18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear; took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I lay on the table the following paper : -
Audit Act - Finance - Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for year 1945-40, accompanied by the Report of tie Auditor-General.
Ordered to be printed.
– As Chairman, I present the first report of the Printing Committee.
Report read by the Clerk, and - by leave - adopted.
– I have received telegrams indicating that there is a grave shortage of salt on the north coast of New South Wales, and that this is holding up the manufacture of ‘butter, and the curing of hides. I understand that the shortage is due to transport difficulties, and I therefore ask the Minister for Transport to do what he can to get the salt to places where it is needed. If he cannot assure the provision of transport for this purpose will he have an examination made of stocks of salt in the various towns with a view to its redistribution so as to avert the threatened -crisis?
– This seems to be a matter for the State authorities. In view -of the seriousness of the situation, I shall take it up with them immediately and see what can be done.
– What is the annual production of rice in Australia at present? How much was sent to dependent Pacific countries last year ? Does the Government propose to continue supplying Pacific dependencies? Will the removal of restrictions on Australian con sumption cause a reduction of exports to any country in greater need? Will the Minister consult with the British Government before the new rice crop is available in order to find out whether Britain can take Australian rice?
– Last year Australia produced approximately 33,000 tons of rice, and it is estimated that there will be a similar production this year. Of last year’s crop 13,000 tons was sent to the islands of the Pacific. This year their requirements are estimated at 18,000 tons. I fear that the proposal to lift the restrictions on the consumption of rice by Australians will result in some diminution of the supplies available to other countries. I am not altogether happy about the decision that has been made, and I shall communicate with the Government of the United Kingdom, with a view to having the decision reconsidered in the light of the strong representations on the subject by the honorable member.
– Is there any truth in the statement that the growers of rice in New South Wales ‘have been instructed to reduce production and, if so, what is the reason ?
– I know of no such instruction having ‘been issued to the producers of rice in New South Wales.
– In view of the defiant attitude of members of the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers Federation, who have refused to return to work until the order relating to overtime has been withdrawn, does the Prime Minister consider that further negotiations for a settlement of the dispute will achieve any good purpose ? Alternatively, will the Government support the firm’ stand taken by the chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, Mr. Morrison, and direct the watersiders to return ‘ to work before any further steps are taken to effect a settlement?
– I understand that further consultations are taking place this morning and I hope that the outcome will be an early resumption of work on the waterfront. Therefore the answer to the honorable member’s question is that 1 do believe that further consultations are likely to achieve more success than any other attack on the problem .
As to the second part of the honorable member’s question the Minister for Supply and Shipping has been in close touch with all parties to the dispute, and I also have spoken to the chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, and to representatives of the organizations concerned, including members of the executive of the Sydney branch of the Waterside “Workers Federation. Suggestions have been placed before the chairman of the commission, but no attempt to overrule his decision has been made. The decision rests entirely with him.
– I lay on the table the following paper : -
Demobilization of the Australian Defence Forces, 1945-47 - Report by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (the Honorable J. J. Dedman ) .
I take this action because, in my opinion, there should be in the papers of the Parliament a permanent record showing how this colossal task was successfully accomplished.
Landing Permit for Alien - Polish ex-ser vice men.
– Can the Minister for Immigration say whether it is a fact that a German named Lerch was a passenger on Johan de Witt which recently arrived at an Australian port? Can he say whether Lerch was an officer in the German navy for five years, and later an S.S. guard at a concentration camp in Austria. Did he have a permit to enter Australia, and, if so, why was it issued to him, and will immediate steps be taken to have it cancelled ?
– The case of the German named Lerch is one of the most extraordinary that has come to the notice of the Department of Immigration. An elderly Jewish woman, living in Melbourne, applied for a landing permit for hands of the Nazis. The case seemed to be a perfectly good one and a landing permit was issued. After this young her daughter who had suffered at the woman received a permit she wrote to her mother and said she had been married and would like a permit for her husband. The mother made an application for a landing permit for her son-in-law, but the fact that he had served in the German navy was not disclosed. A permit was issued for his entry also. Following information received by my department, my officers boardedJohan de Witt on its arrival at Cairns and immediately questioned the man. They then discovered that there had been misrepresentation and the permit was immediately cancelled and a report made to me. On the facts of the case I declared the man a prohibited immigrant. He was compelled to submit to a dictation test in Rumanian and failed to pass it and will now be deported. He has not been allowed to land in Sydney and will not be allowed to land in Melbourne. He will be sent back to the country from which he came without being allowed to set foot on these shores. This is a case decidedly out of the ordinary. It is not so remarkable that one person should have attempted to break through our guard. What is of significance and importance to this country is the fact that we have a very effective and efficient service which is able to uncover these attempts and to take action before undesirables are able to land in Australia.
– Why was he given a permit in the first place?
– I went to some pains to explain the circumstances of this case, and I thought I had made it apparent even to the dullest intellect. The Jewish mother applied for a permit for her Jewish daughter and it was granted. The daughter then wrote to the mother and said that she had been married, and a fresh permit was issued to her husband. Ordinarily when a man and his wife desire to come to this country permits are issued on the one application. In this case two separate applications were made on different dates.. On the strength of the mother-in-law’s representations on behalf of her Germanic son-in-law, who also was apparently of
Jewish blood, a second permit was issued. We can always prevent people from landing in this country. The issue of a permit does not give to its holder an absolute right to enter. We can render a permit ineffective at various stages; we can refuse to issue a visa through the British or Australian consulates on the Continent or in Great Britain itself. Even if we fail at that stage, we can still prevent undesirable people from landing here. We have ample powers and, as I have indicated, we used them in this case very effectively.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Immigration regarding the former German Black Guard officer who recently arrived in Australia on the Dutch ship Johan de Witt, and I base it on the following statement: made by the Minister on the 2.2.nd November, 1946 :-
Aliens are and will continue to be admitted only in such numbers and of such, classes that they can be readily assimilated. Every precaution is taken to ensure that they are desirable types, and they must satisfy consular or passport officers and security service officers that they are people of good character before” their passports arc vised for travel to Australia. 1 want to know what consular or passport officer and what security service officers issued a visa for this man to travel to Australia. Is the Minister satisfied that: the precautions are adequate? What steps does he propose to take to prevent a repetition of such an occurrence ?
– The German who attempted to land in Australia was not named Johan de Witt. That is the name of the vessel on which he arrived. Every precaution is taken, but human beings are fallible, and some of them act stupidly. In this instance somebody acted very stupidly in permitting this man to board, the vessel. F again emphasize that the significant fact is not that one undesirable person was able to break through the cordon, but that we have a very efficient organization which discovers such persons before they arrive in Australia. In the light of this happening, I shall, investigate the organization to ascertain wb.eth.ei. anything further can be done, to prevent “ one swallow trying to make, a summer “.
– In- view of the fact that the Tasmanian Government has. received a request from the AustralianPolish Society in London to permit the settlement in Tasmania of members of General Anders’ Polish Army which fought in Norway, Italy, the Middle East and France^ of whom 6S per cent, are agriculturalists, will the Minister for Immigration state the Government’s policy with regard to their eligibility as immigrants?
– I have not complete knowledge of the activities of the AustralianPolish Society in London and I do not know what representations it has made to the Australian Government. The Government’s policy with regard to the settlement of Poles in Australia is that Polish nationals who are married to British women receive the same consideration as other intending migrants. That’ is done to prevent the formation of Polish colonies in this country. We believe that a foreigner married to a British woman is probably half way towards, assimilation into’ the Australian community by virtue of his marriage. Representations have been made to me. about Poles who fought with the Australians at Tobruk. I have discussed the matter with members of the Rats- of Tobruk Association, .and they are forwarding application forms to the Poles concerned in Great Britain. When the applications are returned to officers of the Association, I shall have a further discussion with them in order to discover in what way we can assist the association to recognize the comradeship in arms between them and the Poles at Tobruk.
– Can the Minister for Immigration, say what has been, done in regard to the wife of the German officer who arrived on Johan de Witt and who has been ordered to return to Germany ?
– Any action taken in regard to the wife of this ex-German officer will be determined upon advice received from the Security Service as to her eligibility to be admitted into Australia. If a woman is married to a man who is subsequently declared a prohibited! immigrant there is no reason why she. should not be permitted to land in Australia. This is an age in which the equality of the sexes is recognized in theory, if not in practice. I shall try to give recognition to this principle, and not penalize a woman because she happens to be married to some one who is personally objectionable.
– Did all States appropriate their share of the £250,000 tuberculosis grant made last year by the Commonwealth? If not, which States did not appropriate their share? Is it proposed to increase the grant, and, if so, to what amount will it be increased ?
– Five of the six” States have applied for, and been paid, a six-monthly portion of their appropriation. Queensland is the only State which has not yet applied for its portion of the grant. The following amounts have been paid to the other .States - Tasmania £6,174, South Australia £10,005, “Western Australia £10,215, Victoria £29,716 and New South Wales £51,389. A conference of Ministers for Health to be held in Canberra in April next will decide whether the existing allocations from this grant should be increased. I shall arrange for the honorable member to be supplied with a report of the decisions of that conference.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether a conference was held yesterday between the Minister for Supply and Shipping and petrol companies? Has a final decision now been arrived at in relation to the continuation of the petrol pool ? Can the right honorable gentleman indicate when the present pool will be terminated
– I am unable to give details of the decision reached at yesterday’s conference, because so far I have been able to discuss the matter for only a few minutes with the Minister for Supply and Shipping and the Secretary of the Treasury who attended the conference. I understand that the pool in its present form will not be continued but that some form of rationalization will be adopted to ensure a proper distribution of petrol supplies. Further discussions on this matter will take place to-day, and I shall convey to the honorable member details of the new proposal. The Minister for Supply and Snipping assures me that proper distribution will be arranged. At this juncture, I am not able to say when the present pool will be terminated.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in a position to announce when an advance in respect of the apple and pear crop for the 1947 season will be made?
– I am not yet able to announce what advance will be made for the current year, but I expect to do so within a fortnight.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health whether the Commonwealth Government yet exercises any control over country hospitals? Are all country hospitals entitled to financial assistance under the Hospitals Benefits Act? If so, are all inmates of both country and metropolitan hospitals entitled to the bed subsidy payable under that legislation?
– The answer to the first portion of the honorable members question is “No”. Although the Commonwealth now has power to control country hospitals, it has not yet exercised such control, which is still exercised by the State Government, local government authorities or local management committees. All inmates of country hospitals have an equal claim with inmates of metropolitan hospitals for bed subsidy payable under the Hospitals Benefits Act. Every hospital which has been approved for registration by the health authorities receives 6s. a day, or £2 2s. a week, in respect of each bed patient. New South Wales is the only .State where the private hospitals have not agreed to come within the scheme.
– And not all of them.
– That is so. That matter was the subject of a recent conference with the Minister for Health in New South Wales and the executive body controlling private hospitals in the State. The executive has agreed to recommend to affiliated institutions that they register under the scheme. The subsidy of 6s. a day or £2 2s. a week is paid to the government in respect of government hospitals. Public ward patients receive free treatment. The accounts of intermediate and private ward patients are reduced by 6s. a day or £2 2s. a week according to the time spent in hospital. Any balance after the subsidy has been paid goes into a fund ito be used for the improvement of hospitals.
– As capital expenditure.
– Yes. The subsidy is paid to the management of private hospitals, which are required to reduce the accounts of patients accordingly.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs -
– The European activities of Unrra will be terminated at the end of this month, I think, and in Asia at the end of June. It was never intended that Unrra should be a permanent relief organization but should be limited in its duration to a period to be fixed after the end of hostilities. Australia’s attitude to the cessation of the activities of Unrra has been largely conditioned by the fact that the two largest contributors to Unrra, the United States of America and the United Kingdom, were determined that the method of giving relief to Unrra should be terminated. Australia was the fourth largest contributor, and, in view of the attitude of the United States and the United Kingdom, we concurred. But that does not end the relief to be afforded, because at the last meeting of the Unrra Council and at the Assembly of the United Nations, resolutions were carried asking nations to continue relief to the best of their ability. Australia concurred, and the Government is considering the form in which assistance can be continued, although the instrumentality of Unrra itself cannot be used. One consequence of the completion of the work of Unrra is the recent proposal by the President of the United States of America to give relief direct to Greece and Turkey. The United States of America feels that it can give that form of relief. The proposal does not involve a bypassing of the United Nations, but is really a direct result of the cessation of the work done by Unrra.
statement by Me. N. j. 0. MAKIN.
– Has the Prime Minister read a press report that the Australian ambassador in the United States of America, Mr. Makin, has said that Australia enjoys prosperity unparalleled in its history; that Australia’s arbitration system has brought added respect for the law and has been accepted by most employers and employees; and that there are only occasional industrial disturbances in this country? Does the Prime Minister agree that such statements are fatuous and misleading, and if so, will he take steps to prevent their repetition?
– Verification of Mr. Makin’s statement that Australia enjoys a greater degree of prosperity than ever before, may be found in Commonwealth statistics which show that never before have so many people been employed in industry in this country. In regard to the ambassador’s second statement, T point out that the great body of unionists and workers generally in this country respect the law as do a great majority of employers. It is true, regrettably, that certain elements in the community are not prepared to respect our arbitration laws; but the fact remains that of the many millions of Australian workers, only a very small number do not acknowledge and respect the judgments and decisions of our arbitration authorities. On those grounds, the ambassador was justified in saying that generally, our arbitration system has the respect of both employers and employees.
