17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Australia-United Kingdom Purchase Arrangement.
– During the course of my second-reading speech on the Wool Industry Fund Bill, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) asked whether I would make available the agreement that had been entered into in 1939 between the Commonwealth and United Kingdom Governments for the purchase of Australian wool during the war. A formal agreement was never concluded between the two Governments, but an arrangement was developed with an exchange of cables. I now lay on the table the following paper: -
Wool - Outline of War-time Wool Purchase Arrangement, 1939-45.
– by leave - I desire to inform the House that finality has now been reached in the detailed negotiations for the relief of double taxation between the United Kingdom and Australia, which have been taking place in London with the Board . of Inland Revenue. The agreement will, in due course, be signed in London by the Australian Resident Minister (Mr. J. A. Beasley) and the British Chancellor of the Exchequer (Dr. Dalton), and will then be published.
The agreement will apply in respect of ordinary income tax, super tax, undistributed profits tax, social services contribution and war-time (company) tax in Australia, and income tax, surtax, excess profits tax and national defence contribution in the United Kingdom. With the exception ofprofits from shipping and air transport, dividends, literary and industrial royalties, pensions and purchased annuities and certain agencies, priority of tax will be given to the country of the origin of the income. If the country of the taxpayer’s residence also taxes the income, it will give a credit against its own tax of the tax paid to the country of origin. The present arrangement, under which the relief from double taxation suffered by United Kingdom residents on their Australian income is borne partly’ by Australia and partly ‘by the United Kingdom, will be discontinued. In future the United Kingdom will provide the full relief to its residents by giving them a tax credit of the Australian tax against the United Kingdom tax on that income. Except in relation to dividends from United Kingdom companies, Australia does sot tax its residents on income derived from sources in. the United Kingdom which is taxed in that country, so Australian residents do not suffer double taxation on their United Kingdom income.
One of the biggest obstacles which has hindered the British industrialist from extending his enterprise to Australia or from expanding his business already established in this country is the heavy -weight of the combined United Kingdom and Australian taxation on the profits, and on dividends paid out of those profits, where the Australian business is carried on through the medium of a separate subsidiary company.
In order to reduce the incidence of the combined taxes in these cases, Australia will exempt from its tax, dividends paid by an Australian subsidiary to its United Kingdom parent where the ‘parent cornmany owns all the shares, less directors’ qualifying shares, of the subsidiary .company. The United Kingdom .enterprise which carries on its business in- Australia through a wholly-owned separate subsidiary company will thus be placed in the same position for taxation purposes as the enterprise which carries on its business through a branch. Australia will get its full tax on the profits of the subsidiary company just as it will in the case of the branch, but will not charge tax on the dividends received by the parent company. .
In the case of other dividends paid by Australian companies to United. Kingdom shareholders who are subject to United Kingdam tax,’ Australia will reduce the tax payable on the dividends by one-half, if the Shareholder is not engaged in trade or business through a permanent establishment in Australia.
Dividends paid by United Kingdom companies to United Kingdom shareholders will be exempt from Australian tax.
The United Kingdom will exempt from its surtax dividends paid by United Kingdom companies to Australian shareholders not engaged in trade or business through a permanent establishment in the United Kingdom.
United Kingdom companies which are private companies under the Australian ‘ Jaw, whether carrying on business in Australia through a separate subsidiary company or a branch, Will continue as heretofore to pay private company tax at full rates on their undistributed income, regardless of the exemptions and the 50 per cent, reduction in tax allowed in respect of the dividends paid to United Kingdom shareholders. United Kingdom public companies, whether carrying on business in Australia through a separate subsidiary or branch, will also pay undistributed profits tax on their undistributed profits at the rate of tax charged on those profits.
With regard to dividends from United Kingdom companies, Australian shareholders at- the present time are taxed on the net amount of the dividend remaining after deduction of the United Kingdom tax. If these shareholders elect to include . in their assessable income the United Kingdom tax appropriate to their dividends, calculated where necessary at the net United Kingdom rate payable by the company, they will be allowed a credit of the United Kingdom tax from the Australian tax payable in respect of the dividend.
With regard to dividends received by United Kingdom shareholders from Australian companies, the .United Kingdom will give a credit in respect of the Australian tax. In the case of ordinary and ‘ participating preference shares, this credit will take into account, in addition to any tax payable in respect of the dividends, the taxes, other than war-time company tax, payable by the company on profits out of which the dividend is paid.
Trading- profits, other than shipping and air transport, ‘‘will remain on the origin basis and each country will tax the profit derived through a permanent establishment iri its territory by an enterprise of the other country. Thus, in the case of a United Kingdom concern with a permanent establishment in Australia, Australia will tax the profits and the United Kingdom will give full credit for the Australian tax against the United Kingdom tax on the profits. Australia will continue to tax profits from film, business controlled abroad and from insurance with non-residents in accordance with its present law, and the United Kingdom will allow credit for the Australian tax.
A permanent establishment will be defined as a branch or other fixed place of business and will include a management, factory, mine or agricultural or pastoral property. An enterprise of one country carrying on business in the other country through an agent will not be regarded as having a permanent establishment in the other country unless the agent has and habitually exercises authority to conclude contracts on behalf of the enterprise otherwise than at prices fixed by the enterprise or unless the agent regularly fills orders on behalf of- the enterprise from a stock of goods or merchandise in ‘ the other country. An enterprise will not, however, be regarded as having a, permanent establishment in the other country merely because it carries on business dealings in the other country through a bona fide commission agent or broker acting in the ordinary course of his business and receiving commission, at the customary rate for the class of business.
With regard to shipping and air transport profits, Australia will exempt profits derived by a resident of the United Kingdom from ships whose port of registry is in the United Kingdom or from aircraft registered in that country. A reciprocal exemption will be given by the United Kingdom in respect of shipping and air transport profits derived by a resident of Australia.
Literary and industrial royalties, other than mining royalties, pensions - governmental and private - and purchased annuities will be taxed on a residence basis, that is, the country of origin of the income will exempt, and the country of residence of the recipient of the income will tax.
Governmental remuneration v will be taxed by the employing government .and exempted in the country where the officer is employed except where the . officer is ordinarily a resident of the country in which he is employed or is not in that country solely for the purpose of rendering services to the employing government.
The’ agreement will also contain provisions relating to the remuneration of businessmen, professors and teachers, of one of the countries visiting the other country.
Provision will also be made for the exchange of information between the Australian and United Kingdom taxation authorities.
The agreement will run for ten years certain, and thereafter will continue indefinitely unless terminated by either party.
The agreement will operate in respect of the current tax year and will thus apply in Australia, in respect of companies, to income derived during the year ended the 30th June, 1946, and, in respect of individuals, these being on pay-as-you-earn’, to income derived during the year ended the 30th June, 1947. In the United Kingdom it will operate in respect of the year of assessment; 1946-47 in the case of the income tax. the year 1945-46 in the case of surtax, and as from the 1st April, 1946, in the case of excess profits tax and national defence contribution.
In entering into this agreement, the Australian Government has been guided by the hope that it will stimulate the flow of United Kingdom capital to Australia and so bind closer than ever the ties existing within the British Common- wealth.
In place of the present system of granting reliefs, which have frequently been inadequate, the agreement will implement a greatly simplified system, which will provide all the necessary relief from double taxation. The Government confidently anticipates that the increase in the flow of capital to Australia will lead to a consequential development of Australian secondary industries and substantially increase both the field of employment and the national income.
– by leave - I inform honorable members that, as the
Minister for the Navy, Minister for Munitions and Minister for Aircraft Production (Mr. Makin) is about to leave on the first stage of his journey to Washington to take up duty there as Ambassador, I have asked the Minister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) to act as Minister .for the Navy, and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Mr. Dedman) to act as Minister for Munitions and Minister for Aircraft Production, as from the 3rd August, 1946. Until the return of the AttorneyGeneral and Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), I shall act as Minister for External Affairs.
Occupation Force in Japan: Wives of Members ; Electoral Facilities - Cash Allowance to Released Aus- tralian Prisoners of War.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether the Government has yet made a decision to allow the wives of members of the Australian occupation . force in Japan to join their husbands?
– This matter has been considered by the committee in Melbourne that is known as Joint Chiefs of Staff Australia, consisting of representatives of the Australian, New Zealand ‘ and British forces, . and a major-general representing India. Recommendations made by the committee have been sent . to the respective countries. A recommendation has been made to the Defence Committee, and the Defence Department is discussing the matter with the Treasury. It is hoped that an announcement may be made at an early date. Because certain difficulties have to be overcome, I cannot make a definite promise. However, the honorable member may rest assured that the matter will be viewed by the Government with the greatest sympathy, and that every consideration will be given to the natural desire of the members of the forces in Japan to have their wives join them if that be practicable.
– As the people of Australia will have an opportunity on the 28th September, to express confidence in and appreciation of the present Commonwealth Labour Government, will the Minister for the Interior state what steps are being taken to enable Australian servicemen and civilians in Japan to exercise their franchise on that date?
– The Commonwealth Electoral (War-time) Act 1944 makes provision for the exercise of the franchise by Australian servicemen in Japan or elsewhere outside Australia, and such provisions will operate on the 2Sth September, as they did during the war period.
– Did the Minister for the Army read in this morning’s Daily Telegraph a report that Australian troops who received an amount of £5 with which to buy food on their release from prisoner of war camps at Singapore, have been instructed to refund the money plus British exchange, making a total of £6 5s. 5d. ? Will the Minister inform me whether that report is correct? If so, as the amount of £5 was paid in lieu of food, does the right honorable gentleman consider that this demand ‘is justified? If his answer is in the negative, will he issue instructions for the demand to be withdrawn?
– I have not seen the report and I cannot say. whether the statements in it are true. However, I shall have it examined.- It is a matter with which I am not conversant at the moment, but I hope to be able to give the honorable member some information later to-day.
Caustic Alkalis - Transport - Building Industry Restrictions in South Australia.
– Is it a fact that shortage of coal is severely restricting production of caustic alkalis, and that makers of this commodity may have to cease its production? .Is it also a fact that manufacturers of soap, textiles, chemicals and paper, as well as persons engaged in the pastoral industry, and the foundation’ of new industries are largely dependent upon caustic alkalis, and that these industries are already adversely affected by the restricted output?
What measures, if any, will be taken to ensure supplies of this necessary commodity to the industries dependent upon them? Is the Prime Minister aware that the secretary of the Amalgamated Road Transport Workers Union has warned the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council that thousands of workers- in the State may soon lose their jobs because the coal shortage is bringing transport to a standstill, and that home-building and general construction is likely to stop completely because millions of feet of timber and other supplies cannot be transported? Have power and gas restrictions been imposed in Melbourne and Adelaide? If so, will he direct all- coal-miners to man the mines so that sufficient coal may be available for industry and transport at least during the passage of the “new deal “ coal legislation?
– It has become obvious during the debate on the Coal Industry Bill that many of the. statements contained in the honorable member’s question are, indeed, true. There is a very grave shortage of coal, due to the great expansion of industry among other things, and because of the shortage of -shipping. The steps which are being taken by the Government to overcome the shortage will be debated later in the day.
– Does the Prime Minister know that industry in South Australia is at a standstill because no coal is available? Will he have inquiries made to find out why the consumption of coal in South Australia was not tapered off when it became apparent that supplies were running short? It is remarkable that right up to within 24 hours of the complete breakdown of supplies, neon lights throughout South Australia were left ablaze, and full tramway and railway services were maintained. Will the Prime Minister confer with the Minister for Supply and Shipping to ensure that as many ships as possible are used within the next few days to carry coal for South Australian industries ?
– The shortage of coal and the consequent closing down of industries in South Australia have caused great anxiety to the Government. I confess to some surprise that in South Australia and in other States there was not some earlier tapering down of consumption in order to meet such an emergency as now exists. If that had been done sudden industrial stoppages would not have occurred because of the shortage of coal. I have asked the Minister for Supply and Shipping to look into the matter. I suppose it is a case now of spilt milk and nothing can be done but bail up another cow. I discussed the matter again this morning with the Minister. I understand that earlier shortages of coal in Adelaide were due not to lack of shipping, but to insufficient coal at the wharfs at Newcastle to fill such ships as were available. One or two ships left Newcastle partly laden. The Minister is hopeful that it will be possible to transport considerable quantities of coal to Adelaide next week in order to relieve the acute position that has arisen in industry there.
– I ask the Prime Minister : When may I expect a full and satisfactory reply to a question which I placed on the notice-paper on the 18th July and . which was omitted from later issues of the notice-paper following an intimation by the right honorable gentleman that the’ requisite information was being obtained ? The question related to the expenditure of public money by ‘this Government from what are known as secret funds but which indecent people refer to as “ slush “ funds ?
– If the right honorable gentleman has not obtained the information he sought I apologize for the omission. I was under the impression that I had endorsed an answer to be sent to him covering the matters raised in his question and that I indicated that certain funds had been established for war purposes at the request of the CommanderinChief, South-West Pacific.
– That is not the question to which’ I refer.
– If I have failed to cover any aspects of the right honorable gentleman’s question I shall take action to see that the omission is rectified.
Building Tradesmen - “Australia and Your Future”: Living Costs.
– It is reported that the Australasian Council of Trades Unions is concerned about the plan to bring to this country from Great Britain 1,000 building trades workers. “Will the Minister for Information give an assurance to the Australasian Council .of Trade Unions that if this be so the rights of Australian building workers will he fully protected ?
– The Australasian Council of Trades Unions has never asked for such an assurance, because it is unnecessary. Nobody will be brought to Australia to the jeopardy of the Australian people. The people whom we desire to- bring to thi3 country from the United Kingdom will be welcome additions to our population and will enjoy all the benefits of our social legislation and industrial awards which organized trade unionism has made possible in this country. I have had discussions with officials of the Australasian Council of Trades Unions in regard to this matter, and I propose to have a conversation with Mr. Monk, the secretary of the council, in Melbourne on Sunday. There is so grave a shortage of building tradesmen in this country that I am sure if we brought 1,000 building tradesmen from Great Britain we could profitably employ all of them, in Canberra alone.
–As. investigations made by newspapers in Melbourne have shown that clothing costs given in the Department of Information booklet for migrants are much lower than even the pro-war prices will the Minister for Immigration, who is also Minister ‘ for Information, say on what he bases his reasoning that Australian costs are likely to decline soon below pre-war levels? How can the Minister reconcile this estimate with the move to increase wages to meet rising prices?
– The Minister is not required to reconcile anything. That part of the honorable gentleman’s question raises debatable matter, but the rest of the question is in order.
– The information in the booklet was compiled by officers of. my department in October last. Check investigations made in Melbourne and Sydney yesterday show that many of the. items mentioned are still sold at prices ruling when the booklet was compiled.
– Where can I get a hat?
– There is no doubt that the whole position in regard to the booklet has been grossly misrepresented. If the honorable member for Fawkner and other people like him care to pay five guineas for a hat, it does not follow that the worker has to.
Mi-. WILLIAMS,- Will the Minister’ for Immigration inform me whether the booklet Australia and Your Future stated that the wife and other members of the family of a basic-wage earner could be “ -adequately clothed “ for a specified weekly .allowance, as quoted by the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) this week?
– The booklet did noi. contain that statement. After the honorable member for Darwin had asked her question, I referred again to the booklet and found that she had misquoted a passage. There was absolutely no reference in the booklet to “ adequately clothing “ any one. The word “ adequate “ was never used. This misquotation was naturally seized upon by the press in reporting the matter and in editorial comments. The reference to weekly and yearly amounts for clothing was meant merely as a statement of the- proportion for clothing which ;i man might have allocated for his wife’s living on the basic wage, plus 15s. a week child endowment for the two children in the family. The phrase “ adequately clothed “ does not appear anywhere in the booklet, but accuracy or fact never appeals to certain members of the Liberal party or certain leader writers in newspaper offices.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The Minister for Immigration has accused me of having made an untrue statement.
– Hear, hear !
– The honorable gentleman has said that the word “ adequate “ does not appear in the booklet in the connexion in which- 1 used it;
– That is right.
– Up to that point, the honorable member’s statement is correct. But I shall read to the House the paragraphs referred to, and shall show that the whole basis of the booklet is a description of the conditions under which people live in Australia.
– Order ! If the honorable member has been misrepresented, she is entitled to correct the misrepresentation, but not to make a speech.
– I correct it by saying that the basic wage has been regarded, and has been represented to the world-
– I rise to a point of order. I assume that the personal explanation of the honorable member must deal with that portion of the reply by the Minister in which the honorable member claims to have been misrepresented. . Unless the explanation contains some reference to such misrepresentation, is not the honorable member out of order?
– The conditions governing the making of a personal explanation are, I should think, perfectly clear. At times, I believe, advantage is taken by honorable members of this medium of addressing the House. If an honorable member considers that anything that has been said constitutes misrepresentation, that honorable member is entitled to make a personal explanation, but not toengage in a debate. In my opinion, the kernel of the Minister’s statement was that the word “ adequate “.does not appear in the booklet, but was used in the honorable member’s question. If the honorable member disputes that, and considersthat she has been misrepre-. sented, she may correct the misrepresentation ; but she may notengage in a debate on the basic wage.
