18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr; . Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr.- HARBISON.- Will the Minister representing the. Minister for. Trade and Customs state whether the Deputy. Prices Commissioner, Mr. Herlihy, announced in a press statement last February that it was proposed to institute an all-out drive against black marketing in timber? If so, can the Minister state what progress) has been made in the campaign against black marketeers, whether any prosecutions have been launched against offenders, and whether there has been any diminution- of black-marketing operations in this commodity, which- is so vital to home-builders?
– I shall refer tho question to the Minister for -Trade and Customs. I have no doubt that he will fi::’n;sh an adequate answer in due course.
– I have received many complaints from farmers and produce merchants, because of their inability to obtain adequate supplies of pollard and wheat for stock feed, mostly in the dairying and pig-raising industries, ls the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture able to take action through his department with a view to alleviating the position?
– I have no doubt that the honorable member has in. mind the position in Victoria. The output of bran and pollard in that State is at a very high level, but so is the demand, due. to the capacity of wheat farmers and poultry raisers to use this class of feed, because of the remunerative prices they are receiving for their products. I do nol know that anything can be done to overtake the shortage. During the war, under delegated national security powers, tha Government of Victoria supervised the distribution of bran and pollard in order to ensure priority of supplies to those who needed them most. During the debate on the financial statement, members of the Opposition clamoured for the removal of control from different kinds , primary production. In the circumstances, I am afraid that it would be impracticable for the State of Victoria to exercise control of the distribution of these products, as it did formerly. However, I shall be very glad to make an inquiry with a view to determining whether distribution can be accelerated. There may have been a temporary interruption of distribution during the recent unfortunate industrial disturbance in Victoria.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the statement of the Commonwealth Statistician that, at the end of February last, 550,100 of’ a total of 2,193,400 persons engaged in civilian’ employment in Australia are on the Government payroll? If so, with respect to persons employed by the. Commonwealth .Government, is the right honorable gentleman able to indicate the Commonwealth departments in which employment has increased since the end of the war, what, justification there has been for such increases, and what steps, .if any, are being taken to ensure that rigid economy shall be practised in the staffing of Commonwealth departments ?
– I have not read the’ figures cited, but I heard references to the matter by the right honorable gentleman or some other honorable gentleman during the recent debate on the financial statement. I have had a report prepared on the subject showing the number of persons employed by the Commonwealth Government at the present time, as compared -with the peak period of the war, and showing also what has been done in regard to staffing in the various departments. It is a very long report. I would not like to embody it in Hansard, because it would involve too much work at the Government Printing Office, but I will make it available to the honorable member and to the press.
– Has the Minister for Immigration seen a statement by Mr. A. Masel, published in the Australian Jewish Herald of the 3r.d April last, that the Minister for Immigration had laid it down that immigrants under a Jewish scheme must be of Jewish faith? Have any steps been taken by his department to prevent the entry of Christians under any scheme controlled by his department? Has any action been taken by him to ascertain the religious faith of any intending migrants to this country?
– I have read the statement referred to, and it is in accordance with the facts. I told the Jewish Welfare Organization “that any persons about whom they desired to make representations must be of the Jewish faith; that is, they must be Jewish people who attend the Synagogue. I did not want the Jewish organizations to be making representations to. me on behalf of that class of persons who has become known as Nuremburg Jews - that is, persons who were condemned under the Hitler regime because one or more of their grandparents had been Jews. Both in Europe and outside of it there are such persons who profess the Christian faith. I want the
Jewish organization to confine its activities to Jewish people. In regard, to Nuremburg Jews, I have established, in. co-operation with the proper authorities, two committees to represent persons of partly Jewish blood. One of these committees will concern itself with those who profess the Protestant faith, while the other committee will represent Catholics. The committee ‘ to represent the Protestants is in Melbourne and is presided over by Professor Woodrow, the secretary being Miss Margaret Holmes. The Catholic committee is located in Sydney, mid the secretary is Mrs. J. Harcombe. I think the honorable member is misinterpreting the news item if he thinks that the Jewish people have been given advantages over other persons of Christian faith who are partly of Jewish origin. That, of course, would be a very un-Christian-like attitude to adopt.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration. (1) How many British people have come to Australia since the cessation of war in the Pacific? (2) How many of these were new British migrants and how many migrants other than British came? (3) How many ex-service men and women who were British received their discharge in Australia? (4) How many allied servicemen received their discharges in Australia, and what were their nationalities? (5) How many applications from British people ‘have been lodged in Australia House, London, by persons ‘who wish to come to Australia? (6) What, are the terms upon which British migrants can come to Australia in the future?
– The honorable member was good . enough to tell me that he intended to ask a series of questions on this subject. The number of British people’ who came to Australia between V-P Day and the 31st January, 1947, was 38,413. That figure includes temporary visitors and returning Australians. The number of new British migrants to come to Australia between V-P Day and the 31st January, 1947, -was 22,274 and 2,605 foreign migrants, of whom about 700 were refugees, were admitted up to the 31st December, 1946. The number of British ex-service men and women who received their discharge in
Australia was 2,873. The number of allied ex-servicemen who received their discharge in Australia was 917, of whom 812 were American and 105 Dutch. Approximately 196,193 applications have been lodged by Britishers at Australia House for free and assisted passages to Australia and for the right, as it were, to enter Australia of those willing to pay the fares of themselves and their dependants. There are two agreements with the United Kingdom under our migration schemes. One provides for free passages to Australia for suitable ex-service men and women of the United Kingdom armed forces and merchant navy, together with their dependants. Under that scheme, the whole of the passage money is paid by the United Kingdom Government as part of its rehabilitation scheme. There is also an assisted passage agreement whereby the approved migrant is obliged to pay: (a) £10 sterling if nineteen years of age or over, (6) £5 sterling if fourteen years and under nineteen years, and (c) nothing if under fourteen years of age. The difference between these rates and the amount charged by the shipping companies is met by the United Kingdom and Australian Governments. The actual amount paid by the governments varies on different ships inasmuch as the rates charged by the companies vary. 1 answered this question in this form because I did not desire to take up the time of the House by asking for leave to make a statement.
– I rise to order. I have always understood that the time allotted for asking questions in the afternoon is an occasion when honorable members have the right to ask questions without notice, and that if questions are asked upon notice, they must be placed upon the notice-paper. Therefore, I ask you, Mr. Speaker, at your convenience, to investigate whether a practice is to be introduced under which an honorable member may give privately an intimation to a Minister of his intention to ask him a question, and the Minister subsequently produce a typewritten statement from which he reads the answer, I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that if this practice is adopted by honorable members on both sides of the House, we might very well devote the whole of a sitting day to having lengthy answers read to very abstruse questions.
– On previous occasions I have dealt with the matter of replies by Ministers to questions without notice. There was a growing practice - and I have to admit that it was a growing practice before this Government took office - of Ministers making lengthy replies to questions asked the previous day. In view of that growing practice, 1 ruled that a Minister, in order to reply to a question asked the previous day or some period before, would have to obtain the permission of the House. In my long experience of this Rouse, the practice has been for some honorable members to indicate to Ministers what they intended toask, and the Ministers would then give either a short or long reply. I do not think that there is anything to prevent an honorable member from doing that. In the Senate, it is the general custom to do so. It does not offend against any standing order.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture seen a statement in the Sydney press this morning by the secretary of the New South Wales Flour Mill Owners Association that after the 19th May mills in New SouthWales will drop from two shifts a day to one shift, that this will mean a reduction of about 125,000 tons a year and that Great Britain will be the worse sufferer? As the statement indicates that this is due to the failure of the Victorian transportation system, was anything done in respect of the question I asked in the House last year concerning the possibility of using hulks for the transport of wheat from southern ports to New South Wales, such hulks to be towed by oceangoing tugs?
– I have not seen the statement in question; but it is true that, due to transport difficulties, and the fact that there has been a severe drought in New SouthWales, it has become necessary to reduce the hours that will be worked in many New South Wales flour mills. The Commonwealth Government is paying a subsidy of1s. 6d. a bushel in respect of all wheat shifted interstate to New South Wales in order to assist in keeping mills in that State running, even at reduced hours. I emphasize that Great Britain will not suffer as the result of the reduction of output referred to by the honorable member, because any wheat not shifted from Victoria for milling in New South Wales will be milled in Victoria, in which State there is sufficient capacity to process it. With regard to the latter part of the honorable member’s question, some inquiries were made regarding the practicability of bringing wheat to New South Wales in hulks. The information conveyed to me on that subject was that it would not be a practical proposition.
– Can the Minister for the Navy supply the House with uptodate information as to the possibility of releasing men who have served six years or more in the Royal Australian Navy who have applied for such release? Has the Government yet formulated its peacetime overall naval programme, especially in relation to the complement of the postwar Navy.
– In reply to the first part of the honorable member’s question, which relates to permanent personnel of the Navy, a large number of applications have been received from men desirous of being released. Such of the applications as are based on compassionate grounds receive most sympathetic consideration. It will be appreciated, however, that the number of applications is so great that if all were granted the strength of the Navy would be very substantially depleted. By the end of this year the department expects to be in a position to indicate the possibilities of releasing those who are now seeking their discharge. As to the second part of the honorable member’s question, as has already been indicated by the Minister for Defence, a statement will be made to the House in the near future indicating the post-war strength of the three service.?.
– In view of reports that shipments of meat to Britain are a month behind schedule as a result of the Sydney waterfront dispute and that shipments of flour to Britain will cease shortly as an aftermath of the engineers’ dispute in Melbourne, will the Prime Minister have prepared for presentation to the House a. statement setting out: 1. How many ships destined to carry food for Britain were delayed as a result of the Sydney waterfront dispute, what was their cargo capacity, and for what periods were their sailings delayed. 2. What effects will the engineers’ dispute in Victoria have upon the shipment of flour and other food to Britain. 3. What delays to ships sailing to Britain have beencaused in the last six months by labour shortages on Sydney wharfs?
– Answers to questions of that character involve a great amount of work and investigation. I am always reluctant to make promises that involve officials in weeks and weeks of work, particularly as honorable members complain about the number of people in the Public Service. However, I will with the Minister for Supply and Shipping examine the honorable gentleman’s question to ascertain whether it is possible to supply him with a reasonably short answer that does not require too much - investigation.
– I refer to the serious plight of Great Britain in respect of meat supplies, and to a statement in to-day’s press by the British Minister of Food, Mr. Strachey, that the shortage in the second half of 1947 will he worse than it is now. In the light of this situation,’ will the Minister for Commerce and . Agriculture give to the House the information which, so far, he has persistently refused to give, as to the nature of the scheme submitted to him by the chairman of the Australian Meat Board, which,, in a prepared statement to the House on the 1st May, he said that he had endorsed, and to publicize which he had authorized the expenditure of government funds? This scheme, it was stated, called for the co-operation of graziers and stockowners. Will the Minister tell the House in what manner the co-operation of graziers and stock-owners is sought, and what is expected of them? He has refused to answer the question on each occasion on which it has been asked.
– Order ! .
– Will the Minister state whether the reason for his refusal is that there is no, practical scheme to announce; that the proposals under the scheme are of such an unfair and sectional character that he hesitates publicly to state them; or that he is so indifferent to the British people’s food problems that he can treat with evasion and levity any request for information?
– Order ! I have previously drawn the attention of the honorable gentleman to his use of language that is not permissible.
– I shall conclude by asking whether the Minister is so indifferent to the British people’s food problem that he can consistently refuse to give information?
– I am. completely indifferent to the honorable member’s stupidity. On a. previous occasion, the nature of the answer that I -furnished to him was governed by my belief that he was fully aware of the scheme that had been propounded by the Australian Meat Board to assist Great Britain. The honorable gentleman knows full well that the graziers, backed by organizations of ex-servicemen in New South Wales, have, agreed to co-operate with the Australian Meat Board in a scheme whereby graziers may consign their stock to works indicated by the board, aud that stock is to be . earmarked specifically for consignment to Great Britain at the ruling export prices. I believe that the honorable member was fully aware of that fact when he facetiously asked the questions that he submitted to me quite recently.
– The question that I am about to ask is prompted by to-day’s report that there is a. serious lag in the shipment of meat and other foods to Great Britain. I understand that when the Stevedoring Industry Bill was before this House, the Government intimated to the Waterside Workers Federation that it would require certain assurances in regard to continuity of ,fork and satisfactory performance of duty on the waterfront before the act would be proclaimed. I now ask the Attorney-General whether such assurances have been sought and obtained, and whether the act has been proclaimed to come into operation.
– The act has been assented to, but has not yet been proclaimed to come into operation. That is dependent, not upon any specific assurances being given, but upon arrangements being made in respect of the organization of the commission, and these will not be completed until arrangements for the new organization under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act can be carried into effect.
– Has the Minister for Information seen the statement of Mr. Mungo MacCallum in last night’s Sydney Sm, that when the honorable gentleman stated in Parliament on the 5th March last that no report had been submitted to him by Mr. Ralph Foster, formerly National Film Commissioner, he had been misinformed, as the report was made to the board when he wa:« its chairman? Has he seen Mr. Mungo MacCallum’s further statement that if the Minister reads the report he will see that all is far’ from well with Australian propaganda film policy, that Mr. Foster never had the confidence of the officials in the Department of Information, and the fact that the Minister’s advisers were keeping the report to themselves makes it certain that it was critical? In view of these comments, will the Minister obtain the report and make a statement to the House, provided he gets leave to do so?
– If the honorable member can guarantee that I shall get leave, I shall consider his question, and make a statement to the House. The statement -which I made, and I am not sure whether I made it to the House or outside it, is correct. Mr. Foster did not make the report to me as Minister for Information, but he made a report to the National Film Board, of which I was at one time the chairman, but of which I have not been chairman for a considerable period. If the honorable member assures me that a report in my department is a very critical one, I shall certainly take early opportunity to examine it. There is nothing to hide about the activities of the board. I have a very great regard for the work which Mr. Foster did, and when he left the service of the board after being on loan from the Canadian Government for twelve months, I gave to him a very eulogistic letter on his work in Australia.
– Last week the honorable member for Moreton asked me a question of very great importance to sugar-growers. I have since had supplied to me some information of an exceedingly helpful character to those producers. I ask for leave to make a statement in reply to the question of the honorable member.
Opposition Members. - No.
Leave not granted.
Business of State Governments and Government Instrumentalities
– In financial legislation passed by this Parliament some time ago power was given to require State governments, semi-governmental and local governmental bodies to transfer their accounts from private banking institutions. Will the Treasurer inform me whether the time has arrived when that power may be exercised, and if so whether any direction has been given to the authorities mentioned to transfer their business from private banking institutions, and to place their money in the bank which is the people’s bank?
– Under section 48 of the Banking Act power was given to the Treasurer to direct that private hanks should not accept business .from State governments, semi-governmental instrumentalities and local-governing bodies. I have consulted, the State Premiers whose governments now bank with private banks, with the object of obtaining compliance with that section. Arrangements have been made for the Government of Victoria to transfer its business to the Commonwealth Bank. It has not been possible to arrange for the Government of
New South Wales to do so, because sufficient staff and accommodation are not available. I have also intimated to about 200 local-governing bodies that, having regard to the powers in the section to which I have referred, they are not to conduct their banking with the private trading banks after the 1st August next.
– Does that apply to the Abercrombie Shire?
– It does, and its account has already been transferred. The direction given does not indicate that the authorities mentioned must transfer their business to the Commonwealth Bank. Where there are State banks with facilities available the business may be transferred to them. I have taken care, in consultation with the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, to ensure that wherever this direction has been issued the Commonwealth Bank will he in a position to supply the needed banking facilities to enable the business to be transferred without inconvenience.
AUSTRALIANS nr Japan: State ELECTORAL Rights.
– Yesterday I asked the Minister for the Army a question relating to press reports to the effect that soldiers from New South Wales -who are in Japan were unable to vote at the recent State elections. . The Minister, in what purported to be a reply to my question, said that it was a State matter and not a Commonwealth matter. I’ now ask the honorable gentleman whether the distribution of ballot-papers to New South Wales electors in Japan was not a matter for the officer in command in Japan, or same officer under his charge. If so, will the Minister now tell the House why ballot-papers were not distributed to the troops who were entitled to receive them?
– Yesterday I informed the honorable member that it was the responsibility of the Government of New South Wales to arrange for troops from New South Wales who were in Japan to record their votes; it was not a Commonwealth responsibility. I assure the honorable member that if the Government of New South Wales had arranged for the ballot-papers to be forwarded to British Commonwealth Occu pation Forces the officer in command would have, seen that they were distributed.
– Were they sent to him?
– I am not in a position to say whether they were or were not. I suggest that the honorable member should approach the member of the State Parliament who represents his district and ask him to ascertain whether the Government of New South Wales forwarded the ballotpapers dr not. It was not the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to do so ; it had nothing to do .with the forwarding of the papers. If the honorable member can assure me that the papers were forwarded to the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, I shall inquire as to why they were not distributed.
– Numerous representations having been made to me on the subject, I ask the Minister for Works and Housing whether investigations have been made as to the suitability of Dampney concrete for homebuilding? Can the claims in respect of durability and low cost pf production be substantiated ? Has a demonstration cottage been erected for public inspection, as has been the case with other examples of modern home-building recently?
– The Dampney form of construction . has been examined by officers of my department in the experimental building station at Ryde, New South Wales. Some time ago, I requested the experimental engineers to make this examination. They examined certain homes that had been built by Mr. Dampney, or under his direction and with his system, which is a system of concrete slabs. There are many other systems of concrete slab production. In the first houses examined, it was considered that there were some faults in the form of construction which could have been avoided had a different code of practice been followed. Therefore, I requested the experimental station to draft a code of construction which might assist Mr. Dampney and his form of construction. That code was drafted. About ten days ago. I sent a copy of it to the Warringah
Shire Council, in which Mr. Dampney now desires to build a home under it. I have asked the council to issue to him u building permit, if it can see fit to do so, in order that construction may be undertaken. The costs were submitted to me on a square basis, and the construction appeared to be extremely cheap. However, I do not believe that the house could be built so cheaply if the internal fittings were the same as are used in other forms of construction, and the house were built to the same specifications. I have arranged that, if Mr. Dampney proceeds with the construction of this house, a close check shall be kept on costs, in order to determine whether his construction is better than other forms. If it is, we shall he interested in it.
-.- In view of the report that the United States of America is sending a trade delegation to Japan, and is thus “getting in on the ground floor” in regard to future trade with that country, I ask .the Prime Minister whether his Government intends to do likewise in the near future?
– Already a delegation from Australia is in Japan, and its inquiries will concern largely textiles and piecegoods. We have ‘ kept very closely in touch with trade developments in Japan, and have had representatives there dealing with wool sales through the military organization. It is intended to keep closely in touch with all developments in regard to the supply of materials or commodities from this country which may be urgently needed there, as well as in regard to obtaining from that country goods that may be urgently needed here. I assure the honorable member that all steps have been taken to keep the Government fully apprised of the possibilities.
– Will the Minister for the Army say whether it is true that many ex-servicemen have applied for advance payment of their war gratuity? Tc it true that there are no regulations governing the payment of war gratuity that would enable payments to be made even for the purpose of preventing the loss of an ex-serviceman’s business? Will the Minister consider the inclusion of such a provision in the regulations?
– The War Gratuity Aci, provides for the making of hardship payments in certain cases.
– Only in the case of sickness.
– I think the honorable member will realize that the conditions governing payments were agreed upon and incorporated in the act in the light of the experience gained in the payment of gratuity after World War I. I receive many requests for the early payment of gratuity, so that the money may be used for business purposes. We know that many returned soldiers from World War I. lost the whole of their gratuities by making bad business investments, and that is why the conditions have been made fairly strict now. However, I shall look into the matter, and discuss it with my colleagues in Cabinet.
– Will the Prime Minister consider a proposal that the Commonwealth Government should make a gift of money to assist the representation of Australia at the next Olympic games ?
– The matter will be considered.
Formal Motion fob Adjournment.
– 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 extent to which the Commonwealth Literary Fund is being used to subsidize Communists and former Communists in the production of Australian literature.
.- I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported ?
Five honorable members having risen
– I have moved the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The extent to which the Commonwealth Literary Fund is being used to subsidize Communists and former Communists in the production of Australian literature”. When I learned that the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) must have known the facts- regarding the career of Mr. Bawling at the time when he made an unwarranted attack on me, I asked myself why he was seeking to make such a diversion - why he was trying to draw a red herring across the trail. I asked myself whether this member of: the advisory co’mmittee of the Commonwealth Literary Fund was trying to cover up something in connexion with its activities. Then, when the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) refused me the timehonoured right to make a personal explanation in reply to gross personal misrepresentation, I became convinced that there was something which the Government was trying to hide. I have always believed, and I still believe, that the Commonwealth Literary Fund is a good thing, but I was of the opinion that its function was to assist Australian authors of talent. I assumed that the controllers of the fund would inform themselves regarding the record and character of an author whom it was proposed to assist from a fund provided by the public, and particularly that they . would assure themselves that his work was free from bias. I believed that assistance would not bc given to men and women whose work was of an extreme character. Since the attack upon me by the honorable member for Parkes, I have examined the nature of the control of the Commonwealth Literary Fund, and I have learned that no safeguards exist to ensure an a bsence of bias in the work of those whom the fund is used to assist. The fund is not established by statute. It depends on an annual appropriation hy the Parliament. It seems to be somewhat like Melchizedec - it had neither father nor mother, and it has neither beginning nor end. There is an advisory committee which is supposed to. inquire into the qualifications of a candidate for assis tance, and to make recommendations to those .authorized to approve or disapprove the application. For the members of this board I have the greatest respect. They are the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Leader of the -Opposition (Mr. Menzies). It- is as good a body. a.s could be appointed, but as its decisions depend largely upon the recommendations made to it by the advisory committee, it is imperative that those recommendations should be unbiased, and should state the facts of the case. What can happen under the present system has been. exemplified in the case of Mr. Bawling, and it is evident that there is urgent need to overhaul the system. The honorable member for Parkes, who is a member of the’ advisory committee, is on the horns of a dilemma as the result of his attack on me the other day. Either he knew the history of Mr. Bawling at the time he advised the board regarding the making of a grant - in which case he was guilty of making a bad recommendation, and also of making a dishonest attack upon me - or he had not made full inquiries regarding Mr. Rawling, and had therefore been remiss in his duty. In either case he has shown himself to be unfit to be a member of the advisory committee. This incident emphasized the. need for a full inquiry into the work of the advisory committee.
