18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Applicants for permits to become re-sellers of motor spirit state that when they apply to the Liquid Fuel Control Board, they receive the reply that permits willbe granted only after they have installed petrol pumps. When they make applications for pumps to representatives of the major oil companies, they are informed that pumps can be installed only after they have obtained permits entitling them to be re-sellers of motor spirit. Those who succeed in obtaining pumps from an independent source receive a letter from a body named Pool Petroleum Proprietary Limited, rejecting their applications for supplies of petrol, on the ground that instructions to that effect have been received from another body, which is referred to as the Oil Industries Committee. I ask. the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping whether these bodies are controlled by the Government, or by the major oil companies. Can anything be done to smooth the. process by which such applications are dealt with and finalized?
– This is a matter of detailed administration of the Department of Supply and Shipping, concerning which the honorable member cannot expect me to have any knowledge. I shall ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to provide an answer for him.
Speech by Mr. j. A. Beasley - Foundries Dispute.
– Two or three weeks ago, I asked the Prime Minister to comment on a statement by the High Commissioner for Australia in the United Kingdom concerning certain sinister forces in Australia. I invited the right honorable gentleman to state whether Mr. Beasley had expressed Government policy, and if he had, what action was proposed by the Government against the sinister forces mentioned. The Prime Minister replied that he would obtain a copy of the speech, so that he would know its exact terms. When I repeated the question last week, the right honorable gentleman said that he had received a copy of the speech, and would let me have it for my perusal. I have not yet received it. I now ask the right honorable gentleman to state the reason for his refusal to answer my question. . Did Mr. Beasley make the statement to which I have drawn attention? If he did, to what sinister forces did he refer, and what action, does tho Government propose to take against them ?
– I apologize if the copy of Mr. Beasley’s speech has not yet reached the honorable member. I may have been remiss in expediting its despatch in accordance with the promise I had made to him. The second portion of the honorable member’s question is rather long-winded.
– It is a question which the right honorable gentleman has refused to answer.
– I remind the honorable member that I have a perfect right to refuse to answer any question. I suggest that the honorable -member place that portion of his question on the noticepaper.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact, as reported in the press, that he has intervened officially in the foundries dispute in Victoria? Is he correctly reported as having expressed some criticism on the attitude being adopted by the Prime Minister with regard to wage-pegging? Has he had any discussions with the Prime Minister on this matter since his return to Canberra) Can he advise us what stage the dispute has reached ?
– The answer to the first part of the. honorable gentleman’s question is “ Yes “. The answer to the second part is “No”. As a matter of fact I contradicted such an allegation which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald and in some other newspapers. Negotiations are still proceeding, Judge Foster has called a conference at 4.30 p.m. to-day from which it is hop/d some good results will follow. As to lie last part of the honorable member’s question relative to discussions I may have had with the Prime Minister since his return to Canberra, the answer is “Yes, and we are quite happy about them “.
Motions (by Mr. Chifley) - hy leave - agreed to -
That the number of members appointed to serve on the Standing Orders Committee be increased to eight, and that, Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, the Chairman of Committees, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Fadden, Sir Earle Page, Mr. Riordan and Mr. Williams, be members of the Committee; three to form a quorum.
That Mr. Adermann, Mr. Conelan, Mr. Daly, Mr. Haylen, Mr. McDonald, Mr. O’Connor and Mr. Ryan be members of the Printing Committee; three to form a quorum, with power to confer with a similar committee of the Senate.
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1936, the following members be appointed members 9f the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, viz. Mr. Conelan, Mr. Gullett, Mr. Howse, Mr McLeod, Mr Rankin and Mr. Russell.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Health look into the position of the mothercraft nurses throughout the Commonwealth, with a view to defining and improving their status and establishing a fund to provide scholarships and assist trainees who have financial difficulties? Does the Minister realize the importance of the mothercraft nurse in the community, and will he, through the inquiry called for, help to provide a much needed service for the mothers in the community ?
– On behalf of the Minister representing the Minister for Health I point out that the second portion of the honorable member’s question is a matter for the State departments of health. The first portion of the question relating to the granting of financial assistance to mothercraft nurses during their period of training will be examined.
German Machine Tools
– Has the Prime Minister seen the statement in last Saturday’s newspapers that German machine tools to the value of several thousand pounds, being the initial consignment of Australia’s share in the first allocation of industrial reparations, would he shipped from Hamburg within the next few days? Can he say whether it is a fact, as reported, that the Government is studying proposals under which selected German technicians would accompany the reparations plant to Australia? Will the right honorable gentleman inform the House how it is intended to use this equipment, and what steps, if any, will be taken to ensure that country districts receive a just proportion of it?
– There have been a number of inquiries, including one by the honorable member for Hunter, with regard to plant for use in the extraction of oil from coal from Germany. The Government has sent officers to Germany to select Australia’s portion of the reparations, and some time ago I answered a question on this subject. The officers have selected certain materials, including some machine tools. Transport is hard to get, but it is hoped to ship some of the materials soon. This, of course, applies only to machine tools, not to the wider range of plant mentioned by the honorable member for Hunter. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has been considering whether any German technicians should be allowed to come here, but the Government has not yet made a decision. T assume that whatever machine tools are brought here from Germany will be distributed in the best interests of industry.
Report on International Convention 1944.
– hy leave - With the permission of the House, I shall incorporate the following statement in Hansard: -
The most important results of the International Civil Aviation Conference which met at Chicago in NovemberDecember, 1944, and was attended by representatives of 52 nations, were the completion of -
The interim agreement, as the name implies, is a temporary agreement designed to provide a provisional organization until the permanent organization is established by the coming into force of the convention. The convention covers all aspects of international civil aviation, and is intended to replace the Paris Convention of 1919 and the Havana Convention of 1928, which were considered to be no longer adequate to meet the changed situation in post-war international civil aviation which would result from the immense development of aviation during the war. It was obvious that new rules for the more efficient conduct of civil aviation must be evolved and enforced by common consent of the nations of the world.
This convention will come into force upon ratification by 26 States. It contains all the general principles and regulations which are of common application to aircraft engaged in international air navigation. It re-affirms the principles of national sovereignty of the air above national territory. Civil aircraft, except those engaged in regular commercial services, are permitted to fly over and land upon the territory of States party to the convention. Aircraft making international flights must follow particular routes and land at specified aerodromes. The convention contains provisions for the proclamation of prohibited areas, the prevention of the spread of disease, the registration and marking of aircraft, ‘airworthiness and the licensing of personnel. There is provision for uniform rules of the air. The standards which will be required to be observed by all States in regard to radio aids, aerodromes, rules of the air, licensing, airworthiness, registration, &c, will be prescribed in the annexes to the convention. In fact the convention is a complete document intended to cover the safe and orderly development of international air transport, and its establishment on sound and economical lines.
The convention provides for the establishment of an International Civil Aviation Organization consisting of an Assembly and a Council. The permanent seat of the organization is at Montreal, Canada. The Council is a permanent body responsible to the Assembly and comprises representatives of 21 contracting States elected by the Assembly, which meets annually. The aims andobjectives of this organization are to develop the principles and techniques of international air navigation, and to foster the planning and development of international air transport.
Pending the coming into force of the permanent organization, a provisional organization consisting ofa provisional council and a provisional assembly has been established under the interim agreement. Australia has a seat on the provisionalcouncil, and the first meeting of the provisional assembly was held in May, 1946. At this meeting, it was resolved that Statesbe urged to ratify the convention, and that those which have not already done so should deposit their ratification by the 1st March, 1947.
Article 80 of the convention provides that immediately the convention comes into force, each State shall undertake to giveimimediately notice of denunciation of the Paris Convention and the Havana Convention. Australia is a party to the Paris Convention, and has given notice of denunciation of this convention in order that it may be in a position to ratify the Chicago Convention. This denunciation will become effective on the 9th August, 1947, or on the date upon which the Government of Australia becomes bound by the Chicago Convention,whichever is the later.
The first meeting of the permanent assembly has been tentatively fixed for the 6th May, 1947.I ask for the endorsement of the Parliament of the Government’s proposal to deposit Australia’s ratification of the Convention on International Civil Aviation before the 1st March, 1947, so that Australia can be represented at the first assembly meeting of the permanent organization. On ratification of this convention, the necessary legislative action will be taken to amend the Air Navigation Act 1920-1936, to provide for making regulations to carry out and give effect to the Chicago Convention instead of the Paris Convention.
I lay. on the table the following papers : -
Thatthe report be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. White) adjourned.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping state when the Parliament will be supplied with details of the plan for the production of aluminium in Australia, including estimates of cost and of the probable Australian market? Does the Government believe that the cost of aluminium produced in Australia will be comparable with the cost of imported aluminium ? Is it proposed to subsidizethe production of aluminium or to impose a protective tariff ?
– I shall refer the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Supply and Shipping, and ask that a reply beprovided as quietly as possible.
MalayanCampaign Prisoners of War: Funds; Promotions and Appointments.
– Will the Minister for the Army take immediate action to see that the members of the Australian Imperial Forces, who served in Malaya, be granted a Burma Clasp to their Pactific Star, having served in South-East Asia Command? Will the Minister for the Army give a direction regarding payment of subsidy to Australian ImperialForce personnel while they were prisoners of war ?
– I shall investigate the conditions under which the award of the Pacific Star and clasps thereto are granted, and willadvise the honorable member of the resultas soon as possible. The suggested payment of asubsidy to Australian Imperial Force personnel while prisoners ofwar would involve consideration of the payment of a similar subsidy to Australian Imperial Force personnel who served in all theatres of war. Beyond payment of a war gratuity, no such subsidy is proposed.
– It is wellknown that a fund for prisoners ofwar was collected throughout Australiawhilst ourmen were incarcerated in enemyprison camps. I ask the Minister for the Army whether the money lying to the credit of thefund was paid to prisoners of war, and ifnot, why not? In view of the fact that the Judge Advocate-General has ruled that all promotions, reversions and punishments, that is, all matters affectingpay, of members of the Australian Imperial Force in Malaya be declared invalid as from 1530 hours on the loth February, 1942, the date of the fall of Singapore, will the Minister give consideration to the approval of such promotions and appointments as were made in respect of prisoners of war subsequent to that date?
– I have not any knowledge of an official prisoner-of-war fund of the kind referred to by the honorable member. However, if he will give me further details, I shall be pleased to examine them. With regard to the second part of the honorable member’s question the policy of both the British and Australian Armed Forces has been that, from the date on which a member is taken prisoner, or a force capitulates, nofurther appointment or promotions shall be effected. Whilst it is true that one or two exceptions have been made, any general variation from this rule would involve a change of policy and would affect members of all the services. Difficulty in implementation would also be encountered. However, I shall consider the honorable member’s further representations and provide him with a reply.
– I ask the Prime Minister how long Senator DonaldGrant has been absent from Australia? Where is the honorable senator now? When is he expected to return to Australia? What work, if any, has hebeen doing abroad on behalf of the Australian Government? What is the cost to date of his two trips abroad?
– I am unable to recollect the date on which Senator Donald Grant last went abroad. I shall have prepared a detailed reply to the honorable member’s question.
– I pre face a question by reading the following telegram which I have received from the Widgee Council, Gympie -
Farmers Gympie District as in other parts state receiving little orno income asresult prolonged drought. Dairy ‘farmers unable to seek outsidework. Time occupied attending starving stock. Urge you endeavourhave Government approve assistance to farmers from Social ServicesFund.Letterfollowing.
I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will give consideration to extending benefits in the form of unemployment relief and payments from social service funds to primary producers adversely affected by prolonged drought as are now made available to city workers when they are not profitably employed when on strike? Will he also have an immediate investigation made of the serious effect of the current drought in Queensland with a view to providing substantial financial relief to farmers in Queensland this year, as has already been provided to primary producers in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria to an amount totalling £341,000?
– In reply to the first portion of the honorable member’s question, I have made it clear on a number of occasions in this chamber that the initiative in providing drought relief has always been taken through the State governments. Should a State government believe that it cannot provide the amount of relief which is needed in its State it makes application to a Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, or, in special circumstances, it may make an application direct to the CommonwealthGovernment. The Commonwealth does not deal with drought relief except on the application of the
States. Special consultations have already taken place with regard to the provision of relief to dairy farmers who have suffered loss through drought. Later, I shall furnish the honorable member with a detailed reply on that aspect. The honorable member implied that unemployment relief is paid to strikers. That is not correct. No such payments are made to strikers. Such relief is provided for persons who are deprived of their employment by strikers. I shall ask the Minister for Health and Social Services to examine that portion of the honorable member’s question.
– In view of the drought conditions in the northern and north-western portions of Victoria, and in the western Riverina district in New South Wales, where crops are practically a failure, would the Prime Minister give favorable consideration to a request by the Premiers of Victoria and New South Wales for the payment of drought relief by the Commonwealth.
– I have stated on a number of occasions that consideration will he given to any requests that are made by the State governments although I do not pretend that the result will always be satisfactory to the. applicants. The Commonwealth has made large sums of money available for drought, bush fire and flood relief. I can assure the honorable member that if applications be made by the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria, consideration will be given to them.
– In view of the widespread concern among primary producers that there may be some alteration of the Australia-sterling exchange rate, and the wider interests bound up in any such alteration, will the Prime Minister inform the House whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce the Bretton Woods Agreement to the Parliament for ratification during the present sittings?
– Considerable references have been made in the press to the likelihood of the overseas exchange rate being varied. As I have indicated to the House on other occasions, it is not the intention of the Government to make any move for the alteration of the sterling exchange rate. I need not go into thereasons for that because I believe the honorable member to be fully aware of them. As to the submission of the Bretton WoodsAgreement to the Parliament, I shall reply to that part of the honorable member’s question to-morrow.
– In view of the announcement that Fleet-Admiral Nimitz. has accepted an invitation to visit Australia, is the Prime Minister able to state whether General MacArthur has indicated the date of a future visit by him in acceptance of the Government’s longstanding invitation ?
– When I last discussed this matter with General MacArthur he said that he would take the first opportunity to visit Australia, but he was not able to indicate when that would arise.
– Last week I asked the Minister for External Affairs whether he would table the terms of the draft New Guinea Trusteeship Agreement and he replied that he had done so in the course of his speech on international affairs earlier in the present session. I have found, after reference to Hansard and to Parliamentary Papers, that, whilst the right honorable gentleman did outline certain principles, he did not table the terms of the agreement. As this agreement is now being discussed by international delegates to United Nations, will the Minister make the full terms available to the House so that honorable members may examine them?
– What I said in answer to the question asked by the honorable member last week was not that I had made the terms of the agreement available during the recent debate on international affairs, but that I had referred to the Hansard in which the full terms had been included in a statement by the Prime ‘ Minister made just prior to the dissolution of the last Parliament. I propose, shortly, to lay on the table of the House our proposals which are in precise accord with the Prime Minister’s statement and the modifications or suggestions made by a sub-committee of the United Nations, so that honorable members may know exactly what is being done. I am obliged to the honorable member for Henty for having again raised this question.
– Does the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act or the Reestablishment and Employment Act provide means whereby an employer may deduct from the wages of an employee, as prescribed by the Arbitration Court, an amount equal to the pension that that employee receives in respect of war service? If not, will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction make representations to the Rural Bank of New South Wales, which is paying to an exserviceman £3 10s. 9d. a week instead of the prescribed wage of £4 16s.?
– I take it that the honorable gentleman objects to some authority in New South Wales deducting the value of a pension from wages?
– Yes, the Rural Bank.
– So far as I know it has no authority to do so under either act.
– I have been informed, I think credibly, by, or on behalf of, several men who were Red Cross officials with the forces during the war and who became prisoners of war that, since their return from captivity, they have been taxed on their whole earnings as Red Cross officials. As the Treasurer can see, the tax on accumulated earnings could be substantial. Is it true that they are taxed on their full earnings during their time of imprisonment? If they are, is the Treasurer prepared to make some alteration of the law in order to afford them some relief from that position?
– I am not aware of any of the circumstances mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition, but I will certainly take steps to have the matter examined immediately. I will discuss it with the Commissioner of Taxation to see whether some injustice is being inflicted on a particular section and let the right honorable gentleman have an answer as soon as possible.
Land Settlement of ex-Servicemen : Single-unit Farms.
– On the 20th November, I asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction a question regarding the provision of single-unit farms. The Minister replied -
There is nothing in the agreement which prevents a State government from putting forward single unit propositions considered to be suitable for soldier settlement.
After the publication of my question and the Minister’s reply in the Central Western Daily, published in Orange, on the 27th November, the secretary of the Orange branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia sent me a copy of a letter from the Minister of Lands in the New South Wales Government, Mr. Dunn, the following being an extract: -
It is pointed out that provision already exists for assistance being given to exservicemen to enable them to purchase individual holdings in approved cases, but this singlefarm method is not at present in operation as the Commonwealth maintains it is outside the scope of the agreement entered into between the Commonwealth and the State in relation to land settlement for ex-servicemen?
In view of that statement, will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction advise Mr. Dunn that there is nothing in the agreement which prevents a State government from putting forward a single-unit proposition considered to be suitable for soldier settlement? Will he ensure that the Government of New South Wales, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, shall extend to ex-“ diggers “ the right to assistance to re-establish themselves on single-unit farms on the same terms and conditions as are granted to applicants for group settlement of three or more ex-servicemen ?
– First, I want to make clear the fact that the position is as I stated it to be in answer to the honorable member’s previous question. I shall considerwhether I ought to take this matter up with the Minister for Lands in New South “Wales or whether other action would be appropriate to meet the position.
Formal Motion fob Adjournment.
– I have received from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely -
The urgent need for the Government to appoint a royal commission to inquire into the specific allegations made on Thursday last, the 28th November, 1946, by the honorable member for Reid (Air. Lang) and the Minister for Information and Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell).
– I move -
That the House do- now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported ?
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– In submitting this motion, I do not propose to take any more time than is necessary because the matters which have produced it are, I believe, fresh in the minds of most, if not all, honorable members. In my opinion and in the opinion of many other honorable members it is imperative that, when specific charges of a certain kind are made in a Parliament of the country, those charges should be completely investigated in justice to all persons concerned. We have a Standing Order of this House in respect of abusive language, and if all that had occurred last Thursday had been that some expressions of extravagance or of general abuse had been used, nobody would pursue the matter because we all know that certain general remarks frequently may be made in the heat of debate. However, what occurred on Thursday doe3 not fit into that category at all. When specific allegations are made challenging the honour or honesty of members of the Parliament, those allegations cannot be allowed to pass because, otherwise, support will at once.be given to a sort of public cynicism about the standards of. conduct of members of. the Parliament, and, therefore, of the Parliament itself as an institution. In this respect, we are the guardians of our own honour, and in guarding our own honour we are doing something to preserve the value and repute of the Parliament as an institution. On Thursday last, on a motion by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) for the tabling of certain immigration papers, five sets of allegations - not general statements but particular allegations - were made. For the sake of all public men, including those affected by the charges, those allegations should be investigated by the most powerful and impartial authority. I urge this upon the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). Indeed, 1 had hoped that this matter was of sufficient moment to attract the right honorable gentleman to the chamber, and I regret that he is temporarily absent.
The first allegation which was made by the -honorable member for Reid” was directed against Mr. Charles Morgan, who was for six years a member of the House of Representatives for the electorate of Reid, and who was defeated at the last general elections by the present honorable member for Reid. The allegations against Mr. Morgan were as follows: - First, that a detective of the Commonwealth Security Service investigated a business conducted by Mr. Morgan, secondly, that Mr. Morgan had set up an organization for getting in touch with German and Austrian victims of Nazi-ism and Fascism in Europe, and arranged for them to obtain permits to land in Australia, thirdly, that under Morgan’s system, an intending migrant sent his application to Morgan, and every application was accompanied by a deposit of £5, which remained with Morgan irrespective of the result of the application ; fourthly, that if a permit was obtained, the payment was increased to the sum of £20 a head, and fifthly, that under Morgan’s system, the applicant signed an application form in blank, the particulars being filled in in Morgan’s office in Sydney, thus enabling him to fill in the kind of particulars that the department wanted.
Those arc five allegations of the mostspecific kind, and, in the aggregate, they constitute a very grave charge of improper ‘trafficking against Mr. Morgan. Now, Mr. Morgan is not a member. of this House any longer. He has no opportunity to stand up in this chamber, for what that opportunity is worth, and defend himself, or make his denial. I venture to say to all honorable members that when charges of such gravity are made in this chamber against him, everybody concerned has the right to say, “ These charges should be investigated. They should not he allowed to hang in the air “. Tt would be an utter injustice to everybody affected by this matter to have this thing rest in mere rumour for the next two years or twenty years, because we all know how long a rumour - perhaps a most scandalously unfounded rumour - can pursue a man. Those five charges have been .made. It ls our responsibility as a Parliament, and it is the Government’s .responsibility .as our leader in this matter, to have these charges investigated.
In the second place, ‘the honorable member for [Reid made an allegation against the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark). The substance of his charge was .this: That Morgan had an arrangement under which, when some application was hung up departmentally, Morgan would call upon ‘the honorable member for Darling to get in touch with the department to “ untangle the jam “, and get the application moving again. Here, I interpolate the remark that this was presumably a£ a time before Mr. Morgan became a member of this Parliament. The allegation was that for each of these services, the honorable member for Darling was paid £2 10s. in cash. In relation to this charge, the honorable member for Darling, being in the House, immediately after the honorable member for Reid had concluded his speech, rose in his place and made a personal explanation and a denial. But the honorable member for Darling knows, as we all know, that no charge is necessarily completely disposed of by the making of the charge, and the making of a denial. There will still be left those who will say that the charge was right, just as there will be very many friends of the honorable member, naturally, who will say “Well, I accept his denial”. But for the sake of the honorable member for Darling as well as for everybody else, that kind of charge should be laid to rest, only by a competent examination, because we know perfectly well that if a competent examination showed that this charge was untrue, then that would dispose of it, and, thereafter, no man may be heard to level it. But so long as it rests in assertion and counter-assertion, the charge will continue to be made.
The third allegation of the honorable member for Reid was made against the Commonwealth Security Service. In effect, it was that the security police, having investigated that this form of immigration - that is, refugee immigration - had been a profitable and an unsavoury racket - again I quote the words used - no action was taken because of the attitude of the department. That is a very serious allegation against the department. It is an allegation which involves not merely the political head but also responsible officers of the department. The gist of that charge is that the department, as a department, did not want to have an unsavoury racket investigated, for reasons of its own, even though the security police had advised that such a racket existed. I want to emphasize that I am not supporting any of these charges. I am standing completely neutral in the matter. I know nothing except that these charges have been made, and that it is the duty of all of us to ensure that the problems raised by them shall be disposed of, brought to finality, put beyond all question in the public mind.
The next charges were made by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) against the honorable member for Reid. Of those charges, I think it will be agreed that one has already been the subject of some investigation, and that another is perhaps in very general terms. Nevertheless, I shall recount them. The first charge against the honorable member for Reid was, that he had corruptly received money from transactions associated with tin hare racing and the use of fruit machines. I understand that a royal commission was appointed by the Government of New South Wales in 1932, and that it dealt with certain allegations that had been made in respect of those two activities and presented its report; consequently, I am not suggesting that that matter is susceptible of duplication. But the second charge was that £20,000 had been paid as blackmail to the honorable member for Reid, while he was Premier of New South “Wales, by a big industry against which he had threatened to pass repressive legislation, and that the Minister making the charge knew the identity of the industry concerned. It may be said that this House is not, on the face of it, concerned with charges against the head of a government of a State. But the position is quite different if, after a substantial interval of years, charges are made in this House against a member of it, in respect of some conduct of which he is alleged to have been guilty years ago, and which, if sustained, would utterly disqualify him from representing the people in this Parliament.
The third charge - this is a much more general statement, and I am not suggesting that it lends itself to argument - was that the career of .the honorable member for Reid as Premier of New South “Wales was dishonorable and corrupt. I have said that general statements are frequently made. But the specific allegation that £20,000 had been levied by way of blackmail on a specific and nameable industry, is the kind of charge which cannot rest, and which a healthy public opinion will not permit to rest.
The fourth charge made by the Minister was, that after an attack had been made on Mr. Morgan by a Minister in the Parliament in 1941, a file in the Security Service had mysteriously disappeared and had come into the hands of ii “ crook “ in Sydney named Fitzpatrick, who was campaign director for Mr. Lang; that there was a venal officer in the Security Service who had handed the file out so that it could be used against Mr. Morgan. As I listened to the debate lastweek, I gathered that the Minister himself would like an investigation of that matter ; because, as he said, he hoped that an investigation would disclose who was the venal officer who had handed out this file. I thoroughly agree with him. If in some department there is an officer, corruptible and corrupted, who has handed) out a file for use for political purposes,, then let h-im be disclosed; let the facts appear.
We have everything to gain, as an institution, by the most far-reaching and searching examination of this most remarkable set of charges. All of these charges may be true. They may be false. They may have some truth and some falsehood in them. We do not know. But we are entitled to ask, and I press it upon the Prime Minister, that an investigation of them should be made. We do not take sides in this matter. All of us in this House who are affected, and who know the honorable members concerned, will sincerely hope that all of these charges are untrue. But it is quite certain that they cannot go uninvestigated; because, if charges of this specific kind become unchallenged commonplace* of parliamentary debate, then the Parliament itself will have taken a very big.
Step in the direction of destroying its own quality and its own authority.
– I associate myself and my party with the motion submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). It is astonishing that the Government should be so unmindful of the desirability of maintaining the integrity of this Parliament that it has not, ere this, instituted a thorough and searching investigation of its own accord. I am sure that any one who accepts responsibility as a trustee for the people of Australia in this Parliament must recognize the necessity for refuting so far as is humanly possible, any allegation of corruption, and any other allegations which may tend to undermine our constitutional authority. We on this side of the House recognize and accept our responsibility in that connexion. We consider that we would be accessories after the fact if we did not endeavour to secure an investigation of the allegations which have been made in this House. We cannot remain silent in regard to them. There is no need to traverse in detail the matters which preceded the launching of this motion by the Leader of the Opposition. It will be sufficient if I draw attention to the gravity of the charges that have been made, and the absence of any ambiguity in the language in which they were couched. First, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) alleged, in definite and emphatic terms, that the cx-member for Reid, Mr. Morgan, had been guilty of corruption in the direction which he indicated. The honorable member, in unambiguous terms, associated the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) with those charges. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), who was in charge of the House at the time, made counter allegations in connexion with the political conduct and, indeed, the public stewardship, of the present honorable member for Reid. He stated, that he knew for a. fact that the honorable member, while Premier of New South Wales, had been paid £20,000 as blackmail by a big industry, against which he had threatened to pass repressive legislation, and that he, the Minister, who presumably was representing the Government in the House at the time, knew the identity of the industry concerned. Such matters coming to the notice of a responsible Opposition cannot be allowed to pass without examination. I regard the .allegations of the Minister for Immigration in respect to the Security Service as most serious, particularly in the -time of transition from war to peace. Unless the matter be cleared up no honorable member can rely on the trustworthiness of that service, in the light of the Minister’s statement that after an attack had been made in the Parliament on the then member for Reid, Mr. M’.organ, in 1941, by a Minister of the then Government, the file mysteriously got into the hands of a person in Sydney named Fitzpatrick, who was campaign director for Mr. Lang, who now represents the Reid division. That is a charge which, in the interests of the security of Australia and the good name and trustworthiness of a department of state, cannot be allowed to rest. Therefore, I cannot understand why the Government did not immediately recognize its responsibility as the custodian of the good name of the Parliament, and institute a searching inquiry into what cannot be regarded as a trifling allegation.