-I based my question on these paragraphs in the booklet -
Taking the basic wage at £4 18s.6d. a week, and adding child endowment of 7s.6d. a week for each of two children, a married man on the basic wage (no matter how unskilled) with three children has a weekly income of £5 13s.6d. No income tax is payable on this wage by a man with a wife and three children. Based on 1940 living costs in a typical Australian city, the £5 13s. 6d. would providea budget somewhat like the following, which hasbeen compiled unofficially: -
N.B.- The total of £5 13s.6d. (including 15s. child endowment) quoted above is the lowest amount any working man, his wife and three children can receive as family income, and in examining this approximate budget, it should be remembered that average earnings of adult male workers are much higher than the basic wage. For instance on the most recent figures, the average wage of adult males in factories, computed at minimum award rates for a normal week’s work, was £5 19s. 8d. or £11s. 2d., more than the basic wage quoted above. With overtime earnings, and additional payments not covered by awards, the amount paid in wages and salaries to adult males in manufacturing industries averaged £6 15s. a week in 1943.
The allocation for clothes in the above minimum budget is based on a yearly allocation of £24 12 s.10d. for the husband, working out at 9s. 5d. per week; £12 8s. 2d. for the wife, or 4s.9d. per week: £9 18s. 4d. for a boy of ten and a half, or 3s.10d. per week; £8 19s. for a girl of seven, or 3s. 5d. per week; and £5 7s. 5d. for a boy of three and a half, or 2s.1d. per week.
Rentals vary considerably in different localities, but the sum set out above, £l 2s.. would provide a comfortable house for such a family, the assumption being that the husband would be the owner of sufficient furniture. The allocation of1s.6d. weekly for renewal of householdgoods allows for the replacement of blankets,” towels, sheets, tablecloths, &c. to last over a period of years.
I suggest that the Minister should supply, for the information of the public, a list of the places where such houses are available.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I emphasize that the term used in the third paragraph quoted by the honorable member is “ minimum budget “. There is no reference to “adequate”. This is the lowest budget upon which-
– I rise to a point of order. I understand that the Minister is making a personal explanation. That presupposes that he has been misrepresented. Yet he is dealing with an earlier statement by the honorable member for Darwin, who was obliged to make a personal explanation in order to correct misrepresentation by the Minister. Is the Minister in order in now traversing the original matter, seeing that he did not originally claim to have been misrepresented ?
– The Chair appreciates the difficulty of interpreting personal explanations. The statement or suggestion was made that a certain word appears in a booklet.. The Minister, in defence, denied that statement or suggestion. The honorable member for Darwin then made a personal explanation embodying much of the matter that appears in the booklet, but on balance did not, in my opinion, deal with the difference of opinion between her and the Minister, regarding the word “adequate”. Then the Minister, in a personal explanation, emphasized his earlier statement that the word” adequate “ does not appear in the booklet. My opinion is that there has been already adequate discussion on this matter, and there will be no more.
– Do you rule that I may not complete my personal explanation?
– I have ruled, in effect, that you are not entitled merely to repeat what you said before.
Mr. Calwell interjecting,
– Order ! The Minister is not going to put that over the Chair.He repeated almost exactly what he said before, and I am not going to’ allow personal explanations from one side and the. other to develop into a debate.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether agreement has been reached between the component parts of the British Commonwealth on the nationality of married women?
– Reference was made in the morning press to agreement between the component parts of the British Commonwealth on the nationality of married women. This Parliament recently passed an act establishing that women, British by birth or naturalization, living in Australia, shall not lose British nationality because of marriage to aliens. I received a cable yesterday indicating that a statement was to have been made in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon by the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs in the following terms : -
I am glad to inform the House that agreement has now been reached between the United Kingdom Government and the Governments of Canada, Australia, New. Zealand and South Africa as to the principles on which legislation governing the nationality of married women should be based. The principles accepted by the five governments are that laws should, in effect, provide that a British woman on marriage to a foreigner, whether she does or does not acquire his nationality under the law of his country, shall not lose her British nationality unless she takes active steps torenounce it: and that a. foreign woman on marriage to a British subject shall not automatically acquire British nationality, but shall have the right to apply for it. subject to the exercise by the Minister concerned of a discretion as to the grant or refusal of the application. It is contemplated that a conference of experts should be convened later in the year to examine various questions affecting nationality laws in several countries of the Commonwealth. This conference will afford an opportunity of considering detailed provisions required for effecting the change now agreed upon in the. laws relating to the nationality of married women.
Ex-prisoner of War: Confinement in Asylum.
– I feel greatly concerned at a letter which I have received from a former prisoner of war, aged 28 years, who normally resides in my electorate. He stated that he suffered an attack of malaria and was taken to Rosemount Military Hospital in Brisbane. After a short period there, he was transferred to the mental ward at the Brisbane General Hospital. According to his letter, which appears to have been written by a perfectly sane person,he was then sent to the mental asylum at Goodna, where he is being detained against his will and is not receiving any treatment for any mental disorder. I ask the Minister for Repatriation to inform me in what circumstances can a former prisoner of war be so certified and detained? What opportunity is given to him to apply for and obtain his release? ‘ In addition,’ what opportunities are afforded to those who are interested in his case to ascertain all the facts? This man suffered for several years as a prisoner of the Japanese. I have handed his -letter to the Minister, and should like to know whether he has received a reply from Brisbane on the subject. . If he has, what i.s the nature of the reply?
– Yesterday, the honorable member handed to me the letter which he received from this young .man in Brisbane. and I immediately asked my department to make inquiries. I expect to receive a reply to-day. I agree with the honorable member that this case appears to be very serious, but my department will do everything possible to assist this unfortunate young man. He was doubtless sent to tie hospital in his own interests, but as the honorable member stated, the letter which he wrote was that of a sane person. From a perusal of it, I’ could hardly believe that lie was suffering from a mental disorder. However, the department will do everything possible in his interests, and as soon as I receive the reply, I shall inform the honorable member.
Electoral Redistribution - commonwealth and state relations.
– After the Prime Minister and his Government have been returned to office following the coming elections, one of the first duties to bo undertaken will be the taking of a census in order to determine population figures and, incidentally, to correct discrepancies in electoral constituencies, during the war, the Commonwealth and the States have been working together with some degree of harmony under National Security Regulations which will cease to operate at the end of this year. Thereafter Commonwealth and State relations are likely to deteriorate. T ask the Prime Minister, therefore, whether he will take steps, after the census has been taken, to constitute a political or a non-political body for the purpose of trying to asceertain the real causes of dissatisfaction and tq im prove the relations of the Commonwealth and the States, either by the establishment of a new form of provincial governments, or otherwise, so that any disabilities may be rectified.
– It is hoped that the census will be taken at the end of June, 194.7, but some difficulties have arisen due to the lack of machines, and also the non-availability of technical officers to make necessary surveys. The Minister for the Interior has the matter in hand and, as recently as yesterday, held consul ta-ti ons in regard to it. He hopes to overcome the difficulties. A set procedure is laid down to provide for the redistribution of electoral boundaries. By the grace of the electors, I hope later to be able to give some attention to the remainder of the honorable gentleman’s question.
Supp lies -fob the United Kingdom.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture tell the House why the’ Danish Government has been able to secure much higher pi-ices from the United Kingdom Labour Government for butter and other dairy products than the Commonwealth Government has been able to secure for the Australian dairy-farmers?
– You old humbug!
– Order ! It is quite improper for the Minister for Immigration to hurl such epithets across the chamber, and I ask him to withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw it.
– The matter referred to by the right honorable member for Cowper must be determined by the United Kingdom Government. As . all honorable members know, foodstuffs are are in very short supply in Great Britain and it is -necessary for the United Kingdom Government to do everything possible to secure additional supplies. Denmark is one source from which these may be obtained. I realize the difficulties confronting the United KingdomGovernment, and I will not be a party to attempting to bludgeon from it higher prices for dairy products than are really desirable in the interests of the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom.
– Will theMinister state whether it is a fact that the Danish Government and Danish dairy-farmers have always been able to sell at a substantial premium the butter manufactured in that country and exported to Great Britain, compared with that manufactured in and sent from either Australia or New Zealand, even during the term of office of the right honorable member for Cowper?
-It is a fact, and no one knows that better than does the right honorable member for Cowper.
Sale of Duplicate Partsfor Bren Gun Carriers
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping arrange with the Commonwealth Disposals Commission to make available to primary producers who have purchased Bren gun carriers, duplicate parts which at present are being sold in bulk? I have received a letter from a primary producer, in which he points out that, at a disposals sale recently, cases of track pins were sold in bulk at 5s. a case, and that he would have been willing to pay £5 for. a case of them.
– I shall obtain a reply for the honorable member from the Minister for Supply and Shipping.
Mr. DEDMAN (Corio- Minister for
Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research). - by leave - AsI indicated previously to honorable members, it is the aim of the Government to provide scientific and technical information to the industries of this country to enable production to reach and maintain that degree of efficiency necessary to meet overseas competition on home markets and abroad. Through the agency of Australian scientific and technical missions in Germany and Japan, acting in concert; with similar Empire and allied missions, valuable scientific and technical information is now flowing from abroad into Australia through the office of the Secondary Industries Division of my department.
An efficient organization has been set up, and with valuable assistance rendered by scientific and technical personnel from Australian industry, reports received from Germany and Japan, already numbering several thousand, are being abstracted, printed and distributed for general industrial use through the medium of such bodies as universities, technical colleges, public libraries, and chambers of manufactures, and direct to those industries likely to be concerned with the reports. Already much favorable comment has been made on the reports presented by my department, and it is my pleasure to place in the library of the Parliament copies of the reports already printed and circulated, so that honorable members may see for themselves the kind of service to Australian industry which the Government is pleased to render. As additional reports come to hand they also will be made available. I take this opportunity to express the thanks of the Government to the scientific and technical personnel from Australian industry who. in an honorary capacity, and at great personal inconvenience, are rendering such able assistance in the presentation of this information to the industry of this country.
Land Settlement of ex-Servicemen.
– by leave - I desire to make a short reply to a question asked yesterday by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. A. J.Fraser) relating to single-unit farms. The soldier settlement scheme agreed upon by the Slates and the Commonwealth provides that the States shall submit properties suitable for soldier settlement to the Commonwealth for approval. There is nothing in the agreement to prevent a State from submitting single unit-farms . and, indeed, a number of those submitted by the Government of Western Australia have been approved. The Commonwealth
Government, however, insists that all eligible soldier applicants shall have the right to apply for single-unit farms.
There has been no controversy about single-unit farms except in New South Wales. Under the New South Wales War Service Land Settlement and Closer Settlement (Amendment) Act 1946, the State authority has no power to initiate settlement proposals unless the property concerned is capable of subdivision.’ Whether this act should be amended is a matter entirely for the State. Nothing in. the agreement with the Commonwealth prevents the State from making advances under its own act.
I have not received any representations from Federal or State officers of exservicemen’s organizations asking for any alterations to the War Service Land Settlement Agreements Act 1945. On the contrary, at a deputation from the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia representative of all States, which . I received . here in Canberra on the 30th May, I was assured that the Common wealth Governmeat’s policy in relation to single-unit, farms had the complete and unqualified endorsement of that organization.
– I ask that any fur ther questions be placed on the noticepaper.
– I rise to a point of order. When the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) was given permission to make a personal explanation, I had received a call to ask a question. Am I now, by the action of the Prime Minister, to be denied the opportunity to ask that question?
– It is true that I had called the honorable . member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) just before the honorable member for Darwin made her personal explanation. It is not the fault of the Chair if the Prime Minister intervenes to prevent the asking of further questions without notice. The honorable member for Barker is in the same position as if he bad been prepared to make a speech when a motion “that the question be put” was carried. He would simply have had to tear up the notes of his speech.
Bill presented by Mr. Ward, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Since the first railway was built in Australia, in 1854, the growth of Australian railways has not progressed according to any national plan, and State boundaries have accentuated thedifficulties arising out of the absence of any national railway policy. In Australia to-day we have 6,114 miles of 5 ft. 3 in. gauge, 7,300 miles of 4 ft.8½ in. gauge, and 13,649 miles of 3 ft. 6 in. gauge railways. The difficulties of interstate rail transport have been apparent for many years, but the war brought home to us very forcibly the necessity for a. stock-taking, and the need for planning future railway development, particularly to meet defence requirements. Accordingly, the Government instructed Sir Harold Clapp, who was then Director-General of Land Transport, to prepare a report on the subject, and, as this report has already been presented to Parliament, I do not. propose to repeat now the many reasons contained therein for proceeding with this great national project. It is sufficient for me to say that the report has been widely accepted as one of the most complete and comprehensive statements ever made on this important subject.
As the argument has been frequently advanced in recent years that railways are an obsolete means of transportation, it may be appropriate at this stage to direct attention to the important role played by railways during the recent war, not only in Australia, but also in other parts of the world. In the United States of America, 97 per cent. of all troops, 93 per cent. of all army equipment, and 90 per cent. of navy equipment and supplies were transported by rail. The actual figures are astronomical, and include 39,200,000 passenger journeys on special troop trains, and 737,600,000,000 ton-miles of defence freight traffic. In Britain, the figures show that, in. 1944, oi er 3-2,000 freight trains were used exclusively for war purposes, in addition to 160,000 freight trains to meet other requirements. On special occasions, such as “ D “ Day, 17,500 special troop and freight trains were run. In all, 3,200 steam and diesel locomotives and 50,000 freight cars were landed in Europe. It is interesting to note that the Soviet built about 20,000 miles of railway 1 tracks during the war, and that on the German-Russian front Germany converted 12,000 miles of 5 ft. gauge to 4 ft. Si in., and Russia, following the advance of its forces, re-converted the’ 4 ft. 8-i in. gauge lines to 5 ft., and also changed a total of 18.000 miles of additional lines to the 5 ft. gauge.
It is clear, from the lessons of war that, despite the development of other forms of transport, the. railways were the backbone of the transport organization of every participating nation. In Australia, we suffered a serious handicap in the transport of men and war materials hecause there are fifteen break-of -gauge points in our railway system. This diffi’culty was overcome to some extent by locating army service, ordnance, ammunition, engineers’ stores, Air Force and other depots, at or near the point where the varying gauges met. However, the loss in time and in man-power in the transport of stores and equipment was considerable. Some indication of the very serious position which arose in 1943 may be gained from a message sent to the Minister for the Army by the Quartermaster-General, who had been in conference with other .authorities regarding the hold-up of army equipment. His message included the following words: -
Independent of any action by the Transport Board, Now- South Wales and Victorian Bailways obliged refuse all loading to relieve what is now complete blockage due to endeavour force through terminals and transhipping stations more than they can absorb in any circumstances.
In a later part of the message, he said -
To help in present emergency have deferred movement approximately two . Army trains each way per day into Brisbane.
It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that the Minister for the Army, in response to a request for an opinion by Sir Harold Clapp, stated in regard to the proposal to standardize the railway gauges- . ,
The defence aspect of this problem is of vital importance, if indeed it does not of itself present a real justification for an undertaking of such magnitude in the field of post-war construction.
I propose now to deal with the argument that from a defence viewpoint railways are vulnerable to bombing -attacks. It should be pointed out in this connexion that all transport facilities are similarly subject to this danger, but it is interesting to note that the .British railways, despite 13,800 bombing attacks and the destruction or damage of 482 locomotives, 13,000 passenger cars, and 16,000 freight waggons, continued to function- throughout the war. There were, of course, many delays to traffic, but they were mostly of short duration and usually did not extend beyond a fewhours. Since the advent .of the atomic bomb, some attention has been given to the dangers to railway traffic from this source, but in this connexion I point out that iri the raid on Hiroshima.it was found that the railways suffered less than any other public utility, and w,ere again operating 4S hours after the explosion.
One of the most important aspects of standardization of railways is that it. will permit the standardization of trucks, locomotives, and other railway equipment. In this way, in the event of a national emergency, the whole resources of the railway system could be marshalled for effective use. During the war it was found that the rolling-stock necessary quickly to transport troops required in Western Australia was not available in that State. Had the railway system been uniform, it would have been possible to relieve this situation by the diversion of rolling-stock from the eastern States. Great difficulty was also experienced in Queensland owing to the lack of sufficient locomotives and rolling-stock to handle the immense quantity of equipment required for the northern operations. Schemes were hurriedly adopted with a view to minimizing these difficulties, but the delay which frequently occurred may well have brought about national disaster. With the completion of the standardization of railways, a division nf troops could be moved in approximately onethird of the time taken under present conditions. From a defence angle, railway transport has the advantage of operating entirely on fuels locally produced, whereas any interruption of fuel supplies from overseas would completely cripple other forms of transport.
The report of the Defence Committee contains the following summary of the relation of standardized railways to defence requirements : -
In war, there are two main factors regarding railway traffic: -
The disabilities imposed by nonstandardization fall under three headings -
The need to transfer from one system to another imposes delay and, for example,in the case of large airframes, may even prohibit movement by rail because multi-handling of bulky fragile stores is bound to result in unacceptable damage. On the average, this delay amounts to one hour for passengers and one day for goods at each transfer station. Where large-scale military movements are involved, those delays can be serious.
Transfer stations entail additional staff and equipment. The staff used for transferring goods during the recent warhas amounted at times to 2,000 men. Extensive sidings and other equipment have been provided; some of these will remain throughout peace-time, but in the event of another war, others would have to be re-established.
Of more significance is the duplication of service installations imposed by breaks of gauge, and the vulnerability of the transfer stations which require special defence precautions.
Breaks in gauge make for uneconomical use of locomotives, waggons and man-power. Late running of trains aggravates this waste.