I conic now to the particular case under review. As an admirer of the poetry of Charles Harpur, I was interested in his biography. I knew that Mr. Cecil Salier and Dr. Robinson, of the Queensland University, were recognized authorities on the life of Harpur, and had done years of study “and much writing on his works. Therefore, when Mr. Bawling was appointed by the advisory committee of the Commonwealth Literary Fund to write Harpur’s biography, I made inquiries at the Mitchell Library for information regarding Rawling, so that I might learn why he had been chosen in preference to Mr. Salier or Dr. Robinson. The Attorney-General (Dr Evatt) is, I believe, president of the Mitchell Library, so he is well aware that under the State law, this library receives copies of all books published in New South Wales, and rarely misses buying those published in other States. It keeps an index of all articles, as well as of all books brought to it, on Australian subjects. In the Mitchell Library there is no evidence that Mr. Bawling ever wrote a single article on Charles Harpur. There is an extensive index in the library and it is the only place in Australia where a proper examination of Harpur’s works can be made. I found that there was no record of Mr. Bawling ever having consulted the library officials in relation to Harpur’s works. My inquiries there revealed that the only works written by Bawling were these: Hitler’s Threat to Peace - a sixteen-page pamphlet printed ten years ago for the Friends of the Soviet Union, and the Front Against War and Fascism, a body with headquarters in Moscow. It was concerned more with opposing defence in Australia that with Hitler. Speakers’ Notes for the Communist Party (1938) on Conscription. This was printed by Forward Press, a printing business then owned by the Central Committee of the Communist party, through a nominee, and taken over in 1940 by the Government when the papers which it printed were suppressed. In this document it was suggested that there was no danger from Japan and that the real objective of those who demanded compulsory military training was to secure trained forces to aid the Imperialist aggressors of Britain to attack Russia. Another publication was Who Owns Australia? This was a 64-page pamphlet of Communist propaganda directed against big Australian concerns, particularly those such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which assisted the defence of Australia to a material degree. It was part of the propaganda by which the Communists sought before the war to assure that if a crisis came this country would be defenceless. It was published by Modern Publishers, the official Communist publishing house, and printed by the Forward Press, the Communist party’s official printer. There was also A History of the Australian People, written from the Communist angle, and published in parts by Modern Publishers, an official Communist publishing house, and printed by Forward Press, the official Communist press. It consisted of a series of pamphlets, and carried on its covers advertisements for other Communist publications. It gave a Communist twist to the whole of our early history. In addition, Mr. Bawling wrote various articles in the Communist Review, to which he was a regular contributor every month until just before it was suppressed in 1940. He seems to have been the originator of the idea which led to the Young Communist party changing its name to Eureka League of Youth. These works represent the whole literary output of Mr. Bawling, as recorded in the Mitchell Library. His qualifications as an interpreter of the life of an Australian poet are entirely negative, since, for twenty years, he has been steeped in the viewpoint of Russian Communism. ‘
On the 26th March, 1947,I accordingly asked the Prime Minister a series of questions. I ask honorable members to note carefully their wording, because they constitute a. contradiction of everything that has been said about me in regard to this matter. The questions were -
Will the Prime Minister inform me whether Mr. J. M. Bawling has been granted a fellowshipvalued at £400 by the Commonwealth Literary Fund, to write the life of the poet Charles Harpur? Is this Mr. Bawling the same gentleman who was chief publicity officer of the Communist party for some years, and who wrote the Communist party’s official history of Australia, which was published by the official Communist publishing house? What qualifications does Mr. Bawling possess to write the life of Charles Harpur? Are his qualifications superior to those of recognized authorities on the poet who hare no association with the Communist party? Will the right honorable gentleman lay upon the table of the House all recommendations, reports and papers relating to the granting to Mr. Bawling of this fellowship?
It is clear that my question referred to Mr. Rawling’s publicity work in the past tense, as I specifically used the words “was chief publicity officer . . . for some years, and who wrote . . . “ In reply, the Prime Minister said -
Offhand, I am not able to give the right honorable gentleman all the information that he seeks. I remember that the name of Mr. Bawling was associated with an application for a fellowship, but I am not able to recall whether the fellowship was granted to him. I do not know whether I can promise, at this stage, to lay all the relevant papers upon the table of the House, but I shall ensure that the right honorable gentleman is fully informed regarding the matter.
On the18th April, 1947, I received an undated letter from the Prime Minister, enclosing a copy of a communication dated the 12th April, 1947, which he had received from Mr. J. M. Rawling. It will be recalled that on Tuesday I asked the right honorable gentleman’s permission to read it. It reads as follows : -
I wish to refer to the question asked about me by SirEarle Page on March 26, and to state that there is not an atom of truth in the allegations made by him. I was never “ Chief publicity officer of the Communist party” and I havenot written “the official history of the party”.
On the evidence of his books and literary activities this, of course, was a quibble. Mr. Rawling’s letter continued -
There were many men of my generation who served in the 1914-18 war and were disillusioned in the years that followed, who beca me enthused about the Russian Revolution and saw some hope for the world therein. We were disillusioned there, too, but I am in good company.
But what I wrote for the Communist party was mainly what 1 could still stand by. It took two forms -
Agitation for collective security, 1935-39, and
Australian historical articles.
In regard to the Communist party, I think that, if it were asked, it would designate me as its number 1 enemy. I have spoken over the national network and have published numerous newspaper articles against that party. For I regard it as democracy’s greatest enemy and a dire threat to the Labour movement.
I should be grateful if, in answering Sir Earle Page’s questions, you would not dwell onmy association with the Communist party, but be content to deny his allegations. I ask this because I and mine have suffered enough because of that association and feel that any further publicity will militate against my being employed again as a teacher in a G.P.S. after expiry of my fellowship.
As to my qualifications to write a life of Charles Harpur - they are these: I specialized in history for my B.A. at Sydney University; I gained my M.A. in Australian history for a Life ofD.H. Dencihy and I have written and published aHistory of Australia to 1832 in a volume of 480 pages.
In an undated letter to me, which I received on the18th April last, the Prime Minister wrote -
In the circumstances explained by Mr. Bawling I think you will agree that it will be unnecessary to reply at length to the state ments made in your question. I have therefore prepared a reply in the following terms: -
I have made inquiries in connexion with this matter and am advised by Mr. Bawling that he is not a member of the Communist party and that, on the contrary, he is an active opponent of that party “.
In view of the appeal in Mr. Rawling’s letter to the Prime Minister, I replied thanking him for his courtesy in sending me the letter and was prepared to let the matter of Mr. Rawling’s past communistic activities drop, as the statement referred simply to the present position of Mr. Rawling indicating that he was not now a member of the Communist party. In view of the attitude of the Prime Minister, and of the contents of Mr. Rawling’s letter, a copy of which the Prime Minister had sent me, and the facts I had gleaned, I was appalled at the attack made on me, in my absence from the House, by the honorable member for Parkes, who is a member of the advisory committee of the Commonwealth Literary Fund. The honorable member for Parkes said -
The right honorable member for Cowper asked a question concerning Mr. J. M. Bawling. He alleged that Mr. Bawling, who had been awarded a literary fellowship by the Commonwealth Government, was a member of the Communist party.
He had to use the past tense, because I did. He asked -
In view of the scandalous case of character assassination by the right honorable member for Cowper, if any steps can be taken to protect citizens from the savagery of vicious misstatements made on hearsay by the right honorable member for Cowper.
My questions were not based on hearsay, but on the official records of the Mitchell Library, which I have since checked at the National Library, and Mr. Rawling himself admits his past connexion with the Communist party in his letter to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister replied to him on the 1st May, 1947, stating that he was aware that Rawling had been awarded a scholarship and that, in a question directed to him -
The right honorable member for Cowper at least insinuated, if he did not directly say. that Mr. Bawling was a Communist or associated with the Communist party. The Prime Minister’s Department made inquiries. It reported that on the evidence available, there was no justification for the right honorable member’s statements. That statement has also been denied by Mr. Bawling.
I made no insinuations. I asked several questions. Let us look at my questions and Mr. Rawling’s letter and record. I asked - is this Mr. Rawling the same gentleman who was chief publicity officer of the Communist party for some years, and who wrote the Communist party’s official history of Australia, which was published by the official Communist publishing house?
Mr. Rawling’s letter, and records of the Mitchell Library show that it is the same Air. Bawling. My question makes no suggestion that Mir. Bawling is still a Communist. I asked was he the chief publicity officer of the Communist party for some years, who- wrote the Communist party’s official history of Australia, which was published by the official Communist publishing house. If he was not the chief, he was the most prominent publicity officer of that party. His history of Australia has a definite Communist twist, and was published by the official Communist publishing house. How then, if I ask a question which is substantially true, am I assassinating any man’s character? And, how can I be making “vicious misstatements made on hearsay “ when I am quoting the official records of the Mitchell Library, which are substantiated by Mr. Rawling’s letter? Those records and Mr. Rawling’s letter prove the substance of my statement. The honorable member for Parkes accused me of “ assassination of character “ and “ vicious misstatements made on hearsay”. As they are statements of fact, how then can he justify the appointment of Mr. Bawling to this fellowship if he holds these views on communism? * Extension of time granted.’]*
Why, also, in view of Mr. Rawling’s expressed wish that the matter should be left in abeyance, and my willingness to do 30 after the pathetic appeal by Mr. Bawling in his letter to the Prime Minister, does the honorable member drag this matter up, in my absence from the House, two days before the elections in Kew South “Wales and’ Queensland?
Whatever I say inside this chamber I am prepared to say outside. I am willing to say outside this chamber what I said about Mr. Bawling. But I dare the honorable member for Parkes to repeat out side what he said about me. . I would issue a writ for defamation within five minutes of his doing so.
This narrative proves that, first of all, the Prime Minister has not answered my questions. He has answered questions of his own as to whether Mr. Bawling is, or is not, a member of the Communist party. He does not admit publicly what Mr. Bawling has told him - that he was the publicity officer of the Communist party and subsequently saw the error of his ways. The Prime - Minister says nothing about the qualifications of Mr. Bawling as compared with those of men like Mr. C. W. Salier, or Dr. Robinson. But the establishment of my bona fides is a small matter beside the policy of the advisory committee of the Commonwealth Literary Fund as to the conditions on which, and to whom, fellowships should be bestowed. This may be important for the future of Australia. Communism is now seen by every thoughtful person of all parties as the cancerous growth that is destroying our industrial life, impeding our production in Australian and doing its utmost to destroy the British Empire. No public funds should be spent that could even be suspected of fostering subtle sources of Communist propaganda. If, however, the past records of all aspirants for Commonwealth Literary Fund Fellowships are treated in this light fashion - as in this case where the facts are beyond dispute and have been brought to light merely by chance - it is evident that a full inquiry and overhaul of the whole system of awarding such fellowships should be made to prevent a repetition. ‘
– The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) suggested that the origin of the Commonwealth Literary Fund is uncertain, but it was established in 190S by Mr. Deakin and has been continued ever since. In 1939, when the grant was only £400 a year, the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) suggested a further development of Australian literature and a means by which Australian authors should be encouraged. The Prime Minister at that time was the lateMr. Lyons, who readily acceded to the proposal, and a committee was established, consisting of himself, the then Leader of the Opposition, the late Mr. Curtin, and the right honorable member for Yarra, who made the suggestion in the House. The scheme has continued in its present form since then. I shall refer in a moment to the character of the work done by the Commonwealth Literary Fund. In my opinion, its achievements represent a great contribution to the encouragement of Australian letters. The record of the fellowships granted is excellent. I will deal separately with the one referred to by the right honorable member for Cowper. The right honorable member ought to know the facts, because, afterthe right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) succeeded Mr. Lyons as Prime Minister in 1939, he wrote to the right honorable member for, Cowper, who was then Leader of the Australian Country party, pointing out that up till that time the Australian. Country party had not functioned independently of the United Australia party, and inviting him to nominate a representative of the Australian Country party to serve on the committee.I have read the letter. Apparently nothing was done to comply with that request. The fellowship granted number no fewer than 33. and only one has been criticized by the right honorable member for Cowper.
– Let the rest of us “ have a go, “ and we will give you some more.
– Then, I suppose, we shall have to deal with them one at a time. Twenty-three books have been published by the fund, eight have been approved and are in the course of publication, and 22 have been republished in the pocket library series. With the consent of the House, I shall incorporate in Hansard a list of the fellowship and the books -
Name - Purpose for which Fellowship granted.
Frank Dalby Davison - Completion of a volume of short stories and the writing of a novel.
Xavier Herbert - Completion of a novel entitled Yellow Fellow, dealing with the half-caste problem in Australia.
Stella Miles Franklin - Biography dealing with the life and legend of Joseph Furphy (Tom Collins) .
Doris Boake Kerr - Novel of Melbourne life in the gold-fields period.
Mrs Ernestine Hill ; Completion of work on Matthew Flinders ; Lover.
Marjorie Clark - A novel dealing with contemporary life in Melbourne.
Marjorie Barnard - An historical novel based on research in the Mitchell Library.
Roy Connolly-Novel dealing with the freakishness of heredity.
Mrs. K. S. Throssell (Katharine Susannah Prichard) ; A novel set in the goldfields of Western Australia.
J H. M. Abbott - A volume on the Newcastle packets and the HunterRiver District.
Dame Mary Gilmour ; Her biography.
Jean Devanny - Stories of typical Australian men and women against the background of the war.
James Dcvaney - Life of the late John Shaw Neilson.
FrankReid (Bill Bowyang) - History of the Great Barrier Reef - its romance, adventure and tragedy.
Mrs. Daisy Bates ; Preparation of a booklet of native stories for children.
Eric Muspratt - Stories of life in the Royal Australian Navy.
Roy Bridges - An historical novel on Port Arthur.
Brian Vrepont - To finish a poetic drama and: write a novel on present-day Australia.
Ian Mudie - A volume on the disappearing Murray and DarlingRivers paddle steamers.
Dymphna Cusack - Completion of a novel set in war-time Australia.
BettyRoland - Novel based on her early experiences in the literary and artistic life of Melbourne.
John Morrison - Completion and revision of a novel set in the Dandenong Ranges of Victoria, dealing with the growth, through two generations, of a typical community in those parts.
Paul L. Grano - Book on satire in Australia.
Cut from Mulga - E. J. Moll.
Wooden Hookers - Mrs. Bede Maxwell. (A story of the early emigrant ships. )
National Portraits - Vance Palmer. (Twentyone biographical studies of men who have contributed something to national life in Australia.)
Black Australians - Paul Hasluck. (An historical research into the aboriginal problem in Western Australia.)
Collected poems of Bernard O’Dowd.
Life and work of A. G. Stephens.
Verse by Frederick Macartney.
Poems by Lesbia Harford.
Not Onlyin Stone - Phyllis Somerville. (A story of Cornish settlers in South Australia.)
Stage plays -
Daybreak - Catheri ne Shepherd.
Red Sky atMorning - Dymphna Cusack.
Poems by Ethel Anderson.
High Bill at Midnight - Don Edwards.
Poetical works of “ Furnley Maurice “.
The SouthernCross and Other Plays - Louis Esson.
InsideParliament - Warren Denning.
Writings on Elizabethan drama - J. Le Gay Brereton.
First Century of the English Church inNew South Wales - E. C. Rowland.
Man-shy - Frank Dalby Davison.
Flesh in Armour - Leonard Mann.
The Passage - Vance Palmer
I t’s Harder for Girls - Gavin Casey.
Dig - FrankClune.
Call to the Winds - P. G. Taylor.
Voyage ofthe Endeavour - G. A. Wood.
Winnowed Verses - Henry Lawson
Insect Wonders of Australia - K. C. McKeown.
The Glasshouse - M. Barnard Eldershaw
Buffaloes - Carl Warburton
Old Blastus of Bandicoot - Miles Franklin
On the Wooltrack-C. E. W. Bean.
Australia - W. K. Hancock
Selections from Walter Murdoch.
Haxby’s Circus - Katharine Susannah Prichard
The Confessions of a Beachcomber - E. J. Banfield.
Red Centre - H. H. Finlayson
The Sentimental Bloke -C. J. Dennis
Tiburon - Kylie Tennant
On the Track and Over the Sliprails - Henry Lawson.
Ports of Sunset - Ernestine Hill
These books cover a wide field. None of them deals with politics or political propaganda of any kind, except, perhaps, the biography of statesmen in the early days of federation. They are literary in character, and cover all phases of literary activity. I had supposed, and until to-day it had been thought, that all parties were in favour of this plan, and were carrying it out for the encouragement of Australian authors.
I desire now to deal with the references to Mr. Rawling. The right honorable member for Cowper stated accurately the question which he had asked in the House, namely, was Mr. Rawling a publicity officer of, or was he otherwise associated with the Communist party? The fact is that he had been associated with it. There is no question of that. But the manner of his leaving the Communist party was a matter of such public, notoriety during the early stages of the war - in 1940, to be exact - that the slightest inquiry would have revealed to the right honorable gentleman the fact that, at or about that time Soviet Russia attacked Finland, Mr. Rawling broke with the Communist party. From that time to the present day he has been one of its most bitter critics. I believe that it is fair to say that the Communist party would regard Mr. Rawling as its No. 1 enemy.
– It is what he says now. In 1940 Mr. Rawling made a broadcast over the national stations giving the reasons why he considered that he should dissociate himself from the Communist party and its war policy. Ever since Mr. Rawling has been an active opponent of the Communist party. The omission of that fact from the right honorable gentleman’s question was calculated to cause very grave injury to Mr. Rawling, who served in World War I.
In his letter to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), he stated that he had been sympathetic with the experiment of Soviet Russia, had joined the Communist party and had been active in it. All that is correct. Mr. Rawling also wrote certain material to which the right honorable gentleman has referred. Then, in May, 1940, he made a complete break with the Communist party, not privately or by resigning from it, but as the result of an open public controversy in which his articles appeared in leading metropolitan newspapers, probably throughout Australia and certainly in New South Wales. That raises the very important question which, after all, is the only point that does arise from the subject associated with the motion submitted by the right honorable member for Cowper. Should the fact that a person has strong political views, and has been a member of the Communist party, act as a perpetual bar against his being qualified to write on some aspect of Australian literature and history?
– Yes, if other competent authors are available.
– It is a question, then, of proving whether other qualified authors are available. That was not the contention of the right honorable member for Cowper.
-. - It was. Mr. Rawling was preferred to other authors.
– The contention which the right honorable member for Cowper submitted is that Mr. Rawling should be disqualified. If no other authors are available, and he is chosen, the same result is reached. The object of Commonwealth assistance to Australian authors is not to encourage political propaganda, but to foster good literature, and reward literary .merit. If the House agrees that that is the object of the fund, I contend that. the political views of the author do not and should not enter into the matter. Imagine what kind of a standard would have to apply if, in determining whether the fund should assist authors in Australia, we were obliged to make a preliminary investigation of the political views, past and present, of every candidate! Apply that to what is the chief glory of Eng land - that is its literature ! Let us look back at the history of English literature, and at the great procession of poets and authors who have made the name of English literature famous throughout the world, and apply a political test to them! The right honorable gentleman is carrying this matter further than I have ever heard it carried before. The book which Mr. Rawling is to write is not a Communist publication, and will not have a seditious or subversive tendency. The man who is writing it has chosen a literary subject, namely, the life of the Australian-born poet, Charles Harpur. Is this author to he excluded from competing for a fellowship on such .a subject? The right honorable gentleman’s contention cannot be accepted as a principle. It is completely wrong. One has only to refer to great names in English literature - Shelley, Byron, Wordsworth, Southey, Coleridge, Robert Burns, the great Scottish poet, and William Blake, and ask oneself, “ If a literary fund had been in existence in their day how would they have scaled the first barrier?” These great men of genius, whom every body acknowledges to-day, wrote in the early portion of their careers under the influence of the ‘French Revolution, and were somewhat sympathetic towards it. Wordsworth and Southey later became Poet Laureates of Britain.
We cannot apply this rule of exclusionto people simply as persons. Yet that is what the right honorable member for Cowper is attempting to do. He admitted that Mr. Rawling is not writing on the subject of communism, or present’ political trends. There is nothing political in the biography of Charles Harpur. Why, then, should Mr. Rawling be disqualified? If literary merit is to be encouraged, it should be encouraged as literature and not as propaganda. Political opinions have nothing to do with the matter. It would be different if we “were considering a political work. That might be a relevant factor. When he makes, as a test of literary merit, conformity to political or social stand-points the right honorable gentleman is adopting the policy of the Hitler regime. That was the approach of the Nazi propagandists to this problem. On the 10th
May, 1933, the Nazis decided to show that a new regime had been introduced into Germany under Hitler and Goebbels. The occasion was celebrated by the burning of the books of 160 authors. The subject matter of the books did not mat’.er; the Nazis who burnt them had probably never read any of them. But the books had been written by people who, as persons, were regarded as antipathetic to the Nazi regime. They included some of the greatest German poets, such as Heine, and their works were burnt in a bonfire. One commentator wrote at the time - >
And as the ingenious ceremonies wore on hour after hour, before a crowd of fortythousand celebrants, the world outside may well have sensed that a new spirit, and a new agc, had begun for Germany, an age of Brown Darkness …
The .request for information by the right honorable, member has nothing whatever to do with this point. The fund is of a non-party character. If the political views of candidates are to be considered in relation to authorship, we shall have a new form of censorship which would be as intolerable as any the world has ever known. The works in the list to which I have referred include biographies of the Australian writers by Tom Collins, works by Ernestine Hill, Marjorie Clark, Marjorie Barnard and others. The new rule suggested by the right honorable member for Cowper, to the effect that the personal political opinions of applicants should be taken into account when considering the granting of fellowships, and not their purely literary work, would be so intolerable that I cannot believe that the right honorable gentleman himself would wish to see it applied.
Sir Earle Page interjecting,
– I assure the right honorable gentleman that the honorable member for Parkes is well able to look after himself. What the right honorable member had to say in derogation of Mr. Rawling was, in effect, that he had been a Communist, but it has also been fairly and openly stated that he had broken with the Communist party publicly in circumstances in which the hatred of the Communists was being visited upon him. Mr. Rawling, I understand, is carrying on his work as a school teacher. He is a distinguished graduate of an Australian university, and has written historical works. Apparently he has excellent qualifications for a fellowship. He has been chosen to write the life of Charles Harpur.
Sir Earle Page interjecting,
– It is obvious that the right honorable member has changed his ground. The point now being advanced is not the issue that was raised between the right honorable member and the honorable member for Parkes. It was alleged, first, that Mr. Rawling was a Communist, had engaged in Communist propaganda, and had written Communist articles, and that, therefore, he was debarred from writing a work of any value to Australia. I suggest to the House that there is no substance in that contention. If honorable members will examine the records of the authors and poets, of this country they will discover that very few of them could successfully withstand the application of such a test: Henry Lawson was associated with Australian workers and Australian unions in his early life and he wrote for the Australian Worker. Practically all the early poets who contributed to the Bulletin had strong radical tendencies, and some of them were even republican in their outlook at certain stages.
– They were all Australians.
– That is so, and Mr. Rawling is an Australian, as far as I know. My point, at the moment, is that the test that has been proposed by the right honorable member for Cowper would have, proved fatal even to Australian writers like Henry Lawson, and some of the best of our writers of days gone by.
– That is nonsense.
– The honorable member for Balaclava shows, by his interjection, his incapacity for analysis. The point is whether a man’s political views shall, or shall not, be taken into consideration, and in certain circumstances be regarded as disqualification for writing on literary subjects insofar as’ the Commonwealth Literary Fund is concerned. The answer to that proposal must surely be clear’ to everybody. No one could really justify such a rule. A perusal. by honorable members of the list of fellowships that have been granted, and of the books and authors in respect cf which help has been given will reveal that a very good job has been done. I hope that honorable members will endorse that view.
Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) 3. 55]. - I was deeply interested in the reply of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to the concise and incontrovertible statements of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). The Attorney-General has travelled all round the question. He reminded me of a late member of the South Australian Parliament, who said of a fellow Irishman. “ The honorable member talked ali round the truth for an hour and a half and did not touch it once “. That is the position in which the Attorney-General finds himself. One objection that honorable members pf the Opposition have to the present method of administering the Commonwealth Literary Fund, is that it seems to provide a nursing home for Communists. Unless a man is “red or pretty pink “, he has not much chance of favorable consideration. I am not altogether unaware of what has been going on in connexion with this fund for some time past. I asked a question about it as long ago as the 26th March, 1946. In my view we have reached a stage in the history of the fund when there should be a public showdown, so that we may know exactly what is going on. There certainly has been a change lately in the advisory committee ‘ of the fund. I understand that the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) is a comparatively recent addition to the committee. If the views that that, honorable gentleman expresses in this House - I do not know anything about his literary qualifications - be taken as a criterion, I should say that there will be a confirmation of the policy that, only the “reds and pinks will get a go “. This fund is not being used to-day for the purpose for which the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) worked in 1939 when that right honorable gentleman took a_ very important part in its development and administration. The fund is undoubtedly being used to-day for other than its original purpose. I know of persons receiving grants from the fund in relation to the publishing of books which have consisted, in the main, of reprinted articles which were published, in the press in Sydney years ago and paid for. I ask the Attorney-General whether it is not a fact that the purpose of the fund is to encourage people to write original matter, particularly on Australian subjects. Does the AttorneyGeneral consider that the giving of fellowships is justified when the books produced consist chiefly of reprinted articles which were published and paid for years ago?
– Will the honorable gentleman name the books?