I associate the Australian Country party with the motion now before the chamber, and urge the appointment of a royal commission to investigate the allegations outlined by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I have no quarrel with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) for bringing this motion before the House, but I desire at once to tell the House that in respect of the misuse of the government document or file referred to by the right honorable gentleman, inquiries of the (most stringent character have been under way for a considerable time. The inquiries are still proceeding, and I do not wish to prevent the officers connected with them from completing their task. I shall not deal with the charges in the same order as they were raised by the Leader of the Opposition, but with the five charges after I have related the facts. One thing which should be kept clearly in mind is the power of the Commonmonwealth in connexion with royal commissions. Broadly speaking, the Commonwealth has power to set up an authority to inquire into matters of Commonwealth legislation and administration. Every honorable member who is experienced in decisions of the courts knows that to be the case. There are great limitations under the Royal Commissions Act. Before setting up a body such as has been suggested, we must see that it is to inquire into a matter affecting Commonwealth legislation or administration. Some of these matters clearly do relate to Commonwealth administration. I shall deal with that point specifically when I refer to the several matters mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition. I pass on now to relate the facts. In June, 1941, during the regime of the Menzies Government, the matter of alleged trafficking in permits by certain persons was referred to in this House, and the name of the firm with which the then member for Reid, Mr. Morgan, was associated was mentioned by the late Mr. Collins who at that time was Assistant Minister in the Menzies Government. On the 20th June, 1941, he made a statement which, in many respects, was repeated recently by the present member for Reid (Mr. Lang). I. shall, not repeat each allegation that was made, but substantially the charges were the same as those made by the honorable member for Reid last week. At the time the then honorable member for Reid made an explanation, after which the acting Minister said, “ I shall produce the evidence “. Those facts are recorded in Hansard, volume 167, at pages 225-226. Tt is curious to note that on that occasion, also, the references by the then Assistant Minister were made in reply to some counter charge by some one who had nothing to do with the matter. At the time that the Assistant Minister made the statement referred to in this House he, or the Government, had in its possession two reports made by the authority which was the predecessor of the Security Service. Honorable members will recall that the Security Service was not established until March, 1942, after Japan had entered the war. The previous organization was known as the M.P’.I. section ; it was a combination of the Police Force with Military Intelligence. These two reports were made on the 28th August, 1940, and the 2nd February, 1941, and therefore were in existence before the then acting Minister made his statement in this House. Last week, when the honorable member for Reid asked for the production of papers in connexion with certain persons brought to Australia on Strathmore, he introduced a matter having no relation to the present administration of the Department of Immigration, although it had relation to the administration of that department when the Menzies Government was in power. The only way _ in which the matters referred can have any relation l.o the motion before the House is that as something allegedly took place five or six years ago, presumably similar things may be taking place to-day. I shall not read details of these reports, but obviously the Assistant Minister at the time based his remarks on them. As I have said, he promised to produce the evidence, but nothing was ever produced in reference to the charges against Mr. Morgan. I shall show this document to the Leader of the Opposition. The first thing to establish is that, the document, which did not belong to the Security Service at all,, went to the Security Service when it was formed in 1942.
– For the purpose of an investigation!?
– No; it went there’ for the purpose of custody. The matter had been brought up, and had been disposed of. Nothing had been done in connexion with the so-called racket. I repeat that the matter related to the administration of the government which preceded the Curtin Government. It must be supposed that there was no call for action, no suggestion of illegality, or anything of that kind.
I turn now to what is a most extraordinary and interesting aspect of this matter, because it will show that, far from there having been no inquiry, the matter has been the subject of long and anxious inquiries because of the improper use that was made of certain material. The reports cover a period in- 1940-41, which was prior to the attack made on Mr. Morgan, an attack which was never followed up. The M.P.I, went out of existence, and its documents, or at any rate copies of them, came into the possession of the Security Service in 1942. Some time later, Mr. Morgan had a bitter public controversy with Mr. Fitzpatrick, of Bankstown, Sydney. Indeed, honorable members will recall that once or twice Mr. Morgan mentioned this man’s name in the House in connexion with certain alleged breaches of the law. Arising out of the controversy, a prosecution was launched against Mr. Fitzpatrick, and he was convicted for certain breaches of the law in regard to matters which have nothing to do with the subject now under discussion. Thereupon, Mr. Fitzpatrick busied himself seeing what reprisals he could take. According to Mr. Morgan, and according to what the investigators were informed by other persons, he did have in his possession a copy of this old report of 1940-41.
– Fitzpatrick had the document ?
– Not the original, 1 think, but a copy.
– He said so publicly.
– As my colleague points out, he publicly stated that he had a copy of the report. Indeed, it was obvious to the officers who investigated the matter that he must have had a copy, and when they confronted him he did not deny it.
– Why was he not summoned.
– For what?
– For being in possession of a stolen document.
– It was not a stolen document. The conclusion reached by the investigators, who inquired into this extraordinary matter, was that some official, who had access to this document, made a copy of it, and gave it to Fitzpatrick. I have no doubt that it was a true copy. The investigators have been busy trying to find the person who supplied the copy, but it is not easy. Every person in the Security Service and in allied services has been examined. Documents have been studied and typewriters have been examined, but these skilled investigators have had to report that they are unable to find who is responsible. The Crown Law officers say that it is not possible to proceed against Fitzpatrick on the facts as known.
– Is this the same Fitzpatrick against whom Mr. Morgan made certain charges?
– Yes, and he is the person whose operations were investigated by the War Expenditure Committee. As for that, an action is pending in the High Court now against Fitzpatrick and other persons for an alleged attempt to extract money from the Commonwealth. The matters to which that charge is related were ventilated by Mr. Morgan and examined by the War Expenditure Committee.
– The Minister for Immigration said that this man claimed that he had disgorged £62,000 to the income tax authorities. That needs to be investigated.
– That is not related to any of the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition. As I have said, the investigators have been unable to find who provided Fitzpatrick with the copy of the document. Indeed, it is not likely that it would be possible to find such a traitor unless his name were disclosed by
Fitzpatrick. It is quite certain that he is no longer in the Commonwealth service, because all persons now in the service who could possibly have done this have been cleared by the investigators. At one period during the war, the Security Service was staffed by temporary officers to the number of 600 or 700; now there are only nineteen or twenty. During the election campaign, Mr. Morgan found that the reports in question, or the substance of them, were used against him. That is not disputed. The honorable member for Reid pointed it out, and it was also stated by the Minister for Immigration. Certain election pamphlets are without the necessary imprint, and some persons have been convicted for the offence of circulating pamphlets that did no bear an imprint. So far as I know - and this is supported by the investigators - the pamphlet is the same in substance as the report, except for the heading, and we can understand, of course, that in the preparation of a pamphlet intended to be damaging, the heading would not be likely to be in the interests of the person attacked. The pamphlet is headed, “Police report on C. A. A. Morgan, M.H.R. Connection with Refugee Racket “.
– Are the extracts accurate ?
– Yes. There is no doubt that Fitzpatrick obtained a copy of the document in an unauthorized and improper way. There is no direct evidence of that so far, but inquiries are still going on. With the motive which he had for injuring Mr. Morgan, Fitzpatrick was probably a party to securing this document, as the Minister for Immigration pointed out.
It is an extraordinary thing that in a debate dealing with the arrival of certain immigrants on Strathmore, and the administration of the department by the Minister for Immigration, reference should be made to what Mr. Morgan is alleged to have done on behalf of European refugees before the war began, and reported upon in a document prepared away back in 1940-41. The pamphlet itself shows that all the events which form the subject of the charges took place before the outbreak of the war, and before
Mr. Morgan was even a member of Parliament. He was at that time practising as a solicitor. The name of the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) was also mentioned during the debate, and he made his explanation- at once. The report bears out entirely what was stated in this chamber by Mr. Clark last week: he had nothing to do with the matter except that he forwarded to the department some supporting applications made by his father, who was not a member of Parliament at all. Therefore, why should the Government be asked to appoint a royal commission to investigate the matter? The charges made by the honorable member for Reid against Mr. Morgan are repetitions of the charges made by Mr. Collins five, or six, years ago. In view of what I have said, it is quite extraordinary to dredge up those matters now and hold an inquiry into them when they were known to the responsible Minister at the time the charges were first made, and, apparently, it was decided to do nothing about them. Secondly, the Leader of the Opposition brought in the name of the honorable member for Darling. However, insofar as that aspect is concerned, the honorable member for Darling himself immediately made an explanation on the subject when his name was mentioned by the honorable member for Reid. Thirdly, the Leader of the Opposition emphasized that the Security Service, having reported that a profitable racket was being operated, no action was taken to investigate the matter. He said that that aspect was most serious. The Government of the day could not have regarded those matters as of great importance, because no action was then taken. Those reports were in that Government’s hands in August, 1940, and later in February, 1941. That was before the Curtin Government assumed office.
– I did not make the charge against the department; it had been made by an honorable member.
– -I do not suggest that the Leader of the Opposition did so ; and I have no complaint with the way he has dealt with the matter. But these things should be explained. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned one aspect of the matter in a question which he asked some days ago, and I intended to make a full statement. .Therefore, I am glad of this opportunity to deal fully with it. I repeat that the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition that no action was taken even after the Security Service had reported that a profitable racket was being operated is negatived by the fact that the matter could not have been regarded as serious by the government of the day, because the reference made to Mr. Morgan by the Assistant Minister at the time was not followed up until Mr. Fitzpatrick, Morgan’s personal, or political, enemy, or both, saw that the document was carefully preserved and suborned some officer to obtain it for him. At any rate he secured the document improperly, and kept it in order to injure Mr. Morgan. [Extension of time granted’]. The Leader of the Opposition has mentioned five possible subject-matters. I have dealt with three of them. I do not say that they are not. serious ; but if they are serious now, they were equally serious in 1940 and 1941 in the critical days of the war. They were dealt with departmentally, and, apparently, disposed of to the satisfaction of those responsible. The fifth matter referred to by the Leader of the Opposition relates to the speech made by the Minister for Immigration concerning the theft, or disappearance, of a report. I have already stated the facts with regard to that. There is no evidence that the report was stolen. That document is still in existence; but, no doubt, some one supplied a copy of it to Fitzpatrick. The fourth possible matter of investigation mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition is covered by the facts mentioned which are serious from certain angles; but they are the facts, and they cannot be gainsaid. They are still being investigated, although, frankly, it would appear that it may not be possible to find out who made the report available to Fitzpatrick. The Leader of the Opposition also referred to certain imputations made by the Minister for Immigration against the honorable member for Reid. At the outset of my remarks I pointed out that the Commonwealth’s authority to investigate by a royal commission is limited to matters of Commonwealth legislation and administration. The matters cited by the Leader of the Opposition relate to the administration of the Government of New SouthWales; and if there is to be any investigation of that administration the authority to conduct it is not the Commonwealth but the State of New South Wales. For those reasons the Government rejects the request made by the Leader of the Opposition.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear).
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the negative.
Declaration of Urgency.
that the Estimates of Expenditure are of an urgent nature; (i) that the resolutions preliminary to the introduction of the Appropriation Bill are urgent resolutions; and (c) that the Appropriation Bill is an urgent bill.
Question put -
That the Estimates be considered of an urgent nature, that the Resolutions be considered Urgent Resolutions, and that the Appropriation Bill be considered an Urgent Bill.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Allotment of Time.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the time allotted for the consideration of the remainder of the Estimates, the resolutions and the stages of the Appropriation Bill, be as follows: -
Department of .External Affairs, Department of the Treasury, AttorneyGeneral’s Department - until 5.30 p.m.
Department of the Interior, Department of Works and Housing, Department of CiVil Aviation, Department of Trade and Customs, Department of Health, Department of Commerce and Agriculture - until 8.30 p.m.
Department of Social Services, Department of Supply and Shipping, Department of External Territories, Department of Immigration - until 9.15 p.m.
Department of Labour and National Service, Department of Transport, Department of Information, Department of Post-war Reconstruction - until 10.15 p.m.
Defence and Service Departments, Production Departments, Reciprocal Lendlease, Re-establishment and Repatriation, Lend-lease Settlement, United Nations Relief and Rehabiliation Administration, Subsidies, Miscellaneous - until 11.15 p.m.
Miscellaneous services, Refunds of revenue, Advance to the Treasurer, War (1914-18) Services - until 11.30 p.m.
Commonwealth Railways, PostmasterGeneral’s Department - until 12.30 a.m. ( Wednesday ) .
Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, Papua-New Guinea.. Norfolk Island - until 1 a.m. (Wednesday). Resolutions and Appropriation Bill.
Supply Resolution and adoption of resolution, Ways and Means Resolution and adoption of resolution, and Appropriation Bill, all stages - until 1 .30 a.m. (Wednesday ) .
– The object of the guillotine, of course, is to truncate the debate, and to distribute the time allowed for the discussion, in what is thought to be an equitable fashion, on a series of departments and the subsequent bill. I shall not indulge in a universal condemnation of the use of the guillotine on the Estimates, because I have heard of it before. It has been used by all governments, but I venture to suggest that the time allowed for the discussion on this occasion is the briefest in the history of this Parliament. We have before us Estimates running into hundreds of millions of pounds, and in the case of some groups of departments - for instance the Departments of the Interior, Works and Housing, Civil Aviation, Trade and Customs, Health and Commerce and
Agriculture - the time allowed for discussion is only one hour, which means of course that the time allowed to each side of the committee is approximately half an horn: In other words, perhaps two or three members at the most from each side of the committee will have an opportunity to speak on the proposed votes for those departments. There are various items upon which private members of this House have an opportunity to discuss matters not related to some particular bill. One of these is the debate on the Address-in-Reply, which, this year, was truncated in tragic but memorable circumstances that honorable members will well recall..
– That was entirely the fault of honorable members opposite.
– For the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) now to say that it was our fault that the Address-in-Reply debate was truncated is very rich. He was not in the chamber. As a matter of fact the sudden end of the debate followed an almost paralytic seizure by Ministers under an attack by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang). On Thursday last, under normal procedure, honorable members would have had an opportunity to discuss their grievances, but being urged not to do so because all the matters involved could be raised on the Estimates, the House passed a self-denying ordinance foregoing that privilege. Consequently, honorable members were entitled to believe that when the Estimates were before the committee they would have an opportunity to address themselves to the various problems. Now, we find that under this time-table, the discussion on some items is limited to only a quarter of an hour - that means seven and a. half minutes for each side - and that by 1.30 a.m. to-morrow approval will have to be given for the expenditure of £440,000,000. I repeat that I am not quarrelling with the use of the guillotine, but I do say that the time allowed under this motion is quite inadequate when one considers the magnitude of the problems involved.
– I cannot accept the time-table provided for in this motion without protest. The Parliament is being asked to consider between now and 1.30 a.m. to-morrow - a little more than eight hours - expenditure aggregating £440,000,000. That in itself is bad enough, and would be sufficient to indicate the irresponsibility of the Government, but it is aggravated by the complete inadequacy of the time that is allotted to the various departments. I assume that we can regard this limited opportunity for discussion as an indication of the Government’s assessment of the importance of these departments. For instance, the time allowed for the discussion of the Departments of the Interior, Works and Housing, Civil Aviation, Trade and Customs, Health, au.i Commerce and Agriculture, is only one hour. I consider that the importance of these departments, and the amount of expenditure that is involved in their administration, and I may adel, maladministration, warrants the maximum and not the minimum time being allocated to the discussion of them. We find also that the time allocated for the discussion of a group of departments including the Department of Defence, the other service departments, the Production departments, Reciprocal Lend Lease, Re-establishment and Repatriation, Lend Lease Settlement, Unrra Subsidies and Miscellaneous, is only one hour. The whole proposal that consideration of the manner in which the gigantic sum of £440,000,000 is to be expended should be limited drastically is a disgrace to this Parliament.
– Had this efficient use of the guillotine been established at the time of the French Revolution, I am sure that the history of the world would have been entirely different. I compliment the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) on having brought the guillotine to perfection. Parliament met a month ago to-morrow. In the first week of the session, the Government showed quite clearly that it did not know how to conduct its own business. Then, the Prime Minister made a proposal, entirely off his own bat, unless he was prompted by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), that Parliament should meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thurs- days and Fridays of each week; but the right honorable gentleman apparently changed his mind, because on the first Tuesday on which we were supposed to sit, Parliament did not meet at all. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) said that we had eight hours in which to consider the Estimates. I am afraid that my right honorable friend was forgetting to deduct the two hours between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. when the sitting is suspended for the dinner adjournment. Actually, the time allowed for discussion is only six hours, and it is utterly impossible for any reasoned consideration to be given to the important questions involved in that short period. It is quite true that the Government is late with its Budget and Estimates, but whose fault is that? Who made the decision to go to the country without first having brought down a budget - in fact, without any financial showdown at all, except the brief financial statement placed before us by the Prime Minister?
– Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the subject-matter before the Chair.
– I contend, Mr. Speaker, that what I am saying is germane to this argument for the simple reason-
– Order ! The Chair has ruled otherwise.
– The Estimates are late not because the Opposition decided that they should be late, but because the Government, in its wisdom, decided that they should be introduced in November instead of July or some other earlier month. It is quite obvious that the Government is most anxious that the Parliament should rise before Christmas. The position is almost paralleled by the experience during the war, when some honorable members showed that they would rather postpone the war than miss the train to Sydney.
– Order ! This has no relation to the time-table.
– The time allowed for the discussion of the various departments is utterly inadequate, and the debate will be a travesty if this motion be agreed to. Instead of bothering about this motion atall, the Prime Minister should have simply moved “ that the Estimates be taken as a “whole”. “Why make the debate a travesty? The Prime Minister knows well that there can be no competent consideration of the Estimates in the time allowed under this motion, and that the better way, if time is so pressing, would be to do the thing thoroughly instead of taking so many bites at what, after all, is a very important cherry.
.- This is the most fantastic time limit that has ever been proposed for the consideration of the Estimates. Many budgets have been introduced into this Parliament since federation, but I venture to say that none has called for such a close examination as this. We had important hudgets during the war years it is true, but in the very circumstances of those years, we knew that the service departments, which included the bulk of the intended expenditure, could not be examined in detail. The budget provides for more than four times the expenditure provided for in the last peace-time budget. It is ludicrous to require a deliberative assembly to examine in detail within six hours the proposed expenditure of £440,000,000. The honorable member for Barker (‘Mr. Archie Cameron) was logical when he said that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), instead of bringing down the guillotine in the way proposed, should have moved “ that the question be now put “ and been done with it. Let us have a direct decision. We know that no alterations of the Estimates will be allowed, but let us not make a farce of what purports to be a deliberative assembly by adopting a time-table under which no opportunity will be given for a useful examination of the Estimates or for explanation of items by the Ministers concerned. If, at a quick calculation, each Minister were to take ten or fifteen minutes to explain to honorable members some of the details of the proposed expenditure by their departments, no time would be left for one private member to even ask a question. It would be a lot better for the Government to do the clear-cut thing. Let us have a vote now and be done with the matter in order that the six hours in which we are to consider the Estimates may be preserved for deliberative examination of some, other business. We could usefully expend those six hours on debating the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Bill. I hope that the debate on that measure is not to be curtailed as it is proposed to curtail the consideration of the Estimates.
.- The prime and historic responsibility of any parliament is to give close examination to the financial provisions made in any year. It is elected to protect the public against undue exaction by the Government, and, although it is true, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has said, that the guillotine has been used by all parties in this House from time to time, I remind him, as I remind the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), that one has to go back to 1938 before one finds an occasion on which in this House the guillotine has been used when considering the Estimates. Even throughout the war, with its pressing problems, urgencies and responsibilities, this Parliament was never denied the opportunity of examining the Estimates in detail. It may be true that we had to examine them under unsatisfactory conditions during all-night sittings, but, at least, those who did want to obtain information on items of the Estimates were able to do so, even though at an inconvenient hour. But this Government, with the war behind it, says that we must regard as urgent the passage of these Estimates. It may be that Supply is running out. In that case, the House would gladly give Supply and allow deferment of the Estimates until time was available to examine them in detail. No justification has been advanced by the Government for asking the committee to regard the Estimates as urgent. I emphasize that there is a greater need to examine them in detail now than at any time during the war. We know that it was impossible to give them detailed examination when we were at war. The service votes were then lumped together. Ministers, for security reasons, were not prepared to give us details of the items. Now, when the Parliament, for the first time since the outbreak of war, ought to have the opportunity of examining the Estimates in detail, without reservation on the part of Ministers, it is to be denied that opportunity. That reduces the Parliament to a rubber stamp of whatever the Executive may have decided. It denies the elected representatives of the people any opportunity of expressing criticism of the continuance of expenditure which necessitates the imposition of taxes which are higher than those imposed anywhere else in the world. It makes a farce of our parliamentary institution, and every selfrespecting parliamentarian in this place should resist the Government’s proposal.
.- According to the time-table presented by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), discussion of the External Affairs Department, involving a vote of £750,000, the Treasury £2,740,000 and the AttorneyGeneral’s Department £500,000, will expire at 5.30 p.m., that is, 40 minutes hence. We have not yet even had the opportunity of commencing that discussion.
Government Supporters. - Whose fault is that?
– The Government is responsible for the conduct of the Parliament. We have been here for about a month. Is it suggested that the Government, which has complete control of the business and of determining how long any debate shall last, should not have been able to manage the affairs of the Parliament in such a way as to permit honorable members to examine in detail the Estimates, the most important annual job that they are sent here to do. Nobody appears to have more contempt for the parliamentary institution, I regret to say, than the Prime Minister.
– I say that deliberately, because no one disregards the rights of the Opposition and wields the big stick on members more than he. His attitude is, “ I have the numbers ! Take it or leave it! What are you going to do about it?” That is the attitude of a Hitler.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to return to the subject before the Chair.
My. ANTHONY. - It is a disgrace to the Parliament that the most important business of the whole year should be rushed through in a few hours, and that but a few minutes are to be allowed for consideration of some departments. With other honorable members of the Opposition, I join in protesting against the Government’s action.
.- I point out, without going into the details of the Estimates, which one cannot do on this motion, that hundreds of millions of pounds of expenditure is intended to be passed within a matter of hours. The proposed defence vote alone is over £200,000,000, and only a few minutes is to be allowed to consider it. The Cabinet consists of nineteen Ministers, four of whom deal with defence, namely, the Minister for Defence, the Minister for the Army, the Minister for the Navy, and the Minister for Air. Our defence system is falling apart. The four Ministers connected with defence are dealing in salvage. In the stilly hours of the night we are to have but a few minutes to ask them to declare their policy. They never have declared it. I know that we shall not hear it to-night. The people should know that we are being denied the opportunity of disclosing the squandering of public money that is going on. The “ squandermaniacs “ are in the Ministry. We may as well abdicate completely to the Caucus. Things hammered out in the Labour party room become the policy of the country. There is indecent haste to adjourn the Parliament a few days hence for the Christmas holidays, regardless of industrial trouble and the general state of .affairs in the country. To ask the Parliament to agree to the Estimates and allow the Government to continue the squandering of millions of pounds, as it has been doing, is unfair to the democracy. The Government’s application of the guillotine in this way is reminiscent of Robespierre lopping off heads during the French revolution; he could scarcely have been more indecent than the Government is on this occasion. The Prime Minister ought to double the time allotted and give Ministers an opportunity to say something about their administrative policies; if he did so, we would listen to them in silence. However, I venture to forecast that not one Minister will say how the money proposed to be voted to the departments under his control will be expended. The Government will just use its majority to have the Estimates agreed to, and the people will pay.
.- I oppose the Government’s proposal, although, in general, I am in favour of the use of the guillotine in such a way as will enable a measure to be properly discussed by all honorable members who wish to take part in the debate. Had the Government wished to save time, it should have applied the guillotine last week. Each proposed vote in the Estimates could then have been allotted adequate time for consideration, and we co ill d have been given an opportunity to discuss it properly. In view of the brief time which will be at our disposal, I suggest to the Prime Minister that, instead of allotting one half-hour to each department, which would permit probably only two honorable members - one from the Government side of the chamber and one from the Opposition side - to speak in that period, it would be better to permit the whole of the Estimates to be discussed at ally time within the full period provided. By the means I suggest, any honorable member who has the good fortune to be called from the Chair and who wishes to speak on some special matter will be able to do so. This is a reasonable and constructive suggestion, and I hope that the Prime Minister will accede to it when he realizes how very limited the opportunities of honorable members to speak on individual subjects will otherwise be. He must remember that the expenditure of hundreds of millions of pounds is proposed. Furthermore, I suggest that, in view of the limited period that will be available to us, Ministers should not occupy time by speaking unnecessarily, thereby preventing private members from submitting their views regarding proposed expenditure affecting many important industries. Finally, I always understood that the guillotine was used, as a general rule, to prevent late sittings of the Parliament. I consider that, when the guillotine is applied in this way, the committee should report progress not later than 11 p.m. The debate could be completed to-morrow. It is unfair to apply the guillotine and still ask the committee to continue sitting after midnight. I hope that the Prime Minister will accept my suggestions, which would expedite the conduct of business and provide more reasonable opportunities for honorable members to deal with matters that they have in mind.
– Every suggestion that the right honorable member has made was considered and rejected.
.- In objecting to the use of the guillotine and to the times proposed to be allotted, 1 offer a suggestion to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) which would give honorable members a better chance of discussing urgent matters before the debate ends. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) has suggested that Ministers should not reply to questions put by honorable members during the discussion of the Estimates. I do not agree with that proposal. Any honorable member who asks a Minister to give an explanation is entitled to receive one. Therefore, I ask the Prime Minister to instruct his Ministers to supply any information that honorable members may seek. Honorable members should not be asked to submit to this restriction .of time without being given an opportunity to obtain answers to questions which they may ask. All of us wish to refer to important matters. We are critical of the administration of the Government, particularly in regard to defence. We have appealed to Ministers again and again to inform us of the Government’s policy for the future defence of Australia. Apparently the Government has no such policy. Our present Navy is the smallest that Australia has had. We have fruitlessly attempted to obtain information from the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan) about the Government’s plans. The Air Force-
– Order! The honorable member must not continue on those lines.