At transfer stations, goods are exposed to damage and pilferage.
It is rarely possible to transfer directly the whole load of a railway waggon to a waggon of an adjacent system of different gauge. This is due to the differences in the dimensions and the carrying capacities of waggons. Furthermore, there is often a difference in the power of locomotives, leading to variations in the load that can be hauled.
Thesedisabilities are of great significance where military traffic is concerned, because they rule out the use of pack trains, i.e., military trains of standard composition, which . is the normal method of military supply by rail. Furthermore, services’ consignments are liable to be separated at. transfer stations, e.g., goods loaded together in Melbourne for Cairns, and possibly for shipment overseas, may arrive not only in different waggons, but in different trains, and part may miss the ship. The preparation of documents for such split consignments is complicated and laborious.
With non-standardization, there can be no common pool of locomotives and rolling-stock from which to meet emergencies. This inflexibility is serious,as in war there is a greatly increased demand reaching peaks in different areas at various times.
The population from which the bulk of
Australian militia forces must be drawn will be located in peace in the areas of densest population. These areas are mostly far removed from the parts most exposed to enemy action. Should, therefore, Australia be threatened with invasion, considerable movement of troops and material will be necessary over long distances, and these movements may necessarily be concurrent. For example, presuming that the permanent forces have moved to their war stations at an earlier stage, strategic concentration might involve the movement of major formations from the south-east to the west and to the north.
A Comparison in Time. recent computation of the times taken to move troops by rail over long distances shows that, with standardization, the time required for themovement of a major formation is approximately one-third of that required under existing conditions.
Effect of Partial Standardization on Pool of Rolling-stock. .
Some improvement over present conditions would result if only the “ military trunk routes” were converted to standard gauge, but to provide, say, sixteen trains a day over great distances for appreciable periods, considerable resources of locomotives and rollingstock are needed, and it is unlikely that such resources would exist if standardization were restricted to the military trunk routes.
Standardization of lines other than the military trunk routes would be of direct benefit by providing a pool of standard locomotives and rolling-stock for emergency movements on a large scale, by enabling the development of substitute routes in the event of loss of the main routes by enemy action, and by facilitating the deployment of the forces.
Standardization, resulting in the’ increased speed of movement, may prove an’ important factor in the defence of Australia.
After a full examination of the facts, the Commonwealth Government has come to the conclusion that the standardization and modernization of our railway systems is an essential defence work. Whilst the project is advanced by the Commonwealth primarily as being necessary for .defence purposes, it cannot be overlooked that the economic gains resultant from the adoption of uniformity in gauges and railway equipment, would be tremendous. One of the essential features of transport is that its charges must -be kept as low as. possible, and in this respect railway traffic has definite advantages over others, with the exception of sea transport. Each form of transport, whether it be by rail, air, road or sea, has. its place in the nation’s economy, and it is hoped that the Australian Transport Advisory Council will exercise due influence in developing each form, in its proper sphere. The State Ministers for Transport have indicated, their whole-hearted co-operation with, the Commonwealth in the achievement of this objective, and it is hoped that the plans, now being prepared will lead to a better utilization of the various forms of transport ‘ and so end “ cutthroat “ competition.
Standardization of railways, coupled with modernization, will enable the number of types of locomotives, passenger rolling stock and goods vehicles, to be reduced considerably. We now have 143 types of locomotives, 456 types of passenger vehicles, and 766 types of goods cars. It will be readily appreciated that’ by producing fewer types of modern locomotives and rolling-stock, it would be possible to develop mass-production which would lead to considerable economy in production and maintenance.
Advantages to defence and civilian traffic may be briefly summarized as’ follows : - Standardization will obviate the necessity for changing trains at present break-of-gauge points, thus eliminating delay in the transfer of passengers and goods, as well as the labour involved therein ; and enable rolling stock to be used on all lines, which would : - (1.) allow of the most economical use of the available rolling stock, by using it for through journeys, thus avoiding congestion, and sometimes empty back-running from break-of-gauge points. (2.) Facilitate repair and replacement, since all railway workshops, foundries, &c. in thiseveral States would use standard parts. Repair and replacement of rolling stock would bt speedier, cheaper, and less liable to interruption by enemy, attack, owing to the wide dispersal of the workshops. (3.) Facilitate the marshalling of trains for strategic and tactical moves, as a result of the interchangeability of rolling stock. (4.) Allow of the employment of standard trains in all States for service purposes, thus facilitat-ing staff work and administration generally.
Sir Harold Clapp’s report on standardization was presented to the Government in March, 1945, and steps were taken immediately to open negotiations with the
State governments to ascertain their views on the subject. After a Conference of Transport Ministers in May. 1945j the Conference of Commonwealth and’ State Ministers in August of the same year, resolved, inter alia -
That the- conference declares that the work . of standardizing Australia’s railway gauges- ‘ should be proceeded with as being essential to national defence and development.
The matter was again submitted to the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in January, 1946, when it was decided that the Commonwealth would bear half of the cost of the work, and that the mainland States would share the remainder on a per capita basis. Negotiations .with the States were continued in order to work out the details of an agreement. Whilst a great deal of progress was made, the negotiations finally broke down because of the objections to certain sections of the proposals by representatives, of Queensland and Western Australia. At a conference of the Commonwealth and State Transport Ministers in May this ye’ar, when it was’ apparent that no further progress could be made towards the completion of an agreement to include all the States, I announced that I would recommend to the Commonwealth
Government that negotiations should continue with the States prepared to cooperate. Having obtained the approval of the Commonwealth Government to this recommendation, I proceeded to confer with the Premiers of Victoria and South Australia on the conversion of their railway system to the 4-ft. 8-i-in. gauge. Agreement was reached on all points, and the proposals were then submitted to the New South Wales Government. That Government, which has throughout the negotiations been most co-operative, agreed to the draft plan, including payment of its share on a ‘ ‘per capita basis of half of the cost involved in standardizing the railway gauges of Victoria and South Australia and the Broken Hill-Cockburn line . in New South Wales, and in the construction of a new line from Bourke to Barringun. This general agreement between the Commonwealth and the three States mentioned was- the subject of further .detailed discussion, which resulted in the agreement now before the Parliament.
It is to be regretted that Queens- land and Western Australia are riot included in this plan, and it should be made clear that that is not the fault of the Commonwealth. The door is still open for further negotiations with both States, and it is hoped that they will recognize before long the necessity for, and the advantages of, the adoption of a standard gauge. . In the meantime, in the case of Western Australia, the survey of the Kalgoorlie-Fremantle line, which was commenced some time ago as a result of financial assistance afforded by the Commonwealth, will not be interrupted.
The scheme of administration provided by the agreement is that the general control and supervision’ of the work will be entrusted to a board consisting of a directorgeneral, a director of mechanical engineering, a director of civil engineering, a director of transportation, and a director of finance. The board and each member will act in the closest collaboration with the State railway authorities, who will carry out, on behalf of the Commonwealth, the work on projects to be approved by the board in accordance with the agreement. To obviate any undue delay arising from, differences of opinion between the States, and between the States and the board, provision is made for a railways council consisting of the Commonwealth Minister for Transport, the Minister administering the Commonwealth Railways, the Minister for Transport, New South Wales, the Minister for Transport, Victoria, and .the Minister for Railways, South Australia. It will be observed that provision is made that any question arising as to the order in which the standardization works are to be carried out shall be determined by agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. The general procedure will provide that the States shall requisition the Commonwealth for authority to proceed with certain works to a specified amount, and if such works and the amount applied for are reasonable and in accordance with the agreement, a project order will be issued and the necessary finance will be made available. A further provision to ensure that standard plans and designs shall be established is contained in the agreement, and in such eases the States and- the Commonwealth collectively will determine such standards. In brief, the agreement is framed on the broad basis of full co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States and on the maximum degree of collaboration between the experts of the Commonwealth and the States to ensure that everything essential to the establishment of standard-gauge railways and to their safe and efficient operation shall be accomplished.
Regarding the financing of the profit, the early negotiations disclosed that the States, whilst appreciating the necessity for standardizing railway gauges, were reluctant to accept the responsibility for providing funds for a project which was primarily designed to meet defence needs, a ‘though its economic advantages were fully recognized. It should be understood that in this agreement the basis of finance agreed upon at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in January, 1946, has beer maintained, and-the States of New South Wales,’ Victoria and South Australia have not sought any material departure from it. At no stage was it argued by the Commonwealth that the standardization of railway gauges would be pressed to the detriment of other great national works, such as housing, and water conservation, to which expenditure the States are already committed. Consequently, the Commonwealth agreed to an arrangement to finance the undertaking which would minimize the burden on the States - particularly in the early years. It should be realized, moreover, that the States had already determined upon large programmes of railway rehabilitation works, and these may now be put in hand with a full knowledge that the funds for standardization will be available and thus enable all the work to be co-ordinated, and thereby the maximum advantage to the nation will be achieved.
The principal features of the financial provisions are as follows : -
The railway officers, both Commonwealthand State have a very heavy responsibility to undertake in carrying out the projects set out in the agreement. They have earned our appreciation of their splendid war effort, and we look to them again to prove that this great task is not beyond them. I commend the bill to the House, and trust that the
Parliaments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia will not delay in passing complementary legislation to ratify the agreement, so that immediate steps may be taken to commence this great national work, which means so much to the future welfare, safety and prosperity of Australia and its people.
Debate (on motionby Mr. Harrison) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 1st August (vide page 3594).
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 - ( 1. ) A member of the board shall not exercise, and shall forthwith relinquish, any power or authority vested in him (otherwise than by or under this Act or the State Act) by reason of which he may influence the management or control of any coal-mine or any company owning or controlling a. coal-mine or engaged in the handling or distribution of coal. (2.) If a. member of the board is a shareholder in any such company, he shall not as such exercise any vote.
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), after the words “distribution of coal” the following words be added: - “or any union, association or organization of employers or employees engaged in the coal industry “.
Later, I shall move -
That, in sub-clause (2.), after the word “company” the following words be inserted: - “or a member of any such union, association or organization of employers or employees”.
This clause prescribes the conditions governing the appointment of members of the Joint Coal Board. In my opinion, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) should make it perfectly clear that no member or officer of a union or employers’ organization shall be appointed to the board. Doubtless, the Minister will contend that the Government does not propose to appoint any such person at present; but when an appointment is made in the future, the appointee should not hold a controlling interest in any organization of employers or employees. Whilst I do not desire to appear to be unduly suspicious of the Government’s intentions, we had an indication lastnight on clause 4 that the Government seeks power to control the whole range of industries utilizing the derivatives and by-products of coal, including textiles, clothing, medicines, explosives, dyes, and plastics. The amendment will place the issue beyond all reasonable doubt.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has made it perfectly clear that the board shall be an independent authority. In view of that assurance, I do not consider that it is necessary to amend the clause in a manner that may circumscribe or limit the Government’s choice of members of the board.
– The reason given by the Minister for the Government’srefusal to accept the amendment was an extraordinary statement. The honorable gentleman said that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) is determined that the board shall be an independent authority. What the Minister did not say was that Prime Ministers do not live for ever. The present Prime Minister might die, alter his mind, or be instructed by caucus to alter his mind as the result of pressure exerted by the miners federation or some other outside organization.
– After the forthcoming elections, he might not be Prime Minister.
– Of course I believed that the Minister would be glad to accept the amendment, because after the elections, the Labour party would fear that the incoming government would swamp the Joint Coal Board with persons unacceptable to it. The Government has not attempted to make of this a balanced clause. For example, any person associated with the management or control of any coal-mine or any company owning or controlling a coal-mine or engaged in the handling or distribution of coal shall not be eligible for appointment to the board, but other persons will not be disqualified by reason of the fact that they are members of industrial organizations. As Mr. Justice Davidson reported, the coal-mining industry has been brought to the verge of ruin by the leading officials of the miners federation. The president of the organization, Mr. Wells, is a Communist, but neither he nor any other member of the union will be disqualified from appointment to the Joint Coal Board. In the interests of justice, the representation on this board should be equal. As the clause is now drafted, the representation may be one-sided and the board may be an ill-balanced body. Representatives of the miners federation have followed this debate intently, and the newspapers this morning reported that attempts had been made to exert pressure on the Prime Minister to amend the bill in a certain manner. Repeatedly, the Prime Minister has wilted under pressure. If the Government will accept this amendment, it will be able to resist that kind of pressure.
Amendment (by Mr. Harrison) negatived -
That, in sub-clause (2.), after, the word “ company “, the following words be inserted: - “ or a member of any such union, association or organization of employers or employees “.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 7 to 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act-
Where under the CoalProduction (War-time) Act 1944 the Commissioner has . . . made any order, or requirement, given any direction, or taken any action and that order, requirement, direction or action is subsisting or in course immediately prior to the coming into operation of this section, that order, requirement, direction or action shall, until amended, revoked or terminated by the Board, continue to be subsisting or in course as if made, . given or taken by the Board.
Any right, power, obligation or liability conferred or imposed on the Commissioner by the Coal Production (War-time) Act l944 . . . shall, to the extent to which the right power, obligation or liability is affected by section nine of this Act, be deemed tobe vested in or imposed upon the Board.
Any . . . reference to that Commissioner or other authority shall be deemed to be a reference to the Board.
Any privilege or immunity conferred upon any person under the Coal Production (War-time) Act 1944 . . shall, where the power of the Commissioner to take that action is terminated by section nine of this Act, continue for the period during which the effect of such action operates.
Amendment (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to -
That; in paragraph (a) the words “until amended, revoked or terminated by the Board, continue to be subsisting or in course” be left out. with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “have effect”.
Amendment (by Mr. Dedman) proposed -
That, in paragraph (b), the word “nine” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ ten “.
– I ask the Minister to explain the reason for this amendment, and the others that he proposes to move to the clause. The honorable gentleman will get his bill earlier if he gives adequate information to the committee.
.- This amendment, and the others that I shall move to the clause, are necessary to rectifywrong cross references in other parts of the bill.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause further verbally and conse-. quentially amended and, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 12 (Vesting of powers in board).
– This is an important clause, which is apparently intended to clothe the board with certain powers and functions to ensure that coal shall be produced in such quantities and with such regularity as will meet the requirements of Australia and other countries. For the edification and information of the committee, I ask the Minister to point to any expression in the clause which will vest specific powers in the board. Will he tell us what may be done and what may not be done under the clause, and how is it proposed to ensure that coal will be produced and that coal-miners will be disciplined?
– The power to which the right honorable gentleman has referred is provided in paragraph k, subclause 2 of clause 13.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 13- (1.) The powers and functions of the Board are to include the taking of such action as, in the opinion of the Board is necessary or desirable -
– The Opposition will oppose this clause with all the power that it possesses. I invite honorable gentlemen to consider the all-embracing language that has been employed by the draftsman in order to clothe the board with complete power. It would appear as though the dictionary had been carefully examined in order to include in the clause every word that could possibly vest additional power in the. board, and, on top of all that, a blanket provision is also inserted. The clause provides, in short, that the board’s powers and functions shall include the taking of such action as it considers necessary or desirable to ensure that coal shall be produced in the State for the requirements of Australia and for trade with other countries, that the coal resources of the State shall be. conserved, developed, and used to the best advantage of the public, that coal shall be distributed and used as specified, and that the welfare of the workers engaged in the industry shall he promoted. In particular the board is to have power to make provision for and in respect of the working and getting of coal, including the introduction and operation of sound mining principles and practices, methods of storage and haulage, the regulation of output, the conservation of coal, the development of any coal-mine, the introduction, modification, replacement and operation of plant and equipment, the classification and grading of coal, its economic distribution and its efficient and economical use, the development of uses and markets for it, the recovery of its by-products, the regulation of prices for sale, the health and safety of persons engaged in the industry, the establishment of sound industrial welfare practices, collaboration with other persons and authorities, the regulation, recruitment, training, efficiency and competency of persons engaged in the industry, the publication of. reports, and anything incidental to any of the foregoing matters. The clause occupies nearly three pages of the bill.. In short, it provides for the complete nationalization of the industry. No provision is made, however, for the Government, which will be in control of the industry, to pay the wages of the men, or the cost of developing the mines or installing mechanical equipment, nor is provision made to ensure that the mine-owners shall be assured of reasonable profits on their investment.
– That is what the honorable gentleman is interested in.
– I suggest to the Minister that a person who has invested his life-savings in a coal-mine is entitled to some consideration. The Minister is fond of referring to the “great coal octopus”, but he should bear in mind that these enterprises belong, in the main, to a large number of small shareholders. Recently, the honorable gentleman referred, in scathing terms, to persons whom he described as “little capitalists” who, he said, should not be allowed to own their own home. He is now saying, on behalf of the Government, that small investors who put their savings into enterprises of this kind shall have the privilege of ensuring that wages are paid to the workers, but shall not , be entitled, by statute, to reasonable returns on their investments.. He is saying, in effect, “ You may use your money to develop the coal-mines, to install machinery, and to meet all necessary charges in connexion with the industry, but you shall not be allowed any compensation if the Government should’ take over the mine in which you have invested your money, and you shall not be entitled to a reasonableprofit from the operation of the industry “. There is no provision whereby an investor will be enabled to obtain a reasonable profit. But every effort will be made by the Government to ensure such astate of inefficiency and so great a loss of production, that the mines will not be worth the money subscribed by the shareholders. The Government will then be in the happy position of being able to take over the industry without the payment of any compensation to the owners or shareholders, compared with what would have to be paid at the present time, with the mines working efficiently.. I give to the Minister an opportunity to avoid doing this grave injustice to small shareholders who have invested their life’s savings in coalmining ventures, and to the owners generally, by moving -
That, in sub-clause (1.), after paragraph (d), the following paragraph be added: - “(e) to ensure to owners engaged in the coal industry a fair profit on capital invested, and, for this purpose, where necessary, to pay bounties on coal produced, to make grants and to pay subsidies “.