– I can do so, but T will not do it publicly at this stage. I asked a question, upon ‘ notice, in the House quite a long time ago, about a well-known person named Jean Devaney. I do not think that it will be denied that she was a member of the Communist party. Yet, in the height of the war, when members of this Parliament could not enter certain areas in Queensland, because they were defence areas, this woman was given a fellowship and permitted to enter those areas, where some of the most secret of our defence measures were being applied, allegedly for the purpose of writing a book on how people reacted under wartime conditions. The Attorney-General knows how they reacted in the electoral Division qf Capricornia, for that was disclosed at the last general elections.
– Her foul book was barred.
– I should expect it to be. There is another case that I could go into, but I will not do so now. The state of affairs which has been reached in connexion with the Commonwealth Literary Fund is such that there should be a public inquiry at which people would be obliged to give evidenceupon oath, and would be protected in regard to their evidence. Nothing else will satisfy me. The machinations of someof those who have been helped by this fund should be brought’ to light. I have been dealing with this matter behind the scenes at least since March, 1946.
I am not interested in .the case of Rawling. ‘ If this man has “ seen the light ‘’, as the Attorney-General has suggested, there has been a lapse of seven years in which he has not produced one pamphlet to put in the Mitchell Library in contradiction of the stuff that he wrote previously. When a man finds that he has been following a wrong principle for a number of years and has been politically converted, one naturally expects that, having “ seen the light “, he will be prepared to give his testimony in writing, and let it go . oil record alongside the misleading statements which he formerly made. This man has not done that. His good faith can be tested by his failure to do so. The AttorneyGeneral has asked whether the political views of an author should be taken into consideration. The Australian taxpayer has a very strong objection to providing money for the subsidizing of communism. [ contend that the views of a man who. writes a story on the life of Charles Harpur or anybody else will be coloured by whether he is a Communist or a tory, or has any other background. The Attorney-General has written a work entitled Labour Leader. He gave me a copy of it, for which I thank him. Can it be said that the right honorable gentleman would have described the life of Holman in the terms that he has used in that work had he not been a Labour man? Would the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) or the honorable member for Kew England (Mr. Abbott) take the same view- of Holman’s life as has been taken by the Attorney-General? Would the honorable, member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) or the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann), if they became authors and wrote The History of the Bum Rebellion, adopt the same attitude towards it as has been adopted by the Attorney-General ? It has been proved up to the hilt that immediately a man becomes an author his views of another man, whether that man bc associated with literature, politics; science, industry or anything else, are coloured by that man’s political outlook. My objection is, that the Commonwealth Literary Fund is being used in too many instances by men who, if not -ed or pink, aire at any rate “ fellow travellers “.
– Does that apply to the judges of the Arbitration Court whom the honorable gentleman’s party appointed <
– I am not arguing that for the moment. If the honorable gentleman cares to engage in this debate, he can say his piece in the spitfire fashion that he usually adopts.. He ought to have been a fighter pilot.
Something has been said during the debate about the burning of books. I believe that the Attorney-General referred! to that matter. There have been notorious instances of the burning of books.’ Adolf Hitler did not start the practice. The Attorney-General is sufficiently an historian to know that a good part of the great library of Alexandria was burned by Julius Caesar, and the rest of it by the first Mohammedan conqueror, who took the view - a very political view - that if anything in -the Alexandria Library was in conflict with the Koran it was dangerous, and if any of it was in agreement with the Koran it was superfluous. On that point, I am giving to the Attorney-General a first-class cue as to the line that should be taken when it comes to an argument concerning dominion governors : There is no view except that of the man in authority.
I close on this note : Any man can take a part in the writing of articles. He can be a litterateur. He can write a play on’ Eureka, or a work on the life of Charles Harpur;. but if his political views are such as have been disclosed today by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) - and disclosed under pressure, I may state - then that man has to remember what Longfellow wrote about “footprints on the sands of time”. Also, he has to remove those footprints, those stains, by proving his loyalty to the new cause which he has taken up. In this instance, such proof has not been furnished.
.- It is a very sad spectacle indeed to see Australian literature being dragged through the cow-yards of the Australian Country party.
Opposition members interjecting,
-Order! There is not going to be any “ rough house “ here to-day. Each, speaker has been accorded fair treatment, and has been heard in silence. Strong language has been used on both sides of the House. Any honorable member who attempts to cause disorder will be named.
– This sudden concern of members of the Australian Country party for Australian literature, is amazing. According to the statement of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), who is a literary figure in this country and a man of unimpeachable veracity, the Australian Country party was invited to assist us to build up an Australian literature. The then Prime Minister appointed Mr, Thorby. I should not suggest that that gentleman had a very true appreciation of literature. He attended one meeting of the Commonwealth Literary Fund, but in the last eight years no member of the Australian Country party has attended the meetings.
The statements of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) were too bucolic for me quite fully to grasp. By some devious means he is attempting to destroy that which we have built up tortuously - an appreciation of Australian literature, and encouragement of Australian writers. I could have understood his enthusiasm had the subject under discussion been the payment of a subsidy on the production of butter fat, I doubt whether he has read’ anything except the results of butter fat tests in the Grafton Examiner, or his own speeches in Ilansard. Yet he puts himself forward as a literary authority! I want to “ test the credibility of the witness “ in regard to Australian literature. After eight years of abstention by himself and his party from any attempt to assist Australian literature, he has made a statement in this House about an author and has asked a question concerning that man’s political beliefs. Although he claimed that what I had done was scandalous, I stand by it, because the whole of the Atlantic Charter, including the four freedoms, has been built round the right of freedom ‘of expression. This author has an expression to make, and he is entitled to make it. The discussion must not be dragged down to the cow-yard level. If the right honorable member for Cowper had been honest, he would not have waited for a radio audience before which to make his answer. Yesterday, I asked him to speak on the- motion for the adjournment of the House. Although I told the Whip of his party that I intended to mention the matter in the course of my remarks in another debate, he deferred his reply until he had a radio audience. That is characteristic of the sanctimonious humbug and hypocrisy with which he decks nearly every statement that he makes in this House. The classical example is his contributions to the subject of food for Britain. This man, who is known as “ the tragic Treasurer “, could not, while Treasurer, cause two and two to make four; yet, when the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) had announced to his Cabinet the proposal to make a gift of £25,000,000 to Great Britain, he quickly added that up, and made a story of it to suit himself politically, and brought the matter into the field of party politics.
The Attorney-General has established that the man whose name has been mentioned, although a former Communist, has not for some years written a Communist tract. The right honorable gentleman has also established that the list of persons who have been awarded fellowships by the Commonwealth Literary Fund contains the names of many famous Australians, and that there has not been one attempt at political propaganda in the books published as a result of the fellowships granted by that fund. The . right honorable member for Cowper paid a great tribute to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), and deservedly so; but he then commenced to cast slurs on and to smear the members of the advisory committee - an old Communist trick. Leaving me out of account, because I am a political opponent of his, let us have a look at the personnel associated with the fund. Would the right honorable gentleman suggest that Professor Osborne, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Melbourne, is a Communist, that he is interested in the production of Communist tracts, and to that end is using funds of the Commonwealth Government? Would he suggest that the Librarian of the National Library, Mr. Binns, is a Communist? Would be suggest that Dr. Mackaness, of Sydney, who I am sure would not mind being called a tory, would be a Communist, and would spend the whole of his time and voluntary effort in encouraging the writing of Communist tracts? The idea is ridiculous. The germ of it, of course, is not to be found in any of the statements of the right honorable member, but must be sought outside this House. Surely members of the Opposition, including members of the Australian Country party, will not accept the proposition that there should be political censorship of any literary fund. That would be intolerable and impossible. The. AttorneyGeneral has shown why the Commonwealth Literary Fund has had to be free and unencumbered. It would be a shocking thing if a gestapo were to be employed against the writers of this country, because some members, of the Australian Country party are timid of the prospects of holding their seats in the future and seek a little brief publicity at the moment. The criticism that has been launched on this occasion cannot be sustained, for the reason that the Commonwealth Literary Fund could not exist if a censorship were imposed on the politics of the men concerned. By reason of the intelligence of the advisory committee, and later the revision of the literary committee, some consideration can be given to the subjects discussed, and it has been .the law that politics cannot enter into any serious writing by persons who receive fellowships. But the real story, if it must be told, is that a disgruntled man outside this House has related in strong terms to the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and the new recruit, the right honorable member for Cowper, the story of his disappointment in failing to secure a fellowship himself. On every occasion on which the literary committee has made an appointment, he has come forward with a fresh lie. We have had to stand up to a vendetta by this man Ellis and his employer, the Sydney Bulletin, who are haters of Labour and of the Communists.
– That is the man who wrote the life of Macquarie.
– It is not.
– The honorable member is a liar. .
-Order! Normally, the Chair waits for an honorable member to object to the use of unparliamentary language, but on this occasion intends to depart from that practice. The Chair will not tolerate language of the kind used by the honorable member” for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain). The honorable member will withdraw his remark, and apologize to the House for having made it.
– Evidently, it is ignorance on the part of the honorable member-
– Order !
– I withdraw the statement, and ask the honorable member to make sure of his facts.
– Order ! The Chair has ordered the honorable member to withdraw and apologize.
– I have already withdrawn the statement.
– The honorable member must also apologize.
– I apologize.
– In deference to the honorable member who interjected, I may say that I did not properly hear what he said. Half a dozen stories have been written about the life of Macquarie. I understand that the man whose name I have mentioned wrote a story which was rejected by _ the Commonwealth Literary Fund. I apologize for having contradicted the honorable member. I merely ‘ wanted to brush his remarks aside, because I have so few minutes in which to make my speech. The whole of this sordid brawl has been occasioned by the right honorable member for Cowper, upon ex parte information tendered outside this House by a disgruntled man. The Commonwealth Literary Fund, and the small part that I have played in it during the last few years, will stand the closest investigation. Before I conclude, I warn the House that if it wants to destroy Australian literature, if it wants to remove all liberties from this country, as well as a growing appreciation of what this land stands for and what makes it live, that object can be achieved by imposing a censorship which will destroy all that we have tried to build up in 150 hard, brutal years, by putting policemen in charge of those who select our literature. A final word: The AttorneyGeneral has said that it was on the 10th May of a certain year that books were burned by Hitler. . To-day is the 8th May. The Australian Country party has two days in which to complete the task that it has begun.
.- . The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) is so completely on the defensive that in the very first words he uttered in reply to the speech of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) he sought to insult and throw dirt at members of the Australian Country party because the right honorable member for Cowper is a member of that party. His reference to the cowyards of the community will not escape the attention of those people who are producing food for Britain, and who sometimes have to wallow in the mud-
– I rise to order. I was not referring to members of the Australian Country party.
– Order ! The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) must not abuse the Standing Orders by seeking to rake a point of order when no point of order is involved.
– To use’ the words which yan, yourself, Mr. Speaker, have often used when rebuking honorable members, the honorable member for Parkes can hand it out, but he can not take it. When he makes a personal attack on an honorable member on this side of the House, he must be prepared to take what comes to him in reply. This time, he has. been caught flat-footed. He took advantage of the absence of the right honorable member for Cowper to make a personal’ attack on his character. Now, when the right honorable member has substantiated all his assertions by quoting chapter and verse from the records of the Mitchell Library, a,nd the records .of this Parliament, tie honorable member for Parkes, who does not hesitate to asperse the sincerity of good faith of members of the Australian Country party, needs to be told a few things about himself. The other day, he rose in his place in this
House and asked a question about the trip, abroad of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender).
– Order ! The honorable member must return to the subject. What the honorable member for Parkes said about the honorable member for Warringah has nothing to do with the matter under discussion.
– The honorable, member for Parkes must accept some responsibility for a Communist receiving a fellowship from the Commonwealth Literary Fund. I make no charge against the literary committee of the fund, which consists of the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), whose integrity is beyond question, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), but I point out that the literary committee merely adjudicates upon the claims submitted to it by the Advisory Committee, of which the honorable member for Parkesis a member. It is obvious that the Prime Minister, for instance, has not the tune to read all the works published in Australia in the course of a year. For guidance in this direction he must rely upon the members of the advisory committee, and the member for Parkes, a member of that committee, digs up as an applicant for a fellowship some one with a Communist background. I had never heard of Mr. Rawling until this incident occurred, and it is unfortunate that he should receive such publicity now if it is true that he has recanted his Communist views. However, the whole incident was created by the attempt of the honorable member for Parkes to make political capital at the expense of the right honorable member for Cowper.
The Attorney-General (Dr.- Evatt) quoted a long’ list of English authors, including “ Bobby “ Burns, Tennyson and Shakespeare, and appeared to be trying to- draw some sort of analogy between them and Mr. Rawling. The only point for us to consider is what qualifications had a certain Mr. Rawling, who was recommended by the advisory committee to the Commonwealth Literary Fund for a fellowship, to be chosen to write the life of, Australia’s first notable poet. The night honorable member’ for Cowper suggested that the committee should have looked foi1 lus qualifications in his previous writings. After all, that is the only way in which the merits of any applicant for such a fellowship can be gauged. The only writings of Mr. Rawling of which there is any record are not unbiased productions; they are Communist propaganda.
– The Short History of the Australian People is not propaganda.
– It is all Communist propaganda. If we are to judge a person’s qualifications and sincerity, or to decide whether or not he is biased, we can only go back to what he has written or said. If he has not repudiated the opinions expressed in his writings or utterances, we must assume that he still holds those opinions. In a letter referred to by’ the right honorable member for Cowper, Mr. Rawling has stated, I understand”, that he no longer holds Communist views. If that is so, good luck to bini, but the mere fact that he has recanted his Communist ideas does not of itself qualify him to write the life of Charles Harpur, or to receive a fellowship worth £400 from the Commonwealth Literary Fund. It is unfortunate that the matter should have been raised in this way, and that the history of Mr. Rawling, if he is no longer a Communist, should bc made the subject of debate in this chamber. However, as I have said, the responsibility for this lies on the honorable member for Parkes, who sought to take advantage, of the absence of the right honorable member for Cowper to score a political point. I hope that the information which the right honorable member for Cowper has placed before the House will be taken into account by the members of the literary committee. I believe, as I think does every honorable member on this side of the House, .that the Commonwealth Literary Fund is an excellent institution. There is a long list of persons of merit who have been assisted from the fund. There may be some who received assistance without meriting it, but it is notable that the only case upon which doubts have been cast has occurred since the honorable member for Parkes became a member of the advisory committee. When the .honorable member for Parkes talks about the cowyards and the Aus- tralian Country party he had better look to himself.
. - I think it is necessary that I, as chairman of the literary committee of the Commonwealth Literary Fund, should say something about this matter. The committee consists of the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and myself, as chairman. I always believed that the Commonwealth Literary Fund had been created - not by this Government, but by a previous one - for the purpose of assisting in the development of Australian literature, and to render financial assistance to those who might have the ability to produce worthwhile literature. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) said that the real question to be decided was the capacity of Mr. Rawling. As a matter of fact, the original question asked by thu right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) had nothing to do with the literary capacity of Mr. Rawling. It was the right honorable member who introduced politics by referring to communism.
– I asked whether Mr. Rawling was better qualified than two other men to write the life of Charles Harpur.
Mp. CHIFLEY.- There is no doubt that it was the right honorable member himself who raised the issue of Mr. Rawling’s political beliefs. I am sure that the right honorable member for Yarra and the Leader of the Opposition will agree with me when I say that the literary committee takes full responsibility for the awarding of fellowships, no matter what recommendations may have been made by the advisory committee. As a matter of fact, many applications and recommendations have been rejected. Our decisions are made, rightly or wrongly, according to what we believe to be the literary capacity of the applicant. If the literary committee is to turn itself into a gestapo to inquire into the political history of every applicant for a grant, the sooner the committee is abolished the better. Having regard to the diverse political views of the members of the committee, it would be absurd to suggest that it should concern itself with die political views of applicants rather than their literary ability. I go further than did the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) : If the committee is to continue - and I hope it will, because it has been of considerable value - I will never be a party to the proposition that when an application or recommendation comes before the com mi tree, it should dredge thoi sewers to find out the political views of the person concerned.
– That is an extremestatement.
– I do not care how extreme it may be. The purpose of the committee is to assist the development of Australian literature, not to turn themselves into policemen in an effort to find nut the political views of writers. I lay down two rules which I suggest the committee should follow in considering applications for assistance from the Commonwealth Literary Fund : First, that; applicant* shall have a literary capacity to warrant the granting of assistance; and secondly, that when assistance is given, tin.! recipient shall not use the money i;o engage in political propaganda on behalf of any party, whether it, be the Labour party the Australian Country party, the Liberal, party or the Communist party. When the present Leader of the Opposition was Prime Minister he issued an invitation to the Australian Country party to nominate a representative for appointment to the committee; but so great was the interest of that party that its representative attended only one meeting. Since then the Australian Country party has not taken the slightest interest in the committee.
– This is the first time I have ever heard of such an invitation being extended to the Australian Country party.
– The letter of invitation was written by the then Prime Minister to the right honorable member for Cowper,, then Leader of the Australian Country party. The Attorney-General has a copy of it and if the right honorable member so desires he may read it. I shall not go into the question as to what Mr. Rawling is, or was. I have stated the two principles which guide the com mittee. If they were departed from there would be set up immediately a sort of political gestapo which would concern itself more with the political philosophies of writers than with their literary capacity. . I do not propose to depart from these principles and if they ‘were departed from I would disband the committee at once.
.- I rise principally to endorse what the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has said in. connexion with this matter. As a member of the committee I take my share -of responsibility for its actions. Whilst 1 appreciate the personal references made to the members of the committee, I am not prepared to allow it to be said that we had no rights, that the committee merely did what it was told and accepted the recommendations of the advisory committee without question. Anybody who says that knows nothing whatever about the workings of the committee which has been in existence for eight years. The advisory committee is composed of literary men who inquire into the merits of the work of those who seek assistance from the fund. The advisory committee sends its recommendation, together with all appropriate information, to the literary committee for consideration. The committee examines the recommendation and the facts surrounding the application, and decides either to accept or reject the recommendation. It is true that we have accepted the majority of the recommendations of the advisory committee; but it is also true that we have rejected a good many of them. Sometimes the members of the advisory committee feel somewhat hurt by our rejections, but we have our own reasons for our decisions. The literary committee is composed not merely of three busy parliamentarians who. meet and say, “ We shall endorse this or tha t recommendation “ ; on the contrary the committee goes into the matter very thoroughly. To the two busy men on the committee, the Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), who have greater responsibilities to the Parliament than I have as a private member, I pay tribute for the time and attention and earnest consideration they have given to the matters placed before them.
I regret that the Commonwealth Literary Fund anil die committee that administers it should he dragged into a political fight in this .Parliament. I joined the committee, as the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) has said, eight years ago, after I hail resigned as Leader of the Opposition because, of ill health and was no longer able to take an active part in the hurly-burly of politics. 1 felt then that I owed a public duty to the people T. represented and to the Australian people generally,- and 1 raised in this House a matter that had troubled my mind for many years., namely, that year after year we were accustomed to vote millions of pounds for the assistance of industry of all kinds, primary producers, manufacturers and others, by way of subsidies and payments of various kinds, but we entirely neglected one body of people in the community which was making a contribution to our national life and literature. I agree that some journals were giving assistance to men of letters, notably the Bulletin. which did more for Australian writers than any other publication, particularly in earlier years. That journal had provided opportunities for literary mcn, particularly in the early days of its publication, which was of the greatest national value, but the need for assistance to Australian writers was completely ignored by the Australian Parliament. If I had thought that because of my association with the committee I would have been dragged into a party political fight or accused of sponsoring communism I would have ceased to be a member of the committee immediately and the other members would have done likewise. Can one imagine the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition or me sponsoring and subsidizing the propaganda of com mun ism, and using the Commonwealth Literary Fund to foster the breeding grounds of Communist propaganda? Does not that stretch the imagination too far? Since the fund was established it has granted 33 fellowships, and it has been responsible for the printing of a number of manuscripts which otherwise would never have seen the light of day. Some of them, I am glad to say, have not only been published but have also paid the costs of publication out of sales.
Most of these were of a. kind which ordinary commercial publishers would not touch. About, S6 of these publications have been .sponsored by the fund and this is the first occasion on which criticism of the kind voiced by the right honorable, member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) has been levelled at. the fund. Suppose thai, everything thai: has been said about this case is correct. The committee is not infallible; it is capable of making mistakes. Why besmirch the fund and the great ideal.* that lie behind it by dragging them into a party political fight? I endorse what the Prime Minister has said, and I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition will do likewise, and say that never once have we asked what were the politics of any person whose work was submitted to us. All we were concerned about, was the subject of the work and the way in which it was treated. I have not seen in any of the publications that, we have sponsored one line of political propaganda. I do not claim to have rend every line of every work submitted for our consideration, but I have read a great deal; I have burned the midnight oil in going through them. I would not. think of saying that an applicant for a fellowship should hold the same political opinions as I do. One has only to look at the list of fellowships granted to see that this fund has not been used as the nursery of Communist ideas. I implore honorable members to look at the list. Here are a few names that, appear on it,: Mrs. Ernestine Hill, for the completion of her’ work Matthew Flinders - Lover; E. J. ‘Brady, for the compilation of a. book entitled Tiro Frontiers; S. J. Baker, for his Dictionary of Australian Language; J. H. M. Abbott, for his volume on Newcastle Packets and the Hunter River District. Mr. Abbott has, I understand, a friend in this House.
– He is my brother.
– The list also contains the names of Dame Mary Gilmour, for her biography; J. S. MacDonald, who- wrote on Australian art. Mr. MacDonald was a great art critic, though many people do not agree with his criticisms. The list also contains the name of Mr. Frank Reid, author of History of flr. Great Earner Reef; Mr. Daisy Bates. foi” *tH& preparation of ‘ a booklet of Aboriginal Stories for Children; Ian Mudie, for- The Disappearing Murray and Darling Rivers Paddle Steamers; and Mr. H. M. Green, who wrote Critical History of Australian Literature. Who would say that these works are in the nature of Communist propaganda? The committee has granted 33 fellowships’ and has resurrected buried manuscripts, and reprinted books that have gone out of circulation, such as Torn Collins’s Such is Life. All of this has been done in the short life of the fund and this is the first complaint we have had of the committee’s operations.
As to the specific case mentioned by the right honorable member for Cowper, I admit that I knew nothing about Mr. Rawling’s private politics. I would not question them. I have sp vivid a recollection of the persecution of Labourites in days gone by, of men. who were not allowed to work m the mines because they had accepted office in the Labour party, of the injustices meted out by politically biased persons, that I would not think of asking about the political convictions of any person who sought assistance from the Commonwealth Literary Fund. * Extension of time granted.]* I have since had inquiries made in order to ascertain how far these attacks upon Mr. Rawling are warranted. It is true that he was a. Communist.; but he has re.pented of his ways and has- become a strong critic of the Communist party. The fact that he has not written books, since he. ceased to be a Communist sup.* porter does not prove that, his political convictions have not changed. I believe that for some years he has been employed as a teacher. He went into the1 Army at eighteen years of age and served with distinction in World War I, He became a Communist after his- return toAustralia, but now he is listed, ,as he says, as the Communist’s enemy No. 1. As far as his personal character is concerned, we have before us a document showing that his application for a fellowship was sponsored by the well-known and reputable, headmaster of one of our greatpublic schools in Sydney. I believe it was Newington-. I would havenothing to do with sponsoring communism; nor .would I be associated with a political censorship of literary works. I would not be a member of the committee if I had to ask an applicant for assistance from the fund, “ How did you vote at the last, elections ? “ Does any honorable member imagine that any member of a committee, which consists of members of differing political views, would do such a thing? In the years during which I have been a in em ber of the committee I have never had a difference of opinion with the Leader of the Opposition on any question raised or any recommendation submitted for the consideration of the committee. , .
– Is the Australian’ Country party represented on the committee ?
– No. I am sorry that it is not.
– We have not been invited, as far as I. know. The right honorable gentleman cannot get away with that.
– We .had Mr. Thorby there for one meeting.
– Be fair!
