18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister for Air say whether a decision has yet been made to proceed with the construction of an aerodrome at Moorabbin? If the answer is in the affirmative, can he say when work on the aerodrome will commence and when it is expected that it will be finished? When does he expect that the eviction of the persons now in occupancy of the land will take place, and will arrangements be made for compensation to be paid to them early, so that they may make arrangements to acquire other holdings?
– A decision has been made that the work will proceed. Representations against the use of the land for aerodrome purposes were made by a deputation led by the honorable member for Henty and by means of a petition, but the Government was unable to accede to the request that another site should be selected’. The people concerned have been notified accordingly. The work of construction will proceed gradually, and I hope that there will be no need for any evictions, because sufficient notice will be given to the people who grow vegetables on a small area of the ground to enable them to obtain other land to continue their operations. The matter of compensation will be dealt with by another department. Valuations will, of course, have to be made, but the interests of the people whose land will be resumed will ‘be kept in mind. I do not expect that the work will commence within the next six months and, as the construction of the aerodrome willbe a gradual process, disruption of an extensive nature will not take place. Although it has not been possible to select another site I believe that there will he little justifiable cause for complaint.
– Will the Prime Minister review the position that exists as the resultof the delay that is occurring in connexion with handing back to the owners of properties taken over by the Navy during the war? Municipal councils and private owners are constantly pressing for the return ofthese sites, but in view of the involved nature of the controls, this matter is assuming’ a Kathleen Mavourneen character. Will the Prime Minister take steps to have the return of these properties expedited?
– This matter was raised recently in the House, and the Minister for the Army said that he was having a very close survey made so that all properties now under the control of the Army would be handed back to their owners as soon as possible. I shall have the matter taken up by all departments.
Claims of Employees
– Is it a fact that the claims of postalemployees, who did a wonderful job during the war, have not yet been adjusted satisfactorily? Does the Government intend to set up for postal employees a tribunal independent of the Arbitration Court to deal with their problems as it has done in the case of the wharf labourers and the coal miners? If not, would such a tribunal be set up if postal employees sabotaged Australian industry in the same way as other unions have done? Should not the Government establish the principle that reward should be given for obedience to arbitration awards, and a willingness to continue at work so as to serve the public, rather than for flagrant disobedience?
– As the right honor able gentleman knows, the Public Service has its own arbitrator to deal with public service claims, the present arbitrator being Mr. Castieau. Claims were lodged by a number of Public Service unions - about 23 altogether - but it has been agreed that they shall be represented by five delegates from the High Council, and one from the postal employees. Much discussion has taken place between the
Public Service Commissioners and the unions regarding some adjustment of claims, particularly those of lower-paid employees. I understand that a case on behalf of these employees, and a claim by the Public Service unions will come before the Public Service Arbitrator next week. Some of the matters have boon adjusted - not, perhaps, to the satisfaction of everybody - and the agreement is subject to the approval of the Public Service Commissioners. I hope that a statement can be made bythe Public Service Arbitrator next week. This will not cover the whole field of the Public Service, but will, I understand, cover the lower-paid members of the Service.
Shortage in Western Australia.
– A report has been received from Western Australia that there is a serious shortage of tyres in that State, resulting in a partial hold-up of transport, thus affecting the development of the State. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping confer with his colleague with a view to having more shipping space made available for the carriage of tyres to Western Australia ?
– From the form of the honorable member’s question I take it that he is convinced that the shortage in Western Australia is due to shipping. On the production side there is no longer any control by the Government, which is not, therefore, directly concerned with the distribution of tyres to the various States. I shall ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to look into the matter with a view to making more shipping space available if possible.
– Ever since the House met, I have been stressing the fact that Mr. Justice Davidson, who reported on the coal-mining industry, stated that there was an excessive amount of dust in the Queensland mines. I have asked that the services of Professor Jones,’ of Wales, who is visiting this country under the aegis of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, should he made available to report on conditions in coal mines in Queensland and to advise on measures for the eradication of dust. Is the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research now in a position to make a statement indicating that my representations have at last met with success?
– Before the honorable member addressed his question on this matter to the Prime Minister a few days ago, I had already been in consultation with Sir David Rivett, Chairman of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Eesearch, with, regard to my meeting Professor Jones and discussing with him his itinerary during his stay in Australia. I am now happy to be able to say that I shall meet Professor Jones in Melbourne next Monday when we shall discuss his itinerary and discover what mines it will be practicable for him to inspect in Australia. Sir David Rivett assures me that Professor Jones intends to visit some mines in Queensland but whether he can visit all of them I am unable to say.
– It has come to my knowledge th’at many motor traders who are obtaining releases of motor trucks and vehicles from the Disposals Commission are informing prospective purchasers that, before they are prepared to do business, purchasers must deposit with them the sum of £150 over and above the pegged price. That, of course, is done “under the cuff”. In view of the fact that many ex-servicemen who desire to obtain motor trucks in order to rehabilitate themselves, particularly in carting pit timber, are being asked to pay exorbitant prices for motor vehicles, and as the Commonwealth Government enjoys No. 1 priority in respect of disposals, does not the Prime Minister think that departments, such as the Repatriation Department and the Department of Postwar Reconstruction, should claim that priority in order to enable ex-servicemen to purchase motor vehicles, and thus protect them against exploitation?
– I am not aware of the circumstances the honorable member has mentioned, but I know that large sums are being paid for the purchase of motor vehicles. The Windsor branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia has brought to my attention the fact that motor traders prefer to sell vehicles where they can obtain spot cash at the point of sale rather than dispose of the vehicles to ex-servicemen on a time-payment basis. The traders wish to avoid the difficulties associated with time-payment. I have already taken up that aspect with the departments which are providing assistance to ex-service personnel in order to sec whether a better arrangement cannot be made in the interests of ex-service personnel. No doubt, the honorable member realizes that without incurring considerable expenditure in setting up a special organization, the only way to arrange for the distribution of motor vehicles was through the traders, because the latter are also able to offer facilities for repairs which would be necessary on many vehicles at the time of purchase. I shall examine the first aspect of the honorable member’s question. His request that ex-servicemen should be placed in as equally a favorable position to buy vehicles as other people with plenty of money is now being examined.
PRIORITY fob Tax Claims.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that Mr. Justice Clyne in a recent bankruptcy case described as very unjust the section of the Income Tax Assessment Act which gives to the Commissioner of Taxation absolute priority over all other creditors? Does the right honorable gentleman agree with the fudge’s view, if so, will he consider amending the Act accordingly?
– As a matter of fact, I read a report in an afternoon newspaper published yesterday that Mr. Justice Clyne had made reference to the matter of absolute priority. In my opinion that is a privilege of which the Commissioner of Taxation should not be deprived.
Renovation of PREMISES
– Is it a fact that th<? Commonwealth Bank has arranged for all painting and renovations of bank buildings under its control to be carried out by private contractors? Does not the Treasurer consider it advisable that the same system should be adopted by the Commonwealth Bank as is followed by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in respect of renovations ?
– I am not aware of the conditions under which renovations of Commonwealth Bank premises are carried out. I understand that repairs and renovations of postal buildings are carried out by the Department of Works and Housing. That department, however, has far more work on hand at the moment than it is capable of undertaking. I shall look into the matter and furnish the honorable member with a reply as soon as possible.
Visitof Field-Marshal Lord Montgomery
– During the pending visit of Field-Marshal Lord Montgomery, will the Prime Minister make arrangements for the Field-Marshal to have unofficial discussions with members of the Opposition of this Parliament on questions of Australian and Empire defence?
– The most I can promise the honorable member at the moment is that I shall consider his request.
– Blacksmiths in Tasmania are facing a dire shortage of iron and steel of certain types termed rounds, flats and angle iron. I understand that some iron and steel of this type is used by building contractors in the erection of new buildings. Blacksmiths claim that building contractors could use a smaller size of rounds and could leave available supplies of the larger sizes for use by blacksmiths. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping ascertain whether a fairer distribution of steel supplies of this type may be made as between building contractors and blacksmiths?
– If my memory serves be aright, controlby the Commonwealth of iron and steel products is limited to distribution as between States. Distribution within the States of the quota allotted to them is a matter for the State governments. I shall ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to ascertain whether that is so.
Advisory Committee on Production Costs.
– When is it expected that the report of the committee investigating the dairying industry will be presented to the Government? When the report is available will members of the Opposition receive a copy?
– It is not possible to fix a specific date as to when the report of the Advisory Committee on Production Costs in the Dairying Industry will be available. I am hopeful that the report will be presented within the next three or four months. Consideration will be given to the request that the report be made available to members of Parliament.
– I ask the Prime Minister to what extent the Government is furthering the development of Australian literature? What is the annual expenditure on this work, and how many grants or scholarships are available at present? What is the annual sum of money involved, and in what manner is it allocated? Who are the persons at present in receipt of these grants? Would the Prime Minister consider the establishment of travelling scholarships abroad, not necessarily in relation to literature only, but also to give to Australian artists the experience that is necessary in the development of their talents and careers?
– There is in existence a Commonwealth Literary FundCommittee, members of which include the Leader of the Opposition, myself, the right honorable member for Yarra and others. I cannot say exactly the number of scholarships now available, or the sum of money involved, but I shall obtain that information for the honorable member.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture yet reached a decision on the various points raised in the discussion that I had with him recently concerning the desires of non-contract potato growers in Tasmania ?
– The honorable member for Darwin has made representations to the effect that growers of potatoes in Tasmania who refused to sign contracts with the Australian Potato Committee desire that they should be eligible to obtain the same price for their potatoes, and to market them under the same conditions, as the growers of contract crops.
– That is not quite correct.
– I said that they desire this; not that the honorable member desires it.
– Only some of them.
– I am having the submissions of the honorable member examined critically and hope to beable to reply to the honorable member’s question before the end of next week.
Loans to ex-Servicemen.
– Will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction make possible the continuance for more than the specified twelve months of loans to exservicemen to re-establish themselves on rural properties after an absence of some years on Avar service? Will he consider also the increasing of such loans in cases where this would appear to he necessary ?
– The loans to. which the honorable member refers are reestablishment loans paid to ex-servicemen for a period of twelve months to enable them to carry on until their properties come into productivity. Re-establishment loans in other industries are available for only six months, and I think that in the case of primary producers, twelve months should be sufficient to enable them to get on their feet.
– But what is the position where it is not sufficient?
– It is difficult to extend indefinitely allowances of that kind. However, I shall have the matter examined to see if anything can be done to comply with the honorable member’s request.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the official advisers to the Australian delegation to the International Conference on Trade and Employment have left Australia yet, and, if not, why not? Have their travel priorities been held up in order that the Government representatives alone may take part in the preliminary discussions?
– As far as the Government is concerned there has been no delay in appointing representatives. Different organizations were asked to nominate representatives. Nominations have been coming in rather slowly. In fact, in some cases, I understand that there has not been complete agreement as to representation. No nomination has yet been received from the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. Letters were sent yesterday or the day before to the organizations that have nominated representatives approving their choice. It may be argued that the matter might have been taken up earlier, but immediately it was decided that the delegation should be accompanied by advisers the appropriate bodies were communicated with. I repeat that the Government has done nothing to delay their appointment or departure.
– Manyexservicemen could get finance from various institutions to engage in wheat-growing if they could get permanent growers’ licences instead of temporary licences. I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture what the future holds regarding the issue of permanent wheat-growers’ licences to ex-servicemen.
– I do not think it is possible to issue to any wheat-grower what could be termed a permanent wheatgrowers’ licence. Power to grant the right to grow wheat is exercised by the
State governments, and it is for them to decide whether the licence shall operate for life or twelve months, two years or three years. While federal powers last, ex-servicemen who apply for licences to the Wheat Stabilization Board to grow wheat will be granted licences.
– An injustice operates under the Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Act in that partially disabled ex-servicemen, if unemployed, have the amount of their disability pension deducted from their unemployment benefit payments. This deduction does not apply to other members of the community ; any income that they may derive from other sources is not deducted from their benefit payments. This injustice was pointed out to the Minister for Social Services, who promised to bring the matter before the Government. I now ask whether the Prime Minister will, in a general revision of pensions and other benefits, ensure the removal of this injustice.
– The honorable member was not correct in saying that this is the only case in which income from other sources is taken into account when granting benefits. The provision which he mentioned applies in regard to certain other social service payments. However, the Minister for Social Services is now engaged in a complete review of social services legislation, and I shall ask him to examine the subject of the honorable member’s complaint.
Dispute in Victoria.
– The newspapers this morning published a report that the Government intends, unless a settlement of the meat dispute in Melbourne is reached at to-day’s negotiations, to arrange for the treatment of livestock by the Commonwealth in certain processing works on account of owners. As this is a matter of extreme importance to one of the greatest industries in Australia, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture make a statement to this House now regarding the Government’s intentions?
– In the event of failure to settle the meat dispute to-day, the Government intends to make arrangements to guarantee the return to stockowners in Victoria of full ceiling rates for their stock and to ensure that purchasers of dead meat will be able to buy carcasses at rates which will enable them, in turn, to sell meat to consumers at the rates which have been fixed by the Prices Commissioner.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction based on section 47 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act, which is as follows : -
Have appointments of Commonwealth Employment Officers recently been made in Tasmania and Western Australia? In particular, was a union secretary in Western Australia appointed as a Commonwealth Employment Officer? If so, was there not, in the whole of the Commonwealth Public Service, any senior officer who could have discharged the duties of that position? Finally, if such an appointment has been made, will the Minister lay on the table of the House, in accordance with the requirements of the section of the act which I have quoted, the papers relating to it?
– I assure the honorable member that the law has ‘been complied with, but I shall obtain the full details for him.
– by leave - On a number of occasions, both prior to and since I became Minister for the Army, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) and others have urged that 3s. a day be paid as subsistence allowance to prisoners of war in respect of the time that they were held by the Japanese. These representations are made on the basis that prisoners of war did not receive anything like the full ration which a member of the Australian Military Forces would have received in normal circumstances while in camp, and that a subsistence allowance of 3s. a day should be paid to compensate them for the loss of this ration and for the greatdifficulties which they experienced in feeding themselves.
As with all other matters affecting personnel who were in the hands of the enemy, the Government has given very careful and sympathetic consideration to the representations. Honorable members will appreciate that, the Government must take into account the whole of the conditions applicable to prisoners . of war regarding pay and allowances, and how they compare with the conditions applicable to other members of the forces who also had to endure hardships in active service operations. Consideration was given during the war of 1914-18 to the position of members of the forces who could not always be provided with full rations. When the troops were on Gallipoli, a claim was made that a ration allowance of 2s. a day should be made to all members of the forces who fought there for the reason that they were so often on short rations and frequently went without rations during that campaign. Careful consideration was given at the time to this proposal, but, eventually, it was disallowed for the reason that, when members joined the forces, they were given no right to a ration of any fixed nature, hut were to be kept by the Army, or other service. The subsistence to which they were entitled was that which it was possible to supply to them in the circumstances in which they were placed at the time.
