenses, &c.-
– “Was the honorable member not paid travelling expenses?
– During three years I collected no more than £60, which is a negligible amount compared with what it might have been.
– In view of the circumstances, it was agreed that the cost of running the car should be shared by the Parliament and the Department of Supply and Shipping. Unfortunately, the matter was not adjusted in the next Estimates, and that is what gave rise to the criticism of the AuditorGeneral. He was not concerned over the amount, or over the fact that the Speaker had the use of a car. He was concerned with whether the total cost should be charged against the Department of Supply and Shipping, or whether it should be shared between that department and the Parliament. My own opinion is, that if it be agreed that the Speaker has .the right to use a car, it does not matter a two-penny dump, so far as the finances of the Commonwealth are concerned, which department meets the cost. It is a matter of tweedledum and tweedledee.
Now, as to the cost itself. In the Estimates for the Parliament, there is provision for the payment of travelling expenses for Ministers and others. The word “ others “ includes members of Parliament, and the provision covers the cost of their travelling on gold passes, and by other means. It also covers expenses incurred in connexion with the transport of distinguished visitors. These costs are charged against the Parliament, but the money is disbursed, not by Parliament, but by the Department of the Interior. I do not know whether, in my own case, the charges were excessive. My only comment is that I would have had to ride about in cars day and night all the year round in order to justify the amount which the one department charged against the other. I am prepared to submit the matter to any test which honorable members may choose, and I am convinced that my use of official cars will not be found to be excessive in comparison with the use made of them in similar circumstances during the regime of any previous government. I do not know whether it is possible that, no matter how little a Minister or the Speaker may have used a car, his department could be charged with costs which he did not incur. The Auditor-General made no comment upon the right to use the car or upon the amount of the charge, but only upon the aspect as to which department the expenditure should be charged against. That is all I have to say about the matter. I am sorry that I was dragged into it at all. Indeed, I am acting against my own judgment in talking about it; but if honorable members opposite are looking for a shooting gallery I am ready to shoot.
.-! should not have spoken on this item but for the remarks of the honorable member for “Wentworth (Mr. Harrison). The honorable member raised the matter in relation to Mr. Speaker, but he added, “ and there are others “, and, at the same time, he looked across at me. I wish simply to explain that I use a car that was allocated to me when I was appointed by the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, to encourage increased production of coal. In carrying out my duties in that position, t have frequently risen at 5 a.m. in order to attend pit-top meetings. Honorable members may have read of trouble on the coal-fields, but more often than not trouble was prevented from developing as the result of meetings held at pit-tops. I know of only two exceptions to that statement.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable member ‘ for Hunter in order in making an explanation on the matter he has raised on the item now under consideration? The expenditure to which he refers is charged to the Department of Supply and Shipping which controls coal production, whereas we are now dealing with the item - Parliament.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).The honorable member will not be in order in discussing the matter on this item.
.- On behalf of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser), who is unavoidably absent from the chamber, and also on my own behalf, I suggest that financial provision should be made for the establishment of a research group within the Parliamentary Library for the assistance of honorable members. The variety of matters upon which honorable members approach the Library staff for information, is indicated by the following subjects which I take at random from a list of questions asked of the Library officers during last week - The botanical description of the seed of the Kentia palm, the organization of CEMA, community centres, ‘co-operative marketing in Australia, the movement for a national theatre, the Swedish banking system, the production of rubber in Brazil, Tammany Hall politics; and a host of other questions relating to important matters of comparative legislation upon which honorable members seek information of great value to them in discussions in this chamber. Other Parliaments provide such research groups for the assistance of their members, and those staffs present a coherent account relating to any particular subject provided adequate notice of the inquiry is given to them. The Library of Congress in the United States of America, has a research staff of 70, from whom any member of the Congress who refers a particular problem to that staff receives a comprehensive reply within a very short time, giving him all the information he requires. Owing to our present restricted facilities members of this Parliament are obliged to carry out their own research. In view of the volume of correspondence which honorable members are obliged to handle, their time to undertake research is very limited. However, such research is vitally important. Any assistance given to honorable members in this respect would improve the contributions of honorable members generally to debates and the quality of legislation enacted by the Parliament. Offhand, I should say that one member of the research group could deal exclusively with constitutional questions, and another with economic questions. Honorable members perhaps could add to this suggestion. On behalf of the honorable member for EdenMonaro, and on my own behalf, I submit, this matter for the consideration of the committee.
.- For some time past I have been very dissatisfied with the facilities afforded in the Parliamentary Library to assist honorable members to obtain information which they desire, and I have raised this matter on previous occasions along the lines mentioned by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). In the circumstances the Library staff is doing its best, and I compliment it upon its work. I ask the Government to give this matter urgent attention. The Parliamentary Library staff is at all times most anxious to help honorable members in their research. Undoubtedly, this work is appropriately a function of a parliamentary library. However, the Librarian, with whom I have discussed, this matter, has not sufficient staff to provide this service. This is a matter which might be borne in mind in connexion with the demobilization of service personnel. Undoubtedly, many members of the services, while moving round the world, have visited national libraries in other countries and gained general knowledge of their functions. I am sure that with proper tuition, and given the opportunity to become efficient in research work, sufficient suitable personnel would be available to enable us to build up a first-class research section in the Parliamentary Library. This would be to the benefit of not only the Parliament, but also the nation as a whole. It is an important national undertaking, and adequate provision should be made for it without delay.
.-! support the suggestion made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) which has previously been advocated by the honorable member for Morton (Mr. Francis). All of us agree that since the beginning of the war the work of individual members in relation to their constituents has increased at least fourfold. One result of this development has been a decline in the attendance of members within the chamber. Under such conditions honorable members have less opportunity to conduct their own research in the preparation of their speeches. Although the decline of attendance within the chamber itself at times may be the subject of outside criticism, honorable members themselves are not to blame when they absent themselves at certain times. Sitting as we do from 10.30 a.m. to 11 p.m., an honorable member must necessarily absent himself from the chamber in order to deal with his correspondence, and confer with Ministers on matters affecting representations made by constituents. Honorable members who try to maintain the goodwill of their constituents must give prior attention to their needs before even their more important duty, in a national sense, of research and study of the larger problems of legislation and administration which come before us. I believe that it is necessary for individual honorable members to concentrate upon details arising within his constituency. These conditions generally have resulted in a decline in the quality of the work performed in the Parliament itself. The suggestion now put before us is most practical, and ample precedence exists for it. The Government would do a real service to private members and also improve the standard of work performed by the Parliament as a whole by adopting the suggestion. I understand that the Broad casting Committee has been giving some attention to the matter of broadcasting the debates of this Parliament. I see no provision on the Estimates for that, but, presumably, if it were decided to institute the system, supplementary provision would be made. I raise the matter in case the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has any information of interest for honorable gentlemen.
– The Broadcasting Committee is considering the matter, but has not yet furnished a report.
– In regard to the other matter I hope that the Prime Minister will be able to indicate that he will sympathetically consider it.
.- As chairman of the Library Committee, I desire to say that we have had no difficulty, in my experience, with any government in assisting honorable members in the matter of research or in providing money. In regard to the matter of staff some limits of course have been placed on the Library Committee, particularly recently, because two of our principal officers are still in the Army and Mr. Key, the chief legislative research officer, is on loan to the Department of Information News Bureau in London. He is doing important research work in copying documents relating to the early settlement and government of Australia. He is doing that work, not only for the National Library, but also for the Mitchell Library in Sydney. An understanding has been reached between the National Library and the Mitchell Library under which the historical records desired by both will be completed. Mr. Key is an efficient and able officer of the Library. Miss Foley recently left for New York where she will act in a similar capacity.
– Neither was a research officer of the Library, neither prepared statements and information for honorable gentlemen.
– I do not agree with the honorable member. Some of my best speeches have been prepared from information gathered for me by Mr. Key. He is a valuable officer. The matters raised, however, are in the minds of members of the Library Committee. I entirely agree that the work of honorable members has considerably increased. For instance, the Commonwealth Parliament has taken over from the States practically the whole field of social legislation. There is no doubt that the huge spread of work cast upon federal members in recent years justifies extension of the facilities of the Library but, at the moment, we are labouring under difficulties. As chairman of the Library Committee, I should be pleased, and I know that the Librarian, Mr. Binns, would be delighted to have the views of honorable members, not necessarily members of the Library Committee, because I do not think that knowledge of the requirements of the Library are entirely confined to the committee. So, if the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) or any other honorable member interested in the matter would give the committee the benefit of his views I would undertake to have them thoroughly examined by the committee. I am sure that this Government, like all others, will give every encouragement, financial and otherwise, to honorable members to carry out their undoubtedly heavy duties, which are increasing every year.
– I ask the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) whether a decision has been reached on the suggestion that the number of copies of Hansard to which honorable members are entitled for free distribution should be increased. I have mixed feelings about the benefit that accrues from publishing the proceedings of Parliament, but as long as it is the practice to do so, and so long as people are sufficiently interested to desire copies of Hansard, it is a pity that honorable members are so limited in the number that they may distribute to their, constituents. In the fourteen or fifteen years that I have been a member of this Parliament. I have had to refuse many applications from reputable people to whom Hansard may be of some benefit.
– When this matter was last raised a reply was prepared and read to honorable members by Mr. Speaker. The Government did decide to increase the number of copies of Hansard to be made available to honorable gentlemen, but deferred action pending the availability of labour at the Government Printing Office. As soon as more labour is available the number of copies of Hansard that honorable members may circulate among- their friends will be increased. If honorable gentle-‘ men refer to Hansard they will find the proposal set out in detail. I think we agreed to increase the number of copies to 50.
– It is 35 now.
Mr. -CHIFLEY. - Yes. The number will be increased to 50 when conditions permit.
– The matter of further Library assistance to honorable members has been raised. I have always received the greatest courtesy and attention in the Parliamentary Library.
– We all have; that is not challenged.
-Any information that I have desired has always been readily supplied by the Library officials. We have in Canberra one of the best libraries in the world, staffed by well-educated, well-trained and courteous officers. An honorable member seeking information can have it produced within a short time. The service is remarkable. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and other honorable gentlemen have suggested that the Library officials should go to the trouble of undertaking research work and writing statements for honorable members in order that they may come into this chamber and make speeches compiled for them in the Library. I atn opposed to that. I object to any further expenditure on spoon-feeding honorable members. For a long time I have been hoping to see more honorable gentlemen using the Library. One finds that the great majority never get beyond the newspapers. I am certainly in favour of educating honorable members, but I am against spending government money to do so. If they want to improve their minds let them go into the Library, browse around and do their own research. They would be much better for it, and as a result they -would express their own ideas in this chamber instead of those of some smart young fellow in the Library who has gone to the trouble of carrying out research for them.
– Would that argument apply with equal force to research into legal matters?
– Yes, and.it would even apply to accountancy. Honorable members have asked, in effect, that Library officers should prepare speeches for them. That would be a wrong practice. They should do their own research. I am also opposed to the compilation of statements by Library officers, because already we have far too much talk in this chamber. If Library officials are to prepare speeches for honorable members, the debates in this chamber will be interminable. A great deal of nonsense emanates from this chamber, and why should we-
– Order ! The honorable member must not reflect on the chamber or on speeches made by honorable members in this chamber.
– I am sorry if I have cast any reflection on the mentality df honorable members. I believe that honorable members will not consider that I have reflected on them in any way. I am opposed to spending any further money in connexion with the Library.
.- I regret that any member of this chamber should misunderstand the speeches that have been made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), and myself. No request was made by any honorable member to be furnished with anything other than data on which to prepare speeches. I am sorry that the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams) who speaks practically least of all in this chamber, and who rarely asks a question other than a “ Dorothy Dix “, should, hold such views as he has expressed about this Parliament. Honorable members should have access to all available information and data on international, social, .and other subjects so that they may properly inform their minds and bring the information to bear in a sound and sane manner upon the proposals which are submitted’ to them. The views mentioned by the honorable member for Robertson were not expressed by any one of the three honorable members whom he mentioned. We seek to have a research organization established within the Library to prepare information for honorable members so that they may inform themselves on important subjects which must be discussed in this chamber, and I commend that proposal to the honorable member himself.
– Mr. Chairman
– The honorable member for Barker has already exhausted his right to speak on this vote.
Proposed vote agreed to.
– Did you, Mr. Chairman, give a ruling as to honorable members’ privileges in speaking to the various items under these headings? Under the heading of the Prime Minister’s Department, which will be the next proposed vote before the committee, there are the following divisions: Administrative, Audit Office, Public Service Board, Governor-General’s Office, National Library, High Commissioner’s Office - United Kingdom, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and Commonwealth Grants Commission. Under yow ruling, Mr. Chairman, honorable members will have the opportunity to speak only twice on the whole of these departments. If I wish to speak regarding the proposed votes for the Audit Office and the Governor-General’s Office, I shall be precluded, according to your ruling, from addressing myself to any of the other votes. I should like to have your ruling regarding our privileges, what we will be permitted to address ourselves to, and how many times we will be permitted to speak.
– It is the practice in dealing with the Estimates, to take each proposed vote separately.
– What is a vote?
– It is the proposed vote of each department, as set out on page iii of the Estimates. Each honorable member is entitled to speak twice, each period being for one half hour. In other words, each honorable member may speak for an hour on each proposed vote.
– I rise to a point of order. I have always understood, and I am sure that the procedure hitherto has been, that once the first line of the Estimates is agreed to, the committee considers the Estimates line by line, not department by department.
– Order ! The Chair has given its ruling.
– I am accustomed to using the term “ line “, perhaps, because I was trained in parliamentary procedure in a different place. If we take the item “ Parliament “, the divisions under that item are “ Senate “, “ House of Representatives”, and so on, and they are all numbered.
– That department has been agreed to.
– I am speaking on a point of order now. The other divisions under the Parliament are the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, the Library, the Joint House Department, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works-
– What is the point of order?
– It has been the practice to take these departments division by division. Otherwise, if your ruling be correct, Mr. Chairman, “when the debate was concluded last night on the question that the first item in the Estimates be agreed to, discussion should have terminated on the whole of the proposed vote for “Parliament”. However, that did not happen. We nest took the House of Representatives.
– I put the first item.
– We are involved in a question as to the meanings of “ item “ and “ division “, you, Mr. Chairman, using the word “item”, and I using the terms “ line “ and “ division “. This point ought to be cleared up. As we deal with other departments, there will be more than one division in each proposed vote on which some honorable members may wish to speak, and many of us may be prevented from doing so, as I was prevented just now on the division dealing with the Library.
– In reply to the honorable member, I shall deal first with the question that was before the committee last night. The general debate had taken place on what is known, according to the practice of this Parliament, as the first item in the Estimates. That was agreed to.
– What is the first item?
– The first item is portion of the proposed vote “ Parliament “. This morning the question under discussion has been that the remainder of the proposed vote “Parliament” be agreed to. The Chair is following the established practice of the Parliament, and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has been here long enough to know what that practice is.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department
Proposed vote, £1,286,300.
– The estimated expenditure for the Prime Minister’s Department requires some explanation. The total expenditure for the department for 1944-45 was £1,074.187, and the proposed vote for 1945-46 is £1,2S6,800, representing an increase over last year’s expenditure of £212,173. That is not an inconsiderable sum of money, and it should not be agreed to by this committee without the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) first giving some explanation of this estimated increase. Expenditure last year on the administrative division was £55,000, and the estimate for this year for the same division is £59,000. The Audit Office estimate for this year is nearly £12,000 more than the expenditure last year. Estimated expenditure for the Public Service Board and for the National Library also shows a considerable increase. The proposed vote for the High “Commissioner’s Office is approximately £11,000 over last year’s expenditure. It is interesting to note this, because I understand that the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) is now in London to take over the duties of the High Commissioner, and that, later this year, another responsible Minister will also go to London as High Commissioner for Australia in the United Kingdom. Expenditure on postage, telegrams and tele* phone services for the current year is estimated at £17,000, compared with £11,600 expended last year. Is that increased vote to permit the Attorney-General to confer more frequently with his Cabinet colleagues in this country or does the Minister for Defence (Mr. Beasley), who, it is reported, will take up the position of Australian High Commissioner, in the near future, hope to indulge in homely conversations with his fellow Ministers? I notice also that the vote for the general upkeep of Australia House is £22,700, whereas expenditure last year was £25,000. Does the Government not intend to restore Australia House which I understand suffered from bombing? Estimated expenditure by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research represents an increase of nearly £200,000 and by the Commonwealth Grants Commission, of more than £2,000. The Opposition has already expressed the opinion that, to reduce war expenditure by £100,000,000, the Government made a blind stab. The war is over and the Prime Minister’s Department should set an example to other departments by pruning its expenditure, but instead, it has inflated its estimates. Why should those increases be inflicted on Commonwealth taxpayers in time of peace? This matter warrants an explanation by the Prime Minister.
.- I wish to deal with a matter which at first sight may appear to be of small moment compared with other items in the Estimates, but which is of great importance to large numbers of pastoralists and to primary production generally. Large areas of pasture in Victoria, including most of South Gippsland and a considerable portion of the western district of the State, are becoming ravaged by the grub known as the cockchafer grub. The depredations ‘of this grub “are increasing year by year. Although it first came to notice in comparatively recent years, during the war it spread at an alarming rate. There are two main varieties of the cockchafer. The cockchafer lays its eggs in the ground and the larvae spread out in ever widening circles. One variety, the Apjodius cockchafer, remains underground during the day, but at night they come to the surface and eat the grass, or other herbage, with the result that the ground becomes completely denuded of all forms of pasture. The other type, which has a red and orange head, does not come to the surface but lives on the roots of the grass. The result of this activity is that thousands of acres of good land has been completely denuded of herbage, thus causing a serious reduction of its carrying capacity. The carrying capacity of certain parts of the western districts has been reduced from two and three-quarter sheep to the acre to one sheep to the acre, and some properties have suffered even more.
In my own district in South Gippsland holdings which at one time carried a beast to the acre now cannot carry any stock at all in the winter-time because there is no grass. In some cases the whole countryside looks like a ploughed field. The infestation is at times very great. In a square foot of ground there may be as many as 200 grubs. My property does not suffer extensively, but about ten or fifteen acr&3 have become infected, and every year the damage is spreading. I first noticed the grub on my property six years ago, the infected area at that time being only three or four square yards. Some properties of 200 or 300 acres have no grass at all on perhaps half of their area. The danger of this pest is very great indeed, and unless action is taken soon the carrying capacity of some parts of Victoria, particularly in winter-time, may be reduced to a fraction of its original figure.
I took this matter up some months ago with the Entomology Division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and received a letter from Dr. Nicholson who pointed out that the matter had already been raised by the Australian Wool Board and had been considered by his organization. Dr. Nicholson went on to say - and this is the important point - that investigations had been held up because of lack of men. I believe that labour could be made available for this work very easily. In the Army to-day there are quite a number of scientists and research workers suitable for this work ; but up to date - and here I accuse the Army of lack of understanding - applications for release have been refused. The Waite Institute in South Australia sought the services of two men who were in the Army to carry out important investigations but in this ease also releases have been refused. I impress upon the Prime Minister and the committee that this matter is of great importance and will permit no delay. Investigations should be undertaken at the earliest possible moment, and if labour is not available at present, it should be provided immediately. The number of men required would not bo great, probably five at the most. 1 hope that that aspect will be given full consideration. As the committee is aware, vast sums are being expended in all directions. The amount involved in this investigation could not be, perhaps, more than a few thousands of pounds, and the investment would be highly reproductive. The losses from this cause now total, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of pounds, and eventually they may be very much greater unless an investigation is made and proper means are taken to combat the ravages of the pest’.
– The Minister will admit that I have frequently endeavoured to inspire a greater interest in the value of scientific and industrial research in Australia, with a view to bringing it more into line with developments in other countries. The vote for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is £950,000, an increase of £50,000 on the vote for last year. Of this amount much has been contributed from outside sources. The cutworm referred to by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan), and many other pests, cause substantial losses from time to time. There is no provision for the establishment of national laboratories and farms for the conduct of investigations throughout Australia. It is impossible for the scientist to achieve the best results with the work that has to be done over the whole of the continent with one institution at Canberra. I have previously pointed out that in Canada there are 200 administration farms and plots in various regions on which investigations are conducted concerning the problems that are encountered in different localities. The problem in one locality may be entirely different from that in another locality. In consequence, that dominion’s output of stock and. other primary pro- ducts has increased so largely that it has become a serious competitor of Australia, even though production is possible only during six months of the year because of adverse climatic conditions. We have not reached even the infant class in scientific and industrial research. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was established years ago, and it has proved of inestimable value to Australia. Nevertheless, in comparison with what has been achieved in other countries, we have not yet touched the fringe of the matter.
The appropriation of £950,000 includes expenditure on fifteen items which have contributions from outside sources. I sincerely hope that the Government will soon realize that Australia has to do more than it is doing at the present time. The British authorities in Burma sprayed the dangerous scrubs with D.D.T. from aircraft before the troops were expected to negotiate them. We could overcome many of our difficulties if we applied the methods used by scientists in Russia and Germany before the war. The Ministry, however, does not pay heed to suggestions designed to exploit the possibilities by using the brains of the men who are engaged in scientific and industrial research. Young lads should be trained in advanced science for the development of our great productive possibilities. If the present Minister does not take action, I hope that he will be replaced by another with a wider outlook who can visualize the value of establishing research stations from east to West and north to south, with a view to determining what different parts of the country are best suited to produce and what productive opportunities there are in the undeveloped and unpopulated regions. Instead of losing millions of pounds because of the absence of research, we should expend millions on such a project, with a view to deriving that assistance which has been gained by every other country in the world.
– A very meagre salary is paid to the secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department. I have always been a keen advocate of giving every consideration to efficiency and trustworthiness, particularly in the permanent heads of the important departments of the Commonwealth. The consideration shown to them has not been within measurable distance of that experienced by men seconded from outside organizations and establishments for the conduct of war activities. I instance specifically the secretary of this very important department, who holds a most responsible position, and yet receives only £1,400 a year, compared with £2,000 by the secretary to the Treasury, £1,750 by the secretary of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, £1,800 by the secretary of the Department of Munitions, £1,600 by the secretary of the Department of Supply and Shipping, £1,450 by the secretary of the Department of Information, £1,850 by the Comptroller General of Customs, £1,800 by the Director-General of Health and £1,550 by the Director-General of Social Services. The time has arrived when the salaries of the permanent heads of all departments should be reviewed, and special consideration should be given to that of the secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department.
Having regard to what will be expected and required of us in the post-war period, the proposed vote for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is totally inadequate. If ever there was a governmental instrumentality which should be equipped and encouraged to carry out effective post-war reconstruction, it is this council. The inadequate amount of £5,800 is provided for scientific and industrial research in relation to mining and metallurgy, compared with £5,978 expended last year. .It is hardly necessary to impress upon honorable members, and particularly the Government, the important part which mining must play in the rehabilitation of Australia. The industry is equipped and able to contribute to the economic welfare of this country during the post-war period to a degree equal to that which it has had since the first discovery of gold and other valuable metals on this continent. The industry has been dormant during the war period, owing to man-power and other difficulties, but it should experience a definite revival very quickly. The proposed vote of £5,800 is totally inadequate for necessary geo- logical investigations and experiments, and in order to take, advantage of the scientific discoveries that are available to the industry as the result of modern invention.
For forest products, £70,310 is to be appropriated. That must include expenditure on afforestation and reafforestation. The war has taken a disastrous toll of the timber industry and, consequently, our forests. I lay particular stress on the position in North Queensland, where forests have had to be cut down and timber removed as quickly as possible. Much afforestation and reafforestation work will have to be done by the most up-to-date and scientific methods. I commend that matter to the Government for particular attention as a post-war undertaking.
The proposed vote for fisheries investigations is £23,272, compared with an expenditure of £18,106 last year. The fishing industry should be encouraged to expand as much as possible. We have not given anything like adequate consideration to it. According to the statistics, Australians are among the smallest fish-consuming communities in the world, and are out of all proportion compared with the people of New Zealand. Fishing is a very important industry in North Queensland. I ‘hope that the £23,272 will be wisely expended.