– Beca use of the importance of the matters which I have mentioned, it is vital for us to have sufficient time in which to refer to them during the consideration of the Estimates. I object to the Government’s proposal to curtail discussion. I ask the Prime Minister to reconsider the schedule which he has prepared. The time provided is inadequate. To ask us to agree to proposed votes totalling over £404,000,000, with the exception of the votes for the Parliament and the Prime Minister’s Department, which have already been agreed to, is preposterous. I ask the Prime Minister to amend the time-table so that wemay be able to consider the Estimates in detail. If not, will he ensure that matters raised by honorable members during the discussion in committee will be dealt with adequately by Ministers by means of statements in the House or communications addressed to honorable members after the debate has ended ?
– Order ! The time allotted for discussion of the motion has expired.
Question put -
That the motion (vide page 859) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 29th November (vide page 839).
Department of External Affairs.
Proposed vote, £756,000.
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed vote, £2,742,400.
Proposed vote, £488,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
.- In the Estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, provision is made for a Commonwealth Investigation Service. Under “ Administrative “ provision is also made for the “ Administration of Law at the Seat of Government “. This afternoon, in another debate, attention was directed to charges made in this chamber against certain members of the House of Representatives, and I direct the attention of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to sections 44 and 45 of the Constitution for the purpose of presenting my case. During the earlier debate to-day, we heard the Attorney-General’s rather weak and vague reply. I ask the right honorable gentleman what are the functions of the Commonwealth Investigation Service? If an honorable member of this House makes a charge against another honorable member, is it not within the functions of his department to investigate that charge?
During a debate last week, the name of the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) was mentioned, and I point out that section 45 of the Constitution provides that a member of the Parliament shall vacate his seat, if he directly or indirectly accepts or agrees to accept any fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth or for services rendered in the Parliament to any person or State. Consequently, it is important from my stand-point for me to know what are the functions of the Commonwealth Investigation Service in relation to a charge such as the one levelled against the honorable member that, while a member of this Parliament and discharging his public duties, he did receive a fee. The honorable member will understand that when I repeat that charge, 1 do not in any way associate myself with it, but I point out the important principle involved, namely, that when such charges are made in the House the AttorneyGeneral’s .Department should investigate them. It is not an answer to say that the charge relates to something which took place four or five years ago. If, in fact, a “charge is proved to be groundless, or the department mentioned cannot examine it, it seems to me” that, somewhere else in the Estimates, we should make provision for a committee of privileges of this House to deal with an honorable member who makes an unfounded charge. On more than one occasion, we have heard men, in the heat of debate, make general charges, but sometimes an honorable member, with cold calculation, has made unwarranted allegations against persons both inside and outside this House. Last week, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) made an allegation which, under sections 44 and 45 of the Constitution, the Attorney-Generals’ Department should investigate. .I say deliberately that, in the honorable member’s own interests, the charge must, be investigated. If it be established that there is, as I believe, no foundation for such a charge, ways and means should exist to enable the Parliament to deal with people who make such allegations in this House.
The honorable member for Reid, and the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) made certain allegations. The honorable member for Reid, though a newcomer to this House, is an “old hand “ at Parliamentary procedure. Upon both honorable gentlemen, there rests a serious obligation to measure their allegations in accordance with the facts, as they know them. This afternoon, the Attorney-General gave a hopelessly inadequate reply to the allegations. There were three charges o.f corruption. First a charge of corruption against members of this House. Secondly, charges of corruption against the honorable member for Darling and the honorable member for . Reid. And thirdly, charges of corruption against the administration of a department. As all those matters appertain to this Parliament, it was utterly ridiculous for the AttorneyGeneral to say that they did not touch the administration o.f the Commonwealth law.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Clark).Order! I do not desire, in view of the introduction of the guillotine, to interrupt the honorable member, but I remind him that he may make only a passing reference to a debate that has been concluded.
– The Parliament should have ways and means of investigating charges that are made in the Parliament. It is very easy for an honorable member to rise in his place and, under the cloak of absolute privilege, make unfounded charges against some other person. For my part, I unreservedly accept the denial given by the honorable member for Darling, but, at the moment, I am dealing with the principle. If his denial be accurate, the Parliament should be empowered to deal with the honorable member for Reid for having made the allegation. When charges of corruption are levelled in this House, and the AttorneyGeneral takes no action, although his function is to ensure the observance of the law, the Parliament suffers degradation. If the Attorney-General’s Department lacks the requisite authority, the Government should appoint a committee of privileges, with special power to investigate the charges of corruption or misconduct made by honorable members in this House against other honorable members or private citizens. Therefore, I ask the Attorney-General to inform me what are the functions of the Commonwealth Investigation Service regarding allegations made by honorable members in this House - allegations which are denied - particularly when they relate to charges of corruption against other honorable members and public departments? Allegations of the kind that we have heard in this chamber during the last week should not be made without regard to the seriousness of the effect upon the people against whom they were directed. I urge the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to consider the appointment of a committee of privileges with power not only to investigate any charge made in tl.i is Parliament, but also to punish any person who, without foundation and reasonable investigation beforehand, made the allegation.
.- I take this opportunity to mention a matter which I believe will have the sympathetic attention of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley). It shows how anomalies can creep into our taxation administration, and the need for straightening them out. The sales tax operates on imports at the point at which they enter Australia. Two young Englishmen, members of the Royal Air Force who served with a Spitfire squadron in Australia, decided to return to and settle in. this country when they were demobilized. When they went to Australia House, they were told that they could not secure shipping bertha for some time. They decided to purchase two secondhand aircraft and fly them to Australia, accompanied by their families. In a letter which they had received from Australia House, they were advised that upon their arrival in this country they would not have to pay any duty on their aircraft. Their surprise can be imagined when they were notified by letter from the department, and verbally by a customs officer after they had been here for a few days, that they had to pay sales tax at the rate of 12J per cent, on the second-hand aircraft in which they had flown here. They had not the money with which to pay the tax; consequently, they considered whether they should fly back to England or on to New Zealand. I took the matter up with the Treasury department months ago, but have not yet had a reply from it. I met these two men on Albury railway station last night. They are living in a tent on an- aerodrome. Had they waited until next year, they .could have obtained a free passage to Australia as ex-servicemen. They were put to considerable expense in the purchase of the aircraft, and petrol for the flight to Australia. It was not an easy matter for them to fly a light, singleengined aircraft, carrying their families and two of their friends. I can let the Treasurer have all the documents in connexion with the case. The Treasury estimates and those of the Department of Trade and Customs make provision for the remission of tax in special circumstances. The Government should make the ex gratia gesture which I suggested to the Treasury department, but which it refused to make.
– If the honora’ble member will let me have the details of the matter, I shall consider his request. In reply to the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), I point out that there is provision for a committee of privileges. I shall have a look at the point he has raised.
– I support the remarks of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) in relation to the Security Service. The committee should not grant supply to the Attorney-General’s Department until it has been placed in possession of all the facts in connexion with the working of the department. Honorable members should insist upon knowing who was responsible for certain papers having been removed from the custody of the department and placed in the possession of an. outsider. They should also demand a complete cleaning up of the department. I consider that it needs such an overhaul. Early last week, I placed on the noticepaper a question directed to the AttorneyGeneral and reading -
Is it a fact, as contained in press reports, that extracts from a stolen security file were the subject of an anonymous pamphlet in the recent Federal election campaign? If so, has any inquiry been held into the circumstances as to how the security file came into the hands of an unauthorized person, and has any action been taken as the result of any such inquiry? Will he table the papers relating to this matter ?
I have received no reply to that question. I heard the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) state certain facts when he replied to the formal adjournment motion submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) this afternoon. He then said, in effect, that a copy of these papers came into the hands of a certain individual in the electorate of Reid. He pointed out that that man had not an enviable record, and admitted that the department had been unable to learn where he had obtained a copy of a certain document. The administration of the Security Service must be very loose, and its officers must be very remiss in the discharge of their duties, if its reports can be made available to an outsider. If the Attorney-General has not complete control of his department, this Parliament should take control of it and bring to book the person responsible for this dereliction of duty. The Attorney-General answered certain charges that appeared on the file. It was revealed during the debate that your name, Mr. Chairman, had been mentioned. I should like to know from the Attorney-General whether the accusations levelled against you have been investigated by the Security Service. If they have not, what action does he propose to take? Obviously, from what the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) said last week, the police records show that a report contained some reference to you. i. should like to know whether the Security Service was responsible for the record that he read, and if it was not, whether it took any further action. On the Attorney-General’s own statement, the matter, being a Commonwealth one, could not be investigated by State authorities. Did the Commonwealth Investigation Branch take cognizance of it and investigate it? If it did, what was the result of the investigation? As a member of this Parliament, Mr. Chairman, you should demand an investigation. If the charges made in this Parliament can be proved to have been loosely made, the person responsible for them should be disciplined by the Parliament. But if they can stand investigation, and can be proved not to be loose, your position is rather serious. Therefore, in your own interests the matter should be cleared up. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) made a charge against the honorable member for Reid. The AttorneyGeneral, in explanation, said that Commonwealth authorities could not take action in connexion with State matters. I put it to him that this is not a State matter. The Minister made a most serious charge against an honorable member. This is one occasion on which the Investigation Branch of his department should make the closest inquiry. I shall refrain from exhausting the time at my disposal so’ as to give to the AttorneyGeneral an opportunity to answer the points that I have raised.
– The sole function of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch is to investigate and make recommendations or reports in respect of specific breaches of the law of the Commonwealth. The branch was started many years ago by the present right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). The Security Service is in an altogether different category. It was started during the war in order to ensure the protection of this country in time of war against any influence that might be subversive or dangerous to the war effort.
– Would not the charge made against the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clarke) by the honorable member for Reid, if established, constitute a breach of section 45 (iii) of the Constitution?
– I do not think that it would. The honorable member has said that he accepts the explanation of the honorable .member for Darling.
– That is not the point.
– Perhaps the honorable gentleman ‘ will allow me to state the point. I handed to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) the document upon which the statements were based. Six years ago, it was in the possession of the investigators of the Government of which the honorable gentleman was a member.
Mr.- Spender. - What has that to do with the matter?
– It has this to do with it : The matter was regarded as not giving rise to the necessity for any action at that time. I do not wish to revive a debate which has been concluded, but I point out that the Security Service section of the Investigation Branch is contracting and now has only 24 officers. Its work is linked with that of the Investigation Branch, whose functions are as I have described them. Inquiries as to the improper use made of a document have not yet closed, for the reasons which I stated frankly,but that does not justify any reflection on either the Security Service or the Investigation Branch. Both activities have rendered valuable service to this country, particularly during the war. I do not think that any honorable member will say that the officers of the branch are incapable.
– Occasions such as that referred to occur in the best-regulated service. I assure the committee that the officers of the branch will carry out their functions as formerly.
.- Infant welfare centres are being established throughout the Commonwealth, particularly in Victoria, and are doing excellent work in caring for young mothers and their children. At present they are financed almost entirely by private subscription; very little money is contributed by either Commonwealth or State Governments towards their upkeep.
– The Commonwealth Government has granted them some assistance.
– The amount is so small - about £50 - as to be almost negligible. On a number of occasions attention has been drawn to the fact that donors to these institutions are not subject to any tax concession; the latest reply to representations for a concessional rebate was that it was not considered that the public interest would be best served by lightening the taxes in the way suggested. I ask the Treasurer to place donations to infant welfare centres in the same category as donations to hospitals in respect of tax concessions.
Mr.FADDEN (Darling DownsLeader of the Australian Country party) [5.28]. - In the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs, the sum of £10,000 is set down under the heading “General Expenses” for representation in Malaya. I have no doubt that there is a good reason why so large a sum is provided for Australian representation in Malaya in comparison with the £1,500 proposed to he expended on representation in the United Kingdom and £1,400 for Ceylon, but I should like the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) to explain what is intended.
– I cannot give precise details to the right honorable gentleman now because the time for the discussion of the vote for this department has expired, but I shall forward the information to him.
– The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes for the Department of External Affairs, Department of the Treasury and Attorney-General’s Department has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed vote, £1,075,200.
Departmentof Works and Housing.
Proposted vote, £1,705,000.
Department of Civil Aviation.
Proposed vote, £2,085,000.
Department of Trade and Customs.
Proposed vote, £1,164,000.
Department of Health.
Proposed vote, £237,500.
Department of Commerce and Agriculture.
Proposed vote, £512,700. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– Recently, certain irregularities in connexion with electoral roles for the federal division of Parkes were made public, and the charges were the subject of a statement in this House by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). It was alleged that the electoral rolls were in such a state that action to put them into something like proper order had to be taken by the Electoral Department. Some weeks ago I drew the attention of the House to the fact that certain documents which were forgeries were in the hands of tie Criminal Investigation Branch ; it was proved that certain irregularities did, in fact, exist. As most of the State electoral division of Ashfield is within the boundaries of the federal electoral division of Parkes, the rolls for the Parkes division, particularly in respect of the subdivisions of Ashfield and Summer Hill, were examined in connexion with the recent State by-election for the division of Ashfield. Those who investigated the matter have prepared a list containing the names of persons in various categories, and with the consent of the committee I shall incorporate in Hansard the following statement setting out electoral roll irregularities in the Ashfield State electorate : -
Then we come to deceased electors, and a number of those “ voted “ also in that election.
– Has the honorable member any proof of that ?
– The figures are in the hands of the Chief Electoral Officer, and the names of the persons concerned have been sent to him. O.f these there were 1,032 on the rolls, and 609 persons voted in their name. It is obvious that the present electoral system needs overhauling. Officers of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department are paid a small fee for reporting changes of address, and they carry out their duties in a manner which does them no great credit. There will be little improvement until .the police are put on to this work at once. In the general elections the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) was elected by a majority of 413 votes, but in the following State by-election Mr. Richardson, an anti-Labour candidate, gained a majority of 979, which was certainly a most extraordinary swing. Immediately after the federal elections, when it became known that there was some gerrymandering going on, and that over 600 persons voted who had no right to rote, and after the rolls were checked and a close scrutiny kept, a majority of 413 votes was turned into a deficit of 979. On a previous occasion, I drew attention to the method of registering soldiers’ votes at the last elections, and I raise the matter again in order to emphasize, the laxity of control in these matters. A paper known as Form D was distributed to soldiers, and on this the soldier wrote that he had been overseas and had formerly resided in such an electorate.
I asked whether anything was done to check whether the soldier had, in actual fact, been overseas, or had in actual fact resided in the electorate in which he claimed to have resided. I was told that there was no check on those matters.
– But the soldier made a declaration.
– Yes, but the fact remains that no check was made of its accuracy. The result was that a man could vote in the Parkes electorate, in the New England electorate and the Wentworth electorate, and there. was no check. How easy it would have been to insist that every soldier should produce his discharge, and have it noted thereon that he had received a ballot paper and had voted. Then there would have been no possibility of duplication, but that would not suit this Government. There is a way in which duplication of voting can be prevented. I do not say that returned men were, in all cases, responsible. No check was made to discover who was responsible. The figures which I have cited indicate what a sorry state the rolls are in, and what a farce is our present system, of popular franchise. Until the electoral rolls are put in proper order, and action taken to ensure that no one can vote more than once, we cannot claim that the system is working properly. Under the present method, it is obvious that persons can vote more than once. There is nothing to prevent a person from yoting in one booth, and then going to another and voting again, unless someone follows him around from booth to booth to prevent him. Something should be done to see that the system of “one man one vote “, which is the boast of our democracy, is in fact put into operation. It should be placed on record that during the last elections, when a matter of 4,000 votes decided which Government was to be in power, there was a discrepancy of over 900 votes in one electorate. I am making no. specific charges, but I have cited certain figures which speak .for themselves. The Minister should take immediate action to ensure that the rolls are cleaned up, and I shall leave the matter in his hands to see that it is done.
– I agree on general principles that a survey of the rolls should be made. It is obvious that, because of a shortage of manpower due to the war, it was impossible to supervise accurately their preparation. Yet, surprisingly enough, on the evidence of the electoral officers throughout Australia the rolls have been kept remarkably clean. Of course, I expect the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) to particularize from the general and apply his observations to me or to the electorate of Parkes. I say to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson), who ad-, ministers the Electoral Department, that I have absolutely nothing to fear from any investigation. When this matter was first raised, I said that I would welcome an investigation; but I fear that the reasoning of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is, as one would expect, entirely coloured and biased. He referred with a clatter of figures to this, or that, part of the electorate of Parkes, and drew conclusions which are not substantiated by the facts. He referred to a majority having been obtained by me in a certain part of the electorate, and then pointed out that in a State by-election the Labour candidate did not secure a majority in that part of the electorate. If he were charitable and reasonable, he may have drawn the conclusion that, perhaps, the areas were not exactly the same geographically, and that in the State electorate the sitting member may have had “ the edge “ on an opposing candidate. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition indulged in a smear campaign in an endeavour, temporarily, to bamboozle the electors of Parkes. Were an election held to-morrow in Parkes, I am certain that I would obtain a majority regardless of disputed returns. The honorable member’s remarks are typical of the poppy-cock, hooey and misrepresentation in which he consistently indulges; because all of the allegations he has made in respect of the Parkes electorate could with equal justification be applied to all other electorates, owing to the partial disorganization of our electoral machinery during six years of war. Would the Deputy Leader of the Opposition say that under our democratic system a man on service in some part of Australia shall not be entitled to a vote in the electorate for which he had been enrolled for the last five years because he was not residing in that electorate? Whilst a man is on the rolls, and no evidence is available that he should be removed from the rolls, as an Australian he is entitled to a vote. Whilst some persons may have voted in the Parkes electorate as absentee voters for candidates in other electorates in which they were enrolled, the converse also may be true. Some persons enrolled for the Parkes electorate may have cast absentee votes in other electorates. There is nothing sinister, dangerous or wrong about that, except in the suspicious mind, of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. This matter has been thoroughly thrashed out on previous occasions. Honorable members of the ‘Opposition now indulge in a smear campaign in an effort to save face for people who expected to do something they were not able to accomplish. We can dismiss it at that.
I direct the attention of the Minister to evils arising under the present system of postal voting. If we are to safeguard our democratic electoral system some supervision must be exercised over the casting of postal votes. The number of postal votes cast in any electorate may be relatively trifling. Reference has been made in this debate to some hundreds of postal votes, and queries raised as to whether there w.as double voting, or voting by people who were not resident in the electorate for which they cast their vote. But let us examine the system of postal voting more fully. A five to four ratio of votes in favour of one candidate may suddenly be converted into an eight to one ratio against him because of overcanvassing of postal votes by his opponent. I have no complaint against superior organization on the part of a particular party; but in the interests of the sick and aged the supremely high pressure now exerted on sick persons who vote by post should cease. A simpler, easier and more honorable way of giving a vote to people who are incapacitated must be devised. The present system of postal voting has become a racket. During the last election campaign, persons who had not been seen before in my electorate drove round in cars canvassing postal votes. They got access to national emergency service sick lists from which they were able to canvass certain people from day to day. They would approach a certain sick person and say, “ During the days of the war your name was given to us as that of a sick person. We are going to bring yon a vote “. A vote taken in such circumstances has a peculiar significance; it does not reflect any trend of thought in the electorate. A swing towards a candidate on an overall vote of from 62,000 to 65,000 may be reversed on a. count of 1,700 to 2,000 postal votes. Under this system the effect given to the voice of sick people in an electorate is out of all proportion to that of the electorate as a whole. The present system of postal voting is a shocking racket, and is due for an overhaul. Something should be done to rectify the position. Many of these sick people live in homes and private hospitals tucked, away behind the pine-trees or in homes for the aged, many of which should be investigated primarily on health grounds. Many of them should be burned down because they are nothing more than insanitary traps for the inmates. Homes of this kind are known to certain people who canvass the inmates in secret. This is possibly the worst phase o.f the present postal voting racket.
I also urge the Minister to consider the impersonation of electoral officers. This is a very serious matter. I have in my possession sworn declarations which prove that impersonation occurred in many instances in my electorate during the last campaign. I have spoken on this subject before. I say now that there are concrete and established instances of impersonation of electoral officers during the last election campaign. This practice is a serious threat to our democratic system of Government. I repeat that the present system of postal voting must be improved if we are to ensure a clean vote in the interests of democratic government.
– I am justified in questioning the violent criticism of honorable members opposite o.f the allocation of time for the consideration of the Estimates because the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) has taken up so much time in indulging in propaganda. He knows that the Primp
Minister (Mr. Chifley) gave ah undertaking that the allegations of malpractice which the honorable member voiced on a previous occasion would be fully investigated. He also knows that that inquiry is bow proceeding. Therefore, he has no justification for taking up so much time in debating this subject. It is obvious that the points raised in respect of the Parkes electorate could be applied to any electorate in Australia insofar as the last elections and the preceding elections are concerned. The fact is that the rolls in all electorates are not up to date because of the disorganization of the electoral machinery under war conditions. During the war there were mass movements of our people, including great bodies of munitions workers and employees of the Allied Works Council as well as service personnel. Those mass movements took place in every electorate when residents moved to other parts of the Commonwealth. In addition, the man-power of the Electoral Department was depleted under war conditions. Therefore, the rolls could not be policed so efficiently as they can bc in peace-time. For these reasons, it would be almost impossible to find the roll of any electorate completely up to date. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the Commonwealth Electoral Act is long overdue for overhaul. As in the case of very many other legislative enactments the Commonwealth Electoral Act is due for drastic overhaul. As soon as it is convenient to do so, the act will he amended in such a way as to overcome the defects in the postal voting system to which the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has referred. Having regard to the application of a time limit to the consideration of this section of the Estimates, the lengthy and bitter protest of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was completely unjustified.
.- I desire to raise three matters which come within the purview of the departments whose Estimates are now under consideration, all of which have a bearing on the living conditions of the people, particularly of those in rural areas.
In the first place. I appeal to the Minister for Works and Housing ‘(Mr. Lemmon) to take practical steps to expedite the supply of building materials in order to enable the many unfinished houses in country areas to be completed. In South Grafton, for instance, twelve houses under construction by the New South. Wales Housing Commission have remained uncompleted for months, notwithstanding that little remains to bc done to enable them to be occupied. I understand that stocks of most of the requisite material are available in Sydney but cannot be delivered to the sites because of rail and sea transport difficulties. During the last two months the hulk Mombah has twice been brought to Sydney from Coff’s Harbour loaded with 250,000 feet of timber, on each occasion returning almost empty. That vessel could be used for the back loading of much -needed housing materials which could be distributed by road from Coff’s Harbour to areas within 100 miles of that port.
My second appeal is to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford). 1 ask the honorable gentleman to reconsider his decision in relation to the granting of assistance to the State Governments and to municipal authorities for the development and the maintenance of country aerodromes which are not now on the accepted main air routes, such as Grafton, Taree, Port Macquarie, Kempsey and Coff’s Harbour. Many of these aerodromes, which are used by aircraft flying interstate when cloud or other conditions prevent them from landing on the principal airports, are in bad condition and constitute a danger to the lives of passengers in aircraft forced to use them. Only last Friday, when I was desirous of flying to Coff’s Harbour, I was informed that I would have to take the risk of being carried on to Brisbane if it were found that conditions at Coff’s Harbour were not suitable to effect a landing. The aircraft in which I travelled carried an extra load of petrol to enable Brisbane to be reached in that eventuality. It is desirable, therefore, in the interests of public safety, that Commonwealth assistance be rendered to the States or to the municipal councils responsible for the maintenance and repair of aerodromes off the accepted routes. A similar position exists in -regard to flares for night landings. During the war large stocks of flares were built up by the Royal Australian Air Force ; these should be handed over to the Civil Aviation Department for distribution to country aerodromes.
My last point relates to the carriage of newspapers to country areas by air. Up to the present many aircraft carrying newspapers to country centres land on aerodromes the responsibility for the maintenance of which is a matter for the local municipal authorities. Surely these could be allowed to carry passengers also.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I urge the Government to widen the terms of reference of the committee that has been appointed to inquire into production costs in the dairying industry. This committee should consider not only direct, but also indirect costs. It should also examine the possibility of paying the dairymen who have been in production during the last three years, a share of the extra grant of approximately 16s. Sd. sterling per cwt. for butter that has been paid to the Commonwealth by the British Government since April, 1943. In view of the fact that in October, 1944, a report was made to the Government that the cost of producing butter was ls. ll£d. per lb. or 4d. per lb. more than is being paid. I should like to know whether it would be possible to make the increased payment retrospective to that date ‘now that the British Government has offered to pay ls. ll£d. per lb. for all the butter received. However, I believe that something more than that is necessary to revive this industry, which has suffered substantial setbacks during the war years. This industry is of vital importance, not only from the point of view of food, nutrition and health in this country, but also because of the needs of the Mother Country now, and probably during the next ten years. I urge, therefore, that the committee be empowered to ascertain what additional incentive is necessary to restore the industry to full production by attracting the soldier sons of dairy-farmers back to the land as they are discharged from the forces, and also by bringing back into the industry the thousands of experienced farmers who have been forced to relinquish dairying during the last three or four years. I understand that the proposed committee is to consist of’ nine members - a government chairman, four government nominees, and four representatives of the producers. As there might be some diversity of opinion on such a committee between producer and government representatives I should like the Minister to ensure that minority reports, if any, shall be brought before Parliament, so that honorable members may know the views of each member of the committee.
I have obtained from the Commonwealth Statistician figures showing that between 1939 and 1945 the Australian production of milk for all purposes dropped from 1,250,000,000 gallons to 966,000,000 gallons, or by about 25 per cent. Yesterday, in Grafton, the manager of a butter factory in one of the best dairying districts in that part of the Commonwealth gave me a resume of the position during the last seven years at his factory. He said that in 1939, 2,S00,000 lbs. of butter was produced, but by 1942 that figure had fallen to 2,400,000 Hbs., and the estimate for 1946, of which eleven months has already elapsed, was only 1,700,000 lb. In other words, there has been a reduction of nearly 25 per cent, since 1942. The number of suppliers to the factory fell from 680 in 1939 to 540 in 1942, and this year there are only 400. It is clear, therefore, the decline of production is continuing, despite the fact that 1946 is a post-war year, and despite the Government’s claims in regard to the re-establishment of men on the land. I ask the Minister to have the whole matter examined by the committee. Attention should be directed not only to direct costs of production, but also to other intangible factors which have had considerable bearing upon the damage that has been done to this industry. Although substantial subsidies have been paid to dairy-farmers in Australia during the last five years, their receipts from all sources, including the home and overseas markets, .and the subsidies themselves, have not risen in proportion to costs. It is true that assistance approximating the increased production costs indicated Jay the index figures have been given to the industry, but as I have already pointed out in this House, the index figures remained low only because in Australia the prices of the three basic items, bread, butter and sugar, have been kept almost at their pre-war level. The cost of other items, however, such as clothing and machinery which the farmers had to buy, has increased by SO or 100 per cent. In addition, cream services have been cut and are not nearly so regular as they were. The cost of carting cream has risen, and the cost of essential supplies has risen. During the war the dairy-farms were denuded of man-power and machinery, thus decreasing the opportunity to grow stock feed. On top of that, the national fodder conservation scheme inaugurated by me, was allowed to lapse. It is true that the Government introduced a subsidy of £6,000,000 a year in 1943-44, but, as I pointed out at the time, in July, 1943, that did not cover the increased costs. In fact, the dairy-farmers were still approximately £8,000,000 per annum short of meeting costs. It is interesting to note that the figure suggested as the result of the inquiry into the costs of the dairying industry, and the price given voluntarily by the British Government, are approximately the same as that which I mentioned at that time. “We must remember that in dealing with this matter, adjustments on the basis of so much per lb. of butter do not entirely meet the position, especially as there has been a substantial decline of production. Farms have been depreciating and are in need of repairs. Interest charges have to be met and rates paid. It is essential that the industry should not be regarded on a reduced production basis, but as an undertaking employing a certain number of men, a certain amount of capital, and a certain quantity of machinery. I urge that the additional money that has been paid by the British Government to the Commonwealth during the last three years, and, as the Auditor-General’s report made in June of this year shows, has been paid into Consolidated Revenue as an off-set against the subsidies paid to the dairying industry, be passed on to the dairy-f armers. I point out from my own practical experience that what would have been sufficient to stop the decline three years ago, when the industry was more or less on an even keel, will not arrest the decline to-day. Very much more is necessary by way of price incentive and additional services to stop the decline and start the wave of production that we must have, because the dairying industry after World War I. was one of the main features in restoring our national economy. It helped to pay the war debt interest and created substantial credits overseas that helped to develop Australian industries. Therefore, I ask that the committee’s activities be sufficiently wide to enable it to put its finger on every sore spot and tell us the cure.