In the war of 1939-45, members of the forces, when on active service operations could rarely be provided with the normal ration. Many times, they existed for long periods on emergency rations. Sometimes, even these were in extremely short supply, particularly whenbattle operations were proceeding. This situation arose during the battle operations in North Africa, and in the jungle operations in the Pacific.
If the claim put forward on behalf of prisoners of war in Japanese hands were accepted, it must equally apply to all prisoners of war held by the Italians and Germans. Information has come to hand from time to time that these prisoners of war were rarely, if ever, provided with subsistence equivalent to what they would have received had they served in camps in Australia or in base areas overseas. The Geneva Convention provides that prisoners of war shall be given the same ration as that which is applicable to members of their own forces; but, as honorable members know, these conditions were not fully observed by any enemy country.
Prisoners of war in enemy hands have been credited with pay and allowances at full rates without any debits being brought to account in respect of moneys received by them as prisoners of war. Under the Geneva Convention, these moneys were debitable to their pay accounts. Some of these payments are on record. The decision resulted in benefits, some of a minor, and others of a major nature being accorded to such prisoners of war.
The payment of a war gratuity at the close of the war of 1914-18 for all members serving overseas was in the nature of compensation for any disabilities that they may have suffered. During the war of 1939-45, the same situation existed. I quote an extract from the Report of the War Gratuity Committee, on which all political parties were represented -
In considering the gratuity for overseas service, the view was taken that this should be fixed at a figure which would afford some recognition of the arduous and hazardous periods .which are generally associated with such service, and it was finally decided that an appropriate figure would be at the rate of 2s. (id. per day, or £3 15s. Od. per month, with u minimum payment for twelve months at that rate.
It should be stated that, before finally adopting the rates of 2s. (id. per day for overseas and Gd. per day for Australian service, the Committee carefully examined several alternatives and particularly that of 2s. per day for overseas and ls. per day for home service. lt was finally decided that” tlie higher rate of 2s. lid. per day should be proposed for overseas service, as against Gd. per day for service in Australia, in order that the greater benefit should accrue to tlie member whose duty had been mainly associated with active operations involving contact with the enemy.
Having regard to these considerations, the Government is not able to accede to the request.
-by leave - The statement that we have just heard from the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers) giving reasons why the Government is not prepared to pay 3s. a day to prisoners of war was weak indeed. I shall give a short history of this matter. The second day that I was in this Parliament I brought the subject forward and the reply then was that time was required to consider it. There have been three decisions - the first was from the then Minister for the Army, Mr. Forde, who said that prisoners of war had not been treated illiberally. The next answer was that if prisoners of war in Japanese hands were paid a subsistence allowance some men who had escaped and had roamed in Crete for weeks would also have to be re-imbursed. The answer given to-day is that during other wars prisoners of war were not paid and that therefore prisoners of war should not be paid to-day. Never in the history of the world and certainly never in the history of any Australian Imperial Force, have men endured such conditions as Australian prisoners of war endured in Malaya, Japan and other places while in the hands of the Japanese. Surely the altered circumstances justified fresh reasons for rejecting a claim for compensation ! When men enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force they undertook to resist His Majesty’s enemies and obey orders. For so doing they were to be granted certain rates of pay, and if they were not receiving rations, a subsidy of 3s. a day. The men played their part; they resisted His Majesty’s enemies with such effect that they held the Japanese on the Malayan peninsula for about seven weeks, and by so doing prevented the Japanese from invading Australia. Brigadier Blackburn, V.C., has stated publicly that the Eighth Division saved Australia. Secondly, these men obeyed orders. Their surrender at Singapore was directed by their superior officers and came to them from General Percival and General Bennett. But what is the record of the Australian Government? Did it carry out its part of the contract? If a man was in Australia on home service and was away from his battalion for a couple of months, or even longer, he was paid the normal subsistence allowance of 3s. a day. But because a man was in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, where the food supplied to him was worth about id. a day, and four men in the Changi gaol occupied a cell normally set apart for one native, he is not to receive anything. I repeat what I have said in this chamber before, that a Government that will not defend its defenders and protect its protectors is a blot on the face of the earth. Even now, there is time for the Government to give further consideration to this matter. Many Australians in prisoner of war camps had to sell their personal possessions in order to live. I shall give one illustration. One prisoner had a diamond which he sold for 5,000 Japanese dollars. He distributed that sum among members of the Australian Imperial Force who, in return, gave promissory notes for their share. My share was £127, in some other instances a share represented a large sum of money. With that money we bought what we could - perhaps a little blatchen or guala malacca or some coconuts - and by so doing we kept ourselves alive. If I offered any honorable member the food which I bought with my £127 for 2s. he would laugh at me. But that food kept life in the men. Surely the Government will reimburse them for the losses incurred in selling their possessions in order to live. I shall persevere in my attempts to get justice for these prisoners of war, and shall raise this matter again. An injustice has been done to them. Democracy gives great privileges, but it also demands great sacrifices. The men of the Eighth Division made the sacrifice.
– I have received from the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) 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 necessity for a substantial increase in the price of butter in order that justice may be accorded those engaged in butter production, and that production may be stimulated.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported ?
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– The dairying industry is suffering from a severe illness which might be described as economic malnutrition. Many things require to be done to restore it to health, but the first step towards its recovery is the immediate transfusion of a substantial rise in the price of butter. The unfavorable condition of the dairying industry can be read in many unmistakable signs, not the least of which is the steady and progressive falling off in production, the reduced number of cows being milked, and the abandonment of dairying as a means of livelihood by an increasing number of farmers. This is an industry to which the National Parliament could well direct its attention. It is not one whose pressing problems can be brushed aside as though they were of little consequence and could be attended to at some distant future date. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) claims that more information is necessary, and that to secure it a peregrinating committee must spend months collecting and duplicating information the substance of which is already avail able to the Minister through dairying industry organizations with which he had been accustomed to consult. The Commonwealth Statistician affirms that the industry provides a livelihood for 150,000 men and women engaged in it on the farms. In addition between 7,000 and 10,000 others are employed in factories; thousands more, such as cream carriers, are engaged in transport and other activities, whilst scores of country towns throughout Australia depend for their business existence on the spending power of their contiguous butter producers. The gross value of Australian dairy production last year was £46,000,000, which was more than half as much as from all other forms of agriculture combined whilst as a major export industry dairying provides more than £12,000,000 in exports to assist in maintaining Australia’s solvency overseas. In the national interest, therefore, Parliament must give diligent attention to the handicaps and disabilities, and to the crescendo of complaints and grievances of those engaged in the industry.
We used to produce 200,000 tons of butter before the war, of which half went to Britain. We now produce about 150,000 tons, and despite local rationing, Britain, which used to get 100,000 tons a year, now gets little more than half that quantity. The depressed prices policy of this Government is damaging to our national economic interests, and is affecting Australia’s capacity to meet the food expectations of the people of the United Kingdom. Evidence is overwhelming that the root of our failure lies substantially in the fact that we are not according just treatment to the men, women and children engaged in butter production.
Under existing conditions, dairy farming has few attractions. The drift from the industry continues. In the last six years more than 2,000 farmers have left the industry in New South Wales alone, the figures being 14,128 in 1939 and 12,151 in 1946. In many instances, those remaining are doing so because their homes are fixed and their capital tied. They have no avenue of escape to other occupations. They cannot abandon the fruits of their life’s work. Many of the younger folk, however, have no such ties, and fewer and fewer are remaining to carry on an occupation demanding seven days a week work and no holidays for 365 days a year at substandard rates of pay. It is an industry in which husband, wife and children have to work long hours for a meagre existence. It is an industry in which, as 1 shall show, the words “ sweated labour “ have a significant meaning.
Notwithstanding subsidies paid by the Government, the butter producers of Australia were £5,000,000 worse, off in income in 1946 than in 1940. In the former, year, their aggregate income was £27,000,000. Last year, inclusive of subsidy, it was £22,000,000.
It is appropriate to point out here that to describe subsidy payments as being grants to producers is to distort the truth. Such payments by the Government could only be regarded as a “ producers’ subsidy “ if the free market value of butter was below the price of ls. 7$d. per lb. which the Government is paying. The Government subsidy is approximately 34d. per l’b., which raises the price’ from ls. 4d. to ls. 7½d. per lb. Does the Minister, or any one else, suggest that ls. 4d. per lb. would be the open market price for butter to-day if controls were lifted? Such a suggestion would be an obvious insult to the intelligence. On the other hand, it can be confidently asserted that if price controls were removed, and natural laws permitted to operate, the market value to-day would be nearer 2=,. 7-M. than ls. per lb. World market trends confirm this estimate. In its latest contract with Denmark, Britain is paying 2s. 9d. per lb., Australian currency, whilst in America, since controls were lifted, the price has risen to double that figure.
World investigations, in fact, reveal that butter will be a scarce commodity for some years yet, so that the bogy of what happened after the last war is not going to scare any one with a knowledge of the industry to-day. In confirmation of this statement, I refer to reports made by Mr. Howey, Mr. Sheehy and Mr. J. R. King, general manager of Producers’ Distributing Society Limited, following their recent visits overseas. Mr. Howey and Mr. Sheehy are well-known figuresin the ‘butter industry, and have recently returned from abroad after acting on. behalf of the Equalization Committeeand the Commonwealth Government. 1 have managed to secure a copy of their very valuable report. They point out that the United Kingdom’s overall requirements of fats, which include butter and margarine, is 750,000 tons per annum.. Britain will be short of that quantity this year by 138,000 tons, and next year by S9,000 tons. The fear used to be that margarine would replace butter. On this point, they state on page 13 of their report - i
The tendency in British production of margarine is downward . . . and there is littledanger over the next few years of margarinesupplies adversely affecting butter values.
They reveal, too, that the United Kingdom Government offered to contribute to’ measures for stabilizing the output of Australian butter, which Britain sorely” needs, by offering to extend its contract te purchase at ls. ll-Jd. per lb. until J une, 1950. The Australian Government would not agree to extend the contract,, in the first instance, beyond the 30th. June, 1947. In confirmation of this, I refer to a letter dated the 6th August last from the British Minister for Food,. Mr. John Strachey, to the Australian. High Commissioner in London, Mr.. Beasley. Paragraph 2 of the letter reads as follows: -
Period of Contract. - It is understood that your Government does not desire now to discuss an extension of the period of the contract beyond June. 104.8. but that the question of extension will be considered in the spring of 1047.
What are the reasons for such refusal by the Australian Government to negotiate beyond 1948 or to accept a contract at ls. 11½d. f.o.b. until June 1950? They can only be that the Government considers it can obtain that price or better for the next three years; yet it is keeping Australian dairymen compuLsorily pegged at the unpayable price of ls. 7-Jd. and pretending that it requires long investigation to determine whether they should get more. Britain is paying ls. 11-Jd. per lb. f.o.b. for Australian butter, which is being sold over the grocers’ counters in Sydney and Melbourne for ls. 8d. That is a form of generosity which the Australian dairy-farmer is in no position to afford.
In the face of such facts, how can any Government have the effrontery and audacity to claim that Treasury payments, deliberately designed to keep prices low, are a “ subsidy “ to the farmer? He is being hoodwinked with words in an effort to keep him quiet, but under the increasing financial strain which these unfair conditions impose on him he will not remain quiet much longer. In every dairying district in New South Wales and Queensland, farmers are holding mass meetings to voice their protests, and in many instances resentment is finding expression in talk of strikes and the withholding of supplies.
The signs are many that the writing is on the wall. Farmers are bitter, and until they receive justice they will not be placated by either the exhortations of the Government or the soft words of certain of its leaders.
The north coast districts of New South Wales, portion of which I represent, produced last year 50,000,000 lbs. of butter of a total production for New South Wales of 78,000,000 lbs. This is, approximately 64 per cent. The conditions under which butter is being produced in that area reflect, generally, the circumstances of dairy-farmers throughout that State. I believe that the position is even worse in Queensland.
The Casino and Norco butter factories, which are in. my electorate and include every butter factory in the area with the exception of a couple which are privately owned, have between them 4,206 suppliers, who send their cream to those factories to be manufactured into butter. The average herd is about 45 milkers, necessitating in respect of the value of land, buildings, plant, stock, &c, a capital of approximately £3,000. The aggregate capital employed by these farmers would be approximately £12,000,000. About half are tenant farmers, leasing farms on their own. account for which rent would average about £12 a month, or approximately £3 a week. I give these figures in order to present a picture of the real conditions which now exist in the most important butter production area in New South Wales. Most of those who own their properties have overdrafts to pay off, and interest payments to meet thereon.
A herd of 45 milking cows necessitates the labour of at least two strong adults or an adult and two juniors. Usually it is the farmer, his wife and children, the average being four persons to each farm. For reasons which will become apparent, practically no hired labour is used.
For the months of June, July, August, September and October last, the average cheque for cream returns for these 4,000 farmers was as follows: - June, £19 10s. 6d.; July, £17 lis. 7d.; August, £18 19s. ; September, £13 13s. 7d. and October, £21 17s. 9d., or a total for the five months of £91 12s. 5d., or £4 3s. 3d. a week. The details are shown in tables which I ask leave to incorporate in Hansard.
– In view of a difficulty which arose recently with respect to the incorporation of tables in Hansard, I shall require to examine the tables which the honorable member has in mind before submitting his request to the House.
– I shall submit them for your perusal.
– I have examined the tables, and the honorable member has condensed them to some extent. Is leave to incorporate granted ?
– The first two tables are as follows : -
Average cheque paid to each supplier for each month of 1946 -
2½d. special drought relief subsidy averages £15 18s.6d. per farmer.
It is difficult to give you the number engaged on each farm but they would range from two to six persons per farm and in our opinion an average of four persons would be engaged on each farm. Some of the four persons would In farmers’ wives, youths and girls.
Out of his cheque, of course, the farmer was supposed to meet rent, interest, rates, fodder, cartage, petrol, repairs, depreciation and other incidental charges incurred in conducting the farm. The balance, if any, was the wages reward of the entire family for working from daylight to dark. It is obvious that in most cases that reward was nil.
If the returns for the whole twelve months are taken the position is little better.For the twelve months period, from January to December, 1946, the 4,000 suppliers of Norco and Casino averaged a gross butter cheque of £433 9s. 2d. That is, approximately £8 5s. 9d. a week gross, out of which the charges I have enumerated have to be met before any residue is left for either profit or wages.
It does not require any committee of experts to see at a glance that something is radically wrong, and that rectification is urgent. “Were it not for the aid of the few pigs he markets, the butter producer would be unable to exist at all. These precariously augment his income by perhaps £100 a year ; but the returns from this source have also been restricted by the rationing of wheat and the high price of concentrated feedstuffs.