– I am fair in saying that Mr. Thorby was there, for one meeting. I do know that the then Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, wrote in a letter to the right honorable member for Cowper that a3 the United Australia party and the Australian Country party had ended their coalition, the Australian Country party was invited to appoint a representative on the committee. That letter is on the files. - Sir Earle Page.: - That, was when Mr. Thorby went to the meeting referred to by the right honorable, member. I resigned the leadership of the Australian Country party in 1939. He could not have written to me, because I was no longer leader.
– I am not raising that matter.
– The AttorneyGeneral raised it.
– I am sorry that the Australian Country party is not represented on the committee. I was asked a question and I gave the facts.
– If they go on, I go off !
– You are right there!
– Order! The right honorable member for Yarra is addressing the House.
– The procedure is simple. The committee has literary men to advise it. They are well known in literature. They read the manuscripts and give us all the particulars. Sometimes members of the committee re-read manuscripts. I have often presumed to re-read a manuscript. We all do it where there is a doubt. The manuscripts are passed around the members in order that they may read them and decide whether to endorse the recommendations of our advisers. I do not claim that we set ourselves up as greater literary students than they are. I take my share of responsibility for our decisions, but would lake no responsibility for examining the political opinions of nien whose literary work comes before us. It is a poor outlook if it is claimed that a man who has committed an offence, even though he has repented, shall not be forgiven. Mr. Rawling is the only man whose fellowship has been attacked. The honorable member . for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) made a few points about other things, but he cannot set himself up as the last word on literature. It cannot be said that the experts who advise us have no literary knowledge. If any member of the Australian Country party feels that his presence on the committee would improve it and the work it does, I shall be glad to have him join us, but I decline to agree that the committee must examine a man’s political conscience before deciding that lie be granted a fellowship. When I proposed the present system I had in mind a number of Australian writers who had not been given the opportunity to develop their talents. I pointed out that when they were worn out as writers and no longer capable of giving of their best they were pensioned, but that when they were young and vigorous and capable of fine work, given the opportunity, they were made to fend for themselves. One man among many I had in mind was working on jobs in the bush and in brickyards and was going blind. He was writing beautiful Australian po? try. Given financial relief and encouragement, our writers’ will rise to greater heights and Australia will produce literature equal to any in the world.
– I am -surprised that -the right, honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) should have taken the fight into his own corner: because I am sure that no one in his wildest dreams would associate the right honorable gentleman, or his colleagues on the advisory committee, of any misdemeanour in connexion with the matter raised by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). I think the right honorable member for Cowper, himself, made that plain in his concise statement. Constituted as it is, the literary committee obviously has to depend on the advice of experts on the advisory committee. As Leader of the Australian Country party, I make it. clear that never to my knowledge has :my party been invited ,o* he represented on the advisory committee. The first I heard of its having been invited to nominate a representative was the statement by the Attorney-General **(Dr. Evatt), which was confirmed by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and the right honorable member for Yarra.
– The invitation was sent to the right honorable member for Cowper on the 10th May, 1939.
– A long time has elapsed since then.
– M..r. Lyons had died only a fortnight before then.
– In view of the political set-up, I am surprised that we have not been invited, and I protest against the discourtesy to us by our not having been asked to help. This is not a statutory committee. I emphasize that. It is appointed annually. But not once since 1939 until now has the Australian Country party been invited to be represented on it. I direct attention to the manner in which we have been ignored in many other ways. Honorable members may rest assured that we shall exert pressure to ensure against a repetition of such treatment of an important section of the Commonwealth Parliament. It is it lasting disgrace that the Australian Country party has not been invited to be represented on the committee, and I deeply resent our having been accused of not ha ving any interest in the committee.
The right honorable member for Yarra, exercising his shrewdness and groat ability in debate, sought to distract honorable members from the main issue. The right honorable member for Cowper was reluctantly compelled to take the action ho took to reply ‘ to accusations made against him in his absence by tha honorable member for Parkes (Mr.
Haylen). The weight of numbers on the Government side was exerted on Tuesday to prevent the right honorable gentleman from making a personal explanation about thi? matter when he asked the indulgence of the House- to do so. The main issue is .whether Mr. Rawling is a fit and proper person to writ” the biography of the first Australian poet, Charles Harpur. . The right honorable member for Cowper based his ease on the merits or demerits of Mr. Rawling compared with those of other available authorities, who, he said, were more qualified to write a proper’ biography of Ha.ri,ur. The only authentic records of Harpur’s life are filed and indexed at the Mitchell Library. Not one article, let alone one book, has been written by Mr. Rawling on the life and work of Harpur. That is verifiable at the Mitchell Library. It has no record of any request made by Mr. Rawling to examine the material on Hari,lir that it has available. The Mitchell Library maintains a record of every borrower and the books he reads, and the officials have never heard of Mr. Rawling as an authority on Harpur. The Attorney-General is chairman of (he Mitchell Library Trust, and he shouldask the librarian what requests he has received from Mr. Bawling for access to the Harpur records. No research into Harpur’s life could be undertaken except at the Mitchell Library, for there is no other source of information. No evidence exists that Mr. Rawling, who has been preferred to other authorities, has ever interested himself in the authentic information that must he used to write Harpur’s biography. The right honorable member for Cowper has made out an unanswerable case. Efforts made to counter it provide sufficient evidence, if evidence should lie needed, of the desirability of bringing Mr. Rawling’s. fellowship into the light of day in order that the taxpayers may know what is being done with their money.
.- Notwithstanding the speech of the leader of the Austraiian Country party (Mr. Fadden), the issue before us is not thu martyrdom of the Australian Country party, hut a straight issue of civil liberty. It is on that basis that I propose to discus-* the matter raised by the. right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle’ Page). The leader of the Australian Country party and the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) have attacked the right of Mr. Rawling to receive ;i Commonwealth Literary Fund fellowship.
– I did not.
– The right honorable gentleman said that no evidence existed of research on Harpur by Mr. Rawling, the implication being that he should not receive a Commonwealth grant.
– That is not so. I said that .he should not have been preferred to other people more qualified.
– The right honorable gentleman has no information about his qualifications.
– I ask the honorable member not to twist on what T said.
– Order ! The right honorable member has. concluded his speech and is not entitled to “intrude on the speech of the honorable member for Fremantle.
– The statement made was that before the war there was no evidence that Mr. Rawling could write. I bought a book written by Mr. Rawling that appeared in instalments called, A Short History of the Australian People It contains some original research on early exploration, as is shown by the marginalia and the bibliography. I can honestly say, from considerable reading of history, that I have never read a better account of the work of .Dampier than that written by Mr. Rawling, in matter, interpretation, and literary style. Therefore,” to .assort, without a. tittle of evidence, ae the honorable member for Richmond did. that there is no evidence of Mr. Rawlins’s literary merit is to assert something totally untrue. Apart from whether he was, or was not, a Communist, or whether any one else, who has been given a fellowship, is or is not a Communist, there is another question. It concerns civil liberties. No one knows who speaks for the Liberal party, because the tune sung by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) is entirely different from that of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), and I am glad to see the honorable member for Barker nodding agreement. The Leader of the Opposition made a clear statement after the last general elections that the policy of the Liberal party was not to ban the Communist party but to prosecute it for any overt or illegal act done by it. It would not ban the Communist party on political philosophy as such. Therefore the policy of the Liberal party is to recognize the Communist party as a legal party. On what grounds, then, would the Liberal party exclude Communists from receiving fellowships from the Commonwealth Literary Fund? Obviously, if it made the Communist party illegal, it would have the right to exclude Communists. The policy of the Australian Country party is at least consistent. It declares that it will ban the Communist party; hence, its objection to Communist authors or those accused of being Communists, ‘ is coherent and consistent. But that is. not the policy of the Liberal party, and I should like to know just how deep’ is the concern of members of the Liberal party for civil liberty because
Hillside this House they want one thing, and inside the House, they either sit in silence while the Australian Country party goes through its usual opening gambit, or certain of its members, like the honorable member for Barker, if he can be described as a Liberal, support them. In my mind, the word “liberalism “ is associated with Gladstone, Campbell-Bannerman and Lloyd George. To call the honorable member for Barker a liberal is as jarring to ray sense of the fitness of things as it would l>e to put coronation robes on an orang-outang.
Among the authors who have received a grant from the. Common wealth Literary Fund, there is one who, I understand, is a Communist. I am not following the usual practice of smearing people under the cover of parliamentary privilege. She is Katherine Susannah Pritchard, or Mrs. K. S. Throssell. I understand, that she has never sought to conceal the fact that she was a Communist. She received a grant to write a .novel set in the gold-fields of Western Australia. I presume that the novel, is her recent work, The Roaring Nineties. I read the novel with great interest. With her political views, I disagree entirely. I have heard her speak publicly, and I disagree entirely with what she stated; but if the Commonwealth .Literary Fund had deprived Australian literature of the novel which she wrote, it would have done a disservice to Australian literature. I consider that nothing could dramatize the whole issue which is before the House better than this clear separation of her political convictions whatever we may think of them, and her literary ability.” The list of persons who have received assistance from the fund is very extensive. Some of the authors are Frank Dalby Davison, Xavier Herbert, Stella Miles Franklin, Mrs. Ernestine Hill, Marjorie Clark, Marjorie Barnard, of Barnard Eldershaw fame, E. J. Brady, and Roy Connolly, who wrote a novel dealing ivir.li freakishness in heredity. Looking at honorable members opposite, I believe that this book is probably a very valuable piece of research. Other well known names in the list of distinguished authors are - S. J. Baker, Mrs. Katrine Susannah Pritchard, J. H. M. Abbott, Dame Mary Gilmour and Mrs. Daisy Botes.
Summing up, I desire to make certain comments on Mr. Rawling himself. I heard a broadcast that he gave over the national stations. If I remember aright, the broadcast took the form of an interview with an announcer. Mr. Bawling broke with the Communist party over the Russian invasion of Finland. He considered that the habit of the Communist party of apologizing for every item of - Russian foreign -policy was reprehensible. -He stated that Russian actions, as he saw them, had nothing to do with the philosophy of communism. In that broadcast he accused the Australian Communist party of being not Communists but Stalinists, who might aptly be described as they were drawn in Low’s cartoon. All the little boys were in bed with “ Eather Joe “, and if father burned, they all turned. That was his description of the Communist party at this time; not that the fact that he might be a Communist or was once a Communist has anything to do with the question whether he should be awarded a grant to enable him to write on a literary subject. But since bis literary ability has been impugned, it is necessary for me to state these facts. .If the evidence of Mr. Rawling’s literary ability is provided in his Short History of the Australian People, then the committee, iri deciding to make this grant to him, had good grounds for so doing. When the Minister for Transport, (Mr. Ward) objected yesterday to the right honorable member for Cowper being granted leave to make a statement, I personally disapproved of his action.
– But the ‘honorable member voted for it.
– I voted for it because I have no intention of behaving as an individualist, as the honorable member for Barker has done- .
– Where is personal liberty now ?
– I a,m very glad now that the Minister did object, because his action has led to this debate, which has revealed how contemptuous is the attitude of the Australian Country party towards civil liberty. I am glad also that the Australian people have had this revelation of how there is in their midst a party of Junkers, who would drop their jackboots squarely on Australian literature.
.- Whatever else may be said by honorable members opposite about the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), the concluding remarks of” the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) were entirely unwarranted. If honorable members will recall ‘the .facts they will remember that the right honorable member for Cowper accepted the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), and did not press the matter further. In that way, he avoided causing any embarrassment to Mr. Rawling. It was not until the right honorable gentleman himself had been savagely attacked in this House, in his absence, and then denied the right to make a personal explanation by those who now claim to uphold the right of personal liberty, that he raised in the matter again.
– Order ! Wow that the honorable member has made that comment, I ask him to address his remarks to the subject before the Chair.
Mi:. HOLT. - With respect. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I” ha ve heard honorable members opposite roam all around this subject, and if we are not given the same opportunity, what rights -are left to us?
– Where is civil liberty now? We are denied the right to speak on this subject.
– Order ! The leaders of the political parties constituting the Opposition should set an example to their supporters. I ask that order be observed while the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) addresses the Chair and I also ask the honorable member to address his remarks to the subject associated with the motion. I have allowed him certain liberty, as I have allowed other honorable members, in approaching this subject, but I consider that he has gone far enough.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and other honorable members who have spoken in this debate, roamed very widely, and I consider that a member of the Opposition is entitled to reply to their statements.
– That is not a point of order.
– At any rate, enough has been said by honorable members on both sides of the House about personal liberty, but the issue implicit in the submission of the right honorable member for Cowper is this: Is there, by .some accident or through inadequate vigilance on the part of the committee controlling the Commonwealth Literary Fund, a danger that some of this money, which is provided by taxpayers, will be used to enable certain people, who themselves would deny to us the right of free speech, to undermine and white-ant the democratic institutions of (his country? One of the most remarkable features of this debate is that, although members of the committee presumably investigated the literary record of Mr. Bawling, the only person to submit to the House to-day evidence of those activities was the right honorable member foi- Cowper. No one has suggested that M r. Rawling has written matter other than that contained in the list provided by the right honorable member for Cowper. We are told that although Mr. Bawling has written on the subject of communism in the past, he is now a convert, who is so moved to continue his literary activities that he has applied foia Commonwealth Fellowship. However, T point out’ that he has refrained from producing, during the last seven or eight years, any literature which would give a denial to the views which he previously expressed in print. Why, if he has this consuming desire to record himself in print on one subject, has he not been prepared to publish statements which would undo any damage which his previous utterances had caused?
The fears of the Opposition go beyond the issue raised in this particular instance. We are concerned, because we find on the part of this Government a reluctance to bring to the light of day the activities of people who are conspiring to undermine the Commonwealth. The Government refuses to say where the funds are obtained that enable four publications to bc carried on by the Communist party in Australia. We hear that certain persons are no longer members of the Communist party. How many of them have gone underground because they look to the day when the activities of some of their comrades might deprive them of the opportunity to carry out their foul work in white-anting our democratic institutions? If the Government desires to repudiate the charges levelled against it on this occasion, and wishes to allay the concern, and misgivings which the Opposition and many people throughout Australia feel on the subject of communism, let it face this issue as a real challenge ! Let it examine the activities of the Communists in Australia, and bring into the light of day the source of the funds which enable the Communists to publish those journals!
Mi-. DEPUTY SPEAKER.- Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 257n.
Motion (by Mr. POLLARD) agreed to -
That leave lie given to bring in a bill for an net to provide for the validation of collections of duties of customs under Customs Tariff Proposals.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
. - by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is ‘ to validate the collections of duties of customs imposed by Customs Tariff Proposals No. 1 of the 14th November, 1946. Without this action, the authority to collect duty under these proposals will expire on the 14th May, 1947. The proposals which it . is desirable to validate principally, gave effect to the reductions of duty introduced by the Government in connexion with its 1946-47 budget. No absolute period of validation has been prescribed in the bill. This follows -the course established in previous validation bills introduced into the House, and will secure uniformity with validation acts which are at present operative. This bill does not preclude the individual items in the propos/als being debated by honorable members, as a tariff debate is necessary before such items can be permanently included in the schedule to the Customs Tariff Act. A tariff debate will be held as soon as circumstances permit.
– I do not intend to oppose the passage of this bill, but I consider it necessary to point out that it is time that honorable members wore given an opportunity to discuss the specific tariff items involved. When the last Customs Tariff Validation Bill was before the House the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) gave an assurance that, ata very early date, honorable members would be given an opportunity to discuss the tariff schedules, yet here is another validation bill and we still have not been provided withthat opportunity. Because of trade discussions which are proceeding overseas at present. I am aware that this might not be an appropriate opportunity, from the point of view of the Government, for a tariff debute. The Minister, in his secondreading speech, said -
The present validationbill does not preclude the individual items in the proposals being debated by honorable members, as a tariff debate is necessary before such items can be permanently included in the schedule to the Customs Tariff Act. A tariff debate will be held as soon as circumstances permit.
That, however, does not give any indication that a tariff debate will be arranged at an early date. Moreover, the Minister pointed out that the validation now being sought is for an unspecified term. We may therefore be precluded from engaging in a tariff debate for many more months, or even, in some circumstances, for years. Other tariff validation bills may follow this one. This procedure does not do justice to the responsibilities of honorable members in relation to tariff policy. In view of the great development of our manufacturing potential during the war years there is every reason for requesting an early tariff debate. Itmay be that some of the industries which are at present receiving protection may not need it, or they may not need such high, duties as are at present being applied. Other manufacturing industries now in their early stages of development may require a greater degree of protection than they are receiving. It maybe that at this moment some of our newer industries are having the headman’s axe applied to them in the overseas discussions to which I have referred. In these circumstances a fulldress tariff debate is vital to the welfare of industry in Australia. I strongly protest against the frequent introduction of validation hills of this description, and urge the Government to provide an early opportunity for a proper tariff debate. I ask the Minister to give the House an assurance that the promise of the Prime Minister that a tariff debate would be arranged at an early date will be fulfilled. This is necessary in the interests of Australian industry generally.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reada second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate: report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Pollard) agreed to -
That leave begivento bring in a bill foran act to provide for the validation of collections of dutiesof customs under Customs Tariff (Southern Rhodesian Preference) Proposals.
Bill presented, and read a first time
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to validate the collections of duties of customs imposed by Customs Tariff (Southern Rhodesian Preference) Proposals No. 1. introduced on the 14th November, 1946. The bill has a similar effect to that of the Customs Tariff Validation Bill which has just been passed.
. -I should not have risen on this occasion had the Minister (Mr. Pollard) given me the assurance that I asked for a few moments ago, that an early opportunity would be provided for a debate on the individual items involved in the several schedules covered by these validating bills. I had the honor to negotiate the original Southern Rhodesian preference agreement while I held the portfolio of Minister for Trade and Customs, so I am well aware of the implications inherent in this measure. I am not out of step with the desire of the Government to validate the duties included in the schedule that was tabled last November, but I reiterate that a full dress debate on wor tariff policy is necessary in the interests of Australia. We ought to knowwhere we are heading in our customs tariff policy. It will doubtless be of interest to honorable members and to the country at large to be reminded that tariff receipts for the first eight months, of the present financial year show an increase of £17. 000,000 over the estimate. The total is made up of £11,000,000 from customs duties and £6,000,000 from excise duties. Thu estimated budget collection for the full financial year is £89,000,000. The revenue for the ten months ended thu 30th. April, totalled £34,224,860. The collections up till the :50th April were £21,858,600 more than the corresponding ten months of the previous financial year. The total collections for April alone were £S,S77,900 which was £1,807.000 mw. than for April of last year. There will probably be a continually increasing revenue from customs and excise duties until the depleted stocks in the stores of this country have been replenished. It may suit the Government to have a “rocketing” customs revenue and tha;: very circumstance may prove an incentive to it to defer a full consideration of customs policy for as long as possible. In that event we may expect a continuation of the policy of introducing validating bills of this description; hut the abstraction of money from the pockets of the people by such means is not. justifiable. That is another reason why there should be a prompt; review of customs policy. I cannot fathom why the Government should wish to continue to abstract money from the people in the way that it is doing by both direct and indirect, means. It is thereby imposing a financial burden, on the people which I am sure they will not bc willing Vo carry much longer. The Government’s policy is impoverishing industry to an extraordinary degree and it is hindering full recovery. I consider, therefore, that it. is incumbent upon me to impress upon the Minister and his colleagues the need for an early tariff debate so that, to use an expression of which Government members are fond, we may “streamline” our tariff policy. The present policy of the Government is undoubtedly having an adverse effect on some worthy importing enterprises.
.- I listened with interest to the two speeches tha t were made on the validating bil) which the House has just passed, and I was somewhat surprised that the Minister who introduced the measure (Mr. Pollard) did not give an explanation ki honorable members of the need for it. Everybody knows that anything done in validly is illegal. Consequently when the Parliament is invited to pass a bill to validate something that has already been done, it may be assumed that the invalid action was illegal. If something illegal has been, done honorable mein hers should be informed of the full facts. The bill now before us contains the expression, “all duties of customs demanded or collected “. That means, I presume, that duties which have already been collected have been illegally collected. Therefore the illegal action needs validation. Presumably, duties to be collected, in the future under the tariff proposals to which this bill relates would also be illegal if this validating bill were not passed. I submit therefore that the Minister should explain the reason why such a. measure as this is necessary.
– I desire to refer to the points raised by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang). The action taken by the Government in relation to these tariff matters was not illegal. Under legislation passed by this Parliament many years ago duties specified in tariff schedules that were tabled became operative at once. The reason for such action is clear. If the duties did not become operative immediately they were notified there would be a. temptation for people immediately to rush forward prospective -imports, or to remove goods from bond. For tthat reason duties .become effective immediately schedules are tabled. Another law passed! by this Parliament provides that tariff schedules which have been laid on the table must be validated within a given time - I believe within six months. That period, in respect of these schedules, will expire in a few days, and unless the Parliament passes a validating bill covering a further period, the duties will lapse. I remind the honorable member for Reid that while I was Prime Minister numerous tariff schedules were introduced, by means of which existing industries, and iiic finances of this country, were protected at a very serious period of our history, and the foundation of many more valuable industries was laid. Eventually, the Parliament validated those schedules. Now, because the law has been amended, the period during which tariff schedules can continue to operate without validation is only six months. It does not matter what may be the number of schedules, they have to be laid on the table of the House, and should a majority of the Parliament, so decide, any one or all of them may be disallowed. Such action is not taken, because the Parliament always approves of them.
.- This proposal is rather unfair to the House, even though the matter may be urgent. What the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has said is true enough, but he did not tell the whole story. Validation bills were brought down during his period of office and that of the Lyons administration, as I know full well, having been Minister for Trade and Customs for six years, because of lack of time in which to discuss them. For about five years there has not been a tariff debate in this Parliament, and it is high time there was one. The protest of the honorable member for Reid (Mr.Lang) is timely. Yesterday I pointed out to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) that the Minister for Trade and Customs should be a member of the House of Representatives and should not be stowed away in the Senate, but the right honorable gentleman did not deign to reply to me. That Minister is responsible for the administration of the trade of this country, the collection of a large part of its revenue, and multifarious matters which concern customs duties, which in large measure were fixed when the Ottawa Agreement was ratified in 1933. All sorts of restrictions upon imports and exports have to be administered by officials, who are doing the best they can within the compass allowed to them. Undeniably, Australian commerce i3 getting into a very chaotic condition because of the absence of parliamentary discussion. I am sure that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) will agree that a tariff debate is needed. He deals with export matters, and has not the necessary facilities for obtaining all the information that he needs. Every’ honorable member knows that when a question in relation to a customs matter is asked in this House the information sought cannot be supplied, and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has to promise to obtain it from his colleague. I challenge any honorable member to name one of the customs duties that are affected by these bills. I cannot be told what amount has been collected, what the primage is. or anything else. I protest against being asked to agree to the passage of a validating bill in those circumstances, and request the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to place the matter before Cabinet with a view to having all tariff schedules debated in this House. It is true that when a tariff schedule is laid on the table the duties it imposes become operative. I realize that we cannot do other than allow the bill to pass.
– It is many a long day since there was a tariff debate in this House. The last occasion which comes to my mind at all vividly was, I think, late in 1939, when the government of the day met its “ Waterloo “ one night in connexion with oil duties. The tariff has a. vital influence in the country areas of Australia. I believe that the Minister for Commerce ‘ and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) appreciates that point at least, because the costs of production of primary industries in Australia depend largely upon the nature of the tariff, that we keep in force, and in addition the possibilities of those industries securing markets overseas are affected thereby. At the present time I am prepared to concede that the Government is represented at a. tra.de conference that is being held at Geneva. My guess as to what may be the results of that conference is as good as that of anyone else. The Minister and I may agree in that respect, and that would be rather dangerous. My prediction is that, for all useful purposes, the results will be practically nil. So the most which the Government can urge in support of this validating bill is that it desires to see the shape of what is produced at Geneva before involving the Parliament in .a firstTC.la.ss tariff debate. If we could have an undertaking given from the treasury bench that immediately the results of the Geneva conference were known the Government would initiate a full tariff debate rand the various interests affected could begin to look at the -tariff, with 4ll its .complexities and varieties,, from .the (Standpoint of postwar Australian conditions, .then I should ‘be quite ‘happy to let the bill pass without further comment. But I put it that the Government cannot expect the Parliament *to validate tariff .-schedules indefinitely nosy ‘that we are in a period which, ,at :any rate, passes lor peace, when Australian primary /and secondary industries .should have some concrete idea of wharf will b.e the conditions under which they will be permitted to operate. I frankly admit that all sorts of considerations in regard to exchange, preference and so forth, are associated with this matter. If we are to be guided by press statements bearing upon the attitude of the United States of America in regard to wool duties which have appeared within the last few days, then the outlook is rather a murky one. Nevertheless it may became clear. I put it to the Government very firmly that there should be a full-dress tariff debate before the end of this year. Let us arrive at an understanding of what is to be the tariff policy of Australia for the next few years.