I am surprised and disappointed at the absence of practical evidence of the Government’s acceptance of its responsibility in relation to soil erosion, and drought alleviation. Soil erosion is a very important matter. It is having a disastrous effect on productivity, particularly of the land industries. The total amount set down for horticulture, including soil survey and irrigation, is £60,230. That is altogether inadequate. Consideration must be given to the possibility of further disastrous droughts, and to the provision of fodder supplies. More should be done also in connexion with water conservation and soil erosion. I hope that the vote for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will he increased in the near future.
– I support the remarks of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) regarding the ravages of the cockchafer grub. This destructive grub has made its appearance in the north-eastern districts of Victoria, as well as in the districts referred to by the honorable member for Flinders, and has ruined hundreds, if not thousands, of acres of good pasture land. I presume that the grub referred to by the honorable member for Flinders has been definitely identified.
– In my electorate there has been a variety of the cockchafer grub for many years, but it has not caused much trouble. During the drought, particularly in the months of April and May of this year, I noticed large numbers of butterflies about, and t wondered whether the grub had any connexion with them. There is some doubt as to whether the grub in some areas is related to a butterfly.
– I can give the honorable member information on that point.
– The honorable member for Flinders said that large areas of his electorate have been effected by. this grub. On a property 40 miles from mine, which in other years, fattened a thousand of the finest lambs which ever went to the Melbourne saleyards, very few lambs will be fattened this year due mainly to this grub. The grub seems to attack properties sown with clover; and it is well known that clover is used extensively for fattening lambs and for improving dairying land. On my own property I have noticed that the grub attacks only clover areas, and does not eat rye grass or native grasses. Considerable pasture improvement has taken place during recent years. Heavy applications of superphosphate in good rainfall districts have caused the native grasses to disappear, and the pastures to consist almost entirely of clover. Attacks by the grub have entirely ruined many acres of good land previously covered with clover. Any person who has seen the ravages of the grub realizes the menace to our pastures. The damage this year to fat-lamb production will amount to many thousands of pounds. The effect on the dairying industry may be difficult to assess. Unless checked, the grub will continue to cause losses, which will in crease year by year. The Victorian Department of Agriculture has been tackling this problem; its officers have visited areas in my electorate in order to make investigations. Possibly, they have been in consultation with officers of t’he Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and of other State Departments of Agriculture. If the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has any information on this subject honorable members would like to hear of it. If nothing has been done by that body, I trust that the Minister will ask its officers to co-operate with State Departments of Agriculture in dealing with this menace. The argument that manpower is not available to undertake investigations does not now apply. I trust that the Minister will give to the committee an assurance that this matter will be given the attention that its importance deserves, and that at the earliest possible moment the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and State Departments of Agriculture will co-operate with a view to eradicating the pest.
Mr. ABBOTT (New England) [12.37 J. - I suggest that teams of scientists be sent overseas to investigate factory equipment in Germany, Italy, and Japan. It may be desirable that they be appointed temporary officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The development of Australia will depend largely on the expansion of secondary industries. The Government’s plans for the expansion of the wool industry will depend a great deal on improved processes of manufacture. In the making of competitive fibres, fewer processes are necessary than in producing woollen fibres. Considerable improvement of the machinery used in the manufacture of woollen “textiles is necessary so that woollen materials can compete with synthetic textiles. Since 1895, when Japanese buyers first purchased wool in the Australian market, the Japanese textile industry has made great strides. In addition to copying the textile-making machinery of other countries, Japanese manufacturers have also invented machinery of great importance in the manufacture of woollen fibres. 1 refer particularly to the Toyoda loom, which enables fewer operators to handle. banks of looms than are necessary at Bradford and in Continental mills’. Expert textile engineers and other scientists if sent to Japan, Germany, and Italy, could study on the spot the developments that have taken place in those countries. If those countries have developed secret processes we now have the opportunity to find out what they have done. I understand that the Government proposes to expand the Gordon Institute of Technology at Geelong, and possibly to encourage similar institutions elsewhere in the Commonwealth. If so, the latest textile machinery will be required. In enemy countries we have a golden opportunity to obtain sample machines and to test them in our own textile mills. Any information obtained in research stations should be used to improve the standard of Australian woollen goods.
The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) referred to the cockchafer grub. One difficulty in dealing with this menace is the shortage of competent officers to undertake research work. I believe that this grub attacks only legumes.
– It attacks grasses also.
– ,So far, the grub has been found only in the southern portions of the Commonwealth, but, in the .light of our experience with the red pea mite, we may well fear that it will move northwards and cause damage there also. The Waite Institute in Adelaide recently attempted to get two research officers out of the Army in order to undertake urgent work, but the Army authorities refused to release them. It seems impossible to get those authorities to realize the need for trained men in other spheres. Many scientific officers who’ could be used with great advantage by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the State Departments of Agriculture are still in the Army. They should be released quickly for important scientific work. I suggest that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr, Dedman) consult with his colleague, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), with a view to the early release of these men.
– The Minister for the Army has never refused a request from me for the release of a scientific expert connected with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
– The Minister’s experience is different from that of men in charge of other institutions. I should like to know what methods he has used so successfully. Perhaps the Minister if a magician; or it may be another cas* of scratching the other fellow’s back. I should like to know the secret of his success
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– J draw the attention of the Government to the need for increasing the appropriation for soil survey and irrigation, which now stands at £60,000. The danger of soil erosion has been brought home to the Parliament and the people generally during the last few years, and the Government must be aware of the need to conduct a thorough investigation. Thiproblem of soil erosion exists in the Northern Territory, and the Commonwealth should conduct investigation* there through the Council for .Scientific and Industrial Research, as well as cooperating with the State authorities in similar work elsewhere.
The council should also be asked ti conduct experiments with a view to combating the danger of frost in fruitgrowing districts. It has been estimated thai last year the damage from frost amounted to £200,000. This may be an overestimate, but there is no doubt that losses have been tremendous. In England, great success has been achieved in dispersing fogs over airfields so that aircraft may land in safety. I suggest that something on the same lines might be found effective in combating frost. If a remedy could be found it would save a great deal of money, and would relieve the anxiety of growers. Farmers whose properties lie along river banks are very concerned because they know that in a dry yea? like this there is always a danger of frost. I know that methods have been evolved for combating frost, but they arcexpensive and laborious. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research might succeed in evolving a method which would be cheaper and moreeffective
.- I take this opportunity to urge upon the Government the need to take active steps to deal with the buffalo-fly pest, which is * serious menace to the beef cattle industry and to the dairying industry in northern and north-eastern Australia. The buffalo fly came to the Northern Territory more than 100 years ago, so that the problem .is essentially the responsibility of the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Mr. Dedman) has tried to pass the buck “, saying that it is a matter for the States. Certainly, the buffalo fly has been in the Northern. Territory ever since it was taken over by the Commonwealth. It attacks cattle, horses, mules, donkeys and, sometimes, even human beings. The flies congregate on a single beast to the number of perhaps 5,000 at one time, and the beast keeps moving around trying to free itself of them. It refuses to eat, and when the irritation becomes acute it rubs itself against fences, trees or anthills. This creates sores which become septic, and sometimes cause death. Beef cattle rapidly lose condition, and dairy cattle ease to give milk. You, Mr. Chairman, are familiar with the ravages of the buffalo-fly because it has been present in your district for a good many years. Recently, the menace has grown in severity. Previous governments did much work to check its spread. The problem has been tackled from the biological angle, and parasitic insects have been introduced from the East Indies and South Africa in an attempt to control it, but they have not been effective. Unless some method of control is discovered we shall, before long, be faced with a shortage of beef and dairy products. As long ago as 1931, during the regime of the Lyons Government, the Council for .Scientific and Industrial Research investigated the matter, and issued a report which is contained in No. 4, Volume 4, of the journal if the council.
As I have said, the buffalo-fly came, to the Northern Territory 100 years ago when buffaloes were introduced to Melville Island. It was not until 1926 that it spread to Queensland. Much of the
Northern Territory is cattle country, and on this land, including the Barkly Tableland, the fly flourished. By 1911, it had spread as far east as the Roper River, and by 1926 it reached the Robinson River,. 70 miles west of the Queensland boundary. Then, in 1928, it crossed intoQueensland. Since then it has spread eastward across Queensland, and hasmoved down the coast. At the present rate of progress it will, before long, be in New South Wales, and perhaps also in Victoria. The problem has been discussed at meetings - of the Australian Agricultural Council, and resolutions have been carried, but little else has been done. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has been experimenting with the use of D.D.T. and gauze for combating the buffalo-fly on dairy farms, but there has been a scarcity of these necessary materials. From now on, man-power should be available in everincreasing volume to ensure that supplies of D.D.T. and gauze shall be adequate. That is [ my first request. Secondly, I ask that the Commonwealth will not “ pass the buck “ to the States in this matter; and, thirdly, that it will co-operate with the States to the fullest possible degree in order to arrest the spread of this disease, and eventually eradicate it. I repeat that this is a Commonwealth responsibility. I hope that my remarks - and this is about the fifteenth time I have raised the subject in this chamber - will be carefully noted by the Minister, and that the Commonwealth will attack this menace in a purposeful manner.
– The committee is considering the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. The last five honorable members opposite who have spoken devoted all their attention to a consideration of the proposed expenditure in respect of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which comes under my ministerial control. However, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), who preceded those five honorable members, critically examined all of the expenditure of the department, and, pointing out that the proposed vote represented an increase of £212,000 compared with the expenditure on the department last year, asked for an explanation of that increase. The explanation he seeks is clearly set out on page 10 of the Estimates, and shows that of that increase, £176,000 is included in the provision for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. However, each of the five other honorable members has made out a case, not for a reduction but for an increase of expenditure in respect of the council, and has criticized the Government on the ground that provision for the council was not, sufficient. Honorable members opposite cannot have it both ways. They cannot claim that the expenditure in respect of the Prime Minister’s Department should be reduced, and, at the same time, that the expenditure in respect of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research which comes within that department, should be considerably increased.
I am pleased to have the representations of honorable members opposite regarding the necessity to extend our work in the research field. All honorable members, I am sure, will agree that it would be greatly to the advantage of this country to expend a good deal more than we now do on scientific research; and I have no doubt that eventually the representations of honorable members to that effect will bear fruit. Indeed, they have already had effect to a degree, because the expenditure on the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research this year will represent a substantial increase compared with its expenditure last year. In fact, ever since this Government took office, and even under previous administrations, the vote in respect of the council has been increased annually, f believe that a strong case can he made out for increased expenditure on research work in Australia. Compared with expenditure in this field in other countries, the proportion of our total revenue being expended on research is very small indeed. However, Treasurers are obliged to conserve the nation’s finances, with the result that very often the full amount really required by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research cannot be made available. That applies, of course, to every department. Honorable mem- bers who have had ministerial experience know that very often after they have prepared their departmental estimates the Treasurer tells them that the total amount of revenue w111 not be sufficient to meet all proposed expenditure, and, consequently, estimates must be pruned. However, I welcome the fact that honorable members, generally, recognize the great importance of expenditure on scientific research. I do not propose to weary the committee with a recital of all that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is doing, but I shall deal with aspects of its work that have been mentioned in this debate.
The right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) drew attention to the proposed expenditure in respect of “ horticulture, including soil survey and irrigation “, and argued that this amount should be increased in order to make adequate provision to deal with soil erosion. That item does not cover expenditure to be incurred in combating soil erosion. Soil surveys relate mainly to analyses of the types of soil and their suitability for various classes of production, and relate only incidentally to the problem of soil erosion. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) dealt at length with the menace of the buffalo fly. Recently, I visited - the research station conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research at Milanda, Queensland, and personally investigated some aspects of the problem. The honorable member contended that the Commonwealth Government was not playing an effective part in combating this menace. His opinion is not shared by dairy-farmers in Queensland; on the contrary, they are high in their praise of the work being done by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in dealing with the buffalo fly. On a previous occasion I explained that this problem could have been solved at an earlier stage but for action taken by vested interests who were concerned solely with the making of profits. I refer to the time when the buffalo fly was isolated in the Northern Territory. Its spread to the coastal areas was caused by the movement of cattle from the Northern Territory. Control over such a matter, of course, does not comw within the ambit of the Commonwealth Government at all. That is why I say that in the main this is a State problem. The Commonwealth Government comes into the picture only insofar as the Council for Scientific and Indus.trial Research is engaged in research work to combat the buffalo fly. The council has conducted investigations in countries overseas in an endeavour to find a parasite to control the fly. However, to date, it has failed in its search for a suitable parasite.
– I said that myself.
– The honorable member 3aid that the Commonwealth Government had not taken effective action in this matter, and when he praised the work of ihe Council for Scientific and Industrial Research he, in fact, contradicted himself. ( make it clear that the Commonwealth Government, through the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, has lone everything it possibly can to control this pest, and repeat that dairy-farmers, particularly in the district I visited recently, are high in their praise of the council’s efforts to assist them. The council has devised an extremely interesting method of control of the fly among dairy herds. It has designed a trap which is placed at the entrance to suitable yards. As the cattle pass through the entrance the flies are caught in this trap. Dairy farmers inform me that this method is practically 100 per cent, successful. The problem now is to evolve i method to combat the fly among dry cattle and beef cattle, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is at present experimenting to that end. I mention these facts in order to show that the Commonwealth Government is doing all that it possibly can to control the pest.
The honorable member for Flinders Mr. Ryan) and the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) mentioned the cockchafer grub in Victoria. All that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research can do to combat that pest is to endeavour to find a parasite and control the pest biologically.
– And devise some form of chemical treatment.
– Yes, if that is possible. I think that both honorable mem bers will agree that the council is doing everything possible in this field within the limits of its resources. The fact that the council has not been successful in its efforts to date is not proof that it is doing nothing in the matter.
– I have been told that the council is not doing anything in the matter.
– I shall give further attention to the subject.
– Are sufficient funds for these investigations being made available to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research ?
– I have already pointed out that no department ever receives the full amount for which it asks. I am pleased that honorable members have drawn attention to the very great importance of research work, bebecause if their representations are persisted in, no doubt they will eventually have effect. It is true that both the buffalo fly and the cockchafer grub may be combated by the application of chemicals. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has played a very big part in testing supplies of D.D.T. in order to advise dairyfarmers upon the effectiveness of this disinfectant. Supplies of D.D.T. are no longer controlled, and, therefore, the Commonwealth is not in a position to allocate supplies for any purpose whatever. Honorable members opposite are continually pressing the Government to revoke and relax war-time controls. D.D.T. is manufactured by private enterprise. Apart from the man-power shortage, which should be solved in the near future as the demobilization of service personnel is stepped up, the Commonwealth Government can do very little further in the matter.
– Does the Government not propose to nationalize it? Nationalization of disinfectants ought to be a most appealing subject.
– If that would result in disinfecting the honorable gentleman I might advocate it. However, the Commonwealth Government has no control whatever over the supply of D.D.T. It is to be hoped, of course, that the demand for D.D.T. will be such as to encourage private enterprise to manufacture it -in sufficient quantities.
On the matter raised by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Smith), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has inquired into the problem of frost damage and how it can be prevented. I shall see that it is taken up afresh by the council and that particular attention is paid to the development mentioned in the dispersal of fogs in England. I repeat my pleasure that honorable members are enthusiastic about the work undertaken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I hope that next year we shall be able- to expend more on its important activities.
Dame ENID LYONS (Darwin) [2.47 J. - I share the gratification of the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Mr. Dedman) that the committee is unanimous in its wish to see the work of the council extended. We all agree that that is a perfectly legitimate sphere of government activity. It is one that can be of enormous benefit to citizens in every walk of life. I am particularly interested in the proposed vote for biochemistry and general nutrition and delighted to see that the estimate this year is double that of last year. I should like to know exactly what provision is made from outside sources, because that is apparently provided for. It is a source of real pleasure to me that nutrition is receiving the attention of the Government. Interest in it is growing and must continue to grow all the time. I point out, however, that nutrition research must go further back than mere investigation of the constituents of food as we look at the problem to-day. We have to go back to the health of the soil itself. The health of peoples depends on the health of soil, as history will show. In a certain obvious fashion unhealthy soil contributes to the decay of nations. Soil erosion follows and with it comes complete destruction of -whole civilizations. But there are other ways in which illhealth of soil contributes to national decay. Lack of fertility in the soil is reflected in the health of populations. There is a growing body of opinion, even among scientists, that constant use of chemical fertilizers in the soil is having an effect on the foodstuffs of the people and thereby on the general health of the community. I hope that this point will receive very serious attention in the next few months and years. I have heard doctors express the opinion that butter produced in Australia has a greater vitamin content than butter produced in, say, Denmark because of the greater degree of sunshine that we have in this country. If that applies to butter, it is surely possible that wheat grown on land that has been built up and repaired solely by the use of chemical fertilizers must suffer from some lack of natural fertility. Organic and natural fertilizers, I believe, must be resorted to in the near future or we shall experience a continued deterioration of the quality of the soil. I hope that the Minister will direct the attention of the council to this problem. In Tasmania the possibility of the use of seaweed is being investigated. We have* readily available around the coast of Australia what may be a valuable fertilizer that could be used with effect. Another point that interests me is the development of fisheries. In Australia, very few people eat sufficient quantities of fish. In the southern waters there are types of fish second to none in the world and in the northern waters we have the barramundi, which I have tasted and regard as possibly the best fish in Australian waters. I hope that all manner of research will be carried out in this industry in order that the people may be given a cheap supply of this valuable food, and that means may be found to process it and to carry it in a fresh condition to people all over the Commonwealth. I commend the expenditure on the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and 1 hope, as the Minister .has said, that its activities will increase from year to year.
– On the Prime Minister’s Estimates 1 want to raise a matter that I consider is of vital importance. “I propose to say something about the matter that I raised on the motion for the adjournment of th© House last night. We have heard to-day much about the effect on the national economy of the cockchafer grub and the buffalo-fly, but I put it to the committee that the ravages of those pests are as nothing compared with the ravages on industry by the industrial lawlessness that prevails. Last night I spoke to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) about the strike at the Bunnerong Power Station.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).Order! I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with a particular division of this proposed vote.
– The Prime Minister gives directions under National Security Regulations regarding the return of strikers to work. I see no other part of the Estimates on which I could ventilate this matter.
– The staff of the Prime Minister’s Department that issues the orders at the direction of the Prime Minister, and the salaries of the officers >f the Prime Minister’s Department, are provided under this heading.
– Yes. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has pointed out, these Estimates deal with the salaries of the staff of the Prime Minister’s Department. It is through the staff that the directions are issued. Last night I directed the attention of the Prime Minister to the fact that a certain direction issued last May with regard to a strike at Bunnerong had had the effect of returning the men to work. I directed his attention to the statement that was made by Mr. Dwyer, K.O., who represented the Commonwealth Government -
It is felt by the Government that the operation of this undertaking is so vital to the war effort and to the health and comfort of a large number of persons that in the event of the order not being carried out it would be necessary for the Commonwealth Government to take all steps possible to procure its observance. I say this to assist the court in arriving at a decision as to whether it will proceed with the matter.
That was a statement of the Commonwealth Government’s attitude; otherwise, of course, the Government’s representative would not have made it in the court. To my plea last night the Prime Minister replied -
The dispute at the Bunnerong Power Station is one between the Sydney County Council and its employees. Those employees a*e working under State awards and thus the dispute comes entirely within the State jurisdiction. The Commonwealth has not intervened at all in the present dispute and does not intend to do so.
The point I want to make is that here we have a clear indication from the Prime Minister that he is powerless to return men to work under a direction. I directed attention to the fact that certain bakers in Queensland were prosecuted. The right honorable gentleman now tells us that he is powerless to act in this case, that there is a body greater than this Parliament - the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, to which the men belong. He said, in effect, “ if the Australasian Council of Trade Unions cannot get them back to work, I, as Prime Minister of this Government, am. powerless to send them back”,
– He did not say that”, at all.
– I have read what the Prime Minister said. I invite honorable members opposite to refresh their minds by reading it for themselves. That is a shocking statement for the Prime Minister to make, while the State of New South “Wales is languishing, while surgical operations are being delayed in hospitals because of lack of light and power, and while hundreds of thousands of citizens in industry are threatened. The strike is developing; we read in the press that the miners are thinking about joining in. What will be the attitude of the Prime Minister if the miners do join in, and a general strike eventuates? Will he prosecute them and direct them back to work ?
– I rise to order. The remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) are not relevant to the Prime Minister’s Department, but are more relevant to the Attorney-General’s Department or the Department of Labour and National Service.
– Mr. Chairman, on the point of order-
– Order !
– May I not speak on a point of order,
– The honorable member is not entitled to speak on a point of order.
– Of course he is.
Ths CHAIRMAN.- The Chair has been listening attentively to the honorable member for Wentworth. He has been referring to a statement made by the Prime Minister. Immediately he deviates from the proposed vote for the Prime Minister’s Department, the Chair will ask him to resume his seat.
– Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I do not want to make more than a passing reference to this matter. I remember that on another occasion threats made by the Prime Minister were effective, but here we have a frank statement by’ the Prime Minister that he is powerless to take action because the union to which the men belong cannot get them back to work. We have the Estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department under consideration. If the Prime Minister wants to use the taxpayer’s money, he has the responsibility to the taxpayers to ensure that his Government shall govern and shall not be subject to the domination of trade unions, the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, or any other body outside this chamber. So I place on record that we have an abject retreat from the responsibilities of office in that statement by the Prime Minister. It is high time the country knew that this Government, in claiming that it cannot take action stronger than that taken by the unions, has shown that it is not in a position to govern, but has abdicated in favour of the trade unions. When the Prime Minister requires taxpayers to contribute large sums to Commonwealth revenue, he should discharge his responsibility to them.
.- The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has done excellent work in connexion with animal health and production, and I am disappointed that, now that the war ha3 ended and large numbers of ex-servicemen will settle on the land, the vote for this item has been increased by only £1.4,000 compared with the provision last year. In Victoria, approximately 600,000 dairy cattle are being milked, and the rate of replacement of those herds annually is approximately 20 per cent. The heavy losses are caused by various diseases, and the only organization which has had any success in combating them is the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
– What about the Victorian Department of Agriculture?
– The Victorian Department of Agriculture has tried, but has not the scientists to do the work. I admit that it has done a great deal to assist dairymen. One disease, contagious abortion, has ravaged dairy herds in Victoria, and caused enormous losses in other States. Now, a serum ha* been prepared which has reduced losses from possibly 30 per cent, to 4 per cent, or 5 per cent. As the price of a good dairy cow is between £15 and £20, honorable members can estimate the value of this serum to the dairying industry. Thi? success shows the vote of £74,000 f0 animal health and production is a mert “ fleabite “. Other discoveries for combating diseases of sheep, such as black disease and the blowfly pest, have resulted in the saving of large quantities of wool and meat, valued at millions of pounds. As the result of those discoveries, Australia has been able to supply lamb and mutton, not only to our own people, but also to our Allies and Great Britain, which so urgently requires meat.
I hope that the Government will substantially increase the vote of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. In my opinion, this organization is nol receiving sufficient money to enable it to pay outstanding scientists the remuneration to which they are entitled. In addition, the organization cannot afford to send its scientists abroad for the purpose of studying the latest methods. The Council is being starved for want of sufficient funds to carry on its work. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), who is a great believer in. scientific and industrial research, should endeavour to persuade the Government to increase the council’s vote by 100 per cent.
Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker; [3.4]. - Before afforestation can be successfully undertaken in Australia, competent scientific authorities should make a thorough investigation of the areas most suitable for planting out. To date, large areas of very good soil have sometimes been used for the growing of forests, but there are many areas where afforestation could be successfully undertaken in country which is not suitable for agricultural or pastoral pursuits. As the
Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) is probably aware, two of those districts are in the Otway Range and the Strzlecki Range in the south of Victoria. There, good forest land was destroyed in order to provide holdings for dairy farmers. Some of the farms are situated on hillsides so steep that even a crow cannot fly down them without the brakes on. That kind of country should be under forest. A study should be made, particularly of certain parts of Europe, of the effect on rainfall of the destruction of forests. Valuable information may be collected about the Carpathian region and Sweden, dealing with the effect of the denudation of forests upon rainfall in those areas. We may be jeopardizing the rainfall of southern Australia by the manner in which we have treated some of our forest land. This matter requires very careful investigation.
