House of Representatives
18 April 1947

18th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. J.. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 .a.m., And read prayers.

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Australian Authors and Artists


– Some time ago, the Prime Minister promised to make a further inquiry relative to the tax imposed on the income’ of Australian authors who had succeeded in winning prizes or obtaining considerable sums in the one year. Another victim of the present practice is. the Australian aboriginal artist, Albert Namatjira, who has no citizen’s rights and no electoral vote, yet, L understand,- has .been taxed on some

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Commonwealth Representation at Commemorative Services.-


– In view of the fact that the Prime Minister has requested ex-servicemen’s organizations and religious bodies in the States fittingly to observe the commemoration of Anzac Day ‘ this year, has the right honorable gentleman yet appointed a representative of the Commonwealth Government to attend the commemoration services in Perth? If he has, who is to be the representative? Will the right honorable gentleman supply the Premier’s Department and the president of the ex-servicemen’s organizations in Perth with the name of the Commonwealth representative?


– Last week, I asked the secretary to my department to. ascertain who ‘would be available in the various capital cities to represent the Commonwealth Government at the- Anzac Day commemorative services. Already, arrangements have been made for the Commonwealth to be represented in some of the capital cities, and similar arrangements will be made in Perth. I am not able to state precisely at’ the moment who the Commonwealth representative will be in Perth, but I shall let the honorable member know immediately he has been selected.


Parliamentary Duties.


– I rise to make a personal explanation, in reply to a reflection thaihas been cast on me. Last night, in the course of the debate on the Common wealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) said that I “had been away from this House for months and months and months “. This statement conveyed the impression thatI had been wandering about the country, and had not been attending to my parliamentary duties in this House. I point out that the reason for my absence was that a large international friendly society -the Independent Order of Oddfellows - desired that a representative of Australasia should attend an international conference of that body that was to be held to consider the re-organization and extension of its humanitarian activities in the devastated countries of Europe. The fundamental principles of that organization are the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of men and the fraternal and social relations of all peoples. At the unanimous request of members of the organization in Australasia to me as the head of the order in Australia, I approached the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), and he agreed that it would be proper for me to represent Australasia at an international conference of that kind. Accordingly, I went to the United States of America for that purpose. Because of shipping difficulties I had opportunities, both before and after the conference, to address many meetings of business men and others. I regarded those occasions as valuable opportunities to serve Australia. My trip was undertaken at no cost to the Commonwealth, as my expenses were borne by the society and myself.

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British Migrants - SS. “ Miss “ : Reporters andphotographers.


– In the absence from the chamber of the Minister for Immigration I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact, as announced in the press to-day, that the British Government has allocated three troopships to bring British migrants to Australia. If so, is it correct that the number of British migrants to reach Australia this year is estimated at 6,900, and about double that number in the following year ? Has the Prime Minister seen a suggestion made by Lord Idaesleigh that in the selection of migrants Australia should be prepared to accept a proportion of underprivileged children from Britain? Does the right honorable gentleman consider that the physical standard of migrants should be relaxed sufficiently to enable that proposal to be adopted?


– As the Minister for Immigration has explained to the House on other occasions, the Government has been negotiating with the authorities in Britain,with a view to obtaining additional shipping to bring migrants to Australia. Several proposals in respect of large vessels were submitted to the British Government, . but because of its commitments in other directions, that Government was unable to agree to our requests. It has however, consented to the chartering of three vessels, and it is hoped that at a later stage larger ships will also be made available. The figures mentioned by the honorable member as to the number of migrants to be brought to Australia’ are approximately correct. I am not familiar with the details of the proposal to bring undernourished children from Britain to Australia, but I know that the Minister for Immigration has been making inquiries in that direction. I shall obtain the information asked for by the honorable member and supply it to him.


– Has the Minister for Immigration seen the statement in this morning’s press attributed to Mr. Bottomley, British Under Secretary for the Dominions, that the estimated number of assisted passages to Australia from Great Britain this year will amount to 3,500 ? Has the honorable gentleman any information on the matter? Further, has he any information on the proposal I mentioned prior to the Easter adjournment that an effort should be made to secure for Australia some of the ships now leased to the British Government by the Government of the United States of America, negotiations for the purchase of which were under way? Has an agreement for the purchase of such ships yet been made .between the two governments? If so, does the honorable gentleman consider that he should visit Great Britain in order to confer with the High Commissioner for Australia and representatives of British shipping companies with a view to obtaining a greater share of available shipping to bring to Australia some of the large numbers of British migrants who are desirous of settling in this country ?

Minister for Immigration · MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP

– I read in this morning’s issue of the Canberra Times the statement to which the honorable member has referred. I have no information on the subject additional to that contained in the newspaper report. I believe that Mr. Bottomley, who made the statement in the British House of Commons, referred only to assisted passages and did not include the number of people who will l)e brought here under the free passage scheme reserved for ex-servicemen and their dependants. “We certainly hope that the number of persons to be brought here both under the free and assisted passage schemes will be many times greater than the estimate made in January last. “We are pursuing our inquiries further into the matter of chartering ships in the United States of America and other foreign ‘countries. We are in communication with the British Government on the question of the purchase of the ships it is utilizing to-day under lend-lease, but I have no additional information on that subject at present. It is through no lack of vigour, enthusiasm and energy on our part that we cannot obtain sufficient ships to bring all the people, to this country that this nation needs and is prepared to welcome. As to whether I should visit Great Britain, or anywhere else, in order ro investigate the matter of shipping, I shall consult with the Prime Minister on the subject. If he tells me I should go, as a dutiful servant I shall go.


– A suggestion was made in newspapers in “Western Australia recently that the Minister for Immigration was responsible for banning pressmen and photographers from Misr when that ship was in Fremantle. Did the Minister impose any such ban on photographers or pressmen boarding Misr in Fremantle?


– What was a suggestion in Western Australia was a charge in Eastern Australia. I did not impose any ban on anybody in Western Australia. I had no authority and no power to ban either pressmen or photographers. The first I knew of the matter was when I read a statement in the press of Western Australia that press reporters were to be banned from the ship when it arrived. I was asked my opinion as to whether press representatives should be allowed on board the vessel. I said that I saw no reason why they should not be allowed on board. T exercised no authority in the matter, but I presume that the expression of my opinion was sufficient to- guide the owners of the ship, or whoever it was who had imposed the ban. Later on the same day I was asked about the press photographers. I said that it was not my responsibility to say whether they ought to be allowed on board the ship or not. Subsequently I expressed an opinion privately to some people that the emotional scenes that take place when families are reunited should not be made the subject of press photography. I think that is a very reasonable attitude to adopt. 1 consider ‘that it is a bad thing to have every ship which brings foreign people to these shores visited by press photographers who are out to exploit what they think are scenes that will help to sell their newspapers. I assure the House - and this gives me an opportunity to answer the charges that have been made - that at no stage did I attempt to exercise any authority to ban press representatives from the ship. In any case, I had no power to give any orders on any aspect of the subject-matter of the question asked by the honorable member for Fremantle.

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– Can the Minister for Immigration say whether it is a fact that the Australian wives and children of a number of Indonesians who are returning to their own country have not been allowed to accompany their husbands?. If so, what is the reason for the refusal, and can he say when these wives can expect to rejoin their husbands?


– It is a fact that the Australian wives and children of Indonesians are not being permitted to travel with their husbands and fathers on board Manoora, which will leave on the 1st May with a number of Indonesians who are- being returned to their own country. The Indonesians are being repatriated at the expense of the Australian Government. It was originally intended to allow wives to accompany their husbands, and to take their children with them, if they so desired, but the Indonesian authorities have asked the Government not to permit any Australian women to go to Indonesia at the present time. Australian women in Indonesia are seeking financial assistance to return to Australia. In this request they are being supported by their Australian relatives. I believe that it is in the best interests of everybody that no Australian, women should be in Indonesia now.. At some time in the future they will be allowed to go there if they wish to do so, but they will have to travel1 at their own expense or at the expense of their husbands in Indonesia.

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Auxiliary Lighting Plant


– Last night, the business of the Parliament was held up for nearly 30 minutes by the failure of the Canberra electricity supply. In order to prevent this happening again,, either by accident or by deliberate interference with the supply, will you, Mr. Speaker, confer with the President of the Senateand the Minister for the Interior with a view to having an auxiliary electric lighting plant installed in Parliament House?

Mr SPEAKER (Hon J S Rosevear:

– I will discuss the matter with the President of the Senate and the Joint House Committee with- a view to deciding whether it is necessary to install an auxiliary lighting plant.

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– Is the Minister for Works and Housing. aware of the serious shortage of paint in Tasmania which, incidentally, has more weatherboard homes than any other State in proportion to the population? What action is the

Government taking to meet the situation which is steadily growing worse? What are the prospects of more . paint being made available in Tasmania, and throughout Australia, in, the near future?

Mi’. LEMMON. - I know that there is a very serious- shortage of paint throughout Australia, including Tasmania. This is due to the shortage of linseed oil, which is classed as an edible oil by the International Emergency Food Council, the authority which has made allocations of linseed oil to the importing countries. Although the requirements of Australia are between 20,000 and 22,000 tons of linseed oil a year, we have been allocated only 6,500 tons, Unfortunately, we shall not be able to obtain even the full amount of the allocation, because 5,000 tons of the 6,500 tons allocated was to come’ from India, and the authorities there are refusing to issue export permits. No official pronouncement has been made by the Indian authorities on the subject, but when we give- an importer a permit he cannot give an export licence from India. I have conferred with paint manufacturers and with Meggitt Limited, linseed oil crushers, in an attempt to overcome the difficulty. We endeavour to obtain an import licence for any importer who considers that he has a reasonable chance of getting an export licence from India. I have also been in touch with the Prices Branch which has co-operated with us in this matter on the basis that price adjustments will be made when an importer can buy on a legitimate market in India or Argentina. With respect to the possibility of immediate relief being effected, I have received “ communications within the last few days from importers which seem to strike a more optimistic note; and I have arranged for them to obtain import licences provided the price arranged is acceptable to the Prices Commissioner. .In that case, ve may be able to relieve the position in the near future.

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– I ask the Minister for Works and Housing whether house building is being held up because electrical contractors are unable to obtain conduit ? If so, is the reason, not shortage of supplies, but a delay of two months by the Prices Branch in fixing the price of the tubing? Will the Minister invite the Minister for Trade and Customs to direct the Prices Branch to expedite its decision in this matter?

Minister for Works and Housing · FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP

– I am not aware that the position is as stated by the honorable gentleman with respect to price fixation. T. have not been informed of any such delay. However, I shall take up the matter with the Minister for Trade and Customs.

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Mining of Corfu Channel


– I wish to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question with respect to the exercise of the veto by a Great Power on a. question of fact, which came before the Security Council, namely, whether Albania was, or was not, responsible for mining British ships in the Corfu Channel. I ask the Minister whether this veto action ends the matter, or whether recourse may be bad to the Permanent International Court at The Hague?

Attorney-General · BARTON, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– It is a fact, as the honorable member states, that proceedings before the Security Council with respect to this tragic incident in the Corfu Channel which resulted in the death of 44 British sailors came to an and in the Security Council with all members voting for a resolution directed against Albania,’ but with one power, through the veto, preventing any de- cision being given. The result of that was to block any decision of the Security Council. It is still open for any member of the United Nations tobring the matter before the Permanent International Court, and I understand that that is to be done. Although the Security Council did not act in the exercise of its jurisdiction, the court’s jurisdiction still remains.

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– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether the Government appointed a commission, a committee, or any other body, to investigate medical services in relation to repatriation? If so, has any report been presented to the Government ? Will the Minister lay such report on the table for the information of honorable members? If an investigation was originated by any authority other than the Government can the result of such investigation be made public ?

Minister for Repatriation · BASS, TASMANIA · ALP

– It is true that my predecessor in conjunction with the Repatriation Commission appointed a committee toadvise itupon the reorganization of the department’s medical services. The report was presented to me in November. As it was purely a departmental document prepared for the assistance and guidance of the commission it was not made public; but in response to a request from the British Medical Association I conveyed to that important organization the findings of the committee so that medical men throughout Australia, through their own organization, should be cognizant of them. Although I believe that no good purpose will be served by tabling the report, in view of the approach that has now been made by the honorable member I shall consider whether at a later stage the document should be tabled for the information of honorable members.

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Cancelled Programmes of the

Australian Broadcasting Commission


– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether two programmes of the series “ The Forum of the Air “ proposed to be broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission were cancelled under directions from the Commonwealth Government as being embarrassing to the Government? If so, what were the titles of the cancelled programmes? How was the Government informed of the character of the projected programmes, and who issued the order for their cancellation?


– The premises upon which the honorable gentleman has based his series of questions are false. The Government did not issue any order.


-It is in the press, anyway.


– That to me is evidence not of its veracity but of its falsity. . The honorable gentleman should not take too much notice of what he reads in the press without at least verifying it from, some responsible authority. The Government has no authority to direct the commission in matters of this sort and has never attempted to direct it. It is possible, of course, for someone to advise it that certain action is inadvisable. I have no evidence that that was done, but I will ask the Postmaster-General to obtain a report from the commission. All the relevant facts of the matter will be submitted to the Parliament, and I hope that the honorable member will then be satisfied.

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Victorian Metal Trades Dispute


– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether the Registrar of the Arbitration Court, Mr. Murray Stewart, in Melbourne yesterday issued summonses against the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia and the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures to show cause why they should not bc deregistered as industrial organizations. If such summonses were issued by the Registrar, was the action taken on the initiative of the Government? If so, will the Attorney-General say what new circumstances exist to-day that have not existed for several weeks to warrant such action as that?