– The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) asked for some very important information that I propose to give him. He wanted to know what would be done about the provision of radio and various services at aerodromes in localities that are without them.
– Build some aerodromes.
– We have built many. Most of those that belong to the Royal Australian Air Force will be taken over by the Department of Civil Aviation. Following are the definitions : -
Aerodrome: A defined area on land or water, including any buildings and installations, normally used for the take-off and landing (alighting) of aircraft.
Airport: Any aerodrome at which facilities available to the public are provided for the shelter, servicing or repair of aircraft, and for receiving or discharging passengers or cargo.
Airfield: Any aerodrome other than an airport.
I could give considerably more information, but I do not desire to take up more time than is necessary.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear !
– However, when information is desired and supplied it does not appear to be acceptable, judging by the interjections. There is considerably increased provision for civil aviation in the Estimates on this occasion. Funds have been included in the estimate for the establishment of additional aeradio stations at many centres and for the purchase .and re-arrangement of equipment at aeradio stations formerly operated by the Royal Australian Air Force. I think the sum is about £518,000, speaking from memory and without referring to Estimates for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c. It is proposed to proceed with the installation of radar distance indicators on the main air routes and provision has also been made for the purchase of equipment for the installation of distance measuring equipment at all ground stations. The establishment and maintenance of larger and better aerodromes at capital cities and many other centres - I emphasize “ many other centres “ - suitable for all classes of aircraft, including the largest types of machines, has become a matter of vital necessity. So the right honorable gentleman will realize that we shall continue to do our best to provide equipment that will bring about safer conditions and provide the airfields that are necessary to cope’ with the traffic.
.- I regret that we have to speak under the limitation of the guillotine on these Estimates. I raise a matter which concerns the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. I have persistently, since the Parliament re-assembled, impressed upon the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture the necessity to provide in Queensland supplies of wheat, bran, and pollard and the like for the poultry industry, pigs, and calves.
– At the expense of the wheat-growers.
– At the expense of the Government or the taxpayers. The wheatgrowers, I am pleased to say, are doing very well. I have stressed that millions of poultry are being slaughtered in Queensland and that that will seriously affect egg production, whereas this Government has asked for the production of increased supplies of poultry products for export overseas.
– The honorable member knows that the poultry industry was warned not to expand unduly.
– That observation is utterly childish. Warned not to expand unduly! The industry has been wiped out almost entirely, owing to the polley of this Government.
– It is due to the Scully wheat plan. After considerable effort to obtain assistance for the industry, I was told by the Minister last week, the third week of the sessional period -
Last week, 3,000 tons was shipped from South Australia and another 2,500 tons is now being loaded for early despatch; 2,700 tons went by rail from New South Wales to Queensland in the week ended the 23rd November. Supplies from New South Wales are being railed chiefly through Wallangarra. About 140 tons a day- is being sent through Kyogle.
I asked the Minister to indicate to me what was being done. He told me that special efforts were being made to furnish the poultry producers with the poultry feed before their flocks starved. I remind the Minister that on the 27th November the president of the Brisbane Produce Merchants- and Produce Agents Association, Mr. Fraser Barrie, said that the shortage of poultry feed in Queensland was worse than at any period during the war years. To his knowledge not one prod.uce merchant had seen anything of the 150 tons of wheat a day that the Minister had indicated was going to the State. He went on to say that very few merchants had received even their October quota of wheat. On the same day, the secretary of the Poultry Farmers Cooperative Society Limited, Mr. C. P. Kidd, said that the quota of wheat which poultry farmers received from the Australian Wheat Board had been cut by 20 per cent. What a conflict of testimony! The Minister has assured me. that that quantity of wheat is going forward. I want him to examine the position. It is futile to say that wheat is going forward when the merchants in Brisbane claim, amongst other things, that they have not received’ even the quota to which they were entitled for October. I remind the Minister that we are now into December. The quota is down nearly to. zero. If the quantity that the Wheat Board tells the Minister is going forward, namely, fin average of 2,500 tons a week is being delivered, the people who should be receiving it are not getting it. I should like the Minister to ascertain from, or through his department who is correct - the Wheat Board or the merchants. If the wheat is going forward, who is getting it? The normal channels, the traders, are not getting it. I could deal with this matter at length, but I am conscious that the guillotine falls on this section of the Estimates at S.30 p.m., and I want to make it possible for the Minister- to reply and for others to speak. So I will bring my remarks to a close. I give the Minister credit for believing his own statements in this chamber, but it is a mystery where the wheat is going if what he said is true, and supplies are being sent to Queensland. Will the Minister put those consignments on the right track, so- that poultry-farmers and other producers may get the wheat which they urgently need?
.- I raise a matter of interest to the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon). Before coming to Canberra to attend the recent opening of this Parliament, I inspected many war service homes under construction in South Australia. From what I saw, and from what various contractors told me, I am convinced of the necessity for speeding up construction of war service homes, and I believe that the proper way to do this is to introduce a system of mass production. I have in mind a method that was instituted by a Labour government in South Australia to erect a large group of homes which, now form one of the finest suburbs of Adelaide. It would be in the interests of exservicemen if the Government set aside large areas of land for the erection of war service homes on a mass production basis. On the tour of inspection which I made, I noticed many causes of delays in construction. Although I understand that 50 No. 1 priorities are allocated each month for the construction of war service homes in South Australia, some of the uncompleted houses which I inspected had been under construction for many months. The long delay had also caused a considerable increase of their costs. One house had been started in November, 1945. The wooden frame was completed and the house was topped by December of that year, but when I visited the property just before the opening of this Parliament, the first tiles for the house had only just been delivered. I was .asked to make an estimate of the value of this home, and I did so, basing my calculation on the number of squares in the building. The contractor then showed me the contract for the building, which was signed in 1945. The contract price was £914, but the builder was able to point out to me clearly that, as the result of the delay of twelve months in completing the structure, he would sustain a financial loss of about £200. The delay was due to the shortage of materials. At another construction site, about ten foundations had been laid for a group of cottages to be erected under the South Australian Housing Trust scheme. I walked from one end of the block to the other, and gave very close attention to the work that had been done. I estimated that there were about 150,000 bricks on the site, but I could see only six men at work. I visited other sites where war service homes were under construction, and on some of them there were only about 1,000 or 1,500 bricks. I want the Minister to ascertain whether it is true that 50 No. 1 priorities in South Australia are granted each month to the War Service Homes Department. If so, why did the contractor whom I have mentioned have to wait twelve months for tiles to be delivered to him? If these anomalies are investigated and removed, I believe that the production of war service homes can be considerably stepped up. A further improvement of the rate of production could be effected by securing large areas of ground and building homes on a mass production basis. I have had considerable experience in the building trade, and I firmly believe that the introduction of a system of standard specifications for war service homes would greatly increase the rate of construction. The standard specification system involves having a printed list of specifications, with blank spaces for the items that will be needed on each separate joh.
– We want houses on the ground, not on paper.
– The honorable- member has never been on a sound foundation at any time in his life. I am greatly concerned about the construction of homes for ex-servicemen. If the Government will adopt the system which I have suggested, much better progress will be made in the future.
– The speech made by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) impels me to refer to the situation in the wheat industry. On several occasions I have asked questions of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) regarding the shipment of wheat to Queensland to feed poultry and other stock, which are suffering from the drought which is raging in that State. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a total of 20,000,000 bushels of wheat is to be sent to New South Wales and Queensland from Victoria and .South Australia. I understand that that figure is correct, but that more will be required. The decision to supply wheat to the northern districts was made as the result of the anticipated total failure of the wheat crop in Queensland and the estimated production of only one-third of the normal wheat crop in New South Wales.
The more wheat that is sent to the drought-stricken areas, the smaller will be the return to wheat-growers. We have asked questions of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture on this point on several occasions, but his answers have been evasive. He has merely said that the Government has a certain policy of which honorable members are aware.
– The honorable member knows as well as I do that there is a home-consumption price for wheat.
– I am not opposed to people in New South Wales and Queensland, obtaining supplies of wheat to feed poultry and other livestock, but I object to the wheat industry being called on to maintain these industries.
– That is not true.
– Wheat is selling overseas at 13s. 5£d. a bushel, but wheat sold for drought relief in Australia returns to growers only about 4s. a bushel.
– No; 5s. 2d. a bushel.
– The Minister well knows that I have stated the facts. There is no doubt about it.
– The price is 5s. 2d. a bushel.
– It is 5s. 2d. a bushel at ports. At the average country siding, it is only 4s. a bushel. The more wheat that is sent to the north, the less money will the growers receive. When the home-consumption price was fixed, people did not realize that devastating droughts would make necessary the sale of a large proportion of the wheat crop within Australia. It is time for the Minister to investigate the situation and ensure to the growers a price nearer to the world market price than the present rate. For years the wheat-growers have been supporting other industries.
– The honorable member has completely overlooked the fact that, when the home-consumption price of wheat falls below 5s. 2d. a bushel, the taxpayers will be called on to bring the return to the growers up to 5s. 2d. a bushel.
– The present homeconsumption price does not return to the growers the cost of production plus a margin of profit. The Minister knows that. When this price was fixed, it was not foreseen that there would be a devastating drought in Queensland, that the crop in New South Wales would be only one-third of the normal quantity, and that the crop in Victoria would only be approximately one-half of the normal quantity. On account of the large proportion of the total production of wheat that is needed for home consumption the growers will get a very poor return this year. The Minister must review the situation. It is all very well for the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) to say that the poultryfarmers in Queensland must get wheat, but when I speak about this matter I shall not spare the Government, or the Opposition.
– Order ! The time allotted for the consideration of the Estimates of the Department of the Interior, Department of Works and Housing, Department of Civil Aviation, Department of Trade and Customs, Department of Health, and the Department of Commerce and Agriculture has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Department of Social Services.
Proposed vote, £701,000.
Department of Supply and Shipping.
Proposed vote, £307,000.
Department of External Territories.
Proposed vote, £52,000.
Department of Immigration.
Proposed vote, £785,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– I direct attention to an anomaly which arises out of the Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Act and which affects individuals who have been forced out of employment as the result of the industrial anarchy now prevalent among the principal trade unions. During the widespread industrial upheaval last Christmas, the employees who were compelled to take part in the strike, forfeited wages amounting to £15,000,000. During that strike, a number of men, who were over the age of 65 years, were forced out of employment through no fault of their own, but they were not eligible for the unemployment benefits prescribed by the act. If this disqualification be carried to its logical conclusion, these elderly men must become old-age pensioners, and will be an additional burden upon Consolidated Revenue. Their working life is not finished. They are still active contributors to the productive capacity of the community. I contend that men who, through no fault of their own, are forced out of employment should be eligible for the benefits provided by the act. I could develop this argument at great length, hut as I realize that the Minister (Mr. Holloway) is aware of this anomaly, I shall not labour the point.
– I desire to refer to the item “ Migration Publicity, £53,300”. In Great Britain and the various countries of Europe, where we are seeking migrants, our publicity must be more extensive than it has been in the past, although the planning for it has been very long-headed and fair. Despite criticisms from various sources, the Commonwealth Government’s migration publicity to-day is giving a fair story to the rest of the world, and as the opportunities increase for improving that story, we should be able to attract migrants from the most suitable countries. Australia must obtain building tradesmen. Last Sunday, 200 British exservicemen who are employed in the building industry embarked from the port of London for Australia. Incidentally, they will be stationed in the Australian Capital Territory, where they will engage in essential housing work. However, that: trickle must become a stream, and there is a direct way in which publicity canbe trained on Britons, particularly exservicemen with technical efficiency, with a view to attracting them to Australia. We should also be able to get tradesmen from various parts of Europe, and particularly the north of Europe. There again, suitable publicity, and the placement of officers of the Department of Immigration in those areas throughout the length and breadth of the British Isles and the European countries which are likely to give us migrants will be most beneficial. Already, other contestants in the field are wrestling with us for migrants. I refer to Canada and South American States, including Brazil, which are seeking migrants, particularly from northern Europe. The field of migrants from Great Britain will be our own exclusive property, if we can attract people on reasonable terms.
Another important feature of the vote for the Department of Immigration is that migration organizations will be granted subsidies. That answers one of the consistent appeals of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) in relation to child migration. The honorable member asked the Government to make special grants to farm schools, and organizations of a denominational character and others of a welfare nature, which have had experience of this work. Whether there will be a revival of the “ adoption “ system, I do not know ; hut if the Government provides money to assist these organizations to bring people to Australia, the renewal of the system appears to be unnecessary. I congratulate the Government on this vote. It is extensive, and will be used to implement a well-considered plan. The only difficulty to my mind, is that we have not been able, by publicity, to defeat isolationism in the mind of the Australian himself. The press is full of stories of anti-Semitism, and newspapers like Smith’s Weekly conducted a vile campaign against people who come to Australia. We must not be “specialists” regarding the kind of people we bring to this yawning land. We have not attained complete development, and almost every person who has an adequate training overseas, can make some contribution towards our progress. But no matter how much money we expend, how fair-minded and accurate we are in our publicity, and how honest the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) is in this matter, the migration policy will fail if we adopt a narrow-minded isolationism as to who shall come to this country. There lies the danger. We must not fix quotas, exclude some people, and allow ourselves to be “sold this pup of anti-Semitism “. If we do, one group will be the victims of Our isolationism. Education is the only cure for it. If the Minister for Information has not sufficient money for the purpose, he should borrow from the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), who has a grant foi- the Office of Education. We /must educate backward Australians, who believe that they have an exclusive right to a huge part of the earth’s surface, who are nationalist in outlook, and who, while pleading with the Commonwealth Government to fill the empty spaces, look askance at strangers who settle here.
.- As the result of the Government’s action in limiting the time for discussion we are called upon to examine the Estimates of four important departments of state in 4’5 minutes, if we divide ‘the time available between honorable members opposite who desire to speak and members of the Opposition. Obviously, it is impossible Tor any one to present a serious analysis of the accounts, which involve many millions of pounds of public expenditure, and, therefore, I am compelled to compress very briefly some of the criticisms that I desire to offer., particularly in relation to the Department of Supply and Shipping and to the Department of Social Services. The shortage of shipping is a problem of national im portance. Everywhere we hear the cry that, because of the shortage of shipping, we are unable to export food to Great Britain, get supplies to manufacturers in another State, and develop the export markets which are available for Australian goods. But the .Commonwealth Government is trying to delude the people of Australia into the belief that the only reason for that is a shortage of actual shipping tonnage. In the short time that is available to me, I want to place before the committee a few facts which will show that, however serious the problem may be because of a shortage of tonnage, it is accentuated by a shortage not so much of man-power a= of man-effort. For some weeks, 1 have had on the notice-paper a question directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), asking for information in regard to the waterside workers on the waterfront at Sydney. It would appear from the comments of well-informed observers that there has been an acute shortage of men offering for work at that port; that many men who are registered are not prepared to work there at the normal times for working, and that the Waterside Worker? Federation is placing obstacles in the way of men, even ex-servicemen, who desire to make up the shortage which now exists. As I have been unable to obtain that information because of the failure or refusal of the Minister to answer that question, I cannot place before the committee some facts which I believe to bf» relevant to this discussion. But there are other facts which I consider cannot be disputed. They show that the sneer which the Prime Minister (Mt. Chifley) cast at us recently iri reply to our observations about a shortage of man-effort in this country, when he said, “ They have been talking for years ‘about ‘ go slow ‘ in government enterprises, about the ‘ government stroke ‘ “, cannot be justly directed at us to-day. There has been definite failure on the part of those associated with the handling of our shipping to make the best use of such tonnage as has been available. Vessels cannot be turned round nearly so quickly as they were in pre-war days. I have examined in detail the facts relating only to interstate shipping, but I believe that much “the same argument can be advanced in regard to -shipping operating between the ports of Melbourne and “Sydney, and shipping bound for ports in Great Britain. The cost of operating interstate ships to-day is abnormally high. The time occupied in voyaging and handling is ‘50 per cent, higher “than it was in pre-war days, despite larger groups of men in the gangs and the provision of more mechanical equipment. To-day, ships spend 67 .per cent, of their time in port, compared with 40 per cent, in prewar days; or, put in another way, before the war twelve days in every month were spent in port and the rest of the time in voyaging, whereas to-day, because of the slowness of handling cargoes, twenty days in every month are spent in .port. The rate of loading has declined from 28 tons an hour to 14 tons .an hour,, despite, I repeat, the provision of larger gangs and additional mechanical equipment. Obviously, the Government has to restore to our economy the incentive to work, and inducements have to be offered which will make people give that extra effort which is -necessary to keep our shipping moving. But the Prime Minister says, “We are getting greater production. AH that we need is a continuation of what we are” doin,g now, and we shall achieve the greater output we require “. ‘The facts that I have recited cannot be contradicted. We are getting to-day only one-half of the loading rate that we had in pre-war days. Ships remain in port for a period two- thirds longer than that during which they remained in port prior to the war. It is idle to talk of .a mere shortage of shipping unless, at the same time, one is prepared to recognize failure by the ‘Government to obtain that maneffort in turning the ships about of which we know that our waterside workers are capable.
– Why n’ot join the Waterside Workers Federation, and speed up the work?
– There are many things which honorable members who sit on this side of the chamber would like to do. Unfortunately, we are not gifted with the powers of divinity and cannot be everywhere at once. We should like to go down the coal mines and induce the miners to produce more coal than they are supply ing at present. We should like to be on the waterfront and get. a better effort there. We should like to be in certain position.- in this branch of ‘the legislature, because we are confident that ‘we would give a better performance than is being given al the present time. We must do our humble best in the positions in which we find ourselves. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) is chameleonlike in his capacity to assume the colour of his surroundings in any sphere in which he finds himself.
– The honorable member must address himself to the proposed votes.
– The honorable member for Dalley intrigued me by his suggestion.
– 1 am only suggesting that t’he honorable member should join he Waterside Workers Federation, anr) speed it up.
– I tell the honorable member through you, Mr. Chairman, tha’i many ex-servicemen who have served thi; country well .and are looking for a steady occupation in it, desire to join the Waterside Workers Federation. They have been placed on what is called a reserve list. Recently, .1 received a letter ‘from the wife of one of these men who hari read a paragraph in a newspaper which I have mentioned in ‘this chamber. Slip said in it that her husband, who is an ex-serviceman, and many of his former companions, are oil the reserve list o’f those who wish to join the Waterside Workers Federation. Although there i-; an obvious shortage of labour, which results in failure to load not merely interstate vessels but also vessels carrying much needed food to the people of Great Britain, these men have not been admitted to the ranks of this uni’on. I have pressed the Minister for Labour and National Service to state what is happening. For the best part of three weeks, 1 have had on the notice-paper a question relating to an Australian port. If hi.= department cannot tell me in less than three weeks what is happening in ohe of our ports, it is not to be wondered at that we are having so much industrial trouble all over the Commonwealth at the present time. I should like to dilate on the subject of shipping. I have mentioned only a few of the facts which I believe the Government would do well to answer while these estimates are under consideration.
I want to spend a few minutes on the Department of Social Services, because I mentioned during the debate on the budget that as the Government was not prepared to accept an Opposition amendment for the reduction of the tax on personal incomes I would move at a later stage for the introduction of a scheme of family endowment for the first child. We who sit on this side of the chamber have made clear our belief that incentive can be restored to our peace-time economy only by giving to the employer, the employee, and any other element in the community, the incentive to give of his best, in the knowledge that what he earns he will enjoy without any unnecessary or unwarranted deduction hy way of tax. During the budget debate, we pressed for a reduction of the tax on personal incomes, and moved an amendment to effect that result. The Govern-‘ ment, having a large majority behind it, defeated that amendment. Having failed to obtain relief for family incomes in that way, we now advance the proposal that endowment should be provided for the first child of the family.’ I was twitted by the honorable member for Dalley, when this matter was discussed earlier, of inaction regarding it. He asked, “ Why did you not introduce endowment for the first child when you were in office?” If the honorable member cares to read the secondreading speech which I made on behalf of the Government at that time, he will find that the Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court, speaking for the Full Bench, had found, as a matter of fact, that the wage prescribed v;as adequate for a man, wife and one child, but was not adequate for a family in which there were two children, and that real hardship was caused in families of more than two children. So we took the matter up where the Chief Judge had left it, and proceeded to make provision for the second, third and subsequent children. Subsequently, the Government, with the full approval of the Opposition, introduced a provision to increase the weekly rate from 5s. to 7s. 6d. for the second and subsequent children. Before the last election we on this side concluded that the basic wage was not meeting the real needs of the family. That was partly due to the fact that the Labour Government was “ doctoring “ the basic wage and also certain items in the Statistician’s regimen with the deliberate intention that the basic wage should not factually represent the cost of living in this country.
– That is a serious charge.
– lt is. I ask honorable members to examine what the Government has done in regard to tea and potatoes, which are two items in the regimen. They were not meant to be exclusive items, but items representative of an important field. For instance, the only item in the fruit and vegetable field in the Statistician’s regimen, is potatoes, but the housewife who wishes to give pro tec,tive foods to her family supplies them with a variety of fruit and vegetables. Honorable members know that the cost of these items has risen sensationally since the beginning of the war; yet the only item in the Statistician’s regimen is potatoes, and it is the only item which the Government has directly subsidized. That has been, done to keep down the costs for statistical purposes. Tea is only one of the many beverages consumed by the Australian people. The male population would say that the cost of their beverages has increased greatly because of the heavy excise duties. Tea was taken as a representative of the beverage field, and tea has been subsidized. But there has been no subsidizing of cocoa, coffee or beer. On the contrary, some beverages carry a heavy excise duty. I repeat that the Government is “ doctoring “ the basic wage in order to produce an artificial result. Because we on this side believe that to be so, we put it forward conscientiously before the last election as an item of policy which any government should bring into effect. We gave to the Government an opportunity to support us in a proposal for the introduction of family endowment for the first child. We invite it to do so now or at any time during the life of this Parliament; and if such a proposal is brought forward, the Opposition will support it. That is a fair offer to make to a government which believes iri assisting the family life of the people. The Government is not merely pegging the wages of Australian workers ; it is also “ doctoring “ their wages, and an artificial result is being obtained. The Government’s statement that the cost of living has risen by from 20 per cent, to 25 per cent, has no relation whatever to the real purchasing power of the Australian housewife. Because of those facts, we have pressed for an increased family endowment, namely, endowment for the first child; and because o.f those facts we believe that there is substance behind the pressure being applied by the trade union movement to have the wage-pegging provisions removed. The imposition of an artificial limit on wages which has no relation to the actual cost of living obviously invites industrial unrest. And so the Liberal party and the Australian Country party would welcome a move towards a realistic approach to the basic wage and to the expenses of living incurred by the average Australian family. If the Government had provided an opportunity to deal with this matter at length, I should have tested the committee, but although I shall not do that, I invite honorable members to consider this matter. I urge the Government to bring in a provision- to endow the first child, and I repeat the offer of the Opposition to support it. If the Government wants to avoid the industrial unrest which is dislocating the country, and if it wishes to pay proper regard to family needs, it will see that proper recognition is given to this matter.
.- I appeal to the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) to make a public statement concerning the progress being made by his department with respect to its native policy in the territories of New Guinea and Papua. Under the AustralianNew Zealand Agreement much was promised to the dependent peoples of the South-west Pacific, such as assistance to .medical organizations, education of the natives, encouragement of missionary enterprise and generally an improvement of the pre-war policy in respect of native peoples. Not many statements have been forthcoming from this department since the signing of that pact, and therefore a progress report on the implementation of the pact, and the degree to which consultation has taken place between the Governments of Australia and New Zealand and between the Australian and French authorities in New Caledonia, as well as with the British authorities in Fiji, would be most welcome. In the past, it was the policy of the Government to leave native education to the missionaries. That policy is both inevitable and desirable, because from people trained in anthropology we cannot build up a staff of enthusiasts to do the work of the missionary; but, at the same time, technical education has been scarcely touched by the mission authorities, whilst Governments have been remiss in dealing with the agricultural education of the natives. I understand from the New Guinea Handbook that wasteful methods of cultivation are being followed, with the result that large tracts of country are being turned over to kuni grass with a consequent reduction of the nutritional standards of the natives. A feature of New Guinea administration has been that the Colonial Administration has controlled a revenue of £450,000 a year, largely raised in the territory itself; that gold to the value of £2.,S20,000 has been produced by native labour each year and has been returned to Australian shareholders in dividends; and that nothing commensurate with the benfits received has been returned to those dependent peoples. If a country does not return something” commensurate with what it takes from a territory, there is exploitation - even imperialist exploitation in the classic sense. I appeal to the Minister to take an early opportunity to make a long-term statement on native policy, indicating what the Government, intends to do about education, including technical and agricultural education, medical services and control over industries which are exploiting the territory and not returning anything commensurate to the natives.
.- In the limited time available it is not possible to deal with more than a few items associated with the departments now under discussion, but I desire to refer to certain matters affecting our export industries. In spite of. rationing, we have not succeeded in sending to Great Britain materially increased quantities of rationed foods during the last three years. For instance, in 1939-1940 Australia exported to the United Kingdom 358,000 tons of sugar. In the following year the quantity of sugar sent to the Old Country was 184 tons. The exports of that commodity in 1942, 1943, l94’4 and 1945 were’ respectively 76> 14, 2 and 81. tons. The quantity of sugar exported to the United Ming doin so far this year is 236 tons. In spite of rationing, and in spite of claims that the privations endured by the people of Australia were necessary so that we might send sugar to Great Britain, over a period, of four years, we sent, in fact, less than 400 tons. There is, of course, a reason for this. Much the same story can be told of butter. During’ the first year of war, Australia sent to Great. Britain 109,000 tons of butter. In 1944, it sent 41,000 tons;, in 1945 it sent 36,000; and last year it sent 55,000 tons. During the first year of the war, we exported to Great Britain 778,000 tons of wheat; in. 1943 the quantity declined to 240 tons, and in 1944 to 8 tons ; and 1945 and 1946 it was nil. Those figures are an effective reply to claims that the rationing of food in Australia is necessary so that we may send food to Britain.