A distinction is to be drawn between the growing of softwoods and hardwoods. To date, nearly all the reafforestation in Australia has been devoted to the growing of softwoods. We seldom see plantations of hardwoods. Competent authorities should be asked to forecast the relative requirements of industry for softwoods and hardwoods. This is another matter which should not be dealt with casually. The investigation should be based upon the accumulation of data in order to get reasonably accurate results. I raise this matter because difficulties associated with hardwood production are infinitely greater than those associated with softwood production. Prom certain kinds of softwood, including varieties of pine, we get a return in twenty years; but one must look much further ahead than that for a return from hardwood. One matter which has impressed me, especially in my own district and in the Wakefield district, is the way in which the best red gum is being ruthlessly cut, although it is absolutely immature. There comes a time when the cutting of timber is uneconomic; and the cutting of perfectly good hardwood, such as red gum, blue gum and stringy bark, for firewood, when it would be of infinitely greater advantage to industry as timber, is criminal economic waste.
– Why does not the honorable member protest to the Premier of South Australia, Mr. Playford ?
– Honorable members opposite are expert at “passing the buck” from the Commonwealth to the States. Before long the poor old “buck” will be exhausted. Afforestation and reafforestation are most important, and the Commonwealth Government has some responsibility in regard to them. The Commonwealth controls Papua, New Guinea, New Britain, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, where there are forests. A certain amount of experimental work has been done in the Australian Capital Territory, and we do not have to go very far from the front door of Parliament House to see how unsuccessfully they are attempting to grow certain American redwoods. The rainfall is not quite sufficient. Scientists should be asked to express an opinion on these matters, based on investigation and observation, and I shall be happy to learn from the Minister that these problems are close to his heart, and somewhere near the top of his memory.
I have had correspondence with the Minister on the development of fisheries, and again the “ buck “ was passed to the States. That is not where I am prepared to leave it. The Commonwealth Government must assume certain responsibilities if it is to justify itself under the Constitution. Section 51 contains many powers which the Commonwealth Parliament has not yet assumed. That is one of the great difficulties which a Commonwealth government encounters when it asks the people to grant to it additional authority. Deep down in the political intellect of the community is the knowledge that the Commonwealth has shirked its responsibility in regard to many of the functions which were allotted to it in 1901.
– The Commonwealth’s power to deal with fisheries begins outside the 3-mile limit.
– The fish will be most interested to hear that, and will keep inside the 3-mile limit.
– That is the point. How are we to identify them?
– Fisheries must be developed. A certain amount of work has been done ‘by a vessel which the Commonwealth employs and in which the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is interested. I should like the Minister to explain what progress has been made, and whether the Commonwealth Government has any policy for the development of the fishing industry. The consumption of fish in Australia, compared with that in most European countries, is low. “We have certain facilities which enable us to transport fish inland quite easily, and, it should be, comparatively cheaply. The development of inland fish markets should receive the attention of the Government.
About two years ago, honorable members opposite spoke at length about the dangers of soil erosion, but lately the subject has been dropped. I may have observed the effects of it on the minds of some honorable members opposite. They appear to have grown very thin on top as the result of wind erosion. I know that the Government will reply that combating soil erosion is the responsibility of the States. I say with very great respect that it is not a matter for the States alone. The financial resources of every State are now limited by Commonwealth income tax legislation.
– All the States have surpluses.
– That is not correct. If the honorable member will examine the Estimates he will discover that provision is made for payments to every State under the States Grants (Income Tax Reimbursement) Act. Other States are accustomed to New South Wales getting the lion’s share - in this instance, £18,500,000 out of £33,000,000. The lion should appear on the New South Wales coat of arms instead of on the Queensland coast of arms. The Commonwealth should carefully investigate methods for checking soil erosion. This will not be a simple task because, to a certain degree, local public opinion will be opposed to the measures which must be undertaken. But there occur times in the history of a country when strict measures must be taken for the purpose of preventing a community from damaging its own assets. That is not a new experience. Some land-holders seem to consider that, regardless of whether they hold their land under freehold or leasehold tenure, they can do as they like with it. That is not my view. Every man who holds a title to land is responsible, as a trustee, for its care. If land-holders are not prepared to carry out the obligations implicit in their ownership as trustees, recourse will have to be had to measures which will compel them to do so.
Another point that should not be overlooked, and I do not think that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is overlooking it entirely, if that suitable types of grasses should be introduced for planting in our erosion areas. I doubt whether the council ku been provided with either the necessary money or men to enable it to investigate this subject. I have read a good deal, though hot so much just lately, abouthe Japanese kudzu grass, but I do noi know whether investigations have been, made into its suitability for use in Australia. In the Pamparis district of Central Asia, and in North Africa, a good deal has been done to counter soil erosion by the planting of suitable grasses. Much useful work could be done in this regard in Australia but very little investigation of the subject has yet been made. The most important crop of all in Australia is still the grass crop. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) will agree with me, I am sure, on thai point. For that reason, I consider thai the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should be provided with more money to employ competent men to investigate what grasses are suitable for growing in this country, not only to prevent soil erosion, whether by water, wind, or drift, but also to improve out pastures. I trust that the Minister will take steps to cause proper and continuous research into this importansubject.
– I regret that more adequate financial provision has not been made for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The council has already rendered most valuable service to the country, and I consider that it should have been treated more generously in these Estimates. The increase of £50,000 hi the proposed vote for this body is not adequate. The fact must be borne in mind that subsidies are being provided by outside contributors in respect of many investigations in which the council is engaged. I am particularly concerned about the need for more effective work in connexion with the buffalo-fly. The Minister has said that private enterprise has been responsible for the extension of buffalo fly areas southwards, but he lias apparently overlooked the fact that luring the war the Government ordered great herds of cattle to be moved by drovers from the Northern Territory into Queensland, with a consequent extension of the buffalo fly area. To-day, the fly has reached the Rockhampton district, and it may even reach the Wide Bay area and later enter New South. Wales. If that should occur, it would be calamitous to our cattle industry. Everything possible should be done to meet this threat, but the Minister seems to be quite unconcerned about it. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has done good work in investigating the habits of the fly, but a great leal more should be done. Mr. Tryan a noted Queensland entomologist, has done exceptionally fine work in this connexion, but if we are to save the dairying districts of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales from disaster we must do more than ever before to avert this grave danger. It is quite all right for some dairymen in northern Queensland to tell the Minister that they are satisfied with the traps. But in large areas of Queensland it is impossible to muster cattle even once a week. The ravages of the fly can go largely unchecked in such areas. It is of no value for the Minister to reply to my remarks by merely saying that private enterprise has a responsibility in this regard. That will get us nowhere. We must engage in the same kind of intensive investigations in connexion with the buffalo-fly as resulted in the defeat of the prickly pear menace in Queensland. At one time prickly pear was overgrowing 1,000,000 acres a year in Queensland, but, as the result of the establishment of a fund to which the Governments of the Commonwealth, Queensland and New South Wales contributed, scien tists were sent abroad to investigate not only the practicability of our adopting certain biological counter measures which might prove effective and to ascertain which particular insects would be most effective under our own climatic conditions. Certain insects were known to be an effective counter under some conditions but not under others. Mr. Temple Clark spent a large amount of money privately in investigating this subject in America, and .his work was followed up subsequently by scientists of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Eventually, the cochineal insect was proved to be the most effective for Australian conditions and following its introduction the prickly pear menace was overcome. I pay tribute to the splendid work done at Dulacca by Dr. Jean White, of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Similar research on the buffalo-fly might produce a parasite as effective as the cactoblastus insect was in destroying the prickly pear, but this will need money and men which, I hope, the Government will be willing to provide.
I regret to notice that the proposed vote for the valuable National Standards Laboratory is to be reduced by £50,000. c
– That organization was engaged in a great deal of war work.
– I consider that more money should be provided for research in industrial chemistry, particularly in view of our need to expand both rural and secondary industries, yet the vote for this purpose is to be reduced by about £12,000. We must do our utmost to stimulate both primary and secondary enterprises if we are to develop industry generally in this country. Money should be voted to enable scientists to travel in other parts of the world in order to investigate scientific problems that are of concern to Australia.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of External Affairs
Proposed vote, £260,500.
– I invite the attention of the Acting Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Makin) to a circumstance in connexion with these Estimates which I regard as entirely unsatisfactory. Australia has established legations and High Commissionerships in various overseas countries. The Australian Legation at Chungking is one of three which have so far been established, and it is of first importance to this country that there should be in this legation, at present, a representative of this country who can speak with the full authority of a Minister. Mr. Keith Officer is the charge d’affaires at Chungking at the moment. 1 have a high admiration of his ability, but he is working in only an acting capacity and that, as the Acting Minister for External Affairs will realize, is not altogether satisfactory. In the External Affairs Department, rather too much resort has been had to the practice of having people acting in positions. For some time, the department had an acting head. That practice is not conducive to good organization. We are to have for some time in London, in effect, an Acting High Commissioner. That will not be a satisfactory state of affairs, although it will be modified by the fact that Ministers of the Go- ;>vernment will be in London and will be able to perform the duties of the office. One hesitates to discuss these matters too freely. It may be that the opinion was entertained that the absence of Sir Frederic Eggleston from Chungking and his appointment to Washington would be a temporary arrangement. We should not make temporary appointments to posts of this kind. With the Japanese war ended, with a host of settlements to be made, and with the greatest need for a reliable source of information as near as possible ito Japan, Chungking is the obvious place at which our representation ought to be the strongest that we can have. So I urge upon the Minister the urgent desirability of filling that post. I was originally responsible for the establishment of Australian legations. At that time, I had no notion that we should endeavour to cover the world with diplomatic posts. I can see very sound justification for an extensive trade commissioner service in many places; South America, for example. But if we establish these diplomatic posts in prac- tically all the countries of the world, then we shall have the greatest difficulty in manning them. Having had to loot for suitable people to receive appointments of this kind, I know - and the Minister himself also knows, because he has faced the same problem - how intensely difficult it is to secure two or three men with the right qualifications. I very much fear that if, in due course, we present to ourselves the problem of filling 30 or 40 legations in various part, of the world, our human if not our financial resources will become very strained. I make that as a general remark. I rose merely to give some point to the proposition that we have already established, very properly, a most important legation in the Chinese capital, and that it is high time it was filled by a permanent appointment of some one who, with his staff, can effectively represent this country.
.- Whilst appreciating the ‘high national policy that has permitted the Commonwealth to maintain legations in the capital cities of those countries that are represented on the Security Council of the United Nations, I consider that there is a notable omission from the vote for the Department of External Affairs. Although Australia, as a member State of the British Commonwealth of Nations, should maintain a High Commissioner’s office in each of the other member States, an examination of page 17 discloses that there is one omission - the Union of South Africa. Before establishing a legation in Latin America, we should first close the existing gap in the maintenance of the closest relations between all the member States of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Government would be well warranted in altering the vote in that respect, so as to make provision for representation in the Union of South Africa instead of in Latin America. If that be done, we shall be linked to all the member States of the British Commonwealth, and in addition have representation in all the countries which exercise a permanent vote on the Security Council of the United Nations.
– It must not be considered that, because I have criticized the Estimates on the ground that they are too high in certain respects, my criticism relates to every department. The Government has not done justice to the Department of External Affairs. The increase of £65,059 on the Estimates for last year is not sufficient, and the Government might well prune other departments so as to pay due regard to Australia’s welfare overseas. All honorable members realize the growing importance of this department, and the increasing degree to which international affairs will bear upon our national economy. What happens overseas to-day will have a reaction in Australia to-morrow. The time is fast approaching when we shall have to take our proper position in international matters. At the present time, we have five legations overseas - in the United States of America, China, Russia, France, and Latin America as well as High Commissioners in Canada, New Zealand, and India. The members of the Australian diplomatic staffs receive what I regard as a “ raw deal “ compared with the officers of the legations of other nations in Australia. They are expected to mix socially with the staffs of other legations, as well as with other government officials, in the countries to which they are posted. They cannot afford to do this on the salaries that they are paid by the Department of External Affairs. The war has inflated the currency of most of the oversea countries, and living costs in them are extremely high. Admittedly, provision is made for cost of living and exchange in some instances. Nevertheless, T have been informed on good authority, and I believe it to be true, that this provision is totally inadequate to meet even reasonable living costs in the circumstances in which the officers are placed. The counsellor in the United States of America receives only £856 a year. I invite honorable members to compare that salary with the salaries that are paid to high executives on newspapers and in commercial undertakings. The second secretaries in the United States of America and in China receive only £586 a year, and the third secretary in China only £490 a year. The important pointthat I bring out is the distinction that is drawn between the United States of America and Russia. This is revealed by the fact that the officer in Russia who holds a position similar to that of the counsellor in the United States of America receives a salary of £1,052 a year. What reason is there for that differentiation? The official secretary to the High Commissioner in Canada receives £607 a year, and the officers who hold similar posts in New Zealand and in India are paid £598 a year. This is paltry remuneration, considering the qualifications and prestige of the officers concerned. If our representatives are to discharge their functions effectively, they must be adequately recompensed. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) claimed that we have, a limited field from which to choose men for appointment to diplomatic posts, and that there will not be sufficient men of the right type to fill all the appointments that may have to be made. His argument was, not that legations should not be established all over the world, but that we should need to strain every resource to obtain men of the right type. Encouragement is not being given to men with the right qualifications to fill the less important posts. The Government should review the position, and increase the Estimates radically, so that men of the calibre we require may be attracted to the service. Without them, Australia cannot be “ sold “ to the people of other countries. I deplore the long delay in appointing a permanent Minister to the United States of America. We are on the most friendly relations with America, and these are likely to be enduring. Our permanent representative should be a man who is well known in all avenues of Australian public life, and one able to mix with the people of America, in order that the good relations that now exist may be further developed. I commend the Government for having increased the Estimates of this department. However, in the light of the circumstances I have mentioned, it could well have made the increase much greater.
– I join with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) in extion not to fill immediately the position pressing concern at the apparent intenof Australian Minister in China. I recall that that appointment, when first made, was universally acclaimed by honorable members and the people of Australia; I was Minister for External Affairs at the time. If the appointment was justified then, surely it is much more important that the legation should be in active operation at the present time, when Chinese national life is about to be re-established. The reduced vote for the Legation at Chungking suggests that it is not intended to appoint a Minister to that place this financial year.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr, Harrison) compared the salary of the first officer at Moscow with that of the first officer in the Australian Legation in Chungking. However, there must be some obscurity in the figures, because we know that Mr. Keith Officer, when charge d’affaires at Moscow, was receiving a higher salary than is shown in the Estimates. It may be that the item is shown under the heading of officers loaned from other divisions “. That is a matter which the Minister should clear up. The economic adviser attached to the Australian Legation at Washington receives a very high salary, but there is no record of it in these Estimates. Perhaps his salary, too, comes under the heading of officers on loan from other divisions. In conclusion, I draw attention to the paltry salary paid to the permanent administrative head of this department, namely, £1,200 a year. This is, undoubtedly, the Cinderella among departments, and that should not be so.
– The Minister for External Affairs does the job himself.
– Yes, he even dispenses with the advice of his consultants. I suggest that there should be paid to the permanent head a salary commensurate with his responsibilities.
.- Australia has no diplomatic representation on the Continent of Europe except in France and Russia, although the affairs of many other European countries must necessarily be of some concern to Australia after the war. I have in mind particularly such countries as Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria and other central European countries, as well as the Scandinavian countries, Norway, .Sweden and Denmark. Is it intended that our interests in those countries shall be; watched by the diplomatic representative: of Great Britain, and, if so, is it intended’ that representatives of Australia shall b attached to the British legations there? Alternatively, is it proposed that our interests shall be watched by our Australian Minister in Paris?
The growth of our diplomatic representation abroad has been comparatively recent, at any rate on its present scale., but even previously we were not able to. get much information about the work being done by our overseas representatives. I recognize that much of the information which they collected was necessarily confidential to the Government* and security reasons made this particularly the case during the war. However* I understand that press attaches art being appointed to a number of Australian legations. Therefore, it should b«possible to maintain a regular information service for the benefit of Parliament and the nation regarding the work of our legations. Besides the maintenance of friendly relations with other countries, it should be the duty of our legations to educate the people of Australia regarding the manners, habits and outlook of thepeople of the countries in which the legations are situated.
I understand that it has not been th»practice for our senior diplomatic representatives to address themselves to any one in Australia other than members of the Government. Nevertheless, I was informed that our Minister to Moscow, Mr. Maloney, did address some members of Parliament when he was here recently. Therefore, I assume that if it was permissible for him to give his impressions to one section of Parliament, he could have made the same information available to the Parliament as a whole. I do not know what is the precise diplomatic practice in this regard, but it would be very useful if, from time to time, Ministers who returned from abroad were able to give to members of Parliament, perhaps through the Empire Parliamentary Association, an account of their impressions of the countries where they had been serving.
– I view with the greatest concern the way in which our External Affairs
Department has been extending its activities. Its intrusion into the field of foreign representation should be carefully watched and our policy should be that what we do in this direction should be well done. I fear that the department is extending its activities in altogether too many directions, and that those activities are not of the kind from which we can expect the best results. I sincerely trust that we shall not be burdened with the expense of establishing and maintaining legations in Holland, Germany, Yugoslavia and Italy.
– I did not suggest that we should.
– I am glad to hear it. The justification for establishing representation overseas is based on two grounds: first, the likelihood of political conflict between ourselves and country concerned; and, secondly, the extent of our trade relations with that country. All the talk about culture, &c, does not amount to a row of beans. For instance, if any Minister can get up and tell us in plain, straightforward terms what benefit Australia has derived from its representation in China and Russia I should be very interested to hear him. Both those legations are very costly to maintain, and [ cannot understand how any man could be ambitious to represent Australia in either place. I cannot think of any worse fate to which a man could subject himself and his family than to be dumped in Chungking for five years. I have heard descriptions of the place recently, and I am convinced that living there would be a self-imposed penance which should go a long way towards making for eternal felicity in the hereafter. Recently, Australia’s Minister to Moscow returned to Australia and visited Canberra, but members of the Opposition were not afforded an opportunity to hear him, although he addressed some members of the Parliament. This was the opposite of our experience when some of us wanted to interview a certain other gentleman. On that occasion we were told that such an interview could not be permitted unless he met all the members of Parliament at one time. I suppose it is a case of different people, different methods. The relationships which Australia should cultivate in preference to all others are those with the English-speaking countries, and particularly with the countries of the British Empire. I emphasize that, although the United States of America is an English-speaking country, it is not an English-thinking country, and the distinction is important. Outside the realm of imperial relationships, our interest is strictly limited to those countries which border on the Pacific Ocean. Perhaps I am the only member of this House who will express such opinions, but they ought to be expressed. I have some appreciation of the opinion of a great many Australians on this subject. Of course, I know that there are some persons who think that we ought to send Ministers all over the place. Some even believe that it is a good thing to have a peregrinating Minister in South America. I do not know whether he is supposed to visit Central America, also. It may be that, eventually, we shall be told that we ought to have a Minister in Central Africa. I suggest that the taxpayers of Australia are burdened heavily enough already without having to pay for unnecessary representation overseas. “When, after mature consideration, it is decided that the true and permanent interests of Australia - not merely the academic and passing interests - merit the establishment of diplomatic representation in any country, our official representative and his staff should not be made to feel that they are semi-paupers, as some of our representatives in “Washington must feel. Any one who has been recently in “Washington knows that the cost of living and of entertainment in that city is very high. The scattering of Australian representatives all over the world does not appeal to me, and is more likely to injure Australia than to benefit it. The whole subject of Australia’s diplomatic representation abroad should be considered very carefully. The best measure we have of the value of such services is that which we see under our own eyes in Canberra. I shall be enlightened if any one can tell me what useful purpose some of the foreign diplomatic representatives serve in Australia outside a certain amount of social entertainment, which does not appeal to me. About the foulest thing on earth is the cocktail party, whoever happens to be the host.
– The honorable member is a teetotaller.
– I am. I am a Mohammedan in that respect.
– A wowser!
– Possibly. Outside of social entertainment the foreign representatives do not appear to serve any useful purpose whatever and I have a very strong suspicion that the usefulness of our representatives in certain places overseas is no greater.
.- I agree with other honorable gentlemen that the Department of External Affairs is scarcely regarded by this Government as having the status that it ought to have. For that matter, no previous government has given it the status it deserves. That is indicated in many ways, but one good measuring stick, which was referred to by the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart), is the pitifully small salary of the permanent head. I am certainly not able to throw any stones in that respect, because that very low salary range obtained in my day as Minister for External Affairs. I think that each Minister in turn has, after a very long wrestle with the Treasurer of the day, succeeded in stepping up the salary of his permanent head by about £100 a year. But that is just one indication of the unimportance that appears to be attached generally by successive governments to the Department of External Affairs. It is an important department. It is a specialized department. Its functions are not to be compared with the administrative functions of any other Commonwealth department. I am bound to say, without reflection upon the gentleman concerned, that E was amazed, when it was decided recently to appoint as the administrative head of the department, a gentleman, who though estimable and with a fine record of skill in the Department of the Treasury, has not had, to my knowledge, any previous experience whatever in external affairs, ft is positively incredible that the Government, seeking a permanent head for the department, should have appointed a not very senior officer of the Treasury. I hope I make it quite clear that I make no reflection whatever upon Mr. Dunk, who has been appointed. I reflect on the Government for having chosen a gentleman so inexperienced in the specialized and highly important business of developing a foreign service for Australia. Thai is a peculiar state of affairs. We have not a very effective department. It is of comparatively recent birth as a separate department of state standing on its own feet, and it is very scantily staffed. That is revealed by the staff list. There are not to be found there, as are to be found in almost every other federal department, a group of public servants, old and experienced in their own specialized departments. It is a department that must necessarily grow slowly if it is to grow with experienced men. I find myself in agreement with the criticism by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) of the over-rapid expansion of the department through succeeding decisions by the Government to make more and. more appointments of Ministers to foreign countries. There are two things that one needs to have in mind before a decision is taken to appoint a Minister to a foreign country. Surely there must be a clear-cut necessity for such an appointment. Surely there must be a recognizable and important function for the new Minister to perform. We are not to confuse the functions of diplomacy with the functions of trade. They are entirely separate. It may well be that there is justification for the appointment of a trade commissioner and consuls in a foreign country where there could be no necessity whatever for the appointment of a high diplomatic representative.
The first postulate is that before you decide to establish a foreign ministry there must be necessity for it, a function for it to perform. The second, which should not pass from the mind of the Minister for External Affairs when advancing a proposal for the appointment of a diplomatic representative in a country, is that he can select a man suitable to fill the post. It is not easy in a country like this, which has no career diplomats available, to put your hands on a man equipped with such a manner and such a background of experience that he can take and discharge properly and effectively the functions of a foreign Minister. The older countries, of course, have people who grow up in career diplomacy, graduating through successive appointments as third secretary, second secretary, first secretary, counsellor, minister, and eventually ambassador. Such channels of experience do not exist in this country. So, when the time comes for us to appoint a minister to such an important country as the United States of America, we find that we have no career diplomats here whom we can appoint. Therefore we have to find some one outside the realm of the diplomatic service capable of taking such a post.
– We have a training school.
– I do not know that we have, but if we have, I hope that the honorable gentleman does not expect that we can shove men through the school of diplomacy like meat through a sausage machine and turn them out in a few months or even a year competent to represent Australia in the United States of America. That just cannot be done. The Government has encountered the difficulty of selection in that respect. I hold the view that when it comes to an important diplomatic appointment, in the absence of career diplomats, any government is bound to look within the ranks of those who have sat in Federal Cabinets. That has been the experience. Various governments have been driven to examine the ranks of those who sit or have sat in Federal Cabinets, and have the essential status, background and knowledge of high policy in matters that concern Australia.
– They can be expected to do a good job.
– Usually we find a limiting factor. It is revealed constantly. The post of Australian Minister to China has been vacant for about a year. I do not doubt that itis vacant because the Commonwealth Government just cannot put its hands on the right man to fill it. I sympathize with the Government. It is very hard to find a man equipped and willing to take up such a post, because, once occupied, it probably puts him permanently out of politics or whatever realm of activity he may be in. After all, it is not a career appointment. So I am bound to criticize this expansion of the department at a time when we neither have the men to fill the offices from nor the occasion to make the appointments. It is essential that the appointee shall have status. We have in Canada as High Commissioner, Mr. Stirling, a very admirable gentleman. But I put it to the Government that Mr. Stirling as Australian High Commissioner in Canada with the background that he has - why, a few years ago he was private secretary to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies)!
– Why hold that against him?