– This matter is now before the court.

INDI, VICTORIA · CP; LCL from 1940; CP from 1943

– It is not sub judice, surely ?


– Of course it is, in the most obvious and elementary sense. The honorable member must agree that it is sub judice. It is to come before the court on Monday. All I desire to say is that the information that the honorable member has put before the House is correct. I do not intend to say anything more about it at present.

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– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether the Waterside Workers Federation has lifted the ban on Dutch ships, as it promised to do after the signing of the Cheribon Agreement. If it has not, does, the Government propose any action to allow normal trade between Australia and Indonesia?


– I understand from pressreports that both the Dutch and the Indonesian authorities are asking that, action be taken in this matter. More recent information than that I do not possess. Both the Dutch and Indonesian authorities are working together in this matter, and I hope the result will be satisfactory to all concerned.

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Loading of “ Orion


– Has the Prime Minister read in this morning’s press that the ship, Orion, carrying food for Britain, left the port of Melbourne yesterday with only two-thirds of its food cargo loaded due to an uncalled-for 24-hour stoppage of work by waterside workers? Is it a fact that the demand of 400 members of Orion’s British crew to be allowed to assist in the loading of the vessel was rejected by the waterside workers? In such- circumstances in future will arrange-, ments be made to ensure that similar offers by British crews to assist in the loading of foodstuffs shall be accepted, especially in view of the present acute shortage of food in Britain and while traitors on Australian wharfs are permitted to curtail shipments of food to Britain ? . Mr. CHIFLEY.- I have not seen the press report to which the honorable .member referred. I did hear on the wireless1 this morning that the vessel Orion left Melbourne one hour late, and I understood that some small portion of the food cargo for Britain was not loaded. I do not know the reason for this. I shall ascertain the facts and inform the honorable member of the position.

Formal Motion fob Adjournment.


– (Hon. J. S. Rosevear). - I have received from the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the

House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely: -

The desperate food shortages in Britain and the methods by which Australia could give immediate and permanent relief to the people of Britain in their distress.


.- I move -

That the House do .now adjourn.


– Is the motion supported?

Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,


– Every one in Australia to-day is asking what is wrong with Australia’s effort to help Great Britain in its hour of need. A comparison of the respective food rations that are obtainable by Australians and by the British people shows that, relatively, Australia has ample food. Undoubtedly, the Australian people earnestly desire to assist. This desire is revealed in all kinds of actions, and statements in the press. The food crisis in Great Britain is becoming worse every day. I am satisfied, from my -personal experience, that the Department of Commerce and ‘ Agriculture, which is staffed with very capable officers, has facilities which would permit of immediate action being taken to export food to the British Isles if no other Government department were blocking it. At present, shipping is being diverted to New Zealand because of the lack of refrigerated cargoes in Australia. The food crisis in Great Britain is being accentuated by the inertia of this Government, and the object of my motion is to ensure that no further delays shall occur in giving assistance. Every instinct - humanity, sympathy, goodwill, kinship, and, indeed self-preservation - urges us to take immediate action. If Great Britain fails as the result of the lack of proper nourishment, the position of Australia will immediately become more difficult and dangerous; and, indeed, Western- civilization itself might collapse. Therefore, prompt action is imperative r,o-day, not next week, next month or when, the sub-committee submits its report to Cabinet. In my medical experience, I have known of lives being lost by the postponement of an operation until .a time more suitable, not for the patient, but for the doctor.

I shall indicate the desperate plight of the people of Great Britain, and the extent of the general desire throughout Australia that they shall be immediately assisted with increased supplies of food. In addition, I propose to suggest practical methods of transporting food to Great Britain. At the moment, I am not concerned as to whether the food is paid for or is a gift. My primary concern is to keep the British people alive, because day after day their plight is becoming more parlous. An urgent ‘double need exists for government action. First, we must ov’er”come the exacerbated crisis which has occurred as the result of the disastrous blizzards, the awful winter, and the consequent floods. Secondly, we must devise a two-year plan which will enable the British people, while they .are engaged in the Herculean task of almost doubling their exports, to build up their physical condition so that their morale may be strengthened and their working capacity improved. Medical experts have informed me that even if the people are adequately fed, a period of two years will be required in, which to restore them to a normal state of health. I am satisfied that if we are able to sustain them, for that period, Great Britain will win through. According to medical experts, the people must receive during that time an additional half a pound of meat and half a pound of sugar a week, and more eggs, bacon and fats, particularly butter. Fruits, fresh, canned or dried, would provide a welcome variety to the monotonous diet. At this point, I remind honorable members that Great Britain is willing to pay higher, prices for those goods than Australia has received for a generation. Australia must help the people of Britain physically and psychologically in order to enable them to overcome, their financial difficuties, which arose out of their extraordinary efforts in World War II. Further delay is inexcusable. I am satisfied and have said since the first day of the war that Australia’s ultimate war effort will be judged by its contribution to the post-war food position, and especially to the difficult food position existing in Great’ Britain to-day. “What has happened ? The war is oyer ; Britain won the war, or was the main cause of the war being won; and yet ten months ago, last June, Britain was forced to cut its bread ration by 10 per cent. During the war Britain never needed even in its direst straits, to out its bread ration. Bread ;and vegetables were the safety valves for the people of Great ‘ Britain during the war. Yet, as I say, ten months ago it was f orced to cut the bread ration.

Two. months ago I gave notice of a motion to deal with the relief of the acute food shortage in Great Britain. That motion was not allowed to be discussed. On the 25th March the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) introduced a measure to provide financial aid to Great Britain, hut that would not be of much help insofar as food is concerned and, in any case, it has not yet been discussed. The bill still appears seventh on the noticepaper, but at the rate at which the business of the Bouse is being transacted only the’ Lord knows when we shall reach it.- A. fortnight ago the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) asked that an all-party committee be constituted to deal with this matter in a non-political way. Nothing was done, and further delay has been caused by the constitution cf a Cabinet sub-committee. During this period thirteen ships with refrigerated holds for carrying food, with an aggregate capacity of something like 6,000,000 cubic feet, were diverted from Australia to New Zealand. I am certain from my knowledge of officers of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture that they could prepare in half a day a detailed plan to deal with this situation on an entirely non-political basis, and without dislocating present Government plans for rationing, and I am confident that such a plan would command the universal support of Australians^ However, if parliamentary action is deemed necessary to implement any scheme for relief of this desperate position, I assure the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard)’ that I am prepared to cooperate with him in this matter just as I would with a medical colleague in treating a desperate ease. We should put the whole of our energy, enthusiasm and organizing capacity into the solution of this problem in order to save the gallant British people.

During the war the fight for food waged by Great Britain was an epic of self-denial, of management of resources, of organization of man-power and equipment. The British nation had to concentrate on the production of wheat because of its value as a bulk food, and on the growth of fresh vegetables and the supply of fresh milk. It imported from’ the Dominions and other countries meat, butter, concentrated foods, dried milk and so on; but the great support of the British war-time rationing system was the production of its own bread and vegetables. Yet Great Britain was forced ten months ago to cut its bread ration by 10-per cent. The potato crop, which helped a great deal to sustain the British people during war-time was almost totally destroyed by floods, and potatoes are now almost unobtainable. Altogether, the position of this victorious nation is worse than during the most acute food shortage of the war. A comparison between the respective rations of the Australian and British peoples should make every Australian who has not tried to do something to assist his British kinsmen hide . his head in shame.

During the war, an amount of ls. 4d. a head was spent on Britain’s meat ration, of which ls. 2d. was for carcass meat and 2d. for canned meat. Now. Great Britain is able to spend only ls. a head on carcass meat and 4d. on canned meat, but the cost of carcass meat is relatively higher than canned meat. Therefore, the British consumer gets less meat, and at present receives barely 1 lb. a head a week. In Australia.- we are getting roughly 3^ lb. a head a week; in fact, if one makes a calculation by dividing the total quantity of meat consumed by the population, including even babies in arms, it is apparent that we are eating about 4i lb. of meat a head a week. That position arises because of. either the inefficiency of the food coupon system or through black-marketing operations or a combination of the two. During the war years and until May, 1945, when Germany capitulated, the people of Britain were allowed 4 oz. of bacon and ham as part of their weekly ration, but since they have beaten Germany they have found that part of the price of victory lias been the reduction of their bacon- and ham ration first to 3 0’/.. a week and now to 2 oz. In Australia, of course it is unrationed. Wc are allowed 6 oz. of butter a week, and as much other fats as we can obtain from the many sources that are available. Fish is not rationed in Great Britain because it is naught in large quantities around the British Isles, but anybody who was in Britain for a considerable time during the war as I was, knows that because of the absence of fats, fish can be only boiled or grilled. It cannot be fried which is the most tasty method of cooking. The result is that the monotony of fish dishes makes them almost nauseous. Iri Great Britain, nonpriority consumers get one egg in the shell a fortnight, plus some dried eggs; here, eggs are not rationed. During the war the supply of potatoes to the British people was ample, but to-day it is uncertain. In Australia, potatoes are not rationed except by the wharf labourers who refuse to unload them from the holds of ships, or allow them to rot on the wharfs. Bread too is not rationed in this country, but in the United Kingdom, although unrationed during the war, the bread supply has now been cut by 10 per rent. During the war, the British people received S oz. of sugar a week, and this ration has not been reduced, but in Australia the ration is 3 G oz. a week.

That the food position is being faced courageously by the British Government, is evidenced by the high prices that it is willing to pay for imported foodstuffs. For instance, butter is being purchased from Denmark at 2s. 9d. (Australian) per lb. Britain is paying Argentina £1 a bushel for 18,000,000 bushels of wheat, . though the world parity is only 15s. or 16s. Voluntarily, Britain is paying 45 per cent, more for Argentina and Ausralian meat than it was paying under the contracts made with Britain on behalf of this country by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) when he was Prime Minister in 1939. Despite these huge prices, however, Australia is Jailing down on its i6b of maintaining supplies. Fu the three months, February, March find April of each of the years 1935 to 1933. Australia sent to Great Britain dairy produce and meat, which occupied 6,300,000 cubic feet of refrigerated space. In the same three months of 1947, we sent goods occupying only 1,750,000 cubic feet. Thirteen ships with cold storage space totalling 6,000,000 cubic feet have been diverted to- New Zealand. The first essential is that we. should send more sugar, meat and fats. If we can send more butter, so much the better, but unfortunately butter production has declined substantially in this country. There is no reason, however, why we should not send more sugar. In the sugar refineries of this country there’ is stored 100,000 tons of -sugar, some < which could be despatched to-morrow f chipping space were available. At leu-i 30,000 tons could be sent and still leave us sufficient to carry on, because the canecutting season starts again in July. If we were to reduce our 16 oz. ration of sugar by only 2 oz., or one-eighth, we could send an additional 40.000 tons a year to Britain, still leaving the Australian people 6 oz. a week’ more than the British ration. As I have said, the consumption of meat in this country is three or four times that of Great Britain. If we were to eat each week :) lb. of meat less per head of our population, including even babies in arms, we could send an additional 35,000 tons a year to Britain. A reduction of i lb. would make an additional 70,000 tons available. We could do something worthwhile in this regard now because during the next three to four months practically the whole of our beef for export is killed and in the spring our heavy ‘ mutton and lamb killings take place. There are four methods by which consumption in Australia could be reduced. They are supplementary, and I trust that the Government will examine them closely. The first is the discontinuance of meat rationing and ceiling prices. ‘ On the 9th February, 1946, the- Commonwealth Meat Controller,- Mr. Tonkin, said in Melbourne, that 40,000 tons of meat was lost to the black market each year, and that this would bc sufficient to feed more than 1,100,000 of Britain’s 47.000,000 people. He added that about 200 tons of meat was sold illegally each week in Melbourne and the metropolitan area. Wholesalers said that the loss in Sydney was at least as great, and that another 20,000 tons was being diverted to the black market in other cities throughout Australia. The Australian consumption of meat is one-tenth of a ton, or 224 lb. per person per annum, which i3 equal to 4£ lb. a week. If the Minister will not discontinue rationing on the ground that that would be opposed to Government policy, I urge him to reduce the ration by i lb. or £ lb. a week, and send overseas the quantity thus saved. Either of these suggestions could be supplemented by taking advantage of the generous offer that has been made by the Australia, Carlton, Usher’s, Wentworth, Adams’ and Aarons’ hotels, the Monterey, Cahill’s and Baltimore cafes, and the United Licensed Victuallers Association. The Sydney Sun, in its editorial of the 16th April, said that those hotels and cafes supported the plan that, a huge proportion of the meat normally consumed in hotels and cafes should not be brought from wholesalers one day each week, but should be diverted for shipment to Great Britain. That journal also said that the president of the Liquor Trades Council and the president of the United Licensed Victuallers Association would ask 2,000 members of that .association in New South Wales to do all in their power to assist the scheme of having a meatless day each week. [Extension of time (/ranted.] These are not party proposals. . hope that it will be possible to adopt i hem, in order that shipments of food may be made immediately to Great Britain. Their adoption would not’ cause any inconvenience in private homes. Meat is one of the most important items of diet in Great Britain. During my visit to that country I learned that, in order that heavy industries, which are the most important to Great Britain from the point of view of export, might be carried on efficiently, Mr. Bevin had had to provide that all .workmen in those industries should be entitled to a special meat meal in the middle of the day, in addition to their ordinary rations. As a medical man, I have always insisted upon the necessity for an increased, meat consumption in certain circumstances. A substantial contribution could also be made to Great Britain if the Government would facilitate the despatch of private donations through the Australian Red Cross Society, the Food for Britain Fund, by individuals, the lowering of postal rates and the shipment of parcels in refrigerated space rather than in mail bags.