Such an approach can reasonably be expected from a government that proposes to take control of this industry. This clause is the kernel of the bill. It gives to the Minister the power to take control of the coal industry, and of every other industry that may arise out of the derivatives or by-products of coal. As the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) stated last night, there are. 150 by-products and derivatives, including clothing, explosives, dyes, chemical’s, plastics and fertilizers. An industry entirely new to Australia may be established here, and command considerable public support. These provisions represent the complete socialization of industries, and we shall oppose them with all our might. We realize, of course, that we have as much chance of securing in this chamber sufficient support to have our wishes translated into law, as we have of witnessing a miracle; but that will not deter us. If, by the use of steam-roller tactics, the Government intends to have these provisions enacted, and eventually to take over the coal-mines, it should not first ruin the industry, but should at least give to those whose money is invested in it and who have done a good job for this country in a time of crisis the opportunity to obtain a fair return. The Minister should have the clause redrafted so that it will not. inspire fear. Failing that, he should do the decent and honest thing by those who have ventured their all in this great industry.
.- The provisions which the honorable member for 1 Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) proposes to substitute for those which the bill now contains could have been taken word for word from the National Socialist code of Hitler-Germany, because by their means the whole of the resources of the State could be used to guarantee the payment of dividends upon investments in a particular industry. That is why Hitler was so wholeheartedly supported by the big industrial magnates of Germany. He assumed control of industries which had become uneconomic because of the difficult political, economic and social conditions in Germany after, the last war and during the period of the depression, in order that the considerable sums invested in them might be protected. Such pro-‘ visions would not be accepted in democratic Australia.
.- The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Breen) either pretended to misunderstand, or has misrepresented, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), whose proposal cannot be related to Hitler’s code. It should be observed that under the Constitution the Government cannot acquire property except upon just terms. Any person whose property has been acquired may have recourse to the courts for protection. I say advisedly that under the provisions of this clause the Government could avoid the payment of compensation to any one whose property had been, not acquired, but controlled. The power of control given by the clause is so plenary and wide as to exclude for all purposes any real ownership by those who now have the conduct of the coal mines. I draw attention to this matter, because upon it I made some remarks at the second-reading stage. The bill as originally drafted, and before a portion was removed from it, provided, as does the Coal Production (War-time) Act 1944, that in the event of disagreement a person could obtain compensation from the Government through any court of competent jurisdiction if a mine were controlled as distinct from being acquired. I emphasize again that no provision for compensation is needed in respect pf a mine that has been acquired, because the matter is covered by the Constitution; but when a mine is controlled, and the powers in relation to the control are such as completely to exclude the owner and the shareholders from effective control of its operations, there is no provision for compensation. I ask the Minister two plain questions. The first is this : In the event of the power of the board being exercised, as it may be under this provision, so as to control a mine in exactly the same way as it was intended that, the Government should ‘ be able to exercise control under clause 19 of the bill as originally drafted, is it intended that compensation shall be paid? The second question is: If it be intended that compensation shall be paid, why is there no provision in the bill making that payment obligatory? Surely those questions are simple enough ! I , point out that under clause 13 (2) («), most complete .control is taken over coal, not only in the sense in which that word L? ordinarily used, but also as the term is expanded by the definition clause. Power is given to regulate prices and profits, but no provision is made for appeals. Some person in the office, of the board will tell this or that person, “ These are your prices and profits “, and there will be no appeal ‘ from that decision. I understood that this Government had talked about the removal of controls. Here 13 an epic example’ of the imposition of controls to an even greater degree than existed during the war. But the matter does not rest there. Let us turn to paragraph / of sub-clause 3, which provides that the board shall have authority to “ assume control of the management and operation of any coal mine”; and to paragraph which pro- vides that the board shall have authority “ to terminate, suspend, vary or modify any contract or agreement relating to or affecting the production, supply or distribution of coal, including sale, transportation by land, or sea, loading, discharge, delivery, storage and use “ of coal. Under this clause, power is given to the board to interfere with contracts, and that may result in substantial loss to the parties to the contracts. There is no provision for the appointment of a tribunal to fix compensation, or to hear appeals from a decision- of the board. I notice, however, that a different view is adopted when dealing with the rights of employees; because, under paragraph k, if a’ person be suspended or excluded from employment in. the coal industry, he is to have the right of appeal;, and rightly so. Why are people whose money is invested, many of them small shareholders, to be given no right of appeal? Why is the ordinary person - for example, a small business man whose contract in relation to coal is interfered with under paragraph j - to have no right of appeal? As a lawyer, I regard this as a lamentably drafted bill. It has been prepared in a slovenly fashion, and has no regard for the rights and interests of the people of this country. Nowhere in it is there any right to compensation, no matter to what degree the interests of people may be interfered with. It is about time more attention was paid to the drafting of the bills that are brought to this Parliament. I want to hear the views of the Government upon these simple . questions : Under this clause, cannot the Government, as I have alleged, do anything in respect of the industry, including the control of any mine or interference with any contract? I speak in the widest terms. If that be so, does not the Government realize . that people . may suffer such damage as even to ruin them through the exercise of powers that may be necessary in the interests of the country? Is it intended to pay such persons compensation, or to give them the right to apply to a tribunal for compensation? If that is the intention of- the Government, why not state it in the bill? I have heard the view expressed, and I know that it is held by some of the advisers of the Government, that there is a limited .legal significance in the constitutional provision requiring the payment of compensation for acquisition by the Commonwealth. According to this view, the effect of expropriation by the Commonwealth can be achieved by saying to the owner of the property, “You ‘-shall not run this business except on the conditions we lay down. You shall not enter into any contract except on the terms and conditions prescribed, and if you do enter into such contract, we have authority to set it. aside.” In this way, they argue, the Commonwealth can expropriate a person’s property without paying, any compensation at all. This is a matter which strikes at the very heart of constitutional government in a democracy. In both Australia and the United States of America, the constitutions provide that the Government may not take over any property without paying just compensation, and that if the person affected is dissatisfied with the compensation offered he may go to the courts of the land to have the matter determined. The bill as it will be passed by Parliament will not contain Part IV., the part which provides for the “ control of coal-mines “. Therefore, there will be’ no provision in the bill as it will be passed for the payment of’ one penny of compensation to persons whose property may be expropriated. I give that opinion in my capacity as a lawyer, something which I seldom do in this House, as I do not think that it is right. I see an officer in attendance on the Minister laughing. It too often happens that the advisers who sit behind the Government benches show by their demeanour and by their laughing what they think of arguments placed before the Parliament.
– I rise to a point of order. Is it permissible for an honorable member to attack officials who are in the chamber to advise Ministers, and who cannot defend themselves. I submit that it is unsporting and improper.
– The ‘ honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) is in order if he resents the behaviour of any person within the chamber.
– The conduct of the officer was most improper. If the .provisions of the Constitution are to evaded by the exercise of legal ingenuity-
– Is that not a reflection on the honorable member’s ownprofession?
– I say that it is being dene, no matter by whom. I main-‘ tain that the Commonwealth has nopower to enter into an agreement of the kind proposed. The Aluminium Industry Act is another example. Under that legislation the Commonwealth Government entered into an arrangement to make a grant to another government for the ‘ purpose that was never intended by the framers of the Constitution to come within the scope of Commonwealth activity. I rest on this contention: No man’s contract or property rights should be interfered with by the Commonwealth unless that man enjoys the right to obtain compensation.
– Have a look at clause 20.
– The Whip of the Labour party asks me to look at clause 20, but I remind him that clause 20 is in Part IV. of the bill, and that part is to be dropped. Clause 20, if it were to remain in the bill, would effectually protect the’ owner of. a mine which had been taken over, but, with the omission of Part IV. of the bill, no such provision exists. This is another example of the growing practice of employing legal stratagems to avoid the provisions of the Constitution.
Mr. DEDMAN (Corio- Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge oi? the Council fo’r Scientific and Industrial Research) [12.21 J. - I resent very much the remarks of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) about the officers who sit in the House to advise Ministers. Just because an officer happens to smile, the honorable member assumes that he is smiling at something which he himself has said. Surely the officers who are advising Ministers have ordinary human rights when in attendance in the chamber, and they are entitled to smile or to look grim as seems fit to them.
Last night, and to-day, the honorable member for Warringah talked more hot air than 1 have known any honorable member to use before. For a lawyer, he has a slatternly, sloven y, lazy mind. He said that a board of three should be set up. This bill provides for the setting up of a board of three. Evidently, the honor- . able member did not even take the trouble to read the bill. The Ilansard’ record will show clearly what he said. Now he says that no provision is made for the payment of compensation if a contract is terminated. ‘ I refer him to clause 57, which reads as follows: -
If any parson claims’ that he has sustained any loss or damage by reason of an exercise by the board of the power referred to in paragraph ‘(j) of sub-section (.3.) of section thirteen of this act, he may, within- three months after .the exercise of the power, lodge with the board a claim in writing setting out full particulars of the loss or damage and the question whether any and, if any, what amount, of compensation should, in all the circumstances of the case, be paid to that person shall be settled by agreement between him and the board, or, failing any such agreement, by an a-tion by . the owner against the board in any court of competent jurisdiction.
It is evident that the honorable member has not taken the trouble to read the bill, and in that case I am not going to waste time answering him further.
Mr. SPENDER (Warringah) [12.23 1. It is well that the Minister should have referred specifically to clause 57, because it emphasizes the very, point that I have made. It is a rule of law which happens to have stuck in even my slatternly, slovenly, lazy mind, that if an express provision is made to cover one specific matter, other matters are thereby excluded. Clause 57 provides that compensation may be payable to any person who has sustained loss or damage by reason of an exercise by the board of the power referred to in paragraph j of sub-clause 3 of clause 13. (Thus, the provision applies to matters referred to in that paragraph of clause 13, and to no others. I suggest to the Minister that he should have a good look at the bill himself, and try to find any provision in it imposing an obligation on the Commonwealth to pay compensation where the control of a mine is assumed by the Government. For instance, I asked him where provision is made to compensate an owner, the control of whose mine has been assumed under paragraph / of subclause 3 of clause 13.
– Having regard to the present attitude of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), member? of the Opposition are not likely to obtain much enlightenment on clause 13. It is the most unusual clause, which covers two and a quarter pages’ of the bill. Subclause 1, paragraph a of the clause reads like the resolve of a man on the morning after the night before. It is as follows : - lo provide, and to assist others to provide or obtain, advice, technical services, equipment, and other facilities and aids to efficiency and economy
Under the Constitution, the Parliament of New South Wales has complete power, in regard to the production of coal in New South Wales.- There is no need for the Government of New South Wales to come to the Commonwealth for any reinforcement of its powers, because all power not in the hands of the Commonwealth by virtue of the Constitution must necessarily reside with the Government of Vew South Wales.
– How about coal for the other States?
– It must be mined in New South Wales. There is nothing in the whole of the clause which cannot now be done by the Government of New South Wales if it is so minded. I should like to know whence the Commonwealth Government obtained power to regulate prices under paragraph g of subclause 2. I always understood that in peace-time the Commonwealth had no power to fix prices. The position in regard to this bill is much the same as it was in regard to the- Wheat Stabilization Bill. It is obvious that certain legislation complementary to this measure will have to be passed by. the Parliament of New South Wales, but this House is asked to pass this bill without seeing the New South Wales bill. Does New South Wales propose to surrender to the Commonwealth the necessary constitutional power to regulate prices in that State.
– That matter is to be referred to a board.
– If the power is to be exercised by a Commonwealth instrumentality, the Parliament of New South Wales must first refer the power to -.the Parliament of the Commonwealth. There is no other way’ in which it could be done.
– It will be exercised not by the Commonwealth but. by the board.
– The board may be the Commonwealth’s instrumentality. If the New South Wales
Government refers powers of any kind to the Commonwealth they should flow to the Commonwealth Parliament and not to a board established by the Commonwealth.
– The board is to be a joint control board.
– Tha t does not affect the issue. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) had something to say about paragraph j of sub-clause 3. The wording of that paragraph reminds me of Alice in Wonderland who, on being asked, “ What does it mean?”, replied, ““It means what I mean it to mean; no more and no less”. The paragraph provides that the board may terminate, suspend, vary or modify any contract or agreement relating to or affecting the production, supply or distribution of coal, including its sale, transportation .by land or sea, loading, discharge, delivery, storage and use. Under the powers to be vested by that paragraph, coal sent to South Australia for a specific purpose may be diverted by the board to another purpose. That provision will not assist in bringing about harmonious relations between New South Wales and the other States. Sub-clause 4 provides that the board is to have power at any time to rescind, terminate or vary any order, direction or requirement made or given by it. A wider power than that could not be imagined. The only other occasion I can remember such a power being given to any authority was when, under the National Security Regulations, the Director-General of Allied Works’ was vested with power to override the decisions and determinations of the Arbitration Court. I am not sure that the board could not do likewise under the power proposed to be conferred upon it.
– Could the DirectorGeneral of Allied Works have exercised such -a wide power except under the authority vested in him under the National Security Regulations?
– No, and’ that power was to be exercised solely to meet war emergencies. There seems to be no reason why such a wide power should be vested in a body which will operate in peace-time. The board’s powers should be vested in it by the Commonwealth Parliament and not by the parliament of a State. If power is derived from the State the only reservoir into which it should flow is the Commonwealth Parliament, which has legislative responsibilities for its utilization. Paragraph a of sub-clause 1 provides that the board is to ensure that coal is produced in New South Wales in such quantities and with such regularity as will meet requirements throughout Australia and in trade with other countries. However, no less a personage than the Prime Minister has said that even with the passage of this legislation we shall not have coal unless the miners produce it. Thus clause 13 is the real kernel of the bill. In present circumstances no industry in any part of the Commonwealth, including New South Wales, can be assured of obtaining sufficient quantities of coal. In this morning’s press it was announced that the Railways Commissioners of New South Wales propose to convert 100 freight locomotives to oil burning. We shall shortly have the Gilbertian situation in which oil-burning locomotives using fuel oil imported from California and Persia, will be hauling coal for use in other States or for export overseas. The policy adopted by the coalminers in New South Wales will drive industrialists in all parts of the Commonwealth to seek substitute fuels in order to keep the wheels of industry moving. There can be no doubt that in the future the demand for coal will lessen rather than increase. Mr. Justice Davidson showed clearly that if the miners were prepared to work a second shift the output of coal * could be doubled. Unfortunately, however, there does not seem to be any inclination on the part of the miners of New South Wales to work even one shift. The sooner the recalcitrants get out of the industry and make way for those who are prepared to work, the better. The story that before one is fitted to go down. a mine one has to be a direct’ lineal descendent of a Welsh miner is stupid.
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the clause which deals with the powers of the board.
– The board is empowered to ensure that supplies of coal shall be available to meet requirements. If the miners refuse to mine coal, how does the. Government propose to ensure that supplies shall be available? The salient fact is that the miners’ federation is determined that never again will reserves of coal be built up in. Australia ; it desires the continuance of the present state of affairs which enables it to hold industry to ransom. The Government has made no attempt to deal with thisform of dictatorship and this legislation will not have any beneficial result in that direction. We should be given an opportunity to examine advance copies of the bill proposed to be introduced into the New South Wales Parliament before we are asked to pass the bill now before us.
.- I have been interested to listen to what honorable members opposite have had to say in respect of compensation. If I had my way I would pay no compensation whatsoever, because the mine-owners, having ruined the coal assets of the nation, are not entitled to it. I visualize that within the next 100 years Australia will be importing coal solely because of the wasteful methods adopted by the owners in working the coal measures. Coal belongs to the people and in their interests it should- be nationalized. I have worked in no other avocation than coal-mining, and accordingly I claim to have some knowledge of the subject. The late Joshua Jeffries, who became the victim of the shipping combine when he was superintendent . of the Abermain collieries, and later accepted a position with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, giving evidence before a commission which sat in Maitland some time ago, said- that the Greta seam was being developed so inefficiently, due to insufficient pillar protection, that only 35 per cent, of ‘the coal content was being recovered. Mr. Jeffries said - .
Vast areas of the Greta coal seam are flooded or burning and lost to the nation for all time.
The coal-owners should be brought before the courts of justice to answer for their mismanagement of one of the great assets of the nation. Analytical tests of Greta coal made at Greenwich while I was abroad revealed it to be from 12 to 15 per cent, higher in oil content than any other coal in the world. Other nations have developed processes for extracting oil from coal, yet we are content to lose 65 per cent, of coal of the highest grade. I only wish that mining men who are now sitting in the gallery had the privilege of speaking in this’ chamber so that they could tell us what they know about this matter. Unfortunately that privilege is denied them and they have to speak through their representatives in this chamber. The South Maitland, East Greta, Ayrfield, Glenayr and Heddon Greta collieries are flooded because of the owners’ disregard pf the need for conserving the nation’s coal supplies. Insufficient pillar support has been left, cave-ins have occurred and swamp waters have entered the mines, making it impossible to work them. Coal seams in that area from 5 feet to 35 feet in thickness and about 6 miles in length have been ruined for all time simply because of the “ get rich’ quick “ methods adopted by the coal-owners. They have always said, in effect, “ To hell with, the nation’s future “.