– I am not holding it against him at all. I do not want my remarks to be misconstrued. But since then he has been occupying a not very important post as representative of the Department of External Affairs in the Foreign Office of Great Britain.
– He was an excellent private secretary, a barrister by profession and a man with some background.
– He was a private secretary, anyway, and succeeds in Canada an appointee of the status of Sir William Glasgow. He has to sit side by side as an equal with the Ministers of other countries and the High Commissioners of other British Dominions and the United Kingdom itself. The High Commissioner for the United Kingdom is a former senior Minister of the British Government. There again is revealed this very real problem, which is incapable of solution at short notice, of discovering men suitable to occupy these posts. That makes it all the more incredible that the Government should have gone ahead and appointed an Australian Minister at large inSouth America. What on earth he is to do goodness only knows. I hope that before this discussion ends the Acting Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Makin) will explain to the Parliament what function is to be performed by the Australian Minister at large in South America. Why do we need to have there a Minister who has to be supplied with a staff when we are so desperately short of trained staff at Washington and Chungking and in the office of the High Commissioner in London, where there are tremendously important and urgent functions to be performed? Why should we be dissipating our pitifully small resources of trained men by posting them to South America, when heaven only knows what they are to do there? If Australia desires to increase its trade with the Latin American States, I point out that it is not the function of a diplomatic representative to scout for trade. The Government should recognize the importance and peculiar status of the Department of External Affairs. An adequate salary should be paid to an experienced head of the department, and the Government should refrain from appointing new Ministers in foreign countries until we are able to get persons capable of performing the functions, and certainly until we are sure that we have 4 sufficient number of competent men of adequate status to occupy those positions.
– I rise
To correct an impression created in the mind of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), and possibly in the minds of other members of the committee, regarding my reference to the fact that Australia was not directly represented in a number of European countries. I did not intend, as the honorable member seemed to gather, to recommend that the Government should have direct representation on the basis of a legation in those countries; but I was anxious to discover what machinery existed for Australia to express its view in the event of matters arising there of special interest to this country. I think that the Acting Minister (Mr. Makin) had that impression, and not the impression which the honorable member for Barker gained.
I desire now to direct the attention of the Government to what appears to “be an extraordinary disparity between the representation and expenditure on diplomatic functions in the countries mentioned, and the representation and expenditure in respect of commercial matters. If honorable members will examine the vote of the Department of External Affairs, they will see that it totals £260,600 for the year; whereas the estimated expenditure for our commercial intelligence service abroad under the vote Lit the Department of Commerce and
Agriculture amounts to a mere £12,600. At this stage, I am not criticizing the amount of the vote for our diplomatic representation, but by comparison it suggests that we have a pathetically inadequate commercial representation abroad. We cannot maintain an effective representation for commercial purposes for an expenditure of only £12,600. Yet, apparently, that is the total amount to be voted this year - a year in which we must pursue every possible avenue of export trade in order to maintain employment for our people and keep those industries in operation which were created in war-time; a year in which, with the prospect of a surplus of primary produce, we must look to overseas markets if that production is to be completely absorbed. Clearly, a real need exists for the commercial representation abroad of Australia, and the small amount which has been applied for the purpose of commercial intelligence, compared with the vote for diplomatic intelligence and representation, calls for an explanation.
Reference has been made by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) to our diplomatic representation in South America. I understand that the principal task of the Australian Minister al Large in South America would’ be te attend to ‘the development of trade.
– The development of trade is not usually done through diplomatic channels.
– I agree; but if the Minister is not to make trade inquiries and examine trade possibilities, what useful function will he perform, and what has the Government in mind regarding diplomatic contacts? Those matters require explanation. Personally, I am greatly concerned at the small sum which has been provided for commercial representation. If our export industries do not receive effective encouragemenand assistance from the Government, they will be compelled either to maintain disproportionately expensive representation abroad or send, perhaps unnecessarily, their own executives on missions overseas. The information which they require should be obtained for them through a suitable government commercial office.
– I endorse the suggestion of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) regarding the appointment at an early date of a High Commissioner to South Africa. It is most desirable that the only gap which exists in our diplomatic relations with other members of the British Empire should be filled at the earliest possible moment. Our best policy in the immediate future will be to strengthen our relations within the Empire. For that reason, some diplomatic contact. with South Africa is of extreme importance.’
I endorse also the remarks of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) regarding our missions abroad. The tendency appears to be to send missions to many countries with which we have little or no trade. It would be far better, in the interests of Australia, to strengthen our missions in those countries which are of first importance in this world. 1 have in mind the “ Big Five “ and the Pacific countries, in which I include Russia. At present, most of our missions abroad have small staffs, and the salaries paid to our representatives are also small.- Any one who has lived in a foreign capital and mixed with other diplomats will realize how much a person i3 at a disadvantage if his financial position is inferior to that of members of other missions. This applies particularly to the head of the mission, but it extends, in no small degree, to members of the mission, including the second and third secretaries. If- they are to carry out their duties properly, they must mix with the members of the other missions, and, also, with the ordinary public in the capital city of the country to which they are accredited. The Government should devote considerable thought to this matter. Our representation in foreign capitals should be on such a basis that our people will be on an equal footing with the members of other missions. That would be preferable to dissipating our strength in countries where our interests, at present, are small.
When the Acting Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Makin) replies to matters raised in this discussion, I hope that he will refer to the Australian Legation in the United States of America. The counsellor receives a salary of £856 per annum, and the second secretary £5S6. Those salaries are a mere bagatelle in a country of high prices. However, the- Estimates provide for officers’ special allowances, amounting to £2,300, and exchange on salaries and allowances paid abroad is £5,500. Therefore, additional money should be available to certain officials. I should like to know how thai money is distributed. Is all of it paid to the Minister, or is it divided among members of the staff so that they shall be able to afford to live on an equality with the members of other missions?
The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) drew some distinction between the ordinary diplomatic functions of members of a mission, and trade functions. He implied that trade functionscould be more efficiently carried out by atrade commissioner. A mission abroad is now concerned as much with trade and commerce as with political and diplomatic matters. Fifteen years ago, it was considered almost degrading for a diplomat to handle trade matters. He dealt with high policy and general relations between the countries on a political plane. But with the growth of world trade, more and more emphasis has been placed on the trade matters to which the head of the mission is supposed to attend. Therefore, the honorable member for Indi missed the point when he suggested that some differentiation should be made between diplomatic and trade functions. However, I agree with his suggestion that in many countries such as Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, and some of the Latin American states, where our political or diplomatic relations are not of great importance, Australia should have trade commissioners instead of diplomatic missions. We have no real relations with them. Instead of dissipating our strength and financial resources by enlarging the number of missions abroad, we should concentrate upon the missions which we have already established and-see that they are maintained numerically and financially at the greatest possible strength.
Regarding the selection of the heads of missions, I realize that it is difficult to find in Australia persons who have had suitable experience, and speak foreign languages. Therefore, our choice must, necessarily, be limited. But we need not necessarily choose a person who has been a great administrator, such as a former Minister of the Crown or a public servant, merely because he enjoys considerable prestige ‘ in Australia. In my experience of diplomatic life - and I have had a good deal of it - I found that the people who count most in the countries to which they are accredited are not those who have a string of titles, substantial private resources, and a great record of service, but those who “ go down “ well, and are good mixers, who have common sense, and know what they want and where to get it. It is futile, when you are accredited to a foreign capital, to enter a room in which other diplomats are seated, bang your fist on the table and shout, “ I want this ! “. That method will not produce results. As in ordinary life, the tactful way is the successful way. Certain individuals may possess many of the qualifications needed in these positions but lack tact. Mention has been made of Mr. Stirling’s appointment as High Commissioner in Canada. I do not know Mr. Stirling very well, but I believe that because he possesses the qualifications which I have indicated he may be discharging the duties of the office much more satisfactorily than would some other individuals who may enjoy high prestige in this country.
– Speaking as Acting Minister for External Affairs I express appreciation of the manner in which honorable members have expressed themselves in respect of this important department. I believe that they have made the correct approach. A diversity of views has been revealed. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) have looked at certain subjects differently from the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), but no doubt the views have been honestly held in each instance, and for that reason they deserve careful consideration. I do, however, deprecate strongly any criticism of diplomatic representation here in Australia. We are most happy to have been honoured by such distinguished representation from other countries, and it i* unfortunate that any comment might remotely suggest otherwise.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to the situation, at the moment, at the Chungking Legation. Australia has been most happy, within the last week, to welcome to this country the new Chinese Minister Plenipotentiary who will, I am sure, represent his great Republic with distinction. We warmly welcome him. I trust that, very shortly, I shall be able to announce the appointment of a new Australian Minister to China. This country was represented in China in a highly satisfactory manner by Sir Frederic Eggleston, who did much to cement the good relations which existed between the two countries at the time of his appointment. I pay tribute to the excellent work of Sir Frederic. I know that, at times, he carried out his duties at considerable physical inconvenience, because his health was not good. His self-sacrifice was much appreciated by the Government. When it became necessary to appoint a new Australian’ Minister to the United States of America because of the return of Sir Owen Dixon to Australia, Sir Frederic Eggleston, because of his wide knowledge of Pacific affairs and his long experience of public life in Australia, was an appropriate choice. I am sure that the announcement of the name of the new Minister to China when made will meet with general satisfaction. The delay in making the appointment has not been due, in any sense to a failure to appreciate, the importance of the office; but the Government has been faced with some ..difficulties in connexion with the matter.
– It does not appear that these Estimates make any provision for a new appointment.
– The honorable member may rest assured that that matter will be adjusted. The honorable member for Watson spoke of the need for the diplomatic representation of this country in all Empire countries. I concur in the views that he expressed. He mentioned, in particular, the desirability of appointing an Australian representative to
South Africa. Conversations are at present proceeding between Australia and South Africa on that subject, and I hope that, in the near future, reciprocal appointments will be made.
The honorable member for Wentworth urged more liberal financial provision for Australian representatives abroad, in order that they may be able to discharge their duties with due dignity. This country has assumed new status as a nation in recent years, and the Government recognizes the need to place Australian representatives abroad on a footing commensurate with the importance of the duties they have to discharge. At present, a very high cost of living faces our representatives in some countries, and I fear that some of them are finding it difficult to meet the financial obligations of their offices.
– Is the Government doing any thing to meet that situation ?
– There are difficulties, and the Government is doing what it can to cope with them.
– Inflation has developed in certain countries.
– That is so, and proper provision must be made to offset the financial embarrassment in which inflation may involve our representatives. I shall watch the position closely and do what I can to correct anomalies which arise in relation to salaries and living costs.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to the position of Mr. Keith Officer, Charge d’Affaires at Chungking. I make warm acknowledgment of the splendid service that Mr. Officer has rendered to this country, not only at Chungking but also, previously, at Tokyo and Moscow.
– Is he not overdue for promotion?
– I am hopeful that arrangements will be made shortly for Mr. Officer to be granted leave so that he may enjoy an extended rest and restore his health which, I understand, has become impaired because of the strain of the long terms he has served in various important offices abroad. I hope, also, that during his leave he may receive, an appointment which will be regarded as a proper recognition of the very satis factory service he has rendered to th«Department of External Affairs in particular, and to the nation at large.
The honorable member for Fawkner asked for some particulars of the manner in which Australian representation on the continent of Europe was being provided for. A good deal of work in thi.’ connexion has been done through the office of the High Commissioner in th*United Kingdom. Mr. Bruce has been acting as Minister Plenipotentiary to th,Netherlands and has also discharged important duties in respect of Scandinavian and other European countries. The consular representatives in Australia of some of these countries have also served as channels for necessary communications of mutual interest.
An inquiry has been made as to whether the press attaches at our legations abroad could not provide a regular information service for Australia. The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) could speak with more authority than I can on this subject, and I shall bring the remarks of honorable members to bis notice. It is, perhaps, desirable thai, regular bulletins should be issued by press attaches abroad on matters of public interest in Australia.
I regret that the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) saw fit to imply that Mr. Dunk would be likely to be deficient in the qualifications that would enable him satisfactorily to fill the position of Secretary to the Department of External Affairs. The honorable member admitted that Mr. Dunk’s qualification; for dealing with Treasury matters art unexceptionable, but said he was at a loss to understand in what way that officer was specially qualified to administer external affairs. I have ‘been deeply impressed by the remarkable knowledge which Mr. Dunk possesses of external affairs. The consultations .1 have had with him have made it quite apparent to me that he must have made a deep study of the subject. He has most effectively discharged his duties. I do not know of any man who could have displayed greater ability in the position, or have done himself more credit. We are extremely fortunate in having in th, Department of External Affairs a man possessing such outstanding qualities.
The reference to Mr. Stirling, at present High Commissioner in Canada, was as ungracious as it was unfair. This gentleman has rendered very worthy public service and enjoys the complete confidence of the Government. He is performing his duties most worthily.
The honorable member for Fawkner questioned the wisdom of having representation in South America. The war has proved to all people how close all nations really are to each other. This country now has an added responsibility to maintain the best relations with other countries. South America borders on the Pacific Ocean, and we have much to gain by having a thorough knowledge and understanding of mutual problems.
– It would be easier were South America one country. As it is not, where do we stop?
– It was for that reason that a minister plenipotentiary was appointed. He is really a minister at large, and can devote his attention to more than one country.
– He will not be a minister at large. He would not be a minister at all, unless accredited to some country. I understand that he has been accredited to Brazil.
– He can do valuable work in maintaining contacts with other parts of the continent.We shall also be appointing at an early date a representative to Chile. We considered it wise to have representation in South America, in order that closer and better relations might be cultivated, and we might be fully informed upon economic and political matters of mutual concern.
– Is the Minister prepared to comment upon the salary paid to Mr. Dunk, in view of the high encomiums he has expressed in regard to that officer?
– Mr. Dunk is worthy of as high a salary as is received by any officer of the Commonwealth Public Service who occupies a similar position. Salary matters are governed by the Public Service Board.
I hope that my explanations have satisfied the committee, and that our representation abroad will be so effective as to enhance the reputation of this country and increase the advantages that are derivable from our contacts with other nations.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £2,362,000.
– I should like to have from the Minister an explanation of the item “Incidental and other expenditure -Re- payments of advances to valuers for the purchase of motor cars may be credited to this vote, £22,830”, which appear in Division No. 29 - Taxation Office, under “ General Expenses “. What is the history of this transaction? What advances have been repaid, and what valuers participated in them?
The item “ Temporary and casual employees “ appears in Division No. 34 - Census and Statistics. The expenditure last year was £37,183, and the vote was £31,000. The proposed vote for this year is £35,000. Yet the expenditure last year on salaries and allowances of permanent employees was only £35,186 - approximately £2,000 less - and the proposed vote for this year is £41,000,or £6,000 greater. I cannot understand why there should be a vote of £35,000 for temporary and casual employees in such a permanent department as that of census and statistics. Doubtless, there is a satisfactory explanation.
The salaries of the temporary and casual employees of the Government Printer totalled £51,216 last year, and the estimate for this year is £58,000, whereas the salaries and wages of the permanent staff totalled only £24,778 last year, and the estimate for this year is £27,700. Those figures appear to be out of proportion.
Although the annual report of the Auditor-General was presented last June, printed copies of it have been circulated only within the last week. Doubtless, the delay in having the report printed was due to the shortage of man-power at the Government Printing Office. I understand that that office is not a protected undertaking, for what reason I do not know. It is obvious to everybody that the work of the office has enormously increased, and has imposed a considerable strain. The staff consists of 72 compositors, operators, mechanics, binders, and other employees. Notwithstanding the enormous increase of the work, that is only three more employees man the Government Printer had in 1938 and six fewer than he had in 1940. The Government Printer, Mr. Johnston, has done an excellent job in most exacting and trying circumstances, and deserves congratulation for his efficient management. When we remember the shortage of man-power we can appreciate the difficulties under which the Government Printer has had to carry on. Therefore, [ urge that the Government should arrange for the early release of printers from the services so that the work of this department will be no longer handicapped and the production of printed matter, delayed. I draw attention particularly to the index for Hansard. The last bound volume to which an index is attached was issued on the 31st March, 1944, eighteen months ago. I urge the Assistant Treasurer to give honorable members information on the points that [ have raised.
, -Like the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), I am very curious about item 9, incidental and other expenses, including the repayment of advances to valuers for the purchase of motor vehicles. We know that £38,000,000 in taxes is still outstandingthat assessments have not yet even been issued in respect of this amount. I am interested to know whether the motor cars referred to are to be used by taxation officials to run down the defaulters. We do not know who the valuers are, nor for what purpose the cars are to be purchased. The Minister should give us some information on this point before the unfortunate taxpayers “ go bush “ for their own protection.
Item 4 sets aside £7,600 for fuel, light, power, water supply and sanitation. How can the Government reasonably appropriate money for the purchase of electric power at a time when the workers of the Bunnerong Power Station are on strike? For all the Government knows, no electric power may be produced, and the Government is making no attempt to settle the strike. Of course I should have no objection to the Taxation Branch being without light and power, but I am concerned over the expenditure of the taxpayers’ money and the Government, as I have said, is doing nothing to see that the workers at the Bunnerong Power Station go back totheir employment.
– The honorable’ member may not discuss the strike at the Bunnerong Power Station.
– Surely I am. entitled to ask why provision has been made in the Estimates for light and power when there is no certainty thai the power will be available?
– The honorable member may not discuss the Bunnerong Power House dispute.
– I merely made a passing reference to it.
– Perhaps they propose to use gas in the taxation office.
– That is possible, and if it is really the intention of the Taxation Branch to use gas for light and power, I have nothing further - to say upon the subject. But I have a strong suspicion that it is not proposed to us* gas for this purpose.
– The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) is once more exhibiting his ignorance: he is making a burlesque of the debate. He ought to know that the electric current used at Canberra does not come from the Bunnerong Power House. The honorable member also expressed suspicion about the item for the purchase of motor cars for valuers attached to the Taxation Branch. I suppose he knows that the Taxation Branch employs valuers who travel about the country, and they must travel in something - usually motor cars. The money for the purchase of the cars is advanced by the department to the officers, who repay it by instalments. When the advance is first made, it is shown as expenditure, and the repayments, as they come in, are credited to the account. It is a mere matter of bookkeeping and the total amount involved is small, being only £22,000.
– The Minister will admit that we were justified in asking for an explanation.
– Well, I hope the right honorable member is satisfied with the explanation. We come now to the increase of the number of temporary employees. It must be remembered that Parliament has been sitting since February, so that it has been one of the longest sessions on record. When Parliament is in session, it is necessary to engage temporary employees at the Printing Office, and the fact that the session has lasted so long accounts for the increased vote. Moreover, permanent employees are now returning from the forces and rejoining the staff, and their pay, which was formerly debited against the service departments, is now debited against the Treasury.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £403,400.
– The amount set down for salaries for permanent officers of the Reporting Branch is £7,000, but the amount for temporary and casual employees is £13,000. There is probably a satisfactory explanation of this, but I cannot understand why, when the amount to be appropriated for the payment of permanent officers of the Crown Solicitor’s Office is £47,600, an amount of £63,000 should be appropriated for temporary and casual employees. The war is now over, and departmental officers who have been with the services should soon be returning. Is it the intention of the Government to continue to employ a large number of casuals in this department?
The estimated expenditure on the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration is shown as £20,530. We know that there has been much industrial unrest in Australia recently, and the unions have displayed a tendency to step right outside the Arbitration Court. This makes one wonder whether the Government proposes to keep the Arbitration Court in being. If so, it should use the court and enforce its awards. Then the expenditure here provided for would be justified ; otherwise, the sooner the item is removed from the Estimates, and the Government reveals itself in its true colours, the better it will be. I suggest that the Arbitration Court should be allowed to function as it was intended, rather than that the unions should be permitted to set up mob rule.
The proposed vote for the Commonwealth Investigation Branch is £38,800. I should like to know whether some of this money is to be devoted to paying the salaries of the persons who investigated the Australia First movement. If so, the amount should be drastically reduced, having regard to the recently published report of Mr. Justice Clyne. Those officers obviously made such a “ muck “ of the investigation that there is no justification for voting money for their benefit. Because of their failure to do their duty properly, the country ie now committed to pay considerable amounts of money to persons who were wrongfully interned. Action should be taken against those who have caused the Government to be held up to ridicule. If the Government will give an assurance on this point, I shall do everything I can to ensure that the Estimates have a rapid and harmonious passage through the committee.
.- The Estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department propose a substantially increased expenditure this financial year. The estimated expenditure in respect of the Crown Solicitor’s Office is substantially greater than it was last year. The proposed vote for the Commonwealth Investigation Branch is greater, although one would assume that with the anticipated repeal of many national security regulations its work would substantially decrease. I do not know whether the Minister would comment on the inference that one could draw, that national security regulations instituted for war purposes are to be continued, necessitating thereby expansion of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch. The proposed expenditure on patents, trade marks and designs leaps more than £17,000 above the expenditure last year. I do not know what that portends. No indication has been given, as far as 1 know, of a policy that would necessitate such an increase. I emphatically agree with the remarks of the honorable member for “Wentworth about conciliation and arbitration. No one who has studied the work of the Arbitration Court in recent years can fail to be dismayed at the developments in the last year or so of the Labour Administration. The Arbitration Court has proved time and time again a wonderful source of strength for the Australian economy and for the guidance of all sections of Australian industry, and it is my belief, based on information from various sources, that the court and the arbitration system are to-day under insidious attack by the representatives in this country of the Communist party. They have deliberately set out to smash our arbitration system, not by the deliberate method of condemning the court itself and leaving it at that, but by proposing what they claim to be a better system for the settlement of industrial disputes. They talk of conciliation, they talk of agreements for a five-year term and other terms between the employers and employees in industries; but if we look a little beneath the surface we see that it is just the old “ protection racket “ that flourishes in certain parts of the United States of America. If one turns to the well-documented and detailed statements of “ Jack “ Lang in his book Communism in Australia one will find set out-
– Politics makes strange bedfellows.
– I believe Lang to be a good Australian, as, I believe, we on this side are good Australians. I have yet to be convinced that the members of the Communist party in this country are good Australians, and [ have yet to be convinced that what they are trying to do in relation to the arbitration system is anything but a part of their general scheme to destroy the democratic institutions that we have created. I am a .firm believer in the court. Both as a Minister and as a counsel practising before it I know something at first hand of its work. It has a wonderfully steadying influence in the life of the community. I believe that the Government has brought much of its industrial difficulties on its own head by its failure to give full support to maintain the authority of the court in the decisions that it has given. I do not need to elaborate the matter ‘because the point is sufficiently clear and cogent for honorable members of the committee. I hope that the Acting Attorney-General will do better than his predecessor in reinforcing the court and maintaining its authority.
.- The protestations of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) will fall on deaf ears when honorable members consider that it was not so long ago that the party to which he belongs, led by Mr. Bruce and the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), was advocating the smashing of the arbitration system. Now the honorable gentleman says that the Communists are trying to smash it. Well, it is possible that this is the case. Perhaps they got their inspiration from the Bruce-Page Government. Increased expenditure on the Crown Solicitor’s Office is proposed, I believe, because of the expansion of the Legal Service Bureau. If that h the reason, the Attorney-General and the Government are to be highly commended. I have had some experience of the work that the bureau is doing for returned servicemen, and I can say without qualification that it is doing an exceptional job - one for which there has been great need for a very long time.
Many people think that the High Court has only appellate jurisdiction and no original jurisdiction. In view of the fact that illness and the acceptance of diplomatic jobs make the number of justices of the High Court insufficient to cope with its work within the allotted time, three more justices should be appointed. I believe that at the moment the Chief Justice, Sir John Latham, is ill. I do not know when he will be able to resume his duties. For that reason the sittings of the High Court that were to have taken place in Western Australia were not possible. That may not be right up to date, but it was the position a little while ago. There are some men that would make admirable members of the High Court Bench. Mr. Barry of the Victorian Bar would be a very good judge. Other men of similar ability would serve the High Court with distinction to themselves and benefit to the country. I .believe that the proposed vote of £3SS,000 for the Commonwealth In vestigation Branch is hardly sufficient for it to do the important work that devolves upon it. I know some of the work it has Jone, quite apart from the investigation if the Australia First Movement, and I consider that the provision on the Estimates is little enough. I bring to the notice of the Acting Attorney-General the considerable delay in determining patents applications. The delay runs into a year or more. With things moving so speedily as they do these days he might well consider expanding the staff or in some other way making arrangements for the more expeditious determination of patents hpplications.