.- I wish to add. a brief comment to those of other honorable members who desire that there shall be a .full review of our post-war tariff policy. I concede, with them, that there are very great practical difficulties in the way of a complete review by the Government to-day. But surely the Government recognizes that both primary and secondary industry is in a state of uncertainty as to future possibilities! The question is not one merely of tariff protection, or of .the degree to which excise duties, imposed to meet the emergency needs of war. are likely to become a permanent >part of our revenue-raising methods of the future. There are also administrative developments, which have occurred during the war and are continuing to-day, and in respect of those developments the commercial and industrial community of Australia needs some guidance if it is to be enabled to plan efficiently for the future. One of those developments is governmental control of the importation of goods, sometimes for the .purpose of conserving exchange, and at other times, perhaps, with the object of .’enabling Australian industries to obtain an abnormal share of the markets that are offering for their products. During the war there were security reasons which made reasonable the imposition of these abnormal restrictions. But we are now .approaching ,the second full year of peace, and some of those emergency provisions are in line for review. What is true of the restrictions on -the importation of goods is also true in like degree of the restrictions which operate to-day on the export of many, of the ‘products of Australia. Far too much responsibility has been left with departmental officers, and too little with the body which should safeguard the interests of the community as a whole - the Parliament of the Commonwealth. Perhaps that was inevitable during the war years. But the time is long overdue, for the rea.sserti.on by this Parliament of its financial authority, its right to control what are really great policy issues in respect of these commercial -matters. Within recent months, and even years, the determination of the right kind- of policy to pursue in -relation to the importation of goods and the restrictions which should be .imposed 011 the export of goods has been left to departmental officers. Their decisions may have .been, in the main, sound. Nevertheless, in the past decisions of that kind have rightly been reserved as being among the most important of those which this Parliament should make. So I suggest to the Government - and here T somewhat cut across what has been said by my colleagues - that before the conclusion of the discussions at Geneva we should have a clear indication of -the Government’s future policy in relation to these administrative procedures. I hope that, if .the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) does not feel fully equipped to deal with the .issues at this moment, he will have them -in mind as the subject of an early -statement to the Parliament.
– in reply - The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has asked to be Assured that the Parliament will have an early opportunity to discuss tariff problems generally. That is a perfectly reasonable request, and I assure him that it will be so considered. Immediately the circumstances reasonably permit an opportunity will be afforded for a debate on tariff and excise policy generally. On the other hand, as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has pointed out, it is impossible at the moment to state specifically when that event will occur. The honorable member for Barker has referred to the conversations that are proceeding at the International Conference on Trade and . Employment, at Geneva. It would he im practicable for the Government to bring down revisionary tariff or excise proposals before the outcome of those conversations and of the conference discussions bad become known,because it would not know whether there would be an almost immediate need to make af urther revision, and the time of the Parliament would have been wasted, whilst there might ensue a state of chaos in industry generally and a state of industrial disturbance all round. In the circumstances, I hope that the Opposition will accept my assurance that a tariff discussion will take place immediately the circumstances make it reasonable. I do not know that it is desperately urgent; because, as the result of war activities, and of the fact that Australia has come out of the conflict less injured in regard to its industrial capacity than has any other country, our secondary industries, in particular, are happily in a rather sound position. It is a rare thing to receive from the representatives of any secondary industry a request for additional tariff protection, and as for the primary industries, insofar as they are affected by the country’s fiscal policy, it is seldom that any complaint is heard. I agree substantially with the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), who argued that export and import restrictions and prohibitions should be reduced to a minimum. I hope that the International Conference on Trade and Employment at Geneva will be successful, and that when the agreements reached there eventually come before this Parliament for ratification they will be discussed in a non-party manner’, and that honorable members, when considering them, will be actuated only by a desire to raise the general standard of living in this and other countries.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Pollard) agreed to -
Thatleavebegiventobringinabill for an act to provide forthe validation of collections of duties of excise underExcise Tariff Proposals.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
. - by leave - I move -
That thebillbe now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to validate collection of duties and excise imposed by excise tariff proposals No. 1 of the 14th No vember, 1946. The bill has a similar effect to that of the bill just passed by the House.
– On what items were excise duties imposed?
– They were imposed on petrol, shale products, and coke and coal distillates, as explained when the proposals were introduced in November last.
– I should like to learn from the Government just what is the present position of the. shale oil industry, because there is an excise duty upon shale oil. When the original legislation was passed setting up a shale oil industry in Australia, I was on the other side of the House, and I was somewhat critical of the proposal. I did not believe that it would be successful, and I said so. I said that not enough money was being appropriated for the purpose, and I added that if the Australian Navy had to depend for oil on what was produced at Glen Davis it would never get to sea at all. That was before the war. We have not had a complete story of what has happened since, and it would be a good thing if the Minister were to make a statement setting out the financial commitments of the Commonwealth under the Glen Davis scheme. I understand that, by the exercise of certain powers during the war, without reference to this Parliament, the Commonwealth commitments have been increased. Under the original arrangement, New South Wales was to provide 25 per cent, of the capital for the enterprise, the proprietors of Davis Gelatine (Australia) Proprietary Limited were to provide 25 per cent, and the Commonwealth was to provide 50 per cent. I should like to know what are the financial commitments of the three parties under the existing arrangement. What losses have been incurred by the Commonwealth on this interesting enterprise, and how much crude oil has been produced at Glen Davis? I have no authentic information on the subject from government sources, except what I have gleaned from the Auditor-General’s report, and such reports, although sometimes very revealing, are in many respects unsatisfactory. It is doubtful whether the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard), who is in charge of this measure, is .able to give the information which I seek. Therefore, I suggest that when the hill gets into committee further consideration should be postponed until the information is available.
I understand that excise duty is to be collected on spirit distilled from wheat, just as it is collected on spirit distilled from sugar-cane products. A great deal of Commonwealth money has been expended on the erection of power alcohol distilleries in Australia. Some of us believe that there was a good deal of party political influence exercised in determining the location of the distilleries, even though we might believe that, in no circumstances, would a government stoop to placing a distillery in a particular locality in order to improve the political chances of an independent member, who was one of the Frankenstein, brothers.
– Does the honorable member suggest that party politics played any part in the Glen Davis project?
– If the Minister will look up the records, he will see that I criticized the Glen Davis project from the beginning, and he must now admit that my criticism has been justified by events. I could never understand why we should expect a man, who had been successful in making gelatine out of calves’ hoofs to be equally successful in producing oil from shale. Thedistilleries erected for the purpose of making spirit from wheat are still in existence. There is one in the electorate of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull), and another in the electorate of the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Russell), while others are scattered in various places throughout Australia. The war is now over, and we ought to be told what is the policy of the Government regarding such enterprises. Some of the revenue from excise duties levied upon other industries has been used, I have no doubt, to build power alcohol distilleries. .
– This bill has nothing to do with the products of those distilleries.
– I appreciate that, because the distilleries have, in fact, produced nothing.
– Neither can the honorable member go on producing speeches about them.
– I ask the Government to make a statement that will enlighten honorable members regarding its projects for the distillation of power alcohol, and the production- of oil from shale.
.- The House was very generous to allow the previous bills to go through without much debate ; but this bill, which provides for the collection of millions of pounds in excise duties, cannot be allowed to pass so easily. We have been unable to obtain from the Government an explanation of what the bill really involves. I suggested that the excise duties under consideration were levied on tobacco and cigarettes, and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) said that he was not sure.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– The Minister offered an explanation which made it clear that he did not realize the difference between import duties and excise duties. In this bill we are concerned with excise duties. I am concerned about the excise duty levied on tobacco and cigarettes, and the Government’s proposal has not been adequately explained.
– This bill lias nothing to do with tobacco.
– AVe have not been told what it is about. I refuse to let the bill go through until we arc given an adequate explanation.
Silting suspended from 6 to S p.m.
.- Before the suspension of the sitting we were endeavouring to debate a bill which had been brought before us by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) regarding the invalidation of certain excise tariff collections. I purposely said that we were endeavouring to debate the bill because honorable members had been reduced to complete inability to do so intelligently because of the absence of information regarding the items on which the duties are to be validated by the bill. Just how meagre was the information given to the House may best be illustrated by a perusal of the notice-paper for to-day in which, under government business, we find notice of motion No. 3, which reads -
Mr. Pollard: To move, that lie have leave to bring in a’ bill foc an act to provide for the validation of collections of duties of excise under Excise Tariff Proposals.
All honorable members will agree that that conveys no more than that some proposal was to be brought before the House relating to an excise tariff. Just what the proposal was to bc we were not told. Honorable members thus had no opportunity to give it serious consideration nor to decide how they should vote upon it. It was upon that foundation that the Minister made what, by courtesy, I must describe as a second-reading speech. It was so brief that I might be permitted to read it in full. The honorable gentleman said -
This bill seeks to validate the collections of duties of excise imposed by Excise Tariff-
Proposals No. I of the 14th November, 1940. The hill has a similar effect to that of the preceding validation .bills.
Upon that comprehensive array of information the House is invited to record its vote. I do- not know whether the Minister himself knew what it was all about. It is obvious that he must have known because when I asked, by interjection, what items were involved, the honorable gentleman replied that they embraced petrol, petroleum, shale products, coke and coal distillates. I ask the House, and the wider audience which the Government has been good enough to make aware of our proceedings, if it is not complete abrogation of the purposes of the Parliament to bring down a bill of this kind and without any explanation of its purpose expect honorable members to vote on it? In my spare time during the suspension of the sitting I endeavoured to discover what was proposed. 1 have not the slightest doubt that honorable members arrayed behind the ministerial bench, who may be depended upon to fall into line and vote for all government measures, have not the foggiest idea of what this measure is designed to achieve. Not one of them can say by interjection just what is proposed.
– Order ! The honorable member must not encourage interjections.
– Your .protection, Mr. Speaker, was never more kindly extended. I have been listening for a lone interjection, but there is complete silence. Obviously, no honorable. member opposite knows what it is about, but all of them are prepared to vote for it. Was there ever a greater travesty of parliamentary government than that? It is fantastic to think that a measure such as this, which involves millions of pounds, is one about which not even one honorable member sitting behind the- Government knows anything:
– When the proposal’s were tabled in November, 1946, a memorandum was circulated which explained, them fully. I did. not think it necessary to circulate the memorandum again.
– The Minister says that a memorandum was circulated!
Why, we are constantly doing our best to avoid being inundated with explanatory memoranda by the Government. I am trying to discover what circular was issued to members in the month of November, 1946, which related to excise duties. The bill does not say whether these excise duties relate to beer, petrol, tobacco, or carbonic acid gas; it merely refers to duties of excise. The Minister has told us the month and the year in which the explanatory memorandum was circulated, and upon that foundation we are expected to proceed to work. In respect of ordinary legislative matters I have said frequently that the Government hasreduced the Parliament to a mere rubber stamp. Legislative proposals are endorsed in the Labour caucus room where final decisions are made. They are then submitted to the Parliament for approval, the Government invariably using the weight of its number to bludgeon them through. As Omar Khayyam said -
The moving finger writes; and having writ, moves on :
Nor all your piety nor wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line
Nor all your tears wash out a word of it.
Omar Khayyani must have had some prescience of what would happen under Labour’s administration. We are not even treated with the courtesy of being told what items of excise duties are to be validated, whether they relate to beer, tobacco, playing cards or the numerous other items that are the subject of excise duties to-day. By devoting much time to research, I have discovered that the bill relates to the Government’s proposal to reduce the excise duty on petrol by1d. a gallon - with some trimmings, of course - but there is something about beer in it. The schedule defines beer and provides that the rates are to be unaltered.. We can perhaps agree to that with appropri ate disappointment.
Mr.Chifley. - With respect to beer, the proposal is to adopt a different method of levying the same toll.
– The Government does not change its method of levying a toll without some motive for doing so.
– The new method will save man-power and reduce expense.
– I thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) for filling in some of the gaps left by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. I have ascertained that, the schedule proposes a reduction of the excise on petrol. If we had had adequate warning of the purposes of this bill many of us would undoubtedly have expressed strong views on the quantitative amount of the reduction and on the destination of the revenue raised from that source.
Mr.pollard. - There is nothing about reduction of excise duty on petrol in the bill.
– There is exactly nothing in the bill beyond the fact that its purpose is to validate certain collections of excise duty. From my researches I have discovered that the schedule to which the bill relates refers among other things to petrol, petrol products, benzine, and napthalene, on which an excise of 8½d. a gallon is imposed. I understand that the purpose of the measure now before us is to reduce the excise duty on those items by 3d. a gallon,- the excise being formerly 9½d. a gallon. The Minister says there is nothing about a reduction of excise duty on petrol, but it is obvious that, the only purpose of the bill is to reduce that duty by1d. a gallon.
– The honorable member has corrected himself. He is on the right track at last,
– In his second-reading speech the Minister did not say enough about the bill to need to correct himself. Upon examining the schedule one finds that there is a discriminating excise on petrol in favour of petrol produced by National Oil Proprietary Limited - the Glen Davis project. There is a sad story about the Glen Davis project.
– Who started it?
– To its great credit a government formed by the present Opposition started that project. It is, however, not responsible for the calamitous loss incurred on the venture. The project was designed to enable this country to some degree to avoid dependence on imported petrol and it is regrettable that it was not as successful as its originators hoped it would be. Private citizens as well as governments are financially involved in it. The balance-sheet of National Oil Proprietary Limited shows that of the total capital the Commonwealth invested £2,000,000, the Government of New South Wales £166^000, and Mr. George Davis, of New South Wales, £325,000 in the venture. The project was never regarded as anything but experimental. As I have said, its objective, which was to make this country to some degree self-sufficient, was of the highest national importance. Mr. Davis and his associates have not received a penny in return for their investment, and are no doubt in jeopardy of losing the whole of it. Had I been given time to consider this legislation properly I probably should advocate that the excise on the product of the National Oil Proprietary Limited, might well be abolished, instead of reduced by only id. a gallon, because the Commonwealth Government owns 90 per cent, of the shares. But, having been denied the opportunity of considering the implications, I do not commit myself to that. The House is entitled to time to consider all proposals that come before it.. Mem- bers ought not be forced say, as I have had to say, “I am not sure what I would do if I had time to consider the matter “.
This proposal refers also to excise on petrol produced by The Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. The capital invested in the company is £750,000, as near as I have been able to discover in the little while I have had available to me since the bill was brought down. The Commonwealth Government holds 5 per cent, of the shares,, and an overseas company the remainder. The balancesheet for 1946 shows that this governmentcontrolled enterprise sold its products at such high prices as to reap a net profit of nearly £224,195 after paying £690,000 tax. The company is half-way towards socialism. We have been told by members of the Labour party that the object of converting an enterprise from private ownership to government ownership is to protect the people against exploitation by great companies and financial organizations. Socialized enterprise is supposed to be non-profit making. Labour claims that most of the terrible things that afflict mankind spring from the profit motive. Yet that company in 1946 made a gross profit of nearly £1,000,000, which, after payment of taxes left a net -profit of £224,195, on which it paid a dividend of 12 per cent. This legislation may or may not be approved, but the Parliament is at least entitled to be told its implications by the Government. Yet the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pollard) made a secondreading speech of only five lines. Private motorists and people dependent on petroleum products for industrial purposes in this country might well consider that the Government could do with less revenue from the company of which it is the parent. Under ho previous administration has it been able to exploit the people as it must have exploited them last year. Casting my eye over its profits I find that in recent years, in round figures they were £224,000 in 1946, £156,000 in 1945, £197,000 in 1944, £95,000 in 1943. £15,000 in 1942, £13,000 in 1941 and £93,000 in 1940. I have not been able to ascertain the profits in 1939, but they decline on a steady curve to £57,000 in 1936. . If an enterprise established on governmental capital is to be used to exploit the people to that degree, it should be understood that that is the way that the Labour policy operates. This has a far-reaching effect not only on the people that buy the products of The Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited but also on the profits of its competitors. Sales of The Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited are incomparably smaller than of other petrol companies. Who sets the tune? Do the great British and American companies, the Shell Oil Company Limited and the Vacuum Oil Company Limited set the price level or does The Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited? If last year the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited which made a gross profit of £946,000 and a net profit of £224,000 is as inefficient as most governmental enterprises how much higher must have been the profits of its competitors with their vastly greater turnover and more efficient management? The Labour party has something to answer there.
I hope thu G overnment does “ not think that we are so inept that it can get away with this sort of thing. We will not let if. It is time the cynicism of the Labour party towards parliamentary government was brought to a halt. Every time the Government treats the parliamentary institution, so cynically as to introduce an important measure like this with a fiveline second-reading speech we will expose it. We will noi: tolerate the Parliament being made a rubber stamp to endorse, the decisions of the Labour caucus. We will bring that policy to an end or expose it to the public gaze whenever it is applied.
The bill proposes to validate the collection of an excise duty of Sid. a gallon on petrol. Perhaps when the petrol duty was originally imposed, it was of importance mainly to private motorists, but, increasingly? petrol is becoming a highly important factor in industry, both primary end secondary. It is of immense importance to men on the land, on whose behalf I speak. Vet. we were to have been tricked into missing the opportunity of expressing opinions on the maintenance of a punitive tax of 8-)d. a gallon on petrol, which is only Id. less. than the warlime rate. That small reduction has been made when the Government is embarrassed, not by a shortage of revenue, but by the excess of revenue pouring into the coffers of the .Treasury. When the Federal Aids Roads Agreement Bill is introduced I shall have something to say. about the distribution- of revenue from petrol. I content myself now by condemning the Government for the manner in which if is treating the Parliament. We will oppose and expose every instance of that sort of treatment of the Parliament by the Administration.
– I quite innocently raised the question why this and other like bills were brought down. On the face of it. this is a bill to validate collections of excise. It aroused my curiosity. Why does the Government want to make legal something that is illegal,? The first measure which the Minister introduced was the Customs Tariff Validation Bill. Not knowing the procedure of this House thoroughly, I looked on and marvelled. When the Minister (Mr.
Pollard) introduced the second bill, 1 asked him for an explanation. The right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) was good enough to .explain to me that in .1932, when the financial and economic depression gripped the world, he had been compelled to take extraordinary measures in order to combat its effects in Australia. Then the Minister rose to enlighten me further; but a discussion developed on another matter, and he overlooked me. The House is now considering the Excise Tariff Validation Bill, and it has aroused my innocent curiosity. During the suspension of the sitting. I examined the tariff proposals which the Minister laid upon the table of the House last November. He explained that those proposals must be validated before the 14th May next. If they are not validated, they will become inoperative. Even so, the Government should not attempt to rush this legislation through the House. The Government should not say. “ Time is pressing, and we must pass this legislation as a matter of urgency. “ From the stand-point of the Government there is no urgency, because it controls the sittings of the Parliament. However, the Government chooses to ignore that fact.
– The honorable member for Reid will lie running away next month;
-. - The honorable member for Griffith (Mir. Conelan) has run away often, but no one has ever seen me run away.
– The honorable member ran away when he was Premier of New South Wales.
– I did not. The honorable member ran away from Australia whom he was being pressed. It is regretfable that lie represents a constituency bearing the name of a great Australian. If the honorable member wants to hand it out. he can have it back. .He has a loud voice and screams interjections at my back. But I can deal with him.
I was saying, when I was so rudely interrupted, that the Government has the authority to determine how long this Parliament shall sit, and how long it will require to finish certain business. The
Government cannot claim that it is pressed for time, because it controls the days and hours of sitting. That being so, the explanation which the right honorable member for Yarra offered regarding pressure of time disappears. Therefore, some other reason must exist for this haste. Of that reason I have no knowledge. It may be good, and I may be prepared to accept it when I am told what it is. However, the .Minister has not been courteous enough to explain why the Government is endeavouring to force this legislation through the Parliament with such haste. In the circumstances, every honorable member has a duty to examine these proposals.
The excise and tariff proposals, which the Minister laid on the table of the House last November, cover many items. I. have not had time to examine all of them thoroughly. I had no knowledge, and I am sure that other honorable members did not know that this matter would be raised to-day. These .bills have been suddenly sprung on the House. Honorable members will notice that an asterisk is placed against these three bills on the notice-paper, indicating that they have appeared on the notice-paper for the first time. .In other words, the Minister did not obtain leave to introduce them one day, present them and move that they be read a first time on the second day, and then move the second reading on the third day. The Government hopes that these bills will be hurried through the House in a few moments. I hone that they will not. Making a rough scrutiny of the annual report of the AuditorGeneral upon the Treasurer’s statement of receipts and expenditure, I found several interesting items. -For example, on page 1’3G I found under the heading of “ Power Alcohol Distilleries “ which are covered “by the Excise Tariff Validation Bill-
– Order ! The honora bie member is not correct in that assumption. In .the schedule there is no- reference to power alcohol.
– There is a reference to “ petroleum or shale products, namely, petrol, benzine, benzoline, gaso’line, naphtha and pentane “.
– There is no reference to power alcohol. There is an abund ance of scope in the bill without the’ honorable member attempting to widen it.
– I must submit to your ruling, Mr. Speaker; but perhaps I could refer to the subject under-
– No, perhaps, I may refer to it under the heading, “ For the purposes of this item, beer means any fermented liquor brewed from a mash of malted or other grains or extracts from malted or other grains with or without sugar …”
– Order ! I know good, beer when I see it. It is not power alcohol.
Ma-. LANG. - This bill relates to charges on petrol and on the products that are used to propel motor vehicles. I assume that if power alcohol is not covered in these proposals it cannot be covered elsewhere. Therefore, I should like to ask why it has been completely omitted.
– The honorable member is using Sydney logic.
– Sydney logic is good logic. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan) may display great .efficiency .and acumen aboard one of the war-ships under his administration, but that will not assist him here. Hi.s interjections will not torpedo me. Petrol is mentioned in the schedule. One product of power alcohol is petrol. Do yon,Mr.. Speaker., say that it is not ?
– No. Petrol is .clearly defined in the schedule.
– Petrol always contains a percentage of .power alcohol.
– I shall not - attempt, because it would be futile, to contravene Mr. Speaker’s ruling. What I was proceeding to say was that National Oil Proprietary Limited has escaped its just obligations in this matter. The taxpayers’ money has been sunk in a venture which has not produced any oil for .Australian’ industries or the Australian public. The Government also .made a stupid and silly attempt .when it wasted Commonwealth- money on the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited.
-Order ! ‘ The honorable member is reverting to the subject of power alcohol.
– How do .you know?
– Order !
Mi-, White. - I rise to order for the purpose of clarifying the position. In the excise tariff proposals honorable members will see the words -
Petroleum or Shale Products, viz.: - Petrol, Benzine, Benzoline, Gasoline, Naphtha. Pentane and any other petroleum or shale spirit, having a (lash point ot under 73 degrees Fahrenheit when tested in an Abel Pensky closed test apparatus.
Can you, Mr. Speaker, say that the item does not include power alcohol?
– Yes, definitely.
– I do not wish to proceed along those lines; but I believe that the flash point of a product of the .mills is of considerable importance to industry, and is relevant to this schedule. I consider that motorists and primary producers have been penalized because of the wasteful expenditure which the Government has undertaken, in establishing power alcohol distilleries.
– Order ! If the honorable member proceeds ‘along those lines, I shall, ask him to resume his seat.
– I accept your ruling, Mr. Speaker, and shall reserve my remarks for another occasion.