– In view of the statement in relation to industrial conditions in Australia which Mr. Makin has made in the United States of America, will the Minister for External Affairs ensure that this ambassador of Australia will be brought up to date in the information that he possesses, by forwarding to him the answer of the Minister for Labour and National Service to a question asked by the honorable member for Warringah, in which he stated that 358,509 personshad been involved in strikes and lockouts, and that 1,865,980 man days had been lost in consequence thereof, during the six months which ended in February of this year? “Will the right honorable gentleman advise our ambassador in America that the right course, when presenting facts in regard to Australia, is to depart entirely from diplomatic language and be factual in his statements?
– I do not think the Government should interfere with the ambassador’s freedom of expression. With regard to the honorable member’s second suggestion, I will give it the consideration it deserves.
– In view of the urgent need for timber in this country, what action, if any, is being taken to exploit the timber resources of New Guinea and other territories under the control of the Minister for External Territories?
– This question has been receiving the attention of the Department of External Territories for some time, and a complete survey has been made of the timber resources of New Guinea. It is expected that at an early date a statement will be made indicating what plans the Government and the department have to obtain supplies of timber for use in Australian industry.
Position in South Australia.
– Can the Minister for
Labour and National Service say what is the employment position in South Australia, and how many individuals in that state are receiving unemployment benefits ?
– Our only guide to the unemployment situation is the number of applications for unemployment benefits. Despite all the industrial troubles, the figures for the last fortnight are lower than ever before. The number of applications for the whole of the Commonwealth was approximately 13,000. Applications in South Australia have decreased by more than 100 during the last fortnight, and now only 184 people are receiving unemployment benefits in that State. In Tasmania, 56 people are receiving them.
– These returns are submitted only by trade unions.
– No, by the Commonwealth Statistician. The only State which has not recovered so quickly as we should like is Queensland, and the position there is the result of the seasonal nature of some of its big industries. The unemployment situation in that State is rather bad at the moment compared with the position in other States.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture received urgent representations from the executive of the Primary Producers Union in New South Wales, setting out reasons for an immediate interim increase in the price of butter? If so, what is the nature of the Minister’s reply to those representations ?
– I have received from various primary producers’ organizations requests for an interim increase of the price of butter. Perhaps some replies may still be outstanding, but I have indicated that the Government does not propose-
– I have not yet received the Minister’s reply to my telegram regarding a shortage of sugar in my electorate.
– I dealt effectively with that contention when the honorable member for Indi first complained that he had not received my reply.
– “What is the nature of the Minister’s reply to the Primary Producers Union of New SouthWales?
– I ask the honorable member to place that question on the notice-paper.
– I have received a letter from the Devonport Trotting Club informing me that last November, when certain reductions of sales tax were made, the tax on bookmakers’ tickets was reduced to 10 per cent., but the tax on totalisator tickets and race programmes remained at 25 per cent. Will the Prime Minister explain to me the reason for that discrepancy? Will he consider making uniform the sales tax on these three items?
– Speaking “without my book”, I imagine that bookmakers’ tickets were included in the items in the schedule in respect of which the sales tax was reduced from 12½ to 10 per cent. I shall examine the honorable member’s question why sales tax on totalisator tickets and race programmes remained at 25 per cent. One possibility which suggests itself to me is that bookmakers are regarded as a necessity, and totalisators as a luxury. As the honorable member suggested, there appears to be some anomaly in this matter, and I shall examine it when sales tax is being reviewed in the near future.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture a plan for the stabilization of the dried fruits industry? If not, will be give consideration to this matter? Is he prepared to meet the representatives of the dried fruits growers for the purpose of discussing with them the stabilization of their industry?
– My understanding of the situation is that the dried fruits industry has been stabilized for many years under Commonwealth and State legislation. I regard it as a highly organized and stabilized industry. How ever, I shall be glad at any time to receive a deputation from any primary industry to discuss the matter of stabilization.
– Is it true that the Aus tralian National Airlines Commission has been given an allocation of £100,000 for inaugural publicity for Trans-Australia Airlines? What capital expenditure and what establishment expenditure have been arranged for the commission? Will the Minister for Air inform the House whether the operations of this Governmentcontrolled company up to date have been conducted profitably or at a loss?
– I have not heard of any large sum of money being allocated for the purpose of advertising Trans-Australia Airlines. If the honorable member will give notice of his remaining questions I shall obtain detailed replies for him.
Victorian Metal Trades Dispute
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service give an exposition to the House of the events, including the latest news in his possession, leading up to what threatens to be the greatest transport and industrial hold-up in the history of Victoria? Is there a failure on the part of any unions in thatState to pay due and proper regard to the arbitration law? If so, what action does the Minister intend to take?
– This matter was reviewed on the motion for the adjournment of the House last night, and I can only repeat what I said then. The honorable member’s questions suggest that certain unionists have broken away from official control in calling for the threatened stoppage. Their decision has to be endorsed on Monday by a mass meeting of rank and file members of the unions concerned. The stoppage has been called by men who are not officially handling the affairs of the two unions concerned in the metal trades dispute. This fact has been made clear in public statements by Mr. Clarey, who is chairman of the Industrial Disputes Committee of the Australasian Council of T-‘ade Unions. I cannot add anything to what I said last night until I visit Melbourne and obtain more official information. The Arbitration Court will want to know whether the decision to strike ‘is official or not, because it is bound to consider whether the unions affected should be deregistered. If the decision has been made unofficially, the organization will be able to prove the fact to the satisfaction of the court and thereby safeguard its registration. If the court finds that any organization has defied awards and has made it clear that it does not want to work under the jurisdiction of the court, then the court must consider deregistering that organization. However, the court cannot take any action in this matter until it knows whether the stoppage has been decided upon by the official controlling body of the unions concerned.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether a recent amendment of the National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations permits of immunity being given to purchasers of property at black market prices, although such purchasers had taken part in an illegal transaction? In such cases, is the validity of the transaction affected? If immunity is given, does it apply automatically or at the discretion of the Treasurer or the Attorney-General? What was the purpose, and what ha ve. been the effects, of the alteration of the regulations?
– I am not quite dear as to the particular provision in the National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations which the honorable member has in mind. Certain amendments were made some time ago in regard to the regulations concerning the purchase of property, the result being that a person who had been a party to a black market transaction was granted immunity, with the right to have returned to him the amount that he had overpaid when making the purchase of the property. If the honorable member will place a question upon the notice- paper in specific terms, I shall try to obtain exact information for him.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Commonwealth Government intends to apply to become a signatory to the Bretton Woods Agreement at the existing rate of exchange.
– No application for Australia to become a member of the International Monetary Fund and of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development will be made until the Senate has given its consent to the legislation on the subject that was passed by this House yesterday, and the bill becomes an enactment of this Parliament. I thought that I had made it clear to the House that one of the terms on which Australia would be prepared to join the fund and the bank would be that accorded to original members, who had joined up before the 31st December last; that if that were not conceded, the matter would again be placed before this Parliament for reconsideration. Original members of the fund and the bank joined up at the existing rate of exchange in the countries concerned. I do not think that that was guaranteed in writing; but it was understood, and it was a principle which governed the membership of all the original members of both the fund and the bank. We shall ask to have precisely the same conditions applied to us. If our request is granted, we shall become a member of the fund and the bank at the present rate of exchange.
– In view of the fact that the House will sit for only four days next week and that next Thursday will be the last opportunity we will have until after the 16th April to discuss private members’ business, and since we have been prevented from debating important private members’ business, will the Prime Minister undertake to set aside next Thursday for this purpose? To that end, I suggest that the notice of motion in the name of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) be considered before the following notices of motion, General Business : -
Mr. White : To move, That a Joint Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the following: -
the failure of the administration to maintain production of essential commodities;
– I shall certainly give consideration to the right honorable member’s request. On the last day set aside for the discussion of private members’ business there was no curtailment of honorable members’ time. I intend to discuss with Opposition Leaders the allocation of time. The Government desires to give an opportunity to conclude the debate on international affairs, which is an important matter, and, in addition, honorable members on both sides of the House may wish to discuss the report of the International Conference on Trade and Employment. Subject to this consideration every effort will be made to meet the right honorable member’s request.
Motion (by Mr. Drakeford) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to approve the Ratification on behalf of Australia of the Convention on International Civil Aviation concluded at Chicago on the seventh day of December, One thousand nine hundred and forty-four, and for other purposes.
In committee (Consideration of the Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 17 - (3.) Where a direction is given orally, the Commission shall, within 24 hours thereafter, record the direction in writing and shall immediately confirm it, in writing, to the person to whom the oral direction was given.
Senates Amendment No. 1. - Leave out “ and shall immediately confirm it, in writing, to the person to whom the oral direction was given “.
.- I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
The bill as originally presented made no provision for the recording of oral directions issued by the commission, or for their being committed to writing. When the bill was in committee in this chamber, an amendment providing for this was agreed to. It is proposed to retain this amendment. Then, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) moved a further amendment, which was agreed to, providing that such directions should be notified to the persons, or person, to whom the oral directions had been given. Since then, the matter has been considered by officers of the Department of Supply and Shipping, and hy the officials of the organizations concerned, including the shipowners, and it has been shown that the provision is not practicable. An oral direction is sometimes given to a group of 50 or 100 men, and it would not hi practicable to confirm it in writing to each one of them. It is believed that, so long as the direction is recorded, it is sufficient. If in practice it turns out that an oral direction can be confirmed in writing, then that will be done.
– Clause 17 relates to the directions which may be given, either orally or in writing, by the commission. This was amended in committee in order to make it necessary for the commission to confirm an oral order in writing. Now it is proposed to omit this provision. However, in the absence of such a provision, how can there be any certainty that the person concerned has received the direction? He may claim that he never received the order, or he may misunderstand it. For that reason it is necessary to do more that merely record the giving of an oral direction. Sub-clause 4 of clause 17 states -
A copy of a direction given in writing shall be served personally or by post on the person required to comply with the direction, and thereupon that person shall comply with the direction.
The Attorney-General said that it might be impracticable to confirm in writing an oral direction to 50 or 100 men, but the same objection applies to a written direction as envisaged in subclause 4. Are we to understand that no written direction will be issued to more than one man? Of course not. If it is of sufficient importance to make certain that such a direction is recorded in writing, then every oral direction should be confirmed in writing.
Ki. BEALE (Parramatta) [11.31].- I draw attention to what I regard as an unsatisfactory state of affairs in connexion with these amendments. “We are asked to consider amendments made by the Senate but we have been given no prior notice of what those amendments are. They were not circulated beforehand. I have just received a copy by walking to the table and picking it up. Some of these amendments may be of considerable importance, yet we are asked to consider them forthwith. This bill.w.as before this chamber a few days ago, and among the amendments made here was one moved by the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) to alter the definition of “ employer “. I disclaim entirely any responsibility for dealing with an amendment of this sort, without having time to consider it. The papers before me indicate that there are constitutional implications which escaped mc at the time, .and other members also, with the exception of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang). As a new member of this Parliament I am not acquainted with details of its procedure. I should like to know whether it is the regular practice here for members to be given time to consider amendments of this kind before they are asked to vote upon them. Honorable members may have some knowledge of the effect of the amendment now before the Chair because it was discussed by the honorable member for
Warringah (Mi-. Spender), but there may be other amendments of considerable importance concerning which no discussion has taken place. In my opinion, honorable members should have an opportunity to examine these amendments before they are asked to vote upon them.
.-The AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) may be able to exercise a good influence on behalf of the parliamentary institution in relation to the matter raised by the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale). The words now proposed to be left out were inserted in the bill when it was in committee in this chamber. In other Parliaments when amendments are made a reprint of the bill, containing all the amendments made to it by the House into which it was first introduced is available before it is read a third time. The bill is then sent to the other branch of the legislature. The bill is then returned to the chamber in which the legislation was initiated in the form in which it left that chamber, but with amendments made by the other House shown clearly, either by indicating words to be left out or by setting out the amendments in a larger type. I have just received a copy of the bill, and there is nothing to indicate that it is not the measure originally presented to this chamber and dealt with here. It is, of course, no such thing. It is really a different bill, but it comes back to this chamber without anything on its face to show that it has been altered in any way by the Senate. I ask the Minister in charge of the bill to use his influence to ensure that the procedure shall be changed, so that when a bill leaves this chamber at the third-reading stage it shall show clearly what this House has decided, and also that when it comes back with amendments made by the Senate the bill should show clearly the alterations made there.
As to the merits of the amendment now before the Chair, it is not for me to say, but I remind the committee that it came to a decision on the point covered by the amendment, and that that decision must have been accepted by the Minister in charge of the bill. Now the measure comes back to this chamber with that amendment struck out by the Senate-
The situation at least calls for a clear explanation by the Minister of the reason for eliminating an amendment made here, and for bis acceptance of an amendment by the Senate to nullify a decision of this House.
– I have been interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang), who is an ex-Premier of New South Wales. Like him, I came to this Parliament from a State legislature, and since I have been here I have, on many occasions, protested against what I consider to be the slovenly and unbusinesslike way in which legislation sometimes passes through this Parliament. Having been trained in a State Parliament where things are done in a business-like manner, I notice the difference. In the South Australian Parliament the third reading of a bill never takes place on the day that the second reading is agreed to. Usually a week intervenes, and during that period a clean print of the measure is circulated to honorable members.
