17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister for
Commerce and Agriculture any information with respect to the details of the new contract for the purchase of butter which Great Britain has made with Denmark? Australian butter is at present being sold to Great Britain at 184s.81/4d. per owt., under a contract made two years ago. The previous price was 137s. 21/4d. per cwt., under contracts made by the Menzies Government in 1940 and 1941. Will the Minister take every step to ensure that the new contract for the sale of Australian butter to Great Britain, for which negotiations are now proceeding, will fix a price ‘that will be fair to both the British consumer and the Australian dairy-farmer, and that there will not be a reversion to the disastrously unpayable price at which the Menzies Government sold Australian butter overseas?
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is temporarily absent from the chamber. I shall ask him to investigate the matter, and provide an answer for the honorable member.”
Food Control : Dismissal of ex-Servicemen.
– Will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction state whether two ex-servicemen were dismissed recently from the Commonwealth Pood Control store, St. Peters, Sydney, because they had refused to join a union ? Has Commonwealth Food Control ruled that no more ex-servicemen are to be employed at this store unless they are unionists? Who authorized the dismissal of these ex-servicemen? Is not their dismissal a breach of the Re-establishment and Employment Act? What action is proposed by the Government to give effect to the provisions of the act by the re-engagement of these men?
– Commonwealth Food Control is bound by the provisions of the Re-establishment and Employment Act in the same way as are other government departments.
– What action does the honorable gentleman intend to take?
– I do not accept as correct the statement of the case by the honorable member. I shall ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to investigate his charge, and supply an answer to him later.
– Can the Minister for the Army give details of the prisoners of war and internees held in Australia? When will prisoners of war be returned to their own countries?
– The number of prisoners of war held in Australia on the 29th June, 1946, was 18,582, of whom 17,001 were Italians, 1,566 Germans, and 15 Japanese. In accordance with the Geneva Convention, the Government is obliged to return them to their own countries as soon as ships can be made available for the purpose, and steps are being taken to that end. There are also 1,571 civilian internees in Australia of whom 1,321 are Germans. Their cases have been the subject of investigations by Mr. Justice Simpson and Mr. Justice Hutchins, on whose recommendations the Government will act.
Instructions to Australian
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether the Government has issued to the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) a directive setting out the policy of the Government in respect of the issues which arise at the Paris Peace Conference? If no such directive has been issued, are we to understand that the Minister has freedom to exercise his own judgment on all of the issues that arise, or, if a directive has been issued, will the Prime Minis ter make a statement setting out at least those parts of it which can properly be released to the House, so that we may be informed as to the general policy of the Government at the. conference?
– I thought that I had made it clear that the matters to be dealt with at the conference had already been discussed prior to the departure of the Minister for External Affairs from Australia. Nearly all of the subjects which will be considered at the Peace Conference were discussed at the Conference of Prime Ministers of Great Britain and the Dominions recently held in London. The Minister for External Affairs goes to the Peace Conference, not only fully armed with the views of the Government on the important matters to be discussed - of course discretionary power must be given to him with regard to details - but he is also conversant with the views, as far as they could be ascertained, of the Prime Ministers. As to the last portion of the honorable member’s question, I do not think I should be doing a service to this country, or to the cause of peace, by commenting . on details of the probable discussions, and possibly causing embarrassment at this juncture to the representatives at the conference of the various governments of the British Commonwealth of Nations. It would be of no value to Australia, and it would contribute nothing to the work of the conference, if I made a statement regarding the directives given to the Minister for External Affairs and the Resident Minister in London, Mr. Beasley, who will assist him and later relieve him at the conference.
– In to-day’s press under big headlines there appears an announcement of what the Minister for External Affairs will do at the Peace Conference. The announcement goes on to point out that the right honorable gentleman will demand the adoption of the simple democratic procedure of a simple majority for the amendment of the peace treaty. The announcement further states that Russia can confidently count on the support of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, ByeloRussia and Ukraine. I ask the Prime
Minister whether the United Kingdom may count upon Australia in the same contingency ?
– What the United Kingdom delegates may count on is the fullest co-operation, help, advice and counsel of the representatives of Australia.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether peace terms with Germany and Japan will be discussed at the Peace Conference? Has agreement been arrived at between the United Kingdom and all the Dominions on the main terms of peace desired? Will the future positionof Egypt, Palestine and India come up for discussion at the conference, or is that an Empire matter? If so, has there been Empire discussion on the problems of those three countries and is there general Empire agreement on the policy being applied and its effect on the future of the Empire? Is the Australian Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) acting at the conference as the representative of an integral part of the British Empire or as a mouthpiece of the smaller nations? If the latter, are Holland and the republic of Indonesia included amongst the smaller nations for which he speaks?
– Our understanding is that the Peace Conference will not deal with terms of peace with Germany, Austria and Japan, but developments may lead to some discussions on that matter.
– Is there any indication of when it will be dealt with?
– On the information available to me, I cannot give any indication of that. Terms of peace with Germany, and to a lesser degree with Japan, were discussed at the conference between Ministers of the United Kingdom and the Dominions, which was attended on Australia’s behalf by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) and the Resident Minister in London (Mr. Beasley). The Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Mackenzie King, was not present. So I must exclude him. It was not expected at that conference that peace terms with Japan would be dealt with for some time. The Leader of the Australian delegation, Dr. Evatt, is well briefed on all subjects likely to arise. I ask the right honorable gentleman to place the other parts of his question on the notice-paper. I shall then try to give a detailed reply.
Mr. CHIFLEY (Macquarie- Prime
Minister and Treasurer). - by leave - I inform honorable members that I have recommended to His Royal Highness the Governor-General that a dissolution of the House of Representatives be granted, with a view to the holding of the general elections on Saturday, the 28th September, 1946, and this advice has been accepted. I have informed His Royal Highness that the necessary financial provision is being made for the carrying on of the public services of the Commonwealth during the period that must elapse before Parliament can re-assemble. It is proposed that the date of issue of the writs shall be Wednesday, the 21st August, 1946; that the closing date for the receipt of nominations shall be Tuesday, the 3rd September; and that writs shall be returnable on or before Saturday, the 2nd November.
In accordance with established practice, the elections for the Senate will be held concurrently with those for the House of Representatives on Saturday, the 28th September. The three referendums relating to proposed alterations of the Constitution will also take place on the same date.
– Does the Prime Minister know of the urgent demand by local government bodies to borrow money for developmental purposes? Can he explain how they will be able to raise loans, ‘ especially those needed for rural development? Will he co-operate with the States to ensure that money will be made available to, local governing bodies on generous terms?
– The practice is for local governing bodies that wish to borrow money to apply in the first place to their State governments. As honorable members are aware, State borrowings are subject to the provisions of the Financial Agreement, but there exists a gentlemen’s agreement that .borrowings for local governing bodies and semigovernmental authorities shall be coordinated through the State co-ordinator of works, working in conjunction with the Commonwealth Co-ordinator-General of Works, who reports to the National Works Council. This procedure has been applied to borrowings for the coming year, and the programme will be submitted to the Loan Council which will meet on the 21st August. It must be evident to honorable members that unless there is co-ordination between the State governments regarding the amount of money borrowed, and the requirements for which it is borrowed, we shall have chaos in the money market.. During the war, borrowings of this kind came under the control of the Loan Council, and the same procedure will be followed at the next meeting of the council. I have issued a press statement to the effect that all requests by local bodies for loan money should be addressed in the first place to’ State governments.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware ‘ that there is an acute shortage of bran and pollard, and that dairy-farmers and poultryfarmers are greatly inconvenienced thereby? Does the Minister think that if. would be possible for us, without defaulting on our overseas commitments, to export more flour and less wheat, thus making mill offals available to primary producers ?
– I am aware that there is a shortage of bran and pollard, but the position has been carefully .examined, and we are at present gristing as much wheat as possible. The Australian Wheat Board is, in this respect, applying the policy of the. Government, and nothing more can be done at the present stage. We have certain commitments, and we” are honouring them to the full.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs the following questions: -
– I shall discuss the matters raised in the honorable member’s question with the Minister for Trade and Customs, and will have Mr. Mortimer’s figures analysed with a view to ascertaining their correctness or otherwise. The honorable member will be supplied with an answer as soon as possible.
– As many shire councils are unable to obtain suitable road-making machinery to carry out even a part of their works programmes, and as they are limited . to the secondhand machinery that is available, can the Minister for Works and Housing say whether, in view of the fact that suitable’ machinery is not available to meet the needs of all local governing bodies, the Government proposes to persist in refusing them permission to purchase new machinery until all the junk on hand has been sold?
– The Department of Works and Housing does not prevent any person or local governing body from purchasing materials. Road-making machinery is handled by State departments, and machinery -required by local governing bodies is allocated through State committees. All materials which come under the control of the Department of Works and Housing, whether new or secondhand, is released in that way on a needs basis.
– Is any new machinery entering Australia?
– Not much machinery is being imported, but the Government is endeavouring to obtain as much as possible. It has obtained machinery of various kinds from the American authorities and it will be available for disposal in Australia nt an early date.
ex-Servicewomen : Vocational Training- Technical Training.
– As many exservicewomen who live in country districts are unable to take up much-desired vocational training and studies because they cannot secure accommodation in the capital cities where most training and study facilities are provided, will the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction arrange to construct hostels to provide accommodation for these young women who are so eager to re-establish themselves ? Alternatively, will the Minister subsidize for the purpose the enlargement of approved existing hostels for women?
– If the honorable member will give particulars of individual cases, or of the total numbers of young women who are unable. to take up vocational training because they cannot obtain accommodation in capital cities, I shall have the matter investigated,-
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service the basis of the Commonwealth Technical Training Scheme and the part that the States play in it? How many persons have been trained since its inception and how many have been trained under the re-establishment scheme? Are any ex-servicemen being trained in trades associated with the home-building schemes now in progress? What will be the total cost to the Commonwealth? How long is it estimated that the scheme will last? What will become of the assets after the scheme has been completed?
– The basis of the scheme is an agreement between the Com monwealth Government and the State governments under which the States provided the technical staff, accommodation, machine tools and so on then existing, and the Commonwealth the money for carrying out the scheme and any additional staff, accommodation and tools required. The first part of the scheme provided for the training of men and women for war work - the manufacture of arms and munitions - and technical men for the Army, Navy and Air Force. That part of the scheme was started in 1939. By the middle of 1944, 119,500- odd men and women had trained under it. Then the second part of the scheme, known as the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Technical Training Scheme, came into operation, as a part of the general re-establishment plan. That began in March, 1944, and to the end of June last, approximately 55,50.0 men were trained. At the request of the various home building associations, a special class is now being conducted to train men in the building construction industry. The plan is to train by the end of this year about 1,600 men for building construction work. Actually 5,000 are undergoing the course. The cost to the Commonwealth of the re-establishment training scheme to the 30th June last was about £2,500,000. The total cost of the entire training scheme since the beginning of 1939 is not yet available, but it will be between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000. The reestablishment training scheme will expire during the next two or three years. By that time, all trainees should have finished their course. The agreement entered into between the Commonwealth and the States provides for the distribution of the assets. On the termination of the scheme, at a date to be agreed upon and under conditions to be arranged, all the assets, the original ones and those added by the Commonwealth, will revert to the States, and become the permanent assets for technical training in the future.
– Recently, according to a report in the Adelaide press, Mr. Shannon, M.H.A., who was also a director of the South Australian -Farmers Cooperative Union Limited, stated that there was a grave shortage of wheat sacks in this country, and that it was unpardonable for the Commonwealth authorities controlling jute imports to have allowed such a position to arise. As this statement could cause panic amongst buyers of wheat sacks I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether there is any truth in it?
– For some years past the Australian Wheat Board has been responsible for the importation of sacks not only for use by the wheat-growers, but also for other purposes.. The hoard is fully aware of the facts. There is a world-wide shortage of jute, but I believe the board may be relied upon to take all necessary precautions. There is no need for alarm amongst wheat-growers.
– -Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture state whether representations have been made to the Hides and Leather Board for the establishment of a hide appraisement centre at Goulburn ? If so, did the board refuse to establish such a centre? In view of the fact that cold-country hides from the Monaro are railed past Goulburn to the appraisement centre in Sydney, from which they are purchased by the Goulburn tannery and freighted back, with greatly added cost, to the tannery and the boot factory, thus tending to cripple a country industry, will the Minister have the application for the provision of a hide appraisement centre at Goulburn reexamined by the Hides and Leather Board with a view to having such a centre established ?
– I shall order a full investigation of this matter. I can assure the honorable member that I personally, like other members of the Government, am in favour of decentralization, not only of hide appraisement centres and hide sales, but also of wool appraisement centres and sales.
– Are you Mr.
Speaker, yet in a position to give a reply to the. honorable member for
Cook and the honorable member for Griffith, who have asked whether the first records of the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings in this country are to be destroyed or retained as objects of historic interest?
– The matter has been the subject of an inquiry. I regret that up to date I have not furnished the honorable members with a reply to their questions,but I assure them that a statement will be made within a day or two.
– On the notice-paper of this chamber are four items concerning aviation. Some relate to civil aviation and others to the Royal Australian Air Force. They are ministerial statements relative to the interim Air Force, retirement of senior Air Force officers, civil aviation developments, and what I might describe as revelations relating to Air Vice-Marshal Bostock’s discoveries concerning duplication in the administration of the Royal Australian Air Force.
– Order ! The honorable member is not entitled to place his own interpretation on an item of business on the notice-paper.
– The last item is recorded on the notice-paper as “Royal Australian Air Force - Newspaper articles alleging maladministration and unsound organization - Ministerial statement - Motion for printing paper “. Will the motions relative to these subjects, which are of some importance and to a degree related, be debated before the Parliament is prorogued?
– Whetheror not they will be debated will depend on the expedition with which honorable members dispose of legislation placed before them.
– In a portion of the Brunswick and Coburg exchange area many people have been waiting for five years or more for the provision of a telephone service. The underground cable position there has been acute since 1939 and nothing has yet been done to improve it. What is the prospect of applicants in that area being provided with telephones in the near future?
-I shall ask the Postmaster-General to consider the honorable member’s request for information as to when telephones may be provided for the applicants he has mentioned. Telephone facilities are being supplied as rapidly as possible. Since the end of the war at least 60,000 new telephones have been installed throughout Australia. Between 1939 and 1945, however, the Postmaster-General’s Department was able to provide very few additional telephones. The principal difficulty to be overcome is the shortage of exchanges but buildings are being erected as rapidly as circumstances permit.
– Has the Minister for the Army seen an article which was published in the Sunday Telegraph relative to the disturbance at Gibraltar some weeks ago ? It purports to give first-hand information from a sergeant who was a member of the Victory Contingent, and who alleged in a letter to Mr. Burton, of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia in Sydney, that he witnessed the affray and that the attack had come first from the Spanish police, that members of the Victory Contingent were attacked with
Datons, and that after that provocative battering had taken place, the melee had occurred? In view of these new facts will the right honorable gentleman consider Australian representation at the inquiry into the incident in order to obtain at first hand facts which would exonerate our soldiers from the libellous charges that have been published about them ?
– I have not seen the article to which the honorable member refers, but I shall peruse it. An inquiry is now being held by the Governor of Gibraltar, not into the incident on that day, but into the co-operation between the civil police and the military police. It was intended that should the conduct of any Australian be considered at the inquiry, we should send MajorGeneral Eather back from Colombo to Gibraltar; but we have been told that the inquiry will not concern the conduct of any Australian.
– It should.
– Having such a high opinion of the Australian contingent, which consists of picked men, half of whom had won decorations during the war, I felt sure that if there had been any slight misconduct on their part it must have been due to very great provocation. I shall take into consideration the thoughtful representations which the honorable member has made on their behalf.
” Australia and Your Future “ :
Living Costs - Polish Servicemen
– Is the booklet entitled Australia and Your Future published by the authority and under the direction of the Minister for Information ? Is it p blished with th’e specific object of attracting migrants to Australia? Does the Minister consider that the following statements in that booklet are an accurate presentation of the facts -
Were any women engaged in the compilation of the booklet, or the checking of the information it contained, particularly regarding rents and prices? Has the Minister himself recently been shopping?
– The publication to which the honorable member refers is an official publication of the Department of Information. It is published by my authority and under my direction. The information supplied to the department comes from the Statistician’s Office and deals with normal conditions in this country. When we tell the people of Great Britain the conditions in Australia, we tell them of the conditions in normal times. We are not issuing pamphlets dealing with the abnormal conditions existing in the difficult period of transition from war to peace; but I am sure that if the people of Australia support this Government and its policy of full employment, the conditions indicated in the booklet will exist in this country by the time the migrants arrive. ‘
– I desire to ask the
Minister for Immigration a ‘ question regarding the- .possibility of obtaining migrants from among the troops of the Polish Army who, since the beginning of World War II. fought on the side of the Allies beside Empire troops and on many occasions, in close co-operation with Australian troops. As some 90,000 of those troops are unwilling to return to their home-land under its present system of government, and taking into account that most of them are of fine types, will the Minister make special efforts toattract them to Australia as migrants, and offer them assisted passages?
– The admission of Polish troops to the Commonwealth has been under notice on several occasions. To date, the Commonwealth Government has not decided to admit any Polish troops or any troops of any former allied power. Our primary concern is to i bring to Australia the fiancees of servicemen, numbering 800, and .stranded Australians numbering between . 4,000 and 5,000, and’ then British ex-servicemen who wish to come here with their dependants. Our preference is given to British ex-servicemen and their dependants, and after that, to British civilians and their dependants. For the former class, free passages will be provided, and to the latter class, assisted passages will be granted. I cannot promise the honorable member that before the elections are held. I shall consider providing assisted passages for Poles or any other Allied peoples. That matter will have to await my attention after the elections.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping whether the Government recently chartered the ship Delamere to the Queensland firm of John Burke Limited? If so, as the shipping available, particularly to ‘ north Queensland ports, is very limited and as Delamere will be used exclusively on the Queensland coast, when will it be released ? Will 4he Minister expedite the release of the ship to J ohn Burke Limited in order to relieve the shortage of shipping trading to north Queensland ports?
– I shall ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to provide the information asked for.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether the articles appearing in Tasmanian news1 papers on Saturday, stating that he is making a recommendation to Cabinet for the continuation of the apple and pear acquisition scheme for another year, are correct? If they are, -has the Minister yet had an opportunity to present his recommendation to Cabinet, and if so, with what result?
– I shall read the articles and let the honorable member know later whether they are correct of not.
Stocks in Western Australia.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that there is a stack of 42,000 feet of 5-in. by 1-in. tongue and groove flooring timber at Nungarin Ordnance’ Depot? Will he take immediate action to have this much needed flooring timber made available to the Disposals Commission, so that it can be released to the building trade in Western Australia ?
– I was not aware of the alleged fact, but I assume that the honorable gentleman would not make the statement if he did not know it to be true. Therefore, I shall give immediate consideration to the very helpful suggestion that he has made.
– Has the Minister for Agriculture, or any representative of ‘his department, made any requests to the State governments to undertake fodder conservation in view of the present likelihood of a fine growing season for fodder crops? Has the honorable gentleman made any attempt to have surplus fodder conserved in view of constantly recurring droughts throughout Australia?
– Fodder conservation is primarily a. responsibility of the States. The matter has been fully discussed with representatives of the States at various meetings of the Agricultural Council, and several State governments have undertaken extensive fodder conservation schemes. I know that the Minister for Agriculture in Victoria is very interested in the work, and I am confident that the government of that State will do everything possible to assist in fodder conservation. This will be the first fodder conservation scheme undertaken in Victoria.
Public Statements bt Ministers.
– Has the Prime Minister seen a report in the . Melbourne Herald of the 29tb July, which states that the British Prime Minister, Mr. Attlee, has instructed members of his cabinet that henceforth they must not make any speeches on controversial subjects without first obtaining his permission, and that he has also informed them that he wants to see the script of all speeches prepared by them before, they are delivered ? In view of the widely divergent views on’ matters of public interest expressed by members of his own cabinet, does the Prime Minister intend to take similar action, or will the electors be allowed to understand that in Australia there is no such thing as joint cabinet responsibility or any real sense of cabinet loyalty?
– I have not seen the report, but if such a statement has been attributed to the British Prime Minister, I have no doubt that it is entirely incorrect. I have already answered questions similar to the second part of the honorable- member’s question by saying that I consider the members of this Government to be at complete liberty to express opinions which are not at variance with the Government’s general policy. I have nothing to add to that.
In Committee of Ways ‘and Means: Consideration .resumed from the 26th July (vide page 3223), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That a tax be imposed upon incomes at the following rates:-‘ * . . (vide* page 2461).
Upon which Mr. Fadden had ‘ moved by way of amendment -
That paragraph 1 be postponed.
.- The committee discussed on Friday the must vaunted tax reductions proposed by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), whose exact words in relation to them I quote -
The new combined rates of income tax and social services contribution represent an overall reduction of 22 per cent, from the peak, war-time rates first enacted in 1943. On that basis the reductions range from more than 47 per cent, on the lowest incomes to something under 20 per cent, on incomes exceeding £1,500.
That statement is grossly misleading. The heavily mulct taxpayer is being led to believe that the Government is more or less reverting to the taxation imposed in pre-war years. Nothing of the kind is proposed. The Government, being a taxing machine, has to obtain the revenues it requires to enable it’ to function. But there is a wide’ margin between the taxation that is needed for peace-time purposes, and that which is required for purposes of war. The stage has been reached when a substantial reduction of- taxes should be made. The maintenance of high rates is extremely unjust to every taxpayer ; and unjust taxation of any sort is tyrannical. The rates imposed to-day are so high as to be the principal cause of the industrial problems with which we are confronted. We frequently inveigh in this Parliament against the number- of strikes that occur. It is well known that- industry in Victoria is seriously curtailed by strikes in New South Wales. Large numbers of men are being dismissed from many industries because of insufficiency of coal supplies. Honorable members on both sides of the committee will- concede that the working man has lost the incentive to produce to his maximum capacity, because of heavy taxation. That applies not only to the working man, but also to the professional man, who realizes that the extra income he receives if he works a little harder or longer hours, places him in a higher tax group and causes him to contribute more to the Treasury. Being only human, he decides not to expend his energies for the sole benefit of the Treasurer. A shibboleth among working men to-day is, “ We will not work- extra time for Chif.”, by which they mean that they will not increase their incomes because only the Treasurer will derive the benefit. The men in employment will be exasperated when they discover that they have been misled by being induced to believe that their taxes are to be considerably . reduced. A year ago, I placed before the Treasurer the proposition that earnings from overtime should be taxed at a rate different from that imposed on normal earnings; but it was rejected. There is now an agitation for a higher basic wage, and the matter is being discussed by the proper authorities. The parasites in industry - Communists and the like - prey upon the fears of the working man, and try to make him believe that he is underpaid, when the truth is that a substantial proportion of his earnings is being taken from him by the Government, which with great unction pretends to be his friend. The Treasurer has claimed that the cost to the Government of the proposed reductions will be £17,500,000. That is not true, because, the Government will merely forgo a part of the surplus revenue itwill receive this- year, due to the greater number of persons engaged in production. Proof of that is to be found in the increase of the revenue last year despite the tax reductions that were then made. The taxation per capita was approximately £6 a head prior to the war, whereas to-day it is £30 a head. The war having ended, the Government should curb its desire to launch into socialistic enterprises involving an expenditure of millions of pounds, such as nationalized air services, the aluminium industry and the building of palatial edifices which could well be postponed at a time when the housing of the people should be the main objective. The money of the taxpayers is being poured out like water on such ventures, with the result that the proposed tax reductions are not so great as they ought to be. There should be a return to the pre-war level of taxation as early as possible. High taxation not only penalizes the worker but also restricts business enterprises.
– The honorable member is thinking of the man with the big income.
– I am thinking of the men who have small incomes, and of the ex-serviceman who is trying to establish himself in business under great difficulties, including heavy taxes. When the ex-serviceman- enlisted six years ago, the level of taxation was considerably lower than it is to-day. He is now being penalized by higher rents, increased costs of goods, and heavier taxes. The Government professes to aim at conserving the welfare of the men on the lower incomes, but instead of doing so it is punishing them the more grievously, because the’ man who has a very big income can look after himself. High taxation causes goods to become scarce, and this leads to a banking-up ‘ of savings, which encourages black marketing. That is an obvious corollary. If the people cannot obtain goods readily and regularly, the black marketeer flourishes. By -reducing taxes” to the minimum, the Government would give a great stimulus to industry, and help to regain our export trade, a portion of which was renounced when classconscious Communists in Sydney decided that exports to Java, which previously was an important customer of Australia, should be prohibited. I shall examine some of the figures, with a view to proving that the Government is giving back to the” people only a little of the extra revenue it has received. The Treasurer more or less fills the role of the cashier in a circus, because he rakes in money “from every individual with very little effort; but he differs from that person inasmuch as he spends it prodigally. Here, summarized, are the results of his much advertised tax reductions: A bachelor n to have his tax of £5 15s. 5d. .reduced by 2s. 4d. a week; and a man and his wife will have restored to them 9d. a week each - which will buy a lot for them !