– What did Mr. Lang or Mr. McKell do about it?
– That is the sort of question one would expect from the coalminer farmer from Indi. Whenever a government has endeavoured to enlarge- its industrial powers it has always been faced with the most consistent opposition of honorable members opposite. I agree that when we were in opposition we did likewise. Senseless opposition of that kind, causing lack of uniformity in industrial matters throughout the Commonwealth, is the root cause of many of our industrial troubles to-day. In the interests of the nation surely we can work in harmony and agree that the Commonwealth Parliament should be clothed with full powers to deal with industrial matters.
Sitting suspended from 1245 to 2.25 p.m.
– I was dealing with the maladministration by the coal-owners. Old Greta has been practically abandoned because of fires in the coal-seam.
In parts of Cessnock we find a similar state of affairs. Newspapers from time to time report the occurrence of fires. The fires occur because of the present method of extracting the coal, the only purpose of. which is the earning of divi-v Sends for the owners. It pays’ no regard to the welfare of the nation. Whereas, a century ago in Great Britain . the miners were working high seams like those on the Maitland field, they are now operating at depths below 3,000 feet in seams from 18 to 20 inches thick. The same condition applies in Germany, Prance and Belgium., One can easily imagine what the cost of coal will be to this nation in years to come if we continue the present wasteful method of working the seams. We must try to conserve our coal resources for future generations, but under the present system of ownership I do not expect the application of any other policy than the getrichquick policy of to-day. The shipping companies that have bought majority shareholdings in mines, of course, are not concerned about earning dividends from the actual production of coal. Their interests lie in the profits to be made from the freight charged on the carriage of coal to Australian ports and in providing cheap coal fuel for vessels sailing overseas. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked why this bill had been brought down and. with particular, reference to this clause, asked why the Government of New South Wales had not used the powers proposed. I interjected that the State Government had nothing to do with the interstate transport of coal. South Australia, of which he is the sole remaining Opposition representative, is suffering to-day, not because coal is in short supply, but because shipping is lacking to carry it from Newcastle to Port Adelaide. Co-operation between T>oth governments and all sections of the industry is imperative, if this legislation is to he effective. It is an honest attempt to overcome the difficulties in the coal-min- . ing: industry. It is not political. Tt contains some clauses that the miners do not like, but I accept the majority decision of my party.
– Which clauses do the the miners not like?
– The penal clauses that empower the board to expel from the industry managers, superintendents, or any other employees. I say in reply to the honorable member for Richmond that the board cannot deal with a coal agent or the secretary of a coal company. They cannot be put” out of the industry, because they are not in it, but they do provoke trouble. They are agents provocateurs. I do not want to mention names. That would be unfair. The board, however; has full power to victimize a miner by expelling him from the industry. Once expelled from one mine, a miner would never be able to get work in another mine. A miner expelled will thenceforth be designated a fomenter of trouble, and no other industry will employ him. Men who were victimized in the 1917 strike have been out of the industry ever since and can never return to it. They laboured to build homes for themselves and their families near the mines where they worked. They were forced to sell out and leave the district because they were blackballed. I repeat that I bow to the decision of the majority of my party, but. I warn the’ House that although provision is made for a miner who is expelled by the board to appeal against its decision, no miner will appeal, and once a comrade of the miners has been victimized, general industrial trouble will follow. For years and years, the miners fought the owners on the issue of their rights to black-ball a man and keep him out of the industry. They won. Now this bill provides that the board shall be able to victimize miners in the same way. So the miners are back to taws, and the fight will be fought again. I will say no more on that. I rose mainly to reply to the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) on the matter of compensation. The Minister in charge of the bill answered the honorable gentleman effectively. I well remember that when I was a lad, long before I joined in the political lifeof this country, the right honorable member for North Sydney was one of the greatest condemnors of what was called the coal vend. When he took part in the strike of 1909 or1910. he was Attorney-General and secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation.
Mr.Hughes. - Not during the strike.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to correct some of the statements made by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). He opened with a characteristic attack on the owners of the coal mines and declared that he would not pay a penny in compensation for taking over the mines.
– I would not.
– He said that his reason was that the mine-owners had lost a great national asset by allowing certain mines to be flooded through not having left sufficient pillar support. He is a practical miner and he must know that most of the coal in New South Wales is crown coal. A royalty has to be paid on every ton of crown coal that is mined. About £345,000 had been paid in royalties up to the 30th June, 1945. Thus, ownership of coal is not vested exclusively in individuals or companies. Mr. Justice Davidson has drawn attention tothe fact that the mine-owners are precluded from operating as they consider fit by legislation which gives to a body of recalcitrant miners the right to interfere with the working of the mines. The honorable member for Hunter, in accusing the owners of adopting a shortsighted policy in the working of their mines, lost sight of the fact that Mr. Justice Davidson, who was appointed by this Government to report’ on the industry, said in effect that no blame was attributable to the owners for inefficient working or unsatisfactory conditions in mines. The State government, by means of legislation which it has enacted, is “standing over” the owners and preventing them from operating the mines as they wish. The owners are. not to blame because our national assets in the coal-mining industry have been depreciated. The honorable member for Hunter will not deny that the State Government’ owns a majority of the coal mines in New South Wales. Then, if the Government permits coal production to decrease, the Government must take the responsibility instead of “ passing the buck “ to those who are working the mines under the royalty system. I have shown how easily anybody who applies logic to the arguments of the honorable member for Hunter can expose their “fallacy. He is blinded by class bias whenever he talks about the mine-owners. I have “ debunked “ his argument on this occasion, as I did during the second-read-, ing debate when he made fantastic claims regarding fatalities and accidents in coalmines.
I direct my attention now to the evasive statements made by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mi. Dedman). He had no effective answer to the charges made by the Opposition regarding clause 13, and so he indulged in one of the oldest of debating tricks. Such a trick might be effective in a debating class of the Eureka Youth Movement, but not in this chamber. The honorable gentleman drew a political rabbit out of his hat and tried to concentrate our attention on that, in the hope that we would overlook his failure to answer our charges. He quoted clause 57. He knew that it had nothing whatever to do with the subject of compensation which had been discussed by the honorable mem-, bev for Warringah (Mr.’ Spender) and myself. Having quoted the clause he said, in effect, “ The honorable members have not read the bill and, therefore, I shall not seek to answer them further “. Part IV. of the bill, which the Government proposes to exclude, provides for compensation to be paid to mine-owners in respect of the acquisition of mines. Paragraphs / and *g of sub-clause 3, clause 17, give power to the Joint Coal Board to assume control of the’ management and operation of any coal-mine and to acquire and operate any coal-mine. The Minister knows this, and he knows, too, that, following the exclusion of Part TV. of the bill, there will be no legislative provision for the payment of compensation to owners whose mines are acquired. Obviously the honorable gentleman referred to clause 57 in the hope that our attention would be diverted and that we would overlook the main point at issue. Unfortunately for him, we have read the bH thoroughly and we know exactly what it contains. We also know exactly what thoughts lie- at the back of the Minister’s mind. I accept the fact that the Government originally intended to provide for the payment of compensation to mine-owners in respect of mines acquired under the powers conferred by the bill. That fact was demonstrated’ by the inclusion of Part IV. However, that part will be deleted from the bill. Now I merely seek to give effect to the Government’s original intention by means of the amendment which I have submitted. If the Government intends to deal justly with the owners, it must agree to my amendment. Only by doing so can it prove .to the people that it still believes in the democratic traditions of this nation. One of the traditions embodied in the Constitution provides that every man whose property is acquired has the right to receive just compensation. If the Government rejects my amendment, it will sweep aside the Constitution and override one of the fundamental principles of democratic justice. If the Minister will accept the amendment we shall believe his assertion that the Government intends to dispense evenhanded justice to the owners in the event of the powers provided in clause 13 being exercised to dispossess them.
!- The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has 2Jointed out that under the Constitution, the owner of any property acquired by the Commonwealth is entitled to compensation on just terms. Previously, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) said that clause 13 represented an attempt to evade that provision of the Constitution. He even made the dramatic statement that he would stake his reputation on the accuracy of his charge. There was no need for any such gesture by the honorable gentleman. If his contention be correct, then any person who considers himself to be aggrieved by any action of the Commonwealth under the terms of the bill may appeal to the High Court. The honorable member for Warringah knows that no provision of this bill, or of any regulation promulgated under this bill, can override the Constitution. If this clause be invalid, the mere fact that the words “just terms” are omitted will not prevent justice being done. As the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) said, clause 57 makes ample provision for the payment of compensation for any damage that may occur as the result of the acquisition of a mine. A claim for compensation may be lodged with the Joint Coal Board, and, failing agreement in that case, with any court of competent jurisdiction. If the Commonwealth controls a mine and increases its profits, it is entitled to a reasonable return for its service. As there Li no acquisition of property, no compensation is payable. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) said that the Opposition will oppose with all its power and might the passing of this clause. That attitude is only consistent with the stand that the employing classes, which honorable members opposite represent, have adopted for many years. They have always opposed reform, or the improvement of conditions of the coalminers. The honorable member for Wentworth also said that this clause provided a complete answer to the Government’s policy of nationalization. I remind him that this bill does not contain any proposal for the nationalization of the coal industry, althoughI admit that nationalization could be effected in certain circumstances. The bill provides for four methods of operating the mines. First, the present method of operation under private ownership could continue. The national security regulations applying to the coal industry, which are being continued in this measure, did not remove private ownership during the war. If private ownership provides proper working conditions for the employees and efficient methods of production, the Government will not interfere with it. This legislation, and the creation of the Joint Coal Board, will be a salutary deterrent to the continuation of inefficient methods and unsatisfactory working conditions, just as the provision to empower the board to suspend persons will be a salutary deterrent to those whose conduct may be prejudicial to the efficient operation of the mines.For that reason, the bill has been wisely drafted. The second method is control by the Commonwealth without actual acquisition. The third method is to encourage a co-operative method of mining between employer and employees. Many of the more liberalminded owners recognize that the employees must be taken more into the management, and given a voice in the conduct of the industry and a share of the profits of their labour. The fourth method is outright government ownership or nationalization, which may take place under certain conditions. 1 should like the Opposition to define its attitude towards paragraphs h, i, j, k andl of sub-clause 2, which empower the board to make provision for -
Such provisions for safeguards and amenities have been sadly lacking in the past. The owners neglected to provide suitable amenities and housing conditions for the miners. That was admitted by Mr. Bernard Kirton, who is the chairman of the Excelsior mine on the south coast of New South Wales. He stated that proprietors should take an interest in the housing conditions of the workers. Mr. Kirton lives in an elaborate mansion on the mountain-side near his mine, and the employees’ live not far away, many of them in hovels. Yet the colliery proprietors in the district have thousands of acres of beautiful land, ‘ with fertile soil, which could have been made available to their employees so that in their spare time they could have engaged in gardening and other useful and healthy occupations. The bill will make up for some of those deficiencies of the past, and, therefore, I am surprised that the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr.
Harrison) declared that the Opposition would oppose this clause with all its might.
Repeatedly, honorable members opposite have deprecated what they described as the “ maudlin sentimentality “ for those miners whose health has been destroyed by coal dust. Recently, the Sydney Daily Telegraph published under the heading “ Lung-dusted Miners Die a Thousand Deaths “, a letter from a person who had contracted pneumonoconiosis. The Sunday Telegraph sent an impartial investigator to the south coast to obtain first-hand information about the sufferings of the men who have contracted miners’ phthisis and he wrote, inter alia- - “ There will be no miners on the south coast in ten years.” This is what they say at Wollongong, where all miners on the south coast met last week to discuss the recent deaths of three men from dust on the lungs.
Of the two articles written by the special investigator, one is entitled, “ Why the Miners Fear the Dust so Much “, and the other, “ Twenty-five Years in the Pits, Now Among the ‘ Walking Dead’ “. He described the lives of some of the coal- miners. The Daily Telegraph summed up the situation in a leading article, as follows : -
We have attempted to lay bare all the facts of the South Coast mining trouble.
It is clear that this is a special problem, dissociated from the ordinary type of coal- fields dispute.
We must have coal - but we cannot expect to. get it at the sacrifice of men’s lives.
The evidence shows that the South Coast mining conditions are particularly unhealthy. The local president of the Miners’ Federation asserts that 50 per cent. of the southern miners are affected by nodular fibrosis, a chest disease which the miners refer to as “ dust “.
This is a progressive disease for which, apparently, science has not yet found the cure.
Meanwhile men are naturally drifting from an industry which they consider dangerous.
And this is occurring when we need more coal than ever before.
Accepted preventive measures include methods of laying dust by water. The men demand high-pressure infusion of water into the coal seam.
It is not established beyond all doubt that this is entirely effective.
But it appears to be the best known means of reducing the incidence of the disease.
To retire and compensate affected workers is not enough.
The latest known devices for preventing the disease must he used.
With the consent of honorable members, I shall incorporate in Hansard the remainder of the article.
– I object. It is a newspaper article.
Leave not granted.
– The leading article continues -
And we must set out to reduce underground labour to the absolute minimum by such mechanisation as is possible.
Unfortunately, none of these various remedies are easily applied because the industry has inherited prejudices, customs, and hates which overwhelm reason.
I ask leave of the committee to incorporate in Hansard two further articles on the dust menace.
– I object -
Leave not granted.
– I shall now read the articles. The first is headed “ Why miners fear the dust so much “, and is as follows : -
The menace of dust on the lungs has caused a near-panic among miners on the South Coast of New South Wales.
Three of them died last week. None of them know who will be next. But they’re all afraid and by the weekend their fear had spread right through the Illawarra District.
Dust is almost the only thing they talk about in hotels and shops, in the homes, and on street corners.
Barmaids told me that even youths just beginning work in the mines talk nothing but dust and “ compo “ - compensation.
The men admit they’re . scared, aren’t ashamed to say that three deaths recently have made them realize the dust menace is assumingunsuspectedproportion.
Dust is worse on the South Coast than elsewhere because South Coast coal is extra soft and pulverises easily, so that when it is being extracted from the seam clouds of coal dust surround the men.
A miner told me last week that at Corrimal dust was so thick he often could not see his mate loading coal on the opposite side of a skip, five or six feet away.
Even surface workers who have never been below have been found to have dusted lungs.
These dusted lungs result from the dust settling on the chest, then gradually forming a gritty coating in the air passages.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in making a second-reading speech with regard to the dust menace in coal-mines?
– This clause is so comprehensive, particularly paragraph h of sub-clause 2, which .gives power ro the hoard to adopt measures to safeguard the health of employees in the industry, that the honorable member is in order in discussing the necessity for protecting the. miners against the dust menace.
– Paragraph h specifically refers to “ the enforcement of measures . for the abatement of dust in mines “. The article which I was quoting continues - . .
Badly dusted lungs in the final stages of t lie disease resemble pieces’ of . coke. Postmortems have revealed that some miners’, lungs are so hard after death that they could lie cut only with a hacksaw.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.i he honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. HUGHES (North Sydney [2.49]. - -Whatever we think of the bill, we may be certain that the miners will welcome it. Ostensibly intended to deal out evenhanded justice, it pushes the mine-owners around and loads the miners with gifts. Some clauses in the bill foreshadow and provide for improvement of the miners’ working conditions, the introduction of mechanization, the removal of the dust conditions to which the honorable member for Reid (Mr.- Morgan) has referred, and generally brighten the drab conditions in the mines. There are, of course, other provisions which empower the hoard to increase wages to a point which i! conceives to be compatible with the miners’ well-being and the necessary production of coal. The board can fix the price of coal. To these proposals I agree., r am not concerned as to how much it will cost to improve the working conditions. Australia, which aspires to lead the world in industrial conditions, cannot rest tamely under the charge of not only tolerating, but also encouraging, conditions which have their roots in the bad years of long ago. This measure, so the Minister tells us, is intended to benefit both the miners and the people of this country.
The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), who has had an incomparably greater first-hand experience of coal-mining than has any other member of this chamber, has referred over and over again to nationalization. He says that the mines belong to the people. Of course they do, but he wishes us to adducefrom that portentous deliverance that,-‘ if the mines were nationalized - that is. taken over by the people who own them, and have leased them- to the mine-owners - there would be peace in. industry. Nothing is farther from the truth than, that. The honorable gentleman does noi appreciate the fact that what the miners” leaders, desire is not government control and operation of the mines by the people, for the people. That is the last thing they want.. They wish to get control of the mines for the benefit of the miners, and them alone. They want to fix their own wages, charge .their own prices, andgive to the people just as much coal asthey feel inclined to do. I do not lay that charge against the bulk of the miners,. because, as Mr. Mighell has pointed out, the conditions in the industry, are nor the result of deliberate determinationsby the great majority of the employees, but are due to the decisions of the mere handful who roll up to meetings. My experience is that gatherings at which decisions are made regarding strikes, stoppages, and the like are usually attendedby from 5 per cent, to 10 per. cent, of the persons affected. The great majority of the miners stay away from the meetings. Those who attend are ‘ overawed by the mob that act on written instructions from Moscow. Do honorable members think that Mr. Wells, who talks of nationalization of the mines bringing peace to the industry, really wants peace ? If there were peace in. the coal-mining industry, his job would be gone. He thrives on unrest as do the leaders of other trade unions who take their ordersfrom Moscow - I refer to the Waterside Workers Federation, the Seamen’s Union and the Iron Workers Union. They would perish if there were peace.