– That is not always done in New South Wales, but a clean print is always available to honorable members before the vote on the third reading is taken.
– At the third-reading stage of a bill in the Parliament of South Australia, the Speaker rises and declares to the House that he holds in his hand a copy of the bill which is certified to be in accordance with the measure as it left the committee. That is the bill that is then read a third time. In this Parliament, after a bill has passed through committee, the practice frequently is for the third reading to be agreed to, by leave. On one occasion-
The CHAIRMAN (Mt. Clark).Order ! The honorable member is getting away from the business before the chair, which is amendment No. 1 made by the Senate. The practice of the Parliament in relation to the passage of bills through its two Houses is a matter which should be raised on another occasion. I shall not allow a debate on that subject now.
– The Chair did not object when the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) and the honorable member for Reid addressed themselves to the procedure being followed.
– Sufficient has been said on that subject. The honorable member for Barker also has addressed himself to the point.
– With this difference, Mr. Chairman, that the other two honorable members mentioned completed what they desired to say, whereas I have not. At this stage, I am not in a position to discuss the merits of the amendments made by the Senate. When the bill was before this chamber there were strong differences of opinion regarding certain amendments that were submitted. At a late hour last night a message was received from the Senate, and the Attorney-General then moved that that message be taken into consideration on the next day of sitting. Those amendments are before us this morning, and if an honorable member goes to the table he can obtain a copy of the bill and also of the proposed amendments. A Philadelphia lawyer could not grasp the full effect of those amendments in the few minutes that they have been before us. The businesslike thing to do would be to adjourn consideration of these amendments until next week, unless the Government intends to use its brutal majority to put them through forthwith.
– I do not wish to enter into a. general discussion as to how this branch of the legislature should deal with amendments made to legislation by the Senate. The procedure being followed this morning has been the practice of the House of Representatives for a long time. It would be desirable to have clear prints of a bill at its various stages, as suggested by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang), if this Parliament had access to the printing facilities possessed by some of the States. I can, however, give an undertaking that every amendment placed before the committee to-day will be explained until every honorable member clearly understands it. Perhaps a Philadelphia lawyer would not be able to understand it but I am sure that does not apply to honorable members in this chamber. The commission having power to give verbal directions involving a large number of men, the question is whether provision should be made in the statute not only that those directions must be recorded in writing but also that every person affected must be given a copy of them. When the original amendment was accepted in this chamber that provision appeared to be reasonable, but the officers of the Department of Supply and Shipping now say that it would be almost impracticable to give it effect. I have already said that, to the greatest possible degree, we shall prescribe by regulation that much the same thing should be done. I do not want a valid oral order to be challenged on the ground that some person affected by it did not get a copy of it in writing. Oral directions may, however, be given to 100 or 200 men and in those cases difficulties would arise in notifying every one of them in writing.
– What interpretation does the right honorable gentleman place on the word “ immediately “ ?
– The word “immediately” is included among the words which the Senate amendment proposes shall be left out.
– Because of the manner in which these amendments have been brought before us we have not had time to consider them.
– I thought the amendment was quite clear. The honorable member is well aware of the practice usually followed in connexion with amendments made by the Senate. I can perhaps sympathize with his nostalgia for the good old days when he was in the South Australian Parliament and everything was done very much better than it is here. To prescribe in the form of a rigid requirement a provision which, according to the advice of employers as well as employees, would subsequently turn out to be impracticable, would be foolish.
.- The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) has left unanswered the most important point. Why should honorable members be asked to consider these amendments without adequate preparation?
– Does the honorable member understand the amendment?
– I believe I do.
– The debate on this matter has been carried far enough. The honorable member has been allowed reasonable latitude and I now ask him to confine his remarks to the question before the Chair, which is, “ That the amendment be agreed to “.
– I shall not vote on this amendment because, whether I understand it or not, I do not believe that honorable members should be asked to deal impromptu with amendments of this, kind.
. - The” Attorney-General has indicated that the reason for accepting the Senate’s amendment is because it would be impracticable to carry out the terms of the amendment inserted in the bill when it was before this chamber. In other words the right honorable gentleman says that unless the Senate’s amendment be accepted the measure will become unworkable. In order to meet the objections to the original amendment would it be possible to prescribe that, when an oral order is given, a copy of such order be sent to the Waterside Workers Federation? If that were done, there could be no disputing the fact that those concerned had had an opportunity to see the order. I agree that the amendment made by this chamber would present difficulties. It is utterly impossible even for a union to keep an accurate record of the addresses of its members. If copies of such orders were displayed on the notice board in the office of the federation they would be available for all to see. I believe that we should not leave it entirely to the commission to give oral orders of this kind without confirmation in writing, at least to some authoritative body. The proposal I have made would be more acceptable to the employees.
– The suggestion of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) is a practical one. Where large numbers of men arc affected some procedure by which their agent or some representative body could be informed, or get a copy of the direction, seems desirable. I shall endeavour to carry out the honorable member’s suggestion by prescribing a regulation under section 53 the methods by which this is to be done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 19- (1.) The Court or a Conciliation Commissioner shall not be empowered to make an award or order in relation to the salaries, wages, rates of pay or other terms or conditions of service or employment of waterside workers.
Senate’s Amendment No. 2. - After “ order “ insert “ , under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1946”.
.- I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
When the clause was under consideration in this chamber an honorable member suggested that unless the words now proposed to be added, or words to that effect, were inserted, there might be some doubt as to what jurisdiction was being excluded by clause 19. The object of the clause is to take jurisdiction for the determination of salaries, wages, pay or other terms or conditions of service or employment of waterside workers from the Arbitration Court and its conciliation commissioners or commissions and to vest it substantially in the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The Government submitted this amendment to the Senate in order to clarify the matter as the committee suggested.
– The clause when amended will read - (1.) The court or a conciliation commissioner shall not be empowered to make an award or order, under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1946,in relation to the salaries, wages, rates of pay or other terms or conditions of service or employment of waterside workers.
Does not the amendment destroy the original intention of the clause which was to ensure that the court, or a conciliation commissioner, should not be empowered to make an award, or order, which is all-embracing?
– That is the precise intention of the amendment.
– Does not the amendment mean that the court, or conciliation commissioner, shall be able to make an award fixing some other rates?
– That is the doubt in my mind. However, if the AttorneyGeneral says that the effect of the amendment is to limit the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court wholly and solely, I accept his assurance.
– That is so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 25 -
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.
Senate’s Amendment No. 3. - Add the following sub-clause: - “ (2.) The Commission may, for the purposes of this section, define the limits of any port. “.
.- I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
The object of the amendment is to give the commission authority to define the limits of a port.
– What does that mean?
– I shall illustrate the point with reference to the port of Hobart, which covers a very large area. Existing awards distinguished between the port of Hobart and the port of Risdon, which is situated up the river from Hobart and serves the Electrolyte Zinc Company of Australasia Limited. Special provisions operate in respect of Risdon only. The Stevedoring Industry Commission may find it necessary to make a distinction between those two places. The amendment will enable it to do so by defining the limits of a port.
– Does that mean that the commission can eliminate a certain part of a port and that no registration system will be applied in that part?
– Yes; but the clause gives only a discretionary power to establish a register, although in practice registers will be established. In respect of Hobart, the commission may decide not to apply the whole of its registration system; or it may decide to apply a different registration system having regard to geographical considerations.
– The amendment raises an interesting point. The Stevedoring Industry Commission is to be given certain powers with regard to the deregistration of waterside workers, but under the amendment it is quite possible that men who may be deregistered for certain misdemeanours could then go to an area in which no register of employees, or employers, is kept, and continue the misdemeanours which brought about their deregistration. I should like the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to tell me whether that interpretation of the amendment is correct. Do any provisions in the bill empower the commission to prevent a waterside worker who has been deregistered in a certain area from obtaining employment in another area where no register is kept? If that be so, the amendment will defeat the power of the commission to take punitive action against offenders.
– What the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) suggests is quite beside the purpose of the amendment. It will not have that effect. All it will do is to enable the commission in the way I have mentioned to define the geographical limits of a port. The system of registration has been accepted by both Houses. The amendment contains nothing whatever to justify the fears which the honorable member expresses.
.- What the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) says would appear to be all right, but what the amendment says is quite different. He said that the purpose of the amendment was to enable the commission to define the geographical limits of a port. The amendment does more than that. It enables the commission to define not only the geographical limits of a port, hut also limits of greater importance. One of the greatest causes of trouble on the waterfront in Sydney has always been the difficulty of making those employed on the water front become members of the Waterside Workers Federation. Right down the years as far as I can remember, there has always been one shipping company whose workers are not members of the union. In the phrase used amongst workers they have been looked upon as members of a “ scab “ organization. The bill provides that the waterside workers shall become members of the union. If this amendment is made the Stevedoring Industry Commission, can, if it desires, exercise a power that I would not give to it, and be able to put such limits on the port that the non-unionists shall be isolated and thus able to operate. The Attorney-General may think that that would be utterly impossible, but in the Port of Sydney, the company that has always been a trouble operates what is called a ferry service from Sydney to Newcastle and the Hunter River. The vessels are backwards and forwards, and the men are in a “ boss’s union “. If the commission had the right to declare the limits of the port, it could declare the limits tff the Port of Sydney in such a way that a certain wharf would not come within them. The Attorney-General says that this amendment merely enables the commission to define the geographical limitsof a port. If that were stated in theamendment, I could understand it. I could understand a provision enabling the commission to decide the limits of the Port of Sydney by declaring that the1 upper reaches of the Parramatta River” did not come within the port, hut even! that would be dangerous. But when it is empowered to define the limit of a port there is no limit to what it may prescribe. It might go this way and that way and whatever it prescribed would be law. I ask the Attorney-General to be very careful with this amendment, because if he insists on it, he may undo al! the good things that he is trying to do in this measure. If the limits defined were only geographical limits, there would be some sort tff an appeal, but if the commission can just prescribe the limits, that is law, and there is no appeal against it. I do not believe that it would, but the commission could make a jigsaw puzzle of the Port of Sydney and one would not know where Port Jackson started and ended. The commission, of course, would not do things like that; but it could, cleverly, legally and possibly scientifically, do something exactly contrary to the spirit of the measure. Again I impress upon the Attorney-General the need to be careful with this amendment because it leaves it wide open to the commission to do what I say it could do. It is no answer to say that the gentlemen on the commission are men of extraordinarily high calibre and are most conscientious and honorable. Men come and men go, but the commission continues to operate until the Parliament repeals the law. So I ask the right honorable gentleman to give the amendment serious consideration before accepting it.
– I cannot accept the explanation given by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) “.that this amendment is designed to describe the geographical limits of the port. The amendment reads -
The Commission may, for the purposes of this section-
The purposes will be a register of employers and waterside workers, because the clause provides -
The Commission may, in respect of any port, establish and maintain -
a register of employers at that port; and (Z>) a register of waterside workers at that port.
Therefore the amendment has nothing to do with the establishment of geographical boundaries. It has to do with the establishment of a register of waterside workers and employers.
– At a port.
– What is a port?
– But the AttorneyGeneral says that this amendment is intended to enable the geographical limits of a port to be defined whereas that is not so, if words mean what they say. The words of the amendment are “ for the purposes of this section “, and the purposes of the section are the establishment and maintenance of a register of employers and waterside workers.
– The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) has raised another point, but I do not depart from my earlier observations. One of the powers of the Stevedoring Industry Commission is to be the power to penalize wharf labourers or employers for misdemeanours. The only penalty is deregistration. If no register is kept outside certain defined limits, obviously deregistration will not affect any one who is able to pursue his vocation outside those limits. It may well be that, under pressure from the Communists, the commission would define as the port of Brisbane an area that was not the port of Brisbane, or as the port of Hobart an area that was not the port of Hobart, and, thereby, both waterside workers and employers would be able to operate free from the necessity to register or to seek re-registration in the event of deregistration. No register would, in fact, be necessary.
.- The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) undertook to make this matter clear to all. He was an optimist.
– He only had himself in mind.
– Yes. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) and the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) have both given definitions of the amendment that vary from each other’ e and the Attorney-General’s. It may be that the Attorney-General is right.
– That is a great concession.
– It is indeed; but the right honorable gentleman may be right. The point is that the Attorney-General, the honorable member for Wentworth and the honorable member for Reid will not interpret the provision. It will be interpreted by the Stevedoring Industry Commission from whose decision there will be no appeal except, with its permission, by way of a stated case. The Attorney-General may be quite right, but he will not interpret the matter. Therefore it is important to make it crystal clear. We are being asked to deal with matters which, in the minds of at least two or three members, are ambiguous. As a protest against this procedure, I shall oppose the amendment.
– The clause with which we are dealing relates to the powers of the commission - not the duties of the commission - to establish and maintain a register. The register system is the basis upon which certain benefits may be conferred and, in certain cases, disciplinary measures taken. The purpose of the amendment is to empower the commission to define the limits of any port. For instance, it may determine how far up the Parramatta River the Port of Sydney extends. “Why should the commission not have that power? There must be some method by which the area of a port may be prescribed. I assure the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang), that it would not be possible under this provision to so gerrymander the limits of a port that one particular wharf would be excluded. That could not be described as defining the limits of a port. Under the system of registration provided for in this measure, members of theWaterside Workers Federation and of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union who are already registered will have the right to continue to be registered. In other words, all men who are now registered under the present regulations, will have the right to be registered under this measure.