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The committee is asked to adopt a schedule devised for the purpose of relieving taxpayers of a portion of the heavy burden of income tax which they. carried during the war period. The implication of the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) is that he does not desire income tax rates to be reduced immediately. If the schedule were postponed, as requested by him, the present rates would operate, and relief would not be afforded until some future time. The right honorable gentleman states that the schedule is defective, and that the scale of reductions is slovenly. The benefit proposed for single men is, .in his opinion, too great as compared with married men. He gave instances of what he regarded as an inequitable distribution of the tax burden under the proposed scale. Of course, a completely equitable system of taxation, whether relating to either direct or indirect taxes, has never yet been devised. The higher the amount of tax to be collected in order to meet the commitments of the Government, the greater are the number of defects and the more glaring are the anomalies. The reduction now proposed does not go so far as we should like. Although the income tax has been burdensome during the war, it does not appear to have seriously affected the prosperity of the majority of the people. Figures presented on Friday by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) indicated a considerable increase of deposits in savings banks, which clearly shows general prosperity in the community. Side by side with that fact is the satisfactory position with regard to employment. Therefore, the heavy income tax has not restricted “employment, nor has it reduced the savings bank accounts of the people.
The Leader of the Australian Country party stated that a single man in receipt of an income of £500 a year will pay 7:3. 6d. a week tax less ; a married1 man Gs. a week less; if he has one child 4s. lid. a week less; and if two chil dren, 4s. 5d. a week less. The right honorable gentleman described the table of reductions as slovenly and unjust, implying that a single man has received preference in the drawing up of this scale. But the present Government has increased the amount of child endowment payable to a married man with a wife and two children, and that to some degree offsets the burdensome nature of the income tax. A married man in receipt of £150 a year will, under this proposal, pay no income tax, although previously he paid £3 9s. a year. I am making a comparison between the position in 1943 and that under the scale now introduced. A man with a wife and three children, and in receipt of £250 a year, will not pay any tax. A man with a wife and four children, and in receipt of £275 a year, will not pay any tax. A man with a wife and five children, and in receipt of £300 a year, will pay income tax to the amount of only 12s. a year, or about 3d. a week. Therefore, comparing the revised scale with that in operation in 1943, we find that the Government has made considerable concessions to income-earners in the lower wage groups. The Leader of the Australian Country party remarked that the Government pretended to be a friend of the working man. The Government of which the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) was a member did not reduce the income tax of persons in the lower wage groups. The reductions which it sponsored benefited only those inthe higher income ranges.
– Those in the lower income groups were not then taxed at all.
– Of course they were. In addition to the fact that a taxpayer with four children, and in receipt of £275 a year, will pay no income tax at all under the present proposals, he receives child endowment at the rate of 7s. 6d. a week in respect of three of the four children, and gets the increased social service benefits that have been introduced during the last few years. Therefore, it is nonsensical to say that the Government is no friend of the working man.
– The honorable member should now refer to the position of taxpayers in the £300 a year group.
– I have mentioned figures which give a true picture of the position, and show the relief that has been provided for taxpayers under a system which the Leader of the Australian Country party has described as slovenly. Every person in receipt of a reasonably good income should make a contribution towards the cost of social services. The Social Services Committee, of which I am chairman, made a recommendation to that effect, and the scale of income tax introduced for the provision of social services was adopted largely on the recommendation of the committee. It is always possible’ to argue that taxation ought not to be so high, that we ought to take something off this section and put something more on to .some other section; but this provision is evidence of the’ Government’s desire to reduce the burden of taxation by as much as possible. Some relief is afforded to everybody. It may be possible, as one honorable member, pointed out, that the single man receiving £500 a year receives greater benefit comparatively than the married man, but anomalies are inevitable in the devising of any taxation scale. The new scale does not afford so much relief as we would like to see ; but it does lighten the burden, and I believe that the people -have cheerfully accepted the view that they must pay for the war and the re-establishment of servicemen. As a first instalment of relief in this -first year of peace, the present scale goes a long way towards meeting the desires of the public. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) said that it ought to be possible to reduce taxation by 40 per cent, over a period of three years. Let me point out that reductions already made by this Government amount to 22 per cent., and a continuation of the present rate of reduction would amount to 39 per cent, over a period of three years.
– As usual, in a debate of this kind, a great deal of unnecessary talk has been indulged in to obscure the real issue. Common sense has been smothered frequently by the use of economic jargon and rhetoric. The question is not who won the war, or how stable is our economy compared with that of other countries, but whether our economy is itself essentially stable. A further test is : Does the family receive due consideration? That, I maintain, is the touch-, stone of public finance, an indication of the kind of national balance we may expect.
Honorable* members opposite have devoted a lot of time to attempting to justify what I regard as an unsatisfactory financial position. They have sought to show by various means that our economy is entirely healthy. They have pointed to the amount of money in the savings banks, and to the increased spending power in the hands of the people, but they have ignored the excessive expenditure on luxuries, they have ignored the enormous, even the abnormal, increase of gambling, and they have ignored altogether the flourishing black market. Are. those signs of financial health ? I should say they were anything but that. They are rather the accompaniment - indeed, the symptoms - of an inflationary condition. However much they may be regarded as the results of the war - and I agree that they are largely the results of the war - they nevertheless constitute a constant menace, and those who try to obscure the facts are doing their country no service at all.
Let us consider, first of all, the savings bank deposits. They represent merely delayed spending power in the purchase of those goods which are normally available in abundance, hut which to-day are non-existent. It is true that we have money in the bank - money in the bank but not shoes enough to go round ; money in the bank, but not enough suits of clothes, dresses or underclothing; money in the hank but not enough household furnishing or enough homes. Is that, I ask, a sign of economic health ? I suggest that the money in the savings banks represents, to only a very small degree, savings by the family man.
– Savings bank deposits have trebled compared with 1941.
– I have already stated some of the reasons for this, and I am about to add more. The money is In the savings bank partly because the goods are not available on which to spend it. In addition, a great deal of the savings bank deposits represents the savings of young married couples who, owing to the war, have’ not been able to set up their homes. In most instances, the wife was living in the home of her parents, while the husband was away on active service, so that she was able to save much more than would have been otherwise possible. I myself ‘know of several such couples who have been able to save as much as £1,000, which is a considerable amount of money. In many instances, the wife has, in addition, been earning, so that she has been able to put away more money. Thousands of men on service made allotments with the provision that the money was to be paid into a savings bank account for their use on their return. Another factor is that £62,000,000 has been passed out in deferred pay in the last twelve months, and a large part of that is in savings banks. All these deposits, however, have very little bearing on the health of the family economy.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) resorted to the language of. the schools - very impressive, but a little misleading. He spoke, for instance, of the high velocity of the circulation of money, which he regarded as an excellent thing. In some instances, it undoubtedly is, but I point out that the greatest velocity of circulation to-day is on the race-course. It is of such a character asto astound -most people who are not familiar with the facts. The velocity of circulation is of such a character, that in the Victorian racing season, through the totalisator alone, £7,000,000 changed hands. There is also a pretty high velocity of circulation in the workers’ homes. I doubt whether it can rightly be described - as circulation, because the money which enters in the pay envelope by the front door goes straight out of the back door before it has time to circulate at all. When we consider the cost of household goods, particularly children’s clothing and household furnishings, we can reach no other conclusion than that there can be very little stay of proceedings in a worker’s home. Another important aspect of this subject is the quality of the goods available for family use. Any one who has been a member of a large family, or has tried to cope with the requirements of a large family, will know that .the general practice has been to cut down father’s pants for the boys, and mother’s skirts for the girls.
– Sob stuff!
– It is interesting to hear the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) speak in such terms of the struggles of people with small incomes and large families. I assure the honorable member that a woman who tries to make ends meet in a home where the family is large and the income small has a difficult, if not impossible, task. In’ the past the quality of the clothes worn by the parents was such that garments could be cut down for use by the children, but the poor quality of clothing now available does not permit that to be done.
Mr. - Conelan.- People have more money now to buy what they want.
– It is clear that honorable members opposite are not prepared to face the facts. I am pointing out the difficulties confronting certain sections of the community, but honorable members opposite apparently do not wish to have the facts presented to them. In the past women have been more or less inarticulate in regard to these matters, but’ the time has come for more consideration to be given to those who are trying to raise families. Previous governments, as well as the present Government; should have done more in this direction. We hear a good deal of Australia’s need for’ a far greater population, but what is being done to assist those who would have larger families? They are given very little practical encouragement. . The committee is indebted to the Leader of the Australian Country’ party (Mr. Fadden), himself a brilliant accountant, for his clear disclosure of the misstatements that have been made in this place. - The right honorable gentleman gave to the committee certain figures which the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr, White) was about to present when his time expired.
– I shall speak again later.
– I shall repeat what has already been said in order to emphasize that the concessions to be granted under this schedule are unfair to married men, compared with the treatment meted out to single men. Under these proposals, a single man with an income of £250 a year will save ls. 4d. a week in taxes, whereas a married man on the same income and without children will . save only ls. 2d. a week. A married man with .one child will pay only 6d. a week less than he was called upon to pay previously, and a married man with two children will be better off by only 2d. a week. On that reasoning, it would appear that a man with three children will not receive any concession at all.
– The point is what each of them pays as taxes.
– A single man with an income of £400 a year will save 5s.’ Id. a week under these proposals, whereas a married man with two children will pay only 2s.- 6d. a week less than hitherto. The- right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) said that a single man is entitled to a greater measure of relief because he pays more tax, but I point out that the needs of the family man are very much greater and also much more urgent. A pair of boots for a boy of eleven years costs about 19s. 6d., according to the pamphlet to which I referred at question time, and an overcoat for him requires an expenditure of about £3 10s. The price of household drapery has increased by 75 per cent, in recent years. It is in the family home where these things suffer from wear and tear, not in the home where only adults live. These items form no part of the expenses of a single man who lives in a boarding-house. The seriousness of the position has been accentuated by the rebate system introduced by the present Government. There had been disclaimers concerning ,the results of that system, but when it was introduced I consulted with Treasury officials and obtained some interesting information from them. Under the rebate system, a man who had an income of £500 a year had at the rate then operating a tax liability of £136 13s., less a rebate of £72 16s., making his net tax £63 17s. Under the deduction system previously in force his net tax would have been about £40. It will be seen, therefore, that under the rebate system he had to pay about £24 a year more as tax. The family man is hit hard by the rebate system.
– What are the figures for a man with an income of £300 a year?
– I have not the particulars with me. I have taken £500 because that income had already entered into the debate.
– An income of £300 a year would be more in accordance with the amount received by the average worker.
– Honorable members opposite continually say that we on this side are concerned more with the interests of the wealthier sections of the community than with those with smaller incomes. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- As I have listened to the arguments of honorable members opposite I have noticed that many” of their arguments cancel one another. The speech of the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) would give one the impression that only those sitting on the Opposition benches know anything of poverty. I was the youngest member of a family of nine, and my father worked from daylight till dark for 5s. a day. As a young married man I had to maintain a wife and family on £3 8s. a week. I claim to know more of the struggles of .the working man than does the ‘ honorable member for Darwin. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) said that there was not sufficient money in circulation to give a fillip to industry, but according to the honorable member for Darwin the trouble is that there is plenty of money but nothing to buy with it. The honorable member for Balaclava also spoke of the prevalence of blackmarkets, but I point out that blackmarketing arises from a shortage of goods and large purchasing power in the hands of the public. If people have not money to spend there can be no blackmarket. Both the honorable member for
Balaclava and the honorable member ‘for Darwin endeavoured to compare the tax paid by a single man with that paid by a married man with a family, but they resolutely refused to give any figures to show what tax was payable before the reduction was made. The former said that it was a pity that the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) had not circulated figures showing the effect of his proposals. The honorable member for Balaclava said -
If the right honorable gentleman gave that information and at the same time made a forecast of the proposed future reductions it would go a long way to restoring the optimism of the people.
The honorable member has received a copy of the figures to which I shall now refer. They show that a single man in receipt of an income of £125 a year paid £6 ls. in income tax under the 1943 schedule, and will pay £3 4s. under the proposed schedules - a reduction of £2 17s., or 47.1 per cent. A single man on £200 a year paid £21 17s. in tax under the 1943 schedule and will pay £12 18s. under the proposed schedules, representing a reduction of £8 19s., or 41 per cent. A single man on £300 a year paid £55 under the 1943 schedules >and will pay £40 under the proposed schedules, the reduction being £15 or 27.2 per cent. Similarly, on an income of £500 a single man .paid £136 13s. under the 1943 schedule and will pay £98 7s. under the proposed new schedules, the reduction in this case being £38 6s., or 28.1 per cent. An income of £500 a year, of course, is considerably above that derived by the average worker. Let us compare now the payments by a single man under the proposed schedules with those of a married man with two children. A married man with two children, on an income of £500 a year, paid £80 17s. under the 1943 schedules, and will pay £58 ls. under’ the proposed schedules, representing a reduction of £22 16s. or 28.2 per cent. Therefore, at this income level, a married man with two children will pay £58 ls., compared with £98 7s. paid by a single man. It is quite true that in some- cases the tax concessions now provided for represent only small weekly reductions. For instance, a married man with one child, in receipt of £250 a year, which is about the basic wage, will pay only £5 4s. a year under the proposed schedules, and, of course, will receive much more than that by way of social services. On. the same income, a married man with two children will pay only £2 2s. in tax. If there -be any merit in the arguments advanced by honorable members opposite that the Government is not giving sufficient concessions to taxpayers in the lower wage groups, it is that we should give all concessions to people in those groups and none to earners of higher incomes. With that I entirely agree. Let us look at the figures for incomes at the other end of the scale. A taxpayer with’ an income from personal exertion of £5,000 a year . is to receive a reduction of only 6.8 per cent, compared with the 1945 schedules, or 16.6 per cent, compared with the 1943 schedules; but the latter reduction will be worth £586 5s. a year. When honorable members opposite talk about a flat rate reduction of 40 per cent., it is not difficult to see to what groups in the community such a. concession would be of most value. This apparent concern amongst Opposition members for members of the lower wage groups is so much political propaganda. Looking at a newspaper the other day I read that the Olympic Tyre Company had made £95,000 in profit during the last financial year, and that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited had paid out profits amounting to £750,000 after putting a substantial amount into reserves for taxation.
– How many shareholders has the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited?
– I am not talking about the shareholders. I am merely showing that the finances of these companies are in a buoyant’ state, and that their turnover must be very high. Most industrial organizations are showing profits equal to or greater than/those of the war years. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) said that, we should get back to pre-war taxation. He knows that is impossible.
– I said we should get as close to it as possible.
– The honorable member said that we should get back to it. I have his words before me. He knows that social services are now costing £75,000,000 a year compared with £17,000,000 before the war. He is fully aware also that social services are a means of returning to people in the lower income groups some of the profits made by industry. In 1945-46, as has been pointed out in the financial statement, 48 per cent, of the budget war expenditure was made up as follows : - “
It is true that some of that expenditure is non-recurring, but war debt charges, for instance, will undoubtedly continue as they did after the war of 1914-18. Although we came through “World War II. practically unscathed, as far as material damage is- concerned, it cost much money and many lives. As the Treasurer’s statement shows, war debt charges alone amounted to £42,000,000 last year. That sum is in addition to repatriation charges. These expenses must be met. We must face the fact that we cannot return to pre-war budgets immediately. Already taxation has been reduced by 22 per cent. - ranging from 6 per cent, on high incomes to 40 per cent, on low incomes - and it will continue to fall as expenditure goes down. Let us have a little more honesty in- our discussions. The agruments advanced by the honorable member for Balaclava, and the honorable member for. Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) are dishonestly designed to make people in the lower income groups believe that the Opposition will do something for them.
– I rise to order. I regard the remarks of the honorable member for Swan imputing to me dishonesty as personally offensive, and I ask that they be withdrawn.
– The remarks of the honorable member for Swan are personally offensive to the honorable member for Darwin, and I ask him to withdraw them.
– I withdraw them. The honorable member for Balaclava is the most confused speaker I have ‘ever heard. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) also advanced arguments that were designed to confuse. As an ex-Treasurer, he should know better. I assume that we shall hear more from him in this debate. My main object in rising was to reply to honorable members opposite who have alleged that the taxation concessions proposed by the Government will mean only reductions of a few pence a week to taxpayers. ;They were not presenting a true picture. They should have shown what income tax will be paid and what the reductions mean in actual cash.
– Resuming my argument from the point at which it was interrupted by the time limit, I emphasize that the rebate system of tax introduced by- this Government gives the greatest advantage to high income earners. In respect of the first child of’ a taxpayer a debate of £75 is allowed. The rate of tax is first calculated, and then it is multiplied by 75 to arrive at the actual reduction. For instance, if a taxpayer is paying 10s. in the £1, his deduction in respect of his first child will be 75 multiplied by 10s. If he pays at the rate of 2s. 6d. his rate will be only 75 halfcrowns. Here are some interesting figures on .that point. A man on £2,250 a year - and that is about the point at which this concession disappears - receives a deduction of £37 19s. from his income tax in respect of his first child. If he receives only £250 per annum, or £2,000 less, he is entitled to ‘a rebate of only £11 in respect of his first child. During the debate that took place when these two systems of assessing tax were originally considered, I pointed out that it was entirely wrong in principle to allow a greater deduction for the first child than for the second and subsequent children. Any one who has had anything to do with bringing up a family, knows that two children are capable of doing more than twice as much damage as one. As the family increases the liability to damage may be said to proceed in geometrical progression. An only child has far less opportunity for mischief than if it were one of a number of . children. The greater the number of children in a family the greater the wear and tear imposed- on the health of the mother, and the greater the possibility of infectious diseases entering the home because of added contacts with the outside world. In considering the incidence of income tax, sufficient attention has never been given . to the needs of the family man. A taxpayer supporting his wife is entitled to a rebate of £100 .provided that his wife’s separate income does not exceed £50 per annum; but in the case of a daughter supporting her mother, if the mother is in receipt of any income at all the daughter cannot claim a rebate. That is another version of the old adage that’ the woman always pays. I strongly support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Australian Country party. Whilst I do not believe it will have the effect of increasing the birth-rate, I do believe that it will lighten the burden on the shoulders of those upon whom the whole future hope of this country rests.
.- I join in this debate principally to reply to some extraordinary statements that were made by honorable members opposite. Sometimes when I hear members of the Opposition make such completely mis-, leading statements I find it difficult to believe my own ears. The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) spoke of the reforms which might be brought about to benefit working-class people. Yet in an earlier debate the honorable member said that everybody should be prepared to pay at least some little contribution to government funds.
– Even if it were as low as threepence.
– That is so. Now, however, the honorable member states that this Government has done nothing to assist people in the lower income groups, particularly those with family responsibilities. Under the proposals now before us a married man with a wife and three children who is in receipt of an income of £250 per annum from personal exertion will pay no tax whatever. The Government does not call upon such a person to pay ‘even the threepence suggested by the honorable member. As a matter of fact, the wife of such a man would receive 15s. a week in child endowment. Honorable members opposite have contended that the growth in the bank savings of the people is not an indication of the prosperity of the people generally. I am firmly convinced that the increase of bank deposits has been possible- only because so many people have enjoyed continuity of employment throughout the war period. Reference has been made also to black marketing. It is true that black marketing of certain commodities is rife ; but surely it is not suggested that those who operate the black market are working-class people. Black market operators ‘ are invariably people with ample financial resources. Not long ago the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) stated in this chamber that when the war was over we would come out , of the ordeal well if all we had was what we then stood up in. What a contrast to the statements made by honorable gentlemen opposite today! In his speech on the budget last year the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said that if “the continuance of high taxes and restrictive controls were the price of freedom we had secured it cheaply. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) and other honorable members have claimed that the incidence of high taxes has retarded the development of industry. During the last twelve months I have been doing everything- in my power to prevent monopolists from securing the right to import articles to the detriment of our local manufacturers. It is clear that if the Government removed restrictions on imports the opportunities for the full employment of the people would be reduced. The Leader of the Australian Country party cited a series of figures which were- most difficult to understand because of the rapid manner in which his speech was delivered. I gathered from his remarks, however, that he sought to have the people .believe that if the parties opposite were returned to office, he and the Leader of the Opposition would bring about a 40 per cent, reduction of taxes. The right honorable gentleman, however, did not indicate which section of the’ community would benefit from such a magnificent gesture. During the campaign preceding the last elections the right honorable gentleman told .the people that if he were returned to office he would reduce taxes by one-third. The people, however, did not fall for such a promise. They knew very well that the only worthwhile reforms have emanated from Labour governments, both Commonwealth and State. I propose to cite some figures in order to refute some of the misleading statements made by honorable members opposite during the course of this debate. A single man in receipt of £250 per annum in 1943 paid in tax an amount of £36 14s. In 1945 he paid £30 6s.; and under the new schedule he’ will pay £26 17s. In 1943 a married man with a wife and two children with an income of £250 paid £2 18s. income tax, and under the proposed schedule he will pay only £2 2s. Thus, we see that under the new schedule whilst a single man will pay’ tax amounting to £26 17s., a married man with a wife and two children will pay only £2 2s., or less than ls. a week, in return for which he will be .eligible to receive the insurance benefits and social services provided by the Government. Therefore, I support the tax reduction proposals. However, the Government will make further reductions as circumstances permit. Honorable members opposite advocate a reduction -of income taxation by 40 per cent., but none of them has said when such reductions will commence. When dealing with tax reductions we must remember that the Government is committed to pay £70,000,000 in respect of the deferred pay of exservice personnel and approximately the same amount in respect of war gratuity. Do honorable members opposite suggest that the Government should repudiate - those obligations simply in order to effect a further reduction of taxes before circumstances warrant? We are committed to that degree, and we can meet our. commitments only from tax revenue. However, I ‘ again ask honor able members opposite, when they glibly advocate a reduction of 40 per cent., to state when they would propose that such reductions should commence. Of course, it is easy for honorable members in opposition to paint a pretty picture which does not square with the facts, but the Government bears the responsibility. Since the war ended this Government has made two reductions of tax. Under the guidance of the Prime Minister, who is one of the ablest treasurers yet to hold office in this country, we have been able to marshal our financial resources in one of the most crucial periods of our history. Despite the difficulties arising from war expenditure, he has stabilized the nation’s finances and maintained economic equilibrium. I commend him for the reductions of tax which he has already effected. I assure the workers of this country that further reductions will be made as circumstances permit, but the Government will refuse to make any reduction which would jeopardize existing social services:
.- Honorable member’s opposite have gone to great .pains to show that a substantial reduction of income tax has been made, and that the person most in need of tax relief, namely, the married man, has benefited most by the Government’s decisions. The honorable member for Boothby’ (Mr. Sheehy) is prominent among honorable members . opposite- who are becoming very alarmed at the dissatisfaction being registered throughout the country with the paucity of the reductions being made. Therefore, those honorable gentlemen manipulate figures to show that the workers are being given a marvellous deal. The honorable member for Boothby said that under the proposed schedule a single taxpayer with an income of £250 would pay tax amounting to £26 17s. a year, whereas a married man in the same income class with a wife and two children would pay only £2 2s. That is a difference of £24 15s. That means that a married man with a wife and two children will be given £24 15s. with which to provide for his three dependants. .
– Plus child endowment.