The next most important requirement is fats. Unfortunately, because of the decline of butter production, we cannot increase our shipments of animal fats to Great Britain. But if the manufacture, of ice-cream and many canned milk products consumed in Australia were reduced during the winter months, the production of butter could immediately be increased by 2,000 or 8,000 tons. In addition, the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) has assured me that between 2,000 and 3,000 tons of peanut oil and peanut butter could be sent from this country. Such vegetable f&‘.s would be of immense value to Great. Britain at the present time. What ought to be done in the future can be determined only when the new season’s production can be assessed.

I” have said that action ought to be taken, not only to afford immediate assistance to Great Britain, but also to ensure a continuous increase of the food ration in that country. Even though the assistance was not very great at the’ outset, if the people of Great Britain knew that it was to be increased, the phychological effect on them would be very great, not only in connexion with their work but also in regard to their outlook towards the Empire generally and their political future in the world. When one is nervy, jumpy and worn out physically and mentally, one has not the same verve and spirit that one has when one is well fed. Therefore, every effort must be made to give to Great Britain all the assistance which lies within our power during the next two years. Quick- action by the Government is necessary. The old Latin adage, ‘“He gives twice who gives quickly “ could not be applied with greater force or truth than in this particular instance. The people of Great Britain must be told quickly what can be done. In order to stimulate production in Australia, the Government must ensure to the producers incentive prices for selected products. These prices must be based, not on the cost of production,- but on what will return reasonable and, if necessary, handsome profits to secure increased production. There would then be an assured market for the next two years. The producers should receive full export parity for all their products, whether they are sold in Australia or overseas. Shortages of man-power must be overtaken quickly. Any one who is acquainted with country conditions to-day realizes that one of the causes of the decline of production is the shortage of labour and spare parts for machinery, and the absence of electricity. The Government must also enforce the turn-around of shipping in the shortest possible time, and insist that every vessel shall leave our ports with a full load of food. Our butter production declined from 209,000 tons in 193S-39 lo 150,000 tons in 1945-46, and our exports of that commodity from 1.20,000 tons to 50,000 tons. During tha same period, our production of sugar declined from S20.000 .tons to 663.000 tons, and the reduction of our exports was correspondingly as great. Fortunately, there was an improvement of the position in regard to the production of eggs and pork, because the producers received reasonable prices for their output. Production can be increased in other directions if reasonable returns are assured. I nui convinced that if we are prepared to make some sacrifices in order that foodstuff*, particularly concentrated foods, shall be supplied in increased quantities to the people of Britain we shall not only stimulate the production of food in this country ,and relieve the situation in Britain, but we shall also assist in the development of our country, whilst at the same time our action will promote feelings of goodwill among the peoples of the world which will be of great benefit to humanity.


.- The House ‘should endorse the sentiments expressed by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). For nearly four years I have stressed the need to assist Britain by supplying greater quantities of food, and on various .occasions I have submitted practical proposals to that end. Among them was a proposal to send a. food ship as a gift to the people of Britain. Another suggestion was that a Christmas gift of food should be sent.

Indeed, the latter proposal was so reasonable that the people of Britain really expected that it would be given effect. Australia, however, did nothing, although alien Argentina made a gift of meat to Britain. Various societies, such as the Australian Bed Cross Society, organizations of exservicemen, and municipal bodies, have set an example which the Commonwealth Government could well have followed. Other Empire dominions - New Zealand Canada and South Africa - also made substantial gifts.

As my time is limited I shall not do more than refer in passing to the sad state of the British people. I have some knowledge of what they have gone through as I was in Britain for some time during the war. The position was ba.d then, but it is infinitely worse to-day. I have seen numerous letters from people in Britain expressing their thanks for parcels of food sent to them, small though those contributions really are.

I shall submit to the House some practical suggestions indicating how help can be given. In the time of the world’s greatest economic distress the Dominions of the Empire family set an example of co-operation to the world, and when, war broke out in 1939 the Dominions again got together and agreed to establish an Empire Air Force. The wonderful achievements resulting from that Empire co-operation .are now matters of history. Yet, strangely enough, there has not been an Empire conference to consider the present food crisis. In my opinion, certain action should be taken. Some time ago I suggested the appointment of a select committee, representative of all parties in both Houses, to devise ways and means of helping Great Britain in this time of need. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) supported the proposal but it was rejected. I believe that if the Ministers controlling the Departments of Trade and Customs and Commerce and Agriculture were to meet with their officers they would be able to evolve a policy which would enable goods required by the people of Britain to be exported more freely. War-time restrictions on the export of food still prevent goods from reaching the people who need it. I. suggest, too, that there should be a conference of representatives of the various food producing organizations in Australia - those concerned with the production of butter, meat, canned and dried fruits, and so on. No attempt to bring together those connected with the production of foodstuffs baa ever been made by the Government, but I believe that much good could be accomplished if such action were taken. “When the American troops were in Australia large quantities of pork and bacon were supplied to them. Those troops have left Australia, but pork and bacon are not on the list of rationed foods. Moreover, Australia has not as yet rationed milk or canned and dried fruits. Some time ago an inquiry was promised as to the availability of tinned meat, but so far as I know nothing has been done in the matter. In my opinion, tinned meat should not be available for sale in quantities in Australia. Large quantities of such foodstuffs could be sent to the people of. Great Britain. Every news session broadcast over the national network is preceded by the strains of “Advance Australia Fair “. I suggest that in future the slogan should be “Reduce Australia’s Fare “. The people of Australia could do with less food and not be harmed thereby. ‘ When- I was in Great Britain fruit was available only to young children and to men performing special duties. Night fighter pilots were allowed an orange when on duty, and an egg was a. rare item on a. British breakfast table. The armed forces of Germany failed to cause bread to be rationed in the Old Country, but since the war bread and flour have been rationed there for the first time. That drastic action is the result of failure by Australia to assist’ Great Britain as it should have done. It can be said with truth’ that the Battle of Britain is still being fought. The people there have had eight winters of, hardship. I was about to say that they had experienced eight winters of misery, but the people are not miserable. They are, however, suffering from under-nourishment. The Government should realize that their battle is Australia’s battle, and that if we are careless or unconcerned about the plight of the people of Great Britain and fail to take prompt action to assist them’ we shall not only be guilty of not honouring our obligations but wc shall also find that our callousness will recoil upon ourselves. The Government should abandon its foolish policy of treating this subject as if it were of no importance. I strongly urge that Ministers and officials of the departments concerned should meet and consider seriously what can be done. I urge also the calling of a conference of representatives of trade groups which deal in foodstuffs. Many societies and organizations in Australia are only waiting an opportunity to help. Large numbers of Australians are ashamed of the inaction of the Government in this matter, as they realize that volunteer effort is not sufficient. Action on a national scale is called for. Some State Governments have shown a desire to help, and the Commonwealth Government should get in touch with them to see what can be done. ‘ I urge the . Minister fo.r Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) to seize this opportunity to assist the people of Great Britain, and thus to show that the Government is not out of step with the people of Australia.

Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP

– There will be no strong differences ofopinion as to the desirability of exporting more food to Great Britain, as has been so ardently advocated by the right honorable member for Cowper (.Sir Earle Page), if it is practicable to do so. It is true that the people of Great. Britain are passing through a dreadful experience. Following a long and devastating war, it was inevitable that a country which for generations has been a large importer of foodstuffs should suffer hardships because of shortages of food. During recent months the situation in the Old Country has been greatly worsened, first, by dreadful blizzards and, later, by destructive floods. The result is that for a considerable -period ahead their need will ‘be great indeed. Conscious of that fact, I have taken action designed to ensure additional supplies of foodstuffs being sent to Great Britain. Prior to the disastrous blizzards and the floods which I have already mentioned, ! had announced that rice would again be made available to the Australian consuming public, but in the light of the happenings in the Old Country I submitted to Cabinet a recommendation that its decision should be reversed and that the rice available should be sent to Great Britain.

Sir Earle Page:

– Hear, hear! ifr. POLLARD.- I note the approval of the right honorable member for Cowper, but let me point out that what applies to rice applies also to sugar, wheat, flour, and other foodstuffs. The United Nations set up an organization known as the International Emergency Food Council, of which Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the Empire are members. When the council ascertains the exportable surplus of foodstuffs in member countries, it decides the ultimate destination to which they should be sent. I hope that when the council is informed that rice from Australia, New Zealand and other parts will be available for export, some part of it. at any rate, will be allocated to the unfortunate people of Great Britain. In the past, the International Emergency Food Council, with the full approval of Great Britain, has directed that the rice be sent to other places where the needs of the people were even greater than those of the people of Britain. It is our desire that the rice should go to Britain, but we cannot direct that it should. In previous years, Australia’s rice was sent, with the full approval of Great Britain, mostly to Malaya to feed the starving people there.

The right honorable member for Cowper said that Australia should export more sugar. However, it does not follow that if we exported more sugar any considerable proportion of the extra quantity would go to Great Britain. In 1946, our exportable surplus of sugar was- 89,000 tons, of which 14,000 tons went to the United Kingdom, and 22,000 tons ‘to New Zealand, the balance going to the Middle East and the Near East. It does not always follow that if we declare a greater proportion of, our products to be surplus the people of Great Britain would get them.

Mr White:

– Is there anything to prevent the making of an Empire arrangement for the disposal of surpluses?


– Great Britain is a willing party to the allocations which have been made.

Mr Abbott:

– What about the New Zealand wheat deal?


– I shall discuss the New Zealand wheat deal when it -suits me, hot when it suits the honorable member. It may interest honorable members to know that the sending of wheat to New Zealand means that less demand is made on freight space.

Mr Abbott:

– If the arrangement can be broken in the case of wheat for New Zealand, why cannot it be broken for Great Britain ? .


– We are not breaking any arrangement. There is at present meeting in London a conference at which it is hoped to draw up an international wheat agreement. This body has taken into consideration the fact that the International Emergency Food Council has approved the export of 6,000,000 bushels of wheat from Australia to New Zealand. The only concern of the honorable member for New England with the New Zealand wheat deal was the matter of price. He was not concerned with the destination of the wheat. In addition to our action in regard to rice, we proposed to make more canned fruits and vegetables available to Great Britain, on the assumption that the land devastated by recent floods in that country was particularly suitable for vegetable growing. However, it is .a remarkable thing, and one which, I think, should be made known in this. Parliament, that- the British Ministry of Food itself is more logical on the subject of more food for Britain than are members of the Opposition and certain, newspapers in this country. In the Melbourne Sun, of the 7th April, there appeared this statement, which purported to come from London -

London, Sunday. - A dramatic radio-tele phone and cable appeal to the Dominions for more food for Britain has been made by the Food Minister (Mr. Strachey). To Australia, Mr. Strachey appealed for move meat and vegetables above arrangements already made.

Inquiries have been made, and it appears clear that this was an entirely “ phoney “ statement. No cable messages or other messages of the kind had been sent. In any case, the report was at. variance with the attitude of the Government of the United Kingdom. Honorable members will recall that during the war Australia embarked upon an extensive programme for the growing and dehydrating of vegetables. Many dehydrating plants were erected, and machinery pools were established for the production of vegetables. When the war ended, there were in Australia large quantities of canned vegetables which had been bought by the Government of the United Kingdom. At this moment there are in Australia nearly 300,000 cases of canned potatoes, green peas, beetroot arid carrots. We have repeatedly cabled to the United Kingdom asking what we should do with them, and we have been requested to dispose of them in Australia at approved prices. However, in view of the floods in Great Britain, I cabled to the Australian High. Commissioner in London pointing out that this canned food was here, and that it might now be welcome in, Britain. I asked for a direction from the British Ministry of Food as to whether they would like the food to be forwarded. It was also pointed out that there were in Australia, and particularly in Tasmania, several dehydrating plants which could be put into operation again for canning potatoes if they were wanted. We have also asked, whether they would like us, even at the risk of depriving the Australian market of these products, and rightly so in the circumstances, to send raw potatoes in the case to Great Britain.

Mr Abbott:

– What about beef?


-Meat, butter and fats are among the highest priority foods. They are the products which, in fact, the people of Great Britain are most anxious to obtain. However, although GreatBritain’s food requirements were very great prior to this Government taking office, the previous Government, of which the right honorable .member foi’ Cowper was a member, did nothing to increase supplies of those foods to the Mother Country.

Sir Earle Page:

– We arranged many contracts.


– And practically for nothing so far as prices were concerned ; but, to-day, the right honorable gentleman is very chirpy about prices. However, although meat, or any other food, was not rationed prior to this Government taking office, we did at least deprive the Australian people of their maximum requirements of those foods. We introduced meat rationing on the 17th January, 1944, and we have continued it ever since that date, despite the great pressure brought to bear upon the Government by organizations representative of the producers, the meat trade and many other interests, on the ground that, following the cessation of hostilities, the need to ration meat .no longer exists in this country. I know that the control of meat prices, particularly with respect to livestock on the hoof, in conjunction with meat rationing, is a very grave problem; and I could not help but notice to-day that the right honorable member for Cowper suggested, as a partial solution of the problem of making more -meat available for export to Great Britain, that we should lift meat rationing, and, consequently, allow prices to. soar. I only wish that it was possible by that means to achieve the objective we are aiming at. The right honorable gentleman said, in effect, that by that means we could obtain additional quantities of meat for export to Great Britain; but’ I remind him that only recently the people of Melbourne were held to ransom by those interested over a dispute with respect to meat prices. What was the reason for the shortage of supplies in that case?