– The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) questioned the capacity of the Commonwealth Investigation ‘ Branch, taking as an illustration of its alleged incapacity the reports about the Australia First Movement. The Commonwealth Investigation Branch was not associated with that matter. The investigation was conducted by Army Intelligence.
– I am pleased to hear that. It raises the Attorney-General’s Department in my estimation.
– Perhaps, if it had had. something to do with the investigation, the result would have been a little different. The honorable member for Wentworth did not specify the particular industries or awards of. the Arbitration Court that had given rise to the matters of which he complained.
– The O’Connell case is « pretty good illustration.
– The honorable mem.ber is speaking of the coal-miners?
– Well, that matter comes under the Department of Supply and Shipping. The honorable member referred to the Arbitration Court. The court consists of Chief Judge Piper, and his brother judges. The special tribunals dealing with the coalmining industry come under the Department of Supply and Shipping. So the honorable gentleman was rather wide of the mark.
– Well, I shall repeat my remarks when we reach the proposed vote for that department.
– As I represent th<> Minister for Supply and Shipping, I may be able to give the honorable member another answer then. Unfortunately, wihave to admit considerable delay in dealing with patents cases. Applications yet to be dealt with run into thousands. It ir because qualified examiners have not been available. Honorable members will appreciate the need to have men qualified for the work. Some are in the forces and others have been given duties in other departments. There is a tussle between the Attorney-General’s Department and the other departments as to whether these officers shall return to their formeduties. Another problem arises in the shortage of houses in Canberra. It will be realized that it is difficult to attract men to work in this city if they have to be separated from their families. With regard to the High Court some justices’ are already in Perth and others are on their way.
– On their way out?
– That is unkind. ThiHigh Court’s work, like that of most people and authorities, has increased and its cost has risen accordingly. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) referred to the expense involved in thi legal advice tendered to ex-servicemen That service has been most successful The cases handled number many thousands. That is evidence of how necessary the Legal Service Bureau is. In addition, the department has opened a Deputy Crown Solicitor’s Office in Townsville and enlarged the Crown Solicitors’ activities in South Australia and Western Australia. Naturally, the war greatly increased the legal work of the department. Large numbers of regular tions were promulgated and numerous prosecutions were launched for breaches of those regulations. In Sydney, many prosecutions have still to come before the courts. All these .matters entail extra work and increased costs, not only for staff but also for reporting the proceedings.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed vote, £549,300.
– For rent of buildings this year the estimated expenditure is £164,000 compared with the expenditure last year of £144,699. When I examined the amounts which make up the increase of £19,301, I discovered that rent paid for the Department of Commerce and Agriculture would be £6,400 this year compared with £2,431 last year, and for the Department of Social Services, £21,000 this year compared with £13,911 last year. Indeed, the rent payable for premises occupied by nearly every Commonwealth department will be higher this year than it was last year. With he termination of the war I expected the Government to reduce the size of many departments and that, in turn, should reduce the rents for offices. I should like the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) to explain the reason for the ;n crease.
.- It is not clear to me whether the estimate of £164,000 for the rent of buildings covers the rent of premises which are hired by the Department of the Interior for other departments.
– It is apportioned between a number of departments.
– The war has ended and we expect a substantial reduction of government activity, particularly in those departments which were the product of war conditions. Obviously, the government has not attempted to solve its problem of accommodation by constructing new buildings, because this item relates to the rent of buildings and not the erection of new premises. An enormous area of office space is occupied in the capital cities by government departments. This is causing a great deal of difficulty and, indeed, hardship in particular instances, to the former civilian occupants of those premises. It is also making the rehabilitation of many exservicemen much more difficult, because they are unable to secure suitable premises in the capital cities. The Department of the Interior should endeavour to vacate, as quickly as possible the premises occupied in the capital cities where the need no longer exists to maintain departments at their wartime size.
The Government should consider constructing its own offices rather than continue to occupy large buildings in the capital cities. Before the war, most honorable members advocated the transfer to Canberra of the work of Commonwealth departments which could be conveniently conducted from here. That would have necessitated the construction of permanent government buildings and would have had certain administrative advantages. If the new premises were erected now, they would relieve the pressure on office accommodation in the capital cities. Honorable members are entitled to an explanation of the increase of rents. I ask the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) whether he proposes to reduce this item by curtailing the size of Commonwealth departments, particularly those of war-time growth, or by the construction of government buildings.
Regarding the Electoral Branch, the estimated increase of expenditure for the current financial year, compared with the last financial year, is £27,381. That has an ominous ring. The financial year will end on the 30th June, 1946, and before the end of that year the election will be held. No honorable member likes elections, or the thought that an election may be held six months or twelve months earlier than the Constitution requires. During the last financial year the referendum was conducted and this year’s vote, which is £27,381 more than last year’s expenditure, seems significant.
.- The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) asked for an explanation of Division No. 50 - “ Rent of buildings, £164,000”. This provision is to meet the requirements for all departments, and leaves a small margin for unforeseen developments during the year. The total of £164,000 is £19,300 more than the expenditure for 1944-45. For the Prime Minister’s Department, the increase of rent is £735, which is payable for additional accommodation acquired for the
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. For the Department of the Treasury, the increase is £1,000, being payable for accommodation acquired for the Taxation Branch during the last financial year. An amount of £2,700 is payable on behalf of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department for the acquisition of more adequate office space for Deputy Crown Solicitors. The increase of £1,400, on behalf of the Department of the Interior, is due to rent previously charged to the War Service Section of the Estimates but now included under’ this item. Additional accommodation for the Department of Health, neces- sitated by the passing of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act 1944, has increased the rent by £1,000. An expenditure of £4,000 during the last financial year by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture under this item was reduced to £2,431 by the repayment of an amount representing rent on behalf of the Meat Canning Committee. In previous years, this amount had been incorrectly charged to this vote. An amount of £7,100 is provided for the Department of Social Services, which requires additional accommodation because of the passing of he Unemployment and Sickness Benefit Act. Rent attributable to the war is provided under Division 198a. The expenditure under Division 48 and Division 198a does not represent the total Commonwealth commitments for rents payable for leased accommodation, as provision is made iti other sections of the Estimates for the requirements of the Department of Defence, the Department of Supply and Shipping, the Department of Munitions, the Department of Civil Aviation, the Repatriation Department, and the Postmaster-General’s Department.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) asked for an explanation of the increase of the electoral vote. This covers such expenditure as the printing of rolls, and allowances to electoral officers and other persons for keeping rolls, and to postmen for the collection of information regarding changes of address, in connexion with the preparation of Commonwealth rolls.
– Last year the expenditure under this item was £9,000. Why has an amount of £34,00f been provided this year?
– Increased provision under this item is necessary to meet the cost of reprinting rolls for all States.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Works and Housing
Proposed vote, £175,000.
– The administration of this department gives some cause for concern. The department is responsible for housing but so far as we have been able to discover it has accumulated quite a lot of plans, but has not constructed any houses I ask for information about the item. “ Repairs and Maintenance “, the estimate for which is £73,000. Las* year the estimate was £47,000 and the actual expenditure, £41,755. All the departments are listed for various amounts in this connexion. Will the activities of the department be concentrated on repairs and maintenance? Lt the Government falling to pieces? Is ii in a condition of decay? The proposed vote is nearly double the comparable vote for last year.
– It will take years te catch up with the repair and maintenance work that needs to be done.
– Item 7, “Plan printing, papercoating and reproduction of maps “ under “ General Expenses “. is estimated to cost £3,200, and item 10. “ Incidental and other expenditure “, it expected to involve £34,000. I would have thought plans would have cost more than £3,200. Is part of the cost of the many plans, blue-prints, and the like that the Government has gathered covered up in the larger sum of £34,000? If not, what does that sum cover? Is th< Government proposing to undertake some paper-hanging or is papercoating something different? The total vote for the department, apart from amounts provided out of the services vote, is £175,000. compared with an actual expenditure lasyear of £83,785. What is the reason for the increase ? If the Government intends to build houses we shall applaud it, but if this money is to be used mainly for plans and more plans we shall roundly condemn it.
. -These Estimates demand the most searching investigation. An amount of ttt.502,300, provided in the “ Defence and War (1939-45) Services “ vote, is proposed to be expended on the payment of salaries and wages to temporary and casual employees. The estimate under this heading last year was £1,878,900, but the actual outlay was £2,183,698. That enormous difference should be explained. The fact that the money is provided in the services vote does not absolve the Government from the responsibility of explaining the figures. As the vigilance committee of the taxpayers we are entitled to know exactly what return is obtained for this expenditure. How many employees received the money expended last year, and how many does the Government expect to employ in similar capacities this year?
– The total Ls only threequarters of the amount expended last year.
– Nevertheless we are entitled to an explanation. I want the facts. Item 8, “Motor vehicles - purchase, upkeep and hire, including use of private vehicles for departmental purposes” is expected to require £70,000 against £116,078 actually expended last year. The vote last year, by the way, was only £78,400. How many motor vehicles were purchased last year? Was it necessary to purchase any? Could not vehicles have.been made available through the Department of the Interior? If there is a good explanation of the figures, the Minister should give it to us.
The general housing situation in the Commonwealth is most unsatisfactory. What is the Government proposing to lo about it? Earlier this week the final report of the Commonwealth Housing Commission, a document of 328 foolscap pages containing 95 recommendations, was made available to us. Unfortunately, the report is already thirteen months old. Has the Government done anything or does it propose to do anything to implement any of the recommendations of the Commissioners? Will the Minister outline the general policy of his department in this connexion?
– I bring to the notice of the Minister the proposed vote under the heading, “ Administrative “. The amount set down for this year Ls £102,000. Last year £40,950 was voted and £42,032 expended. Presumably, this expenditure is connected, in some way, with the Government’s housing programme, but, in any case, the estimated increase of 100 per cent, in the one item requires explanation. Like the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), I too seek an explanation of the item, provided through the services vote, for “ Temporary and1 casual employees, £1,502,300”. Last year, £1,878,900 was voted for thispurpose and £2,183,698 was expended. Who are these temporary and casual employees? Do they consist of personsemployed on construction work by theAllied Works Council, or are they technical officers associated with the department? The Leader of the Australian. Country party has referred to the final report of the Commonwealth Housing” Commission, dated the 25th August,. 1944, which was tabled a few days ago. I wish to bring to the notice of theMinister a paragraph from the first, interim report of the Commission, dated the 21st October, 1943, because, if it. represents the mind of the commissioners,, the situation is not satisfactory. The paragraph reads -
What is the policy of the Governmentin connexion with that suggestion? If architects, engineers, and other technicians are to be prevented from goingabroad if they desire to do so, they will be subject, undoubtedly, to a form of industrial conscription. I ask the Minister to deal with this point when heis speaking in reply to the criticisms, of honorable members.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– Before referring to some of the irresponsible statements that have been made in regard to housing, I wish to make some of the explanations that have been sought. Honorable members opposite appear to have forgotten that last year the Allied Works Council was the only works constructing authority in the Commonwealth, and that there was not a Housing Department ; consequently, the Estimates for this year cannot be compared with the expenditure last year.
The item “Repairs and Maintenance “, Division 52, represents a very small portion of the work of the Department of Works and Housing. It provides for the repair and maintenance of Commonwealth buildings and works for Commonwealth departments other than service departments, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and the Commonwealth Territories, which are provided for in other divisions of the Estimates, [t is the normal provision that is made each year under this part of the Estimates, except that the provision of £73,000 this year exceeds the expenditure of £41,755 last year. This is due to increased demands, on account of additional works having been constructed and requiring maintenance, as well as to certain items having had to be deferred owing to the scarcity of labour and material, which were required for urgent war services.
The item “ Plan printing, paper coating and reproduction of maps “ under the beading “ General Expenses “, Division No. 51, relates to the reproduction of the plans, &c, that are required in connexion with the general works pro.gramme. The amount of the vote is £3,200.
The item. “ Motor vehicles, £70,000”, covers the purchase of new motor cars and trucks required by the branches of the department in the various States, payments for the use of hired cars, and payments to officers for the use of private cars on official ‘business. Provision has also been included for the purchase of oil, petrol, &c, for, and repairs to, official motor cars, but not for the wages of shauffeurs. Expenditure of this nature totalled approximately £116,078 in 1944-45.
The item “ Incidental and other expenditure, £34,000 “, covers minor expenditure not provided for in the other items under Division No. 51, and includes petty cash, legal fees, maintenance of clocks, typewriters and accounting machines, replacement of electric light globes, advertising expenses, the removal expenses of transferred officers, office cleaning, &c. The expenditure during 1944-45 was approximately £35,192. The provision for the housing section is £6,500.
Reference has been made to the provision of £102,000 on account of “ Administrative”, as compared with the expenditure of £42,030 under this heading in 1944-45. An examination of the items indicates that the only one in which there has been a substantial increase is item 1, “Salaries and Allowances, £178,000”, which is £17,831 in excess of the expenditure last year. This item relates to permanent staff, and the increase is due to increments, officers transferred from other departments for housing purposes, and officers resuming duty from war service. A portion of the administrative section of Division No. 51 is provided under parts 2 and 3 of the Estimates, but on the whole a considerable reduction ha.been made.
Item 2, Division No. 51, “ Temporary and Casual Employees, £1,502,300”. covers the temporary staff of the department, including the Allied Works Council. The number employed at the 1st July. 1945, was’ 5,000. It is expected that the number will be reduced to 2,800 at the end of November, and it is estimated that it will stand at that number for the remainder of the year. The estimate of £1,502,300 is based on an average of 3,500 employees for the year. The number of employees, however, will be contingent upon what works come forward. It will be seen that the estimates provide for a reduction of £681,398 on this item, compared with the expenditure last year. The reduction would have been greater had it not been for the transfer of staffs from other departments in connexion with housing activities; in fact, it would have been increased by £135,000 had the Department of Works and
Housing not taken staffs from the Department of War Organization of Industry, the Department of Labour and National Service, and the Prices Commission.
It appears to me that the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition’ (Mr. Harrison), have been vying with each other in the last couple of days to see which would take the prize for being the most irresponsible member of this chamber. Both of them reiterated constantly this afternoon that the Government had not built any houses.
– That is not what I said. T asked how many houses had been built.
– Hansard will prove my statement to be correct. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) also said that the Government had not built any houses. On the 4th September, I issued this statement to the press of Australia -
The Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. HI P. Lazzarini, stated to-day that approximately 14,000 houses had been completed or were under construction throughout the Commonwealth for the period April, 1944, to
August, 1045. This figure includes both houses being built under the Commonwealth-State Housing Scheme and houses built privately under permit. The figure of 14,000 comparer with a figure of 10,000 under construction or completed at June, 1945.
Figures with regard to houses built or In course of construction under permit are nol available in the same detail as for Govern ment sponsored building. Mr. Lazzarini indicated that figures as to progress under the Commonwealth-State Housing Scheme havebeen encouraging. The State housing author ties have commenced the building of upwards of 900 houses during the last three months,, of which 527 were started during August, atagainst 231 in July, and 100 in June. the figures reveal an increase from July to August of 723 houses completed or under construction, compared with an increase from May to June to 465. Since April, 1944, 11,874 homes have been completed or are in course of construe tion, either through Government sponsored schemes or by building under permit - the figures for permit building being up to June, 1945, only. To this figure must be added permit construction for July and August, 1945; the exact number is not available, but it is estimated to be not less than 1,500 commenced and 800 completed. To this total must also be added some 358 houses built by the War Housing Trust and other Commonwealth authorities.
Totals in regard to Government sponsored housing and new dwelling construction under private permit are as under: -
April, 1944-Junb, 1945
SUMMARY- HOUSES COMPLETED OR UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
Apparently, it is only in regard to housing that honorable members opposite do not trust private enterprise. Usually, they complain that the Government is trying to nationalize all undertakings, but now they are squealing in protest against the issue of permits to private builders. They are anxious that the Government should build the houses because, in the past, and particularly during the depression, which governments that they supported brought about, house construction was not a particularly profitable enterprise.
– The trouble with tie honorable member for Wentworth is that he “ can’t take it “. He is just a dingo who yelps and runs away. The supply of labour for actual building operations is rapidly becoming satisfactory, but we are still short of men for the manufacture of building materials, and it is obvious that it would be of no use to send bricklayers and carpenters on to the site if there were no bricks or timber for them to build with. I hope that before long all these difficulties will be overcome, and that when the next budget is presented we shall have even a better story 4© tell than the one we are telling now.
– I certainly hope that the Minister will have a better story to tell next time. It is evident that, although nearly £2,000,000 will, according to tho Estimates, pass through the hands of his department, all but £175,000 of this amount is really a war-time appropriation. If the Government really believes that £175,000 is an adequate appropriation for its housing scheme about which we have heard so much, then the people who have waited for so long for houses will have to wait a good deal longer. Are we to believe that the Department of Works and Housing will merely control the expenditure of near , £1,800,000 by the Allied Works Council ? In respect of some other departments, the explanation has been offered that expenditure cannot be reduced because we must continue to pay servicemen, and provide for their wants until they can be demobilized, but surely there is no justification for going on with the construction of defence works. Every day, the columns of the newspapers are plastered with advertisements offering defence buildings for sale. The fact thai the Estimates include an amount of abou £1,800,000 for defence buildings suggests that they were prepared before the end , of the war.
– Of course they were.
– Then the Estimates should have been amended before being submitted to Parliament, even if it involved some delay. However, I rather think that the Government is anxious to have a nest-egg to add to the £71,000,000 of uncollected income tax, thus enabling the Treasurer to offer, on the eve of the general election, an attractive budget that will include substantial tax reductions, [f the Minister denies that, we can only infer that this great housing scheme of which he is so proud is to be handed over to the Allied Works Council. Do honorable members opposite view that prospect with equanimity? Some of them, who have sat with me on the Public Works Committee, should be dismayed at the prospect. I heard evidence from the highest supervising officer of the department that the proposed school of tropical medicine in Sydney would cost £113,000 if built by the Allied Works Council, buonly £73j000 if tenders were called. If that is how the Government proposes to build its houses, they will be very expensive, and it is no wonder that 11 prefers to build for letting rather than for sale, because in that way it will noi be obliged to reveal the cost of construction.
An amount of £70,000 is to be appropriated for the purchase of new motor cars. The Minister rather naively protested that no exception could be taken to this, seeing that £116,000 was expended for the same purpose last year. I suggest that that, is a very good reason why it should not have been necessary to appropriate nearly so much this year. Although the Minister has made one explanation, I hope he will make another, and tell us whether it is really proposed to expend £1,850,000 on housing this year, and, if so, how? If it is not intended to do so, the Minister should tell us frankly that the money is to be kept in “ kitty “ to enable the Government to reduce taxes next year.
.- Once more we have been treated to the spectacle of the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) shedding crocodile tears. Not so many years have elapsed since he was a member of a Cabinet, and although there was a shortage of housesat that time his government did nothing to provide them. In some parts of my electorate people were compelled, during the depression, to live in shanties and bag huts. Large numbers of these miserable shelters were erected in Davis Park and Dutton Park, and at points along the river-bank. There were others in the electorate of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), but the government then in power made no attempt to provide houses. The unemployed and their families were allowed to exist on the dole, and they provided shelter for themselves out of bags and bits of tin picked up from the rubbish dumps. For those conditions the tory governments which had been in power for 25 years were responsible, but things are better to-day. It is hoped that, with ‘ the co-operation of the State governments, it will not be long before houses are provided for every one. During the referendum campaign, honorable members opposite opposed, the proposal of the Government that the Commonwealth should be given increased power so that it might build houses . for the people. Now, when the Government lacks this power which they helped to. prevent it from obtaining, they are seeking to make political capital out of the fact. The honorable member for Parramatta re ferred to the proposal to build a school of tropical medicine in Sydney.
– The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) heard the evidence.
– Yes, and I also heard the reasons why costs were so high when work was done by the Allied “Works Council. It was explained that, since the flower of Australian manhood was in the fighting services, and the next best were working in munitions factories, the Allied Works Council had to be content with what was left. Retired tradesmen of 60 and sometimes 70 years of age had gone back to work, and been employed by the Allied Works Council, and such men could not be expected to give the same service as younger men. In that period, too, the Government had first call on materials for war services. All that was pointed out in the evidence. No reason exists why under ordinary conditions private enterprise should not build the school of tropical medicine cheaply, but honorable members should not forget that some of the evidence gave instances in which, before the war, day labour had provided cheaper building. We must realize that in time of war, when we have to rely on medically unfit men and old men returned to the industry, it is impossible to build as cheaply as if the flower of the country’s manhood was available.
.- In order to answer the remarks of the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) about home-building during the Menzies regime it is only necessary to remind him that in the last year of office of that government a record home-building programme was carried out.
– By whom?
– The Menzies Government created the conditions under which it was done. We are not concerned as to whether homes are built by a government department or by private enterprise or by a combination of the two. We are concerned to see homes built. That is the kernel of our criticism.
The Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lazzarini) made the astonishing statement that the man-power position was very satisfactory. Does he seriously say that the manufacturing industries that make the components of homes are adequately staffed?
– I did not say that the man-power position was satisfactory. I said that the position regarding men working on the site was reasonably satisfactory, but that there was a shortage of labour in the supplying industries.
– The Minister does not claim now that the man-power position is satisfactory in the manufacturing industries without which no home-building programme is satisfactory?
– No; I said that that was causing us anxiety.
– The Minister knows perfectly well that the home-building programme will be held up indefinitely because manufacturers cannot turn out the necessary components. Let us start from that point. The Minister says that he did not claim that the man-power position in the manufacturing industries was satisfactory, but he did say - and I took down his words - that the manpower position was very satisfactory as regards men on the site. I do not know what position exists in the other States, but I assume that it is comparable with the position in Victoria, where the’ construction of homes has been delayed beyond what would have been the case because of the “go slow on the job” policy deliberately applied by the building operatives under instructions from the union. How can the Minister for Works and Housing claim that the manpower position on the site is satisfactory when the men on the site are not working at anything like a reasonable rate. They are not merely holding up the building programme by that policy, but are also putting on the backs of fellow unionists a dead weight that they will have to carry for the rest of their lives. That is the undeniable position. Yet this honorable gentleman, who has been created a dictator in order to have homes built in the speediest possible manner, claims that the man-power position on the site is satisfactory !
At present various phases of housing are under the control of different departments. I should have assumed that when the Government created a special department to deal with housing it would have brought under the jurisdiction of the
Minister all the different phases of housing. Previously in this chamber I have brought to the notice of the Government the plight of people who, although they own houses, are deprived of the right to occupy them. The Government recently made some minor amendment of the landlord and tenant regulations, but failed to remove anomalies that bear harshly on certain deserving people. I receive letters daily about this matter, but three typical examples will suffice to convince the committee of the unjust way in which the regulations operate against people who ought to be receiving the fullest consideration of the authorities. I put it to the Minister for Works and Housing that, if he is to be a dictator handling the whole problem of housing, his authority should not end at the construction of houses and that he should also control the right of people to regain occupancy of their own homes. The inability to enforce that right is pressing with particular severity against returned servicemen. In many instances, when they joined the forces, their wives let their homes, or portions of them. Usually, if a wife let the whole home, she went to stay with parents or relatives. Now that the men have returned they find that the regulations originally made to protect them are debarring them from regaining possession of their homes.
One man who had service in the Middle East and New Guinea, on his return, tried to get back into his home. He was married but had no children. The occupant was also in one of the services, but had not left the mainland at any stage. The magistrate determined that the balance of hardship between the owner of the home and the tenant lay with the tenant who had children. The owner of the home said, “ Well, he i» lucky. I should have liked to have children and would have, had I remained here. It is only because of my serviceabroad that I have not been ‘able to briny up a young Australian family. If my wifeand I are destined to live indefinitely in an apartment .while some one else occupies the home that we saved our money to buy, how can we expect to rear a family ? “ That is one typical instance. The second is that of an air force man. When, he went away, his wife let half of their house on the understanding that when he returned the tenant was to leave. When the airman came back the tenant said, “ No, I am not going to move ; I am in occupation “. As the result the airman and his wife have to share the home with another person. Because of that, his business ability is impeded. The pleasure that a man and his wife get from a home of their own is denied to this couple. The third instance which was brought to my notice this week is that of a woman who, with her husband, owns a home. It is a five-roomed cottage. The couple have two sons. The person occupying the cottage is the wife of a serviceman who certainly enlisted in 1943 and is a naval guard at the Flinders Naval Base, a few miles from Melbourne. He has never left Australia during this war. Yet his wife is still in occupation and is able to deny repossession of their home to a man, his wife and two children. I ask the Minister to take some interest in problems of this kind. They are being brought to our notice in great numbers every day. The Minister’s responsibility as Minister for Works and Housing should go beyond the mere construction of houses and should enfold such problems as I have mentioned, rather than have all these matters spread over a number of government departments, including the Department of Trade and Customs and the Attorney-General’s Department. I ask the Minister to take up with his colleagues the points I have raised in an endeavour to bring them within the scope of one central authority that could examine and speedily deal with all matters associated with housing.