– Not if they are outside the limits of a port.
– That is correct. It may be, for instance, that areas beyond a certain distance up the Parramatta River will not be regarded as being within the Port of Sydney; but this is a power that the commission must possess.
– Could registration depend on the place of residence of the waterside workers?
– No. The limits of a port must be the physical limits. I should say that it would be impossible for the commission to hold that in regard to the Port of Sydney, for instance, certain wharfs should be excluded. A port will have to be defined just as an electoral division is defined. It is true that the bill provides that the power of interpretation will rest with the commission, but, as I have said, the govern ment expects that the chairman will be a judge of the Arbitration Court and I am confident that his view on this point would be the view that I have put to the committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 29- (1.) Where the Commission has reason to believe that an employer -
Senate’s Amendment No. 4. - Leave out “ Where the Commission has reason to believe “, insert “ Upon a written complaint being made to the Commission “.
.- I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
The committee will recall that when clause 30 dealing with complaints against employees was under discussion, an amendment similar to this one was suggested by the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn), with a view to providing the safeguard of requiring a written complaint. The Government accepted the honorable member’s suggestion, and clause 30 has been amended by the Senate accordingly. This amendment to clause 29 provides the same safeguard of requiring a written complaint in respect of employers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate’s Amendment No. 5. - After subclause (1.) insert the following sub-clause:- “ (1a.) The onus of proving any allegation contained in a complaint made to the Commission under the last preceding sub-section shall lie upon the person by whom the complaint was made “.
.- I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
This amendment is associated with the one to which the committee has just agreed. When the clause was under discussion in this chamber, the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) suggested this amendment providing that the onus of proof of any charge should be placed upon the person by whom the complaint was made. The amendment extends to clause 29, the safeguard already inserted in clause 30.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate’s Amendment No.6 -
Consideration postponed until after consideration of Senate’s Amendment No. 7.
Clause 37 (Offences).
Senate’s Amendment No. 7. - Leave out clause 37.
.- I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
This clause was inserted in the bill because it was contained in the National Security Regulations. It deals with offences, and provides that the commission, which is not a court, may inquire into an alleged offence, and, if it is satisfied that an offence has been committed, may record its opinion as to the penalty that should be imposed. It has power to hear the parties concerned and to examine witnesses, then when the case finally goes to the ordinary courts, the opinion of the commission may be tendered as evidence against the person charged, and the court may take that opinion into consideration.
The provision was inserted in the National Security Regulations to give the commission itself power to impose any penalty imposed under the regulations, but the matter went to the courts, and it was held that the commission could not exercise the judicial power of the Commonwealth. Subsequently, the regulations were amended to provide that the commission could only investigate a complaint, and forward its opinion to the courts. The provision has been criticized on a number of grounds, quite rightly 1 believe, because it really has no effect. No court would be bound by a decision of the commission, nor would any court determine a case solely upon the material provided by the commission. Therefore in practice, there would be no effect. In some respects, it would be dangerous, because witnesses would come before the commission to give evidence about an alleged offence, and they would be cross examined. Later proceedings would take place again before the court. Although this provision has been in the regulations for approximately two years, no proceedings have been taken under it in any instance. In the circumstances, the Government considered that the proper course to pursue would be to leave out the clause.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 31 (Operation of section 37 not to be affected).
Senate’s Amendment No.6. - Leave out clause 31.
.- I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
This is the amendment of which consideration was postponed until after consideration of amendment No. 7, and on which it is consequential.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 40 - (1.) The Commission may, in relation to any port, authorize -
Senate’s Amendment No. 8. - Leave out from sub-clause (1.) “, thirty -seven “.
– I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
This is a consequential amendment, because it refers to clause 37, which the committee has already deleted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate’s Amendment No. 9. - Leave out from sub-clause (2.) “, thirty and thirtyseven “, insert “ and thirty “.
.- I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
Again, this is a consequential amendment.
– Will I have an opportunity to discuss clause 28 ?
– No ; only the Senate’s amendments are under consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate’s Amendment No. 10. - Leave out subclause 4.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This sub-clause deals with the exercise of certain functions by members of employment committees, and provides that there shall be no appeal to the commission against any determination of any body of persons under clause 37. As clause 37 has been deleted, this amendment is purely consequential.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Bill presented by Mr. Drakeford, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill he now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to obtain parliamentary approval for the ratification of the Convention on International Civil Aviation signed at Chicago on the 7th December, 1944. I have laid upon the table of the House a copy of the convention, and honorable members will recall that I submitted the report of the convention to the House on the 6th December, 1946. The bill also provides for such changes in the Air Navigation Act 1920-1936 a3 will become necessary by reason of, first, the coming into force of the convention, and, secondly, the continuous development of civil aviation.
At present, air navigation is regulated by the Air Navigation Act 1920-1936, which is referred to in this bill as the principal act. The act of 1920-1936 enabled effect to be given to the Convention for Regulating Air Navigation, signed at Paris on the 13th October, 1919.
Australia, together with other contracting States, by ratifying the Chicago convention, undertakes as between the ratifying countries that the Chicago convention shall supersede the Paris convention. The Chicago convention comes into operation 30 days after the twenty-sixth State has deposited its instrument of ratification; and as the twenty-sixth instrument was deposited on the 10th March last, the convention becomes effective on and from the 10th April, 1947. The notice of denunciation of the Paris convention given by Australia is expressed to take effect one year from the 10th August, 1946, or on the date on which the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia becomes bound by the Chicago convention, whichever is the later. Now that the Chicago convention has been ratified by the requisite number of States, the denunciation takes effect on the 10th August, 1947. It follows that between the 10th April, 1947, and the 10th August, 1947, Australia is under an obligation to apply the provisions of two conventions relating to air navigation. The difficulties which might arise from this situation were recognized by the International Commission on Air Navigation established under the Paris convention, and many of the technical provisions of that convention have been amended pursuant to the power contained in Article 34 of the Paris convention, so that they now correspond with the provisions of the Chicago convention relating to the same subject-matter. Honorable members will note that clause 6 of the amending bill provides for the repeal, as at the 10th August, 1947, of the section relating to the Paris convention, and accordingly it will be necessary as at that date to substitute a new set of regulations which implement the Chicago convention and carry out the purpose of this bill. In the meantime, it is not proposed to introduce any new regulations which conflict with either convention. It is considered that this action is consistent. with, the spirit of Article 82 of the Chicago convention, which places on contracting States a duty to obtain release from such inconsistent obligations as soon as action can lawfully be taken after the coming into force of the Chicago convention.
I shall now deal with other aspects of the bill on which honorable members may desire clarification. Proposed new section 3 a provides -
The ratification on behalf of Australia of the Chicago convention is approved.
Honorable members will recall that on the 3rd December, 1946, I presented to the Parliament a report relating to the Convention on International Civil Aviation for the purpose of obtaining the endorsement by the Parliament of the Government’s proposal to deposit the instrument of ratification in concert with other nations and moved that the report, to which the text of the convention had been annexed, be printed. On that occasion I outlined to honorable members the subject-matter and scope of the Chicago convention and pointed out that the convention covers all aspects of international civil aviation and is intended to replace the Paris convention of 1919 and the Havana convention of 1928, which were considered to be no longer adequate to meet the changed situation ‘ in post-war international civil aviation which would result from the immense development of aviation during the war. It was obvious that new rules for the more efficient conduct of civil aviation must be evolved and enforced by common consent of the nations of the world. However, the Parliament adjourned before the motion was debated or adopted.
In view of the invitation of the United Kingdom Government to deposit our instrument of ratification simultaneously with other Commonwealth nations, and in view of the resolutions of the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Committee on Air Navigation recommending that signatories deposit ratifications on the 1st March, 1947, and particularly because of the importance of ensuring that Australia should be an original member of the permanent organization and be assured of representation at the first meeting of the permanent assembly scheduled to meet in Montreal on the 6th May, 1947, Cabinet authorized the depositing of the instrument on the 1st March, 1947. As indicated, the convention now becomes binding on the Commonwealth of Australia on and from the 10th April, 1947. Clause 3 of the amending bill seeks parliamentary approval of the action of Cabinet in authorizing the ratification on behalf of Australia of the Chicago Convention. Clause 5 of the bill gives power to make regulations for the control of air navigation in respect of certain enumerated subject matters. It appeared desirable to take this opportunity to enlarge the power to make regulations in respect of the control of air navigation so that it would be more nearly co-extensive with the power inherent in the Constitution. It will be noted that, in addition to providing for the carrying out of the Paris convention, the existing act gives power to make regulations for the control of air navigation (a) in relation to trade and commerce with other countries and among the States, and (&) within any territory of the Commonwealth. It is considered that the addition of the further powers enumerated in clause 5 of the bill will cover more fully the power inherent in the Constitution to make regulations for the control of air navigation. In particular, power is given to make regulations for the control of air navigation within any State, the Parliament of which has referred to the Parliament of the Commonwealth the matter of the control of air navigation within that State. The decision of the High Court in the Goya Henry case, 1936, appears to limit the power of the Commonwealth to control directly civil aviation within a State to matters connected with naval and military defence, postal services and the rules contained in the first schedule to the regulations which comprise what might he termed briefly the “ rules of the road “ and flight procedure. In view of this decision, a conference was held in 1937 between the Commonwealth and the States which resulted in an agreement by the States to pass uniform State legislation requiring observance of the Commonwealth Air Navigation Regulations by all aircraft flying within a State. This
State legislation in effect applies regulations made under the Air Navigation Act 1920-1936, as amended from time to time, as part of State law. It will be noted that clause 1 of the amending bill has been drafted so as not to disturb the existing pattern of State legislation. Nevertheless, it appears desirable to provide in advance for the situation which will arise if at any time hereafter the power to control directly air navigation within any State becomes vested in the Commonwealth. With the development of civil aviation, it appears likely that some States may be disposed in the future to refer to the Commonwealth, pursuant to placitum xxxvii. of the Constitution, power to control air navigation within that State. The addition of this provision in clause 5 provides for such a contingency and, by making appropriate amendments to the Air Navigation Regulations, they can be made applicable as part of Commonwealth law to any State which at any time hereafter transfers power to the Commonwealth to control air navigation without further amendment of the Air Navigation Act.
The bill is an essential measure, and I thank honorable members for agreeing to deal with it immediately.
.- The Opposition supports the bill. It provides for the ratification of an international convention on aviation from which Australia could not afford to remain aloof. I understand that the only nation which has not become a party to the convention is Russia. Australia is greatly interested in aviation, having done much pioneering work in this field and being largely dependent upon air transport. This bill will bring up to date the Paris convention of 1919 and the Havana convention of 1928. Much has happened since those conventions were made, and the greater range _ and use of modern aircraft necessitate international control of civil aviation. There is no need for me to stress the benefits of aviation; they are generally understood.
Many inventions have increased the safety of flying, but many .additional safety devices are needed. Within the last ten weeks, twelve spectacular aircraft crashes in Great Britain, the United States of America, South America, Italy and France caused the deaths of 267 people. Although these accidents may alarm some people who, even to-day, may believe that aviation is not a boon to humanity, anybody associated with aviation will agree definitely that all such accidents are avoidable. Flying can be made safer by fostering research into aviation problems, encouraging inventors, and participating in conferences such as the one which gave rise to the Chicago Convention. The efficiency of aircraft has increased tremendously in recent years. Engines are reliable, and airframe construction is satisfactory. Accidents due to defects in machines are therefore exceedingly rare. However, there are still many ways in which the safety of flying can be increased. For instance, the landing speed of aircraft is too high. It should be possible for great passenger-carrying machines to land at slow speeds. Stall indicators should be developed so that pilots may be warned if their machines begin to lose flying speed. At present, pilots have no such device to help them when they are approaching to land and their attention is diverted from the air-speed indicator. Another invention which is badly needed is some method of giving warning of the presence of obstructions in the path of flight of an aircraft. Many accidents have happened when machines have struck mountains owing to bad visibility. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder), an ex-officer of the Royal Australian Air Force, who served as a navigator during the war, will be able to speak authoritatively on safety devices that have already been developed and on others that need to be perfected. Some inventions which have recently come into use in Great Britain, and which add considerably to the safety of passenger-carrying machines, have not yet been introduced to Australia. I hope that the honorable member will say something about them. Every navigation aid which can make flying safer must be encouraged, and Australia must take a lead in that respect. Aviation is both a boon and a bane to humanity. In war, aircraft were amongst the most deadly weapons of destruction. However, in times of peace, aviation can link nations more closely and lead to better ‘understanding throughout the world. It can also do much to improve the welfare of persons living in remote areas. The Flying Doctor Service of Australia is an example of the humanitarian application of aviation.