– Child endowment has nothing to do with this matter. Perhaps the honorable member for Boothby makes his revelations simply because he is a comparatively new member. I have no doubt that an experienced member would advise him to put the soft pedal on his statement that he was using every endeavour to . prevent the importation of manufactured goods because it might adversely affect employment in, I presume, South Australia. If the primary industries of this country are to flourish and find a market for the products which we produce in abundance such as butter, wheat, meat, wool, dried fruits and apples, we must import manufactured goods from other countries in return for the exports which we expect them to take from us. That applies particularly to the United Kingdom market. Great Britain suffered financially more than any other combatant in the last war. The resources and reserves which it possessed when war broke out disappeared during the course of the conflict. The Mother Country was obliged to liquidate its funds in the United States of America and other countries. Consequently, to-day, in order to be able to purchase our primary products, Great Britain must export 150 .per cent, more than it’ exported in 1939. Who is going to buy those additional British exports? Will it be such countries as the Argentine, South Africa, India, Russia or Czechoslovakia? We know that Great Britain can expect to- sell those additional exports principally within the British Empire. We know that the substantial market which we must find for primary products grown in this country must, and will, be in the United Kingdom. Therefore, when the honorable member for Boothby reveals that the Labour party proposes to erect insurmountable barrier against imports from the United Kingdom, it is clear that that party is driving a nail in the coffin of primary industries in this country. Such a proposal is utterly reckless. Nevertheless, I congratulate the honorable member upon the candour with which he has revealed the real policy of the Labour party in this matter. No Minister would be game to make a statement of that kind, because the Govern ment does not want the public to know its real intention.
I turn now to the Government’s disregard and lack of understanding of our primary industries in its tax- reduction proposals. I refer to a particular instance of government administration which calls for immediate review. It is based on a complaint made by farmers throughout my electorate. For very many years, ia farmer who employed a farm hand, or a member of his own family, arid provided that employee withboard and lodging, particularly board, was allowed in respect of that cost a concessional deduction of £1 a week. The cost of living has risen, according to the Commonwealth Statistician, by no less than 24 per cent., but, according to the housewife, the rise is 50 to 70 per cent. No one who tries to make £1 go as far to-day as .it should, if the statistician is right, accepts his figure, but in spite of the fact that since 1941 the cost of living has officially risen by 24 per cent., the rate allowed to a farmer for the keep of an employee was reduced in 1945 from £1 to 15s. a week. The Commissioner of Taxation has said in a letter to me that if a- farmer can prove that the cost is in excess of 15s. a week, he will allow the actual cost. I ask the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost), himself a farmer, whether he thinks 15s. a week is a reasonable allowance. I ask the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller), who represents a country district, whether he believes that many farmers; or businessmen, for that matter, are able to supply facts and figures to prove that the cost of the keep of an employee was £1 instead of 15s. It would be impossible for the averagefarmer to comply with the request that a. person should prove the cost. Consequently, he is deprived of the benefit of the allowance of £1 to which he was formerly entitled.
– But not so many farmers nowadays board their employees, do they?
– Not so many board outsiders, but a great many board’ members of their own families employed on the farms, and it is with particular reference to them that I have raised this matter. Thousands of farmers throughout Australia, with one or’ two sons, employ them and supply them with board and lodging.
– The honorable member is right there.
– They are the ones affected by this ruling. In view of the facts that I have stated, no warrant exists for the Government or the Commissioner of Taxation to take that line in respect of rural industries, and I sincerely hope that the Commissioner and the Treasurer, who has the final say, will re-examine the . matter, with a view to restoration of the former allowance. The farmers do not want concession to which they are not entitled, but they certainly do not want to be told, as they have been told in the letter from the Commissioner -
The standard allowance of 15s. per week for keep provided by an employer has been established as representing the average cost to employers of all classes.
I should like to know how it possibly «ould be established when the rate was formerly fi. The letter goes on to say -
It may be that the standard rate is a little too high in some cases, and a little too low in other cases, but it is reasonable in amount,
And provides a practicable working rule for general application.
I say that it is not reasonable in amount and that it should be immediately reviewed.
I do not know whether I should be in order in referring now to indirect taxes.
– This measure deals with the income tax.
– Make some passing references.
– One ‘ cannot divorce direct taxes from indirect. The money comes out of the same pockets and from the same sources. Although a modest reduction .of direct tax is proposed, no attempt has been made to reduce the indirect taxes that affect so many, in the community. I propose to refer to a few commodities, the indirect taxes on which indicate the degree to which indirect taxes affect people. I do not say that they are commodities that I feci strongly about in con nexion with taxes. I cite them because I saw them referred to recently in an article.
– I rise to order! I should like to know whether every honorable member who desires to talk about indirect taxes in this debate will be allowed to do so.
– The Chair is waiting to hear what the honorable member for Richmond is getting at. I have advised him that the question before the Chair refers to the income tax.
– I accept your ruling, Mr. Chairman. I was making a passing reference to certain items that indicate how indirect taxes operate. The excise on a packet of cigarettes costing ls. 8d. is 9d. and the customs duty on a bottle of Scotch whisky-
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to keep to the matter of the income tax.
– Well, I merely mention that the duty on a bottle of Scotch whisky costing 21s. 9d. is 12s.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) took the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Sheehy) .to task for having expressed his desire to protect Australian industries from overseas competition. The policy of the Australian Labour party has always been the protection of Australian industry from competitors in other parts of the world. The Tariff Board was set up to investigate the problems of Australian industries and to recommend the duties that ought to be imposed on imported goods in order to protect the Australian manufacturers of similar goods. I know that - the honorable member for Boothby is very interested in the progress of a certain industry which is developing in his elec- 1,orate. and is greatly perturbed about its difficulties with overseas competitors. The honorable member has rendered excellent service in assisting to protect that growing enterprise. A few days ago, an honorable member asked a question about the number of new industries which are being attracted to Australia.
– Order! I ask the honorable member to relate his remarks to this income tax resolution.
– According to reports, 29 new industries may be established in this country for the purpose of making goods that we now import. The earnings of those enterprises will assist considerably to reduce income tax. Munitions establishments, which were built in Australia during the six years of war will be handed over to private enterprise. In fact, four-, teen new companies have taken over these establishments to manufacture goods which we have been purchasing abroad. Therefore, the policy which the Australian Labour party and the honorable member for Boothby advocate, is helping to encourage the establishment of new industries which will contribute considerable sums to Consolidated Revenue, and, in that way, .assist to relieve the people of the burden of income tax which they are now bearing.
Honorable members opposite frequently declare that the taxpayer without dependants in Australia is treated more generously than the taxpayer with dependants.
An examination of the official figures will expose the fallacy of that contention. A person without dependants, in receipt of £300 a year, will pay under the proposed new schedule income tax of £8 2s. and a social services contribution of £18 15s., making a total levy of £25 17s. per annum ; and a taxpayer with a dependent wife and one child will not pay any income tax, but his social services contribution will be £15 12s. per annum. A person without dependants in receipt of £350 per annum will pay income tax of £17 10s. per annum and a social services contribution of £22 ls. per annum, whereas a taxpayer with a dependent wife and one child on the same income will pay income tax of 14s. and a social services contribution of £25 10s. As the income tax is equivalent to only 3d. a week, I consider that that class of taxpayer should be exempt. A taxpayer with a dependent wife and two children, who has an income of £350 per annum will not pay any income tax, but will make a social services contribution of £21 3s. “With the consent of honorable members, I shall incorporate the proposed new scale in Hansard -
For his small social services contribution, a taxpayer is eligible to receive the following benefits : - Invalid pension, child endowment, widow’s pension, unemployment benefit, sickness benefit, funeral benefit, maternity allowance, hospital benefit, tuberculosis benefit and housing rent subsidies. When the people cast an affirmative vote at the forthcoming referendum, the taxpayer will also be eligible for pharmaceutical benefits. In the next financial year the cost of social services will amount to £77,000,000. In return for a very small contribution, taxpayers with dependants in the lower ranges of income may receive substantial benefits. Honorable members opposite have always advocated that social services should be financed under a contributory scheme. Therefore, the Government’s proposals should appeal to them, because a taxpayer makes a social services contribution.
– The Australian Labour party is turning another somersault.
– I should be pleased if the Labour party came straight out with it as Great Britain and New Zealand have done. In the near future, we shall have to do so. In New Zealand and Great Britain, social’ services are also included in the taxation schedules. The amounts payable by persons on similar incomes in the three countries are -
Under the proposed new schedule of income tax, the people in receipt of incomes up to £2,000 a year will be in a better position than those with corresponding incomes in New Zealand. We should be very proud of that, and I have no doubt that when we face the electors at the end of September, they will return the Labour Government-
.- I desire to devote the fifteen minutes at my disposal to a consideration of matters which have not been dealt with so thoroughly as they might be. First, I shall analyse the claim by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), in opposition to a charge which I made earlier this session, that Australia was the heaviest taxed country in the world. He claimed that our rates of tax compared very favorably with those in Great Britain and New Zealand. Three interesting points arise from the right honorable gentleman’s reply. First, he issued a table showing comparable rates of tax in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, but he included in the statistics applicable to the United Kingdom and New Zealand, the payments made by way of contributions towards social, services. So far as I am aware, this was the first time that a Labour government has acknowledged that social services, which in the past, the Labour ‘ party always claimed were given free to the people of Australia, are provided by taxing the people who receive them. In other words, the Prime Minister has exploded once and for all this myth about “ free social services provided by a Labour government”. They are paid for, and paid for very heavily, by the wage earning unionists of the country. My second point is that although the Prime Minister claimed that the rates compared favorably with those in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, he omitted any reference to indirect taxation, including excise.
– Those matters are notrelated to this taxing measure.
– Indirect taxation has a great deal to do with the Prime Minister’s claim that Australians are not the most heavily taxed people. Honorable members will find, on examining the tables in the right honorable gentleman’s Financial Statement, that the total collections of revenue from all sources of taxation last year amounted to £360,000,000, total collections from income tax including £215,000,000. Therefore, a large part of the total collections was obtained by indirect taxation. I invite the Prime Minister, if he is so confident that our rates of tax are low compared with those of other countries, to prepare a detailed table showing taxation per capita in the Commonwealth. If he does so, he will show that collections in respect of every man, woman and child, from income tax and indirect taxation including excise, amount to £49 per annum. That represents much heavier taxation upon the individual wage earner, because when we deal with, taxation per capita we include women and children who do not earn salaries or wages. Therefore, I challenge the Prime Minister to present to the Parliament before this session ends a comparative table showing the taxes paid in Australia under all the heads I have mentioned, and the taxes paid in. the countries to which he referred. I notice that he selected the two most highly taxed countries, Great Britain and New Zealand, and did not point out that taxation of Australians is twice as heavy as that of citizens of the United States of America and Prance, and more than half as heavy again as that of citizens of Russia. In the absence of a comparative table, I say what I believe to be true, and what I am sure most Australians believe to be true, namely, that we are now, as we have been for many years past, the highest taxed people in the world.
The Government claims that substantial taxation relief has been granted in the last year or two. In order to indicate the severity of taxation in Australia, I cite the case of an unmarried taxpayer, without dependants, earning a weekly wage of £5 19s. 8d. I have chosen that figure because, according to a pamphlet circulated by the Minister for Information, it is the average adult wage earned in Australian factories. Therefore, it is a useful wage barometer for us to consider. Various honorable members have claimed that, under the schedules circulated by the Prime Minister, a man with a family will be at a disadvantage compared with a man without dependants. I agree with them. Therefore, I assume that an unmarried man is on a more favorable footing than other taxpayers. Nevertheless, such, a man, earning £5 19s. 8d. a week is taxed a total of £46 annually. In other words, out of a little less than £6 a week he pays a little leas than £1 a week in tax. In view of the fact that the severity of taxation increases proportionately as the income rises, and that those who have dependants are at a disadvantage, it is not a matter for wonder that Australia is not giving the productive effort of which it is capable. If ever the nation needed a real tonic to stimulate production and to promote continuity of production, it needs one now. The Government will not increase production by means of the footling and cheeseparing concessions that it has made so far. Let us consider the latest statement, made by the Prime Minister, that the Government will remit an amount of £17,500,000 in taxes this financial year. It has been shown already that £17,000,000 of this total represents the excess of collections over the budget estimate of the last financial year. We have seen references to a 40 per cent, general cut in certain taxes. These are merely intended to mislead the public. The true’ picture can be seen if we relate the total reduction of £17,500,000 to the total amount of income tax collected. Collections last year amounted to £215,000,000. Thus, £17,500,000 is only about 8 per cent, of the total. Apparently this is the maximum concession that the Government is prepared to offer to the taxpayers, in spite of its anxiety to placate them before the general elections. Total Commonwealth expenditure last year was £82,000,000 less than the total for the preceding year. Most of this reduction was due, of course, to decreased expenditure on war services, and we may reasonably expect that there will be a very much greater decrease in the current year. Thus, we may assume that the Government is not alert to the importance of stimulating economic life. As the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) pointed out, it is making provision for an item of £10,000,000 for unemployment benefits during the current year.
– For sickness and unemployment benefits !
– The schedule which I have before me refers to unemployment benefits, without any qualifications. There is a separate item for sickness benefits. I invite the Minister to verify my statement by reference to the Hansard report of the Treasurer’s statement. An item of £10,000,000 for unemployment benefits is cited, and I take the statement at its face value. We know that there is a high level of employment generally to-day, and the only reason for providing £10,000,000 for unemployment benefits that I can imagine is that the Government expects to disburse this amount of money to persons who may be in employment in the generally understood sense, but who will be claiming unemployment relief because of lost working time arising from industrial disputes. During 1945, 2,100,000 working days were lost throughout the Commonwealth as the result of industrial disputes.
– Order! Industrial disputes have nothing to do with the subject before the Chair.
– I am only using the fact to assist my argument that there could be a very much more substantial reduction of taxation if the Government, by supporting the Arbitration Court and enforcing industrial law to maintain continuity of employment, removed the necessity for providing £10,000,000 for unemployment benefits.
– The item is for sickness and unemployment benefits.
– Will the Minister indicate what proportion of the total is estimated to be needed for unemployment benefits? He might also state what amount was paid in unemployment benefits during the last financial year.
– Very little, because of the Government’s full employment policy.
– The Liberal party, in contrast with the Government’s intention of granting an 8 per cent, income tax reduction, undertakes to give a 40 per cent, reduction of taxes over a period of three years. I shall be very surprised and disappointed if an overwhelming proportion of that remission is not granted during the first financial year, because the party recognizes that, if tax reduction is to have the revitalizing effect that is so badly needed, the biggest cut must be made in the first year. The public, must be given a stimulus now if we are to secure the results J;hat we desire. The increased production resulting from such a tax cut would produce greater efforts on the part of employees, who would be more willing to work over time if higher rates were offered as an incentive. We believe that a combination of these two factors will result in a higher national income and, consequently, greater revenues for the purposes of government. There is good reason for believing that the tax reductions will be more than offset by the increase of the national income. The reductions made last year in income tax and sales tax, minor though they were, were accompanied by a substantial increase of revenue, the budget estimate being, exceeded by £17,500,000. I make a final point. We have to face the problem of not only effecting economy but also buttressing the national .social psychology. ‘The present high rates of tax are causing the law to be held in disrespect. The £1 honestly earned carries so great a burden compared with the £1 dishonestly earned, that dishonesty is being encouraged.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Compared with the war-time collections of revenue at the tax rates which operated most severly during the last two or three years of the conflict, the tax reductions made and proposed by the Government represent a loss to the .national revenue of £37,000,000. Compared with the period subsequent to Japan becoming an active belligerent, the reductions total 22 per cent.
– It reminds me Of the -Premier’s plan.
– I shall compare the reductions of taxation by the present Government after six years of a most terrible war, with the conduct of honorable members opposite when they became the government of Australia in 1932.
– What has that to do with the present debate?
– I rise to order. I submit that the Minister is not competent, in a debate on the resolution before the committee, to discuss what occurred in 1932 or at any period antecedent to the present time.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I shall hear what the Minister has to say I shall then be better informed.
– In 1932, honorable members who now sit opposite and pretend to be concerned about the interests of the small man, reduced pensions from 17s. 6d. to 15s. a week and pauperized the pensioners by making children maintain their aged parents. They saved - if that word may be used - £650,000 a year by “ slugging “ the oldage pensioners, and £80,000,000 a year by a reduction of the amount of the maternity allowance. For the first time during the existence of that latter social benefit, they applied a means test in order to establish theeligibility of an applicant for it.
– That is not true. That was done by Mr. Theodore in 1931. He effected a saving of £230,000.
– It is true.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN Order! The Minister must connect his remarks with the subject before the Chair.
– I am doing that. If I may not discuss the matter in detail, perhaps I may deal in general terms with the tax reductions in the years from 1932- 33 to 1936-37, during which’ some honorable gentlemen who now sit opposite were Ministers of State. The income tax reductions were: 1932-33, £500,000; 1933- 34, £2,400,000; 1935-36, £200,000; 1936-37, £2,105,000. While the workers were pulling in their belts, and persons out of employment were existing on 6s. a week, given to them by governments of the same political persuasion as the Victorian , Ministry in which the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) was a Minister, the Commonwealth Government of the day relieved the big interests of taxes totalling £5,000,000. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has spoken about a reduction of income taxation by £10,000,000.
– I did not suggest that.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order !
– I am being misrepresented.
– The honorable member is always misrepresenting the motives of the present Government. He has’ referred to an estimated expenditure of £10,000,000 on unemployment and sickness benefits. Although I told him that the expenditure would be mostly on sickness benefits, he repeated that the purpose ofit was unemployment relief.
– I asked the honorable gentleman to state what portion of it was for unemployment relief.
– I shall tell the honorable gentleman who received the income tax remissions in the years of the depression. Persons receiving more than £8 a week received 94 per cent, of them. While a government composed of the parties that now sit opposite was remitting taxation in respect of the tycoons of industry, the squatters, and others whom it represented, it did not vote anything towards unemployment relief. The workers had to starve themselves back to prosperity. Those honorable members now want another depression. They wish to impose on this country a policy of deflation, and to make the workers pay for the war that they have’ won. They hate to be reminded of their misrule during the awful years of the last depression. In addition to the remission of income tax by £5,000,000 in the five years from 1932-33 to 1936-37, there were remissions of land tax amounting to £1,200,000. As land tax is imposed only on property of an unimproved value of £5,000, the whole of that benefit went to the squatters represented by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) and the other members of his party.
– I rise to order. You, Mr. Temporary Chairman, would not permit me to discuss the sales tax. Is the Minister in order in discussing the land tax?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.While I have been occupying the Chair, a degree of latitude has been allowed. I permitted an honorable member to discuss the taxation that was imposed while he was Treasurer, as far back as 1928-29. Whilst displaying strict impartiality, the Chair will allow a reasonable degree of latitude. A general discussion of the land tax, however, will not be permitted, because that would be out of order.
– I am not contesting the validity or desirability of the land tax, but am merely citing it in order to show that the squatters benefited from remissions of it, as they always do when anti-Labour governments are in power. The small farmers do not benefit from any remissions of tax that are made by the political representatives of “big business “. All the income tax remissions that were made during the first two of the five years to which I have referred went to the ‘ 7,000 capitalists whose incomes were £5,000 a year or more. The present Government believes in commencing its remissions at the bottom-, not the top, of the income groups. The whole of the opposition to the present proposals comes from big business interests, which want a reduction of the companies tax. Honorable members opposite consider that 6s. in the £1 is too high a rate for “big business” to pay in companies taxation. They want the workers again to be compelled to pay an unemployment relief tax at a flat rate of ls. in the £1, as they did under the unemployment relief taxes of the various States. They yearn for the return of those days, and hate this Government’s practice of placing the burden of taxation on the shoulders of those best able to bear it. They want to throw the responsibility back upon the small wage-earner. With their hypocritical talk they pretend to be concerned about the small man.
– I rise to a point of order. In the . House recently, Mr’. Speaker ruled that an honorable member would not be in order in referring to another honorable member as hypocritical. I therefore ask that the Minister be called upon to withdraw that expression, as it is offensive to me and other members of the Opposition. .
The ruling which Mr. Speaker gave was that it is unparliamentary to apply that term to another honorable member.
– Honorable members opposite say there is no incentive in the business world, and no desire to produce. How can they reconcile that absurd state ment with the fact that there is no company going bankrupt under Labour rule ? Every financial column published in any newspaper anywhere’ in Australia to-day shows that all companies are making large profits and many of them are making increased profits. Why is the Treasury chock full of applications from big companies for permission to expand capital issues? If the country were “ going on the rocks “, as honorable members opposite would have the electors believe, why are no ships vacant in any of the capital cities?
– People are sleeping in them.
– The honorable member is a member of the Melbourne club, and he represents big business interests in this Parliament. The honorable member for Flinders is another member of the Melbourne club.
– I ask the Minister to confine his remarks to the -bill.
– I am exposing the hypocritical pretensions of honorable members opposite. Whilst big’ business interests might appreciate the heavy reductions of tax which the honorable member for Fawkner would offer them, most of the people know that the present Government acts for the benefit of the masses. They know that there would be no hope for Australia if effect were given to the policy advocated by honorable members opposite, who have exposed themselves as protagonists of the worst forms of predatory wealth. They wish to get back to the treasury bench in order to restore the capitalist system as it operated prior to the war; but the war was not fought to make the world safe for capitalism. They are deluding themselves, if they think that the people of Australia will allow them to get back to power to reduce taxes in such a way as will benefit only those whom they represent. - The provision of £4,000,000, which is the cost of the means test alleviation, will help people in the smaller pension and income groups. The present Government is primarily concerned with those people, because the big men can look after themselves. The small people need assistance from honorable members on the Government side. They need protection against those “who kept them in the pit during the depression years. A Victorian government which included the Leader of the Opposition compelled returned soldiers of World War I. to work to beautify their own Victorian War Memorial in Melbourne at sustenance rates of pay.
– The Minister’s time has expired.
– If the Minister’s statements regarding taxation are no more accurate than that recently made by him with regard to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, we can write them off. In reply to a question which I asked upon notice, the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) has replied that the total amount of subsidy paid to that company was £100,000, although the Minister twice categorically denied that any subsidy had been granted. There has been a conflict of opinion between two distinguished and newly arrived members of this chamber. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) recently said that the great cure for inflation was to accelerate the velocity of money and not to worry about the actual amount. He stated, further, that, if money were put into the hands of the rich, it would merely go into the banks and into savings, and would not be put into circulation. This afternoon the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Mountjoy) said that, if money did get into the hands of the rich, it would be used for black marketing. I’ have had a glance at the figures presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), and I have come to the conclusion that this proposal ought to bc called a bachelors’ budget, because, however one measures the schedule, the reductions favour the bachelor as against the married man. It is of no use to argue that a man with a family has child endowment to assist him. The official figures show that a taxpayer in receipt of £250 a year, and without dependants, will get a tax reduction under these proposals of £9 17s. If he has a wife to maintain, his reduction will be only £5 7s. If he has a wife and child, he will receive a benefit of only £3 2s., and if he has a wife and two children he will be relieved of tax to the amount of 16s. If he had a wife and three children, perhaps he would be in further debt to the Treasury! The reduction allowed to a man in receipt of £300 a year, and with no dependants, amounts to £15. For a man on the same income, and with a wife, the reduction is only £10. If he has a wife and child he benefits ito the amount of £7 6s., .and, if he has a wife and two children, his reduction is only £5 lis. I turn now to taxpayers with an income of £500. In doing so I remind honorable members of the onslaughts made by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) on these “ tall poppies “ The Minister has said that no one should receive an income in excess of £500 a- year. Under the new schedule, a single taxpayer with an income of £500 will enjoy a reduction. of £38 6s., whereas a man. with a wife will receive a reduction of £33 13s.; a man with a wife and one child, a reduction of £24 18s.; and a man with a wife and two children, a reduction of £22 16s.- I shall deal now with the reductions in respect of a taxpayer with an income of £1,000, the man for whom the Labour party is said to have no time whatever. We on this side of the chamber are supposed to look after his interests. He is the bloated capitalist upon whom one would expect the Labour party to come down like a ton of bricks. But what do we find? A single man with an income of . £1,000 will enjoy a reduction of £82 ls., a man with a wife a reduction of £73 17s., a . man with a wife and one child a reduction of £67 14s., whilst a man with a wife and two children will also receive only a reduction of £67 14s. Thus, according to the Labour party’s tax reductions it is just as profitable for a taxpayer to have one child as to have two. It is interesting to examine these figures from another view-point. A man with a wife and two children and an income of £250 a year is paying £2 18s. in tax, whereas a single man with the same income is paying £36 14s. in tax. So, according to the taxation principles of the Chifley Government, a married- man with a little extra in child endowment which, by the way, was provided by the
Menzies Government, is expected to keep a wife- -and two children on £33 16s. a year. This is arithmetic of which we must take notice. The Government must face these facts. The Opposition has not issued these proposals. I am surprised to be told that honorable members opposite have examined them carefully, because they include things which no Government can hope to persuade the country to accept. The deductions as worked out by the Treasurer in percentages would look amazing if one did not calculate what they really meant. For instance, the reduction of tax to be enjoyed by a single man with an income of £125 a year is shown to be 47.1 per cent. Taken as a rate that sounds perfect, but it actually works out at 9d.’ a week. I suppose that honorable members opposite will go on the hustings and say to- persons on the lower ranges of income, “You poor fellows down on the lower rungs, looked at from the. Olympian heights of the treasury bench, will have a reduction of 47.1 per cent, in your tax, but in’ actual cash, lads, that works out at 9d. a week “. I have a strong suspicion that when honorable members opposite try to argue these reductions in the light of certain criticisms which will be levelled at them from honorable members on this side, they will find that the Government’s bachelor budget is not what it is cracked up to be. The remarks of the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) contained much honest common sense. I have had occasion to refer to some of those matters in years gone by, but, to-day, they are vital matters. I refer particularly to the rebate system. I am amazed that the rebate system should ever have been introduced by a Labour government. I said so at the time it was introduced, -because all that the Government thereby seeks .to do is to dispense with the old- method under which a taxpayer was entitled to certain deductions in respect of his wife and children, and payments, such as, insurance premiums; whereas it now aims to get the highest possible rate in the £1 out of the taxpayers on the lower ranges of income. Honorable members opposite had much to say this afternoon about social service contributions. From the point of view of those people who have to pay, I have never been able to distinguish between income tax and social service contributions. First, the contribution is based on the same income; secondly, it is collected by the same method as income tax is collected; and, thirdly, under the Constitution, neither this, nor any other government, can do other than is being done now, namely, pay such money into Consolidated Revenue. AH of us know that all this talk about trust funds in the Commonwealth Treasury is eye-wash. They do not ‘ exist. There is only one big fund into which all receipts are paid. Honorable members opposite have had much to say about reductions of the interest rate. To-day, interest is a vanishing item in the nation’s economy ; and we are approaching a stage when, with the huge savings that exist in the community and the limited reserve of goods and commodities for which those savings can be exchanged, the Government will have to give serious consideration to the payment of interest on an entirely new basis.