– ‘One cannot feel satisfied with a secondreading speech by the Minister for Com.merce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard), in which no information at all has been given on the important subject .now under discussion. Excise duties account for millions of pounds of .revenue annually. Although this Parliament might be regarded as the senior firm in the business of this country, honorable members are being asked to sign a blank cheque, and have been denied the courtesy df information to which they are justly entitled. ‘When the Minister was asked by interjection for some information which he failed to give in his speech, he replied curtly, ‘” Shale oil, &c. &c. “. Only ten seconds ago I was able to ‘look at this schedule. I wish to know from the Minister how .much is involved “.in the excise duties ‘referred ‘to in the ‘bill.
What amount of duty has been collected in respect of imported petrol and oils and what amount in- respect of crude petroleum refined in this country? T desire this information so that when the Commonwealth Aid Roads and Works Bill is under consideration later I may bc better able to discuss the distribution of such duties. It should surely be possible for the Minister to give us specific figures in relation to the duties collected on imported refined and locally refined liquid fuels. I have no wish to transgress your ruling in any way, Mr. Speaker, but 1 should like the Minister to state the amount -of the excise’ duty on power alcohol.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman must not invite the Minister to attempt to transgress the Standing Orders.
– I consider that I have .asked a .fair question.
– Eai r or unfair, the Minister has no more right ‘to discuss the subject on this bill than has the -honorable member.
– Surely the Minister could, inform us of the amount of duty collected in respect of fuels manufactured from local, shales and the amount collected on imported refined petrols. This matter is of considerable importance also to farmers who are being compelled to use petrol-driven ‘tractors, and therefore to pay tax on the petrol so used, in preference to kerosene-propelled tractors, which, .unfortunately, .are not available in. sufficient numbers to meet the demand. I realize that it may bo difficult to police these matters; but it is important that farmers should know exactly how they are affected by this situation. I should -also like some information about the excise duty on tobacco. Is that matter involved in this bill ?
– Tobacco, apparently was covered by a previous bill.
– There is an excise duty of 10s. 6d. per lb. on tobacco. I ‘‘take it, from the ‘interjection of the honorable member for Indi, that ‘that is not involved in this measure.
– That is so.
– That robs my punch of some of its strength, as I had intended to say a good deal on that subject. Although I ama n on -smoker,I know that the excise on tobacco imposes a heavy penalty on citizens who smoke, just as the petrol tax imposes a heavy burden on motorists. I hope that the Minister will, in reply, give us some information onthe various matters that have been raised in the debate.
– in reply - I wish to refer, first, to the display of mock indignation by the honorable member forIndi (Mr. McEwen) who has complained that he has not been supplied with sufficient information on the bill now before us. The plain fact is that the schedules to which this bill and the two associated measures relate were tabled in the House last November, and at that time I not only explained the purpose of the schedules, hut also circulated memorandums in relation to them which gave full information regarding both the customs and excise duties.
– I have read the Han- sard report of the Minister’s remarks on that occasion and there is no reference in it to the item to which I referred.
– I made a full explanation, and that is the plain truth. The honorable gentleman’s mock indignation is the more remarkable seeing that he was absent from the House this afternoon when I introduced the first of these measures.
Mr.McEwen. - I was in the House this afternoon.
– If the honorable gentleman was present and could not understand the import of the bills that is no fault of mine. He quoted from Omar Khayyam this evening. I shall also make a quotation from that source.
– I hope that the M inister does not intend to bring the jug of wine here.
– I do not, Mr. Speaker. I direct attention to these words : -
Myself, when young, did eagerly frequent,
Doctor and saint and heard great argument,
About it and about, but evermore
Went out by that same door as in I went.
That applies to the honorable member for Indi. Had he been present in the House when I introduced the first of these validating bills this afternoon he would have realized that the schedule referred to therein provided for a reduction of customs duty of1d. per gallon on petrol. The measure now before the House validates a reduction of excise duty of1d. a gallon. The first-mentioned amount relates to oils and petrols imported in refined condition; the second-mentioned, to oils and petrols refined from shales in this country. The reason for the reduction of1d. in each case was to preserve existing margins. In that respect the Government is honouring an undertaking given by previous governments, including the Menzies Government. The margin operating in respect of imported refined petrols and oils is 51/5d. a gallon, and that in respect of petrols and oils refined from local shales is 7.5d. a gallon. When the original proposals were introduced an undertaking was given by the Menzies Government that the margins would be preserved until 1955. The introduction of this measure, therefore, honours a. promise of the Menzies Government,. In these circumstances, I am astonished that the honorable member for Indi should have spoken in opposition to the bill. I am surprised, also, because the reduction of excise is beneficial to the users of tractors in primary-producing industries, as well as, of course, to other people. It is for the reasons that I have given that I consider that, the honorable member for Indi has been responsible for a display of mock indignation. Had be taken the trouble to refresh his mind on the history of this subject, he would not have spoken as he did. Apparently, the honorable gentleman did not read his notice-paper this morning, otherwise he would have realized that these measures were listed for consideration to-day.
I hope that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) does not consider that. I have been guilty of any studied discourtesy to him. I believe that he will admit that since he has been a member of this House I have carefully refrained from indulging in discourtesy towards him. The time was, of course, when I was in the habit of being courteous to him. I have had no occasion to be discourteous. The only reason why I did not reply to the second-reading speech of the honorable gentleman was that 1 was forestalled by the right honorable member for Tarra. If I had followed along the lines of that right honorable gentleman’s speech, I should have been guilty of tedious repetition.
– Will the Minister answer this question-
– I am not here to answer questions at this stage. If, to- . morrow, the House will grant me leave to do so, I shall be very pleased to answer questions that the honorable member for Reid may fire at me.
M’.r. McEwen - I desire to make a personal explanation. During the speech of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard), he said, if I heard him correctly above the interjections, that r had objected to any reduction of petrol duties-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman has more than once tried to do what he now wants to do. He will not do it again.
– You have not heard inc. Mr. Speaker.
– I ‘know what the honorable gentleman wishes to do; he does not, wish to make a. personal explanation ; he wishes to make another speech.
– I rise to order. I have been misrepresented.
M r. Pollard. - I did not say what the honorable member says I said.
– There has been too much abuse of the permission given by the Standing Orders to make personal explanations. I shall not tolerate any more “of it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 8 (“Validation of Collections under Excise Tariff Proposals).
would explain what is covered by the excise duty of 4£d. a gallon which, on and after the 21st August. 1945, is to be imposed under item “N.E.I.”.
– - There are some locally produced derivatives which are used as fuels but are not specified in the schedule. They will be embraced by the item “ N.E.I. “. The object is to prevent any product which should be covered by these proposals from escaping the payment of a reasonable duty.
.- That is what I thought. The item may embrace a derivative of a distillery.
– For example, power alcohol.
– That is so.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Clark).Order ! The honorable member has been ruled out of order- previously on that point.
– That was in the House, and you, Mr. Chairman,- have no official cognizance of what then occurred.
– Order ! The item refers to coal products, and the honorable member is not entitled to refer to power alcohol.
– Then, will the Minister state whether the item “N.E.I.” will embrace all other products that are not derivatives of coal?
– It will not.
– The schedule covers all the products that are used for power purposes, whether they are obtained from coal, wheat or shale.
– Order! The honorable member will see, if he looks at the item, that it refers to coal tar and coke oven distillates. He is not entitled to refer to any other product at the moment.
– I am. asking the Minister to state whether “N.E.I.” covers derivatives of other than coal, or applies only to coal.
– The answer is, that it applies to coal products. That ig quite clear.
– The purpose of the clause is to validate the collections that have been made under the excise tariff proposals that were introduced in this Parliament last November. In those proposals, there is a reference to the imposition of differential duties on the products of National Oil Proprietary Limited. In view of the statement that, for each gallon not exceeding 10,000,000 gallons produced in any one year commencing on the 1st duy of January the duty shall be 3d. a gallon, and for each gallon exceeding 10.000,000 gallons in each year commencing on the 1st day of January the duty shall be Sid. a gallon, it would appear that a differential duty of 5£d. a. gallon operates as soon as the production exceeds 10,000,000 gallons a year. I. should like to know whether the Minister has been good enough to obtain the information for which I asked before the suspension of the sitting, with a view to enabling the committee to have some idea of how this imposition of excise is affecting the production of oil from shale at Glen Davis. T am deeply concerned about this matter because, as the Minister will recall, I was severely critical of this project when it was first brought down by the Government. I have noted from the Auditor-General’s report that the Government’s commitment has increased from an initial amount of £334,000. To-day, the capital invested is £334,000, but there have been additional loans from ‘ the Commonwealth amounting to £2,246,000. The losses are rather staggering. This duty may be affecting the ability of the company to pay dividends. Up to date, the company has not paid a dividend. The committee should have before it information which would enable it to decide whether the rate of duty is affecting the ability of National Oil Proprietary Limited, as it is now called, to pay a dividend to its shareholders. The losses would not be so great were it not for the undisclosed amount of duty which the company is paying. Those losses have been : On the , first year’s operations in 1940, £1S0,000; in. 1941, £177,000; in 1942, £263,000; in 1943, £296,000; in 1944, £303,000; and in 1945, £343,000. One is . led to ask what is the effect of the differential duty upon the profit and loss account of National Oil Proprietary Limited. What strikes me most forcefully is that the annual loss becomes greater with every Wales. . I do not know whether the State increase of Government advance. The committee is at a great disadvantage in arriving at a decision,, because of a complete lack of information. The Minister has not been prepared to take us into his confidence, and tell us what is the annual rate of production -at Glen Davis, how much of its production is bearing an excise duty of 3d. a gallon and how much a duty of 8-Jd. a gallon, either during his second-reading speech, or on that other famous occasion last November to which he has referred in such forceful terms in reply to the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen). If the committee had that information, it would be in a position to arrive at a decision. This is not the end of the Commonwealth’s commitments. The Auditor-General has shown that the Commonwealth Bank loaned the company £250,000. The Commonwealth Government must have repaid that- amount to the Commonwealth Bank at some time in 1944. It would appear that the Commonwealth Bank considered that the duty imposed was a little too “ hot “, and that the security was not, sufficiently . good. Therefore, the Commonwealth Bank came to the conclusion that the financial “baby” had better be carried by the Commonwealth Government rather than by itself. That is another important point. The Auditor-General has stated that the loans advanced by the Commonwealth for the purpose of this undertaking amounted to £3,091,000 at the 30th June, 1946. Since then, the company has had another advance of £325,229, and a. bank guarantee of £100,000; with what bank has not been stated. It is estimated that a further amount of £250,000 will be necessary to finance the undertaking to the stage of production. An advance of this amount was approved by Cabinet in June, 1946, and £200,000 of it had been paid to the company when this report was being compiled. Interest accrued, but unpaid from the 1st January, 1942, to the 30th June, 1946, on advances made by the Commonwealth, amounted to £287,000 a year, in addition to those duties that are due to the Commonwealth, which are very definitely affected by the amount of excise which the company will have to pay on whatever the production may be. There is also the interest that is due to the State, of New South is receiving that interest or not. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) might have been able to enlighten us, but for the fact that he has been out of office there for a considerable time. I have noticed that he has seemed a little diffident in finding his way about in this rather peaceful place, having come from the more stormy atmosphere of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. The point that. I want to arrive at is, whether the Minister will make a statement before the passage of this validating measure or, in the event of the Government once again using its brutal majority to push it through the committee, whether he will salve our wounded feelings to the extent of undertaking that, in due course, lie will make a. statement to the House showing very clearly the production, and the commitments and projected commitments of the Commonwealth in respect of National Oil. Proprietary Limited. I am most anxious to have the figures relating to production, because, when the legislation went through the Parliament originally, I was one who severely criticized it, and said that, if we had to rely on Glen Davis, as it was then called, to provide crude oil for the Australian
Navy, our naval vessels would never go to sea. .F should be very interested to learn the extent to which the production of National Oil Proprietary Limited enabled the Australian Commonwealth to keep going during the last war.
.- Clause 3 is the operative clause of the bill. Its purpose is to validate the collections that have been made under the excise tariff proposals, and to perpetuate until there is further legislation the collection of excise at the rates fixed. At the second-reading stage, I made clear a point which I shall now repeat, namely, that I support the proposed reduction of excise duty. Unfortunately, I cannot move an amendment which would have the effect of increasing the amount of the proposed reduction. At the second-reading stage I also made it clear that if I had any criticism to offer it was that the reduction was- not sufficient. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) misrepresented me when he said that I was opposed to the reduction.
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– If the Minister maintains that he did not say anything of the sort, I accept his assurance. But that is what I thought I heard him say, and that is what all my colleagues who sit behind me also understood him to say.
– They are just as stupid as is the honorable member.
– Every one of them confirms my belief.
– Yes, the Minister said that.
– The Minister chatters so much that he can scarcely be expected to remember what he said. I am not concerned with that, but I want to make my position- clear. I support the reduction, and I criticized it only on the ground that it was not large enough.
My general criticism of the measure arose from the fact that the explanation given by the Minister was inadequate. The Minister has again addressed himself to the subject, but he has left us still substantially uninformed. I shall not persist in a hopeless effort to obtain full information, but I wish to ask the Minister a question about one matter which concerns my constituency perhaps more than any other - What is the excise duty on benzol? It appears in the schedule under the general classification of coal tar and coke distillates. Most of the tobacco produced in Australia is grown in my electorate. Some years ago, the industry was’ almost wiped out by a. disease known as blue mould, which attacked the plants as seedlings. Due to the magnificent work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, under Dr. Angel, it was discovered that seedlings could be raised by growing them in an enclosed place containing trays of benzol. This research was carried out, not during the regime of the present Government, but under that of the Lyons Government, which established a special fund for the purpose. If benzol were not available it would be impossible to continue the tobacco-growing industry, a statement with which all tobaccogrowers, in Victoria at any rate, will agree. I do not know what the position in regard to blue mould is in tropical districts.
– The position is the same in the north.
– Then it is the same all over Australia. It follows that if the industry would be wiped out through benzol being unobtainable, its existence could he seriously threatened if benzol became too expensive. I am being invited to vote for this measure, and I ask the Minister in charge of the hill what is the excise duty on benzol? He is now going off to make an inquiry of some one else, showing that he has come hero in charge of this bill without knowing much about it. According to the schedule, the duty could be 3d. a gallon or 4-J-d. a gallon, or there could be no duty at all.
.- There is no desire to hide ‘from Parliament any particulars regarding the operation of National Oil Proprietary Limited. Honorable members are aware that this enterprise was embarked upon during the term of office of the Lyons Government, the idea being to produce from shale petrol that might be available in case of emergency. I have no quarrel with the original objective. I was not in Parliament at the time; but I was always very doubtful of the prospects of success, even, though the Newnes shale deposits happened to be in the electorate which I hoped to represent. The technical advice submitted in tlo; first place was apparently very bad. As a result of this advice, retorts of a kind used in Scotland and Czechoslovakia were installed, but at Glen Davis they did not produce the expected results. Newnes shale has a very high oil content,- and the retorts at first used were not capable of recovering much more than half , of it. Mr. Keith Buller, manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited in Newcastle, is chairman of directors of National Oil Proprietary Limited, and he has great faith in the ultimate success of the enterprise. He is giving his services absolutely free in this capacity, not even drawing expenses, and he has been able to give valuable advice on the technical side. His confidence in the undertaking is so great that the Government is prepared to continue its support, in the hope that this confidence will be justified. I do not believe that all the capita] which has been put into the project can be recovered, but if a reasonable amount is written off it might be economically successful. As Treasurer, I should have liked to make a statement to Parliament setting out the financial position, but I have been asked by those associated with it to let the matter stand over until they can prove that the reorganization now being effected is capable of producing results. I am responsible for the Commonwealth money being used, but, as Mr. Butler is so confident of ultimate success, we are prepared to give him an opportunity to justify his confidence.
– What is the annual production?
– It is estimated at. 10,000,000 gallons a year. I repeat that there is no desire on the part of the Government to conceal anything, and I am not withholding a statement because the enterprise is situated in my electorate. .1 believe that the experiments now proceeding will be successful.
– How long will those experiments take?
– I understand that the production of oil per ton of shale has already improved greatly. With the old retorts it was approximately 50 gallons a ton, whereas it had originally been hoped to recover between 90 and 95 gallons a ton. The new retorts, I believe, are recovering about 80 gallons a ton. A full statement regarding the enterprise will be made in due course.
.- I am grateful for the explanation offered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). As a Minister of the Government which was in office in 1941, I remember that we were very much concerned over the losses being sustained in this venture. It was originally proposed that the deposit? should be worked by a private company, which would receive assistance from the Government of New South Wales and the Commonwealth Government. The company contributed £166,000, the Government of New South Wales a similar amount, and the Commonwealth Government £334,000. However, as time went on, the company more or less disappeared from the picture been use it found that its finances did not permit it to carry, on. The Com mon wealth, being committed t,o the project, waa compelled to go on, particularly as war had broken out, and it was necessary to get petrol at any cost. In 1937-3S the Commonwealth Govern- ment advanced £334,000; at the present time, its total contribution to the enterprise amounts to £2.500.000. The Prime Minister said he was hopeful that, as a result of receiving new technical advice, and in-tailing new retorts, some success would be achieved. That was the story told us in 1941. It was then said, “ Only give us time. The original company made a great mistake in installing obsolete retorts, which were uneconomic in the production of shale oil. Let us get new retorts from the United States of America. W the Commonwealth will only put in a little more money, we will make good.” That, was in .1942. Since then the losses have been as follows: -
Those are the Auditor-General’s figures, and they show that every year the loss has been increasing. The Treasurer is the custodian of the taxpayers’ money, and I should like to know how m Tic:h patience ho has in the expenditure of that money on an enterprise which is not giving a fair return. I realize the immense difficulty of making a decision in a case like this, but there must, be some point beyond which the Government will not continue to advance money for unproductive work. The old story of the retorts being obsolete has had a fair trial. I. hope that the Prime Minister, who has close personal knowledge of the Glen Davis project, will inform the House of the latest costs, because the figures supplied in the Auditor-General’s report bring us up to 1945 only. We do not know what, losses were incurred last year or this year, or whether the company has yet turned the corner towards success. Honorable members are entitled to up to date information on these matters. The Minister might also furnish figures relating to production.
– I shall do so.
– Tt is more or le.-s a formality to impose an excise duty im the product of the company and at the same time recoup it for its losses. Excise of 3d. a gallon levied on 10,000,0011 gallons produces a ‘ revenue of £125,00(1. an amount less than one-half the loss sustained by the company in one year. The excise charge is merely a bookkeeping entry which, as far as. excise revenue is concerned is misleading. The Treasurer should look into thu matter with a view to relieving the company of the excise charge until such time as the venture becomes a profitable undertaking.
Mr. POLLARD (Ballarat- Minister for Commerce .and Agriculture [9.32] . - The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) requested information concerning the production of oil from shale a,nd other aspects of”, the great undertaking at Glen Davis. The Labour Administration first took office in 1941 and cannot be held responsible for the situation that existed prior to that year. The company’s figures show that for 1.94.1.-42 the quantity of oil produced from shale was 1,769,000 gu 1 1 on s . a n d 1 1 1 a t th e re venn e. collected thereon in the form of excise was £29.483. In 1.942-43, under the direction of a Labour government the output was so improved as to read a total of 2,142,’l.Sl gallons, the yield of revenue in the form of excise amounting to £35,09S. By 1943-44 there was a’ substantial drop in. production, due to lack of man-power and the fact that we were then in the most critical stage of the war, and also, no doubt, to some deterioration of the plant. In that year production dropped to 1,322,000 gallons, and the revenue from excise to £22,000. In 1944-45 production improved slightly, the output being 1.492.000 gallons, the excise being £24,000.’ In 1945-46 due to the factors referred to by the Prime Minister to-night, and no doubt to the very efficient management supplied gratis by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and to improved plant and better methods of operation, the output increased to 2.032,000 gallons and the excise to £34,000. It may appear strange, as the honorable member for Richmond has said, that, notwithstanding that the losses incurred by the company are still being met by the Government, excise duty is still imposed on the company’s products. That is possibly due to the fact that some machinery has to be established for the collection of the excise from the consuming public. That is a matter for the financial wizards of the Treasury and the Department of Trade and Cus-toms to work out. If excise duty were not imposed it would be difficult to collect the full price from the consuming public. Another factor which must be borne in mind is that a small quantity of oil from shale is produced elsewhere than at Glen Davis.
The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) very pertinently asked what these proposals meant in relation to benzol which is used by tobacco-growers in various parts of Australia, particularly in his own electorate. Like the honorable member for Indi, I have always been very interested in the welfare of” the tobacco-growers and it has been my constant aim to do every thing possible to assist them. The use of benzol for the prevention of diseases that attack the tobacco plant is a new development and the bill proposes ‘ a reduction of Id a gallon in respect of excise duty levied on benzol used for that purpose.
– I was interested to hear the Minister (Mr. Pollard) point with pride to the advances made by the Glen Davis project under the sympathetic administration of Labour Governments. The honorable gentleman failed, however, to relate the true financial results of that venture. According to the AuditorGeneral’s report, in the year 1941, before a Labour Government became responsible for the undertaking the loss sustained was £177,219. In 1942, after Labour had assumed office, the loss increased to £263,123; in 1943 to £296,981; in 1944 to- £303,788 ; and in 1945 to £342,055. The results for 1945 arc the latest available figures. I draw specific attention to the comments made on this venture by the Auditor-General. In his report for 1945- 46 the Auditor-General said. -
Between. 1st January and 30th June, 1940, the Commonwealth advanced amounts totalling £185.918, increasing the amount of Commonwealth funds advanced for the purposes of this undertaking to £3,091,735. This amount includes £325,22!) for the Fish River Water Scheme, and £150,000 for working expenses, but does not include a bank guarantee of £100,000 also for working expenses, it was estimated that a further amount of £250,000 was necessary to finance the undertaking to the stage of production. An advance of this amount was approved by Cabinet in June, 194(i. £200,000 of which had been paid to the Company when this report was being compiled.
Interest accrued but unpaid from 1st January, 1942, to 30th June, 1.940, on advances made by the Commonwealth amounted to £2S7,009.
So, in addition to the losses I have outlined, there is an accumulated loss of £2S7,069 in respect of unpaid interest. When the Minister points with pride to the increase of the output of this venture, he also should say that it has resulted in great financial loss to the taxpayers and the nation.
– This measure has relation to the excise on oil from shale processed at Glen Davis. When, in 1937, the National Oil Proprietary Limited Agreement Bill was introduced into this House by a former Minister for Defence, Sir Archdale Parkhill, the honorable gentleman in glowing terms predicted a very bright future .for the venture, stressing the great advantages it would confer upon the nation. I believe that the only honorable member supporting the government of the day who opposed the measure was the present honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), and he offered trenchant criticism of the proposal. In introducing the measure, Sir Archdale Parkhill paid a great tribute to the former honorable member for Macquarie, Mr. John Lawson, for the important part he had played in the negotiations which led up to the establishment of this industry. It is true that the venture has not measured up to the high hopes held by the government responsible for it. What does the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) suggest should be done about it?
– That is not the point. I object to the Minister merely telling half truths about the undertaking.
– It is easy to be critical. I remind the right honorable gentleman that he was a member of the Government responsible for the establishment of the undertaking and that its management has not changed during the period that Labour governments have been in office Though we are searching assiduously for flow oil in this country, 1 believe that we shall have to depend to a great degree on oil from shale to meet a portion of our future requirements. It is too early yet to form an opinion as to whether flow oil will be discovered in sufficient quantities to meet our needs. Up to date the prospects of obtaining oil from that source are not hopeful. Shale is to be found in ‘fairly substantial quantities, not only at Glen Davis, but also at Latrobe, in the electorate of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). The deposits at Latrobe are said to show a high oil content. Expenditure on the production of oil from shale during the war years, when oil was so badly needed in Australia, may have been costly, but the war-time experiment has been of great value in showing us bow best we can produce oil from shale in the future. I rose to make that point. I should like the Leader of the Australian Country party to say what he would have done. Would he have cut the loss and closed Glen Davis and ceased investigations? Would he have said that the undertaking cost the taxpayers too much? I think so. That has been the policy of the Opposition parties for years. They have never persisted in investigations in any field. They cannot deny that they established the Glen Davis project. This Government was clothed with’ the responsibility of pursuing investigations there. I hope we shall lie able to continue them, for I believe that ultimately they will be fruitful.