What is the reason for the introduction of ‘the bill? There is an acute, shortage of coal. The production per capita has steadily fallen. But will this measure increase the output ? The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has referred to the wasteful method by which coal is extracted. As I said last night, the father of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) and I took part in one of the biggest strikes in this country. We were opposed to the “dog-watch” - the. second shift - and the introduction, of the machine. The miners have been opposed to the introduction of mechanical means for handling coal. It is true that, when challenged, they deny this. Mr. Wells says, “ We are for mechanization - in a planned and orderly way; and we are the persons to plan and order it “. All that I can say is, that if there is no mechanization now for pillar extraction it is because, as Mr.- Justice Davidson pointed out -
Mechanization in pillar working, which at present is prohibited under legislation and by rulings of the Minister of Lands of the State of New South Wales, would substantially increase productive capacity, and lessen the fearful waste of an almost priceless asset that is now occurring. During my experience, which has been considerable, the miners have always opposed the introduction of the machine. There is nothing in this bill which promises any different approach by the miners to this problem. They do not recognize their responsibilities as citizens. They, look at the matter from their own individual stand-point.- They, pf course, are a’ body apart. I remember Judge Heydon saying that it was as futile to talk about putting non-union labour into a mine as to talk of invading an enemy territory. The miners live together. They work in couples in the ‘mine. They and their families are housed together when outside the mine. They are thrown back upon themselves, all the time. I welcome everything in this bill which promises to give to the miner a chance to mingle with his fellow citizens on equal terms. Coal-mining is a drab uninviting industry. The question whether they get more than other workers does not influence me in the slightest degree. They do not work any harder than shearers or cane-cutters, but. they work under far different and much worse conditions. What we are here to do is to bring about peace in the coal industry. This bill will not do that. I pointed out last night that Mr. Justice Edmunds was appointed by me because the miners would not attorn to the jurisdiction of the court that was then in existence. He awarded them eight hours from bank to bank, but this great concession did not bring peace. I then appointed Mr.
Charles Hibble, and he functioned on the tribunal for years. But strikes went on. Mr. Justice Edmunds resigned his position because the miners treated his awards with contempt. They will take everything with both hands, but will give nothing in return. This bill has been brought in to increase the output of coal. It will not achieve that object unless discipline is observed; the miner must realize that. I know that it is of no use to talk about the enforcement of discipline. You have to get the miner to realize that discipline is in his interests as well as in ours. I repeat what I said last night, namely, that from 75 per cent, to 80 per cent, of the miners in the northern, southern and western fields are in favour of continuity of operations. Strikes are causing them to lose money, and they are building up for themselves a body of resentment. We were told in the press this, morning that there is a possibility of wholesale unemployment in the great secondary industries of New South Wales and Victoria because there is no coal. A worker in any other industry is as much entitled to consideration as is the miner. The miner is entitled to justice, but not to any greater degree than the average citizen. If we agree that the workers of this country are to all intents and purposes organized in unions, then this is a fight by this one union against every other union in the land. Let us have a fair deal all round. We have handed over to the miner the key industry, upon which all other industries depend. Other unionists .cannot do a day’s work except by permission of the miner. This is a machine age. Without fuel industry cannot function. In this country this means that it must have coal. Our transport system depends upon coal. The train and tram services are disorganized, rationed, reduced to a mere skeleton, because, even though the tribunals that have been functioning during the Avar have conceded practically every demand the miners have made, there is an ever-increasing decline in the output of coal. In the United States of America, the output of coal per employee per annum before the war was 739 tons, and in 1944 it was 1,295 tons. In Australia, the output has declined from 675 tons per man in 1939 . to 591 tons in 1940. It is of no use to talk about England. There, the seams are narrow and the miners have to get the coal while lying on their stomachs. But in the United States of America the coal seams are comparable with ours. Why can the output in that country be 1,295 tons per annum per man against 591 tons in Australia? The reason is, that America has continuity of operations, mechanization, and no government control. I do not intend to talk about government control. All that I say is that the people of this country must have coal, and that there must be peace in this industry.
– The ri’ght honor- . able gentleman’s time has expired.
.- It cannot be said that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), to whom we have just listened, approached this subject in a bitter manner, as have some other honorable members opposite. His attitude is the right one. He would advance the interests of this country if lie were to induce the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) to adopt a similar attitude. I know that from the time when I was a lad in a mine .the right honorable gentleman has taken a . keen interest in coal-mining. I admit that he has done a lot for the coal-miners of this country. But some of his statements were not accurate. I agree that the miners were opposed to mechanization in his day. To-day, however, they are not opposed to it. What they are opposed to is mechanization in pillar extraction. I disagree with many of my colleagues in their opposition to it. No matter what system were adopted, pillar extraction would be highly dangerous. The miners contend that, because of the noise of the machinery, they cannot hear the roof working above them, and that should it cave in they would have no warning, and the result would be loss of life. During my recent travels overseas 1 saw mechanized mines in operation; it was a great lesson to me. However, I was favorable to mechanization before then, despite the /fact that many oppose it. I would far sooner see a mechanical unit lost in pillar extraction than see a human life lost. I believe in mechaniza tion, subject to proper controls, particularly stowage precautions. I do not believe that the coal-owners should have the right to employ machines for the removal of pillars indiscriminately, and should he able to order the miners to operate the machines at rates of pay 25 to 50 per cent, lower than they received on contract- work. I would oppose the mine-owners having the right to do that because although they would have an increased output at less cost, they would not reduce the selling price of coal to the public. Nevertheless, something must be done. It is not sufficient to oppose this measure merely for political reasons. This legislation will go a long way towards improving conditions in the coalindustry. Recently, I participated in a debate which was broadcast over the national stations by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Mr. Wells, the president- of the miners’ federation, and I presented one side of the case, and two representatives of the coalowners presented their case. I had nothing to do with the selection of speakers. As many miners may be listening to this debate to-day, I say to them that they should realize that they should co-operate with the management, and try to settle disputes in their initial stages before a stoppage takes place. If other industries are set up in mining districts, so that the children of miners can obtain employment adjacent to their homes, and if a shortage of coal then throws their children out of work, the miners will have brought home to them the effect of an industrial dispute. The miners do not believe what they read in the newspapers. They have no faith in the press, or in governments. The simple explanation is that the bitter experiences through which they have passed have robbed them of their faith. In 3929 and 1930, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) joined with me in criticizing the BrucePage Government when it allowed the coal-owners to use some millions of tons of coal, that had been at grass during World War I., to lock out the miners for sixteen months in 1929-30.. The government of the day did absolutely nothing to bring about asettlement. At the request of the right honorable member for North Sydney and the then honorable member for Fawkner, Mr. Maxwell, and three or four others on the government side of the House, the then government decided to take action against the late Mr. John Brown. But when the Parliament went into recess the proposed prosecutions were dropped. Although there was an award of the tribunal, presided over by Mr.’Charles Hibble, who was appointed by the right honorable member for North Sydney when he was Prime Minister, the coal-‘ owners, by using the coal which was at grass, were able to starve the miners into submission. The men had to accept a 12-J per cent, reduction of their wages, in a breach of an award o’f the court. Such actions on the part of the coalowners are among the root causes of the miners’ loss of faith. To-day, they have no faith in anybody; they believe that every other person in the community is trying to “ take them down “. It is that lack of faith in others that makes them provide for themselves. They live their own community life; they build their own hospitals. The coal-owners have not contributed one penny to the hospitals on the coal-fields. Those institutions have been built out of the earnings of the miners, so that medical attention may be available for themselves and their families. The miners contribute to funds out of which their burial expenses are met; they provide their own social services. They do these things because of their lack of faith in others. We must-, try to restore the lost faith of the miners in other sections of the community. We must show them that they constitute an important part of the community; that on them the country’s progress largely depends. We must discourage the constant condemnation of the miners by newspapers. Unfortunately, that condemnation is expressed in general terms; miners as a whole are criticized and condemned. Those who speak scathingly nf miners as a class probably do not know - or, if they do know, they conveniently overlook the fact - that some miners have never lost a day’s work in twenty years. Of course, the miners resent these constant attacks on them. They have a right to do so. What the right honorable member for North Sydney said is perfectly true : these men want to work; they do not want to be condemned day after day. I do not want to be personal in this debate.’ I want to help this industry. I want, if I can, to help the miners to realize that they constitute an important unit in this country’s- progress. 11 an appeal is made to them on the right lines I believe that they will respond. But concurrently with that appeal to them there must be an appeal to the coal-owners also. There must no longer be what is termed an “ upper social stratum “ in mining districts. We must get away from a social system under which the coal-owners live to themselves, having their own bowling greens and golf clubs from which workers in the mines are excluded. . The amenities for which this, bill makes provision will probably bring the coal-miners and the coal-owners closer together. I hope to see the, day when they will work together- instead of opposing one another. When I was in Great Britain recently I saw a number of clubs which are frequented by those engaged in- mining. There are no suet clubs on the coal-fields of New South Wales. At Collie, in Western Australia, I have seen how the existence of a club can help to maintain peace in industry. In a club a mine manager may approach the chairman of the miners’ lodge and, over a drink of amber fluid, settle a pending dispute. What has been done along those lines on the coal-fields of New South Wales? The bill also makes provision for the amicable settlement of disputes. It also provides for the training of youths in coalmining, so that they will have some knowledge of the industry before they go to work in the mines. At Sheffield, England, in company with Mr. Jack, an officer of the Coal Commission, I saw training centres where youths who intended to engage in coal-mining were trained on the surface. No such training has ever been attempted in Australia. In this bill the Government says that money will be expended to make coalmining more attractive. I want the honorable member for Wentworth to retract what he has said. His remarks were broadcast, and, doubtless, were listened to by many persons in the community. He took advantage of the opportunity to present incomplete facts to the people.
When he referred to casualties in coalmines he took mainly the depression years between 1936-40.
– They were not depression years.
– The honorable member is quick to interject when I am speaking, but. when I tried to get information from him in the course of his speech he would not give me an answer. The honorable member obtained information for his speech from his friends, the coal-owners, and. in delivering it he was unable to keep his eyes off the script.
Mr.Francis. - Who prepared the honorable member’s speech? Was it Gregory Forster?
– It would be as correct to say that his satanic majesty delivered the Sermon on the Mount, as to say that my speech was prepared by Mr. Gregory Forster. The casualties among metalliferous miners have been cited against the coal-miners. During the depression a bounty was paid on the production of gold. Naturally, more men were employed in metalliferous mining while, on the other hand, coal-mining declined. Up till that time the population of Kalgoorlie and Boulder had been rapidly declining. It had, in fact, declined from , 50,000 to 10,000, but with the help of the gold bounty it immediately began to increase again. The number of persons engaged in the coalmining industry has been: continuously declining. In my own electorate, 13,000 coal-miners used to be employed up to 1929, but by 1936 that number had declined to 7,000. At one time, the total number of coal-miners employed in the Commonwealth was 24,000, but it is now only 15,000. There are not so many men working in the mines now, and therefore there are not so many to take the risk of injury.
– The figures I quoted were per thousand workers.
– I hope the honorable member will yet feel ashamed for having spoken of “ maudlin sympathy “.
– I was merely quoting Mr. Justice Davidson.
– During my own lifetime, I have seen the disasters at Mount
Kembla, Mount Mulligan, Bulli, StanfordMerthyr, Dudley, and Greta. Has the honorable member no sympathy for the widows and orphans left by the men whose lives were lost? I say that coalmining is the most dangerous occupation in the world. The honorable member spoke of State interference, but whenI asked him in what way the State had interfered, he brushed the question aside. I am sure that the State authorities would not interfere with the mechanical extraction of pillar coal if proper control were exercised. I suggest that the board might well set up a committee to conduct experiments into the extraction of coal from pillars, side by side with pneumatic stowage.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Bill 1946.
Australian National University Bill 1946.
Peace Conference - Mr. N. J. O. Makin; M.P. Appointment as Australian Ambassador to the United States of America - Housing - Immigration: “Australia and Your Future “ ; Living Costs - Galvanized Iron, Wire and Wire Netting - Armed Forces : Demobilization ; Cash Allowance to Released Prisoners of War.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn. .
– In to-day’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald, the following message is published from the newspaper’s staff correspondent, Colin Bingham : -
The Russians have plainly marked the leader of the Australian delegation at the Paris Conference, Dr. Evatt, as a man whose activities must be closely watched.
The Soviet delegation has clearly decided that Dr. Evatt’s opinions, where they conflict with its own, must be combated with the full strength of every argument it can command within the Soviet group.
During the debate in the Procedure Committee yesterday, the leader of theRussian delegation, M. Molotov, came very near to calling’ Dr. Evatt the leader of the AngloSaxon bloc, and certainly implied that he was a keen student of tricks, an experimenter in soothsaying, an unreliable arithmetician, and generally a fellow who was up to no good.
The meeting of the Procedure Committee afforded a close-up of Russian “ security “. When M. Molotov rose to speak a plain clothes member of the secret police stood up also, five yards away. With one hand in his pocket, bo watched for the 20 minutes of the speech for the slightest move in the vicinity of his leader. 1 should like ‘ to know whether any of the colleagues of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) have been telling M. Molotov about him. I trust that the ‘Government will ;ce that the Minister is properly protected. Perhaps it might be possible to raise a third Australian Imperial Force to send abroad to look after him. It seems to me to be wrong that the representative of Russia should be so closely guarded - at a peace conference, mark you - by a man with a six-shooter in his pocket, while our representative remains unarmed.
On. . Sunday next, the Minister for i ho Wavy (Mr. Makin)- will leave for the United States of America, where lie will take up the position pf Ambassador for Australia. It seems to me to be appropriate that on this occasion something should be said in farewell. I do not suggest that I have always agreed with the overseas appointments made by the Department of External Affairs, but in’ this instance Australia’s first ambassador is a man ‘who has had a very distinguished record in. this House. Years igo, he occupied the same position as you now occupy, Mr. Speaker. I was not then a member of the House, but r have been informed that he was regarded as the second best Speaker who had ever filled the position, and that is a high tribute. It seems to me. that we should be lacking in the proprieties if we allowed the honorable member to go without some reference to his departure. As a member of the Opposition, holding no official position, I wish him success in his mission to the United States of America, and we trust that his services there will be of benefit to the Commonwealth1. It is obvious that in. the years ahead relations between Australia and the United States of America will be of the utmost importance, to this country.
.- I join with the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) in expressing my best wishes, and those of other members of the Australian Country party, to the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) on the occasion of his departure for the United States of America to take up the position of Australia’s first Ambassador. He came into this Parliament at the same time as I did. 27 years ago, and since then he has occupied some very distinguished positions. Although he and I have differed greatly in politics, I have never doubted that he always sought to do what he believed was the ‘best for his country. I am confident that his activities in the United States of America will be of benefit, not only to Australia and to the United States of America, but through their co-operation to the whole world. When a man is appointed to so important a position, he ceases to represent any party but becomes the representative of all Australians ; and we shall regard him as such.
I take this opportunity to explain my reason for addressing a question this morning to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) when I asked why the price of Australian butter in our contract with the United Kingdom was lower than the price at which Great Britain has contracted to buy butter from Denmark. I asked the question in a friendly way, because I hoped that the Minister would set out the facts with regard to Great Britain’s needs of that, commodity, and also its treatment of Australian producers of butter. I thought that the Minister would have made it clear that at this particular time Australia should not try to get the last penny out of Great Britain, because; as I shall show, the Government is receiving from Great Britain a substantial amount which it refuses to pass on to the butter producers. I take this opportunity to recapitulate the history of this matter during the war years. In 1938, the year before the war, when I was in London as Minister for Commerce I arranged with Sir Henry French, the British Controller of Food, to sell to Great Britain the whole of our butter exports. At that time all arrangements were completed, except tie price, which was about to be fixed when war broke out. The- committee to handle the transaction was appointed. That price was fixed, not in any haphazard fashion, but on the basis of an offer from the British Government which was submitted to the Dairy Products Export Control Board which asked for a conference of all bodies interested in -the production of butter in this country. That conference decided that the British offer was reasonable and should be accepted. Subject to other conditions, one of which was that Great Britain should guarantee to provide the necessary shipping, and agree to pay for any butter which was stored in Australia while awaiting shipment, Great Britain accepted that arrangement; and the agreement was implemented. No pressure whatever was brought to bear upon Great Britain to pay a higher price until 1944 when this Government raised the aspect of the increased cost of production. In 1942’ the Prices Commissioner had increased the price to the producer by Id. per lb., and in order to prevent further costs being passed on to the consumer the Government subsidized the industry, first, to the amount of £2,000,000, and, subsequently, to the amount of £6,500,000. But in 1944 negotiations were entered into direct with the British Government by representatives of the industry in Australia who had arranged the original contract; and, finally, in 1945 an arrangement was made whereby the British Government agreed to increase its payments by 42s. a cwt. So generously did Great Britain act in the matter that the Auditor-General in his report for the year ended the 30th June, 3945, pointed out that Great Britain agreed not’ only to increase’ the price from 134s. a cwt. to 18Os. Sid. a cwt. but also to pay an additional subsidy of 16s. 8d. a cwt. in order to help the Australian producer. In addition, Great Britain agreed to pay that subsidy retrospectively as from the 1st April, 1943. It has actually paid to the Commonwealth that subsidy totalling £3,000,000 up to the 30th June, 1945, whilst £300,000 is still outstanding - on that account. The subsidy for 1945-46 is additional. That payment was something over and above the price at which Great Britain .contracted to buy Australian butter. Therefore, there is not the least justification for saying that Great Britain has been hard to deal with in this matter. Our objection has always been that the Government has paid the British subsidy into the Treasury and refused to pass it on to the butter producers of this country. Consequently, the producers are receiving 16s. 8d. a cwt. less than export parity on the whole of their butter. I also point out that a new agreement is now being negotiated. How are those negotiations being carried on? They are not being conducted by a member of the Government who would necessarily have to go abroad for that purpose, but by the representatives of the butter industry, including Mr. Sheehy, Mr. Gibson and Major King, who are negotiating for an agreement on a basis which will enable the industry to earnon. You, Mr. Speaker, called a Minister to order when he interjected “ You old humbug-“ when I was asking my question. I hoped that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture would put on record the generosity with which Great Britain has always been prepared to meet Australia with respect to the purchase of not only our butter, but also wool and other primary products. In 1942 Great Britain, without any direct request having been made to it, agreed to pay ‘ an’ additional 2d. per lb. for Australian wool. It is the Minister’s duty to make these facts known instead of implying that we. are obliged to bludgeon Great Britain into paying reasonable prices for our products. Great Britain, displays this generosity at a time when it is more in need of money and food than at any other time in its history. The Government has failed badly to supply greater quantities of butter than it originally contracted to. supply to Great Britain. When we are not able to- supply the whole of Britain’s butter requirements we should be the last to criticize Great- Britain because it is buying butter from Denmark.