– Is the honorable member suggesting repudiation?
– No ; and I do not think that honorable members opposite will suggest repudiation. However, I believe that I know the methods by which this Government will try to get out of its financial difficulties, should the people be so misguided to return it to office at the forthcoming general elections. Reverting to the list of percentage deductions, it sounds very well to say that a taxpayer with an income of £125 will receive a reduction of 47.1 per cent. On an income of £250 the reduction will bc 26.8 per cent.; and the percentage falls very steeply in the higher ranges of income, until it is down to- 15.6 per cent, on an income of £5,000. I do not complain about that, because on my experience of Labour governments in State and Commonwealth parliaments, if I were one of the big, wealthy capitalists in this country and wanted anything done I should always go to a Labour government to get it done. Big business has nothing to fear from a Labour government. The people who have most reason to watch o.ut for themselves when a Labour government is returned to office are those on the . lower ranges of income. They are the meat and marrow, brawn and brain of the community. The electors will have something to say about these reductions of tax.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 24th July(vide page 3011), on motion by Mr. Dedman -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– by leave - In order to facilitate the progress of the debate, I inform the House of an amendment which the Government proposes to move at the appropriate time. Part IV. which deals with the control of coal mines, was included at a late stage in the preparation of the bill in order to meet representations from New South Wales to the effect that some specific provisions along the lines of Part IV. of the Coal Production (War-time) Act were necessary. . Subsequent examination has revealed serious constitutional difficulties in the part as it stands, and has made it clear that the necessary action can be taken under the more general provisions of Part III. of the bill. Discussions with New South Wales on this matter were in progress when the bill was introduced into the Parliament and were only concluded yesterday, but it was thought desirable not to delay the consideration of the measure. It has now been agreed that Part IV. is unnecessary and, in view of the constitutional issues raised by it, that it should be deleted. Honorable members will, I am sure, realize that the preparation of a major piece of legislation jointly by two governments is a task not without difficulty.
– The second reading of this bill was moved some days ago by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman). It is unnecessary to say that the bill as a major measure dealing with a major industry is of first class importance. The whole subject of coal was made the matter of an expert examination by a commission appointed by this Government, and presided over by Mr. Justice Davidson. The report of that commission was presented to the Government some time ago; but, unfortunately, it has not yet been printed. It seems, on the face of it, a rather curious thing that when a commission has sat for some time - running into years, in fact - and has made an expert examination of a problem of this kind, we should be called upon to deal with legislation, obviously designed to be permanent and far-reaching, without having an opportunity to examine closely the report made by that commission. However, the report is not before us, and, therefore, we must do what we can, with such assistance as we can get from the summary of the commissioner’s recommendations which was circulated some time ago by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley).
A second preliminary observation is rendered necessary by what the Minister has just said, by leave, and that is that Part IV. of the bill - the part that deals with assuming the control of coal mines by a proposed board - is not to be proceeded with. I should say right away, in case anybody is under the impression that that means that the proposals in the legislation which will enable coal mines to be taken over andcontrolled is now to be abandoned, that what the Minister has just told us is that the broad provisions of Part IV. are not to he proceeded with, but that reliance is to be placed upon the general powers of the board under clause 13. If honorable members will look at clause 13, they will see that the general powers of the board, expressed in very wide terms, include the power “ to assume control of the management and operation of any coal mine; to acquire any coal mine and to operate any mine acquired by or vested in it “, and so on. In effect, the elimination of Part IV. so far from narrowing the operation of the bill may, in fact, widen it, by leaving the Government in a position, through the board, to exercise the extremely wide powers conferred by the earlier part.
Having said that, I propose to address myself to what is a really heavy task, namely, that of considering not only what the Minister has said, and what the bill provides, but also what the nature of the problem really is. If honorable members will give careful consideration to the second-reading speech of the Minister, they will, I think, agree with me - J put the matter as shortly and as pithily as possible - that that speech reeks with narrow-minded partisanship concerning a problem which deserves broad national treatment. In the first place, the speech does not accurately state the problem of coal production. In the course of it the Minister said that the likely demand for New South “Wales black coal for 1949-50 is 13,500,000 tons. The whole of his opening remarks were calculated to suggest that, unless some bill of this nature is passed, the task of meeting that demand cannot be accomplished. But the report of the commission on this matter is clear. I shall quote a few words from it.- The commissioner says -
A conservative estimate of the capacity of the operating underground coal mines in New South Wales is 12.750,000 tons per annum working on one shift daily. This output could be doubled by the introduction of a second production shift. Mechanization in pillar working, which is at present prohibited under legislation by rulings of the Minister for Mines, . would substantially increase productive capacity. With the aid of such mechanization and open-cut in in ing, the output could be increased to 14.500,000 tons per annum working only one shift daily.
We see, therefore, that without any suggestion of a second shift, 14,500,000 tons could be produced in New South Wales against an anticipated demand, in 1949-50, of 13,500,000 tons from that State’.
In the second place, the Minister’s speech - I think this represents it quite fairly - puts the onus for stoppages upon the owners and their plant, and upon their failure to adopt adequate safety measures. I listened, as other honorable members did, for some clear realization of a basic trouble, but I found primarily the putting of responsibility upon the owners and their plant in the way tha* I have described. The Minister’s exact words were–
I remind honorable members that the loss of working days was by no means solely due to strikes. The breakdown of obsolete mining equipment has often been the cause of a temporary closing of mines.
In the light of that statement I took the trouble to obtain some figures. Here are the facts. Of the tonnages lost by various causes - strikes, absenteeism and breakdown of plant - the Minister emphasized breakdowns-
– I suppose the right honorable gentleman’s figures have been supplied by Mr.. Gregory Forster ?
– No; they did not come from him, but they are authentic nevertheless. The following statement shows the losses of coal from 1942 to 1945:-
Honorable members will see, therefore, that if we add the losses through strikes and absenteeism we find that in the year 1945, for example, the total loss was more than 3,500,000 tons, whilst the loss through breakdowns in the . same period was. 128,000 tons; yet the Minister went to some pains to suggest that breakdowns were a very important cause of the loss of coal.
Coming to my third comment on the Minister’s speech, again I quote his exact words -
It is understandable, if not always equally . excusable, that the industry should be the seat of chronic industrial discontent, fanned as often as not by irresponsible newspapers and by parliamentary spokesmen for the ownership who are prepared to make political capital out of the question.
I should like to remind the honorable gentleman that the former Prime Minister, the late Mr. John Curtin, speaking in this House on the 14th October, 1943, advanced no such view. On the contrary, he said -
As a result of inquiries which I have made, it is the opinion of the Government that the removal of minority malcontents and irresponsibles in the industry will go a long way towards maintaining increased coal production. In the main the irresponsibles comprise youths of military age and men engaged in dual occupations as well as mining - taxi-drivers, starting-price bookmakers, billiard-room proprietors, dog trainers and the like, ,/.— men have engaged as miners in order to obtain protection. Generally, they either readily agree to strike, sometimes themselves openly addressing the men or making the first move from the mine, thus bringing on a general exodus because of the miners’ traditional policy of “ one out, all out “.
The malcontents and irresponsible!? are indicated by bad attendance records, lt is the opinion of the Government- that they should be weeded out of the industry. They have a chronic record of absenteeism and their removal from the industry would leave no reasonable grounds for complaint on the ground of victimization. I am directing that experienced officers make a. thorough investigation at each colliery, with a- view to identifying this element individually and recommending its exclusion from the industry. This action should have the support of federation officers, lodge officers and reputable members of .the rank and file, who have voiced strong antagonism to those irresponsibles.
I need not read any more of Mr. Curtin’s speech, although it- continues in the same strain. I have read it merely to compare his analysis of the root causes of trouble in this industry with the entirely partisan and political view advanced by the Minister in his second-reading speech. We have not only the words of the former Prime Minister, hut also those of Mr. Justice Davidson himself, and, I repeat, a judge of the highest standing, appointed by this Government to make .an investigation. Mr. Justice Davidson said -
Practically none of the strikes during the war have been due to impropriety of any kind on the part of the owners or management.
Most of the stoppages have not been based on a genuine grievance while many have not been due to disputes with the owners or management.
Are we to accept the word of the Minister who, after all, knows but little of the problem; or are we to accept the word of the former Prime Minister who, as a good and responsible Labour leader, was profoundly worried about this problem, and that of Mr. Justice Davidson, who has devoted years to a dispassionate examination of the whole problem? My fourth comment on the Minister’s speech is in relation to the following words: -
Official reports clearly demonstrate that a large proportion of accidents could often have been prevented by adoption by mine managements of adequate safety measures.
The -Minister made that statement because the whole design of his secondreading speech was to detract attention from the basic principles of orderly and continuous production by those engaged in the industry, and to ‘ concentrate the attention of the public upon other matters. So he turned to the problem of accidents. In his report, Mr. Jus’.ice Davidson stated -
Prolongation of the time occupied in extraction of pillars increases danger to the workers and the risk of loss of coal and employment.
Records establish without exception that mechanized mining reduces the incidence of accident by a large percentage.
Progress of mechanization has been retarded by (a) industrial action, and (6) legislation and ministerial policy.
The policy enforced by the Minister (Mr. Baddeley) under the statutory powers vesting in him the sole discretion as to the use of mechanical loaders in pillar extraction is causing infinite harm to the industry.
Again I suggest that honorable members and the people of Australia will be much more impressed by that dispassionate statement made after a careful examination, than by the political diatribe to which we were treated on the motion for the second reading of this measure.
I come now to my last comment on the Minister’s second-reading speech. He said - _
There was an unwillingness on the part of owners to make available or to seek to finance for private re-organization, modernization and re-equipment.
It will be seen by honorable members that the point of the criticism that the Minister is making is that mechanization would have done a great deal for the industry, but, unfortunately, the mineowners have been reluctant to engage in it. Therefore, it is necessary again to examine the facts. The facts are these: From 1935 to 1945, in New South Wales, which is the State with which this bill deals, coal mechanically filled rose from 13,692 tons to 2,168,000 tons, or an increase from .15 of 1 per cent, of the total, to’ 21 per cent, of the total. Over the same period there was an increase of the number of employees in the coalmining industry in New South Wales from 13,337 to 17,420; but in spite of the increase of mechanization shown by these remarkable figures, and in spite of the increase of the number of employees, the output per man shift in New South Wales fell from 3.33 tons a day to 2.9S tons a day, and the average number of .days lost per man per year through strikes rose from 11.7 to 36.2. I invite the very earnest attention of the House to these figures, because they show conclusively that the attempt that has been made here to divert attention from the real heart of the. problem to such matters as mechanization, the accident rate, and so on, is completely overthrown by the most simple examination of the, objective facts. 1 turn now from the Minister’s secondreading speech to say something about the bil) itself. It is a curious bill, as no doubt the Minister himself will admit, because it has presented, in the course of its drafting, some unusual and complex difficulties. It is confined in its operation to the State of New South. Wales. That perhaps is not unreasonable, because the whole irony of this coalmining problem in Australia is that the State of New South Wales, which has the finest and most easily worked coal measures in Australia, has the most inglorious’ record of industrial stoppages. The bill sets up a joint coal board, joint as between . the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales. It ‘has no resemblance whatever to the federal authority which was suggested by Mr. Justice Davidson. As honorable members will recall, Mr. Justice. Davidson devoted a considerable amount of attention to his recommendations about a federal coal authority and the powers it was to exercise. This proposed board has no relation to it; indeed I can say now, in order to avoid tedious repetition, that it will be difficult indeed to find more than one or two minor details in this bill which have any relation to the recommendations contained in Mr. Justice Davidson’s report. The proposed joint coal board is to exercise powers set out for the most part in sub-cla-use 3 of clause 13, which are not unlike the powers of the Commonwealth Coal Commissioner as prescribed in the Coal Production .(War-time) Act- 1944. I hope that that act is not entirely forgotten, as it was presented to this House as a measure in respect of which the Government had high hopes. It was heralded, as this bill has been heralded, as an attempt to bring order out of chaos and to establish a code of discipline in the coal - mining industry. Its results are to be seen, notwithstanding the valiant efforts of the Commonwealth Coal Commissioner, in the steady retrogression of the coal position in Australia over the last two years. ‘ The proposed new board, which is the lineal successor of the Commonwealth Coal Commissioner, is to be given very wide powers of what may be described, as socialization. Under clause 13 the board may assume control of the management and operation of any coal mine.; it may acquire and operate any coal mine; it may establish coal mines on its own account ;; it may terminate, suspend or vary contracts re1 la ting to coal; it may, in fact; suspend or exclude anybody from employment in the” coal industry. I have selected five of its widest powers, and they delineate the character of the whole proposal. Here is a board which may at its discretion, and subject to certain .political directions to which I shall refer .later, acquire, operate and manage coal mines., and generally handle the coal industry. Either that proposal means nationalization of certain coal mines or it does not. If it does not - if the intention is that the coal mines may continue to be owned by their present owners- then the bill still means an interference with management without any real responsibility on the part of the interferer. If the board is to give directions to owners .and managers- of - coal mines, if it is able- to intervene in the ordinary discipline of employees but of itself has no responsibility as an owner, we still have the worst kind of interference. If, on the other hand, the proposal means the nationalization of certain coal mines, then again it comes up against these words used in this House on the 31st August, 1944, by the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin -
The only justification for the exercise of control, surely, must be .that control would result in greater production. I- venture to say, however, that the men who go on strike under the present management of a mine would go on strike under any other kind of management. Therefore, ‘strikes must be stamped out.
I say to the union that it will be destroyed if it cannot exercise discipline over its members, and I accept also as logical the fact that the Government will be destroyed unless it also can enforce discipline.
Those were sound words and they are a complete answer to the idea that some form of public ownership will produce more coal. I had proposed to say something in detail about clauses 22 and 25 because each of them raises an important principle. I am relieved from the obligation of saying as much about them as [ would have said because of the announcement ‘made by the Minister ; but as the powers provided in them are included in earlier provisions of the bill, it is still necessary to say a little. Clause 22 provides that the owner of a controlled mine is to pay ‘ all wages, salaries and expenses ; that is to say, he is to pay the piper but he is not to call the tune. He has the privilege of paying, but he loses the privilege of controlling the operation of his own mine. Clause 23 emphasizes that by providing that the employees who are to be paid by the mine-owner are to work in accordance with the directions, not of the owner, but of the board. What are optimistically described as drastic powers of discipline are also introduced. Clause 25 provides that it is to be a condition of employment of any person in or about a controlled mine that if he wilfully disobeys lawful orders or fails without good, excuse to attend for work or perform his duties when required to do so “there shall be’ deducted from any pay due or to become due to that person an amount in accordance with the prescribed scale “. When I read the bill and saw those words I realized that they were vaguely familiar and I checked up and found that they were, almost exactly the same as the words contained in section 27 of the Coal Production (War-time) Act 1944. Under that act the Coalcliff colliery and three other collieries were from time to time “controlled “ by the Coal Commissioner.’ This morning I asked were any deductions made in the case of any of those controlled mines for disobedience or absenteeism- because, as anybody who has read the Davidson report knows, there was an abundance of absenteeism in the controlled mines. The answer was “ Yes, £800 7s.” I asked if any such deductions were remitted under section 25 of the act to which . the reply was, “ Yes, £289 10s.”. So that, on net balance, enforcement under the spectacular code introduced at that time amounted over a period of two years to a total net deduction of approximately £500. The truth is that no code of discipline matters anything unless it be enforced - indeed it is dangerous unless it is enforced- and the last thing this Government will do will be to enforce discipline. Indeed the Minister’s second-reading speech, as I have indicated before, hardly admits the existence of a problem of discipline among the coal-miners. The Minister’s speech and the whole scheme appear to concentrate upon owners and managers who for the most part - and let it be said in their favour - have been honorably acquitted ‘ by Mr. Justice Davidson. The bill provides that the coal board is to develop mechanization, and technical efficiency. My mind went back .to the fact that nearly three years ago the then. Prime Minister, .in announcing government policy on this matter, said that mechanization of mines was to be proceeded with as rapidly as the procurement of equipment would permit. There does not appear to have been very much done in three years, and what was done before the war, mostly in the teeth of opposition from the federation, did not result in greater output of coal because it was more than countered by the rising level of absenteeism and unwillingness to work instanced by strikes. Then I noticed that there is another provision in the bill about workers’ compensation, and here, again, the Minister, in introducing the bill, was very critical of the coal-owners ; yet Mr. Justice Davidson said this - and he gave his reasons; it was not a kerbstone opinion, but the result of years of observation -
The extent of liability for workers’ compensation is increased by abuses amounting to trickery which have developed.
In Part III. of the bill, and in particular in clause 13, enormous power is given to the board, but if honorable members will turn to clause 17 they will find that, although those powers are enormous, and the board appears to be put in a position of authority, clause 17 authorizes the most devastating political interference in the work of the hoard. Let me read the actual words of clause 17 - (I.) The Board shall, as and when required by the Prime Minister or the Premier of the State furnish reports to the Prime Minister and to the Premier with respect to the policy it is pursuing or proposes to pursue in the discharge of its powers and functions and, in particular, with respect to programmes of proposed re-organization, acquisition or development .involving substantial outlay . of capital, and with respect to proposals affected by and affecting matters of national policy, including defence, full employment and price stabilization. (2.) The Prime Minister may, in agreement with the Premier of the State, issue directions to the Board on matters of policy and it is to be the duty of the Board to observe and carry out any direction so given.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) may believe that the coal-mining industry will be competently run by a board subject to direction by the political head of the Commonwealth Government, acting in conjunction with the political head of the Government of New South Wales, but very few people in Australia will believe it, and it is the people of Australia who are most closely interested in this problem.
The bill proposes to establish a Coal Industry Tribunal. I asked the Minister when he was making his second-reading speech in what respect the proposed arrangement would differ from the existing set-up, but he was not at that time able to inform me. So far as I can judge from a comparison of the bill with existing legislation, there is one advantage in the new arrangem’ent : the Coal Industry Tribunal is to have the qualifications of an Arbitration Court judge. It does not mean that an Arbitration Court judge shall be appointed; but the tribunal is to .have the same technical qualifications, namely, a legal man is to be appointed, presumably so that there will be impartiality in its decisions, and in order to get away from the appointment of a partisan. However, notwithstanding that step in the right direction, the proposal generally has two great disadvantages. The first is that, so far as I can see, it completely severs industrial arbitration in the coal industry from the Arbitration Court itself. It is unsound to whittle away the authority of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in this way, and to pave the way for such differential treatment of the coal industry as to encourage militant coal-miners to regard themselves as a race apart. It is unsound thus to’ make a serious difference between coal-mining and other industries, and particularly between coalmining and other forms of mining. Here is a dangerous severance, a dangerous element .of separatism, in the treatment of the coal industry on the industrial side.
The second great disadvantage is this : the authority of the coal tribunal is seriously diminished by a provision in the bill for the creation of local coal authorities and conciliation committees which, in practice, will be presided over by lodge officers, who will be members of the miners’ federation, a practice which was very severely commented upon in the report of the board of inquiry. It does not require argument to make it clear that it is not reasonable to’ expect even-handed justice from a body presided over by an officer of the local mining lodge, however honest he may be, and the judge says in his report that they have been honest. We cannot expect to take such a man out of a position of partisanship as an official of a union, and expect him to deal out even-handed, dispassionate justice as between the very union of which he was but yesterday an officer, and the mineowners. In short, a bill which has been hailed as something drastic and revolutionary contains nothing new except a surrender to the militants on the subject of public ownership and special arbitration, and even surrenders of that type cannot be regarded as particularly new by this Government.
I turn now to consider some of the vital facts that surround this problem, facts which have been the subject of examination and report by Mr’. Justice Davidson. The first is the deplorable record, indeed, the wicked record, of New South Wales coal-miners in the matter of absenteeism, from whatever cause. When I say that, let it be understood at once - because every ohe in this House knows that the average coal-miner in New South Wales is a decent enough man - that the high incidence of absenteeism is due to the absurd system of “ one out, all out “.
Day after day this results in, ‘perhaps, 200 men who are supposed to be responsible persons being led from their work by two or three beardless boys utterly lacking in any sense of responsibility. The result is a shocking record of absenteeism. During the last five years; with something over 17,000 persons employed in the coalmining industry in New South Wales, the average number of days lost per employee was as follows: -
When those figures, or figures like them, are quoted, the usual excuse made by Ministers, who never come to the point of these matters, is that the same thing is happening somewhere else or to somebody else. In view of the excuse “ it is the same all over the world “, I quote the corresponding figures in Great Britain.
– Who supplied them?
– They are accurate figures,, and if the honorable member finds them wrong, challenges them and establishes others as correct, I shall be glad to examine them. I quote the figures in Great Britain where there are about 700,00.0 persons employed in the coal-mining industry as against 17,000 in New South Wales. In that country the average number of days lost per employee for the same period was : 1941, 48 of one day; 1942, 1.18; 1943, 1.27; 1944, 3.49; 1945, . 9. If honorable members will compare those figures, which are, at the most, a little more than three days and, at the least, under half of a day with the figures in New South Wales running from 13 to 36 days, they will see how hollow is the excuse that this is a world-wide position of affairs and that nothing can be done about it here. That record is not to be explained by questions of safety, health or amenities, because it is quite clear that in all three respects, whatever the defects are - and Mr. Justice Davidson has made about all of them recommendations that ought to be put into operation- the coal-mines of New South Wales are not only the best in Australia but are probably far better than the average in Great Britain. The report of His Honour, as I have just said, contains very useful recommendations on the subjects of health, safety and amenities, which I should have thought might well have been taken up in conjunction with the other more critical sections of his findings, but the report as a whole has been ignored. The outstanding cause of the decline of production and the inadequacy of production is, and the Government knows it, the lack of discipline, and that is a vital problem that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has passed over very lightly. We were accustomed in this House during the last two or three years of the war to having that fact emphatically stated by the then head of the Government, but now it is to be put on one side. The activity of agitators, of destroyers on the coal-fields is to be glossed over, presumably because the general elections are coming, and we are presented with a bill supported by a speech in which the whole onus for the present state of affairs is sought to be put on persons other than the real culprits. I again quote the words of His Honour. He has a claim to speak with authority. After all, no impartial man has devoted a fraction of the time to examination of the coal-mining industry that he has, and he was appointed as a board of inquiry by this Government. Let his words go on record -
Lack of discipline is mainly due to -
– Does that refer to “ government “ or “ governments “ ?
– “ Government “, singular, and I quite agree that it is a w.-ry singular government. The report proceeds - is) Vigorous opposition by the federation to the dismissal of an employee by the management of. the’ mines for any reason whatever.