Unless action is taken, quickly by the Government the dairying industry will continue to decline, and there will be a shortage of butter, not only for export to Britain, but also for consumption in Australia. Already the number of dairy stock has declined very seriously, and the most important contributing factor is the low price of butter. The Government is acquiring the farmer’s butter for ls. 7½d. per lb., which is 4d. per lb. less than the ascertained cost of production, and is selling it to Great Britain at ls. 11½d. per lb. Australia’s annual production of butter is 150,000 tons, and on this the farmers are losing 4d. per lb. or more than £5,000,000 a year.
– What did the honorable member do for the farmers when he was a Minister?
– That is the stock question of members of the Government, which they throw at their critics. The Minister for: Post-war Reconstruction (Mr: Dedman) and his colleagues havebeen in power for five years, and. for- four of those years they have sweated the dairy-farmers to the tune of £5,000,000’ a year. The Minister for’ Post-war Reconstruction will not have to worry about finding dairying land for ex-servicemen. I represent one of the most important dairying constituencies in the Commonwealth, and I have not been approached by one soldier seeking to take up dairying country. The reason is that the men know that dairying is a life of slavery - work seven days a week on 365 days a year, with an unsympathetic government to contend with, and no economic future before them. In 1943 there were 4,998,000 dairy stock in Australia, according to figures’ supplied to me by the Commonwealth Statistician. By 1946, the number was only 4,600,000, a decline of almost 400,000 head in less than four years. This has necessarily resulted in a falling off of the quantity of dairy products-, particularly butter. The number of calves under one year has declined from 714,000 in 1945 to 611,000 this year, and it must be remembered . that this year’s calves will be the milk producers two years hence. It is evident that the dairying industry is on the down grade, because the price of butter is not high enough to encourage production. Dairy farmers and their families are carrying on under what are virtually sweated conditions which no industrial organization would tolerate. No trade union would allow its members to work under conditions which are endured by men, women, and children on the dairy farms. They continue to endure them because their capital is invested in. the land, and their homes are there. They are, in fact, tied to the land. It is high time the Government reviewed the price of dairy products. A committee has been appointed by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard), consisting of a number of officials, some of whom are allegedly the representatives of the farmers, some representatives of the Treasury, and others of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, to find out the cost of producing butter. A? a matter of fact, figures relating to the cost of production were su.b.mitted to the Government more than eighteen months ago by representatives of the dairying industry, the .figures being based on a survey of more than thirty dairy farmers in . New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. In appointing this committee, the Government is only stalling for time at the expense of the men and women., who are being sweated. It is clear that the industry is not now on a paying basis, and something will have to be done very quickly if the decline of production, is to be arrested, but so far the Government has not done anything to improve matters. I am not -at all satisfied with the appointment of this committee. I well recollect that when the Joint Dairying Industry Advisory Committee on Production Costs was appointed three years ago, it took three or four months to present a report, whilst another twelve months elapsed before the Government did anything to implement that report. If the same thing happens on this occasion many farmers will be down the road before relief is given to them.
– They were all on the rocks when this Government took office.
– I am glad of that interjection, because if the honorable member is content with the condition of the dairying industry to-day he is easily satisfied, and has no sympathy with the man on the land. That interjection exposes .the hollowness of his feelings towards those . engaged in the dairying industry. As I have not sufficient time at my disposal to deal with this subject as fully as I should like, I shall content myself with this brief outline of the position in the hope that the Government will expedite the report of the committee. In the meantime the Govern* ment should immediately review prices with the object, of bringing them up to the values now being received by the Commonwealth Government from Great Britain for the sale of butter in the United Kingdom. The least that the Government can do while it is waiting for any report is to pay to the dairyfarmer the profit which it is extracting from the people of the United Kingdom as the result of sales of butter there.
I repeat that the Government is selling to those people butter at ls. 11½d. per lb. but is paying to the Australian farmer only ls. 7-^d. per lb., thus making a profit of 4d. per lb. If the same practice were applied in respect of any other industry in which’ profit was realized by the Government from the labor of those engaged in the industry, honorable members opposite would not tolerate it for long.
– The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) drew attention to an obvious anomaly which I agree exists. Time and experience expose such anomalies in legislation. The honorable member suggested that in the present circumstances men over 65 years of age should be allowed to work. Every one agrees that everybody should be allowed to work, regardless of age; but we all remember that prior to the war it was impossible for a man 65 years of age, or over, to get a job. The act to which the honorable member referred was drafted in the bad old days when from 300.000 to 400,000 of our people were unemployed. It was also provided that no one over 65 years could qualify for unemployment and sickness benefits. As the honorable gentleman has said, circumstances to-day are different. He said that a number of men over 65 years of age, who are quite willing and able to work, are debarred from those benefits. That would be true were the act administered strictly in a technical sense; but it is not being administered in that way. On previous occasions, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. O’Connor) and the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) raised this matter in respect of the employment of men over 65 years on the waterfront in New South Wales. Instructions have already been issued to officers in every department to do their best to keep those elderly men in jobs suitable to their physical capacity, and where suitable jobs .cannot be provided, the section of the act dealing with special eases should be implemented in order to give them the benefit of that legislation. Thus, the suggestions made by the honorable gentleman are already being carried out.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) made a very sinister and remarkable statement. He virtually suggested that the Government was interfering in the determinatioin of the basic wage. He knows better than to make such a suggestion, because the Government cannot interfere in the compilation of the regimen upon which the basic wage is fixed.
– Order ! The time allotted for the consideration of the estimates of the Department of Social Services, the Department of Supply and Shipping, the Department of External Territories and the Department of Immigration has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to. department of labour and national SERVICE,
Proposed vote, £1,209,000.
Department of Transport.
Proposed vote, £69,000.
Department of Information.
Proposed vote, £324,600.
Department of Post-war Reconstruction.
Proposed vote, £611,000. (Ordered to he considered together.)
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) suggested ‘ that the Government is interfering in the determination of the basic wage. The basic wage formula is evolved by the Arbitration Court and the Commonwealth Statistician. First, a selection of commodities and services is made; and from the prices of such commodities and services a weighted average figure of the cost of living is calculated. The authorities concerned have agents in each of the capital cities and larger provincial towns who supply the prices of those commodities in their respective centres. From those returns a weighted average figure is struck and thereon the court determines the basic wage. No Minister, or Officer of the Government, can interfere with that procedure.
– Are tea and potatoes included in the items which constitute the regimen ?
– Whether they are or not does not affect the point that I am making.
– They are representativeitems, and the prices of both are subsidized.
– My argument isnot affected by the inclusion, or noninclusion, of any particular item. Thecourt, not the Government, decides which items shall be covered. Supposingthat the two items mentioned by the honorable member are not included, did theGovernment adversely affect the basicwage from the point of view of the worker when it prevented the price of” tea from rising to double its present price ?
– I have answered the statement that the Government had been dabbling with the basic wage. Thehonorable member for Fawkner is a very astute politician, and is very quick on theuptake. He knows as well as I do that within the next fortnight the basic wage will be adjusted by the court.
– Will the Prime Minister say that?
– The court has* said that. I have absolute confidence in the Acting Chief Judge, and I am sure that he will keep his word. The honorable member knows, as we all do, that the basic wage is to be adjusted within the next fortnight. We hope that it will be increased. To-night, the honorable member poses like a little modern Moses whose heart is bleeding for the workers. He says that the basic wage is too low. His is a death bed repentance. Although the honorable member was Minister in a previous government charged with administering Child Endowment he suddenly discovered on the eve of the last election campaign that the first child should be endowed ; and some of his colleagues did not support this Government’s proposal to increase the rate of child endowment from 5s. to 7s. 6d.
– We gave the Government our unanimous support.
– The suggestion that the Government desires to interfere with the basie wage is illogical and untrue. A variation may be made in th, base wage only by the court and the Commonwealth Statistician. The honorable member for Fawkner is aware, too, that the formula upon which the basic wage is determined is out of date and that, because of that, the Government has asked the employers and employees to select suitable representatives to inquire into the basic wage and make suggestions for its determination upon a more scientific basis. When the honorable gentleman pretends he wants a higher basic wage he is merely anticipating what he knows is already being done by the court. I have no doubt that when the court has heard all the evidence and has taken all matters into consideration it will increase the basic wage.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) suggested that an uptodate report on external territories should be presented for the information of honorable members. The Minister for External Territories has asked me to inform the honorable member that he will furnish a full report on the subject.
.- I regret that the Minister has not replied in substance to the point raised by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), because it is one which every honorable member on this side of the chamber immediately recognizes as of the highest importance. The Minister merely refuted the allegation that the Government was monkeying” with the basic wage, that it had attempted to reduce it, or was contemplating doing so or, of its own volition, increasing the basic wage. I accept the honorable gentleman’s assurance as I arn sure also does the honorable member for Fawkner.
– I do not accept it; I say that the Government deliberately “doctored “ the basic wage.
– I accept the Minister’s assurance that the Government has not attempted to fix the amount of the basic wage. We know that the basic wage is a sum of money, arrived at by the employment of a certain formula, which is calculated to give to the worker sufficient purchasing power to enable him to provide the necessaries of life for himself, hi; wife and children. We know, too, that luxuries are excluded from the basis wage calculation. In order to arrive at that wage the Arbitration Court has selected certain typical items of foodstuffs and clothing, rent and other necessaries that go to make up the inescapable costs of living. Obviously, it would not have been feasible for the court to have taken into account every single item of the clothing and foodstuffs necessary for the upkeep of an ordinary household. No one has ever suggested that that should be done. It has been accepted by all thai, the basic wage should be determined upon the prices of a comprehensive, typical category of goods, adjustments being made from time to time as the prices of those goods fluctuate. The honorable member for Fawkner contends that, included in the basic wage regimen, there are two typical items, namely, potatoes, which are typical of fresh vegetables and fruits, and tea, which is typical of the beverage requirements of the average Australian working man’s home. He claims that upward and downward movements of the price of potatoes and tea are regarded for basic wage purposes as reflecting the general movement of the prices of vegetables and fruit on the one hand and household beverages on the other; but that once there is a selective interference with price movements in respect, of those items and no control of price movements, in- respect of the items of which they are typical, and which are used in the’ ordinary working man’s household in large quantities, there is immediately an artificial interference with the operation of the formula so carefully chosen over the years to reflect the cost of living. The honorable member for Fawkner has raised a matter which I fear has escaped the notice of many people. I frankly confess that it had escaped my notice.
– Has not the subsidizing of wheat had the same effect?
– It has had an important effect.
– If controlling the price of tea land potatoes affects the accuracy- of: the basic wage calculation-, subsidizing wheat, must have the same effect.
– I do not agree. The subsidizing of wheat has no effect on the cost of’ bread, because the price of - wheat sold for the making of bread was fixed by a government of which I was a. member as far back as 1938 and has remained unaltered since then. The subsidizing of wheat for stock feed has but a remote effect, upon the cost of living. There is no parallel between that and the contention of the honorable member for Fawkner. I remember some years ago that an increase of the price of potatoes resulted in an upward adjustment of “the cost of living, for basic wage purposes, by ls. a week. The honorable member for Fawkner has pointed out that the subsidizing of potatoes to prevent an increase of the. price, and failure to control the prices of. other vegetables and fruit, .which have soared upwards in recent years, have resulted in a steep increase of the cost of living which has not been taken into account in the calculation of the basic wage. The subsidizing of tea has had” a similar effect. I do not want to be misunderstood, on this point.. The benefit of government subsidies to tea and; potato consumers, as a whole is recognized by all, but because the Government has failed to subsidize other similar items, the Statistician’s computations which determine variations of the. basic wage have altered very little, notwithstanding the fact that there has been, a steep increase of living, costs. The housewife and the wage-earner know that with the same amount of money as that previously received, by them they cannot buy enough to’ permit the same standard of living. I hope that we shall have a better explanation, from the Government than has been given up to the present.
– it is interesting to hear’ Opposition members speaking of the method of adjusting the basic wage, and. of the inadequacy of the. present, basic wage. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) complained that waterside workers were not doing a fair day’s work for their money and therefore- were increasing shipping posts-.. Then, he went: on. to say that many people in the community were not doing their best because- the return, that they were receiving; was inadequate.-
– The honorable member was not’ referring to waterside* workers then.
Mi. THOMPSON.- He. was speaking generally. I am not without some personal knowledge of the waterfront industry. I represented, the waterfront city of Port Adelaide for many years, in the South Australian Parliament, and my experience of waterside, workers was not in accordance with what the- honorable member for Fawkner has stated tonight. However, I shall not go into that phase of the matter. I speak of it inpassing only because of the charges made by that honorable member against the waterside workers. What about the tailoring industry? What does one have to pay to-day for a suit of clothes?’ Are the waterside/ workers responsible also for the- increased prices of clothing? Does the honorable member believe that tailors are only doing half as rauch work- as they did. before?” Why - pick on one section of the workers and blame them for the extra costs of commodities to-day? We frequently hear the criticism by honorable members opposite that workers will’ not work overtime because of high taxation, and now they turn round and condemn the waterside workers because they, allegedly, do not work hard’ enough and turn the ships round as quickly as they did* in years gone by.
– We are condemning the Government, not the workers:
– The honorable member has alleged that the- waterside workers are only doing half, as much work as they did previously. If he wants to be consistent, he should not climb on the backs of the workers in one instance, and then endeavour to shake hands with them, in another by advocating an increase of the basic wage. I shall deal now with the question of the basic wage and the honorable member’s statements in regard to’ child endowment. I. remember well when child, endowment was first: introduced. Originally, the basic wage waa fixed on the basis- of a man, wife, and three children, but, in the period to which the honorable member has referred, a judge of the Arbitration Court ruled that instead of being sufficient for a man, wife and three children, the basic wage was only sufficient for a man, wife and one child. Obviously, had the original basis of fixation remained, the basic wage would have been increased considerably; but instead, honorable members opposite decided to introduce a child endowment scheme in respect of all children except the first in each family, and to leave the basic’ wage as it was. In so doing, they actually reduced the value of the basic wage to workers with less than three children. Whereas a man with a wife and three children received an extra amount, making his wage equal to the old rate for a man, wife and three children, for any man who had less than three children the basic wage was, in effect, reduced. The trouble in regard to the basic wage to-day is not that mentioned in the -ridiculous arguments advanced by honorable members opposite to-night in an attempt to mislead people who do not understand. The position as 1 see it is this: As only potatoes are included in the basic wage regimen, and all other fruits and vegetables are ignored, what difference would be made to the actual value of the basic wage if the price of potatoes were increased? There would not be any difference, because the increased cost of other similar commodities would not have any effect. The present subsidy on potatoes is, in effect, equal to any increase that would be made in the basic wage by the free inclusion of potatoes in the regimen. I cannot understand the logic of honorable members of the Opposition who have argued that the Government has put a trick over the workers in that regard. The honorable member for .Indi (Mr. McEwen) has challenged the Government to introduce child endowment for the first child of each family. I shall issue a challenge to the honorable member : Is he prepared to support the payment of child endowment in respect of the first child, and at the same time to allow the Arbitration Court to fix the basic wage on the basis of the living standard for a man, wife and one child? That is a plain question, and I should like him to answer it. If we go back ten years to the time when the basic wage was fixed in relation to a man, his wife and three children, we find that the standard of living was higher than it is to-day, because whereas at present basic wage earners, unmarried or without children, are receiving only the wage fixed for a man, wife and one child, previously they were receiving the wage fixed for a man, wife and three children. Twenty-five years ago I argued that the man with a wife and three children was not fairly treated. I used this argument, “ I have six children and Bill Jones has none, but he gets the same wage as I, because we have an average of three children each “. I realized the inequity of the system. That man and his wife could have a horse and trap to go driving, but I had half a dozen kiddies whom I had to number off into the tram-car in order to get them to the nearest beach. That was the result of the averaging of the wage. I ask honorable gentlemen opposite not to talk about increasing the real value of the basic wage and not to say that they would pay endowment in respect of the first child if they are not prepared to increase the standards of men with no children at all. What the Arbitration- Court has to decide is to set a sufficient standard for the people of this country to have a reasonable living. My life has been spent among people on or below the basic wage. Honorable gentlemen opposite talk about the waterside workers opening their books. I remember the time when this country was not in a flourishing condition and there was insufficient shipping to keep the waterside workers employed for more than half the week. They were then down to half the basic wage and were forced to live in the poorest homes that it is possible to live in. So, when honorable gentlemen opposite talk about the need for the waterside workers to open their books, they should remember that they are speaking of men- who have had the dreadful experience of trying to live on the proceeds of half a week’s work because there were twice as many men on the wharfs as there was work for them to do. Then there was no question, of overtime being taxed. Most of them paid no tax at all, because they did not earn, sufficient on which to pay tax. We ought to have the greatest sympathy with the Minister for Labour and National Service in dealing with industrial matters. I know that different organizations are agitating for a higher basic wage. I know the earnestness of many union- leaders in their efforts to get something better for the men.
The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) asks, “Why don’t you give the wheat-growers the full price for their wheat, even that consumed locally, 18s. 2d. a bushel ? “. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) says that the dairymen want the top price for butter. “ We want the benefit of the times “ is the theme of honorable gentlemen opposite in their speeches on behalf of the sections of the community that they represent. If it is reasonable for the wheat-grower to want 13s. 2d. a bushel for his wheat and the dairyman ls. 11-Jd. or more for his butter, it is equally fair for the workers in industry to demand -a better price for their commodity, the work that they do for their employers. I do not desire to digress at length on the problems of dairymen, because I know that other honorable gentlemen are anxious to address the committee in the limited time available, but I spent years as a dairyman. I remember when I exported butter, not butter fat, for 8d. per lb., which, when the cost of transport, making up, and auctioneer’s fees had been deducted, meant a net return of 7d. per lb. So I know the conditions of the dairymen. I am reminded that only recently an old neighbour said to me, “I have just paid
Chifley my cheque”. I asked him what it amounted to, and he told me that it was about £730. I said, “ If you are paying £730 income tax, you have had a lot more than that left “. That man was making his money out of milk. I do not want to argue on those lines, however, for I know what the man who works 52 weeks a year and seven days a week deserves. Nevertheless, when honorable gentlemen opposite ask that those people be given prices representing the full value of their products, they should remember that the waterside workers and other industrial workers are merely trying to do what the primary producers are endeavouring to do for themselves. They would then have a little more sympathy with the workers. One thing I will not stand for is loafing on the job. Some honorable members do that. If they were paid by results their return would be low indeed. Lest I should arouse the hostility of honorable gentlemen generally I hasten to assure them that most parliamentarians do their job and do it well. The great majority of the men in industry, too, want to do the fair thing. But if honorable members opposite and the press of Australia keep on telling them that they have no incentive to work, let them not be surprised when they take their advice and say - “We won’t work unless we get more money for it “. I advise honorable gentlemen opposite to be more constructive in their criticism and more realistic in their approach to taxation, endowment for the first child, and the basic wage. They then may help the Minister for Labour and National Service in his efforts to get an amicable settlement of industrial disputes and the reduction of hours of employment that will benefit this nation.
– I congratulate the Government on setting aside £230,000 to provide financial assistance, to university students, but there is one point about that assistance that I should like the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) to consider carefully with a view to removing what may prove an unnecessary hardship. Many young men, just back from fighting in the jungle, began their university courses at the beginning of the first term this year, having matriculated before enlisting. Parents and the young men themselves consider that they are at a disadvantage compared with younger students who matriculated last year and entered university life at the same time. What I refer to is the provision that recipients of the assistance who fail in their examinations shall be culled out. [ realize that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction must have the authority to cull out men who obviously will not make good in the course of studies chosen by them. I have said in this chamber before that continuance at university studies by men unfitted to spend five years at a university merely causes disappointment. I think, however, that it is unfair that men just back from jungle fighting should be culled out if they fail in the first year. I consider that such men, if they so desire, should be allowed to repeat their first year’s studies in order that they may thereby qualify to complete the course. What I want for them is a second lease of life.
– Would the honorable member advocate a refresher course from January to March for those fellows?
– They entered the university at the beginning of the first term this year. They fear that they may fail and be mercilessly culled out, with the choice of the scrap heap or professions different from those to which they aspire. My brother’s son has entered the University of Queensland. He left Nudgee College at the age of seventeen years and immediately went into the Army. He is now 22 years old. Although he has only two more years to serve in order to complete his training as a licensed surveyor, he has decided first to take advantage of the Government’s training allowance of £3 a week in order to attend the university and qualify as an engineer. He will become an authorized surveyor later. I know that he will pass his examination at the end of the year, because he has shown skill in mathematics and kindred subjects, and, after all, he is a Blain, which is virtually synonymous with “ brains “. I have no misgivings on his behalf. I speak for other young men who may not have the advantages that he has. I ask that, should they fail at the end of this year, they be given another chance and an extra year in which to prove their suitability to undergo training for highly technical professions. I do not recommend any further extension than that, because it would not be fair to allow them to drag on for more than two years if they failed to qualify.
I refer now to the proposed expenditure of £20,800 for general expenses of the cinema and photographic services of the Department of Information. There has been a great deal of criticism of this item, but I have none to offer. Perhaps there is a great deal of waste within the Department of Information, but I am not aware of it. I do not consider it wasteful to expend money on publicizing Aus tralia by means of cinema and photographic services. When I was electioneering in Central Australia a few months ago, I met some officers of the department. I congratulate the Minister for Information on putting Central Australia, its natives, and their arts before the people of the world. Established artists discovered that some of the natives of Central Australia have considerable artistic talent, and the Minister sent two senior officers to make a motion picture record of these people and their work. While the officials were there, the Minister also instructed them to make a film of the mica industry, which is being carried on in the inhospitable and remote MacDonnell Ranges, 300 miles east of Alice Springs. Years ago, I was told that this area would play a great part in the future development of Australia, because the brilliant light effects there, due to the nature of the country and the altitude, make it ideal for motion picture work. It is another Hollywood in embryo. The wonderful colouring of the MacDonnell Ranges. and the varying light effects of the mountains and the surrounding plains, provide great opportunities for film work. This area is unknown to the average Australian. The Minister’s officers agreed with me that,, when the features of this area are discovered by overseas experts, it will develop into an Australian Hollywood. I ask the Minister to have this opinion verified by successful motion picture executives from other parts of the world. At present, it is a pastoral and mining region, but itspeculiar properties could be used to gain valuable publicity for Australia overseas. Its height above sea level and the properties of the actinic rays there seem to make it unique, not only in Australia,, but also throughout the world, as a site for a film industry. There are other matters on which I wish to speak, but I realize that honorable members areanxious to bring their problems to the notice of Ministers, and therefore I shallreserve further remarks until detailed items of proposed expenditure in theNorthern Territory come before thecommittee.
.- I support what the honorable member forthe Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) has- said.. First, I commend the Commonwealth Government for its vigorous entry into the field of education. This is a new field of activity for the Commonwealth. Education in Australia has mostly been carried out by the States, without much help or guidance from the Commonwealth. We all agree that in these days, when there is such a clash of “ isms “ in the world and when we must fight to safeguard the fundamentals of democracy, education should be tackled as a national, as well a3 a State, problem. The Commonwealth Government has done well in coming forward, nervously at first, into this field. I am sure that the people support its action and that it need not be fearful. I endorse all that the honorable member for the Northern Territory said about the proposed expenditure for ex-servicemen who wish to undertake university courses. We must give to returning servicemen the opportunities to undertake university’ training which they were denied while fighting for us on battlefields throughout the world. Those who have been served best by the university scheme are those who stayed at home, and therefore the needs of exservicemen deserve special consideration. Perhaps the law will have to be widened in order that they may be given an extra year in which to decide whether they may carry on with their university studies or not. Ex-servicemen have been upset mentally in a way that none of us can .understand unless we are in close contact with men of their kind. The proposed expenditure on .university training is £4,077,000. The figure is remarkable, but the need is great. The proposed allotment for technical training throughout the Commonwealth is £9,227,000. This makes a total of £13,304,000. I am sure nobody will object to this proposed expenditure at a time when we are budgeting for the expenditure of £6,000,000 for research into the development of guided projectiles for means of destruction. I am afraid that any war in years to come would be far from a “ Sunday school picnic “, because all nations seem to be devoting money to research into weapons of destruction. We are in an atomic age, and we do not know what may happen from one day to another. Any government that sacrificed education for research into methods of warfare would be betraying its - people. I consider that the Government has given the right amount of emphasis to the importance of the two subjects by setting aside £6,000,000 for atomic research and £13,000,000 for education. I have wondered why the Government has not also made provision for grants to the State governments for the general development of education within the States.
In September last year, I read with great interest reports of debates in this Parliament on the Education Act. Under the Act, a Commonwealth Office of Education was established. Some people may wonder whether it has “ fizzled out “, like many other governmentappointed boards have done. However, it is functioning well, under its Director, Professor R. C. Mills. One of its functions is to co-operate with the State governments and establish a kind of liaison for educational development within the States, and also to establish liaison with other countries. That is why the New Educational Fellowship was invited to hold its conference an Australia this year. It held meetings in several of the capital cities and did’ valuable work. The interchange of ideas with other nations will help us to outlaw war. The Education Act provides, secondly, that the Commonwealth Office of Education shall conduct research relating to education. Thirdly, it shall provide statistics and general information relating to the development of Commonwealthwide education for the States and overseas education agencies. Fourthlyand this is the main point - it shall advise concerning the granting of financial assistance to the States and to other authorities for educational purposes. I wondered why no reference to the last matter is contained in the Estimates. However, I understand that at the last conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, the Premier of Tasmania, Mr. Cosgrove, who is a former Minister for Education in that State and is a keen believer in progressive methods of education, suggested that the Commonwealth, through the Office of Education, should make a grant of £13,000,000 a year to the States for the purposes of general education. For many obvious reasons, the conference did not accept that proposal. The subject had not been thoroughly investigated. Therefore, a decision was deferred, and in the meantime, a committee is making inquiries to ascertain whether it will be practicable and suitable for the Commonwealth to provide money for this purpose. Obviously, many conditions would have to be imposed in order to ensure that the money was expended on education, and not on, say, railways or some other State responsibility. I hope that eventually the Commonwealth will make available to the States money for the purposes of general education.
Tasmania is particularly anxious to receive this assistance, because it has planned the establishment of seventeen area schools during the next five years. These will be in addition to the seventeen area schools already in existence. The money required for this purpose will be expended in a very useful manner, as all who have seen the area school system in operation agree. Other States may have special ways of expending on education a special Commonwealth grant.1 Therefore, I urge the Minister to bear in mind these representations, and when the committee’s report is referred to the next conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, I hope that it will be possible to provide a Commonwealth grant to the States for educational purposes.