There is one other aspect which I am sorry to introduce. I consider that civil aviation is far above party politics, and my actions have always been dictated by that belief. Yet, unfortunately, the Government has allowed party politics to intrude in connexion with it. Recently, the Government had to appoint three directors to a body dealing with air services between Australia and Britain, in which it intended to participate with Qantas Empire Airways. When the bill dealing with the subject was before this House, I urged the Government to endeavour to obtain the very best personnel available; because the safety of civil aviation must be our first consideration. To my disappointment, I discovered that only one eminent man was chosen for appointment in the person of Sir Keith Smith, who with his brother made the first flight from England to Australia in 1919. The other two positions are to be filled by civilians, one of whom, we have been told, is a Treasury official. It may be necessary to have a Treasury official as one of the three directors. But the other gentleman definitely was chosen because of his party political affiliations. I refer to Mr. Taylor. I do not know the gentleman, but I believe that he does not possess any aviation qualifications. If he does, then they should be stated. He was appointed to Trans- Australia Airlines when another political choice was made chairman of that body, and he has been taken from Trans-Australia Airlines after having had a brief acquaintance with civil aviation, and has been made one of the directors of this international civil aviation organization. Any appointments to civil aviation bodies should be divorced from party political considerations. As the Minister well knows, 1.80,000 men have been demobilized from the Royal Australian Air Force. Many thousands of them, as members of air crews, earned an honoured place on operational flights as well as in transport squadrons against the world’s best airmen. In fact, I believe it to be beyond challenge and to be admitted that the greatest air navigator to-day is an Australian, in the person of Air ViceMarshal Bennett. If he were in Australia to-day, possibly he would not be offered a civil aviation job. Yet he was the creator of the Pathfinders! Originally, he was associated with a civil air line in Australia. He joined the Royal Australian Air Force, and went to England. He was shot down over Norway, but escaped and returned to Britain, where he created the Pathfinder squadrons, which ensured precision bombing. For a time, he was a member of the House of Commons, and now he is the head of a company controlling aeroplanes that are flying to South America. Has he been invited to come to Australia to express his opinion of what ought to be clone, or has he been offered a job here? There are other air transport men who are not. so eminent or prominent as he is. They should have the opportunity to obtain important positions in civil aviation in this country, and politics should never be considered when appointments are being made.
I revert to the bill. I know that the Minister has worked very hard, and that by and large the officers of the Civil Aviation Department have done a very good job over the years in attempting to keep abreast of improvements throughout the world. In 192&, Australia had the distinction that aeroplanes in this country covered a greater mileage in civil aviation than did those of any other country. Of course, with the greater endurance of aircraft to-day, and the crossing of oceans commonplace, naturally the aeroplanes used in those countries that have the larger resources - the United States of America a.nd Britain - can cover longer distances. But we must play our part. 1 hope that Cabinet, and the Labour party generally, will support the Minister in the encouragement of civil aviation, which means a great deal to the development of Australia, lacking as we do the communications that are needed. We of the Opposition support this proposal to ratify the Chicago agreement, which supplants the now out-moded 1919 agreement of Paris, on which all of our legislation has been based. We shall support any laudable legislation of this kind, which the parties that sit on this side of the House pioneered in the past.
Sitting suspended from 12.^5 to 2.15 p.m.
. - .1 support the bill and do not wish to impede its progress, but there are several observations I desire to make. In the Minister’s second-reading speech he said the bill also provides for such changes in the Air Navigation Act 1920-1936 as will become necessary by reason of (a) the coming into force of the new act; and (b) the development of civil aviation. I should like to say something about the development of civil aviation, particularly in regard to safety devices. Tn this country we have been very fortunate in that our commercial planes have had very few accidents - and those which have- occurred have not been attributable to the administration - but as commercial flying develops it will be necessary for us to introduce the most complete safeguards. I have in mind particularly the radar aids used by the Air Force during the war. I have some practical knowledge of the subject, having served in England with the Royal Australian Air Force for about four years, when most of these navigational aids were in use.
The first one to which I refer is “ Fido “ which is used for fog dispersal. In this country we should have a “ Fido “ unit installed in at least one major aerodrome in each State. That is necessary in the event of fog blanketing the ground. T know that in this country this seldom happens, but it does happen very often in Europe and can and does happen here.
Another system in use in England is the Lorenz standard beam approach system, which has not been used to any considerable degree in this country. That device enables a pilot to land on a radio beam when visibility is so bad that he would not ordinarily be able to land. This device can be substituted for “ Fido “, which is a relatively expensive method - although expense should not be considered where the safety of human life is involved. There are other radar devices, such’ as H2S and G. Those are code names for most efficient aids to navigation and air safety. If either of these two devices is employed it will be impossible for an aircraft to become lost even during the worst conditions. I have mentioned only some of the modern devices in use overseas, and I know that while some of them are still in the process of development others were used only during war-time. However, in the interest of air safety those devices in use in civil aviation in England to-day should be taken into use in this country.
The honorable member for Balaclava raised the matter of the appointment of Mr. W. C. Taylor to Qantas Empire Airways. As honorable members know Mr. Taylor was appointed originally to the Australian National Airlines Commission. I should like to know what experience Mr. Taylor has had of aviation. As far as I am aware his only experience has been in a trades union council. I am not making a personal issue of his appointment, and I do not condemn him because he has been associated with trade unions, but in a commercial aviation undertaking it is vital that he should have had at least some experience of aviation-
– He is a qualified solicitor.
– That does not make him a qualified aviation expert. He was sent to England recently-
– No, Mr. Coles was recently sent to England.
– One of the many former officers of the Royal Australian Air Force holding high rank and with excellent experience should have been appointed to this position. Instead of one of those officers being selected, Mr. Taylor, whose only experience was gained with the Australian National Airlines Commission, received the appointment. In my opinion Mr. Taylor has not, even now, acquired sufficient experience to carry out his duties efficiently.
Another matter which disturbs me is the report in to-day’s Daily Telegraph that the transport strike has . affected
Trans-Australia Airlines, and that the trade union concerned has already withdrawn maintenance engineers from Australian National Airways. I think that shows that the trade unions are discriminating against Australian National Airways in their attitude towards air lines. But the point is that once a “ maintenance “ union acquires a political outlook the safety of air navigation is jeopardized. If airlines have to carry on maintenance work with skeleton staffs it will not be carried out as efficiently, and this must react to the detriment of safe flying.
The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) made reference to the recent visit of Air Vice-Marshal Bennett to this country. I did not hear of any effort being made by the Government or by the Australian National Airlines Commission to acquire his services. Air Vice-Marshal Bennett is a man of exceptional ability, which was demonstrated, not only during the war but before the war, and we should not have neglected any opportunity to secure his services. I am sorry that he went back to England without any offer of a position in this country having been made to him.
As I said previously I support this bill and I do not intend to impede its progress; I content myself with saying that aviation is of great importance to this country and that its development must be assisted by every possible means.
.- The bill provides for the_ ratification of an agreement made at Chicago. In this Parliament it is customary for honorable members to have put before them in the form of a schedule to a bill copies of any relevant agreement. That has not been done in this case. On referring to the act mentioned in this bill I discovered that it was enacted to ratify the agreement made at the Paris Air Convention in 1920. When that bill was before Parliament the agreement was annexed to it in the form of a schedule so that honorable members could see what they were being asked to implement. I do not think it desirable to ratify an agreement without having it before us. I noticed yesterday that the complete terms of the Bretton Woods Agreement were embodied in the schedule to the
International Monetary Fund Bill, and the same course was followed in the legislation to implement the Ottawa Agreement and the Anzac Pact. In this bill we are asked simply to agree to clause 3 (a), ratifying the convention on behalf of Australia. What is the Chicago convention? Does any honorable member know what it is? For myself, I remember the occasion and I think the Minister was over there. We read about it in the newspapers in the same way that the Minister read about the formation of the Australian National Airlines Commission here. I do not know whether he was responsible for the formation of the commission. I have the most serious objection to Parliament being asked to ratify the terms of agreements which it has not seen. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) and the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder), who know something of the subject, may have seen the text of the Chicago convention and approved of it, but I have not had an opportunity of seeing the documents. I know there were very serious disputations at the time as to what concessions should be made by the Commonwealth to certain other countries, but I do not know the nature of those concessions. My own feeling is that we should not be asked to agree on something which commits us for all time, or until a new international convention is held, before we have had an opportunity to study the revelant documents.
– in reply - I appreciate some of the observations of honorable members opposite, and I realize that they are anxious to make of the convention a workable arrangement. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) said that a schedule should have been attached to the bill containing the full text of the Chicago agreement. I remind honorable members, that at the beginning of September of last year, I tabled in this House a report on the Convention of International Civil Aviation. It was mainly a summary, but there were six full-sized foolscap pages of single typing. It was available to all honorable members including the honorable member for Barker, and from a study of it they could have made themselves acquainted with the main points of the convention. The convention itself represents the most modern application of aviation knowledge arrived at by representatives of many nations, seeking to bring aviation control up to date in the light of recent experience. Those who framed the convention had the assistance of experts. There were present at the Montreal conference many men wearing the uniform of the Royal Air Force, including Air Marshal Sir Frederick Bowhill. Australia had the assistance of Air Marshal Williams, who served in the last war. I commend that report to honorable members. It contains information which will answer their complaints, if not fully, at least in part. Perhaps it would have been better to have supplied honorable members with the full report of the convention, but it is a book of many pages, and I doubt whether they would have waded through pages of technical matter that might not have been of great interest.
– Let the Minister speak for members of his own party.
– For the most part, honorable members lack the training to understand technical details. I agree with the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) and the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) that wo ought to study aviation constantly because its development is so rapid. The Government has been criticized for the appointment of certain persons to boards and other positions. Let me point out that Air Marshal Williams is DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation, and Captain E: C. Johnston, the Assistant Director, was a pilot in World War I.
– We are not objecting to them, but what about Mr. Taylor and Mr. Coles?
– It would be difficult to make any appointment that would give complete satisfaction. .1 have noticed that any man who has taken a prominent part in the activities of a political party opposed to Labour finds little difficulty in obtaining directorships of big firms such as insurance companies, &c. It is not necessary that they should have any knowledge of the business concerned. I could give a dozen examples of this.
– What about Mr. Taylor ?
– He has a sound legal knowledge, including a knowledge of aviation law. In future, much attention will have to be devoted to this. I remind honorable members that the board will be concerned with other things than actual flying. Sir Keith Smith, one of Australia’s first pioneers in aviation, is a member.
– We do not object to that.
– It is impossible to appoint a board that will satisfy everybody. Another member, Mr. Watt, is the representative of the Treasury, and it is appropriate that there should be such a representative seeing that large amounts of Commonwealth moneys are involved. Mr. Taylor is a very valuable man, who has learned rapidly a great deal that it is necessary to know. Criticism of him is without justification. I can understand some of the criticism offered by honorable members, but I respectfuly disagree with them.
Reference has been made to safety measures. Much of what has been suggested is already being applied. At the recent Picao conference, there were discussions on the subject of navigation safety. We had experts at the meeting who were able to supply valuable information. The general feeling among delegates was that Australia was well advanced in regard to safety measures. I agree with the honorable member for Franklin and the honorable member for Balaclava that Australia is favoured in that better flying conditions exist here than in most other countries, but that is not a reason for saying that we should not have the best appliances available. Honorable members will be interested to know that an Australian invention which was recently tested at Montreal appears to be in advance of any other invention. So far as the tests have gone, they have been successful.
– What was the nature of the invention?
– It is a radio aid for bring:ng aircraft to land and for operating them in the proximity of aerodromes. That is an indication that the inventive capacity of Australians is being utilized, and that the experience gained by Australian pilots and crews who rendered such magnificent service during the war is being made available. Their experience is being availed of also in connexion with Trans-Australia Airlines; many of the company’s administrative and flying officers served with the Royal Australian Air Force. I do not think that there are grounds for criticizing the Government in this connexion.
I answer the complaints that have been made by saying that as quickly as possible the latest aids will be installed. Australia will maintain a level with other countries in the provision of aids to safe navigation. Honorable members will agree that, regardless of the efficacy of flying aids as a means of reducing the risks associated with flying, there is always the possibility of human failure. Man is not infallible, and I am in constant fear that, should I emphasize our good record in the air, I may not long afterwards learn of a serious accident. Recently, comments were made and questions asked in this House regarding the danger associated with flying operations between Australia and Japan. I have been watching those operations with interest. Aircraft engaged in that service over a period of eighteen months have 1 ,500,000 traffic miles to their credit without serious injury or loss of life, notwithstanding that they have flown in areas subject to monsoons. I regard that as a most satisfactory record. I realize that if a serious accident, involving loss of life, were to occur to-morrow, that record would be affected. Some of the suggestions which have appeared in the press are entirely without foundation.
T assure the House that I do not underestimate the value attaching to the services of Air Vice-Marshal Bennett, but I point out that when he visited Australia he was already in touch with the aviation concern which is now operating between Great Britain and South America.
Air. White. - We lost him.
– That may be, hut, we must remember that spheres of operation in countries with large populations offer greater opportunities to good men. Anysuggestion that Air Vice-
Marshal Bennett was not offered a job in Australia when he already had one,. is tantamount to a charge that we did not try to buy him out. The world recognizes the wonderful performances of Australian airmen, and that recognition is shared by the Government, and myself.. Wherever Australian talent and experience can be used we shall use them. I thank honorable members for their criticism, which I know has not been offered in any unfriendly spirit. Otheropportunities will arise to debate civil aviation matters, in which honorable members may give to the country the benefit of their knowledge.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Power to give effect to Chicago Convention).
.- This clause proposes to insert a new section in the principal act to provide among other things -
The Governor-General may make regulations for the purpose of carrying out and giving effect to the Chicago Convention . . . and for the purpose of providing for the control of air navigation -
in relation to trade and commerce with other countries and among the States;
in relation to the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth and of the several States;
in relation to postal and other like services;
for carrying out and giving effect to any other international convention.
