17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to announce that I have received a return to the writ which I issued on the 25th February, for the election of a member to serve for the Electoral Division of Henty, in the State of Victoria; to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Mr. ArthurWilliam Coles, and that, by the endorsement thereon, it iscertified that Henry Baynton Gullett has been elected in pursuance of the said writ.
Mr. Gullett made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
Payment from No.7 Pool.
– The Government having paid £3,500,000into No. 7 wheat pool to balance sales of wheat, for stock feed, can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture state how soon wheat-growers may expect to receive a further dividend from that pool ?
– A notification from the Australian Wheat Board of the amount of the allocation is awaited. Immediately it is received, I shall place the matterbefore Cabinet, and arrangements will be made for a payment to wheat-growers forthwith.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether Mr. W. J. Digman, of Sydney, has been chosen by the Government to fill the position of Australian Minister to Eire. If so, why has Mr. Dignam been appointed as a Minister and not as a High Commissioner, as has been done in respect of the other dominions?
– There has not, as yet, been an official announcement of any such appointment; but the honorable member having raised the matter, perhaps I ought to say that the Government has decided to complete the representation of Australia in the two remaining British countries to which it is not now accredited, namely, South Africa and Eire. In each instance the appointment, when announced, will be that of a High Commissioner.
Katherine Abattoir and Freezing Chambers
– Can the Minister for the Army inform me what the Government proposes to do with the ice works and freezing chamber about 2 miles down the Katherine River from the Katherine railway station, and with the abattoir and freezing chambers about 8 miles down the river, which were used to supply local troops and also those in the islands during the war?
– Because of demobilisation, there is not now sufficient demand for meat from these works to justify keepingan establishment of such size in operation, and they were closed. An inter-departmental committee was set upto advise as to what should be done. The Government has decided to refer the matter to the North Australia Development Commission, consisting of two representatives of Queensland, two representatives ofWestern Australia-
– And none from the Northern Teritory?
– Yes, I think the Northern Territory also will be represented, but I am not certain about that. When the report of this body is received, a decision will be made. I re mind the honorable member that the abattoir had a killing capacity of 700 beasts a week, which was enough to meet the requirements of an army of over 50,000 men. The works are of a size which makes it uneconomic to keep them working merely to supply the needs of the small white population in the Northern Territory.
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service say what is the present position regarding the Bunnerong Power House dispute? Is there any hope of reaching a permanent solution of this long-standing trouble?
– The men are at work, and there has not been any stoppage. The parties have been called before the court, and will appear tomorrow morning. I hope that, as a result of the patient and persistent efforts of Judge O’Mara, a permanent solution will be found.
Motion (by Mr.Chifley) agreed to-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow,at 10.30 a.m.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) - by leave - agreed to -
That Standing Order 70 -11 o’clock rule - be suspended for the remainder of this week.
Interim Establishment - Retirement o.f Senior Officers : Compensation.
– Has the Minister for Air any .statement to make regarding the interim Air Force which it is proposed to establish? Has the force been fully enlisted, and, if not, is it intended to make more permanent commissions available in the Royal Australian Air Force ?
– During the absence of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White),. I made a brief statement about the interim Air Force a week ago, when I said that the matter was receiving consideration. No decision has been reached, but the matter is being investigated in relation to other proposed defence developments, so that Australia will have a balanced force.
– Have sufficient enlistments been received?
– As no decision has yet. been reached regarding the size of the force, it is impossible to say whether sufficient enlistments have been received. Many men have enlisted, and we hope that more will do so. We shall announce as soon as possible the number which it is proposed to enlist, and upon that will depend the number of permanent commissions.
– by leave - Honorable members may recall that towards the end of February, the Prime Minister announced through the press the intention to effect the retirement of certain Royal Australian Air Force officers in the older age ranges. I take this opportunity to outline briefly the circumstances associated with the decision to effect such retirements and to give the names of the Air Force personnel being retired, and details of the special scheme of compensation, as approved by the Government, to apply to those personnel.
In time of war, two main factors operate to make such retirements unavoidable in the interest of the future wellbeing of the force. One such factor is that, with the tremendous expansion of the force in war-time corresponding increases in establishments, both in ranks and numbers, take place, and promotions made against those war establishments cannot possibly be maintained in full upon reversion to peace conditions.
The second factor is that, during hostilities, unprecedented opportunities are presented to younger and junior officers to gain experience and seniority which not only qualify them to hold the. senior appointments, but also render it imperative to provide continued opportunities for the acceptance by them of commensurate responsibilities. Failure to recognize this factor- or to give effect to it. would inevitably lead to a form of stagnation in the force when initiative, vigour and enthusiasm, based upon recent war experience and developments, must be regarded as being of paramount, importance. I believe that honorable members, generally, will agree that this latter factor applies, with special significance, to an air force, having regard to the rapid and important developments in aerial warfare, strategy, and tactics, developments in aircraft types and performances generally, and the varying roles in which they are required to function.
It is, perhaps, not inopportune to draw attention to the fact that the retirement of numbers of senior officers is not confined to Australia, and that the operation of the same factors I have already mentioned has resulted in similar action being taken in other countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, as honorable members will have noticed by recent press reports. Many of those officers achieved world fame during the war and a big percentage of them are of approximately the same ages as the senior members to be retired from the Royal Australian Air Force, though some are younger.
It would be quite out of place and embarrassing, both to the service and to the officers concerned, to enter upon a discussion of personal details. I need only state that, in approving of thoseretirements, the Government has been actuated by. service and policy, as distinct from personal, considerations. A number of retirements is also being effected of officers who have reached the prescribed maximum retiring ages of their respective ranks, but the factors to which I have already referred have been the basic consideration influencing the action taken in relation toboth categories.
I assure honorable members that the Government fully appreciates the valuable services rendered to the country by those officers and I take this opportunity of expressing in Parliament our gratitude for, and appreciation of, the high standard of their work in the various important posts they have filled in both peace and war. It was by reason of their excellent services that the Government, as recently announced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), has made provision for, and payment to, those officers of compensation on what it considers to be a fair and reasonable basis. I shall refer to this later.
The Royal Australian Air Force officers being retired before reaching the age of retirement prescribed for their subsequent substantive ranks are: - Air Marshal R. Williams, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., Air Vice-Marshal S. J. Goble, C.B.E., D.S.O., D.S.C., Air Vice-Marshal W. D. Rostock, C.B., O.B.E., Air Commodore W. H. Anderson, C.B.E., D.F.C., Air Commodore F. H. McNamara, V.C,. C.B., C.B.E., Air Commodore A. T. Cole, C. B.E., D.S.O., M.C., D.F.C., Air Commodore F. W. F. Lukis, C.B.E., Air Commodore R. J. Brownell,C.B.E., M.C., M.M., Air Commodore J. H. Summers, O.B.E., and Group Captain J. Waters.
The officers to be retired on account of having reached the prescribed ages for retirement are - Air Vice-Marshal H. Wrigley, O.B.E., D.F.C., A.F.C., Air Commodore H. F. De La Rue, C.B.E., D. F.C., Air Commodore A. W. Murphy, D.F.C., A.F.C., Group Captain C. C. Eaton, O.B.E., A.F.C., and Group Captain J. F. S. Murray, M.B.E., M.C.
The special scheme of compensation approved by the Government, may be summarized as follows: -
I assure honorable members that, in effecting these retirements, the Government gave full consideration to rank and age of the officers concerned and to the appointments held and experience gained by them, as well as to appointments which will be available in the post-war Air Force, and to the availability of fully qualified and experienced officers to fill those appointments. Finally, I would state that necessary action will be taken to ensure a smooth transition from war to peace conditions insofar as senior officer personnel are concerned, and for appropriately qualified younger officers with extensive war experience and good records to occupy the senior appointments of the Service.
I lay on the table the following paper : -
Retirement of Senior Air Force Officers - Ministerial Statement, and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. White) adjourned.
Meeting of British Prime Ministers - Australian Representation at Paris Peace Conference.
Mr.CHIFLEY (Macquarie- Prime Minister and Treasurer). - by leave - Honorable members will be aware from the announcement by the British Prime Minister, Mr. Attlee, on the18th March, 1946, that a series of consultations between British Commonwealth Prime Ministers has been arranged in London at times convenient to those concerned. As Mr. Attlee has explained, it has unfortunately not been possible to arrange a meeting at which all Prime Ministers can be present simultaneously. I propose to visit London in time for the commencement of the consultations on the 23rd April, 1946, when the Minister of Finance of New Zealand, Mr. Walter Nash, representing the Prime Minister of New Zealand, will also be present. The Prime Minister of South Africa, Field-Marshal Smuts, will join in the discussions later in April, and the Prime
Minister of Canada, Mr. King, will be in London at a later date. As stated by Mr. Attlee, the discussions will afford an opportunity for an exchange of views on other matters of common concern. The main discussion will be on matters pertaining to the Pacific.
The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) will accompany me to the conference in London and will later represent Australia at the Peace Conference to be held in Paris to decide the terms of the Peace Treaties with Italy and the satellite Axis powers.
– On the 6th or 8th May.
Land Settlement in South Australia - Premises for Technical Training.
– In view of the statement on Thursday last in the Adelaide Advertiser by the Premier of South Australia, Mr. Playford, to the effect that South Australia had not received approval from the Commonwealth for the purchase of land for the land settlement of ex-servicemen, is the Minister in a position to advise the House as to the present position in regard to this matter ?
– I have seen that statement. I am having the matter investigated, and I hope to be able to reply to the honorable gentleman to-morrow.
– I understand that the Department of Post-war Reconstruction is having difficulty in obtaining a suitable building inSydney for the technical training of ex-servicemen. That being so, will the Minister for PostwarReconstruction further examine my proposal that the Chullora aircraft annex be used for that purpose, seeing that the works successfully trained some hundreds of dilutees in connexion with the munitions programme? Alternatively, will he examine the Government factory at Lidcombe which was formerly used for the manufacture of aero engines, but is now used to only a small extent. Whereas formerly 3,000 workers were employed at the plant the number of employees isnow only about one- third of that number. The works are equipped with modern plant and are ideally situated for the purpose.
– It is true that the Department of Post-war Reconstruction is experiencing considerable difficulty in Sydney, and, indeed in every capital city, in finding sufficient accommodation for post-war training classes. I believe that the two buildings to which the honorable member referred, have already been examined, but, of course, they cannot be used for post-war reconstruction training until the responsible authority makes them available to the department. However, I shall see whether the honorable member’s suggestion can be given effect.
– I lay on the table two reports of the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Ordered to be printed.
Treatment of Dependants. mr. TURNBULL. - I ask the Minister for the Army whether the military authorities are demanding from widows and other dependants of prisoners of war who died in the hands of the Japanese a refund of the difference between the allotment and the subsequent pension rate? Ifso, seeing that these people have suffered greatly, and that this demand is financially embarrassing to many of the widows of deceased prisoners of war, would the Minister favour amendment of the regulations governing the matter to provide for the payment of allotments to continue up to the date of the notification of death, which in some cases occurred years before the notification ?
– This question is similar to one asked by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White). I have inquired when the answers can be furnished and I have been assured that I shall have them to-morrow when I will make them available to honorable members.
South Australian Wheat Farmers - Victorian Dairymen
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture yet had an opportunity to examine the South Australian Drought Relief Bill? If so, does the Commonwealth Government now propose to reverse its decision, and grant some assistance to South Australian wheat-growers, instead of maintaining the Pontius Pilate attitude it adopted recently?
– I have perused the bill, and consider that the Government of South Australia has not been overgenerous in granting assistance to wheatgrowers in the drought stricken areas. At the first opportunity, I shall discuss the honorable member’s question with the Prime Minister.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture given consideration to a request by dairy-farmers in Victoria for a review of the basis of drought relief distribution as arranged by the Commonwealth and the Government of Victoria?
– There was a general arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States regarding the distribution of drought relief, but the actual distribution was left to the State governments. If there are any anomalies or difficulties-
– I explained the difficulties in this House about three weeks ago.
– I do not remember whether I was here at the time. However, I shall have inquiries made, and if there is anything unfair or anomalous in the present method of distribution, I shall discuss the matter again with the Government of Victoria.
– Did the Prime Minister read in the press an article dealing with the proposed establishment of a secondary industry in South Australia, and a comment by the Government spokesman that the Commonwealth Government favoured the decentralization of industry, and the establishment of secondary industries in the less populous capitals such as Adelaide and Brisbane? Oan the right honorable gentleman assure the House that in the Government’s efforts at decentralization the claims -of. other less populous capital cities, including the important city of Perth, wall not be overlooked?
– I do not ‘remember whether I read the particular article to which the honorable member referred, but I have made it .clear, at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, and on other occasions that this Government favoured the transfer of secondary industries from congested capital cities to country districts. Failing that, the Government preferred to see now industries established in the less populous capital cities such as Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. For the sake of the economy of the less populous States, decentralization of industry would be the best policy. That comment applies par,ticularly to South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia, which are not so favourably situated economically as are New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Wherever the opportunity occurs, we shall endeavour to secure the- establishment of secondary industries in the less populous States. Therefore, the Government welcomes at any time- proposals for the establishment of new industries in the smaller capital cities, and, if necessary, the transfer of industries from congested capital cities to other parts of the Commonwealth. The ‘Secondary Industries Commission made a special investigation of the claims of Western Australia to see whether new industries could be encouraged in that State. The Government will continue to give effect to that policy.
Sydney-Singapore-London Service - Eagle Farm Aerodrome
– I ask the Minister for Air whether Brisbane has been discarded as a port of call for Qantas aircraft, on the SydneySingaporeLondon service. Has the United States of America-Pacific air service decided to vacate the Eagle Farm aero.drome at Brisbane? If so, what endeavours does the Government propose to make to prevent excessive centralization of air services in the southern States?
– I answer ‘ the last question first, by saying that, under provisions that Were laid down by the International Conference on Civil Aviation that was ‘held at Chicago last year, each nation is obliged to provide an international airport. The Government has decided that the international airport in Australia; shall “be located at Sydney. This, in my opinion, doe3 not indicate that there is to be a centralization of all civil aviation interests at Sydney. The Eagle Farm aerodrome has. been occupied up to the present by the American Air Force, and on occasions has been used by civil aircraft. It is to be taken over again by Australian authorities, and will be used as an airport for Australian air services. The air service from London to Sydney, via Singapore, was resumed to-day. So far as I am aware, it is not intended to use Brisbane as a port of call for the present. I shall make inquiries, and if that is to be the permanent intention, I shall ascertain the reasons for it and furnish them to the honorable member.
– Is it a fact that the Department of the Interior intends selling for removal a number of homes at Eagle Farm, Brisbane, which were impressed by the department during the war? Will the Minister for the Interior allow these houses to remain in their present position, as they are not interfering with the use of the aerodrome?
– The homes impressed at Eagle Farm were, as the honorable member knows, ‘ for the purpose of housing members of the forces. I shall have an investigation made, and the honorable member will be supplied with information later.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General the following questions: - (1) What number of applications for telephone installations has been received from each State since the cessation of hostilities with Japan? (2) How many new telephone subscribers have been added to the list in each State since those hostilities ceased? (3) If, as has been stated by postal authorities, the necessary equipment for the installation of telephones can be made in Australia, will the PostmasterGeneral ascertain the reason for the numerous complaints by business people and the general public because of their inability to obtain this very important and, in many instances, urgent service? (4) Will the PostmasterGeneral investigate the possibility of having some of the materials that are in short supply manufactured by private firms, if this course will help to reduce the period for which intending subscribers would have to wait for this service, should the output from the postal manufacturing plant have to be relied upon to supply all requirements ?
– I shall ask the Postmaster-General to supply answers to the first three questions. I shall also ask him to give consideration to the suggestion that is made in the fourth question. Last week, the honorable member for Bass referred to the number. of persons still awaiting the installation of telephones in either business premises or private residences. I then stated that about 60,000 persons in Australia desired to have this facility provided for them. That fact furnishes evidence of the high degree of prosperity that exists in the community at the present time. This high degree of prosperity arises from the fact that the nation has a remarkably good government in office.
Supply of Wire
– Recently, the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. McKell, announced that arrangements had been made for the early release of wire and other materials in short supply. He said that farmers should lodge their orders at once with their storekeepers, who, in turn, should have, them sponsored by a field officer of the Department of Agriculture. As practically all of those who last year suffered from the floods that, occurred in the northern rivers -district of New South Wales have not been able to obtain any barbed wire or fencing wire, will the Prime Minister have an inventory made of the quantity and location of wire _ that is available in Commonwealth and State departments, and publish it, so” that these persons may know whether or not there is any possibility of their being able to obtain supplies in the immediate, future?
– I have not seen the statement to which the right honorable gentleman has referred.’ I shall, make inquiries, with a view to determining whether it is possible to supply the information, for which he has asked.
– As Chairman, I present the eighth progress report of the War Expenditure Committee.
Army Detention Camps
– Oan the Minister for the Army give any indication to the dependents of men who are in detention camps for military offences, a3 to when they may be released ?
– As there are about 1,000 army personnel in detention camps, I cannot give details of the periods for which the detention is to last or when it is likely that all of the men will be released. I shall obtain the information, and make it available to the honorable gentleman.
– Several weeks ago I asked the Minister for the Army whether he had received a report from the committee that was set up to investigate army detention camps and courts-martial. If he has not yet received it, will he endeavour to have its delivery expedited in order that it may be presented to Parliament before we adjourn this week?
– I understand that the committee is completing its report. When I receive it I hope to he able to recommend that some action be taken in the matter.
– As the meat producers of Victoria have honoured the bargain that they made, by sending normal supplies of meat to the Newmarket saleyards, does the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture propose, in his turn, to honour immediately his promise to lift the restrictions on sales?
– Action was taken today to honour that promise. There has never been any reason to doubt that it would be honoured. A legal formality has to be complied with. Notice of the lifting of the restrictions will be published in the Commonwealth Gazette, and they will be lifted not later than Thursday, that being the earliest date on which such action can be taken legally.
– by leave - On Thursday last, the honorable member forWide Bay (Mr. Corser), quoting from a Melbourne Herald report, asked me to ascertain whether unrepresentative lists of State attractions had been circulated at the “ Meet Australia “ exhibition, which opened in London on Tuesday, the 2nd April. I have now received a report from Mr. Thomas Dunbabin, Director of the Australian News and Information Bureau in London, which indicates that, once again, the Melbourne Herald has gone out of its way to ascribe to my department blame which really does not belong to it. Mr. Dunbabin reports as follows: -
At the opening of the Australian exhibition, lists of State products, fauna, flora and other characteristics were not circulated among visitors, but appeared on glass panels below each State coat-of-arms. Snakes, penguins, and wombats figured on the panels, which were designed early this year by a high British Ministry of Information official. I noticed this and decided to have them altered. Mr. Pike, Agent-General for Queensland, told me he disliked the inclusion of snakes on the Queensland panel and we substituted copper, Queensland’s other main products having already been included. The British Ministry of Information readily agreed to these alterations and the job was completed on Thursday morning, April 4. Apart from this and one or two other very minor blemishes which we have also had corrected, the exhibition gives a fine general picture of Australia and in the first two-and-a-half days attracted 10,546 visitors.
– by leave- On Wednesday, the 20th March, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked whether, in view of the fact that the publication known as the Federal Guide had not been revised since 1944, I would take action to have the book brought up to date. I have made inquiries, and find that it has been decided that an appropriate time to issue a new edition of the Federal Guide would be immediately after the general elections to be held later this year. The Prime Minister has given instructions that this shall be done.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware of proposals for the resumption by his department of about 100 acres of land in Regent’s Park, previously used by the United States Army for storage purposes? The land includes about 20 acres, part of the larger area, owned by the Hume Pipe Company. That company has plans for the extension of its operations, which would result in the employment of several hundred men . If the Army proceeds with its present proposal, the plans of the Hume Pipe Company will be hindered. As there is plenty of land available for the Army, while the Hume Pipe Company cannot find other suitable land in the area, will the Minister inspect the site with a view to ensuring that the proper interests of all the parties concerned are protected?
– I fully realize the importance of the Hume Pipe Company’s works at Regent’s Park, and I shall give sympathetic consideration to the honorable member’s request. A sub-committee of Cabinet, under the chairmanship of the Minister for the Interior, has been appointed to investigate the whole matter of accommodation for Commonwealth departments and for the services in the capital cities. It is the desire of the Government to vacate as many buildings as possible, so that they may revert to private owners or to private tenants.
During the war, many people were dispossessed of their accommodation, and the Government wishes to return it to them. On the other hand, certain valuable equipment of the fighting services must be stored, and Commonwealth departments must continue to function. The Government has prepared a building programme for the various capital cities which, when completed, will enable Commonwealth departments to vacate many buildings which they now occupy.
– But employment is the paramount consideration.
– I recognize that.
-Will the Minister hold up this proposed resumption until the matter has been inquired into?
Mr.FORDE. - I wish to confer with the Minister for the Interior on the subject of the Regent’s Park resumption. Last week, a conference was held between representatives of the Department of the Interior, the Air Force and the Army to discuss accommodation for the storing of equipment. I shall go into the matter raised by the honorable member, and furnish a reply later.
Statement at Melbourne Trades Hall.
– Has the Prime Minister seen press reports of a speech made by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) in the Melbourne Trades Hall one day last week when he said, among other things, that the power of the High Court would have to be curbed, that socialism was the aim of the Labour party and that the social services so far provided by the Government were mere palliatives? Was the Minister speaking on behalf of the Government or on his own behalf ? If on his own behalf, where doesCabinet responsibility begin and end so far as this Government is concerned?
– I did not see the press report. As I have previously stated, Ministers speak, not on behalf of the Government, but to express their own personal views. The views of the Government are expressed by its leader. That is true of all governments, no matter of what party. I made that clear before, and I repeat it now.
Mr.CONELAN. - Has the Prime Minister seen a statement by President Truman advocating the extension of the franchise to those who have reached the age of eighteen years. As there is a law in Queensland giving the vote in State elections to all those who have served in the forces, will the Prime Minister give consideration to the proposal put forward by President Truman?
– The matter raised by the honorable gentleman concerns government policy. No special consideration has been given to it, except as far as it relates to members of the armed forces who are entitled to vote at eighteen years of age. I shall arrange to have the matter examined.
Strike at Brisbane.
-Will the Minister for Commerce state the results of the action promised by him in this House some weeks ago with regard to the Brisbane meat strike? Is it a fact that the farmers are reluctantly compelled to slaughter their own pigs in order tominimize as far as possible financial loss?
– We did have an investigation, but the results were not very satisfactory. The dispute is confined to Queensland, and when a move was made on behalf of the Commonwealth, we were given to understand that it was definitely a State matter and that our intrusion was not welcome. We have kept in constant touch with the situation although we have been unable to do anything. The situation to-day seems more satisfactory than it was previously. We hope that the strike will be settled soon. I do know that the upheaval in Queensland has caused great loss, suffering and difficulty.
Manufacture into Fur Coats.
– Is the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction aware that in America fur coats are being manufactured from Australian sheepskins? As there will be a huge demand for these products, will the Minister arrange for the manufacture of fur coats in Australia from sheepskins?
– I have read reports about that matter. Indeed, I have seen within the precincts of this House samples of sheepskins treated in that manner, and it does seem to me that theyare an excellent material for imitation fur garments. I understand that patent rights over the process are held by an American firm. Until that firm appoints some firm to act for it in Australia or itself undertakes production in this country, I cannot see that the Department of Post-war Reconstruction can do anything. However, I shall have investigations made and ensure that whatever encouragement can be given to the industry shall be given if there is any intention on the part of the patentees to begin manufacture in this country.
Re-building of Darwin.
– Has the Minister for the Navy conferred with senior Naval officers to ascertain whether the Navy really requires the choice civic centre area of Darwin for the erection of workshops and administrative officers? In view of the fact that half the square could accommodate the offices, and that there is ample land available elsewhere for the workshops, will the Minister seriously reconsider this matter and give an assurance that the Navy will not require that civic centre as at present designed? Will he also inform the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) and the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lazzarini) that it is intended to let the McInnes-Symonds-Miller plan stand substantially as it is?
– The honorable member will a ppreciate that Darwin must always play an important part in Commonwealth defence plans. Security must at all times take precedence over any other consideration. The workshops required for the Navy must be adjacent to the wharfs. The needs of the naval services must be met in the most convenient manner. Naval buildings must be erected on sites that will make for the most efficient service possible. However, I shall certainly have a further investigation made to ascertain whether anything can be done to give effect to the suggestion of the honorable member.
– Has the Minister for the Interior yet had time to consider the Westhoven report covering the occupation by government departments of business premises in the city of Sydney? If the Minister has considered the report, will he say what steps have been taken to implement the recommendations contained therein?
– I have given consideration to Mr. Westhoven’s report. Ifind that since his appointment to make the investigation the position has eased in the various capital cities. Honorable members should not imagine that with the end of the war and the removal of the fear of invasion obligations to the men responsible for victory cease. There are several Commonwealth departments that must continue to carry out demobilization and re-establishment of the armed forces. Those activities require accommodation. The Commonwealth Government is most anxious to bring about whatever relief is possible, but it appears that no more progress can be made than has been made in the direction of vacating premises for civil use, with the exception of a few transfers that are how being made.
– I ask the Minister for Air whether it is true, as reported in the press, that no member of the Royal Australian Air Force has been nominated to attend the Radio Training School at Debden, near Saffron Walden, in the United Kingdom? If that is so, and as we have no equivalent school here, I ask the Minister to rectify this omission, in view of the importance of ensuring that air force specialists shall be up to date in radar and radio work generally.
– I do not admit that the Royal Australian Air Force is not up to date. It is as advanced as any other air force. So far as I know no one has been nominated to attend the school. I have not seen the press report, but I shall have an investigation made with a view to supplying the honorable . gentleman with a more detailed answer.
– Has the Prime Minister any statement to make to the House on the progress” of negotiations regarding the Netherlands East Indies ships in -Australian ports? Have the Dutch authorities offered those ships to the Commonwealth for the purpose of bringing the brides of Australian servicemen to this country ? If so, will the offer be accepted ? .
– Last week, the honorable member for Flinders asked me a series of questions relating to Netherlands East Indies ships in Australian ports. As I stated then, ian explanation of -what had happened to that date had been prepared but as further negotiations in which the British authorities were “ concerned were proceeding, I informed him that I desired to complete the statement before I supplied the information. To date, those negotiations have not been successful. If they are not completed, I shall give to the honorable member for Flinders a reply bringing the position up to date. I shall ascertain whether the Dutch authorities have offered the ships to the Commonwealth Government.
– A few days ago, the Government announced a new shipbuilding programme. “Will the Minister for Munitions inform me who will decide where the vessels shall be constructed? Will consideration be given to the claims, of the various States which are able to undertake. the building of ships?
– The Shipbuilding Board is the properly constituted authority to allocate the construction of ships in Australia. The board’s recommendations are submitted to me, as Minister for Munitions, and require my own personal approval.
– Has the Treasurer yet decided to meet the desires of ex-servicemen that gifts in cash, property, or business, not exceeding £2,000 to their funds shall be exempt from gift duty?
– I shall examine the question, and supply an answer.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications ) Act 1935-1945.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Mr. CHIFLEY (Macquarie - Prime
Minister and Treasurer) [4.0]. - by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Numerous requests have been made for relief from sales tax in respect of a wide range of goods. A review of these requests has been made, and within the limits imposed by the financial commit-‘ ments of the Government, it is now proposed to grant certain further concessions relating to those goods in respect of which the most meritorious claims have been advanced. The relief now proposed will involve an annual loss of revenue amounting to £1,400,000. It will be recalled that in September, 1945, relief to the amount of £2,800,000 per annum was granted, so that the sales tax concessions allowed during the current financial year will involve a total revenue loss of £4,200,000 per annum.