I have said that almost no hired labour is employed. The award rate for a male shed hand twenty years of age and over is £5 4s. permanent, or £6 10s. casual. The wages of a leading hand are £6 9s. permanent, or £81s. casual. What hope has a farmer of paying such wages on the present price of butter, or, even getting anything like them for his own labour and that of his family? On the average butter production for each cow which, for New South Wales, is 150 lb., the cost of employing one male at award rates would on a 45-cow dairy absorb more than11d. per lb. of the receipts from butter sold. In case the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Scully) is about to say that last season was a bad season, the average butter production for each cow in New South Wales was 150 lb., whereas in the previous year it was only 132 lb. The following tables have been prepared for me by the Livestock Bulletin : -
[Extension of time granted.]
For the five months of drought which I have referred to when supplies of cream were a mere trickle, the Government with calculated care, announced an additional subsidy on production for that period of 2½d. per lb. This prudent generosity benefited the dairy farmer of the Richmond and Tweed by approximately £16 17s. 7d. each or, approximately £3 12s. 6d. a month.
The time when an increase of price would really help the farmer is in the flush of the season, such as now; and it is now that farmers are entitled to expect it. The methods of the Government appear to be designed so that production peak will be passed before any announcement is made and, therefore, I ask that when the report of the Advisory Committee on Production Costs is finally made, any increase shall be made retrospective at least to the date of its appointment in December last. The Minister will doubtless, in reply, again tell the familiar story of the £22,000,000 of subsidy the Government has allegedly paid the producers. I have already pointed out the sham of such claims. He will no doubt procrastinate action by claiming that he awaits the report of the special committee, knowing full well, as was admitted this morning, that the report will not be available for months. These subterfuges will deceive no one.
The Government and the Prices Commissioner were supplied with detailed costs of the production of butter by representative organizations at a conference in Canberra on the 31st May, 1945. That is almost two years ago. The costs were arrived at by the industry after twelve months of research in which representative farms in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria were inspected, investigations made and a general average worked out. These figures have never been seriously questioned and several of the gentlemen who submitted them have since been appointed members of the new committee. I refer to Mr. Howse, Mr.
Plunkett, Mr. Jamieson and Mr. Gibson. These investigations established cost of production at1s.11½d. per lb. as against 1s. 7½d. per lb. being paid. If they are correct, and I believe them to be substantially so, they mean that for the last two years at least, the butter producer has been underpaid his costs by 4d. a lb. on a production of about 336,000,000 lb. or approximately £5.000,000 per year.
It is fitting to point out that whilst the price of butter is pegged by law at1s. 7½d. per lb. the dairy-farmer who supplies milk for the whole milk trade, for ice cream or for other processed purposes, receives the equivalent of between 2s. and 3s. per lb. Can any sound reason be advanced why a farmer who invests relatively the sameamount of capital, who puts in the same effort in the feeding and milking of his cows in order to supply butter for Britain and the Australian householder, should get, in many cases, only about half as much as another who supplies milk for the making of milk shakes in Sydney?’ The result of this, of course, is that whenever dairymen can sell their milk for use other than for the manufacture of butter they do so, and as a consequence there is less butter for home consumption and export. The following table shows the purposes for which milk was used in Australia for the five-year periods ended in 1938-39 and 1945-46:-
The Minister is in possession of sufficient information to warrant a substantial interim increase of the price without waiting for the report of the committee. I believe that that interim price shouldnot be less than2s. per lb.
– The terms of the motion moved by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) refer to the necessity for an urgent and substantial increase of the price of butter in order that justice may be accorded to those engaged in its production and production stimulated. It has been my good fortune to have had some personal association with the dairying industry. I am probably the only member of this House who has recently been a labourer in the industry.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order! The honorable member for Richmond was heard in absolute silence. The Chair insists that the same privilege be accorded to the Minister. If honorable members continue to interrupt I shall deal with them.
– The Minister should not make provocative statements.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to obey the direction of the Chair.
– My experience of the dairying industry is of more recent date than that of some honorable members opposite whose association with it has been mainly in the role of proprietors of dairy farms or as principals in sharefarming arrangements. Their attitude on this subject may be tinged by that association. Every one who has a personal knowledge of this industry realizes that unless a dairy-farmer devotes the whole of his time to it, the securing of a reasonable return for his labours is unquestionably difficult and will always remain so. A dairy-farmer must bo on the job all the time if he expects to derive a satisfactory return from the “industry. That important factor is common to many Australian primary industries. Many years ago Lord Stradbroke, then Governor of Victoria, in discussing Australian primary industries, told me that Australian conditions of life were such that the ideal farm was one worked by the proprietor with the assistance of -seasonal labour. That truism has greater application to the dairying industry than to any other primary industry. The honorable member for Richmond said that the industry is at present suffering from economic malnutrition, that there has been a fall in production and that the number of cows milked in earlier years has very greatly decreased. It is admitted that during last year and this year there has been a substantial decline in production and a substantial reduction of the number of cows being milked in New South Wales. That position does not, however, exist in Victoria. The situation in New South Wales has been largely brought about by drought conditions.
– - What about Tasmania ?
– Tasmania, unfortunately, suffered a drought last year.
– It lasted only six weeks.
– Then Tasmania was more fortunate than the other States. It is true that during the war period there was a great decline in butter production and in the number of cows being milked. The industry is now, however, on the up-grade. The greatest decline in the number of cows being milked and in the number of persons engaged in the industry took place during the period 1 939-42, due to the fact that the government of the day, which was composed of honorable members now sitting in opposition, was not seised of the necessity for maintaining the output of dairy products.
– At that time there were heavy enlistments in the Australian Imperial Force.
– I was about to say that. The government of the day not only permitted the enlistment of dairymen and their employees, it also called them up for service. The inevitable result was that production in the industry declined very substantially. This created a situa tion which is only now being substantially rectified. These are inescapable facts. We then have to look at the price factor. In the years up to 1943, this factor was such that, as the honorable member for Richmond stated when speaking on an adjournment motion in 1943, dairy-farms in his district and in many other districts presented a scene of desolation. I well remember the honorable member painting a gruesome picture of broken down fences, dilapidated buildings, and so on. Why had that happened? The fact is that, until 1941, no government had seen, fit to conduct a survey of the dairying industry or to set up an authority to inquire into the costs of production in that industry, with a view to ensuring an adequate return to dairy-farmers. When Labour assumed office in 1941 it set up such a committee.
– The Labour Government inherited a rural industries committee from the previous Administration.
– I recall that during the regime of a government with which the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) was associated, an inquiry was conducted into production costs in the wheat industry, but that government failed to implement the recommendations of the committee. Even if what the right honorable member says it true, according to the record of administrations of which he was a supporter, the recommendations of the committee would never have been implemented. This Government, however, did implement the recommendations of the committee that inquired into the dairying industry, and when one appreciates the wide basis of that investigation, one realizes that for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth an attempt was made to place the dairying industry on a sound footing, and to pay to dairy-farmers a remuneration that they had never previously enjoyed.
– The Labour Government did not accept the recommendations of that committee.
– I shall not be sidetracked by the interjections of the right honorable member for Darling Downs.
– What was the price of butter in 1921?
– I shall cite figures which I am sure will be of interest to the honorable member for Bendigo. In 1935, when the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) was leader of the Country party, and Minister for Commerce, the price payable for commercial butter was the miserable, despicable sum of 9.4d. per lb. In 1936, it was 11.4d. per lb., 1937,12.2d. per lb., and 1938, 13d. per lb.
– Yet the dairying industry progressed !
– That statement is in marked contrast to the allegation made in 1943 by one of the right honorable gentleman’s colleagues, also a former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in a tory government, that the industry was suffering from malnutrition. In 1939, when Senator McLeay was Minister for Commerce, the return to dairyfarmers was13.6d. per lb. To shorten a long story, owing to the sympathetic treatment of the industry by the Labour Government, by 1944, following the acceptance of the recommendations of the committee that inquired into production costs, dairy-farmers were receiving 19d. per lb. for commercial butter which, in terms of butter fat which the Victorian dairy-farmers understand more vividly, means, according to the O’Callaghan charts which are generally accepted, 19d. plus an additional 22 per cent. By 1945, with the dairying industry still under the jurisdiction of a Labour administration, the price had reached 19.3d. per lb. for commercial butter, and to-day, the figure is 2s. per lb. There is not an honest efficient dairy-farmer in Australia who will not admit privately that this is the best return he has ever obtained, and that he is in a better position than ever before. We all appreciate that the localities from which the honorable member for Richmond and the right honorable member for Cowper come are famous dairying districts, and that they have suffered considerably because of drought. I remind honorable members, however, that for the first time in our history a Commonwealth Government is paying a subsidy to drought-stricken dairy-farmers in New South Wales and Victoria.
– That is not true. This is not the first time.
– It is true. New South Wales dairy-farmers are being paid by the Commonwealth and State Governments jointly the sum of 2½d. per lb. to cover the months from August to December.
– Drought relief has been provided by other governments.
– I said by the Commonwealth and State Governments.
– If the debate is not gagged, we will answer that.
– I say, as a free gift. Drought relief provided by other governments has been parsimonious and has been distributed to the States for distribution to the dairy-farmers, not as a gift, but as a loan, which is in marked contrast to what this Government has clone. A deputation from the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation said in this building before Christmas -
In submitting the principle of this resolution for your endorsement, the dairying industry desires to frankly record its appreciation of the sympathetic treatment received since 1941 from the Commonwealth Government. More particularly, the Government’s policy for assistance to the industry since 1st April, 1943,has created a new outlook for those engaged in dairying.
I prefer to take what they say than the drivel of the right honorable member for Cowper and the honorable member for Richmond. It was in recognition of the possibility of the production costs in the industry having risen since they were last determined that the Government appointed the Dairying Industry Production Costs Committee to ascertain current production costs. The honorable member for Richmond criticized the likelihood that some months will pass before it presents its report. The Australian Dairy Farmers Federation asked for the appointment of the committee. Do honorable members think that it would expect the committee to make a thorough investigation and complete its report in a week, a fortnight or a month? The terms of the federation’s request were -
Accordingly, it is suggested that the decisions by the Government in relation to measures for stabilization should be taken only after consideration of advice tendered by a specially -created advisory body upon which the Government and the dairying industry would both have appropriate representation [Extension of time granted.]
The Government agreed to that request and the committee was set up accordingly. By the time it has completed its investigations it will have inspected a vast number of dairy farms in Australia, and, by the application of wellestablishedprinciples, it will have arrived at what it considers to be the costs of production on Australian dairy farms. I hope that it will not be long before it makes its recommendations. Those recommendations will receive the prompt and careful consideration of the Government. The problem of the dairying industry, however, is not solely a price problem. Like many other rural pursuits’, dairying requires more effective and scientific methods. In my tours of the Australian dairying areas, I have been glad to observe that because of the increased remuneration that the dairy-farmers have received since the Labour- party has been in office, the great majority have been able to undertake more up-to-date operations. Throughout Gippsland one can see electricallyoperated milking plants and separators. That policy is being adopted throughout the Australian dairying districts. It has been possible only because of the sounder basis upon which the industry has been put by this Government. In 1934 my return for butter fat was Sid. per ]b., which, even with the allowance made for the increased cost of production, cannot be compared with the magnificent price of 2s. per lb. for butter fat to-day. Every time the dairying industry is debated in this House some honorable members tell a doleful tale of child and female labour. Child and female labour is vanishing from the dairying industry of Australia, and the rate of vanishing has accelerated since 1942 and 1943 because of the better conditions and price established by this Government. When the Country party shared office with the other Opposition party, it was negligent of its’ duty to the dairying industry, and consequently there was no alternative to “ mum. and the kids “ sharing the farm drudgery. When the: Dairying Industry Production Costs Committee has com pleted its survey and its recommendations have been made and considered by the Government, it is probable that, if costs of production warrant it, prices will be raised. But here I must strike a note of warning. The danger of too high a price is referred to in the 10th Rer,ort of the Sural Industries Commission, which points out that if prices are pushed too high, land values become inflated, increasing the burden on the next generation’ of farmers,, and the price’ of cattle becomes inflated.. Indeed’, to-day, one cannot buy a. good dairy cow for less than £25. The honorable member for Richmond contrasted the price of butter in Great Britain and Sydney, but he carefully avoided the fact that our internal economy is pegged at a basis different from that of Great Britain. He carefully refrained from telling, the people that the Australian dairy-farmer can buy all his requirements within Australia, exclusive of those which are imported. Despite the inane laughter of the honorable gentleman opposite, I can give a concrete illustration of that. The landed price of wire’-netting imported from the United Kingdom in Australia is £8 8s. a 100-yard roll. The Australian pegged price is £4 4s. a roll. Similar price advantages apply to a vast range of products other than wire netting which dairy-farmers’ must purchase. Milk-cans, milk-coolers and many other dairy requirements are available in Australia, subject to certain shortages, at prices which have been fixed with a view to safeguarding Australia’s economy. In these circumstances, the arguments submitted by the honorable member for Richmond should be dismissed. The motion is premature and unsoundly based, and it has no real relation to the facts of the situation existing in Australia.
.- I was pleased to hear the- Minister say that he has had personal experience of the dairying industry. That experience will enable him to appreciate readily the force of the arguments which I will adduce and with which, no doubt, he will agree. The Minister in fact used an argument which I had intended to use. I agree entirely with his statement that a dairyfarmer must devote 100 per cent, of his time to his farm. Apparently, in the view of the Minister, a dairy-farmer is not entitled to a 40-hour working week. The Government has made no suggestion that the hours of labour of dairy-farmers should be reduced. This is typical of its attitude towards primary producers. It does not intend them to benefit from reduced working hours, although it is greatly concerned about the conditions of trade unionists. Unless the Government guarantees to dairy-farmers reasonably profitable prices for their products, they will leave their farms. The dairyfarmer does not have a 40-hour week and he rarely has holidays. If be does take a holiday, his cows go dry. I admit that some regions are uneconomical for dairying purposes, but we must maintain milk production in those districts because they are near large centres of population and supplies to the local market must be maintained. Dairy-farmers in such areas are severely handicapped, and they deserve to receive higher prices for their products. Much has been said about drought conditions. Australia has just experienced the worst drought within memory. An examination of rainfall statistics in districts which are regarded as “ safe areas “ for dairy production shows that, during the last ten years, rainfall has dropped from an average of 30 inches a year to only 18 inches a year. This i3 not just a passing vagary of climatic conditions; it is an established trend. Dairy-farmers therefore must face up to the fact that areas which were once regarded as safe for dairy production now have a greatly reduced rainfall. Furthermore, the rain that does fall in those districts has an unpleasant habit of coming in January or February, when it is not badly needed, so that drought conditions prevail during the remainder of the year. All of these factors have contributed to the decrease of butter and milk production. Owing to this decrease, the people of Great Britain are being denied the supplies of butter and other products which they badly need in spite of the fact that Australians want them to have all of the butter that can be exported from this country.