Mr Turnbull:

– Black marketing.


– Not entirely; meat supplies were seriously reduced as the result of a. long series of droughts. Despite our efforts to export more meat to Great Britain, and the continuation of rationing, there has not been for some time on either the Sydney or Melbourne market sufficient .meat to meet the coupon requirements of our people. In those circumstances it would be fatal to lift meat rationing. With a- shortened market, chaos would result, because the demand would greatly exceed the coupon allocation. Right through the period to which I have referred, due to the operations of certain interests, not only was the Australian consumer unable to obtain sufficient meat, but, as well, no meat was received for export to Great Britain; and when that dispute existed nothing was said by members of the Australian Country party in this Parliament about sending meat to Great Britain. However, 1 mention that merely to illustrate the fact that should we lift rationing now, the consumption of meat in Australia would inevitably increase and the quantities available for export to aid the- unfortunate people of Great Britain would be reduced. I do not believe that it is possible to achieve worth-while results by further reducing the present ration of meat and butter.

Mr McEwen:

– Why?


– Because that would lead to an intensification of black marketing, and an acute position with regard to (lie stock market. It would cause to be re-staged the stunt which was staged in Melbourne recently by some graziers’ representatives,’ who, by the way, were not condemned by honorable members opposite, in connivance with others in the meat trade in an endeavour to obtain from the Government and the people of this country higher prices for stock. A similar stunt last year succeeded, and cost the Government and the people £4S0,000. Fortunately, those responsible for it did not “ get a way “ with the same joke in M cib on rn e recently.

Mr White:

– What about the acquisition of the unrationed foodstuffs I mentioned ?


– There is a wide range of commodities which, perhaps, could be exported to Great Britain perhaps in increasing quantities. The Dried Fruits Export Control Board has indicated that it will export 8,500 tons more than would be exported if conditions in Great Britain were normal. The position with respect to canned fruits can be, examined with a view to seeing whether it is possible to increase exports to Great Britain. I support that proposal. There is also processed milk which was under control, but which, with the approval of the British Ministry of Food, has been de-controlled.

Mr White:

– What about bacon and pork?


– The position with respect to bacon and pork is more difficult because of the. scarcity of those products, and, unfortunately, black marketing activities by many -individuals. Various other foodstuffs also are not rationed. In accordance with the Government’s policy in this matter, I, as chairman of the Cabinet sub-committee, am closely examining the suggestion made by the honorable member for Balaclava. We are endeavouring to send as rauch additional food as possible to the people of Great Britain. [Extension of time granted]. As a matter of fact, I have asked the Australian Meat Board to approach graziers and stock owners in an endeavour to formulate plans whereby they might be prepared, as a gesture, to earmark portion of their stock sent to market expressly for export to Great Britain. I commend the gesture made by some Sydney hotels and restaurants to strike meat off their menu one clay a week. I should like to see that example followed in every cafe, and in the Parliamentary Refreshment-rooms. Unfortunately, the basic wage earner and his family need all the key foods, such as butter, meat and fats, which are available to-day. They must rely on those foods more than people with greater incomes. The basic wage earner, on his modest income, cannot afford to buy other kinds of food which ‘ people on higher incomes can obtain and afford to pay for. and, therefore, can cease demanding their full meat and butter rations. We can appeal to the people on the higher incomes to eat larger quantities of unrationed foods and to return their unused coupons to the Rationing Commission or destroy them, thus making available greater quantities of butter and meat for export to Great Britain. There are thousands of people similarly circumstanced to ourselves who travel almost constantly, rarely staying for long periods at any one place of abode, who are not called upon to surrender their food coupons. Their coupons are usually left with their wives, thus supplementing the rationed foodstuffs of their wives and families.

Mr White:

– Many of us surrender our unused coupons.


– A great many more could do so. Thousands of primary producers make their own butter and kill their own stock. Of the rationed foodstuffs their only requirement is tea and sugar. Many more of them could surrender their unused butter and meat coupons. It is easy to suggest reducing the food ration scale in Australia as a means of assisting the people of. Great Britain in their dire need; but there are other means by which the desirable objective of increased food for the people of Great Britain could be achieved. I am having prepared for the information of the Cabinet subcommittee schedules of items which will give an overall picture of Australia’s food position and enable Ministers to estimate within a short period bow much additional food can be made available. I assure honorable members that the Government will readily approve of any measures that can be devised to increase the food supply to the people of Great Britain. The right honorable member for Cowper referred to the necessity for the people to be given an incentive to produce more food. I know that the right honorable gentleman has in mind an increase -in the’ production df primary industries, particularly dairying. The incentive to produce additional quantities of dairy products is now reasonably good ; it is certainly better than it has ever been before. Dairy production unfortunately decreased in volume due to factors beyond the control of this Government. The decline in production was brought about first by the loss of men in the industry, due to the action of the Menzies Government in calling up dairymen for military service. When it assumed office the Labour Government endeavoured to correct that position by ceasing calling up such men. Another important factor resulting in the decline has been the disastrous droughts experienced during the last few years. During the war the high prices of potatoes, flax, wheat, beef, lamb and mutton induced many dairymen to abandon dairying and engage in these more profitable forms of primary production. What man would work long hours for seven days a week in the dairying industry if he could derive a better income from other forms of primary production which did not keep him so fully occupied? It is pleasing to note that seasonal conditions are now very promising. I believe that in this era of peace, and with attractive prices ruling in the dairying industry - I do not regard them as being too high, but they are reasonably good - and with, many young dairy cattle coming into production, many more people “will be attracted to the dairying industry. That, in itself, will materially assist production. As to other forms of primary production, no one will deny that ruling prices for beef, lamb and pork are attractive. They are, in fact, handsome. It is unfortunate that due to severe drought conditions during the last three or four years we have lost no fewer than 31,000,000 sheep. That loss is gravely felt by the meat-producing industry and must have a considerable effect on. our ability to maintain our exports of mutton, lamb, fats and wool. . In any analysis of our food-producing capabilities all qf these factors must be taken into consideration.

I voice the opinion of the Government on this subject when 1” say that we will do everything possible to send the maximum quantity of food to the people of Great Britain. I appeal to the public, and particularly to those more fortunately circumstanced than the basic wage worker or workers with large families, to make voluntary sacrifices in order to make available more food to the people of Great. Britain.


.- The subject-matter of this debate, dealing as it does with a real emergency confronting our British kinsfolk, quite properly engages the attention of the Parliament. Indeed, much more time might have been devoted to it and it might well have been dealt with very much sooner. A debate of this importance should not be made the subject of acrimonious discussion, and I assure honorable members that I have no wish to play any part in converting the debate into an acrimonious discussion. Other than national disaster involving loss of life, shortage of foodstuffs in any nation can create one of the most desperate emergencies it is possible to imagine. There is no need for me to traverse the circumstances that exist in the United Kingdom to-day and the depressing state of affairs that faces our kinsfolk there. It is a tragedy that this country, which has an unquestionable reputation as being one of the great. food larders of the world, has to confess at a time when the people of Great Britain are in desperate need that it can do nothing to increase its export of foodstuffs. I was greatly depressed by the speech of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard). The honorable gentleman’s speech consisted almost entirely of a recital of the reasons why nothing could be done to increase production of item after item of foodstuffs required so urgently by the British people. I refuse to accept the honorable gentleman’s assessment of the situation. He devoted a disproportionate period of his time on one item alone, rice. He took credit to himself and to the Government that having rationed rice during the war years in order to aid neighbouring peoplesthe Government had intended to make rice available to the Australian public this year. That provision was reviewed and reversed and this year’s production of rice will now be available to the United Kingdom. I do not know how that fits in with the provision that the allocation of all food shall be made by the International Emergency Food Council. But I pass that by. I merely point out what the Minister did not point out, that a great measure of the production of rice in this country in the last few years arose from a special war-time arrangement established by the Government in the Wakool irrigation areas and that this year, by the deliberate decision of the Government, the production of rice in those areas has been entirely terminated. How does that fit in with the desire of the Government to make available every pound of food needed by the British people ? Rice is one of the items needed.

Mr White:

– Why did the Government do that?


– The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) asked why it was done and was not told. I inquire again. Butan explanation would not help. What we want is a reversal of the decision and the re-establishment of rice production in that area. We need to stimulate the production of every item of food needed by the British people. What they need is highly concentrated food. I can understand why canned potatoes cannot be lifted by the British Government when ithas not enough ships to load highly concentrated food and when a ship has had to sail leaving butter on the wharf. Of course we can understand why the British Government says, “ We do not want our canned potatoes and red beet to be put on the ships when butter is left on the wharf “. What is needed here is some organization. It is not sufficient that there should be merely an appeal to the generosity of the Australian people to forgo their coupon requirements. That is very good and proper, but it is not enough. The British people would be far more heartened if the Australian Government were to reveal that in this emergency it is prepared to make an organized cut of the food ration of this very well-fed people.

I am sorry that the Minister did not make an adequate reply to the factual statement of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), who gave unchallenged figures showing that based on the total population the people of this country are each consuming 4¼ lb. of meat a week when the British ration of meat is1s. 4d. worth - 1s. worth of carcass meat and 4d. worth of canned meat. On the price of meat in the United Kingdom, we must assume that that reduces the people there to about½ lb. of meat a week each. Surely, if we go no farther than that, some explanation is required of why the Australian Government, which after all has the responsibility in this matter, has failed to do something about the state of affairs in which we consume 4¼ lb. of meat a week and the people ofGreat Britain are fortunate if they get½ lb. weekly. It is not sufficient to rebuke the graziers for not sending full supplies of meat to the Newmarket stock-yards; as the Minister did. I will not devote much time to that, other than to say, in defence of the graziers, and, incidentally, to blame the Government

Mr Pollard:

– I said “some leaders of the graziers “.

INDI, VICTORIA · CP; LCL from 1940; CP from 1943

– Yes ; but I stand by what I say. What the Minister meant was the people who held back their stock. They held it back for one reason. The traditional way of selling fat stock in this country is by open auction. That is the only method that has proved practicable. As the result of certain circumstances that arose from government regulations, the butchers of Victoria decided that they would end that traditional practice and that they, the buyers, would determine the value of live-stock and put an end to auctioning and say in respect of each bead of cattle or sheep that the price shall be so and so, making one bid.

Mr Clark:

– The same system is operated in England by the Government.


– Yes, but by a governmental’ authority. Here it was to be done by the great meat combines. Are the graziers of this country to be put under the thraldom of Vesteys Limited and Thomas Borthwick and Sons (Australasia) Limited? Are those great monopolies to be allowed by the Labour Government to dictate the price to be paid to primary producers who send live-stock to Melbourne? It is a shame on this Government that it lias never lifted a hand to restrain the meat combines.

The right honorable member for Cowper said that we needed -some plan for immediate action. That plan can take the form only of some diversion of food from our breakfast tables and’ an assurance that the ships that come to outports will be allowed to take it away. No one other than the Government has the responsibility. The second need is some plan that will mature as quickly as possible and will be continuous to produce the kinds of concentrated food that are so necessary. We know what they are - principally meats and fats and such concentrated food as sugar. There is no problem in the production of sugar, but there is a problem in the quick production of more meat. A variety of meat production that has never been exploited in this country is poultry meat. Under modern incubation and battery-feeding methods marketable chickens can be produced within four months, but instead of having tried to organize the production of that quickest-produced form of meat, the Government has prevented the expansion of the poultry industry. That is the policy of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, and it is the policy of the repatriation authorities to advise every ex-serviceman against engaging in the industry, and to withhold loans that would enable him to do so.

Mr Conelan:

– Is there not a shortage of poultry feed ?


– Yes, there is a shortage of. poultry feed. It. had its genesis in the extraordinary arrangement under which the wheat-growers were told that if they grew more than 1,000 bags of wheat the price for their excess production would be unprofitable. That is the genesis of the shortage of grain foods in this country.


– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Prime Minister and Treasurer · Macquarie · ALP

.- The remarks of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) concerning what has been happening at Newmarket seemed irrelevant, but his concluding comments about why there is a shortage of wheat, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland, require an answer.

Mr McEwen:

– I made no reference to New South Wales and Queensland.


– But that was the inference. The shortage of wheat for the poultry industry and the pig industry in New South Wales and Queensland is entirely due to drought and the; utter failure ,of the wheat crop in those States. The Government is bringing wheat from the other States and heavily subsidizing the freight to assist the people in those two States.

One would gather from what has been said in this debate that Australia is lagging behind all the other dominions, andindeed behind the other countries of the world, in shipping food to Great Britain. Such statements have no semblance of truth. The plain fact is that the Commonwealth Government has continued food rationing on the severe scale that applied . during “ the war. No other country can boast of such a performance. This has not been done by Canada or South Africa, although I am sure that the governments of those countries want to help Great Britain just as much as does the Commonwealth Government, having regard to their circumstances. As I have said previously in this House, there is no doubt that some additional supplies of food could be made available if more severe rationing were imposed on the Australian people. However, I am very doubtful whether an examination of the situation would show that a reduction of the Australian butter ration, for instance, could be justified on either nutritional or other grounds. The facts of the position in this regard will be revealed at a later stage, and I shall not deal with them now other than to say that, in 1944, the nutritional experts indicated to the Government that the ration of fats per head of population in Australia then was probably less than that available to the people of Great Britain.

Mr White:

– Who were the experts?

Mr.CHIFLEY.- The nutritional experts.

Mr White:

– They are wrong anyway.