A concise statement of the goods covered -by the present proposals has been circulated for the information of honorable members. It will be seen that certain goods are being removed from the Third Schedule to the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act, thus reducing the rate of tax thereon from the maximum of 25 per cent, to’ the genera] rate of 12½ per cent., with one exception. Among the goods affected are sheepskin garments, which will become subject to tax at the special rate of 7½ per cent, applicable to clothing generally. The goods affected by the proposed reduction of rate are goods which are not luxuries, and it is felt that the continued application of the maximum rate of 25 per cent, in respect of these goods would be undesirable.
Exemption from tax is being restored in respect of certain goods which were exempt from tax in the pre-war period. These goods are chiefly foodstuffs, such as canned meats, canned vegetables and similar goods. A limited range of new exemptions is proposed, affecting, in the main, some items of building materials, certain goods for use in primary production and goods for the use of non-profit making schools, school committees, and infant welfare centres. There .are also certain drafting amendments of the existing provisions for exemption of aids to manufacture. The most important of these is to extend that exemption so as to cover machinery and equipment leased ‘by & manufacturer for use in manufacturing operations. The exemption lias hitherto been limited by its terms to machinery, &c, purchased, imported or manufactured by a manufacturer for his own use. It is proposed that the amendment extending the exemption to leased goods shall be deemed to have commenced on the 13th September, 1945, that is, the date of commencement of the exemption of manufacturers’ machinery. A slight consequential amendment of the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 9> 1930-1936 is also required in this connexion, and a separate bill will be introduced for that purpose. Subject to a. few exceptions which are indicated in the statement which I have circulated, the amendments will be operative on and from to-morrow, the 10th April, 1946. The bill is limited to the allowance of concessions and will, therefore, no doubt, meet with general approval.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for mi act to amend the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 9) 1930-1936.
Bill presented, and’ read a first time.
, - by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
As explained in connexion with the bill to amend the ‘Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act, provision is made in that bill for an extension of the exemption of manufacturers’ machinery and equipment so as to cover machinery, &c, which is leased by manufacturers in addition to that which is purchased or imported by them. This necessitates a slight consequential amendment of the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 9) 1930- 1936, which deals with the imposition of sales tax on leased goods. It will be provided in the regulations that manufacturers who are entitled to freedom from tax in respect of their plant shall quote their certificates of registration when leasing such plant from other persons, just as they already do when purchasing or importing similar plant.
It is necessary to make a consequential amendment of the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 9) to ensure that there will be no liability for- tax under that Act when the lessee quotes his certificate in respect of the leasing of the goods. This will conform to the provisions in other Sales Tax Assessment Acts which authorize freedom from tax upon the sale or importation of goods in respect of which the purchaser or importer quotes his certificate. The bill is for this purpose only, and is designed only to effectuate the exemption of machinery, &c, leased by manufacturers. It is proposed that the bill shall be deemed to have commenced on the 13th September, 1945, that is, the date of commencement of the exemption of aids to manufacture in the form of plant and machinery.
Debate (on motion of Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 5th April (vide page 1128), on motion by Dr. Evatt -
That the bill be now read a .second time.
. -When I asked leave, last Friday, to continue my remarks I had dealt only with the Constitution alteration measures which relate to the orderly. marketing of primary products and social services. I now intend to discuss the measure dealing with employment in industry. I” thrashed this subject out thoroughly in this House in 1936. when I vigorously opposed the attempt then being made by the Labour, party to foist nationwide uniformity on the community. I said then that I regarded that as a crazy idea, but I also stated that I was favorable to local or regional uniformity. The Labour party at that time, under the leadership of Mr. Curtin, was sponsoring a policy of nationwide uniformity which was to -be enforced by a central authority. My view was then and is now that, whereas such nationwide uniformity is impracticable, regional uniformity is highly desirable. I stated that I had been successful in an effort to secure a measure of such regional uniformity at Darwin. I pointed out that carpenters working on one side of a road in . “Works Department workshops were receiving 6s. 6d. a ‘week less than carpenters working on the other side of the road in railway workshops an anomaly which naturally caused dissension. When I made representations on’ the subject to the Government it was realized that the situation was ridiculous, and steps were taken to have the pay of the carpenters of the Works Department increased to the rate that was being paid to those of the Railways Department. That is the kind of thing I have in mind when I speak of regional uniformity. On the 16th September, 1936, I asked the then Prime Minister, Mr. Lyons, the following question : -
I ask the Prime Minister whether when the proposed Constitution alterations are submitted to the people for their approval, he will give the electors an opportunity to say whether they wish to abolish State parliaments, and . have instituted in their stead new administrative regions, based on voluntary effort, so that each such district will have given to it greater real control of its domestic policy? This would enable the Commonwealth to become a real federation, and enable this Parliament to concern itself with only national questions, and prevent its_ attention being diverted to domestic and local issues.
His reply was -
The . intention of the Government in regard to the referendum will be disclosed to the House at a very early date.
As I received no satisfaction to my first inquiry, I asked the then AttorneyGeneral, Mr. Menzies, a similar question on the 12th November, 1936 -
In view of the difficulty arising from c6ntinual State spending sprees with Commonwealth money, will the Attorney-General consider the desirability of redrawing the map of Australia on sectional lines as follows: -
The abolition of State boundaries and setting up in their stead regional areas - with a diversification of interests in keeping with a common geographic background; vested with regional authority to deal with (a) domestic policy: (b) regional industrial laws in keeping with natural endowments and local economic position ?
The reply of the right honorable gentleman was “ No “. My question states my attitude clearly, but unfortunately those views on the subject of Constitution alteration, do not correspond with the views of the Government, nor were they in harmony with the view of the Govenment’of that time. Pressure groups seem to have secured control of the present Government. At any rate the Ministry does not appear to be favorable to regional uniformity. I consider that if regional authorities were established the people would develop a sense of responsibility in respect of their own looal districts. The amendment of the Constitution which we are now considering would if it were accej)ted, tend to deaden any sense of responsibility that the people might now have in respect of either local or national affairs. For that reason I deeply regret that the Government should still be attempting to apply a policy of national uniformity or centralization. I consider that it should attempt to redraw the map of Australia on a regional basis. I discussed this subject in this House on the 12th November, 1936, when . leave was being sought to introduce the Constitution Alteration (Aviation) Bill. The then Attorney-General, Mr. Menzies, had moved -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to alter the Constitution with, respect to air navigation and aircraft.
U pon that motion, the then honorable member for Fremantle, Mr. Curtin, had moved the following amendment: -
That, after the word “aircraft”, the words “ trade and commerce, industrial matters, broadcasting and television “ be added.
Speaking to the motion and the amendment, I said -
I do not support the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), because I believe that it is a hopeless proposition. This continent is so vast that any centralization, of industrial powers in the Commonwealth Government, ns proposed in the amendment, would be unworkable. When we find to-day that it is impossible to control even a State satisfactorily from one centre, it should be patent to honorable members that the ‘Commonwealth could not effectively utilize such powers throughout the Commonwealth as a whole. In the United States of America a situation similar to that existing to-day in Australia has developed. In an article in the Review of Reviews, Arthur Pound advocates that the internal map of the United States of America should be withdrawn, and offers many observations which apply to conditions in Australia, and of which we should take notice if we are to overcome our difficulties. He postulates . that the States in the United States of An’ierica are so weak that they cannot carry on as they exist to-day, and he urges that the country should be regionalized and sectionalized.. Many or his views are applicable to Australia’s position in this respect. He says -
Where can a balance be struck between centralization and decentralization, between the unmanageable vastness of America and the feebleness of Statehood?
Government already has given the lead toward the correct answer; realignment of the nation along sectional lines. The Federal Reserve Act divides the nation into twelve districts, each under its own board, which adapts policy to sectional needs, in ‘acknowledgment of the cold truth that finance cannot be fairly administered from a central point. The army maintains nine corps areas.
Some of the strongest Labour unions operate on a district plan, notably the United Mine Workers. Likewise the alumni association of two great universities, Michigan and Stanford, are districted territorially.
Similarly, I contend we must realign our continent sectiohally. It would be futile for me to suggest that State governments be done away with, much as I believe it, because the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) would immediately reply that they have sovereign powers. In this matter I. think that the Opposition should come to the Government’s rescue, and help it to pass this legislation immediately, without reservations. It should- do “ first things first”. It should help the primary producers as the Government seeks to do under the proposal which is to be submitted to the people in conjunction with this fresh proposal relating to the power to control aviation. It is useless for us in this country to concentrate powers which should be sectionalizcd. The concentration of powers in the States is too great already; it is foolish to accentuate it in a Commonwealth sphere. In this respect we might well copy developments in the United States of America, which is in similar trouble. Arthur Pound’s article coutinues -
The primary federal responsibilities are national defence, a postal systemcoinage of money and control of- a monetary unit, preservation of free trading and travel rights throughout the union, and the adjudication of disputes between Sta tes’ and the citizeus of different States.
Practically everything else - commerce, agriculture, labour, finance, employment, relief, redistribution of wealth,, all social legislation of every sort - might well be left to the several districts for solution.
Those remarks are applicable to this legislation. The interests of the people should be aroused regionally, and they should be compelled to play their part. That, as I view the ma tter, is th6 new order. It is nonsensical to have extreme centralization of power, the effect of which would be to place the Parliament at the mercy of the electors, making its members subject to blackmail, and inducing those who’ are sufficiently craven . to “ cadge “ votes. I strongly stress my conviction that that is the direction in which the Parliament is drifting to-day. Arthur Pound went on to say -
Variety of social experience means progress. Uniformity over so vast a geographic expanse means stagnation.
I recall those wise words because I believe that they apply just as forcefully to-day as they did when they were uttered. I appeal to, honorable members not to imagine that these proposals will provide a panacea for all ills. They remind me more of a juggler’s box of tricks, which are accompanied by the use of the magic word, “ abracadabra “. I believe that I express what is in the minds of exservicemen, who have a complete mental picture of what is occurring. These proposals will not appeal to any of them. They are more strongly inclined to become, individualists to-day than they were five years ago. I do not believe that there will be any appeal to those who are outside the boundaries of Sydney, Melbourne, and other capital cities. The Government is not exhibiting an Australian outlook, and I fear that it will be sternly rebuked by the people at the referendum. If appears to think that the people are waiting to have a funny story told to them about a “ gimme “ club - in other words, the Commonwealth Government. I refuse to belong to a “ gimme “ club. I would rather go to my electors, as I can at any time, and say to them, “Do not look to the Government for everything. Do something for yourselves. Become interested in a regional set-up, and insist that States shall be eventually abolished, but definitely not before the Commonwealth Parliament has delegated almost plenary powers to regional authorities “. I am pleased to pay a compliment to” the Premier of New South Wales, whom I have not yet had the honour of meeting. He has been to America, a:nd has profited by the experience that he gained in that country. I often wonder what profit has been derived by the members of the Commonwealth Government who have been abroad. Mr. McKell visited the remarkable corporation sponsored, from Washington, but given the authority to work out its own destiny - the Tennessee Valley Authority. Already, he has subdivided New South Wales into sixteen regions. I doubt very much whether honorable members know where that regional organization is operating. The staff is located in the Premier’s office in Macquarie-street. I advise all honorable members to inspect the maps which those men are preparing. All are technical men, mostly surveyors and other planners who have made a. complete study of the matter. The maps show the sixteen regions into which New South Wales was divided after. Mr. McKell had learned what a wonderful job regional committees were doing in the United States of America ; they are : - Bi ohmondTweed, Clarence, Oxley, Newcastle, Illawarra, Monaro-South, Coast, New England, Upper Hunter, Mitchell, Southern Tablelands, Namoi, Macquarie, Lachlan, Murrumbidgee, Upper Murray, and Central Murray.
The local people are intensely intrigued at having been asked to gather and collate all the available information in relation to their own districts, and to mould it into a local policy that can be placed- before’ the central government. I fear, however, that Mr. McKell is- unwilling to pursue the matter to its logical conclusion. He could, and he should, advocate that eventually those regions should replace the State, after definite plenary powers had’ been delegated to them by the Commonwealth Parliament. He has gone so far that he must now go farther. It is not enough to have a survey made of those regions, and to get the people interested. Already that has been done. They are flattered at having had their services enlisted by the Government, and must now be given the statutory authority to express themselves practically. I hope to meet Mr. McKell next week. I shall then urge him to go farther, and not to leave the matter in a. state from which it cannot be brought to fruition. If regionalism comes in, uniformity throughout Australia under a central government must go out. We must decide between the one and the other. We should strive for regionalism, and discard uniformity. The only uniformity with which I have any sympathy is that of a regional authority.
I have already stated my views in regard to the proposals relating to employment and social services. Instead of telling the people that they are to be given this and that, we should increase the basie wage. We have only to go to our electorates to learn that the prices charged for commodities are either those that rule on the black market or those which the average workman on the basic wage cannot pay. Why not have a basic wage that would be comparable with the cost of living? Then, the people would be able to walk down the street with their shoulders squared, proud of the fact that they were individualists, instead of expecting the Commonwealth Government to be a “ gimme “ club. At the inception of federation, Henry Parkes gave expression to the famous phrase, “ A people for a continent, and a continent for a people”. He did not mean that we were to he a race of cadgers. What he had in mind was that when the Creator made an Australian he threw away the mould, expecting all those who followed to be individualists and family men who would own their own homes.
I am considerably interested in the benefits which it is proposed to provide for university students. I believe that under the Australian system of education any one with the necessary will and brains will achieve his ambition, on however high a plane it might be. I am in favour of a free university, such as there is in Perth, and, I believe, in Queensland. But the trouble is that young men and women are induced to become educated up to the university standard only to find, to their sorrow, that they cannot progress any further because they lack the necessary ability. Still, I hold the view that every individual should be educated to the stage at which he will have an awareness of the things that are around him. He should have a knowledge of geology, so that when he walks over a piece of ground he will have some conception of what lies underneath. He should also make a study of physics and chemistry as well as of lierature, which will enable him to appreciate the beauty that is in nature. He should read John Ruskin in order to understand the meaning of Sesame and Lilies. Nevertheless, at the matriculation stage the culling process should begin. The student should then depend on himself (more or less. Unless we adopt that course, we shall not be fair to the students. How many persons undertake university courses, only to discover that they have not the necessary talent to continue them to the end? It is disappointing to find such persons expecting to obtain white collar jobs, when they ought to have commenced to learn a trade at the age of fifteen years and later have taken their places in the community, not as disgruntled citizens, as many of them are to-day, subject to all the “ isms “ from foreign countries, but rather as excellent tradesmen., I have a great admiration for the crafts. I consider that only those persons should untertake university courses who have the ability to pursue their studies to the end. Nevertheless, I am in favour of free education. Many of our citizens could never have reached the heights to which they have attained had they not won a. bursary or had free education right to the university. Many honorable members stress the very hard times which they had in their youth in attempting to obtain an advanced education. Were I to relate to the House the struggle that I had to matriculate and to pass the examinations for entrance to a highly technical profession, many honorable members would be sceptical. I have no desire to prevent the sons of workers from going to the university, as the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) inferred. I -did not wear a boot until I was ten years of age, nor had I a sight of the sea until I was fourteen years of age. I was the youngest of eight children, and was bred in the far west of Queensland. I had to leave school, chop down trees, and work in a gravel pit on railway construction, in order to earn enough money to go to the city to study and matriculate. I mention these facts in refutation of the suggestion that I do not desire the sons of workers to obtain an advanced education. I have been right through the mill. But if we are to allow students to continue their studies, and not cull before it is too late, we shall have a community of democratic idealists and misguided intellectuals’ who will be a menace to the country. The true unionist, the craftman, is “the salt of the earth”, but democratic idealists are poisoning the minds of the people to-day. When they find that they cannot go on with a university course they turn to a pseudo science, such as economics. They take up some “ ology “ which serves to conceal the fact that they are not fit to qualify for one of the learned professions. We have a whole flock of them in Australia, at the present time, and they have turned into soap-box orators in Hyde Park and on the Yarra Bank. The trouble with this country is that so many people seem to have gone “ cuckoo “ or “ Commo “ or something.
– They may have gone “troppo”.
– Perhaps I had better noi dwell on that possibility, or I might be tempted to say unpleasant things about the Government, which actually introduced legislation to prevent any one going “ troppo “ in any area above the equator. I do not know what the Americans must have thought of us. I do not believe that the people will accept these proposals. The real feeling of the people in this matter will be reflected in - the votes of the soldiers when they are discharged. Those who. in the past have supported a Labour member may vote for him again for personal reasons, but I shall tell the men to vote, as soldiers, against the referendum proposals, and I am sure that they will do so.
-The honorable member’s time kas expired.
– I understand that a suggestion has been made that a wailing wall should be erected in this chamber for honorable members to weep against on Grievance Day. I certainly think that the time has arrived when there should be erected in this chamber a rail for- the benefit of rail-sitters. During the last week or so, we have been treated to the spectacle of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), and all his followers of the Liberal party, sitting on the rail instead of taking sides one way or the other regarding the Government’s referendum “proposals. The honorable members of the Australian Country party also sat on the rail until their leader ‘(Mr. Fadden) returned, and launched an attack on all three of the proposals.. From time to time, the Opposition has criticized’ the Labour Government for being subject to caucus control. At least, we do not believe in a one-man band. It is quite obvious that the’- Australian Country party had not decided its attitude to the referendum proposal until its leader returned and stated a case for them.
The Leader of the Opposition spoke about an elected convention to decide upon proposals for the alteration of the Constitution, but he gave no indication of the basis upon which such a convention should be elected. He did not say whether the election should be conducted on party political lines, or whether representation should be according to industry, or according to some other method. All. he said was the Constitution should be referred to an elected convention for overhaul. We have an elected Parliament now, and not long ago a convention sat in Canberra, consisting of representatives of all parties in this Parliament, and in the State Parliaments. This convention reached an agreement regarding proposed alterations to the Constitution, and the State representatives agreed to go back to their Parliaments’ and to support legislation to refer certain agreed-upon powers to the Commonwealth. Well, Ave know what happened. The State Premiers introduced the legislation, but they could not persuade the reactionary upper houses of the State legislatures to accept it. Then the, Commonwealth Government put the proposals for the alteration of the- Constitution before the people in a referendum.
The Leader of the Opposition, in his speech on these three bills, did not state definitely where he stood. His talk about an elected convention was for the purpose of dodging the issue. As is well known, there are three methods of effecting alterations of the Constitution. First, the State may refer certain powers to, the Commonwealth. They were asked to do this, and they failed to do so. Secondly, since the Commonwealth Constitution is an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, that Parliament could be asked to amend it. However, the Constitution itself contains provision for effecting alterations to it. so that the Parliament of the United Kingdom would certainly tell us to use that method, and ask the people, in a referendum, to concede the powers sought.
During the war, and, more particularly, since the end of the war, it has been found that the Commonwealth Parliament lacks certain powers necessary to legislate on behalf of the people. Therefore, the Government is seeking to obtain these powers, and it proposes to submit certain questions to the people- on the date of the general election. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) said that election day had been chosen because the Government wished to divert public attention from the failures 6f the Govern- ment. .Nothing could be further from the truth. I understand that the honorable member for Fawkner is a lawyer, and he must know, therefore, why the Government is submitting to the people the proposal in regard to social services. He said that the idea was to place the - Opposition on the defensive. I maintain that the Government has no need to do anything of the kind. I have been in this Parliament for nearly ten years, and never in all that time have T seen an Opposition so devoid of fighting spirit as is the present one. The Leader of the Opposition has said, “We will fight the Government, every week, every day and every hour “, even if he did not borrow the famous phrase about fighting on the beaches, in the streets, and on the hills, but if the performance of tha Opposition during this session is any indication of its fighting ability,- there can be no doubt of the result of the election. The Government will be returned with an increased majority. The Opposition is squealing its objection to the Government’s proposals for the alteration of the Constitution because it realizes only too well that the Labour party will be in office to exercise the powers now being sought. The real objection is not to anything in the proposals themselves, but to the fact that the powers will be exercised by the present Government.
Let us see where members of the Opposition stand regarding the proposals themselves. The first bill proposes that powers shall be obtained to legislate in respect of maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment and sickness benefit, medical and dental benefits, and family allowances. Has the honorable member foi- Fawkner not heard of an application that was made to the High Court by the Attorney-General of the Government of Victoria to test the validity of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act? The benefits under that provision were being financed through the appropriation power of the Commonwealth Parliament, but the High Court ruled that this power was being improperly used for this purpose. Thus, the whole social service set-up of the Commonwealth was immediately placed in jeopardy. If the power sought be not granted, what do honorable members opposite think will become of the social services enumerated in the bill? They have seized eagerly on the medical and dental services in an endeavour to frighten the people into destroying the whole fabric of Commonwealth social services, including many which the people have enjoyed for a long time. TheLeader of the Australian Country party said that, if this particular power were granted, it. would lead to the nationalization of medical services, and he urged that as a reason why the people should deny the power to the. Commonwealth. I invite the Opposition to go out into the highways and by-ways, and tell the people just where they stand on such, issues. The right honorable gentleman fiercely denounced the nationalization of health services. He comes from the same State as I do, Queensland, which is the best State in the Commonwealth. Thanks to a Labour government which has been in office there for the last 30 years, with a brief interruption of three years, there is in existence there a State health service which is as complete as the limited resources of a State government can make it. The Leader of the Australian Country party said that, under nationalization, medical standards must decline, but we have as good doctors in Queensland as are to be found in any other part of the Commonwealth. Nationalization of health services in Queensland has not meant the lowering of medical or hospital standards. It has had the .opposite effect. There is no dependence on charity for the maintenance of hospitals. Those are facts that cannot be denied. The squeal against nationalization of health services is made, not. on behalf of the ordinary general practitioner, but on behalf of the specialists who have been robbing the people for a long time. Those in the British Medical Association who are fighting bitterly against the intradution of nationalized health services are the specialists. They can see that their days are numbered as earners of some of the largest incomes in the Commonwealth. They can see that their incomes will be substantially reduced. The people will get a far better service from a nationalized health service than they get under the present set-up. That is borne out by what has happened iti Queensland under the administration of the State Labour Government.
The honorable member for Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) voiced certain views about the provision “of benefits to Students. An act wa-s placed on the Statute-book for the provision of certain amounts of money to assist deserving students through university courses. I know two lads in my electorate who are doctors to-da.y as the result of their having been fortunate enough to receive that assistance. One of them would never have been a doctor but for that help, because his father could not have afforded to keep him at the university.. That legislation is an untold benefit to the very lads to whom the honorable member referred, the brilliant students who come from poor, families, but it has been placed in jeopardy because of the High Court’s decision in the Pharmaceutical Benefits case. So it behoves every honorable member who believes in a fair deal for the workers to support this proposal. Platitudes have been voiced in this House and on the hustings about our need for population. “ Populate or perish ! “ is the cry. This Government proposes, amongst other things, to assist men with large families but limited means to be. adequately housed in decent surroundings. In other words, it proposes to subsidize rents. In time of war the paramount duty of the Government is to ensure the defence of the country, but in time of peace its paramount duty is to safeguard the health and welfare of the people. That is bound up in the first of the three bills that the Government proposes to submit to the people at the referendum. I have no doubt that the people will wholeheartedly give to the Government the powers that it seeks to provide for their social welfare.
The second bill proposes that the Common wealth Parliament shall be empowered to legislate for the organized marketing of primary products, unrestricted by section 92 of the Constitution. The Leader of the Opposition ‘ and his fellow worker, tho honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), rose in their places demanding to know what a primary product is and complaining that the bill does not define the term. That is true, but the Leader of the Opposition; who is a King’s Counsel, knows what the law provides in regard to the definition of a term undefined in legislation. In other words, every one knows what a primary product is. and the term “ primary product “ has the meaning given to it by common usage. So why quibble about the meaning of a term that everybody understands? I remember clearly that in 1936 a bill was passed through this Parliament for submission to the people at a referendum held in February, 1937, on the subject of organized marketing. Certainly the proposal was not restricted to the organized
Mr. Riordan . marketing of primary products, but the point is that a fairly similar proposal is being opposed to-day by the very interests that sought to have that referendum carried. The -Leader of the Australian Country party howled, “ Conscription of the primary producers ! “. I intend to tackle him on that, too. In 1937, the United Australia party and the Australian Country party, with the support of Queensland Labour members, asked the people to give to this Parliament power to legislate for organized marketing. The people turned down the proposal. The referendum was inspired by the Privy Council decision in 1936 in the famous James case, relating to dried fruits. Previously there had been doubt amongst legal luminaries as to how far the Commonwealth Government was bound by section 92 of the Constitution. James took his case to the Privy Council, which decided that the Commonwealth was bound by the section, which provides that trade, commerce and intercourse among the States shall be absolutely free. If this Government is to continue in peace-time organized marketing of primary products, it must not be restricted by section 92. Organized marketing has been possible since the outbreak of war by the exercise of the defence power contained in the Constitution, which enables this Parliament in time of war to do things which it could not do in peacetime. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) reminded us that, as the result of organized marketing during the war the indebtedness of primary producers to bankers and other money lenders has been reduced by more than £60,000,000. Already the Shylocks, the speculators and racketeers who farm the farmers, are moving to return i.o the conditions that existed before the war. Recently in Sydney a conference was held between the tobaccogrowers and the tobacco manufacturers. The growers stood pat in demanding an average price for their product that would enable .them to carry on their industry. The manufacturers refused to give them that price, and the conference broke down. The tobacco-growers were not prepared to allow themselves to be exploited, and the manufacturers were not prepared to give them an average price that would make it possible for them at least to pay their way. If this proposal is not accepted by the people at the referendum, once again the tobacco-growers will be at the mercy of the manufacturers, because they will be forced by their economic circumstances to sell their product at below a fair price, whereas, with a nation-wide marketing scheme controlled by the primary producers themselves, they .would be able to protect themselves against exploitation. So, in. the interests of the primary producers and of the national economy this proposal should be carried. Legislation has been passed by this Parliament for the improvement of the standard of living of the natives in New Guinea. No longer will they be exploited. A new era has dawned for them. They are not to return to their pre-war conditions. Those who oppose this measure, though, want the farmers to revert to the conditions of 1939. They want people engaged in some primary industries to go back to sub-peasant standards. As the Constitution stands, this Parliament normally can deal with only interstate and oversea trade. It has enjoyed greater powers during the war as the result of the operation of the defence power. Now the fighting is finished, and the National Security Act will cease to operate at the end of the year. Therefore, unless this proposal is carried, the pre-war conditions will prevail again. So it is essential that this Parliament be given this power to enable it to ensure that the primary producers shall enjoy standards equal at least to those that they have enjoyed since the outbreak of war. If it is sound for the Commonwealth Government to have the powers it has exercised for the benefit of the farmers during the war, it is equally sound that in peace-time it shall have full power to enable it to meet national problems. In Queensland, the sugar industry provides a shining example of organized primary industry. The sugarcanegrower knows- how much he will get, the miller knows how much he will get, the refiner knows how much he will get, the consumer knows how much he will have to pay, and the workers have their wages ‘fixed ;by the Arbitration Court. Everything is fixed. The sugar industry has been howled down and screamed at, because the speculators fear an exten-sion of the principles upon which .it succeeds to other forms of primary production. That is their main objection. .They cloud the issue with references to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited. That is a lot of “ hooey “. The objections to the sugar industry are raised by those who have a vested interest in seeing that the organization of the sugar industry is not applied to any other form of primary production. Before the sugar industry was organized, it was in a sad and sorry plight, but thanks to the organization which was built up by two Labour governments, one in the Commonwealth sphere, and the other in the State sphere, the industry has been placed on the soundest possible economic foundation. Under present conditions, I should like to own a. sugar farm. The Leader of the Australian Country party, who has been associated wilh the sugar industry for many years, waved his arms and said, “ This proposal will mean the conscription of primary producers “. Honorable members opposite utter similar howls and screams about- the principle of preference to unionists. But a sugar-farmer is compelled to join either the Queensland Cane Growers Council, or the Australian Sugar Producers Association.