.- The discussion has centred on shale oil at Glen Davis. I rise to correct the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) about how the Glen Davis project was established. It was established purely as a defence measure. I know, as a member of the Cabinet at that time, that it was never expected to be economical. Development was delayed for years. The proposal to re-oven it was brought down by the then Minister for Defence, not by the Minister for Commerce, because it was n defence measure. It. is certainly not in the same category as the Labour Government’s distilling of power alcohol from wheat. That was a criminal thing to do in a world starving for food. The petrol from Glen Davis is produced from shale of which there is an abundance. It was intended to be used if our supplies from overseas were cut off. It was valuable in that it did produce some petrol whereas wheat: did not produce any.
– It did.
– A pint or two ; but the Warracknabeal distillery did not produce any.
– Order !
– Yes, Mr. Chairman, 1 will not go into that any further. Ministers know the facts. Mr. Davis, a subscriber to the capital of the company, made his investment largely out of patriotism. I remember the correspondence. He did not expect to make any money out of it. Anyway, the Glen Davis project must be regarded as a war measure. We hope that wars are finished, but we suspect not. The question is whether it is worth preserving as a defence auxiliary. If we still think that we are in danger, as we well may be, there are three courses to consider. One is to discontinue operations and keep the plant in good repair for use in an emergency. If employment is a factor and it is considered that to close down the plant would create unemployment, other measures must be examined or operations may continue but it is ridiculous to levy excise on petrol produced at Glen Davis and it must be lifted.
Confusion has existed on this bill. One would think from the discussion that it was brought down to validate an agreement on the enterprise at Glen Davis. It is nothing of the kind. That is incidental. It is a bill to validate the collection of excise. An act of the Lyons Government included an amendment moved by a member of the Australian Country party and accepted by the then Government, although it had the necessary numbers to reject it, to ensure that schedules of customs and excise must be ‘ considered by the Parliament within six months of being tabled. We agreed to the propriety of a provision designed to ensure a full debate of all tariff items in a schedule. Clause 3 of the bill provides -
All duties of Excise demandedor collected (whether before orafter the commencement of this Act) pursuant tothe Excise Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of ‘Representatives on the fourteenth day of November.. One thousand nine hundred and forty-six, shall be deemed to have been lawfully imposed and lawfully demanded or collected.
The excise tariff proposals introduced on the 14th November last cover commodities other than petrol and oils for instance, batteries. At that tune the Minister made a composite speech dealing with various import and export subjects. The Government is using this validation bill as a device toevade its responsibility under the Customs Act in respect of Parliamentary approval.
– Did the previous Government provide an opportunity for debate? ,
– We always did, unless the pressure of work was too great, in which case the items were debated soon after validation. This Government has been in office for years, but in that time, we have never debated a customs or excise schedule. The tariff needs revision. L defy any Minister or customs official to say that customs and excise imposts are right. There are multifarious items on which customs and excise have been collected without parliamentary authority. Thisbill and the bill that preceded it validates those collections. Millions of pounds is involved. If an item were not validated the Government would be liable to heavy refunds to the payers of the duty. I hope that this debate has taught the Government a. lesson and that it will heed our protests and promise that future tariff proposals will be discussed within a reasonable period.
. -The Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs told the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) that excise was levied on benzol. The Minister expressed sympathy with the tobacco industry, and his readiness to help it to the best of his ability. I request him to help it by exempting by means of a customs by-law benzol used in the tobacco industry.
Mr.Pollard. - It is free of duty.
– I understand that, when the duty on benzol, was reduced by1d. a gallon, benzol used by the tobacco industry was still subject to the duty of 8½d. a gallon.
– I am sorry if I have given the wrong impression or if the honorable member has misunderstood me. Benzol used in the tobacco industry is free.
– I. thank the Minister,but I believe thathe created a w rongimpression .
– Iwas called away to a trunkline telephone call when the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. (Mr. Pollard) spoke, but I was great interested in the promise of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) tomake a statement on the Glen Davis project. The only other point that concerns me is that The Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited distills petrol from crude oil imported into Australia and. is possibly liable to paragraph 11a, which reads -
Petroleum or Shale Products, viz.: - Petrol, Benzine,Benzoline, Gasoline, Naphtha, Pentane and any other petroleum or shale spirit, havinga flash point of under 73 degrees Fahrenheit, when tested in an Abel Pensky closedtest apparatus-
That sounds like Russian to me. If The Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited petrol is subject to excise, the position disclosed in the statement about the finances of the undertakingby the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride) in an excellent speech last week is worsened. I dealt with the same matter after the last general elections. That company is making enormous profits.If those profits are made after the contribution of 3d. and. in some cases, 8½d. a gallon excise on petrol, the position is all the more staggering. When the Prime Minister makes his statement I hope he will also take honorable members into his confidence as to the extent to which The Commonwealth OilRefineries Limited contributes excise before making its enormous profit of nearly 20s. in the £1 on the capital invested. That would be of great interest to honorable members and people, particularly those in the transport industry.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 27th March (vide page 1264), on motion by Mr. chifley -
That the bill be now read a second time
.- The somewhat dreary atmosphere of the House scorns rather appropriate for me to embark upon the gloomy responsibility that devolves upon us from time to time to examine the Income Tax Assessment Act. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley). in moving the second reading of the Income Tax Assessment Bill, suggested that he was conferring substantial concessions by way of income tax reductions upon the community. Because we have just concluded a debate on the financial statement of the Treasurer, it is not necessary for me to cover with the same minuteness the general question of the income tax as I might otherwise have done. The Leader of the. Opposition (Mr.Menzies) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) and many other speakers debated all aspects of the Government’s financial policy. There is good reason for not going into too much detail on the second reading of this bill, because the memorandum circulated amongst us contains about 100 pages explaining the amendments to be made to the principal act. Consequently, we shall have a heavy discussion in committee when we deal, with the detailed amendments. The bill sets out primarily to give effect to the aspects of the Treasurer’s financial statement dealing with income tax. We have been led to believe by the Treasurer that the proposed income tax concessions for next year will amount to £34,000,000 and will bring the income tax remissions since the end of hostilities to £71,000,000 a year. I propose to examine that claim in a moment, but, first, I will examine the circumstances in which these concessions are being offered. During the last general election campaign the right honorable gentleman said in criticism of the Opposition policy that the tax concessions provided for in it could not be made. The Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Country party said that they could be made at that time with advantage to the community and without damage to the economy. That submission has been clearly supported by events and the financial experience of the Government since then. So, in order to get over any difficulty which might present itself when he relates what he said then to present-day conditions, the Prime Minister says that these tilings are now possible because of the period of prosperity through which the Commonwealth is passing. It is one of the tragedies of our administration at present, that this Government insists on thinking in financial terms, and not in realistic terms, which are not necessarily represented by figures. What are the real tests of the prosperity of a country? Surely, the real test is its capacity to provide a rising standard of goods and services, adequate housing and clothing, ample food for its people,’ and security of employment. It is quite true that we in. Australia have a condition of full employment, because any one who really looks for a job can obtain’ one. In financial terms, the country is “ ticking over” with a. national income of about £1,200,000,000.
– More than that!
– If the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) will supply the exact figure, I shall be obliged to him. However, £1,200,000,000 is approximately the figure which I have had in recent times from those who are in a position to give the information. If we examine the real situation of the Commonwealth, we shall find that we are experiencing shortages of housing on an unprecedented scale and that there are other shortages which become almost inexplicable, on the Government’s own argument, when it tells us that since the end of the war some hundreds’ of thousands of men and women have come back into civil production. So, if we apply the test of realism to the claim of prosperity, it is obvious that the claim must fail. Therefore, I suggest that Ave apply a similar test of genuineness to the Government’s claim that it is now making the substantial concessions of tax that the Prime Minister has indicated.
The right honorable gentleman is a remarkable man - a financial wizard. He reminds me of a celebrated juggler who was able to keep eight balls in the air at the one time. The right honorable gentleman keeps about eight taxes in operation at the one time. Directing our attention to one of the taxes, he says that he has substantially reduced it, and hopes that by a rapid movement of the remaining ones he will distract our attention from the fact that we are bearing heavier imposts in other taxes. I put it to the House that the real test of whether these concessions have been made in the time that the Prime Minister claims is to ask ourselves, “ What is the quantum of taxes still being collected by the Commonwealth Government, and what number of taxpayers are represented by that quantum ? “ I propose to go back to the end of hostilities, which is the period to which the Prime Minister referred. Our population has not changed substantially since then, and we can take it, foi- the purposes of this argument, as being a static figure. In 1944-45, just before the end of hostilities, the actual collections from income tax and indirect taxes amounted to £345,000,000. fu the following year, 1945-46, although we were given various tax concessions, the estimated’ collection of £343,000,000 proved, in the result, to be £358,000,000. In 1946-47, again despite these tax concessions, which were to give much relief to the people, the estimated collection was £348,000,000; but we know that, on the Government’s own figures at the end of nine months of the financial year, the estimate will be greatly exceeded.
Therefore, let us test the claim of the Treasurer that remissions of taxes, amounting to £71,000,000, will have been granted, against the collection of £345,000,000 at the conclusion of hostilities. The remissions of £34,000,Q00 which the Treasurer now 251’°POS(3S to make will give, on his claim, a total of £71,000.000. That leaves tax remissions of £37,000,000 that he claims he has already given to the people. So, if we take the £37,000,000 from the £345,000,000, which was. the figure at the conclusion of hostilities, it is reasonable to suppose that we are paying £308,000,000 in taxes to-day; However, I remind the House again that the Government, on its own admission, estimated that it would collect £348,000,000, or £40,000,000 more than the figure which should be collected if the remissions are genuine. In the result, it will collect very much more. Quite obviously, what is happening is that, as the Treasurer reduces the rate of income tax, but retains heavy indirect taxes such as sales tax, excise, customs and pay-roll tax, he is more than able to recover his losses. The real test is: How much is the Commonwealth taxpayer paying to-day compared with what he had to pay during the war? The remarkable thing is that a government which claims to have given substantial tax relief is to-day collecting from taxes as much as, if not more than, it was during the war.
– We have achieved that reduction.
– Again the right honorable gentleman is trying his powers of mesmerism. He juggles his figures very rapidly. Now we see them, now we do not. They are here, they are gone. He makes a reduction of one tax and invites us to watch it closely. While we are doing that an increase is made elsewhere–not an increase of the rate of tax, I admit, but an increase in quantum. After all, if we are dealing with the same number of people and are getting, broadly speaking, the same quantum of tax from them, how in the name of- all that is holy can we claim that we have reduced taxes? The realistic test which the country must apply is: What do we still pay? Last night the Treasurer, in replying to the debate on the financial statement, dealt with the claim which I have made that Australia- ,
– Order ! The honorable member will not be in order in referring to a debate which has concluded.
– This matter is directly linked with this bill. I claimed that Australia i3 the heaviest taxed country in the world. Last night the Treasurer undertook to supply a table of figures refuting thai, statement. .[ regret that wo have not that information, before us now, because I shall’ be interested to see whether that tabic includes not merely income tax but also indirect taxes. Last year, on the figures which Hie Government .supplied as its estimate of tax receipts, out of a total of £34S,000,000, an amount of £120,000,000 was to be collected from indirect taxes. If the Government reduces income tax consumers will have additional money to expend on goods, thus increasing collections from talcs tax. excise and customs. That has been the experience of the Government in recent months. When the Treasurer supplies the- table I. suggest to him that he should not merely show the rates of tax in Great Britain. I agree with bini that taxes are very heavy in that country. At this distance I do not presume to criticize the domestic policy of the United Kingdom Government; but I am not prepared to accept as a guide for proper governmental policy in Australia what the Socialist Government in Great Britain is doing to the people of that country. I should like the Prime Minister to inform us how our rates of tax - and in rates of tax I include not only rates of income tax - compare with the taxes per head of the population in the United States of America, Canada, South Africa, and even New Zealand. I believe that it will be found that rates of tax in those countries are very much lower than they are in Australia.
Earlier this evening, the. Treasurer said, o” another matter, that he would like to be fair to every one. He has been thoroughly unfair to Australian taxpayers in the manner in which he has allocated these remissions of income tax. To establish this particular point, I bring to the notice of the House the proportion of the national income which is still coming into the hands of the Government by way of revenue collections. If my overall figure, of £1,200,000.000 for the national income is roughly correct, then it is also broadly true to say that the Government is now collecting approximately one-third of the total national income. We do not have to think very deeply in order t… appreciate what sort of. a burden that, is for any producing economy to carry. In reducing taxes, the T rea surer has seen fit to remove a substantial burden of the tax from a very large proportion of the Australian public. That has much to commend it. One can make a powerful argument in terms of social justice in favour of reducing taxes on the lower incomes to an absolute minimum, if not to vanishing point. That is not merely a matter which gives rise to a powerful argument; it can also bt. politically very popular. By the same token, it can be economically unsound if it is carried to such a point that the burden of taxes remaining on the rest of the taxpayers is such that thenceforth the. community does not give the production of which it is capable. That can easily happen. The goose that is laying the golden eggs might, lose its appetite for the task; and those with the job of carrying production for the rest of the community might find that the task has become too onerous. Then the total volume of production, might decline. No government can consider that it has handled this problem successfully if it. keeps production at the same level. In a country which is developing, as Australia is, we should be able to point to a steadily rising volume of production, a steady growth, of the national .income, and, in consequence, a progressive improvement of pur standards of living. Because I have found repeatedly a complete failure on the part of honorable members opposite to realize just what the impact of this tax burden can mean to the small business, or small country property-holder, I suggest that it would be a very good thing if every honorable member upon his election, to this Parliament were given his three years’ salary in advance and compelled to invest it in either a business or a property. If he did so, I am . certain that he would realize just what the impact of excessive tax rates can mean to the development - of the small business or property in which he invested his money. Every business which is carried on in the Commonwealth is a gold mine for the Commonwealth Government, whether it lie successful or not in the long run. or whether it returns reasonable profits to those whose money is invested in it. 1 shall comment briefly upon the experience of a small business. First, it has to pay tax on the pay-roll of its employees. The employees themselves pay tax on the wages theydraw from the business, if the business purchases capital goods in order to continue in production it pays sales tax on those goods. All petrol used in the conduct of the business, and every telephone call that is made, or every stamp bought in the business, yields additional revenue to the Commonwealth. And when the goods themselves are manufactured and purchased by the genera! public, the sales tax paid on those goods further helps to swell the revenues of the Government. Finally, if after having contributed all this to the coffers of the Treasury, some profit remains to those who have invested their money and put their work into the business, the Government steps in again and levies further tax on those profits. That, of course, is not something I attack as a point of criticism; I am merely trying to impress upon the Government and its supporters the need to encourage all industry great or small, primary or secondary. Every industry conducted in this country, and every property from which production proceeds, is a source of revenue and wealthto the people of Australia. If the Government is going to ask a steadily diminishing number of taxpayers - because the Government is removinga great body of the wage-earners from the income tax field - to carry indefinitely a burden of tax which was imposed under the emergency conditions of war, we shall not obtain that development in Australia which we would otherwise achieve. All of us appreciate the fact that customarily money expended by governments is not expended with the same advantage as money expended by the private individual; and when the Government collects approximately one-third of our total national income, it means that, there is that much money less available to the community for the development that would normally take place if investments could be made by those with whom the funds would otherwise be left.I mention that point because our wartime experience in respect of taxation, what we believed to be the emergency policy of governments of those days, has quite clearly, under this measure, become the settled policy of the present Government. Those on the lower ranges of income should get what they are justly entitled to from our economy. But quite frequently there is loose thinking on the part of Government supporters on this matter. They seem to think that because persons earn good incomes on paper they are to be shot at for taxes,whereas the effect of harshly taxing such incomesso often retards some Australian industry which would be capable of giving additional employment and helping to improve the standard of living of the community. By way of contrast on this matter I direct the attention of honorable members to the experience of the United States of America and Soviet Russia. In the United States of America., where tax rates prior to the war were comparatively light, we witnessed the most remarkable industrial development in the history of any country, and associated with that development was a steady rise in the standard of living of the American people; whilst in Soviet Russia to-day, on the best evidence that a wide field of reading can produce, the standard of living of citizens in that country, which is a completely socialistic state, is very much inferior to that in countries which still rely upon private enterprise for their development.
I emphasize that the capacityofthe Government to reduce taxes is not only affected by the reduction of government activities in various directions; it can also be affected by the economy with which money collected by the Government is expended. I have said before, and I believe that this view is shared by many honorable members, that we have surrendered far too much supervision of finance by the Parliament to the Government. 1 am at a loss to know why the Treasurer refuses to give to the Parliament an all-party committee such: as was recommended to him by the retiring War Expenditure Committee which would be able to scrutinize public expenditures. If the Government believes that these expenditures are being made to the best advantage, what has it to fear by removing the misgivings and concern of private members on that score? We believe that much of the Government’s expenditure is wasteful. We believe that there is much departmental activity today which is simply a carry-over from i he war years, redundant and bureaucratic activities which have no place in a peace-time administration. I claim rh. at only through an all-party parliamentary committee on public expenditure shall we be able to supervise Government, expenditure to thu degree that is desirable. Therefore, I again ask the Prime Minister to consider that request, which was made to bini, not only by members of the Opposition, but also by honorable members opposite who were formerly members of the War Expenditure Committee, and which they believe proved its usefulness by being able to apply a brake on extravagant expenditure, and even by its very existence acted as a curb upon reckless and unwarranted departmental expenditure. It is commentary not merely on the apathy of the Government, but also on the aapathy and lethargy of the Parliament as a whole that honorable mem hers have not. insisted upon the appointment of suc.li a body.
Finally, I wish to deal with the simplification oof our taxation legislation. I know that all governments set themselves the goal of simplifying the taxation law, so that not. only the Parliament but also private citizens can understand it. I read during this week that in France recently a. man. who had wrestled with his income tax return for three weeks had hanged himself. I am sure that many of us have often felt like doing that when we have had to wrestle with the returns that we are required to make periodically, and the tax assessments that we receive. If that is the situation in connexion with the filling in of returns and the study of tax assessments, what situation is caused by the mass of tax law that is now embodied in our Income Tax Assessment Act? Although this is merely an amending bill, the explanatory memorandum in connexion with it consists of 100 pages. Wc have placed before us a bill of somewhat similar proportions almost every year. Speaking frankly, as one who has had some training in the law and some experience in this Parliament, I have not begun to understand one-tenth of what is contained in our Income Tax Assessment Act. If that is true of me, it is also true of most honorable members, and certainly of 999 of every 1,00.0 members of the community generally. So, as wwe- have passed through the emergency period of the war and can reflect on some of the problems that were then created, I ask the Government to give real consideration to the simplification of our tax laws. Many amendments are proposed by the bill, and other desirable alterations have doubtless been brought to the notice of all members of the Parliament by interested organizations and parties. I. shall not, refer to them at this point, because T. oan do so at the committee stage nf the hill. But I do put it finally to the Prime Minister and his colleagues, that they cannot expect to maintain a healthy national economy if they continue indefinitely a burden of tax collection which represents one-third of the national, income. No country, particularly one that has an ageing population and vast resources to develop, could hope to carry on with such a burden and provide the reasonable standard of living which can be given if development is allowed to proceed as it should. We have to get out, of our minds the matter of political expediency and get into our minds a realization of what is sound for the economy of this country, not merely that which is popular with the electors at any given time. If that be done, not merely will a greater measure of justice be meted out to all sections of the community, but in addition Australia will advance as it should.
.- .My remarks will be devoted principally, not to the bill itself, but to the resolution on which it is founded. I invite honorable members to study that resolution. At one time, our tax law embodied the sound principle that he who pays tax should be able to work out his own assessment. To the present-day income tax experts, that has become an old-fashioned idea. The position has now been reached at which even the experts have lost themselves in the maze which they have created. The act, its various interpretations, and the rulings upon it, have become so complicated that no two tax assessors are likely to arrive at the same conclusions. We must depend more upon their interpretation, not of the act but of the interpretations of the act, and much more upon their ability to understand ddepartmental rulings” in respect of it. Because of the way in which the matter is handled to-day, a tax assessment lias become a kind of lottery. Identical returns by two different taxpayers with l bc same amount of earnings in the same industry, and with the same claims for exemption, produce two different assessments. The returns are alike in everyway, but when the assessments arrive they are entirely different. The average taxpayer has given up attempting to work out what bc ought to pay. Until this new school of tax experts undertook the work of the taxpayer, each individual made out his own tax return aand knew what his assessment would be. When he had lodged his return, he knew to the penny what he would have to pay. His exemptions were fixed. He deducted from those his gross income, and. the calculation of the amount which he had to pay was a matter of simple arithmetic. It has now reached the realms of higher mathematics. It is about as easy to understand the theory governing atomic energy as it is to understand the tax tables. Even when the mathematician has finished his calculations, there is the unknown factor - the Commissioner’s discretion. [Quorum formed.’) The Commissioner has discretion over everything, no matter what the law may be.
Instead of introducing this measure which, no doubt, will make confusion the more confounded, the Treasurer would have been much better advised to have brought in a bill simplifying taxation procedure. Surely it is possible to reduce the amount of tax payable to a matter of simple .calculation. The present practice is to regard every taxpayer as a potential crook, so taxation law has been devised to close every possible loophole against evasion. But what has been the net result? The big tax evader has been able to find plenty of methods to outwit the experts; but the majority of taxpayers, honest, conscientious, and anxious to meet their just commitments, need no such refuge. Under the present system, they have no way of knowing what their commitments will be. So they are all placed in the position of being probable law-breakers. How many members of this House could. work out their own tax assessments bv applying the provisions of the resolution upon which this measure is founded ? Yet we are called upon to approve that resolution. The taxpayer is not even in the position of having the act or this bill before bini. I draw the attention of honorable members to paragraph a of the resolution, which states - (a) If the tH.val.ilc’ income floes not eexceed £1,000 the rate of tax for every £1 of taxable income up to and including £250 filial! lie nil and the rate of tax for every £1 of taxable income in excess of £250 shall be 25.032 pence increasing uniformly by .032 of one penny for every £] bv which the taxable income exceeds £251.
– - That, is not very difficult to understand.
– It is typical of this new departmental mum bo-jumbo. To arrive at the amount of tax to be paid it is then necessary to make separate calculations applying altogether different formulas to the exemptions and concessional rebates allowed. . Then there are these strange innovations - strange to me and to most, people who hear them. - called notional income and average income. Paragraph e of the resolution states -
That is part of the .proposals now before the House and on. which honorable members will have to vote. I have to admit that I have read the paragraph over and over again and cannot understand it.
– We all understood the ls. in the £1 unemployment tax that your Government imposed.
– When the honorable member came pleading’ to me to save him when the Moratorium legislation was introduced ?
– I have never pleaded te the honorable member in my life.
– Had the. Moratorium legislation not been passed the honorable member’s business in Tumut would have gone.
– The honorable member was going to abolish Bavin’s 3d., but be increased it to ls.