.- I join with the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) in congratulating .the Minister” for the Navy (Mr. Makin) upon his appointment as Australia’s first Ambassador at Washington. I have been a member of this House for only a few years, but the Minister has been of great assistance to me. I know something about his early career in South Australia. He has always been held in the highest esteem by South Australians, whom he has so faithfully represented in this Parliament. I am confident that in his new office he will do justice to himself and credit to this wonderful country, which he loves so much. I wish him good health in the future, I trust that he will be spared to come back to this country and give to it the benefit of the valuable experience which he gains abroad. I join with pleasure in the sentiments expressed by honorable members who have voiced their appreciation of his splendid work. It is gratifying to hear such praise fall from the lips of honorable gentlemen opposite who are not of the same political persuasion. I wish the Minister every success in his mission.
.- I join with honorable “members in wishing the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) every success in his important mission as Australia’s first Ambassador in the United States of America. Ever since I have been privileged to be a member of this Parliament I have enjoyed his friendship and profited by his kindly advice. Although honorable members on this side of the House view national and other problems from a different perspective from that in which they are seen by the Minister, we readily acknowledge that he has conscientiously devoted himself to his duties and has discharged them with credit. The honorable gentleman, who has occupied important posts in the Parliament, first as Speaker of this House, and later as Minister of the Crown, leaves behind him a record of achievement of which he might well be proud. I join with other honorable members in wishing him every success in his important office and trust that through his efforts the friendship that exists between Australia, and the United States of America N may be even more firmly cemented. The future of this country and the prosperity pf its people depend not only upon our own efforts but also upon the maintenance of goodwill between the, English-speaking peoples of the world. We can depend upon the honorable gentleman to work to that end, and I look forward to hearing frequently of the successes which I trust he will achieve in his new and important office.-
I am sorry at this stage to have to introduce a discordant note, but the urgency of a situation which I propose to outline compels me to do so. I draw attention to the racketeering’ that is taking place in Brisbane in connexion with housing. .Representations have been made to me by the combined organizations of returned soldiers, who are just, as much concerned about the conditions that exist there as I am, that immediate action should be taken to- curb the activities of Australian people who are exploiting the black market. I base my remarks on an article which was published in the Brisbane Sunday Mail dealing with housing costs rackets and representations from the secretary of the Queensland United Council of ex-Servicemen. The serious shortage of houses perhaps excusable during the war, has merely been accentuated during this first year of peace. The housing position in Brisbane to-day is calamitous. Economic ills of every kind flow from the housing shortage, ranging from child delinquency to higher child mortality, from a decline in public health to strained marital ties resulting in a cluttering up of divorce courts with wrecked marriages. If this problem is not dealt with immediately, and in a resolute manner, a shattering blow may he dealt to the moral, physical and economical fibres of Australian national life from which it might never recover. So seriously has the question been regarded in South Africa, that in a recent speech, the Governor-General of . the Union referred to the passing of the Housing (Emergency Powers) Act to speed up home-building. In his. first speech to the New Zealand Parliament at Wellington as Governor-General of that dominion, General Sir Bernard Freyberg, V.C., said -
The housing of ex-servicemen is a matter of special concern to my Government, and considerable progress has been made despite shortages of building materials and labour. Some 16,000 ex-servicemen have been housed ‘ already, not only in State rental dwellings, but in houses built or purchased by ex- servicemen with rehabilitation loans.
That is an extraordinarily fine record of achievement for our small sister dominion, which has not the great resources which this’ country can command. Government procrastination and vacillation, together with administrative ineptitude have resulted in the growth of many unsavoury features connected with house building. Rackets of every kind have developed, and the racketeers batten on the desperate need of the unfortunate, shelterless individuals who, in their desperation, submit to the greatest extortion and blackmarketing in order to have their needs met. Public expositions of such practices have been, made in the press of Queensland, relating to additions to prices for contingencies that do not occur; the Housing Commission aiding blackmarketing by accepting high tender prices; blackmarketing of timber sold for cash; and blackmarketing of hardware such as baths, stoves, &c. These vultures who feed on the desperation of the unfortunate homeless ex-soldier must be exposed.The only manner in which that can be done is by the appointment of a commission of inquiry under the National Security Regulations to investigate blackmarketing in building materials. Such inquiries have been instituted by this Government into matters relating to salvage, the sale of Abbco bread, footwear supplied by Fostars Shoes Proprietary Limited, the sale of rags and refrigerators and disposals generally. The matter to which I draw attention is far more serious and urgent than those, and accordingly I urge that a committee of inquiry be established to investigate it without delay. The United Council of Ex-servicemen has already approached . the Minister for PublicWorks in Queensland, Mr. Bruce, who has recommended that the council’s request for an immediate investigation be submitted to the Commonwealth Government. In an article on this subject in its issue of the 19th May the Sunday Mail states -
The State Housing Commission is condoning the tremendous increase in home-building costs by letting contracts for homes at up to 15 per cent. more than it would sanction about six months ago.
Supplies, particularly of timbers in short supply, can often be bought for cash when they cannot be obtained in the ordinary course of business - at a figure over the fixed price, and if a receipt is not demanded.
Baths and other such fittings can be bought on the blackmarket at prices 50 to 100 per cent. over the right amount within a day or so of each shipment arriving from the south.
Many builders when tendering add on to their price 10 or 15 per cent. for contingencies, such as delay in arrival of supplies, but make no allowance to the owner if the contingencies do not occur.
The architect who supplied the information upon which those newspaper paragraphs were based indicated that he would be prepared to give evidence in support of his charges if a properly constituted inquiry into the rackets were undertaken. He indicated that it was common talk in the building trade that when timber needed for homes, such as flooring, could not be obtained in the ordinary way, certain firms would supply it for cash. The procedure adopted was for a builder to drive a truck into the timber yard, hand over the cash, load the. timber, and leave without getting a receipt. The price in such cases is always well in excess of that fixed by the Prices Branch. Another advantage to the racketeer engaged in this form of trading is the evasion of income tax.
The newspaper article also referred to a case in which a bath was bought on the black market. It states -
I was aware of this case and the associated . facts before he mentioned it.
This was the position : A house costing £1,250 was ready for occupation except for a bath. The plumber on the job could not get one through legitimate channels. He telephoned the purchaser of the house a couple of. days after a consignment of baths had arrived . from Sydney by ship, and said: “I think I can get you a bath, but it will be on the black market. It will cost you £20.”
Desperately anxious to get into his new home and out of the bad conditions in which he had been living, the house owner agreed to the deal.
The bath should have cost £13 13s.
How such scarce items as baths, which are alleged to be so rigidly controlled, can get on to the black market should be the subject of an urgent inquiry.
– I rise to order. I should like to know if the honorable member for Moreton realizes that several honorable members wish to take this opportunity to add their good wishes to those already expressed to the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Matin) who is about to proceed overseas. I suggest to the honorable member that the matter to which he is now referring could be left to a more suitable occasion.
– The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) has not raised a point of order. The motion now under discussion is for the adjournment of the House, and on it, an honorable member may speak on anysubject that has not already been debated this day.
– I regard this matter as most serious and urgent. I remind the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) who was the first honorable member to speak on this motion in addition to paying a tribute to the Minister for the Navy spoke on another subject as I have done. The same course was followed by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), and I intend to continue to discuss the important subject to. which I am directing the attention of the House. On the 2nd July, Mr. R. H. Coates, acting honorary secretary of the Queensland United Council of exServicemen, wrote to the Honorable H. A. Bruce, Minister for Works, in Queensland, as follows: -
I have by direction of this Council to submit the following resolution passed by them at their last meeting: - “ That this Council calls the attention of the Queensland Government to published statements in the SundayMail on the 19th May, 1943, alleging excessive building charges and racketeering, also of black-marketing by various sections of the Building Trade. “ That we further call upon the Government to appoint a properly constituted Commission of Inquiry into the matter, such Commission to accept evidence from representatives of reputable ex-servicemen’s and other organizations interested.”
It is felt by the United Council of exServicemen (Queensland) that the charges made by the Sunday Mail are so grave that in the interests of the people generally, and ex-servicemen in particular, the State Government should probe these allegations.
We are concerned at the lag in the building of homes for men discharged from the Forces as disclosed by the latest figures of 29 per cent. of the quota to June 1946, of homes constructed or under construction, and feel that such charges if sustained must operate against a complete fulfilment of the Government’s ‘housing policy.
The Minister replied as follows: -
Your letter of the 2nd July received, requesting that the Government appoint a properly constituted commission of inquiry into the statements published in the Sunday Mail of the 19th May, 1946, alleging excessive building charges and racketeering, also blackmarketing by various sections of the building trade.
In my position as Minister in charge of housing I am well aware of the shortage of material which has brought about a lag in the building of homes for men discharged from the forces. However, our activities are concerned solely with the housing of thepeople with the largest families and the smallest incomes,living under sub-standard conditions. Under an agreement with the Commonwealth Government, a 50 per cent. preference at least is given to ex-servicemen. The Federal Government solely controls the War Service Homes activities, which give 100 per cent. preference to soldiers, and I think that your organization should get in touch with your federal member or the federal Minister concerned in order to expedite this angle of activities which could do much more in picking up the lag as far as the housing of soldiers is concerned than anyother organization.
The lag is further accentuated by the strike that is at present taking place all over Queensland insofar as housing material procured from the southern States is not available owing to the waterside workers being on strike in sympathy with the meat workers.
However, I will place your council’s request before Cabinet for consideration, and will write you further later.
– Order. ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Hutchinson) negatived -
That the honorable member for Moreton be granted an extension of time.
.- I take this opportunity, before leaving for South Australia to-day, to support the remarks of previous speakers who have paid tributes to the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin), who is about to leave Australia to take up the important position of Australian Ambassador in the United States of America. My feelings on this occasion are of both pleasure and regret - pleasure in the knowledge that the. nation has recognized the great services that the Minister has rendered over a long number of years, and regret that he is about to depart from this country. I have known the honorable gentleman for many years - probably for longer than any other member of this chamber. The time has come when he is about to leave parliamentary life to take up duties as an Ambassador .for this country in a foreign land. For many years the honorable gentleman fought a lone fight in South Australia on behalf of the Labour movement. For a considerable time he was one of a comparatively small band of Labour representatives in this Parliament, and I believe that it was the high regard in which the Minister was held personally in South Australia during those years that eventually built up in that State a high opinion of the Australian Labour party - so high, in fact, that, with the support and the co-operation of the Minister at the last general elections, South Australia returned three Labour senators and five Labour members to the House of Representatives. We shall miss him at the forthcoming general elections. We appreciate the great service he has rendered not only to South Australia, but to the Commonwealth. As I said to him privately a few moments ago, I hope to meet him very soon in his new sphere. I believe that he will be a great Ambassador for Australia. I believe that as a result of his work, the United States of America will be even more friendly towards Australia which will be of immense assistance to us. No more suitable man could have been chosen as our first Ambassador to that country. I am. confident that he will take with him from Australia the good wishes of not only the members of the Australian Labour party but also the members of every other political organization in Australia. We all desire him to return to Australia at the end of his term in Washington, endowed with knowledge that will be of benefit to his country. In a few years he may again grace this House as the honorable member for Hindmarsh. I wish him well. With his departure I shall regretfully lose personal contact with a wise counsellor and a very good friend.
.- I am proud to add my tribute to those paid to die Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) on .the eve of his departure to take up his new duties as Australia’s first Ambassador to Washington. I have not known the honorable gentleman go intimately and for so many years as have other honorable members, but in the last few years I have grown to know his innate qualities and abilities. He is undoubtedly a credit to the Australian Labour movement. He is a man of whom this Parliament and the Australian people can well be proud. In his new sphere he is certain to add lustre to the splendid record that he has established in his long association With the Commonwealth Parliament. At no other time could a man of his calibre play a greater part in shaping the destiny of the world. We have passed through trying times and entered upon what we hope is a new era, an era in which the nations of the world will collaborate and cement ties of friendship. We hope to avoid the bloodbaths ‘ that have too frequently enveloped the nations instead of the spirit of real friendship and comradeship that should animate all peoples. Australia could send abroad no man who could more adequately and nobly promote the new spirit. The honor”able gentleman has been an ornament to this Parliament and will be a credit to Australia in the. high office to which he has been called.
– I too desire to pay tribute to the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin). I shall miss him. For many years he has been a dear friend. Since my advent to the Commonwealth Parliament he has been most helpful on all matters on which I have approached him. The high esteem in which he is held in South Australia is proved by the fact that for more than a quarter of a century he has been returned to this House as member for the Division of Hindmarsh. As the representative of his constituents he has carried out his duties with great dignity and ability. I know that as Australia’s Ambassador to Washington he will be a credit to his. country. I wish him and his wife and family well, and I trust that it will not be too long before he returns to Australia. ,
– I join with other honorable members in bidding the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) a fond farewell on his departure from this House and the shores of Australia to take up in Washington the post of Australian Ambassador. It is a great achievement to have served one’s country as he has served it in this Parliament for 27 years. I am sure that he will leave Australia admired by all who have met him or know of his distinguished service to his country. He is indeed a great Australian. It is perfectly true that as a member of the Australian Labour party he has fought strenuously for what he believes to be the correct political creed, but, divorced from political associations, he is a fine citizen and has won admiration for his integrity, honesty, and the courage to support his convictions. As the -Leader of the Government and as a friend of the honorable gentleman for a long period I desire to say how deeply I regret his departure, which temporarily severs my contact with a man whose friendship I value highly. On behalf of the Government, I express gratitude for his loyal cooperation with his colleagues in the Ministry during the last five years. He leaves with our best wishes, wannest admiration and deepest affection.
.- As a representative of Victoria, although a comparatively new one, I heartily join with honorable members from the other States in bidding farewell to the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin). I think that all Victorians wish him well and have every confidence in his ability to render very efficient service to Australia at Washington. I regard the honorable gentleman as a member of a “vanishing race” in that he, as had his former leader, the late John Curtin, has a political approach that is unfortunately disappearing, in Australia particularly. When I came to this Parliament as a new member, I found that both the late Prime Minister and the Minister for the Navy, regardless of my political affiliations, offered me helpful advice. I know that my experience was shared by other new members. That went deep into my heart. I have the greatest respect for any man who can approach life in that way, because that is the attitude that we so urgently need but are unfortunately losing. The honorable gentleman is a member of a small band of- politicians who have won and retained the admiration and respect of all the people of their country.
.- Time inarches on, and to-day brings about a parting between myself and’ a* man with whom I have been associated for many years. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin), in the various public positions that he has held, has proved himself to be a great Australian. It is my firm belief that every man who enters public life endeavours to do the ‘best that he can for Australia. Norman Makin has achieved that objective. Having been associated with him for a long time, 1 have no doubt as to the results of his work as Australia’s Ambassador in the United States of America. He and his family have every reason to be proud, of his achievements in his political life-time. I associate myself with the remarks of other honorable members.
.- 1, too, pay my tribute to our worthy colleague, the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin),’who is about to leave to represent Australia in the United States of America. Everybody in this Parliament, and every intelligent person, not only in South Australia, but also throughout the Commonwealth, knows of the achievements of the honorable gentleman. Furthermore, he had the honour and privilege to be the first President of the Security Council of the United Nations, so that now his name is known throughout the world. We in Australia know of his ability and sincerity. He has served his country faithfully. As- other honorable members have said, he “ held the fort “ for many years in South Australia as a representative of the Australian Labour party, in whose creed he has a deep faith. I have had the privilege of knowing him for many years. Most of my relatives still live in the Division of Hindmarsh, which he represents in this House. They appreciate his capacity and sincerity, have always wished him well, and have always been numbered amongst his loyal supporters. I trust that he will strengthen the very firm friendship that, already exists between Australia and the great1 United States of America, which is probably- the greatest nation in the world to-day. Australian soldiers came into contact with hundreds of thousands of American- fighting men during the war, and these men have returned t,o America as friendly ambassadors for Australia, which was virtually unknown ro them previously. I am sure that the Minister will receive a warm welcome in America. I know that he will do a magnificent job on behalf of his country, as he has already done in other capacities. [ extend warm personal good .wishes to him.