– A sugar-farmer is not compelled to join the Australian Sugar Producers Association.
– He has the option of joining one or the other. That is the first aspect of conscription. The second is this : If a candidate for Kennedy advocated the removal of limitations imposed upon the number of acres that a man may farm, or interference with the industry in any way, these “ conscripted primary producers “ would oppose him strongly, and he would probably lose his deposit. At a matter of fact, State governments possess power to organize marketing within their respective boundaries. Queensland has done it successfully. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann), who is chairman of the Peanut Board, explained what should be done regarding the establishment of these organizations. The system has proved very successful in Queensland, but certain limitations are imposed upon a State government. Section 92- prevents them from organizing primary producers as effectively as they desire. Notable, legal cases, including the cattle cases, have arisen because a State government has endeavoured to assist its primary producers oh a State-wide basis. Restrictions which one State may desire to impose upon the entry of goods from another State would conflict with section
The Constitution Alteration (Industrial Employment) Bill seeks power over - terms and conditions of employment in industry, but not so as to authorize any form of industrial conscription.
This power’ is somewhat similar to, but not so wide as, the power which the Commonwealth Government sought in 1944. However, the proposal, if adopted, will enable the Government to deal on a national basis with the industrial and economic problems which lie ahead. Although this Parliament lacks those powers, the States have them. At, the Constitution convention in 1942, the Premiers and Leaders of the Opposition, of the various States agreed to cede these and other powers to the Commonwealth, but unfortunately, they were not able to persuade the old men who sit in the Legislative Councils of some of the States. The people themselves -were stampeded by the cry of industrial conscription. I know, because I was visiting Civil Constructional Corp camps at that time.
– Iused that argument.
– Opponents of the referendum proposals told the Civil Constructional Corps workers, who had been brought from the south to northern Australia - “If you vote for this proposal, you will he shanghaied to Darwin as soon as you become unemployed. It means industrial conscription “. Those men, who were already mentally disturbed, because of the war situation, were further upset by the lies and stupid! utterancesduring the referendum campaign. Now, those conditions have disappeared. The mere fact that- industrial conscription cannot be imposed- will dispel that fear which existed in 1944. Instead of thinking in terms of States or Australia as a whole, some people realize that we must commence to think internationally, especially when they consider what has happened-‘ at recent world conferences, how closely we are linked with other partsof the world, and how aviation has conquered vast distances. So there is an awakening, a realization that if theNational Parliament is to function in a. national way, and, in particular deal with the problems of employment, it must have greater powers. At present the States have them. They can deal with the problem up to a point, but the position is hot satisfactory. One State cannot introduce a 40-hour . week, or increase itsbasic wage substantially beyond’ the basicwage of an adjoining State. If it did so,, its people would become unemployed, because the adjoining State, having a lowerbasic wage and a longer working week, would be able to flood the shops of itsneighbours with cheap goods. Throughout the world there is a trend to raise living standards. Workers of every country,, including’ Great Britain, are demanding, a better way of life. Tremendous indusi.rial disturbances have occurred in the-‘ United States of America in an endeavour to improve the standard of living and. working conditions. We in Australia once took pride in the fact that in theindustrial sphere, our conditions were, an example to other nations, but to-day, weare lagging, because we leave the problem . to be dealt with by the States, with- their limited powers. Therefore, this Parliament asks the people to grant to it certain ‘ powers so that it may raise the standard’ of living of its own workers, in conformity with its attitude and policy and what it has already done for the natives in Australian territories.
Years ago, the Arbitration Court of Queensland introduced a. 40-hour- week. That decision was applied to the Cairns brewery, for example,, because it was regarded as an industry of above average prosperity. Tiecourt also- applied the -40-hour week at Mount Morgan,, because at that time the gold-mining company there was making; tremendous- profits. In’ other words..: by higher’ wages and improved working conditions, the court gave a greater share of the prosperity of industry to the people who were engaged in it. Australia is experiencing an era of prosperity hitherto undreamt of. More money is ifr circulation to-day than at any other time.Is it’ any wonder that there is a demand^ not by Coinmiinists - for’ an improvement of the -standard of living and industrial’ conditions? During . this debate, on’e honorable member declared, “I shall not support this bill, because it will rein’ove from the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, which consists of experts, the’ power to determine Wages and conditions’. That power will be vested in this Parliament “. Did any one every hear asillier statement? No one suggests tlia’t the Arbitration Court sh’oiil’d1 be abolished. Apart from what We read’ in some newspapers, there is no1 suggestion that this Government, by act of Parliament, will introduce a 40-hour wepk tfncl increase the basic wage.
– There is no guarantee that the Government will not do so.
– The Government may, or it may not. A Labour government in . Queensland many years ago introduced legislation reducing the hours of labour to 44 a week. At that time, the standard working week in other States was 48 hours. By act of Parliament, the same government also increased the basic wage to £4 5s. a week, when the basic wage in most of the States was below £4 a week. Naturally, those acts caused howls and screams from opponents, but the fact that a State government, hamstrung as I have indicated, was able to do that, is all the. more reason why the Commonwealth Parliament should do as the Parliament of Queensland had the intestinal fortitude to do.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) contended that this proposed power would conflict with section 51, placitum 35 of the Constitution, which empowers the Commonwealth Parliament to legislate in respect to - conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State-
The right honorable gentleman said that one power deals expressly with an interstate dispute, and the referendum proposal will be an addition to it. My view is that the proposal will give to thisParliament authority to legislate, in the wider sense, on matters relating to conciliation and arbitration, No conflict will arise. Sir Adrian Knox, a former Chief Justice of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, in Waterside Workers Federation of Australia v Commonwealth Steamship Owners’ Association stated -
Under section- 51 (xxxv) of the Constitution the Parliament has power to make laws with respect to conciliation and . arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State. This power may be paraphrased asa power to make laws with respect to the prevention or settlement of industrial disputes, subject to two conditions, viz., that the prevention or settlement shall be effected by means of conciliation and arbitration, and that the disputes to be dealt with shall be confined to those which extend beyond the limits of one State.
This is the important part -
I t is clear that this power does not authorize the Commonwealth Parliament to regulateconditions of employment by direct legislation, e.g. to prescribe by act of Parliament theminimum rate of wage to be paid or the maximum number of hours to be worked. It is. I think, equally clear that the power in question does authorize the CommonwealthParliament to set up a tribunal with plenary and unrestricted power to prevent or settle two-State industrial disputes by conciliation and arbitration.
Therefore, this power, which the Government now seeks, will give to this Parliament the necessary authority over industrial employment. The employment and marketing powers are inter-related. If we have no markets, our people will be unemployed. In order to have full employment, we must obtain markets. I remember that in 1929-32 there were neither markets nor jobs. If the power which the Government is seeking in relation to the orderly marketing of primary products be granted to the Parliament by the people, primary producers will be assured of markets for their products and also of a reasonable standard of living. If the power be not granted, conditions may deteriorate to those which existed in 1929-32. [Extension of timegranted.’]
I support these three bills. I believethat the electors will, appreciate the opportunity, on election day, to grant theadditional powers to the Parliament, for they do not desire that .the social services that they have been enjoying should be denied them by reason of an adverse High Court judgment. Unless the Commonwealth Parliament is clothed with additional power in relation to social services the people may be deprived of advantages which they are now enjoying. If the prosperity which the primary producers have enjoyed for the last six years is to be assured to them, the Government must also be given power to provide for the orderly marketing of primary products. Primary producers should not be left to the mercy of speculators and exploiters ; otherwise the living standards which they have recently enjoyed will, in times of stress, be lost to them. The power which the Government is seeking in regard to employment in industry is necessary also to ensure that the primary producers shall have available to them the best market, which is the home market, and that the workers shall have assured . to them- reasonable working conditions and rates of pay. For the reasons that I have given I support these three bills wholeheartedly. It is also essential that the Commonwealth Parliament shall be clothed with the power that is being sought, if in the days immediately ahead of its we are to keep our place in the international race for markets, and to ensure the steady improvement of wages and working conditions for the people.
– Unlike most bills that come before this Parliament, the mere passage of the measures will not ensure that the power that is being sought will be available to the Parliament, for these measures ‘ are designed merely to authorize the submission of certain questions to the people by referendum. Something can be said for the contention that we should not fear to approach the people at any time for needed additional constitutional power. During the life of this federation many proposals have been submitted to the people but very few of them have been approved. It became apparent during the war that the powers of the Parliament were in need of readjustment, but it also became apparent, in that period, that it was dangerous in some particulars to entrust to the control of a central government the destinies of distant States. Whilst I agree, therefore, that something can be said for an increase of the power of the Commonwealth Parliament in certain directions, I am conscious, like many other persons in the community, that in the last few years a serious degree of lawlessness has become evident in some sections of the community . The people concerned have made it clear that they intend to use every means in their power to bring about alterations in our economic structure,’ by revolutionary method, if necessary. In my opinion, the bill designed to give the Parliament additional power over employment in industry has been introduced because of pressure upon the Government by those extreme sections. The bills which deal with social services and the orderly marketing of primary products’ have been introduced in the hope that they will help to secure the passage of the third bill. It is significant that this lawless section of the community advocates the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange, which is also a plank in the platform of the Labour party. In considering bills of this description, it is proper that we should bear in mind that the present Government, or any Government, will not always be on the treasury bench, but that makes it necessary to consider these proposals in the most careful manner. We should not take the risk of inflicting damage on the primary producers of Australia in the hope that by so doing we may influence the people to show their lack of confidence in the Government which introduced these bills. We must be big enough to be national in our outlook.
The first of the three measures relates to social services. We recognize that even if the Commonwealth Parliament lacks the necessary power to legislate for certain social services the State parliaments have full powers to do so, and if, at some time, a High Court decision should deprive the Commonwealth Parliament of power in respect of social services, this Parliament could still vote money to assist State governments to provide such services. There is, of course, no reason to believe that the Commonwealth Parliament lacks the power to provide old age and invalid pensions.
These services are not in jeopardy and are not included in the powers sought because the Constitution entrusts us with such power. But the bill also seeks to empower the Commonwealth Parliament to provide unemployment, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services, and benefits to students. The High Court has not yet ruled that the Commonwealth lacks power’ in respect of any of these matters.
– What about its decision in the Pharmaceutical Benefits case?
– I admit that an order of the court gives good reason for believing that if the court had to give a decision in respect of pharmaceutical benefits it would be adverse to the Commonwealth. The main opposition to these proposals is due to. the fact that they ‘ represent, in the opinion of many people, an attempt by the Commonwealth Government to nationalize medical and dental services generally. That policy could be applied if this power were vested in the Commonwealth Parliament. An attempt is being made to cause the people to believe that maternity allowances, pensions and child endowment are in jeopardy, but these services are not likely to be assailed in any way. If any authority were foolish enough to approach the High Court for a decision in regard to social services, and the decision proved to be , adverse ‘ to the Commonwealth,” this Parliament could still vote money to the States to enable them to provide such amenities. As a mater of fact, the Government of New South Wales had entered this field before the Commonwealth attempted to do so. It is clear in my view, that the Commonwealth Parliament will never be challenged on the payment of maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment, sickness and hospital benefits, benefits to students, and family allowances. Why, therefore, should those matters be included in the social services bill which we are considering? If a need exists to put the position beyond doubt, those subjects should be dealt with in a separate bill, and the power in respect of medical and dental services, could be the subject of a separate measure. Why should the
Government risk its .position in relation to these matters when no suggestion of a challenge has ever been made except when it is to influence the people to grant power in relation to medical and dental services? Why take the risk of losing everything in order to gain some additional ground? It will be remembered that when the previous proposals for the alteration of the Constitu- tion were before us it was said that unless the people granted the power that was being sought it would be impossible for the Commonwealth to proceed with its land settlement schemes for exservicemen; but we all know that such schemes are going forward in all States although the additional power was not granted by the people to the Commonwealth Parliament. The lands are held by the States and we can, and do, find the money. In regard to medical and dental services, I remind honorable members that the Government of Queensland has passed legislation which ensures free treatment for children and low rates for such services for people who cannot afford to pay the usual charges of practitioners. Hospital services are also available under similar conditions. There may be ground for fear that has been expressed that the Government is seeking this additional power in respect of medical and dental services in order that it may obtain full control over all doctors and dentists, and in that way proceed with its programme for the nationalization of medical and dental services. By most of these means, every facility is given to the workers in the big industrial centres, but they have not been extended in sufficient degree to the country people, who are equally entitled .to them.
The Government proposes to ask for power to legislate to give benefits to students. We are not aware exactly of what is intended. It must be conceded that up to the present Australia has not lagged behind other countries in the assistance it has given to education, through the instrumentalities of the States, which have had complete control of the matter, and deserve credit for the results, that have been achieved. Primary education is compulsory and free, and the children of country parents have the advantage of free transport to their schools where possible. I applaud the granting of additional benefits to students. For years it has been incumbent on the Commonwealth to grant assistance to the States for the advancement of education. If it now wishes to confer benefits on students, it could do so through the medium of the States, instead of spending money on a costly referendum which will merely cause widows and others to fear that they may lose the pensions they now receive from the Commonwealth should these proposals not be agreed to by the people. To-day, in this House, a Minister said in reply to a question that the Government wa3 not proceeding with certain education of ex-servicemen because the necessary buildings were not available for the purpose. The States have all the buildings, teachers and other machinery that are needed.
– The Commonwealth is using the facilities of the States.
– Of course it is. Even if this referendum were carried, it still would have to Use them. Therefore, why not give to the States the amount which it intends to spend in benefits to students? Honorable members will agree that there is warrant for the re- _ mark I made earlier, that the proposals in relation to social services and organized marketing are being placed before the people in the hope that they will be the means of having the third proposal accepted. No one will lose anything, whether the proposal in relation to social services be accepted or rejected. Not one honorable member will contend that the payment of pensions would cease, or that any Government would be disinclined to give additional benefits to students through the medium of the States, if it were not carried. Facilities were not withheld from ex-servicemen because the last referendum proposals were not carried. The matter of free medicine has been capably dealt with by the Leader of the Australian Country party, who used information that had been obtained from authoritative sources in New Zealand. We do not want our people to live on pills -and drugs. A concession -such as free medicine does not provide the expected: benefit iri New
Zealand and it is not free when the people are taxed to provide it. In Queensland on one occasion arsenic was supplied free of cost for the destruction of prickly pear. It was used wastefully until the Government decided to make a modest charge for it.
The second proposal of the Government relates to the organized marketing of primary products. Section 92 of the Constitution provides that all trade and commerce between the States shall be absolutely free. On that account, much difficulty has been experienced in organizing marketing on an Australiawide basis. At the present time, the States can organize within their own borders. A Commonwealth organization can be established only under a voluntary agreement between the States and the Commonwealth, all of whom are required to pass legislation designed to that end. The 1937 referendum sought power in respect of organized marketing, but was rejected because it was not limited to the marketing of primary products. The present proposal specifies the organized marketing of primary products. The aim is to obtain power to organize marketing on an Australian basis. In order t’o be successful, a marketing scheme must be Australia-wide. It has been argued that if the powers sought be granted, the Government will be able to socialize rural industries. Were I confident that the Government desires to do that, I should hesitate to agree that the Parliament should have this power conferred on it. It has been apparent to me for many years that an alteration of section 92 of the Constitution is necessary in the’ interests of primary producers and the country generally. In 1939, 1930 and 1932, I submitted to this Parliament motions to that effect.
– That is too far back.
– It proves that I- am consistent. What I then believed to be necessary is now exercising the mind of the Government. This is the motion that I submitted in 1932 -
That, ill the opinion of this House it is desirable that constitutional a!~-ra.tions be provided to make possible the organization of primary producers on an Australian basis with complete sectional control of the internal and external marketing of each primary product, such control to” be exercised exclusively by. the organized producers of such commodity, which would, enable the producers of each commodity, to speak with one voice and authority in regard to any arrangement which may bo deemed by them to be necessary to conserve their interests.
In 1930, I used this language -
To-day a State has power to organize marketing within its boundaries, and the Commonwealth has power to organize export marketing. But there is no single legislative authority with power to bring into being an Australian organization, other than one under voluntary, honorable agreement between the producers, or by an agreement of all six States and. the Commonwealth.
Where I then stood I stand to-day. I stand for organized marketing of commodities’ on an Australia-wide basis, of commodities when the producers so desire, such marketing to be controlled by the producers themselves. I do not want it to be controlled by the Government. Parliament, having been given this power, should delegate it to the producers themselves. Until section 92 of the Constitution is amended, the Commonwealth will not have this power, which is more necessary now than ever. Without such an amendment, effective control can be obtained only by agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, such as exists in regard to the marketing of butter. This system may be satisfactory for exportable commodities, but for non-exportable commodities, such- as maize, it is impossible to organize any Commonwealth system of marketing, with the result that there is cut-throat competition between the States in times of crisis, such as drought, and there is no authority, either State or Commonwealth, which can prevent it. No organization established by a State to protect its own growers can be effective against competition from another State. Primary producers should have the right to organize and control markets for the disposal of their commodities, just as trade unionists have the right to organize. If the producers had that power there could be a really effective council of agriculture, . which would assist the government of the day to control products and oversea markets. It has been suggested that the power now being sought might be used by some government to put into effect a policy of socialization of all forms of production. That, however, is true ‘ of many powers now held by the Commonwealth Parliament, and, in the final analysis, the result depends upon the nature of the Parliament which the people elect. Producer-control has advantages for the nation as well as for the producers. I do not think that the producers would stand for the nationalization of their industry. The Attorney General should make it clear without delay that the control of the proposed marketing system must remain with the producers. Otherwise, it will be difficult to persuade the people to concede the powers asked for. The Government should also enumerate the commodities over which it is intended to assume control. By agreement with the producers, a list of commodities could be drawn up, including butter, cheese, wheat, meat, fruit and vegetables, and processed products derived from there and many other products. The publication of such a list would give the voters confidence. Now, as always, I stand for producer-control rather, than parliamentary control. That was what I desired on the three occasions when I submitted in this House motions providing for the establishment of a system of organized marketing. The Paterson butter scheme was the earliest attempt to organize the control of a commodity on an Australian basis, and it formed the pattern for similar schemes introduced later. During the war, no difficulties were experienced in connexion with the control of marketing, but we should remember that throughout that period the demand for goods was always greater than the supply. No difficulty was ever experienced in selling the commodities, but. in. some instances, the producers found it difficult to get from the Government some fair prices foi their commodities. On occasions, the Government fixed prices which were below the cost of production, and then paid a subsidy to the producers out of the profits which it made by selling the commodities on the open market. In this way the Government was able to provide cheap food for the people. We have all heard Government supporters ranting in the Sydney Domain about the three cardinal points of Government policy - high wages, shorter hours and cheap food, but it is necessary to ensure that the primary producer, too, shall receive a fair wage out of the price which he receives for his commodity.
The Government’s third proposal is that the control of employment and industrial conditions should be given to this Parliament, instead of being exercised by the Arbitration Court, All parties are pledged to the support of industrial arbitration, and only recently the Prime Minister himself made a statement reaffirming his adherence to the principle. I have here a statement issued by the Furnishing Trades Union in their official journal -in March, 1943, in which the following passage occurs: -
We look to every citizen of the State and of the Commonwealth to appreciate the tremendous value of the arbitration system to the community. We ask for their support to ensure that it is maintained.
Industrial arbitration has given the workers of Australia better conditions than are enjoyed by any other workers in the world. It has lifted “the weakest of the workers. It has given them a standard of living and a political system better than that which is enjoyed by any other country.
For over 40 years we have lived and prospered under the arbitration system, which is administered by a court of learned judges who are specialists in industrial matters. They have given a great part of their lives to the study of industrial problems, and one asks what good reason has been given for upsetting the present system. It is true that it is not proposed to abolish the Arbitration Court, but it is to be shorn of an important part of its authority. It is proposed that Parliament shall have the right to fix hours of work, wages and other conditions. We know who has been pressing for this, and we know, also, the danger of placing in the hands of a political party, which may happen to have a majority in this Parliament, power to fix wages and working conditions.
I hope that a convention will be called, representative of the: States and the Commonwealth, to discuss fully proposed alterations of the Constitution, and that an amicable decision will be reached for the States to concede to the Commonwealth the necessary powers. This should meet with the approval of the States, and should enable us to surmount the difficulties with which we have been for so long confronted.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
.- I cannot imagine that any representative of the people in this Federal Parliament could do other than support these three bills. Yet, in the last few days we have heard various forms of disputation in relation to referendums. Every one who looks over the history of referendums in this country must reach the conclusion that the future of the Commonwealth Parliament hinges on the success of future referendums. The fathers of the Constitution, if they were present in this chamber to-night, would be aghast at the spectacle of so many States-righters on the Opposition benches, and would he staggered at the disputation concerning what is meant by what they thought were the simplest terms; a nation united for federation is what they dreamed of and subsequently evolved to the best of their ability. But the federation was not the beautiful, robest, lusty child that they thought they, had conceived. In its infancy it. needed too many blood transfusions to keep it alive, and since then it has behaved as an unruly child. Legal talks about the Constitution will get us nowhere. In my humble way, I have been trying to analyse the human aspect of referendums, why we submit proposals to the people, and why, after the recent negative decision by the people; we are doing so again. I think the answer to that question, is that without referendums and endeavouring to improve a Constitution that is full of holes we can have no’ true federation. Since this debate began, we have had nothing but quotation and counter-quotation to prove that what some one had said in 1927 was different from what he said in 1932. That bears out the discovery made by Solomon that all men are liars, but it does not get us any .closer to a solution of our problems. The human approach is to bring the people closer to the realization why alteration of the Constitution is necessary, and that without alterations we who legislate here are as men with their hands tied and this Parliament has very little power, although it has the appearance of having vast power. “Wo are something, like “the little king” of the ‘comic strip eating a hamburger in the palace off a gold plate. Until the people learn that we must have more powers, we shall continue to beat the air. So it is remarkable that what should be a. non-party matter is the subject of party disputation. Opposition members stand first on ohe foot and then on the other, wondering what it will do about the bill relating to social services. They think it is too powerful to oppose. Mumbling on a lonesome tooth they cannot come to a clear decision on the bill relating to marketing. But they have been vociferous in their condemnation of the third measure relating to terms and conditions of employment. Two bills they are doubtful about, but they are definitely opposed to the third. We have to place a clear picture before the people. I firmly believe that they do believe in referendums and would like to support them. I think they will support this one, but what makes them afraid is the misrepresentation indulged in by the other side. What to them would ordinarily be an academic issue can be misrepresented in so many ways as to create in their minds a fear which results in a negative vote. The people’s attitude shows that they are referendum-minded although they customarily vote “ No “. How eai? one solve that paradox? I think education is necessary. 1 think, too, that we need more decency on the part of the propagandists opposite. “Even a. political tyro like I am knows that if the people were asked to vote on a referendum’ for the abolition of State parliaments there would be a resounding affirmative vote. Yet, when asked to vote on the transfer to the Commonwealth Parliament of a collection of minor powers there is a resounding “No”. The reason for the “ No “ vote in the last referendum was a mighty lie. Some slogan coiner, believing in the theory of Hitler that if one is to tell a lie it should be a large and robust one, paid so much an inch to the newspapers to publicize the lie he invented that a “ Yes “ vote would be a vote for industrial conscription. The people were terrorized into thinking that the Government intended to do something that it certainly did not intend. That wrecked the referendum. It drove the people to a negative vote. They realize now their mistake, but when the He was pounded into their ears, they were in a receptive frame of mind and in the fear of the’ moment they voted the wrong way. When this bomb was dropped amongst them they were overworked, undergoing severe rationing, and worried about loved .ones. Patriotic citizens, owing to the exigencies of the war, had to do work they were not used to. They were employed for the greater good of the greater number and the destruction of the common enemy. In that favorable atmosphere, the Opposition was able to create -a panic. That technique will not work in the orderly days of peace. In the calmer atmosphere of peace the people will fully realize what the Government’s intentions are in these three bills. The people want to clothe the Commonwealth Parliament with more power, but hitherto they have been timid of doing so. Public thought is usually ahead of the Government’s, regardless of what party is in power. People make up their minds on tremedously important issues long before the machinery of government gets around to asking them what they think. That was demonstrated in the United States of America when the New Deal was introduced by the late President Roosevelt. He saw what was’ necessary. He was faced with something like the same constitutional difficulties that confront this Government. His genius enabled him to keep abreast of public opinion. He was able to tell .them that he was ready if they were ready. He saved his country from industrial anarchy, arid put it on such a firm footing that it was able to produce the greatest war effort of all times. When the history of that effort is written, it will be shown that it sprang from highly organized primary and secondary industry, credit for which must bo paid to that great leader of the American people. In our time we have had in this country, men who have had the gift of knowing public opinion. In the late John Curtin, we. had a. man who thought a little ahead of the people. Our great victory was a result of his ability to know public thought instinctively. History has left us the opportunity through this referendum it last to bring about a combination between the people and the Government. Both desire the same thing, a strong, united nation, but the division ‘between the Government and the people is nourished by ill-favoured men who ‘seek to frustrate the objective of a. workable federation. That ought not to be a party matter; all should work to strengthen the central government. If the weakling Opposition by some almost unthinkable mischance, regained the treasury bench, it would not, as its supporters have admitted, relish the powers we are asking for. Its supporters would want to huddle together into the conservative corner again, doing nothing until forced out of office again.- Their dramatic announcement that they are not interested in regaining power should influence the people at the referendum.
The first of the three bills deals with social services. I have been amazed to hear Opposition members, one after another, say that the social services of the Com mon wealth’ are not threatened. They have said “wo know that they could be challenged, but no one is likely to challenge them “. Is that the way in which they carry on their businesses? I should not think-so. I can imagine them tying up all the loose ends and blocking all the little holes in order to safeguard their assets. The asset that we give te the people is social security. The Opposition claims that social services are not likely to be challenged, but is i t not more business-like to ensure that they shall not be challenged by writing into the Constitution a clear provision entitling this Parliament to make provision for the people’s security at all stages of their lives. We must remember that the few lines written into the Constitution when it w-as created entitling the Commonwealth Parliament to pay invalid and old-age pensions was meant to be just the beginning. It was the lead that the pioneers gave to us. I think we can take it as implicit that they decided that we should go on to greater and nobler things. They were not little Australians, and they did not envisage a group _ of small States federating and perishing by the act pf federation. They looked ahead to a country of abounding riches and many millions of people. Having established their plan they left it to us to develop. The Labour party is proud of its social services. It wants to have its “right to grant those social services established beyond, doubt. The very fact that the social service legislation could be challenged in theHigh Court, perhaps successfully, createsa fear in the mind of the people that they may lose the benefits they now enjoy.. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) said that many people were afraid .that the social services were threatened. That is a fact.. They may be threatened if’ they are not supremely free from interference. ‘ I am glad to see that the first bill makes provision for family allowances, because I believe that we are coming to the stagewhen there will have to be bigger and better social benefits, planned in their nature, not something that is just handed out. In the economy of to-day we must safeguard the vulnerable groups. I hope that in the years to .come a marriage allowance will result in reducing expenditure on the old-age pension. If we have what I might describe as a young-age pension we shall look after people before they come to the evening of their lives’ and become entitled to the little shelter they can obtain with the pittance they get from the national revenue before they finally shuffle off this mortal coil. A pension should be given to young people at a time when they are producing Units, when they canuse it in preparation for their old age, and with the backing behind them of the -social service fund. There would’ then be created in the minds of the1 people a clear distinction -between charity given to them towards the .close of their days and a dividend in their country’s progress while they are still young. I hope that it is implicit in this bill that under the new powers we should introduce a law providing for marriage loans. It is necessary in order totackle the population problem, which cannot be wholly solved by migration, that there should be created a new level of native born population. Statistics show that things are not as good as they should be in that regard because of economic fear. I support the measure to make, firm for all time the development of social security legislation by the Government, and. I trust that it will be strengthened in the near future so that by 1950 or 195.6 it will go far beyond what the fathers of federation meant when they referred to social benefits in the simple terms of the old-age pension. Honorable members opposite have raised many aspects of social welfare. Although I am rapidly losing my capacity for amazement, I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull), when referring to the term “ medical services “ state by inference that civilians got a much better deal than members of the forces in the provision of such services. I should like him to take his mind off the waving fields of wheat in the Wimmera, and cast it on the health queues waiting at civil hospitals for treatment. Many civilians are craving for the regular medical routine that the Army provides. Army regimentation did’ at least give to a man in the services the medical attention he needed. The position in all States, and in ‘New South Wales particularly, is that the provision of medicine and medical treatment for the poor is getting out of hand. There are too few doctors available and too many patients seeking treatment. Yet there is a publicannouncement made in the press by the secretary of the British Medical Association that parents should guard against sending too many . students to the universities to take medical courses because there will be too many doctors in this country. I should say that statistics would prove the inaccuracy of that statement. Under a reasonable scheme providing national health services for the people there should not bc too many doctors, because we have only touched the fringe of meeting the medical needs of the people. If the secretary means- that there would be too many doctors for them to make £5,000 a year in Macquarie-street I am inclined to agree, but at the same time they would be few by comparison with the number of doctors working under the most primitive conditions in the backblocks to look after the health of a scattered rural population. Parents therefore need have no fear of sending their children to universities to obtain medical degrees because, as surely as night follows day, there will be nationalized medical services in this country which will provide medical benefits for all, and every doctor, whether he be a surgeon, or a physician, will find his place in the scheme of things.