That proposed new section provides for the making of regulations covering a number of important matters. In drafting those regulations great care will be necessary. In the past the Parliament has not given sufficient consideration to the regulations laid on the table. We have seen that in connexion with regulations in relation to repatriation matters. Experience has shown that some of the regulations have been unsatisfactory in regard to civil aviation. I expect that in the drafting of these regulations the Minister will make full use of the expert knowledge possessed by his staff, but I should like to know whether he proposes to call in other expert advisers to assist them, so that the regulations shall meet every contingency.
Among the matters concerning which regulations may be made are those relating to the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth. I remind the committee of the present state of the Royal Australian Air Force. The only effective part of that force is in Japan; the rest of lt has been demobilized. We expect civil aviation to provide a reserve for the A;r Force, but if the regulations do not contain provisions to ensure that young men who have served in the Air Force shall be held together, either in citizen force squadrons or in the Air Force itself, we shall lose them. So far, we have only an interim Air Force, and the nucleus of a permanent Air Force. Among the many regulations which have been tabled in the Parliament and become law a fortnight thereafter, because they were not objected to, were some relating to the Air Force. I made inquiries by letter as to their scope. [ asked whether any of them would be detrimentally retrospective to men who had served with the Royal Australian Air Force, and I was assured that no such provisions were contained in them. I learned later that under those regulations deductions from pay, going back as far as three years, had been authorized. F raised the matter in this House and by letter to the Minister, but no redress was given. Ultimately, the case was taken to court and was decided in favour of the men, but the hearing involved them in heavy expenses which they could ill afford. I do not know yet whether they have received the money due to them. The contention of the department was that the granting of their request would mean altering thousands of pay-books. I emphasize that any regulations made under this legislation become law a fortnight after being tabled in the Parliament, unless they are objected to. I suggest that the Minister should arrange for the appointment of a. parliamentary committee to consider these regulations before they are laid upon the table of the House. The honor able gentleman has said that he welcomes the suggestion that those who know something of aviation should have a share in their drafting. I therefore suggest that a parliamentary committee be established to consider all draft regulations in association with the officers of the Civil Aviation Department, so that when the regulations are finally tabled we shall be sure that they have the approval of the majority of those interested in the subject.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 (Repeal).
– Does the Minister not intend to reply to the representations I have made to him?
– The sole purpose of this clause is to ensure that the existing regulations shall be preserved. As 1 have indicated, it is not proposed that new regulations shall be drawn up at present. Its purpose is merely to ensure that up to the time the new convention comes into operation after midnight on the 9th August next the existing regulations shall remain in force. Thereafter they may be amended at any time in accordance with existing practice. No doubt they will be improved from time to time as necessary. The Air Navigation Regulations have been developed over a long period of years, and, as far as I am aware, they have rarely been challenged. That, possibly, may have been due to war conditions. I am prepared to consider the suggestion that proposed new regulations be considered by a conference between the officials of my department and other people competent in civil aviation matters before they are laid upon the table of the House. I am not prepared, however, to recommend that the responsibilities of the Government should be handed over to a committee.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Rill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 19th March (vide page 886), on motion by Dr. Evatt -
That the following papers be printed: - * . . (vide* page 100).
– It is the good fortune of the House that the debate was initiated by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) with a statement of a very comprehensive and informative character which has led to the high standard maintained during the debate, at least up to this moment. It is indeed the good fortune of the people of Australia that there is available a man of the brilliance of mind and untiring energy of the Minister for External Affairs to assist the cause of Australian security and of world peace. It seems a very long time ago since questions of foreign policy were so remote from the daily lives of the Australian people as to be of no practical concern to them; but actually those days are very recent. The reasons why in those times Australians found little cause to be deeply interested in foreign affairs are numerous. Our lack of interest in this subject was due, first, to the fact that the governments of the Commonwealth in those days adopted as their foreign policy the slogan of tuning in to Great Britain. Whatever policy was enunciated in Downing-street could automatically and without consultation or consideration be adopted by the people of Australia. Secondly, in those days, external affairs were almost entirely regarded as the affairs of Europe and only to a very slight degree the affairs of the Pacific, because the peoples in Pacific countries were chiefly the citizens of colonial dependencies of European powers. In those days wars were still conflicts between armed forces in which the lives of women and children, and of civilians in general, were not in jeopardy. Finally, we believed in those days that the British Navy was our sure line of protection against all aggression, and therefore that we had no need to concern ourselves with affairs outside our own boundaries. Not one of those reasons any longer applies. Our isolations and protections have been entirely swept away.
To-day, Great Britain, staggering under post-war burdens, no longer possesses its pre-war strength and, in fact, its future as a major power must be considered as being in some doubt. The phase of colonial imperialism is ending and new independent nations are rising in the seas around us. With the advent of the rocket and the atomic bombs wars are no longer conflicts between armed forces, but matters of violent destruction of cities, towns, villages, whole communities and nations. Finally, by the lessons of war and the development of weapons of destruction we, in this country, have been sharply and completely awakened from the dream that full and complete protection against all dangers can be provided by the British Navy. External Affairs, therefore, have become of intense concern to every man and woman in Australia at the very moment when the future of civilization is so dark and clouded as to make it natural that there should be doubt and confusion in the minds of all seekers after peace and security. Recently, a Mr. Harold Noble, an American journalist, writing in the American publication the Saturday Evening Post, is reported to have made various criticisms of Australia in relation to its foreign policy. He claimed that great confusion and uncertainty reigns among Australians regarding this country’s foreign policy. The answer to that criticism is that there is a good deal less uncertainty and confusion in this country about our foreign policy than there has been at any previous time; because to-day more of our people are directly interested in our foreign policy and are endeavouring not only to understand it but also to make their contribution to it. Australia’s foreign policy is more positive and is being more strongly pressed to-day than it has ever previously been. It is true, of course, that Australia has not yet fully developed in detail a foreign policy ready to meet all existing contingency; but the world in its present state of chaos provides very little opportunity to apply ready-made policies in a series of emergencies. No country in the world to-day can claim that it has a foreign policy ready to met all existing problems and future contingencies. That claim can certainly not be made by the
United States of America in which country Mr. Noble’s article has been published. What Australia has done under its present leadership is to realize the essentials upon which its attitude to other countries must be based, and to equip itself with the means of gathering the necessary information, making the necessary decisions, and impressing its views upon other countries. In this respect Australia has advanced a full generation with the last five, or six, years.
From- the debate so far as it has proceeded, it appears that the only points upon which the Opposition, particularly the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), and the Government appear to differ are : First, the Opposition wishes to see more extensive collaboration between Australia and the United Kingdom; secondly, the Opposition seeks some degree of intervention on the side of the Netherlands authorities in Indonesia; and, thirdly, the Opposition seeks less reliance upon the United Nations organization as an instrument for achieving peace and security. I should like briefly to examine those points of difference between the views of the Government and the Opposition. Dealing with the first point made by the Opposition, that there should be more extensive collaboration between Australia and the United Kingdom, the fact is that the whole subject of interdominion consultation was exhaustively discussed at the Prime Ministers’ conference held in London in May last; and it does not appear that any complaint has been made by the United Kingdom Government, or by the Government of any of the other dominions, regarding the degree of consultation and co-operation given by Australia.
– Quite the contrary is the case; we have taken the lead in trying to establish closer consultation.
– Yes; Australia has taken the lead in many of these matters. Indeed, Australia is assuming an everincreasing burden of responsibility in the Pacific and Indian Ocean areas, and this is being done with the full support and agreement of the United Kingdom. The distinction between the policy of the Government and that of the Opposition in this respect appears to be that whilst the
Opposition regards the mere slogan “ Empire collaboration “ as a fullydeveloped Australian foreign policy, capable of meeting any contingency, the Government does not accept slogans and words as representing a foreign policy, but has taken its part in meeting the contingencies of foreign policy which affect this country and other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
With regard to the second point made by the Opposition, not very much reflection is required to imagine what would be the consequences of Australianattempted intervention in South-east Asia to-day on behalf of any colonial power. The problems of .South-East Asia may be approached either from the viewpoint of a colonial power or from that of a geographical neighbour. Whether or not the emphasis laid by the Opposition is upon the former, as would appear to be the case, it is certainly clear that the Government approaches this “matter from the point of view of a geographical neighbour. With respect to Australian support for, and reliance on, the United Nations organization and its various agencies, the Government’s view does not differ greatly from that held by the United Kingdom Government and proclaimed by Mr. Ernest Bevin. He declared that our hope lies in the success of the United Nations, that it is most important that the solution of major international problems be sought first and foremost within the frame-work of the United Nations, and that, if, unhappily, no solution is provided within that framework, only then should policies developed outside of that sphere come into operation.
Mr. Noble, in the article to which I have referred, suggests that Australia must turn to the United States of America to ensure its safety in the Pacific. Every Australian will agree that the closest and most friendly relations between the United States of America and Australia should be continued and strengthened, and that arrangements should be made with the United States of America for the joint use by both countries of facilities for Pacific defence. But it appears that some people who speak in the strain adopted by Mr. Noble overlook completely the part which Australia played in tie recent Pacific war in defending the United States of America. “Without the use of the Australian continent, its ports, industries, food, fighting equipment and military and industrial man-power, the conquest of Japan might have taken several years longer, and the burdens thus thrown upon the American people would have been correspondingly heavier and their losses correspondingly greater, because at that time the atomic bomb had not been developed and the course of its development was unpredictable. Mr. Noble’s remarks, however, should not necessarily be taken to represent wellinformed American opinion, because there is ample evidence that wellinformed American opinion disagrees substantially with the views he put forward. Within the last few days a very different commentary has come from another American student of our affairs, Professor Levi, of Minnesota, who, in his book American-Australian Relations states -
The Commonwealth Government could well be proud if its diplomatic achievements, which benefited not only Australia, but also the Allied cause.
I said earlier that the development of Australian foreign policy had advanced a generation in the last five or six years, and, in my concluding remarks, I propose to point to some of the major achievements of Australian foreign policy during that time that justify that observation. First, in the planning of war strategy, Australia paid a major part in securing the formation of the Pacific War Council in 1942, and in mapping an overall plan for the Pacific campaign with Australia as a base. Secondly, in the sphere of the United Nations’ activities, possibly the greatest contribution of any power at the San Francisco conference in securing improvement of the Dumbarton Oaks draft for the United Nation.charter was made by Australia. Without the amendments pressed by Australia, the right of veto by the five big powers would have been even restrictive, discussion by the General Assembly could have been virtually gagged at the will of the Security Council, and the need for economic measures, such as steps to achieve full employment in all countries, would never* have been adequately recognized. As a result of its efforts, Australia is now acknowledged abroad as a consistent and outspoken upholder of democratic principles and practices in international relations. Thirdly, in the sphere of British Commonwealth co-operation, Australia took the initiative in the formation of the first practical alliance between two British Commonwealth countries, covering joint defence measures, economic cooperation, consultation on civil aviation and joint initiative in matters of territorial and native welfare in the Pacific. The close co-operation in the Pacific between Australia and other British countries is also seen in Australian participation in the occupation of Japan, and in the willingness of Australia to assume an increasing share of the United Kingdom’s burden of responsibility. Fourthly, in the sphere of post-war settlements, Australia’s claims to be consulted regarding the European peace treaties, although they have not been recognized to the degree merited by Australia’s part as an active belligerent, have prepared other countries for the even stronger claims Australia is making to participate as a principal party in the peace treaty with J apan. Finally, in the sphere of regional collaboration and development, Australia has with New Zealand, led the way in achieving a six-power agreement for advancing native welfare in the South Pacific. The agreement will do much to assist in the promotion of the welfare of native races in that area.
I was glad to hear the Minister for External Affairs, in an answer to a question in this House the other day, reassert the essentiality of the White Australia policy, not that to any well-informed person there was any need for reassertion of that policy, but, because of the doubts and confusion, which I believe have been deliberately created, it was as well Australia’s adherence to the policy of a white Australia should be clearly restated. The successful maintenance of a white Australia must depend either on the consent and agreement of the other nations or the force of our own arms. That being so, it is entirely wrong that that very necessary policy should he put forward, as it sometimes has been, as an arrogant banner of racial superiority. It is the task of Ausralia’s diplomatic representatives to make it clear that nothing offensive is contained in that policy to the peoples of other nations, the pigments of whose skins differ from ours. Any claim to superiority of our civilization over theirs’ is denied by history, especially the history of recent years. We need to learn from them. I believe that in the development of a great white nation on this continent we shall do everything to establish most friendly relations with the new nations rising in the seas around us with a keen sense of their own nationalities. Everything ought to be done to promote trade with them and to enable their students, tourists and businessmen to come here as occasion requires.