Mr.CHIFLEY. - According to the honorable member, everybody who disagrees with him is wrong. However, there is great unanimity of opinion that he is nearly always wrong. The fact is that in this country, with its scattered population and its high proportion of workers in heavy industries, thepresent butter ration is found to be very severe on many housewives. The Government has had strong representations, particularly from Tasmanians and others who preserve a great deal of fruit, that the sugar ration is far too low. In a country with a widely scattered population, it is more difficult to provide for an equitable distribution of unrationed food items than it is in countries with a dense population.

I realize the difficulties in regard to meat supplies. Even towards the end of the war, the Government further reduced the Australian meat ration. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) has already dealt adequately with that phase of the problem. It is easy for people who can buy their meals at hotels and restaurants and for white-collar workers, many of whom require only a very small ration of basic foods, to talk about cutting down the food ration, but the men out on the farms, miners and workers in heavyindustries are in a different position. Workers who have to take cut lunches with them every day need a good food ration. These are the people who must be considered when we are dealing with the general food ration. I do not pretend for a moment that the meat rationing system is entirely satisfactory. Many farmers send meat to their friends, so that some families fare better than others in this respect. However, itis sheer humbug and hypocrisy for people who dine at good hotels and restaurants and live well, like many gentlemen in this chamber who have talked so much to-day, to urge the cutting down of the ration available to families who axe not able to eat at restaurants or to buy sandwiches and other foods in the big cities. Half of our population live outside the metropolitan areas, and many families often find themselves short of butter. I understand that housewives regard the allocation of their butter ration as a particularly difficult problem. The Government has examined the situation very closely in order to see whether anything can be done to increase supplies of food, particularly meat, to the United Kingdom.

From what has been said in this House to-day. one would imagine that all the wheat, rice, flour and sugar that is exported from Australia goes to the British people. The public should be told that that is not true. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture stated clearly that only a very small proportion of all the sugar exported from Australia this year, approximately 89,000 tons, has gone to the British people. There is a general pool of sugar, from which supplies are distributed. As a matter of fact, some of Australia’s sugar goes to countries in which sugar is not rationed at all. There may have been some shortages in those countries, but there is no system of rationing. Consider what happens to our wheat exports. I think that 90 per cent of the approximate total of 56,000,000 bushels of wheat shipped from Australia this year went to places other than the United Kingdom. Honorable members should realize that the mere production of greater quantities of sugar, wheat, flour and rice would not mean that the extra output would go to the United Kingdom. The International Emergency Food Council determines how stocks of such commodities shall be distributed to all parts of the world. One would think, after listening to what was said by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), that food was being left on the. wharfs and that we were not exporting all that is available for export. That is not in accordance with the facts, which should be put on record. Therefore, I shall state exactly what did happen in 1945 and 1946 in relation to the export of food from Australia. The figures which I shall cite show a large increase of total shipments in respect of every item mentioned, with the exception of bacon and ham.

Canned fruits, such as apples, peaches and pears, are not regarded by the British Government as being basic foodstuffs. Bice, the last item mentioned in the table does not necessarily go to the United Kingdom.

That discloses a notable performance on the part of Australia- in sending food abroad. I put these figures on record because, from some of the speeches made by honorable members opposite, one would think that we were exporting less and less food to other countries, whereas the fact is that exports of the items which I have mentioned have increased by proportions ranging from 66 per cent, to 100 per cent, since 1945. I remind the honorable member for Indi that these shipments were not left on the wharfs. They were all shipped abroad, in the quantities which I have mentioned.

Leader of the Opposition · Kooyong

.- The Prime Minister has engaged in a perfect tour de force of illogicality in the last five minutes. He set out to show, no doubt quite successfully, that of a certain number of indicated items, we exported more in 1946 than we did in 1945.

Sir Earle Page:

– And 1945 was the last year of “World War II.-


– The comparison which the Prime Minister made does not prove very much. . It would be most remarkable if we had not succeeded in exporting more goods after the war than during the war. It still remains perfectly true that the right honorable gentleman did not answer two facts. The first is that goods from time to time have not been loaded on ships, although they were available to be loaded. The second is that a comparison of exports in 1946, a peace year, with the exports that Australia maintained and was eager to main-‘ tain a few years ago, is quite astonishing. For example, I have before me a few figures - they are’ by no means complete - . but they show that in 1942, we exported 7,000,000 carcasses of lamb to Great Britain whilst in 1946 we exported 1,120,000 carcasses. .

Mr Pollard:

– That was a year of d drought.


– In 1939, we exported to Great Britain over 1,000,000 carcasses of mutton, but last year, Ave exported only 194,000 carcasses. Of course, there are some special circumstances which bear on these matters, but honorable gentlemen opposite know perfectly well that, by and large, our exports of food are now immeasurably below the normal standard before the beginning of World War II., and, indeed, during the first year or two years of that conflict. However, I did not rise principally for the purpose of discussing that aspect. I merely make those statements, - because they answer the rather astonishing argument advanced by the Prime Minister. What I rose to say was this: I agree with the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) that this is a singularly depressing- debate, and the statements made on behalf of the Government have been singularly depressing. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) put his case quite fairly from his stand-point, and provided us with information. But the heart of the problem can be reached by looking at one outstanding fact. Do not let us get on to all sorts of side issues, such as what happened at stock sales here and there, and even, with great respect, the AustraliaNew Zealand Wheat Agreement. Let us take one central fact which emerged from the very powerful speech made by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). In Great Britain at this moment, the people are getting a meat ration which, at the best, cannot, exceed 1lb. a week. Indeed, it may very well be substantially less thanthat. It cannot exceed it. In Australia, on undisputed figures, we are consuming per capita, man, woman and child, 4¼ lb. of meat a week-

Mr Dedman:

– I dispute that.


– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) will dispute anything. All I know is that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, who seems to be almost bristling with information on this matter, who is t he appropriate Minister to deal with the subject, and who is nobody’s fool - he is quite as capable of listening to a speech in this House and understanding it as anybody else -heard the remarks of the right honorable member for Cowper on that point, and had before him substantia! figures, but I have not heard the figure, which the right honorable member for Cowper gave; controverted. But letusassume that the figure of 4¼ lb. a week is too high. Let us have a Dutch auction about it, and reduce the figure to 4 lb.,3½ lb. or3 lb. a week. Will anybody stop me there? Suppose we accept the figure of 3 lb. a week, and suppose the truth is that we in Australia are consuming three times as much meat, per head of population, as people are consuming in Great Britain. Does that not, in the name of all that is sensible, impose upon us an inescapable obligation to take some action to reduce our consumption of meat in order to help the people of Great Britain? This need in Great Britain is an urgent national need, and imposes upon us an urgent national obligation. A national obligation ! It is for that reason that I suggested recently to the Prime Minister that if any unpopular things have to be done in order to reduce our consumption of meat, let us all accept responsibility. Let us not have any vote-snatching out of any unpopular act in order to help the people of Great Britain. We shall stand in with the Government on that with the greatest willingness in the world. Now, when it comes to the point, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture asked, “What is the use of talking about reducing our meat ration? It will not be effective, and will lead to an increase of black-marketing”. The Prime Minister went scarcely as far as that. He thought that the desired results might be extremely difficult to achieve. The argument that the reduction of the ration will merely augment black-marketing is an argument against all rationing. If it be a good argument against a reduced ration of meat, it is a perfectly good argument against all food rationing. The answer to that contention is this : Let us in Australia make up our mind that we shall do two things concurrently, first, reduce the quantity of meat which is lawfully available to our own people, and, having calculated how much meat that action will release from our own market, let us. as a community, purchase that meat and send it abroad. Let us acquire that meat and despatch it to Great Britain. Then it will be not on the black-market in Australia but in the holds of ships proceeding to Great Britain. We all speak strongly onthis matter, but let us at the same time realize that we all have exactly the same fundamental point of view about it. This is, in the truest sense, a completely non-party matter. No political party in this House should want to score one point off another political party on this issue. That is why I rise to emphasize to the Prime Minister that if measures can be adopted to ease this position, and if those measures would incur unpopularity for those who institute them or perform them, then we should accept joint responsibility for them. We on this side of the House are concerned solely with getting relief for the people of Great Britain in their hour of need. If that objective can be obtained by joint action, by all means let us have joint action. If responsibility has to be accepted, let us all accept it. Let us all be perfectly willing to defend it in any way. In truth, it will not need much defence, because of all the things that I have witnessed in the last twelve months, I have not seen anything more remarkable than the unanimity that Australia must do something now if we are to help the people to whom we owe so much.

Minister for Defence, Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research · Corio · ALP

.- I am glad that this

Subject has now become a matter for debate in this House. At, the same time, I query the motives of some of those honorable members who have now raised this issue. Some honorable members opposite, not all of them, who Iia ve spoken on this subject, began their addresses with the statement that we Should not have acrimonious debate on this issue, but later, they raised matters which were most provocative. I query the motives of some members of the Opposition, at any rate, because when I look at the record of honorable members opposite when they were supporters of an anti-Labour government, and the food crisis in Great Britain was just as bad as it is to-day-

Mr Bowden:

– It has never been so serious in the history of Great Britain.


– The Government led by the leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) was in office for some weeks - too long, it is true- at a time when the food situation of Great Britain was absolutely desperate. That Government had not the courage to impose rationing of any kind on the people of this country. I. query the motives of some honorable members who have spoken in this debate because I believe that some, at least, spoke with their tongues in their cheeks, and that is particularly true of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir “Earle Page) who moved this motion. He is continually talking in public of the desperate situation of the people of Great Britain.

Opposition members interjecting.


– It is true. The right honorable gentleman is continually telling the people of this country that the situation in Great Britain is absolutely desperate. That is what, he says in public; but what does he do in private? I was the Minister for Trade and Customs at one period, and I remember that not so long ago, when a Jacaranda Festival was celebrated at Grafton in the right honorable member’s electorate, he wrote to the Minister for Trade and Customs asking for an increased ration for his constituents during that particular period-

Sir Earle Page:

– I rise to order. I ask for a withdrawal of that statement. It is very offensive to me. Ten thousand of my electors were away from their homes, and many had to go without food because of the Minister’s action.


– The right honorable gentleman is not entitled to demand a withdrawal of the statement.


– This is the type of smug hypocrisy that we have to put up with from honorable members opposite.

Sir Earle Page:

– I ask for a withdrawal of that statement.


– If the right honorable gentleman takes exception to the statement, I ask the Minister to withdraw it.


– I withdraw it. At the moment I cannot think of any appropriate term to apply to the right honorable gentleman and other honorable members opposite who, in public, say one thing and, in private, another.. I know, of course, that the right honorable member for Cowper has a very excellent scheme for getting press publicity out of this issue, and I know that everything he has said in this House to-day will be publicized by the press of Australia tomorrow. But I guarantee that scarcely one newspaper in Australia will publish the letter written by the right honorable gentleman, which I now propose to put on record in Hansard. This is what the right honorable gentleman wrote to the then Minister for Trade and Customs, on the 18th October, 1945-

My dear Minister,

As yon are aware, Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and. Duchess- of Gloucester will be opening this year’s Jacaranda Festival fit Grafton.

In order to cope with the needs of the many people who will be visiting Grafton during the festival week, the Committee lias applied for the issue of supplementary rations of butter, tea; sugar, meat, liquor and tobacco to local suppliers for the week ending 3rd November, 1945.

According to the attached letter received from Mr. K. M. McCallum, Honorary Secretary, Jacaranda Festival, P.O. Box UG, Grafton, this application has been rejected. I understand all hotels and boarding houses are already booked out.

I feel it is a very reasonable request and should be very glad indeed if the matter could be reconsidered and the request granted.

Yours sincerely, . (Sgd.) Earle Page.

T query the motives of some honorable members opposite who have raised this matter, because the right honorable member for Cowper and the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) have related this appeal to increased prices. “What they want, in effect, is increased prices for the primary producers. The right honorable member for Cowper, indeed, said that handsome profits should be available to the producers so that they might be encouraged to produce more food for. Great Britain.

Rilling suspended from 1S.J/S to 2.15 p.m.


– The right honorable member for Cowper claimed that the weekly consumption of meat in this country was 4 lb. a head of the population. I do not know where the right honorable gentleman got that figure, but it is incorrect. One has only to ask the housewives of this country how much meat they are able to buy with their coupons to find out that the Australian meat ration is between 1 and 2% lb. a week, depending upon the quality of meat purchased. This compares most favorably with meat consumption in other countries. In the United States of America, for instance, meat is not rationed at all; in Canada, rationing of meat was abolished early this year; and in New Zealand, the ration is approximately the same as it is in this country. No one will deny that the food situation in Great Britain is bad, and that the meat ration there is extremely low, but it is difficult to compare the protein content of the foods consumed in that country and in Australia because in the United Kingdom, the meat ration is supplemented by a supply of fish and other commodities that have a substantial pro tein content. However, I agree that this country should do everything possible to alleviate the food shortage in Great Britain.

The butter ration in Australia is, in effect the same as it is in the United Kingdom, namely, 6 oz. a week. Actually the people of Great Britain receive only 2 oz. of butter a week, but that is supplemented by 4 oz. of vitaminized magarine. Butter is not rationed in the United States of America, and in Canada and New Zealand the ration is the same as it is in this country. My colleague the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) has explained that any additional sugar sent from this country would not necessarily go to the British people. While I was Minister for Trade and Customs I inquired very closely into this matter. I sent a cable to the Aus; tralian High Commissioner in London informing him that the Commonwealth Government would be prepared to reduce the Australian ration of sugar from 1 lb. s week to 12 oz. a week, if it could have an assurance from the British Government that, the additional quantity thus made available for export would go to the people of Great Britain. I received a reply to the effect that because of the International Food Organization, the British Government could not give any such assurance. It is not the fault of the Commonwealth Government that all the sugar exported from this country does not go to Great Britain. Sugar is exported from Australia to the order of the British Government, whatever its destination may be. Any additional sugar exported from Australia might perhaps be sent to countries in which sugar is not rationed at all. In fact, if it were sent to the other side of the world, it would increase automatically the sugar ration of the people of the United States of America.