Those words are to he pondered over. They constitute a damning indictment, and, when Mr. Justice Davidson’s report is able to obtain full currency in this country, those words will have marked effect upon public opinion. There is- no reason whatever why, .with proper discipline and good sense, the production of coal should not be adequate, but the bill cuts right across the constitution of proper discipline. This very bill .so far from helping discipline sets out to hinder it. It is true that it gives to the board, in clause 13, sub-clause 3, paragraph h, power “ to suspend . or exclude from employment in the coal industry, subject’ to appeal as prescribed, any superintendent,, manager or other person employed in the industry who acts in a manner prejudicial to the effective working of the industry “. That is a most curious grouping. “ Subject to appeal as prescribed “ is a beautiful expression. “ As prescribed “, of course, in all acts of Parliament, means “ as prescribed by regulation “. So that . is a pleasure to come. “What sort of appeal and what sort of undermining of authority we shall have we can only guess. But, in the meantime, the Government in drafting the bill drags in “ superintendent, manager or other person “ so that the real people responsible shall not feel too lonely. The report of Mr. Justice Davidson happens to have dealt categorically with all three descriptions, and what Mr. Justice Davidson has said about them ought once more to be recorded. He said this, taking first of all, “employees”^
And added to this state of confusion, both the unions and their leaders have uniformly declined to submit to the dismissal of an employee for any reason whatever, even when the safety of men underground came in question and the Coal Mines Regulations Act empowered managers to suspend or dismiss recalcitrant workers. Actually, when reduced to its elements the crux of the situation hinges on this one point, lt is futile to attempt the efficient conduct of an industry if one, or a few, employees are allowed, without penalty, unjustifiably to disrupt the whole course of proceedings.
Discipline is almost non-existent amongst mine-workers who are members of the miners’ federation and are within its immediate sphere of influence.
That applies to other employees. “What does he say about superintendents who are honoured with a specific mention in the Government’s clause?. He says -
It is apparent to any unbiased investigator that in the knowledge and experience they possess of all phases of colliery management; including mining, engineering, mining practice, the design, development and administration of pits and groups of pits, the superintendents are the most capable and efficient men in the industry.
After having mentioned that the managers hold highly responsible and very difficult positions, Mr. Justice Davidson said -
Owing to industrial unrest, the attitude of some union officials and section of mine workers’, the activities of numerous industrial authorities, and the mass of awards and statutory regulations, the effort to fufil efficiently the duties of the office of manager ls in many instances, nerve-wracking and almost intolerable. ‘. . .
As a class, the managers are a conscientious, hard-working, and efficient body of men. . . .
Practically none of the strikes during the “ war has been due to any impropriety of any kind on the part of the owners or management. .
During debates on coal in this House reference has been made more than once, and not least by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), to pillar extraction. From time to time, the honorable member has- explained his objections to the use of scraper-loaders, for example, in pillar extraction. On that matter,* Mr. Justice Davidson reported -
Owing to departmental policy and industrial pressure, pillars have been left standing too long in many of the mines in New South Wales, and much of ‘the coal will in all probability be lost. If this coal be not lost, it will be extractable only at very heavy cost. . . .
Mining engineers support with strong evidence claims that under the policy enforced they have been compelled against -their will by departmental directions and industrial pressure to adopt bad mining practices which have resulted in the total loss of large quantities of pillar and top coal.
– Through their method of extraction.
– The honorable member may say what he likes about- it. The- fact is that the method of extraction which has been insisted upon through political pressure is one which the learned judge described as utterly unsound. The same problem is associated with increased mechanization, which is, , by common consent, outside the miners’ federation, urgently needed. Mr. Justice Davidson himself considered that increased mechanization was indispensable to the achievement of stability in the industry. He said -
Prolongation of the time occupied in extraction of pillars increased danger to the workers and the risk of loss of coal and employment. Records establish without exception that mechanized, mining reduces the incidence of accident by a large percentage.
– Did His Honour write that?
-Order ! The honor- able member for Hunter must not interject.
- His Honour Mr. Justice Davidson wrote that. I shall read his exact words in. one more paragraph in order to. put the matter beyond question -
The charge that the . use of mechanical loaders of all types in pillar working increases the risk of accident, is completely refuted by evidence with regard to one large mine in - New South Wales and in relation even to high pillar places the use of such machines is the common practice in Great Britain and America iii comparable conditions without detriment to safety of working.
Then I notice that Mr. Justice Davidson touched upon a matter which has .been emphasized by honorable members on this side of the House in particular, when he stated that the burden of taxation was the most active of all causes of absenteeism. If the Government desires to attack the problem from that standpoint, the remedy is quite clear to its hands. The learned judge then turned to the problem of absenteeism generally. I apologize for making lengthy quotations from, the report, but, after all,, they are a mere fraction of the total and they illustrate the great mass of the report. He said -
Absenteeism could be checked by the enforcement of discipline, by increased mechanization, by improvement in the surroundings and general amenities, of the pits, and by efforts On the part of the management to make closer contact with the mine workers.
Let me emphasize the words “by efforts on the part of the management to make closer contact with the mine workers”.. The present bill, so far from providing for efforts on the part of the management to make closer contact with the mine workers, cuts across the whole problem of closer contact by weakening or destroying the power of the management. Mr. Justice Davidson proceeded to discuss in language which I need not exactly reproduce, the contract system. The burden of his report on that point was that the customs and practices which are, to ‘a certain extent, included in the terms of the awards of the Arbitration Court are mostly customs and practices associated with the contract system, and having regard to the number of disputes produced by arguments about whether .this is a custom or that is a practice, he came to the conclusion that if we desire to eliminate all those sources of irritation the best thing to do would be to abolish the customs and practices. The only way in which to abolish’ them is to abolish the system of employment to which they are attached. In addition, His Honour recommended that the contract system of coal extraction should go.
I come now to a matter to which I made passing reference earlier, namely, whether government ownership or government control is the solution of the problem.’ The conclusions pf Mr. Justice Davidson on that matter are very interesting, because he made an exhaustive examination of what had happened in various State-controlled mines. He said, for example, in relation to the State mine at Lithgow -
It cannot be claimed that the State mine at Lithgow since its foundation in 1910 has been a notable success.
He, made some criticism of its lay-out, and proceeded - ‘
When, after being in operation for eleven years, control was transferred to a board; the sum of £271,941 - forming portion of the total debt of £581,941 - had to be written off as a loss. Thence onward a profit was claimed to have been made in only seven years and losses in six years.
Even then the profit claimed in seven years- was subject to this very serious comment -
The accounts are kept upon a defective principle by omitting provision for a depreciation reserve.
Still referring to the State coal-mine at Lithgow, His Honour said -
If the purpose of opening the mine was to avoid exploitation of the Government Railway Department in’ prices by private owners of collieries, that purpose is not being achieved. The department is paying 2s. 6d. to 2s. 9d. per ton more for coal from the State mine than the price at which coal of equal quality could be obtained from private producers in the vicinity.
His Honour also found -
The accident rate is higher than in privately owned mines in the northern district which are of equal or larger size and carry greater mining risks. The insurance rate for workers’ compensation is within the group incurring highest charges for such insurance, although the risk is covered by the State Insurance Office.
His Honour reported that the progress in mechanization had been less in the State-owned mine at Lithgow than in the privately owned mines. He found, too, that the colliery did not have substantially fewer of the usual industrial troubles such as strikes, absenteeism and pit-top meetings, in comparison with privately owned mines in the same district. So much for the State coal-mine at Lithgow! But there was a more recent example in which the Commonwealth itself became concerned, and that was the Coalcliff colliery, control of which was assumed under the Coal Production (War-time) Act 1944. His Honour examined the history of that colliery. He summed it up in a few telling sentences. This is what he has said -
This whole sorry history leads to several conclusions, namely -
In taking control of the mine the commissioner adopted the only reasonable course to procure continued production.
His efforts in some degree failed notwithstanding every effort that could reasonably have been made by any manager.
The assumption of control was of great value to the industry if for no other reason than that it led to’ the introduction of the most effective means of controlling dust in pillar workings yet practised.
I -have read those, because they are the plus entries in this account. [Extension of time granted.] His Honour then said -
Neither the executive of the district branch of the federation nor the lodge procured any co-operation with the Controller towards increasing the output.
This .was in time of war, mark you, a control set up under an act passed by a
Labour “ administration. His Honour continued -
The executive of this branch and the lodge have no control of their members.
Industrial interruptions and dislocations of production are equally apt to arise whether the Government or private enterprise is in control .of a mine.
When industrial disputes occur the disturbing elements amongst the men have no more regard for the Government when it is in charge than for the private owner.
It is not possible in a limited time - and I did not hope to trespass beyond my allotted time to-night - to quote more extensively from the Davidson report; but anybody who reads it, and then looks at the present bill, will see that the bill almost completely ignores the report and that, read in conjunction with the extraordinary second-reading speech of the Minister, it represents merely a further instalment of the disastrous policy of appeasement which has encouraged the miners, incited strikers to further strikes, and brought Australian manufacturing industry all over the continent almost to the verge of disaster.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), in his opening remarks, made some reference to what he said was a partisan statement by the Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Dedman). As I listened to his speech . to-night, I heard in his words the echoes of all the bitter condemnations of the hard-baked Tories who have been associated with the ‘coal industry right down , through the ages. He did, however, in a passing reference, make the gracious statement that, generally speaking, the mine workers of the community are a decent type of citizen. But the whole of his remarks to-night were such as one would have heard or expected to hear over the years from people like Mr. Gregory Forster, or from some other extreme Tory representatives of the mine-owner3. Talking of partisanship, I do not suppose that any speech ever delivered in this House has more reeked of partisanship than that which he has made. In the course of my remarks, I do not propose to adopt’ that attitude. I shall not suggest that all the troubles associated with the coal industry are entirely the fault of the owners or of the miners. I listened to the right honorable gentleman very carefully to-night, in order to discern whether, at any stage, he would make a suggestion as to how those troubles could be cured. He voiced very strong condemnation of the miners. The one thing that has to be remembered, when dealing with this problem, is that the miners are the only people in this country who can produce coal; not the owners, who sit in offices; not the executives; not the people who hold shares in coal mines; not the members of this Parliament who debate the’ subject. I accept the right honorable gentleman’s condemnation for the purpose of examination. He has described the miners as decent citizens, and they have been described in similar terms by the learned judge who was the board of inquiry. Mr. J. J. Johnson, who for many years has been associated on behalf of the owners with the control of the coal industry, said in a broadcast the other night that he had come to exactly the same conclusion. Then, for what reasons are these decent men in the community likely to be responsible, if it be admitted that they are, for the sins about which the right honorable gentleman has spoken?
I want to deal very briefly with Mr. Justice Davidson’s report. It is perfectly true, as the right honorable gentleman has said, that Mr. Justice Davidson made a very extensive examination of the coal industry. He presented a very lengthy report dealing with numerous phases of the subject that we are debating to-night, in which he submitted certain recommendations in regard to Commonwealth control of the industry. Those recommendations were examined very closely by the legal advisers of the Government. After considering all the methods that might be adopted to bring the coal industry under a form of control that would produce better results than so far it has been possible to achieve, the Government decided, on the legal advice available to it, that constitutionally the proposals of Mr. Justice Davidson revealed so many weaknesses that, without complete cooperation, particularly on the part of the owners, they would quite easily be come unworkable, because they were founded largely on the principle that that co-operation could be obtained. The right honorable gentleman has not, to-night, offered one simple method or suggestion for improving the position in the coal industry. I thought that probably he would have approved the suggestion in other places that violent repressive measures should be adopted towards that section- of the coal:miners which has been responsible for low production.- I say at once that when there is condemnation of one section of the coal-miners, or, indeed, of one section of the coal-owners, it must not be concluded that, so far as I am concerned, it embraces all of either class. That is particularly true of Queensland, of Wonthaggi in Victoria - where,’ unfortunately, the production is small - of Western Australia, of Tasmania, of -the Muswellbrook area of New South Wales, and, indeed, . of the whole of the western coal-mining area of New South Wales, where there has been splendid production right through the war years and in the subsequent period. Therefore, nobody can say that those sections of the coal industry have failed to do their duty. Nor do I suggest for one moment that all the owners, superintendents, managers or executives of mines are completely inhuman in their attitude towards the miners. To say that would not be to state the truth; because I know owners in the coal industry as well as executives and managers, whom I think even the most militant miners’ official would regard as fair men, as well as decent employers, superintendents and managers. This industry has had through the ages a heritage of hate between employers and’ employees. It is not a matter of to-day, the last decade, or fifty “years, but of hundreds of years. The genesis of the trouble is that, when the feud commenced, unjust practices were adopted by the owners of the mines towards those who had to cut the coal. It is a long way to go back, but I believe that this trouble has it genesis in the customs and traditions that have sprung up during that long period. We have in the coal-mining industry the same dislikes, fears and traditional hatreds, and the same tendency for one side to blame the other as that which has obtained in the. industry for hundreds of years.
One expects a leader of a political party with the responsibility carried by the Leader of the Opposition, particularly in view of his experience as a responsible Minister and as a Prime Minister, to make at least some contribution .to a debate such as this that would enable the people to get from his words at least some guidance as to a cure for the trouble in the industry. Looking back over the history of the coalmining industry of Australia, let us consider the records of some of the governments which have attempted by violent repressive measures to crush the miners when they have gone on strike. In 1910, the Wade Government in New South Wales took violent action against -the miners, and Peter Bowling was put into leg-irons. One would have thought that if violently repressive measures had gained the approval of the public, the Government which was responsible for that action, would have been returned at the following elections; but the truth is that it was swept out of office within the next twelve months, and the McGowan Government was returned to power. Passing on to 1930, we recall that . at that time the late Mr. Weaver. was Minister for Mines in New South Wales, and he was responsible for what is known as the Rothbury episode. He insisted on bringing free labour into the coal-mines. He established a compound, and adopted most drastic measures against the employees in the industry. The Government with which he was associated, and of which Mr. Bavin was then Premier, backed those repressive measures with all its might, but nine months later it also was swept- from office.
– It was not. angling for votes ; it was’ needing coal.
– The Leader of the Opposition has touched on the vital point. The public needs coal, and therefore it is prepared to give its help to any fair measures that would tend to cure the trouble in the industry, if not to-morrow, in the years to come, in the interests of this country. The right honorable gentleman has made a completely truthful remark: the public doe« need coal. It does not favour the adoption of violent measures against the miners, but it looks for a system which would enable more coal to be produced.
I come now to 1940, when the Leader’ of the Opposition was Prime Minister, backed by a powerful majority in both branches of the legislature, and with the National Security Act behind him to enforce the will of the’ Government. At that time a lengthy strike occurred on the coal-fields of New South Wales. It ran on for some months. It was said by some newspapers - I do not know whether they
Were inspired by ardent supporters of the right honorable gentleman - that he gained a victory, and that the miners were starved into submission. .1 shall tell honorable members what kind of victory it was. During that strike, coal production declined by 900,000 tons. The reserves of coal throughout Australia were seriously depleted. The reserves of the New South Wales Railways Department decreased from 170,000 tons to 33,000 tons. The reserves of the . Sydney County Council, which is responsible for the supplying of electric power and light over the greater part of the metropolitan area, went down from 108,000 tons to 16,000 tons. The coal held in reserve by the gas companies fell from-8S,000 tons to 9,000 tons. I do not wish to weary honorable members with further figures of that kind, ‘but all of. the coal reserves throughout Australia largely disappeared when the right honorable gentleman was in office, backed by the National Security Act and a large majority in both Houses of the Parliament.
I say quite frankly that I believe the Leader of the Opposition endeavoured to do his best, having, regard to all the factors operating with regard to the industry. 1 apply that remark also to the honorable . member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), who was then Minister for Labour and National Service. I do not think the miners’ officials would deny that he did his best. He was reasonable and tolerant in his ‘endeavours to set the mining industry on the road to increased .production, in order to meet the needs of the nation. He made appointments as Minister which I believe have been more than justified, although it is true that some of the men appointed by him to certain positions had been associated with the coal-mining industry: I cannot accept the conclusion reached by the Leader of the Opposition that, because a person has ‘ been associated with the industry, he cannot be a fair and tolerant judge in a dispute between mine-owners and their employees.. If those premises were” accepted, the workers of this country might question the wisdom of the appointment of some of the “judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. One notable example is that of Judge DrakeBrockman, for whom I have great personal respect, and before whom I have appeared on a number of occasions, as my colleague the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) knows quite well, from his association with the court. Judge Drake.Brockman was appointed to the Bench by a Conservative government. . Fresh from the political arena, he was called upon to determine semi-political issues. That is what happened in the case of a number of members of the judiciary. The present Chief Justice of the High Court went straight to the Bench from this Parliament. Immediately on relinquishing violent political conflict, he proceeded to make determinations on matters which have a great bearing on the political issues of to-day. I do not accept the contention that judges will act unfairly and not impartially if they have been associated . with a- political party, or an industry whose activities they may bc called upon to investigate. If I thought that, 1 would . condemn many a appointments made by previous governments.
I’ have pointed, out that during the time when the government led by the present Leader of the Opposition had complete power, and when some of his supporters claimed that it had scored a victory over the coal-miners, the victory resolved itself into a ‘reduction of coal production. By his- failure to settle the strike in New South “Wales, coal production fell by 900,0.00 tons, and all coal reserves in Australia were depleted at a time when we were entering upon a long and bitter war. That was the period when the- present tragic- downward slide in the industry commenced; If that was a victory, then let me say that, with a few more such victories, this country would have been in the possession of the
Japanese. The best that can be said of it is that it was a- pyrrhic victory. As for- the owners, many of them are decent citizens just as are the miners, but the fact that when trouble arises, whether from the action of some autocratic owner or- manager, or from any other reason, they do band together, and then there is a revival of the feuds and bitterness that have existed in the mining industry for years. It is also true that, on the side of the miners, whether they be rightor wrong in a dispute,’ providing some of their number believe that they have suffered an injustice, the miners as a body will band together, and we have once more the , same bitterness and hostility. The real problem is how “to create in the coal industry an entirely different psychology,, a changed outlook among those associated with the industry. Let it be remembered that the coal-miners are the only persons who can produce coal. This was proved conclusively in 1.917, when 400 . free workers were brought from Victoria, and employed in the mines controlled by J. and A. Brown. The experiment proved to be an. absolute failure. It was even found necessary to pay compensation to that firm for the damage ‘done by the free labour. Six months later, every one of those men who had been brought from Victoria and promised full employment was tossed out, and the striking miners put back, because it had been proved that the new-comers could not do the job. How are we to develop this new psychology in the industry, so’ that the public, who are now the victims of the feuds, the hostility and the bitterness, may no longer be. crushed between the opposing forces?
– And the people are becoming fed up with it, too.
– They have been fed up with it for a good while. When the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) was a member ‘ of a previous government the same sort of thing was going on. I have had some indirect association with coal-miners. When I look back over the 1920’s and 1930’s, I remember that the miners were, sometimes very glad to get even two days’ Goal cutting in the week. They approached the Railways Commissioner and other authorities, and asked them to spread their contracts so that .the miners might get at least two days’ work a week. At that time, nobody in this country cared what happened to the miners whether they lived or died, whether they were in work or on the dole, or whether they lived in little coal-mining villages with no amenities. There, were stocks of coal accumulated everywhere, and no one was concerned over the plight of the miners. The experiences of those times engendered great bitterness among the miners, and we are reaping now the harvest that was sown then; There was a time when the coal-miners got up in the morning and waited to hear if the whistle blew before they knew if they were to go to work or spend another idle day. The miners then were subject to the whims and. sudden decisions of those who owned the mines, and who. produced coal solely for profit, being completely unmindful of what happened to the miners. ‘I have al] along said to the coal-miners that the best form of discipline would be that imposed by the miners’ federation itself, not only on individuals responsible for trivial stoppages, but also on lodge members. The reply of federation officials was that many of the stoppages which appeared to be trivial were really, the result of pent-up dissatisfaction with the conditions under which the men had to work and live; that they were, in fact, merely symptoms of a great sickness in the industry ‘ itself. I know that many mine executives and owners are completely fair and impartial in their treatment of. their employees. They try to be just, although they must, of course, carry out ‘ the directions of their . employers. However, the violently militant miners and the violently hostile Tory section of the mine-owners have between them created a problem which appears to be insoluble.
The Leader of the Opposition . mentioned what has happened in the United Kingdom, and I point out that there have been great troubles in the mining industry there also. Let me read the following extract from the Adelaide News: -
LoNDoN. Monday. - Official returns issued by the Ministry of Labour disclose that more time and production were lost through strikes last year than in any of the past twelve years says the Daily Express.
Until the end of November more than 3,048,000 days were lost in 1944 involving more than 500,000 workers in 2,000 strikes.
Disputes caused a loss of 2,440,000 working days in the coal-mining industry compared with 824,000 days in the corresponding period of 1943.
Unrest in the mining industry is not peculiar to Australia ; it exists all over the world. The British Government, in an endeavour to remove those who are not rendering the best service, are drafting 30,000 men from the mines, some to other jobs, and those under 30 into the army. I speak now with a complete realization that the task of regenerating the mining industry is a colossal one. I confess that I do not expect this bill to cure the troubles of the coal-mining industry in a day, or to bring about immediately a changed outlook on the part of the people who are responsible for cutting coal. I regard it as a first step in the regeneration of the coal-mining industry - a process which will not be completed to-morrow, or even next year, but may continue “for decades, during which our expanding economy will continue to make more and more demands for coal for industrial and domestic purposes. That is the real object of the bill. The Government is making an honest and sincere attempt to reorganize the industry completely, and it hopes that early in the process of re-organization there will become evident a changed outlook on the part of many now ‘ associated with coalmining. We may not get immediate results, but the Government believes that, in the long run, its proposals for reorganizing the coal-mining industry will benefit not only’ the miners who cut the coal but also the general public who now suffer from want of coal.
I turn now to the remarks of the Leader of the . Opposition’ regarding mechanization. I have said publicly, and I have told the miners and their leaders, and others, that, in my opinion, the mechanization of coal mines is inevitable. Mechanization cannot be held up for want of funds, for the Government is determined that financial considerations shall not prevent the carrying out of a complete re-organization of coal-mining in this country. Honorable members opposite may say that mechanization has been opposed by the coal-miners. That is true.
The miners have opposed mechanization in the past, but I do not think ‘that their opposition to it is so strong as it was. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), whose spiritual home is among the miners, and who knows more about the cutting of coal than does any other member of this Parliament, has examined this problem in other parts of the world. As the result of his investigations, he now recommends mechanization. The honorable member has been convinced’ that only by mechanization can better conditions be provided for men working in coal-mines.
– The honorable member for Hunter opposed mechanization for years. , *
– It is better to turn from wrong views than to continue to hold them. We should give to the honorable member for Hunter credit for having the courage to change his opinion, rather than stick in the same old rut all his life, merely because a false pride would not permit him to make a change. Miners have opposed mechanization, but their opposition to it is not so strong to-day as it was in the ‘past. Would honorable members expect miners to favour mechanization .when, even without it; they could obtain work for only two or three days a week ? Was it likely that they would support mechanization if its effect would be to throw more of them out of work? No reasonable man would expect coal-miners to- favour mechanization at a time when thousands of miners could not get even part-time employment. I do not profess to speak for the miners’ leaders, or even for the general body of coal-miners, but I believe that they still entertain fears that mechanization may reduce the number of workers in the mines by from 25 to 30 per cent. In my electorate there are some small coal-mines, which support a community of, say, 500 or 600 people. The only activity in such towns is coalmining. Many of the people who live there have been associated with coalminers for 20 or 30 years. They have built their homes there, and have reared their families in the district. All their associations are there. If the mines were mechanized and, say, 200 men were forced to engage in new industries and make their homes somewhere else, necessitating the disposal of their present homes at .& sacrifice, their objection to mechanization would be understandable. I believe that they are wrong in their outlook; but that is their firm belief. And so, when mechanization is advocated they ask, not unreasonably, that other industries shall be established in coal-mining districts, so that any coal-miners who may be thrown out of employment can find other jobs without having to leave their homes and their friends.- They ask that arrangements be made to ensure that they will be continued in employment. They believe that the cost of mechanization should be borne by the whole community and not by only one section of it. They are justified in asking whether provision is being made along those lines. I realize that revolutionary changes cannot be made without some disturbance of existing conditions, but those most directly affected are entitled to ask for some protection. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that the drafting of legislation of this kind is most difficult, as it involves an agreement between two governments. Mr. McKell, the Premier of New . South Wales, has, been most helpful and cooperative in bringing this legislation to its present state. ‘ It is only right that I should say also that the Minister for Mines in that State, Mr. Baddeley, has been most helpful. As honorable members know Mr. Baddeley and I have had differences of opinion about coal from time to time, but I would be failing in my duty if I did not give him .credit for his co-operation in regard to this bill. Both Mr. McKell and Mr. Baddeley have done their best to ensure that this legislation shall be satisfactory. As honorable members know, complementary legislation will have to be passed by the New South Wales legislature before the proposed reorganization of the coal-mining industry can be effected.