On some occasions when the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) is speaking, I believe that he should sit on this side of the chamber. I desire to refer to the proposed expenditure of £20,800 on cinema and photographic services. In my opinion, the Department of Information is doing a wonderful service to Australia in this field, and I should like the scope to be extended. A body named the Australian National Film Board is in existence. Let it not remain just a board which meets annually, half-yearly or quarterly, when the members have a cup of tea, or drink a glass of beer, and do nothing. Let this board be an active organization which will develop this vast field. For too long, we have been dominated by American films. Mr. J. Arthur Bank has done a great service to Australia by making it possible that 50 per cent, of the films shown in certain Australian theatres shall be British films. The day is approaching when Australian films will be screened throughout the world, as widely as The Overlanders - a very commendable effort indeed in Australian acting and technical services, and, in part production. Let us have more of them. The Southern Tasmanian Cine-sound Society has just been formed. The only members are 30 ex-service men ami women, who are producing on a small scale at the moment half-length films of stories with a Tasmanian setting. Later, they hope to produce full-length films. The Hobart Mercury last Saturday featured this society in a special article. Through the Department of Information we must encourage this organization. The society is now starved foa- funds, but it is gradually acquiring equipment. I commend it for its enterprise in this field. I agree with this proposed expenditure; 1 wish that it was double the amount. We could afford to treble it. I hope that in the next twelve monthes, the amount will be considerably increased and that in a few years, the Australian National Film. Board will weld these small societies into one nationwide film production unit.
.- I desire to reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson). In referring to the slow movement of ships in Australian ports, I made it perfectly clear, as I have on many other occasions, that I was not directing my criticism against the Australian wage-earner. Like any other element in the community the Australian worker is a human being, who responds to the ordinary inducements, reproofs and rebuffs. But if we find that a gang which used to load 28 tons an hour before the war is now loading only 14 tons, we should seek the explanation. We do not attack or criticise the worker. We look for the cure, and attempt to apply it. My whole criticism is directed against this Government. The honorable member for Hindmarsh did not attempt to answer any of the facts that I alleged, or say that the men are loading at a rate exceeding 14 tons an hour. He did not contradict my assertion that ships spend 67 per cent, of their time in port, compared with 40 per cent, before the war. All that the honorable member said was that members of the Opposition were attacking the working man, and were not helping the Government. It i3 not our aim particularly to help this Government. Our object is to help Australia. Whilst we do not attack the worker, we do contend that this Government is letting Australia and the wage-earner down, because it does not examine the causes of those effects or endeavour to apply the cure.
The honorable member far Hindmarsh also said that our proposal regarding child endowment would undermine the basic wage. What nonsense! When we introduced child endowment, the people who commended it most, and who commended it to .members of the Labour party in this Parliament, were the leaders of the trade unions. They did not say that the Menzies Government was undermining the basic wage. They made a special trip to Canberra for the purpose of seeing that the child endowment legislation was passed. When the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley-) introduced legislation to increase the endowment from 5s. to 7s. 6d. a week, the trade union leaders applauded it, as we did. Indeed, we gave to that measure our unanimous support. Shortly before the end of the last Parliament, we endeavoured to persuade the Treasurer to extend the endowment payment to the first child, but he rejected our proposal. Did the leaders of the trade unions commend the Treasurer’s refusal, and say that our proposal, if adopted, would undermine the basic wage? Of course, they did not. They put pressure on the Government to adopt our suggestion. The criticism that Ave are attempting to undermine the basic wage is humbug. When we introduced child endowment, the basic wage was lower than it is to-day. In a few moments, I shall give the comparative figures. The honorable member said that the Arbitration Court used to fix the basic wage on the basis of man, wife and three children. He should know, as one who has studied industrial matters for many years that the Court said “ We fix the basic wage at the highest amount that industry can afford to pay”. That being the attitude of the court, it cannot make specific provision for a family loading. There is no direct relation between the basic wage and family responsibilities. Our whole thesis has been that the Parliament must make some provision in respect of family responsibility, and, having done so, leave it to the court to fix the highest wage which industry can afford to pay. That would meet the position in relation to industry, and provide specifically for those who have family responsibilities.
I rose primarily to reply to the extraordinary allegation of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) that I had made the sinister suggestion that the Government was attempting to “ doctor “ the basic wage. There is nothing sinister in that allegation. Ministers have claimed proudly for many years that they have stabilized our cost of living by their subsidy arrangements. There is nothing shameful in their view about that. They do not want inflation to get out of hand, nor do they want costs to rise. As an essential element in the stabilization of costs, they had to stabilize the basic wage. Their expert witness stated in the Arbitration Court last week that an increase tff the basic wage by 5s. a week would mean an increase of the cost of living by 2 per cent. They were committed to keeping down the cost of living, and after J apan came into the war set about doing that by specific measures. Let me give one concrete example of how it has been achieved. I quote from figures published by the Commonwealth Statistician. At the 1st September, 1939, just before the outbreak of the Avar, the basic wage in Melbourne was £4 ls. a week. At the 1st February, 1943, it was £4 18s. a week, having risen by 17s. a week in the intervening period, consequent upon increases which had taken place in the prices of commodities. At that time, the Government was grappling with the problem of stabilizing prices. It succeeded in keeping the basic wage static, as is shown by the .fact that it did not rise in Melbourne between the 1st February, 1943, and the 1st February, 1946. That was achieved by controlling the prices of items in the regimen on which the Commonwealth Statistician bases his computation of the basicwage. If honorable members will peruse statement No. 7 of the statements which the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has placed before them, they will find details of price stabilization subsidies. I have mentioned potatoes and tea. I chose them deliberately, because they are two representative items which are included in the cost-of-living regimen. They are only representative, and are not examples of many similar items in the regimen. There are no other fruits or vegetables in the cost-of-living regimen. I challenge the Minister to show that there are. I also ask him to show what other beverages there are apart from tea, and, I think, milk. Let us consider what has happened. The Government has estimated that this year payments on account of subsidy will be:
Potatoes, £2,500,000; tea, £3,000,000; whole milk, £2,500,000; imported textile and clothing materials, which are included in the clothing item, £2,000,000; recoupment of basic wage adjustment, £1,300,000;woolfor home consumption, which also is included in the clothing item, £1,500,000; total of price stabilization subsidies, £15,800,000. The Government has selected items which are supposed to be representative. It is not found giving subsidies in respect of coffee, cocoa, beer, or other beverages, or in respect of other fruits and vegetables which the family on the basicwage has to consume. It set out deliberately to give subsidies in respect of the representative items - tea, potatoes, and milk, in order to keep the basic wage static; and, as the figures issued by the Commonwealth Statistician prove, it has succeeded in doing that. But there are many other itemswhich the housewife has to purchase. These include fruit and vegetables, furniture and clothing - the cost of which has increased by 68 per cent. since the beginning of the war. These have to be paid for out of the basic wage.
– The time allotted for the discussion of the Estimates of the Department of Labour and National Service, the Department of Transport, the Department of Information, and the De partment of Post-war Reconstruction has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Defence and Post-war (1939-45) charges -
Defence and Service Departments.
Proposed vote, £124,409,000.
Proposed vote, £13,052,000.
Reciprocal Lend-Lease. .
Proposed vote, £5,000,000.
Re-Establishment and Repatriation.
Proposed vote, £28,113,000.
Proposed vote, £8,000,000.
United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.
Proposed vote, £15,000,000.
Proposed vote, £23,086,000.
Proposed vote, £3,409,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
.- I bring to the attention of the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) complaints regarding the revaluation of certain land by the War Service Homes Commission. I am particularly concerned because of the number of instances that have been brought to my notice by a municipal council in my electorate, as well as by branches of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. The valuations in question have been placed upon land that has been in the possession of the Repatriation Commission since the 1914-18 war. I refer particularly to land in the Hunter’s Hill municipality in my electorate. It embraces a considerable number of blocks of land that have been held by the War Service Homes Commission for almost twenty years with the object of erecting war service homes on them. The commission has not made any attempt to utilize the land for building purposes, or to have fresh valuations made in respect of it. I have received correspondence from some of my constituents who desire to obtain blocks of this land, as well as from the Hunter’s Hill sub-branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia and the municipal council in the area. In it, certain facts are stated in support of the claim by ex-servicemen that they are being unjustly treated in the matter of valuations. I quote from » letter written to me by the Hunter’s Hill sub-branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia -
Mr. J. I. McLaren, residing at Mirimbah Flats, Alexandra-street, Hunter’s Hill, recently entered into negotiations with the commission for the grant of a loan of £1,250 .to build n home on the commission’s land at Boronia in the municipality of Hunter’s Hill. It was arranged that the building should be started in the New Year. Plans have been drawn for a fibro house and approximately £80 architect’s foes incurred, but Mr. McLaren states that lie will also have to provide another £150 from his own finances in order to have a building to suit his family’s requirements.
Mr. McLaren selected a block of land with a frontage of 4.1 feet x 120 feet, being lot 49 of the McCarry Estate, Boronia, at the corner of Baron’s-crescent and Gaza-avenue. The land was valued at £06 but Mr. McLaren was informed that a valuation was to be made hr the commission. Last Monday, he was Informed that the land had been valued by the commission at £200. Needless to say Mr. McLaren is a very disappointed man, as the valuation now placed on the land means that he is precluded, financially, from proceeding with his plans.
Another serviceman, Mr. Ward, residing at the same address as Mr. McLaren, also onto red into negotiations with the commission to purchase lot 10 in the same area, situated at the corner of High-street and Park-road, Boronia.. In his case the land was valued at £74 but the commission’s valuation is £170. The frontage of Mr. Ward’s block is 43 feet.
Another constituent told me that he intended to purchase a block of land in the Lane Cove area which was originally valued at £80, but that after he had completed his plans he found that he was to be charged about £200 for the land, notwithstanding that a similar block in the same street owned by a civilian was still valued at £80. I quote again from the letter from the Hunter’s Hill sub-branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia -
Some time ago the then Minister for Housing, Mr. Lazzarini, inspected the area, together with representatives from the Hunter’s Hill Council and the State and Federal mein- be rs for the district and declared the land would be made available to servicemen. He promised that (the land would bc available at the valuation then placed on it and that the servicemen would get a fair deal.
I was present at this inspection and my understanding of the Minister’s statement was that if on revaluation the land was increased in value the difference would be placed to the credit of the exserviceman. No attempt at revaluation was made for over twenty years, but after the inspection and the Minister’s statement the council made available to the Hunter’s Hill and Gladesville subbranches of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia a number of blueprints of the area which comprised 80 blocks. Much publicity was given to the area, and great interest in the land was created among ex-servicemen in the two sub-branches. As the valuations of the land were quoted at between £60 and £80 a block, there was keen interest in them, and they were quickly taken up. In fact, practically all the land in the area has been claimed by ex-servicemen. The letter continues -
It is not known how many servicemen are affected under the circumstances outlined herein but it has been stated by a reliable authority that the whole of the land was very quickly taken up shortly after the publicity mentioned had been given. I am able to gi.ve von, however, two concrete cases and it is my committee’s desire that this question be taken up with the present Minister for Housing. We want to be informed if the present Minister intends to honour the promise made by the former Minister, and the basis used for arriving at the present valuations set by the commission.
It appears also that the valuations placed on this land are extremely high compared with their values at the time of the inspection. Many ex-servicemen who have gone to the expense of having plans prepared are not in a position to o pay the increased prices. It must be remembered that in an endeavour to help ex-servicemen the council advertised the land widely and indicated that at the existing value the proposition was attractive. In view of the revaluation of the land, the council is in a very awkward position. As I have said, the Minister’s statement was interpreted to mean that any increase of the valuation of the land would go to the credit of the ex-serviceman, who would not suffer because the land had increased in value. I ask the Minister to examine the two cases which I have mentioned, and, indeed, the whole subject of valuations, because there may be other cases. An increase of the valuation of a block from £70 to £200, which is more than twice the council’s valuation for rating purposes, seems to call for an explanation. The “War Service Homes Commission does not appear to be willing to explain the basis of its valuation. In justice to exservicemen, the Hunter’s Hill council and to the commission itself, I desire to know why the commission waited twenty years before deciding to have the blocks revalued. I know that the Minister will give careful consideration to this matter and will endeavour to act justly to all concerned.
.- The matter raised by the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) will be given early attention. It is true that the commission bought a considerable area of land after the war of 1914-18 ended, and that much of that land has not been used for the erection of homes. It may be that, in some instances, the capital value of the land has risen beyond its real value because of an accumulation of rates and interest. The Government realizes that this matter presents difficulties, and in April or May of last year it introduced legislation authorizing the War Service Homes Commission to revalue land and, subject to the Minister’s consent, to write down the values which had become excessive. The practice is that if an ex-serviceman wishes to purchase a block of land from the commission, that body’s valuation is compared with those placed on other similar blocks, and whichever is the lowest is the price which the ex-serviceman is called upon to pay. It would appear from the two instances mentioned by the honorable member for Martin that something is wrong, and I shall have them examined. It may be that the provision of roads, sewerage, water or other services has caused the values to be raised.
.- I appeal to the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan) and the Naval Board to improve the pay and conditions of men serving with the Royal Australian Navy in order to attract and keep men in the Navy service. The wholesale demobilization of members of the naval forces has been due to some extent to the fact that the service does not offer sufficient security to induce them to remain, and because the age of retirement is too early. Thus, the service is not attractive enough to induce men to make it their permanent career. In fact, only recently have officers been invited to make it their career, but it is a bit late now because so many of them became disheartened, and have drifted back into civil life, whereas, had they stayed on, they would probably have proved very useful members pf the service. We are all familiar with the magnificent reputation earned by the Royal Australian Navy during the war, and with the courage, efficiency and devotion to duty of the men who served in it. Their reputation compares favorably with that of the men of any other navy in the world.
This brings us to the subject of Australian naval losses during the war, which were particularly heavy. As a result, the supply of trained men was not enough to replace the losses. The Australian Navy entered the war with 7,000 men, whereas at the end of the war it had 40,000 men. The extra number consisted mostly of reservists, and it is of these that I wish to speak to-night. They are the men which the Navy needs, and it is they whom we must encourage. Pay and conditions should be improved, and the retiring age raised. Provision should also be made for deferred pay, and in this way we might hope to attract highly trained men who would be prepared to enter the Navy as a permanent career. Provision should be made for selecting ratings from all branches of the service - engineers, pay-masters, members of the executive, &c. - to undergo suitable training courses to become officers. It was in this way that the supply of officers was kept up during the war, both in the Australian Navy and the British Navy, and from my experience I know how invaluable were the men so trained. It is a great incentive to young men to join the Navy when they know that they have the chance of becoming officers. I have known ratings to qualify for commissioned rank after six months’ training - admittedly intensive training. In that time, men became fully qualified in gunnery, torpedo work and antisubmarine operations, which played such an important part in saving, not only Great Britain, but also the world. I now ask the Minister for the Navy to consider making provision for similar training courses in peace-time. The Royal Navy authorities paid a great tribute to the men of the Australian Navy for their service during the Avar. We all know what wonderful service the Australian Navy rendered to the Royal Navy, and its name has become well-known throughout the seven seas.
There is also this point to be considered : We now live in what is called the atomic age. I do not pretend to speak as an authority on these matters, but it seems to me that, having regard to the situation in Australia, the best way in which to meet the threat of atomic warfare is to be prepared at sea so that we may go out and meet it. The atomic bomb has been proved to be effective over a relatively small area only, so that an effective naval force could forestall an attack. I understand that the American and British naval authorities are working along those lines. Instead of waiting for the atomic bomb to come to them, they are preparing to meet it with a wellequipped, fast-moving naval force which would stand a reasonable chance of dodging the bombs. The recent experiments conducted by the American Navy support this theory to some extent. I should like to echo the words of the great British admiral who is present in Australia, Admiral Tovey, who, speaking of members of the Australian, naval forces who lost their lives in the war, used this simple phrase, “ Don’t forget them “. We should not forget naval men who gave their lives for Australia, and we should ensure that their sacrifice was not in vain. Therefore, I appeal to the Government to improve pay and conditions in the service so as to induce men to make it a permanent career. In this way, Ave may develop an efficient navy staffed by trained officers and men which would be available for mine-sweeping operations, which would be of sufficient strength to carry out manoeuvres, and be a force of which we might be proud.
.- I thank the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse for bringing this matter before the committee, and for speaking so effectively upon the subject in the light of his own experience. I have had conversations with the honorable member, and I understand that he has had wide experience in the Navy. His suggestions are timely, and, indeed, the very matters which lie has mentioned are now receiving the consideration of the Government. The naval policy of the Government Will depend, first on our security requirements under the terms of the United Nations agreements and, in a broader field, upon the general policy of imperial defence. The Naval Board has been concerned over the question of inducing young officers to make permanent careers for themselves in the Navy. During the war, when the naval forces were expanding, many young men. entered for the duration of the war only. Some of them would now like to continue in the service, but they believe that conditions are not sufficiently attractive to induce them to do so. They also say that prospects and conditions of employment in the commercial world are most attractive, and tend to unsettle these officers. This problem is causing the Naval Board grave concern ; because the Government has fixed the strength of the interim naval force at 13,500, which is almost double the personnel in 1939. In addition, the Government has laid down a long-term policy for ship construction. That policy must be subject to our commitments in respect of Empire defence. Honorable members will recall that the Governor-General’s Speech pointed out that our future defence requirements will be considerably in excess of our defence commitments in 1939. I thank the honorable member for Calare for his suggestions. I assure him that they will receive my earnest consideration.
On Wednesday last, during the Budget debate, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) raised the case of Mr. Farrell, formerly a lieutenant in the Royal Australian Navy, from which he was dismissed following trial by court.martial on the 22nd January, 1945, on a charge of desertion. In view of the case made out by the honorable member I have again reviewed the matter. The incidents which led up to the charge of desertion were as follows: - On the 3rd January, 1945, Lieutenant Farrell was serving on board H.M.A.S. Ballarat, then lying in Sydney Harbour. At 2 p.m. on that day he applied to his commanding officer for leave, but was informed that as the flotilla was about to sail to Jervis Bay for exercises, leave could not then be entertained, but consideration would be given to his application later. On receiving this decision Lieutenant Farrell showed signs of emotion, expressing his dissatisfaction with the naval service in general; and he made the remark, “ No leave, no sail “. During the day on the 2nd January, 1945, various officers heard Lieutenant Farrell make remarks in which he indicated his dissatisfaction with the naval service and his intentions not to sail with the ship. About 5.50 p.m. on the 2nd January, Lieutenant Farrell was seen to land with a considerable quantity of luggage. However, he returned on board H.M.A.S. Ballarat and was present at supper about 7.30 p.m. About 1.30 a.m. on the 3rd January Lieutenant Farrell ordered the motor boat to be brought alongside. He landed at Garden Island, und did not return, to his ship. At 8.30 a.m. on the 3rd January, a search was made for him, but he could not be found ; and when the vessel sailed at 9 a.m. that day he was not on board. When his cabin was searched it was found that his kit had been removed.
At 4.15 p.m. on the 3rd January, Lieutenant Farrell went to the Admiral’s office, Naval Base Head-quarters, Sydney, and stated that he had missed H.M.A.S. Ballarat on sailing that morning. About 4.30 p.m. on the same day he was seen by the chief staff officer, who asked him why he had missed the ship. He stated that he had done so on purpose and did not intend to return to the vessel. He further stated that he had a grievance. The chief staff officer pointed out that there was a service way in which to ventilate a grievance, and endeavoured, to persuade Lieutenant Farrell to return to his ship, but without success. At 5 p.m. the same day he was brought before the chief staff officer, who tried again to persuade him to return to his ship, but again without success. Lieutenant Farrell was then given an order by the chief staff officer as f ollows : - “ I now give you an order that you are to return to H.M.A.S. Ballarat by passage in a train which will be arranged for you to-morrow morning.” Lieutenant Farrell made no reply, and the chief staff officer asked him, “ Do you intend to carry out this order ? “ Lieutenant Farrell replied to the effect that he did not intend to obey the order. He was then placed under arrest.
Section 19 of the Naval Discipline Act defines the offence of desertion as the doing of any act by a person subject to the act, which shows an intention of the person not to return to his ship or place of duty. In this case, there is no doubt that Lieutenant Farrell, by his actions and statements, indicated that he had no intention of returning to his ship, and the charge of desertion was sustained. I also point on:t that Mr. Farrell was the flotilla navigation officer, and at the time of the offence Australia was at war. At the court-martial the accused pleaded guilty, and stated that he did so voluntarily. He was sentenced to be imprisoned for nine calendar months and to be dismissed from His Majesty’s service with certain forfeitures. Reviewing the minutes of the court-martial the Naval Board, having taken into account all the relevant circumstances, including Lieutenant Farrell’s service record and medical history, reduced the sentence of imprisonment to 60 days.
Naval regulations provide that a member of the Royal Australian Navy who deserts shall not be entitled to deferred pay. Lieutenant Farrell is therefore not entitled to any deferred pay under the regulations. The Government recently examined the whole question of forfeitures of deferred pay by members of the Royal Australian Navy on account of disciplinary offences, and in certain circumstances, purely as an act of clemency, restored the whole, or part, of the deferred pay of members accrued during the war, i.e., on and from the 3rd September, 1939, according to the nature of the offence. In the Government’s decision it was specifically laid down that a member of the Royal Australian Navy who is dismissed from His Majesty’s Service shall not be entitled to any payment ; Lieutenant Farrell was not, therefore, included amongst the number who benefited by the act of clemency. I should mention that this case had been reviewed by my predecessor, and it was considered that Lieutenant Farrell was properly found guilty of desertion and that there was no defect in the proceedings to warrant further review of the case. In that view I concur.
– I direct attention to the item - “ Jute products for primary industries - Subsidies “, for which it is proposed to appropriate an amount of £500,000, whereas last financial year an amount of £974,738 was expended under this heading. I am gravely concerned about the reduction of this vote. It would appear that the Government has not taken full account of the obligations which, I contend, rest upon it in respect of the payment of subsidies on jute goods to the sugar industry. I shall briefly outline the position with respect to the matter. Under the Sugar Agreement between the Commonwealth and the Queensland Governments, the latter is responsible for the acquisition! of the sugar crop, the distribution of that portion of the crop consumed in Australia and the exportation of the remainder. As part of that duty the State Government is required to supply sacks for the harvesting and refining of the crop. For many years, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited as agent of the State Government has been responsible for the provision of the necessary jute goods. That has applied to the sugar industry as a whole, with the exception of one small unit which in addition to being a manufacturer of raw sugar also has its own refinery.. I emphasize the fact that that small unit has not been operating under the general scheme. As the impact of the war commenced to be- more strongly felt in Australia difficulties arose in obtaining our requirements of jute goods from India, and the Government took action to co-ordinate such, supplies- as were available; but it agreed, in December, 1939, to allow the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited to continue to obtain the jute requirements of the sugar industry, as the company had been acting as the agent of the Queensland Government and had been sponsored by that Government in this regard. By May, 1940, the position had become so difficult that the Commonwealth Government appointed the Australian Wheat Board as the Commonwealth jute buyer, and directed it to handle the purchase of the jute requirements of primary industries generally. However, the Government agreed to the company continuing to operate as the jute buyer for the sugar industry, realizing that by so doing it would save a good deal of expenditure in the initial period That arrangement was continued for approximately three years until April, 1943, when . the Government’s price stabilization plan came into operation. When that plan commenced to operate, a purchaser of jute goods through the Commonwealth . jute buyer automatically obtained the subsidy paid under the price stabilization plan without the necessity for a formal application being submitted. No subsidy, however, has been received by the sugar industry, with the exception of that small unit which was not obtaining its requirements through the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited. Naturally, as the position developed, the industry began to press for payment of the subsidy which was paid to other primary industries, its representations being strongly supported by the State Government. By June, 1945, the position had become somewhat acute and, finally, representations were made by representatives of the company and of the State Government that the subsidy should be paid. By this time the total amount due to the industry by way of subsidy had amounted to £667,000.’ The Commonwealth Government, however, refused to grant this request. The only sweetening of the bitter pill of that refusal was a statement by the then Minister for Trade and Customs that the Government might be prepared to consider the payment of the subsidy after that date. There can be no reason for this refusal unless it be a desire on the part of the Government to discriminate against the sugar industry. Since then and up to the present time the payments owing to the sugar industry hy way of subsidy amounted to a further £400,000. Thus the total amount due to the industry on this account is slightly in excess of £1,000,000. In response to that claim for payment of this further £400,000 the Government said that the matter would be referred to the Tariff Board for investigation and report. Again this can only be described as discrimination against the sugar industry, because in referring the matter to the Tariff Board the Minister stated that the board was to report “ whether any financial assistance to the Australian sugar industry for the 1946 season is justified and, if so, the extent and means of granting the assistance considered appropriate in the circumstances “, adding that this reference arose from a request by the Australian sugar industry for the payment of a subsidy on jute goods used in the sugar industry. There is not the slightest reason why the Tariff Board should determine whether or not the subsidy should be paid. All other industries have received it automatically without having to submit to a lengthy investigation of that kind. From information I have received recently, I understand that the Government has now decided to consider the matter further without referring it to the Tariff Board. When I note that an appropriation of only £500,000 is to be made for the subsidy - most of which could be absorbed by the payment of the amount due to the sugar industry itself - I am doubtful of the Government’s intention to pay the subsidy. I ask the Minister to give this matter his most earnest and favorable consideration.
– It is true that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited was to some degree made the agent for the sugar industry in the buying of its requirements of sacks, and that the Government has heavily subsidized the requirements of jute goods for certain industries. I desire to make it clear that there has been no discrimination against the sugar industry in this regard and that what the honorable member has alleged to be discrimination is in fact merely the observance of a cardinal principle by those who control price subsidies. At the very outset the question of what subsidies should be paid to different industries was a matter for decision by a Cabinet sub-committee on which originally there were three departments represented, namely, the Departments of the Treasury, Trade and Customs, and War Organization of Industry. In later days the Department of Post-war Reconstruction replaced the Department of War Organization of Industry on the subcommittee. The function of my department on that body was to make inquiries to ensure that the industries themselves could not bear added costs whether of jute or any other material. If, after investigation, it was proved that the industry was in such a flourishing condition’ that it could afford to bear the extra costs, payment of the subsidy was withheld.
– The sugar industry is not in that position.
– I believe it is. It is not a question of the extra costs an industry has to pay for its requirements, but whether the industry can afford to pay such additional costs. Up to date the Government has been of the opinion that the sugar industry has been in a position to meet these additional costs of its requirements of jute products. The matter was referred to the Tariff Board because that was the appropriate body to ascertain whether an industry could or could not afford to bear additional costs. As the honorable member has said, this matter is being further examined by the Department of Trade and Customs, and if it can be proved to its satisfaction and to the satisfaction of the Cabinet sub-committee that the industry cannot afford to bear these additional costs the subsidy will, no doubt, be paid.