.- Honorable gentlemen opposite have championed private enterprise as being likely to solve the housing problem but, according to Messrs. Barnett and Burt of the Victorian Housing Commission, whose work for that commission has been very distinguished, this country was short of 200,000 . homes when war broke out. Yet the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) told us what a fine situation existed in respect of housing when the enlightened government led by the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) was in power. What was the situation in Victoria before the war?
I do not draw figures from a romantic imagination, as apparently some honorable gentlemen opposite draw their statements. In the pre-depression year of 1927, in Victoria, 14,000 marriages took place and 12,000 homes were built. In the depression year of 1931, 13,000 marriages took place and fewer than 2,000 homes were built. That ratio was fairly constant throughout the depression.
– A Labour government was in power both here and in Victoria.
– At that stage there was an unsaleable surplus of materials and an unemployed surplus- of men. The position was one that honorable gentlement opposite, by their reasoning during this war, admit was indefensible. It has been admitted that when there is heavy expenditure and a shortage of commodities we are likely to have inflation. But, in the depression, there was a vast surplus of commodities, and when the Labour Government proposed a fiduciary note issue of £18,000,000, honorable gentlemen opposite raised the cry of “ Inflation ! “. It would not have been possible to get inflation if you had tried at that stage when there was such a gross surplus of materials and unused manpower.
We have to consider whether private enterprise will solve the housing problem. I have no doubt that private enterprise can solve the problem of luxury home-building, but there is not in the limited capital outlay that the working class can make sufficient profit to induce the massive investment in housing that would be needed to solve the problem represented by a shortage of 300,000 homes. That is the opinion of the Commonwealth Housing Commission. It does not start off with the doctrine that private enterprise is wrong or that private enterprise is right. It merely seeks to arrive at the truth. Two members of the Victorian Housing Commission, Messrs. Barnett and Burt, have made several statements on the problem. In their joint publication, We Must Go On, they ask - “Why is there a housing shortage?”
The most frequent answer is, “ Because of the great depression “.
Though it is undoubted that the depression did considerably slow up the building of houses, this, however, -is not the whole truth. There are other factors which are fundamental.
High interest rates have had a serious effect in slowing down home-building. Take the case of a nian (with a wife and two children) who has purchased a home for £1,000. As a deposit he pays a sum of £200 if he be fortunate enough to have that amount. The balance of £800 is raised by first and second mortgagee of £(i00 and £200, and his commitments are as follows: -
or £1 10s. a week. In addition, he is obliged to meet in the first year for stamp duties and legal expenses about £20. It may be also that he is expected to make periodical payments iti reduction of the mortgages.
In England and America financial institutions engaged in the financing of house purchase have learned from experience that it is “unsafe “ for a man of the lower income group to purchase a home at a price in excess of twice his annual income. Accordingly, if the man we have mentioned is to purchase a home (giving, him the minima of amenities)’ for £1,000 he must he in receipt of £500 per annum, otherwise lie will have to encroach seriously upon the other necessities of life. There are in Victoria 423,918. persons in receipt of less than a gross income of £500 per annum. Their prospects of becoming purchasers of even a modest little home, under existing interest rates, are remote.
Another cause of the housing shortage is, paradoxically enough, the development of a public conscience on housing, which has led to the raising of housing standards, and also to the making of regulations restricting the amount of rents that can be charged by law.
Public opinion has been so definite with respect to slums that the investor is hesitant about repeating the type of house that will quickly deteriorate, because he knows that regulations are being promulgated that will, sooner or later, result in bringing his building under orders for demolition. This poor type of dwelling is so under suspicion that, even before it has deteriorated into a slum, its negotiability becomes less.
In the fourteen years before the outbreak of war, 200,000 marriages were solemnized in Victoria, .but only 90,000 homes were erected, making a deficiency of 110,000. When there is a shortage of houses, there is a continual tendency, commented upon by the Victorian Slum Clearance Commission, for working-class people to gravitate into poorer and poorer homes, so that in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, overcrowding is rife. Private enterprise will not solve the problem of working-class housing. The solution can be found only by a government which will put aside all considerations of profit and build houses for a social purpose. That is something which private enterprise, . with a few exception* of men making donations to charity, will not do. If a house could be erected for £750 - an absurd price, and I do not know where a person could get a house for that amount - it would be necessary, from the standpoint of the private investor, to secure a return of 10 per cent, in order to cover deterioration, and allow him an income. Ten per cent, of £750 is £75 a year, or 29s. a week. The basic wage is £5 a week, and the economic rent for a man with that income is £1 a week. That leaves a deficiency of 9s. in the amount which would be charged by a private investor for some wretched home erected at a cost of £750. I should like honorable members opposite to forget their airy generalizations, and explain to us where, in workingclass incomes, is the inducement to the private investor to invest his money. Honorable members opposite know that there is no such inducement to the private investor.
Before the war, the problem of workingclass housing had not been solved. During the Fremantle ‘by-election campaign, the absurd allegation was made that the Scullin Government was responsible for the shortage of housing throughout Australia. I point out that the Scullin Government was in office from 1929 to 1931, whilst honorable members opposite had a majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives from 1916 to 1941, with the exception of that period of two years. The product of that unprecedented period of office was a deficiency of more than 200,000 houses in this country. So modesty alone should make honorable gentlemen opposite rather silent on the subject of housing.
– Modesty will not kill the honorable member, anyhow.
– I have been in this chamber for only a fortnight, but I have gained the very definite impression that the honorable gentleman’s seat is far better used for the unreasoning end of his anatomy. The only conclusion that we can reach is that there must be a government-sponsored housing programme. In Great Britain during the war, when it was shown that people would not invest in aircraft factories because they knew that at the end of hostilities th? bottom would drop out of the market for military aircraft, the British Government said, “ As a defensive necessity, we must tackle this matter of building aircraft “. It proceeded to pour government money into the aircraft industry. A social necessity should compel us to tackle our greatest social problem, and that entails a government-sponsored bousing programme. Of course, then must be certain ancillary activities to such a programme, such as government finance to expand State brickworks so that they shall have the effect, commented upon by Mr. Bavin, a former Premier of New South Wales who did not believe in State enterprise, of reducing the prices charged by private enterprise by approximately 18s. a thousand. That is what the late lamented State brickworks in New South Wales did in the period before the war.
Widespread experiments in the prefabrication of houses must be undertaken. The Government is to be congratulated on providing £15,000 to enable the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to conduct these experiments. The Government, in committing itself to enter the field of housing, may make mistakes, and, therefore, will be criticized by honorable members opposite, but it has embraced the only principle which will solve the housing shortage in this country. Houses must be built as a social necessity, and not for profit.
, - I also have carried out a little research into the housing problem.
– I thought that the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) would bring the honorable member for Barker off his unreasoning seat.
– I thought that we would have two sprigs of eidelweiss in this chamber, but the other piece, in the person of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) is absent. Instead of that, we have a delphic oracle, and I do not think that it will ever make a mistake. No schoolmaster ever does. During this session the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has answered two questions relating to housing. The first was asked by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan), who is one of the supporters of the Government. The honorable member directed attention to an article which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday the 20th. June last. The newspaper ventured the opinion that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction who, at that time, waa in charge of housing - the new Department of Housing had not then been born - would not reach the goal of 24,000 homes that he then had in mind. Commenting upon the article, the Minister said, “ I have pointed out previously that housing is the responsibility of the State Governments “. That statement was made on the 22nd June last. It was a Friday morning, and the statement is on record. To-day, the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lazzarini) - a temporary appointment, I hope - declared that the Commonwealth has embraced a housing scheme. It has embraced the housing scheme so tightly that it has crushed the life out of it.
– Mere word-spinning!
– This afternoon honorable members heard a lecture on blueprints. I am surprised that the Minister for Works and Housing described them as blueprints. I thought that he would have red prints for such a scheme as this. I received from the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction a letter, signed with his own fair hand, and explaining that housing was a State and not a Commonwealth responsibility. Furthermore, the Minister told the honorable member for Reid that the only housing in which the Commonwealth was interested was the housing of its own employees and the construction of war service homes.
– I certainly did not use tie word “ interested “.
– I am not permitted to quote from Hansard of the current session, but I advise the Minister to read the report of his statement. I invite the Minister for Works and Housing to tell me what is the Government’s policy, if it has a policy, on housing. Does the Commonwealth Government accept responsibility for the construction of houses for civilians, other than ex-service personnel and Commonwealth employees?
– The honorable member knows that the Constitution prevents the Commonwealth Government from doing «0.
– Then the speech of the Minister for Works and Housing was so much camouflage andolitical humbug. A few years ago when e was a distinguished member of the Lang party, his favourite words were “ hocus pocus”. Most of his Lang party colleagues will recall them. The Minister will receive from me to-morrow morning a question upon notice - which he will answer at his leisure no doubt - as to how many houses the Commonwealth Government has built since it took ‘ office. The answer will not be the figure which the honorable gentleman gave this evening. The honorable member for Fremantle delivered an excellent lecture. It is about the fourth or fifth that he has given in the very short period that he has been a member of this chamber. I remind him of the old saying that “ many more men talk their way out of Parliament than ever talk their way into it “.
I desire briefly to refer to the matter of housing during the depression. I know a little about the depression, because I lived through it and was a little older then than the honorable member for Fremantle is now.
– A bit more erratic, too.
– At any rate, the honorable member admits that he is erratic. I was a member of the Parliament of South Australia at that time, and I recall the conditions which prevailed, State governments and pri vate builders of homes could “ not let houses under any conditions.
– The mere fact that people crowded into slums did not mean that there was a surplus of houses.
– The honorable member should not fly so high. At Murray Bridge during the depression there were more than 60 houses in a fairly good industrial area, for which the State Bank of South Australia could not get a tenant upon any terms.
– Rent cannot be paid out of the dole.
– Quite so. The important point that I wish to ram home to the honorable member for Ballarat is that Labour’s economic policy always produces a state of affaire to which the Labour party can offer only the dole in answer. Just as Labour members, in an effort to avoid responsibility for the housing shortage, have told us that private enterprise cannot succeed and that government enterprise is the only solution to our difficulties, so two Labour Ministers, also in an endeavour to escape their responsibilities, have told us to-night that the Commonwealth Government has not been able to do anything about housing because it is a State responsibility!
– State co-operation is necessary.
– I have heard a lot about State co-operation and have attended many conferences at which it has been discussed. Honorable gentlemen opposite would have us believe now that the housing shortage can be remedied only by State governments. It is a fact that the houses with the cheapest rente in Australia have been built by the Stats Housing Trust in South Australia. I remember an honorable member for Queensland asking in the House recently whether the Government would not take steps to discuss this subject with the Housing Trust of South Australia.
– That is a State government housing scheme, is it not?
– It is a housing trust. Let me tell honorable members opposite that I understand something of the housing problem from both ends. In any case, the honorable member for Fremantle will not put words into my mouth. I am on© of those awkward fellows who prefers to speak for himself. I. have spent a good part of my life living in tents - practically from the age of twelve years to eighteen years.
Honorable gentlemen opposite must realize that the housing problem will not be solved by the production of reports such as that of the Commonwealth Housing Commission, which the Government tabled this week. That report, by the way, is a wonderful document. Et appears to me to have been prepared by astronomers of some kind, for its pages are filled with the most beautiful designs in circles, segments, and the like. T am reminded of the story of the stationowner who showed a beautiful plan for a new stockyard to one of his aboriginal workmen. “ Jackie “ scratched his fuzzy head and said, “It looks all right on paper, boss ! “ But reports will not remedy the housing shortage. Two Ministers have informed the committee this evening that the Commonwealth Government does not possess sufficient constitutional power to deal adequately with the housing problem.
Mr. Beazley interjecting,
– The honorable member for Fremantle need not become heated on this subject. I have discovered that the people who make the most noise are usually the most devoid of argument. I could answer the honorable gentleman’s interjections if the Chairman would permit me to do so.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).Order ! The honorable member for Barker must address the Chair. Interjections should not be made, and if made should not be answered.
– The Government must talk less and work more in relation to housing. The report of the Housing Commission is filled with attractive plans, but neither reports nor plans will build houses for anybody. Existing conditions in the building industry have produced phenomena which, in my opinion, must inevitably result in the construction of houses at a slower rate than ever before. The pamphlet of the Master Builders Association, to which reference has been . made, should cause every true defender of trade unionism ito think seriously. The master builders have stated in the pamphlet that fewer bricks are being laid per man per day now that ever before, and that tradesmen generally are doing less work than ever before. The onus is on the trade unionists to provide houses quickly. There must be more work and less loafing, as well as lees talking.
– Twenty-four out of 34 brick kilns have been closed in Victoria.
– We cannot hope to obtain more houses by the practice of go-slow methods. I am confident that as the result of the policy that is being applied in these days by certain sections of the workers there will be some serious gaps in the ranks of Tuscany after the next elections, for the people will not endorse the policy tha* is being applied by many trade unionists.
– We heard that story during the Fremantle by-election.
– The Fremantle electorate, let me remind the honorable member, has changed it* allegiance more than once.
– Order ! There are too many interjections.
– I enjoy them, Mr. Chairman. My only regret is that you do not permit me to deal with them as I should like to do. I am confident that the people of Australia will give the right answer to the deliberately planned and carefully issued propaganda of the Labour party over the last four years during which the people have been told by Labour speakers that when once the war is over houses will spring up like mushrooms everywhere, in cities and country districts alike. The people have been led to believe that the new order will arrive almost over-night, and that al] they will have to do will be to “ cash in “ on it. Even this evening Ministers have resorted to subterfuges in order to cover up the deficiencies of their administration. Perhaps it would be nearer the truth to say that, like Pontius Pilate, they have washed their hands of the whole business. In effect, they have turned the problem back to Dunstan and Playford, and the four Labour Premiers. With the cost of materials for building constantly increasing - in some instances prices have advanced by as much as 40 or 50 per cent. - and with the output of building tradesmen and labourers declining substantially, as it is doing, the rapid and cheap construction of houses is not likely. Moreover costly houses cannot be provided for low rents. Yet it would appear that that is what the Government is attempting to do. A great deal is being said in these days about the advantages of a five-day working week. If the policy of honorable gentlemen opposite were carried to its logical conclusion we should have first a five-day week, then a four-day, then a three-day, and then a two-day week. The time might come when there would be no work at all. That would seem to be the ultimate result of the policy advocated by the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha), who, otherwise, is one of the most conservative among honorable gentlemen opposite. In my opinion, however, the Labour party. is creating a Frankenstein demon which will destroy it. Honorable gentlemen opposite have said to the people in effect, “ Put us into office and everything, will be all right. Private enterprise and capitalism will disappear, and we will provide you with houses at very cheap rents, or perhaps at no rents at all.”
The housing scheme that has been submitted to us by the Government provides in certain circumstances that the Government will pay an ever-increasing proportion of the rent, for rents are to be fixed, not on the value of the houses, but, on the income of the occupants. It would appear that if the family income falls to a certain figure the family will be able to live rent free, and the rent will become a charge on the general taxpayer. But sooner or later, I consider sooner than honorable gentlemen opposite will be prepared for, the taxpayers will assert themselves. The last straw broke the camel’s back, and the limit of the burden that the taxpayer can carry has been reached.
I do not desire at this stage to discuss the financial position at any length. I have already pointed out to the committee that we are drifting into a serious position. I should say, perhaps, we are coming to that position under our own power, as it were. The Government’s housing proposals plus the Labour party’s industrial policy, plus the increasing prices of building materials, plus the unsatisfactory man-power position, plus the expectation of many people that they may obtain houses for practically no rent at all, will force the general community to realize the danger that may be not far ahead of us. We have been told that houses can be built best by government enterprise, but, in fact, government enterprise has not only failed to produce houses, but it is also failing to provide the essential materials for house construction. Its policy for releasing men from the services will add confusion to the situation. From inquiries that I have made of people who should be competent to advise me, I have come to the conclusion that at no distant date we may discover that although building tradesmen have been released from the forces in considerable numbers, there will be no materials available for them to use, because brick-makers, tile-makers, cementworkers, iron-workers and the like will not have been released in sufficient numbers. So we shall have tradesmen available, but no materials for them to use.
– This is all conjecture; there are no facts.
– I fear that while this Government remains in. office the housing problem, like the poor, will be always with us. The honorable member for Fremantle is a new arrival in this place, so I shall not reply to his interjections in the way that I am tempted to do.
– That is cheap.
– Let me remind the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) that he represents a semi-industrial constituency, and has some reason to consider his position.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the proposed vote before the Chair.
– I was afraid you would make some such remark, Mr. Chairman. Up to date we have had from this Government plenty of plans but no results. The sudden cessation of hostilities with Japan revealed the true situation. There are planners galore, but no houses. I suspect that that will still be the position when the next budget is presented to the Parliament, probably just prior to its dissolution. When we have to face our masters, the people, the Government will also have to face the true situation, and it will not then be able to escape its responsibilities.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Civil Aviation
Proposed vote, £717,000.
. -The Estimates for this department contain anomalies similar to those that appear in the provision for other departments. The proposed vote for salaries and allowances is £102,000, whereas for temporary and casual employees it is £223,000. Similarly the proposed vote for salaries and allowances under “ Empire Air Services “ is £3,700, whereas for temporary and casual employees it is £18,300. It strikes honorable members as somewhat strange that the total for the salaries and allowances of the permanent staff should be so small, whilst temporary and casual employees should draw on the Estimates to such a marked degree. I have no doubt that the Minister will be able to explain the matter.
.- Provision amounting to £3,000 has been made in respect of grants and advances to aeroplane clubs and gliding clubs for the reconditioning of aircraft. I should like the Minister .to state whether the Government intends to provide for the flying of any members of aircrews discharged from the Air Force, as members of aeroplane club1? or gliding clubs. I suggest that that flying be provided free of charge to selected personnel, also that other persons considered desirable from a defence point of view be given the opportunity of learning to fly at a nominal charge. I further suggest that women be given the opportunity of learning to fly, and that, as far as possible, transport work be handed over to those who have been taught. An establishment for such instruction should be provided.
– As justification for certain action proposed to be taken by the Government in connexion with the nationalization of interstate airlines, it was stated in this chamber some months ago that the Treasury was incurring considerable expenditure in the provision of facilities at the various aerodromes and in the form of subsidies to contractors. I draw attention to the fact that all except £1,500 of the expenditure of £86,S00 incurred last year was provided by surcharges on airmails; likewise, every penny of the £870,000 provided on these estimates for the payment of subsidies to contractors during this year is to be provided, not by the Treasury, but out of the surcharges on mails to be transported by the contractors.
– I urge the Minister to make arrangements at an early date for the establishment of goods transport services from various districts, linking them with overseas services. Civil aviation has developed considerably) yet Australia has not made any progress in the transport of goods by air. There is big scope for development here. We have been told in the past that the Lancaster bomber would be. a most serviceable aircraft for this purpose. I hope that the Minister, in the policy which I trust he will announce shortly, will give consideration to the acquisition of the necessary aircraft, thousands of which are available to-day within the Empire, and that, as early as possible, we shall keep pace with the rest of the world in the development of trade by air. While we have time on our side, we might also examine the possibility of providing landing grounds wherever they are regarded as essential in primary producing districts. Throughout Australia, great runways and aerodromes have been constructed for defence purposes. I hope that the Minister will ensure that all of these will be kept in serviceable condition, in order that they may provide the nucleus of a trade by air service.
.- I should like the Minister to state how far the policy of the Commonwealth Government extends in relation to assisting local governing bodies in the establishment of aerodrome facilities. There has been a good deal of uncertainty in the past as to whether such bodies should look to the Commonwealth or the State
Government for assistance in that connexion. We hope and believe that provision will be made in the future for extensive air services throughout this country. Australia is particularly suited to air travel climatically and geographically, and I believe that the people will use this means of transport extensively in the years that lie ahead. Municipal authorities are anxious that aerodromes «hall be established in their localities. I consider that they should be- established in every town, village, and borough, because we shall have not only major lines but also many feeder services. In addition, numerous people will fly their own aircraft. They cannot be expected ‘ to establish aerodromes for themselves. The municipalities are expected to establish these facilities in country districts, but they are unable to meet the substantial expense involved. The Commonwealth raises revenue from the petrol tax for the construction and maintenance of roads. Certain payments are made to the States for road development and maintenance. This money is also supposed to be used to assist in the construction and maintenance of aerodromes. Whenever
X Commonwealth member approaches the Commonwealth Government, seeking assistance for local government authorities, he is told that ‘the matter is one for the State Government. The State governments, in turn, try to place the responsibility on the Commonwealth.
Mir. McEWEN (Indi) [9.25]..- The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) has raised a matter that I intended to place before the Minister. I hope that the Minister will state the policy of the Government in respect of the establishment of municipal aerodromes, by which I mean aerodromes to serve country towns and provincial centres. For the last three years, when the Estimates for civil aviation have been under discussion, I have spoken in these terms to the same Minister, but have not received any reply. That may have been justified, and it could be understood, during the continuance of the war. To-day, however, a pronouncement of government policy is absolutely essential. Literally hundreds of towns throughout this vast continent can have adequate modern transport only in the form of an air service, and that requires a considerable investment in the preparation of landing fields and their accessories, which is beyond the financial capacity of most local communities. It is essential that the Government should say, either that it intends to embark upon a programme of aerodrome installation, or that it does not propose to have anything to do with the matter, so that at least the local communities will know what is the position. The Government should say thai it regards the function as one that should be fulfilled by State governments, that it intends to co-operate with those governments, or that there should be a tripartite arrangement between the Commonwealth, the States and the local authorities. There is no need to pursue the matter further. The absolute necessity to establish many landing fields is surely beyond argument. If the policy were stated, we could agree with it or argue about it. The one thing we cannot suffer, is silence.
There is a very small, but none the less important, air service, which is interstate in character in that it crosses a boundary between the Northern Territory and Western Australia. It is a “oneman show “. The Minister knows all about it, and has assisted the man who conducts it. The service is invaluable to many of the people who live in those remote areas. There is no doubt as to tha Government’s .policy regarding the big interstate companies, but does the Government intend to take over this small “one-man enterprise”? It should make an announcement in this regard so that the owner and the residents of the Northern Territory may know what is intended. Also, if the Government proposes to take over the service, will it maintain the same schedule as at present?
While it is certain that literally thousands of military aircraft will no longer be needed for military purposes, these craft, in their present form, will have little value for commercial purposes. I suggest that their value need not be completely written off if it were possible to design an air frame to which engines which have not yet been used, the used engines, and perhaps other could be fitted. In this way aircraft could be manufactured which would be useful for the carriage of passengers or cargo, thus having a definite value in this country where distances are so great and time, on that account, so valuable.
– The Auditor-General, at page 32 of his report, refers to a saving of £232,000 in L943-44 in consequence of a voluntary arrangement entered into by Australian National Airways to reduce the contract rate for the carriage of mail matter between Perth and Cairns. I should like the Minister to inform honorable members what is the expected saving for the present year under that heading.
The amount appropriated for the construction of aerodromes this year is only £500,000, as compared with £754,121 last year, and only £100,000 is to be expended on new works and. buildings, including grants to councils for the construction of country aerodromes. The Minister must be aware that at Mascot we have probably the worst aerodrome of its kind in the world. The runway is not long enough to enable big airliners to take off.
– Can the honorable member mention one aircraft that was not able to take off from Mascot?
– If the Minister believes that Mascot aerodrome will be able to accommodate the big airliners of the future, I shall be interested to hear him say so. I have been unable to find in the Estimates any provision for the reconstruction work about which the Minister spoke so glibly a little while ago.