The Leader of the Opposition also referred to the authority proposed to be set up under this bill. I have discussed this matter with the Premier of New South Wales, and I can say that it is the wish of his Government, as well as of the Commonwealth Government, that the proposed board shall consist of three of the best men obtainable, and that they shall be entirely independent of any association of miners or mine-owners. It is desired that they shall, if possible, completely reorganize the coal-mining industry, introduce .. mechanization, provide more amenities, for those associated with the industry, and generally carry out whatever measures are necessary for its more efficient working. It is all very well for people who sit in comfortable armchairs to denounce the sins of the coal-miners who. over the decades have worked in the dust-laden air of the south, coast mines of New South “Wales. Large numbers of them have become incapacitated through “ dusted “ lungs and have been thrown on to the industrial scrap heap. Hundreds have died directly as the result of conditions in the industry in which they have been engaged. I do not wish to indulge in any heroics about this matter. I do not suggest that the coal-miners, generally speaking, have not fared reasonably well as far as remuneration is concerned. Certainly they do not get too much, and possibly they may not get enough. I have not formed any judgment on that matter; but I know the conditions that have existed in the past few, decades in the mines. even in my own district. As I have said, the authority that is to be set up. by this measure to control the coal-mining industry, will be composed of men of the highest ability, and ‘ of diversified experience. The , Leader of the .Opposition spoke about the Coal Industrial Tribunal. . Apparently he found one virtue in it, namely, that the person to be appointed to constitute the tribunal shall be a lawyer. I assume that that provision will also receive the applause of other legal members of the House.
– That depends upon the lawyer appointed.
– Does . the right honorable member suggest that there are sinners also amongst lawyers?
– My word there are.
– If members of the legal profession, with all their training, are deficient in some qualities of citizenship, how can we expect the miners to be perfect ?’ There is nothing unusual in what is proposed in this bill. Even the Commonwealth Public Service has’ an independent arbitrator, and that was not the work of this Government. I do not wish for a moment to attribute all the troubles of the coalmining industry either to mine-owners or to the miners. There is. a peculiar psychology in that industry and people like myself with limited experience find difficulty in explaining the reason for all the ill-feeling, bitterness and frustration ; that is exhibited. Apparently those thoughts are experienced .not only by the miners, because I gather from what the Leader of the Opposition has said, that the owners, too, feel rather frustrated. This bill is a honest attempt to place the whole future of this industry in the hands of a competent body of men representing neither the miners nor the’ mine-owners. The board will have the widest possible power in regard to the provision of amenities, Health measures, production and mechanization. It will not be stinted for finance in carrying out the measures that it believes to be necessary for an adequate re-organization of the industry. I do not suggest that this proposal will not cost the Commonwealth a considerable sum of money ; but surely the assured production of adequate coal to meet our expanding industrial needs is worth many millions of pounds to us. If that objective be achieved, I shall not regret having listened to what the Leader of the Opposition said about this bill to-night.
The Leader of the Opposition complained because the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales were to exercise political control over the board._ I say quite frankly that the party to which I belong will not set up any authority which may” become in itself a complete autocracy. This matter was . fully discussed when the Commonwealth Bank Bill was before this House last year. On that occasion, the right honorable gentleman said that if his party were returned to power at some future date he would restore the Commonwealth Bank Board. Under this bill, control will be exercised only in regard to matters of high policy. There will be no political interference with details of -administra1 tion. Does the right honorable gentleman imagine for a moment that a Prime Minister of this country, or a Premier of New South Wales- taking them generally since the early clays, they have not been of an irresponsible- type - would be guilty of irresponsible actions which would undermine the power of an ‘ authority set up to cure what appears to be an almost incurable state of affairs in the coal-mining industry? Years ago, as the honorable member for Darling. (Mr. Clark) knows, Broken Hill was a centre of serious industrial unrest; however, because of the outlook adopted by the management of the mines, and the discipline imposed upon mine-workers by their own organizations, that city to-day is one of the finest examples of the har- mony that can be achieved in industrial relations by co-operation and. by legislation designed to improve working conditions. What we are aiming at to-day is the- re-organization of this industry in a way that will benefit this country long after many of us have passed from the political stage.
– The House has listened to one of the most extraordinary statements it has ever heard from a Prime Minister. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) made a closely reasoned analysis of this bill and of the second-reading speech by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr! Dedman ) ; but, in reply, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) did not answer one point that had been’ raised. He merely accused the Leader of the Opposition of being partisan and of being a. tory. In his opening remarks the Prime Minister said that the miners were the only people who could produce coal, and asked, since they were decent citizens, what caused them to behave as they did. He did not answer his own question; but Mr. Justice Davidson in his report answered it very plainly. On page 1 of the Summary of Recommendations, he stated - ‘
Especially in the northern and southern districts of New South Wales discipline is almost non-existent among miners . who are members of the miners’ federation or are within its immediate sphere of influence. Discipline is observed by miners who are not members of the miners’ federation or who are
The Prime Minister must have known that that was the answer to his question! The cause, of much of the trouble in the coal-mines of Australia does not lie with the miners themselves but with the Communistcontrolled body, the miners’ federation. In an extraordinary reply to the Leader of the Opposition who asked why the recommendations of Mr. JusticeDavidson had not been adopted by ‘the Government, the Prime Minister said that after careful examination the legal officers of the Government had advised that the inherent constitutional weaknesses in them would make them unworkable. Is. it suggested that such an eminent jurist as Mr. Justice Davidson is of inferior calibre to the legal advisers of the Government? Mr. Justice Davidson is a distinguished member of the Supreme Court” Bench of New South Wales, and has been trusted by governments throughout the Commonwealth, irrespective of their political colour, to inquire into and report upon the coal industry. He’ was chairman of the Royal Commission on the Coal Industry in 1929 and 1930. In 1938-39 he sat as chairman of an inquiry into the safety - and health of workers in coal mines and presented a voluminous report to the government of New South Wales. That report, unlike the present one, was not kept in cold-storage, but was immediately printed, and circulated so that members of the Parliament and the people should, have an opportunity to read it. In 1945 he was appointed by the present Government as a board of inquiry _ to inquire into the coal industry. Having regard, to his high legal qualifications and long experience in matters pertaining to that industry, it seems extraordinary that his” recommendations should .have been completely repudiated by the Government. The reason is apparent; it did not like the tenor of his recommendations and is fearful of standing up to them. The Prime Minister referred to the heritage of hate which had been handed down through the ages’ in the coal-mining industry. The members of the. Government and the Prime Minister himself, however, have done very little to dissipate that hate. On the contrary they have fanned the embers and brought about greater hostility between the mine-owners and the miners in order to gain .political advantages. The right honorable gentleman traversed the history of earlier governments in their dealings with the coalmining industry, pointing out the strong action of other governments when similar troubles to those now confronting the industry brought coal production to a low ebb. The whole tenor of the right honorable gentleman’s remarks seemed to indicate that, in his opinion, governments which attempted to take strong action in an endeavour to bring about industrial peace in the coal-mining industry were defeated at the following general elections and, accordingly that on no account whatever must the Government of which he is the leader take any action which might prejudice its success ‘ at the forthcoming elections. A government which is prepared to sacrifice the interests of the nation . because of fear of its political fate is recreant to the trust imposed in it by the people, and I trust that the people will record their reaction when they go to the polls on the 28th September and deal with the Government as it deserves. Peace in the coal-mining industry is desired, I am sure, by 90 per cent, of the coal-miners themselves; they want continuity of employment instead of a series of disastrous strikes which have profited . them nothing and have brought them into disrepute throughout the length and breadth of the country. The right honorable gentleman also referred to what he described as the desperate, position of the coal-mining industry during the regime of the Menzies Government, when the coal stocks of the New South Wales Railways Department fell from 170,000 to 30,000 tons. In July, 1942, shortly after this Government came into office, the State Statistician estimated that the total stocks of coal in New South Wales’ amounted to 1,062,000 tons, but by 1945 they had dropped to 69,000 tons, a loss of almost 1,000,000 tons. To-day coal stocks in that State would fall far short of that figure. Recently we had the spectacle of the Premier of South Australia coming to Canberra begging for coal to keep the factories, industries and lighting undertakings in production in his State. - Only recently an urgent wireless message was sent to a collier at sea asking the captain to put on more speed in order that the vessel might arrive in Adelaide a few hours earlier, and thus save the electricity and gas supplies of that city from com’plete failure. In a speech of pathos and bathos, the Prime Minister said that during the depression of the ‘thirties the coal-miners were not the friends of anybody and that no one desired to look after them. But I recollect that the non-Labour government under the leadership of the late Mr. Lyons provided funds to assist unemployment relief in New South Wales and established an unemployment relief committee, upon which I had the honour to sit, for the purpose of allocating moneys in the- provision of relief works in areas where the greatest unemployment existed. One of those areas was that which is represented in this House by the Prime Minister himself, namely, the coal-mining district of Lithgow. The right honorable gentleman said that it was for the miners’ federation itself to discipline its members, but at the same time he added that the federation had informed him that what ‘appeared to be merely minor matters were regarded by the federation as affecting vital issues and until they were adjusted it was not prepared to discipline’ its members. I have read what Mr. Justice Davidson said about the inability of the federation to discipline its members. During the term of office of the late Labour Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, we heard of the “ Canberra code” which was to form the basis of. peace in the coal-mining industry and for breaches of which the federation was to discipline its members. However, that code was completely futile >and nothing eventuated from it. The Prime Minister has told us to-night -that the good conditions that exist on the Broken Hill metalliferous mine-fields had been brought about as the result of the efforts of the union leaders in disciplining their members. But the trouble with the miners’ federation is that it is rotten with communism, and, as Mr. Justice Davidson said, the leadership of the federation is weak and divided, whilst political antagonism exists between miners who are Communists and those who oppose the doctrines and activities of Communists. Mr. L. Sharkey, who is secretary of the Communist party of Australia, in his book Trade Unions, says -
The Communists regard the State-controlled Arbitration system as a pernicious, antiworking class institution, whose objective is to keep the workers shackled to the capitalistic state.
He goes on to say that the Communists will do all they can to smash the arbitration system. Why does not the Prime Minister do what the members of the Labour party say that they are going to do in the unions? Why does he not force out the Communists, and put out of the industry the taxi-cab drivers, billiardmarkers and dog-trainers, instead of allowing that very small proportion of men in the industry to bring the country to the verge of the precipice of industrial and economical disaster?
– They will have to get a new Prime Minister.
– Honorable members opposite might do worse than that. It is useless to have a Prime Minister who sits over a fire puffing his pipe, refusing to do anything to bring the miners to a sense of reason, or persuade them to produce coal which is the lifeblood of the nation’s industries. The Prime Minister said that he told the representatives of the miners’ federation that mechanization must come and that the Government would not see it stopped by financial considerations. Why did he nottell those gentlemen the facts, that the only thing that prevents the introduction of mechanization is the stubbornness of the Minister for Mines in New South Wales, Mr. J. M. Baddeley, who refuses to grant the permission to mechanize, under a section recently added to the New South Wales Coal Mines Act? The Prime Minister then became rather timid, believing, apparently, that he had expressed himself too frankly about mechanization. He began a long rigmarole about the fears of the coalminers regarding the effect of mechanization upon their employment. He told us a pathetic story about people on the coal-fields losing their employment, and being forced out of the industry. The plain fact of the matter is that employment has not been reduced in the coal-mining industry in New South
Wales as the result of mechanization. The tonnage of coal mechanically filled rose- from 619,000 tons in 1938 to 2,168,000 tons in 1945 and the numbers of men employed in the mines rose from 15,815 to 17,427 in the same period. Thus, there is no reason to be afraid that mechanization will cause unemployment. Despite what the Prime Minister has said about mechanization not being opposed by mine workers and union officials, Mr. Justice Davidson in his report stated -
Whilst the miners’ federation officially now supports the installation of machines, many mine workers and union officials, although expressing agreement, offer active and passive resistance to a successful operation of the units.
He then went on to give the reasons why they did so, and one of those reasons was that they feared loss of employment and that greater output would give to the employers more profits, whilst mine workers would receive less wages. Mechanization, they said, would increase the danger of accidents in high pillars. Mr. Justice Davidson continued -
These claims cannot be supported because - (a) Whilst mechanization causes’ reclassification of duties there is no necessity for dismissals.
On this phase of the matter, undertakings have been given by proprietors of large collieries that there will be no dismissals of existing employees owing to increased mechanization.
Efforts will also be made to protect the rights of employees by a statutory authority. “
Although the amount capable of being earned by miners in a shift may be greater by manual work, regular wages of appropriate amount should ensure a larger annual income with more regular and less arduous work.
With regard to the danger of accidents under mechanization, Mr. Justice Davidson, not once, but many times in his report, stressed the fact that under mechanization the accident rate fell.
– Mechanization would bring about better working conditions.
– Yes. Mr. Justice Davidson also pointed out that following the use of mechanical -loaders in one large mine in New South Wales the accident rate fell by 30 per cent. Therefore, what the Prime Minister said with regard to the fears of the coal-miners concerning mechanization is unfounded. It is a pity he mentioned it, because he was then trying to soft-soap the miners after advocating the introduction of mechanization. He then said that he would not be a party to sotting up an autocracy above the executive by handing over certain powers to any body free from executive control. The Prime Minister is like Don Quixote, a perfect hero in. front of a windmill. He charges at it and sticks his lance through the sails; then withdraws his lance and charges once more. But the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) suggested that there should not be interference with a body which was set up by the Parliament. The policy for that body should be laid down by the Parliament, and the Parliament alone should be the’ body to dismiss its members, and, if necessary, lay down a fresh’ policy for the handling of problems in the industry. If any proposed body is simply to be under the direction of the Prime Minister, or a Premier of a State, it will mean that the executive will be given authority independent of the Parliament, that the Parliament will be stultified and the people will have no idea of what the Government is doing in the industry.
– It is socialization by stealth.
– It is .straight-out socialization. Why the Government should set up any authority at all when it intends to use it as a mask to give effect to the Government’s ideas in the coal industry, or an’y other industry, I do- not know. But the Government’s practice, as I remarked a week ago, is as old as the hills. It was expounded by Machiav’elli in his book The Prince. The Government merely proposes to set up a facade, in order to enable the Prime Minister and the Premier of New. South Wales to rule the industry as autocrats.
– The. members of- the proposed body will be puppets.
– The Government’ merely proposes to create a facade of various tribunals which will operate just when the Prime Minister, or the Premier of New South Wales, pulls the strings. The Prime Minister then went on in a lofty way to say that it was unthinkable that a Prime Minister, or a Premier of a State, would perform any irresponsible act. I do not want to drag up the dead past; but I have a recollection of other days when the Prime Minister opposed Mr. J. T. Lang, who was then Premier of New South Wales, as a candidate for the State seat of Auburn. I should imagine that I would not be allowed to repeat in this chamber what the Prime Minister said about Mr. Lang on that occasion, because it would be ‘ unparliamentary. But we can have bad Prime Ministers and bad Premiers. In those days Mr. Lang was considered a. bad Premier. Some people may think Mr. McKell is a bad Premier and that he too may do the same sort of thing as Lang did. The protection of the people that they fought through the ages to get is the protection of having the powers proposed to be exercised in this matter exercised by the Parliament and not exercised in a hole-and-corner way by the Executive without the Parliament and the people knowing anything about what is being done.
I agree with the Leader of the. Opposition that the second-reading speech of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) was one of the most specious pieces of effrontery ever delivered in this House. The speech was designed to camouflage the weakness and inaction of the Government.
– There is not much camouflage about it. It was a flagrant exhibition of-the Government’s weakness. .
– I agree.’ The Minister said that between the years 1942 and 1945 permitted consumption of coal had exceeded production by 1,700,000 tons. One would think that this great ruler was going to let the Australian people have only a certain amount of coal, that consumption was increasing so rapidly that they would have to sit in their rooms in winter without fires to warm them. What he might have added to give an accurate picture was that coal production in New South Wales fell in that period by 2,000,000 tons, although coal won by open-cut methods increased by 500,000 tons and the number of men employed in the industry in New South Wales increased from 17,101 to 17,427. So it was a matter not of increased consumption but of decreased production, for, in 1945, 2,300,000 tons of coal was lost in New South Wales through strikes. It is interesting to note that in 1945 in Great Britain there were 700,000 employees in the coal-mines and that 1,000,000 tons of coal was lost through strikes. So, for every ton of coal lost, through strikes by individual employees in Great Britain 130 tons was lost per employee in New South Wales. Are there no hardships in the Coal-mines of Great Britain? Of course there are! Is there hot a legacy of hatred between coal-miners and coal-owners in Great Britain? Of course there is! The reason for the disparity is that the coa. miners of Great Britain have not allowed themselves to be led astray by a Communist minority as have the coal-miners of New South Wales. Mr. Justice Davidson reported -
At present the coal-mining industry is drifting directly towards disaster.
He said that if there were not discipline in the industry, that if it could not straighten itself up,’ or be straightened up, and that if the men engaged in it were not allowed to work instead of being hauled out of the mines by irresponsible elements, before ten years elapsed Australia would be in a depression of the first magnitude. It is utterly wrong that 17,000 coal-miners, no, not even 17,000 coal-miners, only a small proportion of them, should be allowed to put a stranglehold on the people of Australia and prevent the- industrial development so necessary if Australia’s destiny is to be achieved. Particularizing the way in which the coal-miners’ leaders are affecting Australia’s economy, I cite the fact that owing to the insufficiency of coal to keep the rolling-stock of New South Wales moving,, stock-owners in the drought-stricken western district of that State are not able to move their stock to pastures or to bring in fodder. As the result thousands of sheep are dying and thousands of cattle will die before the winter ends. Many men who have worked as hard in their line as the coal-miners work in theirs will be’ ruined in consequence. Their :stock and their solvency would be saved if it were possible either to shift their stock or to. bring in fodder.
The Minister in charge of the bill claimed that the mines have not the capacity to produce sufficient coal to meet Australia’s requirements. He set out that the demand for black coal “ in 1946-47 would be 14,500,000 tons and that the likely demand in 1949-50 would be 16,500,000 tons. The present annual capacity of the mines in New South Wales, on the figure for 1945, i.s 12,537,000 tons. That figure includes the 2,300,000 tons that was lost owing to strikes. In 1942 Queensland produced 1,600,000, Victoria 313,000 and Western Australia 5S0,000 tons. That gives the total of 15,030,000 tons. Black coal obtained by the open-cut method in the first quarter of 1946 indicated that if the production be maintained throughout the year, a further 200,000 tons can be added to the capacity figure for New South Wales in 1.945. That gives us an annual capacity of 15,230,000 tons, on the present oneshift system, which is 730,000 tons more than that required, according to the Minister, for 1946-47 and only 1,270,000 tons less than the likely demand in 1949-50. A second shift in some mines would mean that all the requirements of black coal for ‘ the next five years could easily be met. The industry needs a shortterm policy as well as a long-term one. It is the most vital industry in Australia. The Minister said in his second-reading speech that there was the incapacity of an individualistic industry to re-organize itself, but from 1938, the last pre-war year, coal mined by mechanical processes’ increased from 619,491’ tons to 2,585,000 tons in 1942, an increase of ,1,966.000 tons, but that production fell by 400,000 tons, in 1945. That fall occurred when the Labour party was in office, and itshows the detrimental effect that Labour rule has had on coal production in Australia. The Minister went on to say that the loss of working clays was not solely due to strikes and that the breakdown of obsolete mining gear was often responsible. Loss of production through breakdowns of machinery does not amount to 1 per cent, of the total production lost per annum. He proceeded to point out that accidents in mines were another cause of economic loss; yet Mr. Justice Davidson stated that in coal-mining areas in other countries, mechanization had reduced the incidence of accidents. In one mechanized mine, the accident rate had dropped by 30 per cent. Attention was directed to the fact that between 60 per cent, and 70 per cent, of the coal was left in pillars after the first working. But the use of mechanical loaders as an aid to pillar extraction, except with the approval of the Minister for Mines, is prohibited by an act of the New South Wales Parliament. The Minister for Mines consistently refuses to give his approval.
The Prime Minister said that the Leader of the Opposition had not made any suggestion for remedying the situation. 1 remind the right honorable gentleman that Mr. Justice Davidson made many recommendations . in his report. For example, he pointed out that one of the causes of the great loss of coal production was the lack of discipline in the industry, and that strikes were not due to either the management or the owners. He -said that the flouting of awards or orders of industrial tribunals was an every-day occurrence, with strikes and stoppages as a concomitant. ‘He stated that discipline would be quickly restored if governments would decisively affirm without’ qualification, and support unreservedly, the rulings of the courts. How often have the rulings of the courts been trimmed down by the Government? How often will those rulings be varied or departed from if this Government or the Minister alone has power to instruct the Coal Industry Tribunal what it shall or shall not do? I agree with the comment of His Honour; if this Government had stood solidly behind the Arbitration Court,- instead of hamstringing and betraying it all the time, the industrial unrest experienced on the coal-fields of New South Wales during the last six years would have been greatly reduced.
The bill vests in a judicial body certain authority, but that proposal will not be effective so long as the Government will not help the tribunal to exercise the power entrusted to it.1 Nominally, the Czar of all the Russians had absolute power, but that fact did not save him from destruction. The establishment of the proposed authority under this bill will not save Australia from perishing in a whirl of economic disaster if the Government will not use its powers to enforce discipline in .the coal-mining industry, as it enforces the law against citizens who break it, or refuse to obey the awards of the Arbitration Court. Is not an employer who breaks .an award of an industrial tribunal dealt with most severely? But the leaders of the coalminers do as they please. The average coal-miner does not want to do the things that his leaders force him to do. Those leaders flout the laws of the country with impunity, and this weak-kneed Government will not do anything to stop them.
Mr. Justice Davidson laid down four basic requirements for increased production. The first was the preservation of discipline in industry. The second was confidence in the sanctity of agreements and the efficiency of the law. The Government can do a great, deal to help in that respect. The third was that proper statistics should be published of coal production and consumption in Australia. The fourth was the development . of mechanization and proper housing. The bill does not provide any means to give effect to those four simple essentials. The long-range policy which I believe is necessary to ensure increased production should also follow the recommendations of His Honour. I refer to mechanization of industry, and the abolition of contract work. , Those recommendations cannot be given effect overnight. They must be introduced gradually, because, at present, Australian industries are not capable of making the necessary machinery, and it is not at present available in other countries. Regarding improved housing conditions, I was interested to note that Mr. Justice Davidson stated -
At Muswellbrook and Kandos in New South Wales living amenities are admirable, but- on the contrary they are seen at their worst in the State mine of Collinsville, Queensland.
It is peculiar that often, a government displays almost harshness in looking after its own employees, because administrative control is usually centred a great distance away, and the civil servants responsible are often not interested in the conditions’ of the employees. Consequently, deplorable conditions will occur as at Collinsville, in Queensland..
I do not propose to discuss ‘the clauses of the bill at length, because the Leader of the Opposition has already analysed them thoroughly, but I contend that unless this Government supports the authority of the Arbitration Court, shows some strength and places the interests of Australia before .its own selfish interests in the forthcoming elections, this country is bound, as His Honour forecast,- for a disastrous period and an economic depression. I should like the Minister to explain one clause of the bill which is puzzling me. The measure provides that the chairman of the Joint Coal Board will be ex officio chairman of the shale and coal-miners’ pension tribunal. It is well known that the shale and coal-miners’ pension fund is bankrupt. According to actuarial calculations, it is on the wrong side of the ledger by an amount of £10,000,000. I ask the Minister to inform me whether the clause provides that the Commonwealth shall guarantee that fund, and make itself liable eventually for the payment of £10,000,000? If so, I have no difficulty in understanding why the people are not being granted’ the reductions of taxes which justice and equity demand for them. The Prime Minister said that honorable members on this side of the chamber had not submitted any constructive proposals for increasing the production of coal. We have studied the report of Mr. Justice Davidson, whom this Government entrusted to investigate conditions in the coal-mining industry in New South Wales. For years, His Honour conducted exhaustive researches into the industry, and we stand firmly and strongly for his recommendations. We cannot understand why the Government does not adopt them. .