High costs of production have placed a crippling burden on the industry in recent years. In order to illustrate the degree to which costs have increased, I refer to figures which have been supplied to me by the Orange Dairyman’s Association. For instance, in the years from 1937 to 1940, casual labour for stacking crops could be engaged by farmers at rates ranging from 12s. to 15s. a day. To-day, however, harvest boys are employed on this work at a rate of £1 a day, although they do only two-thirds as much work as fully-grown men. The cost of building a stack of cereal hay has increased from 37s. in 1940 to £3 to-day. Cartage charges have increased in the same period by at least 30 per cent, according to conservative estimates. The cost of buying stock feed is alarmingly high, because stock now have to be handfed for almost seven months of the year. Perhaps the greatest factor influencing the increased cost of production is the almost complete lack of suitable concentrates such as bran, pollard, oats and meal. Many dairymen are keeping their cows alive by feeding them with cereal hay alone. A cow consumes from 25 to 30 lb. of hay daily at a cost of approximately ltd. per lb at the manger. The average daily production on this standard of feed is 1£ gallons, worth ls. 8£d. It is not surprising, therefore, that many dairymen are trying to sell their farms. In the areas west of Orange, 36 dairy farms have been closed down in the last six weeks. The cows are being sold for meat. I admit that the subsidy is of great assistance to the farmers, but it does not solve the problems of the industry. Producers cheerfully borrow money, anticipating that the Government will grant them a subsidy, but if the Government fails to do so they are saddled with heavy financial obligations. The subsidy does not provide them with any real sense of security, and therefore the industry is not attractive. I know of many exservicemen, sons of dairy-farmers, who will not follow in their fathers’ footsteps. They say, quite reasonably, “ Why should we go into the industry? It is too unattractive “. This Government must take action to make the industry attractive to young men. The only way to do that is to guarantee to the farmers prices which will cover the present high costs of production plus a reasonable margin of profit. I support the motion.
Motion (by Mr. Scully) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S.Rosevear.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Anthony) put -
That the House do now adjourn.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S.Rosevear.)
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent Notice of Motion No. 2, General Business, being considered forthwith.
There is no more important business on the notice-paper than that standing in the name of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), namely -
That in the opinion of this House the Commonwealth Government should immediately make a gift to the United Kingdom Government of foodstuffs to the value of £25,000,000 in order to assist in alleviating the undernourishment of the British people and encouraging them in their heroic efforts towards recovery.
That notice of motion is important for a variety of reasons, the first of which is that our fellow Britishers in the Old Country are facing a crisis without parallel in their history. They are threatened with a shortage of food which might easily accomplish what the armed forces of Germany and other enemy countries could not achieve. It is important also for the reason that throughout Australia there is a growing belief that we are not doing sufficient to carry out our obligations to the people of the Old Country.
– I regret that I must give the same ruling to-day as I gave yesterday when the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) adopted a similar course. The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) may discuss the merits of the motion, and give reasons why it should be given precedence over other business, but she is not entitled to discuss the subjectmatter of the notice of motion in the name of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page).
– I believe that the notice of motion standing in the name of the right honorable member for Cowper is the most important business on the notice-paper, because the need to send a. gift of foodstuffs to the people of Britain has not yet been discussed in this Parliament. It is a matter of such vital importance that the Parliament of New South “Wales recently devoted a whole day to discussing the following motion by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Assembly: -
That this House hereby pledges to the Commonwealth Government the fullest co-operation in any measures designed to help the people of Great Britain in their desperatehour of need by speedy and adequate gifts of foodstuffs.
That motion received the support of the Premier of New South Wales and was carried unanimously. In my opinion, no statement made in this House so far on behalf of the Government has contained sufficient reason for not co-operating in sending additional foodstuffs to Britain. I shall not transgress your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I believe that in the interests of Australia as well as of the Mother Country this subject should be fully debated, and ways and means devised in order to ascertain how best we can meet the great need of the people of Britain, which is so apparent to the peoples of the world.
.- I support the motion, because I believe that it relates to a subject which is more important, and more urgent, than that of any other business on the notice-paper. So urgent is the need of the people of Great Britain that the notice of motion in the name of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) should be discussed immediately, not next week or next month or six months hence. If action is to be taken, it should be taken forthwith, because every day that passes accentuates the difficulties facing the people of Great Britain and brings them nearer to the verge of starvation. I have studied the other items of business on the notice-paper and, in my opinion, there is not one of them which could not well be postponed for at least a. month. The notice of motion to which I have referred deals with a matter of great urgency to not only the people of Great Britain but also of Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) gives me what might be described as a stony look; but I believe that he has a heart that can be touched by the dire need of the people of the Old Country. Their desperate situation is a matter which affects all of us, deeply, and I hope that the motion now before the House will receive more sympathetic consideration than similar motions dealing with the same subject have received.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion by (Dame Enid Lyons) put -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent Notice of Motion No. 2, General Business, being considered forthwith.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 12.47 to 2.15 p.m.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 13th March (vide page 683).
Clause 14 (Awards and orders of the Commission) .
– I desire to obtain from the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) an explanation of the penalty provisions in this clause. Sub-clause 3 is as follows : - (3.) A person shall not contravene or fail to comply with any provision of an award or order made by the Commission which is applicable to him.
Penalty: Where the offence is committed by a waterside worker, Five pounds; in any other case, One hundred pounds.
In this clause there is apparent the tendency of the Government to agree to suggestions from the Communist leader of the Waterside Workers Federation. Indeed, the whole bill seems to have been drafted in order to embody the proposals put before Judge Foster by the secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, Mr. Healy. Everywhere there is evidence that the Government is seeking to placate the waterside workers. For instance, subclause 3 provides a penalty of £5 in the case of a misdemeanour committed by a waterside worker; but compare that with the penalty of £10 provided in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in the case of an individual offender. Why should waterside workers receive more lenient treatment than others ? The same discrimination is practised in regard to deregistration. This bill provides that an individual member of the Waterside Workers Union may be deregistered, but under the Arbitration Act, the union itself may be deregistered. This bill contains no provision for the deregistering of the Waterside Workers Federation. The Government is leaning over backwards in its efforts to placate the waterside workers. The Attorney-General is charged with the responsibility of administering Commonwealth law. He is responsible for making appointments to the Bench of Commonwealth courts, and I have no doubt that for such appointments he seeks men who will deal fairly and impartially with the matters brought before them. Strangely enough, however, the Attorney-General now brings before us a bill in which it is proposed to give preferential treatment to one section of the community over all other sections. I ask him how he can justify such treatment.
-I move -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “ (4.) Any contravention of or failure to comply with any provision of an award or order made by the Commission shall be an offence against the law of the Commonwealth.
I do so because I believe that it is necessary to strengthen the disciplinary provisions of the bill. In this extraordinary measure there are only two disciplinary provisions. The first is sub-section 3 of clause 14 which reads - (3.) A person shall not contravene or fail to comply with any provision of an award or order made by the Commission which is applicable to him.
Penalty: Where the offence is committed by a waterside worker, Five pounds; in any other case, One hundred pounds.
There is also clause 27, which provides for the deregistration of an individual who, in the opinion of the commission, has committed an offence. The weakness of that provision will be made apparent to honorable members when the clause is being considered. It is suffi cient here to point out that while clause 27 provides, in theory, that an individual may be deregistered, there is no provision for deregistering a union or a union boss. In the interests of peace on the waterfront we must do something to strengthen this provision. Sub-clause 3 is a wishywashy and completely inadequate provision which has been taken from the industrial regulations where, during the last three years’, it has proved to be not worth the paper on which it is written. We must have something better than that. To-day, we have the spectacle of the powerful leaders of the waterside workers, saying straight out that they do not propose to obey the Stevedoring Industry Commission. Every disciplinary provision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act has been excluded from this bill. Section 58ba of that act is as follows: - 58ba. N oofficer of an organization, or member of any committee thereof, or servant or agent thereof, shall, during the currency of an award in the industry concerned, advise, encourage or incite any member of such organization to refrain from -
Penalty: Twenty pounds.
That section, which, on paper at least, is sufficiently disciplinary, is excluded from the bill. Section 38 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act is another disciplinary provision.
– Will the honorable member supply me with a copy of his amendment, and will he explain in what way it differs from subclause 3 of clause 14?
– Sub-clause 3 merely provides that a person shall not fail to comply with any provision of an award or order made by the commission. I wish to remove the matter from the field of industrial law, and bring it within the scope of the ordinary law of the Commonwealth. I seek to do this by relating it to the Crimes Act, which provides that offences against the general law of the Commonwealth shall be punishable in a certain way. On that aspect I point out that in this legislation we must have power to punish, not the individual waterside worker, but the ringleaders. This Government has not made the slightest attempt to deal with the ringleaders. Honorable members on this side of the chamber have’ always contended that the. way to get industrial peace is not to punish the individual. It has been said in a loose sort of way that it would be impracticable to put 1,000 men into gaol. The point is that we need not worry about the 1,000 men but should concentrate on the leaders who incite the mass to break the law.
– What would happen if the mass incites the individual?
– That would be an interesting problem but in practice it does not arise. It certainly does not arise in connexion with the Waterside Workers Federation; the inciting there is done by Mr. Roach or Mr. Healy. If honorable members opposite are honest they will agree to the provision of machinery which will enable us to take hold of the ringleader and not merely to pick up the poor individual wharf labourer who does what his leaders tell him to do. Only recently, during the discussion of the motion of want of confidence, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), in answer to an interjection made by me, complained that the Commonwealth did not have power in industrial matters to punish people of that kind. Honorable members will probably recall that I asked: “What about clause 19 of the National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations ? “ That is the clause which provides that no person shall absent himself from work without lawful excuse. The Attorney-General quite properly reminded me that the clause had been repealed by him in March, 1946. Honorable members will observe that at a time when this country was in the midst of chaos brought about by industrial stoppages, the Government deprived itself of one of the most potent powers it possessed to enforce discipline. One might ask why the Government abandoned such a power at that important time. The Attorney-General contends that the Government now has no effective powers to deal with these people. I am inclined to think that a breach of an industrial award is a breach of the law of the Commonwealth. The AttorneyGeneral probably thought otherwise be cause he claimed that the Commonwealth did not possess the requisite power. We now propose to clothe it with power to discipline the ring-leaders, where it is necessary to do so. If we agree to the proposition that a breach of a provision in this legislation, or any failure to comply with an order or an award of the commission shall constitute a breach of the general law of the Commonwealth, that takes the offence into the realm of the Crimes Act which provides for the imposition of penalties upon those who incite others to commit breaches of the law of the Commonwealth. Section 5 of the Crimes Act reads -
Any person who aids, abets, counsels, or procures, or by act or omission is in any way directly or indirectly knowingly concerned in, or party to, the commission of any offence against any law of the Commonwealth, whether passed before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be deemed to have committed that offence and shall be punishable accordingly.
Section 7 (a) of the act, which is perhaps the more relevant section, reads -
If any person -
incites to, urges, aids or encourages; or
prints or publishes any writing which incites to, urges, aids or encourages, the commission of offences against any law of the Commonwealth or the carrying on of any operations for or by the commission of such offences, he shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: One hundred pounds or imprisonment for twelve mouths, or both.
The machinery provisions of the Crimes Act, with which I am familiar, then come into operation, and it is open to the Attorney-General to launch a prosecution either by way of a charge of having committed an indictable offence, or, as was almost invariably done during the war, by consenting to informal proceedings taking place before a magistrate. We all remember the special federal courts which sat in the various States and exercised that jurisdiction right throughout the period of the war. If we give the Government that power it will never be open to the Government to say it has no power, that it cannot do anything, and that it must leave the matter to the commission. When an offence had been committed the Attorney-General could then launch a prosecution and the law would take its course. The offence would not then be taken into the realm of pressure politics before the commission; it would he dealt with by the ordinary courts of the land under the provisions of the Crimes Act. The arguments in favour of giving the Attorney-General this power are irresistible. If they are not accepted members of the Government will stand condemned as hypocrites because they do not mean what they say. I speak with some warmth on this subject because I believe that the Government must have this power in order to ensure industrial peace. Let us put this matter beyond any doubt and give the Government power independently of the commission to launch prosecutions in appropriate cases.
– The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) is apparently unaware of the contents of the Acts Interpretation Act. Section 41 of that act provides that wherever a penalty is indicated at the foot of any Commonwealth statute, that penalty indicates that any contravention of the section or of the subjection shall be an offence against the act, punishable upon conviction by a penalty not exceeding the penalty mentioned. The honorable member should become acquainted with the arbitration laws. Under Commonwealth law the provisions as to striking or other offences against awards, insofar as they were offences on the part of an individual against a statute, were removed from the law by an act passed by the Parliament in 1930 during the regime of the Scullin Government. It will be seen, therefore, that individual acts of striking do not constitute offences against Commonwealth law. We are dealing, however, not merely with awards, but also with orders or directions of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The amendment suggested by the honorable member is quite unnecessary because of the provisions of section 41 of the Acts Interpretation Act.
As to the point raised by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), that the same offence or what is ex hypothesi the same offence may be visited with the maximum penalty in two different classes of cases, I shall review that position. In principle it cannot be defended.
It is for the court to determine the gravity of the offence. These are only maximum penalties and the court will grade the penalty according to the seriousness of the offence. I can see how the views, of the honorable member for Wentworth could be entertained because in many cases offences would be of a trifling character. I shall have both clause 14 and clause 15 in which there is a similar penalty with that discrimination, reviewed in an endeavour to arrive at something satisfactory to all concerned.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 15 - (1.) A direction given by the Commission may be given orally or in writing. (2.) A direction given orally shall be given to the person required to comply with the direction and thereupon that person shall comply with the direction.
– I have an amendment on this clause which is the same in substance as the one circulated on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). The clause provides that a direction by the commission may be given orally or in writing. I move -
That, after sub-clause (2.), the following new sub-clause be inserted: - “ (2a.) Where a direction is given orally, the Commission shall, within 24 hours thereafter, record the direction in writing.”.
The purpose of the amendment is that a direction given orally shall be authenticated and confirmed.
.- Do I understand that the amendment that has been moved by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) has been accepted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) ?
– No, but the Leader of the Opposition is not prepared to press his own amendment in view of the amendment that has been moved by the Attorney-General.
– But the AttorneyGeneral’s amendment does not meet the actual complaint against this clause. The clause provides that a direction may be given by the commission orally or in writing. Amongst other things, clause 9 gives authority to the commission to delegate its power to any officer. The object of the amendment that was foreshadowed by the Leader of the Opposition was that confirmation in writing should be conveyed to a person who was called upon orally to comply with an order. Otherwise, he would be in the impossible position of not knowing whether the officer by whom he had been given the oral direction had authority to do so, nor would he know the exact contents of the order. That objection would have been met by the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition which was to the effect that any order given orally should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours. The Attorney-General’s amendment provides that where a direction is given orally the commission must, within 24 hours thereafter, record that direction in writing. “Record” means record at an office. It does not mean that written confirmation should be conveyed to a person to whom an oral direction is given.