.- The Royal Australian Air Force is in process of rapid disintegration. What has been said by the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) about the Navy, applies hi even greater measure to the Royal Australian Air Force. During the war, the strength of the Royal Australian Air Force was approximately 187,000 ; to-(bay according to information given to me in reply to a question that I asked in this House, a strength of 15,000 is aimed at, but enlistments so far total only 1:1,000. I can say quite definitely that there is not a single squadron in Australia in operational condition to-day. Our principal air force, of course, is in Japan. It is true that we are going through a transition period, and that great changes will occur in the armament of all forces ; but it is inevitable that the Air Force will have a greater responsibility than it has had in the past. Iia radius of action will be greater, and with the development of atomic warfare and guided missiles, undoubtedly the Air. Force will play the principal part both in defence and offence in any future war. Our air force to-day is totally inadequate, and the Government is not giving sufficient attention to its efficiency. I have asked over and over again in this House that a definite statement, of policy be made. I know that there is an establishment. I have asked questions in regard to it, but have been told that certain matters cannot be disclosed. I see no reason why honorable members should not bo told. The Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) could say that the Government’s aim is to keep 20, 30 or 50 operational squadrons. I understand that the splendid citizen air force which, during the war, played such a great part in the Royal Australian Air Force does not now exist. Another criticism I have to make is that in the interim air force the period of service is too short. Many good men have turned down opportunities to enter the interim air force for this reason. They know that when their period of service expires they will return to civilian life only to find that their former colleagues have all been reestablished in civilian -jobs, and that their own future is uncertain. Over and over again we have asked that a proper pension system be introduced so that men in the Royal Australian Air Force may be assured that when their period of service has elapsed, they will not be thrown on to the scrap heap without any recognition of their work.
The strength of the Air Training Corps - the cadet corps of the Royal Australian Air Force - was approximately 9,000 during the war, but to-day it is approximately 2,000. Not only do they want to learn to fly, but also to take their places in the ground organization. Skilled men for the maintenance of aircraft are scarce in the Royal Australian Air Force to-day. The Air Training Corps lacks officers, yet hundreds of officers have been demobilized from the Royal Australian Air Force, and who would give their services willingly and voluntarily to teach these lads are ignored. The Empire Air Training Scheme was one of the best examples of Empire co-operation ever seen. Thousands of young men who had undertaken some training in their own countries, converged upon Canada and Britain. They were equal to the best airmen in the world, and they distinguished themselves in every theatre of the war. My criticism of the Royal Australian Air Force based on my own observations and experience is backed by such distinguished airmen as Flight Lieu.tenant Peter Isaacson, D.F.C., A.F.C., D.F.M., a distinguished bomber pilot who ha 3 said -
Experienced operational commanders who won high rank in battle are resigning their commissions because of Government apathy in the future of the Royal Australian Air Force Those who are staying do so knowing that when their term of service is done they are likely .to be thrown on the scrap heap in thi* prime of life, as were a dozen or more senior officers of the Royal Australian Air Force recently. The reason given for the disintegration of the Royal Australian Air Force is that the full requirements for Empire defence are not yet known; but this reason does not hold water when one considers what the Royal Air Force is doing.
The Royal Air Force has drawn up plans for the establishment of 20 citizen air force squadrons. In the Royal Australian Air Force the esprit de corps has been lost, and it is the duty of the Minister to make a definite pronouncement of the Government’s policy. Whilst he may be able to challenge some of my figures in some small degree he cannot disprove my statements that the Royal Australian Air Force is disintegrating. On airfields throughout the Commonwealth, hundreds of aircraft are rotting, many of them because there are not sufficient men in the maintenance musterings to service them. The time for a pronouncement of the policy is long overdue.
What I have said of the Royal Australian Air Force may be said also of the Army. General Blarney has made appeals to the Government in the press to ensure that when the census is taken next year it should include a man-power survey so that we shall be able to mobilize our labour resources efficiently should we be called upon to defend ourselves at some future date. To-day, the service Ministers are busy disbanding and smashing up our armed forces. I know that much of this work is essential. The general feeling is “ the war is over ; let us disperse and disband “, but I fear that history is repeating itself. It was- a Labour government which in 1929 transferred the Royal Military College from Duntroon to Sydney, where it functioned on a smaller scale, transferred the Royal Naval College from Jervis Bay to Flinders Naval Base, put staff officers, many of them our leading generals today, on half pay, and generally, whittled down our defence forces. I remember seeing with sadness our only two submarines sailing through Port Phillip heads for Great Britain, unwanted in this country. Much the same thing is happening to-day. It may be claimed that the nucleus of our armed forces remain, but it is much easier to scrap an efficient defence organization than it is to build one. The British Labor Government is alive to the situation. It realizes that in view of present international problems to-day, and particularly Russia’s attitude, Great Britain cannot afford to disarm. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Dalton, said-
The Government asked for continuance of conscription because the future of international relations was obscure, uncertain and in some respects dangerous.
This was not an age for the laying down of arms or defending on the altar of credulity.
Britain must arm strongly and powerfully, for she had the additional duty of contributing forces to the United Nations.
– The honorable member does not suggest that we should retain men who have given efficient service during the war.
– No. They should be discharged, but drafts should be called up to replace them. The point I am endeavouring to make is that the pay and the conditions of members of our fighting forces should be made attractive. We must face the prospects of having to call up army drafts at some time or other. When the census is being taken next year - it will cost a large sum of money - provision should be made for the collection of all information that would enable us to act immediately in time of emergency in the same way that the Air Training Corps of the Royal Australian A,ir Force should be allowed to function efficiently. Every facility should be given for the military training of school cadets. These young men are anxious to do what their older brothers have done, and they do not want to be unprepared should we be unfortunate enough to be involved in another war.
Aircraft production is another matter that requires some attention. This activity was commenced in this country by the Lyons Government when the Commonwealth Aircraft Company was inaugurated. Then followed the establishment of the Beaufort division. The de Havilland organization also embarked upon production of aircraft during the regime of that Administration. Production reached its peak during the war. It is a most difficult matter to keep abreast of modern developments such as jet propulsion, and to this end, we must send experts overseas. We must be careful not to produce obsolete aircraft. For instance we are spending millions of pounds upon the production of Lincoln aircraft which very soon will be out of date. The same applies to Rolls Royce engines. We should concentrate on the production of jet engines and modern aircraft. I know that there is an intention to change over to the production of aircraft and engines of modern type in Australia, but, at this juncture, this important task is being thrown into the hands of the Department of Munitions. That department has retracted very much. Its activities have been curtailed. Army supplies are not wanted to anything like the degree that they were wanted during the war, but aviation experimentation and the manufacture of aircraft, at least on a small scale, are essential all the time. I put on the notice-paper a series of questions addressed to the Minister for Munitions (Senator Armstrong) in that regard. One question, which ought to interest the Minister for Air, was “ “Why was aircraft production not given to the Minister for Air?”
– It never was under the control of the Minister for Air.
– That is so, but my point is why not put it under his control now rather than make it subsidiary to munitions. I am told that that is the province of the Prime Minister, and that he does not say why these things are done. That is no answer. If aircraft production were put in its proper perspective, it would not be secondary to munitions. I hope that the officers associated with the aircraft side of the Munitions Department’s activities will have direct access to the Minister and not have to go through another department, cutting through swathes of red tape. What I have said is not captious criticism. I have spoken as an Australian who knows the dangers of unreadiness and the need for training our young men in the use of arms lest we should again he forced into .war. The expenditure of scores of millions of pounds in itself does not make for efficiency in defence. The need is men. We are a small nation that must work in harmony with the other members of the nations comprising the British Empire. We must also make regional agreements with the United States of America.
– All that has been done, too.
– Yes. I am sure that the new Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers) is doing his job with enthusiasm. I hope that the Minister for Air will not let our splendid Air Force be whittled down to such proportions that it will be difficult to reconstruct it. I ask him to make an early statement on a positive policy for the Royal Australian Air Force.
– I have listened with mixed feelings to the criticisms offered by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White). In closing his speech, he said that he did not desire to indulge in captious criticism, but 1 hope I do not misjudge the honorable gentleman when I say that most of what he said in the brief time in which he spoke was captious criticism.
– Where was I captious?
– I am glad to have the honorable member’s assurance that he did not mean to indulge in captious criticism, but I remember when the honorable gentleman was clamouring for the discharge of men from the Air Force in order to save the taxpayers money. Time and time again honorable members opposite have pressed and pressed for demobilization- of the armed forces. Demobilization of the Air Force was carried out more effectively than was demobilization of the air forces of other allied countries. What the honorable member for Balaclava deduces from that is that we have let the Air Force dwindle to the stage at which it is completely ineffective. If the honorable member was knocked out in a strenuous fight one would not expect him to be ready to fight the next day. Of course we were victorious. Notwithstanding that we are charged with the duty of demobilizing the forces in order to let our limited numbers of men and women return to civil industry, we are told that we should retain the Air Force in such condition as to be ready to fight again immediately. Not even in Great Britain does that condition obtain. Considering our resources, however, we are in as favorable a position as allied countries. Those in charge of the administration of the Air Force, including myself, have been maligned by people outside who desire to perpetuate whatever disaffections existed in the Air Force when I took over the portfolio of the Department of Air. I hope that the honorable member for Balaclava will be constructive when criticizing matters of this kind.
– Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the Estimates for Defence and Post-war (2939-45) Charges has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Proposed vote, £2,196,000.
Refunds of Revenue.
Proposed vote, £7,000,000.
Advance to Treasurer.
Proposed vote, £10,000,000.
War (1914-18) Services.
Proposed vote, £700,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
Proposed votes agreed to.
Proposed vote, £1,437,000.
Proposed vote, £23,329,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– I am very pleased to see that the proposed vote for the Postmaster-General’s Department this year is greater than the expenditure of that department last year, but if the expenditure last year is any indication of the policy to be applied this year, I am afraid that country districts will not receive much of a deal. Last year, of the £3,700,000 expended by the Postmaster-General’s Department on new works, £2 of every £3 was expended in the six capital cities. If we have regard to what was expended in the other cities of Australia we can readily understand why the country districts are neglected. Requests for improved services in country districts are refused by the department on the plea that labour and materials are not available. The Government gives preference to the cities in that regard. I concede that the bulk of the department’s revenue conies from the cities, but that should not be the guiding principle in the allocation of money for the provision of its services. Nor should the department be regarded as a profit-making department for the benefit of Consolidated Revenue. Whatever profits are derived by it in providing services to the people ought to be directed to the provision of more and better services, not only in the cities where the people are already fairly well catered for, but also in rural districts where the needs of the people have been neglected for too long. I have yet to see one rural post office that has been repaired or renovated since the war ended, and there are many urgently in need of one or the other. Yet the department is able to go ahead with the provision of a new automatic telephone exchange in Melbourne. As an instance of the way in which country districts are neglected in the provision of postal and telephonic facilities, I cite the post office at Kingaroy, where 32 employees have to work in a room whose dimensions are approximately 30 feet by 20 feet. Dalby post office is in the same category. Promises have been made that these two buildings will be erected, but no start has yet been made. I could go on indefinitely citing similar examples. I submit that at least 50 per cent. of the department’s proposed expenditure on construction this year should he applied to meet the needs of country people.
Water conservation and irrigation are more important than standardization of railway gauges. Once new primary industries were thereby established, railways would follow. I am opposed to the expenditure of £200,000,000 on transcontinental railway services, except for the cost of the link with Port Augusta and the northsouth line to Darwin, which is necessary for strategic purposes. I hope that the Government will recognize the principle that all profits made by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department should be used to provide services for the people.
.- The Postmaster-General’s Department has been subjected to a great deal of criticism recently because it cannot satisfy the great demand for increased telephone services throughout the Commonwealth. Honorable members are besieged with requests to urge upon the PostmasterGeneral the importance of providing new telephone services, particularly in outback districts. I sympathize with the Minister because the manufacture and importation of telephone equipment were curtailed during the war, whereas during that time the demand continually increased until to-day there is a list of about S0,000 applicants for telephones. I appreciate the fact that two years may elapse before the demand can be satisfied. Nevertheless, the department has shown very big profits, and I cannot understand why some of this money has not been “ ploughed back “ into the department’s services. For instance, I should like to have seen the war-time loading of onehalfpenny withdrawn from the ordinary letter postage charge. I am sorry that the Government was unable to reduce the rate to 2d., because the reduction, would have considerably helped the people. On a purely business footing, the department could well afford the reduction. A very small section of postal servants is not receiving the justice which is its due. I refer to the non-official postmasters, who have banded together in the Non-official Postmasters Association of Australia. These people cater mainly for outback districts, and usually the telephone exchanges which they operate are attached to their own homes. There are approximately 7,000 non-official postmasters in Australia. Recently, a new regulation was introduced increasing their hours of attendance at their exchanges. I understand that they are now obliged to attend from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on week days and from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sundays, in addition- to their other hours of duty. I have been told that they are to be paid at the rate of only ls. lid. an hour for this extra duty. That is scandalous. They do a great service for Australia. They have their own work to do as well as that of the non-official post offices. I know that many of them do much more than they are actually required to do by the department. They answer urgent telephone calls at night and at other times when they are not required to be on duty at the exchanges-, many of these calls are for medical aid. If they are to be paid at the rate of only ls. 1-Jd. an hour for their extra duty, that is a very grave reflection on the department. They are tied down by their duties. Even though they may be required to attend their exchanges for only a brief period each day, they cannot go away for very long at a time. I have spoken with some of these officials, and I consider that they deserve better recognition of the great services which they render in a quiet way in outback districts. They have fought for their rights through their association with very little success, and they are very disturbed about the latest increase of their duties. I realize that the proposed vote for Tasmania alone represents an increase from £581,600 to £711,100, but the small additional cost of giving these officials an adequate reward for their services would be slight in comparison with the general expenses of the department. The extra expense could be defrayed from the profits of the department. I submit this case “off my own bat “ as the result of my own observations. I was not asked to do so by the Non- official Postmasters Association.
– There is one matter of detail on the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department about which I should like to put a question. Itwould be unreasonable to expect the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), who represents the Postmaster-General, to answer the question offhand, but I should be obliged if he would be good enough to make a note of it and give me an answer at some convenient time. There is a short-wave broadcasting station at Shepparton which, I understand, was erected by the Postmaster-General’s Department. First of all, I should like to be informed of its. construction cost, which, I imagine, was probably debited to defence votes at the time of construction. Secondly, what is the annual cost of maintenance of the station and to what vote in the Postmaster-General’s estimates is this charged ? It may be that the cost is charged in part to this department and in part to another department.
.- I refer to several matters relating to the Postmaster-General’s Department. In Adelaide recently, I attended the annual social function of the Postmasters Association. I was greatly surprised to learn there of the disabilities under which many postmasters work. I am sure that honorable members generally will agree that their work has been increased considerably as the result of some of the Government’s social service legislation. For instance, they are obliged to handle the payment of widows’ pensions. They also deal with certain banking business. In the electorate of Boothby, some post offices are badly in need of repairs. Amenities should also be provided to enable post office staffs to work under better conditions. I now refer to mail officers, linemen, and postmasters’ assistants. Adult employees receive £5 ls. a week, and after they have been in the service for four years, they are paid £5 14s. a week. That increase should not bc so long withheld, particularly in view of the fact that these employees pay superannuation and taxes, which reduce their income considerably. I urge the Postmaster-General favorably to consider this matter.
One part of my electorate, in which the population is scattered, is served by a muster butcher. During the war, when the delivery of meat ceased, this business was described as a “ hardship run “. The butcher took orders over the telephone. His son was a licensed bookmaker, and on one occasion, the police found some betting slips in a vase or similar article in one of the rooms of the house adjacent to the shop. This man was convicted of having engaged in illegal starting-price betting, and his telephone was disconnected. For the last ten months, this butcher has been conducting his business under conditions of considerable hardship. The Minister representing the Postmaster-General will realize what I mean by that statement. I consider that, as he has paid the penalty, he should not be deprived of his telephone. Other people who have been convicted of more serious crimes, have been able to obtain the installation of telephones. In this instance, the customers are also greatly inconvenienced.
I have had brought to my notice, and I myself have noticed a particular kind or radio serial which is broadcast by some of the commerical stations. Some of these plays feature gruesome murders, and parents are unable to prevent their children from listening to them. A few nights ago, I heard an episode of a serial which ended with a shot and a scream, followed by the words “ Now the Shadow watches “. Some of the serious crimes which young people have committed in the last few years, may be attributed, in part, to these gruesome radio plays. Commercial broadcasting stations are granted licences .under the provisions of the Australian Broadcasting Act, which is administered by the PostmasterGeneral. I appeal to all stations to broadcast, for the benefit of the children, material of an educational character. 1 realize that the answer to this suggestion is that the children should not be allowed to listen to such broadcasts, and that, if a listener is dissatisfied with a gruesome play, he may turn to some other station.
– It is difficult to prevent the children from listening to these plays.
– I agree. When 1 listen to plays of this kind, I become distressed, because I consider that this material is detrimental to adolescent Australians. I suggest that stations should broadcast more plays like “ The Life of Melba “, which is an excellent performance, or incidents from Australian history, and stories about oustanding people.
– And “ Advance Australia Fair”?
– I have no objection to that. At all times, and particularly while I am in public life, I shall do everything in my power to “ advance Australia fair “ for the betterment of the people. I urge the Postmaster-General to examine my representations and endeavour to have a better kind of production broadcast for the children.
– I support the pleas of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) and the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) for inland post offices. I have an analogous case in my vast electorate, because the PostmasterGeneral’s Department seems to consider that amenities should not precede development. Unfortunately, progress in Australia has always been based upon that principle. All the available money has been expended on social services in the southern States. We must reverse that policy, and insist that amenities shall precede development. For example, we must install inland telephone services. In the Northern Territory, in order to save a Jew pounds a year, at various stations along the overland telegraph line, the department has availed itself of the services of the wives of mounted policemen, instead of employing full-time postmasters. That policy should be abandoned, and official post offices, with an official postmaster, should be established in those places. The department should not expect these women to be prisoners in those outlying places, because, under present conditions, they have to be on call at any hour of the day or night.
Like the honorable member for Maranoa, I am familiar with the condition of the post office at Kingaroy. The building in which the postmaster is housed abuts on to the post office. The Postmaster-General’s Department should not require a postmaster to live in a building attached to the office. A wife does not like to reside in a house which is a part of an official building. I see e vidence of that in the remote areas, and particularly at Kingaroy.
Whenever I write to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department ‘about the lack of services in the Northern Territory I know in advance that I shall receive the stereotyped reply, lt emanates from the senior inspectors, who seem to think that by adopting this attitude they are making “good fellows of themselves “. Of course, they are excellent, well trained officers, but, irrespective of the political party in office, they invariably give the stereotyped reply that “ because of the lack of revenue and the expense that would be involved, we cannot see our way clear to place a post office at such-and-such a place, or erect a telegraph line between two points “. This Government, or the succeeding government in the near future, should reverse that policy, and ensure that amenities shall precede development. At a place 30 miles south of Tennant Creek and 15 miles from the overland telegraph line, there lives a young woman who is married to a cattle man. She has two children. For the last twelve years, they have not had any telephone communication with other stations. Yet, the department could, without difficulty, have tapped the overland telegraph line, and thus allowed them to have communication with other people. When the husband is mustering cattle 100 miles from the homestead, the wife and her children become very lonely. I have not succeeded in obtaining approval for a “ hook-up “ from the overland telegraph line, although the husband has offered to erect the posts. The departmental explanation is that the “ hook-up “ would interfere with telephonic communications. However, I do not accept that, because a copper wire now runs overland to Darwin, and speaking from Sydney, I can hear a person in Darwin as clearly as if he were in the next room.
Of all the officials employed in the Commonwealth Public Service, the postmaster is among the most qualified persons that I know. When stationed in an outlying district, he does the work of three or four men. He must be able to send and receive perfectly in Morse code, be familiar with all the administrative routine of postal work and have an extensive technical knowledge. What do we find ? The postmaster at Darwin is living in a shack, whilst persons not nearly so highly qualified or holding such an important position are occupying the best of houses. The Postmaster-General should ensure the very best accommodation, and first priority for highly qualified officers who bring a great deal of revenue to the Commonwealth. I urge him to do this for the postmaster at Darwin at the earliest possible moment.
I should like the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) to refer to a letter which I wrote to the late Brigadier Street, when he was Minister for the Army. In it, I described the NorthSouth railway as nothing more than a tram-line. The route which it takes from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs is a bad one. The line is washed away every year, and instead of the journey from Adelaide occupying only three days it takes ten days. In 1939, and again last February, I took ten days to arrive at my destination, because much of the line
Lad been washed away. It was more or less laid on the surface. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth Railway Commissioner has allowed it to get into a state of disrepair. There is a long story appertaining to that. I believe that some years ago senior departmental officers revolted against the Commissioner. From what I have been able to gather - I have never obtained all the information, because I had enlisted and had left Australia before the matter was decided - the returns were bolstered up to make it appear that the profits on the railway were greater than they were, and much of the cost was debited to the laying of sleepers and the construction of the TransAustralia line. I suggest to the Minister that the railway. which is in a state of disrepair, should be re-routed to the westward, in the direction of the Petermann Ranges and the head-waters of the Finke River, where there is good cattle country. The Minister should obtain an expert report from a highly qualified railway construction engineer before the railway is continued from Alice Springs. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. It would be useless to have a first-class railway of 4-f t. 8^-in. gauge from Alice Springs to Darwin, unless the section between Oodnadatta and Alice Springs was comparable with it. When the line reached Tennant Creek, it should be taken northeast through the Barkly Tableland, within striking distance of the Gulf of Carpentaria. It should then follow a slight dog-leg route to Birdum, so that the Barkly Tableland would be split in two, rather than run due north from Alice Springs. If the Minister were to adopt my suggestion, the whole of the Barkly Tableland would be capable of development, and the detour north-east of Tennant Creek would add only slightly to the total distance.
I am concerned about the inland mail services. There is an inland mail service east and west of the overland telegraph line from Alice Springs, east through the Barkly Tableland to Borroloola and west through the Granites to Wyndham, returning via Daly Waters. The old residents are very perturbed because their parcels are dumped at depots for three or four months, waiting to be taken through by truck. Naturally, they do not feel justified in paying air freight on them. I have represented to the PostmasterGeneral the desirability of havinga monthly or a three-monthly service from Camooweal to Borroloola, eastward to the overland telegraph line and westward to Wave Hill from Katherine. I hope that that will be done.
.-Many of the people who live in country areas, particularly remote districts, are experiencing considerable delays in having telephones installed. I know that the Postmaster-General’s Department has had a good deal of difficulty in procuring the necessary equipment. Nevertheless, I do not believe that very much progress is being made in meeting requirements. Although well over a year has elapsed since the war ended, the applications for telephones number 80,000, and there seems no reasonable prospect of telephones being delivered to applicantswithin a reasonable time. I urge the Government to expedite deliveries to outlying country districts. Everybody agrees that country people need telephones moreurgently than do those who live in urban districts. I do not know whether any system of priority exists in connexion with certain professions, or persons who require telephones by reason of the nature of their business or the services they render to the community. Country areas should have priority. When an application for a telephone is made, the normal practice is to lodge a deposit. I understand that in the aggregate these deposits amount to a very large sum. The deposit should not be asked for until the installation is about to be made.
I agree with those honorable members who compliment the PostmasterGeneral’s Department on the conduct of postal services generally. Comparatively few letters are lost, except by occasional robberies for which I do not blame the department.
– The satisfaction expressed by the people concerning an efficient public service contrasts markedly with their criticism of private enterprise.
– I have no bouquets to hand to the Postmaster-General in’ connexion with the telephone service. On the contrary, I say that the telephone service in Australia is inefficient.
– The honorable member must be connected with the Windsor exchange.
– I have been connected with a number of exchanges, and my experience has been much the same in each case. I have spent hours waiting to make telephone calls at various places. The service is what one might expect in such countries as Liberia or Guatemala, where, possibly, the service is conducted by only partly civilized persons. In this country we have a right to expect greater efficiency in our telephone system. There is considerable room for improvement. When I raised this matter a couple of years ago I was told that it was difficult to obtain telephone operators, and that those who offered their services required training. Unfortunately there has been no improvement in the meantime. Indeed, I can only describe the service by using the unparliamentary term “ lousy “. I hope that there will soon be an improvement, so that it will be possible to say that there is 100 per cent, efficiency throughout the whole range of postal services.
.- I support the comments of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) regarding telephone services. The PostmasterGeneral .(Senator Cameron) is reported to have expressed the view that there should he a telephone in very home. What a foolish observation when the Minister knows that 80,000 applicants for telephones are still unsatisfied, and far from overtaking the demand the shortage is increasing every week! Not only is there a shortage of instruments ; it can also be said that almost everywhere the service is deteriorating.
– That is not correct.
– I could take the honorable member to towns where the people say that it is useless to try to make telephone calls. The trouble is that whenever there is a Labour Government in power there is a lack of discipline. The honorable member for Flinders referred to the practice of the department in demanding deposits from applicants for telephones notwithstanding the department’s inability to supply them. The department must have in hand £400,000 paid by people who have applied for telephones, in some instances many months ago and are still awaiting them. It is not right that applicants should be compelled :o pay deposits until there is a chance of telephones being installed within a reasonable time.
– It is not the practice to demand deposits.
– It is the practice in Queensland, and I have received numbers of protests about it. It would appear that only when a member of Parliament approaches the department on behalf of an applicant is a telephone provided. 1 believe that senior officers of the department are doing their best to meet the demand, but the delay in installing telephones is such as to make the PostmasterGeneral appear ridiculous when he advocates the installation of a telephone in every home. Instead of talking “ hooey “ be should do something to provide telephones. It should not he impossible to obtain the necessary materials.
– The tremendous demand for telephones is the result of the prosperity created by the Government.
– Now the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) is talking “hooey”. The shortage of telephones is the result of the war. I hope that in the near future telephone services will be improved.
The time has arrived to remove the surcharge of -Jd. imposed on each postal article during the war. In 1940-41, the department earned £19,495,213; in 1941-42, £22,462,684; in 1942-43. £25,579,340; in 1943-44, £27.512,988; and in 3944-45, the last year for which figures are available, £28, 728,191. A.<= can be seen, the figures are consistently rising, but so fan- there has been no indication of charges being proportionately reduced. The surpluses of the department are equally impressive. In 1941- 42, the surplus was £5,518,793; in 1942- 43, £6,142,6,45; in 1943-44, £6,297,103; and in 1944-45, £6,674,595. In spite, of the large surplus last year, the Government proposes to retain the extra M. postal surcharge, which is estimated to provide £1,250,000 this year.
– The surcharge was put on by a government which the honorable member supported.