Mr Speaker:

– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.


– I support strongly the motion of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). I am sure that all members of this chamber agree that the need of the British people for more food- is urgent. Honorable members opposite have expressed their sympathy with the people of Great Britain in the trials that they have had to endure since the war - hunger, ice, snow, and floods- but more than sympathy is required. “We should be prepared to send to our kinsmen the additional foodstuffs that we could well spare in this country. The attitude of honorable members opposite apparently is that we should send, only the surplus over and above our own food requirements. What this motion seeks is that Australians shall give up something so that the British people may have more of the life-giving food that this country produces so pro.lifically. We should be prepared to further cut our own rations to send more food to Great Britain. I know that the primary producers in my own electorate and, I am sure, every fair-minded Australian, would applaud any such move. 1 1 is not sufficient that we should send only our surplus foodstuffs, and I protest strongly against that view. One of the greatest drains on the supply of rationed commodities in this country is the black market. I am told that, even during the days of the war, people who could afford to pay black market prices were able to secure ample supplies, particularly of meat, and a similar state of affairs exists to-day. But the man on the basic wage cannot afford to buy on the black market. It is not he who is keeping the black market alive. . This should be a non-party issue. I am not endeavouring to set one class in the community against another.

Mr Fuller:

– It is all politics with members of the Opposition.


– The politics that I try to expound in this House are for the good of Australia. The real point of this matter is that the people of the British Isles and of this country’ are members of one family, and no member of that family should be deprived of the necessaries of life while another has more than sufficient to meet its needs. Whatever supplies of food are available should be distributed equally amongst the family. Many individuals in this country, including basic wage earners and working people generally, are doing a splendid job by sending food parcels to Great Britain, frequently sacrificing some of their own little pleasures and comforts to do so. But while, this praiseworthy effort is being made, what is this. Government doing? It is doing absolutely nothing. It concedes that there is an urgent need for more food in Great Britain, yet it makes no move to increase our exports of essential commodities. What Great Britain wants is food, not sympathy. Everybody knows the great part which the United Kingdom played in the winning of the war. It fed not only its own troops but also troops from every allied country. At one period during the conflict, the British Isles was the centre in which were congregated millions of troops from all allied countries. The security which we in Australia have to-day. is due to the great fight which the people of Great Britain waged at that time. If representatives of the Government were sent throughout this country purchasing fat stock for shipment to Great Britain, substantial quantities could be obtained. During the war period, the cost-plus system operated in the acquirement of food for the troops. Gould not men be employed now under the same system in the purchase of fat stock? We have fought a war against our enemies with bayonets and ammunition. To-day, our Motherland is waging a fight against starvation and the extreme severity of natural elements. No honorable member of this House can be in any doubt regarding the seriousness of the position. Although the owners of the stock would want a reasonable price, I believe that they would be prepared to donate one bullock in every twenty. I am sure that the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) will agree that the owners of fat bullocks and sheep in the prolific area that he represents would be prepared to donate one bullock in every twenty or ten sheep in every 100, if they were bought specifically for shipment overseas. The growers of fat stock in the Wimmera electorate would, I believe, be quite willing to make a similar contribution. To-day, stock is supposed to be sold at up to a ceiling price. Could there not he a special price for the purchase of stock for this specific purpose?

Mr Pollard:

– Does the honorable member mean a higher price than that which is now ruling?


– I mean a higher price for a specific purpose. If a higher price had to be paid to meet this very urgent need, by all means let it be paid. Price is not a governing factor. When a man is starving, money is of no account. As a prisoner of war, I came in contact with men worth £200,000 who at one stage would have bartered the whole of it for one good fat lamb. I have no doubt that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) cannot comprehend the soundness of paying a higher price for stock for that specific purpose so as not to disrupt orderly marketing in this country. That is sound logic and commonsense. If we cannot obtain stock for Great Britain at the prices that are now being offered for it, we must fix a special price.


– That would amount to supplying food to Great Britain at a price.


– We must get it, whether, we pay a higher price for it or it is donated to us. I am suggesting that certain men would give free one bullock in every twenty.


– Order ! The honorable member’s time, has expired.


.- The object of this debate has been revealed in its true colours by those honorable members opposite who represent farming or grazing areas. Their main concern is to obtain an increased price for cattle to be exported to Great Britain. I. have been in England more recently than any other member of this Parliament. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle .Page) was there several years ago, whilst I was there only a few months ago. The British Government has nothing hut the greatest praise for the Government and people of Australia for the assistance that they have rendered to the people of Great Britain during their period of trial.

Dr Evatt:

– And it is very embarrassed by this agitation.


– The right honorable member for Cowper was shown in his true colours to-day by the Minister for


Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman). The press is always willing to publish under big headlines whatever the right honorable member says about food for Great Britain; yet we have had revealed to us the fact that he has endeavoured to obtain more food for his electorate at the expense of the people of Great Britain! The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) claims that more peanuts could be exported to Great Britain in the form of oil and food, yet last year this Government had to freeze peanuts in this country so that a sufficient quantity of oil could be provided to enable different industries to continue manufacturing. Last week, the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom in Australia said in Canberra that he hoped and trusted that party political propaganda would not be made of the trials of the British people, yet to-day every member of the Opposition who has spoken has endeavoured to make party political propaganda against the Government. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has mentioned the different commodities that have been sent to Great Britain in excess of what was sent twelve months ago, and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) has stated that the British Government was not anxious to have certain food that had been offered to it. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) confined his remarks to meat. I shall read for the benefit of the Parliament and the people of this country a paragraph that was published in the March issue of the Meat Trades Journal of Australia, a publication issued by the Meat and Allied Trades Federation, which consists of employers and graziers throughout Australia. It is this -

Reports from Britain indicate that there are huge stocks of meat in store despite labour troubles at home and abroad. It is said that the reason is tied up with demobilization and the continued withdrawal of overseas military and naval personnel from Britain and Europe generally. The provision of meat rations for these troops constituted a difficult problem for the Ministry of Food. With their demand upon stocks in store removed, it has been possible to build up a substantial reserve, particularly of imported beef. Another factor has, of course, been the improvement in the ship position. Although maritime conditions are far from normal, due to heavy war-time sinkings, more and more troopships have resumed their normal calling ‘ of carrying refrigerated tonnage and several new vessels are engaged on the South American and Australasian routes.

Debate interrupted under Standing Order 257b.

page 1434


Second Reading

Debate resumed from the 17th April (vide page 1407), on motion by Dr. Evatt -

That the bill be now read a second time.


– The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) and the Government are to be complimented on the introduction of this amending legislation, which is an attempt to provide more efficient arbitration machinery than has yet operated in the Commonwealth. In endeavouring to improve that machinery the Government is following the traditional policy of the Australian Labour party in its adherence to the system of dealing with industrial troubles by conciliation and arbitration. That system is so treasured by the people of Australia that the Bruce-Page Government was defeated when it attempted to abolish the Arbitration Court. Its defeat was a clear demonstration- of the determination of the people to maintain the system, and to improve it from time to time.

The main opposition to the bill seems to be directed against the provisions for the appointment of conciliation commissioners. Opposition speakers put up a number of “ Aunt Sallies “ and then attempted to knock them down; they endeavoured to show the dire effects on the industrial life of the community of wrong decisions by any commissioner. I agree with the Attorney-General that the real test of this legislation will be the character of the decisions of the commissioners who will be appointed, and, therefore, it is inconceivable that the Government, realizing that the success of this legislation will depend on the integrity and capacity of the commissioners, would take the risk of appointing incompetent men to these important positions. Regardless of the number of applicants, I am confident that appointments will be made only after careful examination of each applicant by the Attorney-General and his colleagues. I am happy in the belief that the Government will appoint the right men.

Legislation of this kind is not new, as there have previously been tribunals of this character, in both the State and Federal spheres. During World War I. the then Prime Minister, Mr. Hughes, brought in the Industrial Peace Bill with a view to improving conditions in the coal-mining industry. That measure provided for the appointment of local tribunals to deal with disputes or threatened disputes on the spot. Although that legislation was effective, it would have been more successful in preventing industrial unrest if the boards which it authorized had actually been constituted. The legislation now before the Parliament represents a big step forward in the control of industry. It will strengthen the arbitration system, and not weaken it as the Opposition claims. It will expedite the hearing of disputes, and I believe that many potential strikes will be prevented by the commissioners to be appointed. This legislation has not been hastily conceived. The Scullin Government introduced legislation for the appointment of conciliation commissioners which passed this chamber with an overwhelming majority but was so amended in the Senate as to make it useless.

As this is a measure designed to open a new field in arbitration, I shall refer to a few matters which, in my opinion, might well be considered when another overhaul of the arbitration machinery is contemplated. I propose, first, to quote briefly from the judgment of Mr. Justice Higgins in what is known as the Harvester case. After referring to the old system of individual bargaining, His Honour said that he deplored that the legislature, while laying down that the court must prescribe fair and reasonable conditions in industry, did not indicate to the court what it considered were fair and reasonable standards. I quote from his determination as follows : -

The standard of fair and reasonable must, therefore, bc something more than can be got by bargaining, and I cannot think of any other standard more appropriate than the normal needs of the average employee regarded as a human being living in a civilized community. The dominant factor in determining a fair and reasonable standard must be the cost of living as a civilized being. I shall ignore any consideration that business will not stand what I should otherwise regard as fair and reasonable remuneration.

In other words, Has Honour said that in laying down what he considered a fair and reasonable standard he was not concerned with the ability of the industry to pay. Industry had to pay it or confess itself unable to carry on. So far as Commonwealth arbitration was concerned this principle operated until the depression. The workers knew that if they were able to prove to the court that the cost of living was so much, and that a reasonable standard of living demanded a certain wage, that wage would be awarded to them. This was changed during the depression. I do not know whether it was by direction of some Minister, or by some government authority, or whether the court acted of its own volition, but I do know that during the depression, and since, the Arbitration Court has taken into consideration the capacity of industry to pay, and the general effect of an award on the national economy. With this vicious system in operation, the workers can be forced to accept any sort of conditions on the plea that industry cannot afford better. I do not say that the new principle has been greatly abused, but it certainly was applied during the depression, and it still affects the mind of the court when judgments are being considered. I agree with the pronouncement of the judge that industry must pay a progressing living wage, or go out of business. I do not agree that it should continue to live on the sweated labour of its workers. The right has come to be accepted as something almost sacred that every time the workers receive an increase of wages, prices must rise. Until the war there was no machinery for checking price increases.

The workers accepted arbitration grudgingly because they knew that as soon as the court awarded an increase of wages, up would go prices, with the result that wages were always chasing prices, which always went up by something more than the amount of the wage increase, so that the workers were worse off after they got their increase than before. Under the principle which was introduced during the depression, the employers have only to plead poverty to the court as justification for opposing an application for increased wages. Their mere say so is accepted. If that principle is fully accepted, we have to admit that it is. impossible to do anything effective to improve working conditions, because when wages are increased prices immediately rise. When the employers plead that industry cannot afford to pay higher wages, no means test is applied to them. I am not sure that this Parliament has power to give the Arbitration Court authority to investigate profits and costs when, employers plead poverty, but it should have this power. No investigation is ever made into the huge fees paid to directors, for instance, who meet once a month and do practically nothing when t they meet. No attempt is made to inquire how much watered stock has been issued by a company, or to inquire into the scandalous waste of money on useless advertising over the radio and in the newspapers. We know that many firms spend immense sums on advertising every day in the week goods that the public are unable to buy, and in this way money is dissipated which ought to go to the Treasury in the form of taxes. If we give a tribunal power to compel the worker to disclose how much tobacco he smokes, whether he has two, three or four pints of beer, and to say what clothes he and his wife wear, surely it is good enough in this Christian country to drag the leaders of industry into the court, also, and make them disclose their profits and costs, so that the court may decide what they can afford to pay their workers. At the present time, the miners are being asked to cut coal so that companies’ may make a profit on a capital of £3,000,000 when only £50,000 was originally invested in the enterprise. The rest of the capital consists of profits issued to shareholders in the form of watered stock. If we are to do a fair thing for the worker in this new world, in which we are to guarantee freedom from want and freedom from fear, industrial tribunals must be clothed with power to deflate watered capital and to ensure that the amount of capital employed in any undertaking shall correspond to the needs of the undertaking. For the present, we must also continue prices control. I bring to the notice of honorable members a case to illustrate my point. The details of it were given to me by Mr. Edward Riley, a former member for South Sydney, who was also at one time a member of a wages tribunal in New South Wales. In that case the big departmental stores in Sydney were cited to give reasonable working conditions to its employees. In those days, shop assistants commenced work at 7 a.m., and after knocking off at 6 p.m. had to return to work to clean up the shop and dress the windows in preparation for the next day’s business. On the average,” they worked from 60 to 65 hours a week.

Mr McEwen:

– Like the dairy-farmers.