.- I also urge the Government to state its policy regarding the provision of aerodromes for provincial cities and country towns. At Bendigo there is a very fine area which the city council is prepared to make available free of cost for the construction of an aerodrome. Bendigo is a city of about 30,000 inhabitants and it should have an aerodrome. For want of a suitable emergency landing ground, a valuable aircraft was destroyed recently with the loss of several lives. The plane was forced to land, but because the ground was unsuitable the machine ran into some trees and was wrecked. As a result, the people were stirred to activity and an emergency landing ground was prepared. Not long after, a Government aircraft, which was in difficulties, landed here, and was thereby probably saved from loss. However, the emergency ground is not in a suitable locality, it is difficult of access, and is not large enough. Some time ago, an attempt was made to induce the Government to provide a suitable landing ground, but at that time the Commonwealth authorities pointed out, properly enough, that such a ground was not actually necessary for war purposes, and it was better to devote available manpower and resources to the construction of aerodromes further north. However, the Avar is over now, and the Government should take steps to see that Bendigo is provided1 with reasonable facilities.
– I appreciate the interest honorable members have shown in the Estimates for my department Several of them have urged that the Government should state its policy in regard to the construction of aerodromes in the vicinity of country towns and provincial cities. I should like to be able to accede to all the requests which I have received for the provision of such aerodromes, but there are such things as taxes and there is also a Treasurer. If every request for an aerodrome were granted there would be no reduction of taxes for the next 100 years. Applications have been received from almost every town in Australia. Those places at which Air Force stations were established during the war were the ones which, before the war, had had sufficient initiative to develop aerodromes for themselves. I have in mind such towns as Cootamundra, Temora and Narrandera. When war broke out, the department, naturally, developed aerodromes which were already in existence. In the United States of America, where aviation is more developed than in Australia - although Australia is further ahead in this regard than many countries with larger populations - nearly all the aerodromes have been developed by municipalities, which make charges for the use of the accommodation by aircraft in the same way as ships are charged for using harbours. Indeed, in the United
States of America, aerodromes are called airports. In Australia, we cannot hope to provide in all cases the kind of landing ground that is asked for by honorable members, and I should be doing wrong if I were to pretend that we could. However, on all main routes, and wherever there is sufficient traffic to justify it, we are prepared to spend enough money to make the landing ground safe.
The honorable member forWentworth (Mr. Harrison) referred to the aerodrome at Mascot, regarding which there has been much misrepresentation in the press, including suggestions that it is unsafe for ordinary requirements. I point out that practically every aircraft that has come to Australia, no matter of what size, has landed at Mascot, although I admit that some of the larger craft have had to take off without being fully loaded. A sum of money has been set aside to enlarge the landing ground at Mascot, so that it will be able to meet the requirements of the most modern aircraft. There are differences of opinion as to whether Mascot is the best place at which to develop a modern airport, but the experts have not recommended any other site. I have not yet received the report of the engineers and surveyors who have investigated the matter. I hope to receive it shortly, and I shall then make a further statement on the subject. As for country aerodromes, I can only say that we shall continue to do what we have done in the past; namely, when a municipality asks for an aerodrome we shall supply engineers and other experts who will advise regarding the most suitable site, and what work is necessary to develop it.
Mr.Ryan. - What about finance?
– The honorable member and other honorable members opposite want the Government to finance everything,but are always against socialism.
– The Minister is spoiling a good speech.
– The honorable member for Wentworth spoils every speech he makes by constantly attacking the Government, and I am entitled to give a blow in return. I am not prepared to make a statement of Government policy different from what is told to every applicant for assistance. Honorable members may rest assured that the Government will spend money to develop airports where they are justified by the traffic offering. But it will not develop them merely on the grounds stated by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) and other honorable gentlemen, namely, that their development may save aircraft or lives. One would need a travelling airport to provide for every emergency in flying. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) cited the sort of emergency that does arise from time totime when he made what, at first sight appeared to be a quite reasonable request that, because some aircraft had crashed near Grafton, the aerodrome in that locality be enlarged. Now that the war is over no harm can result from disclosing the circumstances. Five American aircraft left Noumea late in the day for Brisbane, and met with bad weather. They failed to reach Australia in daylight, and did not get anywhere near Brisbane. They made their landfall at Grafton.
– They got lost.
– They did. At any rate, there was an error of navigation. One plane did land at the Evans Head airport, but the other four crashed. Three in the Grafton area and one near Casino. It would be an impossibility to provide aerodromes to meet all such contingencies. There are emergency landing grounds throughout Australia. At a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers last year, a map showing their location was produced. Most are in localities calculated to lessen the risk of flying. It would be foolish to contemplate, however, an aerodrome for aircraft to land on whenever in trouble. One honorable member claimed that there were insufficient beacons between Sydney and Melbourne. There are five such beacons on that air route, and there are many landing grounds that can be used by aircraft in trouble. Many lives have been saved by their existence. I am in complete sympathy with the provision of adequate facilities, but there must be a difference of opinion on whether facilities are adequate or not.
– A city of 30,000 people like Bendigo must provide sufficient traffic to justify an airport.
– Well, the people of Bendigo should show some initiative and do a little for themselves.
– Then why not apply that principle to the metropolitan areas as well?
– The metropolitan areas serve hundreds of thousands of people. Bendigo is about 100 miles from Melbourne, and, therefore, is not a satisfactory distance away for air travel in the ordinary sense. It could be a stopping-place on a main route. But we are not going to have airports every 50 or 100 miles. Taking into consideration the time it takes to go from the airways booking office in the city to the airport, the time spent at the airport before the flight is made, and the time that would be spent, after disembarking at the end of a 50-mile flight, in going to the final destination, I claim that it would be quicker to travel the distance by road or rail.
The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) advocated the provision of air transport for goods and suggested that such aircraft as Lancaster bombers could be converted for that purpose. If he had technical information he would know that such aircraft would be quite unsuitable. Perhaps, as suggested by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), it would be possible to use engines now being discarded in locally manufactured frames developed for the transport of goods. That matter will be examined. I do not want it to be imagined .that aircraft engines that are not to be used because the war has ended will be wasted. They are available for purchase. There are several uses to which they could be put.
– To drive milking machines.
– One engine would drive sufficient milking machines to milk all the cows in the honorable member’s district. But the engines could be used in motor-boats or in farm machines. Some have been bought for those purposes. The honorable member for Wide Bay may rest assured that the Government will examine the provision of air transport facilities for freight in country areas, where the population is sufficient to warrant its provision, which now are inadequately or not at all served by other means. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Breen) has raised that matter with me on many occasions. It is a matter that ought to receive full consideration.
The honorable member for Wentworth referred to the discrepancy between the salaries of temporary, casual, and permanent officers of the Department of Civil Aviation. There is a good reason for that, to which I think he will subscribe. The positions in the department that would normally have been filled with the expansion of civil aviation have not been filled because the technical men equipped to fill them have been engaged on war service. It is intended to give them the opportunity to take the positions. Many positions at present temporarily occupied will be permanently filled within a reasonable time after the peace negotiations have been concluded.
– What about the Conelan Air Service?
– I appreciate the splendid service given by inland air transport companies in central and northwest Australia. I have discussed that matter with the operator of the Conelan service. As the honorable gentleman indicated, we have given Mr. Conelan considerable assistance. I think I have shown reasonable appreciation of the service he is rendering. It is a pioneering service of the first quality. With regard to taking over a service of that kind, I point out to the honorable member that the Constitution limits us to taking over interstate services.
– That is an interstate service.
– That depends on circumstances. He could easily make it an intra-state service by confining hi* activities to South Australia. Of course, when he operates in an area controlled by the Commonwealth Government, hi* service could be taken over by it.
– Nearly all his flying is done in the Northern Territory.
– And in Western Australia. He proposes to operate m Queensland. We have discussed with
Mr. Conelan what may be done, and, whilst no decision is likely to be made in the near future, I think an amicable arrangement can be reached whereby we can co-operate with his and similar services. It is not intended to hamper them in any way. While I remain Minister I shall extend every assistance to them, because the people for whom they cater are entitled to all the services that can be given to them.
The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) has pressed for the provision of greater facilities for aero clubs* [ agree that they are very helpful in teaching people to fly. We were fortunate to have them in existence when war broke out, because they helped to create public interest in flying. Although no specific amount of assistance has been set down in the Estimates, it is intended to look sympathetically at all claims by aero clubs for assistance. Of course, it is not intended to spend public money merely to enable people to indulge in flying for pleasure. People who want to fly for pleasure will have to pay for their own pleasure; but all reasonable help will be given to people in city and country, to learn to fly. I think I have answered all the matters raised by honorable gentlemen, and I hope that what I have said will give them an indication of the Government’s outlook. It is not possible for a Minister to satisfy every honorable member, but, as Minister for Civil Aviation, I foresee a tremendous development of civil aviation that will satisfy not only members of Parliament but also the people generally.
.- I rise to make a practical- suggestion to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford), but before doing so I wish to deny his suggestion that my interjection regarding the provision of financial assistance to people in country towns that want to lay down aerodromes indicated that I was advocating socialism. I am sorry to disappoint the Minister, but socialism has never been among the many ideas I have sponsored in my life. The Minister agrees that great development of flying, both interstate and intra-state, will follow the end of the war. I am certain that large numbers of private pilots will own their own. aircraft. That will involve a large development of private and municipal aerodromes.
At Berwick I have an aerodrome. It is registered with the Department of Civil Aviation. It has been developed without any assistance from the Government. All the money for putting down lights and other development was found either by myself or by other private people. I am not asking for assistance, but the point I make is that if such landing grounds are to be useful to airlines, they will require a great deal more development, particularly as regards lighting. If the Government were prepared to help financially in the provision of lighting, telephonic systems, and the other conveniences required at aerodromes, that would be of assistance not only to fliers within the locality but also to the airlines that may be operated by the Government. That is a good way in which flying in this country can be developed. The Commonwealth Government has provided financial assistance for the construction of roads. A vast network of aerodromes is required throughout Australia, and the Commonwealth Government should make a contribution to that work. In the future development of aviation, the Government should take into account the great services which air services can render to the country, and assist to develop and improve airfields wherever they may be. I hope the Minister will act upon my suggestions.
.- The Estimates of expenditure on a number of Items in the Department of Civil Aviation are substantially greater than they were last year. For example, the increase of expenditure for administration is nearly £70,000, for the maintenance and development of civil aviation £100,905, and for overseas air services £99,543. The Minister (Mr. Drakeford) has not given a satisfactory explanation of those increases. Perhaps they are a result of the legislation to empower the Government to acquire interstate airlines. Now that we are considering the Estimates of expenditure for the current year, we are entitled! to know what expenditure the Government contemplates, arising out of the Australian National Airlines Act. Does the Government intend to acquire existing interstate airlines, such as Australian National Airways? If so, where is provision made in these Estimates forthe payment of compensation to the companies? If the Government does not propose to acquire existing airlines, does it intend to establish its own organization, and, if so, where is provision made in these Estimates for (the purchase of aircraft, the staffing of aircraft and all other expenses incidental to the conduct of government-controlled airlines? The Parliament passed the Australian National Airlines Act several months ago, and presumably when the Minister was compiling his Estimates of expenditure for 1945-46, he had a fairly clear idea of how he intended to implement that act. But the committee is completely mystified regarding the matter. Honorable members do not know whether the Government intends to found its own air services, or acquire existing interstate airlines.Whichever course the Government proposes to adopt, the budget gives no clear indication of its intentions. The committee cannot, consistent with its responsibility to the country, adopt the Estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation without knowing the Government’s intention in this matter.
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has directed attention to the fact that the vote of £1,500 for the maintenance and development of civil aviation in 1944-45, has been increased this year to £102,000. Doubtless the Minister (Mr. Drakeford) will explain that the increase is due to the fact that last year the total expenditure was not £1,500 but £86,800, but that £85,300 was met by surcharges on airmail, and, therefore, the total increase this year is not £101,000 but about £17,000. I ask the Minister to explain the significance of these figures. [Quorum formed.] Last year, an amount of £85,300 was provided by mail subsidies paid to the Department of Civil Aviation by the Postmaster-General’s Department. I ask the Minister to inform me why it is that this year, no men tion is made of any contribution towards this item by the Postmaster-General’s Department?
.- Several honorable members have asked the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) to announce the Government’s policy towards the construction of aerodromes other than major air terminals. The Minister said that he did not propose to make a declaration of policy, but would continue the practice that has been followed inthe past. In short, he said that whenever assistance was sought by a municipality, advice would be given and, if necessary, the services of departmental officers would be made available
– They always are.
– Prior to the war, no complete policy had been evolved. In the years immediately preceding the war, the policy in regard to civil aviation was in the process of evolution. It had reached a certain point when the war broke out, and then the policy practically ceased. It was impossible for the Government to have a broad policy to grant financial assistance for the establishment of aerodromes for purely civil purposes unrelated to the war. But the Minister must understand that we are dealing with something which will be a major factor in the future of this nation. He cannot brush the matter aside by saying that the department will do in future as it has done in the past, offer advice and place advisers at the disposal of municipalities and if a local governing authority submits a satisfactory case, the department might even provide financial assistance. That is not a policy. If the Minister were to say “ The department does not intend to grant financial assistance but will restrict its activities to giving advice to municipalities “, the local governing authorities would know where they stand. They could meet the position in other ways, or point out why they were unable to meet it. They could attempt to secure assistance from State governments. But the Minister cannot brush this matter aside with the statement that in the future, when civil aviation will virtually revolutionize certain phases of our national life, there will be no government policy in regard to the provision of landing fields. I appeal to the Minister not to let the matter rest there. It is evident that he is not able to make an announcement of policy at present, but the Government should carefully consider this matter and announce its intentions in the near future.
I hope that the Government will soon disclose its intentions regarding the establishment of a civil air service between Australia and the United States of America or Canada. Australia must be served without delay by an adequate trans-Pacific air line. By that statement I do not mean to imply that as the war finished a fortnight ago, the Government should have a civil trans-Pacific air service in operation now. I do not wish to be misunderstood. The establishment of a trans-Pacific service will take quite a time, but T know that the American company, Pan-Pacific Airways, is actively planning a civil air service from the United States to New Zealand, and to Australia if it can secure landing rights. What is the Government’s policy regarding that service? We are anxious to see a British-owned civil air service between Australia and Canada. Let the respective governments decide whether the airline shall be controlled by private enterprise or by the State. I arn surprised that no announcement of the Government’s intentions or aspirations has yet been made. I hope that the absence of such announcements is not an indication that the Government does not regard it as a matter of major importance. At present, a military air service is operated by the Royal Air Force Transport Command, and the aircraft carry principally civilian passengers. Having flown in one of the aircraft, I say no more than that it is entirely inadequate and most unsatisfactory. In fact, there could not be a more irregular air service on the face of the globe. Certainly there could not be a more uncomfortable service. I realize that roughly converted military aircraft are being used, but surely we have now reached a stage when we can expert a better service across the Pacific. I flew both ways in aircraft, which, if I remember aright,’ carried a crew of five or six men. but there was not a single Australian amongst them.
That is not a satisfactory position at all. That will be a major world air route and a vital route to Australia. I remind honorable members that during the war Australia provided no less than 23 per cent, of the aircrew personnel for the Empire Air Training Scheme. Notwithstanding tremendous calls made upon this country when Japan entered the war, and the urgent need to build up the Royal Australian Air Force, the original contract was maintained. Yet here is a transport service operating to this country apparently without a single Australian in the aircrews. Our men should be getting experience now, because the service, we hope, will be operated entirely by Australians some day, or at least will be one in which Australia will have a substantial interest. From my observations at San Diego, Los Angeles, Honolulu, New Zealand and Mascot, not a single Australian is engaged in that service to-day. That is not good enough.
I support the remarks of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) regarding the implementation by the Government of the legislation passed recently for the creation of a national airline service. Does the fact that no provision is made in the Estimates for the payment of compensation to the private companies whose assets are to be acquired, indicate that there is some delay in the Government’s plans?
– That provision was made in the Australian National Airlines Act.
– But that relates only to compensation; what about the operation of the service ? No provision is made in the Estimates for that. Is it the intention of the Government to commence the operation of the national airlines during this financial year?
– I support the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) in protesting against the Minister’s statement that new aerodromes in country towns would have to be provided by local authorities. That is an iniquitous suggestion. Now that the war has ended, every one expects that the aviation industry will be developed largely by the Government. The passage of the Australian National Airlines Act places a big responsibility upon the Government in that regard. The transport by air of perishable goods is as yet undeveloped in this country, and the whole field is open. Obviously it will be beyond the capacity, of local authorities to provide aerodromes. I am not advocating that aerodromes should be constructed to accommodate every aircraft, but at least they should be provided at main centres which are likely to be the terminals or stopping places for passengers and goods services. I refer to such places as Gympie, Nambour and Murgon. The Minister said that because Ballarat was 100 miles from Melbourne no provision would be made for aerodrome facilities at that centre; but Ballarat, however, could be the startingpoint of a feeder service, or a major stopping-place on such a service. Are we to have only two or three main airlines throughout the Commonwealth? Is air travel to be available only to people living in the capital cities? We shall have to develop our country areas if we are to keep up with the progress that is being made by other countries.
The Minister also referred to my suggestion that Lancaster bombers might be used at least for the transport of goods. He claimed that such aircraft would not be suitable. I point out that in Great Britain, when the construction of Lancasters was undertaken, it was stated that only minor adjustment would be required to fit them for commercial work. Until civil aircraft become available 1 see no reason why converted Lancasters could not be used. I am sure that few aircraft could be safer or could carry a greater paying load.
I trust that the Minister will give some consideration to country centres which have asked for the provision of aerodromes. Landing grounds in those areas should not be merely emergency fields, but should be capable of use by feeder services.
.- I wish to refer to the development of civil aviation in Tasmania during the last few years. The point that exercises my mind particularly, relates to the development of Pat’s River aerodrome on Flinders
Island. It has been claimed that during the war the Government has not had any policy in regard to the development of civil aviation, but that can hardly be regarded as a statement of fact. The Government has had a definite plan for the development of civilian air services. The aerodrome to which I have referred has had a considerable amount of Commonwealth money expended on it. But for the self-help referred to by the. Minister earlier, it would not have received the sympathetic consideration which the Government extended to it when developmental work had to be undertaken in order that more modern aircraft could land on it. The aerodrome is now a substantial one; not quite so good as it might be, yet infinitely better than it was in the early days of the war. Originally, the municipal council, a body which represents a population of thousands in the Furneaux group of islands, expended money, which it found difficult to raise, on the purchase and development of the aerodrome. The Lyons Government was sympathetic, and gave some help. Subsequently, the Curtin Government provided a good deal more, and the aerodrome was developed extensively. It is not as large as it might be, and I hope that its size will be increased when plans are implemented for the peace-time development of air transport. It is situated midway between Victoria and Tasmania.
The Western Junction aerodrome, i believe, will become the principal airport for Tasmania. The size of the Cambridge aerodrome cannot be increased very greatly. It could never be as good as Western Junction, because it is not centrally situated. Perhaps better aerodromes could be constructed in the midlands, but they would be too far from centres of population. Western Junction is adjacent to a population of 35,000. It is in the centre of the State, and serves the north-west and southern portions as well. A good deal of money has been expended on its development during the last few years, and I know that there are plans for its further expansion. I hope that as soon as the difficulties following the termination of the war have been overcome, runways will be. provided of sufficient size to enable the aerodrome to take the most modern aircraft that are likely to come to this country. I know that the Minister is sympathetic to the establishment of aerodromes wherever they aro ^necessary for the future development of Australia. I hope that he will keep Western Junction in mind when providing for the expansion of air services. The matter ought to be considered very seriously, so that runways could be extended and aircraft would not have any difficulty in landing or taking off whatever might be the state of the weather.
– The total vote for the Department of Civil Aviation is £717,000, an increase of approximately £325,000 on the vote for last year. I am astonished not at that increase, but at the fact that it is not greater. About the time when I was participating in the Eremantle by-election, I read a statement by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) to the effect that £8,000,000 was to be expended on aerodromes, navigational aids, &c, throughout Australia. Having discussed the matter with experienced pilots, I know that there is considerable room for improvement at the different aerodromes, particularly those at Sydney and Melbourne. The only thing wrong with the efficiency of air transport to-day cannot be ascribed to the Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, but is concerned with the amenities that are provided by the Government. I have no doubt that a good deal could be expended not only at Sydney and Melbourne, but also at other places. “When I read the Minister’s statement, I naturally came to the conclusion that the Estimates would give some indication of the Government’s intentions in the near future, and better still, what works it intended to start. I did not imagine that it would expend £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 immediately, but I did believe that, as demobilization of the forces was proceeding, it would do everything possible not only to assist private industry to absorb them but also to begin necessary works which would provide employment for them. I concluded that, as the modernization of many airports is urgently needed, the Government would indicate its intentions in the Estimates. I cannot find real indication of its intention to begin a major work in the next twelve months. Therefore, to all intents and purposes, civil aviation will be practically at a standstill during that period, and will not begin to progress until the succeeding twelve months. No one can view that position with equanimity. We expected that civil aviation would expand when the war was over. Had the Government not been so foolish as to tamper with private airlines, millions of pounds of outside capital would have come to this country for their development. If ever there was a country which needed overseas capital for the provision of employment, it is Australia. There is a difference of opinion as to what amount is required to put a man to work, the estimates varying between £1,000 and £3,000. I believe that I am right in saying that a capital of at least £1,000 is needed. A sensible government would have set a course that would attract capital rather than frighten it away. If the Estimates contain any provision for aids to civil aviation, I should like the Minister to state where it is. Although the Parliament recently passed legislation authorizing the establishment of a government controlled air service, that decision is not reflected in the budget. If between £3,000,000 and £8,000,000 is to be expended in the nationalization of airways, some indication of that expenditure should be evident in the Estimates. This debate provides an opportunity for the Minister to give to the committee some indication of the Government’s intentions. It would appear that no action in this direction is intended during the next twelve months. I agree with the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) and other honorable members that we must look forward to an expansion of our internal air services, but it would appear that the Government has no real policy in regard to this matter and that we shall have to wait years for the air development of our inland areas. Years ago, private air transport companies prepared plans for a big expansion of air transport, and had not the Government’s nationalization proposal been brought forward-
– Order 1 The honorable member may not now discuss that subject.
– I was making only passing reference to it. Had that proposal not been brought forward, I nave no doubt that preparations for a big expansion, of civil aviation in Australia would have been made. That would have involved the provision of amenities at aerodromes by the Government. I ask the Minister to give to the committee some indication of the Government’s policy in regard to civil aviation during the next twelve months.
– I am concerned with the provision of facilities at aerodromes throughout Australia, because, with the exception of Perth, all the capital cities of Australia lack suitable aerodromes. Notwithstanding the expenditure of considerable sums of money, the aerodromes at Mascot, Essendon, and Parafield are not suitable for heavy aircraft. I realize that, at the moment, heavy aircraft are not in ase on civil aerodromes in Australia, but there is no doubt that in the future larger and heavier machines will be used. [ was amazed when the pilot of a Lancaster aircraft told me that at the Parafield aerodrome the crew had to be ready to drop the landing-gear immediately the plane crossed the fence while travelling at 110 miles an hour in order to ensure that there would be sufficient run-way before the aircraft reached the other side of the aerodrome. It is unfair to subject crews and passengers to such risks. Conditions are not much better at Essendon and Mascot. As larger and more powerful aircraft will certainly be used in the future, it will be necessary to expend considerable sums of money to develop aerodromes. A grave responsibility rests on the Government to provide suitable aerodromes throughout Australia to meet developments in connexion with air transport.
– The committee has been given no indication as to whether the Government intends to carry out the policy authorized by the Parliament earlier this year in connexion, with air transport. There is nothing to indicate the intentions of the Government regarding the application of the policy authorized by an act passed by Parliament this session.
– The honorable member may be assured that the Government intends to implement that policy.
– Then it will be necessary to bring down Supplementary Estimates.
– No, the act itself appropriates the necessary money.
– The Minister upbraided the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) for asking the Government to provide an aerodrome at Bendigo, saying that municipalities in such places should provide the necessary landing grounds. I object _ to this differentiation between the capital cities and other places. The Government has talked much about the nationalization of interstate airways, but now the Minister makes it plain that, while everything will be provided by the Government for a metropolis, country towns and provincial cities will have to provide for themselves. This seems to me to be a lopsided kind of nationalization.