– There is no dispute as to what is right in regard to this matter. The point that has been made by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) is that there should be some arrangement by which an oral direction would be confirmed in writing to the person who had to carry out the order. I ask leave to amend my amendment by the addition of the following words: - and shall immediately confirm it, in writing, to the person to whom the oral direction was given.
– That will suit me.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 16 agreed to.
Clause 17 (Limitation of jurisdiction of Arbitration Court).
.- I should like an explanation of what appears to me to be a conflict between clauses 17 and 9. I apprehend, as a matter of construction, although it may be debatable, that clause 17 which deals with a specific subject would prevail. Clause 9 gives to the commission power either generally or in relation to any port, to delegate to an officer any of its powers or functions under this measure. One of its powers, according to clause 13, is to make awards and orders with respect to the wages, hours and conditions of employment of waterside workers.Reading clauses 9 and 11 in conjunction, it is apparent that the commission could, under clause 9, delegate to a conciliation commissioner its powers under clause 13. Then, clause 17 provides that the Arbitration Court or a conciliation commissioner shall not be empowered to make an award or order in relation to the salaries &c. of waterside workers. As I have said, it would probably be held that clause 17 would prevail, hut there is an apparent conflict with clause 9. I am not suggesting that this matter should be dealt with now, but I hope that consideration will be given to it before the hill goes to the Senate.
– I am obliged to the honorable member for drawing attention to this matter. I shall have it clarified, if that he necessary.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses18 and 19 agreed to.
Clause 20 (Appeals).
– Paragraph b of sub-clause 2 reads - (2.) There shall be an appeal to the Court -
Will the Government consider inserting after paragraph b, the following new paragraph : -
– I am not prepared to agree to a further appeal. After all, a judge or a conciliation commissioner - we hope that it will be a judge - will be chairman of the tribunal, and provision is made for an appeal to the commission from any subordinate body. Provision for a further appeal to another court on a matter like that would make proceedings far too long and would be quite out of place in an administrative body.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 21 agreed to.
The Commission may, in respect of any port establish and maintain -
a register of employers at that port; and
a register of waterside workers at that port.
– I move -
That the following words be added to paragraph (b) after the word “port”: - “ foi purposes of information only “.
I do so to emphasize the point I made on the second-reading that this clause initiates industrial conscription. If the clause is carried as it stands, every one working on the waterfront must be registered, and if the union does not admit a man to membership he will be ineligible for registration. Another argument against the clause is that it enforces compulsory unionism, but I attack it on the ground that it introduces industrial conscription. If the number of workers in any industry is restricted there is no reason w hy that principle should not be extended to every other industry. If it were, the Government would be able to say at any stage, “ There are more workers here than desirable “, or, the union could say, “ There are too many people in this industry”. We should then have the whole community regimented. That is undoubtedly industrial conscription. The industrial powers referendum was overwhelmingly defeated because the people are totally against that principle. This bill may well be the beginning of a new era of industrial organization unless we are awake. I will not allow this bill to go through without entering an emphatic protest against the system of industrial organization that this registration of waterside workers will undoubtedly give rise to. We already have operating in this country a system that was never envisaged whereby people may not grow primary products like potatoes and wheat without a permit; but, when we come to the point at which every person must be registered and wear a badge of membership of a union before he may get work, we shall be in exactly the same position as the Russians.
– It is the Indian caste system.
– Yes, perhaps; but, at any rate, it is the totalitarian system to which I believe all real Australians are entirely opposed. I hope that the Government will accept the amendment, which will allow a register to be kept as an obvious convenience for information only.
. This clause in no way provides for industrial conscription. No one is compelled to work. The proposed register will be like the register kept of members of certain professions in which the registration system is basic. A register of professional men is designed not to compel people to practise the profession but to facilitate the organization of the profession and to ensure that, in the interests of the public, practitioners shall be qualified. Industrial conscription means that people are compelled to work against their will. The system operated during the war when, because of the tremendous dangers that beset us, it was, in my opinion, absolutely justified; but, when the war ended we abolished it. Moreover, in the industrial powers referendum, we inserted a safeguarding clause specifically providing against industrial conscription. Is the objection to a register on the waterfront based on the belief that we should go back to “ the good old days “ when industrial anarchy prevailed on the waterfront? A register has been kept of waterside workers. It was called the “licensing system “.
– The “ dog licensing “ system.
– Yes. It was called the “ dog-collar “. It gave the workers no benefits or rights whatever. It made no provision for regulation of the stevedoring industry. It was not intended to improve standards or provide amenities on the wharfs. It was a procedure by which waterside workers had to take out a licence. If they did not work, their licences were taken from them. That was industrial conscription, because the penalty for non-observance of the call to work was that a man was not allowed to work. I need not say more on that subject because it was dealt with adequately last night by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) . It was merely a licensing system, and we repeal it. The register of waterside workers will give them security in the industry if they are well behaved. The maintenance of the register will not mean that once a man’s name has been registered it will remain on the register until he dies. Since the inception of the commission no fewer than 3,949 waterside workers have had their registrations cancelled for various reasons, including misconduct.
– But they are still working.
– They are not. They are out of the industry. I could understand an objection to registration if it were merely an instrument of industrial conscription under which men would be compelled against their wishes to work, but that is not the kind of register provided for. The register is designed to enable the regulation of the industry in the hope that the result will be gradual improvement of the standard of the workers. The honorable member has misconceived the object of the register.
.- The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) has done the committee a service in drawing its attention to this clause and those that follow it, all of which are a part of the one system. It is true that I think I heard the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) interject, “What is wrong with industrial conscription?” He is apparently in favour of it.
– - The honorable member for Warringah is wrong. I said nothing of the kind.
– A register of waterside workers could not be used to compel the men to work on the stevedoring industry, but if the pattern of this bill is repeated in legislation affecting other industries, and registers are kept of employees in all the major industries, we shall virtually have industrial conscription, because man must work to live. There is a much more concrete objection to this bill. It is that nobody will be able to secure employment in the industry in future except at the will of the Waterside Workers Federation. Sub-clause 2 of clause 24 provides that-
Except at such ports as the Commission determines, a waterside worker shall not be registered under this Act unless he is a member of the Federation . . .
A man must register before he can obtain work as a wharf labourer, hut he cannot obtain registration unless he is a member of the federation. There is no provision in the bill for men to enter the industry except by special permission of the union. Little by little the Government is conceding to the industrial unions the right to decide who shall work in certain industries. This is a vital matter. Probably many other honorable members have knowledge of cases in which men have been refused entry to trade unions. Numbers of such cases have come to my attention. In one instance, two ex-servicemen sought to join the Seamen’s Union, but their applications were refused. I have asked both the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) to consider this case, but they have passed the buck back and forth, and I am not likely to obtain a satisfactory reply. The union will determine whether the men will be granted membership. The people of Australia should understand that legislation of this sort will unquestionably give to the unions the sole power of determining who shall work in any industry, and all the talk by Government supporters about freedom and the democratic way of life for which Australians have fought and died will become a hollow mockery.
.- The objection raised by the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons), far from being opposed to the view of the unions, in Western Australia at any rate, is completely in line with it. Some honorable members opposite seem to believe that this clause will give dangerous powers to the unions, ‘but the unions object that it will give power to the commission to act against them. Clause 21 is objected to by the Fremantle Lumpers Union on that ground. It would not be true to say that the proposed register will have no aspects of industrial conscription. Taking clause 25 in conjauction with clause 21, we find that the commission will definitely have power to exclude men from employment on the waterfront. I realize the difficulties involved in guaranteeing to waterside workers a living wage, a fair apportionment of work, attendance money, and amenities. . The Government could not go on indefinitely allowing anybody to work on the wharfs because, if it did so, its guarantees would have to be extended to men who had no prospect of obtaining full employment. However, the unions have a definite fear of this provision. Perham the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) will agree to have the bill amended by the Senate so as to remove the danger of industrial conscription from the provisions of clause 21. I am hound to inform the right honorable gentleman that the waterside workers of Western Australia object to clauses 21 and 25.
– I am aware of that. They have already informed me of their objection by telegram.
.- When we take clause 21 in conjunction with other clauses, we see that the argument adduced by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) is specious. Waterside workers will be required to be registered, but in order to qualify for registration they must be members of the Waterside Workers Federation. That is straightout compulsory unionism, to which we are opposed. This is a free country and men should be free to work as they please. No despotic union official should have power to approve another man’s choice of livelihood. The welfare and happiness of a worker and his family should not be dependent upon the whim of such an individual. I have had experience of cases such as that -which was mentioned by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. .Spender). One man sought employment on the waterfront, knowing that there was plenty of work available, but he was fobbed off by the union secretary when he sought to join the Waterside Workers Federation. He was staved off month after mouth, and finally took employment elsewhere. A long time ago, Benjamin Franklin said, “ Those who would surrender freedom for some measure of security deserve neither liberty nor security “. That is true to-day. The troubles which are occurring on the waterfront to-day are of serious proportions. They affect the welfare and happiness of all Australians and of many people overseas. All of this is due to the fact that a man of ill motive has decided that overtime shall not be worked in spite of the rising clamour for increased production. His decision is keeping hundreds of men out of employment and is retarding trade and commerce. Many waterside workers are excellent men who would be much happier if they were free of the fetters which have been clamped upon them by union dictators. Unfortunately, this legislation will rivet those fetters more firmly upon them. The position would be ludicrous if it were not so tragic.
I talked to many prominent Nazis in Germany in 193S. They held the same beliefs as do union leaders in Australia to-day. They believed fanatically that their party must come first in all things and, in their view, a man was better dead than outside the party. Some trade union leaders are equally fanatical. How can the Attorney-General hope to deceive the people? He is an intelligent, educated man, but he says that the register provided for in this bill will merely be a list of names prepared so that we shall know who is working on the waterfront. He says that the register will have no other purpose. The next clause gives the lie to the right honorable gentleman. It provides that jobs on the waterfront shall be exclusive to members of the Waterside Workers Federation. The Government is pandering to lawlessness and will pull down the high standards of good workers to the level of the worst worker. It is bending the knee to Australia’s enemies. I oppose the clause as it stands and support the amendment.
.- Members of the Opposition have already wasted so much time in discussing the clauses of this bill that I did not intend to take part in the debate. I rise now for purpose of correcting a misconception. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) stated that, if he had heard correctly while the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) was speaking. I interjected that I subscribed to industrial conscription. The honorable member for Warringah did not hear me correctly. The honorable member for Darwin said that the registration of waterside workers was compulsory unionism, and who could say that in the near future, compulsory unionism might not be extended to the farms. At that point, I asked : “ What would be wrong with that?”, I was referring to the extension of industrial unionism to the farms. I make no apology for my attitude regarding compulsory unionism. Iama stickler for it. If honorable members opposite put on their considering caps, they might recall the old saying, “ It is far better to keep your mouth shut and appear a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt “. The Opposition must be aware that membership of employers’ organizations is compulsory. Why, then, are they so eager to criticize compulsory unionism in workers’ organizations?
– Will the honorable member name an employers’ organization, membership of which is compulsory?
– I had in mind the wool-growers’ organization.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Membership is compulsory in Queensland among the wool-growers and sugar cane-growers. Membership of the Chamber of Manufacturers is also compulsory.
– I am speaking the truth.
THE CHAIRMAN.- Order! I ask the honorable member to address his remarks to the bill.
– Honorable members opposite who have criticized compulsory unionism, are concerned only about compulsory unionism in workers’ organizations. They realize that the strength of an organization lies in its membership. For that reason, employers’ organizations have compulsory membership. Honorable members opposite object to compulsory unionism in workers’ organizations because of the growing strength of the unions, which will counter the attacks which come inevitably from employers’ organizations. On another occasion, I shall read to the House some illuminating figures that will prove conclusively the statements which I am making this afternoon; and I shall not ask the Opposition to grant me leave to incorporate them in Hansard.
Honorable members opposite have criticized the Waterside Workers Federation for restricting its membership. Apparently, the Opposition considers that the federation should recruit members as fast as applications are received. One of the reasons why waterside workers refuse to work overtime now is that the federation has too many members on its books. I do not condone many of the actions of the waterside workers, and my attitude in this matter is known to the whole community. But at Townsville, in Queensland, the Waterside Workers Federation has decided that its members shall not work overtime, in order that all members of the federation may participate in an equal distribution of the work available. Honorable members opposite desire to aggravate the position. They contend that the federation should open its books and admit more members. They know that even now, full-time employment cannot be provided for all the present members of the federation. In conclusion, I again inform the honorable member for Warringah that he did not hear me correctly when he thought that I said I subscribed to industrial conscription.
– Replying to the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons), the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) declared that the licensing system, which was previously known as the “ dog collar act “ was a dreadful piece of legislation, and therefore he had decided to repeal it. He added a little lustre on his own account to his political halo, and proceeded to state that he had replaced the licensing system with the system of registration. If the right honorable gentleman is willing to give to honorable members an exposition of logic for a few minutes, I should like him to explain the difference between a licensing system and a registration system. So far as I am aware, the only difference is that under the so-called “dog collar act” licences were issued to wharf labourers in certain ports by a Commonwealth authority. Under this bill, the licences will he issued, not by a Commonwealth authority, but by an authority over which the Commonwealth Government has notoriously no control. This is something that the Attorney-General cannot easily explain away. He may say that this is not industrial conscription. I have had placed in my hands an interesting document. I do not know to whom the notification was addressed, but I am prepared to lay it upon the table of the House for other honorable members to see. The document is headed -
New South Wales Branch. and reads -
Members are hereby notified that under the Act passed by the Curtin government in 1942 any benefits gained by any organization after that date would only apply to members of the respective organizations. The increases which will come into operation as from the 23rd March, 1947, comes within this Act.
This communication is addressed by some outside organization to people who are obviously employed by the Commonwealth. The increases range from £12 to £50 per annum, according to the grade of the employee. This is one of the most atrocious pieces of impudence that I have ever seen on paper. The document states -
If you decide to take part in this rise, you will have to be financial by the 23rd March, 1947.
In other words, if the employee desires to obtain the increase which the Commonwealth Government regarded as a fair thing for his services, he must pay rent, as it were, to some outside organization. The document concludes -
Should at any time this association notify *;he Personnel Branch that a member has been deprived of the privilege of membership, this increase automatically ceases.
If the employee does not like something that the union does, and becomes unfinancial on that account, he will lose the benefit of the increase.
– Order ! The honorable member has made sufficient “ passing reference “ to that matter, and I ask him to return to the actual amendment.