– That is what the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) would like to see in operation on dairy farms in this country to-day. However, these companies were brought to court, and their representatives swore that the companies did not make sufficient profits to enable them to improve the working conditions of their employees, and clamoured so much about poverty that Mr. Riley and his colleagues on the tribunal demanded that the books of the companies be examined privately by a firm of accountants. That was done, and when the accountant’s report was placed before the judge, His Honour in open court declared that the companies had deliberately committed perjury. That is the only instance of which I am aware in which that course has been followed; but if a court is empowered to inquire into any matter that concerns the domestic life of the workers, it should also be empowered to inquire into the profits of companies and punish them for vicious industrial practices. That, in effect, was the view expressed by the judge in the case to which I have referred. As can be illustrated by many other cases, the plea of poverty so often advanced by companies is simply humbug. It is evident that on the basis of prices ruling to-day the great majority of companies are making sufficient profits to enable them to increase wages substantially without justifying a subsequent increase of prices. Having regard to the huge profits now being made, hours of work could be reduced and better conditions of employment given to the workers, and companies could still make reasonable profits, and, at the same time, provide sufficient capital for replacements and expansion. I cannot comprehend the idea which exists today that prices are sacrosanct, and, therefore, every increase of the wages of the workers must be followed by a corresponding increase of prices. If we are to accept that idea without question we might just as well tell the people of this country now that their incomes and conditions are pegged for all time, and that their lot cannot be improved because, to whatever degree their wages may be increased, their effective purchasing power may be decreased but will never be increased. For those reasons, I believe that we must change the present set-up as we progress into the peace period when the flow of materials and production returns to normal, and Ave are thus enabled to give to everybody sufficient for their needs pro vided they have the power to purchase what they require. I do not say that such a change can be implemented immediately, because I realize that the existing shortages of all commodities are the causes of black-marketing. Some time ago I wrote a little pamphlet which caused honorable members opposite some amusement. In it I enunciated the principles to which I now refer. In that pamphlet, I emphasized that the changes T advocate must be postponed until our economy returns to normal and materials and production are in full flow. If our people in the future are to be guaranteed” freedom from want and freedom from fear, principles which are proclaimed by all the nations, we must remove all causes of fear and want. The old order before the Avar was responsible for the fear of want which was always in. the minds of the masses of the people. Until this Government implemented its social service programme and liberalized pensions, no attempt had been made to remove from the mass mind that fear of the morrow. However, unless we do so, we shall not progress. The old system bred that fear, and it is our job in setting up’ the new order to destroy the influences so evident in the old order. I, personally, cannot see in the world of industry any possible hope for the workers unless something is done along the lines I have indicated.

This measure, which will streamline industrial conciliation and arbitration, is a big step forward. Finally, I wish to reply to the silly argument which was voiced parrot-like by every honorable member opposite about proposals embodied in legislation being made in the caucus room and not in the Parliament. T have been a member of this Parliament for a long time, for most of it in opposition, and I remember using a similar argument myself when legislation was introduced and honorable members opposite who then sat on the treasury bench all lined up like sheep to vote in support of government measures. But what is democratic government? A party goes to the country, and submits its programme to the people. The principles embodied in this measure were endorsed by the people at the last general elections, and in introducing the bill the Government is giving effect to the wishes of the people. I sincerely hope that none of the amendments foreshadowed by honorable members opposite will be accepted by the Government, because they are designed solely to render the measure ineffective.

Debate (on motion by Mr. McBride) adjourned.

page 1437


Agricultural Machinery - “Western Australia Shipping Services - Poultry: Future of Industry - Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Australian Navy: Doctors and Dentists - ‘Sales Tax - Drought Relief.

Motion (by Dr. Evatt) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.


– I intended earlier to-day to bring to the notice of the House some matters arising out of the industrial position in “Victoria; but we were informed by the ‘ Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) this morning that that matter is sub judice. I mention the subject now merely to show that the hold-up in the production and shipment of seeding machinery and spare parts has caused considerable concern to the farmers of Western Australia during the last nine months. As honorable members are aware, Western Australian farmers are dependent in the main upon the output of Victorian manufacturers of agricultural implements. To-day, owing to industrial disputes such machinery and spare parts as are available to be shipped to Western Australia cannot be sent there because of the shortage of shipping. Early this month there were in Melbourne, awaiting shipment to Western Australia, 60 cultivator drills, 25 ploughs, 50 sets of harrows, and 120 tons of packed spare parts urgently required for the repair of machines which have greatly deteriorated after years of use. In Adelaide there were 21 cultivator drills, 8 scarifiers, 3 ploughs, 25 broadcasters and 7 tons of packed spare parts. I have previously approached the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) on this subject. I wired to him on the 8th April and wrote to him on the 9th ; but I did not receive a reply until I jogged the memory of the Minister who represents him in this House. To-day a total of 36 cultivator drills are held up in Melbourne and Adelaide. On a conservative basis each of those machines could sow 30 acres a day and accordingly, as the result of the hold-up in delivery, a considerable acreage which could be placed under crop this year will be lost. Last Wednesday 13,500 tons of general cargo was lying in Melbourne awaiting shipment to Western Australia. In Adelaide on the same day the quantity amounted to 12,700 tons. The only vessel in sight at the moment is River Murchison, which was due to leave Melbourne on the 18th April but which will be held up until the 22nd April. The vessel is expected to arrive in Adelaide on the 24th April. As the following day is Anzac Day, and the day after, Saturday, on which only a half day’s work will be done, it will be impossible to clear the vessel from Adelaide until the 29th April, which means that its arrival in Western Australia will be very greatly delayed. Recently I suggested to the Minister that the Government should give serious consideration to the needs of the Western Australian people for an improved shipping service, and that, in the meantime, two vessels of the River class, possibly River Murchison and River Fitzroy be set aside for a period of two months to lift cargoes lying in the three principal eastern ports and awaiting shipment to Western Australia. Early delivery of these cargoes is essential to enable normal business to be carried on and the economy of the State to be protected. Every time a stoppage occurs in the eastern States the people of Western Australia, to use a colloquialism, “get it well and truly in the neck “. I ask the Government to give earnest consideration to this matter.


.- I take this opportunity to ask the Government to make some pronouncement as to its intentions regarding the poultry industry. During and since the war this industry has grown enormously and ite output has greatly increased. All other primary producers know exactly where they stand. The producers of wheat know that the world shortage of wheat is likely to continue for some time. In fact, they are asked to produce more wheat.

Mr McEwen:

– But they are still not permitted to sow additional acreages without a licence.


– At all events, they know that more wheat is required. Wool, our great revenue producer, is still in great demand and wool growers are left in no doubt as to where they stand. The meat producers are in the same fortunate position. Meat is still very scarce and additional quantities are required for the people of Great Britain. In the dairying industry production has diminished and dairymen have been asked to do everything possible to exceed previous high production levels. Only the poultry farmers, are left in doubt as to the future of their industry. Production in the industry has increased and is tending to increase still further ; but there is a widespread feeling among poultry farmers that the Government intends, either directly or indirectly, to bring about a reduction of their number and the output of eggs and of poultry for table use. That feeling arises mainly from the difficulty they are experiencing in obtaining supplies of poultry feed in order to maintain egg production and to continue the raising of young stock. These difficulties are believed, rightly or wrongly, to have been brought about by the Government for the purpose of retarding the development of the industry. Poultry farmers do not know whether to enlarge or reduce their flocks, or to abandon the industry. Very few permits are now being issued to merchants who wish to establish businesses to serve the needs of the industry. The same difficulty is being experienced by cooperative organizations formed for the purpose of purchasing poultry food at reduced prices for distribution among their members. There is a great deal of ill-feeling among the men at the manner in which the Government is treating them. That is unfair, not only to established poultry farmers, but also to those who desire to enter the industry, including a large number of ex-servicemen. An early statement by the Government would be of great use to the industry, and I hope that what I have said will induce the Government to make it.


.- I regret the absence from the chamber of the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) and the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan), because I desire to raise an important matter affecting both their departments, but I hope the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) will take note of what I say and convey my remarks to them. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and other honorable gentlemen are also interested. Certain doctors and dentists in the Air Force and Navy were sworn for service for the duration of the war and twelve months thereafter, but, although the war has been over for more than two years, both departments are still clinging to them, despite that all the lower ratings have been demobilized. Their careers are being jeopardized, because, when they are eventually released, with nearly three years of practice lost, they will be on a par, as far as entering private practice is concerned, with fresh graduates from the medical and dental schools. That is the reverse of preference. The following is an excerpt from a statement by one of them - I assure the Attorney-General that he is only one of many : -

In the Royal Australian Air Force medical officers and dental officers are the only members still held compulsorily. In all other musterings where the interim quota has not been obtained, civilians have been used in various spheres, e.g., clerical equipment, &c. For 11,000 serving members of the interim Royal Australian Air Force there are still 45 medical officers, enlisted for the duration period only, 25 of these have agreed to a deferred demobilization, 20 are compulsorily held.

Dentists in the Royal Australian Air Force and doctors and dentists in the Navy are similarly affected. It is distinctly unfair that they should be thus handicapped. The obvious reason is that the Government has no defence policy of any description. If it had followed the example of the socialistic Government of Great Britain it would have introduced compulsory service. In Great Britain the period of compulsory service is one year full-time and for a period of years thereafter part-time, but because there is no such scheme operating in this country, these young men are being penalized. Such a scheme will have to come. The consensus of opinion is that we cannot depend on voluntary service and that the Government must have the courage and foresight to lay down a proper defence policy. Australia has obligations as great per capita as those of Great Britain. The danger of the Asiatic millions has not passed. If clerks can be replaced by civilians so can these young men be replaced in one way or another. They have done their duty. In other walks of life they would go on strike, but they have no perambulating agitators to say, “ Come out ‘ boys ‘ ! The job is ‘ black ‘ or ‘ red ‘ “, as the case may be. So they are still doing the job. One alternative is the calling up of others to replace them, but, as that is not possible until the Government has the courage to formulate and apply a defence policy, these men ought to’ be replaced immediately by civilian doctors. The Repatriation Department employs civilian medical officers. Moreover, in the days of compulsory training, it was customary for civilian medical officers to be employed by the Defence Department. The Government has been unsuccessful in obtaining applicants for positions as doctors and dentists in the Air Force and the Navy, but it may be possible to obtain volunteers on the basis of short- term commissions for a year or two. Recent graduates may then be willing to take on the job. . Both the Minister for Air and the Minister for the Navy have had this matter under their notice for some time, but nothing has been done. I object on behalf of these young men to their being conscripted and I ask the Attorney-General to do his best to obtain their release and replacement by one or other of the two means that I suggest are possible.


– I direct attention to an anomaly that has been brought to my notice by a firm of motor traders in a letter that is selfexplanatory. I shall supply the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) with the letter itself or the name of the firm. The letter reads -

Some few months ago we sold a four-wheel trailer to a farmer, on which an amount of £31 10s. sales tax was charged.

We wrote the manufacturers advising what the trailer was to be used for and objecting to sales tax being charged and were informed that only horse-drawn trailers were exempt from sales tax.

We then wrote the Deputy Commissioner of Sales Tax. Copy of our letter and his reply are attached and we think you will find these self-explanatory.

What we could have done was to purchase the trailer with a pair of horse shafts and then later ordered the tractor draw bar, in which case our client would only have been liable for tax on the small cost of the draw bar.

It seems so ridiculous that the trailer should be subject to tax when the tractor by which it is drawn is exempt as also are replacement tyres and parts for the tractor.

As this is a matter which, no doubt, affects many of your constituents we feel sure you will make every effort to have the anomaly corrected and we await, with interest, your reply in due course.

Another letter says what the trailer is to be used for -

Our farmer client intends to use the tractor for general work on the farm and hitched behind his tractor for the purpose of carting solely his own wheat and general farm produce to the railway.

Instead of the small amount of sales tax that would be payable on the draw bar if the trailer were bought first and the bar added later, the tax involved in the purchase of the trailer is £31 10s. That seems to be an anomaly. I hope that it will be examined and, if possible, removed.

The Prime Minister (Mi-. Chifley) today announced the allocation of £1,500,000 for drought relief to cereal growers in respect of the 1946-47 season. Is that sum to he paid as drought relief in all .the States or only in New South Wales? The statement does not say. I am anxious to know, because many of my constituents whose crops failed in 1946- 47 owing to the drought have written to me asking what is to be done for them, and I have told them that it is for the State Government to apply to the Commonwealth Government for aid and that, when it does so, I shall have the opportunity of stressing their claims in this Parliament. The statement issued by the Prime Minister indicates that he has already made some money available for drought relief. From a general perusal of the statement, it would appear that this allocation covers all States. I should like the position to be clarified, because my constituents are anxious to obtain information on this matter and I want to be able to make a definite announcement to them.


– I support the remarks of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan), who asked the Government to make a pronouncement of policy in relation to the poultry industry. This is one of the primary industries which were called upon by the Government to expand rapidly and extensively during the war for direct war purposes. No other industry responded more readily to that appeal. As the honorable member for Flinders has pointed out, poultry farmers suspect that the Government intends to abandon the industry, which is now established on a basis on which it cannot sustain itself without the goodwill of government policy, particularly in relation to the allocation of poultry feed. I have interested myself in this matter, and I have reached the conclusion that the policy of the Government is to contract the industry. If so, let us deal with it as an issue. The Government should be prepared to declare its policy in respect of any industry. It is not fair for any industry which carries on subject to government approval to be left in doubt as to the Government’s attitude regarding its continuance. There is no need to contract the poultry industry. In fact, I am convinced that there is scope for its expansion. It is one of the primary industries that have not been fully exploited in Australia, a country which lends itself naturally to its development. In the United States of America, the total value of the production of the poultry industry is no fewer than four times the value of Australia’s wool crop. In recent years its value was more than six times the value of our wool crop. Therefore this industry, which most people regard as a humble industry - a small man’s industry which is often made the butt of jokes - could he transformed into one of the first magnitude, as has been done in other countries. In Australia, the raw materials .of the industry - the concentrated grain foods - can be produced more easily and cheaply than in many other countries.