.- We have had to listen to much nonsense from members of the Opposition, who have discussed subjects of which they know nothing whatever. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) said that the Government should encourage the investment of overseas capital in Australian airlines. I do not know just what he had in mind, because the capital in Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited has been largely subscribed by the shipping companies, which are themselves owned over seas. Recently, Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, which is rapidly becoming a monopoly, acquired Guinea Airways.
– Is the honorable member in order in reviving a previous debate?
– I am merely making a passing reference.
– I am listening to what the honorable member is saying and if he transgresses the Standing Orders he will be stopped.
– When Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited took over Guinea Airways it took certain action which is referred to in the following terms in the Melbourne Herald : -
Guinea Airways Puts Off 80 Men
Employees of Australian National Airways are working to-<lay at office desks and work benches occupied yesterday .at’ Parafield by employees of Guinea Airways.
About 80 employees, representing maintenance workshop, store and Parafield office staff, are to-day looking for jobs. Yesterday they received an hour’s notice and a week’s pay and were told that their services were no longer required by Guinea Airways. It was the first official notice that their jobs with Guinea Airways were finished.
Some of these men, it is stated, had been with Guinea Airways since the very earliest days, but they have now lost their positions because of the machinations of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. The person who sent me this newspaper cutting said that he would much prefer to see Guinea Airways taken over by the Government than by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. No one has any illusions about the real motives of the private air companies. They have no desire to open up services to remote areas. They merely wish to take the cream of the traffic and to make the largest profit possible.
– I ask the honorable member to discuss the vote before the committee.
– It is unfortunate that when honorable members opposite are confronted with the facts they “immediately raise objections. The Government is determined to develop air services to outlying areas if there is a reasonable prospect of maintaining them, and provision for this is made in the act itself:
– I cannot understand the attitude of the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford). Several honorable members have debated one of the liveliest issues affecting his department, namely, the policy of the Government in regard to the control of the main interstate routes. I direct the attention of the committee to Division 54 - Maintenance and Development of Civil Aviation - which shows an increased expendi ture of over £100,000 over last year’s expenditure, which was £1,095, or an increase of 10,000 per cent. Surely, such a great increase calls for some explanation from the Minister. Recently the Government passed legislation to acquire, or operate, interstate airlines. When considering the financial obligations of the Department of Civil Aviation for the current financial year the committee is entitled to know what the Government proposes to spend under that legislation. The Government will not even tell up what plans it has in mind. The whole development of civil aviation is to be held up; the Government will not announce it’ intentions. It is withholding information as to what it proposes to expend from public funds in that direction. As the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) said, special financial provision was made under the Australian National Airlines Act. Nevertheless, the committee is entitled to be informed of the financial obligations of the department in that respect in relation to this item. The committee should refuse to agree to the proposed vote until the Government tells us frankly what it proposes to do.
.- I hope that- the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) will not be so discourteous as to withhold the information which honorable members on this side are seeking. I notice that it is proposed to increase the personnel of the administrative staff of the department. Provision is being made this year for 30 inspector of aircraft compared with 17 employed last year. The number of control officers is to be increased from 31 to 50, and the number of aerodrome senior groundsmen from 11 to 25, whilst the grand total of employees of the department is to be increased from 547 to 727. Am I right in assuming that these facts indicate that the Government intends to implement the Australian National Airlines Act? I urge the Minister to extend to honorable members on this side the courtesy of answering their questions on this matter. He should let us know whether the Government is going to nationalize airways this year, next year, at some later date, or not at all.
– I should like an indication from the Minister (Mr. Drakeford) as to whether he proposes to answer the questions raised by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) and others, [f he does not give such an indication, I have no alternative but to move an amendment in order to keep open the discussion on this item.
– I have already indicated that I intend to satisfy the very evident curiosity of honorable members opposite.
– I move -
That the amount be reduced by £1. [ do so as a protest against the Minister’s failure to supply the information sought by the committee. My amendment will give to honorable members the opportunity to discuss the matter fully should the Minister’s explanation prove to be unsatisfactory.
– I have already indicated that I intend to satisfy the evident curiosity of honorable members opposite.
.- The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has moved an amendment for the purpose of assisting honorable members to extract some explanation from the Minister on this matter. The Minister has been asked what amount the Government proposes to expend during the current financial year on the operation of its own airlines. Surely the Minister cannot evade such a matter.
– Who is trying to evade it?
– The only reason I rose is because the Minister has refrained from giving an explanation.
– I shall give it in my own good time, instead of bobbing up and down to suit the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister to tell the people of Australia whether the Government intends to expend any money during the current financial, year on the operation of its own airlines. The Minister can resolve the matter simply by indicating that he will make a statement along those lines. If he will say that he will state the Government’s intentions with respect to the operation of its own airlines I shall resume my seat, immediately.
– I rise to protest against the refusal of the Minister to answer vital question? raised in the committee. I want the Minister to give the information sought, before the question is put. He has already said that he proposed to outline the Government’s policy in this respect, but when the Chairman commences to put the question he makes no attempt to address the committee. What we want to know is what amount the Government has placed on the Estimates either for conducting airlines or for reimbursing the private companies conducting air services for the aircraft and equipment that the Government will take from them. Surely, that is a simple question to answer, seeing that the Parliament, has given the Government the right to nationalize interstate air-lines. Yet, in the Estimates we find no indication of the policy the Government proposes to adopt. The committee asked the Minister to give an explanation. The Minister said that he would. The Chairman called him and he remained in his seat. Will he rise and give it? If he does not I remind him that every honorable member has the right to speak twice, to move other amendments and to take full advantage of all the forms of the committee. We ask him to give us the courtesy of a reply. We represent the people and already the Government has taken too much, liberty with their money. We demand to know what the Government’s intentions are in regard to nationalization of interstate air-lines.
– For the life of me, I cannot understand the Minister’s attitude. Hitherto I have always regarded him as a very reasonable man. I am now trying to give him the chance to discharge his responsibilities.
– I do not need it.
– The Minister does. We have asked him to explain the implication of the Estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. We have, asked him to explain the Government’s attitude to the implementation of the legislation passed for the nationalization of interstate airlines. We have asked whether the Estimates contain any financial provision for the nationalization of interstate airlines. We have asked whether the Government intends before the 30th June next to take any action to nationalize them. What is the Government’s attitude on this important matter? In order to preserve the rights of the Opposition, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) very reluctantly, after having given the Minister many opportunities to give the explanation, moved to reduce the proposed vote by £1, as the Standing Orders entitle him to do. The Minister promised during the speeches of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), rather optimistically, I think, that he intended to satisfy our curiosity.
– Hear, hear!
– I emphasize that the Minister used the word “satisfy”.
– I said that I would try to satisfy honorable members opposite.-
– The Minister did not use the word “ try “, but said that he would satisfy our curiosity. The Minister should accept his responsibilities in this matter and give a satisfactory explanation. Let us pass this proposed vote and go home.
– Since the Government has decided not to give certain information I will ask for more. In the absence of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), perhaps no Minister will be able to answer me.
– I am representing him.
– I take the honorable gentleman’s claim at its face value. I want to know whether the Government has consulted counsel in England in connexion with the possible appeal by the private airline companies to the Privy Council. I want to know whether any provision is made in the proposed vote for the Department of Civil Aviation for the briefing of solicitors and barristers in connexion with an impending law 8Ult before the Privy
Council, which even the Government admits is inevitable.
– I have been quite interested and almost amused at the Opposition’s endeavour to make it appear that I did not intend to give an explanation. Honorable members opposite knew quite well that that was incorrect and that they were merely stunting for the purposes of self-gratification. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) was not in the chamber when the amendment was moved by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). Because I did not rise until the amendment was at the point of being put, it was assumed that I would not rise, but that was a wrong assumption. To my regret, honorable gentlemen opposite have shown a spirit of antagonism based on false premises. Long before the honorable member for Barker moved bis amendment I said that I would reply to the various matters raised. He knew quite well, as did other honorable members opposite, that I would speak. I am disappointed with Opposition members. They know quite well that the legislation passed to enable the Government to take over the interstate airlines appropriated £3,000,000 for that purpose. When the Government is ready to proceed it will use that money for the purpose for which it was appropriated. There is no need to fear that the Government will not implement its policy. I remind the honorable member for Barker, who spoke about the Government’s alleged refusal to provide money for. the development of aerodromes in country towns, that the “ capital “ of the electorate that he represents has an aerodrome, which is used for civil aviation purposes, on which the Commonwealth has expended £67,000. I refer to Mount Gambier.
– I did not know that it was the capital.
– It may not be a capital city but it is an important town’ in the honorable gentleman’s electorate. In many country centres large sums of money have been expended, as the following figures indicate: Geraldton, Western Australia, £71,000;
Nhill, Victoria, £6,928; Oodnadatta, £34,970; Rockhampton, £80,000; Gingin, Western Australia, £11,000; and Iron Range £155,000
– Many of them are not. Does the honorable member for Indi believe that Mr Gambier, for example, is on a trunk line? lt is on a branch line, and he knows it. As honorable members have raised these matters, it is my duty to satisfy their curiosity. The last thing that I want to do. is to antagonize them. Many honorable members have submitted valuable contributions to the discussion, and I appreciate the great interest that they have taken in it. Of course, the honorable member for Barker indicated his interest by submitting an amendment for the reduction of the vote.
The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) considered that the increase of £325,000 in the estimated expenditure for the Department of Civil Aviation this year was insufficient, in view of the fact that we could expect a great development in civil aviation. I agree that we have a right to expect a great development. The honorable member read a passage from the report of a speech which I made in Western Australia, and, for once, the report was correct. Between £8,000,000 and £9,000,000 will be expended on the enlargement of aerodromes. However, before we can decide what works shall be placed on the Estimates, we must be certain that we have selected the right sites. Engineers and surveyors have been securing the necessary information in order to enable us to estimate the cost of developing these sites, and making them suitable even for international traffic. At present, we have insufficient technical staff and experts to undertake these works. When they become available, we shall utilize their services in order to make Australia as well served with airports as any country with a similar population could desire. This Government is much more likely to have a progressive policy in that regard than any other Commonwealth government during the last 40 years.
The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Guy) referred to the increase of the number of aerodrome inspectors and the like. Obviously, that indicates an expansion of policy. We shall employ the right men for that purpose, and that is why it is proposed to increase the staff in this instance.
– Why did not the Minister give us that information earlier?
– At no time did I indicate that I would not reply to the points raised by honorable members. In order to stage a “stunt”, honorable gentlemen opposite assumed, without any justification, that I did not propose to reply to their questions. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) emphasized the desirability of enlarging Pat’s River aerodrome on Flinders Island and the aerodrome at Western Junction in Tasmania. Those matters will receive consideration. Many existing aerodromes must be enlarged in order to accommodate the bigger type of aircraft which will operate in Australia in the near future. Several honorable members referred to the necessity to provide suitable aerodromes at certain centres. A sum of money will be made available for the acquisition of land for another aerodrome near Adelaide.
– At West Beach ?
– I think so. As honorable members are aware, a Minister must depend upon reports submitted to him before he can allocate money for projected works. I do not agree with the statement of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers), although I respect his opinion, that some aerodromes in Australia are unsafe. They are not unsafe, and the ratio of accidents in Australia is as low as that for any other country. Apparently, our record is due to the skill of our pilots, and to the staff engaged in safety operations.
– I said that for the larger aircraft which will come to Australia, some aerodromes will be unsafe.
– I agree that we must enlarge aerodromes in order to accommodate the bigger types of aircraft which will eventually become available to us in Australia. So far as lies within my power, we shall have the best aircraft and aerodromes in order to give the best possible service on governmentoperated air routes.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) pointed out that the estimated expenditure on the maintenance and development of civil aviation had increased by approximately £100,000. I understand why the honorable member was rather curious. The explanation is that an alteration has been made in the presentation of the figures, and there is a set off of £86,000 leaving a difference of about £17,000.
– Will the Minister refer to the ‘Government’s policy regarding overseas air services?
– Last October, I made an announcement, which was widely published in the press, that the Government intended to participate as fully as possible in overseas air services. The Director-General of Civil Aviation is now abroad acquiring the latest possible information about overseas services.
The honorable member for Indi referred to the Royal Air Force Transport Command. Possibly, it is not above criticism, but speaking from personal experience, I believe that some of the criticisms of the service are not justified. When I went abroad, I did not travel by Royal Air Force Transport Command, but I went in a Royal Air Force aircraft, and the facilities provided for me were quite adequate. They were not luxurious, but one does not expect luxury conditions in wartime. The honorable member may have reason to be dissatisfied with the Royal Air Force Transport Command, but I assure him that the Government will endeavour to get the best aircraft available, not only to operate jointly with other services, but also to conduct its own service between Australia and the United States of America or Canada, wherever landing rights can be obtained. This matter is being discussed at present. The United States of America may be, and no doubt is, in a position to jump ahead in regard to civil aviation, because it has the kind of transport plane which can be converted almost immediately for passenger services. Great Britain was in an unfortunate position, because war conditions compelled it to devote its entire production capacity to combat planes, and because large
British aircraft cannot be easily converted for passenger use. For that reason, Great Britain is somewhat behind the United States in this matter. But it is not intended to make Australia dependent entirely on any other country for the types of aircraft that will give us an adequate service.
– The Minister has not replied to the question by the honorable member for Barker regarding provision for obtaining legal advice on the validity of the Australian National Airlines Act.
– I cannot follow the honorable member’s argument, but apparently he wishes to enter a judicial sphere in which some important points may have to be decided in the future. I confess that I em not sufficiently qualified to offer any opinion as to whether or not the Government’s action is legal; but whether it be legal or illegal, the Government believes that it is right. If other interests wish to challenge our action, the responsibility is theirs. The Opposition need not be afraid that the Government will not proceed with iti plans; but it will not be rushed into taking rash steps with which the Opposition might find fault immediately. After careful consideration the Government placed before Parliament a bill providing for government ownership of interstate airlines on a basis which it believes to be practical. Having done that, we propose to implement that legislation when we are ready to do so. When that will be is a matter for the Government to decide. It is not usual for a Minister to make announcements of Government policy when dealing with the Estimates.
.-! take the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) to task for his statement that large country centres like Bendigo should provide their own aerodromes. Apparently his view is that the Government should build aerodromes only in the big cities where there are plenty of Labour votes, and that other centres with populations of 30,000, 40,000 or 50,000 should be left to their own devices.
– What about Ballarat!
– Ballarat is in the same position as Bendigo. The Minister is taking a very peculiar stand in insist- ing that all the money he spent in capital cities.
– I have not said that.
– That is the story that the Minister has been telling us - provincial towns will have to provide their own aerodromes, without assistance.
– That is quite wrong.
– There are aerodromes at Adelaide already but more are to be built. Large sums of money have been expended upon aerodromes at Sydney and Melbourne, but still more money is to be expended at those cities. That is a wrong principle because the money has been provided by both city and country taxpayers. The Government has often expressed its support for decentralization but it has conveniently forgotten that on this occasion.
.- I thank the Minister for having answered a number of points raised in the course of this debate. However, I wish to make this final comment on the very important issue which was dealt with in detail by a number of members on this side of the chamber. The Minister has taken refuge in a quibble. He has said that the £3,000,000 which has been appropriated by the Parliament for the nationalization of interstate airways will cover expenditure involved as the result of that policy.
– I have not said that. I said that provision was made in a special appropriation to deal with airlines which the Government proposes to control.
– That is another quibble. Was the appropriation £3,000,000? If not, what was it?
– It was £3,000,000.
– This is the first occasion I can recall, on which a Minister, when dealing with the Estimates for his department, has refusedto indicate the estimated expenditure under a particular item. I think that the public should know that a Minister, speaking on behalf of the Government, has refused to tell the committee what the Government proposes to expend in the course of the current financial year in pursuance of its policy. The appropriation is there but the Minister has refused to let us know how, when, and to what degree, that appropriation is to be employed.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Japanese Atrocities on Nauru Island.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to refer to the sad news which has reached this country of the murder by the Japanese of five persons on Nauru Island. The Administrator of Nauru Island was well known to me, and to certain other members of this Parliament. I was partly responsible for his appointment to Nauru Island in 1938, and he and I discussed the prospects at that time, because even in those days, some of us in this chamber were of the opinion that we were heading inevitably towards a breach of relations with the Japanese. The point I wish to make now is this: To the best of my knowledge Nauru Island has not been the scene of any activity by troops other than Australians. It is an Australian territory, administered by the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward), and the only military intrusion of which I have any knowledge by any of our allies was the bombing raid which was used by the Japanese as a pretext for the so-called execution - I call it murder - of five persons on Nauru Island in March, 1943. I have some strong views on the question of how these matters should be dealt with. I have heard references to a suggestion - I am not sure whether the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) made a broadcast statement on the matter - that these matters would be dealt with in London. In my opinion, London is a little bit too far away from the scene of these atrocities. I believe that the Commonwealth Government - here the onus is on the Minister for External Territories - should secure all available information in regard to what happened at Nauru Island, and, if possible, identify the Japanese responsible for the atrocities. If these individuals are still in the hands of our troops or our Allies, they should be handed over to the Australian Government for trial. That trial should take place in Australia, and whatever sentence is imposed should be carried out on
Nauru Island. My personal view goes further than that. Having so many thousands of J apanese prisoners in our hands, many of whom must be of high rank, there would be nothing wrong with ourusing the methods that have been used by our enemies during this war. We should tell the Japanese Government plainly that if certain war criminals are not handed over - and I am dealing at the moment particularly with Nauru - we shall hold the prisoners that we have until those men are forthcoming, wherever they may be. Public opinion is fairly well set on this matter, and it will not be satisfied with any kid-glove handling of some of the persons responsible for the atrocities that are referred to daily in our press.
– We should need to do more than merely hold them.
– The honorable member need not have any doubts on that score. I hope that he does not regard me as one of the kid-glove type. I have never worn kid gloves.
– The treatment meted out to them would have to be very definite.
– If these Japanese can be identified, they should be singled out. If they cannot, those in command at Nauru at that time should be located. The responsibility for the atrocity must be sheeted home. I am one who believes in the good old law, which often falls into disrepute in these days - an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.
– Does the honorable gentleman mean a Japanese for an Australian?
– I did not hear what the honorable gentleman said.
– Does the honorable gentleman mean one for one, or does he rate the Australian as a superior?
– I rate the Australian as much superior. I have said quite frankly that I believe in maintaining the superiority of the white race. Much of what has overtaken us in this war has been due to the kid-glove, mealymouth attitude we have adopted in respect of some of these matters since the first war against Germany. I am very keen in regard to this matter. I know that other atrocities, perhaps worse than this, have been committed. One of the worst was referred to this week, namely, the butchery of certain nurses on an island off Singapore. That territory was outside Australian jurisdiction. Nauru is under Australian jurisdiction. It was occupied by a very small number of Australian troops when it was taken by the. Japanese. I remember the last signals which came through on, I think, the 26th August, 1942, when the Japanese landed. The Administrator was my battalion commander in France in 1917-18, and he has been with the battalion ever since it went away. He was one of the whitest men that this country has produced. Some of us hold very definite and firm convictions, and would welcome a statement by the Minister that these matters will not be dealt with in the kidglove, mealy-mouth fashion which some people are beginning to fear will eventuate if the apprehension of the guilty and their trial by the processes of the law do not proceed at a faster rate than that at which they have proceeded in Europe since the fall of Germany.
– There will be no disagreement on the point that the Australian Government is anxious not only to apprehend those responsible for this atrocity, but also to ensure that they shall be made to pay for the offence that they have committed. There are certain difficulties. The Department of External Territories is endeavouring to secure information as to who were responsible and to ensure that they shall be held and brought to trial. The department has requested Mr. Ridgway, the Acting Administrator, to secure all the available evidence on Nauru Island. It has also been in touch with the Department of the Army, which is gathering as much information as it can so that these people may not be allowed to escape responsibility for the execution of the five Europeans who remained on the island when the nonnative island population was evacuated. The only point is as to whether the Australian Government should proceed to the trial of these persons, or whether there should first be some consultation with another authority in London.
Actually, Nauru is a British mandate, which is administered by the Australian Department of External Affairs under an agreement between the Governments of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. The honorable member may rest assured that everything possible is being done to discover the guilty parties. So far as I am concerned, and I am certain that all my colleagues are of the same mind, if we can ascertain exactly who were guilty of the crime, they will pay the full penalty for it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.42 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
Mr.Chifley. - On the 31st May the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
How many State Public Service officers are temporarily engaged with the Commonwealth Public Service?
Has a decision been reached as to how many from New South Wales it is intended to invite to join the permanent Commonwealth Public Service?
Have any transfers been made? If so, on what conditions?
Has their seniority been conserved with that of the Commonwealth Public Service members?
I then answered parts 2, 3, and 4 of the questions. The following information is now supplied in answer to part 1: -
The number of State officers, including a numberfrom State instrumentalities such as Railways Departments, Electrical Undertakings, &c., who have been temporarily engaged with Commonwealth departments, is 3,410. This number includes 2,494 State employees who were temporarily transferred to the Public Service of the Commonwealth under the terms of the Income Tax (War-time Arrangements) Act of 1942, also 17 State officers who have been temporarily engaged by the Commonwealth on a part-time basis.
n asked the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Australian Wheat Board was established as soon as war broke out, and conducts the marketing of wheat. The Empire Wool Agreement provides marketing safeguards for wool. Long term contracts have been concluded for the marketing, at stable prices, of Australian meat, dairy products and eggs for some years ahead.
r asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– It is a fact that at the recent conference of Premiers I suggested that some form of tax treaty, which will not prejudice Australia if overseas industries are established in this country, might be discussed. The Commissioner of Taxation is, at the present time, in London, discussing the proposed treaty with the United Kingdom Inland Revenue officials. It is probable that the conversations will, in the near future, be taken up on a ministerial plane. The Minister for Postwar Reconstruction, as I did when holding that portfolio, has kept very closely in touch with overseas industries which might be brought to this country. As soon as there is anything of value on this subject of which I may inform honorable members I will do so.
l. - On the 12th September, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked whether the Postmaster-General would favorably consider the issue of a victory stamp.
The Postmaster-General has now supplied the following answer: -
Approval has recently been given for the issue of a special set of postage stamps to commemorate the cessation of hostilities, and the necessary preparatory work is now being undertaken.
Suits for Ex-Servicemen.
Mr.Fadden asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Has his attention been drawn to reports in the press of the 12th September, that, according to the Chairman of the Clothing Manufacturers’ Association, Mr. Solomons, city tailors will probably be unable to make suits to order for discharged servicemen for six months?
If so, will he inform the House why, according to the Australian Military Forces Army Activities Bulletin No. 1, issued by him on the 1st September, 55,000 civilian suits were handed over to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission for sale?
Could these suits have been made available to discharged servicemen at the price at which it was intended they should be made available prior to being handed over to the Disposals Commission?
e. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
t asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y. - On the 19th July the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) asked the Minister for Defence a number of questions regarding manpower for the mining industry. The Minister for Defence promised to discuss the matter with me, and I now provide the following information for the honorable member : -
I am informed that different policies regard ing the retiring of mine workers on reaching the retiring age are followed in the various mining districts. In northern coal-fields all unions demand that their members be retired on reaching the retiring age but in the southern and western districts I understand an agreement was reached that for the duration of the war and on condition that there were no unemployed mine workers available, members would be permitted to continue working after reaching the retiring age. The agreement provided that the manager of any mine should give notice to employees over the retiring age if the union advised the manager that suitable labour was available. It would appear that only a small percentage of workers has remained in the industry after reaching retiring age as I am informed that at 30th June, 1945, only 163 men who had reached the retiring age were still working in the industry. This compares with over 4,000 who were receiving pensions as at the end of 1944. The Miner’s Pension Tribunal will,I am informed, determine a date when all workers over the retiring age must leave the industry.
With regard to the honorable member’s suggestion that the man-power authorities were allowing only youths with no previous experience to enter employment in the mines, I inform him that the Director-General of Man Power has issued instructions that any person desiring to enter the industry should be permitted to do so. Moreover, all Deputy Directors-General of Man Power have been requested to give every consideration to requests for releases from the services on occupational grounds of persons who worked in the coal-mining industry prior to enlistment.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 September 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450920_reps_17_185/>.