– The actual amendment deals with the proposal to compel a man to join, belong to and pay a subscription to the organization in which he might not have any interest whatever, and which might, in its actual activities, be devoting itself to preventing him from exercising his right to earn his livelihood. Modern unionism - and I look straight at the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) when I say this - is a tyranny that has to be fought in any democratic community. The sooner we lock horns with modern unionism, the better it will be for this democratic community. A man must have the right to work, whether he subscribes to the rules of a union or not. If an award is to be made, let it apply to the industry, and to any person who is prepared to accept the law of the land and work in accordance with the provisions of the award. That is a hard doctrine, and some honorable members opposite will not easily accept it; but I tell them that the time is not far distant when a very much hurt and wronged community will rise and sweep modern unionism into the dust bin where it properly belongs. That is, the control of unionism to-day. Honorable members opposite may squirm and wriggle if they like, but that is a fact and they cannot deny it. The loudness of their plaint does not answer the force of my remarks. Noise is no excuse for argument.
– The honorable member said that every man should have the right to work?
– I entirely agree. Did every man have the right to work during the financial and economic depression from 1928 to 1934?
– I was a member of the South Australian Parliament in the days when the Labour party in that State had the biggest majority in its history. I realize that this is not the time to discuss that matter, but if the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) wants an argument-
– I am always ready for one.
– Before the honorable member for Denison entered this chamber he was a Minister in a Labour Government in Tasmania.
– The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron)- must cease answering interjections, or I shall ask him to resume his seat.
– With respect, I point out that no attempt has been made to restrain the honorable member for Denison.
– The honorable gentleman is inviting interjections.
– I am a direct descendant of the dove of peace; but it is only natural that, with my healthy blood, I should accept a challenge when it is offered. Taken alone, this clause is a dreadful thing, but when it is considered in conjunction with clause 30, which provides that every man who takes a job on the waterfront shall be registered and must carry a token of registration, it is as bad as it possibly could be. What form will the token take? Will it have engraved on it a hammer and a sickle, and will it be made of aluminium? It ought to be of aluminium, because these fellows ought not to be asked to carry anything heavy. For everything that this clause stands for I have the greatest contempt. In a democracy such a provision ought not to be tolerated by any reasonable person for ten seconds.
– The arguments that have been advanced against the amendment have left me unmoved. I cannot accept the suggestion of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) that there is no implication of industrial conscription contained in this measure. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) used a telling phrase when he said that if the pattern be repeated over and over again, as it may be under the kind of industrial organization that is contemplated, we shall indeed, be industrially conscripted; and although a man may not be told specifically that he must work in this or that industry, he may be excluded from one industry after another until he is bound to work where he does not desire to work. Reference has been made to the registration of doctors and lawyers, but there is nothing to prevent any person from becoming either a doctor or a lawyer, unless it has happened since the present Government took office. There is considerable suspicion in the minds of many people that means are being used to exclude from universities some classes of persons who wish to enter certain professions on the ground that those professions are overcrowded. No doubt that kind of thing is happening, but, so far, it has not received the sanction of this Parliament. The registration of doctors and lawyers is necessary for the protection of the community generally. I do not want to appear to doubt the word of the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds), but I distinctly gained the impression that he agreed that industrial conscription-
– The honorable member for Darwin is just as wrong as was the honorable member for Warringah.
– As to my own remarks, I can only say that, although I referred, in passing, to compulsory unionism, the gravamen of my speech was that industrial conscription was involved.
– The honorable member connected the two.
– Although I have no doubt that the Government has no intention to enforce industrial conscription immediately, I regard some of the provisions of this bill as exceedingly dangerous. I accept unreservedly the statement of the Attorney-General that this measure has been introduced for the benefit of those engaged in stevedoring. I believe that the intention underlying the hill is good but I remind the right honorable gentleman that a certain broad pathway is said to be paved with good intentions. If a certain course of action be initiated, we are bound by the logic of events to follow that course. Once we begin to tread this path, we shall eventually find ourselves proceeding along a road which must inevitably lead to industrial conscription. I, therefore, ask the committee to accept the amendment.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 23 agreed to.
Clause 24 - ( 1 . ) Subject to the next succeeding subsection, the registration of an employer or waterside worker under this Act shall -be in the discretion of the Commission.
– .On behalf of the ‘Leader of the (Opposition (Mr. Menzies) I move -
That, in sub-clause (I.), after the word “ sub-section “, the following words be inserted : - ‘ and to the provisions of the Reestablishment and Employment Act 1945 “.
The amendment seeks to give to members of the Waterside Workers Federation the rights conferred by the Re-establishment and Employment Act. This is a substantive clause which gives a discretion to the commission without regard to the provisions of that act. Even the meagre seven years’ preference given to exservicemen by that legislation is to be denied to workers on the waterfront. Unless the amendment be accepted, there will be no preference to ex-servicemen in the stevedoring industry. The niggardly measure of preference given .to exservicemen under that act was either wrung from the Government or was offered by it so that it could say that it had done something for ex-servicemen. Gradually, however, even that measure of preference is being whittled away, as we have seen in connexion with the Tradesmen’s Rights Bill and a recent measure to amend the Commonwealth Public Service Act. A further step is now proposed in this bill. The Government’s claim that it has the interests of ex-servicemen at heart would appear to be a mockery and a sham. If the Government is sincere in its professed desire to give preference to ex-servicemen, it must accept the amendment.
– In its present’ form the clause provides for compulsory unionism. Those honorable members who are opposed to compulsory unionism should press the amendment to a division. Although it is true that the commission will be the authority empowered to issue licences, the commission will not be able to grant a licence unless the person concerned has already become a member of the federation. There is a small door through which he must go before he can walk beyond, and that small door is under the control of the federation. We on thisside of the House are opposed to compulsory unionism. That does not mean that we do not believe in unionism - in thisregard I do not subscribe to the views of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) - but we do not believein compulsory unionism, particularly when we know how unions are controlled to-day. Another consideration is this:. If compulsory unionism is to be the policy of the Government, is the man whoseapplication for membership of a union has been rejected to have a right of appeal to some independent body? Surely, since a man’s livelihood is to depend upon his gaining admission to a union, thereshould be some appeal against a decision excluding him if he thinks that the decision is unjust. Let us consider one example: Suppose a person, who was an organizer for the Liberal party, were toseek admission to the Waterside WorkersFederation. ‘Does any honorable member opposite think that he would stand a chance? We know that those in control of trade unions are so blinded by class hatred that they would reject such a man, not because he was not a good worker or & decent Australian, but because of his partyaffiliation. If unionism is to become just another name for the Labour party, then, we are moving rapidly along the road in the direction of one-party government in Australia.
This clause opens the way to compulsory unionism, and will make of theWaterside Workers Federation one of the strongest monopolies in Australia. Under the bill, the federation will be the only union recognized in connexion with thestevedoring industry, and no man will beregistered for work on the waterfront unless he first ‘becomes a member of the union. This is tantamount to destroying a man’s right to follow the avocation of his choice. If this is the kind of democratic legislation we are to expect, it is time the veil was torn away, and thepeople were allowed to see that, bit by bit, we are surrendering to the sort of” regime against which we fought for six years.
.- TheDeputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) said that there was no provision in this bill for returned soldiers..
That is not true. He also said that the clause amounted to a recognition of the principle of compulsory unionism. Yes, it does, and that is something we have been trying to achieve for a long time. I am in favour of compulsory unionism - I make no bones about that. I believe that any one who enters an industry, and becomes entitled to the benefit for which the workers fought and’ suffered for years, should be compelled to join the union appropriate to that industry. The honorable member forWarringah (Mr. Spender) referred to sub-clause 2, but omitted to mention the concluding part, which is as follows : - . . but nothing in this sub-section shall affect the operation of paragraph (c) of subsection (2.) of section three of this Act.
Paragraph c of sub-clause 2 of clause 3 of. the bill is as follows : -
– What has that to do with it ?
– There are “scab” organizations on the waterfront, and there is a large number of returned soldiers who will be protected by that provision.
– But the returned soldiers must first become members of the federation.
– Between 85 per cent, and 95 per cent, of returned soldiers are unionists. The honorable member for Warringah said something which amused me very much. He asked what chance an organizer for the Liberal party would have of being admitted to a union. Has any one ever seen a Liberal party organizer working in a mine or on a wharf? The Liberal party organizers are men of independent means who go organizing in order to safeguard their assets. The honorable member’s question just tickles me to death. Most of the amendments put forward by the Opposition represent a deliberate attempt at stone-walling in order to hold up the effort of the Government to do something for the benefit of the nation. At 2 o’clock this morning, the Opposition agreed to let the Government have the bill to-day, but now it is stone-walling again.
.- This clause makes it clear that the policy of the Government is compulsory unionism. Indeed, this was confirmed in mellow tones by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr: James). Compulsory unionism is an old story. I remind honorable members that no provision is made for compulsory unionism in the Commonwealth Conciliation Arbitration Act. It is true that section 40 of that act provides for unionism - other things being equal. During the war, an attempt was made in the National Security Regulations to break down this qualification, but it is still there. However, the qualification does not appear in the recently introduced Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, so it would appear that the bill now before us has become the pattern for future industrial legislation.
– I hope it is.
– In future, apparently, all workers must belong to unions. As I said in my second-reading speech, “Unionism, yes; preferential unionism, yes; but compulsory unionism, no!” Compulsory unionism is tyranny, and honorable members opposite who support it reveal a fascist mind. The great Labour movement which once fought for the liberty of the subject is now in full reverse. History is repeating itself. Every now and again great institutions rise up and become very powerful. Today, the unions have become all powerful; they are drunk with power, and are now prepared to strangle any one who opposes them. As the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has said, we must begin in this country a new fight against a new tyranny. To-day, it is not the tyranny of barons, kings or bureaucrats; the unions are on the march to tyranny. We must oppose this new tyrant tooth and nail. No doubt, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will be passed, because the Government has a majority. The attitude of the unions is that people cannot get a job unless they join a union. But what of the many who do not want to join. I know residents in my electorate who, for religious reasons, refuse to join any secular organizations of this kind. If the unions have their way, such people will not be able to obtain jobs; they must starve or abandon their principles. This is another step on the road to red tyranny; and I oppose it.
– I deplore the violent and extreme statements which have been made in this debate by honorable members opposite. The question before the chair is whether an amendment in terms of the legislation providing preference in employment for ex-service personnel should be incorporated in this measure. Those provisions apply to all employment. It is correct to say that in order to become registered a person must belong to the Waterside Workers Federation, or, at the time this measure comes into force, he must be a member of the rival union. That is a compromise, based on the report of Judge Foster. I refer honorable members to that report. In a paragraph headed “ Only one union “, Judge Foster states -
I have recommended that there be only one union in this industry. At present there arc three . .
After setting them out, he continues -
It needs no argument to suggest that the practical administration of industrial relations can most conveniently be served by the recognition of one and not several unions. This view has so often been expressed by the court and its registrars as to need no reference.
Under the clause, waterside workers are required to be registered. If the Government thought for one moment that the Waterside Workers Federation was organized in order to keep ex-servicemen off the waterfront, it would not tolerate such an organization. However, on that point I emphasize three things: First, 77 per cent, of admissions to the Waterside Workers Federation since 1944 have been ex-servicemen. That proportion relates to the entire membership of the federation throughout Australia. Secondly, long prior to that period, the Sydney branch of the federation admitted cn bloc servicemen who were members of a returned soldiers’ organization working on deep-sea cargoes. Thirdly, admissions to the Sydney branch of the federation since the 1st January, 1945, total 1,190 men, and of that number no fewer than 960 were ex-servicemen. It is said, and I have reason to believe the statement, that that position is reflected in all branches of the federation throughout Australia. The fact is that exservicemen constitute a large proportion of the membership of the federation. There has been an enormous influx of ex-servicemen into it. Therefore, in substance, this provision is in keeping with the spirit of the Re-establishment and Employment Act so far as ex-service personnel are concerned.
.- Under this provision, this weak Government proposes to hand over the economic fate of thousands of workmen to officials of Communist-controlled unions. We cannot escape that fact; because only members of the Waterside Workers Federation, whose officials are self-confessed Communists, will be permitted to work on the waterfront after this legislation is implemented. At a time like the present, when we are asking migrants from Great Britain to come here, can we not visualize the difficulty with which they will be faced when they find that they can obtain work only by becoming members of a secret organization of this sort? They will conclude that Australia is a country where one can obtain work only by permission of union dictators. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) cited the numbers of ex-service personnel who have become members of the Waterside Workers Federation; but those admissions were permitted by the federation largely as the result of protests following its action in closing its books. The federation may again close its books at some time in the future. No provision is made in this measure to prevent it from debarring applicants from membership. The other unions mentioned by the AttorneyGeneral will gradually he strangled, because under this measure they will be prohibited from recruiting new members. After this measure becomes law no one will be able to join the Permanent and Casual Waterside Workers Association. The Government has weakly surrendered to the union dictators. The attitude of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) on this matter is typical of that of King John. In matters of taxation and trade he reminds us of King Ethelred and in matters of defence he is reminiscent of Nero. This country, which is capable of supporting from 10,000,000 to 20,000,000 additional people, and increasing its production proportionately, is to be fettered with this kind of ruthless class legislation. To-day, tyrannyhas changed hands. The old industrial organizations, as we knew the unions in the past, are, to-day, an influence for bad. They have now gained full control. This is the golden age - the proletarian paradise. And who is creating this grand Utopia for the union dictators? Honorable members opposite follow these men like sheep to the detriment of the man with “ guts “ who is prepared to stand up to the dictators, and revolt against the Healys, Thorntons, Poaches and Elliotts. Those men have not done anything for Australia. If they were tried, as they can be tried under our arbitration law, they would incur severe penalties for their activities.
– I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the clause before the Chair.
Mr.WHITE.- Penalties should be provided under the measure in order to enable decent men to go about their work, and not be obliged to surrender their liberties as individuals to union officials. “We sound our warnings now. The troubles on the waterfront will not decrease. They will worsen; and the time will come when this Government will be branded with the greatest contempt as a government which sold out to the Communists.
Question put -
That the clause be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 25 (Quotas)
.- The waterside workers of Newcastle have raised objection to the principle embodied in sub-clause 2, which reads - (2.) Where the number of waterside workers registered at a port is greater than the number determined by the Commission under the last preceding sub-section in relation to that port, the Commission may suspend or cancel the registration of so many waterside workers registered at that port as it thinks fit.