– The Government of which the Minister is a member has been in office for more than five years, and should have removed the surcharge. When it was imposed, war-costs were heavy and were rapidly increasing. To-day war expenditure is going down, and should have been reduced by £150,000,000 more than is the case. I appeal to the Government to consider the removal of the postal surcharge. If that were done, and postal facilities in country districts improved, the public would be getting some return for their money. At the present time, there is such hopeless congestion in country telephone exchanges, that it is almost impossible to get a telephone connexion with the metropolis, or between one country town and another. I have discussed this mutter with senior officers of the department, and they are disgusted because they cannot get the materials necessary to improve the service.
The Postmaster-General’s Department has, in the past, provided a service that was generally satisfactory, but to-day no one could honestly pay it a tribute. During the war, mail services to country districts were reduced. Towns which had a daily mail service were cut down to a service of twice or three times a week. T ask that the previous services be restored, so that mails from the capital city will go out to country towns at least once a day. I appeal to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to ensure that officers of the department, for whom I have a high regard, are given the opportunity to render proper service. At the present time they are being hindered by m a 1 ad n i in i s tra ti on .
Wednesday, % December 19^6.
– ‘Honorable members from both sides of the committee have urged with justification that postal charges should be reduced. Certainly, while they are kept at their present level, the public are entitled to expect a. more efficient service. Country mail deliveries are still being curtailed. On several occasions I have had to bring to the Postmaster-General instances of these curtailments, and I admit that he has taken immediate action to put the matter right. However, the curtailments should never have taken place. At the present time, there are at least three towns in my electorate inadequately provided in mail services. One is Rainbow a town of some prominence. Officers of the department should be directed to look into these matters, and see that the people are given the service for which they have to pay so much
I endorse what honorable memberhave said about country telephon services. Even in fairly big country towns the exchange at night is left in charge of an inexperienced boy, who has to operate a large switchboard. It is often of immense importance that a telephone connexion be obtained during the night; indeed, it is sometimes a matter of life and death. It is surely against the principles of the Labour party that a boy, who is paid a mere pittance, should be given a responsible job to do, and it cannot be expected in the circumstances that the service which he renders will be efficient. The attention of the PostmasterGeneral should be directed to the need for staffing country telephone services adequately at night.
I also ask that trunk-line telephone charges in country areas be reviewed. At present, they are far too high, and should be reduced.
– I agree with the Minister that suburban telephones are scarce too. In some suburbs of Melbourne, owing to the shortage of cable, hundreds of applications have been turned down. I know that there are difficulties in the matter of supplies and that priori tj- is given in cases such as sickness, but 1 make a special plea in respect of ex-servicemen who are setting up in business. I shall mention only one case. It is that of a man who was told by the rehabilitation authorities that he must not take indoor work. Consequently, he set up in business as a carrier; but when he applied for a telephone he was told to re-apply at some future date. Men in that class do not receive priorities. I urge the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to take up this matter with his colleague, because the provision of a telephone often means the difference between success and failure to ex-servicemen when they are endeavouring to set up in business.
I also draw attention to the high postal rates charged in respect of parcels to Britain. The present rates are punitive. In fact, the postage is almost as expensive as the parcel itself. When I raised this matter on a previous occasion, the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) said that the rates were fixed under an arrangement with the United Kingdom Government. I can only take the Minister’s word on that matter; but it seems incredible that the United Kingdom authorities should penalize their people in this way. The great bulk of the food parcels despatched to Great Britain are sent by hundreds of thousands of generous Australians while the Government itself has given nothing. To-day, the Postal Department is making huge profits from the hunger of Britain on the postage on these parcels, and it could well forgo portion of those profits. The present high rates of postage severely penalize the ordinary citizen.
– It is extraordinary that some honorable members withdraw from the chamber immediately after they have concluded their remarks. Such honorable members do not do the Minister at the table the courtesy of remaining to hear any reply he may make to their observations. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan), and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) withdrew almost immediately after they made their remarks. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) suggested that all profits made by the Postal ‘ Department should be expended on the improvement of services to those who use departmental facilities. In principle, no one will disagree with that view; but, in practice, no government has yet been able to give effect to it. Certain sums must be hypothecated for future expenditure, and reserve funds must be built up; but it is true that every government has used the profits of the Postal Department for the purpose of balancing its budget. The present is scarcely the time when we can reach the standard the honorable member would set for us. I hope that we shall do so eventually. He also complained about the refusal of the Postal Department to expend more money in the provision of facilities in country districts. He said that at least half of the expenditure by the department, should be incurred in country centres. I assure him that the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) is conscious of the needs of all Australians no matter where they may live; and he is doing the best he possibly can in the face of serious difficulties.
– I urged the PostmasterGeneral to expend some money in country districts. It is not proposed to incur any expenditure at all in country districts in respect of new constructional works.
– If the honorable member looks at the budget papers, he will see that it is proposed to expend £7,750,000 compared with £4,235,000 expenditure last year. I inform the honorable member for Moreton that orders to the amount of £7,750,000 have been placed for the materials to which he referred, and of that sum £4.750,000 will be expended on materials to be manufactured in Australia. The goods cannot be manufactured at the moment because of the shortage of man power and the materials from which the finished article is made. The number of workmen employed on telephone work has been increased by 3,800 since the 1st July, 1945. Therefore, it cannot be said, as the honorable member for Moreton and other honorable members opposite so airily claimed, that very little is being done. Everything possible is being done. The Postal Department is as efficiently managed to-day as it has ever been previously. However, it is faced with unprecedented difficulties. I also remind the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain), who, however, was not carping in his criticism, that six years of war makes a big difference to the conduct of a department. The Postal Department has been obliged to start from scratch with certain undertakings which it desires to complete as quickly as possible. The substantially increased provision which I have indicated is an earnest of the Government’s intention to overcome present difficulties. New telephone connexions are now being made at the rate of 50,000 gross per annum. All applications cannot be met immediately. I inform the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) that a system of priorities is observed in dealing with applications for telephones. Priority is given to medical practitioners, certain other professional men, persons who are the victims of chronic illness and ex-servicemen.
– I know that priority is given to ex-servicemen. It may be that some of the cases cited by the honorable member have not been considered as sympathetically as they might be. I do not disagree with his representations. I shall bring them to the notice of the Postmaster’General, and ask my colleague to add the class he has cited to the list of priorities in order to help all exservicemen who are starting in business. It is essential that they be given such facilities, and I shall ask my colleague to do his best to meet the claims of those men in order to help them make up for the years they lost while fighting in defence of this country. It is not usual for the department to accept deposits in respect of a telephone service which cannot be supplied within a reasonable time. Therefore the honorable member for Moreton was talking nonsense when he plucked a figure from nowhere, saying airily, “ There must be 80,000 people who have paid £5 in respect of a telephone service; therefore the Postal Department has the free use of £400,000 “.
– I can quote scores of cases in country districts of persons whose deposits have been held for over twelve months.
– In some cases the initial rental has been forwarded with the application. I also know that this money lias been returned when it seemed clear that the services could not be granted. If it be true that in some instances deposits have been held for twelve months, they have been held far too long. I shall ask the Postmaster-General to consider the early return of deposits where immediate provision of the facilities is not practicable.
The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) suggested that we should plough back the profits - that is a graphic phrase upon which I compliment the honorable member. I assure him that the department will plough back the profits as soon as it can find men and materials with which to do so. The services offered by the department are as good as any to be found elsewhere in the world. To say, as the honorable member for Flinders and the honorable member for Moreton have said, that its efficiency has fallen greatly, that its services have deteriorated, and that there is grave inefficiency in its administration is just so much hyperbolical nonsense. Nothing is as efficient in Australia to-day as it was before the war, and it may be some time before we get back to the highest standard of efficiency in every department. The Postmaster-General’s Department should not be singled out for particular criticism, because in some instances honorable members have found that the demands made upon it by the public are not being met as rapidly as they would like. It must be realized that the Australian people who had £200,000,000 in their Savings Bank accounts when the war started now have in those accounts no less than £600,000,000. Lots of people are wanting telephones to-day who in earlier years could never afford such a convenience. I am as desirous as any one that the people should enjoy all the amenities of civilization. We have passed the day when, for instance, refrigerators could be considered luxuries. I hope that the prosperity of this country will be maintained and that the standard of living which a telephone installation betokens will continue on an ever rising scale. I do not like indulging in political controversy in a matter of this sort, but when the honorable member for Moreton criticizes the Government and says that its instrumentalities are inefficient, I can only reply that when he was a member of an earlier government many Australian people who have telephones to-day did not even have the money with which to pay the initial installation deposit. Conditions to-day, by comparison with those when he was in office, are very much better for the generality of the people. They will improve and as time goes by there will be less and less ground for legitimate criticism.
The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Sheehy) referred to the broadcasting of murder serials by commercial broadcasting stations. I have my own family troubles in this respect, both at m nal -times and when my children are doing their school lessons. I would prefer that most of these serials were banned because of the disturbances they cause in the household. As to the desire of the honorable member that starting-price bookmakers who have been punished once should not be further penalized by having their telephone facilities cancelled, I can only say that that matter is at present under consideration by the PostmasterGeneral and a decision will be made upon it at, an early date.
The honorable member for Flinders complained about the delays in the installation of telephones in country districts. I assure the honorable member that everything is being done to speed up the supply . of the requisite materials and to hasten the installation of telephones in rural areas. Irrespective of what unfortunate experiences the honorable member may have had, our telephone services to-day are reasonably good.
The honorable member for Moreton referred to complaints regarding telephone services in Queensland, stating that high officials of the department in Queensland supported his contention that Queensland was being more neglected than were other States. The honorable member has. I believe, in this connexion, exaggerated the position as he did in regard to the amount of the deposits held by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and the amounts which he believes the Government might have remitted by way of tax reduction. He suggests that the Government is holding £150,000,000 more than it needs and that some of that money ie no doubt held by the PostmasterGeneral’s . Department. I assure him that none of it is held by that department or any other.
The Leader of the Opposition, asked a series of questions regarding the shortwave broadcasting station at Shepparton. The station was built largely as a military necessity in the early stages of the war, the work being commenced, I believe, during the period when the right honorable gentleman was himself Prime Minister. The cost of construction was approximately £537,000 and the annual cost of operation and maintenance, excluding interest, amounts to £76,000. Until the 30th June last the maintenance costs of the station were charged to the votes of the Department of the Army. All costs are now chargeable to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. The Shepparton station is the largest shortwave station in the southern hemisphere. It was used during the war for psychological warfare, the broadcasts being arranged by a committee which included in its membership representatives of the Department of the Army, the Department of External Affairs, and the Department of Information. During the war the station was controlled and is still controlled by the Department of Information. The shortwave broadcasts are valuable ‘in advertising Australia in many countries in the Pacific, and, indeed, the programmes are heard in many other parts of the world. The broadcasts emanating from this station play an important part in the development of trade and in the creation of goodwill between Australia and the other nations of the world. The station functions practically 24 hours of the day,, transmitting programmes on different wavelengths. If the right honorable gentleman desires further information regarding the activities of the station I shall be glad to furnish it.
Several honorable members referred to non-official postmasters. These servants of the department are paid on a scale basis according to the volume of work performed. Their remuneration is now based on an arbitration award, and many additional benefits have been granted to them in recent years, such as annual leave and sick leave. As the result of the arbitration award their emoluments have, in most instances, been increased. Maybe not enough has yet been done, but I can assure honorable members that these people are very much better off than they were five or six years ago before their organization was registered in the court and an award was made to cover their rates of pay and conditions of employment.
The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) referred to the employment of boys in country post offices. I assure him that his complaints will be investigated and. that if they are proved to be of substance they will be appropriately dealt with.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory covered quite a good deal of ground, not only in his description of the areas served by the Postmaster-General’s Department in the vast electorate which he represents, but also in the multiplicity of the items to which ho directed attention. I assure him, too, that the Northern Territory will not be overlooked. The honorable member for Balaclava has again raised the question of postal charges on food parcels to Great Britain. I shall bring that matter to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral.
– Order ! The time allotted for the consideration of the estimates for the Commonwealth Railways and the Postmaster-General’s Department has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Proposed vote. £797,900.
Australian Capital Territory.
Proposed vote, £632,100.
Papua - New Guinea.
Proposed vote, £1,685,000.
Proposed vote, £4,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– I rise to bring to the attention of the committee several matters relating to the Northern Territory. An amount of £28,000, is allocated under the heading “ Municipal Expenditure. Alice Springs and Darwin “. I should like to know how these two towns which are 1,000 miles apart can be lumped together in this way. It is the old story of this Government introducing estimates that are not sufficiently detailed. Obviously the £28,000 cannot be intended to carry out the Government’s big scheme of making Darwin a new Miami. Such a scheme would cost more like £7,000,000. I assume, therefore, that the greater part of the £28,000 is intended for the installation of a sewerage scheme at Alice Springs. I recall that £22,000 was allocated for that project when the Army was in occupation of Alice Springs and despotism ruled in the Northern Territory, but the allocation was subsequently withdrawn. However. the Army authorities made a close analysis of the underground water supply at Alice Springs, and presented a report upon the matter, recommending that no more septic tanks be permitted because of the pollution of the water. Several of my constituents at Alice Springs have asked me to urge the Government to undertake the sewerage scheme withoutdelay. Yesterday, I received a letter from His Grace the Bishop of Carpentaria asking for a ruling on the matter, because permission had been withheld for the installation of a septic tank at a church school. Apparently, the authorities of the Department of the Interior had approved of the recommendations by the Army in regard to the installation of septic tanks. I urge the Minister to ensure that, if this vote is not for the Alice Springs sewerage scheme, a direction shall be issued for the commencement of this work without delay.
The sum of £10,000 is allocated for “ Assistance to and Development of Mining Industry “. I trust that the Minister for the Interior will be able to give an assurance that at least one battery will be kept in continuous operation at Tennant Creek. There are three batteries in the district, and there is a difference of opinion among local people as to whether or not all three should be restored to working order. One is 27 miles west of Tennant Creek, one 12 miles east, and the third is only 2 miles from the town. One school of thought holds that only one battery should operate, and that a subsidy should be paid on cartage. The other believes that all three batteries should be put in working order, because of the distance of cartage and the difficulty in building suitable roads. I should like to know whether the Minister has given a direction in regard to this matter so that the three batteries may operate.
The amount allocated for “ Assistance to Missions “ is £4,280. I shall deal with that in conjunction with the natives of New Guinea. I am glad to see that the Minister has been able to make an allocation of £8,000 for the maintenance of survey camps. A survey and classification of the Northern Territory is required urgently. I hope that the Minister will also be able to give some definite information as to when Northern Territory leases will be made available to returned soldiers. The Government is resuming leases from the great stations, and, as much of that country already has been classified - I did some of the classification myself in 1932 - there should not be any further delay in making land available to ex-servicemen. The Minister has said that 1935 and 1945 resumptions are to be combined, and I realize that a new design must be submitted by the surveyors, but I contend that we have enough detail information to design that country and to lease it before Christmas. I remind the Minister that in 1942 it did not take the Government very long .to allocate three good blocks, each of 400 square miles, back to the great pastoral companies on a 42 years’ lease, expiring in 1984. It is up to the Government to cancel those leases and resume that land. I referred to this matter last session. The Minister has stated that the reason for the allocation of the leases back to the pastoral companies was that there was no representative of the Northern Territory in this House. That indicated clearly that the Minister believed that the Government had performed an administrative act that it would not have dared to carry out had I been in this chamber. Again I urge the Minister to resume those three leases. I am referring to Rockland Station, Alexandria Station, and Sudan Station at the southern end of Alexandria. In view of the promises that the Government has made to servicemen who wish to go on the land, those leases should be cancelled, and the land made available for soldier settlement. “When I went away in 1942 I was assured that leases would not be made available in this way until after the war.
There is a good deal of confusion in this country in regard to aboriginal affairs. It is high time this matter was discussed on the floor of the House, so that we may get a definite expression of policy from both sides of the chamber on the question of native affairs generally. I propose to deal first with the shipping situation. I have already made representations to the Minister on this matter, but he has not been able to give any assurance as to when there will be regular shipping service to Darwin, either from Western Australian ports or from ports on the east coast. My constituents and I think those of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) living in the Kimberley District and Wyndham are crying out for extra shipping. The K.0 olinda is the only ship that goes up that way. I understand that it is going to Wyndham this month, but that it will not go to Darwin without a subsidy from the Commonwealth Government. Recently I conferred with the manager of the State Shipping Service in Perth and he expressed sympathy. The Premier of Western Australia, Mr. Wise, is also sympathetic. They would like the ship to go to Darwin to serve the people there. The only missing link is the Commonwealth Government. If it would provide a subsidy sufficient to warrant the State Shipping Service in sending the Koolinda to Darwin, to Darwin it would go. Darwin is hungry for supplies and it is dependent on shipping to get them there. The business people at Darwin desire to rehabilitate themselves. Naturally they wish to budget for supplies. They could do so if they knew that a ship would call there with supplies every month, six weeks, or two months, as the case may be. The only provision in these Estimates is contained in item 21 - “ Coastal Shipping Service - Subsidy £1,000”, an altogether miserable sum. Bourke & Company, of Brisbane, have three small ships that go to the Gulf of Carpentaria, but not to Darwin. I should like the Minister for the Interior to confer with Mr. Bourke in the hope that the service might be extended to Darwin, although I confess that when I was campaigning in August, one of the vessels was three months late in arriving. The ship that traded between Melbourne and Darwin, calling at intermediate ports, and operating under a subsidy before the war, no longer goes on that route. “What I have said about lack of shipping services at Darwin applies also to New Guinea. The residents of New Guinea, having no member of their own to air their grievances on the floor of this chamber, look on me rather as their unofficial member of Parliament. I have received from the honorary secretary of New Guinea branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia the following letter : -
Attached please find copies of radios sent to the Prime Minister and the Federal Executive of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. Any assistance that you can give on this question will be greatly appreciated by the Returned soldiers of New Guinea.
The attachment is as follows: -
Following upon representations to Prime Minister March last decision was given all surplus army stores remain New Guinea assist rehabilitation local returned soldiers but policy apparently now changing as reports indicate large quantity stores sold outside buyers and now awaiting shipment from Rabaul stop At largely attended League meeting Rabaul sixth August following resolution carried quote That grave situation regarding disposal surplus Army goods to other than New Guinea residents is viewed with alarm stop That local returned men have lost all confidence in Disposals Commission organization in view of recent irregular sales which are detrimental to speedy rehabilitation of former residents stop. That Prime Minister be requested to cause public investigation to he held immediately into CDC operations as rehabilitation being retarded by preference now given certain organizations and Asiatics stop That Prime Minister be requested radio his confirmation that there will he no sales outside New Guinea until all local needs are satisfied unquote Secondly quote that Federal Executive League be informed of this intention and be requested to support branch’s request for public investigation unquote thirdly quote That copies of all radios to Prime Minister and Federal Executive he forward to Menzies White Anthony Blain and to principal newspapers unquote New Guinea State Branch possesses sufficient evidence to substantiate request for immediate public inquiry.
That shows that although ships have been able to go to New Guinea to pick up cargoes of goods sold by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, they have not been able to take the supplies that the New Guinea people want. It shows that the various Commonwealth Ministers do not sufficiently confer with each other in order to co-ordinate their activities. Go-getters attend the auction sales conducted by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission in the Northern Territory and New Guinea and buy materials that ought to be left there to assist the residents to develop both territories. I appreciate the efforts made by the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) to stop the practice of which I have complained in this chamber often before. When I have directed his attention to particular cases instances of goods needed by the people of the Northern Territory being bought and shipped away from there he has assured me that it will not happen again. It may not have happened again at the same spot, but it has happened again in different localities, perhaps a thousand miles away. At the table now, sitting side by side, are the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) and the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon). The Minister for Works and Housing is a new recruit in the Ministry from whom I expect big things. I wish they would confer in order to ensure the retention in the territories of goods needed there for developmental purposes. I shall take another opportunity to deal with native affairs.
– I direct attention to two items under the heading, “Australian Capital Territory” Division No. 260: “Maintenance of Parks and Gardens and Recreation Reserves, £60,000 “, and “Nursery and Pre-school Centres, £2,300 “. It appears that/ in 1945-46, the sum of £2,500 was voted for the nursery school and pre-school centres, hut only £1,362 was expended. That, I believe, was due to war-time shortages of materials. However, I cannot help comparing the two items. I hope that, now that attention has been drawn to the disparity, something will be done to provide better facilities for pre-school work. I refer to a nursery rhyme, which some honorable members may have heard -
Bread and dripping all the week,
Pig’s head on Sunday,
Half a crown Saturday night,
farthing left for Monday.
That jingle suggests something of the disproportion between the proposed votes for parks and gardens and for pre-school work in Canberra. We could set a very fine example to other cities of the way to build a good foundation for our nation. An amount of £2,300 a year cannot possibly cover the needs of pre-school work in this city. I doubt whether many honorable members know of the work that is being done at the Dirrawan Gardens Centre at Reid. There is not enough room, and the fence is inadequate. Children climb over the fence and teachers have to chase them along the roads to bring them back. The centre can accommodate only 20 children at a time, and therefore a list of children has to be prepared for each day of the week. The provision of a larger sum of money in the vote would enable all children in the area to be accommodated simultaneously. About a century ago, the first grant for education was made in Great Britain. I believe that the year was 1830. The Government allocated a sum of £20,000 for education, but at the same time, it provided £50,000 for the improvement of the royal stables. T submit that we have not made much progress in a century. The proposed vote for pre-school work in Canberra is hopelessly inadequate. It is ridiculous in comparison with the proposed vote of £60,000 for the maintenance of parks and gardens, plus £4,000 for general land services. An amount of £2,300 is proposed to be expended for the Canberra Tourist Bureau alone. I hope that the Government will endeavour to rectify this anomaly.
Mr. WHITE (Balaclava) [12.54 a.m. J. - I refer to the proposed vote for the Territories of Papua and New Guinea. What is the Government’s policy for these territories? The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) earlier to-night asked the Minister in charge of External Territories (Mr. Ward) to take an early opportunity to state his policy on New Guinea, and I support his request. This is not Tibet or Russia. We should know what lies behind the veil, or the iron curtain, of the Government’s silence. We have great obligations in those territories. It has always been understood that Australia’s treatment of the native populations has been good, and much valuable work has been done there. However, we still have a heavy responsibility for the development of the territories, and the Government has not been active enough in this respect. During a debate on Papua and New Guinea in the previous Parliament, the Government and its supporters revealed a tendency to regard white settlers as exploiters. That attitude is wrong. The Minister in charge of External Territories may deny that there is such an outlook, but some members of his party referred to settlers as exploiters, and, as a result, I have received indignant letters from residents and former residents of the territories. The Government should adopt a new attitude towards men who lost their positions in Papua and New Guinea and who are now having difficulty in returning to their homes. Many of these men have done almost a lifetime’s work on their plantations. Numbers of them served in World War I., and were settled upon expropriated German property. Earlier governments helped them by making arrangements for the sale of their copra, and providing a sliding scale for the repayment of the purchase price of their properties according to the varying price of copra. Bounties were paid for other products ; arrangements were made for all rubber produced in the territories to be sold in Australia, whatever the cost of production might be. This policy induced many white men to go to New Guinea. The territories became an outpost of Australia, and some of us believed that Port Moresby would become an arsenal from which New Guinea could be defended. Our belief was confirmed by the facts. Many former New Guinea settlers are wondering when they will, receive the signal to return, and whether they will be assisted by the Government. They have been discouraged in many ways. Their treatment in the matter of war disposals has not been good. Buyers from the mainland were taken to the territories in ships, and they bought huge quantities of army stores, although local residents could not obtain what they wanted. The policy of the Government regarding native ordinances is such that many natives believe that it does not want them to work. Some of them stayed on the plantations during the Japanese occupation and are still there. They have asked their former employers whether they will be wanted again. They are not sure whether or not the Government intends to treat the territories as a native reserve. This should not be done; the territories should be developed. They have all sorts of natural resources, of which we should take advantage. For instance, there is a scarcity of vegetable oils in Australia. Factories have had to be closed down because of the shortage of copra. Exports of copra from the Territory before the war averaged about 70,000 tons a year. The present output is less than 7,000 tons a year. Rubber growers have been unable to obtain a definite statement from the Government as to whether or not they will be encouraged to return, develop their old holdings, and extend plantings. This subject is of vital importance to Australia. If the Government intends to make New Guinea and Papua merely a reserve for the native population, it cannot deny ingress to other races, ft has an obligation to see that the territories are developed and it must do much more for the natives than it has been doing. Academically and sentimentally, the Government wants to help the natives, but, in practice, its approach to their problems is wrong. The natives of the territories were well treated under the old indentured labour system, but, because the Government believed that this was some kind of slavery, its representatives promised, at the International Labour Conference at Philadelphia, that the system would not be tolerated. As the result of the premature announcement of this policy, the whole of industry in New Guinea was upset. The system would have been rightly described as a contract labour system. It involved nothing more than the serving of apprenticeships by the natives. Under the Government’s present policy, native labour contracts cannot operate for longer than a year, and recruiting officers are not permitted to go in search of labour. That has to be done by the individual employer.
– Hear, hear!
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) must be on the side of the big employers if he makes that interjection in all sincerity. The returned soldier planter cannot afford to leave his property for months at a. time to go in search of recruits. The Minister in charge of External Territories should study the problem and not be so harsh in his treatment of men who are having difficulty in earning a livelihood. They could have an easier time if they came to Australia and worked under the conditions under which the Minister lives; at present they only eke out an existence. The Government must study the native problem from the stand-point of providing increased medical and educational services. In the Estimates, provision is made for the expenditure of £100,000 for the erection of a model native village at Port Moresby. The natives will not understand it. In the villages near Rabaul, the natives are suffering from skin disorders and sores, and cholera. The Government should re-establish the Legislative Council, and even provide for the election of a member for the district.
– Order ! The time allotted for the consideration of the estimates for the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory, PapuaNew Guinea and Norfolk Island has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That the following resolution be reported to the House: - That, including the several sums already voted for such services, there be granted to His Majesty to defray the charges for the year 1946-47 for the several services hereunder specified a sum not exceeding £169,249,000.
Resolution reported and adopted.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That towards making good the supply granted to His Majesty for the service of the year 1946-47, there be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum not exceeding £79,393,000.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Chifley and Mr. Lemmon do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Chifley, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
InCommittee of Supply :
Estimates - by leave - taken as a whole and agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That there be granted to His Majesty for the service of the year 1946-47, for the purposes of Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c., a sum not exceeding £21,648,000.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means founded on Resolution of Supply, reported and adopted.
That Mr. Chifley and Mr. Lemmon do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Chifley, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes - Cremorne, New South Wales.
National SSecurity Act - National Security I Prisoners of War) Regulations - Order - Prisoners of war camp (No. 17).
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act -Regulations- 194 B- No. 4 (Medical Benefits and Hospitals Ordinance).
Northern Territory- Report by Mr. Justice Simpson into allegations made by counsel for the defence during hearing of charges at the Supreme Court at Alice Springs.
House adjourned at 1.10 a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 December 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19461203_reps_18_189/>.