I turn now to the second, bill which deals with the primary producers. Although I represent a . metropolitan constituency I do not want honorable members to think that because of that I have no knowledge of rural activities and the needs of the rural population. Any Australian who does not -know something about them is. a pretty small Australian. Although he may not have the technique of specialized knowledge of rural matters possessed by some members of this Parliament, he should have an overall appreciation of the difficulties of the . primary producers of this country, upon whose efforts we survive. Our secondary industries are in the developmental stage and if a man has not made himself thoroughly aware of that there is something wrong with his make-up. Again 1 am surprised to find that members of the Australian Country party assail this bill. Let us consider what has happened during the past few years. I am not competent to juggle the question of the desirability of boards for the marketing of primary products as against free marketing but one can see a pretty fair picture of what has happened if one stands away somewhat from the scene. I remember not very many years ago reading that there was always a. visitor in the farmers kitchen; he sat at the fire-side, and his name wa.s “ Old Man Mortgage “.
– And “ Old . Man Merchant “.
– That is so. “Old Man Mortgage” absorbed ‘ from one-fifth to three-fifths of the income of the farmers. During the war when it became necessary to have orderly marketing, this figure became wraith-like by comparison with what it was in pre-war years, for £60,000,000 of the farmers’ debts has been paid off. During the four years of war the farmer was able’ to ease that stranglehold on his throat. The farmer, particularly the poor farmer who has not had much opportunity to establish himself, has looked upon orderly marketing as his salvation. In my view, members of the Australian Country party have a “hill-billy” philosophy, 50 years behind the times, when they dare to interpret the’ farmer as they do in this House. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) recently showed us that the number of farmer taxpayers in every group of income, from £250 to £5,000, had at least doubled since the introduction of orderly marketing of primary products that wasbrought into being during the war. Many specious arguments have been advanced about this problem of orderly marketing; it has been tossed about in the political cockpit and has been fought over by various interests. I am sure that the only farmers who conscientiously oppose it are those from O’Connell-street, Sydney. There is. logically no argument against the unassailable fact that it is better to have orderly marketing under which the farmer has some knowledge of what is going to happen to him and where he will stand than a system of free marketing. When members of the Australian Country party discuss this question they get tremendously technical and avoid the simple issue of whether it is good or bad for the farmers. Their arguments as to what the term “ orderly” actually means and their question, “ What is a rural product?” remind me of the query in Punch, “What is a policeman?” Of course, to such questions there are no answers ; they are just funny and just “ phoney “.
The third bill, which deals with the future of the worker, to my mind is the most important under discussion. First of all ‘we have social benefits, next the welfare of the farmer, and, finally, the welfare of the worker. Not so long ago there was an implied contract that industry would bring about a new order for the workers, but little is said about it by those controlling industry today. However, we have to pay the first instalment of that new order by approaching the question of the future of the worker from the point of view of the future of this country. It is one of hours, of additional wages to provide the escape from rising price levels, and of the workers’ leisure. We have heard much of the “horse and buggy “ constitution. Are we not endeavouring to run industry to-day by horseandbuggy standards? Notwithstanding the tremendous strides that have, been made in the means of production, and the fact that to-day we are living in the age of the atomic bomb, we still talk of conditions of labour that operated in 1910. What treaty or agreement have we to make with the machine if man is to survive? There have been a thousand tomes written about the machine age and its impact on the worker. We still have to deal with that situation and the only way is to acknowledge the ability of the machine to do the work, and then consider what hours a man should work each week, and what wage should be paid to him, having regard to ‘he cost of living. Quoting Henry Wallace the other day, ‘the Prime Minister said, “ This is the age of the common man “. This is undoubtedly the age when the common nian will demand his rights, and those are’ the things he is seeking - and getting - in other parts of the world. The common man seeks co-operation of the world in the solution of his problems, and only when he gets reasonable conditions, hours- and pay he wants you to slough off for all time the idea that the worker is only a tired animal. The leisure of the common man should be assured to him. If he fails to get these things undoubtedly there will be all sorts’ of industrial disturbances, and eventually we mav get a new order in reverse instead of the dramatic objective we envisage.
In my view the three bills represent the irreducible minimum which any government could submit to a referendum of the people because they will permit the country to proceed with a progressive policy. The Government has wisely selected the three salient questions which are in the minds of the people to-day. They deal with social security, our great primary products and the vexed problem of wages and hours. These questions must be solved, and if they are approached in an honest way they will be solved. I commend the Government and ‘ the- Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) for their courage in incorporating them in the bills now before us in the simplest possible terms for the people of this country to understand and appreciate.
.- This is one of the important occasions in the history of this Parliament and of the country when there is under discussion a proposal to amend that fundamental document which governs our organized political existence. It is a remarkable tribute to those who so skillfully drafted it that it should so well have stood the test of time as to have enabled this country in one stride to step from a group of fairly backward colonies to nationhood. The Constitution has been adequate to see this country through two great international crises. When we consider constitutional reform in an atmosphere in which the great majority of the comments are condemnatory of the inadequacy of the Constitution, we should remind ourselves that although the passage of years no doubt has revealed some shortcomings, fundamentally the document has stood the test of time. Therefore, we should not create a belief that the Constitution lias failed. It has not. Australia is one of the most important countries of the world, and its development has grown from the existing Constitution. For those reasons, I regard this as an occasion, not to liberate Australia from an outmoded and hopelessly inadequate document, but to ask the people to review the document iii the light of experience, and alter it in certain respects.
The history of the numerous proposals . to alter the Constitution is an almost unbroken succession of rejections. Some people claim that they can explain all the reasons for the defeat of referendum proposals. From time to time, different people have different explanations, but there is one common explanation associated with the defeat of every proposal, namely, that inevitably, the referendum has been regarded as a political proposal and originated in a Parliament conducted on party lines. Consequently, a referendum encounters the almost automatic objection of those who are opposed to the Government of the day. We need only add to them a doubt in the minds of a small minority of the people, and the referendum is defeated, as proposal after proposal has been defeated, no matter in what circumstances or by what party it has been submitted to referendum.
It is in an attempt to escape from this fatal party atmosphere that the Australian Country party has for some years proposed that constitutional reform should be raised from the arena of party politics and be reviewed by an elected constitution convention. Such a convention would achieve two ends. First, constitutional reform would be elevated from the immediate arena of acute party politics which we inevitably experience in this chamber. Secondly, we should include in the consultations the other principals who are partners in our federation. It was never contemplated that the States should be subordinate. It was intended and accepted that they should be principals in this federal organization. Yet, time after time, we not only ask the people to make a decision on constitutional reform, but also provoke the States, whose authority we propose to impair, to take a stand on the matter. Every one of us knows that the attitude of “ State-righters “ has repeatedly been a decisive factor in defeating a referendum. Therefore, I contend that on this occasion the Government is making the wrong approach. The proper course to pursue is to accept the suggestion which the Australian Country party has advanced of holding, in a calm atmosphere dissociated from party politics and the idea of a single parliament, an elected constitution convention. In that way alone should we get a dispassionate examination of the proposals, and a willingness on the part of the people to heed, without party or State prejudice, proposals for constitutional reform. That is a thought which should ‘be expressed during this debate, although it is not likely to be effectively expressed at this stage, because specific proposals have been submitted to this chamber and we must declare where we stand regarding them, and vote accordingly.
– Where does the honorable member stand?
– If the honorable member for Watson will be patient, where I stand will be revealed.
– The honorable member supported proposals for constitutional” reform at the last convention, and “ ratted “ on them outside.
– -Will the honorable member suggest how a national convention should be elected?
– The objections which honorable members opposite are raising before I reveal where I stand on this matter-
– We know where the honorable member stands.
– These objections show the spirit in which these proposals are being considered. This atmosphere reeks of party animosity. These proposals cannot possibly be calmly and properly considered while party prejudices exist among supporters of ‘ the Government. When proposals for constitutional reform originate in this Parliament, it is inevitable that the abstract proposals should be associated in our minds with the policy objectives and intentions of the Government which formulates them.
– Hear, hear ! Why not?
– The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) aids me in making my case, by showing that this proposal emanates, not from a government which wishes to improve the constitution, but from a government ‘which is actuated by .certain political objectives and prejudices. Although it possesses a magnificent majority, it is unable to give full effect to its policy. Therefore, it’ fays, “ This pure Constitution is to be examined in the high and ratified atmosphere of constitutional reform.” But the honorable member for Ballarat and his less experienced colleagues have “ spilled the beans “. They shout that they have no shame in revealing their’ intentions. They have not enough sense to keep quiet. Their intention, quite unashamedly, is to endeavour to persuade, intimidate and bewilder their fellowAustralians into giving to them constitutional authority so that they may do certain things which, politically, are quite legitimate party objectives; but my duty is to point out all the circumstances surrounding them.
– Does the honorable member oppose those objectives?
– In due course, if he has sufficient .patience, the honorable member for Watson will learn where I stand. The Labour party demands a 40- hour working week.
– Of course we do.
– The Australian Labour party also desires to review conditions of. labour. Those are quite legitimate party objectives.’ The Constitution, in its present form, provides fully, fairly, but properly, the opportunity to have these matters resolved -by the judiciary. But the judiciary, whose impartiality should be above suspicion, is not a “ sure bet “. It. may come down on the right side, or it may not. Therefore the Labour party says, “ Let us make a ‘ whizzer ‘ of this one. Let us not depend on our Australian judiciary. Let us use our majority in the Parliament, and our ability to stampede the Austraiian public. Aided and abetted in no small degree on this occasion, as on the last, by. the resources of the Department of Information, we shall persuade the people, in their ignorance, to empower us to disregard the judiciary on this vital, matter.”
– That statement, like everything else the honorable member says, is only half the truth.
– -On the honorable member’s own admission, I am half way to the whole truth. I cannot return the compliment. He is a long way short of the truth.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Watson not to interject.
– Why is the honorable member for Indi permitted to say these things?
– Order !
– The Labour party is seeking authority to enable this Parliament to determine rates of pay and working conditions. As one who has never been a waverer in regard to upholding our parliamentary system, I say frankly that no parliament is less fitted to make that decision than is this legislature. The Labour party, which is the greatest and most powerful political party here, is not a purely political organization which, deals with tlie abstract merits of social and economic matters:- It consists of the nominees of organized industrial unionism.
– Honorable members opposite are only delegates.
– That is the correct expression. Honorable members opposite are not the representatives of the people, but are the delegates of trade unions. It would be silly for any one to. pretend that any member of th’e Labour party can get b,is pre-selection for a seat unless he has the organized support of the trade unions. We have had more than one experience to prove that, a member of the Labour party does not lose his seat only by being defeated by the people. He may be rejected by a handful of trade unions which refuse to endorse him at the pre-selection ballot. Mr. J. S. Garden, a former member for Cook, had that experience. Therefore, the position is clear. Honorable members opposite do not represent truly more than one-half of the Australian people. They are a few people who represent a few more people who have what are doubtless quite legitimate interests in safeguarding their own well-being. But those interests are not to be confused with the broader issues of public importance. There is. complete and adequate evidence of why it would be improper to confer upon the majority of members of this Parliament, who are the nominees of the trade unions, power to fix wages and working conditions. Would any honorable member opposite have a chance of obtaining reendorsement if he did not pledge himself to vote in this Parliament for a 40-hour week? But the policy of honorable members opposite, as my leader has said, is a 30- hour week; and we say that should the power be reposed in this Parliament to legislate for a 30-hour week, no honorable member opposite would have a chance of obtaining endorsement from the unions unless he was prepared to pledge himself to that objective. But such, legislation may’ be in complete disregard of national economics and- violate principles of equity so far as various sections- of the people are concerned-. We had a case in point only within ‘the last few weeks when the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), who was previously the Minister for
Labour and National Service, said that it was intolerable that the judiciary should retain the right to interpret the Constitution. Who does he think should interpret it? Not the people, through their representatives in this Parliament, but a limited number of parliamentary representatives of a limited number of trade unionists and members of the Labour party.
I turn now to the subject of the organized marketing of primary products. lt is interesting to note that at the last referendum when the Government tied together fourteen points, and some “freedoms “ that were not points, in one great question, it got the answer which it really invited.. On this occasion the Government has realized the futility of so underrating public intelligence as to tie three questions in one; so, in effect, it says to the people, “ We are now going to be thoroughly fair. We are going to give you three chances “. It is almost like three chances in a lottery.
– The three-card trick.
– In the thimble and pea trick, the- trickster uses three thimbles and one pea. This is the political example of the thimble and pea trick. These are three measures with one objective. First, the Governments attempts to stampede the primary producers by promising them something; secondly, it creates a fear in the minds of unprivileged people who need a measure of social security; but the pea is- under the- third thimble, the 30 or 40 horn week thimble. Although on this occasion, the Government is not game to try the trick of putting up three questions for one answer, nevertheless, it is attempting to trick the people into voting for three proposals, two of which at first glance would appeal to a great proportion of the people. .At the same time, the Government ties two issues in one question- relating to social security. /Therein we find that the proposal in respect of child endowment, which no honorable member would oppose, is tied up with! a second, proposition -which has f or its objective the obtaining- of power for the Commonwealth to control completely the medical services of this country. However, I was- discussing the second proposal, that dealing with the marketing: of primary products. Throughout my political life I have sought to . achieve organized marketing of primary products on a regulated, authoritative basis. I was a member of a previous government which submitted that question to the people only to find them stampeded by members of the Labour party.
– That was a different question entirely.
– My legal friend- I very nearly said my learned friend - says that that was a different question. His statement is only too true, because the Government of which I was a member placed before the people a proposal for the orderly marketing of commodities.
– And that proposal was supported by a. large section of the Labour party.
– That is so. On that occasion I spoke from the same platform as many members of the Labour party; but that proposal was defeated largely because of the scare created by other members of the Labour party. But there was no doubt in any one’s mind of the meaning of that proposal. It meant authoritative, orderly marketing of primary products. But the Government’s proposal on this occasion is for “ the
Organized marketing of primary products “.
– An expression taken from the platform of the Australian Country party.
– Our party simply states its objective; we do not pretend to do so in the precise language of constitutional lawyers. But what does the or ganized marketing of primary products mean? I can return to my electorate which includes the most important centre in Australia for the canning of fruit - pears, peaches and apricots. The fruit is delivered by the growers to their own co-operative canneries. No doubt those men will say to me, “ The Government’s proposal is for organized marketing of primary products. What about it ? “ What am I to say? I can say, “Your pears, peaches and apricots are primary products “. But when the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) was making his secondreading speech, we tried in vain by interjection to get him to reveal whether a tin of canned fruit was a primary product. We cannot have organized marketing of peaches, pears and apricots between the orchards and the canneries, but only after the fruit arrives at the cannery. That is the process in the industry; and I am sure that if it were made perfectly clear that canned fruits- taking the example I have mentioned - were beyond question primary products, the doubts of all primary producers would be solved. And, of course, those doubts arise in varying degree with respect to the conversion of other products - milk to butter, wheat to flour and sugar-cane to refined sugar. These products all pass through a similar process. And I am bound to say to my constituents, whose hearts are set on achieving organized marketing of primary products, that I have not the faintest notion whether the Government’s referendum proposals will be worth the paper they are written on. These proposals could give to the Commonwealth undoubted authority to control these products in their primary stage; but the Government will be illadvised to rely on its record in this regard to pursuade the producers to give it control over their products. I was laughed to scorn by honorable members opposite when, some months ago, I said in this chamber that the wheat-growers faced the prospect of being robbed of £10,000,000; but now the Government which laughed me to scorn has, as the result of being jabbed by members on this side and by the industry, returned quite a few of those stolen millions to the industry, and “no wheat-grower now doubts that he is entitled to the export value of that proportion of the wheat over which the Government took control under its wartime powers and sold at cheap prices.
– I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– I was about to say that “ organized marketing “ - those are the words in the measure - surely concerns itself with the acquisition, holding and disposal of a primary product for which authority does not repose in this Parliament in peace-time. But that authority has reposed. in this Parliament during the war; and it is futile to think that this proposal to continue those powers into peace-time will not be judged by many primary producers on the manner in which the Government has employed identical power in respect of the same matters in the war period. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that that point is relevant to the question before the Chair.
– The Chair has ruled otherwise.
– On the other hand, organized marketing of primary products in itself is not the objective in the- minds of primary producers. The real objective in their minds is to achieve economic stability and that is related to the prices they receive. Organized mlarketing in their minds is a means of realizing fair and adequate prices for their products. The Government should realize that fact. Organized marketing is inevitably associated with guaranteed prices.” No one will pretend that the theory of guaranteed prices can be separated from the objectives of organized marketing. If the Government has not in mind this primary element, which is the general objective of the primary producers, let it say so frankly, and we shall then know where we are. It is impossible for any government, even one that has millions of pounds to play with as this Government has, to guarantee prices for the products of our major primary industries unless there is some authority to control the ultimate liability of the Treasury, which means, to control the ultimate volume of production. The present wheat stabilization plan recognizes that principle, and the primary producers’ organizations recognize it. It is implemented in the wheat industry by the licensing of growing acreage. Economic stability of the sugar industry is achieved by licensing sugar-growing areas. In the dried fruits industry, economic stability is achieved readily because it is simple for State governments to limit the areas to which they will supply irrigation water. And so on. Every primary industry that has been stabilized on the basis of some limitation of the possible liabilities of the Treasury has been stabilized by control of the volume of production. Where in these measures do we find any suggestion that those high promises of organized marketing of primary products that are held out to the farmers, can possibly be implemented? There is not a word about the control of the volume of production. In the eyes of a practical man who has associated himself closely with the objective of organized marketing, the bills now before the House are a gold brick. I am certain that the primary producers’ organizations in this country will recognize this legislation as worthless. The term “ primary product “ is impossible of adequate interpretation, and recourse will have to be had to the High Court every time a borderline case is encountered. Even if an interpretation were given, economic stability through assured prices would be incapable of achievement, because even if a “ Yes “ vote were recorded at the referendum, the Government would still not have any authority whatever to control the volume of production.
– It can be controlled through prices.
– The honorable member says that control will be exercised through prices.
– By prices for a quota.
– The honorable member has said exactly what the AttorneyGeneral said when he introduced his last referendum proposals and I advanced this same argument. How can the volume of production be controlled through prices? If a farmer has the necessary land, machinery, and technique, he can grow wheat, but what makes him cease to grow wheat? What limits him in continuing to grow wheat if there are no other controls? The answer is that prices limit him. Does a profitable price limit him? No. An unprofitable price i’3 the only price factor that will limit him. On the occasion of the last referendum we were informed that the intention was to overcome this, problem, which the Attorney-General apparently recognized, of the control of the volume of production, by saying in clear words, “ If the liability of the Treasury becomes too high, we shall control the volume of production through prices “. Unprofitable prices, of course. What the Attorney-General said, in effect, was, “ We shall bring hardship, loss, and despair into the homes of every primary producer engaged in this industry, by controlling the volume of production and by controlling the responsibilities pf the Treasury through prices “. And now the statement is repeated by an honorable member who poses as an expert on the wheat industry, and a representative in this Parliament of the wheat-growers. He says that control will be exercised through prices. All right. I am prepared to tell the wheat-growlers of this country that that is the means by which the Government, supported by honorable members on the Government back benches who claim to represent the wheat-growers, proposes to operate its plan - price control or, in other words, reducing the prices to unprofitable levels.
– The worst prices ever paid to the farmers in this country were paid during the term of office of the honora’ble member for Indi as a Minister.
– It is true that the Government of which I was a member established a stabilization plan for the wheat industry.
– And paid ls. lOd. a bushel for wheat.
– The Scullin ‘Government paid ls. Sd. a bushel. If the honorable member persists in sticking out his chin, how can I refrain from smacking it? The Government of which I was a member introduced a wheat stabilization plan on the basis of 3s. lOd. a bushel. The date upon which it was introduced may be ascertained from, the volumes on the table of this House. On the table also is the Commonwealth Y ear-Booh, which will show that, -just prior to the introduction of ‘that legislation, the price of wheat had reached its all-time lowest level in this country. If our wheat stabilization plan had been applied to as big a crop as that harvested in the year in which the scheme was devised, and- had the price remained the same - these are two factors which were beyond the control of the Government, because Nature determined the size of the crop and conditions outside Australia determined world values - the ‘Government would have had to pay to wheat-growers no less than £10,000,000 out of Consolidated Revenue. During the life of the ‘Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments, on the other hand, there has never been a promise to pay to wheatgrowers any .price that has not been under the realization value of wheat. In five years of administration, not one penny has ever been paid ‘by a Labour government out .of Consolidated Revenue to the wheat industry ; whereas, in the preceding bracket, of years, . non-Labour governments paid nearly £20,000,000 to the industry. Who are the alleged leaders of the wheat industry to whom the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) runs for advice almost every week? They are all on the pay-roll of the Government. For instance, the Minister seeks advice from Sir Louis Bussau, .a former president of the Wheat Growers Association, but, in effect, he is seeking advice from one of his own officials, because Sir Louis Bussau draws from the Department of Commerce and Agriculture £1/750 a year, plus expenses. The Minister does not say, “ I shall consult one of my officials “ which would be the frank thing to say ; he says, “ I shall consult a recognized leader in the wheat industry “. Another of the Minister’s favourite consultants is Mr. Everett, whom the Minister himself appointed to the Wheat Board. More recently, it is true, Mr. Everett has been elected to the board, but he became a .member originally because the Minister appointed him at a remuneration of £500 a year for a very part-time job. When the Minister consults Mr. Everett, however, he does not say, “ I am consulting one of my paid officials to whom I gave a good job “. He says, “ I am consulting one of the chosen representatives of the wheatgrowers’”. Occasionally too, the Minister goes to Mr. Cullen for advice! That gentleman until recently was president of the Victorian Wheat Growers Association. There, it might reasonably be said, surely, is the right man to consult! But Mr. Cullen draws from the Department of Commerce and Agriculture £1,000 a year, plus expenses, and, of course, his advice is completely impartiaL! When I lift my eyes to’ the press gallery in this chamber I find that the public relations officer of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture is the former editor of my own party’s journal, who is now on Mr. Scully’s pay-roll. I see, too, one of the Minister’s liaison officers who advises him on matters industrial and politicalmostly political. I refer to the former chief organizer of my party, who was offered a better job at more money by the Minister. The appointment of the former member for Wimmera, Mr. “Wilson; as- Administrator of Norfolk Island, is too recent for me to need to repeat the story.
Mr.Falstein. - The honorable member should get back to the bills.
– I am sure that honorable members opposite would like nothing better than for me to get . back to the bills-
– Order ! The Chair requests that the honorable member will get back tp the bills.
-When the question of the organized marketing of primary requests that the honorable member get products is submitted to the people, the growers will not fail to associate these facts that I have mentioned. The attitude of the wheat-growers at a hundred conferences that I have attended was, “ We want organized control of our own industry under a board upon which there shall be a majority of growers’ representatives “.
– Anti-Labour governments never gave the growers a growercontrolled board.
– It is true that go: verumehts of which I was a supporter did not give to the wheat-growers a board on which there was a majority of growers’ representatives, but we did give them adequate grower representation and a Treasury guarantee. The Labour Government, on the other hand, promised to provide for a. majority of growers’ representatives on the board, . and carried out its promise. Of course it did. [Extension of time granted.] By hand-picking representatives of the industry for membership of the board, the Government granted the wish of the growers; but once again they found they had been sold a gold brick. The board on which there was a majority of growers’ representatives had every semblance of authority taken from it by the Government. If ever there was a fiasco in the history of attempted organized marketing of- primary products, it is the operation of the Australian Wheat Boa rd under the administration of thepresent Minister for Commerce and
Agriculture. It has not the power to fix the price of wheat, to sell wheat, to decide to whom it shall sell and for how much, to fix the amount of the first advance that it will make to the growers or when it has £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 in its coffers,’ or the amount of any subsequent advance to the growers. Even the authority to decide that wheat in its possession should be used to feed hungry people, which one would have expected it to have, was taken from it by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, and 50,000 bushels of wheat was made available to feed poodle dogs and greyhounds. Yet we are told that the Labour party has enabled the wheat-growers to achieve their life-long objective of a grower-controlled board ! There has never been a more blatant exposition of the “ rich uncle from Fiji “ trick than was witnessed in connexion with thisboard. The foolishness of its continuing to operate must be- recognized.
I turn now to the social services bill. I believe that parliamentary practice makes it improper to tack one thing on to another. Here is an example of that having been done in connexion with a constitutional proposal. That proposal ‘ ostensibly is designed to place beyond question the authority of this Parliament to pay the maternity allowance, widows’ pensions, child endowment, and so on. I agree that those payments are quite properly within the authority of’ this Parliament. Some of the most important of them were placed on the statute-book by the parties which now sit on this side of the House. By whom are they likely to be challenged? Surely the payment of the maternity allowance and child endowment would not be challenged by the Labour party, or by those who placed them on the statute-book! No vested business interests are concerned in -the payment, of social benefits. Therefore, the unlikelihood of their being challenged is beyond question. But although I have no doubt about their- validity, if any government proposed to make -assurance doubly sure I should be the first to support it. Those services are not in jeopardy. What is more important than placing beyond question their constitutional validity, is that no steps should be taken which might jeopardize them. It will probably go down in Australian history that these social benefits, which are the very foundation of the new order, the validity of which was never in doubt and had never been challenged, were placed in jeopardy, possibly were destroyed, by the stupid, cunning, political tactics of a Labour government, in its endeavour to invoke the opportunity presented by this so-called doubt to trick the people into voting for additional powers which . would enable it to take under its control the whole of the administration of sickness and hospital benefits and medical and dental services. To those who claim to stand for the underprivileged class in Australia, I would, say that they are taking a very grave and serious step when they associate matters ‘ to which they know there is widespread objection in this country, with these other vital services in respect of which there is no difference of opinion. The proper course to take, even at this late stage, is to separate the two issues, so that all of us can ask the people to place beyond the shadow of doubt the validity of the maternity allowance and child endowment. The Government should then *ask the people to clothe this Parliament with authority to deal with sickness and hospital benefits. I should have no objection to the submission of that question. Do not jeopardize these other benefits, which are a sheet anchor for. so many people to-day, by associating them with the proposal in respect of hospital and medical benefits, which all of us know in our hearts are the subject of controversy, and against which will be organized the vested interests of the medical profession. This is one of the most tragic proposals, fraught with disaster, which could be brought into this Parliament. In order to place the matter beyond risk, I move -
That all the words after “ bill “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words:”” be withdrawn and redrafted as two bills, the first dealing with the provision of the maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment benefits, benefits to students, and family allowances; and the second dealing with sickness and hospital benefits and medical anl dental services”.