I realize that there are political problems involved in this issue, particularly in relation to the provision of wheat supplies. The poultry industry would not benefit if the Government allocated wheat to it at the present overseas parity value. The industry could not be continued profitably under those conditions. If an undue proportion of the wheat crop were diverted to the industry at substantially less than the overseas parity price, there would be a complex treasury and political problem to be solved. However, there is a way of overcoming this difficulty. Wheat is produced in Australia almost invariably as part of a crop rotation scheme. Other crops produced by wheat-growers are oats and barley, both of which could be used to provide most of the grain feed needed by the poultry industry. If the Government recognized the existing importance, and the potential importance, of the industry it would stimulate the production of coarse grains for poultry feed purposes. These grains, incidentally, can be used for pig feed. The two limiting factors affecting poultry production to-day are the shortage of grain and the shortage of proteins. There is a serious shortage of animal proteins in Australia. In the United States of America, through the work of scientific investigators, poultry-farmers have found that they can replace animal proteins in a substantial measure by using vegetable protein supplements.

These are usually in the form of ground clover leafor ground lucerne. Experiments with vegetable protein supplements in Australia have been conductedon a relatively minute scale. The Commonwealth Government and the State Governments should collaborate in encouraging poultry-farmers to augment their proteinstocks in thisway. If this were done, I am sure that we could not only expandegg productionbut also em barkupon a programme of meat production on a scale which, to my knowledge, has never been contemplated in Australia. In other countries, the value of the meat output of the poultry industry is considerably higher than that of the egg output. There willbe a sure market for poultry meat for many years to come, because every country in the world is short of meat. No branch of the meat industry lends itself asreadily to rapid expansion asdoes the poultry industry. Iurgethe Governmentto make an immediate pronouncement of its policy in relation to the poultry industry,. Does it intendto maintain the industry at its present status, to contract it, or to encourage its expansion? I suggestthat the Government should apply itself immediately to increasing poultry feed production, with particular attention to coarse grain crops which can be grown in rotation with wheat. In addition to barley and oats, grain sorghum can be used for poultry feed. There is tremendous scope for the production of sorghum in the summer rainfall areas of Australia. The poultry industry can be developed into a valuablenational asset and the least that farmers are entitled to expect from the Government is a pronouncement of policy in relation totheir future.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at : 3.35 p.m.

page 1441


The following answers to questions were circulated: -

Mr. D. A. Mountjoy

Mr Anthony:

y askedthe Minister in charge ofthe Councilfor Scientific and Industrial Research, upon notice– 4.When did Mr.D. A. Mountjoy take up dutiesontheexecutive of theCouncil for ScientificandIndustrial Research ?

  1. How much has he received up to the latest available date in salary and/or allowances ?
  2. How many times has Mr. Mountjoy travelled from Perth to Melbourne , and/or any other capital on business connected with his position?
  3. Whatwas the cost of fares in each case.
Mr Dedman:

-The answers to the honorable member’s questionsare as follows 1.20th November. 1946.

  1. Salary up to 28th February, 1947, £1362s. 3d.; travelling allowances to6th February, 1947. £481s.8d.
  2. Travelled from Perth seven times to 6th March, 1947. 4;Seven return faresPerth to Melbourne, £27314s.; one single fare Melbourne to Canberra, £4 17s.9d.; one return fare Melbourne to Sydney. £111s.

Common-wealth Bank : Creditfoncier Loans ; Infants’ Deposits.

Mr.fadden asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. How many individual Credit Foncier loans were actually drawn from the Commonwealth Bank during the year 1946 for the erection and purchase of homes underPart IX ofthe Common wealth Bank Act?
  2. What was the amount of money involved in the loans actually drawn?
  3. How many loans were refused and what was the amount involved ?
  4. Will he ascertain whether the present procedure in dealing with loan applications is too rigid and dilatory?
Mr Chifley:

y. - The answers to the right honorable gentleman’s questions are as follows : -

  1. Credit Foncier loansfor the erection or purchase of hoaxes are authorized by Part XI. ofthe Common wealth Bank Act 1940.. From the 2nd January to the 31st December, 1946. 503loans granted by the bank under this part had been completed. A further 807 loans had been partially drawn. During the year 2,569 loans were approved for a total amount of £2,482,000.
  2. Thetotal amount drawnup to the 31st December, 1946 in respect to the 1,310 . loans completed and in course of completion mentioned inNo. 1 above was £713,000.
  3. Seventy-eight loan applications involving £68,000 were declined.
  4. The bank informs me that ithas received no evidence to suggest that its method of dealing with loan applications is either rigid or dilatory.

On the 26th March the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) asked a question regarding provisions in the Commonwealth Bank Act dealing with SavingsBankdeposits of infants. I am now able to supply the following information to the honorable member : -

Under the Commonwealth Bank Act the Commonwealth Savings Bank has the power to accept deposits to the credit of an infant in such a way as will secure the money lodged against withdrawn! until the infant has reached the age of twelve years. This facility is widely used. The experience of the Savings Bank has shown that in the case of accounts of this nature it is desirable that there should be uniformity as to the age limit at which withdrawals may be permitted and that the age of twelve years as prescribed by the act is the most suitable. The act also provides that deposits may be made by any person as trustee for any other person. Under this provision parents and others may open accounts as trustees for infants and thus secure’ the moneys against withdrawal for any period that they desire, for example, until attainment of 21 years df age. Experience has shown that these arrangements suitably meet public needs and provide” satisfactory protection in respect of the lodgment of money for the benefit of infants.

Armed Forces : Medical Officers.

Mr Chambers:
Minister for the Army · ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

s. - On the 16th April the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) asked the following questions: -

  1. How many medical officers who voluntarily enlisted for “ the duration of the war and twelve mouths after” are being held against their will in the three services?
  2. If he is not aware of the number being unwillingly held, will be arrange for a confidential questionnaire to be sent to medical officers so that the information may be obtained?
  3. What steps are being taken to release medical officers who are being unwillingly held, particularly in the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force?
  4. What steps are being taken to recruit medical officers on a permanent basis to the services and what will be the conditions of employment of such officers?

So far as the Department of the Army is concerned the answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. Twenty-three.
  2. See answer to No. 1.
  3. Release in each case is dependent upon availability of a replacement by a volunteer for service in the Interim Army, or by a decrease in medical responsibility allowing release without replacement. Medical officers held are released in turn under priority points for release.
  4. Question of organization and conditions of service post-war army still under consideration. No action is being taken to recruit medical officers on a permanent basis until this matter has been decided.

Broadcasting : News SERVICE of Australian Broadcasting Commission.

Mr Hutchinson:

asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon no lice -

  1. Who is the officer appointed to take charge of the overseas news service of the Australian Broadcasting Commission?
  2. What salary and other allowances are payable to this officer?
  3. What are the terms of his. appointment?
  4. What other overseas and Australian appointments have been made to this branch of the .Australian Broadcasting Commission since its inauguration?
  5. What salaries and allowances are being paid, to each officer so appointed and what are their respective duties?
Mr Calwell:

l. - The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following infor’mation : -

  1. The officer appointed to take charge of the overseas news service of the Australian Broadcasting Commission is Mr. E. H. Jackson, London, who has been in charge of the London news office of the commission since September, 1930. For two years prior to that date, he supplied the commission .with overseas news on a part-time basis.
  2. Mr. Jackson’s salary as from the 2nd December, 194(1, is £1,200 (sterling) per annum pins an expenses allowance of £250 (sterling) per annum.
  3. No period is stipulated in Mr. Jackson’s letter of appointment dated the 4th February, 1947.
  4. Mr. Jackson has been in charge of the London news staff since 1939, and until recently he was assisted by two full-time journalists and one part-time journalist. The staff now employed in the London news office, in addition to Mr. Jackson, consists of seven journalists and one typist. No other overseas appointments have been made. No specific appointments have been made in Australia to deal with overseas news, as the staff handles overseas as well as local news.
  5. The duties of the seven journalists mentioned, who “are paid at ruling rates for such employment in London, are to select in London, and cable to the commission’s news office in Sydney, the overseas news services supplied by Reuters, Associated Press, British United Press, Exchange Telegraph and Press Association.

Coal: Joint Control Board

Mr Ryan:

n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -

  1. What are the names of the persons appointed to the Joint Coal Board established under the recent joint coal legislation?
  2. What are the salaries of the respective members of the board and of officers employed by the board at a salary over £500 per annum ?
  3. What are the union affiliations, if any, of the respective members of the board and the respective officers of the Board?
  4. What are the military service records, if any, of members of the board or officers of the board?
Mr Dedman:

– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information

  1. The names of the board members are - K. A. Cameron (chairman), A. E. Warburton (member) and R. P. Jack (member).
  2. and i. Classifications, salaries and war service of board members and officers receiving salaries of £500 per annum or over are -

All the above officers were previously employed by the Coal Commissioner or allied government departments.

  1. The board members and the officers of the board have no union affiliations other than ordinary membership of their respective Public Service associations.
Mr Archie Cameron:
Postmaster-General · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

n asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -

  1. Did the Commonwealth Government endeavour to charter ships to faring migrants to Australia within the last six months?
  2. If so, how many such ships were chartered, and upon what terms and through what agencies ?
  3. Were any such charters cancelled?
  4. Was the Aquitania the subject of charter negotiations?
  5. If so, to what cause was the failure to charter attributable?
Mr Calwell:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. The Commonwealth Government has endeavoured over the last six months to charter suitable vessels far migration purposes. Extensive inquiries have already been made by our representatives in the United Kingdom, Holland, the United States of America and even in the Philippines. Wherever there is any prospect of chartering a suitable ship overseas it is fully investigated. The inquiries made by our representatives overseas maybe described as continuous both in governmental and in shipping circles. Particular attention has been directed to the possibility of obtaining any surplus shipping from the United States and a full review of passenger shipping which may be available from this source for British migration purposes has been forwarded by air mail, by the Australian Minister, Washington, and is now awaited. The efforts to obtain shipping additional to tha t specially allocated to Australia for migrants by the United Kingdom Government for 1947 have been directed by the Commonwealth Government solely to securing transport for as many British migrants as possible. 2 and 3. No ships have yet been chartered. It has to be remembered that there is an acute shortage of and a great demand for passenger shipping throughout the world, consequently ships which would be considered suitable for carrying British migrants arc most difficult to secure. The Commonwealth Government considersthat reasonably comfortable accommodation, even if it is austere compared with pre-war passenger standards, should be provided for these migrants. Accommodation available on certain foreign-owned ships would not measure up to requirements for carrying British migrants to Australia. 4 and 5. The Aquilania has been the subject of charter negotiations between the United Kingdom Government authorities, the Australian High Commissioner in London, representing the Commonwealth, and the Cunard Line owners of the vessel. These negotiations had reached the final stage when the United Kingdom Government asked that they he deferred on account of the need to hold the vessel to meet an emergency which may arise. The negotiations for the Aquitania will be re-opened when this emergency no longer exists.
Mr Bernard Corser:

r asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that the profit on sales of dairy produce to Great Britain since the 1st July last is being returned to the industry?.
  2. Will he make clear the position regarding the £5,700,000 profit on the sale of butter and cheese to Great Britain prior to the 1st July last?
  3. What proportion of this amount, being the difference between the price paid by the Commonwealth Government to the dairyfarmer and the price received by the. Commonwealth Government for such commodity from the British Government, is held by the Treasury ?
  4. Is this amount to be distributed to those who earned it on the Australian dairy-farms; if so, when?

Mr.POLLARD. -The answersto the honorablemember’squestions areas follows:-

  1. Yes. 2, 3’and 4.There was no profit onsalesof butter and cheese to the United Kingdom prior to the 1st July,1946, and therefore no money is being held by theCommonwealth Treasury. The sumof £5,700,000 isthe reim- bursementby the Governmentof the United Kingdom of the difference between thef.o.b. contract prices which operated prior to the1st July, 1946, and therate calculated to return to theproducer the recognized cost of production,which has alreadybeenpaid to all producers by theCommonwealthGovernmentby wayof price plus subsidy.


Mr Hamilton:

asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -

  1. Was SirClive McPherson chairman of the Australian Wheat Board and chairman of the Wheat Stabilization Committee during the war years? 2.If so; when was he appointed to the two positions and when did he resign fromsuch positions ?
  2. Did he serve on both bodies in an honorary capacity?
  3. Was SirLouis Bussau appointed chairman of the Australian Wheat Board and Mr. Parker Moloney chairman of the Wheat Stabilization Committee following Sir Clive Mcpherson’s retirement from the chairmanship of both?
  4. If so, are both these men paid tonot on each of those authorities?
  5. What have they received annually in salary and/or expenses and allowances.?
Mr Pollard:

d. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. Yes.
  2. Australian Wheat Board - appointed the 21st September, 1939, resigned the 23rd August,1945. Wheat Industry Stabilization Board - appointed the23rd January,1941, resigned the 11th January, 1946:
  3. Yes.
  4. Yes:
  5. Yes.
  6. The chairman of the Australian Wheat Board receives a salary of £1,750 per annum and an allowance at the rate of £2 2s. per day when obliged to be absent from homeover- night on such business of the board as the board determines. ‘The Chairmanof the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board receives a salary of £500 per annum and an allowance of £22s, per day under the sameconditions, as those applying to thechairman of the Australian Wheat Board.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 April 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.