.- Although the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) trenchantly criticized the bill, he did not show the Government how to win an extra ton of coal. Indeed, the honorable member at one time was instrumental in causing a stoppage in a mine which had operated continuously for twenty years. That is the extent of the assistance that the honorable member has given to the coalmining industry. Furthermore, he declared definitely and deliberately that the bill does not make any provision for housing. That statement indicates quite clearly to me that he has not read the bill.
– I did not make that statement.
– The honorable member said that the bill does not provide for housing, which is so essential on the coalfields. I invite him to study clause 13, which empowers the board to make provision for -
Collaboration with other persons and authorities in the establishment and provision of amenities and of health, educational, recreational, housing and other facilities for communities of persons in coal-mining districts, and in the promotion of the development and diversification of industry of town and regional planning in such districts.
That answers the honorable member sufficiently.
I listened attentively to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), to whom the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) made a most effective reply. He referred to absenteeism in Australian coal mines, particularly in the northern districts of New South Wales, and drew a comparison ‘with absenteeism in coal mines in Great Britain. Apparently his figures were different from those of the Prime Minister, which showed that the loss of production through absenteeism had been considerable in certain coal-producing centres in Great Britain. According to the Leader of the Opposition, the record of the industry in relation to absenteeism is “ wicked and shocking “. He claimed that the position would not be improved by nationalization of the industry, which in his opinion is being advocated by the miners merely as a means for achieving a socialist state. I am completely in favour of nationalization, which cannot be brought about quickly enough to suit me. On the 13th December, 1939, the Leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, expressed himself in these terms -
If nationalization was brought about, and some companies did have to go out of existence, it would be better for the industry.
The right honorable gentleman has -cited, the record of Great Britain. I recentlyvisited Great Britain, Germany, France and Belgium, in which countries I found social amenities which compared more than favorably with . those that are provided in Australia. Great Britain has a splendid cafeteria system for the supply of meals, modern bath houses, workmen’s clubs and rehabilitation centres. France has a wonderful housing scheme. The mines in Great Britain are better to work in, notwithstanding the% contention of the right honorable gentleman that they are inferior to the Australian mines. They have up-to-date .methods for the extraction of coal. But Germany can teach both Great Britain and Australia a lesson in the methods that should be used to produce coal and to make the conditions of the miners more comfortable and attractive.
Although I support the second reading of the bill, I hope that the Minister in charge of it (Mr. Dedman) will accept amendments which 1 shall submit in committee. Its penal provisions in clause 13, sub-clause 11, will not help in any . way the production of coal. The Prime Minister has spoken of the bitterness that has been handed down for hundreds of years. During my visit to Yorkshire in January of this year I saw in a cemetery the graves of 132 victims of a mine explosion, 32 of them being boys and girls under the age of twelve years, some of them as young as eight years. The miners have never had anybody to take an interest in their welfare except during a period of war, when the spotlight is focused on them. Their attitude then is, “ “What do you care for us in a period of depression?”. Duringthe depression of 1929-30 they were locked out for fifteen months, and who cared whether they lived or starved? The government of the day used the laws of the land .to ride rough-shod over them because the coal-owners, who supported it, wished to reduce their wages by 12-J per cent., despite the fact that they were working under an award of the Arbitration Court, constituted under an act of this Parliament.
The bill provides that if the board that is to be constituted is of the opinion that a manager or a worker wilfully disobeys it and is a menace to the industry, he may be removed from the industry. That will be victimization to the worst, degree. I have been victimized. Someof my colleagues in the ‘trouble thatoccurred in 1917 are still being victimized, because they cannot return tothe industry. The introduction of penal1 provisions of this sort does not redound to the credit of a Labour government. The board will control all the coal mines in New South Wales, and any man put out of the industry will not be able to obtain employment in a coal mine becausethe managers will be instructed to refuse to engage him. I hope that the Minister will have that provision amended in committee.
Reference has been made to governmentcontrolled mines. The experience of the Coalcliff colliery does not afford a fair illustration of government control, because the miners refused to work in it on account of the dust menace, until the coal controller, Mr. Jack, introduced a system of water-infusion into the coal seams, which minimized the dust to such a degree that it is now practically nonexistent, and the mine is being worked more satisfactorily than previously. I admit that there may be isolated stoppages. But if we want men towork in this industry, we must make their occupation more healthy,, safe and attractive. We do not want parents to have to exhort theirchildren to follow some’ other trade because their fathers have gone to an early grave on account of the dust they havedrawn into their lungs. I have been informed that the cost of laying the dust would be approximately 3d. or 4d. a ton.. Compare that with the cost of 13s. a ton to compensate men in some mines on thesouth coast of New South Wales whohave become “ dusted “. The coal-miners constantly take their lives in their hands.. Their occupation is most dangerous, and the casualty rate is higher than in any other industry. The time is long overdue when the Government should step in andmake the industry more attractive to theemployees than it has been in the past.. The remarks of the Leader of the Opposition were not of a constructive nature : he merely endeavoured to fasten blame on the government of the day for thepresent unrest in the industry. When he -was Prime Minister, the loss pf coal production was greater than during the regime of the present Government. It can at least be said that this Government has not experienced a general strike in the industry like that which occurred when the Menzies Government was in power.
Honorable members opposite have quoted -selected portions of the report of Mr. Justice Davidson in order to support their own arguments. I remind the House that he suggested the provision of amenities for the workers, and advocated the abolition of the contract system. I have always been opposed to that system. If honorable members opposite take that view, they will obtain no financial assistance from the mine-owners at the next elections, because they desire to retain the contract system. I have favoured the mechanization of the mines, although the Leader of the Opposition has said that I have opposed it. The miners generally have come to accept the idea of mechanization if certain safeguards are provided. Mechanized methods cause increased quantities of dust.in the confined spaces in which the miners are called upon to work, and it is well known that dust can put miners out of the industry before they reach the age of 30 years. Mr. Justice Davidson has recommended a preengagement medical examination of miners, and there is something . to he said in favour of that. If I were slightly affected by dust, and thought that it would ultimately undermine my health completely, I should wish to be informed of my condition in the early stages of the complaint. I should prefer to have an opportunity to support my wife and rear my family, without their having to depend on charity or social services.
The miners generally believe that mechanization will result in a reduction of the number of employees. The John Darling colliery formerly had an output of about 2,600 tons a day, but when- portion of the mine was mechanized the output dropped to 1,600 tons, a day. Certainly coal is being produced more cheaply by mechanized methods, but possibly the company is less interested in a high rate of production than in conserving coal for the great iron and steel industry of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. Similarly the Abermain colliery had a greater output by 1,000 tons a day under its old methods of production than when mechanized mining was introduced. I shall show how coal production has declined since 1924, when shipping companies began to take an interest’ in it. Commercial politics cause more dissatisfaction in industry than industrial politics. Since the shipping ring has been operating on the northern and southern coal-fields, the need for government intervention has become more pronounced than formerly. Under private enterprise the industry has failed to. meet the needs of the nation. The industrial relations between the miners and the mine-owners have never been worse than at present, and every effort should be made to bring the two parties together.
The officials of the companies should not live apart from the workers in the mining districts, as they do to-day. There should be social amenities on the fields which would enable the miners and the officials to fraternize. If a spirit of co-operation were developed, peace could be obtained in the industry. The Opposition has endeavoured to lay blame on the miners’ federation for the present unrest, but the root cause is that commercial politics have been practised by the mine-owners, particularly those under the domination and influence of the shipping ring. These people, or their satellites, have never had a real interest in the miners or their way of living. They have taken no interest in the mines other than to extract profits for themselves. During my long experience, I have gained much factual evidence of the harm that this section has done to the industry. It has injured not only the miners but some mine-owners and shareholders generally. As a lodge officer, I have represented the miners at many conferences, and I have had conferences with the late Mr. John Brown. We had many conference?, at which he told me of the evil influence exerted by the shipping ring on the coal-mining industry, and he forecast that this influence would ultimately ruin the industry. He. pointed out that the graft and rottenness and cheeseparing introduced into the methods of selling and distributing coal were both destructive and disruptive. They were, he pointed out, often underhand and always suspicious, since a shipping company could make money from coal while the actual shareholders made a little or nothing. That is true, and it has resulted in the payment of subsidies to coal-mining companies which could not make ends meet. The shipping companiesorganized selling methods and business agencies, so that whether a colliery was making a profit or not, they were always on the safe side. I refer honorable members to a series of articles by Alan Cooper, one of the beneficiaries under the will of the late John Brown, published in Smith’s Weekly, in which he attacks the Adelaide Steamship Company Limited for its association with the coal-mining industry.
Let me illustrate some of the effects of the destructive methods of the shipping colliery owners. Take the West Wallsend district, where there were four large collieries. This area contains the Borehole seam, which is within easy reach. Two collieries, West Wallsend and Killingworth, were established by Caledonian Collieries Limited, and two other collieries, Seaham No. 1 and No.2, were established by the Seaham Colliery Company. One is dominated by the Adelaide Steamship Company Limited, and the other by the Howard Smith Company Limited, which secured a controlling interest in the Caledonian collieries. Immediately the West Wallsend colliery and the town of West Wallsend became the victims of the profit-making policy of the new owners. Aberdaire South was also closed down. Up till then, good wages had been paid, but the shipping companies said that the workers were receiving too much, and the mines were closed, leaving many millions of tons of high-grade Borehole coal underground, which resulted in a reduction of the assets of the company and its shareholders, and injury to the town and to the miners. The hardship and poverty inflicted on the people of West Wallsend over a period of many years are directly due to the selfish and ruthless method of big business. Not long ago the Coal
Commissioners production manager and I inspected the Seaham colliery to investigate the position, because the federation was agitating for the exploitation of a big block of coal that was left by the Killing worth colliery. Nothing could be done under the State act as it then stood, but the Government of New South Wales was prepared to amend the act. It was said that the Killingworth colliery might work again, and there is no reason why it should not. However, it has been closed for the last twelve or thirteen years at the instance of a shipping company which refused to allow this block of coal to be worked, despite the fact that the nation needed coal for war purposes. I believe that the present bill is long overdue. I have indicated where I stand, and I hope that in the forthcoming referendum the Commonwealth will obtain power to legislate in respect to the coal-mining industry, and even to proceed with the nationalization of the coal-mines. The miners at Miumi had built their homes on the company’s land, and they later reverted to the company. On going through Killingworth, West Wallsend and Miumi settlement one is reminded of the lines of Goldsmith -
Ill fares the land to hastening ills a prey,
When wealth accumulates, and men decay.
The same short-sighted and selfish policy has been applied to the Maitland field. The operationhas been slower, but the result has been just as destructive. From 1918 to 1924, following a period of high prices for coal, colliery companies on the Maitland fields were all making large profits, and were watering their capital in an endeavour to cover up their profits. New collieries were opened, and others vigorously developed. The output from the north in 1924 was 9,500,000 tonsthe highest on record. When the demand for coal fell away in 1927, a price-cutting war was initiated by members of the shippingcontrolled colliery. This was one of the greatest errors made by those commercial politicians, because it brought about a needless depression. The late Mr. John Brown told me himself that such a policy would be disastrous. However, the shipping companies still imposed their selling charges and agency fees, and collected their freights. The collieries in different districts closed down, and in other collieries development and the necessary extension of plant were reduced to the minimum. The operations of the” coal commission have proved that coal-selling agencies were never necessary, because the commission marketed the coal itself. The number of .employees in coalmines in New South Wales was gradually reduced from about 24,000 in 1924 to 16,700 in 1939. Let us review the aggregate effect of this destructive policy. The East Greta Colliery Company Limited owned the East Greta mine, Stanford Merthyr No. 1 and a new colliery, Stanford No. 2, in the Cessnock area. East Greta was producing 600 tons a day, and Stanford No. 1 1,S00 tons a day. They were merged with the interests of the Adelaide Steamship Company Limited, and what is the result to-day? When I mention the influence of the Adelaide Steamship Company Limited, I wish to make it clear that that company is now part of what is known as the J. and A. Brown Abermain Seaham Company. The result of that influence is seen in the fact that East Greta is closed down and abandoned and the output from Stanford No. 1 mine has been reduced to ISO tons per day. In both areas there are large resources of high-grade Maitland coal which have been either abandoned or left undeveloped. The John Brown collieries in Kurri have always been well equipped and highly developed. We owe this to a great coal-owner with a national outlook. I quarrelled with Mr. Brown on many occasions, but he did have an Australian national outlook.
Pelaw Main, the colliery where I was working when I was elected to this Parliament, was producing 2,400 tons a day, and Richmond Main 3,000 tons a” day, and employing over 2,000 men. When John Brown died these collieries were merged with the Adelaide SteamshipAbermain Group, which immediately applied its old tactics, with’ the result that the output from Pelaw Main was reduced to 1,000 tons per day, that of Richmond Main colliery to 1,500 tons per day, and the number of employees to fewer than 1,000. Working districts in these collieries were suspended and in many cases abandoned, thereby inflicting great hardships, amounting to poverty, on the people of Kurri. The Hebburn Colliery -Company was originally owned by the Australian Agricultural Company, but when Huddart Parker Limited gained a controlling interest its output fell from 2,600 tons to 1,000 tons .a day.
At Cessnock, the Aberdare collieries were originally owned by the Caledonian Company, into which Howard Smith Limited ate its hungry way and gained a controlling interest. Four collieries were developed in the finest part of the Maitland seam. Costs were low, and the seam was exploited in the first working- without regard for future uses. Aberdare, Aberdare Extended, Aberdare Central and Aberdare South were producing over 6,000 tons daily, but, as the result of the commercial policy adopted, they are now producing less than 3,000 tons daily. Mcllwraith McEacharn Limited has gained a controlling interest in Bellbird Collieries, with the result that there has .been much comment among mining people and great concern among employees. At Abermain, where the Adelaide Steamship company Limited has an influential ‘interest, the three Abermain col- ‘lieries once produced over 4,000 tons a day; to-day, in keeping with the policy of these commercial “ sharks “, the output is 2,400 tons a day. From the ordinary shareholders’ point of view, these steamship-controlled companies have shown very poor returns for their invest- ment. For a number of years some of them have not paid any dividends, due. mainly to maladministration by the controlling interests.
It is a great pity that honorable members opposite have not availed themselves of opportunities to. visit the mining districts to see for themselves the conditions there. Had they done so they would not now be so hostile towards the miners. On many occasions I have invited honorable members- to accompany me to the coal-mining .areas to learn the truth about coal-mining, but, with one or two exceptions, the invitation has been declined. I say definitely that some coal owners have deliberately reduced ‘the productive capacity of collieries by their policy of closing down some collieries, restricting the output of others, and not carrying out proper development, or opening out collieries to make up for closures. Why did these collieries remain idle during the war when there was so much need for more coal? Before opening new mines,, some of . the mines that have been closed down- should be reopened. The owners do not want to reopen them now, partly because the miners would be able to earn good incomes, and also because they wish to wait until the company ‘ tax has been lowered or abolished before exploiting these rich seams. When war commenced in 1939 the evil effect of the shortage of trained men and the reduction of productive capacity was felt immediately. The Opposition has endeavoured to throw the blame for industrial stoppages on the miners, and have given such stoppages as the cause of the shortage of supplies in order to obscure their own. failure to the nation. The fact is that the average . number of days worked in Australian collieries during the past six years is much greater than over similar periods in previous years. That” was set out clearly in a graph incorporated in Ilansard by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) when the Coal Production (War-time) Bill 1944 was before the House. The owners of collieries, particularly the steamship company owners, have by their selfish methods, failed in their responsibility to provide coal to meet the nation’s needs. They have caused and stimulated industrial unrest by what Judge DrakeBrockman called “ the law of the jungle “. They have lost the confidence of the employees and have proven their incapacity to administer their mine3 soundly from a national point of view. By their failure, they have compelled the Government to take drastic steps to endeavour to overcome their failure and provide the public with the necessary coal supplies, and to make coal-mining safer and more attractive, so as to encourage young men to enter the industry and stay there.- Australian methods for training men to become mine managers, and underground managers, are out of date by twenty years compared’ with British methods. . At Sheffield, in Yorkshire, the authorities have established miniature mines on the surface in order to attract youths to the industry [ Nothing like that has ever been attempted in this country. That system was inaugurated in Britain when the mines were under semi-government control during the war.
Have the owners ever expended a penny in an attempt to improve the welfare of the coal-miners or to ensure that they are decently housed ? . One has only to go to Wallarah and’ Minmi to see the tragic conditions under which they are forced to live. Many of them are housed in wretched humpies made of sacking and kerosene tins which are not fit for animals, let alone human beings, to live in.
During my visit overseas I was greatly interested in the hydrogenation and low temperature carbonization processes for extracting oil from coal. Much valuable plant for the extraction of oil from coal by those processes exists in Germany today. The Government might well consider the establishment of such plants in Australia and bring to this country skilled German workers to operate them. The extraction of oil from coal was carried’ out effectively and efficiently, not only in. Great Britain, but also in Germany during the war. As a matter of fact during the later stages of. the’ war Germany’s requirements of oil were largely met by the output of such plants. And who can say that we shall not have to fight another waiwithin the next ten or twenty years ? We visualize no- difficulties in the construction, of battleships, destroyers, aeroplanes and other instruments of death and destruction, but when it comes to the construction of plant and the establishment of an important new industry in this country toguarantee its future oil supplies we are faced with the statement that such a venture would not be a payable commercial proposition. Is the building of a- battleship-, a destroyer or an aeroplane,, or any other hellish instrument of death and destruction a profitable commercial’ proposition? None of these instruments of warfare can be constructed with- ‘ out adequate supplies of power which can only be, provided by the use of coal oroil. Great attention is focused on coaTminers in times of national, crisis-, when they are forced to take action toremedy their grievances. Is any thought given to the matters that prompt them to take such action? Consider the daily toll of injuries suffered by them in the course of their employment, which would be avoidable if appropriate safeguards were taken by the coal-owners to protect, them from harm. In times such as those through which we are now passing the coal-miners are made the target for abuse by certain sections of the press, and uninformed members of this Parliament. The average. intelligence standard of our youth on the coal-fields is above the average. I went into the mines when I was but thirteen years of age.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Mokoan) negatived -
That the honorable member for Hunter be granted an extension of time.
.- The coal problem has been before this House on a number of occasions, and I have not the slightest -doubt that measures such as we now have before us will frequently be brought before the Parliament in an attempt to solve it.- I should- like to know whether the Government really believes that the proposals contained in the bill will result in the production of an additional ton of coal. I listened with interest, as I invariably do, to the speech delivered by my friend the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). The honorable gentleman, who seemed to regard the bill with somewhat mixed feelings, said that he would oppose the penal provisions which it contains. I myself would also be prepared to oppose them if I thought, as I do, that the Government had no intention whatsoever of applying them. One of the greatest causes of. indiscipline in the coal industry to-day arises from the fact that, although a number of regulations and laws have been promulgated from time to time in respect of the industry, in only very exceptional circumstances have they been enforced. Thus, respect for law and order has largely gone by the board. If the Government does not intend to enforce the penal provisions of the bill, it would be better to drop them altogether. The second point raised by the honorable member for Hunter was that the contract system had been objected to by the coal-owners. I have no doubt the honorable gentleman’s . long experience of the industry makes him perfectly aware that that statement is open to very grave doubt. The main objection to changing from contract to day work has come from the coal-miners themselves, because of the big wages they are able to earn under the contract system. Until their objection to the changeover is removed, it will not be possible to institute a system of day work as quickly as we would like. I have discussed this matter- with a number of coalowners, the majority of whom have indicated that they would be glad to see the day-work system brought in, because it would lead to fewer strikes than have occurred under the contract system.* The other point raised by the honorable member related to what he described as the exploitation of coal-fields by the owners. The honorable member repeated all the old charges that have been made in this House, but which, as far as I know, have never been substantiated; certainly they have not been substantiated in any .evidence given before Mr. Justice Davidson, or to any responsible tribunal. It -is true that a great many of the mines in New South Wales have not been well worked. Mr. Justice Davidson, . in his report, has drawn .attention to that fact.
– Does the honorable member intend to support the bill?
– I am in favour of some of it but opposed to other parts of it. The miners themselves have mainly been responsible for the exploitation of the mines. Any one in this House who ‘knows anything about the coal problem - and most .of us know something about it, having discussed it so often - will readily agree that it is a difficult problem to solve.
No problem, whether it be easy or difficult, can be solved except on the basis of the facts of the situation. What are the realities of the coal-mining industry? No other subject has been discussed so often inside this chamber, or outside, or on which more mis-statements have been made or so much nonsense has been spoken. I am surprised that not only honorable members opposite, but also Ministers, should talk so much’ nonsense about the industry. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), who is in charge of the measure, made many statements in his second-reading speech which are not in accord with the facts, and tended to obscure the facts. It is obvious that we can establish peace and prosperity in the industry only- by having regard to the facts, and by ignoring sentiment or prejudice. I propose to deal first with certain remarks made by the Minister in his second-reading speech. Dealing with the acute shortage of coal in Australia, he said -
Indeed, the acute coal shortage in Australia to-day is, in part, the result of the very . coal strike of 1040, because if there had been no strike at that time reserves of coal would have been available in Australia to enable us to meet an emergency as faces us to-day.
The Prime Minister ‘ (Mr. Chifley) repeated that statement; but the facts refute it. I take my figures from the records of the Government Statistician in New South Wales. As at the first July, 1942, that is roughly two years after the coal strike to which the Prime Minister and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction referred, coal reserves in New South Wales totalled 1,062,000 tons.” The reserves fell to 903,000 tons in- 1943, 474,000 tons in 1944 and 69,000 tons in 1945. I should not like to say what reserves of coal exist in New South Wales at present, but I suppose that they would not exceed a few thousand tons, which is approximately the total of reserves at ‘ present held in Victoria. Those figures completely refute the. statement made by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction that the present shortage would not exist but for the strike that occurred in 1940.
The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction said that Australia’s requirements of coal in 1946-47 would total 14,500,000-. tons, rising in 1949-50 to 16,500,000 tons. Giving the reasons for this estimate, he said -
The plain fact is that the demand for coal, not only -in Australia but also in other parts of the world, has increased enormously in recent years. It has increased, of course, pari passu with our population, which, has grown by 300,000 in the last seven years.
The Minister continued -
Had the Government allowed unemployment to develop as did the parties which now sit in opposition years ago, there would not now be the existing demand for coal for industrial purposes . . . The present demand is due to the very great increase of the productivity of the community during the past few years.
That statement, more or less, is in accord with the facts,* but the figures given by the Minister do not disclose the real situation. With the permission of the House I incorporate the following table in Hansard : -
Those figures show that whilst internal consumption -of coal increased by 1,032,000 tons, coal required for bunkering and export decreased by 622,000 tons. This means that from 1939 to 1945 the net increase df consumption was only 410,000 tons. Under existing conditions the mines in New South Wales are capable of producing sufficient coal to meet our requirements. In 1942, the industry’s production in New South Wales was about 12,236,216 tons, a, record, whilst 1,800,000 tons was lost as the result of strikes. Therefore, the mines in New South Wales have a potential output of 14,036,219 tons. That output could be attained without recourse to any long-term plans. By adopting Saturday work it is estimated that the tonnage could be increased by 1,400,000 tons, whilst the working of two shifts - and I can see no reason why two shifts could not be worked in any industry - the output could be further increased by 5,000,000 tons. In. addition, if the miners’ federation would withdraw its objection to machine cutting and loading in pillars, still more tonnage could be produced. Mr. Justice Davidson, in his report said -
The miners are opposed to the extraction of pillars by mechanical means on the ground that as they formed them by handwork in the solid workings they should have the benefits of the easier task of taking them down when crushed in the process of time.
Danger is the main reason given by the miners for objecting to the removal of pillars by scraper-loaders,’ but it has been ‘ proved, not only in this country, but abroad, that mechanical pillar extraction appreciably reduces the accident rate. Mr. Justice Davidson reported a 30 per cent, decease of accidents in mines where pillars are mechanically extracted. Figures in Great Britain and the United States of America are corroborative. Adoption of my suggestions would mean that in the next two years more coal would be produced than will be necessary to meet all Australia’s requirements. The Minister further said -
Mining is at best a strenuous, thankless means of earning a livelihood. It is at worst an avenue of fitful employment, constant fear of disease and the ever-present possibility of death or disablement by accident.
As to the Minister’s statement that mining is a thankless means of earning a livelihood, I point out that miners’ earnings are considerably higher than in any other industry in Australia. The high rate of earnings is unjustified by the quality and type of work. - The work is no more unpleasant and no harder than that in many heavy industries.__
– How does the honorable member know that?