That amendment does not propose to subtract one iota from-the proposals which the Government desires to submit to the people. If it were agreed to, the result would be to have these two recognizably separate issues, the one non-controversial and the other highly controversial, submitted to the people in such a way that they would have the opportunity to make secure for themselves those primary social services which they now enjoy, and to cast their votes according to their judgment in respect of the second matter.
– I support’ the three bills, which will authorize the holding of a referendum. I have listened on numerous occasions to the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen). Although his speeches are always grossly inaccurate, I . have never heard him deliver one that was more so than that which he made to-night. He went out of his way to attack my colleague the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon), who had interjected that wheat production could be controlled by giving a price for a quota. He asked the honorable member for Forrest, “ Are you going to control wheat production by fixing a price?”, arid then drew a terrifying picture of the price being forced down to such- a level that it would not be payable to the grower. That was a gross distortion. The honorable member for Forrest is a licensed wheat-grower who is actively engaged in the. wheat industry. His knowledge of wheatgrowing is much greater than that of the honorable member for Indi. He does not have to run to John Teasdale for .advice. The honorable member for Indi criticized -the growers for having elected men to the Australian Wheat Board. Although he twitted the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture with consulting Sir Louis Bussau, the honorable member did not say a word about the personal adviser who gives him all the inside information from the Australian Wheat Board. It is absolutely untrue that the present Government would attempt at any time to control the production of wheat by forcing down its price. The honorable member has asked for a statement of our intentions in regard to these matters. They should be perfectly plain. In respect of the bill dealing with social services, our intention is to improve the lot of, to Use his own description, the.under-dog. Our intention in regard to the bill relating to organized marketing is so to organize primary production that the producer will get the full fruits of his industry. Our intention in regard to the third measure is to give to the industrial worker an instalment of that new order which honorable gentlemen opposite promised to him when their skins were threatened by the Axis powers. These matters should not be subjected to so much distortion. They should be debated in a non-party atmosphere, but that seems impossible. The referendum of 1944 should have been put to the people with the support of all parties, but it was not, and the Labour party did not have sufficient funds to counteract the vicious propaganda of its opponents, which confused the people. I have taken the trouble to peruse past parliamentary debates, in order to learn what ideas were held b’y different members when similar questions were previously submitted to the people, and I lighted upon an excellent and very interesting speech by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), when he was Attorney-General of the Commonwealth. It was made during the budget debate of 1938-39. subsequent to the holding of the last referendum in respect of organized marketing, which was de- feated. The right honorable gentleman then said that, in his opinion, there were eight anomalies in the Constitution, these being in respect of trade and commerce, health, control of companies, industrial power, transport, fishing industry, agriculture and unemployment insurance. Those include some of the very matters with respect to which the Government is attempting to gain power for the Commonwealth at. the present time ; yet, because the right honorable gentleman is now Leader of the Opposition, he has introduced party politics into the consideration of them. I wave indulgence to read a few extracts from his speech, giving reasons why Constitution alteration referendums were lost. Making his first point, he said -
T can imagine no greater fallacy than this theory of sovereign States. Sovereignty in this country belongs to the people of Australia. As we pointer] out just before the recent referendum, even that sovereignty is not, perhaps, technically complete, because there are one or two silent places Still in th’e Constitution. But, speaking broadly, sovereignty belongs to the people, because this is a democratic community which carries out its desires through various agencies.
Making his third point, in the course of which he discussed the introduction of party politics, he said - 1 ami quite sure that one of them was a purely factitious party opposition to proposals put forward by a government of another colour. ‘ As the right honorable member for Yarra said the other day, if we are to deal with these problems of national power, we must shut our eyes and minds completely to all ideas of which party is putting them forward or of what such and such a party will do if such and such powers are granted.
From my , point of view, there is only one question : Should the people of Australia take power through our Commonwealth Parliament to carry out certain functions? If they do, the people will have their own rights, in their own way, to decide which party shall sit on the Government benches. . . .
The fourth answer is this: I have detected many times, as have other honorable members an instinct in the average voter in Australia to feel that, in this welter of governing authorities, his primary loyalty is to his State. We have all encountered this. I have met men in the States who, in addressing themselves to a problem of constitutional change, have not said, “ Is this the kind of power better exercised by a local governing authority, or a national one?” - which is the real question - but instead have said, “ Why should we in the States give any more power to the Commonwealth,” with the finger pointing in a rather condemnatory fashion in the general direction of Canberra’. If that instinct is analysed, it will be seen to be an instinct of primary loyalty to the States, and, in effect, it treats the Commonwealth as an outside body, if not a foreign body. And so, year after year, and referendum after referendum, we hear well-meaning people, otherwise intelligent, saying that the real question is, “ Why should the States give more power to the Commonwealth?” whereas the real question is, “ Should we, the people, who are superior both to Commonwealth and State authorities, entrust this power to this parliament or to that?”. If that were properly understood, a great deal of the difficulty that attaches to this feeling among the people would disappear.
If the right honorable gentleman spoke honestly in 1938, after the defeat of the referendum on the proposals in respect of the organized marketing of primary products, how is he speaking to-day? Probably we have the reason for his change of views in his latest remark, “ We shall fight the Government every week, every day, and every hour, and by all means The Leader of the Opposition must know in his heart that the powers to be sought should be granted to this Parliament. His bosses, those engaged in. “ big business “, have dictated otherwise, and -that is the reason for his change of front.
It has been said that because the. validity of many of the social service measures has not been challenged, it is not likely that others will be. We are reminded that the maternity allowance, which has been operating for the last 35 years, has not been challenged; but it was not thought that the power of this Parliament to grant pharmaceutical benefits would be questioned, and as- that measure has been declared invalid, other portions of our social service legis.lation could be challenged.. That is the opinion of King’s counsel who support, not the Labour party, but those opposed to it. Therefore, the right of this Parliament to provide those services should be settled finally by the electors. If the people were asked to grant power to this Parliament to provide medical and dental services, I believe that they would readily agree. I am. surprised that Country party members, who are supposed to represent outback constituencies, are opposed to the nationalization of medical services. Even if city dwellers have to stand in queues to obtain medical attention at public hospitals, at least that service is available to them, but in many country districts no doctors at all are available. They will not practice in outlying areas, because they are unable to obtain sufficient income there; The. establishment of a national medical) service would be of great value to the man on the land.
A cross-section of the opinion of all doctors, including Macquarie-street specialists, would show that a majority ^ of the members of the profession are in favour of the nationalization of medical services. Naturally, I meet more country doctors than city practitioners, but I have’ not come in contact with one country doctor who would not be happy to work in a national medical service. Any doctor worth his salt should be prepared to give of his best to the community. As a rule doctors choose their calling because of love of their profession, and ‘ not merely to make money out of it. Those who are. found in Macquarie-street, Sydney, and on St. George’s-terrace, Perth, are, in the main, opposed to the nationalization of medical services. Social services enable the income of the community generally to be levelled up, and some of the greatest defects in our economy remedied. No challenge as to the- validity of these proposals should be heard, particularly from members of the alleged Australian Country party, but members of the Liberal: party are naturally expected to oppose them.
The measure dealing with the organized marketing of primary products relates to one of- the principal powers to be sought. After World War I., I as a boy, saw large estates in the Swan River Valley subdivided for the settlement of returned soldiers.’ Many settlers engaged in grape production, and when the vines came into full bearing there was a glut of dried fruits. The ex-soldiers were seen hawking their product in Perth, where they were able to obtain only 2d. a lb. for it. The growers were reduced to a bare subsistence level, and those who worked for them received a wage of only. 6s. or -7s. a, day, because there was no organized marketing of primary products. In the vegetable-growing- industry, the producers expect to get a profitable price, for their crops. At times they receive fair prices, and at other times, ruinously low prices are paid, because of glutted markets. Even when first-grade tomatoes command only 3s. a case, the price in the retail shops often remains at Sd. or 9d. per lb.. The only way in which to overcome that difficulty is to plan for a small surplus of production,,- and to organize producer-consumer co-operation. Action on those lines would provide cheap vegetables for the consumers without menacing a satisfactory, price to the growers. Such & ‘plan, could not always give perfectly satisfactory results, because of changing seasonal conditions, but a vast improvement by comparison with the present haphazard system could be effected. One year cabbages may fetch high prices because reduced plantings have been made, and beans which have been planted in large areas would be at glut prices. The following season, growers remembering the good prices’ for cabbages would plant heavily, and the poor price for beans would cause them to plant that vegetable lightly, the result being the reverse of the previous season.
Criticism has been levelled at the Apple and Pear Board. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) seems to think that the board’s operations had resulted in low prices to the growers and clear fruit to the consumers. Western Australia and Tasmania export their fruit, and.it was only reasonable to expect that during the war period, when their fruit could not be shipped, a surplus would be unavoidable. Had the board ceased to operate in those States during 1 hat period those engaged in the industry would have been ruined. I claim that the people have hot been called upon to pay high prices for, apples. Because they know that thousands of bushels of fruit have been ploughed into the ground, they ask, “ Why can we not get cheap apples ? “ ; but in Western Australia, they have always been able to purchase half a bushel of first-grade apples for 3s. 6d. from the travelling trucks of the Apple and Pear Board during the “flush of the season. I do not represent the main “applegrowers in Western Australia. Most of the growers in my district produce pears and early apples, but they recognize that it would not be in the interests of the growers generally to dispense with the Apple and Pear Board. When new season’s apples appeared in the shops in Western Australia, I saw Granny Smith’s, which had been in cold storage for six months, priced at10d. per lb., and, immediately alongside of them, green new season’s apples, the price of which was not controlled, selling at11d. per lb. Those who contend that the board’s operations have resulted in high ‘ prices of fruit are wrong. Apples may not have been cheap in the first part of the season, butthey were certainly cheaper over the whole year than before the board came into existence. Anybody having a full knowledge of the effect of the control operations would be ready to defend the board.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) claimed that the primary producers have suffered shocking treatment under the control system. He instanced the Potato Control Board, and said that the growers had to ask when they could plant, dig, and market their crops. Of course, they have been called upon to do that, but it is also true that, having suffered certain inconvenience due to government control, they received £12 10s. a ton instead of £1 10s. a ton for their crop. They ought to be quite prepared to submit to control in return for that benefit, I am sure that every reasonably minded grower is prepared to accept this control; as a matter of fact, they have asked for the control to continue for another year. For the first four years of the war, wheat was practically unsaleable. In Western Australia, all bulk storage bins were full, and as fast as newbins could be built they were filled. It could not be foreseen that a devastating drought would occur in the eastern States, and that soon the people would be clamouring for wheat; so a policy of restriction of production was adopted. Therefore, there is’ no justification for accusing us of being responsible for the shortage of wheat of a year or two ago. The Attorney-General in his secondreading speech, read, in this House a table of figures showing how the incomes of primary producers had increased during the period this Government has been in office. Members of the Opposition countered this by saying that incomes were larger because farmers worked very hard, and were unable to spend money on top-dressing their land or on repairing fences and sheds. It is true that they were unable to carry cut proper maintenance work, but during the depression farmers had no money for maintenance work, and they certainly worked as hard then as they worked during the war; yet their . ‘.incomes fell to a mere subsistence level. The honorable member for Maranoa charged the Government with, restricting the growing of wheat in Queensland, while at the same time, using badly needed transport for carrying wheat ‘to Queensland. In this respect, the figures issued by the Commonwealth . Bureau of Statistics in regard to wheat production in Queensland are interesting : -
That, was the last year in which an antiLabour government was responsible for the crop. For the last three years the production of wheat in Queensland has been : -
It is estimated ‘that this year the yield will be 8,000,000 bushels. These figures prove conclusively that the production of wheat in Queensland steadily declined during the regime of the last Government, and has consistently increased during the term of office of the present -Government. The honorable member for Maranoa quoted figures published by the South Burnett Dairy Company to show that, before the war, the price of butter was higher than during the war. “Well, we admit that higher prices were obtained before the war, but they fluctuated violently. For instance, in 1920, the price was 25.51d. per lb., while in 1935, it was only 9.75d. “What would be the position of a man who, in 1920, bought dairying land on the basis of a price of 25.51d. per lb., and then had to carry on when the price fell to 9.75d. ? It is much -better for’ the farmer if the price of his produce can be stabilized at a reasonable level. In 1940-41, the gross value of farmyard and dairy products for Australia was £62,629,000, while in -1943-44 the value was £77,450,000. The value per head of population for 1940-41 was £8 18s. 4d., and for 1913-44, it was £10 13s. 2d. Taking the index number for production in Australia for 1927-28 as 1,000, the figure for 1941-42 was 876, and for 1943-44 it was 1,037. This shows that the volume of production actually .increased during the war.
The Leader of the Opposition quoted the Taxation Department as an authority for saying that if a farmer made his own butter, it remained- a primary product, but if the -butter were made in a factory it became a secondary product. “What would be the position if a group of farmers banded together and made their butter in a factory, or if a farmer employed someone on his farm to make butter? ‘ I believe that such matters should be put beyond doubt by declaring that butter, cheese, fruit and wine,’ for instance, are primary products. If a man grows his own grapes, crushes them and makes wine, the wine is, presumably, a primary product, but what is it when produced by a wine-maker who grows some grapes and buys more? Is his wine a primary product or not? Honorable members can see that it would be hopeless to sort out such a tangle.
Speaking of wines, I should like something to be done to prevent a monopolistic concern such as Penfolds from invading and dominating the market in Western Australia. I would have no objection if Penfolds sold their wines in fair competition with the Western Australian products, but their practice is to buy up all the wine licences in Perth, and to lease the premises- on conditions that only Penfolds wines are sold. Consequently, better wines made in Western Australia have no market, because no one is able to sell them.
– That is the fault of the State law.
– I admit it. There ought’ to be more licences. In Queensland, there is excellent marketing legislation which was introduced by a Labour government, but Queensland has the advantage of having no Upper House. We have a Labour government in Western Australia, but we also have -a reactionary Legislative Council, which contains many big landowners. These people are not at all favorable to breaking up large estates which are suitable for soldier settlement. The Government cannot get legislation through the Parliament to acquire estates of that kind, because the Upper House will not pass it. During the last referendum, we were told by members of the Opposition that the Commonwealth already had ample power to repatriate ex-servicemen, but we have since found that it can be done only in co-operation with States.
The third proposed power, that which relates to terms and conditions of employment in industry, has been attacked very strongly- by members of the Opposition. We should recognize that the world has moved forward. With the application of science and invention to production, the potential earning power of the people has greatly increased.
In 1921-22, the population of Australia was 5,510,944, whilst in 1942-43, it was 7,196,622, an increase of 30.9 per cent. For the same years the national income was £540,000,000 and £1,223,000,000’ respectively, which was an increase of 126.4S per cent., while the income per head of population was £9S and £169 respectively. During the same period the basic wage rose from £4 2s. to £4 18s., an increase of only 19.51 per cent. Thus, it is evident that the return to the workers has not been commensurate with the general increase of the national income. During the recent war, no fewer than S00,000 persons went into the fighting services, and many thousands more into munitions factories. Nevertheless, those who were left were able to produce enough to feed and clothe the entire population, including those in the services, as well as to supply large quantities of food and other goods to our Allies. Now the Army has been greatly reduced, the munitions factories have been closed, and a great many men and women are returning to civil production. Work must be found for them. As it has been made possible to produce more per head of population, then the workers themselves should share in the extra production. It is hopeless to expect that the Arbitration Courts will ever grant a 40-hour working, week. In Western Australia, some unions have had the benefit of a 44-hour .week for the last twenty years, whilst others are still working 48 hours. If one State were to legislate for a 40-hour working week, while another kept to a 44-hour week, the first State would be placed at a disadvantage industrially. If a 40-hour week is to be introduced it should be done at one stroke, and made to apply all over the Commonwealth. 1 do not think that this Parliament should concern itself with assessing the exact amount of the basic wage, but it should determine whether or not the basic wage is adequate, and should fix a basis for assessing a proper wage. The present basic wage was fixed in 1912, and real wages have increased very little since then, although the productive capacity of the country has increased enormously-. We should remember that things which were regarded as luxuries five years ago are now looked UpOn as necessaries. For instance, every worker should have a radio and a refrigerator in his home. Let us not forget that the workers produce the wealth - not those who skim the cream off the top.’ During the war, members of all parties proclaimed loudly that, when the war was over, the workers must get a better deal. In Great Britain, the workers asked Ernest Bevin, “ When we come back, do we come back to the same old conditions?” We told our workers that a new order would be given to them after the war, and we must honour our promise. Otherwise, we shall drift into another depression, and then, I am afraid, the workers may take what is due to them.
.- I support the three bills now before the House, not because they are sponsored by a Labour Government, but because I have always supported proposals for the granting of increased power to the Commonwealth Parliament. Stress has been laid on the fact that previous attempts to alter the Constitution have been rejected by the electors. That is true; but Australia, is a democratic country which believes in progress by evolutionary means. The Australian Constitution, unlike that of some other countries, will not be subjected to violent changes, but alterations will come gradually. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) said that we on this side were delegates sent here by the trade . unions of Australia and that as the Government had a majority - I think he said a brutal majority - it could pass what legislation it liked. The honorable member appears to have forgotten that the people of Australia elected the present Government with its majority. After many years of anti-Labour rule they saw the need for a change of government.
During this debate there had been much talk by honorable members opposite of the desirability of holding a convention to consider constitutional changes. I remind them that before the referendum of 1944, there was a convention, at which the leaders of all political parties in Australia discussed for a week proposals for alterations of the , Constitution. An agreement was arrived at, but later some f those who had accepted the agreement voted against it. Members of the Opposition advocate the holding of a convention to decide what powers should be vested in the Commonwealth, only because they wish to hide behind the people. They have not the courage to go to the people and say that they are of the opinion that this or that power should be transferred to the Commonwealth. It is also said by opponents of the Government that the decision to hold a referendum on the day of the election is a piece of political trickery. That is an admission that the Opposition expects to be defeated at the next election, and that the Labour Government will again be returned to office. By opposing the granting of additional powers to the Commonwealth opponents of the Government will indicate clearly to the electors that they do not expect to gain the treasury bench. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) said that some members now on the Opposition benches supported the last referendum. That is true, but who were those members? They were the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), who were expelled from the party of which the right honorable member is the leader.
When the Tuberculosis Bill was before this House, .1 mentioned that Dr. Darcy Cowan, of Adelaide, who has a worldwide reputation .in his profession, said that the greatest tragedy in this country was. that the National Parliament did not have control of the health of the people. I agree with him that the Commonwealth should have more control over health than merely the control of quarantine. Honorable members opposite profess to believe in the maternity allowance, child endowment, and assistance to students, but they also advocate a reduction of taxes by 40 per cent. They are inconsistent, for how can these benefits be continued unless money be provided to meet the cost? They claim that there is no challenge to social security, but I ask who challenged the Pharmaceutical Bill and the right of the people to social services? Did not -the challenge come from the Liberal and Australian Country parties, which sit in Opposition in this chamber ?
Should those parties be returned to power at the next election the social service legislation now on the statute-book would be in danger, because it is well to remember that the Leader of the Opposition has said that an anti-Labour government would remove it.
It may be well to remind honorable members of some previous utterances by the Leader of the Opposition on constitutional matters. Speaking in this chamber on the 2nd November, 193S, the right honorable gentleman said -
The second anomaly to which 1 direct attention has relation to power concerning health. There lias been an enormous growth in the last 40 years in our sense of public responsibility, not only for public health, but also for private health. This great problem is now seen by us as presenting essentially national characteristics. The result is that people who do not read the Constitution and are not acquainted with its terms instinctively turn to the- Commonwealth Government whenever any great problem relating to .public health requires, attention. Yet the fact is, as I now. remind, not honorable members who know it, but the public, that the only power possessed by this Parliament to deal with health is the quarantine power.
That is in the same strain as what Dr. Darcy Cowan said when he referred to the lack of control by this Parliament over matters affecting the health of the people.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) and the honorable member for Northern- Territory (Mr. Blain) indulged in some criticism of the present Government. I think that the latter described government supporters as being “ cuckoo “ or “ commos “, or both, whilst the former said that they were controlled by .the Communist party. ‘ In order to show that the parties in Opposition, not the Labour party, are under Communist influences, I draw attention to a statement made by Mr. R. Dixon, editor of the Communist Review and now assistant secretary of the Communist party, on the 3rd September, 1939, a memorable day. Mr. Dixon said that he was invited by the then Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes) to discuss the merits of communism over the Australian Broadcasting- Commission network. It is difficult to imagine a responsible Minister inviting an outstanding Communist to expound the virtues of communism over the national network.
Was such an offer ever extended to any member of the Labour party to advocate the merits of the case for Labour? The fact is that the parties opposite were then interested, as to-day they -are interested, in giving publicity to communism with a view to disrupt labour organizations so that they would be an easy prey to their opponents. The action of the right honorable member for Worth Sydney at that time time convinces me that the opponents of Labour are definitely linked with the Communist party. Referring to the third bill, which deals with the terms and conditions of employment in industry, the Leader of the Opposition said that the proposed paragraph (xxxiv.a.) will immediately precede the existing paragraph (xxxv.). He went on to say that he expected that paragraph (xxxv.) would be repealed. That is the paragraph which deals with conciliation and arbitration. The right honorable gentleman, and those who follow him, were greatly disappointed to find that paragraph retained.
The greater use of. machinery in industry -has done much to increase production. Industry, therefore, can afford a 40-hour week. If Australia is to step out as a nation, something will have to be done to give to the people an instalment of the “ new order “ for which Austrailans have fought and suffered.
– The arguments which ‘have been successfully used against previous referendum proposals cannot validly be employed on this occasion. In the past, when alterations of the Constitution have been sought, it has been possible to say that although the powers sought might be unexceptionable and capable of being employed to the benefit of the nation, yet the Government for whom the powers were being sought was so untrustworthy and. so villainous as even to be liable to give literal effect to Swift’s “ Polite Proposal “, that, therefore, the transfer of powers should be refused. That argument cannot be employed on this occasion because the referendum proposals are to bo submitted to the people on election day. That means that the additional powers can be used only by parliaments which will succeed this one. Although honorable members may be divided on many questions, there appears- to be unanimity that the next parliament will be led by a great Australian of outstanding energy, ability and sincerity, that his Cabinet colleagues will consist of a band of devoted servants of the nation, and that the rank and file of government supporters will be men determined to improve the lot of the people. Since there is agreement that that will be tie position in the new Parliamentno one has been prepared to deny it - it follows that such a government can indeed be trusted to use wisely and beneficially the powers now being sought. There can be no doubt that if they are used wisely they will be of great advantage to the Australian people. Nor can ihe argument he used against these proposals that has been used on former occasions, and they represent a dangerous and experimental extension of the proper powers of government, because the first proposal merely places beyond doubt powers that have always been claimed for this Parliament and have been consistently used by governments representing both the party to which I belong and our opponents. The second proposal relating to orderly marketing of primary products is also in line with powers that have been employed by various governments, particularly during the war years, and have proved of practical advantage to the farmers of Australia. As to the third power to be sought - to make laws in relation to the terms and conditions of employment - there is nothing new in handing that power to a parliament, . because what parliament is there in the world except this ohe that does not already possess it? It is possessed by every State parliament in Australia, the New Zealand Parliament and the Mother of Parliaments, and no one would claim that it is not a proper power for the Commonwealth Parliament to possess. There can be no claim that the provision of that power to this Parliament represents a new or dangerous extension of the authority of democratic government. Taken together, the three proposals appear to me to represent the foundation of a plan, for a national minimum living standard for all the people of Australia such as we all should seek to obtain. It is argued, however, that while a power in relation to terms and conditions of employment might properly be vested in this Parliament, it would be wrong for the Parliament to employ it for direct legislation to alter hours of employment or to increase the living standards of the people. As to that, I have only to say that when these powers have been granted to this Parliament by the people next election day and when the Labour party has been returned to office, I hope and trust that the power sought in the third proposal will be used legislatively, if necessary, to ensure a reduction of the Standard working week in this country to 40 hours and to ensure a. substantial increase of the minimum living standard of the Australian people.
– in reply - For the convenience of honorable members I propose to give each of them a copy of section 51 of the Constitution with the proposed amendments inserted. It is true that the history of referendums in this country shows several trends. % This debate has certainly illustrated one of them. It is the trend towards shelving matters. When during the currency of the war we last discussed a proposal that, a referendum be taken, the proposal of the Opposition was- that we should shelve it until peace came, when it could 06 looked at without the intrusion of the war. Now that peace has come, it has been suggested, at any rate by some honorable gentlemen opposite, that a constitution convention should be called before we consider these three proposals at all. I agree that if we were considering a general revision of the Australian Constitution from beginning to end in the light of the experience of the last 40 years, something might be said in favour of a, convention called specifically to deal with the whole constitution on the lines of the original conventions; but what we are asking the House and the people to consider are three reforms of the Constitution, which, in our submission, are important .and urgent. One aspect of the matter that has escaped attention in connexion with the suggestion that a convention be held is that in section 12S of the Constitution, which deals with the amending process, it is clearly contemplated that this Parliament will be the originating authority in connexion with proposed alterations. The conventions were called before the Commonwealth was established because there had to be some body representative of the six colonies that could put forward a bill for submission to the Imperial Parliament, which ultimately passed the Australian Constitution Act. That situation was entirely different from that which rules to-day. The Constitution provides for its own amendment, and the authority to commence consideration of amendments is the Commonwealth Parliament. Should we have an elected convention or a nominated convention? I do not suppose any one would advocate a nominated convention. Every one suggests an elected convention. Would it be elected as this House is elected? If so, seats would be contested, and broadly we should have representation and representatives of the s-ame type a,s we have in this House to-day. In other words, we should have in an elected convention a body constituted very similarly to the House, of Representatives. I submit that the debates in this chamber* are similar to those that would take place at a convention. Certainly, the late Mr. Curtin, during the war period, and largely because of the emergency of the war, thought that for the- purpose of post-war reconstruction it would be a good thing to hold a convention representative of all parties in the Commonwealth Parliament and the six State Parliaments so that constitution altera tions could be brought forward on a nonparty basis. That convention was held. All the State Premiers attended, as did leading members of the Opposition in this Parliament. We agreed on formulae for the temporary transfer of certain powers from the States to the Commonwealth for five years after the termination of hostilities. All the State Premiers agreed and practically all the Opposition leaders agreed. The plan was that the States would refer those matters to the Commonwealth, as they are entitled to do under section 51 of the Constitution. If honorable memhers look at section 51 (xxxvii.) they will see that this Parliament is empowered “to’ make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to matters referred to the Parliament of the Commonwealth by the parliament or parliaments of any State or States “. We tried to use that power, but what was the result? In four of the States, references were made, but in two of them the agreed formula was not followed. In the other two States, Victoria and Tasmania, the Parliaments, in effect, made ‘ no reference at all. The result was that the mattter had to come back to the Commonwealth Parliament, which then submitted it to the people by referendum. Some of those who at thevention, which, was not an elected convention, supported the transfer of the powers, opposed the transfer on the hustings. Something tragic is associated with attempts to make our form of government fit the needs of our .people. It is not the fault of any one party, because, at various stages of our history, we have found the opposition party, whether it has been Labour, anti-Labour or nonLabour, opposing referendum proposals because they have been submitted by their poli tical opponents. In any event, I :hin the case for a convention at this si.age to deal with the specific matters referred to in these bills has broken down. It lias not been strongly pressed. The case for a reference of powers by the States te the Commonwealth Parliament also breaks down because Of the failure to have such a reference made on the last occasion. That is why I think the print of section 51 as proposed to be altered will help members. The real question is not what might be done under legislative powers, but whether power to legislate on these three topics will ever be given to the people of Australia acting through this Parliament. If honorable members will look at section 51, I oan illustrate my point in a moment. Aa it stands, the section says -
The Parliament shall . . . have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to-
Taxation . . .