.- Debates on foreign affairs enable us to lift our eyes from and take our voices out of the domestic arena and study -the larger issues and get some perspective. My use of the word “ perspective “ reminds me of the speech made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Eraser ). I agree with a lot of what he said, but I feel that he has lost perspective. We must be careful, as a young small nation that has achieved a great deal, not to claim too much. In international politics we must take care not to be party-minded. The strength of the United Kingdom’s foreign policy is its continuity. Although the Socialist party is in power in Great Britain to-day, its foreign policy is very much on the same lines as that of its predecessors, the National Government, and, before that, the Conservative and Liberal party governments. We should endeavour to have continuity in our foreign policy. Th, honorable member referred to our foreign policy as if it started five years ago. He referred to progress of a decade in five years. I think he let his enthusiasm for his legal leader run away with him. The White Australia policy, to which the honorable gentleman referred, goes back to federation. There have been imperial conferences that have solved great issues, for Australia, including our federation, and we have a reputable record in foreign affairs. So let us get things into perspective. In 1943, I suggested the formation of a foreign affairs committee. 1 had come back to this Parliament after frequent attendances in the House of Commons, where I listened to the momentous statements of Mr. Winston Churchill during the war. Foreign affairs were debated frequently. When I returned here I was amazed at the isolation of honorable members from world affairs and at the pettifogging subjects that occupied them. We ought to have a foreign affairs committee representative of all parties. The sooner that is done the better. We do not want a one-man-band. Australia cannot accept responsibility for the ideas of one man alone. Honorable members may praise the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) for his victories here and his victories there, but it would be infinitely better if a joint opinion were issuing from this country on matters of great moment. There must be a greater measure of unity and collaboration in this country in regard to Australia’s part in world affairs. The world picture to-day is not a happy one. Even allowing for the aftermath of war, war is not just the affair of the contenders. Its reverberations are felt to the uttermost ends of the earth, and the misery, starvation and despair throughout Europe to-day cannot be ignored. Although we in this happy land made our sacrifices of manhood, the great majority of our people know nothing of the ravages of war, and our endeavour should be to play a bigger part in the solving of some of the world’s most pressing problems. We have discussed some of them from time to time, but, unfortunately, this subject does not arise often enough. This morning, an honorable member asked a question relating to the immigration to this country of Polish nationals who fought with .the Allies. I support that proposal. Poland has been massacred as a nation. Not only Germany, but also Russia invaded Poland. It is true that Russia became our ally when it was invaded by Germany, but the Poles have not regained their sovereignty. I realize that it is difficult to help Poland because of its geographical position, but at least we can help those Polish citizens who fought with the Allies so magnificently in Italy, Holland, and on other battlefronts. The Poles, too, provided many splendid squadrons of the Royal Air Force. To-day, there are hundreds of thousands of these men who cannot return to Poland because the Polish Government, which is under the domination of Russia, will not permit them to do so. If other honorable members had had an opportunity to talk with some of these Poles, as I have, they would know just what is going on. One of the latest opinions on Poland is that of Rebecca West, a well-known American journalist who has travelled extensively. In an article in the New York Leader of the 14th December last, she said - lt is difficult to see how we can hope for international order, unless we retain our national prejudice against persons who are capable of invading another country, much too weak and unprepared to do it any harm, and packing its nationals into cattle-trucks, taking care to break up most families, and transporting them to murderous servitude in a remote and unfriendly land.
That is what is happening. Russia has pushed further into Poland, causing Poland to push further into Germany, and therein lies one of the greatest, tragedies of all time. Thousands of people have been forced into slavery and bondage.
Yugoslavia, too, a nation of gallant and brave people, has come under Russian influence and has had to endure a state of civil war. Under the regime of Marshal Tito, a great soldier, but an unscrupulous man reared in the Russian ideology, hundreds of liberal-minded Yugoslavs have been executed. Greece, too, is in a desperate position. In the early days of the war, the Greeks fought magnificently and bore the first brunt of the invasion by the Italians and Germans. Later they were assisted by British and Australian troops. But the end of the war has not brought peace to the Greek people, because they have had to fight constantly against Russia-inspired Bulgarian and Yugoslav guerrillas operating on the Greek borders. Anybody who has lived in Bulgaria, Greece or Russia, knows what this border warfare means and how cheap human life is. In this land we find it difficult to understand these things, but the Greeks, with their narrow stretch of country, are vulnerable to any force pressing into Macedonia. Britain has helped Greece to the limit, but has found the strain too great. Australia too has done a magnificent job there through Australian Red Cross units, and the Greeks will bear us eternal gratitude; but we are inclined to forget what is going on in those lands.
Britain has poured money into Greece and America has now come to the rescue, and done something of the greatest importance by promising help to both Greece and Turkey. Turkey, still living in the middle ages, has been endeavouring to modernize itself. It is being pressed by Russia to make way through the Bosphorus to the Mediterranean. The Russians have threatened the Turks, and the Turks have declared that they will fight. “War has been very close. Now, however, America has sent portion of its fleet to the Mediterranean on manoeuvres and is assisting also by providing much-needed foodstuffs to help Turkey withstand the pressure from a country which, whatever one may think of its individuals, definitely has an aggressive expansionist policy. “We should keep up to date in Russian affairs. During the war, the Soviet announced the disbanding of the Comintern. It assured the Allies that its plans for Sovietizing the world had been abandoned, but we have heard since from Russians like Gouzenko that that announcement was made only to lull the allies into a false sense of security. I commend to honorable members a book, I Chose Freedom by a Russian called Kravchenko, in which he states -
Stalin welcomes anything that will drive a wedge between Britain and America. Britain and the United States must devote themselves to the unselfish fight for the realization of the principles of the Atlantic Charter. They must be the moral rallying point of the other peoples and governments of the United Nations; they must be the pioneers in the building of the peace. They must not allow any forces, internal or foreign, any individual interests to destroy their needed unity. For in it lies the only hope of a better future foi the peoples of the world.
That is a call to us. “We must not lose perspective, and we must not forget that there would be a substantial measure of peace throughout the world to-day were it not for the looming menace of Russia. Russia will not give political freedom to its own people, nor will it permit visitors to the Soviet to travel as they wish. The Foreign Ministers are in conference at Moscow now, but how much of the real Russia will they see? Recently, an interesting article appeared in the London Daily Telegraph by a correspondent who has travelled around Russia, and the extract that I propose to quote will emphasize to Australians, so many of whom have the idea that the Russians are a progressive and up-to-date nation, that as anybody who knew Russia in the Czarist days and has . visited it since knows, one tyranny has merely been changed for another, which possibly is worse than the first.. The Daily Telegraph’s correspondent, Hugh Chevins states -
Material blots, such as appalling overcrowding and shabby clothing, are disturbing, but worst of all, the objective visitor sees that most hateful of all forms of human government - a dictatorship, not by the proletariat, but by a remote group of men whose power derives from the police state which they have created.
We should ponder upon these words. We are experiencing the same thing in this country. There is a waterfront strike in Sydney, and a general strike threatens in Melbourne. These moves are dominated by Communists. The quotation proceeds -
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is a Police State and life in a Police State is restricted and uneasy bereft of human dignity and freedom.
These figures will appal honorable members -
The number o£ police never stops growing. To-day it is reliably estimated there are 7,000,000 members of the police in ite various forms - secret, service, crime investigation, uniformed, and non-uniformed, traffic control guards of the hierarchy, jailers and prison camp wardens - out of a population of about 19,000,000.
It gives a horrifying story of what is happening, not in the days of the Inquisition or in the dark ages, but at the present time within the boundaries of a great nation, which is a signatory to the charter of the United Nations, and which so often dominates its councils. I have been gratified that, recently, the Minister for External Affairs has crossed swords with Mr. Molotov, Mr. Gromyko and other gentlemen who come to the United Nations with their hob nail boots to trample on every opinion and idea. We must be alive to the position and realize that international suspicions and hatreds are one of the greatest obstacles to world peace, equanimity, justice and tolerance.
The British have decided to leave India. I was disappointed to. hear one honorable member opposite remark a few days ago that we must “ give up holding India by force and get out of India “. Great Britain took India by force from less worthy people, drove out the French and held India by force. Native rulers welcomed the British ideas of tolerance, justice and good order. It was my privilege to be attached to the Indian Army during World War 1., and 1 noticed that the men of the fighting forces of India had a deep affection for their British officers. I was a member of an Australian unit with the Indian Army at the time. Honorable members seem to forget that there have never been more than 200,000 British people at any one time among 350,000,000 Indians. ‘Where is the force and despotism? The Eastern peoples saw in this most advanced Western nation all that they regarded as idealistic in the way of fairness. If anything characterizes the British, it is their fairness, tolerance and democratic government which prevents all kinds of tyranny. For years Great Britain has offered selfgovernment to India. During World War II., Sir Stafford Cripps conveyed such a message to the Indians, but they themselves could not agree upon a form of government. The cleavage between the Hindus and the Moslems is indeed great. Now, Great Britain has given notice of its intention to leave India. I believe that the evacuation, as it were, should be spread over three or four years instead of sixteen months. If that were done, the difficulties of the Indians might be somewhat diminished. Many people do not realize the magnitude of the conflict. According to my estimate, the casualties in civil conflict in India equal or possibly exceed all the casualties in the Indian Mutiny in 1857. Near Calcutta itself recently, 10,000 Hindus and 15,000 Moslems have been killed or injured. Throughout the Punjab, villages are burning, and tiny groups of heroic British soldiers are saving the lives of thousands of natives. These facts should be stated sometimes in favour of the British in India because many people, particularly Americans, have misunderstood the Indian situation. They do not know that Great Britain has done a magnificent job there. True, the British have not been able to uplift all the people.
Caste differences and the great cleavages between them have prevented them from being brought to the stage of Westerncivilization; but they are immeasurably happier than are most other Asiatic peoples. After all the treasure and blood that has been poured out in India by Great Britain for centuries,, civil war apparently will be the result of the British decision to leave India. Civil war is already smouldering, and might burst into name when the Moslems fall upon the Hindus.
Civil war in India will present Russia with a great opportunity on the border, because Afghanistan will be only a minor obstacle if the Soviet decides to march in and create greater chaos. The outlook is not very bright, and I do not need to paint it more grimly than it is. However, the situation throws a responsibility upon us, and compels us to look at the Indian Ocean which washes the shores of Western Australia. India, with selfgovernment, might decide to detach itself from the British Empire, and expand its industries. At Cawnpore, one factory is now manufacturing 40,000 pairs of boots a day. If this agricultural country becomes industrialized, Australia will have serious problems. Potentially hostile countries lie athwart our communications with Europe. Trouble has already broken out between the French and the IndoChinese. Almost on our doorstep the Indonesian trouble still remains unsolved. Thousands of natives in Java are in a most pathetic and tragic position. They are dying of starvation, within a day’s flight of Australia, because they are unable to obtain succour from us. This country could provide urgently needed ambulances and medical supplies, but the unruly waterside workers in Sydney have held up Dutch relief ships for more than a year. These are some of the problems of foreign affairs which we must study.
The Minister for External Affairs agreed to a trusteeship for New Guinea, which will be thrown into the international pool. Whilst I believe in international co-operation, I point out that the United States of America has shown its independence in this regard. The Caroline and Marshall Islands, which the Americans captured from the Japanese, will remain American territory, and will not be under a trusteeship. New Guinea, which has been British territory for 27 years, and partly Commonwealth territory since 1908, is to be thrown into the international pool, and the contiguous piece, namely, Papua, is to remain a territory of the Commonwealth. That position is most unsatisfactory. We have a responsibility to the native peoples, and we can do excellent work on their behalf. Whoever agreed that New Guinea should become a responsibility of the international organization did not do Australia a service.
The unsettled conditions in Europe, Asia, and the Pacific must bring home to us our great defence responsibilities. Our need for an increase of population is urgent. Australia has not adequately provided for its defence. I ask: What, has this socialist Government done to promote our national defence? For years before the outbreak of World War II., it opposed the defence vote in successive budgets, and any proposal for the construction of warships and the training of troops. Cabinet now includes a Minister for Defence, a Minister for the Army, a Minister for the Navy, a Minister for Air, and a Minister for Munitions. What do they do? They are only “ salvage foremen “, because we have practically no defence forces. There is not a battalion of troops that could be mobilized in an emergency. There are no squadrons, either fighter or bomber, in Australia. It is true that we have three efficient squadrons in Japan in the fighter wing, and a brigade of infantry, with auxiliary units, but what has the Government done to increase and train our forces? Whilst we hope that a third world war will never occur, certain nations are not so concerned. Within their boundaries, human life is cheap. Wars are now in progress in the Balkans, Indo-China and China itself. Are we to shut our eyes in this Pacific fool’s paradise, pretend that war might not happen again, and, in the emergency, expect our young men to make up for the deficiencies of politicians? Surely Cabinet can devote a little of its time, when it is not immersed in industrial problems, to the consideration of defence ! Great Britain, despite its immense commitments, food problems, and the ravages of floods, has kept 1,250,000 troops in occupation in other countries. We could have assisted toy providing occupation troops in Java and Singapore.
Great Britain has introduced a system of compulsory training under which young men will serve for eighteen months in the armed forces and then will be transferred to the reserve for a period of years. That is very much like the Australian system of years ago, which both Liberal and Labour parties supported. The time may not be opportune to lay down specific details, of Australian defence requirements, but the Government will have the chance to make definite plans later this year when Lord Montgomery visits Australia. With the assistance of Lord Montgomery and some of our own outstanding service leaders, it should have little difficulty in preparing appropriate plans. A statement of the Government’s intentions is overdue. Honorable members who ask questions in this House regarding the future of the Royal Australian Air Force always receive nebulous answers. An inspired statement was published in the Melbourne Sun this week to the effect that Australia is to have an establishment of six Air Force squadrons. There were some 500 squadrons in the Royal Air Force during the war. Australia had twelve squadrons almost ready for operational service at the outbreak of the war, and that establishment was inadequate. Our air strength before the war was never up to the standard considered to be necessary by anybody with knowledge of aviation developments. Instead of settling this problem, the Government merely beats the air in this vocal hothouse and achieves nothing, as it did during the war. Endless talk without action is futile. Australia must stand side by side with Great Britain at all times. Instead of sending peripatetic Ministers abroad to pat Russia on the back, and to take sides with this nation or the other nation, we should collaborate with our own people. The Government should confer on the subject of defence with the Government of the United Kingdom. The British people are courteous and would gladly invite Australia to participate in Empire defence discussions. We should work with the British people for the good of the world. The greatest good that has ever come to the world has resulted from the activities of the British Empire, which has been a far more successful organization for world peace and happiness than the former League of Nations or the present United Nations. Unfortunately, although Great Britain has emerged victorious from two world wars, its power is dwindling to-day. Australia must not step in with the liquidators; it should stand by the side of Great Britain and support it to the full against nations that are anxious to drag it down.