– If the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) has finished interjecting, I shall proceed. This House will shortly have fro vote on the taxation proposals that I have quoted, and of course they will become law; but I still say to honorable members, in. a friendly way of course, that an effort should be made to introduce some reforms. That criticism is not aimed at the Government but at the officials who are responsible for these things - the men who make governing and the task of members of Parliament difficult. How many people know what a “notional income” is? I do not know, let alone understand, how the tax on a “ notional income “ willbe w orked out. I have not heard of “ notional income and I doubt if any other honorable member has heard of it. How in the name of all that is good will this tax be worked out? The purpose of income tax legislation is surely not to produce a race of taxation experts, or to create mathematical wizards. In the past, it has always been believed that the purpose of such a measure is to raise revenue. So long as that purpose is realized and taxpayers are treated justly, taxation law should be as simple as possible, and that is what I am putting before the House. The stage has now been reached where the taxation law has become so complicated that the only way out appears to be an entirely new approach, and a new set of taxation principles. Every Treasurer knows how. much money he needs, and how much can be released in the various income groups by applying different scales of taxes. Should it not be possible to raise the revenue required by some simple formula ? If the Government’s present experts are unable or unwilling to understand this elementary necessity for a reform of our income tax laws, then this Parliament should undertake the task. A committee of members of this House should be able to provide a practical set of taxation rules that would provide as much revenue as the present complicated system. That is what I am asking should be done. The same amount of revenue would he raised, but it would be done by a simple system easily understood by the people who have to pay. It is now provided in the act that the odd pence in an assessment are to be ignored. If a man’s tax works out at £25 7s. 7d., he is required to pay to the nearest1s., yet, on the way to the final figure, it is necessary to make twenty or more involved calculations, some of them to three places of decimals, not of a1s. but of a1d. Then, when all that is over, the department wants the tax to be paid to the nearest1s. That example demonstrates better than anything else the need for clarification and simplification. This Government should again try to evolve a . system under which a taxpayer can work out. his own assessment, and know just how much he has to pay. While the Income Tax Assessment Act is in its present chaotic condition we shall always have to be tinkering with it. When one taxation formula is tested in the courts, and found not to produce the results desired, a new formula has to be substituted. The Government will be well advised to examine the whole position without calling in the experts. A taxpayer, under the present system, may employ a taxation expert, even one who has comefrom the Taxation Department itself, who will make out his return from books accurately kept, buthe will not be able to say what the assessment will be. That is wrong and unjust. The act should be simple, honest and straightforward. If it were simplified, as I suggest, it would prevent a lot of ill feeling which at present exists. Most people are prepared to pay their taxes, but they resent the hardship and inconvenience now associated with making returns.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fadden,) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) proposed-
That the House do now adjourn.
.- It is reported that the Taxation Department is about to take over two floors of Grace Building in York-street, Sydney. Early this week,I mentioned this matter in the
House, but .1. did not receive a reply. All returned soldier members of the Parliament are receiving, telegrams of protest against this proposed action, and I intend to read some which I have received. The following is from Mr. George Barry: -
Out-patients resent taxation department
Hiking accommodation intended Repatriation clinic Sydney.
Here is another from the Limbless Soldiers Association -
Strongly protest against suspension Repatriation Out-patients .Department Grace Building Sydney.
Still another telegram is as follows -
Desire protest Government’s cancellation Outpatients Department Grace Building Sydney.
There are many more, but those which 1. Iia ve read illustrate the urgency of the matter. I have been informed that the sales tax section of the Taxation Department proposes to take over certain doors of Grace Building. Because of its central position, this space could be very useful to the Repatriation Department. Apparently the out-patients’ clinic is to remain at Randwick. I do not know whether other honorable- members have been there, but I was in hospital at Randwick during the war and, although I cannot express an opinion upon it from a medical practitioner’s viewpoint, I gather that the clinic is out of date and unsatisfactory. That opinion has been expressed fairly generally by medical authorities. The establishment is a product of World War I. Grace Building is in the heart of the city. If the clinic were transferred to that location disabled j 1eli would not have to make the long journey to Randwick and would be saved considerable suffering and inconvenience. Specialists who now sacrifice time by travelling to and from Randwick would be able to devote more time each day to” the treatment of the men who need their help. The department already uses six floors in the Grace Building. The tenth and eleventh floors are the ones in question. Preliminary plans prepared by the department provide for an outpatients’ department, a doctors’ room, a treatment room, and a dispensary on the tenth floor. A specialists’ room, and an X-ray plant and other equipment could he provided on the eleventh floor. The establishment of these facilities in the heart of the city would be of inestimable benefit to disabled ex-servicemen. 1 ask the Government to treat this as a matter- of urgency. If the space in the Grace Building cannot be made available, it should secure equivalent accommodation for the repatriation services which I have mentioned in another central situation. Everybody agrees that disabled ex-servicemen deserve the greatest possible consideration. The best way in which we can serve them is to provide good equipment for them in an easily accessible position. I hope that the Government will review the situation and arrive at a decision which will be satisfactory to all ex-servicemen.
– I support the plea made by the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) on behalf of disabled ex-servicemen. I have no doubt that other honorable members received sheaves of telegrams from exservicemen who will be adversely affected by the proposed change in the plans of the Repatriation Department, caused by the demand of another department for office space in Grace Building. The area in question was reserved for the use of disabled ex-servicemen. Honorable members will recall that, when the Government first proposed to take over Grace Building, it met with a host of objections raised by commercial interests in Sydney. I was instrumental in arranging for deputations to wait upon various Ministers to ask that they should not be deprived of this space. The Government’s answer to them was that it proposed to take over Grace Building for a specific purpose, namely, the housing of the administrative sections of the Repatriation Department under one roof. The Government pointed to the need of the Repatriation Department to have a central office in Sydney. Ministers said that this would be of very great advantage to ex-servicemen. They made a feature of the fact that an out-patients’ clinic would be established in the building so as to avoid the necessity for limbless men and others requiring treatment to traipse long distances to the Repatriation Hospital at Randwick. They pointed out also that Grace Building was conveniently situated for medical officers. who would be able to give more time to the treatment of ex-servicemen. Over SOO ex-servicemen are attending outpatient clinics of the Repatriation Department already, and the number is steadily increasing. Honorable members will appreciate the difficulties experienced by these men when they have to travel considerable distances from the city and move from one place to another in order to receive treatment. The Government; now has an excellent opportunity to centralize the whole of the out-patient branches of the Repatriation Department in one clinic. Everybody interested in this matter expected that it would take advantage of the opportunity. However, a branch of the Taxation Department now proposes to take over the office space which ought to be reserved for the needs of disabled ex-servicemen. It appears that, if there is a clash of opinion between ex-servicemen’s interests and those nf some government department, the Government is prepared, in the main, to allow the ex-servicemen’s claims to go by the board. Apparently the rights and privileges of ex-servicemen aare, not very important in the eyes of the Government. lt is. not -surprising that we receive bundles of telegrams protesting against the proposal. Ex-servicemen’s organizations are protesting that their members will be inconvenienced to an extraordinary degree. . Men who have already had clinical treatment are vociferous in their appeals for our .assistance. They have had to tolerate a great deal of discomfort, and they have made many sacrifices and rendered valuable service to the community. I do not know what the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) thinks about this matter. In the past, Ministers for Repatriation have been “game” to stand up for the rights nf ex-servicemen against Cabinet opposition. Some of them were prepared even to resign their posts’ in the defence of the rights of ex-servicemen. The present Minister for Repatriation is entrusted with a very special duty. Apparently, some Ministers are prepared to overlook their obligation to ex-servicemen. Such Ministers, of course, have no personal knowledge of the difficulties experienced by ex-servicemen. They arc prepared.- when pressure is applied to them in Cabinet, to say : “ Yes, let the Repatriation Department be housed anywhere. “What does it matter if ex-servicemen suffer? They have fought for the country, but their period of service is over ; they are broken and maimed, and they can be of no further use to us. Let us push them into -o-me corner, no matter where, and we shall find some excuse for doing so”.
The Minister is charged with the definite and onerous duty of preserving the interests of ex-servicemen. His task is to make -sure that their needs are not neglected and to interpret the wishes of a grateful country with regard to ex-servicemen. If pressure has been brought to bear upon him by his Cabinet colleagues on behalf of some revenue-seeking department, his duty is to resist such pressure and to ensure that ex-servicemen secure the maximum amount of consideration that can be given to them on behalf of a very grateful community. The Government, which is supposed to represent the community, should bo no less grateful than are the people. It will be a standing disgrace to the Government if it refuses to yield to the pleas of those who ask that medical services of the Repatriation Department, be established at a central position in Sydney. If it fails to do as we ask. it will be revoking a definite undertaking by yielding to pressure exerted on behalf of a revenue department to the exclusion of the rights of disabled ex-servicemen, who will be forced to travel great distances at considerable inconvenience in order to secure clinical attention which is their right and which, in common justice, should he made readily available to them. Before public opinion becomes so overwhelming as to force the Minister to change his attitude on this matter, I ask him to take action to grant ex-servicemen the just treatment that is their due.
.- I wish to make a personal explanation. In the course of remarks made by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) when addressing this House to-night-
-Order ! Did the honorable member take part in the debate?
– No; he did not.
– The honorable member may make his remarks in . the form of a speech on the motion for the adjournment of the House, not as a personal explanation.
– The honorable member for Reid made a wilful and deliberate misstatement of fact when he said in this House to-night that I took shelter under his moratorium act. That is a.’ wilful and deliberate misstatement and is in keeping with the falsity of other statements made by the honorable member for Reid. As I pointed out previously, when the Bavin Government went to the country in. New South Wales, that honorable gentleman promised the electors that he would abolish the unemployment relief tax of 3d. in the £1, but when he was returned to power he increased the tax to ls. in the £1. He has been one of the greatest tragedies that this country has ever known, and it is one of the greatest regrets of my political life .that I followed him.
– The honorable member carried my button in his coat.
– I carried the button, to my. regret, but the honorable member left me and thousands of others carrying the baby. But the people of this country have placed him where he should be. He belongs to-day to the “ Splinter “ party. When I entered this House I remember him writing in his newspaper, the
Century, that I was a “oncer”. I- shall live to see the day when tire honorable member will be defeated and become a “ oncer “. His parly went to the country in New South Wales last Saturday with ton or twelve candidates; but I doubt whether it will be represented by any candidates in the new Parliament. I. think the people of this country are fully alive to the honorable member and the game he is playing in attacking the Australian Labour party. The honorable member’s stooges fought for him for years. I do not propose to say any more about him. Again I give a full and complete denial to his suggestion that during my business life of over twenty years I sought a moratorium of any kind. My business has always been solvent, but if I had followed the standards of the honorable member perhaps I should not have needed to take cover.
– I am somewhat amused by the attitude of some members of the Opposition. I do not include the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) in this category, but I do include the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), who has for a long time past, and particularly during the war years when accommodation in Sydney was so difficult to obtain, accused the Government of “spreading out” all over the city and needlessly occupying space which could have been made available to ex-servicemen who wished to re-establish themselves in business. Now, when if, is proposed that the Taxation Department should occupy portion of its own building and vacate other premises which might be made available to the ex-servicemen for whom he is so solicitous, he says that that is wrong. The plain fact is that in the view of the honorable member the Government is never right and never erin be right.
Possession was taken of Grace Building in August, 1942, under a hirings order issued under National Security Regulations, and during the war the building was used for United States Forces’ and Royal Navy and Commonwealth services. The property was acquired by the Commonwealth on the 8th November, 1945. by compulsory process, “ for the purposes of the Commonwealth “, while the building was still occupied by the defence services. It is a fact that the Repatriation Commission initiated the proposal to acquire the building, .but at no time has it been understood or intended that the building was for the exclusive use of the commission. Statements in the press that the appeal lodged, by Grace Brothers against the resumption was made mainly because it was planned to establish a repatriation clinic are not correct. The appeal was lodged solely against the Commonwealth power to acquire the property and the validity of the Lands
Acquisition. Act, and tailed on that ground.
Subsequent to acquisition, space in the building was allotted, as follows : -
Basement and ground floor - PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
First . floor - Department of Postwar Reconstruction and Department of .Labour and National Service.
Second floor - War Service Homes Commission.
Third floor - Department of Postwar Reconstruction.
Fourth to ninth floors - Repatriation Commission.
Tenth floor - Taxation Branch.
Eleventh floor - Repatriation Commission.
The tenth floor was originally allotted to the Repatriation Commission to be used in conjunction with the ninth and eleventh floors as a clinic. It was intended that the tenth and eleventh floors should be used as the outpatients’ department of the commission, but those floors are still occupied by the Royal Navy, which is now arranging to vacate. The very urgent need for additional space of other departments led to a reexamina1 ion of all allocations in the building by a sub-committee of Cabinet. Following an inspection of Randwick Hospital by Ministers and careful consideration of the matter by the Cabinet sub-committee, the Minister for Repatriation agreed that the Repatriation Commission should, in company with other departments in Sydney, reduce its present requirements to an absolute minimum and release the tenth floor for occupation by the Taxation Department on the understanding that it would revert to the commission at the earliest possible date. The allocation of the tenth floor to the Taxation Department is not considered as permanent. Further, those parts of the clinic intended to occupy the ninth and eleventh floors will do so. It is, therefore, not correct to say, as reported, that the occupation of the tenth floor by the Taxation Department has stopped the move of the clinic from Randwick.
That is the history of Grace Building up to three months ago.
– Who comprised the sub-committee of Cabinet?
– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), the Minister ‘ for the Interior (Mr. Johnson), the Minister for Information, and Immigration (Mr. Calwell) and myself–
Mk. Ha untso n .-n-Not one of whom has the slightest sympathy with exservicemen. 3fr. BARNARD. - I take great except lion to that statement. Because of my personal experience 1 have as much interest in ex-servicemen as the honorable member for Wentworth.
– If the ‘Minister had. he would not have let the floor go.
– The honorable member for Calare raised, in very temperate fashion, the matter of the outpatients’ clinic at Grace Building. It is perfectly true that when I became Minister for Repatriation the ninth, tenth and eleventh floors of that building were intended to be used as an out-patients’ clinic and the military hospital at Randwick was no longer to be used for that purpose. Randwick Hospital has been used as an out-patients’ clinic since World War I., and while it is a fact that it is out of the way, hard to reach and inconvenient, the fact remains that for many years past it has been used for that, purpose. It is also true that the fares of all out-patients who travel to Randwick are paid by the Repatriation Department. I agree with all that has been said about Randwick as an outpatient centre. It is unsuitably located and lacks conveniences. It would be ideal to have the out-patients treated at Grace Building in the centre of the city. The head office and the out-patients department would be under the one roof. The intention is that that ideal shall ultimately be realized. In any large city, however, it is hard to get accommodation for Commonwealth departments. The public has a similar problem as building has not kept pace with expansion of industry in the last few years. Because of expanded activities, the Taxation Department must have additional space. Sydney has been searched for it without avail. The Repatriation Commission was faced with the fact that it did have accommodation, admittedly unsatisfactory, at Randwick for out-patients. It was put to me th’at wc .should therefore try to squeeze up a little in Grace Building to allow the Taxation Department to have at least one floor until other accommodation could be found for it. I agreed. In fact I made the suggestion that if the department would he satisfied with one floor, and my colleagues in the Ministry agreed, they could have it I take full responsibility for the arrangement. I shelter behind no one. I agreed to the proposal and that decision will stand. As soon as the Royal Navy vacates the tenth and eleventh floors the Taxation Department will go on to the filth, and the eleventh will be occupied by a part of our out-patients department. 1 r was originally suggested that we should occupy the tenth floor, and not the eleventh, but because of the layout, of the eleventh planned by the Repatriation Commission we agreed to let the Taxation Department have the tenth. Whatever is said or done, and regardless of how many telegrams I receive and how many representations may be made >by honorable members, that arrangement will stand as far as I am concerned, because I believe it is the best that can be made in the circumstances. It gives equity to all concerned. Weeks ago I told a section of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia what was proposed. Only now are protests being lodged. Honorable members opposite are not the only people who have received telegrams. I have sheaves of them. I received many to-night. I believe that I am doing no injustice to ex-servicemen, because I think the Taxation Department’s occupancy of the tenth floor of Grace Building will not inconvenience the Repatriation Department for long. Statements that the Government lacks appreciation of the services of ex-servicemen and has no knowledge of, or interest in, them are irresponsible, and show little concern for, and do a disservice to, them.
– Will the eleventh floor be adequate for the whole out-patient treatment?
– No; I realize that. It will not provide for ‘all out-patients, but it will provide for X-ray and other technical treatment. Men needing that treatment will not have to go to Randwick any more Two things are being done: Attention is being provided for them in the central office ‘and congestion is being relieved at Randwick. Everything is being done to meet a difficult situation. Shortage of space is at the bottom of the problem. We are doing our best in this difficult period to give equitable treatment to every one concerned. As soon as the Taxation Department can be provided for elsewhere, it will vacate the tenth floor, because, as the Prime Minister said to me, “Grace Building is recognized as the home of exservicemen and is to be made available to them at the earliest possible date”.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of Supply and Shipping - W. D. Keating, D. F. Urquhart, J. E. Webb.
Re-establishment and Employment Act - Regulations - -Statutory Rules 1947. Nos- 51,- 52.
House adjourned at 11.23 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Shippinghas supplied the following information : -
s asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
On how many houses in each State has work been suspended for a month or more as a result of thenon-availability of some vital materials or fittings?
– To answer the question asked by the honorable member would involve considerable time and expenditure. It is a fact, however, that work has been suspended on a number of houses throughout the Commonwealth because of lack of materials, an experience which every country in the world seriously affected by the war is sharing in greater or lesser degree at the present time.
German Scientists and Technicians.
Mr.Turnbull asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice - 1.Is it a fact that a Mr. Cochrane, of the Department of Munitions, on a recent visit to tin rope, selected a number of German technicians and experts to visit Australia?
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Dr. Dannlat, scientist and inventor ofthe “Lurgi” process for the extraction of town gas from brown coal.
Herr Bruggermann. designing engineer, who designed the”Lurgi “ plant abovementioned.
Dr. K. F. Tettweiler. chemical engineer, possessing outstanding qualifications, who has been engaged in scientific teaching and scientific research in Germany. It is considered that his services will be of great value in respect of chemical and biochemical research in Australian universities and research institutions.
If it is later decided to obtain the services of other eminent German scientists and tech-‘ nicians for Australia, should such be practicable.I shall inform the House accordingly.
Re-establishment : Preference to ex-Servicemen.
asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -
Waterside Workers Federation to give preference to ex-servicemen in admitting 500 new members in Sydney?
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Department of Information.
Mr.Rankin asked the Minister for Information, upon notice -
How many officers of the Department of Information have been sent overseas since the 30th June, 1946?
What are their names, to what places were they sent, what positions are they filling, and what salaries and allowances do they receive?
Mr.Calwell. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
r asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
How many persons have been deported from the Commonwealth since the present Government took office,for: - (a), illegal entry into the Commonwealth; (b) criminal offences or criminal records; (c) health reasons; (d) connexion with” white slave” traffic: and (e) association with Communist or other political activities ?
– The answers tothe honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
l. - On the 29th April, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) asked the following question : -
I wish to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General a question which arises from the fact that many primary producers in my electorate are unable to keep their party’ telephone linos in order owing to lack of wire. The Minister will realize how valuable an adjunct a good’ telephone service is l.o primary producers, ls it possible to obtain wire for this purpose through the PostmasterGeneral’s Department? Would the PostmasterGeneral make supplies available from departmental stocks?
The Postmaster-General has now supplied the following information: -
In order to assist primary producers to keep their party telephone lines in order, or to extend co-operation to applicants for new services which are being wholly or part-privately erected, the Postal Department makes wire available in those cases where the persons concerned are unable to obtain it from ordinary commercial sources. The wire is sold l.o the applicants at cost price, and during the twelve months ended 30th April, 1947, is tons of wire were supplied to applicants in Victoria. “This arrangement, which has been in force for many years, applies throughout the Commonwealth.
Shipping: Queensland Services; “ Port Fairy “.
y. - On the 30th April the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard; Corser) asked a question regarding shipping services to Queensland, the Minister for Supply and Shipping’ has supplied the following information : -
Cargo outstanding for Queensland ports as al. 3rd May was approximately 30,000 tons from all main ports, not 250,000 as was stated. Against the cargo offering the Australian Shipping Board up to date has allotted tonnage to lift approximately 12,000 tons. The main accumulation is at the Port of Sydney, a.nd every effort is being made by the Australian Shipping Board to overcome the accumulation at this port. It is hoped that in the near future it will be possible to cover adequately all Queensland requirements.
On the 30th April the honorable member for Indi (Mi-. McEwen) asked a question concerning the vessel Port Fairy.
The Minister foi- Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information :- r
The agents for Port Fairy have advised that this vessel sustained some delay at Sydney as it was in port during the recent waterfront dispute. Whilst Port Fairy was in the Port of Sydney another of the company’s fleet arrived and for purely domestic reasons the agents despatched this latter vessel to Kew Zealand to pick up a consignment of meat, and Part Fairy was despatched to southern ports to load all available refrigerated cargo, and to stow the remaining compartments with apples. It is understood that approximately 05,000 cases of apples will he loaded on the ship.
Coral Sea Battle.
y. - On the 6th May the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Puller) asked a question regarding the commemoration of the Coral Sea Battle. I would inform the honorable member that the importance of the Coral Sea Battle as ‘ a major factor in the war against Japan is gratefully acknowledged by the people of Australia and will never be forgotten. However, Remembrance Day and Anzac Day have been specially dedicated to commemorate our participation in: the world wars. It is thought that these arrangements give ample opportunity to people of all nationalities in Australia collectively to express their feelings.
Oysters : Shipment to Singapore.
n. - On the 7th ‘May, the. honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) asked a question concerning the shipment of oysters to Singapore. The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information : -
From inquiries made into this matter it appears that the shipping company concerned has not received any application for space for the shipment of oysters to Singapore. Any such application if made would have to take its chance with ordinary commercial, shipments after Government requirements have been satisfied. The most recent vessel which loaded for Singapore, Marella, has all her freezer and cooler space allotted to service and civil affairs cargo and this position also applies to M angola which is the next vessel to load for Singapore. Generally speaking apart from refrigerated space there is little or no shortage of shipping space for Singapore .it the present time for ordinary cargoes.
y.- On the 30th April, the honorable member for Corangarnite (Mr. McDonald)asked a question, relating to the International Emergency Food Council. I am now able to supply the honorable member with the information desired, as follows: -
International Emergency Food Council and the name of the member representing each particular country: -
Chairman- Mr. L. A. H. Peters (Netherlands).
Vice-Chairman - Mr. J. C. Van Essche (Belgium ) .
Australia- Mr. J. U. Garside.
Austria - Mr. W. Goertz.
Belgium - Mr. Paul Kronacker.
Brazil - Mr. Edgard de Mello.
Canada - Hon. James C. Gardiner.
Chile - To bedesignated.
China - Mr. Chien Tien-ho.
Cuba - Hon. Guillermo Belt.
Czechoslovakia- Dr. Vojtech Schlesinger.
Denmark - Mr. S. Sorensen.
Egypt - Hon. An is Azer.
Finland - Mr. Artturi Lehtinen.
France - Mr. Eugene Demont .
Greece - Dr. Xenophen Zolotas.
India - Mr. J. Vesugar.
Italy - Hon. Alberto Tarchiani.
Mexico - Mr. Renato Cautu Lara
Netherlands - Mr. A. H. Boerma.
New Zealand- Mr. P. W. Marshall.
Norway - Mr. Ole Colhjornsen.
Poland - Mr. Zygmunt Litynski.
Portugal - Mr.Jose Freire d’Andrade.
Republic of the Philippines - Hon. Joaquin M. Eliza Ide.
Siam - Hon. L. D. Bhakdi.
Sweden - Mr. C. A. Malmacus.
Switzerland - Mr. Werner Fuchss.
Turkey - Mr. Ismail Kavadar.
Union of South Africa - Hon. H.T. Andrews.
United Kingdom - Mr. MauriceL. Hutton.
United States of America - Hon. Clinton P. Anderson.
FAO - Sir John Boyd Orr.
Unrra - Major-General Lowell W. Rooks.
Secretary-General - Dr. D. A. Fitzgerald.
y. - On the 17th April, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) asked a question regarding an alleged advance tax or surcharge of1 9 per cent, on leather. I am now able to supply the following information : -
The facts of the matter are that by Prices Regulation Order No. 1 the price of hides was raised by 20 per cent, above the levels ruling on 1st September,1939. This price increase is passed on by the merchants in the form of a”surcharge” varying in accordance with the differences in the costs of different types of leather. These “surcharges” range from 16 per cent, on sole leather to 201/2 per cent, on sheep skins.In no way is this “ surcharge” a tax or impost by the Government, it being purely a method of fixing a price schedule for leather based on the 1939 level of prices.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 May 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1947/19470508_reps_18_191/>.