They regard the operation of the subclause as being grossly unfair. No method has been laid down by which retrenchments are to be effected. We do not know, for instance, whether retrenchments will be made on the basis of seniority in employment or whether it will be left solely to the commission to determine the individuals whose licences may be suspended or cancelled. This, I feel sure, will lead to confusion and discontent, particularly when there is a surplus of workers at one port and a shortage at another. Speaking with a lifetime of experience in association with trade union matters, 1 am firmly of the opinion that retrenchments should be effected on the basis of seniority of service; in short, that the last man to come should be the first to go. No guide has been given to the commission as to what method shouldbe adopted. I respectfully suggest to the AttorneyGeneral that the sub-clause be amended by omitting the words “ suspend or cancel the registration of “ and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ transfer according to seniority rights in employment, namely, last to come, first to go “, and, by adding at the end of the sub-clause the words “ to any other port in the State where vacancies exist “. If a waterside “worker’s licence is cancelled or suspended where can he go? On occasions There may be a shortage of waterfront employees at Newcastle and a surplus at the port of Sydney. Why should not the Then be transferred from place to place instead of having their licences suspended or cancelled ? I ask the Attorney-General to give careful consideration to this matter, otherwise victimization can occur.
– I appreciate the fact that the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has put a view submitted to him by a certain branch of the Waterside Workers Federation. The suggested amendment will be examined by the Government.
.- I object to the provisions of sub-clause 2. Apparently the commission is to be empowered to reduce the number of individuals who may be employed in a port to any number which it thinks fit. There is no safeguard in the clause against the abuse of this power, and I object strongly to its inclusion.
– I have already stated in answer to the same objection, expressed from a slightly different point of view, by the honorable member for Hun ter (Mr. James) that I shall have consideration given to the matter. The clause gives power only to determine a number.
.- I support the protest that has been made against this provision. It is arbitrary, and autocratic, dealing as it does with the livelihood of workers. There is no power to ensure that men who may be thrown arbitrarily out of employment shall be provided for. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has suggested a system which apparently obtains in union circles. No commission should have the right to act in this way. It is an interference with the liberty of the subject that no British Parliament should tolerate.
Question put -
That the clause be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 26 (Cancellation or suspension of registration of employer).
– The Attorney - General (Dr. Evatt) took exception to my amendment in relation to Communists. He said that it was not fair to ask a person who was reputed to be such and such to show that he was not ; but under this clause and the next one, an employer may be called upon, in certain circumstances, to show cause, in a manner and within a period specified by the commission, why his registration should not be cancelled or suspended. I ask the right honorable gentleman why such a provision is all right in respect of an employer but is not desirable in the case of a Communist.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 27- (1.) Where the Commission has reason to believe that a waterside worker -
.- I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.) the words “Where the Commission has reason to believe” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “Upon a written complaint being made to the Commission “.
– The intention of the amendment is that proceedings should be initiated upon the receipt of a written complaint. The Government is agreeable to this principle and intends to apply it also to clause 26.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mrs. Blackburn) “proposed -
That, after sub-clause (1.), the following new sub-clause be inserted: - “ (1a.) The onus of proving any allegation contained in a complaint made to the Commis sion under the last preceding sub-section shall lie on the person by whom the complaint was made.”.
– I accept the amendment, and I shall arrange to have a similar amendment made to clause 26.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 28 to 33 agreed to.
Clause 34 (Offences).
.- I should like to learn from the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) the reason for the extraordinary departure in sub-clause 4 of this clause from the ordinary rule of law that the court that hears a charge shall determine the penalty. The clause reads - (1.) Where it is reported to the Commission that a person has committed an offence against this Act, or an offence arising under Part V. of the National Security (Shipping Co-ordination) Regulations or under an order thereunder, the Commission may inquire into the matter so reported and -
What kind of opportunity is not stated - of stating their respective cases, in a manner specified by the Commission. (3.) For the purposes of this section, the Commission shall have authority to receive evidence and examine witnesses and to administer an oath to any witness appearing before the Commission. (4.) In any prosecution for an offence in respect of any matter inquired into by the Commission in pursuance of this section-
It is certainly a novel provision that two tribunals should hear and determine the same matter. I remind the committee that “ commission “ does not mean the Stevedoring Industry Commission itself, as we might be led to understand on a reading of the clause, because, under clause 9, the commission may delegate to an officer any of its powers or functions. The provision in clause 34 is designed to bring pressure to bear - I have no other phrase to express it - on the court. The committee should most strongly object to the clause.
– I agree with some of the criticism of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) . The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) said that sub-clause 4 was unnecessary. I shall have the matter re-examined. I see the force of the arguments against sub-clause 4. It takes its present form because it is a part of the code in the regulations governing the present commission.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 35 - ( 1 . ) In respect of any port, the Minister may, on the recommendation of the Commission, appoint, by notice published in the Gazette, a Committee which shall be known as a Waterside Employment Committee. (9.) The Chairman of the Committee shall convene a meeting of the Committee -
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (9.), after the word Committee “, first occurring, the following words be inserted: - “may convene a meeting of the Committee at any time and “.
The purpose of the amendment is to make it clear that the chairman of the waterside employment committee may, at his discretion, call a meeting of the committee.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 36 and 37 agreed to.
Clause 38- (1.) A person aggrieved by a decision by a Waterside Employment Committee, or by a body of persons, or by a person, exercising the powers and functions of the Commission by virtue of the last preceding section, may appeal to the Commission against the decision and, upon consideration of any such appeal, the Commission may confirm, vary or set aside the decision appealed against. (4.) When considering an appeal under this section, the Commission shall not be bound to receive evidence, but shall give the parties interested an opportunity of stating their respective cases in a manner specified by the Commission.
Amendment (by Mrs. Blackburn) proposed -
That, in sub-clause ( 4. ) , the words “ shall not be bound to receive evidence, but “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ shall receive such evidence as, in its opinion, is necessary for the determination of the appeal, and “.
– The amendment makes it clear that the commission shall not simply hear a matter without evidence, but it is left to judge whether it shall hear evidence, and I accept the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 39 (Information to be furnished).
.- I am a little worried about this clause and the extent to which it goes. The first sub-clause states - (1.) The Commission may require any person -
Commission, or before such other person as the Commission directs, with respect to any matter to which this Act applies, and may require that person to produce all books, documents and other papers whatever in his custody or control relating to any such matter.
I do not expect the Attorney-General (Dr Evatt) to answer straight away, but will he consider the wisdom of providing for a right of appeal to be given to a person who is called upon to produce a document or give information that he reasonably believes has no application to the purposes of this legislation? Again I direct attention to clause 9 under which the commission has extensive powers of delegation. A delegate of the commission might have extraordinarily inquisitorial powers give to him.
– I shall look into the matter.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 40 to 50 agreed to.
New clause 2a.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) agreed to -
That, after clause (2.), the following new clause be inserted: - “ 2a. This Act shall bind the Crown in right of the Commonwealth or a State, including an authority of the Commonwealth or a State.”.
New clause 13a -
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) agreed to -
That, after clause 13, the following new clause be inserted: - “ 13a. Nothing in this Act shall authorize the Commission to determine to regulate the salaries, wages, rates of pay or other terms or conditions of service or employment of persons who are not waterside workers.”.
New clause 20a -
– I move -
That, after clause 20, the following new clause be inserted: - “20a. - (1.) The jurisdiction of the Court under any of the last three preceding sections shall be exercised by not less than three Judges, unless the Chairman of the Commission or the deputy of the Chairman of the Commission is a Judge of the Court, in which ease that jurisdiction shall be exercised by the Judge of the Court who is the Chairman of the Commission or the deputy of the Chairman nf the Commission. “ (2.) Where the jurisdiction of the Court under any of the last three preceding sections is exercised by a Judge of the Court, that Judge may, if he thinks fit, refer any question of law arising in proceedings before him for the opinion of the Court constituted by not less than three Judges. “ (3.) The Court so constituted shall hear and determine any question referred to it under the last preceding sub-section.”.
This new clause will precisely define the position when a judge is chairman of the commission. It will give to him the jurisdiction that otherwise might be exercised by the Arbitration Court.
New clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I was not afforded an opportunity to speak this morning on the formal motion for the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing the dairying industry, the debate on which was promptly gagged.
– Order ! The honorable member must not reflect on a vote of the House, and he is not permitted to discuss a subject which was dealt with in an earlier debate to-day.
– Am I permitted to refer to the dairying industry?
– The honorable member may do so, but the Standing Orders lay down that he must not referspecifically to matters debated earlier to-day.
– I want to express keen disappointment at the attitude of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) in his reply-
– Order! Mr. Speaker has made abundantly clear that the honorable member must not deal with a matter which was discussed in an earlier debate to-day. He must wait until the next sitting of the. House if he wishes to do so.
– The fact that chaos existed in the dairying industry some unspecified number of years ago is not a reason why chaos should exist in it to-day. I shall state a few accurate figures regarding the prices of dairy products over a number of years.
– Order! The prices of dairy products and the dairying industry subsidy were discussed earlier to-day. The honorable member will be permitted to take advantage of the motion for the adjournment of the House on another occasion for the purpose of discussing this subject.
– Then I shall wait, until another occasion.
– I rise to order. I ask you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, to give ruling as to whether the mere fact that. a certain matter has been discussed in the course of a debate in the House during any day completely precludes any reference to that subject by honorable members on the motion for the adjournment of the House at the end of the same- day’s sitting. Such a wide range of subjects might be discussed in one day, that the enforcement of your decision could abrogate the usefulness of the opportunity which honorable members have enjoyed hitherto to raise matters on the motion for the adjournment of the House.
– The speech which the honorable member for Gippsland desired to make would have been a continuation of an earlier debate this day. I rule that he cannot speak on that subject now.
.- I refer to the meat industry dispute in Melbourne’, regarding which I addressed’ a question to the Minister for Commerce and’ Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) to-day. I hope that the fact that I have asked a question on this subject to-day does not preclude me from referring to it now. I criticize the Government and make an emphatic protest against the growing practice of maintaining secrecy in this chamber about its current negotiations and administrative acts. A recent instance is the New Zealand wheat agreement. The Government maintained inexcusable secrecy over a long period, although it was negotiating with New Zealand on this matter of considerable interest to the general public and of special interest to honorable members.
During the last fortnight, the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Cain, has presided over a scries of conferences between the parties in an endeavour to resolve the impasse in the sale of live-stock for slaughter in the City of Melbourne. What is precisely the status of Mr. Cain in these negotiations is not clear to me, although I can understand that a gentleman occupying his high position would regard it as his proper responsibility to make whatever contribution lay in his power to resolve the difficulty. This dispute arose as the result of bad administration on the part of the Commonwealth Government, and in the circumstances, it should be conducting the negotiations for a settlement.
Unfortunately,, we have no evidence whatever of any attempt by the Government during the last fortnight to solve this difficulty, and the responsibility has apparently been accepted by a gentleman who is not directly concerned’ and who has no actual authority- to resolve it. I have endeavoured to extract from the Minister for Commerce a-nd Agriculture an explanation of the attitude of the Commonwealth in this matter, but I have experienced the same lack of success as that which met my endeavours to extract from the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Scully) information about the New Zealand wheat agreement. Some honorable members might not be aware that, i<n terms of values, the meat industry is the greatest primary industry in Australia. Now, the biggest stockyard in the southern hemisphere is idle because the Commonwealth Government has perpetuated an anomalous situation. Once this situation had been created, it could end only in chaos. The Government fixed the price of carcass meat, and made every person . who re-sells it subject to severe penalties for any infringement of the price-fixing regulations. The Government, with a full knowledge of the circumstances, based the regulations on sales of live-stock, which are not subject to price control.
– The honorable member knows that the price of live-stock on the hoof could not be controlled.
– I agree with the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Langtry) that any attempt to control the price of live-stock on the hoof would be completely impracticable, and the Government itself recognized that fact. The live-stock section of the industry is full of complications. For example, there is overlapping competition among those who desire to buy stock for grazing, fattening or killing. Although the Government knew perfect^ well that it was impossible to control effectively the price of live-stock, it rushed headlong into this crazy position. Having retained a system of economic controls, including wage.pegging, the Government has a responsibility to the public. I subscribe, in theory, to this general policy of antiinflation which has been in operation for several years. In the interests of consumers, price control is necessary; but the elements of difficulty which are inherent in it make it essential that the Government should constantly inform itself of anomalies that arise, and adjust the price-fixing regulations to rectify them. In other industries, this has been doneby various devices, such as seasonal adjustments of prices, subsidies, and various subventions. With meat, however, theGovernment has allowed the position to drift. Every one knows that black marketing has beenrampant in the meat industry. For years, at livestock sales ina large city, the scale of prices paidby the biddershas made it inevitable that a person shall either sell at the fixed price in accordance with the ‘law, and in that event he would quickly become bankrupt, or evade the law by various devices. The ‘Government knows that black marketing occurs in the sale of motor vehicles, and a variety of goods, but has not acted to prevent it. Yet when, as the result of bad administration and indifference, a crisis eventually develops and one of our principal cities is without meat for several weeks, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture will not offer one word of explanation of his policy. Yesterday and to-day, I directed questions to him on this subject, butall I obtained from him in reply was some mumbo-jumbo which no one could understand, that “ he was doing something which would result in livestock being sold at ceiling prices for the protection of the consumers, whilst the producers would be guaranteed ceiling prices for their stock “. Such a plan is admirable in theory and may conceivably be put into practice. If the scheme is capable of explanation, the honorable gentleman should explain it in this House. Why should we have to wait until a State Premier takes action to resolve a crisis of these dimensions? Why should we have to rely on the newspapers for information regarding the scale of prices which may be guaranteed to the producers? Why must we depend upon information from outside sources when the Minister who will make the decision is in the House? The Government is reducing this Parliament to a sham.It will “not take the House into its con fidence when problems of this magnitude develop, and permit discussions to which contributions of considerable value would be made by the Opposition. Unfortunately, the Government goes along in its own sweet way, and does not permit the Opposition to make a contribution to the solution of these problems. Even when important decisions have been made, we are not supposed to learn what the Government has done. We can obtain the information by reading Hansard of another dominion Parliament, or by buying a newspaper published in Melbourne, but that is notgood enough. The Government must bemade to understand thatthat willnot be tolerated in this Parliament or by the people of Australia. Knowing that this is an extraordinarily difficultproblem, I am willing to give to theGovernment thebenefit of my experience in the raising of stock and in public administration. It may be that that offer will be adjudged worthless,but I make it for what it is worth. I ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley)notto continue the practice of disallowing debates on matters of great public importance, and to give to the House information regarding administrative decisions of the Government so that honorable members will not be forced to obtain the information from other sources.