– I have been to the mines many times and had a look at the work.
– What pit did the honorable member work in?
– I will deal with that later. In the last few years the miners have earned in three or four days sufficient to enable them to live reasonably well for the rest of the week. The public has been continually misinformed about conditions in the mines. One constantly hears about the miners working in the bowels of the earth and sweating in the heat. Those terms have no relationship to the truth. I know the, conditions under which the miners work. The conditions of the miners in New South Wales, in whatever mine honorable members like to name, are incomparably better than the conditions of hands in the rolling mills and other heavy industries. Yet the miners have very good conditions and receive higher pay than do the men engaged in the heavy industries. I do not ask now that the miners’ pay be reduced. With that ‘aspect I shall deal later. But when honorable members, and many people outside, talk about the terrible working and living conditions that miners have to contend with, they are far from the truth.
– In the last twelve months more than 2,000 men have left the coalmining industry. How does the honorable gentleman account for that?_
– They probably had better jobs to go to.
– But’ the honorable member said that the miners have the best job of all.
– I only compared their job with that of men in the heavy industries. I think most people will agree that . they have a better job” and better pay than men in those industries. The Minister also referred ‘ to the grave dangers existing in the . mines. The fatality rate in the coal mines of New South Wales is. 1.4 per 1,000, which is considerably lower than that in the mines in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In the latter country the rate is 4 per 1,000. I do not say that is necessarily a criterion, because one wants to reduce the fatality rate here. Even a fatality rate of 1.4 per 1,000 is too high. But, as everybody knows, there are needless deaths on the roads and in other industries, particularly the heavy industries. The fatality in the metalliferous mines is considerably higher, 1.7 per 1,000.
Every one will agree, that we need more coal. In the last six years, according to the statistics, production has fallen alarmingly in spite of the fact that since 1939 mechanization of coal mines has increased by about 20 per -cent. As honorable members may know, the ratio of output of a mechanized mine to that of a mine where the coal is extracted by pick- . and shovel is five to three. The causes of the decline of output are well known to most of us. The Prime Minister referred to the inherited hostility of the miners to the owners. The right honorable gentleman talked about psychology. The aftermath of the depression is a contributing factor, too. . Then there is the matter of nationalization of the coal ‘mines. Perhaps the major trouble is the fact that the miners’ federation is controlled by Communists. If I believed that nationalization of the coal mines would be a complete cure of the ills of the industry, I would not be against it, but experience ‘shows that nationalization has not made for the production of one more ton. After World War I., when the coal mines of Great Britain were brought under the control of the Government, production declined.. .We have our own experiences. ‘ The Lithgow mine, which was re- ferred to by Mr. Justice Davidson in his report and by the Leader of the Opposition in his speech, is in point. When that mine was’ taken over by the Government of New South Wales production slumped. The same thing happened when the Wonthaggi mine was taken over in Victoria. Neither of those mines, when under government control, produced coal to the same quantity, as it did when it was privately owned and operated. Moreover, the reduction of output has been accompanied by heavy’ financial loss. Let us consider the record of the Coalcliff colliery, which the Com- . monwealth Government has controlled for the last two years. The figures are most illuminating. In the year ,1944-45, the net loss was £28,350; production costs a ton were 24s. 10d. ;. the selling price a ton was 21s. 3d.; the loss was 3s. a ton; and absenteeism was 22 per cent., compared with 14 per cent, in other mines on the South Coast. In the year 1945-46, the net loss was £27,650; the production costs were 27s. 3d. a ton ; the selling price was 22s. lid. a ton; and absenteeism .was 34 per cent., compared with 17 per cent, in other mines. In 1944-45 three strikes occurred at Coalcliff, with’ a resultant-loss of production of 1,701 tons, but in the following year, there were ten strikes, with a loss of 2,000 tons.
I cannot conceive how we can possibly obtain peace on the coal-fields while the miners’ federation is dominated by Communists. It appears to me to be a complete contradiction in terms. Every Communist is bound to strive for the introduction of communism in Australia. In order to achieve his ideal, he is pledged to disrupt all industrial activities to the utmost of his ability. How, then, can we expect to produce coal when the Communist knows, as we know, that coal is the life-blood of the country, and that if the flow of coal is seriously interrupted, industrial confusion will ensue and cause mass unemployment. Under such conditions, how can we expect to obtain cooperation from a body of men who have that particular ideal?
The shortage of supplies of coal in Australia and the poor prospects of improving the situation in the future, have driven Victoria and South Australia to develop their own resources of coal or to utilize substitute fuel. Their object is to escape from the thraldom of New South Wales. Whilst this policy is most uneconomical and parochial, it is understandable. Unless the Commonwealth Government, by some means, can restore discipline on the coal-fields, and increase production adequately, the tendency for each State to make itself self-supporting must, and will, continue. If it does continue to any great extent, the coal-miners will lose a part of their market and their employment. Surely, the miners themselves take a short-sighted view when they do not attempt to meet the demands for coal ! Honorable members may not . be aware that the cost of the coal required for the production of an article is comparatively low, being between 3 and 5 per cent, of the. total. Therefore, if the Government believes that the price of coal must be increased, the effect upon the cost of producing other goods will not be so devastating as most people think. I suggest to the Government that no great objection would be raised to a proposal to increase the price of coal, provided the advantages were commensurate .with the actual amount of the increase. We shall require money to provide for the coalminers the additional amenities that have been proposed. Honorable members oppo- - site have stated that the cause- of the trouble on the coal-fields is the fact that . the mine-owners have been “difficult” in the past and have not been prepared to meet the claims of the employees.
– They are still difficult.
– I do not attribute to the coal-miners all the blame for the industrial unrest. Except during the years of war when the coal-owners did not have control of their mines and had no opportunity to carry out improvements, they were to blame, to some degree, for what occurred. The hostility between owner and miner was born 100 years ago, and doubtless has been accentuated since then. Many years ago, employers adopted a rather inhuman attitude towards their employees, but during the last few years every progressive employer has attempted to improve his personal relations with his employees. In the United States of America, every big business man employs a personnel relations officer, whose function is to acquaint himself with the employees, act as an intermediary between employer and employees, and see that, as far as possible, the owners meet the wishes of the workers. In Australia, a similar arrangement is necessary. The owners should enter into a much closer relationship with their employees than that which exists at present. That may be achieved in many ways. For example, amenities can be increased, and employees can be told exactly what the business means, how they are playing an important part in it and how they can assist and co-:operate. ff that were done the relations existing between employers and employees would be materially improved.
This bill will hot. be effective unless the Government realizes that discipline can be obtained on the coal-fields only by firmness. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) asked whether the members of the Opposition advocate repressive action. Of course, we do not. But we do advocate firmness in dealing with law-breakers. If the Government declines to enforce the law, it should repeal that law.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the men should be put in gaol?
– I propose that the penalty which the law imposes should be inflicted. If the Government declines to take action to- ensure that the penalty shall be. inflicted, that law should be repealed. Not to enforce the law is to subvert all discipline. As I stated, this bill will not be effective unless the Commonwealth enforces discipline on the coal-fields.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Morgan) adjourned.
Gartside Brothers Products PRO.prietary Limited - Vegetable Seeds.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to raise two matters which, though small, are of some importance, because they involve a matter of principle, and on that account should receive attention.
Gartside Brothers Products Proprietary Limited, large canners of vegetables and some, fruits at Dingley, not far from Dandenong, Victoria, recently, without warning, received from the Tinplate Board the order to cease the use of certain plant for the canning of vegetables, the only reason given . being that it was uneconomic in the use of tinned plate. The cost of this plant was £30,000. It is up to date, has proved most efficient, and had not given cause for complaint previously. Machinery is very hard to obtain, and even if suitable plant could be imported from the United States of America it probably could not be landed in” Australia in less than a year. Unless this order of the board be rescinded or modified/the people engaged on the operation of the plant will lose their employment. That, however, is only a part of the story. Another consideration is that contracts which have been made by the firm for the supply of vegetables that are being grown on an -area of 1,000 acres by small farmers will be. broken, and those men will be unable to dispose of their crops. In the Red Hill area> about twenty ex-servicemen are working cooperatively on 140 acres on the production of beans, peas and other vegetables which are to be supplied to this firm under a contract. If its plant, ceases to operate that contract, too, will be broken, and those men will be left “ high and dry “. I know that the Government sincerely desires to assist ex-servicemen wherever possible. I hope that it will take action at an early date to obviate the loss of their contracts by these men and the other growers to whom I have referred.
Some time ago, Gartside Brothers Products Proprietary Limited sought and obtained from the Vegetable Seeds Committee a permit to import 60 lb. of asparagus seed from the United States of America. Inquiry in that’ country disclosed that this seed was not available. Thereupon, the firm sought from the committee a permit to import from the United States 500 lb. of Detroit dark red beetroot seed, similar to seed- which it had previously imported from that country, at a cost of approximately 5s. per lb., but the permit was1 refused, the committee stating that it could supply 500 lb. of the same variety of seed. The firm does not want the seed which the ‘committee can supply, because 75 per cent, of the beet grown from seed obtained from it. previously had to be rejected, with the result that export and internal orders could not be fulfilled. The refusal of the committee to permit importation is very short-sighted. I hope that the Government will look into the matter.
– I shall bring the two matters to the notice of the appropriate Minister.
Question .resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Census and Statistics Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 122.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of the Interior - E. R. Thain
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes - Gympie, Queensland.
Superannuation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No, 121.
House adjourned at 11.50 p.m.
Hie following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s- questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions- are as follows : -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice - ].. What quantity of peanuts was imported into Australia during the years 1943-44, 1944-45 and 1945-46?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers : - 1 and 2. Imports of peanuts for years 1943-44, 1944-45 and 1945-40: Country of origin, India- 1943-44, 9,786,975 lb.; 1944-45, 24,089,276 lb.; 1945-46, 1,706,005 lb. Note.Shipments mostly arrive between January and July each year. An export prohibition imposed by the Indian Government became effective from January, 1040.
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Year ended 30th June -
Year ended 30th June -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers:-
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers: -
Broadcasting : “ Radio Australia “ Short-wave Service.
s asked the Minister for Information,upon notice -
What are the regular features broadcast over the short-wave radio station controlled and operated by the department?
– The Answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Radio Australia prepares and broadcasts 23 news bulletins each 24 hours. Some of these are bulletins of Australian news only, some are bulletins of world news (which includes important happenings in Australia) ; some are bulletin!! of both world news and Australian news. Three of them are specially prepared for Australian forces abroad and contain items of home news of special interest to members of the forces. News is broadcast in French, Dutch, Chinese, Malay, Siamese, and Japanese as well as in English, each bulletin being prepared with special reference to the area and audience to which it is directed and the language in which it is broadcast. The bulletins’ are as follows. In each group they are stated in chronological order.
Group 1. - Australian and New Zealand news only: seven bulletins-
Trans. 7a to the British Isles, 1.15 a.m.
Trans. 7 to western coast North America, 2 a.m.
Trans. 9 to the eastern coast of North America and Canada, 11.30 a.m.
Trans. F2 (Australian) to Forces in Pacific, Japan and Asia, 1 p.m.
Trans. 8 to western coast North America, 3.15 p.m.
Trans. 2 to the British Isles, 5.30 p.m.
Trans. 0 to eastern coast North America and Canada, 10 p.m.
Group. 2. - World news and Australian - 51 to Pacific and India, 12.30 a.m.
Fl to Forces in Pacific and Japan and Asia, 7.45 a.m. 5 A to Forces in Pacific and Japan and Asia, 7 p.m.
Group 3. - World news in English -
F2 to Forces in Pacific and Japan, 12 noon. 5C to China coast, 8.45 p.m. 5F to Asia and Forces,10.30 p.m.
Group 4. - World news in foreign languages - 7B to Asia in Japanese, 9 a.m. 1 to Tahiti in French, 4 p.m. 3 to Tokyo in Japanese, 5.30 p.m. 4 to New Caledonia in French, 0.15 p.m. 5B to Chungking in Standard Chinese (Mandarin), 8 p.m. 5 to Tokio in Japanese, 8.15 p.m. 5E to Batavia in Dutch, 8.45 p.m. 5D to Singapore in Malay, 9.30 p.m. 5G to Indo-China in French, 11.0 p.m. 5H to Siam in Siamese, 11.35 p.m.
The talks and features broadcast by Radio
Australia naturally change from time to time. They fall, however, into two main categories. One is the basic programme. The other consists of alterations and additions to the basic programme made because of special events. Detailsof the basic programme are set out below. What is mean by “alterations and addition “ can best be shown by citing examples from recent broadcasts. . Previews and reviews of the rugby league tests were added to the programme. A special feature covered the presentation of a Grecian memorial urn in Canberra. A special programme - “Greetings Canada!”, broadcast to mark Canada’s National Day, was later re-broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. American Independence Day and the Philippines Independence Day were the subjects of special scripts, and so on. Talks and features are based on the following objectives, and these objectives are kept in mind, no matter how the various subjects that are given prominence vary from time to time: -
All this cannot be done at the one time. As the talks and features are carried on from day to day, and month to month, the Talks Section endeavours to give each requirement a due proportion of broadcasting time. At the moment the basic talks programme broadcast each week is as follows: -
United States, British Isles and Forces.
Monday. “Australia To-day” - A ten-minute talk with music on some important aspect of Australian life and institutions. “ Agricultural Bulletin “ - A seven to tenminute review of developments in Australian primary production.
Tuesday. “ Canberra Report “ - A ten-minute survey, backgrounding and amplifying important events in the National Capital. “Topical Talk” - Bright talk, with music; a good vehicle for tourist and immigration publicity. “Test Cricket Talk” - A fortnightly fiveminute feature for British listeners on Australian cricket, with an eye to the coming Testecries.
Wednesday. “ Australia’s Contribution to World Music” - Musical biographies of Australians prominent in music. The scries, a very popular one with direct listeners, has run so far to 24. editions, ranging from Melba to MewtonWood. “ Australian Sporting Round-up “-A tenminute review of Australian sports news and achievements.
Thursday: “ Australian Women’s Newsletter “ - A talk on matters of interest to women - fashions, personalities, arrivals and departures, and so on. “Topical Talk”- The week’s second light colourful feature, on the same general lines as the Tuesday talk. “ Farm Spot “ - “ Farm Spots “ are broadcast every second Thursday for use by station WLS Chicago. The subject for each script is some topic likely to interest primary producers in the Middle West. For example, the last “Farm Spot” described in detail the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited’s model farm at Whyalla.
Friday. “ Australian Economic Review “ - A survey of the highlights of the week’s news in matters important to Australia’s economic development. A recent script on Australian wool, for example, was published in entirety in San Francisco. “ The Artists of Australia “ - A cultural publicity talk on Australian artists.
Saturday. “Australian Newsreel “ - A special feature presented with actors and music, dramatizing events of the week in Australia. The news reel generally includes an interview with some distinguished visitor or Australian. “ North American Mailbag “ - Replies to letters from listeners in Canada and the United States. These replies are filled with information about Australia. “ DX-ers Call Britain “ - A special feature prepared by the Australian Radio DX Club, in which Australian amateur radio operators give their story and that news to DX enthusiasts in Britain.
Sunday. “ Magazine of the Week “ - A magazine of life in Australia, city and outback, covering three or four different topics in each edition. This is perhaps the most popular feature with direct listeners, and also proves very useful to the departments overseas bureaux. “ British Mailbag “ - Replies to letters from listeners in Britain, on the same lines as the replies to Canadians and Americans. “ DX-ers Call North America “ - A second script provided by the Radio DX Club of Australia for DX enthusiasts in North America.
Note. - The forces do not get all these talks as they have many special features, such as British Broadcasting Corporation transcriptions and request programmes in their broadcasting time. “ Brides Calling Home “ - Two-minute messages from British brides of Australian servicemen are being recorded, and on the 31st July, a nightly broadcast will begin. One message will be featured each night. It is proposed to extend the plan to Canadian and other brides of Australians. The brides have been asked to say frankly what they think of Australia, and to write an informal “ Letter home “ to their parents or friends. “ French Talk “ - A talk is included in the French programmes each day. The basic programme includes a Thursday feature, *’ France in Australia speaks to the French Overseas “, supplied by the French Information Service. The French talks also include a “ Pacific Mailbag “, answering listeners’ letters, and a magazine on the lines of the “ Magazine of the Week “ in the British Isles - United States Forces transmission. “ Australia Calls Ceylon “ - At the request of the Commerce Department, experimental scripts on subjects of special interest to Ceylon - mostly trade - have been broadcast recently. Development of this unit is awaiting a report from the Ceylon end. In the meantime, a favorable report has been received from London. “Malay Talk “-A 400 to 500 word talk is broadcast each day in Malay. These talks are strictly non-political. They deal with aspects of Australian life, describe Australian institutions, and generally inform listeners of the real nature of this country. The style is kept simple and clear, as advised by the Malay staff. “ Dutch Talk “ - Several talks are broadcast each week in the Dutch transmission. No commentaries are given. These scripts also are strictly non-political. Some, scripts are adaptations of talks used in American and British Isles transmissions, others are specially written. Each Wednesday a round-up of items of special Dutch interest is broadcast. “ Chinese Talk “-A short talk six clays a week either adapted or specially written, on subjects which our Chinese staff consider of interest to their countrymen. These are also strictly factual, with no “ politics “ or commentary. “ Japanese Talk “ - Short talks are given daily in the Japanese transmission to tell about Australia’s democracy and way of life. Again, there are no commentaries. Talks for the week, 15th July to 21st July, for example, ranged from an Economic Review to items of interest to women. We are advised on the choice of scripts by our American-Japanese staff.
There are three transmissions directed to the Australian, British and Allied Forces in Japan, the Pacific and Asia and they fall into the following categories: -
Morning transmission (F.l), 7.15 a.m. - 9.30 a.m.
Mid-day transmission (F.2), 12 noon - 2.00 p.m.
Evening transmission (F.3), G.30 p.m. - 11.00 p.m.
The news services, which are given at 7.45 a.m., 12 noon, 1.00 p.m., 7.00 p.m. and 10.30 p.m., are relayed by the Australian Army Amenities broadcasting network from stations 9AL Rabaul, 9AO Morotai and WVTV Kure, Japan. These programmes are beamed on our most powerful transmitter (VLA 100 kilowatts) for morning and evening sessions, whilst the midday forces transmission is carried by. three transmitters VLA (100 kilowatts), VLC (50 kilowatts) and VLG (10 kilowatts).
Entertainment Broadcasts. - Programmes contain a wide choice of entertainment material, a proportion of variety, dunce music, classical programmes, talks features, sporting, news, &c. We broadcast regular British Broadcasting Corporation features emphasizing the British Commonwealth way of life and several of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s national features such as “Happy Go Lucky”, “A.B.C. Hit Parade”,. “Spotlight”, &c. A popular .feature is the Shirley Deane Forces Request session nightly, which is a programme presented as a result of the mailed requests from troop audiences in the East and which has been a splendid morale builder in isolated areas, for during this session we have been able to work in sidelights on topical matters of interest from their home States. The Austraiian Army Amenities Broadcasting network picks up and re-broadcasts a number of these Radio Australia features.
Sporting Service and Topical Features. - A comprehensive sporting service has been evolved, and on Saturdays Radio Australia is able to present a complete cover of the Sydney and Melbourne race descriptions plus Melbourne football and Sydney Rugby, results of races and football scores from Brisbane and Adelaide. The three England versus Australia Rugby test matches were recently transmitted to the forces as well as to the British Broadcasting Corporation, London. Special sporting talks are also given and the acceptances are read at dictation speed for Melbourne and Sydney race meetings each Thursday night at 10 minutes past 7. Additional sporting features, are a r6sum6 of important boxing fixtures, Head of the River races, and so on. Outside broadcasts are always included when possible if, sufficiently interesting to merit inclusion in troops’ programmes. These include the arrival of Lord Louis Mountbatten, Anzac Day marches, Victory Day actualities, atomic bomb rebroadcast, Commonwealth Parliament question time, &c.
y. - On the 4th July, the honorable member for Wentworth, Mr. Harrison, asked the following questions, upon notice -
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Newspapers: American Comic Strips.
e. - On the 24th July, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr: Haylen) asked a question concerning Australian and American comic strips.
The Minister for Trade and Customs has now supplied the following answers : -
n asked the Minister for Inform ation upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
House and Cow Rugs.
n. - On the 24th July, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) asked a question concerning the sale by the Army Disposals Depot in Victoria of a quantity of horse and cow rugs.
The Minister for Supply and Shipping has now supplied the . following answer : -
No complaints were received in respect of the sale in question. It is a fact that about. 1,500second-hand horse and cow rugs were declared to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission for disposal, and that they were subsequently sold through the Army Salvage Depot at Fisherman’s Bend, Melbourne. When the rugs were originally declared for disposal, they were offered to the trade, which, because they were not new, declined to buy at a reasonable price. It was therefore decided to submit them at public auction, and to test the market 50 of the rugs were offered in this way. Despite the fact that the sale was widely advertised and anyone could have attended and purchased, the highest bid received at the auction was 10s. As a reserve price of 12s.6d. had been fixed, the rugs were thereupon withdrawn from sale. It was announced by theauctioneer, however, that the rugs would be available for purchase at 12s. 6d. each at the conclusion of the sale. When the sale was over, the 50 rugs offered were disposed of at this price. In order to dispose of the residue they were advertised during the week commencing 12th June as being available at the Army Salvage Depot ata specified price of 12s. 6d. per rug. Following this action, 153 separate sales were effected ex the Army Salvage Depot and all the rugs available were cleared in this way. In no cases were more than 50 rugs disposed of in any single transaction. It would be very difficult to say whether any of the buyers were Jewish refugees, but it is certain that there was no bulk purchase by any single operator. As there was no bulk purchase, there could not have been any subsequent bulk dealing in the rugs. I stress the fact that all these sales are widely advertised in the press and are open to all the public to attend.
Galvanized Iron, Wire andWire Netting.
– In reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) I promised to institute enquiries as to whether or not Queensland had received its quota of galvanized materials.
The position is that, following the cessation of hostilities, the acute shortage of housing and fencing materials necessitated an overall Commonwealth survey. This survey revealed, inter alia, that production of galvanized iron sheets and wire and wire products was not nearly sufficient to meet the present demand or the estimated future requirements. As a result, the output of these products from the manufacturers was programmed to meet essential requirements, and each State was allotted a percentage of the output, based upon pre-war usage and having regard to special features existing in any one State. The critical factor in increasing the production of galvanized iron sheets and wire and wire products is the availability of man-power. Every effort is being made by the Commonwealth to increase man-power to these industries. The problem is not easy of solution, as, in the case of the production of galvanized iron sheets, the work is heavy and unpleasant and only able-bodied men are suitable for engagement in the industry. The Queensland quota of galvanized iron to the 30th
June was 12,937 tons, of which 11,603 tons has been delivered. Instructions have been issued to the manufacturers to divert to Queensland over the next nine weeks an additional quota of 450 tons to reduce the deficit of 1,334 tons, and further adjustments will be made at the expiration of this period. In addition, Queensland will continue to receive the fixed quota. With regard to butt welded piping, Queensland has received its full quota of production to the 30th June, 1946.
The position concerning wire netting and fencing wire is as follows: -
To reduce the deficit of 968 tons of wire netting, the manufacturers have been requested to ship 515 tons out of stock, and arrangements have been made to increase the, weekly allocation to Queensland by an additional 9 tons to 44 tons a week. In the case of fencing wire, the maufacfrurers have been requested to forward 241 tons out of stock to reduce the deficit of 533 tons, and arrangements have been made to increase the weekly allocation to Queensland by an additional 5 tons to 37 tons a week.’ The department has maintained very close contact with the shipping authorities in New South Wales, and I am pleased to state that they have been most co-operative in making available the maximum possible tonnage and shipping space to move housing and fencing materials to Queensland. In addition, the New South Wales railways are providing the maximum space to forward goods by rail where shipping space is unavailable. Between the 18th and 24th July, the following vessels either sailed or were loading galvanized iron and/or wire products for shipment to Queensland.: - Cardross, Carlisle, Bundaleur,
Loans to Agricultural Contractors.
y. - On the 26th July, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr.
Turnbull) asked the following questions relating to loans to agricultural contractors for the purchase of equipment : - 1.What is the limit of the amount available ?
I am now able to supply the following answers : -
They need to be recommended by the State Departments of Agriculture and to be able to provide a mechanization service for:
In all cases there has to be evidence that a group of farmers require this service.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 July 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19460730_reps_17_188/>.