Power to tax is incidental to sovereignty. What would have been the position if at the original Constitution convention. members had risen and said, “ Taxation! But
I do not believe in direct taxation. Therefore put a provision in the Constitution giving power to impose taxation, but only indirect taxation “. That would have been supported because of the great opposition in those days to direct taxation, which existed in 1901, I think, in only one State. Others might have held’ the opposing view and claimed, that the only form of taxa’tion should be direct taxation. I ask honorable members to look down the list of powers in section 51. In paragraph (iv.) we have “borrowing money on the public credit of the Commonwealth This Parliament can pass laws for that purpose. But the critic who. does not like Constitution reform will say, “ Oh yes, but what rate of interest are you going to pay?” Some might say, “No more than the cost of issuance”, others, “Not more than 3 per cent “, others “ not less than 4 per cent.” and so forth. You might have in a situation like that - a body divided, not on whether the people should have the power over the subject-matter, but on how the legislation should be drafted when the power is granted. The same fallacy runs through the whole of this debate. The fathers of federation did not look at the matter in that way. They said that the Commonwealth Parliament should have power to make laws with respect to “banking, other than State banking”. That, of course, protects the interests of the States in their institutions; but if that were proposed to-day, you would have the argument, “ There might be an attempt to socialize or monopolize banking. Yes, we shall give the Parliament power over banking, but so that there shall not be nationalization of banking”. That would be interfering with the discretion, not of the existing Parliament or succeeding parliaments, but of the people of Australia. Take paragraph (xiv.), which refers to insurance. The fathers of the Constitution did not say “ The Commonwealth Parliament can deal with insurance, other than State insurance, but not so that there shall be nationalization of fire, life, marine, or any other form of insurance “. Neither did they say that there had to. be nationalization of insurance. They left it to the wisdom and discretion of the Parliament acting in the interests of the . people of Australia. It is possible to get even more controversial topics if one examines the list of’ 39 subjectmatters. The subject of divorce and matrimonial causes, for instance, is a fruitful field for disputation and provides the same sort of argument that we’ have had here. Take, for instance, subject-matter number xxvii, which deals with immigration and emigration, the great power of controlling the movements of people to. or from Australia.. We might say, “ We want to insert a provision in the Constitution that in no circumstances or at no particular time should a person of a particular race come into Australia “. That, might have been reasonable in 1901; but the Constitution provides that it, is a matter for the Parliament to deal with. It is possible to give similar illustrations in -respect of every one of these powers. The question is whether .in relation to th*e three topics chosen by the Government the peoples should be given an opportunity to express their will on an Australia-wide basis. Whilst debate on the possible abuse of power .is interesting and often, informative, and invaluable as a guide to the legislation that may be passed, it is not a help to us in making the Constitution. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) is well known in connexion with the controlling of pools for the marketing of primary products. He knows a great deal about this work. The theme of his criticism was that orderly marketing of primary products must be under grower control, which he believes to’ be a better form of control than one in which there are too many representatives of the Government or the consumers. But the very slightest consideration will demonstrate that such a limitation could not be placed on such a power. Discretion must be left to the Government in exercising the power. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) referred to the condition of hospitals in certain parts of the north coast of New South Wales. We accept his description of them, which reveals a very serious state of affairs mainly resulting from too few beds being available. Notwithstanding that that is a fact, I do not believe that is any argument against giving to the Commonwealth Parliament some authority to deal with hospital and medical services. On the contrary, 1 believe it to be an argument in favour of the granting of such authority to the Commonwealth. The authorities which, have had a practical monopoly in that regard have been the States themselves, and apparently the exercise of this power by the State of New South Wales has not been altogether successful. There i? no argument, I submit, against the power which is sought here.
Dealing with the industrial power ether honorable members have said that a law might be made in this Parliament which would override a decision of the Arbitration Court. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) suggested that possibility. Whilst it is a possibility, it is a very unlikely one; I cannot imagine this Parliament ever making such a law. If this Parliament is clothed with power to legislate in relation to terms and conditions of employment in industry it might, however, in an appropriate case have to intervene in some great .crisis. However, I suggest, that that would be just as exceptional and unlikely as intervention by a State. Parliament after a decision had been made by the Arbitration Court or by the Industrial Commission of the State. I cannot remember a single case of that having happened in Australia. Criticism of this kind is but .another illustration of the fallacy that in order to determine whether a power should be granted to the Commonwealth Parliament one should conjure up possible abuses of such a power. Abuses could, of course, have taken place under every power vested in the Commonwealth. Under the power of taxation the Commonwealth could take away from a man everything that he owns. The Commonwealth’s power in respect of taxation is not limited to income tax; it extends to the imposition of a tax on capital values. In these matters we have to trust to the wisdom of the legislature.
One of the most extraordinary arguments was advanced by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), who said there was something sinister in the bill relating to the power dealing with organized marketing. The honorable member saw something sinister even in the word “ organized “. Yet we find tha t word in the published platform of the Australian Country party of the 1st June, 1938.
– We could supply the right honorable gentleman with more up-to-date platforms.
– Although the document from which I am quoting may not be up to date it contains the phrase “assistance for organized marketing”. The honorable member for New England made a great point, too, about “ primary products “, which, I admit is a difficult term to define. The honorable member and others argued that it was quite clear that butter could not be a primary product, claiming that butter made on the faim by the producer was quite different from butter made in a factory under a process more do? ‘y approaching what wo regard as ‘manufacturing.
– It is quite different in the income tax legislation.
– That is so, but that legislation defines, jot a primary product but a primary producer. We are dealing, not with a person, but with a product. It cannot be claimed that butter made on a farm is a primary product, tut that if its manufacture takes place at a later stage in a butter factory it is not a primary product. At all events there seemed to be no doubt in the minds of members of the Australian .Country party when the party’s platform’ was drafted in 1938, because what they were then aiming at was the establishment of fair market values for butter and other primary products. Whatever the parties in Opposition may say against these proposals the question should be approached from the point of view, not of the possible misuse of a power, but, whether that power is national in character and should be exercised by this Parliament.
I propose to refer briefly to each of the three powers, in order to meet if I can some of the difficulties which have been expressed by . honorable members in rela-tion to them. The first is the. industrial power which we ask be given to this Parliament to make laws with respect to “ terms and conditions of employment in industry, but not so as to authorize any form of industrial conscription “. This aim is expressed slightly differently in various proposals that have come before this Parliament ; but, broadly, it is intended to give the Commonwealth Parliament power to fix terms and conditions of industrial employment. Support for such a power during the last 20 or 30 years has been very, great. It has come from persons of all parties who have studied this problem and experienced the difficulties of administering the power. One of those whom I think I should mention is Mr. Justice Higgins, the famous Judge who was one of the early presidents of the Federal Arbitration Court. He had vast experience in that jurisdiction, and established the codes on which the later judges built. He is famous throughout the world for his work in that connexion. When, in 3920, the government of the day asked Mr. Justice Higgins for a suggested amendment of the power, he put forward a proposal that power should be given to this Parliament todeal with industrial matters generally, because the existing power dealt with “ conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of one State “. As the Leader df the Opposition has pointed out, almost every word and every sentence of that has led to litigation. I was looking through the cases summarized in the book on the Australian Constitution that has just been published, and I found that they covered page after page on every clause. In these eases questions were asked as to what was meant by conciliation, what did arbitration mean, and what constituted an industrial dispute. It took twenty years for the High Court to lay down rules which would determine how an industrial dispute was created. In order to bring the case within the jurisdiction of the court there had to be a dispute ; the court could not deal with the matter until there was a dispute. There arose out of that a system under which logs were served by one side and counter demands by the other; but that was not enough. It was often argued in the court that the logs were not pressed forward, or that there was not enough seriousness about the demands, or perhaps not enough dislocation of industry to bring the case within the jurisdiction of Mie court. If a strike occurred it was apparent that the dispute was real, but it was at a very late stage that the court intervened in these matters. Under the system which grew up under the- existing power in 1935, disputes were very often manufactured.
– Is not that still the case’
– In connexion with conciliation and arbitration, it is still the case.
– And will continue to be the case?
– It is still the case if that is the power which remains in the Constitution. It will not he the case if this proposed alteration be made.
– Placitum (xxxv.) is not amended.
– That is so, but placitum (xxxv.) does not govern the proposed new placitum (xxxiv.a.).
– Placitum (xxxv.) will still have the same meaning.
– Yes, but the’ new placitum (xxxiv.a.) will have an entirely broader meaning, as I shall show. Apart from Mr. Justice Higgins’s opinion in support pf this proposal, there is the advocacy of the right honorable member for North Sydney, who put up various proposals with this object in view. Some of them were very nearly adopted. The most striking support of all is contained in two speeches by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) in 1933 and 1V)38. Those statements put the case so well for this power being conferred upon the Commonwealth that it is hardly necessary for me to add one word to them. The right honorable. gentleman has never said in this debate that he does not still hold those opinions. I do not twit him with having changed his opinion. I submit that he still holds that opinion’, and that the case is unanswerable. After having dealt with other possible courses, the Leader of the Opposition said in 1933-
The third course, and, in spite of past heresies, 1 am to-day driven to it, is to amend section 51 by giving to the Commonwealth Parliament, power to legislate generally in respect of all industrial matters.
That is precisely the proposal contained in the Constitution Alteration (Industrial Employment) Bill, which proposes to alter the Constitution by inserting after placitum (xxxiv.) the following placitum : - (xxxiv.a.-). Terms and conditions of employment in industry, but not so as to authorize any form of industrial conscription :
– The Leader of the Opposition is not a heretic now.
Hr. EVATT.- No, the right honorable gentleman was very careful not to put a different view. The reasons which he gave for the opinion cannot he answered, and no attempt has been made to answer them, in this debate. He dealt with the argument that the. honorable member for Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) advanced regarding centralization. That was a very important part of the argument. The contention of the Leader of the Opposition on that point was -
The immediate objection to this proposal is that it appears to involve a tremendous centralizing of ,power on a matter which, more Ulan most matters, frequently requires local and particular treatment. The answer to that objection is, paradoxical though it may seem, that you never will be able tn get a local treatment of a local dispute until you give all power to the Commonwealth. As I have endeavoured to prove, the present sub-section (xxxv.) has almost compelled the aggregation of disputes.
The matter cannot be raised in the ‘Commonwealth Arbitration Court unless persons in at least two States co-operate to make an interstate dispute.
– That will still be true, under the alteration proposed by the Attorney-‘General.
– If I make the first point good, that is the very alteration which I propose and which the Leader of the Opposition supported years ago. The right honorable gentleman adduced arguments which have not been answered, and ite repeated them with equal vigour, and just as convincingly, in .the budget debate on the 22nd November, 1938. Consequently, we have, in support of this proposal, an imposing list of names - Mr. Justice Higgins, who founded the system nf industrial arbitration, the right honorable member for North Sydney who was associated with all the great struggles in the pioneering work of arbitration in the Commonwealth and New South Wales, and the Leader of the Opposition himself, who probably has a greater working knowledge of the Commonwealth arbitration system in the last twenty years than has any other person in Australia, They all reach a similar conclusion. Why should not we accept that view? We insure a safeguard against industrial conscription, which it is reasonable to include. Why should it not be accepted? Tt is said, especially by members of the Australian Country party, that it would give to the Commonwealth Parliament power to declare a standard working week of 40 hours. That is quite true. It certainly would do that. The view which the Government takes is that, as a general rule. industrial disputes should be dealt with by a tribunal, but this proposal would certainly give such a power to the Commonwealth Parliament. Then we reach this extraordinary position: If we study the history of industrial arbitration, we shall find that the judges .exercising jurisdiction in dealing with standard hours have said repeatedly that they look to the legislature for guidance as to what should be the standard hours - that the fixing of standard hours should be a matter not, for the courts, but for the Parliament. The first -judge to make thai statement was Mr. Justice Heydon, President of the N3ew South Wales Arbitra tion Court, when a reduction of standard hours from 4S to 44, or perhaps some lesser number, was sought. Later, Mr. Justice Higgins adopted a similar view. A completely new light is thrown on this particular aspect of the controversy when we read, these references. In 1920, Mr. Justice Higgins, in the Timber Workers case, awarded a standard working week of 44 hours. Mr. Maughan, counsel for the employers, who objected to the reduction said : -
I simply want to explain that generally my association does take the view that this matter of the change in the standard hours of work for Australia is one rather for the legislature.
I do not know what legislature Mr. Maughan meant. He could ,not have meant the Commonwealth legislature, which had no power in that matter. I suppose that he meant the State legislatures. Mr. Justice Higgins then said-
I shall be very glad if the Legislature would take it in hand, but as it has not done so, I must act. The difficulty is that this question is continually coming up before me. It is not merely in th’e Timber Workers Onion case, but it is continually coining up before mc, and though I must decide only as to the Timber Workers Union I am anxious to get all the information or the light that can be thrown on it from other industries.
In his judgment (20 C.L.R., S46) Mr; Justi ce ‘ Higgins said -
I have waited for many years for the parliaments to speak, but they have not spoken. At present, in four of the States, there is no legislation even for a 48 hours week. In Victoria, there is no limit of hours for adults in factories other than that which may be imposed by a wages board in a particular industry. Some definite conclusion must be reached on the subject,
I do not desire to be misunderstood. I am not saying that we should express an opinion now as to whether such a matter as the standard working week should be dealt with primarily by the. legislature. My own opinion is that primarily, ,it is proper for the court to deal with the matter, but the legislature must possess authority over all aspects of industrial matters in accordance with its discretionary powers. The view of Mr. Justice Higgins showed that arbitration courts looked to the Parliament for guidance, and some States did pass legislation relating to this matter. In 1920, the Parliament of New South Wales passed an act directing the State Industrial Commission not to grant a working week exceeding 44 hours except in respect of certain industries. In 1921, the act was repealed.
– It was, after remarks by Mr. Justice Higgins in 1920 that this Parliament provided that standard hours should be dealt with by the Full Court.
– That is quite correct,
– It was provided that three judges should deal with matters relating to standard hours.
– That is. true. When Mr. Justice Higgins was considering a reduction of hours from 48 to 44 a week, a bill was introduced into this Parliament to prevent him from completing the inquiry unless two other judges sat with him. A lengthy debate took place in the
Parliament as to whether that law should apply to that case, and finally, it was decided that the law should not apply to the Timber Workers’ case but should be the rule regarding all future cases. That point tells against the idea that’ these matters should not be dealt with by the Parliament. If the Parliament considers that standard hours should be stabilized and no reduction should be made unless three judges deal with the case, that is an indication of the Parliament’s will that, unless a strong .case is presented, no reduction shall be made.
I come now to the principal point made by the Leader of the Opposition in connexion with the addition of this power. Proposed new placitum (xxxiv.a.) provides -
Terms and conditions of employment in industry, but not so as to authorize any form of industrial conscription:
When honorable members read that paragraph, and the conciliation and ‘ arbitration power at present in the Constitution, they can appreciate the argument of the Leader of the Opposition. The right honorable gentleman declared that there will be no power under the new placitum to deal with conciliation and arbitration except in accordance with placitum (xxxv.) of the Constitution. It will still have the limitations on conciliation and arbitration which have already been expressed. That will be, he said, the code for dealing with the subject.
– I put ‘ it this way : Either placitum (xxxv.) will continue to he the only provision in relation to conciliation and arbitration, or it will be mc arn nar] ess.
– We shall assume that it will not be meaningless, so the only Dower of conciliation and arbitration will be that already in the Constitution.
– There is no obligation to use it?
– That is a different point. The contention of the Leader of the Opposition is a more serious argument if it has any substance. It would be that, although we give to this Parliament power to deal* with industrial conditions generally, .we need not set up any other form of arbitration .except that contained in placitum (xxxv.). In a recent decision of the High Court in Pidoto v. Victoria (68 C.L.R., 101) I find a complete answer to that argument. The Chief Justice, Sir John Latham, said in his judgment-
The first objection to the Regulation submitted by the State of Victoria is based upon suction 51. (xxxv. ) of the Constitution-
That is the section on arbitration - which confers upon the Commonwealth Parliament power to make laws in respect to conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State, lt is contended that this provision implies a negative - that it means not only that the Commonwealth Parliament shall have power to legislate in relation to industrial disputes there defined-
Those are the interstate disputes - and in the milliner there prescribed-
That is of conciliation and arbitration - but also that the Commonwealth Parliament shall not have power to deal with any otherindustrial matter or with any industrial dispute in any other manner.
In my opinion this argument cannot be supported. Section 51 (xxxv.) is a positive provision conferring a specific power.’ The particular terms in which this power is conferred ure not, in my opinion, so expressed as to be capable of being so construed as to impose a limitation upon other powers positively conferred. Further, if section 51 (xxxv.) were construed so as to prevent the Parliament from dealing with industrial matters except under that specific provision.* similar reasoning would lead to the conclusion that the Commonwealth Parliament could not (under any legislative power) provide for the use of conciliation and arbitration in relation to any other matter than interstate industrial disputes.
That is broadly the view of the Leader of the Opposition - lt must, I think, be conceded, for example, that thu Commonwealth Parliament can, in legislating with respect to the Public Service nf the Commonwealth (Constitution, section 52 ( ii. ) , to provide for conciliation and arbitration in relation to matters such as wages, conditions and hours, whether ‘or not any dispute about those matters is industrial, and whether or not it extends beyond the limits of any one State. In my opinion the objection to the Industrial Peace Regulations based upon section 51’ (xxxv.) of the Constitution-
Those were the war-time regulations passed under the Commonwealth’s defence power - must be rejected, ‘because it finds no support in the words of this provision for the implied, prohibition suggested.
As a matter of fact, the High Court in a ease in 1930, or 1931, dealt with a somewhat similar point. The argument there was that the arbitration power could not deal with railway disputes because of the reference to railways elsewhere in section 51 ; and the court, in rejecting that argument said, in substance, that it had to look at each power separately, that each was a grant of power, and the court could not read it down by reference to other powers. However, that case is riot so direct to the point as the recent edge I have mentioned. [Extension of time granted.] Is it not clear that the whole list of powers in section 51 are simply subject-matters of power*, and that there is overlapping in many. cases? Let us look at proposed new placitum (xxxiv.a.) and placitum (xxxv.) together. One would not construe the new power, by reference to placitum (xxxv.) because, for one reason, the new power comes into the Constitution 46 years later. It is not as though they were put in the Constitution at the one time. Therefore proposed paragraph (xxxiv.a) will do what the Leader of the Opposition advocated in 1.938, that is, it will give the Commonwealth complete power over industrial matters. And with what result? There would be no necessity to create a dispute. The court could deal with the matter whether it was a dispute within a single State or an interstate dispute. It, would enable the court to take up matters without the procedural difficulties contained in the federal arbitration system, and, broadly speaking, the Government and the Parliament would be in a much freer position to deal with the question of industrial justice, seeing that industries are supported by tariffs, and financially by the Commonwealth and State .Parliaments.
– The Government would achieve most of that, objective by deleting the last words in placitum (xxxv.).
– No. I admit that the deletion of those words would’ extend the arbitration power; but arbitration connotes a dispute, one party demanding something and the other party refusing it. That is not the basis pf.. the State industrial commissions. They act upon a claim without any dispute at all.
– May I put ‘one further question about this matter which I think is not touched by either of the cases cited by the Attorney-General. I agreed in thecourse of my speech that the expression, “ terms and conditions of employment in industry “, taken by itself would coverthe whole gamut of the settlement of wages and conditions, and under thoseawards standing by themselves you. could set up a court, or not, according to your discretion, and could legislate direct, or not according to your discretion. I take it that the Attorney-General will agree with that? If he does so, I ask what, meaning now attaches to placitum (xxxv.) ?
– The honorable member’s point is that the new power -is sowide and embracing that you could do what is already contained in placitum (xxxv.) under the new power. That is to say, you might do it. There is great force in that contention. For instance we could,, in a system of arbitration, if we set it. u,p .under the new power, include arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State. But it is not certain that we shall deal with’ if in that way. We may not do so. Parliament might think fit not to make the exerciseof the jurisdiction dependent upon the existence cf a dispute. But we are leaving something in the Constitution which. might become, unnecessary.
– And the effect would: be the same in your case if you -repealed placitum xxxv. altogether.
– I do not say that, itwould, but I can see the reason for theright, honorable member’s contention. I am not, repealing it, because I do not want it to be stated for one moment that theGovernment’ does not wish to retain, arbitration. If we did that, the argument of the Opposition would be that theGovernment was trying to get rid of conciliation and arbitration, and wanted1 to settle all industrial disputes in Canberra.
– The Government is merely ring-barking arbitration - killing: it, while allowing it to stand.
– The proposal to cut out. all reference to arbitration from the Constitution would be regarded as something: worse than ring-barking; it would be like- chopping down a tree which, with all its faults, has grown to considerable proportions during the last 46 years. The honorable member’s course, if he is in’ support of the new clause, is to move to omit placitum (xxxv.). I promise that if he moves to omit placitum (xxxv.) the Government will consider the matter. However, 1 prefer- to retain it.
I pass now to marketing. The proposed power is in relation to the organized marketing of primary products. This is covered in proposed new paragraph (i.a.) ; and proposed new subsection 2 of section 51 provides that that power will not be subject to section 92. What has the debate revealed in relation to that? The honorable member .for Indi (Mr. McEwen) made the point that that power does not deal with production. It assumes that there are primary products coming into existence and gives to the Commonwealth power to pass laws for the organized marketing of those, products. Some cornmen t was made about the term “organized”; but it is equivalent to orderly; that is to say, the power must be exer cised so ‘as to provide a system of marketing which will ensure that the primary products of the country shall be marketed in a way which will produce the best possible price for the crop as a whole, or the groups of commodities treated’ as a whole. That is what the phrase means as it is used in the platform of the Country party, and 1 do not think that it means anything else according to the dictates of common sense.
– The Attorney-General recognizes that organized marketing is a means to the stabilization of prices.
– Yes; so that the farmer will obtain the best possible price for his commodity in the existing circumstances. Experience of gluts has shown that this objective is achieved through orderly marketing. It is true, as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, that in the 1937 referendum that power was not given in this form to the Commonwealth. Alongside the Commonwealth’s limited power in this respect the States had control of domestic marketing within their boundaries, with the result that co-operation between the Commonwealth and one, or more, of the
State legislatures was required. If this power is granted the Commonwealth can do everything necessary, or incidental, to the organized marketing of primary products.
– But nothing in respect of the prices of primary products.
– Whilst the honorable member is correct in pointing out that price is the important thing, this is a means to that end. If the Government were to ask for power under the Constitution to fix prices permanently, the discussion would be transferred to a field which could not be limited to primary products. The purpose of organized marketing is to obtain the best price for the pooled commodity. Members of the Australian Country party have always striven to get the best price- through this system ; and it will be for the representatives of that party, the Labour party and other parties, when the relevant legislation comes before Parliament, to make sure that the conditions of marketing will be such that the goods will be presented to the consumer in the most attractive form so that the producer will s.et the utmost value for his products. It is useless to say that the proposed power does not include the fixation of prices; it does. Experience has shown us that the producers get the best prices in this way. We do not take a direct power over production.
– The Commonwealth has an incidental power over production.
– That may be, but the essence of this power is to deal with primary products and the marketing of primary products in an orderly way, and to the best possible advantage through the system determined by the government. It may be grower-control, or governmentp] us-grower control. There is nothing in any statute passed by any State with respect to the marketing of primary products which fixes the prices of any product.
– Control- over the wheat acreage is the only control which enables this Parliament to guarantee a price for “wheat.
– I am not dealing with guaranteed prices.
– That is the purpose of it.
– Yes ; these are the means to the end, and the end will be attained through the efficiency of the means. But there is no marketing legislation in Queensland, or New South Wales, and I do not think in any other State, which could not, be covered by this power.. [. admit that were it a matter of guaranteeing a price and purchasing a commodity, other considerations might arise. I want the House to consider only the question whether this Parliament, in the interests of the producers -of Australia, should have the power to pass laws, selected by it, which will ensure that primary products shall be marketed in an orderly manner and be sold to the best advantage. Would that be a good or a bacl thing? Not one member of the Australian Country party can say that it would be a bad thing, because the orderly marketing of primary products has always been a plank in the party’s platform.
Mr.mcewen. - I should say that it would be quite inadequate. A guaranteed price is an essential feature of stability.
– There is an old French saying that “ the best is the enemy of the good “. I do not claim that this is the best thing; nevertheless, it will be good for the primary producer, even though it will not give to him everything he wants. It is a step forward towards the objective of better conditions for the primary producers of Australia, and it is the duty of every one who represents them to support it, subject to one qualification. The honorable members for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden), Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) and Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) almost supported it in this House. They were puzzled in regard to one or two aspects, but obviously were anxious to overcome their doubts, if they could do so, particularly - if I may say so- by having a definition of “ primary products “. I do nor, know whether the. Leader of the Australian Country party is irrevocably committed to the closing part of his speech, during which his rhetoric led him into some misstatements, one of which was very serious, namely, that the late Mr. Curtin had been responsible for a pamphlet dealing with the 1936 marketing referendum, from which he read a passage. I checked his quotation, and discovered that Mr. Curtin had had nothing whatever to do with it.
– It was the case for “ No “, issued on behalf of the Labour party. .
– However that may be, the right honorable gentleman was in error. Mr. Curtin did not authorize the opposition to that proposal. It is perfectly true that the Labour party was divided on the matter at the time; but Mr. Curtin had no share whatever in the production of that pamphlet. I hope that the right honorable gentleman will check that statement.
– It was stated to be the . official document of the Labour party.
– Under the statute, it had to be authorized . by members supporting the case in Parliament, and Mr. Curtin was not one of them. I do not think that the right honorable gentleman was a member of this House at that time. I did not attempt to embody in the bill a definition of “ primary products “. In my lack of knowledge of country matters, I thought that butter was a primary product, whether it was made on a farm or in a factory. I could not see how it could change from a primary to a secondary product -because it was produced in a larger quantity or its quality was slightly different. Having gone into the matter very carefully, I propose to bring down in committee an amendment which will not Jimit the meaning of “ primary products “. It is in these terms -
Without in any way limiting the generality of the expression “ primary products “ in paragraph (iA) , that expression shall be deemed to include flour and other wheat products, butter, cheese, and other milk products, dried fruit and other fruit products, and sugar.
– What about canned fruits ? « ,
- Mr. McCarthy, secretary to the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, whom I have consulted, is satisfied that those who put fruit in a saleable form in cans will be covered, because what they produce may well be described as “ other fruit products “.I regard that as a sound opinion. [Further extension of time granted.] I do not suppose it will be suggested that wheat is not a primary product; therefore it need not be mentioned specifically in the amendment. I believe that I have covered most of the borderline cases. I am not making provision for the obvious cases. I am sure that all the doubts of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) will be resolved now that butter is being, formally declared a primary product.