– I associate myself and my colleagues from “Western Australia with the farewell good wishes extended to the Minister for the
Navy (Mr. Makin). My first recollection of him dates back to the days when I wore short “ pants “. My father took me to the Tivoli Theatre in Melbourne about 26 years ago, when a seamen’s strike was in progress. Then Mr. Makin, in association with the late Frank Anstey, was carrying the banner of the Australian Labour party, a job which required courage in those days. Three years ago, when I visited my parents in Victoria for the first time in twenty years, being the newly elected representative of Forrest, in Western Australia, among the first words of advice given to me by my father were: “ If you need any advice, I recommend you to James Scullin and Norman Makin.” That was good advice. Throughout his career the Minister has realized that no man can live unto himself. Whether it be in. a -simple act or in an important one we should all realize that our conduct will affect other members of the community. Awareness of this fact has guided the honorable gentleman in many of his tasks. Because of the consideration for others which he has always shown, he has earned the respect of all sections of the community regardless of their political beliefs. He has never compromised with his conscience; he has been honest to himself and to the nation. He will be greeted in America with the same respect with which he is regarded in Australia; He will bring credit not only upon himself but also upon this great young nation. ‘ .
.- T. first met the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) during my successful by- election campaign in the Fremantle electorate. Throughout my association with him on public platforms at that time, I noticed the immense respect which be inspired amongst the people. During the year in which I have been a member of this Parliament, I have come to know him fairly well and I have learned to value both his friendship and his advice. Although we regret his departure, his appointment is a matter for congratulation both for the Government and for himself. It is a truism that friendly relations with the United States of America are of vital importance to Australia. The British Dominions occupy a very important position in relation to the United States of America, being links between that country and Great Britain which do not arouse the traditional suspicion with which many American citizens regard Great Britain. I am certain that the honorable gentleman is admirably endowed with qualities that will enable him to fulfil his new role very satisfactorily. His personal character and his philosophy will appeal to a very wide section of opinion in America, and he will further the cause of American-Australian friendship. The United States of America is new to its present world pre-eminence, and I know that he will stand up for the interests of Australia against any section within the United States of America, or any tendency on the part of the Government of that country to abuse that new power. Whilst we regret his departure, it is a cause for rejoicing that we have a man of his calibre to represent Australia as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations at Washington.
– I am deeply moved by the tributes, that honorable gentlemen have paid to me on this, my last appearance, at least for a time, in the Parliament of the Commonwealth. Nearly 27 years have passed since I first took my place in this chamber, and the long period that has intervened has been rich in experience. I hope that in some measure I have been able to render public service worthy of the splendid opportunities that have come my way. I have shared richly in the gifts that Australia can make to one of its sons. Not only have I had the privileges of representing wonderful people in the constituency of Hindmarsh, but also I was entrusted with the high and honorable office of Speaker of this House, and 1 remember with satisfaction my pleasure when that honour was conferred upon me. Some years later, when Australia was in dire peril and an enemy threatened its security, T was called to be one of the trusted Ministers of the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, and to render to him assistance and advice in those dark days. My appointment as Minister for the Navy and Minister for Munitions at that critical period was one of the greatest honours that could be bestowed upon any tuan, because it afforded to me the opportunity to serve my country in its dire need. Later I represented Australia at the first meeting of the United Nations, and I had the’ honour of being elected first president of the Security Council. Now, I have been further honoured ; the Government has appointed me as its first Ambassador to the United States of America. Undoubtedly such experiences deeply enrich one’s life, and I am profoundly grateful for all those manifestations of great goodness.
The tributes that honorable members on both sides of the chamber. have paid to me personally and to my public service hav”e touched me deeply. Few men are praised during their lifetime for their public service. Generally, those tributes are paid after death, I have been more fortunate because generous expressions of goodwill have been uttered this afternoon by those with whom I have been associated for many years. Their confidence in my ability will indeed strengthen me in my occupation df the high and honorable office of Ambassador to the United States of Amenca. I trust that I shall continue to justify the confidence that has been reposed in me in the- past. One of my objects will be to cement even more firmly the friendship between these two great countries, the Commonwealth of Australia and the’ United States of America, although already that bond is very real and strong, forged in the blood and sacrifice of brave men in the cause of freedom. I go as an Ambassador of friendliness to the people of a great coun try who love freedom and who place great value upon the liberty and dignity of. the individual. It is my earnest hope that wo shall be able to continue to develop that wonderful relationship between the two countries, and thus set an example of better international understanding to other nations.
I should like to pay sincere tribute to ‘ my leader, the Right Honorable J. B. Chifley, who has at all’ times shown deep friendship and wonderful consideration to- me. In my public life. I have been extremely fortunate to serve under leaders of high integrity and great personal worth. To my honoured and revered friend, the right honorable mem- ‘ ber for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), who was the Leader of the Parliamentary Labour party for many years’, I offer my special thanks. To all honorable members who have bestowed their friendship so richly upon me, and to those who have shared with me the many difficulties and anxieties inseparable from public life, I extend my deepest appreciation. In the years to come, it will be a source of deep satisfaction to mo to know- that, my own life has been such as to earn- the enduring goodwill, high respect and friendship, of my fellow men. I leave this House with the feeling of assurance that my friends in Australia are supporting me in the important task I am about to undertake. I hope that as the days pass,.. Australia will continue its chosen way of life that democracy and free public institutions make possible for the people.
.’ - I also pay a warm tribute to the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin), because he stands for something unique in the public life of Australia. Others have spoken of his honesty, integrity and friendliness. I would say a. word concerning his staunch adherence to his religious beliefs. Tt is not quite easy sometimes, in the hurly-burly of political life, to maintain a definite attitude on those .matters. I believe that those standards of belief and practice have been given a place of high import by the man who is leaving’ us to-day. In that sphere particularly, he has done a great service to this country. In carrying out his mission, I have no doubt that he will act with dignity, ability and sincerity, and bring credit to Australia during the years that he will serve us in the capital city of the great United States of America.
A question was raised in the House thi3 - morning concerning the booklet entitled Australia and Your Future, issued by the Department of Information. I originally drew attention to this matter last Tuesday, and the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), in reply, questioned my honesty of purpose. In fact, he accused me of misquoting the booklet. That charge I deny. My question, as honorable members will appreciate, when they refer to Hansard, did not purport tq give a literal quotation of the text of the booklet at any point, but it was intended as a fair and accurate presentation of the purport and substance of matter contained in the booklet. The first part of my question contained this statement as fairly representing an assertion contained in the booklet -
That 22s. a -week rental will provide a com- fortable unfurnished home for a man, his wife and three children.
The relevant matter in the booklet is as follows: -
Rentals vary considerably in different localities, but the sum set out above, £1 2s., would provide a comfortable house for such a family, the assumption being that the husband would be the owner of sufficient furniture.
There is nothing at all in the way of literal substantiation of the matter, but there is a fair and accurate representation of the purport and substance of the matter contained in the booklet. The next part of my question embodied the statement that one dozen oranges cost ls. 6d., or ltd. each. ‘ In the booklet, under the heading “ Wide Food Range “, the actual words are, “ one dozen oranges, 1 1/2d. each, ls. 6d “. Then my question stated that the booklet showed that women’s best shoes cost £1 5s. 8d. a pair and ordinary shoes 18s. lid. a pair. The item in the booklet actually read, “Shoes (best), £1 5s. 8d.; (ordinary), 18s. Md.. The last part of my question to which exception has been taken was couched in these terms -
A wife can be adequately clothed for £12 8s. 2d. a year, a boy of 10£ for £9 18s. 4d., and a girl of 7 £8 19s. a year.
In the booklet, the following paragraph appears, under the heading “How the
Basic Wage Works out “ -
The allocation for clothes in the above minimum budget is based on a yearly allocation of £24 12s.. lOd. for the husband, working out at 9s. 5d. a week; £12 8s. 2d. for the wife, or 4s. 9d. per week; £9 18s. 4d. for a boy of 104, or 3s. lOd. per week; £8 19s. for a girl of seven, dr 3s. 5d. per week; and £5 7s. 5d. for a boy of 34, or 2s. Id. per week
I maintain that I did not, either in intention or in fact, misrepresent the statements in the booklet. The word “ adequate “ does not appear in it, but it is most certainly suggested. Its use in my question in no way misrepresented the purport of the whole booklet. What would be the point in presenting an inadequate budget? Would anybody setting out tq attract migrants offer them a budget which would leave them halfclothed or underfed? The whole booklet is entirely misleading. Australian housewives have laughed loudly at the figures, but a newly-arrived immigrant would not do so.
The booklet also refers to housing. How many houses in Canberra could be secured at a rental of £1 2s. a week unless in slum areas and under slum conditions? It is generally estimated that the minimum space required for a man, his wife and three children, the kind of family - dealt with in the booklet, is eleven squares. In an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald before this controversy arose, the cost of housebuilding was shown to vary in that city from £145 a square in the industrial or near industrial suburbs, to £200 a square in others. That represents a cost for each house of from £1,500 to £2,000. Would any of the houses to be erected now be available at 22s. a week? It would seem most unlikely that the figures given in the booklet with regard to rentals are likely to be the actual rents prevailing in Australia for many years. Such houses would undoubtedly cost 35s. a week, if taken on a rental-purchase basis. I look .in vain through the booklet for any statement that the figures supplied relate to any - one year. The Minister, in his reply to my question, said that they related to normal times, and not to war-time conditions or the conditions obtaining now. It so happens that there is one part of the booklet where a date appears. Under the heading “ How- the Basic Wage Works Out “, one finds these words -
Taking the basic wage at £4 18e. Od. a week, and adding eli i Icl endowment of 7s. (id. a week for each of two children, a married man on the basic wage (no matter how unskilled) with throe children has a weekly wage of £5 13s. (id. No income tax is payable on this wage by a man with a wife and three children. Based on,l!)4(i living costs in a typical Australian city, the. £5 13s. Gd. would provide a, budget somewhat like the following, which has been compiled unofficially.
After that statement, the booklet gives the prices which have been questioned so widely throughout Australia. Having considered the matter very carefully, I suggest that a mistake has been made somewhere in the compilation of the booklet. The Minister, apparently, was under the impression that the figures given in it related to pre-war years; yet, according to the body of the booklet, they represent living- costs in a typical Australian city to-day. Anyone reading the booklet, at any rate in an overseas country, would be. under the impression that he or she could live in Australia in reasonably comfortable circumstances ou the amounts stated. I suggest to the Government that, even at this late hour, the booklet be withdrawn and reprinted, giving such figures as w’ill enable people overseas to have a true appreciation of what conditions they can expect to find when they come here.
– This morning, a question was raised in regard to the repayment of advances that had been made to Australian soldiers, when they were released from captivity. I have since been able to go into the matter. When all Australian soldiers were released from captivity, their pay earnings continued asthey had done when they were in captivity, and they then became eligible to draw pay in the same manner as all other serving soldiers. The amounts referred to represent pay drawn by the soldiers from British paymasters, acting on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. The amounts advanced to Australian soldiers totalled £37, SOO, and a claim was duly received from the British Government for this amount, supported by the acquittances on normal pay sheets given by the Australian soldiers who had drawn their pay in that manner. The amount of £37,800 has been paid by the Australian Government to the British Government. Of the total, £22,S0O was accounted for by entries that had been made in the soldiers’ pay- books by .the British paymasters at the time of payment. Where the Australian soldier could not produce the. Australian pay-book, a special “ green “ pay-book was provided by the British paymaster, in which entries were effected of the payments as they were made. In a number of instances, “ green “ pay-books were not handed in by the personnel concerned to Australian paymasters; consequently the amounts received by the personnel were not brought to account when the soldiers’ services were terminated. These amounts represent £15,000 o.f the total of £37, SOO paid by the British paymasters. Whilst the amounts in question ure properly recoverable from the ex-soldiers concerned, I have issued the instruction that where the soldier has been discharged and the final payment has been effected, recoveries are no’t to be made of any amounts received from British paymasters at the time when the personnel were released. That refers to the prisoners of war who were returned from Singapore], and in regard to whom certain complaints have been made.
– Last week, I asked whether supplies of galvanized iron, wire and wire netting were at Newcastle, and what could be done by the Government to have them transported from that city to the- different States. I have since learned that Newcastle is almost a stockpile of those commodities. Shortage of shipping is not responsible for the failure to have them transported to places where they are needed. I have been informed’ that if the ships on our coast were expeditiously turned round, they could carry them to the different States. As in relation to coal, so also in this matter, the trouble lies in the lack of discipline and responsibility on the part of those who work on the wharfs. The Government has all the powers it requires. There is a Labour government in office in almost every State, and those who should take action cannot evade the responsibility that rests upon them for withholding commodities that are indispensible to the building programme that is being proceeded with as rapidly as circumstances permit in all the States, and for the delay in making supplies available to primary producers, thus enabling them to carry out urgent and necessary works on their properties. I trust that the Government will treat the matter seriously, and that before long I shall have some indication of the’ steps that it intends to’ take.
Quite a lot of uncertainty exists to-day as to when the demobilization of the armed forces will be completed under the points system. On this subject, a soldier has written to me in these terms -
I would appreciate some information, if you could obtain it. as to the possibility of the Government completing demobilization by 30th September, as publicly stated by the Minisister for the Army on a number of occasions, as well as by the Director of Demobilization. Major-General Savige, in reporting progress.
I have 104 demobilization points, having enlisted at 21 and have had three and a half years’ service. I have been content to await my priority but always accepted the fact that the limiting date would be September 30th. This impression has been strengthened from time to time by official statements that the demobilization programme was ahead of schedule.
In the last few months there has been no sign of this progress. . At6th June orders staled that all with over 130 points were to be discharged - “ without reference to higher authority” and at the same time 112 points became “ high priority points for discharge. “ The latter means that personnel in that group are available for discharge provided replacements are available to their unit. In point of fact such reinforcements are rare and discharge comes when units receive the order to discharge without reference to higher authority. The latest order received states that by August 17 all with over 120 points will be discharged without reference to higher authority and “high priority” points stand at 112. 120 points represents 4 years service for single men under 22 years of age at enlistment. Surely this indicates that, far from being ahead of its schedule the Government must fall down on its undertaking to complete demobilization by 30th Sept. A definite admission of the facts is overdue, and also an indication as to when the other groups may expect discharge and when demobilization will be complete.
In the week ended the 20th July, the Minister for the Array (Mr. Forde) made in this House a statement to the effect that the number of volunteers for service in the interim defence force was not large. He said that of a total of 9,818 enlistments, 9,675 men had volunteered for service in Japan. That means that the number who volunteered for. service in Australia was only 143, and is complete evidence of the lack of a defence programme on the part of the Government. Obviously, if replacements have to be made, demobilization must be delayed. I ask that a carefully considered statement on this subject be made by the Minister . at the earliest possible date - I hope next week. The men still in the services are anxious to return to civil life. They have been led to expect that the latest date of demobilization would be the 30th September, but it now appears that there is no possibility of demobilization being Completed by then. If circumstances have changed, the House should be notified, so that men still in the services may know what to expect.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of External Affairs - G. D. Cunningham, S. W. Jamieson.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Defence purposes - Eagle Farm, Queensland.
National Security Act -
National Security (General) Regulations -
Order by State Premier - New South Wales (No.63).
National Security (Prices) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 2604-2621.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Regulations- 1946 - No, 2 (Building and Services Ordinance).
House adjourned at 4.46 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Minister for Commerceand Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Mail Service to Flinders Island.
l. - On the 25 th July, the honorable member for Bass (Mr, Barnard) asked whether arrangements could be madefor all second-class mail matter to and from Flinders Island to be conveyed by air during the period the Loetta is laid up for repairs.
The Postmaster-General has supplied the f ollowing answer : -
In normal circumstances, all first-class mail matter is conveyed to and from Flinders Island by air and second-class mail is carried by sea. Unfortunately, the mail service with FlindersIsland has been seriously dislocated during the past two weeks. First, due to the extremely adverse weather conditions, the aerodrome on FlindersIsland has had to be closed for normal purposes, and, secondly, the Loetta had been withdrawn for repairs. Arrangements have been made in collaboration with the Department of Civil Aviation to forward asmuch mail ass can be carried by a light aircraft to Flinders Island. It was hoped that a flight would be made to-day, but becauseof the continuance of bad weather this has been found to be impracticable. The Commonwealth Shipping Board had arranged for the steamerNarracoopo, which usually serves King Island, to leave Launceston at 3 p.m. to-day for Flinders Island, and all ‘ accumulated second-class mail matter would have been carried by this vessel on the forward and return trips. Owing to the continued bad weather conditions in Bass Strait, however, the Narracoopa is still sheltering at King Island, and her departure from Launceston for Flinders Island is indefinite. It will be appreciated by the honorable member that the regrettable inconvenience which is being caused to residents of Flinders Island in the absence of normal mail facilities has been due to circumstances beyond the control of the Postal Department. He may rest assured, however,* that the matter is. being closely watched and that all practicable steps are being taken to provide special mail services to and from Flinders Island pending a resumption of the regular facilities.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 August 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19460802_reps_17_188/>.