I hope that the Government will give more attention to the requirements of defence in future than it has done up to date. It should look ahead and consider whether ten years from now we may not be involved in another war. It is unwise to ignore warnings of future conflict. Those of us who, in 1937, advocated greater measures for defence, such as compulsory training, were labelled by honorable members opposite as sabre rattlers and jingoes, but the fears which we expressed proved to be well founded. We do not want any flag flapping or provocative speech making, but we should survey our potential strength, look at the world situation, and implement a policy appropriate to our strength, adhering fast to the principles of Empire unity and regional co-operation. Regional cooperation to-day does not imply the making of such pettifogging pacts as that known as the Anzac Pact. The real Anzac Pact ,vas cemented at Gallipoli; the paper defence pact has never mattered a hoot. There should be a watertight pact for mutual support between Empire countries. We should also have regional agreements with the great United States of America, which, after all, is an offshoot of our own Mother Country. This would enable us to take a prominent part in world affairs instead of being on the defensive against second-rate countries which are jealous of the preeminence of the Anglo-Saxon race. We should not take these rival nations as a model. We should bind ourselves to Great Britain in international affairs. I welcome the opportunities afforded to us to discuss international affairs. The Government should hold such debates often. Out of our speeches may come suggestions for the greater good of our own country and for the greater good of the world aa a whole.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Lang) adjourned.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I inform honorable members that this House will re-assemble next Tuesday afternoon. It is not intended that the House should meet on the following morning. Some time ago, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) and the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Davidson) asked to be informed of the sitting arrangements during the week in which Anzac Day falls. Their request has been considered, and it has been decided that that week the House shall meet on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and adjourn about 3 p.m. on Thursday. This will enable honorable members from nearby electorates to return to their constituencies on Anzac Day if they wish to do so.’ I am sure also that party whips will do what they can to assist other honorable members who may wish to travel to distant parts of the Commonwealth for Anzac Day Commemoration services.
– I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister’s announcement regarding sitting arrangements of the House next week; but I should also like to be informed about the sitting arrangements after the Easter recess. It appears that the Queensland State elections will be held on the 3rd May and the New South Wales State elections about the same time. Apparently many members, not including myself, desire to take part in the election campaigns. I hope that this House will remain in recess during those campaigns so that all Commonwealth Ministers may take part in them, with consequent beneficial results to the nation. In view of what happened in the South Australian elections after the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers) and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) took part in the campaign, and in Western Australia after the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) and the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) took part in that campaign, I sincerely hope that all Ministers will be despatched to Queensland and New South Wales, for the elections in those States. This would certainly help the anti-Labour parties. I hope that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) will be gracious enough to let these Ministers loose in. these campaigns. I am sure that, if he did so, he would notice beneficial results at the next meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers.
.- I raise a matter which, on the surface, may appear to be of little importance, but which may have serious consequences. The fruit canning industry in the Goulburn Valley is in danger of experiencing another setback after having successfully recovered from the effects of the recent sugar debacle. I have received an urgent telegram from representatives of two great co-operative canneries in the Goulburn Valley advising me that the canneries are likely to be confronted in the near future with a situation which will bring canning to a cessation because of the lack of solder. The telegram states, in effect, that supplies of tin concentrates from Tasmania are at present aboard ship in Sydney Harbour, but cannot be unloaded because of the wharf dispute. Apparently the industry has been carrying on so close to the edge of the precipice that, even if the tin concentrates could be delivered immediately to the smelters, solder would not be available before the 14th April. What I believe to be the principal can manufacturing company in Victoria has informed the canneries that unless it can procure supplies of solder it will not be able to continue supplies of cans to the canneries after the 14th April. That will be close to the middle of the peach-packing season. I have brought this matter to the notice of the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley), and have conveyed to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) the nature of the representations that I have made to his colleague. I .raise the matter, not in criticism of the Government, but merely with a view to impressing on it as forcibly as I can the very serious consequences that will ensue if the situation develops as the canneries anticipate that it will. I have no doubt that the Government is endeavouring to bring to an end the trouble on the waterfront in Sydney. Probably the need for supplies of solder will not have any effect in the direction of achieving that purpose. I merely request that when the trouble on the Sydney waterfront has been settled, the Government will ensure that the highest priority shall be allotted to the unloading of tin concentrates and their delivery to the smelters. I also ask the Government to consider urgently and seriously the possibility of securing alternative supplies of tin concentrates, solder, or whatever other materials may be necessary to prevent the development of the crisis which appears to be in prospect.
– I refer to the matter of shipping to King Island. The position generally in relation to shipping is well known to everybody. Probably, the matter of shipping to King Island is well known to most members of the Government. Certainly, the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) is well aware of it. Frequently, there is a shortage of essential goods on King Island because of the lack of an adequate shipping service. On more than one occasion, I have had to make urgent representations to the Minister to have special arrangements instituted. The point that I bring urgently to the notice of the Government now is the position of the scheelite company on King Island. This is an industry of the utmost importance. Because of its nature, scheelite is one of the most important strategic metals in the world. On King Island there is the richest and largest deposit of scheelite in the world, and it is the most easily worked.
– The honorable member informed me of all those facts in a personal interview some time ago.
– But I have not so far mentioned that the industry is conducting its operations almost on the basis of obtaining supplies of fuel from week to week. The matter is of the most extreme urgency to the whole of Australia. The Prime Minister is well acquainted with the position in regard to dollar exchange, which is involved in it; therefore I shall not go into that aspect at the moment. Various schemes have been suggested, which I shall not bring to notice now. But I do impress on the Prime Minister that, although special shipments of petrol to the island are frequently arranged, they have to be distributed among all the people on the island and do not - nor should they - go to this industry alone. I am assured by the managing director of the company that it is conducting its operations at present practically on the basis of a weekly reserve. I am confident that the Prime Minister will be seized of the urgency of building up a reserve so as to keep the industry in a fairly stable condition.
– I bring to the notice of the Government a matter which I regard as of outstanding importance, namely, the acute shortage of barbed, plain and fencing wire, galvanized iron and nails, in southern Queensland. The circumstances are abnormal, because during January and February of this year a series of disastrous floods were experienced in those districts. At one centre in southern Queensland as much as 51 inches of rain fell during one week-end, the result being that tens of thousands of square miles of the best agricultural, dairying and grazing country became inundated. Rivers overflowed their banks, and such a volume of water was released that thousands of miles of fencing was swept away. A large area of this country is now little more than of the nature of a public common. There is no possibility of owners caring for their dairying or grazing stock, and they will be helpless unless the Government does more than it has done so far to provide barbed and plain wire and galvanized iron. Early in January last, I despatched a number of wires to Senator Courtice, as the Minister for Trade and Customs and a Queensland representative. One message read -
Telephone communications from local authorities dairymen’s organizations have been received by me in great numbers seeking immediate supply of miles barbed, plain wire, galvanized iron nails, &c., to replace completely destroyed miles of fences outbuildings and farms in my electorate. Accordingly would be grateful if you could arrange for officer of Supply Department to ascertain requirements areas of Queensland devastated by flood and indicate what special steps can be taken to speed up production ensure these urgent requirements will be made available. Destruction following floods so abnormal that no normal procedure is adequate and special efforts should be made to step up production to ensure requirements available urgently.
I also addressed letters in similar terms to the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon), from whom I received this reply -
Reference representations by you to Senator B. Courtice regarding storm damage in your electorate. Co-ordinator-General’s Office, Brisbane, which is State control authority Queensland responsible ascertaining damage caused by flood and Baldwin of that office and Commonwealth Controller have already arranged for special allocation Queensland to repair flood damage. Chief difficulty in making supplies available will be shipping and steps have been taken with view forwarding considerable quantities by rail with Commonwealth subsidizing extra freight. Your suggestion regarding special efforts increase production noted but man-power is sole limiting factor to increasing production in items required. Arrangements made between Commonwealth Controller and State Control Authority will ensure supplies repair damage subject to availability of transport and difficulty in this now accentuated by wharf trouble Newcastle.
Those representations were made three months ago. It is of no use the Minister promising to take special steps if he does not do anything. In spite of the setting up of local authorities and cooperating with primary producers’ organizations in the electorate, and notwithstanding the fact that they have followed the directions of the Minister for Works and Housing to-day, only a decimal percentage of the barbed and plain wire, galvanized iron, wire netting and nails required has been made available.
A recent communication I received from the honorary secretary of the Southwestern Division of Queensland Graziers Association pointed out that of the quantity of wire and wire netting approved for supply to one firm, Messrs. Enright Proprietary Limited of Beaudesert, only a fraction had been received. The supply of 620 coils of barbed wire and 172 coils of plain wire was approved, but only 130 and 32 coils respectively were received. The same applies to all the other towns in this flood-devastated area. The people in this district believe that the Government is not doing anything to relieve their plight, and that the prospect is hopeless. They are feeling frustrated. They are being asked by the Government to increase their production, but that is impossible in the absence of these materials. Three months ago, the Minister promised to take special steps to provide the material required. It is true that the Minister sent a prompt reply to my representations, but although that telegram raised some hopes nothing materialized. I ask that the Minister take immediate action in the matter, and inform honorable members of what is being done.
.- The department made a special allocation to the honorable member’s electorate, but there is an acute shortage of these materials throughout Australia. A big bush fire in Western Australia destroyed thousands of fence posts and hundreds of miles of fencing. The same thing happened in Victoria, so that the shortage is general throughout Australia. The actual distribution is made by the controller in each State.
– It is utterly futile for the Minister to make apologies. Will he look into this matter over the week-end and make a statement in the House on Tuesday?
.- I wish to explain a question that I asked of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) in connexion with the dried fruits industry earlier to-day. When I mentioned “ stabilization of the dried fruits industry “ I meant “ continued stabilization “. Possibly that omission was misleading. The growers in the dried fruits areas are alarmed at the news that there may be some sacrifice of Empire preference, and they think it is better for them to be prepared now if any change is likely to be made. Is the Minister prepared to discuss this matter at some future date with the growers’ representatives? What does the Government offer to the dried fruits industry in the event of it agreeing to forgo the benefit of some of the preferential tariff rates that the industry now enjoys?
– From the way in which the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) worded his question, I thought he was referring to stabilization schemes within Australia. As the honorable gentleman knows, the industry is highly organized. Sis question this afternoon indicates that be is concerned with the future security of the industry insofar as it may be affected by any agreements reached at the international trade conference. Both the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) have made statements in this House regarding the conference to be held at Geneva and the action which the Government proposes to take with regard to any agreements reached there. The honorable member wanted to know what the Government was offering growers in the event of it agreeing to forego the benefit of some preferential tariff. At the moment that question does not arise. . The plain fact is that although the Government will be represented at this conference no agreement reached there can be implemented until it has been ratified by this Parliament.
The Government is fully seized of the importance of this industry, not only to the growers, but also to the economy of Australia, and has arranged that Mr. Malloch, of the Dried Fruits Export Control Board, who has a thorough knowledge of the industry, shall go to Geneva and be available for consultation in order that the interests of dried fruit growers may be adequately safeguarded.
With regard to the question asked by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) concerning canning materials, I have discussed the matter with officers of the Department of Supply and Shipping and suggested to them that it might be possible to obtain the metals required for the manufacture of solder from some source not yet explored. In addition, I suggest that efforts should be made to discover stocks of solder at present unknown to the industry. I am sure that the Minister for Supply and Shipping will do his best to help, and officers of my department have been instructed to co-operate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 31.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes - Five Dock, New South Wales.
Native Administration Ordinance - Regulation.
Ordinance - 1946 - No. 2 - Registration of Australian Patents.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance - 1947 - No. 1 - Liquor Poll.
House adjourned at 4.5 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable gentleman’s questions are as follows : - 1-4. The Commonwealth-State housing agreement is for a period of ten years from November, 1945. Under the scheme the Commonwealth supplies funds on loan and the States, who are the principals, are required to pay back advances over a period of 53 years. The moneys advanced by the Commonwealth up to 31st December, 1940, are £12,370,000 in respect of 0,301 houses completed and 7,056 houses under construction, a total of 13,357 completed or under construction. The general intention in the early years of the agreement was that governmentsponsored and private housing should be in the ratio of approximately 50-50 but recent experience indicates that that ratio may not be attained. It is not possible at this stage to state how many houses will be built during the calendar years 1947 and 1948 as firm quotas have so far only been set down until J une, 1947. The objective for the Commonwealth for the year 1946-1947, however, was 42,000 dwellings commenced - both government and private, reaching a commencing rate in the last quarter of the year of 50,000 dwellings a year. The commencing quota for each State housing authority for 1946-47 is -
A similar quota applied to each State in respect of private enterprise. It is anticipated that the expenditure under the CommonwealthState housing agreement will reach £60,000,000 to £80,000,000 in the next ten years.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 March 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1947/19470321_reps_18_190/>.