The last matter with which I want to deal is social services. The honorable member for Indi, for some unknown reason, has submitted an amendment that the bill be withdrawn and ‘redrafted as two bills. We are proposing to place three questions before the people. That is not enough for him ; he wants four. He desires that the first bill shall- deal with the provision of the maternity allowance, widow’s pensions, child endowment, unemployment, benefits to students and family allowances ; and that the second shall deal with sickness and hospital benefits and medical and dental services. We could, or course, submit a separate question in respect of each of the social services mentioned. I have not heard in this House any objection, even by the honorable member for Indi, to legislation directed towards the provision by the Commonwealth of the social services that are dealt with in this long list. The honorable member for Indi argued that controversy might be a ro used .regarding sickness and hospital benefits and medical and dental services; therefore, they might be dealt with in a different manner. The manner of dealing with th’em will be for this Parliament to determine. For some extraordinary reason, he wants to subtract sickness and hospital benefits from the list of social services with respect to which the Commonwealth may make provision. Why should not the Commonwealth Parliament have the power to make provision with respect to that matter? Why should that question be put to the people separately? I submit that there is no case for separation.
– What I said was that powerful vested interests in the medical profession will organize opposition to that proposal.
– We shall cope with them ; and if the honorable member will assist us, we shall successfully combat them. There will be vested interests opposed to every alteration of the Constitution. As soon as the campaign begins it will be found that, as occurred on the last occasion, the case for the proposals will be misrepresented all over the Commonweath. We cannot help that. Wo must have our case stated fairly. I believe that the honorable member for Indi means to imply that he is against the organization of such vested interests.
– Act on what I said, not on what you consider I meant to imply.
– The honorable gentleman said that the reason in favour of separation is that vested interests will organize opposition against the second part of the proposal. I decline to separate them. All of them are parts of the system of social services. This proposal, if. accepted by the people, will not compel the Commonwealth Parliament to legislate in respect of any particular form of benefit. ‘ The form will be for the Parliament to determine. All of these matters are related to each other ; all of them belong to the system of social services. The bill is described as a’ social services bill, and there is no occasion whatever for the proposed separation. .
– Does not the right honorable gentleman agree that, because of the unpopularity of the proposals in relation to sickness and hospital benefits and medical and dental services, there may be a risk of the defeat of all of them?
– Not if I have the assistance of independent minded gentlemen like the honorable member. Why should it be unpopular to ask the people to give to their Parliament the power to make provision on their behalf for medical and dental services? I appreciate the honorable member’s desire and intention to assist, I ask him and others who have spoken in a similar strain to support the bill in its present form. .If they prefer a system of national insurance in connexion with some of these benefits, they will be a’t perfect liberty to make such provision should these proposals be accepted by the people.
– Would not the last proposal, if accepted, give to the Commonwealth the power to nationalize all medical services?
– In my second-reading speech, I stated that it would not, and.l now repeat that opinion. What is the most important consideration in this debate? It goes deeper than a detailed examination of the bills. It arises in this House from time to time, occasionally in debates on’international affairs and on constitutional affairs. It is this: Are we to view such questions as Australians, and not as members of a particular State or as people who object to constitutional change? The Constitution is only an instrument, and the decision will rest with the people of Australia - a self-governing democracy. In putting forward these proposals, we have, established our case. They are specific. Any rate, the case that we intend to submit - with, I hope, the support of some honorable members opposite - will be the case for Australia.
Question put -
That the wards proposed to be left out (Mr. McE wen’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. j. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . . . 28
Question so resolved in the- affirmative.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– As this is a bill to amend the Constitution, the provisions of section 128 of ‘ the Constitution must be observed. Therefore, the division bells must be rung again.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. j. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . 56
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section fifty-one of the Constitution is altered by inserting after paragraph (xxiii. ) the following paragraph: - (xxiii.a. ) The provision of maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services, benefits to students and family allowances:”.
– Through an oversight, no express reference was made in the bill to pharmaceutical benefits, on the ground that they were already covered. I therefore move, and 1 am sure that I do so with the acquiescence of the committee -
That, in proposed new paragraph (xxiii.a.), after the word “ unemployment “, the word “ pharmaceutical,” bc inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
. - I move -
That, in proposed new paragraph (xxiii.a.), the following words bo left put:-“ sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services “.
I move this amendment for the reasons stated in my second-reading speech. The experience of the Government during the last four or five years shows that it cannot successfully approach the subject of a national health service in the way it is attempting. It forced the Pharmaceutical Benefits Bill through the House during an all-night sitting, but it has not yet been able to reach an agreement with the chemists. I have no objection to the Commonwealth having power to legislate in regard to public health, but the matter should be dealt with in an amendment covering all phases of the subject. The Attorney-General directed our attention to the list of powers con- ! erred on the Commonwealth by the Constitution. In that document, the powers are stated clearly and crisply. For instance, it is stated that the Commonwealth
Parliament shall have power to legislatein respect of trade and commerce, taxation, posts and telegraphs and other like services, quarantine, invalid and oldagepensions, &c. The Government’s present proposal provides that the Commonwealth Parliament shall have power to legislate for -
The provision of maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services, benefits to students, and family allowances.
To include such a’ hotch-potch of items is to make a mockery of section 51. As the Government would not accept the amendment of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), it should, at least, frame workmanlike proposals of its own in regard to public health. Its attempt to deal with the matter from the top downwards is stupid, and must lead to confusion and conflict. For instance, the Commonwealth has been paying a subsidy of so many shillings a day for each hospital bed, when the fact is that we are hopelessly short of hospital beds. In fact, the need for hospital accommodation is even greater than the need for houses. We should make a frontal attack on this problem.
Sitting suspended from 11.50 p.m. till 12.20 a.m. (Wednesday).
Wednesday, 10 April 19£6.
– I move -
That, in proposed new paragraph (xxiii.a.). after the word “ services “ the following words and brackets be inserted: - “ (but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription)”.
In my earlier remarks on the bill I advanced my reasons for thinking that the expression “medical and dental services “ could very well support a proposal for the nationalization of the medical and dental professions. . I do not want to repeat the reasons which I then gave, but as the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), in his reply, did not add anything to what he had said in his second-reading speech I wish the position to ‘be made quite clear. The matter could easily be put beyond question. In my amendment I have taken the liberty of borrowing a form of words in the Constitution Alteration (Industrial Employment) Bill. In that measure, the expression used is, “ Terms and conditions of employment in industry but - not so as to authorize any form of industrial conscription”. Although we have heard very little about it, I have no doubt that those words were put in that bill in order to allay any fears that a broad, power might be used to produce conscription of a form to which the Government and its supporters object. T have merely adapted the same language to this bill. I would never object to medical and dental services being provided for the people under some proper government scheme. I have no objection to the._ Commonwealth having power to make proper laws in relation to medical and dental services, but so long as there is doubt - and I entertain grave doubts on the matter - as to whether that- power does not authorize the nationalization of these two professions, their members are entitled to be protected against conscription just as are industrial workers under the bill I have mentioned. This, is a perfectly fair proposition: If industrial workers are to be put beyond the danger of industrial conscription, then what is good for them should be good for professional workers also.
– I have given consideration to the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) which was circulated some time ago. It is perfectly true, as the right honorable gentleman said, that he has borrowed certain words from the bill dealing with industrial matters, but the Government had previously borrowed the same set of words from the National Security Bill introduced by the right honorable gentleman when he was Attorney-General. I believe that one good turn deserves another, and that if industrial workers are entitled to be protected against conscription members of the’ medical and dental professions are entitled to similar protection. I, therefore, have pleasure in accepting the amendment.
.I am glad that the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) is not upset about the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), hut I cannot see that it will serve any useful purpose. In my opinion, it is merely a legal contribution to the measure which will serve no practical purpose. However, if it -will give any stability to the bill and remove from members of the medical and dental professions any fear that they will be conscripted, it can do no harm. There appears to be a good deal of fear as to the effect of this measure, but I cannot imagine any government telling members of the medical or dental professions that they must do this or that. If that were done, what kind of service could be expected from the men affected? .Should it be proposed to place those professions on a national basis, the people concerned will know that the time has arrived for something to be done. Every power proposed to be vested in the Commonwealth already resides in the States, and, therefore, whether or not those powers be transferred makes little difference. I should imagine that the professions would be safer under the wider powers of the Commonwealth than with those powers in the hands of the States, and, therefore, the transferring of powers is not likely to be inimical to members of the medical and dental professions. The present keen demand for the services of medical men and dentists may not always exist; the time may come when men in these professions will ask the Government to take action to assist them.
– Does ‘ the honorable member intend to vote against the amendment ?
– No; but I fail to see what contribution the verbiage of the amendment makes to the bill.
– It is not my amendment; it is an amendment of the Attorney-General embodied in another bill.
– Anyway I cannot imagine any government wanting to conscript a professional class. If any government did try to do that it would, he an approach entirely new to me. However, if both legal gentlemen are agreeable, I have no alternative but to accept the situation.
– The honorable member for Denison (Dr.. Gaha,), who I am pleased to see is getting closer to the treasury bench, says that he cannot imagine any government conscripting professional men. In Europe lately there there has been a man hunt for professional men. They have even been kidnapped. If it were not for the proposed amendment the honorable member might be absent for two months without leave of absence and have to forfeit his seat. “We would not know where he was, as we do not know where he is in regard to this amendment.
.Although the Attorney-General- (Dr. Evatt) has . accepted the. . amendment, I do not think it is necessary in view of the fact that another bill with which we shall soon be dealing specifically provides that no class of the community, professional or otherwise, shall be’ subject to industrial . conscription. That provision will safeguard the medical profession. I see no reason why ki the Constitution we should extend special privileges to any section of- the community. The Opposition is drawing a red herring across the trail in order to confuse the minds of the public. It is endeavouring to whip up in this country the belief that we want the powers provided for in this bill for the express purpose of nationalizing medical and dental services. That is entirely, false. The Government wants these powers so that it shall be able to ensure a comprehensive range of social services for - the Australian people. If there should be a change of the set-up of the medical and dental professions, honorable members may rest assured that the change will ‘be made on a basis of equity. We should not fall for this proposal which the Opposition has made solely for the purpose of misrepresenting the situation to the people, and I regret; that the Attorney-General has accepted the amendment. The most bitter opponents of the introduction of the New Zealand medical benefits scheme were leading members ‘of the British Medical Association. I do not stand for throwing out a sop to that’ organization.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, ‘ agreed to.
Preamble agreed to.’
A bill for an act to alter tbe Constitution by empowering the Parliament to make laws for the provision of maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services, benefits to students and family allowances.
Amendment (by Dr. Evatt) agreed to-
That, after the word “ unemployment,” theword “ pharmaceutical,” be inserted.
Title, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments, and an amended title: report - by . leave - adopted.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) - by leave - proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time-
– I desire at ‘this stage totake a point of order, concerning the ruling that, you, Mr. Speaker, gave a . little earlier on the question of the counting of the vote on these bills. Section 128 of the Constitution provides that a proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution must, be passed by an absolute majority of each House of the Parliament. Thesecondreading is not the passing of thebill any more than i= the first reading. If it be right to have the House counted on the second reading, it is equally right to have it counted on the first reading,: because each is a stage of the bill; but the bill does not pass until it is read a third time. Many honorable “membersmight vote for the second reading, anticipating an opportunity in committee of, haying amendments made which would make it acceptable, and then support the third reading. We have seen that, happen time after time. Consequently, a great deal of time will be occupied on these bills if we have to go through the process of having tellers appointed and the House counted when a division has perhaps not even been asked for at a stage when the bill is not passing at all. The point I make is that the bill passes this House at its third reading and that the third reading is the . only stage at which it becomes necessary to determine whether an absolute majority of the House has voted for it. The matter is of general interest, because it arises from time to time, and I am raising it now with profound respect for what you, Mr. Speaker, said earlier, because we ought to establish once and . for all a uniform practice on this matter.
-I think I ought to clarify’ the matter. My personal view coincides with that of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) that the bill passes the House at its third reading. ‘ To comply with the Constitution it is absolutely essential that a count of the House take place at that stage; but there is another point of view, which I think is held by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), that at some subsequent time a point might be taken that the bill was not properly passed, unless a count was made on both the second reading and the third reading.
– And the first reading?
– Although I am not a lawyer, I am the custodian of the rights and privileges of this House. As a doubt has been raised by a legal member of the Government, who, in my opinion, was entitled to suggest that, so that no technical legal point might at some, subsequent date destroy either the legislation of this Parliament or, conceivably, the verdict of the people, I consider that 1 should so direct the business of this House as to overcome any uncertainty in the matter. For that reason I took such action as would enable me to affirm that the second reading of the bill was agreed to by the requisite majority.
– This point was raised several years, ago. I then ascertained that it was the view of the Crown Law authorities, based on an opinion originally given, I believe, by Sir Robert Garran, that it would be wiser to ascertain the agreement of an absolute majority in respect of both the. second and third readings of bills providing for an alteration of the Constitution. I must state frankly that my own personal opinion leans in the direction of that expressed by Mr. Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), namely, that there can be only one passing of a bill. The practice which successive Attorneys-General have acted upon is to ask for a division of the House on both the second and third readings unless some point is taken that on the motion for the second-reading the general principles of a bill, were explored and that on the motion for the third reading the subject-matter of the bill was dealt -with in a slightly different way. I much prefer that the practice adopted previously be not altered on this occasion. The taking of the divisions would not very much delay the passage of the bill. ‘ .
– If the requisite majority carried a motion for the second reading of a bill and on the third reading the requisite majority was not obtained, that would complicate the position.
– In that event both Mr. Speaker and I would put the matter to a. tribunal for decision. I recognize the force of the point made by the honorable member for Wentworth. Subject to the acquiescence of the Leader of the- Opposition I believe that we should not depart from established practice on this occasion. As a matter of- fact, 1 am so pleased at the majority in favour of the second reading of the bill, that I am expecting an even greater majority to support the third reading.
Question put -
That thebill be nowread a third time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . . . 53
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 27th March (vide page 651), - on motion by Dr. Evatt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question put. The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . “ i… 53
– There being 54 “ Ayes “ and one “ No “, I certify that the second reading of the bill has been agreed to by an absolute majority of members of the House as required by the Constitution.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Section fifty-one of the Constitution is altered -
by inserting after paragraph (i. ) the following paragraph : - “ (ia) Organized marketing of primary products: ‘’; and
by adding at the end of that section the following sub-section : - «’ (2.) The power of the Parliament to make laws under paragraph (i’.A.) of the last preceding subsection may be exercised notwithstanding anything contained in section ninety-two of this Constitution.”.
– I desire to move -
That clause 2 be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following clause: - “ 2. The Constitution is altered by inserting after section 105a the following section: - 105b. - (I.) The Commonwealth may at the wish , of the relevant producers to be ascertained in such manner, as the Parliament pre- scribes make agreements with the States with respect to the production and marketing of agricultural, pastoral, horticultural, . viticultural and dairying products. (2.)The Parliament may make laws for validating any such agreement made before the commencement of this section. (3.) The Parliament may make laws for the carrying out by the parties thereto of any such agreement. (4.) Any such agreement may be varied or rescinded by the parties thereto. (5.) Every such agreement and any such variation thereof shall be binding upon the Commonwealth and the States parties thereto notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution or the Constitution of the several States or in any law of the Parliament of the Commonwealth or of any State. (6. )The exerciseof the powers conferred by this section shall not be affected or limited by the provisions of section ninety-two of this Constitution.5 “.
I propose this new clause because the Australian Country party, whilst agreeing whole-heartedly with the principles of organized marketing, is of opinion that the proposal to be put before the people is totally inadequate to meet the desires of the primary producers. The Government’s proposal does not measure up to the fundamental requisite of collaboration and co-operation with the States, in view of the fact that the States have full control of the production side of primary industries and other industries likely to be affected by the Government’s proposal.
– I rise to order, I submit that the amendment is out of order. The House gave leave to introduce a bill “ To alter the Constitution by empowering the Parliament to make laws providing for the organized marketing of primary products, unrestricted by section 92 of the Constitution “. The plan embodied in the amendment is entirely different; it is something analogous to a financial agreement, and, obviously, the right honorable gentleman has copied his amendment from the Financial Agreement Act.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).The order of leave was in respect of a bill “ To alter the Constitution by empowering the Parliament to ma’ke laws providing for the organized marketing of primary products As the amendment proposes the making of an agreement with- the States for that purpose, I rule that it is out of order.
– I desire to move -
That, in proposed new paragraph (i.a. ) after the word “ products “, the following words be inserted: - “but not so as to authorize any form of socialization of the means of production thereof “.
A short time ago, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) accepted an amendmentmoved by the Leader of the Oppsition (Mr. Menzies) to prevent the conscription of members of the medical and dental professions. It is equally essential to make definite provision to prevent the socialization of primary production. That is the object of my amendment, and I hope that the Attorney-General, following the earlier precedent in this respect, will accept it.
– I have an amendment which precedes that which the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) wishes to submit. I move -
That, in proposed new. paragraph (i.a.), the word “ primary “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ agricultural, pastoral, horticultural, viticultural and dairying “.
In connexion with the proposals submitted at the referendum held in 1937, extraordinary difficulty was experienced in finding a suitable definition of primary products. The advice of many eminent barristers was taken. The AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) has, on this occasion, already referred to that difficulty and has forecast an amendment which, deals with specific oases. That will unduly limit the field to which the Parliament desires that organized marketing should apply. The definition required should be of a most general character. ‘That is the object of my amendment. The amendment forecast by the Attorney-General omits reference to such products as meat, peanuts, maize, barley and oats and their final products. Although ‘the marketing of these products directly concerns only two or three States’, those States require a system of organized marketing in order to enable them to deal effectively with these products.. As my amendment will, achieve that purpose it should be accepted in preference to the amendment forecast by the Attorney-General which is more limited. I have no objection to the latter amendment being added after that of the Minister. Provision should be made in respect of the marketing of wine which is a manufactured product sold by merchants. The marketing of wine should be maintained on an orderly basis as is the case now under the supervision of the Australian Wine Board.
.- It is. obvious that the arguments submitted from this corner of the chamber during the second-reading debate have made their weight felt on the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). He has realized the futility of attempting to write into the Constitution the proposal as first drafted, which I am sure could only have resulted in establishing a lawyer’s paradise and a producer’s . madhouse. It has been recognized that “ primary production “ is incapable of simple definition. For that reason, it has never been defined in a proposal for constitutional reform. Unquestionably, the Attorney-General has admitted the soundness of the arguments we have advanced. In a slapdash fashion, he proposes to provide that wheat shall include flour and other wheat products.
– The honorable member must deal with the clause, and the amendment that is now before the Chair.
– I am dealing with the amendment. So as to overcome the point that was made from this corner of the chamber, which could not be overcome by argument, because it cannot be refuted, the attempt is to be made to define “ primary products “, by providing that the expression shall be deemed to include flour and other wheat products, butter, cheese, and other milk products, dried fruit and other fruit products, and sugar.
– Without limiting the generality of the first expression: ‘
– I do not know what may be the effect of saying “without limiting the generality . < of. the- first expression “. .
– It means that we can pass the stage of milk and deal with milk products, that we can pass the stage of dried fruits and deal with canned fruits,, as well as, probably, wine, which is a fruit product, and that we can pass the stage- of wheat and deal with other wheat products such as bran and pollard.
– I thank the AttorneyGeneral for his explanation. But I fear that it really serves no more than to reinforce my argument and my apprehension. Had he said that the correct interpretation of the clause is that it does not limit the generality of primary products, taken in the broad sense, but includes these other products, I should have replied that the additional commodities were being’ cited as examples, if in a statute use can be made of examples sopresented. But the explanation makes it clear to me that this is the total number of commodities that is to be recognized as primary products, having passed beyond their first stage of wheat, milk or fruit. Why should provision be . made in respect of fruit and not of vegetables, why in respect of- butter and not margarine? The butter industry cannot be stabilized unless margarine be controlled.
– Which of the phrases in the amendment of the right honorable member for Cowper covers margarine? I do not think it is an agricultural, pastoral, horticultural, viticultural, or dairying product.
– I am not confining myself to the amendment, nor am I obliged to do so. I am pointing out that neither the clause nor the amendment which, the Attorney-General- intends to submit goes any distance towards putting the proposal in a safe, legal form. For the benefit of honorable members who are not engaged in primary production, I shall mention a few commodities that are not covered. Take, for example, broom millet.
– That is a primary product.
– Is it a primary pro- duct when it is a broom? Are the producers not to have the opportunity to sell it in an advanced form ? Tobacco has to be processed-. Meat is one of the greatest primary products in Australia, but a great deal of it is sold in processed form
Why is it left untouched 3 We deal with wheat, but not with maize. There is maize flour in the form of maize starch and maizena; it is analagous to wheat flour. An organized marketing scheme controlled by the growers, in respect of potatoes, I remind the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard), may involve the production of potato flour, and of power alcohol. There cannot be producer control of organized marketing in a form that will be worth anything -to the producers, .unless it is possible for them to go past the first stage. One of the greatest crops in the world to-day is that of the soya bean. We know of the multitude of forms in which the soya bean emerges after the initial process. No provision is being made for the handling- of that product; yet the Government is sending men to America at great expense to investigate the possibility of introducing its production on a big scale in Australia. Then there is the humble peanut, which our friend. from _ Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) handles. As chairman of the Queensland Peanut Board, he is obliged to handle the peanut not only in its raw form but also when it is roasted and salted, and when it takes the form of peanut oil and peanut butter. The scope for the expansion of the poultry industry in this country is prodigious. In America, the organized poultry industry is six times, as big as the Australian wool industry ; yet under this proposal there could not be organized control of the marketing of poultry. That applies also to fish and timber. It is absolutely impossible to deal adequately with this matter by stipulating a category of products. They could be stipulated in legislation, because legislation could be amended- without very great difficulty or intolerable delay. There might be the most comprehensive list of commodities, and it might later be found that fish had not been’ included. A referendum could not be held to make provision for it. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) reminds me of pearlshell and pearls. Had the AttorneyGeneral adhered to his original view that “ primary products “ is a description capable of interpretation, my opinion would not be worth anything against his, mine being merely that of a layman. But- he has confessed that it is not capable of adequate and practical interpretation, and in a last-minute amendment is seeking to correct the position by including flour, butter, dried fruit and sugar. The issue now requires legal clarification. I am not capable of contributing to that. But I can recognize that if this proposal is passed in an ineffective form, it will not serve the. purpose that is sought to be served on behalf of the primary producers. It will certainly create a paradise for lawyers.
– A good deal of discussion took place during the second-reading debate about the desirability of inserting a definition, in order to make it clear that tlie term “ primary products “ was not too limited in its scope. Therefore, I propose to- move later for the insertion of the following new sub-section: - ( 1 a.) Without in. any way limiting the generality of the expression “primary products “ in paragraph. ( 1a ) of sub-section ( 1 ) of this section, that expression shall be deemed to include flour and other wheat products, butter, cheese and other milk products, dried’ fruit and other fruit products, and sugar.
The term “ primary products “ has the meaning that would be given to it by the courts, considering the common use of the phrase in Australia. The courts might’ refer to contemporary newspapers, ‘ including the journal of the Australian Country party. If an attempt were made to specify all primary products 1 do not know how long the list might be, and I do not desire every primary product to be mentioned in the Constitution. The proposed amendment sets out that without in any way limiting the generality of the expression “primary products”, it should be deemed to include flour anc! other wheat products. Obviously it would also include wheat.
– That would include breakfast foods.
– I shall deal with that point presently. The proposed amendment goes on to mention the inclusion of “ butter, cheese and other milk products, dried fruit and other fruit products, and sugar “. Products- such as wheat, wool, skins, chickens, snails, and everything else that could be called a primary product <axe all covered by the definition. Wheat products other than flour include bran, breakfast foods, macaroni, pollard, rice substitutes, semolina, sharps, spaghetti, and wheat-meal. Milk products include dried .and powdered milk, infants’ and invalids’ foods essentially of . milk, sweetened full cream milk, unsweetened milk, and skimmed milk. Fruit products include canned apples, apricots, berry fruits, peaches, pears, pineapples and prunes, and also jams and marmalade, fruit pulp, fruit juices, fruit salads and wines. Dried tree fruits include dried apples, apricots, peaches, pears and prunes, whilst dried vine fruits include dried currants sultanas and lexias. Under the proposed definition I have included everything that could be called a primary product. The amendment submitted by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) is too narrow. My only fear is that my proposed amendment would widen the definition of “primary products “ too much.
– Would canned meat be included ?
– I would not say that. Are we to have organized marketing for all canned products?
– I hope that we shall have in respect of canned meat.
– We should try to keep as near as possible to primary products.
– What about the processed forms of the various products enumerated?
– They appear to have been covered by my proposed amendment. I shall consider the point raised by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser), but I ask the committee not to accept the amendment submitted by the right honorable member for Cowper.
.- The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) has made a great feature of the products of trees and vines, whether in a canned or a dried condition. What is to be done about eucalyptus? It is the product of a tree, but the tree does not produce fruit. Eucalyptus is distilled on Kangaroo Island by men working co-operative enterprises, and it is an important constituent of. certain*, medicines. These men may require rights under this bill. Under State law, the whole of Kangaroo Island is set apart for the culture of the black Italian bee, and there is an important industry there for the production of queen bees, which are despatched by air mail to all parts of Australia. Is that to. be classified as a primary or a secondary industry? The bees are not meat or fruit, but they play an important part in an important industry. Without leaving Kangaroo Island, we come to another industry, the production, of yacca gum, which is a constituent of certain dyes, and is also the base for a high explosive. In another part of my electorate chicory is produced, and two mills are engaged in processing it. South Australia also produces liquorice, which is used in the making of sweets. This commodity is not the product of a tree or a vine. In fact, it is necessary to dig down into the earth for a distance of two feet to harvest the crop. Ginger is another product of South Australia, and it is also necessary to define’ the place of buffalo hides and pearl shell, to say nothing of pearls themselves. These commodities should be specified as either primary or secondary products.
– There has been an attempt by the Opposition to befog the issue before the committee - indeed, to burlesque it. It is incomprehensible that honorable members opposite who represent country constituencies should have any doubt in their minds as to what is meant by “ primary products “. Neither can any intelligent person doubt that the judiciary would have any difficulty in deciding what the term means. For instance, no one would deny that wheat, meat, chicory, potatoes and livestock are primary products. There may be an element of doubt regarding such products as pollard, bran, processed meats and processed fruits, &c, but even if those points are left undecided, the general purpose of the bill will still be achieved. This is to place in the hands of the primary producers an instrument which will enable them co-operatively to control and market primary products before they are processed. Once that is achieved, they will be in a position, with the help of legislation passed by this Parliament, to determine what shall happen to the product after it leaves their hands. For instance, the potato-growers can decide whether they will, or will not, supply glucose factories. They can say to the manufacturers that they must sell the processed article at a certain price, or supplies of potatoes will be cut off. In addition, the producers can set up processing works of their own, and they can always determine for themselves the conditions under which they shall sell products, whether it be livestock or any other, to the processing works. If the producers are able effectively to control the processing of their commodity from the tree or the soil until it is sold, they will be able to control also its disposal after sale. Here is an example: In Victoria and New South Wales, there are well-organized egg-marketing boards operating under State legislation. In Victoria, and probably New South Wales also, the organization is so efficient that the board can determine how the eggs shall be processed, what agent shall handle them, and the price at which they shall be sold to the public. They are not worried about the definition of “ primary products “. Obviously, an egg is a primary product. Once the producers of eggs have control of the marketing of eggs, the control of processed eggs is a simple matter. As it is clear that the fears that have been expressed are without foundation, I ask the committee to accept the Minister’s amendment.