Mr.HUTCHINSON (Deakin) [4.37]. - Isupport the remarks of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen). On a a number of occasions, during a long period, I have asked questions on this subject, but the only reply that I have received has beenthat the matter will be considered and a reply furnished to me later. I have not yet received any further information. That has been the experience of the honorable member for Indi, also. This is a subject of great concern to all members from Victoria, because the City of Melbourne has been short of meat for some time as the result of inaction on the part of the Commonwealth Government. According to reports in Melbourne newspapers, a different system of slaughtering stock is likely to be adopted. That may mean that the Newmarket saleyards will practically be closed. Those persons in the industry who have objected to the bidding system at Newmarket have done so because of losses that have incurred under it. It may he that they have acted against a State law, but the ceiling price fixed in respect of meat has led to their action. If reports in to-day’s press that the Newmarket saleyards may be closed be correct, thousands of people living in the vicinity of the saleyards will he thrown -out of employment, and business generally in the locality will suffer. The action said to be contemplated by the Commonwealth Government will cause big losses to raisers of stock in Victoria, and there will be repercussions in the other States. Several States are still suffering from the effects of drought during recent years, with the result that instead of there being approximately 125,000,000 sheep in Australia, the numbers have fallen to fewer than 100,000,000. It is difficult to estimate with any degree of accuracy how many sheep have been lost because of droughts, but the number is certainly between 20,000,000 and 30,000,000. Today there is a shortage of sheep in the -Commonwealth, and with the breaking of the drought in north-western New South Wales, and in parts of Queensland, graziers wish to replenish their flocks. The Government has failed to take these factors into consideration. It is endeavouring to maintain in Melbourne a ceiling price for meat which has no relation to reality. No government can overcome the law of supply and demand in relation to meat except by fixing the prices of all stock on the hoof as well as the price of meat, but the Government has admitted that that is impossible. I have examined meat prices as reported in to-day’s Melbourne Age, and I find that a hogett weighing 54 lb. may bring 35s., after allowing for its skin value. I do not believe that it is possible to buy -a sheep with medium or fine wool for less than 3Ss., or perhaps 40s. A lamb weighing 36 lb. would bring 33s., but store lambs have been selling at that price, or more, for several weeks. A person who buys Iambs at that price and fattens them for sale must lose money if he sells them at the fixed prices. The result is that he probably does not sell the lambs, and Melbourne is left without lamb. A four-tooth or six-tooth wether is valued at about 30s. under the existing regulations. I ask the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Langtry) whether any grazier in his district would buy four-tooth wethers at that price. Of course it is ridiculous. The grazier will buy these sheep because he needs them. Millions of sheep are still needed on properties all the way from Victoria to Queensland. The fixing of these prices will mean that the sheep will not get on .to the fat market because they will be bought by graziers. The same wether will cut between £1 and 25s. worth of wool at shearing time, and yet it is expected to be sold during the winter for 30s. or 35s. The facts are that the number of stock is greatly reduced, that rain has fallen on many areas which have been dry for a long time and that those areas must now be stocked. The price of wool is high. Record prices have been obtained in Melbourne for cross-bred and fine come-back wool. The law of supply and demand must play the largest part in fixing the price of meat unless it is possible to control ceiling prices on the hoof all over Australia. We must remember that stock is scarce. If it were plentiful, the export price would control the local selling price, but the position is that fat stock surpluses have, in most cases, been already sold. The mutton has been placed on ships, and sent overseas. I do not think that there is any great reserve of mutton, lamb or beef in the cold stores in Melbourne. Therefore, if Melbourne is to be fed at all, fresh supplies must come forward, and I doubt if there is very much to come. For the most part, such stock as Victorian farmers have they want to keep, and, of course, the demand from the north is immense. I doubt very much whether the method that the Government contemplates will prove successful. All this difficulty has arisen because of the Government’s action, or lack of action. Loss to the butchers, the loss of thousands of sheep from Newmarket, loss to commissioned agents, who play an important part in this trade, and the threatened loss to producers, are all due to the action or lack of action of the Government. Still we are not able to obtain any authoritative statement. I maintain that we should be able to obtain information from the Government before we read it in the Melbourne press.
[4.49 J. - I was not in tlie chamber when the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) spoke; but I understand that he and the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) are seeking information regarding the intention of the Government in connexion with the unfortunate dispute over meat in Victoria. In my opinion, there has been a concerted move by certain interests in the meat trade during the last few weeks to force the Prices Commissioner to increase the already substantial prices ruling for meat, both for the home-market and for the export market. The Commonwealth Government will not be coerced into increasing ceiling prices. It believes that those prices are already adequate to give producers an economic return. It is recognized that over a long period there have been great difficulties in dealing with meat prices; but those difficulties did not arise until very strong action was taken to put down black marketing. When certain sections found that they could no longer carry on a black-market trade with impunity, they used their ingenuity and their power in an endeavour to have rationing and price- fixing abolished. It is recognized that when wholesale and retail buying butchers come to an arrangement to appraise stock in the yard and determine the price at which it is to be sold without going to auction, it is very difficult for producers, because they have reason to believe that the price fixed may not even be as high as the ceiling price. I do not believe that the producers think that the ceiling price is inadequate, but I can well understand their fear that the buyers may fix a price below the ceiling price. A conference presided over by the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Cain, and attended by representatives of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture is being held in Melbourne. If this conference cannot find a way out of the impasse, steps will be taken immediately to establish weight and grade killing facilities which will ensure the payment of ceiling rates to producers. There are at present two ruling rates payable, a local rate and an export rate which is somewhat less than the local selling price. Sufficient stock is not coming forward for export purposes. If the producers send in their stock there should be, within a fortnight, sufficient available to supply the local markets and to leave some for export. I hope so, because there will then be more meat for Britain. We must make sure that those producers who send stock for export shall not be at a loss. If 10 per cent, of the stock offering is available for export, we must ensure that producers shall receive the export price for 10 per cent, of their offering and the local price for the remaining 90 per cent.
We intend to push on with our plan immediately and provide facilities for the producers and the consumers. The producers will be debited with certain fixed costs for killing and treatment. As for hides and skins, the producer can accept the valuation placed on them by the meat works, or he can have them placed on the lorry at the door and taken to any dealer he nominates, to be sold by auction or any other method. The producer will also enjoy the advantage that no commission rates will be charged, and I remind honorable members that the commission on the sale of a bullock worth £20 is about £1. I am the last who would wish to destroy the highly efficient commission agent system which has worked well in connexion with the meat industry over a long period of years. No longer can the industry afford to be held to ransom by certain people who, not only throughout this season but also last season, have endeavoured to use their powers and knowledge of this trade to extort from the Government subsidies on meat, or, alternatively, to coerce the Government into increasing the present ceiling prices for beef, lamb or mutton which are already adequate so far as the producers are concerned. Prom the inception I have refrained from making public statements which might render a settlement more difficult. At this juncture, I have simply indicated what is likely to happen in the event of failure to reach a settlement.
– What is the position with respect to store stock?
– No difficulty arises in that respect, because the man who wants to sell stores, or fats, at his own valuation will have no hesitation in putting them on the market, because, at present, store stock prices are very good ; and no producer is prevented from doing that
– At present the fattener can sell stock over the scales to any exporting company in Melbourne, but he will not do so because he likes to have the option. If the new scheme is introduced, and the fattener resents the change, and, consequently will not put his stock on the market, what will happen then?
– I do not believe that he will resent the change. The honorable member for “Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) has said that facilities already exist for sales according to weights and grades. Those facilities have been available for a number of years, but for various reasons they have not been largely availed of. The main reason has been that during the export season, meat works operators invariably, have, as their own property, very large numbers of export lambs to which naturally they will give prior treatment. Consequently, the individual stock-owner is afraid that if he sends his stock to those works, it will be the last to receive treatment. In the meantime, it will waste, and, ultimately, he may not receive remunerative prices. Such circumstances do not exist now, because lambs are not flowing to the works in large numbers. Immediately the lambs arrive at the works they will be treated, and payment will be forwarded to the producer. The honorable member has asked what the position would be should the producer see fit not to send his stock to market. But supposing that no attempt is made to provide these facilities; what would happen then? The producer would either leave his stock in the paddock to waste, or reach store condition. But I am of opinion that the producer believes that the present ceiling prices are adequate, and that he realizes also that should prices reach a very high peak he would in due course be penalized when he was obliged to buy store stock for re-stocking. To-day, those who are seeking higher prices are not the producers, but others who want to benefit only themselves. The producer is not the cause of the trouble. 1 have been shown a telegram sent out. by Melbourne auctioneers to a producer informing him that’ they would not order trucks for him. On receiving that telegram the producer became indignant, because he had ordered the trucks and the auctioneers had no right whatever to cancel the order unless he had instructed them to do so. In addition, auctioneers and their agents have been wiring their friends not to sell their stock because if the Government yielded ground in the present dispute higher prices would be obtainable.
.-All honorable members, I believe, will admit that the problem dealt with by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) is very difficult indeed. Some people contend that the Government is largely to blame because of its interference. I do not share that view. I believe that, basically, the trouble results from the serious drought which we have experienced not only during the last few months but also during the last two or three years. Large supplies of beef for the southern market are drawn from Queensland ; and we know that the beefgrowing districts in that State are now experiencing the worst season in their history. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) has admitted that the problem is most difficult; but he said that he was not satisfied with the reply given by the Minister to a question which he asked on that subject this morning. The Minister has told us that the Government is doing its best to find a solution, and that negotiations are now proceeding with the Premier of Victoria. The numbers of sheep in New South Wales have decreased by millions as the result of drought conditions. If seasonal conditions were normal much more stock would be sent to market. However, we know that the price of wool at present is much higher than it has been for years, and that producers who have any feed at all are holding back as much stock as possible. In some parts of New South Wales the growth of feed is phenomenal. Wheat-growers have been asked to grow as much wheat as possible ; and farmers are responding to that call, not only in the national interest, but also in their own interests in order to meet their individual requirements. Those who are familiar with this problem know that a farmer is often compelled to run sheep in order to combat weeds, and thus keep his crop in: good order. For that reason, farmers hold on. to sheep even when they know that by so doing they may lose from 2s. to 3s. a head. As I have said, the pro’blem is very difficult. The Minister has given an excellent outline of the Government’s intentions. We must always try to put ourselves in the other fellow’s, place in order to fully appreciate his problem. All. honorable members agree that it is impossible to fix a price for stock on the hoof, because we. know that the estimates, of even good judges will vary from 5 lb. to 10 lb. in respect of the weight, of Iambs and fat wethers, and by as much as a cwt. in respect of a bullock. It is impossible to value stock on’ the hoof. With respect to the ceiling price, I recall that, following droughts in the past, the price of wethers rose from 30s. to £3. What- would happen to-day if prices were not controlled? We must have some form of price control. I do not always agree with the decisions of the Prices Commissioner. For instance, I do not agree that prices should, have been altered, within the last few months. I sincerely hope that the present negotiations will be terminated to the satisfaction of all parties.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre. sen ted : -
Air Force Act’ - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 22.
Commonwealth Public Service Act- Appointment - Department of Civil Aviation: - J. H. Harper.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 25.
Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1047, No. 30.
Re-establishment and Employment Act - Rergulations - Statutory Rules 1946. No. 181.
House adjourned at 5.4 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Income Tax: Agreement with the United Kingdom ; Uniform Taxation ; Exemption for Primary Producers. Mr. Fadden asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
When is it intended to introduce legislation to- implement the agreement with the United Kingdom on double taxation?
asked the Treasurer; upon notice : -
asked the Treasurer,- upon notice -
In view of the uncertainty that exists among the- small cattlemen of the Northern Territory with regard to the continuation or otherwise of the exemption from taxation for those engaged .in- primary production in the Northern Territory, will he- announce- at an early date if it is intended to continue this exemption from taxation after June, 1947?
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
What were the quantities exported during 1946 and the value of such exports of (o) pork-, (6) bacon, and (c) eggs?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
d. - On the 7th March, the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) asked a question concerning supplies of sugar for jam-making. The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information: -
The question of a special ration of sugar for fruit preserving in the home has been continually under review. Some months ago it was hoped that it would be possible to make an issue of 0 lb. per person during the present fruit season. Unfortunately, however, a decline in the Australian sugar crop, transport difficulties and interruption of refinery operations have reduced refined sugar supplies at a time when maximum demand is being made by food processors.
In the distribution of sugar supplies it has always been the practice to afford all possible assistance to processors handling perishable goods and at this time of the year fruit processors (including jam manufacturers) are receiving first consideration in the allocation of available supplies of refined sugar.
In regard to the distribution of refined sugar, there are no quantities of sugar refined each year for the particular purposes of the export trade, the retail trade or for industrial users. Under normal circumstances sufficient quantities of sugar are refined each year to meet requirements. In the seven months ended the 31st January, 5,333 tons of refined sugar were exported, 140,000 tons sold for retail trade and 121,500 tons delivered to manufacturers. Delivery of sugar to particular industries is only tabulated on a yearly basis, and no details are yet available for the 1946-47 year. However, the delivery of sugar to processors during 1946-47 is expected to be on the same proportionate basis as for 1945- 46, when quantities delivered were as follows : -
This year, however, some of the industries in the above categories are being required to use raw sugar in lieu of refined in cases where the ultimate product is not affected.
s asked the Treasurer,. upon notice -
– I have obtained a report from the Commissioner of Taxation in answer to the honorable member’s questions as follows: -
s. - On the 13th March the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) asked a question concerning the supply of paludrine for malaria sufferers in hospital, and, in particular, whetherarrangements could be made for paludrineto be supplied for treatment of an ex-member of the forces named Toms. The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Paludrine is available for all service and exservicemen suffering from malaria. The Army provides this treatment when it is prescribed by an officer of the Australian Army Medical -Services for all serving members of the Australian Military Forces. Ex-members of the Australian Military Forces are not dealt with by the Australian Army Medical Service, but by the ‘Repatriation Department through the Repatriation Medical Services. No particulars are available in the Australian Army -records regarding the treatment required by Mr. Toms or whether paludrine should be supplied for such treatment. I have referred the honorable member’s inquiry to the Minister for Repatriation, who will furnish advice to the honorable member as soon as possible.
r asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. The Boykin Act inter alia extends -temporarily the time for filing applications for patents by citizens .and bona fide residents nf countries which have extended, or which will -extend, prior to the expiration ‘ of twelve months after the commencement of the act, i.e., before the 8th August, 1947, substantially reciprocal privileges, to citizens of the United “States.
t asked the Attorney-General, -upon notice -
Has the Government given any undertaking to defray the whole or part of the legal costs incurred by the Australasian Council of Trades Unions and/or other unions in the 40-hour week case now before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court?
– The answers to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The facts are set out in the answer given by the Acting Attorney-Genera! on the 6th August last to a question asked in the House.
d. - On the 12th March, the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams) asked a question concerning war neurotics. I am now able to supply the following information : -
In connexion with your request for certain figures relating to neurosis, the Department’s statistics regarding the 1914 war cases are not complete. No figures have been kept of the particular disabilities that have been rejected, and a member would be included under the neurosis group, only when his main disability is neurosis. The 1914 war figures as at 30.~6.1946 were - lt is not possible to supply figures relating to the number of cases of neurosis that have been treated by the department, or the number at present under treatment. When a disability is accepted as attributable to war service, the out-patient clinic or the repatriation local medical officer is notified and the member attends when he is required, or desires, treatment.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 March 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1947/19470314_reps_18_190/>.