– It must not be forgotten that .most of the organized marketing of Australian primary products is handled’ by State or co-operative organizations. One of the objections to this’ bill is that it does not contain provisions to protect and retain those organizations. The honorable member .for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) has lauded their efficiency, but under the system suggested in this measure there is nothing to protect them. For that reason. I am sorry that the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), who was prepared to extend the scope of the previous measure of social services, is not prepared to adopt a similar attitude towards this bill for organized marketing. I am convinced that if we could have’ a purely co-operative system of marketing much of the difficulty in connexion with the definition of “ primary products “ would disappear. I desire to see organized marketing included in the constitutional powers of the ‘Commonwealth as early as possible in order to overcome the difficulties caused by section 92 of the ‘ Constitution. I, therefore, ask the Attorney-General, if he “desires the .passage of this legislation, to have regard to what took place when this question was submitted to the people on a previous occasion. It will be remembered that, despite the fact that in this Parliament there was substantial support of the then Government’s proposal by the Labour party only about ten or twelve electorates throughout the Commonwealth gave a “ Yes “ vote. Notwithstanding that the present Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) and the then Labour Premier of Queensland advocated a “ Yes “ vote, the only Queensland electorate which accepted their advice was Wide Bay. I urge the Attorney-General to take steps to satisfy the primary producers that under the proposals submitted to them they will get something of real value. ‘ If they could be convinced on that point, the consumers of Australia might be persuaded to support the alteration. No one will question that hides are a primary product; but, when processed, hides become leather, and leather is made into various articles. Where does the hide cease to be a primary product? 1 believe that, with greater co-operation between Commonwealth and State governments and cooperative bodies, most of the problems which now face us would be solved without having to define matters too precisely. We should endeavour to give to the primary producers what they desire in this connexion.
– The committee must have been impressed by the speech of the honorable member for Ballarat . (Mr. Pollard), who said that those who control the marketing of a primary product in its early stages of production can readily gain control of it at the next and succeeding stages. The honorable member’s illustrations were clear and effective. In the definition’ which I propose, the normal meaning of the term “ primary products “ will apply, with the wide interpretation given by the honorable member for Ballarat. In addition, it will be extended to flour and other wheat products; butter, cheese, and other milk products; dried fruit and other fruit products ; and sugar. Having consulted with the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully), I am also prepared- to add meat and meat products, although I had always thought that meat was a primary product. Even with those extensions of the normal meaning of the term “ primary products “ there will be some border-line cases; but I am confident that, if this Parliament has power to organize the .marketing of primary products, there will be no stage in their marketing which cannot be handled effectively. I am obliged to members of the Australian Country party for their suggestions, and I ask them to accept what I have offered as an earnest of my desire to solve a difficult problem.
– Would the definition as extended include honey?
– Honey is the most pri-. mary of- primary products.
– Would it include salt, which is a most important primary product of my electorate?
– If the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), with his special knowledge of salt, says that it is a primary product, I am prepared to accept his definition, and I am sure that any court would take a similar view.
– The way in which the Attorney.General (Dr. Evatt) has modified the previous., ambiguous definition of “primary products” gives iis reason to have a careful look at his proposal in order that we may determine what primary products are included or are deemed to be included in the definition now proposed and assess its total inadequacy. The right honorable gentleman has enlarged in his own way on the various aspects of processing of primary products. He has added to the list meat and meat products, but what of maize and maize products, peanuts and peanut products, fish and sea shells? As honorable members know the fishing industry and the shell industry are very important in dustries in north Queensland. I suppose the fishing industry presents greater potentialities for expansion than do many primary industries. Is fish to be included iri the definition? Before the Japanese war the gathering of trochus shell, beche-de-mer and pearl shell .was most important. It is obvious that some protection must be given to those products, and other products that have hitherto been controlled by various commodity boards. As a Queenslander, I can speak with considerable knowledge about . these commodity boards, which have been long’ established as State instrumentalities with producer-control, for the purpose of orderly intrastate marketing. We have the Canary Seed Board, the Arrowroot Board and the Egg Producers’ Council. Nothing is said about eggs and egg products. The further one goes through the list, the more one realizes the total inadequacy and ambiguity of this proposal. It is all very well to say that the High Court will define what is a primary product and what is a processed primary product or a by-product, but why should the various branches of primary industry have to go to the High Court for an adequate and proper safeguarding definition. This is the place where legislation should be made thoroughly clear, but I submit that the proposal before the committee is far from clear. The amendment proposed by the Attorney-General makes confusion more confounding. Its ambiguity leaves too much open to doubt. For that reason I -submit that the Attorney-General ought to give further consideration to the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). The various commodity boards operating’ in the States have to be taken into consideration and regard has to be paid to the knowledge that has been gained by virtue of collaboration between the States and the “ Commonwealth. If the Government proposes to usurp all the functions of ‘ the State instrumentalities and to broaden the- definition . of “ marketing “ to embrace “ production “,’ there will be chaos. The Australian Country party stands for orderly marketing, but not the sort of orderly marketing that will result from the totally inadequate and improper definition proposed by the Attorney-General.
– This matter. must be approached in a common-sense way. The Government and the primary producers themselves are chiefly concerned with the basic primary industries. One could go on enumerating indefinitely the number of primary products that could be defined, and even then everything that could come within the definition would not be included. I think it is sufficient to define the basic primary industries as suggested by the Attorney-General. That is the way in. which I look at the matter as the Minister charged with the responsibility of administering the marketing of primary products.
– I agree with the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) that Ave could spend a lot of time defining “ primary products “ without ever completing the list. I am satisfied with what has been suggested in the comprehensive list proposed by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). He does not wish to exclude any kind of primary product, if it oan be proved that it is a primary product. If an issue were made of the inclusion of any particular product, it would have to be determined in any case by the High Court. I do not think anything can be gained by prolonging this discussion. 1 believe that the definition suggested by the Attorney-General is satisfactory and that no primary product would be excluded if it could be proved to be a primary product.
.- In an attempt to- teach an eminent lawyer his business the bush lawyers in this chamber are- clouding instead of clearing the issue. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) used the term “ primary products’”, but, in an attempt to define the meaning of “primary products “j honorable members opposite have excluded from the definition one of the principal primary products, meat and meat products. Mutton and lamb possibly come under the term “ pastoral industry but beef does not. I cite as my authority for that statement the- reference in the Year Booti to pastoral production “. In that publication the terminology of the word “ pastoral “ is regarded as not including beef, but the shepherding of sheep, wool production and so on. It can be taken, therefore, that the term “ pastoral “ is restricted to the raising of sheep, wool production .and activities in connexion therewith. One of the principal primary products that this country has to consider in the post-war period is beef. The Attorney-General has forecast that in an amendment he proposes to move at a later stage he will include meat and meat products in the term “ primary products “. I agree with the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) that the term “ primary products “ is sufficiently wide to cover those products which this- Parliament will find it necessary to deal with when it sets about devising schemes for the organized marrketing of such products.
.: - I move -
That, in proposed new paragraph (i.a.), after the word “ products “ the following words be- inserted: - “but not so as to authorize any form of socialization of the means of production thereof “.
An amendment expressing a similar intention in almost the same terms was accepted by the Government in respect of the other two Constitution Alteration bills. I suggest to the Attorney-General that if this amendment be inserted in the bill he will- have’ no trouble in having it accepted by the people. No one is more anxious than I arm to see these marketing proposals carried and the obstacle constituted by section 92 of the Constitution removed.
– The committee has taken the bill to the stage where the Commonwealth Parliament will have power to make laws providing for the organized marketing of primary products. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) agrees that the Commonwealth should have power to make laws for the organized marketing of primary products, but he adds a condition which reads, “ but not so as to authorize any form of socialization “. Socialization of what ? Of the means of production thereof? The means of production of primary products constitute the land’, the fertilizer, and the instruments of tillage ; they are the thing3 with which the products are produced, and therefore to say we should have power over organized marketing of primary products but not over the means of production thereof introduces a completely foreign and unrelated topic. The honorable member’s amendment has nothing to do with the marketing of primary products and therefore cannot be accepted.
– I support the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) and am unable to accept the Attorney-General’s dictum that it has no application to the subject matter of the hill. Apparently, a different attitude is to be taken in respect of this proposed amendment from that taken on the other two bills in which provisos on somewhat similar lines were inserted. Why is this distinction drawn? If it is merely a matter of terminology, I am sure the honorable member for Wide Bay will consent to an alteration of his proposed amendment to conform with what the Attorney-General believes might be the correct verbiage. Honorable members opposite ask “ What is the meaning of the term ‘ socialization of the means of production ‘ ? “. If anybody should know what that means, honorable members opposite who have placed it as the first plank in the platform of the party which they represent in this chamber should know. If.it has no meaning to them, it has no meaning at all. I would prefer to see the wording of the proposed amendment altered to read, “ but not so as to involve any control of production “. It is held by many authorities that marketing cannot be successfully organized without control of production. The
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. ‘Scully) found during the war that this was necessary to the -success of marketing schemes. I want to ensure that the primary producer shall not be conscripted. I agree with the honorable member for Wide Bay that if anything will contribute to- the defeat of this proposal it will be a fear among the people that primary producers will be conScripted for the production of primary products. I wish to be in a position to tell the primary producers in my electorate that that is not contemplated.
. . - The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) has no application whatever to the bill now before us. In the first place there can be no primary production without the land on which to produce it; in the second place, except in certain circumstances, no power is given to the Commonwealth Parliament or to the Government to resume or own land. If the Government does not own land how can it socialize the means of production?
– Has the honorable member not read the Lands Acquisition Act?
– The right honorable gentleman knows quite well that . under the Constitution the Government may resume land only for the purposes of the Postal Department or the Defence Department, but for no other purposes. The sovereign power over land is vested entirely in the respective State governments, except for those specific purposes. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) is clever at endeavouring to side-track people, but his tactics do not succeed with me.
The honorable member for Gippsland (Mi-. Bowden)- said that members of the Australian Country party would be in a happy position if the Government accepted this amendment, because they would be able to assure their farmersupporters and potential supporters, if any, that the amendment would prevent, any possible danger of socialization. Whether or not the amendment is accepted, mem’bers of the Australian Country party- will tell their constituents that if they vote for the Labour party their industries will be socialized.
– What is the honorable member’s objection to the amendment? .
– The Labour party is not ashamed of its socialistic objective, and what is more, we have never been ashamed, of it. I do not see any reason why the electors, when. they are ready to accept socialization, even the organized marketing of primary products, should not have the right to do so under the Constitution.’ That is a matter not for this Government or the Australian Country party but for the people themselves to determine. The people of Great Britain, New Zealand, and South Africa have that right; only in this fair land are the people denied it. Members of the Australian Country party and their cohorts of the Liberal party formed an alliance in ‘ Sydney last week, and no doubt that alliance is one of the reasons for the Opposition’s violent antagonism to this bill. The Government’s proposals give power to the primary producers; they will possess even greater power if they choose socialization in order to defeat the merchants, dealers and vested interests which will vigorously support members of the Opposition at the forthcoming election. But all the fervour which honorable members opposite displayed on previous occasions in favour of allowing primary producers complete freedom, to choose how they shall market their primary products, has disappeared. When I recall the earlier history of the Opposition parties, I reflect almost sadly upon their present fate. I am satisfied that the amendment has no application whatever.
– The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) uttered several contradictory statements which have not helped the position. He declared that the Government’s proposals could not effect the socialization of the means of production because the States owned th land? He uttered a good deal of nonsense, because he knows that the policy of the Labour party includes the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. If he were honest with the farmers and the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt), who asked him to speak, he would admit that he opposes the amendment because he is pledged to support the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. This amendment will show whether the Government is prepared- by adopting thi? safeguard, to dispel the fear of farmers that primary production may be socialized.
– The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) is entitled to an explanation of the matters which he raised. He fears that this power involves a power to control production. It does nothing of the kind. It simply gives to the Commonwealth Parliament power to organize the marketing of commodities after they have been produced. Therefore, there will be no possibility of control at the point of production. That makes the amendment absolutely inapplicable to this situation. It is perfectly true that after the goods are produced, the power begins to operate in respect of them, and that enables the producers or the Government, through a scheme of producer-control or producer plus government control, to organize collectively the , marketing of primary products. The pooling of primary products and selling them as a group through the Government or the producers’ body to ‘ the best advantage, is an example. That, in one sense, is an instance of socialization not of the means of production, but of the method of distribution. That is a part of the policy of the Australian Country party, the members of which believe in certain forms of socialization.
– That is co-operation.
– No, it is not merely co-operation. It involves direct Government legislative authority to do it. That is a particular aspect of the nationalization or socialization of the means of distribution in relation to one product. That is exactly what it is. That is a general disquisition ; - it finds a good illustration in the pools conducted in Queensland, such as the peanut pool. The product is put into the pool, and the Government sells it, gets the cheque for it and distributes the money among the growers, interfering at every stage with the ordinary right of the individual to sell according to his own desires.
– The Government of Queensland does not sell the peanuts.
– The board consists of the representatives of the growers and of the Government. I have studied that particular act. It is completely destructive of the inalienable right of a producer to market his own goods. We cannot reconcile that with complete freedom. It is a form of socialization at the point of distribution, 1 but that is what organized marketing is. Organized marketing is a part of the policy of the Australian Country party.
The honorable ‘member for Gippsland will be satisfied that this power does not involve control of production. It comes into existence only after the product itself has come into being. Therefore, I ask the committee to reject the amendment.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Mr. Bernard Corser’s amendment) be so inserted.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. W. J. F. Riordan.)
Majority . . . . 25
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That, after sub-section (1.) of section fifty-One, the following new sub-section be inserted : - “ (1a.) Without in any way limiting the generality of the expression ‘primary products’ in paragraph (i.a.) of sub-section (1.) of this section, that expression shall be deemed to include flour and other wheat products, butter, cheese and other milk products, dried fruit and other fruit products, meat and meat products, and sugar.”.
The desirability of inserting a provision of this description has already been discussed.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Preamble and Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) - by leave - proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.The bill is now in a form in which, no doubt, having regard to the numerical strength of the ministerial party, it will be passed and submitted to the people. This is probably the first occasion on which a proposal will be submitted to the people for an alteration of the Constitution in a form which, if- it be carried at the referendum, is certain to result in appeals to the court in respect of its interpretation. Therefore, I take this opportunity to protest against the action of the Government in attempting to write such a proposal into the Constitution. A statute is comparatively easy to amend, but it is notoriously difficult to alter the Constitution, because such alteration can only be effected after, the proposal in question has become a great public issue. As this proposal is drafted in ambiguous language, or language calculated to invite challenge, it is certain to result in a number of challenges which we know are extraordinarily expensive to engage in. I believe that towards the conclusion of the debate in committee, the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) was endeavouring to meet the objections raised ‘by honorable members on this side with respect to interpretation.
– Order ! The honorable member must not refer to anything that happened in committee.
– Nevertheless, I pay that tribute to the Attorney-General.
Either the amendments were not necessary, in which event they are purposeless; or, if necessary, they are quite inadequate. A very grave step is ‘being taken in the submission of a proposal to amend the Constitution along lines which are unsound -and are recognized in the moment of their being passed in the Par- liament as being certain of being challenged.
Sir EARLE PAGE (Cowper) (2.81 :i ..iti. J . - 1 desire to make my position quite clear. I am prepared to assist the passage of this measure through the Parliament to-night, because I believe t.li at the people should be privileged to either accept or reject i,t. But I cannot permit that to be done without expressing deep dismay at the fact that this proposal, which should be placed beyond any element of doubt, has not been considered at very much greater length, in order to ensure the inclusion in it of a proper definition of “primary products”. It is obvious that the Attorney-General is quite dissatisfied with the position in which he finds himself. In such circumstances, with what confidence can we urge those people who, for the last 25 years, have been attempting to secure an alteration of the Constitution which would enable them to handle their marketing problems without the restraint imposed by section 92 of the Constitution to accept what we cannot regard as a proposal that will make adequate provision for them in the future?
– As the leader of a party which has always believed in, and has consistently urged the introduction of, organized marketing with all possible safeguards, I join with my colleagues in expressing disgust at the manner in which this matter has been handled, and the ambiguous form in which it will be placed before the electors. The trend of the debate since the introduction of the bill provides sufficient evidence, if such were needed of the confused form in which (he. measure will leave this House, and be placed before the people at a referendum. Whilst we believe in orderly marketing, and urge the adoption of all means to bring it about, we are of the opinion that the best means available have not been adopted in order to place the matter properly and adequately before the people. Nevertheless, we consider that the people should have the opportunity to decide for or against the proposal, ambiguously stated though it is. Consequently, we shall do all that we can to have it submitted properly, reserving to ourselves the future .right to have it amended in such a way as to remove any weaknesses. We intend to .support the passage of the bill for the fundamental purpose of having it placed before the people, in order that they may decidewhether they are satisfied with it in its present ambiguous form.
– in reply - We have . listened to three remarkable speeches. There has not been any attempt to curtail the debate on this bill. Every suggestion for .amendment hasbeen listened to. At the second-reading stage, we did not hear of any proposal for a definition of “ primary products “. That was made only to-night, by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) expressed disgust at the manner in which the matter had been handled. In the bill as it is now before us, there is a satisfactory and complete definition of “ primary products “. I do not know of any primary product in respect of which orderly or organized marketing has been suggested, which has not been clearly included.
– What about peanuts.
– Are they not a primary product? Every boy who eats them in Queensland knows that they are.
– What about meat?
– Meat has been specifically included.
– When was it included, and why?
– I appeal for support to those members of the Australian Country party who have shown themselves really interested in a clear definition. We know who they are. There will be no challenge in the courts of this country, because the possibility of one has been excluded by the definition of “ primary products “. Had we not done as much as we have done, there might have been the possibility of that eventuality occurring. The definition of “ primary products “ covers the whole field, including doubtful cases. It will be for the Parliament to determine whether it will pass a law for the orderly marketing of any commodity embraced by the definition. I am pleased that the leading members” of the . Australian Country party intend to support the third reading of the bill. That surely implies that they believe that the power to control organized marketing in the wide field embraced by primary production should reside in this Parliament irrespective of the provisions of section 92 of the Constitution. They should be consistent, and support the proposal in their electorates.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a third time.
The House divided. (Mr.Speaker- Hon. j. S. Rosevear.)
– There being 48 “ Ayes “ and eight “ Noes “, I certify that the third reading of the bill has been agreed to by an absolute majority of the. members of the House as required by the Constitution.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed, from the 27th March (vide page 653) on motion by Dr. Evatt -
That . the bill be now read a second time.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. j. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . 26
– There being 41 “ Ayes “ and fifteen “ Noes “, I certify that the second reading of the bill has been agreed to by an absolute majority of the members of the House as required by the Constitution.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) - by leave - proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . . . 26
– There being 41 “ Ayes “ and fifteen “ Noes I certify that the third reading of the bill has been agreed to by an absolute majority of the members of the House as required by the Constitution.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to this day at 11.30 a.m., instead of 10.30 a.m., as previously ordered.
The following papers were presented : -
Contract Immigrants Act - Return for 1944.
Immigration Act - Return for 1944.’
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for -
Common wealth purposes -
Townsville, Queensland (2).
Postal purposes -
Alexandria, New South Wales.
National Security Act -
National Security (Emergency Control) Regu lations - Orders -
Military powers during emergency - Revocations ( 2 ) .
Torres Strait area prohibition of lights - Revocation.
York area communications - Revocation.
National Security (Supplementary) Regulations - Order - Deferment of banking business.
National Security (War Damage to Property) Regulations - -War Damage Commission - Report for 1 945.
House adjourned at 2.57 a.m. (Wednesday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
4.T hirty-cight days.
s. - Asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
As the- Department of Post-war Reconstruction has apparent^’ been assigned the duty of dealing with demobilization and training problems of ex-servicemen, has the Repatriation Commission any present responsibility beyond the payment of pensions and the treatment of sick and wounded ex-servicemen?
– The answers to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Apart from the payment of war and service pensions under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act and the provision of medical treatment, including the supply of artificial limbs, surgical aids and appliances for incapacitated members of the forces, the Repatriation Commission is the prescribed authority for dealing with the following benefits under the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945:-
The following benefits under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Regulations which are associated with re-establishment are also administered by the commission : -
The following additional provisions of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Regulations also come within the purview of the commission : -
The commission is also responsible for the training and/or placement of blinded and other seriously incapacitated members who are unable to resume their pre-war occupations either with or without training by normal methods.
The Ministry of Post-War Reconstruction is largely a planning and co-ordinating body, and the Repatriation Commission is represented at both Commonwealth and State levels on the various committees (comprising such bodies as the services, and the Departments of Post-war Reconstruction, Labour and National Service, Commonwealth En.ployment Service and Repatriation) which deal with the various phases of demobilization and re-establishment of members of the forces.
Under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act pensions are paid to or in respect of members of the Mercantile Marine incapacitated or deceased in consequence of war injury, and the commission also administers the National Security (Wages of Seamen Detained by the Enemy) Regulations, which provide for the continuance of wages of mariners during captivity by the enemy.
Other matters administered are as follow: -
The commission acts as agent for the United Kingdom,’ New Zealand and Canada in the payment of pension and provision of medical treatment and certain other benefits to members of the other country’s Forces resident in Australia.
Mr.White asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
What is the rate of war pension for approved dependent parents of deceased servicemen ?
What is the moans test that is applied?
What is the number of dependent (a) mothers and (b) fathers receiving war pensions as such?
How many applications were rejected for. casualties during the 1039-45 war?
What is the qualification and amount of pension for a de facto wife?
How many pensions are being paid to de facto wives?
t. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
In the case of any person who, at the time of the occurrence of the event resulting in the death or incapacity of a member of the forces (including a member of the forces within the meaning of section one hundred of this Act), was recognized as the wife, of that member though not legally married to him, if the commission is satisfied that that person was wholly or partly dependent upon the earnings of the member, a pension under this division at a rate not exceeding the rate of pension which may be allowed under this division to the wife or widow of any such member of the forces may be allowed to that person. (2.)’ Any such pension may be allowed to any such person under this provision as well as to the widow of any member of the forces.
International Affairs : Spain.
t. - Mr. Archie Cameron has asked me the following questions : -
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The Australian Government has no diplomatic . relationship with, the Government of Spain. It supports the view stated in the resolution regarding Spain adopted by the United Nations Assembly on the 9th February, 1946. The resolution recalls -
The Assembly recommended that the United Nations should act in accordance with the letter and spirit of these statements ( (a-1) and (b) above) in the conduct of their future relations with Spain. 2 and 3, The Australian . Government has kept itself informed regarding the situation in Spain and the attitude of other Governments to the question generally. In such informal discussions as it has had from time to time with representatives of other Governments, the Australian Government has maintained the attitude stated in the answer to question 1.
n asked the Minister for Information, upon notice -
– The answers to tho honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1. (a) The Minister for Information (chairman) ; (b) Senator J. Armstrong (representative selected _ by the Government); (c) Director-General, Ministry of Post-war Reconstruction; (d) Secretary, Department of Commerce and Agriculture; (e) Mr. K. Binns (Commonwealth Librarian) ; (f) Professor A. K. Stout (Documentary Films Societies) ;
Dr. H. Wyndham (representative of secondary and primary education in the States).’
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1. (or) Barley - The Australian Barley Board has made final payment to growers for barley received in all pools up to and including
s asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are a* follows : -
Wheat Industry : Compensation to Western Australian Wheat-growers.
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
l asked the Minister for
Commerce and Agriculture - upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. Mr. Mather was engaged in a consultative ‘capacity in 1042 on a particular assignment and his association therewith terminated with its conclusion.
s asked the Minister for Works. and Housing - upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for
Civil Aviation - upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Meat Industry : Sale of Frozen Meat at Melbourne; Wholesale Meat Prices at Melbourne ; Export Prices.
n asked -the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice. -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions arc as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Circular to Victorian Meat Operators.
Treatment of Stock on Owners’ Account under Weight a.nd Grade Basis.
The Controller of Meat Supplies, Mr. J.. A. Tonkin, announced to-day that, in accordance with the terms of the settlement of the recent meat dispute, producers desirous of having their stock treated under weight and grade conditions may enter into direct negotiations with registered operators or through stock and station agents who would make the necessary arrangements to secure trucks and arrange killing programmes.
Until 30th June or until such later date as may be determined, producers should receive the below mentioned prices per lb. calculated on the basis of net chilled weight delivered freezer door loss treatment rate of 5/8 d. per lb. in the case of all grades of lamb and, in the case of mutton of first, second and third quality, export specification as approved by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, Jd. per lb.
As regards beef, the return to producers would be the prevailing ceiling price, but in this connexion no’ deduction would be made for treatment costs.” schedule.
Under 30 lb. -10d. per lb. plus skin value.
Over 30 lb. -9½d. per lb. plus skin value.
All weights - 7¼d. per lb. plus skin value.
All weights -6¼d. per lb. plus skin value.
All weights - 5d. per lb. plus skin value.
The above rates less treatment charge will apply to the classes of lamb and mutton as set out in the above schedule.
Mutton carcasses which are rejected as being below’ third quality standard, 3d. per lb. plus skin value.
Ox and/or Heifer Beef- 401-750 lb., 55s. per 100 lb.
Over 750 lb., 50s. per 100 lb.
Trade Cow Beef - 45s. per 100 lb.
Canner Cow Beef - 31s. 3d. per 100 lb.
Below Canner Standard - 29s. 2d. per 100 lb.
In the ease of beef the above prices are not subject to any deduction for treatment.
It is desired to point out that the railage, if paid by works, will be deducted from the account. sales.
For further information in connexion with the above scheme, full particulars will be marie available on application to the. above address.
Acting Deputy Controller. 20th March, 1946.
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Armed Forces: Australian Forces in Japan : Supply of Uniforms.
On the 3rd April the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked a question without notice concerning the supply of uniforms to the Australian forces in Japan.
I am informed by the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Ashley) that the reply to the honorable member’s question is, as follows: -
It is not a fact that there has been any lack of co-operation on the part of the Chambers ‘of Manufactures in Sydney and Melbourne. The Department of Supply and Shipping, however, has experienced difficulty in satisfying demands for various types of Army clothing. I atn pleased to advise that, as a result of discussions between officers of my department and the manufacturers in New South Wales and Victoria, most of these difficulties have been overcome, and it is confidently anticipated- that a large number of firms’ will be in production in the immediate future. The issue of clothing to servicemen is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for the Army. Due to the general criticial supply position, the Army had been short of certain sizes of some types of clothing, but action is in hand to rectify this position. Queensland manufacturers, in common with those in other States, will be afforded every opportunity of taking up orders for the garments in question.
s asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to’ the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y. - On the 26th March, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) referred to the repeal of section 84(9) (c) of the Commonwealth Public Service Act and asked a question as to whether the. Prime Minister would have the situation examined with a view to exempting from the necessity to pass an examination, before qualifying for permanent appointments those returned soldiers who, before enlisting, had two yen rs’ temporary service. Prior to the operation of the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945 there was provision in section S4 (9) (c) of the Commonwealth Public Service Act giving an order of preference for appointment. This included returned soldiers who had been temporarily employed continuously for not loss than two years. This provision did’ not confer a right to appointment, and many more employees completed the prescribed period of temporary work than could bc absorbed into the permanent, staff.
TJnder the provision referred to, the order of priority for permanent appointment was based on the fortuitous circumstance of temporary employment and did not operate fairly. It gave preference to a man who happened to be on the spot and available for temporary work as against another not at the time available for a temporary job, but anxious to secure n permanent appointment and possibly much better qualified than the one who secured the priority. The provision referred to wos deleted from the Public. Service Act by the Reestablishment and Employment Act, which requires that consideration be given to the length, locality and. nature of the war service of applicants for permanent appointment. The position therefore is that, in making permanent appointments tn the Commonwealth Service, the preference provisions of the Beestablishment and Employment Act must apply.
e asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice -
Mr.Ward. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions arc as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 April 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19460409_reps_17_186/>.